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Updated: 10 hours 6 min ago

President Trump Announces New Nominee For UN Ambassador

Sat, 02/23/2019 - 02:46

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President Donald Trump announced in a tweet on Friday that he is nominating Kelly Knight Craft to be the new U.S. ambassador to the United Nations.

Craft currently serves as the U.S. ambassador to Canada, a position that she has held since October 2017. President Trump said that Craft "has done an outstanding job representing our Nation and I have no doubt that, under her leadership, our Country will be represented at the highest level."

President Trump's initial nominee for the position, Heather Nauert, dropped out of consideration for the position early in February. She announced her decision to bow out of the running after news came to light that she had previously employed a nanny who wasn't legally permitted to work in the country.

According to CNN, it is expected that the post will be downgraded from it's previous status as a Cabinet level position with Craft's nomination.

The permanent position has been left open since former U.N. ambassador Nikki Haley stepped down last year.

Additional reporting from Newsy affiliate CNN.

WSJ: Several Apps Are Sharing Sensitive Data with Facebook

Sat, 02/23/2019 - 01:51

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Several apps are sharing sensitive data with Facebook and they're not telling users, according to a Wall Street Journal report on Friday. 

The Wall Street Journal identified at least 11 popular apps that are sharing all kinds of user information with Facebook, like body weight, blood pressure and even a person's menstrual cycle. 

But there's more – the outlet said Facebook's software can collect your data even if you didn't sign in with Facebook on the app or have a Facebook account. 

This isn't the first time Facebook has shared users' data. The company had to pay a fine after it allowed Cambridge Analytica to access users' data. The tech giant has faced numerous privacy concerns and questions about the company's business practices in recent years.

In a statement Friday, New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo said this is "an outrageous abuse of privacy" and that he is going to direct the New York Department of State, along with other agencies, to investigate. He said: "New Yorkers deserve to know that their personal information is safe, and we must hold internet companies – no matter how big – responsible for upholding the law and protecting the information of smartphone users."

Facebook responded to the report and said it would direct some apps to stop sharing sensitive data, but that other cases represented standard industry practice.

International Watchdog Says Iran Is Still Complying With Nuclear Deal

Sat, 02/23/2019 - 01:18

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An international watchdog reportedly said Iran is still abiding by the terms of the 2015 nuclear deal. 

The International Atomic Energy Agency is responsible for verifying Iran's compliance. According to the Associated Press, the IAEA's quarterly report said the country is still within all the limits set by the deal and the agency's investigators still have access to all the sites they need to visit. 

Iran's compliance is especially notable because the U.S. is no longer part of the agreement. President Donald Trump pulled out of the deal in May last year, and by November, his administration had restored all the sanctions that had been waived. 

The countries remaining in the deal — Germany, the U.K., France, Russia and China — are still committed to it. They've enacted countermeasures to help shield Iran from the re-instituted U.S. sanctions. 

Democrats Demand Barr Release Full Mueller Report To Public

Sat, 02/23/2019 - 01:04

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House Democrats are asking Attorney General William Barr to release special counsel Robert Mueller's report to the public when it is delivered to the Justice Department.

Six Democratic committee chairs said in a letter to Barr Friday "the public is entitled to know what the Special Counsel has found" and urged him to release the report "without delay and to the maximum extent permitted by law." They added if the DOJ feels certain parts of the report aren't "suitable for immediate public release" to still provide that info to Congress and explain why it should be withheld from the public. The group also asked the newly-appointed attorney general to provide any additional information "obtained or produced by the Special Counsel" to Congress as well. 

According to special counsel regulations, a confidential report will be submitted to the attorney general at the end of the counsel's work. The rules don't require the details of the report be shared with Congress, but Barr has said he wants to be as "transparent" as he can with Congress.

Recent reports stated that Mueller's finding into Russian interference could be released as early as next week, but a Justice Department official said Friday that's not likely. 

New England Patriots Owner Robert Kraft Charged With Soliciting Sex

Fri, 02/22/2019 - 23:46

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Police announced on Friday that New England Patriots Owner Robert Kraft has been charged with two counts of soliciting someone to commit prostitution in Jupiter, Florida.

