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Two NASA veterans — Nicole Stott and Cady Coleman — ponder humanity’s future in space, as well as the role women will play in it.

Former astronaut Nicole Stott orbits Earth aboard the International Space Station.

    Retired astronauts discuss the future of spaceflight ahead of SpaceX Crew Dragon launch

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Retired astronauts discuss the future of spaceflight ahead of SpaceX Crew Dragon launch

Two NASA veterans — Nicole Stott and Cady Coleman — ponder humanity’s future in space, as well as the role women will play in it.
By Hailey Rose McLaughlin  |  Published: Friday, May 29, 2020
Former astronaut Nicole Stott orbits Earth aboard the International Space Station.

Saturday’s planned SpaceX Crew Dragon launch will mark the beginning of a new chapter in human spaceflight. For the first time, a private aerospace company will launch two NASA astronauts to the International Space Station (ISS). It’ll also be the first time Americans will launch from home turf since the end of the Space Shuttle Program in 2011.

SpaceX’s pioneering crewed mission will serve as a major milestone in the burgeoning era of private spaceflight. But this period will not be led by nations. Companies will pave the way. As private crewed launches become commonplace in the upcoming decades, more and more companies from around the world will push the technological horizon to explore our nearby cosmic neighborhood and beyond.

Hearkening back to the Apollo era of the 1960s and 1970s, the next decade is sure to be packed with many historic missions, including sending the first woman to the Moon. So, unlike during the space race, women won’t be hidden behind the scenes. They’ll be on the front lines.

Astronomy spoke with retired NASA astronauts Nicole Stott and Cady Coleman to get their thoughts on the upcoming SpaceX launch, as well as what it means for women.

    Retired astronauts discuss the future of spaceflight ahead of SpaceX Crew Dragon launch

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Retired astronauts discuss the future of spaceflight ahead of SpaceX Crew Dragon launch

Two NASA veterans — Nicole Stott and Cady Coleman — ponder humanity’s future in space, as well as the role women will play in it.
By Hailey Rose McLaughlin  |  Published: Friday, May 29, 2020
Former astronaut Nicole Stott orbits Earth aboard the International Space Station.

Saturday’s planned SpaceX Crew Dragon launch will mark the beginning of a new chapter in human spaceflight. For the first time, a private aerospace company will launch two NASA astronauts to the International Space Station (ISS). It’ll also be the first time Americans will launch from home turf since the end of the Space Shuttle Program in 2011.

SpaceX’s pioneering crewed mission will serve as a major milestone in the burgeoning era of private spaceflight. But this period will not be led by nations. Companies will pave the way. As private crewed launches become commonplace in the upcoming decades, more and more companies from around the world will push the technological horizon to explore our nearby cosmic neighborhood and beyond.

Hearkening back to the Apollo era of the 1960s and 1970s, the next decade is sure to be packed with many historic missions, including sending the first woman to the Moon. So, unlike during the space race, women won’t be hidden behind the scenes. They’ll be on the front lines.

Astronomy spoke with retired NASA astronauts Nicole Stott and Cady Coleman to get their thoughts on the upcoming SpaceX launch, as well as what it means for women.
A new generation of spaceflight

People around the world are waiting with bated breath as Robert Behnken and Douglas Hurley prepare for Saturdays’ SpaceX launch — which got pushed back from Wednesday due to poor weather. When SpaceX’s Falcon 9 rocket, tipped with an occupied Crew Dragon capsule, lifts off from the historic Launch Complex 39A at Kennedy Space Center in Florida, space fans will all be hoping for a successful launch.

But for Stott, this mission has an even greater meaning.

“I am especially excited about the fact that Bob and Doug are two of my astronaut classmates from the class of 2000,” says Stott. “Their wives are [also] two of my classmates, so this feels like a family event happening.”

Stott went on two missions to the International Space Station during her 27-year career at NASA. She was also the last crew member to return home on the space shuttle Atlantis, which marked the temporary end of humans launched from within U.S. borders. But now, Stott’s excited all over again as she gets to follow her friends as they pioneer the next generation of spaceflight.

Coleman, who joined NASA in 1992, logged more than 179 days in space during her 24 years as an astronaut. But just like Stott, Coleman is looking forward to what using private spaceflight will mean long-term.

“It’s really exciting because we’ve spent time designing and building together, and now we’re going to see if everything works the way we hoped it would.”

If Saturday’s mission goes off without a hitch, NASA will finally have an affordable, reusable option to ferry NASA astronauts and their international colleagues to the ISS. This would free up funding and time to focus on other missions, such as the upcoming launch of the Perseverance Mars rover this summer, a Moon landing in a few short years as part of the Artemis program, and an ambitious rotorcraft that hopes to fly just above the surface of Saturn’s largest moon Titan.

SpaceX isn’t going to be the only game in town for long, though. Boeing is also working on a spacecraft that can carry NASA astronauts to orbit. The company is close to passing their final un-crewed test before they can bring humans into low Earth orbit. And once they pass, Boeing and SpaceX will continue to shuttle astronauts back and forth, expanding the research and science output of the ISS.
The future of women in space

When NASA unveiled their plans for the Artemis program, they knew they were paying homage to the former Apollo program. After all, Artemis is the twin sister of Apollo in Greek mythology. This name, though, also hints that the next lunar landing will feature the first woman to walk on the surface of the Moon.

NASA has promised that at least one of the astronauts returning to the Moon will be a woman, but Stott has another idea.

“Why not make it two?” she says.

Women have always been a part of NASA but were usually kept behind the scenes. In recent decades, women took on larger roles as astronauts; however, it wasn’t until 2019 that the world saw the first all-female spacewalk.

And the journey to this point wasn’t simple. Valentina Tereshkova, a Russian female cosmonaut, crossed the boundary of space in 1963. But it would take until 1983 before Americans finally sent astronaut Sally Ride into orbit.

Now women serve at many high-level roles at NASA and are part of almost every mission on the ISS. “The rocket ship doesn’t care if you’re a boy or a girl,” Stott says.

While there may not be any women on Saturday’s planned mission, there are a number of women working to make sure this launch goes smoothly. Plus, astronaut Nicole Mann has been assigned to the flight team of Boeing’s first crewed mission to the ISS, planned for later in 2020.

“I think that NASA, in general, has done a really good job since women have been a part of the office of incorporating and assigning women to the missions,” says Stott.

This next decade will showcase the wonders of human innovation, as well as highlight what working together can achieve. During it, humanity will see the next generation of moonwalkers, as well as the development of a new wave of technology that will help us better explore our cosmic neighborhood.

“I hope everybody is watching [the SpaceX launch Saturday],” says Stott. “I hope everybody realizes how meaningful this is to all of us.”

You can watch the historic launch, called “Launch America” on National Geographic or ABC on Saturday, May 30. You can also livestream the event directly below, courtesy of NASA TV.
Mark Twain — 'There are many humorous things in the world; among them, the white man's notion that he is less savage than the other savages.'

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Trump says U.S. will be 'terminating' relationship with WHO
« Reply #16036 on: May 29, 2020, 02:38:52 PM »
The president criticized the World Health Organization for their response to the pandemic and said U.S. funds would be redirected to other public health needs.

WASHINGTON — President Donald Trump said Friday that the United States would be “terminating” its relationship with the World Health Organization over its response to the coronavirus pandemic.

“Because they have failed to make the requested and greatly needed reforms, we will be today terminating our relationship with the World Health Organization and redirecting those funds to other worldwide and deserving urgent public health needs," Trump said. "The world needs answers from China on the virus. We must have transparency.”

Trump last month announced that the U.S. was halting funding for the WHO pending a review of its initial response to the coronavirus outbreak.

It was not clear how Trump planned to withhold the funds, much of which are directed by congressional appropriation. The president typically does not have the authority to unilaterally redirect congressional funding.

Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., called Trump’s initial threats to cut WHO funding in April “dangerous” and “illegal.”

Trump has repeatedly slammed the WHO for its response to the coronavirus and has accused the WHO of being “China-centric."

“China has total control over the World Health Organization despite only paying $40 million per year compared to what the United States has been paying, which is approximately $450 million a year," Trump said Friday.

The annual U.S. contribution to the WHO last year was roughly 15 percent of the agency's budget.

Trump on Friday also criticized Chinese officials who he said "ignored their reporting obligations to the World Health Organization and pressured the World Health Organization to mislead the world when the virus was first discovered by Chinese authorities.”

The WHO has no authority to force foreign governments to divulge medical information or open doors to its hospitals and labs.

China has denied that it concealed details about the outbreak. The WHO has strongly defended its response, saying it took urgent action at the first signs of the epidemic in Wuhan.

Trump also criticized China's recently announced national security law, which endangers Hong Kong's special status. Trump said he would begin eliminating policy exemptions that have previously applied to Hong Kong.

"Today will affect the full range of agreements we have with Hong Kong, from our extradition treaty to our export our export controls on dual-use technologies and more, with few exceptions. We will be revising the State Department's travel advisory for Hong Kong to reflect the increased danger of surveillance and punishment by the Chinese state security apparatus," Trump said.

During the news conference, Trump did not mention George Floyd, the black man who died in an encounter with Minneapolis police officers on Monday, or the unrest that followed in the city this week. One of the officers, Derek Chauvin, was taken into custody and charged with third-degree murder and manslaughter shortly before Trump spoke at the White House on Friday afternoon.
Mark Twain — 'There are many humorous things in the world; among them, the white man's notion that he is less savage than the other savages.'

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‘Dissent is duty, not crime’: Filipinos slam anti-terrorism bill
« Reply #16037 on: May 29, 2020, 02:55:31 PM »
#JunkTerrorBill tops Twitter trends as Filipinos online criticize the dangerous provisions of the anti-terror bill

MANILA, Philippines – Filipinos online were quick to condemn on Friday, May 29, the new version of the anti-terror bill.

The backlash came after the House of Representatives committee on public order and safety approved the substitute version of the Human Security Act. This would further strengthen law enforcement’s campaign against terrorism.

#JunkTerrorBill topped Twitter trends for the Philippines, associated with keywords #OustDuterte and “ACTIVISM IS NOT TERRORISM.”

Netizens slammed the bill, calling it another way to silence government’s critics. They branded as an attack on freedom of speech and an avenue for red-tagging the new version of the bill broadens the scope of what is considered "terroristic acts."

Dissent not a crime
Curated Tweets by ‎@rapplerdotcom

Human Security Act pero tinatapakan ang democratic rights ng mga tao. This endangers lives and not secured human lives AT ALL. If this will pass thru, kahit pakikipag-usap lang sa mga tao ay pwedeng sabihin na "terorista." Pinapatay lalo ang demokrasya sa bansa. #JunkTerrorBill

. @maykamaykaba

Others will say "Kung wala kang masamang balak or wala ka namang ginagawang masama wala kang dapat ikatakot." BUT sobrang vague nung definition nila ng terrorist, yung simpleng pagpapakita lang ng dissent against the government ay maituturing na terrorist ka.#JunkTerrorBill

gio 🏮 reading tgcf @aobaseijoh

you'll be dubbed as a terrorist for simply speaking up on social media platforms. no one is exempted from state surveillance (your calls, texts, etc will be tracked). you can be jailed for up to 24 days without a case if someone accuses you of being a terrorist. #JunkTerrorBill

ً @artsdejun


Angara, Binay, Cayetano, Dela Rosa,  Poe, Marcos, Lapid, Villanueva, Villar, Pacquiao, Gatchalian, Go, Gordon, Lacson, Revilla, Tolentino, Drilon, Zubiri and Sotto.

Only Sen. Kiko and Sen. Risa voted No. #JunkTerrorBill

Mon Sy #JunkTerrorBill #ActivistsNotTerrorists @YearoftheMonSy

Nakakapanggalit ang ginawa ng mga pulis kay Floyd. At hindi lang sa US may police brutality. Kapag napasa na ang Anti-Terrorism Bill, may legal na batayan na ang pulis manghuli at pumatay ng "terorista".

At sino ang "terorista"? Kahit sinong ituro ng gobyerno 🤡 #JunkTerrorBill

mae & @gotvelvetingz

if this bill gets approved, any criticism against the govt will be considered as terrorism and we should NOT BE OKAY WITH THAT. what is democracy if they take away our freedom of speech?#JunkTerrorBill

zar @zlakbo

for more perspectives: simple academics get redtagged (branded as communists/terrorists) for using their education to prove the gov't is Not It. anti-terrorism bill targets terrorists, but are they really? #JunkTerrorBill

Regi #ResistAsOne @orbitching

Maybe di ka affected by this law today, or bukas, or next month, or next year, or even the rest of your life. However, trust and believe that when democracy dies—when laws are specifically made to infringe on people's rights—damay damay tayong lahat.#JunkTerrorBill#ResistAsOne

Roentgen @ronaldgem


• Sen. Kiko Pangilinan
• Sen. Risa Hontiveros

• Rep. Carlos Zarate
• Rep. Kit Belmonte

House adopted the Senate version and approved as Substitute Bill.#JunkTerrorBill
Mark Twain — 'There are many humorous things in the world; among them, the white man's notion that he is less savage than the other savages.'

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Britain left off 'safe list' of countries free to holiday in Greece
« Reply #16038 on: May 29, 2020, 03:04:16 PM »
UK fails to fit epidemiological profile demanded by Athens, which has kept Covid-19 in check

Platis Gialos beach remains nearly empty at the beginning of the delayed tourist season in Mykonos, Greece.

Greece might be high on the list of many people’s summer holiday destinations, but for Britons dreaming of getting away the country will be out of reach for some time yet.

The UK was not included on a list of 29 countries released by Athens on Friday deemed to fit an “epidemiological profile” that makes travel from them relatively safe.
Fakistra beach, Pelion. Stanley Johnson owns a villa on the peninsula.

Seen as a rare success story in its handling of the pandemic, Athens’ centre-right administration applied draconian restrictions early on, going into lockdown before the country had recorded its first coronavirus fatality. To date, Greece has registered fewer than 3,000 confirmed coronavirus cases and a death toll of 175.

The tourism ministry announced that people from all 29 countries could fly into either Athens or Thessaloniki, in the north of the country, from mid-June.

“Sample tests will be conducted on visitors from the [listed] countries,” it said. “For all other countries, the current regulations continue to exist.”

But it added that the list was under constant review and would probably be expanded by the time direct international air links were restored with islands and other mainland destinations on 1 July.

Tourism is Greece’s most vital industry, accounting for one in five jobs and almost 25% of economic output.

The country faces a double-digit recession if it fails to salvage at least some of the summer holiday season, with an estimated 65% of hotels facing the possibility of bankruptcy if they do not get visitors. Ryanair has already announced it will be restarting routes to Greece in July.

Greek officials who have found themselves disheartened by the UK’s handling of the pandemic are hoping that by then they will be able to include the UK on their new list.

However, people from European countries including Albania, Austria, Denmark, Germany, Finland, Norway Romania and Serbia – which like Greece have kept coronavirus infection rates and casualties low – will be allowed to fly in from 15 June.

And further afield, residents of Australia, New Zealand, China, Japan, South Korea were also told they could visit.

But the epidemiological profile “sadly” did not apply to Britain, said government officials, aware that the UK is one of Greece’s biggest markets. Last year close to 4 million Britons travelled to Greece, with most heading to its extensive archipelago, which has remained remarkably Covid-free.

One prominent visitor has been the UK prime minister, Boris Johnson, who has often stayed at the villa his father owns in Pelion, the peninsula off the Greek mainland overlooking the Aegean Sea.

Mark Twain — 'There are many humorous things in the world; among them, the white man's notion that he is less savage than the other savages.'

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Is it safe to travel now? It depends.
« Reply #16039 on: May 29, 2020, 03:13:09 PM »
Here are the best practices for getting on the road without endangering your health—or anyone else’s.

Although many restrictions are still in place, travel is slowly starting up again. People locked down for months want to stretch their legs, see something other than a screen, and boost the economy. Restaurants and some tourist attractions (Florida’s Universal Orlando Resort, The Museum of Fine Arts, Houston) are opening for local and domestic travel. A few countries (Greece, Italy) are starting to welcome international travelers.

