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Published: Wednesday, July 19, 2017 @ 6:26 PM
— The nation is gearing up for the first total solar eclipse to cross the country coast to coast in nearly 100 years.
This August, the sun, the moon and planet Earth will all align as space junkies revel in the celestial spectacle that has everyone talking.
Due to its rarity, astronomers are calling the 2017 phenomenon the Great American Eclipse.
Here are seven things to know about the big summer event:
When is it?
The Great American Eclipse will cross the U.S. on Aug. 21, and will begin in Oregon at 10:15 a.m. local time (so, 1:15 p.m. EST). The eclipse’s path of totality will cut a 60-mile-wide arc across the country and end in South Carolina about an hour and a half later.
Most accurate map of the eclipse’s path of totality to date
NASA data visualizer Ernie Wright published the most accurate map to date of the Great American Eclipse’s path of totality using data from NASA's Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter, elevation data on Earth and information on the sun’s angles.
Whether or not you’re inside the path of totality will determine what you see in the sky. If you’re outside the path, you’ll likely see a partial (not total) eclipse.
To determine the most accurate eclipse path, according to Wright, you have to figure out where the moon’s shadow will fall on the Earth’s surface, which requires taking into account the elevation differences on both the moon and Earth’s surfaces, he told Space.com.
Using elevation data from NASA’s Shuttle Radar Topography Mission, the locations of the Earth, moon and sun at each line of latitude or longitude and how long it takes sunlight to travel to the moon and down to Earth, Wright was able to compute where exactly the eclipse will cross and for how long.
How to find out what the eclipse will look like from where you live
Scientists at the University of California, Berkeley, teamed up with Google to create a simulator that shows you what the sky will look like wherever you are.
All you have to do is type in your hometown or zip code and the simulator will tell you how much of the sun will be blocked by the moon, how the sun will travel across the sky over a three-hour period on Aug. 21 and what time to watch.
“There are lots of online animations of the 2017 eclipse, but you can’t use them like ours to get a sense of the full experience, including your surroundings. Our simulation is closer to what one might experience in a planetarium show,” the UC Berkeley scientists said.
The tool could also help people figure out where to get the best “total solar eclipse experience,” the scientists said.
This simulator is part of the Eclipse Megamovie Project, a Google-Berkeley collaboration aimed at collecting and stitching together thousands of photos of the Aug. 21 eclipse taken by volunteer photographers around the country.
Where are the best places to see the 2017 eclipse?
The August eclipse will be incredibly accessible to anyone within a 200-mile drive of its path of totality, but the most important factor in getting a good view is weather.
But if you’re hoping to make a trip out of the big event, Greatamericaneclipse.com has a list of 10 great places to see the phenomenon based on the best weather odds for clear skies:
Madras, Oregon: Totality begins at 10:19 a.m. PDT and lasts 2 minutes, 4 seconds.
Snake River Valley, Idaho: Totality begins at 11:33 a.m. MDT and lasts 2 minutes, 18 seconds.
Casper, Wyoming: Totality begins at 11:42 a.m. MDT and lasts 2 minutes, 4 seconds.
Sandhills of western Nebraska: Totality begins at 11:49 a.m. MDT and lasts 2 minutes, 30 seconds.
St. Joseph, Missouri: Totality begins at 1:06 p.m. CDT and lasts 2 minutes, 39 seconds.
Carbondale, Illinois: Totality begins at 1:20 p.m. CDT and lasts 2 minutes, 41.6 seconds.
Hopkinsville, Kentucky: Totality begins at 1:24 p.m. CDT and lasts 2 minutes, 41.2 seconds.
Nashville, Tennessee: Totality begins at 1:27 p.m. CDT and lasts 1 minute, 57 seconds.
Great Smoky Mountains National Park: Totality begins at 2:35 p.m. EST and lasts 1 minute, 17 seconds.
Columbia, South Carolina: Totality begins at 2:43 p.m. EST and lasts 2 minutes, 30 seconds.
The area is also holding an array of events to commemorate the phenomenon.
Other accessible road trips from Georgia include the Great Smoky Mountains; Columbia, South Carolina and Nashville, Tennessee.
If you plan on seeing the spectacle in person, Space.com has helpful safety tips.
How to watch the eclipse live (from your couch)
Even if you don’t plan on traveling or making your way outdoors for the great eclipse, NASA will be hosting an Eclipse Megacast across multiple programming venues, including NASA TV, YouTube, UStream and more. Local and national television stations will likely pick the Megacast up as well.
When was the last time there was a total solar eclipse visible from the United States?
The total solar eclipse of July 11, 1991 in Hawaii was the last to touch U.S soil, but the Feb. 26, 1979 eclipse — 38 years ago — was the last visible within the continental United States.
How long until the next total solar eclipse to touch the continental United States?
The next North American total solar eclipse will be on April 8, 2024, and will begin in Mexico, make its way through Texas to Maine and eventually end in Canada.
Published: Friday, March 16, 2018 @ 11:10 PM
Updated: Saturday, March 17, 2018 @ 7:44 AM
WASHINGTON — United States Attorney General Jeff Sessions has fired former deputy director of the FBI Andrew McCabe, two days before McCabe was set to retire, according to news reports.
Sessions said in a statement released Friday night that McCabe was less than truthful while under oath several times, according to The New York Times.
“The F.B.I. expects every employee to adhere to the highest standards of honesty, integrity and accountability,” he said. “I have terminated the employment of Andrew McCabe effective immediately.”
In a statement Friday night, McCabe said his firing was politically motivated.
"This attack on my credibility is one part of a larger effort not just to slander me personally, but to taint the FBI, law enforcement, and the intelligence professionals," McCabe said.
"This attack on my credibility is one part of a larger effort not just to slander me personally, but to taint the FBI, law enforcement, and the intelligence professionals."— Vox (@voxdotcom) March 17, 2018
Read Andrew McCabe's full statement: https://t.co/Bg5HEMhemU
In an earlier interview, McCabe rejected the allegations that he was untruthful during internal hearings, the Times reported.
“The idea that I was dishonest is just wrong,” he said.
“This is part of an effort to discredit me as a witness.”
McCabe is a potential witness in special counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation into whether the Trump campaign colluded with Russia during the 2016 presidential campaign
Shortly after midnight, President Donald Trump tweeted about the firing, calling it “a great day for democracy.”
Andrew McCabe FIRED, a great day for the hard working men and women of the FBI - A great day for Democracy. Sanctimonious James Comey was his boss and made McCabe look like a choirboy. He knew all about the lies and corruption going on at the highest levels of the FBI!— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) March 17, 2018
McCabe, who had been with the FBI for 22 years, resigned his position in late January, but stayed on at the agency until he was eligible to retire on Sunday.
Published: Saturday, March 17, 2018 @ 1:00 AM
After operating for more than a year with a temporary chief, NASA faces an unprecedented leadership bind as its acting Administrator announced this week that he would retire at the end of April, with no hint that the Senate will vote by then on President Donald Trump’s nominee to lead the space agency.
“It has been a long process but we are optimistic that the vote will come soon,” said Sheryl Kaufman, the Communications Director for Rep. Jim Bridenstine (R-OK).
“We hope that happens soon,” said Rep. Bruce Babin (R-TX), as House Republicans and Vice President Mike Pence pressed the Senate for action on Bridenstine.
The problem for Bridenstine is that just one Republican has refused to support him for the job as NASA Administrator – that being Sen. Marco Rubio (R-FL) – and with only a bare majority, and the absence of Sen. John McCain (R-AZ), Bridenstine does not have the votes to win.
Since President Trump took office in January of 2017, NASA has been led by Robert Lightfoot, a well-respected NASA veteran who has drawn bipartisan praise.
But with Lightfoot announcing this week that he is retiring – effective April 30 – it’s possible that NASA could be forced to dig deeper down the depth chart for another temporary leader at the space agency.
“Robert Lightfoot has served NASA exceptionally well for nearly 30 years,” said Rep. Lamar Smith (R-TX), the head of the House Science Committee.
Apart from a couple of major issues, Bridenstine in 2017 did not cast votes on regular legislation in the House – while waiting for his Senate confirmation.
This year has been different – Bridenstine is voting on most legislation in the House, except for measures that deal with NASA.
“He will represent his constituents as fully as possible while awaiting the confirmation vote by the full Senate,” said his spokeswoman.
But without enough support, there’s no hint of a vote on Bridenstine in the Senate.
“The facts of this nomination have not changed,” said Sen. Bill Nelson (D-FL) back in January – and two months later, that statement is still true.
Published: Friday, March 16, 2018 @ 10:22 PM
— Worried about high blood pressure? You may want to stay away from Chinese takeout.
Health experts have called for warning labels on Chinese takeaway and ready-made meals following a new survey revealing often "astonishing and harmful" salt levels.
