Are you watching the sky? Jonathan Amos (BBC NEWS) reports:
Mars is at its biggest and brightest right now as the Red Planet lines up with Earth on the same side of the Sun.
Every 26 months, the pair take up this arrangement, moving close together, before then diverging again on their separate orbits around our star.
Tuesday night sees the actual moment of what astronomers call "opposition".
All three bodies will be in a straight line at 23:20 GMT (00:20 BST).
"But you don't have to wait until the middle of the night; even now, at nine or 10 o'clock in the evening, you'll easily see it over in the southeast," says astrophotographer, Damian Peach. "You can't miss it, it's the brightest star-like object in that part of the sky," he told BBC News.
Forget Halloween. October 2020 is all about the glory of Mars, as the glimmering red planet puts on a show in the night sky. We passed Mars' close approach to Earth on Oct. 6 and now we're pumped for Oct. 13, when it will be in opposition.
Mars has a reputation as the "red" planet, but its color in the night sky is a little more on the Halloween side of the spectrum. It appears as a bright orange-red dot to the naked eye, like a little spot of glittering rust.
Mars' distinctive color is one clue you've found it in the dark. Look to the eastern sky to catch it rising at night. This is a great time for viewing the planet, partly because spotting it is so simple. It should be visible for most of the night. As NASA says, "Simply go outside and look up and, depending on your local weather and lighting conditions, you should be able to see Mars."
So look for that in the sky while we can enjoy it. Also in science news, Emma Bryce (LIVE SCIENCE) reports on the dodo bird:
Sometime in the late 1600s, in the lush forests of Mauritius, the very last dodo took its last breath. After centuries of untroubled ferreting in the tropical undergrowth, this species met its untimely end at the hands of humans, who had arrived on the island less than 100 years before. With their penchant for hunting, habitat destruction and the release of invasive species, humans undid millions of years of evolution, and swiftly removed this bird from the face of the Earth.
Since then, the dodo has nestled itself in our conscience as the first prominent example of human-driven extinction. We've also used the dodo to assuage our own guilt: the creature was fat, lazy and unintelligent — and as popular story goes, those traits sealed its inevitable fate.
in fact, we couldn't be more wrong, said Julian Hume, a paleontologist
and research associate with the National History Museum in the United
Kingdom. He studies the fossils of extinct species, and has devoted a
portion of his career to correcting the dodo's dismal reputation. By
digitally modelling the remains of a dodo’s skeleton, he's produced a 3D digital reconstruction that draws an altogether different picture of a bird that was faster, more athletic and far brainier
than popular culture has led us to believe. "It was nothing like this
big, fat, bulgy thing that was just waddling around. This bird was super
adapted to the environment of Mauritius," Hume told Live Science.
Instead, humans' unrelenting exploitation was the real culprit behind
the dodo's untimely death.
This reminds me of the way we are overfishing, for example. As far back as 2010, NATIONAL GEOGRAPHIC was calling attention to this problem:
Ocean overfishing is simply the taking of wildlife from the sea at rates too high for fished species to replace themselves. The earliest overfishing occurred in the early 1800s when humans, seeking blubber for lamp oil, decimated the whale population. Some fish that we eat, including Atlantic cod and herring and California's sardines, were also harvested to the brink of extinction by the mid-1900s.
Highly disruptive to the food chain, these isolated, regional depletions became global and catastrophic by the late 20th century.
Marine scientists know when widespread overfishing of the seas began. And they have a pretty good idea when, if left unaddressed, it will end.
In the mid-20th century, international efforts to increase the availability and affordability of protein-rich foods led to concerted government efforts to increase fishing capacity. Favorable policies, loans, and subsidies spawned a rapid rise of big industrial fishing operations, which quickly supplanted local boatmen as the world's source of seafood.
These large, profit-seeking commercial fleets were extremely aggressive, scouring the world's oceans and developing ever more sophisticated methods and technologies for finding, extracting, and processing their target species. Consumers soon grew accustomed to having access to a wide selection of fish species at affordable prices.
