Friends were gathered to see some of the biggest names in country music.
They buzzed about it on social media, posting pictures under the Las Vegas sun in cowboy hats and Route 91 Harvest Festival t-shirts.
The three-day country music festival that drew an estimated 22,000 people ended in tragedy as singer Jason Aldean performed the last act Sunday night. On social media, excitement around the big-name acts quickly turned to horror as news of shots fired started to spread.
Here’s how it unfolded on social media, from the light-hearted posts of fun-loving fans to the survivors telling loved ones: I’m safe.
— Al Skop (@alskop) October 2, 2017
— MGM Resorts (@MGMResortsIntl) October 1, 2017
— Route 91 Harvest (@Route91Harvest) October 1, 2017
Jake Owen was scheduled to play at 8 p.m. local time, or around 11 p.m. Eastern time.
— Kala Withrow (@kalawithrow) October 2, 2017
Jason Aldean was closing the festival. He was scheduled to take the stage at 9:40 p.m. local time, or 12:40 a.m. Eastern time.
— Talkinghops (@TalkinghopsLV) October 2, 2017
— JLowe (@aboveDlinemedic) October 2, 2017
Met a cute guy during a Jake Owen concert and didn't ask for his number. Now he's the one that got away #Route91
— Sarah Beaver (@sarahbeaverr) October 2, 2017
Jason Aldean was reportedly seven or eight songs into his set when the first gunshots were fired. Videos show Aldean running off the stage.
Active shooter and Route 91 Harvest Festival, stay safe you guys https://t.co/6os9ExGqBT
— (@samjohnperry) October 2, 2017
Social media users at the scene took to Twitter to warn others. Those learning of the news from afar used the platform to seek information about loved ones.
Just walked out of Route 91 and heard lots of gunshots. Mandalay is on lockdown. Hope everyone is safe #route91harvest
— Joe Ward (@jimmyluvs73) October 2, 2017
We're investigating reports of an active shooter near/around Mandalay Bay Casino. Asking everyone to please avoid the area. #LVMPDnews
— LVMPD (@LVMPD) October 2, 2017
Shooting at route 91 call your loved one
— Kt (@kaatiebrianna) October 2, 2017
Active Shooter at Route 91 Festival in Vegas. Stay safe.
— Allison Griffith (@allieg8er33) October 2, 2017
Active shooter at Mandalay Bay. En route to scene
— Chase Stevens (@CSStevensphoto) October 2, 2017
Shooting in Las Vegas. People fleeing (video from the Mandalay Bay hotel) pic.twitter.com/hs98J5uK6T
— Eiki Hrafnsson (@EirikurH) October 2, 2017
We're investigating reports of an active shooter near/around Mandalay Bay Casino. Asking everyone to please avoid the area. #LVMPDnews
— LVMPD (@LVMPD) October 2, 2017
— Bernie Deyo (@EPN473) October 2, 2017
Shooting at Route 91 concert. I was fortunate enough to get away safely. We hid in a metal building while shots hit the building. Very sad pic.twitter.com/YoJ5BIhBmL
— Michael Seiden (@mseidenpga) October 2, 2017
Nothing is confirmed, but scanner traffic indicates multiple fatalities at the Mandalay Bay.
— Max Michor (@MaxMichor) October 2, 2017
OMG never ever did I think I could witness this I'm so thankful my sister & I are okay!! I pray for all effect #rt91harvest
— tara (@sd2lvtwin) October 2, 2017
Please avoid heading to the south end of the Strip. Las Vegas Blvd is shut down at Tropicana, southbound past Russell Rd at this time.
— LVMPD (@LVMPD) October 2, 2017
People just started running outside the New York New York – we heard what sounded like gunshots just now
— Max Michor (@MaxMichor) October 2, 2017
— Joel Angel Juárez (@jajuarezphoto) October 2, 2017
The scanner for Las Vegas Police right now is INSANE. #MandalayBay "I have 20 419's on the stage." 419 is casualties. Jason Aldean concert.
— Coop (@ProducerCoop) October 2, 2017
The video of Jason Aldean being cut off by gun fire and the screams that followed is absolutely haunting. Just unreal.
— Brandon McCauley (@bpmccauley) October 2, 2017
Does anyone know if #JasonAldean or any of his band members are among the injured?
— Christie (@EarthAwareness) October 2, 2017
I15 freeway is closed to traffic at this time from Tropicana to Russell Rd. Again, please avoid the area.
— LVMPD (@LVMPD) October 2, 2017
Some flights destined for @LASairport were diverted due to police incident. Please check with your air carrier if flying/picking up tonight.
— McCarran Airport (@LASairport) October 2, 2017
Please avoid the south end of the Strip. Very sad night for Las Vegas. https://t.co/1Cwb10fwEC
— City of Las Vegas (@CityOfLasVegas) October 2, 2017
Praying for everyone here in Vegas. I witnessed the most unimaginable event tonight. We are okay. Others arent. Please pray.
— Jake Owen (@jakeowen) October 2, 2017
We can CONFIRM Jason Aldean & Wife Brittany are SAFE. #Vegas
— Double•L (@RadioLois) October 2, 2017
By 3 a.m., police had found the shooter, later identified as Stephen Paddock, dead inside his hotel room on the 32nd floor of the Mandalay Bay casino-hotel tower. He had apparently used a hammer-like device to break the windows before opening fire on the crowd about 400 yards away.
At this time we do not believe there are any more shooters. More information to come shortly from @Sheriff_LVMPD.
— LVMPD (@LVMPD) October 2, 2017
every body please pray for natalia and gianna , they both got shot a route 91 . they are being brought to the hospital right now
— Maddy Devine (@maddy_devine) October 2, 2017
Don Bond talks about hearing gunshots. pic.twitter.com/mofOswQRHW
— Blake Apgar (@blakeapgar) October 2, 2017
— Evan Schreiber (@SchreiberEvan) October 2, 2017
I just heard from Jason Aldean. They are all safe and surrounded by SWAT security. However, he said it is the most horrific thing he's seen!
