Suspect Arrested in Fires at Black Churches in Louisiana

BATON ROUGE, La. — A suspect has been arrested in the burnings of three historically black churches in one south Louisiana parish in the last month, a federal prosecutor said Wednesday night. David C. Joseph, the United States attorney for the Western District of Louisiana, confirmed in a statement that a suspect was in custody. […]

A Few More Black Students Are Offered Spots at Stuyvesant, Fanning Fresh Uproar

[What you need to know to start the day: Get New York Today in your inbox.] The news last month that only seven black students were offered seats at Stuyvesant High School, New York City’s most selective public high school, incited a national uproar about merit, race and class in education. This week, officials said […]

Failed Texas Bill Would Have Made Death Penalty Possible in Abortion Cases

A bill considered by members of the Texas House of Representatives this week would have criminalized abortions and opened up the possibility for women and physicians to receive the death penalty. On Wednesday night, the legislation appeared to have no chance of progressing after the Republican chairman of the committee that heard testimony about the […]

Israeli firm prepares to land on the Moon, as Falcon Heavy prepares to lift its first cargo

This is a big week for activity in space. On Wednesday morning, the first image of a black hole was released by an international team. Meanwhile, 55 million light years closer to home, a tiny probe is poised to make Israel the fourth nation to land on the Moon and the powerful SpaceX Falcon Heavy rocket is about to launch its first non-red-roadster payload.

If all goes well, SpaceX is up first. Launch is set for 8 PM ET on Wednesday night from historic pad 39-A at Kennedy Space Center. Compared to a red Tesla roadster and a space-suited manikin, what FH is carrying this time around seems much more prosaic: a large communications satellite called ArabSat 6. But there’s a lot more to this mission than getting better communications to the Middle East. 

In the 14 months since the first Falcon Heavy flight, SpaceX’s big rocket has taken on a new importance. Delays in NASA’s Space Launch System (SLS) have left NASA with a crew-capable Orion capsule that’s ready to go and a timeline for Moon missions that’s already running late. In a pair of recent press conferences, NASA administrator Jim Bridenstine suggested that Falcon Heavy might be used in place of SLS to launch Orion on an un-crewed mission around the Moon next year and might even become the rocket behind returning humans to the lunar surface by 2024.

For any of that to happen, this launch has to go perfectly for SpaceX. Yes, this is the deployment of a communications satellite, but it is also an onstage audition for being the new moon rocket for NASA. That’s a lot of pressure on this mission. Also, this is the first Falcon Heavy to be built using the new “Block 5” version of the Falcon boosters. SpaceX will be trying to recover all three of the booster components, including another side-by-side landing back at Kennedy for the two side boosters. So the flight should be both a nail-biter and provide some heart-stopping moments.

Then on Thursday, a quarter of a million miles away, SpaceIL’s Beresheet Lunar Lander is set to make its move on the Moon.

Pompeo Is Warned Against Sidestepping Congress for Conflict With Iran

WASHINGTON — Secretary of State Mike Pompeo left open the possibility on Wednesday of entering a conflict with Iran without first seeking explicit congressional approval, telling senators “there is no doubt there is a connection” between Al Qaeda and Iran. His comments came two days after the Trump administration designated Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps […]

Retiring as a Judge, Trump’s Sister Ends Court Inquiry Into Her Role in Tax Dodges

President Trump’s older sister, Maryanne Trump Barry, has retired as a federal appellate judge, ending an investigation into whether she violated judicial conduct rules by participating in fraudulent tax schemes with her siblings. The court inquiry stemmed from complaints filed last October, after an investigation by The New York Times found that the Trumps had […]

How a small border town in Arizona grouped together to give border vigilantes the boot

Residents of a small border town banded together to de-platform the leader of a border vigilante group and other hostile actors from their midst. Mother Jones reports on the townspeople of Arivaca, Arizona, who grouped together to take on Veterans on Patrol, a border vigilante group led by non-veteran Michael Meyer. 

The group’s presence brought up painful memories for the townspeople: Arivaca was the site of the brutal murders of two residents, including nine-year-old Brisenia Flores, by violent border vigilantes a decade ago. “The whole town has those emotional scars,” said resident Alan Wallen. He said his daughter knew Brisenia.

So when Meyer and others began taking it upon themselves to “patrol” the area—“these people come to town and they’re threatening,” said Megan Davern, a bartender who kicked Meyer and his volunteers out of her bar and then banned them from returning—Arivaca grouped together to hold a town meeting and figure out what to do:

It was held on September 9, and about 60 people came. Terry Sayles, the retired teacher from Green Valley, was there. He suggested that the town report Veterans on Patrol’s page to Facebook. The residents set up a phone tree in case they needed to quickly rally aid—local law enforcement is at least an hour away.

The townspeople succeeded in getting the group’s page shut down, “stripping Meyer of his audience.” Bryan Melchior, a gun enthusiastic who led a group dedicated to harassing survivors of the Parkland shootings before becoming allied with Meyer, cried that “Arivaca is the most unwelcoming town I’ve ever been to in my life.” Both are now in legal trouble. While townspeople say that they aren’t completely rid of these types, “there’s a lot less fear going around, which is great.” 

Ex-Obama Counsel Expects to Be Charged Soon in Mueller-Related Case

WASHINGTON — Lawyers for Gregory B. Craig, a White House counsel in the Obama administration, expect him to be indicted in the coming days on charges related to his work for the Russia-aligned government of Ukraine. The case against Mr. Craig, 74, stemmed from an investigation initiated by the office of the special counsel, Robert […]

European Union Extends Brexit Deadline to Oct. 31

BRUSSELS — With less than 48 hours before Britain’s scheduled departure, the European Union extended the exit deadline early Thursday until the end of October, avoiding a devastating cliff-edge divorce but settling none of the issues that have plunged British politics into chaos, dysfunction and recrimination. On another difficult night for Prime Minister Theresa May […]