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April 22, 2014

Asteroid impacts on Earth are more common than we think, and the B612 Foundation believes that its proposed $250 million Sentinel telescope could help detect when one might strike.

The group — which includes several former NASA astronauts — says that the Sentinel would be able to track 90 percent of Earth-orbit-crossing asteroids larger than 100 meters, and would give years or even decades of notice before one of them potentially hits the Earth.

From 2000 to 2013, a network of sensors operated by the Comprehensive Nuclear-Test-Ban Treaty Organization (CTBTO) picked up 26 major explosions on Earth, all of them caused by asteroids making contact or bursting apart in the atmosphere. They ranged in energy from 1 kiloton to 600 kilotons (the bomb that destroyed Hiroshima was 15 kilotons) — and just one was picked up hours in advance. That's why the B612 Foundation wants Earth to have a fighting chance when it comes to predicting asteroid strikes.

"In the cities that have a major danger — Tokyo, Los Angeles, San Francisco — they know the odds of big earthquakes by observing how many small earthquakes there are," B612 Foundation CEO Ed Lu, a former astronaut, tells BBC News. "And you can do this with asteroids.... These asteroid impacts in the last decade have been ones that we haven't had much data on until recently, and they tell us that in fact asteroid impacts are more common than we thought." To find out more about the Sentinel project, watch a video of various asteroid impacts below. --Catherine Garcia

May 23, 2017

Saffie Rose Roussos, 8, thought to be the youngest victim of the suicide bombing at the Manchester Arena that killed 22 people on Monday night, is being remembered as a "simply beautiful little girl in every aspect of the word."

Chris Upton, head teacher at Tarleton Community Primary School, told The Washington Post in an email that Roussos was "loved by everyone and her warmth and kindness will be remembered fondly. Saffie was quiet and unassuming with a creative flair." Roussos, a resident of Leyland, was at the Ariana Grande concert with her mother, Lisa, and older sister, Ashlee, who were both injured by shrapnel. They were all separated in the chaos following the explosion, and it wasn't until Tuesday morning that Saffie's death was confirmed by police. Catherine Garcia

May 23, 2017
Frederick M. Brown/Getty Images

A controversial quip Stephen Colbert made on the May 1 Late Show was not so obscene that it warranted a fine, the Federal Communications Commission said Tuesday.

During his opening monologue, Colbert joked that "the only thing [Trump's] mouth is good for is being Vladimir Putin's cock holster." Colbert's mouth was blurred and his words were bleeped out of the broadcast, but, Variety reports, the FCC was still flooded with thousands of complaints — some saying he was disrespectful of the president, others arguing it was a homophobic remark.

The FCC investigates all complaints, and when asked for an update, the commission said in a statement that "consistent with standard operating procedure, the FCC's Enforcement Bureau has reviewed the complaints and the material that was the subject of these complaints. The bureau has concluded that there was nothing actionable under the FCC's rules." Catherine Garcia

May 23, 2017
Drew Angerer/Getty Images

During a phone call in late April, President Trump congratulated Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte on doing an "unbelievable job" in his bloody war on drugs, a leaked transcript of the conversation obtained by The Intercept and Rappler shows.

The White House described the April 29 call as a "very friendly conversation," with the leaders discussing the threat posed by North Korea and drugs in the Philippines. The transcript — produced by the Philippine Department of Foreign Affairs and later authenticated by top officials in the agency — begins with pleasantries, then Trump launches into his praise of Duterte. "Many countries have the problem" of drugs, he said. "We have a problem, but what a great job you are doing." Duterte thanked him, adding, "This is the scourge of my nation now and I have to do something to preserve the Filipino nation." Trump said that unlike a "previous president," he understood.

Police in the Philippines have killed more than 7,000 suspected drug dealers and users and vigilante squads have added to the death toll, while Duterte himself has said he'd "be happy to slaughter" his country's drug users. "To endorse Duterte is to endorse a man who advocates mass murder and who has admitted to killing people himself," John Sifton, Asia advocacy director for Human Rights Watch, told The Intercept. "Endorsing his methods is a celebration of the death of the poor and vulnerable."

Trump and Duterte also discussed North Korean leader Kim Jong Un, with Duterte calling him "not stable" and "a madman." Trump said he hopes "China solves the problem" of North Korea, but if they don't, "we will do it." The call ended with Trump urging Duterte to visit him in the Oval Office "anytime you want to come," and a final word of encouragement: "Keep up [the] good work, you are doing an amazing job." You can read the entire transcript, which has several typographical errors, here. Catherine Garcia

May 23, 2017
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Senate Intelligence Committee leaders are responding to former National Security Adviser Michael Flynn's refusal to hand over documents related to its Russia investigation by issuing subpoenas to two of his businesses.

Rather than comply with an earlier subpoena from the committee in its investigation into Russian meddling in the 2016 presidential election and possible collusion with the Trump campaign, Flynn on Monday invoked his Fifth Amendment right against self-incrimination. "While we disagree with Gen. Flynn's lawyers' interpretation of taking the Fifth ... it's even more clear that a business does not have a right to take the Fifth," Sen. Mark Warner (D-Va.), the panel's vice chairman, told reporters Tuesday.

Flynn, a foreign policy adviser to Trump during the campaign, was only national security adviser for a short amount of time, forced to resign just weeks after the inauguration when it came to light that he misled Vice President Mike Pence about his conversations with the Russian ambassador to the U.S. Catherine Garcia

May 23, 2017
Mandel Ngan/AFP/Getty Images

President Trump is expected to retain Marc Kasowitz as his personal attorney to represent him in the investigation, led by Special Counsel Robert Mueller, into Russian interference in the 2016 presidential election and possible collusion with the Trump campaign, people close to Trump and Kasowitz told ABC News on Tuesday.

Kasowitz Benson Torres LLP has represented Trump in the restructuring of his business debt and defamation cases, and the firm's website says Kasowitz has worked with Trump "on a wide range of litigation matters for over 15 years." The firm also employs Joe Lieberman, reportedly Trump's top choice for FBI director, as a senior counsel. The White House has not responded to ABC News' request for comment. Catherine Garcia

May 23, 2017
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Sean Hannity's network has retracted a story about the 2016 death of Democratic National Committee staffer Seth Rich, and Rich's parents have written an appeal for people to "stop politicizing" their son's murder, but the Fox News host is refusing to back down.

"I am not Fox.com or FoxNews.com," Hannity said on his radio show Tuesday. "I retracted nothing." The Hannity host made his comments after Fox News retracted its story from May 16, which alleged that Rich had been in contact with WikiLeaks before he was shot and killed; police say he was likely murdered during a botched robbery. There is no evidence that shows Rich's death was related to WikiLeaks releasing stolen DNC material, and following outrage from the public and Rich's family, Fox News said the story "was not initially subjected to the high degree of editorial scrutiny we require for all our reporting. Upon appropriate review, the article was found not to meet those standards and has since been removed."

Hannity, whose executive producer received a letter from the Rich family asking that the show stop peddling a false narrative, said he has an "agenda to get to the truth. I'm not saying I have answers yet, but I'm digging deep, and I have a lot more information than all of you do at this point." He also said that people who are "accusing me of pushing a conspiracy theory, you are the biggest hypocrites in the entire world."

Not long after Hannity's outburst, The Washington Post published an op-ed written by Mary and Joel Rich under the headline: "We're Seth Rich's parents. Stop politicizing our son's murder." The conspiracy theories being pushed regarding their son's death are "baseless" and "unspeakably cruel," they wrote, and "the amount of pain and anguish this has caused us is unbearable. With every conspiratorial flare-up, we are forced to relive Seth's murder and a small piece of us dies as more of Seth's memory is torn away from us." Catherine Garcia

May 23, 2017
DANIEL LEAL-OLIVAS/AFP/Getty Images

The U.K. has increased its terrorist threat level to the highest possible "critical" for the first time in a decade, British Prime Minister Theresa May announced Tuesday. The designation means a terror attack is considered "imminent" and allows for military personnel to be deployed instead of police officers at public events.

The decision comes after a lone male suicide bomber detonated an explosive Monday night near the Manchester Arena in England, where the singer Ariana Grande was performing. At least 22 people were killed and 59 injured in the blast. "The work undertaken throughout the day has revealed that it is a possibility that we cannot ignore, that there is a wider group of individuals linked to this attack," May said.

Police identified 22-year-old Salman Abedi as the bomber, and the Islamic State claimed responsibility for the attack over social media. Police on Tuesday also arrested a 23-year-old man in Manchester in connection with the attack. Becca Stanek

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