— Travis Tritt (@Travistritt) October 2, 2017
In the early morning hours on the East Coast, videos and photos continued to make their way to social media. News outlets first reported 20 dead and 100 injured, with expectations those numbers would rise.
— MsRedPill (@saneplanet) October 2, 2017
We’re searching for two vehicles associated with the shooter: Hyundai Tucson Nevada/114B40 and a Chrysler Pacifica Nevada/79D401. https://t.co/pVyGvN7ZqV
— LVMPD (@LVMPD) October 2, 2017
Nearly two dozen @LASairport flights diverted to other airports overnight. If traveling Monday morning, please check status w/ your airline.
— McCarran Airport (@LASairport) October 2, 2017
Scary. Route 91 Harvest Festival shooting in Las Vegas. pic.twitter.com/LiUyhLo68e
— Chandler (@TheChanTheMan) October 2, 2017
Gun shots were ringing off of the stage rigging and road cases. No one knew where to go..thank you LVPD and responders for keeping us safe
— Jake Owen (@jakeowen) October 2, 2017
Tonight has been beyond horrific. I still dont know what to say but wanted to let everyone know that Me and my Crew are safe. My Thoughts and prayers go out to everyone involved tonight. It hurts my heart that this would happen to anyone who was just coming out to enjoy what should have been a fun night. #heartbroken #stopthehate
The number of dead increases to 50, and later 58. The number of injured will later grow from 200 to more than 500. As some details about the shooter emerge, still little is known about the victims, but survivors — and their loved ones at home — start to announce that they are safe.
Sheriff Joe Lombardo said "in excess of" 50 people killed.
Shooter's name is Stephen Paddock
— Mike Shoro (@mike_shoro) October 2, 2017
just spoke to my dad on the phone after 4 hrs of not knowing if he was safe. his room @ the mandalay bay was 1 floor beneath the shooter..
— sarah (@elliottspliff) October 2, 2017
I was at Mandalay Bay when the shooting occurred.
— Liz (@lisreyes_) March 25, 2017
So crazy my aunt was at Mandalay Bay last night!! She's safe and god is good❤ pic.twitter.com/nK6IjMhl0P
— alexis (@alexxismccarthy) October 2, 2017
Please Pray For Vegas
We are safe – I was inside the Mandalay Bay last night watching a band as the shooting… https://t.co/EGdjYWfK3o
— Todd Clark (@toddclark) October 2, 2017
Hurricane Maria has devastated Puerto Rico, but the full picture of the damage and the grim situation facing residents is still unclear. Loss of power and phone service to nearly the entire island has made communication spotty so many Americans have yet to hear from family and friends there. Here’s what you need to know about storm’s damage and how you can help:
The storm immediately left nearly all 3.4 million people without basic necessities like water and power.
The storm tore up the U.S. territory on Sept. 20, killing at least 34 people and leaving nearly all 3.4 million people in Puerto Rico without power and most without water.
Gov. Ricardo Rossello has said he believes the hurricane caused $90 billion in damage across the island.
The storm smashed poles, downed power lines and damaged electricity-generating plants, knocking out a grid that would be considered antiquated on the United States mainland.
Generators are providing power to the fortunate few who have them.
This is without a doubt the biggest catastrophe in modern history for Puerto Rico
– Gov. Ricardo Rossello
Conditions in Puerto Rico remain dire.
Food and water shortages plague the island amid the widespread power outage. Communications are spotty and roads are clogged with debris.
Flights are infrequent.
"It's inhumane" what's happening at the airport in San Juan, a nurse from Little Rock, Arkansas told me – they need food, water and fans. pic.twitter.com/Fcm3QBiMVB
— David Begnaud (@DavidBegnaud) September 25, 2017
Officials said electrical power may not be fully restored for more than a month.
Many others are also waiting for help from anyone from the federal or Puerto Rican government.
But the scope of the devastation is so broad, and the relief effort so concentrated in San Juan, that many people from outside the capital say they have received little to no help.
“The devastation in Puerto Rico has set us back nearly 20 to 30 years,
– Puerto Rico Resident Commissioner Jenniffer Gonzalez.
“I can’t deny that the Puerto Rico of now is different from that of a week ago. The destruction of properties, of flattened structures, of families without homes, of debris everywhere. The island’s greenery is gone,” Gonzalez said.
The island’s economy and infrastructure were in sorry shape long before Maria struck.
A $73 billion debt crisis has left agencies like the state power company broke. As a result the power company abandoned most basic maintenance in recent years, leaving the island subject to regular blackouts.
The future looks grim as it’s feared that financial losses from the storm and the inability of young people to find work will perpetuate economic turmoil.
Tax collections will drop, and Puerto Rico’s tourism industry “will not recover for some time,” according to James Eck, a vice president with the credit-rating agency Moody’s.
With no power, more young workers may leave Puerto Rico for better opportunities elsewhere.
That would further a vicious cycle already underway, where fewer workers means less tax revenue, which hurts the economy, which encourages even more people to leave. Puerto Rico’s population dropped by 8 percent from 2010 through the middle of 2016.
How to help
While the urge to donate clothes and other supplies is natural, money is the best way to contribute during times of disaster, charities and philanthropy experts say.
Donating directly through a website gets money to a charity faster than a text donation, even though the text might seem easier.
Places to donate money
Puerto Rico’s first lady, Beatriz Rossello, has launched an emergency fund with help from private companies. United for Puerto Rico (Unidos Por Puerto Rico) lets you donate through PayPal or directly to its bank account.
More on what’s needed
Still, there’s never a time and place for supplies. Diapers, for example, are often requested, as are construction supplies.
