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Why is a NASA Spacecraft Crashing Into an Asteroid?

In the first-of-its kind, save-the-world experiment, NASA is about to clobber a small, harmless asteroid millions of miles away.

A spacecraft named Dart will zero in on the asteroid Monday, intent on slamming it head-on at 14,000 mph (22,500 kph). The impact should be just enough to nudge the asteroid into a slightly tighter orbit around its companion space rock — demonstrating that if a killer asteroid ever heads our way, we’d stand a fighting chance of diverting it.

“This is stuff of science-fiction books and really corny episodes of “StarTrek” from when I was a kid, and now it’s real,” NASA program scientist Tom Statler said Thursday.

Cameras and telescopes will watch the crash, but it will take days or even weeks to find out if it actually changed the orbit.

The $325 million planetary defense test began with Dart’s launch last fall.

Asteroid target

The asteroid with the bull’s-eye on it is Dimorphos, about 7 million miles (9.6 million kilometers) from Earth. It is actually the puny sidekick of a 2,500-foot (780-meter) asteroid named Didymos, Greek for twin. Discovered in 1996, Didymos is spinning so fast that scientists believe it flung off material that eventually formed a moonlet. Dimorphos — roughly 525 feet (160 meters) across — orbits its parent body at a distance of less than a mile (1.2 kilometers).

“This really is about asteroid deflection, not disruption,” said Nancy Chabot, a planetary scientist and mission team leader at Johns Hopkins University’s Applied Physics Laboratory, which is managing the effort. “This isn’t going to blow up the asteroid. It isn’t going to put it into lots of pieces.” Rather, the impact will dig out a crater tens of yards (meters) in size and hurl some 2 million pounds (1 million kilograms) of rocks and dirt into space.

NASA insists there’s a zero chance either asteroid will threaten Earth — now or in the future. That’s why the pair was picked.

Dart, the impactor

The Johns Hopkins lab took a minimalist approach in developing Dart — short for Double Asteroid Redirection Test — given that it’s essentially a battering ram and faces sure destruction. It has a single instrument: a camera used for navigating, targeting and chronicling the final action. Believed to be essentially a rubble pile, Dimorphos will emerge as a point of light an hour before impact, looming larger and larger in the camera images beamed back to Earth. Managers are confident Dart won’t smash into the larger Didymos by mistake. The spacecraft’s navigation is designed to distinguish between the two asteroids and, in the final 50 minutes, target the smaller one.

The size of a small vending machine at 1,260 pounds (570 kilograms), the spacecraft will slam into roughly 11 billion pounds (5 billion kilograms) of asteroid. “Sometimes we describe it as running a golf cart into a Great Pyramid,” said Chabot.

Unless Dart misses — NASA puts the odds of that happening at less than 10% — it will be the end of the road for Dart. If it goes screaming past both space rocks, it will encounter them again in a couple years for Take 2.

Saving earth

Little Dimorphos completes a lap around big Didymos every 11 hours and 55 minutes. The impact by Dart should shave about 10 minutes off that. Although the strike itself should be immediately apparent, it could take a few weeks or more to verify the moonlet’s tweaked orbit. Cameras on Dart and a mini tagalong satellite will capture the collision up close. Telescopes on all seven continents, along with the Hubble and Webb space telescopes and NASA’s asteroid-hunting Lucy spacecraft, may see a bright flash as Dart smacks Dimorphos and sends streams of rock and dirt cascading into space. The observatories will track the pair of asteroids as they circle the sun, to see if Dart altered Dimorphos’ orbit. In 2024, a European spacecraft named Hera will retrace Dart’s journey to measure the impact results.

Although the intended nudge should change the moonlet’s position only slightly, that will add up to a major shift over time, according to Chabot. “So if you were going to do this for planetary defense, you would do it five, 10, 15, 20 years in advance in order for this technique to work,” she said. Even if Dart misses, the experiment still will provide valuable insight, said NASA program executive Andrea Riley. “This is why we test. We want to do it now rather than when there’s an actual need,” she said.

Asteroid missions galore

Planet Earth is on an asteroid-chasing roll. NASA has close to a pound (450 grams) of rubble collected from asteroid Bennu headed to Earth. The stash should arrive next September. Japan was the first to retrieve asteroid samples, accomplishing the feat twice. China hopes to follow suit with a mission launching in 2025. NASA’s Lucy spacecraft, meanwhile, is headed to asteroids near Jupiter, after launching last year. Another spacecraft, Near-Earth Asteroid Scout, is loaded into NASA’s new moon rocket awaiting liftoff; it will use a solar sail to fly past a space rock that’s less than 60 feet (18 meters) next year. In the next few years, NASA also plans to launch a census-taking telescope to identify hard-to-find asteroids that could pose risks. One asteroid mission is grounded while an independent review board weighs its future. NASA’s Psyche spacecraft should have launched this year to a metal-rich asteroid between Mars and Jupiter, but the team couldn’t test the flight software in time.

Hollywood’s take

Hollywood has churned out dozens of killer-space-rock movies over the decades, including 1998′s “Armageddon” which brought Bruce Willis to Cape Canaveral for filming, and last year’s “Don’t Look Up” with Leonardo DiCaprio leading an all-star cast. NASA’s planetary defense officer, Lindley Johnson, figures he’s seen them all since 1979′s “Meteor,” his personal favorite “since Sean Connery played me.” While some of the sci-fi films are more accurate than others, he noted, entertainment always wins out. The good news is that the coast seems clear for the next century, with no known threats. Otherwise, “it would be like the movies, right?” said NASA’s science mission chief Thomas Zurbuchen. What’s worrisome, though, are the unknown threats. Fewer than half of the 460-foot (140-meter) objects have been confirmed, with millions of smaller but still-dangerous objects zooming around. “These threats are real, and what makes this time special, is we can do something about it,” Zurbuchen said. Not by blowing up an asteroid as Willis’ character did — that would be a last, last-minute resort — or by begging government leaders to take action as DiCaprio’s character did in vain. If time allows, the best tactic could be to nudge the menacing asteroid out of our way, like Dart.


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As Shelters Fill, New York City Weighs Tents to House Migrants 

New York City’s mayor says he plans to erect hangar-sized tents as temporary shelter for thousands of international migrants who have been bused into the Big Apple as part of a campaign by Republican governors to disrupt federal border policies. 

The tents are among an array of options — from using cruise ships to summer camps — the city is considering as it struggles to find housing for an estimated 13,000 migrants who have wound up in New York after being bused north from border towns in Texas and Arizona. 

“This is not an everyday homelessness crisis, but a humanitarian crisis that requires a different approach,” New York Mayor Eric Adams said in a statement Thursday. 

New York City’s huge system of homeless shelters has been straining to accommodate the unexpected new flow of migrants seeking asylum in the United States. 

In Arizona and Texas, officials have loading people on buses for free trips to Washington and New York City. More recently, Florida, which has a Republican governor running for reelection, flew migrants — at public cost — to Martha’s Vineyard in Massachusetts. 

Adams said the city had opened 23 emergency shelters — and was considering 38 more — to handle the people bused into the city since May. The city also recently opened a new, multimillion-dollar intake center to help the newcomers quickly get settled. 

A rendering of the likely design of the tent facility, released by the city, showed rows and rows of cots. Presumably, the tent would be heated, as autumn nights in the city can be quite cool, but the city released few details. 

City officials said these facilities — which they call “humanitarian emergency response and relief centers — would house migrants for only up to four days while the city arranged other types of shelter. 

Advocates for the homeless were unsure how to react. 

“We just don’t have enough detail” to form an opinion, said Josh Goldfein, a staff attorney with the Legal Aid Society. “If the goal here is to sort of quickly assess what people need and get them connected to services that will help them, then that will be great.” 

But he said the proposal has yet to be fleshed out. 

“All we know is a location and a picture of a big tent,” he said.  

In a joint statement, the Legal Aid Society and the Coalition for the Homeless said they were working with city officials to come up with “a viable solution that satisfies New York’s legal and moral obligation to provide safe and adequate shelter to all who seek it, including asylum-seekers.” 

Earlier this month, Adams had suggested housing hundreds of migrants on cruise ships. 

Critics pounced on that idea, saying he needs to offer more lasting solutions to a problem that has long vexed the city: how to find permanent shelter for the city’s unhoused — not just new migrants but for the considerable population of the homeless. 

