Donald Trump unveils U.S. Space Force official flag

https://www.stripes.com/polopoly_fs/1.629921.1589567533!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_900/image.jpg

WASHINGTON — The U.S. Space Force unveiled its service flag on Friday, when top Pentagon officials presented President Donald Trump with the sixth military branch’s official colors during a private Oval Office ceremony marking Armed Forces Day.

In photos tweeted out by a Reuters photographer, Trump is seen smiling as the Space Force’s senior enlisted leader, Chief Master Sgt. Roger Towberman, holds up the new flag representing the military service charged with carrying out the Pentagon’s space-based operations. The new service was officially stood up in December when the president — who championed the force’s cause even as some Pentagon leaders initially pushed back on it necessity — signed a law mandating its creation.

The brief ceremony was open only to the daily White House press pool, which includes a reporter and news photographer who share details of the event with other media members. The pool photographer, Steve Holland with the Reuters news agency, shared the photo from inside the Oval Office, revealing the black flag for the new service — the first new military branch in 72 years.

Among people attending the ceremony were the Space Force’s top officer Gen. Jay Raymond, Air Force Secretary Barbara Barrett, Army Gen. Mark Milley, the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, and Defense Secretary Mark Esper, who said the flag reveal was “a very historic moment,” according to a pool report.

Raymond, the chief of space operations, told Trump that the prominent star design on the black and platinum-colored flag represented the North Star, which “signifies our core value, our guiding light.” (source: https://www.stripes.com/news/us/space-force-unveils-its-service-flag-at-white-house-ceremony-1.629914 )

Coronavirus food shortages beginning … but not why you think

It’s all about money. If the processing plants’ commercial and restuarant customer base is depleted, they will sit on their hands making demand go down, even though demand has actually gone up. It’s not like oil, where demand is reflected on population movement habits and a shift in workforce behavior. We have demand in food commodities that is false. Get ready.

Texas food bank distributes over 1 million pounds of goods to 10,000 families

Virus Outbreak Texas

A Texas food bank distributed more than 1 million pounds of food to about 10,000 families, whose cars sat bumper to bumper in a parking lot for the record-setting distribution event this week amid the coronavirus crisis.
About 6,000 households preregistered on the San Antonio Food Bank’s website for Thursday’s distribution held at Trader’s Village, Food Bank president and CEO Eric Cooper told the San Antonio Express-News.
But thousands more showed up for the giveaway — and aerial photos show the parking lot chock-full of cars. Cooper called it the largest single-day distribution in the nonprofit’s 40-year history.
“It was a rough one today,” he told the Express-News. “We have never executed on as large of a demand as we are now.”

(source: https://nypost.com/2020/04/10/10k-families-gathered-at-san-antonio-food-bank-distribution-event/ )

In California: 7,000 hotel rooms ready for homeless as COVID-19 cases surge

I am Gabrielle Canon, filling in for Arline Martinez. We made it to Friday!

But first, as of Friday afternoon, there were more than 11,300 confirmed cases in California, with the most concentrated in Los Angeles County, the state’s most populous. In the Golden State, 250 people in California have already lost their lives to the virus.

But the Golden State is still lagging far behind others in how quickly it can test symptomatic residents — let along those who aren’t sick enough to qualify for a test. Public health officials expect the number of people with coronavirus is a lot higher than the test numbers indicate, and have begun cautiously recommending that anyone leaving their homes (for essential reasons only!) wear something — like a scarf or bandana — over their face so they don’t run the risk of infecting others.

Despite the surging numbers — and Gov. Gavin Newsom’s update that California’s cases are expected to continue rising with a peak in early May — there’s evidence that the fast-acting decision to issue the nation’s first statewide shelter-in-place order is helping. Here’s to staying home.

In California brings you stories and information from newsrooms across the USA TODAY Network and beyond to keep you safe and informed. Subscribe today for free delivery right to your inbox every evening M-F. 

