Cosmic calamity shakes Russians

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Updated 18 February 2013
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Cosmic calamity shakes Russians

A meteor that scientists estimate weighed 10 tons streaked at supersonic speed over Russia’s Ural Mountains yesterday, setting off blasts that injured some 1000 people and frightened countless more.
The Russian Academy of Sciences said in a statement that the meteor over the Chelyabinsk region entered the Earth’s atmosphere at a speed of at least 54,000 km and shattered about 30-50 km above ground.
The fall caused explosions that broke glass over a wide area. The Emergency Ministry says almost 1000 people sought treatment after the blasts and that many of them were hospitalized.
“There was panic. People had no idea what was happening. Everyone was going around to people’s houses to check if they were OK,” said Sergey Hametov, a resident of Chelyabinsk, about 1500 kilometers (930 miles) east of Moscow, the biggest city in the affected region.
“We saw a big burst of light then went outside to see what it was and we heard a really loud thundering sound,” he told The Associated Press by telephone.
Another Chelyabinsk resident, Valya Kazakov, said some elderly women in his neighborhood started crying out that the world was ending.
Some fragments fell in a reservoir outside the town of Cherbakul, the regional governor’s office said, according to the ITAR-Tass news agency. It was not immediately clear if anyone struck by fragments.
The agency also cited military spokesman Yarslavl Roshupkin as saying that a six-meter-wide (20-foot-wide) crater was found in the same area, which could be the result of fragments striking the ground.
Meteors typically cause sizeable sonic booms when they enter the atmosphere because they are traveling much faster than the speed of sound. Injuries on the scale reported yesterday, however, are extraordinarily rare. Interior Ministry spokesman Vadim Kolesnikov said that about 600 square meters (6000 square feet) of a roof at a zinc factory had collapsed. There was no immediate clarification of whether the collapse was caused by meteorites or by a shock wave from one of the explosions.
Reports conflicted on what exactly happened in the clear skies. A spokeswoman for the Emergency Ministry, Irina Rossius, told The Associated Press that there was a meteor shower, but another ministry spokeswoman, Elena Smirnikh, was quoted by the Interfax news agency as saying it was a single meteor. Amateur video broadcast on Russian television showed an object speeding across the sky about 9:20 a.m. local time, leaving a thick white contrail and an intense flash.
Donald Yeomans, manager of US Near Earth Object Program in California, said he thought the event was probably “an exploding fireball event.” “If the reports of ground damage can be verified, it might suggest an object whose original size was several meters in extent before entering the atmosphere, fragmenting and exploding due to the unequal pressure on the leading side vs. the trailing side (it pancaked and exploded),” Yeoman said in an email to The Associated Press. “It is far too early to provide estimates of the energy released or provide a reliable estimate of the original size,” Yeomans added.
The dramatic events prompted an array of reactions from prominent Russian political figures. Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev, speaking at an economic forum in the Siberian city of Krasnoyarsk, said the meteor could be a symbol for the forum, showing that “not only the economy is vulnerable, but the whole planet.”
Vladimir Zhirinovsky said, “It’s not meteors falling, it’s the test of a new weapon by the Americans,” the RIA Novosti news agency reported.
Deputy Prime Minister Dmitry Rogozin said the incident showed the need for leading world powers to develop a system to intercept objects falling from space.
“At the moment, neither we nor the Americans have such technologies” to shoot down meteors or asteroids, he said, according to the Interfax news agency.
Meanwhile, Russia’s authorities cautioned residents of the Urals to stay away from any unidentified objects.
“Russia’s Emergency Ministry warns all residents of the Urals... not to approach unknown objects,” the ministry said on its website, listing several numbers for people to use if they found something unusual.
Televised reports showed footage from the Chebarkul lake, about 60 km from Chelyabinsk, where a circular hole was discovered in the ice, which regional police said was cut by a meteorite. Local fishermen saw the falling meteor, which disintegrated into seven pieces.


