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Watch live: SpaceX is about to blow up a rocket in a crucial test to show NASA that its spaceship ready to launch astronauts

Sat, 01/18/2020 - 07:20

Elon Musk's SpaceX is going to make one of its own rocket boosters explode to prove that its Crew Dragon spaceship is ready to send people to space.


Why Russia Doesn't Like (Or Have) Many Aircraft Carriers

Sat, 01/18/2020 - 07:00

Not enough money?


The Hole in the Impeachment Case

Sat, 01/18/2020 - 06:30

Thought experiment No. 1: Suppose Bob Mueller’s probe actually proves that Donald Trump is under Vladimir Putin’s thumb. Fill in the rest of the blanks with your favorite corruption fantasy: The Kremlin has video of the mogul-turned-president debauching himself in a Moscow hotel; the Kremlin has a bulging file of real-estate transfers through which Trump laundered racketeering proceeds for Putin’s favored mobsters and oligarchs; or Trump is recorded cutting a deal to drop Obama-era sanctions against Putin’s regime if Russian spies hack Democratic accounts.Thought experiment No. 2: Adam Schiff is not a demagogue. (Remember, this is fantasy.) At the very first televised hearing, when he alleged that President Trump told Ukrainian president Zelensky, “I want you to make up dirt on my political opponent . . . lots of it,” Schiff was not defrauding the public. Instead, impeachment’s Inspector Clouseau can actually prove that Trump was asking a foreign government to manufacture out of whole cloth evidence that Vice President Biden and his son were cashing in on the former’s political influence (as opposed to asking that Ukraine look into an arrangement so objectively sleazy that the Obama administration itself agitated over what to do about it).What do these two scenarios have in common, besides being fictional? Answer: If either of them were real, we’d already be talking about President Pence’s upcoming State of the Union address.This is the point that gets lost in all the endless chatter over impeachment strategy and procedure. Everything that is happening owes to the fact that we do not have an offense sufficiently grave for invocation of the Constitution’s nuclear option. If we had one, the machinations and the posturing would be unnecessary — even ridiculous.Why are we talking about how Chairman Schiff, Speaker Pelosi, and House Democrats rushed through the impeachment inquiry without making a real effort to interview key witnesses?Why was the Democrats’ impeachment gambit driven by the election calendar rather than the nature of the president’s offense? Why were the timing of hearings and the unreasonable limits imposed on Republicans’ ability to call witnesses dictated by the frantic rush to get done before Christmas recess -- to the point that Democrats cynically vacated a subpoena they’d served on a relevant administration witness, fearing a few weeks of court battles that they might lose?Why did Democrats grope from week to week in a struggle over what to call the misconduct they accused the president of committing – campaign finance, extortion, quid pro quo, bribery? How did they end up with an amorphous “abuse of power” case? How did they conclude that an administration that goes to court rather than instantly surrendering potentially privileged information commits obstruction?Why such tedious recriminations over adoption of Senate procedures that were approved by a 100–0 vote the last time there was an impeachment trial? Why all the kvetching over whether witnesses will be called when those procedures provide for the calling of witnesses in the likely event that 51 senators — after hearing nearly two weeks of presentation and argument from both sides -- want to hear from one or two of them?Why, with Election Day only ten months away, would Speaker Pelosi stoke an impeachment vote that could be perilous for many of her members, on the insistence that Trump was such a clear and present danger she could brook no delay, but then . . . sit on the impeachment articles for a month, accomplishing nothing in the interim except to undermine the presidential bids of several Senate Democrats, who will be trapped in Washington when they should be out campaigning with Iowa’s caucuses just two weeks away?None of this would have