Here is the government of Puerto Rico’s full guide on how to help: United for Puerto Rico
How the United States is responding
- President Donald Trump visited storm-ravaged Puerto Rico on Tuesday, touting the federal response amid power, food and water shortages, but also making what critics saw as insensitive comments about the struggling island. Trump congratulated Puerto Ricans for avoiding a high death toll of “a real catastrophe like Katrina.” As many as 1,800 people died in 2005 when Hurricane Katrina breached levees protecting New Orleans
- The Trump administration is temporarily waiving the Jones Act, which prohibits foreign-flagged ships from shuttling goods between U.S. ports, for Puerto Rico.
- The federal government will pick up 100 percent of the costs for debris removal and other emergency assistance. U.S. states and territories typically cover 25 percent of the costs, with the federal government paying the remaining 75 percent.
- Active-duty military forces have been sent in to help relief efforts.
- Part of the $15 billion Congress passed early this month for hurricanes Harvey and Irma relief also applied to Puerto Rico.
- A group of Democratic senators has requested that Congress immediately take up a supplemental spending bill to be able to send more aid to Puerto Rico.
Citizens of more than half a dozen countries will face new restrictions on entry to the U.S. under a proclamation signed by President Donald Trump this week that will replace his expiring travel ban.
The new rules will go into effect on October 18, and range from an indefinite ban on visas for citizens of countries like Syria to more targeted restrictions.
But critics say it’s a mystery why some countries are included and they believe some new countries were added to provide legal and political cover for what they say remains a “Muslim ban.”
The travel ban into the United States should be far larger, tougher and more specific-but stupidly, that would not be politically correct!
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) September 15, 2017
Who does the new ban affect?
The new restrictions cover citizens of Chad, Iran, Libya, North Korea, Somalia, Syria, and Yemen — and some Venezuelan government officials and their families.
The last iteration of the ban covered people from Iran, Libya, Somalia, Sudan, Syria and Yemen.
What are the restrictions based on?
The restrictions are based on new baseline factors such as whether countries issue electronic passports with biometric information to prevent fraud and report information about potential terror threats. That baseline was shared with countries across the globe, and they were given 50 days to comply.
Those that failed to satisfy the “objective process of measuring whether countries met the baseline” are now subject to new restrictions.
What you need to know about the countries included
1. Some, such as Iran and Syria, pose legitimate national security threats to the United States and refuse to cooperate with U.S. consular investigations.
2. Another category includes countries such as Yemen and Libya, where local authorities have sought to be as cooperative as possible but lack full control over their territory and the basic ability to provide the information the United States wants. In those cases, officials said, the United States tried to stress that inclusion on the list wasn’t an indictment of those nations’ commitment to fighting terrorism.
3. The final category includes countries such as North Korea and Venezuela whose citizens don’t necessarily pose a major threat to the United States but where the administration wanted to send a message that the government’s broader actions are unacceptable.
The new visa sanctions on Venezuela, for instance, apply only to officials from five government security agencies and their immediate families.
The restrictions on North Korea will have little impact because so few of its citizens visit the United States.
Are there any exemptions for the ban?
Unlike the first iteration of Trump’s travel ban, which sparked chaos at airports across the country and a flurry of legal challenges after being hastily written with little input outside the White House, officials stressed they had been working for months on the new rules, in collaboration with various agencies and in conversation with foreign governments.
To limit confusion, valid visas would not be revoked as a result of the proclamation. The order also permits, but does not guarantee, case-by-case waivers for citizens of the affected countries who meet certain criteria.
That includes: having previously worked or studied in the U.S.; having previously established “significant contacts” in the U.S.; and having “significant business or professional obligations” in the U.S. Still, officials acknowledged the waiver restrictions were narrower than the exemptions for people with bona fide ties to the United States that the Supreme Court mandated before the expiring order went into effect in late June.
What are experts saying about the ban?
Administration officials have stressed the latest version is the result of a lengthy process, and based on an objective assessment of each country’s security situation and willingness to share information with the United States.
But Avideh Moussavian, senior policy attorney at the National Immigration Law Center, said she saw little difference between the earlier bans and the new policy, despite the addition of two non-Muslim countries.
“What remains the same is the discriminatory core of these bans which were always designed to exclude Muslims from the United States,” Moussavian said.
Stephen Yale-Loehr, an immigration expert at Cornell University, however, said the latest version is narrower and better explained, including about how the government decided which countries to target.
“The third time may be the charm for President Trump’s immigration travel ban,” Yale-Loehr said.
That's right, we need a TRAVEL BAN for certain DANGEROUS countries, not some politically correct term that won't help us protect our people!
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) June 6, 2017
What does this mean for the Supreme Court case?
As for the previous version of the travel ban, which expired on Sunday, the Supreme Court on Monday announced it would cancel arguments scheduled for October to give both sides time to consider the implications of the new one. They have until Oct. 5 to weigh in.
Trump’s efforts to restrict entry into the U.S. have been the subject of lawsuits almost since the moment he announced the first travel ban in January, and the latest version is sure to attract new legal challenges — though experts are divided on how they might fare.
— ACLU (@ACLU) September 25, 2017
UNITED NATIONS – When Donald Trump steps up to the podium Tuesday during the UN General Assembly, the real estate tycoon-turned-reality show celebrity and 45th U.S. president will hold sway on the diplomatic world’s biggest stage.
Trump is scheduled to be the second speaker Tuesday. He is likely, scholars said, to use the opportunity in his first General Assembly address to spell out his priorities — and to say how, or whether, American interests will be helped or hindered by the multilateral organization that he referred to in a December 2016 tweet as “a club for people to get together, talk and have a good time.”
The United Nations has such great potential but right now it is just a club for people to get together, talk and have a good time. So sad!
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) December 26, 2016
A senior White House official said his remarks Tuesday will condemn the “North Korean menace” and Iran for their nuclear ambitions while also discussing the threat of terrorism at large.
