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N. Korea, setting stage for talks, halts nuclear, ICBM tests

N. Korea, setting stage for talks, halts nuclear, ICBM tests

KIM TONG-HYUNG and ERIC TALMADGE

Associated Press
 
North Korea Suspends Nuclear, Long-Range Missile Tests, Will Close Testing Site

SEOUL, South Korea (AP) — North Korea announced Saturday it will suspend nuclear tests and intercontinental ballistic missile launches ahead of its summits with Seoul and Washington, but stopped well short of suggesting it has any intention of giving up its nuclear weapons or scale back its production of missiles and their related component parts.

The new policy, which sets the table for further negotiations when the summits begin, was announced by leader Kim Jong Un at a meeting of the North Korean ruling party’s Central Committee on Friday and reported by the North’s state-run media early Saturday.

Kim justified the suspension to his party by saying that the situation around North Korea has been rapidly changing “in favor of the Korean revolution” since he announced last year his country had completed its nuclear forces. He said North Korea has reached the level where it no longer needs to conduct underground testing or test-launching of ICBMs.

He added that the country would close its nuclear testing facility at Punggye-ri, though that site was already believed to have been rendered largely unusable due to tunnel collapses after the North’s test of what it claimed was a hydrogen bomb last year.

The announcement is seen as an opening gambit aimed at setting the tone for talks ahead of Kim’s summit with South Korean President Moon Jae-in next Friday and U.S. President Donald Trump in late May or early June.

Trump almost immediately responded with a tweet saying, “This is very good news for North Korea and the World” and “big progress!” He added that he’s looking forward to his upcoming summit with Kim.

South Korea’s presidential office also welcomed North Korea’s announcement as “meaningful progress” toward the denuclearization of the peninsula. Presidential official Yoon Young-chan said in a statement that the North’s decision brightens the prospects for successful talks between Seoul, Pyongyang and Washington.

Japan’s Prime Minister Shinzo Abe welcomed the announcement too but was a bit more guarded in his reaction.

“What is crucial here … is how this development is going to lead to the complete, verifiable, and irreversible dismantlement of nuclear arms, weapons of mass destruction and missiles,” he said. “And I will keep a close eye on that.”

Some analysts believe that rather than denuclearizing, Kim feels he is entering the negotiations from a position of strength and is hoping to achieve tacit recognition that his country is now a nuclear power. They believe he wants engage in talks and make some concessions around the edges that would convince Washington and other countries to ease sanctions on his struggling economy.

In his speech at the party meeting, Kim praised his nuclear policy as “a miraculous victory” achieved in just five years. A resolution passed after his speech also stressed that the country had successfully achieved its goals of obtaining a viable nuclear force and suggested it intends to keep that force — at least for the time being.

Using the acronym for North Korea’s official name, it said the North would “never use nuclear weapons nor transfer nuclear weapons or nuclear technology under any circumstances unless there are nuclear threat and nuclear provocation against the DPRK.”

“This was a smart move by Kim,” said Vipin Narang, an associate political science professor and nuclear proliferation expert at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. “Although it largely formalizes previous pledges on the moratoria from last November and March, it still leaves a lot of wiggle room for circumventing the pledges in the future, and nothing in there is irreversible. And nothing in there mentions denuclearization, of any variety.”

Narang noted that North Korea has already conducted as many nuclear tests as Pakistan and India, and may indeed not need to conduct any more underground testing.

“The aim of this, in my view, is to make it exceedingly difficult for Trump to say the North is uninterested in talks and walk away,” he said. “Kim is doing everything he can now — in a reversible way, mind you — to ensure the summit happens. Because that’s his ultimate victory.”

Tossing out another nugget that could be used at the summits, Kim stressed at the party meeting his desire to shift the national focus to improving the country’s economy, which has been hit hard by international sanctions and the “maximum pressure” strategy pushed by Trump.

 The announcement ends what had been an ominous silence from Pyongyang regarding the stunning diplomatic moves Kim has been making since the beginning of this year, including his first summit, with Chinese President Xi Jinping, last month.

It also gives the best idea yet of what Kim intends to bring with him in his summits with Moon and Trump.

Seoul says Kim has expressed genuine interest in dealing away his nuclear weapons. But North Korea for decades has been pushing a concept of “denuclearization” that bears no resemblance to the American definition, vowing to pursue nuclear development unless Washington removes its troops from the peninsula.

Some important items were also left off the North’s resolution, suggesting either that the North isn’t willing to go that far or that it wants to wait and see how much it can gain by further concessions once actual talks begin.

It did not announce a moratorium on short- or mid-range missile launches or ground-based engine testing. It also did not suspend the production of more fissile material to build additional warheads, or the production of the longer-range missiles, which are Washington’s primary concern.

At the height of Pyongyang’s standoff with Washington and Seoul last year, North Korean Foreign Minister Ri Yong Ho told reporters the country could conduct an atmospheric hydrogen bomb test over the Pacific Ocean.

That kind of test would also not be included in the suspension.

___

Talmadge, the AP’s Pyongyang bureau chief, reported from Tokyo.

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Darcy Boyce

COTED meeting agrees on CCREE full operationalisation

GEORGETOWN, Guyana, Apr 20, CMC – The Special Meeting of the Council for Trade and Economic Development (COTED) on Energy has ended here with an agreement that work has advanced towards the full operationalisation of the Caribbean Centre for Renewable Energy and Energy Efficiency (CCREEE) by the middle of this year.

Minister of State in the Office of the Barbados Prime Minister, Darcy Boyce, who chaired the one-day meeting on Thursday, said “we can then move forward with appointment of the executive board and staffing of the Centre”.

