by Maddy Hughes
The government has laid down its hand in the case of an illegal church church in Beijing, according to The New York Times and Christian Today.

Shouwang Church, also known as Lighthouse, is what is known as an illegal house church, a church that exists outside the area of state-controlled churches in China. The government in China is publicly atheist as well as Communist, and has repeatedly evicted the group from its meeting area.

In response, the church said that it would meet outside instead of trying to hide from the government.

The government has detained the church's leaders and on Sunday, for the second week in a row, detained many of the members who attempted to worship outside after the eviction in a public plaza.

The arrests of the parishioners were explained by the government as a reaction to anti-political activity, though the church claimed that its gatherings had nothing to do with politics. The government took more than 100 of the worshipers to unknown locations after boarding them on buses.

Following the event, Hillary Clinton, Secretary of State, said in a statement of the U.S. state department's annual human rights report that the church members who were detained were expressing their "internationally recognized right to free expression" and asked that they all be released from custody of the government. Later on, they released all but three members of the group.

Family of tornadoes hits U.S., damages North Carolina most

by Maddy Hughes
North Carolina received the worst blow of a group of more than 240 storms traveling over the U.S. Saturday, according to the New York Times and the Charlotte Observer.

The Charlotte Observer said that there were more than 60 tornadoes across the state, while The New York Times said there were more than 90.

The tornadoes began in Oklahoma Thursday night and stretched all the way to the Eastern Seaboard, leaving damage of tens of millions of dollars in its wake. The storms left 45 people dead and hundreds injured.

Twenty-one of the 45 deaths nation-wide happened in North Carolina. The state had not seen storm damage of this extent sine 1984, when 42 people were killed by 22 twisters. Most of the deaths happened in small rural counties.

These tornadoes were unusual in North Carolina because though the Great Plains may see these kinds of storms twice a year, they rarely ever occur in North Carolina, according to weather service meteorologist Scott Sharp from Raleigh, N.C. And though it was unusual how many of the storms hit North Carolina, it was most unusual that all of the tornadoes came from one large storm.

Hosni Mubarak and his regime detained for investigation

by Maddy Hughes
CAIRO--Egypt's former president Hosni Mubarak is under investigation for allegations of corruption, abuse of power, and misuse of public funds.

Egypt's prosecutor general announced Mubarak's detention on Facebook early Wednesday, according to Huffington Post and The Guardian. This announcement came shortly after Mubarak was hospitalized for a heart attack he had during questioning Tuesday night--he is expected to stay there until the end of his questioning.

The general also ordered a detention of both of Mubarak's sons, Gamal and Alaa, under the same charges for those 15 days their father would be held in the hospital. They were taken to Tora prison, south of Cairo, which is known for having held Mubarak's political prisoners for years.

Gamal Mubarak was a top official in the ruling party and was expected to take the place of the 82-year-old president before he was ousted on Feb. 11.

Most members of Mubarak's regime are currently being questioned as well.

Sources say that Mubarak will be moved from his current hospital, which is Sharm el-Sheikh, to a military hospital in Cairo, although he may have to be questioned outside of the capital for security reasons.

The prosecuter general announced the news on a Facebook page whose purpose was to honor the families of those killed in the protests, estimated to be around 800. The people of Egypt have been demanding investigations into corruption within the regime ever since their 18 days of protests leading to Feb. 11.

Federal Government nears shutdown Friday

by Maddy Hughes
The whole country watched in awe Friday as the federal government drove itself toward a shutdown at midnight, which it just barely avoided through a last-minute compromise between Republicans and Democrats.

The main disagreement at first appeared to be only about the budget--after all, that is what Congress was negotiating. But family spending seemed to be a large factor causing the split as well, NPR and ABC News reported.

Both Republicans and Democrats pointed fingers at the other side for stalling an agreement, and the accusations involved positions taken on family spending. Though hard to tell around which of the topics the dispute centered, there was intense debate about the use of taxes for family spending purposes, specifically for Planned Parenthood.

Senate Majority Leader Democrat Harry Reid said that Republicans were mostly against taxes being used to fund Planned Parenthood because it provides abortions to women, although the taxes are private.

But both sides cited the other's main agenda as the source of the prolongation. House Speaker Republican John Boehner said that it was not the spending legislation that caused the most disagreement, but the size of the budget cuts.

In a debate between Rep. Mike Pence, R-Ind. and Rep. Chris Van Hollen, D-Md., funding for Planned Parenthood was the heat factor. Hollen repeatedly reminded Pence that the taxpayer money is not what funds Planned Parenthood services, while Pence focused on the idea that abortions make up the majority of its services.

The federal spending budget will be finalized next week.

Physicists discover what could be a new particle

by Maddy Hughes
This week at the Fermi National Accelerator Laboratory in Illinois, scientists found a strange bump in their data that could indicate the existence of a new sub-atomic particle.

Further research is needed to prove that the particle is indeed a kind never before seen, as stressed by Brian Greene, a physicist quoted in NPR's coverage of the event.

But though the evidence so far is not enough to say for sure if the particle is a new finding, there is great excitement over its possibility among the scientific community. This is in part because if the particle was truly something previously unknown, it could signify a new force of nature, which sounds impossible to conceive.

"If it isn't something that can be washed away through more refined data," Greene said, "it would be a huge revolution."

The unusual data was found using the Tevatron particle accelerator in the Fermi lab, as researchers were studying collisions between protons and antiprotons, BBC News reported.

These collisions produce W boson particles, and a pair of what are called "jets" of other particles. These jets contained the "bump" in the data, alerting the physicists to something that does not fit within the current Standard Model of the subatomic particle community.

While it was unclear whether the bump was an accident or a real finding, the researchers said that it was definitely not a particle called "Higgs boson," for which they have been ardently searching. According to Dan Hooper, a theoretical physicist at the Fermilab not involved with the study, if the particle was a new discovery it would be even more radical than finding the Higgs particle.

It may be the case that what the physicists are seeing is just a fluctuation in the data, but researchers only have to examine the numbers they already have, and the data from an upcoming experiment at the Large Hadron Collider (LHC) to find out.

Target sues gay rights group

by Maddy Hughes
SAN DIEGO--Target has filed a lawsuit against a pro-gay marriage group for campaigning outside of stores in San Diego, Minnesota Public Radio and the Huffington Post both reported.

Their decision to sue the group comes after two events concerning their relationship with the gay/ lesbian community that have both created bad publicity and tension between their company and this client base. While the company claims that the lawsuit has nothing to do with the cause they were campaigning for but rather the distraction it was causing to customers, it does not look good added on to the previous issues with their public image.

The first instance that got them into trouble was their $150,000 donation to a business group that supported a Minnesota candidate who opposed gay marriage. After issuing a public apology basically saying that everyone had misinterpreted their donation, they also had a tentative partnership with Lady Gaga to promote her new album which was short-lived and fell through after their business meeting, which reportedly resulted in a conflict concerning their policy.

During the court hearing Friday in San Diego, Judge Jeffrey Barton asked why Target attorney David McDowell had not provided proof of the customers being upset over the activists, but McDowell replied that he could get it, but should not need it since the case is about keeping people off their private property.

Brian W. Pease, attorney of the gay rights group Canvass For a Cause, said that the area in which they were petitioning was considered by courts to be an area appropriate for groups to exercise free speech.

Target maintained that they have asked plenty of organizations to respect the privacy of the area surrounding their store, and their action against Canvass For a Cause did not involve any sort of political agenda. Arguments went back and forth, and Judge Barton announced that he would make a decision by the end of next week.

Bill to cut light-rail funding moves through House

by Maddy Hughes
A bill proposed by Rep. Mary Liz Holberg, R-Lakeville to cut funds for the rail project moved up in the Minnesota House Monday night.

The bill would cut $69 million from a transit fund to light rail, commuter rail, and bus rapid transit, and would instead use the money to make up for a potential $51 million cut in general transit funds.

The cut would lead to an increase in bus fare. On Monday it passed through the Transportation Policy and Finance Committee and still waits to pass the Ways and Means Committee.

Proponents of the bill were mostly GOP legislators, reflecting a history of division on the topic of transit funding between them and DFLers, who are known to generally support public transit.

The GOP argument for the bill says that it would amount to an overall increase in funding for transit operations, however the opponents say that their estimate of car sales tax revenue is too high.

The bill includes a plan to first pay off debt for projects like the Central Corridor light rail. To fill in the gap needed to pay for the light rail project, the Met would have to borrow money. The transferred money comes from a quarter-cent sales tax on five counties for rail and bus rapid transit.

Women in Egypt beaten by army officers

by Maddy Hughes
Women's Views on News and the New York Times both recently reported about the assaults on 19 women by the military in Egypt.

Since Hosni Mubarak stepped down from his position as president, the military has reportedly stepped in as the force to maintain order in the country, even above the police force. From the start, protesters for the most part regarded the army as an ally in their political revolution. But the military seems to dislike the chaos so much that some members have taken to torturing protesters.

On March 9 the army evacuated more than 190 people centered in Tahrir Square, also known as the central location of the revolution, "Liberation Square." Nineteen of these were women taken to an Egyptian museum, tied to a fence surrounding it and beaten or electrocuted.

One of these women, Salwa al-Housini Gouda, told the story from that day. She was taken along with the 18 other women afterward to a military prison, where they were all tested for virginity on a bed in a hallway.

The army denied the account to be true but some of the other women as well as human rights groups confirmed that it had happened. Ragia Omran, a Cairo human rights lawyer, said that their actions were technically sexual assaults, but the military is considered above the law, keeping them safe from punishment.

This event is an example of the hardships involved with a revolution--chaos is not enough to ensure the progress of a nation.

Triangle Shirtwaist fire inspires Mn educational series

by Maddy Hughes
In light of the national focus on laborers' rights, a series of events called "Then and Now: Immigrants, Workers, and the Search for Justice" has been scheduled in St. Paul to educate and call attention to the history of workers' unions.

This year is the centennial anniversary of the Triangle Shirtwaist Factory fire in 1911, an event that represents the mistreatment of public workers. Twin Cities Daily Planet and MinnPost explain that the incident was unfair to workers because factory managers had locked the doors that workers tried to escape through.

The workers, most of which were Jewish and Italian immigrant women, had gathered two years before the fire in a strike to preserve union rights and lost, being forced to keep their jobs in the dangerous Triangle factory.

The first event of the series, which has brought together over 30 organizations to participate, was a film screening about the Triangle Shirtwaist fire at Macalester College on March 6, followed by a panel discussion.

The series includes documentary film screenings, photo exhibits, and more education sessions going all the way through late May. The list and details of events is right here.

Macalester history professor Dr. Peter Rachleff is one of the event's coordinators working with Jewish Community Action, a group that is sponsoring the series.

Earthquake in Japan causes shift in earth's axis

by Maddy Hughes
The earthquake that brought on a tsunami in Japan Friday left significant changes beyond just the damage it did to Japan, NASA discovered and made public for many news sources to report. USA Today and Yahoo News both told of the record-breaking earthquake's effects on the planet.

It turns out that in its wake, the 8.9-magnitude earthquake moved the location of Japan 13 feet closer to the U.S., according to geophysicist Ross Stein at the United States Geological Survey. It also shifted the balance of the planet, making the earth spin slightly faster, and therefore shortening the day by 1.6 microseconds.

As the pacific tectonic plate slid beneath the North American plate, the eastern coast of Japan sunk and was consumed by the tsumani, which sent waves traveling at 500 mph.

Richard Gross from NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory said that these changes are no cause for concern, as shifts in the earth's axis are not unusual and happen because of changes in other forces like atmospheric winds and ocean currents.

But this natural disaster has definitely been a cause for deep concern in Japan, where it has killed nearly 10,000, and in Hawaii, Maui, Oahu, and Kauai, all of which were affected by the tsunami.