From The Alpha and the Omega - Chapter Eight
by Jim A. Cornwell, Copyright © 1995, all rights reserved
"Global Environment 2021 APRIL-JUNE"

    This file is attached to from “Astronomical Events To Appear Between 2014 Through 2017 A.D.” - Chapter Eight by Jim A. Cornwell, Copyright © 1995, all rights reserved.
    This link will return you to Astronomical Events To Appear Between 2014 Through 2017 A.D.
    Or return to Global Environment 2021 January-March or continue to Global Environment 2021 July-Sept

Global Environment 2021 APRIL-JUNE

2021 World Disaster and Environmental Issues

4/3/2021 Fla. County Prepares For Toxic Waste Water Spill by OAN Newsroom
This photo taken by a drone shows the old Piney Point phosphate mine, Saturday, April 3, 2021 in Bradenton, Fla. (Tiffany Tompkins/The Bradenton Herald via AP)
    Manatee County declared a state of emergency in Florida amid fears a retention pond holding toxic wastewater would soon collapse.    On Saturday, officials said up to 600 million gallons of toxic wastewater could suddenly flood areas near Tampa Bay.
    According to reports, the retention pond is connected to an old phosphate mine.    Last week, officials noticed a tear in the wall lining and aren’t sure the pond will hold.
    “If we maintain control, the concern is that should you have a full breach — think of a dam opening up.    That runs the risk of destabilizing the walls of the other area,” Manatee County Administrator Scott Hopes said.    “So when we look at the risk factor, the risk factor is really a potential release of nearly a billion gallons.”
    Evacuations have started for residents in the area and limited commercial road traffic remains open.

4/4/2021 NASA Prepares To Launch Mars Helicopter ‘Ingenuity’ by OAN Newsroom
FILE – This illustration made available by NASA depicts the Ingenuity helicopter on Mars which was attached to the bottom of the Perseverance
rover, background left. It will be the first aircraft to attempt controlled flight on another planet. (NASA/JPL-Caltech via AP)
    NASA is preparing its space helicopter “Ingenuity” for the agency’s first powered flight of an aircraft on another planet.
    Scientists on Friday said the Mars helicopter is likely to takeoff on or about April 11, adding it needs to charge up to 100 percent first.
    Ingenuity made its way over to the Red Planet as a part of the Perseverance program back in February.
    Once detached, the device must survive on its own in surface temperatures down to negative 130 degrees Fahrenheit.
    The helicopter’s blades move five times faster than those on earth, but scientists said it’s still unclear how it will behave amid flight in the Martian atmosphere.
    “Now, the flight itself will consist of a take-off and then a climb to an altitude of three metres,” Chief Pilot of Ingenuity Harvard Grip said.    “Then we will hover in place for about thirty seconds and turn with the helicopter while we are hovering, and then come down and land again.”
This March 21, 2021 photo made available by NASA shows the released debris shield, center, for the Ingenuity helicopter,
dropped on the surface of Mars from the bottom of the Perseverance rover. (NASA/JPL-Caltech/MSSS via AP)
    Scientists said Ingenuity will broaden our understanding of the Red Planet and it will provide more data for future landings on Mars.
    “Ingenuity will open new possibilities and will spark questions for the future about what we could accomplish with an aerial explorer,” Lori Glaze, director of the NASA Planetary Science Division said.
    No longer receiving free power from the rover, Ingenuity will have to survive the first night on its own, leaving scientists to patiently see if the helicopter made it through.

4/6/2021 U.S. Climate Envoy Kerry Says India Is “Getting Job Done” On Climate by Neha Arora and Sanjeev Miglani
U.S. Special Presidential Envoy for Climate John Kerry meets with India's Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman
in New Delhi, India, April 6, 2021. India's Press Information Bureau/Handout via REUTERS
    NEW DELHI (Reuters) – U.S. Special Presidential Envoy for Climate John Kerry praised India as a world leader in renewables as he began talks with government leaders aimed at cutting carbon emissions faster to slow global warming.
    India is the world’s third biggest emitter behind the United States and China and is under pressure to commit itself to net zero emissions by 2050, in line with pledges made by several other countries.
    “India is getting the job done on climate, pushing the curve,” Kerry said.
    “You (India) are indisputably a world leader already in the deployment of renewable energy.”
    Government sources told Reuters that India was unlikely to bind itself to a goal of net-zero greenhouse gas emissions by 2050 as its energy demand was projected to grow more than that of any other nation over the next two decades.
    Kerry is leading efforts to get countries to step up commitments ahead of a summit of 40 leaders on April 22-23 called by U.S. President Joe Biden.
    Later this year, world leaders are due to gather for a U.N. climate summit to build on the 2015 Paris accord to limit global warming.
    Kerry said India was setting a “very strong example” for other nations on powering a growing economy with clean energy.
    “That kind of urgency is exactly what we need to confront global climate change,” he said.
    India points to its target of generating 450 gigawatts of renewable energy by 2030 – five times its current capacity and two and half times its Paris pledge.
    But officials in India argue against adopting tougher emission goals, noting that its per capita emissions are still only an eighth of those of the United States and less than a third of China’s, even as it tries to bridge a development gap.
    Kerry said it was “absolutely critical” that India, the United States and others scale up investments in areas including energy storage, clean fuels and decarbonising industries.
    “India, in particular, is a red-hot investment opportunity because of its clean energy transition,” he said.
(Reporting by Neha Arora and Sanjeev Miglani; Editing by Kevin Liffey)

4/6/2021 Malaysia Sends Back Over 300 Containers Of Illicit Plastic Waste
FILE PHOTO: Plastic waste piled outside an illegal recycling factory in Jenjarom, Kuala Langat,
Malaysia October 14, 2018. Picture taken October 14, 2018. REUTERS/Lai Seng Sin
    KUALA LUMPUR (Reuters) – Malaysia said on Tuesday it had sent 267 containers of illegal plastic waste back to their countries of origin since 2019, and was in the process of returning 81 more.
    Malaysia became the destination of choice for the world’s plastic waste after China banned imports in 2018, but is struggling to fend off a deluge of generally unlicensed unrecyclable garbage.
    New U.N. rules on the trade of hazardous waste under the Basel Convention came into force on Jan. 1, intended to discourage the production of hard-to-recycle plastics and to prevent rich countries dumping trash in the developing world, where it often ends up polluting the local environment and the ocean.
    Signatories to the Convention may only trade plastic waste if it is clean, sorted and easy to recycle – unless the importing country has granted an exemption.
    In a statement on Tuesday, Environment Minister Tuan Ibrahim Tuan Man noted how much illicit waste Malaysia had succeeded in intercepting, and promised that shipping companies or agents who broke Malaysia’s environment and import laws would face “strict action.”     The United States, which produces more plastic waste per capita than any other country, is the only major nation not to have ratified the Basel Convention.    However, under the treaty, Malaysia cannot accept prohibited plastic waste from the United States.
(Reporting by Mei Mei Chu; writing by A. Ananthalakshmi; Editing by Kevin Liffey)

4/6/2021 Rescuers Hunt For Survivors After Cyclone Kills 119 In Indonesia by Agustinus Beo Da Costa
A woman cries over her relative who was found dead in after heavy rain brought flash floods in East Flores,
East Nusa Tenggara province, Indonesia April 6, 2021. Antara Foto/Aditya Pradana Putra/via REUTERS
    JAKARTA (Reuters) – Rescuers searched for dozens missing in the remote islands of southeast Indonesia on Tuesday, as reinforcements arrived to help in the aftermath of a tropical cyclone that killed at least 119 people.
    Helicopters were deployed to aid the search, and ships carrying food, water, blankets and medicine reached ports previously blocked by high waves whipped up by tropical cyclone Seroja, which brought heavy rain and triggered deadly floods and landslides on Sunday.
    Indonesia’s disaster agency BNPB revised upwards the death toll from the cyclone in the East Nusa Tenggara islands, after earlier saying 86 had died. Seventy-six people were still missing.
    “The rescue team is moving on the ground.    The weather is good,” BNPB spokesman Raditya Jati told a news briefing.
    Search and rescue personnel, however, had trouble transporting heavy equipment for use in the search.
    “Search for victims is constrained, the existing heavy equipment cannot be sent to their destination, especially in Adonara and Alor,” the head of BNPB, Doni Monardo, said.
    The Adonara and Alor islands were among the islands worst hit by the cyclone, with 62 and 21 people dead respectively.
    Aerial images from Adonara on Tuesday showed brown mud and flood water covering a vast area, burying houses, roads and trees.
    The military and volunteers arrived on the islands on Tuesday and were setting up public kitchens, while medical workers were brought in.
    Video taken by a local official in Tanjung Batu village on Lembata, home to the Ile Lewotolok volcano, showed felled trees and large rocks of cold lava that had crushed homes after being dislodged by the cyclone.
    Thousands of people have been displaced, nearly 2,000 buildings including a hospital were impacted, and more than 100 homes heavily damaged by the cyclone.
    Two people died in nearby West Nusa Tenggara province.
    There were also concerns about possible COVID-19 infections in crowded evacuation centres.
    (GRAPHIC: Floods triggered by tropical cyclone Seroja Floods triggered by tropical cyclone Seroja –
    In neighbouring East Timor, at least 33 were killed in floods and landslides and by falling trees.    Civil defence authorities were using heavy equipment to search for survivors.
    “The number of victims could still increase because many victims have not been found,” the main director of civil protection, Ismael da Costa Babo, told Reuters.
    “They were buried by landslides and carried away by floods.”
    Some residents of Lembata island may have also been washed away by mud into the sea.
    A volcano that erupted on Lembata last month wiped out vegetation atop the mountain, which allowed hardened lava to slide towards 300 houses when the cyclone struck, a senior district official said, hoping help was on the way.
    “We were only able to search on the seashore, not in the deeper area, because of lack of equipment yesterday,” Thomas Ola Langoday told Reuters by phone.
    He feared many bodies were still buried under large rocks.
    President Joko Widodo urged his cabinet to speed up evacuation and relief efforts and to restore power.
    Weather agency head Dwikorita Karnawati said once-rare tropical cyclones were happening more often in Indonesia and climate change could be to blame.
    “Seroja is the first time we’re seeing tremendous impact because it hit the land.    It’s not common,” she said.
(Reporting by Agustinus Beo Da Costa, Stanley Widianto and Bernadette Christina Munthe in Jakarta and Nelson Da Cruz in Dili; Writing by Gayatri Suroyo and Fathin Ungku; Editing by Martin Petty, Tom Hogue and Bernadette Baum)

4/6/2021 New York City Apartment Fire Injures Multiple People, Including Firefighters by OAN Newsroom
NEW YORK – NOVEMBER 19: A fire truck sat outside of a Brooklyn fire house on November 19, 2010
in in the Brooklyn borough of New York City. (Photo by Spencer Platt/Getty Images)
    Authorities in New York City are investigating an eight-alarm fire that injured at least 21 individuals, including 16 firefighters, and displaced more than 200 residents.
    In Queens on Tuesday, first responders said a fire broke out on the top floor of a six-story apartment building around 1 p.m. local time.
    Roughly 400 New York firefighters responded to the blaze, with 130 units on scene.    The Red Cross was able to set up nearby to help those suffering from burns and other injuries.
    Officials said the fire was able to spread so quickly due to a door being left open.
    “The door was open, the occupant fled, left the door open,” FDNY Commissioner Daniel Nigro stated.    “We’ve stressed over the years the seriousness of that if you do unfortunately have a fire in your home or apartment, how important it is to close that door.”
    Witnesses said smoke could be seen for miles, with the fire lasting for about six hours.    Firefighters are still working to determine the cause of the blaze.

4/7/2021 21 Injured, Including 16 Firefighters In NYC Apartment Fire by OAN Newsroom
FDNY. (Photo by Cindy Ord/Getty Images)
    A massive fire broke out in a New York apartment building, which injured at least 21 people, including 16 firefighters.    The blaze erupted on the top floor of a Queens apartment building Tuesday afternoon and resulted in more than 400 firefighters arriving to fight the fire.
    Officials said a resident left his apartment door open while fleeing, which led to the blaze spreading to the entire floor.
    “The fire advanced quickly in what we call a cockloft, the area between the ceiling and the roof,” NYC FIRE Commissioner Daniel Nigro said.    “We’ve stressed over the years the seriousness of that.    If you do unfortunately have a fire in your home, it’s important to close that door.”
    The fire was fully extinguished Wednesday morning. According to reports, more than 200 residents were displaced.

4/8/2021 Climate Change, Rich-Poor Gap, Conflict Likely To Grow: U.S. Intelligence Report by Jonathan Landay and Mark Hosenball
Food is packaged and distributed at the nonprofit New Life Centers' food pantry
in Chicago, Illinois, U.S. March 16, 2021. REUTERS/Daniel Acker
    WASHINGTON (Reuters) – Disease, the rich-poor gap, climate change and conflicts within and among nations will pose greater challenges in coming decades, with the COVID-19 pandemic already worsening some of those problems, a U.S. intelligence report said on Thursday.
    The rivalry between China and a U.S.-led coalition of Western nations likely will intensify, fueled by military power shifts, demographics, technology and “hardening divisions over governance models,” said Global Trends 2040: A More Contested World, produced by the U.S. National Intelligence Council (NIC).
    Regional powers and non-state actors may exert greater influence, with the likely result “a more conflict-prone and volatile geopolitical environment” and weakened international cooperation, it said.
    The report by top U.S. intelligence analysts, which is produced every four years, assessed the political, economic, societal and other trends that likely will shape the national security environment in the next 20 years.
    “Our intent is to help policymakers and citizens … prepare for an array of possible futures,” the authors wrote, noting they make no specific predictions and included input from diverse groups, from American students to African civil society activists.
    Challenges like climate change, disease, financial crises and technological disruption “are likely to manifest more frequently and intensely in almost every region and country,” producing “widespread strains on states and societies as well as shocks that could be catastrophic,” the report said.
    It said the coronavirus pandemic that has killed more than 3 million people marked the greatest “global disruption” since World War Two, with the consequences likely to last for years.
    COVID-19, it said, exposed – and sometimes widened – disparities in healthcare, raised national debts, accelerated nationalism and political polarization, deepened inequality, fueled distrust in government and highlighted failed international cooperation.
    In the process, it is slowing – and possibly reversing – progress in fighting poverty, disease and gender inequality.
    Many problems caused by the pandemic are forecast by the report to grow by 2040.
    “There is a certain set of trends that we’ve identified that seem to be accelerating or made more powerful because of the pandemic,” said an NIC official, speaking on condition of anonymity.
    The report posed five scenarios for what the world might look like in 2040.
    The most optimistic – a “renaissance of democracies” – found that democratic governments would prove “better able to foster scientific research and technological innovation, catalyzing an economic boom,” enabling them to cope with domestic stresses and to stand up to international rivals.
    The most pessimistic scenario – “tragedy and mobilization” – posited how COVID-19 and global warming could devastate global food supplies, leading to riots in Philadelphia that kill “thousands of people.”
    Global Trends 2040: A More Contested World:
(Reporting by Jonathan Landay and Mark Hosenball in Washington; Editing by Tim Ahmann and Peter Cooney)

4/9/2021 Discarded masks litter beaches worldwide, threaten sea life - Discarded masks litter beaches worldwide, threaten sea life by Wayne Parry ASSOCIATED PRESS
    SANDY HOOK, N.J. – To the usual list of foul trash left behind or washed up on beaches around the world, add these: masks and gloves used by people to avoid the coronavirus and then discarded on the sand.
    In the past year, volunteers picking up trash on beaches from the Jersey Shore to California, the United Kingdom and Hong Kong have been finding discarded personal protective equipment.
    The latest example came Wednesday when New Jersey’s Clean Ocean Action environmental group released its annual tally of trash plucked from the state’s shorelines.    In addition to the plastics, cigarette butts and food wrappers that sully the sand each year, the group’s volunteers removed 1,113 masks and other pieces of virus-related protective gear from New Jersey beaches last fall.
    'Used correctly PPE saves lives; disposed of incorrectly it kills marine life,' said Cindy Zipf, the group’s executive director.    'PPE litter is a gross result of the pandemic, and 100% avoidable.    Use PPE properly, then dispose of it properly in a trash can.    It’s not hard and it’s the least we can do for this marvel of a planet we all live on, not to mention ourselves.'
    Discarded masks and gloves started showing up on beaches not long after the virus began circulating widely last year, and continued to appear as quarantine-weary people sought an escape at the beach.
    In the second half of 2020, more than 107,000 items of PPE were collected by volunteers around the world according to the Ocean Conservancy group – a figure its members believe is a vast undercount of the year’s true totals.
    'Once in the environment, disposable PPE act like any other single-use plastic, likely never breaking down but rather breaking up into smaller and smaller pieces and persisting indefinitely,' said Nicholas Mallos, senior director of the Ocean Conservancy’s Trash Free Seas program.    'In fact, a recent study found that a single disposable mask can shed up to 173,000 microfibers – tiny plastic fibers – in a single day.
    'What this means is that the damage is cumulative, adding up over time to the massive amount of plastics already entering our ocean each year,' he said.
    In Northern California, the Pacific Beach Coalition recently noticed a dramatic increase in discarded PPE on beaches in and around the city of Pacifica, south of San Francisco. A cleanup day in San Diego netted 413 latex gloves and more than 700 single-use surgical masks.
    In Scotland, discarded PPE was found on nearly a quarter of the beaches cleaned last fall by the Marine Conservation Society.
    And masks began showing up on Hong Kong beaches in March 2020, in the early days of the pandemic.
    Conservationists have reported sea birds becoming entangled in the ear straps of face masks, and they worry that marine life could eat masks or gloves, mistaking it for food, and suffer serious or fatal consequences.
Volunteers cleaning beaches around the world have discovered and removed significant
quantities of masks, gloves and other personal protective equipment. Wayne Parry/AP

4/9/2021 Earth’s carbon dioxide levels highest in over 3 million years by Doyle Rice, USA TODAY
    The COVID-19 pandemic did nothing to slow the root cause of global warming.
    In fact, the level of carbon dioxide in the Earth’s atmosphere is now higher than it has been in at least 3.6 million years, federal scientists announced Wednesday.
    At that time, sea levels were as much as 78 feet higher, the average temperature was 7 degrees Fahrenheit higher than in pre-industrial times, Greenland was mostly green, and Antarctica had trees.
    Overall, levels of carbon dioxide (CO2) and methane – the two most important greenhouse gases – continued their rise in 2020 despite the economic slowdown caused by the pandemic, scientists from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration say.
    “Human activity is driving climate change,” Colm Sweeney of NOAA’s Global Monitoring Laboratory said in a statement released Wednesday.    “If we want to mitigate the worst impacts, it’s going to take a deliberate focus on reducing fossil fuels emissions to near zero – and even then we’ll need to look for ways to further remove greenhouse gases from the atmosphere.”
    The burning of fossil fuels such as coal, oil and gas releases greenhouse gases such as carbon dioxide and methane, which has caused the temperature of     Earth’s atmosphere to rise to levels that cannot be explained by natural causes, scientists say.
    In the past 20 years, the world’s temperature has risen about two-thirds of a degree, NOAA said.
    “We’re completely certain that the increase in CO2 is warming the planet,” Kate Marvel, a climate scientist at NASA, said this week.
    “I’m even more certain CO2 causes global heating than I am that smoking causes cancer. The world is already more than 2 (degrees) warmer than it was before the Industrial Revolution.”
    Carbon dioxide is called a greenhouse gas because of its ability to trap solar radiation and keep it confined to the atmosphere.
    It is invisible, odorless and colorless yet is responsible for 63% of the warming attributable to all greenhouse gases, according to NOAA’s Earth System Research Laboratory in Colorado.
    The global surface average for carbon dioxide was 412.5 parts per million (ppm) in 2020, rising by 2.6 ppm during the year.    The global rate of increase was the fifth-highest in NOAA’s 63year record.
    The pandemic-fueled economic recession was estimated to have reduced carbon emissions by about 7% in 2020, NOAA said.    Without the economic slowdown, the 2020 increase would have been the highest on record, according to Pieter Tans, senior scientist at NOAA’s Global Monitoring Laboratory.
    NOAA’s analysis showed the annual increase in atmospheric methane for 2020 was 14.7 parts per billion, the largest annual increase recorded since measurements began in 1983.
A refinery owned by Citgo in Lemont, Ill., in 2019. Levels of carbon dioxide
and methane continue to rise. SCOTT OLSON/GETTY IMAGES

4/9/2021 Calif. Proposes $536M Wildfire Prevention Plan by OAN Newsroom
Gov. Gavin Newsom spoke with local and state fire officials while touring an area burned by last year’s Creek Fire
near Shaver Lake in Fresno County, Calif., Thursday, April 8, 2021. (Craig Kohlruss/The Fresno Bee via AP)
    California Gov. Gavin Newsom (D) and state legislative leaders struck a deal on Thursday to put half of the state’s $1 billion wildfire funding towards firefighting and a variety of preventative measures.    The measures include vegetation management, construction of fire-resistant structures and new technology and equipment.
    Natural Resources Agency Secretary Wade Crowfoot said the state is taking a proactive and urgent approach to reducing the risk.    He added Newsom created a task force that identified specific actions the state should take and outlined each measure in the Wildfire and Forest Resilience Action Plan that Newsom released in January.
    “More resources and attention on building wildfire resilience within communities, that includes defensible space, home hardening, evacuation planning, places of refuge, infrastructure hardening,” Crowfoot stated.    “It also includes more investment and focus on building protection around communities.”
    The measure came after last year’s catastrophic fire season and reports of drought conditions that have the potential to become severe.
FILE – In this Sept. 7, 2020, file photo, a firefighter battled the Creek Fire in the Shaver Lake community of Fresno County, Calif.
California will authorize $536 million for wildfire mitigation and forest management projects before the worst of the fire season
strikes later this year, Gov. Gavin Newsom and legislative leaders said Thursday, April 8, 2021. (AP Photo/Noah Berger, File)
    State officials said the Sierra Nevada snowpack stood at 59 percent of its spring average.
    Additionally, California allocated $80 million to hire 1,400 state firefighters in March.
    “The number of inmate crews across the state of California has reduced since last year, but that is a large portion of the additional firefighters that Cal Fire is hiring for this year,” Seth Brow of Cal Fire stated.
    Cal Fire officials said they are working to have new crews trained by May.    Meanwhile, Newsom said the vote on the $536 million proposal is scheduled for Monday.
    If passed, it will go to Newsom for his signature on Tuesday.

4/10/2021 At Least 1 Dead, Many Injured In Possible Tornado In La. by OAN Newsroom
SANTA FE, NM – OCTOBER 11: Raindrops are seen on a window. (Photo by Justin Sullivan/Getty Images)
    Severe weather ripped through Louisiana, killing at least one person and injuring several others.
    Residents in St. Landry Parish were hit by a possible tornado early Saturday morning, as severe weather tears through the South.
    Authorities said around six homes were destroyed, while vehicles were flipped and tossed into the middle of roadways.
    The National Weather Service is determining the size of the possible tornado, as search and rescue crews work to assess the damage.

4/12/2021 St. Vincent Eruption Sets Precedent For COVID-19 Segregation by OAN Newsroom
A cloud of volcanic ash hovers over Kingstown, on the eastern Caribbean island of St. Vincent, Saturday,
April 10, 2021, a day after the La Soufriere volcano erupted. (AP Photo/Lucanus Ollivierre)
    The Caribbean nation of St. Vincent set an early precedent of COVID-19 segregation while evacuating its citizens amid a volcanic eruption.
    According to reports, only those vaccinated from the virus were allowed to board evacuation ships.    Meanwhile, those unvaccinated were left behind to breathe in the toxic volcanic smoke and ash.
    Critics have said St. Vincent has effectively created a “two-tier society” by treating people who reject vaccinations as inferior and second-class citizens.    Even mainstream media has confirmed that COVID-19 segregation is already taking place.
    The eruption in St. Vincent took place on Friday and the nation has, so far, failed to take unvaccinated citizens to safety.    Officials have yet to explain this blatant discrimination against their own citizens.

4/12/2021 DARPA Unveils ‘COVID Microchip,’ Claims Not For Surveillance Purposes by OAN Newsroom
WASHINGTON, DC – JULY 2: A model of COVID-19, known as coronavirus, is seen July 2, 2020 on
Capitol Hill in Washington, DC. (Photo by Saul Loeb-Pool/Getty Images)
    The Pentagon unveiled a coronavirus microchip that it claimed can detect illness and prevent the spread of COVID-19.
    “The tiny green thing in there, you put it underneath your skin and what that tells you is that there are chemical reactions going on inside the body.    And that signal means you’re going to have symptoms tomorrow,” retired Col. Matt Hepburn, an army infectious disease physician said.
    The implant was developed by the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency, or DARPA, which claimed the device cannot be used for surveillance purposes.
    However, the idea to microchip humans due to COVID-19 appears to prove so-called “conspiracy theorists” were right all along.     Hepburn compared the microchip to a check engine light.
    “We can have that information in three to five minutes.    As you truncate that time, as you diagnose and treat, what you do is you stop the infection in its tracks,” Hepburn explained.
    DARPA claimed COVID microchipping would only be used in the military, and there’s no plans for a civilian use of the device.     Critics have said the Democrat Party could mandate such microchipping on a broader scale.

4/13/2021 Excavation unearths Egypt’s 3,000-year-old ‘golden city’ by Asha C. Gilbert, USA TODAY
    Archaeologists have discovered a “lost golden city” in Egypt that dates back to the 14th century B.C.
    In a Facebook post on Thursday, Egyptian archaeologist Zahi Hawass announced the finding of the 3,000-year-old city near Luxor that was around during the reigns of Amenhotep III, Ay and Tutankhamun, also known as King Tut.
    “Many foreign missions searched for this city and never found it."
    “We began our work searching for the mortuary temple of Tutankhamun because the temples of both Horemheb and Ay were found in this area,” Hawass said.
    The mission was able to date the settlement by historical references that consisted of three royal palaces of King Amenhotep III, according to Hawass.     “The discovery of this lost city is the second most important archeological discovery since the tomb of Tutankhamun,” Betsy Brian, professor of Egyptology at Johns Hopkins University, said in the same statement posted to Facebook.
    The excavation of the city began in September 2020, and over time archeologists unearthed “a large city in a good condition of preservation, with almost complete walls, and with rooms filled with tools of daily life.”
    The mission discovered a large number of artifacts including rings, scarabs, colored pottery vessels and mud bricks bearing the royal seal of King Amenhotep III.
    Archaeologists also found two unusual burials of a cow that are under investigation “to determine the nature and purpose of this practice.”
    A burial of a person found with arms outstretched to his side and the remains of a rope wrapped around his knees also is under investigation because of the location and odd positioning of the skeleton.
    In the southern area of the city, the mission found a bakery “complete with ovens and storage pottery."
    “From its size, we can state the kitchen was catering a very large number of workers and employees,” Hawass said.
    An administrative and residential district fenced in by a zigzagging wall with only one entrance point was found in another area.
    According to Hawass, the single entrance may have been used as a form of security.
    While the mission has uncovered many findings, Hawass said further excavations were needed to determine what happened to cause people to leave the city.
    “Work is underway and the mission expects to uncover untouched tombs filled with treasures,” Hawass said.
The “largest city ever discovered in Egypt” was buried in the sand for three millenniua. PROVIDED BY LUXOR TIMES MAGAZINE VIA STORYFUL

4/15/2021 Beijing Skies Turn Yellow As Sand, Dust Engulf Chinese Capital
Pedestrians stand on an overpass above car traffic amid a duststorm
in Beijing, China April 15, 2021. REUTERS/Tingshu Wang
    BEIJING (Reuters) -The skies above Beijing turned yellow and air pollution soared to severe levels as a giant cloud of sand and dust particles rolled into the city, propelled by strong winds from the north of China.
    Beijing’s air quality index rose to 324 as of 4:00 p.m. local time (0800 GMT) on Thursday, mainly due to larger particles of sand and dust, municipal authorities said.
    It worsened in the evening, exceeding 1,300 in some parts of the city, according to the Swiss IQAir app.
    The particles originated from Mongolia and the Chinese region of Inner Mongolia, and high winds are expected to carry the pollutants to central and eastern China by Friday, the China Meteorological Administration said.
    The amount of sand in the air was less than that during two sandstorms in northern China last month, but the wind speed was higher, allowing the dusty weather to travel faster and farther, according to the meteorological administration.
    “I don’t feel good.    We have had several dust storms this year,” said Gary Zi, a 48-year-old Beijing resident working in the finance sector.
    “The (air) quality is much worse than in previous years,” he added.    “Breathing becomes difficult.    Sand gets into your eyes and your nose.”
    China typically blames Mongolia’s Gobi desert for its annual sandstorms.
    Delegates from China’s arid Gansu region said in a proposal to parliament last month that over half of the dust storms that descend on China each year come from abroad, mainly from the south of Mongolia.
    Beijing has been planting millions of trees along its border to block out sandstorms, part of a project known as the “Great Green Wall.”
    “I feel it is all climate change,” said another Beijing resident as he wiped the dust from his motorbike near the China World Trade Center, giving only his surname, Xie.    “(We) can’t do much about it.”
(Reporting by Ryan Woo and Martin Quin Pollard; additional writing by Tom Daly; Editing by Giles Elgood and Janet Lawrence)

4/15/2021 Volcanic Eruptions, Ashfall In St. Vincent Displaces Roughly 20K by OAN Newsroom
Ash rises into the air as La Soufriere volcano erupts on the eastern Caribbean island
of St. Vincent, Tuesday, April 13, 2021. (AP Photo/Orvil Samuel)
    Ongoing volcanic eruptions on St. Vincent are pushing tens-of-thousands of people out of their homes and into shelters around the island.
    On Wednesday, the La Soufrière Volcano continued to explode sending ash and debris in ever direction, in turn, displacing nearly 20,000 people.    Of those displaced, it’s estimated around 4,000 residents are staying in shelters on the island.
    Emergency crews are working to distribute water to those in need.    The volcanic activity began late last week with smoke and ash affecting many of the neighboring islands.
    “We are expected that continuous explosions and ash fall will continue over the coming weeks in St. Vincent and the Grenadines,” stated Didier Trebucq, the United Nations resident coordinator for Barbados and the Eastern Caribbean.    “But also in neighboring islands such as Barbados, which has been also severely affected with the ash fall as well as St. Lucia and Grenada."
    Although the disruption of the area has been extensive, so far there have been no reports of injury or death.    Officials have warned the eruptions could continue for weeks.

4/15/2021 China Summons Japan Ambassador Over Plans To Release Contaminated Fukushima Water Into Sea
FILE PHOTO: An aerial view shows the storage tanks for treated water at the tsunami-crippled Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power
plant in Okuma town, Fukushima prefecture, Japan February 13, 2021, in this photo taken by Kyodo. Kyodo/via REUTERS
    BEIJING (Reuters) -China on Thursday summoned Japan’s ambassador in protest over Japan’s planned release of contaminated water from the destroyed Fukushima nuclear plant and said it would assess possible safety threats to food and agricultural products.
    According to plans unveiled by Japan on Tuesday, the release of more than a million tonnes of contaminated water into the sea from the plant crippled by an earthquake and tsunami in 2011 will start in about two years after filtering it to remove harmful isotopes.
    The plan drew immediate opposition from neighbours South Korea, China and Taiwan.
    China is seriously concerned about the unilateral decision to discharge wastewater from Fukushima into the sea, Ministry of Commerce spokesman Gao Feng said at a regular press conference.
    “We will closely follow the development of the situation and assess possible threats posed to the safety of related food and agricultural products and their trade, to ensure the safety of Chinese consumers,” said Gao.
    China’s foreign ministry said it had summoned Japan’s ambassador to Beijing, Hideo Tarumi, and lodged “solemn representations” over Tokyo’s move.
    “China expresses its strong dissatisfaction and firm opposition,” the Ministry of Foreign Affairs said in a statement, citing Assistant Minister Wu Jianghao as telling Tarumi the decision disregarded the marine environment and the safety of people in neighbouring countries.
    The foreign ministry had earlier said China shared a common stance with South Korea opposing Japan’s action.
(Reporting by Xu Jing, Stella Qiu and Ryan Woo; additional reporting by Tom Daly; Editing by Toby Chopra, Simon Cameron-Moore and Nick Macfie)

4/15/2021 Businesses Urge EU And Britain To Link Their Carbon Markets by Kate Abnett
FILE PHOTO: Smoke billows from the chimneys of Belchatow Power Station, Europe's biggest coal-fired
power plant, in this May 7, 2009 file photo. REUTERS/Peter Andrews/File Photo
    BRUSSELS (Reuters) – Energy firms, businesses and traders from the European Union and Britain on Thursday urged the two sides to link their carbon markets, a move they said would help them fight climate change.
    Britain quit the EU emissions trading system (ETS) at the end of 2020 as part of Brexit and has since set up a UK carbon market, with the first auction of permits due next month.
    Brussels and London agreed in a post-Brexit trade deal to consider linking the schemes, which would allow UK firms to buy EU carbon permits and vice versa, but negotiations to do so have not yet begun.
    “We urge the EU to start the process of linking the EU Emissions Trading System with the new UK Emissions Trading System as soon as practicable,” 42 groups, many representing industries covered by the carbon markets, said in letters to the European Commission and the UK government.
    Signatories included power industry group Eurelectric, the Confederation of British Industry, the European Federation of Energy Traders and groups representing metals, chemicals and ceramics manufacturers.
    Eurogas secretary general James Watson said a link would create a more liquid market and avoid administrative burdens for firms with operations in both the EU and Britain.
    The EU Commission would need a green light from member states to start negotiations with Britain on a link, a representative for the body said.
    A UK government spokeswoman said it was considering a range of options for how the UK ETS could work with other carbon markets.
    The EU plans to reform its ETS, including by expanding it to shipping, and possibly buildings and transport.    Currently, the design of the EU and UK schemes is similar, but future reforms could change that, making a link more complex.
    Analysts have said that without a link, permit prices in the UK ETS could rise quickly once trading begins, since there will be high demand and little supply of UK permits.
(Reporting by Kate Abnett; Additional reporting by Susanna Twidale; Editing by Jan Harvey)

4/16/2021 Leaders Of Germany, France Discuss Climate Policies With China’s Xi: Statement
German Chancellor Angela Merkel speaks during a session of the lower house of parliament Bundestag debating
the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) measures, in Berlin, Germany, April 16, 2021. REUTERS/Michele Tantussi
    BERLIN (Reuters) – The leaders of Germany and France welcomed Beijing’s aim to reach climate neutrality in its carbon dioxide emissions before 2060 in a video conference with China’s President Xi Jinping on Friday, according to a statement.
    German Chancellor Angela Merkel, French President Emmanuel Macron and Xi used the meeting to exchange their views on climate protection ahead of a virtual climate summit which the United States will host on April 22 and 23, the chancellery in Berlin said.
(Reporting by Sabine Siebold; Editing by Maria Sheahan)

4/16/2021 China’s Xi Ready To Step Up Climate Change Cooperation With France, Germany
FILE PHOTO: Chinese President Xi Jinping applauds at the closing session of the Chinese People's Political Consultative
Conference (CPPCC) at the Great Hall of the People in Beijing, China March 10, 2021. REUTERS/Carlos Garcia Rawlins
    BEIJING (Reuters) -China is willing to strengthen cooperation with France and Germany to cope with climate change, President Xi Jinping told his French counterpart Emmanuel Macron and German Chancellor Angela Merkel, Chinese state media reported on Friday.
    Xi last year announced that China, the world’s biggest emitter of greenhouse gases, would achieve a peak in carbon dioxide emissions before 2030 and carbon neutrality by 2060.
    “Responding to climate change is a common cause of all mankind and it should not become a geopolitical bargaining chip, a target for attacks on other countries or an excuse for trade barriers,” the official Xinhua news agency cited Xi as saying in a video summit with the European>     The U.S. State Department, then under the Trump administration, said in September that China had showed “willful disregard” for air, land and water quality, and was putting global health at risk with its greenhouse gases, drawing a sharp rebuke from Beijing.
    The video summit came as U.S. special climate envoy John Kerry was in Shanghai for talks with his Chinese counterpart Xie Zhenhua.
    China-EU relations face new opportunities and various challenges, Xinhua cited Xi as saying, adding that Beijing would create a fair and non-discriminatory environment for foreign companies including French and German firms, and hopes Europe can treat Chinese companies in the same positive way.
(Reporting by Judy Hua, Lusha Zhang and Kevin Yao; Additional reporting by Tom Daly; Editing by Toby Chopra and Alexander Smith)

4/16/2021 NASA Announces SpaceX Crew-2 Ahead Of April 22 Launch by OAN Newsroom
SpaceX Crew 2 members, from left, European Space Agency astronaut Thomas Pesquet, NASA astronauts Megan McArthur and Shane Kimbrough
and Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency astronaut Akihiko Hoshide gather at the Kennedy Space Center in Cape Canaveral, Fla.,
Friday, April 16, 2021 to prepare for a mission to the International Space Station. The launch is targeted for April 22. (AP Photo/John Raoux)
    NASA’s SpaceX Crew-2 held a press conference to discuss their upcoming mission to the International Space Station.    The four astronauts in the crew were introduced at the press conference Friday at Florida’s Kennedy Space Center in Cape Canaveral.
    The Crew-2 mission will launch from NASA’s historic Pad 39A at Kennedy Space Center on April 22.    A SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket and the Crew Dragon Endeavor will launch the mission.
    “We came in on the plane over here, got to fly by the CR rocket, getting ready to go and it’s an amazing feeling,” NASA Pilot Megan McArthur said.    “I have gone by before and there is really nothing like it when you look out the window and see a spaceship you’ll be on in a few days.”
SpaceX Crew 2 member, NASA astronaut Megan McArthur waves as she arrives at the Kennedy Space Center in Cape Canaveral, Fla.,
Friday, April 16, 2021. The launch to the International Space Station is targeted for April 22. (AP Photo/John Raoux)
The four astronauts will join seven others at the Space Station when they arrive on April 23.

4/16/2021 NASA Says SpaceX Wins $2.9 Billion Contract For Moon Lander, With 2024 Goal
FILE PHOTO: Tourists take pictures of a NASA sign at the Kennedy Space Center visitors complex
in Cape Canaveral, Florida April 14, 2010. REUTERS/Carlos Barria/File Photo
    WASHINGTON (Reuters) - NASA said on Friday it has awarded billionaire entrepreneur Elon Musk’s private space company SpaceX a $2.9 billion contract to build a spacecraft to bring astronauts to the moon as early as 2024, picking it over Jeff Bezos’ Blue Origin and defense contractor Dynetics Inc.
    The bid by Tesla Inc chief Musk beat one from Inc’s founder Jeff Bezos, who had partnered with Lockheed Martin Corp, Northrop Grumman Corp and Draper.    Bezos also owns the Washington Post.
    The U.S. space agency made the announcement of the contract for the first commercial human lander, part of NASA’s as part of the Artemis program, in a video conference.    NASA said the lander will carry the two American astronauts to the lunar surface.
    “We should accomplish the next landing as soon as possible,” said Steve Jurczyk, NASA’s acting administrator.    “This is an incredible time to be involved in human exploration, for all humanity.”
    “If they hit their milestones we have a shot at 2024,” Jurczyk added.
    NASA said it would require a test flight to the moon before humans make the flight.
    “In addition, NASA is requiring a test flight to fully check out all systems with a landing on the lunar surface prior to our formal demonstration mission,” NASA official Lisa Watson-Morgan told reporters.
    NASA official Mark Kirasich said the agency hopes to see all three of the companies that competed for the initial moon landing vying to provide recurring transportation to the moon.
    “We have to be able to provide for recurring lunar services,” said Kirasich, deputy associate administrator for NASA’s Advanced Exploration Systems division, adding that NASA will work on a follow-on competition for “regularly recurring” lunar missions.
    The NASA announcement added to an extraordinary run for Musk, who is one of the world’s richest people thanks to his 22% stake in electric car maker Tesla Inc.
    Tesla has become the world’s most-valuable automaker, with a market capitalization of $702 billion, far surpassing the auto industry’s giants.    Musk has become a one-person technology conglomerate, launching or controlling companies pursuing space flight, electric cars, neural implants and subterranean tunnel boring.
    A factor in the choice of SpaceX was “what’s the best value to the government,” said Kathy Lueders, associate administrator for NASA’s Human Exploration and Operations Mission Directorate.
    NASA said in a news release that SpaceX’s HLS Starship, designed to land on the moon, “leans on the company’s tested Raptor engines and flight heritage of the Falcon and Dragon vehicles.”    It said Starship includes a spacious cabin and two airlocks for astronaut moon walks and that its architecture is intended to evolve to a fully reusable launch and landing system designed for travel to the Moon, Mars and other destinations in space.
    NASA’s decision was a setback for Bezos, a lifelong space enthusiast and one of the world’s richest people, who is now more focused on his space venture after having announced in February he would step down as Amazon CEO.
    The contract was seen by Bezos and other executives as vital to Blue Origin establishing itself as a desired partner for NASA, and also putting the venture on the road to turning a profit, Reuters had reported in February.
    SpaceX announced on Wednesday it had raised about $1.16 billion in equity financing.
    Musk has outlined an ambitious agenda for SpaceX and its reusable rockets, including landing humans on Mars.    But in the near term, SpaceX’s main business has been launching satellites for Musk’s Starlink internet venture, and other satellites and space cargo.
    Unlike the Apollo lunar landings from 1969 to 1972, NASA now is gearing up for a long-term presence on the moon that it envisions as a steppingstone to an even more ambitious plan to send astronauts to reach Mars.    NASA is leaning heavily on private companies built around shared visions for space exploration.
    An uncrewed SpaceX Starship prototype rocket failed to land safely on March 30 after a test launch from Boca Chica, Texas.    The Starship was one in a series of prototypes for the heavy-lift rocket being developed by SpaceX to carry humans and 100 tons of cargo on future missions to the moon and Mars.    A first orbital Starship flight is planned for year’s end.
(Reporting by Susan Heavey in Washington and Munsif Vengattil in Bengaluru; Writing by Will Dunham; Editing by Chris Reese, Nick Zieminski and Ramakrishnan M.)

4/17/2021 Secy. Of Interior Revokes 12 Trump Admin. Climate Policies by OAN Newsroom
    U.S. Interior Secretary Deb Haaland looked on during a news conference following
a visit to Bears Ears National Monument Thursday, April 8, 2021, in Blanding, Utah. (AP Photo/Rick Bowmer)
    Interior Secretary Deb Haaland is chipping away at several of President Trump’s environmental policies to advance Joe Biden’s climate agenda.
    On Friday, Haaland revoked 12 Trump-era polices, including a moratorium on coal leasing and efforts to develop infrastructure on public land.    She also created a task force to assist Biden in his crusade to tackle so called “climate change.”
U.S. Interior Secretary Deb Haaland spoke on April 8, 2021, in Blanding, Utah. (AP Photo/Rick Bowmer)
    “The order also provides guidance on how science may be used in the decision making process, and will improve transparency and public engagement in our decision making process,” Haaland explained.
    In the meantime, Haaland is directing her agency to review the federal fossil.

4/17/2021 FOXNEWS UFOS.

    When I was 10 years old in 1961, I was lying on a lawn chair in the backyard at my home in Franklin, Kentucky on a nice summer evening while looking up at the stars.    All of sudden this black triangular object floated into my view from the top of my head coming from the south and going north.    I could see the silhouette of the object against the background of the stars.    It had the three dome-shaped lights at each point of the triangle, and one in the middle, with all glowing.    I estimated it to be about 100 feet above me, but it could have been more depending on its actual size.    It moved over me at a slow pace with no sound, and was out of my sight in about 10 seconds.
    I was 10 years old and did not think anyone would believe me if I told them what I saw, although on the news that week there were reports from individuals who had seen UFOs in the Nashville, Tennessee area.
    If you have read my website at may know, that at 10 years of age I was already out looking at the stars at night.    So, my destiny to understand the Mazzaroth had already started.    In a science classroom I told my teacher that I could see the stars changing colors.    She told me that this was an optical illusion due to the Earth's atmosphere.    This of course inspired me to become interested in science and physics.
    I was not abducted or anything that night or I would have remembered it.    But then you never know what may have happened, and if that event did affect me in any way.
    I do not believe that the craft I saw was made by the government, because if we had that kind of technology in 1961, then we would have not used clunky old rockets to go to the moon, just as we are still doing even today.    So below is some images of possible unidentified flying objects seen in previous years.    And by the way in the future an entire neighborhood of people in Arizona saw the same thing and also in my later years a famous person who worked at the Griffith Observatory in Los Angeles had the same image on the front of his book.
    The reason I released this again is the following article and images may be formidable to compare to what I experienced as seen on FoxNews on Tucker Carlson’s show on 4/16/2021 at 7:00 P.M. CST present by Jeremy Corbell.



    Eventhough the images are fuzzy you can clearly see the triangle of lights at each of the apex of the objects shape and in some the center light as the ones I saw in 1961 and this device is flying at speeds that our present best fighter jets can barely stay up with these unidentified flying objects or UFO's.

4/19/2021 Firefighters Contain Windswept Blaze On S.Africa’s Table Mountain
Residents and voluntary firefighters battle to contain a fire fanned by strong winds on the
slopes of Table Mountain in Cape Town, South Africa, April 19, 2021. REUTERS/Mike Hutchings
    CAPE TOWN (Reuters) – South African firefighters contained a wildfire along Cape Town’s Table Mountain on Monday more than 24 hours after it began, damaging historical sites and forcing people to evacuate their homes and schools to close.
    Video Player is loading.
    Winds of up to 45 kilometres per hour put water-bombing helicopters out of action and more than 250 firefighters were tackling fast-spreading flare-ups from the ground only.
    Officials believe the blaze may have been started deliberately and a suspect was detained on Sunday evening.    They also said it was one of the most damaging cultural heritage fires ever.
    “With regards to the damage to historical buildings, it is quite substantial,” said Arlene Wehr, the incident commander at the city’s fire services, at a media briefing.
    City of Cape Town mayor, Dan Plato, described the fire, which has so far destroyed more than 400 hectares of vegetation in the Table Mountain National Park, as one of the biggest in the city’s recent history.
    The fire started early Sunday morning on the slopes of Devils’ Peak, another part of Cape Town’s mountainous backdrop, forcing University of Cape Town students to evacuate residences as runaway flames set several campus buildings ablaze, including a library housing historic books and scripts.
    Other properties damaged includes the popular hikers’ restaurant at Rhodes memorial and the thatch-roofed Mostert Mill, built around 1796 and South Africa’s oldest working mill.
    “It is not only the historic buildings themselves that have been lost, but their contents and collections,” said the Cape Town Heritage Trust in a statement.
    Two firefighters sustained burn wounds and were hospitalised for treatment, officials said, as a change in wind direction saw the fire spread rapidly towards the city bowl overnight.
    All schools in the Vredehoek area were asked to evacuate, a disaster management spokeswoman said, adding that homes used to accommodate travelling cabinet ministers in Walmer Estate were also being cleared.
    A city councillor confirmed one suspect was arrested last night on Devil’s Peak after confessing that he had deliberately started an additional fire in the Vredehoek area. Authorities are investigating whether the man, who lives rough in the bush, was responsible for the first fire close to UCT.
    Cape Town, which is coming to the end of its high fire alert season at the end of April, regularly battles fires close to the inner city, with the last large fire in 2020, although climate change and higher temperatures are a concern.
(Reporting by Wendell Roelf; Editing by Raissa Kasolowsky)

4/19/2021 Pacific Ocean Storm Intensifies Into Year’s First Super Typhoon by Kanupriya Kapoor and Karen Lema
    Waves crash the shore as Super Typhoon Surigae moves close to the Philippines
in the province of Catbalogan, Samar, Philippines April 18, 2021. DJ RJ RENE CASTINO via REUTERS
    MANILA (Reuters) -Strong winds and high waves lashed the eastern Philippines on Monday as the strongest typhoon ever recorded in April barrelled past in the Pacific Ocean, killing one man and triggering flooding in lower-lying communities, disaster officials said.
    The national weather bureau issued a severe wind and heavy rainfall warning on Monday, saying “destructive typhoon-force winds extend outward up to 110 km (68.35 miles) from the centre of the storm.”
    More than 100,000 people were evacuated from coastal areas, according to provincial disaster agencies.
    The core of Surigae, or Bising as the storm is known locally, is not expected to hit land. But with a diameter of 500 km and winds reaching 195 km per hour, parts of the eastern islands of Samar experienced flooding, while several communities lost power.
    The first super typhoon of 2021 foreshadows a busy storm season for the region in the year ahead, experts say.
    “Early indications are that the 2021 typhoon season will be at least average in activity, and possibly above average,” U.S. meteorologist Jeff Masters wrote in a post on Yale Climate Connections’ website, which reports daily on climate conditions.
    Atmospheric scientists say data shows that storms, called typhoons, cyclones or hurricanes in different parts of the world, are getting stronger because of global warming.
    “The fuel for these storms is warm oceans,” said Anne-Claire Fontan, a scientific officer at the World Meteorological Organization based in Geneva.
    “The global trend is that they are getting stronger, and a higher percentage of total storms will be stronger.”
    A warmer atmosphere holds more moisture, allowing gale force winds to dump more rain. In particular, water temperature in the western Pacific Ocean is higher than the global average, making it fertile ground for mega storms like Surigae.    The region sees more storms than any other part of the world, more than 70% of which develop at the peak of the season between July and October.
    Disaster officials said a 79-year old man from Southern Leyte province in the Philippines was confirmed dead after he was hit by a fallen tree and one person was missing.
    The Philippines sees around 20 tropical storms annually.    Last year, the strongest typhoon of the year, Goni, hit the country with gusts of up to 310 km per hour, killing 25 people and forcing the evacuation of more than 345,000.
    Taiwan, meanwhile, is hoping the storm brings much-needed rain to alleviate a drought, with people taking to social media to welcome it.    However, it is expected to veer away from Taiwan out into the Pacific, bringing rain only to the northern part of the island later this week.
(Reporting by Kanupriya Kapoor in Singapore; Additional reporting by Ben Blanchard in Taipei and Karen Lema in Manila; Editing by Susan Fenton)

4/19/2021 Blinken To Call On U.S. Diplomats To Challenge Countries Lagging On Climate
FILE PHOTO: U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken speaks during a news conference at NATO's
headquarters in Brussels, Belgium April 14, 2021. Kenzo Tribouillard/Pool via REUTERS/File Photo
    WASHINGTON (Reuters) – U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken will on Monday call on American diplomats around the world to challenge nations whose actions set back efforts to address climate change, according to prepared remarks.
    Blinken was set to deliver his first address on climate change in Annapolis, Maryland, on Monday ahead of a U.S.-hosted virtual summit this week, where world leaders will discuss action on the climate.
    “Our diplomats will challenge the practices of countries whose action – or inaction – is setting us back,” Blinken will say, according to prepared remarks.
    “When countries continue to rely on coal for a significant amount of their energy, or invest in new coal factories, or allow for massive deforestation, they will hear from the United States and our partners about how harmful these actions are.”
(Reporting by Simon Lewis and Valerie Volcovici; Editing by Steve Orlofsky)

4/20/2021 NASA’s Mars helicopter takes flight by Marcia Dunn, ASSOCIATED PRESS
    CAPE CANAVERAL, Fla. – NASA’s experimental helicopter Ingenuity rose into the thin air above the dusty red surface of Mars on Monday, achieving the first powered flight by an aircraft on another planet.
    The triumph was hailed as a Wright brothers’ moment.    The mini-4-pound copter even carried a bit of wing fabric from the Wright Flyer that made similar history at Kitty Hawk, North Carolina, in 1903.
    It was a brief hop – just 39 seconds and 10 feet – but accomplished all the major milestones.
    “We’ve been talking so long about our Wright brother’s moment, and here it is,” said project manager MiMi Aung, offering a virtual hug to her socially distanced colleagues in the control room as well as those at home because of the coronavirus pandemic.    Flight controllers at NASA’s Jet Propulsion     Laboratory in California declared success after receiving the data and images via the Perseverance rover.    Ingenuity hitched a ride to Mars on Perseverance, clinging to the rover’s belly when it touched down in an ancient river delta in February.
    The $85 million helicopter demo was considered high risk, yet high reward.
    Scientists cheered the news from around the world, even from space, and the White House offered its congratulations.
    Ground controllers had to wait more than three excruciating hours before learning whether the preprogrammed flight had succeeded 178 million miles away.    The first attempt had been delayed a week because of a software error.
    When the news finally came, the operations center filled with applause, cheers and laughter.    More followed when the first black and white photo from Ingenuity appeared, showing the helicopter’s shadow as it hovered above the surface of Mars.
    “The shadow of greatness, #Mars-Helicopter first flight on another world complete!” NASA astronaut Victor Glover tweeted from the International Space Station.
    Next came stunning color video of the copter’s clean landing, taken by Perseverance, “the best host little Ingenuity could ever hope for,” Aung said in thanking everyone.
    The helicopter hovered for 30 seconds at its intended altitude of 10 feet, and spent 39 seconds airborne, more than three times longer than the first successful flight of the Wright Flyer, which lasted a mere 12 seconds on Dec. 17, 1903.
    To accomplish all this, the helicopter’s twin, counter-rotating rotor blades needed to spin at 2,500 revolutions per minute – five times faster than on Earth.    With an atmosphere just 1% the thickness of Earth’s, engineers had to build a helicopter light enough – with blades spinning fast enough – to generate this otherworldly lift.
    More than six years in the making, Ingenuity is just 19 inches tall, a spindly four-legged chopper.    Its fuselage, containing all the batteries, heaters and sensors, is the size of a tissue box.    The carbon-fiber, foam-filled rotors are the biggest pieces: Each pair stretches 4 feet tip to tip.
NASA’s Ingenuity helicopter took this photo while hovering over the surface of Mars on Monday during the
first instance of powered, controlled flight on another planet. NASA/JPL-CALTECH VIA GETTY IMAGES

4/20/2021 As Climate Change Thaws Mountain Tops, Risks Of Rockfalls Surge by Emma Farge
Andrin Caviezel (L), researcher at the WSL Institute for Snow and Avalanche Research (SLF) places a measuring sensor into a 3.200kg
ferroconcret block before rockfall experiments in Schiers, Switzerland April 15, 2021. Picture taken April 15, 2021. REUTERS/Arnd Wiegmann
    SCHIERS, Switzerland (Reuters) – As a scientist counts down “3-2-1”, five neon-colored orbs are lowered from a helicopter hovering overhead and released.     The orbs barrel down the Swiss mountain, toppling beech and spruce trees as they pick up speed.
    These “test rocks” – the heaviest weighing 3,200 kilograms (7,000 lbs)– are part of research aimed at understanding the growing risk of rockfalls around the world.
    As climate change warms high-altitude mountain regions, boulders and rocks long frozen into place are being loosed and tumbling downslope.
    “All of this is going in one direction: more unstable,” said Christian Huggel, a glaciologist at the University of Zurich who was not involved in the mountain experiments.
    “It’s getting more dangerous, and especially more dangerous if you have massive investments in hazard-prone areas.”
    The world was horrified in February, when a hunk of rock and ice broke from a Himalayan peak and swept down the mountain, killing more than 200 people and wiping out a hydroelectric dam in its path.
    “Where a rock will land, how it will bounce, how high it will jump … we can answer all that,” said physicist Andrin Caviezel, one of the scientists tracing the cartoon-colored orbs down Schraubachtobel Mountain, near Switzerland’s eastern border with Liechtenstein.
    Though the team’s test rocks started from the same spot, they each took a different path.    The orange orb got trapped behind a tree stump.    The pink one broke through a stone barrier to land, chipped and battered, in a stream bed.     “We took bets on whether they would get stuck or not,” Caviezel said, laughing. “I lost.”
    Over three years, the team from the Swiss Federal Institute for Forest, Snow and Landscape Research has hurled their faux boulders down different mountains hundreds of times, gathering data for a computer simulation aimed at estimating a boulder’s landing spot to within a meter.
    “But we will never answer the ‘when’,” Caviezel said.    “That was never in our model.”
    One night in July 2018 made Valais canton resident Robert Sarbach feel helpless – and terrified. Under a heavy downpour, a chunk of Ritigraben rock glacier broke away, sending waves of debris down to the valley below.
    “It was intense and emotional,” Sarbach recalled.    “In the night you can see nothing.    But you can hear the stones falling, and the water. And you smell the earth.”
    Scientists do not have much data on rockfalls, partly because they often happen in remote regions where few people live.    New technologies are helping to detect more of the bigger rockfalls, though.
    Seismic sensors clued scientists into an otherwise unreported rockslide in Tibet last month, with an estimated 40 million cubic meters of debris – enough to fill about 16,000 Olympic-sized swimming pools – crashing down in remote Yarlung Tsangpo.
    That kind of technology could help detect disasters in the Himalayas, where many of the countries have fewer resources for search and rescue, said David Petley, an Earth scientist at the University of Sheffield who maintains a blog on landslides.
    “In Switzerland, authorities would probably mobilise all resources to help you,” Petley said.    “In Nepal, you are probably on your own.”
    Still, for years evidence has suggested that landslides are already becoming more frequent.    One 2012 study by Huggel and colleagues published in Geology Today found a “strong increase” in the number of significant Alpine rock slope failures coinciding with warmer temperatures from the 1980s onward.
    But permafrost covers only about 4% of Switzerland’s area, which limits the country’s rockfall exposure.    In Alaska, where nearly 85% of the land contains some amount of permafrost, the danger may be higher.
    One area of Alaska’s Saint Elias Mountains that typically sees six rock avalanches per year on average experienced a total of 41 during the unseasonably warm years of 2013-2016, according to a 2020 study published in the journal Frontiers in Earth Science.
    Of particular worry are the U.S. state’s coastal mountains, where a mass of rocks falling into the water can trigger big waves.    The collapse of a mountain face at Taan Fjord in 2015 dumped a mass of rock into the water, unleashing a 193-meter (633-foot) tsunami in the Gulf of Alaska’s Icy Bay, according to the U.S. National Park Service.
    No one was injured, but the event raised alarms about such events occurring in the more heavily trafficked areas of Prince William Sound, visited by cruise ships and other vessels.
    “That is the worst-case scenario that haunts me a little bit,” said Ronald Daanen, a geohydrologist with the Alaska Division of Geological and Geophysical Surveys.
    The fact that climate change is also altering precipitation patterns can raise danger levels.    Where frequent snowfall once replenished the ice caps, heavy rain might fall instead. That water can further eat into icy areas and trigger landslides.
    On the lower slopes of Switzerland’s Meretschihorn mountain, one couple had to be evacuated five times last year.    Fearing a large rainfall-induced debris surge, officials are negotiating to permanently remove them from the risky area.
    “We are not prepared” around the world for this risk, said Marta Chiarle, a geologist at Italy’s National Research Council.    “My impression is still that we are not taking this seriously.”
(Reporting by Emma Farge; Additional reporting by Yereth Rosen in Anchorage, Alaska, Agustin Geist in Buenos Aires; Editing by Katy Daigle and Lisa Shumaker)

4/21/2021 NASA Administrator Nominee Shares Timeline, Future Plans For U.S. Space Exploration by OAN Newsroom
DC, UNITED STATES: This 20 July 1969 file photo released by NASA shows astronaut Edwin E. “Buzz” Aldrin, Jr. saluting the
US flag on the surface of the Moon during the Apollo 11 lunar mission. (Photo credit should read NASA/AFP via Getty Images)
    Joe Biden’s nominee for NASA administrator has gained bipartisan support from lawmakers during a congressional hearing.
    Testifying in front of the Senate Commerce Science and Transportation Committee Wednesday, former Florida Senator Bill Nelson (D) said he was excited about the future of NASA.    He even shared his confidence about reaching the moon by>     Nelson said he wants numerous projects to be carried out on time, such as getting to Mars in the 2030s.    He added, these new projects would be the result of multiple presidents’ work.
    “At the end of the year — perhaps early next year — you’re going to see the largest rocket ever, [the] most powerful, launched that is going to be the workhorse of the program of going back to the moon,” NASA administrator nominee Bill Nelson said.    “These projects are not one administration, they’re many. It’s like building an aircraft carrier.    You start it and it’ll take you years down the road.”
    Nelson emphasized, there is a lot of excitement about NASA’s future.

