Month: December 2019


Kim to Unveil 'New Strategic Weapon'…

SEOUL—North Korean leader Kim Jong Un said the world will witness a “new strategic weapon” from the isolated regime in the near future, though he left vague whether he was referring to long-range missiles or nuclear bombs.

Mr. Kim, in remarks made at a four-day Workers’ Party session that ended on Tuesday, said the pursuit of additional weapons development results from the U.S. “hostile policy” against his country. Until the U.S. relents on that front, denuclearization on the Korean Peninsula will never occur and Pyongyang…

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New device in New Mexico turns back clock on astronomy…

A newly forged steel instrument that can pinpoint the path of stars and planets across the night sky using the naked eye is a throwback to the years just before the advent of telescopes, returning stargazers in the hills of northern New Mexico to the essentials of astronomy in the past.

Installed at St. John’s College by graduates, the device is a remake of long-lost originals devised by Danish astronomer Tycho Brahe in the late 16th century to chart the location of stars and the orbits of planets.

It consists of four interlocking rings — forged of precision steel and aligned with the north star and equator — combined with a sliding viewfinder that is moved by hand to measure angles between the any celestial object, the horizon and the equator.

Lengthy, painstaking measurements from such an instrument in the late-1500s allowed Johannes Kepler to show that Mars revolved in an elliptical orbit around the sun, disproving the entrenched theory of the circular movement of heavenly bodies and setting off a search of new theories of planetary motion and forces.

“You can often learn things about how science was done in another age by recreating the artifacts and recreating the instruments,” said William Donahue, a retired faculty member and laboratories director at St. John’s College, whose campus overlooks Santa Fe. “This is a lot of fun because you get to do things that nobody has done for 300 years.”

None of Brahe’s original instruments have survived. Graduates of St. John’s commissioned a functioning replica using Brahe’s original drawings and illustrations. They hired British craftsman David Harber to assemble a precision instrument from surgical stainless steel. The venture cost upwards of $100,000, Donahue said.

Static sculptures of Brahe’s so-called armillary sphere proliferate in public parks, but few if any allow for detailed measurements like the one in Santa Fe. It is accurate to incremental angular measurements of one-sixtieth of a degree, or 1 arc minute.

The device is an obvious anachronism in an age of sky-charting smart phone apps — and a fitting addition to St. John’s College, where students trace the evolution of math and science from ancient civilizations by studying original texts or their English translations.

Beyond St. John’s, New Mexico’s dark cloudless skies have attracted groundbreaking astronomical devices and student observatories.

They include New Mexico Tech’s Magdalena Ridge Observatory, perched 2 miles (3 kilometers) above sea level near Socorro; a cluster of research telescopes at Apache Point Observatory; the iconic Very Large Array radio astronomy observatory where antennae span miles across the Plains of San Agustin: and recently assembled radio scopes that explore low frequencies for clues about cosmic evolution.

By contrast, the latest stargazing device in Santa Fe promises no scientific advances. Instead, it’s something of a time portal into the travails of 16th century astronomy.

Donahoe, who translated Kepler’s “Astronomia Nova” from Latin, says pinpointing the coordinates of bright stars and planets produces lots of “ah-hah moments” for student. The sphere is not yet part of the college curriculum.

Measurements taken by Brahe were accurate enough to challenge fundamental astronomical conceptions and misconceptions and help pave the way for Isaac Newton’s theory of gravity and the laws of motion, Donahue says.

Tracking orbits also was no easy feat in an age where mechanical clocks could be maddeningly inaccurate. Then came the telescope.

“In 1609 Galileo turned his telescope on the sky — and that changed everything,” Donahue said.

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NKorea ending test moratoriums…

Seoul (AFP) – North Korean leader Kim Jong Un has declared that Pyongyang is abandoning its moratoriums on nuclear and intercontinental ballistic missile tests, state media reported Wednesday.

“There is no ground for us to get unilaterally bound to the commitment any longer,” the official KCNA news agency cited him telling top ruling party officials.

“The world will witness a new strategic weapon to be possessed by the DPRK in the near future,” it cited him as saying.

Kim declared in 2018 that the North had no further need for nuclear or ICBM tests, and Wednesday’s announcement threatens to upend the nuclear diplomacy of the last two years, with US President Donald Trump regularly referring to Kim’s “promise” to him not to carry any out.

But nuclear negotiations between the two have been largely deadlocked since the breakup of their Hanoi summit in February, and the North set the US an end-of-year deadline for it to offer fresh concessions, or it would adopt a “new way”.

Kim’s statement to a full plenum of the central committee of the ruling Workers’ Party made clear that the North was willing to live under international sanctions to preserve its nuclear capability.

“The US is raising demands contrary to the fundamental interests of our state and is adopting brigandish attitude,” KCNA cited him as saying.

Washington had “conducted tens of big and small joint military drills which its president personally promised to stop” and sent high-tech military equipment to the South, he said, and stepped up sanctions against the North.

“We can never sell our dignity,” he added, saying Pyongyang would “shift to a shocking actual action to make (the US) pay for the pains sustained by our people”.

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AMAZON delivery driver steals UPS package from home…

WILKES-BARRE, Pa. (AP) — An Amazon delivery driver stole a package that was delivered earlier by UPS at a Pennsylvania home, police said.

A woman in Wilkes-Barre reported a package being stolen from her home Monday.

Surveillance footage showed a UPS driver dropping off a package at the house. Later that afternoon, an Amazon driver dropped off two packages and took the UPS package as he was leaving.

Wilkes-Barre police said charges will be filed once the Amazon driver is identified.

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Kim promises new weapon soon…

SEOUL, South Korea (AP) — North Korean leader Kim Jong Un has accused the Trump administration of dragging its feet in nuclear negotiations and warned that his country will soon show a new strategic weapon to the world as its bolsters its nuclear deterrent in face of “gangster-like” U.S. sanctions and pressure.

The North’s state media said Wednesday that Kim made the comments during a four-day ruling party conference held through Tuesday in the capital Pyongyang, where he declared that the North will never give up its security for economic benefits in the face of what he described as increasing U.S. hostility and nuclear threats.

Kim’s comments came after a monthslong standoff between Washington and Pyongyang over disagreements involving disarmament steps and the removal of sanctions imposed on the North.

“He said that we will never allow the impudent U.S. to abuse the DPRK-U.S. dialogue for meeting its sordid aim but will shift to a shocking actual action to make it pay for the pains sustained by our people so far and for the development so far restrained,” the Korean Central News Agency said, referring to the North by its formal name, the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea.

Kim added that “if the U.S. persists in its hostile policy toward the DPRK, there will never be the denuclearization on the Korean Peninsula and the DPRK will steadily develop necessary and prerequisite strategic weapons for the security of the state until the U.S. rolls back its hostile policy,” according to the agency.

However, Kim showed no clear indication of abandoning negotiations with the United States entirely or restarting tests of nuclear bombs and intercontinental ballistic missiles he had suspended under a self-imposed moratorium in 2018.

He did issue a warning that there would be no grounds for the North to get “unilaterally bound” to the moratorium any longer, criticizing the United States for continuing its joint military exercises with rival South Korea and also providing the South with advanced weaponry.

“In the past two years alone when the DPRK took preemptive and crucial measures of halting its nuclear test and ICBM test-fire and shutting down the nuclear-test ground for building confidence between the DPRK and the U.S., the U.S., far from responding to the former with appropriate measures, conducted tens of big and small joint military drills which its president personally promised to stop and threatened the former militarily through the shipment of ultra-modern warfare equipment into (South Korea),” the KCNA quoted Kim as saying.

Some experts say North Korea, which has always been sensitive about electoral changes in U.S. government, will avoid engaging in serious negotiations for a deal with Washington in coming months as it watches how Trump’s impending impeachment trial over his dealings with Ukraine affects U.S. presidential elections in November.

Kim and President Donald Trump have met three times since June 2018, but negotiations have faltered since the collapse of their second summit last February in Vietnam, where the Americans rejected North Korean demands for broad sanctions relief in exchange for a partial surrender of its nuclear capabilities.

