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SpaceX launches new NASA satellite and lands with a boom – CNET

SpaceX launches new NASA satellite and lands with a boom - CNET

Illustration of the Sentinel-6/Michael Freilich satellite in orbit.


A SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket sent a new NASA and European Space Agency satellite on its way to orbit from California on Saturday morning. The Sentinel-6 Michael Freilich satellite is the latest in a series of satellites that have provided critical data about sea level rise and climate change for almost three decades. It’s named for the former director of NASA’s Earth Science Division, Michael Freilich, who’s considered a pioneer in conducting oceanography work from orbit.

The new ocean-spying bird will be able to measure sea levels within a few centimeters for 90% of oceans around the globe. A twin satellite named Sentinel-6B will join the effort when it launches in 2025. Instruments on the new satellites will also provide data on atmospheric temperature and humidity that’ll help improve weather forecasts, according to NASA.

The mission began with the fairly rare launch from Vandenberg Air Force Base on the west coast of the US. A statement from Vandenberg sent out earlier in the week warned that multiple sonic booms might be heard in parts of California’s Santa Barbara, Ventura and San Luis Obispo counties as the Falcon 9 first stage returned for a landing after lifting the satellite toward orbit. 

The loud booms could be heard on the mission webcast just before the Falcon 9 first stage made a successful landing ashore just a short distance from the launch pad. Check out the feed for yourself below.

It’s just the beginning of a very busy day for SpaceX, which also plans to launch its latest batch of Starlink satellites from Florida.

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Santa Clara County issues tough, new COVID-19 rules including quarantines for some – The Mercury News

Santa Clara County issues tough, new COVID-19 rules including quarantines for some - The Mercury News

Santa Clara County released new COVID-19 restrictions in light of its rising caseload Saturday, including a temporary ban on all high school, collegiate and professional contact sports, a mandatory quarantine for those traveling into the region from more than 150 miles away and new capacity limits for indoor businesses.

The new restrictions arrive as California experiences its worst COVID-19 surge yet and within hours of a rollback from San Francisco and San Mateo counties, which both ordered curfews as they were placed into the state’s most restrictive “purple” reopening tier. Every Bay Area county, with the exception of Marin, is now in the purple tier, meaning the deadly virus is considered widespread. Marin County remains in the red tier, the second-most restrictive, although that could change at any time.

Santa Clara County’s new restrictions will include a 14-day quarantine for all those traveling to the county from more than 150 miles away, as well as a temporary ban on sporting activities involving contact with other people — including professional sports like the San Francisco 49ers football team. Cardrooms must temporarily close, while hotels and other facilities must be open only for essential travel or to facilitate isolation or quarantine.

“I know this is not what any of us want to hear, nor is this situation one any of us want to be in, but here we are,” said Health Officer Dr. Sara Cody.

Stores must be limited to 10% capacity, excepting grocery stores, drug stores and pharmacies, which may operate at 25% capacity. Health care workers traveling into the county to provide care — or patients — will be exempt from quarantine.

The new directives will go into effect on Monday at 12:01 a.m. and last until at least Dec. 21, a time period of three weeks, though they may be extended again.

It was not yet entirely clear how the new restrictions would affect the county’s vast network of high school, college and professional sports. The order’s executive summary refers to “all recreational activities that involve physical contact or close proximity to persons outside one’s household, including all contact sports,” but does not specify whether any sports will be exempt from the temporary ban.

County CEO Jeff Smith clarified to this news organization that the order includes football, basketball, soccer and hockey — in other words, the 49ers and the San Jose Sharks hockey team — but that tennis and swimming are exempt because they do not involve direct contact between people. The county has been in touch with both professional leagues and Stanford University, a Division 1 school, he said.

“That means that for those teams, they will not be able to play games or have practices where they have direct contact,” added County Counsel James Williams.

