August 14, 2014

A new study at the University of Tennesee, Knoxville, might just save the world.

This new research could help protect the Earth from potential asteroid collisions, reports The scientists studied 1950 DA, an asteroid that is near Earth, and found that it rotates fast enough to be gravity-defying.

1950 DA is held together by van der Waals, forces that have never been seen on an asteroid until now. The study, published in the journal Nature, has "potential implications for defending our planet from a massive asteroid impact," according to

"We found that 1950 DA is rotating faster than the breakup limit for its density," Ben Rozitis, one of the UT researchers, said in a statement. "So if just gravity were holding this rubble pile together, as is generally assumed, it would fly apart. Therefore, interparticle cohesive forces must be holding it together." Cohesive forces have previously not been noted in asteroids, though there has been speculation about their presence.

"Understanding what holds these asteroids together can inform strategies to guard against future impacts," Rozitis said. The researchers are currently looking into ways to prevent asteroid collisions, including destabilizing the newly discovered cohesive forces before an impact with Earth. Meghan DeMaria

10:35 a.m. ET

The 2020 Republican primary schedule may look quite a bit different from this year's process if party leadership gets its way with rule changes at the Republican National Convention in Cleveland this summer.

Following a chaotic nominating process and looking toward the possibility of the first contested convention in decades, the GOP is beginning to consider a substantial overhaul of the way it picks presidential candidates. In one proposal, Iowa and New Hampshire would retain their early voting status, but each would be paired with a rotating selection of other states from their region — Iowa with Minnesota in 2020, for example, and then with South Dakota in 2024.

Other suggestions are more radical, like abolishing these states' unique position altogether in favor of a fully rotating calendar of primaries which gives voters in all 50 states a chance to be early deciders every few years. One thing seems certain, though: Nevada will likely lose its early position on the primary calendar thanks to alleged "irregularity" and disorder at the state's 2016 caucuses. Bonnie Kristian

10:18 a.m. ET
Isaac Brekken/Getty Images

Weeks after rumors of his infidelity emerged in wife Beyoncé's new visual album Lemonade, Jay Z is finally putting in his two cents on the matter. The musician debuted his response Tuesday night at Yankee Stadium in the form of a newly released remix of Fat Joe and Remy's "All the Way Up." The song's first verse: "You know you made it when the fact your marriage made it is worth millions/Lemonade is a popular drink and it still is."

Prior to the song's release, Jay Z had stayed mum about his apparent infidelity, despite the onslaught of angry reactions from Beyoncé fans and the ruthless search for the identity of the rapper's mistress, whom Beyoncé refers to as "Becky with the good hair" in her track "Sorry". The couple has been married for eight years and allegedly went through a rough patch in 2014.

Jay Z is also rumored to be writing an entire album telling "his side" of Lemonade. For now, you can listen to his latest track on Tidal. Becca Stanek

10:17 a.m. ET

An internal State Department audit has found fault in the way Hillary Clinton, her aides, and other former secretaries of state managed their electronic communications while in office, The Associated Press reports. A copy of the report by the agency's inspector general cited "longstanding, systemic weakness" in relation to email and computer information security. Additionally, the secretaries were "slow to recognize and to manage effectively the legal requirements and cybersecurity risks associated with electronic data communications, particularly as those risks pertain to its most senior leadership," the report said.

The internal audit sharply criticized Clinton for failing to request permission to use her personal server, permission that the Office of the Inspector General said "would not" have been approved due to "the security risks in doing so." Clinton's personal server and BlackBerry never proved they could “[meet] minimum information security requirements," the report went on.

The review followed accusations that Clinton had exclusively used her private email account and server while serving as secretary of state. An official publication of the report will be released Thursday. Jeva Lange

10:09 a.m. ET
Sara D. Davis/Getty Images

The federal prison system hangs on to hundreds of prisoners for longer than it is supposed to each year, finds a new report on the Federal Bureau of Prisons (BOP) from the inspector general at the Department of Justice (DOJ).

Between 2009 and 2014, some 4,183 federal inmates were subject to "untimely release," with 152 late releases due to staff errors. Three of the staff-caused mistakes resulted in prisoners being held for more than a year past the end of their sentences, the DOJ said, though most were held for about one extra month.

Though the DOJ report doesn't include the names of the prisoners affected, one case which fits the description is that of Jermaine Hickman, an Omaha man who was imprisoned for 13 months past his mandatory release date. Astonishingly, the BOP attempted to blame Hickman himself for his late release, arguing that he was at fault because he did not "raise any issues concerning his sentence computation or continued incarceration via the formal grievance process with the BOP." Hickman ultimately received a settlement of $175,000 for wrongful imprisonment. Bonnie Kristian

9:15 a.m. ET
STR/AFP/Getty Images

The Central Asian country of Tajikistan has voted to abolish presidential term limits solely for their authoritarian president, Emomali Rahmon. The decision will effectively allow him to rule until the end of his life.

An overwhelming 94.5 percent of voters were in favor of the amendment to the national constitution, which also lowered the minimum age for Tajik presidential candidates to 30, apparently so Rahmon's 29-year-old son can run in the 2020 election.

While human rights groups have criticized the former USSR nation for the lack of religious freedom for its predominantly Sunni Muslim population as well as its rejection of political pluralism, many voters were apparently enthusiastic about keeping Rahmon in power. "Rahmon brought us peace, he ended the war, and he should rule the country for as long as he has the strength to," one voter told AFP.

In 2015, democracy watchdog Freedom House rated Tajikistan with a Democracy Score of 6.39, with 7 being the worst. "Observers of the most recent parliamentary (2010) and presidential (2013) elections noted that both contests failed to meet basic democratic standards or offer a real choice among candidates," the organization said.

Rahmon, 63, has been in power since 1992. Jeva Lange

9:11 a.m. ET

Students at Oberlin College are asking the school to put academics on the back burner so they can better turn their attention to activism. More than 1,300 students at the Midwestern liberal arts college have now signed a petition asking that the college get rid of any grade below a C for the semester, and some students are requesting alternatives to the standard written midterm examination, such as a conversation with a professor in lieu of an essay.

The students say that between their activism work and their heavy course load, finding success within the usual grading parameters is increasingly difficult. "A lot of us worked alongside community members in Cleveland who were protesting," Megan Bautista, a co-liaison in Oberlin's student government, said, referring to the protests surrounding the shooting death of 12-year-old Tamir Rice by a police officer in 2014. "But we needed to organize on campus as well — it wasn't sustainable to keep driving 40 minutes away. A lot of us started suffering academically."

The student activists' request doesn't come without precedence: In the 1970s, Oberlin adjusted its grading to accommodate student activists protesting the Vietnam War and the Kent State shootings, The New Yorker reports. But current students contend that same luxury was not granted to them even though the recent Rice protests were over a police shooting that took place just 30 miles east of campus.

"You know, we're paying for a service. We're paying for our attendance here. We need to be able to get what we need in a way that we can actually consume it," student Zakiya Acey told The New Yorker. "Because I'm dealing with having been arrested on campus, or having to deal with the things that my family are going through because of larger systems — having to deal with all of that, I can't produce the work that they want me to do. But I understand the material, and I can give it to you in different ways."

Read the full story on the ongoing battle at Oberlin over at The New Yorker. Becca Stanek

8:57 a.m. ET

In California on Tuesday, Hillary Clinton hit Donald Trump over his newly surfaced 2006 and 2007 remarks that he was "excited" about the housing market to burst, because if it did, he would "would go in and buy like crazy” to make money. "He actually said he was hoping for the crash that caused hard-working families in California and across the country to lose their homes," Clinton said. Some 3,000 miles away, Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.) was singing from the same hymnal.

"Donald Trump was drooling over the idea of a housing meltdown — because it meant he could buy up a bunch more property on the cheap," Warren said at a gala for the Center for Popular Democracy. “What kind of a man does that? Root for people to get thrown out on the street? Root for people to lose their jobs? Root for people to lose their pensions?" (She answered her own question: "A small, insecure moneygrubber who doesn't care who gets hurt, so long as he makes some money off it.")

The similar messaging "was not entirely a coincidence," The Washington Post reports. Warren has deliberately not endorsed anyone in the Democratic primary, and Warren hitting Trump in concert with Clinton would allow the Democratic frontrunner to "begin the general-election battle against Trump, but also beginning the difficult task of unifying the fractured Democratic Party." Warren's Trump takedown, adds The Wall Street Journal, "suggested she may be willing to work with the Clinton campaign more directly to win the White House in November."

Trump jumped in the conversation at his rally in Albuquerque, calling Warren "Pocahontas" and Clinton a "low life" for playing his housing comments in a campaign ad. "I'm a businessman, that's what I'm supposed to do," Trump added. You can watch Warren's hit at Trump below. Peter Weber

See More Speed Reads