Overall, the number of people staying nightly in New York City’s homeless shelters had fallen in recent years, partly because of the COVID-19 pandemic. That led city officials to reduce shelter capacity, leaving the system unprepared for the sudden surge in people needing help.

Advocates for the homeless were unsure how to react. 


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Read Marco Rubio’s letter on North Korea


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CIA Unveils Model of Al-Qaida Leader Al-Zawahiri’s Hideout

The CIA on Saturday revealed the model of a safe house used to brief President Joe Biden about the whereabouts of al-Qaida leader Ayman al-Zawahiri before it killed him in a drone strike in Afghanistan.

Shortly after al-Zawahiri’s death, White House officials released a photo showing Biden talking to CIA Director William Burns with a closed wooden box on the table in front of them. Now, the contents of the box — a model depicting a white-walled home with at least five stories and three partially obscured balconies — are on display at the CIA Museum inside the agency’s Virginia headquarters.

The museum is closed to the public and access is generally limited to the agency’s employees and guests. The CIA allowed journalists to tour the museum, newly refurbished in time for the agency’s 75th anniversary, as part of a broader effort to showcase its history and achievements.

Most of the exhibits took years or decades to declassify. The al-Zawahiri model home is the rare artifact that had been used by intelligence officers just weeks beforehand.

Al-Zawahiri was killed in late July, nearly a year after the U.S. withdrawal from Afghanistan ending a two-decade war in which the CIA had a central role. The agency sent the first American forces two weeks after the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks. Two decades later, it pulled out intelligence assets and assisted in the chaotic evacuation of thousands of Americans and Afghan allies.

The Biden administration has said the strike shows it retains what it calls an “over-the-horizon” counterterrorism capacity in Afghanistan. Opponents of the administration and some analysts question whether al-Zawahiri’s presence in a Kabul neighborhood suggests extremist groups like al-Qaida or the Islamic State are growing stronger under the Taliban, who now rule the country.

The strike was particularly meaningful for the CIA, which lost seven employees in trying to find al-Zawahiri, a key plotter of the Sept. 11 attacks who was then al-Qaida’s second-in-command.

They were killed when a Jordanian doctor who pretended to have information about al-Zawahiri carried out a 2009 suicide bombing at a base in the Khost province in Afghanistan. The doctor was working for al-Qaida.

On display near the model of al-Zawahiri’s home are seven stars honoring the CIA employees slain in the Khost province. The stars were previously part of a memorial in Afghanistan that was taken down as the U.S. withdrew.

Other newly revealed artifacts include concept drawings for the fake film created as part of a 1980 operation to rescue American diplomats from Iran, the subject of the 2012 movie Argo starring Ben Affleck. There are also crew uniforms and other items from the Glomar Explorer, the Howard Hughes-built ship that served as cover for a 1970s mission to surface a sunken Soviet submarine carrying nuclear-armed ballistic missiles. (The story on the front page of the Los Angeles Times exposing the operation is reproduced on a nearby museum wall.)

The museum also includes some information on the agency’s darker moments, including its role in the ultimately false assertions that Iraq had weapons of mass destruction before the 2003 U.S. invasion, as well as the exposure and execution of several key spies the U.S. had in the Soviet Union.

Janelle Neises, the museum’s deputy director, says a running agency joke about the collection is that for most people, it’s “the greatest museum you’ll never see.”

The CIA wants to use its history to engage more with the public, albeit on the narrow terms one might expect of an intelligence service. The number of annual visitors to the museum, for example, is classified. Among the known guests are U.S. lawmakers, officers from other law enforcement and intelligence agencies, and foreign officials.

But CIA employees posted about some of the museum’s roughly 600 exhibits on social media. The agency also recently started a podcast with Burns, the CIA director, as its first guest.

A primary goal of the museum is to reinforce lessons from the agency’s successes and failures for the current workforce, Neises said. Some CIA veterans who served in the missions depicted in the museum donated artifacts to the collection. But the agency is now hiring officers in their 20s who are too young to remember the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks.

“The idea here is as you’re going to lunch or as you’re going to a meeting, leave 10 minutes early, leave 20 minutes early, and just take the time to look at one section and really learn about your history,” Neises said.


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NASA Scraps Tuesday Artemis Moon Launch Due to Storm

NASA has called off the scheduled Tuesday launch of its historic uncrewed mission to the moon due to a tropical storm that is forecast to strengthen as it approaches Florida.

After two previously canceled launch attempts, NASA is weighing returning the Artemis 1 mission rocket to its assembly site under the threat of extreme weather.

“NASA is forgoing a launch opportunity… and preparing for rollback (from the launchpad), while continuing to watch the weather forecast associated with Tropical Storm Ian,” it said Saturday.

The U.S. National Hurricane Center (NHC) said Ian is due to “rapidly intensify” over the weekend as it moves toward Florida, home to the Kennedy Space Center, from which the rocket is set to launch.

Currently south of Jamaica, the storm is expected to approach Florida’s west coast “at or near major hurricane strength” early next week, threatening storm surge, flooding and hurricane-force winds across much of the state, the NHC said.

On the launchpad, the giant orange and white Space Launch System (SLS) rocket can withstand wind gusts of up to 137 kilometers (85 miles) per hour. But if it has to be sheltered, the current launch window, which runs until October 4, will be missed.

A decision on whether to roll back the rocket to the Vehicle Assembly Building is due to be taken by the Artemis 1 team Sunday, “to allow for additional data gathering and analysis,” with the operation, if necessary, starting late Sunday or Monday morning, NASA said.

Jim Free, associate administrator for the agency’s exploration systems development directorate, said on Twitter that a “step-wise approach” to the decision to roll back preserves “a launch opportunity if conditions improve,” indicating a launch date before October 5 was still on the table.

If not, the next launch window will run from October 17 to 31, with one possibility of takeoff per day, except from October 24-26 and 28.

The Artemis 1 space mission hopes to test the SLS as well as the unmanned Orion capsule that sits atop it, in preparation for future Moon-bound journeys with humans aboard.

Artemis is named after the twin sister of the Greek god Apollo, after whom the first moon missions were named.

Unlike the Apollo missions, which sent only white men to the moon between 1969 and 1972, Artemis missions will see the first person of color and the first woman step foot on the lunar surface.

A successful Artemis 1 mission would come as a huge relief to the U.S. space agency, after years of delays and cost overruns.  

But another setback would be a blow to NASA, after two previous launch attempts were scrapped when the rocket experienced technical glitches including a fuel leak.

The cost of the Artemis program is estimated to reach $93 billion by 2025, with its first four missions clocking in at a whopping $4.1 billion each, according to a government audit.


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Minnesota Ojibwe Harvest Sacred, Climate-Imperiled Wild Rice

Seated low in her canoe sliding through a rice bed on this vast lake, Kendra Haugen used one wooden stick to bend the stalks and another to knock the rice off, so gently the stalks sprung right back up.

On a mid-September morning, no breeze ruffled the eagle feather gifted by her grandmother that Haugen wore on a baseball cap as she tried her hand at wild rice harvesting — a sacred process for her Ojibwe people.

“A lot of reservations are struggling to keep rice beds, so it’s really important to keep these as pristine as we can. … It renews our rice beds for the future,” the 23-year-old college student said.

Wild rice, or manoomin (good seed) in Ojibwe, is sacred to Indigenous peoples in the Great Lakes region, because it’s part of their creation story — and because for centuries it staved off starvation during harsh winters.

“In our origin story, we were told to go where food grew on water,” said Elaine Fleming, a Leech Lake Band of Ojibwe elder whose manoomin class at Leech Lake Tribal College went harvesting last week. “It’s our sacred food.”

But changing climate, invasive species and pollution are threatening the plant even as its cultivated sibling rises in popularity nationwide as an exceptionally nutritious food, though often priced out of reach of urban Indigenous communities.

Those threats make it crucial to teach young band members to harvest wild rice respecting both rituals and the environment. That will help wild rice remain available as an essential element for ceremonies, but also as a much-needed income generator for the Leech Lake reservation, where nearly 40% of Native residents live in poverty.

The basic instructions for newbies reflect that dual reality — respect the rice by not breaking the stems, and if you lose balance, jump out to avoid tipping the canoe with its precious cargo.

Fleming gave everyone tobacco from a zip-close bag. Before scattering it on the calm water and setting out, the youths gathered around another elder praying in Ojibwe — to introduce the group to the natural elements around them, explain why it needed their help, ask for safe passage on the water and give thanks.

