Wednesday, 26 April 2017

NASA's Cassini spacecraft flies between Saturn and its rings!

 NASA's Cassini spacecraft has plunged into the narrow gap between Saturn and its rings on Wednesday, April 26, 2017. It is the first of the spaceship's 22 deep dives between Saturn and its innermost ring.
The spacecraft was out of radio contact with Earth on Wednesday because its big dish antenna was maneuvered face forward to protect science instruments from potentially damaging ring particles.
If Cassini survives the trip, it could make radio contact with Earth as early as 3:05 am (12:35 pm IST) on April 27. The spacecraft will also make 21 more crossings before its demise in September.
Cassini spacecrfat is a joint mission of NASA, the European Space Agency and the Italian Space Agency.
The 22-foot-tall (6.7 meter) spacecraft launched in 1997 and began orbiting Saturn in 2004.
Cassini is running low on fuel, and will make a death plunge into Saturn's surface on September 15.
The decision to end the mission was made in 2010, to avoid damaging moons like Enceladus, which could be explored for signs of life in the future.

US missile defence equipment reaches South Korea site amid heightened tensions over North's nuclear ambitions

US troops began delivering a missile defence system that has infuriated China to a deployment site in South Korea Wednesday, amid heightened tensions over the North`s nuclear ambitions.
Washington is urging Beijing -- Pyongyang`s sole major ally -- to do more to rein it in, but the Asian giant has reacted with fury to the planned installation of the Terminal High Altitude Area Defense (THAAD) system.
The US and ally South Korea say its deployment, agreed last year, is intended to guard against missile threats from the nuclear-armed North.
But China fears it will weaken its own ballistic capabilities and says it upsets the regional security balance. 

TV footage showed large trailers in camouflage paint carrying what appeared to be missile-related equipment entering a former golf course in the southern county of Seongju on Wednesday morning.
THAAD "will be operational in the coming days and able to better defend South Korea against the growing North Korean threat," Admiral Harry Harris, who heads Pacific Command, told lawmakers in Washington.
Hundreds of residents -- who are concerned over the potential environmental impact -- protested angrily, some clashing with police. More than 10 were injured including three who were hospitalised, activists said.
Seoul`s defence ministry said Wednesday`s move was aimed at "securing operational capability of the THAAD as soon as possible", with a goal of fully installing the batteries by the end of this year.
The South is holding a presidential election next month to choose a successor to ousted leader Park Geun-Hye, and Seoul and Washington are pressing ahead with the deployment with some candidates ambivalent over the system -- including front-runner Moon Jae-In, of the left-leaning Democratic Party.
His spokesman Park Kwang-On expressed "strong regret" at the delivery, saying it ignored "required procedures".
"This move has shut off any room for policy considerations by the next government and it is very improper," he said.
Beijing condemned the move, with foreign ministry spokesman Geng Shuang telling reporters the THAAD deployment "severely undermines China`s strategic security interests". 
"It helps in no way to achieve the denuclearisation of the peninsula and regional peace and stability," he said, adding China would "take necessary measures to safeguard its own interests".
Beijing has imposed a host of measures seen as economic retaliation against the South, including a ban on tour groups.
Retail conglomerate Lotte, which previously owned the golf course, has also been targeted, with 85 of its 99 stores in China shut down, while South Korea`s biggest automaker Hyundai Motor said Wednesday its Chinese sales fell 44 percent last month.THAAD is designed to intercept and destroy short and medium-range ballistic missiles during their final phase of flight.
The latest move comes as tension soars on the Korean peninsula following a series of missile launches by the North and warnings from the administration of US President Donald Trump that military action was an "option on the table".
Washington has deployed an aircraft carrier strike group to the peninsula in a show of force, amid signs the North could be preparing for a sixth nuclear test. 
In Pyongyang`s latest display, leader Kim Jong-Un oversaw the country`s largest-ever firing drill to mark the founding anniversary of its military, state-run media said Wednesday. 
The drill saw more than 300 large-calibre self-propelled guns firing simultaneously and torpedo attacks by submarines, state-run KCNA said, demonstrating North Korea`s determination to pour a "merciless rain of fire on the reckless imperialist US and its dirty followers".
Seoul held a large annual drill of its own Wednesday, involving some 100 artillery pieces, 90 armoured vehicles and 50 aircraft, as well as 2,000 South Korean and US troops, the defence ministry said.
Speaking in Berlin, China`s Foreign Minister Wang Yi urged an end to US-South Korean military manoeuvres to calm tensions on the peninsula.
The US has long pushed for China to make more efforts to curb Pyongyang`s behaviour.
But Beijing says it has less sway over its wayward neighbour than Washington believes.
Chinese President Xi Jinping called Monday for "restraint" regarding North Korea in a telephone conversation with Trump.
US defence leaders and other top officials are to give a classified briefing on North Korea to all senators in an unusual meeting at the White House later Wednesday.

