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NASA's twin test, SpaceX, and the world's worst houseguest: The Morning Rundown

The White House considered busing migrants to "sanctuary cities" as political retaliation, officials said Thursday.
Image: Demonstrators picketing against the arrival of undocumented migrants who were scheduled to be processed at the Murrieta Border Patrol Station block the buses carrying the migrants in California
Demonstrators picketed the arrival of undocumented migrants at the Murrieta Border Patrol Station in Murrieta, California, in July 2014.SAM HODGSON / Reuters

Good morning, NBC News readers.

The White House considered a plan to use migrants to target political foes and we have a modern day reminder of the old mantra: Manners matter.

Here's what we're watching today.

White House considered busing migrants to 'sanctuary cities'

The Trump administration sought to bus detained immigrants to "sanctuary cities" as a way to retaliate against the president's adversaries, officials said Thursday.

The Washington Post, which first reported the proposals, said lawyers for Immigration and Customs Enforcement rejected the idea as inappropriate.

The Department of Homeland Security confirmed the broad outlines of the report, saying in a statement: "This was a suggestion that was floated and rejected, which ended any further discussion."

The Post quoted DHS officials as saying the administration sought to release detainees in the San Francisco-based district of House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and in other strongly Democratic districts.

Steve Bannon's new target: Pope Francis

If you thought Bannon — the right-wing firebrand and former adviser to President Donald Trump — just rode off into the sunset after leaving the White House, think again.

The populist political consultant has a new target in his crusade against “globalism”: Pope Francis.

The pontiff has expressed support for migrants and the poor, while warning against nationalism and unfettered capitalism.

Bannon takes issue with Francis' approach and alleges that he has mismanaged the sex abuse scandals roiling the Catholic Church.

The former Washington insider joins a raft of American ultra-conservative Catholics who have attacked Francis, NBC News' Richard Engel reports.

Steve Bannon during a visit to the Vatican earlier this year.Marco Bonomo / AP file

Ecuador was fed up with 'spoiled brat' Julian Assange

Julian Assange’s stay inside Ecuador’s London Embassy came to a dramatic end on Thursday. But what prompted his hosts to withdraw asylum after seven years?

The WikiLeaks founder's late-night skateboarding, physical harassment of his caretakers and lack of basic hygiene would have tested the patience of any host.

But for tiny Ecuador, which prides itself on its hospitality and spent almost $1 million a year protecting Assange, it was also seen as a national insult.

American politicians from both sides of the aisle applauded the move and are now calling for his immediate extradition to the U.S.

Hours after the Justice Department announced computer hacking charges against Assange, President Donald Trump made his first comments on the case.

"I know nothing about WikiLeaks," said Trump, even though he frequently cited its information dumps about Hillary Clinton during the 2016 campaign. "It’s not my thing."

The Week in Pictures

Yasuyoshi Chiba / AFP - Getty Images

A vigil to remember the Rwandan genocide, in which 800,000 people were killed, was held 25 years after it started. See more of the most compelling images from the last week.

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  • Chicago is suing actor Jussie Smollet for the costs of the investigation into the attack police say he orchestrated. All of the charges were later dropped by prosecutors.

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Science + Tech = MACH

SpaceX's Falcon Heavy rocket successfully launched its first commercial flight on Thursday.

Quote of the day

"We’ve ended the asylum of this spoiled brat."

Ecuador's President Lenin Moreno on Julian Assange

One fun thing

Talk about a twin test.

NASA found strange and surprising changes to astronaut Scott Kelly's body after nearly a year in space orbit — at least compared to his Earth-bound identical twin brother.

Identical twins Scott and Mark Kelly, both retired NASA astronauts, participated in a study that compared the effects of spaceflight on Scott's body after he spent nearly a year at the space station. Robert Markowitz / NASA

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Thanks, Petra Cahill