But how can you safely explore a world of potentially deadly encounters with friendly people who might infect you (or who you might expose to the virus)? Is the airplane really a soaring petri dish? Is visiting a national park possible while social distancing? And if you choose a seemingly safer road trip, can you stop to use a public restroom?

A poll by National Geographic and Morning Consult finds that just 2 percent of 2,200 Americans said they’d jump on a plane now, and only another 8 percent would consider it later this summer. That’s wise with travel advisories still in place, including the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) warnings against international travel and cautions about travel within the U.S., and with many countries and states (Maine, Hawaii) still requiring 14 days of post-travel self-isolation regardless of symptoms.

As we recently report, travel planning is good for your mental health. Knowing more about real and perceived COVID-19 risks might help you feel better about getting out as roadblocks lift. Here are best practices for travelers.
Should I get on an airplane?

Challenge: Being crammed next to strangers in a flying metal tube

Best practice: It’s reassuring to know that “data to date suggest only rare possible occurrences of in-flight transmission” of COVID-19, says Dr. Lin H. Chen, associate professor at Harvard Medical School and director of Cambridge’s Travel Medicine Center at Mount Auburn. She explains that if everyone follows the World Health Organization’s guidelines, the risk of transmission aboard planes, and anywhere else, is significantly reduced.

“Many people think they get sick on an airplane, but the reality is that the air quality on an airplane is actually really good—high amounts of clean outdoor air and all recirculated air passes through a HEPA filter,” says Joe Allen. An assistant professor and director of the Healthy Buildings Program at Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health, Allen explains that you’re more likely to pick up a bug standing in line at airport security, at the boarding gate, or on the subway.

Airports and airlines are trying to minimize the risks of contagions in their often-crowded environments. Intensive cleaning is now the norm; planes are now being fogged with electrostatic disinfectant that sticks to surfaces like seatbelts. Some airlines give you wipes and the Transportation Security Administration has upped the size of hand sanitizer bottles you can bring on board from 3.4 ounces to 12.

(Related: What’s the safest seat to claim on the plane?)

Face coverings are required to board most flights. Airlines are trying to seat people so they have more space. But that doesn’t necessarily mean middle seats are remaining empty, especially with reductions in numbers of flights. There’s no national U.S. policy yet, but several airlines are checking for fevers. They won’t let you fly with a temperature above 100.4℉ (though testing is far from foolproof).

Internationally, some destinations require proof of a negative COVID-19 test; other destinations test passengers on arrival. Many have mandatory 14-day quarantines, sometimes requiring you to submit a quarantine plan for approval, download an app, or get a tracking bracelet to ensure you follow the rules. Vaccination certification may eventually be needed for travel, but so far the science doesn’t support “immunity passports” or proof that a person has had COVID-19 and is, in theory, immune.
Should I head to a national park?

Challenge: Avoiding big crowds in the great outdoors

Best practice: “There are many health benefits to being outside in nature, and the risks are low and manageable,” says Allen. The key is keeping a six-foot distance. A good practice at a park is to pretend that other people are grizzly bears and stay away from them.

Check the National Park Service’s find-a-park website to see if the park is closed or partially closed (restrooms and food services, in particular), for limits on numbers of visitors, and other rules like mask-wearing. Avoid group activities that involve close contact and practice social distancing at camp sites. Joyce Sanchez, an infectious disease specialist and medical director of the Travel Health Clinic at Froedtert and the Medical College of Wisconsin, reminds us that “summer is tick and mosquito season,” so don’t forget your bug spray and sunscreen (though perhaps a face-mask tan will become a badge of honor that you’re doing your part to protect others).

(Related: Learn how COVID closures are impacting the small town bordering Yellowstone and Grand Teton National Parks.)
Should I rent a cottage by the sea?

Challenge: Assessing the safety of beaches and vacation rentals

Best practice: Like park trips, seaside vacations are great if you can stay away from others and obey beach closure rules. There’s no evidence you can catch COVID-19 from the water (it’s other people you should be concerned about). Remember to bring your two best beach friends: reef-safe sunscreen free of oxybenzone and hand sanitizer.

Regarding rentals, ask whether properties are cleaned according to public health guidelines, such as the WHO’s accommodation sector advice. Airbnb’s Enhanced Cleaning Initiative includes a 24- to 72-hour vacancy period between guests (though cleaners may visit during that window), but it’s likely unnecessary given evidence that the coronavirus floats in the air only up to three hours. Since it’s possible for the virus to live on surfaces for two or three days, you could give high-touch surfaces an extra clean. As Chen says, “good hand washing should overcome potentially contaminated touching.” If anxiety outweighs the benefits of a vacation, it’s a sign you’re not ready to venture out yet.
Should I stay in a hotel?

Challenge: Distancing safely and trusting housekeeping

Best practice: Hotels that take better care of their employees (by providing them with personal protective equipment and paid sick leave) are more likely to take better care of you. Check the website of any hotel you’re considering to determine how they’re responding to COVID-19. Many U.S. hotels are following the American Hotel and Lodging Association’s new Safe Stay guidelines.

Choose properties that base their protocols on science, rather than things that sound good but have little effect or take focus away from areas that really matter. Look for hotels that have installed plexiglass at reception and that require staff to wear masks, or where you can check-in online and use your phone as your room key.

Avoid elevators and, if able, “take the opportunity to exercise and use the stairs,” advises Sanchez. Room service may be safer than the restaurant. Go for a swim if the pool isn’t crowded: Standard pool cleaning kills viruses, so the pool is probably safe; it’s the people you need to worry about. While clean rooms are important, what’s more important is staying six feet away from others. And, of course, wash your hands when you arrive in your room and again before you leave.
Should I use a public restroom?

Challenge: Taking care of business in busy bathrooms

Best practice: Assume public restrooms “are not properly disinfected and treat surfaces as if they have live virus on them,” says Sanchez. That said, it’s often necessary to use. When you do, choose single-stall and well-ventilated bathrooms if you can, and keep your distance from others.

Chen says that “good hand hygiene is key after using a public bathroom,” meaning wash and dry your hands; if there’s no soap, use hand sanitizer. She adds “I am unaware of any data to show that flushing aerosolizes SARS-CoV-2 and transmits the virus.” Regardless, it’s always good practice to put the lid down before you flush.

What about people who don’t wear masks?

Challenge: Staying safe while respecting others’ boundaries

Best practice: Following all the new COVID-19 protocols takes some getting used to. It’s easy to revert to pre-pandemic habits in new situations, when we’re stressed, and when we’re trying to relax and have fun. Being as kind and understanding as possible helps minimize stress.

Setting a good example is the best way to encourage others. Jonathon Day, associate professor and graduate program director at Purdue’s School of Hospitality and Tourism Management, says “safety when traveling (and when out and about in general) is a ‘co-creation.’”

“If it’s someone you know who is non-mask-wearing [or] non-social-distancing, it might be worth discussing the reasoning behind these measures,” says Chen. Remember that not everyone can wear a mask and that we’re all human and can forget the new norms. You could politely ask anyone who gets too close “would you mind giving us a bit more space, please?” but it might be easier just to move away from them. It’s likely not worth the risk, or the stress, to confront a stranger. If you can’t escape the situation, ask a store manager or flight attendant for help.

Remember that, with communicable diseases, “if everyone is responsible to themselves and community/society, then we would all be safer,” says Chen.
Know the safety basics

We’re still learning about COVID-19. But one consensus is that it seems to spread most easily by close contact between people. The CDC says that touching objects isn’t the main way of contracting it.

This means that whenever you’re away from home, the most important thing you can do is maintain a six-foot (or more) distance from people you don’t live with. Wearing a face covering also minimizes the chance you’ll pass a virus or other illness to others.

Other key prevention measures, outlined by the World Health Organization and other public health authorities: washing your hands well, avoiding touching your face, coughing and sneezing into your elbow, disinfecting frequently touched items like your phone, and staying home if you’re sick. Practicing these measures keeps you—and everyone else—safer, regardless of how far you roam. “COVID-19 has shown that we have shared responsibilities to reduce spread,” says Chen, who’s president of the International Society of Travel Medicine.
General considerations for travel

During a pandemic, going to the grocery store—let alone traveling to another city or country—requires new protocols. Follow policies about lockdown restrictions and mandatory quarantines, both at home and at your planned destination. The CDC provides links to the rules of each state’s and territory’s health departments. Many international borders remain closed to nonessential travel, and some countries also limit domestic travel between regions.

