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'Black Hispanic

Hispanic, Black children at higher risk of coronavirus-related hospitalization, CDC finds – The Washington Post

Hispanic children are approximately eight times more likely and Black children five times more likely to be hospitalized with covid-19 than their White peers, according to a study released Friday by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

The report — which used hospitalization data collected in 14 states including California, Georgia, New York and Ohio from March 1 through July 25 — acknowledged that most pediatric cases of covid-19, the disease caused by the novel coronavirus, are asymptomatic or mild and that hospitalization rates among children remain relatively low. But like covid-19 in adults, Black and Hispanic children are far more likely to experience symptoms warranting hospitalization.

The report calls for improved understanding of the broader social forces that affect health so that racial and ethnic disparities in pediatric hospitalization rates can be mitigated.

It arrives as schools are beginning to reopen amid fraught political and scientific debates about the wisdom of doing so. President Trump has pushed for fully reopening classrooms, arguing that children’s immune systems are strong and that they will recover quickly from the virus if infected. Some epidemiologists urge caution, warning that not enough is known about how children transmit the virus to understand the risk in-person learning might pose to children, staff and families.

Children should wash their hands often and engage in social distancing, and those age 2 and older should wear a mask when with people outside of their families, the CDC report said.

The CDC report underscored the relative rarity of children being hospitalized: While 164.5 adults per 100,000 were hospitalized with covid-19 from March to July, eight children per 100,000 required hospitalization. Those under age 2 had the highest pediatric hospitalization rate. The median patient age was 8, and underlying conditions were common, with 42 percent of those requiring hospitalization diagnosed with such conditions.

About 1 in 3 hospitalized children wound up in intensive care units — roughly the same rate as hospitalized adults. But only 5.8 percent of 526 children studied required a ventilator. One patient in the study died while hospitalized.

Of 526 children for whom race information was reported, 46 percent were Hispanic and nearly 30 percent were Black. The census reports that 18 percent of people in the United States identify as Hispanic and about 13 percent as Black.

The CDC report said it is crucial to continue monitoring covid-19 hospitalizations among children.

“These data will help to better define the clinical spectrum of disease in children and the contributions of race and ethnicity and underlying medical conditions to hospitalizations and outcomes,” the report said. “Reasons for disparities in COVID-19-associated hospitalization rates by race and ethnicity are not fully understood.”

Similar disparities were identified in a second CDC report Friday that examined a rare multi-system inflammatory syndrome in children — known as MIS-C — that affected 570 American children from April to late July.

In April, the United Kingdom issued an alert that children were arriving at hospitals there with symptoms that mirrored those of Kawasaki disease, a treatable condition that causes fever, rashes and vascular inflammation and normally affects children under age 5. By mid-May, with cases emerging in New York City and elsewhere on the East Coast, the CDC issued a warning about the syndrome and asked doctors to report cases meeting the definition of the condition in patients under 18.

The most common symptoms were abdominal pain, vomiting, rash and diarrhea. Many of those diagnosed with the syndrome experienced severe complications including cardiac dysfunction (40.6 percent), shock (35.4 percent), coronary artery dilatation or aneurysm (18.6 percent) and acute kidney injury (18.4 percent). Most patients diagnosed with the condition were admitted to intensive care units with a median stay of five days. Ten patients died.

Data about MIS-C cases were previously available only on a hospital-by-hospital or region-by-region basis. The CDC’s report revealed that MIS-C occurred in a disproportionate number of Hispanic children. About 40 percent of the 570 cases occurred in children identified as Hispanic, while 33 percent of the children affected were Black.

“Long-standing inequities in the social determinants of health, such as housing, economic instability, insurance status, and work circumstances of patients and their family members have systematically placed social, racial, and ethnic minority populations at higher risk for COVID-19 and more severe illness, possibly including MIS-C,” the study concluded.

The study showed that while MIS-C can result in dire outcomes, it remains rare: Among pediatric covid-19 patients, MISC-C was found in roughly 0.2 percent of cases.

According to the study, all 570 children in the report tested positive for acute covid-19 or for its antibodies, or had an epidemiological reason to believe they were exposed to the virus before symptoms appeared. They were all presumed to have been exposed two to four weeks before experiencing MIS-C, a pattern epidemiologists, pediatricians and virologists say may suggest MIS-C is triggered by a child’s immune response to the virus.

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'Black Beyonc

What Beyoncé’s ‘Black Is King’ means for Disney Plus – NBC News

What happens when Hollywood’s intellectual property king meets Queen Bey?

