Wednesday, June 30, 2021

“Space is for everyone”: Europe’s Space Agency to hire first disabled astronaut

The European Space Agency hopes to hire and launch the world’s first physically disabled astronaut and several hundred would-be para-astronauts have already applied for the role, the ESA announced. The 22-member space program has just closed its latest decennial recruitment call for astronauts and received 22,000 applicants. “We would like to launch an astronaut with a disability, which would be the first time ever, but I’m also happy for ESA because it shows that space is for everyone, and that’s something I’d like to convey,” they added. (Reuters)



A Man Gets 70 Piercings All Over His Body, Including 41 on His Genitals

A 28-year-old man of Naples, Italy, who has more than 70 piercings claims that his radical appearance has become so popular that he has found success on OnlyFans. The professional piercer, got his ears pierced and stretched when he was 15 years old, and went on to cover his body in severe piercings and tattoos during his late teens and early 20s, including a one-and-a-half-inch-wide lip plug and forehead stud. He now has 41 piercings on his genitals alone, including 19 silicone ribs and 22 beads, as well as cheek, nipple, and nostril piercings. He also had his tongue split to make it look like the tongue of a snake. (Folks Paper)


China turns on world’s second-biggest hydropower dam

The first two generating units of the world’s second-biggest hydroelectric dam were officially turned on this week in southwestern China, the government announced. The Baihetan Dam on the Jinsha River, a tributary of the Yangtze, is part of Chinese efforts to curb surging fossil fuel demand by building more hydropower capacity at a time when dams have fallen out of favor in other countries due to environmental complaints. Plans call for the 954-foot-tall Baihetan Dam to have 16 generating units with a capacity of 1 million kilowatts each. That will make it second in size after the Three Gorges Dam, opened in 2003 on the Yangtze, with 22.5 million kilowatts of generating capacity. (Associated Press)


China’s space agency has released new videos and photos of its Zhurong rover on Mars. Zhurong is a solar-powered rover that landed on Mars in May

It is part of China’s Tianwen-1 mission, which began to orbit Mars in February. As well as shots of Zhurong taken by a wireless camera, China also released images of Zhurong’s landing. Zhurong is almost halfway through its 90-day mission on Mars. As of this week, it has traveled a distance of 236 meters. In February, the U.S. rover Perseverance landed on Mars. The two rovers are currently more than 1,000 miles away from each other. NASA has also released videos and audio of Perseverance. (BBC


Naked Florida man arrested, damages patrol car

An 18-year-old man from central Florida is facing criminal mischief charges after deputies say he damaged a patrol car in his birthday suit. Video from the Marion County Sheriff’s Office showed a naked man walking down Highway 441. A deputy pulled up to talk to him. Investigators say the man walked away from the scene of a crash close by. The video shows the suspect walk over to the patrol car where he tried to open the door, but it was locked. The deputy handcuffed the man and put him in the back of the patrol car. The Sheriff’s Office said the man started kicking the rear passenger door of the and yanked on the metal cage. Investigators say the tantrum caused about $1,000 in damage to the car and the door may have to be replaced. He is now cooling off in the Marion County Jail on charges of felony criminal mischief property damage and criminal mischief. The Florida Highway Patrol is investigating the man for the crash. (CBS 12)


Hit by a ransomware attack? Your payment may be deductible

As ransomware attacks surge, the FBI is doubling down on its guidance to affected businesses: Don’t pay the cybercriminals. The United States government also offers a little-noticed incentive for those who do pay: The ransoms may be tax deductible. The IRS offers no formal guidance on ransomware payments, but multiple tax experts said deductions are usually allowed under law and established guidance. It’s a “silver lining” to ransomware victims, as some tax lawyers and accountants put it. But those looking to discourage payments are less sanguine. They fear the deduction is a potentially problematic incentive that could entice businesses to pay ransoms against the advice of law enforcement. At a minimum, they say, the deductibility sends a discordant message to businesses under duress. (ABC News)


Nude sunbathers rescued, fined $1000 each after being startled by deer and getting lost in bush

Police in Australia say two nude sunbathers received emergency assistance and $1000 fines for breaching COVID-19 public health orders after being startled by a deer and becoming lost in the Royal National Park. Announcing 44 fines for breaches of COVID-19 health orders over the past 24 hours, NSW Police Commissioner warned enforcement had ramped up over the first weekend of the lockdown. “Unbelievably, we saw two men sunbaking naked on a beach on the South Coast. They were startled by a deer, ran into the national park and got lost,” the Police Commissioner said. “Not only did they require assistance from SES and police to rescue them, they also both received a ticket for $1000.” The men called for assistance after becoming lost during a visit to a remote beach, police said. Responding to the call, emergency services, assisted by a police helicoper, located a naked 30-year-old man wearing a backpack on the walking track. A second man, 49-years-old and “partially clothed”, was then found nearby following a further search. The men told police they had been on a nearby beach when they were startled by the deer, NSW Police said in a statement. (The Sydney Morning Herald)


Mars may have more underground lakes beneath its South Pole than initially thought

Much more liquid water may lie beneath the south pole of Mars than scientists had thought or there may be something going on down there that they don’t fully understand. An Arizona State University doctoral student and MARSIS co-principal investigator of NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL) in Southern California, analyzed 44,000 observations MARSIS made of the Martian south polar region over 15 years. The duo found dozens of radar reflections similar to the four that have been interpreted as buried lakes, over a wide range of horizontal and vertical distances. But many of the newfound signals were spotted relatively close to the surface, in places seemingly too cold to support liquid water, even the briny stuff hypothesized to exist in the Martian underground. It’s unclear what could keep so many relatively shallow lakes,  if the newfound signals do indeed indicate lakes, from freezing over on frigid Mars. Volcanism is one possibility that researchers have raised. (Space)


Man upset over lack of dipping sauce makes explosive threat to McDonald’s

A 42-year-old man in Ankeny, Iowa faces a felony charge of making a false bomb threat after police said he threatened a McDonald’s employee over the phone when he was upset with his order. The police said the man was unhappy with his order from the McDonald’s and say he called to complain about his order, specifically, not receiving dipping sauce with his nuggets. According to police, he mentioned the store blowing up and someone punching an employee. Arrest records show he admitted to officers that he had made the threat over the phone. The man was arrested Saturday and released from the Polk County Jail after posting bond. He faces a felony charge of making a false report of explosive or incendiary device. (KCCI)


FB’s antitrust suits tossed out

Facebook was handed a big victory earlier this week when a judge tossed out two antitrust complaints, one led by the Federal Trade Commission and the other by more than 40 states. The Judge of the District of Columbia ordered the FTC’s case dismissed because it “failed to plead enough facts” that Facebook’s purchases of Instagram and WhatsApp solidified its social network monopoly. (The New York Times)


Could Juul go up in smoke?

In the first of many legal challenges it faces, Juul has agreed to pay North Carolina $40 million to settle claims it targeted young people with a deceptive campaign about its high nicotine e-cigarettes, causing a wave of addiction. Under the agreement, the company must also send teenage mystery shoppers to stores to check whether they are selling to minors, sell its products behind counters, use age verification systems for online sales and stop using models under age 35 in its ads or posting ads near schools. Pending legal challenges against Juul include:

  • Lawsuits by 13 other states, including California and New York, similar to the one in North Carolina.
  • Investigations by 39 state attorneys general into its marketing and sales practices.
  • A suit by the Federal Trade Commission seeking to unwind its merger with Altria, which has written down its stake in the company to $1.5 billion from $12.8 billion.
  • A decision by the Food and Drug Administration in September as to whether Juul’s products can remain on the market at all.



Tarot card reader made my $20,000 disappear

An Omaha, Nebraska woman told police that she arranged to have a tarot card reader bless the $20,000 she had withdrawn from her bank. The 46-year-old woman in Omaha, Nebraska told officers that she had tracked down a tarot card reader through Facebook Marketplace and arranged to have her money blessed. Two women came to the woman’s residence to perform the blessing. At some time during the ritual, the woman said, the tarot card reader and a woman who came with her switched the $20,000 for a stack of newspaper clippings and a $1 bill. The newspaper clippings and $1 bill were wrapped in foil and sealed in an envelope. After the women left, the 46-year-old opened the envelope to find that her money was gone. Texts between her and the other women have been forwarded to police. The investigation is still ongoing. (Omaha World Herald)


Astronomers detect first convincing evidence of a new type of supernova known as the Goldilocks supernova

A worldwide team led by UC Santa Barbara scientists at Las Cumbres Observatory has discovered the first convincing evidence for a new type of stellar explosion, an electron-capture supernova. While they have been theorized for 40 years, real-world examples have been elusive. They are thought to arise from the explosions of massive super-asymptotic giant branch (SAGB) stars, for which there has also been scant evidence. The discovery also sheds new light on the thousand-year mystery of the supernova from A.D. 1054 that was visible all over the world in the daytime, before eventually becoming the Crab Nebula. Historically, supernovae have fallen into two main types: thermonuclear and iron-core collapse. A thermonuclear supernova is the explosion of a white dwarf star after it gains matter in a binary star system. These white dwarfs are the dense cores of ash that remain after a low-mass star (one up to about 8 times the mass of the sun) reaches the end of its life. An iron core-collapse supernova occurs when a massive star, one more than about 10 times the mass of the sun, runs out of nuclear fuel and its iron core collapses, creating a black hole or neutron star. Between these two main types of supernovae are electron-capture supernovae. These stars stop fusion when their cores are made of oxygen, neon and magnesium; they aren’t massive enough to create iron. (The Current)


Wednesday Keeps Moving On With:

  • Asteroid Day
  • California Avocado Day
  • Disabled Veterans Day
  • Leap Second Time Adjustment Day
  • Meteor Watch Day
  • NOW (National Organization For Women) Day
  • Outfit Of The Day Day
  • Parchment Cooking Day (Last Wednesday in June)
  • Social Media Day


Historical Events

  • 350 – Roman usurper Nepotianus, of the Constantinian dynasty, is defeated and killed by troops of the usurper Magnentius, in Rome.
  • 1794 – Native American forces under Blue Jacket attack Fort Recovery.
  • 1905 – Albert Einstein publishes the article On the Electrodynamics of Moving Bodies, in which he introduces special relativity.
  • 1941 – World War II: Operation Barbarossa – Germany captures Lviv, Ukraine.
  • 1944 – World War II: The Battle of Cherbourg ends with the fall of the strategically valuable port to American forces.
  • 1960 – Congo gains independence from Belgium.
  • 1971 – Ohio ratifies the 26th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution, reducing the voting age to 18, thereby putting the amendment into effect.
  • 1985 – Thirty-nine American hostages from the hijacked TWA Flight 847 are freed in Beirut after being held for 17 days.
  • 1991 – 32 miners are killed when a coal mine catches fire in the Donbass region of Ukraine and releases toxic gas.
  • 2009 – Yemenia Flight 626 crashes into the Indian Ocean, near Comoros, killing all but one of the 153 passengers and crew on board.