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Mars One's mission looks a lot like reality TV

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It plays more like a movie trailer than anything else: This is how Mars One announced the 100 finalists for its 2024 mission to Mars.

Of these 100 people, as many as 40 will ultimately be selected for the privately funded mission, and their bios on the website read something like those of participants in a reality TV show.

There's a reason for that. Mars One wants to make the entire process of the mission, from selecting its astronauts to landing on the red planet, an "on-going global media event" in order to draw in funds for the project.

And the cast of characters it's selected for the final 100 is very, very broad: The group includes representatives from 36 different countries, with ages spanning from 19 to 60 and occupations ranging from stand-up comedy to astrophysics.

A quick look at the final 100 reveals the U.S. provided the most candidates with 33, followed by Australia, with seven; South Africa, with six; and the United Kingdom and Russia tied with five each. 

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The diversity is partly down to the fact Mars One issued an open invitation to anyone in the world who met its base criteria, including this man from Poland, who says he is a Martian. (Video via YouTube / Mikolaj Zielinski)

Of all 100, only four have ever worked with a space program, and all four of those have worked with NASA in some capacity. (Video via RTEManifest Motion PicturesNASAYouTube / oskirrii)

On top of that, seven members of Mars One's 24-member advisory board have worked with NASA in the past.

But NASA as a whole hasn't really gotten involved directly in Mars One's mission, and it seems the agency thinks the project is, at the very least, harmless.

NASA officials said last year that although the agency doesn't really have any regulatory power, it would speak out if it saw a company doing something it saw as risky. (Video via The Royal Institution)

Still, a group of Massachusetts Institute of Technology graduate students put out a paper last October saying the project wasn't only risky, but with current technologies, it would also be deadly. 

The paper found without supplementary oxygen, astronauts would suffocate just 68 days into the mission, but Mars One's plan to counterbalance that using crops to provide both food and oxygen for the colony would create unsafe levels of oxygen within the colony. (Video via Mars One)

Despite this, Mars One's timeline currently has the project beating NASA to Mars by at least 10 years, although that's subject to change. (Video via NASA)

The project originally aimed to reach Mars by 2023, instead of 2024, and not only planned to select its 40 final astronauts by 2013 but also planned to have them in training by 2014.

Must-see photo: Hubble telescope captures space smiley

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Did the Hubble telescope capture a photo of an outer-space smiley face? Well, sort of.

http://twitter.com/washingtonpost/status/564822830706343937

According to a Washington Post blog published Monday, Judy Schmidt spotted this image among Hubble's data and submitted it to Hubble's Hidden Treasures competition. 

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Although the image resembles an eerie extraterrestrial grin, it's just a photo of galaxy cluster SDSS J1038+4849. The "eyes" are two galaxies.

Click here to learn more.

2.12 million vehicles recalled for air bag, seat belt problems

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The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration issued important safety recall information on Saturday.

About 2.12 million vehicles have been recalled. These include the Acura MDX, Dodge Viper, Jeep Liberty, Jeep Grand Cherokee, Honda Odyssey, Pontiac Vibe, and Toyota's Corolla, Avalon and Matrix.

According to a release, the vehicles were subject to recalls in 2012, 2013 and 2014 that resulted from NHTSA investigations to address a problem with an electronic component that might cause airbags or seat belt pretensioners (devices that tighten your seat belt) to deploy when they should not.

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The NHTSA recently determined that a small number of vehicles that had been fixed under those recalls had experienced inadvertent airbag deployments, and the agency urged all three automakers to issue new recalls.

Below is a list of recalled vehicles:      •    2002-2003 Jeep Liberty and 2002-2004 Jeep Grand Cherokees (about 750,000 vehicles);     •    2003-2004 Honda Odyssey and 2003 Acura MDX (about 370,000 vehicles);      •    2003-2004 Pontiac Vibe, Dodge Viper and Toyota Corolla, Toyota Matrix and Toyota Avalon (about 1 million vehicles, not all of which were sold in the United States)

You can check your vehicle’s identification number (VIN) online by clicking here to see if it’s included in the recall. You will also receive a notice in the mail from your vehicle’s manufacturer if it is included in the recall.

