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 Veil Nebula Supernova Remnant

Week in Geek: Lifting the veil edition

09/27/15 05:39PM

The Hubble Space Telescope is at it again. On Thursday NASA released an updated image of the Veil Nebula, a cloud of gas and dust in the constellation Cygnus left over from a star that exploded almost 8,000 years ago.

This image is in "false color" to highlight the different elements it's composed of - in this image, hydrogen is in red, sulfur is green, and oxygen is blue. False color images are extremely useful to astronomers because the gas composition of a nebula or galaxy can tell us a lot about how that object evolved and the processes going on in its immediate environment. The smooth, bright blue lines outlining the structure mark the current front of the shock wave created by the original supernova. The more diffuse red and green structures in the interior of the nebula are cooling and fading after the shock passed through them long ago. A more detailed discussion of this image can be found in this ESA article.

To get a full sense of the 3D structure of the nebula, check out this fly-through created by the amazing visualization team at the Space Telescope Science Institute.

The Veil Nebula is actually just a tiny, tiny part of a much larger structure known as the Cygnus Loop. If you could see the entire loop with your own eyes in the night sky, one side to the other would stretch over an area the size of six full moons.

You can download your very own version of these images to capture your imagination at will from here.

And now for some more geek from the week:

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Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump speaks at the Values Voters Summit at the Omni Shoreham hotel in Washington D.C., Sept. 25, 2015. (Photo By Al Drago/CQ Roll Call/Getty)

This Week in God, 9.26.15

09/26/15 08:44AM

First up from the God Machine this week a look at the religious right movement's largest annual event, which kicked off yesterday in Washington, D.C. In fact, the Family Research Council's Values Voter Summit is celebrating its 10th anniversary this year -- which will reportedly be the largest summit to date.
So, what'd we learn from the right-wing gathering? For one thing, most of the Republicans running for president see the social conservative attendees as their natural base.
There is a lot of conservative star power shining out of the Omni Shoreham Hotel in Washington on Friday morning. Senator Ted Cruz of Texas, Senator Rand Paul of Kentucky and Sarah Palin are just a few of the Republican Party’s luminaries headlining the Values Voter Summit, which is running through the weekend.
Mr. Cruz rallied the Republican base by reminding them of the anniversary of his filibuster, which he said “elevated the debate about Obamacare.” He also invoked former President Ronald Reagan, suggesting that a new wave of conservatism was nearing. "Morning is coming," Cruz said. "Morning is coming.”
In all, eight White House hopefuls -- Marco Rubio, Ted Cruz, Rick Santorum, Donald Trump, Mike Huckabee, Ben Carson, Bobby Jindal, and Lindsey Graham -- will make their pitch to the far-right crowd. They'll be joined by five House Republicans, another Senate Republican, another Republican governor, and a former Republican presidential candidate (Rick Perry).
It's almost enough to give someone the impression that the lines between the GOP and the religious right movement have blurred to the point of non-existence.
Jeb Bush was invited, and was briefly listed as a featured guest, but he ultimately declined to attend.
As for yesterday's opening day, we also learned that attendees don't think highly of House Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio); the crowd didn't appreciate Trump referring to Rubio as a "clown"; Ted Cruz, who sees President Obama as "a communist," stands ready to assassinate the Iranian Ayatollah; and Mike Huckabee believes the United States may cease to exist if gay Americans continue to have equal marriage rights.
Day Two gets underway this morning. I'll report back on Monday on the results of the Values Voter Summit presidential straw poll.
Surprising stature among pope's protectors

Surprising stature among pope's congressional protectors

09/25/15 09:52PM

Rachel Maddow reports on which Democratic members of Congress were charged with the task of keeping their colleagues from crowding Pope Francis on his visit to the House chamber, and takes important advice that the size of the protectors is not necessarily an indication of their capabilities. watch

GOP's hard-right makes party course uncertain

GOP's hard-right a wild card in replacing John Boehner

09/25/15 09:38PM

John Stanton, DC bureau chief for Buzzfeed, talks with Rachel Maddow about whether the conventional wisdom that Rep. Kevin McCarthy will replace John Boehner as Speaker of the House is accurate, and how the hard-right Republicans that made Boehner's job so difficult are likely to respond to the replacement process. watch

