SpaceX rocket self-destructs
An unmanned SpaceX rocket blew itself to pieces shortly after launch during a test flight at a development site near McGregor, Texas. the company said on Friday. Nobody was injured. The test flight involved a three-engine version of the company’s reusable Falcon 9 rocket, spokesman John Taylor said in a statement. SpaceX has been using the Falcon 9 to launch satellites and the Dragon spacecraft, which delivers cargo to the International Space Station. “During the flight, an anomaly was detected in the vehicle and the flight termination system automatically terminated the mission,” Taylor said. “Throughout the test and subsequent flight termination, the vehicle remained in the designated flight area. There were no injuries or near-injuries,” he said. A representative of the US Federal Aviation Administration was present for the flight. The “anomaly” was not specified. “With research-and-development projects, detecting vehicle anomalies during the testing is the purpose of the program. Today’s test was particularly complex, pushing the limits of the vehicle further than any previous test,” Taylor said.
Russian student found dead
A Russian student who went missing in Wyoming’s Grand Teton National Park has been found dead. The body of 20-year-old Aleksandr “Sasha” Sagiev was found in the park on Friday. The student from Nizhny Novgorod, Russia, was reported missing on Monday last week after going for a hike. After a three-day search, Sagiev’s body was discovered below a steep traverse, known as Cache Couloir, in Glacier Gulch. Sagiev was a seasonal employee at a pizza shop in the area. About 60 searchers had been looking for him since he was last seen at work on last Sunday. Authorities say that when Sagiev was found, he was in the metallic blue “Sochi” jacket he was last seen wearing. There was no word on the cause of death.
Activist’s descendant found
The nation’s leading human rights group says tests have identified the granddaughter of one of the group’s deceased founders, whose daughter gave birth while a prisoner of the military dictatorship that ruled from 1976 to 1983 and has not been seen since. Friday’s announcement came from Estela de Carlotto, president of the Grandmothers of the Plaza de Mayo. Two weeks ago, de Carlotto surprised Argentines by revealing that she had found a grandson born to a daughter of hers who was slain in 1978 by the junta. De Carlotto’s group believes that about 500 children were seized from people killed by the dictatorship and given to couples who supported it. The woman announced on Friday is the 115th such child to be identified. Her grandmother was Alicia Zubasnabar de la Cuadra, the Grandmothers’ first president, who died in 2008.
Africa-bound cocaine found
Police in Asuncion on Friday said they seized about 850kg of cocaine hidden in sacks of rice bound for the Democratic Republic of the Congo. The drugs were aboard a ship set to sail from a private Asuncion port to Rio de la Plata, where it would have been loaded onto a transoceanic vessel. A scorpion was printed on each sack of cocaine, said to represent an alleged drug-trafficking group led by Brazilian Jorge Rafat Toumani, police said. The sole suspect detained by police was a customs agent. Toumani was sentenced in Brazil to 47 years in prison for money-laundering and drug trafficking.
Landslide toll rises to 46
The death toll from devastating landslides in the west rose to 46 yesterday, as rescuers worked around the clock to comb through destroyed houses searching for survivors. Local police said they cannot confirm the whereabouts of 41 local residents in the disaster-hit area of Hiroshima, where heavy rain early on Wednesday triggered landslides that swallowed dozens of homes. The rain had stopped by yesterday morning, but nearly 3,000 rescuers, soldiers and police officers remained wary, with meteorologists predicting another heavy downpour by evening. The city government was upholding evacuation orders for more than 4,500 local residents amid fears of fresh landslides. Emergency officials found six more bodies yesterday, bringing the toll to 46, a Hiroshima police spokesman said.
Gunwoman seeks president
Security officials say a woman armed with a pistol tried to enter the presidential palace and was demanding to see President Benigno Aquino III. Commodore Raul Ubando, head of the presidential guards, said the woman was immediately disarmed on Friday and turned over to Manila police for investigation. Sprawling Malacanang Palace has several entrances, and the woman was stopped at a gate far from Aquino’s office and living quarters. The woman told reporters she had no intention of hurting anybody, but wants Aquino to step down because people were getting poorer under his administration. Ubando says no one was hurt and the Manila Police District would decide whether to file charges based on its investigation. Police say the woman will be examined to determine if she has any psychological disorder.
Pepe the tortoise dies
“Pepe the Missionary,” a giant tortoise who rose to fame as one of the most photographed animals on Ecuador’s Galapagos Islands, has died at age 60, officials said on Friday. Pepe, who lived in a corral at the Galapagos National Park’s Interpretation Center, died of natural causes, park ecosystems director Victor Carrion said. “Several of his organs had been slowly failing,” Carrion said, adding that the tortoise was also overweight. Park director Arturo Izurieta paid tribute to the tortoise on Twitter. “After 60 years of life, Pepe the Missionary will remain in our memories forever,” Izurieta said. He brightened the post with a bit of good news for conservationists: “The disappearance of Pepe the tortoise does not put his species in danger.” Pepe was a member of the Chelonoidis becki species native to Wolf Volcano on the island of Isabela. About 2,000 tortoises from the same species still live in their native habitat.
TV4 apologizes to Costa Rica
A TV network has apologized to Costa Rica for using the Central American country’s national anthem to promote a comedy show. TV4 is using the anthem in a trailer for Parlamentet, a popular game show featuring some of Sweden’s best-known comedians. After receiving complaints from Costa Ricans living in Sweden, Costa Rica lodged a diplomatic protest, calling it a “grave disrespect to our national symbol.” Network spokesman Anders Edholm said on Friday that producers have apologized to Costa Rica’s ambassador in Sweden and Norway, and assured him they will not show the trailer after the first episode of the season airs today. Edholm said producers picked the tune from a music library because it was “beautiful and grand,” but were not aware it was Costa Rica’s national anthem.
‘OBVIOUS DIFFERENCE’: The Wuhan Institute of Virology has been researching bat coronaviruses to trace the SARS pathogen, which is 80 percent similar to SARS-CoV-2 The Chinese virology institute in the city where COVID-19 first emerged has three live strains of bat coronavirus on-site, but none match the new contagion wreaking havoc around the world, its director has said. Scientists think COVID-19 — which first emerged in Wuhan and has killed more than 340,000 people worldwide — originated in bats and could have been transmitted to people via another mammal. However, the director of the Wuhan Institute of Virology told state broadcaster China Global Television Network that claims made by US President Donald Trump and others that the novel coronavirus could have escaped from the facility were
HUMAN RIGHTS ABUSES? An institute of the Chinese Ministry of Public Security and a company are to be sanctioned over ‘human rights violations and abuses’ The US Department of Commerce on Friday said that it would sanction a Chinese government institute and eight companies over alleged human rights abuses against Uighurs and other minorities in China’s western Xinjiang region. “These nine parties are complicit in human rights violations and abuses committed in China’s campaign of repression, mass arbitrary detention, forced labor and high-technology surveillance against Uighurs, ethnic Kazakhs and other members of Muslim minority groups in the Xinjiang Uighur Autonomous Region,” the department said in a statement. The Chinese Ministry of Public Security’s Institute of Forensic Science and Aksu Huafu Textiles Co are to be sanctioned “for
SPACE RACE: The China Aerospace Science and Technology Corp mission aims to land a robotic rover and put a probe into orbit around the planet China is targeting a July launch for its ambitious Mars mission, which includes landing a remote-controlled robot on the surface of the Red Planet, the company in charge of the project has said. Beijing has invested billions of dollars in its space program in an effort to catch up with its rival, the US, and affirm its status as a major world power. The Mars mission is among a number of new space projects China is pursuing, including putting Chinese astronauts on the moon and having a space station by 2022. Beijing had been planning the Mars mission for some time this year,
Former US vice president Joe Biden on Friday said he “should not have been so cavalier” after he told a radio host that African Americans who back US President Donald Trump “ain’t black.” In a call with the US Black Chamber of Commerce that was added to his public schedule, Biden said he would never “take the African American community for granted.” “I shouldn’t have been such a wise guy,” Biden said. “No one should have to vote for any party based on their race or religion or background.” Biden faced criticism after his comments earlier on Friday on The Breakfast Club, a