Science post time. Focusing on Mars. George Dvorsky (GIZMODO) reports:
Failure could take on many forms next week
when NASA’s next-gen rover, Perseverance, reaches the surface of the
Red Planet. Here’s what needs to go right—and how things could quickly
go sideways—when Perseverance tries to make its much-anticipated
For NASA, the entry, descent, and landing (EDL) of Perseverance on Thursday, February 18 presents numerous potential points of failure. NASA has said that “hundreds of things have to go just right” for the rover to survive the seven minutes of terror. We can’t take a safe landing for granted: As NASA points out, only “about 40 percent of the missions ever sent to Mars—by any space agency—have been successful.” Which, yikes.
In a nutshell, Perseverance will have to transition from speeds reaching 12,500 miles per hour (20,000 km/hr) to a walking pace over the course of several minutes. What’s more, it’ll have to perform this autonomously, as it takes nearly 11 minutes for radio signals to reach Earth. To complicate matters, NASA is debuting two new technologies for the mission, both relating to the EDL phase and both unproven.
A lot needs to go just right. And you can watch it as it takes place. NASA explained how yesterday in a press release:
NASA is inviting the public to take part in virtual activities and events as the agency’s Mars 2020 Perseverance rover nears entry, descent, and landing on the Red Planet, with touchdown scheduled for approximately 3:55 p.m. EST Thursday, Feb. 18.
Live coverage and landing commentary from NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Southern California will begin at 2:15 p.m. on the NASA TV Public Channel and the agency’s website, as well as the NASA App, YouTube, Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitch, Daily Motion, and THETA.TV.
Among the many firsts with this mission is the agency’s first-ever Spanish-language show for a planetary landing. On Thursday, Feb. 18, at 2:30 p.m., NASA will air “Juntos perseveramos,” a show that will give viewers an overview of the mission to Mars and highlight the role Hispanic NASA professionals have had in its success.
During landing, the rover will plunge through the thin Martian atmosphere at more than 12,000 mph (about 20,000 kph). A parachute and powered descent will slow the rover down to about 2 mph (3 kph). During what is known as the sky crane maneuver, the descent stage will lower the rover on three cables to land softly on six wheels at Jezero Crater.
Perseverance also is carrying a technology experiment – the Ingenuity Mars Helicopter – that will attempt the first powered, controlled flight on another planet.
“If there’s one thing we know, it’s that landing on Mars is never easy,” said NASA Associate Administrator for Communications Marc Etkind. “But as NASA’s fifth Mars rover, Perseverance has an extraordinary engineering pedigree and mission team. We are excited to invite the entire world to share this exciting event with us!”
NASA is offering many ways for the public to participate and stay up to date on landing information, mission highlights, and interaction opportunities.
Watch and Participate Virtually
Connect with like-minded space enthusiasts, receive a NASA Social badge, ask questions, and take part in other virtual activities by signing up for the Perseverance Rover Virtual NASA Social event.
NASA also will provide a virtual guest experience for members of the public during landing, with notifications about mission updates, curated mission resources, and a virtual passport stamp available after landing.
Stay connected and let people know you're following the mission on Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram. Join the conversation, ask questions, and get answers online by using #CountdownToMars.
Follow and tag these accounts:
Opportunities for Students, Teachers, Educators
Design, build, and land your own spacecraft – just like NASA scientists and engineers do. Join NASA’s Mission to Mars Student Challenge, where classrooms, informal education groups, families and individuals will be able to participate in landing week question-and-answer sessions with mission experts and submit student questions and work that could be featured during NASA broadcasts leading up to and on landing day.
A Mars 2020 STEM toolkit also is available, with stories on the students who named Perseverance and Ingenuity, opportunities to code your own Mars exploration games, and more.
