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 veryhotthread  Author  Topic: Stuff & Nonsense  (Read 24959 times)
WingsofCrystal
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xx Re: Stuff & Nonsense
« Reply #3270 on: Mar 11th, 2011, 11:52am »






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« Reply #3271 on: Mar 11th, 2011, 12:08pm »

Reuters

Japan scrambles to avert radiation crisis at nuclear plant

By Osamu Tsukimori and Kiyoshi Takenaka
TOKYO | Fri Mar 11, 2011 12:47pm EST

TOKYO (Reuters) - Thousands of residents were evacuated from an area around a nuclear plant in quake-hit Japan after radiation levels rose in the reactor, but there was no word on whether there had actually been a leak.

Underscoring grave concerns about the Fukushima plant some 240 km (150 miles) north of Tokyo, U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton said the U.S. air force had delivered coolant to avert a rise in the temperature of the facility's nuclear rods.

Tokyo Electric Power Co said pressure inside a reactor at its Fukushima-Daiichi plant rose after the cooling system was knocked out by the earthquake, the largest on record in Japan.

Kyodo news agency quoted the company as saying that the radiation level was rising in the turbine building and the pressure had risen to 1.5 times the designed capacity.

Experts said there could be leakage if water levels in the Fukushima reactor fell and the temperature of the nuclear rods rose, though this might not happen immediately.

"Even if fuel rods are exposed, it does not mean they would start melting right away," said Tomoko Murakami, leader of the nuclear energy group at Japan's Institute of Energy Economics.

"Even if fuel rods melt and the pressure inside the reactor builds up, radiation would not leak as long as the reactor container functions well."

TEPCO confirmed that water levels were falling but it was working to avert any exposure of the nuclear fuel rods.

"There is a falling trend (in water levels) but we have not confirmed an exposure of nuclear fuel rods," a TEPCO spokesman said.

Residents living within a 3 km (2 mile) radius of the plant were told to evacuate from the area, Chief Cabinet Secretary Yukio Edano told a news conference. "The government is making every effort to restore the cooling system," he said.

Kyodo news agency said 3,000 residents were being evacuated.

Reactors shut down due to the earthquake account for 18 percent of Japan's nuclear power generating capacity.

Nuclear power produces about 30 percent of the country's electricity. Many reactors are located in earthquake-prone zones such as Fukushima and Fukui on the coast.

TEPCO had been operating three out of six reactors at the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear plant at the time of the quake, all of which shut down.

The spokesman added that there were no concerns of a water leak for the remaining three reactors at the plant, which had been shut for planned maintenance.

(Additional reporting by Risa Maeda in Tokyo and Fredrik Dahl in Vienna; Writing by Edwina Gibbs; Editing by Edmund Klamann and John Chalmers)

http://www.reuters.com/article/2011/03/11/us-japan-quake-reactor-idUSTRE72A2NR20110311

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« Reply #3272 on: Mar 11th, 2011, 12:24pm »

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Chaos: Stunned office workers look on as smoke engulfs buildings in Tokyo following the tremors and aftershocks from the earthquake


http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-1365229/Japan-earthquake-tsunami-Fears-massive-death-toll.html

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« Reply #3273 on: Mar 11th, 2011, 12:51pm »

That'sReallyWild.com


UFO NASA DISCOVERS STRANGE OBJECT IN SPACE..THE SIZE OF A STADIUM
March 11, 2011 | Author That's Really Wild!




description with video:
Uploaded by soshumanidade on March 31, 2010


http://thatsreallywild.com/ufos/ufo-nasa-discovers-strange-object-in-space-the-size-of-a-stadium/


I put the video upload date in red. I didn't want people to think this is a new video.

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« Reply #3274 on: Mar 11th, 2011, 5:32pm »

New York Times

March 11, 2011
Japan Expands Evacuation Around Nuclear Plant
By MATTHEW L. WALD

Japanese officials early Saturday expanded the area around a crippled nuclear power plant subject to emergency evacuation, as radiation levels inside the facility were reported to have surged and operators struggled to keep the plant’s cooling system operating on battery power.

A Japanese nuclear safety panel said radiation levels were 1,000 times above normal in a reactor control room after a huge quake damaged the plant’s cooling system. Some radiation had seeped outside the plant, with levels just outside the facility’s main gate measured at eight times normal, Public Broadcaster NHK quoted nuclear safety officials as saying.

The safety officials said there was "no immediate health hazard" to nearby residents from the leakage, which they described as “minute,” and people were urged to evacuate the area calmly.

Prime Minister Naoto Kan said before boarding a helicopter to visit the plant that the government had expanded the evacuation area around the plant to a six-mile radius from a two-mile radius.

The crisis at one reactor at the Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power Station came as Tokyo Electric Power, the operator, said it had also lost its ability to control pressure in some of the reactors at a second plant, known as Daini, about 10 miles away.

The company said pressure is stable inside the reactors but rising in the containment vessels, a spokesman said, although he did not know if there would be a need to release pressure at the plant at this point, which would involve a release of radiation.

