Newly discovered comet likely an ‘interstellar visitor,’ NASA says

The discovery of a new comet scientists believe to be an “interstellar object” has set the astronomy community abuzz.

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If officially confirmed, the object would be only the second of its kind detected, according to a statement from NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory at the California Institute of Technology.

The newly found comet, dubbed C/2019 Q4, was discovered by Gennady Borisov, a Crimean astronomer working out of an observatory in Nauchnij, Crimea.

Scientists believe the comet to be interstellar after studying its trajectory and velocity.

“The comet’s current velocity is high, about 93,000 mph [150,000 kph], which is well above the typical velocities of objects orbiting the Sun at that distance,” Davide Farnocchia, an astronomer at the Jet Propulsion Laboratory, said in a statement.

“The high velocity indicates not only that the object likely originated from outside our solar system, but also that it will leave and head back to interstellar space,” he added.

The comet — consisting of an icy body surrounded by a cloud of dust and particles — is currently approaching the sun, but the closest it is projected to come towards Earth is about 190 million miles, according to the NASA statement.

It will be visible with professional telescopes in the coming months and “will peak in brightness in mid-December and continue to be observable with moderate-size telescopes until April 2020,” according to Farnocchia.

The first known interstellar object to visit our solar system, the history-making asteroid named the ‘Oumuamua, was discovered by astronomers in October 2017 and puzzled the scientific community at the time, even setting off since-debunked rumors of extraterrestrial activity.

‘Oumuamua is a Hawaiian name for “a messenger from afar arriving first” and has been described by astronomer Paul Chodas of NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory as “a strange visitor from a faraway star system, shaped like nothing we’ve ever seen in our own solar system neighborhood.”

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Brooklyn man charged with hate crime in attack on 63-year-old Jewish man

A 26-year-old man has been arrested and charged with a hate crime in connection to an attack on a 63-year-old Jewish man in a Brooklyn park, police said Thursday.

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Oniel Gilbourne, of Brooklyn, was charged with assault as a hate crime and criminal possession of a weapon following the Aug. 27 attack on the man, whose name was not released, according to the New York City Police Department. Gilbourne was hospitalized after his arrest, but police did not say why or where.

ABC News was unable to reach Gilbourne for comment. It’s unclear if he’s obtained an attorney.

The man attacked was wearing a yarmulke when he was punched by the suspect, a spokesperson for the New York Police Department told ABC News.

The victim’s son-in-law said he heard the suspect “was yelling ‘dirty Jew,’ which makes it very painful.”

“My father-in-law has a big beard. My father-in-law is very easily identifiable as a Hasidic Jew. My father-in-law speaks English with a very heavy Israeli accent,” Benny Friedman, the son-in-law, said.

There was not a verbal or physical interaction between the two prior to the fight, police said.

The victim was taken to Maimonides Hospital and has since been released. He suffered a laceration to his forehead and had his two front teeth knocked out. Friedman also said his father-in-law’s nose was broken in two places and his leg was injured.

According to NYPD records, there have been 145 anti-Semitic hate crime complaints between Jan. 1 and Aug. 25 of this year throughout New York City. By comparison, there were 88 such complaints during the same time period in 2018.

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Alleged El Paso gunman indicted for capital murder by grand jury

Patrick Crusius, the alleged gunman in the El Paso shooting, has been indicted for capital murder by a grand jury in Texas.

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Crusius, 21, allegedly cased the Walmart — located near the U.S.-Mexico border — to size up the clientele prior to carrying out the attack that killed 22 people and injured dozens more on Aug. 3, according to authorities. He allegedly told investigators following his arrest that he set out to kill as many Mexicans as he could.

Crusius also allegedly wrote a “manifesto” that discussed his hate for immigrants and Mexicans prior to the massacre.

El Paso County District Attorney Jaime Esparza announced the capital murder charge, the “highest” in the state of Texas, in a press release on Thursday. Esparza will seek the death penalty, according to the release.

Weeks before the shooting, Crusius’ mother contacted police to express concern over her son owning an assault rifle due to his age, maturity level and lack of experience, the family’s attorneys, Chris Ayres and R. Jack Ayres, told ABC News in August.

