As anyone following the news for the past month should know, the most critical news story of April 2013 will have lasting historical significance. Yet, several other keys events have also occurred. The most significant include the following interesting and important, albeit largely depressing, items.
10. A Week of American Tragedies
In addition to the more publicized incidents in and around Boston, a series of other disasters occurred in America in that deadly week. Twelve bodies have been recovered in West, Texas after a fire and explosion at a fertilizer plant, said Texas police Sgt. Jason Reyes on Friday, 19 April 2013. The fire and blast Wednesday badly damaged a five-block area. Reyes said 200 people have been injured and 50 homes have been destroyed. “This is still being treated as a crime scene,” he said.
Then, on Saturday, 20 April 2013, five members of a snowboarding group were found dead after an avalanche trapped them on a mountain pass in Colorado’s White River National Forest, the Clear Creek County Sheriff’s Office told CNN.
The next week also started off on a terrifying foot when gunfire erupted at an apartment complex in a city south of Seattle and five people were shot to death, including a suspect who was shot by arriving officers, police said on Monday, 22 April 2013.
9. Three newly found planets are the best candidates so far for habitable worlds
NASA’s Kepler satellite, which is keeping an eye on more than 150,000 stars in hopes of identifying Earth-like planets, found the trio. “Earth is looking less and less like a special place and more like there’s Earth-like things everywhere,” said Kepler scientist Tom Barclay. Two of the planets, described in the journal Science, are 1,200 light-years away; the other is 2,700 light-years away. A light-year, the distance that light travels in a vacuum in one year, is nearly 6 trillion miles.
8. Three Milestones for Proponents of Homosexual Rights
The Boy Scouts executive committee wrote a resolution for consideration that would remove the restriction denying membership to youth on the basis of sexual orientation, the Boy Scouts of America said Friday, 19 April 2013. The scouts would maintain the current membership policy for all adult leaders of the Boy Scouts of America. Current policy prohibits gays. The news was one of several concerning homosexual rights.
On 23 April 2013, French lawmakers voted to legalize same-sex marriage despite vocal protests from some conservatives opposed to the step. Opponents, including the Roman Catholic Church, other religious groups and social conservatives, still hope to block the measure by filing a legal challenge with the Constitutional Council. Once the measure is enacted, France will be the ninth country in Europe to allow same-sex marriage.
Finally, later in the month, Jason Collins, who played with the NBA’s Washington Wizards this season, said he is gay, making him the first openly homosexual athlete in the four major American pro team sports. Collins made the disclosure in a column appearing in the upcoming issue of Sports Illustrated. “I’m a 34-year-old NBA center. I’m black. And I’m gay,” he said in the column. Collins finished the season with the Wizards and will become a free agent.
7. American Airline Woes
The Federal Aviation Administration cleared Boeing to make fixes to the battery system of the 787 Dreamliner. The news paves the way for the aircraft to start flying again. Nearly 50 Dreamliners have been grounded for the last four months, after two fires on Japanese jets prompted the FAA to order the planes grounded on January 16.
Other major aviation news from April 2013 included the U.S. government’s delaying of the implementation of a rule that would again permit passengers to carry small knives on commercial flights.
Meanwhile, The U.S. House of Representatives passed a measure aimed at ending budget-related air traffic controller furloughs that were blamed for widespread flight delays this week. White House spokesman Jay Carney said that President Barack Obama would sign the bill, which the Senate passed.
6. A Duo of Deadly Asian Earthquakes
An earthquake with a preliminary magnitude of 7.8 has hit the Iran-Pakistan border, the U.S. Geological Survey said. Iran’s state TV said at least forty people were killed, according to the Associated Press. Later in the month, at least 32 people killed and more than 600 injured after magnitude 6.6 earthquake strikes China’s Sichuan province, Communist Party official said on Saturday, 20 April 2013.
5. Former British Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher died at the age of 87.
Former British Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher died on Monday, 8 April 2013 following a stroke, her spokeswoman confirmed. Britain’s only female prime minister, Thatcher served from 1979 to 1990 as leader of the Conservative Party. She was called the “Iron Lady” for her personal and political toughness. Thatcher retired from public life after a stroke in 2002 and suffered several strokes after that.