4/21/2021 Sen. Susan Collins Joins Dems To Undo President Trump’s Methane Policies by OAN Newsroom
WASHINGTON, DC – APRIL 20: Senate Appropriations Committee member Sen. Susan Collins (R-ME) listens to testimony from members of the Biden
administration during a hearing in the Dirksen Senate Office Building on Capitol Hill on April 20, 2021 in Washington, DC. (Photo by Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images)
    Republican Senator Susan Collins (Maine) has joined Democrats to overturn a Trump administration rollback of methane emissions.
    This week, the GOP senator said she will co-sponsor legislation to axe the Trump-era rule by using the Congressional Review Act (CRA).    The CRA would allow Congress to get rid of regulations completed in the prior 60 legislative days.
(Photo by Christopher Furlong/Getty Images)
    The rule had eased regulations on U.S. energy producers as part of President Trump’s greater effort to roll back a series of Obama-era policies. It lifted requirements to monitor and limit methane leaks from wells, pipelines and other operations.
    Collins has joined Democrats to once again limit methane emissions as they battle so-called climate change.

4/22/2021 Biden wants greenhouse gases halved by Matthew Daly, ASSOCIATED PRESS
    WASHINGTON – President Joe Biden will pledge to cut U.S. greenhouse gas emissions at least in half by 2030 as he convenes a virtual climate summit with 40 world leaders, according to three people with knowledge of the White House plans.
    The 50% target would nearly double America’s previous commitment and help the Biden administration prod other countries for ambitious emissions cuts as well.
    The proposal would require dramatic changes in the power and transportation sectors, including significant increases in renewable energy such as wind and solar power and steep cuts in emissions from fossil fuels such as coal and oil.
    The nonbinding but symbolically important pledge is a key element of the two-day summit, which begins Thursday when world leaders gather online to share strategies to combat climate change.
    China announced Wednesday that President Xi Jinping will participate.    China is the world’s largest carbon polluter, with the U.S. second.
    The U.S. emissions target has been eagerly awaited by all sides of the climate debate.    It will signal how aggressively Biden wants to move on global warming, a divisive and expensive issue that has riled Republicans who complain about job-killing government overreach even as some on the left think Biden has not gone far enough to address a profound threat to the planet.
    Administration officials promised significant announcements on emissions cuts but would not confirm the U.S. goal before the summit.
    The European Union on Wednesday reached a tentative deal intended to make the 27-nation bloc carbon-neutral by 2050.
    The agreement commits the EU to an intermediate target of cutting greenhouse gas emissions by at least 55% by 2030 compared with 1990 levels.
    Biden has sought to ensure that his 2030 goal, known as a Nationally Determined Contribution, or NDC, is aggressive enough to have a tangible impact on climate change efforts – not only in the U.S. but throughout the world – while also being achievable under a closely divided Congress.
    The climate target is a key requirement of the 2015 Paris climate agreement, which Biden rejoined on his first day in office. It’s also an important marker as Biden moves toward his ultimate goal of net-zero carbon emissions by 2050.
    Scientists, environmental groups and even business leaders had called on Biden to set a target that would cut U.S. greenhouse gas emissions by at least 50% below 2005 levels by 2030.
    “Wow.    That’s ambition with a capital A,” Georgia Tech climate scientist Kim Cobb said Tuesday after learning of Biden’s plans.    “That target would put us roughly in line with the most ambitious emissions reductions targets” projected by scientists and environmentalists.
    Cobb, like other experts, said details of Biden’s strategy will be crucial, “because those details will likely determine whether this ambitious new goal can be translated into policy.    The clock is ticking fast, environmentally and politically.”
President Joe Biden rejoined the 2015 Paris climate accord on his first day in office and
has made action on climate change a high priority. EVAN VUCCI/AP

4/22/2021 135M people in the US breathe polluted air, group’s study says by Doyle Rice, USA TODAY
    The air we breathe continues to be unhealthy for many Americans, according to a new report released Wednesday by the American Lung Association.
    In fact, more than 4 out of 10 Americans (135 million people) live where the air is polluted, the report states.    In addition, the report found that people of color were 61% more likely to live in a county with unhealthy air than white people.
    The association’s 22nd annual “State of the Air” report also said climate change continues to make air pollution worse.
    “This report shines a spotlight on the urgent need to curb climate change, clean up air pollution and advance environmental justice,” said American Lung Association president and CEO Harold Wimmer in a statement.
    The 2021 report covers data from the years 2017-19, so any pollution decreases in the past year because of the nationwide COVID-19 lockdown were not included.    (Those three years had the most recent quality-assured data from the Environmental Protection Agency.)    The three years of 2017, 2018 and 2019 were also among the six hottest in recorded global history.    The report said that climate change continues to make air pollution worse; many Western communities again experienced recordbreaking spikes in pollution largely because of smoke from wildfires.
    The report deals with the two main types of air pollution that plague the U.S.: smog (also known as ground-level ozone) and soot (technically known as “particulate matter”).
    Smog forms on warm, sunny days and is made worse by chemicals that exit vehicle tailpipes and power plant and industrial smokestacks. Warmer temperatures make ozone more likely to form.
    Soot pollution is deadlier and more of a health hazard than smog, causing more premature deaths and lung cancer, the lung association said.
    California once again had the nation’s most polluted cities, primarily because of its geography and weather.    Los Angeles, Bakersfield and Visalia topped the list for smog; Bakersfield, Fresno and Visalia led the way for soot pollution.
    The nation’s cleanest cities, according to the report, were Burlington, Vermont; Charlottesville, Virginia; Elmira-Corning, New York; Honolulu; and Wilmington, North Carolina.
The buildings of downtown Los Angeles are partially obscured from Pasadena, Calif.,
in 2019. Los Angeles is known for its smog. MARIO TAMA/GETTY IMAGES

4/22/2021 Kerry Falsely Claims To ‘Remove CO2 From Atmosphere’ by OAN Newsroom
WASHINGTON, DC – APRIL 22: Special Presidential Envoy for Climate and former Secretary of State John Kerry speaks during a daily press
briefing at the James Brady Press Briefing Room of the White House April 22, 2021 in Washington, DC. (Photo by Alex Wong/Getty Images)
    Joe Biden’s Climate Envoy John Kerry made anti-scientific remarks about CO2 at the Virtual Climate Summit.    As scientists have always said, CO2 is a natural part of the Earth’s atmosphere and it serves as food for plants and trees that process CO2 into oxygen.
    “Even if we get to net zero,” Kerry claimed.    “We still have to get carbon dioxide out of the atmosphere.    So this is a bigger challenge than a lot of people have really grabbed onto.”
    Kerry does not appear to know how photosynthesis works.Creating a net zero economy and doing it as rapidly as possible is an enormous challenge,” Kerry continued.    “It will require mobilizing finance at an absolutely unprecedented level. It will require governments to help facilitate the net zero transition around the world.”
    Meanwhile, Biden’s climate envoy has continued to face criticism for traveling exclusively on private jets, which emit 40 times as much carbon per passenger as commercial flights.

4/22/2021 U.S., Other Countries Deepen Climate Goals At Earth Day Summit by Jeff Mason and Valerie Volcovici
FILE PHOTO: Chemical plants and refineries near the Houston Ship Channel are seen next to the Manchester neighborhood
in the industrial east end of Houston, Texas, U.S., August 9, 2018. REUTERS/Loren Elliott
    WASHINGTON (Reuters) -The United States and other countries hiked their targets for slashing greenhouse gas emissions at a global climate summit hosted by President Joe Biden, an event meant to resurrect U.S. leadership in the fight against global warming.
    Biden unveiled the goal to cut emissions by 50%-52% from 2005 levels at the start of a two-day climate summit kicked off on Earth Day and attended virtually by leaders of 40 countries including big emitters China, India and Russia.
    The United States, the world’s second-leading emitter after China, seeks to reclaim global leadership in the fight against global warming after former President Donald Trump withdrew the country from international efforts to cut emissions.
    “This is the decade we must make decisions that will avoid the worst consequences of the climate crisis,” Biden, a Democrat, said at the White House.
    British Prime Minister Boris Johnson called the new U.S. goal “game changing” as two other countries made new pledges.     Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga, who visited Biden at the White House this month, raised Japan’s target for cutting emissions to 46% by 2030, up from 26%.    Environmentalists wanted a pledge of at least 50% while Japan’s powerful business lobby has pushed for national policies that favor coal.
    Canada’s Prime Minster Justin Trudeau, meanwhile, raised his country’s goal to a cut of 40%-45% by 2030 below 2005 levels, up from 30%.
    Brazil’s President Jair Bolsonaro announced his most ambitious environmental goal yet, saying the country would reach emissions neutrality by 2050, 10 years earlier than the previous goal.
    Greenpeace UK’s head of climate, Kate Blagojevic, said the summit had more targets than an archery competition.
    “Targets, on their own, won’t lead to emissions cuts,” she said.    “That takes real policy and money.    And that’s where the whole world is still way off course.”
    Most of the countries did not offer new emissions goals.
    Chinese President Xi Jinping said China expects its carbon emissions to peak before 2030 and the country will achieve net zero emissions by 2060.
    Xi said China will gradually reduce its coal use from 2025 to 2030.    China, a leader in producing technology for renewable energy like solar panels, burns large amounts of coal for electricity generation.
    Russian President Vladimir Putin proposed giving preferential treatment for foreign investment in clean energy projects, but also made an apparent reference to the United States being historically the world’s top greenhouse gas polluter.    “It is no secret that the conditions that facilitated global warming and associated problems go way back,” Putin said.
    The U.S. climate goal marks a milestone in Biden’s broader plan to decarbonize the U.S. economy entirely by 2050 – an agenda he says can create millions of good-paying jobs but which many Republicans say will damage the economy.
    The U.S. emissions cuts are expected to come from power plants, automobiles, and other sectors across the economy.    Sector-specific goals will be laid out later this year.
    The new U.S. target nearly doubles former President Barack Obama’s pledge of an emissions cut of 26%-28% below 2005 levels by 2025.
    How Washington intends to reach its climate goals will be crucial to cementing U.S. credibility on global warming, amid international concerns that America’s commitment to a clean energy economy can shift drastically from one administration to the next.
    Biden’s recently introduced $2.3 trillion infrastructure plan contains numerous measures that could deliver some of the emissions cuts needed this decade, including a clean energy standard to achieve net zero emissions in the power sector by 2035 and moves to electrify the vehicle fleet.
    But the measures need to be passed by Congress before becoming reality.
    The American Petroleum Institute, the top U.S. oil and gas lobbying group, cautiously welcomed Biden’s pledge but said it must come with policies including a price on carbon, which is a tough sell among some lawmakers.
    The summit is the first in a string of meetings of world leaders – including the G7 and G20 – ahead of annual UN climate talks in November in Scotland.    That serves as the deadline for nearly 200 countries to update their climate pledges under the Paris agreement, an international accord set in 2015.
    Leaders of small island nations vulnerable to rising seas, like Antigua and Barbuda and the Marshall Islands, also spoke at the summit.
    World leaders aim to limit global warming to 1.5 degrees Celsius above pre-industrial levels, a threshold scientists say can prevent the worst impacts of climate change.
    A Biden administration official said with the new U.S. target, enhanced commitments from Japan and Canada, and prior targets from the European Union and Britain, countries accounting for more than half the world’s economy were now committed to reductions to achieve the 1.5 degrees Celsius goal.
    European leaders including German Chancellor Angela Merkel and European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen expressed delight that the United States was back in the climate fight.
    “The importance of this day in my judgment is the world came together,” Biden’s climate envoy John Kerry told reporters at the White House.
(Reporting by Jeff Mason and Valerie Volcivici; additional reporting by Vladimir Soldatkin in Moscow; Elaine Lies and Aaron Sheldrick in Tokyo, David Ljunggren in Ottawa; Jake Spring and Lisandra Paraguassu in Brasilia, David Stanway in Shanghai, writing by Timothy Gardner; Editing by Richard Valdmanis and Lisa Shumaker)

4/22/2021 Japan Vows Deeper Emission Cuts As Biden Holds Climate Summit by Yoshifumi Takemoto and Yuka Obayashi
FILE PHOTO: Factories are seen near Tokyo. REUTERS/Stringer
    TOKYO (Reuters) -Japan on Thursday nearly doubled its target for cutting carbon emissions, responding to pressure from the United States and some of its own companies as world leaders met for a climate summit hosted by U.S. President Joe Biden.
    Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga said Japan would aim for a 46% cut by 2030 and look for ways to go even further.    Its previous target was a 26% reduction from 2013 levels, a goal that activists had branded unambitious.
    Other countries also announced stronger action in the lead-up to the virtual summit, with Britain pledging a 78% reduction by 2035.
    Washington, which announced its own plan to halve emissions as it opened the meeting, is seeking to reclaim global leadership in the fight against global warming after former President Donald Trump withdrew from international efforts.
    Japan, the world’s fifth-biggest carbon emitter, had been under pressure from the Biden administration to set a 50% target, according to sources familiar with discussions held before and during a visit by Suga to Washington last weekend.
    Suga said that achieving the new target would not be easy but he would instruct ministers to accelerate plans.    “We will continue trying for an even higher cut of 50 percent,” he added.
    UN climate scientists say the world’s net CO2 emissions must fall to zero by 2050, to limit the rise in global temperatures to no more than 1.5 degrees Celsius compared with pre-industrial levels.    Exceeding that amount of warming would unleash the most severe impacts of climate change.
    Late last year, Suga set a goal for carbon neutrality by 2050, bringing Japan more into line with some other countries at the time.
    The government is also reviewing energy policy this year and has indicated it will aim for lower use of carbon-emitting fossil fuels in the electricity mix.
    However, it has so far – to heavy criticism – kept up support for coal due to the slow restart of reactors after the Fukushima nuclear disaster in 2011 led to their shutdown.
    “All eyes will now be on the pending revision of the Strategic Energy Plan, with huge parts of corporate Japan urging for a target of 50% or more renewables by 2030,” Dylan Tanner, executive director of InfluenceMap, a London-based data analysis company, told Reuters.
    “Such a number would kick-start both regulatory reform and investment in Japan’s power sector in line with global trends towards solar and wind,” he added.
    Aeon Co., Asia’s largest retailer, Fujitsu, Ricoh Co. and other companies last year demanded Japan’s government speed up a shift to renewable energy and a zero carbon economy in the recovery from the COVID-19 pandemic.
    But Japan’s motor industry sounded a note of caution on Thursday.
    “What Japan needs to do now is to expand its options for technology,” said Akio Toyoda, president of Toyota Motor speaking in his capacity as head of Japan’s automobile manufacturers association.
    “Policy that bans gasoline-powered or diesel cars from the very beginning would limit such options, and could also cause Japan to lose its strengths,” he told a regular press briefing.
    Japan’s powerful business lobby, Keidanren, is dominated by energy-intensive sectors that represent less than 10% of the economy, an InfluenceMap study last year said.
    Such lobbying has resulted in national policies that favour coal and hindered attempts to combat climate change, the study said – an assertion dismissed by Keidanren.
(Reporting by Yoshifumi Takemoto, Yuka Obayashi, Kyoshi Takenaka, Elaine Lies and Aaron Sheldrick; Editing by John Stonestreet and Andrew Heavens)

4/22/2021 U.S. To Double Public Climate Finance To Developing Countries By 2024 by Andrea Shalal
FILE PHOTO: U.S. President Joe Biden delivers remarks on tackling climate change prior to signing executive actions in
the State Dining Room at the White House in Washington, U.S., January 27, 2021. REUTERS/Kevin Lamarque/File Photo
    WASHINGTON (Reuters) – The United States on Thursday said it will boost public climate finance to help poor countries reduce greenhouse gas emissions and adapt to a changing climate, doubling funding by 2024 from average levels hit during the Obama administration.
    The White House said it was embracing “ambitious but attainable goals” for international aid to developing countries given the urgency of the climate crisis and to compensate for a sharp drop in U.S. funding during the Trump administration.
    As part of the goal, the White House said that by 2024 it would triple financing of climate adaptation, which focuses on adjustments to current or expected climate change.    It said it will work with Congress to enact needed legislation.
    Leonardo Martinez-Diaz, a top aide to Biden’s climate envoy John Kerry, said total U.S. international public climate finance averaged around $2.8 billion a year during the baseline period from fiscal year 2013 to 2017, with around $500 million going toward adaptation.    That was the most recent period where U.S. climate finance was at an all-time high, he said on Twitter.
    In a fact sheet, the White House said U.S. agencies, working with development partners, would prioritize climate in their investments, expand technical assistance and increase funding for adaptation and resilience.
    It said the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) would release a new Climate Change Strategy in November 2021, at the 26th Conference of the Parties to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (COP26).
    The U.S. International Development Finance Corporation (DFC) would change its development strategy to include climate for the first time, and prioritize climate mitigation and adaptation.
    The Millennium Challenge Corporation’s new climate strategy would focus on climate-smart development and sustainable infrastructure, aiming to put more than 50% of its funding into climate-related investments over the next five years, it said.
    The U.S. Treasury would direct U.S. executive directors in multilateral development banks (MDBs) to ensure that those institutions, including the World Bank, set and apply ambitious climate finance targets and policies.
    The plan also calls for ending international investments in carbon-intensive fossil fuel-based energy projects, and steering capital toward climate-aligned investments.
    Treasury, together with the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development, will spearhead efforts to modify guidelines for official export financing to reorient financing away from carbon-intensive activities, it said.
(Reporting by Andrea Shalal; Editing by David Gregorio)

4/22/2021 A Black Hole Dubbed ‘The Unicorn’ May Be Galaxy’s Smallest One by Will Dunham
A black hole located approximately 1,500 light years from our solar system, discovered in the constellation Monoceros, pulls at a
nearby red giant star, distorting its light in an undated illustration. Ohio State illustration/Lauren Fanfer/Handout via REUTERS
    WASHINGTON (Reuters) – Scientists have discovered what may be the smallest-known black hole in the Milky Way galaxy and the closest to our solar system – an object so curious that they nicknamed it ‘the Unicorn.’
    The researchers said the black hole is roughly three times the mass of our sun, testing the lower limits of size for these extraordinarily dense objects that possess gravitational pulls so strong not even light can escape.    A luminous star called a red giant orbits with the black hole in a so-called binary star system named V723 Mon.
    The black hole is located about 1,500 light years – the distance light travels in a year, 5.9 trillion miles (9.5 trillion km) – from Earth.    While it may be the closest one to us, it is still far away.    By way of comparison, the closest star to our solar system, Proxima Centauri, is 4 light years away.
    Black holes like this one form when massive stars die and their cores collapse.
    We nicknamed this black hole ‘the Unicorn’ partly because V723 Mon is in the Monoceros constellation – which translates to unicorn – and partly because it is a very unique system” in terms of the black hole’s mass and relative closeness to Earth, said Ohio State University astronomy doctoral student Tharindu Jayasinghe, lead author of the study published this week in the journal Monthly Notices of the Royal Astronomical Society.
    There are three categories of black holes.    The smallest, like ‘the Unicorn,’ are so-called stellar mass black holes formed by the gravitational collapse of a single star.    There are gargantuan ‘supermassive’ black holes like the one at our galaxy’s center, 26,000 light years from Earth, which is four million times the sun’s mass.    A few intermediate-mass black holes also have been found with masses somewhere in between.
    “It is clear that nature makes black holes of a wide range of masses.    But a three-solar-mass black hole is a big surprise.    There are no very good models for how to make such a black hole, but I am sure people will work on that more now,” said Ohio State University astronomy professor and study co-author Kris Stanek.
    ‘The Unicorn’ falls into what the researchers called a “mass gap” between the largest-known neutron stars – objects similarly formed by a large star’s collapse – at around 2.2 times the mass of our sun and what previously had been considered the smallest black holes at around five times the sun’s mass.
    “‘The unicorn’ is truly one of the smallest black holes possible,” Jayasinghe said.
    Its strong gravity alters the shape of its companion star in a phenomenon known as tidal distortion, making it elongated rather than spherical and causing its light to change as it moves along its orbital path.    It was these effects on the companion star, observed using Earth-based and orbiting telescopes, that indicated the black hole’s presence.
    “Black holes are electromagnetically dark, and so they are difficult to find,” Jayasinghe said.
    Unlike some other black holes orbiting with a star, this one was not observed to be drawing material from its companion, which is 173 times more luminous than our sun.
    The only smaller potential black hole is one with a mass 2.6 times that of our sun that was spotted in another galaxy, Jayasinghe said.
    Another team of scientists last year described a black hole roughly 1,000 light years from Earth, but other researchers have questioned whether it is a black hole.
(Reporting by Will Dunham; Editing by Rosalba O’Brien)

4/23/2021 Calif. Space Company Creates Radar To Protect Earth by OAN Newsroom
View of the Costa Rica Space Radar during its inauguration in Guanacaste, Costa Rica,
on April 22, 2021. (Photo by EZEQUIEL BECERRA/AFP via Getty Images)
    A space radar capable of capturing small objects that threaten the safety of astronauts and satellites was inaugurated Thursday at a farm in northwestern Costa Rica.
    Surrounded by large sugar cane crops on the Pacific Coast of the Central American country, the four large panels that make up the radar are connected to the servers of aerospace company LeoLabs in San Francisco, California.
    “This is the most advanced commercial radar in the world for tracking space objects,” LeoLabs CEO and Founder Daniel Ceperly said. “It’s for a few reasons:     This radar was designed to track very small pieces of debris.    It turns out there are about 250,000 pieces of debris in space that are two centimeters in size and larger.    They aren’t tracked today and they threaten satellites.”
    Ceperly added, everything in space moves very quickly — at approximately 8 kilometers per second — so even a tiny piece of debris hitting a satellite can completely destroy it.
    The radar installation, called the Costa Rica Space Radar, can monitor objects that transit in low earth orbit (LEO) in the region of the planet near the equator.    This is an advantage offered by the Costa Rican geographical location, according to LeoLabs CEO Ceperley.
    “One service is it checks for collisions days before they might happen, so that satellites can move and avoid the collision,” Ceperly noted. “If you’ve seen the movie ‘Gravity’ we are basically making sure that doesn’t happen.”
    Ceperly said another LeoLabs service tracks newly launched satellites.
    “We pick them up first with this radar and give the satellite operators precise locations for their satellites,” Ceperly said.    “So that they can get in touch with them and move them into operations very quickly.”
    Ceperly declined to reveal the cost of developing such a technology.    It can capture objects as small as a small golf ball traveling at 30,000 kilometers per hour by using a continuous series of radio frequencies that bounce off materials in orbit and send information back to the company’s servers.

4/23/2021 Severe Weather Tracks Towards Southeast, Potential For Tornadoes, Thunderstorms by OAN Newsroom
View of the ‘rope’ or decay stage of tornado seen during ‘Sound Chase,’ a joint project of NSSL and
Mississippi State University in Cordell, Oklahoma May 22, 1981. (Photo by NOAA Photo Library/Getty Images)
    Severe weather tracking towards the Southeast could lead to tornadoes.
    The National Weather Service reported on Friday that a low-pressure system is forecast to bring thunderstorms to the South-Central U.S. tonight, before moving to the Southeast on Saturday.
    Meteorologists said the moisture flowing in from the Gulf of Mexico combined with the fronts will produce rain and thunderstorms in those regions, with Louisiana and western Mississippi facing a moderate risk of flash floods.
    The Southeast into the Carolinas have a risk for tornadoes, high winds and hail threats on Saturday.
    However, the system is set to move out of the South and bring rain showers across the Mid-Atlantic and Northeast on Saturday night.

4/24/2021 Climate Change Has Knocked Earth Off Its Axis by Brian Kahn
    Of all the things attributable to climate change, the rotational poles moving differently is definitely one of the weirder ones. But a new study shows that’s exactly what’s happening. It builds on previous findings to show that disappearing ice is playing a major role, and shows that groundwater depletion is responsible for contributing to wobbles as well.
© Image: NASA A 3D portrait of methane concentrations and a slightly wobblier Earth.
    The findings, published last month in Geophysical Research Letters, uses satellites that track gravity to track what researchers call “polar drift.”    While we think of gravity as a constant, it’s actually a moving target based on the shape of the planet.    While earthquakes and other geophysical activities can certainly play a role by pushing land around, it’s water that is responsible for the biggest shifts.    The satellites used for the study, known as GRACE and GRACE-FO, were calibrated to measure Earth’s shifting mass.
    They’ve previously detected gravity changes tied to disappearing ice in Antarctica and the drought that led to groundwater depletion in California in the mid-2010s.    The data can also reveal how these changes in gravity, in turn, impact the poles.
    Polar drift is something that happens naturally.    The Earth’s axis is slowly shifting, but there’s been a marked acceleration in recent decades. The poles are now moving at nearly 17 times the rate they were in 1981, a fairly remarkable speed-up.    What’s even more remarkable, though, is that poles actually began moving in a new direction quite suddenly in 2000, at a rapid clip.
    Previous research used the same satellite data to observe the speed-up and change of gear and attributed it to ice loss in Greenland and West Antarctica as well as groundwater pumping.    The new study extends the record back to the 1990s and explores some of the year-to-year wobbles in more detail.    The findings point to changes in groundwater use in specific regions as the source of some of those differences.
    “Using the GRACE data (for the period 2002-2015) we showed that such interannual signals (as these authors pointed out: kinks at 2005 and 2012) can be explained by the terrestrial water storage,” Surendra Adhikari, a scientist at NASA Jet Propulsion Laboratory who led the 2016 research, said in an email.    “The new paper reinforces the statement by also showing that another kink in the polar motion data (at 1995) is also explained by total water storage variability, especially by the on-set of accelerated Greenland ice mass loss and depletion of water storage in the Middle East and the Indian subcontinent."
    “In general, the paper (along with our previous works) reveals the strong connection between the climate variability and how the Earth wobbles,” he added, noting the new study was a “nicely done paper.”
    In the scheme of things, climate change triggering polar movement isn’t too worrisome, given the other clear and present dangers like intense heat waves, ocean acidification, and the sixth mass extinction.    Ditto for the role of groundwater depletion, which has the potential to impact billions of lives.    But it’s a powerful reminder of just how much humans have reshaped the planet and why we should probably cut it out sooner than later if we don’t want our world to turn upside down.
    Correction, 4/23/21, 6:30 p.m.: This post has been updated to reflect that the rotational poles are the ones in question moving and being studied.

4/27/2021 Ukraine opens new waste site at Chernobyl by Yuras Karmanau, ASSOCIATED PRESS
    KYIV, Ukraine – Ukraine’s president on Monday unveiled a new nuclear waste repository at Chernobyl, the site of the world’s worst nuclear disaster that unfolded exactly 35 years ago.
    President Volodymyr Zelenskyy visited Chernobyl together with Rafael Mariano Grossi, director general of the International Atomic Energy Agency, and vowed to 'transform the exclusion zone, as Chernobyl is referred to, into a revival zone.'
    'Ukraine is not alone, it has wide support (from its) partners,' Zelenskyy said.    'Today the new repository has been put into operation and it is very important that today a license to maintain the new repository will be obtained.'
    The Ukrainian authorities decided to use the deserted exclusion zone around the Chernobyl power plant to build a place where Ukraine could store its nuclear waste for the next 100 years.
    The ex-Soviet nation currently has four nuclear power plants operating and has to transport its nuclear waste to Russia.    The new repository will allow the government to save up $200million a year.
    Grossi said on Twitter Monday that the IAEA 'will continue working tirelessly in addressing decommissioning, radioactive waste and environmental remediation related with Chernobyl accident.'
    Reactor No.4 at the Chernobyl power plant 65 miles north of Ukraine’s capital Kyiv exploded and caught fire deep in the night on April 26, 1986, shattering the building and spewing radioactive material into the sky.
    Soviet authorities made the catastrophe even worse by failing to tell the public what had happened — although the nearby plant workers’ town of Pripyat was evacuated the next day, the 2 million residents of Kyiv weren’t informed despite the fallout danger.    The world learned of the disaster only after heightened radiation was detected in Sweden.
    More than 600,000 people took part in fighting the consequences of the disaster.    Thirty plant workers and firefighters died within the first few months after the accident.     Eventually, more than 100,000 people were evacuated from the vicinity and the 1,000-square-mile exclusion zone was established where the only activity was workers disposing of waste and tending to a hastily built sarcophagus covering the reactor.

4/27/2021 Climate change has shifted Earth’s axis by Doyle Rice, USA TODAY
    Climate change is likely the cause of a recent shift in the Earth’s axis of rotation, a new study suggests.
    Melting glaciers around the world – a result of rising atmospheric temperatures from the burning of fossil fuels – redistributed enough water to cause the location of the North and South Poles to move eastward since the mid-1990s.
    The locations of the poles aren’t fixed and unchanging. The way that water moves around the planet’s surface is one factor that causes the two poles to drift, the study said.
    Each year, as the globe warms, hundreds of billions of tons of ice melt into the Earth’s oceans.
    “The faster ice melting under global warming was the most likely cause of the directional change of the polar drift in the 1990s,” study co-author Shanshan Deng of the Institute of Geographic Sciences and Natural Resources
    Research at the Chinese Academy of Sciences said in a statement.
    “The faster ice melting under global warming was the most likely cause of the directional change of the polar drift in the 1990s.” Shanshan Deng
    Institute of Geographic Sciences and Natural Resources Research at the Chinese Academy of Sciences
    Since 1980, each pole has moved roughly 13 feet.
    In addition to melting glaciers, the pumping of groundwater has contributed to the shift in Earth’s axis, the study said.
    In the past, only natural factors such as ocean currents and the convection of hot rock deep in the planet contributed to the pole drift, the Guardian said.
    Climate scientist Vincent Humphrey of the University of Zurich, Switzerland, who was not involved in the new research, said the Earth spins around its axis like a top.
    If the weight of a top shifts, the spinning top would lean and wobble as its rotational axis changes.    The same thing happens to the Earth as weight is shifted from one area to the other.     Humphrey told the Guardian that this “tells you how strong this mass change is – it’s so big that it can change the axis of the Earth.”
    But the movement of the Earth’s axis is not large enough to affect daily life, he said: It could change the length of a day, but only by milliseconds.
    The study was published in the peer-reviewed journal Geophysical Research Letters, a publication of the American Geophysical Union.

4/27/2021 FACT CHECK - Gates is not seeking to block the sun’s rays - Project he funds studies risks of geoengineering by Adrienne Dunn, USA TODAY
    Bill Gates’ wealth has allowed him to donate and invest in projects across the globe.    It also has made him a frequent target for conspiracy theories.
    Recently, social media users are claiming Gates is working to block the sun’s rays to combat global warming.
    One example is this April 8 Facebook post, which reads: “Let me get this straight.    Bill Gates is working on a way to block the sun’s rays so we prevent global warming.    On the other hand, we are expected to go to solar powered energy.    So how does that work???”
    USA TODAY has reached out to the poster for comment.
    Post misrepresents a Harvard project Gates partially funds.
    The post refers to Harvard’s Stratospheric Controlled Perturbation Experiment, or SCoPEx, which is financially backed by Gates. But this claim, like other reports, misrepresents the nature of the project.
    The project revolves around the concept of geoengineering, large-scale efforts to reduce the effects of climate change – usually temporarily – on oceans, soils and atmosphere.
    At its core, SCoPEx seeks to better understand the efficacy and risks of solar geoengineering.    To do so, scientists need to determine whether there are aerosols that could reduce or eliminate ozone loss without increasing the chance of other risks.
    The experiment involves launching a high-altitude balloon about 12 miles into the atmosphere, according to its website.    A small amount of material is then released to create a “perturbed air mass” about 100 yards wide and a half-mile long.    Instruments carried by the balloon monitor that region for changes in aerosol density, atmospheric chemistry and light scattering.
    In other words, it’s a very small-scale project, far from the climate-altering claims about it that have surfaced on social media.
    After Reuters reported on the effort in December 2020, the conservative Western Journal published a piece titled “Bill Gates’ Savior Complex Spirals Out of Control, Funds Sun-Dimming Plan To Save the Human Race," in which the writer portrays the project as a threat to humanity.
    Other reports that misrepresented the project included a story from the British tabloid The Daily Mail, which warned of potential disaster as a result of the experiment.
    SCoPEx, and geoengineering in general, are somewhat controversial.    But SCoPEx researcher and Harvard professor David Keith says concerns like these are not supported by science.
    “People are right to fear over-reliance on technofixes.    But there’s another nightmare: It’s that after bringing emissions to zero, we realize in hindsight that early use of geoengineering could have saved millions of lives lost in heat waves and helped preserve some of the natural world,” Keith wrote in an op-ed published in the Boston Globe.
    We should also note Gates’ involvement in the SCoPEx project is purely financial.    His grant-making research fund, the Fund for Innovative Climate and Energy Research, partially finances the project.    SCoPEx is also partially funded by Harvard’s Solar Geoengineering Research program, which is also funded by foundations and donors, including Gates.    In a 2010 Ted Talk, Gates argued that if society ends up in a position where global warming is bad enough that geoengineering needs to be taken seriously, it should already know and understand the process and its potential consequences.
Our rating: False
    The claim that Gates is working on a way to block the sun’s rays to prevent global warming is FALSE, based on our research.    Gates is one of SCoPEx’s funders, but he is not participating in the project’s research.
    Additionally, the project is not working to block or dim the sun. Rather, the project seeks to understand the potential risks of geoengineering.
    Our fact check work is supported in part by a grant from Facebook.
Bill Gates is a financial backer of a project that seeks to understand the risks
of geoengineering, and he is not involved in the research. USA TODAY

4/29/2021 Study: World’s glaciers melting faster than ever by Seth Borenstein, ASSOCIATED PRESS
    Glaciers are melting faster, losing 31% more snow and ice per year than they did 15 years earlier, according to three-dimensional satellite measurements of all the world’s mountain glaciers.
    Scientists blame human-caused climate change.
    Using 20 years of recently declassified satellite data, scientists calculated that the world’s 220,000 mountain glaciers are losing more than 328 billion tons of ice and snow per year since 2015, according to a study in Wednesday’s journal Nature.    That’s enough melt flowing into the world’s rising oceans to put Switzerland under almost 24 feet of water each year.
    The annual melt rate from 2015 to 2019 is 78 billion more tons a year than it was from 2000 to 2004.    Global thinning rates, different than volume of water lost, doubled in the last 20 years and “that’s enormous,” said Romain Hugonnet, a glaciologist at ETH Zurich and the University of Toulouse in France who led the study.
    Half the world’s glacial loss is coming from the United States and Canada.
    Alaska’s melt rates are “among the highest on the planet,” with the Columbia glacier retreating about 115 feet a year, Hugonnet said.
    Almost all the world’s glaciers are melting, even ones in Tibet that used to be stable, the study found.    Except for a few in Iceland and Scandinavia that are fed by increased precipitation, the melt rates are accelerating around the world.    The near-uniform melting “mirrors the global increase in temperature” and is from the burning of coal, oil and gas, Hugonnet said.    Some smaller glaciers are disappearing entirely.    Two years ago, scientists, activists and government officials in Iceland held a funeral for a small glacier.
    “Ten years ago, we were saying that the glaciers are the indicator of climate change, but now actually they’ve become a memorial of the climate crisis,” said World Glacier Monitoring Service Director Michael Zemp, who wasn’t part of the study.
    Ohio State University’s Lonnie Thompson said the new study painted an “alarming picture.”

4/29/2021 Earth has been knocked off its axis over the last 25 years, changing the locations of the north and south poles by (Aylin Woodward)
© NEAR Spacecraft Team/JHUAPL/NASA NASA's asteroid-bound NEAR spacecraft took
this mosaic image of Earth in January 1998. NEAR Spacecraft Team/JHUAPL/NASA
    Since 1980, Earth's north and south poles have each drifted about 13 feet.
    The poles are where the planet's axis of rotation - the invisible line running through the center of Earth's mass, around which it spins - intersects the surface.    But their geographic locations aren't fixed points: As the Earth's axis moves, so do the poles.
    According to a study published last month, Earth's axis started shifting so drastically in 1995 that the direction of that polar drift changed and sped up considerably.    The culprit behind that shift, the researchers found, is melting glaciers.
    Melting ice changes how Earth's weight is distributed.
    Imagine that the Earth is like a spinning top: If the top's weight is evenly distributed, it should whirl perfectly, without any wobbling to one side or another.    But if some of weight were to shift to one side or the other, that would change the top's center of mass and axis of rotation, leading it to lean toward the heavier side as it spins.
    The same thing happens to the Earth when weight moves from one area to another.
Reuters Chunks of ice float in meltwater pools on top of the Helheim glacier near Tasiilaq, Greenland. Reuters
    Sometimes, changes in the distribution of molten rock in Earth's outer core can alter how the planet's mass is distributed.    The way water is distributed on Earth's surface also plays a big role.    So if water that was frozen in glaciers in the planet's polar regions melts and joins the ocean, the weight of that water gets spread across a different area.
    That redistribution, according to the new study, is the main driver of the polar drift scientists have observed in the last few decades.
    The trend started around 1995. Before the mid-1990s, satellite data showed the poles were moving slowly south.    But then they turned left and started shifting to the east at an accelerated rate, moving by about one-tenth of an inch per year.    The poles' average drift speed between 1995 and 2020 was 17 times faster than that from 1981 to 1995, the researchers found.
    That acceleration aligns with accelerated melting around the north and south poles, which has been driven by the planet's rising surface and ocean temperatures.
    Greenland has lost more than 4.2 trillion tons of ice since 1992, which has raised global sea levels 0.4 inches.    The rate of that melt increased seven-fold, from 36 billion tons per year in the 1990s to 280 billion tons per year in the last decade.    Antarctica's glacial melting is also speeding up - in the 1980s, Antarctica lost 40 billion tons of ice annually.    In the last decade, that number jumped to an average of 252 billion tons per year.
© Education Images/Universal Images Group via Getty Images A small iceberg in a fjord
in southern Greenland. Education Images/Universal Images Group via Getty Images
    The new study suggests that changes in how much fresh water is stored underground affects polar drift, too.    Once this groundwater is pumped up to the surface for use as drinking water or for agriculture, it eventually flows into rivers and oceans, redistributing that water weight on Earth's surface.
    Nearly 20 trillion tons of groundwater have been pumped out of the Earth since the 1950s, the Guardian reported.
    Our days might be a tiny bit longer.
© REUTERS/NASA/Handout via Reuters/File Photo A photo of Earth taken by NASA's Earth
Polychromatic Imaging Camera. REUTERS/NASA/Handout via Reuters/File Photo
    Earth's axis of rotation isn't straight up and down like the axes of Mercury or Jupiter.    Rather, our planet's axis is tilted at an angle of 23.5 degrees.    That's why the northern and southern hemispheres get varying amounts of sunlight at different times of the year, which is why we have seasons.
    The recent change to Earth's axis won't affect our everyday lives, but it could slightly tweak the length of our days.
    Earth takes 24 hours to complete a 360-degree spin.    But the movement of its axis, and therefore its poles, could add milliseconds to that spin time, making our days a tiny bit longer.

4/29/2021 FACT CHECK - Humans are main cause of climate change - Greenhouse gases being trapped in atmosphere by Rick Rouan, USA TODAY
    President Joe Biden pledged during a virtual climate summit, held on Earth Day, to cut U.S. greenhouse gas pollution in half by 2030 to help mitigate a global climate crisis.
    “The science is undeniable,” Biden said at the April 22 summit.    “The cost of inaction keeps mounting.”
    But some still deny.
    Climate skeptics don’t believe climate change is caused by humans, despite overwhelming scientific evidence to support the conclusion.    Some don’t acknowledge global warming is happening at all.    One Facebook user posted on April 19 claiming, among other things, that “man-made climate change (is a) scam.”
    “Don’t you dare question it though or you will be branded a ‘Climate change denier’ and you shall be canceled for it,” the user wrote.
    The Facebook account that posted the claim did not respond to a request for comment.
    What is global warming?
    While natural forces can contribute to global temperature changes, scientific data show warming has accelerated since the mid-20th century.
    The “hockey stick” graph introduced in 1998 in the journal Nature shows relatively flat temperature fluctuations over hundreds of years before a sharp incline, particularly over the past 50 years.    The graph has been controversial among climate skeptics but was endorsed in 2006 by the National Academy of Sciences.
    Most scientists say the sharp incline is related to human-made emissions in the post-industrial period.    That is a result of the “greenhouse effect,” where the planet warms as gases that block heat from escaping build up in the atmosphere.
    Carbon dioxide concentration in the atmosphere from human activities has increased by 47% since the start of the Industrial Revolution, according to NASA.    Build-ups of water vapor, methane, nitrous oxide and chlorofluorocarbons also are contributing to the greenhouse effect.    As the planet has warmed, weather patterns have changed; melting glaciers and ice sheets have raised sea levels; and heat waves have become longer and more intense.
    “On Earth, human activities are changing the natural greenhouse,” says a NASA website on the causes of climate change.
Scientific consensus
    While climate deniers suggest the causes of climate change are uncertain, scientists have concluded with a high degree of certainty that the dominant cause of warming is greenhouse gases produced by humans becoming trapped in the atmosphere.
    A synthesis of The Climate Science Special Report: Fourth National Climate Assessment says it is “extremely likely” – meaning at least 95% – that unprecedented concentrations of carbon dioxide, methane and nitrous oxide in the atmosphere driven by economic and population growth since the pre-industrial era are the dominant cause of warming.    In short, humans are causing climate change.
    The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, established by the United Nations in 1988, assembled the report.    But other government research and scientific organizations have reached the same conclusion.
    The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, NASA, the National Science Foundation, the National Research Council and the Environmental Protection Agency all agree “Earth is warming mainly due to the increase in human-produced heat-trapping gases,” according to a post on NOAA’s website.
    NOAA also points to a 2004 study in the journal Science, backed up in a 2016 review paper, that examined 928 peer reviewed papers in scientific journals. None of the papers disagreed with the consensus.
    A 2018 Congressional Research Service report summarizing the “evolving assessments” of the causes of climate change since the early 19th century said this: “Current climate scientific assessment states high confidence (extremely likely) that human influence is the dominant cause of the observed warming over the past half-century.”
    “We have independent evidence that says when you put in greenhouse gases, you get the changes that we see,” Gavin Schmidt, director of NASA’s Goddard Institute for Space Studies, said in a Columbia Climate School State of the Planet blog from 2017.    “If you don’t put in greenhouse gases, you don’t.    And if you put in all the other things people think about — the changes in the earth’s orbit, the ocean circulation changes, El Niño, land use changes, air pollution, smog, ozone depletion — all of those things, none of them actually produce the changes that we see in multiple data sets across multiple areas of the system, all of which have been independently replicated.”
Our rating: False
    The claim that human-caused climate change is a hoax is FALSE, based on our research.    The scientific consensus is that climate change is a product of human-produced gases that trap heat on Earth.    Both government organizations and papers in scientific journals have concluded with a high degree of certainty that climate change is humanmade.
    Our fact check work is supported in part by a grant from Facebook.
President Joe Biden shut down oil and gas lease sales from the nation’s vast public lands and waters. AP

4/29/2021 Goodbye to glaciers? Study shows gravity of melting ice by Doyle Rice, USA TODAY
    Most of Earth’s glaciers are melting faster than ever because of human caused climate change, dumping about 328 billion tons of melted ice into the world’s oceans each year, according to a new study. In fact, what was once considered to be permanent ice has declined in volume almost everywhere around the globe, the study found.
    Half the world’s glacial loss is coming from the United States and Canada, the study said.
    Alaska’s melt rates are “among the highest on the planet,” with the Columbia glacier retreating about 115 feet a year, said study lead author Romain Hugonnet, a glaciologist at the University of Toulouse in France.
    The estimates were based on high resolution 3D mapping of more than 200,000 glaciers, which is nearly all the glaciers on Earth.    The analysis is the most comprehensive and accurate of its kind to date. Ohio State University’s Lonnie Thompson said the study painted an “alarming picture.”
    Almost all the world’s glaciers are melting, even ones in Tibet that used to be stable, the study found.    “The situation in the Himalayas is particularly worrying,” Hugonnet said.
    “During the dry season, glacial meltwater is an important source that feeds major waterways,” he said.    “Right now, this increased melting acts as a buffer for people living in the region, but if Himalayan glacier shrinkage keeps accelerating, populous countries like India and Bangladesh could face water or food shortages in a few decades.”
    Glaciers tend to have a faster response to climate change compared with ice sheets in Greenland and Antarctica, Reuters said, and are contributing more to sea-level rise than either individual ice sheet.
    The study re-emphasizes that the world must bring down global temperatures to slow ice loss, Twila Moon, a glaciologist at the National Snow and Ice Data Center who was not involved in the study, told Reuters.
    The study was published Wednesday in the peer-reviewed British journal Nature.
Contributing: The Associated Press

4/30/2021 US pushes forward with nuclear plans by Susan Montoya Bryan, ASSOCIATED PRESS
    The Biden administration appears to be picking up where former President Donald Trump left off as the federal agency that oversees U.S. nuclear research and bomb-making has approved the first design phase for a multibillion-dollar project to manufacture key components for the nation’s nuclear arsenal.
    The National Nuclear Security Administration in a decision announced Wednesday stated that planning and construction could cost upwards of $4billion initially.
    The agency did not articulate what exactly that money would be spent on nor does it include the cost of other preparations that would be needed for Los Alamos National Laboratory to begin producing 30 plutonium cores per year.
    The push to resume production of the nuclear triggers has spanned multiple presidential administrations, with supporters arguing that the U.S. needs to ensure the stability and reliance of its arsenal given growing global security concerns.    The nuclear agency also has said most of the cores in the stockpile date to the 1970s and 1980s.
    Democratic members of New Mexico’s congressional delegation have supported production at Los Alamos because of the billions of dollars in federal funding and thousands of jobs that are at stake.
    But watchdog groups have been sounding alarms over the potential for more security and safety lapses at the northern New Mexico lab and the potential for environmental contamination.
    Another concern is the nuclear waste that would be generated by the work.
    Watchdog groups have said that the cost estimate outlined by the agency in its decision is about double the projections made just last year.
    Jay Coghlan of Nuclear Watch New Mexico called the federal government’s plans 'unnecessary and provocative,' saying more production will result in more waste and help to fuel a new arms race.
    The nuclear agency in a statement said it expects to set cost and schedule baselines in 2023 as part of the ongoing process.
A federal agency plan calls for making at least 30 plutonium cores per year at
Los Alamos National Laboratory in New Mexico. The Albuquerque Journal via AP

4/29/2021 SpaceX Launches 60 Additional Starlink Satellites Into Orbit by OAN Newsroom
The US satellite SpaceX Starlink 5 is seen in the night passing in the sky above Svendborg on South Funen, Denmark,
on April 21, 2020. (Photo by MADS CLAUS RASMUSSEN/Ritzau Scanpix/AFP via Getty Images)
    SpaceX has continued to expand its internet service after the company successfully placed more Starlink satellites into orbit.    On Wednesday night, the company launched a Falcon 9 rocket from Cape Canaveral in Florida, which sent up 60 additional satellites.
    The weight of the payload is the heaviest SpaceX has ever launched, with each satellite weighing over 550 pounds.    This marked the company’s 27th Starlink mission, which so far has deployed over 1,500 satellites into space.

4/29/2021 Controversial N.Y. Nuclear Power Plant To Cease Operation Friday by OAN Newsroom
The Indian Point Nuclear Power Plant on the banks of the Hudson River March 22, 2011 in Buchanan, NY. (DON EMMERT/AFP via Getty Images)
    Indian Point Nuclear Power Plant has prepared to cease all activity.    The facility, which is located just 25 miles north of New York City, is scheduled to stop producing power on Friday.
    The plant’s first reactor came online in the early 1960s and their Unit 2 and Unit 3 reactors commenced production in the mid-1970s.    Though the first reactor has long since retired, reactors 2 and 3 had generated about a quarter of the electricity used in New York City and the lower Hudson River area.
    “When both units were online at the same time, they generated 2,000 megawatts,” Entergy spokesperson Jerry Nappi said.    “That’s roughly about enough power for three-quarters of a million to a million homes each.”
    Unit 2 shut down a year ago as part of an agreement to close the plant, however, opponents to the shutdown plan point to the environmental impact and costs, which will result.    A 2017 study from “Environmental Progress” estimated the shutdown of Indian Point will cause power sector carbon emissions to skyrocket 29 percent, increasing New York’s dependence on fossil fuels from 44 percent to 56 percent.
    Conversely, it would require 1,300 times more land to produce the same amount of electricity Indian Point creates using renewable sources like wind and solar.
    Opponents of the plant also point to a potential nuclear disaster as one reason to shutter the facility.
    “In this area, we have about 20 million people in the evacuation zone and obviously, you have New York City not far away,”     Riverkeeper legal director Richard Webster said.    “And so, if we had a nuclear accident for the reactor, there would be 20 million people impacted.    If we had a nuclear accident in the spent fuel pool, there could be massively more than that.”
    New York Governor Andrew Cuomo (D) even suggested the possibility of a plane being crashed into the facility as a risk.    However, experts said the walls of the reactor were designed to withstand a plane crash and the reactor was built partially underground in the bedrock, which provides extra protection.
    Overall, proponents of the plant believe the risks of a highly unlikely meltdown are far outweighed by the rewards of cheaper, more efficient energy and are disappointed to see the plant go.

4/30/2021 Polish Scientists Discover Ancient Egyptian Mummy Was Pregnant Woman
A pregnant Egyptian mummy is pictured during a research work in this undated handout photo.
    WARSAW (Reuters) – An ancient Egyptian mummy once believed to be the remains of a male priest is actually the embalmed body of a woman in the third trimester of pregnancy, Polish scientists said on Friday.
    Marzena Ozarek-Szilke, an anthropologist at the Warsaw Mummy Project, was examining a CT scan of a mummy at the National Museum in the Polish capital when she spotted something peculiar.
    “When I looked at the lesser pelvis of our mummy I was interested in what was inside… I thought I saw a tiny foot,” Ozarek-Szilke said.
    She asked her husband, an archaeologist who also worked on the project, to take a look.
    “My husband looked at the picture and as a father of three, he said: ‘Well, that’s a foot’.    At that moment … the whole picture started to come together,” Ozarek-Szilke told Reuters.
    The mummy came to Poland in the 19th century when the nascent University of Warsaw was creating an antiquities collection.    For decades, it was thought the mummy belonged to an ancient Egyptian priest named Hor-Dehuti.
    However, in a discovery revealed in the Journal of Archaeological Science on Thursday, scientists at the Warsaw Mummy Project said the mummy was in fact a woman in her twenties who was between 26 and 28 weeks pregnant.
    The cause of death is not clear, but Ozarek-Szilke said the pregnancy may have had something to do with it.
    “It is possible that the pregnancy itself contributed to the death of this woman. Now we have modern medicine, women who are between 20 and 30 weeks pregnant and something happens to the pregnancy, they have a chance to be rescued.    It used to be impossible,” she said.
    The discovery sheds some light on the little-known role of children in ancient Egypt and the religious beliefs of the time, but also raises many questions, according to Wojciech Ejsmond, co-director of the Warsaw Mummy Project.
    “What was the status of this child in the Egyptian religion?    Did it have a soul, could it go to the afterlife on its own, could it be reborn in the afterlife… if it was not yet born?
    Ejsmond said scientists would study the mummy further to determine the cause of death and establish why the foetus was left in the body.
    “We must be open to all possibilities,” he said.
(Reporting by Alicja Ptak and Aleksanda Szmigiel; Editing by Raissa Kasolowsky)

5/1/2021 Mars helicopter gets extra month of flying as rover’s scout
    CAPE CANAVERAL, Fla. – NASA’s little Mars helicopter has gotten a reprieve.    Instead of wrapping up flight tests at the beginning of May, NASA is giving its Ingenuity helicopter at least an extra month to tackle tough new terrain and serve as a scout for its companion rover, Perseverance.    Officials announced the extension Friday, following three successful short flights in under two weeks for the $85 million tech demo.    Ingenuity was attempting its fourth flight Friday afternoon; Thursday’s effort failed because of a software error.

5/3/2021 SpaceX capsule safely returns 4 astronauts to planet Earth by Emre Kelly, Florida Today USA TODAY
    NETWORK Four astronauts strapped into a SpaceX Crew Dragon capsule safely splashed down into glasslike waters off the Florida coast early Sunday, wrapping up their six-month mission to the International Space Station.
    After departing the night before, Victor Glover, Mike Hopkins, Soichi Noguchi, and Shannon Walker were lowered into the Gulf of Mexico under the safety of four main parachutes at 2:57a.m. ET.     SpaceX boats stationed near Panama City swarmed the capsule, named Resilience, and prepped for recovery.
    'On behalf of NASA and SpaceX teams, we welcome you back to planet Earth and thanks for flying SpaceX,' a crew operations and resources engineer, or CORE, said on the live webcast.    'For those of you enrolled in our frequent-flyer program, you’ve earned 68million miles on this voyage.'
    'It is great to be back on planet Earth,' mission commander Hopkins said while waiting for recovery.    'And we’ll take those miles.    Are they transferable?'
    The last chunk of those 68million miles were packed with dramatic milestones as Crew Dragon slowed from 17,000 mph in orbit to just 16 mph at splashdown.    The astronauts experienced 3 to 5 Gs, or gravitational force equivalents, during the descent, which is roughly what they felt during Falcon 9’s liftoff from Kennedy Space Center last November.    Their Crew-1 mission marked the first long-duration flight for SpaceX and the company’s second with astronauts.     NASA said weather in the Gulf of Mexico was 'nearly perfect' with winds of 3 mph and wave heights of less than 1 foot.
    Shortly after splashdown, Resilience was hoisted onto a customized boat, and Crew-1’s astronauts were helped out of the side hatch.
    After being taken to Panama City via helicopter, Crew-1 will fly to NASA’s Johnson Space Center in Houston for a short quarantine period and more detailed medical checkouts.    They will receive coronavirus vaccine, too.
    Their recovery was mostly uneventful compared with the last time astronauts were pulled out of the gulf.

5/3/2021 Ethical, moral questions surround regulation by Karen Weintraub, USA TODAY
    For more than 30 years, scientists have followed a rule they imposed on themselves to avoid growing a human embryo in a lab dish for more than 14 days.
    Until recently, the “14-day rule” was largely academic.    Scientists couldn’t grow them for that long if they wanted to.
    But in 2016, two teams of researchers reached 12 days, and in 2019, another group grew monkey embryos for 19 days.
    These advances have spurred some scientists to argue in two recent papers that the 14-day rule should be modified or dropped.    There’s a lot to be learned by pushing embryos out to 28 days, they say.
    The regulatory committee of the International Society for Stem Cell Research, which lays down guidelines for the scientific field, has been debating the issue for months and is expected to issue its final decision this month.
    Some ethicists and scientists are concerned that revising the rule just as it becomes technologically feasible to break it is ridiculous and morally repugnant.
    “If you abandoned every rule or law that inhibits you as soon as it inhibits you, we’d live in a lawless world,” said Ben Hurlbut, a historian of science at Arizona State University.
    And some people consider human embryo research to be unethical at any stage.
    “Whether 14 days, 14 months, or anywhere in between, such ‘rules’ remain contrivances to justify the most unethical kinds of science and to allow for the exploitation of our own vulnerable human offspring,” said Tadeusz Pacholczyk, a neuroscientist and director of education at the National Catholic Bioethics Center in Philadelphia.
    Countries are free to ignore rules set by the society, but scientists for decades have generally abided by them. (In the U.S., there’s no national law about the 14-day rule, though some states have their own regulations.)     Some cultures and religions believe that human life begins at conception, or that the human embryo carries a special status from conception onward.     Other cultures believe that life starts later in fetal development, or even at birth.
    Biologists routinely grow amphibian and mammal embryos in petri dishes, but human embryos are different.
    Until about 14 days after conception, the human embryo looks like an undifferentiated blob of cells, which is one of the reasons the two week time frame made sense, several scientists said.
    Robin Lovell-Badge, who sits on the International Stem Cell Society committee that’s considering overturning the rule, said scientists will take any changes seriously.
    “We’ve stuck with that rule for over 30 years,” he said.
    Lovell-Badge favors extending the limit, as long as the research is scientifically justified and has public support.
    Not everyone in the scientific community shares this position.
    “It’s been a difficult part of the guidelines to get agreement on,” Lovell-Badge said.
    “You have very wide-ranging views.”
The scientific argument
    Some scientists argue there’s a lot to be learned by pushing the 14-day rule out another two weeks.
    Right now the second two weeks after fertilization is considered a “black box” because so little is known about it, said Insoo Hyun, a professor of bioethics at Case Western and Harvard universities.     He co-wrote a March 5 opinion piece arguing for a careful, stepwise extension of the 14-day rule.
    “You have to really make your case for it,” Hyun said.     “You have to explain what you want to do and why, have a very clear picture of where the next stopping point is.”
    Women generally don’t know they’re pregnant before 28 days, so historically, there has not been tissue from aborted or miscarried fetuses for research.
    The central nervous system, heart and other organs begin to develop during this crucial two-week period. The body plan is established.    Cells that will become eggs and sperm start to form.     Aspects of the placenta are set up.
    In many ways, days 14 through 28 are the most interesting period of human development, Lovell-Badge said.    “You can do a whole lot of incredibly valuable research,” in that time frame, he said.
    And it’s in that window that many things can go wrong in a pregnancy, such as miscarriage or abnormalities.
    Perhaps there are treatments that could be developed to fix these problems, if they are better understood, Hyun said, just as pregnant women now take vitamin supplements to prevent spina bifida, in which the spine doesn’t develop properly.
    Developing embryos for another week “will thus illuminate this poorly understood period of our development and bring greater understanding of pregnancy loss and developmental disease,” said Magdalena Zernicka-Goetz, the British scientist who developed the technique for growing human embryos for nearly two weeks.    Zernicka-Goetz, author of a 2020 book on human development called “The Dance of Life,” would like to extend the 14-day rule out one week to 21 days.
    “This will enable the scientists to study a period of development that are highly susceptible to developmental failure, something that happens quite frequently in human pregnancy,” she wrote in an email, stressing work should be closely regulated “to achieve these potential biomedical advances within an appropriate bi-ethical framework.”
    Despite their differences, most scientists seem to agree there’s no reason to push development past 28 days.
    By one month after conception, embryonic tissue is easier to obtain and study and the organs have formed, leaving fewer questions to answer.
The moral counterargument
    Pacholczyk, of the Catholic Bioethics Center, said there’s simply no justification for 14 days or any other time limit.
    “Researchers have been feigning for a long time that the 14-day rule was somehow an ethical tenet grounded in biolog- ical facts – while in reality it has been little more than a ceremonial ‘line in the sand’ – and it should come as little surprise that they are now seeking to move that line beyond 14 days,” he wrote in an email.
    Even some who strongly support scientific research are uncomfortable extending the 14-day rule.     Henry Greely, who directs the Stanford Center for Law and the Biosciences at Stanford University in California, said there should be a hard-stop endpoint for embryo research.
    “Even though I do not personally give strong moral status to embryos, the idea of doing research on 18-day-old human embryos is disturbing,” said Greely, author of the new book CRISPR People: The Science and Ethics of Editing Humans.”
    “I’d like to see an endpoint that had some rationale that would make it likely to stick,” he said.
    Growing an embryo in a lab dish instead of a woman’s womb is necessarily different, Greely said, and may not represent a “real” embryo anyway.
    “Does a 14-day embryo that is not implanted deep in a woman’s uterus tell us anything meaningful about a 14-day embryo that is?” he asked.
    Marcy Darnovsky, executive director of the Center for Genetics and Society, a nonprofit advocacy group, said efforts to overturn the 14-day rule are another example of scientific over-reach.
    “There’s a real problem with scientists who are jumping ahead of the public,” she said.
    Scientists should not be the ones who get to decide where society’s moral boundaries lie, she and Hurlbut said.
    “If moves are made to usurp these questions from wider society,” Hurlbut said, “it’s to the detriment of democracy and to the detriment of science – certainly in the long run, and probably in the short run.”
    Health and patient safety coverage at USA TODAY is made possible in part by a grant from the Masimo Foundation for Ethics, Innovation and Competition in Healthcare. The Masimo Foundation does not provide editorial input.
Some scientists argue there’s a lot to be learned by pushing the 14-day rule
for embryo growth out another two weeks. SANG TAN/AP

A single cell is removed from a human embryo to be used in generating embryonic stem cells

5/3/2021 Twenty-Six Killed In Boat Accident In Bangladesh
A speedboat is seen ashore after it collided with a sand-laden bulk carrier
and sank on Padma River, in Madaripur, Bangladesh, May 3, 2021. REUTERS/Stringer
    DHAKA (Reuters) – At least 26 people died and several were missing after an overcrowded speedboat collided with a sand-laden bulk carrier and sank on Bangladesh’s giant Padma River on Monday, police said.
    “Rescuers found 26 dead bodies and some still could be missing,” said Miraj Hossain, a senior police official of the central Madaripur district, where the accident occurred
    Five people were rescued and sent to hospital, he said.
    Hundreds of people die each year in ferry accidents in Bangladesh, a low-lying country that has extensive inland waterways and lax safety standards.
(Reporting by Ruma Paul; Editing by Tom Hogue)

5/3/2021 SpaceX Dragon Mission Complete, Returns To Earth by OAN Newsroom
NASA astronauts Shannon Walker, left, Victor Glover, Mike Hopkins, and Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency (JAXA) astronaut Soichi Noguchi, right
are seen inside the SpaceX Crew Dragon Resilience spacecraft onboard the SpaceX GO Navigator recovery ship shortly after having
landed in the Gulf of Mexico off the coast of Panama City, Florida, Sunday, May 2, 2021. (Bill Ingalls/NASA via AP)
    SpaceX completed another successful mission after four astronauts returned home safely following nearly five months in space.
    The SpaceX Crew Dragon Resilience capsule successfully returned to Earth.    The vessel splashed down in the Gulf of Mexico early Sunday with four astronauts inside.    Aboard were NASA’s Mike Hopkins, Victor Glover and Shannon Walker as well as Japan’s Soichi Noguchi.
    The six and a half hour ride back down from the International Space Station marked the end of the crew’s 167 day mission.    The splashdown was also the first nighttime landing since the Apollo 8 Moon mission in 1968.
    “It’s not very often you get to wake up on the Space Station and go to sleep in Houston, and so we’ve been talking about that in the control center,” stated Holly Ridings, Chief Flight Director of the Johnson Space Center.    “You know, the orbital mechanics and the weather don’t always work out, but today they did and so so that’s pretty remarkable.”
    The splashdown was the latest milestone for SpaceX and NASA partners who now have regularly scheduled human shuttles to and from space.    SpaceX announced it plans to launch seven capsules for NASA over the next 15-months, including three cargo trips.
    The returning astronauts were praised for their execution with officials calling their expedition “flawless” and “phenomenal.”    Space agencies were so impressed with the astronauts work that they believe the next step could be a private mission.
    “Today was testament to the whole Dragon design team and operations team, and also the recovery team and the execution was just perfect in my eyes,” stated Hans Koenigsmann, senior advisor for SpaceX Flight Reliability.    “So I think going forward, we’re ready for this important step.”
    Resilience was the first of seven missions NASA contracted with SpaceX.    The next human mission is scheduled for the fall, where another team of astronauts will take on a six-month mission to the Space Station.