Darcy Boyce
Darcy Boyce

Montserrat became the latest Caribbean Community (CARICOM) country to have deposited its instruments of ratification of the agreement establishing the CCREEE.

Barbados, Dominica, Jamaica and Belize are the other CARICOM countries that have deposited their instruments of ratification.

The Centre is intended to function as the implementation hub for the CARICOM Energy Policy, as well as the Caribbean Sustainable Roadmap and Strategy (C-SERMS). I

n 2015, CARICOM leaders approved the establishment of the CCREEE and identified Barbados as the host country for its Secretariat. The COTED agreed to interim operations of the Centre in January, 2016 and on Thursday, the meeting agreed on decisions related to the transition from that interim stage to the first operational phase.

When fully operational, the Centre is expected to improve the quantity and quality of programmes and projects in sustainable energy within the region.

“We had a very useful meeting, and I expect that we would have put ourselves in a position to achieve a lot more in the energy sector, in renewable energy and energy efficiency over the next few years,’ Boyce said, adding that “good progress” had also been made on the matter of labelling of energy efficient equipment within the region.

He said this step would ensure that people knew “exactly what they were getting” when they bought equipment and sought to encourage them to acquire more efficient equipment and appliances for their properties.

The meeting also approved a pilot programme which will get underway shortly to promote energy efficiency in commercial and residential buildings. Substantial discussions were held on integrating climate resilience into the C-CERMS against the background of the region’s vulnerability to intense climate-related events.

The one-day meeting also discussed insurance and electricity disruption.

“We felt that we needed to discuss ways in which we could get the work done to guide us… to become more resistant to those situations, and to help us to recover faster” when there are natural disasters,” Boyce said.

He said the ministers also took stock of the availability of technical assistance under the CARIFORUM Regional Programme for Energy under the 11th European Development Fund (EDF) to get the resources that were necessary for studies and to implement projects to grow the energy sector.

The ministers also had “robust” discussions on oil and gas in the Region. A working group is to be established to consider how there could be deeper cooperation and more advice available on the technical matters on that sector.

Boyce had at the start of the meeting made reference to the region’s oil and gas sector, and its potential to benefit the populace.

“While we are all determined to make sure that we benefit as best as we can from renewable energy and energy efficiency, we all also have to bear in mind that if we are the owners of resources, we ought not to let those resources stand there idly, but we should use them for the benefit of our countries and for the Region.

“So I am very glad that we are not shying away from the matter of oil and gas. It is a matter of balancing … oil and gas, with the natural resource of sunlight, and wind, and water. And this is what it is all about: optimising, getting the best mix of those resources to give our people and our economies what they need”, he said.

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Reid

CAPE students could earn credits to universities -Reid

KINGSTON, Jamaica, Apr 20, CMC – Education Minister Ruel Reid says students pursuing the Caribbean Advanced Proficiency Examination (CAPE) will have an opportunity to earn credits for entry to certain universities in Jamaica.

Reid told students of the St Mary High School that as of September this year, he will be working with the local office of the Barbados-based Caribbean Examinations Council (CXC) to make this a reality.

Reid
Ruel Reid (File Photo)

“You will have a whole suite of subjects around your CAPE programme, which will be the equivalent to 60 college credits, so that when you complete sixth form you go into university with the credits. This means (that) you will end up completing your first degree in a much shorter time, and you will also reduce the cost of your university education,” he said.

Reid was visiting schools in the parish in response to a letter from Alicia Blake, a student who had expressed gratitude to the minister for enabling her to sit the Grade Six Achievement Test (GSAT) while in hospital.

Reid said that a memorandum of understanding (MOU) will be signed with the Mona Campus of the University of the West Indies (UWI) to facilitate opportunities for students on the Programme of Advancement Through Health and Education (PATH) to pursue courses of study in science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM).

He said more scholarships would also be provided to students on the PATH programme but will require the government to bond them “for five years, so that we can get you back to work for us in Jamaica to build our country, so that it becomes very progressive and prosperous”.

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marijuuu

Former health minister renews call for decriminalising marijuana

PORT OF SPAIN, Trinidad, Apr 20, CMC – Former health minister Dr. Fuad khan Friday renewed his call for the decriminalisation of marijuana for medical purposes.

“Trinidad and Tobago needs to join the march towards decriminalization of marijuana, particularly for medical use” Dr. Khan, an opposition legislator, said in a statement in which he noted that as of this year several countries including Australia, Canada, Chile, Colombia, Costa Rica, the Czech Republic, India, Israel, Jamaica, Mexico, the Netherlands, Portugal, South Africa, Spain, Uruguay, and some U.S. jurisdictions, had done so.

marijuuuThe global community is Friday observing International Day of Cannabis, commonly referred to as “420’ and Dr. Khan said “on the occasion of 420, I once again renew my call for the decriminalization of the use of marijuana”.

The opposition legislator, a medical practitioner, said that in his contribution to the budget debate last year “ I pointed out the many benefits to the economy by legalizing marijuana, its medical uses and the need to desist from criminalizing young men in particular for using small amounts.
“ I went to great lengths to show the benefits but the current government has constantly ignored all calls for changes to the law. Prime Minister Dr. Keith Rowley when asked about the legalization of marijuana in 2015 said that while the issue might be “fashionable” at the moment, it isn’t a priority for his government.”

Dr. Khan said that the government’s “continuing failure to broach matters of national importance has become a serious drawback when it comes to our society evolving based on science, pragmatism and common sense.”.

He said Trinidad and Tobago has some of the highest rates of cancer, hypertension and diabetes in the region and if marijuana licences are granted, the country can begin to benefit from the positive medical benefits.
“Patients with epilepsy, diabetes, cancer, multiple sclerosis, irritable bowel syndrome and other conditions will be able to have access to legal marijuana, not having the added burden of trying to evade law enforcement,” Khan said, noting that while the debate continues on the efficacy of medical marijuana, several major research have been undertaken to understand the positive effects of the marijuana.

He quoted the findings of several research studies on the issue insisting that Trinidad and Tobago must move swiftly to separate marijuana from the very real and dangerous illegal drug trade and allow the people who use it as medicine to do so without being incarcerated.

“Marijuana smokers are not second class citizens. Adults have the legal right to consume alcohol, tobacco and other legal drugs but are criminalized if they choose marijuana, a natural herb. That is neither reasonable nor fair,” Dr. Khan added.

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The docking of two robotic spacecraft, the Tiangong 1 space station and Shenzhou 8 capsule, provided a preview of larger Chinese space complexes planned for the future.

Farewell, Tiangong-1: Chinese Space Station Meets Fiery Doom Over South Pacific Ocean

 

An artist’s concept of China’s Tiangong-1 space station prototype burning up in Earth’s atmosphere during its fiery fall back to Earth overnight on April 1-2, 2018.

Credit: Alejandro Miranda/Alamy

Tiangong-1 is no more.

China’s prototype space station, whose name translates as “Heavenly Palace 1,” met a fiery end in Earth’s atmosphere today (April 1), breaking apart and burning up in the skies over the southern Pacific Ocean at about 8:16 p.m. EDT (0016 April 2 GMT), according to the U.S. Strategic Command’s Joint Force Space Component Command (JFSCC).

“The JFSCC used the Space Surveillance Network sensors and their orbital analysis system to confirm Tiangong-1’s re-entry,” U.S. Air Force officials wrote in a statement. [Tiangong-1: China’s Falling Space Station in Pictures

Some pieces of the school-bus-size Tiangong-1 almost certainly survived the fall, but the odds that they caused any damage or injury are extremely small: You had a less than 1-in-1-trillion chance of getting hit by a flaming chunk of the heavenly palace, according to experts with the Aerospace Corporation. 

By the way, if you do manage to find such a chunk of Tiangong-1, don’t pick it up or breathe in any fumes emanating from it. The space junk may be contaminated with hydrazine, a toxic rocket fuel, experts have said.

Tiangong-1 was about 34 feet long by 11 feet wide (10.4 by 3.4 meters), and it weighed more than 9 tons (8 metric tons). The space lab consisted of two main parts: an “experimental module” that housed visiting astronauts and a “resource module” that accommodated Tiangong-1’s solar-energy and propulsion systems.

https://www.space.com/40101-china-space-station-tiangong-1-crashes.html

The docking of two robotic spacecraft, the Tiangong 1 space station and Shenzhou 8 capsule, provided a preview of larger Chinese space complexes planned for the future.
The docking of two robotic spacecraft, the Tiangong 1 space station and Shenzhou 8 capsule, provided a preview of larger Chinese space complexes planned for the future.

Credit: Karl Tate, SPACE.com Contributor

The craft launched without anyone aboard on Sept. 29, 2011, to an orbit about 217 miles (350 kilometers) above Earth. That’s slightly lower than the orbit of the much larger International Space Station, whose average altitude is 250 miles (400 km). Tiangong-1’s main mission was to help China master the technologies required to assemble and operate a bona-fide space station in Earth orbit, a goal the nation aims to achieve by the early 2020s, the country has said.

On Nov. 2, 2011, the robotic Shenzhou-8 spacecraft visited Tiangong-1, executing China’s first-ever orbital docking. Another big milestone came in June 2012, when a crew of three spaceflyers linked their Shenzhou-9 vehicle to the heavenly palace and came aboard for a spell.

Three more “taikonauts,” or Chinese astronauts, visited in June 2013, traveling on the Shenzhou-10 spacecraft. Each of these crewed missions lasted about two weeks.

Tiangong-1’s design lifetime was just two years, and the space lab’s work was mostly done after Shenzhou-10 departed. The empty space lab continued to do some Earth-observation work, however, and researchers and engineers kept in touch with it until March 2016, when data transmission between Tiangong-1 and its handlers stopped, for reasons that China never explicitly specified. At that point, an uncontrolled atmospheric re-entry was apparently inevitable.

This is the view of outside researchers. But Chinese space officials dispute such terminology, said Dean Cheng, a senior research fellow at The Heritage Foundation who’s an expert on China’s space program. [The Biggest Spacecraft to Fall Uncontrolled From Space]

“The Chinese insist that it is controlled,” Cheng told Space.com. “They’re very, very unhappy when you use this term ‘uncontrolled.'”

Chinese officials say that they know where Tiangong-1 is and can provide location updates at any time, Cheng added. But for other spacefaring nations, a “controlled” re-entry is one performed under the guidance of a spacecraft’s handlers — for example, the intentional de-orbiting of the Soviet/Russian Mir space station over the Pacific Ocean in March 2001. 

https://www.space.com/40101-china-space-station-tiangong-1-crashes.html

“We should be diplomatically, and in the space-policy world, pushing China to accept a definition of ‘control’ that is comparable to that of the rest of the rules-based world. You don’t get your own definition,” Cheng said. “To support that, there need to be some sticks here,” he added, referring to consequences.

The re-entry of Tiangong-1 was tracked by the JFSCC, the U.S.-based analysis group Aerospace Corp., the European Space Agency and scientists around the world as part of a global space-debris tracking network. 

“The JFSCC works alongside government, industry and international partners to track and report reentries, to include today’s Tinagong-1 reentry, because the space domain is vital to our shared international security interests,” JFSCC deputy commander Maj. Gen. Stephen Whiting, commander of the 14th Air Force, said in the JFSCC statement. “One of our missions, which we remain focused on, is to monitor space and the tens of thousands of pieces of debris that congest it, while at the same time working with allies and partners to enhance spaceflight safety and increase transparency in the space domain.”

“All nations benefit from a safe, stable, sustainable, and secure space domain,” Whiting said. “We’re sharing information with space-faring nations to preserve the space domain for the future of mankind.”

Tiangong-1’s successor, Tiangong-2, launched to Earth orbit in September 2016 and hosted three visiting astrpnauts a month later. And a robotic vessel called Tianzhou-1 rendezvoused with Tiangong-2 a few months later, performing several automated docking and refueling operations from April 2017 to September 2017.

The success of these missions apparently has China poised to start building a permanent space station. The nation aims to begin construction and assembly operations next year, and the first crewed missions to the outpost could come in 2022, Chinese space officials have said.

Tiangong-1 is not the biggest spacecraft ever to fall from the sky. That distinction goes to the 140-ton (127 metric tons) Soviet/Russian space station Mir, which was guided to a controlled destruction over the Pacific Ocean in March 2001.

The largest craft ever to come down at least partially uncontrolled is NASA’s 100-ton (91 metric tons) space shuttle Columbia, which broke apart as it was returning to Earth on Feb. 1, 2003, killing all seven astronauts aboard. An investigation later pinned the cause of the disaster on a piece of foam insulation from Columbia’s external fuel tank, which broke off and punched a hole in the heat shield on the orbiter’s left wing during launch, two weeks before the tragedy.

Follow Mike Wall on Twitter @michaeldwall and Google+. Follow us @SpacedotcomFacebook or Google+. Originally published on Space.com

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oil spill

PCJ seeks to assure measures being taken to preserve environment as it searches for oil and gas

 
KINGSTON, Jamaica, Mar 21, CMC – The Petroleum Corporation of Jamaica (PCJ) says it is taking all measures to ensure environmental preservation during its search for oil and gas on the island’s south coast.

PCJ’s Oil and Gas Manager, Brian Richardson, told a Jamaica Information Service (JIS) Think Tank that protection of the environment while undertaking its engagements is a pivotal part of the entity’s mandate.

oil spillHe said that the Corporation and its partner in the exploration exercise, Tullow Oil, have been abiding by this in accordance with stipulations from the National Environment and Planning Agency (NEPA), which is monitoring the project.

Richardson said NEPA, as an independent body, “has looked at what Tullow Oil is doing and has seen that they are doing the appropriate work, which is reflected in the international community”.

He noted that two 2D surveys have already been conducted by the companies, and “we have not had any issues.

“We are going to go through it a third time, and I don’t believe we are going to have any issues,” he added.

While pointing out that environmental risk is an ever-present possibility, Richardson said that “the way you manage it is to try and reduce that actively, and we have a company who actively pursues that”.

He said that in addition to the seismic vessel, there will also be smaller scout vessels around to protect fragile marine environment so that the various life forms do not cross the path of the large vessel.

PCJ Manager Corporate Affairs and Communications, Camille Taylor, said the survey vessel will also have marine mammal observers on-board.

She noted that these individuals have the authority to stop the survey if they think there is any risk to marine life, adding that “they will pretty much be directing when and where (things are done), and their top priority will be to preserve marine life”.

Taylor said that “as it is, seismic surveys are non-invasive and they (persons conducting the exercise) tend to be very respectful of marine life.

“The PCJ is taking every precaution, (and) with NEPA and the marine mammals observers on board, it is assured that marine life will not be harmed”.

Oil and gas exploration activities being undertaken by the PCJ and Tullow Oil, which began with an agreement in 2014, will shift into a higher gear with the initiation of the first-ever 3D seismic survey in the waters off Jamaica’s south coast between the Pedro Banks and Portland Cottage this month.

PM says electoral victories in Grenada and Antigua send strong messages

March 23, 2018
186 views
 

ROSEAU, Dominica, Mar 24, CMC – Prime Minister Roosevelt Skerrit Friday said that the “clear and strong mandates’ given to the incumbent governments in Grenada and Antigua and Barbuda should serve them to implement policies geared towards “the re-fashioning and revitalisation” of their respective economies.

Browne skerrit
Prime Minister Gaston Browne (left) and Prime Minister Roosevelt Skerrit (right) with CARICOM Secretary general irwin La Rocque (File Photo)

Speaking on the state-owned DBS radio, Skerrit in extending congratulations to Prime Minister Gaston Browne, whose Antigua and Barbuda Labour Party (ABLP) won 15 of the 17 seats in Wednesday’s general election, said it showed that as in the case of Grenada, the electorate had “evaluated all options and determined it would be better not to tinker or tamper with a formula that is working.

“All may not be well with everyone and for everyone in Antigua, but voters obviously took the picture and broader picture into consideration and stick with the incumbent party,” Skerrit told radio listeners,

“I believe the message we can draw from both the Grenada and Antigua election outcomes is that stability at this time is crucial. If what you have is working for you then it is better…to stay with it.

“These large mandates have given each respective government the opportunity to make hard but needed decisions with respect to the re-fashioning and revitalisation of their respective economies,” Skerrit said, warning that ‘these economies in the English-speaking Caribbean are at a very crucial stage.

“We cannot wish natural disasters away nor can we pretend that there aren’t international forces acting against our very best interest. Therefore governments in the region need a mandate to act and I think both the Grenadian and now the Antigua and Barbuda governments have been given such a strong and clear mandate to bring about needed reforms”.

Prime Minister Dr. Keith Mitchell led his New National party (NNP) to a complete washout of the opposition National Democratic Congress (NDC) in Grenada winning all 15 seats for the second consecutive occasion on March 13 and the third time overall since 1999.

Skerrit said that he was looking forward to working with both governments “in the furtherance of the CARICOM (Caribbean Community) and OECS (Organisation of Eastern Caribbean States) missions and agenda.

“To the losing NDC in Grenada and the UPP (United Progressive Party) in Antigua and Barbuda, I commensurate with Mr. Nazim Burke and Mr. Harold Lovell, I wish their respective organisations the very best wishes in their efforts to re-organise and re-position themselves.”

Skerrit said that in the case of Antigua and Barbuda, where “hundreds” of Dominicans reside, the outcome of the election was important.

“It was important for us that these elections were conducted in atmosphere of free from fear, violence or intimidation. We wish the very best for Antigua, because when Antigua prospers, Dominican families prosper as well”

But as he has said in the past, Skerrit reiterated that opposition parties in the Caribbean were becoming very critical of existing government policies without having developed any meaningful alternatives.

“It speaks to the fact that electorates are really in many instances fed up with the negative rhetoric coming in from political quarters,” he said, including his own country as part of that malaise.

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Appreciation for communication will bring about unity

Appreciation for communication will bring about unity

March 16, 2018

This past weekend there was a prominent person who commented in the presence of a good cross section of women in the community, visitors included, that they “read the newspaper, yes, The Montserrat Reporter… it is always saying all things about me…!”

Without looking around, the wondering thought flashed, how many of these present, if any at all, would say the same thing. Moments later, a lady visiting since January 16, leaving right after the St. Patrick’s Day festivities, enquired where she can get a copy of TMR.

That was a very common recurring conversation, as only recently someone in Antigua personally sought, “how can I subscribe to get the newspaper?” They pointed out that it is just not convenient to do read it on the computer (a very computer literate person).

Much of the problems and difficulties faced over the past two weeks and affecting the festival have come from poor communication. Governors come and go, the last at the end of her first function made the observation at the end of teh event. But when she left, her communication effort left enough to be desired.

From here it seems much we do is lament. There is this This is a very serious situation that ‘communication’ without which (whether blind, mute, any disability) it is a must has hit a rock bottom, unthinkable. So this lament, is done with the hope that soon, very soon, there will be light and everyone, not just a few, will smile, realities of the dream and the efforts of what is being preached about the day, in the week we commemorate and celebrate.

Plenty has been said, even though no one event or writing has said all. The suggestion is that every one, the young, not so young, the old and the not so old, all is the way it is communicated and understood. Why? Everyone can come to a better understanding creating in their own minds whatever they want to, especially if based on their own sensible experiences.

Ah yes, it is dangerous when someone speaks their heart out about an experience as they cry for a ‘coming together in support of each other’ for another to say, referencing what they just heard, not just once, that the state they describe is ‘not true.’

Besides, inside and out of the debates, festivities and celebrations, we hope that by the climax of the week on Saturday, March 17, 2018, all will leave with disappointments included, everyone saying, it is possible to take in all, none of which may be complete in themselves, and we will hear a chorus, this is worth it.

This 250th year after that uprising by the ‘enslaved’, the new word which we believe it is hoped would change the ‘mentality’ harboured about the era, making it more comfortable to think and talk about it.

It seemed to some that unity was the cause of the failure. And the glaring truth is, not necessarily so throughout the Caribbean but definitely in Montserrat, unity is so lacking, as it saps even the perceived decency to fall deed in the same mire. That sadly is the position seen of Montserrat. And at the end of the day there are those who abuse and gloat and all, believing wrongly they are more intelligent.

Claude Hogan’s lecture delivery brings out the point, perhaps not as directly as we make it sound here, as he discussed the probably seemingly obscure topic of ‘masquerading’, noting a good aspect of communication. “What can he say about that?” was a question seriously asked. Will there be agreement that there was not a boring moment during that 55-minute lecture?

Very well discussed, and may well be his best oration to date. Here is a small quote near the end of his delivery: “The UK has good practices in providing people and community security to allow development to happen…call on the British Government our Administering Power, to move safeguarding to beyond child ‘anti-sexualization’, illegal marijuana and the like, to dealing with social uplifting behaviours. They should help us build and restore systems of governance that rely on merit, fairness and equity…”

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Ash and lava are visible inside the cone of the Soufrière Hills volcano, seen from Olveston, Montserrat, in January 2007. Photograph: Wayne Fenton/AP

MVO Director Stewart fixes UK Guardian, Express newspapers misrepresentation

by Bennette Roach

Soufriere Hills mountain, March 5, 2018

It wouldn’t be the first time that UK Newspapers have distorted and published information that turned out unfavourable and detrimental to the Island.

Publication of articles like this with this kind of information, is reminiscent of 1997-8 when the UK Government authorities broadcasted and said that there might be a cataclysmic eruption that would cause Montserrat to completely evacuated. The result of that in spite of vehement denial of that situation from the Government and scientists on Montserrat, it was not until 2008 the UK relented on the misinformation.

Very cleverly written, if not with some dishonesty. If one doesn’t read carefully, you will miss that Professor Neuberg is not the one saying, ‘Sadly, Montserratians must continue to wait.’

The only information attributed to Professor Neuberg is the following: “Except for the gas plume there is nothing visible on the surface, but the instruments show us clearly that the deformation is ongoing and the entire island is still inflating.”

With all the observations and opinions inserted, some of the information is far from up to date, even though they claimed they were reporting on very recent information.

As the Director Stewart observes the Express was even more damning in its reporting on this matter.

Here MVO director sets the record straight.

