Star Trek Actress Nichelle Nichols to Fly on NASA Mission

Nichelle Nichols nasa flight
Gustavo Caballero—Getty Images Nichelle Nichols attends Florida Supercon at the Miami Beach Convention Center on July 4, 2014 in Miami Beach.

She's be flying on the Stratospheric Observatory for Infrared Astronomy

It’s been 49 years since Nichelle Nichols took on the role of Lt. Uhura on the original Star Trekseries, but her relationship with space exploration is continuing.

The actress, 82, revealed on Friday during a Reddit AMA that she will be a passenger on an upcoming flight of NASA’s Stratospheric Observatory for Infrared Astronomy (SOFIA), an aircraft equipped with a powerful telescope used to study the planet’s atmosphere, investigate comets and more. The flight takes off on Sept. 15.

Nichols – who has recovered from a minor stroke she suffered in June – clarified on Reddit that no, she won’t actually be heading into the final frontier, however.

“SOFIA does not, sadly, fly into space,” she said. “It’s an airborne observatory, a massive telescope mounted inside a 747 flying as high as is possible. I was on a similar flight, the first airborne observatory, back in 1977. It’s an amazing experience, you get a totally different perspective than from Earth. I do hope someone gets some great pictures.”

This article originally appeared on People.com


Mormons To Shed Light on Church’s Origins in Document Release

To match Special Report MORMONCHURCH/
Jim Urquhart—Reuters The LDS Church's Mormon Temple in downtown Salt Lake City, Utah, on Jan. 27, 2012.

The volume being released is a printer's manuscript of the Book of Mormon

SALT LAKE CITY — The Mormon church is taking another step in its push to be more transparent, and is releasing more historical documents that shed light on how Joseph Smith formed the religion.

The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints says the volume being released at a news conference Tuesday in Salt Lake City is a printer’s manuscript of the Book of Mormon.

Mormons believe that 185 years ago, God helped Smith translate a story that was written in ancient Egyptian and engraved on gold plates. It became known as the Book of Mormon.

The religion counts 15 million followers worldwide after experiencing a tripling of membership in the past three decades. Some outsiders have criticized it as being secretive about its practices and beliefs.

This is the church’s latest step toward making available documents or clarifying some of the more sensitive parts of its doctrine or history.

TIME Sports

Why Officials are Puzzled by the Deaths of Yosemite Jumpers

Cedar Wright Dean Potter practicing the art of slacklining in Yosemite Valley

Dean Potter and Graham Hunt were killed on May 16 when they slammed into the ridgeline at 100 mph

FRESNO, Calif. — World-famous wingsuit flier Dean Potter had strapped his iPhone to the back of his head and hit record before jumping from a cliff in Yosemite National Park in what was to be an exhilarating flight through a V-shaped rocky formation — a route that left little margin for error.

Potter set the phone at this position to capture a video of his partner, Graham Hunt, behind and above him as the pair leaped off the granite diving board at Taft Point, 3,500 feet above the valley.

Twenty-two seconds later the video abruptly stops. The two were killed when they slammed into the ridgeline at 100 mph-plus attempting to soar through the notch in the rock formation called Lost Brother.

Through a records request, The Associated Press obtained investigation reports about the deadly flight on May 16. National Park Service investigators relied heavily on Potter’s bashed iPhone, interviews and a series of rapid-fire photos taken by Potter’s girlfriend, Jen Rapp, who stayed behind at the launch site as the spotter.

The investigation concluded the deaths were accidental, but despite the video and photos of the jump, officials consider the specific reason why they died a mystery. Investigators listed several possible contributing factors — including indecision, distraction, miscalculation and air turbulence — as the jumpers made split-second decisions.

Potter, 43, and Hunt, 29, were both experienced in the extreme sport of wingsuit flying, a dangerous offshoot of BASE jumping — an acronym for parachuting off buildings, antennas, spans such as bridges and Earth. They would glide frighteningly close to cliffs and trees, wearing the suits that have fabric stitched between the arms and body and between the legs, so jumpers spreading their limbs can stay aloft longer and control their path with subtle body movements.