The Crusius family lives in Allen, Texas, a suburb of Dallas, about 650 miles east of El Paso.

Crusius was placed on suicide watch at the El Paso County Detention Facility on Aug. 19, ABC El Paso affiliate KVIA reported. Previously, he was being held in a single 7-by-11-foot cell due to the “danger” he faced from the general population, according to the local station.

ABC News could not immediately reach an attorney for Crusius.

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Driver suffers ‘sudden cardiac death’ before school bus crash that injured students

A man in Mississippi suffered a medical emergency before the school bus he was driving crashed, leaving several children injured on a Mississippi highway, according to authorities.

The children were on their way to classes Tuesday morning in Benton County when the bus rolled several times before overturning and ending up in a ditch off Highway 72, Mississippi Highway Patrol said.

“Shortly before 8:30 this morning, we received notice that we would be getting multiple injured children from a bus crash down in Mississippi. We’ve so far received eight children and four of those by air ambulance, two by ground ambulance, and two by private vehicle that were brought in by their parents. They have all been seen, assessed and examined, and we’re currently treating their injuries,” said trauma medical director Regan Williams at a news conference Tuesday at Le Bonheur Children’s Hospital.

Williams said that four were going to require admission to the hospital and were considered serious but not critical.

“The other four have very minor or no injuries and will likely go home today,” Williams said.

Mississippi Highway Patrol said the eight students ranged in age from 7-13.

“The driver was pronounced dead at the scene,” Cpl. Jason Roe said during a news conference.

Benton County coroner Larry Hobson told ABC News the official cause of death of the bus driver is “sudden cardiac death.” Hobson said the driver “clutched his chest and slumped over,” according to the students on the bus.

Hobson and Mississippi Highway Patrol identified the bus driver as 63-year-old William Chester Cole. No autopsy will be performed, according to Hobson.

Williams said that none of the children had been ejected from the bus but that they’d sustained their injuries from being bounced around the vehicle during the crash.

David Lloyd said that his daughter, an eighth-grade student, had a broken ankle, leg and jaw but would still survive.

“Just a little devastated but at least the good Lord was with everybody and had their hands on everybody,” Lloyd told ABC News affiliate WATN-TV. “Just keep everybody in thoughts and prayers.”

Superintendent Steve Bostick said that Cole had worked for the school district for about five years.

“He’s one of the most dependable drivers we have in the district and like I said, he’s a very hard-working man,” Bostick told WATV-TV. “I’m sorry that this happened. I give my regards to the family.”

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Texas Monthly announces dream job: Taco Editor. (Yes, it’s taken.)

What’s better than spending all day thinking about, writing about and eating tacos?

Getting paid for it.

That’s now the privilege of José R. Ralat, a Dallas-based food writer who on Tuesday was named Texas Monthly’s first Taco Editor.

“José is one of the foremost experts on tacos in the state and the country,” the magazine’s executive editor, Kathy Blackwell, wrote in a statement. “We are thrilled to have him join our growing editorial team, and to share with our readers his wealth of knowledge about the amazing variety of foods that can be tucked into a tortilla.”

The magazine noted that Ralat has spent 10 years blogging about tacos and previously had written about the prized foodstuff for the magazine.

This is not the magazine’s first cuisine-specific position. Rilat’s hiring follows the appointment of Daniel Vaughn as the magazine’s barbecue editor earlier in the decade. (Disclosure: I interned at Texas Monthly at the time and pitched in on their barbecue app.)

The market is now wide open for a rival publication to create a Burrito Editor position, as burritos are objectively better than tacos.

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1 dead, 8 rescued hiking in Malibu heat

One hiker died from heat stroke and eight others were rescued on Monday afternoon, according to the Malibu Search and Rescue Team.

Officials joined forces to help save the hikers, who were located on four different cliff sides in the Zuma Canyon area.


The LA County Sheriff’s Department had asked that the public avoid the area due to 911 calls from hikers who’d run out of water.

Despite life-saving efforts, an adult male did not survive the heat, according to Malibu SAR.

