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Hubble Space Telescope snaps first pictures of super-fast Comet ISON

July 4, 2013 – SPACE – The Comet ISON shines like a cosmic skyrocket in a new video from the Hubble Space Telescope as the icy wanderer, which some astronomers have billed as a potential “comet of the century,” streaks through our solar system at a staggering 48,000 mph. The new Comet ISON video, which NASA released Tuesday (July 2), is a time-lapse view created from images of the comet obtained using the Hubble telescope on May 8. At the time, the comet was about 403 million miles (648 million kilometers) from Earth and crossing between the orbits of Jupiter and Mars. NASA officials likened the comet’s extreme speed to a skyrocket on the Fourth of July. “The movie shows a sequence of Hubble observations taken over a 43-minute span and compresses this into just five seconds,” NASA officials explained in a video description. “The comet travels 34,000 miles in this brief video, or 7 percent of the distance between Earth and the moon. The deep-space visitor streaks silently against the background stars.” The blue hue of ISON in the new video is actually a false-color view of the comet as it appeared through the Wide Field Camera 3 on the Hubble Space Telescope.  Comet ISON was discovered by amateur astronomers in September 2012 and is headed for a close encounter with the sun in late November of this year.
The comet’s swing through the inner solar system is much anticipated by professional and amateur astronomers because of its extremely close approach to the sun. On Nov. 28, Comet ISON will swing within 800,000 miles (1.2 million km) of the sun’s surface. That close encounter could cause the comet to flare up into a brilliant night sky sight visible to the unaided eye by November. But the comet could also fizzle out in a fabulous bust, so NASA scientists and astronomers around the world are keeping a close watch on Comet ISON to see if it lives up to its hype. While NASA has likened Comet ISON to a cosmic firework in the new Hubble video, the comet itself is not exploding. “Its skyrocket-looking tail is really a streamer of gas and dust bleeding off the icy nucleus, which is surrounded by a bright star-like-looking coma,” NASA officials wrote. “The pressure of the solar wind sweeps the material into a tail, like a breeze blowing a windsock.” As the comet zooms closer to the sun and warms up, it is expected to grow, NASA officials added. ISON’s tail will also grow longer over time. In April, Comet ISON’s tail stretched across 57,000 miles (92,000 km) in images snapped by the Hubble Space Telescope. At the time, the comet’s nucleus was estimated to be about 4 miles (6.5 km) across. Because of ISON’s potential to be a spectacular night sky object, NASA and astronomers around the world have assembled a Comet ISON Observing Campaign to track the object’s progress across the solar system. –Yahoo

Egyptian government crumbles under military coup: tanks reportedly move on Cairo

July 3, 2013 – CAIRO — An adviser to Egyptian President Mohammed Morsi said Wednesday that a military coup was underway, that tanks were on the move outside Cairo and that communication with the president had been cut off. As a military deadline came and went for Morsi to step aside, the army took control of state television, and boisterous crowds opposed to the regime cheered and danced in Tahrir Square. Representatives of the Muslim Brotherhood, which supports Morsi, also said that some of its leaders had been rounded up and arrested. Earlier in the day, both the president and the military had sworn a fight to the death. The military leader, Gen. Abdel Fattah al-Sisi, said it would be an honor to die rather than subject the Egyptian people to threats or terror. In something of a call to arms, the military posted on Facebook: “We swear to God to sacrifice with our blood for Egypt and its people against any terrorist, extremist or ignoramus. Long live Egypt and its proud people.” The government said at least 16 people had been killed and about 200 injured in clashes with security forces at Cairo University. Egypt elected Morsi one year ago after throwing out Hosni Mubarak, the autocrat who led the country for three decades. But Egyptians have been frustrated by a weak economy and what they see as a power grab by the Morsi government. Violent clashes continue in Cairo where demonstrators are protesting against Mohammed Morsi’s presidency. Morsi is declaring he’d rather die than forfeit his post as the Egyptian army threatens to remove him by force. NBC’s Richard Engel reports.
The military was believed to have given Morsi until 5 p.m. local time, or 11 a.m. ET, to meet the demands of the protesters. The precise time was not clear. The ultimatum, issued Monday, has been denounced by supporters of Morsi as a military coup. Hours ahead of the deadline, civilian political leaders were summoned to meet with the top generals. Those civilian leaders included Mohamed ElBaradei, the former head of the U.N. nuclear weapons agency and a critic of Morsi. The Associated Press reported that a leading Muslim cleric and the head of Egypt’s Coptic Christians were also at the meeting. Sources told NBC News that the army had control of state television. Non-essential staff were told to go home early, and Reuters reported that the building was being guarded by armored vehicles. The Associated Press reported that military officers were monitoring broadcasts. There were other signs that support for Morsi was slipping, even among sympathizers. A senior member of a hardline Islamist party allied with the president told Reuters that the party was trying to broker a peaceful transfer of power to avoid bloodshed. “We find ourselves faced with the necessity of convincing the president to accept a referendum on early presidential elections,” Tarek al-Zumar of Gamaa Islamiya said in a telephone interview. “This is what we hope will be reached in the next few hours.” The military controlled Egypt from February 2011, when protesters forced the ouster of President Hosni Mubarak, until June 2012, when Morsi won a competitive election and was sworn in. –NBC

Market turmoil: Portugal slides closer to the abyss with forced austerity measures

July 3, 2013 – PORTUGAL – Political turmoil in Portugal is threatening to re-ignite Europe’s debt crisis after a year of relative calm. Having won praise for taking tough measures to restore the financial health of the eurozone state, Portugal’s government has been rocked this week by the resignation of two ministers who quit because of waning public support for its program of austerity. Prime Minister Pedro Passos Coelho has refused to accept the resignation of his foreign minister, who heads a junior partner in the center-right coalition. But anxious investors sold stocks and bonds heavily Wednesday on fears that the government may collapse. Portuguese media said two other ministers could follow their party leader in tendering their resignation Wednesday. New elections could delay economic reforms and prolong Portugal’s dependence on bailout funds. Yields on its 10-year government bonds surged above 7% for the first time this year and at one stage hit 8%. Shares on the country’s benchmark stock index fell by about 5.5%, with banks particularly hard hit. Major European stock markets and government bonds in other peripheral eurozone states also suffered losses. “We think the risk is that the combination of such higher yields and political uncertainty reduces the prospect of Portugal regaining full market access in the next year, and hence leads to expectations of a new ‘full’ [bailout] program being required,” noted Bank of America Merrill Lynch in a research report. Portugal signed up for a 78-billion euro bailout from the European Union and International Monetary Fund in 2011, and was hoping to exit the program in mid-2014. Its economy has paid a heavy price for the spending cuts and structural reforms demanded in return for the rescue loans. Gross domestic product is forecast to shrink by 2.3% in 2013, a third consecutive year of recession, and unemployment has hit a record high of close to 18%. The government has found it increasingly difficult to meet the terms of its bailout — some measures have been struck down by the constitutional court — and Portugal was given extra time earlier this year to hit EU budget deficit rules. Any further backsliding by Portugal could encourage other bailed-out states such as Greece and Cyprus to seek concessions from lenders as they struggle to meet the conditions. “Portugal has emerged as a new serious risk to the grand political bargain in the eurozone of support from the core and reforms in the periphery,” noted Berenberg Bank senior economist Christian Schulz. Greece has until Monday to satisfy officials from the EU and IMF that its reforms are on track or risk missing out on its latest tranche of rescue cash. –CNN

Saudi Arabia reports two more deaths from MERS-CoV virus

July 3, 2013 – SAUDI ARABIA – Two more Saudi Arabians have died of MERS-CoV (Middle East respiratory syndrome coronavirus) infections, the Saudi Ministry of Health (MOH) reported today. Both cases had been announced previously. The patients were a 75-year-old “citizen” in Al-Ahsa governorate and a 63-year-old woman in Riyadh. The MOH simultaneously also announced the recovery of three other MERS patients: a 61-year-old citizen in Al-Ahsa, a 41-year-old woman in the Riyadh region, and a 50-year-old woman in the Eastern region. The two deaths raise the Saudi death toll, unofficially, to 36, out of 64 cases. At this writing, the MOH’s coronavirus overview page has not been updated since Jun 24 and still lists the death toll at 34. The current World Health Organization global count, which does not include the latest deaths, stands at 77 cases and 40 deaths. Neither Saudi Arabia nor any other country has reported any new MERS cases since Jun 23, when the MOH announced seven, six of which were described as asymptomatic. The lull follows a very active MERS-CoV period of about 2 months. It was on May 2 that Saudi Arabia announced seven new MERS-CoV cases, including five deaths. It later became clear that these were part of an outbreak that involved at least three hospitals in Al-Ahsa; it eventually grew to 25 cases. The month of May also brought the first MERS-CoV cases in France, Tunisia, and Italy. France’s first case involved a man who had vacationed in the United Arab Emirates, while the Tunisian case was in a man who had been in Saudi Arabia and Qatar. In Italy, a man who had traveled to Jordan became infected. All three of these cases led to one or two more cases in close contacts but did not lead to ongoing spread of the virus. CIDRAP

Model gay adoptive ‘fathers’ sexually abused 6-year-old for years: offered him to pedophile ring

Australian media covered the adoption of Adam by the gay men, describing the two men as happy, loving fathers.

SYDNEY, July 3, 2013 (LifeSiteNews.com) – Police in Australia have described as “depraved” the case of a six-year-old boy who was sexually abused by his adoptive homosexual “fathers” and other men who were part of an international child-porn syndicate known as the Boy Lovers network.

Authorities in Australia and the US worked together to arrest and charge the men after it emerged that the boy had been offered to men in Australia, the US, France and Germany for sexual exploitation and the production of child pornography from a very young age.

Last week one of the men, an American named Mark J. Newton, 42, was jailed in the U.S. for 40 years and ordered to pay $400,000 in restitution to the child, while the other, Peter Truong, 36, from New Zealand, awaits sentencing in his home country.

“None of these cases are very good,” Detective Inspector Jon Rouse, who heads Australia’s Queensland Police Taskforce Argos, which investigates online child exploitation and abuse, told the AFP news agency.

“What’s pretty sad about this one is the way this child came into their lives. It’s just really a tragedy. It’s extremely depraved.”

According to reports, Newton and Truong, living in Cairns, Australia at the time, began looking for a surrogate mother to give birth to a child in 2002.

The same-sex couple finally found a woman in Russia who gave birth to their child for a fee of $8,000. Mark Newton is believed to be the biological father of the boy, dubbed “Adam” in order to protect his identity.

Adam was handed over to Newton and Truong five days after his birth in 2005.

Australian media covered Adam’s arrival home, describing the two men as happy, loving fathers.

On July 14, 2010, when Adam was 5 years old, ABC Far North Queensland broadcast a story titled “Two dads are better than one” which stated that “becoming parents was hard work for gay couple Pete and Mark, but they’d do it all over again if they had to.”

“We decided that we would have a child, that it was time for us to have a family,” Newton and Truong told ABC. “We wanted to experience the joys of fatherhood.”

“It’s a happy, relaxed family,” ABC said, “but it wasn’t an easy road to get there. After many hurdles, [Adam] was born by surrogacy in Russia.”

Russian news service RT Novosti reported that Adam began to be sexually abused by his same-sex ‘dads’ when he was 22 months old.

“Later on,” RT Novosti reported, “they made Adam available for sex with other members of the pedophile ring in Australia, France, Germany and the US, for which Newton and Truong had to travel extensively. Police investigators have found proof of at least eight men in these countries having contact with Adam when he was between the ages of two and six.”continue

Texas abortion battle heats up as activists ‘Hail Satan!’

Anti-abortion activist Pamela Whitehead (right) of Katy, Texas, argues with a pro-choice …more >

Tensions in Texas ratcheted a bit higher Tuesday as activists on both sides of the abortion issue squared off at the  Capitol in Austin for a somewhat odd religious-themed shout-down.

Gov. Rick Perry has called for a second special session to pass an abortion law that would prohibit the procedure past the 20th week of pregnancy.

SEE RELATED: Sen. Marco Rubio to push for 20-week abortion ban: report

Pro-choice protesters shouted, “Hail Satan!” as an attempt to drown out pro-lifers’ rendition of “Amazing Grace.”

A Texas blogger, Adam Cahm, captured the scene on video: “It’s been a very interesting day at the Texas State Capitol. … LetTexasSpeak has been doing a live broadcast from the rotunda where women have been sharing their abortion related testimonies. The pro-abortion crowd has responded with repeated chants of ‘hail Satan.’ It’s taken us all day to get a video recording,” The Blaze reported. CONTINUE




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