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New Zealand mourns a mass shooting; students around the world demonstrate in a global climate strike.
A mass shooting kills 49, injures 48 in New Zealand
- A mass shooting at the Al Noor and Linwood mosques in Christchurch, New Zealand, killed at least 49 people and injured dozens on Friday. A 28-year-old Australian man who claimed responsibility is in custody. Friday is a Muslim holy day. The names of the victims have not yet been released. [Vox / Jennifer Williams, Alex Ward, and Jen Kirby]
- The suspect posted a white nationalist manifesto on Twitter and the extremist forum 8Chan, before opening fire in the two mosques. He provided a link to his Facebook page, where he broadcast the attack live. In order to get the disturbing footage, the gunman may have worn a helmet camera. Tech companies scrambled to respond and remove the graphic 17-minute video, but this proved difficult as it was shared through other accounts. [NYT]
- The shooter’s statement addressed the US Second Amendment right to bear arms in the manifesto. New Zealand’s gun laws are stricter than the US’s — people must obtain a license through a highly vetted process to own firearms; even if they get the license, some weapons are off limits without police endorsements, and special storage and inspection rules are in place — but there are still some gaps. Investigators are looking into what kind of weapons were used and how the attacker obtained them. [Vox / German Lopez]
- Social media sites are struggling to permanently remove the video content and the 74-page manifesto, which was republished on news sites and even available for download in some cases. It raised a range of questions about how journalists should responsibly report following an attack, when posting the shooter’s content would just give him more power over the narrative. [Atlantic / Yasmeen Serhan and Krishnadev Calamur]
- 41 people died at the Al Noor Mosque and seven were killed at the Linwood Mosque, where a worshipper seized the gun from the shooter, who fled to a car outside. The video footage shows glimpses of the gunman’s face during the rampage. The attack was New Zealand’s first mass shooting since 1997. [WSJ / Rhiannon Hoyle, Rachel Pannett, Adrien Taylor, and Rob Taylor]
- One in 500 of New Zealand’s Muslims were killed or wounded in the shooting. The country’s Muslim population increased by nearly 28 percent from 2006 to 2013. At least 48 people are being treated at local hospitals. [HuffPost / Marina Fang]
- New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern described Friday as “one of New Zealand’s darkest days,” referring to the attack as an act of terrorism. The gunman reportedly had been planning the shooting for two years and claimed in his manifesto to be defending Europeans and whites against immigrants. [NPR / Dalia Mortada and Laurel Wamsley]
#FridaysForFuture sparks climate demonstrations
- Hundreds of students in more than 1,700 locations around the world skipped school on Friday to demonstrate on behalf of climate action. UN research says there are only two dozen years left to reverse the most damaging impacts of climate change. [Washington Post / Griff Witte, Luisa Beck, Brady Dennis, and Sarah Kaplan]
- How this started: Last August, 16-year-old Greta Thunberg began skipping school on Fridays to protest outside the Swedish Parliament, saying the government was failing to keep up with the Paris climate agreement. News of her demonstrations spread and she began speaking with climate negotiators. She was nominated this week for a Nobel Peace Prize. [Vox / Umair Irfan]
- Thunberg inspired the #FridaysForFuture movement around the world. The global climate strike is an offshoot of this movement, which asks: If global climate change is our greatest existential threat, why go to school? Students in each country have different demands. The US Youth Climate Strike is largely asking for acceptance of the Green New Deal. [CNN / Harmeet Kaur]
- Climate change is a desperate situation. A 2018 report by the United Nations gave the world until just 2030 deadline before irreversible conditions unleash dangerous weather and climate conditions on humans, threatening the food supply, especially. Thunburg gave a damning speech to the UN COP24 in December, demanding delegates take more action. [NPR / Jeff Brady and Jennifer Ludden]
- Are we finally waking up to climate change? Friday marked the largest-ever climate demonstration — it’s hard to say whether change will come from the top, but there’s a sense something must be done. The generation protesting will absorb the impacts of climate change, not the older generations in power. [Time / Ang Li]
