New NASA Boss Gets ‘Hearty Congratulations’ From Space

NASA’s new boss is already getting cheers from space.

 

Immediately after being sworn into office Monday by Vice President Mike Pence, NASA Administrator Jim Bridenstine took a call from the three U.S. astronauts at the International Space Station who offered “hearty congratulations.” The Oklahoma congressman became the 13th administrator of NASA, filling a position that had been vacant for more than a year.

 

“America loves what you guys are doing,” Bridenstine, a former naval aviator, told the astronauts. He promised to do his best “as we reach for new heights and reveal the unknown for the benefit of humankind.”

 

This is the 60th anniversary year for NASA .

 

Bridenstine is the first elected official to lead NASA, something that had bogged down his nomination last year by President Donald Trump. The Senate approved his nomination last week by a narrow vote of 50-49. Monday’s swearing-in ceremony took place at NASA headquarters in Washington.

 

Pence noted that the space agency, under Bridenstine’s direction, will work to get astronauts back to the moon and then, with help from commercial space and international partners, on to Mars.

 

“NASA will lead the way,” said Pence, who heads the newly resurrected National Space Council.

 

Charles Bolden Jr., a former space shuttle commander and major general in the Marines, was NASA’s last official administrator. The space agency was led by Acting Administrator Robert Lightfoot in the interim. Lightfoot retires from NASA at the end of this month.

From: MeNeedIt

New NASA Boss Gets ‘Hearty Congratulations’ From Space

NASA’s new boss is already getting cheers from space.

 

Immediately after being sworn into office Monday by Vice President Mike Pence, NASA Administrator Jim Bridenstine took a call from the three U.S. astronauts at the International Space Station who offered “hearty congratulations.” The Oklahoma congressman became the 13th administrator of NASA, filling a position that had been vacant for more than a year.

 

“America loves what you guys are doing,” Bridenstine, a former naval aviator, told the astronauts. He promised to do his best “as we reach for new heights and reveal the unknown for the benefit of humankind.”

 

This is the 60th anniversary year for NASA .

 

Bridenstine is the first elected official to lead NASA, something that had bogged down his nomination last year by President Donald Trump. The Senate approved his nomination last week by a narrow vote of 50-49. Monday’s swearing-in ceremony took place at NASA headquarters in Washington.

 

Pence noted that the space agency, under Bridenstine’s direction, will work to get astronauts back to the moon and then, with help from commercial space and international partners, on to Mars.

 

“NASA will lead the way,” said Pence, who heads the newly resurrected National Space Council.

 

Charles Bolden Jr., a former space shuttle commander and major general in the Marines, was NASA’s last official administrator. The space agency was led by Acting Administrator Robert Lightfoot in the interim. Lightfoot retires from NASA at the end of this month.

From: MeNeedIt

US Soldier Gets World’s First Penis and Scrotum Transplant

A young military veteran who had his genitals blown off in a blast in Afghanistan has received the world’s most extensive penis transplant.

Surgeons at Johns Hopkins University in Baltimore, Maryland, rebuilt the man’s entire pelvic region —  transplanting a penis, scrotum and part of the abdominal wall from a deceased donor — in a highly experimental 14-hour operation.

Doctors said Monday he is recovering well and is expected to leave the hospital this week.

The patient, who asked to remain anonymous, is expected to recover urinary and eventually, sexual function.

The scrotum transplant did not include the donor’s testicles, meaning reproduction won’t be possible.

“We just felt there were too many unanswered ethical questions” with that extra step, said Hopkins’ Dr. Damon Cooney.

Three other successful penis transplants have been reported, two in South Africa and one in 2016 at Massachusetts General Hospital. Those transplants involved only the penis and not extensive surrounding tissue that made this transplant much more complex.

The Hopkins patient received an extra experimental step — an infusion of bone marrow from his donor that research suggests may help a recipient’s immune system better tolerate a transplant. Surgeons said this treatment enables the veteran to take one anti-rejection drug instead of several.

 

A statement from Hopkins included a quote from the patient, saying, “When I first woke up, I felt finally more normal.”

