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Disaster Porn, For Once for Real

I usually tend to dismiss near-miss science and astronomy disaster porn, which usually comes in the form of asteroids that almost but didn't slam into the earth and other related horrors. The Earth has been around for a few billion years and it's been many millions of years since the planet suffered a true global catastrophe. So what are the odds, in this tiny sliver of decades at the leading edge of history, when we're finally able to have some inkling of what's going on in near space, that we're actually finding out about some real global catastrophe that had any real chance of happening? Small, I'd say. Well, here may be the one exception that proves the rule. According to a NASA study, the Earth just missed what would have been not a civilization ending but a truly massive global catastrophe in 2012 because of a huge solar storm.

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Is This Real?

A UN official in northern Iraq is claiming that ISIS has ordered female genital mutilation for all women in Mosul between the ages of 14 and 46. But others are disputing the veracity of her claim or suggesting that she was unwittingly passed on a false claim. The current Middle East is a mix of horrific developments and agitprop and hoaxes aimed at inflaming various audiences in the region and the West. The fact that it is a UN official making the claim gives it weight. But it makes sense to treat this as yet as unconfirmed.

And There's More

After a botched execution that reportedly left Joseph Wood gasping and gagging for almost two hours before he finally died, Arizona officials followed up with a further sickly comical indignity: sending out an email announcement that got Wood's name wrong. State officials appear to have accidentally resent an execution announcement from last year since the email announced the execution of Robert G. Jones who was in fact executed in October of 2013.

That's Horrific

"A condemned Arizona inmate gasped and snorted for more than an hour and a half during his execution Wednesday before he died, his lawyers said, in an episode sure to add to the scrutiny surrounding the death penalty in the U.S." Details here.

As much as it's treated as sick or a joke, firing squad really would be a vastly more humane form of execution than the one we now have.