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Conditions in the Great Plains are devastating farmers and ranchers.

As wildfires blaze across the West, parts of Montana and the Dakotas are experiencing one of the worst droughts in recent memory. With pastures so parched that they can’t support cattle, ranchers are accepting donations of hay from wetter parts of the country and selling their animals and considering taking second jobs to get by. Farmers are also struggling. Crop harvests are a fraction of normal—the estimated yield for durum wheat in North Dakota and Montana, for example, is about half what it was last year.

A strip of field that wasn’t seeded stands out in farmer Bob Kuylen’s wheat field in South Heart, North Dakota. After a hot and dry summer, wheat stalks across North and South Dakota are only about knee-high, bearing small heads.

The current catastrophe began as a “flash drought,” a dry period that comes on very quickly. Late spring and early summer are typically pretty soggy in the northern Great Plains—but not this year, says Natalie Umphlett, regional climatologist and interim director of the High Plains Regional Climate Center at the University of Nebraska. If the region doesn’t get enough rain during that critical time, she says, “it’s hard to make that up.”

The drought is expected to persist across eastern Montana and the western side of the Dakotas through at least the end of October, according to the July 20 seasonal outlook produced by the National Weather Service’s Climate Prediction Center. Even if the region does get more rain, it’s too late for some plants, says F. Adnan Akyüz, the North Dakota state climatologist and a professor at North Dakota State University. If certain crops don’t germinate or emerge early in the season, the impact is “irreversible,” Akyüz says. “Any additional precipitation is not going to fill the gaps.”

After a hot, dry summer, farmers in South Heart, North Dakota, say their yields are among the worst they’ve ever seen.

With this particular dry spell still unfolding, it’s too early to tell if it was caused by climate change, Umphlett says. But droughts like this one will likely become more common in the future. That’s in part because plants use more water when they’re heat stressed, Umphlett says, so rising temperatures mean the amount of rain that sufficed in the past may no longer be enough to satiate thirsty plants.

For people interested in buying a Leaf three or four years (you can get one for $12,000 or less) old with high mileage, the following is basically the only cost you need to add to the purchase to get as much mileage out of it as a brand new one.

Source: Leaf Forum:
Note: Wipers, tires, and possibly wheel bearing changes (after 125,000 miles) are the only other maintenance issues to consider.
Labor historian Paul Le Blanc is the author of more than 20 books and has served as an editor of the eight-volume International Encyclopedia of Revolution and Protest (2009) and of the Complete Works of Rosa Luxemburg (begun in 2013). Le Blanc has more than half a century of activist experience in social movements and is an internationally recognized scholar of working-class history and revolutionary politics.

In this interview, Le Blanc discusses the radicalization process that he sees unfolding in the United States today and possible revolutionary strategies for the future.

Vaios Triantafyllou: Given the current shape of the left in the United States and in Europe, do you think that it is possible to build a revolutionary movement that is conscious of its demands and tactics? What would the role of the vanguard of the working class be in this process, and how would spontaneity be nurtured into consciousness?

Paul LeBlanc: I think that, as you said, there is this broad radicalization that is taking place internationally ... with large numbers of people not accepting the status quo, challenging the status quo, reacting against the status quo (which is a capitalist status quo).... All of this does create circumstances for the coming together of a substantial left-wing force in American politics, and I think the same thing has happened in various other countries. There is nothing automatic about that. It may not be realized, but possibilities exist now that haven't existed for years in this country for that kind of left-wing development.

I want to talk more about both the word vanguard and the word working class, because they are both so important.

The working class is comprised of people who are selling their ability to work for a paycheck. The great majority of people are working class, but this [category is internally] very diverse. It's diverse in different ways: it's racially diverse, it's age diverse, it's gender diverse, etc. But it is diverse in a different way, as well. There are certain layers of the working class that are conscious of various problems, are developing ideas on what those problems are, are developing ideas on what should be done, are starting to engage in struggles to bring about changes for the better ... when I talk about the vanguard, that's what I'm talking about.

Things are very different today compared to 1917.... Things have changed, but not everything has changed. So, the question is: Can we find lessons and insights from the earlier experience [of revolutionary uprising] that are relevant to our experience?