But by 1989, when about 90 million tons (metric tons) of catch were taken from the ocean, the industry had hit its high-water mark, and yields have declined or stagnated ever since. Fisheries for the most sought-after species, like orange roughy, Chilean sea bass, and bluefin tuna have collapsed. In 2003, a scientific report estimated that industrial fishing had reduced the number of large ocean fish to just 10 percent of their pre-industrial population.
Fishing is one of the most significant drivers of declines in ocean wildlife populations. Catching fish is not inherently bad for the ocean, except for when vessels catch fish faster than stocks can replenish, something called overfishing.
The number of overfished stocks globally has tripled in half a century and today fully one-third of the world's assessed fisheries are currently pushed beyond their biological limits, according to the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations. Overfishing is closely tied to bycatch—the capture of unwanted sea life while fishing for a different species. This, too, is a serious marine threat that causes the needless loss of billions of fish, along with hundreds of thousands of sea turtles and cetaceans.
The damage done by overfishing goes beyond the marine environment. Billions of people rely on fish for protein, and fishing is the principal livelihood for millions of people around the world.
Many people who make a living catching, selling, and buying fish are working to improve how the world manages and conserves ocean resources. WWF works with a cross-section of stakeholders to reform fisheries management globally, focusing on sustainable practices that not only conserve ecosystems, but also sustain livelihoods and ensure food security.
The whole point of history is to learn from it. We need to learn from what we did to the dodo bird. And we need to learn that lesson before it is too late.
So many great posts in the community in the last 24 hours including:
Here's part of a debate that I missed.
I am supporting Howie.
"Iraq snapshot" (THE COMMON ILLS):
Friday, October 9, 2020. Our personal Evita wants to tell us how to vote.
Michelle Obama -- great activist and voice for the people -- wants you to know that you can only vote for Joe Biden. Jimmy Dore explains what a worthless voice Michelle's is.
"Ignorance and hatred keep me from doing my duty as a citizen"?
What duty? What have you ever done?
You've never led a march . . .except a march to the bank.
It's really time we said no to Presidential Welfare. Once upon a time, people didn't dishonor the presidency, turn it into a lotto sweepstakes win. Now that they do? No more healthcare coverage. No more Secret Service detail. Let these whores pay for it themselves.
Jimmy Carter didn't use his former president status to rake in millions or billions. A president like that? Sure, pay for their Secret Service protection.
But I'm damn tired of paying for security at Simon & Schuster book events for Hillary, Bill, Barack or Michelle. They get millions in advances for books that frequently do not sell all that well -- certainly not enough to justify the advances -- and we're then supposed to pick up the bill for security so that they can make millions?
End Presidential Welfare, end it now.
Read Ann's "Ugly Michelle Obama" which is on the mark. Ann is a Green Party member. Her parents are, she was raised to be a Green.
Screw Michelle, that hag should keep her mouth shut. Every time she opens it lately, she lies. Pretending Barack didn't put children into cages at the DNC, for example. She's a hag. She shows no respect for others -- Green Party members are Americans so stop treating them like your lackeys that you can boss around or shame. She's a hag. Barack's hag.
Was she trying to distract from last night's debate? Probably so. Last night The Free and Equal Elections Foundation held their own presidential debate where all candidates were invited. It streamed on FACEBOOK. I don't see it on YOUTUBE but you can stream at the FACEBOOK link. Five candidates participated.
Gloria La Riva (Party for Socialism and Liberation) attended. To the first question, her response included:
My party and my campaign believe that all US troops must be withdrawn from every base around the world. Shut down the more than 800 military bases without any hesitation. Take the troops out of South Korea so that the people of Korea can be reunited again. When a country is occupied by the United States, it cannot be truly free. And that goes for Afghanistan, that goes for Iraq, that goes for part of what used to be Yugoslavia. I have seen the effects of US war and sanctions. I traveled three times to Iraq between 1997 and 2001 to see more than one million people who had died from a total US blockade on Iraq. Why? For the US to take control of the oil. That is strategic geo-political domination of the Middle East. Now they've overthrown Libya and created a hellhole for the people. I believe that the people of the world must be able to decide their own destiny. And part of that foreign policy [I propose] is also stopping all US military aid to Israel. Stop oppressing the Palestinian people. The people in Palestine must have the right to self-determination. And I made a video about Iraq, by the way, it's called GENOCIDE BY SANCTIONS: THE CASE OF IRAQ. It won an award for the exposition
You can find that documentary at the INTERNET ARCHIVE.
