Washington, Jun 26 (AP/UNB) — President Donald Trump is blaming Democrats for the death of a man and his 23-month-old daughter shown in a searing photograph that has become a symbol of the peril faced by migrants.
Asked about the photograph as he left the White House for a trip to Asia on Wednesday, Trump told reporters: "I hate it."
But he said the deaths could have been prevented and blamed Democrats for failing to pass legislation he claims would stop people from trying to make the dangerous trek.
The bodies of the man and child — her arm draped around his neck suggesting she clung to him in her final moments — was discovered Monday morning on the bank of the Rio Grande.
Trump said the father, Óscar Alberto Martínez Ramírez, was probably a "wonderful guy."
Houston, Jun 26 (AP/UNB) — Inside a locked vault at Johnson Space Center is treasure few have seen and fewer have touched.
The restricted lab is home to hundreds of pounds of moon rocks collected by Apollo astronauts close to a half-century ago. And for the first time in decades, NASA is about to open some of the pristine samples and let geologists take a crack at them with 21st-century technology.
What better way to mark this summer's 50th anniversary of humanity's first footsteps on the moon than by sharing a bit of the lunar loot.
"It's sort of a coincidence that we're opening them in the year of the anniversary," explained NASA's Apollo sample curator Ryan Zeigler, covered head to toe in a white protective suit with matching fabric boots, gloves and hat.
"But certainly the anniversary increased the awareness and the fact that we're going back to the moon."
With the golden anniversary of Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin's feat fast approaching — their lunar module Eagle landed July 20, 1969, on the Sea of Tranquility — the moon is red-hot again.
After decades of flip-flopping between the moon and Mars as the next big astronaut destination, NASA aims to put astronauts on the lunar surface again by 2024 at the White House's direction. President Donald Trump prefers talking up Mars. But the consensus is that the moon is a crucial proving ground given its relative proximity to home — 240,000 miles (386,000 kilometers) or two to three days away.
Zeigler's job is to preserve what the 12 moonwalkers brought back from 1969 through 1972 — lunar samples totaling 842 pounds (382 kilograms) — and ensure scientists get the best possible samples for study.
Some of the soil and bits of rock were vacuum-packed on the moon — and never exposed to Earth's atmosphere — or frozen or stored in gaseous helium following splashdown and then left untouched. The lab's staff is now trying to figure out how best to remove the samples from their tubes and other containers without contaminating or spoiling anything. They're practicing with mock-up equipment and pretend lunar dirt.
Compared with Apollo-era tech, today's science instruments are much more sensitive, Zeigler noted.
"We can do more with a milligram than we could do with a gram back then. So it was really good planning on their part to wait," he said.
The lunar sample lab has two side-by-side vaults: one for rocks still in straight-from-the-moon condition and a smaller vault for samples previously loaned out for study. About 70 percent of the original haul is in the pristine sample vault, which has two combinations and takes two people to unlock. About 15 percent is in safekeeping at White Sands in New Mexico. The rest is used for research or display.
Of the six manned moon landings, Apollo 11 yielded the fewest lunar samples: 48 pounds or 22 kilograms. It was the first landing by astronauts and NASA wanted to minimize their on-the-moon time and risk. What's left from this mission — about three-quarters after scientific study, public displays and goodwill gifts to all countries and U.S. states in 1969 — is kept mostly here at room temperature.
Armstrong was the primary rock collector and photographer. Aldrin gathered two core samples just beneath the surface during the 2 1/2-hour moonwalk. All five subsequent Apollo moon landings had longer stays. The last three — Apollo 15, 16 and 17 — had rovers that significantly upped the sample collection and coverage area.
"Fifty years later, we're still learning new things ... incredible," said the lab's Charis Krysher, holding a clear acrylic marble embedded with chips of Apollo 11 moon rock in her gloved hand.
By studying the Apollo moon rocks, Zeigler said, scientists have determined the ages of the surfaces of Mars and Mercury, and established that Jupiter and the solar system's other big outer planets likely formed closer to the sun and later migrated outward.
"So sample return from outer space is really powerful about learning about the whole solar system," he said.
Andrea Mosie, who's worked with the Apollo moon rocks for 44 years and was a high school intern at Johnson Space Center in July 1969, remembers the Polaroid photos and handwritten notes once accompanying each sample. She sometimes gets emotional when talking to children about the moonshots and does her best to dispel any notion that the rocks aren't from the moon and the lunar landings never happened.
"The samples are right here and they're still in a pristine state," she assures young skeptics.
Most of the samples to be doled out over the next year were collected in 1972 during Apollo 17, the final moonshot and the only one to include a geologist, Harrison Schmitt. He occasionally visits the lunar sample lab and plans to help open the fresh specimens.
The nine U.S. research teams selected by NASA will receive varying amounts.
"Everything from the weight of a paperclip, down to basically so little mass you can barely measure it," Zeigler said.
Especially tricky will be extracting the gases that were trapped in the vacuum-sealed sample tubes. The lab hasn't opened one since the 1970s.
