Category: New Posts

Woman who opened Anger Room as safe outlet for aggression allegedly murdered by ex-boyfriend…


a group of people standing in a room: Donna Alexander's step father Larry Armour of Little Rock, Arkansas (center, left) and father Donald Alexander of Pleasanton, New Jersey touch a photo of her during a vigil, Monday, Oct. 1, 2018 at Cole Park in the Uptown area of Dallas.

Donna Alexander’s step father Larry Armour of Little Rock, Arkansas (center, left) and father Donald Alexander of Pleasanton, New Jersey touch a photo of her during a vigil, Monday, Oct. 1, 2018 at Cole Park in the Uptown area of Dallas.

© Tom Fox/Dallas Morning News/TNS

Growing up on Chicago’s South Side, Donna Alexander dreamed of creating a safe space for people to release anger and stress, in the hopes of quelling violence and unnecessary pain.

She opened Anger Room in Dallas in 2008, allowing clients to smash household objects to blow off steam, and the business was featured in a September episode of “The Real Housewives of Dallas.”

But now Alexander is dead at age 36, allegedly at the hands of a former boyfriend. Nathaniel Mitchell – who had been in an on-and-off relationship with Alexander for years – has been charged with murder in connection with her Sept. 24 death, according to authorities. Mitchell, 34, is in custody at the jail in Tarrant County, Texas, in lieu of $250,000 bond, officials said.

Alexander’s sister, Lauren Armour of Chicago’s Bronzeville neighborhood, called the manner of death particularly tragic given Alexander’s life’s work.

“Donna’s thing was, instead of people hurting people, why not let it out on objects so a life isn’t lost, to keep people out of jail?” Armour said. “A therapeutic way to get the anger from inside of them and help to relieve stress.”

Mitchell had taken Alexander to the emergency room with severe injuries on Sept. 21 but “staff believed his story was inconsistent with her injuries,” according to a written statement by police in Grand Prairie, Texas.

Mitchell was first charged with aggravated assault, but the charge was upgraded to murder after Alexander died days later, according to police.

“No matter how much she tried to get away from it, he always ended up back in her life,” Armour said. “She was talented, creative, loved people and loved them hard. Despite how ugly a person might be, she loved them hard.”

Alexander grew up near the White Sox ballpark and attended Dunbar Vocational Career Academy, her sister said. She moved to the Dallas area as a young adult, and at first tested her business model by allowing friends and family to bash household items for $5 in her garage.

In an interview with the Tribune about her business just a few weeks before her death, Alexander said her inspiration for Anger Room came from growing up in Chicago and seeing people go to jail for behaviors like punching holes in a wall.

“We’re all born with anger,” Alexander told the Tribune. “I just figured it was an alternative, a way to get rid of anger.”

In recent years, similar businesses have been popping up across the country. In 2017, Rage Room opened in the River North neighborhood, where patrons pay to hit television sets and old printers with baseball bats and crowbars, or smash dishes against a wall.

Before her death, Alexander was planning to expand to another location in Kentucky.

“I think it’s a primal instinct we have,” Alexander had told the Tribune. “Afterward, it’s like a weight has been lifted.”

Armour said Alexander loved raising her young son and daughter, and also helped make clothes for kids in need and donated food and hygiene products to the homeless.

Visit the Chicago Tribune at www.chicagotribune.com



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Conservative think tank scholar opens about transitioning to being a woman…



Giselle Donnelly in August. (Courtesy of Elizabeth Donnelly)

Giselle Donnelly is a renowned national security expert, author and conservative think-tank scholar — and even though she’s 65 years old, she was “born” only this year. That’s because Giselle has just recently transitioned to living openly as a trans woman. She is now re-introducing herself to the Washington community she has been a part of her entire adult life.

Giselle came into the world as Thomas Donnelly, the name most of Washington’s foreign policy establishment has known her by over her long career in media, policy and politics. She has now “changed her name and crossed genders,” she told me in an interview.

Giselle’s public acknowledgement of her gender identity comes after decades of secrecy, followed by five years of self-exploration and personal evolution.

It’s a story of suffering, struggle, loss and love — with a distinctly avant-garde twist. But, for Giselle, it’s simply the story of what happened to her as she gradually found the courage and support to understand — and then outwardly show — who she was on the inside all along.

“The whole thing is based on honesty,” she said. “Instead of leading a secret, private life that’s separate from my other life, now they are back together again. … We’ll see how our community responds.”

The conservative national security community in Washington is not known for its enlightened thinking on gender identity. Yet, so far, Giselle said, she has received nothing but support from her bosses at the American Enterprise Institute, where she works as a resident fellow in defense and security studies.

AEI President Arthur Brooks and Vice President for Foreign Policy Danielle Pletka told me their decision to support Giselle was a simple one, since she’s the same person dedicated to the same principles that made her a good fit for the institution all this time. “We are proud that she is part of the AEI family,” they told me.

As for the rest of the national security community’s willingness and ability to accept Giselle for who she is — well, she realizes that might take some time.

“I ask for people’s indulgence. That line of gender and sexuality is deeply personal for everybody,” she said. “I’m appreciative of what I’m asking of people. But as long as I can keep doing useful work, I’d rather be judged principally by that.”

As with many others, Giselle’s gender journey started at a very young age, wrapped in secrecy and shame. She hoped she would grow out of it or something would come along and cure her, but that’s not how it works. Only later in life did she come to understand her double life was unhealthy and she had other options.

“Over time, it becomes a more normal thing, more central to your perception of yourself,” she said. “I don’t want to make it seem more courageous than it is, but it’s very corrosive to do it the other way.”

A turning point came five years ago, when, a few months after separating from her first wife, Giselle met a photographer and makeup artist named Elizabeth Taylor. A former naval nuclear inspector, Taylor opened up a beauty shop in Washington called Makeovers that helps trans women find their style. The shop became an important node in a small but growing trans community in D.C., and was featured by the Washington Post in 2015.

Giselle and Beth shared a love of national security, wine, gender fluidity and BDSM. They soon began dating, and last year they were married. Those close to them who missed this time in their lives will soon be able to see it up close and personal. For about two and a half years, a film crew followed them and documented their relationship, along with Giselle’s gender journey.

Called “The Makeover,” the film debuts next month at the Alexandria Film Festival. The filmmakers call it “a distinctly traditional love story set in a decidedly non-traditional milieu of shifting gender.” The movie follows Giselle from when her female identity was a part-time alter ego in a fetish setting to her emergence as the full-time Giselle she is today.

“You can see an evolution throughout the film,” she said. “Our marriage is the final epilogue to it.”

In one scene, the film shows Giselle reading a letter she sent to one of her two sons, she said. Part of the motivation for participating in the film was to have a record of her journey so that her family can better understand down the line, even if they aren’t 100 percent on board right now.

Giselle knows that her decision to fully transition has affected her family, strained some of her relationships and perhaps even risked her professional future. But for Giselle, the alternative of continuing to hide her true identity was unsustainable. “You don’t have a choice,” she said. “After a lifetime of lying about this stuff, I was just sick of it.”

She benefits from the fact that awareness and understanding of trans people and their issues has progressed greatly in recent years. As happened with the gay community before them, trans people are now watching long-held stigmas lift, slowly but surely, even in the national security world.

Just nine years ago, when Amanda Simpson became one of the first openly trans persons to receive a presidential political appointment, public attitudes were much different. David Letterman mocked her on national television. She went on to work for the Pentagon for many years, leaving at the end of the Obama administration as a deputy assistant secretary of defense.

“All the years I was in the Pentagon, my gender really was never an issue. It was always about the mission,” Simpson told me. “The strength needed to make a transition is because of society’s hang-ups. It’s a lack of understanding by others that makes it complicated.”

Like Giselle, Simpson never set out to be a trailblazer, she just wanted to do her job and live her life. But being in the public eye, she felt a responsibility to promote understanding, tolerance and protection for trans people. She helped push to lift the ban on trans gender soldiers serving openly — the ban President Trump is now trying to reinstate.

Her advice to Giselle is to find friends and allies who support her, and give those who aren’t now willing to come along on the journey time and space, while making sure to just be herself.

“The ideals and principles that made her who she is, that’s still who she is,” said Simpson. “And those won’t change.”

I’ve known Giselle for over a decade, and I can attest she is still the same neoconservative, wonky, rock guitar-playing, offbeat writer she has always been. She told me she is already working on a new book about the British historical roots of American strategic thinking.

She doesn’t have plans to become politically active on trans issues, but she has well-formed views on such matters. True to her conservative values, she is disturbed by some of the more left-wing aspects of the trans political movement and doesn’t believe in government intervention on trans issues.

One would hope that in 2018, even in Washington, most people understand it’s not abnormal that a person’s mental, emotional and spiritual being don’t align with their physical body. It happens all the time, and society will eventually evolve to a place where it’s not a big deal.

Giselle knows not everybody in Washington is going to immediately accept her as “normal.” But, in the end, that’s their problem, not hers. And regardless, she’s going to be the truest version of herself, of which her gender identity is just one aspect.

“It’s a part of me, it doesn’t define me. Living a normal life is in a way its own statement.” Giselle said. “I’m happy with that, because that’s who I am.”

Read more:

Josh Rogin: Trump’s new China strategy faces its first big test

Josh Rogin: Haley’s departure sparks a battle for the future of Trump’s foreign policy



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BUT CRUZ OPENS UP WIDE LEAD…


Race Analysis

9/25/2018 — The latest Quinnipiac puts Cruz ahead by a comfortable 54-45 margin.  If you look at the polling data as a whole, the polls with more undecideds tend to show a close race, while pollsters who push undecideds harder show a Cruz lead.  This is consistent with a storyline suggesting that there are a large number of undecideds, perhaps intrigued by the Beto phenomeon, but who nevertheless lean Republicans.  But in this chaotic environment, we should still consider the race a tossup overall.

9/13/18 — Beto O’Rourke has kept the race close, albeit in part on the basis of an Emerson poll showing over 20 percent of the electorate undecided.  Nevertheless, this race is going to drain Republican resources, and Ted Cruz could very much lose this.

———-Race Preview———-

The rise of the Republican Party in the Lone Star State is a fascinating tale of how one party consistently bit off its nose to spite its face. Texas always had a small Republican Party in the panhandle, in the German counties north of San Antonio, and later in the growing suburbs of Dallas and Houston. But the two-party system mostly played out among Democrats. It was divided between conservative Tory Democrats, who plotted to depose Franklin Roosevelt as the Democratic nominee in 1944 and who supported President Eisenhower in the 1950s, and the liberal Democrats.

When LBJ was elected vice president, a conservative Democrat was appointed to replace him. In the ensuing special election, liberal Democrats either stayed home or cast a protest vote for Republican John Tower, whom they figured they could easily defeat down the road. The same dynamic played out in 1966, and by 1972 Tory Democrats were defecting to the Republican Party, while the Republicans’ native base in the suburbs continued to grow.

Today the Republicans have controlled the governorship for 18 straight years, and both Senate seats for 19.  The Democratic Party still maintains strength, and may even regain majority party status in the future.  Sen. Ted Cruz faces a credible challenge against Democratic Rep. Beto O’Rourke, and the state swung heavily toward Hillary Clinton last fall.  The state is also, contrary to many expectations, heavily urban, so a swing toward Democrats in the suburbs could have an outsize effect here.  O’Rourke starts as the underdog, but this one is worth watching.



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DE NIRO FLOATS TRUMP-BUSTER…


(Bloomberg) — Hours after Kanye West held court in the Oval Office during a cheerfully raucous session with President Donald Trump, another celebrity who came to Washington on Thursday, Robert De Niro, mused about how to find a new leader.

“We all know my thought about the president and we have a more important thing now and that’s working to get rid of him,” said De Niro, a two-time Academy Award winner who was mocking Trump years before he ran for president.

“But you need somebody strong that can beat him at his own game,” De Niro told Bloomberg News in an interview. “You have to offer things that are as real as they can possibly be. You can’t promise anything — I mean, when you’re a politician you say, ‘I want to do this, I want to do that.’ And you have to have things that are going to inspire people to want to believe in you, as opposed to the nonsense that’s being put out by this guy.”

“This Beto O’Rourke seems interesting,” De Niro said, referring to the Democratic Senate candidate in Texas who has drawn the national spotlight for his spirited campaign against Republican Senator Ted Cruz.

De Niro, the star of “Raging Bull,” “Goodfellas,” “Analyze This” and many other movies, was in Washington on Thursday night for a party for Gus Russo and Eric Dezenhall’s book “Best of Enemies: The Last Great Spy Story of the Cold War,” based on the true story of CIA officer Jack Platt and KGB agent Gennady Vasilenko, who were ordered to flip each other.

Trump had invited West to lunch to discuss Chicago crime, gang violence and prison reform, and at the last minute invited reporters to witness the rapper’s rapid-fire blue-sky vision for improving America, which included plenty of compliments for his host.
 
“What I need ‘Saturday Night Live’ to improve on, what I need the liberals to improve on,” West said, “is if he don’t look good, we don’t look good. This is our president! He has to be the freshest, the fly-est, the fly-est planes, the best factories.”

On West’s White House appearance, De Niro said, “It’s a shame.”

De Niro’s mockery turned to condemnation after Trump was elected. He denounced Trump with obscenities at the Tony Awards in June, prompting the president, while on his way back from the summit with Kim Jong Un in Singapore, to call the actor “a very low IQ individual.”

A few days later, as the conflict between the U.S. and Canada over trade simmered and after Trump had lashed out at U.S. allies during a Group of Seven summit in Quebec, De Niro offered Canadians an apology for “the idiotic behavior of my president. It’s a disgrace and I apologize to Justin Trudeau and the other people at the G7. It’s disgusting.”



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Have and Have Nots Divide Increases in NYC…


Inequality increased in slightly more than 4 in 10 areas with the largest movements in Springfield, MA; El Paso, TX and Las Vegas, NV. New York and Miami metro areas switched positions but still round-out the top three most unequal metro areas after number one ranked Bridgeport-Stamford. Three Utah metro areas, Salt Lake City, Provo and Ogden are closest to income equality on the list.



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Russian soldiers batter each other bloody in endurance tests…


Jaw-dropping pictures show Russian soldiers battering each other in boxing gloves and crawling through muddy swamps during a brutal endurance test.

Servicemen of the special task force units of the Russian Federal Penitentiary Service were put through their paces on Friday as they battled for their maroon berets in Mordovia.

The enviable garment is a symbol of courage and competence which distinguishes specially-trained elite forces from regular soldiers.

Bloodthirsty endurance tests begin with a five-mile cross country race, with hopefuls expected to wade through chest-high swamps of stagnant water and avoid bullets being showered on them from small firearms.

As if that were not daunting enough, to test their mental stamina a ‘psychological manipulation’ group run alongside them hurling abuse and splashing them with mud.

The men must then show off their skills with military weapons before reaching the final stage – known as ’12 minutes of hell’.

It involves going head-to-head in combat with a person who already holds the maroon beret, battling it out in four three-minute rounds.

Mawith a serviceman who already holds the coveted status symbol in Mordovia on Friday

Mawith a serviceman who already holds the coveted status symbol in Mordovia on Friday

A maroon beret contender (right) battles with a soldier who already holds the coveted status symbol in Mordovia on Friday

'Twelve minutes of hell': The final bloodthirsty endurance test of head-to-head combat is thought to be the most difficult part of the maroon beret challenge

'Twelve minutes of hell': The final bloodthirsty endurance test of head-to-head combat is thought to be the most difficult part of the maroon beret challenge

‘Twelve minutes of hell’: The final bloodthirsty endurance test of head-to-head combat is thought to be the most difficult part of the maroon beret challenge

Contenders crawl through chest-high swamps of mud and stagnant water during a brutal five-mile cross country race

Contenders crawl through chest-high swamps of mud and stagnant water during a brutal five-mile cross country race

Contenders crawl through chest-high swamps of mud and stagnant water during a brutal five-mile cross country race

Eyes on the prize: Soldiers throw punches during the final stage of the ferocious endurance test, which involves four three-minute rounds of fighting against different opponents

Eyes on the prize: Soldiers throw punches during the final stage of the ferocious endurance test, which involves four three-minute rounds of fighting against different opponents

Eyes on the prize: Soldiers throw punches during the final stage of the ferocious endurance test, which involves four three-minute rounds of fighting against different opponents

Mission accomplished: Soldiers embrace while celebrating their achieving the coveted maroon beret in a ceremony after the test

Mission accomplished: Soldiers embrace while celebrating their achieving the coveted maroon beret in a ceremony after the test

Mission accomplished: Soldiers embrace while celebrating their achieving the coveted maroon beret in a ceremony after the test

Battered and bruised soldiers line up to receive their maroon berets after completing the brutal endurance test

Battered and bruised soldiers line up to receive their maroon berets after completing the brutal endurance test

Battered and bruised soldiers line up to receive their maroon berets after completing the brutal endurance test

Battered and bruised soldiers line up to receive their maroon berets after completing the brutal endurance test

Battered and bruised soldiers line up to receive their maroon berets after completing the brutal endurance test

Soldiers caked in dirt crawl through thick mud carrying rifles. A 'psychological manipulation' group are employed to follow them and test their mental durability

Soldiers caked in dirt crawl through thick mud carrying rifles. A 'psychological manipulation' group are employed to follow them and test their mental durability

Soldiers caked in dirt crawl through thick mud carrying rifles. A ‘psychological manipulation’ group are employed to follow them and test their mental durability

Multitasking: A soldier grips a bag in his teeth and balances his rifle with just two fingers as he crawls through chest-deep mud

Multitasking: A soldier grips a bag in his teeth and balances his rifle with just two fingers as he crawls through chest-deep mud

Multitasking: A soldier grips a bag in his teeth and balances his rifle with just two fingers as he crawls through chest-deep mud

Soldiers assume the plank position as they battle their way through the cross country section of the bloody endurance test

Soldiers assume the plank position as they battle their way through the cross country section of the bloody endurance test

Soldiers assume the plank position as they battle their way through the cross country section of the bloody endurance test

Maroon beret contenders duck as they are sprayed with smoke

Maroon beret contenders duck as they are sprayed with smoke

Maroon beret contenders duck as they are sprayed with smoke

Maroon beret contenders duck as they are sprayed with smoke

Maroon beret contenders duck as they are sprayed with smoke during the cross country element of the challenge 

Soldiers who have already earned their maroon berets watch as the hopefuls crawl through a muddy swamp

Soldiers who have already earned their maroon berets watch as the hopefuls crawl through a muddy swamp

Soldiers who have already earned their maroon berets watch as the hopefuls crawl through a muddy swamp

Contenders soaked in water and covered in mud work together to carry a thick log during the five-mile cross country test

Contenders soaked in water and covered in mud work together to carry a thick log during the five-mile cross country test

Contenders soaked in water and covered in mud work together to carry a thick log during the five-mile cross country test

Soldiers prove their strength by carrying a comrade over a deep section of water, balancing them on their shoulders

Soldiers prove their strength by carrying a comrade over a deep section of water, balancing them on their shoulders

Soldiers prove their strength by carrying a comrade over a deep section of water, balancing them on their shoulders

Soldiers prove their strength by carrying a comrade over a deep section of water, balancing them on their shoulders

Soldiers prove their strength by carrying a comrade over a deep section of water, balancing them on their shoulders

A strapping soldier with a maroon beret puts the contenders through their paces beside a barbed wire fence

A strapping soldier with a maroon beret puts the contenders through their paces beside a barbed wire fence

A strapping soldier with a maroon beret puts the contenders through their paces beside a barbed wire fence

Nerves of steel: A determined soldier perseveres through the treacherous cross country run

Nerves of steel: A determined soldier perseveres through the treacherous cross country run

Nerves of steel: A determined soldier perseveres through the treacherous cross country run

A soldier looks worse for wear during the boxing element of the test, which is known as '12 minutes of hell'

A soldier looks worse for wear during the boxing element of the test, which is known as '12 minutes of hell'

A soldier looks worse for wear during the boxing element of the test, which is known as ’12 minutes of hell’

A soldier blocks a punch launched at his head during the final and most dreaded part of the endurance test

A soldier blocks a punch launched at his head during the final and most dreaded part of the endurance test

A soldier blocks a punch launched at his head during the final and most dreaded part of the endurance test

Honoured: Battered and bruised soldiers kiss their maroon berets during a ceremony to reward those who passed the endurance test

Honoured: Battered and bruised soldiers kiss their maroon berets during a ceremony to reward those who passed the endurance test

Honoured: Battered and bruised soldiers kiss their maroon berets during a ceremony to reward those who passed the endurance test

Honoured: Battered and bruised soldiers kiss their maroon berets during a ceremony to reward those who passed the endurance test

Honoured: Battered and bruised soldiers kiss their maroon berets during a ceremony to reward those who passed the endurance test



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Russia 'launches criminal investigation'…


Russia has launched a criminal investigation over a failed rocket launch to the International Space Station, according to reports.

