Published April 26, 2013
Beyond the Bricks
Emily DeVault


On April 16, a mail facility with the purpose of testing letters addressed to Capitol Hill found a letter laced with the poison Ricin. The letter was on its way to the Mississippi Senator Roger Wicker, according to the New York Times. The letter arrived with no return address but was postmarked out of Memphis, Tennessee. It was tested twice in the facility and then sent to the Federal Bureau of Investigation for further testing because Ricin tests can be unreliable. Missouri Senator Claire McCaskill stated that the letter was from someone who writes senators and other lawmakers frequently, but this person remained unnamed. Senator Angus King from Maine said, “I don’t have any information that it’s in any way connected with what happened in Boston. It may just be an unfortunate coincidence.”

The Washington Post reported that the facility that screens the mail will be closed for several days for further testing. No other letters appear to be dangerous. The Washington Post reported,“Ricin, a toxin found in castor beans, is poisonous if inhaled, injected or ingested, according to the National Counterterrorism Center. Treatment is available, but long-term organ damage is the likely result of exposure.”


On April 17, New Zealand was the first Asia-Pacific country to legalize gay marriage. According to Politico, the vote ended with 77-44 in favor of the gay marriage bill. Lawmakers in charge of this case were encouraged to vote based on their conscious rather than their political affiliation. This law gives gay individuals the right to jointly adopt children and their marriages will be recognized in other countries.

According to New York Times, New Zealand expects an increase in people that travel to their country from Australia, a country that has made little to no advances toward implementing a gay marriage law. Same-sex marriage is currently legal in the Netherlands, Belgium, Spain, Canada, South Africa, Norway, Sweden, Port ugal, Iceland, Argentina and Denmark.

“In our society, the meaning of marriage is universal it’s a declaration of love and commitment to a special person,” Louisa Wall, one of the bill’s sponsors said in a speech according to the New York Times. There is still widespread resistance to the idea of same sex marriage in New Zealand, but the bill is a major step in equality.


The earthquake that occurred in Iran on April 16 was the strongest one in the area in the past fifty years, according to BBC. The earthquake’s epicenter was near the Pakistani border close to the city of Khash. The area of the epicenter is in a remote region of the desert, thus decreasing the amount of harm that the earthquake could have caused. However, there are many cities near the site of the natural disaster that contain large populations, including Zahedan, a city of more than half a million people, according to the Guardian. The Iranian state TV reported 40 deaths, but experts in Iran expect the casualty numbers to be low because of the depth of the earthquake, which may have decreased the power of it to a magnitude of four, according to the Fars news agency in Iran. BBC reported: “Scientists say earthquakes in south-eastern Iran are triggered by the clash between the Arabia and Eurasia tectonic plates, the former of which is pushing north at a rate of several centimeters each year.”

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