THE MAD SCRAMBLE TO CLAIM THE WORLD’S MOST COVETED METEORITE – JOSHUAH BEARMAN AND ALLISON KEELEY SCIENCE December 2018


In the remote high plains of Peru, a red-hot chunk of rock plummeted from the heavens, making landfall with a tremendous blast. Half a world away, meteorite hunters like Robert Ward (above) got word and rushed to get a piece of the action. Then things got weird.JAKE NAUGHTON

ON THE MORNING of September 15, 2007, station I08BO—an infrasound monitoring post for the Nuclear Test Ban Treaty near La Paz, Bolivia—picked up a series of atmospheric vibrations. It was an explosion at very high altitude, and there was something streaking across the sky, heading southwest at 27,000 mph.

A FEW MINUTES later, at about 11:45 am, a brilliant fireball flashed over Carancas, a tiny village at 12,000 feet in Peru’s remote altiplano, a high plain bounded by the Andes. For those on the ground, this celestial visitor was the brightest thing anyone had ever seen in the sky.

A local radio host witnessed the blaze descend behind a hilltop statue of Jesus and rushed to his station to announce the arrival of a UFO. One villager saw the smoky trail and figured it must be Superman. Someone else saw a scorpion falling; he thought it was an antahualla, a mythical creature in local lore that soars from mountaintop to mountaintop at night, cloaked in light, menacing those below.

What they all saw was a rock, somewhere between 7 and 12 tons of chondrite studded with pyroxene, olivine, and feldspar, burning at 3,000 degrees Fahrenheit. It had begun its journey in the asteroid belt, more than 110 million miles away, floating between Mars and Jupiter, and it was among the largest meteorite arrivals in living memory. The rock was probably not much bigger than a dinette set, but that was large enough to generate an exospheric detonation with the energy of a low-yield nuclear weapon. Then it struck Earth.

Gregorio Urury, a farmer in Carancas, was sitting outside his small adobe house, taking a break from tending his sheep, when he felt the impact. He listened, paralyzed, as the sound passed over him—a low hum that quickly rose into a scream—until the ground shook. He couldn’t stand up at first. His dogs barked wildly. When he gathered himself and searched the plain, he saw a column of dense smoke rising in the distance.

It was the end of the dry season and the land was parched. The spring storms were about to roll in, and farmers would take cover indoors for fear of being found by a lightning bolt in the flat expanse. Urury, like most residents of Carancas, is part of the indigenous Aymara nation, a group that has lived here for centuries. Their land is hard to farm, contains few minerals, and has almost no features but for sod brick houses, shepherds, and their flocks, along with wild herds of vicuña, a more graceful relative of the llama. There are no fences, and a single dirt road bisects the plain. Urury’s farm is a modest holding that he had meant to leave to his children, until they, like so many others, left their father’s village for the cities.

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Trump is forcing out Defense secretary James Mattis by New Year’s instead of allowing him to stay another 2 months Jacob Shamsian December 2018


  • President Donald Trump is forcing Defense Secretary James Mattis to leave his position by New Year’s.
  • Mattis planned to stay until February 28 to ensure an orderly transition.
  • He’ll be replaced by Patrick Shanahan, the deputy defense secretary, Trump said in a tweet.
  • Mattis quit his cabinet position because he disagreed with Trump’s position to pull American troops out of Syria.

President Trump announced that Secretary of Defense James Mattis will leave his position by January 1. Patrick Shanahan, Mattis’s deputy, will take over as the acting defense chief.

Mattis announced his resignation from the Defense Department on Thursday over President Trump’s decision to withdraw United States troops from Syria and halve the number of troops in Afghanistan. Mattis originally said he would stay in his position until February 28 to ensure an orderly transition.

In his resignation letter, Mattis blasted Trump for mistreating allies.

“Because you have the right to have a Secretary of Defense whose views are better aligned with yours on these and other subjects, I believe it is right for me to step down from my position,” he wrote.

Read more:The incredible career of Jim Mattis, the legendary Marine general turned defense secretary who just quit the Trump administration

Trump has been furious about the resignation letter, according to the New York Times. On Saturday, he criticized Mattis in a tweet.

“When President Obama ingloriously fired Jim Mattis, I gave him a second chance. Some thought I shouldn’t, I thought I should,” he wrote.

Mattis is a retired four-star Marine general who oversaw the United States Central Command from 2010 to 2013. He left the position when President Barack Obama was reportedly unhappy with his stance on Iran.

Before beginning his position as deputy secretary of defense in June 2017, Shanahan was an executive at the aircraft and weapons manufacturer Boeing. He does not have any prior government experience.

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Sorrel: The Ruby-Red Caribbean Christmas Drink Flavored With Black History – Andrea Y. Henderson December 23, 20189:00 AM ET


Sorrel, a festive drink made by steeping hibiscus flowers, is the taste of the holidays throughout the Caribbean. It is also a close cousin to the African-American red drink, described as “liquid soul.”
Andrea Y. Henderson/NPR

In America, the boozy drink of Christmastime is buttery, cream-colored eggnog. But throughout the Caribbean, the sip of the season comes in a holiday-appropriate shade of ruby red: sorrel.

This sweet, cinnamon-spiced drink gets its festive deep-red shade from the flowers of roselle, a species of tropical hibiscus plant used to make it. “It has notes of family, warmth, Christmas and of being around people that you love,” says Jamaican chef Suzanne Rousseau, who with her sister, Michelle Rousseau, co-authored the vegetarian cookbook Provisions: The Roots of Caribbean Cooking.

Different islands give sorrel their own spin, varying the spices and other ingredients. Some people add ginger ale to the mix. Wine, rum or other alcohols can be used for the optional buzzy kick. The Rousseau sisters take the crimson hibiscus buds and combine them in a saucepan with spices like cinnamon, cloves and ginger, boil the mixture for a few minutes, then steep it for two to three days. Once the mixture is steeped, they add sugar, wine and rum to taste, and chill the blend until the holiday drink is ready to be served. “It’s not really a cocktail, it’s more like a punch,” Michelle Rousseau says. The sisters say they like to keep sorrel in their fridge year round — the longer it sits, the richer and sweeter it gets.

But this beloved island drink isn’t just a local tradition. It actually has deep roots in the history of the African diaspora, and is a close cousin of another beverage — one with a special place among African-Americans: red drink.

If you don’t know what red drink is, then most likely you have never attended a black American church function, family reunion or barbecue, because these gatherings have red drink readily available — not just at Christmastime but throughout the year. If you walk into a soul food restaurant and red drink isn’t on the menu, you might as well walk out.

That’s because red drink is “liquid soul,” as African-American food historian Adrian Miller has called it.

But what exactly is red drink, you ask? It is more of a phenomenon than a single drink. Most commonly, red drink is served ice cold — and red, of course — a sugary blend of several flavors of Kool-Aid. In the South, red flavored Kool-Aid is available during gatherings, but the most popular red drink often comes in the form of Big Red, a fizzy canned soda.

“Red drink is very popular in African-American culture,” says Miller. “It’s just essentially a nod to ancestral traditional red drinks that crossed the Atlantic during the Atlantic slave trade.”

Red drinks made from Roselle hibiscus have spread far and wide. A version of the drink is “known as bissap to many African countries,” Miller says. “Then it became sorrel in Jamaica. It’s even being embraced by the Latinx culture, calledagua de Jamaica.”

Miller says that while searching historical records, including old periodicals and thousands of narratives from formerly enslaved African-Americans collected as part of the 1930s Federal Writers’ Project, he discovered many references to red drinks served as part of celebrations on U.S. plantations during slavery and after Emancipation.

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The story of Marvel’s first queer Latina superhero | Gabby Rivera – TED Published on Dec 20, 2018


With Marvel’s “America Chavez,” Gabby Rivera wrote a new kind of superhero — one who can punch portals into other dimensions while also embracing her gentle, goofy, soft side. In a funny, personal talk, Rivera shares how her own childhood as a queer Puerto Rican in the Bronx informed this new narrative — and shows images from the comic book that reveal what happens when a superhero embraces her humanity. As she says: “That myth of having to go it alone and be tough is not serving us.”

The U.S. surgeon general explains why he’s issuing a rare warning on e-cigarettes and kids. – POLITICO’s Pulse Check By POLITICO’s Pulse Check Episode Surgeon General Jerome Adams Episode 133 Dec 18, 2018


EPISODE NOTES

“I don’t want anyone to think I’m against the harm-reduction potential of these devices for adults. But 3 percent of adults are using these devices — [and] 20 percent of high schoolers are using these devices.”

Surgeon General Jerome Adams sits down with POLITICO’s Dan Diamond to explain why he’s issuing an advisory on the risks of e-cigarettes for youth — just the second surgeon general advisory since 2005. (Starts at the 1:30 mark.) Adams also reviews what he thought of doctors’ recent clash with the NRA on social media, how he’s setting his 2019 priorities and even shares some personal details.

After the break, POLITICO’s Sarah Owermohle joins Dan to discuss Adams’ comments on e-cigarettes and the Trump administration’s broader push on vaping. (Starts at the 21:30 mark.)

REFERENCED ON THE SHOW

The surgeon general’s office has a resource guide for parents, providers and children on e-cigarettes.

FDA Commissioner Scott Gottlieb joined POLITICO’s podcast in November to discuss his own concerns about vaping and his pending crackdown.

Physicians pushed back after the NRA said doctors should “stay in their lane” and not discuss gun violence.

Adams praised “Blue Zones,” the work into why some communities appear to be healthier than others.

Former Surgeon General Vivek Murthy appeared on POLITICO’s “Pulse Check” in 2016, discussing his own approach to the role.

ABOUT THE SHOW

Weekly conversations with some of the most interesting and influential people in health care, hosted by POLITICO Pulse author Dan Diamond.

 

Keep Your Eyes on the Narcissist: Donald Trump’s Latest Antics Are Driven by Fear of Robert Mueller – James Risen December 22 2018, 10:21 a.m.


WASHINGTON, DC - JULY 17:  The lights temporarily go out in the Cabinet Room as U.S. President Donald Trump talks about his meeting with Russian President Vladimir Putin, during a meeting with House Republicans at the White House on July 17, 2018 in Washington, DC. Following a diplomatic summit in Helsinki, Trump faced harsh criticism after a press conference with Putin where he would not say whether he believed Russia meddled with the 2016 presidential election. (Photo by Mark Wilson/Getty Images)

The lights temporarily go out in the Cabinet Room as U.S. President Donald Trump talks about his meeting with Russian President Vladimir Putin on July 17, 2018 in Washington, D.C.

Photo: Mark Wilson/Getty Images

A MALICIOUS LONER paralyzed one of the world’s great cities this week. Meanwhile, a drone operator shut down a major international airport.

Donald Trump and the drone enthusiast who halted flights out of London’s Gatwick Airport apparently have a lot in common. Both have been willing to wreak havoc with a callous disregard for the public.

The motivation behind Trump’s pre-holiday assault on Washington — sowing chaos, breaking promises, shutting down the federal government, changing his policies from one minute to the next, forcing out one top official after another, spooking the stock market – is easily explained. Trump is a psychopathic criminal who feels cornered by Special Counsel Robert Mueller, so he is lashing out in every direction.

After two years in office, at least one thing about Trump has become predictable: He reacts violently whenever Mueller appears to be making progress in his investigation. When he hears Mueller’s footsteps, Trump has one go-to move that he cynically uses time and again: He returns to the issues and slogans that energize his base, no matter what the cost. He embraces his base because he believes it will provide him political protection from the fearful Mueller.

Trump has plenty of reason to worry about Mueller these days. The signs are everywhere that Mueller’s investigation is intensifying and closing in on Trump and the crooks around him. It is even possible that Mueller may soon complete his work and issue a final report – or even a criminal indictment of Trump. What’s worse, from Trump’s point of view, is that in January the Democrats will take over the House of Representatives from his Republican enablers, making it far more difficult for him to get rid of Mueller. In fact, the House Intelligence Committee, which has been a laughingstock under Republican rule, will soon have a Democratic chair with subpoena power to conduct an aggressive investigation of Trump, perhaps picking up where Mueller leaves off.

So it is not really surprising that Trump is throwing a tantrum.

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