TIME Nigeria

Twin Blasts In Northern Nigeria Have Killed At Least 49 People

Another 71 were injured in the attack

Twin blasts struck a marketplace in the northeast Nigerian city of Gombe Thursday, killing at least 49 people and injuring dozens more.

The market was crowded with people doing last minute shopping on the eve of the Eid festival that marks the end of the Muslim fasting month of Ramadan, reports Agence France-Presse.

The first bomb went off outside a busy footwear shop at 5:20p.m. local time (12:20p.m. ET) and was followed by a second explosion minutes later.

“I and many other people rushed to assist the victims. While we were trying to attend to the wounded, another blast happened outside a china shop just opposite the footwear shop,” local trader Badamasi Amin told AFP.

Ali Nasiru, another trader at the market said he saw “people lying lifeless on the ground.”

A senior rescue worker said 49 people had been killed and 71 injured in the attack but warned the death toll could climb as some of the wounded were in a “critical condition.”

No one has claimed responsibility for the blasts, but in recent months Gombe city has been the target of bombs and suicide attacks by militant Islamist group Boko Haram

More then 15,000 people have been killed in the Boko Haram insurgency in Nigeria since 2009.

[AFP]

TIME United Kingdom

London Marks the 10th Anniversary of the July 7 Terrorist Attacks

"Ten years on from the 7/7 London attacks, the threat from terrorism continues to be as real as it is deadly"

On Tuesday, London will commemorate the 10th anniversary of the July 7, 2005, bombings that killed 52 people — the worst single terrorist attack on British soil.

A service will take place in St Paul’s Cathedral to remember those who died in what became known as the 7/7 bombings, reports the BBC. Family members of the victims and some of those who were injured will attend the ceremony.

A minute’s silence will be held across London’s transport network at 11:30 a.m. BST (6:30 a.m. ET) with London Underground trains and buses coming to a halt wherever possible.

There will also be a service at Hyde Park’s July 7 Memorial.

Just after 8:30 a.m. on 7 July, four suicide bombers with links to al-Qaeda detonated homemade bombs on three subway trains and one bus during the morning rush-hour.

Twenty-six people lost their lives in the bombing at Russell Square, six died at Edgware Road and seven in the explosion at Aldgate.

About an hour later, 13 people were killed as a fourth device detonated on a double-decker bus in Tavistock Square. More than 700 people were injured in the bombings.

“Ten years on from the 7/7 London attacks, the threat from terrorism continues to be as real as it is deadly — the murder of 30 innocent Britons whilst holidaying in Tunisia is a brutal reminder of that fact,” said U.K. Prime Minister David Cameron. “But we will never be cowed by terrorism.”

[BBC]

TIME Afghanistan

Suicide Car Bomb Explosion Shakes Afghan Capital Near Shopping District

kabul Afghanistan explosion
Rahmat Gul—AP An Afghan woman cries out at the site of a suicide attack on a NATO convoy in Kabul, June 30, 2015.

At least one person was killed

(KABUL, Afghanistan)—A suicide attacker driving an explosives-packed vehicle targeted a NATO military convoy in the Afghan capital, Kabul, on Tuesday, killing at least one person and wounding up to 22, police, military and government officials said.

“It was a suicide car bomber,” said Kabul deputy police chief Sayed Gulagha. The blast sent a huge plume of black smoke over the city and scattered glass and metal across the main highway to Kabul’s airport.

A spokesman for NATO’s Resolute Support mission in Afghanistan, U.S. Army Col. Brian Tribus, said that no coalition personnel were injured by the blast. The Taliban sent a text message to The Associated Press claiming responsibility for the attack.

At least two of the convoy’s armored vehicles were badly damaged in the explosion, which happened around 1.20 p.m. less than a kilometer (half a mile) from the American Embassy.

Embassy spokeswoman Heather Eaton said all personnel were accounted for.

The spokesman for the Interior Ministry, Sediq Sediqqi, said that at least one person, a civilian, was killed in the attack and at least 22 wounded.

Chief of Kabul hospitals for the Ministry of Public Health, Kabir Amiri, said at least 19 people were wounded, including four children and three women.

Eyewitnesses said it happened during early afternoon prayers, and that people who rushed out of a nearby mosque had attacked the foreign soldiers and journalists, throwing stones at them.

The blast badly damaged at least two of the heavily armored military vehicles in the convoy. The nationality of the coalition soldiers was not immediately clear.

The attack happened as government employees were leaving their offices and roads were choked with vehicles as the working day is shortened during the Ramadan fasting month.

Eyewitness Ahmad Farhad said: “I saw a Toyota Corolla target the convoy of foreign forces, I saw two to three damaged vehicles and wounded victims were everywhere and there was no one to help them.”