The main crisis unfolded at the Daiichi plant, which was operating in an emergency, battery-powered cooling mode nearly 20 hours after the earthquake knocked out its two main sources of the electrical power needed for safe shutdown. But the International Atomic Energy Agency said that "mobile electricity supplies have arrived at the site” to keep the crisis at the crippled plant from worsening.

Two workers were reported missing at the plant.

The Chief Cabinet Secretary of the Japanese government said the plant was releasing steam with a "very small" amount of radioactive material to relieve pressure in one reactor. The government had earlier declared an "atomic power emergency" and begun evacuating people, a difficult challenge in the midst of a natural catastrophe.

"With evacuation in place and the ocean-bound wind, we can ensure the safety,” said the official, Yukio Edano, at a news conference early Saturday. It was not clear, however, how long the reactor could continue to function in an emergency mode or when normal power supplies could be restored to the plant.

A pump run by steam, designed to function in the absence of electricity, was adding water to the reactor vessel, and as that water boiled off, it was being released. Such water is usually only slightly radioactive, according to nuclear experts. As long as the fuel stays covered by water, it will remain intact, and the bulk of the radioactive materials will stay inside it. If the fuel is exposed, it could result in a meltdown at the plant.

Three reactors at the plant shut down when the earthquake began, at 2:46 PM in Tokyo (or 12:46 AM in New York). As designed, emergency diesel generators started up to provide power for continued operating of cooling functions to ensure a safe shutdown. But they ran for a little less than an hour and then stop functioning, possibly because the tsunami generated by the earthquake took out the diesel-powered generators at the plan. Reactor unit 1 suffered a rise in pressure, leading operators to vent it.

The International Atomic Energy Agency did not say how the power supplies - possibly portable generators or batteries - had arrived. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, speaking in Washington, said earlier that American military planes had already delivered "coolant," but American military officials indicated that while they were prepared to help Japan grapple with any problems related to its nuclear facilities, but had not been asked to do so.

"To our knowledge, we have not actually carried anything in support in the nuclear facilities," said Lt. Col. John S. Haynes, a spokesman for the Air Force. "We’re standing by for full up assistance to the government for whatever they might need. We have civil engineer teams, and airlift capability."

Japan relies heavily on nuclear power, and it generates just over a third of the country’s total electricity. The facilities are designed to withstand earthquakes, which are common in Japan, but experts have long expressed concerns about safety standards at the plants, particularly about the impact a major quake could have if it hit close to a reactor.

At least two other Japanese nuclear plants also reported trouble, but there was no radiation leak at either of them, government officials said. A number of nuclear reactors around the hardest-hit area of the country were shut down, and Japanese news media said a fifth of the country’s total nuclear generating capacity was offline because of the quake.

One major concern is that while operators can quickly shut down a nuclear reactor in an earthquake or another emergency, they cannot allow the cooling systems to stop working. Even after the plant’s chain reaction is stopped, its fuel rods still produce about six percent as much heat as they did when the plant was running. The production of heat drops off sharply over the following hours, but continued cooling is needed, or the water will boil away and the fuel will melt, releasing the uranium fragments inside.

Heat from the nuclear fuel rods must be removed by water in a cooling system, but that requires power to run the pumps and to align the valves in the pipes, and run the instruments. So the plant requires a continuous supply of electricity even after the reactor stops generating its own power.

With the steam-driven pump in operation, pressure valves on the reactor vessel would open automatically as pressure rose too high, or could be opened by operators. "It’s not like they have a breach, there’s no broken pipe venting steam,” said Margaret E. Harding, a nuclear safety consultant, who managed a team at General Electric, the reactor’s designer, that analyzed pressure build-up in reactor containments. "You’re getting pops of release valves, for minutes, not hours, that take pressure back down.” Some of the radioactive steam would condense back to liquid in the containment building, she said.

An analyst with the World Nuclear Association, a major international nuclear power group, told Reuters that he understood fresh cool water was now being pumped into the cooling system at Fukushima, reducing the threat of a meltdown.

"We understand this situation is under control," the analyst said, adding that he understood that a back-up battery power system had been brought online after about an hour and began pumping water back into the cooling system, where the water level had been falling.

Japanese news media quoted officials in Fukushima Prefecture as saying that water levels were 3.4 meters — about 10 feet — above the fuel rods at the No. 2 reactor at the plant. Tokyo Electrical Power officials confirmed that water levels had been falling but said that fuel roads had not been exposed.

Civilian power reactors are designed with emergency diesel generators to assure the ability to continue cooling even during a blackout. Many reactors have two, assuring redundancy; some have three, so that if one must be taken out of service for maintenance, the plant can still keep running.

It was not immediately clear how many there are at Fukushima, but the operators reported earlier in the day that they were not working, prompting the evacuation.

Fukushima 1, which was designed by General Electric and entered commercial service in 1971, was probably equipped to function for some hours without emergency diesel generators, according to David Lochbaum, who worked at three American reactor complexes that use General Electric technology.

Mr. Lochbaum, who also worked as an instructor for the Nuclear Regulatory Commission on GE reactors, said he did not know the details of Fukushima, but that such reactors were equipped to ride out interruptions in electrical power by using pumps that could be powered by steam, which would still be available in case of electric power failure. Valves can be opened by motors that run off batteries, he said. Older plant designs, of the era of Fukushima, generally have batteries sized to operate for four hours, he said.

After four hours, heat production in the core is still substantial but has been reduced, he said. The heat would boil away the cooling water, raising pressure in the reactor vessel, until automatic relief valves opened to let some of the steam out. Then the valves would close and the pressure would start building again.

If the cooling system remains inoperative for many hours, the water would eventually boil away, he said, and the fuel would begin to melt. That is what happened at Three Mile Island, the reactor near Harrisburg, Pa., that suffered a partial core melt in March 1979. In that case the cause was not an earthquake, but mechanical failure, operator error and poor design, government investigators later found.

Mr. Lochbaum, who now works for the Union of Concerned Scientists, a group that is very often critical of nuclear safety standards, said that if the cooling water in the vessel was boiling away, the process of boiling enough to expose the fuel would take “hours, not minutes.”

more after the jump
http://www.nytimes.com/2011/03/12/world/asia/12nuclear.html?ref=world

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« Reply #3275 on: Mar 11th, 2011, 5:59pm »

Military Times

U.S. forces set to aid Japan in disaster’s wake

Staff Report
Posted : Friday Mar 11, 2011 18:14:46 EST

The devastating earthquake Friday in Japan sparked a trans-Pacific response by the many U.S. military installations throughout the region.

The Defense Department reported no deaths or serious injuries among its 38,000 personnel in the region or major damage to installations.

The services however began to immediately render aid as part of the humanitarian response. A press release on DoD’s website said Japan requested U.S. assistance. Marine Col. Dave Lapan said six ships already in the region were ordered to Japan to provide assistance, if called upon: the aircraft carrier Ronald Reagan, amphibious assault ship Essex, dock landing ships Germantown, Tortuga and Harpers Ferry, and amphibious command ship Blue Ridge.

The 31st Marine Expeditionary Unit, about 2,200 troops, is embarked on Essex.

In addition, cruiser Chancellorsville and destroyer Preble, part of the Reagan Carrier Strike Group, have been ordered to “proceed at best safe speed toward Japan,” Pacific Fleet said on its Facebook page at noon ET.

Service members stationed in Japan had not been ordered by DoD to render assistance as of 3 p.m., but were preparing to deliver aid if called upon, said Marine Master Sgt. Donald Preston, a spokesman for U.S. Forces Japan.

Airmen at Yokota Air Base were providing accommodations for 599 passengers from two commercial aircraft that were diverted to the installation about 45 minutes after the quake. A total of 11 commercial aircraft landed at the installation but nine have continued their flights. The passengers are staying in the Taiyo Community Center on base. Why the two aircraft remained at the base was not explained.

In Guam, the tsunami generated by the earthquake snapped mooring lines to two attack submarines, Houston and City of Corpus Christi. Tug boats immediately responded.

“Both subs are safe and under the control of the tug boats,” Joint Region Marianas posted on its Facebook page. No injuries have been reported.

Fleet officials ordered ships in San Diego to remain in port, with sailors standing by to tend lines Friday morning. The transport dock Dubuque, which was loading ammunition at Seal Beach Naval Weapons Station near Long Beach, was ordered to sortie offshore as a precautionary measure, Hicks said.

In Hawaii, the Coast Guard ordered cutters to sea and relocated its helicopters and fixed wing aircraft. Within six hours of the tsunami warning, the Coast Guard’s Honolulu sector relocated its headquarters inland, recalled personnel, put underway all its cutters and evacuated the heavily traffic commercial port on the island. All commercial ports were closed pending damage assessments according to Coast Guard Chief Public Affairs Specialist Kurt Fredrickson.

———

Staff Writers David Larter, Andrew Tilghman, Gidget Fuentes and Sam Fellman and the Associated Press contributed to this story.

http://www.militarytimes.com/news/2011/03/military-forces-set-to-aid-japan-after-earthquake-031111w/

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xx Re: Stuff & Nonsense
« Reply #3276 on: Mar 11th, 2011, 8:33pm »

Hello everyone, I joined because I have been wanting to share some interesting experiences with people who may understand. I'll start with this one:

In the summer of 1997 or 1998 a friend and I took a drive in the desert north west of Carlsbad NM. Our car broke down. It was a heavy older model Ford LTD. We had to push the car up a fairly steep hill... we barely made it. We coasted to the edge of a community outside of Carlsbad called "happy valley". A man walking down the street came to help us. The man was barefoot, he crawled up and perched himself on the edge of the hood looking down on the engine. Clouds seemed to appear out of nowhere, rather quickly. Unusual looking clouds. The guy checking the engine looked up and said "never mind them, that's just cloud cover". I kind of freaked out and did not know what to say. I felt a strange sensation that seemed to be coming from the clouds... kind of like a sine wave of some sort of magnetism going thru my body. Like a large sine wave first hitting me in the forehead then in the upperback, in front pelvis area and the back of my knees. The man checking out the car told us that our battery was dead. He had a small device that looked like it was made of black metal with a spiral down the middle. He said he was not sure how it worked, that it had something to do with the earths magnetic field. He attached the device to the battery terminals and said "it will get you to town, but it wont last forever, you will need to get a new battery".

