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October 23, 2018

The Trump administration wants a legally bulletproof policy to discourage Central Americans from crossing into the U.S. And it wants it now.

With "a series of intense closed-door meetings," White House officials are scrambling to craft a new immigration policy that could serve as a rallying cry ahead of the midterm elections, The New York Times writes. Planners are weighing three ways of replacing the current "catch and release" policy, with the most probable option being a "voluntary" reboot of family separation, officials tell the Times.

Rumblings of a family separation redux first emerged earlier this month, when The Washington Post reported that White House adviser Stephen Miller was pushing for a legally stronger version of the much derided "zero tolerance" policy. The new plan, known as "binary choice," would require parents to "choose between voluntarily relinquishing their children to foster care or remaining imprisoned together as a family," the Times reports. It aims to "maximize deterrence and consequences for families," and currently seems to be the administration's favorite option, a person familiar with the plan tells the Times.

Another proposed plan would process families on "a first-in, first-out basis" to hopefully clear out immigration courts' massive backlog, the Times reports. A third would again try to raise the standards for granting asylum.

As a migrant caravan makes its way to the U.S., President Trump has grown frustrated at how long it has taken to rebuild a legally solid migrant-deterrence policy, the Times reports. With the midterms drawing closer, Trump and the GOP will likely continue relying on anti-immigration rhetoric alone to drum up GOP votes. Read more at The New York Times. Kathryn Krawczyk

2:23 p.m.

Pete Buttigieg is no Bernie Bro.

The upstart presidential candidate and South Bend, Indiana mayor told The New York Times that he has a "hard time" Americans "ultimately coming together" to vote for his current competitor Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) in a general election against President Trump in November 2020.

Buttigieg's reasoning, the Times reports, is that Sanders' left-wing proposals are no longer as "provocative" as they were when Sanders ran against former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton in the 2016 Democratic primary, which he ultimately lost. "People were refreshed by the novelty of that boldness," said Buttigieg. But that was then.

Sanders' campaign manager, Faiz Shakir, responded to Buttigieg's comments, telling the Times the senator's "unifying progressive agenda" best-positioned him to beat Trump in the general election.

The Times also reports that Buttigieg, while speaking to high school students in New Hampshire, went so far as to call Sanders supporters and Trump supporters to "two sides of the same coin," suggesting both wanted to "blow up the system" in 2016. Buttigieg, it seems, is aiming to employ more hopeful rhetoric in his campaign, taking a page from former President Barack Obama's book. Read more at The New York Times. Tim O'Donnell

2:21 p.m.

Twenty-nine years ago today, on April 24, 1990, NASA launched its brand-new Hubble Space Telescope into orbit around Earth. Since then, it's been consistent in giving us stunning pictures and data from outer space, having made hundreds of thousands of rounds around our planet. In total, it's traveled over 4 billion miles, made over 1.3 million observations, and contributed to more than 15,000 scientific papers. So today, it's time to celebrate.

To mark the occasion of the Hubble's anniversary in orbit, NASA has released a never-before-seen image of the Southern Crab Nebula, an outer space cloud of dust and gas that lives several thousand light years from Earth. The image shows off the distinct hourglass shape of the Southern Crab Nebula, formed because of the pair of stars in its middle.

This stunning picture is a testament to the incredible trove of data that Hubble has collected over the years, with amazing attention to detail: The telescope's mechanism has the power to detect the equivalent of "a human hair seen at a distance of 1 mile," with the accuracy of "being able to shine a laser beam on President Roosevelt’s head on a dime about 200 miles away," NASA explained.

See the Hubble Space Telescope's latest image, and learn more about its contributions to our study of outer space, in the video below. Shivani Ishwar

Shivani Ishwar

1:53 p.m.

As numerous Fox projects are brought under the Disney umbrella, not all of them may survive intact.

Steven Spielberg's upcoming West Side Story remake is one of a number of films that had been in the works at Fox prior to the recent Disney sale. But The Hollywood Reporter reports that some of these projects "are being met with scrutiny," with Walt Disney Studios Chairman Alan Horn reportedly "questioning the apparent plan to have young characters smoking onscreen" in West Side Story.

Disney has indicated it will continue releasing R-rated movies like Deadpool under the Fox banner and just not branding them as family-friendly Disney movies, so it's unclear whether this means the studio is now eying West Side Story as a traditional Disney release. If that's the case, Horn has suggested that smoking wouldn't be allowed. The Reporter quotes a previous interview the Disney chief gave in which he named Bohemian Rhapsody as a movie Disney couldn't release before the Fox purchase because it includes smoking and "there are certain things we just can't include because we'll get letters."

Additional details about this apparent smoking dispute weren't available, but the good news is that West Side Story is at least moving forward. As the Reporter notes, other projects that were previously in the works at Fox but are being purged from Disney's slate weren't so lucky. Brendan Morrow

1:29 p.m.

John Delaney might be the most hopeful 2020 hopeful out there.

Despite being the first Democrat to launch a 2020 run back in 2017, the former Maryland congressmember has failed to gain any ground in the many 2020 primary polls since. So in what's probably another futile attempt to generate some buzz, Delaney has launched a campaign to "#UnfollowTrump" on Twitter "and hit him where it actually hurts him ... his ego."

The call to arms went out to Delaney's 19,500 Twitter followers, as well as his mailing list of unknown proportions. Even if all those people followed Delaney's directive, there's a strong chance Trump, with his 59.9 million-user following growing every day, wouldn't even notice the difference. Kathryn Krawczyk

1:17 p.m.

Avengers: Endgame could soar to unprecedented box office heights.

Experts expect the Marvel sequel to surpass Avengers: Infinity War's opening weekend of $257 million, with many predicting a gross of between $260 million and $270 million. That would be enough to give the movie the new biggest domestic opening in history.

But it could beat even these lofty expectations, with Deadline and The Hollywood Reporter writing that a stunning $300 million domestic opening might be on the table. Only six movies in history have even achieved a domestic opening greater than $200 million. Not everyone is convinced a $300 million debut is actually possible, though.

Endgame is also eying a global debut of at least between $850 million and $900 million, the Reporter notes, which would be a new record. This seems like a fairly conservative estimate, but The Wrap and Deadline suggest it could climb as high a $1 billion, thanks in part to the fact that it's opening in China and the U.S. in the same week.

In terms of final worldwide gross, Endgame looks likely to at the very least surpass Infinity War's $2 billion total. But by how much? In light of the glowing critical reviews and record-breaking opening day in China, it's not unreasonable to think that despite the summer competition, it could edge past Star Wars: The Force Awakens and Titanic to become the second highest-grossing movie ever made.

To do so, Endgame would need to increase Infinity War's box office earnings by about 7 percent, which would take it past Titanic to $2.2 billion. For comparison, the final Harry Potter installment increased its predecessor's worldwide gross by about 40 percent. But could the intimidating three-hour running time make beating Titanic a difficult feat?

Given the massive hype surrounding Endgame, one thing's for sure: if it falls short of that insane $300 million U.S. opening and $1 billion global debut, don't expect another film to achieve that milestone anytime soon. Brendan Morrow

1:11 p.m.

At least 60 people have died in South Africa after flooding overtook the Southeast province of KwaZulu-Natal, reports BBC.

The region, which contains the city of Durban, has been hit with heavy rain since Monday. A South African broadcaster says more than 1,000 people may be displaced due to the flooding, which has caused mudslides and buildings to collapse.

More floods could be on the horizon, and a government spokesperson told CNN there is a 50 percent chance of more rain. The affected areas are still under a severe weather warning, reports BBC.

South African President Cyril Ramaphosa visited areas impacted by the flooding, including one location where seven members of the same family perished due to flood damage. Read more at BBC. Marianne Dodson

12:21 p.m.

More than 12,000 Boy Scouts have allegedly been sexually abused by more than 7,000 troop leaders and volunteers in the organization, reports ABC News.

Newly released court documents provide testimony substantiating the claims, writes ABC News. Expert witness Janet Warren, who is a professor at the University of Virginia's medical school, revealed during a January trial she has been evaluating the Boy Scouts of America's handling of sexual abuse cases from 1944 to 2016. During this trial, which centered around sexual abuse allegations at a Minnesota children's theater, Warren said that there were 7,819 perpetrators and 12,254 victims within the organization, reports ABC News.

Attorney Jeff Anderson publicized these numbers on Tuesday and said 130 of the alleged abusers live in New York and could face legal repercussions.

The Boy Scouts of America said they never knowingly allowed a perpetrator to work with youth, but did confirm that Warren has worked with the organization to conduct research on the database detailing alleged abuse.

"We care deeply about all victims of child abuse and sincerely apologize to anyone who was harmed during their time in Scouting. We believe victims, we support them, and we have paid for unlimited counseling by a provider of their choice," the Boy Scouts of America told ABC News.

The organization was previously charged with concealing child molesters and reports of abuse; however, the numbers suggested by Warren are significantly higher than any past allegations, per ABC News. Marianne Dodson

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