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July 14, 2014

After traveling three billion miles over the course of almost a decade, the New Horizons spacecraft will finally make it to Pluto on July 14, 2015.

"It's Bastille Day," Alan Stern, principal investigator for NASA's Pluto-Kuiper Belt Mission, told NPR. "To celebrate, we're storming the gates of Pluto." New Horizons isn't actually going to land on Pluto, but will fly within 6,000 miles of the dwarf planet. The mission has been calculated so the spacecraft — which is unmanned and the size and shape of a baby grand piano — doesn't get caught in Pluto's orbit, but can still get close enough to take photographs that are not too blurry.

The closest any spacecraft has been to Pluto is one billion miles, and the best images have come from the Hubble Telescope. When New Horizons left Earth in January 2006, it was prior to Pluto's demotion to a dwarf planet, and Stern is excited to see what will be discovered in 365 days. "When we first sent missions to Jupiter, no one expected to find moons that would have active volcanoes," he said. "And I could go down a long list of how often I've been surprised by the richness of nature." --Catherine Garcia

7:34 p.m. ET
David Silverman/Getty Images

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's cabinet voted on Monday to remove metal detectors installed at the al-Aqsa Mosque in East Jerusalem, but Sheikh Najeh Bakirat, the mosque's director, said that's not enough to please Muslim worshippers who also want security cameras to come down, Al Jazeera reports.

The metal detectors were installed at entry points to the mosque compound, Islam's third holiest site, after two police officers were shot and killed there on July 14. The new security measures sparked protests and clashes between Palestinians and security forces, with at least five Palestinians killed and hundreds more injured. Catherine Garcia

6:50 p.m. ET
Suzanne Cordeiro/AFP/Getty Images

Nearly a dozen immigrants being smuggled into the United States died Sunday after being transported from Laredo, Texas, to San Antonio in a tractor-trailer without any air conditioning, and survivors are recounting the extreme heat and cries for help that went unanswered by the driver.

Adan Lalravega, 27, told The Associated Press the trailer was crowded with people, and as the trip dragged on, the temperature kept getting higher and higher. Adults and children were crying and begging for water, and Lalravega said he lost consciousness before arriving in San Antonio. Other survivors told authorities there was one hole in the wall of the trailer, and people were taking turns breathing out of it. They also pounded on the sides of the trailer, yelling at the driver to stop, but he didn't.

Relief came when the driver, James Matthew Bradley, stopped the truck at a Walmart in San Antonio at around midnight. Bradley told authorities he was driving the truck from Iowa to Brownsville, Texas, on behalf of his boss, who had sold it. Bradley said he heard banging and shaking in the trailer, court records show, but he had no idea there was anyone back there, and was surprised when people came jumping out. He also said he knew the refrigeration system wasn't working, and ventilation holes were likely clogged. Bradley, who appeared in federal court Monday on charges of illegally transporting immigrants for financial gain resulting in death, could face the death penalty.

At least 20 passengers have been hospitalized for heatstroke and extreme dehydration. Most are from Mexico and Guatemala, and one said he traveled to the U.S. by raft, then was driven to Laredo, where he was put in the trailer. He was supposed to pay $5,500 to smugglers when he arrived in San Antonio. Catherine Garcia

4:39 p.m. ET
ADAM BERRY/AFP/Getty Images

Some employees of a Wisconsin vending machine company will be able to purchase food with the wave of a hand. Three Square Market announced over the weekend that it plans to implant RFID (Radio Frequency ID) microchips into the hands of willing employees. The chips are as small as a grain of rice and would essentially replace key cards, credit cards, and phone apps.

Implanted between the thumb and forefinger, the microchips would be able to unlock doors, pay for break room snacks, serve as business cards, and store medical information. Three Square Market expects at least 50 employees to voluntarily undergo the $300 procedure, for which the company will pick up the tab. The implanting will begin as soon as Aug. 1.