One question is: What is meant by spontaneity? If I am guided by a left-wing organization and doing things on behalf of the organization, that's not necessarily spontaneous. If, on the other hand, I (along with my friends, and neighbors and workmates, and so forth) react against something bad that is happening, trying to do something about it, that could be considered spontaneous.

The thing about that kind of spontaneity, though, is that I am influenced by what others have done. For example, some of my thinking is influenced by Martin Luther King Jr. and the civil rights movement, some of my thinking is influenced by what happened with the labor movement (my parents were part of the trade union movement), and so on and so forth.

The fact is that there were left-wing organizations in the past, organizations that shared ideas, that engaged in action, that spread ideas of socialism and human rights and the socialist perspective that all of us have the right to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness -- not just politically, but economically. I have soaked that in, and some of my neighbors and workmates may have soaked that in. We don't know exactly where it came from, but it came from the larger political struggles and culture of previous times and that were influenced by left-wing organizations.

The kind of process that I envision, the kind of process that has been taking place and will continue to take place, is this interplay between organization and spontaneity, the interplay between left-wing groups that may be competing with each other but which also are all contributing to the larger ferment. There is an interplay of such groups with the thinking and actions of people who are reacting to their experience, as it develops under the present stage of capitalist development.

There are several movements that engage in one-issue campaigning. Many people fighting for these rights are liberals opposing socialist principles. How can socialists engage in such campaigns alongside liberals?

There are some liberals who have an anti-socialist perspective, because although they may understand what socialism is, they just believe it won't work, and therefore they support capitalism. In fact, the majority of people in this country don't self-identify as socialists. How do you work with them? How do you win them to socialism?

You can't win them simply by giving them a damn good book, or a leaflet, or by having a series of conversations with them. That may influence their thinking but it won't win them to socialism. They have to win themselves to socialism, in large measure through their own experience, and discussions that we have will be part of the chemistry of that. But there has to be a certain experience through which the idea of socialism makes sense. Now one thing that is helpful in this is capitalism, and the way it is functioning right now is horrible....

There are many people like Al Gore who now favor single-payer health care, just like Gore is in favor of fighting against climate change, although on the matter of being in favor of capitalism, I would imagine Gore has not changed his mind on that. But I can work in a united front with Al Gore and people like him around an issue. We can build a united front around an issue, agree to disagree on questions of socialism and all kinds of other things, but unite on the issue that we agree on, build enough of a coalition to win the battle. Now, in that struggle, any socialist worth his or her salt will be connecting that to the idea of socialism and to the need for socialism.... We talk, we share ideas, we do good work, and we show that these socialists are good people and good activists, that they do good work, that they have interesting ideas. This is how we will build a socialist consciousness and a socialist movement, not just by giving people a pamphlet to read or giving a speech, but by this practical experience through struggle, through united front campaigns around specific issues.

Do you believe that some principles that govern modern representative Western democracies, such as separation of powers, would still be applicable to a socialist democracy? If not, what would be the "checks and balances" and how would a bureaucratic abuse of power be prevented?

Those are crucial questions. You make a reference to bureaucracy, and with this we have a cluster of questions that anyone who is seriously thinking about socialism has to wrestle with. I want to focus on that in a moment.

We don't have a clear model of socialism because there has never been a socialist society in the way that I define socialism. There have been societies and countries with governments that define themselves as socialist, but these have generally been dictatorships, some of them terrible, some of them not as terrible, but still dictatorships, not genuinely democratic and therefore not genuinely socialist.

What would socialism look like? Marx, unlike many of the so-called utopian socialists, didn't draw any blueprints of what the future society should look like. The utopian Charles Fourier, for example, drew up elaborate, fascinating blueprints. One of the reasons Marx didn't draw any blueprints is that he saw socialism as organically blended with democracy and with the majority class that was coming into being -- the working class. Therefore, he didn't want to be some kind of dictator over the working class, with his own plans and his own blueprint to superimpose on the future society. Rather, the future society is something that needs to be worked out by the people of that society -- the working-class majority that is going to shape the socialist society. There are some general principles that Marx articulated. But not blueprints on the exact structure of the economy, or the exact structure of the government. Also, it is impossible to know when and where the revolution is going to happen and what the actual conditions are going to be. So, part of your blueprint might not be relevant to the actualities of that situation. So, Marx's reluctance about blueprints is valid.

