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Steven Ryan

Steven Ryan

This is a public domain image showing the planet Mercury crossing our sun.

Whenever a story comes out claiming to show real pictures or video of UFOs, hope springs eternal that maybe, just maybe, this might be that elusive smoking-gun evidence of alien technology.

Not a day goes by, either, without something in the news questioning the honesty of certain Americans or Russians. Now it seems that UFOs have been added to that media storm.

The innocent image above is from a collection called Pixabay, which offers many free stock photos to use for practically anything you’d like. This one shows our sun with a circular black dot, reportedly the planet Mercury, making a transit across our home star.

Still, how would Pixabay feel if a Russian news site, Pravda.ru ― ironically, the name means “truth” ― took that same picture, added two more black dots, called them all UFOs and claimed this was, in fact, a picture captured by a NASA “STEREO spacecraft”?

Wow!

If you compare the two images, it doesn’t take long to figure out that the sun in the two pictures is identical and all that Pravda.ru did was finish it off with two more “UFOs” and a headline that reads: “NASA spacecraft captures three huge UFOs silhouetted against the Sun.”

That deserves another “Wow!”

When HuffPost reached out to a NASA spokesman to comment about all of this, he said, “I’m not aware of this photo being released. Certainly not from NASA. There is no official or unofficial NASA posting of the image.”

For what it’s worth, this isn’t the first time that UFO charlatans have tried to convince the public that extraterrestrial ships are getting a little too close to our sun.

Here’s a video of an alleged alien ship refueling, according to a source that is definitely not NASA:

NASA generally has well thought-out explanations for these types of “UFO” incursions into our solar system.

For its part, Pravda.ru, which is separate from the Communist Party paper, has a history of extremely creative “journalism.” But the truth is out there.

Just not Pravda.ru’s truth. 

Source: This article was published on huffingtonpost.com By Lee Speigel

An illustration showing changes in the Van Allen Belts as a "space tsunami" of solar radiation batters Earth's magnetic field.

The toll taken by extreme weather here on Earth gets most of the attention, but a new discovery by Edmonton scientists is highlighting the impact that extreme space weather can also have on humans and our power, telecommunications and navigation systems.

Announced Monday in the scientific publication Nature Physics, findings by researchers at the University of Alberta are solving a mystery phenomenon in the Earth’s magnetosphere, the protective shield around the planet that absorbs and deflects potentially harmful solar wind blowing in from the sun. 

But when it’s severe enough, space weather at altitudes of 100 to 70,000 kilometres — where satellites fly — can disrupt power grids on Earth or fry the electronics of orbiting spacecraft or satellites beaming GPS, telecommunications and other services back to the ground.

Scientists had been puzzled by the temporary appearance in 2013 of a third Van Allen Belt. The regions within the Earth’s magnetosphere known as the inner and outer Van Allen Belts are where high-energy protons and electrons are trapped by Earth’s magnetic field.

Working on the NASA Van Allen Probes mission, a $700-million, two-spacecraft investigation of space radiation, the U of A discovery showed for the first time how the third Van Allen Belt is created by severe space storms, or waves of intense ultra low-frequency plasma waves.

“We found much, much larger waves in the system than we thought, a kind of space tsunami,” said Ian Mann, U of A physics professor and lead author of the study.

“It’s sloshing this radiation around much more than we previously thought and it kind of washes away large parts of the outer radiation belt.”

The washing-away process makes the region a safer environment for spacecraft by ridding it of much of the radiation and explains the formation of the third radiation belt.

The discovery could help in the design of technology better equipped to withstand severe space weather, Mann said. Some studies estimate the cost of damaged space and Earth infrastructure from a severe weather storm could be as high as $2 trillion US.

“It’s becoming increasingly accepted now that there’s a risk not only from extreme weather, but from extreme space weather,” Mann said.

The White House recently announced the implementation of a plan to reduce the effects of severe space weather by developing steps to protect infrastructure.

Because of Canada’s northern geography, understanding the impact of space weather is even more pressing, Mann said. 

Source: This article was published on edmontonjournal.com by Bill Mah

The 21st century is termed the information age which is heavily powered by the internet. Turn on your phone, top up your phone with internet bundles for as low as Sh20 s and Voila! PHOTO| FILE| NATION MEDIA GROUP

If you went through the 8-4-4 system, it was always about passing an exam which most of the time entailed cramming all the information you could muster to regurgitate it on an exam paper. But the truth about life is that you never stop learning. Meeting a new person, working in a new environment, reading a book or even encountering an unexpected situation; you learn how to change, adapt or manage these new learning experiences.

The 21st century is termed the information age which is heavily powered by the internet. Turn on your phone, top up your phone with internet bundles for as low as Sh20 s and Voila! You can access all the information through any search engine available to you. Some simply term it Google University.

There are numerous sites you can visit that offer talks from various global icons and celebrities, to free lectures at world renowned universities that you may not afford to attend. We took time to find some websites that offer a vast array of information to grow your skill set in your career of choice, as well as simple life skills that you wouldn’t learn in a conventional learning environment.

COURSERA

This site offers paid courses from  leading universities and institutes across US, UK, Asia, Europe, South America, Canada and South Africa; such as Princeton University, University of Cape Town, University of Geneva, University of Manchester, John Hopkins University, University of Hong Kong among others.

Coursera offers over 200 courses ranging from certificates, specialized learning to Master Degree programs. The courses include recorded videos of lecturers, peer reviewed assignments, and an interactive open discussion forum with other students from across the globe taking the course.

FUTURE LEARN

Future Learn is similar to Coursera offering a plethora of courses across various fields, from a vast array of global universities and institutions. The courses range from Creative Arts and Media, Literature, Health and Psychology, Law, Science, engineering and Math among others. These short courses are free and run from 2 to up to 8 weeks. If you would like a certificate for a course that you have completed, you will need to pay a fee to receive it. And even once you have completed the course, you will still have access to the content.

CODE ACADEMY

As the name suggest, Code Academy offers you a variety of specialised courses on coding or what is best known as software engineering. These courses are user friendly, once you login to your account you can pick from a wide category of coding courses with a text editor. These courses are developed in partnership with various leading technology firms such as IBM, and Periscope Data.

ACADEMIC EARTH

www.academicearth.org

Academic Earth offers the experience of schooling in a European or American Ivy league University. On this site you can enjoy curated video lessons from top lecturers on various course matters, free of charge. They range from philosophy, finance to mathematics and so on.  The site also offers you a variety of courses to choose from with supporting links to the various university sites where you can sign up for a specific certificate, degree or masters, of your interest to register and pay for. Depending on the course and institution you may be required to sit for a standardized test before admission. The institutions’ respective websites will provide the necessary particulars.

UDEMY

Udemy is an online treasure trove of learning. The site offers 45,000 different courses offered by expert instructors across spheres. You can enjoy tennis lessons from former World No. 1 tennis player, Andre Agassi, to learning how to emerge as a local celebrity. The courses come at a fee with on-demand pre-recorded videos.

CRASH COURSE

If learning in school was anything like Crash Course everyone would have been number one in school. This site offers free courses ranging from world history, economics, philosophy, physics to chemistry among many others. These YouTube videos, breakdown the subjects into comical and factual bite sizes; it’s a fun way to learn across all age groups. 

EDX

Like Coursera and Future Learn, Edx offers numerous courses and 15 professional certification courses from various top tier global universities. The platform was started by US based Harvard and MIT universities in 2012, to expand open learning across the globe. Most of the courses are generally self paced; meaning you determine how fast you want to study the course. The courses are free, the only payment you will make, if you want, is to purchase your certification for the completed course. The Professional certification, on the other hand, is priced.

SCHOOL OF LIFE

Life is a school on its own. But there are a lot of soft skills that a lot of us miss from divergent parenting at home to varied school systems and societal norms. School of life offers an amusing and creative solution to answering some of life’s questions through their YouTube videos. It explores everything from existentialism, to how to be a man, political theory to why comedy matters. It is a great way to learn something new.  

Source: This article was published on nation.co.ke By ROSE ODENGO 

The U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit building in San Francisco is shown. (Josh Edelson / AFP/Getty Images)

There's a huge court case you need to hear about. It might not be on your radar yet because, frankly, some of it gets pretty technical. But the outcome is likely to have enormous repercussions for online privacy, net neutrality and the broader economy.

For months, policymakers have been struggling with the implications of this case, FTC vs. AT&T, in part because it overturned roughly a century of established legal practice — and, analysts say, because it appeared to open a tremendous loophole that businesses might use to evade federal oversight almost completely.

This week, the federal appeals court responsible for the ruling agreed to rehear the case, potentially opening the door to a different result. Here's what you need to know.

In August, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit dealt the Federal Trade Commission a major blow — calling into question one of the consumer protection agency's most important powers. Over the course of 21 pages, the court said the FTC should be banned from regulating a company if even a small part of that firm's business is regulated by the Federal Communications Commission as a telecom service, otherwise known as a "common carrier."

This was a major departure from the previous norm, said Harold Feld, a senior vice president at the consumer group Public Knowledge.

"It was huge because it was totally unexpected," Feld said. "Nobody's ever ruled that way before."

The FTC is one of America's foremost law enforcement agencies. In the tech sector alone, it has investigated or filed lawsuits against companies such as Apple, Amazon and Google. It has returned millions, if not billions, of dollars to Americans after moving to stop scams and fraudsters of all stripes. But it can go after companies only if they're within its jurisdiction.

August's ruling effectively shrank the FTC's jurisdiction by placing a whole class of companies off limits. What's more, it gave businesses everywhere a massive incentive to try to gain entry into that class, thus wriggling out of FTC oversight. And it wasn't as if the FCC could pick up the slack, either; by law, the agency may regulate common carriers only to the extent that they are engaged in providing common-carrier services. Any other parts of a common carrier's business is off limits to the FCC.

The result, legal experts say, was a new, gaping loophole in regulatory coverage that nobody anticipated.

"This decision raised the question [of] whether any company with a common carrier business could escape FTC enforcement for all other aspects of its business," said Robin Campbell, a lawyer at Squire Patton Boggs.

This is why FTC vs. AT&T is such a big deal. Under the August ruling, virtually any company in any industry seeking lighter regulation could try to claim common carrier status to exempt the rest of its business from FTC and FCC oversight.

"Facebook could buy some dinky little telephone company, and then become totally exempt from the Federal Trade Commission," Feld said. Replace "Facebook" with the name of any other company, he said, and you begin to see how significant this gets.

The court's decision this week to rehear the case happens to nullify the ruling, so the loophole is temporarily closed. But it could easily be reopened if the court comes to the same conclusion, analysts say. Other possibilities include reversing the court's prior position entirely, or perhaps coming down somewhere in the middle.

AT&T said in a statement that it looked forward to participating in the rehearing.

The outcome of the case will affect more than the FTC: It may also lend momentum to the FCC's effort to repeal its own net neutrality rules.

FCC Chairman Ajit Pai has argued that the FTC, not the FCC, should be responsible for policing Internet service providers. Right now, the FTC has no power over Internet service providers, because the net neutrality rules consider all those providers to be common carriers.

Permanently undoing the Ninth Circuit's August ruling would mean giving the FTC the ability once again to go after the parts of an Internet service provider’s business that aren't common-carrier-related.

But the FCC wants to go further than that. Pai has proposed to take Internet service providers out of the “common carrier” category, which could give the FTC even greater jurisdiction over the providers.

"The court's [decision to rehear] strengthens the case for the FCC to reverse its 2015 Title II Order and restore the FTC's jurisdiction over broadband providers' privacy and data security practices," Pai said in a statement Tuesday. The FTC declined to comment.

This debate over which agency should do what may seem arcane. But it has real consequences for businesses and consumers, because it represents the difference between, on the one hand, establishing preemptive rules to prevent customer abuse — and, on the other, asking customers and the government to take action to punish corporate transgressions after they occur.

Preemptive regulation may cost businesses more in terms of extra paperwork, lawyers' fees and lost innovation, but after-the-fact enforcement shifts those costs onto customers and smaller businesses that can't afford to wage lengthy legal battles, according to Robert Cooper, a lawyer at Boies Schiller Flexner.

"There is a role for antitrust enforcement in this space, but it is not a substitute for prescriptive rules," Cooper said in an earlier interview about the FCC's net neutrality plan. "[It] is expensive and time-consuming and thus favors those with the greatest resources. Moreover, it necessarily requires that an alleged violation already has occurred."

Source: This article was published on latimes.com by Brian Fung The Washington Post

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