Saturday | October 9th, 2021

It’s Saturday, October 9th, and this is your Morning Wire. Listen to the full podcast:

1) NASA Launches Defense Mission Against Asteroid

The Topline: NASA recently announced it’s launching a historic defensive mission which could have huge implications for the safety of the planet.

Quote Of The Day: ​​“We’re going to make sure that a rock from space doesn’t send us back to the Stone Age.”

– Thomas Statler, NASA scientist

Beata Zawrzel/NurPhoto/Contributor via Getty Images

The Mission

This week, NASA announced a mission called the Double Asteroid Redirection Test (DART). They’re going to be launching a spacecraft to hit an asteroid. They want to test what they say is a method of “planetary defense,” to see if they can change the path of the asteroid.

It’s set to start on November 24th at 1:20 a.m. EST. 

A SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket is going to be launched from California, and will be aiming for two asteroids which orbit the sun and sometimes get close to earth.

NASA said these asteroids don’t currently pose a threat, but are prime candidates for a tool which could help save earth from a dangerous asteroid in the future.

Two Asteroids

Didymos is around a half-mile in diameter, and Dimorphos, which orbits Didymos, is about 500 feet across.

The DART mission is going to try and hit Dimorphos, the smaller asteroid, at almost 15,000 miles per hour, attempting to change the orbit of the smaller asteroid around the bigger asteroid by 1%. 

Key Point: This will be the first time humanity has changed something in space.

Stefani Reynolds/Bloomberg/Contributor via Getty Images

2) Biden Poll Numbers Plummet

The Topline: Following the widely criticized withdrawal from Afghanistan and amid growing economic uncertainty, President Joe Biden’s approval rating continues to sink, with a new poll showing fewer Americans than ever approve of the job he’s doing. 

Approval Drops

A Quinnipiac poll shows 38% of Americans approve of the job Biden is doing. The same poll had him at 42% approval three weeks ago, and at 50% in February. 

Reasons

Biden is under 50% approval on every major issue, but the areas where he performs the worst are immigration, foreign policy, and the economy. 

Immigration: 25% of Americans approve of the job he’s doing, partially because of his handling of the border crisis as people responded negatively to the images showing record numbers of migrants flooding across the border. 

Foreign Policy: Nearly twice as many Americans disapprove as approve of the job he’s doing – with his approval at 34%. 

Economy: Biden’s numbers have dropped with regard to the economy as the impacts of inflation are felt. Prices on everything from cars to appliances are soaring, and food prices are now at record highs, jumping almost 10 percent in the last year alone. 

2022 Election: Midterms are typically viewed as a referendum on the president. The Quinnipiac poll and another poll from Gallup have shown Republicans with a 3-point lead when it comes to who voters want to see gain control of Congress. 

Mike Coppola/Staff/Getty Images for Bleacher Ball via Getty Images

3) ESPN Anchor Off The Air

The Topline: ESPN employee Sage Steele was off the air this week after discussing the COVID-19 vaccine, women in sports media, and former President Barack Obama.

Background

Last week, Steele went on former NFL quarterback Jay Cutler’s podcast, and discussed ESPN’s vaccine requirement — all employees must have been vaccinated by September 30th — calling the mandate “sick” and “scary.”

On Tuesday, Steele issued an apology, and ESPN came out with their own statement saying they are “are having direct conversations with Sage and those conversations will remain private.” 

Front Office Sports also reported that Steele will not be on air for the remainder of the week and said her comments had something to do with it. 

Reference Point: Front Office Sports also reported Steele has tested positive for COVID-19, which could be another reason behind her absence. 

Other Comments

Steele, who is biracial, also spoke of former President Barack Obama when she recalled a colleague asking her to choose to identify as either black or white.

Steele also discussed women working in sports media, and how they deal with inappropriate comments from athletes, putting some of the onus on women to be aware of the way they present themselves. 

Reaction

Former ESPN anchor and The Atlantic writer Jemele Hill called her comments “clown behavior.” Keith Olberman called for ESPN to take her off the air and former ESPN colleague Cari Champion said Steele “clearly has issues with women.”

Other Stories We’re Tracking

Malaria Vaccine

The World Health Organization (WHO) has approved a malaria vaccine for at-risk children. The WHO Director-General called it a “historic moment,” and said, “using this vaccine on top of existing tools to prevent malaria could save tens of thousands of young lives each year.”

Nazi On Trial

A 100-year-old man is on trial in Germany this week, accused of war crimes related to serving as a Nazi SS guard at a concentration camp near Berlin between 1942 and 1945. The defendant, identified as Joseph S, is charged with 3,518 counts of accessory to murder. 100-year-old survivor, Leon Schwarzbaum, who was imprisoned at the same concentration camp, was able to attend the trial as a visitor. 

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