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China claims to have successfully tested its first hypersonic aircraft

(CNN)China claims to have successfully tested its first hypersonic aircraft, a big step forward in aerospace technology that could intensify pressure on the US military.

Hypersonic vehicles are not simply high-speed — they travel at least at five times the speed of sound. That’s fast enough to travel across the US in around 30 minutes.
According to a CAAA statement released Monday, the Starry Sky-2 reached a top speed of Mach 6 — six times the speed of sound, or 4,563 miles (7,344 kilometers) per hour.
    The test was a “complete success,” claimed CAAA, which posted photos of the test launch on social media platform WeChat. “The Starry Sky-2 flight test project was strongly innovative and technically difficult, confronting a number of cutting-edge international technical challenges.”
    The CAAA did not indicate what the new aircraft or technology would be used for, other than to say they hoped to continue contributing to China’s aerospace industry.
    Militaries around the world have been racing for years to develop hypersonic weapons. In 2015, the US Air Force announced their goal to develop a hypersonic weapon by 2023. Just this year, Russia claimed to have successfully tested its first hypersonic missiles, and released videos of the weapons in July.
    Hypersonic missiles fly into space after launch, but then come down and fly at high speeds on a flight path similar to an airplane. Their lower trajectory make them more difficult for defense satellites and radars to detect.
    Hypersonic technology can also be used for more benign purposes. Boeing, the world’s largest aircraft manufacturer, is conceptualizing a hypersonic passenger plane that could take travelers from New York to London in 120 minutes.
    The Starry Sky-2 was launched into space by a multistage rocket, before separating and beginning its independent flight.
    According to CAAA it performed several turns and other movements during its flight, and landed successfully afterward.
    “The flight tester is controllable, and the scientific data is valid. The complete recovery of the rocket marks the successful completion of the Star-2 flight test, marking the feat of ‘the first Chinese waverider’,”the statement said.
    “Waverider” is a type of hypersonic aircraft that uses its own shock waves as a lifting surface, thereby improving its lift-to-drag ratio.
    Apart from reaching superfast speeds, CAAA claimed the aircraft also successfully tested an advanced heat-balance thermal protection system.
    The test marks the first time China has officially confirmed its research of waveriders, China Daily reported.

    American anxiety

    The US has been experimenting with unmanned hypersonic aircraft for years, and successfully tested the Boeing X-51 Waverider between 2010 and 2013. It reached a top speed above Mach 5 before crashing into the ocean, as intended.
    However, China’s new claim may put additional pressure on the US, as Gen. John Hyten of US Strategic Command acknowledged earlier this year.
    “China has tested hypersonic capabilities. Russia has tested. We have as well. Hypersonic capabilities are a significant challenge,” Hyten told CNN in March. “We are going to need a different set of sensors in order to see the hypersonic threats. Our adversaries know that.”
    Former Deputy Secretary of Defense Robert Work also warned in June that the US was in danger of being surpassed by China in terms of military technology, according to USNI (US Naval Institute) News.
    Speaking at a forum, Work pointed to Beijing’s rising defense spending, which has led to significant progress in electronic warfare, big data, and hypersonic guns.
    “This race is one we have to win,” he added.

    Read more: https://www.cnn.com/2018/08/07/china/china-hypersonic-aircraft-intl/index.html

    Toyota unveils second-generation hydrogen-powered semi truck

    Toyota just doubled the size of its hydrogen-powered truck fleet.

    From one to two.

    (Hey, it’s a start.)

    The automaker on Monday unveiled the second generation of its Project Portal semi-truck, which is larger, lighter and has a longer range than the original that was put to work shipping cargo between the ports of Long Beach and Los Angeles last year and has since covered over 10,000 miles.


    Both of the Class 8 trucks use technology from the Toyota Mirai hydrogen fuel cell car and emit only water vapor as emissions. The fuel cell generates electricity to power two electric motors with a combined output of 670 hp and 1,327 lb-ft of torque.

    The new truck – based again on a Kenworth as Toyota’s Hino truck division doesn’t make a truck this big – uses 10 fuel tanks instead of 6, which increases its range from 200 to 300 miles.

    Toyota and its technology partner Ricardo are considering turning the system into an easy to install module, according to Trucks.com, but for now the new red Beta truck will join the blue Alpha in southern California for additional tests down at the docks.

    Gary Gastelu is FoxNews.com’s Automotive Editor.

    Read more: http://www.foxnews.com/auto/2018/07/31/toyota-unveils-second-generation-hydrogen-powered-semi-truck.html

    This Is Why Some White T-Shirts Sell For $5 And Others Cost $125

    If you’ve ever looked at a $5 H&M white T-shirt, you’ll notice it doesn’t look all that different from a plain white designer tee that sells for upwards of $300.What’s the deal with the price difference? Is the designer tee just ridiculously marked up, or is there more to it than that?