And in just that portion of her first response, you find more weight and depth than anything you saw in the Democrat and Republican presidential debates or in this weeks Democrat and Republican vice presidential debate
Let's not be hags for the Democratic Party. We'll start with the Green Party. Howie Hawkins is the presidential candidate. Howie has long called for Medicare For All (Joe Biden and Donald Trump are against it) and a Green New Deal (ditto). Yesterday, Howie called for other items.
On YOUTUBE, you can find about six minutes of the debate currently.
If you read the comments, you will see that the YOUTUBE stream had issues. If they post it to YOUTUBE, we will include it in a snapshot.
Green Party presidential candidate Howie Hawkins also participated. He's long called for a Green New Deal and for Medicare For All. At his TWITTER feed last night, he called for an end to the electoral college and much more including:
Demilitarize the police. Invest in social services. Legalize marijuana. End the war on drugs. We need community control of the police!
We must give back stolen lands and honor indigenous treaty rights. We need to guarantee representation of native people in Washington, and bring about proportional representation to our entire electoral system.
We have violated treaties where our government recognizes defined indigenous lands. The least we can do is honor the treaties and respect sovereignty.
No Space Force. No militarization of space.
We need to dismantle the privatization of space. We need to invest in NASA and work towards global cooperation.
End the surveillance state!
The Commission on Presidential Debates is a private entity controlled by the Dems and GOP. It is NOT a public government agency.
We need Full Public Campaign Financing
Jo Jorgensen is the Libertarian Party's presidential candidate.
Despite residents in all fifty states being able to vote for Jo, she is not allowed into the mainstream debates. How scared are Donald Trump and Joe Biden of Jo Jorgensen? Little, cowardly boys is all they are.
Jo's been campaigning around the country. Below is her speaking at a campaign rally in Philadelphia.
Michelle Obama wants to limit your choice. She wants to make it a two-man race. Of course, she does. She was a sexist pig at the DNC in 2008 -- and we called that crap out (and her decision to wear granny panties that were visible through her dress -- see Ava and my "TV: The endless non-news"). She's now yet again working overtime to erase women. Gloria La Riva is a solid choice and she's a woman. Jo Jorgensen is a solid choice and she's a woman. Angela Walker -- Howie's running mate -- is a solid choice and she's a woman.
Michelle doesn't support women. And she never has. "Our girls" is about the height of activism from Michelle. She works overtime to betray women and to keep the patriarchy going. She doesn't instill pride, she just offers scolding and nagging and bullying.
You have choices. You need to listen to yourself and decide who represents you. If it's Joe Biden, great. If it's Gloria La Riva, great. Whomever it is -- even Donald Trump -- if that's the person who best represents your views and opinions, that's who you need to vote for. And if no one represents you, you have every right to not vote (either just on the presidential or on the whole ballot). That's what a democracy is supposed to be about.
At THE GUARDIAN, Ghaith Abdul-Ahad reports on the militia:
According to Abu Hashem and other commanders, Iranian flights soon started delivering weapons to the newly opened airport in Najaf.
“One of the ministers in the government at that time used to be head of logistics in the [Shia political party and military group] Badr Corps. He sat on the floor in a white dishdasha, picked up phones and arranged for shipments of pickup trucks, munitions and weapons, then distributed them among the different factions.”
With weapons, cars and men came Iranian advisers. They dispersed across the country in a wide geographic arch from Diyala in the east to the western border with Syria. Their voices could be heard on the military radio directing mortar fire in Falluja, installing thermal cameras in a small besieged village in the west of Mosul and accompanying the advance of an Iraqi special forces brigade in Tikrit.
