[NASA, Yvette Smith] Take a deep breath. Even if the air looks clear, it is nearly certain that you will inhale millions of solid particles and liquid droplets. These ubiquitous specks of matter are known as aerosols, and they can be found in the air over oceans, deserts, mountains, forests, ice and every ecosystem in between.
If you have ever watched smoke billowing from a wildfire, ash erupting from a volcano or dust blowing in the wind, you have seen aerosols. Satellites like NASA’s Earth-observing satellites, Terra, Aqua, Aura and Suomi NPP, â€œseeâ€ them as well, though they offer a completely different perspective from hundreds of kilometers above Earthâ€™s surface. A version of a NASA model called the Goddard Earth Observing System Forward Processing (GEOS FP) offers a similarly expansive view of the mishmash of particles that dance and swirl through the atmosphere.
The visualization above highlights GEOS FP model output for aerosols on August 23, 2018. On that day, huge plumes of smoke drifted over North America and Africa, three different tropical cyclones churned in the Pacific Ocean, and large clouds of dust blew over deserts in Africa and Asia. The storms are visible within giant swirls of sea salt aerosol (blue), which winds loft into the air as part of sea spray. Black carbon particles (red) are among the particles emitted by fires; vehicle and factory emissions are another common source. Particles the model classified as dust are shown in purple. The visualization includes a layer of night light data collected by the day-night band of the Visible Infrared Imaging Radiometer Suite (VIIRS) on Suomi NPP that shows the locations of towns and cities.
MOSCOWYulia Galyaminas unraveling life illustrates all too well the risks of opposition politics in Russia, even on a local level.
Police broke her teeth and jaw and gave her a serious concussion in 2017 when she was caught in a violent street protest. She has suffered from pain in her jaw ever since.
Undaunted, Galyamina struggled this summer to take part in a Moscow City Council election scheduled for September. On Tuesday she called The Daily Beast on the phone from a police van driving her away from the Russian capital to jail in the provincial town of Mozhaisk.
Galyamina is a 46-year-old linguistics professor at a prestigious university here and on the phone she sounded almost as if she were lecturing students about the dying Ketsky language. But clearly she had a message she wanted to get out.
I have a few minutes left before they take my phone away and cut me off from all communication with my supporters, she said.
Earlier in the day, a court arrested her and eight other key opposition leaders for calling on protesters to stage a rally in downtown Moscow without government authorization. To support the verdict, the judge read aloud a dozen or so of Galyaminas Facebook posts about opposition demands to allow independent candidates, including herself, to run in September.
Now from the van she told The Daily Beast, Putin and [Moscow Mayor Sergey] Sobyanin must be afraid of responsible citizens and I am not surprised to get arrestedI always knew that criminal prosecution would be the price for my opposition activity.
You are working for a fascist power, for those who rule for money, not for your sake.
Yulia Galyamina berating police last Saturday.
Putins Russia has seen many courageous women fighting against injustice. But instead of embracing their constructive criticism, the Kremlin chose to silence them with police clubs and prison bars. There have also been several brilliant women, including journalist Anna Politkovskaya and activist Natalia Estemirova, who fell victim to assassins. But more women join the demonstrations.
Last weekend, for instance, a 17-year-old protester named Olga Misik sat cross-legged in the street and read articles from the Russian Constitution to riot cops arrayed around her about the right to assemble peacefully, without weapons, hold rallies, meetings, demonstrations and marches. The image already is an icon of protest.
Two years ago I visited Galyamina at the Botkin Hospital in Moscow, where she was recovering from a concussion. She had severe headaches after a Moscow OMON (Special Police) cop smashed her face. Then, too, it was striking to see pale Galyamina on the phone from her hospital bed, calling for her supporters to come out to the next rally.
At the time, crowds of demonstrators had turned out in the center of Moscows to fight against the city halls renovation plan for the displacement of residents from hundreds of apartment blocks slated for demolition. People did not want to move from the central districts to the outskirts of the capital.
Factories closed, leaving millions without jobsbut at least people had their apartments, their property, Galyamina told me at the hospital in 2017. The new law allows the state to deprive thousands of Moscow families of their beloved apartments and move them to wherever officials want.
Last year Galyamina won a seat in the Moscow municipal elections. Residents of Temiryazevsky region, where she sat on the district council, know their candidate well. She led her electorate in battles about fundamental causes in local politics like saving Dubki Park from development and demanding garbage recycling. She was building her political platform on that public support to run for the Moscow City Duma, a regional parliament, in September this year.