Click here to read more from the NHTSA about this recall, including frequently asked questions.

– WDBO in Orlando, Florida, contributed to this report.

Folding table collapse kills boy, 7, at NJ school

The Associated Press contributed to this story.

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A bench from a folding table attached to a wall collapsed at a school during a recreational soccer practice, killing a 7-year-old boy preparing for his season opener, officials said.

Brendan Jordan, a student at Gibbs Elementary School in New Milford, was attending an indoor recreation soccer program at the town's Berkley Street Elementary School on Wednesday night when he came near a fold-down table and benches stored in the wall.

A 108-pound wood and steel bench fell and struck the child in the head, Detective Lt. Frank Ramaci said in a news release. It's not yet known whether the boy touched the table or bench.

Post by CBS New York.

"At this time, there is no evidence of criminality, nor do we know if the bench was properly secured to the wall," Ramaci said.

School Superintendent Michael Polizzi told The Record newspaper that the table folds vertically into the wall and has benches attached to both sides. It is secured with a key. Polizzi said he didn't know if it had been properly locked.

He said the tables have been in "good working condition," and the school has never had a problem with them since they were installed about 11 years ago.

"It's a tremendous loss for all of us, a shock for the family especially," Polizzi said. "I can't imagine the void the family will feel.

School tables have led to students being injured or killed before.

The U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission has warned since the mid-1990s of the potential safety risks of mobile folding tables used in schools across the country, according to spokeswoman Patty Davis. Those tables are different than the ones used in the New Jersey school.

The commission has received reports of several deaths and injuries in schools when the mobile tables tipped over. It warned that most accidents happened during afterschool or nonschool activities and warned schools to not allow children to move the tables or play with them.

Davis said the commission is investigating the New Jersey accident.

John Bigger, the recreation director for New Milford, told The Record that the boy was a member of the borough's indoor soccer team and was with a group of six 7- and 8-year-old children practicing for their Sunday opener. He said practices in the gym were suspended for a few days while it is inspected, and he doesn't know if the team will play Sunday.

Grief counselors were made available at both schools.

Photos: Pictures of Phoebe Jonchuck

Marines jump in to help woman confronted by robbers

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Three U.S. Marine Corps recruiters said they heard repeated honking from inside their office on Tuesday around 5:00 p.m. -- when they ran out to see what was going on.

"We thought there was road rage involved or a fight broke loose," said Sgt. Riccardo Schebesta.

Schebesta and two other recruiters rushed outside and saw a woman yelling for help.

"She said, ‘Help me I’m being robbed.’ I stopped paying attention to her. She's not the problem," said Staff Sgt. Ben Shoemaker.

He immediately saw one of the suspects, and ran to try and catch them.

"No -- that kid was never going to outrun me," Shoemaker added. "Marines run towards the sound of chaos."

Moments earlier, Lynnwood Police said that the woman was confronted by two robbery suspects.

Officers said the woman in her 60's was getting into her pick-up truck in the parking lot of the Alderwood Mall.

Two teenagers then attempted robbing her, and one of them said he had a gun.

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Court documents show that the woman told them that she was a retired police officer.

She reached for her purse and then dropped it on the ground. She pushed one of the suspects and started to chase them in her pick-up truck.

She couldn't get to them, but Shoemaker detained 18-year-old Diego Tavares with a technique called the arm bar.

"An arm bar keeps in on his feet, but keeps him compliant," said Shoemaker.

"As Staff Sgt. Shoemaker detained the first guy, I got on the phone with 911. At the time there were no police officers on the scene," said Staff Sgt. Bryson Twigg.

The other suspect escaped, but Tavares was arrested when police arrived shortly afterwards.

"It’s what we do. From the beginning what we’re taught in boot camp -- it's a part of us," said Schebesta.

Officers found a baseball bat in his pants but did not recover a gun on him or at the scene.

On Wednesday, a Snohomish County judge set his bail at $25,000.

"It's really what I’m trained to do, be it recruiting, be it that -- my job is to protect the United States public," said Shoemaker.

Lynnwood police are still searching for the second suspect.

Dad accused of throwing girl off bridge 'wasn't wired right'

WFTV and The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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In her short life, 5-year-old Phoebe Jonchuck attended kindergarten, bounced from home to home and often witnessed her parents fighting and arguing.

Still, friends and family said, she loved her daddy and told him that often. And by all accounts, John Jonchuck doted on Phoebe.

Their once-strong bond left police wondering why he dropped her — perhaps while she was still alive — over a bridge and into Tampa Bay. The fall was 62 feet, police said.

>> Photos of Phoebe Jonchuck

Phoebe lived with her father, and in the last day of her life, he made comments that frightened his lawyer so much she called authorities and frantically wondered aloud if she should have kept the girl at her office. He called his attorney "God" and asked her to translate a Bible in Swedish.

A short time later, a deputy questioned Jonchuck and found nothing wrong. Phoebe was smiling and happy.

Fast-forward 12 hours, during an unusually cold and windy night along the Gulf Coast, a police officer spotted Jonchuck speeding by in his car early Thursday, then the officer said he witnessed Jonchuck drop Phoebe.

Jonchuck is in custody at the Pinellas County Jail without bond. Phoebe's body was recovered about a mile from the bridge about two hours later. An autopsy and cause of death was pending.

Phoebe's mother, Michelle Kerr, was with Jonchuck for six tumultuous years, and police were called numerous times. Since 2008, Jonchuck has been charged with domestic battery six times, but in every case, the charges were dropped or never pursued.

Kerr had an arrest record consisting of child neglect, petty theft and contributing to the delinquency of a minor, among other charges.

Jonchuck had custody of Phoebe and they lived with Jonchuck's parents in Tampa.

"I always saw him as a good dad," Kerr said. "She would always say, 'I love you daddy.' She loved her dad."

Kerr said she last saw her daughter and Jonchuck on Christmas Eve. They had a nice evening together and then he called child protective services on her and made false abuse allegations, she said.

"He does the Jekyll and Hyde. It's just something that goes on in his head, he just wasn't wired right," she said.

Before her death, Jonchuck and Phoebe had an odd encounter with his attorney. Genevieve Torres told the 911 dispatcher she had asked Jonchuck if he wanted her to file paperwork in his custody case during a meeting Wednesday in Tampa.

"It's not going to matter anymore," she recalled him saying.

"That really scared me," Torres told the dispatcher, her voice trembling. He was "out of his mind."

A sheriff's deputy investigated and Jonchuck told the officer he was happy, didn't want to hurt himself or his little girl and had "new clarity in his life."

The Florida Department of Children and Families said Thursday evening that the agency received a call to the abuse hotline at 2:45 p.m. Wednesday "regarding the mental health of Phoebe's father."

The caller said Jonchuck was "depressed and delusional."

DCF Secretary Mike Carroll said a team is reviewing the agency's involvement with the family, which included at least three prior investigations into the family.

Insects found in rice served at Pa. elementary schools

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A Pennsylvania school district confirmed Monday that students at three elementary schools were served contaminated rice.

Officials at West Allegheny School District said rice weevils, which are tiny, beetle-like insects found in older boxes of rice, were discovered in bags of rice that were cooked and served to students at Donaldson, McKee and Wilson elementary schools Monday.

Around 130 students were served the rice, school officials said.

The bags of rice were delivered to the district in sealed bags, and it’s believed that the rice was already contaminated before being given to the schools.

Officials looked over the Donaldson Elementary School cafeteria Monday evening, where the meals for all the elementary schools are prepared.

The district said it believes this instance was an isolated incident.

Burglars steal about $40,000 in marijuana from shop

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Authorities are looking for burglars who broke into a Seattle medical marijuana shop.

Police said burglars broke into the Natural Green Medicine shop Friday.

Seattle TV station KIRO reported the owner of the store  that the thieves got into the shop by smashing a window 10 feet above and and then smashed through a wall, bypassing the alarm system.

Police said the thieves got away with $40,000 in medical marijuana.

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