MOSCOW **28 Feb 2013 First results expected from poison tests on Yasser Arafat’s body
Radioactive polonium was found on the clothing of Yasser Arafat after his death on 11 Nov 2004. At the request of his widow, international forensic experts exhumed the Palestinian leader’s body on Nov 27 for tissue samples to determine if he had been poisoned. The samples were sent to Russian, Swiss and French laboratories. According to Russian news sources, experts at the Russian Biomedical Agency will have the first results of their tests available at the end of February. The question is whether the results will
NEW YORK 26 Feb 2013 First attack on World Trade Center 20 years ago
On 26 Feb 1993, an explosion under the World Trade Center announced that foreign terrorism had arrived in the United States. The epicenter was a parking garage under the WTC, a complex of buildings around a central plaza in the city. The deadly explosion turned out to be a rehearsal of a kind for the 11 Sep 2001 terrorist attack, which made history as the deadliest in American history. Eclipsed by 9/11, the 1993 explosion is almost forgotten. The clamoring in Egypt for the release from
UNITED STATES 25 Feb 2013 SETI deadline for naming Pluto moons
The discoverers of ex-planet Pluto’s fourth and fifth moons are asking the public to choose names for the space rocks from a list. The deadline is Feb 28. The ballot, organized by the California-based SETI Institute, is on http://plutorocks.seti.org. By tradition, the moons of Pluto have names associated with Hades and the underworld. Though the public input can be counted on to sway the vote, the International Astronomical Union (ITU) has the last word on the names. The ITU is best known for demoting Pluto, while
LONDON 25 Feb 2013 Judges hear appeal against Abu Qatada stay
Three Court of Appeal judges will hear the challenge of Home Secretary Theresa May to the ruling by the Special Immigration Appeals Commission (Siac) on Nov 12 that Abu Qatada, the cleric once described as Osama bin Laden’s right-hand man in Europe, should not be deported to Jordan. She describes the cleric as “a serious risk to our national security.” He was convicted of terror charges in Jordan in his absence in 1999, has successfully fought deportation for more than a decade, and has received more than UK
CUBA 23 Feb 2013 United States at 110th anniversary of Guantánamo Bay leaseRead More
BRUSSELS 21-22 Feb 2013 NATO defense ministers meet
At a meeting chaired by Secretary General Anders Fogh Rasmussen, NATO defense ministers will wrestle with the Alliance’s growing involvement in Syria, and probably will restate the decision to keep the 28-nation alliance out of the Mali conflict. At a recent meeting Rasmussen linked the reluctance to step in to buttress French gains in Mali as a problem of budget-related inability and lingering commitments in Afghanistan. Increasingly, debate about NATO’s direction once its involvement in Afghanistan ends in 2014 will occupy significant debate at NATO meetings.
WASHINGTON DC **17 Feb 2013 Hopes for Million Kids March on Washington
(TBC) If the requisite permits and sponsors are secured, a Million Kids March on Washington Mall will be organized for 17 Feb in the capital to press for safe schools across America. And if emotions are still running high over the mass killings at the Sandy Hook elementary school in December, the demonstration is likely to bring great numbers of children and parents to the capital. Concerns have been raised about the potential emotional impact of the march on participating children.
ECUADOR 17 Feb 2013 Presidential election expected to see vying brothers
The most unusual aspect of the presidential election that Ecuador has set for Feb 17 is that two brothers are likely to be battling for the job. President Rafael Correa is standing again, and his brother, Fabricio Correa, has signaled his intention to run. The third early contender is Guillermo Lasso, a banker. Correa is seen as nearly unassailable because the opposition is fractured and because of his heavy investment in social and infrastructure programs. If he becomes vulnerable, it could be because a corruption scandal.
SPACE 15 Feb 2013 Another asteroid passes by
Asteroid 2012 DA14 passes by Earth on Feb 15 almost on the tail of asteroid Apophis, which passed by on Jan 9. Though only 185-foot-wide and puny compared to 1065-foot-wide Apophis, 2012 DA14 is causing some anxiety because it will pass inside the orbit of geostationary satellites. Asteroids represent a lurking worry because they can’t be counted on to miss Earth. Some quarters see only opportunity in them. NASA is assessing the feasibility of a proposal that involves landing on one of the thousands of near-Earth asteroids
SPACE 15 Feb 2013 Asteroid 2012 DA14 on near-miss Earth path
Asteroid 2012 DA14 passes by Earth on Feb 15, closer just 14,913 miles away – closer than many of the satellites circling the planet. Though measuring just 147 feet and not quite visible to the naked eye, it will offer talking points for the proponents and opponents of a plan announced in April to explore Space for near earth objects that could be mined for valuable minerals. The core issue is property rights in Space: the 1967 Outer Space Treaty bans them, but there appears to be a legal
CORRECTIONS: The 13th Dalai Lama proclaimed Tibet’s independence in 1913 after expelling the Chinese presence following the collapse of the Qing dynasty in China. Tibet’s incorporation into the People’s Republic of China began in 1950, and Beijing shows no interest in easing its controversial military and cultural grip on the now- Tibet Autonomous Region. World leaders who add their voices on Feb 3 to Tibetan demands for more autonomy can count on the ire of Beijing, which will be alert to prevent any new uprising by Tibetans and self-immolations in the region. For Beijing, the suicides protesting the ChineseRead More
RIO DE JANEIRO 8 -12 Feb 2013 Carnival 2013 takes over city
Rio de Janeiro’s carnival (Carnaval), arguably the least-inhibited street party in the world, begins with Rio’s mayor presenting King Momo, the carnival ruler, with the keys to the city. Carnival centers on the hard-fought competition between the city’s traditional samba schools and the competition for carnival king. Traditionally, candidates for king are expected to be tall and jovially fat, but health awareness is changing the picture. The incumbent and likely 2013 king, Milton Rodrigues Da Silva Júnior, is trying to lose weight for the competition – more