News briefs:June 23, 2008
Ban Ki-moon calls for Zimbawe elections to be postponed
Ban Ki-moon, the Secretary General of the United Nations, has said that the elections in Zimbabwe should be postponed due to the fact that Morgan Tsvangirai, the leader of the Movement for Democratic Change (MDC), Zimbabwe's main opposition party, has said that he will pull out of the race to become the president of Zimbabwe.
Ki-moon released a statement highlighting his concerns. "The Secretary-General deeply regrets that, despite the repeated appeals of the international community, the Government of Zimbabwe has failed to put in place the conditions necessary for free and fair run-off elections," he said.
"The circumstances that led to the withdrawal of opposition leader Morgan Tsvangirai today from the presidential elections represents a deeply distressing development that does not bode well for the future of democracy in Zimbabwe. The campaign of violence and intimidation that has marred this election has done a great disservice to the people of the country and must end immediately," continued the Secretary general.
He finished by saying that "the Secretary-General has discussed the situation with various leaders, including those of the African Union and the Southern African Development Community (SADC). He strongly supports the statement of the Chairman of SADC that conditions do not exist for a run-off election to be held at this time and that they should be postponed."
This move by Ban Ki-moon comes after Morgan Tsvangirai called for the international community to intervene to improve the situation in Zimbabwe.
Over 700 feared dead after ferry hit by typhoon
It is feared that over 700 people have died after a ferry near the Philippines capsized after being hit by Typhoon Fengshen. So far, 38 people from the ferry have been found alive. Some people were washed onto the shore. One of the survivors, Reynato Lanoria, a janitor on the ferry, said that about 100 people jumped into the ocean.
The ferry left Manila en route to Cebu on Friday, and according to the owners, Sulpicio Lines, contact was lost at about 12:30 local time Saturday.
A rescue ship was sent to rescue the survivors, although this only happened 24 hours after contact was lost with the boat.
One of the survivors described the incident. "There were many of us who jumped overboard, but we were separated because of the big waves," he said.
He continued, "The others were also able to board the life rafts, but it was useless because the strong winds flipped them over."
Phoenix lander confirms presence of water ice on Mars
For the first time ever, NASA has confirmed the presence of water ice on Mars. The Phoenix lander, which landed on Mars on May 25, has confirmed to NASA scientists that the white substance it found while digging a trench on June 15 is water ice.
"It is with great pride and a lot of joy that I announce today that we have found proof that this hard bright material is really water ice and not some other substance," said Peter Smith, the primary investigator for Phoenix, at the University of Arizona in Tucson.
The chunks were left at the bottom of a trench informally called "Dodo-Goldilocks" when Phoenix's Robotic Arm enlarged that trench on June 15, during the 20th Martian day, or sol, since landing. Several were gone when Phoenix looked at the trench days later. The chunks were visible on June 16, but when Phoenix looked at the trench again on June 19, some of the material had disappeared, implying that it may have evaporated or melted.
"This tells us we've got water ice within reach of the arm, which means we can continue this investigation with the tools we brought with us," said primary investigator for Phoenix's stereo imager, Mark Lemmon.
Scientists are planning to examine the substance and the soil surrounding it more closely. They plan to test it for signs of organic material and minerals, and hope to find out if the ice was ever a liquid which could have supported microbial life.
In other news...
American comedian George Carlin has died at the age of 71 after suffering heart failure. Carlin was taken to the Saint John's Health Center located in Santa Monica, California after he experienced chest pains and died in the early evening. Carlin has made several HBO specials and nearly two dozen comedy albums. He appeared in several movies such as Dogma, and was also the first host for the television show Saturday Night Live which premiered in 1975.