Belgium first in minors’ physician-assisted suicide
Very few nations have laws permitting physician-assisted suicide, and of those countries, only the Netherlands and Belgium will permit the option for persons under the age of 18 with parental consent. The Netherlands, however, does have a minimum age of 12 to be considered. For two years, Belgium has allowed for a child of any age to exercise what proponents call his or her right to die with dignity, but this past week saw the first case ever of a minor doing so. The boy in question was 17 years old, and the federal euthanasia commission that approved his request stated that he had been “suffering unbearable physical pain.” Aside from the pain, the boy fulfilled other criteria set forth by the commission, including having a terminal illness and making multiple previous requests for euthanasia.
Bomb explodes in Chelsea, New York City
On Saturday evening, a small device was detonated in New York City’s Chelsea neighborhood, and a second device was discovered and disarmed only a few blocks away. As of Sunday, no international group has claimed responsibility for the explosion that resulted in the injury of 29 people. This event followed the explosion of a pipe bomb that occurred earlier Saturday morning in New Jersey where a charity race had been scheduled. The explosive device was placed in a construction box or trash can in front of a residence for the blind on 23rd Street. All 29 people who had been sent to the hospital following the incident have now been released and sent home. Cuomo continued that “[the bombers] want to instill terror… we’re not going to let them instill fear.” This sentiment was echoed by residents with one local agreeing that “the city’s built upon grit and whoever perpetrated this act of lunacy… their message would fall on very deaf ears.”
China launches second space station
Last week, China launched the Tiangong 2 from their launchpad in the Gobi Desert. Tiangong 2 is the second of the nation’s experimental space stations and follows its smaller prototype Tiangong 1, which was sent into space five years ago. While this is not the ideal space station that Beijing eventually wants to place into orbit, it’s a larger experimental space laboratory that, at 49 feet long, is large enough to accommodate other missions docking on it. In the next few months, two astronauts will be sent up to the station to remain for an entire month. The astronauts in question will spend their time in space researching quantum communications, gamma ray bursts and plant growth. Although China is somewhat of a newcomer to the scene of space exploration, the country has made ambitious strides in its efforts to develop Beijing’s space program. In addition to developing a full-scale space station, other goals include a moonwalk and eventually traveling to Mars.
Florida sinkhole contaminates aquifer
Several weeks ago, a worker for Mosaic, a phosphate company, happened upon a massive sinkhole. The change in landscape caused stored water contaminated with waste from the fertilizer production to slowly leak. This radioactive substance, known as phosphogypsum, seeped into a massive aquifer that serves as one of Florida’s main freshwater sources. The incidence took place at Mosaic’s New Wales location in Mulberry, Florida. Attempting to reassure the public, David Jellerson, a high ranking officer at Mosaic, explained that “groundwater moves very slowly,” and thus that state residents were not at risk of exposure. Dee Ann Miller, the spokeswoman for the state’s Department of Environmental Protection, stated that they are continuously checking and rechecking the sight to investigate the damages and contain the contaminated water.