The charges stem from a raid at a day spa as part of a months-long sex trafficking sting in the area surrounding Palm Beach County. Kraft is facing charges that specifically pertain to "two different visits" to the spa in Jupiter, where he was recorded engaging in paid sex acts. Overall, more than 20 people are facing charges.

According to Jupiter police, charges have been filed against Kraft but he has not been arrested.

The NFL is allowed to discipline the owners of teams for their personal conduct. In 2014, Indianapolis Colts owner Jim Irsay was suspended for six games after he was arrested on drug charges. It also fined former Carolina Panthers owner Jerry Richardson $2.75 million in 2018 after Sports Illustrated reported he sexually harassed women on multiple occasions. Richardson eventually sold the team.

Kraft has owned the New England Patriots since 1994. The team released an announcement soon after the news broke, denying that Kraft had committed a crime.

Additional reporting from Newsy affiliate CNN.

HHS Finalizes Rule That Would Cut Some Funds From Planned Parenthood

Fri, 02/22/2019 - 22:43

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The Trump administration has moved forward on a proposal that would cut federal funding to Planned Parenthood locations that perform or refer patients for abortions. 

HHS published the final rule Friday, which would pull Title X family planning funds from facilities that fit that description. 

The Title X program provides millions of dollars each year for reproductive services. This new rule would require that the clinics receiving the funding be completely separate, physically and financially, from facilities that are linked to abortion services. It also aims to free up some of that funding for faith-based organizations. 

While it's not a full defunding of Planned Parenthood, the move is seen as a win for conservatives. Critics of the policy say it'll hurt millions of low-income patients, giving them fewer health care options. 

Unlike a Reagan-era Title X program that didn't end up going into effect as written, the new guidance will allow health care providers to speak with patients about abortion – just not refer them for the procedure. 

Abortion rights groups are expected to take the issue to court. The rule's set to be published in the Federal Register on June 1, and go into effect after 60 days.

Foreign Aid Could Ignite A Crisis At Venezuelan Border

Fri, 02/22/2019 - 22:18

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Humanitarian aid has become a political wedge issue in Venezuela as the U.S. and others continue to pressure Venezuelan President Nicolás Maduro to step down.

The U.S. says it's sent almost 200 tons of food and medical equipment to the Venezuela-Colombia border: but it intends to deliver the aid through opposition leader Juan Guaidó, who the U.S. recognizes as the country's true president.

Kathryn Sikkink, Professor of Human Rights Policy at the Harvard Kennedy School, told Newsy: "Bilateral aid has always been political. It's not surprising that it is political. Back in the 1970's the idea was that we should not send aid to a gross violator of human rights."

The aid is part of a larger strategy of decertifying Maduro's regime. More than 50 countries have recognized Guaidó as Venezuela's president, arguing that tainted elections have robbed Maduro of his claim to legitimacy.

The tactic has historical roots in the region: Venezuelan president Rómulo Betancourt maintained a policy of not recognizing the legitimacy of governments which came to power through use of force. The doctrine was meant to discourage non-democratic regimes from coming to power.

But Maduro has yet to waver: he's closed off his country's borders rather than allow the U.S. aid through. His government claims they're receiving over 900 tons of medical aid from Russia and China instead.

The longer the U.S. aid sits at the border undelivered, the greater the pressure will be to use force to deliver it. But that risks undermining support for Guaidó's government. The U.S. has a long and bloody history of military interventions in Latin America that failed to set up stable democracies

Sikkink told Newsy: "There's always the temptation to think that the military solution is the easy is going to be the easy fast solution and it's almost always a mistake. ... There's great need for this aid, I think it's really important to try to deliver the aid, but I think the US military should stay out of it."

Trump Meets With China's Vice Premier As Tariff Deadline Approaches

Fri, 02/22/2019 - 22:15

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With a tariff deadline fast approaching, the U.S. and China have reached a deal on currency issues, following a meeting of President Donald Trump and Chinese Vice Premier Liu He Friday. 

Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin said U.S. and Chinese negotiators have reached a deal to stabilize currency – one of many sticking points in the ongoing trade talks. And President Trump told reporters the trade talks overall are going well.

"Is it more likely that a deal does happen or doesn't happen? I would say, speaking for the United States, it's more likely that a deal does happen," Trump said.

Mnuchin said Chinese negotiators are going to say in Washington D.C. through the weekend. The U.S. and China have a week left to make a trade deal by the March 1 deadline.

And President Trump said he is open to meeting with Chinese President Xi Jinping sometime in March if talks are still progressing.

If they don't strike a deal, the U.S. will raise the tariffs on $200 billion worth of Chinese goods from 10 percent to 25 percent. Last week, President Trump said he would consider delaying Chinese tariff hikes if talks go well, but that he's "not inclined to do that." 

There are still larger sticking points remaining, especially concerning intellectual property protection and larger access to the Chinese market.

Additional reporting from Newsy affiliate CNN.

The Catholic Church Sex Abuse Investigation Redefining New York Law

Fri, 02/22/2019 - 22:00

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A sex abuse investigation in Buffalo, New York led Gov. Andrew Cuomo to reevaluate the way that the state tackled cases of sexual assault involving children. Newsy's Chance Seales chatted with WKBW's Charlie Specht about his work on the case. 

Doctors In Sudan Are Key To The Current Protests

Fri, 02/22/2019 - 21:59

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Protests in Sudan have been going on since mid-December, and some of the most involved protesters are doctors. That's partly because the groundwork of today's protests started with the creation of a doctor's union in 2016.  

"At the beginning we were protesting for the low wages. That created the doctor union. The idea of a doctor's union is that all the issues of every doctor is discussed," said Dr. Kholoud El-naeem, a general practitioner in Sudan. "The hospitals and the conditions in the country are really bad. All of the basic equipment in a hospital that should be available for the patients, they're not available in the hospitals. So that over the years and low salaries created a sort of anger. … We actually see people dying because of ridiculous causes. People died because they don't have the money to buy, for example, the basic needs."

The 2016 strike saw doctors refusing non-emergency medical care to patients. The government ended up jailing several of the union's founders, accusing them of putting the country's health care at risk. 

While the idea of an independent trade union may seem pretty standard, it's something that's been illegal in Sudan since President Omar al-Bashir took power three decades ago. 

Doctors blame the government for deteriorating economic conditions, which ultimately sparked the ongoing protests and a call for the current government to step down. Those economic conditions affect items like medicine, but also other necessities.

A group called the Sudanese Professionals Association, or SPA, has taken on much of the organizing and scheduling of the protests. The demonstrations include doctor sit-ins. But protesters say they're being scrutinized and reprimanded by the government. 

"Once they know that you're a doctor, if you got caught protesting, you're going to last more days in prison because of the interrogation. You don't get the [same] treatment as other professionals ... because they think that we have a strong association with the leader of SPA. That's why ... they think that. They just want ... any lead to lead them to those people," El-naeem said.

In January, one doctor was killed while witnesses say he was trying to help injured protesters. Activists say he was targeted by the government, but the government said the weapon used to kill him did not belong to Sudanese police.

His death didn't stop protests — in fact, it may have further encouraged them. So far, the doctor's union says at least 57 people have died in the Sudan protests. 

R. Kelly Charged With Multiple Counts Of Sexual Abuse

Fri, 02/22/2019 - 21:57

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R&B singer Robert Kelly, better known as R. Kelly, has been charged in Illinois with multiple counts of sexual abuse.

Kelly was charged Friday with 10 counts of aggravated criminal sexual abuse involving four victims, according to the Cook County State's Attorney. She said the alleged incidents happened from 1998 to 2010 and that three of the victims were minors at the time. A judge approved a no-bail warrant for the singer's arrest shortly after.

The singer has been accused and sued multiple times for sexual abuse and inappropriate encounters with minors for more than two decades. Kelly was indicted on charges of child pornography in 2002, but was acquitted of all charges in 2008. 

The recent Lifetime docuseries "Surviving R. Kelly" featured accounts and interviews from accusers regarding the singer's sexual exploits. Kelly has consistently denied any wrongdoing. 

