Dramatic evidence of global warming surfaced as recent visitors to the North Pole saw—and took photographs of—water in place of the usual thick ice. The last time that scientists are sure the Pole held open water was more than 50 million years ago, meaning such a sight has likely never been seen by humans before. Six years ago, the same area held an icecap two to three metres thick.
Grounding the Concordes
The days of supersonic passenger travel may be over for now after British Airways joined Air France and grounded its entire fleet of seven Concordes. The decision, which came three weeks after an Air France Concorde crashed near Paris, was made when British and French aviation regulators suspended the plane’s airworthiness certification. Investigators believe last month’s accident, which killed 113 people, was caused when a blown tire sent chunks of rubber flying into a fuel tank, triggering a fire.
Britain’s Civil Aviation Authority has since asked the Concorde’s manufacturers, BAE Systems Airbus Industrie and Aérospatiale Matra, to redesign the position of the aircraft’s fuel tanks.
The Concorde was considered a technological triumph when Britain and France developed the plane in the 1960s at a cost of $5.2 billion. It remains uncertain how much Air France and BA will have to spend on modifications to bring the aircraft back into service. But while many aviation analysts claim the supersonic jets will never fly commercially again, others believe that with so much prestige involved, the two airlines will find a way to keep the legendary planes in the air.
Middle East peace talks in limbo
Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Barak and Palestinian negotiators said another peace summit was unlikely in the near future. But there were signs of conciliation last week as other governments urged the two sides to capitalize on the momentum achieved at last month’s promising but unsuccessful talks at Camp David. Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat said he is reassessing a plan to unilaterally declare an independent state on Sept 13. Barak, meanwhile, said Israel would agree to the creation of such a state if Palestinians end their conflict with Israel.
Tutu returns home
South African Archbishop Desmond Tutu returned home after two years in the United States, where he had been unsuccessfully treated for prostrate cancer. The 68-year-old, who won the Nobel Peace Prize in 1984 for his nonviolent campaign against apartheid, had been living in Atlanta, where he was professor of theology at Emory University.
Kennedy relative faces trial
A Connecticut judge ruled that sufficient evidence exists to try Michael Skakel, a nephew of Robert F. Kennedy’s widow, Ethel, in the 1975 murder of 15-year-old Martha Moxley. Skakel, 39, is accused of beating Moxley to death with a golf club near her family’s estate in Greenwich, Conn. An inquiry will be held to determine whether Skakel, who was 15 at the time of the murder, should be tried as an adult or juvenile.
Fires in the U.S. northwest
More then 20,000 firefighters battled 92 large forest fires burning across 12 American states in the Northwest. The blazes threatened to destroy key powerlines carrying electricity to California. Montana, where nearly 600,000 acres have been destroyed, has been the hardest hit.
Japanese volcano erupts
Mount Oyama, a volcano on Miyakejima island, 180 km south of Tokyo, erupted and spewed steam, smoke and ash as high as 26,000 feet into the air. No one was injured, but local authorities ordered 2,000 residents, more than half the population, to evacuate the area.
Libya helps to free hostages
In a bid to improve its international profile, Libya agreed to pay $38 million for the release of 16 hostages, including 10 foreign tourists, held by Muslim rebels in the Philippines. The rebels, who are seeking an independent homeland, seized the hostages at a resort on April 23. Libyan leader Mummar Gaddafi became involved when the Philippine government was unable to resolve the crisis.
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