    There are plenty of factors involved in determining the retail price of a T-shirt, many of which the average consumer probably doesn’t think about while shopping. Everything from the type of fabric to the manufacturing process to the branding can have an effect on how much we pay. How do we know that what we’re getting is worth it? Or, alternatively, what exactly are we paying for?

    The answers aren’t that simple, but we spoke to a few experts who gave us some insight into the world of the wardrobe staple. 

    Let’s start with the fabric. 

    “Fabric is the largest cost component of most wearing apparel,” Margaret Bishop, a professor at Parsons New School for Design and at The Fashion Institute of Technology, told HuffPost, adding that fiber “is the largest cost component of most fabric.” 

    So what exactly does that mean? Well, let’s look at cotton, one of the most common fabrics used for basic white T-shirts. Preeti Gopinath, associate professor of textiles and director of the MFA textile program at Parsons New School for Design, explained that higher grades of cotton will cost more than lower grades. 

    The grading, she said, is “usually based on the length of the staple, which is the length of each individual baby fiber in [the fabric]. The longer the fiber, the smoother the yarn will be. If the fiber is short, many short fibers twist together and you’ll have more joints in the yarn. The more joints, the more texture.” 

    Then there’s the variety and quality of cotton ― is it Sea Island cotton? Egyptian cotton? Pima cotton? That choice further affects the cost, and if elastane is added to the cotton for stretch and better recovery ability, that adds to the cost as well. 

    There are also branded fibers, which, you guessed it, cost more than unbranded ones (similar to generic versus brand-name pharmaceuticals). For instance, the brand name for pima cotton is Supima, and that name has a marketing cost associated with it, Bishop explained. 

    Processes called carding and combing also add a cost to the final product. Carding cotton is the standard process of brushing fibers before twisting them into yarn. That can be followed by combing, which gets rid of any shorts bits in the yarn and gives it a smooth finish, Gopinath explained. Combing leads to a smoother, higher-quality yarn that’s also more expensive. 

    On top of all that, Bishop and Gopinath noted, if cotton is 100 percent organic, it will come with a higher price tag. Something that is made of a blend of cotton and a synthetic fabric, like polyester, on the other hand, will likely be cheaper; polyester and other synthetic fabrics are cheaper fibers, Gopinath said. 

    It’s not necessarily true that a designer T-shirt will be made with the most expensive cotton available, but, as Bishop explained, “it’s more likely that if it’s a very low price, the quality is not going to be as good as it will be for many of the more expensive brands.” 

    Barcroft Media via Getty Images
    Workers dye cloth for T-shirts at a factory in Narayangonj, Bangladesh.

    Then there’s manufacturing. 

    Both the labor involved in making a T-shirt and the country in which it’s manufactured play a role in determining the cost of a product, though one much more than the other.

    According to Bishop, “Many people erroneously think the labor cost makes a big difference in the cost of a T-shirt, but the labor is a very small portion of the overall cost of the garment.” 

    If a brand is made overseas, Gopinath expanded, the labor may add practically nothing to the final price of a T-shirt. “It’s negligible,” she said, noting that it may add “a few cents … if it’s a mass-produced T-shirt made in Bangladesh.”

    “If we see how much an American is paid, even at the lowest minimum wage of $8 an hour, if you convert that into Indian or Bangladeshi rupees, no one is paid that kind of money [in India or Bangladesh],” Gopinath said. “That’s like a king’s ransom already for the person overseas. They’re paid, in our equivalency, maybe a dollar or 50 cents, not even per T-shirt, but maybe per hour or per a few hours of work.”

    Again, not every single cheap T-shirt is made in India or Bangladesh, where the minimum wage is significantly lower than in the U.S., but it’s extremely common. Just take a look at any of your H&M and Forever 21 tees, and you’ll notice many of them say “Made in Bangladesh.” 

    The economy of scale also plays a role in figuring out the overall cost. That means if a company produces 10,000 shirts, it would be cheaper than producing only 10 shirts, Gopinath explained. So, if the same mass-produced shirt made in Bangladesh for $5 was made in the U.S. in a small batch of, say, 20, the cost of labor and the retail price would be much higher, she added.

    There’s an ethical component involved, too. As we’ve learned over the years, the garment industry, especially in places like Bangladesh, doesn’t have a great track record for providing safe work environments or fair wages for employees. Yet, we still bring those $5 T-shirts up to the cash register and revel in our thriftiness. 

    And while we tend to associate “Made in America” with higher prices, Bishop said that doesn’t always need to be the case. She said that in some of her research, she found that people were able to produce T-shirts in the United States affordably while still making a profit. 