Newsom launches Project Roomkey to house the homeless in hotels

Lisa Marie Nava, right, helps a woman taking a shower at a mobile service for the homeless provided by The Shower of Hope MacArthur Park Monday, March 23, 2020, in Los Angeles. California residents have been told to keep away from others, not gather in groups and wash their hands frequently due to threat posed by the coronavirus.
Marcio Jose Sanchez/AP

At Newsom’s noon briefing on Friday (now a regular thing that can be watched online on the governor’s Twitter page), he announced that the state had secured roughly 7,000 hotel rooms that will be made available to the homeless. The program, which aims to obtain a total of 15,000 units in areas where large numbers of people sleep on the streets, is intended to help curb the spread of COVID-19 among this highly vulnerable community.

The rooms come complete with “essential wraparound services,” including cleaning, laundry, security and other support staff. Some areas will also benefit from a partnership with Chef José Andrés’s World Central Kitchen, which will provide three meals a day.

More than 800 people have already moved in.

“What we want to do is relieve the stress in our shelter system,” Newsom said. “If left unaddressed, we allow our most vulnerable residents in the state of California to be exposed to this virus.”

California is the first state to secure FEMA funding for such a project, and the state will be reimbursed by the federal agency for up to 75% of costs.

The Trump administration announced $3 billion Thursday for homelessness pandemic efforts. Newsom has pledged $150 million in homeless aid, including money for hotel rooms.

There are more than 150,000 homeless people in California. Advocates have been concerned and critical of how slow officials were to address the higher risks faced by the homeless population, especially in the face of closures of public libraries and other facilities, which made it even more difficult for the unhoused to access water, food, and restrooms.

Still, the National Alliance to End Homelessness praised the plan.

“Through Project Roomkey, California has taken the lead in protecting homeless residents from COVID-19,” said president Nan Roman in a statement. “This initiative sets a strong national example of how state leaders can leverage their dollars with FEMA, HUD and other federal funds to address the needs of the most vulnerable homeless populations in this crisis and protect public health.”

Here’s how to protect yourself from coronavirus scams

It’s sad to think there are people out there exploiting this emergency and preying on pandemic fears to turn a profit. But, well, sigh.

While we can’t stop scammers, are ways to be vigilant and not fall victim to online tricks. The Federal Communications Commission has shared some helpful tools and examples of what to expect, to keep you ahead of the game.

Got a call offering free home testing kits? SCAM.

Maybe a text message came in from a Department of Health and Human Services official ordering you to take a mandatory online screening test? SCAM.

Someone has called saying you need to verify your personal information to get your federal stimulus check, a loan for your small business, or student loan debt forgiveness? SCAM, SCAM, SCAM.

Report anything that seems suspicious or consult this list of tips from the Feds:

  • Do not respond to calls or texts from unknown numbers, or any others that appear suspicious.
  • Never share your personal or financial information via email, text messages, or over the phone.
  • Be cautious if you’re being pressured to share any information or make a payment immediately.
  • Scammers often spoof phone numbers to trick you into answering or responding.  Remember that government agencies will never call you to ask for personal information or money.
  • Do not click any links in a text message. If a friend sends you a text with a suspicious link that seems out of character, call them to make sure they weren’t hacked.
  • Always check on a charity (for example, by calling or looking at its actual website) before donating.

E-sports, big cats, and one man’s attempt to vacation from home

Home security camera captures mountain lion jumping over fence at California home
San Bruno Police via Storyful

Sports events have been canceled, much to the dismay of fans now home on their couches looking for something to watch. If ever there was a moment for e-sports, it is now.

People are tuning in to watch others play video games.

Nascar drivers are now behind the wheels of virtual cars.

And now, you can even get your basketball fix with the NBA’S 2K Players Tournament. The LA Times has all the details here.

Sports not your thing? Already binge-watched Tiger King? Try looking out your window—  some Gilroy residents have spotted big cats this week. Mountain lions, to be exact. Just another reason not to leave your house.

If all else fails, here’s how The Desert Sun’s columnist Shad Powers survived a staycation.

Federal Judge rules that gun stores aren’t essential

Even as businesses shuttered across the state under Newsom’s shelter-in-place orders, lines outside gun stores could be seen wrapping around buildings. It’s not just happening in California.

As fears spiked alongside coronavirus numbers in recent weeks, Americans have purchased a record-breaking number of firearms. Federal data shows that more than 3.7 million background checks were conducted in March, shattering a more than 20-year record.

But some California county officials have cracked down on the businesses, ordering them to close. Gun rights advocates argue that they should be considered “essential” enterprises, which are exempt from the orders.

A federal judge has now officially disagreed.

U.S. District Court Judge Consuelo Marshall ruled against Camarillo resident Donald McDougall, who filed for a temporary order blocking gun stores from closing in Ventura County, claiming that his constitutional rights had been violated by the order.

In a two-page opinion, Marshall acknowledged the importance of protecting the Second Amendment but ruled that protecting public health is a priority, writing, “the county order does not specifically target handgun ownership, does not prohibit the ownership of a handgun outright, and is temporary.”

Still, it’s not a done deal. McDougall is hoping for help from powerful pro-gun organizations.

In a separate suit, the National Rifle Association sued several California cities and New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo for closing gun shops during the COVID-19 response.

Two coronavirus deaths in one Sheriff’s Department

Riverside County sheriff’s Deputy Terrell Young, left, and fellow Deputy David Werksman each died on Thursday, April 2, 2020, after they contracted the coronavirus, Sheriff Chad Bianco announced.
Riverside County Sheriff’s Department

On Friday morning, the Riverside County Sheriff’s Department shared tragic news — a second deputy has died after getting coronavirus.

Deputy David Werksman was 51 years old and had devoted 22 years to serving his community. Described as kind and always willing to help, department leaders said the department is reeling from the second loss of the week. On Thursday, Sheriff Chad Bianco announced that Deputy Terrell Young had died from the virus.

“I’m seriously heartbroken,” Bianco said during an afternoon news conference outside the sheriff’s department in Riverside. “We are reeling from the reality that this virus has taken the lives of two of our family members in the past 24 hours. Our hearts and our prayers go out to Deputy Werksman’s and Deputy Young’s families.”

Newsom shared that Santa Rosa Police Department Det. Marylou Armer was the first line of duty death of a police officer in California associated with COVID-19. She was 44.

“Jennifer and I are terribly saddened to learn of Detective Armer’s untimely death. Amid the current fight against COVID-19, Detective Armer selflessly and courageously served her community and the people of California,” Newsom said in a statement. “We extend our heartfelt condolences to her family, friends, colleagues and members of the Santa Rosa community as they mourn her loss.”

The flags are being flown at half-staff to honor her.

That’s it from me tonight. Hope you all stay safe and #STAYHOME this weekend.

In California is a roundup of news from across USA TODAY Network newsrooms. Also contributing: The Atlantic, The Los Angeles Times, The Press Democrat, The San Francisco Chronicle, and The Guardian. 

Run Out of Food? Coronavirus Has Revealed The Fragility Of Global Food Systems

Toilet paper shortagesprofiteering from hand sanitiser and empty shelves in supermarkets.

Thanks to Covid-19, governments in most industrialised nations are preparing for shortages of life’s necessities. If they fail, riots over food may be inevitable. Some wonder if we are responding appropriately to Covid-19, and it’s clear that recent events expose a fundamental flaw in the global systems that bring us our daily bread.

We live in a wondrous age when global supply chains seamlessly link farmers and consumers using the principles of ‘just enough, just in time’. For years, companies have worked hard to keep inventories low, timing shipments to balance supply and demand using knife-edge accuracy.

In many ways, this system is a miracle. Low-cost food is one outcome. And if there’s a problem in one part of the supply chain, the global system is good at finding alternatives. (Mangoes from Asia gone bad? Try the mangoes from Central America!)

But with this abundance—and convenience—comes a hidden cost that Covid-19 has exposed: a loss of resilience. Our global food system depends on the tendrils of international trade to wrap the world in an ever more complex system of buyers, sellers, processors and retailers, all of whom are motivated to keep costs low and operations lean.

So when the supply-chain system itself is thrown into question—as it is now thanks to Covid-19—then the wheels threaten to come off the proverbial apple cart. Covid-19 shows that we need to wake up and realise that if we really want to be resilient, we need to build more redundancies, buffers and firewalls into the systems we depend on for life.

In practical terms, this means we should be keeping larger inventories and promoting a greater degree of regional self-sufficiency.

These measures will help ensure that our communities don’t panic if the food deliveries stop.

But while this may sound sensible, high inventories and more regional self-sufficiency are, in fact, antithetical to the ‘just enough, just in time’ approach that drives most of our economy, even though no one’s suggesting we need to be completely self-sufficient all of the time.

Take the systems that produce and distribute the corn, wheat and rice that fuel most of humanity’s calories. The latest United Nations report on the global grain system contains some bad news. Last year, the world ate more grains than it produced within the year, and our carryover stocks (defined as the amount of food we have, globally, at the end of the year to see us through to the next harvest) are declining.

The good news is that this decline comes after a run of good years in which farmers delivered one monumental harvest after another. So our carryover stocks started last year in pretty good shape and this means we’ve currently got about four months of food stored. But there’s a downward trend regarding those stockpiles, and this is worrisome.

But what if Mother Nature doesn’t play nice with us this year?

Climate change, after all, is making food harder to produce. What if we face a major drought in Europe and Asia like we did in 2010 to 2011? Or another big drought in America’s Midwest similar to the situation in 2012 and 2013? And what if Covid-19 doesn’t go away by summer?

If any of these things happen, we may not have the buffers to protect ourselves. And it won’t be toilet paper and hand sanitiser we need to worry about. It might be wheat, rice and corn.

Today, conventional wisdom is that the average city in North America has a three-day supply of fresh food (dried, canned and other preserved food supplies will last a bit longer). This, according to some, means that we are all only ever ‘nine meals from anarchy’. Luckily, North American supermarkets have sophisticated supply chains, so no one is seriously suggesting that the panicked purchasing of the last few days that has emptied shelves will persist. Nevertheless, the systems we depend upon are, in many ways, fragile and inherently vulnerable.

In all likelihood, Covid-19 will pass and most of us will only suffer economic setbacks from lost wages and disruptions linked with cancelled classes, travel and meetings. But in the aftermath, it’s important to ask whether we—as a society—will treat this as a moment to learn a bit about the fragility of the modern world.

Will we work collectively to put resilience alongside efficiency as a primary driver for the systems we depend on each and every day to feed ourselves?

Evan Fraser is a professor, director of the Arrell Food Institute and a Tier 1 Canada Research Chair in Global Food Security at the University of Guelph in Ontario, Canada. This article was originally published on The Conversation.

This article appeared at the Australian Strategic Policy Institute.

Over half of British millennials believe the moon landings were faked

A poll of 2,000 Brits found that people aged between 24-35 were the least convinced that Neil Armstrong really was the first man to walk on the lunar surface in July 1969

Six in every 10 millennials reckon the moon landings were faked.

A poll of 2,000 Brits found that people aged between 24-35 were the least convinced that Neil Armstrong really was the first man to walk on the lunar surface, in July 1969.

The Apollo 11 mission was watched by a global audience of 650million people.

But millennials reckon the landing was staged by America in its battle for dominance in space with the Soviet Union.

Asked if they reckoned it was possible for the landing and subsequent missions to the moon to have been faked, 64% of them said yes.

And 62% of younger people aged 16 to 24 agreed with them.

But only 45% of those aged 55 or older said the same, research by ToppCasinoBonus.com found.

Bill Kaysing, a former US Navy officer, was one of the first conspiracy theorists. In his 1976 book on the landings he claimed: “It’s just against all statistical odds.”

Roger Launius, a former chief historian of Nasa, said that everyone “loved conspiracy theories”.

He added: “Every time something big happens, somebody has a counter-explanation.”

The poll also found millennials were the most likely age group to believe that the world is controlled by lizards, with 12% thinking it
was true.

Conspiracy theorists point to photos and footage of moon landings and ask why there are ’no stars’ in the sky or why the American flag is ‘flapping in the breeze’ when there is no wind or atmosphere on the lunar surface.

Others simply ask why we haven’t exploited the moon’s resources by going back time and time again, and even setting up a human colony there – despite it being more than 50 years since the first landing – or what there is no ‘blast crater’ under the landing module.

The Apollo 11 mission was watched by a global audience of 650million people (Image: AP)

(source: https://www.dailystar.co.uk/real-life/over-half-british-millennials-believe-21652869 )

How poor people survive in the USA

Homelessness, hunger and shame: poverty is rampant in the richest country in the world. Over 40 million people in the United States live below the poverty line, twice as many as it was fifty years ago. It can happen very quickly.
Many people in the United States fall through the social safety net. In the structurally weak mining region of the Appalachians, it has become almost normal for people to go shopping with food stamps. And those who lose their home often have no choice but to live in a car. There are so many homeless people in Los Angeles that relief organizations have started to build small wooden huts to provide them with a roof over their heads. The number of homeless children has also risen dramatically, reaching 1.5 million, three times more than during the Great Depression the 1930s. A documentary about the fate of the poor in the United States today.

To the moon, all of you conspiracy theorists

One small step for man. One giant leap for nutjobs. Saturday marks the 50th anniversary of one of America’s greatest …

One small step for man. One giant leap for nutjobs.

Saturday marks the 50th anniversary of one of America’s greatest achievements — the first humans to land on the moon.

Or did we?

When Apollo 11 astronauts Neil Armstrong and Edwin “Buzz” Aldrin took those first lunar steps on July 21, 1969, Armstrong famously declared, “That’s one small step for man, one giant leap for mankind.” That “small step” marked the culmination of centuries of scientific progress, and Americans stood proud.

Well, most Americans. Despite overwhelming evidence, including the collection of moon rocks and NASA images, the conspiracy nuts were soon out in force, claiming the moon landing was an elaborate hoax.

In 1976, writer Bill Kaysing published a conspiracy pamphlet titled “We Never Went to the Moon,” claiming the moonwalk footage was a fake, staged in a studio. In 2001, Fox News gave fresh blood to the lunar “truther” movement, airing a “Conspiracy Theory: Did We Land on the Moon?” special and interviewing a parade of Apollo 11 skeptics, including Kaysing and conspiracy filmmaker Bart Sibrel.

A year later, Sibrel assaulted Aldrin in a Beverly Hills hotel, screaming insults and poking him with a Bible. After one poke too many, Aldrin responded by socking Sibrel in the jaw, who then ran away. One small step for the good guys?

The number of conspiracy nuts mushroomed with the advent of social media, from lunar “truthers” to 9/11 “truthers” to anti-vaxxers to Holocaust deniers. Among their vilest smears is that the gunning down of children at Newtown, Connecticut, in 2012 never happened and was a hoax, further compounding the grief of the parents.

Today, any cretin with a computer living in his or her parents’ basement can post a new “theory” that might go viral and bring instant notoriety in growing circles of similarly stunted intellects. Look Mom, I’m famous!

One might wonder how the human race has gotten this far. At that point, it’s good to remember that if we were able to get to the moon, there’s not much we can’t do.

So let’s keep the faith, and celebrate the Apollo 11 astronauts’ achievement with pride!

Follow playwright Mike Vogel at @mikewrite7.

(source: https://www.amny.com/opinion/lunar-landing-apollo-anniversary-truthers-moon-1-33913468/ )

Duran Duran at Kennedy Space Center Apollo 11 50th Anniversary

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Duran Duran

50 years after Apollo 11 made its historic launch, leading to the first two people landing on the Moon, Duran Duran hosted a 50th anniversary concert on Tuesday (July 16) in celebration at the Rocket Garden at Kennedy Space Center Visitor.
In a video uploaded from the event, the band performs “The Universe Alone,” off their 2015 album, Paper Gods. Simon LeBon croons in an out-of-this-world production as the screen behind him displays an astonishing image of stars in space. The performance was backed by an orchestra and choir, adding to the emotion. (source: Billboard.com)