That’s the question worldwide fans and Hollywood insiders are mulling with anticipation, as Beyoncé’s latest visual album, “Black Is King,” prepares to debut July 31 on Disney Plus. The top-secret project from the superstar entertainer was announced less than a month ago, and promises to be a bold visual celebration of Black culture through the ages, as well as a splashy streaming event amid a drought of content caused by coronavirus lockdowns.

“Black Is King” is a feature film composed of music videos for songs from “The Gift,” an album Beyoncé executive produced as a companion to the 2019 live-action remake of “The Lion King,” for which she voiced the lead female role. It’s an adaptive process she knows well, having delivered the Peabody Award-winning 2017 album “Lemonade” as both a record and a stacked video compilation, strung together by her own narration. With “Black Is King,” however, Beyoncé is not only drawing from her experience as an established artist and a woman of color. She’s putting her own spin on the billion-dollar IP behind “The Lion King.”

That Disney Plus would be home to such a broad interpretation of its wares isn’t surprising. Yet, if teaser trailers and promotional images are any indication, Beyoncé is pushing the boundaries of what many have come to expect from the Disney machine.

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“Beyoncé is a great get for anyone, but this signals to me that they are going to get more elastic on what belongs on Disney Plus versus what belongs on Hulu,” one top film executive at a rival studio, speaking on the condition of anonymity, tells Variety.

Disney acquired Hulu when it bought out fellow stakeholders Fox and Comcast in 2019, and the adult-skewed platform is largely considered a counterprogrammer to Disney Plus, whose firehose of premium content comes from Disney-owned labels including Marvel, Pixar, Lucasfilm, Walt Disney Animation and National Geographic. While all stylistically different and innovative, content from these engines falls in line with the safety the Disney brand is renowned for — one in which heavy social themes are delivered with healthy doses of sunshine.

“Black Is King” takes the story of “Lion King” protagonist Simba and layers him on a young Black man who is cast out from his family and forced to find himself in an unforgiving world. Themes of suppression and the horrors of colonialism, as well as the consistent message of Black pride, are front and center. As with any Beyoncé project, portrayals of gender equity and celebration of the female form and sexual power are also evident. The film will be the most direct confrontation of a timely societal discussion around racism that Disney Plus has seen in its young life, especially for a corporate owner that has only recently taken steps to rectify transgressions like insensitive theme park rides (Splash Mountain at Disneyland, based on the problematic animated film “Song of the South”) and warn viewers of “outdated cultural depictions” in content from its streaming library.

“The importance of doing “Black Is King” as a brand statement outweighs any risk to perceptions about their customers,” says the executive. “Disney Plus is also reaching a ceiling in terms of subscriptions with the content they have. They’ve got to be asking how they can keep adults around, and how to show originality when we can’t shoot anything.”

Jacqueline Coley, an editor at meta-critic site Rotten Tomatoes, says, “For Black women like myself, there’s nothing bigger than Beyoncé, and what she does is partner with power. For someone like her, there are very few brands that can reach the level of power she brings by walking into a room. Disney recognizes that.”

Coley points to the recent acquisition and accelerated streaming of Lin-Manuel Miranda’s groundbreaking Broadway show “Hamilton,” a production that she says also took some navigation on Disney’s part.

“When you look at things like ‘Hamilton’ and ‘Black Is King,’ they are bridges into content that has not been part of Disney’s long history,” she says. “But as they look forward to being a moral global entertainment brand, it’s less about work that fits into a model and more about how they can serve a brand that’s 50 million subscribers strong.”

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'Black Lives

Wall of Moms, Black Lives Matter protesters sue Trump administration for use of tear gas, force in Portland – Washington Post

PORTLAND, Ore. — Protesters who say they were tear-gassed, shot at, pepper-sprayed and assaulted outside a federal courthouse while peacefully demonstrating and rendering aid to others sued the Trump administration Monday over its use of force during nightly demonstrations in downtown Portland.

A group of five women and two organizations, including longtime Black Lives Matter protesters and the yellow-clad Wall of Moms group that assembles nightly to stand between protesters and federal law enforcement officers, filed a lawsuit alleging that several agencies — the Department of Homeland Security, Customs and Border Protection, Immigration and Customs Enforcement and the Federal Protective Service — have violated their constitutional rights of free speech, assembly and due process and against unreasonable seizures.

The agencies named in the lawsuit have deployed agents to protect the Mark O. Hatfield U.S. Courthouse from a nightly barrage of fireworks and projectiles, including water bottles, canned food and paint, during demonstrations against police violence, racial inequity and what many in Portland have come to view as a federal occupation.

