National Aeronautics and Space Administration of the United States NASA has said that the Earth had a near miss July 23, 2012 with a giant solar flare or Coronal Mass Ejection CME from the most powerful solar storm on the sun in over 150 years.
Daniel Baker from University of Colorado was quoted as saying “If it had hit, we would still be picking up the pieces,”
He added that Earth and its inhabitants were fortunate that the 2012 eruption occurred when it did and not a week earlier.
Scientists say that a direct CME hit would have the potential to eliminate communication networks, GPS, and electrical grids to cause widespread blackout.
Suspected Taliban militants have killed 15 Afghan civilians execution-style after stopping two vehicles travelling in central Afghanistan.
The armed attackers killed 11 men, three women and one child in Ghor Province.
According to local authorities, the gunmen made the vehicles pull over and ordered everyone out, after which they lined the passengers up on the side of the road and shot them one by one.
Ghor provincial police Chief Fahim Qaiem said one man managed to flee.
No group has claimed responsibility for the crime, which took place just as two Finnish female aid workers were killed by unidentified gunmen in the western city of Herat.
The Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ) has called on the Iranian government to immediately release four detained journalists, three of whom it said had US-Iranian nationality.
Two of the detainees are Jason Rezaian, the Tehran correspondent for the Washington Post, and his wife Yeganeh Salehi, a correspondent for the United Arab Emirates-based newspaper the National, the CPJ said in a statement.
Iran is known to have a dismal record with regard to its treatment of imprisoned journalists.
Rezaian, 38, has dual US-Iranian nationality and has worked for the Post in Tehran since 2012. The Post reported that Salehi “has applied for US permanent residency”.
Iran does not recognise dual citizenship.
US State Department deputy spokeswoman Marie Harf said Washington was aware of the reports of the detention of three US citizens in Iran; saying that they were not able to comment further due to privacy concerns.
Besides the four, there are 35 journalists in prison in Iran, according to CPJ.
French President Francois Hollande has said that there were no survivors of the crashed Air Algerie jetliner, and one of the aircraft’s two black boxes had been found in the wreckage.
He added that the black box of the aircraft, retrieved by a French military unit, is being taken to the Malian city of Gao.
Air traffic controllers lost contact with the plane early on Thursday after pilots reported severe storms.
The 116 passengers on the Air Algerie flight included 51 French citizens.
French Interior Minister Bernard Cazeneuve told French radio network RTL that the aircraft was destroyed at the moment of impact, adding that though no conclusions had been made; there were reasons to believe the plane did not crash due to weather conditions.
Efforts to secure a ceasefire between Israel and the militant Hamas movement have intensified as the death toll in the 18-day-old conflict continues to climb.
More than 800 Palestinians have now been killed, as well as 34 Israelis.
Gaza faced more Israeli shelling and air strikes overnight, while Israeli towns raised the alarm over Hamas rockets Friday morning.
United States Secretary of State John Kerry is expected to discuss with Israel’s security cabinet.
In the latest incident to incite tensions, a shelling of an United Nations-run school shelter on Thursday left at least 15 people dead.
The deaths prompted outrage from Palestinians and from the UN, with Secretary General Ban Ki-moon calling it “totally unacceptable”.
Meanwhile, Qassam Brigades, Hamas’ military wing, has announced it shelled Tel Aviv’s Ben Gurion airport with three rockets, the second attack in a week on the Israel’s main international airport.
An Israeli military spokesperson confirmed that rockets were fired towards the airport from the Gaza Strip today.
At least 17 children have been killed after a train crashed into their school bus at an unmanned railway crossing in Telangana a state in the Southern region of India Thursday morning. The bus driver, who was allegedly on the phone and failed to see the advancing train, was also killed.
40 children of a private school, mostly below the age of 11, were in the bus when the accident took place in the Medak district, 70 kilometres from the state capital of Hyderabad.
The police say 21 children have been injured in the accident and hospitalized.
The accident sparked anger among locals, who say they have been asking for gates to secure the railway crossing in the district.
United Kingdom investigators are to start examining the flight data recorder from the downed Malaysia Airlines plane.
The Air Accidents Investigation Branch in Farnborough will start the process almost a week after the plane crashed in eastern Ukraine.
All 298 people on board flight MH17 were killed in the crash in Ukraine on 17 July.
British accident investigators will attempt to retrieve data from the recorders following a request by authorities in the Netherlands.
The data recorder records technical information on the performance of the aircraft.
The other box takes down sounds such as pilots’ voices and, potentially, an explosion.