Years later I asked a worker at AutoZone about the device. I wanted one in case my battery ever died. The worker said he never heard of anything like it. Come to find out no one knows of this device. I called my friend and asked him what he did with the device and he does not know. To make matters even more strange, in 2002 I learned that the man who helped us is my biological father.
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« Reply #3277 on: Mar 11th, 2011, 8:48pm »

on Mar 11th, 2011, 8:33pm, camayleon wrote:
Hello everyone, I joined because I have been wanting to share some interesting experiences with people who may understand. I'll start with this one:

In the summer of 1997 or 1998 a friend and I took a drive in the desert north west of Carlsbad NM. Our car broke down. It was a heavy older model Ford LTD. We had to push the car up a fairly steep hill... we barely made it. We coasted to the edge of a community outside of Carlsbad called "happy valley". A man walking down the street came to help us. The man was barefoot, he crawled up and perched himself on the edge of the hood looking down on the engine. Clouds seemed to appear out of nowhere, rather quickly. Unusual looking clouds. The guy checking the engine looked up and said "never mind them, that's just cloud cover". I kind of freaked out and did not know what to say. I felt a strange sensation that seemed to be coming from the clouds... kind of like a sine wave of some sort of magnetism going thru my body. Like a large sine wave first hitting me in the forehead then in the upperback, in front pelvis area and the back of my knees. The man checking out the car told us that our battery was dead. He had a small device that looked like it was made of black metal with a spiral down the middle. He said he was not sure how it worked, that it had something to do with the earths magnetic field. He attached the device to the battery terminals and said "it will get you to town, but it wont last forever, you will need to get a new battery".

Years later I asked a worker at AutoZone about the device. I wanted one in case my battery ever died. The worker said he never heard of anything like it. Come to find out no one knows of this device. I called my friend and asked him what he did with the device and he does not know. To make matters even more strange, in 2002 I learned that the man who helped us is my biological father.


Welcome Camayleon,

Thank you for sharing that experience.

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« Reply #3278 on: Mar 12th, 2011, 08:10am »

New York Times

March 12, 2011
Explosion Rocks Japan Nuclear Plant After Quake
By MARTIN FACKLER AND MATTHEW L. WALD

TOKYO — An explosion at a crippled nuclear power plant in northern Japan on Saturday blew the roof off one building and caused a radiation leak of unspecified proportions, escalating the emergency confronting Japan’s government a day after an earthquake and tsunami devastated parts of the country’s northeastern coast.

Japanese television showed a cloud of white-gray smoke from the explosion billowing up from a stricken reactor at the Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power Station Saturday afternoon, and officials said leaks of radiation from the plant prompted them to expand the evacuation area around the facility to a 12-mile radius.

Government officials said that the explosion, caused by a build-up of pressure in the reactor after the cooling system failed, destroyed the concrete structure surrounding the reactor but did not collapse the critical steel container inside. They said that raised the chances that they could prevent the release of large amounts of radioactive material and could avoid a core meltdown at the plant.

"We’ve confirmed that the reactor container was not damaged. The explosion didn’t occur inside the reactor container. As such there was no large amount of radiation leakage outside," Japan’s Chief Cabinet Secretary Yukio Edano said in a news conference Saturday evening. "At this point, there has been no major change to the level of radiation leakage outside, so we’d like everyone to respond calmly."

Tokyo Electric Power, which operates the plant, which is located 160 miles north of Tokyo, now plans to fill the reactor with sea water to cool it down and reduce pressure. The process would take five to 10 hours, Mr. Edano said, expressing confidence that the operation could “prevent criticality.”

But the crisis at the aging plant confronted Japan with its worst nuclear accident — and perhaps the biggest mishap at a nuclear plant since the Chernobyl nuclear disaster in 1986.

Japanese nuclear safety officials and international experts said that because of crucial design differences the release of radiation at the Fukushima plant would likely be much smaller than at Chernobyl even if the Fukushima plant has a complete core meltdown, which they said it had not. But the problems at the plant are certain to worsen concerns about the safety record and reliability of Japan’s extensive nuclear power facilities, which have been criticized for major safety violations in the past.

The vulnerability of nuclear plants to earthquakes was also underscored by ongoing problems at the cooling system of reactors at a second nearby plant, known as Daini, which prompted a smaller evacuation from surrounding communities.

Tokyo Electric Power said the explosion happened “near” the No. 1 reactor at Daiichi at around 3:40 p.m. Japan time on Saturday. It said four of its workers were injured in the blast.

Officials said even before the explosion that they had detected cesium, an indication that some of the nuclear fuel was already damaged.

In the form found in reactors, radioactive cesium is a fragment of a uranium atom that has been split. In normal operations, some radioactivity in the cooling water is inevitable, because neutrons, the sub-atomic particles that carry on the chain reaction, hit hydrogen and oxygen atoms in the water and make those radioactive. But cesium, which persists far longer in the environment, comes from the fuel itself.