The lawsuit marks the latest court battle to rise from the smoke and gas of the nightly standoffs in Oregon’s largest city. The American Civil Liberties Union in the past week sued the Trump administration and the Portland police department over alleged attacks on street medics, volunteers who render medical aid to injured demonstrators. U.S. District Judge Michael Simon issued a restraining order that bars federal agents from dispersing, arresting, threatening to arrest or targeting journalists or legal observers at protests.

Oregon’s attorney general sought to restrict federal agents’ ability to use injury-causing force against state residents by filing a lawsuit that was denied Friday by U.S. District Judge Michael Mosman, who said the state did not adequately argue that a restraining order was needed to prevent future injuries.

In the lawsuit filed Monday, which was convened by the nonprofit organization Protect Democracy, protesters allege they “have been tear-gassed night after night, left vomiting and unable to eat or sleep because of the toxic poison blasted at them. They have been shot at over and over — with rubber bullets, bean bags, pepper spray, and a range of other projectiles fired at close range and with brutal effect. They have had flash-bang explosive devices detonated right in front of them. They have been forced to speak and assemble in fear of not just bodily harm, but the possibility of sudden arrest without probable cause.”

Bev Barnum, 35, an organizer with the Wall of Moms group, said that on the night of her first protest, federal officers shot a stun grenade that exploded near her feet and launched tear gas and a projectile that “felt like rock salt” into the crowd, where she stood with her arms linked with other women. She remembers her eyes burning, ears ringing and lungs constricting as she gasped for breath. When someone grabbed her arm to pull her away from the line of officers, she said, she vomited repeatedly onto herself and into the street.

More than a week later, Barnum said, she has flashbacks that leave her body shaking and her mind reeling. She howled and sobbed as she recounted the experience in an interview.

“I can’t sleep,” she gasped between racking sobs. “Now when I go back out, I just lie to my kids. … How is this legal? How are they allowed to do this to people?”

Teressa Raiford, 49, the founder of anti-police-violence organization Don’t Shoot Portland, said the chemical irritants have coated food that volunteers at an aid station in the city park across the street from the federal courthouse have served hungry protesters, homeless people and anyone who asks. Raiford said that she has left her downtown Portland home because of all the gas in the air and that she worries about the health consequences of federal officers deploying plumes of a riot control agent called CS gas each night.

“I hope [federal agents] are no longer able to use excessive force against people who are just freely expressing their right to protest,” Raiford said. “We have to stop it.”

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'Black allegedly

Call of Duty Black Ops Cold War has allegedly been leaked by a Doritos marketing campaign – Eurogamer.net

Leak includes new logo and potential release window, too.

Dataminers were already knocking on The Red Door, Call of Duty: Black Ops Cold War’s leaked internal alpha test, but now it seems there’s another leak in the Call of Duty: Black Ops Cold War ship, this time courtesy of what is reported to be a Doritos marketing campaign.

While the images are unverified at the time of writing, ModernWarzone reports that snaps of the promotional packaging not only confirm rumours that the next COD game will be called Cold War as suspected, but it also reveals the game’s logo, too.

If the promotional launch is anything to go by, it also intimates a potential release window of October 2020, which fits into Activision’s typical Call of Duty annual release window quite nicely. The competition small print reveals that the campaign kicks off on 5th October, which is leading some to speculate that that might be the formal release date…

BREAKING: Call of Duty: Black Ops Cold War logo leaked via Doritos promotional material (via @ModernWarzone) pic.twitter.com/B63bX4P3Bj

— Call of Duty News (@charlieINTEL) July 26, 2020

As for the dataminer leaks a few weeks back? Prototype Warehouse unearthed some interesting phrases in the files of the internal alpha, which appeared up on the Microsoft Store earlier this month. Apparent names or codenames for multiplayer maps include “Black Sea”, “KGB”, “Miami”, “Moscow”, and “Tank”.

As Wes reported at the time, there are apparent campaign mission names or codenames, too, including “Stakeout”, “Armada”, “Prisoner” and “Revolution”. These words are prefaced by the likes of “nam” and “nic”. Current speculation suggests “nam” is short for Vietnam, and “nic” is short for “Nicaragua” as previous Black Ops games have seen campaign missions set in both these regions.

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'Black children

Black Children Are More Likely to Die After Surgery Than White Peers, Study Shows – The New York Times

Health|Black Children Are More Likely to Die After Surgery Than White Peers, Study Shows

A large study, published in the journal Pediatrics, suggests that disparities exist in surgery outcomes, even among healthy children.

