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April 15, 2019

Why is there so much water on the moon?

Although we've long thought of the moon as a satellite that has existed without water, except in very small amounts, recent data from a NASA spacecraft has revealed that massive amounts of water are being released from its surface when meteors crash into it, National Geographic reported.

Data collected by the LADEE spacecraft back in 2013 and 2014 helped cement these findings, published in the journal Nature Geoscience on Monday. According to the results, up to 220 tons of water is released during meteor showers like this over the course of a single year — way more than we previously thought existed anywhere close to the moon's surface.

With new information that contradicts everything we thought about the moon's water availability, this research is opening up a pathway to understanding more about how the moon formed in the first place. Mehdi Benna, the study's lead author, says there might even be an "ancient reservoir of water" that these particles are coming from. And eventually, the apparent bounty of water could be used in future lunar missions "for both hydration and propulsion." Read more at National Geographic. Shivani Ishwar

August 29, 2018

On Tuesday, White House spokesman Hogan Gidley assured The Washington Post that President Trump really has revoked the security clearance of former CIA Director John Brennan. "The president's order went into effect immediately, and Mr. Brennan no longer has access to classified information," he said.

But the Post notes that "no formal direction was sent from the White House to the CIA ordering it to terminate his clearance and revoke any privileges that came with it," and a senior White House official told the newspaper, without elaborating, that the paperwork to revoke Brennan's clearance has been "delayed." CIA Press Secretary Timothy Barrett told the Post that "the CIA does not comment on individual security clearances."

The topic came up because on MSNBC earlier Tuesday, Brennan said he hasn't received any notification about his security clearance either way. "Ordinarily, when a U.S. official's security clearance is revoked, the agency or department that holds that clearance explains the grounds for its action," the Post explains. "The clearance holder may be given a chance to appeal the decision and argue that the revocation was unjustified." The only news he has gotten about his own clearance was when White House Press Secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders announced it had been revoked on TV, he told MSNBC. "I've not been contacted by anybody at all either before or since then. So whether or not my clearance has been stripped, I'm still uncertain about."

"Given that I think everybody believes that the rationale for stripping me of my clearance is bogus," Brennan suggested, "I'm sure there are some people who are scratching their head right now who maybe have to put together the memorandum to say why I was stripped of my clearances, other than the fact that Mr. Trump might not like me, which is not a valid reason." Peter Weber

March 3, 2017

The U.S. Department of Justice announced Friday that it is ending its review of the Memphis Police Department, which was requested last year by the city's Democratic mayor and police director. "The Department of Justice's [Office of Community Oriented Policing Services] will no longer proceed with the collaborative reform process with the City of Memphis and Memphis Police Department," the official statement read. It did not include an explanation for why the review was being halted.

Attorney General Jeff Sessions has, in the past, questioned policy reports published by the DOJ, calling "some" investigations into the police departments in Chicago and Ferguson, Missouri, "pretty anecdotal and not so scientifically based."

"You have 800,000 police in America, imagine a city of 800,000 people," Sessions said last month. "There's going to be some crime in it, some people are going to make errors."

The review of the Memphis Police Department was expected to take two years and began last October under former Attorney General Loretta Lynch. While there wasn't one single incident that led to the review, The Commercial Appeal reports:

... U.S. Attorney Edward L. Stanton III mentioned a reform initiative last year after a federal review of the fatal shooting of a 19-year-old black man by a white police officer in 2015.

The Justice Department review concluded that there was insufficient evidence to support charges against former Memphis police Officer Connor Schilling in the death of Darrius Stewart. Schilling shot Stewart twice during a fight that began when Schilling tried to arrest Stewart on an active warrant at a traffic stop. [The Commercial Appeal]

There has also been talk of the White House eliminating the COPS program, which supports police departments around the country. It is not clear if the end of the Memphis review is related to the possible end of the COPS program as a whole. The DOJ said COPS would still provide training resources and technical assistance to the Memphis police. Jeva Lange

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