Village on the moon – China in talks with European Space Agency

Human settlement on moon could soon be a possibility.
China is in talks with the European Space Agency (ESA) about making a village on the moon and the idea could soon materialize.
As per a report published in The Washington Post, the secretary general for China’s space agency, Tian Yulong, disclosed this to a Chinese state media.
The report further mentions that ESA has described its “Moon Village” as a potential international launching pad for future missions to Mars.
China has ramped up its space program since its first manned spaceflight in 2003, more than 42 years after a Soviet cosmonaut became the first to reach orbit.
China this month launched an unmanned spacecraft on a mission to dock with its currently unoccupied space station. It plans to launch the first mission to the far side of the moon next year.

Dad Builds an Awesome Home Swing Set (11 pics)

Dad Builds an Awesome Home Swing Set as a Surprise for His Daughter

Man Refuses To Accept He’s No Longer Black After DNA Test Results

A man refused to accept the results of his ancestry DNA test after it revealed he wasn’t black, according to a New York Times piece last week.
Two professors from West Chester University decided to do an in-depth analysis into various people’s ancestries and backgrounds. First they asked participants to guess the results. One of their participants, Bernard, came away very displeased when the test revealed he was mainly European and not at all black.
Bernard walked into the test identifying himself as “black.” He informed the professors ahead of time that despite having a white mother, his mother raised him to identify as a black man.
“My mother said, ‘I know you are me, but no cop is going to take the time to find out your mother is white,'” Bernard explained before the test. “She was very specific about raising me as a black man.”
Bernard’s test, however, revealed that he is only one percent African/Asian. Over 90 percent of his ancestry is European, while he is five percent Middle Eastern and two percent Hispanic.
Bernard completely rejected the results of the test, saying they caused problems in his family.
“I know my nose is sharp and my skin is light, but my politics are as black as night. Today, I don’t identify as mixed,” Bernard said, according to The NYT. “I reject my white privilege in a racist America. There is no way that I or my kids will identify as anything other than black.”
Other black people have also had trouble accepting their white ancestry. A black Huffington Post writer was shocked after a DNA ancestry test revealed she was almost 32% white. The discovery, she wrote, left her disoriented and ashamed.

“As inappropriate (but honest) as it sounds, I’d discovered I had the so-called ‘superior’ race running through my veins, and never before had I felt so inferior,” she wrote.

