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Environmental Scientist

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Wednesday Toon Roundup 2- hatred concentrated

Wednesday Toon Roundup 1- Unwanted Children

NASA's Fermi finds a 'transformer' pulsar

These artist's renderings show one model of pulsar J1023 before (top) and after (bottom) its radio beacon (green) vanished. Normally, the pulsar's wind staves off the companion's gas stream. When the stream surges, an accretion disk forms and gamma-ray particle jets (magenta) obscure the radio beam.

In late June 2013, an exceptional binary containing a rapidly spinning neutron star underwent a dramatic change in behavior never before observed. The pulsar's radio beacon vanished, while at the same time the system brightened fivefold in gamma rays, the most powerful form of light, according to measurements by NASA's Fermi Gamma-ray Space Telescope.

"It's almost as if someone flipped a switch, morphing the system from a lower-energy state to a higher-energy one," said Benjamin Stappers, an astrophysicist at the University of Manchester, England, who led an international effort to understand this striking transformation. "The change appears to reflect an erratic interaction between the pulsar and its companion, one that allows us an opportunity to explore a rare transitional phase in the life of this binary."

A binary consists of two stars orbiting around their common center of mass. This system, known as AY Sextantis, is located about 4,400 light-years away in the constellation Sextans. It pairs a 1.7-millisecond pulsar named PSR J1023+0038 -- J1023 for short -- with a star containing about one-fifth the mass of the sun. The stars complete an orbit in only 4.8 hours, which places them so close together that the pulsar will gradually evaporate its companion.

When a massive star collapses and explodes as a supernova, its crushed core may survive as a compact remnant called a neutron star or pulsar, an object squeezing more mass than the sun's into a sphere no larger than Washington, D.C. Young isolated neutron stars rotate tens of times each second and generate beams of radio, visible light, X-rays and gamma rays that astronomers observe as pulses whenever the beams sweep past Earth. Pulsars also generate powerful outflows, or "winds," of high-energy particles moving near the speed of light. The power for all this comes from the pulsar's rapidly spinning magnetic field, and over time, as the pulsars wind down, these emissions fade.



U.S. Senate Sets $225 Million for Israel's Iron Dome in Emergency Bill

Source: NYT/Reuters

U.S. Senate Democrats included $225 million for Israel's Iron Dome rocket interception system in an emergency funding bill on Tuesday that also cut $1 billion from President Barack Obama's request for $3.7 billion to deal with thousands of undocumented child immigrants.

"Israel is an essential American ally and needs these assets to defend itself," said Maryland Democratic Senator Barbara Mikulski, chairwoman of the Senate Appropriations Committee, in a statement.

More than 600 people - most of them Palestinians - have been killed in the current conflict between Israel and militants in Gaza. On Tuesday, Israel pounded targets across the Gaza Strip, saying no ceasefire was near.

Israel said the Iron Dome has intercepted about a fifth of more than 2,000 rockets militants have fired at Israel during the current conflict.

Read more: http://www.nytimes.com/reuters/2014/07/22/us/politics/22reuters-palestinians-israel-irondome-congress.html?_r=0

Jimmy Carter calls for end to fighting in Gaza

The Atlanta Journal-Constitution

Former U.S. President Jimmy Carter has called for an end to the fighting and bombing in Gaza.

“Both sides must distinguish between combatants and noncombatants, and Israel must ensure that its use of force is proportionate in accordance with international humanitarian law. More immediately, all combat operations must stop, and Israeli troops should withdraw from Gaza,” Carter said in a statement released Tuesday.

So far, more than 600 Palestinians, mostly civilians, have been killed in the fighting, according to reports. The Israeli death toll is estimated at 29, including two civilians.

Humantarian groups have also called for an end to the fighting, citing the civilian loss of life as well as deteriorating conditions in the area.

Carter also called on the international community to use a ceasefire agreement to ” advance the reunification of Palestine if there is to be sustainable peace between Israelis and Palestinians. The agreement must include implementation and international monitoring mechanisms.”


Can this woman convince Elizabeth Warren to run for president?

By Nia-Malika Henderson

Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.) has had a good, strong run of public appearances and headlines over the last several days, further driving the presidential buzz surrounding her.

She showed up in West Virginia July 14 to rally Democrats around long-shot Senate candidate Natalie Tennant, testing whether her brand of Northeastern liberalism could play in an increasingly conservative state. The standing-room-only crowd that cheered her fiery message suggested that she passed that test.

Known for taking the big banks to the woodshed in several Senate hearings, Warren also added to her greatest video hits on July 15 with a tough grilling of Federal Reserve Janet Yellen.

She The People reached out to Erica Sagrans, the 31-year old campaign manager for the Warren-in-waiting presidential campaign. Sagrans has never met Warren, who is not affiliated with the Ready for Warren group, but she could be one of the key people that could convince Warren to run for the White House.