It comes a week after an audacious attack on the nation’s parliament, which highlighted the ability of insurgents, who have been fighting to overthrow the Kabul government for almost 14 years, to enter the highly fortified capital to stage deadly attacks.

Also on Tuesday, a suicide attack on the police headquarters of southern Helmand province killed up to three people and wounded more than 50, including policemen, officials said.

Omar Zawak, spokesman for the governor of Helmand province, said most of the injured in the Tuesday morning attack were women and children.

Police spokesman Farid Hamad Obaid said a car packed with explosives was driven into the back wall of the police headquarters in an attempt to breach a gate. All the gunmen fled the area, he said.

Also Tuesday in eastern Paktya province, three people were killed and one wounded when their vehicle hit a roadside mine, the provincial police chief Zalmai Oryakhel said.

TIME Elon Musk

Tesla’s Elon Musk Just Had the Worst Birthday Ever

Tesla Elon Musk
Noah Berger—AP Tesla's CEO Elon Musk.

A disastrous weekend for both Tesla and SpaceX

Elon Musk turned 44 on Sunday, but the entrepreneur probably wished he could just crawl back into bed and forget the day ever happened.

It was, to be frank, a disastrous weekend for both Tesla and SpaceX, the two companies Musk leads.

First, the biggie: an unmanned SpaceX rocket on a resupply mission to the International Space Station exploded after it was launched. No one was hurt, and the astronauts on board the Space Station have enough supplies to last until October, but the Falcon 9 rocket that was destroyed represents a lot of lost capital, and it’s always embarrassing for an aerospace company when a craft just, well, explodes.

In news that was slightly less spectacular, but still troubling, reports say Musk said Tesla owners weren’t using the battery swap technology he debuted in 2013. While this doesn’t have quite the visual impact of an exploding rocket, it’s still not good news for a service that Musk and other Tesla execs hoped would help show consumers that electric cars, like Teslas, can be taken on longer trips with minimal wait time.

Musk himself admitted to having a bad day:

We hope your Independence Day weekend is better, Elon.

TIME weather

This Woman Was Almost Struck by Lightning and Filmed It

Damn nature, you scary

A woman from Ireland got dangerously close to a bolt of lightning earlier this month when out filming a rainstorm for her mother.

Nicola Duffy, a lecturer at the Institute of Technology Blanchardstown in Dublin, was recording the heavy rain when a bolt of lightning appeared to explode on the opposite side of the courtyard, several meters from where she was standing, reports TheJournal.ie.

In the video you see a streak of light and hear a huge bang before Duffy falls to the ground in shock.

Because there was no visible damage done to the building, some at the college believe the lightning strike Duffy filmed was in fact a reflection — but nonetheless still very nearby.

Either way, it’s pretty scary and Duffy’s video has racked up almost 300,000 views on YouTube.

[TheJournal.ie.]

TIME Transportation

Video Captures Bus Exploding on Massachusetts Turnpike

No injuries have been reported

A bus on a Massachusetts highway exploded on Monday with the incident caught on camera.

Though the blast was violent enough to knock out the vehicle’s windows, there have been no reports of injuries, according to ABC News. The bus became engulfed in flames but firefighters eventually managed to get the blaze under control. One lane of eastbound traffic was closed due to the incident but reopened 20 minutes later.

The operating company, BoltBus, tweeted in the aftermath that the passengers were safe.

[ABC]

TIME space travel

Virgin Galactic’s Richard Branson Says the Risk of Space Tourism ‘Is Worth It’

And he's confirmed that he will be the first passenger on Virgin Galactic’s maiden flight

Despite the crash of Virgin Galactic’s SpaceShipTwo during a test flight Friday, killing co-pilot Michael Alsbury, the company’s founder Richard Branson says, “the risk is worth it.”

“Mike would have been the first to say that,” Branson told CNN Monday. “Test pilots would say that because they know the risk they’re taking, they know the importance of what they’re doing, we know the importance of what we’re doing.”

And the British entrepreneur confirmed that he would still be the first passenger on Virgin Galactic’s maiden space tourism flight.

“There is no way I would ask others to go on a Virgin Galactic flight if I didn’t feel it was safe enough for myself,” he said.

A spot on the flight will cost $250,000, and 800 passengers have already signed up to join Branson in becoming the world’s first space tourists. Branson said two more people signed up Friday to support the program after the fatal crash.

[CNN]

TIME stocks

Space Company’s Stock Plummets to Earth After Rocket Explodes During Liftoff

The company whose rocket exploded in a massive fireball about 200 feet in the air Tuesday is taking a beating on the stock market. Shares for Orbital Sciences are down 15% in early morning trading after the company’s unmanned spacecraft, the Antares, malfunctioned just moments into its attempted journey to deliver supplies to the International Space Station. Orbital stock was trading at about $25.50 around noon.