From: MeNeedIt

US Soldier Gets World’s First Penis and Scrotum Transplant

A young military veteran who had his genitals blown off in a blast in Afghanistan has received the world’s most extensive penis transplant.

Surgeons at Johns Hopkins University in Baltimore, Maryland, rebuilt the man’s entire pelvic region —  transplanting a penis, scrotum and part of the abdominal wall from a deceased donor — in a highly experimental 14-hour operation.

Doctors said Monday he is recovering well and is expected to leave the hospital this week.

The patient, who asked to remain anonymous, is expected to recover urinary and eventually, sexual function.

The scrotum transplant did not include the donor’s testicles, meaning reproduction won’t be possible.

“We just felt there were too many unanswered ethical questions” with that extra step, said Hopkins’ Dr. Damon Cooney.

Three other successful penis transplants have been reported, two in South Africa and one in 2016 at Massachusetts General Hospital. Those transplants involved only the penis and not extensive surrounding tissue that made this transplant much more complex.

The Hopkins patient received an extra experimental step — an infusion of bone marrow from his donor that research suggests may help a recipient’s immune system better tolerate a transplant. Surgeons said this treatment enables the veteran to take one anti-rejection drug instead of several.

 

A statement from Hopkins included a quote from the patient, saying, “When I first woke up, I felt finally more normal.”

From: MeNeedIt

Scientists: California Risks Severe ‘Whiplash’ From Drought to Flood

California will suffer more volatile weather this century with a “whiplash” from drought to rain and mounting risks a repeat of the devastating “Great Flood” of 1862, scientists said on Monday.

Climate change, driven by man-made greenhouse gas emissions, would drive more extreme shifts between hot and dry summers and wet winters in the most populous U.S. state, they wrote in the journal Nature Climate Change.

Global warming is making California and other regions with similar Mediterranean-style climates, from southern Europe to parts of Australia, drier and warmer in summer, said lead author Daniel Swain of the University of California, Los Angeles.

In California in winter “an opposing trend toward a strong Pacific jet stream is projected to locally enhance precipitation during the core months of the ‘rainy season,’” he told Reuters.

“Natural precipitation variability in this region is already large, and projected future whiplash increases would amplify existing swings between dry and wet years,” the authors wrote.

They projected “a 25 percent to 100 percent increase in extreme dry-to-wet precipitation events” this century.

California had its worst drought in recorded history from 2010—2016, followed by severe rains and flooding that culminated with evacuation orders for almost 200,000 residents as a precaution near the Oroville Dam last year.

The study said major urban centers, including San Francisco and Los Angeles, were “more likely than not” to suffer a freak series of storms by 2060 similar to ones in 1861-62 that led to the “Great Flood.”

The storms swamped the Sacramento and San Joaquin valleys, flooding an area 300 miles (500 km) long and 20 miles wide.

Storms washed away bridges, inundated mines and wrecked farms.

A repeat “would probably lead to considerable loss of life and economic damages approaching a trillion dollars,” the study said.

As part of planning, Swain said the state should expand use of floodplains that can be deliberately flooded to soak up rains, such as the Yolo Bypass which protects the city of Sacramento.

The study assumes, however, that global greenhouse gas emissions will keep rising, at odds with the goals of the 2015 Paris Agreement under which almost 200 nations agreed to cut emissions to net zero between 2050 and 2100.

“Such a future can be partially, but not completely, avoided” if the world takes tougher action, Swain said. He noted that existing government pledges to limit warming fall well short of the Paris goals.

U.S. President Donald Trump, who doubts mainstream findings that greenhouse gas emissions are the main cause of warming, plans to quit the deal, saying he wants to promote the U.S. fossil fuel industry.

From: MeNeedIt

Bloomberg Donating $4.5 Million to Support Paris Climate Accord

Former New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg announced Sunday he is giving $4.5 million to the United Nations Climate Change Secretariat to cover a U.S. government funding gap for the international Paris climate accord.

Bloomberg’s charitable foundation said the money will support work developing countries are doing to achieve their targets under the agreement as well as “promoting climate action” among cities and businesses.

The 2015 treaty signed by more than 200 nations and entities vowed to curb carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gas emissions in order to try to limit global temperature rise.

Former President Barack Obama’s administration was among the signatories, but President Donald Trump said he would pull out of the agreement. Trump campaigned as a booster of fossil fuels and a skeptic of climate change science, and said the Paris accord would cause U.S. businesses to lose millions of jobs.

“This agreement is less about the climate and more about other countries gaining a financial advantage over the United States,” Trump said last year.

Bloomberg made a similar payment last year and pledged to continue the contributions. He told CBS News in an interview broadcast Sunday that Trump is capable of changing his position.

“But he should change his mind and say, look, there really is a problem here, America is part of the problem, America is a big part of the solution, and we should go in and help the world stop a potential disaster,” Bloomberg said.

The United States is among the world’s top emitters of carbon dioxide.

But in late March, U.N. Secretary-General Antonio Guterres said that because of the actions of businesses and local authorities, the U.S. “might be able to meet the commitments made in Paris as a country.” 

Guterres appointed Bloomberg as his special envoy for climate action in March. Guterres tweeted Sunday thanking Bloomberg “for his generous support to the United Nations but also for his global leadership on climate action.”

Last year was the third warmest year on record. Scientists increasingly see evidence of climate change in heat waves, storms and other extreme weather.

From: MeNeedIt

World Bank Shareholders Back $13 billion Capital Increase

The World Bank’s shareholders on Saturday endorsed a $13 billion paid-in capital increase that will boost China’s shareholding but bring lending reforms that will raise borrowing costs for higher-middle-income countries, including China.

The multilateral lender said the plan would allow it to lift the group’s overall lending to nearly $80 billion in fiscal 2019 from about $59 billion last year and to an average of about $100 billion annually through 2030.

“We have more than doubled the capacity of the World Bank Group,” the institution’s president, Jim Yong Kim, told reporters during the International Monetary Fund and World Bank spring meetings in Washington. “It’s a huge vote of confidence, but the expectations are enormous.”

The hard-fought capital hike, initially resisted by the Trump administration, will add $7.5 billion paid-in capital for the World Bank’s main concessional lending arm, the International Bank for Reconstruction and Development.

Its commercial-terms lender, the International Finance Corp, will get $5.5 billion paid-in capital, and IBRD also will get a $52.6 billion increase in callable capital.

Lending rules

The bank agreed to change IBRD’s lending rules to charge higher rates for developing countries with higher incomes, to discourage them from excessive borrowing.

IBRD previously had charged similar rates for all borrowers, and U.S. Treasury officials had complained that it was lending too much to China and other bigger emerging markets.

U.S. Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin said earlier Saturday that he supported the capital hike because of the reforms that it included. The last World Bank capital increase came in 2010.

Cost controls

The current hike comes with cost controls and salary restrictions that will hold World Bank compensation to “a little below average” for the financial sector, Kim said.

He added that there was nothing specific in the agreement that targeted a China lending reduction, but he said lending to China was expected to gradually decline.

In 2015, China founded the Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank, and lends heavily to developing countries through its government export banks.

The agreement will lift China’s shareholding in IBRD to 6.01 percent from 4.68 percent, while the U.S. share would dip slightly to 16.77 percent from 16.89 percent. Washington will still keep its veto power over IBRD and IFC decisions.

Kim said the increase was expected to become fully effective by the time the World Bank’s new fiscal year starts July 1. Countries will have up to eight years to pay for the capital increase.

The U.S. contribution is subject to approval by Congress.

From: MeNeedIt

World Bank Shareholders Back $13 billion Capital Increase

The World Bank’s shareholders on Saturday endorsed a $13 billion paid-in capital increase that will boost China’s shareholding but bring lending reforms that will raise borrowing costs for higher-middle-income countries, including China.

The multilateral lender said the plan would allow it to lift the group’s overall lending to nearly $80 billion in fiscal 2019 from about $59 billion last year and to an average of about $100 billion annually through 2030.

“We have more than doubled the capacity of the World Bank Group,” the institution’s president, Jim Yong Kim, told reporters during the International Monetary Fund and World Bank spring meetings in Washington. “It’s a huge vote of confidence, but the expectations are enormous.”

The hard-fought capital hike, initially resisted by the Trump administration, will add $7.5 billion paid-in capital for the World Bank’s main concessional lending arm, the International Bank for Reconstruction and Development.

Its commercial-terms lender, the International Finance Corp, will get $5.5 billion paid-in capital, and IBRD also will get a $52.6 billion increase in callable capital.

Lending rules

The bank agreed to change IBRD’s lending rules to charge higher rates for developing countries with higher incomes, to discourage them from excessive borrowing.

IBRD previously had charged similar rates for all borrowers, and U.S. Treasury officials had complained that it was lending too much to China and other bigger emerging markets.

U.S. Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin said earlier Saturday that he supported the capital hike because of the reforms that it included. The last World Bank capital increase came in 2010.

Cost controls

The current hike comes with cost controls and salary restrictions that will hold World Bank compensation to “a little below average” for the financial sector, Kim said.

He added that there was nothing specific in the agreement that targeted a China lending reduction, but he said lending to China was expected to gradually decline.

In 2015, China founded the Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank, and lends heavily to developing countries through its government export banks.

The agreement will lift China’s shareholding in IBRD to 6.01 percent from 4.68 percent, while the U.S. share would dip slightly to 16.77 percent from 16.89 percent. Washington will still keep its veto power over IBRD and IFC decisions.

Kim said the increase was expected to become fully effective by the time the World Bank’s new fiscal year starts July 1. Countries will have up to eight years to pay for the capital increase.

The U.S. contribution is subject to approval by Congress.

From: MeNeedIt

EU, Mexico Reach New Free Trade Deal

The European Union and Mexico reached an agreement Saturday on a new free trade deal, a coup for both parties in the face of increased protectionism from the United States under President Donald Trump.

Since its plans for a trade alliance with the United States were frozen after Trump’s election victory, the EU has focused instead on trying to champion open markets and seal accords with other like-minded countries.

The agreement in principle with Mexico follows a deal struck last year with Japan and comes ahead of talks next week with the Mercosur bloc of Argentina, Brazil, Paraguay and Uruguay.

“With this agreement, Mexico joins Canada, Japan and Singapore in the growing list of partners willing to work with the EU in defending open, fair and rules-based trade,” said European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker.

For Mexico, a deal with the EU is part of a strategy to reduce its reliance on the United States, the destination of 80 percent of its exports. That has become more urgent, given Trump’s push to rewrite the North American Free Trade Agreement.

The EU and Mexico wanted to update a trade deal agreed to 21 years ago that largely covers industrial goods. The new deal adds farm products, more services, investment and government procurement, and include provisions on labor and environmental standards and fighting corruption.

The European Commission said that, under the deal struck Saturday, practically all trade in goods with Mexico will be duty-free, including for farm products such as Mexican chicken and asparagus and European dairy produce.

The deal will for example cut Mexican tariffs of up to 20 percent on cheeses such as gorgonzola and increase EU pork exports, the Commission said. 

It will also allow Mexican companies to bid for government contracts in Europe and EU companies for those in Mexico, including at the state level.

Mexican Economy Minister Ildefonso Guajardo said both sides had achieved a major update of their original accord.

“It needed to be more ambitious in the agricultural sector, it needed to be more ambitious in services, it needed to be more ambitious in many of the elements that in the end we managed to agree on after two years of work,” he said.

Guajardo said the deal would grant his country better access for products including orange juice, tuna, asparagus, honey, egg white albumin, as well as “equitable access” for meat products.

It is also set to recognize “geographical indications” for certain food and drink, a key EU demand.

Such indications protect agricultural produce, for example, dictating that the term “champagne” can only be used for sparkling wine from northern France.

It was not clear, however, how the divisive issue of “manchego” cheese had been settled. The EU says the term should only apply to sheep’s milk cheese from central Spain, but Mexico has its own “manchego” made from cow’s milk.

Negotiators from both sides will continue to work on technical details to produce a final text by the end of the year.

From: MeNeedIt