College dispenses morning-after pill in vending machine

In a quiet study lounge at the University of California, Davis, back in the corner just past the coffee cups, you’ll find contraception for sale in a vending machine.
If you look closely, the machine isn’t just stocked with condoms and pregnancy tests. It’s selling the morning-after pill. It dispenses the Plan B pill for $30 a box.
It’s known as the Wellness-To-Go machine, and it’s drawing more praise than criticism on campus, CBS Sacramento reports.
“I think it’s easier to take a Plan B than have to tell your parents you’re pregnant,” said one student.
“It’s useful so you don’t have to go the pharmacy,” her friend said.
That’s exactly why economics major Parteek Singh turned his focus to public health, spending close to two years trying to bring the vending machine into being.
“There was an incident where my friends went to the one pharmacy in town on a Friday night and they were all out of emergency contraception,” Singh told the station.
Singh is suddenly very popular on the UC Davis campus, and at others across the country. He’s taking calls from students everywhere asking him to help bring the wellness machine to their schools.
“I want to see this on every college campus,” he said.
Some moms are weighing in and showing support, as well.
“It encourages responsibility; if you mess up you mess up. It’s better than waiting and see if you get pregnant and having an abortion,” said Stephanie Richardson.
Asked whether the school has a public position on the vending machine in the UC system, a spokeswoman had no response. The spokeswoman did emphasize that the school senate worked with administration and health care officials in implementing the program.

Things Are So Bad In Venezuela That People Are Walking To Brazil For Medicine (5 Pics)

The humanitarian crisis in Venezuela, marked by over a year of shortages, is so bad that people are walking over the border into Brazil to get the food and medicines they need.

 A new Human Rights Watch report based on interviews conducted with 60 Venezuelans in February shows how the country's worsening humanitarian crisis has spilled over the Brazilian border.

The interviewees said they left Venezuela because they lacked the means to buy food and medicine there, and because of the country's growing crime rate.

Venezuelan Geraldine Dhil, 32, walked 125 miles to the Brazilian city of Boa Vista, hoping to find a job there so she can buy medicine for her 13-year-old daughter, who has cancer.

Barbara Rosales, 21, was six months pregnant when she went to a Venezuelan hospital in Santa Elena de Uairén.

 The hospital didn't have the medicine needed to treat her complications, so it had Rosales driven over the border with a nurse.

She gave birth in the Brazilian state of Roraima, where her baby, born weighing just 1 kilogram (2.2 pounds), had to spend a month in intensive care.

According to one Brazilian official, the Roraima state health system is collapsing under the weight of serving Venezuelans in need of care.

 At the hospital in Pacaraima, a tiny border town of 12,000 people, 80% of the patients are from Venezuela.
The state's main Geral de Roraima Hospital treated 1,815 Venezuelans in 2016, more than three times the year before. The hospital sees an average of 300 Venezuelans each month. Health professionals report that Venezuelan patients arrive in much worse condition than Roraima locals, since they haven't received adequate care and medicine in their home country. Some have complications from untreated HIV and AIDS, tuberculosis, malaria, and pneumonia.

In Boa Vista, the capital of Roraima, many Venezuelans live on the streets or in an improvised shelter the authorities set up in a former warehouse. But interviewees said they'd rather take their chances in Brazil than return home.

 Brazil's immigration system has been overwhelmed by an explosion in Venezuelan asylum requests, which shot up from just 54 in 2013 to 2,595 over the first 11 months of 2016.
In Roraima, 4,000 Venezuelans have been waiting months to officially apply for asylum, a step that would give them legal status to stay and work in Brazil while their cases are processed. The Federal Police have provided those on the waitlist with "appointment slips" for dates as far off as 2018, but Human Rights Watch says these documents don't give asylum-seekers permission to work, and it's not clear if they protect them from deportation.

Even for those who've managed to officially file for asylum, rulings are slow. By the end of 2016, Brazil's Ministry of Justice had decided just 89 of the 4,670 Venezuelan asylum applications it received since 2012. It granted asylum in 34.

"We are seeing thousands of Venezuelans fleeing a humanitarian crisis that the Maduro government won't even recognize as a real crisis," César Muñoz, a researcher who worked on the Human Rights Watch report, said.

Venezuelans can apply for two-year residency permits, which provide a more stable form of documentation than the Federal Police's asylum appointment slips, but Muñoz says many are deterred by the R$500 (around US$160) cost of the application.
In the US, Venezuela topped the list of countries for asylum requests in 2016, with 18,155 people seeking refuge, more than six times the number just two years before.

For more on the humanitarian situation for Venezuelans arriving in Brazil, you can watch this video.