On the other hand, when there was a working-class uprising in Paris, creating the Paris Commune of 1871, there were specific organizational structures that crystallized. Engels afterwards said, "Hey, you want to see the dictatorship of the proletariat? That's it!" Marx wrote a pamphlet explaining the structure of the Paris Commune and said that's what we want. That structure involved a certain degree of representative democracy; that is, there were representatives elected to help oversee things, there was a multiparty situation, there was a lot of control by the people over their representatives, you didn't have a government so far above the people that the people couldn't control it. All the people in the government were not paid more than a well-paid worker in society, so that there was a close interplay between the genuinely democratic government and the people. Marx and Engels said that's the kind of thing we should look for.

In my opinion, the transition to socialism will require some kind of representative democracy, at least in much of our political and economic life. Not all of us are in a position to be focusing all of our energy and all of our attention to making sure that the right decisions are made all the time on various complex issues. That has to be delegated to people who we elect, control and trust. That means representative democracy. There needs to be representative democracy, freedom of speech, freedom of expression, freedom of organization, freedom to put forward alternatives to the existing policies, whether they are political or economic. There need to be "checks and balances." The interests of the workers at the workplace are not necessarily fully consistent with government that seeks to represent the general interests of society as a whole. This means that workers need to have some say over what is happening at work -- that is a check....

Socialism will require a certain amount of pluralism, and checks and balances can be valuable. The transition period can be chaotic, so there will be a need to determine what is the line of authority, but there have to be various ways for people to express their opinions and discontent and to push for a different balance from what the balance has come to be in a community or workplace. There will be different parties or organizations with different values or plans that they will push for and try to win others to. That is essential for genuine socialism to work. If there is only one party, with one leadership and one program, you can't have socialism or democracy.

I think that a transition to socialism should be seen in that way. But at the same time, you are talking about people's lives: food, clothing, shelter. You can't wait 20 years to get certain things right. There are going to have to be certain things done immediately or in the short-term. Certain basic things need to be guaranteed to everyone as a matter of right, and therefore there is a certain matter of central planning that needs to be implemented right away. Everyone should have a right to good health care, everyone, as soon as possible should have the right to a decent home, everyone should have food -- at least a basic, decent diet; there needs to be a decent transit system.

While certain centrally implemented policies will be required from the beginning, it seems to me within such central implementation there have to be checks and balances and democratic expression. Beyond providing for the basic needs, there is greater room for testing alternative policies -- we can try one thing or another thing and see what happens. What role can the market play that would be positive? Marxists debate that today. But, there has to be an openness, pluralism, a democracy if we are going to get to socialism.

It seems like a central planning of the economy is a very demanding task, most probably demanding a very sophisticated system, or structures, to translate the concept "from each according to his ability to each according to his needs" from meaningless jargon to a much-needed actuality. Is it possible to create such a blueprint in advance, or is this something that will be developed in the process as you mentioned above? Was there such a plan in the case of the Russian Revolution?

First of all, it seems to me that as we build an effective, large socialist movement that is struggling for power, through reform efforts and people's assemblies, through trade unions, and through our own political party with running candidates, we must have a program. We won't have everything mapped out and blueprinted, but there are certain proposals that we should make. Some of them will involve central planning, as I have already indicated: Everyone should get food, clothing, shelter; everyone should get health care and education; there should be mass transit; there must be preservation of a livable environment -- these will be part of the program. There are limited resources, and this has to factored into the program, so we cannot promise everything to everyone. There are a lot more resources than there appear to be, because they are monopolized and used wastefully by those who control the economy now. But even if there is a democratization of the economy, there will be limitations and urgent needs. So, built into the actual struggles there have to be program proposals that will be implemented if we take power.

