Saturday, March 09, 2019

Alien life, the space station and Tulsi

Andrew Griffin (INDEPENDENT) reports:

Alien life could be found in solar systems where to stars have been pushed together, according to new research.
The early life of planetary systems can often be difficult and dramatic: young planets orbit around suns that are found in clusters of stars that often collide with each other violently. Such dramatic moments have been thought to be difficult for life, since they are so harsh and violent.
It has meant that research has largely focused on planets and potential life around stars that are similar to our own, since we have been biased to presume that any other solar system that has aliens inside of it is likely to look like ours. Virtually none of those "solar twins" – stars that look like our own – have actually been found to exist.

Two things.  First, that is so fascinating.  We will have so many developments in the near future.  Second, my friend at work, Terry, saw this and passed it over to me -- with a cost.  She wants me to note that, "In my opinion, there are a lot of these type of stories lately and I, for one, believe it is the government trying to prepare us for the soon-to-be-made announcement that there are aliens who are in contact with our government."  Terry will tell you, when you first meet her, that she believes in Area 51 and all of that.  She's a really sweet person and a good friend.

There’s a new interest in extraterrestrial civilizations and planets, wherever they might be found, and it’s driven by a remarkable new reality: Our power as a species has become nothing less than astonishing. Humanity has become a truly global technological civilization. There are literally half a million of us flying through the air in jet planes at any moment. Most of us carry computers in our pockets that give us instant access to a seemingly infinite trove of information and let us exist remotely, anywhere on the planet. We’ve flung thousands of machines into orbit. Our robots now wander the plains of Mars and orbit the skies of Jupiter. If all goes well, our grandchildren are just as likely to vacation in space as we holiday in Europe.
And in that way, we are building what we so long imagined was possible for powerful futuristic civilizations. Spaceships, talking computers, buildings stretching to the sky: We are becoming the aliens we’ve always dreamed about.
And then there are all the alien news stories stoking our fascination. Last month, Canadian astronomers detailed how their telescopes had captured a mysterious squeal of energy called a fast radio burst from across the cosmos. Unlike most astronomy stories, this one made global headlines in part because it included the possibility of aliens. And about a year ago, astronomers detected an object diving across the solar system that must have come from another star system. It was the first such visitor humans had ever seen. Once again headlines blared, asking if the object, named Oumuamua (Hawaiian for “infinite heaven”), was just an asteroid or perhaps an artifact of a distant intelligence. And, just a year or so before Oumuamua appeared, astronomers discovered the strange blinking behaviour of the so-called “WTF star,” which quickly introduced the term “alien megastructures” into the media’s lexicon.
In light of all these stories, you’d be justified asking if science is making progress in answering the ancient question of humanity’s cosmic uniqueness – or if it’s all just hype. But to answer this question, you have to venture deeper than yesterday’s science news and the easy lure of hyperbole. We do, in fact, live in a remarkable moment when it comes to attitudes about life and the universe – but not for the reasons you usually read about.

For the first time in history, an all-female crew will conduct a spacewalk at the International Space Station, NASAconfirmed to CNN.
As part of Expedition 59, NASA astronauts Anne McClain and Christina Koch will carry out the spacewalk on March 29. They'll be supported on the ground by Canadian Space Agency flight controller Kristen Facciol, who will be on the console at NASA's Johnson Space Center in Houston.
It was Facciol herself who first tweeted the announcement on March 1, saying: "I just found out that I'll be on console providing support for the FIRST ALL FEMALE SPACEWALK with @AstroAnnimal and @Astro_Christina and I can not contain my excitement!!!! #WomenInSTEM #WomenInEngineering #WomenInSpace."

Okay, US House Rep Tulsi Gabbard is running for the Democratic Party's presidential nomination.

