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January 31, 2017

A truck-sized asteroid passed within 40,563 miles of Earth on Sunday, just hours after it was first spotted by scientists, CBS News reports. It was a very, very near miss: The moon, by comparison, is 238,900 miles away from Earth.

The asteroid is estimated to be approximately 15 feet by 33 feet in size. You can breath a sigh of relief at least — to cause "worldwide effects," an asteroid would probably have to be about a mile wide. NASA reports that "space rocks smaller than about 25 meters (about 82 feet) will most likely burn up as they enter the Earth's atmosphere and cause little or no damage."

What is more concerning is that Sunday's asteroid came out of nowhere. "We didn't expect 2017 BH30 and other nearby asteroids to seem to be sneaking up on us every other week, so keep your eyes open," CBS News reports. Jeva Lange

7:44 p.m.

The Democratic National Committee announced on Wednesday which 2020 presidential candidates will take the stage during CNN's primary debates later this month.

The candidates are: Sen. Michael Bennet (D-Colo.); former Vice President Joe Biden; Sen. Cory Booker (D-N.J.); Montana Gov. Steve Bullock; South Bend, Indiana, Mayor Pete Buttigieg; former Housing and Urban Development Secretary Julián Castro; New York Mayor Bill de Blasio; former Rep. John Delaney (D-Md.); Rep. Tulsi Gabbard (D-Hawaii); Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand (D-N.Y.); Sen. Kamala Harris (D-Calif.); former Colorado Gov. John Hickenlooper; Washington Gov. Jay Inslee; Sen. Amy Klobuchar (D-Minn.); former Rep. Beto O'Rourke (D-Texas); Rep. Tim Ryan (D-Ohio); Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.); Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.); author Marianne Williamson; and businessman Andrew Yang.

As with the first debate in June, Rep. Seth Moulton (D-Mass) and Miramar, Florida, Mayor Wayne Messam did not qualify for this round. Newcomers to the race Tom Steyer, a billionaire investor, and former Rep. Joe Sestak (D-Penn.) also did not make the cut.

The debates will be held in Detroit over two days: July 30 and 31, with both starting at 8 p.m. E.T. On Thursday night, CNN will hold a live drawing during Anderson Cooper 360 to determine the candidate lineup for each night. Catherine Garcia

6:52 p.m.

The House of Representatives on Wednesday voted to hold Attorney General William Barr and Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross in criminal contempt of Congress for their refusal to hand over subpoenaed documents related to the Trump administration's attempt to add a citizenship question to the 2020 census.

The 230-198 vote was along party lines. Before the vote, Oversight and Reform Committee Chair Elijah Cummings (D-Md.) said he did "not take this decision lightly. Holding any secretary in criminal contempt of Congress is a serious and sober matter, one that I have done everything in my power to avoid. But in the case of the attorney general and the secretary, Secretary Ross, they blatantly obstructed our ability to do congressional oversight into the real reason Secretary Ross was trying for the first time in 70 years to add a citizenship question to the 2020 census."

After weeks of back and forth, with the Department of Justice saying it was giving up the census fight only to have President Trump say he was considering an executive order to ensure the question was included, Trump announced last week he will instead have federal agencies turn over to the Commerce Department records on how many citizens and non-citizens are in the U.S. Catherine Garcia

6:04 p.m.

The House on Wednesday afternoon voted overwhelmingly to table a resolution proposed by Rep. Al Green (D-Texas) on whether to immediately consider articles of impeachment against President Trump, effectively killing the measure.

The final vote tally was 332-95 in favor of tabling. Every Republican voted to table, while Democrats were somewhat split with 95 showing support for considering impeachment, while 137 were opposed.

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) has long opposed immediately pursuing impeachment against Trump, fearing it will harm the Democrats' legislative agenda. Her camp seemingly held firm on Wednesday.

Green's resolution was focused primarily on the president's recent racist tweets targeting four Democratic congresswomen. It made no mention of former Special Counsel Robert Mueller's investigation into 2016 Russian election interference, which has generally been the driver behind calls for impeachment in the past. Instead, Green said Trump had simply brought "contempt, ridicule, disgrace, and disrepute" upon the office of the presidency. Tim O'Donnell

5:58 p.m.

President Trump on Wednesday hosted an unannounced meeting with 27 survivors of religious persecution from 17 countries in the Oval Office, the timing of which has prompted speculation from his critics.

The meet and greet was televised, with Trump listening momentarily to stories of survival from several different people. Those gathered included people from the Uighur community in China, the Yazidi community in Iraq, and the Rohingya community in Myanmar, all religious groups that have recently been subject to brutal persecution either from their state governments or, in the Yazidis case, the Islamic State.

Also in attendance was Paula White, a non-denominational pastor who reportedly advises Trump spiritually. White, speaking after a few of the victims, thanked Trump for his "courageous leadership" in the fight for religious freedom for all people before specifically mentioning that, because of Trump, people in the U.S. could say "Merry Christmas" again.

The surprise event's timing has some people speculating that it could be a way for the president to stave off criticism from his racist tweets targeting four Democratic congresswomen. Tim O'Donnell

5:37 p.m.

Montana Gov. Steve Bullock (D) has exactly one touchy subject.

The 2020 contender isn't too worried that he didn't make the first Democratic debates, he told Politico in a Q&A published Wednesday. He's happy to say he thinks he was "Taylor Swift's No. 22" in reference to the number of Democrats who entered the 2020 race before him. And he won't shy away from his record of pushing ObamaCare to small-town Montanans while also promising to work with Republicans in Washington, D.C.

But don't you dare ask Bullock about what's on his feet, as Politico found out with this question:

On his monogrammed cowboy-style boots

A: "They're just custom boots."

Q: "No, come on. It sounds like there's a story."

A: "I'm happy to answer anything else but the boots."

Q: "Did you get them from a lobbyist?"

A: "Well, they're alligator boots. And I hunted an alligator...Yeah, so let's not write that."

Q: "Are you going to wear them at the debate?"

A: "Probably not now, thank you. I'm going to wear wingtips at this point."

Bullock has secured enough donors to make the second Democratic debates at the end of this month, where it will be an absolute crime not to ask him about the boots. Read the whole interview with Bullock at Politico. Kathryn Krawczyk

5:26 p.m.

Massachusetts prosecutors have dropped sexual assault charges against actor Kevin Spacey.

Spacey was accused of groping an 18-year-old man in Nantucket in 2016, prompting prosecutors to bring indecent assault and battery charges against him. Yet those charges were dropped in entirety due to the "unavailability of the complaining witness," the Nantucket District Court wrote in its Wednesday filing.

The alleged assault was originally reported to police in October 2016, but was made public in 2017, after actor Anthony Rapp accused Spacey of making an advance toward him when he was 14 and Spacey was 26. Police investigating the Nantucket incident said the accuser took video of the event, but after Spacey pleaded not guilty and the trial continued on, just where that footage and cell phone ended up came into question. The accuser pleaded his Fifth Amendment rights regarding the status of the phone, prompting Spacey's lawyer to move to have what he called a "compromised" case dismissed altogether.

Spacey at the time said he didn't remember the incident with Rapp, but apologized for what he called "drunken behavior." Spacey was then cut from his starring role in the final season of the Netflix show House of Cards, and several more allegations against him soon surfaced. Kathryn Krawczyk

5:02 p.m.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention on Wednesday provided provisional statistics suggesting that overdose fatalities likely decreased for the first time in three decades in 2018. While that's good news, the response by most experts is temperate for several reasons.

For starters, nearly 68,000 people died from overdoses, which is lower than 2017's total which topped 70,000, but still a high number. And 2018's numbers are still expected to increase once the complete data set comes in.

Further, overdoses caused by heroin and prescription painkillers decreased, possibly resulting from fewer opioid prescriptions from doctors, but deaths related to fentanyl, cocaine, and methamphetamines all continued to rise.

Finally, there's an important distinction distinction to be made. The data represents a decline in overdose deaths, but not necessarily overdoses, in general. Along those lines, Valerie Hardcastle, a Northern Kentucky University public health expert, told The Associated Press that the increased availablity of Narcan might be a major factor in the decline. Narcan is a nasal spray version of naloxone, a medication used to block the effects of opioids in an emergency situation.

"It's fantastic that we have fewer deaths, don't get me wrong," she said. "But I'm not sure it's an indication that the opioid problem per se is diminishing. It's just that we have greater availability of the drugs that will keep us alive."

Still, Stanford University professor Keith Humphreys called the preliminary data "the first real sign of hope we've had." Tim O'Donnell

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