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Thursday, April 18, 2013

Fire at Fertilizer Plant Causes Explosion in West, Texas

Last night a fire at a fertilizer production plant caused an explosion in the west Texas town of West. The fire, explosion, and toxic smoke have injured over one hundred and have caused wide devastation to the surrounding community. Scores of area homes were consumed in fire, while others were demolished by the explosion. A nearby nursing home was destroyed, but all 133 patients were evacuated. Several firefighters have died in their attempts to contain the blaze and evacuate citizens. The cause of the fire and explosion is yet unknown. Texas Governor Rick Perry has declared the surrounding county a disaster area and has been in contact with U.S. President Barack Obama to facilitate federal aide. “Last night was truly a nightmare scenario,” said Perry. “This tragedy has most likely hit every family.”

UAE Arrests Suspected Al-Qaeda Cell

The United Arab Emirates has arrested seven people, who are alleged members of a terrorist group linked to al-Qaeda. According to the official Emirati news organization, “the cell was planning actions to target the country’s security and the safety of its citizens and residents, and was carrying out recruitment, and promoting the actions of al-Qaeda.” Al-Qaeda has long been suspected of using the UAE as a communications and financial hub, though as a major U.S. military ally, the UAE has be targeted in occasional plots from al-Qaeda splinter groups like al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP). Last December, UAE police arrested eight people suspected of links to al-Qaeda for plotting against the UAE and other gulf states.

Musharraf Flees a Pakistani Courtroom

An arrest order has been issued for former Pakistani president Pervez Musharraf stemming from treason charges. But police and security officials made no move to arrest Musharraf, who was in court to hear the decision, and the former president was able to exit the court house flanked by his armed bodyguard detail. According to his spokesman, Muhammad Amjad, “Musharraf is composed and confident. We will go for an appeal in the Supreme Court today. If the court rejects our appeal, we will present ourselves to the law.” If Musharraf does not prevail there, he anticipates being remanded to house arrest on his farm outside of the Pakistani capital, Islamabad. After nearly four years in self imposed exile, Musharraf returned to Pakistan last month to run for the May 11th general election, but last week election officials barred him from running for a seat in the National Assembly. This treason case is one of three pending cases against the ex-military leader, including charges he conspired to murder opposition Prime Minister Benazir Bhutto in 2007.

Two Planets Capable of Sustaining Life Found

On Thursday, NASA Astronomers on the Kepler project announced they had found the most Earth-like planets yet known. Residing roughly 1,200 light years away in the Lyra constellation, the two planets circle a yellow star similar to Sol, at roughly the correct range to sustain life as we know it. Both planets, designated as Kepler 62f and 62e, are in the so called Goldilocks zone, which allows for liquid water rather than gas or solid. They’re also only slightly larger than Earth, rather than the more commonly known giant gas exoplanets. “This is the first planet that ticks both boxes,” Dr. Charbonneau said, speaking of the outermost planet, Kepler 62f. “It’s the right size and the right temperature.”

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