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‘It’s new territory’: why is Betelgeuse glowing so brightly and behaving so strangely? – The Guardian

One of the brightest stars in the sky is behaving strangely, pulsating from bright to dim twice as fast as usual and giving scientists an unprecedented insight into how stars die.

Betelgeuse, the closest red giant to Earth, has long been understood to move between brighter and dimmer in 400-day cycles. But from late 2019 to early 2020, it underwent what astrophysicists called “the great dimming”, as a dust cloud obscured our view of the star.

Now, it is glowing at 150% of its normal brightness, and is cycling between brighter and dimmer at 200-day intervals – twice as fast as usual – according to astrophysicist Andrea Dupree of the Harvard-Smithsonian Centre for Astrophysics. It is currently the seventh brightest star in the night sky – up three places from its usual tenth brightest.

In the southern hemisphere sky it can be spotted glowing brightly in the early evening, at the shoulder of the Orion constellation. As days grow shorter in the northern hemisphere, it will be visible there too.

Betelgeuse is expected to explode some time in the next 10,000 to 100,000 years.

“One of the coolest things about Betelgeuse is that we’re watching the final stages of big star evolution play out almost in real time for us, which we’ve never really been able to study in this much depth before,” says Dr Sara Webb, an astrophysicist at Swinburne University of Technology in Australia.

Observing its behaviour gives important insights into the behaviour of red giants before supernove explosions. When it does eventually explode, it could – over the course of a week – grow so bright that it will be visible during daylight, and cast shadows at night.

There are records from ancient Egypt of what appears to be a star exploding as a supernova. The Egyptians described the appearance of a “second sun” in the sky, says Webb.

The great dimming was caused by the star spitting out a lump of gas and dust, like chewing gum: or what scientists call a “surface mass ejection” caused by an “anomalously hot convective plume”.

That lump was several times the mass of Earth’s moon, says Webb.

“If we were to throw one of our arms away from us, it changes the way our forces move in our body. And a similar thing happened with poor Betelguese,” says Webb.

“So it’s pushed all of this mass away and now its core and its stability are still trying to recover.”

The paper Dupree co-authored with other scientists from Harvard and the University of California, Berkeley, concludes that it will be five to 10 years before Betelgeuse returns to its normal 400-day cycles.

“Since the dimming, Betelgeuse’s light and radial velocity curves have been markedly different from its past,” the authors write.

“It’s new territory,” says Webb. “We haven’t seen this before.”

In Greek astronomy, Betelgeuse (pronounced “beetlejuice”, like the Tim Burton film character) marks one of the shoulders in the constellation Orion, but its name comes from the Arabic bat al-jawzāʾ, which means “the giant’s shoulder”.

Aboriginal Australians discovered the star’s bright and dim cycles long before western astronomers, who until 1596 believed that stars were “unchanging and unvariable”, according to the Conversation.

In the cosmology of the Kokatha Mula people in South Australia, Betelgeuse marks the right hand and fire magic of a hunter named Nyeeruna – this is the hunter’s fire magic, which he uses to try to overpower a protective older sister named Kambugudha. As the two figures battle, Nyeeruna’s fire magic grows brighter, dimmer and brighter again.

While Betelgeuse is very unlikely to explode in our lifetimes, “we don’t know”, says Webb. “I mean I’ve always got all of my fingers and toes crossed that maybe we’ll get lucky.”

We’re also watching this in the past, she explains: the light from Betelgeuse is more than 600 years old.

“Theoretically it probably hasn’t, but theoretically it could have exploded and we wouldn’t know.”

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Minister Mliswa-Chikoka submits CV to contest councillor post after primaries defeat – – New

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By James Muonwa l Mashonaland West Correspondent

IN a rare climbdown Mashonaland West Provincial Affairs Minister, Mary Mliswa-Chikoka, who recently lost in Zanu PF parliamentary primary elections, has filed her curriculum vitae (CV) for consideration as Hurungwe Rural District councillor courtesy of the newly-introduced women’s quota.

The novel system is designed to increase the number of female politicians in the male-dominated lower-tier devolved government structure.

According to a leaked list seen by, the outgoing Hurungwe West MP becomes the latest high-profile sitting legislator to swallow her pride and submit her name to contest for councillorship.

The minister surrendered her party rights to retain the parly seat to little-known but seasoned activist, Chinjai Kambuzuma via an election result that shocked the body politick.

Mliswa-Chikoka, who doubles as party provincial chairman, was not picking calls when contacted her to confirm the development.

In her unenviable league are defeated Zanu PF Hurungwe women’s quota lawmaker, Goodluck Kwaramba, Sanyati Proportional Representation MP Josephine Shava and Mhangura MP Precious Chinhamo-Masango.


Kwaramba was beaten by Nyembezi Nyamukurira in recently-held Zanu PF internal polls while Shava, who is facing criminal charges of ballot papers robbery, lost to Andrew Kani. Chinhamo-Masango failed to retain the right to represent the former mining settlement of Mhangura after suffering heavy defeat at the hands of former Lands Minister, Douglas Mombeshora.

Kwaramba told she decided to serve the party in a lesser role.

“I don’t really see it as demoting myself, but since l failed to retain the right to keep my parliamentary seat l thought l would be useful in the role of councillor considering that l have the qualifications and experience which are qualities that lack in most women,” said Kwaramba.

In a bid to scrap political survival and remain relevant, provincial Women’s League deputy political commissar, Joylene Munduna who lost to Supa Madiro in Magunje constituency, has also offered her services as rural councillor.

In Zvimba constituency, ldah Kamushinda, who challenged Local Government Deputy Minister, Marian Chombo in Zvimba North, threw her candidature in the ring for consideration as Zvimba Rural District Council official.

Beleaguered Justice Minister Ziyambi Ziyambi’s personal assistant and district coordinating committee (DCC) member, Denica Makota is also eyeing a seat in council while Phillipa Matunja who was walloped by Francis Mkwangwarirwa in primaries also wants a bite of the cherry.

Zvimba DCC Women’s Affairs executive, Zandile Maseko is wishful of a return as councillor after failing to make the grade in just-ended dog-eat-dog internal voting.

In Sanyati, Enia Tshuma hopes to land a councillor post courtesy of the new selection criteria meant to promote female participation in politics.

Perennial campaigner, Magrene Chidarikire submitted her CV for consideration for a Chinhoyi Municipality position after humiliation at the mercy of Women’s Affairs Deputy Minister, Jennifer Mhlanga.

Young Women for Economic Development (ED) executive member, Auxillia Chemhuru, who contested and lost to Joseph James in Chinhoyi Ward 8 local authority Zanu PF primary elections and Ruth Chikukwa, popularly known as Boko Haram, are also in the race to secure seats in Chinhoyi Municipality chambers courtesy of the quota system.

Effervescent Makonde RDC sitting councillor Martha Paul confirmed to this publication she cherishes another stint in council after losing to party provincial administration secretary, Misheck Nyarubero while National Youth League external relations secretary, Valerie Makonza put her name up for nomination as councillor.

This publication gathered CVs were sent  to the provincial command for onward transmission to Zanu PF Headquarters in Harare for vetting before polls are held to put candidates in ranking order.

Harmonised elections tallies will have a bearing on the number of female candidates each political party will second to various local authorities.

According to sources, an estimated 74 women’s quota councillor posts are up for grabs across Mashonaland West out of 185 CVs received from Zanu PF aspirants.

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CCC Masvingo councillor acquitted on incitement charge – – New

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By Staff Reporter

CITIZENS Coalition for Change (CCC) councillor for Masvingo ward 7, Richard Musekiwa has been acquitted on charges of inciting public violence and convening a ward feedback meeting without notifying the police.

Musekiwa was  acquitted Tuesday at Masvingo magistrate courts following a full trial and was represented by lawyer Collins Maboke.

The charges against Musekiwa arose after a resident was assaulted during a ward feedback meeting he had convened.

According to the State Musekiwa had breached the Maintenance of Peace and Order Act.

“Verifications were done through the police and indications were that they (police) had not authorised the meeting and this led to the arrest of the councillor,” reads part of the State outline.

However during the trail his lawyer argued that Musekiwa, as a councillor, was empowered by the Urban Councils Act to convene such meetings.

“The meeting was done at his private place of  residence and it was a statutory meeting in terms of section 101 of the Urban Councils Act,” Maboke said.

Magistrate Godwin Chizhande acquitted Musekiwa as a result of lack of merit in the State’s case.

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US actor Danny Masterson found guilty on two rape counts – BBC

Actor Danny Masterson arrives at Clara Shortridge Foltz Criminal Justice Center in Los Angeles, CA on Wednesday, May 31, 2023 with wife Bijou Phillips Los Angeles Times via Getty Images

A jury in Los Angeles has found US actor Danny Masterson guilty on two out of three counts of rape.

The star of That ’70s Show, a TV series, faces up to 30 years in prison. He was led from court in handcuffs.

Three women, all former members of the Church of Scientology, accused the actor of sexual assault at his Hollywood home from 2001-03.

Prosecutors argued Masterson had relied on his status as a prominent Scientologist to avoid accountability.

The jury of seven women and five men was unable to reach a verdict on a third count after a week of deliberations, ending up deadlocked at 8-4.

One of his victims, who was raped in 2003, said in a statement quoted by the Associated Press: “I am experiencing a complex array of emotions – relief, exhaustion, strength, sadness – knowing that my abuser, Danny Masterson, will face accountability for his criminal behavior.”

Masterson’s wife, actress and model Bijou Phillips, wept as he was led away, CBS News reports. Other family and friends sat stone-faced.

Another jury in an earlier trial was unable to reach a verdict in December 2022.

Prosecutors chose to retry Masterson and this time the judge allowed attorneys to present new evidence that had been barred from the first trial.

Though the actor was not charged with drugging his victims, the jury heard testimony that the women had been dosed before he raped them.

Masterson was first accused of rape in 2017 during the height of the #MeToo movement. He responded by saying that he had not been charged or convicted of a crime, and that in the climate at the time “it seems as if you are presumed guilty the moment you are accused”.

Charges came after a three-year investigation by the Los Angeles Police Department. Prosecutors did not file charges in two other cases because of insufficient evidence and the statute of limitations expiring.

Throughout the trial, prosecutors argued that the Church of Scientology had helped cover up the assaults – an allegation the organisation has categorically denied.

At the time of the assaults, Masterson and all three of his accusers were Scientologists. Several of the women said it took them years to come forward because Church of Scientology officials discouraged them from reporting the rape to police.

Instead, they were forced to rely on the Church’s “internal justice system”, prosecutors said.

Scientology officials told one survivor she would be kicked out of the Church unless she signed a non-disclosure agreement and accepted a payment of $400,000 (£320,000), according to prosecutors.

Judge Charlaine Olmedo allowed both sides to discuss the dogma and practices of Scientology.

But Deputy District Attorney Ariel Anson told jurors during the trial: “The Church taught his victims, ‘Rape isn’t rape, you caused this, and above all, you are never allowed to go to law enforcement.'”

Throughout the trial, the defence tried to undermine the credibility of the “Jane Does” by focusing on inconsistencies in their testimony and their supposed drive to get “revenge” against their former Church.

During closing arguments, Masterson’s defence lawyer said of the survivors: “If you are looking for motives why people are not being truthful… there are motives all over the place.”

Although the Church of Scientology was not a defendant in the case, before closing arguments began, a lawyer with ties to the Church emailed the district attorney’s office to complain about the way the Church was portrayed during the retrial.

The defence also argued that the prosecution had relied heavily on testimony about drugging because there was an absence of evidence of any force or violence.

Masterson’s lawyers tried, unsuccessfully, to have a mistrial declared.

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