Naoto Sekimura, a professor at Tokyo University, told NHK, Japan’s public broadcaster, that “only a small portion of the fuel has been melted. But the plant is shut down already, and being cooled down. Most of the fuel is contained in the plant case, so I would like to ask people to be calm.”

Both the Daiichi and Daini plants were shut down during Friday’s earthquake. But the loss of power in the area and damage to the plant’s generators from the subsequent tsunami crippled the cooling systems, which need to function after a shut down to cool down nuclear fuel rods.

Malfunctioning cooling systems allowed pressure to build up beyond the design capacity of the reactors. Early Saturday officials had said that small amounts of radioactive vapor were expected to be released into the atmosphere to prevent damage to the containment systems and that they were evacuating tens of thousands of people living around the plants as a precaution.

Those releases apparently did not prevent the buildup of hydrogen inside the reactor, which ignited and exploded Saturday afternoon, government officials said. They said the explosion itself probably did not result in dramatic increases in the amount of radioactive material being released into the atmosphere, but they expanded the evacuation area around the Daiichi plant from a six-mile radius to a 12-mile radius.

Safety officials continued to insist that the levels of radiation were not large enough to threaten the health of people outside the plants, but they also told people living in the vicinity to cover their mouths and stay indoors.

Earlier on Saturday, before the explosion, a Japanese nuclear safety panel said the radiation levels were 1,000 times above normal in a reactor control room at the Daiichi plant. Some radioactive material had also seeped outside, with radiation levels near the main gate measured at eight times normal, NHK quoted nuclear safety officials as saying.

The emergency at the Daiichi plant began shortly after the earthquake struck on Friday afternoon. Emergency diesel generators, which had kicked in to run the reactor’s cooling system after the electrical power grid failed, shut down about an hour after the earthquake. There was speculation that the tsunami had flooded the generators and knocked them out of service.

For some time after the quake, the plant was operating in a battery-controlled cooling mode. Tokyo Electric said that by Saturday morning it had also installed a mobile generator at Daiichi to ensure that the cooling system would continue operating even after reserve battery power was depleted. Even so, the company said it needed to conduct “controlled containment venting” in order to avoid an “uncontrolled rupture and damage” to the containment unit.

Why the controlled release of pressure on Saturday did not succeed in addressing the problem at the reactor was not immediately explained. Tokyo Electric and government nuclear safety officials also did not explain the precise sequence of failures at the plant.

Daiichi and other nuclear facilities are designed with extensive backup systems that are supposed to function in emergencies to ensure the plants can be shut down safely.

more after the jump
http://www.nytimes.com/2011/03/13/world/asia/13nuclear.html?_r=1&hp

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« Reply #3279 on: Mar 12th, 2011, 08:14am »

New York Times

March 11, 2011
U.S. to Name a Liaison to Libyan Rebels
By HELENE COOPER

WASHINGTON — President Obama said Friday that he would appoint a special representative to Libya’s rebel leaders and that the Treasury Department had placed sanctions on nine more family members and friends of Col. Muammar el-Qaddafi in an effort to force the Libyan leader to resign.

Mr. Obama said the representative, who White House officials said would probably be chosen by Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton in the next few days, would determine how the United States could help the Libyan opposition.

The move is significant because although the United States has not formally recognized the rebels as legitimate representatives of the Libyan people, the appointment of a special representative is bound to be interpreted as a move toward de facto recognition.

France was the first country to recognize the Libyan National Council, the rebels’ shadow government, as the representative of the Libyan people on Thursday, after a meeting between President Nicolas Sarkozy and two representatives of the movement, which has its headquarters in Benghazi, Libya.

At the news conference on Friday where Mr. Obama announced the move toward engagement with the rebels, he said the international community was “tightening the noose” on Colonel Qaddafi through sanctions and other actions.

He said he was considering a no-flight zone, but administration officials continued to indicate privately that the situation in Libya would have to get much worse before Mr. Obama would risk the lives of American pilots to take out Libya’s air-defense systems.

“I have not taken any options off the table,” Mr. Obama said. But “when it comes to U.S. military action, whether it’s a no-fly zone or other options, you’ve got to balance costs versus benefits, and I don’t take those decisions lightly.”

Separately, the Treasury Department announced additional sanctions on Colonel Qaddafi’s family and high-ranking members of his government, including Abu Zayd Umar Dorda, the director of Libya’s external security organization, and Abdullah al-Senussi, the chief of military intelligence. Mr. Senussi, the Treasury Department said in a statement, “organized mass killings in Benghazi” and is “allegedly responsible for the deaths of 1,200 Islamists in Abu Selim prison.”

The Treasury Department also froze the American assets of Defense Minister Abu Bakr Yunis Jabir and Matuq Muhammad Matuq, the secretary general of the People’s Committee for Public Works.

Colonel Qaddafi’s wife and more of his children were also added to the list. Two weeks ago, the United States froze the assets of Colonel Qaddafi and four of his sons, but did not single out other Libyan officials. So far, Treasury officials said, the United States has frozen $32 billion in Libyan government assets.