In 2009, Potter made the longest known BASE jump — off the Eiger North Face in Switzerland. He remained in flight for 2 minutes and 50 seconds, earning him National Geographic’s Adventurer of the Year title.

In his final flight, Potter stood with Hunt on the ledge in Yosemite. It was still light at 7:35 p.m. with hovering rainclouds, according to the investigation. Potter wore a red suit, while Hunt’s was black and yellow. Hunt zipped his phone in his pocket, after trying unsuccessfully to text his girlfriend, who was waiting in the valley. Potter’s iPhone video recording captured what sounded like him saying “Ready?”

Potter told Rapp that he planned to fly through the notch. If he lacked elevation, he would instead go around the ridgeline. Rapp snapped photos of Potter making the leap, followed closely by Hunt.

Seconds into flight, Rapp lost sight of them. Instead, she told investigators that she heard a “thwack” followed a second later by a “guuuuhhh.” She shouted in their direction, hoping the noises were parachutes opening, not impacts of bodies. She didn’t received the text Potter usually sent with the word “safe” to assure her that he had once again beaten the odds.

Dusk turned to darkness and desperation. Rapp drove to their agreed upon meeting place. Not finding the jumpers, she returned to Potter’s nearby home, where she found Hunt’s girlfriend.

“Are they OK? Have you talked to them?” Hunt’s girlfriend asked. Rapp said she hadn’t.

The two women at 10 p.m. went to the residence of Mike Gauthier, Yosemite’s chief of staff and a friend of Potter. Gauthier urged the women to report the men missing and they made an emergency phone call. A dispatcher reported a woman calling, asking if any BASE jumpers had been arrested. Upon hearing a “no,” the caller broke down crying.

A ground search that night turned up nothing, but a helicopter crew the next morning found their bodies.

Autopsies found that Potter had struck headfirst and that Hunt hit with the front of his body. Blood samples showed no drugs or alcohol for either man.

Investigators say Rapp’s still photos show Hunt flying left, then right, then left and a final hard banking right before his impact. After Potter’s iPhone was repaired, the video shows him a foot or two above the ground just before the video stopped. Park officials did not provide the video to the AP, saying it was in possession of Potter’s family. Rapp declined an AP request for the photographs that she took.

An unnamed wingsuit flier investigators consulted estimated that Potter and Hunt had flown through the notch about five times, a path well known among wingsuit fliers as being dangerous.

The flier inspected both wingsuits for the park service and found no equipment flaws, the investigative reports said.

Among other things, they noted that Hunt may have been distracted by phone calls and texts he attempted immediately before jumping and that Potter may have seen his partner strike the ground and flinched, or he simply misjudged his elevation.

“No one but Potter and Hunt will every truly know what happened,” investigators concluded.

TIME Congress

Watch Elizabeth Warren’s Speech in Defense of Planned Parenthood

She was speaking before Monday's vote on a defunding proposal

Senator Elizabeth Warren has criticized members of Congress who want to defund Planned Parenthood.

“Do you have any idea what year it is?” Warren asked, speaking before Monday’s Senate vote on the defunding bill. “Did you fall down, hit your head and think you woke up in the 1950s or the 1890s? Should we call for a doctor?”

Warren was speaking after covertly recorded videos released by the Center for Medical Progress showed Planned Parenthood officials discussing the costs associated with fetal-tissue extraction. That footage, roundly criticized by both parties, set off a political firestorm, with Republicans alleging that the conversations proved that staffers were selling baby body parts for profit.

Senator Joni Ernst introduced a bill involving the sweeping defunding of the organization, in a bid to hit back against what, in a recent TIME op-ed, Ernst and Senators Rand Paul and James Lankford called “callous actions that strike at the moral fabric of our society.”

In response, Planned Parenthood has maintained that the videos were taken out of context and alleges that they were edited.

The Senate later voted down the bill, but the issue is expected to resurface as Congress attempts to pass spending bills later in the year.

