This weekend, a 56-year old NASA satellite is set to be retired in a glorious blaze of fire.
The Orbiting Geophysics Observatory 1 (OGO-1) satellite studied how the Sun affects the Earth’s magnetic field between 1964 and 1969, according to Space.com. Now, after roughly 50 years of peaceful retirement, the satellite will come back home — and incinerate as it re-enters the atmosphere.
Hearing that a 1,000-pound satellite is screaming back to Earth might give you pause, but NASA has stressed that OGO-1’s dramatic demise is all part of the plan.
“The spacecraft will break up in the atmosphere and poses no threat to our planet — or anyone on it — and this is a normal final operational occurrence for retired spacecraft,” reads a NASA press release.
OGO-1, Space.com reports, has been the last bastion of the OGO program for years now. All five of the other OGO satellites, all launched in the 1960s, have already been retired in a similar fashion.
Now, decades after it stopped being useful to NASA, it’s time for the original OGO to come home as well.
Planning to work and receive benefits? Keep these key points in mind.
Social Security is a complex program with lots of intricate rules. The more you learn about it, the easier it’ll be to make the most of your benefits. Social Security has specific rules when it comes to working and collecting benefits at the same time. Here are a few things you should know that might affect your plans.
1. You’re allowed to do it
One big misconception about Social Security is that you can only claim benefits once you stop working. Not so. You are allowed to hold down a job and collect benefits at the same time, but whether you get to keep those benefits in full depends on your age and the amount of money you earn from being employed.
When you work and receive benefits simultaneously, you’re subject to what’s known as the earnings test. If your earnings exceed a certain threshold that changes from year to year, you’ll have some of your Social Security benefits withheld.
For 2020, the earnings test limit is $18,240. Make more than that, and you’ll have $1 in benefits withheld for every $2 you earn. But there are exceptions, which we’ll discuss in our next point.
Image source: Getty Images.
2. You can earn as much as you like without impacting your benefits once you reach full retirement age
You’re entitled to your full monthly Social Security benefit based on your personal earnings history once you reach full retirement age, which is 66, 67, or somewhere in between, depending on the year you were born.
You can file for Social Security as early as age 62, but in doing so, you’ll reduce your monthly benefit on a permanent basis. And if you’re working and collecting Social Security before full retirement age, you’ll be subject to the earnings test limit of $18,240 this year.
But the earnings test no longer applies once you reach full retirement age, so if you’ve hit that point, your salary won’t impact your Social Security benefits at all. Furthermore, if you’ll reach full retirement age this year, you get a higher earnings test limit: $48,600. And if you exceed that limit, you’ll have $1 in Social Security withheld for every $3 you earn.
3. Any benefits withheld are not lost permanently
At this point, you may be thinking that working and collecting Social Security simultaneously before full retirement age isn’t worth it, since you’ll risk losing some of your benefits. But actually, those benefits will merely be withheld — they won’t be forfeited for good.
Each dollar you lose will be paid back to you later in the form of a higher monthly benefit once you reach full retirement age. So if it makes sense for you to hold down a part-time job while collecting Social Security, don’t turn that work opportunity down for fear of losing some of your benefits forever.
There are plenty of reasons why you might work and collect Social Security at the same time. If your hours at work are cut, for example, you might need your benefits to make ends meet. And if you’re retired and collecting benefits but are growing increasingly restless, you might need a part-time gig for the sake of your mental health. Just be sure to read up on the rules regarding these scenarios so you know what to expect.
P.S.G., the perennial French champion, will face Bayern Munich, Germany’s most decorated club, on Sunday.
Paris St.-Germain and Bayern Munich will meet on Sunday in the final of the Champions League, European soccer’s richest and grandest club competition.
Bayern is chasing its sixth Champions League title, but its first since 2013. P.S.G. is appearing in the final for the first, and hoping to become only the second French club — after Olympique Marseille in 1993 — to lift the trophy.
“This is exactly why I came here,” P.S.G.’s French striker Kylian Mbappé told reporters on Saturday. “I have always said that I wanted to make history for my country. This is a chance.”
Bayern Munich has already thumped Barcelona and another French club, Lyon, in Lisbon. P.S.G.’s star-studded, Qatari-financed team advanced with a late rally against Italy’s Atalanta and a comprehensive dismissal of Germany’s second-best entry, RB Leipzig.
Here’s what you need to know ahead of Sunday’s match.
How can I watch?
Sunday’s game will be broadcast in the United States on the CBS Sports Network and, in Spanish, on Univision. Television coverage begins at 2:30 p.m. Eastern but — and this may be important as you schedule your day — kickoff is at 3 p.m.
How did the teams get here?
Sunday’s game is a throwback of sorts: the first meeting in the final since 1998 of teams who entered the tournament as domestic champions.
That is, of course, how it used to be in the days of the old European Cup, when you had to win your home league just to gain entry to the competition. The creation of the Champions League in 1992 changed all of that, opening the door to extra teams (from the big leagues, mostly) and extra revenues but also setting the stage for all-Italian, all-German, all-Spanish and all-English finals.
Tradition is still a powerful force — P.S.G. has won seven straight French titles, and Bayern Munich eight in a row in Germany — but you take your nostalgia where you can.
Bayern Munich emerged from the group stage an easy winner over Tottenham, Olympiakos and Red Star Belgrade. In the knockouts, it easily dispatched Chelsea (7-1 on aggregate), Barcelona (8-2 — ouch!) and Lyon (3-0). Bayern is 10-0 in this year’s competition.
P.S.G. also cruised out of the group stage, producing five wins and a draw in a group that included Real Madrid, Club Brugge and Galatasaray. It overcame a first-leg deficit to oust Dortmund in the round of 16, and then rallied — with two goals after the 90th minute — to beat Atalanta, 2-1, in its quarterfinal in Lisbon. RB Leipzig went much easier (3-0) in the semifinals on Tuesday.