David Cohen, acting under secretary for terrorism and financial intelligence, said that the moves on Friday “should send a strong signal to those responsible for the violence inflicted by Qaddafi and his government that the United States will continue steps to increase pressure and to hold them accountable.”


http://www.nytimes.com/2011/03/12/world/africa/12policy.html?hpw

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« Reply #3280 on: Mar 12th, 2011, 08:23am »

Wired

Space Duct Tape Could Confuse Mars Rover
By Lisa Grossman
March 11, 2011 | 5:02 pm
Categories: Space


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Engineers assemble the Mars Science Laboratory (“Curiosity”), using rolls of shiny kapton tape. (NASA/JPL-Caltech)


The NASA equivalent of duct tape could leak enough methane to confuse the next Mars rover’s life-detecting sensors.

Astrobiologists found evidence for three distinct plumes of methane flowing from beneath the planet’s surface, like swamp gas or a burp, in January 2009. The gas could simply mean that Mars is more geologically active than previously thought. But because much of Earth’s methane is a byproduct of life, the plumes could point to something living, eating or breathing methane beneath the Martian surface.

To settle the question of the methane’s origin, the next Mars rover, called Mars Science Laboratory or Curiosity, will launch in late 2011 equipped with a suite of instruments capable of sniffing out one molecule of methane in a billion other molecules.

But some of the materials in the rover itself could also release methane and confuse the sensors. In a paper in press in the journal Icarus, microbiologist and veteran Mars simulator Andrew Schuerger of the University of Florida and colleagues show that the tape used to hold the rover’s joints together could release enough methane to be a problem.

“I think it’s a valid concern,”said planetary scientist Adam Johnson of Indiana University, who has investigated which Earth microbes could hitchhike to Mars but was not involved in the new work. “We’re sending a very very sensitive instrument, and we are able to produce concentrations of methane that are orders of magnitude above the detection limits for that instrument.”

Schuerger and colleagues placed 18 materials in the Mars Simulation Chamber, a stainless steel cylinder whose interior mimics the atmosphere, dustiness, sunlight, temperature and pressure at the Martian surface.

“Andrew’s simulation setup in his chamber is state of the art, the best simulation chamber in the world,” Johnson said. “As far as simulation of the Mars conditions, you can’t ask for much better.”

The researchers tested a variety of biological materials, including amino acids, DNA and spores of a common soil-dwelling bacterium. They also checked several materials used to build the rover itself, including vacuum grease, a small sundial like the one rovers Spirit and Opportunity use to calibrate colored images, and kapton tape, the space industry equivalent of duct tape.

“I kind of think of it as electrical tape on Mars,” Johnson said. “It’s used for everything on there.”

After eight hours in the chamber, all the organic materials tested emitted some amount of methane, though not enough to worry about in most cases. The methane comes from the interaction of sunlight with materials that contain a methyl group, one carbon atom attached to three hydrogen atoms. Ultraviolet radiation from the sun (or, in the simulation chamber, a special lamp) could rip methyl groups from the materials. The charged methyl groups could then steal an extra hydrogen atom from a neighboring molecule to form stable molecules of methane, which has one carbon and four hydrogens.

Surprisingly, the bacterial spores they tested leaked noticeable amounts of methane, even after they had been irradiated to death. But the standards for cleaning the rover before launch are so stringent that there probably won’t be enough spores left on the rover by launch time to pose much of a problem.

The most trouble could come from kapton tape, which is ubiquitous and unavoidable on the rover. Schuerger’s team found that in the first few Martian days of the mission, the sensors in Curiosity’s Tunable Laser Spectrometer could pick up a few tens of methane molecules per million other molecules, about 100 times above the instrument’s detection limits.

This is especially worrisome given that Curiosity uses about 3 square meters of kapton tape, more than any previous rover.

“It’s a big monster rover,” said NASA planetary scientist Paul Mahaffy, who is in charge of MSL’s Sample Analysis at Mars (SAM) instrument. “They use the appropriate level of tape to secure that stuff down. There’s just more of it than there might have been on [Spirit and Opportunity].”

The rover team already has a few low-tech solutions in mind to find the true Martian methane, Mahaffy said. First, they’ll take measurements at night, when ultraviolet radiation will be at a low.

“My best guess is, once you rotate into the dark, methane production stops pretty fast,” Mahaffy said. “By sampling at night we’d get a much cleaner sniff of the Martian atmosphere.”

The rover will also rotate the sensors into the wind to get the strongest whiff of the Martian atmosphere. Schuerger and colleagues suggest coming up with more detailed models of how much methane kapton tape will produce, and where on the rover it’s likely to show up. They also note that kapton tape gives off less and less methane as time goes on, so methane detections in the later parts of the mission should be more reliable.

“By no means does is nullify the measurement we’re trying to do on [Mars Science Laboratory],” Mahaffy said.

Still, the study is “very useful,” Mahaffy said. “It will help us do a better job of sorting out what’s really there on Mars, and what we might bring along from Earth. The last thing we want to do is have a false positive.”

http://www.wired.com/wiredscience/2011/03/msl-duct-tape/

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« Reply #3281 on: Mar 12th, 2011, 08:29am »

LA Times

Japan's fears mount with nuclear plant blast

Officials try to calm residents wary of a possible radiation leak -- or worse -- at the Fukushima power plant, which lost its cooling system in Friday's massive earthquake.
Nationwide, the death toll from the quake and tsunami could top 1,700.

