NASA's asteroid-collecting spacecraft will slingshot around Earth today
OSIRIS-REx (a.k.a. Origins, Spectral Interpretation, Resource Identification, and Security - Regolith Explorer) is stopping by to pick up an extra boost from Earth’s gravity. That will help get it on track to visit the asteroid Bennu, which it will approach in August 2018.
But don’t worry: even though we don’t get to go with OSIRIS-REx on its journey, the spacecraft hasn’t forgotten about us. It will send back pictures and notes along the way. And in the end, it’s even going to bring us back a souvenir! The next time that OSIRIS-REx gets this close to Earth it will be on a course to fall into the harsh (but loving) embrace of the Utah desert, carrying with it a sample air-blasted off Bennu’s surface.
NASA has ground-based telescopes on alert to watch for the spacecraft as it passes by on Friday. But anyone with a telescope and a good view can try to spot the spacecraft for themselves—and share any images captured with NASA.
(Photo: Tom Tingle/The Republic)
Sen. John McCain will vote against Graham-Cassidy health-care bill
For the second time in two months, Sen. John McCain is giving the thumbs down to his fellow Republicans' efforts to roll back the Affordable Care Act.
“I cannot in good conscience vote for the Graham-Cassidy proposal," McCain, R-Ariz., announced Friday in a written statement. "I believe we could do better working together, Republicans and Democrats, and have not yet really tried. Nor could I support it without knowing how much it will cost, how it will effect insurance premiums, and how many people will be helped or hurt by it.
"Without a full CBO (Congressional Budget Office) score, which won’t be available by the end of the month, we won’t have reliable answers to any of those questions."
McCain added that he took "no pleasure in announcing my opposition," particularly because one of the bill's authors, Sen. Lindsey Graham of South Carolina, is one of his best friends.
"I know they are acting consistently with their beliefs and sense of what is best for the country. So am I," McCain said.
German Elections Sunday
Federal elections will be held in Germany on September 24. Here is everything you need to know about them.
Angela Merkel is almost certain to remain chancellor. The question is, who will join her Christian Democrats in a coalition?
The liberal Free Democrats are expected to reenter parliament and would be the Christian Democrats’ first choice. Their economic and fiscal policies overlap. Such a coalition would make Germany a little more Euroskeptic.
The Social Democrats are polling in second place, but the combined left is unlikely to win a majority.
The far-right Alternative for Germany is projected to win seats for the first time, but it is ignored by the other parties.
The German electoral system
Germans cast two votes: one for a candidate and one for a party.
The country is divided up into 299 electoral districts. Whoever wins the most votes in a given district wins a seat in the Bundestag. The rest of the seats are filled up reflecting the party preferences of the overall electorate.
At a minimum, the Bundestag has 598 members. This can be increased to achieve the right proportions.
No single party has ever won a majority, but usually two parties are enough to form a coalition government. An election threshold of 5 percent discourages radicalization.
Turnout has fallen from 90+ percent in the 1970s to around 70 percent in the last few elections. Turnout is often lower in the provinces that used to comprise communist East Germany.
The German upper chamber, the Bundesrat, is technically not an upper chamber but acts similar to one. Its members are not elected but appointed by Germany’s sixteen state governments. As a result, fringe parties have even less chance of winning seats there.
Poland, NATO troops hold drills amid security concerns
Thousands of Polish and other NATO troops have launched major defensive exercises in Poland's north amid security concerns raised by war games recently held by neighboring Russia and Belarus.
The Dragon-17 exercise involves some 17,000 land, air force and navy troops and some 3,500 units of equipment and runs through Sept. 29. For the first time the biannual drill is being joined by Poland's new Territorial Defense Forces, which train civilian volunteers to support regular troops. Cybersecurity is also being tested.
On Thursday, Deputy Defense Minister Michal Dworczyk visited the Drawsko Pomorskie test range in northwest Poland, the main site of land drills for Poland's biggest military exercise this year.
He said the drills were of defensive nature and contrasted them with the just-ended Zapad (West) 2017 maneuvers. Dworczyk said the joint Russian-Belarusian war games had a "very clear offensive trait."
He earlier said the NATO drills now underway test defensive operation between Polish troops and those deployed in Poland by NATO and by the U.S. in response to the region's concerns over Russia's military activity.
Two Classic Pokemon Games Are Now Available On The 3DS Eshop
Nintendo and the Pokemon Group have re-released two classic Pokemon games from the yesteryear of previous generations, for gamers rocking a Nintendo 3DS. You can pick up the two new versions of Pokemon Gold and Pokemon Silver right now from over on the Nintendo eShop, where the games are available as a digital download.
According to a press release rolled out by Nintendo, you can grab Pokemon Gold and Pokemon Silver right now from over on the Nintendo eShop for only $9.99 each. The re-release of the classic games are based on the original games that came out way back in 1999... yes the two titles are almost approaching the 20 year mark. They were some of the last of the Pokemon games that were released for the Game Boy Color before Nintendo began focusing on the Game Boy Advanced.
Japan: September 22nd 2017 - September 28th 2018
Europe: September 22nd 2017 - September 21st 2018
North America: September 22nd 2017 - September 21st 2018
If you pre-purchase or purchase the Pokémon Gold & Silver Virtual Console games, you will receive a Serial Code that can be redeemed in all 4 Generation 7 games to access the Mythical Pokémon Celebi