Good Morning Sky Dancers!!
Today is 2014’s autumnal equinox, when day and night are equal in length. From now on, the days will get shorter and the nights longer, as we approach winter. Actually, autumn officially began in the Northern Hemisphere last night at 10:29 Eastern time.
Astronomically speaking…the fall season…comes to the Northern Hemisphere on Tuesday, September 23rd at 2:29 Universal Time (10:29 p.m. EDT on Monday, the 22nd). At that moment, the Sun shines directly on Earth’s equator, heading south as seen in the sky. For us northerners, this event is called the autumnal equinox….
The apparent position of the Sun in our sky is farther north or farther south depending on the time of year due to the globe’s axial tilt. Earth’s rotational axis does not point straight up and down, like the handle of a perfectly spinning top, but is slanted about 23½° with respect to our orbit around the Sun.
Another way to think of this is that the plane defined by Earth’s orbit around the Sun (called the ecliptic) is tilted with respect to the planet’s equator. From our perspective, the Sun follows the ecliptic in its path through the sky throughout the year. Each day the Sun’s daily arc moves northward or southward, depending on the time of the year. To observers at northern latitudes (in the U.S., Canada, and Europe, for example), the Sun appears to sneak higher in the sky from late December to late June, only to drop down again from late June through late December. The equinox occurs when the Sun is halfway through each journey.
This axial tilt also produces our seasons. When Earth is on one side of its orbit, the Northern Hemisphere is tipped toward the Sun and receives more direct solar rays (and more daylight hours) that produce the familiar climes of summer. Six months later, when Earth is on the opposite side of its orbit, the Northern Hemisphere is tipped away from the Sun. The slanting solar rays heat the ground less and daylight is shorter, producing the colder winter season.
What else happens at the equinox?
Day and night are nearly the same length; the word “equinox” comes from the Latin aequinoctium, meaning “equal night,” according to the Oxford English Dictionary. However, a poke around your almanac will show that day and night are not precisely 12 hours each, for two reasons: first, sunrise and sunset are defined as when the Sun’s top edge — not its center— crosses the horizon. Second, Earth’s thick atmosphere refracts the Sun’s apparent position slightly when the solar disk sits very low on the horizon.
The Sun rises due east and sets due west, as seen from everywhere on Earth; the equinoxes are the only times of the year when this occurs.Should you be standing on the equator, the Sun would pass exactly overhead at midday.
Were you standing at the North Pole or South Pole, the Sun would skim completely around the horizon.
Mabon is a harvest festival, the second of three, that encourages pagans to “reap what they sow,” both literally and figuratively. It is the time when night and day stand equal in duration; thus is it a time to express gratitude, complete projects and honor a moment of balance.
“Mabon is a time to reflect on the previous year, when we can celebrate our successes (likened to bringing in the harvest) and assess which crops, projects, or dreams didn’t come to fruition,” the Los Angeles-based pagan leader Laurie Lovekraft told HuffPost.
The pagan website The White Goddess explains:
This is the time to look back not just on the past year, but also your life, and to plan for the future. In the rhythm of the year, Mabon is a time of rest and celebration, after the hard work of gathering the crops. Warm autumn days are followed by chill nights, as the Old Sun God returns to the embrace of the Goddess.
The holiday is named after the Welsh God, Mabon, son of Earth Mother goddess Modron.
Endless War News
The US (and some Arab allies) have carried out airstrikes in Syria. From The Guardian, US confirms 14 air strikes against Isis in Syria.
The most intensive barrage of air strikes launched against Islamic State (Isis) since the US fight against the terror group began last month thundered into northern Syria until after dawn on Tuesday, heralding a new phase of a war that Sunni regional powers have vowed to help lead.
Large explosions were reported in the group’s stronghold of Raqqa, in eastern Syria, as well as in Idlib province. There were unconfirmed reports that attacks had also taken place near Deir Azzor and western Aleppo.
A Pentagon statement said the 14 strikes against Isis targets were carried out with Bahrain, Jordan, Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates and Qatar. Jordan confirmed it its airforce had “destroyed a number of targets that belong to some terrorist groups that sought to commit terror acts inside Jordan” without making explicit reference to Syria.
The Pentagon said warplanes, drones and Tomahawk missiles were used in the attacks, which targeted several areas including IS stronghold Raqqa.
Syria’s foreign ministry said its UN envoy was informed about the strikes against IS, which controls large swathes of Syria and Iraq.
Activists say at least 70 IS militants were killed in the strikes….
It said a total of 14 strikes destroyed or damaged IS training compounds, command and control facilities, vehicles and storage sites.
The US military will continue to conduct air strikes against IS targets in Iraq and Syria, it added.
US Gen Martin Dempsey, America’s highest-ranking uniformed military officer, said the strikes were conducted to show IS militants they had no safe haven. “We certainly achieved that,” he told reporters.
Separately, Centcom said US forces also attacked a network of al-Qaeda veterans named Khorasan who had established a safe haven west of Aleppo and were plotting imminent attacks against the West.
Experts say members of the secretive group are believed to co-operate with al-Nusra Front – Syria’s al-Qaeda-affiliate – using its training bases and resources.
President Obama plans to speak about the Syrian strikes this morning at 10AM.
The U.S. Treasury Department has issued a new tax rules designed to prevent companies from moving operations out of the U.S. Bloomberg Businessweek reports, Lew Tries to Limit Tax-Cut Deals With Inversion Crackdown.
Treasury Secretary Jacob J. Lew’s crackdown on inversions will get an immediate test as eight U.S. companies with pending deals decide whether to proceed — and other companies contemplating a foreign address now have to think twice.
That’s exactly what Lew had in mind.
“This action will significantly diminish the ability of inverted companies to escape U.S. taxation,” Lew told reporters on a conference call yesterday. “For some companies considering deals, today’s action will mean that inversions no longer make economic sense.”
The Treasury announcement heightened the tension between the government and companies considering obtaining a foreign address to lower their tax bills. Lew and President Barack Obama made clear that they were prepared to use rule-making authority to try stop some deals, even at the risk of a backlash from the companies and from Republicans, who already complained that Lew’s moves went too far.
A wave of inversions caught lawmakers’ attention this year when large companies such as Pfizer Inc. (PFE) andWalgreen Co. (WAG) explored transactions andMedtronic Inc. (MDT), AbbVie Inc. and Burger King Worldwide Inc. (BKW) moved forward with deals.
Treasury officials took action under five sections of the U.S. tax code to make inversions harder and less profitable, removing some of the appeal that has made the transactions more common in recent years, particularly in the pharmaceutical industry.
In an inversion, an American company reincorporates for tax purposes in a tax-friendlier country such as the U.K. or Ireland, typically while maintaining much of their operations in the U.S. Most recent inversions sprang from mergers of a U.S. firm with a smaller foreign firm after regulatory steps taken during President Barack Obama’s first term curbed other types of inversions.
The Treasury rules will make it harder for companies that invert to use cash accumulating abroad—a big draw in recent deals. In addition, the government has made it more difficult to complete these overseas mergers.
The tax changes took effect immediately, officials said, and applied to all deals that hadn’t closed by Monday.
And from the AP via Bloomberg, Ahead of the Bell: Inversion rules sting stocks.
Shares of several companies stumbled Tuesday before markets opened and a day after the Treasury Department announced new regulations that aim to make it tougher to pull off overseas mergers and acquisitions that trim U.S. corporate tax bills.
The new measures attempt to keep companies from finding ways to access earnings from a foreign subsidiary without paying U.S. taxes, including “hopscotch” loans, in which companies shift earnings by lending money to the new foreign parent company while skipping over the U.S.-based company. Another rule change would make it harder for merged or acquired companies to benefit from lower foreign taxes by tightening the application of a law that says the American company’s shareholders must own less than 80 percent of the new, combined company.
About 50 U.S. companies have carried out moves known as inversions in the past decade, and more are considering it, according to the nonpartisan Congressional Research Service.
An inversion happens when a U.S. corporation and a foreign company combine, with the new parent company based in the foreign country. For tax purposes, the U.S. company becomes foreign-owned, even if all the executives and most of its operations remain in the U.S. Inversions can help companies generate significant tax savings over time in part because the United States has the highest corporate income tax rate in the industrialized world, at 35 percent.
Awwwwwwww . . . too bad corporate bigwigs. I so don’t feel sorry for you.
I have a few offbeat stories for you. The first one is especially for JJ. ABC News reports, ‘Little People, Big World’ Star Jeremy Roloff Is Married.
“Little People, Big World” star Jeremy Roloff, 24, married Audrey Mirabella Botti Saturday afternoon in Oregon.
Jeremy’s twin brother, Zach, was his best man, while the bride wore a gown designed by Lauren Graebner of Eva’s by Reclamation, People magazine reports.
The bridesmaids wore flower crowns and Botti, 23, wore a larger crown designed by Vanessa Schmidt. Roloff wore a suit from ProperSuit, which he shared on social media.
More details, photos, and tweets at the link.
From the Leicester Mercury (UK), Pictures released of two 1,000-year-old skeletons holding hands found in Leicestershire.
Pictures were released today by the University of Leicester, showing two 1,000-year-old skeletons holding hands, which have been discovered.
The pair of skeletons, which are centuries-old and holding hands have been uncovered at a ‘lost’ chapel by archaeologists.
The Mercury reported last week that the remains, of a man and a woman, were found at the Chapel of St Morrell, an ancient site of pilgrimage in Hallaton.
It is believed the pair holding hands are of a similar age.
Whoever they were, the man and woman must have died at the same time.
Leading the project is professional archaeologist Vicky Score, of the University of Leicester, who works on the project during her holidays.
She said carbon-dating on nine skeletons uncovered since the dig began had revealed them to be from the 14th century.
“’We have seen similar skeletons before from Leicester where a couple has been buried together in a single grave. The main question we find ourselves asking is why were they buried up there?” she added.
“There is a perfectly good church in Hallaton. This leads us to wonder if the chapel could have served as some sort of special place of burial at the time.”
See more photos at ABC News.
I found earlier articles about skeletons of couples embracing each other. From NBC News, Prehistoric Romeo and Juliet Discovered.
ROME, Feb. 7, 2007 — They died young and, by the looks of it, in love. Two 5,000-year-old skeletons found locked in an embrace near the city where Shakespeare set the star-crossed tale “Romeo and Juliet” have sparked theories the remains of a far more ancient love story have been found.
Archaeologists unearthed the skeletons dating back to the late Neolithic period outside Mantua, 25 miles south of Verona, the city of Shakespeare’s story of doomed love.
Buried between 5,000 and 6,000 years ago, the prehistoric pair are believed to have been a man and a woman and are thought to have died young, because their teeth were found intact, said Elena Menotti, the archaeologist who led the dig.
“As far as we know, it’s unique,” Menotti told The Associated Press by telephone from Milan. “Double burials from the Neolithic are unheard of, and these are even hugging.”
Another one from HuffPo, Skeletons ‘Embracing’ In Death May Represent Gruesome Ancient Siberian Custom.
For years researchers in the Novosibirsk region of Siberia have puzzled over dozens of ancient grave sites containing bodies buried face to face, some seemingly with hands clasped as if in an eternal embrace.
But soon DNA tests may help provide an answer to the key question: Are these the graves of star-crossed lovers, or could the remains be evidence of a gruesome ancient custom?
The bodies are part of a massive burial ground located in the Siberian village of Staryi Tartas, the Siberian Times reported. Altogether, close to 600 tombs have been discovered in the area, dozens of which contain the so-called “embracing” couples.
The graves are believed to belong to the Andronovo culture, which existed in the area during the second and first millennia B.C.E., according to Britannica. Yet many of the bodies in the graves are believed to be from the 15th, 16th and 17th Centuries B.C.E., the Siberian Times reported….
“We can fantasize a lot about all this,” Vyacheslav Molodin, an archaeology and ethnography expert at the Russian Academy of Sciences, told the Siberian Times. “We can allege that husband died and the wife was killed to be interred with him as we see in some Scythian burials, or maybe the grave stood open for some time and they buried the other person or persons later, or maybe it was really simultaneous death.”
What else is happening? Please post your thoughts and links in the comment thread.