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Ferguson Ablaze, Erdogan's Sexism, Paris Puff

Violence in Ferguson early Tuesday
Violence in Ferguson early Tuesday

Tuesday, November 25, 2014

Violent rioting and looting erupted in Ferguson, Missouri, after a grand jury decided last night not to indict police officer Darren Wilson, who shot black teenager Michael Brown Aug. 9. St. Louis County Police Chief Jon Belmar described the night’s events as “probably much worse than the worst night we ever had in August.” According to the police, at least 12 buildings were set ablaze, and protesters fired at least 150 shots. Twenty-nine people were arrested, USA Today reports.

“We are profoundly disappointed that the killer of our child will not face the consequence of his actions,” Michael Brown’s family said in a statement. Their calls and that of Barack Obama for people to protest peacefully didn’t stop an outburst of violence in this largely poor and working-class suburb of St. Louis. “We are a nation built on the rule of law, and so we need to accept that this decision was the grand jury's to make,” Obama said.

British newspaper The Independent quotes protesters as saying that the decision to announce the verdict at 8 p.m. local time suggested that the police “wanted civil unrest to occur.”

After the verdict was announced, police interviews, autopsy reports and secret testimonies in the case were made public. These include Darren Wilson’s 90-page testimony the day after the shooting, in which the policeman’s “terror and panic were plain to see,” The Los Angeles Times reports. He described Michael Brown as a “demon.”

ISIS terrorists claimed victory yesterday over the news that U.S. Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel was resigning. They posted Twitter messages with the hashtag, “The Islamic State topples the American Defense Minister,” Al Arabiya reports. In his Washington Post column, Dana Milbank writes that Obama’s decision to part ways with his secretary is “a cruel echo of history” and that he is “morphing” into George W. Bush, “the president whose foreign policy he campaigned to overturn.”

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Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan made some infuriating comments at a meeting of women in Istanbul yesterday, stressing that the role of women in society is, above all, “motherhood.” Read more here.

Russian and Venezuelan officials are expected to meet today in Vienna to discuss falling oil prices that are hurting the two countries. It comes ahead of an OPEC meeting where Moscow will reportedly propose to cut production to prevent a further slide, Tas news agency reports. Oil prices continued to fall this morning, and strategists at Barclays Bank said a large production cut from OPEC member states might not suffice to bring prices up and could instead “result in lost market share and revenue.”

As Süddeutsche Zeitung’s Erwin Pelkofer reports, the Maldives are slowly sinking, as coral reefs off the coasts of the islands have been destroyed and washed ashore because of warming water temperatures, all of which means sand isn't propagating as it should. “Until 1998 the eco-system here worked fine without human intervention,” the journalist writes. “But then El Niño‘s warm ocean currents raised the water temperature in the Maldives to over 33 °C (91 °F), well above normal. The coral was able to withstand this exceptional situation for a month. But during that time, the algae that give them their color gradually disappeared. After that, the corals starved, broke and washed ashore. There was some coral bleaching in 2010 as well, but the coral survived because the water only warmed for a short time.”
Read about the efforts to save the islands, Coral And Iron, A Plan To Save The Sinking Maldives.

Trade unions in Kenya have urged thousands of civil servants, teachers and health staff to leave the country’s northeastern regions, a warning that comes after violent attacks on non-Muslims from al-Qaeda-linked group al-Shabab, AFP reports. Islamist insurgents pulled 28 passengers from a bus Saturday, most of them teachers and medics, before executing them. After the attack, a scathing editorial in Daily Nation urged President Uhuru Kenyatta to “take decisive action to restore peace, security and safety” and to start by dismissing ministers who had “failed the Kenyan people.” Reporting on the ongoing conflict between the Kenyan government and the Somalia-based terrorist group, The Atlantic writes that there’s little hope of a political solution.


Former Portuguese Prime Minister José Sócrates has been remanded to custody over allegations of corruption, money laundering and tax evasion, three days after his arrest for questioning at the Lisbon airport, newspaper Público reports. Sócrates, who headed the government between 2005 and 2011, is being investigated alongside his driver, who is said to have been used to transfer vast sums of cash from Portugal to Paris, where the former prime minister reportedly led a luxury lifestyle after stepping down from office. One of his close friends and a lawyer are also being investigated. This comes as the current government is itself embroiled in a scandal over “golden visas” for foreign investors. Read more in English from the BBC.

Police arrested at least a dozen pro-democracy protesters in Hong Kong this morning after scuffles broke out while a protest site was being cleared, the South China Morning Post reports. A court order had ruled that the Mong Kok protest site had to be cleared after a bus company complained the blockade was hurting its business. “Even if they clear this place, our will to fight for genuine universal suffrage hasn't changed,” a protester told Reuters.

A new report says that when pollution in Paris is at its worst, it’s like “sitting in a room with eight smokers.”

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Life On "Mars": With The Teams Simulating Space Missions Under A Dome

A niche research community plays out what existence might be like on, or en route to, another planet.

Photo of a person in a space suit walking toward the ​Mars Desert Research Station near Hanksville, Utah

At the Mars Desert Research Station near Hanksville, Utah

Sarah Scoles

In November 2022, Tara Sweeney’s plane landed on Thwaites Glacier, a 74,000-square-mile mass of frozen water in West Antarctica. She arrived with an international research team to study the glacier’s geology and ice fabric, and how its ice melt might contribute to sea level rise. But while near Earth’s southernmost point, Sweeney kept thinking about the moon.

“It felt every bit of what I think it will feel like being a space explorer,” said Sweeney, a former Air Force officer who’s now working on a doctorate in lunar geology at the University of Texas at El Paso. “You have all of these resources, and you get to be the one to go out and do the exploring and do the science. And that was really spectacular.”

That similarity is why space scientists study the physiology and psychology of people living in Antarctic and other remote outposts: For around 25 years, people have played out what existence might be like on, or en route to, another world. Polar explorers are, in a way, analogous to astronauts who land on alien planets. And while Sweeney wasn’t technically on an “analog astronaut” mission — her primary objective being the geological exploration of Earth — her days played out much the same as a space explorer’s might.

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