Biodun Iginla, BBC News

Biodun Iginla, BBC News

Sunday, August 20, 2017

Millions in US flock for glimpse of rare solar eclipse



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© Sean Rayford / Getty Images / AFP | Children watch a presentation about the eclipse during a drive-in movie at the Historic Columbia Speedway August 20, 2017 in Columbia, South Carolina.
Video by FRANCE 24

Latest update : 2017-08-21  05H:59  GMT/UTC/ZULU TIME

by Kathy DiNuzzo and Biodun Iginla, France24, Salem, Oregon

Millions of Americans converged on a narrow corridor stretching from Oregon to South Carolina to watch the moon blot out the midday sun Monday for a wondrous couple of minutes in the first total solar eclipse to sweep coast to coast in 99 years.

Veteran eclipse watchers warned the uninitiated to get ready to be blown away.
Planetariums and museums posted "Sold out of eclipse glasses" on their front doors. Signs along highways reminded motorists of "Solar Eclipse Monday," while cars bore the message "Eclipse or bust."
With 200 million people within a day's drive of the path of totality, towns and parks braced for monumental crowds. It's expected to be the most observed, most studied and most photographed eclipse ever. Not to mention the most festive, what with all the parties.
In Salem, Oregon, a field outside the state fairgrounds was transformed into a campground in advance of an eclipse-watching party for 8,500.
"It's one of those 'check the box' kind of things in life," said Hilary O'Hollaren, who drove 30 miles from Portland with her two teenagers and a tent, plus a couple friends.
Astronomers consider a full solar eclipse the grandest of cosmic spectacles.
The Earth, moon and sun line up perfectly every one to three years, briefly turning day into night for a sliver of the planet. But these sights normally are in no man's land, like the vast Pacific or the poles. This will be the first eclipse of the social media era to pass through such a heavily populated area.
The moon hasn't thrown this much shade at the U.S. since 1918. That was the country's last coast-to-coast total eclipse.
In fact, the U.S. mainland hasn't seen a total solar eclipse since 1979   and even then, only five states in the Northwest experienced total darkness before the eclipse veered in Canada.
Monday's total eclipse will cast a shadow that will race through 14 states, entering near Lincoln City, Oregon, at 1:16 p.m. EDT, moving diagonally across the heartland and then exiting near Charleston, South Carolina, at 2:47 p.m. EDT. The path will cut 2,600 miles (4,200 kilometers) across the land and will be just 60 to 70 miles (96 kilometers to 113 kilometers) wide.
Mostly clear skies beckoned along much of the route, according to the National Weather Service .
Shawnee National Forest in southern Illinois will see the longest stretch of darkness: 2 minutes and 44 seconds.
All of North America will get at least a partial eclipse. Central America and the top of South America will also see the moon cover part of the sun.
Michele Arsenault of New York City and her son, Michael, spent Sunday driving south and stopped for dinner in Asheville, North Carolina, at the Tupelo Honey Cafe where several other tables were also occupied by travelers heading to eclipse zones. Arsenault has been comparing weather charts for days as she finalized plans and had lodging reserved in Knoxville, Tennessee, and a reserved parking spot in Sweetwater, about 50 miles (80 kilometers) away. Her son, who's about to start graduate school, said he tagged along because "I appreciate the idea of a good adventure."
NASA and other scientists will be watching and analyzing the eclipse from telescopes the ground and in orbit, the International Space Station, airplanes and scores of high-altitude balloons, which will beam back live video. Citizen scientists will monitor animal and plant behavior as daylight turns into twilight and the temperature drops.
NASA's associate administrator for science missions, Thomas Zurbuchen, took to the skies for a dry run Sunday. He will usher in the eclipse over the Pacific Coast from a NASA plane.
"Can't wait for the cosmic moment Mon morning," he tweeted.
Near Victoria, British Columbia, where 91 percent of the sun will be eclipsed, science and math teacher Clayton Uyeda is planning to watch from a ferry along with his wife. He said he is "expecting to have a real sense of connection with the heavens."
He has similarly lofty hopes for his students if they can bring themselves to look up at the sky instead of down at their electronic devices.
Scientists everywhere agree with Uyeda: Put the phones and cameras down and enjoy the greatest natural show on Earth with your own (protected) eyes.
The only time it's safe to look directly without protective eyewear is during totality, when the sun is 100 percent covered. Otherwise, keep the solar specs on or use pinhole projectors that can cast an image of the eclipse.
The next total solar eclipse in the U.S. will be in 2024. The next coast-to-coast one will not be until 2045.

Date created : 2017-08-21

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115 migrants rescued from truck in eastern Mexico

AUGUST 21, 2017 /  05H:27  GMT/UTC/ZULU TIME
MEXICO CITY - Police in the eastern Mexican state of Veracruz have rescued 115 migrants, including 41 minors, traveling in "in deplorable conditions" in a truck, a state official said on Sunday.
The migrants were found at Playa Munecos in Veracruz, said the official, who was not authorized to speak publicly.
There were 55 men, 19 women, 23 boys and 18 girls. The two people driving the truck were arrested, the official said.
In July, eight migrants were found dead inside a suspicious tractor trailer in a Walmart parking lot in San Antonio in Texas. At least 100 illegal immigrants were packed in the sweltering tractor-trailer and two more died later. The driver was indicted this month.
The number of Central American migrants arrested at the southern U.S. border has fallen sharply since President Donald Trump took office in January.
Migrants have increasingly sought to travel through Mexico in large groups in trucks, in order to avoid Mexican immigration authorities who stepped up efforts to stem the migrant flow after a rise in child migrants in 2014.

BREAKING: US Navy ship collides with oil tanker off Singapore


  • August 21, 2017  04H:32  GMT/UTC/ZULU TIME 
  • From the sectionAsia
The USS John McCainImage copyrightUS NAVY
Image captionThe USS John McCain was performing a routine stop when it struck an oil tanker
by Xian Wan and Biodun Iginla, BBC News, Singapore/Washington DC
Ten sailors are missing and five injured after a US destroyer collided with an oil tanker off the coast of Singapore, the US Navy says.
The USS John McCain was sailing east of Singapore and preparing to stop in the port when it struck the Liberian-flagged vessel.
A wide-ranging search and rescue operation is under way.
It is the second serious collision involving a US Navy ship in recent months.
The collision, which was reported at 05:24 local time on Monday (21:24 GMT on Sunday), happened as the USS John McCain prepared to perform a routine port stop in Singapore.
Initial reports indicated that the ship had "sustained damage" to its port side, but the US Navy said it was now sailing under its own power and heading to Singapore's port.
US military helicopters as well as the Singapore navy and coast guard are conducting search and rescue efforts. Malaysia has also joined in the rescue effort.
The waterways around Singapore are among the busiest in the world, known to convey vast amounts of the world's trade in goods and oil. The Strait of Malacca itself is considered one of the most strategic commercial waterways in the world.
Map shows the location of Singapore and the Strait of Malacca
There are few details on the status of the oil tanker, the Alnic MC, and its crew.
Tracking website MarineTraffic put its position as several kilometres off the eastern coast of the Malaysian state of Johor on Monday morning, about 90 minutes after the incident.
The tanker has a gross tonnage of 30,000, about three times that of USS John McCain and one report suggested it was "ballasting", which means it was not loaded with oil for cargo.
US senator John McCain tweeted that he and his wife were praying for the sailors. The ship is named after his father and grandfather, both of whom served in the US navy.
In June, seven US sailors were killed when the USS Fitzgerald collided with a container ship in Japanese waters near the port city of Yokosuka.
Those who died were found in flooded berths on board the ship after the collision caused a gash under the warship's waterline.
The US Navy said last week that about a dozen sailors would be disciplined, and the commanding officer and other senior crew would be taken off the ship.
According to maritime rules, vessels are supposed to give way to ships on their starboard side.

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