Erik Eckholm, New York Times: Weeks before he leaves office, the governor of Kentucky on Tuesday issued an executive order that immediately granted the right to vote to about 140,000 non-violent felons who have completed their sentences. The order by Gov. Steven L. Beshear, a Democrat, was cheered by advocates for criminal justice reform and civil rights, who said it would place Kentucky's policy more in line with others across the nation and was consistent with a trend toward easing voting restrictions on former inmates. Kentucky had been one of just three states imposing a lifetime voting ban on felons unless they received a special exemption from the governor. Florida and Iowa still carry the lifetime ban. read more
A Chicago police officer has been charged with first-degree murder in the shooting death of 17-year-old Laquan McDonald. Cook County Judge Donald Panarese Jr. said he would not allow Officer Jason Van Dyke to go free on bond until he's seen dashcam video of the shooting. He scheduled another hearing for Van Dyke for Monday and said prosecutors should have the video in court at that time. Prosecutors said Van Dyke shot McDonald 16 times in 15 seconds on Oct. 20, 2014. Van Dyke, a 14-year veteran of the force, was one of eight officers responding to calls of a suspected thief armed with a knife. McDonald was carrying a three-inch blade, and was walking away from Van Dyke when the officer opened fire, according to prosecutors. No other officers saw a need to use force that night, prosecutors said.
Liquid water runs down canyons and crater walls over the summer months on Mars, NASA announced today. "There is liquid water today on the surface of Mars," Michael Meyer, the lead scientist on NASA's Mars exploration program, said. "Because of this, we suspect that it is at least possible to have a habitable environment today." "Mars is not the dry, arid planet that we thought of in the past," said NASA's Jim Green. 'Liquid water has been found on Mars." read more
Ian Sample, The Guardian: Liquid water runs down canyons and crater walls over the summer months on Mars, according to researchers who say the discovery raises the chances of being home to some form of life.
The trickles leave long, dark stains on the Martian terrain that can reach hundreds of metres downhill in the warmer months, before they dry up in the autumn as surface temperatures drop.
Images taken from the Mars orbit show cliffs, and the steep walls of valleys and craters, streaked with summertime flows that in the most active spots combine to form intricate fan-like patterns.
Scientists are unsure where the water comes from, but it may rise up from underground ice or salty aquifers, or condense out of the thin Martian atmosphere.