Home' Trinidad and Tobago Guardian : June 20th 2014 Contents A28
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CAPE CANAVERAL, Florida---A
pair of spacewalking astronauts
ran into difficulty while installing
a new antenna yesterday outside
the International Space Station,
Russians Alexander Skvortsov
and Oleg Artemiev panted and
sighed as they dealt with balky
clamps and latches. Mission Con-
trol outside Moscow urged them
to take frequent breaks.
"Resting is most important,"
Mission Control radioed in Russ-
Two hours into the spacewalk,
the first-time spacewalkers had
yet to secure the antenna, con-
sidered a major job. They hauled
the antenna out with them, at the
start of the spacewalk.
"We almost have it. Almost
there," one of the spacewalkers
said as the work dragged on.
Two of the three locks clicked
into place on the antenna. But the
third would not work right, and
the astronauts had to use a wire
Each spacewalker tugged on the
tie to tighten it. With that finally
complete, the two began making
a series of connections on the
"Slowly but surely," one of the
spacewalkers said as he worked
with the connectors.
Also on their to-do list: moving
a payload boom and switching out
Six men live on the space sta-
tion. The crew includes three Rus-
sians, two Americans and one Ger-
man. The Americans are supposed
to venture out on NASA-led
spacewalks in August. Skvortsov
and Artemiev also have another
spacewalk scheduled for August.
Spacewalking astronauts struggle with antenna
LONDON---London is a city of
bridges, but it s not a City of Bridges.
It has never been graced with the ele-
gant arches of Venice or Paris.
A new exhibition wants visitors to
look again, peering on, under and even
inside the structures spanning the River
Thames. Without bridges, the show
argues, London as we know it would
"Bridges can often make a city what
it is," said Lucinda Grange, an adventure
photographer who sneaked inside Lon-
don Bridge and took images that appear
in the exhibition of artworks at Museum
of London Docklands. "What would
New York be without Brooklyn Bridge?"
Yet London s most famous bridge is
also the biggest letdown. London
Bridge---of "falling down" nursery-
rhyme fame---is a dreary concrete-and-
steel structure that has been disap-
pointing tourists since it opened in
1973. The ancient London Bridge is
long gone, and a 19th-century version
is now a tourist attraction in Lake Hava-
su City, Arizona.
Many visitors confuse London Bridge
with the more impressive Tower Bridge,
whose picturesque towers grace count-
Grange said bearing the London
Bridge name is "like being called Paris
Hilton if you re not Paris Hilton. No
matter how good you look at the party,
you re going to be a disappointment."
The first version of London Bridge
was built by Roman invaders in about
50 A.D. For 1,700 years it was the city s
Today London has 35 bridges, but
with a few exceptions---pastel-painted
Albert Bridge, silver spear-like Millen-
nium footbridge---they are utilitarian
rather than beautiful. London is a city
of relentless change, and many of the
structures haven t lasted long.
As a result, there is something ghostly
about some of the paintings and pho-
tographs in the exhibition. One early
photograph, taken in 1845, shows the
Hungerford suspension bridge built by
pioneering engineer Isambard Kingdom
Brunel. It s doubly haunting---the bridge
lasted little over a decade, and the photo
is so fragile that it will be displayed in
a darkened room. Visitors can switch
on a light to take a quick look at it.
Bridge-building continues to push
the boundaries of engineering. The
Millennium Bridge opened in 2000---
then shut for two years of tweaking
after the first people to use it noticed
an alarming wobble.
Dan Cruikshank, an architectural
historian with a boundless enthusiasm
for London and its bridges, said that
for centuries, "because they changed
God s world, bridges were sacred cre-
"They remain in some way in our
imaginations sacred and strange---auda-
cious interventions," he said.
The latest audacious proposal comes
from Thomas Heatherwick, designer
of the 2012 Olympic cauldron and Lon-
don s new double-decker buses. He
plans to build a plant-lined pedestrian
"garden bridge" over the river in the
next few years.
The exhibition explores bridges
beauty, but also their dark side, as places
associated with drudgery and death.
Many modern London workers can
relate to TS Eliot s image in "The Waste
Land" of commuters trudging across
London Bridge: "I had not thought
death had undone so many."
But exhibition curator Francis Mar-
shall said he was inspired by odes to
beauty such as William s Wordsworth s
"Composed Upon Westminster Bridge,"
which begins: "Earth has not anything
to show more fair." (AP)
Not falling down:
inspire new show
MULA ABDULA, Iraq---Among
rolling wheat fields with
machine-gun fire rattling in the
distance, Kurdish fighters patrol
the new frontier of their
autonomous region of northern
Iraq, dozens of miles from their
official border. In front of them
are Islamic militants, behind them
is the Kurds newly captured
prize, stretches of oil-rich terri-
In Iraq s chaos, the Kurds are
emerging as significant winners---
and their victories are fuelling sen-
timent among their population to
declare outright independence.
As Sunni insurgents swept over
a large chunk of northern Iraq and
barreled toward Baghdad the past
two weeks, Kurdish fighters known
as peshmerga seized territory of
their own, effectively expanding
the Kurdish-run region into areas
it has long claimed.
Most notably, they grabbed the
oil centre of Kirkuk. And in contrast
to the Shiite-led government in
Baghdad, which is in turmoil, the
Kurds are growing more confident,
vowing to increase oil sales inde-
pendent of the central government.
The gains have also brought the
Kurds challenges barely imaginable
just days ago. They must defend
a new, 620-mile (1,000 kilometre)
frontier against Sunni insurgents,
led by an al-Qaida breakaway
group, the Islamic State of Iraq and
the Levant. Some 300,000 Iraqis
who fled the insurgent advance
have flooded into Kurdish areas,
an extra burden to an already cash-
strapped autonomy government.
And the Kurds risk a backlash.
In Kirkuk, Sunni Arabs and ethnic
Turkmens---who have long
opposed Kurdish claims over the
city---threaten a revolt if the Kurds
don t share administration of the
city and any oil revenues.
Still, the sense of exuberance is
palpable among Kurds, who make
up 20 per cent of Iraq s mostly
"Now that the peshmerga took
back our disputed areas, we should
have our own country. We deserve
it," said Khaled Ismail in the Kur-
dish area of Khazer.
The 19-year-old student wants
independence so Kurdistan can sell
its own oil and have the status
statehood brings like a passport,
a national soccer team. "If we had
a Kurdish team in the World Cup,
it would be great," he said.
Another man pointed to the
strength of the peshmerga, who
fought back against the insurgents
in contrast to the troops of Shiite
Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki s
government, who collapsed.
"The peshmerga and al-Maliki s
army are as different as the ground
and the sky," said 59-year-old
Ahmed Omar, wearing traditional
Kurdish baggy pants. He also wants
statehood. "We don t want other
people to interfere in our affairs."
However, declaring independ-
ence---and formally fragmenting
Iraq---is not easy. The United States
and neighboring Turkey oppose
Kurdish independence. And the
Kurds can expect constant clashes
not just with insurgents but with
Iraqi forces as well if they unilat-
erally break away and claim the
areas they grabbed, said Kurdish
analyst Hiwa Osman. "If the Kurds
want true independence, (there)
has to be a treaty," he said.
Given that resistance, the Kur-
dish government is pressing for
even greater powers of autonomy
but not full independence.
The Kurds territorial grab is
substantial. The recognised Kurdish
autonomous region---defined as
three northern provinces---effec-
tively expanded by 40 per cent,
estimated Gareth Stansfield, an
expert on Kurdish affairs. (AP)
Kurdish security forces prepare combat positions outside the oil-rich city of Kirkuk, 180 miles (290
kilometres) north of Baghdad, Iraq, yesterday. AP PHOTO
Kurds emerge as
winners in Iraq chaos
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