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More than 54,000 citations issued in Maryland for passing school buses

After more than 54,000 citations were issued last year in to drivers who blew past school buses with stop signs extended in Montgomery County, Maryland, all buses this year will be outfitted with safety cameras.

Negligent drivers may see fines of up to $500, too, officials said.

The Montgomery County Department of Police on Friday released footage of a dozen such incidents in the wake of releasing a video showing a 16-year-old girl being struck by a car as she made her way toward a school bus.

The teen girl is seen being tossed onto the hood of the car, which reverses back toward the scene of the accident after the girl picked herself up and sprinted back toward the vehicle that dropped her off.

Capt. Thomas Didone told ABC News the videos are being distributed in part to “warn and alert drivers, parents and school children of dangers.”

“The failure by drivers to stop for school buses can result in catastrophic consequences,” the department said in a statement. “There is absolutely no reason to hurry and drive impatiently that is worth the loss of or injury to any of our children.”

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Athletics: US sprint star Coleman risks ban over missed drug tests, say reports

LOS ANGELES (AFP) – United States sprint star Christian Coleman could face suspension after failing to make himself available for three drugs tests, multiple reports said on Thursday (Aug 22).

Coleman, 23, the fastest man in the world over 100m this year and the favourite for next month’s World Championships in Qatar, has missed three separate tests in the past 12 months.

Britain’s Daily Mail and The Times newspaper reported that Coleman, a late withdrawal from last Sunday’s Diamond League meeting in Birmingham, is challenging one of the alleged “whereabouts” failures.

Under internationally recognised anti-doping rules, athletes are required to make their exact whereabouts known to drug-testers up to 90 days in advance in order to facilitate out-of-competition testing.

Athletes who fail to make themselves available for three drug tests are treated the same as athletes who fail a drug test and face an automatic suspension.

Any suspension of Coleman would represent another bodyblow against athletics just as the sport attempts to move on from the Russian doping scandal.

Coleman, the world record holder over 60m and world indoor 60m champion, has emerged as the most likely successor to Usain Bolt following the Jamaican sprint king’s retirement in 2017.

Coleman was a silver medallist at the 2017 World Championships in London behind mentor Justin Gatlin, and has a personal best of 9.79sec. He has the quickest 100m time of 2019 with a world leading 9.81sec set in Stanford, California in June.

The circumstances of Coleman’s alleged missed tests were not revealed.

Coleman’s agent, Emanuel Hudson, did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

The United States Anti-Doping Agency, meanwhile, would not confirm a case involving Coleman.

“In general, for any potential violation a full investigation will be conducted and the case must be resolved before information is made public by USADA,” a spokesman told AFP.

OLYMPIC BAN THREAT

Depending on the dates of Coleman’s missed tests, if confirmed, he could miss the world championships and the 2020 Tokyo Olympics.

Other athletes who have been suspended following three missed drugs tests include 2016 Olympics 100m hurdles champion Brianna Rollins-McNeal.

Rollins-McNeal was banned for a year by USADA after missing three tests in 2016 – two of them after she forgot to update her whereabouts details while attending a fete in in her honour held in her hometown and another when travelling to the White House to meet President Barack Obama for a reception.

However some athletes have successfully staved off a possible suspension after three missed tests. In 2016, British cyclist Lizzie Deignan, then Lizzie Armitstead, escaped suspension after taking her case to the Court of Arbitration for Sport.

Deignan argued that one of her three missed tests should be declared invalid because a doping control officer had not followed procedures correctly and tried hard enough to locate her.

Coleman’s failure to notify testers of his whereabouts was greeted with scepticism by US distance runner Kara Goucher on Thursday.

“Missing 3 tests in a 12 month period is bad,” Goucher wrote on Twitter.

“You can literally text an update of your location at any time. Will be interesting to see if he is able to dispute one of the missed tests.”

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Wildlife officials investigating mysterious cases of stumbling panthers

Wildlife officials in Florida are investigating a disorder detected in some panthers and bobcats that is causing them to stumble.

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Several large cats in the state have exhibited “some degree of walking abnormally or difficulty coordinating their back legs,” according to a release from the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission.