4. Letters with Ricin Sent to Senator and President
In mid-April 2013, the specter of domestic terrorism once again reared its head in The United States of America in incidents that seemed to echo, albeit on a much smaller scale, the mass casualties of 11 September 2001 and the subsequent anthrax attacks. On Tuesday, 16 April 2013, an envelope that tested positive for the deadly poison ricin was intercepted at the U.S. Capitol’s off-site mail facility in Washington, congressional and law enforcement sources told CNN. After the envelope tested positive in a first routine test, it was retested two more times, each time coming up positive, the law enforcement source said. The envelope was addressed to a U.S. Sen. Roger Wicker, Republican-Mississippi, Fox News confirmed.
Then, on Wednesday, 17 April 2013, a letter to President Obama that was intercepted at an off-site facility tested positive for ricin, the FBI said. The envelope, addressed to the White House, was immediately quarantined by U.S. Secret Service personnel and a coordinated investigation with the FBI was initiated. The FBI said White House operations were not affected. The letter was intercepted Tuesday, the same day that a letter to U.S. Sen. Roger Wicker was intercepted at an off-site facility and tested positive for ricin. The letter addressed to the president was similar to the one sent to Wicker, a law enforcement source said.
3. The 117th edition of the Boston Marathon: The Bombing
What should have been the big news out of this annual sporting event was that Ethiopia’s Lelisa Desisa, 23, won the men’s division of the 2013 Boston Marathon. In the women’s division, Kenya’s Rita Jeptoo, 32, was the winner. It is her second Boston Marathon win. She also won it in 2006. Unfortunately, these triumphs of athleticism were overshadowed by outright despicable events that occurred later in the day when the death toll from two explosions near the Boston Marathon finish line rose to three, Police Commissioner Ed Davis said.
The explosions sent smoke billowing into the air at Copley Square, turning a site of celebration into a mess of destruction. The explosions occurred at about 2:45 p.m., more than two hours after the first of the race’s nearly 27,000 runners had crossed the finish line. A Chinese citizen was killed in the Boston Marathon bombings, the Chinese consulate in New York said. The press release did not identify the woman. Boston University earlier confirmed that the person was a graduate student at the school. The other two people killed in the attack were previously identified as 29-year-old Krystle Campbell of Medford, Massachusetts and 8-year-old Martin Richard. Eleven Boston-area hospitals treated 183 injured patients, hospital officials told CNN. Thirteen of them had limbs amputated. At least 89 had gone home as of late Tuesday, 16 April 2013.
The FBI reviewed surveillance video, phone records and an unexploded device, said a former federal law enforcement official who now works in the intelligence community. The FBI appealed for help from the public in the investigation. Rick DesLauriers, the special agent in charge of the FBI’s Boston division, told reporters that there was “no known imminent physical threat at any location where we might be conducting investigation right now.” DesLauriers said debris sent for analysis included pieces of black nylon, possibly from a backpack, and fragments of BBs or nails. On Wednesday, 17 April 2013, the lid of a pressure cooker was found on a roof near the scene of the Boston Marathon bombings, a federal law enforcement official with firsthand knowledge of the investigation tells CNN. One of the bombs was housed in a pressure cooker hidden inside a backpack, the FBI said in a Joint Intelligence Bulletin. The second bomb was also housed in a metal container, but there was not enough evidence to determine whether it was also in a pressure cooker, the FBI said. Discovery of the lid could yield vital clues as to the origin of the bomb. Meanwhile, investigators believe they have identified a suspect in the Boston Marathon bombings, a source who has been briefed on the investigation told CNN’s John King. The source said what officials believe is a breakthrough came from analysis of video from a department store near the site of the second explosion. Video from a Boston television station also contributed to the progress, this source said. From that analysis, the source said, authorities believe that they have identified a suspect. President Barack Obama said he ordered the “full resources of the federal government” to respond to the Boston bombing, and that he also called for increased security around the United States as necessary. President Obama said the Boston Marathon bombings were “an act of terror” against civilians. “It was a heinous and cowardly act,” the President said from the White House. As to the perpetrators, Obama said: “We will bring them to justice.”
