A Democrat who sits on the U.S. Federal Election Commission (FEC) is planning to resign before her term expires amid frustrations about partisan gridlock, the New York Times reported on Sunday. FEC Commissioner Ann Ravel told the Times in an interview she intended to submit her letter of resignation this week, a move that would open the door for President Donald Trump to make his own appointment to the panel. “The ability of the commission to perform its role has deteriorated significantly,” Ravel told the newspaper.
By Julia Edwards Ainsley WASHINGTON (Reuters) - The Department of Homeland Security has prepared new guidance for immigration agents aimed at speeding up deportations by denying asylum claims earlier in the process. The new guidelines, contained in a draft memo dated February 17 but not yet sent to field offices, directs agents to only pass applicants who have a good chance of ultimately getting asylum, but does not give specific criteria for establishing credible fear of persecution if sent home. The guidance instructs asylum officers to "elicit all relevant information" in determining whether an applicant has "credible fear" of persecution if returned home, the first obstacle faced by migrants on the U.S.-Mexico border requesting asylum.
A SpaceX Falcon rocket blasted off on Sunday from a Florida launch pad once used to send NASA astronauts to the moon, a step forward for billionaire entrepreneur Elon Musk and his company's goal of ferrying astronauts to the International Space Station. The 229-foot tall (70-meter) Falcon 9 soared off a seaside launch pad at the Kennedy Space Center at 9:39 a.m. EST (1439 GMT) carrying a Dragon cargo ship that holds supplies and science experiments for the station. Nine minutes after blastoff, the main section of the rocket flew back to a landing pad at nearby Cape Canaveral Air Force Station, the eighth successful touchdown for Space Exploration Technologies Corp.
Syrian rebel groups who have participated in peace talks said on Sunday that an upsurge in Syrian army shelling and bombing was wrecking the prospects of maintaining a ceasefire brokered by Russia and Turkey. The rebel groups, mostly backed by Turkey, have attended two rounds of talks in the Kazakh capital Astana. Mohammad Alloush, the head of the Astana talks delegation, said the rebel groups who signed a shaky ceasefire deal late last year that was meant to end bombing of civilians were ready to go back to "all out war".
Under the new guidelines, outlined in a pair of memos, the agency plans to hire thousands of additional enforcement agents, expand the pool of immigrants who are prioritized for removal, enlist local law enforcement to help make arrests, and speed up deportation hearings – directives that would replace nearly all guidelines put in place by previous administrations. Since taking office in January, President Trump has come under fire for what immigrant rights advocates have denounced as unprecedented action against undocumented people in the United States.
Ecuador voted Sunday in general elections that could see a pillar of the Latin American left swing to the right -- and potentially deprive WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange of his place of refuge in London. President Rafael Correa, who is not running, expressed confidence that his party's candidate, Lenin Moreno, would win in the first round. The polls clearly say the contrary," he said after casting his ballot at an elementary school in Quito.
Elon Musk isn't the only person who wants to build a city on Mars. Now the United Arab Emirates has announced that it wants to establish a "mini-city" on the red planet by 2117. UAE prime minister Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum explained the monarchy's Mars plans in a series of tweets on Feb. 14. SEE ALSO: Dubai is bringing the world its first rotating skyscraper "The project, to be named 'Mars 2117,' integrates a vision to create a mini-city and community on Mars involving international cooperation," Sheikh Mohammed said. "Mars 2117" is a seed we are sowing today to reap the fruit of new generations led by a passion for science and advancing human knowledge. pic.twitter.com/IExtnpiO2B — HH Sheikh Mohammed (@HHShkMohd) February 14, 2017 "Mars 2117 includes a major space sciences focus in our universities. We're building a space pioneering passion among our young people." It makes sense for officials to use this project to inspire young people: They're the ones who will probably do the vast majority of the work. If the UAE wants to have a fully-functioning city on Mars in 100 years, it will have to be a multi-generational effort that will span many decades, given the incipient state of the nation's space program and current global capabilities as well. The "Mars 2117" project will develop an Emirati and international team of scientists to push the human exploration of Mars in years to come. pic.twitter.com/5ujxvyC8As — HH Sheikh Mohammed (@HHShkMohd) February 14, 2017 In the time between now and 2117, the UAE, with an international partnership of researchers, will start trying to find a faster mode of transportation to the red planet, and figure out what food and shelter should be on the cold, dry world. "'Mars 2117' is a seed we are sowing today to reap the fruit of new generations led by a passion for science and advancing human knowledge," Sheikh Mohammed said. The UAE has already put the world on notice that the oil-rich nation has aspirations beyond our home planet, having previously announced its plan to send a robotic mission to Mars in 2015. That uncrewed spacecraft, called Hope, would fly to the red planet in 2020 and make it into orbit there in 2021. The project, to be named "Mars 2117", integrates a vision to create a mini-city and community on Mars involving international cooperation. pic.twitter.com/v27jA3K3pS — HH Sheikh Mohammed (@HHShkMohd) February 14, 2017 Musk's SpaceX is also working toward creating a city on Mars, though the commercial space company's timeline isn't exactly clear. Musk claims that SpaceX is working toward sending its first people to Mars by 2024, about a decade before NASA is expected to send their first crewed mission to the vicinity of Mars. That said, the company's plans are still a bit murky when it comes to the timeline for actually creating its city, aiming for sometime in the 2060s. Musk thinks there will be plenty of people who want to leave Earth behind. We aspire in the coming century to develop science, technology and our youth's passion for knowledge. This project is driven by that vision. pic.twitter.com/4QibJjtiM2 — HH Sheikh Mohammed (@HHShkMohd) February 14, 2017 "Not everyone will want to go. In fact, I think a relatively small number of people from Earth would want to go, but enough would want to go and who could afford the trip that it would happen," Musk said during a speech in September 2016. Neither SpaceX nor the UAE can get to Mars alone, however. Both need to have international and private partners that will help make a city on Mars a reality within their timeframes. It's unclear if the monarchy and the private company will team up on their Mars ambitions, but Musk did say that he's open to public and private partnerships for the mission. BONUS: Obama plans to send humans to Mars by 2030s
Critics on both sides of the aisle are blasting President Trump’s assertion that the media is “the enemy of the American people” — and comparing his escalated attack on the press to that of a dictator. “That’s how dictators get started,” Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz., said in an interview that aired on NBC’s “Meet the Press” on Sunday. McCain stopped short of calling Trump one.
By Erik Kirschbaum BERLIN (Reuters) - German Finance Minister Wolfgang Schaeuble denied on Sunday that he had said Greece would have to leave the euro zone if it failed to implement economic reforms. Schaeuble said in an ARD television interview that Greece would not have problems if it implemented agreed reforms, but would if it fails to carry these out. "I never made any ('Grexit') threats," Schaeuble told ARD's Bericht aus Berlin program just before the network played recent comments in which he said Greece was "not yet over the hill" and the "pressure needed to stay on" Greece or it "couldn't stay in the currency union".
By Shadia Nasralla and Andreas Rinke MUNICH (Reuters) - Libyan Prime Minister Fayez Seraj of the U.N.-backed government in Tripoli said on Sunday he would like Russia to help overcome deadlock in the country, which is struggling with divisions among militias and an Islamist militant threat. In an interview with Reuters, Seraj expressed hope that Moscow might act as an intermediary between him and Khalifa Haftar, a military commander who is supported by factions based in the east of Libya. Seraj's Government of National Accord has been trying to formulate plans for unified Libyan security forces since arriving in Tripoli in March, but has made little progress.