Moon’s mysterious disappearance 900 years ago finally gets an explanation

According to one scribe in medieval England, A.D. 1110  was a “disastrous year.” Torrential rainfall damaged crops, famine stalked the land — and, as if that wasn’t bad enough, on one fateful night in May, the moon simply vanished from the sky.

“On the fifth night in the month of May appeared the moon shining bright in the evening, and afterwards by little and little its light diminished,” the unnamed scribe wrote in the Anglo-Saxon manuscript known as the Peterborough Chronicle. “As soon as night came, it was so completely extinguished withal, that neither light, nor orb, nor anything at all of it was seen. And so it continued nearly until day, and then appeared shining full and bright.”

…Careful evaluation of ice core records points to the occurrence of several closely spaced volcanic eruptions,” which may have occurred in Europe or Asia between A.D. 1108 and A.D. 1110.

Those volcanic events, which the researchers call a “forgotten cluster” of eruptions because they were sparsely documented by historians at the time, may have released towering clouds of ash that traveled far around the world for years on end. 

Moon’s mysterious disappearance 900 years ago finally gets an explanation | Live Science



With the world distracted, China pursues its nefarious ambitions

With the coronavirus dominating the attention of governments around the world, China has taken advantage. It established new research stations on illegal artificial islands in the Paracel and Spratly Islands. It purposely rammed and sank a Vietnamese fishing vessel, began operating various military aircraft from Fiery Cross Reef and increased provocative fighter aircraft patrols around Taiwan. Currently, China is operating one of its government survey ships along with China Coast Guard escorts in the mineral-rich and disputed territorial waters some 200 nautical miles off the coast of East Malaysia in order to harass and bully Malaysian drilling exploration activities.

Additionally, as indicated in a recent U.S. Department of State report, there are signs that Beijing has been preparing to conduct – and has likely already conducted – underground nuclear tests in clear violation of the zero-yield standard that China and the United States signed as part of the 1996 Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty (CTBT).

With the world distracted, China pursues its nefarious ambitions | TheHill


Vaping: not a safe alternative to smoking, new study suggests, and it may be more harmful to health than tobacco in normal cigarettes

Smoking e-cigarettes can be more harmful to the lungs than smoking tobacco, according to researchers from Queen’s University Belfast in Britain. They discovered that bacteria found in the lungs becomes more harmful and causes increased inflammation when exposed to e-cigarette vapour.

The three-year study supports growing evidence that vaping is not a safe alternative to smoking. 

…Dr Gilpin said: “Bacteria have long been associated with the development of lung diseases, such as bronchitis and pneumonia, where smoking plays a role. Our study is the first of its kind which aimed to compare the effect of cigarette smoke and e-cigarette vapour on key lung bacteria. 

The team tested the impact of vape smoke, cigarette smoke and no smoke on bacteria found in the lungs. They chose the most popular unflavoured, nicotine-containing e-cigarette for the test, to eliminate the potential additional damage flavourings could cause.

The team found that exposure to both cigarette smoke and e-cigarette vapour caused an increase in the potential of bacteria to cause harm in the lungs, in a way that could lead to lung diseases.

The researchers also found that changes in bacteria exposed to e-cigarette vapour were similar, and in some cases exceeded, those brought about by exposure to cigarette smoke.

Vaping: not a safe alternative to smoking, new study suggests, and it may be more harmful to health than tobacco in normal cigarettes | South China Morning Post


‘Wuhan, you can do it!’ residents shout across the city in Coronavirus lockdown

The city of 11 million, where the virus emerged late last year, is now under effective lockdown. Footage shared on China’s Twitter-like Weibo social media platform showed residents of apartment compounds in the city chanting “Wuhan Jiayou” which roughly translates as, “Wuhan, you can do it!”

Tuesday’s death toll was up from 81 as of the day before, while the number of total confirmed cases in China surged to 4,515 as of Jan. 27, from 2,835 a day earlier, the National Health Commission said.

‘Wuhan, you can do it!’ residents shout across the city in Coronavirus lockdown – YouTube


Influential aunt of North Korea’s Kim Jong Un makes first public appearance in 6 years

“That she’s sitting right next to the leader and is listed second after Choe Ryong Hae suggests she might have been granted a significant new position, potentially advising Kim Jong Un on economic or political issues,” he said.

“It’s also a reminder of how weird and brutal North Korea is, after all she’s sitting next to the man who ordered her husband’s execution.”

Influential aunt of North Korea’s Kim Jong Un makes first public appearance in 6 years


Trump-China trade war: The industries hurt by US tariffs

Farmers in some US states are being forced into plowing their crops under — effectively burying them under soil in fields — as there is not enough room to store them in storage facilities, and they are unable to sell their products thanks to Chinese tariffs, Reuters reported last week.

All grain depots and silos are almost full, meaning farmers have to find their own storage solutions or allow their crops to rot. Neither option is particularly palatable.

…Manufacturing activity in the US slowed to a six-month low in October, with industry figures citing future protectionism and widespread uncertainty as major reasons for the slowdown.

“For the consumer, the tariffs are for the most part still an abstract idea, but for manufacturers they are real, and a big problem.”

Trump-China trade war: The industries hurt by US tariffs – Business Insider


Hong Kong voters deliver landslide victory for pro-democracy campaigners

There will be few immediate political consequences in Hong Kong because the councils have limited powers, only a small budget and a mandate restricted to hyper-local issues such as parks, bus stops and waste collection.

But the pro-democratic landslide was a defiant rebuke to the government’s frequent argument that its hardline policies had the support of a “silent majority”, who had been cowed by protester violence. In a peaceful vote, the city’s people came out against them.

It will also give Communist party chiefs in Beijing – who have backed the government as it dug into confrontation with demonstrators – cause to reconsider their approach. Hong Kong’s protests are perhaps the biggest challenge to China’s autocratic president, Xi Jinping, since he took power in 2012.

Hong Kong voters deliver landslide victory for pro-democracy campaigners | World news | The Guardian


Hong Kong Protests: Inside the Chaos

The two women weren’t sure whether they would win. That’s also something I’ve heard often—these protesters aren’t the most optimistic group. No rose-colored glasses here. “But we cannot give up,” one insisted, “because if we do, there will be no future for us anyway. We might as well go down fighting.”

One of the young women gave me an umbrella: a tool protesters use to shield themselves from the sun, from CCTV cameras, from overhead helicopters, from the blue water laced with pepper spray and fired from water cannons, from tear-gas canisters. They had noticed I didn’t have one, and were worried for me. They had brought extras to share. “You might need this,” one of them said as she handed it to me, and wished me good luck. And then the clouds of tear gas drifted in our direction, as they so often do in Hong Kong these days, and we scattered.

Hong Kong Protests: Inside the Chaos – The Atlantic