Join scientists from NASA and JPL at a briefing of the National Academies Space Studies Board and Aeronautics and Space Engineering Board Wednesday, Feb. 17, at 11:30 am EST to hear more about Perseverance’s journey to Mars’ Jezero Crater, NASA’s Mars Sample Return, and the challenges the team has overcome. Participants include:
- Thomas Zurbuchen, NASA associate administrator for science
- Lori Glaze, director of NASA’s Planetary Science Division
- Bobby Braun, Mars Sample Return program manager at JPL
- Matt Wallace, deputy project manager, Mars 2020 at JPL
- Katie Stack Morgan, Mars 2020 deputy project scientist at JPL
You also can try out a virtual photo booth that allows you to pose next to the Perseverance rover, listen to the differences between sounds on Mars and Earth, and check out other interactive experiences on the mission’s website.
Send Your Name to Mars, Again!
Perseverance is carrying three dime-size chips with 11 million names submitted by people all over the world. Anyone who missed the chance to send their name on Perseverance can sign up to send their name on a future Mars mission at:
Lighting Towns Red Around the World
To celebrate Perseverance’s Red Planet landing, the Empire State Building in New York will light its tower red on Tuesday, Feb. 16, starting at sunset until 2 a.m. the following morning. In addition, the Los Angeles International Airport gateway pylons will glow red from sundown on Wednesday, Feb. 17, through sunrise Friday, Feb. 19. Other sites in the United States recognizing the upcoming landing include select buildings along the Chicago skyline, such as the Adler Planetarium. NASA invites cities around the country and world to participate in “lighting the town red.”
A Perseverance landing toolkit provides additional details about all the activities planned for landing week, as well as additional links for learning more about the rover and helicopter.
NASA Televised Event Schedule
In addition to social media coverage, NASA TV will air a number of events leading up to, including, and following the landing.
Members of the public may ask questions on social media during the events using #CountdownToMars.
The following events currently are scheduled to air live (all times Eastern). Please check the NASA TV schedule for the latest updates:
Tuesday, Feb. 16
1 p.m. – News conference: Mission engineering and technology overview
3:30 p.m. – News conference: Mission science overview
Wednesday, Feb. 17
1 p.m. – News conference: Mission landing update
3 p.m. – News conference: Searching for Ancient Life at Mars and in Samples Returned to Earth
Thursday, Feb. 18
2:15 p.m. – Live landing Broadcast on the NASA TV Public Channel and online.
- In addition, an uninterrupted clean feed of cameras from inside JPL Mission Control, with mission audio only, will be available starting at 2 p.m. on the NASA TV Media Channel, and at JPL’s Raw YouTube channel.
A 360-degree livestream of the Mars landing from inside mission control, including landing commentary, will be available at the JPL’s main YouTube channel.
2:30 p.m. – “Juntos perseveramos,” the Spanish-language live landing commentary show, will air on NASA en Español’s YouTube channel.
Approximately 3:55 p.m. – Expected Perseverance touchdown on Mars
No earlier than 5:30 p.m. – Postlanding news conference
Friday, Feb. 19
1 p.m. – News conference: Mission status update
Monday, Feb. 22
2 p.m. – News conference: Mission status update
To watch news conferences and commentary online, please visit:
A complete list of ways to watch online can be found at:
So you can follow the progress online via NASA. But remember, the US isn't the only player in space. Samantha Jagger (BBC NEWS) reports:
Many are anticipating the touchdown of Nasa's Perseverance rover - the most sophisticated vehicle ever sent to land on a planet - on 18 February.
However, the Red Planet is already being closely observed.
Since its launch in 2016 and its subsequent orbit insertion around Mars, an instrument named the Colour and Stereo Surface Imaging System (CaSSIS) has been used to enhance scientists' knowledge of the planet's surface.
The camera is travelling with the European Space Agency's (Esa) Exomars Trace Gas Orbiter, which is studying methane and other rare gases in the Martian atmosphere.
The technical goal of CaSSIS is to look at potential landing sites for future missions - one being Esa's Exomars mission that is due to launch in 2022.
