Craft successfully docks
The Shenzhou-10 spacecraft yesterday carried out a successful docking, state media said, two days after the launch of the country’s longest manned space mission. The spacecraft linked up with the Tiangong-1 module in an “automated docking,” Xinhua news agency said. Three astronauts, including China’s second woman in space, are spending 15 days in orbit as the country’s ambitious space program reaches another milestone. The docking success comes almost a year after the Shenzhou-9 performed China’s first manual docking with the same module. The maneuver last year tested a docking technique that is needed to be able to construct a space station, which China aims to do by 2020.
Female Dalai Lama touted
The Dalai Lama waded into the nation’s bitter gender war yesterday, saying his successor as the spiritual leader of the Tibetans could be a woman. “If the circumstances are such that a female Dalai Lama is more useful, then automatically a female Dalai Lama will come,” he told a press conference in Sydney to launch a 10-day tour of Australia. The exiled 77-year-old was questioned about the gender conflict reignited by Australian Prime Minister Julia Gillard this week. He replied that the world faces a “moral crisis” of inequality and suffering, and needs leaders with compassion. “In that respect, biologically, females have more potential,” the Dalai Lama said. Labor Party leader Gillard claimed on Tuesday that the conservatives would marginalize women and set back abortion laws if they win elections in September.
Feminist activists jailed
A court sentenced three European feminist activists to four months in jail on Wednesday after they demonstrated topless in central Tunis last month against the Islamist-led government, one of their lawyers said. Marguerite Stern and Pauline Hillier of France, and Josephine Markmann of Germany, all members of the Femen protest group, appeared topless on May 29 to call for the release of fellow activist, Amina Tyler of Tunisia, who was detained last month. “The judge sentenced the three Femen activists to four months and one day in prison for an attack on public morals and indecency,” lawyer Souheib Bahri said. Tyler, 18, was arrested in Kairouan on May 19 after she hung a feminist banner from the wall of a mosque and tried to bare her breasts.
Sex trade on the increase
With bum bags strapped around their waists, sex workers wait by the roadside close to Hackescher Markt, one of Berlin’s busiest shopping districts. It is a familiar sight just before dark in the capital of a country that has been dubbed “Europe’s biggest brothel.” The sex trade in Germany has increased dramatically since prostitution was liberalized in 2002 — more than 1 million men pay for sex every day, according to a documentary, Sex — Made in Germany, aired this week on Germany’s public broadcaster, ARD. Based on two years of research using hidden cameras, the film by Sonia Kennebeck and Tina Soliman exposed the “flat-rate” brothels where men pay 49 euros (US$65) for as much sex as they want. Germany’s law governing the sex trade is considered one of the most liberal in the world. It was passed by the former coalition government in a bid to strengthen the rights of sex workers. Since then, red light districts have become even more prominent in cities such as Berlin.
Cheetahs outpower Bolt
Cheetahs can generate four times the maximum power output of Usain Bolt when they sprint and have a maneuverability unmatched by any other animal when hunting, according to scientists who tracked the big cats. “[Cheetahs] are getting lateral accelerations bigger than a motorbike can achieve,” the Royal Veterinary College’s Alan Wilson said. “They’re operating at the extreme of athletic performance.” His team attached collars, enabled with GPS and accelerometers, to five wild cheetahs in the Okavango Delta in Botswana and tracked the animals for a year. The study found that, though the cheetahs can run at great speeds, they mostly choose not to when hunting. “What they can do is accelerate and maneuver really rather well, better than anything else that’s been measured in a large animal and that’s probably much more critical in terms of capturing a large animal,” Wilson said. The cheetahs were able to accelerate by up to 3m/s and slow down by 4m/s in a single stride. At their greatest acceleration, the animals’ muscles produced a power output of 100 watts per kilogram — four times greater than the power produced by Usain Bolt when he ran the 100m in the world record time of 9.58 seconds.
Police look into death movie
Police said on Wednesday they are investigating the recording and sale in local markets of a grisly video that shows a mob beating and burning to death three men suspected of raping and killing an Indian woman in southern Mexico. A voice on the video says: “Gasoline on everything!” as the beaten suspects lie on the ground. Then the tape shows a man in flames, tied to a tree, writhing as he apparently burns. One suspect is heard crying and pleading for mercy while voices in the background speak the Indian language of Tzotzil. Tzotzil is spoken in the highlands of the southern state of Chiapas, where tapes of the attack were being sold in street markets for 15 to 20 pesos (US$1.15 to US$1.50) apiece. The Chiapas State Attorney General’s office said all three men died. It is investigating both the mob attack and the sale of the video.
Police pull over child driver
Police in Louisiana said they pulled over a 10-year-old boy who was driving an SUV on a major highway. A Kenner Police news release says the boy’s grandmother and another woman in the vehicle were arrested early on Wednesday when the car was pulled over. Police say they told officers they had the boy drive because they were drunk. The child’s grandmother, 54-year-old Brenda Byrd, and 48-year-old Sheila Joiner were booked with contributing to the delinquency of a juvenile and allowing an unlicensed driver to operate a motor vehicle. The young driver and a 15-year-old passenger were later released to family members. Police had responded to a call about an SUV being driven recklessly.
‘1984’ surges in popularity
The nation’s book-buyers are reading up on being watched. Sales for dystopian classics such as George Orwell’s 1984 and Aldous Huxley’s Brave New World have been strong since news broke last week that the US government had vast surveillance programs targeting telephones and Internet records. Several editions of Orwell’s 1984, about an all-seeing government, were among top Amazon.com’s top 200 sellers as of Wednesday morning. Huxley’s story of a mindless future ranked No. 210 and was out of stock. A perennial favorite of futuristic horror, Ray Bradbury’s Fahrenheit 451, was ranked No. 75.