4th Of July ‘Buck Moon’ Is Third Lunar Eclipse Of 2020, Second In Weeks And First Visible In The US

4th Of July ‘Buck Moon’ Is Third Lunar Eclipse Of 2020, Second In Weeks And First Visible In The US

(Source Forbes.com)

July is a great month to go stargazing. Sure, the nights are pretty short at northern latitudes in the northern hemisphere, but now the summer solstice has passed, they’re getting longer. This month begins with a “Buck Moon Eclipse,” but after that subtle sight it’s all about planets. The solar system’s two gas giants —Jupiter and Saturn—both reach opposition this month. Add a two-for-one meteor shower, some sparkling summer constellations and a chance to see the Milky Way, and it’s going to be quite a month for backyard astronomy fans. Here’s what not to miss in the night sky in July 2020:

Visible from the whole of North America, this penumbral lunar eclipse is going to be a subtle sight. What will happen is that a slither of the full Moon—about a third of it, in fact—will appear to be a little dim for a few hours as it passes through Earth’s outer, fuzzy shadow in space—our planet’s penumbra. It peaks at 9:29PM Pacific Time on July 4.

Health experts slam US deal for large supply of virus drug

Health experts slam US deal for large supply of virus drug (Source Associated Press)

The U.S. government announced this week that it had an agreement with Gilead Sciences to make the bulk of their production of remdesivir for the next three months available to Americans. The Department of Health and Human Services said it had secured 500,000 treatments through September, which amounts to all but 10% of production in August and September. “To the extent possible, we want to ensure that any American patient who needs remdesivir can get it,” Health and Human Services Secretary Alex Azar said in a statement. Ohid Yaqub, a senior lecturer at the University of Sussex, called the U.S. agreement “disappointing news.” “It so clearly signals an unwillingness to cooperate with other countries and the chilling effect this has on international agreements about intellectual property rights,” Yaqub said in a statement Until now, Gilead had donated the drug. That ended Tuesday and Gilead this week set the price for new shipments at $2,300 to $3,100 per treatment course. The company is allowing generic makers to supply the drug at much lower prices to 127 poor or middle-income countries. In a statement Wednesday, the California-based Gilead said its agreement with the U.S. allows for any unneeded supplies to be sent to other countries. The company said it is “working as quickly as possible” to enable access worldwide. But it noted that U.S. is seeing a significant rise in COVID-19 cases, while “most EU and other developed countries have reduced their levels of disease considerably.” Early studies testing remdesivir in patients hospitalized with COVID-19 found that those who received the treatment recovered quicker than those who didn’t. It is the only drug licensed by both the U.S. and the European Union as a treatment for those with severe illness from the coronavirus.

World’s first 3D-printed ‘steak’ to hit Israeli restaurants this year

World’s first 3D-printed ‘steak’ to hit Israeli restaurants this year (Source jpost.com)

Israeli company Redefine Meat announces breakthrough in food technology as cultured meat innovators prepare for commercial launch.

Israeli foodies will be able to take a bite out of the world’s first 3D-printed plant-based steak later this year thanks to a breakthrough in food technology.

Redefine Meat, an Israeli company based in Rehovot, has unveiled the “Alt-Steak,” which it says replicates the texture, flavor and appearance of real meat via the use of a patent-pending 3D printing technology.

The ‘Rocket Ship’ Economic Recovery Is Crashing

The ‘Rocket Ship’ Economic Recovery Is Crashing

(Source The New York Times)

The restart of America’s economy has begun to stall as a surge in new coronavirus cases dampens consumer and business activity across states like Florida, Texas and Arizona. After weeks of a pandemic-induced contraction, the economy had begun rebounding faster than many economists expected from mid-April into June, as infection rates stabilized or fell across much of the country and the federal government injected trillions of dollars in the economy. States began to reopen, shoppers increased their spending and employers started to hire back furloughed workers. But there were signs in late May and early June that the pace of recovery was beginning to slow, even before another wave of infections swept through states that had moved quickly to ease limits on public gatherings. In recent weeks, as that wave intensified, real-time economic data began to show the economy moving backward as rising infection fears spooked consumers.

