Day: August 5, 2017



EXCLUSIVE: There are rumblings at the highest executive levels that AT&T’s top executives are considering divesting some Time Warner assets — including news organization CNN and celebrity gossip site TMZ — after they merge.

AT&T expects the Justice Department to approve its $85 billion acquisition of Time Warner, and for the deal to close, by year end. The telco has already named longtime exec John Stankey to be CEO of AT&T’s media properties. He’s leading the Time Warner Merger Integration Planning Team, working with Time Warner CEO Jeff Bewkes.

CBS has long had its eye on CNN. The broadcast company’s CEO, Les Moonves, said at Herb Allen’s Sun Valley retreat last month that he would be interested if the cable news network became available. Neither CBS or AT&T would comment.

For TMZ, Deadline was told that AT&T is considering a sale to a private equity company. “They don’t want any controversy,” one source with knowledge of AT&T’s intentions says, adding that the communications giant may also be looking to sell other properties under Turner.

Selling CNN might help avoid a different kind of controversy for AT&T: President Donald Trump loathes the news network. That could be troublesome for telco CEO Randall Stephenson. His company frequently does business with the FCC, now controlled by Trump appointees.

AT&T was one of the largest donors to Trump’s inaugural committee, giving $2 million in cash contributions and $82,483 in-kind donations for mobile equipment/software, according to The Hill.

Last year, Stephenson personally donated $50,000 to the Senate Leadership Fund — a SuperPAC controlled by Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell — as well as $11,000 to the National Republican Senatorial Campaign Committee, according to filings compiled by the Center for Responsive Politics.

In October, shortly after agreeing to buy Time Warner, Stephenson said he’s “committed to continuing the editorial independence of CNN. Independence is what makes CNN so popular and so valuable. We will not do anything to change that.”

This would be a good time to sell CNN. News networks are enjoying some of their best ratings ever as the public feasts on daily updates about the Trump administration. CNN recently had its most-watched Q2 ever.

Time Warner doesn’t offer financials for individual networks. But this week the company cited CNN’s strong performance as a factor that helped to lift Q2 revenues at the Turner networks operation by 3%, to $3.1 billion, in an otherwise difficult quarter for cable channels.

CNN generated about $1.3 billion in revenue, and $416M in cash flow, in 2016, S&P Global Market Intelligence’s SNL Kagan estimated. That does not include companion networks such as CNN en Espanol and CNN International.

CNN would enable CBS News to expand its international reach and distribution. Last month, CBS replaced ABC in a newsgathering and sharing alliance with BBC. CBS had been in a similar arrangement with Sky, which is awaiting UK approvals for a deal to sell to 21st Century Fox.

Blending CBS News with CNN would enable the company to cut duplication, and develop additional opportunities to showcase its journalists and their work. That strategy appears to be working at Comcast’s NBCUniversal, where people and programs frequently cross between NBC, MSNBC, CNBC, and Telemundo.

But Moonves might have to work to sell CBS shareholders on the merits of buying a cable channel. The business is widely seen as in decline as pay TV subscriptions decline.

That was one reason many CBS shareholders were relieved last year when Sumner and Shari Redstone scrapped the idea of merging the network with Viacom. The Redstones’ National Amusements controls about 80% of the voting shares in both companies.

Moonves said at the time that he’s “very happy with the way we are as a stand-alone company,” and was “able to play the game just fine.”

(Full disclosure: Busch has a pending suit against AT&T charging it with invasion of privacy in connection with the Anthony Pellicano wiretapping case.)

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'ROGUE, BRUTAL REGIME' McMaster: N. Korea nuclear strike threat is 'impossible to overstate'

National security adviser H.R. McMaster said Saturday the threat of North Korea launching a nuclear weapon at the U.S. or another rival nation is “impossible to overstate” and repeated that a preemptive military strike remains an option.

“It’s impossible to overstate the danger associated with a rogue, brutal regime,” McMaster told Hugh Hewitt on the conservative commentator’s MSNBC TV show.

“Are we preparing a plan for a preventive war? … The president has been very clear that he’s not going to tolerate North Korea being able to threaten the U.S. … So of course we have to provide all options to do that, and that includes a military option.”

Still, he said the United States would like to resolve the situation “short of what would be a very costly war.”

The retired Army general said President Trump has been “deeply briefed” on the strategy on North Korea.  

Tensions have mounted with Pyongyang’s two recent successful tests of intercontinental ballistic missiles. And Trump has sought help from China and South Korea toward de-escalating the situation.