There has also to be an understanding that there will be a transitional period. In the Communist Manifesto, if you take a good look at it, Marx and Engels talk about the development of democracy within the larger economy. They don't see the transition as an immediate establishment of a socialist economy. As the working class takes power, there will be more and more policies that erode, undermine and ultimately replace capitalism. What that means is that we are not talking about an immediate transition to socialism, and Lenin was aware that this was impossible in Russia, because you didn't have the economic basis for that. Russia was an impoverished country. Socialism cannot be built on the basis of poverty, because then regardless of what is supposed to happen, people will be competing for scarce resources. Those that will get a little bit more power will be able to get more resources and push others down, and the same thing that has afflicted all class societies will start all over again. This was an idea developed by Marx, and it was keenly felt by Lenin and others: We cannot have socialism based on poverty.

Even in a more prosperous economy, there will have to be a transitional period, which means that there will still be a mixed economy, which means that there will still be capitalism. But there will be regulation of capitalism, the creation of public services that will be guaranteed, and public sectors of the economy. The new government must work to facilitate that with an array of organizations, pluralist organizations -- community, city and factory-wide, as well as national entities -- that are elected and controlled by the people, that will help push in this socialist economic direction. There will be controversies and there will inevitably be some chaos, as is natural in any political situation, certainly in one of revolutionary transition.

So, it will not be a simple process, and Lenin didn't envision a simple process. But what he envisioned (and it turned out he was wrong, it didn't work out this way) was the following: He came in with a plan and one aspect of it was workers' control of the economy through trade unions and factory committees. This did not mean the workers taking over the factories (and there were workers who wanted to do that, and they put their bosses and managers in wheel barrels, rolled them out of the factories, and dumped them on the street). But what Lenin argued, and what the workers found out, was that they didn't know how to run the factory yet. It's one thing to make certain kinds of things in the factory, but then how do you connect it to the rest of the economy and run the economy? It is not a simple process.

And so, Lenin was assuming and hoping that an understanding could be worked out at least with many of the capitalists: they would continue to function, but workers would be watching, workers would be making sure the capitalists would not be cheating, workers would be learning more and more how this operates and eventually there could be a transition. That was the intention of "workers' control" -- the workers would know how to operate this part of the factory, connected to the other factories, and other parts of the economy, workers in conjunction with the central government, and a transition would take place. That was the original notion of how to make the transition.

Lenin was also aware that you cannot have a socialist economy in a single country, because what you had at that time (as well as today) was a global capitalist economy. So, you had an economic interdependence of various national economies, and for this socialist thing to work there would need to be working-class socialist revolutions in other countries as well, which is why Lenin and his comrades were helping to build the Communist International. That issue still is the case, I think, and poses a challenge for us.

But what happened after the Russian Revolution was that successful revolutions did not take place in other countries, and the Russian capitalists didn't go along with their long-term extinction. As quickly as they could, they helped enemies of the revolution, they got out and tried to take back as much of their factories as they could (that's why you need workers' control, too, to stop them from doing that). The result was that the economy was prematurely nationalized. The workers didn't know how to run the factories and the Communists didn't know how to run the economy. So, while there was a premature attempt at very extensive central planning, all kinds of mistakes were made. This was taking place amidst a civil war, under the impact of World War I on the Russian economy, as well as under the impact of an economic blockade imposed by capitalist countries. So, you had a super-centralized situation that was destroying the early Soviet economy. As soon as the civil war basically was ended, Lenin and the majority of the Bolsheviks shifted back to the direction of a mixed economy, a New Economic Policy. They did it in many different ways, it's interesting to look at it -- they made mistakes, but some things they did were good, and they got the economy going again.

All of this may not be completely applicable to our situation. We don't know what the situation is going to be. What we know is that there is going to be a transitional period, that there are going to be screw-ups, that certain balances could be established, that we need to go in aware that we are dealing with life and death issues, and therefore we have to have some initial plans in place.
27 people arrested

BOSTON – Tens of thousands of counterprotesters crammed Boston Common and marched through city streets Saturday morning in efforts to drown out the planned “free speech” rally that many feared would be attended by white-supremacist groups.

By 1 p.m., the handful of rally attendees had left the Boston Common pavillion, concluding their event without planned speeches. A victorious cheer went up among the counterprotesters, as many began to leave. Hundreds of others danced in circles and sang, “Hey hey, ho ho. White supremacy has got to go.”

