April 2011 Archives

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.

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