Statement on the Status of the Soufrière Hills Volcano, Montserrat (Director, Roderick Stewart)

Following the publication on 7 March 2018 of two articles in UK newspapers (The Guardian and The Express), members of the public have expressed concerns about the current status of the Soufrière Hills Volcano, Montserrat (SHV), particularly with reference to ground deformation. Monitoring data recorded and interpreted by Montserrat Volcano Observatory (MVO) shows no changes that suggest that new activity is imminent. The newspaper articles are misleading and, in the case of The Express, alarmist.

Ash and lava are visible inside the cone of the Soufrière Hills volcano, seen from Olveston, Montserrat, in January 2007. Photograph: Wayne Fenton/AP

Since the end of the last phase of lava extrusion on 11 February 2010, MVO has observed a slow, steady movement of the ground surface across the whole of Montserrat using data recorded by our network of very precise Global Positioning System (GPS) receivers. The news articles in question report on research being carried out by MVO in collaboration with Professor Jurgen Neuberg (University of Leeds, UK) that seeks to understand this trend. The research suggests that, since February 2010, the underground magma system that feeds the SHV has been slowly recharged by the influx of magma at depth. This causes the pressure inside the system to increase, which is then seen as upwards and outwards movement of the ground surface around the volcano.

The news articles suggest that the research has produced new information. In the Express article this, when combined with a very small swarm of small-magnitude earthquakes on 25 February 2018, indicates that a new eruption may be imminent. This is not the case. Brief swarms of such earthquakes have occurred on more than one hundred occasions since 2007.

All the data recorded by MVO since the last surface activity in February 2010 follows a consistent long-term trend which was also characteristic of four previous pauses in activity. The overall earthquake activity has been relatively low; the observed deformation pattern shows slow inflation; and the sulphur dioxide gas output is between 200 and 400 tons per day.

The restrictions on access to some areas of Montserrat have been in place for many years and all visits to these areas, including for economic activity, are closely controlled and very carefully managed.

 

 

 

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March Full Moons 2018: When to See the ‘Worm Moon’ and a (Blue) ‘Sap Moon’

 
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The month of March opens and closes with a full moon this year, making this the second “Blue Moon” month in 2018.The moon becomes full on Thursday, March 1, at 7:51 p.m. EST (0051 GMT) and again on Saturday, March 31, at 8:37 a.m. EDT (1237 GMT). The first Blue Moon of 2018 was the spectacular Super Blue Blood Moon of Jan. 31.

For observers in New York City, the moon rises at 5:33 p.m. local time on March 1, so the moon will be well above the horizon when the satellite reaches its fullest phase. It will set the following morning (March 2) at 7 a.m. local time. On March 31, the almost-full Blue Moon will set at 7:03 a.m. local time, or about 1.5 hours before it is full. It will rise again at 7:37 p.m., and while the moon will be past full, the difference from a full moon will not be visible to the naked eye. [The Moon: 10 Surprising Lunar Facts]

The Super Blue Blood Moon rises behind a perched bird in this photo taken on Jan. 31, 2018 in Konya, Turkey. The second Blue Moon of 2018, the Full Sap Moon, will rise on March 31, following the Full Worm Moon on March 1.
The Super Blue Blood Moon rises behind a perched bird in this photo taken on Jan. 31, 2018 in Konya, Turkey. The second Blue Moon of 2018, the Full Sap Moon, will rise on March 31, following the Full Worm Moon on March 1.

Credit: Abdullah Coskun/Anadolu Agency/Getty

Not every month gets two full moons. The time between full moons (known as a synodic month) averages 29.53 days, so we usually see one full moon per month. About every two to three years on average, we see a “Blue Moon” — a second full moon in one month.

Two Blue Moons in a year is relatively uncommon. According to EarthSky.org, the next year when two calendar months will each have two full moons will be 2037, when January and March will have Blue Moons. The last time it happened was in 1999.

One effect of having a full moon on Jan. 31 and March 1 is that February has no full moon at all. February is the only month in which this can happen, because the month has only 28 days (while the phenomenon can happen in a leap year, it is rare). The next time a full moon will skip February will be in 2037, according to TheSkyscrapers.org, a site run by amateur astronomers, and the phenomenon is sometimes referred to as a “Black Moon.” 

Moons of many names

Moons in various months have sometimes-evocative names. The March full moon, for instance, was dubbed the Full Worm Moon by some Native American tribes, because it happens when temperatures rise and the earthworms emerge, according to the Old Farmer’s Almanac.

Other tribes have called the full moon of March the Sap Moon “as it marks the time when maple sap begins to flow and the annual tapping of maple trees begins,” the Old Farmer’s Almanac states.  [Full Moon Names 2018: From Wolf Moons to Cold Moons

A full moon is defined as the moment when the side of the moon that faces the Earth is fully illuminated. How much of the moon’s face appears to be illuminated from our perspective on Earth depends on where the moon is in its orbit.

For about half of the world, the moon won’t be visible at the exact moment when it is officially full. That’s why the full moon is sometimes listed as happening during the day, when the moon is below the horizon, as it will be for observers in New York City on March 31. On the other hand, skywatchers in Los Angeles, where the moon reaches its fullest phase at 5:37 a.m. local time on March 31, can see it happen about an hour and a half before the moon sets at 7:04 a.m.

See the moon phases, and the difference between a waxing and waning crescent or gibbous moon, in this Space.com infographic about the lunar cycle each month. <a href="http://www.space.com/62-earths-moon-phases-monthly-lunar-cycles-infographic.html"/>See the full infographic. ” data-src=”https://img.purch.com/w/640/aHR0cDovL3d3dy5zcGFjZS5jb20vaW1hZ2VzL2kvMDAwLzAwMC8zOTgvaTAyL21vb24tcGhhc2VzLTEwMTExMS0wMi5qcGc/MTI4OTg1MDkxMQ==” data-options-closecontrol=”true” data-options-fullsize=”true”></div><figcaption id=
See the moon phases, and the difference between a waxing and waning crescent or gibbous moon, in this Space.com infographic about the lunar cycle each month. See the full infographic.

Credit: Karl Tate, SPACE.com

The moon has phases because as it revolves around the Earth, we see it from different perspectives. Like planets, the moon appears to move against the background stars. Unlike the planets, however, it does so fast enough that one can see it happen over the course of a night. The moon moves approximately one lunar diameter (about half a degree) each hour, eastward relative to the stars even as it rises in the east and sets in the west. So, the moon can move some 6 degrees to the east of its position at moonrise over the course of a 12-hour night.

This is illustrated by where the March full moons will be in the sky: On March 1, the moon will be in the constellation Leo, the lion, and about 13 degrees above the eastern horizon when it is at maximum illumination. On March 31, the moon will be in Virgo when it hits full phase (and below the horizon in the eastern U.S.). It will still be in Virgo when it rises for New York City observers that evening, but as the moon sets the next morning at 7:34 a.m. local time, it will have moved several degrees east. By the next day, it will be in Libra. 

Moon Master: An Easy Quiz for Lunatics
For most of human history, the moon was largely a mystery. It spawned awe and fear and to this day is the source of myth and legend. But today we know a lot about our favorite natural satellite. Do you?
 
Full Moon over Long Beach, CA
 
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The full moon tends to wash out a lot of fainter objects in the sky, but one can still see some brighter planets when the moon is full. On March 1, for example, Jupiter will rise at 11:42 p.m. local time in New York and will be about 23 degrees above the southwestern horizon at moonset on the morning of March 2. You can find the giant planet in Libra — no telescopes or binoculars necessary. From city locations, in fact, Jupiter may be the only “star” visible in that portion of the sky, as most stars in Libra are not very bright.

Saturn will rise at about 3 a.m. local time (the wee hours of March 2) and by moonset will be about 26 degrees above the horizon in Sagittarius. Mars, which rises at 2 a.m., will be in Ophiuchus and appear nearly due south. Both planets should also be easily visible without telescopes or binoculars.

Venus and Mercury are both “evening stars” — on March 1, they will both set shortly after 6:30 p.m. local time in New York City. These two planets will be no more than 5 degrees above the horizon by the time the sky gets dark enough to make them visible, so they will be very difficult to see, especially from a city location.

By March 31, the situation for observing Venus will be markedly better. Venus will be a full 12 degrees above the western horizon at the end of civil twilight (which is at 7:47 p.m. in New York) and bright enough that it should be just visible. Mercury will have set by that time, but because it is only 3 degrees away from the sun, that planet will be difficult to observe under any circumstances (and dangerous to view, without proper protective equipment to block the light of the sun).

Other planets will join the Blue Moon in the sky later that evening. Jupiter will rise at 10:40 p.m. on March 31, followed by Mars at 2:21 a.m. on April 1. Saturn will rise just 3 minutes earlier and will appear quite close to Mars in the sky. The two planets will be only about 4 degrees apart in Sagittarius.

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SpaceX

Success! SpaceX Launches Falcon Heavy Rocket on Historic Maiden Voyage

 
 CAPE CANAVERAL, Fla. — The first Falcon Heavy rocket built by the private spaceflight company SpaceX soared on its maiden voyage today (Feb. 6) — a historic test flight that also sent a car toward Mars and included two confirmed booster landings.

“I’m really excited about today,” SpaceX CEO Elon Musk told reporters after the launch. “I’m really proud of the SpaceX team. They’ve done an incredible job of creating the most advanced rocket in the world, and the biggest rocket in the world.”

Standing 23 stories tall, the Falcon Heavy rocket is SpaceX’s largest rocket yet. Its first stage is powered by three core boosters based on SpaceX’s Falcon 9 rockets, with 27 engines (nine per booster) firing in unison to produce about 5 million lbs. of thrust (22,819 kilonewtons) at liftoff. While SpaceX hoped all three boosters would return to Earth and land, the center core missed its mark – a minor hiccup in an otherwise successful launch, Musk said. [SpaceX’s 1st Falcon Heavy Rocket Test Flight in Pictures]

SpaceX's Falcon Heavy rocket takes off from Pad 39A at NASA's Kennedy Space Center in Florida, on Feb. 6, 2018.

SpaceX’s Falcon Heavy rocket takes off from Pad 39A at NASA’s Kennedy Space Center in Florida, on Feb. 6, 2018.

Credit: SpaceX

The rocket will eventually launch payloads of up to 141,000 lbs. (64,000 kilograms) into orbit. That’s about twice the payload capacity of its nearest competitor, the Delta IV Heavy, built by United Launch Alliance.

“This is a test flight,”  Musk said yesterday (Feb. 5). “If the test flight works, I think we’d be ready to put satellites on the next mission.” That mission, Musk added, could occur within the next three to six months.

The Falcon Heavy rocket taking off from Launch Pad 39A at NASA's Kennedy Space Center on Feb. 6, 2018.

The Falcon Heavy rocket taking off from Launch Pad 39A at NASA’s Kennedy Space Center on Feb. 6, 2018.

Credit: SpaceX

 SpaceX’s Falcon Heavy test flight was arguably one of the most anticipated rocket launches in years, with an estimated 100,000 spectators expected to visit Florida’s Space Coast to witness the event. Among those in attendance was famed Apollo 11 astronaut Buzz Aldrin, who watched as the Falcon Heavy launched from the same pad he used to fly to the moon in 1969.

 

 

Part of that allure is the mission’s novelty: This Falcon Heavy is the first of its kind, a new breed of reusable monster rocket.

