2019-01-01 00:00:00 ..
2019-09-18 11:15:32 UTC
2019-09-18 11:53:08 UTC
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The outcomes of several races in the 2018 midterm elections may have an impact on the Europa Clipper mission, as well as other NASA priorities:
Perhaps the most significant loss occurred in Texas's Seventh Congressional District, home to thousands of the employees at the Johnson Space Center in Houston. A political newcomer, Lizzie Pannill Fletcher, defeated the incumbent John Culberson, who has served in the House since 2001. Culberson, an attorney, doesn't have a science background. But he grew up in the 1960s building telescopes, toying with model rockets, and reading popular science magazines. For the past four years, Culberson has pushed his colleagues in the House and the Senate to steadily grow nasa's budget, for projects including its climate-science programs—which may come as a surprise, given the congressman's party line on climate change.
Culberson has fiercely supported one mission in particular: a journey to one of Jupiter's moons, the icy Europa. As chair of the House Subcommittee on Commerce, Justice, and Science, Culberson more than doubled the amount of money the space agency requested from Congress for an orbiter around Europa, from $265 million to $545 million. He also threw in $195 million to support a lander to the moon, which nasa hadn't even planned for, but would of course accept. Scientists suspect that Europa's frozen crust covers a liquid ocean that may sustain microbial life. Culberson was intent on sending something there to find it. "This will be tremendously expensive, but worth every penny," he said last year, during a visit to nasa's Jet Propulsion Laboratory to check its progress.
With Culberson out of the House, the funding portfolio for the Europa mission could change. "I don't see any obvious members of Congress, Republican or Democratic, who'd be taking up that mantle of leading the Europa efforts, so I imagine that those are likely to start to wane," said Casey Dreier, a senior space-policy adviser at the Planetary Society, a nonprofit space-advocacy group.
Dreier said the development of the Europa orbiter, known as Clipper, will certainly continue. Since nasa formally approved the mission in 2015, engineers and scientists have made significant progress on the design of the spacecraft. But without a steady flow of funding, its launch date could slip, he said. The lander is on shakier ground. "I don't think you're going to see money for the Europa lander to continue showing up, because that's money that nasa has not been requesting," Dreier said.
See also: Culberson's ouster could spell big problems for NASA's Orion program, experts say
NASA's Europa lander may be in jeopardy after the midterms — and some are fine with seeing it go
What the 2018 midterms mean for NASA and planetary science
We had two Soylentils submit stories about Attorney General Jeff Sessions:
"US Attorney General Jeff Sessions has been fired by President Donald Trump.
[...] Mr Trump said Mr Sessions will be temporarily replaced by his chief of staff, Matthew Whitaker, who has criticised the Russia inquiry.
[...] In a resignation letter, Mr Sessions - a former Alabama senator who was an early supporter of Mr Trump - made clear the decision to go was not his own.
[...] The president cannot directly fire the special counsel, whose investigation Mr Trump has repeatedly decried as a witch hunt. But Mr Sessions' replacement will have the power to fire Mr Mueller or end the inquiry.
[...] Republican Senator Lindsey Graham said he looks forward to 'working with President Trump to find a confirmable, worthy successor so that we can start a new chapter at the Department of Justice'.
Mr Graham, of South Carolina, had said last year there would be 'holy hell to pay' if Mr Sessions was ever fired."
[...] House of Representatives Democratic leader Nancy Pelosi said: "It is impossible to read Attorney General Sessions' firing as anything other than another blatant attempt by President Trump to undermine & end Special Counsel Mueller's investigation."
Jeff Sessions is out. The new Acting Attorney General is Matthew G. Whitaker:
Matthew Whitaker will take over as acting attorney general, the President said. Whitaker is expected to take charge of the Russia investigation and special counsel Robert Mueller from Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein. Whitaker has been openly critical of Mueller and the investigation and Democrats immediately called on him to recuse himself, just as Sessions had.
The US Surveillance State is Poised to Become Even More Powerful
Trump and Sessions Plan to Restrict H-1B Workers. Hyderabad Says to Bring It On.
Attorney General Nominee Jeff Sessions Backs Crypto Backdoors
Washington State Will Resist Federal Crackdown on Cannabis
DoJ Reverses Plans to Reduce the Use of Private Prisons
New Attorney General Claims Legal Weed Drives Violent Crime; Statistics be Damned
Trump Administration's War on Science Reaches DoJ
4/20: The Third Time's Not the Charm
Jeff Sessions Reboots the Drug War
U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions Will Rescind the Cole Memo
President Trump Backed Off from Ordering Special Counsel Mueller Fired
President Trump Promises to Support State Legalization of Cannabis; Boehner Evolves
French President Emmanuel Macron called for the creation of a "true European army," issuing a sharp critique of trans-Atlantic security ties days before U.S. President Trump is due to visit France.
Europe's security ties with the U.S., which have been a bedrock of the continent's stability for decades, have come under strain as Mr. Trump has demanded more military spending from European members of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization and questioned the alliance's benefits for the U.S. Such tensions have led Mr. Macron and German Chancellor Angela Merkel to publicly question whether the continent can still rely on the U.S. to come to Europe's defense.
Mr. Macron went a step further by grouping the U.S. among foreign powers he considers a potential threat to the continent. "We have to protect ourselves with respect to China, Russia and even the United States of America," Mr. Macron said on French radio.
Mr. Macron made the remarks as part of a weeklong tour of World War I battlefields ahead of the centenary of the Nov. 11 Armistice, when the French leader is due to host Mr. Trump, Vladimir Putin of Russia and many other heads of state.
Also at Newsweek.
Six people have been arrested in France on suspicion of planning to carry out a "violent" attack on President Emmanuel Macron, officials say. The individuals, reported to be five men and a woman, were picked up by the French security services in Brittany, north-east and south-east France.
An investigation is now taking place into a "criminal terrorist association", a judicial source said. Details of the suspects and the alleged plot have not yet been released.
Maine's ranked-choice voting will be used in a federal general election for the first time, after previously using it in the primary system.
Update: Democrats have taken the House of Representatives, while Republicans have retained control of the Senate.
Georgia Secretary of State and Republican gubernatorial candidate Brian Kemp opened an investigation into the state's Democratic Party Sunday, alleging a failed attempt to hack the Georgia voter registration system.
In a law implemented last year, Georgia's 'Exact Match' requirement flags voters who have discrepancies in their official identifying documents and may be non-citizens.
As originally written, at the actual polling location, only Deputy Registrars could immediately clear individuals to vote (provisional ballots could still be cast). This was deemed burdensome in U.S. District Court and now Poll Managers can also clear individuals to vote who show proof of citizenship.
The announcement of this change is here: http://sos.ga.gov/index.php/general/judge_includes_poll_managers_in_georgias_existing_non-citizen_verification_process_
Voters were notified in advance of discrepancies and multiple avenues to resolve the issue are available, including:
- in advance by faxing or emailing documents to the county registrar
- when balloting, providing documentation to a Deputy Registrar (or Poll Manager now)
- If the above are an issue, an individual can cast a provisional ballot and provide the proof of citizenship (in person, via fax, email, or text message) before Friday.
There's no better example of the power, and the terror, inspired by blockchain than Gab.com, the social network used by the accused Pittsburgh synagogue gunman to threaten Jews.
About a month and a half before the alleged gunman made good on those threats by opening fire in a Pittsburgh synagogue and killing 11 people, Gab submitted paperwork to the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission to raise $10 million via an initial coin offering (ICO). The offering, dated September 18, 2018, has so far received commitments to raise $5.6 million in capital for the "free speech" social network, which is a favorite of white supremacists, neo-Nazis and other members of the "alt-right."
Since the shooting on Saturday, Gab has been shut down by a host of mainstream services including payment processors Stripe and Paypal, Web-hosting company Joyent and briefly, domain registry GoDaddy. But that might not matter, because Gab has already taken the first step toward freeing itself from dependence on traditional infrastructure and support mechanisms, thanks to its funding via the ethereum blockchain. Ultimately Gab's goal is to build an entire ecosystem beyond the reach of centralized authorities—whether Facebook, Twitter or venture capitalists—making it nearly indestructible. On this, the tenth anniversary of the publication of Satoshi Nakamoto's whitepaper, which gave birth to bitcoin, Gab epitomizes the darker consequences of his vision.
[...] Gab can also use other blockchain services if mainstream providers try to kick it off the internet by refusing to provide critical services. If Gab needs to replace GoDaddy for domain service (the addresses people use to find websites), Ethereum Name Service provides domains for decentralized applications built on the ethereum blockchain. Web hosting? No problem. Ethereum's Substratum provides a decentralized alternative to Joyent. Others have already pioneered the idea. PeepEth is a nascent ethereum-powered social network, and Mastadon is a blockchain-based Twitter.
Explosive devices were sent to former President Barack Obama and former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, as well as to CNN's offices in New York, sparking an intense investigation on Wednesday into whether a bomber is going after targets that have often been the subject of right-wing ire.
