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A Real-Life 'Star Wars' Death Star Would Cost $850 Quadrillion, Says U.S. Government

A sad day for Star Wars fans. While three new Disney-sponsored films in the intergalactic franchise are on the horizon, the construction of an actual Death Star, like the one Darth Vader called home in the films, above Earth is not. (Sigh.)

A petition setup on the Petitions.WhiteHouse.gov website amassed more than 34,000 e-signatures demanding that the Obama Administration "secure resources and funding, and begin construction of a Death Star by 2016." The group argued that "focusing our defense resources into a space-superiority platform and weapon system such as a Death Star" would "spur job creation in the fields of construction, engineering, space exploration, and more, and strengthen our national defense." While an excellent point, those 34,000 people overlooked some potential hurdles.

In what could only be called a small victory in the face of eminent defeat for Star Wars fans, the White House actually responded to the petition.

"The Administration shares your desire for job creation and a strong national defense, but a Death Star isn't on the horizon," began the poignant response from the U.S. government that ultimately nixed the plan.

The author of the response, Paul Shawcross, serves as Science and Space Branch Chief at the White House Office of Management and Budget. Shawcross, who helped pen the White House's fiscal 2013 budget, cited three main reasons for the petition's rebuttal, and affectionately titled it: "This Isn't the Petition Response You're Looking For."

Shawcross says that the construction of the Death Star would cost the U.S. somewhere in the $850,000,000,000,000,000 ballpark. "We're working hard to reduce the deficit, not expand it," he rationalized. He also added that the U.S. government "does not support blowing up planets" nor would it "spend countless taxpayer dollars on a Death Star with a fundamental flaw that can be exploited by a one-man starship?" (Might Shawcross, himself, be a fan of the Star Wars films? That is still undetermined.)

Shawcross challenged the undersigned to apply their keen imaginations to the current night sky, as it is already home to a pseudo Death Star. "Yes, we already have a giant, football field-sized International Space Station in orbit around the Earth that's helping us learn how humans can live and thrive in space for long durations," he wrote. He noted that with six astronauts aboard from three different countries, it was more of a peaceful stopover in the cosmos, than destroyer ship.

While Shawcross' response is point-blank hilarious, it is also immensely informational, as he provides links to several currently in-the-works space projects. "We don't have a Death Star, but we do have floating robot assistants on the Space Station, a President who knows his way around a light saber and advanced (marshmallow) cannon, and the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency, which is supporting research on building Luke's arm, floating droids, and quadruped walkers," he challenged. (Okay, this guy is definitely a HUGE Star Wars fan.)

Alas, the Death Star petitioners should be basking in their defeat. They did manage to get a response from the U.S. government, and it isn't necessarily a dead end. There are several privately funded aerospace companies, such as Elon Musk's SpaceX, Jeff Bezos' Blue Origin and Richard Branson's Virgin Galactic, that they can hit up for that $850,000,000,000,000,000.

Adds Shawcross, "We are living in the future! Enjoy it. Or better yet, help build it by pursuing a career in a science, technology, engineering or math-related field." May the force be with you.

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Illinois Man Awarded $1.25 Million After Cops Tackled Him For Stealing His Own Car

A former Northwestern University doctoral student was awarded $1.25 million after police tackled the then 25-year old assuming he was trying to steal a car that was actually his own.

The Associated Press reports Evanston City Manager Wally Bobkiewicz confirmed the settlement amount had been reached Wednesday. (Jan. 23) Crosby was an engineering major in 2015 when the incident occurred.

Crosby’s attorney Timothy Touhy said his client was attempting to repair something with his car when a white woman watching called local police to report what she thought was a robbery.

The unidentified woman then followed Crosby in his car as he left his apartment and headed to a science building on Northwestern's campus, giving police his location.

Crosby reportedly exited his vehicle with his hands up but was immediately tackled by law enforcement when he didn't obey orders to get on the ground. Cops later determined Crosby was the owner of the vehicle but charged him with resisting arrest.

A spokesman for the Evanston police said the use of force was justified at the time because officers assumed a theft was in progress. Crosby was the victim of knee strikes and open-handed strikes.

A judge threw out the charges.

“It’s his hope that as a result of this case, that all of us begin a discussion on implicit bias and begin to recognize it and begin to discuss it between yourselves and your friends,” said Steven Yonover, who represented Crosby in the case.

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Chicago Man Has Wrongful Murder Conviction Overturned After Serving 17 Years

A Chicago man who accused a retired cop of framing him for a murder he didn't commit has finally had the conviction overturned after spending 17 years in prison.

According to Buzzfeed News, Geraldo Iglesias was released from prison in 2010 for the 1993 murder of Monica Roman, who was shot and killed while sitting inside her car in Chicago's Humboldt Park neighborhood. However, Iglesias spent the last nine years fighting to have the conviction removed from his record because it prohibited his ability to get a job or find housing.

Iglesias is the 10th man to have a conviction overturned after being investigated by Reynaldo Guevara. Buzzfeed invested the former detective and found 50 men accused him of framing them for murders they allege they didn't commit.

At Iglesias' 1995 sentencing, he spoke directly to the victim's family and expressed his condolences while maintaining his innocence.

"I would like to say that I apologize and I’m sorry for what happened to the young lady and I send my condolences to the family but I would like to say I had nothing to do with it and the Lord knows I had nothing to do with it.”

Iglesias' conviction was sealed on the testimony of a jailhouse informant Francisco Vicente who alleged Islesias confessed to him about killing Roman. Vicente said Iglesias said, "I shot the bitch in the head.”

In the past Guevara and his partner, Ernest Halvorsen have used the 5th Amendment rights to avoid self-incrimination. Buzzfeed reports at least 17 defendants who allege Guevara framed them are still behind bars.

 

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Donald Trump Doesn't Have Any MLK Day Activities Planned

President Donald Trump has no public events scheduled for Dr. Martin Luther King day.

On Friday (Jan. 18) the president signed a proclamation in which encouraged “all Americans to recommit themselves to Dr. King’s dream by engaging in acts of service to others, to their community, and to our Nation.” The Daily Beast reports. However, Trump may not have included himself in the proclamation.

NEW: @realDonaldTrump won't be participating in any Martin Luther King Jr. Day service activities tomorrow. According to the White House schedule, he "has no public events scheduled."

— Geoff Bennett (@GeoffRBennett) January 21, 2019

While the president's plans on the national day of service are unclear, Vice President Mike Pence compared Dr. King's legacy of peace to the current U.S. partial government shutdown. On CBS’s Face the Nation Sunday (Jan. 20) Pence quoted the late civil rights leader.

"One of my favorite quotes from Dr. King was, ‘Now is the time to make real the promises of democracy,’” Pence said. "You think of how he changed America. He inspired us to change through the legislative process, to become a more perfect union...That’s exactly what President Trump is calling on Congress to do: Come to the table in the spirit of good faith.

We’ll secure our border. We’ll reopen the government and we’ll move our nation forward as the president said yesterday to even a broader discussion about immigration reform in the months ahead.”

As of Jan. 21, the United States government has been shut down for 31 days. More than 800,000 federal employees have gone without pay due to an impasse between the Democratic Congress and the White House. Donald Trump has asked for $5.7 billion for a U.S.-Mexico wall, while the Democrats are refusing to budge.

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