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    It's really hard for scientists to research marijuana, but 's bill could fix that.
  • # of people arrested for marijuana law violation in 2017: 659,700 # of those charged with marijuana law violations arrested for possession only: 599,282 (90.8 percent) I intro'd bipartisan bill today to END THE FEDERAL MARIJUANA PROHIBITION. Congress must act now
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    “Chiefly office is not something that history has given to certain individuals to use or abuse as they see fit. Like all forms of leadership, it places specific responsibilities on its holders. As Luthuli, himself a chief, put it, “A chief is primarily a servant of the people..."
  • Gerrymandering threatens our democracy and fuels corruption and a widening partisan divide. Greedy politicians who literally divide us along partisan lines in order to consolidate their own power and influence need to be challenged at every turn.
  • Trump’s basic misunderstanding of how trade works is starting to show up in devastating impacts to working Americans. We need a win-win global strategy based on cooperation, not confrontation.
  • The future is clean! Amazing to see Kenya moving to 100% clean energy by next year. Where there’s a will, there is always a way. People power + planet power = a green economy.
  • The majority of US agrees on need to address healthcare, climate change, corruption, etc. Divisions that lead to civil war are the fault of partisan pols seeking votes and a corporate-owned media establishment that pushes a war agenda and profits off controversy & divisiveness.
  • “I have always believed people should determine their country’s direction for themselves… I have been part of a military that at times has been an obstacle to self-determination. I regret that.” Powerful words from Mjr. Peterson after 21 years of service.
  • There is no such thing as “clean coal.” Once we contaminate groundwater, it’s extremely difficult to clean up and has impacts across the entire ecosystem. Government should protect the people and the environment—not the coal industry.

  • "Iraq snapshot" (THE COMMON ILLS):
    Friday, March 8, 2019.  It's International Women's Day.

    “Because I fled from my home in and saw first-hand the havoc that war causes, I am reminded that kindness and empathy are fundamental characteristics that an obstetrician and gynecologist should possess.”

    - Dr. Saba, an obstetrician and gynecologist.

    Today's International Women's Day.

    First adopted by the UN as an international day to advance womens rights and gender quality in 1975, International Womens Day is celebrated across the world. There are a number of events scheduled across Iraq and the Kurdistan Region on Friday.

    I gotta find peace of mind
    I know another cord
    I gotta find peace of mind
    See, this what that voice in your head says
    When you try to get peace of mind
    I gotta find peace of mind
    I gotta find peace of mind
    He says it's impossible, but I know it's possible
    He says it's impossible, but I know it's possible

    -- "I Gotta Find Peace of Mind," written by Lauryn Hill, first appears on her MTV UNPLUGGED  NO. 2.0

    Zainab met Zainab in Mosul.
    Both women lost a leg during Iraq's war.
    Neither are giving up on life.

    Their courage inspires us. Which women inspire you?



    An early observation event took place in Baghdad yesterday:

    Deputy Special Representative of the United Nations Secretary-General (DSRSG) Alice Walpole addressed the meeting, along with Dr. Mahdi Al-Allaq, Secretary-General of the Council of Ministers, who represented the Prime Minister; Dr. Thikra Alwash, Mayor of Baghdad and Chair of the Standing Committee on the Advancement of Women; UN Women’s Representative, Ms. Dina Zorba and UNFPA Representative, Dr. Oluremi Sogunro; as well as the Director-General of the Directorate for the Empowerment of Iraqi Women, Dr. Ibtisam Aziz.
    In her remarks, DSRSG Walpole welcomed the upcoming discussions in Parliament on updating the Anti-Domestic Violence Law. “We need to acknowledge that domestic violence diminishes and shames all of society; it is a threat not just to women but to society itself,” she emphasised.
    Reflecting on the challenges facing displaced women across Iraq, DSRSG Walpole noted that “They continue to suffer the brutal consequences of the recent conflict”.

    Domestic violence is global.  It's also terrorism.  US House Rep Karen Bass, on Thursday, chaired the House Judiciary Subcommittee on Crime, Terrorism and Homeland Security.  Her opening remarks included the following:

    “I am pleased that the Subcommittee on Crime, Terrorism, and Homeland Security is holding our first hearing of this 116th Congress about our critical duty to reauthorize the Violence Against Women Act.  This law has been successful at attempting to change policies that have led to injustices, and too-often indifference to victimization and suffering, throughout our country’s history.
    “It is important to review how we arrived at this moment.
    “This month has a special significance that is relevant to this hearing because it is celebrated as Women’s History Month. In 1980 President Jimmy Carter first designated March 2nd through the 8th, as Women’s History week.
    “Seven years later in 1987, Congress passed Public Law 100-9, designating March as “Women’s History Month.”
    “Seven years after that in 1994, Congress passed Public Law 103-322, the Violence Against Women Act of 1994, which we call “VAWA,” a landmark piece of legislation, which began with bipartisan support in both the House and in the Senate. 
    “This year we celebrate the 25th Anniversary of VAWA, since President Bill Clinton signed the first VAWA into law on September 13, 1994.
    “On this day, March 7th, President Barack Obama signed our last VAWA in 2013.
    “And today, on the 6th year anniversary of VAWA’s last passage, we are holding this hearing to address the urgency of now in reauthorizing this vital legislation, which addresses the needs of all victims and survivors of domestic violence, dating violence, sexual assault, and stalking.
    “As a result of this historic legislation, which has unarguably proven critical in the lives of so many survivors, every state has enacted laws making stalking a crime and strengthened their criminal rape statutes.
    “While this legislation is named the “Violence Against Women Act”, this is a gender neutral legislation, which responds to the needs and care of all survivors—men, women, and children alike.
    “For centuries, women have fought vigorously to demand changes in our federal laws, not simply for their own benefits, but for others as well, because they sought progress.  VAWA is no exception in that regard.
    “As Shirley Chisolm once said, you don’t make progress by standing on the sidelines, whimpering and complaining.  You make progress by implementing ideas.
    “We have made progress in VAWA 2000, 2005, and 2013 – but the statistics remain alarming and unacceptable.
    “Domestic violence claims at least 2,000 lives each year. Seventy percent of the victims are women. Most “intimate partner” homicides, in which a person targets a spouse, boyfriend or girlfriend, are committed with firearms.
    “An astounding 17,500 victims disclosed the use or threat of firearms being used during abuse.