The survey, published this week by a group of specialists from the United Kingdom-based organization Action on Salt, revealed that some Chinese takeaway dishes contain as much salt as five McDonald's Big Macs. Others contain more than half of the recommended daily allowance of salt for adults.
When it comes to ready-made Chinese meals in supermarkets, more than 40 percent of 141 that were analyzed had "high" levels of salt, meaning they contained more than 1.8 grams per portion. Some store-bought rice dishes have more salt than 11 bags of salted chips, the analysis revealed.
"Considering how many millions of takeaways and ready meals are eaten ... the food industry must be held to account, with new salt targets set by the government to ensure the salt content of these meals is reduced to much lower levels, and fast," Sarah Alderton, assistant nutritionist at Action on Salt, said in a press release.
Sonia Pombo, the organization’s campaign manager, called for the industry to make changes to their products.
"Our data shows that food can be easily reformulated with lower levels of salt, so why haven't all companies acted responsibly?" Pombo said. "We are asking everyone, including the food industry, to think first and use less salt."
Hemini Bharadia of Blood Pressure UK described the findings as "very concerning."
"We are all eating too much salt. This can lead to high blood pressure causing strokes and heart attacks, most of which could be avoided through better lifestyle choices," Bharadia told The Guardian.
Consuming high levels of salt has been linked to a variety of serious health problems, including high blood pressure, heart disease and strokes.
"Salt is the forgotten killer as it puts up our blood pressure, leading to tens of thousands of unnecessary strokes, heart failure and heart attacks every year," Graham MacGregor, the chairman of Action on Salt and a professor of cardiovascular medicine at Queen Mary University of London, said. "Reducing salt is the most cost-effective measure to reduce the number of people dying or suffering from strokes or heart disease."
As activists in the UK call for salt warning labels, New York City is leading the charge on raising awareness about the risks. In 2015, it became the first city in the United States to require high-sodium warning labels on restaurant menus.
According to the city government's health web page, New York is conducting "an unprecedented public-private partnership to help prevent heart disease and strokes by reducing the amount of sodium in packaged and restaurant foods."
"The National Salt Reduction Initiative (NSRI), a partnership of more than 100 state and local health authorities and national health organizations, set voluntary targets for salt levels in 62 categories of packaged food and 25 categories of restaurant food to guide food company sodium reductions in 2012 and 2014,” the city government shared on the site.
While this new survey from the U.K. may have highlighted the high levels of salt in Chinese food takeout and ready-made dishes, it’s important to note that high levels of sodium are common in many fast food favorites and snacks Americans consume on a daily basis.
New York City's Deputy Health Commissioner Sonia Angell, who is also a physician, told NPR that many people just don't know there's a link between excessive salt intake, high blood pressure and heart disease.
“The majority of salt in our diet doesn't come from the salt shaker — it's already in the food when we purchase it," Angell said. "And that makes restaurants a really important place to give people guidance about how they might be making decisions — if they choose to do so — that might protect their health and their heart."
Published: Friday, March 16, 2018 @ 5:26 PM
DETROIT — A U.S. Senate candidate in Michigan has a plan to arm homeless people in an effort to reduce violent crime.
Candidate Brian Ellison, a Libertarian, is trying to raise $10,000 to put his plan “Arm the Homeless, plan into action to train and provide weapons to the homeless in metro Detroit, according to MLive.com.
Ellison said the homeless need to be able to protect themselves. "Homeless people are people too, and they have a right to defend themselves," he told MLive.
Ellison said in an interview with the Guardian he thinks the best weapon for a homeless person is a pistol.
“But due to the licensing requirements in the state we’re going to have a hard enough time getting homeless people shotguns as it is,” he said.
“Getting them pistols is probably next to impossible. The pistols need to be registered, people have to have addresses.”
Ellison also told the Guardian he isn’t worried about people walking around town with loaded shotguns and he doesn’t think it presents any additional danger. Giving the homeless ammunition along with a gun is part of his plan, too.
“Are you worried about the police being armed with military weapons?” Ellison asked.
“I am,” he said. “The world we live in is a scary world, where the police who used to dress in short-sleeved shirts and carry a revolver now have long rifles with scopes and bulletproof vests and armored vehicles.”
“And quite frankly that scares me much more than a homeless person trying to defend themselves with a shotgun,” Ellison told the Guardian.
Ellison is running against popular incumbent Democrat Debbie Stabenow and three Republican candidates, Sandy Pensler, Bob Carr and John James.