NASA’s Curiosity rover detects methane spike on Mars, intriguing scientists

NASA’s Curiosity rover has detected methane on Mars several times since landing in 2012, but last week, it measured the highest level yet: 21 parts per billion.

This is an “unusually high” level of the odorless, colorless gas, but NASA cautioned that while methane is produced by living organisms, this is not absolute proof of life on Mars, now or ever. “While increased increased methane levels measured by @MarsCuriosity are exciting, as possible indicators for life, it’s important to remember this is an early science result,” NASA’s Thomas Zurbuchen tweeted. On Earth, major sources of methane include cattle and the production of fossil fuels.

Scientists will analyze the information, and plan on conducting more observations, NBC News reports. The methane was detected on Teal Ridge, inside the 96-mile-wide Gale Crater.

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Hotel where American tourists died removes liquor from minibars

A hotel in the Dominican Republic where two American tourists recently died said it is removing liquor bottles from its minibars, but denies the move has anything to do with the deaths.

Erica Lopez, the general manager of The Hard Rock Hotel and Casino in Punta Cana, told CNN the decision to take out the bottles was made last week. Over the last year, at least 10 American tourists have died in the Dominican Republic, including David Harrison, 45, of Maryland, who died at the Hard Rock last July, and Robert Wallace, 67, of California, who died there in April. One theory behind the deaths is that tainted alcohol was somehow involved, and Wallace’s relatives told KTXL he became ill after drinking scotch from the minibar in his room.

The FBI is assisting Dominican officials with toxicology reports, testing samples from some hotel minibars; authorities say that any time someone dies in a hotel room in the Dominican Republic, they test minibars for bacteria and take samples of water from showers and sinks. Last year, 6.5 million tourists visited the Dominican Republic, with 2.2 million from the United States, and officials from both countries say the deaths are not connected and there’s no reason to cancel any upcoming vacations.

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103-year-old runner becomes oldest person to compete and win at the National Senior Games

Julia “Hurricane” Hawkins, 103, is a force to be reckoned with on the track.

The Baton Rouge, Louisiana, resident has always been active, but preferred riding her bicycle to other activities. After she fell off her bike and dislocated her elbow, Hawkins switched to running a few years ago, telling Today, “I always came running in to answer the phone, so I thought maybe I could run.”

Last week, she became the oldest woman to compete — and win — in the National Senior Games, taking home the gold in the 50- and 100-meter races. Hawkins, a former elementary school teacher, doesn’t train for her runs, and said she gets her exercise from gardening. Inspiring older people to stay active is “a good thing,” she told Today, and she wants everyone to remember “you can still do things when you get older. Just keep moving and be interested in things.”

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Treasury Department watchdog investigating Harriet Tubman $20 bill delay

As part of an audit, the Office of the Inspector General will investigate why the Treasury Department delayed the release of a redesigned $20 bill featuring abolitionist Harriet Tubman.

Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.) asked the Treasury’s watchdog to look into the matter and if there was “any involvement by the White House.” In a statement released Monday, Schumer said there are “no women, there are no people of color on our paper currency today, even though they make up a significant majority of our population … the $20 note was a long overdue way to recognize that disparity, and rectify it.”

During the Obama administration, former Treasury Secretary Jacob Lew announced the redesign, scheduled for release in 2020. In May, Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin said the Tubman $20 was being pushed aside, as the $10 and $50 bills needed to be redesigned first due to counterfeit concerns. The audit, which should take about 10 months to complete, will also look at security measures in place for currency.

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Burning Man now has lobbyists on retainer

It’s fair to assume that, when playing word association games, “Burning Man” and “lobbyist” don’t pair together all too often.

But that’s exactly what’s happening in real life, Politico reports. Burning Man, an annual festival — actually, Burning Man’s official website is loud and clear about the fact that the event is not a festival, but a “community,” “temporary city,” or “global cultural movement” — that takes place in the Nevada desert.

Burning Man organizers are reportedly afraid that new federal regulations could end its reign, or at least kill its vibe. The Bureau of Land Management wrote a 372-page draft creating a whole set of new standards that would seemingly knock some of the wind out of the event’s carefree, unrestrained spirit, including calls for reduced light pollution, additional dumpsters, a wall outside of the venue, and maintenance on Nevada’s County Road 34.

So, because those proposals are “in direct conflict with” Burning Man’s “core principles,” the event now has some “top-shelf” lobbyists from the firm Holland & Knight on retainer, Politico reports. Several lobbyists from both sides of the aisle, including a former Trump campaign staffer, will reportedly talk with the Bureau of Land Management on getting a permit for the event.

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Former Taliban and Somali pirate prisoners point out that unlike migrant children, they got toothpaste and soap

Prisoners of some of the world’s worst terrorist groups had a privilege that many migrant children don’t.

Reports had already indicated that migrant children were being held in disgusting conditions, and last week, that story came to a head as a video showed a Trump administration lawyer arguing that toothpaste and soap aren’t necessary to constitute “safe and sanitary” conditions. That viral footage prompted a response from Michael Scott Moore, who tweeted Saturday that “Somali pirates gave me toothpaste and soap.”

Moore would know. He was kidnapped by Somali pirates in 2012 and was held for two and a half years before he was released. His response then got some backup from David Rohde, who tweeted that “the Taliban gave me toothpaste and soap.” The journalist was kidnapped by Taliban members in 2008 and held for eight months before escaping.

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An Associated Press report last week first described conditions at a Clint, Texas detention facility, where there was “inadequate food, water and sanitation for the 250 infants, children and teens” being held there. A doctor who visited the facility later filed a report saying it “could be compared to torture facilities.” All but 30 of those children have since been taken out of the facility and to a tent detention center, Rep. Veronica Escobar (D-Texas) told AP on Monday.

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2020 Democrat Bill de Blasio asked his son for the cringiest debate advice

New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio needs a presidential primary boost. This probably won’t do it.

On Monday, de Blasio tweeted an apparent text exchange between himself and his 21-year-old son Dante, in which the 2020 Democrat asks his son for advice ahead of Wednesday’s primary debates. “Hey Dad, I’m glad you’ve asked,” Dante responds in what one can only assume is the tone of an infomercial host, before going on to share some certifiably cool tips.

For starters, Dante tells de Blasio to relate the story of meeting his wife Chirlane McCray to “how hard it is to find, like, ‘the one’ on tinder.” De Blasio is skeptical, so Dante suggests bringing up the universally beloved subject of dogs, and then proposes de Blasio “tell people that NYC was just Staten Island when you started your first term.” For an extra hip approach, Dante also recommends the tallest candidate on the stage try “a Zion leap over the moderator to the rim.”

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It was in de Blasio’s best interest to ask Dante for some help, given that his stellar ad for his father’s 2013 mayoral race is said to have steered de Blasio to victory. Dante is also a state debate champion, as de Blasio alludes to in his carefully crafted text exchange. And while this exchange isn’t exactly a stellar look, Dante should at least be credited with convincing de Blasio to apparently ditch his beloved flip phone.

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Julia Louis-Dreyfus, Mark Hamill, and other celebrities are staging a play about the Mueller report. John Kerry is very excited.

Former Secretary of State John Kerry would like to thank actors Julia Louis-Dreyfus and Mark Hamill for their artistry — but he’s not talking about their portrayals of Elaine Benes, Selina Meyer, or Luke Skywalker.

Instead, Kerry is talking about a their participation in a play based on Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s report on his investigation into 2016 Russian election interference. Hamill and Louis-Dreyfus will join a wide-ranging cast, including John Lithgow, Alyssa Milano, Annette Bening, Sigourney Weaver and Zachary Quinto, to perform a one-night-only show titled The Investigation: A Search For the Truth in Ten Acts. The play, which is written by Pulitzer Prize-winner Robert Schenkkan, is set to air in New York at 9 p.m. It will be live streamed.

Kerry, it seems, will be tuning in, and he’s quite excited about it, going so far as to call the 10-act play “an act of public service.”

If, for some reason, you feel the urge to see not one, but two staged performances about the Mueller report, Arena Stage in Washington, D.C., is presenting an 11-hour marathon reading of Volume 2 of the Mueller report in July, The Washington Post reports.

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2 infants and a toddler found dead along U.S.-Mexico border

Four people have been found dead along the Rio Grande Hidalgo County Sheriff Eddie Guerra said Sunday.

Two of the people found were infants, one was a toddler, and one was a 20-year-old woman, Guera continued in a Sunday tweet. They all appear to be undocumented immigrants, an FBI official told NPR.

Right now, it looks as if the four people died of dehydration and heat overexposure, and foul play is not currently suspected, the FBI said. Still, the agency will be continuing an investigation into the deaths, with a spokesperson calling it “an incredibly heartbreaking situation, which seems to happen far too often.” The bodies were found close to where a section of President Trump’s proposed border wall is being built, seeing as the Rio Grande is the most heavily trafficked area of the border, Customs and Border Protection told The Associated Press.

The news comes as reports reveal that migrant children are living in unsanitary, overcrowded detention facilities along the border. A recent lawsuit alleged that more than 300 children in a Clint, Texas facility — some as young as 2 1/2 years old — were living in conditions that “could be compared to torture facilities,” a local physician who visited the facility said in a report. All but 30 of those children have since been taken out of the facility, Rep. Veronica Escobar (D-Texas) told The Associated Press on Monday. The children were reportedly moved to a tent detention center, a Homeland Security official told NBC News.

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Megan Rapinoe’s 2 penalties carry U.S. past Spain to Women’s World Cup quarterfinals

The U.S. women’s national soccer team faced a challenge from Spain in the first round of the knockout stages of the 2019 FIFA Women’s World Cup on Monday. But they held on for a 2-1 victory to advance to the quarterfinals.

Megan Rapinoe played the role of hero for the U.S., finding the back of the net on two penalties — the first in the seventh minute, the second, which proved to be the game-winner, in the 76th. The second penalty was not without controversy when a long VAR delay took hold of their game to confirm the call via video replay. But the pause didn’t throw Rapinoe off, as she calmly edged the ball past the outstretched hand of Spanish goalkeeper Sandra Paños. Watch the clincher below.

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Spain provided the U.S. with their toughest competition of the tournament so far. Before Monday’s contest, the U.S. had not allowed a goal. Spain’s Jennifer Hermoso scored in the 9th to minute knot the game, 1-1, where it remained until Rapinoe’s second penalty. But the Spanish side couldn’t convert again.

The U.S. on Friday will play France, the tournament hosts, who are widely considered the top U.S. challenger for the title. France is fresh off a similarly tough game, in which they squeaked past Brazil, 2-1.

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