    When it comes to the country of manufacture, it affects the overall cost largely because of import duties and shipping costs, Bishop said. 

    “Import duty on clothing is determined by the garment style, fiber content and country of manufacture. If a T-shirt is manufactured in a country that has a free trade agreement with the United States, the import duty will be zero,” Bishop said. “That same T-shirt, manufactured in another country, could have an import duty of 20 percent or more, depending on the fiber content and country of manufacture.” 

    There are also shipping costs involved with sending T-shirts from other countries to the United States. Bishop said that shipping white T-shirts from China, Vietnam, Thailand or Bangladesh to the U.S. will cost more in time and money than shipping from Haiti, Mexico or Central America.

    And, of course, there’s marketing. 

    As is the case with many products in the fashion and beauty industry, you pay for the name. So, if you go to H&M knowing it’s a fast-fashion retailer, you expect to pay $10 or less for a white T-shirt. But if you buy luxury goods from brands like The Row (which sells a T-shirt for $320) or Maison Margiela (which sells a three-pack of T-shirts for $340), you’re paying for the prestige on top of the product. 

    “Each brand or retailer has its own overhead, its own profit margin requirements and its own brand values,” Bishop said. “Some brands prioritize delivering a good quality product to its consumers at an affordable price, others prioritize creating brand buzz and status, and sometimes use high prices as a part of doing so.” 

    Does that mean a higher price tag is always worth it? 

    Not necessarily. 

    In some cases, sure, a $100 or $200 T-shirt may warrant such a price tag. For instance, Gopinath said, if a company is using eco-friendly and sustainable processes to make T-shirts in small batches in the U.S. with a small ecological footprint, those products would definitely cost more. But at the same time, “you can get what looks like the same thing made in Bangladesh or India for $5.” 

    As Bishop noted, “You could have a very expensive brand that actually makes and sells low-quality product, and you could have a more affordable brand that sells very high-quality product.”

    There are some brands out there, like Everlane and Kotn, trying to bridge the gap between quality and affordability, without allowing unfair and unethical treatment in the manufacturing process. 

    We spoke to Benjamin Sehl, co-founder of Kotn, a clothing company offering cotton basics designed in Canada and made in Egypt, who said if a consumer wants to take care of their garments and have them for a long time, “they should probably be investing in better quality pieces that are going to last and not fall apart in the wash.”

    “The more people that see the value in better-quality garments, especially ones that are ethically made,” Sehl said, the more they will vote with their dollars. Then brands will be motivated to take steps toward quality goods and ethical practices.

    He agreed it’s difficult for a consumer to determine whether an expensive T-shirt is better than a cheaper one, but he encouraged everyone to do a little research into their go-to brands.   

    According to Bishop, there are some things to look for when you want to make sure you’re getting a quality tee. 

    For instance, if you hold the fabric up to the light, the yarn is generally much more uniform and smooth in a high-quality fabric. You can also train your fingertips to feel the fabric. A nice quality T-shirt should feel smoother, she said. 

    Now that you’re armed with knowledge to assess the value of your next white T-shirt, the choices are up to you.

    Read more: http://www.huffingtonpost.com/entry/white-t-shirt-cost_us_5b801dc9e4b0729515127306

    We can do a deal if Canada respects America’s growth industries

    (CNN)The newly announced preliminary trade deal with Mexico is a welcome breakthrough in the Trump administration’s trade strategy. It should benefit workers and consumers in both countries and should provide needed stability to the Mexican economy.