Authorities: Rapper XXXTentacion shot dead in Florida

Jahseh Onfroy, also known as the rapper XXXTentacion. (AP)
Updated 8 min 7 sec ago
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Authorities: Rapper XXXTentacion shot dead in Florida

DEERFIELD BEACH, Florida: Troubled rapper-singer XXXTentacion was shot and killed Monday in Florida in what police called an apparent robbery attempt, authorities said.
The 20-year-old rising star, whose real name is Jahseh Dwayne Onfroy, was pronounced dead Monday evening at a Fort Lauderdale-area hospital, the Broward Sheriff’s Office said. He was shot earlier outside a Deerfield Beach motorcycle dealership.
XXXTentacion had been at RIVA Motorsports checking out inventory, the sheriff’s office said. He was in a black luxury vehicle and preparing to leave when two armed suspects approached him. At least one of them fired, and then both suspects fled the scene in a dark-colored SUV. Investigators don’t have a motive, and no arrests have been made.
Stephanie Martinez, a 29-year-old mother who lives in the neighborhood, was just coming back from the pool with her kids when she heard three shots. She drove to the end of the street and saw the rapper’s body in the car.
“He has his mouth open and his hand out. Two people went over and checked his pulse,” said Martinez, who also saw blood. “It’s just weird because he should’ve had security and stuff with him.”
On Twitter, his peers expressed shock and sadness.
Kanye West said: “rest in peace ... I never told you how much you inspired me when you were here thank you for existing.” Producer Diplo posted a photo of the two together and said, “Thanks for inspiring me.” Travis Barker tweeted: “I’m at a loss for words... speechless #RIPXXXTentacion Loved collaborating with you. You were a true artist ...”
And J. Cole said, in part: “RIP X. Enormous talent and limitless potential and a strong desire to be a better person. God bless his family, friends and fans.”
The entertainer, who sported dreadlocks and a number of facial tattoos, was a rising star and notched a No. 1 album in March with his sophomore effort “?” and had a top 10 hit with “Sad!” but was facing trial on charges that he beat up his pregnant girlfriend.
XXXTentacion racked up huge streaming numbers — on Spotify, his “Sad!” had more than 270 million streams and was on its Top 50 chart this week in the United States and globally. He also has several songs that have been declared platinum, including “Changes,” “Roll in Peace” with fellow rapper Kodak Black and “Look at Me!“
In interview with XXL magazine, which named him an up-and-coming artist last year, the rapper cited Nirvana, the Notorious B.I.G. and Tupac Shakur among his musical influences.
“Obviously, I’m one of the greatest of this generation, the upcoming generation, as far as artistry. ... And I say that humbly,” he said in a video interview with the outlet last year.
But much of his brief career had been mired in controversy. In 2016, he was arrested on charges including home invasion for a 2015 incident, and less than a month later was arrested on charges that he attacked his girlfriend, who was pregnant at the time, and was jailed, and later faced more charges including witness tampering.
Regarding a June 2017 attack at a San Diego concert, the following messages were posted on XXXTentacion’s Twitter account: “security and venue set me up, I got sucker punched and knocked out, it is what it is.”
A subsequent tweet said,” “next time make sure you kill me so I can’t talk (expletive).”
He was released from jail on house arrest late last year and was released from house arrest earlier this year to allow him to tour. His album “?” was released in March and went to No. 1.
In an interview earlier this month with the Miami New Times, XXXTentacion described his upbringing, which included seeing his mother infrequently and being raised by friends, other family and babysitters. His mother would buy him clothes, phones and other gifts. He told the paper he used violence so she would engage with him.
“I used to beat kids at school just to get her to talk to me, yell at me,” he said.
XXXTentacion was initially one of two artists Spotify removed from its promoted playlists in May in accordance with its new policy on hateful music and conduct. But after a backlash in the music industry, Spotify backpedaled and said it would no longer attempt to police conduct and restored XXXTentacion to its playlists (although they did not do the same for R. Kelly).
While he made headlines for his legal woes, he connected to millions of fans musically. Among the topics he spoke about was depression and addressed it in his music.
In one video posted to social media, he said: “If worse things come to worse, I (expletive) die a tragic death or some (expletive), and I’m not able to see out my dreams, I at least want to know that the kids perceive my message and were able to make something of themselves.”
He continued later: “I appreciate and love all of you and I believe in you all; do not let your depression make you, do not let your body define your soul, let your soul define your body. Your mind is limitless ....you are worth more than you can believe.”