Bergoglio becomes the first Latin American pope, the first Jesuit pope, and the first from outside Europe in more than 1,000 years (kind of — his father was Italian). But same as the old pope, he is old, white and conservative.
GlobalPost’s John Otis writes that Bergoglio has a reputation as a humble servant of God and an advocate for the poor, but is also accused of being an accomplice in Argentina’s “Dirty War.”
Xi Jinping was similarly chosen in a secret conclave of sorts, though we’ve pretty much known for the past five years that he was destined to replace Hu Jintao as Chinese president. No smoke, no special robes.
Sorry, Communist Party of China, but no one does pageantry like the Roman Catholics.
Khmer Rouge leader dies.Ieng Sary, a former top leader of the Khmer Rouge who was on trial for war crimes committed during the Cambodian genocide, has died at the age of 87.
Ieng Sary was the second person to be tried by the slow-moving, UN-backed court in Cambodia established to seek justice for the millions who died under the Khmer Rouge.
"One of the most senior leaders is escaping justice, and the rest are old and sick," said Ou Virak, director of the Cambodian Center for Human Rights. "The tribunal is in danger of being a wasteful exercise of hundreds of millions of dollars."
New satellite images from NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center show that northern latitudes now look the way places four to six degrees further south (some 250 to 430 miles away) did as recently as 1982.
"It’s like Winnipeg, Manitoba, moving to Minneapolis-St. Paul in only 30 years," said Compton Tucker, a co-author of the NASA study.
OK, that might not sound so dramatic, but picture this: new vegetation has sprouted in a third of the northern latitudes in Canada and Russia, equaling some 3.5 million square miles — an area slightly less than the size of the United States.
He’s back. Hugo Chavez has returned to Venezuela, after a long and somewhat mysterious spell in a Cuban cancer ward. The president this morning announced on Twitter, in his own inimitable style, that he had arrived “back in the land of Venezuela! Thank you God!! Thank you beloved people!!”
Chavez, who underwent surgery to remove tumors two months ago and had remained in hospital ever since, said that he would continue his treatment at home. His unexpected return follows protests in Caracas demanding to know just what state the head of state was in. That, we still don’t know; nor whether Chavez plans to pick up the reins again, or hand them over for good.
Four more years for Rafael Correa. Ecuador’s socialist president has won a third term in power, and how. Preliminary results from Sunday’s election gave him over 50 percent of the vote, more than double the total managed by his closest challenger.
It isn’t often a prisoner’s mother pleads for him to remain behind bars. But it isn’t often that you have a prisoner like Marc Dutroux. Authorities in Belgium will decide today whether to grant the notorious child rapist and killer parole, and his own mother is asking them to say no.
Jeannine Dutroux says she’s certain her son “is a repeat offender in his soul" and will, given the chance, strike again – just like he did last time he was released, only to kidnap the six girls for whose abduction, rape and in four cases, death, he is currently in jail. The court’s decision is due this afternoon.
WANT TO KNOW
What’s it like inside one of the Syrian government’s prisons? As GlobalPost’s Tracey Shelton saw first-hand at one recently captured prison, it’s grim. The complex is now under rebel control, but still tells dark tales of what government forces used it for: ropes hang above an execution platform. Heavy chains lie inside large metal cages. Traces of blood are still present on cell walls.
Through access to the jail and conversations with people freed from it, Shelton presents a rare inside look at how Bashar al-Assad’s regime treats its prisoners.
RIP, Mindy McCready. The American country music singer, known for hits including ‘Guys Do It All The Time’ and ‘Ten Thousand Angels,’ has been found shot dead at her home in Arkansas. She was 37.
Her death comes one month after her partner, record producer David Wilson, apparently shot himself. Police believe that McCready, too, committed suicide.
STRANGE BUT TRUE
Hear this, meteors: NASA is watching you. Days after a vast, uninvited meteorite exploded over Russia to general terror, the US space agency has pledged to invest $5 million in a system to detect any space objects that might be, you know, hurtling dangerously toward Earth.