City officials said that at least 40,000 people participated in the counter protest, 20,000 of whom participated in a march across town. Tensions flared as police escorted some rally attendees out of the Common, prompting several physical altercations between police and counterprotesters.

Boston Police Commissioner William Evans said there were 27 arrests, primarily for disorderly conduct. He said no officers or protesters were injured and there was no property damage. Evans added that three individuals were wearing ballistics vests, one of whom was later found to be armed. It is unclear if those three are among the arrests.

Evans said there were three groups of people in attendance: attendees of the “free speech” rally, counter protesters, and a small group of people who showed up to cause trouble.

“Overall everyone did a good job,” Evans said. “99.9 percent of people were here for the right reason, and that’s to fight bigotry.”

Boston Mayor Martin J. Walsh met up with the counterprotesters at the march.

“I think it’s clear today that Boston stood for peace and love, not bigotry and hate,” he said.

[‘Donald Trump brought me here today’: Counterprotesters rout neo-Nazi rally in Berlin]

President Donald Trump praised law enforcement and Mayor Marty Walsh via tweet Saturday afternoon for their handling of the crowds, saying that there appeared to be “many anti-police agitators in Boston.” More than an hour later, he tweeted support for protesters.

The showdown between right-wing ralliers and the far larger group of counterprotesters in the heart of downtown Boston comes just one week after a chaotic gathering of far-right political groups — including neo-Nazis, white supremacists and Ku Klux Klan members — left dozens injured and one woman dead in Charlottesville after a reported neo-Nazi allegedly plowed his car into a crowd of counterprotesters.

In anticipation of potential violence, city officials corralled more than 500 police officers onto the Common, installed security cameras and constructed elaborate barriers to separate the free-speech rally from the massive demonstration in opposition to it. The handful of rally attendees gathered beneath a pavilion near the center of the Common, surrounded by metal barriers and dozens of police. Several hundred feet away, thousands of counterprotesters surrounding them carrying signs declaring “Black Lives Matter” and “Hate Has No Home In Boston,” while mockingly chanting “we can’t hear you” when it appeared the ralliers had begun to speak.

One moment of tension came when rally attendees ventured outside of the barriers and were promptly confronted by counterprotesters. One man, draped in a Donald Trump flag, was immediately surrounded by media, while demonstrators chanted at him to “go home.”

One rally attendee, Luke St. Onge, a young man wearing a red “Make America Great Again” hat and GOP T-shirt, said he came even though he knew it might be attended by white-supremacist groups, whose views he said he does not agree with.

“I definitely wouldn’t associate myself with the KKK or any white supremacist. I don’t stand with them at all,” said St. Onge, who is from Las Vegas. “I do support their right to an opinion,” he added. “Free speech is definitely something I stand for.”

42 photos

Plans for the Boston rally, which organizers said was not about white supremacy or Confederate monuments, were nearly scrapped following the violence in Charlottesville. Several speakers pulled out of or were uninvited from the event, but John Medlar, a Boston-area college student and the rally’s lead organizer, said that the rally would go on.

Among those who were scheduled to speak were Joe Biggs, formerly a writer for the conspiracy-theory website Infowars, and Kyle Chapman, a far-right activist charged with beating counterdemonstrators with a wooden pole during a clash at the University of California in Berkeley earlier this year, though it is unclear if either man attended. Members of the KKK told the Boston Herald that they expected several of the group’s members to attend, but there was little, if any, visible KKK presence at the rally.

“There have been questions about why we granted a permit for the rally,” Walsh said on Friday. “The courts have made it abundantly clear. They have the right to gather, no matter how repugnant their views are. But they don’t have the right to create unsafe conditions. They have the right to free speech. In return, they have to respect our city.”

“We will not be offering our platform to racism or bigotry,” organizers said in a Facebook post earlier this week. “We denounce the politics of supremacy and violence.”

Last week’s gathering in Virginia was ostensibly in protest of the proposed removal of a statue of Confederate Gen. Robert E. Lee. In the days since, cities across the nation have announced the removal of dozens of Confederate monuments, sparking anew the long-heated debate over what, if anything, should be done with the hundreds of statutes, streets, and schoolhouses named after or in honor of those who fought to maintain slavery.

