A five-month trip around the world using a solar-powered aircraft – the first flight of its kind – got under way early on Monday when the Solar Impulse 2 took off from Abu Dhabi. The first leg of the journey – to Oman – is expected to take about 12 hours.
The plane, which is 72 meters wide – wider than the wingspan of a jumbo jet – and carries 17,000 solar cells in its wings, is piloted by Swiss adventurers Bertrand Piccard and Andre Borschberg.
Zachary Shahan at Clean Technica has a video explaining the origins of the project.
Follow the plane’s progress at the Solar Impulse web site and watch live video from inside the cockpit here:
* WORLD * One of five men arrested on suspicion of involvement in the murder of Russian opposition politician Boris Nemtsov has apparently confessed, according to a Moscow judge. The others are in custody, while a sixth suspect was said by state-run TV to have blown himself up after a standoff with police in the Chechen capital, Grozny.
(image: Reuters/Sky News Australia)
Meanwhile, the Washington Post reports that anti-US sentiment in Russia currently “is even worse than it was in the Soviet Union.”
As commemorations of the 50th anniversary of the Selma march continued, Attorney General Eric Holder told crowds that access to voting was “under siege” following recent state laws and a 2013 United States Supreme Court decision that weakened the Voting Rights Act. Holder said:
“Equality is still the prize. Still, even now, it is clear that we have more work to do; that beloved community is not yet formed; that our society is not yet at a just peace.”
Attention was also focused this weekend on Holder’s potential successor, Loretta Lynch, whose confirmation process is now the longest in recent history. Her confirmation vote by the full Senate could come as early as this week.
A day after Nigeria’s Boko Haram militant group pledged allegiance to ISIS, military sources in neighboring Chad and Niger said a ground and air offensive against Boko Haram was under way in northern Nigeria.
This weekend saw the one-year anniversary of the disappearance of Malaysian Airlines MH370, with an interim report on the incident showing that the battery for an underwater locator beacon had expired more than a year before the plane vanished, possibly compromising search efforts.
* POLITICS * Amid a critical thumbs up for Kate McKinnon’s portrayal of Hillary Clinton on SNL, the debate continues over the former Secretary of State’s personal email. Ron Fournier at National Journal writes that the emails “may be a key to addressing ‘pay-to-play” whispers at Clinton Foundation.” The piece prompted this response from former Democratic Chairman Howard Dean:
Democratic Rep Donna Edwards – the first Black woman to serve in Congress from Maryland – is apparently set to announce on Tuesday that she will seek the Senate seat held by retiring Democrat Barbara Mikulski. Rep Chris Van Hollen has already received the endorsement of Senate Minority Leader Harry Reid.
* MEDIA * Interesting piece in Press Gazette on the first ten years of Guido Fawkes and plans for its next stage after Britain’s May general election.
Asked if he has run any stories that were legally sound, but may have gone “too far” in other ways, [Paul] Staines says: “I feel if we haven’t taken it too far at least once a month we’re not doing the right thing. Some things maybe we’d have done differently if we’d thought about it again.”
Clever sub-deck on this front from The Sun following the weekend’s tragic story from Britain’s prestigious dog show.
With the Boston marathon bombing trial resuming on Monday, Poynter’s Benjamin Mullin looks at how the Boston Globe is covering it.
* BUSINESS * Monday is launch day for the Apple Watch. Here’s three reasons why it could be a game-changer. There could also be announcements about other products. The event begins at 1pm ET; here’s a preview and rumor checklist via Mashable, and here’s where you can livestream it, via Wired.
In the wake of it’s poor performance in last week’s Federal Reserve “stress tests” investors are worried that Goldman Sachs could be barred by regulators from buying back its own stock or increasing dividends, the New York Times reports.
The Washington Post reports how utilities are waging a campaign against rooftop solar panels.
Industry officials say they support their customers’ right to generate electricity on their own property, but they say rooftop solar’s new popularity is creating a serious cost imbalance. While homeowners with solar panels usually see dramatic reductions in their electric bills, they still rely on the grid for electricity at night and on cloudy days. The utility collects less revenue, even though the infrastructure costs — from expensive power plants to transmission lines and maintenance crews — remain the same.
Upcoming auctions for some rare US coins are set to push sales for the sector even higher than the record $536million last year, when a dozen coins sold for more than $1million.
* SPORTS * A focus of the opening weekend of the MLS season was the meeting of two new franchises – Orlando City and New York City FC, who played to a 1-1 draw in front of 62,000 fans at the Citrus Bowl in Florida. They were skippered by their international marquee players – Kaka and David Villa respectively.
Christine Brennan at USA Today says the NFL will “hold an educational session on domestic violence and sexual assault for all prospective players at its upcoming draft and will expand background checks on players with issues of violence in their past.”
With the University of Kentucky mens basketball team closing out an unbeaten regular season schedule, Five Thirty Eight crunched the numbers on the probability of running the board to this year’s NCAA championship.
* CULTURE * Sunday was International Womens’ Day and the Not There campaign in conjunction with the Clinton Foundation and its No Ceilings report, helped create awareness for gender inequality. In New York, women’s images vanished from adverts and social media.
If Joni Mitchell was looking for a tenure track position in the philosophy department, Jedidiah Anderson at McSweeney’s has her application letter:
“I am prepared to teach core graduate and undergraduate courses on Plato, Existentialism, and Urban Development. I find that the use of case studies in my Urban Development class is particularly effective; one of central importance in my class is the study of the gentrification of the town of Paradise, in which the expansion of parking, due to the construction of three small buildings — a pink hotel, a boutique store, and an entertainment venue, resulted in a snowballing effect that resulted in deforestation in the region, the commodification of remaining forests as a tourist attraction, the proliferation of DDT in local crops, and a sharp increase in crime. (In the interest of personal transparency, I must admit that my interest in this particular case stems from the abduction of my father from this town by a group of bandits that used a large yellow taxi to conceal their intent from their victims.)”