June 23, 2013

Baintha Brakk from the air.     Photo: ISS Earthkam

10 Climbers Killed in Pakistan

Taliban claims responsibility

An attack by the Pakistani Taliban has claimed the lives of nine tourists and one Pakistani on a mountaineering expedition in Northern Pakistan on Sunday. The foreigners were part of an expedition slated to climb Nanga Parbat, the world's ninth highest mountain and Pakistan's second highest peak. 

Wearing police uniforms, the attackers tied up the Pakistani guides before shooting the climbers as they slept in tents. The attack occurred around 1 a.m. as the climbers were camped only 4,000 feet above sea level. 

Unlike many other regions of Pakistan, the area surrounding Nanga Parbat has seen little violence in recent years and mountaineers were previously considered one of the few groups untouched by the danger. Mr. Khan, the nation's interior minister, has suspended the police chief and the chief secretary of the region in response to the attack, and has framed it as an attempt to disrupt Pakistan's relations with the world. 

"It is not just an attack on tourists," Mr. Khan told the New York Times. "It is an attack on Pakistan."

The Pakistani Taliban announced the assault was in retaliation for American drone strikes in the tribal belt which killed Taliban deputy leader, Wali ur-Rehman on May 29. However, it climbing group was comprised of at least five Ukrainians and three Chinese (thigh the nationality of the ninth tourist remains unclear).

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    Photo: Courtesy of Wikimedia Commons

Black Death Hits New Mexico Dogs

Officials warn residents to avoid rodents

Officials in New Mexico are warning residents in the East Mountains and Santa Fe county to be on the lookout after two dogs came down with the bubonic plague, more affectionately known as the Black Death.

“It is the plague,” said Dr. Mark Dimenna of the Environmental Health Department. “It is the bubonic plague, the Black Death. It’s the same organism that it always has been.”

Residents are advised to keep their dogs away from any rodent that might be carrying Black Death-laden fleas. These include rabbits, chipmunks, and squirrels. Experts also suggest removing brush and clutter, preferred hiding places for such animals, from around your house.

Dr. Paul Smith, also of the EHD, warned dog owners to be on the lookout for symptoms. “Dogs who do get sick will often exhibit a fever, be lethargic, just generally not acting normal,” he says. Cats can also be affected.

While there have been only 999 confirmed or probable cases in the U.S. since 1900, the Black Death is still potentially fatal.

For more on the Black Death, read how one man survived the plague

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    Photo: Nils Z/Shutterstock

Spain Cracks Doping Ring

84 arrested

Spanish police have arrested 84 people and confiscated over 700,000 doses of anabolic steroids, EPO, and growth hormones after busting two gangs that imported and trafficked the banned substances.

The gangs introduced more than 750 kilograms of drugs from China, Greece, and Portugal, marketing them at sports centers and homes. "Officers have dismantled two organizations importing the products, which can cause severe damage to health," the Ministry announced in a statement.

On June 13, Spain passed a new, stringent anti-doping law to boost Madrid's shot at the 2020 Olympics. 

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Jan Ullrich

Jan Ullrich     Photo: Rene Schwietzke/Flickr

Jan Ullrich Admits to Doping

Comes clean about his blood transfusion history

Jan Ullrich, Tour de France winner and five-time runner-up, admitting to doping with the help of Spanish doctor Eufemiano Fuentes. “At that time, nearly everyone was using doping substances and I used nothing that the others were not using,” he told German weekly Focus

Ullrich finished second three times to Armstrong in the Tour, in 2000, 2001 and 2003. “We are both guilty,” said Ullrich. “I am no better than Armstrong, but no worse either. The great heroes of old are now people with failings that we’ve got to come to terms with. I always knew that even Lance Armstrong would not get away with it.”

At the last-minute, Ullrich was barred from the 2006 Tour amid speculation that he had used illegal substances. He retired from cycling in February 2007, fighting legal charges that he doped but intimating that his entire generation was tainted in a series of public comments. 

In 2012, the Court of Arbitration for Sport sanctioned Ullrich, issuing a two-year ban backdated to August 2011, stripping him of all results since May 2005. 

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