“Any time you take something from the earth, you want to thank the earth for what she’s given us,” said Kelsey Burns, a student and first-time ricer.

That reciprocity between humans and nature is essential to Ojibwe spirituality. In their stories, the Creator, before bringing to the earth Anishinaabe, the first Indigenous person, gathered all animals to ask how they could help.

“Plants were listening and chimed in and said, ‘We have gifts too, so Anishinaabe can have a good life,'” Fleming explained. “Rice said, ‘We’ll feed Anishinaabe.'”

In two hours on the water, the pairs of polers, who stood steering with 20-foot poles, and knockers, who rained rice into the canoe until it formed a thick, green-brown carpet, gathered about 35 pounds. Experienced ricers can harvest a quarter ton a day.

This year, they can get $6 per pound of rice, a high price because the two-week harvest is particularly meager, said Ryan White. A 44-year-old single dad, he takes his two boys and a nephew ricing to help cover the bills and for the kids to buy video games.

“You learn the essence of hard work out here,” he said while knocking rice on a recent afternoon, with duct tape over his trousers’ hem and shoes so not a grain would be wasted.

“Cleaning the boat real good,” White explained later as he swiped the rice into a sack. “Because of stories we heard of old times, when … even a handful like this meant a meal or two for the kids, and at the end of winter it actually might save your family.”

“That manoomin is our brother, that saved us as a people many different ways,” said Dave Bismarck, who was loading about 200 pounds of just-harvested rice at a nearby landing. “Ricing to me is real spiritual. There’s a lot who have gone home already, and when I’m ricing, the harder I work … the closer I am to them.”

But the beds are “continually shrinking,” said White, who’s been ricing for three decades. And that endangers wild rice’s spiritual and economic gifts.

While some natural cycling is normal, bad years for wild rice are becoming more frequent, said Ann Geisen, a wildlife lake specialist with the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources (DNR).

“It seems to be tied to climate change,” she added. “Bigger storm events when it’s uprooted and wiped out, we seem to have more of these. A big bounce (in water levels) in the spring can wipe out an entire lake.”

A warming climate can also damage the plant, whose seeds need to be close to freezing on shallow lake bottoms for months to germinate well, and brings destructive invasive species and fungi to Minnesota, Wisconsin and parts of Canada, wild rice’s only natural habitats.

“It’s going to completely ravish natural stands,” said Jenny Kimball, a professor of agronomy and plant genetics at the University of Minnesota. She works on both conservation and developing more resistant breeds for cultivated wild rice growers, an industry she estimates adds about $58 million to the state economy and has far outpaced natural production for decades.

Most Ojibwe bands want to save natural stands, however, and several recently filed lawsuits fighting water contamination — including one dismissed this year in White Earth tribal court that named manoomin as the lead plaintiff in a novel “rights of nature” approach.

The suit accused the state of failing to protect water where wild rice grows by allowing the pumping of billions of gallons of groundwater from an oil pipeline project.

In July, two other northern Minnesota tribes sued the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency over its approval of state changes to water quality standards that the tribes allege would increase pollution and damage wild rice.

Leech Lake students and faculty discussed industrial pollution and controversial pipelines as they gathered outside the college for a feast celebrating their first day harvesting.

Before cooking the rice, they had to parch it, stirring it in a giant iron kettle for more than an hour; jiggle the husks loose by dancing over it as it lay in a hide-covered hole in the ground; and finally winnow it in birchbark baskets.

“We understand our responsibility, as nation, to this land. We’re supposed to think seven generations to the future,” Fleming said.

Burns, the student, was thinking of her son, who’s 5.

“I like learning everything that I can about our culture,” she said. “I didn’t learn much when I was younger, so I felt a part of me was missing. I want to keep teaching everything I learn.”


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Amended Autopsy: Black Man Died Due to Sedative, Restraint

A Black man died after a police encounter in a Denver suburb in 2019 because he was injected with a powerful sedative after being forcibly restrained, according to an amended autopsy report publicly released Friday.

Despite the finding, the death of Elijah McClain, a 23-year-old massage therapist, was still listed as undetermined, not a homicide, the report shows. McClain was put in a neck hold and injected with ketamine after being stopped by police in Aurora for “being suspicious.” He was unarmed.