“All Americans stand with the people of Boston,” Obama said. We at TopTenz.net agree with the president’s statement and ask readers to please donate to Celeste and Sydney, among any other worthwhile charities to help the victims of this unacceptable tragedy!
2. The Aftermath of the Boston Marathon Bombing
The chase, killing, and capture of the Boston bombers receive a separate entry due to the violent and harrowing nature of it as well as its considerable news coverage.
Handguns, a rifle and at least six bombs — three of which exploded — were found at the scene early Friday, 19 April 2013 after officers first confronted the two Boston Marathon bombing suspects in the darkness of a residential street, the Watertown, Massachusetts, police chief told CNN’s Wolf Blitzer on Saturday. A single officer first encounter the two cars that Tamerlan and Dzhokar Tsarnaev were driving, just before 1 a.m. Friday, Chief Edward Deveau said. Before the officer could get backup, the two cars stopped, and the brothers got out. “They jump out of the car and unload on our police officer,” Deveau said. “They both came out shooting — shooting guns, handguns. He’s under direct fire, very close by. He has to jam it in reverse and try to get himself a little distance.” Five other police officers, including two who had just finished their shifts, then arrived at what Deveau called a “tight area” in the middle of an intense shootout. One of the officers was wounded. “We estimate there was over 200 shots fired in a five- to 10-minute period,” Deveau said. One of the brothers threw an explosive at the officers. They later discovered it was a pressure cooker bomb, similar to the ones used at the marathon Monday, the chief said.
Federal prosecutors hoped to charge Boston bombing suspect Dzhokar Tsarnaev as early as Sunday, a Department of Justice official told CNN. Authorities have not publicly detailed how Tsarnaev was injured, but a federal official said the 19-year-old has injuries to the throat. He was apprehended Friday night. An official who has been briefed on the case said the suspect is “intubated and sedated.” Authorities have not publicly said what charges will be filed against Tsarnaev. A Justice Department official, speaking on condition of anonymity, earlier told CNN that he will face federal terrorism charges and possibly state murder charges.
By Sunday, 21 April 2013, the surviving suspect in the Boston Marathon bombings has communicated in writing with officials several times, a senior federal official, who has been briefed on the investigation, told CNN’s Fran Townsend. Dzhokhar Tsarnaev, 19, remains in serious but stable condition with a gunshot wound to the side of the neck, a federal law enforcement source with knowledge of the investigation said. On Monday, 22 April 2013, the White House announced that the surviving suspect in the Boston Marathon bombing will not be treated as an enemy combatant and instead will be tried in a civilian court, in spite of calls from Republican leaders to consider the military court option.
1. North Korea announced plans to restart a plutonium-producing reactor at Yongbyon
The U.S. military is sending a land-based missile defense system to Guam to defend against possible North Korean ballistic missile launches, according to a news release from the Department of Defense on Wednesday, 3 April 2013. The statement said the missiles, a truck-mounted launcher, and radar and target acquisition systems will be deployed in the “coming weeks.” The move followed weeks of bombastic threats against the United States and South Korea from the North’s young leader, Kim Jong Un, and his government.
Intercepted communications in early April indicated that North Korea could be planning to launch a mobile ballistic missile in the imminent future, a U.S. official told CNN on Thursday, 4 April 2013. The news came as South Korean Defense Minister Kim Kwan-jin told a parliamentary committee in Seoul that the North moved a medium-range missile to its east coast for an imminent test firing or military drill. The missile did not appear to be aimed at the U.S. mainland, Kim said, according to the semi-official South Korean news agency Yonhap. North Korea accused the United States of “pushing the situation on the Korean Peninsula to the brink of a war” by sending “the latest nuclear war hardware” to South Korea. Earlier that week, U.S. defense officials said two warships and a sea-based radar platform were being moved closer to the Korean Peninsula to monitor possible missile activity.
Two medium-range missiles were loaded onto mobile launchers on the East coast of North Korea, a U.S. official told CNN on Friday, 5 April 2013. South Korea’s semiofficial Yonhap news agency, citing military sources in Seoul, said the missiles are hidden in an unidentified facility and are ready to be launched. They believed a missile launch would be a “test” rather than a targeted strike.
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