- New dwarf planet discovered
- New UK PM
- Attack in Nice, France
- Venezuela still having problems
- Coup in Turkey
- Nintendo doing things
- 9/11 report released and Congress takes a long recess
Science and Space
An international team of astronomers discovered a new dwarf planet in our solar system. It’s described as the 18th largest object in the Kuiper Belt, which is an area also home to Pluto. The planet has a large elliptical orbit that keeps it between 3.1 and 7.5 billion miles from the sun. Its current name is RR245; when its exact orbit is confirmed it’ll get an official name.
July 14th was the first anniversary of NASA’s New Horizons spacecraft completing its Pluto flyby. July 16th was the 4th anniversary of Apollo 11‘s launch. (Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin stepped onto the moon’s surface on July 21st.)
In Nice, France, a truck drove through a crowd on Bastille Day, killing over 80 people and injuring over 200. ISIL (aka ISIS, Daesh) claimed responsibility for the attack. The driver seems to have been radicalized earlier this year. Five people were arrested following the attack and explosives were found in the truck. A local newspaper, Nice-Matin, reported that grenades and firearms were found in the driver’s possession. Police killed the man before he could do more damage.
Venezuela is still having severe economic issues. “The recent slump in oil prices devastated the OPEC nation’s socialist economic model, leading to snaking grocery lines, empty supermarket shelves and growing anger among the roughly 30 million residents.” (Reuters)
President Nicolas Maduro put the military in charge of five seaports. The country’s oil production has plunged to a 13-year low for a few reasons, including rolling blackouts. Protests and vigilantism are either increasing or remaining steady. Food lines are a daily occurrence and people can wait hours for a chance to buy food.
On Friday, a coup began and ended within 24 hours. Over 1000 people were injured or killed during the chaos.
An initial report from the BBC said “An army group in Turkey says it has taken over the country, with soldiers at strategic points in Istanbul and jets flying low in the capital, Ankara. A statement read on TV said a ‘peace council’ now ran the country and there was a curfew and martial law. It is unclear who the army group is.” Later we learned that the faction called itself the “Peace at Home Council.”
Thousands of judges and military members have been fired or detained, including colonels and generals. President Recep Erdogan called the coup “an act of treason” and vowed that those who participated would pay a heavy price. He later called the insurgency a “blessing” because “it will allow us to purge the military.” This worries some people because of Erdogan’s previous attempts to consolidate his power. His position of president was once more of a ceremonial role, but he’s expanded the powers of the office.
The White House and EU condemned the coup and pressed for a “democratic” solution. People around the world are pointing fingers at different causes for the coup – Turkish unrest, the CIA, Fethullah Gulen, and even Erdogan himself. With the amount of people fired or detained in such a short amount of time, some believe there was a pre-made list.
Live updates from the BBC: http://www.bbc.com/news/live/world-europe-36811357
Live updates from the Guardian: https://www.theguardian.com/world/live/2016/jul/15/turkey-coup-attempt-military-gunfire-ankara
Nintendo plans to release a newer, but smaller, version of its old NES released in 1985. It’ll come preinstalled with 30 NES games and is supposed to have a “plug and play” interface.
Pokemon Go continues to consume the world, eclipsing Twitter in number of active users. Nintendo’s shares have increased dramatically. Their market value has increased by over 10 billion USD since Go’s launch. The smartphone game is being released to more locations worldwide, and sponsored areas may become a thing.
United States of America
Congress (via the House Intelligence Committee) released 28 previously classified pages from a 2002 investigation into September 11th, 2001. The terrorist attack killed 2,996 people and injured more than 6,000. Some pages still have sections that are blacked out.
As most of the hijackers were Saudi nationals, people have long suspected that Saudia Arabia’s government had a hand in the attack. The release of the 28 pages exonerates them, according to Saudi foreign minister Adel al-Jubeir. The report itself says the “potential” links are unconfirmed. It’s likely to cause more speculation than anything else.
Congress will now go on a 7 week vacation, its longest recess in 30 years. Instead of working on bills, the general political focus seems to be on the presidential election and local elections. 87.66% of politicians in Congress are up for re-election this year. A total of 469 out of 535 seats in the U.S. Congress (34 Senate seats and all 435 House seats) are up for election.