The two side boosters of the first stage have flown before. One launched the Thaicom 8 communications satellite in May 2016, and the other lofted a Dragon cargo ship for NASA in July 2016, according to SpaceX. The center core stage was completely new for the Falcon Heavy. [SpaceX’s Falcon Heavy Rocket Explained (Infographic)]

The Falcon Heavy's two side boosters returned to Cape Canaveral to stick a historic double landing after SpaceX's new megarocket successfully launched on its first test flight on Feb. 6, 2018.

The Falcon Heavy’s two side boosters returned to Cape Canaveral to stick a historic double landing after SpaceX’s new megarocket successfully launched on its first test flight on Feb. 6, 2018.

Credit: SpaceX

In a sort of cosmic dance, the three first-stage core boosters returned to Earth much like SpaceX’s Falcon 9 rockets have in the past. Two boosters touched down at SpaceX landing sites at Cape Canaveral Air Force Station near KSC. The third was scheduled to land on SpaceX’s drone-ship landing pad “Of Course I Still Love You,” stationed in the Atlantic Ocean.

Musk said the core stage hit the Atlantic Ocean at about 200 mph after two of three engines did not fire during the descent. The crash damaged the nearby drone ship, he added.

SpaceX has now successfully landed Falcon-family rockets 24 times — three on this mission alone. (The rocket family is named after another famously reusable spaceship, the fictional Millennium Falcon from “Star Wars,” Musk has said.)

But perhaps the biggest draw of today’s launch was the Falcon Heavy’s unique payload: a Tesla Roadster riding atop the rocket’s second stage.

A dummy passenger in a Tesla Roadster rode aboard the maiden flight of the SpaceX Falcon Heavy on Feb. 6.

A dummy passenger in a Tesla Roadster rode aboard the maiden flight of the SpaceX Falcon Heavy on Feb. 6.

Credit: SpaceX

Musk announced in December that the “midnight cherry red” convertible, which he owns, would be the first Falcon Heavy payload. Then, on Monday, he revealed another surprise: a spacesuit-clad mannequin called “Starman”(a reference to David Bowie’s song “Starman”) in the driver’s seat, with its right hand on the wheel and left arm resting on the door.

About 28 minutes into today’s test flight, the second stage carrying the Roadster shut down its engine, ending the main phase of the Falcon Heavy test flight. If all goes well, the second stage will coast for 6 hours through Earth’s Van Allen belts, regions of extremely high radiation, and then restart its engine to send the Roadster and Starman toward Mars.

That maneuver will send the Roadster into orbit around the sun and, in turn, eventually carry the car and Starman about 248 million miles (400 million kilometers) from Earth.

“It will essentially be an Earth-Mars cycler,” Musk said, adding that the orbit should bring the Roadster near Mars. There is an “extremely tiny” chance the car could hit the Red Planet, he added.

There are three cameras on the Roadster, Musk said, adding that they should capture “epic views” during the mission.

“I’m not worried about the car,” Musk said. “It’ll be fine.”

The Falcon Heavy outside SpaceX's facility at Kennedy Space Center in Florida.

The Falcon Heavy outside SpaceX’s facility at Kennedy Space Center in Florida.

Credit: Robert Pearlman/collectspace.com

When Musk first announced the Falcon Heavy in April 2011, he predicted that its first flight could occur by 2013. But that year came and went, followed by more, as SpaceX tackled the nuances of building a reusable heavy-lift rocket. Musk estimates SpaceX invested about $500 million of its own funds to develop the new rocket.

Now, with the first test flight in the books, SpaceX is ready to forge ahead with commercial satellite launches. Two missions are scheduled for 2018: the launch of the Arabsat 6A communications satellite, and the Space Test Program 2 mission for the U.S. Air Force, which also includes a solar-sail mission for The Planetary Society.

The Falcon Heavy’s raw power, combined with its reusable design, represents a giant leap forward for SpaceX.

“This would be a major milestone in heavy lift,” Scott Hubbard, editor of the peer-reviewed journal New Space and an adjunct professor of aeronautics and astronautics at Stanford University, told Space.com before the launch. “A successful test would really advance, in my view, the potential for planning commercially acquired launch services for deep space.”

SpaceX aims to sell Falcon Heavy launches for about $90 million per flight. (The single-core Falcon 9 launches sell for $62 million per flight.) By reusing the Falcon Heavy boosters, the company hopes to drastically reduce the cost of heavy-lift space missions to near that of its Falcon 9 missions.

“If we are successful in this, it is game over for all other heavy-lift rockets,” Musk said.

The Falcon Heavy is part of a growing list of SpaceX launch services and ongoing projects. The company already provides satellite launch services and Dragon cargo delivery missions for NASA using its Falcon 9 rockets.

SpaceX is also building a crewed version of the Dragon space capsule to ferry astronauts to the International Space Station for NASA, with the first flights scheduled for later this year.

Meanwhile, SpaceX is developing a launch system even larger than the Falcon Heavy, called the BFR (or Big Falcon Rocket). That booster, Musk has said, is designed to launch hundreds of people into space at one time and could be used to transport passengers around the world quickly for point-to-point travel.

Musk said he was thinking of the BFR on Monday while visiting the Falcon Heavy at the launchpad ahead of today’s launch.

“I’m looking at Falcon Heavy, and I’m thinking, ‘It’s a bit small,'” he said.

Editor’s note: This story was updated at 8 p.m. EST to include details about the Falcon Heavy core stage, which did not survive its landing attempt.

Space.com senior writer Michael Wall contributed to this report from San Francisco. Email Tariq Malik at tmalik@space.com or follow him @tariqjmalik and Google+. Follow us @Spacedotcom, Facebook and Google+. Original article on Space.com.

 

 

 

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