Grind for June 10th, 2018
“If I were dropped out of a plane into the ocean and told the nearest land was a thousand miles away, I’d still swim. And I’d despise the one who gave up.”
– Abraham Maslow
Out Of This World
NASA finds organic matter on Mars
NASA published two reports Thursday unveiling key discoveries about Mars that could change everything we thought we knew about the Red Planet.
The first report theorizes why the Martian atmosphere has seasonal variations in methane gas, while the second determines evidence of organic matter that could be left over from ancient life.
These discoveries were possible thanks to the Curiosity rover, which has been exploring the surface of Mars since 2012.
Researchers confirmed the presence of methane in the Martian atmosphere in 2015. A few years later, they determined the methane was leaking from pockets of ice and that spikes in methane levels occurred when the ice melted during the summer months.
Methane is important because it typically comes from biological sources. This suggests that the methane leaking from Mars’ ice pockets could have been made by ancient life.
Evidence of organic matter in Martian bedrock, discovered in soil samples collected from the Gale Crater, also supports the theory of ancient life on Mars.
“The detection of organic molecules and methane on Mars has far-ranging implications in the light of potential past life on Mars,” explains astrobiologist Inge Loes ten Kate. “Curiosity has shown that Gale Crater was habitable around 3.5 billion years ago, with conditions comparable to those on the early Earth, where life evolved around that time.”
A Bad Idea
Obama Administration sought to give Iran access to US financial system
According to a report released last week by Senate Republicans, the Obama Administration tried to give Iran access to the US financial system while simultaneously promising Americans that such access was not a part of the nuclear deal with Iran.
In February 2016, the US Treasury Department “issued a specific license to Bank Muscat to authorize the conversion of Iran’s rials to euros through ‘any United States depository institution,'” reads the report. “Even after the specific license was issued, US government officials maintained in congressional testimony that Iran would not be granted access to the US financial system.”
According to the report, the Obama-era Treasury Department sought to allow Iran to convert $5.7 billion from rials into euros by first exchanging them for USD.
Utilizing the US financial system was “the most efficient” way to convert the money, even though sanctions prohibited it. The Obama Administration approached two major banks to facilitate the transaction, but both banks balked at the idea of working with Iran.
The transaction never occurred.
A former Obama official insists the ‘special license’ grated to Iran was not a violation of US law or of US sanctions because it was designed only to give Iran access to reserves of its own money freed up by the JCPOA.
Republicans have portrayed the license as a ‘workaround’ since issuing the license to Iran was not technically legal.
While the Obama Administration pondered how to address Iran’s complaints over the lack of financial benefits related to the JCPOA, media sources reported the US was considering additional sanctions relief on Iran – including licenses that would allow Iran a limited number of transactions in USD.
The idea was voted down by lawmakers in both parties, who argued that Tehran should not be granted any more concessions unless it was willing to give up more.
GOOD TO THE LAST DROP:
Did you know… Shakespeare invented over 1,700 words that we use today.