5/4/2021 EPA rule would phase out climate-destroying HFCs - EPA rule would phase out climate-destroying HFCs by Matthew Daly, ASSOCIATED PRESS
    WASHINGTON – In the first Biden administration rule aimed at combating climate change, the Environmental Protection Agency is proposing to phase down production and use of hydrofluorocarbons, highly potent greenhouse gases commonly used in refrigerators and air conditioners.
    The proposed rule follows through on a law Congress passed in December authorizing a 15-year phaseout of HFCs.    The new rule is intended to decrease U.S. production and use of the gases by 85% over the next 15 years, part of a global phaseout intended to slow climate change.
    HFCs are considered a major driver of global warming and are being targeted worldwide.    President Joe Biden has pledged to embrace a 2016 global agreement to reduce HFCs.
    'With this proposal, EPA is taking another significant step under President Biden’s ambitious agenda to address the climate crisis,' EPA Administrator Michael Regan said in a statement Monday.    'By phasing down HFCs, which can be hundreds to thousands of times more powerful than carbon dioxide at warming the planet, EPA is taking a major action to help keep global temperature rise in check.'
    The phasedown of HFCs is widely supported by the business community, Regan said, and 'will help promote American leadership in innovation and manufacturing of new climate-safe products.    Put simply, this action is good for our planet and our economy.'
    A huge pandemic relief and spending bill passed by Congress in December, and signed by former President Donald Trump, directs EPA to sharply reduce production and use of HFCs.    The measure won wide support in both parties and was hailed as the most significant climate change law in at least a decade.
    Besides targeting HFCs, the so-called American Innovation and Manufacturing, or AIM, Act also promotes technologies to capture and store carbon dioxide produced by power and manufacturing plants and calls for reductions in diesel emissions by buses and other vehicles.
    Delaware Sen. Tom Carper, a Democrat who chairs the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee, praised the EPA rule and said the United States was joining the rest of the world in reducing use of HFCs, helping to avoid the worst effects of global warming.
    'Passing the AIM Act was a momentous climate achievement that will help save our planet, and today we are one step closer to its benefits being a reality,' Carper said in a statement.
    Carper and Sen. John Kennedy, R-Louisiana, pushed for the HFC proposal, which they said would give U.S. companies the regulatory certainty needed to produce 'next-generation' coolants as an alternative to HFCs.    Both men represent states that are home to chemical companies that produce the alternative refrigerants.
    The HFC provision was supported by an unusual coalition that included major environmental and business groups, including the National Association of Manufacturers and the Air-Conditioning, Heating and Refrigeration Institute, which represents companies that make residential and commercial air conditioners, water heaters and commercial refrigeration equipment.
    'EPA’s action will help create the certainty necessary for U.S. companies to maintain their natural technological advantage in the global HFC marketplace,' said Stephen Yurek, president and CEO of the heating and refrigeration group.
    EPA estimates the proposed rule would save nearly $284billion over the next three decades and prevent the equivalent of 187million metric tons of carbon dioxide emissions, roughly equal to annual greenhouse gas emissions from one out of every seven vehicles registered in the United States.

5/4/2021 Two Tornadoes Rock Ellis County, Texas by OAN Newsroom
The lodge at the Barn on the Brazos wedding venue is shown after being destroyed by a tornado
Tuesday, May 4, 2021, in Blum, Texas. (Yffy Yossifor/Star-Telegram via AP)
    Two tornadoes ripped through the North Texas county of Ellis.    The twisters left a trail of destruction in their wake Monday night and injured eight people.
    According to emergency crews, up to 50 structures were damaged in the storm.
    “A tornado came and took our house apart, or my parents’ house, but they’re safe now,” resident Monica Flores said.    “They did go to the hospital.    My mom got checked out, and [had] a little bit of injuries, knee, ankle and that stuff, but they’re safe.    We have a mighty God because I don’t know how they survived that.”
Cathy Haley wipes away tears while looking over damage caused by a tornado Tuesday,
May 4, 2021, at Barn on the Brazos in Blum, Texas. (Yffy Yossifor/Star-Telegram via AP)

    The storm also managed to cause severe traffic by flipping over at least three big rigs.    No fatalities were reported.

5/5/2021 Analysis-Rail Accident Rattles Mexico’s Presidential Succession Favorites by Dave Graham
Workers move a train car from a site where an overpass for a metro partially collapsed with train cars
on it at Olivos station in Mexico City, Mexico May 4, 2021. REUTERS/Henry Romero
    MEXICO CITY (Reuters) -The dramatic collapse of a rail overpass in Mexico City that killed at least 24 people has dealt a blow to two of President Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador’s most senior aides, who are widely viewed as the leading candidates to succeed him.
    Monday night’s accident has stirred up concern about the city’s infrastructure, in particular Linea 12, the metro line where the collapse occurred, and a flagship project of Foreign Minister Marcelo Ebrard when he was mayor from 2006 to 2012.    Ebrard’s name is strongly associated with Linea 12.
    Its problems have also become a headache for the city’s current mayor, Claudia Sheinbaum, who has taken flak for other accidents in the metro system since she took office 2-1/2 years ago.
    Since opening in 2012, Linea 12 has had a troubled history, suffering disruptions and closures due to technical flaws, as well as allegations of corruption over its construction.
    At a Tuesday morning news conference with Lopez Obrador, reporters called on both Ebrard and Sheinbaum to explain how the metro line could have been so unsound, citing complaints and warnings from the public in advance of the disaster.
    Both politicians said a thorough investigation should be conducted, and urged people to await the findings.
    “Whoever acts with integrity should fear nothing,” said Ebrard, who has consistently rejected the notion there was any wrongdoing in the building of Linea 12, which he inaugurated in late October 2012, a month before his term as mayor ended.
    When asked if he was worried that he would be blamed for the accident, Ebrard noted the completed project was only “definitively delivered” to the Mexico City government in July 2013, several months after he had left office.
    Sheinbaum, in a later news conference, suggested a structural problem had likely caused the collapse, and drew attention to the fact that Linea 12 had a “history.”
    “The issue here is who is responsible,” she said, when asked if the head of the metro system should be fired.
    Political pundits regard Ebrard and Sheinbaum as the main rivals to succeed Lopez Obrador when his term ends in late 2024, although neither has publicly declared they will be candidates.    Lopez Obrador is constitutionally barred from running.
    A spokesman for Ebrard said he was not thinking about 2024, and that his priority was that the victims be looked after and for an independent investigation to be carried out to establish what had triggered the collapse.
    Sheinbaum’s office declined to comment.
    Riding high in the polls as he nears the half-way point of his term, Lopez Obrador has sought to reduce lucrative contracts for big business, but also pressed aides to tighten their belts, fueling criticism that he has hurt public services.
    Perhaps the most powerful figure in the administration after the president, Ebrard is viewed as a political moderate to the right of Lopez Obrador.    Sheinbaum is seen as closer to the president, who often seeks to underline his bond with her.
    The accident occurred a few weeks before nationwide elections on June 6 that will determine who controls the lower house of Congress.    Lopez Obrador’s National Regeneration Movement (MORENA) is heavily favored to come out on top.
    While it was unclear if the accident would have any major electoral impact, it could erode confidence in MORENA in the capital area, said Federico Berrueto, director general of polling firm GCE.
    Mexico City has been dominated by Lopez Obrador’s political machinery since he first won election as mayor in 2000.
    Problems will grow for the government if the metro accident becomes seen as an example of its incompetence, Berrueto said.
    A GCE telephone poll of 401 city residents after the accident showed that some 22% of them spontaneously said the main responsibility lay with Ebrard, while 4.5% picked Sheinbaum.
    Another 17% blamed either the current head of the metro, the city government, or those in charge of maintenance.    Just over one in four people pointed the finger at the companies who built the line, while the federal government was singled out by 3.3%.
    Ramon Pedraza, a 53-year-old who lives near the station where the track came down, criticized Ebrard, accusing him of cutting corners to finish Linea 12. Ebrard has always rejected such accusations.
    If the blame sticks to the government, it could spell trouble for Ebrard and Sheinbaum, said Fernando Belaunzaran, an opposition politician from Mexico City and former party colleague of the two.
    “If the problem was structural, it hits Marcelo.    If the problem was maintenance, it hits Sheinbaum,” he said.    “The struggle over succession will be about trying to demarcate the responsibility.”
(Reporting by Dave GrahamAdditional reporting by Daina Beth SolomonEditing by Frank Jack Daniel and Rosalba O’Brien)

5/6/2021 Biden pushes for diversity in transition to clean energy - Biden pushes for diversity in transition to clean energy by Cathy Bussewitz by ASSOCIATED PRESS
    NEW YORK – As the nation pushes to reduce its reliance on fossil fuels and use cleaner energy sources, President Joe Biden’s administration says it wants to ensure diversity among the communities that benefit from the transition and the people who are hired to do the work.
    The administration says it wants more solar arrays erected in communities that have suffered from pollution caused by fossil fuels.    It’s also directing research grants and opportunities to students and faculty members at historically Black colleges and minority-serving institutions.
    The Department of Energy on Tuesday announced $15.5million in new funding to deploy solar energy in underserved communities and to build a more diverse, skilled workforce to help reach the administration’s ambitious goal of 100% clean energy by 2035.
    Another $17.3million, announced Monday, was awarded for internships and research opportunities designed to connect students and faculty in science, technology, engineering and math with resources at the Department of Energy’s National Laboratories.
    Biden has set a goal that 40% of overall benefits of federal climate and clean-energy investments goes to disadvantaged communities.
    'This administration is really committed to making the transition to clean energy an inclusive transition, offering benefits to every community, because not every community has benefited up to this point,' Energy Secretary Jennifer Granholm said in a discussion at Howard University, a historically Black college, Monday.    'In fact, some communities, particularly communities that are indigenous and Black and people of color, have disproportionately been negatively affected by pollution, and so we want to make sure that voices are at the table that are representative of communities who can benefit from this transition.'
    Historically Black colleges have faced unequal access to federal funding for research, Granholm said.
    The problem stems from inequities in research infrastructure such as grants and personnel to administer them, as well as access to top laboratories at some of the historically Black colleges, said Kim Lewis, associate dean for research, graduate programs and natural sciences at Howard University.
    'For example, not having state-of-the-art research laboratories could prevent or minimize faculty members from getting or obtaining preliminary data to demonstrate a proof of concept that’s needed to compete for these research funds,' Lewis said.
    Many faculty members also have a heavy teaching workload, and there may be implicit bias during the review process, she added.
    Data shows that the U.S. needs diversity in science, technology, engineering and math, and 'it’s a huge priority for the Biden administration,' Granholm said.
    The Energy Department under Biden has awarded research grants to students and faculty from 57 institutions – nearly half of which were minority-serving institutions – to collaborate with staff from the department’s National Laboratories this summer.
    The solar funding announced Tuesday will provide free technical assistance to communities to streamline the process for installing solar.    That, in turn, helps attract investment and lowers energy costs for consumers.
Energy Secretary Jennifer Granholm elbow bumps student Christopher Flowers after a roundtable
discussion at Howard University in Washington Monday. Stefani Reynolds/Pool via AP

5/9/2021 NASA chief eyes climate, hedges on moon landing by Marcia Dunn, ASSOCIATED PRESS
    CAPE CANAVERAL, Fla. – NASA’s new administrator is big on tackling climate and diversifying the agency’s workforce, but hedging on whether the U.S. can put astronauts on the moon by 2024.
    In his first interview since becoming NASA’s top official, former Sen. Bill Nelson said that tracking climate change is a top issue. He also wants to diversify the space agency’s workforce so it reflects America.
    His underlying vision for NASA: “to explore the heavens with humans and machines.”
    For landing astronauts on the moon, Nelson said the goal remains 2024, a deadline set by the Trump administration.    But he said he needs more time to review the matter, especially with challenges to the contract for the astronauts’ lunar lander.
    “That is the intended schedule, but I think we have to put a dose of sobering reality into our analysis,” he said from NASA headquarters in Washington, D.C.
    The lunar expeditions will benefit the Martian crews, according to Nelson. Whether the 2030s is still feasible for human Mars missions, “all of that is being discussed,” he said.
    Nelson commended Elon Musk’s SpaceX for its achievements over the past year – flying astronauts to and from the International Space Station for NASA, and last week successfully launching and landing a full-scale Starship prototype for the first time. Starship is what NASA intends to use to land astronauts on the moon; that $3 billion contract, however, is being protested by the two losing companies.
    He’s also in support of all the private flights coming up, first by Jeff Bezos’ Blue Origin to the fringes of space in July and then by SpaceX all the way to orbit in September.
    Might the 78-year-old Nelson, who flew on space shuttle Columbia in 1986, be interested in a commercial space ride?     “I double-dare them to offer me the opportunity,” he said, laughing.    He quickly clarified, “It’s time for the young ones.”
    But he noted: “I’m still doing my pushups and I’m still doing my pullups and I’m still jogging – so don’t tempt me.”
    Nelson said he did not seek the NASA administrator job, and had recommended three women.    He said he told the Biden administration he would accept the nomination only if one of the women could serve as his deputy.    Selected for the job: former space shuttle commander Pam Melroy.
    Nelson steps into NASA’s top job after 44 years of public service, 42 of them in an elected public office.    He is NASA’s 14th administrator, the third to fly in space.
    It was while Nelson was a congressman that he rode on the shuttle – just two weeks before Challenger’s astronauts perished during liftoff.
    Following the shuttles’ retirement in 2011, NASA had to rely on Russia to ferry its astronauts to and from the space station – until the first SpaceX crew flight last year.
    “Despite the differences of the political governments, we’ve always had that space cooperation,” Nelson said.    “And it is my fervent hope that that will continue.”
Former Sen. Bill Nelson said his underlying vision for NASA is “to explore
the heavens with humans and machines.” SAUL LOEB/AP

5/9/2021 Neanderthal remains found near Rome by ASSOCIATED PRESS
    ROME – Italian archaeologists have uncovered the fossilized remains of nine Neanderthals in a cave near Rome, shedding new light on how the Italian peninsula was populated and under what environmental conditions.
    The Italian Culture Ministry announced the discovery Saturday, saying it confirmed that the Guattari Cave in San Felice Circeo was “one of the most significant places in the world for the history of Neanderthals.”    A Neanderthal skull was discovered in the cave in 1939.
    The fossilized bones include skulls, skull fragments, two teeth and other bone fragments.    The oldest remains date from between 100,000 and 90,000 years ago, and the other eight Neanderthals are believed to date from 50,000 to 68,000 years ago, the Culture Ministry said in a statement.
    Archaeologists said the cave had perfectly preserved the environment of 50,000 years ago.    They noted that fossilized animal remains found in the cave – elephant, rhinoceros and giant deer, among others – shed light on the flora and fauna of the area and its climactic history.

5/10/2021 'Living Fossil' Thought Extinct For 273 Million Years Found Thriving on Ocean Floor by Michelle Starr
    A symbiotic relationship between two marine lifeforms has just been discovered thriving at the bottom of the ocean, after disappearing from the fossil record for hundreds of millions of years.
© Zapalski et al., Palaeogeogr. Palaeoclimatol. Palaeoecol., 2021
    Scientists have found non-skeletal corals growing from the stalks of marine animals known as crinoids, or sea lilies, on the floor of the Pacific Ocean, off the coasts of Honshu and Shikoku in Japan.
    "These specimens represent the first detailed records and examinations of a recent syn vivo association of a crinoid (host) and a hexacoral (epibiont)," the researchers wrote in their paper, "and therefore analyses of these associations can shed new light on our understanding of these common Paleozoic associations."
    During the Paleozoic era, crinoids and corals seem to have gotten along very well indeed.    The seafloor fossil record is full of it, yielding countless examples of corals overgrowing crinoid stems to climb above the seafloor into the water column, to stronger ocean currents for filter-feeding.
    Yet these benthic besties disappeared from the fossil record around 273 million years ago, after the specific crinoids and corals in question went extinct.    Other species of crinoids and corals emerged in the Mesozoic, following the Permian-Triassic extinction - but never again have we seen them together in a symbiotic relationship.
a close up of a flower: symbiosis 1/1 SLIDES © Provided by ScienceAlert symbiosis (Zapalski et al., Palaeogeogr. Palaeoclimatol. Palaeoecol., 2021)
    Well, until now. At depths exceeding 100 meters (330 feet) below the ocean's surface, scientists have found two different species of coral - hexacorals of the genera Abyssoanthus, which is very rare, and Metridioidea, a type of sea anemone - growing from the stems of living Japanese sea lilies (Metacrinus rotundus).
    The joint Polish-Japanese research team, led by paleontologist Mikolaj Zapalski of the University of Warsaw in Poland, first used stereoscopic microscopy to observe and photograph the specimens.
    Then, they used non-destructive microtomography to scan the specimens to reveal their interior structures, and DNA barcoding to identify the species.
    They found that the corals, which attached below the feeding fans of the crinoids, likely didn't compete with their hosts for food; and, being non-skeletal, likely didn't affect the flexibility of the crinoid stalks, although the anemone may have hindered movement of the host's cirri - thin strands that line the stalk.
    It's also unclear what benefit the crinoids gain from a relationship with coral, but one interesting thing did emerge: unlike the Paleozoic corals, the new specimens did not modify the structure of the crinoids' skeleton.
    This, the researchers said, can help explain the gap in the fossil record.    The Paleozoic fossils of symbiotic corals and crinoids involve corals that have a calcite skeleton, such as Rugosa and Tabulata.
    Fossils of soft-bodied organisms - such as non-skeletal corals - are rare.    Zoantharia such as Abyssoanthus have no confirmed fossil record, and actiniaria such as Metridioidea (seen as a dry specimen in the image below) also are extremely limited.
    If these corals don't modify the host, and leave no fossil record, perhaps they have had a long relationship with crinoids that has simply not been recorded.
    This means the modern relationship between coral and crinoid could contain some clues as to Paleozoic interactions between coral and crinoid. There's evidence to suggest that zoantharians and rugose corals share a common ancestor, for instance.
    The number of specimens recovered to date is small, but now that we know they are there, perhaps more work can be done to discover the history of this fascinating friendship.
    "As both Actiniaria and Zoantharia have their phylogenetic roots deep in the Palaeozoic, and coral-crinoid associations were common among Palaeozoic Tabulate and Rugose corals, we can speculate that also Palaeozoic non-skeletal corals might have developed this strategy of settling on crinoids," the researchers wrote in their paper.
    "The coral-crinoid associations, characteristic of Palaeozoic benthic communities, disappeared by the end of Permian, and this current work represents the first detailed examination of their rediscovery in modern seas."
    The research has been published in Palaeogeography, Palaeoclimatology, Palaeoecology.

5/10/2021 David Attenborough Named COP26 People’s Advocate Ahead Of Key Climate Summit
FILE PHOTO: Broadcaster and film maker David Attenborough attends the premiere of Blue Planet II at the
British Film Institute in London, Britain, September 27, 2017. REUTERS/Hannah McKay/File Photo
    LONDON (Reuters) – Britain has tasked naturalist David Attenborough with inspiring action to tackle the issue of climate change as its People’s Advocate ahead of the United Nations’ Climate Change Conference (COP26) in November in Glasgow, Scotland.
    COP26 could accelerate measures by the world’s biggest polluters to tackle climate change, which activists, scientists and world leaders say could ultimately endanger the planet.
    Britain holds the presidency of the conference this year.
    Attenborough, 95, the world’s most influential wildlife broadcaster, will exhort leaders at events over the next six months to put climate and the protection of nature at the top of their agenda, including at the Group of Seven summit in Cornwall, southwest England, in June, the UK government said on Monday.
    He has also been invited to address world leaders and the public at the Glasgow summit, which has been billed as the most important climate meeting since the Paris Agreement in 2015.
    “David Attenborough has already inspired millions of people in the UK and around the world with his passion and knowledge to act on climate change and protect the planet for future generations.    There is no better person to build momentum for further change as we approach the COP26 climate summit in November,” said Prime Minister Boris Johnson.
    Johnson, who is keen to burnish his environmental credentials, has said he will push leaders at the G7 summit he will chair to make firm climate commitments.
    Attenborough said COP26 had to succeed.
    “There could not be a more important moment that we should have international agreement.    The epidemic has shown us how crucial it is to find agreement among nations if we are to solve such worldwide problems,” he said.
    In February, Attenborough told the U.N. Security Council that climate change is the biggest security threat that modern humans have ever faced.
(Reporting by James Davey; Editing by Sonya Hepinstall)

5/10/2021 EU Parliament Committee Rubber-Stamps Climate Change Law
European Union flags flutter outside the EU Commission headquarters in Brussels, Belgium May 5, 2021. REUTERS/Yves Herman
    BRUSSELS (Reuters) – Lawmakers on the European Parliament’s environment committee on Monday voted to approve the EU’s landmark climate change law, clearing one of the final hurdles before it enters into force.
    Negotiators from parliament and the European Union’s 27 member states last month struck a deal on the landmark law to make the bloc’s climate change targets legally binding.
    Those targets are to cut net EU greenhouse gas emissions by at least 55% by 2030 from 1990 levels, and eliminate them by 2050.
    Parliament had pushed for a tougher target to cut emissions by 60% by 2030, a position spearheaded by lawmakers on its environment committee.
    On Monday, the committee gave the green light to the law including its 55% emissions-cutting target for 2030, with 52 votes in favour, 24 against and 4 abstentions.    Green lawmakers who wanted tougher goals were among those to vote against it.
    The law faces two further votes before it enters into force.    It is expected to pass both.    The full EU assembly will vote on the law in June, after which EU member states will approve it.
    The EU climate law also requires the bloc to form an independent board of scientific experts to advise on future climate policies.    It requires the EU to set a 2040 emissions-cutting target, and create a budget-like mechanism to define the total emissions the EU could produce from 2030-2050 without scuppering its climate goals.
(Reporting by Kate Abnett; Editing by Hugh Lawson)

5/10/2021 Fantastical Jurassic Fossil Shows Crustacean Eaten by Squid Eaten by Shark by Carly Cassella
    Jurassic, an ancient squid-like creature speared a yummy lobster-like crustacean with its many hooked tentacles.    Just as it began to dig into its meal, the eater became the eaten.
© Klug et al., Swiss Journal of Palaeontology, 2021 The remains of a belemnite and a crustacean.
    A much larger predator swooped in, tore a chunk out of the squid's soft middle and dashed off, leaving the leftovers of this three-way feeding fest sinking slowly to the bottom.
    Roughly 180 million years later, the fossilized scene has been discovered in a quarry in Germany, and after close analysis, archaeologists now think they've figured out who was at the top of the food chain.
    According to experts, the extinct squid-like cephalopod, known as a belemnite, was most probably killed by an ancient crocodile, shark, or other large predatory fish.
    Whatever it was, the predator didn't stick around to finish its meal, likely because cephalopods have tough rostra - beaks that are hard, pointed and difficult to digest.
    This means the hunter probably wasn't an ichthyosaur, even though fossils of these extinct marine reptiles suggest they were particularly skilled at picking around the hard areas of belemnites.    Their stomach contents only show the mega-hooks found on belemnite tentacles and no other hard structures.
    Fossilized stomachs of marine crocodiles and predatory fish, on the other hand, suggest these creatures gobbled everything down, swallowing both the mega-hooks and the hard beaks of squid.
    Yet eating the whole squid isn't necessarily a good thing.    A fossilized shark, also found in Germany from the Jurassic, was found with a whole pile of belemnite beaks in its stomach, and experts say these hard structures likely caused the shark's death.    The diagram below shows the extreme blockage they created in the creature's stomach.
map: Screen Shot 2021 05 11 at 1.00.13 pm Full screen 1/1 SLIDES © Provided by ScienceAlert Screen Shot 2021 05 11 at 1.00.13 pm
The Early Jurassic shark, Hybodus haufanus, with its stomach clogged by belemnite rostra. (Klug et al., Swiss J Palaeontol., 2021)
    After some uncomfortable experiences, the authors suggest ancient sharks and crocs in the Jurassic learned to go after only the soft parts of their squid prey, choosing to drop the fins, rostrum, and mantle.
    In the current fossil, for example, the belemnite has retained its rostrum and arms, but everything soft in between is gone.
diagram, map: fossil found of ancien 1 2 Full screen 1/1 SLIDES © Provided by ScienceAlert fossil found of
1 2 Preserved arm crown of belemnite and remains of its prey. (Klug et al., Swiss J Palaeontol., 2021)
    "Remarkably, most of the belemnite soft parts between the arm crown and the calcitic rostrum are missing," the authors note.     "We suggest that this represents remains of a meal of a vertebrate predator, possibly of the Early Jurassic shark Hybodus hauffianus. This is remarkable, because it informs about the behavior of a cephalopod and a vertebrate predator."     A possible scenario explaining the fossilized remains has been illustrated below, showing a squid-like creature chewing on a crustacean while, in turn, a shark chews on it.
fossil found of ancient 2 Full screen 1/1 SLIDES © Provided by ScienceAlert fossil
found of ancien 2 (Klug et al., Swiss J Palaeontol., 2021)
    The team have classified their discovery as a 'leftover fall', which is sort of like a whale fall, except this one is caused by an ocean predator dropping all or part of its meal.     Once the uneaten prey sinks to the bottom, fewer scavengers and weaker currents make fossilization more likely.     The result is a 'pabulite', a term which the authors of the new study have coined to describe a fossilized leftover fall. It's a combination of the Latin word for food, pabulum, and the Greek word for stone, lithos.     Pabulites have been discovered numerous times over the years, and while solitary heads, fins and tails of ancient creatures might seem less valuable then a complete fossil, these incomplete remains can help us form a unique picture of the Jurassic food web.
    The study was published in Swiss Journal of Palaeontology.

5/11/2021 Tiny dinosaur likely hunted during night by Doyle Rice, USA TODAY
    Though most dinosaurs are thought to have hunted primarily during the day, a little bird-like dinosaur may have been strictly a night hunter, a new study suggested.
    The dinosaur, Shuvuuia deserti, was small, about the size of a chicken, and it lived about 65 million years ago in the deserts of what is now Mongolia.
    Shuvuuia’s skeleton is among the most bizarre of all dinosaurs, the study said. It had a fragile, bird-like skull; brawny, weightlifter arms with a single claw on each hand; and long, roadrunner- like legs.
    It had some of the proportionally largest pupils ever measured in either birds or dinosaurs.
    “For many decades, dinosaurs were considered to be day-active,” study coauthor Lars Schmitz, a biologist at the W.M. Keck Science Department in California, said in a statement.    “Now we’re adding new evidence that some small, predatory dinosaurs could have been night-active instead, which changes the thinking about diurnal and nocturnal dinosaurs.”
    The study was published Thursday in the peer-reviewed journal Science.

5/11/2021 China’s space agency says criticism unfair by ASSOCIATED PRESS
    BEIJING – China’s government defended its handling of a rocket booster that burned up over the Indian Ocean and said Monday it was unfairly being held to different standards than the U.S. and other space programs.
    The administrator of the American space agency and others accused Beijing of acting recklessly by allowing its rocket to fall to Earth seemingly uncontrolled Sunday after carrying a space station into orbit.
    The Chinese space agency said most of the 100-foot main stage of the Long March 5B rocket burned up above the Maldives.
    “China has been closely tracking its trajectory and issued statements on the reentry situation in advance,” Foreign Ministry spokesperson Hua Chunying said.    “There has been no report of harm on the ground. China also shares the results of reentry predictions through international cooperation mechanisms.”
    The rocket carried the main section of the Tianhe, or Heavenly Harmony, space station into orbit on April 29.    China plans 10 more launches to complete construction of the station.
    Booster rockets usually fall back to Earth soon after takeoff.    China’s space agency hasn’t said why the Long March was sent temporarily into orbit.
    NASA Administrator Bill Nelson accused China in a statement of “failing to meet responsible standards” in handling space debris.
    Hua, the Chinese spokesperson, complained that Beijing was being treated unfairly.
    She pointed to the reaction to debris from a rocket launched by U.S. aerospace company SpaceX that fell to Earth in Washington and on the Oregon coast in March.
    “American media used romantic rhetoric like ‘shooting stars lighting up the night sky,’” she said.    “But when it comes to the Chinese side, it’s a completely different approach.”
    “We are willing to work with other countries including the United States to strengthen cooperation in the use of outer space, but we also oppose double standards on this issue,” Hua said.
A Long March 5B rocket carrying a module for a Chinese space station lifts off April 29
in southern China’s Hainan Province. JU ZHENHUA/AP

5/11/2021 Odd little bird-like dinosaur hunted at night, study suggests by Doyle Rice, USA TODAY
    Though most dinosaurs are thought to have hunted primarily during the day, a little bird-like dinosaur may have been strictly a night hunter, a new study suggested.
    The dinosaur, Shuvuuia deserti, was a small critter, about the size of a chicken, and it lived about 65 million years ago in the deserts of what is now Mongolia.
    Shuvuuia’s skeleton is among the most bizarre of all dinosaurs, the study said.    It had a fragile, bird-like skull; brawny, weightlifter arms with a single claw on each hand; and long, roadrunner- like legs.
    “Nocturnal activity, digging ability and long hind limbs are all features of animals that live in deserts today,” said study lead author Jonah Choiniere, a University of the Witwatersrand scientist.    “But it’s surprising to see them all combined in a single dinosaur species that lived more than 65 million years ago.”
    It had some of the proportionally largest pupils ever measured in either birds or dinosaurs.
    “For many decades, dinosaurs were considered to be day-active,” study coauthor Lars Schmitz, a biologist at the W.M. Keck Science Department in California, said in a statement.    “Now we’re adding new evidence that some small, predatory dinosaurs could have been night-active instead, which changes the thinking about diurnal and nocturnal dinosaurs.”
    The study investigated how vision and hearing abilities of dinosaurs and birds compared. Researchers used CT scans and detailed measurements to collect information on the relative size of the eyes and inner ears of nearly 100 living bird and extinct dinosaur species.
    To measure hearing, the team measured the length of the lagena, the organ that processes incoming sound information.    The barn owl, which can hunt in complete darkness using hearing alone, has the proportionally longest lagena of any bird today.
    The extremely large lagena of Shuvuuia is almost identical in relative size to the barn owl, suggesting that the dino could have hunted in complete darkness.
    The study said Shuvuuia’s vision and hearing were not at all ideal for the daytime.    Schmitz explained that the dinosaur’s extraordinary hearing and night vision were beneficial for life in the desert, where high temperatures discouraged daytime hunting.
    “We think it would have stalked its prey – small mammals – at night when the temperatures were cooler,” Schmitz told CNN.
    “This discovery is a great example of how evolution functions,” Schmitz said.    “It represents a solid understanding of how eyes and ears evolve in response to animals’ specific environments.”
    The study was published Thursday in the peer-reviewed journal Science, a publication of the American Association for the Advancement of Science.
Shuvuuia deserti, shown in an artist’s rendering, had a bird-like skull, brawny arms
with a single claw on each hand and long legs. PROVIDED BY VIKTOR RADERMAKER

5/11/2021 NASA Spacecraft Coming Back To Earth by OAN Newsroom
FILE – This illustration provided by NASA depicts the OSIRIS-REx spacecraft at the asteroid Bennu. On Monday, May 10, 2021, the robotic explorer fired its engines,
headed back to Earth with samples it collected from the asteroid, nearly 200 million miles away. (Conceptual Image Lab/Goddard Space Flight Center/NASA via AP)
    On Monday, NASA’s OSIRIS-REx began its trip back to Earth after being declared the first NASA spacecraft to collect physical samples from an asteroid for a return mission.
    The spacecraft fired up its main throttle for around seven minutes before taking flight, making sure to dust off the rust that has accumulated since it reached the asteroid Bennu in 2018.    In October, OSIRIS-REx scavenged Bennu, collecting around two pounds of rocks and dust.
    OSIRIS-REx had studied the ancient body of Bennu for two years, paying close attention to the asteroid’s rubble-like consistency and surface terrain.    This sparked further interest as to what history it holds.
    It will take the spacecraft approximately 2.5 years before ultimately reaching its’ home planet and will be transporting what is reported to be the biggest cosmic haul for the U.S. since the Apollo moon rocks.
OSIRIS-REx is expected to reach Earth by the end of September 2023 and will touchdown in the Utah desert. Researchers hope the mission will help give humanity a deeper understanding of our solar system.

5/11/2021 Woman Fights On For Damages Over Vietnam War Use Of ‘Agent Orange’ by Yiming Woo and Sarah Meysonnier
Tran To Nga, a French-Vietnamese woman, who claims she was a victim of Agent Orange, attends
a news conference in Paris, France, May 11, 2021.     REUTERS/Sarah Meyssonnier
    PARIS (Reuters) – An elderly French-Vietnamese woman vowed on Tuesday to pursue her legal fight to obtain compensation for health problems which she says were caused by exposure to the toxic herbicide “Agent Orange” during the Vietnam War.
    Earlier this week, a French court rejected a lawsuit filed by 79-year old Tran To Nga against 14 chemical companies, but she told reporters she would appeal.
    “I am disappointed, I am angry, but I am not sad,” said Tran To Nga, whose news conference was broadcast on Reuters TV.
    “We are going to carry on because our cause is just.    Truth is on our side,” she added.
    U.S. warplanes dropped about 18 million gallons (68 million litres) of Agent Orange – so-called because it was stored in drums with orange bands – between the early 1960s and early 1970s to defoliate jungles and destroy Viet Cong crops.
    Tran, who worked as a journalist and activist in Vietnam in her 20s, has said she suffers from effects including Type 2 diabetes and a rare insulin allergy.
    Her lawsuit, first filed in 2014, sought compensation from chemical firms including U.S. companies Dow Chemical and Monsanto, now owned by Germany’s Bayer.
    Those multinational companies had argued they could not be held legally responsible for how the U.S. military had decided to use their product.
    So far, only military veterans from the United States and other countries involved in the war have won compensation over Agent Orange.    In 2008, a U.S. federal appeals court upheld the dismissal of a civil lawsuit against major U.S. chemical companies brought by Vietnamese plaintiffs.
    The United States has said there is no scientifically proven link to support the claims of dioxin poisoning of many Vietnamese plaintiffs.
(Reporting by Yiming woo and Sarah Meysonnier; Editing by Sudip Kar-Gupta and Estelle Shirbon)

5/13/2021 Terrifying rare fish washes up in Calif. - Toothy species of angler usually 3,000 feet deep by Jordan Mendoza, USA TODAY
    California is known for its beautiful beaches and scenic views, but not even the Golden State can get away from the creatures that lurk in its waters.
    In case anyone needed a reminder of how scary the ocean is, a fish known as the Pacific football fish washed up on the shores of Crystal Cove State Park in Newport Beach, California, located 60 miles south of Santa Monica, on Friday.
    A beachgoer named Ben Eslef noticed the creature on the shore, according to Davey’s Locker Sportfishing & Whale Watching.
    The Pacific football fish is one of over 200 species of angler fish across the world, according to Crystal Cove State Park officials.
    To others, it may be a fish of nightmares.
    If the appearance of this fish didn’t spook you, then wait until you hear more about it.
    “Their teeth, like pointed shards of glass, are transparent and their large mouth is capable of sucking up and swallowing prey the size of their own body.    While females can reach lengths of 24 inches, males only grow to be about an inch long and their sole purpose is to find a female and help her reproduce.    Males latch onto the female with their teeth and become ‘sexual parasites,’ eventually coalescing with the female until nothing is left of their form but their testes for reproduction,” park officials said on Facebook.
    The species is known for the bioluminescent tips – which only females possess – that it uses to entice prey, as they are typically found in dark waters as deep as 3,000 feet.    Park officials added that it is rare to find an angler fish intact, and they do not know how the fish washed ashore.
    “Seeing this strange and fascinating fish is a testament to the diversity of marine life lurking below the water’s surface in California’s MPAs and as scientists continue to learn more about these deep-sea creatures, it’s important to reflect on how much is still to be learned from our wonderful ocean,” park officials said.
    The fish is in the custody of the California Department of Fish & Wildlife.
A Pacific football fish was found in Newport Beach, Calif. PROVIDED BY CRYSTAL COVE STATE PARK

5/14/2021 Rare 'Alien' Isotopes in Earth's Crust Point to Recent Brush With a Cataclysmic Event by Mike McRae
    Far down in the periodic table you'll find a list of heavy elements born in chaos.    The kind of chaos you might find in an exploding star perhaps, or a collision between two neutron stars.
© MEHAU KULYK/Brand X Pictures/Getty Images
    Physicists have uncovered a pair of large, still-radioactive isotopes in samples of deep-sea crust pulled up from 1,500 meters (nearly 5,000 feet) below the Pacific Ocean.
    We'd expect to see many heavyweight elements in the swirl of dust and gas that formed our planet eons ago - but most should have decayed into more stable forms long before now.    So finding examples in Earth's crust close to the surface today raises some interesting questions.
    The finding could tell us a thing or two about cataclysmic cosmic events taking place within a few hundred light-years from Earth, and relatively recently in our geological history.    It could also shine a light on the way atomic heavyweights form.
    You see, building atoms takes a lot of energy.    Protons can be squeezed into helium under the kind of gravity you'd find in a star, but stellar fusion will only take you so far.    To build a chunky behemoth such as plutonium, you'll need the kind of energy that can deliver a machine-gun burst of neutrons.
    There are a few conditions in the Universe under which this 'rapid neutron capture', or r-process, can occur, including supernovae and neutron star mergers.
    Over the history of the Universe, plenty of stars have crashed and popped to spill a thick dust of iron, uranium, plutonium, gold, and other fat atoms throughout the galaxy.    So it's to be expected that planets like Earth would have scooped up a good amount of them.
    But not all elements are born the same.    Variations in the number of their neutrons make some more stable than others.
    Iron 60, for example, is a 'blink and you'll miss it' kind of isotope if you view it on the cosmic scale, with a half-life of just 2.6 million years before it decays into nickel.
    Finding this short-lived isotope on our planet today – especially in the crust, just out of reach of modern artificial processes – would imply a relatively recent delivery of iron fresh from the cosmos.
    Iron 60 has appeared in rock samples before, dating back just a couple of million years.    It's also been seen in materials brought back from the lunar surface.
    But to get a good sense of the specific kind of r-process that produced these specimens, it would pay to see what other isotopes rained down with them.
    Physicist Anton Wallner from the Australian National University led a team of researchers in search of new samples of iron 60 to see if they could identify isotopes of other heavy elements close by.
    What they found was plutonium 244, an isotope with a half-life of just over 80 million years – stable for plutonium, but hardly the kind of element you'd expect to stick around since our planet came together 4.5 billion years ago.
    In all, the team discovered two distinct influxes of iron 60 which had to have arrived within the past 10 million years.    Both samples were accompanied by small but significant quantities of plutonium 244, each in a similar ratio.
    Finding them together adds more detail than finding either apart.    The amount of plutonium in them is lower than would be expected if supernovae were primarily responsible for their production, pointing to contributions from other r-processes.
    Exactly what was behind this particular sprinkle of alien space dust is left up to our imagination for now.
    "The story is complicated," says Wallner.
    "Possibly this plutonium-244 was produced in supernova explosions or it could be left over from a much older, but even more spectacular event such as a neutron star detonation."
    By measuring their respective radioactive fuses and making a few assumptions on the astrophysics behind their distribution, the researchers speculate the production of iron 60 is compatible with two to four supernova events going off between 50 and 100 parsecs (around 160 and 330 light years) of Earth.
    This isn't the first-time iron 60 has indicated a supernova taking place perilously close by in recent history.
    By looking at the isotope in connection with other elements, we could slowly build a signature that tells us more about the crash-bang conditions of our neighborhood in the millions of years before humans started to pay close attention.
    It'll take more hunting for alien isotopes, though.
    "Our data could be the first evidence that supernovae do indeed produce plutonium-244," says Wallner.
    "Or perhaps it was already in the interstellar medium before the supernova went off, and it was pushed across the Solar System together with the supernova ejecta."
    This research was published in Science.

5/14/2021 EPA revokes Trump-era policy that loosened clean-air rules
    WASHINGTON – The Environmental Protection Agency is revoking a Trumpera rule that overhauled how the agency evaluates air pollutants, a move the Biden administration says will make it easier to enact limits on dangerous and climate-changing emissions.    EPA said Thursday it reviewed a rule issued by the Trump administration last year and found that it imposed procedural restrictions and other requirements that would have limited EPA’s ability to use the best available science in developing regulations under the Clean Air Act.

5/14/2021 Super-thin mirror could prove existence of dark matter by Stacy Liberatore For
© Provided by Daily Mail MailOnline logo
    Dark matter, which is said to make up 85 percent of the universe, has eluded scientists for more than 50 years, but new research may have solved why.
    A team of American researchers hypothesize that our galaxy is filled with tiny particles with mass, known as dark photons, and traditional particle physics experiments are unable to detect them.
    With this new hypothesis, the team proposes a coin-sized accelerometer made of silicon nitride and a super-thin mirror to bounce light between the two surfaces.
    If the distance between the two materials changes, researchers would know from the reflected light that dark photons were present because the silicon nitride and beryllium have different material properties - thus revealing the existence of dark matter.
© Provided by Daily Mail
    The idea of dark matter, originally known as 'missing matter,' was formulated in 1933, following the discover that mass of all stars in the Coma cluster of the galaxies used about one percent of the mass needed to keep galaxies from escaping the cluster's gravitational pull.
    Decades later in the 1970s, American astronomers Vera Rubin and Kent Ford found anomalies in the orbits of stars in galaxies.
    This discovery sparked a theory among the scientific community that the anomalies were caused by masses of invisible 'dark matter,' located in and around galaxies.
    University of Delaware's Swati Singh gives another explanation to the existence of dark matter.
© Provided by Daily Mail
    When adding up all things that emit light, such as stars, planets and interstellar gas, the total only comes to about 15 percent of matter in the universe, which is why experts say dark matter makes up the other 85 percent.
    The mysterious substance does not emit light, but researchers are sure it exists by its gravitational effect – and they know it is not typical matter such is not ordinary matter, such as gas, dust, stars, planets and us.
    'It could be made up of black holes, or it could be made up of something trillions of times smaller than an electron, known as ultralight dark matter' said Singh, a quantum theorist known for her pioneering efforts to push forward mechanical dark matter detection.
    And now Signh and her colleagues propose the elusive matter is made of up trillions of tiny, light weight particles known as dark photons.
© Provided by Daily Mail
    This is a type of dark matter that would exert a weak oscillating force on normal matter, causing a particle to move back and forth.
    However, since dark matter is everywhere, it exerts that force on everything, making it hard to measure this movement.
    The team believes they can overcome this obstacle using accelerometers, a tool that measures proper acceleration or vibration.
    The device is a thin piece of silica nitride glass that is stretched into a drum, along with a fixed beryllium mirror - the same material NASA used on its James Webb Telescope that will study the oldest and mist distant stars.
    'It is 100 nanometers thick and a millimeter wide.    Such extreme ratios of thinness to width make the drum very sensitive to inertial forces while at the same time decoupling it from other environmental disturbances,' according to the team.
    'If the force is material dependent, by using two objects composed of different materials the amount that they are forced will be different, meaning that you would be able to measure that difference in acceleration between the two materials,' said Jack Manley, a UD doctoral student, the paper's lead author.
    Dalziel Wilson, a University of Arizona assistant professor, describes the device as similar to a miniature tuning fork.
    'It's a vibrating device, which, due to its small size, is very sensitive to perturbations from the environment,' he said.

5/14/2021 Earth's stratosphere has been shrinking for 40 years. That could one day screw with orbiting satellites by (Aylin Woodward)
© Provided by Business Insider A band of subtropical stratocumulus clouds
as seen from space. Aleksandar Georgiev/Getty Images
  • Earth's stratosphere - an atmospheric layer that starts 7.5 miles above the surface - is shrinking.
  • The stratosphere has gotten a quarter-mile thinner since 1980 and will keep contracting.
  • That shrinkage, caused by greenhouse gases, could throw off the trajectories of orbiting satellites.
  • See more stories on Insider's business page.
    About 7.5 miles above our heads, the stratosphere>     That slice of sky - where supersonic jets and weather balloons fly - stretches up to 31 miles above Earth's surface.    But according to new research, this layer of the atmosphere has shrunk by a quarter-mile in the last 40 years.
    A study published last week in the journal Environmental Research Letters shows that humanity's greenhouse-gas emissions are behind the startling contraction.
    As carbon dioxide from the burning of fossil fuels enters the lowest level of the atmosphere - known as the troposphere - it traps some of the sunlight that hits Earth as that light is being reflected back into space.    That's why the planet's temperature is rising.    The more emissions rise, the more heat from the sun stays trapped on Earth and the less it can warm the stratosphere as it travels spaceward.    So, the stratosphere is cooling.
    As the stratosphere cools, it shrinks (as most materials do). Between the 1960s and mid-2010s, it cooled by up to 5 degrees Fahrenheit (3 degrees Celsius).    If global greenhouse-gas emissions continue at their current level or increase, that shrinkage is expected to continue.
    The new study suggests that the stratosphere will get almost a mile thinner by 2080 - about a 4% decrease from its average thickness between 1980 and 2018.
    That thinning could eventually mess with GPS navigational systems, radio communications, or the trajectories of orbiting satellites. A contracting atmosphere
© NASA/Marshall Space Flight Center An image taken from the space station shows the limb of the
Earth transitioning into the orange-colored stratosphere. NASA/Marshall Space Flight Center
    Imagine Earth's atmosphere as a decadent, layered trifle cake.
    The troposphere is closest layer to the planet, a 7.5-mile band where most of our weather happens, and where commercial airplanes fly.    It meets the stratosphere above it at a boundary known as the tropopause.
    On the stratosphere's other side is the mesosphere, which extends 50 miles up; the boundary between those two layers is called the stratopause.    Then comes the upper atmosphere, reaching 440 miles high.    That includes the thermosphere, where satellites and the International Space Station orbit, and the ionosphere.
    According to the new study, the boundaries on either side of the stratosphere - the tropopause and the stratopause - are getting to closer to each other, suggesting the stratosphere is being compressed.    Since 1980, the altitude of the tropopause has been increasing, and the altitude of the stratopause has the been decreasing. Picture the filling of a whoopie pie gripped too tightly.
    That trend, the researchers said, is expected to continue unless carbon emissions are sharply reduced.    (Atmospheric carbon-dioxide concentrations hit a record high last year.)
    "Carbon dioxide cools the stratosphere, and when the stratosphere cools, it actually shrinks the size of the atmosphere," Gavin Schmidt, director of NASA's Goddard Institute for Space Studies, told Canada's National Observer in 2016.
    If you're in the mesosphere about 50 miles up, he added, "you actually are seeing the sky falling - it's going down by a number of kilometers."
    Bad news for orbiting satellites?
© USAF An illustration of a US military GPS satellite in orbit. USAF
    Satellites orbit Earth above the stratosphere, but because any change in one layer of the atmosphere can spell trouble for the others, a contracting stratosphere could impact those satellites.
    "If (and it is a big if) the shrinking stratosphere were to lower all the atmospheric layers above it, low-altitude satellites would experience reduced air resistance, which could modify their trajectories," Paul Williams, a professor of atmospheric science at Reading University in the UK who was not involved in the study, told The Times.
    That modification could eventually wreak havoc on GPS satellites or other space-based navigation systems, according to the new study, perhaps making them less accurate.
    High-frequency radio transmissions could also get screwed up, since this means of communication involves bouncing radio waves off charged particles in the ionosphere.    That's how airplane pilots talk to air traffic control towers in the northernmost regions of the planet where GPS doesn't work, like the Arctic.
    "Any change to the altitude of the electrically charged layer could alter the transmission of radio waves," Williams said.

5/14/2021 Astronomers Discover What Could Be One of The Oldest Stars in The Known Universe by Michelle Starr
A red giant star 16,000 light-years away appears to be a bona fide member of just the second generation of
stars in the Universe. © ESO/Digitized Sky Survey 2 L2 Puppis, a red giant star like SPLUS J2104-0049.
    According to an analysis of its chemical abundances, it seems to contain elements produced in the life and death of just a single first-generation star.    Therefore, with its help, we might even find the first generation of stars ever born - none of which have yet been discovered.
    Additionally, the researchers performed their analysis using photometry, a technique that measures the intensity of light, thus offering a new way to find such ancient objects.
    "We report the discovery of SPLUS J210428.01-004934.2 (hereafter SPLUS J2104-0049), an ultra-metal-poor star selected from its narrow-band S-PLUS photometry and confirmed by medium- and high-resolution spectroscopy," the researchers wrote in their paper.
    "These proof-of-concept observations are part of an ongoing effort to spectroscopically confirm low-metallicity candidates identified from narrow-band photometry."
    Although we feel like we have a pretty good grasp of how the Universe grew from the Big Bang to the star-studded glory we know and love today, the first stars to turn on their blinking lights in the primordial darkness, known as Population III stars, remain something of a mystery.
    Current day star-formation processes give us some clues about how these early stars came together, but until we find them, we're basing our understanding on incomplete information.
    One trail of breadcrumbs are the Population II stars - the next few generations following Population III.    Of those, the generation immediately succeeding Population III are perhaps the most exciting, since they are the closest in composition to Population III.
    We can identify them by their extremely low abundance of elements like carbon, iron, oxygen, magnesium and lithium, detected by analysing the spectrum of light emitted by the star, which contains the chemical fingerprints of the elements therein.
    That's because, before stars came into existence, there were no heavy elements - the Universe was a sort of cloudy soup of mostly hydrogen and helium.    When the first stars formed, this is what they ought to have been made of, too - it's via the process of thermonuclear fusion in their cores that the heavier elements were formed.
    First, hydrogen is fused into helium, then helium into carbon, and so forth all the way down to iron, depending on the mass of the star (the smallest ones don't have enough energy to fuse helium into carbon, and end their lives when they reach that point).    Even the most massive stars don't have enough energy to fuse iron; when their core is entirely iron, they go supernova.
    These colossal cosmic explosions spew all that fused material out into nearby space; in addition, the explosions are so energetic, they generate a series of nuclear reactions that forge even heavier elements, such as gold, silver, thorium and uranium.    Baby stars then forming from clouds that contain these materials have higher metallicity than the stars that came before.
    Today's stars - Population I - have the highest metallicity.    (By-the-by, this does mean that eventually no new stars will be able to form, since the Universe's hydrogen supply is finite - good times.)    And stars that were born when the Universe was very young have very low metallicity, with the earliest stars known as ultra-metal-poor stars or UMP stars.
    These UMPs are considered bona fide Population II stars, enriched by material from just a single Population III supernova.
    Using a photometric survey called S-PLUS, a team of astronomers led by the National Science Foundation's NOIRLab identified SPLUS J210428-004934, and although it doesn't have the lowest metallicity we've detected yet (that honor belongs to SMSS J0313-6708), it has an average metallicity for a UMP star.
    It also has the lowest carbon abundance astronomers have ever seen in an ultra-metal-poor star.    This could give us an important new constraint on the progenitor star and stellar evolution models for very low metallicities, the researchers said.
    To figure out how the star could have formed, they performed theoretical modeling.    They found the chemical abundances observed in SPLUS J210428-004934, including the low carbon and the more normal UMP star abundances of other elements, could best be reproduced by a high-energy supernova of a single Population III star 29.5 times the mass of the Sun.
    However, the closest fits from the modeling still were unable to produce enough silicon to exactly replicate SPLUS J210428-004934.    They recommended looking for more ancient stars with similar chemical properties to try to resolve this strange discrepancy.
    "Additional UMP stars identified from S-PLUS photometry will greatly improve our understanding of Pop III stars and enable the possibility of finding a metal-free low-mass star still living in our Galaxy today," the researchers wrote.
    Their paper has been published in The Astrophysical Journal Letters.

5/15/2021 The Doomsday Sperm Theory Embraced by the Far Right by Alexander Borsa, Marion Boulicault, Meredith Reiches, and Sarah S. Richardson
    The human species is in grave reproductive danger, according to recent headlines.    Some scientists say that sperm counts in men around the world have been plummeting, with Western men approaching total infertility by 2045.    Far-right “Great Replacement” theorists, who fear that people of color are “replacing” the white population, have taken up the research with gusto.
© Provided by Slate Photo illustration by Slate. Images by Rost-9D/iStock/Getty Images Plus and katrink03/iStock/Getty Images Plus.
    This all stems from a report published in 2017 in the journal Human Reproduction Update that claims sperm counts among men in North America, Western Europe, Australia, and New Zealand have fallen by some 50 percent since the 1970s.    In February of this year, an author on that paper, Shanna Swan, published a book titled Count Down, which elaborates on what the phenomenon means for our future.    The lengthy subtitle, How Our Modern World Is Threatening Sperm Counts, Altering Male and Female Reproductive Development, and Imperiling the Future of the Human Race, suggests things could get really bad.    But we at the Harvard GenderSci Lab think there simply isn’t enough evidence to warrant doomsday predictions.    The reason is that the initial finding of plummeting sperm counts relies on questionable assumptions.
    First, let’s talk about who is actually affected by the supposed problem of declining sperm counts.    For their paper, Swan and her colleagues looked at sperm counts recorded in other published studies between 1973 and 2011.    They chose to group the relatively limited historical data on population sperm counts into two big categories: “Western” and “Other.”    The researchers labeled the United States, Canada, Europe, Australia, and New Zealand—majority-white areas—as “Western.”    They lumped all other countries, with their majority brown, Black, and Asian populations, into the category “Other.”    Without using the word white, researchers signaled—as anthropologists and psychologists have done when comparing populations around the world—that the men we should be concerned about are white men.    With, effectively, white male sperm counts declining, “the future of the human race” is being imperiled.    Framed this way, their conclusions have leaked into the world in troubling ways.    White nationalists and so-called men’s rights activists are taking up the alarm over the decline of “Western” sperm.    In online forums like 4chan and Reddit, men worry that white people are not reproducing at rates that keep up with racialized others, especially immigrants and Black people.    As one comment puts it, “humans have doomed themselves” by allowing the “wrong males” to reproduce.
    But this is about more than optics.    Separating out majority-white nations in an analysis of historical trends in sperm counts makes it harder to parse what’s actually driving the decline—and to whom that decline is happening.    “Western” and “Other” are ineffective scientific categories because they fail to capture the factors most likely to influence sperm count.    For example, many hypothesize that pollutants, especially chemicals in everyday plastics, are the most likely culprit behind sperm decline.    But “Other” men are just as likely to be exposed to these chemicals as “Western” men: plastics, toxic pollution, and pesticides are as concentrated—sometimes more so—in low- and middle-income countries as they are in wealthy nations.    We don’t know what the results would have looked like if scientists had chosen to use “high pollution” vs. “low pollution” regions as categories of analysis instead of “Western” vs. “Other” nations.    Maybe, for example, the study would have found declines only among men exposed to certain kinds or levels of pollution.
    And it’s possible that there just isn’t much of an issue at all—even for “Western” males.    While sperm counts in “Western” countries may have indeed declined over a few decades, in 2011—the latest data included in the study—they remained well above the infertility threshold.    Though it might be intuitive that it’s better for men to be overflowing with sperm, the historically “low” sperm counts likely don’t represent an issue for even the “Western” portion of the human race. In fact, those “low” sperm counts weren’t that different from the counts in “Other” countries back in the 1970s. It’s also not clear that sperm counts are being driven ever lower by some sinister factor.    Even if there have been declines in average sperm counts in some men around the globe, it may be a result of normal variation in sperm counts, as we argue in a new paper out in the journal Human Fertility.    The sperm decline theory posits that “Western” sperm counts from the 1970s are an optimum from which we have declined and that this decline is something that needs to be fixed.
    But zero evidence supports either of these assumptions.    In fact, it would be surprising if there were anything systematically lowering the fertility of men across a large, but specific, swath of the globe.    It’s more likely that sperm counts, like other measures of reproductive function such as testosterone and progesterone levels, vary significantly across individuals, time periods, and geographical locations without pathology.    To distinguish between cases of normal and pathological variation, and to do justice to the health and fertility of men in all parts of the world, researchers will need to identify local factors, environmental or otherwise, that could plausibly be the cause of long-term trends in human sperm counts, and track them through rigorous study designs created specifically for this purpose.    Approaching the question by dividing the world’s men into a racialized “us” vs. “Other,” and then using the resulting data to make broad-brush statements about causes and consequences, is simply unsound science.
    How did these unscientific categories and assumptions make it into the research in the first place?    The narrative that white, Western men are in danger of emasculation and disappearance has deep roots in white nationalist discourse.    It is tied to a nostalgic cultural myth of a past in which white men held unchallenged power.    It is all too easy for scientific institutions, with majority-white researchers, to center white people and further these myths, which circulate often unconsciously.    This is why having more diverse voices in scientific research is so important.    The recent sperm count decline research demonstrates how racist, sexist, and Eurocentric ideas can get embedded in the categories that scientists use to analyze data.    When research is designed, executed, and communicated by people with varied perspectives, problematic assumptions about particular groups are more likely to get caught and addressed.    The institutions that fund science, the journals that publish it, and the media outlets that publicize it need to scrutinize findings that make apocalyptic, decontextualized claims about population differences in the ability to reproduce.    This is especially crucial when the stories about who is in danger and why feel familiar and convenient.    The narrative of Western sperm count decline is, essentially, a myth that we’re all too used to hearing.