The rover Curiosity is already up on Mars and has been making discoveries for years. Here's a Tweet from Curiosity's account:
"Iraq snapshot" (THE COMMON ILLS):
Friday, February 12, 2021. Ay-yi-yi, so much to cover -- the press, Julian Assange, Joe Biden's imitating Donald Trump and so much more.
Starting in the US where the persecution of Julian Assange continues.
Jimmy Dore and Max Blumenthal discuss how Joe Biden continues to demand that Julian be handed over to the United States. Jimmy notes, from REUTERS, "The US government will continue to challenge a British judge's ruling last month that Assagne should not be extradited to the United States," Jimmy notes. Monday April 5th, WikiLeaks released US military video of an assault in Iraq. 12 people were killed in the assault including two REUTERS journalists Namie Noor-Eldeen and Saeed Chmagh. As Isaiah noted in his 2010 THE WORLD TODAY JUST NUTS' "No Lasting Consequences," a cabinet official apparently gave the Barack Obama administration's response: "Appearing on ABC's This Week today, US Secretary of Defense Robert Gates weighed in on the July 12, 2007 assault in Baghdad in which 12 Iraqis were killed by US forces, 'But by the same token, I think-think is should not have any lasting consequences'."
And it hasn't had any lasting consequences -- no punishment for the officials responsible. In fact, no responsibility at all. But Julian Assange reporting -- reporting -- on it demands 'accountability'? This is about silencing the media, this is about the government covering up reality because reality does not make them look good.
Dean Yates was the head of REUTERS' Baghdad beureau when the July 12, 2007 attack took place killing REUTERS journalists Namir Noor-Eldeen and Saeed Chmagh -- the attack carried out by the US government. Daley quotes Yates stating, "What he did was 100% an act of truth-telling, exposing to the world what the war in Iraq looks like and how the US military lied … The US knows how embarrassing Collateral Murder is, how shameful it is to the military – they know that there’s potential war crimes on that tape." Last year, Paul Daley (GUARDIAN) spoke with Dean Yates:
Reuters staff had by now spoken to 14 witnesses in al-Amin. All of them said they were unaware of any firefight that might have prompted the helicopter strike.
Yates recalls: “The words that kept forming on my lips were ‘cold-blooded murder’.”
The Iraqi staff at Reuters, meanwhile, were concerned that the bureau was too soft on the US military. “But I could only write what we could establish and the US military was insisting Saeed and Namir were killed during a clash,” Yates says.
The meeting that put him on a path of destructive, paralysing – eventually suicidal – guilt and blame “that basically f**ked me up for the next 10 years”, leaving him in a state of “moral injury”, happened at US military headquarters in the Green Zone on 25 July.
Yesterday afternoon, Amnesty International issued the following:
Ahead of tomorrow’s deadline for the US to submit their appeal against the UK decision not to extradite Julian Assange, Amnesty International USA have added their voice to a letter sent to the US Department of Justice calling on President Biden to drop charges against the Wikileaks founder. The letter states:
“We, the undersigned press freedom, civil liberties, and international human rights advocacy organizations, write today to share our profound concern about the ongoing criminal and extradition proceedings relating to Julian Assange, the founder of Wikileaks, under the Espionage Act and the Computer Fraud and Abuse Act.
The indictment of Julian Assange threatens press freedom because much of the conduct described in the indictment is conduct that journalists engage in routinely
While our organizations have different perspectives on Mr Assange and his organization, we share the view that the government’s indictment of him poses a grave threat to press freedom both in the United States and abroad. We urge you to drop the appeal of the decision by Judge Vanessa Baraitser of the Westminster Magistrates’ Court to reject the Trump administration’s extradition request.
We also urge you to dismiss the underlying indictment. The indictment of Mr Assange threatens press freedom because much of the conduct described in the indictment is conduct that journalists engage in routinely—and that they must engage in in order to do the work the public needs them to do. Journalists at major news publications regularly speak with sources, ask for clarification or more documentation, and receive and publish documents the government considers secret. In our view, such a precedent in this case could effectively criminalize these common journalistic practices. In addition, some of the charges included in the indictment turn entirely on Mr Assange’s decision to publish classified information.
