Cable news channel Al Jazeera America announced in an all-staff meeting Wednesday that it's shutting down April 30 after just two-and-a-half years on the air. "While Al Jazeera America built a loyal audience across the U.S. and increasingly was recognized as an important new voice in television news, the economic landscape of the media environment has driven its strategic decision to wind down its operations and conclude its service," the company said in a statement.
Politico reports that the Qatar-based company has struggled to gain viewership and successful ratings during its run in America. It will now focus instead on expanding existing online services. Becca Stanek
Rep. Jason Chaffetz (R-Utah) is no fan of Hillary Clinton — as chairman of the House Government Reform and Oversight Committee, he has been front and center in the Clinton email investigation, which he plans to keep alive with a perjury inquiry. On CNN Wednesday night, Chaffetz told Jim Sciutto that Clinton should hold a long-overdue press conference if she wants to rebut an Associated Press story about Clinton Foundation donor access at her State Department and Donald Trump's "pay to play" allegations. Sciutto turned the conversation to Trump, whom Chaffetz has pledged to support.
"Does Donald Trump's refusal to release his own tax returns — which would show his business interests and might raise questions about potential influence on his own campaign of money interests, or if he were to be elected president — does that not raise the same questions?" Sciutto asked. "Shouldn't he be equally transparent on his business relationships, his investments, etc.?"
Chaffetz agreed, colorfully. "If you're going to run and try to become the president of the United States, you're going to have to open up your kimono and show everything: your tax returns, your medical records," he said. "You're just going to have to do that. It's too important. So both candidates, Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton, should show both their medical records and their tax returns. Absolutely." Clinton has released nine years of her tax returns, and both candidates have released notes from their doctors; Trump is the first major party candidate not to release his returns since 1976. Sciutto asked Chaffetz if he would be just as zealous investigating President Trump as he would President Clinton, and Chaffetz appeared to have low expectations for the honesty of either candidate: "Hey, the Government Reform and Oversight Committee is going to be the place to win no matter who wins this election." You can watch below. Peter Weber
On Wednesday, Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton called Donald Trump's claims that as secretary of state she gave foreign governments and business leaders who donated to the Clinton Foundation something in return "ridiculous."
In an interview with CNN's Anderson Cooper, Clinton said that throughout her tenure as secretary of state, her work was "not influenced by any outside forces. I made policy decisions based on what I thought was right." Regarding an Associated Press article from Tuesday that said more than half of 154 private citizens she met with while at the State Department made donations to the Clinton Foundation, Clinton said she knows "there's a lot of smoke, and there's no fire."
Clinton slams AP report on the family Foundation: "It looked at a small portion of my time" as secretary of state https://t.co/L309Au2Las
— Anderson Cooper 360° (@AC360) August 25, 2016
The AP report "draws a conclusion and makes a suggestion that my meetings with people like the late, great Elie Wiesel or Melinda Gates or the Nobel Prize winner Muhammad Yunus were somehow due to connections with the foundation instead of their status as highly respected global leaders," she continued. "That is absurd. These are people I would be proud to meet with, as any secretary of state would have been proud to meet with, to hear about their work and their insights." Catherine Garcia
Astrophysicists are thrilled with the discovery of a planet outside our solar system that is within the "habitable zone" of the star Proxima Centauri, meaning water could exist there.
— Observing Space (@ObservingSpace) August 24, 2016
"Finding out that the nearest star to the sun hosts not just a planet, not just an Earth-sized planet, but one which is in the right location that it could support life — and there are a lot of caveats there — really underscores that not only are planets very common in our galaxy, but potentially habitable planets are common," Eamonn Kerins, an astrophysicist at Jodrell Bank Center for Astrophysics, told The Guardian. Named Proxima b, the planet is believed to be at least 1.3 times the mass of Earth, and is 4.2 light years away, meaning if a spacecraft left today, it would take close to 70,000 years for the probe to make it to the planet.
In the journal Nature, researchers wrote they found the planet after analyzing data based on light emitted by Proxima Centauri. It takes 11.2 days for the planet to travel around Proxima Centauri, and it orbits at 4.7 million miles, or 5 percent of the 93 million miles separating the Earth and the sun. Researchers say it's still in the habitable zone because Proxima Centauri is a red dwarf that is smaller, cooler, and dimmer than our yellow dwarf sun. It's unclear if the planet has an atmosphere, oceans, or any forms of life, but one of the authors of the study said it's possible the planet "could be detected with direct imaging within the next 10 years." For Guillem Anglada-Escudé at Queen Mary University of London, "just the discovery, the sense of exploration, of finding something so close, I think it is what makes [it] very exciting." Catherine Garcia
On Wednesday, U.S. Soccer suspended women's goalkeeper Hope Solo from the national team for six months, following an outburst against Sweden during the 2016 Summer Olympics in Rio.
