Farthest photos ever taken, from nearly 4 billion miles away

Published: Friday, February 09, 2018 @ 1:13 PM
Updated: Friday, February 09, 2018 @ 1:12 PM


            This December 2017 false-color image made available by NASA in February 2018 shows KBO (Kuiper Belt object) 2012 HZ84. This image is, for now, one of the farthest pictures from Earth ever captured by a spacecraft. It was made by the New Horizons at 3.79 billion miles from Earth. (NASA/Johns Hopkins University Applied Physics Laboratory/Southwest Research Institute via AP)
This December 2017 false-color image made available by NASA in February 2018 shows KBO (Kuiper Belt object) 2012 HZ84. This image is, for now, one of the farthest pictures from Earth ever captured by a spacecraft. It was made by the New Horizons at 3.79 billion miles from Earth. (NASA/Johns Hopkins University Applied Physics Laboratory/Southwest Research Institute via AP)

The NASA spacecraft that gave us close-ups of Pluto has set a record for the farthest photos ever taken.

In December — while 3.79 billion miles (6.12 billion kilometers) from Earth — the New Horizons spacecraft snapped a picture of a star cluster. The photo surpassed the "Pale Blue Dot" images of Earth taken in 1990 by NASA's Voyager 1.

The images for "Pale Blue Dot" — part of a composite — were taken 3.75 billion miles (6.06 billion kilometers) away.

New Horizons took more photos as it sped deeper into the cosmos in December. These pictures show two objects in the Kuiper Belt, the so-called twilight zone on the fringes of our solar system.

NASA released the images this week.

New Horizons flew past Pluto in 2015. It's headed toward an even closer encounter with another icy world, 1 billion miles (1.6 billion kilometers) beyond Pluto, on Jan. 1, 2019. The targeted object is known as 2014 MU69; the spacecraft will pass within 2,175 miles (3,500 kilometers).

"New Horizons just couldn't be better ... we're bearing down on our flyby target," said lead scientist Alan Stern of the Southwest Research Institute in Boulder, Colorado.

New Horizons is currently in electronic hibernation. Flight controllers at a Johns Hopkins University lab in Laurel, Maryland, will awaken the spacecraft in June and start getting it ready for the flyby.

The spacecraft was launched in 2006.

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Trolls on Twitter make false claims of being assaulted at screenings of ‘Black Panther’

Published: Monday, February 19, 2018 @ 4:07 PM

Marvel's "Black Panther" Has Record Breaking Opening Weekend

As Marvel’s latest superhero movie, “Black Panther,” draws praise and rakes in millions of dollars at the box office, Twitter trolls have emerged across the country attempting to stoke racial division by spreading false reports about the film’s largely African American fans.

Over the last few days, users have posted false claims that they were attacked by blacks while going to see “Black Panther,” the first movie from Marvel Studios led by a predominantly black cast.

“It’s very unfortunate that a film that is poised to become a cultural icon is being marred by this fake news,” said Darnell Hunt, dean of social sciences at UCLA. “In the long run, it will not detract from the cultural significance of ‘Black Panther,’ but it does blunt some of the positive force it has as it opens. It is both surprising and not surprising.”

>> Chadwick Boseman says he drove past KKK rallies while filming 'Black Panther'

“Black Panther” is the story of T’Challa, played by actor Chadwick Boseman, who returns home to Wakanda, an isolated, technologically advanced African nation, after his father, the king of Wakanda, dies and T’Challa must take his place as ruler.

The movie, which took in an estimated $192 million over the weekend domestically — making it the highest February film debut ever — has been especially embraced by African Americans and blacks around the world. Many have been turning up at moviehouses in African garb or wearing all black in homage to the film. But the movie has given birth to an unusual movement — whites claiming they have been attacked by blacks while attempting to see the film.

Public information officers for police departments in New York, Los Angeles, Chicago and Houston contacted by The Times said they had received no reports that would match the assault claims appearing online.

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In the tweets, the posters frequently blame “black youth” for the attacks, using images taken from various unrelated sources of bleeding and battered faces or images of blood in sinks and on towels.

“I was so excited to see #BlackPanther and a young black man at the theater shouted ‘you in the wrong place, cracker!’ And proceeded to bloody my face. It hurts so bad I can’t take it!” Twitter user @RobloxZionist wrote.

The image that accompanies the tweet is of actor Jensen Ackles, who plays Dean Winchester on the TV series “Supernatural,” with makeup and fake blood on his face from a fight scene filmed on the show.

A user named @sharkwheat attempted to claim that a photo of a man beaten outside a Dallas nightclub in 2013 was of his brother after being assaulted while seeing “Black Panther.”