    It’s a somewhat shocking turn of events that the Trump administration is closer to finalizing a trade deal with Mexico than with Canada. The newly elected Mexican president, Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador has leftist leanings, but he wanted this deal confirmed. Ostensibly, he understands that Mexico needs access to the American consumer market for the economy to grow and for wages to rise as promised.
    North of the border, trade negotiations with Canada have stalled over issues like tariffs on dairy products, steel and automobiles. The Canadians have also delayed progress by bringing up issues of climate change, labor safeguards, gender equity issues and so on. These issues are political nonstarters with the Trump administration and shouldn’t be part of trade deals that are meant to facilitate the free flow of goods and services across the border.
      We hope these get resolved quickly and in ways that lead to less encumbered North American trade. But one issue that US trade negotiators shouldn’t sweep under the rug is Ottawa’s disregard for American intellectual property — our computer software, drugs, movies and other patented or copyrighted products.
      This is a big deal because the technological breakthroughs, the creativity and invention that create intellectual property support 45.5 million American jobs — one-third of the workforce — and contribute $6.6 trillion to our GDP.
      Most Americans know that China is engaged in egregious ‎thievery of American IP. For the 14th consecutive year, the United States Trade Representative’s report on IP identifies far-reaching abuses in China, including forced technology transfers, trade secret theft, online piracy and counterfeiting, offline counterfeit manufacturing and export, and localization requirements that force companies to locate research and development facilities in China. The cost to American companies is in the hundreds of billions of dollars a year. But China is not a country that has a long history of respecting the rule of law.
      Canada is the surprise new addition to this year’s Priority Watch List for IP abuses. The United States Trade Representative’s report has placed Canada on the list because of concerns including, “poor border and law enforcement with respect to counterfeit or pirated goods, weak patent and pricing environment for innovative pharmaceuticals, deficient copyright protection, and inadequate transparency and due process regarding geographical indications.”
      Canada is not letting our customs officials stop pirated and counterfeit goods that flow through Canada into the United States — serving as an enabler to Chinese companies and other high-volume counterfeiters, according to a 2018 report released by the USTR. And there were no criminal prosecutions for counterfeiting by Canada in 2017, indicating it isn’t doing its own enforcing either.
      USTR also criticizes Canada for an ill-defined educational exception for copyrighted material, for denying remuneration to US creators and performers and for proposed changes that would further ratchet down the country’s prescription drug price controls.
      It’s a sad state of affairs when our relatively poor neighbor, Mexico, respects American property rights and patents more than our relatively rich one: Canada.

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      All this is happening while Trudeau and Foreign Minister Chrystia Freeland accuse the United States of unfair trade practices and tariffs. As hypocritical as it sounds, the Canadians do have legitimate complaints about the new aluminum and steel tariffs imposed by the Trump administration, and in a new North American Free Trade Agreement with Canada, those tariffs should be eliminated.
      We desperately want to see a North American free trade zone with little or no tariffs across our borders, but that can’t happen if Canada continues to blatantly violate our IP protections. ‎Canada must be held to American standards on intellectual property, which in the medium and long run would advance investment, innovation and global technological prowess in both nations over the decades to come.
      ‎USTR Robert Lighthizer understands how critical IP protections are, noting that this year’s report on intellectual property rights “sends a clear signal to our trading partners that the protection of Americans’ intellectual property rights is a priority of the Trump administration.”
      It should be. On trade, no one wants Canada left out in the cold — but we can’t have a 21st century NAFTA trade deal if Canada keeps skimming off the top from our highest value-added industries.

      Read more: https://www.cnn.com/2018/08/29/opinions/us-mexico-trade-canada-in-cold-opinion-moore-kerpen/index.html

      Bomb that killed 40 children in Yemen was supplied by the US

      (CNN)The bomb used by the Saudi-led coalition in a devastating attack on a school bus in Yemen was sold as part of a US State Department-sanctioned arms deal with Saudi Arabia, munitions experts told CNN.

      The bomb is very similar to the one that wreaked devastation in an attack on a funeral hall in Yemen in October 2016 in which 155 people were killed and hundreds more wounded. The Saudi coalition blamed “incorrect information” for that strike, admitted it was a mistake and took responsibility.
      In March of that year, a strike on a Yemeni market — this time reportedly by a US-supplied precision-guided MK 84 bomb — killed 97 people.
        In the aftermath of the funeral hall attack, former US President Barack Obama banned the sale of precision-guided military technology to Saudi Arabia over “human rights concerns.”
        The ban was overturned by the Trump administration’s then-Secretary of State Rex Tillerson in March 2017.
        As the US-backed Saudi-led coalition scrambles to investigate the strike on the school bus, questions are growing from observers and rights groups about whether the US bears any moral culpability. The US says it does not make targeting decisions for the coalition, which is fighting a Houthi rebel insurgency in Yemen. But it does support its operations through billions of dollars in arms sales, the refueling of Saudi combat aircraft and some sharing of intelligence.
        “I will tell you that we do help them plan what we call, kind of targeting,” said US Secretary of Defense James Mattis. “We do not do dynamic targeting for them.”
        The latest strike has left the community in Yemen’s northern Saada governorate reeling.
        Zeid Al Homran visits the graveyard where his two little boys are buried every day. On this occasion, he brought their five-year-old brother along. He is all Al Homran has left.
        “I was screaming in anger and all around me women were throwing themselves on the ground,” he told CNN. “People were screaming out the names of their children. I tried to tell the women it couldn’t be true but then a man ran through the crowd shouting that a plane had struck the children’s bus.”