He will also discuss why countries must apply their own “America First” approach, the official said, speaking on the condition of anonymity.
In advance of his visit, experts weighed in on how Trump might use this global platform.
How will the ‘America First’ President outline his foreign policy?
Trump’s speech also symbolizes, perhaps like no other address in his eight-month tenure, a milestone in which all eyes focus on the leader of the world’s most powerful nation as he talks directly to the rest of the world.
Several scholars predict Trump’s appearance will be among the most closely watched, as it poses an opportunity for the new president, who ran on an “America First” platform, to outline his foreign policy.
— Department of State (@StateDept) September 18, 2017
“One of the biggest questions with President Trump in general, in the way that he enunciates foreign policy,” said Stewart Patrick, director of the International Institutions and Global Governance Program at the Council on Foreign Relations, “is there hasn’t been so far a major foreign policy speech where he in a sense explains what the United States is for or what the place of the United Nations is within the instruments of, or vehicles for, advancing U.S. foreign policy goals.”
But the president has repeatedly criticized the United Nations.
In March 2016, he said: “The United Nations is not a friend of democracy, it’s not a friend to freedom, it’s not a friend even to the United States of America.”
On Monday, he referenced his “Make America Great Again” campaign slogan when asked about what he seeks to convey to the multilateral institution.
“I think the main message is ‘make the United Nations great.’ Not again. ‘Make the United Nations great, ’ ” he said. “Such tremendous potential, and I think we’ll be able to do this.”
The White House official said that Trump’s speech Tuesday shouldn’t be taken as a criticism of the United Nations, but that the president won’t “appeal to a top-down model of global bureaucracy,” but rather “a model that’s from the nation-state up.”
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) September 18, 2017
Past presidents focused on the U.S. role as a leader in the world and the UN’s function in furthering it.
Previous U.S. presidents came to the UN prepared to deliver speeches that often echoed comments they had made elsewhere, and emphasized the U.S. role as a leader in the world and the UN’s function in furthering it, said Patrick, who is also author of “The Sovereignty Wars: Reconciling America with the World.”
Barack Obama praised the institution for its multilateral might, while his predecessor, George W. Bush, questioned its “relevance,” famously bypassing the UN’s consensus in order to launch a war in Iraq in 2003.
Bill Clinton, however, spoke of expanding the world’s democracies, and George H.W. Bush mapped out a “New World Order” after he sought and received UN approval for a multinational force to remove Iraqi President Saddam Hussein’s forces from Kuwait in January 1991.
“Speeches like the one Trump will give at the UN are a typical forum for U.S. presidents to lay out their views of international relations and U.S. policy, and this would typically be a time when a president will try to fit his various ideas into a coherent world view or ‘doctrine,’” said Julian Ku, who teaches courses including U.S. foreign affairs law at Hofstra Law School in Hempstead.
Trump “has done some of this during his speeches in Saudi Arabia and Poland, but this will be an opportunity to do so in the global as opposed to just the regional context,” Ku said.
Trump will have at least one staunch supporter in the audience.
Nikki Haley, the U.S. ambassador to the UN, has been a vocal proponent for the Trump agenda, at times being more hawkish than her boss — Secretary of State Rex Tillerson — and Trump himself. For example, she has scolded Russia’s ambassador at Security Council debates over the country’s stances on Syria and North Korea and its intervention in Ukraine, despite Trump’s favorable view of Russian President Vladimir Putin.
Haley also has criticized the nations comprising the UN Human Rights Council for the body’s many resolutions condemning Israel.
Her pro-Israel positions are consistent with those of many former ambassadors, including Samantha Power and Susan Rice, who served under Obama, observers said.
Arriving at the UN in January stating there was a “new sheriff in town,” Haley has emphasized several issues as Trump’s voice at the UN: reforming the UN itself by slicing its peacekeeping and general budget, changing the UN’s “anti-Israel bias,” calling out human rights violators and international aggression, and giving U.S. taxpayers “value” for their money, a return on investment so to speak.
As to the U.N., things will be different after Jan. 20th.
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) December 23, 2016
The United States, as the world’s largest economy, is responsible for $611 million, or 22 percent, of the UN’s general budget and about $2.2 billion, or more than 28 percent, of its peacekeeping budget.
Trump’s relationship with the UN thus far is hard for analysts to assess.
But they hope for more clarity when he speaks at the General Assembly.
Patrick called Trump’s assessment a “transactional” approach to the organization, the financial lens through which he sees much of his job. Indeed, the bulk of Trump’s website description of the America First Foreign Policy focuses on trade deals that benefit Americans so they have greater consumer power — not on engaging the international community toward a common goal of a safer and kinder world through collective action.
That vision also may be at the heart of a move away from the internationalism of his predecessors.
“Trump many years ago was a friend to the UN, and had to build goodwill to build his condo tower that dwarfs the iconic UN buildings,” said Katie Laatikainen, professor of political science at Adelphi University in Garden City. “His approach toward the globally oriented multilateral environs appears to have shifted with his presidential ambitions.”
The UN offers an opportunity for Trump to engage the world.
“His audience at the UN is not the American people, but foreign governments and their populations,” Ku said. “It is an important platform for reaching those groups and shaping his image.”
A hurricane – and its forecast – are moving targets. As Jose makes its way north, forecasters are closely monitoring the storm’s conditions and movements in order to update their outlook accordingly.
If you want to keep up with the latest on Jose, here are some links and resources you can check regularly, as the forecast continues to be fine-tuned.
A rundown of local watches, warnings and advisories
Where Jose’s center is expected to go and when
National Hurricane Center forecasters plot the storm’s track, using a cone-shaped image. The cone shows the range of potential paths for the center of the storm and is not indicating the size of the storm overall and where major impacts may be. There can be plenty of impacts outside that cone.
The image also shows color-coded areas where watches and warnings have been issued
Here, find an interactive map showing potential wind speeds.