As TIME’s Jeff Kluger points out, the failed launch could be devastating for Orbital, which has been launching spacecraft for decades. The company is competing fiercely with the likes of Elon Musk’s upstart SpaceX to win NASA contracts to deliver supplies to the International Space Station. Orbital is seeking to extend its contract, and this accident won’t help matters.

TIME space

NASA’s Antares Explosion: What it Means

An unmanned Orbital Sciences Corp.'s Antares rocket explodes shortly after takeoff at Wallops Flight Facility on Wallops Island, Va. on Oct. 28, 2014.
Jay Diem—AP An unmanned Orbital Sciences Corp.'s Antares rocket explodes shortly after takeoff at Wallops Flight Facility on Wallops Island, Va. on Oct. 28, 2014.

The rocket's fortunately fatality-free failure to launch spells trouble for one of NASA's major contractors

The good news—the very, very good news—is that no one was aboard Orbital Sciences’ Antares booster when it exploded just six seconds after leaving the launch pad on Wallops Island, Va. at 6:30 PM EDT on Oct. 28. It was the fifth launch of the Antares and the fourth that was headed for the International Space Station (ISS) on a resupply mission. The booster made it barely 200 feet off the ground.

The bad news—the very, very bad news—is what this means for Orbital as a continued player in the competition to supply the ISS. It was in 2008 that Orbital (which has a long history in the space biz) and Elon Musk’s SpaceX (which had none at all) won a $3.5 billion NASA contract, with Orbital taking $1.9 billion of that for eight flights. Halfway through the contract, the company was looking to re-up, and this will not reflect well on them at the bargaining table.

Orbital was never a serious part of the even more furious competition to take over the manned portion of NASA’s low Earth orbit portfolio. The winners of that battle, named Sept. 16, were SpaceX again, and Boeing—a venerable part of the NASA family and prime contractor of the ISS. Tonight’s explosion would be a lot more worrisome if one of those two—already gearing up to carry people—had been responsible. But for Orbital, it will be bad enough.

Worse for the company is CEO David Thompson’s admission on Oct. 29 that part of the problem could be the AJ-26 engines used in the deceased booster’s first stage. Originally designed by the Soviet Union (that’s not a typo—we’re talking about Russia long before the fall of communism) the engines were later updated and retrofitted for the Antares booster.

It is too early to say if the AJ-26’s were indeed responsible for the explosion, but old hardware is old hardware and in an era in which the likes of Musk are starting with a blank page when they design their engines, taking outdated stuff off the shelf is not the way to inspire confidence. In 2012, a catty Musk made that point, telling Wired magazine:

One of our competitors, Orbital Sciences, has a contract to resupply the International Space Station, and their rocket honestly sounds like the punch line to a joke. It uses Russian rocket engines that were made in the ’60s. I don’t mean their design is from the ’60s—I mean they start with engines that were literally made in the ’60s and, like, packed away in Siberia somewhere.

Musk being Musk, that’s more than a little hyperbolic, but the snark still stung Orbital. It is an especially bad time for any aerospace company to have to be defending the use of Russian-made engines, ever since spring when U.S. sanctions against Russia over its invasion of Crimea led Deputy Prime Minister Dmitri Rogozin to mock America’s dependence on Russia’s Soyuz rockets to reach the International Space Station. “After analyzing the sanctions against our space industry,” Rogozin said, “I suggest to the USA to bring their astronauts to the International Space Station using a trampoline.”

More worrisome was Rogozin’s threat to limit sales to the U.S. the RD-180 engines that are used in America’s workhorse Atlas V rocket. That bit of bluster soured politicians on continuing to do space business with Russia at all and kick-started efforts to develop a domestic alternative to the RD-180. Now comes Orbital with an older, far worse Russian engine that just may have caused an entire rocket and its cargo to go up in flames.

A reputation-saving case the company could plausibly make—though it would be suicide to try—is the “stuff blows up” argument. Space travel is notoriously hard and rockets are notoriously ill-tempered. They are, after all, little more than massive canisters of exploding gasses and liquids, with the weight of the fuel often much greater than the weight of the rocket itself. This is not remotely the first time launch controllers have witnessed such a fiery spectacle on the pad and it won’t be the last. Realistically, there will never be a last.

But Orbital is supposed to be a senior member of the space community, not one of the freshmen like SpaceX or Richard Branson’s Virgin Galactic. No exploding rocket is good—especially when contracts are ending and NASA is again looking for free agents. It’s much worse for an outfit that’s been in the game for a while. Final determination of how bad the damage is will await the investigation into the cause of the explosion. But one thing’s certain: you wouldn’t want to be on the company’s Vienna, Va. campus tonight—on what is surely going to be the first of a lot of very long nights to come.

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