Outside the outbreak: Protests for Palacios-Carbajal continue, U.S. sending spacecraft to Mars

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Utah prosecutor who cleared cops denounces violent protests

District Attorney Sim Gill inspects the damage to the district attorney’s office on July 10 in Salt Lake City. Protesters decrying the police shooting of Bernardo Palacios-Carbajal painted and marked the district attorney’s office Thursday, July 9, after two police officers were cleared in his death. (AP Photo/Rick Bowmer)

A Utah prosecutor who cleared two officers in the shooting death of an armed man denounced subsequent protests that turned violent and resulted in another officer being injured.

Protesters rallied Thursday evening following Salt Lake County District Attorney Sim Gill’s announcement that police officers had acted legally in May when they fired more than 30 times at Bernardo Palacios-Carbajal, 22, as he ran away. His death has become a rallying point for protesters in the state amid a national wave of dissent against police brutality.

Authorities declared an unlawful assembly after protesters smashed windows at the district attorney’s office. One officer was injured and two people were arrested, according to police. The governor declared a state of emergency to close the Capitol building and grounds until July 13.

Court: Some employers can refuse to offer free birth control

Tom Alexander holds a cross as he prays prior to rulings outside the Supreme Court on Capitol Hill in Washington, Wednesday, July 8, 2020. The Supreme Court is siding with two Catholic schools in a ruling that underscores that certain employees of religious schools, hospitals and social service centers can’t sue for employment discrimination. (AP Photo/Patrick Semansky)

The Supreme Court ruled broadly Wednesday, July 8, in favor of the religious rights of employers in two cases that could leave more than 70,000 women without free contraception and tens of thousands of people with no way to sue for job discrimination.

In both cases, the court ruled 7-2, with two liberal justices joining conservatives in favor of the Trump administration and religious employers.

The ruling is a significant election-year win for President Donald Trump, who counts on heavy support from evangelicals and other Christian groups for votes and policy backing. It was also good news for the administration, which in recent weeks has seen headline-making Supreme Court decisions go against its positions.

Nearly 600,000 vote in Hong Kong pro-democracy primaries

People queue up to vote in Hong Kong, Sunday, July 12, 2020, in an unofficial primary for pro-democracy candidates ahead of legislative elections in September. (AP Photo/Vincent Yu)

Hundreds of thousands of Hong Kong residents turned up over the weekend to vote in an unofficial primary election held by the city’s pro-democracy camp as it gears up to field candidates for an upcoming legislative poll.

The primaries were held two weeks after Beijing imposed a sweeping national security law on the semi-autonomous territory in a move widely seen as chipping away at the “one country, two systems” framework under which Britain handed Hong Kong over to China in 1997. It was passed in response to last year’s massive protests calling for greater democracy and more police accountability.

Hong Kong’s constitutional affairs minister, Eric Tsang, had warned that the primaries could be in breach of the new national security law because it outlaws interference and disruption of duties by the local government.

Look out, Mars: Here we come with a fleet of spacecraft

This July 23, 2019 photo made available by NASA shows the head of the Mars rover Perseverance’s remote sensing mast which contains the SuperCam instrument in the large circular opening, two Mastcam-Z imagers in gray boxes, and next to those, the rover’s two navigation cameras, at the Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, Calif. The robotic vehicle will hunt for rocks containing biological signatures, if they exist. (NASA/JPL-Caltech via AP)

Three countries — the United States, China and the United Arab Emirates — are sending unmanned spacecraft to the red planet in quick succession beginning this week, in the most sweeping effort yet to seek signs of ancient microscopic life while scouting out the place for future astronauts.

The U.S., for its part, is dispatching a six-wheeled rover the size of a car, named Perseverance, to collect rock samples that will be brought back to Earth for analysis in about a decade.

Each spacecraft will travel more than 300 million miles (483 million kilometers) before reaching Mars next February. It takes six to seven months, at the minimum, for a spacecraft to loop out beyond Earth’s orbit and sync up with Mars’ more distant orbit around the sun.

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