The original autopsy report that was written soon after his death in August 2019 did not reach a conclusion about how he died or what type of death it was, such as if it was natural, accidental or a homicide. That was a major reason why prosecutors initially decided not to pursue charges.

But a state grand jury last year indicted three officers and two paramedics on manslaughter and reckless homicide charges in McClain’s death after the case drew renewed attention following the killing of George Floyd in 2020. It became a rallying cry during the national reckoning over racism and police brutality.

The five accused have not yet entered pleas and their lawyers have not commented publicly on the charges.

In the updated report, completed in July 2021, Dr. Stephen Cina, a pathologist, concluded that the ketamine dosage given to McClain, which was higher than recommended for someone his size, “was too much for this individual and it resulted in an overdose, even though his blood ketamine level was consistent with a ‘therapeutic’ blood concentration.”

He said he could not rule out that changes in McClain’s blood chemistry, like an increase in lactic acid, due to his exertion while being restrained by police contributed to his death but concluded there was no evidence that injuries inflicted by police caused his death.

“I believe that Mr. McClain would most likely be alive but for the administration of ketamine,” said Cina, who noted that body camera footage shows McClain becoming “extremely sedated” within a few minutes of being given the drug.

Cina acknowledged that other reasonable pathologists with different experience and training may have labeled such a death, while in police custody, as a homicide or accident, but that he believes the appropriate classification is undetermined.

Qusair Mohamedbhai, attorney for McClain’s mother, Sheneen McClain, declined a request for comment.

Dr. Carl Wigren, a forensic pathologist in Washington state, questioned the report’s focus on ketamine, saying all the available evidence — including a highly critical independent review of McClain’s death commissioned by Aurora last year — point to McClain dying as a result of compressional asphyxia, a type of suffocation, from officers putting pressure on his body while restraining him. He was struck by one passage in the city’s review citing the ambulance company’s report that its crew found McClain lying on the ground on his stomach, his arms handcuffed behind his back, his torso and legs held down, with at least three officers on top of him.

That scene was not captured on body camera footage, the report said, but much of what happened between police was not because the officers’ cameras came off soon after McClain was approached. The cameras did continue to record where they fell and captured people talking.

Just because McClain, who said he couldn’t breathe, could be heard making some statements on the footage, does not mean he was able to fully breathe, Wigren said. Ketamine, which slows breathing, could have just exacerbated McClain’s condition, but Wigren does not think it caused his death.

However, another pathologist, Dr. Deborah G. Johnson of Colorado, said McClain’s quick reaction to ketamine suggests that it was a cause of McClain’s death, but she said its use cannot be separated from the impact that the police restraint may have had. McClain may have had trouble breathing because of the restraint and having less oxygen in your system would make the sedative take effect more quickly, she said.

Both thought the death could have been labeled as a homicide — a death caused by the actions of other people — which they pointed out is a separate judgment from deciding whether someone should be prosecuted with a crime for causing it.

McClain got an overdose of ketamine, Johnson said, noting that the paramedics were working at night when it is hard to judge someone’s weight.

“Was that a mistake to send someone to prison for? I don’t think so,” she said.

The updated autopsy was released Friday under a court order in a lawsuit brought by Colorado Public Radio, joined by other media organizations including The Associated Press. Colorado Public Radio sued the coroner to release the report after learning it had been updated, arguing that it should be made available under the state’s public records law.

Coroner Monica Broncucia-Jordan said she could not release it because it contained confidential grand jury information and that releasing it would violate the oath she made not to share it when she obtained it last year.

But Adams County District Judge Kyle Seedorf ordered the coroner to release the updated report by Friday, and a Denver judge who oversees state grand jury proceedings, Christopher Baumann, ruled Thursday that grand jury information did not have be redacted from the updated report.

Cina noted that the report was updated based on extensive body camera footage, witness statements and records that he did not have at the time of the original autopsy report, which were not made available to the coroner’s office at all or in their entirety before. Last year, Cina and Broncucia-Jordan received some material that was made available to the grand jury last year, according to court documents, but they did not say what exactly that material was.

McClain’s death fueled renewed scrutiny about the use of the ketamine and led Colorado’s health department to issue a new rule limiting when emergency workers can use it.