By Mark Magnier, Barbara Demick and Carol J. Williams
Los Angeles Times
4:43 AM PST, March 12, 2011

Reporting from Tokyo and Beijing —

A day after responding to one of the worst earthquakes on record and a massive tsunami, the Japanese government sought to allay fears of a radioactive disaster at a nuclear power plant on the country's battered northeastern coast.

The outer walls of the Fukushima power plant's No. 1 reactor were blown off by a hydrogen explosion Saturday, leaving only a skeletal frame. Officials said four workers at the site received non-life-threatening injuries.

The inner container holding the reactor's fuel rods is not believed to be damaged, said Japan's Chief Cabinet Secretary Yukio Edano, and workers were cooling the facilities with seawater.

In a press conference shortly after the explosion, which left the facility shrouded in plumes of gray smoke, Edano explained that the reactor is contained within a steel chamber, which in turn is surrounded by a concrete and steel building. Although the explosion destroyed the building, it did not occur in the chamber.

"The escape of hydrogen mixed with the air between the chamber and the concrete-and-steel building and led to the explosion," Edano said.

"Tokyo Electric Power Co. has confirmed that the inner reactor is undamaged," he added. "There was no massive release of radiation."

Still, the reactor was already showing signs of a partial meltdown after Friday's magnitude 8.9 earthquake had prevented the plant 150 miles north of Tokyo from fully powering its water cooling system. Without it, the facility could overheat and explode, spewing radiation into the air.

Edano said experts were still determining what caused the blast.

"We are doing everything to ensure the safety of residents living nearby," said Edano, the government's chief spokesman. "I'm sure residents [living nearby] are feeling unease."

People were reportedly fleeing the surrounding area and Japanese television was urging people to cover their faces with wet towels and not to expose any skin to the potentially contaminated air. An evacuation zone was doubled to a 12-mile radius around the plant by Saturday evening.

"By taking all these appropriate measures, we would like to avoid any situation where any people's health is damaged," said Japanese Prime Minister Naoto Kan at a press conference. "This is an unprecedented disaster we're suffering."

Earlier in the day, workers had been racing to prevent the No. 1 reactor from over-heating by releasing accumulated vapor.

Officials of Japan's Nuclear and Industrial Safety Agency had insisted that the "slightly radioactive" emissions release posed no risk to people or the environment. Radiation levels inside the overheated reactor housing were 1,000 times normal, the agency said, but only eight times normal background at the plant's main gate. Experts explained that the steam carries low-level radiation that rapidly dissipates.

Japan relies on nuclear power for a third of its electricity and is said to require exacting safety standards for its plants.

The radiation scare comes on a day most of Japan was still trying to dig-out from an earthquake that's believed to have killed 1,700 people so far with countless still missing under rubble and muddy debris.

Japanese self-defense forces reportedly found 400 bodies in the seaside town of Rikuzentakata in Iwate prefecture. Television showed a rising tide rolling into the community, first filling the gaps between buildings before finally swallowing the city past its rooftops.

The force of the magnitude of Frida's quake, which seismologists said released 1,000 times the energy of the January 2010 earthquake in Haiti, broke the foundations under homes and buildings and opened chasms in fields and pavement, swallowing cars and shearing off sidewalks and driveways.

More than 100 aftershocks have jolted Japan since Friday's 2:46 p.m. temblor, including at least a dozen of magnitude 6 or higher, said Dave Applegate, a senior advisor at the U.S. Geological Survey.

The earthquake, centered just off the northeastern coastal city of Sendai, was the most powerful since a December 2004 quake and ensuing tsunami killed 230,000 people in Indian Ocean nations.

The havoc unleashed on Japan just ahead of Friday rush hour has left the nation mired in fear, suffering and hardship. Millions of people are without power, utility officials said, and they warned that outages would continue through the weekend, with rolling blackouts persisting for weeks.

Four trains carrying passengers along the coast at the time of the quake remain unaccounted for, East Japan Railway Co. reported. Television footage showed two passenger train carriages half submerged under water by the coast.

Only half of the hundreds of people reported trapped in elevators were rescued overnight, according to the Ministry of Land, Infrastructure, Transport and Tourism.

Key rail lines remained idle for a second day because of damaged track, tunnels and bridges. Service on Tokyo's vaunted subway system, the world's busiest with 8 million passengers per day, was sharply reduced pending safety inspections.

Limited air traffic resumed at major airports, including Tokyo's Narita International, but most were thronged by travelers marooned after major airlines suspended flights.

Steven Nia, a Los Angeles businessman heading for a flight home at the airport, said he slept the night in the terminal.

"I'm from California, so I recognize what an earthquake is, but I've never seen anything like this," Nia said.

Tokyo Bay, one of the busiest harbors in the world, was eerily quiet Saturday afternoon. Ships, barges and fishing boats sat idle in the still waters. The freeway across the bay was empty.