Three Square Market specializes in corporate vending machines it calls "micro markets," though its parent company, TW Vending, distributes supplies to jails and prisons, Fast Company notes. TW Vending's stock includes machines similar to the microchip-activated ones Three Square Market offers. "Eventually, this technology will become standardized allowing you to use this as your passport, public transit, all purchasing opportunities, etc.," Todd Westby, the CEO of Three Square Market, wrote in a blog post. The company is claiming to be the first in the U.S. to implant these chips into employees. Elianna Spitzer

4:13 p.m. ET

In a speech ahead of Senate Republicans' Tuesday vote on health care, President Trump on Monday declared that ObamaCare "is death." "[Democrats] run out, they say, 'death, death, death,'" Trump said, referring to Democrats' concerns about Republicans' health-care plans. "Well, ObamaCare is death. That's the one that's death."

Trump urged Senate Republicans to fulfill their longstanding promise to repeal and replace ObamaCare, pushing specifically for a plan that replaces the health law immediately. "So far, Senate Republicans have not done their job in ending the ObamaCare nightmare," Trump said. He warned that "any senator who votes against starting debate is telling America that you are fine with the ObamaCare nightmare."

Though Senate Republicans have confirmed a health-care vote for Tuesday afternoon, it's not yet clear even to senators which bill they will debate or whether there will be enough votes for the effort to succeed. Becca Stanek

2:48 p.m. ET
Win McNamee/Getty Images

GOP Rep. Blake Farenthold (Texas) blames the women of the party for Republicans' health-care impasse. In an interview that aired Friday on a local Texas radio station, Farenthold bemoaned the opposition of female senators — like Lisa Murkowski (R-Alaska), Susan Collins (R-Maine), and Shelley Moore Capito (R-W.Va.) — to both the party's plans to repeal and replace ObamaCare and the later proposal to repeal ObamaCare without a replacement in hand.

"The fact that the Senate does not have the courage to do some things that every Republican in the Senate promised to do is just absolutely repugnant to me. … Some of the people that are opposed to this, they're some female senators from the Northeast," Farenthold said. He then declared that if it were "a guy from South Texas" instead of a woman opposing the health-care plans, he "might ask him to step outside and settle this Aaron Burr-style."

As a refresher, Burr shot and killed former Treasury Secretary Alexander Hamilton in an 1804 duel. Becca Stanek

2:40 p.m. ET

The Democrats unveiled a brand new economic plan Monday, one intended to consolidate the party's message as one that favors the middle class. Titled "A Better Deal: Better Jobs, Better Wages, Better Future," the plan is the Democrats' attempt to embrace a progressive agenda in the hopes that it will broaden the party's appeal.

"Democrats will show the country that we're the party on the side of working people," Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.) wrote in a New York Times op-ed published Monday. Schumer specifically called out the antitrust laws that "allow huge corporations to merge, padding the pockets of investors but sending costs skyrocketing for everything from cable bills and airline tickets to food and health care."

The Democrats' proposal details several specific sectors in which the party wants to increase competition to fight for the little guy. On the list? Craft breweries:

So much for Bud Light — Schumer is totally cheers-ing this new plan with an ice cold Right Proper Gingifer. Kimberly Alters

1:58 p.m. ET

Rep. Mo Brooks (R-Ala.) revisited the congressional baseball practice shooting in his new ad for his Senate campaign. The 30-second spot, entitled "Second Amendment," kicks off with the sound of gunshots and people screaming "get down." "June 14: A Bernie Sanders supporter fires on Republican Congressmen," flashes across an otherwise black screen, as audio from the incident plays. "Mo Brooks gives his belt as a tourniquet to help the wounded."

The ad then flips from the incident in which a gunman fired at Republicans gathered for a morning baseball practice to the response of the "liberal media." A clip is played of Brooks, who was at the baseball practice, being asked whether the shooting changes his "views on the gun situation in America." "The second amendment, the right to bear arms, is to help ensure that we always have a republic. So, no, I'm not changing my position on any of the rights that we enjoy as Americans," Brooks says, as patriotic music begins to play.

Four people, including House Majority Whip Steve Scalise (R-La.), were injured in the shooting. Scalise remains in serious condition.

Watch Brooks' ad below. Becca Stanek

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