Kim’s speech followed months of intensified testing activity and belligerent statements issued by various North Korean officials, raising concerns that he was reverting to confrontation and preparing to do something provocative if Washington doesn’t back down and relieve sanctions.

The North announced in December that it performed two “crucial” tests at its long-range rocket launch site that would further strengthen its nuclear deterrent, prompting speculation that it was developing an ICBM or planning a satellite launch that would provide an opportunity to advance its missile technologies.

North Korea also last year ended a 17-month pause in ballistic activity by testing a slew of solid-fuel weapons that potentially expanded its capabilities to strike targets in South Korea and Japan, including U.S. military bases there. It also threatened to lift a self-imposed moratorium on the testing of nuclear bombs and ICBMs.

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Sleep-deprived workers twice as likely to get fired…

If you’re like an increasing number of Americans, you’re not getting enough sleep – and that could cost you your job, according to a new survey.

Exhausted employees are twice as likely to get fired because of poor work performance or tardiness compared with well-rested workers, according to survey data shared exclusively with Yahoo Money by eachnight, a sleep product review and advice site.

Bouncing back after a job loss is also harder for sleep-deprived workers who took an average of 5.1 months to find a new job, versus 3.4 months for those who got more sleep. The company polled online 1,001 people using Amazon Mechanical Turk.

Graphic Credit: David Foster/Yahoo Finance

“Good sleep and productivity are correlated,” said John Bernasconi, author of the survey report. “An energetic person who’s taking care of themselves is probably better positioned to make decisions and engage in behaviors that lead to happiness in their personal or career life.”

More Americans are sleep-deprived

Exhausted workers slept on average 6 hours and 22 minutes a night, according to the survey, much less than the 7 to 9 hours recommended by the National Sleep Foundation for working-age adults.

The survey also underscores the growing number of Americans who aren’t getting enough rest. 

One in 3 Americans sleep 6 hours or less each night, according to an analysis of the National Health Interview Survey data. That’s up 4% from 2010 to 2017, with the sharpest increases among African Americans and Hispanics.

“It might not sound like a lot, but 4% of adults is about the population of New York City,” said Connor Sheehan, the study’s author and an assistant professor at Arizona State University.

Exhausted workers slept on average of 6 hours and 22 minutes a night, much less than the 7 to 9 hours recommended for those between 26 and 64. (Photo: Richard Baker/In Pictures via Getty Images Images)

One possible culprit for shorter nighttime rest is the spike in smartphone usage before bedtime, Sheehan said.

“When you bring a bright, stressful light into your bed with you every night, that’s not really great for your sleep,” he said. “If you read work emails, Facebook posts, or tweets, that’s not going to help you, either.

Financial drag on employers

Exhaustion has a ripple effect on not just your performance, but also on how much you cost your employer, the eachnight survey found.

Tired employees are twice as likely to make mistakes at work. (Photo: NICOLAS ASFOURI/AFP via Getty Images)

Tired employees feel unfocused an average of 3 hours and 11 minutes each day, almost twice as much as more energetic workers. 

They’re also twice as likely to make mistakes at work compared with their more well-rested coworkers. Those mistakes mean lost money. Employers spend $1,254 more a year on fatigued workers because of their mistakes and the time it takes to correct those mistakes, the survey found.

“There are notable differences between energetic people and exhausted people,” Bernasconi said. “Whether you’re an employee or an employee, it’s important to know that happy, healthy employees are more productive as well.”

Denitsa is a writer for Yahoo Finance. Follow her on Twitter @denitsa_tsekova.

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MAG: Victimhood Culture Leads to Anti-Semitism…

Police have arrested a 38-year-old black man from Orange Country, New York, for stabbing five Jews in the home of a Hasidic rabbi in Monsey, New York, on the 7th night of Hanukah. If you’re a New Yorker or a Jew or both, you’re asking why. Why has yet another African American attacked Jews? Why has black-on-Jewish assault become a continuous feature of life in and around New York? Why now?

Because the country is seized by the politics of victimhood and there’s nothing that self-pitying “victims” find easier than blaming Jews for their misery.