        ‘Bodies scattered everywhere’

        The bomb’s impact as it landed on the bus full of excited schoolchildren on a day trip was devastating.
        Of the 51 people who died in the airstrike, 40 were children, Houthi Health Minister Taha al-Mutawakil said last week. He added that of the 79 people wounded, 56 were children.
        Eyewitnesses told CNN it was a direct hit in the middle of a busy market.
        “I saw the bomb hit the bus,” one witness said. “It blew it into those shops and threw the bodies clear to the other side of those buildings. We found bodies scattered everywhere, there was a severed head inside the bomb crater. When we found that, that was when I started running. I was so afraid.”
        Some of the bodies were so mutilated that identification became impossible. Left behind were scraps of schoolbooks, warped metal and a single backpack.
        Images of shrapnel filmed in the immediate aftermath of the attack were sent to CNN by a contact in Saada. Subsequently, a cameraman working for CNN filmed footage of the shrapnel after the cleanup operation had begun.
        Munitions experts confirmed that the numbers on it identified Lockheed Martin as its maker and that this particular MK 82 was a Paveway, a laser-guided bomb.
        Asked to comment on CNN’s evidence, coalition spokesman Col. Turki al-Maliki said: “The democratically elected government of Yemen has been displaced by an Iranian-backed insurgency by minority Houthi militias.”
        “The coalition is in Yemen with the support of the UN Security Council to restore the legitimate government. The coalition is operating in accordance with international humanitarian law, taking all practical measures to minimize civilian casualties. Every civilian casualty is a tragedy.”
        He added that it would not “be appropriate for the coalition to comment further while the investigation is underway.”
        Saudi Arabia denies targeting civilians and defended the incident as a “legitimate military operation” and a retaliatory response to a Houthi ballistic missile from the day before.
        A Pentagon spokeswoman, Lt. Cmdr. Rebecca Rebarich, declined to confirm the provenance of the bomb.
        “The US has worked with the Saudi-led coalition to help them improve procedures and oversight mechanisms to reduce civilian casualties,” she said.
        “While we do not independently verify claims of civilian casualties in which we are not directly involved, we call on all sides to reduce such casualties, including those caused via ballistic missile attacks on civilian population centers in Saudi Arabia.”
        The United Nations has called for a separate investigation into the strike, one of the deadliest since Yemen’s war began in early 2015. Since then, the Saudi-led coalition has battled rebels in support of exiled President Abdu Rabbu Mansour Hadi.

        Greater US oversight

        There have been growing calls in the US Congress for Saudi Arabia, a key US ally in the Middle East, to do more to cut civilian deaths in Yemen, where three years of conflict have taken a terrible toll.
        On Monday, US President Donald Trump signed a defense spending bill that includes a clause requiring the Pentagon and State Department to certify that Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates, another key coalition member, are doing enough to reduce civilian casualties. This report must be submitted to Congress within 180 days and then annually for the next two years.

          Dad finds the body of his son killed in airstrike

        The US, alongside the UK and France, is a major supplier of arms to Saudi Arabia.
        Trump signed a nearly $110 billion defense deal with Saudi Arabia’s King Salman bin Abdulaziz Al Saud in May last year in the Saudi capital, Riyadh, on what was his first stop abroad as President.
        In the same month, the US government reauthorized the export of Paveway munitions to Saudi Arabia, ending Obama’s December 2016 ban.
        Retired Rear Adm. John Kirby, who served as a spokesman for the State Department and Pentagon under Obama, said the Saudis had a right to defend themselves against missile attacks from the Iranian-backed Houthis but that the Obama administration did not believe they were striking the right balance between that need and proper care for civilian life.
        Asked whether the US had moral complicity in the deaths in Yemen, he said: “The issue of complicity is one that international lawyers probably are best to work out, not somebody like me.”
        “What I would tell you is that we certainly had under the Obama administration deep concerns about the way the Saudis were targeting, and we acted on those concerns by limiting the kinds of munitions that they were being given and stridently trying to argue for them to be more careful and cautious.”

        ‘Legitimate military action’

        In the immediate aftermath of the strike, al-Maliki, the coalition spokesman, told CNN it had been aimed at a “legitimate target.”
        “No, this is not children in the bus,” he said. “We do have high standard measures for targeting.”
        The Saudi ambassador to the UN, Abdullah Al-Mouallimi, similarly told the Security Council this week that the strike was a “legitimate military action” and that “the targeted Houthi leaders were responsible for recruiting and training young children and sending them to battlefields.”
        “We are not engaged in the civil war. We will help to prevent, you know, the killing of innocent people. I’m very concerned about the humanitarian situation,” US Defense Secretary James Mattis said Sunday when asked about the strike. “Wars are always tragic, but we’ve got to find a way to protect the innocent in the midst of this one.”
        Despite a lack of public condemnation over the school bus strike, there are signs that the Trump administration is taking action behind the scenes.
        US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo discussed the Saudi-led strike with Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman in a call on Monday. A three-star US general also raised the matter while in Saudi Arabia to meet with the Saudi government and other coalition partners, the Pentagon said.
        “The real key is whether or not the Pentagon can help change the calculus, the thinking, inside the Saudi military,” said Kirby.
        The conflict in Yemen has resulted in the world’s worst humanitarian crisis, with more than 22 million people — three-quarters of the population — in desperate need of aid and protection, according to the UN.