    The story hit the news
    From coast to coast
    They said you beat the girl
    You loved the most
    Your charitable acts
    Seemed out of place
    With the beauty
    With your fist marks on her face
    Your buddies all stood by
    They bet their
    Fortunes and their fame
    That she was out of line
    And you were not to blame
    Six hundred thousand doctors
    Are putting on rubber gloves
    And they're poking
    At the miseries made of love
    They say they're learning
    How to spot
    The battered wives
    Among all the women
    They see bleeding through their lives
    I bleed
    For your perversity
    These red words that make a stain
    On your white-washed claim that
    She was out of line
    And you were not to blame
    "Not To Blame," written by Joni Mitchell, first appears on her TURBULENT INDIGO

    In the face of adversity, women persevere.  That is especially true of Iraqi women.  The ongoing war is largely forgotten by the news media.  They live in war zones, Iraqi women, they face non-stop attacks on their rights.  In January, a fire killed 8 women.  And the media dithered over how to term the facility.  "Women's shelter" was offered.  How bloody noble.  No, it was a prison.  The 'crime' -- the women were homeless.  "Lock them up"?  By the time reality had intruded on the tale, momentary media attention had largely moved on.  The moment of justifiable outrage was missed as the media 'kindly' named a prison a "women's shelter."

    Dropping back to January 5th:

    ALJAZEERA typed the following:

    A fire at a women's shelter in Iraq's capital has killed several lodgers, according to police, who gave conflicting accounts of the tragedy.
    Mohammed Jihad, Baghdad's police lieutenant colonel, called the incident a "group suicide" caused by women rioting in the shelter on Friday.

    Why are women in a shelter rioting?

    Apparently, they weren't in a shelter, they were in a women's prison. Whether they rioted or not is not clear.  But MIDDLE EAST MONITOR reports:

    In a statement to Anadolu Agency, Police Captain Ahmed Khalaf said that the prison – which was specifically for homeless female prisoners – experienced riots, though he did not elaborate on the cause of the disturbance. The riots then seem to have sparked a fire, causing an unspecified number of inmates to suffocate.
    [. . .]
    Iraqi security forces take all displaced or homeless people from the streets and places them in a prison, which is run by the Ministry of Labour and Social Affairs.

    In addition, this prison also imprisoned women who had children but were not married.  How the hell do prisons like that exist in Iraq?

    It's one battle after another for women in Iraq. EURONEWS notes the killing of high profile women in Iraq:

    Hanaa Edwar, a women’s rights activist and co-founder and chair of the Iraqi-Amal Association for human rights, thinks it is disturbing that months after Fares' death, investigations have yet to produce any results. “Why this silence on women’s issues?” asks Edwar.
    She remembers that an Interior Ministry official stated on Iraqi TV that he was aware of who was behind Fares' murder.
    “He said very clearly that we know who killed Tara Fares,” says Edwar.
    Iraq’s biggest militia groups are often connected to political parties and operate with a large degree of impunity.
    Edwar believes that the reason Fares' murder remains publicly unsolved is because she was killed by a militia.
    “I don't know exactly who, but it seems that it [the murder] was an intervention by one of the non-state groups that influence the Iraqi state.”
    Edwar adds that she believes that Fares was killed by conservative groups who were angry at how freely Fares lived her life.

    In the video above United Nations General Assembly President Maria Fernanda Espinosa states, "And we need more women leaders, participating in public life and taking decisions."

    In the US, six women are currently seeking the Democratic Party's 2020 presidential nomination:

  • Coming up in 15 minutes on the Karen Hunter show!

