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Curiosity rover zaps Mars rock with rapid-fire laser

Mars rover Curiosity zaps ‘Coronation’ rock with rapid-fire laser (+video) (via The Christian Science Monitor) NASA’s Mars rover Curiosity has zapped its first rock in what scientists elatedly declare a successful test of ChemCam, a laser-and-telescope combo designed to uncover the chemical composition of rocks on the Red Planet. The…

11-year-old Pakistani girl faces death penalty for Quran burning

An 11-year-old Christian Pakistani girl said to suffer from a mental disorder could face the death penalty under the country’s notorious blasphemy laws, after she was accused by her neighbours of deliberately burning sacred Islamic texts. Rifta Masih was arrested on Thursday, after complaints against her prompted angry demonstrations, and…

JetBlue passenger relates premature landing on Twitter

A film producer who was sitting next to a man whose erratic behaviour caused a JetBlue flight into a premature landing has posted a dramatic account of the experience. Cassian Elwes, who spent much of the New York to Los Angeles flight next to a man he identifies as Marco,…

Joint chiefs chair: Afghan leaders ready to curb ‘insider attacks’

Afghan leaders appear ready to take decisive action to curb unprecedented “insider attacks” by Afghan recruits that have killed 40 Western troops this year, the top US military officer said Monday. “For the first time, I found that my Afghan counterparts are as concerned about the insider attacks as we…

Pussy Riot protester questioned about biting police officer during sentencing

Former chess king turned Kremlin critic Garry Kasparov faced the threat of prison Monday after being questioned over claims that he bit a policeman at the sentencing of the Pussy Riot punk rockers. The bizarre but serious charge could put the 49-year-old behind bars for five years and deliver even…

Al-Qaeda leader arrested in Algeria

Three armed Islamists, including a senior member of Al-Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb (AQIM) thought to be close to its leader, have been arrested in southern Algeria, official media reported Monday. Necib Tayeb, also known as Abderrahmane Abou Ishak Essoufi, one of the oldest members of Al-Qaeda’s north African branch,…

More than 20 killed in violent upsets in Venezuela’s overcrowded prisons

More than 20 people were killed in the latest outbreak of violence in Venezuela’s overcrowded prisons as heavily armed gangs fought for control of a prison near Caracas, authorities said Monday. Iris Varela, the minister for prison affairs, told state-run media that the clashes erupted Sunday in the Yare I…

Hemingway cafe in Madrid saved from near-certain closure

Madrid’s iconic Cafe Gijon, whose past clients include Ernest Hemingway and Salvador Dali, has won a last-minute reprieve from near certain closure. The cafe had warned it would have to draw the curtain on its 120-year history after Madrid’s cash-strapped City Hall granted the licence to its lucrative terrace to…

Apple becomes most valuable company in history

Apple on Monday dethroned longtime rival Microsoft as the most valuable company in history based on the value of its stock, which climbed to approximately $622 billion. Apple’s stock began a steady climb late last week and hit a new high of $664 a share during Monday trade on the…

Both major parties are WASP-free for the first time

US government and politics no longer run by WASPs. Does it matter? (via The Christian Science Monitor) No matter how it turns out, the 2012 presidential election will have made history. For the first time since the founding of the Republic, none of the major party candidates for president or…

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