Plans to privatize space journeys just blew up in NASA’s face. The unmanned Antares rocket — a $200-million project by contractor Orbital Sciences Corporation — exploded in midair along the Virginia coast last night just seconds after leaving the launchpad. No one was hurt, but the accident caused significant property damage, including the loss of 5,000 pounds of cargo for the International Space Station. Mission control launched an investigation, and investors sent the contractor’s stocks southward by 15 percent in after-hours trading.
The Presidential Daily Brief
Some love rules, others hate them. In the U.S., politicians and a newly freed nurse have been slamming strict quarantines, with President Obama criticizing tough confinement demands and nurse Kaci Hickox threatening to defy them. Meanwhile, America’s UN envoy hailed Ebola containment efforts in West Africa — namely safer burials — that have helped reduce the deadly disease’s spread. And back in the U.S., only one known case of the virus remains.
What’s a little profit when you’re Mark Zuckerberg? He didn’t mention the word to shareholders Tuesday, and instead spoke of increasing spending up to 75 percent next year after hitting the mobile ad jackpot. The social network’s third-quarter revenues reached $3.2 billion, humbling analysts. The CEO wants to develop WhatsApp (which has already cost $21.8 billion), the untested Oculus VR, and even bring the Internet to poor Zambians. But when profits are up 90 percent for the quarter to $806 million, you can afford to be generous.
No more high-speed Internet for you! That’s essentially what AT&T tells millions who use more than five gigabytes of data in a month, even though they’re paying for “unlimited” plans. The subsequent restriction reduces connection speeds by as much as 90 percent, which has prompted the Federal Trade Commission to sue. “’Unlimited’ means unlimited,” the agency said, seeking to speed up compensation for slower surfing. AT&T didn’t deny the restrictions, but said it had been “completely transparent” with customers.
They’re coming to the rescue. Scores of Iraqi Peshmerga fighters are heading to the Syrian border via Turkey in order to aid Kurdish troops in Kobane. A U.S.-led air campaign has helped the effort, but the ISIS militants continue to fight for control of the border town. And while Turkish leaders have been hesitant to send their own troops, they’ve finally opened the door — thanks to Western pressure — to enable other fighters willing to join the fray.
President of Zambia Michael Sata dies at 77. (CNN)
Hundreds missing, 10 dead in wake of Sri Lankan landslide. (BBC)
Endangered tortoises make a giant comeback from 15 to 1,000. (Smithsonian)
Today’s Fed statement to mark end of quantitative easing. (FT) sub
Lava flow reaches Hawaiian town. (ABC)
This was no cover-up. Englishman Stephen Gough — aka “The Naked Rambler” — lost his bid to have public nudity deemed a human right. The European Court of Human Rights told the former Royal Marine, who has been arrested more than 30 times for baring all, that his actions go “against the standards of accepted public behavior.” Gough, 55, didn’t understand how any “sane person” could be offended by his naked bod, but the ruling narrows his options to a fig leaf or prison walls.
Talk about an omen. The reigning Spurs received their championship rings before a season opener where they shone against Dallas. Alamo City hero Tim Duncan put off retirement one more year to see if he could help the team win the one hosanna his career lacks — winning it all twice in a row. Last year’s team motto, emblazoned on the rings, reads “Good to Great.” Can they turn “Great” into Epic?
It isn’t The War of the Worlds, but it’s been a struggle. More than 40 years in the making, the Citizen Kane director’s last work may finally reach theaters. The Other Side of the Wind was in production when Welles died in 1985, but since then the unedited footage has been tied up in legal squabbles. Now, Royal Road Entertainment says it is buying the rights to 1,083 reels, and it hopes to assemble the film for the silver screen by May 6, 2015 — the director’s 100th birthday.
Future Google searches may travel even farther — inside your body. The Internet giant’s Life Sciences department is working on teeny tech: intravenous machines, swallowed as pills, to detect disease and track down cancer cells. These nanoparticles, the “nexus between biology and engineering,” would be so small that 2,000 could fit inside a single blood cell. They would be called back with a magnet to download the intelligence they’d gathered on their Jules Verne-like journey to the center of the girth.
Will the Royals grab the crown? Kansas City had their backs against the wall in Game Six yesterday, but in a do-or-die situation, they emphatically did, shutting out San Francisco 10-0. KC jumped to an early 7-0 lead in the second inning with a slew of well-placed hits, and the Giants never mustered a response. Home teams have won nine straight Game Sevens, but there’s no guarantee — especially with Mr. Shutout, Madison Bumgarner, lurking in the bullpen.
Do you believe … that science and religion can be pals? The pontiff has once again espoused tolerance from the Catholic Church, this time for science. In comments to the Pontifical Academy of Sciences, Francis explained — with a nod toward evolution — that God isn’t a “magician with a magic wand able to do everything,” and that He let humans develop. Francis isn’t the first pope to say it, but he’s reiterating that simultaneous belief in both evolution and creation doesn’t require a leap of faith.