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The Spill: The Hyperloop Train

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Faster than a speeding bullet? maybe. Something right out of a science fiction film? Definitely. The hyperloop capsule took its first test with a resounding success, taking its two passengers on a 15-second jaunt at 100 miles per hour. The highspeed train is one of the newest inventions to help improve travel time and safety.

On November 8, Virgin Hyperloop’s CTO and co-founder, Josh Giegel, and director of passenger experience, Sara Luchian, boarded the futuristic vehicle to see how well it would perform. Just 35 miles north of Las Vegas, Nevada, about 1,640 feet of concrete tube in a stretch of the desert set the scene for the experiment. The two-seater pod is equipped with an airlock system, plush white seats, and armrests that serve as storage areas.

Once Giegel and Luchian were safely buckled in, the speed train was propelled through the tunnel using electromagnetics. Luchian said the experience was “exhilarating both psychologically and physically” and that it was “not at all like a rollercoaster,” although she admitted the take off and acceleration was “zippier” than it would be on a larger track. Thankfully, neither of the passengers felt sick afterward.

Nicknamed Pegasus, the tester pod is a much smaller version of what the company foresees. Finished products are expected to be able to travel up to 760 miles per hour with a much longer track and seat up to 28 people. BIG’s Jakob Lange said, “When designing the future of transportation and the slate is sort of blank, the opportunities are endless.” He added, “We’ve needed to adjust our way of thinking away from the classic modes of transporting like trains, planes and metros, and towards a new vehicle typology, closest to that of a spaceship.”

Pegasus is not the first hyperloop pod to be built, but it is the first to have human passengers on board. Lange said the train “allows passengers to get from A to B in a split second,” which will make it much easier to go see grandma during holidays. Geigel said they started the company and concept more than six years in a garage to try and change the way of transportation. “Today,” he said, “we took one giant leap toward that ultimate dream, not only for me, but for all of us who are looking towards a moonshot right here on Earth.”

A New Flag for Mississippi

The Mississippi state flag is getting a makeover. The current flag, the last of its kind, has the confederate battle insignia in the top left corner, which many argue represents slavery and a reminder of the atrocities delivered upon slaves that led to the Civil War. The flag, which was adopted in 1894, was the last in the nation to carry the Confederate symbol.

The new design will feature a white magnolia blossom highlighted on a dark blue backdrop – fitting, since Mississippi is known as the Magnolia State and has the magnolia as its state flower, and the state tree is, you guessed it, the magnolia tree. Red bands and gold stripes accentuate the blossom, which is also surrounded by 20 stars. The significant of the number of stars is it represents the state being the 20th to join the Union. A five-point gold star represents the Native American tribes in the area.

Nearly 20 years ago, in 2001, a movement sought to change the flag, removing the confederate symbol, but nearly two-thirds of the voters were against the change. After the death of George Floyd, an unarmed black man at the hands of police, however, the political mood has changed. The bill passed with a 91-23 vote in the House and 37-14 in the Senate. The governor, Tate Reeves, will need to sign the legislation into law.

“This is not a political moment to me, but a solemn occasion to lead our Mississippi family to come together to be reconciled and to move on,” the governor said. House Bill 1796 says the new flag design “shall honor the past while embracing the promise of the future.” It requires that the phrase “In God We Trust” be included.

The retired flag flew for the last time on July 1 and was handed over to the Mississippi Department of Archives and History.

Who Will Control the Senate?

The 2020 elections have been consuming Americans these past several months, and while most of the concern has been about who will become the next president, whether there is voter fraud going on, and how the next four years will be shaped, it is important to consider how the Senate elections will affect the country as well. A president can be a Democrat, Republican, or even belong to some other party, but that does not mean the entire country will be ran by the commander in chief’s chosen political party. The elected officials in Congress and the individual states can have just as much – or more – influence over how the nation is run.

States tend to be either red – meaning reliably Republican, or blue – meaning reliably Democrat, but sometimes they will “flip” during an election, meaning they have broken from their normal elected party and switched to the other side. During this election, we’ve seen a few Republican states seem to go blue – although the votes haven’t all been counted or certified yet. Pennsylvania, which has 20 electoral votes up for grabs, is one of the most contested states in the election. President Trump won the state in 2016 and was leading in this election, but now Joe Biden seems to have the lead. If it is awarded to Biden, it will have flipped.

Regardless of who wins the presidential election, laws cannot be passed without making it through both houses of the United States Congress – that is, the House of Representatives and the Senate. Each state gets an equal number of senators. With two senators for each state, the Senate has 100 members. The number of representatives, however, is based on the population of the state. For example, small states like Delaware and Vermont only have one representative in the House. California has a much larger population, and 53 representatives. Michigan has 14. All together, there are 535 members of Congress – 100 senators and 435 representatives.

Not only does Congress have to pass laws before the president can sign off on them, but they also have the task of making sure the president behaves properly. The House of Representatives can vote to impeach the president – which is very similar to when a grand jury decides there is enough evidence to charge someone with a crime. In order for a president to be removed, the Senate would then have to vote to convict.

So far, in this election, the Democrats have control of the House with 219 votes out of the 218 needed to reach majority. The Republicans currently have 202. In the Senate, Republicans lead with 50 out of the 51 needed for majority to the Democrats’ 48.

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