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Thursday, May 16, 2013

Internecine Violence Continues in Iraq

Today, more than 25 people were killed by the latest in a string of violent outbursts in Iraq. “When the explosion happened, it was chaos. People were running everywhere to evacuate the victims. I saw two bakery laborers who were completely burned,” said Hussein Mahdi, a shop owner who witnessed a car bombing today in Sadr City. Almost 200 people have died each month since protests broke out in Sunni areas of Iraq almost five months ago. Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki’s administration and members of the country’s Sunni minority have been at ends of a conflict regarding accusations that Iraqi authorities are targeting the Sunni community with wrongful detentions and accusations of involvement in terrorism. “The bloodshed … is a result of sectarian hatred,” said Maliki. “These crimes are a natural result of the sectarian mindset.”

Kepler Planet Finding Spaceship Damaged

The aiming mechanism of the Kepler spaceship, which is the prime tool in the search for Earth-like planets, has malfunctioned. The Kepler project has identified 130 planets and 2,740 other candidates that are probably rocky worlds similar to our own, including April’s discovery of Kepler 62f and 62e, which are the most possibly life sustaining planets yet known. Early this year, NASA engineers noticed that the reaction wheels that keep the spacecraft pointed was experiencing too much friction and weeks of debugging have failed to generate a fix. “I wouldn’t call Kepler down and out yet,” said John Grunsfeld, once responsible for repairing the Hubble telescope during several spacewalks, but he cautioned, “unfortunately, it’s not in a place where I can go and fix it.” The Kepler project is highly regarded in the astronomy community. “It was one of those things that was a gift to humanity,” said one astronomer. Its loss will bring an end to the four year old $600 million mission, “I’m delighted and surprised with what we have done,” said William Borucki the founder of the Kepler effort.

Tornadoes Ravage Texas

Six people were killed when a tornado touched down in Granbury, Texas late yesterday. The Granbury storm caused one of ten tornadoes that struck Texas yesterday. According to meteorologist Mike Smith of AccuWeather Enterprise Solutions, the area had received a tornado warning 26 minutes prior to the funnel cloud touching down. Though as roughly 70 percent of tornado warnings are false alarms, Smith believes some residents may have ignored the warning. Hood County spokesman Tye Bell said seven people were missing, hundreds had been treated for injuries, and at least 250 people had been evacuated from the affected area. Scores of homes were destroyed by the storm. Smith suggested that severe weather and possibly tornados would strike the area again this weekend.

Barbie Dreamhouse Protests In Berlin

Feminist activists demonstrated against the opening of a life-sized ‘Barbie Dreamhouse’ in Berlin today. Decrying it as a sexist objectification of women, members from diverse women’s rights groups like Femen and Pink Stinks burned Barbie dolls in effigy and waved placards. The exhibition in central Berlin will be open until late-August, and includes a house which allows paying visitors to try on Barbie’s clothes, play in her kitchen and play her pink piano. Christoph Rahofer, chief executive of Event Marketing Services, which organized the exhibition, characterized the ‘Dreamhouse Experience’ as a positive happenstance. “It’s basically about playing, being amazed and discovering – there’s lots of hidden things to be found and it’s an interactive exhibition,” said Rahofer. But Stevie Meriel Schmiedel, a founding member of the Pink Stinks protest group, disagrees, “There’s too much emphasis on becoming more beautiful and on being pretty and that puts an awful lot of pressure on girls as well as wasting capacities which they could use to simply be happy or for school.” Despite today’s vocal outpouring of criticism, the Barbie Dreamhouse Experience is expected to draw 3,000 people per day.

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