The ATLAS monitoring project will use eight high-power telescopes to monitor the skies. It won’t be operational, however, until 2015 – which means we’re in for some sleepless nights before then.
Blake posted a video earlier showing NASA’s new Earth photos created with infrared imaging technology. I can’t stop looking at them though.
Here’s the basic set (including a 54000x27000 GeoTIFF version of the top image — let’s make posters), and here’s a fascinating look at the Nile. And over here is an interactive map where you can explore the entire globe.
A handful of scientists have observed earthly night lights over the past four decades with military satellites and astronaut photography. But in 2012, the view became significantly clearer. The Suomi National Polar-orbiting Partnership (NPP) satellite — launched in October 2011 by NASA, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), and the Department of Defense — carries a low-light sensor that can distinguish night lights with six times better spatial resolution and 250 times better resolution of lighting levels (dynamic range) than before. Also, because Suomi NPP is a civilian science satellite, data is available to scientists within minutes to hours of acquisition.
The Visible Infrared Imaging Radiometer Suite (VIIRS) on Suomi NPP can observe dim light down to the scale of an isolated highway lamp or fishing boat. It can even detect faint, nocturnal atmospheric light — known as airglow — and observe clouds lit by it. Through the use of its “day-night band,” VIIRS can make the first quantitative measurements of light emissions and reflections, distinguishing the intensity and the sources of night light. The sum of these measurements gives us a global view of the human footprint on the Earth.
Stunning — Michael.
Images: City Lights, via Nasa Earth Observatory. Select to embiggen.
Each Wednesday GlobalPost will bring you our favorite weirdest wackiest tales from around the web. But only two of the three stories are real. If you’re the first to correctly identify the fake in this story’s comments section below, you will win a $5 iTunes giftcard. Yes, that’s right, five free songs.
Curiosity, the most complex and expensive robot ever sent to Mars, touched down on the red planet yesterday, but not before causing NASA scientists to simultaneously freak out with both terror and joy.
Before the expensive piece of robotics could land, it had to go through what is known as the “seven minutes of terror.”
The rover, which has been sent to investigate whether or not Mars can support life, had to brake to a stop from a speed of 13,000 miles per hour in just seven minutes, the Associated Press reported.
Here’s a breakdown of how that happened:
On landing the nuclear powered machine roughly the size of a car, Aam Steltzner, an engineer at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory, which manages the mission, told the AP, “The degree of difficulty is above a 10.”
The successful landing is the product of eight years of planning and eight months of interplanetary travel, according to NBC. Which is why after landing the machine, NASA headquarters looked like this:
The photos were stitched together to form a near-wraparound of the rocky outcrop informally known as “Greeley Haven,” where Opportunity spent its eight winter, Wired explains.
The New York Daily News says the panorama was released as NASA celebrated its fifteenth year of robotic rover exploration on the Red Planet. The first rover, Sojourner, landed there on July 4 1997 as part of the Pathfinder mission, and Opportunity landed with its sister rover, Spirit, in January 2004.
NASA scientists working in the Arctic Ocean have discovered blooms of microscopic plantlike organisms living beneath the ice.
In the ICESCAPE (Impacts of Climate on EcoSystems and Chemistry of the Arctic Pacific Environment) project, researchers explored and sampled the area below the ice on the Chukchi Sea continental shelf north of Siberia. In their press release, the scientists called the discovery, “as unexpected as finding a rainforest in the middle of a desert.”
The finding revealed a new consequence of the Arctic’s warming climate and provided an important clue to understanding the impacts of a changing climate and environment on the Arctic Ocean and its ecology, NASA said in a statement.
A team of California scientists announced today that comets may have brought the “seedlings of life” to Earth when they hit the planet billions of years ago, said The Independent.
By reconstructing what is believed to have been inside the comets when they hit Earth travelling at some 25,000 miles per hour, the Earth Times said it looks like key ingredients for life survived the collision.