Space Station Power Shortage Delays SpaceX Supply Run

A major power shortage at the International Space Station has delayed this week’s SpaceX supply run.  SpaceX was supposed to launch a shipment Wednesday. But an old power-switching unit malfunctioned at the space station Monday and knocked two power channels offline. The six remaining power channels are working normally, according to NASA. NASA stressed Tuesday that the station and its six astronauts are safe. But because of the hobbled solar-power grid, the SpaceX launch is off until at least Friday. NASA wants to replace the failed unit to restore full power, before sending up the SpaceX Dragon cargo capsule. The breakdown has left the station’s big robot arm outside with one functioning power channel instead of two. Two power sources are required — one as a backup — when the robot arm is used to capture visiting spacecraft like the Dragon. Flight controllers will use the robot arm to replace the bad unit with a spare later this week, saving the astronauts from going out on a spacewalk. There’s no rush for this delivery. Northrop Grumman launched supplies two weeks ago. Solar wings collect and generate electricity for the entire space station. Any breakdown in this critical system can cut into power and affect operations. SpaceX, meanwhile, is still investigating this month’s fiery loss of its new Dragon capsule designed for astronauts. Six weeks after a successful test flight without a crew to the space station, the crew Dragon was engulfed in flames during a ground test. SpaceX was in …

Governments Prepare for May Day Protests Worldwide

Major cities around the world have ramped up security, increasing police presence and even using drones to monitor crowds expected at May Day rallies. International Workers’ Day, which is commonly known as May Day, celebrates the international labor movement on the first day of May every year. It’s a national holiday in more than 80 countries around the world. France, which has been recently rankled by violent anti-government yellow vest protests, plans to deploy more than 7,400 police and dozens of drones in Paris.  Interior Minister Christophe Castaner said there was a risk that “radical activists” could join anti-government yellow vest protesters and union workers Wednesday in the streets of Paris and across the country. He said the goal was to protect demonstrators with “legitimate aspirations” and defend Paris from calls on social media to make it “the capital of rioting.” He said other cities around France were also on alert. In Germany, more than 5,500 officers will be deployed in Berlin where protesters, led by the “1 May Revolutionaries,” have been for weeks calling on people to demonstrate. As many as 20,000 activists are expected to protest against gentrification in the eastern district of Friedrichshain. Across the world in Jakarta, police spokesman Commander Argo Yuwono said there will be 1,500 personnel deployed for a protest in the Istora Senayan area and 25,000 for a protest near the State Palace. He said more than 40,000 protesters are expected to take to the streets of Indonesia’s capital. Turkish police have barricaded …

New French Energy Law Puts off Difficult Climate Decisions

France has set more ambitious targets to cut carbon emissions by 2050 but few measures will take effect on President Emmanuel Macron’s watch as the “yellow vest” protest movement limits his scope for environmental protection. A draft new “energy transition law,” presented to cabinet on Tuesday and seen by Reuters, pledges to reduce carbon emissions by a factor of more than six by 2050 compared to 1990. That increases the emissions’ reduction target from a factor of four stipulated in a 2015 energy law introduced by Macron’s predecessor Francois Hollande. Months after coming to power in 2017, Macron dropped that law’s key provision — despite a pledge to respect it — to reduce nuclear energy’s share in French electricity production to 50 percent by 2025, from 75 percent currently. The new law will delay the 50 percent nuclear target to 2035, transfer the European Union’s 2018 “Winter Package” energy targets into French law and will also form the framework for a detailed “PPE” 2019-2028 energy strategy. However, it includes no landmark measures to reduce CO2 emissions now, and replaces an election promise to close coal-fired power stations with a CO2 emission cap that would not take effect before Jan. 2022, just before the end of Macron’s term. “This government systematically makes vague and very long-term commitments, but never any concrete, short-term policies that would be implemented during this president’s term,”  Greenpeace energy campaigner Alix Mazounie said. Macron was breaking his promise to close coal-fired plants by 2022, she said, adding …

