World News: Issue 7


Author: Clark Scally

International Space Station. A Russian Soyuz spacecraft made the fastest yet docking flight to the ISS to date, arriving just six hours after liftoff. Such flights usually take 45 hours longer, but new technology enabled the crew to make the run in less than 4 orbits around the planet Earth. At 12:43 p.m. Pacific Standard Time, Russian astronauts Pavel Vinogradov and Alexander Misurkin took off from Baikonur Cosmodrome in Kazakhstan with co-pilot Chris Cassidy of the United States. They met the current three occupants off the ISS six hours later, just in time for dinner. Canadian Chris Hadfield, Russian Roman Romanenko and Thomas Marshburn of the United States arrived at the ISS in December 2012 and will return to Earth in May. Over the next six months, the crew will perform 137 investigations on the U.S. segment of the station and 44 on the Russian segment, according to a statement from the U.S. space agency NASA.

NASA and BBC World Service

Egypt and beyond. Global connection speeds have slowed down and been malfunctioning due to one of largest cyber-attacks in history on March 26. Stemming from corporate rivalry between two European internet service providers, Spamhaus and Cyberbunker, the worldwide internet slowed as a result of a massive connection-clogging Distributed Denial of Service (DDoS) attack launched upon domain name hosting servers, at a rate of 300 gigabits per second. The second largest attack was recorded in 2010 at 100 gigabits per second. A seemingly unrelated, yet more physical attack on connection speeds occurred off the coast of Egypt on March 27. Three divers were arrested while cutting the undersea data cable that connects Western Europe with North Africa, the Middle East, and Southeast Asia. The sabotaged cable led to connection outages and telecommunication failures in Egypt and several other nations. Motives for the marine sabotage are unknown.

Reuters and BCC World Service

Cuba. Thirty-one of Guantanamo Bay’s 166 inmates are on hunger strike indefinitely, for undisclosed reasons. The International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) dispatched a doctor a week earlier than originally planned due to the deteriorating situation in the prison. “In an effort to better understand current tensions and the ongoing hunger strike, we have decided to start this visit one week earlier,” ICRC spokesman Simon Schorno said. “Tensions at Guantanamo are certainly related, in our view, to the uncertainty that’s prevailing on the future of the detainees. We see a clear link between that and their emotional state.”

Eleven of the hunger-striking detainees are being fed liquid food through tubes and three others are being treated at a hospital. The ICRC has visited Guantanamo Bay prison six times a year, every year since 2002 when the military detention center first opened. Nearly 100 of the detainees are reportedly cleared for release but remain at the facility due to Congressional restrictions and concerns of possible adversity should the detainees return to their home countries. Most detainees are held without charge.

The Guardian and BBC World Service

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