Pope Francis takes Manhattan

Pope Francis takes Manhattan

09/25/15 09:25PM

Rachel Maddow reports on the busy day Pope Francis had in New York City, from the U.N. to Ground Zero, to a school in Harlem, through Central Park, and finally with tens of thousands of worshipers at Madison Square Garden. watch

Trump hears boos as cheers at 'values' event

Trump hears boos as cheers at conservative event

09/25/15 09:21PM

Rachel Maddow reports on the Donald Trump having a hard time accepting that his campaign is losing some of its luster as he pushes back on plain evidence of weak turnout at a recent event and insists that a booing audience was actually cheering. watch

Boehner shocks with resignation announcement

Political world shocked by John Boehner resignation announcement

09/25/15 09:00PM

Rachel Maddow reviews some of the high and low points of John Boehner's tenure as speaker of the House and talks with Robert Costa, national political reporter for The Washington Post, about the considerations that likely went into Boehner's decision to resign and whether his replacement will have an easier time getting things done. watch

Friday's Mini-Report, 9.25.15

09/25/15 05:30PM

Today's edition of quick hits:
* Guantanamo: "Defense Secretary Ashton B. Carter has notified Congress that he has approved sending a high-profile detainee at the Guantanamo Bay prison to Britain, a move that will ease a point of diplomatic tension between the United States and a close ally."
* Cybersecurity: "The United States and China have agreed that neither country will conduct economic espionage in cyberspace in a deal that addresses a major source of tension in the bilateral relationship. The pact also calls for a process aimed at helping to ensure compliance."
* The right won't like Pope Francis' comments, Part I: "A day after taking a surprisingly deferential tone with climate change skeptics in the U.S. Congress, Pope Francis stood before the United Nations General Assembly to issue a soft-spoken but thunderous call for the world to address global warming, connecting the issue to the wider pursuit of equality, security and justice for all."
* The right won't like Pope Francis' comments, Part II: "Pope Francis offered his clearest praise yet for the international nuclear deal with Iran, in a speech before the United Nations General Assembly. The deal 'is proof of the potential of political good will and of law, exercised with sincerity, patience and constancy,' the pope said before a gathering of hundreds of global diplomats, according to an English translation of his prepared remarks."
* VW: "Volkswagen on Friday appointed Matthias Mueller, the head of its Porsche unit, as its new chief executive, asking him to lead a recovery from an emissions cheating scandal that its chairman described as a 'moral and political disaster.'"
* Somewhere, John Oliver is smiling: "The Swiss attorney general’s office announced Friday it is opening a criminal investigation into outgoing FIFA president Sepp Blatter on suspicion of criminal mismanagement and misappropriation of FIFA funds."
The dome of the Capitol is reflected in a puddle in Washington, Feb. 17, 2012.

Boehner resignation changes the shutdown calculus

09/25/15 04:47PM

As recently as yesterday, another Republican-imposed government shutdown seemed almost inevitable. GOP leaders had a decent plan to pass a short-term spending bill that would keep the government's lights on, but far-right opposition to the solution was significant enough that the strategy was likely to fail.
To avoid a shutdown, something truly dramatic would have to happen -- something like the Speaker of the House announcing his resignation in the middle of his term.
All of a sudden, the shutdown that seemed unavoidable will be, well, avoided. The Washington Post reported that it now looks like "there won’t be a government shutdown -- at least not yet."
Republicans said Thursday that the House will vote next week on a stop-gap spending bill to fund the government after Sept.  30, without the controversial language that would defund Planned Parenthood.
Dozens of House Republicans acknowledged the plan on Friday after the closed-door meeting where Boehner (R-Ohio) made the bombshell announcement that he’ll resign as speaker at the end of October. The strategy all but ensures there will be no imminent shutdown and leaves any future budget battles in the hands of new leadership.
What about the far-right House members who said they'd kill any stop-gap measure that includes Planned Parenthood funding? Those threats have quietly been scaled back.
Indeed, a separate Washington Post piece added that "several" members of the right-wing House Freedom Caucus -- the same 42-member group of House members who were pushing aggressively for a shutdown -- said "they will now support the spending bill without demands that it include language to cut off funding for Planned Parenthood."
Rep. John Fleming (R-La.) said, simply, “The commitment has been made that there will be no shutdown."
Boehner's decision to quit is consequential in more ways than one.
Kevin McCarthy, John Boehner, and Eric Cantor listen during a news briefing on Jan. 14, 2014.