TIME Aviation

If You Shoot Big Game in Africa, Neither Delta Nor United Will Ship Parts of It Home for You

Zimbabwe Lion Killed cecil
Andy Loveridge—AP In this undated photo provided by the Wildlife Conservation Research Unit, Cecil the lion rests in Hwange National Park, in Hwange, Zimbabwe.

The ban is on all lion, leopard, elephant, rhinoceros and buffalo "trophies"

The international indignation ignited by the death of Cecil the lion in Zimbabwe last month is persuading some airlines to consider their policy on the shipment of big-game carcasses and body parts (known in hunting parlance as “trophies”).

On Monday, Delta and United Airlines, the two carriers that offer nonstop service from the U.S. to Africa, announced that they would no longer allow such shipments.

Delta — which can get you to Lagos, Accra, Dakar and Johannesburg from Atlanta or New York — has been the subject of a major online campaign. It capitulated Monday, issuing a statement saying it would “officially ban shipment of all lion, leopard, elephant, rhinoceros and buffalo trophies worldwide as freight.”

United followed suit, telling NBC News that it too would enact a ban.

United noted that it “hasn’t had many big-game shipments” — a statement that TIME cannot independently confirm, though the New York Times reports that the lion’s share of non-African hunters on the continent come from the U.S. Fifteen thousand Americans go on African hunting holidays each year, and “the vast majority want to take trophies of their kills home,” conservationists told Reuters in June.

South African Airways, British Airways, Lufthansa and Emirates have all stopped freighting such trophies.

TIME California

Cooler Weather Helps Crews Battling California Wildfires

APTOPIX California Wildfires
Jeff Chiu—AP Firefighters spray a hose at a fire along Morgan Valley Road near Lower Lake, Calif., on July 31, 2015

At least two dozen homes were destroyed

(LOWER LAKE, Calif.) — Cooler weather helped crews build a buffer Monday between a raging Northern California wildfire and some of the thousands of homes it threatened as it tore through drought-withered brush that hadn’t burned in years.

At least two dozen homes were destroyed over the past few days, and more than 13,000 people were urged to flee.

The fire — the largest blaze in drought-stricken California — roughly tripled in size over the weekend to 93 square miles, generating its own winds that fanned the flames and reduced thousands of acres of manzanita shrubs and other brush to barren land in hours.

“There’s a lot of old growth-type vegetation and four years of drought to dry it all out,” said Lynne Tolmachoff, a spokeswoman for the California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection. “It was ready to go.”

The fire was burning in the Lower Lake area, about 100 miles north of San Francisco and 10 miles from Clear Lake, the largest freshwater lake entirely within California and a popular spot for boaters and campers. Fire officials said no homes around the lake were threatened.

Evacuated residents were amazed at how quickly the flames spread.

“I’m overwhelmed,” Donna McDonald, of Clear Lake, said at a high school that had been turned into a shelter. “I was very happy at one point when I saw no smoke at all. Then all of a sudden it just flared up real big again.”

Layna Rivas, of Clearlake Oaks, evacuated her home over the weekend and wanted to get back to feed her chickens.

“You have to have that let go feeling and know everything is going to be OK,” she said. “My place is going to be safe, my animals are going to be safe.”

Lower temperatures and higher humidity Monday allowed firefighters to contain more of the fire, said CalFire Capt. Don Camp.

“We are hoping we only have to deal with winds from the weather instead of the fire creating its own winds,” he said.

Numerous other wildfires in California, Washington state and Oregon took off as the effects of drought and summer heat turned the West Coast combustible. California blazes killed a firefighter last week and injured four others.

Crews in the Lower Lake area conducted controlled burns, setting fire to shrubs to rob the blaze of fuel and protect some of 5,500 homes threatened. The fire was burning in a rural area of grasslands and steep hills.

The fire destroyed at least 24 homes and 26 outbuildings. More than 13,000 people have been forced from their homes or have been warned to leave.