News organizations frequently and necessarily publish classified information in order to inform the public of matters of profound public significance. We appreciate that the government has a legitimate interest in protecting bona fide national security interests, but the proceedings against Mr Assange jeopardize journalism that is crucial to democracy.
The Trump administration positioned itself as an antagonist to the institution of a free and unfettered press in numerous ways. Its abuse of its prosecutorial powers was among the most disturbing. We are deeply concerned about the way that a precedent created by prosecuting Assange could be leveraged—perhaps by a future administration — against publishers and journalists of all stripes.
Major news organizations share this concern, which is why the announcement of charges against Assange in May 2019 was met with vociferous and nearly universal condemnation from virtually every major American news outlet, even though many of those news outlets have criticized Mr Assange in the past.
We appreciate that the government has a legitimate interest in protecting bona fide national security interests, but the proceedings against Julian Assange jeopardize journalism that is crucial to democracy
It is our understanding that senior officials in the Obama administration shared this concern as well. Former Department of Justice spokesperson Matthew Miller told the Washington Post in 2013, “The problem the department has always had in investigating Julian Assange is there is no way to prosecute him for publishing information without the same theory being applied to journalists.”
It was reportedly the press freedom implications of any prosecution of Mr Assange that led Attorney General Eric Holder’s Justice Department to decide against indicting him after considering doing so. It is unfortunately the case that press freedom is under threat globally. Now more than ever, it is crucial that we protect a robust and adversarial press — what Judge Murray Gurfein in the Pentagon Papers case memorably called a “cantankerous press, an obstinate press, a ubiquitous press” in the United States and abroad. With this end in mind, we respectfully urge you to forgo the appeal of Judge Baraitser’s ruling, and to dismiss the indictment of Mr Assange.
Access Now American Civil Liberties Union, Amnesty International USA, Center for Constitutional Rights Committee to Protect Journalists, Defending Rights and Dissent, Demand Progress, Electronic Frontier Foundation Fight for the Future, First Amendment Coalition, Free Press ,Freedom of the Press Foundation, Human Rights Watch, Index on Censorship, Knight First Amendment Institute at Columbia University, National Coalition Against Censorship, Open The Government Partnership for Civil Justice Fund, PEN, America Project on Government Oversight, Reporters Without Borders, Roots Action, The Press Freedom Defense Fund of First Look Institute, Whistleblower & Source Protection Program (WHISPeR) at ExposeFacts.
For more information or to arrange an interview contact: firstname.lastname@example.org +44 2030365599
Most are reporting without offering any context. One exception? Kevin Reed (WSWS) notes, "It is also possible to go back further and review what Biden said about Assange more than ten years ago after WikiLeaks had published the diplomatic cables and when he was Vice President during the Obama administration. When asked about the WikiLeaks exposures on NBC’s Meet the Press on December 19, 2010, Biden called Assange a 'high-tech terrorist' and furthered the unproven claim that 'this guy has done things that have damaged and put in jeopardy the lives and occupations of people in other parts of the world'."
Joe mangles the English language repeatedly; however, I think he meant what he said when he declared that Julian "put in jeopardy the lives and occupations of people in other parts of the world." Julian's reporting did cause a huge reaction and even US media began reporting on Iraqi anger (which existed towards the US occupation for years before the WIKILEAKS release). The release did put in jeopardy US "occupations of people in other parts of the world." That was Joe's concern. The US government continues to occupy Iraq, for example. Joe Biden is very much pro-occupation and that was evident when he spoke to Iraqi leaders in late 2010, selling The Erbil Agreement (a US brokered deal that overturned the votes of the Iraqi people) as he spoke of Ireland.
Around the 15 minute mark in the SHADOW PROOF video below, Kevin Gosztola talks about press freedoms and, at the 30 mark, Kevin discusses Julian specifically.