Thousands of protesters are expected to attend rallies calling for the removal of Confederate monuments at cities across the country this weekend, including Dallas and New Orleans. Meanwhile, supporters of the Confederate monuments are also organizing, with a rally planned in Hot Springs, Ark.

Organizers in Boston said today’s gathering is not in solidarity with white nationalists, but few of those who attended the massive counterprotest believed them. Across town, thousands began gathering before 10 a.m. on Malcolm X Boulevard for a march to the Common.

“We’re not standing for it. We’re not standing (for) white supremacy. We’re not going to have it in our city, not in Boston,” said Boston activist Monica Cannon, who was among those who organized the counterprotest. “We want to send a clear message that you don’t get to come to the city of Boston with your hatred.”

Rebecca Koskinen stood in front of her brick rowhouse on Tremont Street, awaiting the marchers, with her daughters Elle, 5, and Liv, 1. The older daughter’s sign read “I’m only five and even I know Black Lives Matter.”

Koskinen said she and her husband, who are white, had taken the girls to the several other marches earlier this year and felt that it was important to show support for an event that was particularly important to people of color – especially because Elle will soon start kindergarten at a private school that is less diverse than the South End neighborhood where they live.

“Because she’s not going to public school, it felt really important to me to talk about this with her and how different groups are treated,” Koskinen said.

Joel Moran, a Boston resident who attended the march with his partner and a friend, said he was moved to “have my voice heard against white supremacists, against people who think that, for some reason, they have more rights than other people have.”

Moran said they were “absolutely” influenced to participate today after the tragedy in Charlottesville.

“It wasn’t even on my radar until last weekend,” he said. “After seeing that and having a very emotional and disturbing response to that, I feel like it’s basically my responsibility.”
As skywatchers across the United States gear up for what's being heralded as the "Great American Total Solar Eclipse," a team of scientists and pilots is preparing to capture what may be the best view of the August celestial event, from two jet aircraft flying at an altitude of 50,000 feet (15,200 meters), chasing the shadow of the moon as it sweeps across the country.

The researchers will use cameras installed on two of NASA's WB-57 research jets to make high-resolution moving observations of the sun's corona — the ethereal streamers of glowing gas in the sun's outermost atmosphere that only become visible during a solar eclipse.

While observers on the ground will experience up to two-and-a-half minutes of totality (when the moon completely obscures the sun), the NASA-funded team led by Amir Caspi, a solar astrophysicist at the Southwest Research Institute in Boulder, Colorado, will use the jets to stretch the period of totality to more than 7 minutes, allowing unprecedented observations of the solar corona. [In Photos: Eclipse-Chasing Jets Aim to Get Best-Ever View of Sun's Corona]

Even being a passenger on the NASA jets requires special training, so the astrophysicists won't get to fly with the instruments. But, they'll keep track of their experiment through a live satellite feed of the images as the jets chase the moon's shadow over Missouri, Illinois and Tennessee at the height of the total solar eclipse. The live feed will also be made available to the public online.

The moon's shadow moves too fast for even the jets to keep up, so the pilots will fly in a carefully calculated formation that will maximize the time of totality, with the second jet picking up the chase just a few seconds before totality for the first jet comes to an end, according to the researchers.

"Even though they're 100 kilometers [62 miles] apart and flying at about 750 kilometers an hour [470 miles per hour], they will have to time their flight well enough to be within about 10 seconds of the position they need to be," Caspi told Live Science.
Hotter than the sun

The high-resolution images captured by the jets during the eclipse will give the researchers a unique moving view of the sun's corona. They hope it will shed light on the main mystery of the corona: Why is it so much hotter than the surface of the sun itself?

"The solar corona is at a temperature of millions of degrees, and the visible surface of the sun — the photosphere — is only a few thousand degrees," Caspi said. "This kind of temperature inversion is unusual. If thermodynamics worked in the classical sense that we are used to, then you wouldn't get this kind of inversion, and the temperature would fall off as you go higher."

