Originally published on Wed March 21, 2012 11:24 am
Maybe it's the amazingly warm week we are having here in northern New England, but it's hard not to think about the sun these days. Even as we soak up its warmth, we also hear of fearsome solar storms flinging billions of tons of plasma into space, some of it toward us.
These coronal mass ejections tend to peak around the so-called solar maximum, a time of increased solar activity with a period of approximately 11 years. We are entering one.
There's a small spacecraft called Messenger that's been orbiting the planet Mercury for a year. Today, at the Lunar and Planetary Science Conference in Houston, astronomers revealed what they've learned about the innermost planet in our solar system, and some of the new knowledge is puzzling.
Maria Zuber, a planetary scientist at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, studied a large crater 900 miles across called Caloris.
Supreme Court Justice Anthony Kennedy, shown on Capitol Hill in April 2011, wrote the court's ruling Wednesday that for the most part, plea bargaining determines "who goes to jail and for how long. It is not some adjunct to the criminal justice system. It is the criminal justice system."
For the first time, the U.S. Supreme Court has ruled that defendants have a constitutional right to effective assistance of counsel in plea bargains. In a 5-4 decision Wednesday, the court went further, declaring that when a lawyer acts unethically or gives clearly wrong advice, the defendant may be entitled to a second chance at accepting a plea offer.
Israel says it will begin taking tougher action against illegal immigrants, many of whom are from Africa. Here, African immigrants demand the right to stay in Israel during a protest in Tel Aviv on Aug. 1, 2009.
Credit Ahmad Gharabli / AFP/Getty Images
A worker builds part of Israel's border fence near the Red Sea resort town of Eilat in February. Many illegal immigrants to Israel slip across the country's border with Egypt.
The place is Tel Aviv, but it doesn't look at all like Israel: Dozens of African men are sitting on broken stools and plastic at a makeshift restaurant.
Sudanese fare is on the menu. The men scoop up the stews and salads that remind them of home.
Abdullah Mohammad Mustafa started this restaurant with a couple of other African men who arrived in Israel five years ago from Sudan's troubled Darfur region. They are among some 40,000 Africans who have come to Israel illegally, and many have congregated in neighborhoods in Tel Aviv.