Last week, attorney Michael Avenatti announced that he gave a videotape showing Kelly having sex with an underage girl to the Cook County State's Attorney's office. 

Kelly's bond hearing is scheduled for Saturday.

The End Of The Mueller Probe May Be The Beginning Of A Legal Fight

Fri, 02/22/2019 - 21:55

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We’re likely to see Special Counsel Robert Mueller wrap up his investigation soon. But closing the book on the Trump's campaign possible collusion with Russia could open up a whole new can of worms. That's because we don't know how much, or how little, we'll find out about this nearly two year investigation.

According to special counsel regulations, the report should be "confidential." First, Mueller will hand over his findings to Attorney General Bill Barr. Barr will read the report and put out a statement on the findings. But it's unclear what that statement will look like.

The regulations specifically say: "The Attorney General may determine that public release of these reports would be in the public interest" but that he is only required to notify the chairman and ranking minority member of the judiciary committees with an "explanation" at the conclusion of the investigation.

Barr could choose to release the entire report, or none of it. He could could release a detailed summary, or just confirm he received it. Barr is really only required to confirm he's received the report and let Congress know if at any point during the investigation the Department of Justice prevented Mueller from pursuing leads or denied him funding.

The only thing Barr has promised: "as much transparency as there can be, consistent with the rules and the law." Translation: no promises to give any concrete detail.

Barr's actions on this will dictate the course of political battles likely through the next election. If he declines to send Congress the report, they’ll probably subpoena it. A lawsuit to get the information could make it all the way to the Supreme Court. 

Mueller could also release his own report but he's given no indication he plans to do so. But Democrats might be able to compel Muller to give his account of the probe, either by calling him to testify, or passing legislation to require him to provide Congress with a summary. 

And even if Mueller's work ends with the report he sends to Barr, the investigation might live on. Other U.S. Attorney's offices in New York, Virginia and Washington D.C. have worked with the special counsel's office and might be prepping to file their own charges within their jurisdiction.

Should The US Grant Temporary Protections To Venezuelan Immigrants?

Fri, 02/22/2019 - 20:44

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The humanitarian and political crisis in Venezuela is intensifying. And every day, thousands of people are fleeing the country.

Most of them — more than 1 million — have escaped to neighboring Colombia. But tens of thousands have also made it to the U.S.

Nearly 50,000 Venezuelans applied for asylum in the last two years, making it by far the country with the most applicants. 

But because the asylum process is lengthy and increasingly restrictive, some lawmakers on both sides of the aisle now want these new immigrants to be shielded from deportation through a program known as TPS, or Temporary Protected Status.

Beyond Congress, the TPS idea has also gained traction at the State Department, according to internal documents reviewed by the Daily Beast

So how does TPS work? And what are some arguments for and against granting it to Venezuelan immigrants? 

TPS was enacted in 1990 to give certain immigrants already in the U.S. time-limited permissions to work and live here because of "extraordinary and temporary conditions" in their home countries. 

Because the program is meant to be temporary, the White House revisits the protections for each country every six or 18 months. So far, the Trump administration has ended TPS for more than 250,000 immigrants from El Salvador, Honduras, Nicaragua, Sudan, Haiti and Nepal.

The government argues that the conditions in all these countries have improved enough for their citizens to safely return home. But a federal judge temporarily blocked the TPS termination for four of these six countries.

So, what about Venezuela? 

Well, by all accounts, the situation in the country is extremely dire. The economy has shrunk by 50 percent over the past four years, there are widespread food shortages and homicide rates are through the roof. Immigration lawyer Amy Maldonado told Newsy that these factors are "a clear set of 'extraordinary and temporary conditions' that justify ... one or two TPS grants."

Dave Ray, a spokesperson for an organization that lobbies for immigration restrictions, argues that if the White House decides to designate Venezuela for TPS, it should only include Venezuelans who are legally in the U.S.

Otherwise, Ray said, "a TPS designation will serve as a huge magnet, drawing waves of future illegal immigration from Venezuela, and creating yet another new pool of immigrants pressing the U.S. government for permanent residence." 

