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March 20, 2019

The world of Hawkins, Indiana is about to turn upside down — again.

Netflix on Wednesday debuted the first trailer for the third season of Stranger Things, which teases a summer theme, trouble for one particular character, and a downright horrifying new creature.

After an extended opening sequence in which the gang uses Eleven's powers to play a prank on Dustin, we see footage of the kids living it up over the summer after two seasons set during the fall. But they're getting older, as the trailer makes abundantly clear when Mike defensively declares, "we're not kids anymore." It seems something will threaten to tear the group apart during the season, with Will looking wistfully at a photo of a more innocent time — that time being season 2.

The trailer also teases the introduction of a new mall in Hawkins, which promises to be a central location, as well as a new character in Mayor Kline, played by Cary Elwes. But what's the season's central conflict? Well, the trailer features a brief shot of Billy Hargrove in the shower with some sort of infection on his arm, and it concludes with Jonathan being confronted by a horrifying new creature, which looks like the Demogorgon mixed with something out of The Thing. Could that infection have actually transformed Billy into this monster? Or might Billy become possessed much like Will was last season?

We'll find out when the third season of Stranger Things premieres on July 4. Watch the trailer below. Brendan Morrow

2:14 a.m.

Gen. Manuel Ricardo Cristopher Figuera, once Hugo Chávez's head of security and later Venezuelan President Nicolás Maduro's spy chief, is telling all about what he says he witnessed while serving as one of the government's top officials.

Figuera was named the head of SEBIN, Venezuela's intelligence police, last October, which landed him on a U.S. sanctions list in February. A month later, Figuera was approached by the opposition and joined the plot to push out Maduro, he told The Washington Post in an interview conducted last week and released Monday. He said that working as head of SEBIN made him realize "Maduro is the head of a criminal enterprise, with his own family involved," and he was ready to defect.

Figuera told the Post he learned that an assistant to Maduro's son ran a company that had a monopoly on gold, buying it from miners for a steal and selling it for much more to Venezuela's central bank, among other high-level corruption. The government also looked the other way as groups like Hezbollah and the Colombian guerrilla organization ELN operated inside the country, he said. "I found that the cases of narco-trafficking and guerrillas were not to be touched."

The uprising against Maduro was launched April 30, but it ultimately failed. Figuera told the Post he's not the only top official who joined the effort; he named the chief justice of Venezuela's supreme court, who has publicly denied being part of the plot. Maduro was nervous during the uprising, Figuera said, and once Maduro summoned him to the country's most infamous prison, he knew he had to flee. He went to Colombia, and on Monday, arrived in the United States. "I'm proud of what I did," Figuera told the Post. "For now, the regime has gotten ahead of us. But that can quickly change." Read more on the plot to oust Maduro and Figuera's story at The Washington Post. Catherine Garcia

2:02 a.m.

In Stephen Colbert's interview of NBC host Chuck Todd's interview of President Trump on Monday's Late Show, Trump decided not to strike Iran last week because of the counsel he received from a Magic 8 Ball.

On Thursday night, "we were poised to start a war with Iran, but Donald Trump did the right th— sorry, I'm just not used to saying that sort of thing," Colbert said. "Trump made the correct moral— The point is, this is the first thing that Trump has ever ordered that he did not finish." He deconstructed Trump's explanation, from his belated question about Iranian casualties to his hilarious "cocked & loaded" malapropism. Trump reportedly "likes the decisiveness of calling off the terrible command Donald Trump just gave," he said, but Trump also postponed his planned mass deportation of immigrant families this weekend, though even this "shred of human decency has an expiration date."

"Sweet lord, America was 10 minutes away from bombing Iran — and who stopped it? Donald Trump," Trevor Noah applauded at The Daily Show. "Who ordered the strike? Also Donald Trump. The point is, we're at peace, thanks to and in spite of President Trump." It's getting worrisomely common that "Trump takes us all to the brink of a crisis, and then he's the one that pulls us back at the last second," he added. "Sometimes it feels like there are two different Trumps making these decisions."

Trump's clearly getting conflicting advice, Noah said, and "I don't know what the doves told President Trump, but it looks like for now, it's worked," because "in 48 hours, Trump went from threatening Iran to pitching a MAGA franchise in Tehran."

Yes, "our split-personality president" has "spent the last week creating crises and then pretending he's solved those crises," Seth Meyers said at Late Night. "It's almost like he saw the polls, and instead of running against the Democrats in 2020, decided to run against himself: 'Vote for me — I'm the only one who can stop Donald Trump.'" He posed some good questions about Trump's endgame, or worrisome lack thereof. Watch below. Peter Weber

12:40 a.m.

Explorers searched for the "Lost City of the Monkey God" for decades, and once a team of conservationists had the opportunity to traverse the elusive area, they were thrilled with what they discovered.

Deep inside Honduras' Mosquitia rainforest, the team found 246 species of butterflies and moths, 30 species of bats, and 57 species of amphibians and reptiles. They discovered 22 species never before recorded in Honduras — including a fish that has likely never been found anywhere else — and species thought to be extinct, including the tiger beetle. The ancient settlement is "one of the few areas remaining in Central America where ecological and evolutionary processes remain intact," Trond Larsen, director of Conservation International's Rapid Assessment Program (RAP), told The Independent.

The conservationists were dropped off in the area by helicopter, and spent three weeks exploring. The pristine setting is vulnerable to illegal deforestation, and RAP's John Polisar said he is hopeful Honduras' government will make sure it is safeguarded. "Because of its presently intact forests and fauna, the area is of exceptionally high conservation value," he told The Independent. "It merits energetic and vigilant protection so its beauty and wildlife persist into the future." Catherine Garcia

12:18 a.m.

President Trump's latest denial that he raped writer E. Jean Carroll in the dressing room of Bergdorf Goodman in the 1990s goes as follows, in an interview Monday with The Hill: "I'll say it with great respect: Number one, she's not my type. Number two, it never happened. It never happened, okay?" Trump has used similar language in denying some of the other dozen-plus public allegations of sexual assault against him, and also about one woman, Stormy Daniels, whom he paid $130,000 to stay quiet about their purported extramarital tryst.

Trump went on to tell The Hill that Carroll is "totally lying," that he knows "nothing about this woman," and that it's "just a terrible thing that people can make statements like that." On CNN Monday night, Carroll deadpanned to Anderson Cooper, "I love that I'm not his type." But she retold her story, which two friends say she shared with them at the time of the alleged rape, 23 years ago, and there is some similarity between her tale of shopping with Trump and Trump's recorded boast about grabbing women by the genitals that surfaced in the 2016 campaign.

Carroll described Trump's response to the myriad sexual assault allegations against him as: "He denies, he turns it around, he threatens, and he attacks." And that's true in this case, whether you believe Carroll or Trump. Peter Weber

June 24, 2019

Several Democrats in the House are struggling with the idea of backing a $4.5 billion emergency aid package, as they want to help detained migrants but worry that the money will somehow be used to carry out President Trump's promised deportation raids.

The House is planning a vote on Tuesday, and House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) spent Monday evening meeting with Democrats who have issues with the bill, The New York Times reports. Pelosi has said the measure "does not fund the administration's failed mass detention policy" and does not change asylum laws. Several members of the Congressional Hispanic Caucus and Congressional Progressive Caucus want to make it clear the money will go to improving facilities where migrant children are being held, especially in the wake of shocking reports of filthy conditions and neglect at a Border Patrol station in Texas.

Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-N.Y.) on Monday night said she "will not fund another dime to allow ICE to continue its manipulative tactics," while Rep. Pramila Jayapal (D-Wash.) said she doesn't trust Trump to follow restrictions in the bill, adding, "He's creating these crises and then trying to point the finger at Democrats to give him more money, which he then uses for his own purposes." Trump enacts "cruel immigration policies," Rep. Nita Lowey (D-N.Y.) said, but "Democrats cannot allow our anger at this president to blind us to the horrific conditions at facilities along the border as the agencies run out of money."

Republicans are opposing the package for different reasons, specifically that the money won't be used to enforce immigration law, the Times reports. The White House said in a statement Monday night that Trump would likely veto the House legislation because it "does not provide adequate funding to meet the current crisis" and "contains partisan provisions designed to hamstring the administration's border enforcement efforts." Catherine Garcia

June 24, 2019

NASA's Curiosity rover has detected methane on Mars several times since landing in 2012, but last week, it measured the highest level yet: 21 parts per billion.

This is an "unusually high" level of the odorless, colorless gas, but NASA cautioned that while methane is produced by living organisms, this is not absolute proof of life on Mars, now or ever. "While increased methane levels measured by @MarsCuriosity are exciting, as possible indicators for life, it's important to remember this is an early science result," NASA's Thomas Zurbuchen tweeted. On Earth, major sources of methane include cattle and the production of fossil fuels.

Scientists will analyze the information, and plan on conducting more observations, NBC News reports. The methane was detected on Teal Ridge, inside the 96-mile-wide Gale Crater. Catherine Garcia

June 24, 2019

A hotel in the Dominican Republic where two American tourists recently died said it is removing liquor bottles from its minibars, but denies the move has anything to do with the deaths.

Erica Lopez, the general manager of The Hard Rock Hotel and Casino in Punta Cana, told CNN the decision to take out the bottles was made last week. Over the last year, at least 10 American tourists have died in the Dominican Republic, including David Harrison, 45, of Maryland, who died at the Hard Rock last July, and Robert Wallace, 67, of California, who died there in April. One theory behind the deaths is that tainted alcohol was somehow involved, and Wallace's relatives told KTXL he became ill after drinking scotch from the minibar in his room.

The FBI is assisting Dominican officials with toxicology reports, testing samples from some hotel minibars; authorities say that any time someone dies in a hotel room in the Dominican Republic, they test minibars for bacteria and take samples of water from showers and sinks. Last year, 6.5 million tourists visited the Dominican Republic, with 2.2 million from the United States, and officials from both countries say the deaths are not connected and there's no reason to cancel any upcoming vacations. Catherine Garcia

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