“#BlackPanther this is my older brother Kenan. He was jumped just trying to see the movie. ‘This movie ain’t for you whitey’ was the last thing he heard before he was beat up by 2 black men, rupturing his eardrum. He didn’t even make it inside of the movie theater. Smh,” the tweet read.

>> ‘Black Panther’ actor Bambadjan Bamba comes out as undocumented

One user even pulled the image that Colbie Holderness, an ex-wife of former White House staff secretary Rob Porter, shared when she wrote an op-ed in the Washington Post about the abuse she faced from Porter. The user claimed the photo of Holderness was an image of his wife after she was attacked when they went to see “Black Panther.”

Other Twitter users have been quick to call out trolls, noting where their images originally came from.

UCLA’s Hunt, a race, culture and media scholar, noted that the trolls’ posts were somewhat predictable, given the current political climate in the United States.

“We live in very polarized times,” he said. “There have been rumblings on message boards about white superheroes being reimagined as black superheroes. There is clearly concern from those who are worried about the changing demographics of the country.”

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Family who took in Nikolas Cruz: 'We just didn't know'

Published: Monday, February 19, 2018 @ 1:25 PM

WATCH: Suspected Florida High School Shooter Nikolas Cruz Appears In Court

The family that took in suspected school shooter Nikolas Cruz after his adoptive mother died suddenly last year said that, although the 19-year-old was troubled, it was unaware of any red flags to hint beforehand that he planned to carry out last week’s deadly attack.

>> Read more trending news

Cruz opened fire Wednesday on students and staff members at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in what police believe was a preplanned attack, authorities said last week. The shooting left 14 students and three teachers dead. More than a dozen other people were injured.

“We knew he had troubles and a couple of issues, but I’ve raised three boys, and I thought we could help,” James Snead told The New York Times on Sunday. “It’s a very selfish thing he did -- aside from the families he hurt, he hurt the family that tried to help him and give him a chance.”

>> Related: Florida school shooting: What we know about the victims

James Snead and his wife, Kimberly Snead, told the Times that they took in Cruz after their son, who knew Cruz from Marjory Stoneman Douglas High, asked if he could move in with them. Cruz had been staying with a friend of his mother’s after she died Nov. 1 of pneumonia, according to the Times.

“We didn’t know he had such an evil past,” James Snead told the Times. “We just didn’t know.”

>> Related: FBI didn't investigate tip about Nikolas Cruz before deadly school shooting

School records obtained by WPLG showed Cruz had a lengthy disciplinary record beginning in 2012, when he was in middle school. He faced disciplinary action five times while attending Marjory Stoneman Douglas High from January 2016 to February 2017, WPLG reported.

School administrators in January 2017 recommended a threat assessment be done for Cruz after an alleged assault, according to WPLG. Details on that incident were not immediately available, although James Snead told the Times that Cruz had to leave school because of fighting.

>> Related: Classmate of Nikolas Cruz says ‘No one has ever been a friend to him’

The Sneads said Cruz was struggling with depression stemming from his mother’s death but that he appeared to be doing better, according to the Times. The couple had planned to have him see a counselor this week.

They said in an appearance on “Good Morning America” that they saw Cruz at the police station Wednesday when he was brought in after his arrest.

Nikolas Cruz, 19, a former student at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida, where he allegedly killed 17 people, is seen on a closed circuit television screen during a bond hearing in front of Broward Judge Kim Mollica at the Broward County Courthouse on February 15, 2018 in Fort Lauderdale, Florida. Mr. Cruz is possibly facing 17 counts of premeditated murder in the school shooting. (Photo by Susan Stocker - Pool/Getty Images)(Pool/Getty Images)

“I went after him,” Kimberly Snead said. “I wanted to strangle him more than anything.”

She said she yelled, “Really, Nik? Really?” Cruz mumbled something in response.

“He said he was sorry,” Kimberly Snead told “Good Morning America.” “I was furious. Heartbroken. Devastated. I still can’t process it, what he’s done. This wasn’t the person we knew. Not at all.”

>> Related: Florida school shooting: Teacher of the year's emotional Facebook post goes viral

James Snead said the family has gone through “a roller coaster of emotions” since learning of Cruz’s alleged role in Wednesday’s massacre.

"It's still tough. We're still hurting. We're still grieving," he said on “Good Morning America.” "Everything everybody seems to know, we didn't know.”

FBI officials said they investigated a comment made last year on YouTube by a user who was going by the name “Nikolas Cruz.”

“The comment simply said, ‘I’m going to be a professional school shooter,’” Rob Lasky, the FBI special agent in charge of the agency’s Miami division, said Thursday. Authorities were unable to verify the identity of the poster.