        Read more: https://www.cnn.com/2018/08/17/middleeast/us-saudi-yemen-bus-strike-intl/index.html

        Liftoff! NASA Launches Parker Solar Probe To ‘Touch The Sun’

        We just got one step closer to “touching” the sun.

        In the early hours of Sunday morning, a NASA rocket carrying the Parker Solar Probe was successfully launched from Florida’s Cape Canaveral Air Force Station — marking the beginning of a seven-year mission that aims to get the probe closer to the sun than any human-made object has gone before.

        The car-sized probe was launched aboard a Delta IV Heavy rocket at 3:31 a.m. Eastern on Sunday after an initial launch attempt on Saturday was scrubbed because of a last-minute technical glitch

        NASA says the probe will travel directly into the sun’s atmosphere over the course of its mission and will get to within about four million miles of the star’s surface.

        The spacecraft will face heat and radiation “like no spacecraft before it,” the agency said. The probe’s 4.5-inch-thick, 8-foot-wide carbon-composite shield has been built to endure temperatures of nearly 2,500 degrees Fahrenheit.

        NASA hopes the probe — which was named in honor of Dr. Eugene Parker, a University of Chicago professor who successfully predicted the existence of solar wind in 1958 — will help scientists crack some of the sun’s greatest mysteries, including the secret of the corona’s incredibly high temperatures and the origins of and the mechanism behind the acceleration of solar wind.

        “The Sun’s energy is always flowing past our world,” Nicola Fox, mission project scientist at the Johns Hopkins University Applied Physics Laboratory, said in a statement about the mission. “And even though the solar wind is invisible, we can see it encircling the poles as the aurora, which are beautiful ― but reveal the enormous amount of energy and particles that cascade into our atmosphere. We don’t have a strong understanding of the mechanisms that drive that wind toward us, and that’s what we’re heading out to discover.”

        Scientists have been debating these questions for decades, but NASA said technology has finally come far enough to make the solar mission a reality.

        Unlike many planetary exploration missions, which primarily orbit the planet itself, the Parker probe will be swooping closer and closer to the sun by way of an elliptical orbit that will include seven “gravity-assist” flybys of Venus.

        The probe will reach tremendous speeds as it orbits the sun. According to NASA, it is expected to hit 430,000 miles per hour. That’s “fast enough to get from New York City to Tokyo in under a minute,” the agency said.

        According to CNET, the probe is expected to reach the sun in November.

        Read more: http://www.huffingtonpost.com/entry/nasa-parker-solar-probe-launch_us_5b6fe8afe4b0ae32af98c6fe

        Arianna Huffington And Elon Musk Debate The Need For Sleep

        Elon Musk, the chief executive of Tesla, and Arianna Huffington, co-founder of HuffPost, engaged in a public debate in recent days over how much sleep people need.

        In an interview with The New York Times last week, Musk said that the last year had “been the most difficult and painful year of my career” as he struggled to meet Tesla’s production targets. He also revealed that he gets very little sleep, working up to 120 hours a week and relying on Ambien when he manages to squeeze in time for rest.

        Arianna Huffington (left), the co-founder of the HuffPost, is urging Elon Musk (right) to prioritize sleep in his life.

        Huffington, author of the book “The Sleep Revolution” and founder of the wellness site Thrive Global, published an open letter to Musk that urged him to make sleep a priority. 

        “You’re a science and data-driven person,” Huffington wrote. “You’re obsessed with physics, engineering, with figuring out how things work. So apply that same passion for science not just to your products but to yourself. People are not machines. For machines ― whether of the First or Fourth Industrial Revolution variety ― downtime is a bug; for humans, downtime is a feature. The science is clear. And what it tells us is that there’s simply no way you can make good decisions and achieve your world-changing ambitions while running on empty.”

        Musk tweeted his reply at 2:32 a.m. Sunday, per The Los Angeles Times: “Ford & Tesla are the only 2 American car companies to avoid bankruptcy. I just got home from the factory. You think this is an option. It is not.”

        The tweet was later deleted, but Huffington apparently saw it.

        In a statement to CNN, she said: “This is not about sleep, or about slowing down, or about asking Elon to chill out under a mango tree. It’s about how we can unlock and sustain our peak performance, and see solutions and opportunities where others can’t.”