Examine your personal situation. Extra cautions are needed for anyone at elevated risk of contracting COVID-19. Check post-travel quarantine rules, including your employer’s. Just as important as protecting you and your loved ones is shielding other people. You don’t want to bring the virus from your community, especially to places with low case numbers, or bring it home (the CDC tracks cases and deaths by state and county). Consider whether the benefits of travel outweigh the risk that you might spread the virus.

When deciding where to go and how you’ll get there, scrutinize how easy it will be to stay away from other people. “Generally speaking, driving is going to be safer than flying commercially from an infection standpoint because you can control how you reach your destination—who is sharing the car with you, what measures are used for disinfecting surfaces, where you stop along the way, and when you return,” says Sanchez.
Mark Twain — 'There are many humorous things in the world; among them, the white man's notion that he is less savage than the other savages.'

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Minneapolis cop who knelt on man’s neck charged with murder
« Reply #16040 on: May 29, 2020, 04:27:34 PM »

MINNEAPOLIS (AP) — The white Minneapolis police officer who knelt on George Floyd’s neck was arrested and charged with murder Friday, and authorities imposed an overnight curfew to try to stem three nights of often-violent protests that left dozens of stores burned and looted.

Derek Chauvin, 44, was charged with third-degree murder and second-degree manslaughter in the case. He was also accused of ignoring another officer at the scene who expressed concerns about the black man as he lay handcuffed on the ground, pleading that he could not breathe. Floyd had been arrested on suspicion of using a counterfeit bill at a small grocery store.

An attorney for Floyd’s family welcomed the arrest, but said he expected a more serious murder charge and wants all four officers involved to be arrested.

Hennepin County Attorney Mike Freeman said more charges were possible. He said the investigation into the other three officers continues, but authorities “felt it appropriate to focus on the most dangerous perpetrator.”

Meanwhile, Minneapolis Mayor Jacob Frey declared a curfew from 8 p.m. to 6 a.m. on Friday and Saturday. The order said no one can be out in public except emergency responders and people seeking medical care, fleeing danger or those who are homeless.

“I know that whatever hope you feel today is tempered with skepticism and a righteous outrage,” Frey said in a statement. “Today’s decision from the County Attorney is an essential first step on a longer road toward justice and healing our city.”

According to the criminal complaint, Chauvin allegedly disregarded the concerns of another officer, who wanted to roll Floyd onto his side as he was being held down.

The papers also said that an autopsy revealed nothing to support strangulation as the cause of death. The exam concluded that the combined effects of being restrained, potential intoxicants in Floyd’s system and his underlying health issues, including heart disease, likely contributed to his death. Floyd’s family was seeking an independent autopsy.

Police were trying to put Floyd in a squad car when he stiffened up and fell to the ground, saying he was claustrophobic, the complaint said. Chauvin and officer Tou Thoa arrived to help and tried several times to get the struggling Floyd into the car, it said.

At one point, Chauvin pulled Floyd out of the car’s passenger side, and Floyd, who was handcuffed, went to the ground face down. Officer J.K. Kueng held Floyd’s back, and officer Thomas Lane held his legs, while Chauvin put his knee on Floyd’s head and neck area, the complaint said.

When Lane asked if Floyd should be rolled onto his side Chauvin said, “No, staying put is where we got him.” Lane said he was “worried about excited delirium or whatever,” and Chauvin replied, “That’s why we have him on his stomach,” according to the complaint.

After Floyd apparently stopped breathing, Lane again said he wanted to roll Chauvin onto his side. Kueng checked for a pulse and said he could not find one, the complaint said.

In all, Chauvin had his knee on Floyd’s neck for 8 minutes, 46 seconds, including nearly three minutes after Floyd stopped moving and talking, according to the complaint.

Chauvin’s attorney had no comment when reached by The Associated Press.

Freeman, whose home has been picketed by protesters, highlighted the “extraordinary speed” in charging the case just four days after Floyd’s death, but also defended himself against questions about why it did not happen sooner. He said his office needed time to put together evidence, including what he called the “horrible” video recorded by a bystander.

All four officers at the scene of Floyd’s arrest on Monday were fired the next day. After the charges were announced, protesters outside government offices chanted, “All four got to go.”

It was not immediately clear whether Chauvin’s arrest would quiet the unrest, which escalated again Thursday night as demonstrators burned a Minneapolis police station soon after officers abandoned it.

Protests also spread across the U.S., fueled by outrage over Floyd’s death, and years of violence against African Americans at the hands of police. Demonstrators clashed with officers in New York and blocked traffic in Columbus, Ohio, and Denver.

News of the arrest came moments after Minnesota Gov. Tim Walz acknowledged the “abject failure” of the response to the protests and called for swift justice for the officers. Walz said the state had taken over the response to the violence.

“Minneapolis and St. Paul are on fire. The fire is still smoldering in our streets. The ashes are symbolic of decades and generations of pain, of anguish unheard,” Walz said. “Now generations of pain is manifesting itself in front of the world — and the world is watching.”

President Donald Trump threatened action, tweeting “when the looting starts, the shooting starts,” which prompted a warning from Twitter for “glorifying violence.” Trump later said he was referring to shooting that had happened during the protests.

The governor faced tough questions after National Guard leader Maj. Gen. Jon Jensen blamed a lack of clarity about the Guard’s mission for a slow response. Walz said the state was in a supporting role and that it was up to city leaders to run the situation. Walz said it became apparent as the 3rd Precinct was lost that the state had to step in. Requests from Minneapolis and nearby St. Paul for resources “never came,” he said.

“You will not see that tonight, there will be no lack of leadership,” Walz said.

On Friday morning, nearly every building in a shopping district a couple blocks from the abandoned police station had been vandalized, burned or looted. National Guard members carrying assault rifles were lined up at some intersections, keeping people away from the police station. Dozens of volunteers swept up broken glass in the street.

Dean Hanson, 64, lives in a subsidized housing unit nearby, which is home to many older residents. He said his building lost electricity overnight, and residents were terrified as they watched mobs of people loot and burn their way through the neighborhood.

“I can’t believe this is happening here,” he said. “It was pure hell.”

Dozens of fires were also set in St. Paul, where nearly 200 businesses were damaged or looted.

A visibly tired and frustrated Frey, the Minneapolis mayor, took responsibility for evacuating the police precinct, saying it had become too dangerous for officers.

Attorney Benjamin Crump, who is representing Floyd’s family, asked to take custody of Floyd’s body to have an independent autopsy performed. Crump said that talk of a heart condition or asthma was irrelevant because Floyd was walking and breathing before his contact with police.

The doctor who will do the autopsy is Michael Baden, former chief medical examiner of New York City, who was hired to do an autopsy for Eric Garner, a black man who died in 2014 in New York after he was placed in a chokehold by police and pleaded for his life, saying he could not breathe.

State and federal authorities are also investigating Floyd’s death.

The owner of a popular Latin nightclub said Floyd and Chauvin both worked as security guards at the club as recently as the end of last year, but it’s not clear whether they worked together. Chauvin worked at the El Nuevo Rodeo club as an off-duty security guard for nearly two decades, but Floyd had only worked there more recently for about a dozen events featuring African American music, Maya Santamaria told The Associated Press.
Full Coverage: Minneapolis

Santamaria said if Chauvin had recognized Floyd, “he might have given him a little more mercy.”

Santamaria, who recently sold the venue, said Chauvin got along well with the regular Latino customers but did not like to work the African American nights. When he did, and there was a fight, he would spray people with mace and call for police backup and half-dozen squad cars would soon show up, something she felt was “overkill.”
Mark Twain — 'There are many humorous things in the world; among them, the white man's notion that he is less savage than the other savages.'

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Greece to open airports to arrivals from 29 countries from June 15
« Reply #16041 on: May 29, 2020, 04:37:54 PM »

A picture taken on April 2, 2020 shows Athens, during a lockdown aimed at curbing the spread of the COVID-19 pandemic, caused by the novel coronavirus.

