Boston update. President Barack Obama addressed the media shortly before noon today, giving a brief update on the investigation into yesterday’s bombings in Boston. The president offered no new information but did take his description of the incident one step further than he did Monday evening, describing it as a “heinous and cowardly act” the FBI is investigating as an act of terrorism: “Any time bombs are used to target innocent citizens, it is an act of terror.” But the president stressed investigators still have no idea whether an organized and known terror group is responsible for the bombing, or whether they are the act of an individual or smaller group of people. Massachusetts Gov. Deval Patrick said earlier today that investigators found no unexploded devices near the bombing site, contrary to initial reports. Only the devices that went off appear to be involved in the attack.
Park problems. Rep. Darrel Issa, R-Calif., the chairman of the Oversight and Government Reform Committee, chastised U.S. Park Service Director Jon Jarvis today for purposely overstating the effect the federal budget cuts would have on national parks. Jarvis previously suggested trash would not be picked up, restrooms wouldn’t be cleaned, and access roads would go unplowed. But the Park Service’s budget office told the committee last week that 99 percent of park visitors would not notice any change in operations.
Iranian earthquake. A major earthquake on the Iranian border Tuesday morning killed 30 people in Pakistan, injured 80 and destroyed hundreds of houses. The quake measured 7.8 on the Richter scale, but its depth prevented more widespread destruction. Although Iranian officials initially predicted dozens of dead and hundreds of wounded, the official state news agency later reported no fatalities. The tremor could be felt as far away as India and the Gulf Arab states.
Headed to Mars. A nonprofit organization that plans to put a small colony on Mars by 2023 plans to start interviewing astronauts in July. The Netherlands-based group, Mars One, says it would raise funds for the project by charging applicants a $25 fee. Mars One already has 45,000 people on its mailing list and 10,000 people who have expressed interest in applying. But at $25 a pop, that will only bring in $250,000. I hope they have a fundraising contingency plan because I’m pretty sure the fuel alone will cost a lot more than that.