Articles by SpaceNeedle

Writes Jesus Diaz on Gizmodo:

Every year around this time, mysterious electric blue clouds appear over the North and South pole. They are called noctilucent clouds and they can only be seen in deep twilight, when the Sun is below the horizon. According to NASA, “their origin is still largely a mystery”:

“Various theories associate them with meteoric dust, rocket exhaust, global warming—or some mixture of the three.”

They are the highest clouds, located almost on the edge of space at 54 miles (85 kilometers) from the Earth’s surface, in the mesosphere. They are very difficult to observe, but they appear as white and blue tendrils when they are illuminated by the Sun and the rest of the atmosphere is in our planet’s shadow…

Writes Rebecca J. Rosen in the Atlantic:

Last week, in the corners of the Internet devoted to outer space, things started to get a little, well, hot. Voyager 1, the man-made object farthest away from Earth, was encountering a sharp uptick in the number of a certain kind of energetic particles around it. Had the spacecraft become the first human creation to “officially” leave the solar system?

It’s hard to overstate how wild an accomplishment this would be: A machine, built here on Earth by the brain — and handiwork of humans, has sailed from Florida, out of Earth’s orbit, beyond Mars, beyond the gas giants of Jupiter and Saturn, and may now have left the heliosphere — tiny dot in the universe beholden to our sun. Had it really happened? How would we know?

Via RT:

It’s been nearly 20 years since Clarence Aaron was put in jail for conspiring to distribute crack cocaine, and unless President Obama steps in, the 19-year veteran of the American prison system is expected to stay there for a while. A long while.

Aaron wasn’t buying, selling or even touching coke when cops busted the then 23-year-old college student in 1993. Instead Aaron was simply a witness of a plotted crack transaction and associate of the buyer and seller, who, unlike him, pled guilty and gave law enforcement their full cooperation. But despite lacking any criminal record at all, however, Aaron was sentenced to serve three life sentences behind bars for his role in a would-be drug deal. Neither President Clinton nor George W. Bush offered a commutation to kill the lengthy sentence during their combined 16 years in office, and new evidence reveals that there may have been a reason for that.

An investigation launched by the website ProPublica reveals that the Bush White House was never informed of the facts of the case accounted for in a confidential Justice Department review, and that only now are America’s leaders being brought up to snuff as far as what needs to be known in the case of Clarence Aaron…

Writes Michelle Maltais in the LA Times:

If you had the keys to your country’s Twitter account, what would you say?

Well, Sonja Abrahamsson has caused a bit of a stir with her tweets about Jews from the @Sweden handle.

This week’s vox populi via @Sweden from Abrahamsson has delved into such curiosities as “Whats the fuzz with jews. You can’t even see if a person is a jew,” without intimate examination, she wrote in more explicit terms.

As you can imagine, her tweets have caught some flack and attention. Abrahamsson, who describes herself as “a 27-year old womanlike human being from northern Sweden,” is part of a government experiment entrusting its @Sweden national Twitter account to a new citizen every week…

Writes Micah Zenko in the Atlantic:

[On June 6th], the National Counter Terrorism Center (NCTC) released its 2011 Report on Terrorism. The report offers the U.S. government’s best statistical analysis of terrorism trends through its Worldwide Incidents Tracking System (WITS), which compiles and vets open-source information about terrorism—defined by U.S. law as “premeditated, politically motivated violence perpetrated against noncombatant targets by subnational groups or clandestine agents.”…

According to the report, the number of U.S. citizens who died in terrorist attacks increased by two between 2010 and 2011; overall, a comparable number of Americans are crushed to death by their televisions or furniture each year. This is not to diminish the real—albeit shrinking—threat of terrorism, or to minimize the loss and suffering of the 13,000 killed and over 45,000 injured around the world. For Americans, however, it should emphasize that an irrational fear of terrorism is both unwarranted and a poor basis for public policy decisions…

Via Radio Wars:

Radio Wars focuses on the controversial history of satellite radio as it exposes the secret story behind the power struggles for radio dominance. Sirius and XM Satellite Radio were engaged in a heated entanglement before they became one company, and their mutual fight for survival against traditional radio, the National Association of Broadcasters (NAB) and Wall Street, is one of radio’s most epic battles. Radio Wars delves deep into SiriusXM’s conflict-ridden history, from its earliest days to its darkest hour, and questions the motives of those who seek to control radio’s content in the future.

Darth RobberNow we really do understand the power of the Dark Side. Hey Darth, how about addressing the Sith infestation on Wall Street? Thought there were only two at one time. Via WNWO:

The FBI and Toledo Police are investigating a Wednesday afternoon bank robbery at the Huntington Bank on Monroe Street in Toledo.

The lone gunman walked into the bank around 3 p.m., wearing a plastic Darth Vader mask, when he demanded money from victim tellers. After getting an undisclosed amount of money,he fled the scene using a dark colored BMX bike.

Reports Aviation Week: Mankind’s next objective in space exploration should be the establishment of a permanent international base on the Moon, in the “professional opinion” of the Russian space agency Roscosmos, instead…

Writes Reuven Cohen on Forbes:

If you are thinking about tweeting about clouds, pork, exercise or even Mexico, think again. Doing so may result in a closer look by the U.S. Department of Homeland Security.

In a story appearing earlier today on the UK’s Daily Mail website, it was reported that the DHS has been forced to release a list of keywords and phrases it uses to monitor social networking sites when looking for “signs of terrorist or other threats against the U.S.”

The list was posted by the Electronic Privacy Information Center who filed a request under the Freedom of Information Act, before suing to obtain the release of the documents. The documents were part of the department’s 2011 ’Analyst’s Desktop Binder‘ used by workers at their National Operations Center which instructs workers to identify ‘media reports that reflect adversely on DHS and response activities’.

Zig Zag writes on the Vancouver Media Co-Op: Provincial and city governments in Quebec are resorting to repressive new laws in an effort to defeat the student mobilization, which has rocked that…

Imperialist OctopusGood question. Julian Whitcrosse writes at

Hundreds of years ago, European colonists took possession of much of the surface of our planet through unsubtle means: murder, subjugation, and their special move, bringing horrific new diseases. Nowadays, the wealthy and powerful expand their domains less confrontationally, but the effects can still be pretty harmful. Interests in rich countries — mainly multinational corporations (MNCs) make deals with local governments to attain land for their own big-money projects, sometimes evicting locals from their traditional homes and farmland, and contributing to food insecurity. Over the past 10 years, almost 800,000 square miles of land has been bought or leased (eight times the size of Britain), mostly in Asia and Africa….

R2-D2Princess Leia: General Kenobi. Years ago you served my father in the Clone Wars. Now he begs you to help him in his struggle against the Empire. I regret that I am unable to convey my father’s request to you in person, but my ship has fallen under attack, and I’m afraid my mission to bring you to Alderaan has failed. I have placed information vital to the survival of the Rebellion into the memory systems of this R2 unit. My father will know how to retrieve it. You must see this droid safely delivered to him on Alderaan. This is our most desperate hour. Help me, Obi-Wan Kenobi. You’re my only hope. [pause]

Obi-Wan: [to Luke] You must learn the ways of the Force, if you’re to come with me to Alderaan…