"If you goof that part up, the gas is gone. You only get one shot," Zeigler said.
The lab's collection is divided by mission, with each lunar landing getting its own cabinet with built-in gloves and stacks of stainless steel bins filled with pieces of the moon. Apollo 16 and 17, responsible for half the lunar haul, get two cabinets apiece.
The total Apollo inventory now exceeds 100,000 samples; some of the original 2,200 were broken into smaller pieces for study.
Sample processor Jeremy Kent is hopeful that "we will get some more samples here in the lab to work on."
There's space for plenty more.
Abuja, June 26 (Xinhua/UNB) -- Twenty-two local farmers were killed following an attack by terror group Boko Haram who invaded a village in Nigeria's northeastern state of Borno, security sources said on Wednesday.
The Boko Haram fighters attacked the group of farmers on Monday in Ngamgam village, about 50 km east of Damasak town in Mobbar local government area of the state, one military official told Xinhua.
Dozens of people including women and children fled with bullet wounds, most of them seeking refuge in the nearby Damasak town, as the gunmen went on the rampage.
Usman Bala, head of the government-backed Civilian Joint Task Force, a militia group, said the Boko Haram members came in large numbers on foot and surrounded the village before unleashing terror on the farming community.
Bala said up to 18 bodies were first recovered at Ngamgam as of Tuesday morning during search and rescue operation by locals, but later on, four more bodies were found hit by bullets.
Boko Haram, which launched attacks in Nigeria's northeast a decade ago, is known for its agenda to maintain a virtual caliphate in the most populous African country.
Port Huron, Jun 26 (AP/UNB) — U.S. border officials say they have seized ancient Egyptian mummy linens during enforcement operations at the Blue Water Bridge that connects Michigan with the Canadian province of Ontario.
The U.S. Customs and Border Protection announced Wednesday officers seized a package of five jars of containing the artifacts found May 25 on a Canadian mail truck. The truck had been selected for examination at a nearby station in Marysville, Michigan.
Officials say they worked with a Washington-based archaeological organization and determined the artifacts are believed to be from the Ptolemaic Dynasty from 305-30 B.C. Their removal from Egypt appears to be a violation of federal law.
Authorities say they plan to return the artifacts in the near future and are working to determine who is criminally responsible.
Geneva, Jun 26 (AP/UNB) — A top Saudi diplomat lashed out Tuesday at an independent U.N. expert's searing report alleging that Saudi Arabia was responsible for the killing of Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi, saying it was based on "prejudice and pre-fabricated ideas."
In what amounted to a face-off at the U.N's top human rights body, Ambassador Abdulaziz Alwasil insisted that special rapporteur Agnes Callamard had failed to follow proper procedures and used flawed sourcing in her 101-page report made public last week.
"Accusations have been launched, and fingers have been pointed — (she is) supporting herself on non-credible articles or sources," he told the Human Rights Council, in Arabic through a U.N. interpreter.
Callamard, sitting at the council podium to present her report, retorted that her methodology had respected precedent and insisted her report wasn't based on media reports. She also said she hadn't received any responses in writing from Saudi authorities to her report.
The report by Callamard, an independent expert on extrajudicial and arbitrary killings, alleged that Saudi Arabia bears responsibility for The Washington Post columnist's grisly apparent dismemberment by Saudi agents at the kingdom's consulate in Istanbul in October. It said Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman's possible role in the killing should be examined, and Callamard used Tuesday's presentation to push for further investigation.
She also wrote that Saudi Arabia, which has put 11 people on trial in non-public proceedings, shouldn't be allowed to mete out justice alone in a case with vast international implications — and called for a "proper authority" to determine if crimes had been committed.
Callamard said the Saudi trial should be suspended because it fails to meet procedural standards.
The Saudi ambassador rejected that.
"This is something that is set against Saudi Arabia, it's based on prejudice and pre-fabricated ideas," he said. "This is why we reject any attempt to remove this from our national justice system in Saudi Arabia."
Among diplomats speaking out Tuesday, European Union ambassador Walter Stevens called on Saudi Arabia "to disclose all information available," and "fully cooperate" with investigations into the killing, and Ralf Schroeder of Germany said "nothing can justify this killing, and we condemn it in the strongest possible terms."
Russia's representative, Yaroslav Eremin, questioned the focus on journalists, dissenters and others, wondering aloud if the lives of regular citizens were "less valuable." Yusuf Abdulkarim Bucheeri of Bahrain rallied to the defense of its big Arab neighbor, insisting Saudi Arabia had shown "full transparency from the outset."
The Trump administration pulled the U.S. out of the council a year, alleging it has an anti-Israeli bias among other complaints.
Her voice trembling in English, Khashoggi's fiancee Hatice Cengiz, intervening on invitation by a non-governmental organization, told the council that "those who are behind the murder and cover-up should face punishment."
"It was not only my beloved Jamal who was murdered that day, but also democracy, human rights and freedoms," she said.