5/15/2021 Ancient 'alien' plutonium isotopes discovered at bottom of ocean by Chris Ciaccia, For Dailymail.Com
© Provided by Daily Mail MailOnline logo
    A rare radioactive plutonium isotope dating back millions of years has been recently discovered at the bottom of the ocean, leading experts to question how it originated on Earth.
    The dangerous element known as plutonium-244 - discovered nearly 5,000 ft below the Pacific Ocean in the ocean crust - is the result of 'violent cosmic events' that occurred in deep space millions of years ago.
    Plutonium-244's presence on Earth suggests that an exceptionally violent event billions of years ago, such as neutron stars colliding, may have caused it to appear on our planet.
    'The story is complicated - possibly this plutonium-244 was produced in supernova explosions or it could be left over from a much older, but even more spectacular event such as a neutron star detonation,' the study's lead author, The Australian National University Anton Wallner said in a statement.
    The element iron-60 was also discovered, according to the experts' findings.
© Provided by Daily Mail
    Dating of the two elements confirmed that plutonium-244 and iron-60, both of which exists when the Earth formed more than 4 billion years ago, likely originated when multiple supernovae explosions occurred near Earth.
    'Our data could be the first evidence that supernovae do indeed produce plutonium-244,' Wallner added.
    Iron-60 has a half-life of approximately 2.5 million years before it decays and turns into the valuable commodity, nickel.
    Conversely, plutonium-244 has a half-life of approximately 80 million years.
    This extended half-life is 'long enough for most of it to remain from events of the past few million years but short enough that none is left from the time the Solar System was created,' the study's co-author, Dr. Michael Hotchkis, Principal Research Scientist at ANSTO’s Centre for Accelerator Science, added.
    Wallner also suggested that plutonium-244 'was already in the interstellar medium before the supernova went off, and it was pushed across the Solar System together with the supernova ejecta.'
    Both of these elements are heavy and should have decayed into stable forms eons ago.
    Given that they were found in their current state, it could imply the cosmic event happened happened just a few million years ago.
    Further study of the isotopes and others like them could allow the researchers to understand more about the massive explosions in space that happened in the Solar System millions of years ago.
    The findings were published in the research journal Science.
Plutonium-244: What to know
© Provided by Daily Mail
    Its half-life of 80 million years is longer than any other plutonium isotope and all but three other actinide isotopes: uranium-235, uranium-238, and thorium-232.
    Of the 244 particles that make up plutonium-244, 94 are protons and 150 are neutrons.
    Trace elements of it were first discovered in its primordial state in the early 1970s.
    Aside from the Earth, plutonium-244 has also been detected in meteorite dust.
    It is not produced in the nuclear fuel cycle because plutonium-242 produces plutonium-243 and that has a much shorter half-life (5 hours).
    Theoretically, it could be a byproduct of a nuclear weapon, but it has never been found in any sufficient quantity to date.

5/15/2021 Perseverance rover officially starts its big search for past life...with lasers by Mark Kaufman
© Provided by Mashable Perseverance rover officially starts its big search for past life...with lasers
    After the Perseverance rover spent its first three months on Mars getting its bearings and serving as an observation post for the successful Ingenuity helicopter flights, NASA announced the robot has started its primary mission: seeking out past evidence of microbial life — should any have ever existed.
    "The time has come: I’m switching from on-scene photographer to science investigator," NASA's Perseverance rover Twitter account posted this week.    "Did this ancient lakebed ever have life?    The tools I brought will help begin the hunt.    I’m a bot on a mission."
    "The time has come."
    The "hunt" largely means scouring the geological and chemical make-up of rocks in the Jezero Crater, a place NASA believes was "once flooded with water and was home to an ancient river delta."    Primitive life could have potentially dwelled in these wet soils, like it does on Earth.
    The time has come: I’m switching from on-scene photographer to science investigator.    Did this ancient lakebed ever have life?    The tools I brought will help begin the hunt.    I’m a bot on a mission.
— NASA's Perseverance Mars Rover (@NASAPersevere) May 11, 2021
    Sitting atop the car-sized Perseverance rover (like a crow's nest on a ship) is the SuperCam, which fires a powerful laser to identify the composition of rocks, and, ultimately, the most interesting places to go. As Mashable previously reported:
    From distances of over 20 feet away, a laser strike concentrates the power of one million light bulbs onto rocks and soil, producing flickers of light.    These flickers are excited atoms, and the SuperCam analyzes this light to glean if a rocky target might have preserved past signs of Martian life-like certain organic materials microbes may have once munched on.
    If NASA engineers spot a place of interest, they can instruct the rover to then rumble over and closely investigate.    A device aptly named SHERLOC (short for Scanning Habitable Environments with Raman & Luminescence for Organics & Chemicals) is mounted on the rover's arm.    It employs cameras, a laser, and other instruments to closely scour rocks and the ground for minerals, organic molecules, and potential biosignatures (something that indicates evidence of life).
    "SHERLOC has a magnifying glass just like the fictional detective to see fine detail," writes NASA.
    Testing out my tools as I move into more science. Used my robotic arm to get right up close to this rock after zapping it with my laser.    Can you tell I’m really into rocks?
— NASA's Perseverance Mars Rover (@NASAPersevere) May 13, 2021
At times, an instrument on the rover's arm will even grind down rock surfaces to better glean what's inside, and allow SHERLOC a closer look.     The real mission has begun, led by the rover's instruments.
    "What insights they turn up will help scientists create a timeline of when an ancient lake formed there, when it dried, and when sediment began piling up in the delta that formed in the crater long ago," NASA wrote.    Understanding this timeline should help date rock samples – to be collected later in the mission – that might preserve a record of ancient microbes."

5/16/2021 China lands its 1st spacecraft on Mars by Ken Moritsugu, ASSOCIATED PRESS
    BEIJING – China landed a spacecraft on Mars for the first time on Saturday, a technically challenging feat more difficult than a moon landing, in the latest step forward for its ambitious goals in space.
    Plans call for a rover to stay in the lander for a few days of diagnostic tests before rolling down a ramp to explore an area of Mars known as Utopia Planitia.    It joins an American rover that arrived at the red planet in February.
    China’s first Mars landing follows its launch last month of the main section of what will be a permanent space station and a mission that brought back rocks from the moon late last year.
    “China has left a footprint on Mars for the first time, an important step for our country’s space exploration,” the official Xinhua News Agency said in announcing the landing on one of its social media accounts.
    The U.S. has had nine successful landings on Mars since 1976.    The Soviet Union landed on the planet in 1971, but the mission failed after the craft stopped transmitting information soon after touchdown.
    A rover and a tiny helicopter from the American landing in February are exploring Mars.    NASA said the rover should collect its first sample in July for return to Earth in a decade.
    China has landed on the moon, but landing on Mars is a more difficult undertaking.    Spacecraft use shields for protection from the searing heat of entering the Martian atmosphere, and use retro-rockets and parachutes to slow enough to prevent a crash landing.    The parachutes and rockets must be deployed at precise times to land at the designated spot.    Only mini-retro-rockets are required for a moon landing, and parachutes alone are sufficient for returning to Earth.    Chinese President Xi Jinping, in a congratulatory letter to the mission team, called the landing “an important step in our country’s interplanetary exploration journey, realizing the leap from Earth-moon to the planetary system and leaving the mark of the Chinese on Mars for the first time. ... The motherland and people will always remember your outstanding feats!
    NASA Associate Administrator Thomas Zurbuchen tweeted his congratulations, saying, “Together with the global science community, I look forward to the important contributions this mission will make to humanity’s understanding of the Red Planet.”
    The Tianwen-1 spacecraft has been orbiting Mars since February, when it arrived after a 6 1 /3-month journey from Earth.    Xinhua described the mission as China’s first planetary exploration.
    The rover, named after the Chinese god of fire Zhurong, was expected to be deployed for 90 days to search for evidence of life. About the size of a small car, it has ground-penetrating radar, a laser, and sensors to gauge the atmosphere and magnetic sphere.
    China’s space program has proceeded in a more cautious manner than the U.S. and the Soviet Union during the height of their space race.
    China has said it wants to land people on the moon and possibly build a scientific base there.    No timeline has been released for these projects.    A space plane is also reportedly under development.
Technicians work at the Beijing Aerospace Control Center in Beijing on Saturday, when
China landed a spacecraft on Mars for the first time. JIN LIWANG/XINHUA VIA AP

5/16/2021 US climate envoy Kerry meets with pope on climate crisis
    VATICAN CITY – John Kerry, President Joe Biden’s climate envoy, met privately with Pope Francis on Saturday, afterward calling the pope a “compelling moral authority on the subject of the climate crisis” who has been “ahead of the curve.”
    The former U.S. secretary of state told Vatican News that the pope’s embrace of climate issues “hopefully can push people to greater ambition to get the job done.”    Kerry is visiting European capitals to strengthen cooperation on climate change ahead of the next round of U.N. climate talks in November.

5/16/2021 Mystery surrounds upcoming Pentagon report on UFOs


Enlarged from the above image

Enlarged from the above left image

Enlarged from the above left image

The following are enlarged from the left image as it is being following by a fighter jet

5/17/2021 UFO Capabilities, 'Compelling' Evidence Revealed by Former Official on Pentagon Program by Jack Dutton, Newsweek.
    The former director of the Advanced Aerospace Threat Identification Program (ATTIP), the secretive Pentagon unit that studied UFOs, says there is "compelling" evidence the flying objects exist and have been seen over U.S. airspace.
© Bettmann / Contributor/Getty An undated government photo of "a UFO variety" that hovered
for fifteen minutes near Holloman Air Development Center in New Mexico.
    Luis Elizondo made the comments in a CBS interview aired on Sunday, weeks ahead of a government report on UFOs being released. After being asked by Bill Whittaker on CBS's 60 Minutes whether UFOs—or unidentified aerial phenomena (UAPs)—were real, Elizondo said: "Bill, I think we're beyond that already.    The gov has already stated for the record that they're real. I'm not telling you that, the United States government is telling you that."     UFOs, long dismissed and relegated to movies and science fiction, have begun to shed the farce label in recent years after the release of footage of high-profile U.S. military encounters with aircraft of unknown origin.     In June 2020, tucked into the 2021 Intelligence Authorization Act, Senator Marco Rubio (R-FL) added language requesting that the director of national intelligence and the secretary of defense create a report with "a detailed analysis of unidentified aerial phenomena data and intelligence reporting."     Two months later, the Pentagon followed suit with the new, more serious approach, creating a task force to investigate the encounters by U.S. military aircraft. The report is due to be released by next month.     Rubio has previously told Newsweek he wants to get past UFO jokes to make sure the national security of the U.S. isn't threatened.     In the Sunday CBS interview, Whittaker tells Elizondo that UFOs being real sounds "nutty, wacky."     "Look, Bill, I'm not, I'm not telling you that, that it doesn't sound wacky. What I'm telling you, it's real. The question is, what is it?     What are its intentions?    What are its capabilities?" Elizondo said.
    "Imagine a technology that can do 6-to-700 g-forces, that can fly at 13,000 miles an hour, that can evade radar and that can fly through air and water and possibly space.    And oh, by the way, has no obvious signs of propulsion, no wings, no control surfaces and yet still can defy the natural effects of Earth's gravity.    That's precisely what we're seeing.
    Asked by Whittaker what he says to skeptics, Elizondo said: "In some cases there are simple explanations for what people are witnessing.    But there are some that, that are not.    We're not just simply jumping to a conclusion that's saying, 'Oh, that's a UAP out there.'"
    "i>We're going through our due diligence.    Is it some sort of new type of cruise missile technology that China has developed?    Is it some sort of high-altitude balloon that's conducting reconnaissance?    Ultimately when you have exhausted all those what-ifs and you're still left with the fact that this is in our airspace and it's real, that's when it becomes compelling, and that's when it becomes problematic
," he added.
Task Force Report On UFO Intelligence Expected By June 1
    The former official spent two decades running military intelligence operations in Afghanistan, the Middle East and Guantanamo Bay.    In 2010, he took over the Pentagon's Advanced Aerospace Threat Identification Program (AATIP), part of a $22 million program sponsored by then-Senate Majority Leader     Harry Reid to investigate UFOs.    But many in the Pentagon dismissed Elizondo's findings, and AATIP was dropped in 2012.
    Elizondo said he and a few others continued to keep investigating independently.
    Christopher Mellon, the former deputy assistant secretary of defense for intelligence for presidents Bill Clinton and George W. Bush, grew concerned that nothing was being done about UAPs.    Mellon then helped Elizondo elevate the issue in the department and actually get it to the Secretary of Defense by leaking three Navy videos appearing to show UFOs to the New York Times, thrusting UFOs back into the limelight.
    In August 2020, the funding came back and AATTP was re-established—now under the banner of the UAP task force—and service members now are encouraged to report strange encounters.
    Several navy pilots have reported sightings of suspicious objects that defied the laws of physics on some of their missions.
    Former Navy pilot Lieutenant Ryan Graves told CBS his F/A-18F squadron began seeing UAPs hovering over restricted airspace southeast of Virginia Beach in 2014.
    He says his pilots see them off the Atlantic Coast all the time.    "Every day.    Every day for at least a couple years," he said.
    The program played a video of one being spotted by Graves' squadron off the coast of Jacksonville, Florida in 2015.    Sounding shocked, the pilots are heard saying: "Look at that thing, it's rotating!    My gosh!    They're all going against the wind, the wind's 120 knots to the west.    Look at that thing dude!."
    Graves said pilots believe these objects are secret U.S. or enemy spy technology.    He said it was most likely a threat observation program, probably from Russia or China.
    Another two pilots told the program that training about 100 miles southwest of San Diego, they saw Tic Tac-like object that mirrored their moves before disappearing abruptly.    Just seconds later, the same object was detected by a navy ship 60 miles away, they said.
    The government has mainly ignored UFOs since 1969, when it closed its Project Blue Book investigation.    It logged 12,618 UFO sightings between 1947 and 1969. [A tic-toc is just a round end on both ends of a cylinder.].

5/17/2021 Sen. Rubio Leads Calls For DOD, DNI To Declassify Info On UFOs by OAN Newsroom
Sen. Marco Rubio (R-Fla.) is pictured. (Paul Sancya/AP Photo)
    Sen. Marco Rubio (R-Fla.) is leading the charge for defense and intelligence agencies to reveal data on UFO sightings.    During an interview on “60 Minutes” Sunday night, the ranking member of the Senate Intelligence Committee said lawmakers are beginning to shake off the taboo associated with the subject.
    In December, Rubio began calling for a detailed analysis on what the government knows about UFOs after being briefed through classified reports.
    “Anything that enters an airspace, that’s not supposed to be there, is a threat…I want us to take it seriously and have a process to take it seriously,” stated the senator.    “I want to have a process to analyze the data every time it comes in…there be a place where this is cataloged and constantly analyzed until we get some answers.”
    The Pentagon and Director of National Intelligence are expected to present a declassified report on UFO sightings to Congress next month.

5/17/2021 What an 80,000-Year-Old Burial Site Reveals About Humanity by Candida Moss, Daily Beast
    Archaeologists in Kenya have discovered the oldest human burial in Africa.    The almost 80,000-year-old grave was discovered by researchers in the opening to a cave on the coast of Kenya’s tropical uplands.    Scientists believe that they belonged to a child aged between 2 and 3 years old.    The fragile remains—which have been named “Mtoto” after the Swahili word for “child”—promise to tell us more about human social behavior, organization, and cognition in the Middle Stone Age.
© Provided by The Daily Beast MOHAMMAD JAVAD SHOAEE
    The discovery of the partial skeleton in the Panga ya Saidi cave north of Mombasa was made in 2013 by a team drawn from the National Museums of Kenya in Nairobi and the Max Planck Institute in Germany.    The collaborative project involved further study at the Conservation and Restoration laboratories at the National Research Center on Human Evolution in Spain.    The excavation itself proved to be a challenge as the bones were so degraded that they could easily have turned to dust during removal.    The solution was to excavate a pit around the bones, fill it with plaster, and then transport the encased remains to the     National Museums of Kenya for analysis. The remains were later carried on flights first to Jena, Germany, and later to Burgos in Spain.    The results of this lengthy study were published this week in the prestigious journal Nature.
    What the analysis revealed was that the remains came from a young Homo sapiens roughly the age of a toddler.    While older H. sapiens burials have been identified in the Levant and Europe, this is the first known example of a deliberate burial.    The child had been buried in a kind of foetal position with their knees tucked under their chin.    The tilt of their head suggested that it had once been supported by some kind of “pillow.”    Though the material that encased the child has long since disintegrated, experts think that they were originally wrapped in a material (likely animal skins or some kind of plant fibers).
    The most striking discovery is the positioning of the body; it is suggestive of a deliberate and careful burial rather than just disposal.    Bodies that were exposed often reveal signs of damage and interference: cracks, signs of animal disturbance, or weather-related smoothing.    But Mtoto’s remains had only minimally been displaced and their anatomy was remarkably intact.    Technical analysis of the soil that surrounded the Kenyan child’s remains supports the idea that the child was purposefully buried. All in all, the scientists conclude, “This evidence supports the idea that there was more elaborated involvement of the community in the funerary rite, rather than structured abandonment of a corpse or a happenstance burial.”    Nicole Boivin, a professor of archeology at the Max Planck Institute told the Guardian that “It’s incredibly rare that we gain access to such a snapshot of a moment in time, especially one so very ancient.”
© Provided by The Daily Beast SCIENCE-BURIAL/ The remains of a child roughly age 3 who lived about 78,000 years ago and was found in a burial pit at a
cave site in Kenya called Panga ya Saidi, the oldest-known human burial in Africa, are seen in an undated virtual reconstruction. JORGE GONZALEZ/ELENA SANTOS
    The rarity of the find may be connected to the youth of the subject; while paleolithic hunter-gatherers were accustomed to death as a natural part of life, the deaths of infants and children may have been distinctive and particularly tragic.    Boivin said: “The burial takes us back to a very sad moment—one that despite the vast time separating us, we can understand as humans.”    Even though infant mortality rates in the paleolithic and ancient world were high, the death of this 3-year-old may have had a distinctive quality to it.
    The experience of grief and the practice of deliberately burying one’s dead speaks not just to pervasive and cross-cultural human experiences, but also to the cognitive capacity of early humans in the Middle Stone Age.    Though it takes many forms, burial is one of the most ubiquitous practices of ancient and modern societies.    As the anthropologist W. H. R. Rivers remarked over a century ago, “Few customs of mankind take so firm a hold of his imagination as his modes of disposing of the bodies of the dead.”    From the presence of flint tools and animal bones in Neanderthal burials, to the discovery that a 60,000 burial at the Shanidar Cave in Iraq included large numbers of flowers, there is evidence that early humans had ritualized forms of burial (though there are plenty of alternative readings of this evidence).    The combination of these elements led anthropologist B. G. Campbell to suggest in his book Humankind Emerging that perhaps paleolithic Iraqis believed that deceased person would be “reborn.”
    For the first generations of anthropologists and sociologists, death and burial were one of the clearest signs that early humans had religious beliefs and, thus, also social values.    “Burying the bodies of loved ones,” Mary Stiner has written, “,i>is a uniquely human habit…[that] is tied to human capabilities for symbolic expression.”    Elephants, chimpanzees, and dolphins all grieve over loved ones and display empathy, says Stiner, but they do not mourn over the length of their lives in the way that Neanderthals do.    The similarity of Middle Stone age mourning practices to those of modern humans is taken as a sign that hominins are not so different from us after all.    Whether or not the concrete connection between social order, religion, and burial is accurate, the interest in mortuary practices reveals a widely dispersed interest in the meaning and significance of death.
    The problem with this kind of speculation when it comes to H. sapiens, however, is that we have so little evidence to go on.    In comparison to Neanderthals the evidence for mortuary practices among H. sapiens in Africa is sparse, perhaps because anthropological studies of Africa are relatively recent.    As the authors of the study write, “Africa demonstrates a scarcity of mortuary practices over most of the MSA that provides little current support for modern-like conceptions of the afterlife and/or treatment of the dead.”
    This is one of the things that makes the discovery of Mtoto so important.    We might have assumed that burial was important, but this example of burial “shows that inhumation of the dead is a practice shared by populations living in and out of Africa during the last interglacial period.”    The evolution of mortuary practices may not necessarily point to the early development of afterlife beliefs or what we call religion, but they do show our ancestors in a softer light.    Despite the representation of early hominins as brutish, their mortuary practices speak to the care they lavished on the bodies of their deceased and an interest in maintain a connection with loved ones. Love expressed through grief, it turns out, is the oldest identifiable human feeling.
[The following is what I, Jim A. Cornwell wrote in my Copyright Concepts at (
    As a continuation of Volume I, regarding the subject of Evidence Of Early Humans: Modern science can prove or maybe better stated "believes" it can prove that man was on earth for hundreds of thousands of years before the Bible was written.    I still contend that we should view Genesis as the beginning of a specific type of mankind.    It is obvious that the natural evolution of this world had already populated the earth with a wretched specimen or even still a product of civilizations destroyed by cataclysms.    Counter to the arguments of the age of mankind between the evolutionist and the creationist, who are the extremes, my concepts in this arena is a new and different theory.    As more and more countries allow access to archaeological sites and try to define the results without prejudice, we will probably find that it will just add to the confused state in which it already exists.    It will be your decision whether the evidence is strong enough to sway you to a specific viewpoint of any theory.    I prefer to stay with what the Bible states as seen below.
  • The Elohim (i.e., gods, or the "plural majesty of God") create their man in Genesis 1:26-28 and sent them into the world to conquer and survive.
    • Genesis 1:26 "And God said, Let us make man in our image, after our likeness (And now we will make human beings, they will be like us and resemble us): and let them have
      dominion (power) over the fish of the sea, and over the fowl of the air, and over the cattle, and
      over all the earth, and over every creeping thing that creepeth upon the earth
    • Genesis 1:27 "So God created man in his own image, in the image of God created he him; male and female created he them."
  • Yahweh (i.e. the LORD God) in Genesis 2:7-8 created His man and gave him a soul, and then made a Garden in Eden for him.    This created man is different than that in Genesis One and was placed in a special place for a reason.
    • Genesis 2:7 "And the LORD God formed man of the dust of the ground (took some soil from the ground and formed man out of it), and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life; and man became a living soul."
    • Genesis 2:8 "And the LORD God planted a garden eastward in Eden; and there he put the man whom he had formed."
    And continued articles to follow to prove my point about Neanderthal and others are not like homosapiens.].

5/17/2021 Traces of Neanderthal DNA extracted from cave dust in Spanish cave by Chris Ciaccia For Dailymail.Com
© Provided by Daily Mail MailOnline logo
    Small amounts of Neanderthal DNA discovered in the dust of Spanish and Russian caves could give researchers new insight into how our early ancestors lived.
    The 100,000-year-old discoveries were made in three different spots: the Galeria de las Estatuas cave site in Burgos, Spain and the Chagyrskaya and Denisova caves in the Altai Mountain range in Russia.
    The findings, published in Science, note that the DNA was collected from dust on the cavern floors in both regions.
    Traditionally, DNA has been extracted from fossils or bones.
    'The dawn of nuclear DNA analysis of sediments massively extends the range of options to tease out the evolutionary history of ancient humans,' said the study's lead author, Max Planck Institute for Evolutionary Anthropology researcher Benjamin Vernot, in a statement.
    With no fossils or tools used in the study, this allows researchers to open up 'large parts of human history' for genetic analysis that were not available previously.
    How Did This Mysterious Human Skull End up All Alone in a Cave in Italy?
    'We can now study the DNA from many more human populations, and from many more places, than has previously been thought possible,' the study's co-author, Matthias Meyer added.
    More than 150 sediment samples were analyzed from the three caves, two of which had previous discoveries where DNA was extracted and analyzed from bones.
    That allowed the researchers to compare the new method to get a better idea of what to expect.
    They also found there were two 'radiations' or variants of the Neanderthals when they compared the sediment DNA to skeletal DNA.
    The older Estatuas population came from one variant, while the younger population was tied to the second form.
    It's unclear what caused the variance, but study co-author Juan Luis Arsuaga posited it might be tied to climate change or changes in Neanderthal morphology.
    The use of the new technology could allow researchers in other parts of the world, notably in China and India, where Neanderthal and, especially Denisovan, remains have been found in
    However, researchers have to be careful with the new method so as not to extract DNA that could be irrelevant, say from a mammal.
    'There are lots of places in the human genome that are very similar to a bear's DNA, for example,' Vernot added.
    'We wanted to be confident that we weren't accidentally looking at some unknown species of hyena.'
    Finding DNA in cave dirt and dust could eventually lead to further study of the Denisovans, as well as other early groups, such as Homo floresiensis, a group that lived in Indonesia more than 50,000 years ago, The Guardian reports.
    'The techniques we developed are very new, and we wanted to be able to test them in places where we knew what to expect,' Meyer explained.
    The following article is a continuation of the above article with images.
    Traces of Neanderthal DNA extracted from cave dust by powerful new technique reveals how European tribe living in Spanish cave was replaced by East Asians 100,000 years ago by CHRIS CIACCIA FOR DAILYMAIL.COM PUBLISHED: 12:43 EDT, 17 May 2021 | UPDATED: 13:21 EDT, 17 May 2021
  • The DNA was extracted using a new technique that allows researchers to bypass bones and fossils if there aren't any available
  • The caves were in the Galeria de las Estatuas cave site in Burgos, Spain and the Chagyrskaya and Denisova caves in the Altai Mountain range in Russia
  • More than 150 samples were analyzed
  • It could open up 'large parts of human history' for genetic analysis that were not previously available
    Small amounts of Neanderthal DNA discovered in the dust of Spanish and Russian caves could give researchers new insight into how our early ancestors lived.
    The 100,000-year-old discoveries were made in three different spots: the Galeria de las Estatuas cave site in Burgos, Spain and the Chagyrskaya and Denisova caves in the Altai Mountain range in Russia.
    The findings, published in Science, note that the DNA was collected from dust on the cavern floors in both regions.
    Traditionally, DNA has been extracted from fossils or bones.
    'The dawn of nuclear DNA analysis of sediments massively extends the range of options to tease out the evolutionary history of ancient humans,' said the study's lead author, Max Planck Institute for Evolutionary Anthropology researcher Benjamin Vernot, in a statement.
One of the cave site, Galería de las Estatuas cave site in northern Spain, where researchers
were able to extract Neanderthal DNA via cave dust

The Galeria de las Estatuas cave site is located in Burgos, Spain. As far back as the
mid 19th century, researchers combed the site for historical finds

The Chagyrskaya cave also provided Neanderthal DNA that let researchers show off the new technology
that could be used to open up 'large parts of human history' for more analysis

This shows Chagyrskaya cave in the Altai Mountains in Russia, where researchers also found more Neanderthal DNA via cave dust or sediment
    With no fossils or tools used in the study, this allows researchers to open up 'large parts of human history' for genetic analysis that were not available previously.
    'We can now study the DNA from many more human populations, and from many more places, than has previously been thought possible,' the study's co-author, Matthias Meyer added.
    More than 150 sediment samples were analyzed from the three caves, two of which had previous discoveries where DNA was extracted and analyzed from bones.
    That allowed the researchers to compare the new method to get a better idea of what to expect.
    They also found there were two 'radiations' or variants of the Neanderthals when they compared the sediment DNA to skeletal DNA.
    The older Estatuas population came from one variant, while the younger population was tied to the second form.
    It's unclear what caused the variance, but study co-author Juan Luis Arsuaga posited it might be tied to climate change or changes in Neanderthal morphology.
This is a view of of pit 1 at the Galería de las Estatuas, Spain, alongside a
stratigraphic column with ages of the soil in thousands of years
    The use of the new technology could allow researchers in other parts of the world, notably in China and India, where Neanderthal and, especially Denisovan, remains have been found in abundance.
    However, researchers have to be careful with the new method so as not to extract DNA that could be irrelevant, say from a mammal.
    'There are lots of places in the human genome that are very similar to a bear's DNA, for example,' Vernot added.
    'We wanted to be confident that we weren't accidentally looking at some unknown species of hyena.'     Finding DNA in cave dirt and dust could eventually lead to further study of the Denisovans, as well as other early groups, such as Homo floresiensis, a group that lived in Indonesia more than 50,000 years ago, The Guardian reports.     'The techniques we developed are very new, and we wanted to be able to test them in places where we knew what to expect,' Meyer explained.     A close relative of modern humans, Neanderthals went extinct 40,000 years ago     The Neanderthals were a close human ancestor that mysteriously died out around 40,000 years ago.     The species lived in Africa with early humans for millennia before moving across to Europe around 300,000 years ago.     They were later joined by humans, who entered Eurasia around 48,000 years ago.
The Neanderthals were a cousin species of humans but not a direct ancestor - the two species
split from a common ancestor - that perished around 50,000 years ago. Pictured is a Neanderthal museum exhibit
    These were the original 'cavemen', historically thought to be dim-witted and brutish compared to modern humans.
    In recent years though, and especially over the last decade, it has become increasingly apparent we've been selling Neanderthals short.
    A growing body of evidence points to a more sophisticated and multi-talented kind of 'caveman' than anyone thought possible.
    It now seems likely that Neanderthals had told, buried their dead, painted and even interbred with humans.
    They used body art such as pigments and beads, and they were the very first artists, with Neanderthal cave art (and symbolism) in Spain apparently predating the earliest modern human art by some 20,000 years.
    They are thought to have hunted on land and done some fishing. However, they went extinct around 40,000 years ago following the success of Homo sapiens in Europe.
Read more:
  • Unearthing Neanderthal population history using nuclear and mitochondrial DNA from cave sediments | Science
  • Nuclear DNA from sediments helps unlock ancient human history | Max-Planck-Gesellschaft
  • Tiny traces of DNA found in cave dust may unlock secret life of Neanderthals | Archaeology | The Guardian

5/17/2021 Earth's Core May Have Trapped Noble Gases From Ancient Solar Wind Blasts by Michelle Starr
    4.5 billion years ago, when the Solar System was still forming, particles from our Sun's solar wind probably got caught up in the core of Earth as it assembled from space rubble.
© NASA/SDO/AIA Powerful solar winds escape from coronal holes in the Sun's atmosphere.
    That's the conclusion scientists have drawn after analysing an iron meteorite and finding an excess of noble gases with isotope ratios consistent with solar wind.    Since iron meteorites are thought to be analogous to planetary core formation, this suggests similar abundances ought to have been included in Earth's core.
    The meteorite, named Washington County for the place it was found back in 1927, is a rare one.    Of all the space rocks that fall to Earth, roughly only 5 percent of the ones we retrieve are made of iron.
    Based on our understanding of planet formation, these iron meteorites are interpreted as the cores of failed planets.
    Planets are thought to form when their stars are very young - possibly even at the same time as the star is still forming - and are orbited by a swirling thick cloud of dust and gas. Dust and pebbles in this cloud start to collide and stick together: first electrostatically, then gravitationally as the object grows more massive and can attract more material.    These objects are basically planet 'seeds', or planetesimals.
    As planetesimals grow, they become hot and a bit molten, allowing material to move around.    Core differentiation is the process whereby denser material sinks inwards towards the center of the object while less dense material rises outwards.
    Not everything that starts to become a planet actually makes it all the way.    Asteroids are thought to be the remnants of planetesimals that were disrupted and fragmented before they could reach full planet growth; and iron meteorites are thought to be fragments of differentiated planetesimal cores.
    For this reason, planetary scientists study iron meteorites to better understand the formation of our own planet, which has a dense iron core.    And the Washington County iron meteorite has been known for some time to be special.
    Scientists first discovered that it seemed to contain unusual isotopes of the noble gases helium and neon back in the 1960s, and researchers have been intrigued by it ever since.
    Initially, the gases were thought to be cosmogenic in origin - that is, generated by interactions with galactic cosmic rays to which the iron meteoroid was exposed during billions of years in space.
    Then, in the 1980s, astronomers found the ratios to be more consistent with solar wind isotope ratios.    Now, a team led by cosmochemist Manfred Vogt of the University of Heidelberg in Germany has confirmed it.
    Using noble gas mass spectrometry, they have positively identified that some of the isotope ratios of neon and helium found in the Washington County meteorite are much more consistent with a solar wind rather than a cosmogenic origin.
    "The measurements had to be extraordinarily accurate and precise to differentiate the solar signatures from the dominant cosmogenic noble gases and atmospheric contamination," Vogt explained.
    Extrapolating the meteorite to planetary cores, the team concluded it was possible that similar solar wind particles had been captured by Earth's forming core, and dissolved into the liquid metal.    Interestingly, observational evidence supports this conclusion.
    Solar isotopes of helium and neon can also be found in the igneous rock of oceanic islands.    At least some of these oceanic basalts are sourced from deep mantle plumes thought to extend as far down as the core-mantle boundary, around 2,900 kilometers (1,800 miles) deep.
    Since the solar isotopes are not found in volcanic rock sourced from shallower materials, this suggests the isotopes are being sourced from deep within Earth, the researchers said.
    "We always wondered why such different gas signatures could exist at all in a slowly albeit constantly convecting mantle," explained cosmochemist Mario Trieloff of the University of Heidelberg.
    According to the team's calculations, the observed mantle abundances of solar neon and helium isotopes wouldn't require huge amounts of material similar to the Washington County meteorite.    If just 1 to 2 percent of the core had a similar composition, this could explain what Trieloff and his team have observed.
    Given how turbulent conditions would have been during the Solar System's formation, and how wild the Sun, it's perhaps not surprising that solar particles would get mixed up in everything.
    But the fact those particles might be seeping out of the core and into the mantle is surprising, and suggests we may need to factor a leaky core in future research and modeling, the researchers said.
    "For our planet, this may offer a new solution for problems associated with keeping different mantle regimes with distinct noble gas signatures, by fluxing individual reservoirs from the underlying core," they wrote in their paper.
    "At the same time, this would imply a considerable - previously neglected - active role of Earth's core in mantle geochemistry and volatile geodynamics, which should be integrated into future studies."
    The research has been published in Communications Earth and Environment.

5/18/2021 Arctic Fires, Thawing Permafrost Pose Growing Threat To Climate – Study by Timothy Gardner
FILE PHOTO: A specialist of Russian Federal Agency for Forestry works to put out a forest fire outside
the village of Basly in Omsk Region, Russia August 11, 2020. REUTERS/Alexey Malgavko/File Photo
    (Reuters) – The warming Arctic tundra will make it harder for the world to curb climate change, as thawing permafrost and wildfires release greenhouse gases that are not fully accounted for in global emissions agreements, a study said on Monday.
    As temperatures rise and permafrost thaws, carbon dioxide and methane trapped within the long-frozen soil are released.    The deeper the thaw, the more gas is released.
    (Graphic on thawing permafrost –
    That threatens to create a feedback loop that contributes to even more warming of the atmosphere, scientists warn in a study published in the journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.
    “The Arctic is in the process of disintegrating as we know it, and the permafrost is one major component with some pretty grave implications,” said co-author Rafe Pomerance, an environmentalist who chairs the Arctic 21, a network that highlights climate challenges in the polar region.
    Siberia saw its highest-ever recorded temperature last summer, when the far north town of Verkhoyansk hit 38 Celsius (100 Fahrenheit).    Also last year, unprecedented wildfires in the region released about 35% more carbon dioxide than in 2019, which saw the highest emissions from Russian fires since 2003, the study says.
    However, emissions levels estimated from the gradual thaw of permafrost – which covers 25% of the Northern Hemisphere – do not account for the wildfires and abrupt thawing recently observed, and so are likely too low, the authors say.
    That omission “does leave us with a substantial hole in those predictions,” said co-author Rachael Treharne, an Arctic ecologist at the Woodwell Climate Research Center in Massachusetts.
    While more research is needed to measure the emissions coming from permafrost, the researchers estimate that fires along with abrupt thawing events could increase carbon emissions up to 40% by the end of the century unless fossil fuel emission are drastically reduced.
    That would blow the global “emissions budget,” a scientific estimation of how much more the world can emit before average global temperatures rise more than 1.5 Celsius beyond pre-industrial levels, a limit outlined by the 2015 Paris Agreement on climate.    In total, scientists say permafrost holds twice as much carbon as what is already in the atmosphere.
    Policymakers need to be pursuing deeper emissions cuts, Treharne said.    “What we need is increased urgency and increased ambition.”
    On Thursday, delegates from the United States, Russia, Canada and Scandinavian countries are expected to discuss the region’s climate challenges along with development during the biennial Arctic Council meeting in Reykjavik, Iceland.
    Scientists hope the meeting will produce a declaration on the importance of addressing permafrost thaw.
    Meanwhile, Russia also has been acknowledging permafrost risks to industrial infrastructure and housing developments and plans to establish a permafrost monitoring system to issue that early warnings of rapid thaw, according to the Independent Barents Observer.
(Reporting by Timothy Gardner in Washington; editing by Katy Daigle and Lisa Shumaker)

5/18/2021 India’s Gujarat State Evacuates Over 200,000 People As Cyclone Hits by Sumit Khanna
People move a fishing boat to a safer place along the shore ahead of Cyclone Tauktae
in Veraval in the western state of Gujarat, India, May 17, 2021. REUTERS/Amit Dave
    AHMEDABAD (Reuters) -More than 200,000 people were evacuated from their homes in the Indian state of Gujarat and authorities shut ports and major airports as the most powerful cyclone in more than two decades made landfall in the state late on Monday.
    Rain intensified and several incidents of power outages were reported in the state.    Electricity pylons and trees were uprooted and buildings were damaged in coastal areas of Gujarat, state authorities said.
    With the worst of the storm expected to last for several hours after it slammed into the state’s coast, it piles more pressure on Indian authorities already struggling with a huge caseload of COVID-19 infections.
    “This cyclone is a terrible double blow for millions of people in India whose families have been struck down by record COVID infections and deaths.    Many families are barely staying afloat,” said Udaya Regmi, South Asia head of delegation, International Federation of Red Cross.
    The cyclone has already killed at least 16 people and left a trail of destruction as it brushed past the coastal states of Kerala, Karnataka, Goa and Maharashtra, the authorities said.
    “The landfall process has started, and it is expected to last for four hours.    The intensity of the Cyclone Tauktae will go down once it is over,” Gujarat Chief Minister Vijay Rupani said in a social media address on late Monday evening.
    State revenue secretary Pankaj Kumar told Reuters it would be the most severe cyclone to hit Gujarat in at least 20 years.    A 1998 cyclone killed at least 4,000 people and caused hundreds of millions of dollars in damage in Gujarat.
    Regmi said the Indian Red Cross Emergency team was working with authorities and helping with the evacuations from low lying areas to relief centres further inland in the face of what he called a “monster storm.”
    The Indian Meteorological Department (IMD) categorised the storm, which formed in the Arabian Sea, as an “extremely severe” storm, upgrading it from “very severe
    The cyclone brought gusts of up to 210 kph (130 mph) that would put it on par with a Category 3 hurricane, one level below the IMD’s super cyclone category.
    Further down India’s western coast, the cyclone has lashed India’s financial hub of Mumbai, forcing authorities to suspend operations at the city’s airport and to close some main roads due to flooding.    Tracks on Mumbai’s urban rail system, one of the world’s busiest, were also flooded.
    Two barges with over 400 people on board were adrift near the Mumbai coastline and vessels were sent to provide help, said the local branch of India’s defence ministry.
    As well as the 16 deaths reported in Maharashtra, Goa and Karnataka, more than 25 fishing boats were missing, a coastguard official told Reuters.
    The Gujarat Maritime Board, the state’s port regulator, directed hoisting of signals VIII to X, indicating great danger, at ports in the state.    India’s largest private port at Mundra suspended operations for the day.
    Authorities also fretted about the state’s Asiatic lions, an endangered species found only in the Saurashtra region of Gujarat where the cyclone is expected to inflict most damage.
    “There are around 40 lions in some patches in coastal Saurashtra, and we are monitoring them.    Some lions have already moved to higher grounds.    We are keeping fingers crossed, and praying the lions will be safe,” Shyamal Tikadar, Principal Chief Conservator of Forests in Gujarat, told Reuters.
    Rupani said all measures were being taken to deal with the situation.
    “These are special circumstances.    The administration is busy with the COVID-19 challenges, and is now gearing up to deal with the impact of the cyclone,” he added.
    Gujarat and Mumbai both suspended their vaccination drives on Monday due to the cyclone.
(Reporting by Sumit Khanna in Ahmedabad, Rajendra Jadhav and Aishwarya Nair in Mumbai; Writing by Nupur Anand; Editing by Euan Rocha, Robert Birsel, Gareth Jones and Alison Williams)

5/18/2021 Lawmakers, Fmr. DOD Officials Gearing Up For UFO Report by OAN Newsroom
Sen. Marco Rubio, R-Fla. (Graeme Jennings/Pool via AP)
    Former top Pentagon officials and current lawmakers are calling for the government to release their latest information on UFOs.    In recent months, requests for declassifying information regarding UFOs have grown increasingly louder.    This comes as research from former top Department of Defense officials, including Luis Elizondo and Christopher Mellon, is finally coming to light.
    Elizondo ran the Pentagon’s Advanced Aerospace Threat Identification Program for nine years until resigning in 2017 over the department’s lack of enthusiasm for probing UFOs.    However, he did manage to strongarm officials into releasing videos that uncovered Navy pilots encountering flying objects taking on the shapes of Tic Tacs, which resembled cubes within spheres and triangles.
    Mellon, who served as the Assistant Deputy Secretary of Defense for Intelligence during the Clinton and George W. Bush administrations, helped get the footage to the public by leaking the video to the press back in 2017.
    Sightings like these caught the attention of Florida Sen. Marco Rubio (R), who is now leading the charge on Capitol Hill in order to obtain a detailed assessment of what we know about UFOs.
    Rubio, while still chairing the Senate Intelligence Committee, called on the Pentagon and Director of National Intelligence in December to release a declassified report on the subject.    He was also successful in convincing President Donald Trump to agree to a provision, ordering the release of the report in the $2.3 trillion appropriations bill for 2021.
    Rubio aims to shake off the stigma surrounding UFOs and extraterrestrial life forms.    He hopes, instead, it will start being treated as a serious threat to national security.    The Pentagon and DNI are expected to present the declassified report on UFO sightings to Congress next month.

5/19/2021 Our galaxy had a large number of stars when it hit the Gaia Sausage by Ian Randall For Mailonline
© Provided by Daily Mail MailOnline logo
    Our Milky Way had already formed a 'significant fraction' of its stars by 10 billion years ago, when it collided with the Gaia Sausage galaxy, a study has found.
    Researchers led from the Ohio State University used new techniques to more precisely date some 100 red giant stars in the Milky Way and discover its history.
    They found that our galaxy's native stars and the ones it captured from the Sausage galaxy are similar in age, but they move differently and have different compositions.
© Provided by Daily Mail
    The Gaia Sausage galaxy which collided with the Milky was more than 10 billion times the mass of our sun.
    When the Sausage crashed into the young Milky Way, its piercing trajectory caused a lot of mayhem.
    The Milky Way's disk was probably puffed up or even fractured following the impact and would have needed time to regrow afterwards.
    And the debris from the Sausage collision was scattered all around the inner parts of the Milky Way, creating the 'bulge' at the galaxy's centre and the surrounding 'stellar halo'.
    'Our evidence suggests that when the merger occurred, the Milky Way had already formed a large population of its own stars,' said paper author and astronomer Fiorenzo Vincenzo of the Ohio State University.
    According to Dr Vincenzo and colleagues, many of these 'homemade' stars ended up in the thick disc in the middle of the galaxy, while those from the Gaia Sausage have ended up in the Milky Way's outer halo.
    'The merging event with Gaia-Enceladus is thought to be one of the most important in the Milky Way's history,' said lead author and astronomer Josefina Montalbán of the University of Birmingham.
    In fact, she added, the collision 'shaped how we observe it today.'
    In their study, the researchers turned to a field called asteroseismology.
    Just like regular seismologists can use earthquakes to plumb the interior of our planet, asteroseismologists study oscillations in stars to determine their internal structures — from which their ages can be estimated.
    'That allows us to get very precise ages for the stars, which are important in determining the chronology of when events happened in the early Milky Way,' said paper author and astronomer Mathieu Vrard, also of Ohio State.
    The team also factored in data from the APOGEE spectrographic survey — conducted from the Apache Point Observatory in New Mexico — which can provide information on the chemical composition of stars, which can be used as an aid when determining stellar ages.
    By calculating the age of the Milky Way's stars, the researchers determined, for the first time, that those thought to have been captured from the Gaia Sausage collision are similar or slightly younger in age than most of our galaxy's native stars.
    According to Dr Vincenzo, violent mergers between galaxies inherently shake things up, with the merger having acted to make the orbits of the stars already in our galaxy more eccentric than they had been previously.
    He added that the movement of the stars was akin to a dance, one in which those from the Gaia Sausage galaxy move differently to those forged in the Milky Way — and also, he noted, sport different chemical compositions.
© Provided by Daily Mail
    With their initial study complete, the researchers are now planning to take their analyses further.
    'We now intend to apply this approach to larger samples of stars, and to include even more subtle features of the frequency spectra,' Dr Vincenzo said.
    'This will eventually lead to a much sharper view of the Milky Way's assembly history and evolution, creating a timeline of how our galaxy developed.'
    The full findings of the study were published in the journal Nature Astronomy.

5/18/2021 Scores Missing At Sea As Cyclone Pummels Indian Coast, Killing At Least 29 by Sumit Khanna
A woman carrying eggs walks past a damaged commercial building after Cyclone Tauktae hit,
in Kodinar, in the western state of Gujarat, India, May 18, 2021. REUTERS/Amit Dave
    AHMEDABAD, India (Reuters) -The Indian Navy mounted a massive air and sea rescue mission on Tuesday for 81 oil workers and crew whose barge sank in heavy seas following a powerful cyclone that tore up the west coast killing at least 29 people.
    Around 180 of those on board the barge, which sank off the coast of Mumbai, were rescued from the huge waves, the navy said.
    The cyclone has piled up pressure on the government at a time when India is grappling with a staggering rise in coronavirus cases and deaths as well as a shortage of beds and oxygen in hospitals.
    “This is one of the most challenging search and rescue operations I have seen in the last four decades,” Murlidhar Sadashiv Pawar, Deputy Chief of Naval Staff, told Reuters partner ANI on Tuesday.
    Navy spokesman Vivek Madhwal said waves reached 20 to 25 feet, amid poor visibility.    Three more barges were adrift near the Gujarat coast but rescue operations were said to be under control.
    Cyclone Tauktae, the most powerful storm to batter the west coast in two decades, ripped out power pylons, trees and caused house collapses killing at least 29 people, authorities said.
    The storm made landfall in Gujarat state on Monday and was expected to weaken overnight, the Indian Meteorological Department said.
    “The cyclone is expected to cross Gujarat by early morning tomorrow (Wednesday) and weather conditions are expected to return to normal by tomorrow,” Gujarat Chief Minister Vijay Rupani said.
    He added that 160 state roads had been destroyed, 40,000 trees uprooted and several houses damaged.
    Navy spokesman Madhwal said five ships backed by surveillance aircraft were scouring the site of the sinking of the barge “P305” in the Bombay High oilfield, where the country’s biggest offshore oil rigs are located.
    On Monday, the crew sent an SOS that the ship had lost control as the cyclone roared past Mumbai.    Naval ships were sent to the area and on Tuesday, as the barge started sinking, many of the crew were rescued from the sea.
    The oilfields are around 70 km (45 miles) southwest of Mumbai.    The barges are deployed by Afcons Infrastructure Limited, a construction and engineering company based in Mumbai, and were engaged in contract work awarded by Oil and Natural Gas Corp, country’s top exploration company.
    Afcons did not immediately respond to an email seeking comment, while ONGC said in a statement it was extending help to the navy and coastguard in the rescue effort.
    More than 200,000 people had been evacuated from their homes in Gujarat before Tauktae, packing gusts of up to 210 kph (130 mph), made landfall.
    No damage has been reported at refineries located in Gujarat and sea ports that were expected to be in the storm’s path.
    The Jamnagar refinery, the world’s biggest oil refinery complex owned by Reliance Industries, had reported no damage, a company spokesman told Reuters.
    Operations at the Mundra port, India’s largest private port, have resumed, a port official said.
(Additional reporting by Aishwarya Nair and Sudarshan Varadhan; Writing by Sanjeev Miglani and Nupur Anand; Editing by Himani Sarkar, Alex Richardson and Nick Macfie)

5/19/2021 Overwintering ‘Zombie’ Fires May Become More Common As Climate Changes by Yereth Rosen
Smoke rises from a hot spot in the Swan Lake Fire scar at the Kenai National
Wildlife Refuge, Alaska, U.S., June 16, 2020. Photo by Dan White/AlaskaHandout via REUTERS
    ANCHORAGE, Alaska (Reuters) – In the boreal forests of the planet’s far north, where the climate is warming faster than almost anywhere else in the world, some wildfires are surviving winter snows and sparking back up again in spring.
    Now scientists from the Netherlands and Alaska have figured out how to calculate the scope of those “zombie fires” that smolder year-round in the peaty soil.
    From 2002 to 2018, an average of about 1% of the burning in Alaska and in Canada’s Northwest Territories was caused by overwintering fires that survived from one summer to the next, according to a study, published Wednesday in Nature.    But in one year, zombie fires accounted for 38% of the region’s burning.
    “We know that fires can start in the fire season by lightning and humans.    Now we can have another cause of burned area,” said co-author Sander Veraverbeke, a landscape ecologist at Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam.    “If it happens near a fire scar from the year before, early in the season, and there’s no lightning and it’s not human, then it’s an overwinter fire.”
    As climate change dries out landscapes and drives increasingly ferocious summertime blazes, these zombie fires are also likely to become more common, he said.    (Graphic on ‘megafires’)
    To calculate the extent of zombie fires in the area, the researchers built a computer algorithm that considers satellite imagery, records of lightning strikes, and human presence and infrastructure.    For Alaska and the Northwest Territories, that algorithm produced an estimate of 0.8% of burned area over a nearly two-decade period.
    Zombie fires have also been recorded in Siberia in recent years, and the new algorithm could be used with local data including satellite imagery to estimate the scope of overwintering fires in northern Russia, Veraverbeke said.
    To survive the winter, fires have to burn especially hot and deep, the study suggests.    The amount of rain or snow that falls appears to be inconsequential, according to the study.
    “The sheer fact that this is happening is already pretty crazy and shows how fast this region is changing because of climate change,” he said.
    The findings underline the vulnerability of boreal peat, which protects permafrost below and holds huge stores of sequestered carbon, said Nancy Fresco, a landscape ecologist and climate researcher at the University of Alaska Fairbanks who was not involved in the study. (Graphic on permafrost)
    The potential for increased wildfire in the region threatens to release more greenhouse gases into the atmosphere, she said.    Separately, scientists have determined that climate change – and melting sea ice – will lead to an increase in lightning strikes in the region that can also trigger more fires.
    “What has been in the past a relatively rare phenomenon might become something more frequent and catastrophic,” Fresco said.
(Reporting by Yereth Rosen; Editing by Katy Daigle and Lisa Shumaker)

5/20/2021 Flood Threat Continues Across The Southern U.S. by OAN Newsroom
In this photo taken by a drone is an aerial view of the flooded Siegen Calais apartments Tuesday, May 18, 2021, in Baton Rouge, La. Heavy rains
have swept across southern Louisiana, flooding homes, swamping cars and closing a major interstate. (John Ballance/The Advocate via AP)
    Flash flood watches are in effect in South Texas and Louisiana as heavy rain sweeps through the region.    Severe weather is expected to continue throughout the week in areas where flooding has already caused extensive damage to homes and businesses.
    “Carpet’s already all wet, you know?    You don’t know how to react.    You don’t know to, you know, what to do with the water if it does come in, you know, and it’s just, especially if all the cars pass by.”
    Strong winds and heavy rainfall has flooded roads, submerging cars and left tens-of-thousands of people without power.    According to forecasters, up to four inches of rain could fall in Southeast Texas in the coming days.
    In Louisiana, Gov. John Bel Edwards (D) has declared a state of emergency as heavy rains flooded homes, swamped cars and closed a major interstate. The rainy weather and flooding are suspected factors in at least four deaths in the state.
    The National Weather Service said parts of East Baton Rouge received as much as 13 inches of rain.    Authorities in the area said they responded to more than 300 calls in a single night of people either trapped in cars or flooded homes.
    Meanwhile, flash flood watches are also in effect for parts of Arkansas, Mississippi and Oklahoma as thunderstorms pound the region.

5/20/2021 EU Parliament Backs Citizens’ Legal Challenges To Protect Environment by Kate Abnett
FILE PHOTO: Smoke billows from the chimneys of Belchatow Power Station, Europe's biggest coal-fired
power plant, in this May 7, 2009 file photo. REUTERS/Peter Andrews/Files/File Photo
    BRUSSELS (Reuters) – The European Parliament on Thursday voted for changes to European Union law that would give the public more scope to challenge legally any EU decisions and laws that adversely affect the environment.
    The proposed change still needs the approval of EU member states, which have already been rocked by a rise in legal action over concerns about climate change.
    The EU is negotiating changes to its law enforcing the Aarhus Convention, a United Nations agreement that protects the public’s access to justice in environmental matters, after a U.N.-appointed committee said in 2017 the EU was failing to properly enforce it.
    The Parliament voted on Thursday to allow members of the public to challenge EU laws and decisions that could violate laws relating to the environment, whereas the current law allows only non-governmental organisations to do so.
    If adopted, legal charity Client Earth said the change could allow public challenges to decisions to approve harmful pesticides, let cars breach emissions limits or to fund coal-fired power, for instance.
    The parliament also said court proceedings must not be prohibitively expensive, as that could restrict the public’s access to justice.
    The European Commission said the changes could unleash a flood of legal challenges.
    “There is a genuine risk that the system will be unable to cope and that effective case-handling becomes impossible,” EU environment Commissioner Virginijus Sinkevicius said.
    European countries are feeling the effects of legal action over climate change.    The German government this month toughened its climate targets, after a national court said its existing targets failed to protect the rights of young people.
    Parliament’s position is at odds with the smaller changes member states support.    They say Aarhus challenges should remain limited to acts that breach “environmental law,” and that some EU acts should be immune from such challenges, since the public can already challenge them in national or EU courts.
(Reporting by Kate Abnett; editing by Barbara Lewis)

5/20/2021 Microsoft To Unplug Internet Explorer As It Seeks Edge In Browser War
FILE PHOTO: A Microsoft logo is seen on an office building in New York City, U.S. on July 28, 2015. REUTERS/Mike Segar/File Photo
    (Reuters) – Microsoft Corp is pulling the plug on its once omnipresent browser, Internet Explorer, next year as it prepares to battle market leader Chrome with its slicker Edge browser.
    Launched in 1995, Internet Explorer became the dominant browser for over a decade as it was bundled with Microsoft’s Windows operating system that came pre-installed in billions of computers.
    The browser, however, started losing out to Google’s Chrome in the late 2000s and has become a subject of countless internet memes for its sluggishness in comparison to its rivals.
    To compete better, Microsoft launched the Edge browser in 2015 that runs on the same technology as the Google browser.
    As of April, Chrome has a 65% share of the global browser market, followed by Apple Inc’s Safari, with an 18% share, according to web analytics firm Statcounter.    Microsoft Edge has a 3% share, while Internet Explorer has a miniscule share of the market it once dominated.
    The Windows software maker said on Wednesday the future of Internet Explorer on Windows 10 was in its faster and more secure Microsoft Edge.
    Internet Explorer 11 desktop application will be retired and go out of support on June 15, 2022, for certain versions of Windows 10,” the company said in a blog post. (
    The browser was at the heart of an antitrust case against Microsoft more than two decades ago, with a U.S. judge deciding that the software titan had broken the law after it combined Internet Explorer and the Windows operating system.
    The most serious violations of the law were upheld on appeal, but the company continued to bundle its operating system and browser.
(Reporting by Subrat Patnaik in Bengaluru, Additional reporting by Eva Mathews; Editing by Anil D’Silva)
[I will still keep using IE until they make Edge function more like IE so 2022 is my deadline.].

5/21/2021 New photo shows the oldest-ever spiral galaxy, which was formed at least 1 billion years earlier than previously thought by (Marianne Guenot)
ALMA (ESO/NAOJ/NRAO), T. Tsukui & S. Iguchi ALMA image of the galaxy BRI 1335-0417
at 12.4 billion years ago. ALMA (ESO/NAOJ/NRAO), T. Tsukui & S. Iguchi
  • The ALMA telescope in Chile has captured a spiral galaxy that is 12.4 billion light years away.
  • This is the oldest spiral galaxy known so far, breaking the record by a billion years.
  • The findings provide clues on how spiral galaxies, like the Milky Way, formed after the Big Bang.
    Scientists have captured a picture of the oldest known spiral galaxy, which was formed 12.4 billion years ago.     The galaxy, officially named BRI 1335-0417, was snapped by the Atacama Large Millimeter/submillimeter Array (ALMA) telescope in Chile.     It shows that spiral galaxies were formed as early as 1.4 billion years after the Big Bang.     The photo was taken as part of a study published in the peer-reviewed Science journal on Thursday.     "It puts us back the time when we knew that galaxies started to look like modern-day galaxies by roughly 1 billion years," Dr. Kai Noeske, communications officer for the European Space Agency and distant galaxy researcher told Insider.     Spiral galaxies are more mature forms of galaxies.     In the early phases of formations, dark matter brings hot gas together in small clumps that create stars. These merge together to create larger galaxies, which are clumpy and misshapen.     Eventually these galaxies can start rotating, creating galaxies that are disk-like, Noeske said.     This computer simulation shows what it would look like:
    Video player from: YouTube (Privacy Policy, Terms)



    Spiral galaxies happen when that disk starts being disturbed, Noeske said.
    "The interesting thing about this, aside from of course looking really pretty, is that in these spiral arms, the gas is being compressed.    So they are actually a catalyst to trigger new star formation," Noeske said.
    "You cannot form a star and or a planet somewhere out in space," Noeske said.    "Without the galaxies, there wouldn't be any humans.    It's part of our story."
    The currently accepted paradigm is that galaxy formation peaked about 3.3 billion years after the Big Bang, when most of the stars in the universe were formed.
    "It is surprising that our results show that BRI 1335-0417 already have structures (compact structure like a bulge, disk, spiral) similar to nearby galaxies, long before the active phase of the galaxy formation," Takafumi Tsukui, graduate student at SOKENDAI University in Japan and lead author of the Science study, told Insider in an email.
    The oldest known spiral galaxy observed before Thursday's study was seen in by the ALMA telescope in 2019.
    It was formed 2.5 billion years after the Big Bang, about a billion years later than BRI 1335-0417.
    "Our result will update our knowledge of how and when the galaxies form and evolve to matured galaxy observed today, including the Milky Way Galaxy," Tsukui said.
    Though this is the oldest known spiral galaxy, it is not the oldest-ever observed galaxy.    That title is held by GNz11, which was spotted in December last year.    It was formed 13.4 billion years ago, 400 million years after the Big Bang.