In the interview, McMaster spoke about several problem spots around the world, including Iran and Venezuela, where residents fighting against an oppressive regime have also raised concerns about U.S. military intervention.

The U.N. Security Council was expected to vote on a new sanctions resolution that would increase economic pressure on North Korea to return to negotiations on its missile program.

McMaster said “democracy is now over in Venezuela” but significantly downplayed the potential of a military operation from neighboring countries or the United States.

“I don’t see an outside military intervention,” he said

McMaster also reiterated that Trump doesn’t like the so-called Iran nuclear deal, brokered by the former Obama administration and that eases billion in economic sanctions on the rogue nation.

The deal eases the sanctions in exchange for Iran scaling back its pursuit of a nuclear weapon.

McMaster said Trump thinks Iran has already violated the spirit of the agreement, pointing to the country’s support of the Assad regime in Syria. However, he declined to say whether the U.S. will exit the agreement after an upcoming 90-day review. 

The Associated Press contributed to this report. 

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Former Texas Gov. Mark White dies at age 77

Former Texas Gov. Mark White, a Democrat who championed public education reforms that included the landmark “no-pass, no-play” policy for high school athletes during his single term in office, has died. He was 77.

The former governor, who fought kidney cancer for years, died Saturday in Houston shortly after waking up and feeling uncomfortable, according to his wife, Linda Gale White, and his son Andrew White.

“He cared about Texas deeply,” his son said. “He realized that this wasn’t about getting re-elected. This wasn’t about being popular. This was about making Texas a better place.”

White was governor from 1983 until 1987. He was Texas’ attorney general when he defeated incumbent Gov. Bill Clements, Texas’ first Republican governor since Reconstruction who spent a then-record $13 million on his re-election campaign. Clements came back to beat White four years later.

White’s education reforms included pay raises and competency tests for teachers, class size limits for elementary schools and the creation of the state’s high school basic skills graduation test. White also pushed through a $4 billion tax hike for schools and highways.

In a 2011 interview with The Associated Press, White said he tried to model his education platform on what his mother, a former first-grade teacher, talked about she experienced in the classroom.

“It was all designed around what a first-grade teacher needs,” White said. “It was probably the broadest-based education program in modern U.S. history. … I was very proud of what we accomplished.”

White appointed Dallas billionaire Ross Perot — who ran for president as an independent in 1992 — to lead a special panel on education that developed some of the key changes. The no-pass, no-play initiative, which barred students from playing school sports if they were failing a class, was a politically tricky and unpopular move in a state crazy about its high school football. It had to survive a challenge in the state Supreme Court.

White underestimated the passionate resistance to no-pass, no-play that sparked protests and a few threats of violence.

“It was horrible,” White said in 2011. “I misread the intensity of it until I saw it for myself in West Texas. My security people thought I should go by myself: ‘Here’s my gun. You go.'”

A state district judge blocked the provision before the state Supreme Court ruled it was a legitimate function of the state’s goal to provide quality education. But White still had to defend the rule during his losing campaign in 1986.

“Leave it alone,” he implored state lawmakers as he left office in 1987. “Let’s be real: Anyone who can study a playbook can study a textbook. Americans didn’t get to the moon on a quarterback sneak.”

White also pushed Texas to move further from its agricultural roots and ties to the oil economy by trying to attract new industries. During his term, dropping oil prices worldwide shook the state’s economy.

White considered himself the symbolic leader of new breed of Texan who embraced the emerging era of high technology and warned the state’s residents they would not find their future at the bottom of an oil well.

White noted his was the first generation raised after World War II, and he grew up in the shadow of the Cold War and the towering skyscrapers in booming Texas cities.

On his inauguration day, White dramatized his opposition to what he called the “privileged class” by walking a block in a cold rain to the Governor’s Mansion. Once there, he used gold-painted bolt cutters to cut a chain that had been strung across the front gate and shouted “Come on in,” to followers. Several hundred did, forcing White to stop them at the stairs leading up to the master bedroom.

White struggled with many of the same issues that have faced Texas governors for generations. Drought plagued West Texas, and a Christmas freeze in 1983 wiped out citrus crops and most of the winter vegetables in fields that normally employed thousands of workers.

Plunging oil prices walloped the state economy, and drug smuggling on the border led White to implore the federal government to help control the border with Mexico. White also pushed for Texas’ seat belt law, which went into effect in 1985.

White grappled with staggering unemployment on the Mexico border that was blamed on the poor economy, the devaluation of the peso and immigration.

“I learned it’s a lot harder to govern the state when the price of oil drops to $9 a barrel,” White said in 2011.

Despite the struggling state economy, White pushed for and won the big tax increases he needed to pay for education and roads, breaking a campaign pledge not to raise taxes. The tax increase cost him politically.

“I asked for a tax increase and said, ‘Blame me,’ and you did,” White told state lawmakers on his way out of office. “So much for guts and glory. Whatever happens in the next four years, don’t blame me.”

As governor, White supported the state’s use of the death penalty. While Texas executed 20 inmates during his administration, White later said the death penalty was most distasteful thing I had to do” as governor.

By 2009, White had reservations about capital punishment. He urged lawmakers to reconsider its use and the risk that the state could send an innocent person to their death. White worked with the Innocence Project on behalf of wrongfully convicted inmates.

Mark Wells White Jr., was born in Henderson on March 17, 1940. His family moved to Houston where he attended public schools before attending Baylor University, where he earned degrees in business administration and law.

After several years as an assistant attorney general, White went into private practice. He was appointed secretary of state by Gov. Dolph Briscoe in 1973 and was elected state attorney general in 1979.

After returning to private law practice, White made a last stab at public office by running for governor again in the 1990 Democratic primary but was defeated by Ann Richards, who went on to become governor. He also went into private business as owner of a security company.

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Oakland Athletics' Matt Joyce suspended two games for using gay slur in confrontation with fan

Oakland Athletics outfielder Matt Joyce has been suspended two games for uttering a gay slur during a confrontation with a fan, Major League Baseball announced Saturday. 

In a statement, Joyce said he was “beyond sorry” for what he said to the fan during Friday night’s 8-6 loss to the Los Angeles Angels in Anaheim.

Joyce’s lost salary — more than $54,000 — will be donated to PFLAG, a family and ally organization supporting the LGBTQ community. Joyce will also take part in a public outreach initiative with the organization. 

“I sincerely apologize to the fans, the Oakland A’s, MLB and most importantly the LGBTQ community for my comments and actions,” Joyce’s statement said. “A fan yelled vulgar and obscene words about me and my family and I let my frustrations and emotions get the better of me.

“I am beyond sorry for the inappropriate language that I used and understand and agree that those words should NEVER come out of someone’s mouth no matter the situation. Anyone who knows me will tell you that it is not reflective of me as a person, how I treat others, how I live my life and that those hurtful words are not my views. I fully support and hope to help the LGBTQ community with their efforts in being treated fairly. I intend to let my actions speak louder than anything more that can be said about this truly regrettable moment.”

The exchange occurred in the eighth inning after Angels first baseman C.J. Cron made a diving stop of Joyce’s hard-hit grounder.

As Joyce returned to the dugout, he uttered several profanities at the fan, called him a gay slur and challenged him to fight, according to Associated Press photographer Mark J. Terrill, who overheard the exchange. Terrill said he didn’t hear the first part of the exchange.

“The Oakland Athletics are very disappointed by the comments Matt Joyce made to a fan during the eighth inning of last night’s game,” the A’s statement said. “This language is unacceptable and will not be tolerated by our team. We pride ourselves on being inclusive and expect our entire organization to live up to higher standards. We appreciate that Matt is contrite about his conduct and know he will learn from this incident.”

Joyce, 33, is in his first season with Oakland, his 10th in the majors overall and played with the Angels for one season in 2015.

After the game, Joyce also acknowledged he shouldn’t have reacted.

“It’s just one of those things that fans kind of get into the game. Obviously, we’re pretty frustrated on our side and I had just hit a ball hard and had Cron make a good play,” Joyce said. “I was walking back to the dugout and just had a fan yell some vulgar and obscene words.

“For me it just wasn’t the right time to say some stuff like that. I fired back and obviously as soon as you fire back you regret saying anything, because it’s just not worth it.”

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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Trump's border wall, immigration plans re-emerge at top of national debate

President Trump’s campaign promise to build a border wall is again starting to galvanize Washington after months of taking a back seat to ObamaCare and the investigation into Russian election meddling.

The Republican-led Congress in recent days has introduced bills that would put tens of billions of dollars toward completing a wall along the U.S.-Mexico border.

Then critics’ outrage over the wall plan intensified Thursday when The Washington Post published a leaked transcript of a call between Trump and Mexico President Enrique Peña Nieto earlier this year discussing the divisive issue.

“You cannot say that to the press,” Trump told Peña Nieto in response to him saying Mexico would not pay for the wall. “The press is going to go with that and I cannot live with that. You cannot say that to the press because I cannot negotiate under those circumstances.”

On Thursday, Texas Sen. John Cornyn, the chamber’s No. 2 Republican, introduced a bill that would include spending $15 billion over roughly four years on border security and a proposed wall.

The wall would combine a physical structure and technology to stop or at least slow the influx of illegal immigrants into the United States. And the bill would help pay for thousands of new judges, immigration officials and border agents that Trump wants to hire.  

The bill also calls for a “massive” increase in resources at U.S. ports of entry and a national system for tracking people entering and exiting the country, according to Cornyn’s office.

“For too long law enforcement on the front lines haven’t had the tools they need to stop the flow of illegal immigration, and this bill will provide both the resources and plan to finally secure the border,” Cornyn said.

The bill is co-authored by fellow GOP Sens. John Barrasso of Wyoming, Ron Johnson of Wisconsin and Thom Tillis of North Carolina. They, like Cornyn, suggest the wall concept predates Trump and say the intent of the bill is to secure the border as a first step toward comprehensive immigration reform.

“Until our borders are fully secure, the current system will continue to reward people who enter our country illegally over those who follow the law,” Barrasso said. 

Last week, Texas GOP Rep. Mike McCaul, chairman of the House Committee on Homeland Security, introduced a bill with an estimated cost of at least $15 billion that includes a physical wall, thousands more border agents and deploying the so-called “Biometric Entry-Exit System.”

“Securing our borders is first and foremost a national security issue,” said McCaul, who reportedly worked with Cornyn on the legislation. “Illegal immigrants, smugglers, and drug cartels continue to infiltrate our country. So we must quickly secure the homeland through infrastructure, technology and personnel.”

And like Cornyn’s bill, the House legislation addresses the issues of human trafficking and increases resources at ports of entry and for local law enforcement agencies.

For months Trump’s agenda has been slowed by the GOP-controlled Congress’ failed efforts to repeal and replace ObamaCare and investigations into whether the Trump campaign colluded with Russia in the 2016 presidential race.

House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi has already seized on the border wall issue as part of her 2018 reelection bid.

“President Donald Trump and Paul Ryan are moving forward with their border wall,” the California Democrat said in a fundraising letter Saturday. “They want to break ground on construction as soon as possible so that we won’t be able to stop them. And, of course, they expect you to pick up the tab.”

The House and Senate measures also were introduced within days of Trump saying he supports a revised plan by GOP Sens. Tom Cotton of Arkansas and David Perdue of Georgia for a merit-based system for foreigners seeking legal permanent residence, or green cards, through employers.

The issue sparked an acrid exchange Thursday between Trump policy adviser Stephen Miller and CNN White House reporter Jim Acosta.


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Congress takes summer recess, leaves behind ObamaCare, looming spending, debt issues

Congress has left Washington for the summer with a trail of unfinished business and several immediate concerns when they return in September — increasing the federal debt limit and passing a temporary spending bill to avert a government shutdown.

The effort by the Republican-led Congress to repeal and replace ObamaCare appears dead for now, despite President Trump goading leaders to try again to give him a major legislative victory.

“We’ve pivoted to tax reform and I think we’ve got to stay on that,” Utah Republican Sen. Orrin Hatch, chairman of the Senate Finance Committee, said Friday.

GOP House leaders passed their ObamaCare overhaul bill in May. But Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell tried and failed several times since early July to present a bill that at least 50 of his 52 GOP senators could support and pass.

With passage appearing at least possible last month, the Kentucky Republican boldly required senators to stay on Capitol Hill for the first two weeks of their August recess.

But after a series of repeal and-or replace measures failed in recent weeks, lawmakers returned to their home states, with some taking overseas trips as part of congressional delegations.  

Congress must increase the debt limit to prevent a jarring federal default.

Though many Republicans cannot bring themselves to back a debt increase, since they run the government it’s their responsibility to deliver those votes. Democratic support also will be required, and some hope they’ll win concessions in exchange.

A stopgap measure will be needed because the 12 annual spending bills are behind schedule. There’s no agreement on their overall price tag, which will be in the $1 trillion-plus range.

One wild card is whether Trump will press to fund the U.S.-Mexico border wall he has pledged. That could spark a nasty confrontation with Democrats.

Republicans have had few major successes in their first seven months of controlling the White House and Capitol Hill.

Among their victories, the Senate sent Justice Neil Gorsuch to the Supreme Court, and Congress passed bills bolstering veterans’ health programs and financing the Food and Drug Administration.

Members also approved another sanctioning Russia for its 2016 election meddling, which Trump resentfully signed knowing Congress would lopsidedly override a veto.

Passing tax reform upon returning to Capitol Hill after Labor Day would give congressional Republicans a big win — as next year’s midterm elections, with all 435 House seats on the line, fast approach.

The White House and Republicans promise to revamp the loophole-choked tax code and lower rates for corporations and individuals. Along with repealing and replacing former President Barack Obama’s signature health care law, this is the Holy Grail for the GOP.

But core principles remain unresolved, including whether the effort would further bloat the budget deficit. Crucial details must be settled, among them how far to lower rates and which tax credits and deductions would be erased. The last time those problems were reconciled and the tax code broadly reshaped was 1986.

The Senate aims to approve the annual defense policy bill in September. That’s when Senate Armed Services Committee Chairman John McCain, R-Ariz., expects to return to Washington after starting brain cancer treatment. He and McConnell wanted to pass the bill last month. But Sen. Rand Paul, R-Ky., thwarted that plan. Paul wants votes on amendments on indefinite detention and war authorization.

McCain has warned he’ll use the bill to map a strategy for Afghanistan if Trump fails to develop a plan.

The House and Senate intelligence committees are investigating whether Russia worked with Trump’s presidential campaign to try to help him win the election. The FBI and Justice Department special counsel Robert Mueller are also investigating.

Trump has repeatedly denigrated the issue as “fake news” and a “witch hunt.”

Lawmakers from both parties seem determined to press on. Senators introduced bipartisan bills last week creating judicial review procedures that could shield Mueller from firing by Trump.

They hope to approve a bipartisan bill speeding federal approval of projects to export liquified natural gas and boosting energy sources and efficiency.

Republicans also want to roll back the Endangered Species Act, saying it hinders drilling and logging.

In addition, several programs expire Sept. 30, including the Children’s Health Insurance Program, a Democratic favorite.

Also facing expiration are federal flood insurance and programs run by the Federal Aviation Administration.

Conservatives chafe at renewing flood insurance, which is $25 billion in debt. FAA renewal is stuck over a plan to transfer the agency’s air traffic control system to a private non-profit organization.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.




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British model was kidnapped, held for ransom in Milan, police say

A Polish man has been jailed in the kidnapping of a British model held captive in northern Italy for six days last month, police said Saturday.

Milan police said the man, who holds British residence, was arrested on a charge of suspected kidnapping for extortion purposes. They didn’t release his identity.


The Telegraph reported that Lukasz Pawel Herba, 30, a Polish citizen who lives in the UK, was arrested and charged with the attack. Police said he confessed to the kidnapping.

Police official Lorenzo Bucossi told reporters the 20-year-old woman had come to Milan for a photo shoot, apparently a phony setup, and was abducted on July 11.

Based on court documents, Corriere della Sera reported the woman was drugged by her abductor and held in a small town in the northwestern Piedmont region of Italy. At one point, the newspaper said, the woman was told she could be freed upon payment of 50,000 euros (around $60,000).


The report said investigators also are exploring the possibility the woman was abducted so she could be auctioned off online as a sex slave.

Corriere said the suspect discovered she had a young child and considered her unsuitable for sex trafficking. Bucossi said the suspect dropped her off near the British Consulate in Milan on July 17, but it wasn’t clear why the kidnapping ended.

Whether the suspect had accomplices is also under investigation.

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Venezuela troops guard prosecutor's office as foes targeted

Security forces surrounded the entrance to Venezuela’s chief prosecutor’s office Saturday ahead of a session of the newly installed constitutional assembly that is expected to debate removing the onetime loyalist turned arch government critic.

Luisa Ortega Diaz denounced what she called a military “siege” on Twitter, publishing photos apparently taken from security cameras showing some 30 national guardsmen in riot gear standing outside her headquarters in Caracas. Access to the downtown block where the building is located was completely restricted amid a heavy troop deployment.

The pro-government constitutional assembly meets Saturday after convening a day earlier for the first time. Top on the agenda is expected to be a proposal to remove Ortega, a longtime loyalist who broke with President Nicolas Maduro’s government amid widespread protests in April over what she said was his breaking of Venezuela’s constitutional order.

