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Crew Safe After Soyuz Launch Failure, Dioceses to Release Names of Accused Priests, And More

What we’re following this morning at Houston Public Media

Thursday, October 11th, 2018

Astronaut, Cosmonaut safe after failed Soyuz launch

Astronaut Nick Hague (left) and Roscosmos Director Dmitry Rogozin.

NASA astronaut Nick Hague and Russian cosmonaut Alexei Ovchinin were on board a Soyuz spacecraft above Kazakhstan headed to the International Space Station when a booster rocket failed, prompting a “ballistic descent.” 

The incident comes after other recent concerns with Soyuz spacecraft.

“This is going to ground the Souyz fleet for some time,” Eric Berger, Senior Space Editor at Ars Technica, told News 88.7.  “It raises questions about how long we can have people on the station and whether the International Space Station itself will ultimately be able to go on.”

In a statement to News 88.7 on Thursday morning, NASA said it will evaluate future launch options once it gets information from an investigation into the incident.

The agency said three astronauts are currently on the station. They are scheduled to remain there until December.


Dioceses to release names of accused priests

The 15 Catholic dioceses in Texas say they will release the names of clergy who have been “credibly accused” of sexual abuse beginning early next year.

They hope to promote “healing and a restoration of trust” by doing so, the Diocese of Dallas said in a statement.

The move comes after new accusations last week by a third person who says a Houston-area priest, Manuel La Rosa-Lopez, sexually touched him when he was a teenager.

The release is consistent with efforts in other states, such as California and Ohio.


More environmental waivers for South Texas border fencing

The Department of Homeland Security has issued another waiver of environmental laws to build new border barriers in South Texas.

DHS posted a waiver Wednesday that lists six sections where it plans to build “physical barriers and roads” in the Rio Grande Valley.

The wavier follows another posted on Tuesday to build new gates to seal gaps in existing fencing, as the government moves forward with plans to fulfill President Donald Trump’s campaign pledge to build a border wall.


Harris County rolls out jail suicide hotline

Inmates at the Harris County Jail made 169 calls to a new crisis hotline since it started a week ago.

The Harris County Jail rolled out the free suicide crisis line for inmates last week. The crisis line comes after two suicides in the jail in recent months.

The Harris County Sheriff’s Office is piloting the service through the Harris Center, which operates a regional crisis line.


Harris County clerk has ‘confidence’ in voting system

Harris County Clerk Stan Stanart says he’s doesn’t want anyone to sit out the election because they’re afraid their vote won’t be counted.

County Clerk Stan Stanart predicts up to a million Harris County residents could be casting ballots in a string of hotly-contested races.

Stanart said he doesn’t want anyone to stay home because they’re afraid their vote won’t count.

“You can have confidence in our systems,” said Stanart. “All our software is certified by the Secretary of State and the Federal Elections Assistance Commission. Before each use of any of the voting equipment, there’s seals, there’s chains of custodies. There are all kinds of processes in place to ensure that the vote is kept safe and secure.”

Stanart said votes are stored in an encrypted database and they run multiple tests to make sure the system is working properly. They also have numerous people monitoring the process.