ATHENS: Greece said Friday it would reopen its airports in Athens and Thessaloniki to arrivals from 29 countries from June 15, the start of the tourist season.

Visitors would be allowed to fly into Greece from 16 EU countries, including Germany, Austria, Denmark, Finland, the Czech Republic, Baltic countries, Cyprus and Malta, the tourism ministry said in a statement.

But countries hardest hit by the coronavirus pandemic — such as France, Spain, Britain and Italy — were not on the list.

Outside the European Union, holidaymakers from Switzerland, Norway, and neighbouring Balkan countries such as Albania, Serbia and North Macedonia will be allowed to land at Greece's main airports from June 15.

The list also includes Australia, Japan, Israel, Lebanon, China, New Zealand and South Korea.

The ministry said that further countries could be added before July 1 when the country's regional airports also reopen.

"The list... has been drawn up on the basis of the epidemiological profile of each country," taking into account the recommendations of the European Aviation Safety Agency and a report by Greece's commission for infectious diseases, the statement said.

Greece began the gradual easing of lockdown restrictions on May 4, and will start reopening its hotels next month.

It has been less severely affected by the Covid-19 pandemic that many EU countries, with 175 deaths and 2,906 infections officially registered so far. -- AFP
Mark Twain — 'There are many humorous things in the world; among them, the white man's notion that he is less savage than the other savages.'

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President Donald Trump is constantly threatening tech companies with huge consequences and not following through. That includes social media sites, which he both obsessively uses and relentlessly berates for alleged “anti-Trump bias.” But this week, he went beyond the usual trash talk, issuing an executive order governing how websites can moderate content.

The order follows a feud with Twitter after it fact-checked one of Trump’s tweets, but it’s been brewing since at least 2019 when a social media “bias” rule was rumored but never revealed. An unfinished draft of the order leaked on Wednesday, full of nonsensical demands and pointless blustering, with many dismissing the rule as simply illegal.

But the final order released yesterday is significantly different from that draft — and a good deal more troubling. It’s still a tangle of vaguely coherent bad rules, legally baffling demands, and pure posturing. But it’s easier to see the shape of Trump’s goal: a censorship bill that potentially covers almost any part of the web.

The order includes some concrete (if highly shaky) policy proposals, for example:

    Websites of any size should lose all Section 230 protections if they don’t follow their terms of service or provide sufficient notice when removing content
    The Attorney General should judge whether any websites receiving advertising money from the government are “problematic vehicles for government speech” because of “viewpoint discrimination”
    The Federal Trade Commission should investigate websites for deceptive advertising based on their terms of service

It also includes a lot of vague implications that are never substantiated and may be unintentional:

    The Federal Communications Commission can write laws and send them to Congress now
    Large social media companies are subject to the same rules as the government
    Facebook should host porn

But that only scratches the surface of this ludicrously expansive mess.

So it’s worth going through the order in more detail — partly to understand the actual policy changes it’s proposing, but also to establish what Trump probably can’t do and pin down when he seems to just be making stuff up. We’ve bolded some especially important parts for emphasis.

Let’s start with the introduction, which is mostly bluster with no particular legal foundation — and actually goes opposite the courts in one key instance:

    Free speech is the bedrock of American democracy. Our Founding Fathers protected this sacred right with the First Amendment to the Constitution. The freedom to express and debate ideas is the foundation for all of our rights as a free people.

    In a country that has long cherished the freedom of expression, we cannot allow a limited number of online platforms to hand pick the speech that Americans may access and convey on the internet. This practice is fundamentally un-American and anti-democratic. When large, powerful social media companies censor opinions with which they disagree, they exercise a dangerous power. They cease functioning as passive bulletin boards, and ought to be viewed and treated as content creators.

These paragraphs introduce the two sneaky rhetorical tricks that Trump’s executive order is based on. The first is defining the First Amendment simply as the right to “express and debate” ideas, carefully not mentioning that the First Amendment also bars forcing people (or companies) to speak — because, ironically, Trump’s entire goal is forcing social platforms to distribute speech they would otherwise moderate.

The second is the generic term “online platforms.” As the reference to “large, powerful social media companies” indicates, this is a “punish Twitter and Facebook” rule. But Trump never bothers to specify this.

I’m going to pull something from later in the order because the order’s failure to distinguish platforms at the scale of Twitter, Google, and Facebook from the rest of the internet is incredibly important and constantly overlooked, and it should color every line we read. Here is what Trump is covering:

    For purposes of this order, the term “online platform” means any website or application that allows users to create and share content or engage in social networking, or any general search engine.

This order does not only hit “Big Tech.” It also applies to a 20-member birdwatching forum, a cooking blog with a comment section, and all of Trump’s favorite conservative news sites.

Remember this. Now let’s move on.

The introduction in the draft order that leaked was fairly short, but for the final signed version, Trump beefed up the high-minded free speech talk with a list of grievances involving:

    Twitter fact-checking
    Adam Schiff
    Twitter employee Yoel Roth
    Google Dragonfly

This carries no legal weight. It’s just remarkably petty.

Trump keeps going with some bad legal theory:

    The growth of online platforms in recent years raises important questions about applying the ideals of the First Amendment to modern communications technology. Today, many Americans follow the news, stay in touch with friends and family, and share their views on current events through social media and other online platforms. As a result, these platforms function in many ways as a 21st century equivalent of the public square.

Over the last few months, at least four courts have ruled on cases about whether social media sites function as a 21st century equivalent of a public square. They’ve all said no. So Trump is imposing a momentous policy change by throwing out rhetoric that sounds cool despite being specifically legally wrong.

Now let’s look at the actual policy the order proposes, which reads like other terrible “anti-bias” laws that have come up, written by somebody who doesn’t know or care how laws work in the United States.

First, some background: Section 230 of the Communications Decency Act contains two key provisions. The first, 230(c)(1), explicitly says “interactive computer services” should not be treated as the “publisher” of what third parties post. That means platforms aren’t liable for content posted by their users. It’s what protects websites from lawsuits if a user posts libel or threats, and it’s the better-known part of the law.

Conversely, Section 230(c)(2) limits liability when sites delete content. It says they can’t be held liable for “any action voluntarily taken in good faith” to remove any content the platforms consider to be “obscene, lewd, lascivious, filthy, excessively violent, harassing, or otherwise objectionable, whether or not such material is constitutionally protected.” In other words, platforms have enormous discretion to moderate — basically anything the platform considers to be objectionable can be taken down.

Notably, courts don’t apply these rules by looking at a website’s overall purpose. They judge how it handled a specific piece of content. It doesn’t matter whether the service is a “publisher,” a “platform,” or something else. Again: there is no legal distinction between a “publisher” and a “platform” in the current law, and every website that has comments or user submissions is covered by 230.

Let’s see how Trump handles this:

    When an interactive computer service provider removes or restricts access to content and its actions do not meet the criteria of subparagraph (c)(2)(A), it is engaged in editorial conduct. It is the policy of the United States that such a provider should properly lose the limited liability shield of subparagraph (c)(2)(A) and be exposed to liability like any traditional editor and publisher that is not an online provider.

This is a variation on the usual “publishers versus platform” nonsense. It’s true that print publishers are responsible for illegal content they publish, as long as they know it’s there. But so is any online publisher! And any websites traditional print publishers operate are still protected under Section 230, so this phrasing doesn’t make a lot of sense in the year 2020.

Trump either wrongly thinks Section 230 has an on / off switch for entire websites or he wants to add one. If it’s the latter, he can’t do that by executive order; he’d need Congress to amend the law, which would make this whole section symbolic since there are already multiple Section 230 “anti-bias” bills.

Instead, Trump seems to be proposing an end-run around Congress:

    Within 60 days of the date of this order, the Secretary of Commerce (Secretary), in consultation with the Attorney General, and acting through the National Telecommunications and Information Administration (NTIA), shall file a petition for rulemaking with the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) requesting that the FCC expeditiously propose regulations to clarify:

The FCC can make rules that interpret but don’t contradict existing laws. Here, through an elaborate game of telephone, it’s supposed to unilaterally overhaul Section 230 and dare Congress to block its amendments. Remember when Republicans spent years arguing that the FCC didn’t have the authority to make rules about net neutrality, a topic Congress hadn’t even touched?