Meanwhile, in San Francisco and San Mateo counties, indoor worship and movie theaters, indoor gyms, and indoor operations at museums, aquariums and zoos must close starting at noon Sunday. A curfew, which applies to all counties in the purple tier, will go into place starting Monday night and will bar non-essential travel and activities between 10 p.m. and 5 a.m.

The movement from red to purple means that shopping malls and retail stores that had been allowed to run at 50% capacity will have to scale back to 25%, just as holiday shopping begins in earnest.

Restaurants in those two counties may continue to operate outdoors, but not indoors.

Coronavirus cases have risen dramatically statewide over the past few weeks, including the Bay Area. California’s seven-day average case count was 13,092 as of Friday, an increase of about 77% since Nov. 13 — even without case updates from some counties during the holiday week. The state’s positivity rate hovers at about 6.2%, more than double its 3% rate at the end of October.

Santa Clara leads the region in terms of overall cases, with more than 32,000 recorded since the pandemic began and 531 infections reported Friday. The county’s average weekly cases hit an all-time high of 422 Friday, marking the third day in a row that the average has beaten its previous August record of 360 weekly average cases.

In San Mateo, cases have spiked by about 85% over the past month, officials said, with a seven-day average of about 102 new daily infections as compared to 88 in mid-November.

“We have not seen numbers like this in quite a while and we really need to reverse this incredibly troubling trend,” San Mateo County Manager Mike Callagy said in a statement announcing the county’s move to the purple tier. “What’s important to remember is that we can reverse the trend as long as we follow common-sense health and safety practices.”

Fifty-one of California’s 58 counties — more than 90% of the state’s population — are within the state’s purple reopening tier. Los Angeles County released its own stay-at-home order Friday night.

Emily DeRuy contributed reporting. 

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Lions fire Matt Patricia, Bob Quinn after another poor start to season – Fox News

Lions fire Matt Patricia, Bob Quinn after another poor start to season - Fox News

The Detroit Lions fired head coach Matt Patricia and general manager Bob Quinn on Saturday.

The announcement came days after the Lions were blown out at home on Thanksgiving Day by the Houston Texans.


Detroit hired Patricia from the New England Patriots prior to the start of the 2018 season. Detroit had come off two straight 9-7 seasons before getting Patricia.

However, Patricia never led the Lions to a winning season. In his first season, Detroit went 6-10. In 2019, the Lions were 3-12-1 but faced a swath of injuries, which included Matthew Stafford.


This year, the Lions battled back after losing their first two games but by Week 12 were 4-7 and nearly out of contention for at least a wild card spot in the playoffs.

Quinn was hired as the team’s general manager in 2016, also from the Patriots. He oversaw the hiring of Patricia and kept Caldwell as the head coach for two seasons before making the change. The Lions only made the playoffs once in that span.


The Lions now can start hiring a completely new front office before the start of the next offseason. Detroit needs a handful of upgrades to help make the team a contender.  

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Full November ‘beaver moon’ and lunar eclipse to put on a sky show this week –

Full November ‘beaver moon’ and lunar eclipse to put on a sky show this week -

Sky watchers will get a double treat as November 2020 comes to a close, with a partial lunar eclipse occurring as the full “beaver moon” shines in the early morning sky.

The beaver moon — nicknamed such because this is the time of year when beavers build their winter dams in preparation for the cold winter — will reach its fullest phase Monday morning, Nov. 30, at 4:30 a.m. Eastern time. So it will look big and bright in the sky Sunday night and Tuesday night as well — assuming the clouds don’t block your view.

(Unfortunately, a big rain storm is expected to lash the New Jersey region on Monday, and it could linger into early Tuesday.)

Partial lunar eclipse

As the moon is becoming full early Monday morning, there will be a partial lunar eclipse — known as a penumbral eclipse. While it’s not as dramatic as a full lunar eclipse, experts say it could be visible to sky watchers here in New Jersey and in other areas of North America.

A penumbral eclipse takes place when the moon drifts through the outer section of Earth’s shadow, or penumbra, and part of the sun’s rays are blocked from shining on the moon during that time, according to astronomy experts at

On Monday morning, “the moon will take 4 hours and 21 minutes to glide across the pale outer fringe (penumbra) of Earth’s shadow, never reaching the shadow’s dark umbra,” says astronomy writer Joe Rao.

“About 20 minutes prior to the deepest phase of the eclipse, you might see some evidence of this faint penumbral shading on the moon’s upper edge,” Rao notes. “This corresponds to around 4:22 a.m. EST; 3:22 a.m. CST; 2:22 a.m. MT and 1:22 a.m. PST.”

If this was a full lunar eclipse instead of a partial one, the entire moon would be briefly darkened and give off a reddish-orange tint.

By the way, it is totally safe to look at a lunar eclipse with a telescope, binoculars or your own eyes. No special filters are needed.

Full beaver moon

The full moon of November 2020 is coming soon, and its nickname is the “beaver moon.”Bruno Glatsch | Pixabay

Origin of the beaver moon nickname

The nickname “beaver moon” comes from Algonquin Native American tribes and American colonists, who gave nicknames to each full moon based on weather conditions, farming routines and hunting trends at that time of the year.

Some publications, like, say the November moon got its name “after beavers who build their winter dams at this time of year.”

The Farmers’ Almanac says the nickname may have been derived from beavers preparing for winter in November, but notes it could have something to do with hunters. “This was the time to set beaver traps before the swamps froze, to ensure a supply of warm winter furs,” the publication says.

Other nicknames for the full November moon

Just like other full moons throughout the year, the November full moon has generated a few different nicknames over time.

In addition to the popular “beaver moon” moniker, the November full moon also has been coined the “hunter moon,” the “mourning moon,” the “reed moon” and the “frost moon” — a reference to the weather getting colder during this month.

Full cold moon - December

The full moon in December is commonly known as the “cold moon” because of the chilly winter air.Pixabay

Final full moon of 2020

If you don’t get a chance to see the November full moon, you can look for December’s full “cold moon.”

That moon will officially reach its fullest phase at 10:28 p.m. Eastern time on Tuesday, Dec. 29, so it will look big the night before (Dec. 28) and the following two nights (Dec. 30 and Dec. 31).

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Record number of COVID-19 cases reported in Monroe County – 13WHAM-TV

Record number of COVID-19 cases reported in Monroe County - 13WHAM-TV

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Ethiopia declares victory as military takes Tigray capital – Fox News

Ethiopia declares victory as military takes Tigray capital - Fox News

Ethiopia’s military has gained “full control” of the capital of the defiant Tigray region, the army announced Saturday, and the prime minister said the taking of Mekele marked the “completion” of an offensive that started nearly four weeks ago. The regional government said the city of a half-million people was “heavily bombarded” in the final push to arrest its leaders.

“God bless Ethiopia and its people!” Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed said in a statement. “We have entered Mekele without innocent civilians being targets.”

Now, he said, police will pursue the leaders of the Tigray People’s Liberation Front, who run the region and dominated Ethiopia’s ruling coalition before Abiy came to power in 2018 and sidelined them among the sweeping reforms that won him the Nobel Peace Prize.

Abiy’s government has accused the TPLF of inciting unrest and seeking to reclaim power, and each government now regards the other as illegal. The prime minister has rejected dialogue with TPLF leaders, including during a Friday meeting with three African Union special envoys.


As Abiy spoke of “returning normalcy” to the Tigray region, one of his ministers told The Associated Press in a phone interview “there is no way” the search for the TPLF leaders will take weeks.

The minister in charge of democratization, Zadig Abraha, also said the Ethiopian government doesn’t yet know the number of people killed in the conflict.

“We have kept the civilian casualty very low,” he asserted. Humanitarians and human rights groups have reported several hundred dead, including combatants.

Some Ethiopians at home and in the diaspora rejoiced at the news that Mekele was under the military’s control. “Thanks to the Almighty God our creator. Amen. Let peace prevail in Ethiopia!!!” former Prime Minister Hailemariam Dessalegn tweeted.