Unlike Bayern, which can field a handful of players who were present when it won the competition in 2013, P.S.G. has never played in the Champions League final before this season.
Help me look smart when I’m with my friends later.
Our chief soccer correspondent, Rory Smith, can help you with that. Here’s his preview:
There is no such thing as a bad Champions League final. This is the culmination of the European season, after all, the single biggest club game of the year (and possibly the biggest annual sporting event on the planet, Super Bowl included). When the stakes are that high, the drama and the tension is inherent.
Many turn into exhibitions, where one team is so obviously superior to the other that the outcome starts to feel preordained: Barcelona, say, in 2009, 2011 and 2015, or Real Madrid in 2017 and 2018.
The true classics are the exceptions: In recent years, perhaps only Liverpool’s extraordinary win in 2005, Chelsea’s remarkable resistance in 2012 and Bayern’s most recent victory, in 2013, could justify that description.
Despite the eeriness of an empty stadium and the fact that it is August, there are reasons to believe that 2020 might earn a place in the canon. Both Bayern and P.S.G. have star quality: Lewandowski and Davies, Neymar and Mbappé. And the two teams share many other similarities: Both are national champions who play on the front foot, and both are as happy in possession as they are dangerous on the counterpunch. Also, both have very little recent experience of losing, boast fearsome attacks and, certainly in Bayern’s case, have slightly questionable defenses. P.S.G. has been built to win this tournament; Bayern is on the cusp of a domestic and European treble.
Bayern’s imperious form — particularly that dismantling of Barcelona — has been enough for most to assume the German team is the favorite, but P.S.G. will have seen the chances created by Lyon in the semifinals (and even by Barcelona before its collapse) and will have taken heart. Neither team is without its flaws. Both teams have an abundance of strengths. That is precisely how a Champions League final should be poised. There is never a bad one. This should clear that bar with ease.
Isn’t this game usually played in the spring?
Yes. But like so many things this year, the coronavirus pandemic changed that.
The Champions League final was originally scheduled for May 30 in Istanbul, but when the tournament ground to a halt in March, halfway through the round of 16, tournament organizers had to draw up a new plan. After some intense lobbying, Turkey was out (Istanbul will get next year’s final) and Portugal was in. Two weeks in Lisbon would decide the biggest prize in European soccer.
In fact, as Tariq Panja and Rory Smith of The Times reported earlier this month, the entire format was scrapped and reshaped to suit new needs: isolation, testing, speed and — perhaps most of all — TV. There were rules about where to stay and how many bottles of water would be provided and even where players could warm up, and where they absolutely, definitely could not.
“The entire knockout round, in fact, is an abrupt break from history,” Tariq and Rory wrote, “and not one UEFA — the competition’s organizer, and European soccer’s governing body — is eager to repeat.”
Instead of months of travel and matches, the eight quarterfinalists gathered in Lisbon for two weeks of knockout games. Four clubs went home within days, and while UEFA seemed to have a policy in place for any possibility — including positive tests — it appears to have navigated the schedule without incident.
COVID-19 cases and deaths continue to rise in the United States. Some states are being hit especially hard. While researchers and physicians have learned a lot about the disease caused by novel coronavirus SARS-CoV-2, there seems to be no end in sight to the ongoing pandemic.
The good news, though, is that a frantic — and massive — effort is under way to develop vaccines that could potentially prevent the spread of COVID-19. Here’s everything you need to know about the coronavirus vaccine race.
Image source: Getty Images.
How many vaccine candidates are being developed?
As of July 31, 2020, there are 165 novel coronavirus vaccine candidates in development, according to the World Health Organization. However, 139 of these candidates are in preclinical testing. Many of these candidates might not advance into clinical testing in humans. The good news is that 26 COVID-19 vaccine candidates are already in clinical testing.
Which vaccine candidates are in the lead?
Clinical testing of vaccines includes three phases. Candidates must successfully complete phase 1 testing to go on to phase 2 and then must successfully complete phase 2 testing to advance into phase 3.
There are currently five COVID-19 vaccine candidates in phase 3 testing, also commonly referred to as late-stage testing. Chinese drugmaker Sinopharm claims two of these candidates. Another Chinese company, Sinovac Biotech, also has a COVID-19 vaccine candidate in phase 3 testing. The other two late-stage candidates are AZD1222, which is being developed by AstraZeneca(NYSE:AZN) and the University of Oxford, and Moderna‘s (NASDAQ:MRNA) mRNA-1273.
In addition, Pfizer(NYSE:PFE) and BioNTech(NASDAQ:BNTX) recently began a phase 2/3 clinical study evaluating COVID-19 vaccine candidate BNT162b2.
How do the leading vaccine candidates differ?
The vaccine candidates from Sinopharm and Sinovac use inactivated (dead) coronavirus cells that are introduced to the body. AstraZeneca and the University of Oxford are using what’s called a non-replicating viral vector. This approach uses a weakened version of an adenovirus (which causes the common cold) to deliver genetic material from the SARS-CoV-2 virus.
Moderna and the Pfizer/BioNTech partnership use a messenger RNA (mRNA) approach. While DNA contains all of the instructions for building proteins, mRNA carries those instructions to ribosomes, which serve as the body’s protein-making factories. The COVID-19 vaccine candidates developed by Moderna and Pfizer/BioNTech modify mRNA to cause ribosomes to produce spike proteins that are identical to those found in SARS-CoV-2.
The ultimate goal of all of these vaccines is to cause the body to develop antigens that remain in the blood and help fight off future viral attacks.
Which vaccines not among the leaders could be winners?
