I love that comic. I also love this video from NASA.
Staying with science, Justin Rowlatt (BBC) had an interesting article:
Fossil leaves from the remains of a 23 million-year-old forest suggest some plants may adapt to grow more quickly as CO2 levels rise, a study says.
Scientists recovered the very well-preserved leaves from an ancient lake on New Zealand's South Island.
They have enabled the scientists to link for the first time the high temperatures of the period with high levels of atmospheric CO2.
The results have been published in the journal Climate of the Past.
In their scientific paper, the team shows that some plants were able to harvest carbon dioxide more efficiently for photosynthesis - the biological process that harnesses light from the Sun to produce food for the plant.
They say their findings may hold clues for how the dynamics of plant life could shift as current CO2 levels rise to meet those of the distant past.
And this is equally interesting news from University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign:
Imagine reading by the light of an exploded star, brighter than a full moon – it might be fun to think about, but this scene is the prelude to a disaster when the radiation devastates life as we know it. Killer cosmic rays from nearby supernovae could be the culprit behind at least one mass extinction event, researchers said, and finding certain radioactive isotopes in Earth’s rock record could confirm this scenario.
A new study led by University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign astronomy and physics professor Brian Fields explores the possibility of astronomical events being responsible for an extinction event that occurred 359 million years ago, at the boundary between the Devonian and Carboniferous periods.
The paper is published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.
The team concentrated on Devonian-Carboniferous boundary because those rocks contain hundreds of thousands of generations of plant spores that appear to be sunburnt by ultraviolet light – evidence of a long-lasting ozone-depletion event.
“Earth-based catastrophes such as large-scale volcanism and global warming can destroy the ozone layer, too, but evidence for those is inconclusive for the time interval in question,” Fields said. “Instead, we propose that one or more supernova explosions, about 65 light-years away from Earth, could have been responsible for the protracted loss of ozone.”
“To put this into perspective, one of the closest supernova threats today is from the star Betelgeuse, which is over 600 light-years away and well outside of the kill distance of 25 light-years,” said graduate student and study co-author Adrienne Ertel.
The team explored other astrophysical causes for ozone depletion, such as meteorite impacts, solar eruptions and gamma-ray bursts. “But these events end quickly and are unlikely to cause the long-lasting ozone depletion that happened at the end of the Devonian period,” said graduate student and study co-author Jesse Miller.
A supernova, on the other hand, delivers a one-two punch, the researchers said. The explosion immediately bathes Earth with damaging UV, X-rays and gamma rays. Later, the blast of supernova debris slams into the solar system, subjecting the planet to long-lived irradiation from cosmic rays accelerated by the supernova. The damage to Earth and its ozone layer can last for up to 100,000 years.
However, fossil evidence indicates a 300,000-year decline in biodiversity leading up to the Devonian-Carboniferous mass extinction, suggesting the possibility of multiple catastrophes, maybe even multiple supernovae explosions. “This is entirely possible,” Miller said. “Massive stars usually occur in clusters with other massive stars, and other supernovae are likely to occur soon after the first explosion.”
The team said the key to proving that a supernova occurred would be to find the radioactive isotopes plutonium-244 and samarium-146 in the rocks and fossils deposited at the time of extinction. “Neither of these isotopes occurs naturally on Earth today, and the only way they can get here is via cosmic explosions,” said undergraduate student and co-author Zhenghai Liu.
The radioactive species born in the supernova are like green bananas, Fields said. “When you see green bananas in Illinois, you know they are fresh, and you know they did not grow here. Like bananas, Pu-244 and Sm-146 decay over time. So if we find these radioisotopes on Earth today, we know they are fresh and not from here – the green bananas of the isotope world – and thus the smoking guns of a nearby supernova.”
Researchers have yet to search for Pu-244 or Sm-146 in rocks from the Devonian-Carboniferous boundary. Fields’ team said its study aims to define the patterns of evidence in the geological record that would point to supernova explosions.
“The overarching message of our study is that life on Earth does not exist in isolation,” Fields said. “We are citizens of a larger cosmos, and the cosmos intervenes in our lives – often imperceptibly, but sometimes ferociously.”
Reference: “Supernova triggers for end-Devonian extinctions” by Brian
D. Fields, Adrian L. Melott, John Ellis, Adrienne F. Ertel, Brian J.
Fry, Bruce S. Lieberman, Zhenghai Liu, Jesse A. Miller and Brian C.
Thomas, 18 August 2020, Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.
Also participating in the study were scientists from the University of Kansas; Kings College, UK; the European Organization for Nuclear Research, Switzerland; the National Institute of Chemical Physics and Biophysics, Estonia; the United States Air Force Academy; and Washburn University.
The Science and Technology Facilities Council and the Estonian Research Council supported this study. Fields also is affliated with the Illinois Center for Advanced Studies of the Universe.
Thursday, August 20, 2020. Another day, another wasted 'convention' night.
The farce goes on -- and the farce goes on -- yes, the farce goes on.
