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Crime and punishment
March 11, 2014

It's one thing for Mariska Hargitay to catch fictional rapists in her role as Detective Olivia Benson on Law & Order: SVU. But Hargitay is taking things a step further with her work to help law enforcement catch real-life rapists.

At a press conference in Detroit today, Hargitay spoke on the problem of untested rape kits, an issue about which she is also producing a documentary. During the conference, Hargitay voiced her support for Wayne County Prosecutor Kym Worthy's push for legislation to clear Detroit's backlog of untested rape kits.

"To me, this is the clearest and most shocking demonstration of how we regard these crimes," Hargitay said. "One would assume that if someone endures a four- to six-hour invasive examination, that that evidence would be handled with care."

In 2004, Hargitay also founded the Joyful Heart Foundation, which provides support to victims of sexual crimes. Here's to hoping her star power will help Worthy's office gain the resources it needs to test the backlogged kits.

Watch Hargitay's moving, tear-filled speech below. --Meghan DeMaria

By the numbers
11:25 a.m. ET
Saul Loeb/AFP/Getty Images

Two men in Washington, D.C., were fatally shot Friday night, bringing the city's 2015 homicide count to 105 so far. That's the same number the nation's capital saw in all of 2014, The Washington Post reports.

"We face complex challenges, which is why I stand here not to give you half-truths or oversimplified answers," Mayor Muriel Bowser (D) said Thursday, when she launched a $15 million plan to address the city's 40 percent increase in homicides over the same period in 2014. She said there's not just one reason for the spike, but suggested an increase in synthetic drugs and a small number of repeat violent offenders are possible contributing factors, The New York Times reports.

The mayor's announcement was interrupted by Black Lives Matter protesters, who took issue with her pledge to place more police officers in the city's most violent neighborhoods. Julie Kliegman

space
10:51 a.m. ET

Six people are going to spend the next year of their lives locked inside a tiny dome — for science. The isolation experiment, which started Friday, is NASA's latest and longest attempt at evaluating what interpersonal conflicts would be like during a trip to Mars, which is expected to take one to three years.

Based in Hawaii near a barren volcano, the team will live in isolation together with almost no privacy, Engadget reports. They'll survive in cramped living quarters on basic foods — we're talking canned tuna and powdered cheese.

So, who are these brave souls voluntarily participating in the worst possible Hawaiian vacation? A French astrobiologist, A German physicist, and an American pilot, soil scientist, architect, and a journalist. Technically, team members are allowed to leave the dome on occasion, but not without donning spacesuits first. Julie Kliegman

Gun Violence
10:29 a.m. ET
Michael B. Thomas/Getty Images

When Darren Goforth, a white deputy officer, was ambushed and fatally shot Friday night, allegedly by a black man at a gas station outside Houston, Harris County Sheriff Ron Hickman wasted no time in linking the incident to the ongoing Black Lives Matter protests of police brutality.

"We've heard black lives matter; all lives matter. Well, cops' lives matter too," Hickman said Saturday. "At any point where the rhetoric ramps up to the point where calculated cold-blooded assassination of police officers happen(s), this rhetoric has gotten out of control."

Firearms-related deaths of law enforcement officers in 2015 are down from the same period last year, Reuters reports.

Hickman called the shooting of the 10-year veteran "unprovoked." Deputies arrested 30-year-old Shannon Miles on Saturday. Julie Kliegman

RIP
8:42 a.m. ET
Chris McGrath/Getty Images

British neurologist and author Oliver Sacks died at 82 on Sunday, months after being diagnosed with terminal eye cancer, The New York Times reports. Sacks was a practicing doctor and a professor of neurology at New York University.

He was also well-known for his best-selling books, including The Man Who Mistook His Wife for a Hat and An Anthropologist on Mars. Awakenings, his autobiographical account of treating patients with encephalitis lethargica, a condition that renders people motionless, was later adapted in an Oscar-winning film starring Robin Williams and Robert De Niro.

In February, Sacks wrote about his ocular melanoma diagnosis and confronting his mortality in a touching Times op-ed:

I cannot pretend I am without fear. But my predominant feeling is one of gratitude. I have loved and been loved; I have been given much and I have given something in return; I have read and traveled and thought and written. I have had an intercourse with the world, the special intercourse of writers and readers. Above all, I have been a sentient being, a thinking animal, on this beautiful planet, and that in itself has been an enormous privilege and adventure. [The New York Times]

He wrote again for the Times earlier in August about "achieving a sense of peace within oneself" as he grew physically weaker. Julie Kliegman

Presidential polling
8:02 a.m. ET
Charlie Leight/Getty Images

Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) is gaining ground on Democratic presidential frontrunner Hillary Clinton in Iowa, which will hold the country's first caucuses Feb. 1. The Des Moines Register/Bloomberg Politics poll released Saturday shows Sanders just 7 percentage points behind Clinton's 37. She's lost a third of her Iowa support since May.

Vice President Joe Biden, who is rumored to be considering a campaign, took 14 percent out of the 404 likely caucus voters polled.

On the Republican side, retired neurosurgeon Ben Carson sits in second at 18 percent to Donald Trump's 23 percent. Only 29 percent of likely Republican caucusgoers said they'd never vote for Trump, a figure that's halved since May. Julie Kliegman

Katrina at 10
August 29, 2015
Joe Raedle/Getty Images

On Saturday, New Orleans residents commemorated the 10th anniversary of Hurricane Katrina, which killed more than 1,800 people and cost $151 billion in damage across the region.

"We saved each other," Mayor Mitch Landrieu told dignitaries at a memorial for the unidentified and unclaimed dead, The Associated Press reports. "New Orleans will be unbowed and unbroken."

Residents and activists gathered for speeches and a parade in the city's Lower 9th Ward at the site of one levee that had broken. In Mississippi, also hit hard by Katrina, coastal church bells rang out to remember one of the deadliest storms in U.S. history.

President Barack Obama and former President George W. Bush, who was in office when the storm hit, both visited New Orleans in the days leading up to the anniversary. Julie Kliegman

Immigration
August 29, 2015
Andrew Burton/Getty Images

Presidential hopeful and New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie (R) spoke to a crowd in Laconia, New Hampshire, on Saturday about the need to crack down on legal immigration enforcement.

He rejected competitor Donald Trump's idea to build a wall across the entire U.S.-Mexican border, but suggested if he becomes president, he'd use FedEx's package tracking strategies to more closely track people entering the country:

The minute they come in, we lose track of them? So here's what I'm going to do as president: I'm going to ask Fred Smith, the founder of Federal Express, to come work for the government for three months at Immigration and Customs Enforcement and show these people. We need to have a system that tracks you from the moment you come in, and then when your time is up... however long your visa is, then we go get you. We tap you on the shoulder and say, "Thanks for coming. Time to go." [The Star-Ledger]

While this isn't the first time Republicans have used FedEx rhetoric to talk immigration policy, Smith's daughter, Samantha, serves as Christie's campaign spokeswoman.

Christie also criticized President Obama's nuclear deal with Iran and other world powers on Saturday, calling the U.S. under Obama's oversight "a nation of lawlessness," The Star-Ledger reports. Julie Kliegman

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