The cone of uncertainty: It’s not called that for nothing. The cone’s track record? “Statistically, two-thirds of all cyclones stay within this cone, while one-third strays outside the cone,” according to a briefing from the weather service’s Upton office.
What storms look like from space
GOES-16 is the most advanced weather satellite NOAA has ever developed. It detects conditions from far above Earth.
— NWS Eastern Region (@NWSEastern) September 16, 2017
How strong the winds will be
You can see here the probabilities for sustained wind speeds of 39 mph or more.
When the winds will come
There are two options for viewing this map for residents with varying risk tolerance when it comes to making outdoor preparations.
Those with low risk tolerance, who want to get things done well in advance, can see the “earliest reasonable” times to expect tropical force winds to start. (Pictured below, as of Monday afternoon)
Others can click the “most likely” time option. (It’s a new tool, updated with new forecasts, from the National Hurricane Center.)
Rain – how much?
Rain, and other impacts, are dependent on the storm’s ultimate strength and track. A track farther to the west means more rain for the Island – to the east, less.
News updates on Twitter
Your forecasters are on social media, too. Keep track of their tweets for the latest information.
— NWS New York NY (@NWSNewYorkNY) September 18, 2017
— NWS Eastern Region (@NWSEastern) September 17, 2017
— NHC Atlantic Ops (@NHC_Atlantic) September 18, 2017
A billion-dollar spacecraft named Cassini burned up as it plunged into the atmosphere of Saturn today.
That’s the plan, exquisitely crafted. Cassini, the only spacecraft ever to orbit Saturn, spent the past five months exploring the uncharted territory between the gaseous planet and its dazzling rings. But now, it’s useful life is up.
Dreamed up when Ronald Reagan was president, and launched during the tenure of Bill Clinton, Cassini arrived at Saturn in the first term of George W. Bush. So it’s old, as space hardware goes.
It has fulfilled its mission goals and then some. It has sent back stunning images and troves of scientific data. It has discovered moons, and geysers spewing from the weird Saturn satellite Enceladus. It landed a probe on the moon Titan. It would have kept transmitting data to Earth to the very end, squeezing out the last drips of science as a valediction for one of NASA’s greatest missions.
— NASA (@NASA) September 15, 2017
— NASA HQ PHOTO (@nasahqphoto) September 15, 2017
It was also running out of gas, basically, though precisely how much fuel was left is unknown. Program manager Earl Maize says, “One of our lessons learned, and it’s a lesson learned by many missions, is to attach a gas gauge.”
Cassini’s final orbits have taken it, amazingly, inside the rings of Saturn, where the spacecraft practically skims the tops of the planet’s clouds. These orbits can plausibly be compared to Luke Skywalker flying into that narrow trench on the Death Star.
Today, there wasn’t much left to do other than let gravity handle everything, and watch the data come in, and clap, and maybe shed a few tears.
“We’re kind of going through the mourning cycle,” said Julie Webster, head of spacecraft operations.
Here’s a look at Cassini — a NASA mainstay for two decades that’s about to meet its demise.
Cassini closes out an era in NASA space science. This is hardly the end of solar system exploration, but it’s essentially the end of the first, heroic phase – the initial reconnaissance of the planets.
The colossal scale of Cassini is a legacy of the go-big mentality of the early days of space exploration. The United States put men on the moon with a jumbo rocket, and NASA for a long time skewed toward muscle-bound spacecraft even when humans weren’t along for the ride.
No single event changed everything, but what happened to a spacecraft called Mars Observer in 1993 certainly had an impact. It was large and fully adorned with instruments. And then, one day shortly before it was to go into Mars orbit, it simply went silent and was never heard from again. It probably blew up, Webster said.
Space is hard. Space will break your heart. “It’s like a loss of a family member,” Webster said.
By that point, Cassini had already been conceived, the instruments already coming online, and so it was essentially grandfathered in to the old-fashioned go-big protocol. NASA Administrator Dan Goldin wasn’t a fan. He had a name for Cassini: “Battlestar Galactica.”
Actually, it wasn’t simply the “Cassini” mission. It was the “Cassini-Huygens” mission. The Europeans designed the Huygens probe, a separate vehicle that detached from Cassini when it passed close to Titan.
Arrival and discovery
After Cassini, launched in 1997, arrived at Saturn in 2004, Huygens disengaged from the main spacecraft and dropped through Titan’s thick clouds. It sent back details of an alien world that possesses a stew of complex organic molecules, including liquid methane. Hydrocarbons rain from the sky. There are lakes and rivers.
— CassiniSaturn (@CassiniSaturn) September 7, 2017
It’s the only place in the solar system other than Earth known to have rain and open bodies of liquid on the surface.
Cassini also discovered something amazing about Saturn’s moon Enceladus: It has geysers spewing from its south pole. Almost certainly it has an interior ocean, sealed beneath ice, that contains great volumes of water and possibly hydrothermal vents.
— CassiniSaturn (@CassiniSaturn) September 10, 2017
Someday NASA or some other space agency is likely to send a probe to Enceladus to sample those geysers and test them for indications of life.
“The legacy for which Cassini will be remembered will be Enceladus,” said project scientist Linda J. Spilker.
The day the Earth smiled
For a moment four years ago, the Cassini watched Earth from 900 million miles away. The probe had ducked behind Saturn. There, shielded from the sun’s rays, the robot turned its delicate lenses toward home. On July 19, 2013, Earthlings in the know waved and smiled for the paparazzo in the sky. Everyone else went about their day. Cassini, a gracious photographer, caught the entire Earth on camera anyway.
Perhaps no other Cassini photograph carries the emotional heft of “The Day the Earth Smiled.”
Astronomer Carolyn Porco, the leader of the Cassini imaging team, and her colleagues organized a campaign to smile into the void at 21:27 Coordinated Universal Time (accounting, of course, for light’s 15-minute dash from Earth to Saturn). It would be only the third time that Earth had been photographed from such a distance, after an earlier Cassini image and the Voyager portrait. It also marked the first time that Earth inhabitants knew they were being photographed from the outer solar system, beyond the asteroid belt.
“This could be a day, I thought, when all the inhabitants of Earth, in unison, could issue a full-throated, cosmic shout-out and smile a big one for the cameras from far, far away,” Porco wrote in June 2013.
The picture of Earth wasn’t the only image taken that day. The Cassini team ultimately stitched together 141 photos into a sweeping view of Saturn, a mosaic 404,880 miles across. Shot from the back, Saturn is a black ball suspended in ink, enclosed in the coffee-colored circles of its rings.
“On the one hand, it is a beautiful image that will serve as a reminder of all the great data Cassini obtained,” said Matthew Hedman, a physicist at the University of Idaho who was involved with the project. “And on the other, it contains a lot of information about the properties of the rings that we will be trying to understand for many years to come.”
Cassini slowed down slightly in its final few orbits as it passed through the outermost layers of Saturn’s atmosphere. The drag on the spacecraft hastened the final plunge slightly.
At about 4:37 a.m. Eastern Standard Time today, the spacecraft was expected to roll into position to enable one of its instruments to sample Saturn’s atmosphere as it gets closer and closer to the planet. It would stream data back to the Deep Space Network.
In the final minute of its life, Cassini will have fired its thrusters in an attempt to keep its high-gain antenna pointing to Earth. But that is a battle Cassini was destined to lose.
Around 8 a.m. Friday, the final images taken by Cassini were streaming back to scientists at the Jet Propulsion Laboratory.
But Cassini is already gone. It will have been destroyed 83 minutes earlier. That’s how long it takes at the speed of light for news to travel from Saturn to Pasadena.
Cassini did’t exactly “crash” into Saturn, because it’s a gaseous planet and there’s no surface to hit. In the last moments, the spacecraft will have gone into a tumble and lost contact with Earth. Then it burned up as it plunged through Saturn’s atmosphere and disintegrated.
And then nothing was left.
The Trump administration has announced that it will wind down the Obama-era program that protects young immigrants from deportation.
Attorney General Jeff Sessions on Tuesday called the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals, known as DACA, an “unconstitutional exercise of authority by the executive branch.”
He says the Trump administration is urging Congress to find an alternate way to protect young immigrants brought into the country illegally as children.
Here’s what you need to know:
Nearly 800,000 young immigrants are covered under DACA.
In many cases, these are people, known as Dreamers, who have grown up attending American schools, speaking English and identifying the United States as their home country. They are currently between the ages of 15 and 36.
With about 42,000 in New York, and up to 14,000 on Long Island.
About 14,000 Dreamers on Long Island were eligible for the program when it rolled out, though it’s not clear how many of them applied and were accepted.
The U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services agency hasn’t disclosed numbers by region, but it’s counted Salvadorans and Hondurans among top recipients of DACA status and those communities have a significant presence on Long Island. Hundreds of high school students have been attending a yearly Dreamers’ conference organized by immigrant youth advocates to encourage them to pursue a college education and join advocacy efforts.
Those protected were brought here by their parents, or overstayed visas, when they were children. They attend school, have graduated or obtained an equivalent certificate.
DACA beneficiaries are immigrants who had arrived in the United States before they turned 16 years old; have lived in the country continuously since at least June 15, 2007, and were in the country as of June 15, 2012, by which date they had to be under the age of 31. They are required to either be attending school, to have graduated from high school or to have obtained a high school equivalency certificate.
Alternatively, they are accepted for deferred action if they had been honorably discharged from the Coast Guard or Armed Forces. Anyone convicted of a felony; a misdemeanor deemed significant or three or more other misdemeanors, or who is considered to pose a threat to national security or public safety was excluded from the program.
New York is among a handful of states that allows those DACA recipients to obtain professional licenses and work in the fields they’re qualified for when they graduate from school.
Young Latinos will be most affected.
Dreamers tend to be mostly Latino youth, with Mexicans, Salvadorans, Guatemalans and Hondurans being the top recipients of the deferred action.
Now, the fate of Dreamers is with Congress.
Congress has been given six months to find a legislative solution to protect Dreamers.
Congress, get ready to do your job – DACA!
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) September 5, 2017
I look forward to working w/ D's + R's in Congress to address immigration reform in a way that puts hardworking citizens of our country 1st.
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) September 5, 2017
Congress now has 6 months to legalize DACA (something the Obama Administration was unable to do). If they can't, I will revisit this issue!
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) September 6, 2017
But it’s unclear how that would play out.
Such an approach — essentially kicking the can down the road and letting Congress deal with it— is fraught with uncertainty and political perils that amount, according to one vocal opponent, to “Republican suicide.”
Still other Republicans say they are ready to take on a topic that has proven a non-starter and career-breaker for decades.
“If President Trump makes this decision we will work to find a legislative solution to their dilemma,” said Republican Sen. Lindsay Graham.
In the meantime, Dreamers will keep their current protections until their DACA documents expire.
DACA protections will not be immediately cut off. Current DACA recipients will be allowed to retain their period of deferred action and their ability to work until their current documents expire — up to two years from today. Applications already in the pipeline will be processed, as will renewal applications for those facing near-term expiration.
But new applications will not be accepted.
In addition, Trump said he advised the Department of Homeland Security that DACA recipients are not enforcement priorities unless they are criminals, are involved in criminal activity, or are members of a gang.
The Department of Homeland Security answers additional questions here.
In New York, officials plan to sue to protect Dreamers, and many took to the streets to protest.
Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo and Attorney General Eric T. Schneiderman said Monday that New York State would sue the federal government if Trump ends DACA.
“If he moves forward with this cruel action, New York State will sue to protect the ‘Dreamers’ and the state’s sovereign interest in the fair and equal application of the law,” Cuomo said in a news release.
New York will not demonize diversity.
We will not stand by as 42,000 NYers are deported.
If President Trump rescinds #DACA, we will sue.
— Andrew Cuomo (@NYGovCuomo) September 4, 2017
Shouting “undocumented, unafraid,” some 200 protesters marched in front of Trump Tower Tuesday morning to support upholding DACA. Nearly a dozen were arrested after they linked hands and formed a human chain that blocked traffic along 56th Street and Fifth Avenue for nearly 10 minutes.
Sources: The White House; U.S. Department of Homeland Security; Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo’s office; Migration Policy Institute in Washington, D.C.
Sixteen years of U.S. warfare in Afghanistan have left the insurgents as strong as ever and the nation’s future precarious. Facing a quagmire, President Donald Trump on Monday outlined his strategy for “victory” in a country that has historically snared great powers and defied easy solutions.
America’s longest-running war began well as U.S.-led forces quickly toppled the Taliban government and disrupted al-Qaida leaders who plotted the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks from Afghan soil. But the fighting never ended.
Trump is the third U.S. president to grapple with the Afghan challenge. A look at the phases of the U.S. involvement to date:
Less than a month after the 9/11 attacks, a massive U.S. air campaign targets al-Qaida fighters and Taliban troops, training camps and air defenses. Anti-Taliban forces of the Northern Alliance enter Kabul as the Taliban flee.
By December 2001, Afghan groups agree on a deal in Bonn, Germany, for an interim government.
With Afghanistan liberated from Taliban control, the U.S. military force grows to 2,500 as troops scour the mountainous Tora Bora region looking for al-Qaida leader Osama bin Laden. He eludes capture. Although President George W. Bush remains leery of supporting nation-building efforts in Afghanistan, the U.S. expands its counterterrorism operations. By the end of 2002, there are 9,700 U.S. troops in the country.
Democracy and distraction
In November 2004, Hamid Karzai, who had served two years as interim leader, is the clear winner in Afghanistan’s first direct election for president. The Bush administration hails the vote as a key step in the nation’s transformation. Millions of girls return to school after being barred under the Taliban. As the country opens up, Western aid helps the economy grow, at least in urban areas.
But the Taliban, enjoying sanctuary in Pakistan, show signs of re-emergence, launching sporadic attacks on government forces in eastern Afghanistan. Although Karzai is an ethnic Pashtun, which comprise the bulk of Taliban recruits, his government alienates what is Afghanistan’s main ethnic group. Karzai’s administration is dominated by former commanders of the Northern Alliance.
U.S. troop numbers swell to 20,000, but Washington’s attention increasingly turns to Iraq. The U.S. invades in March 2003, toppling Iraqi dictator Saddam Hussein. It struggles with the aftermath. Soon Iraq is gripped by an explosion of sectarian violence that preoccupies Bush until he leaves office.
More Western troops, more violence
In 2006, NATO assumes responsibility for security across the whole of Afghanistan, pumping troops into Taliban heartlands in the south of the country.
I’m not sure we’re winning.
– Joint Chiefs of Staff chairman Adm. Mike Mullen, 2008
The U.S. ups its forces in the country to 30,000. Britain, Canada and others boost their contributions. But the violence and lawlessness worsens.
Production of opium, the raw material of heroin, soars to a record high, funding the insurgency and fueling official corruption. Tensions grow between Afghanistan and Pakistan over cross-border Taliban attacks.
In the fall of 2008, Joint Chiefs of Staff chairman Adm. Mike Mullen concedes, “I’m not sure we’re winning.”
President Barack Obama, vowing to refocus U.S. efforts in Afghanistan, enters office in 2009 endorsing shifts to a counterinsurgency strategy designed to protect Afghan civilians rather than hunt down Taliban.
He quickly sends in 21,000 more forces. After a prolonged policy review, Obama orders an additional surge, bringing troop levels to a high of 100,000 by August 2010. He says the U.S. will begin withdrawing forces by 2011.
Critics say the drawdown date diminishes the incentive for the Taliban to negotiate for peace.
Bin Laden is killed in a U.S. special operations raid in Pakistan in March 2011.
Obama then presses ahead with plans to hand over security responsibilities to Afghanistan by 2014. By the end of that year, NATO ends its combat mission in the country. U.S. relations with Karzai, however, deteriorate. A contested election to replace Karzai introduces a more pro-U.S. leader in Ashraf Ghani, but his government is bitterly divided.
With violence reaching post-2001 highs and Afghan security forces taking heavy casualties, Obama backtracks on plans to virtually withdraw all U.S. forces by the end of 2016.
He leaves office with 8,400 troops still in the country.
The U.S. kills new Taliban leader Mullah Mansour in a drone attack in Pakistan in May 2016, derailing peace talks. But on the battlefield, the Taliban are in the ascendant and threaten provincial capitals in both the north and south. The Islamic State group gains a foothold in eastern Afghanistan.
Trump says little about Afghanistan during his first seven months in office, while the military grows antsy.
The Pentagon proposes sending in nearly 4,000 more U.S. troops to increase training of Afghan forces and counterterrorism operations, but the administration is divided on strategy. Nearly everyone considers the fight a stalemate, and some in Trump’s administration even propose withdrawing or handing over the entire American effort to private security contractors.
We are not nation-building again. We are killing terrorists.
– Trump, in his announcement Monday night
Among Afghans, anti-Western sentiment grows over deteriorating security, even in the capital, Kabul. The economy also suffers, partly as a result of a drawdown in foreign forces. As Trump is poised to announce his plan, Afghanistan’s government controls only about half of the country.
After months of debate, Trump finally unveils his strategy in a prime-time television address.
He says the U.S. will win “in the end,” defeating al-Qaida and IS fighters, and ensuring the government doesn’t fall to the Taliban. He refuses to provide troop increase numbers or timelines, saying military assistance would be determined by results and the cooperation of Afghanistan’s beleaguered government.