- Women are frustrated by the media’s embrace of 2020 Democratic candidate Beto O’Rourke, saying female candidates would never get the attention O’Rourke has garnered leading up to his entry into the race. [Politico / Natasha Korecki]
- The Chairman’s Global Dinner, a gathering of diplomats three days before the Trump inauguration, cost about $8,000 per person. The opulent display is now being investigated by federal and congressional authorities as part of a probe into spending by the inaugural committee. [Washington Post / Michael Kranish, Rosalind S. Helderman, Mary Jordan, and Tom Hamburger]
- The Federal Aviation Administration has not had a permanent leader for over a year — and the agency is under pressure around its handling of the Boeing 737 Max jet groundings this week following a crash in Ethiopia. The FAA first reiterated the planes were okay to fly, delaying grounding the planes despite other countries’ choice not to fly the Max 8. Then it reversed course. [The Hill / Brett Samuels]
- Let’s have a moment of celebration for college admissions: A formerly homeless student got into 17 colleges through merit, demonstrating the acceptance system can work when done fairly. [NYT / Christine Hauser]
- China is pursuing a $160 billion infrastructure plan, with new roads, subways, and railways in the works. The country’s provinces can’t afford the project, though, leaving gaps between Beijing’s order and local government abilities. [Foreign Policy / Edoardo Campanella]
“We have neither the intention to compromise with the U.S. in any form nor much less the desire or plan to conduct this kind of negotiation.” [North Korean Vice Foreign Minister Choe Son Hui on potentially ending negotiations with the United States]
Watch this: The golf ball that made golfers too good
Golf’s distance debate, explained. [YouTube / Mac Schneider]
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Do you know of any untold or underreported historical conflicts? We want to hear about it.
20 People Share Secrets From Their Jobs and Now We Can’t Sleep Well
Almost every job has its own secrets and nuances that very few people know. The people of different professions shared secrets from their jobs on Reddit and on Twitter and some of their stories may seriously change the way you see the world.
We at Bright Side, of course, don’t have any secrets like these, but as it turns out, not all other professions are as transparent as they seem to be.
- Truck driver: 9 out of 10 truck drivers travel with a smartphone on their windshield watching a TV-series. Stay away from big trucks.
- Disney World employee: There are secret tunnels underneath both Epcot and the Magic Kingdom (and probably other parks too) that enable the cast members to travel across the park pretty quickly and easily.
Comment from a park-goer: My father suffered a heart attack while visiting Epcot. I have never witnessed a faster medical response with professionals appearing from seemingly nowhere with just as fast transport through underground tunnels. It was a lifesaver. He was transported to a Disney hospital where he received great care after an emergency surgery and our stay was extended by 3 weeks.
- IT support people: (help desks, computer repair shops, Geek Squad, etc.) are mostly just better at Googling than you are.
- Employee at a flour factory: Wheat flour is not actually white. We use chlorine to make it look more attractive. This also increases the gluten level in flour, and this is why people are more gluten-sensitive today.
- Rescue team member: When you are a young lifeguard, you always have a radio with you 24/7. And you always listen to what happens in the city. If you are going, for example, to a birthday party in your own car and then you hear there is a fire on a nearby street, you turn the car and drive there! (I have my own gear in the car). @Moscow_Spasatel
- Olive oil factory employee: We had only one kind of oil but we put it in 27 different containers and sold it at different prices. Some of them were labeled as imported, some were called the highest quality oil. But it was the same oil in every single bottle.
- IT-service engineer: When someone is fixing your computer, they also often look through the data on your hard drive searching for something funny or embarrassing. So, before you give your computer to an IT service, clear your browser history, and copy all the important data to an external drive.
- Candle factory: Paraffin candles are dangerous and poisonous. Because I know what we added in there (even to the candles that say “100% paraffin”), I will never ever use candles again. If you need to use them for some reason, buy candles made of bee’s wax without any scents.
Sommelier: Wine isn’t vegan. It’s not even vegetarian in some cases. The filtering (refining) process uses egg whites, and sometimes isinglass (fish parts).
- Movie theater: A large bag of popcorn that costs the customer $5.99 (at the time) cost the movie theatre 6 cents to produce, including the butter, the kernels, the bag, the power used by the popper and the time it took the concession employee to fill up the bag and give it to the customer.
- Internet services: Most “subscription services” will raise their prices over time because they expect you to just live with it. This applies to phone bills, cable packages, internet service, insurance plans… Call up, politely complain about the price. Skip the canned “well the price has gone up because inflation/rising costs/age/end of promotion” and continue to politely say it’s too much, your budget can’t handle all your outgoings and you may need to drop the service. Either you are speaking to someone who can reduce the price, or they can put you through to a person authorized to reduce the price.
- Mechanic: If you want to go on vacation and you don’t know where to leave your car, get it to a mechanic. Many people do this. It’s ridiculously cheap and you can be away for a month! It is much more expensive to use parking lots. @Neformatws
- Pharmacist: I’ve worked at several factories that manufacture medications. And the rules were the same everywhere: if you dropped pills on the floor, just put them back into the bottle. So, maybe your medications are not as clean as you think.
- Librarian: The amount of toilet paper, random items, and bills used as bookmarks that are left in returned library books is unbelievable!
- Doctor: We spend so much time to be good at what we do, that we know almost nothing about other things.
Is there something about your job that is kept secret?
The spring equinox is Wednesday, March 20: 7 things to know about the first day of spring.
The vernal equinox is upon us: On Wednesday, March 20, both the Northern and Southern hemispheres will experience an equal amount of daylight. For those of us in the Northern Hemisphere, it marks the beginning of spring, with daylight hours continuing to lengthen until the summer solstice in June. For those south of the equator, it’s the beginning of autumn.
Technically speaking, the equinox occurs when the sun is directly in line with the equator. This will happen at 5:58 pm Eastern time on Wednesday. (A few hours later, at 9:43 pm, you can look out for the “supermoon”, the last one until 2020.)
Below is a short scientific guide to the most equal night of the year.
1) Why do we have an equinox?
The equinox, the seasons, and the changing length of daylight hours throughout the year are all due to one fact: The Earth spins on a tilted axis.
The tilt — possibly caused by a massive object hitting Earth billions of years ago — means that for half the year, the North Pole is pointed toward the sun (as in the picture below). For the other half of the year, the South Pole gets more light. It’s what gives us seasons.
Here’s a time-lapse demonstration of the phenomenon shot over the course of a whole year from space. In the video, you can see how the line separating day from night swings back and forth from the poles during the year.
And here’s yet another cool way to visualize the seasons. In 2013, a resident of Alberta, Canada, took this pinhole camera photograph of the sun’s path throughout the year and shared it with the astronomy website EarthSky. You can see the dramatic change in the arc of the sun from December to June.
This is a 6 month pinhole photo taken from solstice to solstice, in Medicine Hat, Alberta, Canada. We are one of the sunniest cities in Canada, and this shows it nicely.
Posted by Ian Hennes on Saturday, December 21, 2013
(You can easily make a similar image at home. All you need is a can, photo paper, some tape, and a pin. Instructions here.)
2) How many hours of daylight will I get Wednesday?
Equinox literally means “equal night.” And during the equinox, most places on Earth will see approximately 12 hours of daylight and 12 hours of night.
But not every place will experience the exact same amount of daylight. For instance, on Wednesday, Fairbanks, Alaska, will see 12 hours and 15 minutes of daylight. Key West, Florida, will see 12 hours and six minutes. The differences are due to how the sunlight gets refracted (bent) as it enters Earth’s atmosphere at different latitudes.
That daylight is longer than 12 hours on the equinox is also due to how we commonly measure the length of a day: from the first hint of the sun peeking over the horizon in the morning to the very last glimpse of it before it falls below the horizon in the evening. Because the sun takes some time to rise and set, it adds some extra daylight minutes.
Check out TimeAndDate.com to see how many hours of sunlight you’ll get during the equinox.
3) Over the course of the entire year, does every spot on Earth get an equal number of daylight hours?
In the summer months, the northernmost latitudes get a lot of daylight. Above the Arctic Circle, during the summer, there’s 24 hours of daylight. In the winter, the Arctic Circle is plunged into constant darkness.
So does this mean the number of daylight hours — in total, over the course of the year — equal out to places where the seasonal difference is less extreme?
The answer to this question is somewhat surprising: Roughly speaking, everywhere on Earth sees a similar number of daylight hours every year. But the equator actually gets slightly fewer daylight hours than the poles.
As astronomer Tony Flanders explained for Sky & Telescope magazine, sunlight at the poles gets refracted more than sunlight at the equator. That refracting results in the visible disc of the sun being slightly stretched out (think of when the full moon is near the horizon and looks huge — it’s being refracted too). And the refracted, stretched-out sun takes slightly longer to rise and set. Flanders estimated that the equator spends around 50.5 percent of its year in sunlight, while the poles spend between 51.5 and 53 percent of their years in sunlight.
And, of course, this is how much sunlight these areas could potentially receive if the weather were always perfectly clear; it’s not how much sunlight they actually see, nor the strength of the sunlight that hits their ground. “Where are the places on Earth that receive the largest amount of solar radiation?” is a slightly different question, the answer to which can be seen on the chart below.
4) Can I really only balance an egg on its tip during on the equinox?
Perhaps you were told as a child that on the equinox, it’s easier to balance an egg vertically on a flat surface than on other days of the year.
The practice originated in China as a tradition on the first day of spring in the Chinese lunar calendar in early February. According to the South China Morning Post, “The theory goes that at this time of year the moon and earth are in exactly the right alignment, the celestial bodies generating the perfect balance of forces needed to make it possible.”
This is a myth. The amount of sunlight we get during the day has no power over the gravitational pull of the Earth or our abilities to balance things upon it. You can balance an egg on its end any day of the year (if you’re good at balancing things).
5) Is there an ancient monument that does something cool during the equinox?
During the winter and summer solstices, crowds flock to Stonehenge in the United Kingdom. During the solstices, the sun either rises or sets in line with the layout of the 5,000-year-old-monument. And while some visit Stonehenge for the spring equinox too, the real place to be is in Mexico.
That’s because on the equinox, the pyramid at Chichen Itza on the Yucatan Peninsula puts on a wondrous show. Built by the Mayans around 1,000 years ago, the pyramid is designed to cast a shadow on the equinox outlining the body of Kukulkan, a feathered snake god. A serpent-head statue is located at the bottom of the pyramid, and as the sun sets on the day of the equinox, the sunlight and shadow show the body of the serpent joining with the head.
This is easier to see in a video. Check it out below.
6) Are there equinoxes on other planets?
Yes! All the planets in the solar system rotate on a tilted axis and therefore have seasons. Some of these tilts are minor (like Mercury, which is tilted at 2.11 degrees). But others are more like the Earth (tilted at 23.5 degrees) or are even more extreme (Uranus is tilted 98 degrees!).
Below, see a beautiful composite image of Saturn on its equinox captured by the Cassini spacecraft (RIP) in 2009. The gas giant is tilted 27 degrees relative to the sun, and equinoxes on the planet are less frequent than on Earth. Saturn only sees an equinox about once every 15 years (because it takes Saturn 29 years to complete one orbit around the sun).
During Saturn’s equinox, its rings become unusually dark. That’s because these rings are only around 30 feet thick. And when light hits them head on, there’s not much surface area to reflect.
7) I clicked this article accidentally and really just want a mind-blowing picture of the sun
The image above was taken by NASA’s Solar Dynamics Observatory, a spacecraft launched in 2010 to better understand the sun.
This past summer, NASA launched the Parker Solar Probe, a spacecraft that will come within 4 million miles of the surface of the sun (much closer than any spacecraft has been before). The goal is to study the sun’s atmosphere, weather, and magnetism and figure out the mystery of why the sun’s corona (its atmosphere) is much hotter than its surface. Still, even several million miles away, the probe will have to withstand temperatures of 2,500 degrees Fahrenheit.
It’s essential to understand the sun: It’s nothing to mess with. Brad Plumer wrote for Vox about what happens when the sun erupts and sends space weather our way to wreak havoc on Earth.
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