The FWC has confirmed neurological damage in one panther and one bobcat so far, officials said. In addition, images of eight young panthers, mostly kittens, and one adult bobcat — all displaying “varying degrees” of the condition — have been captured from multiple locations in Collier, Lee and Sarasota counties.

Another panther that could be affected was photographed in Charlotte County but has not yet been captured.

Officials have not determined a “definitive cause” of the condition but are testing for various potential toxins, including rat poison, as well as infectious diseases and nutritional deficiencies, according to the release.

“While the number of animals exhibiting these symptoms is relatively few, we are increasing monitoring efforts to determine the full scope of the issue,” Gil McRae, director of the FWC’s Fish and Wildlife Research Institute, said in a statement. “Numerous diseases and possible causes have been ruled out; a definitive cause has not yet been determined. We’re working with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and a wide array of experts from around the world to determine what is causing this condition.”

The announcement came a year after a nature photographer in South Florida noticed that panthers and bobcats that appeared on his trail cameras had difficulty walking, the Tampa Bay Times reported.

The FWC has asked the public to submit any trail footage or other video that captures animals that appear to have problems with their rear legs.

About 130 panthers, the state animal, are left in Florida, and the species remains endangered, according to the National Wildlife Federation.

Additional information was not immediately available.

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Parents claim school staff laughed while coloring student’s head with marker

A Texas family filed a federal lawsuit against their son’s school district on Sunday, accusing it of discriminating against the boy by drawing on his scalp with a permanent marker in an effort to bring his haircut up to code.

The lawsuit, which names the Pearland Independent School District and three staff members as defendants, claims school officials at Berry Miller Junior High in Pearland, Texas, laughed as they used a black Sharpie to fill in the line designs in seventh grader Juelz Trice’s hair without his consent.

In April, a staffer allegedly told Juelz, 13, that his haircut, which the suit described as a “common African American ‘fade’ haircut with innocuous line design,” violated the school’s dress code and sent him to the discipline clerk’s office.

That’s when he was allegedly told that he would be put in school suspension or the line design in his haircut would be immediately filled in with marker, according to the civil claim. The lawsuit said neither the principal nor the discipline clerk contacted the boy’s parents before taking action.

“The Berry Miler Junior High School officials laughed as they took many minutes to color the 13 year-old Juelz’s scalp which then took many days of scrubbing to come off. Juelz was immensely humiliated and shamed,” Randall Kallinen, the family’s attorney, said in a statement. “The school officials did not phone Juelz Trice’s parents or hold any hearing as required by law. Had they been phoned, Juelz’s parents would have shortened Juelz’s hair to get rid of the line design and he would have been back at school the same morning.”

Pearland ISD amended their dress code hairstyle policy in the wake of the incident, but the boy’s parents said that isn’t enough and accused the school of racial discrimination, according to the lawsuit. After the incident, the involved staff did not receive training on Constitutional law regarding students, the Pearland dress code or racial sensitivity, the suit alleged.

“When it first happened, I was very upset because I didn’t find out until after he got off the bus and he got into the car and said, ‘Look what they did to my head,'” Juelz’s mother, Angela Washington, told ABC’s Houston station KTRK.

Juelz father, Dante Trice, said the school could have put him at medical risk by putting chemicals on open pores.

“It was wide open because he had just got his hair cut the day before, so it was wide open,” said Dante Trice told KTRK. “I’m totally disappointed. Totally disappointed.”

“They were very apologetic, but it still happened. … You know, for an adult, no one should think that’s the correct way to handle a situation,” the boy’s mother added.

Pearland ISD said, outside of media reports, it had not been notified about the lawsuit as of Monday evening.

It previously said it was “extremely disappointed” with how the situation was handled and had placed the school’s campus administrator on administrative leave.

“A campus administrator mishandled disciplinary action by giving the student options including notifying his mother, disciplinary consequences or filling in the shape of the hair carving with a marker,” a spokesperson said in April. “This latter practice is not condoned by the district and does not align with appropriate measures for dress code violations.”

The lawsuit seeks an unspecified amount in compensatory damages.

ABC News’ Scottye Kennedy contributed to this report.

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