Ray also stressed that, if approved, the TPS program should be truly temporary and its beneficiaries should return home at the end of the grant. Most current TPS grantees have been able to renew their protections for decades, which, in Ray's opinion, undermines the credibility of the program.    

While the fact that the State Department is reportedly considering TPS for Venezuela is consequential, it's the Department of Homeland Security that has the final say on the matter. And under the Trump administration, DHS has not yet designated any new country for TPS.

Trump Administration Ends Talks With California Over Fuel Standards

Fri, 02/22/2019 - 19:26

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The Trump administration is cutting off talks with California over vehicle fuel efficiency and emissions standards.

The White House said Thursday that because the two sides haven't been able to reach an agreement, it's moving forward with its own plan to ease fuel standards for automakers. 

At issue is California's authority to set its own pollution rules, which has been the case ever since the Clean Air Act was enacted in 1970. Several other states typically follow California's lead. 

The Trump administration's proposed regulations would freeze Obama-era rules that call for emissions standards to automatically increase every year. They'd instead make the rules less stringent, siding with automakers' concerns about building cars that would have to comply with two different sets of fuel standards: state and federal. 

Environmental rights groups say keeping tougher standards will help lower greenhouse gas emissions that contribute to climate change. The Trump administration says its plan will help auto sales. 

Despite the White House's move to stop negotiations, California leaders are defending their authority, likely setting up a legal battle that could end at the Supreme Court. 

The Trump administration's fuel standards overhaul is expected to be finalized later this year. 

Additional reporting from Newsy affiliate CNN. 

Venezuelan Soldiers Clash With Opposition At Brazil Border

Fri, 02/22/2019 - 19:04

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Venezuelan soldiers opened fire on civilians at the Brazil border Friday morning. It was the most violent clash so far in a mass effort to bring international aid into the country.

Venezuelan President Nicolás Maduro announced Thursday he'd close his country's border with Brazil to stop opposition from bringing in humanitarian aid. Maduro previously blocked a bridge connecting Venezuela and Colombia with both physical barriers and security forces.

Opposition leader Juan Guaidó called for the foreign aid last month. Venezuela is facing a huge economic and political crisis. Since 2014, around 2.5 million people have reportedly fled the country due to food shortages and massive inflation, among other problems.

The Venezuela-Brazil border was set to officially close Friday morning, and indigenous demonstrators showed up to block military vehicles. Soldiers responded by firing assault rifles at the civilians. At least one person died and around a dozen were wounded.

At the Venezuela-Colombia border on Thursday, opposition supporters forcefully drove trucks through security forces to pick up supplies waiting for them in Colombia. Soldiers fired tear gas, but the trucks made it through.

On Saturday morning, exactly one month after Guaidó declared himself interim president, the opposition is calling for thousands of people to help bring supplies into Venezuela. U.S. Vice President Mike Pence is scheduled to give a speech in Colombia next week regarding Venezuela's humanitarian crisis.

Additional reporting from Newsy affiliate CNN

Father Of Alabama Woman Who Joined ISIS Sues Trump Administration

Fri, 02/22/2019 - 17:45

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The father of an Alabama woman who joined ISIS years ago is suing the Trump administration in an effort to bring her back home to the U.S.

Earlier this week, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo declared that Hoda Muthana was not a U.S. citizen and therefore not allowed back in the country.

Her father's lawsuit claims that the Trump administration's move is "unconstitutionally robbing [Muthana and her 18-month-old son] of their rights as United States citizens."

Muthana's family claims she was born in New Jersey. But the question about her citizenship at least partly revolves around the timing of her father's employment as a Yemeni diplomat.

Now, in most cases, children born in the U.S. are automatically granted citizenship. But children of accredited foreign diplomatic officers are an exception under the Immigration and Nationality Act, since they aren't subject to U.S. law.

Pompeo told NBC News that her father's diplomatic status at the time of her birth means Muthana was never a U.S. citizen. But Muthana's father claims he stopped working as a diplomat months before she was born. 