Space Rock Left Big Crater on Moon During Full Lunar Eclipse

A space rock left a massive crater on the moon during January’s total lunar eclipse. Spanish scientists reported Tuesday the meteoroid hit the moon at 38,000 mph (61,000 kph), carving out a crater nearly 50 feet (15 meters) across. It was the first impact flash ever observed during a lunar eclipse. The scientists — who operate a lunar impact detection system using eight telescopes in Spain — believe the incoming object was a comet fragment up to 2 feet (60 centimeters) across and 100 pounds (45 kilograms). The impact energy was equivalent to 1 { tons of TNT. Astrophysicist Jose Maria Madiedo of the University of Huelva says it was “really exciting” to observe the event, after many unsuccessful tries. The findings appear in the Royal Astronomical Society’s Monthly Notices. …

It Seems Like Alzheimer’s But Peek Into Brain Reveals a Mimic

Some people told they have Alzheimer’s may instead have a newly identified mimic of the disease — and scientists say even though neither is yet curable, it’s critical to get better at telling different kinds of dementia apart. Too often, the word dementia is used interchangeably with Alzheimer’s when there are multiple types of brain degeneration that can harm people’s memory and thinking skills. “Not everything that looks like Alzheimer’s disease is Alzheimer’s disease,” said Dr. Julie Schneider, a neuropathologist at Rush University Medical Center in Chicago. And among all the known dementias, this newly identified kind “is the most striking mimic of Alzheimer’s,” she added. It’s not clear how many people have this particular type, which an international team of scientists defined Tuesday in the journal Brain. But there could be a sizeable number, said Dr. Peter Nelson of the University of Kentucky, the paper’s lead author. The dementia was dubbed “LATE,” an acronym chosen in part because the oldest seniors seem at greatest risk. Here’s a look at various dementias in the confusing Alzheimer’s-or-not mix: Scientists stumbled onto newest disorder Alzheimer’s is the most common form of dementia, and autopsies have long found its telltale signs in the brain: sticky plaque from an abnormal buildup of amyloid protein, and tangles of another protein named tau. Only recently have scientists developed special, pricey scans that can measure that buildup in living brains. Then studies with those scans found about a third of people with Alzheimer’s symptoms lack amyloid buildup …

Warren Buffett Bankrolls Occidental’s Anadarko Bid With $10 Billion

Warren Buffett’s Berkshire Hathaway Inc committed $10 billion on Tuesday to Occidental Petroleum Corp’s $38 billion cash-and-stock bid for Anadarko Petroleum Corp, boosting its chances of snatching a deal from Chevron Corp. Occidental and Chevron are locked in the biggest oil-industry takeover battle in years as they eye Anadarko’s prized assets in West Texas’ huge Permian shale oil field. Anadarko on Monday agreed to start negotiations with Occidental, saying its bid could potentially be superior to Chevron’s existing deal to buy Anadarko for $33 billion in cash and stock. Berkshire’s cash provides Occidental with flexibility to fund and even increase its proposal. Anadarko has previously expressed reservations about the risk of Occidental having to get any deal voted through by its own shareholders. Occidental could now use the majority of the Berkshire investment to add cash to its bid and remove the requirement for a vote, if it so chooses. The Berkshire investment, contingent on Occidental completing its proposed acquisition of Anadarko, could also repay some of the debt being taken on to finance the deal’s cash portion, or cover the $10 billion to $15 billion of proceeds from asset sales which Occidental plans in the two years after closing the acquisition. Analysts said Buffett’s endorsement supports Occidental’s push to get the deal done but comes at a high cost. Berkshire Hathaway will get 100,000 preferred shares and a warrant to purchase up to 80 million shares of Occidental at $62.50 apiece in a private offering, a statement from Occidental …