The names given to the bogeymen of today’s populism are all historical code words for Jews. On the populist right, this means the elite, the globalists, and the media. On the populist left, it’s Wall Street, the wealthy, and the 1 percent. If that’s not enough, the left has also decided that Jews—a minority who make up 2.2 percent of the American population—are “hyper white” and, in Marxist terms, actually part of the power structure that keeps minorities down.

It’s no secret that right-wing populism has facilitated a violent, sometimes deadly, rise in Jew-hatred, but it’s forbidden to draw similar conclusions about the populist left. At least in public. There are two reasons for this: First, pointing out the problem on the right is a means of attacking Donald Trump. Second, addressing the problem on the left would mean facing the outsize role that black Americans have played in recent attacks on Jews.

On the first point, it is not only wrong to blame Trump for right-wing anti-Semitism; it’s perverse. How anyone gets away with claiming that the president doesn’t condemn Jew-hatred is beyond me. He condemns it at every turn. He devoted an unprecedentedly large chunk of his last State of the Union address to denouncing anti-Semitism and vowing to fight it wherever it may arise. He recently moved to crack down on anti-Semitism on college campuses (and was denounced as a racist by the left). For his commitment to fighting Jew-hatred and his unfaltering support of Israel he has earned the enmity of far-right anti-Semites.

On the second point, the facts speak for themselves. Throughout 2019, African Americans attacked Orthodox Jews in Brooklyn on a more-or-less weekly basis and it barely ever made the mainstream news. It wasn’t until two members of the Black Hebrew Israelites shot up a kosher market in Jersey City in early December that the media was forced into acknowledging reality.

The left’s leading populists have fetishized the victim status of certain minorities, including African Americans. They’ve made slavery and its legacy the focal points of American life. They’ve determined, without evidence, that police are on a campaign to kill unarmed blacks. And they speak generally as if we’ve suddenly been transported to a pre-civil-rights-movement America.

What’s more, unlike Donald Trump, some of the left’s leading populists have gone out of their way to steer their followers toward blaming the Jews. The stand-out figures here are Minnesota Congresswoman Ilhan Omar and Michigan Congresswoman Rashida Tlaib. Their public record of blaming Jewish money for corrupting American politics is so well known that it needs no rehearsing here. And it’s either been ignored or defended by the larger left. If you called either of them out on their anti-Semitism, you were charged with racism and misogyny. Democratic leaders were so petrified of Omar that they couldn’t even pass a House resolution condemning her blatant anti-Semitic remarks.

But the problem on the left goes beyond Omar and Tlaib. And it goes beyond the rest of the Squad, who engage in constant anti-Israel theatrics. It stretches to the identitarian populism of most of the 2020 Democratic candidates for president, to the liberal garment-rending over the defeat of the anti-Semitic Jeremy Corbyn, to the intersectional gobbledygook that divides college campuses by ethnicity, to the Women’s March activists who embrace Louis Farrakhan, and down to the community level, where, for example, the NAACP, Passaic branch posts Facebook rants blaming tainted water supplies on the Jews.

Historically, indulged victims have needed no encouragement in pointing their finger at Jews. Telling them that others are responsible for their woes has usually been enough to get them headed in that direction. But some on today’s left have given Jew-hatred an extra nudge. Their winks, dog-whistles, and outright calumnies have served as a noxious propaganda campaign and led to a surge of minority anti-Semitism. With the attempted murders in Monsey, this can no longer be kept a secret, and maybe those who have facilitated it will begin to know a little shame.

Abe Greenwald is senior editor of Commentary.

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Second Senate Republican questios impeachment trial…

WASHINGTON — Senator Susan Collins, Republican from Maine, criticized some of her Senate colleagues, including the majority leader, for appearing to “prejudge the evidence” in impeachment proceedings against President Trump, becoming the second Republican senator to question Senator Mitch McConnell’s pledge to coordinate with the White House.

Impeachment rules require a simple majority vote, meaning McConnell, a Kentucky Republican, can afford to lose only four members of his conference if he is to set the parameters of a trial. Senator Lisa Murkowski, Republican from Alaska, another moderate with an independent streak, said last week that she was “disturbed” by McConnell’s promise to work with the White House counsel to set the terms of the trial.