happened if there had been a truly impeachable offense.Adam Schiff is a smart guy. He did not idly dream up a “make up dirt” parody. He framed it because he knows that’s the kind of misconduct you would need to prove to warrant impeachment and removal of a president. In fact, Schiff could never prove that, but he figured parody is good enough for 2020 campaign purposes — and that’s what this exercise is all about.If collusion with Russia had been fact rather than farce, Trump would never have made it to an impeachment trial. He’d have had to resign, Prior to November 8, 2016, Republicans were not the ones in need of convincing that Russia was a dangerous geopolitical threat. If it had been real collusion that brought Democrats around to that conclusion, the votes to impeach and remove would have been overwhelming.And the timing would have been irrelevant. If Americans had been seized by a truly impeachable offense, it would not matter whether Election Day was two years, two months, or two weeks away. The public and the political class would not tolerate an agent of the Kremlin in the Oval Office.If there were such egregious misconduct that the public was convinced of the need to remove Trump, such that two-thirds of the Senate would ignore partisan ties and do just that, there would be no partisan stunts. Democratic leaders would have worked cooperatively with their GOP counterparts, as was done in prior impeachments. They would have told the president: “Sure, you can have your lawyers here, and call whatever witnesses you want.” There would be a bipartisan sense that the president had done profound wrong. There would be a sense of history, not contest. Congressional leaders would want to be remembered as statesmen, not apparatchiks.If there were a real impeachable offense, there would be no fretting about witnesses at the trial. Senate leaders would be contemplating that, after hearing the case extensively presented by both sides, there might well be enough votes to convict without witnesses. But if there were an appetite for witnesses, witnesses would be called . . . as they were in Watergate. And just as in Watergate, if the president withheld vital evidence of appalling lawlessness, the public would not be broadly indifferent to administration stonewalling.If there were an obviously impeachable offense, the garrisons of Fort Knox could not have stopped Nancy Pelosi from personally marching impeachment articles into the Senate the second the House had adopted them -- in what would have been an overwhelming bipartisan vote (of the kind that Pelosi, not long ago, said would be imperative for a legitimate impeachment effort).The Framers expected presidents to abuse their powers from time to time. And not just presidents. Our Constitution’s theory of the human condition, and thus of governance, is that power is apt to corrupt anyone. It needs to be divided, and the peer components need to be incentivized to check each other. The operating assumption is that, otherwise, one component would accumulate too much power and inevitably fall prey to the tyrannical temptation. But as Madison observed, men are not angels. Separation of powers arms us against inevitable abuse, it does not prevent abuse from happening. Abuse is a given: Congress uses lawmaking power to encroach on the other branches’ prerogatives; judges legislate from the bench, presidents leverage their awesome powers for political advantage. The expectation is not that government officials will never overreach; it is that when one branch does overreach, the others will bring it into line.That is the norm: corrective action or inaction, political pressure, naming and shaming, power of the purse, and so on. We expect to criticize, inveigh, even censure. We don’t leap from abuse to expulsion. We don’t expect routinely to expel members of Congress or impeach presidents and judges. That is reserved for historically extraordinary wrongs.On Ukraine, nothing of consequence came of President Trump’s bull-in-a-china-shop excesses. Sure, they ought to be a 2020 campaign issue. Democrats, instead, would have us exaggerate them into historically extraordinary wrongs. For that, you need gamesmanship. If there were real impeachable misconduct, there would be no time or place for games.