At Tokyo's railway station, hordes of people were making their way home after spending the night stranded in the capital.

Kenji Higuchi, 43, manager at the radio communications provider Japan Enix Co., said he spent the night monitoring and inspecting wireless base stations across Tokyo and slept in his office. He had to jostle for 10 minutes with throngs trying to board suburban trains just to get on the platform, he said.

"The images of destruction and flooding coming out of Japan are simply heartbreaking," President Obama told a news conference at the White House. He said the U.S. aircraft carrier Ronald Reagan was heading toward Japan to join the U.S. 7th Fleet's command ship, Blue Ridge, in the massive global relief effort.

Obama said he had spoken with the Japanese prime minister to extend condolences and "offered our Japanese friends whatever assistance is needed."

At least 45 countries scrambled disaster-relief teams, including 68 search-and-rescue units that were awaiting the Japanese government's direction on where to deploy, said Elisabeth Byrs of the U.N. Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs. A team of disaster responders sent to New Zealand by Tokyo after the Christchurch earthquake last month rushed back to help their devastated homeland.

The Defense Ministry said about 20,000 Self-Defense Forces troops, 190 aircraft and 25 vessels had been dispatched Saturday to the area around Sendai, where tsunami waves a day earlier churned whole neighborhoods into debris, crashing through homes and businesses and sweeping trains, trucks and cars into the moving mass of destruction.

Ministry officials were working with the Pentagon on plans to use U.S. naval forces to move 250 rescue vehicles into areas rendered unapproachable by waves that washed away roads and rail lines.

About 69,000 people were stranded at Tokyo Disneyland and Tokyo DisneySea because of road damage and idled mass transit. Theme park workers gave out blankets, heaters and coats to visitors forced to camp outside in 30-degree temperatures.

"Rations and supplies are just starting to reach emergency shelters," said Cabinet Secretary Yukio Edano, dressed in the light-blue jacket that identifies disaster-relief workers.

Images from the coastal city of Soma taken from a TV network helicopter showed trees that had been uprooted by the tsunami and then dragged back to shore when the waters receded.

Video taken over Kesennuma, in Miyagi prefecture, where the quake was most destructive, captured a Self-Defense Forces helicopter swooping low over a neighborhood to pluck a survivor from one of the few rooftops still above water.

In Iwanuma, survivors taking refuge on top of Minamihama Chuo Hospital waved flags and umbrellas to signal for help. All around them were water and the debris of buildings.

At Sendai airport, a small private jet appeared to have been carried by the rushing waters and left partly buried in waterlogged rubble. Most of the runway was under water.

Crews labored through the night to dig out trucks and cars that had fallen into chasms in roads and highways. At a Machida district shopping center in Tokyo, the ramp of a parking lot had collapsed, and workers with cranes were searching for people in the wreckage. One person pried from the rubble was unconscious and in critical condition.

"More than 90% of the houses in three coastal communities have been washed away by tsunami," a municipal official in the town of Futaba told the Kyodo News Agency. He said from his vantage point on the fourth floor of the town hall, "I see no houses standing."

more after the jump
http://www.latimes.com/news/nationworld/world/la-fgw-japan-quake-20110313,0,2572097.story

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« Reply #3282 on: Mar 12th, 2011, 08:31am »

Defense News

F-35 Tests Suspended After Airborne Glitch
By DAVE MAJUMDAR

Published: 11 Mar 2011 16:19

Flight testing of F-35 Lightning II Joint Strike Fighters has been suspended after a U.S. Air Force aircraft experienced a dual generator failure and oil leak during a test sortie on March 9, prime contractor Lockheed Martin said March 11.

The plane, an F-35A, returned safely to base, but further test flights are being delayed while engineers figure out the cause of the problem.

"As a routine safety precaution, the Joint Program Office (JPO) has temporarily suspended F-35 flight operations until a team of JPO and [Lockheed] technical experts determines the root cause of the generator failure and oil leak. Once the cause is known, the appropriate repairs and improvements will be made before flight operations resume," Lockheed spokesman John Kent said in an e-mail.

Unlike previous fighter jets, the F-35's flight control surfaces are moved by electro-hydrostatic actuators powered by electricity. As such, an electrical failure could be especially problematic.

The incident occurred at Edwards Air Force Base, Calif., which is the main Air Force flight test facility, on aircraft AF-4, the fourth Air Force test plane. There are 10 F-35 test aircraft operating at Edwards and Naval Air Station Patuxent River, Md.

http://www.defensenews.com/story.php?i=5938613&c=AME&s=AIR

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« Reply #3283 on: Mar 12th, 2011, 08:33am »

Hollywood Reporter

Friday Box Office: 'Battle: Los Angeles' Delivering Big Numbers
2:29 AM 3/12/2011
by Pamela McClintock

The Sony picture delivers big with males; Disney’s "Mars Needs Moms" struggles and the jury is still out on Warner Bros.’ "Red Riding Hood."
Battle: Los Angeles got off to a great start on Friday, grossing at least $13.5 million to easily come in No. 1.

The sci-fi action pic could make as much as $38 million for the weekend, one of the best starts of the year.

Conversely, