In today’s Short List, I’m mourning a NASA rover, stunned over new spy charges and furious over the VA experimenting on dogs. It’s Ashley Shaffer with today’s most talked-about stories.
But first, Bill Cosby: The comedian convicted of sexual assault thinks prison is “amazing” and has “no remorse,” he said, comparing himself to Martin Luther King, Jr. and other “political prisoners.”
Dog lovers, this is hard to read
Fatal experiments on dogs are happening at the Department of Veterans Affairs. Now, the inspector general has launched an investigation to review whether VA officials continued the experiments in violation of a law passed last year restricting the controversial testing. Current studies involve surgeries on dogs’ hearts and spines that the VA says could produce discoveries to help veterans with cardiac, spinal cord or breathing problems. But lawmakers say the experiments haven’t produced breakthroughs for years, and options like computer models could be used instead. Lara Trump, the president’s daughter-in-law and longtime animal-rights advocate, is backing an effort to have the experiments stopped.
A spy is born. Allegedly.
A former Air Force intelligence officer was charged Wednesday with spying for Iran. Federal prosecutors claimed Monica E. Witt, 39, revealed defense secrets and gave Iran the identity of at least one U.S. intelligence officer. Witt, named in the indictment unsealed Wednesday, is charged with espionage, conspiracy and other crimes. She defected to Iran in 2013. Prosecutors said Witt wrote to an Iranian contact that she wanted “to put the training I received to good use instead of evil.”
RIP to the little Mars rover that could
NASA is pulling the plug on the Mars rover Opportunity after 15 years on the red planet. Unable to activate battery-powered heaters, the robot likely froze in the intense Martian cold. On Tuesday, NASA tried one last time to contact the spacecraft after 1,000-plus failed attempts. It was unsuccessful. Team members have eulogized the long-lasting rover, which roamed a record 28 miles and confirmed water once flowed on Mars. NASA still has two rovers there, the nuclear-powered Curiosity and the newly arrived InSight, as well as spacecraft orbiting the planet.
- The House will vote Thursday on a bill to avoid another shutdown. President Donald Trump hinted he’s willing to sign.
- Joaquin “El Chapo” Guzman is likely headed to a prison so protected that it’s called “The Alcatraz of the Rockies.”
- Your kids (and therefore you) will have new songs in November: Disney’s first “Frozen 2” trailer just dropped.
- The wreck of long-lost WWII aircraft carrier was found after 76 years, nearly 17,500 feet under water.
- FEMA Administrator Brock Long, who drew praise and criticism for his agency’s response to major disasters, including Hurricane Maria, is leaving the agency.
Covington Catholic students ‘did not instigate,’ diocese finds
The Diocese of Covington’s investigation of Covington Catholic High School found students “did not instigate” the D.C. confrontation that went viral in January. Multiple videos showed the Kentucky students interacting with a Native American elder and a group of Black Hebrew Israelites after the national March for Life in Washington. More than 40 students were interviewed, as well as some chaperones. Nick Sandmann, a Covington Catholic student featured in the video, and Nathan Phillips, the Native American man who approached the crowd of students, were not interviewed in the investigation.
A dino who wears its ‘heart’ on its tail
Just in time for Valentine’s Day, scientists say they’ve discovered a dinosaur that had a heart-shaped tail. The dinosaur is “a unique species and provides new insights into sauropod evolution,” a study said, and the discovery hints at how ecosystems evolved in Africa. Sauropods were the largest land animals in Earth’s history. The dinosaur was given the scientific name of Mnyamawamtuka moyowamkia, which derives from the Swahili words meaning “beast of the Mtuka” and “heart of the tail,” referring respectively to the location it was found and to the heart-shaped part of its tail vertebrae.
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