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January 5, 2016
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The Hillary Victory Fund is a "joint fundraising committee" that distributes its earnings to the Hillary Clinton campaign, the Democratic National Committee (DNC), and state-level Democratic Party organizations (see the full list of the committee's beneficiaries here). The fund was organized in September, and since then it has donated almost $20 million to the DNC.

This is unusual — and potentially a conflict of interest — for one big reason: Hillary Clinton isn't yet the Democratic nominee for 2016.

Though she has long been considered the clear frontrunner, at this pre-primary stage in the game, party machinery is theoretically supposed to be a neutral manager that facilitates the process of determining Democratic voters' preferences. Typically, a candidate does not combine fundraising efforts with their national party until after locking up the nomination.

Update Jan. 6: DNC spokesman Eric Walker told The Week that the Democratic Party has offered the same joint fundraising options to the Bernie Sanders and Martin O'Malley campaigns. The Sanders camp signed an agreement with the DNC but is not jointly fundraising with any state parties, while the O'Malley campaign has so far declined the arrangement at both the state and national levels. Bonnie Kristian

8:45 p.m. ET

After breezing through Jupiter's magnetosphere, NASA's Juno spacecraft is on track to begin orbiting the planet on the 4th of July.

"We've just crossed the boundary into Jupiter's home turf," principal investigator Scott Bolton of the Southwest Research Institute in San Antonio said in a statement Thursday. "We're closing in fast on the planet itself and already gaining valuable data." Juno was fully inside Jupiter's magnetosphere, the largest structure in the solar system, by June 25, NASA said. The magnetosphere extends about 5 astronomical units beyond Jupiter (each AU is about 93 million miles), and if it "glowed in visible light, it would be twice the size of the full moon as seen from Earth," Juno team member William Kurth of the University of Iowa said.

Juno was launched in August 2011, and over the next 18 months, the plan is for the spacecraft to circle around Jupiter more than 30 times, using nine different scientific instruments to gather data. NASA hopes to map out the planet's magnetic and gravitational fields and determine if it has a core or not, Space.com reports, and also gain new information about the universe as a whole. "What Juno's really about is learning about the recipe for how solar systems are made," Bolton said. Catherine Garcia

8:03 p.m. ET
Johannes Eisele/AFP/Getty Images

An investigation is underway regarding a fatal crash in Florida last month involving a tractor trailer and a Tesla Model S with the autopilot feature deployed.

Tesla says this is the first known fatal crash of its kind involving the Model S. In a statement, Tesla said the vehicle was driving on a divided highway with the autopilot on, when a tractor trailer drove across the highway perpendicular to the Model S. "Neither autopilot nor the driver noticed the white side of the tractor trailer against a brightly lit sky, so the brake was not applied," the statement said. The victim was killed after the car went under the tractor trailer. "Had the Model S impacted the front or rear of the trailer, even at high speed, its advanced crash safety system would likely have prevented serious injury as it has in numerous other similar incidents," Tesla said.

The autopilot function can slow the car down when approaching potentially dangerous curves, park the car, and change lanes. U.S. regulators are expected to release guidelines later this summer for driverless cars, The Wall Street Journal reports. Catherine Garcia

6:41 p.m. ET
Scott Barbour/Getty Images

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration is instructing owners of 313,000 older Hondas and Acuras to stop what they're doing and replace the Takata airbag inflators inside their cars.

"These vehicles are unsafe and need to be repaired immediately," Transportation Secretary Anthony Foxx said in a statement on Thursday. "Folks should not drive these vehicles unless they are going straight to a dealer to have them repaired." The advisory is for 2001 and 2002 Honda Civics and Accords, 2002 and 2003 Acura TL, 2002 Honda Odyssey and CR-V, and 2003 Acura CL and Honda Pilot. The older the vehicle, the more time the inflator has spent in heat and humidity, and that makes them more likely to malfunction, The Associated Press reports.

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration has conducted tests on inflators taken from older Hondas owned by people living near the Gulf Coast, and about half of them blew apart. If an inflator explodes, it spews metal fragments into the vehicle, potentially killing or injuring the driver and any passengers. To see if your car is part of the recall, visit safercar.gov and enter your vehicle identification number. Catherine Garcia

5:02 p.m. ET
REUTERS/Carlos Barria

On Thursday, Judge Martin Welch vacated the murder conviction of Adnan Syed, the Baltimore man at the center of the first season of the wildly popular true-crime podcast Serial, and granted him a new trial. Syed's attorneys tweeted Thursday that Syed had won a new trial after a Baltimore judge ruled that his original attorney failed to properly cross-examine incriminating cell-tower evidence.

Syed's current defense team successfully re-opened post conviction hearings this past February and in March filed a post-hearing motion to add new evidence to the record, partially due to the popularity of and unearthed information from Serial. Syed is currently serving a life sentence plus 30 years after being convicted in 2000 of murdering his ex-girlfriend Hae Min Lee while they were both seniors at Woodlawn High School in Baltimore. Kimberly Alters

4:13 p.m. ET

Speaking 2,656 miles from the Mexican border in Manchester, New Hampshire, on Thursday, Donald Trump interrupted his latest policy speech to point out a random passing airplane, warning that it could be "a Mexican plane up there, they're getting ready to attack."

It should be noted that we are not at war with Mexico. Jeva Lange

3:05 p.m. ET
Newsmakers

The oceans are rising, Oregon will basically fall into the sea when the Big One hits, and the globe just keeps getting hotter. But hey, look on the bright side — at least the giant hole in the ozone is on track to be fully healed later this century!

The spot of good news comes from Susan Solomon, the lead author in a study published Thursday in Science that appears to prove that the hole in the ozone above the Antarctic is on track to actually repair itself sometime around 2060. The researchers praise the 1987 Montreal Protocol as at least partially responsible for the progress, thanks to its ban of chlorinated compounds in refrigerator coolants and aerosols, which used to float up to terrorize the stratosphere.

"I think a lot of people feel that environmental stories always have bad endings. In this case, the recovery will happen, but it'll take time," atmospheric chemist Susan Strahan said after evaluating the researchers' evidence.

Solomon agreed. "This is a reminder that when the world gets together, we really can solve environmental problems. I think we should all congratulate ourselves on a job well done," she told Gizmodo.

There you have it — give yourself a pat on the back. Good work, team. Jeva Lange

1:58 p.m. ET

Secretary of Defense Ash Carter has announced that transgender members of the military will be allowed to serve openly, putting an end to the Pentagon's ban. Carter added that the changes will begin to be implemented over the course of the next year.

Although there are already thousands of transgender people in the military, they risked being discharged if discovered, just as gay and lesbian troops did before "don't ask, don't tell" was repealed in 2011. Still, some in the upper ranks of the military have worried that the "social experiment" could hurt the military's ability to operate effectively, although Carter has condemned the transgender ban as being outdated. Studies have also failed to prove that the inclusion of transgender members would stunt the military's preparedness. Jeva Lange

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