Yesterday's snapshot had an update two hours after it went up. I thought I had wrongly attacked JACOBIN for their repost of an IN THESE TIMES article with a milder headline. So I apologized and planned to move on. Then at 4:00 pm Pacific Time, after much prompting from Elaine, I read the snapshot again. The headlines for the IN THESE TIMES and JACOBIN articles had been swapped. That is fixed. The apology and retraction were then retracted -- as noted. JACOBIN was wrong, as I stated and they did need to be called out.
Reality: More people read headlines than ever read an article. That's just a given. At IN THESE TIMES, "Biden Says He’s Ending the Yemen War—But It's Too Soon to Celebrate" while at JACOBIN they headlined it "Antiwar Activists Have Scored an Apparent Victory on Yemen. It’s Time to Keep Pushing." "It's time to keep pushing."
Not only do people read more headlines than read articles, a headline like that says, "You busy, don't worry, we won!!!!" No one won -- occupation won, murder won, but no one else did.
We're all pressed for time and a dishonest headline like JACOBIN resorted to dismisses concerns and pretends that we're on the right road. We're nowhere near the right road. We're miles and interstates away.
As Shawgi Tell (DISSIDENT VOICE) points out, the press traffics in disinformation:
A key feature of disinformation is that it robs people of an outlook, not just ideas and views, but a coherent world outlook that enables and empowers them to make sense of the world, figure out what is going, avoid illusions, and take actions that favor the public interest and restrict the unjust claims of owners of capital.
Joe Biden’s Economic Dream Team
Such disinformation is evident in a January 6, 2021, BBC News article titled: “Joe Biden: The team he hopes can fix the US economy.”
How exactly will the rich and their political representatives fix their obsolete economic system? Why wasn’t the broken economy fixed long ago? Why are inequality, poverty, unemployment, under-employment, debt, the labor force participation rate, environmental decay, and other major social problems steadily worsening regardless of which party of the rich is in power? Will there even be a useful analysis of what is actually unfolding and what is needed to serve the general interests of society?
Will Biden’s “team of Ivy League trained economists and lawyers, well-versed in the ways of Washington,” as the BBC News article describes them, bring about prosperity and security for all? Is it possible that such a “team” is exactly what is not needed?
Working people want to know why previous fiscal and monetary policies have not fixed the economy so far? Why does the economy keep lurching from crisis to crisis? Why are stability and security so elusive? Why do so many people have a nagging bad feeling in their stomach about what lies ahead? If previous economic stimulus strategies did not work and failed to avert economic collapse, why will the one currently being proposed by Biden work?
It is known that Biden’s “team of Ivy League trained economists and lawyers, well-versed in the ways of Washington” has experience bailing out large for-profit corporations and serving in one of the two parties of the rich in the past, but how does that help the average American who is confronted with growing inequality, joblessness, endless bills, inadequate healthcare, inflation, debt, anxiety, uncertainty, and insecurity?
The U.S. economy is not failing because someone never assembled a “team of Ivy League trained economists and lawyers, well-versed in the ways of Washington.” A “team of Ivy League trained economists and lawyers, well-versed in the ways of Washington” is actually part of the problem because it should be working people who decide the affairs of the economy, not someone else. Production and distribution of social wealth cannot take place without workers. Shouldn’t workers decide the aim, operation, and direction of the economy? Why are they not even in the picture? As the only source of value, why are workers dismissed so casually?
JACOBIN is offering cheery headlines that are woefully short on reality. If their readers aren't complaining, it may be because their readers don't actually read. Or they don't have many readers at this point. They do have some good writers, but there's far too much whoring going on. The 'resistance' cared so damn much in the last four years, remember? But the same issues they 'cared' about then aren't issues that concern them at all today.
The Biden administration is opening a new child prison along the United States-Mexico border. The center, located in Carrizo Springs, around 100 miles southwest of San Antonio, is being specifically built for unaccompanied migrant children attempting to cross the border and will hold around 700 people when finished, although plans noted it will be expanded if the government deems it necessary.
