Sunshield Layers Installed on NASA’s James Webb Space Telescope as Mirror Cryo Cooling Testing Commences

The complex multilayered sunshield that will protect the delicate optics and state of the art science instruments of NASA’s James Webb Space Telescope (JWST) is now fully installed on the spacecraft bus in California, completing another major milestone on the path to launch, NASA announced.

The post Sunshield Layers Installed on NASA’s James Webb Space Telescope as Mirror Cryo Cooling Testing Commences appeared first on Universe Today.

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Ole Miss’ NCAA reckoning could come by November

The Rebels will get their day in NCAA court in September.

The NCAA’s investigation into the football program at Ole Miss is now about a half-decade long. The proceedings could come to an end soon.

Ole Miss officials will have their hearing with the NCAA’s Committee on Infractions on Sept. 11. It might take a few days to complete. Once it’s done, the committee is expected to have a verdict on Ole Miss’ case within six to eight weeks. That puts the timeline on a decision in the case at no later than November.

The committee will judge whether (and how severely) Ole Miss violated NCAA rules. Ole Miss already self-imposed a bowl ban for the 2017 season. That’s a common tactic by schools seeking mercy from the NCAA, but the organization could still decide to punish the school heavily if the hearing goes investigators’ way.

The football team is facing 21 allegations that it violated NCAA rules. Those span widely in severity, from standardized test fraud to coaches having prohibited off-campus contact with recruits.

Many of the allegations are Level I charges, the most serious type. Most are alleged to have occurred under the administration of Hugh Freeze, the coach recently fired in an escort scandal. One charge is that Ole Miss boosters paid $13,000 to a recruit who decided to play elsewhere. That’s the most embarrassing one.

The NCAA’s pursuit of Ole Miss has been dogged. At one point, investigators didn’t believe a player’s brother could afford a car on his own, so they launched a probe into whether he’d received illicit benefits. They’ve interviewed players who wound up at other schools, most notably Mississippi State linebacker Leo Lewis.

Freeze wasn’t fired because of Ole Miss’ NCAA problems, but his dismissal was related to the investigation. His predecessor, Houston Nutt, sued the school, alleging it had unfairly sought to pin its NCAA troubles on him.

A records request by Nutt’s camp turned up problematic phone calls from Freeze, which was ironic given Nutt’s previous problems with public records.

Freeze’s offensive line coach, Matt Luke, is serving as Ole Miss’ interim coach this season. He’s stepping into a challenging situation, obviously.

How the school’s NCAA hearing goes will shape its future more than any football game Luke coaches this season.

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Open thread for night owls: Who really owns U.S. farmland? Increasingly, it’s not American farmers

Katy Keiffer at The New Food Economy writes—Who Really Owns American Farmland? The answer, increasingly, is not American farmers:

We’re used to thinking of escalating rents as an urban problem, something suffered mostly by the citizens of booming cities. So when city people look out over a farm—whether they see corn stalks, or long rows of fruit bushes, or cattle herds roving across wild grasses—the price of real estate is probably the last thing that’s going to come to mind. But the soil under farmers’ feet has become much more valuable in the past decade. While urban commercial real estate has skyrocketed in places like New York, San Francisco, and Washington, D.C., powerful investors have also sought to turn a profit by investing in the most valuable rural real estate: farmland. It’s a trend that’s driving up costs up for the people who grow our food, and—slowly—it’s started to change the economics of American agriculture.

Think of it this way: If you wanted to buy Iowa farmland in 1970, the average going price was $419 per acre, according to the Iowa State University Farmland Value Survey. By 2016, the price per acre was $7,183—a drop from the 2013 peak of $8,716, but still a colossal increase of 1,600 percent. For comparison, in the same period, the Dow Jones Industrial Average rose less than half as fast, from $2,633 to $21,476. Farmland, the Economist announced in 2014, had outperformed most asset classes for the previous 20 years, delivering average U.S. returns of 12 percent a year with low volatility.

That boom has resulted in more people and companies bidding on American farmland. And not just farmers. Financial investors, too. Institutional investors have long balanced their portfolios by putting part of their money in natural resources—goldmines and coal fields and forests. But farmland, which was largely held by small property owners and difficult for the financial industry to access, was largely off the table. That changed around 2007. In the wake of the stock market collapse, institutional investors were eager to find new places to park money that might prove more robust than the complex financial instruments that collapsed when the housing bubble burst. What they found was a market ready for change. The owners of farms were aging, and many were looking for a way to get cash out of the enterprises they’d built.

And so the real estate investment trusts, pension funds, and investment banks made their move. Today, the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) estimates that at least 30 percent of American farmland is owned by non-operators who lease it out to farmers. And with a median age for the American farmer of about 55, it is anticipated that in the next five years, some 92,000,000 acres will change hands, with much of it passing to investors rather than traditional farmers. […]

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“For the true measure of agriculture is not the sophistication of its equipment the size of its income or even the statistics of its productivity but the good health of the land.” 
                    ~Wendell Berry, The Unsettling of America: Culture and Agriculture (1977)

TWEET OF THE DAY

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Would it be possible to get economic reporters to stop talking about stock market as measure of economic well being, since it isn’t?

— Dean Baker (@DeanBaker13) August 9, 2017

BLAST FROM THE PAST

At Daily Kos on this date in 2005—Condi: Still out of touch:

Our Secretary of State says:

Rice told TIME she believes the insurgents are “losing steam” as a political force, even though their ability to kill and maim at will appears undiminished. When Rice points to “rather quiet political progress” while the country remains embroiled in chaos, even some of her backers cringe. Says a Republican elder statesman: “I don’t have any sense of where she thinks she’s going on Iraq.”

Insurgents are losing steam? They’ve never been more lethal. They’ve never been more organized. They’ve never been more effective. Yet the best the administration can do is keep talking about turning corners, last throes, and lost steam? We can’t afford to continue with this current crop of incompetents.

On today’s Kagro in the Morning show, Greg Dworkin keeps things on an even keel, revisiting the need for policy groundwork on any movement toward single payer. Trump, meanwhile, threatens nuclear war. Which presumably makes his twice-daily “good news” folder, while Manafort does not.

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Crash Remaster Is Back At No. 1 In Australia And New Zealand

After dropping down to No. 2 in last week’s charts, the Crash Bandicoot remaster is back at No. 1 in Australia and New Zealand. The IGEA has released the latest weekly physical game sales charts for both regions, and the N. Sane Trilogy sold the most on the all-platforms chart in the two markets for the week ended August 6.

The game was outsold by the hugely popular Rugby League Live 4 the week prior. That game, developed by Australian studio Big Ant, landed in the No. 2 position for the latest week in both Australia and New Zealand on the all-platforms chart.

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The N. Sane Trilogy is also a chart-topper in the UK and the US. Speaking about the game’s commercial success earlier this month on an earnings call, Activision Publishing CEO Eric Hirshberg said, “Crash has surpassed all of our expectations by a pretty wide margin.” Activision is considering more remasters of its other games, too.

You can see the full charts for the week ended August 6 below, broken down by platform. As usual, they cover physical game sales only. Another thing to note is that the group that puts together these lists, the Interactive Games & Entertainment Association, does not release specific sales numbers.

Australia

All Platforms

  1. Crash Bandicoot N. Sane Trilogy
  2. Rugby League Live 4
  3. Grand Theft Auto V
  4. Ghost Recon: Wildlands
  5. Splatoon 2
  6. Prey
  7. Elder Scrolls Online: Morrowind
  8. Call of Duty: Black Ops III
  9. Mario Kart 8
  10. Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild

PS4

  1. Crash Bandicoot N. Sane Trilogy
  2. Rugby League Live 4
  3. Grand Theft Auto V
  4. Ghost Recon: Wildlands
  5. Uncharted 4: A Thief’s End
  6. Prey
  7. Call of Duty: Black Ops III
  8. Rainbow Six: Siege
  9. Horizon: Zero Dawn
  10. The Last of Us

Xbox One

  1. Rugby League Live 4
  2. Elder Scrolls Online: Morrowind
  3. Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim
  4. Prey
  5. Call of Duty: Black Ops III
  6. Grand Theft Auto V
  7. Forza Horizon 3
  8. Ghost Recon: Wildlands
  9. Minecraft
  10. Rainbow Six Siege

Wii U

  1. Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild
  2. Star Fox Zero
  3. Mario Tennis: Ultra Smash
  4. Minecraft
  5. Cars 3: Driven to Win
  6. Yoshi’s Wooly World
  7. Mario Party 10
  8. Mario Kart 8
  9. Super Mario 3D World
  10. Super Smash Bros.

PlayStation Vita

  1. Sword Art Online: Hollow Realization
  2. God Wars: Future Past
  3. Minecraft
  4. Phineas & Ferb: Day of Doofenshmirtz
  5. World of Final Fantasy
  6. Lego Star Wars: The Force Awakens
  7. Looney Tunes Galactic Sports
  8. Operation Babel: New Tokyo Legacy
  9. The Legend of Heroes: Trails of Cold Steel
  10. Aegis of Earth: Protonovus Assault

3DS

  1. Miitopia
  2. Pokemon Sun
  3. Hey! Pikmin
  4. Pokemon Moon
  5. Donkey Kong Country: Returns
  6. Luigi’s Mansion: Dark Moon
  7. Mario Kart 7
  8. Super Mario Maker
  9. Super Smash Bros.
  10. Ever Oasis

Nintendo Switch

  1. Splatoon 2
  2. Mario Kart 8
  3. Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild
  4. Arms
  5. 1-2-Switch
  6. Just Dance 2017
  7. Ultra Street Fighter II: The Final Challengers
  8. Lego City Undercover
  9. Disgaea 5 Complete
  10. Super Bomberman R

PC

  1. The Sims 4
  2. Prey
  3. Battlefield 1
  4. The Sims 4 City Living
  5. Command & Conquer: The Ultimate Collection
  6. Ghost Recon: Wildlands
  7. The Sims 4 Get to Work
  8. World of Warcraft: Legion
  9. Rainbow Six Siege
  10. Grand Theft Auto V

New Zealand

All-Platforms

  1. Crash Bandicoot N. Sane Trilogy
  2. Rugby League Live 4
  3. Tekken 7
  4. Grand Theft Auto V
  5. Call of Duty: Infinite Warfare
  6. EA Sports UFC 2
  7. Horizon: Zero Dawn
  8. Battlefield 1
  9. Fallout 4
  10. Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim

PS4

  1. Crash Bandicoot N. Sane Trilogy
  2. Rugby League Live 4
  3. Tekken 7
  4. Grand Theft Auto V
  5. Horizon: Zero Dawn
  6. Call of Duty: Infinite Warfare
  7. EA Sports UFC 2
  8. Fallout 4
  9. Doom
  10. Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim

Xbox One

  1. Forza Horizon 3
  2. Call of Duty: Infinite Warfare
  3. Rugby League Live 4
  4. Battlefield 1
  5. Grand Theft Auto V
  6. Forza Motorsport 6
  7. Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim
  8. Minecraft
  9. Ghost Recon: Wildlands
  10. Call of Duty: Black Ops III

Wii U

  1. Star Fox Zero
  2. Pikmin 3
  3. Yoshi’s Wooly World
  4. Batman: Arkham Origins
  5. Terraria
  6. Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild
  7. Art Academy Atelier
  8. Captain Toad: Treasure Tracker
  9. Darksiders II
  10. Disney Infinity 3.0

PlayStation Vita

  1. BlazBlue: Chrono Phantasma Extend
  2. Child of Light
  3. Gravity Rush
  4. Lego Batman 3: Beyond Gotham
  5. Lego The Hobbit
  6. Lego: Jurassic World
  7. Phineas & Ferb: Day of Doofenshmirtz
  8. The Lego Movie Video Game

3DS

  1. Pokemon Moon
  2. Pokemon Sun
  3. Bravely Default: Flying Fairy
  4. Miitopia
  5. Pokemon Alpha Sapphire
  6. Super Mario Maker
  7. Mario Kart 7
  8. Pokemon X
  9. Hey! Pikmin
  10. Harvest Moon: Skytree Village

Nintendo Switch

  1. Splatoon 2
  2. Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild
  3. Mario Kart 8
  4. 1-2-Switch
  5. Arms
  6. Just Dance 2017
  7. Ultra Street Fighter II: The Final Challengers
  8. Cars 3: Driven to Win
  9. Lego City Undercover
  10. Disgaea 5 Complete

PC

  1. The Sims 4
  2. Call of Duty: Infinite Warfare
  3. The Sims 4 Get To Work
  4. Overwatch
  5. Battlefield 1
  6. Starcraft II: Battle Chest
  7. The Sims 4 Get Together
  8. Prey
  9. Titanfall 2
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More Call Of Duty: WW2 Campaign Details Revealed

The September issue of the Game Informer magazine is out now, and its cover story is about this November’s hugely anticipated Call of Duty: WWII. The in-depth pieces touches on many aspects of the game, and reveals some of the missions players will take part in.

One of these, called “The Wolf’s Den,” will see players infiltrating a German base by wearing Nazi disguises. You need to interact with German soldiers and say and do the right things so as not to arouse suspicion. It sounds pretty cool and unique.

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“This covert operation is a different play experience than the rest of the game and features unique tools and techniques to make it through an engaging, deadly game of cat and mouse,” Game Informer reported.

The game’s campaign overall takes players across Europe. The first mission is a recreation of the D-Day invasion in Normandy on Omaha Beach. According to Game Informer, it has a Saving Private Ryan vibe (that movie opened with an intense and dramatic beach scene), and it will include a “brutal, intimate” melee encounter with an enemy soldier.

Some of the other missions include Operation Cobra (the Allied campaign into France), Train (where you work alongside British forces to stop a German train), and Hurgten Forest (moving into the Rhine on your way to Berlin), among others.

Also in the interview, Sledgehammer Games boss Michael Condrey spoke about the inclusion of Nazi iconography in the game. He said the studio “wrestled with” this topic throughout the development of the game. Ultimately, it was decided to include swastikas in the campaign but not multiplayer or Zombies.

“It was important for us to balance the authenticity of the game and era, and the dark notes that come with the genocide that the Nazis brought to bear. We need to balance and respect that but also recognize this is a piece of entertainment and not dishonor the loss of life that happened there. So in the campaign where it’s about this rich narrative and this authentic depiction and the darkness that happened there, we included the swastika, but in multiplayer, zombies, and social space it didn’t feel appropriate; it didn’t feel like it added honor to the cause.”

Game Informer‘s September issue is available right now.

Call of Duty: WWII launches on November 3 for PlayStation 4, Xbox One, and PC. A beta will be held ahead of launch, starting on August 25 for PS4.

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