Actor David Carradine, known most for his role on “Kung Fu” and in the Kill Bill series, was found dead this morning in Bangkok, Thailand. Police initially reported that he has been found hanged and considered the case a suicide, but now police are questioning if it was accidental. The 72-year-old actor had been in Thailand to shoot a movie, BBC News.
A British citizen has reportedly been killed by al-Queda in northwest Africa. Edwin Dyer was kidnapped in Niger at the beginning of the year and held in Mali. Al-Queda demanded the release of Abu Qatad, a radical Muslim cleric, in exchange for Dyer, BBC News.
A baby white rhino has debuted at the Madrid zoo, a month after being born through articifical insemination. He is only the third white rhino to be bred this way because females in captivity have a hard time producing eggs, MSNBC.
Former South Korean President Roh Moo-Hyun has died from severe injuries sustained after falling off a mountain, reports say. Roh apparently fell off of the mountain and into a ravine. Police are looking into if it was a suicide or an accident. He was South Korea’s president from 2003 until 2008, BNO. Update: BNO reports a suicide note written by President Roh was found.
A U.S. appeals court has ruled against tobacco companies, finding that major companies deceived the public by marketing their cigarettes as healthier than others. Cigarettes with the labels “low tar,” “mild,” “light,” and “ultra light” are now banned and companies must publish “corrective statements,” NPR.
Heavy fighting in Somalia’s capital city Mogadishu has killed at least 36 people. Pro-government forces are fighting Muslim extremists who have taken control of the city. The fighting has lasted ten days and over 100 people have been killed. Over 50,000 citizens are said to have been displaced, BBC News.
A panel of scientists have named the top 10 species discovered in 2008, with the pygmy seahorse topping the list. Other new species include the Tahina spectablilis, which is a plant that dies under its own weight, and a bacteria found in hairspray, CNN.
An AP photograph of a U.S. soldier fighting the Taliban in pink boxers has become iconic in conflict in Afghanistan. U.S. Army Specialist Zachary Boyd was asleep when Taliban fighters began fighting upon the soldiers and didn’t have time to don his pants before engaging the enemy force. The picture became famous after it graced the cover of the New York Times, AP.
Thousands have fled Pakistan today after the government announced they were lifting the curfew in the Swat Valley region in order to allow residents to leave. Fighting between Taliban fighters and the U.S. and Pakistani armies has caused civilian deaths, including 140 deaths last week that occurred during an American air strike. The UN estimates about one millions people have fled in the last two weeks, BBC News.
General Motors has announced they will close 1,100 dealerships in the U.S. Yesterday, Chrysler announced the same intention and will close hundreds of sales outlets. Insiders say the news is worse for GM dealers as Chrysler dealers often sell other brands of cars alongside Chrysler, but GM dealers almost exclusively deal with GM models, NPR.
Armed security forces fired tear gas and shots into the Arabic daily newspaper al-Ayyam’s offices on Wednesday. On Monday, forces attempted to arrest the paper’s editor-in-chief Hisham Basharheel in connection to a death at his home last year when armed men attacked the house and security guards fired back, killing one attacker. However, Amnesty International reports that they believe he is being sought after the paper’s coverage of protests in southern Yemen, Amnesty International.
PBS is considering stripping affiliation of any PBS channel that broadcasts religious programming. PBS voted in 1985 to only allow nonpartisan, nonreligious, and nonsecular programming because the station wants to ensure fairness as it is receives government programming and public donations, Washington Post.
Watch a slideshow of this week’s biggest stories in science, including the Atlantis space shuttle launch and the discovery of roaming black holes, Discovery News.
Officials in Pakistan report that as many as 200 Taliban fighters were killed in military operations today. The UN has stated concern for civilians in the country, noting that between 150,000 and 200,000 have fled the area. The reports of how many Taliban members were killed is unsubstantiated, however, because foreign journalists are barred from the region, CNN.
Seven soldiers in Columbia have been killed in an ambush. FARC rebels, who have become infamous for their kidnapping and murderous acts, also wounded four soldiers, BBC News.
The attacks in Sri Lanka that were reported as having kiled 378 civilians are still being denied by the government who say a small amount of weapons were used against militants only. A government health official confirms the attacks, as well as TamilNet, a news site operated by Tamil Tigers supporters, Sky News.
A source says the U.S. health care industry plans to save $2 trillion in cost reductions over the next decade in an attempt to aid President Obama’s health care plans. More details as they emerge, AP.
The shuttle Atlantis will blast off tomorrow at 2pm EDT to service the Hubble Space Telescope for the last time. The launch will be broadcast live on the Science Channel in the U.S. tomorrow starting at 1:30pm, AP.
Drew Peterson, an ex-cop suspected of killing his fourth wife Stacey Peterson, has been arrested on murder charges today for killing his third wife. Kathleen Savio’s death had originally been ruled a drowning after she was found dead in dry bathtub. Peterson and Savio had been going through a divorce and were divided financial assets, but after her death Peterson received all the assets, CNN.
An ex-U.S. soldier has been found guilty of raping a 14-year-old Iraqi girl and killing her family. Steven Green, 24, will be sentenced Monday. Four other soldiers pled guilty and have received sentences between five and 110 years, BBC News.
Scientists have solved the mystery of where the Basking shark goes for the winter. The second largest fish in the world swims from New England to the Bahamas. Lead researcher Greg Skomal said of the discovery: “This is equivalent to finding polar bears in Kansas,” Discovery News.
L.A. Dodger outfielder Manny Ramirez has been suspended 50 games by the MLB for using an illegal substance. Reports say Ramirez used H.C.G., a substance usually used by infertile woman, but can be used in men to generate testosterone they have stopped taking steroids, NY Times.
Senator Arlen Specter caused a stir today when he switched from the Republican to the Democratic party after 40 years as a GOP member. The senior senator from Pennsylvania, Specter was first elected in 1980 and has been a moderate voice in the legislative body ever since. Specter said he switched parties because the Republican party has become too conservative, but openly admitted that the switch was in part a response to the fact that he could have potentially lost his seat in the 2010 primary election to Pat Toomey, Senatus.
The switch gives the Democratic majority 59 votes in the Senate, one shy of the magic number of 60 that would allow the party to block filibusters. The 60th vote could come from Democrat Al Franken, who is still in a legal battle with incumbent Norm Coleman over who won the election last November for Minnesota’s seat. A recount has given Franken a 312 vote lead, but Coleman is contesting the results. A poll shows 64 percent of Minnesotans want Coleman to concede the race, UPI.
Scientists have completed sequencing a cow genome and the results could lead to a massive transformation in farming. The genome map “will transform how dairy and beef cattle are bred” by allowing researchers to detect which cows will produce higher milk and meat quality. It also shows that cows are more similar to humans than rodents, BBC News.
We want to call attention to a blog called the Baghdad Bureau, written by New York Times’ reporters in Iraq’s capital city, which updates daily from the war torn country with a different perspective than the big news organizations. Read it here.