Caspi and his colleagues hope their observations will reveal very fine dynamic features in the solar corona, perhaps in the form of ripples or waves, that could reveal processes in the sun's magnetic field that are thought to keep the thin corona so much hotter than the solar surface.

A second major aim is to search for an explanation for the large visible structures in the corona, Caspi said.

"When you look at the corona, you see these very well-structured loops, arcades, fans and streamers," he said. "The thing is, that they are very smooth and well-organized, and it looks like a freshly combed head of hair."

But the magnetic fields that shape the corona originate in the very chaotic surface of the sun, which would be expected to twist the smooth structures of the corona into a tangled mat, Caspi said.

But, "all these structures stay stable and very well organized, and so the corona is constantly releasing little bits of complexity in order to stay that well organized," he said, "and we don’t understand how that process happens, either."
High-altitude view

Caspi explained that observing a solar eclipse from an altitude of 50,000 feet (15,200 m) has many advantages over observations from the ground. [2017 Total Solar Eclipse: Everything You Need to Know]

The NASA jets will fly well above any clouds and most of the atmosphere that envelops the earth, guaranteeing perfect weather at a time of year when eclipse watchers on the ground can expect around 50 percent cloud cover, he said.

The thin atmosphere and the position of the sun and moon almost directly overhead will reduce distortion to a minimum, which will allow the telescopes and cameras aboard the aircraft to record very fine details in the structure of the sun's corona, he said.

"We basically get better sensitivity in every respect," Caspi said. "We get better image quality, we get longer observing time, we get less scattered light — so we have higher sensitivity to all the things that we're trying to look at in so many different ways."

By using cameras at an altitude of 50,000 feet to observe the eclipse, the researchers can be certain of perfect weather for the duration of the eclipse.

 NASA's WB-57 research jets started out in the 1960s as B-57 Canberra bombers. The planes were then adapted by the U.S. Air Force for weather monitoring and were used to collect high-atmosphere air samples after suspected nuclear tests, according to NASA.

The jets have since been rebuilt and retrofitted with a suite of sophisticated instruments and sensors, including stabilized high-resolution cameras in the nose of the aircraft that can record visible light andinfrared light at 30 frames per second.

Caspi said the camera system was developed by NASA to monitor the space shuttles during re-entry to the atmosphere, as a precaution in the wake on the space shuttle Colombia disaster in 1986.

The Aug. 21 total solar eclipse will be the first time that the NASA jets and its cameras have been used for astronomy, Caspi said.

"So, apart from just being a really amazing piece of science, we hope that this experiment will showcase the performance and potential of this platform for future astronomical observations," he added.
Closest star

Caspi said the upcoming observations have the potential to shed light on some of the lingering mysteries about our closest star, and give astrophysicists a better understanding of how our solar system formed. The research could even offer scientists a glimpse of how other systems of planets form around distant stars.

"Solar system evolution is partly driven by these winds that come out of the star, and they blow a lot of the dust away from the inner solar system, and so that's one of the reasons why rocky planets form close in and gas giants tend to form farther away," Caspi said.

The eclipse flights will also provide a rare opportunity for researchers to observe the planet Mercury with the telescopes and cameras on the jets, Caspi said. They will also have the opportunity to look for the elusive Vulcanoid asteroids that are theorized to exist between Mercury and the sun.

Caspi explained that the jet cameras would be aimed to observe our solar system's innermost planet, which will become visible in the darkened sky during the eclipse, for about half an hour before and half an hour after totality.

High-resolution images of Mercury taken under infrared light would let planetary scientists study the surface of the planet around the dawn terminator, where Mercury's freezing-cold night gives way to its scorching-hot day, to learn more about the material that makes up the surface.

"The day side of Mercury is roasting-hot at 750 degrees F (400 degrees C), and the night side is freezing-cold at minus 250 degrees F (minus 156 degrees C), but what we don’t know is how long it takes to go from hot to cold."

By using infrared light, the scientists will be able to measure the properties of the planet's soil, not just at the surface, but even a few centimeters below the surface, which could help researchers figure out what it is made of and how dense it is, he added.

"These observations are the first of their kind that we know of, to try to make an infrared heat map of Mercury," Caspi said.
Far Out Newz / Garment of the Gods - The Light Body / A New Earth
« Last post by azozeo on Today at 03:57:30 PM »
Follow-up interview to Gary's hypnotherapy session regarding the new Earth.