Who wants the Worst Job in Washington?

09/25/15 12:52PM

House Speaker John Boehner's (R-Ohio) communications director told Time magazine yesterday, “He’s not going anywhere. If there’s a small crew of members who think that he’s just going to pick up and resign in the middle of his term, they are going to be sadly mistaken.”
That was literally yesterday afternoon, reinforcing the fact that this morning's news was, to put it mildly, unexpected.
There are all kinds of questions surrounding this story, but near the top of the list is a pretty straightforward inquiry: who in their right mind would actually volunteer for the job Boehner is giving up?
Not only is it practically impossible to lead the current crop of House Republicans, but there's also the inconvenient fact that recent GOP Speakers tend to meet unwelcome fates: Newt Gingrich resigned in disgrace; Bob Livingstone resigned in disgrace; Dennis Hastert is under criminal indictment; and John Boehner is quitting mid-term.
Already today, we know that Rep. Paul Ryan (R-Wis.) has withdrawn from consideration. Rep. Mark Meadows (R-N.C.), who tried to oust Boehner, said he's not running, either. Former House Majority Leader Eric Cantor (R-Va.) was going to be Speaker, but his Republican constituents abandoned him in a primary last year.
And that apparently leaves his successor, current House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.). Politico reported today:
[McCarthy] is widely expected to serve as the next speaker. But there is serious unrest in the House Republican ranks, as a small clutch of conservatives have continuously clashed with establishment Republicans. It takes 218 votes on the House floor to win the speakership, and many GOP insiders believe that McCarthy is the only person who could cobble together a coalition to win. [...]
Boehner allies appear to be rallying around McCarthy for speaker already, providing him a hefty base for the internal House Republican Conference election, and a speaker vote on the House floor.
It would have been difficult to imagine such circumstances up until very recently.

Friday's Campaign Round-Up, 9.25.15

09/25/15 12:00PM

Today's installment of campaign-related news items from across the country.
* In New Hampshire, the latest WMUR poll shows Donald Trump continuing to lead the Republican presidential field, this time with 26% support, up two points from July. Carly Fiorina is second with 16%, followed by Marco Rubio's 9% and Ben Carson's 8%. Jeb Bush, who used to see the Granite State as a sure victory, is tied with John Kasich for fifth in the poll with 7% support.
* The same WMUR poll found Bernie Sanders with a big advantage in the Democratic presidential primary, leading Hillary Clinton, 46% to 30%. Vice President Biden is third in the poll with 14%.
* In Florida, a Jacksonville University Public Policy Institute Poll found Trump leading in the Sunshine State with 24.4% support. Jeb Bush is second with 16.9%, followed by Carly Fiorina at 15.6% and Ben Carson at 15%. At least in this poll, Marco Rubio is fifth with 14.9%.
* Carly Fiorina campaigned in South Carolina yesterday, where she actually joined a pregnant woman in an exam room and watched her receive an ultrasound. All of this took place in a crisis pregnancy center.
* Speaking of Fiorina, the Republican candidate likes to tell audiences she "started as a secretary" before working her way up to being a CEO. It turns out, that's an incredibly misleading description of her career trajectory.
* Marco Rubio's presidential campaign has struggled, to a surprising degree, to lock up congressional endorsements, but Rep. John Moolenaar (R-Mich.) threw his support behind the far-right Floridian yesterday. The Michigan congressman is Rubio's third congressional backer.
* Asked yesterday about his plan to deport 11 million undocumented immigrants, Donald Trump replied, “It will take place and it will be done effectively and warmly and humanely."


About The Rachel Maddow Show

Launched in 2008, “The Rachel Maddow Show” follows the machinations of policy making in America, from local political activism to international diplomacy. Rachel Maddow looks past the distractions of political theater and stunts and focuses on the legislative proposals and policies that shape American life - as well as the people making and influencing those policies and their ultimate outcome, intended or otherwise.



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