The dwarf star HD 40307, located 44 light-years from Earth, hosts a system of planets, including on at an orbital distance just right to support life as we know it. The planet could theoretically be photographed by next-generation space satellites now on the drawing board.
they've got some great illustrations so use the link.
that's huge. it's not unexpected in that most have long suspected that other planets that could host life were out there. but this is still huge.
amina khan (los angeles times) notes:
“It’s likely that it’s sufficient in mass that it does have an atmosphere. But we don’t know. It depends,” study co-author Hugh Jones, a University of Hertfordshire astronomer, said in an interview.
It’s difficult to draw extensive conclusions about such super-Earths – whether they’re gassy like Jupiter or rocky like Mars, whether they’d have a thick or thin atmosphere – because no such mid-range planet exists in our own solar system.
maybe the discovery will serve to underscore how really small we are. we really think we are it and we can do to the earth - and universe - as we see fit. but we are not the only planet and who knows what will be found in space years from now?
this is really big news. huge.
let's close with c.i.'s 'Iraq snapshot:'
Iraq has more than enough money to take care of Iraqis if it cared to do that. But you've got a government that dreams parading across the world stage while taking a lot of the public's money and putting it into their own personal pockets. For that reason more than anything else, the Iraqi government wants money from other countries. If the US goverment provides it -- and it currently does -- people in government (besides just Senator John Kerry and his Senate Foreign Relations Committee) need to grasp that this is a tool of soft power. For months, the White House whined about wanting Iranian planes searched that were enroute to Syria. Only after Kerry and the Committee stated publicly that money could be cut did Nouri al-Maliki order the searching of the planes. The answer that Barack (like Bush before him) repeatedly falls back on is "war." There are many other levers of power. It's a shame even the US Ambassador to the United Nations was unaware of that but Susan Rice is a crazed War Hawk as well as public joke.
On the re-election, Kevin Gosztola (at World Can't Wait) gets the last word:
The decision was made to not try terror suspects in federal courts. Terror suspects believed to have been involved in the 9/11 attacks and others imprisoned in Guantanamo Bay, which Obama failed to close, are now going through a military tribunal process—a second-class justice system where one is not allowed to testify in court about torture experienced at the hands of CIA interrogators because the government claims it controls the thoughts and memories of detainees.
Warrantless surveillance escalated sharply under Obama. The ACLU obtained Justice Department documents that showed federal law enforcement agencies were "increasingly monitoring Americans' electronic communications, and doing so without warrants, sufficient oversight, or meaningful accountability." Now, the Supreme Court is deciding whether to hear a challenge against the FISA Amendments Act of 2008, which allowed telecommunications companies to be granted retroactive immunity for warrantless wiretapping under Bush. The act also allowed for the expansion of dragnet surveillance. Obama Justice Department lawyers have argued it does not have to tell plaintiffs challenging the law they have been unlawfully monitored and, even if they did violate their privacy, it would not matter because the surveillance state is here to stay.
Obama refused to prosecute war criminals. Not a single person was prosecuted and convicted of torture. Even though he signed an executive order as president that prohibited "enhanced interrogation techniques" used under Bush, torture was effectively decriminalized. The "state secrets" privilege was invoked when torture victims tried to sue government for torture, effectively preventing justice. Moreover, former CIA agent John Kiriakou was prosecuted for allegedly leaking the name of a covert officer, who had been a kidnapper in the CIA's Rendition, Detention and Interrogation program. It was believed that various individuals in human rights organizations knew this officer's identity, and it was largely suspected the government was prosecuting Kiriakou because he was one of the first in government to say on television the CIA had an official policy of torture while Bush was president. The prosecution destroyed his life, took a tremendous toll on his wife and his five children so he ended up taking a plea deal.