Credit…Christopher Capozziello for The New York Times

Jenny Gross

Black children are more than three times as likely to die within a month of surgery as white children, according to a study published in the journal Pediatrics on Monday.

Disparities in surgical outcomes between Black and white patients have been well established, with researchers attributing some of the difference to higher rates of chronic conditions among Black people. But this study, which looked at data on 172,549 children, highlights the racial disparities in health outcomes even when comparing healthy children.

Researchers found that Black children were 3.4 times as likely to die within a month after surgery and were 1.2 times as likely to develop postoperative complications. The authors performed a retrospective study based on data on children who underwent surgery from 2012 through 2017.

Olubukola Nafiu, the lead author of the study and a pediatric anesthesiologist at Nationwide Children’s Hospital in Columbus, Ohio, said the authors were not surprised to find that healthy children, across the board, had extremely low rates of mortality and rates of complications after surgery. But what surprised them was the magnitude of the difference in mortality and complication rates by race.

“The hypothesis we had when we started was that if you studied a relatively healthy cohort of patients, there shouldn’t be any difference in outcomes,” Dr. Nafiu said.

The authors, in their paper, acknowledged limitations of the study: They did not explore the site of care where patients received their treatments or the insurance status of patients, which can be used as a proxy for socioeconomic status. This meant they could not account for differences in the quality of care that patients received or the economic backgrounds of the patients.

Another limitation was that because mortality and postoperative complications are so uncommon among healthy children, it is possible that most of the cases came from a few hospitals, Dr. Nafiu said.

But while Black people are more likely to receive care in low-performing hospitals, that may not be the main factor driving the gap this study found, Dr. Nafiu said. The hospitals examined in the study were all part of the National Surgical Quality Improvement Program, a voluntary program, meaning they had the resources to be part of the program and the belief that quality improvement is important.

Adil Haider, dean of the medical college at Aga Khan University, who was not involved with the study, said that it told a key piece of the story about racial disparities in surgical outcomes, but that there were still many questions about what drives disparities.

“The real take home is that we just need to start reporting data within hospitals and when we aggregate hospitals — by race and by insurance status — so that we know that, at a given hospital, people from different backgrounds are all receiving the same outcomes,” said Dr. Haider, the former director of the Center for Surgery and Public Health, a joint initiative of Brigham and Women’s Hospital, Harvard Medical School and the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health.

Many studies have shown that people of color receive less and often worse care than white Americans because of reasons including lower rates of health coverage and racial stereotyping.

But one study, published in June by JAMA, suggested some signs of improvement. That research paper, which looked at more than 20,000 extremely preterm infants, suggested that racial disparities in mortality rates had shrunk from 2002 to 2016. The results were significant because the racial disparities around maternal mortality, premature birth and infant mortality have been persistent.

Dr. Nia Heard-Garris, a pediatrician researcher at the Ann & Robert H. Lurie Children’s Hospital of Chicago, who was not involved with the study, said the research was significant because it relied on a large, national sample.

“We’re not talking about one small health system, within one small city, or even one big city — we’re talking about trends nationally,” said Dr. Heard-Garris, who heads the American Academy of Pediatrics’s Section on Minority Healthy, Equity and Inclusion. “As a mom of a Black son who at some point will need surgery, it’s very scary.”

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'Black Strike

‘Strike for Black Lives,’ Walmart, Sam’s Club will start requiring masks: 5 things to know Monday – MSN Money

Editors, USA TODAY
Published 2:56 a.m. ET July 20, 2020 | Updated 9:58 a.m. ET July 20, 2020

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A ‘Strike for Black Lives’ will bring together workers calling for end to systemic racism

Linking the fight against police brutality with a broader need for racial equity and justice, major unions and civil rights groups will stage a nationwide walk out Monday to demand change. The Strike for Black Lives will take place in more than 25 cities, from Los Angeles to Boston, and could draw tens of thousands of workers. The plan is to walk off the job and stage other protests to call for better wages and an end to systemic racism both in the workplace and their communities. The union is joining with more than a dozen other groups including the United Farm Workers, the Fight for $15, the Poor People’s Campaign: A National Call for Moral Revival, and the Movement for Black Lives. 

  • Racial housing gap: Gap between Black and white homeownership is vast, report finds.

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Americans gathered by the thousands after the death of George Floyd to march and demand reform around policing and systemic racism; hear their voices.

