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August 2, 2014
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When NASA's 2020 rover touches down on Mars, it will be looking for something a little more typical than tiny green Martians.

The space agency said this week that the future rover's main purpose will be researching whether the planet could eventually sustain human life, CNN reports. That means the 2020 rover will perform basic tasks such as collecting soil samples, and also execute more cutting-edge projects, such as photographing the planet's surface in 3D, panoramic images, so NASA can study whether Mars' chemical makeup is conducive to farming.

The idea is that if astronauts were able to actually live on Mars, NASA could further its exploration of the planet. The 2020 rover will run a feature called the Mars Oxygen ISRU Experiment (MOXIE) to determine whether the planet's atmospheric carbon dioxide could be converted into oxygen. And the presence of oxygen, NASA notes, means that in addition to being able to breathe, astronauts could even make rocket fuel to use for the return trip. Sarah Eberspacher

10:23 a.m. ET

President Trump paid a visit Tuesday to Yad Vashem, Israel's Holocaust memorial. While he was there, he left a brief message in the guestbook, in which he managed to incorporate the words "great" and "so amazing":

For comparison's sake, here's the message former President Barack Obama left in 2008, when he visited as a U.S. senator. It did not evoke comparisons to yearbook signings:

The chairman of Yad Vashem, Avner Shalev, told ABC News that he did not think the message Trump left in the guestbook, after his "very meaningful remarks," was "insensitive." "He touched all the essential elements that should be touched," Shalev said.

Trump stayed at the memorial for about half an hour before heading to the Israel Museum to deliver a speech. Becca Stanek

9:44 a.m. ET
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President Trump is considering setting up a "crisis management operation" as the scandals continue to mount, Politico reported Monday evening. Trump is apparently eyeing Corey Lewandowski, his first campaign manager whom he fired, and David Bossie, his deputy campaign manager, to head it up.

The possibility remains unconfirmed and no formal announcement is expected until Trump returns from his trip abroad, but Politico noted Trump wouldn't be the first president to set up a crisis unit in the face of an independent investigation. Former President Bill Clinton, for instance, tapped "masters of disaster" Mark Fabiani and Chris Lehane to deal with questions about the Whitewater scandal.

Last week, the Justice Department announced it had appointed a special prosecutor to oversee the investigation into Trump's potential ties to Russia's election meddling. The announcement came on the heels of Trump's firing of former FBI Director James Comey, a decision the White House flailed to explain.

Fabiani told Politico that setting up a crisis management operation would be "exactly the right thing to do" in this situation, as it "allows you to the greatest extent possible to contain the investigation, to keep the investigation away from White House business, and to keep it out of the daily press briefings."

The question, Fabiani said, is whether Trump is looking at the right people to do it. Trump fired Lewandowski just before the Republican National Convention, after Lewandowski made headlines for yanking a reporter aside as she tried to ask Trump a question.

As for Bossie, Fabiani noted that he was known for "working to stoke the many scandals that swirled around the Clinton administration" as an Oversight and Government Reform Committee investigator in the 1990s. "He certainly knows how to set fires; whether he's good at putting them out or not, I have no idea," Fabiani said.

Read more at Politico. Becca Stanek

9:44 a.m. ET

Actor Roger Moore died of cancer Tuesday at the age of 89. Moore is best known for portraying James Bond in seven of the series' feature films, including Live and Let Die and The Spy Who Loved Me. He is often cited as being one of the "best Bonds."

"The affection our father felt whenever he walked onto a stage or in front of a camera buoyed him hugely and kept him busy working into his 90th year," Moore's children wrote in the announcement. "Thank you Pops for being you, and for being so very special to so many people." Jeva Lange

9:13 a.m. ET
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House Speaker Paul Ryan (R-Wis.) is headed toward a clash with the White House over "a controversial pillar of the House GOP tax plan that effectively hikes taxes on imports," Politico writes. The policy is known as the "border adjustment tax," or BAT.