The men in power grow fat, while you work for kopecks [pennies]. You beat women, you beat sick people. Do you realize what you are doing?
Yulia Galyamina berating cops last weekend, before her arrest.
We spent last month collecting almost 4,000 signatures from Yulias supporters but authorities rejected hundreds of real voters to ban her from running for the election, Nikolay Kosyan, one of Galyaminas supporters, said. Kosyan was angry, as are many young activists protesting in the streets in support of the arrested leaders. When the mayoral office realized that we had actually collected real signatures and not fake ones, they still decided to shut her up in fear of her powerful spirit.
On Saturday Galyamina became a hero for thousands of protesters. Facing rows of National Guard riot police, she said: You are working for a fascist power, for those who rule for money, not for your sake, she told men covered in body armor. The men in power grow fat, while you work for kopecks [pennies]. You beat women, you beat sick people. Do you realize what you are doing? Galyamina continued in a lecturing tone while the police looked like mischievous, slightly terrified students. (Video here in Russian.)
Galyamina was wearing her usual red dress and a white jacket and was holding a little Russian flag in her hands. I am a woman, I feel ashamed of you, strong men, who beat ordinary peoplethese people came out to the streets, because they strive to have independent institutes of power, which would not rob people like you, the deputy continued. Ten minutes later two policemen grabbed her, twisted her arms behind her back, and dragged her away from the rally.
Back in 2013, the Russian opposition leader Aleksey Navalny won 27 percent in a mayoral election in Moscow, even without access to state television channels, coming in second after the incumbent from the ruling United Russia party, Sergei Sobyanin. This time, apparently, Sobyanin wants to avoid the mistake of allowing a strong opposition showing. Nine key candidates for September election are currently behind bars. So is Navalny.
Galyamina had been playing by the rules. She collected the necessary number of signatures in her support but authorities turned her candidacy down, claiming signatures were falsified. Police detained up to 1,400 protesters on Saturday, Russian courts opened 200 legal cases against the opposition.
She is stubborn and she is good at creating responsible communities in Moscow, her friend Denis Bilunov, a political scientist, told The Daily Beast. The Kremlin is scared of Galyamina.
Political reality finally inserted itself into the blissfully insulated world of San Diego Comic-Con. The Trump baby balloon bounced across the street from the convention center in San Diegos Gaslamp district. The Magicians actor Jade Tailor wore a Close the Camps shirt during her season 5 panel. Sen. Cory Booker cruised through and AOC comics were for sale.
Yet, searching the sprawling convention floor, youd be hard-pressed to find imagery more politically relevantor subversivethan the nine-foot-high poster for LaGuardia, a new graphic novel from African futurism writer Nnedi Okorafor. A pregnant Nigerian-American woman in a bright blue dress, fist raised and locks flowing like a banner, leads a bridge-closing protest shoulder-to-tentacle with extraterrestrial beings. Their picket signs demand rights for aliens, both human and of off-world origin.
After a single-issue run, Dark Horse Comics released the final, collected volume during last weeks San Diego Comic-Con. LaGuardia depicts an alternative present, where first contact with aliens is made in Lagos in 2010. The protagonist Future Nwafor Chukwuebuka is modeled both in appearance and biography after the author herself. After living for several years in Nigeria, Future returns to the United States to illegally transport a plant-based alien escaping civil war through New Yorks LaGuardia airport. Once in the city, she reconnects with her grandmother, an immigration attorney for people of all planetary origins. Before too long, the government announces a travel ban.
You have a world where aliens have come, and theyre not trying to kill us and eat us and take our resources. Theyve become Earthlings, Okarofor says. Some human beings react wonderfully to it, or some human beings just are cool with it, and then others cant deal with it. And then we have the United States becoming more conservative because of it.
Its not unusual for science fiction to anticipate reality, but its remarkable how every page of LaGuardia seems only 30 seconds ahead of the horrors playing out in the headlines, from DNA testing and social media vetting at the nations entry points to the chant of send her back at the presidents recent North Carolina rally. LaGuardia explores the concept of human-only discrimination at hospitals; meanwhile, Democratic presidential candidates discussed healthcare for undocumented immigrants in their first televised debate.
Its disturbing, but at the same time, it feels great, because I feel like Ive tapped into the pulse of something, Okorafor says.
Yet this is a story that she has been working on for years.