USA TODAY

Prefer to listen? Check out the 5 things podcast below and subscribe for free on Apple Podcasts:

Floridians get ready to go to the polls

Florida’s registration deadline to vote is Monday. This comes as the Supreme Court refused last Thursday to let Florida felons who completed their sentences vote in a primary without first paying fees, fines and restitution, as the state currently requires. Voting rights groups challenged the requirement as unconstitutional, given that state voters approved a constitutional amendment in 2018 giving hundreds of thousands of felons the right to vote. The dispute over the voting rights of Florida’s felons could be crucial in this fall’s elections because of its perennial status as a swing state. There are about 775,000 felons in the state who have completed their prison sentences, including about 85,000 who registered to vote. 

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The right to vote was restored for most Florida felons as of Tuesday, increasing the pool of eligible voters by as many as 1.4 million people in a battleground state infamous for its narrow margins in key elections (Jan. 8)

No mask, no service

Walmart, Sam’s Club, Kohl’s, CVS, Walgreens and Lowe’s will start requiring masks on Monday at stores nationwide. Other retailers have also announced upcoming mask mandates including Kroger, Target and Home Depot. “We know some people have differing opinions on this topic. We also recognize the role we can play to help protect the health and well-being of the communities we serve by following the evolving guidance of health officials,” Walmart and Sam’s Club’s chief operating officers said in a statement on Wednesday. The CDC recommends that people wear cloth face coverings in public settings and when around people who don’t live in your household, especially when other social distancing measures are difficult to maintain. 

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‘The Arena’ debuts, starring Charles Barkley and Dwyane Wade

A new hour-long program, “The Arena,” which first airs on TNT Monday, will focus on the NBA’s restart, the Black Lives Matter movement and more. The nightly program will be hosted by Cari Champion and will feature Basketball Hall of Famer Charles Barkley, Dwyane Wade, Draymond Green and a host of contributors. Barkley and Green working in such close proximity is sure to create great TV, as a well-documented beef between the current and former NBA stars has existed for years. Green said he does not want the series, a partnership with Bleacher Report, to be “about me vs. Chuck. This is about continuing to bring awareness to the issues that we face as Black Americans.” 

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SportsPulse: USA TODAY Sports’ Mark Medina is one of a few select media members to enter the NBA bubble in Orlando and he shares his first impressions of the accommodations and safety measures within the Disney complex.

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Delta to require pre-flight evaluation for exceptions to mask policy

Airline passengers are required to wear face masks, and Delta is no exception. Starting Monday, anyone who books a Delta flight who requests an exemption from the mask requirement must undergo a medical evaluation at the airport before boarding.Delta’s website encourages passengers who need to request an exemption to arrive at the airport early because the evaluation could take up to an hour. False claims of a disability or health condition to obtain an exemption for the mask requirement could result in the suspension of travel privileges. Passengers who are denied an exemption to the mask policy will receive a refund for their tickets, according to Delta. 

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Many U.S. airlines including American, Southwest, United, Delta, Alaska, Frontier and JetBlue have announced passengers must wear masks while flying.

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'Black paints

New York City paints Black Lives Matter mural outside Trump Tower in Manhattan – CNN

(CNN)New York City is painting a Black Lives Matter mural on the street directly outside of Trump Tower in Midtown Manhattan.

City employees began painting a stretch of Fifth Avenue, just in front of the Trump Organization’s headquarters, on Thursday morning. Mayor Bill de Blasio authorized the stark yellow mural earlier this month.
The New York mayor rolled up his sleeves and painted a bit of the mural, too, clad in a mask and flanked by civil rights leader, the Rev. Al Sharpton.
“President Trump said we would be denigrating the luxury of Fifth Avenue. Let me tell you: we’re not denigrating anything, we are liberating Fifth Avenue, we are uplifting Fifth Avenue,” de Blasio said on Thursday in response to Trump’s tweet last week criticizing de Blasio for “denigrating” the area.
He added, “Who built this city, who built this nation, and never got the acknowledgement, the recognition…”
“When we say ‘Black Lives Matter’ there is no more American statement, there’s no more patriotic statement, because there is no America without Black America. We are acknowledging the truth in ourselves and in America. By saying ‘Black lives matter’ we are righting a wrong,” de Blasio said.
President Donald Trump fumed at the plan after it was announced by city officials earlier this month.
He called the words “Black Lives Matter” a “symbol of hate” and suggested that police officers could block the work: “Maybe our GREAT Police, who have been neutralized and scorned by a mayor who hates & disrespects them, won’t let this symbol of hate be affixed to New York’s greatest street. Spend this money fighting crime instead!”
CNN has reached out to the Trump Organization for comment.
The mural marks the second time the words appeared in large letters outside one of Trump’s homes; Washington’s mayor had the term painted in large yellow letters on a street near the White House last month.
The murals haven’t pleased all Black Lives Matters supporters.
After the debut of the Washington mural, the local chapter of the Black Lives Matter Global Network called the mural a “performative distraction from real policy changes.” Black Lives Matter supporters have repeatedly called on local leaders to cut police budgets, which DC Mayor Muriel Bowser has cautioned against.
New York’s city council this month voted to slash the NYPD budget, though even supporters of defunding the police on the council were not satisfied with the budget cuts, which still allowed for two police classes to join the force while freezing new hires in the Department of Education.