5/23/2021 The UFOs Might Be Aliens — or Something Else We Can’t Explain by Jazz Shaw, National Review
    After reading Andrew Follett’s article explaining why you shouldn’t worry about all of the UFOs in the news because videos of them “all have obvious potential terrestrial explanations,” let’s just say I had a few questions.    I’ve lost track of the number of people who sent it to me on social media, and Follett and I wound up getting into a brief Twitter discussion of the subject.    Why me?    Well, for better or worse, I’ve become “the UFO guy” at the network where I normally publish my articles, and I’ll confess to having been somewhat obsessed with the subject over the years.
@ ABC News/Screengrab via YouTube Image from the Pentagon's "Gimbal" video.
    I have closely followed the ongoing Pentagon UFO stories (or UAP, unidentified aerial phenomena, as we’re supposed to call them today) ever since the New York Times dropped its bombshell article revealing the existence of the Pentagon’s Advanced Aerospace Threat Identification Program (AATIP) in December 2017.    I’ve written extensively on the subject and try to keep my finger on the pulse of this saga.    So I welcome the opportunity to respond to some of Follett’s observations.
    Allow me to say up-front that I am not here to claim in any way that the bizarre craft being observed in our skies (and oceans and low-earth orbit) by military personnel — along with civilian aviators, elected officials, law-enforcement officers, and drunkards standing in cow fields — are “dem aliens.”    (That’s the loving term humorously used by those in the ufology community.)    There is, to my knowledge, no evidence that’s been made available to the public that would definitively prove or even persuasively suggest the existence of any type of extraterrestrial intelligence here on our planet.    Whether any governmental or military entities around the world are in possession of such evidence remains an open question.
    Having established those caveats, however, I will also say that anyone rather definitively making the claim that the unknown craft are almost certainly not some sort of technosignature of a nonhuman intelligence is offering an equally faulty approach.    Follett bases his assessment on the three brief, grainy videos from the USS Nimitz and USS Roosevelt encounters from 2004 and 2014 to 2015, respectively.    The provenance of these videos has been confirmed by the Pentagon, and they have been subjected to endless scrutiny since then.
    He first describes the actions of the objects observed in the videos, noting that none of the three demonstrate the incredible performance capabilities attributed to them so often. Luis Elizondo, the aforementioned head of AATIP, refers to those capabilities as the Five Observables, including ludicrous speed, non-ballistic maneuvering, and the ability to defy gravity, among others.    Follett then goes on to “explain away” the three sightings as a Canadian goose, a misidentified passenger jet, and (perhaps most amazingly) a meteor breaking up as it enters Earth’s atmosphere.
    In the spirit of friendly debate, I will agree (as I did during our Twitter discussion) that the brief video clips confirmed by the Pentagon are, absent any other supporting evidence, lacking in depictions of objects engaging in any of the Five Observables. None of the three appear to be traveling at hypersonic speeds or performing wild maneuvers, though the object in the Gimbal video appears to come close to defying gravity while having no wings, rotors, other flight surfaces, exhaust ports, or other visible means of propulsion.
    This, however, reveals the main sticking point in my objections to Follett’s premise.    I learned through our social-media discussion that the video portion of the three clips in question represented the entirety of his argument.    There is far more data to be had, starting with the audio tracks from those videos and the technical details discussed by the pilots.    Further, if you listen to the interviews with not only the pilots but the supporting crews in the carrier-battle groups, they collected radar-tracking data on many of these objects.    The “tic tac” from the Nimitz encounter, as it was termed by the pilots and most in the ufology community, was first detected on radar at an altitude of as much as 80,000 feet.    It then dropped to 20,000 feet until the two F-18s approached, at which point it dropped from there down to the surface of the water (or perhaps under the surface) in less than a second.    (That’s asking a lot of a goose or a 737.)
    Such a rapid acceleration and deceleration should turn any living thing inside to jelly and rip the craft to pieces.    Further, the testimony of the pilots involved, while not the same as video or electronic surveillance, is highly instructive and provided by trained observers of the highest order.
    As to the alternative explanations offered, I will simply say that we have some very serious, full-time debunkers in ufology circles, with Mick West being one of the more famous ones.    These are the same alternate theories they regularly offer; Follett drew from some of West’s material in his argument.    Without getting too carried away, I will simply state that I always find these vastly simplified explanations insulting, particularly to our men and women in uniform who have come forward with these reports.    On top of the other data available, such debunking theories ask that we accept the assumption that some of our best Top Gun pilots were unable to identify a commercial aircraft, a balloon, or a confused seabird.
    Go and watch the interview that Lieutenant Commander Alex Dietrich, one of the pilots who chased down the object in the Nimitz encounter, did with Anderson Cooper.    Listen to her description of the tic tac and how the event unfolded.    Then come back and tell me that she’s either lying or too incompetent to know a bird when she saw one.    Additionally, we are expected to believe that not only the crews of two F/A-18F Super Hornets but the officers and technicians of an entire carrier battle group and the multiple reader systems they employed were unable to figure out that they were looking at a distant 737 that was potentially wandering too close to restricted airspace?    Or a bird?    Come on.
    Those videos are only the tip of the iceberg.    There is a mountain of information out there if you want to read more deeply than the headlines you’re suddenly seeing in outlets that have rarely, if ever, touched this subject — or if you want to read more in-depth material than the recent segment from 60 Minutes.    There are strange things being seen in our skies.    At least 90 percent can be explained by mundane phenomena, but a significant number can’t, and we’ve had a lot of people working on the problem.    And that’s where the real mystery lies, with answers potentially awaiting us that could trigger a dramatic shift in humanity’s view of our universe and even ourselves.    Or, if nothing else, we’ll find out that the Russians have massively leapfrogged us in technology.    Either way, wouldn’t you like to know?

5/23/2021 China’s Mars rover prowling the red planet by ASSOCIATED PRESS
    BEIJING – China’s first Mars rover has driven off its landing platform to roam the surface of the red planet, China’s space administration said Saturday.
    The solar-powered rover touched Martian soil at 10:40 a.m. Saturday Beijing time (10:40 p.m. EDT Friday), the China National Space Administration said.
    China landed the spacecraft carrying the rover on Mars on May 15, a technically challenging feat more difficult than a moon landing, in a first for the country.    It is the second country to land and operate a spacecraft on Mars, after the United States.
    Named after the Chinese god of fire, Zhurong, the rover has been running diagnostic tests for several days before it began its exploration Saturday.    It is expected to be deployed for 90 days to search of evidence of life.
    China has ambitious space plans that include launching a crewed orbital station and landing a human on the moon.    China in 2019 became the first country to land a space probe on the far side of the moon, and in December returned lunar rocks to Earth for the first time since the 1970s.

5/23/2021 Virgin Galactic rocket ship ascends from New Mexico
    SANTA FE, N.M. – Virgin Galactic on Saturday made its first rocket-powered flight from New Mexico to the fringe of space in a manned shuttle, as the company forges toward offering tourist flights to the edge of the Earth’s atmosphere.    Virgin Galactic announced the firing of VSS Unity’s rocket motor to hurtle the ship and two pilots toward space.    A live feed by showed the rocket ship accelerating upward, estimated a top altitude of at least 50 miles and confirmed a landing later via radar.

5/23/2021 NASA traces source of fast radio bursts sending signals to Earth by Sophie Lewis, CBSNews
    Don't panic, but mysterious sources have been sending radio signals to Earth for years.    Now, scientists have tracked down some of their origins — and they were surprised by what they found.
© SCIENCE: NASA, ESA, Alexandra Mannings (UC Santa Cruz), Wen-fai Fong (Northwestern) IMAGE PROCESSING... stsci-01f5413ef98k1ye6fd48aev2b1.png
    And no, it's still not aliens.
    Using NASA's Hubble Space Telescope, astronomers have traced the locations of five deep space signals known as fast radio bursts (FRBs).    In a thousandth of a second, these powerful blasts generate as much energy as the sun does in an entire year.
    Around 1,000 FRBs have been detected since the first one was discovered in 2001, but they are notoriously difficult to track because they disappear in an instant and without a trace. Only 15 of them have been tracked to specific galaxies.
    Scientists are interested in tracking where these intense pulses are coming from so they can determine what kind of cosmic events trigger them.
    In the new study, set to publish in The Astrophysical Journal, researchers using Hubble's Wide Field Camera 3 were able to pinpoint five out of eight recent FRBs to their host galaxies, as well as the kinds of locations they originated from.    One feature of all of these distant galaxies is their "spiral arms," where stars form.
@ Provided by CBS News Astronomers using the Hubble Space Telescope have tracked down two brief, powerful radio bursts to the spiral arms of the two galaxies
shown above.    The two images at left show the full Hubble snapshots of each galaxy. The two digitally enhanced images on the right reveal
each galaxy's spiral structure in more detail.    The dotted oval lines in each of the four images mark the location of the brilliant radio flares.
/ Credit: SCIENCE: NASA, ESA, Alexandra Mannings (UC Santa Cruz), Wen-fai Fong (Northwestern) IMAGE PROCESSING: Alyssa Pagan (STScI)
    "Our results are new and exciting.    This is the first high-resolution view of a population of FRBs, and Hubble reveals that five of them are localized near or on a galaxy's spiral arms," said lead author Alexandra Mannings.    "Most of the galaxies are massive, relatively young, and still forming stars.    The imaging allows us to get a better idea of the overall host-galaxy properties, such as its mass and star-formation rate, as well as probe what's happening right at the FRB position because Hubble has such great resolution."
    Some of the arm structures were more tightly wound, while others were looser, showing the differences in the distribution of stars.    The images indicate that the FRBs likely do not come from the galaxies' youngest, most massive stars.
    The flares likely do not originate from the explosive deaths of these young stars, nor the merger of neutron stars, scientists said.    They also do not come from dwarf galaxies, which scientists previously failed to rule out as a possibility.    With each new discovery, astronomers are narrowing down the possible explanation for these mysterious signals.
    "We don't know what causes FRBs, so it's really important to use context when we have it," said team member Wen-fai Fong.    "This technique has worked very well for identifying the progenitors of other types of transients, such as supernovae and gamma-ray bursts.    Hubble played a big role in those studies, too."
    The team's findings support the idea that FRBs originate from the bursts of young magnetars, a type of neutron star with powerful magnetic fields.    Scientists call them the strongest magnets in the universe — 10 trillion times more powerful than a refrigerator door magnet.
    "Owing to their strong magnetic fields, magnetars are quite unpredictable," Fong explains.    "In this case, the FRBs are thought to come from flares from a young magnetar.    Massive stars go through stellar evolution and become neutron stars, some of which can be strongly magnetized, leading to flares and magnetic processes on their surfaces, which can emit radio light."
Astronomers detect mysterious bursts of radio signals from distant galaxy
    The galaxies observed in the study existed billions of years ago, so scientists are observing them as they appeared when the universe was approximately half its current age.    Many of them are as massive as the Milky Way, which is also a type of spiral galaxy.
    The galaxies are all located between 400 million and 9 billion light years away from Earth.
    "This is such a new and exciting field," Fong said.    "Finding these localized events is a major piece to the puzzle, and a very unique puzzle piece compared to what's been done before."

5/24/2021 Scientists spot the most energetic light ever seen by Jon Fingas
    Scientists have yet to fully solve the mysteries of highly energetic light, and now they have another mystery on their hands.    ScienceNewsreports that a team using the China-based Large High Altitude Air Shower Observatory (LHAASO) has detected the most energetic light to date coming from a group of a dozen gamma ray "hotspots," with the most energy coming from a ray with about 1.4 quadrillion electron volts.    The previous record-setting ray managed 'just' under a quadrillion electron volts.

@ MARIANA SUAREZ via Getty Images TOPSHOT - A tent is seen between trees as the Milky Way appears
in the sky in the Uruguayan countryside some 185 km north of Montevideo near Capilla del Sauce, Florida Department,
on February 5, 2021. (Photo by Mariana SUAREZ / AFP) (Photo by MARIANA SUAREZ/AFP via Getty Images)
    The discovery suggests that the Milky Way galaxy is loaded with particle accelerators that boost electrons and protons to extreme speeds.    It's not always clear what produces these hotspots, although nebulae and star nurseries (such as the Cygnus Cocoon) have been candidates.
    This might also hint at many more discoveries to come. LHAASO is only due to be completed later in 2021. It's expected to find many more of these intense light sources.    That, in turn, could provide more answers about their creation and the systems that drive the universe.

5/24/2021 NASA’s Voyager 2 Has Entered Deep Space – And It’s Left Scientists Wowed by Tiernan Cannon
    Since August 1977, Voyager 2 has been traveling through our universe.    That’s a very long time, but the vintage probe hasn’t been slacking.    It’s traveled to several planets in our solar system, sending back valuable pictures and information about the wonders of our Solar System.    And all these years later, Voyager 2 is still wowing scientists – and breaking boundaries.
    You see, in October 2018 NASA published a news release announcing that Voyager 2 may be approaching interstellar space.    And this feat would certainly be momentous; if the craft managed to travel into this remote part of the galaxy, it would become only the second man-made entity to do so.    The first craft to have reached this milestone had actually been the probe’s sister, Voyager 1, which had achieved the feat in 2013.
    Then in December 2018 NASA confirmed that Voyager 2 had indeed made it into interstellar space.    And even though Voyager 1 had already paved the way, this new development was still significant.    Thanks to a certain functional instrument on board Voyager 2, NASA could now look forward to learning yet more about the universe.
    But before we turn our attention to Voyager 2’s latest mission, let’s first consider what interstellar space actually is.    The term “interstellar” literally means “between stars,” and that’s precisely where this section of the galaxy lies.    However, it’s easier to discern the exact nature of interstellar space when contrasting it with what lies over the border.
    The heliopause is located in between interstellar space and an area known as the heliosphere – a large bubble of sorts that emanates from and encloses the Sun.    And the heliosphere itself exists as a result of solar winds originating from the hot star that gives Earth its light.
    One way to distinguish between the heliosphere and interstellar space is to look at the nature of the solar particles found in each region.    Within the heliosphere, these tiny bits of matter are high in temperature and are dispersed quite widely; beyond the bubble, however, the particles are cooler and more tightly packed together.
    For their part, both Voyager 1 and Voyager 2 have managed to cross past the outer edges of the heliosphere – and thus into interstellar space.    Yet reaching this section of the galaxy wasn’t the main objective given to either craft, as they had initially been sent into the skies for other purposes.
    As the probes’ names suggest, both were launched as part of NASA’s Voyager program.    Voyager 2 was the first to be sent off on August 20, 1977, with its sister following suit on September 5 that year.    And broadly speaking, the two craft were tasked with exploring the outer reaches of our solar system.
    The pair of probes were designed in precisely the same manner, too, and are indistinguishable to look at.    They also each apparently weigh 1,704 pounds, of which 231 pounds can be attributed to a range of scientific implements.    And stowed away on both Voyager 1 and Voyager 2 is something known as the Voyager Golden Record.
    The Voyager Golden Record is a phonograph record that carries sounds and a number of images from Earth.    A committee led by famed astronomer Carl Sagan chose the discs’ contents, with the panel ultimately picking noises from nature as well as some musical pieces from various cultures on Earth.
    And the music on the record was selected to exhibit a wide range of human tastes – taking in classical compositions by Bach and Beethoven along with some examples of pop.    In fact, the addition of Chuck Berry’s “Johnny B. Goode” was apparently a cause for disquiet to some, who labeled the tune “adolescent.”    However, Sagan apparently coolly responded to these concerns by saying, “There are a lot of adolescents on the planet.”
    Then a copy of the Voyager Golden Record was sent aboard each of the two spacecraft in the unlikely event of their discovery by aliens.    Speaking of the artifact to NASA in 1977, Sagan explained, “The spacecraft will be encountered and the record played only if there are advanced spacefaring civilizations in interstellar space.    But… the launching of this bottle into the cosmic ocean says something very hopeful about life on this planet.”
    Also included within the Voyager Golden Record are some 115 illustrations and photographs.    A number of these present various mathematical and scientific theories, while others simply show more day-to-day aspects of human existence.    In addition, there are a couple of notes included with each copy of the record, including one from the then-president.
    "This is a present from a small, distant world,” the president wrote to the potential discoverers of either probe. “[It is] a token of our sounds, our science, our images, our music, our thoughts and our feelings. We are attempting to survive our time so we may live into yours.”
    Yet the Voyager mission was designed for more than just the potential for alien contact.    Specifically, the two probes had initially been sent into space in order to investigate the planetary systems of Saturn and Jupiter.    The craft managed to go even further than this, however, upon completion of these principal objectives.
    Yes, after Voyager 2 had reached and analyzed Saturn and Jupiter, it continued on to Uranus and Neptune.    The probe then visited Uranus’ planetary system in 1986 and Neptune’s in 1989.    And to this very day, Voyager 2 remains the only spacecraft to have ever explored these two planets.
    Voyager 1, meanwhile, became the third ever man-made entity to reach the speed necessary to leave the solar system.    Even today, only five probes have achieved such a feat: the two Voyager spacecraft, Pioneer 10, Pioneer 11 and New Horizons.    This last probe was sent to space in 2006, while the other four were launched throughout the 1970s.
    And throughout the earlier years of the Voyager mission, the two spacecraft uncovered significant information regarding the planets in the outer solar system: Jupiter, Saturn, Uranus and Neptune. Using an array of scientific implements and cameras, the Voyager probes were able to make enlightening observations about these celestial bodies.
    In January 1979 Voyager 1 started to photograph Jupiter, with the best images – snapped in March that year – able to show us more of the planet’s rings, magnetic fields and moons.    And, intriguingly, volcanic activity was also recorded on the moon Io – thus marking the first time that such a phenomenon had been observed beyond Earth.
    During its own journey flying past Jupiter in July 1979, Voyager 2 backed up its sister probe’s observations on Io’s volcano.    In addition, the craft observed the Great Red Spot – the site of the biggest anticyclonic storm in our solar system.    Estimates vary, but experts believe that the storm may have been raging for up to 350 years.
    Then, following their respective flybys of Jupiter, the space probes both traveled to Saturn.    Voyager 1 approached nearest the planet in November 1980, while Voyager 2 got closest in August 1981.    And as had been the case with the Jupiter trips, the spacecraft revealed new details about Saturn through the data that they had acquired.
    Voyager 1, for instance, photographed and noted some complicated features in Saturn’s rings.    And while a failing piece of equipment compromised the integrity of these images, Voyager 2 was thankfully able to later snap higher-quality photos that in turn led to the discovery of numerous new details.
    Both space probes also studied Saturn’s atmosphere, with Voyager 1 noting that this consisted predominately of helium and hydrogen.    The pair additionally rotated around Saturn to discover the length of a day on the planet, which turned out to be nearly 11 Earth hours.
    And Voyager 1’s course also involved drifting past Titan – Saturn’s biggest natural satellite and the second most sizeable in the solar system behind the Jupiter-orbiting Ganymede. What’s more, Titan is not only around 50 percent larger than our own Moon, but it’s actually bigger than the planet Mercury.
    Experts were keen to observe Titan, too, meaning Voyager 2’s course would have been adjusted to complete the task if Voyager 1 couldn’t manage it.    And this was despite the fact that such a diversion would have prevented Voyager 2 from ever making it to Uranus and Neptune.
    Thankfully, Voyager 1 managed to observe Titan, thereby allowing Voyager 2 to travel on to Uranus.    Then Voyager 1 journeyed towards the edge of the solar system, snapping images as it did so.    One famous photograph from 1990 became the first “family portrait” of the solar system, showing what it looked like from the outside – with Earth as a dot in the distance.
    Then in 1998 Voyager 1 overtook the Pioneer 10 space probe as the furthest man-made object from Earth.    Apparently, Voyager 1 moves by 325 million miles every 12 months – or a single light year every 18,000 years.    And in August 2012 it became the first craft to have ever reached interstellar space, too.
    Voyager 2, meanwhile, reached its closest point to Uranus in January 1986. And during its time within the planet’s vicinity, it identified 11 formerly undiscovered moons.    Voyager 2’s observations established, furthermore, that a day on Uranus lasts for just over 17 Earth hours.
    Then in 1989 Voyager 2 managed to travel and get close to the planet of Neptune.    And while there, the craft flew past Triton as well as six other moons that had hitherto gone unrecognized.    The probe also discovered two rings that wrap around the dense ice giant.
    Finally, after Voyager 2 had completed its flyby of Neptune, the planetary phases of its mission came to an end.    But the craft wouldn’t be coming back to Earth.
    Instead, NASA decided to utilize the probe in order to learn more about the area outside the heliosphere.    Yes, like its sister, Voyager 2 would be making its way to interstellar space.
    And in December 2018 NASA revealed that Voyager 2 had passed through the heliosphere the month previously.    How could the agency confidently make this claim?    Well, it’s all down to a piece of equipment on Voyager 2 called a Plasma Science instrument, or PLS.
    Yes, while the PLS hasn’t functioned on Voyager 1 since 1980, it works well on Voyager 2.    For its part, the device is used to note the nature of solar wind particles within the heliosphere.    And given that no solar wind has been detected around Voyager 2 since November 2018, this in turn proves the craft has now made it into interstellar space.
    Furthermore, Voyager 2’s working PLS could be a boon for exploring the universe, as one expert on the device has suggested.    John Richardson of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology told NASA in December 2018, “Even though Voyager 1 crossed the heliopause in 2012, it did so at a different place and a different time [to Voyager 2] and without the PLS data.    So we’re still seeing things that no one has seen before.”
    Information is now being sent back to Earth from both Voyager 1 and Voyager 2.    And using the resulting data, NASA can examine the heliosphere and its response to factors from beyond its boundaries. This process is vital to making new discoveries, too, as the director of NASA’s heliophysics division has claimed.
    “Voyager has a very special place for us in our heliophysics fleet,” NASA’s Nicola Fox has explained.    “Our studies start at the Sun and extend out to everything the solar wind touches.    To have the Voyagers sending back information about the edge of the Sun’s influence gives us an unprecedented glimpse of truly uncharted territory.”
    It has been estimated that both Voyager 1 and Voyager 2 are capable of remaining functional until 2025.    From that point on, the two may lose their electricity – thus putting an end to their scientific operations.    Yet even if this is the case, the craft will have each endured for almost half a century after the beginning of their respective missions.
    In fact, NASA initially sent the Voyager probes to space in 1977 with the intention of them working for five years.    But their objectives to observe Jupiter and Saturn have long been completed, as have their observations of Uranus and Neptune.    And now the spacecraft have even made it to interstellar space.
    “I think we’re all happy and relieved that the Voyager probes have both operated long enough to make it past this milestone,” mission project manager Suzanne Dodd told the agency.    She continued, “This is what we’ve all been waiting for.    Now we’re looking forward to what we’ll be able to learn from having both probes outside the heliopause.”
    Now, NASA is planning a new mission to build upon the pioneering work already undertaken by the Voyager probes. Currently, the so-called Interstellar Mapping and Acceleration Probe is scheduled to be launched in 2024.    And who knows what new findings it may uncover to add to the data from the Voyager missions?

5/24/2021 Safety Brake On Italian Cable Car Failed After Line Snapped – Prosecutor
A crashed cable car is seen after it collapsed in Stresa, near Lake Maggiore,
Italy May 23, 2021. ALPINE RESCUE SERVICE/Handout via REUTERS
    STRESA, Italy (Reuters) – Investigators said on Monday their initial probe into a cable car disaster in northern Italy that killed 14 people would look into how the lead cable snapped and why a safety brake mechanism failed to activate.
    The gondola, on a cableway that takes visitors up a mountain from near the shore of Lake Maggiore, plunged to the ground on Sunday, killing all aboard apart from a 5-year-old Israeli boy, who suffered multiple broken bones and is in critical condition.
    Italian prosecutors have opened an investigation into suspected involuntary manslaughter and negligence.
    “We are starting from the empirical evidence. The cable sheared and the system of safety brakes clearly did not work,” said public prosecutor Olimpia Bossi.
    Initial reports said the cable that was pulling the cabin up the slope snapped as the gondola neared the end of its 20-minute journey to the top of the Mottarone mountain.
    The braking mechanism on a second wire that was bearing the weight of the cabin failed to engage and the gondola slid backwards before apparently hitting a pylon and tumbling to earth, where it rolled over before hitting trees.
    Transport and Infrastructure Minister Enrico Giovannini visited the area on Monday and said the government would also set up a commission to look into Italy’s worst cable car disaster since 1998, when 20 people died after a low-flying U.S. warplane accidentally cut through a supporting cable.
    “The government, as well all the institutions, are naturally committed to understanding the causes, to understanding what happened,” Giovannini told reporters.
    The cable car underwent major maintenance work between 2014 and 2016.    Checks were carried out in 2017 and again last year by specialist technicians.    Italian media reported that the wires were not due to be replaced until 2029.
    The cabin could hold up to 40 people, but was less than half full because of restrictions to prevent COVID-19 infections. The lift station had been closed much of the winter because of coronavirus and had reopened last month.
(Reporting by Crispian Balmer and Emily Roe; Editing by Giles Elgood)

5/24/2021 Tremors Shake Congo’s Goma After Volcanic Eruption, Scores Missing
Residents walk near destroyed homes with the smouldering lava deposited by the eruption of
Mount Nyiragongo volcano near Goma, in the Democratic Republic of Congo May 23, 2021. REUTERS/Djaffar Al Katanty
    GOMA, Democratic Republic of Congo (Reuters) -Repeated tremors shook the Congolese city of Goma on Monday, unnerving families still reeling from a volcano eruption at the weekend that destroyed nearby villages, displaced thousands and killed at least 15 people.
    Mount Nyiragongo, one of the world’s most active and dangerous volcanoes, erupted on Saturday evening, sending a smouldering wall of lava half a mile wide downhill towards the city of 2 million people.
    The lava flow stopped a few hundred metres short of the city limits, but wrecked 17 villages on the way, cut the principal electricity supply and blocked a major road, disrupting aid deliveries.
    A string of small earthquakes has since struck the city, the surrounding region in eastern Democratic Republic of Congo and across the border into Rwanda.
    One reached a 5.1 magnitude at 10:37 a.m. (0837 GMT) on Monday, according to the Rwanda Seismic Monitor, which is managed by the Rwanda Mines, Petroleum and Gas Board.
    Shops briefly reopened in Goma on Monday but many closed again as the tremors grew more severe and residents worried that these could trigger another eruption.
    Tremors struck every 30 minutes in the city from midday on Sunday.    In Rwanda, a Reuters reporter saw several buildings damaged by the tremors.
    Dario Tedesco, a volcanologist based in Goma, told Reuters the earthquakes were caused by tectonic plates realigning after the eruption, and that the risk of a second eruption was small.
    “It’s exactly what we saw in 2002 where we felt many earthquakes in the aftermath,” he said referring to the volcano’s last eruption.
    But authorities in Goma urged caution.
    “In view of the earthquake, which is becoming more severe, parents are asked not to send their children to school until further notice,” army spokesman Guillaume Ndjike said.
    About 1,000 houses were destroyed and more than 5,000 people displaced by the eruption, the United Nations aid coordinator in Congo, Diego Zorrilla, told Reuters on Monday.
    Goma is a hub for humanitarian aid in Congo’s east, but delivery efforts have been hindered by the closure of Goma’s airport, Zorrilla said, and it could be days before the main road from Goma to the north reopens, he added.
    “We have humanitarian operations in North Kivu that target 1.4 million people, that risk being disrupted if access to and from Goma is not restored,” Zorrilla said.
    Fifteen people were killed on Saturday, including nine in a traffic accident as residents fled, four who tried to escape Munzenze prison in Goma and two who were burned to death, the government said.
    The death toll is likely to rise considerably.    Residents told Reuters about relatives lying dead the wreckage or missing. UNICEF said around 170 children were among the missing.
(Reporting by Olivia Acland and Hereward Holland; Writing by Cooper Inveen; Editing by Edward McAllister, Jane Merriman and Andrew Heavens)

5/24/2021 Congo Volcano Leaves Death And Smoking Wreckage, But Major City Spared by Djafar Al Katanty
An aerial view shows lava flowing from the volcanic eruption of Mount Nyiragongo near Goma, in the Democratic Republic of Congo May 22, 2021.
Picture taken May 22, 2021. The United Nations Organization Stabilization Mission in the Democratic Republic of the Congo/Handout via REUTERS
    GOMA (Reuters) -A volcanic eruption in eastern Congo left a smoking trail of destruction half a mile wide on Sunday that buried hundreds of houses and left residents searching for missing loved ones, before halting just short of the city of Goma.
    Goma was thrown into panic on Saturday evening as Mount Nyiragongo, one of the world’s most active and dangerous volcanoes, erupted, turning the night sky an eerie red and sending a wall of orange lava downhill towards the lakeside city of about 2 million people.
    Fifteen were killed, including nine in a traffic accident as residents fled, four who tried to escape Munzenze prison in Goma and two who were burned to death, government spokesman Patrick Muyaya said in a statement.
    That figure will likely rise considerably.    A Reuters reporter saw two people killed by the initial eruption in a village north of Goma, and witnesses spoke of dead and missing relatives.
    Haunted by memories of an eruption in 2002 that killed 250 people and left 120,000 homeless, residents fled on foot with their belongings, some towards the nearby border with Rwanda.
    The International Federation of Red Cross said that between 3,000 and 5,000 fled into Rwanda on Saturday, many of them peasants and farmers with livestock. Some began returning on Sunday.
    The eruption was caused when fractures opened in the volcano’s side, causing lava flows in various directions.
    As the sun rose on Sunday a smouldering black gash about half a mile wide could be seen on the outskirts of Goma, where the lava had cooled to rubble.
    At some points it was three storeys high, engulfing even large buildings and sending smoke into the grey morning sky.
    Residents in the Buhene district sorted through the mangled white remains of tin roofs or lifted rocks – tiny individual efforts in what will likely be a months-long campaign to restore the zone.
    Elsewhere, groups of people posed for photos on the steaming lava.
    In all, seventeen villages were hit, Muyaya said, and three health centres, a primary school and a water pipeline were destroyed.
    Lava crossed a main road running north from Goma, severing a key aid and supply route, and the city’s principle supply of electricity, delivered along a line run by the Congolese Water and Electricity Distribution Company, was cut.
    A government delegation has been dispatched to Goma to help in the response, he said.
    Some said they had lost family members.
    Ernestine Kabuo, 68, said she had tried to carry her sick husband from their house as the lava approached, but he was too unwell to leave.
    “I said to myself, I can’t go alone, we’ve been married for the best and for the worst,” said Kabuo, walking in a daze and crying, surrounded by buildings swallowed by lava.
    “I went back to at least try to get him out but couldn’t.    I ran away and he got burned inside.    I don’t know what to do.    I curse this day.”
    The flow towards Goma stopped a few hundred metres from the city limits. The nearby airport was untouched.    A separate lava flow that headed east over unpopulated terrain towards Rwanda also appeared to have stopped.
    “Local authorities who have been monitoring the eruption overnight report that the lava flow has lost intensity,” Muyaya said.
    Still, authorities warned that the danger was not over and that seismic activity in the area could cause further lava flows.
    Before the eruption, experts were worried that the volcanic activity observed in the past five years at Nyiragongo mirrored that in the years preceding eruptions in 1977 and 2002.
    Volcanologists at the OVG, which monitors Nyiragongo, have struggled to make basic checks on a regular basis since the World Bank cut funding amid embezzlement allegations.
    From October 2020 to April, the observatory could not carry out comprehensive seismic checks on the volcano because analysts lacked an internet connection, OVG’s scientific director Celestin Kasereka Mahinda told local Radio Okapi on Sunday.
    Internet was restored in April thanks to funding from a U.S. partner, he said, but by that stage too much time had been lost.
    “As soon as the internet was restored, we had started recording the warning signals, but since we did not have previous data, we thought it was the start of volcanic activity.    Hence this surprise.”
(Additional reporting by Hereward Holland and Stanis Bujakera in Kinshasa, Olivia Acland and Fiston Mahamba in Goma; Writing by Edward McAllister; Editing by David Goodman, Emelia Sithole-Matarise and Jan Harvey)

5/25/2021 Pope Launches Green Initiative, Decrying “Predatory Attitude” Toward Planet by Philip Pullella
FILE PHOTO: Pope Francis leads the Pentecost Mass at St. Peter's Basilica at the
Vatican May 23, 2021. REUTERS/Remo Casilli/File Photo
    VATICAN CITY (Reuters) – Pope Francis launched an initiative on Tuesday to make Catholic institutions ranging from families to universities to businesses environmentally sustainable in seven years, saying a “predatory attitude” toward the planet must end.
    The Laudato Si Action Platform takes its name from the pope’s landmark 2015 encyclical on the need to protect the environment, reduce wasteful lifestyles, stem global warming and protect the poor from the effects of climate change.
    At a news conference announcing the initiative, Cardinal Peter Turkson, head of the Vatican’s development office, said the pope has been invited to attend the United Nations’ Climate Change Conference (COP26) in November in Glasgow, Scotland.    Turkson indicated that the pope likely will attend.
    In a video message for the launch, the pope said the initiative would be “a seven-year journey that will see our communities committed in different ways to becoming totally sustainable, in the spirit of integral ecology.”
    He decried “our predatory attitude, which makes us feel that we are masters of the planet and its resources, and authorises us to make irresponsible use of the goods God has given us.”
    The initiative will have focus groups including families, parishes and diocese, schools and universities, hospitals and other health care facilities, businesses, lay Catholic organisations, and orders of priests and nuns.
    Since Laudato Si (Praised Be) was published in 2015, the Vatican and Catholic groups in the 1.3-billion-member Church around the world have taken many initiatives to reduce their carbon footprint.
    The Vatican, the world’s smallest state, has nearly eliminated single-use plastic, recycles most of its trash and makes its own compost for its gardens.
    The Vatican development office will coordinate actions and provide guidance to groups and individuals.
    Francis strongly supports the goals of the 2015 U.N. Paris accord to reduce global warming.
    “These wounds (to the planet) manifest themselves dramatically in an ecological crisis without precedent, which affects the ground, the air, water and, in general, the ecosystem in which human beings live,” Francis said.
    “We have a great responsibility, especially with regard to the future generations.    What world do we want to leave to our children and our young?    Our selfishness, our indifference and our irresponsible ways are threatening the future of our children.”
(Reporting by Philip Pullella; Editing by Mark Heinrich)

5/25/2021 Earthquakes At Congo Border Raise Fears Of Second Volcanic Eruption by Djaffar Al Katanty
A resident picks up remains from their home which is covered with smouldering lava after the eruption of
Mount Nyiragongo volcano, near Goma, in the Democratic Republic of Congo May 24, 2021. REUTERS/Djaffar Al Katanty
    GOMA, Democratic Republic of Congo, May 25 (Reuters) An earthquake in the borderlands between Rwanda and Congo brought down buildings in the city of Goma on Tuesday and raised fears a nearby volcano would erupt again three days after dozens of people were killed and 17 villages were destroyed by lava.
    The quake, measured at 5.3 magnitude by the Rwandan Seismic Monitor, was the largest of several tremors that have followed the eruption on Saturday of Congo’s Mount Nyiragongo volcano, one of the world’s most active and dangerous.
    “We know that children were injured when a building collapsed on Tuesday just a few steps from the UNICEF office in Goma,” the United Nations’ children’s agency said.
    The quake appeared to have destroyed several buildings in the city of two million, and a witness said at least three people were pulled from the rubble and taken to hospital.
    It struck at 11:03 a.m., originating in Rugerero sector in western Rwanda, according to the Rwanda Seismic Monitor, which is managed by the Rwanda Mines, Petroleum and Gas Board.
    Multiple cracks in the earth have emerged in Goma in the last day, although businesses have re-opened across the city and life appeared to be largely returning to normal for those who did not lose their homes.
    About 1,000 houses were destroyed and more than 5,000 people displaced by the eruption, the United Nations has said.
    “According to the authorities, 32 people have died in incidents related to the eruption, including seven people killed by lava flow and five others asphyxiated by gases,” the U.N. refugee agency UNHCR said.
    The lava flow stopped a few hundred metres short of the city limits, but wrecked 17 villages on the way, cut the principal electricity supply and blocked a major road, disrupting aid deliveries to one of the most food insecure places in Africa.
    The lava lake in the volcano’s crater appears to have refilled, raising fears of new fissures or another eruption, UNHCR said.    Goma-based volcanologist Dario Tedesco said on Monday he feared the tremors could open another fracture.
    The government said a 1.7 km (1.1 mile) stretch of road connecting Goma to the north of the province was covered with lava, blocking the movement of people and goods to an area where some 280,000 people have been displaced by conflict and fighting since January.
    The U.N. said it would take days to re-open the road and that it was seeking permission from the government to start re-using Goma airport. The hub for aid relief for the east of the country was closed after lava came within 300 metres (yards).
    More than half a million people have lost access to safe water, as lava destroyed one of the most important water supply sources, the International Federation of the Red Cross said.
    “Although the flow of lava has stopped, authorities have warned that the danger is not yet over and that seismic activity in the area could cause further lava flows.    Infrastructure damage is not ruled out,” the IFRC said.
(Reporting by Djaffar Al Katanty and Fiston Mahamba;writing by Hereward Hollandediting by Raissa Kasolowsky and Philippa Fletcher)

5/26/2021 If Aliens Are Out There, They’re Way Out There by Marina Koren, The Atlantic
    The mysterious flying objects showed up in Washington, D.C., on a hot, humid night in the summer of 1952.    The air-traffic controllers at the airport saw them first, and then so did the operators at nearby Air Force bases—seven unexplained blips on their radar screens.    A commercial pilot in the vicinity reported seeing bright lights in the darkness.    The Air Force dispatched fighter jets but found nothing.    A week later, it happened again.    More blips.    More jets.    This time, an Air Force pilot even reported chasing a strange light before it got away.    The newspapers were all over these sightings.    “Jets Chase D.C. Sky Ghosts.”    “Saucers Swarm Over Capital.”    “Aerial Whatzits Buzz D.C. Again!
© Shell R. Alpert / LOC / Corbis / VCG / Getty Images A cluster of
glowing unidentified objects hovers in the sky over Salem, Massachusetts, in 1952
    Decades later, as America heads into another toasty summer, unidentified flying objects are in the headlines again.    Many more of us are involved in the story this time, jammed together in the control tower of the internet, watching grainy, black-and-white videos from the U.S. Navy that purport to show something unexplainable and trying to figure out what we’re seeing.    But just like in 1952, some people are making the leap from strange, cloud-skimming phenomena to aliens.
    The videos aren’t new, but the footage has gained attention in recent weeks because a special Pentagon task force is expected to deliver a report to Congress about UFOs.    The task force was created last year to help improve the Defense Department’s understanding of “the nature and origins” of the unidentified aerial phenomena detected by U.S. military aircraft.    The report, out next month, is supposed to reveal what intelligence agencies know about these UFOs and what threat the objects pose to national security.
    This is real; the videos are real; UFOs, in the most basic sense, are real. The military has spotted objects flying in the sky, and it has not identified what they are.    These objects, whatever you want to call them, are worth close examination.    But there’s no reason to think they’re alien.
    Why not?    Jason Wright, an astronomer at Penn State University, gets this question a lot, especially recently.    Wright works in the field of SETI—the search for extraterrestrial intelligence.    His job is to look for signs of alien technology, so it seems logical that he might have some thoughts on UFOs and their rumored extraterrestrial origins.    But ufology and SETI are two entirely different fields.
[Read: Just don’t call them UFOs]
    SETI operates on the principle that ET follows the laws of physics as we know them, but what makes these UFO videos so enticing is precisely the opposite—whatever is captured in them seems to be moving in a way that appears to defy those exact laws.    Guided by known physics, SETI astronomers look for aliens deep in space, rather than in the clouds overhead—because if the truth is out there, it’s way, way out there, around stars many light-years away.    Even after decades of research, the SETI community has yet to find evidence of aliens, probably for the same reason that extraterrestrial beings, should they exist, would be unlikely to visit our planet—the space between stars, let alone galaxies, is unfathomably vast.    And astronomers are just starting to understand the planets around other stars.    “Every star could have an intelligent, technological civilization like Earth and we wouldn’t know it,” Wright told me.    He sees no problem with the desire to better understand our airspace and investigate unexplained phenomena, “but why drag astronomers into it?
    Perhaps because the alternatives to aliens are much more boring.    The subjects of the most widely shared UFO videos are likely terrestrial in origin.    Many mundane objects can masquerade as something otherworldly: experimental aircraft, atmospheric quirks, drones, balloons, even the planet Venus.    Camera glitches and distortions can manifest something that isn’t really there.    Consider these explanations, and the magic starts to dissipate.    The UFOs become a national-security story (could that unrecognizable technology belong to an adversarial nation?).    Or a story about Washington connections (a secretive government UFO program relied on a company run by a wealthy UFO believer—who also donated to the U.S. senator who helped establish that program).    Or a story about the media (most news reports quote the same cast of UFO lobbyists over and over).    Even the forthcoming report is, at its core, a story about bureaucracy; the special task force is meant to standardize the government’s approach to cataloging and making public reports of mysterious encounters.    “The implication will be, ‘Oh my God, they were hiding something.    I knew it!’ as if that means ‘These things are aliens,’ as opposed to ‘The military is secretive, and now you know it was secretive,’” Wright said.
    If we’re honest, most of us would probably choose to relish the mystery of an inexplicable, unknowable technology rather than come back down to Earth.    That feeling is obvious in recent news coverage, as Adam Kehoe, a software engineer and freelance writer, points out.    In a New Yorker piece, Gideon Lewis-Kraus wrote that a discussion with a well-known UFO skeptic “left me feeling vaguely demoralized,” while his conversations with a well-known UFO activist were “greatly pleasurable distractions that tended to absorb entire afternoons.”    In an alien-curious piece for The New York Times, the writer Ezra Klein acknowledged that he enjoys “the spaciousness of mystery."
[Read: How would people react to news that aliens exist?]
    I understand the appeal of the mystery.    In 2015, when astronomers announced that a distant star in the Milky Way was flickering strangely, as if something nearby was taking in its light—perhaps a giant contraption built by advanced beings to harness energy?—I remember thinking, This is it!    Two years later, when the same astronomers concluded that the “alien megastructure” was probably a clump of cosmic dust, I was secretly disappointed.    Last year, another team picked up a radio signal coming from the closest star to the sun.    Researchers warned that it was probably terrestrial interference (and it was), but how lovely might a different result have been?    Or, given the year we’ve had, how appropriate?    At this point, an alien visit might seem like a believable plot line.    “Mobs sacked the U.S. Capitol; millions of people died of an airborne disease in the 21st century,” Michael Varnum, a psychology professor at Arizona State University who has studied how people might react to the discovery of alien life, told me.    “There might be something about having lived through a bunch of science-fiction events that might make folks a little more open to radical possibilities that they might have discounted before.”
    Humanity may indeed uncover compelling evidence for extraterrestrial existence in our lifetime, but it will very possibly come in the form of microbes.    Such life might have existed on Mars, where a rover has been dispatched to search for tiny dead beings in the rock, and may exist now beneath the icy surfaces of the moons     Europa and Enceladus.    Astronomers could even detect promising signs on worlds beyond our solar system, in the mix of chemicals in a cloud of exoplanets so striking that something alive must be responsible for their presence.    Those distant atmospheres are better places to look than our own.    The findings, in this case, will be less internet-worthy, less titillating—no grainy footage, just a bunch of squiggly lines on a graph.    “It’s a little complicated and distant,” says Katie Mack, an astrophysicist at North Carolina State University who, like Wright, has been bombarded with questions about UFOs and aliens.    “It doesn’t make us feel special and selected, and doesn’t give us any immediate connection with other beings.”
    That evidence, too, will need to meet a higher scientific standard than the military’s footage ever could, and will almost certainly be shared with greater transparency, as science demands.    When Edward Ruppelt, an Air Force officer who worked on one of the Pentagon’s earliest efforts to understand sightings of strange objects in the sky, first coined the term UFO 70 years ago, he was already frustrated by the government’s obfuscation.    “People want to know the facts,” he wrote in a 1955 report.    “But more often than not, these facts have been obscured by secrecy and confusion, a situation that has led to wild speculation on one end of the scale and an almost dangerously blasé attitude on the other.”    Deciphering the latest UFO freak-out is complicated enough.    To paraphrase Wright, why drag aliens into it?

5/26/2021 Tens Of Thousands Homeless In Eastern India After Cyclone Batters Coast by Subrata Nag Choudhury and Jatindra Dash
Army soldiers evacuate people from a flooded area to safer places as Cyclone Yaas makes landfall at Ramnagar in
Purba Medinipur district in the eastern state of West Bengal, India, May 26, 2021. REUTERS/Rupak De Chowdhuri
    KOLKATA, India (Reuters) -A powerful cyclone swept into eastern India from the Bay of Bengal on Wednesday, inundating hundreds of low-lying villages, making more than 50,000 people homeless and killing at least one person, officials said.
    Cyclone Yaas was packing gusts of up to 140 kph (87 mph) as it made landfall, days after another storm tore up the western coast, triggering mass evacuations and piling pressure on authorities battling a deadly second wave of the coronavirus.
    In West Bengal, an eastern state that borders Bangladesh, authorities said that around 1,100 villages had been flooded by storm surges, leaving at least 50,000 homeless.
    “But the figure may rise as reports are yet to reach us from interior areas,” state minister Bankim Hazra told Reuters.
    Across the state, rising waters breached river embankments in more than 100 locations, with the storm damaging 20,000 traditional mud homes and killing at least one person after a house collapsed, West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee told reporters.
    In neighbouring Odisha, around 120 villages had been swamped by heavy rain and sea water whipped up by the cyclone but people in most areas had already been moved to storm shelters, the state’s top bureaucrat, Suresh Mahapatra, told Reuters.
    In all, authorities had evacuated more than a million people before Cyclone Yaas made landfall.
    Cyclones in the Bay of Bengal are common at this time of year and often roar ashore, bringing death and destruction to the coastal areas of both India and neighbouring Bangladesh.
    The devastating wave of virus infections complicated storm preparations.    Odisha officials said they had suspended testing, vaccination and a door-to-door health survey in the three districts in the storm’s path.
    But Mahapatra said many doctors and hospital staff in the state had camped inside their facilities as the storm bore down, and key services were continuing with minimal disruption.
    “All hospitals, including COVID hospitals, are running smoothly,” he said.
    Weather officials in Bangladesh said the storm was likely to swamp low-lying areas of 14 coastal districts, bringing tides three to four feet (0.91-1.22 meters) higher than normal. They advised fishing boats and trawlers to stay in shelter.
(Additional reporting by Ruma Paul in Dhaka; Writing by Sanjeev Miglani and Devjyot Ghoshal; Editing by Clarence Fernandez, Mark Heinrich and Nick Macfie)

5/27/2021 Profit Put Before Safety In Italy Cable Car Disaster, Prosecutors Say by Angelo Amante
FILE PHOTO: A crashed cable car is seen after it collapsed in Stresa, near Lake Maggiore, Italy
    ROME (Reuters) – Three men arrested over a cable car crash that killed 14 people in northern Italy knew there were technical problems with the cabins, but kept them running for financial reasons, prosecutors said in a legal filing.
    The cable way connecting the northern town of Stresa, on the shores of Lake Maggiore, to the nearby Mottarone mountain plunged to the ground on Sunday after the lead cable snapped, killing all aboard apart from a five-year-old Israeli boy.
    The owner of the cable-car company and two employees were aware the system was not working properly and deliberately placed fork-shaped clamps on the emergency brakes to prevent them from constantly kicking in, prosecutors said.
    “The charges are extremely serious due to the deliberate intention to circumvent the security system for reasons of profit, totally disregarding basic safety rules,” said the detention order drawn up by the prosecutors and seen by Reuters.
    Lawyers for the three men contacted by Reuters made no immediate comment.
    The prosecutors wrote that one of the three men had admitted to disabling the brakes in agreement with the other two suspects in order to prevent having to shut down the popular lift.
    “They have chosen to endanger the lives of other people for their own profit,” chief prosecutor Olimpia Bossi said in an interview with La Stampa newspaper. She added that investigators still did not know why the lead cable had snapped.
    The cable car was closed for much of the year because of curbs limiting the spread of coronavirus.    The service only resumed last month, but prosecutors believe the technical problems surfaced almost immediately, meaning the brakes might have been disabled for several weeks.
    The first funerals of some of the victims took place in both Italy and Israel on Thursday.    The bodies of the five Israeli victims – a young couple, their child and their grandparents – were sent home on Wednesday.
    The eldest child of the couple – the only survivor of the disaster – is still in hospital and is responding to treatment, his doctors said.
(Reporting by Angelo Amante; Editing by Toby Chopra)

5/27/2021 Thousands Flee Goma After Congo Warns Of Possible New Eruption by Djaffar Al Katanty
Household goods from families who are evacuating from recurrent earth tremors as aftershocks following the eruption of
Mount Nyiragongo volcano near Goma, are seen at the border town of Gisenyi, Rwanda May 27, 2021. REUTERS/Fiston Mahamba
    GOMA, Democratic Republic of Congo (Reuters) -Thousands of people scrambled to flee the Congolese city of Goma on Thursday, some picking their way across landscapes scarred with lava, after officials said a second volcanic eruption could happen any time.
    Magma, the molten rock that normally stays beneath the earth’s crust, had been detected beneath the city and the adjoining Lake Kivu, Constant Ndima Kongba, the military governor of North Kivu province, said, citing seismic and ground deformation data.
    “Given these scientific observations, an eruption on land or under the lake cannot be ruled out at present, and it could occur with very little or no warning,” he said.
    Thirty-one people were killed on Saturday evening when Mount Nyiragongo, one of the world’s most active volcanoes, sent a wall of orange lava downhill towards the city, destroying 17 villages on the way.
    The lava stopped just 300 metres short of Goma airport, the main hub for aid operations in eastern Democratic Republic of Congo.    Much of the city was spared but hundreds of earthquakes since have destroyed buildings and opened cracks in the earth.
    Ten neighbourhoods in the east of the city, which lay in the path of lava from the previous eruption in 2002, needed to move to Sake, around 13 miles (21 km) to the northwest, Ndima said.
    “Evacuation is compulsory.    Those who do not adhere swiftly carry unnecessary risks.”
    Thousands of people heeded his message, filing out of town on foot, with huge bundles on their heads.    Others fled by car, creating traffic jams across the city, or on large boats that took them across Lake Kivu.
    On the road north of Goma, a stream of people picked their way across a landscape charred by lava still hot from Saturday’s eruption, drone video footage showed.
    “The first day I didn’t move because there were no orders, but today it’s different,” said Alfred Bulangalire, 42, who was fleeing Goma on foot with his wife and four children.
    “I know that my shop will be looted, but I have to protect myself and my family,” he said.
    A spokesman for the national government said at one point that boat traffic had been banned because Lake Kivu was considered dangerous, but a local governor later said the lake would remain open.
    Volcanologists in Goma warned earlier on Thursday that, in a worst-case scenario, a volcanic eruption under the lake, accompanied by a large earthquake, could trigger a sudden release of carbon dioxide from the bottom of the lake.
    Such an explosion could asphyxiate thousands of people, they said.
    “Faced with this spectrum of dangers … the only option has been to protect human lives and keep the population out of the path of the lava flows,” government spokesman Patrick Muyaya told journalists.
    Goma’s Heal Africa hospital, which was re-built on hardened lava from the 2002 eruption, has sent its patients to other facilities in town, its director, Serge Kahatwa, told Reuters.
    “Other hospitals are full so it’s a big problem right now.    They are overwhelmed,” he said.
    Diego Zorrilla, the U.N.’s deputy humanitarian coordinator in Congo, said U.N. agencies were accelerating plans announced on Wednesday to temporarily relocate around 250 non-essential staff, around half of their aid workers.
    Congo imposed martial law on the region earlier this month to try to stem the bloodshed and widespread insecurity many people still face every day, long after the official end of a civil war in 2003.
    Around 3,000 houses were destroyed in Saturday’s volcanic eruption and more than 20,000 people left homeless.    At least 40 people are still missing.
(Reporting by Djaffar Al Katanty; additional reporting by Stanis Bujakera, Fiston Mahamba and Hereward Holland; writing by Hereward Holland and Edward McAllister; editing by Cooper Inveen, John Stonestreet, Philippa Fletcher)

5/28/2021 Opinion: That UFOs are real is easy to see by U-T Letters, The San Diego Union-Tribune
© (AP Photo) This image made from video shows unidentified flying objects in the skies over southern Campeche state
filmed by Mexican Air Force pilots on March 5, 2004, according to a Defense Department spokesman. (AP Photo)
    UFOs are likely just a matter of perspective
    Re “The government says UFOs are real.    What’s next?”    (May 21): Yes, UFOs are real and have existed since human beings have occupied this planet.    But before you hand me a sheet of tin foil to fashion my own hat, I want to explain that statement.
    No, I’m not referring to those cheesy flying saucers like you see in the 1957 movie, “Plan 9 From Outer Space.”    If some object is flying in the sky, it’s a “flying object.”    If we know what it is (a bird, a plane or an errant Frisbee), then we can identify it.    But if we can’t readily identify what it is, then it’s “unidentified.”
    Over the years, military and commercial pilots have witnessed and recorded flying objects that they cannot readily identify.    So, they’re simply classified as “unidentified flying objects” (UFOs), until we can figure out what they are.    If we ever do.
    Paul Willemssen, Clairemont
    Scientists are considered to be the most questioning of people. So putting on a scientist’s hat, the term “unidentified aerial phenomenon” would not be presumptive if it were changed to “unidentified image phenomenon.”    Both an image of a solid object and an image of an image can be indistinguishable when the quality is low.
    The UAP might be taken less seriously if investigators would look for the cause of an image instead of a solid object.    Images can explain the incredible movements and lack of a propulsion system. A person with a laser or even a flashlight can make image movements that are impossible for a solid object.
    Thomas C. Podvin, Poway
    With the thousands of reports perhaps over centuries we still don't know much.
    I have never seen a UFO. But I have talked to several witnesses and believe all of them.    I have spoken to an airline pilot and seen his pictures-a long squared off tube flying formation off the left wing.    I also interviewed USAF Col. Bob Friend, a former Director of Project Blue Book, back in the 1960s.    The position of Blue Book, when it shut down, was that whatever the phenomena there was no threat.
    With all the cellphone cameras in world there are zero pictures of a real extraterrestrial.    My theory; for what it's worth.    UFOs are inter dimensional travelers.     And they briefly pop in and out of our timeline.    Any better ideas?
    Ron Carrico, Mission Hills
    This story originally appeared in San Diego Union-Tribune.

5/28/2021 Scientists capture the highest EVER resolution images of atoms by Ian Randall For Mailonline, Daily Mail
© Provided by Daily Mail MailOnline logo
    Researchers have broken the record for the highest resolution image ever captured of individual atoms, creating a shot that is 'zoomed in' some 100 million times.
    These images are so fine-tuned, in fact, that the blurring remaining in the shot is the product solely of the thermal jiggling of the atoms themselves.
    The breakthrough by the Cornell University team built on their previous record, set in 2018, which used a new detector to triple the resolution of an electron microscope.
    This previous setup, however, was limited in that it could only image ultrathin samples — those of only a few atoms in thickness.
    However, the introduction of a new pixel array detector — which incorporates more advanced 3D reconstruction algorithms — enabled a factor of two improvement.
    This, the team explains, results in an image that has precision at the level of a picometer, or one-trillionth of a metre.
© Provided by Daily Mail (USING THESE IMAGES)
    According to the team, this latest 'electron ptychography' technique could find various applications.
    For example, it could allow researchers to locate in three dimensions those atoms in materials that are obscured in other imaging methods — or single out atomic impurities for close analysis.
    The latter application could be of particular use for imaging semiconductors, catalysts and quantum materials.
    Furthermore, the technique could also be employed to image thick biological cells or tissues — and even to scan synapse connections in the brain, the researchers added.
    'This doesn't just set a new record,' said paper author and engineer David Muller of New York's Cornell University.
    'It's reached a regime which is effectively going to be an ultimate limit for resolution.    We basically can now figure out where the atoms are in a very easy way.
    'This opens up a whole lot of new measurement possibilities of things we've wanted to do for a very long time.
    Gallery: 20 cool facts to know about Pluto (Espresso)
    'It also solves a long-standing problem — undoing the multiple scattering of the beam in the sample — that has blocked us from doing this in the past.'
    The imaging method used by the team involves a technique called ptychography, in which a beam — made up, in this case, of electrons — is repeatedly fired through an object of interest, albeit from a slightly different position each time.
    By comparing the different, overlapping patterns formed by the scattered beam, an algorithm is then able to reconstruct the target object with great precision.
    'We're chasing speckle patterns that look a lot like those laser-pointer patterns that cats are equally fascinated by,' Professor Muller explained.
    'By seeing how the pattern changes, we are able to compute the shape of the object that caused the pattern.
    'With these new algorithms, we're now able to correct for all the blurring of our microscope to the point that the largest blurring factor we have left is the fact that the atoms themselves are wobbling.
    He explained that this motion is 'what happens to atoms at finite temperature.'
    'When we talk about temperature, what we're actually measuring is the average speed of how much the atoms are jiggling.'
© Provided by Daily Mail
    'We want to apply this to everything we do,' added Professor Muller.
    'Until now, we've all been wearing really bad glasses. And now we actually have a really good pair.
    'Why wouldn't you want to take off the old glasses, put on the new ones, and use them all the time?'
    At present, the team conceded, the imaging method is both time-consuming and computationally-demanding — but advances in computer and detector hardware in the future have the potential to speed up the process.
    The full findings of the study were published in the journal Science.
    According to the researchers, it may be possible for them to top their record once again in the near future.
    This would involve using a target material made up of heavier atoms, which would jiggle less, thus allowing for a less blurry image.
    Alternatively, the same outcome could also be achieved by cooling down the current sample, reducing its atomic motion.
    However, they noted, such improvements would not be large.
    And even at zero temperature, atoms still have quantum fluctuations, meaning that there is an inherent limit to how much better images could be made.

5/28/2021 Earth temp could edge past pact limits in 5 years by Doyle Rice, USA TODAY
    The odds of the planet continuing to warm over the next several years have increased, top meteorologists said Thursday in a new report.    In fact, within the next five years, there’s now a 40% chance that Earth’s annual average temperature will temporarily edge above a limit set by the Paris climate agreement.
    The report was prepared by scientists from the World Meteorological Organization (WMO), an agency of the United Nations.
    “These are more than just statistics,” WMO Secretary-General Petteri Taalas said in a statement.    “Increasing temperatures mean more melting ice, higher sea levels, more heat waves and other extreme weather, and greater impacts on food security, health, the environment and sustainable development.”
    The landmark 2015 Paris climate agreement set a target of keeping warmingto a few tenths of a degree warmer than now.
    Thursday’s report said there is a 40% chance that at least one of the next five years will be 1.5 degrees Celsius (2.7 degrees Fahrenheit) higher than pre-industrial times – the more stringent of two Paris goals.
    The chance of temporarily reaching 1.5 degrees has roughly doubled compared with last year’s predictions, the WMO said.
    “This study shows – with a high level of scientific skill – that we are getting measurably and inexorably closer to the lower target of the Paris agreement on climate change,” Taalas said.
    The Paris agreement seeks to keep the rise in global temperature well below 2 degrees Celsius above pre-industrial levels and to pursue efforts to limit the temperature increase even further to 1.5 degrees Celsius.    National commitments to cut emissions, known as nationally determined contributions, fall far short of what is needed to achieve this target.
    The WMO forecast for the next several years also predicts a 90% chance that the world will set yet another record for the hottest year by the end of 2025 and that the Atlantic will continue to brew more potentially dangerous hurricanes than it used to.
Contributing: The Associated Press

5/28/2021 Galapagos tortoise was thought to be extinct by Asha C. Gilbert, USA TODAY
    The search is on for a mate for a giant tortoise thought to be extinct a century ago.
    Earlier this week, scientists at Yale University confirmed a giant female tortoise found in the Galapagos Islands was of a species last reported 112 years ago and thought to be “lost forever,” Galapagos Conservancy said in a news release.    The tortoise was discovered on Fernandina Island during a 2019 expedition of the Galapagos National Park Directorate and Galapagos Conservancy.    Scientists identified the tortoise as the Fernandina Giant Tortoise, or the species Chelonoidis phantasticus.
    “One of the greatest mysteries in Galapagos has been the Fernandina Island Giant Tortoise.    Rediscovering this lost species may have occurred just in the nick of time to save it,” said Dr. James Gibbs, vice president of science and conservation for the Galapagos Conservancy.
    Planning is underway for expeditions to find a male mate to save the species so the tortoise doesn’t meet the same fate as Lonesome George, a Pinta Island tortoise who died in 2012 without any offspring and was declared extinct.
    The Fernandina Giant Tortoise was believed to have become extinct because of volcanic eruptions in past centuries.
    The Galapagos Islands are home to many unique species of animals not found anywhere else in the world and were made famous by Charles Darwin, who visited in the 1830s.
Fern,” the female tortoise, was found on Fernandina Island in 2019. USATODAY

5/28/2021 Little Food And Water For Congolese Fleeing Volcano by Djaffar Al Katanty
A Congolese child, Jolie, 11, prepares to evacuate from recurrent earth tremors as aftershocks after homes were covered with lava deposited by the
eruption of Mount Nyiragongo near Goma, in the Democratic Republic of Congo May 25, 2021. Hugh Kinsella Cunningham/Save the Children/Handout via REUTERS
    SAKE, Democratic Republic of Congo (Reuters) -Families fleeing a volcano eruption in eastern Democratic Republic of Congo said on Friday they were struggling to find enough food and water as the United Nations called for aid and warned about the risk of cholera.
    At least 31 people died when Mount Nyiragongo sent a wall of lava spreading towards Goma on Saturday last week, destroying 3,000 homes along the way and cutting a major road used to bring aid to the strife-torn region.
    The lava stopped just short of the city limits, but thousands more people fled early on Thursday when the government warned that the volcano, one of the world’s most active, could erupt again.
    Many escaped to Sake, a town 13 miles (20 km) northwest of Goma that is prone to cholera outbreaks, UNICEF said.
    People slept wherever they could – on the side of the road and inside classrooms and a church. Kabuo Asifiwe Muliwavyo, 36, told Reuters she and her seven children had not eaten since arriving on Thursday.
    “They told us that there will be a second eruption and that there will be a big gas explosion,” she said as she cradled her crying one-year-old.    “But since we moved, there is nothing here … We are starving.”
    Around 400,000 people need support or protection, the U.N. children’s fund (UNICEF) said in a statement.
    “With an increased risk of a cholera outbreak, we are appealing for urgent international assistance to avert what could be a catastrophe for children,” UNICEF’s representative in Congo, Edouard Beigbeder, said.
    Danga Tungulo and his four children slept next to the road in Sake.    Some local residents brought them water, but they had not eaten since they left Goma the previous day, he said.
    “They told everyone that assistance would be organised, that money would be disbursed by the government,” said Hassan Kanga, a lawyer who fled after the eruption.    “And yet, you find us under the stars.”
    The evacuation order was issued around 1 a.m. local time on Thursday after radar images showed molten rock flowing under Goma.
    The movement of magma caused cracks in the ground and hundreds of earthquakes, which could allow it to burst through to the surface in a fresh eruption, the Goma Volcano Observatory (OVG) said.
    The frequency and intensity of the ground tremors had lessened in the last 24 hours, suggesting the risk of a fresh eruption was subsiding, Celestin Kasareka Mahinda of the OVG said on Friday.
    “I don’t think we will have a second eruption.    The problem is the risk of fractures, but the risk is small, around 20%,” he told Reuters.
    Some people who had fled to Sake crowded into trucks later on Friday to return to Goma. Dozens of people who had fled in the opposite direction to neighbouring Rwanda also crossed back into Congo, photos shared by the Rwandan government showed.
    Congolese authorities, meanwhile, reopened the main road which was split in two by lava, the U.N. Office for Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) said on Thursday.
    Goma is major humanitarian hub supplying aid to a region hit by decades of unrest.
(Reporting by Djaffar Al Katanty, Aaron Ross and Hereward Holland; Writing by Hereward Holland; Editing by Aaron Ross and Andrew Heavens)

5/28/2021 Bulldozers Threaten Conservation Of Ancient Mexican Metropolis by David Alire Garcia and Rodolfo Peñaroja
A construction site is seen near the pre-Hispanic ruins of Teotihuacan in Oztoyahualco, in the
State of Mexico, Mexico May 27, 2021. Picture taken with a drone. REUTERS/Carlos Jasso
    TEOTIHUACAN, Mexico (Reuters) -Just beyond the towering pyramids of what was once the largest city of the Americas, an illegal building project threatens to cause irreparable harm to the remains of temples and some two-dozen other ancient structures.
    The owner of the land, where construction is strictly prohibited, has ignored legal orders from Mexico’s antiquities institute INAH to stop building during the past two months, sparking outrage that authorities are failing to protect the ruins of Teotihuacan, one of Mexico’s top tourist draws.
    Reuters was unable to locate or question the owner, whose name has not been disclosed.
    Rogelio Rivero Chong, director of Teotihuacan’s archeological zone, said in an interview the police’s failure to intervene showed the property owner’s “total impunity.”br>     In late April, INAH filed a criminal complaint against the owner with federal prosecutors alleging “damage to archeological patrimony.”    This week the institute documented ongoing heavy construction by some 60 workers at the site, based on statements from Mexico’s culture ministry.
    The prosecutors’ office where the complaint was filed did not respond to Reuters’ questions about the status of that complaint.
    Teotihuacan, about 30 miles (50 km) northeast of Mexico City, once boasted a population of at least 100,000 people who mostly lived in stone multi-family apartment compounds, many of which were elaborately decorated with colorful murals.
    The multi-ethnic city was a contemporary of classic-era Maya urban centers, but known for its own distinctive art and architecture.    It grew rich from 100 B.C. to 550 A.D., thanks to extensive trade networks and a thriving craft-based economy that produced goods including ceramics, garments and especially razor-sharp obsidian blades.
    Rivero Chong said authorities have for years struggled to stop illegal building, often carried out at night or on the weekends. Local government investigators often arrive too late to verify damage, he said.
    A tall cinder block wall surrounds the illegal construction, located on two plots in an area known as Oztoyahualco that is believed to be one of the ancient city’s oldest districts.
    A past archeological survey indicates a ceremonial complex was there with at least three temples and some 25 separate structures.
    Teotihuacan was declared a world heritage site by the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) in 1987, a designation that requires ongoing government protection of the site, noted Rivero Chong.
    A number of leading scholars have also pleaded with the government to take action in recent days.
    “For me, this really hurts,” said Linda Manzanilla, a veteran Teotihuacan archeologist with Mexico’s National Autonomous University, referring to the latest unlawful construction.
    During one of her excavations at Teotihuacan in the 1980s, she unearthed a residential complex in Oztoyahualco where stucco workers once lived, next to a major obsidian workshop, not far from the three temples currently threatened.
    She said the latest illegal construction is in an area just west of the Moon Pyramid, where other nearby excavations have revealed elaborately decorated structures built around plazas in a densely developed part of the ancient>     “It’s very likely that there are very large complexes there,” she said.
(Reporting by David Alire Garcia and Rodolfo Peñaroja; Additional reporting by Lizbeth Diaz and Carlos Carrillo; Writing by David Alire Garcia; Editing by Richard Chang and Jane Merriman)

5/28/2021 Huge Swathes Of Farm Land Swamped In Eastern India After Cyclone by Subrata Nagchoudhury
FILE PHOTO: A man crosses a canal on a fallen tree following Cyclone Yaas in Digha, Purba Medinipur
district in the eastern state of West Bengal, India, May 27, 2021. REUTERS/Rupak De Chowdhuri
    KOLKATA, India (Reuters) – More than 96,000 hectares (237,221 acres) of agricultural land has been inundated in parts of an eastern Indian state hit by a powerful storm this week, officials said on Friday, a year after the coastal region was ravaged by a super cyclone.
    Cyclone Yaas swept in from the Bay of Bengal on Wednesday, triggering storm surges that broke through embankments in West Bengal state, particularly hitting hard the ecologically sensitive Sundarbans delta that stretches into neighbouring Bangladesh.
    Initial assessment by the West Bengal government showed that water had entered around 96,650 hectares of land that had standing crops, a state official said.
    “Fresh flooding were reported from many areas during high tides as the embankments have been left with gaping holes,” West Bengal’s fisheries minister, Akhil Giri, told Reuters.
    In the Sundarbans, still reeling from the damage wrecked by Cyclone Amphan last year, residents said wide swathes of farm land and fresh water ponds used for small-scale fisheries had been inundated.
    “The area is stinking with rotten fish and movement has become extremely difficult because of stagnant water,” said Kanai Haldar, a resident of Raidighi in the Sundarbans, where spurs and dykes meant to hold back flood waters have been damaged.
    With climate change pushing up sea surface temperatures, the cyclonic storms that barrel in from the Bay of Bengal have become fiercer and more frequent, particularly in the last decade, according to researchers.
    Haldar, speaking to Reuters by telephone, said the damage caused by Yaas appeared more significant compared with last year’s storm, because of the scale of sea water ingress, which often renders farm land temporarily unfit for cultivation.
    Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Friday surveyed areas hit by the cyclone in West Bengal and neighbouring Odisha state, which was directly in the path of the storm but suffered less damage.
    “All possible assistance will be provided for the damage caused by Cyclone Yaas,” Modi said.
(Writing by Devjyot Ghoshal; Editing by Steve Orlofsky)

5/28/2021 Are UFOs for real? Why everyone is talking about them much more seriously now by Sandhya Ramesh, The Print
    Bengaluru: In 2007, United States senator Harry Reid expressed his curiosity into multiple UFO reports coming from the armed forces.    The Pentagon subsequently investigated these, and set up the Unidentified Aerial Phenomena Task Force (UAPTF).
© Provided by The Print
    The task force is now due to release its report in June 2021, and this has prompted a flurry of media coverage and public discourse about UFOs.
    The discourse has been further accelerated since the publication of a comprehensive history of sightings, investigations, perceptions, and insider comments by The New Yorker, written by writer Gideon Lewis-Kraus.
    While the interest in the upcoming report has prompted comments from even high-ranking US government officials, experts have pointed out that unidentified flying objects (UFOs) don’t necessarily mean alien flying objects.
    Psaki says potential release of upcoming U.S. intelligence report on UFOs will be up to the Office of the Director of National Intelligence.
    "We take incursions into our airspace, both by identified and unidentified aircraft, very seriously," she says. — CBS News (@CBSNews) May 25, 2021
Why a task force?
    In The New Yorker report, titled ‘How the Pentagon started taking UFOs seriously’, Lewis-Kraus outlines the chronology behind UFO sightings by experts, how they were investigated, the concerns they prompted, and what drove public commentary in the direction that it did.
    It describes how the overwhelming number of UFO sightings during the Cold War was leading to the impression that the US was not in complete control of its airspace.    Additionally, there was also a fear that real incursions like Soviet spy planes over the US territory could be lost in the frenzied attribution of so many things to UFOs.
    So, to cut down on UFO reports, the CIA infiltrated and monitored citizen UFO groups, removed the special investigative status UFOs had, and put out messaging to delegitimise the discussions around them.
    Lewis-Kraus goes on to explain that a large majority of cases were subsequently explainable as stealth military technology or weather experiments or just astronomical phenomena, but there remained a number of sightings that couldn’t be explained.    These were especially concerning, as the sightings were made by military or aviation experts or sincere citizens than UFO buffs.
    Some researchers were able to narrow down several of those sightings further to Cold War anxiety and ambivalence about technology, but a number of genuinely inexplicable ones still remained — specifically those sighted by professional observers like commercial or air force pilots and a large number of eyewitnesses.
    These cases have made news as and when they occurred, including ones involving high profile lawsuits and court orders.    However, stories about UFOs fade away quickly from the media landscape.
    The emerging interest in UFOs is at least partially attributed to pop culture cycles, where there is a cyclical generational fascination with similar topics that ultimately come to nothing and fizzle out of public discourse.
    But the work of investigative journalists like Leslie Kean, as outlined in the report mentioned above, led to a steadily rising interest in unexplained aerial phenomena among mainstream news readers and the upper echelons of lawmakers in the US.    Her book, UFOs: Generals, Pilots, and Government Officials     Go on the Record, was praised by physicist Michio Kaku as the “gold standard for UFO research.”
Examples of unexplained cases
    Several prominent international instances of UFOs are available publicly.    The case that stoked Kean’s interest seemingly was a report in 1999 by retired French generals, scientists, and space experts offering explanations for several UFOs.    But some remained inconclusive, described by the report as “completely unknown flying machines with exceptional performances that are guided by a natural or artificial intelligence” and attributed to aliens.
    There are other instances too, such as ‘Britain’s Roswell’ in 1980, where many Air Force officers observed a UFO at close range and also recorded audio commentary during observation.    One witness claims to have got close enough to feel an electric charge from a silent triangular craft and notice designs on it.
    In 1976, outside Tehran, “a glowing diamond” flashed in different colours and jammed radio communication.    In 2006, a flying disc was spotted over Chicago’s O’Hare airport, then the busiest airport in the world, and was sighted by several onlookers.    A recorded conversation between an airline supervisor and an air traffic controller revealed that a pilot had stated they saw a flying disc.
    Many of these accounts are substantiated with data including detection by radar, audio recordings of conversations, satellite imagery, and photos.
    The obvious lack of evidence is in the form of good visual data and close-up pictures, especially since many reports claim to have moved very close to the objects they encountered or observed. According to a former Pentagon official quoted by The New Yorker, official classified data contains images that are of much better quality.
What experts think
    In a clip from the programme, ’60 Minutes’, one pilot is heard saying that he has seen UFOs on a daily basis for two years.
    Experts have pointed out that such accounts undermine the hypothesis that UFOs are not mundane, and thus are not perfectly explicable.    Such frequent sightings should have produced at least one clear piece of evidence, they say.
    Several experts continue to stress that most UFO sightings can still be explained by logic and earthly or space phenomena, with weather balloons equipped with radar reflectors being the primary one.
    In The Atlantic, writer Maria Koren argues that any evidence for alien life will come from the stars, not our atmosphere.    She explains that SETI, the organisation that actively searches for intelligent life outside of the Earth, does so under the assumption that aliens comply with the laws of physics.    But UFOs are UFOs precisely because they do not.
    Indeed, the logic then does follow that there must be an alternate, physics-compliant explanation for such UFOs.
    An inexplicable or unidentifiable phenomenon does not necessarily mean an alien or extra-terrestrial phenomenon.    Astronaut Chris Hadfield said he has seen several things in space that he could not explain too, but does not attribute them to extra-terrestrial intelligence.
    However, these phenomena require understanding and thus investigation, and most people believe the June report will likely move in that direction.    As the former Pentagon official told Lewis-Kraus: “At some point, we needed to just admit that there are things in the sky we can’t identify.”

5/28/2021 Why we must take UFO sightings by US Navy more seriously by Tyler Cowen, The Print
    Humanity has a long history of being caught unaware by outside arrivals; we should pay more attention to that bias in ourselves, like we should have for Covid-19.
File image of UFO | Max Pixel
    The official release of some previously leaked UFO videos taken by U.S. navy pilots has sparked renewed interest in the bigger questions.    For sure those flying objects are unidentified, but how much attention should we earthlings devote to this issue?    I am struck by the contrast between those who see this as an important question and those who think the whole thing will turn out to be an error or some kind of optical illusion.
    Among my friends and acquaintances, the best predictor of how seriously they take the matter is whether they read science fiction in their youth.    As you might expect, the science-fiction readers are willing to entertain the more outlandish possibilities.    Even if these are not “little green men,” the idea that the Chinese or Russians have a craft that can track and outmaneuver the U.S. military is newsworthy in and of itself.    So would be a secret U.S. craft, especially one unknown to military pilots.
    The cynical view is that the science-fiction readers are a bit crazy and are trying to recapture the excitement of their youth by speculating about UFOs.    Under this theory, they shouldn’t be taken any more seriously than Tolkien fans who wonder if orcs are hiding under the next stone.
    The more positive view is that science-fiction readers are more willing to consider new ideas and practices.    This kind of openness presumably is a good thing, at least in general, so why aren’t the opinions of more “open” observers accorded more respect?    Science-fiction readers have long experience thinking about worlds that are very different from the current one, and perhaps that makes them more perceptive when something truly unusual does come along.
    Some of the individuals who were early to see and point out Covid-19 risk, such as tech entrepreneur Balaji Srinivasan, also have taken the UFO reports seriously, perhaps due to the same flexibility of mind.
    Another correlation is that people used to thinking probabilistically are more likely to pay attention to UFO news.    The chance that the reports reflect “something interesting” might be only 1% or less, but the expected value of that information still is very high — so it is worthy of close attention.    If your attitude is, “This is almost certainly nonsense,” that’s still a case for further investigation, as long as the word “almost” remains.
    However, much people might pretend otherwise, they do typically judge views by the people who hold them.    I now receive lots of emails about ultraviolet light as a remedy for Covid-19.    I don’t have an opinion on the science per se, but I can’t say that I am persuaded by the logic or the writing of these emails.    The phrase “tinfoil hat” originally referred to the practice of wearing headgear to block mind-reading, but it has come to refer to a belief in paranoid conspiracy theories more generally.
    When it comes to UFOs, of course, the people who are the most interested have a cultish devotion to the topic — and they give the rest of us a bad name.    Maybe it’s time to stop being put off by that.
    My own interest in the nature of UFOs stems partially from a somewhat unlikely source.    I have spent a great deal of time in Nahuatl-speaking villages in Mexico doing fieldwork for a book.    Residents of those villages are direct descendants of the Aztec empire, which met its doom when a technologically superior conqueror showed up: Hernan Cortés and the Spaniards.    The notion that all of a sudden you are not in charge, and that the future will be permanently different from the past, is historically focal to them, as is the notion that there is more to the world than what is right before your eyes.
    Most Americans and Europeans are especially bad at internalizing these kinds of historical lessons.    But for much of the world, they represent the dominant experience.    Humanity has a long history of being caught unawares by outside arrivals, and so we should pay more attention to that bias in ourselves, just as we should have for the arrival of Covid-19.
    By the way, as a young teenager my favorite authors were Isaac Asimov and Arthur C. Clarke.    They are still worth reading. – Bloomberg

5/29/2021 New map shows how dark matter "bridges" tether galaxies by Nicole Karlis, Salon
© Provided by Salon Massive black holes in nebula Massive black holes in nebula Getty Images
    Dark matter is one of the universe's most enduring mysteries.    Its existence can be intuited by how it affects gravity, and yet no one knows exactly what it is, even though it makes up 27 percent of the universe's total mass and energy — far more than the 5 percent of the universe that "normal" matter, like planets and stars, comprises.
    Yet despite not knowing what kind of particles constitute dark matter, astronomers have been able to use telescopes to intuit where dark matter sits in the universe.    That's in large part because, true to its name, dark matter is hard to directly observe but has a huge gravitational effect and a lot of mass wherever it appears in bulk.
    Now, astronomers are using this data to create a detailed map of dark matter in the universe.
    First, astronomers from the University of Waterloo published a study four years ago in the Monthly Notices of the Royal Astronomical Society mapping out filaments of dark matter stretching between galaxies.    Then more recently, a team of international researchers published a new map that was published in the Astrophysical Journal.
    Generally, maps of dark matter contained galaxies that were very far away from our own local galactic supercluster, the neighborhood of galaxies that are gravitationally bound and which include the Milky Way.
    "Ironically, it's easier to study the distribution of dark matter much further away because it reflects the very distant past, which is much less complex," said Donghui Jeong, associate professor of astronomy and astrophysics at Penn State University, in a statement.
    Jeong was referring to the fact that observing a far-away galaxy means, by definition, observing something that happened a long time ago due to the slow speed of light.    "Over time, as the large-scale structure of the universe has grown, the complexity of the universe has increased, so it is inherently harder to make measurements about dark matter locally."
    Previous attempts to map out dark matter have been grueling.    Researchers in their latest effort relied on a large set of galaxy simulations, called Illustris-TNG, which included galaxies, gasses, and other visible matter in addition to dark matter.    Galaxies similar to the Milky Way were selected specifically in the simulations; specifically, data on 17,000 galaxies within 650 million light-years of the Milky Way.    The researchers relied on machine learning to put it all together and produce a noble outcome.
    Want more health and science stories in your inbox?    Subscribe to Salon's weekly newsletter The Vulgar Scientist.
    "When given certain information, the model can essentially fill in the gaps based on what it has looked at before," Jeong said.    "The map from our models doesn't perfectly fit the simulation data, but we can still reconstruct very detailed structures.    We found that including the motion of galaxies — their radial peculiar velocities — in addition to their distribution drastically enhanced the quality of the map and allowed us to see these details."
    Indeed, the quality of the map far surpasses the ones that were created in the past.    As Jeong said, the new simulation enhances smaller details, Specifically, the map highlights structures in the extragalactic region known as the "local sheet" and the "local group," which both include parts of our own Milky Way.    It also identifies new structures that astronomers will further investigate. Remarkably, the map also details the directional "flow" of dark matter, as denoted by arrows.
    "Having a local map of the cosmic web opens up a new chapter of cosmological study," Jeong said.    "We can study how the distribution of dark matter relates to other emission data, which will help us understand the nature of dark matter.    And we can study these filamentary structures directly, these hidden bridges between galaxies."
    Jeong emphasized that better understanding the role of dark matter in our universe is critical to our current existence and the future.
    "Because dark matter dominates the dynamics of the universe, it basically determines our fate," said Jeong.    "So we can ask a computer to evolve the map for billions of years to see what will happen in the local universe.    And we can evolve the model back in time to understand the history of our cosmic neighborhood."
    A preview of the map can be viewed below.

5/30/2021 NASA Mars rover sends back photos of shimmering, otherworldly clouds by Adam Rosenberg. Mashable
    Mars doesn't have too many cloudy days, so this new set of images from a NASA-operated rover is a full-on treat.
© Provided by Mashable NASA Mars rover sends back photos of shimmering, otherworldly clouds
    The Curiosity rover has been gathering data on the Red Planet since it touched down in Aug. 2016.    And now, while many space watchers' eyes are turned toward the Perseverance rover and Ingenuity helicopter that both arrived in February, Curiosity is here to remind us that it's still putting in plenty of work, too.
    So.    Back to clouds.    They're not as common on Mars as they are on Earth because the Mars atmosphere is thin and dry, and the clouds that we all see here on Earth are basically just floating water vapor.    They do happen on Mars, but it's usually near the planet's equator and only during the winter when Mars' orbit takes it as far from the sun as it ever gets.
    But about two years ago, NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory writes, researchers took note of the sparse cloud cover popping up earlier than expected.    So now, in 2021, the U.S. space agency was ready to document those early clouds when they formed in the Martian skies back in January.
    The thin and wispy trails of vapor strike quite an image against the dreary backdrop of grey skies — it's not overcast, this is just what a Mars sunset looks like — and nondescript terrain that is uniformly rusty in color.
    The cloud cover's faint glow is a product of the sun's rays hitting them.    Mars is about 60 million miles more distant from the sun than Earth, so our solar system's central star doesn't reach the planet with the same intensity.    But it's still shining bright enough to suffuse these clouds with an otherworldly glow.
    As NASA's post notes, the research unfolding here is about more than just sending pretty pictures back to Earth.    Observing these clouds is helping scientists better understand why they're even forming so early in the first place.
    "In fact, Curiosity’s team has already made one new discovery: The early-arrival clouds are actually at higher altitudes than is typical," the post reads.    "Most Martian clouds hover no more than about 37 miles (60 kilometers) in the sky and are composed of water ice.    But the clouds Curiosity has imaged are at a higher altitude, where it’s very cold, indicating that they are likely made of frozen carbon dioxide, or dry ice."
    A few weeks later, in March, the Curiosity again captured some sweet views of the Martian skies.    The stitched-together photo below captures so-called "mother of pearl" clouds, whose iridescent colors are a product of the way these clouds form.
    "If you see a cloud with a shimmery pastel set of colors in it, that’s because the cloud particles are all nearly identical in size," Mark Lemmon, an atmospheric scientist with the Space Science Institute in Colorado, said in NASA's post.    "That’s usually happening just after the clouds have formed and have all grown at the same rate."
    The colors wouldn't be as clear to the eye if we were sitting there next to Curiosity, so this kind of view is a rare treat.

5/30/2021 Ash Billows as Italy’s Mount Etna Erupts Credit: Salvatore Palermo via Storyful
    A plume of ash rose from Italy’s Mount Etna during an eruption in the early hours of May 30.    It followed several days of activity at the volcano.    This footage was shot by Salvatore Palermo, a photographer based in Aci Sant’Antonio, Sicily.

5/31/2021 The best dark matter map to date raises questions about the universe by Jon Fingas
    Scientists in the Dark Energy Survey have just released the best dark matter map yet, but it's not answering every question — if anything, the cosmos may be more mysterious than ever.    As BBC News, Nature and Fermilab report, the survey of 5,000 square degrees used weak gravitational lensing (in this case, how gravity from nearby galaxies affects views of distant ones) to look for large patches of dark matter in relatively close sections of the universe.
    The data also helped studies into dark energy, the as yet unexplained force that seems to be accelerating the universe's expansion.    The team produced a 3D map thanks to redshifting, or the tendency of objects to appear increasingly red with distance.
    Team members conducted observations using the 570-megapixel camera of the Victor M. Blanco telescope, at Chile's Cerro Tololo observatory, between 2013 and 2019.
    While the high detail is helpful, it also validated concerns that have been floating for years.    The DES results indicate that the universe is slightly smoother and more uniform than expected. While that largely supports current theories that dark energy is a constant, the discrepancy is enough that researchers might have to rethink existing ideas.    The universe may not behave quite like scientists thought, and the dark matter map could lead to new models that challenge previous assumptions.
© N. Jeffrey et. al/Dark Energy Survey Collaboration Dark Energy Survey's 3D map of dark matter in the universe

6/1/2021 An asteroid as tall as a skyscraper to pass Earth Tuesday by Brandon Sapienza,
    An asteroid as tall as the Seattle Space Needle is expected to pass by Earth Tuesday from a distance of 4.5 million miles.
    The 600-foot tall asteroid nicknamed KT1 was classified by NASA as a “potentially hazardous object” due to its size and proximity by which it will fly past Earth.    It will be making the journey near the Blue Planet at speeds of nearly 40,000 mph, according to the Jet Propulsion Laboratory tracking the asteroid.
© Provided by New York Daily News The 600 foot tall asteroid nicknamed KT1 was classified by NASA as a
“potentially hazardous object” due to its size and proximity by which it will fly past Earth.
    The 600 foot tall asteroid nicknamed KT1 was classified by NASA as a “potentially hazardous object” due to its size and proximity by which it will fly past Earth.
    An additional four asteroids that range in size from a house or airplane will also fly by Earth from Monday to Wednesday.    Thankfully, none of those pose a threat to Earth.
    Researchers at NASA continue to study potential options that would prevent an asteroid from colliding with Earth if one poses a threat.    A spacecraft harnessing the power of gravitational attraction is currently in the works.

6/1/2021 “Australia’s Greta Thunberg” Steps Up Climate Change Activism by Jill Gralow and Cordelia Hsu
Izzy Raj-Seppings, a 14-year-old student and climate activist, participates in a "School Strike 4 Climate"
rally to demand action on climate change, in Sydney, Australia, May 21, 2021. REUTERS/Loren Elliott
    SYDNEY (Reuters) – Leading thousands of protest marchers through central Sydney and joining a landmark class action lawsuit aren’t the usual activities for most 14-year-olds.
    But Australian student Izzy Raj-Seppings has abandoned more frivolous extracurricular activities in favour of stepping up pressure on the country’s leadership to battle climate change.
    Raj-Seppings has become one of the country’s most prominent environmental activists since her tear-stained face made global headlines in late 2019 when she stared down riot police threatening to arrest her outside the prime minister’s home.
    “I think a lot of people look at us and just say, ‘oh, they’re kids, they don’t know what they’re talking about,” she told Reuters in an interview on April 6.
    “But I think they are underestimating us and they don’t realise how powerful we are and how much work we’re putting in.    We’re listening to scientists who have been trying to get people’s attentions for generations and people haven’t been listening to them about climate change.”
    Australia is the highest per capita carbon emitter among the world’s richest nations and, according to Raj-Seppings, Prime Minister Scott Morrison’s inaction on climate change shows the need for a change in leadership.
    Her brush with police in 2019 came when the then 13-year-old joined angry protestors outside Morrison’s official residence in Sydney in the wake of devastating bushfires – her first protest.    The incident saw Raj-Seppings dubbed “Australia’s Greta Thunberg” by local media.
    She stepped further into the spotlight this month, leading thousands of fellow students in “School Strike 4 Climate” protest march through central Sydney.
    She was also one of eight teenagers who brought a class action lawsuit against the federal government, arguing that the expansion of a coal mine in New South Wales state would contribute to climate change and endanger their future.
    The case resulted in a landmark ruling last week that the country’s environment minister has so-called duty of care, or moral obligation to children to consider the harm caused by climate change.
    Raj-Seppings had her own message for Morrison, should she have the opportunity to meet him one day.
    “I’d definitely tell him that he does need to wake up, that the time is coming for action and we need it now,” she said in the April 6 interview.
(Reporting by Jill Gralow and Cordelia Hsu, writing by Melanie Burton; editing by Jane Wardell)

6/1/2021 Calif. Faces Worse Drought Since 1977 by OAN Newsroom
NICASIO, CALIFORNIA – MAY 28: Dry cracked earth is visible as water levels are low at Nicasio Reservoir on May 28, 2021 in Nicasio, California. According
to the U.S. Drought Monitor, 16% of California is in exceptional drought, the most severe level of dryness. (Photo by Justin Sullivan/Getty Images)
    California has been experiencing the worst drought in over 40 years.    This is taking place only a few years after a five year long dry spell left farmlands barren and fueled some of the most destructive wildfires in state history.
    Complicating matters even more, the federal government announced last week that it would cut water deliveries in half to cities in the state while also reducing water allocation to farms down to zero.    The Bureau of Reclamation Regional Director Ernest Conant went on to explain this announcement.
    “This year is the worst drought, the worst year since 1977,” he stated.    “Our water supplies are very deficient this year, and we simply don’t have enough water to be able to supply our water service contractors with the water supply.”
    Farmers have been searching for ways to stay afloat.    A trend in recent years has been to uproot water consuming trees and replace them with row crops.    Although as the state continues to restrict water access, some farmers are forced to simply abandon the land they can no longer irrigate.    Farmer Joe del Bosque is leaving a third of his 2,000 acre farm unseeded this year.    Unsure if the water will arrive on time, even what he does plant has been a gamble.
    “We’ve never been through this situation before for whatever little water we’ve gotten in the past,” the farmer explained.    “This year, we can’t plan because we don’t know when we’ll get water that we are trying to get for these crops.”
    Del Bosque went on saying his operation could lose more than half of a million dollars in income as well as put many of his 700 employees out of work.
    “It’s an economic disaster.    We don’t plant crops, we don’t have jobs, we don’t produce food,” he expressed.    “As we saw during the pandemic, you know, this industry is essential for everyone.    We work to feed everybody.”
    With winter rainfalls at historic lows, the state’s major reservoirs are about 70 percent of their normal levels.    Farmers say the drought has been exacerbated by California’s lack of investment in water storage infrastructure over the last 40 years.
    Conant went on by explaining, “we need to build additional storage long term.”    He noted the state of California is pursuing several projects to develop additional storage.

6/3/2021 Worries over UFOs are floating upward - Interest is surging as explanations are lacking by Joel Shannon, USA TODAY
    When Daniel Drezner wrote about UFOs in 2019, he worried the column could tank his credibility, both as a professor of international politics and as a>     He said the evidence had been mounting for a while.    Among the most striking: a video showing a Navy fighter jet locking onto a mysterious target streaking across the sky as a pilot incredulously asked, “What is that, man?
    The video is authentic, the Navy said without offering an explanation.
    That video helped prompt Drezner to join an increasingly mainstream group of academics, journalists, intelligence officials and politicians who say acknowledging UFOs exist doesn’t mean embracing conspiracy theories or even believing in extraterrestrial life.
    Though UFOs often are synonymous with aliens in pop culture, those who study the phenomenon say UFOs should be understood by their literal name: unidentified flying objects. Once identified, they may have a mundane explanation – weather balloons, drones or the planet Venus.
    For now, some sightings don’t have widely accepted explanations, including examples documented on camera, by multiple witnesses and with radar.    Those most concerned about the phenomenon say some sightings suggest advanced craft performing maneuvers that should not be physically possible.
    The view has been further bolstered by comments from high-level figures, including former President Barack Obama, who acknowledged that “there is footage and records of objects in the skies that we don’t know exactly what they are. We can’t explain how they move, their trajectory.”
    That’s led Drezner to conclude: “What I do know is that UFOs exist … we can’t ignore this anymore,” he said.
    An unclassified Pentagon report on UFOs is soon headed to Congress.
    “There’s no question anymore that UFOs are real,” author and independent journalist Leslie Kean told USA TODAY.    Kean has co-written several New York Times articles on UFOs.    Those reports, which included footage confirmed by the Navy, helped inspire a recent surge in the public’s UFO interest.
    After studying the phenomenon for more than two decades, Kean said she’s open to connecting UFOs with extraterrestrial life, but she’s quick to distance herself from conspiracy theorists.    The people who have researched UFOs the most tend to be “agnostic about what they are,” she said.
    She described the connection between UFOs and extraterrestrial life as an easy one for people to make, aided by decades of films and books on the subject.    She hopes the growing interest in the topic will prompt study from scientists who may offer other explanations.
    History, and Wikipedia, are replete with UFO sightings, dating back to 1440 B.C. when “fiery disks” were allegedly seen over the skies of Egypt, though some have come to doubt the papyrus the sighting was written on.
    Fast-forward 3,000 years, and hundreds, if not thousands, of sightings have been chronicled.    Most end up on the scrap heap of galactic research, explanations from fireflies on windshields to crop dusters in the high sun to the Aurora Borealis on a clear night.
    But some sightings endure to challenge imagination and explanation, such as the “Gorman Dogfight” of 1948, when an Air Force captain said with certainty he sighted and aggressively pursued a UFO in the skies over Fargo, North Dakota, before the mysterious craft went into a steep vertical climb that outmaneuvered his P-51 Mustang aircraft.    A year later, the Air Force concluded the pilot had been chasing a lighted weather balloon.
    In recent years, “the issue itself has acquired a level of credibility,” Kean said. Politicians from both parties have expressed national security concerns.    The videos published by the Times provided new evidence.    Pilots began talking on the record about their experiences.
    Skeptics say evidence and experience suggest the concern about UFOs is overblown.    “There’s all sorts of things we don’t understand,” Seth Shostak, a senior astronomer at the SETI Institute, told USA TODAY.
    He noted, for example, that some rules of physics have been called into question by new research without a public outcry.    It’s not alarming to acknowledge humans encounter things they don’t understand, he said.
    Shostak said a number of UFO sightings don’t yet have adequate explanations, but whatever the explanation is, it’s probably less interesting than an alien invasion.
    Shostak said it’s most likely found among the stars, not floating in our skies.
    UFO sightings have been happening for decades and don’t appear to endanger the public or cause harm, he said: “They are irrelevant … they don’t change the daily news at all.”
Contributing: Dustin Barnes and Mike James, USA TODAY; The Associated Press
A Congress-sanctioned UFO report details unexplained “sightings all over the world.” PROVIDED BY U.S. NAVY

6/4/2021 Baby squid, water bears head into space - Researchers study effects of flight on microbes by Doyle Rice, USA TODAY
    They are going for the ride of their lives.
    On Thursday, NASA launched more than 100 baby squid and about 5,000 microscopic animals on a mission to the International Space Station.
    The creatures will head to the station aboard Space X’s Falcon 9 rocket, which launched at 1:29 pm ET.
    The 128 baby bobtail squid will be used as part of research into the effects of spaceflight on the interactions between microbes and animals, the BBC said.
    Microbes play a significant role in the normal development of animal tissues and in maintaining human health, NASA said.    “Animals, including humans, rely on our microbes to maintain a healthy digestive and immune system,” said the experiment’s principal investigator, Jamie Foster of the University of Florida.
    “We do not fully understand how spaceflight alters these beneficial interactions,” Foster said.    “The experiment uses a glow-in-the-dark bobtail squid to address these important issues in animal health.”
    The 5,000 microscopic animals are tardigrades, also known as water bears, and are known for their tolerance for living in extreme environments.    Tardigrades are the toughest, most resilient life form on Earth, able to survive for up to 30 years without food or water.
    That makes them an ideal organism for studying biological survival under extreme conditions on Earth and in space, according to NASA.
    The results could advance understanding of the stress factors affecting humans in space, NASA said.    “Spaceflight can be a really challenging environment for organisms, including humans, who have evolved to the conditions on Earth,” said the tardigrade principal investigator, Thomas Boothby of the University of Wyoming.
    “One of the things we are really keen to do is understand how tardigrades are surviving and reproducing in these environments and whether we can learn anything about the tricks that they are using and adapt them to safeguard astronauts,” he said.    Other experiments to be conducted on the ISS include a look into whether robotic arms can be operated remotely using virtual reality along with a study into the production of tougher cotton, the BBC said.
These baby bobtail squid are part of an experiment into whether space alters their
relationship with a bacterium. JAMIE S. FOSTER/UNIVERSITY OF FLORIDA

6/4/2021 Shock Discovery Suggests Humans Were in The Americas 20,000 Years Earlier Than Thought by Mike McRae, ScienceAlert
    Coxcatlan Cave in Mexico's Tehuacan Valley is a time capsule like no other.    Its dusty floor is a history book, its pages detailing thousands of years of food and technology of the land's inhabitants.
© Andrew Somerville Rabbit femur from Coxcatlan Cave
    Archaeologists from the US and Mexico have finally dug into its earliest chapter, using advanced dating techniques to determine the age of animal bones buried among the rock shelter's oldest layers.
    The results were astonishing, hinting at a human presence in the area as far back as 33,000 years ago – thousands of years before ice sheets stretched to their peak, and around 20,000 years earlier than currently accepted evidence suggests.
    It'll take more than a few odd radiocarbon measurements to demand a complete rethink, of course.    But the results of this recent study led by     Iowa State University archaeologist Andrew Somerville are bound to fuel the ongoing debate over the timeline of human migration into the heart of the Americas.
    "We were surprised to find these really old dates at the bottom of the cave, and it means that we need to take a closer look at the artifacts recovered from those levels," said Somerville.
    Southern Mexico's Tehuacan-Cuicatlan Valley is a UNESCO World Heritage Site for good reason.    Not only is it a biodiversity hotspot, its dry climate has preserved records of human presence for thousands of years, making it a prized destination for researchers interested in the spread of our species across the New World.
    The rock shelter of Coxcatlan Cave in the valley's south is a jewel in this archaeological treasure trove, with deep layers of sediment and dry conditions providing a chronology of activity reaching back at least 11,000 years.
    Starting in the mid-1990s, academics began to have questions over how the cave's 'history book' should be read, with concerns over the dating of some botanical specimens pointing to its pages being out of order.
    It wasn't just one or two layers either.    Around three quarters of the plant materials excavated from the shelter were found dramatically out of sequence.
    Though research has since come to the defense of the overall structure of the cave's timeline, understandably confidence in its reliability has remained somewhat shaken.
    With the site's lowest layers yet to be fully assessed, Somerville and his team saw work needed to be done to clarify the chronology of Coxcatlan Cave.
    "We weren't trying to weigh in on this debate or even find really old samples," said Somerville.
    "We were just trying to situate our agricultural study with a firmer timeline."
    Carrying out accelerator mass spectrometry radiocarbon dating on 14 hare, rabbit, and deer bones previously excavated from the site, the researchers came up with a catalogue of dates describing when the animals had lived.
    The latest was roughly 5,000 years ago, well within a period humans were known to be in the area.
    Several rabbit bones and the femur of a hare were found to date back roughly 33,000 years, a time that not only preceded all current records for the continent, but would soon be cut off from the rest of the world by climate change.
    "Pushing the arrival of humans in North America back to over 30,000 years ago would mean that humans were already in North America prior to the period of the Last Glacial Maximum, when the Ice Age was at its absolute worst," said Somerville.
    "Large parts of North America would have been inhospitable to human populations.    The glaciers would have completely blocked any passage over land coming from Alaska and Canada, which means people probably would have had to come to the Americas by boats down the Pacific coast."
    It's not the first finding to test existing models of pre-Ice Age migration onto the American continent, with a 2020 study finding 130,000-year-old traces of mastodon bone scraped onto rocks from California hinting at human handiwork.
    Much like the mastodon mash, these rabbit and hare bones leave plenty of room for argument.    For instance, there is still the big question of whether humans were even responsible for depositing the remains in the cave in the first place.
    Looking for signs of butchering and roasting would go a long way to building a case, as would finding clear signs of tool manufacture in the same layers.
    It's a research project Somerville plans to undertake in the future.    Such findings could help resolve the question of the bones' origins, providing an increment of evidence describing an arduous journey into southern Mexico tens of thousands of years ago.
    It's the prologue to America's story we're all dying to read.
    This research was published in Latin American Antiquity.

6/4/2021 More Cyclones Than Usual Forecast For East Asia By September by Kanupriya Kapoor
FILE PHOTO: Residents on a rescue boat are evacuated from their flooded houses following
Typhoon Vamco, in Rizal Province, Philippines, November 12, 2020. REUTERS/Lisa Marie David/File Photo
    SINGAPORE (Reuters) – Half of the roughly 20 tropical cyclones expected to form in the western Pacific Ocean through September this year are predicted to hit land in east Asian nations, forecasters said on Friday, making for a season that is busier than usual.
    Tropical cyclones, also known as typhoons and hurricanes, can pack wind speeds ranging from 63 kph (39 mph) to 250 kph (155 mph), and the accompanying rain and storm surges can devastate coastal regions.
    Such storms have wrought havoc running into damages of more than $175 billion across Asia in the past decade, international disaster database EM-DAT shows.
    Five storms each are forecast to hit land in the regions of Eastern China and Taiwan, southern China and Vietnam, and the Philippines, said weather forecasters at the City University of Hong Kong, while Japan and Korea may only experience two.
    That total exceeds the region’s 30-year average of 13.5 cyclones in the months from April to September, according to the forecast.
    “The number of tropical cyclones predicted to form between April 1 and September 3 is near- to above-normal,” the university’s Guy Carpenter Asia-Pacific Climate Impact Center added in its forecast.
    Global warming is increasingly making storms more ferocious, atmospheric scientists warn, even if their total number is expected to remain the same or decrease in future.
    Rising air and sea surface temperatures help fuel stronger storms, with the potential for faster wind speeds and heavier rain.
    With a temperature higher than the global average, the western Pacific Ocean experiences more storms than any other part of the world.
    In mid-April, Surigae, the year’s first supertyphoon, glanced off the Philippines, forcing the evacuation of more than 100,000 people.
    But the majority of storms develop after July.
    Last month the United States’ National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration forecast an above-normal 2021 Atlantic hurricane season, which officially began on June 1.
    From a total of 13 to 20 tropical storms in 2021, it forecast between three and five major hurricanes would pack winds with sustained speeds of at least 111 mph (178 kph), while six to 10 would have wind speeds of at least 74 mph (119 kph).
(Editing by Clarence Fernandez)

6/6/2021 Scientists Say They’ve Finally Sequenced the Entire Human Genome. Yes, All of It by Caroline Delbert
© Design Cells - Getty Images Scientists say they have finally sequenced the full human genome.
This includes a big portion of the missing 8 percent from the first “draft” of the genome.
  • Scientists say they have finally sequenced the full human genome.
  • This includes a big portion of the missing 8% from the first “draft” of the genome.
  • Two competing startup technologies helped power the newly sequenced portions.
    Twenty-one years ago, researchers announced the first “draft” of sequencing the complete human genome.    It was a monumental achievement, but the sequence was still missing about 8% of the genome.    Now, scientists working together around the world say they’ve finally filled in that reclusive 8%.
    If their work holds up to peer review and it turns out they really did sequence and assemble the human genome in its entirety, gaps and all, it could change the future of medicine.
    What’s in a genome?
© alanphillips - Getty Images gettyimages-157649758
    Sequencing the human genome has long been a huge project with worthy goals.    Why?    Because as humans understand their genetic code better, they can make better, more customized medicines, for example—including the kind of gene-focused medicine that powered the first effective COVID-19 vaccines.
    Humans have 46 chromosomes, in 23 pairs, that represent tens of thousands of individual genes.    Each gene consists of some number of base pairs made of adenine (A), thymine (T), guanine (G), and cytosine (C).    There are billions of base pairs in the human genome.
    In June 2000, the Human Genome Project (HGP) and private company Celera Genomics announced that first “draft” of the human genome.    This was the result of years of work that picked up the pace as humans continued to make better computers and algorithms for processing the genome.    At the time, scientists were surprised that of the over 3 billion individual “letters” of base pairs, they estimated humans have just 30,000 to 35,000 genes.    Today, that number is far lower, hovering just above 20,000.
    Three years later, HGP completed its mission to map the whole human genome and defined its terms this way:
    “‘Finished sequence’ is a technical term meaning that the sequence is highly accurate (with fewer than one error per 10,000 letters) and highly contiguous (with the only remaining gaps corresponding to regions whose sequence cannot be reliably resolved with current technology).”
    “Current technology” is doing a lot of heavy lifting here.    At the time, HGP used a process called bacterial artificial chromosome (BAC), where scientists used a bacterium to clone each piece of the genome, and then study them in smaller groups.    A complete “BAC library” is 20,000 carefully prepared bacteria with cloned genes inside.
    But that BAC process inherently misses some portions of the whole genome.    The reason why is a great lead-in to what the new team of scientists has helped to accomplish.
A sequencing breakthrough
© Malte Mueller - Getty Images gettyimages-1252382129
    What’s lurking in the secretive 8% of the genome that the 2000 “draft” of the genome left untouched?    The base pairs in this section are made of many, many repeated patterns that just made it too unwieldy to study using the bacteria cloning method.
    BAC and other approaches just weren’t right for the repeats-heavy remaining 8% of the genome.    “The current workhorse DNA sequencers, made by Illumina, take little fragments of DNA, decode them, and reassemble the resulting puzzle,” Stat’s Matthew Herper reports.    “This works fine for most of the genome, but not in areas where DNA code is the result of long repeating patterns.”
    That makes intuitive sense; imagine counting from 1 to 50 versus simply counting 1, 2, 1, 2,... over and over again.    Part of what made the BAC method successful is scientists took care to minimize and match up the overlaps, which became almost impossible in the repeats-heavy unexplored portion of the genome.
    So, what’s different in the new approaches?    Let’s first look at what they are.    The California-based Pacific Biosciences (PacBio) the U.K.-based Oxford Nanopore have different technologies, but are racing toward the same goal.
© PacBio PacBio’s proprietary gene sequencing technology
    PacBio uses a system called HiFi, where base pairs are circulated, literally as circles, until they’re read in full and in high fidelity—hence the name.    The system dates back just a few years and represents a big step forward in both length and accuracy for those longer sequences.
    Oxford Nanopore, meanwhile, uses electrical current in its proprietary devices.    Strands of base pairs are pressed through a microscopic nanopore—just one molecule at a time—where a current zaps them in order to observe what kind of molecule they are.    By zapping each molecule, scientists can identify the full strand.
    In the new study published in the biology preprint server bioRxiv, an international consortium of about 100 scientists used both PacBio and Oxford Nanopore technologies to chase down some of the remaining unknown sections of the human genome.     The amount of ground the consortium covered is staggering.    “The consortium said that it increased the number of DNA bases from 2.92 billion to 3.05 billion, a 4.5 [%] increase.    But the count of genes increased by just 0.4 [%], to 19,969,” Stat reports.    This shows how big the heavily repeating base pair sequences in this zone are compared to the genes they represent.
The missing links
    Sequencing godfather George Church, a biologist at Harvard University, told Stat if this work goes through peer review successfully, it will be the first time any vertebrate genome has been fully mapped.    And the reason seems to be simply that both new technologies allow very long strings of base pairs to be read at once.
    Why is the missing gene information so important?    Well, the study of genes experiences a lot of favoritism, with a handful of most popular genes taking up the bulk of research interest and funding.    The overlooked genes hold a lot of key mechanisms that cause disease, for example.
    There’s one little snag, although it was also a snag for the 2000 announcement of the first draft of the genome.    Both projects studied cells that had just 23 chromosomes instead of the full 46.    That’s because they use cells derived from the reproductive system, where eggs and sperm each carry half of a full chromosomal load.
    The cell is from a hydatidiform mole, a kind of reproductive growth that represents an extremely early, unviable union between a sperm and an egg cell that has no nucleus.    Choosing this kind of cell, which has been kept and cultured as a “cell line” used for research purposes, cuts the huge sequencing job in half.
    The next step is for the study to appear in a peer-reviewed publication.    After that, though, both PacBio and Oxford seek to sequence the entire 46-chromosome human genome.    But we might be waiting a while.

6/6/2021 It's Not B.S.: There Are Actual, Science-Backed Benefits to Drinking Lemon Water by Marisa Cohen
    While not all of the hyped-up benefits of drinking lemon water have actual science behind them, lemons and their juice can balance and heal you in a number of ways, says Laura Neville, N.D., a naturopathic physician based in Portland, OR.    Here are 5 potential benefits of drinking a bracing cup of lemon water, plus a few other ways to get the tart goodness from that bright-yellow burst of vitamin C.
© dima_sidelnikov - Getty Images While not all of the hyped-up benefits of drinking lemon water have actual science behind them,
lemons and their juice can balance and heal you in a number of ways, says Laura Neville, N.D., a naturopathic physician.
1. It stabilizes your appetite.
    Lemon water can prevent spikes in hunger thanks to its blood-sugar-balancing pectin (a type of soluble fiber) and hydrating mojo, says Neville.    If you’re still snacky after a meal, mix 1 cup of warm water with the juice of 1/2 lemon and a pinch of lemon zest (feel free to add a drizzle of honey).
2. It revs up your energy.
    Two types of vitamins give lemons pick-me-up power.    Their vitamin C increases absorption of iron—helpful, since having too little can cause fatigue.    B vitamins in lemons also assist with energy production, says Neville.    Blend one sliced lemon (including the peel; add a little water if needed), then freeze in an ice cube tray.    Toss into water for a quick refresher or into a smoothie filled with iron-rich kale.
3. It protects your cells.
    Lemon boasts more vitamin C than OJ, and all that C power is a potent antioxidant, counteracting cell damage that accumulates over time and may even be a factor in problems like cancer and heart disease.    Vitamin C also plays a role in synthesizing collagen, which helps cuts and scrapes heal faster.    If you’re tired of drinking lemon water, cook it into a tasty side dish by stirring lemon juice, olive oil, and sliced scallions into cooked quinoa.
4. It controls bloating.
    Lemon water may aid digestion and cut down on bloat.    The citric acid in lemons can supplement your natural stomach acids to help you break down food.    Lemon water is also a decent source of potassium, a mineral that helps keep sodium levels in check, potentially reducing any salt-induced bloating.
5. It kicks kidney stones to the curb.
    Drink the juice of 2 lemons diluted in water every day, and you can reduce your risk of kidney stones.    Citrine, a salt in citric acid, binds to calcium, helping block the formation of the dreaded stones.    In fact, chronic kidney stones are often treated with potassium citrate, but studies have shown that lemon can do the job just as well.
[The reason I put this article here is that I myself have had at least 6 to 7 kidney stones about every 10 years I thought was from being a competive tennis player and or a long distance runner.    During that time I passed at least 6 to 7 stones twice and one of them were as thick as a lead pencil, and I have had two lipoticys to blast them and in the year 2014 I started drinking lemonade every day and I have not had my group of stone since 2014 and to date and I first had 2 gall stones, then 4 and to date one new one big one and had surgery on 6/7/2021 and got it out of me.].

6/8/2021 Study: Hydroxychloroquine Can Boost COVID-19 Survival Chances By Nearly 200% by OAN Newsroom
A bottle and pills of Hydroxychloroquine sit on a counter at Rock Canyon Pharmacy
in Provo, Utah. (Photo by GEORGE FREY / AFP) (Photo by GEORGE FREY/AFP via Getty Images)
    Another study has confirmed hydroxychloroquine to be effective in the treatment of COVID-19. Conducted by the Saint Barnabas Medical Center, the research has found the combination of hydroxychloroquine and antibiotic Zithromax effectively suppresses COVID-19.
    The study has suggested this treatment can increase survival chances by nearly 200 percent if given at high doses in mechanically ventilated patients with severe COVID-19 illness.    Scientists also reported that higher doses of hydroxychloroquine led to a quicker recovery in 87-percent of observed patients.
    This comes after public health experts, including Dr. Anthony Fauci, have denied the effectiveness of hydroxychloroquine in treating COVID-19.    Biological weapons expert, Dr. Steven Hatfill, has pointed blame at these experts for the hundreds of thousands of American deaths that resulted from the pandemic.
    “It was false,” he asserted.    “They didn’t want competition for the vaccines.”
    The study also found hydroxychloroquine is particularly efficient in terminally ill patients who would otherwise have died without that drug.

6/9/2021 Dinosaur species among largest in the world is found in Australia by Asha C. Gilbert, USA TODAY
    Adding to the list of recent dinosaur discoveries, a new species of dinosaur – almost two times the size of the Hollywood sign – has been found, according to a new report.    In a report published in the journal PeerJ on Monday, scientists confirmed the finding of new dinosaurian fossils that came from a titanosaurian sauropod.
    The Australotitan cooperensis is the largest species of dinosaur to be found in Australia and similar in size to the giant titanosaurians from South America.    It is estimated to have weighed 70 tons and measured between 82 and 98 feet.
    The sauropod, nicknamed Cooper after Cooper Creek near the fossil discovery, is believed to have lived during the Cretaceous period between 92 million to 96 million years ago.
    Sauropods were plant eaters and include the largest animals to have ever lived on land.
    The fossils were discovered over a decade ago in southwest Queensland by two property owners who later opened the Eromanga Natural History Museum after discovering a number of titanosaur fossil sites.
    “Discoveries like this are just the tip of the iceberg,” Queensland Museum curator and paleontologist Scott Hocknulltold Reuters.    Because of the location of the fossils and their large size, scientists ran into difficulties studying them.    That’s when the Eromanga Natural History Museum and the Queensland Museum decided to use 3-D imaging to compare them to other fossils around the globe.
    Hocknull told The New York Times that in Australia, the flat terrainmakes it more difficult to find fossils.
    Cooper joins the oldest titanosaur discovered in Argentina and the ‘monkeydactyl’ with the oldest recorded opposing pollex in recent discoveries.
Trenton Duerksen cleans Titanosaur, a 122-foot-long replica in 2018 at the American Museum of Natural History
in New York. Scientists reportedly have found fossils from a titanosaurian sauropod. MARY ALTAFFER/AP

6/9/2021 TODAY'S TOPIC: UNIDENTIFIED AERIAL PHENOMENA - Our View: UFOs have done what COVID can’t – unite Congress
    Republicans and Democrats agree on almost nothing.    They can’t settle on how much is too much to spend on pandemic recovery, whether a commission is needed to investigate the U.S. Capitol riot of Jan. 6, or even what “infrastructure” means.    But there has been an uncanny, some might even say otherworldly, meeting of the minds on one curious issue: What the heck are those UFOs flying around?
    Lawmakers of all stripes are pushing hard for information from the military about those things in the sky the Pentagon officially calls “unidentified aerial phenomena.”    At the urging of Congress, a Defense Department report detailing whatever has been learned is scheduled for release any day now.    (Spoiler alert: There’s no evidence they’re aliens, but there’s also no evidence they’re not.)    There was a time when seriously contemplating UFOs was the political equivalent of getting caught on a Zoom session without pants.    Think Dennis Kucinich, who suffered a few slings and arrows for admitting in a presidential debate in 2007 that he saw a UFO flying over actress Shirley MacLaine’s house.
    But no more.
    The views of Democratic and Republican lawmakers alike, after hearing closed-door testimony about the phenomena, have gone beyond questions regarding whether they’re real to questions concerning what are they and what should be done about them.
    “There is stuff flying in our airspace,” Sen. Marco Rubio, R-Fla., told Fox News.    “We don’t know what it is.    We need to find out.”
    “If other nations have capabilities that we don’t know of, we want to find out,” Rep. Adam Schiff, D-Calif., told NBC.    “If there’s some explanation other than that, we want to learn that, too.”
    It was three high-ranking senators, two Democrats and a Republican, who secretly secured $22 million in 2007 for the military to study UFOs.    That began in 2008, and last August, the Pentagon announced creation of a task force that broadened the effort.    Then the Senate included a provision in a pandemic relief package request by President Donald Trump that required intelligence officials to produce the unclassified report due this month about what is known.    NASA has also gotten involved.
    The nation’s capital has a long, kitschy UFO history, starting in 1951 when alien Klaatu – in the movie “The Day the Earth Stood Still” – landed on the National Mall in a big flying saucer and stepped out to say, “We have come to visit you in peace.”
    The next year, there were reports of sightings over the city, accompanied by a screaming Washington Post headline, “‘Saucer’ Outran Jet, Pilot Says; Air Force Puts Lid on Inquiry.”
    But the lid’s off now. Military pilots have tracked and recorded these unidentified boogeys using sophisticated radar and infrared targeting cameras, and they’ve been allowed to tell their stories to Congress and even news outlets such as “60 Minutes.”    The military has set up a process for gathering the accounts from pilots and radar operators and encouraging the reporting of sightings to drain the stigma.
    That’s a far cry from what happened in 2004, when Navy pilots off the USS Nimitz reported seeing an object flying low over the Pacific Ocean, only to be hazed with a showing of the comedy “Men in Black” on the ship entertainment system that evening.
    Detractors continue to dismiss the gathering evidence with more mundane explanations such as camera anomalies, weather balloons, flares, planets, temperature inversions and the like.
    But if further research and study reveal anything about these lights in the night sky, the nation might draw some measure of comfort that – at least based on their initial bipartisan actions – American political leaders will set aside differences and respond with one voice.
    Who knows?    Maybe Klaatu will be invited to address a joint session of Congress.
A Congress-sanctioned UFO report will be released soon. U.S. NAVY

6/10/2021 Meteorites appear to come from a single, unknown source, study says by Chris Ciaccia For Dailymail.Com
© Provided by Daily Mail MailOnline logo
    Scientists have long thought that meteorites, pieces of asteroids that hit the Earth's ground, have emanated from different space rocks in the asteroid belt.
    A new study suggests they may have a common, unknown origin, however.
    The research looked at more than 500 million years worth of marine sedimentary rock containing meteorites, examining 15 different windows of time and found that all originate in the asteroid belt, but it's unclear where in the asteroid belt they're coming from.
    'We argue that meteorites and small asteroids delivered to Earth in deep time are not primarily linked to the sequence of asteroid family-forming events,' researchers Fredrik Terfelt and Birger Schmitz wrote in the study's abstract.
    'Another, as yet unknown, delivery process appears to be associated with a very restricted region in the asteroid belt.'
    What the researchers were able to glean from their researcher is that meteorites generally come from a very small area in the asteroid belt.
    Additionally, the process that shoots them out 'remarkably stable over the past 500 million years.'
    Tons of dust fall on Earth every year from space.
    In an interview with Inverse, Schmitz, a professor at Lund University, said he had traveled all over the world -- California, Sweden, China and Russia -- to get a diverse sample of sedimentary rock to examine.
    After looking at the different rock, he was left with more questions than answers about the origins of meteorites.
    'That's a problem with our study, and it's a problem in science today, a big problem,' Schmitz told the news outlet.    'We don't know where the meteorites that dominate the flux come from in the asteroid belt.'
    After collecting the rock samples from each site, they were placed in hydrochloric acid, with the leftovers revealing the residue and the chrome-spinel grains, a common mineral found in meteorites.
    'We looked for tiny, tiny needles in the big haystack,' Schmitz explained.    'So we basically burn the haystack.'
    Most asteroids live in the main asteroid belt, an area in space between Mars and Jupiter.
© Provided by Daily Mail
    According to NASA, more than 1 million asteroids are known to exist, but many more have yet to be identified.
    A piece of an asteroid or comet is also known as a meteoroid.    Upon entering Earth's atmosphere, it turns into a meteor, fireball or shooting star.    The pieces that reach the ground are known as meteorites.
    It's widely believed that 'the variations in the flux of micrometeorites and meteorites to Earth is today generally described by the collisional cascading model,' the researchers wrote in their study, but after looking at more than 20,000 pounds (10,000kg) of rock, Schmitz and Terfelt were unable to find a known collision event.
    'It's a big conundrum, a big enigma,' Schmitz told Inverse.
    Understanding meteorites origins can not only help us better understand how the Solar System formed, but which space rocks might endanger humanity in the future, Schmitz said.
    The study has been published in the journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.

6/11/2021 A Mysterious, Giant 'Blinking' Object Has Been Detected Near Our Galaxy's Center by Michelle Starr, ScienceAlert
    There's something strange near the galactic center.
© Amanda Smith/University of Cambridge Artist's impression of the star.
    Some 25,000 light-years from Earth, astronomers have found a weird star that almost blinked out of existence for several months before reappearing.
    Astronomers believe the star, named VVV-WIT-08, could belong to a new class of star - giant beasts over 100 times the Sun that are eclipsed by a mysterious orbiting body once every few decades.
    Stars with peculiar dimming signatures are an endless fascination.    Although space is mostly relatively empty, it stands to reason that, with all the stuff out there, some of it will line up in such a way that stars are dimmed from our terrestrial perspective from time to time.
    It's not always easy to tell what that stuff is, though.    A giant planet?    Space dust?    Debris from a disrupted object?    A cosmic dragon?
    The case of VVV-WIT-08 is a doozy.    Although other stars have exhibited similar dips in light, none have been so deep.    The culprit, astronomers think, could be another star or planet, surrounded by a thick, opaque disk of dust on a long orbit around VVV-WIT-08, that covers the star completely when it passes in front of our view.
    "It's amazing that we just observed a dark, large and elongated object pass between us and the distant star and we can only speculate what its origin is," said astronomer Sergey Koposov from the University of Edinburgh in Scotland.
    The model of an orbital companion with a giant disk isn't without precedent.    One famous, well-known example is Epsilon Aurigae, a supergiant star and with a disk-shrouded companion on a 27-year orbit that dims the star by about 50 percent for up to 730 days.
    Then there's the system TYC 2505-672-1, a red giant star with a dusty companion on a 69-year orbit that eclipses the star for a period of 3.5 years.
    The survey that picked up VVV-WIT-08 (the "WIT" stands for "what is this?" because astronomers are great like that), the VISTA Variables in the Via Lactea (VVV) survey, picked up a couple of other candidates that seemed to exhibit the same behavior.    Because the data on those stars aren't as complete as the data for VVV-WIT-08, they are yet to be described.
    We know the star's peculiarity isn't an error, though.    The dimming was also observed by the Optical Gravitational Lensing Experiment using the Warsaw Telescope in Chile, which means it wasn't a glitch (although it would have to be a very strange sort of glitch).
    The data show that the dimming event lasted for approximately 200 days, with a nearly symmetrical light curve, quenching the star's light by up to 97 percent.    The density of objects required in that region of space for the chance alignment of two random bodies is much higher than observed, so the team believes the two objects are gravitationally bound.
    The orbital period is unknown, but it has to be at least a few decades, according to mathematical modelling.
    And the discovery suggests such systems may not be all that uncommon.
    "There are certainly more to be found, but the challenge now is in figuring out what the hidden companions are, and how they came to be surrounded by discs, despite orbiting so far from the giant star," said astronomer Leigh Smith of the University of Cambridge.
    "In doing so, we might learn something new about how these kinds of systems evolve."
    The research has been published in the Monthly Notices of the Royal Astronomical Society.

6/11/2021 Cambodia Deploys New Batch Of Rat Recruits To Sniff Out Landmines
A mine detection rat sniffs for landmines in an area being demined in Preah Vihear
province, Cambodia, June 11, 2021. Picture taken June 11, 2021. REUTERS/Cindy Liu
    PREAH VIHEAR, Cambodia (Reuters) – Cambodia has deployed its next generation of rat recruits to sniff out landmines as part of efforts to boost de-mining operations in a country plagued for decades by unexploded ordinance (UXO).
    Twenty African giant pouched rats were recently imported from Tanzania and have undergone intense training.
    “They are all easy to work with and they don’t care about who their handlers are,” said handler So Malen, during an exercise on Friday for seven recruits in Preah Vihear province, bordering Thailand.
    “Any one of us can be their handler and most importantly, they don’t bite.”
    Scarred by decades of civil war, Cambodia is one of the world’s most heavily landmined countries, with more than 1,000 sq km (621 sq miles) of land still contaminated.
    It has among the highest number of amputees per capita, with more than 40,000 people losing limbs to explosives.
    The new rat batch replaces a recently retired group that includes Magawa, who found 71 landmines and 28 UXO during his five-year career, according to APOPO, an international organisation that specialises in detecting landmines and tuberculosis.
    Magawa received a gold medal last year from Britain’s People’s Dispensary for Sick Animals for “lifesaving bravery and devotion to duty.”
    Handler So Malen said the rats have an extraordinary sense of smell that guarantees results, and that all that separated them was their work rate.
    “The small difference is that Magawa is a hero rat who worked faster than others,” So Malen said.
(Reporting by Chantha Lach; Writing by Joseph Campbell and Martin Petty; Editing by Mike Collett-White)

6/11/2021 Telegraph, Mescal Fires Burn 100K Acres In Ariz. by OAN Newsroom
The Telegraph Fire burns Thursday, June 10, 2021 in Globe, Ariz. Arizona. (AP Photo/Mark Henle, Pool)
    Arizona’s governor has declared an emergency as two wildfires continue to rage in the state.    Recent reports said both the Telegraph Fire and the Mescal Fire have so far burned more than 100,000 acres.
    The Telegraph Fire, now described as the ninth biggest fire in the history of Arizona, is at about 40 percent containment.    Meanwhile, the Mescal Fire is at around 25 percent containment.
    A burnout operation was carried out by crews overnight in efforts to remove vegetation and potential fuels for the fire. “This fire has really pushed us hard over the last few days,” said Telegraph Fire Incident Commander David Bales.
    Gov. Doug Ducey’s (R-Ariz.) emergency declaration frees up around $400,000 for response efforts.    Several communities remain under evacuation orders with others being told they need to be ready to leave their homes.

6/12/2021 Something mysterious is blinking near the center of our galaxy by Mike Wehner, BGR
© Provided by BGR blinking giant
    When astronomers peer into the depths of the Milky Way galaxy, which is our home, they can see a lot of stuff going on.
    There are endless stars swirling masses of gas and other features, but one light source, in particular, has caught the attention of researchers that are trying to understand exactly what it is.    It’s a star… but it’s “blinking.”    The object is called VVV-WIT-08, and it might belong to an entirely new class of giant stars called a “blinking giant.”    That is if scientists can figure out what is making it appear to blink.
    Observing the star isn’t easy, as it’s roughly 25,000 light-years away and is positioned between Earth and the galactic center.    The center of the Milky Way, as is the case with most galaxies, is densely packed with stars, so spotting individual stars and observing how they behave can be challenging.    In the case of VVV-WIT-08, observations took months due to the star’s exceedingly strange habit of growing dimmer and dimmer for a long period of time and then returning to full brightness.
    When astronomers search for exoplanets, one of the primary tools in their arsenal is their ability to use high-powered telescopes to observe changes in the brightness of distant stars.    If a star grows slightly dimmer for a short period of time before brightening again, that’s a good sign that there’s a planet orbiting it.    When that planet passes between the star and Earth, we can’t see the planet itself but we can see the reduced brightness, and that can tell us a lot about the object that passed in front of it.
    Researchers believe VVV-WIT-08 is also being orbited by something that is blocking out its light, but they have absolutely no idea what it is.    The star itself is massive, roughly 100 times larger than our own Sun, and it “blinks” every few decades.    And when the star grows dimmer in the sky, it is a dramatic change.    Whatever is orbiting the star nearly blocks out all of its light, and that means it must be huge.    It’s a huge mystery, and even the name of the star hints at the fact that astronomers can’t explain it.
    “Occasionally we find variable stars that don’t fit into any established category, which we call ‘what-is-this?,’ or ‘WIT’ objects,” Professor Philip Lucas, co-leader of the project, said in a statement.    “We really don’t know how these blinking giants came to be.    It’s exciting to see such discoveries from VVV after so many years planning and gathering the data.”
    The search is already on for similar star systems.    The more examples of these “blinking giants” that scientists can spot, the better the chances of being able to explain why they look the way they do.

6/12/2021 Seat On Space Flight With Jeff Bezos Sells For $28M by OAN Newsroom
Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos speaks at the the Amazon re:MARS convention, in Las Vegas. (AP Photo/John Locher, File)
    Jeff Bezo’s space flight company, Blue Origin, sold a spare seat on its first human flight for nearly $30 million.    In a Twitter post on Saturday, Blue Origin announced the winning bid for the seat aboard a sightseeing trip on the company’s New Shepard.
    The live auction ended in under 10 minutes and started at nearly $5 million, receiving more than 20 bidders.    The auction followed several weeks of online bidding, which registered more than 7,000 people from 159 countries.
    Blue Origin said the winning bid would be donated to Club for the Future, a nonprofit of the company who’s mission is to inspire future generations to pursue careers in STEM.
This undated file illustration provided by Blue Origin shows the capsule that
the company aims to take tourists into space. (Blue Origin via AP, File)
    Earlier this week, long time space enthusiast Bezos announced he and his brother would be taking flight on July 20.    While the winner’s identity was not immediately disclosed, officials said with blast off in just a couple of short weeks, the winner’s name would be released soon.
    Additionally, the company said to stay tuned as the fourth and final crew member would also be announced before the crew takes off.    The automated flight is expected to last about 11 minutes, where passengers inside the capsule will pass the Karman Line at about 350,000 feet.
    Bezo’s journey comes amid growing competition as Blue Origin battles alongside Tesla CEO Elon Musk’s space exploration technologies and Virgin Galactic Holdings Incorporated backed by Richard Branson to offer space tourism.

6/12/2021 Several Utah Wildfires Burn Thousands Of Acres by OAN Newsroom
Courtesy of Gunnison Valley FIRE Department
    Several fires are burning across the state of Utah due to extremely dry conditions and an early wildfire season.    Recent reports detailed at least six wildfires, the largest being the Bear Fire, which is currently burning around 9,800 acres at only five percent containment.
    Two other fires have burned more than 5,000 acres each and both are at zero percent containment.    Fire officials have issued a stage one fire restriction across the entire state, while experts are calling on state residents to be smart about fire safety.
    Interim director of the Utah Division of Forestry, Fire and State Lands Jamie Barnes has advised the state against campfires due to these extreme fire conditions.    She reported the majority of last year’s fires were caused by people and explained what should be done if a fire is accidentally started.
    “Immediately call 911.    Call your local authorities and get help on the way,” she asserted.    “It’s unlikely that you’re going to be able to extinguish that fire yourself so get someone there immediately, that’s a professional.”
    Officials say with humidity at around three percent, they haven’t seen dry conditions this bad in nearly 20 years.

6/13/2021 Farmers Worry Amid Drought Conditions Across Western U.S. by OAN Newsroom
A sign on a farm trailer reading “Food grows where water flows,” hangs over dry, cracked mud
at the edge of a farm near Buttonwillow, California. (Photo by David McNew/Getty Images)
    Farmers across the Western U.S. have expressed concern about their crops as the dry weather conditions worsen.    At least 72 percent of the region covering California, Nevada, Oregon and Utah have reported severe drought conditions.
    Reports say scarce rain and snow contributed to the problem and emergency measures have been put in place.    Gov. Spencer Cox (R-Utah) issued two emergency warnings for state this year mandating all state facilities to conserve water.    The state government recently approved $280 million for water projects, including $100 million for conservation.
    Excessive heat warnings have been issued for many states across the U.S. as experts advise farmers to appropriately strategize and adapt to the conditions.    Ron Gibson of the Utah Farm Bureau expressed his concern for the survival of his crops in disbelief that the drought has reached beyond alarming conditions.
    “This water is so important you know. You know, we’ve talked about the drought all the time like oh it’s dry in Utah,” he explained.    “This year it’s serious.”
    Meanwhile, the National Weather Service expects there to be a peak heat for most of Southwest California next week, including the Central Coast.

6/13/2021 More Needed: G7 Nations Agree To Boost Climate Finance by Elizabeth Piper and William Schomberg
British Prime Minister Boris Johnson, U.S. President Joe Biden, France's President Emmanuel Macron, Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau,
Japanese Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga, President of the European Council Charles Michel, Italian Prime Minister Mario Draghi,
Australia's Prime Minister Scott Morrison, German Chancellor Angela Merkel, South Africa's President Cyril Ramaphosa and South Korea's
President Moon Jae-in attend a working session during G7 summit in Carbis Bay, Cornwall, Britain, June 12, 2021. Leon Neal/Pool via REUTERS
    CARBIS BAY, England (Reuters) -G7 leaders agreed on Sunday to raise their contributions to meet an overdue spending pledge of $100 billion a year by rich countries to help poorer countries cut carbon emissions and cope with global warming, but only two nations offered firm promises of more cash.
    Alongside plans billed as helping speed infrastructure funding in developing countries and a shift to renewable and sustainable technology, the world’s seven largest advanced economies again pledged to meet the climate finance target.
    But climate groups said the promise made in the summit’s final communique lacked detail and the developed nations should be more ambitious in their financial commitments.
    In the communique, the seven nations – the United States, Britain, Canada, France, Germany, Italy and Japan – reaffirmed their commitment to “jointly mobilise $100 billion per year from public and private sources, through to 2025.”
    “Towards this end, we commit to each increase and improve our overall international public climate finance contributions for this period and call on other developed countries to join and enhance their contributions to this effort.”
    After the summit concluded, Canada said it would double its climate finance pledge to C$5.3 billion ($4.4 billion) over the next five years and Germany would increase its by 2 billion to 6 billion euros ($7.26 billion) a year by 2025 at the latest.
    There was a clear push by leaders at the summit in southwest England to try to counter China’s increasing influence in the world, particularly among developing nations.    The leaders signalled their desire to build a rival to Beijing’s multi-trillion-dollar Belt and Road initiative but the details were few and far between.
    Johnson, host of the gathering in Carbis Bay, told a news conference that developed nations had to move further, faster.
    “G7 countries account for 20% of global carbon emissions, and we were clear this weekend that action has to start with us,” he said as the summit concluded.
    “And while it’s fantastic that every one of the G7 countries has pledged to wipe out our contributions to climate change, we need to make sure we’re achieving that as fast as we can and helping developing countries at the same time.”
    Some green groups were unimpressed with the climate pledges.
    Catherine Pettengell, director at Climate Action Network, an umbrella group for advocacy organisations, said the G7 had failed to rise to the challenge of agreeing on concrete commitments on climate finance.
    “We had hoped that the leaders of the world’s richest nations would come away from this week having put their money their mouth is,” she said.
    Developed countries agreed at the United Nations in 2009 to together contribute $100 billion each year by 2020 in climate finance to poorer countries, many of whom are grappling with rising seas, storms and droughts made worse by climate change.
    That target was not met, derailed in part by the coronavirus pandemic that also forced Britain to postpone the U.N. Climate Change Conference (COP26) until later this year.
    The G7 also said 2021 should be a “turning point for our planet” and to accelerate efforts to cut greenhouse gas emissions and keep the 1.5 Celsius global warming threshold within reach.
    European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen said the G7 leaders had agreed to phase out coal.
    The communique seemed less clear, saying: “We have committed to rapidly scale-up technologies and policies that further accelerate the transition away from unabated coal capacity, consistent with our 2030 NDCs and net zero commitment.”
    The also pledged to work together to tackle so-called carbon leakage – the risk that tough climate policies could cause companies to relocate to regions where they can continue to pollute cheaply.
    But there were few details on how they would manage to cut emissions, with an absence of specific measures on everything from the phasing out of coal to moving to electric vehicles.
    Pettengell said it was encouraging that leaders were recognising the importance of climate change but their words had to be backed up by specific action on cutting subsidies for fossil fuel development and ending investment in projects such as new oil and gas fields, as well as on climate finance.
    British environmentalist David Attenborough appealed to politicians to take action.
    “We know in detail what is happening to our planet, and we know many of the things we need to do during this decade,” he said in a recorded video address to the meeting.
    “Tackling climate change is now as much a political and communications challenge as it is a scientific or technological one.    We have the skills to address it in time, all we need is the global will to do so.”
($1 = 1.2153 Canadian dollars)
(Reporting by Elizabeth PiperAdditional reporting by William James and Kate Abnett in Brussels and Andreas Rinke in BerlinEditing by William Maclean, Raissa Kasolowsky and Frances Kerry)

6/13/2021 Factbox-China, Climate And Vaccines – What The G7 Agreed This Weekend
FILE PHOTO: British Prime Minister Boris Johnson, U.S. President Joe Biden, France's President Emmanuel Macron, Canadian Prime
Minister Justin Trudeau, Japanese Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga, President of the European Council Charles Michel, Italian Prime Minister
Mario Draghi, Australia's Prime Minister Scott Morrison, German Chancellor Angela Merkel, South Africa's President Cyril Ramaphosa and
South Korea's President Moon Jae-in attend a working session during G7 summit in Carbis Bay, Cornwall, Britain, June 12, 2021. Leon Neal/Pool via REUTERS
    CARBIS BAY, England (Reuters) – The Group of Seven rich nations promised to tackle China’s growing influence, fight climate change, get more COVID-19 jabs to poor countries and keep up their economic stimulus programmes at their first summit since Joe Biden became U.S. president.
    Following is a summary of the main points agreed by the leaders of the United States, Japan, Germany, Britain, France, Italy and Canada at their three-day meeting at a beachside hotel in southwest England which ended on Sunday.
    CLIMATE CHANGE – The G7 said it would meet a long overdue funding pledge of $100 billion a year by rich countries to help poorer ones cut emissions and cope with global warming.    Aid campaigners said the promises remained vague and could undermine efforts for a new global deal to cut emissions later this year.
    The G7 also promised to halt and reverse biodiversity loss by 2030.
    COVID VACCINES – Leaders agreed to donate 1 billion COVID-19 vaccine doses over the next year to poorer countries.    But the United Nations said more was needed and campaigners said the pledge showed the G7 was not yet on top of tackling the crisis.
    CHINA – The G7 singled out China in their communique for human rights in Xinjiang, demanded freedoms and a high degree of autonomy for Hong Kong, and said a full investigation was needed into the origins of the novel coronavirus.
    It also sought to counter China’s growing influence by offering developing nations an infrastructure plan that could rival Beijing’s Belt and Road Initiative by supporting projects such as railways in Africa and wind farms in Asia.
    RUSSIA – The G7 demanded Russia take action to halt cyber attacks that demand ransoms from businesses in the West.    It called on Moscow to stop its “destabilising behaviour and malign activities” and investigate the use of chemical weapons.
    ECONOMIC STIMULUS – After the historic economic slump of 2020, the G7 leaders agreed to continue their huge support programmes “for as long as is necessary” and avoid the mistakes of the past when stimulus had been scaled back too early.    “Once the recovery is firmly established, we need to ensure the long-term sustainability of public finances,” they said.
    IMF FUNDS – The G7 stopped short of committing to concrete steps for rich countries to reallocate $100 billion of their share of International Monetary Fund assets to poorer countries hit by COVID-19, saying they wanted other countries to contribute too.    G7 finance ministers and central bank governors would “urgently consider the detail of this, including by working with the G20 and other stakeholders.”
    BREXIT – Tensions between London and other European capitals flared again.    Britain’s Boris Johnson said he would do “whatever it takes” to protect the territorial integrity of the United Kingdom.    After a meeting with French President Emmanuel Macron, Johnson said some countries “seem to misunderstand that the UK is a single country…I just need to get that into their heads.”
    BIDEN AND THE WORLD – Biden was welcomed with open arms by the other G7 leaders after the isolationist stance of Donald Trump.    “It’s great to have a U.S. president who’s part of the club and very willing to cooperate,” France’s Macron said.    “It used to be complete chaos,” a source attending the talks said.
(Reporting by Reuters G7 team; Editing by William Schomberg and Elaine Hardcastle)

6/13/2021 Environmentalist Attenborough Tells G7: We Need The Will To Tackle Climate Change
FILE PHOTO: Broadcaster and film maker David Attenborough attends the premiere of Blue Planet II
at the British Film Institute in London, Britain, September 27, 2017. REUTERS/Hannah McKay/File Photo
    FALMOUTH, England (Reuters) – British environmentalist David Attenborough told Group of Seven leaders on Sunday that tackling climate change was now as much a political challenge as it was a scientific one.
    “We know in detail what is happening to our planet, and we know many of the things we need to do during this decade,” he said in a recorded video address.
    “Tackling climate change is now as much a political and communications challenge as it is a scientific or technological one.    We have the skills to address it in time, all we need is the global will to do so.”
(Reporting by Guy Faulconbridge, writing by William James, editing by William Schomberg)

6/14/2021 Earth's core is growing 'lopsided' and scientists don't know why by Brandon Specktor,
© Provided by Space Earth's solid inner core may be growing in a 'lopsided' pattern, new research suggests.
    There's a mystery brewing at the center of the Earth.
    Scientists can only see it when they study the seismic waves (subterranean tremors generated by earthquakes) passing through the planet's solid iron inner core. For some reason, waves move through the core significantly faster when they're traveling between the north and south poles than when they're traveling across the equator.
    Researchers have known about this discrepancy — known as seismic anisotropy — for decades, but have been unable to come up with an explanation that's consistent with the available data.    Now, using computer simulations of the core's growth over the last billion years, a new study in the June 3 issue of Nature Geoscience offers a solution that finally seems to fit: Every year, little by little, Earth's inner core is growing in a "lopsided" pattern, with new iron crystals forming faster on the east side of the core than on the west side.
    "The movement of liquid iron in the outer core carries heat away from the inner core, causing it to freeze," lead study author Daniel Frost, a seismologist at the University of California, Berkeley, told Live Science.    "So this means the outer core has been taking more heat from the east side [under Indonesia] than the west [under Brazil]."
    To visualize this lopsided growth in the core, imagine a tree trunk with growth rings radiating out from a central point, Frost said — but "the center of the rings is offset from the center of the tree," so that rings are spaced further apart on the east side of the tree and closer together on the west side.
A cross section of Earth's inner core might look similar to that. However, this asymmetric growth doesn't mean that the inner core itself is misshapen or at risk of becoming imbalanced, the researchers said.
    On average, the inner core's radius grows evenly by about 0.04 inches (1 millimeter) every year.    Gravity corrects for the lopsided growth in the east by pushing new crystals toward the west.    There, the crystals clump into lattice structures that stretch along the core's north-south axis.    These crystal structures, aligned parallel with Earth's poles, are seismic superhighways that enable earthquake waves to travel more quickly in that direction, according to the team's models.
Unpacking the snowball
    What's causing this imbalance in the inner core, anyway? That's hard to say without looking at all the other layers of our planet, Frost said.
    "Every layer in the Earth is controlled by what's above it, and influences what's below it," he said.    "The inner core is slowly freezing out of the liquid outer core, like a snowball adding more layers.    The outer core is then cooled by the mantle above it — so to ask the question of why the inner core is growing faster on one side than the other might be asking the question of why is one side of the mantle cooler than the other?"
    Tectonic plates could be partially to blame, Frost said. As cold tectonic plates dive deep below the Earth's surface at subduction zones (places where one plate sinks below another), they cool the mantle below.    However, whether mantle cooling could impact the inner core is still a subject of debate, Frost said.
    Equally puzzling is whether or not the lopsided cooling in the core could be affecting Earth's magnetic field.    The modern-day magnetic field is powered by the movement of liquid iron in the outer core; this liquid's movement is powered in turn by heat lost from the inner core.    If the inner core is losing more heat in the east than the west, then the outer core will move more in the east too, Frost said.
    "The question is, does this change the strength of the magnetic field?" he added.
    Questions this big are beyond the scope of the team's new paper, but Frost said he has begun work on new research with a team of geomagnetists to investigate some possibilities.
Originally published on Live Science.

6/14/2021 Swiss Reject Law To Help Country Meet Paris Carbon Emissions Goal by John Revill
FILE PHOTO: A poster demanding: "Destroy Swiss Agriculture? Radical plant protection & drinkwater initiatives
- 2 x No" is placed in front of a field near Aesch, Switzerland June 1 2021. Reuters/Arnd Wiegmann/File Photo
    ZURICH (Reuters) -Swiss voters rejected a trio of environmental proposals on Sunday, including a new law intended to help the country meet its goal for cutting carbon emissions under the Paris Agreement on Climate Change.
    A new CO2 law was narrowly rejected, with 51.6% of voters opposing it in a nationwide referendum conducted under the country’s system of direct democracy.
    The result was a defeat for the Swiss government which supported the new law that included measures such as increasing a surcharge on car fuel and imposing a levy on flight tickets. [nL5N2NS4XD].
    The rejection meant it would now be “very difficult” for Switzerland to reach its 2030 goal of cutting carbon emissions to half of their 1990 levels and to be become net neutral on emissions by 2050, Environment Minister Simonetta Sommaruga said.
    “Today’s no is not a no to climate protection, it is a no to the law on which we have voted,” Sommaruga told a news conference.
    “Debates in the last few weeks have shown that many people want to strengthen the climate protection but not with this law,” she said.
    The government would now seek to extend uncontroversial measures like a duty for fuel importers to invest in climate protection projects, and attempt to forge a new consensus with the population on climate policies, she added.
    Also rejected was a proposal which would have made Switzerland only the second country in the world to ban artificial pesticides outright, and another proposal to reduce their use by redirecting subsidies to farmers who no longer used the chemicals.
    Supporters had argued that pesticides were linked to health risks, while opponents had claimed a ban on pesticides would have led to more expensive food, job losses for the Swiss food processing industry, and greater dependence on imports.
    Antoinette Gilson, one of the authors of the artificial pesticides initiative, said the results did not mean the Swiss were unconcerned about the environment, but were more worried about immediate problems at present.
    “People find it very hard to think about problems in the future, and don’t see the urgency of these problems,” she said.    “When they are having a difficult time during the COVID-19 pandemic they are thinking about immediate concerns more.”
    Agrochemicals makers Syngenta and Bayer both welcomed the result.
    “It is a clear vote for a productive, resource-efficient agriculture,” Bayer said.
    Separate referendums to support a temporary law providing financial support for businesses during the COVID-19 pandemic and a law to give police extra powers to tackle terrorism were both approved by 60% and 57% of voters respectively.
(Reporting by John Revill; Editing by Toby Chopra and Jane Merriman)

6/14/2021 Poland’s PGNiG Aims To Increase Gas Production Using AI
A well is seen through stalks of grain at test drilling site Markowola-1 near Kozienice, central Poland, where
Poland's gas monopoly PGNiG hopes to find large amounts of shale gas July 9, 2010.REUTERS/Kacper Pempel/Files
    GDANSK (Reuters) – Polish gas group PGNiG may increase its recoverable gas reserves in Poland by a cumulative 7.3 billion cubic metres in 2021 and 2022 by using artificial intelligence, it said on Monday.
    The “Smart Field” project aims to use artificial intelligence to increase extraction of documented, recoverable gas resources in Poland and reduce extraction costs, the company said.
    “Applying the Smart Field method for five fields (in Poland) which are Paproc, Koscian-Bronsko, Zalecze, Zuchlow the exploitation period for these fields will be extended by 10 years and the volume of extracted gas will nearly double,” said deputy CEO, Robert Perkowski.
    “Smart Field’s purpose is to allow us to increase extraction of documented, recoverable gas resources in the country.    At the moment these resources amount to over 30 bcm … We expect that by 2022 we will have over 40 bcm, about 43 bcm,” added CEO, Pawel Majewski.
(Reporting by Anna Banacka; editing by David Evans)

6/15/2021 This scientist says we shouldn’t try to contact aliens. Here’s why by Herb Scribner, DeseretNews
© John Locher, Associated Press
    Chase Hansen holds an inflatable alien near an entrance to the Nevada Test and Training Range near Area 51, Friday, Sept. 20, 2019, near Rachel, Nev. People came to visit the gate inspired by the “Storm Area 51” internet hoax.
    Mark Buchanan, a physicist and writer from Europe, has a rather hot take when it comes to the search for aliens — let’s not find them.
    In a new piece for The Washington Post, Buchanan suggests that “i>contacting aliens could end all life on Earth.”
    He suggests that the recent push to find aliens might not be the best idea. Contacting another civilization could have direct consequences, he said.
  • The search for aliens has reached a stage of technological sophistication and associated risk that it needs strict regulation at national and international levels,” he wrote.    “Without oversight, even one person — with access to powerful transmitting technology — could take actions affecting the future of the entire planet.”
  • Consider technology as well.    According to Buchanan, any potential life form we contact will have improved technology that could surpass our own.    And these aliens — who would likely be way older than earthlings — haven’t made contact for a reason.
  • More alarming is the possibility that alien civilizations are remaining out of contact because they know something: that sending out signals is catastrophically risky,” he wrote.    “Our history on Earth has given us many examples of what can happen when civilizations with unequal technology meet — generally, the technologically more advanced has destroyed or enslaved the other.    A cosmic version of this reality might have convinced many alien civilizations to remain silent.    Exposing yourself is an invitation to be preyed upon and devoured.”
    The search for aliens and unidentified flying objects has kicked up in recent weeks because of an upcoming U.S. Department of Defense report, which will explain all investigations by the U.S. government into UFO incidents.
    The final report — which has not been released — won’t provide any evidence of UFOs involving aliens or extraterrestrial life, though, according to BBC News, However, the report doesn’t rule those out as possibilities, either.
    Rep. Michael Waltz of the House Armed Services Committee told CNN that the report’s findings will be somewhat troubling even if the flying objects don’t come from aliens.
    “But it’s disturbing either way, you know, is this alien life or do adversaries or someone else have capabilities that far exceed anything we have the ability to understand track or counter? Either way it’s really bad,” he said.

6/15/2021 Ex-government chief for UFO investigations: US considering extraterrestrial hypothesis by Tom Rogan, Examiner
    The former chief of the Pentagon's Unidentified Flying Objects-UFO investigations program publicly confirmed that the U.S. government has in the past actively considered — and is presently still considering — whether the most extraordinary unidentified flying objects are not of earthly origin.
© Provided by Washington Examiner
    The most extraordinary UFOs being those which have been subjected to multiple intelligence collection systems.    UFOs where the collected data has then been subjected to extensive analysis in an attempt to rule out aircraft, meteorological phenomena, or other otherwise conventional explanations.    UFOs which then still defy conventional explanation.    Luis Elizondo told the Washington Examiner that the U.S. government has intelligence-analysis predicated reason to further investigate whether these UFOs are indeed not of Earthly origin.    It matters because Elizondo says these UFOs (what the government refers to as "Unidentified Aerial Phenomena"/UAPs) are not believed to be of Earth nation origin.
    Instead, Elizondo says it is a credible line of government inquiry that these UFOs are "extraterrestrial, extra-dimensional," or the creation of an Earth-based intelligence entirely unknown to our human society. Elizondo says it is "nothing more than an infinitesimally small possibility" that these extraordinary UFOs are of either U.S., Chinese, or Russian origin (or Israel or Elon Musk, etc.).    Senator Martin Heinrich, a member of the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence, recently suggested a Chinese or Russian origin vector is unlikely.    Others have told the Washington Examiner they share that understanding.    These attitudes are based on the information thus far gathered on this most extraordinary category of UFOs, as contrasted to the latest intelligence assessments on Earth nation and private corporation aerospace, undersea, and satellite capabilities.
    But Elizondo's words should carry weight.
    As chief of the Pentagon's Advanced Aerospace Threat Identification Program, Elizondo led the U.S. government's effort to identify, catalog, and more broadly assess UFOs.    Those efforts now fall to the "UAP Task Force," run out of the Office of Naval Intelligence.    Other elements of the U.S. government retain other ad hoc efforts to investigate UFOs.    However, the measure of resources and coordination applied to these efforts varies widely.
    Sources have told the Washington Examiner that Moscow — during the Soviet era — and very likely still today, operated a covert UFO research program.    It was likely designed, at least in part, to replicate UFO technologies.    Former Soviet Navy officers have publicly confirmed that they were engaged in researching underwater UFO-related phenomena.    The South China Morning Post also recently reported on the Chinese People's Liberation Army research of UFOs.    This varied research may include efforts to replicate UFO technologies.    But Elizondo insists that he has not been briefed in on any such replication success on the part of the United States.
    The timing of Elizondo's revelations are important, coming just as the Office of the Director of National Intelligence prepares to deliver a report on UFOs to Congress.    That report is expected later this month.
    On that count, Elizondo pushed back against that report's purported assertion, as first reported by the New York Times, that the government has no evidence to indicate an "extraterrestrial" origin for these UFOs.    Elizondo told the Washington Examiner that the government has evidence to indicate that the most extraordinary UFOs are not "human-made machines."    In deference to his continuing security clearance obligations, Elizondo would not offer more information on this specific topic when pressed.
    Much may now depend on the outcome of the Defense Department Inspector General's ongoing investigation into how the Pentagon's UFO research effort has been handled thus far.    The Debrief's Tim McMillan recently examined the significance this investigation may hold for the future of UFO research.
    Regardless, Elizondo's comments to the Washington Examiner are striking.    They appear to offer the first on-record corroboration by a former senior U.S. government official intimately involved in UFO research efforts that some UFOs are believed to be unknown machines of a truly extraordinary nature.    Reflecting a stigma that flows across the media world and government, few want to state publicly what Elizondo has now said on the record.

6/16/2021 Some Scientists Believe the Universe Is Conscious by Caroline Delbert, Prevention
© PM Images - Getty Images Some scientists believe the universe is conscious.
Sounds like a bad trip... but what if it's true?
  • Is the universe a conscious being, like a gigantic widely dispersed human brain?
  • Scientists have long questioned how consciousness and science mix.
  • Two mathematicians have turned one theory into a crunchable math model.
    In upcoming research, scientists will attempt to show the universe has consciousness.    Yes, really.    No matter the outcome, we’ll soon learn more about what it means to be conscious—and which objects around us might have a mind of their own.
    What will that mean for how we treat objects and the world around us?    Buckle in, because things are about to get weird.
What is consciousness?
    The basic definition of consciousness intentionally leaves a lot of questions unanswered.    It’s “the normal mental condition of the waking state of humans, characterized by the experience of perceptions, thoughts, feelings, awareness of the external world, and often in humans (but not necessarily in other animals) self-awareness,” according to the Oxford Dictionary of Psychology.     Scientists simply don’t have one unified theory of what consciousness is.    We also don’t know where it comes from, or what it’s made of.
    However, one loophole of this knowledge gap is that we can’t exhaustively say other organisms, and even inanimate objects, don’t have consciousness.    Humans relate to animals and can imagine, say, dogs and cats have some amount of consciousness because we see their facial expressions and how they appear to make decisions.    But just because we don’t “relate to” rocks, the ocean, or the night sky, that isn’t the same as proving those things don’t have consciousness.
    This is where a philosophical stance called panpsychism comes into play, writes All About Space’s David Crookes:
    “This claims consciousness is inherent in even the tiniest pieces of matter — an idea that suggests the fundamental building blocks of reality have conscious experience.    Crucially, it implies consciousness could be found throughout the universe.”
    It’s also where physics enters the picture.    Some scientists have posited that the thing we think of as consciousness is made of micro-scale quantum physics events and other “spooky actions at a distance,” somehow fluttering inside our brains and generating conscious thoughts.
© PM Images - Getty Images gettyimages-1219355657
The free will conundrum
    One of the leading minds in physics, 2020 Nobel laureate and black hole pioneer Roger Penrose, has written extensively about quantum mechanics as a suspected vehicle of consciousness.    In 1989, he wrote a book called The Emperor’s New Mind, in which he claimed “that human consciousness is non-algorithmic and a product of quantum effects.”
    Let’s quickly break down that statement.    What does it mean for human consciousness to be “algorithmic”?    Well, an algorithm is simply a series of predictable steps to reach an outcome, and in the study of philosophy, this idea plays a big part in questions about free will versus determinism.
    Are our brains simply cranking out math-like processes that can be telescoped in advance?    Or is something wild happening that allows us true free will, meaning the ability to make meaningfully different decisions that affect our lives?
    Within philosophy itself, the study of free will dates back at least centuries.    But the overlap with physics is much newer.    And what Penrose claimed in The Emperor’s New Mind is that consciousness isn’t strictly causal because, on the tiniest level, it’s a product of unpredictable quantum phenomena that don’t conform to classical physics.
    So, where does all that background information leave us?    If you’re scratching your head or having some uncomfortable thoughts, you’re not alone. But these questions are essential to people who study philosophy and science, because the answers could change how we understand the entire universe around us.    Whether or not humans do or don’t have free will has huge moral implications, for example.    How do you punish criminals who could never have done differently?
Consciousness is everywhere
    In physics, scientists could learn key things from a study of consciousness as a quantum effect.    This is where we rejoin today’s researchers: Johannes Kleiner, mathematician and theoretical physicist at the Munich Center For Mathematical Philosophy, and Sean Tull, mathematician at the University of Oxford.
    Kleiner and Tull are following Penrose’s example, in both his 1989 book and a 2014 paper where he detailed his belief that our brains’ microprocesses can be used to model things about the whole universe.    The resulting theory is called integrated information theory (IIT), and it’s an abstract, “highly mathematical” form of the philosophy we’ve been reviewing.
    In IIT, consciousness is everywhere, but it accumulates in places where it’s needed to help glue together different related systems.    This means the human body is jam-packed with a ton of systems that must interrelate, so there’s a lot of consciousness (or phi, as the quantity is known in IIT) that can be calculated.    Think about all the parts of the brain that work together to, for example, form a picture and sense memory of an apple in your mind’s eye.
© Biwa Studio - Getty Images gettyimages-114157050
    The revolutionary thing in IIT isn’t related to the human brain—it’s that consciousness isn’t biological at all, but rather is simply this value, phi, that can be calculated if you know a lot about the complexity of what you’re studying.
    If your brain has almost countless interrelated systems, then the entire universe must have virtually infinite ones.    And if that’s where consciousness accumulates, then the universe must have a lot of phi.
    Hey, we told you this was going to get weird.
    “The theory consists of a very complicated algorithm that, when applied to a detailed mathematical description of a physical system, provides information about whether the system is conscious or not, and what it is conscious of,” Kleiner told All About Space.    “If there is an isolated pair of particles floating around somewhere in space, they will have some rudimentary form of consciousness if they interact in the correct way.”
    Kleiner and Tull are working on turning IIT into this complex mathematical algorithm—setting down the standard that can then be used to examine how conscious things operate.
    Think about the classic philosophical comment, “I think, therefore I am,” then imagine two geniuses turning that into a workable formula where you substitute in a hundred different number values and end up with your specific “I am” answer.
    The next step is to actually crunch the numbers, and then to grapple with the moral implications of a hypothetically conscious universe.    It’s an exciting time to be a philosopher—or a philosopher’s calculator.

6/16/2021 Officials ask Texans to reduce electricity use by Stefan Stevenson, Fort Worth Star-Telegram TRIBUNE NEWS SERVICE
    Texas officials are asking residents to reduce electric use “as much as possible” this week because of significant strain on the state’s power grid.
    The Electric Reliability Council of Texas, or ERCOT, is making the request because of “significant forced generation outages combined with potential record electric use” in June, according to an ERCOT release.
    According to ERCOT, generator owners have reported approximately 11,000 megawatts of generation is on forced outage for repairs.    Approximately 8,000 megawatts is thermal and the rest is intermittent resources.
    According to the summer Seasonal Assessment of Resource Adequacy, a typical range of thermal generation outages on hot summer days is around 3,600 megawatts.    One megawatt typically powers around 200 homes on a summer day.
    “We will be conducting a thorough analysis with generation owners to determine why so many units are out of service,” ERCOT Vice President of Grid Planning and Operations Woody Rickerson said in the release.    “This is unusual for this early in the summer season.”
    The number of outages should decrease throughout the week, according to the power companies via ERCOT.
    Wind generated power is expected to be about 1,500 megawatts lower than the typical 3,500 to 6,000 megawatts from 3 to 9 p.m., the peak time of power consumption.    Wind output is expected to increase throughtout the week, according to ERCOT.    Monday’s peak load forecast could exceed 73,000 megawatts, which would be a June record.    The high June peak was 69,123 megawatts set on June 27, 2018, between 4 and 5 p.m. ERCOT is asking Texas residents to do the following:
  • Set thermostats to 78 degrees or higher; every degree of cooling increases your energy use by 6% to 8%.
  • Turn off lights and pool pumps and avoid using large appliances like ovens, washing machines and dryers.
  • If you don’t need something, turn it off and unplug it if possible.
The electric power grid manager for most of Texas issued its first conservation alert of the summer,
calling on users to dial back energy consumption to avert an emergency. DAVID J. PHILLIP/AP

6/16/2021 ERCOT Asking Texas Residents To Conserve Power Amid Threat Of More Power Outages In State by OAN Newsroom
FILE – This Tuesday, Feb. 16, 2021 file photo shows power lines in Houston. The electric power grid manager for most of Texas has issued its
first conservation alert of the summer, calling on users to dial back energy consumption to avert an emergency. (AP Photo/David J. Phillip)
    The Electric Reliability Council of Texas (ERCOT) is, once again, warning of power outages.
    According to reports this week, ERCOT said the demand for electricity may exceed the grid’s capacity as temperatures are expected to hit around 100 this week.    The council is asking residents to conserve power through the end of the week.
    This comes as ERCOT officials confirmed a number of power plants have been forced to go offline while citing equipment failures that required immediate repairs.
    “There’s been a lot of wear and tear so far this year.    So, it doesn’t surprise me that there’s a lot more maintenance that needs to be done.    It is a bit concerning that we still have this many power plants offline as we’re getting this far into the summer.”    Joshua Rhodes, University of Texas at Austin.
    Residents are being asked to keep thermostats at 78 degrees or higher, avoid using large appliances and to simply unplug any devices not in use.
    ERCOT has come under increased scrutiny after leaving customers in the dark in February during a freeze that killed around 150 people.

6/17/2021 That Pentagon UFO report is coming soon. Everything you need to know by Eric Mack, c|net
    People have been spotting unexplained and unidentified flying objects for centuries, and for at least the last several decades in the US, many people have suspected their government is hiding what it knows about UFOs.    Within days, the US intelligence community may finally reveal some of those secrets to Congress in a mandatory, unclassified report that will be available to the public.
© Provided by CNET Rob Rodriguez/CNET© KTSDesign/Getty
    This illustration of a UFO harkens back to humanity's early dalliances with the strange phenomenon.
    There are some caveats, though.    Here are some key things to know before the report drops.
Where did the UFO report come from?
    For years, pilots and other military personnel have been encountering strange things in the sky that have come to be called "unidentified aerial phenomena."    The change from "UFO" to "UAP" is in part a nod to the likelihood that some of the incidents may be explained by technical glitches or environmental phenomena rather than actual tangible objects.
    Anyhow, these reports sometimes get back to members of Congress, who then make a push for more investigations and disclosures about those phenomena.    Former Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid was particularly dedicated to this cause.    In 2007 he helped funnel funds to a secret Pentagon initiative, the Advanced Aerospace Threat Identification Program, that ran through at least 2012.    In 2017, former head of AATIP Luis Elizondo announced he had left the government and was joining the private To the Stars Academy of Arts and Sciences along with former Blink-182 frontman Tom DeLonge.
    Elizondo also in 2017 leaked three now famous videos of military encounters with UAP to the media, and in 2020 the US Navy confirmed the veracity of these clips.
    It was in the wake of the Navy's acknowledgement of UAP last year that Florida Sen. Marco Rubio added a section to a funding bill requiring the     Director of National Intelligence to work with the military and intelligence community to submit a report "on unidentified aerial phenomena (also known as 'anomalous aerial vehicles'), including observed airborne objects that have not been identified."
    The request specifically calls out data from the Office of Naval Intelligence and the Unidentified Aerial Phenomena Task Force, which is the successor entity to AATIP.
U.S. report finds no evidence UFOs were alien spacecraft
    What will be in the UFO report?
    Well, that's to be determined, but some early reporting suggests it probably won't contain anything that fundamentally alters our view of the universe.    The report is expected to say that there's no evidence the UAP seen by military personnel are secret advanced American technology or alien spacecraft, but a possible alien explanation can't be definitively ruled out.
    That means the intelligence community seems to think that UAP have causes that are some combination of unknown, mundane or originating with foreign or private entities.
    Also, while the report is required to be public, it is allowed to have a classified annex.    Officials told The New York Times that this addendum doesn't contain any evidence of alien visitation.    Still, it could contain much of the actual, truthy good stuff that we don't get to know.
    While no earth-shattering revelations should be expected, the report may include some juicy new tidbits and puzzle pieces that help us better understand the UAP mystery.
    When will the report be released?
    The deadline is June 25, so we could see it anytime between now and then. Look for it to drop from one of the congressional intelligence committees, the Office of the Director of National Intelligence or perhaps an individual elected official on one of the committees.    We will certainly share it once we get hold of it, and I'll tweet any incremental developments @EricCMack.
    Forget the report.    Can you just tell me if it's aliens?
    Fair enough.    No, I can't tell you for sure it's aliens or it's not aliens.    But as my colleague Jackson Ryan pointed out recently, the evidence to support an alien explanation for UAP isn't really there.
    A driving concern that led Rubio and other officials to call for this report is less about aliens and more about geopolitics and national security.    Rubio specifically requested an assessment of whether UAP "may be attributed to one or more foreign adversaries."
    There's also the strange case of some Navy patents for theoretical technology that could move in ways UAP have been observed moving.     Correspondence from Navy officials suggests the Chinese have already been working on similar breakthroughs.
    Whatever the report reveals, it seems almost certain to raise more questions than it answers.    Meanwhile, keep one eye on the sky, and another online.

6/17/2021 Study: Toxic chemicals found in many cosmetics by Matthew Daly ASSOCIATED PRESS
    WASHINGTON – More than half the cosmetics sold in the United States and Canada likely contain high levels of a toxic industrial compound linked to serious health conditions, including cancer and reduced birth weight, according to a new study.
    Researchers at the University of Notre Dame tested more than 230 commonly used cosmetics and found that 56% of foundations and eye products, 48% of lip products and 47% of mascaras contained high levels of fluorine – an indicator of PFAS, so-called 'forever chemicals' that are used in nonstick frying pans, rugs and countless other consumer products.
    Some of the highest PFAS levels were found in waterproof mascara (82%) and long-lasting lipstick (62%), according to the study published Tuesday in the journal Environmental Science & Technology Letters.    Twenty-nine products with high fluorine concentrations were tested further and found to contain between four and 13 specific PFAS chemicals, the study found.    Only one item listed PFAS as an ingredient on the label.
    The study results were announced as a bipartisan group of senators introduced a bill to ban the use of PFAS, or perfluoroalkyl and polyfluoroalkyl substances, in cosmetics and other beauty products.    The move to ban PFAS comes as Congress considers wide-ranging legislation to set a national drinking water standard for certain PFAS chemicals and clean up contaminated sites across the country, including military bases where high rates of PFAS have been discovered.
    The Environmental Protection Agency also is moving to collect industry data on PFAS chemical uses and health risks as it considers regulations to reduce potential risks caused by the chemicals.
    'There is nothing safe and nothing good about PFAS,' said Sen. Richard Blumenthal, D-Conn., who introduced the cosmetics bill with Sen. Susan Collins, R-Maine.    'These chemicals are a menace hidden in plain sight that people literally display on their faces every day.'
    Rep. Debbie Dingell, D-Mich., who has sponsored several PFAS-related bills in the House, said she has looked for PFAS in her own makeup and lipstick, but could not see if they were present because the products were not properly labeled.
    'How do I know it doesn’t have PFAS?' she asked at a news conference, referring to the eye makeup, foundation and lipstick she was wearing.    'People are being poisoned every day.'
    Graham Peaslee, a physics professor at Notre Dame and the principal investigator of the study, called the results shocking. Not only do the cosmetics pose an immediate risk to users, but they create a long-term risk, he said.    'PFAS is a persistent chemical.    When it gets into the bloodstream, it stays there and accumulates,' Peaslee said.
    The chemicals also pose the risk of environmental contamination associated with manufacturing and disposal, he said.     'This should be a wake-up call for the cosmetics industry,' said David Andrews, a senior scientist at the Environmental Working Group, a Washington-based nonprofit that has worked to restrict PFAS.

6/17/2021 Russian-Annexed Crimea Declares State Of Emergency Over Floods
A view shows a flooded street following heavy rainfall in Kerch, Crimea June 17, 2021. REUTERS/Alla Dmitrieva
    MOSCOW (Reuters) – Authorities in Russian annexed Crimea declared a local state of emergency on Thursday after heavy rain caused flooding in parts of the peninsula’s east including the city of Kerch.
    The flooding affected nearly 300 homes and a city hospital, the emergencies ministry said.
    Whole streets were submerged in water in parts of the city. In one place a fire engine could be seen driving through deep water towards a submerged passenger bus in a video posted online.    Some cars were almost completely under water.
    “In terms of material damage, the situation is severe. But now commissions have been set up, a regional emergency has already been declared,” Sergei Aksyonov, head of the Russian authorities, was quoted by Interfax news agency as saying.
    Russia annexed Crimea from Ukraine in 2014. Kyiv wants the peninsula back.
    Aksyonov was shown on a boat in Kerch, surveying the flooding in video circulated by the RIA news agency.
(Reporting by Maxim Rodionov and Elena Ostrovskaya; writing by Tom Balmforth; editing by Barbara Lewis)

6/17/2021 Opinion: As a scientist, I want to believe in UFOs, but ... Opinion by Don Lincoln, CNN
    "The Truth is Out There" is the tagline for "The X-Files," the Fox Network television show that aired during the 1990s.    It explored the paranormal and unexplained, but to a very large degree, it focused on the idea that not only does extraterrestrial life exist, but it has repeatedly visited Earth.
© Department of Defense/AP The image from video provided by the Department of Defense labelled Gimbal, from 2015,
an unexplained object is seen at center as it is tracked as it soars high along the clouds, traveling against the wind.
    "There's a whole fleet of them," one naval aviator tells another, though only one indistinct object is shown.    "It's rotating."    The U.S. government has been taking a hard look at unidentified flying objects, under orders from Congress, and a report summarizing what officials know is expected to come out in June 2021.
    A Pentagon report expected later this month, detailing what the US military knows about UFOs (and possibly alien visitation), may shed some light on the situation.    News of the forthcoming report has been met with excitement and anticipation, although officials briefed on the findings have said that the report may muddy the conversation with its ambiguous findings.    And the expectation of multiple redactions, nominally to avoid revealing the US military's capabilities will surely feed the suspicions of conspiracy theorists.
    On Wednesday, weeks ahead of the anticipated report, members of the House Intelligence Committee received a classified briefing on the matter.    What classified information will be revealed to the committee, we may not find out.    But this much is clear: The government is taking the sighting of UFOs very seriously.
    In any conversation about this topic, it is imperative to be clear about what the term UFO means.    For many, UFOs conjure up imagery of flying saucers and little green men (LGM).    But, of course, that's not accurate.    UFOs literally means "Unidentified Flying Objects," or simply something in the air that is not explained.    For many, however, the connection between UFOs and LGM is just too strong, so a new phrase has been coined: Unidentified Aerial Phenomena, or UAPs, which may help sever the connection.
    If we break the mental link between UFOs and extraterrestrial life, then the idea of a UFO sighting seems more plausible.    Sure, it could be a saucer carrying LGM -- but it could also be a military craft or, most sadly for alien enthusiasts, an even more prosaic space object like the planet Venus, weather balloons, airplanes flying in formation or a myriad of ordinary phenomena -- often combined together.
    And one can't rule out the possibility of outright hoaxes.    Of course, if ordinary phenomena are identified as the cause of the sighting, the object is technically no longer a UFO.
    Although people who are convinced that alien visitation is real point to much older stories, one of the first modern examples of what we would call UFOs comes from reports by Allied fighter pilots returning from bombing runs over occupied Europe.    They told of glowing lights that followed their planes.    The pilots called these lights "foo fighters," and they believed them to be some sort of Nazi weapon.
    The real progenitor report of UFOs in mainstream culture occurred on June 24, 1947, when pilot Kenneth Arnold was flying near Mount Rainier in Washington State.    He reported nine illuminated objects, thin and shaped sort of like crescent rolls, and they moved in a line, like a kite's tale.    He estimated their speed as around 1,700 miles per hour, which was incredibly fast for the day.    The press took a heavy interest in the story of these mysterious flying objects.
    The term "flying saucers" came to our language accidentally.    On June 26, the Chicago Sun ran a headline "Supersonic Flying Saucers Sighted by Idaho Pilot."    However, the story told a different tale.    In an interview Arnold told reporters that the objects moved "like a saucer would if you skipped it across the water."    But the headline told made the term "flying saucer" ubiquitous.    Since then, many people have reported seeing saucer-shaped UFOs.    The power of suggestion is apparently real.
    Another UFO tale from the frenzy of the summer of 1947 is the reports of a crashed flying saucer at Roswell, New Mexico.    In July, the Roswell Daily Record headlined the capture of a flying saucer, but by the next day, the new reporting revealed that it had in fact been a weather balloon.
    The story lay dormant until in 1979, when the National Enquirer ran a piece in which an intelligence officer working at Roswell in 1947 claimed that the object was a flying saucer.    Documentaries followed, as did a 1980 book called "The Roswell Incident."    The public imagination had been captured.
    But connections with flying saucers aside, there is a real question as to what is going on when a strange object is observed in flying through the air.    Or maybe the better question is: "Is anything going on?"    That's what many people hope the forthcoming report from the Pentagon will tell us.
    The US military has long taken reports of UFOs seriously.    After all, whether these objects, which many have reported to move far more quickly than even the most advanced weaponry in the US arsenal, could be a military threat.    It doesn't matter if the objects are of extraterrestrial origin or some sort of advanced technology from another country.    It would be grossly irresponsible if the military didn't investigate.
    And it has.    For example, from 1947 to 1969, an Air Force effort called Project Blue Book investigated 12,618 reports of UFOs and found most of them to simply be ordinary phenomena.    When it shut down, there were still 701 UFO reports that had not been explained and none of the explanations of the understood reports involved LGM.
    More recently, a new effort to study UFOs was championed by then-Sen. Harry Reid.    This effort, entitled Advanced Aerospace Threat Identification Program or AATIP, operated from 2007 to 2012 and investigated UFO reports by US military personnel.    The explanation for shutting it down was simply that the funding was better spent on other programs.    In 2020 a similar program was started, called the Unidentified Aerial Phenomena Task Force.
    Luis Elizondo, former head of AATIP and sometimes called a real-world Fox Mulder, decried what he considered to be the project's premature termination.    He continues to urge the administration and the public to focus on what he considers to be a matter of crucial importance.
    So, what do I think about UFOs and LGM?    As a scientist, I think that extraterrestrial life is common in the universe.    After all, astronomers have discovered thousands of exoplanets and chemistry is chemistry.    Given the right conditions, life will arise from the same chemical reactions here we see here on Earth; and other chemical combinations are also possible.    Indeed, it boggles my mind to think that life has not evolved elsewhere.    I think it's likely that intelligent extraterrestrial life is relatively rare.
    Here on Earth, millions of species have evolved since life began, and only humanity has evolved the intelligence and abilities to develop a technologically advanced civilization.    And I think that most (probably all) UFOs are not observations of extraterrestrial craft.    Difficulties of interstellar travel aside, it seems to me to be inconceivable that an advanced species would find us interesting enough to visit, but not interesting enough to contact.    And, if they wanted to avoid contact, they're not being very stealthy about it.
    But I'm open to being proven wrong.    Personally, I very much want society to continue to fund programs that try to look for extraterrestrial life, especially SETI, the Search for Extraterrestrial Intelligence, which looks for radio transmissions from advanced civilizations around distant stars.    I also want to get to the bottom of UFO phenomena.    If it's advanced weapons from other countries, we should know.    And nobody would be more excited than I would be to find out that we're not alone in the cosmos and we're being visited.
    As Fox Mulder said, "I want to believe."    But first, we need incontrovertible proof.

6/17/2021 Massive Heatwave Grips West And Southwest Parts Of The U.S. by OAN Newsroom
A pedestrian takes a bottle of water at a Salvation Army hydration station during a heatwave
as temperatures hit 115-degrees, Tuesday, June 15, 2021, in Phoenix. (AP Photo/Ross D. Franklin)
    The western and central United States are suffering through a massive heat wave putting nearly 50 million people under either a heat advisory or an excessive heat warning.    Health officials are urging people to be extra alert now after months of pandemic lockdowns and restrictions.
    “This year has brought all kinds of changes in routine, lots of stress, lots of fatigue,” stated Jessica Strong, community health manager at Intermountain Primary Children’s Hospital.    “And so, that combined with the record temperatures we’re experiencing right now, unfortunately could be a recipe for disaster.”
    According to the National Weather Service, widespread excessive heat warnings and advisories are in effect for California, Nevada, Arizona and Utah.    Meanwhile, Salt Lake City set a heat record for the second day in a row after peaking at 107 degrees Tuesday. This is its hottest temperature ever recorded.
    Meanwhile in Texas, the scorching temperatures have sparked another round of power plant outages for the Electric Reliability Council of Texas (ERCOT) as temperatures topped 100 degrees on Monday.    ERCOT issued an advisory calling on Texas to reduce electric use as much as possible through Friday while urging there is a “very concerning” amount of power plant outages ongoing as a result of the heat waves.    Roughly 10,000 ERCOT customers of lost power, in turn, causing stress and panic among Texas residents.
    “It’s frustrating because I’m working from home,” stated Texas resident Paula Than.    “I have a dog who needs power, so it’s very frustrating to not have any answers.”
    This comes as temperatures have already broken dozens of record high across the region, including California, Arizona and Montana with more expected to fall this weekend.    The National Weather Service is warning that both daytime and overnight temperature records are likely to be broken by next week.
    The agency also urged pet owners to be attentive to animals when out for walks and when in cars.    It also issued fire danger advisories while noting such conditions can be dangerous and in some cases fatal.

6/18/2021 The Earth's core begins to have an unusual growth that science cannot explain by Entrepreneur en Español
    A new study by seismologists at the University of California, Berkeley, has found that the Earth's solid iron inner core has expanded faster on one side than the other, the reasons are still unknown.    However, it is known that this began when it began to freeze for more than 500 million years.
    The disproportionate growth was located under the Banda Sea of Indonesia and has removed heat from the Earth's core there more quickly than on the Brazilian side.    When only one side of the world freezes, the crystallization of iron accelerates, causing various consequences in the Earth's magnetic field.
    This field protects us from dangerous particles from the sun because convection in the outer core is driven by the release of heat from the inner core, which today drives the dynamo hypothesis.    The discovery arose from the fact that they noticed that seismic waves move faster when they pass between the north and south poles than through the equator.
    The experts did a series of computer simulations creating a map showing the growth of the Earth's core over the last billion years, with this they discovered that the unbalanced expansion has rapidly developed new iron crystals on the east side of the core.
    "The debate about the age of the inner core has been going on for a long time," said Daniel Frost, assistant project scientist at BSL.    “The complication is: if the inner core has only been able to exist for 1.5 billion years, based on what we know about how it loses heat and how hot it is, then where did the oldest magnetic field come from?    That's where this idea of dissolved light elements that then freeze came from.”

6/19/2021 UFOs are real. That’s the easy part. Now here’s the hard part by Dylan Matthews, Vox
    All of a sudden, serious people are starting to take UFOs — unidentified flying objects — seriously.
© Official UAP Footage from the USG A still from the GOFAST UFO video.
    “There’s footage and records of objects in the skies that — we don’t know exactly what they are, we can’t explain how they moved, their trajectory,” former President Barack Obama told CBS’s James Corden.
    Many in Congress are curious, too, and this month the body is set to receive a report originating from a Pentagon task force detailing its investigations into unidentified aerial phenomena (UAPs), the preferred term for UFOs among specialists.    The Pentagon Office of the     Inspector General is also evaluating the government’s approach to UAPs with an eye to strengthening its monitoring and response.    The highest levels of the American government are very, very interested in what’s up there in the sky.
    When I was growing up, UFOs were the province of late-night talk radio and The X-Files.    They had a roughly similar level of respectability to theories that the 9/11 attacks were an inside job, or that the CIA killed John F. Kennedy.
    That stigma appears to be fading somewhat.    In 1996, Gallup found that only 47 percent of Americans thought people reporting UFO sightings were seeing something real, and not imagining it.    In 2019, when Gallup polled again, a majority, 56 percent, thought UFO observers were seeing something real.
© IMDb The truth, and I cannot stress this enough, is out there.
    Interestingly, the share of Americans saying the government “knows more about UFOs than it’s telling us” fell very slightly from 1996 to 2019.    That may reflect the fact that the government has confirmed the reality of some of the most prominent UFO videos.
    In a somewhat surprising development that helped kick-start the current round of UFO fascination, the government confirmed the authenticity of two videos featured in a 2017 New York Times story and a third one leaked a few months later, each of which depicts US Navy fighter pilots observing a strange object whose nature appears baffling to them.
    We still don’t fully know what these videos depict, and at the risk of disappointing some readers, there’s no evidence that they depict alien aircraft.    But it’s hard to overstate just how much these videos have changed the way the public, the government, and the mainstream press (most notably the New York Times) think and talk about UFOs — to the point where people may have misconceptions about what exactly we know given the available evidence.
    Here’s a closer look at what these videos actually depict (and what they do not), how they came to light, and whether the resurgence of interest in UFOs should make us reassess what we think we know about UFOs and life beyond Earth.
    The three canonical UFO videos behind the current wave of interest.
    The resurgence in interest in UFOs — or UAPs, the preferred term in the Defense Department — can generally be credited to three specific videos captured by the US Navy.    The first two were leaked to the New York Times and written about on the front page in the December 17, 2017, print edition of the paper, while the third was leaked a few months later.
    The first of these incidents, and probably the most important, is what’s called the USS Nimitz encounter, named after the supercarrier from which the jet pilot who observed the UFO took off.
    In November 2004, about 100 miles off the coast of San Diego, Cmdr. David Fravor and the pilot on his wing, Lt. Cmdr. Amy Dietrich, reported seeing what Fravor called a “white tic-tac looking object” the size of an F/A-18 with no wings, markings, or exhaust plumes, that, when approached, “turns abruptly and starts mimicking me.”    Eventually, Fravor told 60 Minutes’ Bill Whitaker, it simply “disappeared.”
    The USS Princeton, a cruiser in the area that had asked Fravor and Dietrich to investigate anomalous aerial phenomena, reacquired the target “seconds later,” Whitaker reports, “60 miles away.”    Another flight crew took a video of the object using their forward-looking infrared camera (FLIR), leading the video to be dubbed the “FLIR1 video”:
    An important note here: While Fravor and Dietrich believe that the object they reported seeing and the one in the FLIR1 video are one and the same, it’s hard to be sure of that identification.    And, lacking such certainty, we also cannot be sure the object flew some 60 miles in a matter of seconds, a feat that explains much of why the object seemed so strange and impressive.
    The second video, labeled “GIMBAL,” was taken by a fighter jet from the carrier USS Theodore Roosevelt, flying by the coast of Florida in 2015.    “This is a f***ing drone, bro,” one pilot is recorded saying.    “There’s a whole fleet of them,” another adds.
    The third video, “GOFAST,” also recorded in 2015 and first publicly released a few months after the other videos, in March 2018, features audio of laughing, audibly excited pilots observing a small white object appearing to fly over water at an extremely rapid pace:br>
    These three videos set off the current wave of interest in UFOs/UAPs, but they’ve been followed by at least a couple more.    This year, Pentagon spokesperson Susan Gough confirmed that two recently leaked videos were taken by Navy pilots.
    The first, taken above the USS Russell destroyer near San Diego in July 2019, depicts a “pyramid-like” object:
    The other, taken that same month and in that same geographic area by the USS Omaha combat ship, shows what appears in the infrared camera to be a spherical object.    Both videos were brought to light by filmmaker and reporter Jeremy Corbell, an enthusiastic believer in the extraterrestrial hypothesis (the theory that UFO sightings reflect contact with alien civilizations) and an advocate for greater UFO disclosure:
How a group of UFO enthusiasts helped mainstream UFOs
    The story of how Navy videos depicting UFOs landed on the Times’s front page is its own fascinating saga.    The best single account I’ve seen is Gideon Lewis-Kraus’s in the New Yorker, but here’s a summary.
    The story begins in 2007, at the instigation of Robert Bigelow, a Nevada businessman with a fortune from extended-stay hotels, an aerospace firm, and a deep, abiding interest in UFOs.    That year, Bigelow worked with Sen. Harry Reid — a campaign donation recipient — to secure $22 million in “black budget” money (that is, appropriated by Congress outside public committees) for the DOD to investigate UFO>     The Bigelow-centric phase of the investigation, by all accounts, was fairly conspiratorial, producing documents like a report with a “photo of a supposed tracking device that supposed aliens had supposedly implanted in a supposed abductee,” as Lewis-Kraus, who saw the document, describes it.
    Enter veteran DOD counterintelligence officer Luis Elizondo, who in 2010 took over the effort, rechristened as the Advanced Aerospace Threat Identification Program (AATIP).    AATIP studied videos and encounters like the Nimitz incident, the GIMBAL video, and the GOFAST video, and convinced Elizondo that something bizarre and worthy of exploration was taking place.    But Elizondo found himself frustrated by the lack of departmental buy-in.
    This is where Blink-182 comes in.    Tom DeLonge, the lead vocalist and guitarist behind such classics as “First Date,” “All the Small Things,” and, of course, “Aliens Exist,” has had a longstanding interest in the paranormal.
    According to an extensive 2018 profile in the Fader by Kelsey McKinney, DeLonge has “consistently claimed to believe” that “UFOs are real, aliens are real and they visit us episodically, the U.S. government has known about alien life for decades … and the U.S. government has a real live alien species locked up somewhere” — among other things.
    To that end, DeLonge began putting together To The Stars Academy, which in his vision would become a leading source of UFO-related expertise and of related media projects.    In that role, he became an important convener of ex-government officials with an interest in UFOs — starting with Luis Elizondo, who left the DOD in 2017, and the man who would become his main partner in UFO evangelism, Christopher Mellon.
    Mellon, a member of the prominent Mellon family of Pittsburgh who served as deputy assistant secretary of defense for intelligence in the Clinton and George W. Bush administrations, had a longstanding interest in UFOs, and began giving interviews arguing for increased disclosure around 2016.
    “To approach UFOs rationally, we must maintain the agnostic position regarding their nature or origin, because we simply don’t know the answers yet.”
    “Tom [DeLonge] called me out of the blue one day,” Mellon recalls.    “He saw an article I’d written.    … He was starting this organization and was wondering if I would want to get involved.”    DeLonge connected him with Elizondo, and both joined To The Stars as advisers.
What we know — and don't know — about aliens and UFOs
    Mellon had been outside of government for many years at this point, but still had sources in the Pentagon, which is how he and To The Stars got access to the three videos above.
    “Somebody met me in the parking lot and passed [the videos] off. It had documentation stating it was approved for public release.    It was unclassified,” Mellon told Lewis-Kraus.    To the best of my knowledge, the person inside the Pentagon who leaked to Mellon is still unknown.
    The To The Stars team then looped in a journalist with an interest in the subject, Leslie Kean.
The New York Times and the mainstreaming of UFO speculation
    Kean, like Mellon a scion of a Northeast political dynasty (her uncle, Thomas Kean, served two terms as governor of New Jersey and chaired the 9/11 Commission), had been interested in aliens and UFOs for years.
    In 2010, she had published a book compiling firsthand UFO sightings from what she considered credible sources; John Podesta, the former White House chief of staff under Clinton and a huge UFO fan, wrote the foreword.
    “To approach UFOs rationally, we must maintain the agnostic position regarding their nature or origin, because we simply don’t know the answers yet,” Kean writes in the book’s introduction.
    This is indicative of Kean’s broader approach: She is clearly sympathetic to arguments for extraterrestrial or paranormal explanations of mysterious phenomena, but focuses on cases she views as credible and supportable with empirical evidence, which could be more persuasive to people on the fence.
    This is true not just about aliens.    Kean’s follow-up to her UFO book was Surviving Death, a decidedly non-agnostic argument (later adapted into a Netflix miniseries) for the reality of an afterlife, reincarnation, and telepathy.
    “Human beings have extraordinary mental abilities that science cannot explain,” Kean writes in the book’s introduction, abilities that “may be controversial” but “have been documented by legitimate scientists for many years,” known as “psi” or extrasensory perception (ESP).
    Kean’s efforts to the contrary, parapsychological claims like this are not widely accepted in psychology.    When a Cornell scientist purported to have conducted lab experiments showing psi is real, the main response in the field was that because psi is obviously fake, the finding meant that prevailing methods in psychology were totally broken.
    In any case, Kean continued to maintain a steady interest in UFOs, serving with Mellon on the board of the nonprofit UFODATA, which supports scientific, agnostic investigations in UFOs.    Per Lewis-Kraus, Mellon and To The Stars offered her the UFO videos and supporting documentation on the condition that Kean place the story in the New York Times.    Kean told me she wasn’t sure the offer was so explicitly conditional, but that the goal was always to place a story in the Times.
    Kean worked with Ralph Blumenthal, a 45-year veteran of the paper who had retired in 2009.    Blumenthal was then working on a biography, now released, of John Mack, a Harvard Medical School professor who became convinced that the purported alien abductees he was interviewing were telling the truth, despite the lack of physical evidence for their claims and the possibility that the experiences they described were simply sleep paralysis.
    “I believe … that Mack was onto something,” Blumenthal told one interviewer.    He added to me, “I went very carefully over [Mack’s] research, and I must say that the so-called skeptics, who are very quick to debunk a lot of this field from the simplest UFO sightings to alien encounters, have not done the research that people in the field have done.”
    Blumenthal was, naturally, intrigued by what Kean was offering, and they set off to pitch a science story to the editor of the New York Times.    Blumenthal told me, and documented in a “Times Insider” column for the paper, that he took the story directly to Dean Baquet, the Times’s top editor.
    “I want to make a clear distinction between the material in my book, which is about alien encounters reported by people, and UFOs,” Blumenthal clarified to me.    “It is much easier to interest people at the Times in a story about UFOs than about alien encounters.”
    On UFOs, he had Navy pilot testimony and videos to lend the story credibility.    “Maybe [alien encounters] will become part of the dialogue at some point,” Kean told me, “but it’s not going to become part of the mainstream dialogue at this stage.    We’re just not there yet.”
    Blumenthal and Kean’s effort culminated in two pieces posted online on December 16, 2017, for the next day’s print edition: the front-page, A1 story revealing the existence of AATIP and the contents of the FLIR1 and GIMBAL videos, and a story deeper in the paper interviewing Fravor and Lt. Cmdr. Jim Slaight, also in an F/A-18 during the Nimitz encounter, about what they saw.
    The latter piece was preceded by the following disclaimer:
    The following recounts an incident in 2004 that advocates of research into U.F.O.s have said is the kind of event worthy of more investigation, and that was studied by a Pentagon program that investigated U.F.O.s.    Experts caution that earthly explanations often exist for such incidents, and that not knowing the explanation does not mean that the event has interstellar origins.
    It took years, but eventually in September 2019 the Pentagon confirmed that the two videos in the Times, as well as GOFAST which was released a few months later by To The Stars, were authentic.    On April 27, 2020, it formally released them itself.
    Beyond the initial disclosure of the Navy videos, the Times’s coverage has ventured into somewhat more speculative territory.
    In that December 2017 story, it repeated claims that a Bigelow facility was housing “metal alloys and other materials … recovered from unidentified aerial phenomena,” alloys that Blumenthal told MSNBC government researchers were struggling to identify.    That claim earned immediate pushback from chemists who found the notion of the Pentagon recovering unclassifiable mystery alloys implausible.
    In a July 2020 story, Kean and Blumenthal passed along a claim from astrophysicist and contractor Eric W. Davis that “he gave a classified briefing to a Defense Department agency as recently as March about retrievals from ‘off-world vehicles not made on this earth.’
    Davis is a bit of a perennial figure in stories about offbeat Pentagon investigations.    In 2004, he received $7.5 million from the Air Force to study “psychic teleportation,” or the ability to transport yourself between locations with the power of your mind.    The US military has long paid for long-shot investigations into alleged paranormal activity (see Jon Ronson’s book The Men Who Stare at Goats for a longer history).
    By passing along Davis’s claims without verifying them, the Times’s July 2020 story effectively suggested that alien civilizations have reached earth with “off-world vehicles” that the Pentagon has retrieved, a truly extraordinary claim in need of extraordinary evidence.    The story did note, “No crash artifacts have been publicly produced for independent verification,” and acknowledged that astrophysicists contend that “Even lacking a plausible terrestrial explanation does not make an extraterrestrial one the most likely.”
    I asked Blumenthal about the choice to pass along the news of Davis’s briefings without further verification of his claims — after all, the Times spent years on a story looking into whether Donald Trump cheated on his taxes, so it seems reasonable that a claim suggesting alien materials here on Earth would receive similar vetting.
    Blumenthal defended the inclusion by noting the piece stopped “short of saying that we have verified information that material was recovered.    We just said that congressional staff was shown a briefing slide that referenced these materials.    It was very carefully worded, because we didn’t want to get ahead of the information we had. … But we thought it was quite an advance to get that into the paper.”
    Kean told me she confirmed with numerous sources that such vehicles have been discussed in high-level briefings by Davis.    She also went a bit further in vouching for the substance of Davis’s claim.    “I absolutely think Eric Davis is a respectable, credible person,” she told me, adding later, “The fact that a government agency has been briefing congressmen on that topic, and briefing many other people at high levels, for many years, is highly suggestive that there’s something to it.”
The prevailing explanations of the videos
    No one knows with a high level of confidence what the Navy videos are depicting, or if they are even depicting the same thing.    But explanations generally fall into one of four categories:
  • Natural or non-military phenomena (like a pelican or civilian aircraft or camera error)
  • Secret US government aviation technology
  • Secret aviation technology from the military of another country, most likely Russia or China
  • Aliens
    The main expositor of the first hypothesis is Mick West, a British video game programmer known for his work on the Tony Hawk skateboarding series, who now devotes his time to his website Metabunk and the broader project of debunking what he regards as conspiracy theories, including “chemtrails” and extraterrestrial explanations of UFOs.
    West had laid out his theory of the three videos in many places, but the below video is to my mind the most helpful summary:
    The FLIR1 video is “entirely consistent with being a plane that’s very far away,” West says.    “Radar’s great if you know where to look, but if you’re looking in sector A and it’s in sector Q” you’re going to miss it — which is what he thinks happened in the Nimitz case.
    West believes the GIMBAL video is most likely the glare of a jet’s engine; he says he has replicated this kind of image using his own infrared cameras.    Its apparent rotation, he says, is due to a limitation in the camera’s ability to move and track the object.    GOFAST, he thinks, is a lost weather balloon (or perhaps a pelican), which — because it’s midway between the jet observing it and the water — appears (misleadingly) to be going as fast as the plane itself when it’s really staying still.
    So that’s number one, the naturalistic explanation.    Elizondo, Mellon, Fravor, and other UFO disclosure advocates and ex-pilots do not just dispute this argument but are actively infuriated by it.
    “I don’t know why people even take [Mick West] seriously,” Mellon told me.    “He knows nothing about these sensor systems, he deliberately excludes 90 percent of the pertinent information and in the process maligns our military personnel.    ‘Oh, Dave Fravor doesn’t know what he’s looking at.    Oh, those guys don’t know how to operate those infrared systems.’    Who the hell does he think he is?    These guys are the real deal. He’s a desk jockey sitting in front of a monitor.”
    West, for his part, told me, “I don’t ignore the pilots.    I try to engage with them to resolve issues like this.    I respect their skills and experience but recognize (as they themselves have said) that they are human, not perfect.”
    Elizondo is sometimes more charitable to the skeptics, even giving an hour-long interview to West on his YouTube channel.    In general, his response was to argue that West was looking just at videos and not at the totality of information that’s available to researchers in the Pentagon.    On Nimitz/FLIR1, he told West, “Based on my experience in the AATIP program, there is certainly additional information that is very, very compelling.    People are going to say, ‘Well, what is it, Lue, why don’t you tell us?    We want to know.’    Well, I can’t” — it’s still classified.     But, Elizondo advised, this corroborating information might start to trickle out soon.
    As a layperson, I’m sort of at a loss of what to make of these disputes.    West’s explanations seem plausible, but I haven’t been in a physics class since 2007, I have never flown a fighter jet, and I have no expertise with infrared cameras.
    It also seems perfectly plausible that Elizondo and Mellon are right and there is private government data proving the skeptical explanations wrong — but it’s impossible to evaluate that without access to such data.
    In any case, “it’s a weather balloon” strikes me as more plausible than “it’s aliens,” at least until we see the disconfirming evidence to which Elizondo is alluding.
    The other two non-extraterrestrial explanations — that it’s secret US military aircraft, or secret foreign military aircraft — are even tougher to nail down.    The DOD is not in the habit of blabbing about secretive air tests, especially ones that (in this scenario) it would be hiding from Navy fighter pilots operating in the same airspace.    The Russian and Chinese militaries are really not in the habit of disclosing trade secrets.
    Mellon has said that he’s confident the vehicles aren’t ours, because he has a high enough security clearance that he would have heard about them in that case.
    Maybe!    But I imagine there were many people with high security clearances who, say, did not know that in the 1950s and ’60s the CIA was secretly dosing people with LSD to see if it could be used to coerce confessions.    The US government is a vast, sprawling behemoth that’s doing any number of strange things at any given time, so Mellon’s point — while plausible — doesn’t strike me as dispositive.    That said, the Times’s Cooper and Julian Barnes have reported that the UAP Task Force report will conclude that the UAPs in the videos were not US military aircraft, which would back up Mellon’s claim considerably.
    What about the Russian and Chinese militaries?    That’s a common theory among pilots.    Pilot Lt. Ryan Graves told 60 Minutes’ Bill Whitaker, that “The highest probability is that it’s a threat observation program,” perhaps from Russia or China.
    The best argument for this possibility I’ve seen comes from Tyler Rogoway of the War Zone, a publication focused on defense issues.    As Rogoway notes, there is a huge amount of precedent for this kind of aerial surveillance: The US engaged in this activity extensively vis-à-vis the Soviet Union, and tests of surveillance aircraft in locations like Roswell, New Mexico, and Area 51, Nevada, have generated many past UFO reports.
© Bernard Friel/Education Images/Universal Images Group via Getty Images Area 51 is a highly classified United States Air Force facility located near Rachel, Nevada.
    The adversarial drone explanation would also help explain why pilots and ships, in particular, are seeing so many of these objects: Why wouldn’t the Russian or Chinese militaries want to learn more about the US military this way?    At the same time, Rogoway concedes that there are some incidents that are difficult to explain in this framework.
    But a crucial point he makes is that there’s very little in the video evidence, including the three blockbuster UFO videos detailed above, that suggests vehicles with abilities unknown to humankind, writing, “Beyond the so-called ‘Tic-Tac’ video that just looked like a blurry little Tic Tac, I have seen nothing in any government ‘UAP’ videos that supposedly show unexplainable capabilities or craft that actually portray that.    In fact, quite the opposite.”
    In other words, they’re probably not from an advanced alien civilization — which is probably the most common misconception I’ve found in talking to friends and families about the resurgence of UFO talk.    Just so we’re clear: These videos do not amount to the Pentagon or the government admitting that the extraterrestrial hypothesis is true.
    Kean, for her part, while open to the extraterrestrial hypothesis, also expressed openness to the foreign military aircraft hypothesis, telling me, “I think Tyler Rogoway does great work … it’s an open question.”
    So what is true?    I’m personally left agnostic by all the evidence.    I’m certainly not persuaded these are alien aircraft, but the evidence for skeptical explanations like weather balloons or civilian airplanes or foreign drones is incomplete as well.
    The only sure thing is something odd is happening — and that we’ve just started trying to understand what it is.

6/19/2021 Tropical Storm Claudette Floods Parts Of Gulf Coast by OAN Newsroom
Debris covering the street in East Brewton, Ala., after tropical storm Claudette demolished or
badly damaged at least 50 homes in the small town just north of the Florida border. (Alicia Jossey via AP)
    Louisiana, Mississippi and Alabama have been hit by a tropical storm that has resulted in flash floods and high winds.    Reports on Saturday, said tropical storm Claudette brought nine inches of rain to parts of Louisiana.
    The U.S. National Hurricane Center says the storm is expected to cause flash flooding across the region, which will continue throughout the weekend. In Slidell, Louisiana about 30 miles north east of New Orleans, cars were seen abandoned in flooded roads.
    “When we left, about four minutes ago, we had about four inches throughout our entire house,” reported a Slidell resident.    “That happened within about an hour, or so from being dry to about four inches.”
    Tornado watches and warnings were also posted from Mississippi to Florida with threats of rip currents and high surf near the shoreline.    Experts have urged residents to restock disaster kits, food, and water.
    Claudette is expected to weaken to a tropical depression before becoming a tropical storm again when it moves into the Carolinas.

6/21/2021 NASA's sudden interest in Venus is all about climate change by Mark Whittington, opinion contributor     Recently, NASA Administrator Bill Nelson announced that the space agency will send not one but two robotic probes to Venus under the Discovery program.    The probes are DAVINCI+ and VERITAS.    The two probes, which are due to be launched by the end of the 2020s, will be the first dedicated NASA missions to the second planet from the sun in decades.    Why Venus and why now?
© NASA NASA's sudden interest in Venus is all about climate change
    After all, a great many planetary probes, orbiters, landers and rovers have gone to Mars.    Probes from three nations, the United States, China and the UAE, arrived at the Red Planet in 2021.    Mars is getting all of the attention because some day humans from the planet Earth are going to pay it a visit.    SpaceX's Elon Musk wants to take settlers to the Red Planet to live there.
    Also, by choosing two missions to Venus, NASA has decided not to fund missions to Io, a volcanic moon of Jupiter, or Triton, a moon of Neptune.    Either undertaking would have been at least as scientifically interesting as Venus.
    Nobody is anxious to visit the surface of Venus anytime soon.    Venus is a hell world with an atmosphere composed of carbon dioxide and clouds of sulfuric acid.    The average surface temperature is roughly 900 degrees Fahrenheit.    The atmospheric pressure on the surface of Venus is 90 times that of the Earth's surface.    Robotic probes that have landed on Venus, such as the Soviet Venera, have lasted hours before being crushed and cooked by the extreme conditions.
    The reason for NASA's sudden decision to send probes to Venus has to do with the Biden administration's new priority of studying and doing something about climate change.    NASA scientists have concluded that for the first 2 billion years of its existence, Venus was remarkably like Earth, with oceans and perhaps life of some sort.    However, a runaway greenhouse effect occurred that eventually created the planet that Venus is today.
NASA plans two new missions to Venus, its first in decades
    Live Science suggests that, while the scientific community holds to a growing consensus that current climate change on Earth is driven by human action, mainly by carbon dioxide emitted by power plants and automobiles, natural processes can also cause the phenomenon.    The sun's output and changes in the Earth's axial tilt can affect climate.    How much climate change is caused by human activity and how much is caused by natural processes will inform public policy responses to the phenomenon.
    Venus provides a model of how climate change can occur entirely due to natural processes.    No one thinks that ancient Venusians caused the phenomenon with SUVs and fossil fuel plants.    Hence, NASA is sending two robotic probes that will delve into the mechanisms that changed Venus from an Earth-like world to the uninhabitable mess that it is today.    The space agency describes what the two probes will do.
    DAVINCI+ will "measure the composition of Venus' atmosphere to understand how it formed and evolved, as well as determine whether the planet ever had an ocean.    The mission consists of a descent sphere that will plunge through the planet's thick atmosphere, making precise measurements of noble gases and other elements to understand why Venus' atmosphere is a runaway hothouse compared the Earth's."    The probe will also "return the first high-resolution pictures of the unique geological features on Venus known as 'tesserae,' which may be comparable to Earth's continents, suggesting that Venus has plate tectonics."
    VERITAS will "map Venus' surface to determine the planet's geologic history and understand why it developed so differently from Earth.    Orbiting Venus with a synthetic aperture radar, VERITAS will chart surface elevations over nearly the entire planet to create 3D reconstructions of topography and confirm whether processes such as plate tectonics and volcanism are still active on Venus."    The probe will also "map infrared emissions from Venus' surface to map its rock type, which is largely unknown, and determine whether active volcanoes are releasing water vapor into the atmosphere."
    Climate scientists, like all scientists, are hungry for more data.    Venus provides another opportunity to understand what causes climate to change besides studying the process on Earth.    With more data at hand, public policy decision makers will be better able to enact laws and regulations that will moderate climate change on Earth without tanking the economy. "Follow the science" is often used as a political slogan.    But it is a sound practice so long as the science is backed up by data.
    Mark Whittington, who writes frequently about space and politics, has published a political study of space exploration entitled Why is It So Hard to Go Back to the Moon? as well as "The Moon, Mars and Beyond," and, most recently, "Why is America going back to the Moon."    He blogs at Curmudgeons Corner.    He is published in the Wall Street Journal, Forbes, The Hill, USA Today, the LA Times and the Washington Post, among other venues.

6/21/2021 Australia’s New Deputy PM Casts Shadow Over 2050 Net Zero Emissions Ambition by Colin Packham
FILE PHOTO: Barnaby Joyce, Australia's Deputy Prime Minister and Minister for Agriculture and Water Resources,
during an official signing ceremony at Parliament House in Canberra, Australia March 24, 2017. REUTERS/David Gray/File Photo
    CANBERRA (Reuters) -A climate change sceptic will be Australia’s new deputy prime minister after a leadership revolt in the coalition government’s minor party, making it harder for Prime Minister Scott Morrison to achieve a commitment of zero net emissions by 2050.
    Australia’s reliance on coal-fired power makes it one of the world’s largest carbon emitters per capita, but its conservative government has steadfastly backed the country’s fossil fuel industries, arguing tougher action on emissions would cost jobs.
    Morrison in recent months has been softening his position saying Australia wants to achieve net zero emissions as soon as possible, “preferably” by 2050, but that technology must lead the way not political targets.
    Climate change sceptic Barnaby Joyce, who was deputy prime minister from 2016 to 2018 but resigned after an extramarital affair with a former staffer, won a National party leadership vote on Monday defeating incumbent Michael McCormack.
    By convention, the leader of the rural-based National party becomes deputy prime minister in a Liberal-National government.
    Joyce, who will be sworn in as deputy prime minister on Tuesday, said his party will only support an energy policy that bolsters the government’s appeal in regional Australia – which is heavily dependent on fossil fuel mining.
    “I want to make sure that we have a process that we can go to places such as central Queensland (a major mining state).. and give us the very best chance of winning the next election,” Joyce told reporters in Canberra.
    Joyce’s assent is likely to derail Morrison’s hope of strengthening Australia’s climate targets amid a concerted push by U.S. President Joe Biden for countries to commit to a pledge of zero net emission by 2050.
    “Barnaby Joyce has made it known that he wants the National party to be independent and there won’t be any room for compromise on net zero by 2050,” said Haydon Manning, a political science professor at Flinders University in South Australia.
    Joyce has previously said he was willing to vote against any government legislation that costs jobs as a result of higher climate standards.
    Unlike other developed nations, Australia has refused to budge from its Paris Agreement commitment to cut its greenhouse gas emissions by 26% to 28% from 2005 levels by 2030.
(Reporting by Colin Packham; Editing by Christopher Cushing and Michael Perry)

6/22/2021 Scientists Found an Ancient Fossilized Rhino, and It Could Be the Largest Mammal in History by Nashia Baker, Martha Stewart
    The world around us continues to evolve every day, but that doesn't mean ancient findings are no longer exciting.    Researchers just found a huge rhinoceros fossil in China, and it now appears to be the biggest mammal discovered in history, clocking in at 26 feet in length, 16 feet in height, and 24 tons in weight.    The team published their findings in the journal Communications Biology and explained that this rhino is four times the size of the largest elephant in Africa (which currently reigns as the biggest animal currently on Earth) and lived in Asia 26-and-a-half million years ago.
© Provided by Martha Stewart Living Courtesy of Chinese Academy of Sciences
    Researchers think this fossil, officially named Paraceratherium linxiaense, looks like an oversized tapir, which is an herbivorous mammal that also resembles a pig. The hornless ancient rhino, though, appeared to have a narrow skull, short trunk, and a long, muscular neck.    "It had a body weight of 24 tons, similar to the total weight of four African elephant or eight white rhinos," Professor Tao Deng of the Chinese Academy of Sciences, the lead author, told SWNS.
    Related: Scientists Found Fossilized Footprints in the Grand Canyon That Could Be Over 300 Million Years Old
    "It was five meters (16.4ft) high at the shoulders and eight meters (26.25ft) long.    The giant rhino's long legs were good for running.    Its head can reach a height of seven meters (23ft) to browse leaves of tree tops," Deng explained of the rhino.    "It’s prehensile nose trunk was extremely useful to wrap around branches-allowing the sharp front teeth to strip off the leaves.    Its tusk-like incisors are primarily used to break twigs and strip bark, as well as to bend higher branches."
    The researchers found this fossil in a prehistoric animal graveyard in Gansu, China.    Since it's so rare to find such preserved pieces of animals, this discovery will help the team learn even more about this rhino and its genealogical descendants.    "It is one of the largest land mammals that ever lived.    The giant rhino has primarily been found in Asia.    But its evolutionary relationships remain unclear," Deng shared.    "It raises the possibility the giant rhino could have passed through the Tibetan region before it became the elevated plateau it is today.    From there, it may have reached the Indian-Pakistani subcontinent in the Oligocene epoch between 34 and 23 million years ago where other giant rhino specimens have been found."

6/22/2021 World Bank Vows To Keep Board Apprised Of Climate Action Progress by Andrea Shalal
FILE PHOTO: Wildflowers bloom on a hill overlooking a fjord filled with icebergs
near the south Greenland town of Narsaq July 27, 2009. REUTERS/Bob Strong
    WASHINGTON (Reuters) -The World Bank on Tuesday agreed to boost its spending on climate change to 35% from 28% and to provide annual progress reports to its board after its draft climate change action plan came under fire for lacking a clear implementation strategy.
    The bank, the largest source of climate finance for developing countries, said it would also publicly release a roadmap to show how it will help those nations meet their Paris climate accord targets.
    Bank officials pledged to provide the board with regular updates, with details to be included in an addendum to the plan, Genevieve Connors, who oversees tracking and reporting of climate finance for the World Bank, told Reuters.
    “This is really transformational in the way we do business,” she said.    “One of the central differences of this (climate change action plan) is that we as the World Bank Group have now elevated climate to be central to everything that we do.”
    The World Bank released some details of its five-year plan in April, saying it would help developing countries reduce greenhouse gas emissions by aiding the transition out of coal. But it drew fire for stopping short of halting all funding of fossil fuel projects.
    The bank’s plan calls for increase the amount it dedicates to climate finance, which has totaled $83 billion over the past five years, peaking at $21.4 billion in 2020.
    Environmental campaigners took aim at the new plan on Tuesday, saying its failure to completely end fossil fuel investments undermined the broader goals.
    “The World Bank Group’s selective approach to phasing out fossil fuels is about as effective as throwing both water and gasoline at a house fire,” said Luisa Galvao, a campaigner with the U.S. arm of Friends of the Earth.
    Connors said the bank would assess gas investments on a case-by-case basis and that gas projects would face high thresholds to win funding.
    In some cases, it makes sense to proceed with gas projects, Connors said, adding that there was no firm deadline for halting all such investments.
    “It’s a moving target,” she said.    “We see it as a journey towards decarbonisation … but our countries are all on different pathways and there always may be extenuating circumstances in which a particular natural gas project may make sense.    But the hurdles are high, and proof needs to be shown.”
(Reporting by Andrea Shalal in Washington; additional reporting by Kate Abnett in Brussels; Editing by Lisa Shumaker)

6/24/2021 A Previously Unknown Type of Ancient Human Has Been Discovered in The Levant by Michelle Starr, Science Alert
    More than 120,000 years ago in the Levant, Homo sapiens lived side-by-side with a type of ancient human we didn't know about - until now.
© Avi Levin and Ilan Theiler, Sackler Faculty of Medicine, Tel Aviv University The Nesher Ramla bones.
    That's according to new fossil evidence of this human uncovered by archaeologists - fragments of ancient skull and jaw bones, and teeth, which seem to fit both Neanderthal and Homo sapiens, but also... neither.
    This newly discovered hominin type could be the ancestor to Neanderthal populations in Europe, answering the mystery of how these populations were infiltrated with H. sapiens DNA before their arrival in those regions.    They also appear to be an ancestor to the archaic Homo populations in Asia.
    Archaeologists have called the new ancient human the Nesher Ramla people, after the archaeological dig site in Israel where they were discovered.
    "The discovery of a new type of Homo is of great scientific importance," said anthropologist Israel Hershkovitz of Tel Aviv University in Israel, lead author of a paper describing the bones.
    "It enables us to make new sense of previously found human fossils, add another piece to the puzzle of human evolution, and understand the migrations of humans in the old world.    Even though they lived so long ago, in the late middle Pleistocene (474,000-130,000 years ago), the Nesher Ramla people can tell us a fascinating tale, revealing a great deal about their descendants' evolution and way of life."
    The remains were excavated from around 8 meters below ground, at the open air Nesher Ramla site.    There, archaeologists found a large cache of fossils - mostly of animal bones, but also some stone tools - and some intriguing fragments of ancient human bones.
    They consisted of parietal bones - the top and sides of the skull - and an almost complete mandible, including a complete molar and most of the dental roots.    The researchers dated these remains to between 140,000 and 120,000 years ago.
    Virtual reconstruction, analysis, and comparison of these bones against other fossilized hominin bones revealed something interesting.    The mandible and teeth seemed more like the jaws and teeth of Neanderthals; but the parietal bones were more similar to those of archaic Homo.
© Provided by ScienceAlert - nesher ramla reconstruction Reconstruction of the skull. (Tel Aviv University)
    In addition, the reconstructed skull was very different from that of H. sapiens, with larger teeth, a different skull structure, and no chin.    The discovery suggests one of the last surviving populations of Middle Pleistocene Homo in the region, from about 400,000 years ago.
    After the arrival of H. sapiens 200,000 years ago, the two types of humans shared the Levant for around 100,000 years, the researchers said.
    "This is an extraordinary discovery," said archaeologist Yossi Zaidner of The Hebrew University of Jerusalem in Israel, lead author on a second paper describing the cultural context of the assemblage.
    "We had never imagined that alongside H. sapiens, archaic Homo roamed the area so late in human history.    The archaeological finds associated with human fossils show that Nesher Ramla Homo possessed advanced stone-tool production technologies and most likely interacted with the local H. sapiens."
    The bones yielded no DNA that would allow a more exact determination of the Nesher Ramla people, but the researchers believe their discovery has important implications for our understanding of hominin emergence and migration.
    Since the Levant connects Asia, Africa, and the Mediterranean, humans migrating between these regions would have passed through, making it a potential hotspot for intermingling.
    "Our findings imply that the famous Neanderthals of Western Europe are only the remnants of a much larger population that lived here in the Levant - and not the other way around," Hershkovitz said.
    The researchers also found similarities with other fossils that had previously puzzled scientists, because they could not be fit neatly into either the Neanderthal or Homo categories.    Fossils from the Tabun cave from 160,000 years ago, the Zuttiyeh cave from 250,000 years ago, and the Qesem cave from 400,000 years ago may also belong to the Nesher Ramla people.
    If that's the case, the findings could also solve the mystery of a "missing" population of Neanderthals, who had mated with H. sapiens over 200,000 years ago, before the latter's arrival in Europe.    The traces of this ancient association in European Neanderthal DNA had puzzled scientists.
    "The oldest fossils that show Neanderthal features are found in Western Europe, so researchers generally believe the Neanderthals originated there.    However, migrations of different species from the Middle East into Europe may have provided genetic contributions to the Neanderthal gene pool during the course of their evolution," said anthropologist Rolf Quam of Binghamton University.
    "This is a complicated story, but what we are learning is that the interactions between different human species in the past were much more convoluted than we had previously appreciated."

6/25/2021 Earth is visible from star systems - Peer-reviewed report: 319 new ones to come by Gabriela Miranda, USA TODAY
    For decades, humans have researched and wondered about life beyond Earth. Scientists have now created a list of planets where, if they exist, curious aliens could view Earth.
    The scientists reported that there are 1,715-star systems that could have spotted Earth since about 5,000 years ago.    In the next 5,000 years, 319 more-star systems will be added, according to a peer-reviewed report published Wednesday in the journal Nature.
    “From the exoplanets’ point of view, we are the aliens,” said Lisa Kaltenegger, professor of astronomy and director of Cornell University’s Carl Sagan Institute.
    Of those, 75-star systems would have been around when commercial radio stations on Earth began broadcasting into space.    Scientists say these planets may be able to pick up radio waves; however, just seven of the star systems detected have the ability to host exoplanets, or a planet outside their solar system.
    If these exoplanets harbor intelligent life, those beings could observe Earth and see our atmosphere and signs of life.
    How do scientists know this?    They used positions and motions from the European Space Agency’s Gaia eDR3 catalog, which is a three-dimensional map of the galaxy.    With this map, they were able to determine which stars enter and exit the Earth transit zone, and for how long.
    “Gaia has provided us with a precise map of the Milky Way galaxy, allowing us to look backward and forward in time, and to see where stars had been located and where they are going,” said astrophysicist Jackie Faherty, a senior scientist at the American Museum of Natural History.
    Faherty said our solar neighborhood is a place where stars enter and exit at an ideal vantage point to see Earth orbit the Sun.
    Over time, some of those stars lose their view of Earth.
    One star, known as Ross 128, with a red dwarf host star in the Virgo constellation, is about 11 light-years away and is the second-closest system with an Earth-size exoplanet.    It is about 1.8 times the size of our planet.
    Any inhabitants of Ross 128 could have seen Earth orbit our own sun for 2,158 years, starting about 3,057 years ago.     But 900 years ago, they lost their vantage point.
    At 45 light-years away, another star called Trappist-1 is also close enough to hear human broadcasts.    The star hosts at least seven planets, four of them being habitable.    They will be able to witness Earth in just another 1,642 years.
    “Our analysis shows that even the closest stars generally spend more than 1,000 years at a vantage point where they can see Earth transit,” Kaltenegger said.    “If we assume the reverse to be true, that provides a healthy timeline for nominal civilizations to identify Earth as an interesting planet.”
    The scientists’ research on planets and extraterrestrial life doesn’t stop here.
    Next year, the James Webb Space telescope is expected to launch and observe several atmospheres and search for signs of life.
    “One might imagine that worlds beyond Earth that have already detected us are making the same plans for our planet and solar system,” Faherty said.    “This catalog is an intriguing thought experiment for which one of our neighbors might be able to find us.”
The scientists reported findings in the journal Nature. PROVIDED BY NASA

6/25/2021 Rare Tornado, Storms Rip Through Southern Czech Republic, Killing Three
The damages caused by a rare tornado that struck and destroyed parts of some towns are
seen in the village of Moravska Nova Ves, Czech Republic, June 25, 2021. REUTERS/David W Cerny
    MORAVSKA NOVA VES, Czech Republic (Reuters) -A rare tornado and strong storms struck along the Czech Republic’s southern border on Thursday to destroy parts of some towns, killing at least three people and injuring dozens more, emergency services and media said.
    The tornado, reported in towns around Hodonin, along the Slovak and Austrian borders and 270 km (167 miles) southeast of Prague, the capital, may have reached windspeeds above 332 kph (206 mph), a Czech Television meteorologist said.
    That would make it the strongest in the modern history of the central European nation and its first tornado since 2018.
    Strong storms ripped roofs off houses and other buildings, blew out windows, overturned cars and scattered debris through the streets.
    Workers of emergency services rested amid debris in the market town of Moravska Nova Ves, after having worked through the night.
    A spokesperson for the South Moravia region’s ambulance service told Czech Television three people died in the storms and dozens were treated for injuries.
    Czech TV reported as many as seven small towns were “massively” damaged, citing an emergency services spokesperson.    An official of one municipality, Hrusky, said half of the town was practically levelled to the ground.
    Search and rescue teams fanned out in the area, with neighbouring Austria and Slovakia also sending emergency units to help.
(Reporting by David Cerny in Moravska Nova Ves and Jason Hovet in Prague; editing by Jonathan Oatis)

6/25/2021 Search, Rescue Efforts Continue After Partial Collapse Of Condo Building In Fla. by OAN Newsroom
This aerial photo shows part of the 12-story oceanfront Champlain Towers South Condo that collapsed
early Thursday, June 24, 2021 in Surfside, Fla. (Amy Beth Bennett /South Florida Sun-Sentinel via AP)
    “As the sun sets on the most tragic day this community can remember, we stand in solidarity, once again, to tell you we are working around the clock to search and rescue people in this rubble.” – Mayor Daniella Levine Cava, (D) Miami-Dade County
    Crews have been working nonstop to rescue those still stuck in the rubble following the partial collapse of a 12-story highrise in Florida.    Officials confirmed 102 people were safe as of Thursday night after the collapse of the Champlain Towers South in Surfside.
    “We did identify and declare as safe 102 people and 99 we still cannot account for, some of whom may not have been in the building,” stated Chief Alan Cominsky of the Miami-Dade County Fire Department.
    Workers are using specialty trained dogs, sonar equipment and are listening for banging sounds as they search for the missing.    All crews are working around the clock to determine what caused the collapse, but are taking extra precaution due to current safety hazards around the rubble.
    Meanwhile, a family reunification center has been set up for anyone looking for unaccounted for or missing relatives.
    Florida Sen. Marco Rubio (R-Fla.) also weighed in on the tragic incident by highlighting the first responders who risked their lives to save people in the unstable building.
    “So it’s a dark and tragic day, but from it we continue to pray for some miracles,” stated the Republican lawmaker.    “And we’re inspired by the men and women, the heroes who are out there right now, risking their lives really to rescue, hopefully rescue people.”
    To aid in the search and rescue effort, Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis has signed an emergency order to activate federal funding for Surfside.

6/25/2021 Philippine ‘River Warriors’ Fight Tide Of Trash For Cleaner Future by Adrian Portugal and Peter Blaza
Members of the River Warriors gather trash to a 'trash boat' from the heavily polluted San Juan River,
a tributary of Pasig River, in Mandaluyong City, Philippines, June 21, 2021. REUTERS/Eloisa Lopez
    MANILA (Reuters) – Each morning, a group of Filipinos rakes up piles of trash on the banks of one of the world’s most polluted rivers, filling sacks in an endless pursuit to clean a waterway that is also a major source of ocean plastics.
    These “river warriors” are a decade-old group of about 100 people who work to clear the glut of garbage floating or washed up along Manila’s notorious Pasig River.
    The 27 km (16.8 mile) river cutting through the Philippine capital was once a vital trade route.    But urbanisation and poor sewage planning have left the river all but dead.
    “There’s never a time without garbage here.    It’s unlimited,” said Angelita Imperio, a river warrior for six years.
    The warriors wear rubber boots and elbow-length gloves, using rakes and handmade tools to scoop rubbish from stagnant waters in different locations.
    The warriors started off as volunteers but now receive a basic income from a local government and operate in small groups at different parts of the river.
    Dexter Opiana, another river warrior with six years of service, says she and about 19 others work shifts of about seven hours and collect an average of 80 to 100 sacks a day, more during monsoon season.
    Most of it is plastic wrappers, single-use sachets, and packaging materials.    Since the pandemic began, surgical face masks are sometimes mixed in among the other floating garbage.
    Pasig’s trash isn’t just a Philippine problem.
    A 2021 report by Oxford University’s Our World in Data estimated 81% of global ocean plastic comes from Asian rivers and the Philippines alone contributes a third of that total.
    The Pasig River alone provides up to 6.43% of ocean plastic originating from rivers, the report said.
    Despite the warriors’ Sisyphean task, they are optimistic of better days ahead.
    “This has been our advocacy, to have the river cleaned for the sake of our children, our parents, our nation and mother nature,” Imperio said.
    Joan Lagunda, assistant secretary at the environment department, said authorities were coordinating with local governments to establish proper waste segregation practices and want informal settlers on the riverbanks to be moved.
    Marian Ledesma, a campaigner with Greenpeace Philippines, said the government should reduce single-use plastics and strengthen law enforcement on waste disposal and sewage.
    “I’ve seen it done in other cities, in other countries, so I don’t think it’s impossible to revive and clean up Pasig River,” she said.
    “It will need a collective action.”
(Reporting by Adrian Portugal Peter Blaza; Editing by Martin Petty and Tom Hogue)

6/25/2021 “Space Is For Everyone”: Europe’s Space Agency To Hire First Disabled Astronaut by Thomas Escritt
FILE PHOTO: Director General of the European Space Agency (ESA) Josef Aschbacher gestures as he talks
during an interview with Reuters in Berlin, Germany, June 24, 2021. REUTERS/Christian Mang
    BERLIN (Reuters) – The European Space Agency hopes to hire and launch the world’s first physically disabled astronaut and several hundred would-be para-astronauts have already applied for the role, ESA head Josef Aschbacher told Reuters on Friday.
    The 22-member space programme has just closed its latest decennial recruitment call for astronauts and received 22,000 applicants, Aschbacher said.
    “We would like to launch an astronaut with a disability, which would be the first time ever,” the Austrian added.    “But I’m also happy for ESA because it shows that space is for everyone, and that’s something I’d like to convey.”
    The ESA, whose Ariane rocket once dominated the market for commercial satellite launches, faces ever stiffer competition from tech-funded upstarts like Jeff Bezos’s Blue Origin and Elon Musk’s SpaceX.
    Amazon founder Bezos hopes next month to become the first man to go into space on his own rocket, highlighting the growing role tech billionaires are playing in a field that was once dominated by public agencies.
    “Space is developing extremely fast and if we don’t catch up with this train we are left behind,” he added, outlining plans to refashion the agency as a more entrepreneurial player ready to work with venture capitalists to help grow European start-ups that could one day rival the Silicon Valley players.
    The challenges are immense: the ESA’s 7 billion euro budget is a third of NASA’s, while its seven or eight launches a year are dwarfed by the 40 carried out by the United States.
    Aschbacher, who grew up staring at the stars above his parents’ mountain farm in Austria, himself once applied to become an ESA astronaut when he was a student.    But what was once a geeky, niche enthusiasm has now become mainstream, he said.
    This year’s job ad attracted almost three times the 8,000 applications received a decade ago, and a quarter of them were women, up from just 15% before.    The ESA has promised to develop technologies to ensure those with disabilities, like shortened legs, play a full part.
    And those astronauts will go beyond the International Space Station: some will deploy to the United States’s planned Gateway station on the moon, while the ESA’s member states are considering an invitation from Chinese and Russian space agencies to participate in their similar moonbase project.
    Could European astronauts one day be serving simultaneously on two different moonbases at once?
    “The invitation is on the table and it’s a very nice idea,” he said.
(Reporting by Thomas Escritt; Editing by Raissa Kasolowsky)

6/25/2021 Pentagon UFO Report Videos Reveal Mysterious Objects That Baffled U.S. Military by Jack Dutton, Newsweek
    A highly-anticipated Pentagon report on UFOs is due to see the light of day before the end of June.
© U.S. Navy The highly-anticipated Pentagon report will shed more light on some of the incidents recorded by the military over the years.
    The report was demanded by Congress after numerous sightings from the U.S. military of vehicles moving through the sky.
    UFOs, long dismissed and relegated to movies and science fiction, have begun to shed the farce label in recent years after the release of footage of high-profile U.S. military encounters with aircraft of unknown origin. Although widely anticipated, the Pentagon report isn't likely to yield much conclusive evidence about whether UFOs exist.
    The report features 120 incidents involving UFOs examined by Pentagon officials over the last two decades, including three declassified videos that were previously released last April showing "unexplained aerial phenomena."
    The videos, released by the Air Force and Navy, show unexplained objects on radar traveling at ultra-fast speeds and performing aerial maneuvres that defy logic and appear to defy physics too.
    One shows a small disc-like object speeding across the radar while the other two show a saucer-like object appear to turn over in front of the military aircraft.
    However, military leaders have warned that if the technology isn't extra-terrestrial, it may belong to U.S. rivals, such as China or Russia.
    A classified version of the report was shared with lawmakers earlier this month.    The report is not expected to reveal any groundbreaking revelations about UFOs.    The New York Times reported on June 3 that American intelligence officials found no evidence that aerial phenomena witnessed by Navy officials in recent years are alien spacecraft, but the report still cannot explain the odd sightings.    Citing anonymous officials, the paper reported that the majority of the report did not originate from any American military or other U.S. government technology, but officials said that the investigation will not likely reach any other firm conclusions on UFOs.
New video raises more UFO questions ahead of Pentagon report release.
    The Defense Department has been quietly gathering data since 2007 as part of the military's little-known Advanced Aerospace Threat Identification Program.    More recently, in June 2020, tucked into the 2021 Intelligence Authorization Act, Senator Marco Rubio (R-FL) added language requesting that the director of national intelligence and the secretary of defense create a report with "a detailed analysis of unidentified aerial phenomena data and intelligence reporting."    Two months later, the Pentagon became more serious about UFOs, and created a task force to investigate the encounters by U.S. military aircraft.
    The task force's job is to "detect, analyze and catalog" alien events, and "gain insight" into the "nature and origins" of UFOs, according to the Pentagon.
    In May, former Navy pilot Lieutenant Ryan Graves told CBS that his F/A-18F squadron began seeing UFOs hovering over restricted airspace southeast of Virginia Beach in 2014.
    He said his pilots see them off the Atlantic Coast all the time.    "Every day.    Every day for at least a couple years," he said.
    The government has mainly ignored UFOs since 1969, when it closed its Project Blue Book investigation.    It logged 12,618 UFO sightings between 1947 and 1969.
© ursatii iStock/Getty A new survey published on Tuesday by market research company Piplsay has found that nearly half of
Americans say they are more interested in UFOs and aliens in the wake of new footage that was recently released by the Pentagon,
and the promise of more to be released soon.    This is a stick image of an artist's rendering of a UFO. ursatii iStock/Getty

6/26/2021 2.6 Magnitude Earthquake Hits Woodlawn, Maryland by OAN Newsroom
Aerial near Baltimore, Maryland pictured from a plane. (Photo by DANIEL SLIM/AFP via Getty Images)
    Officials responded to a 2.6 magnitude earthquake, which shook the area of Woodlawn, Maryland.    The quake struck on Friday afternoon.
    Many residents on the East Coast were shaken, as earthquakes aren’t all too common there.    The epicenter was Lorraine Park Cemetery and was roughly 1.5 miles deep.    Officials reported that most residents only felt small amounts of vibration and shaking.
    Adding to fears was the recent building collapse in Surfside, Florida, which one resident said was one of the first things she thought of in the midst of the quake.
    “When I think about that building collapse in Miami I’m very, very grateful and thankful that we’re fine,” the resident explained.    “Our houses seem to be fine, so absolutely.”
    Gov. Larry Hogan (R-Md.) tweeted out shortly after the incident that no major injuries or explosions were reported as a result of the quake.    This has been the biggest quake to hit Maryland since 2011.
    Residents are requested to record their experience of the earthquake online, which would help officials in their efforts to forewarn future earthquakes by better understanding how seismic energy travels underground.

6/26/2021 2018 Engineering Report Warned Of Structural Damage In Collapsed Fla. Condominium by OAN Newsroom
This aerial photo shows part of the 12-story oceanfront Champlain Towers South Condo that collapsed
early Thursday, June 24, 2021 in Surfside, Fla. (Amy Beth Bennett /South Florida Sun-Sentinel via AP)
    “As the sun sets on the most tragic day this community can remember, we stand in solidarity, once again, to tell you we are working around the clock to search and rescue people in this rubble.” – Mayor Daniella Levine Cava, (D) Miami-Dade County
    Crews have been working nonstop to rescue those still stuck in the rubble following the partial collapse of a 12-story high-rise in Florida.    Officials confirmed 120 people were safe as of Thursday night after the collapse of the Champlain Towers South in Surfside.
    A 2018 engineering report warned of major structural damage to a concrete slab under the Miami-area condominium. Reports on Saturday detailed the document, which said failed waterproofing under the building’s pool deck had lead to major structural damage.    The report recommended the slab be replaced.
    In addition, the report uncovered abundant cracking in concrete columns, beams and walls in the parking garage.    The report didn’t warn of immediate danger due to the damage and it’s unclear if the damage contributed to the collapse.
    Workers are using specialty trained dogs, sonar equipment and are listening for banging sounds as they search for the missing.    All crews are working around the clock to determine what caused the collapse, but are taking extra precaution due to current safety hazards around the rubble.    A family reunification center has been set up for anyone looking for missing relatives.
    Florida Sen. Marco Rubio (R-Fla.) also weighed in on the tragic incident by highlighting the first responders who risked their lives to save people in the unstable building.
    “So it’s a dark and tragic day, but from it we continue to pray for some miracles,” stated the Republican lawmaker.    “And we’re inspired by the men and women, the heroes who are out there right now, risking their lives really to rescue, hopefully rescue people.”
    To aid in the search and rescue effort, Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis has signed an emergency order to activate federal funding for Surfside and the federal government is reportedly sending a team to determine whether building codes should be changed.
    Joe Biden has since approved the federal emergency declaration, authorizing FEMA to coordinate disaster relief efforts.
    Officials are also working on what could have possibly caused the building to collapse.    Among the theories are the dangers of the building on a barrier island like Miami Beach as well as the corrosive nature of the beach front environment on steel building materials.
    “We are still working.    We are working around the clock, and we have hope,” said Miami-Dade County Mayor Daniella Levine Cava on Friday night.
    Rescue efforts remain underway, with four people dead and roughly 159 people still missing.

6/27/2021 Police Identify Victims Of Fatal Hot Air Balloon Crash In New Mexico by OAN Newsroom
The basket of a hot air balloon which crashed lies on the pavement in Albuquerque, N.M., Saturday,
June 26, 2021. Police said the five occupants died after it crashed on the busy street. (AP Photo/Andres Leighton)
    Family and friends have been mourning the loss of five victims who were killed in a hot air balloon crash in New Mexico.    Police in Albuquerque said the gondola of the balloon detached from the envelope on Saturday and hit a power line.
    “Shortly after 7 am, officers received a call about a hot air balloon that crashed into powerlines,” Albuquerque Police Spokesman Gilbert Gallegos explained.    “…Witnesses said that the balloon hit one of the high lines there and kind of rode the line a little bit before the gondola crashed into the street here.”
    Officials say two men and three women were among those killed, including the pilot. One man was taken to the hospital in critical condition, but later succumbed to his injuries.    Reports released the ages of the passengers, which ranged between 59 and 62-years-old.
    Authorities said the basket fell 100 feet before crashing in the median of a busy street and catching on fire.    More than 13,000 people experienced power outages as a result of the incident.
    Albuquerque Mayor Tim Keller (D) offered his condolences to the families of the victims as well as any first responders and witnesses who may be dealing with trauma.
    “We obviously can’t speak to any of the details as it’s all under investigation, but I do know that this is a tragedy that is uniquely felt and uniquely it’s hard at home here in Albuquerque and in the ballooning community,” he expressed.    “It’s something that if you have ballooned, there are always things that can happen.”
    Meanwhile, both the Federal Aviation Administration and National Transportation Safety Board are investigating what caused the crash.

6/27/2021 Metro Detroit Area Flooded After Intense Storms Drop Heavy Rain by OAN Newsroom
A truck is hoisted from a flooded I75 and Canfield Street as heavy rain flooded streets
in the metro area of Detroit. (Max Ortiz/Detroit News via AP)
    Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer (D) declared a state of emergency after storms dropped heavy rain across the Metro Detroit area.    Reports on Saturday showed the National Weather Service predicted less than two inches of rain.    However, some points recorded more than six inches over a 12-hour period.
    Drivers were forced to abandon their vehicles on the Metro Detroit freeways, while tens of thousands of homes and businesses were either left flooded or without power.    Officials said the city’s water operation system was at max capacity.
    Detroit Water and Sewage Department Director Gary Brown explained, “the intensity of these storms exceeded the design standards for pump stations and combined sewer overflow facilities serving the Detroit region.”
    Some parts of the state were even left under tornado warnings until Saturday evening.    The State Emergency Operations Center has been working around the clock to clear freeways and roads, reestablish power, and provide emergency services for residents.
    According to Whitmer, the state will continue to work closely with emergency response coordinators and local leaders to address the widespread flooding.

6/28/2021 UFO report leaves 5 issues unanswered by Ella Lee, USA TODAY
    A highly anticipated government report on unidentified aerial phenomena in American airspace has been released – and it’s not as illuminating as some may have hoped.
    The report, released Friday, failed to offer firm explanations for many of the questions that raised the report’s profile in the first place, such as whether unidentified flying objects, or UFOs, pose a national security threat or whether they offer evidence of extraterrestrial life.
    The report, compiled by top intelligence and military officials, was commissioned by Congress after the Pentagon released three short videos in April 2020 depicting unidentified aerial phenomena.    It was released by the Office of the Director of National Intelligence.
    Here are five of the biggest questions raised by the report.
1. Is there evidence of extraterrestrial life?
    No evidence was cited to indicate the UFOs belong to alien life.    But it also didn’t rule that out.
    There have been 143 unexplainable reports of UFOs by U.S. government sources since 2004, and of those, 18 incidents – outlined in 21 reports – described unusual movement or flight characteristics.
    “Some UAP appeared to remain stationary in winds aloft, move against the wind, maneuver abruptly, or move at considerable speed, without discernable means of propulsion,” the report reads.
    The report also says the sightings “tended to cluster” around U.S. training and testing sites, but they determined this is probably a result of greater focus in those areas.
2. Is our security threatened?
    The report determined that the UFOs are a threat to flight safety, but their threat to national security is unknown.
    The task force has documentation of 11 instances in which pilots reported “near misses” with unidentified aerial phenomena, according to the report.    Data was too sparse to indicate whether the UAPs belong to foreign adversaries, the report said.
3. How many sightings didn’t make the cut?
    There was no standardized way to report the sighting of a UFO until March 2019, when the Navy established one, and the Air Force adopted it only in November 2020, according to the report.    “The UAPTF (Unidentified Aerial Phenomena Task Force) regularly heard anecdotally during its research about other observations that occurred but which were never captured in formal or informal reporting by those observers,” the report reads.
4. How have these incidents been studied before?
    According to the report, there are a number of obstacles that stand in the way of collecting information on UAPs, like social and cultural stigmas and sensor limitations.
    “Narratives from aviators in the operational community and analysts from the military and IC (Intelligence Community) describe disparagement associated with observing UAP, reporting it, or attempting to discuss it with colleagues,” the report reads.
5. What are the next steps?
    The report goes into some detail on the changes that will need to take place to effectively explain the unexplained objects, but the specifics of what will change are still fuzzy.
    Three key buckets of change needed to better study UFOs are listed in the report: standardizing reporting, consolidating data and deepening analysis; expanding the collection of data; and increasing investment in research and development.
    The UAP Task Force is developing interagency “analytical and processing workflows” to ensure informed, coordinated collection and analysis of the data, according to the report.
A Congress-sanctioned UFO report was released Friday. U.S. NAVY

6/29/2021 Scientists find early human, challenging history of evolution by Gabriela Miranda, USA TODAY
    Scientists say they have discovered a new kind of early human in Israel after studying pieces of fossilized bone dug up at a site used by a cement plant in central Israel.
    After studying fossils in Israel, scientists said Thursday that they discovered a new kind of early human.    Researchers from Tel Aviv University and the Hebrew University of Jerusalem told Reuters they found pieces of a skull and lower jaw with teeth dating back 130,000 years, calling into question what we thought we knew about the human family tree.
    The fossil has been named Nesher Ramla Homo after the site southeast of Tel Aviv where it was found.    The new species coexisted with Homo sapiens for more than 100,000 years.    Some scientists said the two species may have even been interbred.
    The discovery of a new type of Homo is of great scientific importance,” said Israel Hershkovitz of Tel Aviv University, one of the leaders of the team that analyzed the remains.    “It enables us to make new sense of previously found human fossils, add another piece to the puzzle of human evolution, and understand the migrations of humans in the old world.”
    The discovery also unveiled characteristics of the new species, including very large teeth and no chin.    The fossils were found among stone tools and the bones of horses and deer, similar to pre-Neanderthal groups in Europe.
    The skull was flat, and a 3D shape analysis eliminated a connection to any other known group.    These findings all challenge the original thinking that our evolutionary cousins originated in Europe.    “This is what makes us suggest that this Nesher Ramla group is actually a large group that started very early in time and are the source of the European Neanderthal,” said Hila May, a physical anthropologist at the Dan David Center and the Shmunis Institute of Tel Aviv University.
    Experts have never been able to fully explain how Homo sapiens genes were present in the earlier Neanderthal population in Europe, May said.    And she believes the Nesher Ramla may be able to solve that mystery.
A picture released by the Tel Aviv University and the Hebrew University of Jerusalem shows fossil remains of a skull and
a jaw that were uncovered at the site of excavations near the central city of Ramla. TEL AVIV UNIVERSITY/AFP VIA GETTY

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