Defense Minister Moshe Yaalon has told Washington he did not mean to cause offence in a speech that was critical of its policies, and officials in Jerusalem said they hoped the matter was behind them. In a lecture at Tel Aviv University on Monday, Yaalon said Israel could not rely on its main ally to take the lead in confronting Iran over its nuclear program, citing the Ukraine crisis as an example of the US “showing weakness.” US Secretary of State John Kerry called Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to protest the comments. Yaalon’s office issued a statement on Wednesday, saying he had telephoned US Secretary of Defense Chuck Hagel and told him: “There was no opposition or criticism or intention to offend the United States or our relations in my remarks.”
Earth spared solar blasts
Fierce solar blasts that could have badly damaged electrical grids and disabled satellites narrowly missed Earth in 2012, researchers said on Wednesday. The bursts would have wrought havoc on the Earth’s magnetic field, matching the severity of the 1859 Carrington event, the largest solar magnetic storm ever reported on the planet. “Had it hit Earth, it probably would have been like the big one in 1859, but the effect today, with our modern technologies, would have been tremendous,” University of California, Berkeley research physicist Janet Luhmann said in a statement. Massive bursts of solar wind and magnetic fields, shot into space on July 23, 2012, would have been aimed directly at Earth if they had happened nine days earlier, she said. The bursts carried southward magnetic fields and would have clashed with Earth’s northward field, causing a shift in electrical currents that could have caused electrical transformers to burst into flames, she said.
Baby gorilla improving
A baby gorilla who came down with pneumonia after being born in a rare Caesarean section at the San Diego Zoo in California has improved enough to begin drinking formula from bottles and to breathe on her own, zoo officials said on Wednesday. The baby, a female, was delivered on March 13. She was treated for pneumonia with antibiotics and other medication. The baby also had a collapsed lung that was reinflated.
Police seek attacker
Police investigating the disappearance of Madeleine McCann on Wednesday said they are seeking an intruder who sexually assaulted five girls in the region of Portugal where the toddler was last seen. Police have linked 12 crimes between 2004 and 2010, in which a man entered holiday villas occupied by British families in the Algarve region. In several of those cases, the man sexually assaulted young girls. Detective Chief Inspector Andy Redwood said there were differences between the characteristics of the 12 incidents and the McCann case, but stressed the need to identify the intruder.
Jackman stalker out of jail
A woman who admitted stalking Hugh Jackman has been released after a guilty plea and months in a New York City jail. Katherine Thurston was freed on Wednesday. She was arrested in April last year after she followed the actor into a gym, pulled out a hair-filled razor and threw it at him. She pleaded guilty earlier this month to stalking, harassment and burglary and was sentenced to six months in jail, which she had already served, and five years’ probation.