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By Jonathan Kaminsky
NEW ORLEANS, La., Aug 31 (Reuters) – A federal judge on Sunday temporarily blocked a Louisiana law that advocates say would likely have closed of all five abortion clinics in the state.
The United States faces the possibility of greater involvement in two wars: one with Russia and one with the Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant (ISIL, aka the Islamic State. One is a throwback to nationalist wars of the past. The other is a worrying harbinger of the future. But for Ukraine the future is now.
The Russian invasion and undermining of Ukraine continues as do the absurd denials by Russian President Vladimir Putin. . The latest front around the port city of Mariupolin southeast Ukraine appears aimed at opening a land corridor to the previously seized Crimea. It could also presage a push to extend the land corridor to Transnistria, the ethnic Russian part of Moldova. This would cut off Ukraine from the Black Sea and leave it a land-locked rump state. The rebels and their Russian supporters deem this the “Novouisiya” or New Russia and Putin continues to deny Russian involvement while saying a new state must be part of any negotiated settlement.
Its college football season hadn’t even started yet when Eastern Michigan hit a wall. Over and over.
The Eagles entered the field before their season opener on Saturday by sledgehammering a concrete brick wall.
Super-bright galaxies powered by black holes have helped astronomers come up with the most accurate distance yet to the iconic Pleiades star cluster.
The measurement, which used quasars as bright and consistent relative-distance markers, charted the famous “Seven Sisters” star cluster at 136.2 parsecs, or 444 light-years, away from Earth.
Lead researcher Carl Melis first took on the project five years ago while still in graduate school at the University of California, Los Angeles, after meeting with John Stauffer (a co-author on the paper). Melis recalled being astounded to learn there was a dispute over how far away the Pleiades are from Earth. [Planets Sneak Up on Pleiades Star Cluster (Video)]
“Here’s this canonical cluster — everyone knows the Pleiades, even the layperson — and we don’t even know how far away it is,” Melis, who is now an astrophysicist at the University of California, San Diego, told Space.com.
Visual vs. radio measurements
When astronomers estimate stellar distances for objects that are relatively close to Earth, they use a method called parallax. Simply speaking, measurements of a star’s position relative to other stars are taken when Earth is at either side of its yearlong orbit. By measuring the change in position, astronomers can estimate the distance by simple geometry.
Scientists have known of this technique since the 1800s, but it has limitations. The biggest one is that other stars also move, which makes it difficult to come up with precise measurements.
So, instead of relying on this method, Melis’ team used radio measurements to perform the work, which opened up a more reliable distance beacon: quasars, amazingly bright galactic cores powered by supermassive black holes. Quasars, which shine clearly in the spectrum of radio waves, are extremely far away — so far away that their relative motion hasn’t yet been measured, Melis said.
“The beauty of this technique, as I watch my star and make measurements, is any change is entirely due to my star. The quasar just sits there. That’s the difference between optical and radio techniques,” Melis said.
The researchers used the Very Long Baseline Array, a network of 10 telescopes spread thousands of miles apart here on Earth, and several other radio dishes to perform the measurements. For two years, once a week, a distance measurement was taken of four Pleiades star systems, and five stars.
Along the way, researchers made a discovery: Two of those stars are a binary system, something that was suspected but had not been verified. Measurements made at the Keck Observatory in Hawaii confirmed the binary, Melis said.
Astronomers use a technique called parallax to precisely measure to distance to stars in the sky.
Resolving a controversy?
Melis said his team’s work resolves a decades-long controversy concerning just how far away the Pleiades are. Conventional parallax pegged the distance at 133.5 parsecs, or 435 light-years, while Europe’s Hipparcos satellite returned a result of 120.2 parsecs (392 light-years).
Hipparcos still measured stars relative to other stars, but the sheer number of stars it used far eclipsed other measurements, Melis said. The satellite modeled the movements of about 120,000 stars, and in most cases, is considered highly accurate. Other measurements tend to use only up to 1,000 stars, he said.
“Hipparcos has been a huge success and revolutionized our understanding of stellar astrophysics, but apparently something went wrong [with this measurement], which is unfortunate,” Melis said.
While he acknowledged other researchers may have their own ideas about his team’s accuracy, Melis said the radio technique has been used before. Different astrophysicists have employed the method for measurements to objects such as the Orion Nebula cluster, the Taurus star-forming region and high-mass star-forming regions throughout the Milky Way.
Melis added that four more star distance measurements for the Pleiades will be incorporated into another research paper he is working on, planned for later this year. In some cases, astronomers have managed to track orbital motion of the stars, which could yield more-accurate mass measurements of the stars themselves, he added.