In a letter obtained by CNN, Muthana wrote that she was angry and arrogant when she left the U.S. to go to Syria five years ago, and that witnessing war conditions and the deaths of two of her husbands has changed her mind.

The lawsuit says officials first determined that Muthana was not a U.S. citizen in 2016 when President Barack Obama was in office. Her passport was revoked at that time.

Additional reporting from Newsy affiliate CNN.

House Dems Introduce Measure To Stop Trump's Emergency Declaration

Fri, 02/22/2019 - 16:30

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House Democrats filed a measure to block President Donald Trump's national emergency declaration to build a wall at the southern border.

According to The Associated Press, a staff aide introduced the resolution during a pro forma session of the House Friday.

From here, it will likely pass a vote in the Democratic-run House next week. The measure's sponsor, Rep. Joaquin Castro, told reporters Friday he has support from more than 220 co-sponsors, including one Republican.

The resolution will then head to the Republican-controlled Senate. If it passes there, it will go to the president, who is likely to veto it. If that were to happen, a two-thirds majority in both the House and the Senate would be needed to override the veto. 

President Trump has been hit with several legal challenges since declaring a national emergency. The declaration allows the president to access certain government funding to pay for a border wall without going through Congress.

FDA Plans To Update Sunscreen Regulations

Fri, 02/22/2019 - 14:45

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The FDA unveiled plans to strengthen regulatory requirements for most sunscreen products in the U.S.

The agency said in a press release Thursday the goal is to bring over-the-counter sunscreens up to date with the latest science to ensure the safety and effectiveness of the products.

The new regulations would address active ingredient safety, dosage forms and SPF requirements. It would also update labels to make it easier for consumers to identify key product information.

The FDA's commissioner said in a statement: "Since the initial evaluation of these products, we know much more about the effects of the sun and about sunscreen's absorption through the skin." He said the proposed changes are an "important step" to keep Americans safe as sunscreen use has increased over the years. 

The FDA is seeking public comment on the proposed rule as it works to develop a final version.

Virginia Lawmakers At Odds Over Fairfax Sexual Assault Investigation

Fri, 02/22/2019 - 14:04

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As Virginia's General Assembly session comes to a close, Republicans and Democrats are at odds about how to handle sexual assault allegations against Lt. Gov. Justin Fairfax.

Earlier this month, a woman accused Fairfax of forcing her to perform a sex act while they were both working at the 2004 Democratic National Convention in Boston. Later, second woman accused him of sexually assaulting her in 2000. Fairfax has denied both accusations, saying his encounters with the women were consensual. 

Virginia House Speaker Kirk Cox has reportedly been pushing for a bipartisan committee to investigate the claims, but Democrats haven't given him an answer. While Republicans hold the majority, Cox isn't willing to move forward unless Democrats are on board.

Cox told reporters, "Basically I think they've given me every excuse in the world."

Democrats say Cox is misrepresenting their response. Virginia's House minority leader said Democrats are concerned a House investigation committee could interfere with criminal investigations. She also said they haven't been given enough details.

Fairfax's spokesperson responded to the committee proposal, saying he wants a "non-political investigation" and that it would be "extraordinary and unprecedented to initiate a General Assembly inquiry about matters that are better left to law enforcement."

The accusers have said they're willing to testify in an open hearing but they do not want to file criminal charges.

SpaceX Launches First Privately Funded Lunar Mission

Fri, 02/22/2019 - 13:51

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SpaceX launched the world's first privately funded mission to the moon Thursday night.

The company's Falcon 9 rocket took off from Cape Canaveral, Florida. Among other things, it was carrying a spacecraft built by an Israeli nonprofit group called SpaceIL.

The group's mission started out as part of the Google Lunar XPRIZE competition. The race to see which privately funded team could land their spacecraft on the moon first officially ended in 2018 without anyone taking home the $20 million grand prize. But SpaceIL decided to keep working on its spacecraft and send it to the moon anyway.

It will take about seven weeks for SpaceIL's craft to reach the moon. If it successfully lands, Israel will become the fourth country to have reached Earth's nearest neighbor — only behind Russia, the U.S. and China.

Additional reporting from Newsy affiliate CNN.

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