Taliban aim to sign deal with US by end of month: report

Sat, 01/18/2020 - 03:29

The Taliban are aiming to reach a withdrawal agreement with the US by the end of January and are prepared to "scale down" military operations ahead of signing the deal, according to their chief spokesman. The statement by Suhail Shaheen to Pakistani daily Dawn comes as the group and the US held discussions in Doha this week, after insurgent sources told AFP they had offered to initiate a brief ceasefire. "We have agreed to scale down military operations in days leading up to the signing of the peace agreement with the United States," Shaheen told Dawn in a report published Saturday.


SUV on grounds of Beijing's Forbidden City sparks outrage

Sat, 01/18/2020 - 02:43

A Chinese woman sparked social media outrage in her country by posting photos of herself and a friend with a Mercedes-Benz on the grounds of Beijing's Forbidden City. The reaction prompted an apology from the management of China's 600-year-old former imperial palace. Vehicles have been banned since 2013 to protect the cultural dignity of the vast site and its hundreds of historic buildings, according to the official Xinhua News Agency.


Revealed: The Secrets Behind Russia's Crazy 100-Megaton Nuclear Torpedo

Sat, 01/18/2020 - 00:00

From fiction to reality.


Austria's 'ghetto' language classes stir segregation fears

Fri, 01/17/2020 - 21:38

Every morning Abulrahman leaves his normal primary school lessons in Vienna and joins about 20 other children for three hours to learn to read, write and speak German. Despite conservative Chancellor Sebastian Kurz's new coalition partners, the Greens, having expressed concerns about the controversial policy, it looks set to continue. Kurz has pledged to maintain his anti-immigration reforms -- with junior partner, the Greens, conceding -- including the special classes, which the government argues allow children with weak German skills to learn at their own pace without holding others back.


Trump slams Virginia Democrats for pushing gun safety regulations as suspected white supremacists are arrested for discussing opening fire at a Richmond gun rally

Fri, 01/17/2020 - 18:35

"Your 2nd Amendment is under very serious attack in the Great Commonwealth of Virginia," the president tweeted on Friday evening.


Inside India's Large and Deadly Nuclear Weapons Program

Fri, 01/17/2020 - 18:30

All you want to know.


How to restart and fix Windows Explorer on your computer in 3 simple steps

Fri, 01/17/2020 - 18:29

You can restart your Windows Explorer browser on your computer in three steps, and possibly solve any performance issues. Here's how.


How Trump's impeachment differs from a criminal trial

Fri, 01/17/2020 - 17:37

Yes, it's a trial — but the Senate's impeachment proceedings against President Donald Trump won't resemble anything Americans have seen on Court TV. In Trump's trial, the Senate will serve as both judge and jury. COURTROOM TRIAL: Federal trials, both civil and criminal, are presided over by District Court judges who are nominated by the president and confirmed by the Senate.


Johnson Plans Muted Brexit Celebrations After Big Ben Backdown

Fri, 01/17/2020 - 17:30

(Bloomberg) -- U.K. Prime Minister Boris Johnson backed away from crowdfunding for the ringing of Big Ben to mark the U.K.’s departure from the European Union on Jan. 31, opting instead for muted commemorations his office said would seek to “heal divisions and re-unite communities.”Johnson will take his cabinet for a meeting in the north of England on the day and government buildings will be lit up, his office said in an email.The statement made no mention of ringing the bell, in a clock tower over the Houses of Parliament in London, just four days after Johnson encouraged people to give money toward it -- even though there was no plan in place.Members of the public have already given more than 225,000 pounds ($293,000) toward the 500,000-pound cost of pausing urgent repair work and installing a temporary floor and equipment to enable the bell to ring.The House of Commons authorities said they have no mechanism for accepting the money and that preparations to ring the bell would delay vital refurbishment. That intervention sparked fury from Brexiteers, who accused bureaucrats of plotting to spoil their celebrations.Johnson’s office, which has spent the week trying to cover up the prime minister’s blunder, appeared to accept that the bell won’t ring, saying instead that a clock will be projected onto the walls of the prime minister’s office in Downing Street as the country counts down to Brexit at 11 p.m on Jan. 31.To contact the reporter on this story: Thomas Penny in London at tpenny@bloomberg.netTo contact the editors responsible for this story: Tim Ross at tross54@bloomberg.net, Stuart BiggsFor more articles like this, please visit us at bloomberg.comSubscribe now to stay ahead with the most trusted business news source.©2020 Bloomberg L.P.


A 'naked philanthropist' who says she raised $1 million for Australia's fires is now sending nudes to people who donate to Puerto Rico

Fri, 01/17/2020 - 17:06

Kaylen Ward says she raised $1 million for Australia, sending nudes to people who donated. Now she is doing the same, raising money for Puerto Rico.