    Listen to my conversation on the WICKED Podcast. Episode 7.

    Join me for campaign events in Nevada on March 14 and March 15! RSVP here:

    Truth emerges from deep within, like a small seed within our consciousness which, if nurtured and sustained, will grow into the biggest tree. A political truth-teller is someone who throws around the seeds; the soul of a citizen is the ground in which it grows.

    Join us as we work for a —taking the trillions spent on regime change & nuclear arms race & investing them to ensure for all, combat climate change, rebuild our infrastructure, & meet the needs of all Americans. Donate today.

    Thank you, , for your service to our country and for your courage in coming forward to share your story in the mission to put an end to military sexual assault.

    It's really hard for scientists to research marijuana, but 's bill could fix that.

    # of people arrested for marijuana law violation in 2017: 659,700

    # of those charged with marijuana law violations arrested for possession only: 599,282 (90.8 percent)

    I intro'd bipartisan bill today to END THE FEDERAL MARIJUANA PROHIBITION. Congress must act now

    As a society, we cannot play politics with fundamental rights. Make no mistake: affordable and meaningful health care should be thought of as a human right and civil right.

    97% of Americans support universal background checks. 97%. These background checks can save lives. My colleagues and I are calling on Republican leadership to hold critical hearings on the background check bill that passed the House.

    People in power are trying to convince us that the villain in our American story is each other. I reject that. I believe when we come together to fight for what’s morally right, we can create change in every part of our country.

    On March 7, 1965, peaceful protestors were unjustly beaten back by state troopers as they attempted to cross the Edmund Pettus Bridge in the fight for voting rights. A brighter future requires acknowledging our painful past. Their fight for social justice lives on through us all.

    It’s time for my colleagues across the aisle to do the right thing for our country: say no to the President’s unconstitutional emergency declaration.

    My view on Manafort sentence: Guidelines there for a reason. His crimes took place over years and he led far from a “blameless life.” Crimes committed in an office building should be treated as seriously as crimes committed on a street corner. Can’t have two systems of justice!

    Today is the 54th anniversary of the bloody march in Selma. I will never forget how moving it was to commemorate this day with march leader at the Edmund Pettus Bridge in 2013.

    Let’s follow his example and continue to fight for voting rights for all.

    . and I came into the Senate together and I ended my book with a Sherrod story because there is no one who better exemplifies what we SHOULD be doing in DC than him (and for that matter ).  Look forward to standing with him to uphold the dignity of work

  • Some military families have been living in toxic homes while the private companies that oversee them make a guaranteed profit. I’m working on a new bill to fix that broken system. In the meantime, needs to start enforcing the rules that are already on the books.

    0:03 / 7:04

    Are they joking? didn’t take data security seriously because it had no financial incentive to do so. That’s why we need my bill with to impose automatic fines for data breaches at companies like Equifax & stop this from happening again.

    The average student in Massachusetts graduates with $32,065 in student loans. Instead of jump-starting their lives and careers, they’re being weighed down by debt. I’m co-sponsoring ’s bill to make sure every student can build an economic future.

    DHS testified today that “never purposely put a child in a cage." False.

    I went to the processing center in McAllen, TX. I saw cages of people with my own eyes. Men, women, and children treated like animals. We must hold the Trump Admin accountable.

    is more than a celebration—it's also a call to action. As far as we've come, we still have barriers to tear down so we can all have equal opportunity and respect. Let's keep marching, and with every step, let's reach back and pull others up with us.

    In our modern society, a free and neutral internet is not a nice-to-have—it's a lifeline for opportunity and innovation, and a necessity for connecting to each other. We can't let corporate greed get in the way.

    President Trump's relentless and dangerous attacks on women's constitutional rights—and interference in doctors' ability to care for their patients—cannot go unanswered. If his Title X gag rule isn't overturned in the courts before then, I'll undo it on day one of my presidency.

    Voting is the backbone of our democracy. Every eligible voter should get to participate, period. Let's make Election Day a federal holiday so you don't have to take time off work to exercise your rights.

    Let's note this:

    “We are women from 🇮🇶, from Falluja, the city of 🕊️. The women of Al-Anbariya are the leaders+mentors of homes and society.

    I congratulate the courageous 👩, the teachers, the doctors, all Iraqi women. We, as women, want change to happen in our societies.” Said Jinan

    No walls, no war
    No cause, no weapon is formed
    No law, what for?
    You are where I go to hide
    You are where I go to heal
    You are where I go to feel
    To remember what is real, ooh
    You are my favorite place
    You are my sacred space
    Yes you are, yes you are, yes you are