Two COVID-19 vaccine candidates currently in clinical testing have received significant funding and appear to be especially promising.
There’s also an experimental COVID-19 vaccine that hasn’t advanced into clinical testing that scored a major U.S. government funding deal recently. Sanofi(NASDAQ:SNY) and GlaxoSmithKline(NYSE:GSK) were awarded $2.1 billion for up to 100 million doses of a preclinical coronavirus vaccine candidate.
How soon might a vaccine be available?
In the past, it’s taken years for vaccines to advance through clinical testing and win regulatory approvals. However, the normal timeline is being accelerated greatly as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic.
Opinions vary as to how soon a coronavirus vaccine will be available. Some CEOs of companies making vaccine candidates think their COVID-19 vaccine candidates could be ready by the end of this year. Others believe that early 2021 is more likely. However, there are also some less optimistic predictions that it could take much longer before a safe and effective COVID-19 vaccine is ready.
What are the chances that no vaccine will be safe and effective?
You’ll probably be happy to learn that the chances that none of the COVID-19 vaccine candidates in development will be safe and effective are quite low. Nearly three out of four vaccines that entered phase 3 testing between 2006 and 2015 went on to win FDA approval, according to biopharmaceutical industry organization BIO.
Since there are currently six coronavirus vaccine candidates in late-stage testing or close to it, the probability that none of them will win approval based on BIO’s historical analysis is only one in 3,470. If we included all of the other candidates in phase 1 and phase 2 clinical testing, the odds are heavily in favor of at least one of them achieving success.
Which coronavirus vaccine stocks are good picks?
The Motley Fool’s mission is to make the world smarter, happier, and richer. Therefore, we can’t leave out addressing the investing angle of the coronavirus vaccine race.
If your investing style is more conservative, big pharma stocks like AstraZeneca and Pfizer could be attractive. Both companies are leaders in the scramble to develop a COVID-19 vaccine. Both have landed major supply contracts already. And both AstraZeneca and Pfizer have other growth drivers in addition to their COVID-19 programs.
On the other hand, if you’re an aggressive investor, Moderna and Novavax might be more to your liking. Both biotech stocks have soared this year. But if their COVID-19 vaccine candidates are successful in clinical testing, Moderna and Novavax could go a lot higher.
Politics|Asked About Black Americans Killed by Police, Trump Says, ‘So Are White People’
The president rejected the fact that Black people suffer disproportionately from police brutality and made startling remarks about the Confederate flag and a recent confrontation in St. Louis.
President Trump, whose re-election prospects have dimmed as Americans question his handling of the coronavirus outbreak and race relations, on Tuesday stoked racial grievances yet again with a series of startling remarks about the Confederate flag, victims of police violence and a St. Louis couple who pointed guns at protesters peacefully marching by their house.
Mr. Trump added to his long record of racially inflammatory comments during an interview with CBS News, in which he brushed off a question about Black people killed by police officers, saying that white people are killed in greater numbers.
Mr. Trump reacted angrily when asked about the issue, which has led to nationwide protests calling for major law enforcement changes.
“Why are African-Americans still dying at the hands of law enforcement in this country?” the interviewer, Catherine Herridge of CBS News, asked the president.
“What a terrible question to ask,” Mr. Trump responded. “So are white people. More white people, by the way.”
Statistics show that while more white Americans are killed by the police over all, people of color are killed at higher rates. A federal study that examined lethal force used by the police from 2009 to 2012 found that a majority of victims were white, but the victims were disproportionately Black. Black people had a fatality rate at the hands of police officers that was 2.8 times as high as that of white people.
In a separate interview published on Tuesday with the conservative website Townhall.com, Mr. Trump falsely claimed that a white couple in St. Louis who confronted peaceful marchers outside their home with guns had been on the verge of being beaten and having their home burned down.
“They were going to be beat up badly, and the house was going to be totally ransacked and probably burned down,” Mr. Trump said.
Video of the incident, which became a flash point in the national debate over racial inequality, showed that the protesters at no point physically threatened the couple.
The president’s remarks were the latest example of his refusal to acknowledge the racial discrimination that even many in his own party have said must be addressed. But Mr. Trump, who recently retweeted a video of a supporter shouting “white power” and said he would oppose a bipartisan effort in Congress to remove Confederate names from military bases, has displayed no intention of trying to bridge the country’s racial divide.
Asked in the CBS interview how he felt about the use of the Confederate battle flag in public settings like NASCAR races, the president said: “With me, it’s freedom of speech. Very simple. Like it, don’t like it, it’s freedom of speech.”
Asked if he understood that the flag was a painful symbol to many people as a reminder of slavery, Mr. Trump said, “Well, people love it and I don’t view — I know people that like the Confederate flag and they’re not thinking about slavery.” He added, “I just think it’s freedom of speech, whether it’s Confederate flags or Black Lives Matter or anything else you want to talk about.”
Four months into a pandemic that has cost more than 136,000 lives in the United States, and nearly two months after the killing of a Black man by a Minneapolis police officer sparked a nationwide outpouring of anger over racial injustice, Mr. Trump still only rarely mentions the pain that both crises have caused many Americans. Rather than offer sympathy and compassion, he provokes and attacks.
“His agenda is the most extreme platform of any major party nominee, by far, in American history,” Mr. Trump said, calling Mr. Biden’s career a “gift to the Chinese Communist Party.”
Over the course of his short time as a national political figure, Mr. Trump has used race, religion and ethnicity to divide Americans. Five years ago, he announced that he was seeking the presidency by denigrating Mexican migrants as rapists and murderers. As a candidate he then called for “a total and complete shutdown of Muslims entering the United States.”
He initially refused to disavow the endorsement of a former Ku Klux Klan leader, David Duke. He has insulted the intelligence of Black professional athletes and questioned their patriotism.