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'Black Merging

Merging black holes blast out light… but not for the reason you’d think – SYFY WIRE

When two black holes eat each other, they release a lot of energy.

A lot. A significant fraction of the mass of the black holes is converted into energy, radiating away as gravitational waves, ripples in the fabric of spacetime. These can have as much energy as — and I am not kidding you here — tens of thousands of times as much as the Sun will radiate over its entire lifetime… and they blast away in a few seconds. Put another way, during that time the black holes emit hundreds of millions of times more energy than all the stars in the galaxy combined.

That kind of power is terrifying. Mind crushing. Yet, for all that, the event itself is entirely invisible, giving off no light at all. It’s possible under some specific circumstances some light will be emitted, but generally speaking the two black holes merge, scream out their gravitational waves, and become a single, somewhat larger black hole… and all this without a photon emitted.

So no light is produced directly. But indirectly, it turns out things can be different.

On 21 May, 2019, the LIGO and Virgo gravitational wave observatories detected a pair of black holes merging somewhere in the Universe — the event was given the designation S190521g. Triangulating the signal, it was found to come from a spot in the sky the direction of the constellation Coma Berenices. Within moments, an automated alert was sent out to telescopes all across the planet to look for some sort of optical signal.

No flash of light was seen. At least, not right away.

On Mt. Palomar in California there is a 1.2-meter telescope with a 600 megapixel camera that can see a whopping 47 square degrees of sky at a time, a huge field of view. Called the Zwicky Transient Facility it scans the sky looking for things that go flash (or just change brightness) in the night.

34 days after the LIGO-Virgo gravitational wave detection, it was looking toward Coma Berenices and saw a flare, a brightening, coming from the distant galaxy AGN J124942.3 +344929 (let’s call it J1249 for short). This is an active galaxy, one with a supermassive black hole in its heart (with a mass of 100 million times the Sun, so decently huge) that’s actively eating material. As it falls in, this material gets very hot and emits quite a bit of light, making this galaxy visible even from its forbidding distance of 4.6 billion light years.

The flare detected lasted for about 50 days. Over that time, the amount of energy it emitted was huge, about 1044 Joules — more energy than the Sun will emit over its entire lifetime!

Active galaxies are known to flare, but this particular one had been quiet, or at least had a steady luminosity, for a year around the flare. Looking at the galaxy’s history (and the histories of other galaxies) and applying some statistics, astronomers found the likelihood that this flare is due to some intrinsic variability in the galaxy as less than 0.01% — one chance in ten thousand. So, very low.

They looked at other potential sources, too, like supernovae, a star getting torn apart by a black hole (!), and even microlensing, but nothing fit the profile.

What does fit, however, is a “small” black hole careening through space at high speed and slamming into the disk of material around the supermassive black hole in the center of J1249. An event like this would create huge shock waves in the disk, causing it to heat up substantially, blasting out radiation for weeks. Gas falling into the smaller black hole would also pile up around it, heat up, and give off a lot of light as well. These are extremely powerful events, releasing about as much energy as the Sun will over its entire lifetime.

Hmmmmm.

OK, you’re possibly thinking, so what? What does this have to do with S190521g, the black hole merger that happened a month earlier?

Ah, here’s the very fun part. If two black holes of unequal mass merge, the blast of gravitational wave energy is emitted in an asymmetric way: More of it is sent to one side than the other. This produces a huge force on the remnant merged black hole, giving it an extremely powerful kick — remember the energies we’re talking about here are vast — and it can be accelerated to high velocities through space.

