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Accused Arizona shooter to appear in court

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PHOENIX, Arizona – A 22-year-old charged with trying to kill a US lawmaker in a shooting spree which left six dead and triggered a wave of soul-searching is due in court Monday, his second appearance before a judge.

Jared Lee Loughner could enter pleas at the court in Phoenix, Arizona, where he first appeared two days after the January 8 attacks in Tucson in which he allegedly tried to assassinate congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords.

A federal grand jury indicted Loughner on Wednesday on three counts of attempted murder — of Giffords and two of her aides — although further charges are expected, and he could ultimately face the death penalty.

The six people who died included a nine-year-old girl and an Arizona federal judge, John Roll, whose colleagues in the Phoenix courthouse have been disqualified from hearing the case due to the risk they would not be impartial.

The trial is expected to be overseen by California federal judge Larry Burns, from San Diego, although it remains unclear if it will be held in Arizona — where emotions are likely to run high — or elsewhere.

In his first appearance in court on January 10 a Loughner — whose smiling mug shot showing a shaved head was released by police after his arrest — did not enter any pleas, and shed no light on his motives for the horrific attack.

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Loughner’s defense lawyer is San Diego-based Judy Clarke, who represented Unabomber Ted Kaczynski — an anarchist serving life without parole for a 20-year mail bombing spree — and 9/11 conspirator Zacarias Moussaoui.

Loughner was detained at the scene of the shooting, which took place at a “Congress on Your Corner” public event outside a Safeway grocery store.

Investigators found documents at his home — where he lived with his parents — including an envelop on which were written “Giffords,” “My Assassination” and “I planned ahead,” as well as what looked like Loughner’s signature.

It emerged that he had bought the gun and ammunition used in the attack legally in local stores, and that he had been pulled over for running a red light only a few hours before the shooting, but allowed to go with a warning.

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Loughner had also left rambling and mostly semi-coherent messages online ahead of the attacks, suggesting he was angry at government and other authorities.

The attacks triggered a firestorm of debate about the influence of America’s fiercely divided political culture.

President Barack Obama visited Tucson on January 13 to attend a memorial for the victims of the attack, urging Americans to heal their poisonous political divisions to honor the schoolgirl killed, Christina Taylor Green.

Giffords, shot in the head at point-blank range, is making a remarkable recovery, doctors say. On Friday she was transferred from Tucson to a hospital in Houston, Texas, to be closer to her family as she begins rehabilitation.

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Sailing among the stars: Here’s how photons could revolutionize space flight

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A few days from now, a SpaceX Falcon Heavy rocket will lift off from Florida, carrying a satellite the size of a loaf of bread with nothing to power it but a huge polyester "solar sail."

It's been the stuff of scientists' dreams for decades but has only very recently become a reality.

The idea might sounds crazy: propelling a craft through the vacuum of space with no engine, no fuel, and no solar panels, but instead harnessing the momentum of packets of light energy known as photons -- in this case from our Sun.

The spacecraft to be launched on Monday, called LightSail 2, was developed by the Planetary Society, a US organization that promotes space exploration which was co-founded by the legendary astronomer Carl Sagan in 1980.

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Russians to prod Putin on poverty and his personal life as his ratings tank

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Russians are set to ask President Vladimir Putin about growing poverty at home and tensions abroad during an annual televised phone-in Thursday, which comes following a fall in his approval ratings.

The leader is also likely to face a degree of grilling on his personal life, according to questions submitted by the public online ahead of the live show.

Set to be held for the 17th time since Putin came to power in 1999, the show starts at 0900 GMT and usually lasts several hours.

Ahead of the carefully choreographed show, more than one million questions had been submitted, organisers told Russian news agencies.

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Trump could turn on Hope Hicks just like Michael Cohen: Trump family biographer warns

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Trump family biographer Emily Jane Fox explained that she didn't think that the president would turn on long-time aide Hope Hicks, but then again, it was the same thought about Michael Cohen as well.

In a panel discussion about Hicks' testimony during MSNBC's Brian Williams' Wednesday show, Fox recalled that Micahel Cohen once said that he would take a bullet for the president. Once it appeared that Trump would throw him under the bus, Cohen began looking for a way out.

The same scenario seems to be happening with Hicks now.

"She works at new Fox, which is a company run by a Murdoch son," Fox said. "It's a company that's brand new. She's the head of communications there. And there are shareholders who would take issue with the fact that a senior member of this company is being put in this situation and being thrust on the world stage."

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