NEWSFLASH: Need-to-Know Stories 04/28-05/4


The discussion of gay equality continued this week as Jason Collins became the first pro-athlete in U.S. history to come out as a gay man. In the Middle East, a devastating cargo plane crash killed seven people in Afghanistan. The crash occurred within seconds of take-off, and the cause is still unknown. The 139th Kentucky Derby was held this Friday, and through the rain and the mud, spectators who placed their bets on one lucky horse saw great rewards. Updates on the Boston Marathon bombings tell us that the Tsarnaev brothers had more planned than originally thought, and investigators are still looking into all possible connections to outside groups.

Lindsay Lohan finds herself in rehab once again, checking into a California center early on Friday morning. A video of Reese Witherspoon’s arrest involving disorderly conduct was released on Friday. And Cinco de Mayo brings more than just some Mexican celebration this year, but also a meteor shower with approximately 30 shooting stars per hour, peaking this evening around 9 p.m. EDT.

Wizards' Jason Collins comes out as first professional gay athlete

                                                                     via Sports Illustrated

The NBA received attention this week from more than just the playoffs that started last Saturday, April 20th. Jason Collins who plays for the Wizards announced that he was gay in a Sports Illustrated article on Monday. At age 34, Collins is the first openly gay athlete in professional sports.  The article describes why he decided to come out now, how he got to this place in his journey of self-discovery and his opinion of gay equality in this current day and age.

Collins has played for six pro teams over the course of his career and has made a name for himself as a dedicated and talented basketball player. He has a wide reach of contacts in the pro basketball community, and over the week, players like Kobe Bryant and Shaquille O'Neal have shown their support for Collins' newly announced sexual orientation. He even received calls from Oprah and President Obama to discuss his coming out. The Washington Post reports that Collins said that the response to his announcement has been remarkable, and that despite his fear of repercussions and consequences, it seems like the country was ready for something like this.

On the heels of Rhode Island becoming the 10th U.S state to legalize gay marriage on Thursday and the entire country of France legalizing gay marriage last Tuesday, Collins' announcement easily fits into the current social conversation. Through social media and other media outlets, the public can now know more about Collins’ story and the hope for many others concerning to gay equality.

U.S. military cargo plane crashes in Afghanistan

A civilian U.S. cargo plane crashed shortly after take-off on Monday from a base in Afghanistan, killing the seven Americans on board.  Although the Taliban had originally claimed responsibly for the crash, NATO denied this and said that there was no evidence of foul play.

Officials are still investigating the cause of the crash, but there have been discussions that it was related to a technical error. The crash was caught on film by a passing driver's dashboard camera and officials can now use this video to figure out what went wrong in the few moments before the crash. An MIT professor of aeronautics and astronautics analyzes the take-off leading up to the crash in a CNN report that shows and examines the video. 

The horrific crash came only two days after four U.S service members were killed in the crash of their surveillance plane due to bad weather. And on Friday, a U.S. Air Force plane used for refueling crashed in northern Kyrgyzstan, killing two of the three people on board. There has not yet been any report on the third crew member.

Orb wins the Kentucky Derby

This week ended on a lighter note, especially for those who placed their bet on the horse Orb, who won the 139th running of the Kentucky Derby. The horse race was held on Friday, drawing in spectators from around the world dressed in their finest bowties and floppy hats. Thanks to spouts of rainfall the derby was pretty muddy, but that didn’t stop the horses, or the viewers, from going all out in the race and in the celebrations.

From the start of the race, Orb was the fan favorite with 5-1 odds in his favor prior to the race, and 8-1 as the race started. Orb didn't disappoint fans with a final payout of $12.80 for every $1 bet. In two weeks he is scheduled to run the second leg of the Triple Crown, a thoroughbred race held on May 18th.

Boston Bombing Update

The investigation continues into the events surrounding the Boston Marathon bombings. As reported last week, the sole survivor of the attacks, 19-year-old Dzhokhar Tsarnaev, admitted that he and his brother were motivated by jihadist ideas.

Dzhokhar still remains in a Federal Bureau of Prisons medical facility and is charged with using a weapon of mass destruction, a crime that carries the death penalty. Explosives residue was found in the home of his older brother who was killed on the Friday following the marathon. However, he revealed that he and his brother had originally planned a suicide attack on Boston’s Independence Day celebration, but they changed their plans because the bombs were ready sooner than expected.

Three of Dzhokhar’s friends have also been charged in connection with the case. Two of them were charged with conspiring to discard items from his dorm room at the University of Massachusetts at Dartmouth, and the third was charged with making false statements to investigators. The FBI is currently examining Dzhokhar’s laptop and continuing their investigation.