        Singer Kelly Clarkson also joined the discussion:

        Read more: http://www.huffingtonpost.com/entry/elon-musk-arianna-huffington-debate-sleep_us_5b7b9e68e4b0a5b1febe56a0

        New York City’s Subway Responded To Tweet About Fellatio And People Loved It

        The Twitter page for the MTA New York City Transit subway service (@NYCTSubway) got raunchy Monday when it engaged in conversation with an adventurous commuter who asked: “Whose dick do I have to suck to get a train @MTA?” 

        Many accounts on the receiving end of such a question would opt to not respond, but the MTA wrote back just two minutes after the commuter’s initial tweet.

        New Yorkers have a love-hate relationship with the MTA that tends to veer far more into the hate category.

        The subway system is, to put it simply, a hot mess. Trains are consistently late, if they arrive at all, and ride fares continue to go up as service gets worse. All of this is to say that any sort of trust that the MTA will take you from point A to point B has been shot to hell over the years.

        These problems are surely what led to the aforementioned tweet offering someone, anyone, fellatio if only a train would arrive.

        The commuter told HuffPost she was being sarcastic because she was grumpy about a train not arriving. She also followed up her first tweet ― after the MTA’s response ― by saying she didn’t usually make these sort of pleas but that she was “tired of melting” on train platforms.

        To which this reporter says: Same, girl.

        A transit source said the @NYCTSubway account aims for a 100 percent response rate to tweets it receives. MTA spokesman Andrei Berman told HuffPost it responded to the tweet because “customers have asked that we be radically transparent in our communications.”

        “As Space Force Cadet Lo reporting for duty can now attest, we listened,” Berman said without providing any clarity about the real identity of “JP.”

        Some may argue that the subway account should have skipped responding to this one. We, along with many on Twitter, are supremely happy it did not: 

        The MTA may not be reliable, but Twitter’s fire content sure is.

        This article has been updated with comment from the MTA.

        Read more: http://www.huffingtonpost.com/entry/new-york-citys-subway-responded-to-tweet-about-fellatio-and-people-loved-it_us_5b71cb11e4b0530743cc3cad

        How Stormont crisis spawned a video game

        Media playback is unsupported on your device

        Media captionStormont Deadlock Video Game

        Politics is often seen as a game but rarely does a political crisis form the basis for an actual video game.

        Northern Ireland hasn’t had a devolved government for 18 months, after a power-sharing deal between the two main parties – the DUP and Sinn Féin – collapsed.

        Since then there have been two elections, lots of political rows and several deal-or-no-deal situations – with no sign of an end to the deadlock.

        Now, the political parties are gearing up for a fight: albeit in the glorious eight-bit quality that only an arcade-style video game can provide.

        Super Stormont Deadlock takes its inspiration from the popular fighting game, Street Fighter, except in this version it’s the assembly members putting up their fists.

        The artist behind it is Andrew Pope, who is 23 years old and lives in Belfast.

        He began working on the project last December, but only completed it in July.

        “There were a few versions of the project before it became a game,” he told BBC News NI.

        Image copyright Andrew Pope
        Image caption Video game enthusiasts might see some similarities between these opening credits and those in the popular video game Street Fighter

        “When I moved back home from university in Scotland, the whole idea of the deadlock and the systemic crisis was rattling around in my head and it was something I wanted to put on paper.”

        But it went through several incarnations including a short animation and a comic book before Andrew settled on a video game, after playing Street Fighter 2 and drawing parallels between the impasse at Stormont and a virtual fight-em-up.

        ‘Silver lining’

        “A big part of the problem with Stormont is that if you look at it like a zero-sum game where there are clear winners and losers, then you can’t get anywhere,” he said.

        “That was the point I was trying to make – it’s not a way to solve the crisis but it seems to be the only way that’s being pursued by the two main parties.”

        Image copyright Andrew Pope

        Hand-crafting a video game from scratch and drawing politicians from all of Northern Ireland’s main parties, takes time and effort – luckily Andrew has some skills in that area.

        “My father was an art teacher and I’ve been doodling since I was no age,” he said.

        Andrew sketched every character and background by hand in pencil and ink before scanning them all into his computer to build the game.

        He even roped in his girlfriend, Katherine McKnight, who made the eight-bit style music giving the game that authentic arcade sound.

        “I was thinking the deadlock may well end before I finished it, which would have been good for Northern Ireland – but for me, the silver lining is that the deadlock didn’t end by the time I put the game out,” he added.

        Image copyright Andrew Pope
        Image caption Cast an eye across the backdrop to this virtual fight and there are some well-known politicians incarnated as video game characters

        Once the two players have selected a character, battle can commence but there’s a further catch.

        “You can only play as Arlene Foster and Michelle O’Neill. It says you can unlock all the others but there’s no system for doing that,” Andrew said.