Since the death of George Floyd in Minneapolis, he has not backed down but doubled down on making racially divisive and sometimes overtly racist comments. He has called the coronavirus the “Kung flu.” He falsely accused a Black NASCAR driver of perpetrating a hoax for reporting that a noose had been left near his car and criticized the racing franchise for prohibiting Confederate flags at its events — while also claiming to have done “more for Black Americans, in fact, than any President in U.S. history,” with the “possible exception” of Abraham Lincoln.
The Emirates Hope Mission, scheduled to launch this Friday, is the first Arab attempt to reach the Red Planet. Here’s how the UAE will endeavor to make history.
The Hope spacecraft, or Al Amal, was supposed to launch today from the Tanegashima Space Center in Japan, but bad weather has bumped the launch to Friday, July 17. The 3,000-pound (1,350-kilogram) spacecraft—essentially a Martian weather satellite—will be delivered to space and nudged toward Mars atop a Mitsubishi Heavy Industries H-2A rocket. Come Friday, you’ll be able to watch the action here.
Hope, which will enter into orbit around Mars in February 2021, will be used to study the planet’s atmosphere and weather. Assuming all goes well, this will mark the first Arab mission to Mars, or any other planet for that matter.
The Emirates Mars Mission (EMM) is one of three scheduled missions to the Red Planet during the now-open launch window, the others being NASA’s Perseverance rover, launching in two weeks, and China’s Tianwen-1 lander. (The European and Russian ExoMars mission had to be postponed due to technical delays and the covid-19 pandemic.) This launch window happens once every 26 months, offering the most direct route from Earth to the Red Planet.
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Here are five things to know about this historic mission.
Made in the UAE—but With a Little Help From Friends
In the works since 2013, the Hope project was planned, managed, and implemented by an Emirati team, with oversight and funding coming from the UAE Space Agency, according to Arab News.
It cost the UAE some $200 million to build, which includes launch expenses contracted out to Mitsubishi Heavy Industries. That’s a fairly modest price tag considering the $670 million it cost NASA to build the MAVEN spacecraft, a comparable mission launched to Mars in 2013. Still, nothing compares to India’s Mars Orbiter Mission, with its remarkably low price tag of $74 million.
The UAE had never embarked on a project like this before, so it smartly sought out expertise from U.S. institutions, including the Laboratory for Atmospheric and Space Physics (LASP) at the University of Colorado Boulder, which had previously worked on the MAVEN mission. As BBC reports, Emirati and U.S. engineers collaborated on the design and manufacturing of the spacecraft.
“It’s one thing to tell somebody how to ride a bike but until you’ve done it, you don’t really understand what it’s like. Well, it’s the same with a spacecraft,” Brett Landin, a senior systems engineer at LASP, told the BBC. “I could give you the process for fuelling a spacecraft, but until you’ve put on an escape suit and transferred 800 kg [1,765 pounds] of highly volatile rocket fuel from storage tanks into the spacecraft, you don’t really know what it’s like.”
A Point of National Pride
The Emirates Hope Mission will coincide with the UAE’s upcoming 50th anniversary as a nation, which is likely no coincidence.
Speaking to SpaceflightNow, Omran Sharaf, project manager for the EMM, said the “identity of the mission is not just about the UAE, it’s also for the Arab world.” The mission is “supposed to inspire the Arab youth, and send a message of hope to them, and a message that basically tells them if a country like the UAE is able to reach Mars in less than 50 years, then you guys can do much more given the history you have, given the human talent that you have,” he said.
An Arab expedition to Mars will undoubtedly kindle a renewed sense of national pride, but the mission, it is hoped, will also “inspire future Arab generations to pursue space science,” according to the EMM website. What’s more, a “sustainable, future-proof economy is a knowledge-based economy,” writes the UAE Space Agency.
The investment in STEM fields, and space tech in particular, is a smart move for the UAE, especially in consideration of tanking oil prices.
A Unique Orbit for Doing Science
Once at Mars, Hope will enter into a unique equatorial orbit high above the Red Planet. Moving in the same direction as the planet’s rotation, Hope will complete a single orbit once every 55 hours or so. This will allow the probe’s instruments to gaze at a single target for prolonged periods.
“The desire to see every piece of real estate at every time of day ended up making the orbit very large and elliptical,” LASP scientist David Brain told the BBC. “By making those choices, we will for example be able to hover over Olympus Mons (the largest volcano in the Solar System) as Olympus Mons moves through different times of day. And at other times, we’ll be letting Mars spin underneath us,” to which he added: “We’ll get full disc images of Mars, but our camera has filters, so we’ll be doing science with those images—getting global views with different goggles on, if you like.”
Once in orbit, Hope will study the Martian atmosphere on a global scale. Data gathered by the probe will be used to track changes as influenced by the shifting seasons and as the Martian day turns to night. The probe will also be used to study the planet’s hydrogen and oxygen, some of which is leaching out into space; Hope will study weather patterns in both the lower and middle atmosphere to figure out why.
The Hope probe should also answer questions about Mars’s early history, and how this planet, once wet and blanketed by a thick atmosphere, became the cold, dry, and desolate place it is today.
Being the weather satellite that it is, the probe will improve our understanding of severe weather conditions on Mars, including gigantic dust towers and global dust storms that appear from time to time, such as the epic one that ended the Opportunity mission in 2018.
“We are the very first weather satellite for Mars,” explained Sarah al-Amiri, deputy project manager for the Hope mission, during a webinar back in June. “Past missions have only sporadically studied atmospheric conditions, looking at specific locations at specific times. It’s like me telling you to study Earth at different times of the day in Alaska, London, and the UAE, and then be able to form a complete picture of the weather and climate,” she said.
At a more broader, conceptual level, the Hope satellite will be of assistance to scientists trying to assess the planet’s prior or even current ability to host life. And in addition to refining our sense of Mars as a geological system, Hope will prepare scientists for a future crewed mission to the Red Planet, according to the UAE Space Agency.
The camera, called Emirates eXploration Imager (EXI), will capture high-resolution images of Mars, measure the depth of water ice in the atmosphere, and study the Martian ozone layer, among other things.
The Emirates Mars Infrared Spectrometer (EMIRS) will scan the lower Martian atmosphere in the infrared band, allowing for observations of dust, ice clouds, and water vapor. This instrument can also take the temperature of the surface and lower atmosphere.
The Emirates Mars Ultraviolet Spectrometer (EMUS) will be used to measure the distribution of carbon monoxide, oxygen, and hydrogen at various altitudes and across the Martian seasons. With this data, scientists will compile a three-dimensional map, showing the distribution of oxygen and hydrogen in the atmosphere.
Hope should dramatically improve our understanding of the Red Planet, but we’ll have to wait until early next year for the data to start pouring in. Best of luck to the UAE as the team p
On May 30, the pair became the first NASA astronauts to launch on a commercial rocket to the station, hitching a ride on vehicles manufactured by Elon Musk’s SpaceX, not NASA.
A day after lifting off from the Kennedy Space Center, their Dragon spacecraft, which they named Endeavor, docked with the station autonomously, and the duo were greeted on the station by fellow NASA astronaut Chris Cassidy, as well as Russian cosmonauts Anatoly Ivanishin and Ivan Vagner.
The journey marked the end of a long fallow period of launches for NASA, which had not flown humans from United States soil since 2011, when the space shuttle program was retired.
“Certainly, the highlight for both Doug and I was the initial arrival at space station, coming through the hatch again and being on board after several years of working on a new spacecraft,” Behnken said in an interview from the station this week.
Since then, he has performed two spacewalks with Cassidy, successfully replacing batteries on the outside of the station. During the spacewalk, they were able to see the Dragon spacecraft docked to the station, and Cassidy turned and took a photo.
“It was just awesome to be able to look back and snap a picture, and I think we got a good daylight shot,” Behnken said.
Hurley has spent a fair amount of time in the station’s cupola, a small dome with six windows that provide some of the best views. As the station orbits the Earth every 90 minutes, traveling 17,500 mph, he’s captured stunning images from all around the globe, posting them to his Twitter account.
And then on Thursday, he posted a shot of the Earth transitioning from day to night, one half dark, the other light. It is a peaceful image with no hint of the turmoil of the coronavirus pandemic or the social unrest following the death of George Floyd while in policy custody.
“Look at the atmosphere!” Tweeted Hurley’s wife, Karen Nyberg, a retired NASA astronaut. “It is such a gorgeous blue, and so thin. @Astro_Doug has been taking some beautiful pictures of earth from @Space_Station. They serve as reminder to me that this amazing home belongs to all of us, together.”
“A new age of American ambition has now begun,” he said. “Those of us who saw the spectacular and unforgettable lift off this afternoon watched more than an act of history. We watched an act of heroism.”
The Trump campaign sought to seize on the launch with an ad titled “Make Space Great Again.” But the ad was quickly criticized by Democrats, who pointed out that NASA’s “commercial crew” program — the hiring of private companies to fly its astronauts — began under President Barack Obama. Others said it violated NASA rules that prohibit the agency from endorsing “a commercial product, service or activity.”
Nyberg, who was featured in the ad with her son, said on Twitter that she found it “disturbing that a video image of me and my son is being used in political propaganda without my knowledge or consent. That is wrong.”
Now, NASA and the astronauts are turning their focus to the return trip. At the moment, the space agency says the soonest Behnken and Hurley could return is Aug. 2. If all goes well, the Dragon would undock from the station, fire its thrusters and descend through the atmosphere.
The entire mission is a test to see how SpaceX’s Dragon capsule performs, and while NASA said its ascent went flawlessly, there still are many risks ahead.
As it plunges down, the thickening air will cause friction and generate enormous heat, testing the capsule’s heat shield. Then the spacecraft’s parachutes are to deploy to slow the vehicle further. SpaceX has struggled with its parachute designs in the past, however.
“Parachutes are way harder than they look,” Musk said in an interview with The Post before the launch. “The Apollo program actually had a real morale issue with the parachutes because they were so damn hard. They had people quitting over how hard the parachutes were. And then you know we almost had people quit at SpaceX over how hard the parachutes were. I mean they soldiered through, but, man, the parachutes are hard.”
Another risk will be landing in the ocean. American astronauts have not splashed down in the water since 1975 — the space shuttles landed on land, as do the Russian Soyuz spacecraft.
Behnken said he and Hurley expect to spend about an hour bobbing on the ocean surface before they are hoisted on the deck of a ship. SpaceX has been training extensively for the recovery mission, working to get the astronauts to safety as quickly as possible, but that will also be a key test.
“I wouldn’t call it nervousness,” Behnken said. “But one of the areas that both Doug and I really need to make sure that we’re prepared for is that if something doesn’t go as smoothly as expected with that recovery operation and we end up in that capsule for a little bit longer.”
He added: “We need to be on top of our game, both physically and mentally.”
On Sunday, it was a common theme in Los Angeles, where Mayor Eric Garcetti unveiled a proposal to divert $100 million to $150 million from the Police Department’s budget to programs that would benefit communities of color — a response that many said didn’t go nearly far enough, while others said such a move would have been unimaginable just weeks ago.
But what does it actually mean to defund a police department?
My colleague Dionne Searcey tackled this question in more detail here, but on a very broad level, what it means is to stop spending so much public money on police departments — where gear and pay are expensive — and instead use that money on other things that activists say would better serve the community.
That could include mental health resources, housing and education. With more funding for those services, activists say, more people would be cared for, and crime and violence would decrease.
When I spoke with Marqueece Harris-Dawson, a Los Angeles City Council member, he mentioned the example of police officers escorting people experiencing homelessness onto buses to go to shelters, only because they were the only public workers able to do the job.
“If all you’ve got in your toolbox is a hammer, you tend to think everything is a nail,” he said. “And that disables society as a whole and ends up with death and injury, for particularly African-American young men, but also people of color in general.”
The new system could follow various models that have been established in cities around the country. In Eugene, Ore., a team called CAHOOTS — Crisis Assistance Helping Out on the Streets — deploys a medic and a crisis worker with mental health training to emergency calls.
Mayor Liccardo said in a statement that defunding San Jose’s Police Department would “hurt the very people who have suffered the most from systemic racism.”
He suggested that shrinking the department would lead to “rich, white communities and businesses in suburban malls” hiring private security guards.
In Los Angeles, LAist reported that the director of the L.A. Police Protective League, which represents L.A.P.D. officers, blasted Mr. Garcetti as “unstable,” over his proposal to cut funding. Jamie McBride, the director, said cuts could lead to slower responses to 911 calls and would cause “crime to go out of control.”
The law that eventually passed represented a compromise between two bills — one backed by the A.C.L.U. and families of police-shooting victims, and the other backed by police unions, Laurel Rosenhall of CalMatters reported.
The debate highlighted divides even among Democrats over how to police the police, and underscored the power of police unions, which, as my colleagues reported, have continued to be outspoken defenders of officers accused of misconduct, even as rates of union membership have declined more broadly.
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“We worked hard to flatten the curve in California,” said Carmela Coyle, president of the California Hospital Association. “Now we have a surge in the Imperial Valley because the situation is so severe in Mexicali.” [The New York Times]
“It’s heartbreaking to see that we are still nowhere.” More than a decade later, Oscar Grant III’s mother feels as if she’s reliving her son’s death. [BuzzFeed News]
A man who helped train the San Jose police about bias was seriously injured when police officers shot him with rubber bullets as he tried to get them to stop shooting at protesters at close range. [ABC7]
Pacific Gas & Electric will move its headquarters to Oakland after more than a century in San Francisco. The troubled utility said it’s a cost-saving measure. [The San Francisco Chronicle]
How is Vegas, now that it’s reopened? Well, experts say, casinos are like cruise ships on land. [The New York Times]
Neighbors say living next door to a TikTok house in Bel Air is a lot like you’d imagine: kind of terrible. [The New York Times]
And Finally …
Last month, I wrote about students at the University of California, Berkeley, who — facing a canceled in-person commencement — built the campus on Minecraft and had their graduation celebration there.
It was one of the ways thousands of soon-to-be graduates across California are adapting to a reality fundamentally changed from when they entered school. (Some 57,000 students are set to earn a degree from the University of California system alone.)
Graduates are facing a bleak job market, and massive social changes are underway.
Jill Cowan grew up in Orange County, went to school at U.C. Berkeley and has reported all over the state, including the Bay Area, Bakersfield and Los Angeles — but she always wants to see more. Follow along here or on Twitter.
California Today is edited by Julie Bloom, who grew up in Los Angeles and graduated from U.C. Berkeley.
The TV host’s slurred speech and eye changes during the American Idol finale alarmed fans, but his rep has clarified that Seacrest did not suffer this health emergency.
Some fans watching the American Idol finale on Sunday night were distracted by host Ryan Seacrest, who appeared to slur his speech. His right eye also seemed to be enlarged. Many people took to Twitter to express concern that Seacrest had suffered from a stroke. However, his rep assured CNN that was not the case.
“Ryan did not have any kind of stroke last night,” the rep said in an email statement. “Like many people right now, Ryan is adjusting to the new normal and finding work-home balance, with the added stress of having to put on live shows from home.”
By the end of the show, when Just Sam was announced as the winner, Seacrest seemed to be back to his normal self. But he didn’t appear on Monday’s live broadcast of Live with Kelly and Ryan. His rep told CNN that he was “in need of rest” and “took a well-deserved day off.”
It’s good news that Seacrest’s symptoms were not related to a stroke, which is a serious health emergency often characterized by similar speech and facial changes.
“A stroke occurs when blood flow to the brain is suddenly interrupted, causing a part of the body to stop working,” Cen Zhang, MD, vascular neurologist at NYU Langone Health, tells Health. “When parts of the brain do not receive blood flow, these areas cannot function properly and thus cannot send out signals to the rest of the body. Initially, the brain can compensate, but if the flow remains blocked, those tissues in the brain die.”
It’s not surprising that many people were concerned about Seacrest. Language or speech difficulty is one of the main symptoms of a stroke, Ian Katznelson, MD, a neurologist at Northwestern Medicine Lake Forest Hospital in Chicago, Illinois, tells Health. Other symptoms include loss of symmetry of the face on one side or the other, loss of function of limbs on one side of the body or another, and loss of sensation. “The symptoms depend on the part of the brain involved,” explains Dr. Katznelson.
Swelling around one eye—as Seacrest seemed to experience—is not typically a symptom of stroke, says Dr. Zhang. However, double vision, blurry vision, or loss of vision are possible eye-related signs.
Whatever stroke symptoms a person experiences, the key is that they come on abruptly. This means you don’t get much warning at all—if any. Dr. Zhang says this sudden onset of symptoms is the most important factor distinguishing stroke from other conditions, and it means taking quick action is crucial.
Dr. Zhang recommends remembering the acronym “BE FAST,” where B stands for sudden balance problems and includes dizziness, veering, and difficulty walking; E stands for Eyes and includes double vision, blurry vision, and the loss of vision; F stands for Facial weakness; A stands for Arm weakness or numbness; S stands for Speech changes including slurred speech, difficulty producing words, or confusion; and T stands for Time, which means notifying 911 right away if you notice any of these symptoms in yourself or another person.
“A stroke can be life-threatening, but it can also be reversible using emergency therapies, if the person is evaluated quickly,” says Dr. Zhang. These therapies include a clot-buster medication, called alteplase, and a procedure to retrieve the clot from the brain. Both of these are time-sensitive treatments and may not be options if there is a delay in seeking medical help.
The most common causes of a stroke include blockages of the arteries by atherosclerosis (hardening of the arteries); blockages of the arteries by clots that formed in other body regions, commonly the heart or carotid arteries; or bleeding triggered by very high blood pressure. While not all strokes can be prevented, Dr. Katznelson recommends lifestyle measures to maintain good cardiovascular health and lower the risk of a stroke, such as following a heart-healthy diet (i.e. eating plenty of nutrient-rich fruits, veggies, whole grains, lean poultry and fish, while avoiding saturated fats, trans fats, and excess sodium and sugar).
To reduce your risk of a stroke, the American Stroke Association also recommends quitting smoking, being physically active for at least 150 minutes per week, maintaining a healthy weight, and controlling your blood sugar if you have type 1 or type 2 diabetes.
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Surveys show the president’s standing with seniors, the group most vulnerable to the coronavirus, has fallen as he pushes to reopen the country.
For years, Republicans and Mr. Trump have relied on older Americans, the country’s largest voting bloc, to offset a huge advantage Democrats enjoy with younger voters. In critical states like Michigan, Wisconsin, Pennsylvania and Florida, all of which have large older populations, Mr. Trump’s advantage with older voters has been essential to his political success; in 2016, he won voters over the age of 65 by seven percentage points, according to national exit poll data.
But seniors are also the most vulnerable to the global pandemic, and the campaign’s internal polls, people familiar with the numbers said, show Mr. Trump’s support among voters over the age of 65 softening to a concerning degree, as he pushes to reopen the country’s economy at the expense of stopping a virus that puts them at the greatest risk.
A recent Morning Consult poll found that Mr. Trump’s approval rating on the handling of the coronavirus was lower with seniors than with any other group other than young voters. And Vice President Joseph R. Biden Jr., the presumptive Democratic nominee, in recent polls held a 10-point advantage over Mr. Trump among voters who are 65 and older. A poll commissioned by the campaign showed a similar double-digit gap.
The falloff in support comes as Mr. Trump has grown increasingly anxious about his re-election prospects, with a series of national surveys, as well as internal polling, showing him trailing in key states. The president has all but moved on from a focus on controlling the pandemic and is now pushing his agenda to restore the country, and the economy, to a place that will lift his campaign.
“Trump has suffered a double whammy with seniors from the coronavirus crisis, both in terms of a dislike for his personal demeanor and disapproval of his policy priorities,” said Geoff Garin, a Democratic strategist. “If there’s a durable change with older voters, it could well cost Trump the election.”
The demographic shift is fairly new, and officials said they attributed it at least in part to Mr. Trump’s coronavirus briefings, at which he often dispensed conflicting, misleading and sometimes dangerous information that caused alarm among a vulnerable population. At the same point in the race four years ago, Hillary Clinton, the Democratic nominee, trailed Mr. Trump by five points with the same group.
Among the aides who have warned the president of a softening with older voters is Kellyanne Conway, his 2016 campaign manager and a senior adviser, people familiar with the discussions said. White House officials aware of the problem have started to stage events and initiatives designed to highlight work the administration has done that will appeal to seniors.
Standing in the ornate East Room at the White House earlier this month, for instance, Mr. Trump surrounded himself with health officials as he signed a proclamation declaring May to be “Older Americans Month.”
“The virus poses the greatest risk to older Americans,” Mr. Trump said, while crediting his administration for protecting seniors by halting unnecessary visits to nursing homes nationwide and expanding access to telehealth for Medicare beneficiaries.
In recent weeks, aides have also discussed investigations into nursing homes where there have been large numbers of coronavirus-related deaths, and Vice President Mike Pence has taken cameras along as he personally delivered protective equipment to a nursing home.
But the administration has also hampered some of its own efforts to appeal to older voters. Mr. Trump recently rejected an expanded enrollment period for the newly uninsured, for instance.
Ms. Conway declined to discuss her conversations with Mr. Trump about seniors, but she noted that he had promised not to touch safety-net programs that affect them. “In five years since he announced his candidacy, President Trump has been unwavering in his commitment to not touch Social Security,” Ms. Conway said.
Mr. Trump, however, at various times has said he would be open to cutting safety-net programs, only to have aides walk back those comments after the fact. “At the right time, we will take a look at that,” Mr. Trump said in January of cuts to Medicare, Medicaid and Social Security — a stance that Biden campaign officials said they planned to highlight in the coming months.
The Biden team also noted that a second Morning Consult poll released this past week showed that 46 percent of voters said they trusted Mr. Biden to protect Medicare and Social Security, compared with 41 percent for Mr. Trump.
Trump campaign officials downplayed any long-term electoral concerns. Older voters, they said, have long bristled at Mr. Trump’s acerbic personal demeanor, which was on display for hours every day during briefings that the president believed were beneficial to him, but that aides and Republican allies eventually persuaded him to phase out.
In the past, however, support from older voters would return when they were reminded of Mr. Trump’s hard-line stance on immigration and his vow to protect Social Security and other safety-net programs, policy positions they often agreed with, officials said.
Their hope, they said, is that support from older voters will return now that Mr. Trump has phased out his self-congratulatory version of a fireside chat, where he excoriated reporters and Democrats and at one point suggested that disinfectants could potentially be used to treat coronavirus patients.
In Mr. Biden, however, Mr. Trump is also competing against a candidate whom many older voters view as an appealing alternative to Mr. Trump in a way that they never viewed Mrs. Clinton in 2016, strategists in both parties said. Mr. Biden’s campaign officials credit his appeal with older voters to their view of him as a moderate, politically, and as a compassionate person who has suffered his own string of personal tragedies.
Biden officials said that positive sense among seniors is combined with a real fear that there will be a second wave of Covid-19 outbreak and that the coronavirus pandemic threatened their lives.
Keeping Mr. Biden and Mr. Trump polling even among older voters — in other words, simply cutting into Mr. Trump’s margin — could potentially be enough to make a critical difference in what is expected to be a tight race, Biden officials said.
“It’s up to the Trump campaign whether this is a temporary trend line with these voters, or not,” said Kevin Madden, who was an adviser to Mitt Romney’s presidential campaign. “They have to go out there and restore confidence with these voters.”
Brad Parscale, Mr. Trump’s campaign manager, dismissed any problem with older voters as a “false narrative being pushed by the left.”
Mr. Parscale contended that the campaign’s polls show strong support for Mr. Trump from seniors because they “care about who can restore the economy, who will stand up to China, who will put America first in every decision. They care about looking after veterans and protecting Social Security and Medicare.”
Trump campaign officials said they were planning to begin attacks on Mr. Biden on television very soon. But the kind of ads that the campaign sometimes favors — quick, flashy cuts with newspaper headlines mixed in — have turned off older voters in past focus groups by Democrats. Voters in those sessions wanted more context to explain the images they were seeing, they said.
Strategists aligned with Mr. Trump’s campaign are also trying to signal that some form of by-mail voting is acceptable to them, despite the reservations the president has expressed about the practice — an acknowledgment that mail voting makes it easier for seniors to participate.
Some Republican state party chairs, meanwhile, said they had ramped up the number of phone calls to voters over the past month, while most of the country has remained locked down in their homes, in part to reassure older voters about Mr. Trump’s leadership.
“The message to them is we want to continue to build a positive and bright future to America, that the hopeful optimism they grew up with is what we should leave for future generations,” said James Dickey, chairman of the Texas Republican Party, who said the party had completed over 130,000 voter-contact phone calls in April.
Mr. Dickey said he was not worried about any slippage with older voters, because there has yet to be a head-to-head comparison between Mr. Biden and Mr. Trump. “When the president has a chance to debate him, I’m confident the contrast will be stark,” Mr. Dickey said.
Updated April 11, 2020
What should I do if I feel sick?
If you’ve been exposed to the coronavirus or think you have, and have a fever or symptoms like a cough or difficulty breathing, call a doctor. They should give you advice on whether you should be tested, how to get tested, and how to seek medical treatment without potentially infecting or exposing others.
When will this end?
This is a difficult question, because a lot depends on how well the virus is contained. A better question might be: “How will we know when to reopen the country?” In an American Enterprise Institute report, Scott Gottlieb, Caitlin Rivers, Mark B. McClellan, Lauren Silvis and Crystal Watson staked out four goal posts for recovery: Hospitals in the state must be able to safely treat all patients requiring hospitalization, without resorting to crisis standards of care; the state needs to be able to at least test everyone who has symptoms; the state is able to conduct monitoring of confirmed cases and contacts; and there must be a sustained reduction in cases for at least 14 days.
The C.D.C. has recommended that all Americans wear cloth masks if they go out in public. This is a shift in federal guidance reflecting new concerns that the coronavirus is being spread by infected people who have no symptoms. Until now, the C.D.C., like the W.H.O., has advised that ordinary people don’t need to wear masks unless they are sick and coughing. Part of the reason was to preserve medical-grade masks for health care workers who desperately need them at a time when they are in continuously short supply. Masks don’t replace hand washing and social distancing.
It seems to spread very easily from person to person, especially in homes, hospitals and other confined spaces. The pathogen can be carried on tiny respiratory droplets that fall as they are coughed or sneezed out. It may also be transmitted when we touch a contaminated surface and then touch our face.
Is there a vaccine yet?
No. Clinical trials are underway in the United States, China and Europe. But American officials and pharmaceutical executives have said that a vaccine remains at least 12 to 18 months away.
What makes this outbreak so different?
Unlike the flu, there is no known treatment or vaccine, and little is known about this particular virus so far. It seems to be more lethal than the flu, but the numbers are still uncertain. And it hits the elderly and those with underlying conditions — not just those with respiratory diseases — particularly hard.
What if somebody in my family gets sick?
If the family member doesn’t need hospitalization and can be cared for at home, you should help him or her with basic needs and monitor the symptoms, while also keeping as much distance as possible, according to guidelines issued by the C.D.C. If there’s space, the sick family member should stay in a separate room and use a separate bathroom. If masks are available, both the sick person and the caregiver should wear them when the caregiver enters the room. Make sure not to share any dishes or other household items and to regularly clean surfaces like counters, doorknobs, toilets and tables. Don’t forget to wash your hands frequently.
Should I stock up on groceries?
Plan two weeks of meals if possible. But people should not hoard food or supplies. Despite the empty shelves, the supply chain remains strong. And remember to wipe the handle of the grocery cart with a disinfecting wipe and wash your hands as soon as you get home.
That’s not a good idea. Even if you’re retired, having a balanced portfolio of stocks and bonds so that your money keeps up with inflation, or even grows, makes sense. But retirees may want to think about having enough cash set aside for a year’s worth of living expenses and big payments needed over the next five years.