FBI officials also admitted last week that the agency failed to properly forward a tip about Cruz wanting to kill people to agents in Miami, prompting Gov. Rick Scott to call for the resignation of FBI Director Christopher Wray. The FBI is investigating the incident.

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Building at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School to be torn down

Published: Monday, February 19, 2018 @ 1:55 PM

Shooter Reportedly In Custody In Florida High School Shooting

Students at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School won’t return to the building where Nikolas Cruz is accused of shooting into classrooms, killing 17 people on Valentine’s Day, according to a reporter for CBS4 News in Miami. 

>> Read more trending news

The building, which is one of several on the campus, will be torn down and replaced with a memorial, assuming the school district receives funding from state lawmakers, reporter Jim DeFede said in a series of tweets Friday afternoon. 

Roughly 900 students attended class in the building, and the school is already at capacity, according to the report.

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Petition seeks military burial for Parkland JROTC cadet who died saving fellow students

Published: Monday, February 19, 2018 @ 2:33 PM

Petition Seeks Military Burial For Parkland JROTC Cadet

Peter Wang died proudly wearing his gray JROTC uniform, holding open doors so several of his classmates could escape the gunfire at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School last week. 

Though those classmates made it, Peter did not. And now, a White House petition has been established seeking full military honors at the burial of the 15-year-old freshman who was among 17 people killed in the Valentine’s Day school shooting.

As of Monday morning, the petition had reached just over 23,000 signatures. A petition must reach 100,000 signatures to get a response from the White House. 

The petition states that Peter was last seen, in uniform, holding doors open so that other students, teachers and staff members could escape.

“His selfless and heroic actions have led to the survival of dozens in the area,” the petition states. “Wang died a hero, and deserves to be treated as such, and deserves a full honors military burial.”

Friends of the teen said they want people to know how selfless he was, according to WPLG News 10 in Pembroke Park

“I want people to know that he died a hero; that he died saving many people,” friend and classmate Aiden Ortiz told the news station

His selflessness extended into his everyday actions, classmate Rachel Kuperman said. She recalled the last time she saw Peter, the day before he was slain. 

“I forgot my lunch that day, and he went to the vending machine with me and he bought me Sprite and candy and snacks,” Rachel said. “He put others before himself.”

Fox News reported that it would take government intervention for Peter to receive a military funeral, since JROTC does not provide basic training and thus does not count as military service. JROTC, or the Junior Reserve Officer Training Corps, is a federal program for middle and high school students that focuses on citizenship, service to the community and country and personal achievement.  

Peter was not the only JROTC cadet credited with springing into action that day. Colton Haab, a junior at Stoneman Douglas, heard gunshots and ushered several dozen people into the JROTC room.

>> Read more trending news

There, he and other cadets grabbed Kevlar sheets used for marksmanship practice and held them up in front of the students huddled together.

“We took those sheets and we put them in front of everybody so they weren’t seen, because they were behind a solid object and the Kevlar would slow the bullet down,” Colton told CNN the day after the shooting. “I didn’t think it was going to stop it, but it would definitely slow it down to make it from a catastrophic to a lifesaving thing.”

Peter’s cousin, Aaron Chen, described him to the Miami Herald as brave, while Peter’s best friend, Gabriel Ammirata, said he was “funny, nice and a great friend.”

“He’s been my best friend since third grade,” Gabriel told the Herald

Gabriel planned to celebrate Chinese New Year with Peter the day after the shooting at the Chinese restaurant Peter’s family owns, the Herald reported. Instead, he and members of Peter’s family started the new day frantically searching for information on Peter’s whereabouts. 

The teen’s parents speak Mandarin and very little English. 

Jesse Pan, a neighbor of Peter’s, has been sharing information about him and his funeral arrangements on social media. Peter’s family has a funeral planned for Tuesday at Kraeer Funeral Home, in Coral Springs.

An obituary on the funeral home’s website reiterates Peter’s ultimate sacrifice in the face of danger.

“He loved being in the JROTC and planned on attending (the) United States Military Academy at West Point,” the obituary read

Peter loved the Houston Rockets, hip-hop music, playing basketball and spending time with friends. He also aspired to become a world-renowned chef. 

He is survived by his parents and two younger brothers.

GoFundMe page created to help his family with expenses exceeded its $15,000 goal in just three days. 

Originally, proceeds (were) going to the help with misc. expenses, but the family has decided that they want to donate the money to Stoneman Douglas for their ROTC program,” the page creator, Chino Leong, wrote. “They want to ensure that future generations of kids are taught the same values that the program has instilled in Peter.”

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