– To nurture his acres of pistachio trees, Tom Coleman has long relied on water from California’s mountain-ringed reservoirs, fed by Sierra streams and water pumped from the massive Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta. But the driest year on record has left the reservoirs so depleted – and the delta so fragile – that state water officials say they may be able to provide just 5 percent of the water he and others were expecting for next year. Other sources of water, including resources from a federal project that also pumps from the delta, are also drying up, prompting cities to dip into reserves and forcing farmers to scramble. ”It’s scary, because you don’t know how you’re going to come up with the balance of your water,” Coleman said. Last week, he agreed to pay $160,000 for water from other sources – about three times the amount he usually spends. The water districts that supply Coleman and farmers like him in the state’s San Joaquin Valley were told last week that barring an unexpectedly wet winter, the state would be able to provide 5 percent of the water that districts had contracted to buy for next year. A federal project that also controls water in the state has not yet said how much will be available in 2014, but its allocations are also expected to be low. More
Tachikawa, Japan (CNN)
– U.S. and Japanese authorities were investigating two small explosions Thursday outside an American air base near Tokyo, officials said. Investigators found two metal tubes and a simple timing device, which U.S. authorities described as an “improvised launch device,” near the Yokota Air Base. ”We can confirm there was an improvised launch device outside Yokota over the evening,” according to a statement released by the base. ”… We take matters of security at our installation very seriously and we are assisting the Japanese National Police in their investigation into the matter.” No injuries were reported, and U.S. investigators combed the base for most of the night and into the early morning hours searching for possible impact points, said Capt. Ray Geoffroy, an Air Force spokesman. Residents outside the base reported hearing two small, cannon-type bangs at about 11 p.m. local time, the Tachikawa Police Department said. Daisy Gonzaga, who was staying near the base, said she heard two explosions. At first, she said she thought they were fireworks being set off as part of a Thanksgiving Day celebration inside the base. Gonzaga said when she did not see the fireworks, she thought it might be something a little more serious. CNN
Something emerged from the sun after Comet ISON made its closest approach today. Is it the ISON? NASA scientists, professional and amateur astronomers are analyzing images from NASA satellites to learn more about comet’s fate. ”We haven’t seen any definite nucleus yet,” said Padma Yanamandra-Fisher with the Space Science Institute and NASA’s Comet ISON Observing Campaign. Members of the group’s Facebook page spotted what may be the remnants of ISON in satellite images soon after experts at NASA’s Google Hangout on ISON said it looked like the comet had broken up and melted into the sun. Comet watchers will have to wait until ISON, or what’s left of it, are a bit further from the sun to get more information. ”What we see here is the dust tail emerging first, pointing away from the sun,” Yanamandra-Fisher said. But it is not clear if the comet’s core, or nucleus, is intact, or if it’s just a bunch of dust. Observers were hoping that ISON would survive its Thanksgiving Day close encounter with the sun and emerge to put on a big sky show in December. A fleet of spacecraft watched ISON plunge toward the sun, including NASA’s STEREO satellite, the European Space Agency/NASA SOHO spacecraft and the Solar Dynamics Observatory.
Comets are giant snowballs of frozen gases, rock and dust that can be several miles in diameter. When they get near the sun, they warm up and spew some of the gas and dirt, creating tails that can stretch for thousands of miles. Most comets are in the outer part of our solar system. When they get close enough for us to see, scientists study them for clues about how our solar system formed. Astronomers Vitali Nevski and Artyom Novichonok discovered ISON in September 2012 using a telescope near Kislovodsk, Russia, that is part of the International Scientific Optical Network. ISON — officially named C/2012 S1 — was 585 million miles away at the time. Its amazing journey through the solar system had been chronicled by amateur astronomers and by space telescopes. CNN
The deal between Iran and Western powers leaves Tehran just two months away from enriching enough uranium to assemble one nuclear weapon, according to an analysis by Olli Heinonen, the former International Atomic Energy Agency inspector. Heinonen was the IAEA’s deputy director-general for safeguards until 2010. In an email to WND, he explained that the deal that requires Iran to cap its uranium enrichment at 5 percent instead of its current 20 percent constantly would leave the country two months away from the technical ability to build a nuke. Wrote Heinonen: “Let us look at the current the facts on the ground. With Iran’s inventory of 20% enriched uranium, it would take about 2 weeks using 6000 IR-1 centrifuges, operating in tandem cascades, to produce enough weapons grade material for one nuclear device. If Iran uses 3-5 % enriched uranium as feed material at all its currently installed 18,000 IR-1 centrifuges at Natanz and Fordow, the same result would be achieved in two months. “The current agreement retains Iran’s fleet of more than 18000 IR-1 centrifuges. Operational restrictions are placed that allow 10000 centrifuges to continue to enrich at up to 5% at any given point of time. These measures, together with a cessation of 20% enriched uranium production and conversion of the 20%-level stockpiles to oxides, extend the current breakout times to about two months.” More