More fire crews were brought in, bringing the number of firefighters to nearly 3,000. Two more National Guard air tankers were being brought in from Colorado to drop retardant, Tolmachoff said.

Crews battled 20 other wildfires in California — some sparked by lightning — though none as big as the Lower Lake blaze. Mandatory evacuations were also in place farther north in a remote rural area of the Shasta-Trinity National Forest.

The Lower Lake fire is well short of historic proportions. One of the largest wildfires in California history was a 2013 blaze that took out 400 square miles of Sierra Nevada wilderness.


Daley reported from Middletown, Calif. Associated Press writers Sudhin Thanawala and Olga Rodriguez in San Francisco and Yara Bishara in Phoenix contributed to this report.

TIME new hampshire

Two Killed When Circus Tent Collapses in New Hampshire

LANCASTER, N.H. (AP) — Authorities say a circus tent collapsed when a severe storm raked a New Hampshire fairground, killing two people and injuring 15 others.

WMUR-TV reported that state Department of Safety spokesman Michael Todd confirmed the fatalities.

The accident happened Monday evening at the Lancaster fairgrounds, about 90 miles north of the state capital in Concord. Florida-based Walker International Events was scheduled to do two shows Monday before moving on to Vermont on Tuesday. The company did not immediately return a call seeking comment Monday night.

State police say it’s unclear exactly how many people were hurt but up to 250 people were in the tent when it collapsed.

Gov. Maggie Hassan said state officials are monitoring the situation.

The National Weather Service had issued a severe thunderstorm watch for the area during the time of the collapse.

The collapse comes a day after one man died and more than a dozen were injured when a tent where people had sought shelter during a brief storm blew off its moorings and fell on some of the crowd at a festival in a Chicago suburb. The annual celebration known as the Prairie Fest had attracted about 5,000 people when the tent collapsed.

The popular Lollapalooza music festival in Chicago’s Grant Park briefly shut down Sunday afternoon due to the weather, then resumed less than an hour later. Organizers ended the final day of the festival 30 minutes early Sunday night when another storm hit the area.

TIME Environment

Obama Unveils Plan for Steeper Emissions Cuts

But opponents immediately announced they would sue the government to stop the rules from taking effect

(WASHINGTON) — Calling it a moral obligation, President Barack Obama unveiled the final version of his plan to dramatically cut emissions from U.S. power plants, as he warned anew that climate change will threaten future generations if left unchecked.

Touting the plan at a White House event on Monday, Obama said the unprecedented carbon dioxide limits are the “the single most important step” America has ever taken to fight climate change. He warned that because the problem is so large, if the world doesn’t get it right quickly, it may become impossible to reverse, leaving populations unable to adapt.

“There is such a thing as being too late when it comes to climate change,” Obama said.

Opponents immediately announced they would sue the government to stop the rules from taking effect. West Virginia Attorney General Patrick Morrisey, speaking at a summit of Republican state attorneys general, said West Virginia would be among a group of states “launching an aggressive legal campaign.”

“They’re legal foundation is very, very shaky,” Morrisey said of the Obama administration. “We are confident that we will prevail.”

The final version of Obama’s plan imposes stricter carbon dioxide limits on states than was previously expected: a 32 percent cut by 2030, compared with 2005 levels, the White House said. Obama’s proposed version last year called only for a 30 percent cut.

It also gives states an additional two years — until 2022 — to comply, yielding to complaints that the original deadline was too soon. States will also have an additional year to submit their implementation plans to Washington.

Obama was joined in the East Room by Environmental Protection Agency Administrator Gina McCarthy and by parents of asthma patients. The Obama administration has sought to draw a connection between climate change and increased respiratory illness in vulnerable populations.

“This is an especially wicked-cool moment,” said McCarthy, wielding a colloquialism from her hometown of Boston.

As they prepared to sue the government, states and energy companies asked the EPA to put the rules on hold while legal challenges play out — a notion that White House press secretary Josh Earnest dismissed. In the absence of a voluntary delay, opponents planned to ask the courts to issue a stay.

