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May 17, 2018
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Early rising Californians got a glimpse of NASA's InSight mission to Mars earlier this month when the spacecraft spectacularly blasted off from Vandenberg Air Force base at 4:05 a.m. Anyone who decided to sleep in, though, need not fret — The Atlantic reports that California is well on its way to being America's new Space Coast.

For one thing, the industry is returning. While "southern California as we know it would not exist without aerospace," in the words of historian Peter Westwick, "the city's hidden history is now waking up," The Atlantic writes. Of course there is Elon Musk's SpaceX, but there is also the center at Vandenberg and the Mojave Air and Space Port north of Los Angeles.

For another, the technology has evolved so that launching rockets from the Pacific Coast actually makes sense:

Launches from the East Coast, using Florida's famed Cape Canaveral, have at least two benefits: Rockets can follow a safe, eastward arc over the open expanse of the Atlantic Ocean, and, in the process, they gain a slight boost from the Earth's rotation. From Vandenberg Air Force Base, however, a sprawling site overlooking the Pacific, rockets have only one sensible option: a southern route over the sea. Until the advent of the Atlas V rocket in 2002, however, there hadn't been the power to launch south and pursue what NASA calls a "planetary trajectory." As technology improves, so does California's appeal as a launch site. [The Atlantic]

As The Atlantic concludes, "more rockets will be coming." Read more about southern California's transformation here. Jeva Lange

12:44 p.m. ET
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Unusually catastrophic monsoon rains continued Saturday in the southern Indian state of Kerala, where more than 300,000 people have now evacuated their homes to escape rising floodwaters. Another 10,000 are thought to be trapped on their roofs awaiting rescue.

Severe flooding has lasted for more than a week, and at least 324 people have died in connection to the floods. More rain is expected at least through Monday, hindering already fraught rescue efforts. Nevertheless, 82,000 rescues were completed on Friday alone.

"It's a four-story house, but water started pouring in fast until it reached the second floor and stayed that way for two days," said one woman named Shrinni, who lives with her family in a town called Ranni. "My relatives shifted to the top floor with all the stuff they immediately needed. An airlift came, but as my 85-year-old grandmother had never taken a flight in her life and she was afraid to go. So the whole family stayed back. On Friday, rescuers came with motor boats and shifted them to a safe place." Bonnie Kristian

12:12 p.m. ET

President Trump this week revoked security clearance for former CIA Director John Brennan, and Saturday morning he continued his feud with Brennan on Twitter:

The tweet may have been prompted by an interview Brennan gave on MSNBC Friday night. "The fact that [Trump is] using a security clearance of a former CIA director as a pawn in his public relations strategy I think is so reflective of somebody who is drunk on power," Brennan told host Rachel Maddow. "I think he's abusing the powers of that office."

Brennan argued Trump's decision "flies in the face of traditional practice, as well as common sense, as well as national security." The former CIA director's cause has been supported by a dozen former U.S. intelligence chiefs; Trump meanwhile, reportedly intends to revoke other people's security clearances, too. Bonnie Kristian

11:00 a.m. ET

Police in Weld County, Colorado, northeast of Denver, on Thursday found the bodies of Shannan Watts and her two daughters, Bella, 4, and Celeste, 3. Watts was pregnant with her third child.

The family members are believed to have been killed by their husband and father, Chris Watts, who has been arrested but not yet formally charged. He reportedly confessed to the crime after his arrest and is expected to face murder charges by Monday.

The bodies were found on the property of a petroleum and natural gas exploration company where Chris used to work. Court documents filed Friday suggest strangulation may be the cause of death. Bonnie Kristian

10:21 a.m. ET

The weapon used in the Saudi-led coalition airstrike on a school bus in Yemen earlier this month that killed 51 people, 40 of them children, and wounded over 100 more was manufactured in the United States, CNN reported Friday night.

The bomb in question was reportedly a 500-pound laser-guided MK 82 bomb produced by Lockheed Martin, an American defense contractor. It was identified from numbers on the shrapnel.

The Saudi coalition, which has been credibly accused of war crimes in Yemen, is supported and enabled by the United States. The coalition promised to investigate itself for this attack.

A coalition representative declined to comment on the airstrike while the self-investigation is underway, and a Pentagon representative would not confirm the bomb's origin, instead providing CNN a generic condemnation of civilian casualties. Bonnie Kristian

10:13 a.m. ET

Former United Nations Secretary General Kofi Annan died Saturday after a brief illness, his family reported via his personal foundation. He was 80 years old.

Born in Ghana in 1938, Annan began work at the U.N. in 1962, rising through the ranks to serve as secretary general from 1997 to 2006. He shared the Nobel Peace Prize with the U.N. in 2001.

Current U.N. Secretary General Antonio Guterres said Annan "provided people everywhere with a space for dialogue, a place for problem-solving, and a path to a better world." Annan is survived by his wife and three children. Bonnie Kristian

8:23 a.m. ET
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Special Counsel Robert Mueller is seeking a short prison sentence of up to six months for former Trump campaign adviser George Papadopoulos, who allegedly delayed federal investigators by lying to them.

"[Papadopoulos'] lies undermined investigators' ability to challenge the Professor or potentially detain or arrest him while he was still in the United States," Mueller's team said in court filings Friday. "The defendant's false statements were intended to harm the investigation, and did so."

The "Professor" in question is Joseph Mifsud, who reportedly has ties to the Russian government and contacted Papadopoulos offering "dirt" on Hillary Clinton during the campaign. Papadopoulos pleaded guilty to lying about Mifsud to the FBI in October.

Papadopoulos and his attorney could not be reached by Wall Street Journal requests to comment on the possible jail time, but Simona Mangiante Papadopoulos, George's wife, has been publicly asking President Trump to pardon him. Bonnie Kristian

8:04 a.m. ET

President Trump on Saturday alleged on Twitter, to his 53.8 million followers, whom he reaches for free via the network's platform, that social media is censoring the right:

In follow-up tweets, the president spun a confusing and contradictory approach to censorship, apparently speaking in response to conspiracy-monger (and Trump fan) Alex Jones' internet woes:

So, to summarize: Social media is censoring Republicans, and our Republican president is letting us know via social media. Censorship cannot be policed, but the Trump administration won't let it happen! Trump himself deplores censorship and thinks everyone should speak in the public square, but he definitely would prefer to censor CNN and MSNBC, who are "Fake News" and would ideally be weeded out. Got it? Bonnie Kristian

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