Last night, at the Democratic Party's national infomerical pretending to be a convention, Barack Obama spoke. A number are seeing his words as a repudiation of THE NEW YORK TIMES' 1619 Project (click here for WSWS' latest criticism of the project with links at the bottom of the piece to earlier pieces). Some will pretend it was inspired, some will pretend it's wonderful. Even if you're paid to whore, honestly, what's the point?
Words from Barack?
Like his promise to shut down the prison/torture center at Guantanamo?
I'm sorry did he keep it? Hell no.
His promise to remove all US troops from Iraq?
Oh, I know, his second term promise to end veteran's homelessness, he kept that one, right? Wrong.
How much did the whorish, corporate press have to do with the election of Donald Trump? I don't mean in 2016. I mean the previous eight years when they refused to tell the truth.
When Barack failed to keep the promise he made on veterans' homelessness, you didn't see him called out. You saw them whore with 'it's a little better than it was, he deserves credit for that . . .' The president of the United States made a promise to the people and he did not keep it. Those were the facts. But the press couldn't serve up the facts, they had to whore.
And this whoring came after they lied about Iraq. They lied to sell that war and they lied to keep it going. The press has the reputation it has earned. It's a bad reputation and that's its own fault. We saw the corporate press work overtime to demonize Bernie Sanders.
I've noticed, by the way, that 'bravery' among the so-called independent press has been redefined. This week, as the DNC's infomercial plays out endlessly, 'bravery' for the 'independent' press has been redefined as silence. Go to, for example, IN THESE TIMES and find nothing on the convention. The same with COUNTERPUNCH and CONSORUTIUM NEWS.
Now THE PROGRESSIVE does serve up an article -- a really bad one -- by Ruth Conniff, a really bad writer, but that was published elsewhere, they're just republishing it. It's cute, by the way, how Ruth whores. It's a typical convention, she insists at the opening. She falsely presents Julian Castro to readers as though he were part of the actual televised convention when, in fact, he was not. But if you trudge through all her words, you finally find criticism.
Oh, no. She's a whore. She hides behind her children. Her children were dismayed.
Ruth? She loved it. She loves conventions. She loves it.
She shows up late to praise Michelle Obama. The same Michelle who used the opener of her podcast to trash young voters with her special guest Barack who joined her in trashing young voters?
When does she ever go high? Seems like Michelle's been low-balling it her whole life.
So hopey-changey showed up last night to offer some new lies. Let the sunshine in, indeed.
About the only time Barack's been remotely interesting these days was when POLITICO published their article explaining that Joe Biden had Daddy issues. Joe's lukewarm run this year? All about proving Daddy underestimated him -- in a recasting, Barack is playing Daddy. Yes, that's how pathetic Joe Biden is, he's made Obama his daddy, Barack who is over 18 years younger is Joe's Daddy figure.
By the way, CONSORTIUM's silence really surprises me. In yesterday's snapshot, I noted that Colin would speak Wednesday night. Wrong. He had already spoken the night before that snapshot. I got lucky and missed Colin's entire speech. This was for real by the way, not like in 2008 when Spencer Ackerman hated Hillary Clinton and was pimping Barack so he pretended CSPAN went out in the hearing so he wouldn't have to cover Hillary -- who did a better job than Barack who just breezed in, if you'll remember, while John Kerry held his hand -- that was his hand that John's was holding, right? -- to make him look better.
I honestly missed Colin and I'm not going to cheapen that gift by taking the time afterwards to stream that speech. I might have if CONSORTIUM had done any work.
I mentioned in yesterday's snapshot that Colin's problems don't start with the Iraq War. Had he spoken Wednesday night (and I caught it), the plan was to go all the way back to Vietnam and his betrayals there. Why? Because the truth matters, of course. And also because the late Robert Parry did significant work exposing the realities of Colin Powell. So we would have been referencing his work up at CONSORTIUM. But why should we bother when CONSORTIUM didn't even bother?
Again, multiple people appear to have mistaken silence for bravery.
The belief seems to be, 'If I just swallow this s**t burger' -- to use Nina Turner's phrase - 'and don't praise it, I'm not really a whore.'
If you're eating a s**t burger, you pretty much are that and much worse.
Kamala Harris spoke. The junior senator from California. If she becomes Vice President, do we finally get Kevin Leon as a senator? Or Loretta Sanchez? It's amazing, as I look back on it, how my state has led on . . . suppressing Latino leadership.
At WSWS, Niles Niemuth offers:
Harris’ closing remarks at the convention last night were preceded by those of Obama, of which we will have more to say later. Suffice it to say that Obama, the first African American to be nominated by the Democrats and win the presidency, proceeded to bail out the banks, continue the wars of George W. Bush, implement a policy of drone murder, and deport more immigrants than any of his predecessors.
It was the right-wing policies of the Obama administration that paved the way for the ascension of Trump to the presidency.
