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Photo: Joy in the streets of Cairo

Egyptians celebrate the news of the resignation of President Hosni Mubarak, who handed control of the country to the military, at night in Tahrir Square in downtown Cairo, Egypt on February 11, 2011. Photo: AP/Ben Curtis

Mubarak resigns! A live blog

Egyptians celebrate the news of the resignation of President Hosni Mubarak, who handed control of the country to the military, at night in Tahrir Square in Cairo, Egypt, Friday, Feb. 11, 2011. Photo: AP/Tara Todras-Whitehill

5:21 p.m.

“The people and the army are in one hand”

Another dispatch from Egyptian-American journalist Hoda Osman:

Just got back from Tahrir. The army is there keeping the order. They’re not even in the square, they’re just blocking the exits and entrances, but no one is being searched anymore. Now people are just freely walking around and chanting and drinking juice. The nice thing that I really admire is there was someone on a speaker who announced a moment of silence for a minute for those who died. He then announced “We will celebrate till 6 in the morning… and then we’ll start cleaning up Tahrir Square and we’ll make it look better than before.”

People are not afraid of the military taking over. Everyone is taking pictures with the soldiers around the square. One of the big chants is “the people and the army are in one hand.” People trust them because they said that they will guarantee all the changes the people want. The people got what they wanted.

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Photo: Firemen and ice

Firefighters inspects the aftermath of a fatal gas explosion in a residential neighborhood in Allentown, Pa., on Feb. 10, 2011. Photo: AP/Matt Rourke

Real astronauts on a virtual Mars

The Martian surface simulator during Orlan suit testing. Photo: ESA

After 250 or so days of interplanetary flight, six men — three Russians, a Frenchman, a Chinese and an Italian — are preparing to land on Mars. This week their lander was preparing to detach from the mothership, and three of the six will descend toward the red planet where they will touch down on Saturday.

But the “red planet” on which they will land is actually on Earth. In fact, the whole thing is meticulously simulated. The Martian landscape they hope to soon “explore” is contained within a sealed room — in Moscow, Russia.

The virtual journey is part of a European Space Agency study, the Mars500, that is designed to simulate an actual mission to our second-closest planetary neighbor. The crew is hermetically sealed within four interconnected habitat modules with a total area of only 550 cubic meters; soon, they will leave the modules where they have spent the majority of the last year and explore the external “Martian surface” — a larger module, also hermetically sealed.

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LCD Soundsystem, I love you but you’re bringing me down

LCD Soundsystem performs at Alexandra Palace in London on Oct. 11, 2010. Photo: Flickr/Paul Adrian

First the White Stripes and now LCD Soundsystem?

LCD Soundsystem recently announced that they will be performing one final show on April 2 at Madison Square Garden in New York City. While many other acts have made similar announcements in the past — only to regroup for another final show the following year — we have a feeling these guys are serious.

Even though, we hope they’re not.
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Egyptians want democracy, not military rule

The headline on Al Jazeera English, the “paper of record” for the protests in Egypt, currently reads: “Hosni Mubarak may step down.” Egyptian state television is reporting that the president will address the country tonight. The situation is clearly in flux; Al Jazeera is posting updates every two to three minutes.

I called journalist Hossam el-Hamalawy, who has been blogging and tweeting updates from the streets of Cairo since protests erupted 17 days ago, (with a brief interruption when the Internet went down) to find out what the people in Tahrir Square think of the developments.

He says that the flurry of activity and speculation erupted after a one-line statement from the Supreme Council of the Armed Forces saying that the military will meet the demands of the people.
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A film enters the fight against modern slavery

From Robert Bilheimer's "Not My LIfe."

Human trafficking, the illegal trade of human beings that includes forced prostitution and labor, affects between 12 to 27 million people globally.

Filmmaker Robert Bilheimer tackles this issue in his new film, ”Not My Life,” narrated by Ashley Judd, about the families and children who are personally affected by this modern-day slavery.

This documentary is the second in a series that focuses on the director’s vision of “the way the world is,” following the critically reviewed “A Closer Walk,” which explores the global AIDS epidemic.

Susan Bissel, chief of the Child Protection Section for UNICEF, said, “‘Not My Life’ takes a close look at the underlying causality that so many other filmmakers have missed [and] it will change the way we see our lives, in some very fundamental ways.”

I recently caught up with Bilheimer to discuss his latest documentary and the global pandemic of slavery.

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Photo: What lies beneath

Pedestrians walk past a pile of garbage and snow mixed together in Brooklyn, New York, on February 8, 2011. Photo: AP/Seth Wenig

The moguls covering the sidewalks of New York City for weeks have finally started to melt, but what has been hiding underneath all that white stuff is pretty nasty. The city’s Sanitation Department had to suspend garbage collection for days at a time to use the trucks for snow removal. This meant that approximately 11,000 tons of trash per day were being piled onto city sidewalks and not being collected.

Then add more snow, discarded furniture, rotting food, even more snow and doggie waste from irresponsible owners (yes, my neighbors included) and you end up with a soggy pile of rancid garbage several feet high in some places. The Sanitation Department is responsible for plowing streets and crosswalks, but the task of clearing sidewalks falls to residents and business owners. Lacking any alternative, they must shovel the snow onto, you guessed it, the garbage piles.

But all that snow had its perks, too. Alternate side parking rules had been suspended since January 20, which relieved New Yorkers of the ritual of moving parked cars every few days. Unfortunately, when the rules went back into effect Monday, nearly 10,000 people didn’t get the memo. The city issued more than 9,900 parking tickets, and at $55 each, that’s almost $500,000 in fines for just that one day.

Photo: Ninja toddler

Shizuku Morita of Tokyo, 3, comes out of a dressing room in his ninja costume during a Japan Week event to promote Japanese culture and tourism to Iga city, one of the birthplaces of what we now refer to as the ninja. Photo: AP/Junji Kurokawa