And if that black hole merger happened near the center of a galaxy, say one with a supermassive black hole and a huge disk of matter swirling around it, then it could cannonball right through that disk at high speed, creating shock waves that could heat the material up and create a gigantic two-month-long flash of light, one bright enough to travel over 4 billion light years and still be seen by a telescope in California.

Incredibly, the math works out. If the gravitational wave event S190521g was from two black holes in the active galaxy J1249 merging to form a single bigger black hole of about 100 times the Sun’s mass, the kick from the powerful waves could accelerate it to a staggering velocity of 200 kilometers per second — over 700,000 kilometers per hour! Then, a month or so later this black hole plunged through the disk around the supermassive black hole, and the above events ensue. The amount of energy emitted from such a catastrophe would be about what was seen, and last for as long as the flare from the galaxy.

Holy crap.

This gets better. You need a pair of binary black holes to merge, and black holes form when massive stars explode. But it’s hard to make black holes with around 50 times the Sun’s mass each (or say 80 and 20). You’d need a star bigger than any we’ve ever seen. So maybe the two black holes formed separately, from two independent stars, grew over time by eating stuff around them, and then somehow came together to form a binary system later. Good idea, but that’s almost impossible to do out in empty space. It’s incredibly unlikely, and even then it’s hard to get them to orbit one another.

There is a place in the Universe where something like that is way easier, though: Near a supermassive black hole! There can be lots of massive stars orbiting it that turn into black holes, and plenty to feed them. Getting them to orbit one another is easier when there’s lot of other stuff around that can nudge them together safely. In fact, it’s likely that black holes that massive are themselves the result of mergers of previous black holes. Even if they got one of those off-center kicks, the gravity of the much larger supermassive black hole nearby would keep them from shooting out of the galaxy.

So this story hangs together from start to finish. It actually could be correct.

Now mind you, this is all circumstantial. The math works, and the physics too, but that doesn’t mean this is what happened. I was very skeptical when I saw the press release. But reading the paper, I have to think this Rube Goldberg series of events is actually the most likely scenario.

I’d say “incredible” but it’s literally credible. Astonishing, certainly.

So the merger didn’t produce a flash of light directly, but may have started a series of event what resulted in a whopping huge flash of light a month later. Amazing. And if true, it means this could be happening many times in the Universe, which means we can’t just look for immediate flashes from mergers, but also ones that happen weeks or months later.

Incidentally. Given all the physics involved, the astronomers think that the final black hole from the merger is still in orbit around the supermassive black hole, which means it may plunge through the disk again in the future. And not that long, either: Just 1.6 years after the first event, so late 2020/early 2021. You can bet astronomers will keep their telescopic eyes on the galaxy J1249. If the fireworks start up again, we’ll have a pretty good guess as to their cause.

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'Black Lives

Black Lives Matter leader calls for defunding police: ‘Black people do not trust politicians’ – Fox News

Black Lives Matter activist Hawk Newsome called for defunding police in the U.S., suggesting a different approach to combatting crime and expressing despair over the state of American politics when it comes to the African-American community.

Newsome told “Fox News Sunday” that both parties have failed black people in the U.S. by catering more to corporations than people’s problems and not taking the appropriate position on reducing crime.

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“Black people do not trust politicians,” Newsome said. “They don’t trust Democrats. They don’t trust Republicans.”

Newsome said black people also have an issue with “government overstepping its bounds,” saying that policing is an example of this. He said that the current view that crime requires additional policing is incorrect and that the country should look at crime as a public health crisis while examining why people commit crimes.

“They’re desperate, they’re poor, they’re undereducated, and they are left out to dry by this American system of government,” he said.

Newsome said that rather than increasing police, governments should defund the police and provide resources that give people greater opportunities instead.

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“You must invest in people, you must give people jobs, you must make people employable,” he said as a way to reduce crime.

Newsome told Fox News’ Martha MacCallum on Wednesday that “if this country doesn’t give us what we want, then we will burn down this system and replace it.” President Trump called this “treason.”

When asked about this on Sunday, Newsome insisted that he is not promoting violence.

“I’m not encouraging people to go out and hurt other people,” he said. He did say that “people lash out” as a matter of “inevitability” when they feel like they have no other option.

Host Chris Wallace referenced different approaches to seeking progress, citing Malcolm X’s “by any means necessary” philosophy versus the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr.’s strategy of working within the system. Newsome said King was “a brilliant strategist” and “media savvy,” and accused the current “elders” of the civil rights movement of being “bought off by the Democratic establishment.

Newsome accused both the Obama and Trump administrations of failing black people by bailing out corporations and financial institutions like Wells Fargo that have discriminated in the past.