Argentine Labor Unions Stage Strike, Slam Macri for Subsidy Cuts

Argentine labor unions staged a 24-hour nationwide strike on Tuesday against President Mauricio Macri’s fiscal austerity program, blocking streets in the capital Buenos Aires and shutting down traffic in the city center. The protests partially paralyzed government offices, schools, banks and airports as opposition to Macri’s belt-tightening policies raised fresh doubts about his bid for re-election in October. A proponent of free markets, Macri came to office in 2015 as a favorite among business leaders and investors. Opinion polls show him losing popularity as he raises taxes and cuts public utility subsidies as part of his effort to erase the primary fiscal deficit under his government’s $56 billion standby lending agreement with the International Monetary Fund. “This president is dangerous!” Pablo Micheli, head of the CTA umbrella labor group shouted to a sea of protesters gathered in Buenos Aires’ Plaza de Mayo. “We must hold more strikes and marches to keep these guys from taking any more away from us.” Argentina’s previous leader, Cristina Fernandez, a free-spending populist who increased government’s role in the economy, has been gaining popularity and may run for the presidency again in October. Macri campaigned on promises of “normalizing” the economy after eight years of government intervention in the markets under Fernandez. “To go back to the past would be self destruction. It would mean sacrificing two or three more generations,” Macri said in an address on Tuesday at an event outside the capital. The peso hit a record low on Friday, ending a tough …

Ghana Launches Malaria Vaccine for Children

Children in Ghana are starting to get a new vaccine designed to stop malaria. Ghana is the second African country to get the vaccine, which is expected to reduce cases of the mosquito-borne and sometimes fatal disease. But experts caution that other malaria-prevention measures are still necessary. It took more than thirty years and almost one billion dollars to develop the malaria vaccine launched in Ghana today.   The vaccine, known as RTS-S, reduces cases of the mosquito-spread disease in children by up to 40 percent. Ghana, Kenya, and Malawi are participating in a pilot vaccination program, which began last week in Malawi. Over the next four years about one million babies are expected to be vaccinated with four doses of RTS-S.   Cape Coast is a city in one of three regions Ghana is targeting due to high levels of malaria. The vaccine is considered an additional tool in the fight against the disease, alongside bed nets and indoor insecticide spraying. The World Health Organization’s Richard Mihigo said the vaccine is needed because progress has stalled in recent years. “This is really something we are considering in public health as a dream coming true, because so far when you look at the intervention that has been used to fight the disease, we believe that this new vaccine is going to add a significant boost to the fight against malaria,” he said. The WHO says malaria infected 219 million people in 2017 and killed 435,000. The disease remains one of …

Report: Climate Change Threatens Half of World Heritage Sites’ Glaciers

Nearly half of the glaciers in World Heritage sites will disappear by the end of this century if greenhouse gas emissions continue unchecked, a report said Tuesday. The new study from the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) focused on the 46 World Heritage sites where glaciers are found, including Grosser Aletschgletscher in the Swiss Alps, Greenland’s Jakobshavn Glacier and Khumbu Glacier in the Himalayas. Using a variety of data and advanced modelling, the authors “predict glacier extinction by 2100 under a high emission scenario in 21 of the 46 natural World Heritage sites where glaciers are currently found,” IUCN said in a statement. That “high emission scenario” refers to the status quo, where the commitments made under the 2015 Paris climate pact are not met. Sites likely to see the most severe ice-loss are Los Glaciares National Park in Argentina and Waterton Glacier International Peace Park, which straddles the Canada-US border. The disappearance of small glaciers in the Pyrenees – Mont Perdu World Heritage site could happen before 2040, according to IUCN projections. Even if nations deliver on the terms of the Paris agreement, eight of the 46 World Heritage sites analysed in the report will still be ice-free by the year 2100, IUCN added. “Losing these iconic glaciers would be a tragedy and have major consequences for the availability of water resources, sea level rise and weather patterns,” Peter Shadie, director of IUCN’s World Heritage Programme, said in the statement. IUCN, widely-known for its “red list” of …