Last year, the city of Aurora agreed to pay $15 million to settle a lawsuit brought by McClain’s parents. The lawsuit alleged the force officers used against McClain and his struggle to survive it dramatically increased the amount of lactic acid in his system, leading to his death, possibly along with the large dose of ketamine he was given.

The outside investigation commissioned by the city faulted the police probe into McClain’s arrest for not pressing for answers about how officers treated him. It found there was no evidence justifying officers’ decision to stop McClain, who had been reported as suspicious because he was wearing a ski mask as he walked down the street waving his hands. He was not accused of breaking any law.

Police reform activist Candice Bailey had mixed emotions about seeing the amended autopsy.

“I do believe that it does get us a step closer to anything that is a semblance of justice,” said Bailey, an activist in the city of Aurora who has led demonstrations over the death of McClain.

But Bailey added that she is “extremely saddened that there is still a controversy around whether or not the EMTs and officers should be held responsible for what they did, and as to whether or not this was actually murder.”


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Regional Fights Take Stage at UN Where Ukraine Has Dominated

Two of the world’s most persistent conflicts punctuated debate at the United Nations on Friday, as the annual gathering of world leaders deviated from the dominating issue of the war in Ukraine. 

Addressing hostilities thousands of miles apart and sharing little more than their decades of longevity, the Palestinian and Pakistani leaders nonetheless delivered similar messages, accusing a neighbor of brutality and urging world leaders to do more. 

“Our confidence in achieving a peace based on justice and international law is waning,” Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas said. “Do you want to kill what remains of hope in our souls?” 

Stark assessment

With Israel’s military occupation of the West Bank in its 55th year and no substantial peace talks in 13 years, it was a stark if perhaps unsurprisingly pessimistic assessment. Israel’s prime minister backed a two-state solution to the conflict in his own speech a day earlier, but there is almost no prospect for one in the near term. 

Speaking to the U.N. General Assembly after the Palestinian leader, Prime Minister Shahbaz Sharif of Pakistan similarly addressed a generations-old fight, accusing India of a “relentless campaign of repression” in Jammu and Kashmir. Those mountainous lands have been claimed by both sides since British rule of the subcontinent ended 75 years ago and India and Pakistan were born. 

Sharif urged world leaders and the U.N. to “play their rightful role” in resolving the fight and said India “must take credible steps,” too. 

India’s external affairs minister, S. Jaishankar, might provide a rebuttal to Sharif when he gets his turn at the rostrum on Saturday. India has called the region an integral part of its nation. 

Also Friday, Iraqi caretaker Prime Minister Mustafa Al-Kadhimi spoke of the “political impasse” gripping his country for nearly a year and preventing the formation of a new government. He called for “serious and transparent dialogue” among the various factions. 

And Bangladesh’s prime minister, Sheikh Hasina, repeated complaints that 1 million Rohingya refugees in crowded camps in her country are a threat to its security. 

“The situation can potentially fuel radicalization,” she said of those who fled a harsh crackdown by Myanmar’s military. 

Hasina has said that repatriation is the only solution to the crisis, but that Bangladesh would not force the refugees to go back to Myanmar, where members of the Muslim minority face extensive discrimination. 

Abbas’ frustration

Throughout the first three days and 104 leaders’ speeches, many criticized how Russia had managed to block U.N. action on Ukraine because of the veto it wields as a permanent member of the Security Council. Abbas shifted the attention to the power of Israel and its allies, which he said meant no matter how many hundreds of resolutions pass, none would be implemented. 

“Do you know who is protecting Israel from being held accountable? The United Nations,” he said in a speech more than three times the 15-minute limit leaders are asked to respect. 

Israel, in turn, has complained that it has been treated unfairly by the world body and has been held to a different standard from other member states, as when it comes to complaints about human rights violations. Its ambassador to the U.N., Joshua Lavine, issued a statement calling Abbas’ speech “a lie-filled rant.” 

Other refrains resounded in U.N. speeches, with repeated mentions of climate change, economic crises and inequality. The UNGA gathering is a rare moment for many leaders to grab the spotlight on a global stage dominated by the biggest, richest and most militarily mighty countries and issue calls for action. 

“The obligation of each leader before history is not to overlook failings and shortcomings in favor of wishful thinking or flattery,” President Nicos Anastasiades of Cyprus said Friday in his final General Assembly speech as leader of the Mediterranean island nation. 


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