A US and Russian astronaut were forced to make an emergency landing shortly after the mission got underway, with their Soyuz rocket having suffered significant engine failures.

It was an unprecedented mishap for the Russian space programme and the AFP news agency claims a criminal investigation is now underway to determine whether safety regulations had been violated during construction.

Cosmonaut Alexey Ovchinin
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Russian cosmonaut Alexey Ovchinin following emergency landing
NASA astronaut Nick Hague
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NASA astronaut Nick Hague following emergency landing

Despite the issue affecting the booster rocket, NASA’s Nick Hague and Roscosmos’ Alexey Ovchinin are alive and have touched down in Kazakhstan.

They landed about 12 miles east of the city of Dzhezkazgan, and officials from Russia’s space agency said rescue workers had managed to reach the crew – who are now understood to be out of the capsule.

Smoke rise as the boosters of first stage of the Soyuz-FG rocket with Soyuz MS-10 space ship carrying a new crew to the International Space Station, ISS, separate
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Smoke rises as the boosters of first stage of the Soyuz rocket fall away

NASA’s deputy chief astronaut, Reid Wiseman, said the crew “handled their procedures exactly as planned” and are “in great shape”.

The craft was “about 50km in altitude when the abort occurred – just about on the boundaries of space”.

He added: “Russian forces were on the ground when the capsule touched down.

“The extraction happened not long after that.”

ISS Operations Integration Manager, Kenny Todd, described the incident as a “major anomaly” and said he had “every confidence our Russian colleagues will figure out what’s going on”.

He added that “technical issues don’t know political boundaries”.

A comparison of the booster separation in a normal Soyuz mission and today’s by meteorologist Greg Dutra apparently shows increasing debris and a less-symmetrical jettison stage this morning.

All Russian manned space launches have been suspended after the incident, according to Russia’s RIA news agency.

“Thank God, the crew is alive,” said Vladimir Putin’s spokesman, Dmitry Peskov, to reporters.

The Soyuz MS-10 spacecraft
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All Russian manned space launches have been suspended after the incident

The ISS crew members currently in orbit have been “notified of the launch contingency”, a NASA spokesperson added.

That crew is “essentially marooned”, astronaut Chris Hadfield told Sky News.

He explained: “Right now, there are no vehicles on earth that can take people to the space station. None.

“Until the Soyuz gets fixed, or Space X or Boeing get their rockets working properly – they’re still new, they haven’t flown yet – what that means is the crew on board the International Space Station is essentially marooned.

International Space Station (ISS) crew members astronaut Nick Hague of the U.S. and cosmonaut Alexey Ovchinin of Russia board the Soyuz MS-10 spacecraft
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ISS crew members Nick Hague and Alexey Ovchinin

“They have their own ship – like a lifeboat to be able to come home – but no one can come up and relieve them right now.

“So I think they’re in for a long stay.”

Although the journey was expected to take six hours, it was only a few minutes after blast-off at the Baikonur cosmodrome in Kazakhstan that problems with the rocket became apparent.

The managing editor of NASA Spaceflight reports how an onboard view of the launch showed the crew being shaken around during the launch, and says “the staging was clearly off-nominal”.

The Soyuz MS-10 spacecraft carrying the crew of astronaut Nick Hague of the U.S. and cosmonaut Alexey Ovchinin of Russia
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‘Ballistic reentry’ involves sharper descent than usual

Footage broadcast on Russian television shows a series of billowing smoky explosions occurring as the booster rocket stage fails.

Spaceflight historian Gunter Krebs noted on Twitter that the situation reminded him of another Soyuz rocket failure in 1972, when “an in-flight booster failure occurred and the crew was rescued after ballistic re-entry”.

Ballistic re-entry is a much steeper form of re-entry, involving only the forces of gravity and aerodynamic drag to slow down the speed of fall.

Malfunctions causing ballistic re-entry have occurred a number of times with Russia’s series of Soyuz rockets.

The Soyuz MS-10 spacecraft carrying the crew of astronaut Nick Hague of the U.S. and cosmonaut Alexey Ovchinin of Russia blasts off
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The Soyuz MS-10 spacecraft launched this morning

The NASA Spaceflight editor said: “You can be sure Soyuz launches will be grounded indefinitely.

“Commercial Crew has to conduct a successful uncrewed launch next year before flying astronauts to the ISS (and no – they will not ‘fast track’ anything that involves crew safety).”



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NASA exploring flying space station without crew…


BAIKONUR, Kazakhstan (AP) — The Latest on the failed space launch carrying two astronauts (all times local):

11:00 p.m.

NASA says it’s dusting off its plans for flying the International Space Station without a crew after the aborted launch of a Russian rocket taking two astronauts toward the station.

Kenny Todd, a space station manager, said from Houston several hours after Thursday’s aborted launch that the station’s three current residents can remain on board until January.

That’s just a month beyond their expected mid-December return. Their Soyuz capsule is good for about 200 days in orbit, period.

If the rocket that failed remains grounded until it’s time for the astronauts to come home, Todd says flight controllers could operate the orbiting lab without anyone on board.

But he says the $100 billion asset would need to be staffed before SpaceX or Boeing launches new crew capsules next year. Todd says someone has to be on board for the arrival of the commercial demo missions, for safety reasons.

___

8:35 p.m.

International Space Station commander Alexander Gerst says he is grateful two astronauts are doing well after an exceedingly rare and harrowing launch abort ended their journey toward the orbiting laboratory.

Gerst, a European Space Agency astronaut from Germany, tweeted from orbit after the failed launch: “Spaceflight is hard. And we must keep trying for the benefit of humankind.”

He thanked the rescue force that arrived quickly to retrieve American Nick Hague and Russian Alexei Ovchinin from their capsule after an emergency landing. The capsule was jettisoned from a three-stage booster rocket that failed two minutes after liftoff.

Hague and Ovchinin were supposed to spend the next half year aboard the International Space Station.

Gerst wrote that the mishap shows “what an amazing vehicle the Soyuz is, to be able to save the crew from such a failure.”

___

7:45 p.m.

Flight controllers kept the three space station residents abreast of the situation after Thursday’s aborted launch.

“The boys have landed,” Mission Control assured the crew consisting of one American, one German and one Russian.

Two astronauts from the U.S. and Russia landed safely in the steppes of Kazakhstan after their Soyuz rocket failed two minutes after launch.

Russian controllers told the space station astronauts that NASA’s Nick Hague and Roscosmos’ Alexei Ovchinin endured 6.7 times the force of gravity during their steeper than usual entry. It was Hague’s first rocket launch.

There was no immediate word on whether the space station crew might need to extend its own six-month mission.

Two spacewalks planned for later this month were off indefinitely. Hague was supposed to be one of the spacewalkers.

___

6:30 p.m.

NASA says two astronauts from the U.S. and Russia have been flown to the city of Dzhezkazgan in Kazakhstan en route to Moscow after an emergency landing following the failure of a booster rocket carrying them to the International Space Station.

NASA posted pictures of NASA astronaut Nick Hague and Roscosmos’ Alexei Ovchinin undergoing a medical check-up at Dzhezkazgan’s airport. They are to be flown to the Baikonur cosmodrome and then on to Star City space training center outside Moscow.

One of the pictures showed Hague smiling and another had him sitting next to Russia’s space agency chief Dmitry Rogozin.

U.S. and Russian space officials said the astronauts are in good condition after Thursday’s aborted launch. They endured higher than usual G-force during the emergency landing.

___

6:15 p.m.

The head of Russia’s top space medicine center says that two astronauts from the U.S. and Russia are feeling good after an emergency landing.

NASA astronaut Nick Hague and Roscosmos’ Alexei Ovchinin blasted off as scheduled to the International Space Station Thursday, but their Soyuz booster failed two minutes after the launch and the rescue capsule landed safely in the steppes of Kazakhstan. The crew endured higher than normal G-force, but Russian and U.S. space officials said they were in good condition.

Oleg Orlov, the head of the Institute for Medical and Biological Problems, Russia’s top space medicine research center, said in televised remarks that the astronauts endured six Gs during the sharp ballistic descent. He added that space crew is trained to endure such loads.

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5:20 p.m.

NASA says two astronauts from the U.S. and Russia will be flown to Moscow after they made an emergency landing.

NASA astronaut Nick Hague and Roscosmos’ Alexei Ovchinin landed in the steppes of Kazakhstan Thursday following the failure of a Russian booster rocket carrying them to the International Space Station.

NASA Administrator Jim Bridenstine said in a statement that Hague and Ovchinin are in good condition and will be transported to the Gagarin Cosmonaut Training Center in Star City outside Moscow.

He added that a “thorough investigation into the cause of the incident will be conducted.”

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5 p.m.

A senior Cabinet official says that Russia is suspending manned space launches pending a probe into a Russian booster rocket failure minutes after the launch.

U.S. and Russian space officials said NASA astronaut Nick Hague and Roscosmos’ Alexei Ovchinin are safe after an emergency landing in the steppes of Kazakhstan following the failure of a Russian booster rocket carrying them to the International Space Station.

Russian Deputy Prime Minister Yuri Borisov told reporters that the Soyuz capsule automatically jettisoned from the booster when it failed 123 seconds after the launch from the Russia-leased Baikonur cosmodrome in Kazakhstan.

He said all manned launches will be suspended pending an investigation into the cause of the failure. Borisov added that Russia will fully share all relevant information with the U.S.

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3:30 p.m.

NASA says two astronauts from the U.S. and Russia are in good condition after a booster rocket failure minutes forced an emergency landing minutes after the launch.

NASA astronaut Nick Hague and Roscosmos’ Alexei Ovchinin lifted off as scheduled at 2:40 p.m. (0840 GMT; 4:40 a.m. EDT) Thursday from the Russia-leased Baikonur cosmodrome in Kazakhstan atop a Soyuz booster rocket.

They were to dock at the International Space Station six hours later, but the booster suffered engine failure minutes after the launch.

NASA said it has been informed by Russian space officials that the crew has made an emergency landing at an unspecified location in Kazakhstan and is in good condition. Search and rescue crews are heading to the landing site.

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3 p.m.

Two astronauts from the U.S. and Russia are making an emergency landing after a Russian booster rocket carrying them into orbit to the International Space Station has failed after launch.

NASA astronaut Nick Hague and Roscosmos’ Alexei Ovchinin lifted off as scheduled at 2:40 p.m. (0840 GMT; 4:40 a.m. EDT) Thursday from the Russia-leased Baikonur cosmodrome in Kazakhstan atop a Soyuz booster rocket.

They were to dock at the orbiting outpost six hours later, but the booster suffered a failure minutes after the launch.

Russian and U.S. space officials said that the crew is heading for an emergency landing in Kazakhstan at an unspecified time. Search and rescue crews are getting ready to reach the expected landing site.

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2:50 p.m.

A duo of astronauts from the U.S. and Russia has blasted off for a mission on the International Space Station.

NASA astronaut Nick Hague and Roscosmos’ Alexei Ovchinin lifted off as scheduled at 2:40 p.m. (0840 GMT; 4:40 a.m. EDT) Thursday from the Russia-leased Baikonur cosmodrome in Kazakhstan atop a Soyuz booster rocket. Their Soyuz spacecraft will dock at the orbiting outpost six hours later.

It’s the first space mission for Hague, who joined NASA’s astronaut corps in 2013. Ovchinin spent six months on the station in 2016.

Relations between Moscow and Washington have sunk to post-Cold War lows over the crisis in Ukraine, the war in Syria and allegations of Russian meddling in the 2016 U.S. presidential vote, but Russia and the U.S. have maintained cooperation in space.



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WEEKEND: Phenom Mahomes Battles Tom Brady In Prime Time…


Ryan Mayer

The ratings for NFL games have been on an upward trend overall this year through five weeks of the season and the prime time games on Sunday night have been a boost for the league. That trend could continue this weekend with a star-studded matchup when sophomore sensation Patrick Mahomes and the Kansas City Chiefs make the trip up to Gillette Stadium to take on Tom Brady’s New England Patriots on Sunday Night Football.

Call it the GOAT versus the GUAC. (You know, short for, Greatest Up-And-Comer.)

Brady has been the gold standard of quarterbacking for the past 15 years in the NFL. Yet through five games, Mahomes looks like the prototype of the next generation of quarterback: athletic, howitzer for an arm, and able to get the ball out of his hands quickly.

brady mahomes Can Mahomes Brady Matchup Continue Sunday Night Football Ratings Rise?

(L) Tom Brady. Credit: Adam Glanzman/Getty Images. (R) Patrick Mahomes. Credit: Jamie Squire/Getty Images.

Mahomes leads one of the league’s most prolific offenses with the Chiefs racking up 35 points and 413 yards per game on opponents this season. Brady, on the other hand, got out of the gates slowly before ripping the Dolphins (38-7) and Colts (38-24) to shreds in the last two weeks.

The game has all the makings of a classic duel.

Throw in the fact that Patriots head coach Bill Belichick has had 10 days to prepare for the Chiefs after playing on Thursday night last week, and we’ve got ourselves plenty of intriguing storylines.

Will those storylines translate into ratings? Well, the audience for Sunday Night football this season has averaged 19.6 million viewers according to the Wall Street Journal. That’s up from 19.5 million last season despite including the opening night kickoff game between the Eagles and Falcons that was down 13% when compared to last year’s game.

After the Baltimore Ravens-Pittsburgh Steelers matchup posted a season-low number (10.4/17.92 million viewers) in the Sunday night window two weeks ago, last week’s Houston Texans-Dallas Cowboys matchup saw an increase in both categories (10.7/18.5). That Texans-Cowboys game was the first increase in the rating number for Sunday Night that the league had seen this season as things had slowly declined from a 12.5 in Week 1 to a low of 10.4 in Week 4.

Mahomes has already proven to be a ratings boon to the league in primetime this season. The Chiefs Monday Night Football game against the Broncos, in which Mahomes engineered a comeback drive late, posted a 7.9 rating and 13.21 million viewers in Week 4. Those numbers were an eight and 11 percent increase respectively over the previous year’s viewership for the same week. While Mahomes has already delivered a strong Monday Night rating, Brady and the Patriots’ game against the Detroit Lions in Week 3 saw a double-digit increase in both rating and viewership compared year-over-year.

Entering this Sunday’s matchup, the two teams are among the best in the AFC and, in theory, should draw a large audience. We’ll have to wait until Monday to find out, but the on-field play and the previous primetime games for the two teams this season indicate this could be another ratings win.



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Scientists breed mice with same-sex parents…


For the first time, scientists said Thursday that they had bred mice with two genetic fathers, steering around biological hurdles that would otherwise prevent same-sex parents from having offspring.

The researchers also bred mouse pups with two genetic mothers. Those pups matured into adults and had pups of their own, outpacing previous efforts to create so-called bimaternal mice.

“This research shows us what’s possible,” Wei Li, a senior author of the study, said in a statement. Li conducted the work with colleagues at the Chinese Academy of Sciences.

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But for now, the notion of reproducing the experiment in humans is more a matter of science fiction than science. The new study, which appeared in Cell Stem Cell, does not indicate that researchers can now or could anytime soon pull off a similar feat with people.

The cells used to make the mouse embryos were profoundly manipulated. The vast majority of the embryos made did not result in births. And none of the bipaternal mouse pups — those with two genetic fathers — survived to adulthood.

Instead, outside researchers said, the study sheds light on the underlying biology that foils mammals from spinning off offspring without sexual reproduction — unlike some reptiles, fish, and amphibians, which are capable of asexual reproduction.

“It really opens your imagination for what you can do in mammals,” said Dr. Nissim Benvenisty, the director of the Azrieli Center for Stem Cells and Genetic Research at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem, who was not involved in the study.

At issue is “genomic imprinting,” an evolutionary feature found in mammals (and also flowering plants) that researchers believe blocks these species from producing progeny without both maternal and paternal DNA.

In our genomes, there are two copies of each gene — one from mom, one from dad — and both get expressed to make us us. But there are some 100 genes where “imprints” stationed along the genome signal one copy to be active and one to be silent.


“The other copy is there and it’s presented and there’s nothing wrong with the DNA sequence,” said Manus Patten, an evolutionary biologist at Georgetown University, who was not part of the new research. “It’s just turned off.”

Mammals still need both sets, though, to have their full suite of genetic instructions. IGF2, for example, is a gene crucial for growth and development, but only the paternal copy is normally active. If we just inherited DNA maternally then, we wouldn’t grow or develop properly; that gene would simply remain off. On the flip side, there are a number of these genes for which we rely on our mothers.

But scientists started challenging nature’s way a decade and a half ago. The trick was to cajole certain maternal genes to act like paternal genes in terms of their activity, or vice versa.

Adult bimaternal mouse (born to two mothers)
A healthy adult bimaternal mouse (born to two mothers) with offspring of her own. Leyun Wang/Chinese Academy of Sciences

In 2004, a team of Japanese researchers for the first time created mice with two mothers by toying with imprint signals, though only one of the 10 mice born in that study — out of more than 400 embryos — grew to adulthood.

To try to improve on past results, the researchers in the new study manipulated imprint instructions even more extensively.

For the bimaternal mice, they started with embryonic stem cells containing a female mouse’s DNA (mother No. 1). These cells were like egg or sperm in that they were haploid — that is, they had half the number of chromosomes of other cells — but were unlike those sex cells in that they had no imprints ready to silence some genes. The stem cells had been grown in such a way that the DNA markers that normally tell certain genes to turn off had been removed.

The scientists then went a step further and deleted three key imprinted regions from the cells’ genomes using the DNA editor CRISPR. Finally, they injected the cells into sex cells from another female mouse (mother No. 2), simulating something akin to fertilization.

Of the 210 embryos created this way, 29 mice were born — just 14 percent. The mice appeared to be normal and even had regular gene expression patterns. By deleting those imprinted regions, the study indicated, the researchers effectively coaxed certain genes from one of the mothers to act as if they had come from a father in terms of their activity.

“That was really sophisticated methodology,” Benvenisty said.

The steps for breeding the bipaternal mice were even more complicated.

Researchers again started with haploid embryonic stem cells, though this time containing paternal DNA (father No. 1), and deleted seven imprinted regions. They then injected the cells along with sperm from another mouse (father No. 2) into eggs that had had their own DNA removed. Finally, these embryos were transferred into surrogate mothers. (So while there was no maternal genetic information involved, female mice still played a role in forming the embryos and carrying them to term.)

Only 12 bipaternal mice, out of 477 embryos, were born, and only two survived more than two days. Neither of those reached adulthood. The researchers also measured gene activity in the pups and found that some of the imprinted genes were not being expressed as if they had been inherited maternally.

The results were instructive in their own way, outside experts said. The study offered additional evidence that imprinting is what prevents mammals from producing offspring without sexual reproduction. And it showed that even with the intensive cellular changes and genome editing, the research team still could not overcome imprinting and reach regular levels of gene expression.

“We can’t yet make bipaternal mice that are viable,” said Marisa Bartolomei, a professor of cell and developmental biology at the University of Pennsylvania Perelman School of Medicine, who did not work on the new study. “It’s because the imprinting is still messed up in these mice.”

Beyond the technical, legal, and ethical roadblocks that would prevent this type of research in people, experts pointed to another concern. If researchers created, say, a daughter from two mothers or two fathers, and if she were healthy and had children of her own, it is unknown what genetic ramifications might be passed onto the next generation.

In this study, for example, the female mice born with two genetic mothers were later mated with regular males. They produced 22 pups from six litters. Thirteen grew into adults themselves, but nine died soon after birth.



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