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China has landed a spacecraft on Mars for the first time in the latest advance for its space programByThe Associated PressMay 15, 2021, 1:45 AM• 3 min readShare to FacebookShare to TwitterEmail this articleBEIJING — China has landed a spacecraft on Mars for the first time in the latest advance for its space program.The official Xinhua News Agency said Saturday that the lander had touched down, citing the China National Space Administration.Plans call for a rover to stay in the lander for a few days of diagnostic tests before rolling down a ramp to explore an icy area of Mars known as Utopia Planitia. It will join an American one that arrived at the red planet in February.China’s first Mars landing follows its launch last month of the main section of what will be a permanent space station and a mission that brought back rocks from the moon late last year.“China has left a footprint on Mars for the first time, an important step for our country’s space exploration,” Xinhua said in announcing the landing on one of its social media accounts.The U.S. has had nine successful landings on Mars since 1976. The Soviet Union landed on the planet in 1971, but the mission failed after the craft stopped transmitting information soon after touchdown.A rover and a tiny helicopter from the American landing in February are currently exploring Mars. NASA expects the rover to collect its first sample in July for return to Earth in a decade.China has landed on the moon before but landing on Mars is a much more difficult undertaking because it has an extremely thin atmosphere.Spacecraft must use heat shields for protection from the searing heat of reentry and both retro-rockets and parachutes to slow enough to prevent a crash landing. The parachutes and rockets must be deployed at precise times to land at the designated spot.Only mini-retro rockets are required for a moon landing, and parachutes alone are sufficient for returning to Earth, which has a much bigger atmosphere.Touchdown was at 7:18 a.m. Beijing time (23:18 GMT; 7:18 p.m. EDT), according to the State Administration of Science. Technology and Industry for National Defense.The distance between Earth and Mars caused a delay for mission control in Beijing to confirm successful deployment of a conical heat shield, rockets and a giant parachute to control the craft’s descent.NASA Associate Administrator Thomas Zurbuchen tweeted his congratulations, saying, “Together with the global science community, I look forward to the important contributions this mission will make to humanity’s understanding of the Red Planet.”China’s Mars landing was the top trending topic on Weibo, a leading social media platform, as people expressed both excitement and pride at the achievement.

Two tornadoes have killed at least seven people in central and eastern China and left more than 200 others injuredByThe Associated PressMay 15, 2021, 12:43 AM• 1 min readShare to FacebookShare to TwitterEmail this articleBEIJING — Two tornadoes killed at least seven people in central and eastern China and left more than 200 others injured, officials and state media reported Saturday.The Wuhan government said that six people had died and 218 were injured in the inland Chinese city. The tornado hit about 8:40 p.m. with winds of 86 kilometers (53 miles) per hour, toppling construction site sheds and snapping several trees, the official Xinhua News Agency reported, citing the Caidian district government.Wuhan is the city where COVID-19 was first detected in late 2019.About 90 minutes earlier, another tornado struck the town of Shengze about 400 kilometers (250 miles) east in Jiangsu province, Xinhua reported. The Suzhou city government, which oversees the town, said that one person was killed and 21 injured, two seriously.Xinhua said the tornado toppled factory buildings and damaged electricity facilities in Shengze, which is near the city of Shanghai on China’s east coast.

Walmart, the world’s largest retailer, says that it won’t require vaccinated shoppers or workers to wear a mask in its U.S. stores unless state or local laws say otherwiseByThe Associated PressMay 15, 2021, 12:13 AM• 2 min readShare to FacebookShare to TwitterEmail this articleBENTONVILLE, Ark. — Walmart, the world’s largest retailer, said Friday that it won’t require vaccinated shoppers or workers to wear a mask in its U.S. stores unless state or local laws say otherwise.Vaccinated shoppers can go maskless immediately, the company said. Vaccinated workers can stop wearing them on Tuesday. As an incentive, Walmart said it is offering workers $75 if they prove they’ve been vaccinated.Customers won’t be asked but rather held to an “honor system” regarding their vaccination status, Walmart said.Workers, however, will need to answer “yes” to a vaccination question in a daily health assessment in order to go maskless, the company said in a memo to employees posted on its corporate website.“Integrity is one of our core values, and we trust that associates will respect that principle when answering,” the memo states. To get the bonus, workers will have to show their original vaccination certificate.The company based in Bentonville, Arkansas, noted it is offering vaccines at its more than 5,100 Walmart and Sam’s Club pharmacies, and through special events.Walmart is the nation’s largest employer with roughly 1.5 million workers in the U.S. including those at Sam’s Club, distribution centers and in corporate and managerial jobs.On Thursday, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention eased mask-wearing guidance for fully vaccinated people, allowing them to stop wearing masks outdoors in crowds and in most indoor settings.Walmart was one of the first retailers to mandate masks last July. Its move to allow vaccinated shoppers and workers to not wear masks could lead other chains to follow suit.