The Trump administration has seen a series of high-profile departures in its first eight months – and that includes a quick succession of four people over the summer.
Here’s a look at who’s already come and gone from inside and outside President Donald Trump’s White House, from those who quit, like the short-lived former press secretary Sean Spicer, to those who were pushed out, like Tom Price, who just resigned as Health and Human Services secretary.
Within the White House
The White House chief strategist relinquished his post on Aug. 18, the press secretary said in a statement. Bannon was a key campaign adviser and a forceful but contentious presence in the White House. The former leader of conservative Breitbart News (who returned there) pushed Trump to follow through with his campaign promises. But he also sparred with some of Trump’s closest advisers, including son-in-law Jared Kushner. His exit came amid tension over Trump’s comments blaming both sides in the clash between white supremacists and counterprotesters in Charlottesville, Virginia.
“The Mooch” came and went in just 10 days. The White House confirmed July 31 that he was ousted as communications director. “Mr. Scaramucci felt it was best to give Chief of Staff John Kelly a clean slate and the ability to build his own team,” Press Secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders said in a statement. Scaramucci, a Port Washington-raised financier, gave an expletive-filled interview to The New Yorker the week before in which he called Reince Priebus a “paranoid schizophrenic” and disparaged the president’s chief strategist Steve Bannon.
When President Donald Trump’s first chief of staff lost his job, the world found out about it on Twitter. That’s where Trump named Priebus’ replacement, Homeland Security Secretary John Kelly, on July 28. So ended a tumultuous six-month tenure for Priebus, a former head of the Republican National Committee, who was widely seen as a weak chief of staff amid White House infighting. “We accomplished a lot together and I am proud of him!” Trump tweeted about Priebus.
The White House press secretary suddenly quit on July 21, after Trump named Anthony Scaramucci as communications director. Spicer objected to Scaramucci’s hiring, news reports said. Spicer’s short run was marked by testy and even combative exchanges with the press at daily briefings, while Melissa McCarthy memorably lampooned him on “Saturday Night Live.” Like Priebus, Spicer hailed from the RNC.
Flynn resigned after three and a half weeks as national security adviser, on Feb. 13, after reports that he discussed U.S. sanctions with the Russian ambassador to the U.S. before Trump took office. Trump asked Flynn to resign because he misled Vice President Mike Pence about his late December call with the ambassador, Spicer said. Former acting Attorney General Sally Yates later testified that she warned the White House that Flynn “could be blackmailed” by Russia.
Trump’s first White House communications director resigned in May, serving his final day on June 2. Dubke founded Crossroads Media, a Republican firm that specializes in political advertising. Dubke wasn’t the first person hired for the job – that would be Jason Miller, who backed out before Trump took office.
The deputy chief of staff said March 30 that was she was leaving her post to join America First Policies, a pro-Trump outside group. Walsh said she decided to do that after the first attempt to repeal Obamacare during the Trump presidency failed in the House – where too many Republicans opposed it.
Outside the White House
Tom Price The Health and Human Services secretary resigned Sept. 29, after his costly travel triggered investigations that overshadowed the administration’s agenda and angered his boss. Price was found to have used private charter jets for official trips, when cheaper commercial flights were available. Trump had said publicly he was “not happy” with Price over the practice. Price is the first member of the president’s Cabinet to be pushed out. Preet Bharara (along with 45 U.S. attorneys) The Manhattan U.S. attorney was fired after he refused to resign – announcing his own termination on Twitter on March 11. Attorney General Jeff Sessions had demanded the resignations of Bharara and 45 other Obama-appointed federal prosecutors the day before. Several of the 46 were given months-long extensions, including Connecticut’s U.S. attorney, who is staying on until October. James Comey Trump’s firing of the FBI director shocked the nation on May 9 – with rippling effects for his presidency since. Trump told NBC News “this Russia thing” – which he called “a made-up story” – was on his mind when he decided to fire Comey, as the FBI investigated Russian interference in the presidential election. Comey told the Senate Intelligence Committee he was fired to change “the way the Russia investigation was being conducted.” Sally Yates Trump fired the acting attorney general on Jan. 30 after she ordered Department of Justice lawyers to stop defending his executive order issued on Jan. 27, one week into his presidency, banning travel from seven Muslim-majority nations. A White House statement accused Yates of betraying “the Department of Justice by refusing to enforce a legal order designed to protect the citizens of the United States.”
The Health and Human Services secretary resigned Sept. 29, after his costly travel triggered investigations that overshadowed the administration’s agenda and angered his boss. Price was found to have used private charter jets for official trips, when cheaper commercial flights were available. Trump had said publicly he was “not happy” with Price over the practice. Price is the first member of the president’s Cabinet to be pushed out.
Preet Bharara (along with 45 U.S. attorneys)
The Manhattan U.S. attorney was fired after he refused to resign – announcing his own termination on Twitter on March 11. Attorney General Jeff Sessions had demanded the resignations of Bharara and 45 other Obama-appointed federal prosecutors the day before. Several of the 46 were given months-long extensions, including Connecticut’s U.S. attorney, who is staying on until October.
Trump’s firing of the FBI director shocked the nation on May 9 – with rippling effects for his presidency since. Trump told NBC News “this Russia thing” – which he called “a made-up story” – was on his mind when he decided to fire Comey, as the FBI investigated Russian interference in the presidential election. Comey told the Senate Intelligence Committee he was fired to change “the way the Russia investigation was being conducted.”
Trump fired the acting attorney general on Jan. 30 after she ordered Department of Justice lawyers to stop defending his executive order issued on Jan. 27, one week into his presidency, banning travel from seven Muslim-majority nations. A White House statement accused Yates of betraying “the Department of Justice by refusing to enforce a legal order designed to protect the citizens of the United States.”