The following is a lightly edited transcript of the conversation



Doing the Right Thing for Eric Garner


Twenty-five years ago this summer, Spike Lee released “Do the Right Thing,” the most overtly political film of his young career. Set in Brooklyn on the hottest day of the year, the film is a contemplation of the explosive racial dynamics of late-eighties New York City. When two black men, Buggin’ Out (Giancarlo Esposito) and Radio Raheem (Bill Nunn), organize a boycott to demand that the proprietor of the local pizza parlor add some photos of black people to his “wall of fame”—along with Sinatra, DiMaggio, Pacino—a fight breaks out. Police arrive and place Radio Raheem in a chokehold, despite protests from other community members. Moments later, his lifeless body falls to the pavement, setting off a riot that tears the neighborhood apart. For those who lived in New York during those tumultuous days, “Do the Right Thing” was barely a work of fiction; instead, it reminded them of recent history—the death, in 1983, of the graffiti artist Michael Stewart, whom police put in a chokehold and beat to death on a subway platform; the death of Eleanor Bumpurs, the following year, at the hands of the N.Y.P.D. officers seeking to evict her from her Bronx apartment; the racial conflagrations of the city’s Howard Beach and Bensonhurst neighborhoods—refracted through a cinematic lens. That familiarity, the close relationship between screen and reality, led audiences to see Lee’s film not so much as a work of art but as an amicus brief in the court of public opinion. (The future President and First Lady, then a pair of newly minted African-American attorneys in Chicago, saw “Do the Right Thing” on their first date.)

That cinematic sense of déjŕ vu was revisited last weekend, after video of the death of Eric Garner, on Staten Island, surfaced. In the video, Garner, a large African-American man who’d had previous run-ins with police for the unauthorized sale of cigarettes, repeatedly tells police he’s done nothing wrong: “I didn’t sell anything! I did nothing—I’ve been sitting here the whole time.” (Some bystanders maintained that Garner was present on the street because he’d just broken up a fight.) One officer slips behind Garner and hooks his forearm across his throat before several officers wrestle him to the ground—what looks like a chokehold, which the police are, by their own rules, not supposed to use. Garner can be heard saying, “I can’t breathe.” E.M.T.s from Richmond University Medical Center then arrive, but they don’t intervene to any great effect (a number of them have been suspended pending a review, the Times reported). Garner was later declared dead. Police Commissioner Bill Bratton launched an investigation, and the officer who was holding Garner has been told to turn in his gun and badge. Mayor Bill de Blasio tweeted his condolences and called Garner’s family. The official cause of death has yet to be determined, but the incident was familiar enough that Lee himself recognized the art-life nexus and posted a video on Instagram and YouTube in which he spliced footage of Garner’s death with the chokehold scene from “Do the Right Thing.” It’s entirely possible for an uninformed viewer to believe that Lee’s scene was inspired by Garner’s death instead of preceding it by a quarter century.

Twenty-five years is just long enough to assess whether a work of art is capable of transcending its generation and speaking to truths applicable even to those who don’t share the context in which it was created. But it would be wrong to see this as a testament to how well Lee’s film has held up. Rather, it suggests something more basic: the images remain familiar twenty-five years later because time has passed but in crucial ways our context has scarcely changed at all.


Perry Boosts Presidential Stature by Using Troops for No Reason

AUSTIN (The Borowitz Report- Satire)—An aide to Rick Perry is confident that the Texas Governor proved he “has what it takes to be President” with his decision on Monday to send troops somewhere for no reason.

By deploying a thousand National Guardsmen to the U.S.-Mexico border, Perry has shown that as President he would be “ready and willing” to use troops without a defined objective, mission, or exit strategy, the aide confirmed.

“Sending troops someplace with no clear idea of why they are going or what they are supposed to be doing once they get there is a key part of the Presidential skill set,” said the aide, Harland Dorrinson. “Rick Perry has just shown that he’s got that nailed down.”

Dorrinson acknowledged that the gold standard for using troops for no reason might have been set by Perry’s predecessor in Texas, George W. Bush, but added, “If anyone can beat that record, it’s Rick.”


Nation Apparently Believed in Science at Some Point

MINNEAPOLIS (The Borowitz Report-Satire)—Historians studying archival photographs from four decades ago have come to the conclusion that the U.S. must have believed in science at some point.

According to the historian Davis Logsdon, who has been sifting through mounds of photographic evidence at the University of Minnesota, the nation apparently once held the view that investing in science and even math could yield accomplishments that would be a source of national pride.

While Logsdon has not developed a complete theory to explain the United States’ pro-science stance during that era, he attributes some of it to the liberal views of the President at that time, Richard M. Nixon.


Italy: Human Traffickers 'Stabbed 60 Migrants to Death' in Latest Boat Tragedy

Italian police have arrested five human traffickers under allegations of stabbing 60 migrants to death and throwing their bodies into the sea off the coast of Lampedusa.

Asylum-seekers rescued by the Danish petrol tanker Torm Lotte between Libya and Malta and taken to Messina told investigators that the sinking fishing boat was carrying between 700 and 750 people, according to Italian media.

Only 569 people were rescued by the Danish freighter, while the others died drowning or were allegedly stabbed or beaten to death by the traffickers in the fishing boat's hold and then hurled into the sea.

Due to its southern location, Lampedusa is a favourite target of migrant smugglers who usually set sail from Libya's loosely patrolled coast.


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