Issues of immigration, issues of identity, all these things, theyre not new, and theyve been there for a long time, she says.
Okorafor talks and writes from experience. The graphic novel introduces Future through an extended scene at LaGuardia, where she queues up for screening along with aliens of all shapes and sizes, as well as a little white girl who yanks on her locks. At the checkpoint, she is pulled aside for a second screening by a security guard who asks invasive questions about whether the baby in her belly is human. The confrontation is ripped straight from an incident in 2009, when a TSA officer at LaGuardia took Okorafor to a private room to squeeze each of her four-and-a-half-foot locks for hidden contraband. Preoccupied with her hair, the officer missed the bottle of pepper spray that Okorafor had forgotten to remove from her bag. In LaGuardia, that misdirection allows the character to carry the alien through, undetected.
As an author, Okorafor travels a lot, and its become clear to her that airport and border crossings are more about control than safety.
Its the space between, a place of contention, a place of displacement, a place of fear, a place of identity, she says. Its where you become very aware of all the things that you are and what they mean, in the context of where you are. And depending on who you are, that place can feel very hot or it can feel very chill.
San Diego Comic-Con can also be such a space, where creators contemplate who they are and where they are in their careers. In earlier chapters of her life, Okorafor was a semi-pro tennis player and later earned a PhD from the University of Illinois, Chicago, before becoming an award-collecting novelist. Okorafor has been attending Comic-Con on-and-off since 2010, wheb she was a speaker on The Black Panel, a forum for raising the profile of Black entertainment. This year was her first returning as a comic-book author.
In addition to writing LaGuardia for Dark Horses imprint Berger Books, Okorafor was tapped by Marvel to write Black Panther: Long Live the Kingand a spin-off about the Wakandan princess Shuri. In coming Comic-Cons, she may be back with even more prominent projects: shes adapting Octavia Butlers Wild Seed for Amazon and HBO is developing her novel Who Fears Death, with Game of Thrones author George R.R. Martin as a producer.
I am in chaos, organized chaos, wonderful, glorious, organized chaos, Okorafor says.
One could draw a straight line from Okorafor and LaGuardia to comics pioneer Will Eisner (after whom Comic-Cons awards are named) and his 1978 medium-defining graphic novel, A Contract with God. Okorafor pulled the book off a university library shelf at random, without knowing it was a graphic novel, and was immediately transfixed by the blending of prose and images.
But also it was telling this immigrant story, especially about Jews, Okorafor says of A Contract with God, and coming from a family of immigrants, my parents being immigrants, I could relate so well to that. And so this was a book that I read over and over and over again for years.
Thats how Karen Berger, the editor who oversees Dark Horses Berger Book imprint, remembers Okorafor pitching the project: A Contract with God, but with aliens in an African American community. In Bergers mind, Eisner raised the bar by writing stories for adults based on his own experiences as the child of immigrants.
The best works are when people have a personal connection, and theres something about a writers past, or the writers personality, the writers passions in the character they write about, Berger says. As a piece of immigrant fiction, LaGuardia really fills that space.
LaGuardia is also about resistance, in all its forms, whether it be protesting, legal work, or holding the line within the system.
There are many ways of fighting the battle and battles happen on multiple fronts, all at the same time, Okorafor says. This year, San Diego Comic-Con became one of them.
Southern white rhino calf at San Diego Zoo raises hopes for the future of wild rhinoceroses
The bumbling, sleepy rhino calf at San Diego Zoo is sure to delight animal lovers around the world. But for conservation scientists, his birth has additional meaning it marks a significant step toward saving wild rhino populations from the edge of extinction.
The newborn southern white rhino is the first in North America, and the third in the world, born as the result of artificial insemination.
His mother Victoria, who carried the calf for 493 days, stayed calm during her 30-minute labor on Sunday, the zoo announced.
Victoria is doing a great job as a mother, said Barbara Durrant, director of reproductive sciences at San Diego Zoo Global, the not-for-profit organization that runs the zoo. And the calf is doing great. As soon as Victoria took the placenta off him, he was moving. He stood very quickly, and of course, he was very wobbly.
At two days old, he is steadying himself. And though he stays close to his mother, appears to be growing curious about his surroundings, she reported. The zoo has yet to announce a name for the calf.
He is very cute, but he has much greater significance, said Durrant. The birth of the new southern rhino calf is part of a plan to save the northern white rhino a related subspecies whose population has dwindled to two.