Many Republican-led states have said their states simply won’t comply. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, who has encouraged GOP governors to take that step, vowed to use legislation to thwart the president’s plan.

The pollution controls form the core of Obama’s ambitious and controversial plan to drastically reduce overall U.S. emissions, as he works to secure a legacy on fighting global warming. Yet it will be up to Obama’s successor to implement his plan, which has attracted strong opposition from the field of Republican presidential candidates.

Power plants account for roughly one-third of all U.S. emissions of the heat-trapping gases blamed for global warming, making them the largest single source.

The Obama administration estimated the emissions limits will cost $8.4 billion annually by 2030. The actual price won’t be clear until states decide how they’ll reach their targets. But energy industry advocates said the revision makes Obama’s mandate even more burdensome, costly and difficult to achieve.

Another key change to the initial proposal marks a major shift for Obama on natural gas, which the president has championed as a “bridge fuel” whose growing use can help the U.S. wean itself off dirtier coal power while ramping up renewable energy capacity. The final version aims to keep the share of natural gas in the nation’s power mix at current levels.

TIME Crime

Ferguson Cop Says Dislike of Police Is ‘Not a Race Issue’

St. Louis County Prosecutor's Office undated evidence photo from August 9 Ferguson Police shooting of Michael Brown in Ferguson, Missouri shows officer Darren Wilson
Reuters Officer Darren Wilson is pictured in this undated handout evidence photo

In an interview with the New Yorker, the cop who killed Michael Brown says race did not affect his policing

Darren Wilson, the Ferguson police officer who fatally shot Michael Brown last year, said in an interview published Monday that he does not see race as a factor in day-to-day policing.

“Everyone is so quick to jump on race. It’s not a race issue,” Wilson said in a new profile published by the New Yorker.

Wilson said there are two opposing views about policing: “There are people who feel that police have too much power, and they don’t like it. There are people who feel police don’t have enough power, and they don’t like it.”

In March, the Ferguson Police Department received a scathing review from the Justice Department showing police regularly targeted black residents, fining and arresting them disproportionately. A separate Justice Department report cleared Wilson of any civil rights violations in his confrontation with Brown.

Wilson, who is currently living near St. Louis, told the New Yorker he experienced “culture shock” as a white officer in the mostly black counties around the city where he began his police career. “They’re so wrapped up in a different culture than—what I’m trying to say is, the right culture, the better one to pick from,” Wilson said.

When asked to clarify what he meant by “culture,” which the New Yorker noted could sound racially charged, the the former officer said he was referring to a “pre-gang culture” focussed on instant gratification, and that this mentality “is the same younger culture that is everywhere in the inner cities.”

Read the full New Yorker interview here.

TIME Crime

U.S. Police Chiefs Meet to Address Rising Homicide Rates

Police Chief Cathy Lanier
Win McNamee—Getty Images Chief of the Metropolitan Police Department Cathy Lanier speaks at a press conference at police headquarters in Washington, DC., May 21, 2015

Some cities have seen the number of murders so far in 2015 increase by more than 50 percent over last year

Police chiefs from around the U.S. met in Washington, D.C., on Monday to discuss the nation’s spike in homicides.

“The goal of the summit is to identify potential gaps and propose solutions that will help us stop this escalating violence,” Washington Metropolitan Police Chief Cathy Lanier, who organized this meeting of the Major Cities Chiefs Association, said in a statement.

Some cities, including Baltimore, Houston, and Milwaukee, have seen the number of murders on record in 2015 rise by at least 50% over the past year, Fox reports. Gun violence is so rampant in Milwaukee, police say, that an estimated 80% of gun shots recorded by police sensors do not result in a 911 call. Chicago has also seen 243 homicides in 2015, a 20% increase from last year.

“In the major cities, of course, you have a lot of issues with drugs and gangs and violence,” Richard Beary, the president of the International Association of Chiefs of Police, told Fox. “And then throw in the mental health, and throw in the availability of guns, and here we are.”


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