The Democrats hope that the endless celebration of the trite, empty symbolism of Harris’ candidacy will serve as a repeat of Barack Obama’s run for president in 2008, deploying identity politics to cover over the right-wing content of her record and that of the Democratic Party. This is the logic of the reactionary politics of racial, ethnic and gender identity, promoted incessantly by the pseudo-left opponents of Marxism.
However, the elevation of an increasing number of women, African Americans and other ethnic minorities into positions of power, from city councils, to mayoral offices, police departments and the presidency itself, has done nothing to advance the interests of the working class. In fact, over the last four decades wealth inequality has grown most rapidly within racial groups, as a small layer of the population has been elevated into positions of power and privilege while conditions for those of all races and genders in the bottom 90 percent have deteriorated.
In addition to Obama, the likes of Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas, national security advisors Condoleezza Rice and Susan Rice, and Secretary of State Hillary Clinton—and, one might add, British Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher and German Chancellor Angela Merkel—have shown that women and racial minorities can pursue the interests of the financial oligarchy as ruthlessly as any other representative of the ruling class.
There is something fitting in the selection of Harris to co-lead the Democrats’ ticket. The response of the Democrats to the mass multi-racial and multi-ethnic protests against police violence that erupted earlier this year was to divert them into the politics of racial division, using the reactionary and false claim that what was involved was a conflict between “white America” and “black America,” rather than a conflict between the working class and capitalism. This effort now culminates in the selection of the former “top cop” of California as the Democrats’ vice presidential candidate.
This is aimed at blocking the emergence of powerful, united movement of the working class. The COVID-19 pandemic has exposed the criminal indifference of the entire ruling elite to the lives of the working class. As was shown with the near unanimous passage of the trillion-dollar CARES Act bailout, their concern is for their stock portfolios and corporate profits at the expense of more than 175,000 people who have now died and the more than 5.5 million who have been infected by coronavirus.
I'm not a Kamala fan. I thought in terms of presentation, she gave a strong speech. In terms of facts? I'm sorry I've spent all week making the hard calls while the likes of Krystal Ball pulled their punches. I know they won't with Kamala, there's a special hatred that have for the woman. I don't hate her, I just don't like her and that has nothing to do with anything in the last few years, I go back before her ascent, long before, to the days where she was . . . Oh, let's be kind and just stop the thought there. She'll get plenty of attacks today and, again, in terms of presentation, she can't be faulted for her speech last night.
Which brings up two men: Barack and Joe.
Let's start with Barack and his new sassy do. Who was that sassy senior on stage last night? I thought at first Ciecly Tyson had showed up and without her wig but, no, it was Barack. And he's still not learned to speak -- though liars will tell you he's moving and he's amazing and he's . . .
All these years later, he's still Sandy Dennis. In 1962, Sandy became a star on Broadway in A THOUSAND CLOWNS. She never gave a different performance in all the years that followed. In February of 2009, Ava and I observed:
We watched Monday in full as Barack uh-uh-uhed and spoke in that robotic
manner that allows him to find more unnatural pauses than Estelle
Parsons and Kim Stanley combined. "He's our Method president!" we
quickly gasped while wishing we could have one president this decade
capable of normal speech. If he gets any worse, he'll be Sandy Dennis.
Last night made clear that he is Sandy Dennis.
And he is a lousy speaker. For anyone to pretend otherwise at this late date is just sad.
Once upon a time, he was a blank slate the nation could project upon and that allowed many to believe that a crooked Chicago politician could deliver change. But those days are long gone and who's still deluding themselves?
Kamala was way ahead of Barack as a speaker. Forget what she's saying, regardless of the topic, Kamala is a strong speaker and has always been one. And she was strong last night.
If there was any speech of significance (meaning more than 60 seconds) in the convention to praise, it would be Kamala's speech.
I didn't catch MSNBC but I'm sure RISING will tell us what happened later today. Did they praise Kamala? Did they give her the praise she deserved?
The reason I'm asking is, unless they give Joe another 'vitamin' shot before training the camera on him for his speech tonight, Joe's speech is going to look very weak when compared to Kamala's and that's really going to be the entire campaign going forward. In terms of energy, drive and speech, Kamala's going to outshine him every day.
I'm not sure how that plays into building support for Joe.
Hillary chose Mr. Bland and, one good thing there, many can't remember his name to this day -- allowing her to shine. (Tim Kaine, if you forgot.)
Hillary showed up last night. In pink -- or white? Looking awful with yet another new hair style. Why does she keep changing hairstyles, a friend asked noting that since 1992, she's changed every four to six months at least. Good question. Best answer: She's still not one that's flattering.
She's not a speaker. Her flat, grating voice went on and on as she delivered her speech from -- what was that, a Lazy-Boy?
Moving on to other topics, US Secretary of State Mike Pompeop Tweeted:
Iraq's Prime Minister Mustafa al-Kadhimi is in the US. He's scheduled to meet with US President Donald Trump. They are supposed to discuss a number of topics including the continued US military presence in Iraq. The government of Iraq notes the following joint-statement issued by it and the US government:
The following statement was released by the Governments of the Republic of Iraq and the United States of America:
The following sites updated: