AP reports that people will be landing on the Moon again for the first time since 1972.
So they're hoping for a 2024 landing and there are 18 astronauts that are going to be part of the mission. This is "Artemis" that we were covering earlier this week. STANFORD UNIVERSITY NEWS reports:
On Dec. 9, NASA announced the members of the Artemis team of astronauts, who will participate in missions on and around the moon. Three Stanford alumni – NICOLE MANN, MS ’01; KATE RUBINS, PhD ’06; and JESSICA WATKINS, BS ’10 – are among the 18 astronauts chosen to be part of the “Artemis Team.”
According to the press release from NASA, the Artemis program will “land the first woman and next man on the moon in 2024 and establish a sustainable human lunar presence by the end of the decade.”
Mann was born in Petaluma, California, and grew up in nearby Rohnert Park. She received a Master of Science degree from Stanford in mechanical engineering with a specialty in fluid mechanics in 2001 and joined the astronaut corps in 2013. According to NASA, Mann is currently training for the first crew flight test of Boeing’s Starliner spacecraft.
Rubins was raised in Napa, California, and earned her doctorate in cancer biology from the School of Medicine in 2006. She was chosen as an astronaut in 2009. She has flown aboard the International Space Station twice. During those flights, Rubins performed two spacewalks – totaling 12 hours, 46 minutes – and was the first person to sequence DNA in space. She has logged 115 days in space.
Watkins, from Lafayette, Colorado, earned a Bachelor of Science degree in geological and environmental sciences from Stanford in 2010. She interned at NASA’s Ames Research Center and NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory and was a member of the science team for the Mars Science Laboratory rover, Curiosity. She joined the astronaut corps in 2017. A Stanford Earth story from 2018 reported that “one of Watkins’ fondest memories at Stanford is the work she did with Don Lowe, whom she met during her junior year when she was interning at nearby NASA Ames and exploring the feasibility of simulating Martian soil for a research project.”
Here are the 18 who were picked:
Joseph Acaba was selected as a NASA astronaut in 2004. He has spent 306 days in space and performed three spacewalks. The Anaheim, California, native holds a bachelor’s degree in geology, as well as master’s degrees in geology and education. Before coming to NASA, he taught high school science and middle school math and science.
Kayla Barron was chosen as an astronaut in 2017. Originally from Richland, Washington, she earned a bachelor’s degree in systems engineering and a master’s degree in nuclear engineering. As a submarine warfare officer, Barron was a member of the first class of women commissioned into the submarine community. She is a lieutenant commander in the U.S. Navy.
Raja Chari joined the astronaut corps in 2017. A colonel in the U.S. Air Force, he was raised in Cedar Falls, Iowa. He received a bachelor’s degree in astronautical engineering and a master’s degree in aeronautics and astronautics. The U.S. Naval Test Pilot School graduate worked on F-15E upgrades and then the F-35 development program, before coming to NASA.
Matthew Dominick was chosen as an astronaut in 2017. Born in Wheat Ridge, Colorado, he holds a bachelor’s degree in electrical engineering and a master’s degree in systems engineering. He also graduated from the U.S. Naval Test Pilot School and was a developmental test pilot specializing in aircraft carrier launches and landings before coming to NASA.
Victor Glover was selected as an astronaut in 2013. The Pomona, California, native and U.S. Navy Commander earned a bachelor’s degree in general engineering and master’s degrees in flight test engineering, systems engineering, and military operational art and science. He piloted the Crew-1 Dragon Resilience and is currently serving as an Expedition 64 flight engineer aboard the International Space Station.
Warren Hoburg joined the astronaut corps in 2017. A native of Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, he holds a bachelor’s degree in aeronautics and astronautics, and a doctorate in electrical engineering and computer science. Before coming to NASA, he was an assistant professor at Massachusetts Institute of Technology and a seasonal member of the Yosemite Search and Rescue team.
Jonny Kim came to NASA as part of the 2017 astronaut class. The Los Angeles, California, native enlisted in the U.S. Navy following high school. He became a Navy SEAL before earning his commission and going back to school to pursue a bachelor’s degree in mathematics, followed by a doctor of medicine.
Christina Hammock Koch was selected as an astronaut in 2013 and holds the record for longest single spaceflight by a woman, with 328 days in space and six spacewalks. She grew up in Jacksonville, North Carolina, and received bachelor’s degrees in electrical engineering and physics, and a master’s degree in electrical engineering.
Kjell Lindgren was chosen as an astronaut in 2009. He spent 141 days in space and performed two spacewalks. Born in Taipei, Taiwan, he holds a bachelor’s degree in biology, a master’s degree in cardiovascular physiology and a doctor of medicine. Before becoming an astronaut, he was a flight surgeon supporting space shuttle and space station missions.
Nicole A. Mann joined the astronaut corps in 2013 and is currently training as pilot for the Crew Flight Test of Boeing’s CST-100 Starliner. Born in Petaluma, California, she earned bachelor’s and master’s degrees in mechanical engineering. The U.S. Marine Corps lieutenant colonel was an F/A-18 fighter pilot and graduate from the U.S. Naval Test Pilot School.
Anne McClain, from Spokane, Washington, joined the astronaut corps in 2013. She has spent 204 days in space and conducted two spacewalks. The U.S. Army lieutenant colonel is a Senior Army Aviator and graduated from the U.S. Naval Test Pilot School as a helicopter test pilot. She holds a bachelor’s degree in mechanical/aeronautical engineering, and master’s degrees in aerospace engineering and international relations.
Jessica Meir was chosen as an astronaut in 2013. She has spent 205 days in space and performed three spacewalks. A native of Caribou, Maine, she earned a bachelor’s degree in biology, a master’s degree in space studies, and a doctorate in marine biology. Before coming to NASA, she studied the physiology of animals in extreme environments.
Jasmin Moghbeli joined the astronaut corps in 2017. A major in the U.S. Marine Corps, she was raised in Baldwin, New York. She received both bachelor’s and master’s degrees in aerospace engineering. She also graduated from the U.S. Naval Test Pilot School and tested H-1 helicopters before she came to NASA.
Kate Rubins was chosen as an astronaut in 2009 and is currently orbiting Earth on her second flight aboard the International Space Station. She was raised in Napa, California, and holds a bachelor’s degree in molecular biology and a doctorate in cancer biology. She was the first person to sequence DNA in space and has performed two spacewalks.
Frank Rubio was selected as part of the 2017 astronaut class. The U.S. Army lieutenant colonel considers Miami, Florida, his hometown. He earned a bachelor’s degree in international relations and a doctor of medicine. He served as both a Blackhawk helicopter pilot and a flight surgeon in the Army before coming to NASA.
Scott Tingle came to NASA to join the 2009 astronaut class. The U.S. Navy captain has spent 168 days in space and performed one spacewalk. He considers Randolph, Massachusetts, his hometown and holds bachelor’s and master’s degrees in mechanical engineering. He also graduated from the U.S. Navy Test Pilot School.
Jessica Watkins joined the astronaut corps in 2017. The Lafayette, Colorado, native received a bachelor’s degree in geological and environmental sciences, and a doctorate in geology. Before becoming an astronaut, she was a postdoctoral fellow at the California Institute of Technology, where she served as a member of the science team for the Mars Science Laboratory rover, Curiosity.
Stephanie Wilson was chosen as an astronaut in 1996. A veteran of three space shuttle flights, she has spent 42 days in space. She was born in Boston, Massachusetts, and earned a bachelor’s degree in engineering science and a master’s degree in aerospace engineering. Before becoming an astronaut, she worked on the Galileo spacecraft at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory.
Acaba, Dominick, McClain, Meir, and Watkins attended the announcement in person, representing their teammates.
WE ARE THE MIGHTY notes, "It’s no surprise that many of NASA’s astronauts have military backgrounds. However, it may come as surprise that one of the 18 astronauts selected for NASA’s Artemis team on December 9, 2020 is a submariner and another is a Navy SEAL. The Artemis program aims to land “the first woman and the next man” on the moon by 2024. Ten of the astronauts chosen for this historic program have military backgrounds." WOMC notes:
The "mega rocket" assembly for the Artemis moon mission has begun,
"Stacking the first piece of the SLS rocket on the mobile launcher marks
a major milestone for the Artemis Program. It shows the mission is
truly taking shape and will soon head to the launch pad."
"Iraq snapshot" (THE COMMON ILLS);
Friday, Decemeber 11, 2020. Protests continue in Iraq while the Pope notes the continued violence and the refugees.
Starting with Pope Francis.
He says of Iraq and Syria in the video above:
My thoughts go notably to the people who had to leave their homes to escape the horrors of war, in search of a better life. We must work to ensure that the Christian presence in these lands continues to be what it has always been: a sign of peace, progress, development, and reconciliation between peoples
Here's a video segment from ROME REPORTS on the Pope's remarks.
Carol Glatz (CNS via THE TABLET) explains:
Pope Francis encouraged every effort, big or small, to foster peace amid the crises unfolding in Iraq and Syria, and to help Christians remain.
Highlighting the desire of refugees to return to their homes, the Pope appealed to the international community “to make every effort to encourage this return, guaranteeing the security conditions and the economic conditions necessary for this to happen”.
Ines San Martin (CRUX NEWS) adds:
Close to 50 people, between Vatican officials and representatives of local Catholic Churches took part in the Dec. 10 virtual summit organized by the Vatican’s Dicastery for Promoting Integral Human Development. Though the Zoom dialogue focused mostly on Syria and Iraq, the cases of neighboring Lebanon, Turkey and Jordan – all hosting hundreds of thousands of refugees – were also considered.
Pope Francis has announced his plan to visit Iraq in March of the new year (March 5th to March 8th, see Wednesday's snapshot). If the visit takes place, it will be the first time a pope has visited Iraq. VATICAN NEWS notes:
Even though details of the visit have not been decided, the bishop said that Pope Francis wishes to go “to Mosul, a stronghold of the Islamic State for a long time, where the worst crimes of jihadist madness were committed.” “The Pope wants to go to Mosul and pray for the victims of the Islamic State” and the violence that took place in the city.
Catholics, Bishop Yaldo said, are “a small flock, but of great relevance.” “This Christmas will be special as we wait for the visit.” In the meantime, “we must do our best to ensure that it has the historical, cultural and religious importance it deserves.” “This visit,” he said, “will give an enormous boost to the country’s future and will guarantee great visibility to Christians. The Pope will give great significance and relevance to their presence and their suffering.”
According to the bishop, the stop at Ur of the Chaldeans, regarded as the birthplace of Abraham, will be the high point of the visit because Christians, Muslims and Jews regard him as a prophet. Abraham “represents the sign of unity for all of us who inhabit this land, for us who are in Iraq”. “Seeing Abraham’s house will be a great symbol of unity for all religions that have this element in common,” Bishop Yaldo said.
Like the rest of the world, Iraq is experiencing the pandemic. XINHUA notes, "The Iraqi Health Ministry reported on Thursday 1,380 new COVID-19 cases, bringing the total nationwide infections to 571,253, while the recoveries surpassed 500,000." In the face of the pandemic, Kevin Clarke (AMERIA: THE JESUIT REVIEW) wonders about the safety of the announced visit:
While a visit from the pope will no doubt provide a spiritual and psychological boost to Nineveh Christians, under the current pandemic conditions it is a prospect that must give local public health officials pause. “The people will go to see him even if there is coronavirus,” Mr. Towaya assures. “They don’t care about that; they will not stay home; they will go, and they will receive him.”
World Health Organization officials and the Holy See Press Office did not respond to questions about how the pope’s visit and related public events could be conducted safely, but W.H.O. guidelines currently in effect urge “that all countries with community transmission should seriously consider postponing or reducing mass gatherings that bring people together and have the potential to amplify disease.”
Though rates of Covid-19 in Iraq have declined since October, on average more than 2,000 new cases have been confirmed each day throughout November and December. More than 571,000 Covid-19 cases have been reported in Iraq since February, and more than 12,500 Iraqis have died.
Even as announcements are made of vaccine breakthroughs and wealthier nations like the United States and United Kingdom line up to reserve millions of vaccine doses, the World Health Organization predicts widespread distribution of a vaccine for coronavirus will not begin until sometime in the middle of 2021, long after the dates currently proposed for the pope’s visit to Iraq. A W.H.O. program to accelerate development and distribution of an affordable coronavirus vaccine faced a $28 billion shortfall in December.
A visit by the Pope would provide many benefits -- including uplift and excitement -- at a time when many Iraqis suffer -- continue to suffer -- in the ongoing war.
Let's again note this video about abuse in Iraq.
We'll again note The Wilson Center's Hanaa Edwar:
This year, we have launched the mapping report on Sexual and GBV in Iraq 2003-2018, which was developed by Iraqi Al-Amal Association, Impunity Watch and PAX. The report is part of a broader project entitled “Engendering the Transition to Peace and Security in Iraq” funded by the Dutch Ministry of Foreign Affairs.
In addition, since the outbreak of protest demonstrations on October 2019, we have documented the killing of six female demonstrators and activists in different provinces. The latest was Dr. Reham Jacob in Basra in August 2020. Plus, many demonstrators encountered assassination attempts, death threats, abduction, or sexual assault. Many activists went into hiding to keep themselves and their loved ones safe.
Due to the influence of militias in the political and security apparatus and the spread of corruption in Iraq, women’s rights defenders, activists and journalists lack basic legal and social protections. We are seriously concerned about the impunity of death threats, abductions, sexual assault, intimidation, online harassment, and smear campaigns against them. We call on the international community to exert pressure on the Iraqi government to adhere to justice, accountability, and transparency through effective investigations of these crimes. Without protections for activists and civil society leaders, Iraq will never move forward on ending GBV.
Iraq is a war zone. It remains one. The US-led invasion of 2003 set off an ongoing war and just because the US press largely withdrew at the end of 2008 doesn't mean that the war ended. The violence continues. UNICEF notes:
In Sinjar, two children were killed and another two injured when unexploded ordnance went off. This is a stark reminder that landmines and explosive remnants of war continue to threaten the lives of children in Iraq. In Sulaymaniyah, at least one child was killed during the ongoing wave of protests in the governorate.UNICEF strongly urges all parties to protect children and keep them out of harm's way. Children should be safe everywhere, in their homes, in neighborhoods, and on the streets. This continued violence and disregard for children's safety should stop. Children's right to live in safety, protected from all forms of violence, is a right that is enshrined in the United Nations Convention for the Rights of the Child. Iraq is a signatory of the Convention and must therefore do all that it can to ensure that every boy and girl can live in safety and dignity.
School in the midst of a pandemic? Not easy even outside a war zone. In Iraq? One Nation is working to provide education centers.
In the US, idiots puffed out their chests for wearing pink hats and marching (for nothing, by the way) in DC to protest Donald Trump's election as president in 2016. It was a waste of time. It's the Sam Seder of 'politics.' It's meaningless. It's a statement where none is needed. Sam Sader doesn't do issues. He does partisan talking points. The late Kevin Zeese spend his life fighting for issue -- Medicare For All, an end to war, etc. These are real issues and these are issues to go into the streets. Corruption, violence against the people, a living wage, etc. Putting on a pink hat and stomping around DC because you don't like an election outcome is, at best, really bad performance art/street theater. It's not risking anything in terms of personal safety and it's not demanding anything.
It's nonsense. Get out in the streets to protest police violence, to demand a living wage, to scream that Congress gets off its ass and starts working for the people, real issues. "My itty bitty feelings are hurt that my favorite person didn't win the election!" That's cry baby nonsense.
Well off or well funded cry baby nonsense, we should note. Most Americans don't have the luxury of being able to travel to DC to stomp their feet over an election -- either they lack the funds or they have demands -- jobs, children, caregive for family members -- that don't allow them to just up and travel.
Real protests matter. And real protests are taking place in Iraq.
Protests have been taking place in Iraq for over a year now. You don't see our US 'left' outlets noting those protests. But those protests take place. And the Iraqi people risk their lives protesting. Bullets are used on them, tear gas, sonic bombs. They are bullied at protests by the security forces, they are often stalked on their way homes from a protest. Many of the protesters have been disappeared -- an issue that Amnesty International is supposedly watching (according to a friend with Amnesty UK). They are risking everything to make demands. For? Jobs. An end to corruption. Basic services like electricity and potable water. A government that works for the people.
They are making real demands.
Nasiriyah has been carrying out protests for some time now. At the end of last month, cult leader Moqtada al-Sadr turned his goons loose on the peaceful protesters. Some were wounded (around 80) and some were killed (6 to 18 depending on the outlet). Still they protest.
We'll note this Tweet as well:
Another hot spot for protests in the last few weeks is Sulaymaniyah.
This morning, Hoshang Waziri Tweets:
Ibrahim al-Zobeidi (ARAB WEEKLY) offers this view:
What happened and is happening in Sulaymaniyah is no different from what happened and is happening every day in Baghdad, Nasiriyah, Basra and other Iraqi cities. Same reasons, same motives, and same results.
Yes, it is the same anger that is driving the masses to take revenge on the ruling parties, and the same cruelty that is used to suppress the demonstrators with batons, gas bombs and, finally real bullets, if they are not deterred at the first sign and return to their homes obediently, so that they do not, after today, dare attack their masters.
What is evidenced by the details of the Sulaymaniyah battles between the oppressed and robbed Kurdish citizens and their oppressors and exposed robbers, is that all that talk by Kurdish political leaders, from complaining about being oppressed for a long time to calling for protecting the citizen’s dignity, guaranteeing his security and independence, and restoring his legitimate rights to justice, equality, job opportunities and prosperity, was nothing but a smokescreen.
And they were no different in this from their Islamist allies who have monopolised power, money and weapons in the Arab half of Iraq; they are all made of the same clay and in the same mould.
The following sites updated: