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Trump not declaring emergency 'right now'. VOA

Another work week begins in the U.S. Monday – but not for hundreds of thousands of federal employees forced to stay home because of the government shutdown.

Hundreds of thousands of others will be on the job this week, but will not get a paycheck.


President Donald Trump said Sunday he can “relate” to the hardship of not getting paid. But he is telling federal workers to “make adjustments” because he said he will not bend in his demand for $5 billion for a wall along the U.S.-Mexico border to prevent illegal immigration.


Visitors take their pictures at the Lincoln Memorial in Washington, Tuesday, Jan. 1, 2019, as a partial government shutdown stretches into its third week. VOA

Congressional Democrats refuse to include money for a wall in the federal budget, with the standoff having prompted the Trump administration to order the partial shutdown.

Trump said Sunday he could make a deal with Democratic leaders “in 20 minutes if they want to. If they don’t want to, it’s (the shutdown is) going to go on for a long time.”

He also said the barrier along the southern border could be a fence made of steel instead of a wall made of concrete if that will make people happier.


A border patrol office inside his vehicle guards the border fence at the U.S. side of San Diego, Calif., as seen from Tijuana, Mexico, Jan. 2, 2019. VOA

But Republican Senator Susan Collins called the argument over whether the wall is steel or concrete “bizarre” and says reopening the government must be Congress’ top priority.

“I’ve never thought that shutdowns are an appropriate means of trying to achieve any kind of solution. This isn’t a matter of one side or the other caving in. It’s a matter of getting to a compromise and that is a sign of strength,” Collins told NBC’s Meet the Press.

Trump says national security is his top priority and claims many federal workers are glad to give up their paychecks for a wall to stop drugs, terrorists and criminal gangs from crossing into the county from Mexico.


The Smithsonian Institution National Air and Space Museum is seen shuttered during the partial government shutdown, Jan. 4, 2019, in Washington. VOA

Trump says he is considering declaring a national emergency which would allow him to build a wall without congressional approval – a move some Democrats say would be challenged in the courts.

“Look, if [President] Harry Truman couldn’t nationalize the steel industry during wartime, this president doesn’t have the power to declare an emergency and build a multi-billion dollar wall on the border,” Congressman Adam Schiff said on CNN.

Also Read: U.S. And China Hold Fresh Trade Talks

Democratic leaders call the idea of a wall an immoral wasteful pipe dream. They say they are interested in border security too, but believe there are better and more tangible ways toward that end. (VOA)


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Milky Way galaxy as seen from Chitkul Valley

NASA's Chandra X-ray Observatory has for the first time spotted signs of a planet transiting a star outside of the Milky Way galaxy, opening up a new avenue to search for exoplanets at greater distances than ever before.

The possible exoplanet -- or planets outside of our Solar System -- candidate is located in the spiral galaxy Messier 51 (M51), also called the Whirlpool Galaxy because of its distinctive profile, NASA said in a statement.

Astronomers have, so far, found all other known exoplanets and exoplanet candidates in the Milky Way galaxy, almost all of them less than about 3,000 light-years from Earth.

An exoplanet in M51 would be about 28 million light-years away, meaning it would be thousands of times farther away than those in the Milky Way, NASA said.

"We are trying to open up a whole new arena for finding other worlds by searching for planet candidates at X-ray wavelengths, a strategy that makes it possible to discover them in other galaxies," said Rosanne Di Stefano of the Center for Astrophysics at Harvard and Smithsonian (CfA) in Cambridge, Massachusetts, who led the study.

The findings are published in the journal Nature Astronomy.

The exoplanet candidate was spotted in a binary system called M51-ULS-1, located in M51. This binary system contains a black hole or neutron star orbiting a companion star with a mass about 20 times that of the Sun. The X-ray transit they found using Chandra data lasted about three hours, during which the X-ray emission decreased to zero.

Based on this and other information, the team estimates the exoplanet candidate in M51-ULS-1 would be roughly the size of Saturn and orbit the neutron star or black hole at about twice the distance of Saturn from the Sun.

The team looked for X-ray transits in three galaxies beyond the Milky Way galaxy, using both Chandra and the European Space Agency's XMM-Newton. Their search covered 55 systems in M51, 64 systems in Messier 101 (the "Pinwheel" galaxy), and 119 systems in Messier 104 (the "Sombrero" galaxy).

However, more data would be needed to verify the interpretation as an extragalactic exoplanet. One challenge is that the planet candidate's large orbit means it would not cross in front of its binary partner again for about 70 years, thwarting any attempts for a confirming observation for decades, NASA said.

Named in honor of the late Indian-American Nobel laureate, Subrahmanyan Chandrasekhar, the Chandra X-ray Observatory is the world's most powerful X-ray telescope. It has eight times greater resolution and is able to detect sources more than 20-times fainter than any previous X-ray telescope.

Known to the world as Chandra (which means "moon" or "luminous" in Sanskrit), Chandrasekhar was widely regarded as one of the foremost astrophysicists of the twentieth century. (IANS/JB)


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