Russia is Eyeing the Mediterranean

Russia is Eyeing the Mediterranean

(Source newsweek.com) As part of its great power exertions Russia seeks more access and freedom of movement in the Mediterranean region, and is bolstering its military footprint to achieve this objective. To address this rising challenge the United States and NATO could develop a more robust southern strategy with a reinforced air and naval presence, respectively. Not since Egypt ordered out Soviet forces in 1972 has Moscow had a major military base in the Mediterranean. This is changing. By upgrading its military posture in the region, Russia seems to believe it can be more successful in projecting power and minimizing the influence of the United States and NATO. In 2015 Russian air power rescued Syria from a growing insurgency that threatened to topple the Assad regime. Now, Damascus is returning the favor. In 2017 Russia announced formation of a “permanent group of forces” at the port of Tartus and nearby Khmeimim air base. Previously, Russia had use only of a modest naval logistics facility at Tartus. Under a new 49-year lease, Moscow is funding a $500 million expansion. It will provide Russian warships with greater capacity for sustained and more distant operations in the Mediterranean Sea.

U.S. coronavirus cases rise by nearly 50,000 in biggest one-day spike of pandemic

U.S. coronavirus cases rise by nearly 50,000 in biggest one-day spike of pandemic

(Source Reuters) New U.S. COVID-19 cases rose by nearly 50,000 on Wednesday, according to a Reuters tally, marking the biggest one-day spike since the start of the pandemic. The record follows a warning by the government’s top infectious diseases expert that the number could soon double to 100,000 cases a day if Americans do not come together to take steps necessary to halt the virus’ resurgent spread, such as wearing masks when unable to practice social distancing. In the first week of June, the United States added about 22,000 new coronavirus cases each day. But as the month progressed, hotspots began to emerge across the Sun Belt. In the last seven days of June, daily new infections almost doubled to 42,000 nationally. Brazil is the only other country to report more than 50,000 new cases in one day. The United States reported at least 49,286 cases on Tuesday. More than half of new U.S. cases each day come from Arizona, California, Florida and Texas, home to 30% of the country’s population. All four states plus 10 others saw new cases more than double in June.

Pizza Hut and Wendy’s Operator NPC Files for Bankruptcy

Pizza Hut and Wendy’s Operator NPC Files for Bankruptcy (Source Bloomberg)

NPC International Inc., the largest franchisee of Pizza Hut restaurants in the U.S., filed for bankruptcy after coronavirus-related shutdowns added to competitive pressures in the restaurant industry.

The closely held company sought Chapter 11 protection in the Southern District of Texas court on Wednesday. NPC, founded in 1962, operates 1,227 Pizza Hut and 393 Wendy’s stores across the U.S., according to court papers. NPC and Pizza Hut have struggled with rising labor and food costs while trying to expand delivery and move away from traditional dine-in restaurants. The Overland Park, Kansas-based company also faces cut-throat competition from rivals such as Domino’s Pizza Inc. and Papa John’s International Inc. The company has $903 million in debt and has pre-negotiated a restructuring agreement with about 90% of its first lien lenders and 17% of second lien lenders. The plan is aimed at reducing the company’s debt, with first lien lenders taking equity and potentially participating in a new cash injection. It also includes the sale of at least part of the company’s restaurants, according to the filing.

What we can do now about Stone Mountain’s 150ft Confederate carving?

What we can do now about Stone Mountain’s 150ft Confederate carving? (Source theguardian.com)