Trump administration to roll back school lunch regulations on fruits and vegetables

Fri, 01/17/2020 - 16:30

The USDA announced they plan to roll back school lunch regulations championed by Michelle Obama to allow schools "more flexibility" in what they serve because “because they know their children best.”


Supreme Court will hear case that could decide future presidential elections

Fri, 01/17/2020 - 16:17

Must the 538 members of the Electoral College vote for their states' winning candidates, or can they exercise independent judgment?


US dumps huge amounts of sand on Miami Beach to tackle climate change erosion

Fri, 01/17/2020 - 16:14

Dozens of trucks have started dumping hundreds of thousands of tons of sand on Miami Beach as part of US government measures to protect Florida's tourist destinations against the effects of climate change. "We have erosion hotspots," said Stephen Leatherman, an expert on beaches and the environment at Florida International University. Leatherman -- known locally as "Dr Beach" -- said that rising sea levels, triggered by climate change, are causing the accelerated erosion of the famous beach, as well as coastal storms and in particular hurricanes.


A 15-year-old orphan who lives with his grandparents is being kicked out of their senior living community because he's too young

Fri, 01/17/2020 - 15:51

Collin Clabaugh has been living with his grandparents in a 55-and-over gated community in Arizona since last year, when both of his parents died.


Was the Taal Volcano eruption large enough to influence the climate?