“Don’t think we’re going to wait weeks, months or years,” former Foreign Minister Delcy Rodriguez said on Friday after she was voted unanimously by all 545 delegates to lead the assembly.

“Tomorrow we start to act. The violent fascists, those who wage economic war on the people, those who wage psychological war, justice is coming for you.”

The head of the Organization of American States condemned what he called a “flagrant violation” of the prosecutor’s institutional independence. And the Inter-American Court of Human Rights, an autonomous arm of the OAS, granted “precautionary measures” of protection for Ortega, saying she faces imminent risk of harm after senior officials linked her to alleged “terrorism.”

The constitutional assembly was seated despite strong criticism from the United States, other countries and the Venezuelan opposition, which fear the assembly will be a tool for imposing dictatorship. Supporters say it will pacify a country rocked by violent protests.

Its installation is virtually certain to intensify a political crisis that has brought four months of protests in which at least 120 people have died and hundreds more have been jailed.

Maduro vows the assembly will strip opposition lawmakers of their constitutional immunity from prosecution, while members of congress say they will only be removed by force.

The opposition is struggling to regain its footing in the face of the government’s strong-arm tactics and the re-emergence of old, internal divisions.

Several opposition activists have been jailed in recent days, others are rumored to be seeking exile and one leader has broken ranks from the opposition alliance to say his party will field candidates in regional elections despite widespread mistrust of Venezuela’s electoral system.  

In a sign of its cowered and demoralized state, only a few hundred demonstrators showed up for a Friday protest against the constitutional assembly, one of the smallest turnouts in months. Those who did turn out said fear of arrest — rights groups claim there are more than 600 “political prisoners” jailed during the protests — may be keeping people at home but urged Venezuelans to remain mobilized.

“This is what the constitutional assembly will bring: more repression,” opposition lawmaker Miguel Pizarro said.

However, Maduro accuses his opponents of using violence and argues that the constitutional assembly is the best way to restore peace. On Friday he heralded security forces who have been on the front lines of daily street battles, claiming that 580 of them had
suffered serious injuries from attacks by “terrorist” protesters.

“I feel deeply the wounds of each one of you,” Maduro said addressing a small group of injured national guardsmen. “With your bodies as your shield, you have defended the right to peace.”

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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9-year-old applies for alien-fighting job, NASA responds

A 9-year-old boy answered a call from NASA to protect Earth from aliens – and got an encouraging response to his job application.

“My name is Jack Davis and I would like to apply for the planetary protection officer job,” the fourth-grader wrote in a letter. “I may be nine but think I would be fit for the job. One of the reasons is my sister says I am an alien also I have seen almost all the space and alien movies I can see.”


The job advertisement for a planetary protection officer explained that space missions sometimes introduce Earth organisms into other parts of the solar system. 

In technical terms, the officer would assist with the “avoidance of organic-constituent and biological contamination in human and robotic space exploration.”


In bolstering his case for the job, Jack explained in his letter, “I have also seen the show Marvel Agents of Shield and hope to see the movie Men in Black. I am great at video games. I am young, so I can learn to think like an Alien.”

Although the position “may not be in real-life what the title conjures up,” NASA said it promotes “the responsible exploration of our solar system by preventing microbial contamination.”

Jack received a letter from Dr. James L. Green, the director of NASA’s planetary science division, saying the officer position was “very important work.”

“We are always looking for bright future scientists and engineers to help us, so I hope you will study hard and do well in school. We hope to see you here at NASA one of these days!” Green’s letter says.

He also got a call from NASA’s planetary research director, Jonathan Rall, to congratulate him on his interest.

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Hit song 'Despacito' becomes most viewed video on YouTube

The music video for the No. 1 hit song “Despacito” has a new record — it’s become the most popular clip on YouTube of all-time with more than three billion views.

YouTube announced Friday that Luis Fonsi’s ubiquitous song with Daddy Yankee has surpassed previous record holder “See You Again,” the song by Wiz Khalifa and Charlie Puth from the “Furious 7” soundtrack.

“Despacito” became an international smash hit this year, topping the Billboard Hot 100 chart. The record-breaking video does not include the popular remix with Justin Bieber; that version has been viewed more than 464 million times.

“Despacito” is on track to become the first video to reach three billion views on YouTube. The video is also the most “liked” video on YouTube.

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