Authorities have arrested four suspects.May 14, 2021, 10:28 PM• 4 min readShare to FacebookShare to TwitterEmail this articleFour people were attacked within an hour in separate incidents in the New York City subway early Friday morning.Authorities arrested four suspects ranging in age from 17 to 19, and accused them of stabbing, slashing or punching the victims.A 44-year-old man was taken to Bellevue Hospital and is in stable condition after he was slashed in the face on a southbound subway train at around 4:25 a.m.New York Police Officers stand at the Union Station subway stop in New York, May 10, 2021.Minutes later, another 44-year-old man was slashed in the back of the head in a robbery. The victim was taken to Lenox HealthPlex.None of the victims sustained life-threatening injuries.At least one more suspect may still be wanted, according to New York City Police Department Commissioner Dermot Shea.Police said the alleged attackers remained on board the train as each victim ran off, and that they are looking into whether the attacks were part of a gang initiation.A fifth incident also occurred Friday morning, but it was not immediately connected to the pattern.Train service was impacted as police conducted an investigation at Union Square. Since then, the southbound 4 and 5 express service has resumed from 14th Street-Union Square to Brooklyn Bridge-City Hall.A man runs past Police officers as they patrol the New York City subway system, May 7, 2020.The latest attacks come after four people, including an MTA employee, were attacked in the New York City subway system in the span of three hours Wednesday morning.”The responsibility for these vicious attacks does not fall on an already strapped police department — it falls on City Hall and the individuals who are taking advantage of the mayor’s negligence on the issue. If he needed a wake-up call, this is it. Enough is enough,” New York City Transit Interim President Sarah Feinberg said in a statement Friday.Interim President of the New York City Transit Authority Sarah Feinberg speaks during a news conference in New York, May 10, 2021.Mayor Bill de Blasio’s spokesperson Bill Neidhardt issued a response, pointing out that over 3,000 officers are on the transit force.”The city has pulled cops off desk duty and put them on platforms and trains. We’re going to keep putting massive resources into this fight to keep our subways safe. Meanwhile, the MTA sends out statements that point fingers and talk about mayoral politics. Get with the program. Help us fight back this crime,” Neidhardt said.

If you’re going to Starbucks or Target, bring your mask. But if you swing by Trader Joe’s, you can leave it in the car, assuming you are fully vaccinated of course. That said, if you’re taking public transportation to get there, you’ll need to mask up for the ride.After 405 days of urging every man, woman and child to wear a mask, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention stunned much of the nation this week — including health experts – with its recommendations that vaccinated Americans can mostly ditch the mask. The decision left businesses, governors and schools scrambling to respond and an emerging hodgepodge of rules for masks, depending upon which state, county or store a person is in.The new CDC proposal also raise serious questions: Can employers require proof of vaccination before a worker goes mask-free? Should businesses ask patrons to present proof upon entry? Could teens, eligible for the vaccine, be denied access to a classroom without a mask if they aren’t vaccinated?A “Mask Required” sign at the entrance to a Kroger Co. grocery store in Houston, March 10, 2021.Governors said they weren’t briefed in advance on the plan, despite 24 states and the District of Columbia having some sort of state-wide mask mandate in place at the time of the announcement.”We were as surprised as anyone by the CDC’s announcement – learning about it through the press,” said Republican Gov. Chris Sununu of New Hampshire, calling CDC messaging in recent months “inconsistent, convoluted, and ever changing.”In Maine, Gov. Janet Mills told reporters she was “anxious” to hear from the CDC how to distinguish between vaccinated the unvaccinated people. But by Friday, Mills announced she was on board and that the state would adopt the CDC guidance as state policy.Several health experts also said were caught off guard, assuming new mask recommendations would come when more Americans were fully vaccinated. Nearly 36% of the U.S. population is vaccinated, and the pace of shots has declined.”I thought it would be prudent to wait until everyone who is willing (ages 12 and up) has had an opportunity to be fully vaccinated, around July 1,” said Linsey Marr, a virus transmission expert at Virginia Tech.Dr. Leana Wen, an emergency physician and visiting professor of health policy and management at the George Washington University’s Milken School of Public Health, tweeted: “I’m still stunned at the CDC decision.”People wearing face masks play pool at Cheswick’s West bar in Ocean Beach in San Diego, Feb. 13, 2021.The White House, too, claimed to be unaware of precisely what the new recommendation would be, making the case that the CDC came to its conclusion without political pressure. Press secretary Jen Psaki said only a “small number” of people at the White House knew about the proposal Wednesday night.”The White House was informed of that decision, just to give people assurance of that,” Psaski told reporters Friday.When asked what the CDC guidance means for Biden’s executive order that mandates masks be worn on federal property, Psaki said it may take a few days for any possible changes, but she expects “the guidelines will be the guide.””We’re working to implement those [guidelines] across the government,” she said.Several big-chain stores also seemed surprised, firing off terse statements that mask mandates would remain in place until they had a chance to review the new recommendations and determine which businesses might be subject to local mandates.”These conflicting positions put retailers and their employees in incredibly difficult situations,” said Lisa LaBruno, a senior executive vice president at the Retail Industry Leaders Association.Tourists, some in face masks while others are not, visit the Lincoln Memorial in Washington, D.C., May 14, 2021.For its part, the CDC defended the new guidance as a natural next step based on emerging scientific evidence, including fresh studies that the vaccines were holding up against variants of the virus and cutting asymptomatic transmission. The CDC also cited plummeting case numbers and a recent decision by regulators that kids as young as 12 now qualify for vaccination.”We have had a coalescence of more science that has emerged just in the last week,” Dr. Rochelle Walensky, director of the CDC, told reporters when asked what had changed in the past 16 days since the agency last released mask guidance.Under the new recommendations, people who are fully immunized should feel safe removing their masks in almost all circumstances, even indoors and in a crowd. The guidelines call for masks to still be worn on planes, trains and buses, as well as homeless shelters, hospitals and prisons.While the CDC insisted its decision was grounded in science, it seemed to acknowledge that it was unprepared to answer the questions that would come with it. In an interview with NPR’s “All Things Considered,” Walensky said the recommendation would trigger a review of other guidance.”What we really need to do now as an agency is comb all of our guidance not just for travel, but for schools and for camps and for child care centers and for all of the guidance that we have out there … And that is going to be the work of the weeks ahead that we have in the agency,” Walensky told NPR on Thursday.John Brownstein, chief innovation officer at Boston Children’s Hospital and an ABC News contributor, said one primary concern is that the U.S. is still experiencing active disease transmission with more than 35,000 COVID cases a day. Also, some vulnerable populations including children don’t have the option of getting vaccinated.That puts everyone on the honor system and many people and businesses confused on how exactly to stay safe, he said.”Americans are feeling incredible whiplash,” Brownstein said. ABC News’ producers Sasha Pezenik, Ben Gittleson and Justin Gomez contributed to this report.

Rep. Liz Cheney on Friday said she regretted voting for former President Donald Trump in the 2020 election given his efforts to overturn his defeat and sow doubt in the integrity of the process.”I was never going to support Joe Biden and I do regret the vote,” Cheney told ABC News Chief Washington Correspondent Jonathan Karl. “It was a vote based on policy, based on substance and in terms of the kinds of policies he put forward that were good for the country. But I think it’s fair to say that I regret the vote.”Cheney, R-Wyo., also blasted House Republicans for elevating Rep. Elise Stefanik of New York to replace her in party leadership, calling it “dangerous” to promote yet another leader who has promoted former President Trump’s falsehoods about the 2020 election.Rep. Liz Cheney speaks with ABC News’ Chief Washington Correspondent Jonathan Karl in Washington, May 14, 2021.”What does it say about the party choosing somebody to replace you, who was effectively chosen by Donald Trump and saying what he’s been saying – those very lies you were talking about?” Karl asked Cheney in the interview, which will air in full on “This Week” on Sunday.”I think it’s dangerous. I think that we have to recognize how quickly things can unravel,” Cheney told Karl. “We have to recognize what it means for the nation to have a former president who has not conceded and who continues to suggest that our electoral system cannot function, cannot do the will of the people.”After an unsuccessful attempt in February, Republicans, with the backing of GOP leaders, removed Cheney from the No. 3 party leadership post in a closed-door vote Wednesday amid her repeated criticism of Trump and his comments about the 2020 election.On Friday, the conference overwhelmingly appointed Stefanik, who was endorsed for the position by Trump, to fill her role. Stefanik has also promoted some of the unfounded conspiracy theories questioning the election results in Arizona and voted against the election results in Pennsylvania on the House floor on Jan. 6.Rep. Liz Cheney speaks with ABC News’ Chief Washington Correspondent Jonathan Karl in Washington, May 14, 2021.”Frankly, it’s the same kinds of things that the Chinese Communist Party says about democracy: that it’s a failed system, and America is a failed nation,” Cheney said of Trump’s election comments promoted by many Republicans. “I won’t be part of that. And I think it’s very important for Republicans who won’t be part of that to stand up and speak out.”Cheney’s leadership position was called into question earlier this year when she voted to impeach Trump following the deadly attack on the U.S. Capitol on Jan. 6. She was one of only 10 House Republicans who voted to do so.Since that attack, Cheney has been an outspoken opponent of Trump’s, blaming him for inciting violence that day and painting him as a threat to democracy.”I think the issue really is Donald Trump and it really is the party and whether we’re going to be a party that’s based on the truth,” Cheney said. “I think we’ve seen consistently since the election, certainly since Jan. 6 and in ways, it’s increased since Jan. 6, the former president’s willingness to be very aggressive in his attacks on democracy and on our electoral process.”The events of Jan. 6 remain a central focus for lawmakers in both chambers. After months of negotiations, a bipartisan pair of House lawmakers announced an agreement to form a bipartisan commission to investigate the Capitol attack and its aftermath.While Democrats are expected to bring the measure to the House floor next week, House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy, R-Calif., told reporters he had not reviewed the proposal.Cheney: McCarthy ‘absolutely’ should testify about Jan. 6 Cheney told Karl that McCarthy “absolutely should” testify before any commission, and that she “wouldn’t be surprised if he were subpoenaed.””I think that he very clearly and said publicly that he’s got information about the president’s state of mind that day,” Cheney said.Rep. Liz Cheney speaks with ABC News’ Chief Washington Correspondent Jonathan Karl in Washington, May 14, 2021.McCarthy spoke to Trump on Jan. 6, and reportedly told him to call off his supporters during the riot at the Capitol, according to a statement from Rep. Jamie Herrera Beutler, R-Wash., who cited a conversation with McCarthy.Herrera Beutler said Trump replied, “‘Well, Kevin, I guess these people are more upset about the election then you are.'”McCarthy did not deny Trump’s comments but downplayed them when pressed in a Fox News interview, saying Trump was “engaged in the idea of making sure we could stop what was going on inside the Capitol at that moment in time.””I would hope he doesn’t require a subpoena, but I wouldn’t be surprised if he were subpoenaed,” Cheney said of McCarthy.Aides to McCarthy, who had called for a panel to investigate political violence beyond Jan. 6, did not respond to a message seeking a response to Cheney’s comments.”The elements of that commission are exactly as they should be. I’m very glad they rejected leader McCarthy’s suggestions that somehow we should dilute the commission, it’s really important that it be focused on just on January 6 and the events leading up to it,” Cheney said.Cheney’s full interview with ABC News will air on “This Week” on Sunday morning.

The CDC announced that anyone fully vaccinated can take off their mask. May 14, 2021, 5:12 PM• 6 min readShare to FacebookShare to TwitterEmail this articleThe news that the Centers for Disease Control amended its COVID-19 mask guidance for people who are fully vaccinated has raised new questions about what this means for patrons at bars and restaurants.The agency said Thursday that “fully vaccinated people no longer need to wear a mask or physically distance in any setting, except where required by federal, state, local, tribal, or territorial laws, rules, and regulations, including local business and workplace guidance.”While there was no succinct or defined set of recommendations specific to bars and restaurants, industry leaders have responded to what this new guidance means.The National Restaurant Association told “Good Morning America” that while the updated CDC guidance is an encouraging step, “the Association won’t be immediately updating its COVID-19 Operating Guidance.”Customers sit in the outdoor dining area of a restaurant in the West Village neighborhood of New York, April 28, 2021.”The announcement by the CDC that fully vaccinated people no longer need to wear masks indoors or outdoors means that restaurant operators have the option of determining how best to enforce the new guidance,” Larry Lynch, the SVP of Science and Industry for the National Restaurant Association, said. “Because restaurants welcome people who are both vaccinated and not fully vaccinated, operators will still need to work with their state and local regulators to ensure they are in line with all other mandates in place.”He added, “The restaurant industry has always placed a focus on the health and safety of our workforce and our customers, so we are encouraged by the CDC’s decision and the potential it has to help move the restaurant industry closer to being fully reopened in all communities where the virus is not an immediate threat.”Read a full list of public health guidance around other activities and masks from the CDC here.A worker wearing a protective mask pours a beer inside a restaurant in San Francisco, May 6, 2021.As cities across the U.S. continue to work to safely reopen and loosen restrictions like capacity limits and curfews, major industry capitals like New York are on the brink of a full reopening.Eateries in the Big Apple will be able to reopen to 100% beginning Wednesday, May 19, Gov. Andrew Cuomo announced earlier this month. Thanks to the increased vaccination rates, which Cuomo cited as a key indicator for loosening those restrictions, restaurants and bars in the city can also resume normal operating hours starting May 17 for outdoor dining and May 31 inside.Bar and restaurant owners in other parts of the country hard-hit by limitations due to the pandemic are still facing limitations.In Los Angeles County, indoor dining is restricted to operating with a maximum of 50% occupancy, according to the Department of Public Health.The latest move from the CDC was an about-face from guidance issued just 16 days prior when the agency suggested masks should still be used indoors or in crowds even if people are fully immunized, which is defined as two weeks after the final shot.CDC Director Rochelle Walensky faced criticism for the CDC being too slow to provide a path back to normalcy for fully vaccinated people, over 117 million of whom are in the U.S. Walensky has defended the CDC’s approach as scientifically-based to ensure protection not just for individuals but also the entire U.S. population. The majority of the American population remains unvaccinated.Some restaurant owners hope that the news will prompt changes at the state, and local districts and several states — including Connecticut, Illinois, Kentucky, Nevada and Pennsylvania — lifted their mask mandates following the update from the CDC.At the same time, mask enforcement for non-vaccinated people will be challenging and is likely to renew the debate over “vaccine passports,” which some states have banned.”With regard to what businesses, communities, schools we, of course, will be updating our guidance in many of these areas very shortly,” Walensky said Thursday, but urged local public health departments to make the call in each community based on how many people are vaccinated and how many cases are in the area.ABC News’ Cheyenne Haslett andAnne Flaherty contributed to this report.

Joel Greenberg said that he and others had paid a 17-year-old girl for sex.May 14, 2021, 7:05 PM• 2 min readShare to FacebookShare to TwitterEmail this articleA one-time close ally of Rep. Matt Gaetz, former Florida Seminole County tax collector Joel Greenberg, will plead guilty to multiple federal crimes including sex trafficking of a minor, and has agreed to cooperate with federal investigators, according to court papers filed on Friday.Greenberg does not directly name Gaetz in the papers, but he admitted that he and others who are not identified in the document had paid a 17-year-old girl for sex and that he “introduced the minor to other adult men, who engaged in commercial sex acts.”Greenberg will plead guilty to six of 33 federal charges he was facing, but the government states they reserve the right to prosecute him on the other charges if he violates any terms of the cooperation deal.Former Seminole County Tax Collector Joel Greenberg talks to the Orlando Sentinel in September 2019, during an interview at his office in Lake Mary.He will plead to charges of stalking, identity theft, wire fraud, and conspiracy to bribe a public official, as well as the sex trafficking charge, according to the documents.Greenberg is set to appear at a “change of plea” hearing Monday morning in federal court in Orlando.Gaetz has vehemently denied any wrongdoing, including having sex with an underage girl.

Joel Greenberg said that he and others had paid a 17-year-old girl for sex.May 14, 2021, 7:05 PM• 2 min readShare to FacebookShare to TwitterEmail this articleA one-time close ally of Rep. Matt Gaetz, former Florida Seminole County tax collector Joel Greenberg, will plead guilty to multiple federal crimes including sex trafficking of a minor, and has agreed to cooperate with federal investigators, according to court papers filed on Friday.Greenberg does not directly name Gaetz in the papers, but he admitted that he and others who are not identified in the document had paid a 17-year-old girl for sex and that he “introduced the minor to other adult men, who engaged in commercial sex acts.”Greenberg will plead guilty to six of 33 federal charges he was facing, but the government states they reserve the right to prosecute him on the other charges if he violates any terms of the cooperation deal.Former Seminole County Tax Collector Joel Greenberg talks to the Orlando Sentinel in September 2019, during an interview at his office in Lake Mary.He will plead to charges of stalking, identity theft, wire fraud, and conspiracy to bribe a public official, as well as the sex trafficking charge, according to the documents.Greenberg is set to appear at a “change of plea” hearing Monday morning in federal court in Orlando.Gaetz has vehemently denied any wrongdoing, including having sex with an underage girl.

Barry Morphew was charged with forgery and offenses relating to mail ballots.May 14, 2021, 7:16 PM• 5 min readA Colorado man arrested this month for allegedly murdering his missing wife has also been accused of voting for former President Donald Trump in her name.Barry Morphew, 53, was charged with felony forgery and offenses relating to mail ballots, a misdemeanor, according to court records filed Thursday.He was previously arrested on May 5 on charges of first-degree murder after deliberation, tampering with physical evidence and an attempt to influence a public servant, according to court documents, in connection with the disappearance of his wife, Suzanne Morphew, over a year ago.Suzanne Morphew, 49, who shared two daughters with her husband, disappeared on May 10, 2020, near the small mountain town of Salida, in Chaffee County. She has yet to be found.So when the Chaffee County Clerk’s Office received a voter ballot in the mail for the missing person in October, the county clerk reported the alleged voter fraud to authorities, according to an arrest warrant affidavit.The ballot did not have the required signature, but was allegedly signed by Barry Morphew on the witness’ signature line on Oct. 15, according to the affidavit.A mug shot of Barry Morphew, released by the Chaffee County Sheriff’s Office on May 5, 2021.The Chaffee County sheriff seized the ballot and its envelope as evidence, and Barry Morphew’s own ballot and envelope were seized in March as well during a monthslong investigation, according to the affidavit.During an interview with FBI agents in April, Barry Morphew allegedly confessed to submitting his wife’s ballot, according to the affidavit.”Just because I wanted Trump to win,” he allegedly said, per a transcript of the conversation included in the affidavit. “I just thought, give him another vote.””I figured all these other guys are cheating,” he allegedly said, adding that his wife “was going to vote for Trump anyway,” according to the affidavit.Suzanne Morphew is seen in this undated photo released by Chaffee County Sheriff’s Office via Facebook on May 11, 2020, when she went missing.He allegedly told the FBI agents he didn’t realize it was illegal to submit someone else’s voter ballot. “I didn’t know you couldn’t do that for your spouse,” he allegedly said, according to the affidavit.Barry Morphew is being held in the Chaffee County Detention Facility without bond in the murder case. He is next scheduled to appear in court on May 27. His attorneys are state public defenders, who do not comment on criminal cases.No other arrests are expected in connection with the disappearance of Suzanne Morphew, authorities said. The arrest affidavit for the murder charge is sealed, and prosecutors have not revealed a suspected cause of death.