Both Murkowski and Collins also offered noncommittal positions on calling witnesses to an impeachment trial, which Democrats have pushed and McConnell has resisted. And both women questioned why the House did not go to court when administration officials ignored subpoenas. (Democrats, who control the House, have asserted that going to court to compel testimony from administration officials would take too long when the 2020 election is already in danger.)

“It is inappropriate, in my judgment, for senators on either side of the aisle to prejudge the evidence before they have heard what is presented to us, because each of us will take an oath, an oath that I take very seriously to render impartial justice,” Collins said in an interview with Maine Public Radio that was broadcast Monday. “That’s what it says, impartial justice.”

She specifically referenced remarks from McConnell, that he would take his cues from the White House, and from Senator Elizabeth Warren, Democrat from Massachusetts, a contender for the Democratic presidential nomination, who openly supported the impeachment of the president.

“There are senators on both sides of the aisle, who, to me, are not giving the appearance of and the reality of judging this in an impartial way,” she said, a sentiment she echoed in a separate interview with News Center Maine, a local television station.

With Collins and Murkowski doubting their leaders’ approach, scrutiny will fall on independent-minded Republicans like Senator Mitt Romney of Utah and retiring Republicans such as Senator Lamar Alexander of Tennessee, who could force Republican and Democratic leaders to work out the terms of a trial the way they did in 1999 with the impeachment trial of President Bill Clinton.

Collins, who was in the Senate during that trial, has repeatedly refused to weigh in on the allegations that Trump abused the power of his office and obstructed Congress, citing the need to remain impartial. She told both media outlets that she had compiled a thick notebook with documents from the last trial and had pressed Senate leaders to adhere to the framework set in 1999.

Drawing on her experience from the Clinton trial, Collins also said she was “open” to hearing from witnesses during proceedings against Trump. Democrats, led by Senator Chuck Schumer of New York, the minority leader, have pressured McConnell to allow them to call members of the Trump administration to testify in a trial.

Senator Doug Jones, Democrat from Alabama, one of his caucus’s most vulnerable members, said in an opinion piece published Monday in The Washington Post that “for Americans to have confidence in the impeachment process, the Senate must conduct a full, fair and complete trial with all relevant evidence regarding the president’s conduct.”

But while Schumer said in his opening proposal to McConnell that the issue of witnesses and documents should be determined before the trial begins, Collins said that she would prefer to wait to decide who specifically should be called.

“I think it’s premature to decide who should be called until we see the evidence that is presented and get the answers to the questions that we senators can submit through the chief justice to both sides,” she told the radio station.

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Philly homicide rate hits high for decade; 354 killed…

Philadelphia’s new police chief has a challenging agenda ahead that includes addressing the city’s gun violence and homicide rates.

Two shooting deaths Tuesday make 2019 the city’s deadliest year in a decade. Police say one man was fatally shot near Temple University Hospital and another in the Hunting Park section.

Police have tallied 355 slayings this year, two more than 2018. The count had fallen to about 250 to 275 homicides annually from 2013 to 2016.

Police say they’ve made arrests this year in just over half the homicide cases.

Separately, they say more than 1,450 people were shot in the city this year.

Philadelphia Mayor Jim Kenney announced Monday that he’d selected Police Chief Danielle Outlaw of Portland, Oregon, to lead the 6,500-member force.

Outlaw says she’s prepared for the challenge and calls gun violence a top priority.

Philadelphia, with about 1.5 million people, has more homicides than New York City, which has five times as many people but stricter gun laws.

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Republican senator: 'Inappropriate' for McConnell, Warren to 'prejudge' impeachment…

Sen. Susan Collins (R-Maine) told Maine Public Radio Tuesday that it was “inappropriate” for Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky). and Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.) to “prejudge the evidence” in President Trump’s forthcoming Senate impeachment trial.

What she’s saying: “[E]ach of us will take an oath — an oath that I take very seriously to render impartial justice. … There are senators on both sides of the aisle, who, to me, are not giving the appearance of and the reality of judging that’s in an impartial way.”

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