“The reality is, without the Iranians we wouldn’t be able to do anything,” Abu Hashem said. “If the Iranian advisers weren’t there, the battalions wouldn’t attack. Their presence gave the men confidence in the early days.
We last noted the militia's in Monday's snapshot: We were noting how they were attacking the protesters:
This result was completely expected by any of us paying attention in real time. That would leave out the likes of THE NEW YORK TIMES which, in 2019, offered that the "militia's independence" would be "chip[ped] away" by this move. They were wrong. The move to bring the militia forces under the umbrella of the Iraqi forces was first proposed by thug Nouri al-Maliki in his second term. But it would be the laughable Hayder al-Abadi who would actually do it. One of the few to call the militia nonsense out in real time was Ranj Alaaldin (Brookings) who observed:
But such beliefs were met with a new reality on Monday, as were (unrealistic) hopes that al-Abadi could rebuild Iraq and bring the country together: His coalition announced that he will join forces with Iran-aligned militias that spear the Popular Mobilization Forces (PMF), the umbrella Shiite militia organization established in 2014 to fill the vacuum that was left by the collapse of Iraq’s armed forces when ISIS seized Mosul.
Just a day later, the Iran-aligned militias—contesting the elections as the al-Fatih (Conquest) bloc—withdrew from the electoral alliance, not out of principle but because of differences over participation and electoral strategy (there were not enough seats to go around). Indeed, Hadi al-Ameri, the head of the Badr Brigade—Iraq’s most powerful militia, which Iran established in the 1980s and which controls the Interior Ministry—has even hinted they could join forces after the elections to form a government.
Folding the militias into the Iraqi government did not put any controls on the militias. They terrorize the Iraqi people as they did before they were part of the government. They refuse to take orders and they issue threats against the Iraqi government.
At The Atlantic Council (a pro-war body), Andrew Peek makes an argument which includes:
The issue is that Sunni extremists are no longer a determinative geopolitical priority. For the moment, the fire has gone out of the radicals. ISIS is not gone but has gone underground like its sister organizations. Though it can still bite, it is utterly discredited in the heartland of Iraq and Syria. ISIS pulled the Sunni world to the brink and it drew back. Outside of a catastrophic black swan event—a mass release from the al-Hol prison in Syria, a Houthi breakthrough in Yemen, some implosion in Pakistan or Afghanistan—it is not clear what would resurrect the mass political appeal of Sunni extremism.
Adding to this challenge is that the Shia community’s radicals are radical in a very different way than the Sunnis. They form the political bodies from which structured, directed militant groups emerge, but there are virtually no lone wolves. Terror, such as it exists, is carefully controlled for state ends. Lebanese Hezbollah will still conduct bombings in Israel, Syria, and Europe—like the Bulgarian attack for which it was blamed in 2012—and Iran will kill dissidents, but this is structurally a far different phenomenon than the explosion of hydra-headed Sunni radicalism that the US faced at the end of the twentieth century.
The great bureaucratic success of the Trump administration has been to make Iran the US’s top priority in the Middle East, allowing for America’s great big counter-Sunni extremist machine to shift focus to Shia groups. Iranian-backed Shia militant groups have begun to be sanctioned more regularly—even those that had fought against ISIS. President Donald Trump’s targeting of Iranian and Iran-backed targets and his administration’s increased risk tolerance of operating against such actors in battlespaces where they dominate is a signature bureaucratic achievement. Neither the State Department nor the Defense Department readily changed course.
Nevertheless, the public engagement work has not caught up with the new focus on Iran. In other words, the US lacks virtually any engagement with the Shia body politic. We normally do not host Shia religious leaders at official events, Iftar dinners, and the like, particularly not members of the Marjayiya. The Bush administration was actually forward-leaning with this: for example, sending a plane in 2007 to fly a senior Iraqi cleric to Houston for medical treatment. But, other than that (and some very quiet meetings held by myself with one or two others), there has not been much engagement with them, besides the occasional over-the-top communiqué to Grand Ayatollah Ali al-Sistani in Iraq—usually when the walls in Iraq are about to come crumbling down.
The following sites updated: