“Anti-intellectualism has been a constant thread winding its way through our political and cultural life, nurtured by the false notion that democracy means that 'my ignorance is just as good as your knowledge.'” — Isaac Asimov
Hundreds of Syrians took to the streets of central Damascus today to show support for President Assad. This came after the U.S., France and the U.K. launched some 105 missiles on a chemical research this weekend on targets near the capital and Homs destroying three targets.
President Trump declared “Mission Accomplished” and described the strikes as“perfectly executed.” But Assad projected a business-as-usual veneer on social media, posting a nine-second video of himself walking through the presidential palace carrying a briefcase.
Analysts in the region say strikes like these could ultimately embolden the regime along with his Russian and Iranian allies rather than deter more attacks on civilians. “Assad is in a much stronger situation than he was before,” Elias Farhat, a retired Lebanese general and Syria analyst said, “because he is, according to his people, is a hero who confronted the Israeli attack on the airfield and now American and European attack.” But for the evacuees who lived in Eastern Ghouta and escaped this latest chemical attack in Douma, the US response seems meaningless.
“It’s too late for that [US airstrikes],” Abu Hasan, a recently evacuated Douma resident told VICE News, “after all these deaths, including children…but we blame them [the USA]|for not taking timely action.”
If signs of life are found on a planet beyond our solar system sometime in the next decade, they’ll most likely be on a planet discovered by a NASA satellite that’s scheduled to launch on Monday.
The mission is called TESS, short for Transiting Exoplanet Survey Satellite, and it will spend two years scanning almost the entire sky to search for alien worlds.
Scientists already know of over 3,000 planets around distant stars, thanks in large part to a previous NASA mission called Kepler. It spent years staring at stars in a small patch of the sky to look for a tell-tale dimming that meant a planet had passed by and blocked some of the starlight.
The Kepler mission revealed that planets of all sorts of sizes are extremely common. “There are far more planets in the Milky Way than there are stars,” says MIT astronomer George Ricker, the principal investigator for TESS.
But he says the challenge with the Kepler discoveries is that the planets’ host stars are far too faint to allow detailed follow-up measurements. “We know that planets in principle exist there,” says Ricker, “but there’s really not much more we can say other than that they exist.”
The planets discovered by TESS will be different, as TESS will search for planets around closer, brighter stars.
With guest spots from husband Jay Z, sister Solange and a reunited Destiny’s Child, this was a show about more than just music – it was about female power and self-belief
‘Is that a catwalk?” says one woman, awaiting the arrival of this year’s Saturday night headliner. “It’s Beyoncé. Of course, it’s a catwalk,” snaps another. “Is she gonna bring any guests out? She doesn’t want someone to cramp her style, right?” says the woman. “Dude, her style is uncrampable,” comes the reply.
She comes out dressed as a modern-day Cleopatra, revealing herself at the end of that catwalk behind scores of dancers led by a Black Panther mascot. “Ladies and gentlemen, welcome to Beyoncé homecoming 2018,” is the announcement over the tannoy, as a full marching band and orchestra take position on an enormous pyramid structure on the stage. Before the first song kicks in, Beyoncé has changed outfits into booty shorts and a jersey. “Coachella, y’all ready?” she says, and launches into Crazy in Love.
Thus begins a show that is somehow not just about Beyoncé. She makes it about far more than her or her career: it’s about black excellence, female power and the unrelenting possibility of self-belief. She has only a handful of white dancers among a reported 100. Her set is in thrall to soul, jazz, gospel, dance, melody and music itself. With her second song, Freedom, she creates a literal movement with her orchestra in motion; it feels like a march for purpose.
Tonight, Beyoncé plays political as fiercely as she plays feminist. During Sorry she hones in on the line “suck on my balls” with furious wrath. She flits between going hard and expressing sweet graciousness towards the audience during her addresses. The artistry of the transitions between songs, and the travel across her 20-year catalogue – combined with the sheer awe of scores of people on stage moving and playing in perfect unison – proves that Beyoncé is in a league of her own. She is the greatest of a generation, both a leader of a huge group and a solo star of unconquerable talent.
She’s also indebted to her musical past, and not just her own history. She splices Drunk in Love with Nina Simone’s Lilac Wine, elevated on a crane over the crowd. She has a go at husband Jay Z’s back catalogue, her orchestra alluding to Dirt Off Your Shoulder. There are classic hits from her early solo days, including Baby Boy; outings of the likes of Flawless and Don’t Hurt Yourself showcase her rock stardom with her third outfit change into black PVC. When she sings the infamous line “I woke up like this”, she turns to Coachella and asks: “How did you wake up this morning?”
The thing is, Beyonce did wake up like this. There is clearly a double entendre to the notion of wokeness, but the show doesn’t get woke at the expense of actually waking everyone up to the joy and togetherness of live performance.
Once she’s proved her mettle more times than necessary the thought of potential guests starts looming. She covers a smidgen of Dawn Penn’s You Don’t Love Me (No, No, No) and you wonder if it might segue into Destiny’s Child’s No, No, No, but not yet. There are a few hits to get through – Hold Up, Countdown, Check on It – and then Jay Z comes out for Deja Vu. After Beyoncé has spent almost an hour singing scorned female anthems about adultery, they display a heart-melting chemistry for one another. Moving into Run the World, however, she appears in army khaki, and you know it’s coming. She has to paid her dues to the thing that got her to this point.
Malika Whitley is the founder of ChopArt, an organization for homeless teens focused on mentorship, dignity and opportunity through the arts. In this moving, personal talk, she shares her story of homelessness and finding her voice through arts — and her mission to provide a creative outlet for others who have been pushed to the margins of society.
If hemisphere-spanning currents are slowing, greater flooding and extreme weather could be at hand
In recent years sensors stationed across the North Atlantic have picked up a potentially concerning signal: The grand northward progression of water along North America that moves heat from the tropics toward the Arctic has been sluggish. If that languidness continues and deepens, it could usher in drastic changes in sea level and weather around the ocean basin.
That northward flow is a key part of the larger circulation of water, heat and nutrients around the world’s oceans. Climate scientists have been concerned since the 1980s that rising global temperatures could throw a wrench in the conveyor belt–like system, with possibly stark climatic consequences. Sea levels could ratchet upward along the U.S. east coast, key fisheries could be devastated by spiking water temperatures and weather patterns over Europe could be altered.
Such concerns had been quelled over the last decade as climate models suggested this branch of the ocean’s circulatory system was not likely to see a rapid slowdown, which would slow any consequences. But two new studies, published Wednesday in the journal Nature, suggest the recent weakening spotted by ocean sensors is not just a short-term blip, as some had thought. Rather, it is part of a longer-term decline that has put the circulation at its weakest state in centuries. The results imply climate models are missing key pieces of the puzzle, and that ill effects could be on their way.
Which pieces might be missing, though, could determine how worrying this trend is. If models are not sensitive enough to the changes going on in the North Atlantic, “that sort of puts the warning flag a little higher,” says Thomas Delworth, an ocean and climate modeler at the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration who was not involved in the research.
The warm, salty waters of the tropical Atlantic cruise northward along the eastern U.S. before darting toward northwestern Europe (giving the British Isles a climate far balmier than Newfoundland at a similar latitude). As that segment of ocean flow, known as the Gulf Stream, pushes north, it cools and becomes denser and eventually sinks, forming the so-called deepwater that flows back southward along the ocean floor toward Antarctica.
A short guide to America’s limited military response in Syria.
The United States, along with Britain and France, bombed Syria on Friday night.
The decision to strike came one week after Syrian President Bashar al-Assad used chemical weapons against civilians outside Damascus, killing at least 42 adults and children. After that attack, President Donald Trump promised to exact a “big price” on the Assad regime.
The US and its allies deliberated a response over the following week. And then on Friday night, the countries hit three targets — including one on the outskirts of Damascus — all related to Syria’s chemical weapons program: a research center, a storage facility, and an equipment facility and command post.
The map of Syria below shows the targets hit on Friday:
The strikes hit at the “very heart” of Syria’s chemical weapon program and dealt it a “serious blow,” Pentagon spokesperson Lt. Gen. Kenneth McKenzie told reporters Saturday. McKenzie also noted Syria could reconstitute its program and the strikes didn’t take out all of Syria’s chemical weapons facilities, which means Assad could use chemical weapons on civilians again in the future.
Speaking from the White House Friday night, President Donald Trump said the US was “prepared to sustain this response until the Syrian regime stops its use of prohibited chemical agents.”
But soon after, Secretary of Defense James Mattis gave a different assessment. “Right now, this is a one-time shot, designed to set back the Syrian war machine’s ability to produce chemical weapons.”
No American troops were killed, according to the Pentagon, and as of now the US does not know if there were any civilian casualties in Syria.
There are still broader concerns. First, the US strikes may not stop Assad from using chemical weapons, or turn the the tide of seven-year-long civil war. Second, it’s possible Assad’s allies — mainly Russia and Iran — may retaliate against the approximately 2,000 US troops in Syria. And finally, it’s unclear if the US will bomb Syria again if Assad’s forces use chemical weapons once more.
Boosting productivity is mission critical in an industry that needs about 200 people to build one vessel and faces severe pricing pressure. A sharp drop in oil since the second half of 2014, when a barrel of oil fetched more than $100 compared with over $60 now, has hit vessel orders hard, forcing shipmakers to cut thousands of jobs and shutter some docks. Ship prices have tumbled close to 10 percent during the past three years.
“In this current environment, it’s very important to cut costs wherever possible,” said Lee Jae-won, an analyst at Yuanta Securities Korea Co. in Seoul. “These automation efforts will begin to pay off once orders start to show clearer signs of recovery, probably from the second half of this year.”
Hyundai Heavy, the world’s biggest shipbuilder, and its two affiliates delivered 138 vessels last year, compared with about 180 in 2016.
In what Hyundai Heavy claims is a global first, a 670-kilogram (1,480-pound) industrial robot — designed and tested in-house — can curve and weld steel plates for the front and back of vessels through remote connectivity between the machine and design software.