A law enforcement official said the three devices were similar to one found Monday at the home of George Soros, the billionaire philanthropist and liberal donor.
[...] The device sent to CNN was contained in a manila envelope addressed to John Brennan, who was the C.I.A. director in the Obama administration and is a harsh critic of Mr. Trump. The president revoked Mr. Brennan's security clearance in what was seen as an act of retribution. The return address bore the name of Debbie Wasserman Schultz, a Florida congresswoman who formerly headed the Democratic National Committee.
In a statement, the White House condemned "the attempted violent attacks."
Update 1: The explosive devices have been described as pipe bombs. New York Governor Andrew Cuomo says that a device was also sent to his office.
New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo's spokesman has identified the device sent to his office, originally believed to be suspicious, as a thumb drive containing files on the far right group Proud Boys. It does not appear to be related to the explosive devices.
[...] Another suspicious package has been intercepted at a Congressional mail screening facility in Capitol Heights, Maryland, according to CNN. [...] ABC News reported the package was addressed to Rep. Maxine Waters, a California Democrat.
President Donald Trump announced Saturday that the US is pulling out of the landmark Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces Treaty with Russia, a decades-old agreement that has drawn the ire of the President.
[...] The treaty forced both countries to eliminate ground-launched ballistic and cruise missiles with ranges between approximately 300 and 3,400 miles. It offered a blanket of protection to the United States' European allies and marked a watershed agreement between two nations at the center of the arms race during the Cold War.
Former State Department spokesman Rear Adm. John Kirby, a CNN military and diplomatic analyst, explained that the treaty "wasn't designed to solve all of our problems with the Soviet Union," but was "designed to provide a measure of some strategic stability on the continent of Europe."
"It's the dirt that does it."
President Donald Trump has warned that the US will bolster its nuclear arsenal to put pressure on Russia and China. Speaking to reporters, he repeated his belief that Russia has violated the 1987 Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces (INF) treaty, which he has threatened to leave. Russia denies this.
The Cold War-era treaty banned medium-range missiles, reducing the perceived Soviet threat to European nations.
Russia has warned it will respond in kind if the US develops more weapons. Mr Trump said the US would build up its arsenal "until people come to their senses".
[...] Meanwhile, US National Security Adviser John Bolton has been holding talks in Moscow after Russia condemned the US plan to quit the deal. Mr Bolton was told that the US withdrawal would be a "serious blow" to the non-proliferation regime.
The Guardian reports:
Georgia secretary of state and gubernatorial candidate Brian Kemp improperly purged more than 340,000 voters from the state's registration rolls, an investigation charges.
Greg Palast, a journalist and the director of the Palast Investigative Fund, said an analysis he commissioned found 340,134 voters were removed from the rolls on the grounds that they had moved - but they actually still live at the address where they are registered.
"Their registration is cancelled. Not pending, not inactive – cancelled. If they show up to vote on 6 November, they will not be allowed to vote. That's wrong," Palast told reporters on a call on Friday. "We can prove they're still there. They should be allowed to vote."
[...] Palast and the Georgia Coalition for the People's Agenda filed a lawsuit against Kemp on Friday to force him to release additional records related to the state's removal of voters.
Under Georgia procedures, registered voters who have not cast ballots for three years are sent a notice asking them to confirm they still live at their address. If they don't return it, they are marked inactive. If they don't vote for two more general elections after that, they are removed from the rolls.
The Saudis are preparing a report that will acknowledge that Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi's death was the result of an interrogation that went wrong, one that was intended to lead to his abduction from Turkey, according to two sources.
One source says the report will likely conclude that the operation was carried out without clearance and transparency and that those involved will be held responsible.
One of the sources acknowledged that the report is still being prepared and cautioned that things could change.
The Washington Post columnist was last seen in public when he entered the Saudi consulate in Istanbul in Turkey on October 2. Previously, Saudi authorities had maintained Khashoggi left the consulate the same afternoon of his visit, but provided no evidence to support the claim.
Saudi Arabia's not-so-veiled threat issued in a government statement Sunday emphasized its "vital role in the global economy" and that any action taken upon it will be met with "greater action". But as oil ticks upward, a look at history and geopolitics suggests that while a Saudi-driven oil price spike would bring pain for much of the world, it would ultimately backfire on itself.
"If this is something the Saudis were allowed to do, they'd be really shooting themselves in the foot," Warren Patterson, commodities analyst at ING, told CNBC's Squawk Box Europe on Tuesday. "In the short to medium term we'll definitely see an incremental amount of demand destruction, but the bigger issue is in the longer term."
Any action in withholding oil from the market, he said, "would only quicken the pace of energy transition."