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Moon blots the sun out of the sky in historic US eclipse

August 21, 2017 rbksa 0
Wed, 2017-08-23 00:13

WASHINGTON: Americans gazed in wonder through telescopes, cameras and disposable protective glasses Monday as the moon blotted out the sun in the first full-blown solar eclipse to sweep the US from coast to coast in nearly a century.
The temperature dropped and birds quieted down as the line of darkness raced across the continent.
It promised to be the most observed and photographed eclipse in history, with millions staking out prime viewing spots and settling into lawn chairs to watch, especially along the path of totality — the line of shadow created when the sun is completely obscured.
The shadow — a corridor just 60 to 70 miles (96 to 113 km) wide — came ashore in Oregon and then began traveling diagonally across the country to South Carolina, with darkness lasting only around two to three minutes in any one spot.
“The show has just begun, people! What a gorgeous day! Isn’t this great, people?” Jim Todd, a director at the Oregon Museum of Science and Industry, told a crowd of thousands at an amphitheater in Salem, Oregon, as the moon seemed to take an ever-bigger bite out of the sun and temperature soon dropped noticeably.
A solar eclipse is considered one of the grandest of cosmic spectacles. NASA solar physicist Alex Young said the last time earthlings had a connection like this to the heavens was during man’s first flight to the moon, on Apollo 8 in 1968. The first, famous Earthrise photo came from that mission and, like this eclipse, showed us “we are part of something bigger.”
Hoping to learn more about the sun’s composition and activity, NASA and other scientists watched and analyzed from telescopes on the ground and in orbit, the International Space Station, airplanes and scores of high-altitude balloons beaming back live video.
Citizen scientists also planned to monitor animal and plant behavior as daylight turned into twilight and the temperature dropped. Thousands of people streamed into the Nashville Zoo just to watch the animals’ reaction.
The Earth, moon and sun line up perfectly everyone to three years, briefly turning day into night for a sliver of the planet. But these sights normally are in no man’s land, like the vast Pacific or Earth’s poles. This is the first eclipse of the social media era to pass through such a heavily populated area.
The moon has not thrown this much shade at the US since 1918, during the country’s last coast-to-coast total eclipse. In fact, the US mainland has not seen a total solar eclipse since 1979 — and even then, only five states in the Northwest experienced total darkness.
The next total solar eclipse in the US will be in 2024. The next coast-to-coast one will not be until 2045.

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Millions in US get set for rare total solar eclipse
Trump watches eclipse from White House

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Trump to announce findings of Afghan policy review

August 21, 2017 rbksa 0
Tue, 2017-08-22 03:02

WASHINGTON: US President Donald Trump is scheduled to deliver televised remarks Monday night in which he will inform the American public about the findings of a US policy review related to Afghanistan.

Several US media outlets are reporting that he will announce the addition of 4,000 military personnel to Afghanistan, which is routinely referred to as America’s “longest war.”

It is as yet unclear whether this addition constitutes a significant departure from the policies of the previous two administrations.

The US led an international military campaign that toppled the Taliban government following the 9/11 terrorist attacks.

While the Trump administration has repeatedly said defeating Daesh is its top foreign policy priority, Afghanistan continues to be beset by political divisions, economic challenges and terrorist attacks that have targeted government institutions and US military forces.

Dr. Daniel Green, defense fellow at the Washington Institute for Near East Policy, told Arab News that the majority of the US forces that will reportedly be sent will likely play a supporting “logistical” role to Afghan security forces

Green, a veteran of the US military and the State Department, said he anticipates that Trump might enunciate a new approach to relations with Pakistan, whose “safe havens” have been a major cause of why the war effort in Afghanistan has lasted as long as it has.

He welcomed the administration’s review, saying Trump is “asking all the right questions.”

Thomas Johnson, a scholar on Afghanistan and professor at the Naval Postgraduate School in Monterrey, California, expressed deep skepticism about the impact 4,000 additional US military personnel would have in stabilizing the country.

He cited a host of political, economic and social challenges, many related to a lack of institutional capacity in Afghanistan.

Johnson noted a high rate of “desertions” among Afghan troops, and said the country is in dire “need of a political settlement.”

Trump’s remarks are likely to receive extensive attention in the US and abroad, coming in the aftermath of his controversial remarks related to violent protests that erupted in Charlottesville, Virginia, last week. The remarks Monday night will be his first that focus on a specific foreign policy matter.

When asked by Arab News if ending the conflict in Afghanistan is central to the Trump administration’s goal of defeating Daesh, Michael O’Hanlon, senior fellow at the Brookings Institution in Washington said: “Yes this is an important eastern flank in the main fight against Al-Qaeda and ISIS(Daesh).” Thus, it is important that we don’t lose it, he said.

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Trump watches eclipse from White House

August 21, 2017 rbksa 0
Wed, 2017-08-23 02:28

WASHINGTON: US President Donald Trump squinted and pointed skyward before donning protective glasses to take in the solar eclipse at the White House.
The president was joined by wife Melania, son Barron and top aides Monday afternoon to view the spectacle from the portico overlooking the South Lawn. The White House originally said Trump would watch from the second-floor Truman balcony.
Shortly after walking outside, the president looked up at the sky, squinted and pointed upward.
“Don’t look,” one staffer yelled from the White House lawn.
Trump then donned the protective eyewear. Asked about the view, Trump gave a thumbs up.

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