The icon of Stone Mountain Park is one of those memorials. It’s also the largest bas-relief sculpture in the world. Occupying the steep northern slope of the mountain and measuring 76ft tall by 158ft wide, the carving depicts the president of the Confederate States of America, Jefferson Davis, along with the Confederate generals Robert E Lee and Stonewall Jackson. They are riding their favorite horses with their hats over their hearts. Like most southern civil war memorials, their real purpose is to instill in us a 20th-century romanticized narrative about the American south that helps maintain white supremacy through a segregated and unequal society. The story of the sculpture’s “heritage” began one November night in 1915, 50 years after the end of the American civil war. Fifteen men burned a cross atop the mountain and marked the founding of the modern Ku Klux Klan. The next year, Samuel Venable, a Klansman and quarry operator who owned the property, deeded its north face to the United Daughters of the Confederacy (UDC), which planned the original carving. They commissioned the work to a Klan sympathizer – a sculptor named Gutzon Borglum, who after quitting the project in 1925, would go on to carve Mount Rushmore. Another sculptor continued the project for three years until the UDC ran out of money. At that point, only Robert E Lee’s head was complete, and the project languished for 30 years. In 1958, just four years after Brown v Board of Education and two years after the Confederate battle emblem was added to Georgia’s flag (it was removed in 2001), the state purchased Stone Mountain for the creation of a Confederate memorial park. Five years later, in 1963 – the very same year that Martin Luther King proclaimed in his I Have A Dream speech, “Let freedom ring from the Stone Mountain of Georgia!” – the state restarted the effort to finish the Confederate sculpture. Historian Grace Hale explains that to white state leaders at that time, “the carving would demonstrate to the rest of the nation that ‘progress’ meant not Black rights but the maintenance of white supremacy”.

Work on the sculpture continued throughout the 1960s while nearby Atlanta emerged as the cradle of the American civil rights movement, as the federal government passed landmark legislation such as the Voting Rights Act of 1965, and even after King was assassinated in 1968. Remarkably, only two years later in 1970, Spiro Agnew, the vice-president of the United States, was a participant at the sculpture’s unveiling. And over time, the park continued to evolve, with additional homages to white supremacy, including the names of streets like Robert E Lee Boulevard and Stonewall Jackson Drive, and a prominent role for the still-flying Confederate battle flag.  Proposed changes to the Confederate carvings will not be enough. They are only a start, and only small part of a larger effort to ensure that the design and use of public land and public spaces reflect our highest values, and that those values actually shape the laws that regulate our land. And while we don’t know if challenging the law that protects Stone Mountain will work immediately, we do know that eventually, change is going to come. We have this fleeting opportunity to try to make it happen now, and to tell our children we stood up to hate.

2,500-year-old City of David seal shows Jerusalem status in Persian period

2,500-year-old City of David seal shows Jerusalem status in Persian period (Source jpost.com)

The biblical books of Ezra and Nehemiah narrate that when Cyrus became King of Persia, he allowed the Jews to go back to Jerusalem, which had been destroyed by Babylon some 50 years prior. A unique double archaeological discovery in Jerusalem has shed light on life in the city in that period.

A stamp impression on a bulla (seal) made of reused pottery shards has been unearthed twice in the course of archaeological excavations undertaken by the Israel Antiquities Authority and Tel Aviv University in the City of David. According to the researchers, the artifacts most likely date back to the Persian period, about 2,500 years ago, and offer groundbreaking archaeological evidence that even after the terrible destruction it underwent in 586 BCE at the hands of the Babylonians, Jerusalem maintained the rank of an important administrative center. In the Persian period, Judah became a province of the empire, which allowed local rulers to govern it. At the time, Babylon represented the dominant culture of the whole region and was very influential among educated elites, Gadot said. Therefore, it was no surprise that the seal and the seal impressions exhibit Babylonian features, he said. The discovery is considered especially important also because the findings offer insights into life in Jerusalem during the Persian period.

US fighter jets again intercept Russian military aircraft near Alaska

US fighter jets again intercept Russian military aircraft near Alaska (Source cnn.com)

US F-22 fighter jets intercepted four Russian Tu-142 reconnaissance aircraft Saturday entering the Alaskan Air Defense Identification Zone (ADIZ), NORAD said in a statement. Saturday’s intercept follows similar encounters earlier this month in which US F-22 jets intercepted Russian nuclear-capable bombers near Alaska on three separate occasions. The last previous one was Wednesday when US F-22 fighter jets intercepted two Russian IL-38 maritime patrol aircraft entering the Alaskan Zone late Wednesday. NORAD also said the Russian aircraft came within 65 nautical miles south of the Alaskan Aleutian island chain and loitered in the ADIZ for nearly eight hours. It added the Russians remained in international airspace and at no time entered US or Canadian sovereign airspace.

“This year alone, NORAD forces have identified and intercepted Russian military aircraft including bombers, fighters, and maritime patrol aircraft on ten separate occasions when they have flown into the ADIZ,” said NORAD commander Gen. Terrence J. O’Shaughnessy.