Side note : There's not many sentient beings on the new Earth. Great interview ......

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A history of how computers went from stealing your heart, to stealing your job

Pakistan just planted one billion trees to tackle deforestation and climate change


While the US president complains that his country is being treated unfairly and others aren’t pulling their weight, others are in fact pulling their weight. In less than two years, a province in Pakistan just planted 1 billion trees.

Pakistani provincial leader Imran Khan started the Billion Tree Tsunami Afforestation Project in 2015 and it now reached fruition. In less than two years, 1,000,000,000 trees were planted, even faster than anticipated (by the end of 2017). This is just one province in one country.

You don’t even need to care for the environment to understand why this is a good idea — it’s not just that they store CO2, trees provide a whopping number of environmental services. They regulate water regimes by intercepting rainfall and regulating its flow through the hydrological system.  They maintain and ensure soil quality, preventing erosion, and they’re key components in a wide array of ecosystems. 

“If you plant trees, we have discovered, by the river banks it sustains the rivers. But most importantly, the glaciers that are melting in the mountains, and one of the biggest reasons is because there has been a massive deforestation. So, this billion tree is very significant for our future,” Khan, leader of the Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf party, told Voice of America.

We’re also dealing with a deforestation planetary crisis. According to the World Bank data, the planet has lost 1.3 million square kilometers of forests since 1990. This is why the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) set up the Bonn Challenge in 2011. The Bonn Challenge calls for the global restoration of 150 million hectares of deforested and degraded lands by 2020, and 350 million hectares by 2030. So far, less than 30 countries have signed up to the challenge, but even so, there are reasons for optimism. This milestone achieved in Pakistan is one of them, one which will inspire others, Inger Anderson, director general of the IUCN says.

“IUCN congratulates the province of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa [where the trees were planted] on reaching this momentous milestone,” Anderson said. “The Billion Tree Tsunami initiative is a true conservation success story, one that further demonstrates Pakistan’s leadership role in the international restoration effort and continued commitment to the Bonn Challenge.”

Punjab, Sindh, Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa and Balochistan provinces, Pakistan. Image via VOA.

Pakistan is one of the countries experiencing the most deforestation, and also one of the most at risk of global warming. Decades and decades of deforestation have cleared the country to the point where only 3% of it is covered by forests. Nowadays, the government in the north-western region has banned the cutting and felling of most trees in the area, but the so-called “timber mafia” still operates around the region, illegally destroying trees and forests. While enforcing the law is still problematic, projects such as this one could determine the local communities to play a more active role. Up until now, this is exactly what they’ve been doing.

“But we could not have done it if the local communities were not involved,” Khan said. “The local communities first grew the nurseries and then amongst them people who then protected the trees, the saplings when they were planted. It is one of the most successful experiments ever, and we have 85 percent survival rate.”

In order to ensure the success of this story, over 13,000 small-scale nurseries, producing up to 25,000 saplings each, have been involved in the project. The provincial government offered a cash advanced and a guaranteed purchase after the trees mature. Several species were planted, including pines, walnuts, and eucalyptus, officials say. The estimated cost of this project was $123 million, but it’s not just the trees — the project also generated green jobs, and empowered unemployed youth and women in the province. Given its success, it’s been decided that an additional $100 million will be allocated to maintain the project through June 2020. This will ensure even more environmental services and benefits for the locals, the entire country, and the entire world.

“If the trend continues, there will be more birds , there will be more microbes, there will be more insects  , so there will be more animals  , so more habitats. The ecosystem will kind of literally revive in certain places. There will be more rains because we do need rains,” Hamaad Khan Naqi, WWF-Pakistan’s director general, told VOA.
The Kitchen Sink / Re: Trump declares opioid crisis a national emergency
« Last post by edpell on Today at 01:27:10 PM »
Give Afghanistan back to the natives and 90% of supply will be gone.
The Kitchen Sink / Massive rally against free speech in Boston
« Last post by edpell on Today at 01:25:54 PM »
Well, it looks like everything is going to plan.
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