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Newsome also noted how many white people are protesting alongside the black community. Rather than vilifying them and writing them off as radicals, he said people should ask why they are joining the fight.

“They’re fighting because the government has failed us,” he said.

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'Black Collision

Collision between black hole and ‘mysterious object’ puzzles astronomers – CNET

Illustration of space object GW19src814

GW190814: A black hole and a neutron star colliding, or something even more unusual?


Carl Knox/OzGrav ARC Centre of Excellence

On Aug. 14, 2019, a gravitational wave — a massive ripple through the fabric of space-time — washed over the Earth. The wave was detected by sophisticated, fine-tuned lasers in the US and Italy. And it was astonishing. While the lasers had previously picked up black hole collisions and neutron star collisions, they were now suggesting something unprecedented: a black hole smashing into a neutron star. 

The signal was one of the strongest ever seen by the gravitational wave scientists at the Laser Interferometer Gravitational-wave Observatory and Italy’s Virgo observatory. After an alert was sent out moments after detection, teams of astronomers across the world turned their telescopes to the point in space that the wave emanated from. 

But their searches came up empty. No light, no X-rays, no infrared, no gamma rays. 

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The event was puzzling. And it became more puzzling as scientists began to pore over the data. On Tuesday, researchers from the LIGO and Virgo collaborations detail their full analysis of the gravitational wave detection, dubbed GW190814, in The Astrophysical Journal Letters. It’s the first detailed study of the epic cosmic collision, and it only deepens the mystery.

“GW190814 is, I think, the first time we’ve observed gravitational waves where the source of the waves is genuinely puzzling,” said Rory Smith, an astrophysicist at Monash University in Australia. “I’ve been in LIGO for just over 10 years now, and this is certainly one of the most exciting events we’ve seen.”

The key to the research are the two LIGO facilities and the Virgo facility which can detect gravitational waves. Extreme astronomical objects like black holes and neutron stars send out waves across the cosmos when they collide. The facilities are essentially listening in to the sounds of massive cosmic beasts colliding with each other — and then working backward to understand their physical characteristics.

Smith and his colleagues have been working on simulating these types of collisions using supercomputers, which help perform that back-calculation and can infer what the objects are, their likely masses and their whereabouts.

“We use fancy parallelized algorithms which can run our analyses on a supercomputer cluster containing many hundreds, or thousands of individual computers,” he said. “Running the same analysis on your laptop would have taken around 50 to 100 years.”

The observations show GW190814 pair collided around in a deep corner of space, 800 million light-years away. One half of the pair is definitely a black hole, about 23 times more massive than our sun. But its dancing partner is mysterious — the other object is only around 2.6 times more massive than our sun, which puts it in a weird position. It could be a neutron star, that possibility is still on the table, but it might also be a black hole. And that’s a slight problem.

“It’s hard to explain how either a black hole or a neutron star could be around 2.6 solar masses,” Smith said. 

Scientists have never detected a black hole that’s so light. Neutron stars are not expected to be that heavy — they collapse into black holes when they get too big. So the mysterious object seems to be some sort of Goldilocks star that doesn’t fit our current understanding. Whatever it turns out to be, it will rewrite our knowledge on one of the two extreme objects. 

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Intriguingly, if it is an ultra-heavy neutron star, Smith says “perhaps even new physics would be required to explain it.” If it’s a light black hole, then our understanding of how and where the light-hungry cosmic beasts form will be rewritten. It’s a win-win scenario for science. 

GW190814 is only the second time a gravitational wave detection has found a significant discrepancy in the mass of the objects. A collision between two black holes detected on April 12, 2019 and dubbed GW190412, showed a mass difference of over 20 solar masses. These great differences are incredibly helpful: They allow researchers to test Einstein’s theory of General Relativity. Both GW190814 and GW190412 fit with Einstein’s predictions — so we haven’t broken physics (yet). 

GW190814 is exceptionally rare. We’ve only seen one of these events in three years of observation and it’s going to be a while before we find some more. The LIGO and Virgo detectors have been shut down since March, ending their last observation run early due to the coronavirus pandemic and won’t be back online until late next year. 

“Our detectors are currently being upgraded, so they will be more sensitive when they turn on,” said Smith. “At that point we expect to see not only more systems like GW190814, but probably other unexpected sources of gravitational waves too.”

That leaves a lot of room to try and explain the mysterious object. Is it a black hole? Is it a neutron star?

“Theorists have a lot of fun work ahead of them trying to explain GW190814!” said Smith.


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