Archive for June 20th, 2008

Newsweek: The latest Newsweek Poll shows the Democrat with a 15-point lead over McCain.

Barack finally has his bounce. For weeks many political experts and pollsters have been wondering why the race between Democrat Barack Obama and Republican John McCain had stayed so tight, even after the Illinois senator wrested the nomination from Hillary Clinton. With numbers consistently showing rock-bottom approval ratings for President Bush and a large majority of Americans unhappy with the country’s direction, the opposing-party candidate should, in the normal course, have attracted more disaffected voters. Now it looks as if Obama is doing just that. A new NEWSWEEK Poll shows that he has a substantial double-digit lead, 51 percent to 36 percent, over McCain among registered voters nationwide.

Newsweek: The latest Newsweek Poll shows the Democrat with a 15-point lead over McCain.

Barack finally has his bounce. For weeks many political experts and pollsters have been wondering why the race between Democrat Barack Obama and Republican John McCain had stayed so tight, even after the Illinois senator wrested the nomination from Hillary Clinton. With numbers consistently showing rock-bottom approval ratings for President Bush and a large majority of Americans unhappy with the country’s direction, the opposing-party candidate should, in the normal course, have attracted more disaffected voters. Now it looks as if Obama is doing just that. A new NEWSWEEK Poll shows that he has a substantial double-digit lead, 51 percent to 36 percent, over McCain among registered voters nationwide.

John McCain is already swiftboating Obama through Vets For Freedom.

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CNN: Vice President Dick Cheney should testify before Congress about his role in the leaking of a CIA agent’s identity, former White House spokesman Scott McClellan told members of the House Judiciary Committee on Friday.

“The vice president has information that has not been shared publicly,” McClellan said in response to a question from Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz, a Florida Democrat, about whom Congress should question in connection with the leaking of Valerie Plame Wilson’s name to the media.

“You could go down the list: Karl Rove, Ari Fleischer …” McClellan added, referring to President Bush’s former political adviser and first White House spokesman.

McClellan said he does not think the president knew in advance about the Plame Wilson leak.

Bloomberg: The existence of ice on Mars was confirmed today by NASA scientists, the first time frozen water has been sampled on another planet. Water in liquid form is an essential ingredient for life.

Whitish, dice-sized chunks, which were dug from the rocky red soil and warmed in the sun, vanished four days after the National Aeronautics and Space Administration‘s Phoenix probe dug them up June 15. They confirm what NASA satellites have suggested for years: Frozen water exists several centimeters beneath Mars’s surface.

Scientists believe ice exists on planets including Pluto, though Phoenix is the first probe to confirm it on the ground. The survey is part of NASA’s theme in Mars exploration: follow the water.

“We’ve hit what we’re looking for,” said Mark Lemmon, an atmospheric scientist at Texas A&M University in College Station and co-investigator on the NASA project. “The job now is to find out what’s mixed in with the ice.” He spoke at a press conference in Tucson, Arizona.

The Phoenix’s robotic arm also hit a hard surface yesterday while digging in a different spot, raising scientists’ hopes that they might uncover a larger ice layer to sample, NASA said.

“When I look over this flat plain of rock and dirt, it’s amazing what we’re looking at,” said principal investigator Peter Smith of the University of Arizona in Tucson, which is co- managing the project. “If you got a giant broom and swept if off, it’s a big ice sheet.”

Ice Below Surface?

NASA satellites suggest about a quarter of Mars has ice beneath the surface, primarily at the polar regions.

The agency’s plan is to gather up ice and dirt, then deliver it to the Phoenix’s airtight ovens. The matchbox-size ovens will then bake the sample.

On Mars, the boiling point of water is just 4 degrees Celsius. Under the planet’s faint atmosphere, the water will quickly vaporize, Smith said.

Before it does, the probe will analyze the samples for any long-chain carbon molecules such as amino acids, the building blocks of life.

“That’s what you need to have for a habitable zone on Mars,” Smith said.

The University of Arizona team ruled out the possibility that the material might be dry ice or salt.

Salt wouldn’t vaporize, and dry ice, or frozen carbon dioxide, exists at much cooler temperatures than found at the Phoenix landing site.

The ground temperature at Phoenix’s location at this time of year falls to as cold as minus 112 degrees Fahrenheit (minus 80 degrees Celsius) at night and can warm up to minus 25 degrees Fahrenheit during the day.

The U.S. has declared the planet NASA’s ultimate destination in the agency’s newest effort, the Constellation program.

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