But let’s forget that Congress would probably veto this proposal and a court would almost certainly strike it down. Here’s what the FCC is supposed to “clarify”:

    a provider of an interactive computer service that restricts access to content in a manner not specifically protected by subparagraph (c)(2)(A) may also not be able to claim protection under subparagraph (c)(1), which merely states that a provider shall not be treated as a publisher or speaker for making third-party content available and does not address the provider’s responsibility for its own editorial decisions;

    (ii) the conditions under which an action restricting access to or availability of material is not “taken in good faith” within the meaning of subparagraph (c)(2)(A) of section 230, particularly whether actions can be “taken in good faith” if they are:

    (A) deceptive, pretextual, or inconsistent with a provider’s terms of service; or

    (B) taken after failing to provide adequate notice, reasoned explanation, or a meaningful opportunity to be heard; and

    (iii) any other proposed regulations that the NTIA concludes may be appropriate to advance the policy described in subsection (a) of this section.

The exact wording is confusing because it’s applying case-by-case rules to entire sites. But the apparent gist is that if a site removes any content in a way that’s not in “good faith,” it’s also permanently liable for any user-generated content.

It also adds a definition of “good faith” that’s effectively a list of forum troll gotchas — good luck delivering a “reasoned explanation” to an obnoxious internet pedant. Also, companies can make terms of service as vague as they want, big platforms like Facebook famously change their terms of service all the time, and many smaller sites covered under Section 230 don’t even have them.

Serious and fairly nonpartisan Section 230 reformers have proposed a kind of “good faith” provision for (c)(1), requiring sites to take “reasonable steps” to remove illegal content. But those are aimed at getting abuse and harassment taken down. Trump just wants to scare sites away from moderating content.

Ironically, the clearest solution Trump’s bill creates for most websites is to implement a “ban anyone for no reason” moderation policy and offer an appeals process that hears complaints but never acts on them. And unlike at least one bill in Congress, Trump’s rules don’t specifically include anti-bias provisions — he just makes it sound like they do.

Again, Trump doesn’t have the power to single-handedly make these rules. The language of Section 230 was passed by Congress and has been repeatedly and consistently interpreted by the courts. The executive branch cannot simply overrule the other two branches of government, but this order makes it clear Trump is going to try.

The Section 230 proposal is the heart of the order, but it adds a variety of other loosely related punishments, too. That includes sanctions for websites, in the form of an order “protecting federal taxpayer dollars from financing online platforms that restrict free speech”:

    (a) The head of each executive department and agency (agency) shall review its agency’s Federal spending on advertising and marketing paid to online platforms. Such review shall include the amount of money spent, the online platforms that receive Federal dollars, and the statutory authorities available to restrict their receipt of advertising dollars.

    (b) Within 30 days of the date of this order, the head of each agency shall report its findings to the Director of the Office of Management and Budget.

    (c) The Department of Justice shall review the viewpoint-based speech restrictions imposed by each online platform identified in the report described in subsection (b) of this section and assess whether any online platforms are problematic vehicles for government speech due to viewpoint discrimination, deception to consumers, or other bad practices.

This is ripe for abuse. Government agencies are supposed to give their online advertising plans to Trump’s Department of Justice, which will decide if the platforms advertised on practice “viewpoint discrimination,” which Trump has clearly defined as removing conservative content. That said, the rule just asks the Justice Department to “review” the sites, not take any firm action.

And for the platforms Trump wants to punish, the dollar figures at stake here are tiny. According to federal procurement records, Twitter has received roughly $200,000 from government agencies since 2008. Twitter made $808 million during the first three months of this year.

I mentioned earlier that Trump’s order conflates all online services with large social media platforms like Twitter and Facebook. To his credit, there’s at least one section where he avoids this. Unfortunately, it’s the section where he appears to... nationalize Twitter and Facebook moderation policies:

    It is the policy of the United States that large online platforms, such as Twitter and Facebook, as the critical means of promoting the free flow of speech and ideas today, should not restrict protected speech. The Supreme Court has noted that social media sites, as the modern public square, “can provide perhaps the most powerful mechanisms available to a private citizen to make his or her voice heard.”

The Supreme Court case that’s being quoted is 2017’s Packingham v. North Carolina, in which the court determined that North Carolina couldn’t ban sex offenders from social media. But the North Carolina state legislature is literally the government, which is barred by the First Amendment from restricting speech. Private companies like Twitter and Facebook are not governments and face no such restrictions — in fact, they have First Amendment rights of their own. The order does nothing to resolve this contradiction.

Trump refers to “protected speech” a few times throughout the order, but he never walks out what that means. A lot of legal speech is objectionable for non-political and largely non-controversial reasons. If you take an absolutist view of the definition, for example, Trump is ordering Facebook to stop banning pornography and spammy ads. It’s easier to accept as a rhetorical flourish, albeit one that’s deeply confusing and unsettling in a formal executive order.

In any case, the potential bombshell gets forgotten quickly in favor of yet another random punishment:

    The FTC shall consider taking action, as appropriate and consistent with applicable law, to prohibit unfair or deceptive acts or practices in or affecting commerce, pursuant to section 45 of title 15, United States Code. Such unfair or deceptive acts or practice may include practices by entities covered by section 230 that restrict speech in ways that do not align with those entities’ public representations about those practices.

I think this section exists so Trump can sue Twitter because it claimed eight years ago to be “the free speech wing of the free speech party.” Given how vague the language is, it comes off as yet another suggestion that government agencies should find reasons to attack Trump’s enemies.

The attorney general is also supposed to start a working group to help states make their own anti-bias laws:

    The Attorney General shall establish a working group regarding the potential enforcement of State statutes that prohibit online platforms from engaging in unfair or deceptive acts or practices. The working group shall also develop model legislation for consideration by legislatures in States where existing statutes do not protect Americans from such unfair and deceptive acts and practices.

The group should also “collect publicly available information regarding” a variety of site behaviors. It’s close to the end of the order, so Trump basically rounds up all his remaining vendettas involving Facebook, YouTube, and Twitter and tells the Justice Department to investigate:

    (i) increased scrutiny of users based on the other users they choose to follow, or their interactions with other users;

    (ii) algorithms to suppress content or users based on indications of political alignment or viewpoint;

    (iii) differential policies allowing for otherwise impermissible behavior, when committed by accounts associated with the Chinese Communist Party or other anti-democratic associations or governments;

    (iv) reliance on third-party entities, including contractors, media organizations, and individuals, with indicia of bias to review content; and

    (v) acts that limit the ability of users with particular viewpoints to earn money on the platform compared with other users similarly situated.

Fact-checking? Check. Twitter “shadowbanning?” Check. Prager University’s YouTube demonetization? Check. Something involving China? Sure, why not.

And finally, the attorney general is supposed to develop a proposal for legislation that would “be useful to promote the policy objectives of this order.” But there’s no detail on that, so we’ll leave it for another time.

It’s hard to capture just how badly this order mangles free speech and the entire legislative process. But one of its worst flaws is a common one: making rules that assume every website is Facebook. We’ve said over and over that Section 230 is not “a gift to big tech companies.” It’s a gift to the internet. Trump’s order makes that clearer than ever — because unlike even a fairly similar proposal from Sen. Josh Hawley (R-MO), its “online platform” definition explicitly targets all websites, not just the biggest by users or revenue.

I wasn’t kidding about the birdwatching forum.

If you take this order seriously, every website with a comment section — and possibly even cloud storage services or online creative tools — is going to be covered by a convoluted set of probably unconstitutional regulations designed to stop Donald Trump from getting fact-checked on Twitter.

Trump has a long-standing habit of throwing out absurd ideas and then forgetting about them. But he’s also filed expansive executive orders and been outraged when courts objected and then filed successively narrower versions until he got one past the courts. It’s plausible Trump does really think he can force websites to carry political content he likes, and if this order is any indication, nobody is stepping in to correct him.
Mark Twain — 'There are many humorous things in the world; among them, the white man's notion that he is less savage than the other savages.'

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Britain Pushing US To Form 5G Club Of Nations To Cut Out Huawei
« Reply #16043 on: May 29, 2020, 04:51:21 PM »
"D10" is coming for Huawei, if Britain has its way

Britain said Friday it was pushing the United States to form a club of 10 nations that could develop its own 5G technology and reduce dependence on China's controversial telecoms giant Huawei.

The issue is expected to feature at a G7 summit that US President Donald Trump will host next month against the backdrop of a fierce confrontation with China that has been exacerbated by a global blame game over the spread of the novel coronavirus.

Britain has allowed the Chinese global leader in 5G technology to build up to 35 percent of the infrastructure necessary to roll out its new speedy data network.

But Prime Minister Boris Johnson was reported by The Daily Telegraph last week to have instructed officials to draw up plans to cut Huawei out of the network by 2023 as relations with China sour.

The Times newspaper said Britain is proposing a "D10" club of democratic partners that groups the G7 nations with Australia and the Asian technology leaders South Korea and India.

It said one of the options involves channelling investments into existing telecommunication companies within the 10 member states.

A Downing Street spokesman confirmed that Britain is reaching out to partners in search for an alternative to Huawei.

"We (are) seeking new entrants into the market in order to diversify and that is something we've been speaking with our allies about, including the United States," the Downing Street spokesman said.

Finland's Nokia and Sweden's Ericsson are Europe's only current alternative options for supplying 5G equipment such as antennas and relay masts.

"We need new entrants to the market," a UK government source told The Times.

"That was the reason we ended up having to go along with Huawei at the time."

Johnson's decision to include Huawei angered Washington because it believes that the private Chinese company can either spy on Western communications or simply shut down the UK network under orders from Beijing.

The United States has imposed several rounds of sanctions on Huawei that have put the future of Britain's 5G rollout in peril.

Downing Street said the UK National Cyber Security Centre was studying the implication of the US sanctions on Huawei's immediate ability to produce the equipment Britain needs.

Pressure on Johnson to cut ties with Huawei is being compounded by the new security law Beijing plans to impose on the once British-held Hong Kong.

London has infuriated Beijing by saying it would offer almost three million Hong Kong residents UK visa rights and a pathway to future citizenship if the new law goes into effect.

But Johnson's reported plan to completely remove Huawei from the UK network could prove costly at a time when his government is seeking new trade partners following Britain's exit from the EU.

It is also proving difficult to implement because private UK firms are pushing for the technology in order to stay competitive in a tight market.

Britain's BT said this month it was abandoning plans to strip out Huawei from the most sensitive part of its networks by the end of the year because the government's own deadline was set at 2023.
Mark Twain — 'There are many humorous things in the world; among them, the white man's notion that he is less savage than the other savages.'

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Climate concerns as Siberia experiences record-breaking heat
« Reply #16044 on: May 29, 2020, 05:40:04 PM »
NBC News

Heat wave sparks concerns about devastating wildfire season and melting permafrost.

Satellite imagery of a wildfire in Siberia, Russia above the arctic circle on May 19, 2020

One of the coldest places on Earth is experiencing a record-breaking heat wave

One of the coldest regions on Earth has been experiencing a record-breaking heat wave in recent weeks amid growing fears about devastating wildfires and melting permafrost.

Khatanga, a town in Siberia’s Arctic Circle, registered highs of over 80 degrees Fahrenheit this week, according to Accuweather, far above the 59 degrees F historical average, as the whole of western Siberia basked in unseasonable warmth.

While locals flocked to popular spots to sunbathe, experts sounded alarms about the possible implications for the region’s wildfire season this summer, with some blazes already breaking out in recent months.

Fires burned huge areas in the region last year and, at its peak, smoke engulfed an area larger than the whole European Union, the World Meteorological Organization reported.

“It is very much possible that this year, we will have another fire catastrophe in Siberia,” Anton Beneslavskiy, a wildfire expert with Greenpeace Russia, said.

“Catastrophes became the new business as usual for Siberia in the last 20 years,” he added.

From January to April, Russia was 11 degrees F warmer than average, according to the climate science nonprofit Berkeley Earth.

“That's not only a new record anomaly for Russia. That's the largest January to April anomaly ever seen in any country's national average,” Robert Rohde, Berkeley Earth lead scientist tweeted.

The pace of global warming in Russia is over twice as fast as the global average, Russia's deputy U.N. envoy said last year. But the situation in the Arctic is even more stark with the region warming at over three times the global average.

Much of the Arctic region is covered by permafrost — carbon rich soil that should remain frozen throughout the year — and rapid warming is causing it to melt, said Thomas Smith, an assistant professor of environmental geography at the London School of Economics.

Permafrost, he said, stores vast amounts of carbon, which means that when it melts, planet-warming greenhouse gasses are emitted.

“That can further drive climate change and global warming,” he said.

Image: A satellite image showing wildfires in the Novosibirsk Region, south Siberia on April 27, 2020

“The second problem is that if the land is thawed out, and if it dries out with these high temperatures, then that soil is actually available to burn as a fuel for a fire,” he added.

These fires that emit greenhouse gases can smolder for weeks or months, “even when it has rained,” Smith said.

The unusual heat has also disrupted a number of natural cycles, according to the Siberian Times, with river ice breaking, blooms coming earlier and insects emerging earlier than normal.

While temperatures in the region have temporarily dropped, the heat is forecast to return next week.
Mark Twain — 'There are many humorous things in the world; among them, the white man's notion that he is less savage than the other savages.'

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Re: Knarf's Knewz Channel
« Reply #16045 on: May 29, 2020, 06:35:06 PM »
Novosibirsk is a long way from the arctic circle.  If it were in Canada it would be in the middle.
Under ideal conditions of temperature and pressure the organism will grow without limit.

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This was the first year that computers had the power to add live voice and instruments to the songs created.

I believe this one was about Shooting of Amadou Diallo

In the early hours of February 4, 1999, a 23-year-old Guinean immigrant named Amadou Diallo (born September 2, 1975) was shot and killed by four New York City Police Department plain-clothed officers—Sean Carroll, Richard Murphy, Edward McMellon, and Kenneth Boss. Carroll would later claim to have mistaken him for a rape suspect from one year earlier, though his claim was never confirmed by any objective evidence. The officers fired a combined total of 41 shots, 19 of which struck Diallo, outside his apartment at 1157 Wheeler Avenue in the Soundview section of the Bronx.

The four officers, who were part of the now-defunct Street Crimes Unit, were charged with second-degree murder and acquitted at trial in Albany, New York.[1] Diallo was unarmed and a firestorm of controversy erupted after the event, as the circumstances of the shooting prompted outrage both inside and outside of New York. Issues such as police brutality, racial profiling, and contagious shooting were central to the ensuing controversy.

Bruce Springsteen - American Skin (41 Shots) (Lyrics)  The Pro version of the incident.

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« Last Edit: May 29, 2020, 10:19:22 PM by knarf »
Mark Twain — 'There are many humorous things in the world; among them, the white man's notion that he is less savage than the other savages.'

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"Snowball" our dog waiting patiently this morn to be freed from the goat pen
« Reply #16047 on: May 30, 2020, 10:32:56 AM »
I just figured out that you can attach files on your computer to the messages!!!! After however many years I didn't realize that, really gives me pause at my so called use of intuition.  :laugh:
Mark Twain — 'There are many humorous things in the world; among them, the white man's notion that he is less savage than the other savages.'

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Houston — US renewable energy consumption in 2019 surpassed coal energy consumption for the first time in 130 years as coal used for electricity continues to decline while more renewables are joining the grid as part of an energy transition to cleaner power sources, according to the U.S. Energy Information Administration's Monthly Energy Review.

Total renewable energy consumption in 2019 reached a record high of 11.5 quadrillion Btus, an increase of 1.4% year on year and the fourth straight year to grow, according to the report. Meanwhile, coal energy consumption fell to 11.3 quads, a drop of 15% year on year to its lowest level since 1964 and its sixth consecutive year to fall.

"This outcome mainly reflects the continued decline in the amount of coal used for electricity generation over the past decade as well as growth in renewable energy, mostly from wind and solar," according to EIA.

Coal burns in 2020 are expected to be down even more than in 2019 and renewable generation is expected to be even greater, according to S&P Global Platts Analytics.

"This is a result of low gas prices as much as it is a result of renewable capacity build out," said Manan Ahuja, Platts Analytics North American manager.

Natural gas spot prices for Henry Hub dropped more than 19% year on year to average $2.514/MMBtu in 2019, according to Platts assessments. So far in 2020, Henry Hub has averaged $1.802/MMBtu, plunging nearly 35% for the same period a year ago.

Natural gas consumption in the electric power sector has significantly increased in recent years, displacing much of the electricity generation from retired coal plants, according to EIA.

Coal capacity shrank by roughly 10 GW over the last 12 months due to retirements and conversions to gas while gas capacity, inclusive of conversions and repowering projects, added more than 8 GW, according to Platts Analytics' North American Electricity Short-Term Forecast.

Coal is expected to lose a total of 7,200 MW to retirements in 2020 and 3,350 MW in 2021, on top of 13,642 MW in 2019, according to Platts Analytics.

Even so, Plats Analytics expects some rebound in coal generation in 2021, due to higher gas prices, though coal still may not get to 2018 levels, Ahuja said.

Historically, wood was the main source of energy in the US until the mid-1800s and was the only commercial-scale renewable source of energy until the first hydropower plants began producing electricity in the 1880s, EIA noted. Coal was used in the early 1800s as fuel for steam-powered boats and trains and making steel, and it was later used to generate electricity in the 1880s.

About 90% of all coal consumption is in the electric power sector today, according to EIA. Renewable energy is more broadly consumed by every sector in the US with about 56% used in the electric power sector, 22% in industrial, 12% for transportation, 7% by residential and 2% in commercial, according to EIA.

Since 2015, US renewable energy growth is almost entirely attributable to the use of wind and solar in the electric power sector. Electricity generation from wind surpassed hydro for the first time in 2019 and is now the most-used source of renewable energy for electricity generation in the country on an annual basis, according to EIA.

About 11,830 MW of wind power capacity was added to the US grid in 2019 and wind is expected to grow by another 15,298 MW in 2020. US solar power generation capacity grew by 5,276 MW in 2019 and is expected to increase by 10,100 MW in 2020, according to Platts Analytics.

With the US consuming more renewable power, EIA projected electricity generation from renewable sources such as wind and solar to surpass nuclear and coal by 2021 and then to surpass natural gas in 2045 with the share of renewables in the US electricity generation mix expected to increase from 19% in 2019 to 38% in 2050, according to EIA data.
Mark Twain — 'There are many humorous things in the world; among them, the white man's notion that he is less savage than the other savages.'

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SpaceX rocket ship lifts off with 2 Americans
« Reply #16049 on: May 30, 2020, 12:43:58 PM »

CAPE CANAVERAL, Fla. (AP) — A rocket ship built by Elon Musk’s SpaceX company thundered away from Earth with two Americans on Saturday, ushering in a new era of commercial space travel and putting NASA back in the business of launching astronauts from U.S. soil for the first time in nearly a decade.

NASA’s Doug Hurley and Bob Behnken rode skyward aboard a sleek, white-and-black, bullet-shaped Dragon capsule on top of a Falcon 9 rocket, lifting off from the same launch pad used to send the Apollo astronauts to the moon a half-century ago. The flight had been delayed three days because of stormy weather in Florida.

“Let’s light this candle,” Hurley said, borrowing the words used by Alan Shepard on America’s first human spaceflight in 1961.

The two men are scheduled to arrive at the International Space Station on Sunday for a stay of up to four months, after which they will return to Earth in a Right Stuff-style splashdown at sea.

The mission unfolded amid the gloom of the coronavirus outbreak, which has killed over 100,000 Americans, and racial unrest across the U.S. over the death of George Floyd, a handcuffed black man, at the hands of Minneapolis police. NASA officials and others held out hope the flight would would be a morale-booster.

“Maybe there’s an opportunity here for America to maybe pause and look up and see a bright, shining moment of hope at what the future looks like, that the United States of America can do extraordinary things even in difficult times,” NASA Administrator Jim Bridenstine said before launch.

With the on-time 3:22 p.m. liftoff, SpaceX, founded by Musk, the Tesla electric-car visionary, became the first private company to launch people toward/into orbit, a feat achieved previously by only three governments: the U.S., Russia and China.

The flight also ended a nine-year launch drought for NASA, the longest such hiatus in its history. Ever since it retired the space shuttle in 2011, NASA has relied on Russian spaceships launched from Kazakhstan to take U.S. astronauts to and from the space station.

In the intervening years, NASA outsourced the job of designing and building its next generation of spaceships to SpaceX and Boeing, awarding them $7 billion in contracts in a public-private partnership aimed at driving down costs and spurring innovation. Boeing’s spaceship, the Starliner capsule, is not expected to fly astronauts until early 2021.

Musk said earlier in the week that the project is aimed at “reigniting the dream of space and getting people fired up about the future.”

Ultimately, NASA hopes to rely in part on its commercial partners as it works to send astronauts back to the moon in the next few years, and on to Mars in the 2030s.

Before setting out for the launch pad in a gull-wing Tesla SUV — another Musk product — Behnken pantomimed a hug of his 6-year-old son, Theo, and said: “Are you going to listen to Mommy and make her life easy?” Hurley blew kisses to his 10-year-old son and wife.

Inside Kennedy Space Center, attendance was strictly limited because of the coronavirus, and the small crowd of a few thousand was a shadow of what it would have been without the threat of COVID-19. President Donald Trump and Vice President Mike Pence flew in for the event for the second time in four days.

By NASA’s count, over 3 million viewers tuned in online.

Despite NASA’s insistence that the public stay safe by staying home, spectators gathered along beaches and roads hours in advance.

Among them was Neil Wight, a machinist from Buffalo, New York, who staked out a view of the launch pad from a park in Titusville.

“It’s pretty historically significant in my book, and a lot of other people’s books. With everything that’s going on in this country right now, it’s important that we do things extraordinary in life,” Wight said. “We’ve been bombarded with doom and gloom for the last six, eight weeks, whatever it is, and this is awesome. It brings a lot of people together.”

The astronauts were kept in quasi-quarantine for more than two months before liftoff. The SpaceX technicians who helped them get into their spacesuits wore masks and gloves that made them look like black-clad ninjas. And at the launch center, the SpaceX controllers were seated far apart.

Hurley, a 53-year-old retired Marine, and Behnken, 49, an Air Force colonel, are veterans of two space shuttle flights each. Hurley piloted the space shuttle on the last launch of astronauts from Kennedy, on July 8, 2011.

In keeping with Musk’s penchant for futuristic flash, the astronauts wore angular white uniforms with black trim. Instead of the usual multitude of dials, knobs and switches, the Dragon capsule has three large touchscreens.

SpaceX has been launching cargo capsules to the space station since 2012. In preparation for Wednesday’s flight, SpaceX sent up a Dragon capsule with only a test dummy aboard last year, and it docked smoothly at the orbiting outpost on autopilot, then returned to Earth in a splashdown.

During the Mercury, Gemini, Apollo and shuttle programs, NASA relied on aerospace contractors to build spacecraft according to the agency’s designs. NASA owned and operated the ships.

Under the new, 21st-century partnership, aerospace companies design, build, own and operate the spaceships, and NASA is essentially a paying customer on a list that could eventually include non-government researchers, artists and tourists. (Tom Cruise has already expressed interest.)

“What Elon Musk has done for the American space program is he has brought vision and inspiration that we hadn’t had” since the shuttle’s retirement in 2011, Bridenstine said on the eve of launch. He called the SpaceX chief “brilliant” and said Musk has “absolutely delivered” for NASA.

The mission is technically considered by SpaceX and NASA to be a test flight. The next SpaceX voyage to the space station, set for the end of August, will have a full, four-person crew: three Americans and one Japanese.

Wednesday’s first human flight was originally targeted for around 2015. But NASA’s commercial crew program encountered bureaucratic delays and technical setbacks.

A SpaceX capsule exploded on the test stand last year. Boeing’s first Starliner capsule ended up in the wrong orbit during an crew-less test flight in December and was nearly destroyed at the mission’s end. Both companies had trouble with such things as the landing parachutes.

Mark Twain — 'There are many humorous things in the world; among them, the white man's notion that he is less savage than the other savages.'