Fri, 01/17/2020 - 14:56

The Taal volcano roared to life last weekend for the first time in more than 40 years, sending a massive plume of volcanic ash towering over the Philippines.This was the first time that Taal has erupted since 1977, an event that marked the end of an active period for the volcano that had begun in 1965. Taal did show signs of unrest periodically throughout the 1990s, but it did not erupt during that period, according to the Philippine Institute of Volcanology and Seismology.The eruption, which began on Jan. 12, 2020, has forced more than 125,000 people to evacuate the Philippine province of Batangas, where the volcano is located. A state of calamity has been declared for the zone surrounding the volcano, according to The Associated Press. People watch as Taal Volcano erupts Sunday Jan. 12, 2020, in Tagaytay, Cavite province, outside Manila, Philippines (AP Photo/Aaron Favila) During the height of the eruption, a large plume of searing hot volcanic ash blossomed approximately 50,000 feet, about 9.5 miles, into the atmosphere, with some materials making it into the stratosphere, according to observations from NASA. The eruption was accompanied by incredible displays of volcanic lightning, which made for breathtaking video footage, fountains of scalding lava and more than 400 earthquakes.The aftermath of the eruption had the country's president, Rodrigo Duterte, using no uncertain terms to describe the impact on the surrounding communities."It is now a no man's land," Duterte declared, according to Al Jazeera. "It's like heaven and earth fell on it."The fallout downwind of the eruption has blanketed areas dozens of miles away from the volcano itself, including Metro Manila, located about 101 km (63 miles) north of the eruption."Ash fallout to the ground can pose significant disruption and damage to buildings, transportation, water and wastewater, power supply, communications equipment, agriculture, and primary production leading to potentially substantial societal impacts and costs, even at thicknesses of only a few millimeters or inches," the USGS explains on its volcano hazards website. "Additionally, fine-grained ash, when ingested can cause health impacts to humans and animals. "The deteriorating air quality due to the ash has caused at least six people to be sent to a hospital in Tagaytay City in Cavite due to respiratory ailments, The Associated Press reported. One death has also been reported after a vehicle crashed on a slippery, ash-covered road.The abundance of ash in the atmosphere surrounding Taal snarled air traffic, causing more than 600 flights across the region to be canceled. If the fine volcanic ash enters the engines of an airplane, it can have disastrous results, endangering the lives of all those aboard the flight."Volcanoes do affect the weather, and some major ones affect the climate if you define climate as anything beyond a year or two," Dr. Joel Myers, Founder, President and Chairman of AccuWeather, said.In extremely powerful volcanic eruptions, the ash and aerosols released in the eruption can pass through the troposphere, the lowest layer of Earth's atmosphere, and penetrate into the stratosphere, the second layer of the atmosphere. If enough of the ash and other pollutants released in the eruption make it into the stratosphere, they can influence the climate around the globe. The boundary between the troposphere and stratosphere is about 6 miles (10 km) above the ground, a little higher than where commercial jets typically fly."The most significant climate impacts from volcanic injections into the stratosphere come from the conversion of sulfur dioxide to sulfuric acid, which condenses rapidly in the stratosphere to form fine sulfate aerosols," the USGS explained.These aerosols high in the atmosphere reflect light from the sun back into space, resulting in a cooling effect in Earth's lower atmosphere."There is no question that very large volcanic eruptions can inject significant amounts of carbon dioxide into the atmosphere," scientists at the USGS say, but they also note that "the carbon dioxide released in contemporary volcanic eruptions has never caused detectable global warming of the atmosphere."Significant volcanic eruptions in the tropics can also have more of an influence on the global climate than those closer to the poles."Because of atmospheric circulation patterns, eruptions in the tropics can have an effect on the climate in both hemispheres while eruptions at mid or high latitudes only have an impact the hemisphere they are within," the University Corporation for Atmospheric Research explained. The time-series animation above shows the growth and spread of the volcanic plume from January 12-13, as observed by Japan's Himawari-8 satellite. (NOAA) The most powerful volcanic eruption in recorded history directly influenced temperatures around the globe for years and was responsible for what became known as the ‘Year Without a Summer.'"One of the most dramatic examples" of this phenomenon over the last few 100 years was the eruption of Mount Tambora in 1815, Myers said. That eruption "caused a few years of cold weather, some of it extraordinary," he explained. "This includes 1816, the Year Without a Summer, when frost occurred in New England in every month of the year - affecting crops and on one July day when snow flurries were reported in Long Island Sound."AccuWeather Senior Meteorologist Dan Kottlowski said that scientists are also unsure that the Tambora eruption was the sole factor behind the Year Without a Summer. Kottlowski, who is also AccuWeather's chief hurricane expert, said, "There are potentially other factors that couldn't be measured at the time or weren't understood at the time that could've been contributing factors to the unusual weather in the Northeast that year. "A more recent example of a volcano having a direct correlation with a decrease in the global temperature took place in the early 1990s following the cataclysmic eruption of Mount Pinatubo in the Philippines.The eruption of Mount Pinatubo was more powerful than that of Mount St. Helens, sending an enormous plume of volcanic ash and aerosols as high as 28 miles (40 km)."Nearly 20 million tons of sulfur dioxide were injected into the stratosphere in Pinatubo's 1991 eruptions, and dispersal of this gas cloud around the world caused global temperatures to drop temporarily (1991 through 1993) by about 1°F (0.5°C)," according to the USGS.Pinatubo's eruption was orders of magnitude larger than that of Taal's eruption earlier this year, so any impacts on the global climate through the balance of 2020 and into 2021 from the eruption are likely to be minimal or negligible.However, if the early January eruption of Taal is followed up by a series of larger eruptions that disperse large quantities of aerosols into the stratosphere, then the probability of the volcano influencing the global climate would increase.Taal has spewed smaller ash and steam explosions throughout the week, and as of Friday, it was still under alert for a hazardous eruption, The Associated Press reported. Officials have warned that "life-threatening" subsequent eruptions remain a real possibility.


Trump threatened 25% tariffs on European cars if Britain, Germany and France didn't put Iran on notice

Fri, 01/17/2020 - 14:31

The Trump administration warned European officials in three countries that if they didn't put Iran on notice about nuclear deal violations, the US government would slap a 25% tariff on all European cars.


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