But corporate media do not see it that way. While the Trump years were filled with stories about “kids in cages” and ICE “concentration camps” along the border, they have instead almost universally referred to the new project as an “overflow facility” to help migrant children, as the following headlines demonstrate:
“Biden administration prepares to open overflow facility for migrant children,” CNN,
“Biden administration to open overflow facility for 700 migrant children,” New York Post,
“Biden administration to house migrant teens at overflow facility in Texas closed under Trump,” USA Today,
“Biden Admin. to Open Migrant Overflow Facility amid Increase in Unaccompanied Minor Apprehensions,” Yahoo! News,
“Biden administration prepares to open overflow facility for migrant children,” CBS.
“Overflow facility” is a distinctly pleasantly sounding term for such an establishment, suggesting links to positively-charged services like swimming pools or libraries. The phrase is a completely new way to refer to prisons; a news search for “overflow facility” pre-January 2021 brings up only stories about COVID overflow clinics or emergency sewage treatment works.
The phrase “concentration camp” to describe the structure was completely absent. Searching for “Biden concentration camp” into news databases is more likely to generate stories about the plight of Uyghurs in Western China rather than domestic affairs.
It should also come as no surprise because, all things considered, this administration has not been much different from the previous one in terms of actual policy. The policy of regime change interventionism in Venezuela is the same. The policy of hawkishness toward China is the same. The policy of starvation sanctions against Iran is effectively the same. In a recent CNN interview Secretary of State Tony Blinken could not speak highly enough of Trump’s more incendiary foreign policy decisions like moving the US embassy to Jerusalem and recognizing the illegally occupied Golan Heights as Israeli territory.
There are far, far more similarities between the Trump administration and the Biden administration than there are differences. As is consistently the case with US presidents, the narratives are different, the campaign platforms are different, the political parties are different, but the actual policies and behaviors remain more or less the same.
In the second half of the video below, Jack Hewson (FRANCE 24) reports on Iraq's Yazidi population.
Meanwhile Simona Foltyn (ALJAZEERA) reports:
Dhoha Sabah had been married for eighteen years when her husband first laid a hand on her. Crowded into a modest, single-room home in Baghdad’s Sadr City neighbourhood, the couple had always struggled to put food on the table for their four children.
But then the coronavirus pandemic struck, sending Iraq’s oil-dependent economy into a downward spiral and putting many out of work.
“We don’t have an income. The kids need to go to school, and I cannot afford it. Whenever I talk to him about this issue, he beats me and the kids,” Sabah told Al Jazeera. On at least one occasion, Sabah had to seek medical care because of her husband’s physical abuse.
Police say domestic violence has increased in Iraq by about 20 percent since the onset of the pandemic, which has pushed millions of Iraqis below the poverty line. Poor neighbourhoods like Sadr City have been most affected by mounting economic and psychological pressures.
The rise in domestic violence has highlighted the limited legal and financial support available for victims in Iraq, who often find themselves trapped in abusive households due to conservative social norms that consider it shameful for women to leave or seek justice.
On Iraq reporting, PBS aired a documentary ("Iraq Assassins") on FRONTLINE this week. For a third time this week, we'll note it.
It was a major report. Supposed 'journalist' Andrea Mitchell had nothing to say about this but she did have time to slam someone for getting Shakespeare wrong -- when they got it right. Andrea was never a reporter. She was always Alan Greenspan's wife -- since 1997, she rode that pony to town daily. These days, she doesn't even bother to pretend. But how could she after that embarrassing cameo on 30 ROCK that found her calling a woman a "slut." What a proud moment for Andrea.
And my criticism above is not that she was wrong -- I wouldn't have known the source -- not a fan of Faulkner or Shakespeare. It's that the issue was so trivial and she's wasting time on that. If you're going to follow the nonsense on display, follow it from a legal point of view -- as Jonathan Turley does -- not from a gossipy, E! point of view. Andrea makes herself a joke repeatedly.
Lastly, where is Joe Biden's Green New Deal? What's his solar plan? From the government of Iraq:
The following sites updated: