• The U.S. Is Outplaying Iran in a Regional Chess Match
    World
    National Review

    The U.S. Is Outplaying Iran in a Regional Chess Match

    In the first two weeks of May, U.S.–Iran tensions appeared to be careening toward war. In an escalating series of warnings, the U.S. asserted that an attack by Iran would be met with unrelenting force. Iran eventually responded with its usual bluster about being prepared for a full confrontation with Washington. But on the ground the Middle East looks more like a chessboard, with Iran and its allies and proxies facing off against American allies. This state of affairs was brought into sharp relief when Iranian-backed Houthi rebels launched a drone attack on Saudi Arabia and a rocket fell near the U.S. embassy in Baghdad.U.S. media have tended to focus on the role of national-security adviser John Bolton in crafting the administration’s policy — and whether America would actually go to war with Iran. Iranian media have also sought to decipher exactly what the Trump administration is up to. According to Iran’s Tasnim News, the powerful Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) commander Hossein Salami told a closed session of Parliament that the U.S. was involved in a “psychological war” with Iran, predicting the U.S. didn’t have enough forces to actually attack Iran yet.In the complex game of wits being played between the Trump administration and the Iranian regime, it appears that the U.S. temporarily checked Iran’s usual behavior. Iran prefers bluster in rhetoric with a careful strategy of extending its influence in Iraq, Syria, Lebanon, and Yemen, knowing that any real battle with U.S. forces will result in Iranian defeat. Tehran can’t risk massive retaliation against its allies or the regime at home for fear that it will lead to instability and the destruction of all it has carefully built up in the last years. Iran is suffering from the effects of recent nationwide floods and from shortages due to sanctions, so it can’t afford a total war, and its allies in Iraq and Lebanon are in sensitive positions of power. In the past, Iran benefited from its opaque system of alliances and its ability to threaten western powers and attack U.S. forces with proxies, even seizing U.S. sailors, without fear of reprisal. It learned in the past that the U.S. preferred diplomacy, but the current administration appears to have put Tehran on notice.The question is what can be learned from the escalating tensions. If Iran thinks Washington isn’t serious, or if it senses that domestic opposition to Washington’s saber-rattling is building, Iran may call America’s bluff. But if Iran thinks that Trump’s team really will retaliate, it will tread carefully in all the areas of the Middle East where U.S. allies and Iran’s proxies rub up against one another.To understand the chessboard, we must look at the Middle East the way Iran does. Since the 1980s, Iran’s Islamic revolution has been increasing its influence in the region. This brought Iran into vicious conflict with Iraq in the 1980s, and for a while Iran saw few major geopolitical successes. However, the weakening of the Lebanese state and the overthrow of Saddam Hussein in 2003 created opportunities for Iran to exploit local militia allies and gain power. It did this in Lebanon through Hezbollah, an armed terrorist organization that has seats in the Lebanese parliament. It also did this in Iraq through a plethora of militias, many of whose leaders had served alongside the IRGC in the 1980s. Today those Shiite militias are called the Popular Mobilization Forces and they are an official paramilitary force of the Iraqi government. They have threatened the U.S., and U.S. intelligence allegedly showed them positioning rockets near U.S. bases earlier this month.In Yemen, meanwhile, Iran has worked closely with the Houthi rebels, who are being fought by the Saudi Arabia-led coalition, which includes the United Arab Emirates and the government of Yemen. (That coalition is controversial; in April, Congress attempted to withdraw support for the Yemen war.) The Houthis have fired Iranian-designed ballistic missiles at Saudi Arabia and used Iranian-made drones. Iran is also active in Syria, not only in support of the Syrian regime’s war against the now mostly defeated rebels, but also using bases to threaten Israel.The U.S. sees Iran as inseparable from its cobweb of allied militia groups and proxies, many of which are supported by the IRGC. The U.S. designated the IRGC a terrorist organization in April and repeatedly has warned Iran that any attack by it or its proxies will be met with a response.Iran now wants to assure its own people that war isn’t likely through media stories about how the Trump administration isn’t serious. This is in contrast to the usual Tehran bluster and threats, even historic harassment of ships in the Persian Gulf and harassment of U.S. forces in Iraq. Iran’s sudden quiet could, of course, be the calm before the storm, but it is more likely a reflection of the regime’s sudden confusion about U.S. policy. This is a good thing for American interests. Iran needs to be kept guessing about U.S. intentions. It needs to tell its proxies to stop threatening U.S. forces in Iraq, as the Defense Department says they have done as recently as March. The U.S. gained the upper hand in its recent escalation against Iran by playing Iran’s game of bluster and support for allies on the ground. If Washington wants to continue to keep Iran in check, it needs to keep up the pressure.

  • Abducted Idaho girl found safe in Arizona, suspect jailed
    News
    Associated Press

    Abducted Idaho girl found safe in Arizona, suspect jailed

    SURPRISE, Ariz. (AP) — A 17-year-old girl abducted from an Idaho fast-food restaurant where she worked was found safe in Arizona on Tuesday and the man accused of taking her was jailed on a $1 million bond, authorities said.

  • Researchers say a tiny planet slammed into the Moon a long time ago
    Science
    BGR News

    Researchers say a tiny planet slammed into the Moon a long time ago

    Earth's Moon only ever shows us one face. It's locked into its current orientation, with a permanent nearside and farside, but it wasn't until the Apollo missions that scientists were able to see just how different the two sides really are. The nearside, with its sea of dark gray basins standing in contrast to the brilliant white powder that covers the rest of its face, varies dramatically from the farside, which is marked with countless smaller craters in a more uniform distribution.The debate over how the Moon's split personalities developed has raged for decades, but new research seems to indicate that one of the possible explanations does indeed hold water. The theory, that Earth's Moon was struck by a tiny dwarf planet long ago, is the subject of a new research paper published in Journal of Geophysical Research: Planets.Using computer models to simulate what may have happened to the Moon's surface long ago, researchers suggest the most likely scenario seems to be the collision between the Moon and a very large body. The impact of a dwarf planet as large as 480 miles across would have struck what we see today as the Moon's nearside at a speed of 14,000 miles per hour.This theory stands in contrast to other proposed explanations, including the theory that Earth may have once had not one Moon, but two. The two-moon theory suggests that Earth's moon duo may have at one point collided and merged, leaving the Moon as we see it today looking oddly unsymmetrical.The dwarf planet collision scenario assumes that whatever the body that struck the Moon was, it was in its own path around the Sun and just happened to be in the right place at the right time to strike Earth's natural satellite. This, the researchers say, would also explain why the crust on the farside of the Moon is different than that of its nearside."We demonstrate that a large body slowly impacting the nearside of the Moon can reproduce the observed crustal thickness asymmetry and form both the farside highlands and the nearside lowlands," the paper explains. "Additionally, the model shows that the resulting impact ejecta would cover the primordial anorthositic crust to form a two‐layer crust on the farside, as observed."

  • Dog sitter caught walking around naked in customer's home
    U.S.
    Yahoo News Video

    Dog sitter caught walking around naked in customer's home

    A dog sitter has been caught on camera walking around her client’s house naked. Rosie Brown hired Casey Brengle to look after her two dogs, Penny and Daisy, while she went to a wedding for four days.

  • Trump, House Democrats square off in U.S. court over Deutsche Bank documents
    Politics
    Reuters

    Trump, House Democrats square off in U.S. court over Deutsche Bank documents

    Lawyers for U.S. President Donald Trump, three of his children and the Trump Organization will demand in court on Wednesday that a judge stop Deutsche Bank AG and Capital One Financial Corp from providing financial records to Democratic lawmakers investigating Trump's businesses. Republican Trump, who is seeking re-election next year, has aggressively sought to defy congressional oversight of his administration since Democrats took control of the U.S. House of Representatives in January. Trump said last month that the administration was "fighting all the subpoenas" issued by the House, hardening his position after the release of a redacted report from Special Counsel Robert Mueller on how Russia interfered in the 2016 U.S. election to help Trump and the president's attempts to impede the investigation.

  • China's Navy Is Growing So Fast Its Running Out of Names For Its Warships
    World
    The National Interest

    China's Navy Is Growing So Fast Its Running Out of Names For Its Warships

    China’s navy has a new problem: not enough names for its rapidly growing fleet of warships.“China is running out of provincial capitals to name new destroyers, and it might have to turn to other big domestic cities, which reflects the country's rapid naval development in recent years,” according to Chinese newspaper Global Times.The People’s Liberation Army Navy recently named its first Type 055 destroyer the Nanchang, which is the capital city of East China's Jiangxi Province.One of the three other Type 055 destroyers will be named Lhasa, the capital of Southwest China's Tibet Autonomous Region, according to Chinese media. That just leaves Nanning and Taipei as the names of provincial capitals for destroyers (Taipei is Taiwan’s capital, though Taiwan has not yet declared independence as a separate nation from China).Which means non-capital cities will have to bequeath their names to Chinese destroyers. The latest destroyer is named Qiqihar, which is a non-capital city in in Northeast China's Heilongjiang Province. A few ships have been named after major cities, such as the Shenzen, a Type 051 destroyer.“Chinese destroyers and frigates should be named after big and medium Chinese cities, according to the naval vessels naming regulation,” Global Times said. “This means naming of destroyers does not necessarily have to use provincial capitals, as it was a non-binding tradition.”

  • InterDigital expects to be able to license 5G tech to Huawei, despite U.S. ban
    Business
    Reuters

    InterDigital expects to be able to license 5G tech to Huawei, despite U.S. ban

    InterDigital and Qualcomm are the two major American holders of patents for wireless networking technology, including the 5G networks rolling out this year in China. Last week, President Donald Trump issued an executive order restricting the ability of U.S. firms to sell technology to Huawei, though officials on Monday eased some of those restrictions for 90 days. InterDigital, which generates revenue by developing wireless technologies and then licensing out the patents, said it believes it can continue its efforts to strike a 5G deal with Huawei because export control laws do not cover patents, which are public records and therefore not confidential technology.

  • Louisiana senate passes anti-abortion bill in latest attack on women's rights
    News
    The Guardian

    Louisiana senate passes anti-abortion bill in latest attack on women's rights

    Amendment, which would change state constitution to say Louisianans have no right to abortions, set to go before votersPro-choice campaigners in Texas on Tuesday. Critics called the bill’s passage ‘shameful’ and noted it did not make exceptions for victims of race or incest. Photograph: Eric Gay/APThe Louisiana senate approved a state constitutional amendment on Tuesday declaring that citizens have no constitutional right to abortions. The move is the latest salvo in a broader assault against reproductive rights in the state, and it comes on the heels of extreme legislation in Georgia, Missouri and Alabama all aimed at near-total bans of the procedure.The measure now heads back to the house, which has already passed a version, for final approval. The amendment still, however, needs to be ratified by Louisiana voters in a referendum this fall.Critics called the senate’s move “shameful”, noting that it did not make exceptions for victims of rape or incest.“Constitutions are meant to protect rights, not deny them. But that’s exactly what the state senate did today when it passed an amendment that will directly hurt some of our most vulnerable citizens: poor women,” said Michelle Erenberg, the executive director of Lift Louisiana, an advocacy group that defends women’s access to healthcare.While the legislation is similar to extreme anti-choice bills that have popped up in statehouses throughout the US in recent months, the party politics present a wrinkle fairly unique to Louisiana. The bill, like several others currently up for consideration, was introduced by a Democrat – the state representative Katrina Jackson. “I’m pro-woman and I’m pro-life because abortions hurt more women than anything else,” she said in front of the state capitol before the proposal passed.That’s also true of a “fetal heartbeat” bill, in the model of those passed in Georgia and Missouri, which was introduced by the Democratic senator John Milkovich. The bill would ban abortions after cardiac activity is detected in the fetus, which is about six weeks into a pregnancy – before many women are even aware they are pregnant. Milkovich’s bill has already passed in the senate and is likely to receive a vote in the House early next week. Governor John Bel Edwards, a self-described “pro-life” Democrat, has said he intends to sign it when it reaches his desk.That both bills originate with Democrats is hard to square with national party politics. In 2016, the party approved a platform plank stating: “Every woman should have access to quality reproductive health care services, including safe and legal abortion.”But that’s not the common wisdom in Louisiana, according to Bel Edwards, who addressed the dissonance on his monthly radio show earlier this month. “I know that for many in the national party, on the national scene, that’s not a good fit. But I will tell you, here in Louisiana, I speak and meet with Democrats who are pro-life every single day,” Edwards said.Statewide polling suggests a majority of Louisiana residents oppose abortion in “all or most cases”, but only a quarter say the procedure should never be permitted.Elisabeth Smith, an attorney with the Center for Reproductive Rights, said that, in part because of the cross-party unity on anti-abortion measures, Louisiana is already one of the most restrictive states on abortion. “There are lots of abortion restrictions that are passing in other states that Louisiana has already legislated. In some ways, there are not many more places where the state can go,” Smith said.This includes a 2006 “trigger law” that would make abortion illegal in the state if Roe v Wade were overturned; five other states have passed similar laws. Jackson’s constitutional amendment is, in a sense, an effort to one-up that measure and provide an additional layer of protection from future legal challenges.“By enshrining this in the constitution, it makes it just that much more difficult for a future legislature to change the law,” said Ellie Schilling, an attorney who has represented all three of Louisiana’s remaining abortion providers in various legal challenges.Like the trigger law, Tuesday’s constitutional amendment would require the overturning of Roe v Wade to have any real impact in Louisiana. The state’s fetal “heartbeat” bill, too, conflicts with the landmark 1973 supreme court ruling, and would be immediately subject to extensive legal challenges if and when it passed. For that reason, lawmakers tethered the bill to similar legislation that passed in neighboring state of Mississippi in March. With this strategy, Louisiana can save the cost of fighting off a challenge – estimated to cost upwards of $1m in Mississippi – and simply piggyback off the ruling there.That law went before the US district judge Carlton Reeves on Tuesday, but even if he strikes the law down, the state of Mississippi will appeal to the very conservative fifth circuit court of appeals, which Erenberg said is “not one that has been willing to really scrutinize abortion restrictions” in recent memory.Ultimately, the case, or one like it from another state, is probably bound for the supreme court. At least that’s largely what the architects of these plainly unconstitutional bills are hoping for with a firm five-to-four conservative majority now in place on the court. In the meantime, anti-choice lawmakers in Louisiana are still chipping away at reproductive rights through more immediate means, pushing a number of restrictive laws intended to make abortion services more difficult to provide and receive. This includes bills: * requiring medication abortions (those induced by taking a pill, rather than a surgical procedure) to be completed only at abortion clinics * requiring clinics to keep seven years of medical records (and 10 years for minors) * requiring anyone working at an abortion clinic who has contact with patients (including receptionists) to be a mandatory reporter of human trafficking * requiring providers to tell patients, in writing, their physicians’ names, where they completed their residencies, whether they have malpractice insurance, and whether they have been placed on probation in the last decade.“It’s all just aimed at the strategy of just making it more and more onerous and difficult for abortion providers to provide abortion,” Erenberg said.She added that even before any of these laws fully take effect, they have a profound impact on women’s access because of the misunderstandings they can create.The average Louisianan not keeping tabs on the finer points of the legislative process might see the governor signing a bill like the one passed today and reasonably believe that abortions are now illegal.“There is absolutely a chilling impact on women’s basic understanding about whether or not they still have these rights and still have the ability to access these services,” Erenberg said.

  • Huawei to the Danger Zone: Chinese Telecommunications Company Threatens Britain's National Security
    Business
    The National Interest

    Huawei to the Danger Zone: Chinese Telecommunications Company Threatens Britain's National Security

    The news that the United States has put Huawei on the Entities List comes as the Henry Jackson Society publishes a report on the prospect of including Huawei into the United Kingdom’s build of 5G. I coauthored this report alongside Member of Parliament Bob Seely and Professor Peter Varnish. My job was to look into claims around Huawei’s place within China’s foreign-policy strategy. We have all seen claims around it being too close to the PLA or China’s security services, but were they actually true? Were these claims just an overly-protectionist America seeking to discredit a successful Chinese tech competitor to Apple and Silicon Valley? This whole discussion took place in the wake of a UK National Security Council meeting in late April, during which time—if the Telegraph newspaper is to believed—the council decided that Huawei could take part in a limited part of the UK’s 5G network.Our findings were absolutely clear: Huawei was constrained, influenced and directed by the Chinese Communist Party and Chinese state in a multiplicity of ways.Economic Direction

  • US intelligence chiefs shared classified info with tech execs about doing business with China
    Business
    BGR News

    US intelligence chiefs shared classified info with tech execs about doing business with China

    The trade war with China has reached new heights in the past few weeks, as the Trump administration recently announced that US companies will be banned from buying equipment from certain Chinese companies. Huawei's name wasn't explicitly mentioned, but it was obviously implied that China's biggest tech company is included on the list. Separately, the US government also issued a ban that prevents Huawei from dealing with US tech companies, whether it's for parts procurement or software licenses. The first effects of that decision are already here, as Google has already said it will comply with the ban, effectively revoking Huawei's access to the version of Android that everybody wants. Several chipmakers, including Intel and Qualcomm, have also reportedly cut ties with Huawei for the time being.On top of that, a report reveals that top officials from the US intelligence community have been meeting with tech execs, universities, and trade organizations to brief them about the security perils related to doing business with China.The briefings began last October and have been held in California and Washington, The Financial Times reports (via The Verge), with US intelligence informing those in attendance about the cyber threats and the theft of intellectual property risks that come with dealing with China.Among those giving the briefings was Dan Coats, the director of national intelligence, the report notes. The meetings reportedly included the sharing of classified information, which is an unusual element for such meetings. It's unclear what kind of information was shared with tech execs during these meetings, and what companies attended them.Republican Senator Marco Rubio, one of the politicians who organized the meetings, confirmed their existence. "The Chinese government and Communist party pose the greatest long-term threat to US economic and national security," Rubio said. "It's important that US companies, universities, and trade organizations understand fully that threat."

  • Fears rise China could weaponise rare earths in US tech war
    World
    AFP

    Fears rise China could weaponise rare earths in US tech war

    The US has hit China where it hurts by going after its telecom champion Huawei, but Beijing's control of the global supply of rare earths used in smartphones and electric cars gives it a powerful weapon in their escalating tech war. A seemingly routine visit by President Xi Jinping to a Chinese rare earths company this week is being widely read as an obvious threat that Beijing is standing ready for action. Xi's inspection tour "is no accident, this didn't happen by chance," said Li Mingjiang, China programme coordinator at the S. Rajaratnam School of International Studies (RSIS) in Singapore.

  • Is It Cheaper To Buy A 1967 Ford Mustang Fastback From Britain?
    Lifestyle
    motorious

    Is It Cheaper To Buy A 1967 Ford Mustang Fastback From Britain?

    This immaculate 1967 Ford Mustang Fastback is estimated to sell at British auction for $95K. It’s hard not to whisper Steve McQueen’s name when presented with a Ford Mustang 390 GT Fastback, even if it isn't a 1968 model. The American classifieds may provide evidence of eye-watering sums being traded for healthy Fastback specimens, but it’s not always the case in Great Britain.

  • News
    Associated Press

    The Latest: Capital murder charge filed in police shooting

    AUBURN, Ala. (AP) — The Latest on shootings of police officers in Auburn, Alabama (all times local):

  • Farage's Brexit Party to Trounce May, Sporting Index Says
    World
    Bloomberg

    Farage's Brexit Party to Trounce May, Sporting Index Says

    Prime Minister Theresa May’s Conservatives will win seven, while Labour will take 13 and the Liberal Democrats 12, Sporting Index predicted in an email in London on Tuesday. Sporting Index has had a consistently strong record in predicting some of the key twists and turns of the Brexit saga. Last month, about two hours before the latest vote on May’s Brexit deal, the spread betting firm forecast she’d lose by 60 votes.

  • India's Modi shows confidence as opposition dismisses ominous exit polls
    World
    Reuters

    India's Modi shows confidence as opposition dismisses ominous exit polls

    Exit polls have predicted a clear win for Modi in the election that ended on Sunday, but such polls in India have proved misleading before, and counting of votes cast in the seven-phase contest will take place on Thursday. The ruling coalition, led by Modi's Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), is projected to win between 339 and 365 seats in the 545-member lower house of parliament with a Congress-led opposition alliance getting only 77 to 108, an exit poll from India Today Axis showed. Flanked by BJP president Amit Shah, Modi met cabinet ministers, party colleagues and dozens of the leaders from regional blocs that are part of the alliance.

  • Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez says she'd be 'hard pressed' to back Biden in primary
    Politics
    The Guardian

    Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez says she'd be 'hard pressed' to back Biden in primary

    Bernie Sanders appears to be the favorite to secure Ocasio-Cortez’s prized endorsement in the Democratic presidential primaryCongresswoman Alexandria Ocasio Cortez told the Guardian: ‘I’m not close to an endorsement announcement any time soon.’ Photograph: Joshua Roberts/ReutersAlexandria Ocasio-Cortez, the progressive US congresswoman and social media sensation, has said she would be “hard pressed” to endorse the frontrunner, Joe Biden, in the Democratic presidential primary.The statement is the latest sign of the left’s apathy towards the former vice-president, who has surged ahead of the Senator Bernie Sanders and other rivals in recent polls.Sanders, a self-declared democratic socialist, appears to be the favourite to secure 29-year-old Ocasio-Cortez’s prized endorsement but she said she was still some way off making a decision.“I’m not close to an endorsement announcement any time soon,” she told the Guardian on Tuesday. “I’m still trying to get a handle on my job. It seems like ages but I’m just five months in and we have quite some time. The debates are in the summer and our first primary election for the entire country isn’t until next year.” Asked if she would consider endorsing Biden, widely seen as a centrist, Ocasio-Cortez replied: “I’d be hard pressed to see that happen, to be honest, in a primary.”Biden, comfortably leading every opinion poll, came under fire last week when Reuters reported he was pursuing a “middle ground” approach to the climate crisis. He later distanced himself from the implication.Ocasio-Cortez criticised politicians seeking “a middle-of-the-road approach to save our lives”. Sanders, running second in most polls, tweeted that there was “no ‘middle ground’ when it comes to climate policy”.If and when Ocasio-Cortez does endorse a candidate, Sanders probably remains the favourite to secure her support. She was an organiser for his 2016 primary campaign against Hillary Clinton. The pair appeared at a rally in Washington last week to support the Green New Deal climate plan.In a short interview on Tuesday the congresswoman, who has more than 4 million Twitter followers, also reiterated her demand for Donald Trump’s impeachment. “I think that the grounds have been there for quite some time but the case is really getting to a larger point that we haven’t seen before,” she said.Democratic leaders are putting the House speaker, Nancy Pelosi, under pressure to move ahead with the process. Ocasio-Cortez added: “I know that the conversation is really changing this week in the caucus and so we’ll see where the speaker lands.”

  • Could One of America's Allies Take Down the F-35 Program?
    Business
    The National Interest

    Could One of America's Allies Take Down the F-35 Program?

    What does America need to save its troubled F-35 stealth fighter?Turkey, that’s what.Turkish President Tayyip Erdogan recently warned that the multinational F-35 program, of which Turkey is a member, would fail if Turkey were excluded. Turkey is facing sanctions, including being dropped from the F-35 program if it goes ahead with purchasing Russia’s S-400 anti-aircraft missile system, which has raised Washington’s fears that F-35 secrets might be leaked to Russia. The U.S. has stopped shipping equipment to Turkey for that nation’s planned purchase of 100 F-35s, while the first two aircraft officially delivered to Turkey are still in the United States.For its part, Ankara is adamant that it has a right to purchase both American stealth fighters and Russian anti-aircraft missiles, despite the fact that the S-400 is one of the most likely Russian weapons to be used against the F-35. “We were surely not going to remain silent against our right to self-defense being disregarded and attempts to hit us where it hurts,” Erdogan said at a Turkish defense trade show. “This is the kind of process that is behind the S-400 agreement we reached with Russia.”“Nowadays, we are being subject to a similar injustice - or rather an imposition - on the F-35s ... Let me be frank: An F-35 project from which Turkey is excluded is bound to collapse completely.”

  • Here's why pummeling tornadoes are coming for the Southern Plains
    News
    Mashable

    Here's why pummeling tornadoes are coming for the Southern Plains

    It's an ominous Monday in the southern Great Plains. Entire school districts are closed as storm scientists expect "high risk" weather and severe thunderstroms, with conditions ripe for powerful tornadoes throughout much of the Texas Panhandle and Oklahoma. A confluence of robust elements have combined forces to produce an exceptionally dangerous day."It's an environment that we don't see very often," said Bill Bunting, operations chief for the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) Storm Prediction Center. "Maybe once or twice in the career of a forecaster." Here is a zoomed in image of our High Risk for 20 May 2019 for use in social media. pic.twitter.com/TZd9Fr3atW -- NWS SPC (@NWSSPC) May 20, 2019Bunting is stationed in Norman, Oklahoma, the dead center of a region that is likely to experience the formations of a dangerous type of thunderstorm with rotating updrafts, called a supercell. These storms can produce tornadoes. "One of our forecasters said last night that it's the first time he lost sleep thinking of the day ahead," said Bunting. The (unfortunately) right conditions It's severe weather season in the Great Plains, but environmental conditions have really ramped up, much more than usual. "What's unique about today is the expected magnitude [of storms]," noted Bunting. There's a profound amount of instability in the atmosphere, from the ground to around a mile up in the sky, explained Brian Tang, an atmospheric scientist at the University at Albany. This is driven by strong winds blowing from different directions at different heights, notably a parade of potent storms blowing in from the Rockies after deluging Northern California with rare, late-season rain. These storms have now met powerful winds blowing in from the southeast. Dawn breaks on the Southern Plains and GOES gives us a look at the wind shear part of the severe weather forecast. Low clouds streaming up from the SE are being overtaken by mid-to-high clouds coming from the SW. This turning of the winds helps storms that form start to rotate. pic.twitter.com/qW0NYbR7A0 -- National Weather Service (@NWS) May 20, 2019But this wind-driven atmospheric chaos (technically called "wind shear") is not acting alone. There's an unusual amount humidity in the air. Thunderstorms feed off this moisture, growing more powerful. "There's a ton of energy that can be harnessed that can generate these really intense thunderstorms," said Tang.And once there are intense supercell thunderstorms circulating through an area, there's greater potential for these storm systems to start spinning, thereby spawning violent tornadoes. "There are going to be several thunderstorms that do reach an intensity that become tornadoes," said Bunting.  SEE ALSO: Fearless TV weather forecasters air the planet's soaring carbon levels"It's like having an All-Star baseball team. It's like having a bunch of sluggers," said Tang. "The chances of hitting a home run are that much higher." "This is not your normal severe weather day in Oklahoma," the National Weather Service (NWS) office in Norman, Oklahoma said Monday morning.  Exactly what causes a particular supercell thunderstorm to form a tornado, however, is still an area of deep and ongoing investigation. Midday SPC update added a 45 percent tornado risk for a big chunk of western and central OK. A particularly dangerous situation tornado watch coming for that area. https://t.co/RO92Y2cfmG pic.twitter.com/N2h0Ipq9is -- U.S. Tornadoes (@USTornadoes) May 20, 2019NOAA's Bunting noted that Monday's weather outbreak comes on the exact anniversary of an EF-5 tornado (the most severe tornado rating) that killed 24 Oklahomans in 2013 while causing billions in damage. Today's violent thunderstorms won't just bring the likelihood of wide tornadoes in heavily-populated areas, but the risk of deadly floods. These storms dump deluges of water. "More people traditionally die from floods than tornadoes," the Norman NWS said Monday.Meteorologists and storm scientists have prepared for the worst. "It's really created a palpable sense of anxiety and just wanting to get done with today," said Bunting."There's definitely certain days when there's a sense of dread," added Tang, noting that the meteorological community reacted similarly to the approaching Hurricane Michael in October 2018. Michael hit the Florida Panhandle as a Category 5 storm, which is the highest hurricane rating. "Today has that same feel," said Tang. WATCH: Ever wonder how the universe might end?

  • Abortion rights supporters' voices thunder at #StopTheBans rallies across the nation
    Politics
    USA TODAY

    Abortion rights supporters' voices thunder at #StopTheBans rallies across the nation

    Hundreds of #StopTheBans rallies took place across the nation as supporters vented frustrations at actions by states to restrict access to abortions.

  • Eiffel Tower climber 'admitted to psychiatric unit'
    World
    AFP

    Eiffel Tower climber 'admitted to psychiatric unit'

    A man, believed to be Russian, who sparked a mass evacuation of the Eiffel Tower by scaling the iconic Paris landmark has been admitted to a psychiatric unit, legal sources said Tuesday. The man caused chaos Monday and the closure of the monument to tourists by spending six hours clinging to the outer metal framework of the Eiffel Tower. An investigation has been opened for unauthorised entry into a cultural monument, a judicial source said.

  • Boeing dismissed chance of 'bird strike' that may have caused second 737 Max crash
    Business
    The Guardian

    Boeing dismissed chance of 'bird strike' that may have caused second 737 Max crash

    * US investigators believe bird collision may have triggered crash * Ethiopian Airlines crash occurred months after Lion Air disasterTwo local boys examine debris gathered by workers during the continuing recovery efforts at the crash site in Bishoftu, Ethiopia, in March. Photograph: Jemal Countess/Getty ImagesBoeing officials, shortly after the first fatal crash of its 737 Max jet, played down the likelihood that a bird strike could impair the plane’s sensor equipment. Now investigators are exploring whether such a situation led to a second deadly accident just five months later.According to the Wall Street Journal, US aviation authorities believe a bird collision may have set off the sequence of events that led to the downing of an Ethiopian Airlines 737 Max in March, in which 157 people died.American Airlines pilots called a meeting with Boeing last November after a Lion Air Max crashed in Indonesia, killing all 189 passengers and crew.The Journal reviewed a recording of the meeting in which Mike Sinnett, Boeing’s vice-president of product strategy, raised and dismissed the possibility that a bird strike could trigger a second crash by affecting the Max’s controversial sensor system.Sinnett told the pilots he was “absolutely” confident that heightened pilot awareness following the Lion Air disaster had further reduced the chances of another accident.Ethiopian Airlines has been facing criticism of its pilots’ conduct in the wake of the crash. At a House hearing into the accidents last week, the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) administrator, Daniel Elwell, said pilot error contributed to the crash.In both crashes, the Max’s anti-stall system, called the Maneuvering Characteristics Augmentation System (Mcas), appears to have forced the planes’ noses down shortly after takeoff, leaving the pilots struggling unsuccessfully to right the jets before they crashed.The Mcas system may have been reacting to faulty information from sensors that could have been damaged by a bird strike.Ethiopian Airlines has rejected accusations that its pilots contributed to the crash. Officials have said Boeing failed to provide cockpit alerts that would have warned the pilots about sensor errors.Last week, the airline said its pilots followed procedures set out by the FAA and Boeing but “none of the expected warnings appeared in the cockpit, which deprived the pilots of necessary and timely information”.Nine countries and the US justice department are currently investigating the crashes.