The Swedish team defeated the U.S. 4-3 on penalty kicks in the quarterfinals, and Solo, 35, said because they focused on defense rather than offense, they were "a bunch of cowards." U.S. Soccer President Sunil Gulati said Solo's comments were "unacceptable and do not meet the standard of conduct we require from our National Team players. Beyond the athletic arena and beyond the results, the Olympics celebrate and represent the ideals of fair play and respect. We expect all of our representatives to honor those principles, with no exceptions." In 2015, Solo was suspended for 30 days due to conduct issues. She won't be eligible for selection to the national team again until February.
Solo released a statement Wednesday evening saying she is "saddened" by U.S. Soccer's decision. "For 17 years, I dedicated my life to the U.S. Women's National Team and did the job of a pro athlete the only way I knew — with passion, tenacity, an unrelenting commitment to be the best goalkeeper in the world," she said, adding that even when she didn't make "the best choices" or say "the right things," she only wanted the best for the team. Catherine Garcia
After four years of negotiations, the Colombian government and the FARC rebel group announced Wednesday in Cuba they have reached an agreement to end their 52-year armed conflict.
More than 220,000 Colombians died during the fighting, and almost seven million had to leave their homes. U.S. envoy to the peace talks Bernard Aronson called it "the final chapter of the Cold War in the hemisphere," while Colombia's lead negotiator, Humberto de la Calle, declared that "the war is over." While an agreement has been made, voters in Colombia still have to ratify the accord, and are expected to head to the polls in October. President Juan Manuel Santos is campaigning for the deal's approval, while his rival, former president Alvaro Uribe, wants it to fail, saying it goes too easy on FARC leaders.
If approved, the deal would become law, and FARC would start demobilizing 7,000 fighters and would have 180 days to fully disarm. The conflict between the government and FARC rebels is the longest-running in the Americas, but the government still has to worry about another group, the 1,500 member National Liberation Army, which is hoping to lure disillusioned FARC rebels to its ranks. Catherine Garcia
Sometimes, achievements are so big you honor them with a celebratory dinner. Sometimes, they're notable enough to garner an engraved statue or plaque. And sometimes, well, only a corn maze will do:
The Cleveland Cavaliers ended a 52-year championship drought in their city when they won the 2016 NBA title, defeating the favored Golden State Warriors in seven games — thus inspiring Mapleside Farms in Brunswick, Ohio, to dedicate its corn maze to the team. Aww, shucks! Kimberly Alters
Let it be known, hip-hop lovers, that in 2014 your top-secret, against-all-odds fantasy of being serenaded by Frank Ocean while also dating Chance the Rapper did in fact come true — at least, for one lucky lady.
The two hip-hop stars apparently had some good times during the six months Chance test-drove the shiny Los Angeles lifestyle, and although he quickly ditched the West Coast to return to his hometown of Chicago, the 23-year-old rapper did have some juicy Hollywood stories to spill in his new interview with GQ. Among them? The time one Frank Ocean popped by unannounced to help him impress a new flame.
At the time, Chance was living in a huge, decked-out house — think private pool, basketball court, recording studio, and movie theater — in the North Hollywood neighborhood of LA, and he'd racked up some impressive musician friends including Jeremih, J. Cole, and Frank Ocean, America's favorite recluse. The whole lot of them would hang around the house constantly, Chance told GQ. "It was like a big-a-- rapper mansion."
One night, Chance brought a date back to the pad to enjoy some — ahem — recreational substances, at a time when Ocean was apparently also lurking around the house. And while most people would be annoyed if a friend randomly crashed a date, the rules are probably a little different when your friend is Frank Ocean:
Frank just comes up and starts playing the piano and lightly singing in the background of our date. Obviously, that scored me a lot of points with this female. [Chance the Rapper, via GQ]
And so it happened: your dream date, lived in the flesh by some lucky L.A. lady. But until your wildest dreams of a personal Frank Ocean serenade come true, you can listen to the two new albums he unexpectedly dropped this month, and read the rest of the profile on his buddy Chance over at GQ. Kelly Gonsalves