- Star Quiz: Test Your Stellar Smarts
- Stunning Photos of Our Milky Way Galaxy (Gallery)
- Most Powerful Quasar Discovered | Video
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FERGUSON, Mo. — Hundreds of demonstrators tracked through pouring rain and blistering heat on Saturday, calling for accountability for the officer who gunned down an unarmed 18-year-old here three weeks ago and for broader policing reforms.
The death of Michael Brown and the aggressive police response to the demonstrations that followed have sparked a national conversation about race and law enforcement. Now that much of the national media has moved on — a point that was repeatedly made by speaker after speaker at a rally in a nearby park on Saturday — activists are working on channeling the anger exposed in the wake of Brown’s death into concrete changes to policing tactics in the St. Louis region.
BANGKOK – Unaddressed protection needs, rigid systems and research gaps imperil lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and intersex (LGBTI) people in humanitarian emergencies. While the experiences of sexual and gender minorities during disasters and conflicts are drawing increased attention from some responders, structural barriers remain and experts are urging a rethink of policies and protocols that could fuel exclusion and harm.
“It’s important to remember that LGBTI people are vulnerable to the same human rights violations as everyone else in an emergency situation. What compounds the situation is that accessing humanitarian services can pose specific difficulties,” Jennifer Rumbach, resettlement support centre manager for South Asia at the International Organization for Migration (IOM), told IRIN.
They have traipsed the world over, donating time and money to the less fortunate. They have created a family of world citizens in the process.
Even as political leaders debate whom to blame for the surge of child migrants at the border, most agree on one goal: deporting the children as quickly as possible. Yet few advocates of their speedy removal are willing to state on the record that the children’s death is a strong possibility. When Democratic National Committee Chairwoman Debbie Wasserman Schultz voiced the danger out loud, many attacked her as contradicting Obama’s “detain and deport” policy.
Mark Krikorian, Executive Director of the highly conservative Center for Immigration Studies, has no problem acknowledging the risk of death. As he stated in a recent radio interview, the fact that one person loses his life after removal does not force the conclusion that others like him should be permitted to stay. Krikorian is not my ideological role model. But I salute his recognizing the consequences of his policy preferences. Krikorian wants the United States to deport people even when it amounts to a death sentence, and is willing to say so on the air.
“Game of Thrones” may have been snubbed from the major Emmy categories this year, but it did take home one very deserving statue.
The HBO series won the award for Outstanding Special and Visual Effects, and if you have any doubt over why, this new video will reassure you. From Rodeo FX, this “Game of Thrones” special effects reel shows all the amazing work the company did on the series for Season 4. From revealing how they created Meereen and thousands of Unsullied to the gorgeous shots of Stannis’ army invading Mance Rayder to the baby and the Night’s King. If this doesn’t prove just how visually amazing “Game of Thrones” is, nothing will.
By Aaron Mendelson
SACRAMENTO, Calif., Aug 30 (Reuters) – The California state legislature enacted a ban on plastic grocery bags on Friday near the end of its two-year session, a measure that if signed into law would become the first of its kind in America.
A number of cities and counties in California and other U.S. states, including Hawaii’s Maui County, have made it illegal for grocery stores to pack purchases in plastic. But at the state level, opposition from plastic bag makers has usually prevailed.
The California Senate voted 22-15 for the bill, which must be signed into law by Sept. 30 by Democratic Governor Jerry Brown, who has not signaled a position on the measure.
“Single-use plastic bags not only litter our beaches, but also our mountains, our deserts, and our rivers, streams and lakes,” said state Senator Alex Padilla, who sponsored the bill.
Padilla backed a similar measure last year but it failed by three votes. The fate of this bill was uncertain until the waning hours of the session after falling three votes short in the state’s Assembly on Monday.
But after picking up the support of the United Food and Commercial Workers Union, the bill passed a second vote in the Assembly.
The measure would ban grocery stores from handing out single-use grocery bags with customers’ purchases, and provide money to local plastic bag companies to retool to make heavier, multiple-use bags that customers could buy.
Environmentalists have pushed for banning plastic bags, which are cheaper for supermarkets to use than paper bags, but create mountains of trash that is difficult to recycle. In California, there is particular concern that the bags, when swept out to sea, could harm ocean life.
After the defeat of his earlier bill, Padilla won the support of some California-based bag makers by including the funding for retooling. But in recent months, out-of-state manufacturers campaigned against the bill, even producing television advertisements targeting Padilla, who is running for secretary of state.
Cathy Browne, general manager at Crown Poly, a plastic bag manufacturer in Huntington Park, California, said the bill would lead to layoffs at companies like hers.
More than 10 billion plastic bags are used in California each year, according to an estimate by Californians Against Waste, an advocacy group supporting the bill. (Writing by Eric M. Johnson; Editing by Sharon Bernstein and Mark Heinrich)