MADISON, Wis. –
The son of late former president Ronald Reagan has recorded a radio advertisement in promotion of a prominent atheist activist organization, in which he states that he is “not afraid of burning in Hell.” Ron Reagan says that he stopped attending church at twelve years old and has long been regarded as an atheist. Recently, he recorded a radio advertisement for the Freedom From Religion Foundation (FFRF), which has been airing this month on the Randi Rhodes Show. “I’m Ron Reagan, an unabashed atheist, and I’m alarmed by the intrusions of religion into our secular government,” he states. “That’s why I’m asking you to join the Freedom From Religion Foundation—the nation’s largest and most effective organization of atheists and agnostics, working to keep state and church separate.” “Ron Reagan, lifelong atheist, not afraid of burning in hell,” Reagan concludes in the advertisement. Reagan had been awarded the “Emperor Has No Clothes” award by FFRF in 2009, and is stated to be an honorary director of the organization. “I imagine some of you have really dark nights of the soul, a lot of theological study. You really went to the mat with this kind of stuff. I feel like an interloper or something,” he stated during his acceptance speech. “At age 8 or whatever, I went: ‘Ah, this isn’t making any sense to me—forget it,’ and didn’t really give it all that much more thought, frankly.” He then proceeded to explain that he grew up in religious family and attended a Presbyterian church for a time, but announced to his father as a child that he did not wish to go anymore. More
MADISON, Wisc. –
A Democratic representative in Wisconsin has proposed the creation of ‘Support Planned Parenthood’ plates just two weeks after the state Assembly approved the sale of ‘Choose Life’ plates. Representative Chris Taylor is a former public policy director at Planned Parenthood, and introduced a bill allowing for the creation of the plates on Monday. “It is still important for Democrats to say what we stand for,” she told The Capital Times
. “This is a plate to support life-saving health care for women through the oldest and most trusted family planning institution in the state. That’s why I proposed it.” Taylor says that $25 from the sale of the plates would go toward cervical and breast screenings, and family planning services such as birth control. Reports state that none of the funds would go directly to abortion services. Just two weeks ago, Republican Representative Andre Jacque proposed a bill sanctioning the sale of “Choose Life” plates in the state, $25 of which would be distributed to pro-life pregnancy centers in Wisconsin. The measure cleared the Assembly 54-38, and will move to the other Houses in the state legislature for a vote—likely next year. More
A comet’s 5.5-million-year journey to the inner solar system apparently ended during a suicidal trip around the sun, leaving no trace of its once-bright tail or even remnants of rock and dust, scientists said on Thursday. The comet, known as ISON, was discovered last year when it was still far beyond Jupiter, raising the prospect of a spectacular naked-eye object by the time it graced Earth’s skies in December. Comet ISON passed just 730,000 miles (1.2 million km) from the surface of the sun at 1:37 p.m. EST/1837 GMT on Thursday. Astronomers used a fleet of solar telescopes to look for the comet after its slingshot around the sun, but to no avail. “I’m not seeing anything that emerged from the behind the solar disk. That could be the nail in the coffin,” astrophysicist Karl Battams, with the Naval Research Laboratory in Washington, said during a live broadcast on NASA TV. “It’s sad that it seemed to have ended this way, but we’re going to learn more about this comet,” he added. At closest approach, the comet was moving faster than 217 miles per second(350 km per second) through the sun’s atmosphere. At that distance, it reached temperatures of 5,000 degrees Fahrenheit(2,760 degrees Celsius) – hot enough to vaporize not just ices in the comet’s body, but dust and rock as well.
If the comet or any large fragments survived the close encounter with the sun, they would be visible to the naked eye in Earth’s skies in a week or two. The comet was discovered last year by two amateur astronomers using Russia’s International Scientific Optical Network, or ISON. Comets are believed to be frozen remains left over from the formation of the solar system some 4.5 billion years ago. The family of comets that ISON belongs to resides in the Oort Cloud, located about 10,000 times farther away from the sun than Earth, halfway to the next star. Occasionally, an Oort Cloud comet is gravitationally nudged out of the cloud by a passing star and into a flight path that millions of years later brings it into the inner solar system. Computer models show ISON was a first-time visitor. “I hope we see another one soon,” said Dean Pesnell, project scientist for NASA’s Solar Dynamics Observatory.Extinction Protocol