Campaign photo diary
August 15, 2012

President Obama and Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack, right, inspect drought-damaged corn on the McIntosh Family Farm in Iowa with members of the McIntosh family on Aug. 13. In a speech at the 96-year-old farm, Obama said that the family has "seen just about everything, but this is the worst drought they can remember in decades."  The Week Staff

Space News
12:58 p.m. ET
Courtesy NASA

It's a star-eat-star universe out there.

A group of astronomers published a new study with the Royal Astronomical Society this week in which they hypothesize that a star nicknamed "Nasty 1" is being subjected to "sloppy stellar cannibalism" by a second star buried in its hydrogen-dominated outer layers, NBC News reports.

Nasty 1 is a Wolf-Rayet, a huge type of star that begins its life with nearly 20 times the sun's mass. But those outer layers eventually disappear, leaving the star's core susceptible to space. So astronomers using NASA's Hubble Space Telescope were surprised to observe a unique gas disk nearly three trillion miles wide encompassing Nasty 1. The discovery is leading scientists to think a second Wolf-Rayet star located within that disk is causing a "mass-transfer process."

The study's authors say they hope to learn more about the process by "catching binary stars in this short-lived phase." Sarah Eberspacher

This just in
11:34 a.m. ET
AP Photo/Tony Dejak, Pool

Cleveland police officer Michael Brelo was found not guilty on two counts of felony voluntary manslaughter on Saturday, The Washington Post reports.

He is the first of six officers to be prosecuted for their roles in the November 2012 fatal shootings of Timothy Russell, 43, and Malissa Williams, 30, both of whom were unarmed at the time of their deaths. Russell and Williams led 62 police vehicles on a chase after the Chevy Malibu Russell was driving backfired in front of police headquarters, which officers mistook for gunfire.

When Russell finally stopped his car in East Cleveland, 13 police officers, including Brelo, shot at least 137 rounds into the vehicle. Russell was shot 23 times; Williams was shot 24 times. Sarah Eberspacher

Crisis in Iraq
10:18 a.m. ET
John Moore/Getty Images

Two U.S. officials speaking anonymously with The Guardian on Friday said Iran has contributed troops to the Iraqi ground force operations against ISIS.

The U.S. military has previously stated that Iran's involvement would not be opposed, so long as its troops remain under the command of Iraqi government-led forces. Still, a U.S. statement released Friday detailing recent operations against ISIS made no mention of Iran's involvement.

The U.S. and its allies have staged a series of offensives over the past few days, in a bid to retake control of the Beiji refinery compound. U.S.-led airstrikes have also targeted the city of Ramadi, which was overtaken by ISIS earlier this week. Sarah Eberspacher

Foreign affairs
9:58 a.m. ET
Brett Gundlock/Getty Images

A gunfight between federal forces and suspected cartel members in the western Mexico state of Michoacán left at least 42 people dead on Friday night, government officials told Reuters.

Most of those killed were suspected gang members; while federal officials did not name the cartel involved, Michoacán's Governor Salvador Jara told a news station that the criminals were likely from the Jalisco New Generation cartel, which specializes in producing and trafficking methamphetamine to the U.S. from the region.

The Wall Street Journal reports that New Generation has orchestrated several police killings over the past few months, most notably on May 1, when its gang members targeted an army helicopter, while also setting fire to banks, gas stations, and cars in Guadalajara. Sarah Eberspacher

Quotables
9:24 a.m. ET
Frazer Harrison/Getty Images

Johnny Storm, also known as The Human Torch and one-fourth of Marvel's Fantastic Four, was originally written as a blonde-haired, blue-eyed daredevil. So when Michael B. Jordan was announced as the new face of Storm in Marvel's reboot, he says he expected some pushback.

"You're not supposed to go on the Internet when you're cast as a superhero," Jordan wrote in an open letter for Entertainment Weekly. "(But) I didn't want to be ignorant about what people were saying."

Jordan's online hunt turned up comments that boiled down to: "A black guy? I don't like it," he says.

"I can see everybody's perspective, and I know I can't ask the audience to forget 50 years of comic books," Jordan adds. "But the world is a little more diverse in 2015 than when the Fantastic Four comic first came out in 1961."

Read the actor's full letter, ahead of his new movie's August premiere, over at Entertainment Weekly. Sarah Eberspacher

Senate Says
8:52 a.m. ET
Mark Makela/Getty Images

President Barack Obama moved one step closer to completing the Trans-Pacific Partnership deal with 11 other countries, as the Senate voted in favor of fast-track legislation on the deal, on Friday night. The legislation would help Obama move more quickly toward a finalized agreement on the TPP, by letting Congress use quick up-or-down votes, sans amendments, on specific trade deal details.

The bill now moves to the House, where it will likely face tougher passage, and where, The Washington Post notes, it has an unusual, bipartisan proponent: Rep. Paul Ryan (R-Wis.) who is chairman of the Ways and Means Committee and leading Republican support of the legislation. Sarah Eberspacher

This just in
8:17 a.m. ET
Charles McQuillan/Getty Images

With several hours left before official results are announced, Ireland already appears set to pass a historic referendum allowing same-sex marriage, The New York Times reports.

The country would be the first in the world to legalize gay marriage by a popular vote; early ballot counts have found voters resoundingly in favor of the measure. And while no official announcement has yet been made, opposition leader David Quinn already tweeted his concession to the proposal's supporters: "Congratulations to the Yes side. Well done." Sarah Eberspacher

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