        “It’s an extra joke because it says you have to win more seats, but there’s no method to call an election. It relates to how I think a lot of the smaller voices have been locked out of the debate at Stormont.

        “Particularly in terms of how the crisis is represented in the rest of the UK, you don’t get to hear many parties outside of the DUP and Sinn Féin.”


        But what about the fight itself: is it fisticuffs based on political point-scoring and can one player, for example, deploy a petition of concern to block their opponent from striking a blow?

        “You can attack each other but you can’t score a hit, both characters block every attack,” said Andrew.

        Image copyright Andrew Pope
        Image caption It took Andrew Pope months to draw all of the characters before scanning them into his computer to build the animation

        “With the petition of concern and how discourse in Stormont works, there’s no way for either of the parties to win. So in the game it doesn’t matter what attacks you’re landing, it’s pre-determined how it’s going to work and that’s why both characters block everything.

        “It’s frustrating that we don’t have a government and haven’t had one for so long, and I stand by the point I’m making with the game.”

        Not all of Northern Ireland’s political hitters make an appearance in the game but if things remain as they are for much longer, Andrew might have to go back to the drawing board.

        Could “Super Stormont Deadlock 2: Direct Rule” be on the cards?

        “I think (Northern Ireland Secretary) Karen Bradley might know better than I would about the chances of direct rule, but if that’s the way we’re heading, it would be a worthwhile sequel,” said Andrew.

        Read more: http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-northern-ireland-politics-45010997

        US threatens raising tariffs to 25% on $200 billion of Chinese goods

        (CNN)The Trump administration is considering increasing the rate of proposed tariffs to 25% on an additional $200 billion worth of goods from China.

        Talks between the world’s two largest economies are at an impasse in the trade spat, with both sides continuing to threaten new tariffs.
        The United States has already slapped 25% tariffs on Chinese goods worth $34 billion to punish Beijing for what it says are its unfair trade practices, such as forcing American companies to hand over valuable technology. China immediately responded withequal measures.
          In the latest step, President Donald Trump has directed US Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer to consider increasing the proposed tariff level on fruit and vegetables, handbags, refrigerators, and more. The trade office has extended its previous deadline of Aug. 30 to allow the public more time to comment on the new plan. Those comments are now due on Sept. 5.
          “The increase in the possible rate of the additional duty is intended to provide the administration with additional options to encourage China to change its harmful policies and behavior and adopt policies that will lead to fairer markets and prosperity for all of our citizens,” Lighthizer said in a statement.
          The Information Technology Industry Council, which represents major IT users like Google, Facebook and Microsoft (MSFT), immediately called the move by the administration “irresponsible, counterproductive,” and said it would “only do more harm to Americans across the country.”
          “American consumers and businesses are now feeling the pinch of increased costs,” said Jose Castaneda, a spokesman for the council, in a statement. “Instead of escalating this trade war, the president should have serious negotiations with the Chinese to create lasting change.”
          China’s Foreign Ministry spokesperson Geng Shuang, when asked about the possible rate increase earlier on Wednesday, said China was standing its ground in the trade dispute.
          “China’s position is firm and clear cut,” Shuang told media at a regular press briefing in Beijing. “It remains unchanged. The blackmailing and pressure by the US will never work on China if the US take measures to further escalate the situation we will surely take countermeasures to firmly uphold our legitimate rights and interests.”
          Conversations between the two sides have stalled in recent weeks but a senior administration official told reporters on a call about the tariff rate hike that the United States “remains open to further discussions” with China.
          At the G-20 last month, Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin said he “chit chatted” with the Chinese delegation on the sidelines of the finance chief summit.
          Phil Levy, senior fellow on the global economy at the Chicago Council on Global Affairs, said the rate hike is in keeping with the president’s strategy of continuously increasing pressure on China.
          There’s a sense among some in the administration that if you “keep hitting China hard enough, they’re going to buckle,” Levy said. “There has been no evidence of this.”
          The more Trump pushes China, the more Beijing will feel like it can’t back down at the risk of appearing weak domestically, he added.
          The Trump administration is also expected to slap tariffs on an additional $16 billion of goods soon, but officials on Wednesday didn’t provide any further details on timing.
          The Chinese yuan has fallen sharply against the dollar since the tariffs were first proposed.
          That has made Chinese goods less expensive and could take some of the bite out of any tariffs the United States imposes.
          Senior administration officials said there was no specific catalyst for raising the tariff other than a desire to stop what they believe are China’s unfair trade practices.
          “From a broad standpoint, it’s important that countries refrain from devaluing their currencies for trade purposes,” said an official.
          –CNN’s Julia Horowitz contributed to this report.

          Read more: https://www.cnn.com/2018/08/01/politics/us-china-trade-tariff-war/index.html