In an analysis of the plan here at The Week, Jeff Spross writes that while "companies that keep importing will likely pass the cost of the tax onto consumers ... if a border adjustment tax can corral more demand within the U.S. while creating jobs and increasing wages, the hike in consumer prices could well be worth it." President Trump and his administration officials, including Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin and chief economic adviser Gary Cohn, have expressed opposition to Ryan's plan in the past, even as Ryan has promoted the adjustment tax as "the smart way to go."

"I think it makes the tax code the most internationally competitive of any other version we're looking at," Ryan has said. "And I think it removes all tax incentives for a firm to move ... their production overseas."

Trump has said he doesn't "love" the proposal and called it "too complicated." But the White House has been unwilling to get too loud in its criticisms, and ultimately it is up to the House, not the Trump administration, to write the legislation. "Of all the things we have going on right now, I don't think [a battle with Ryan over the tax] is the No. 1 priority around here," a White House official said.

Read more about the battle over the border adjustment tax here at The Week. Jeva Lange

8:44 a.m. ET
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For an entire week, Fox News lagged behind both MSNBC and CNN during primetime with the essential 25-to-54 demographic, the first time that has happened in nearly 17 years. "As the pro-Trump network, Fox is forcing itself to ignore or downplay major stories," Dylan Byers writes for Reliable Sources. "I'm guessing some Fox viewers are changing the channel just to find out what's actually happening in Washington."

While Fox News is likely concerned by the slump, the network still has the top primetime ratings and all-day ratings over the course of the month, Fortune adds. But Fox is certainly feeling the squeeze after a rough several months that have included the ousting of its top primetime host, Bill O'Reilly, and the departure of top talent Megyn Kelly.

Additionally, "we're not having this conversation if [Rachel] Maddow isn't hosting 9 p.m. at MSNBC," Byers writes. MSNBC was first in primetime, and was the second most-watched cable network behind TNT, which is airing the NBA playoffs. Jeva Lange

8:21 a.m. ET
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The Islamic State has claimed responsibility for the explosion at a Manchester Ariana Grande concert that killed at least 22 and injured dozens of others, The Associated Press and SITE Intelligence Group report. A statement from the terrorist group claims the attack was "in response to their transgressions against the lands of the Muslims."

Chief Constable Ian Hopkins of the Greater Manchester Police said that the deadly explosion was likely caused by one man who used an "improvised explosive device" and died in the blast. Local police have additionally confirmed the arrest of a 23-year-old man in south Manchester in connection with the attack.

A former intelligence officer told BuzzFeed News that it is "highly unlikely" such an attack could be carried out by a single terrorist. "Explosives are sophisticated and prone to failing, so whoever prepared the device knew what they were doing," the former intelligence officer said. Jeva Lange

8:06 a.m. ET
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Sean Hannity's colleagues at Fox News are growing increasingly irritated and embarrassed that the host is continuing to promote conspiracy theories about the murder of Democratic National Committee staffer Seth Rich.

"ARE WE STILL AIRING THAT S---?!" wrote one Fox News political reporter when The Daily Beast asked for a comment. Washington, D.C., police say Rich was likely killed in a botched attempted robbery, although Hannity has promoted the discredited theory that Rich was mysteriously killed after allegedly being in touch with WikiLeaks.

Rich's family has denied the conspiracies and begged internet sleuths and Hannity to stop spreading the unfounded theories, which they say injure "the memory and reputation of Seth Rich and have defamed and injured the reputation and standing of the members of the family." The family additionally said Hannity has not reached out to them.

"I'm disgusted by it," one Fox News employee told CNN's Oliver Darcy. Another said the conspiracy "drags the rest of us down," while a third suggested Hannity is focused on the Seth Rich story in order to distract from President Trump's ongoing scandals.

"It hurts those of us who are legitimately focused on journalism," one employee said. "We have a chance to turn the corner at Fox, and perpetuating this conspiracy theory damages our integrity." Jeva Lange

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