The fighting has threatened to destabilize Ethiopia, which has been described as the linchpin of the strategic Horn of Africa, and its neighbors.


As international alarm has grown since the conflict began on Nov. 4, so has a massive humanitarian crisis. The Tigray region of 6 million people has been cut off from the world as the military pursued what Abiy called a “law enforcement operation” with airstrikes and tanks.

Food, fuel, cash and medical supplies have run desperately low. Nearly 1 million people have been displaced, including more than 40,000 who fled into Sudan. Camps home to 96,000 Eritrean refugees in northern Tigray have been in the line of fire.

With communications severed, it is difficult to verify claims by the warring sides. The Tigray leader, Debretsion Gebremichael, could not be reached Saturday. The heavily armed TPLF has long experience fighting in the region’s rugged terrain, and some experts had warned of a drawn-out conflict.

The TPLF turned churches, schools and densely populated neighborhoods in Mekele “into armament stores and launching pads,” senior Ethiopian official Redwan Hussein asserted in a Facebook post. He said “scattered remnants” of the TPLF fighters were carrying out “sporadic shootings.”

The shelling in Mekele, a densely populated city, immediately raised concerns about civilian casualties. Ethiopia’s government had warned residents there would be “no mercy” if they didn’t move away from the TPLF leaders in time. The United Nations said some fled as tanks closed in and Abiy’s 72-hour ultimatum for TPLF leaders to surrender expired.


“I invite everyone to pray for Ethiopia where armed clashes have intensified and are causing a serious humanitarian situation,” Pope Francis tweeted Saturday.

“Fighting and shelling in the Mekele area are a very grave concern. We urge an immediate end to conflict and restoration of peace in Tigray,” the top U.S. diplomat for Africa, Tibor Nagy, tweeted.

As Ethiopian forces moved in, Maj. Gen. Hassan Ibrahim warned that “it is possible that some of the wanted people may go to their families or neighboring areas and try to hide for few days. But our armed forces … will be tasked to hunt down and capture these criminals one by one.”

The United Nations continues to seek immediate and unimpeded access to deliver aid.

Zadig, the democratization minister, told the AP that “once we’ve made sure there’s no security threat,” a humanitarian corridor for that purpose will be allowed within days. As for restoring communications to Tigray, “it depends on the kind of damage sustained,” he said.

Asked about allowing independent investigations into alleged abuses during the fighting, Zadig replied, “We have nothing to hide.”

“One of the reforms we introduced was transparency. But it depends on the situation,” he said.


The minister dismissed the idea that Ethiopia has been left with “any, like, severe wound” from the conflict, and he expressed confidence in the prime minister’s ability to restore normalcy.

“He’s quite an effective leader when it comes to making peace,” Zadig said.

But the conflict has further inflamed tensions in a country that the former TPLF-dominated government structured along ethnic lines during more than a quarter-century in power. Massacres reported in a single community, Mai-Kadra, during the recent fighting have led to concerns about what else will be revealed.

Among Abiy’s goals is welcoming back the refugees who fled, though many have reported being attacked by Ethiopian forces and now struggle to find food, shelter and care in a remote part of Sudan.

U.N. High Commissioner for Refugees Filippo Grandi on Saturday visited Sudan’s Umm Rakouba camp, which houses some 10,000 refugees. He said about $150 million is needed over the next six months.

Worryingly, refugees have told the AP that Ethiopian forces near the border are impeding people from leaving. AP reporters saw crossings slow to a trickle in recent days. Ethiopia’s government has not commented.


“We have seen the figure of people decline but continuing. Five to 600 per day is not a small figure, let’s make no mistake. It is true there were days in which they were in their thousands, but it depends also on the difficulty of moving around their country and on the border,” Grandi said.

Access to Tigray is “the main obstacle at the moment,” he said, urging Abiy’s government to “grant us corridors, or whatever they call it, to provide assistance.”

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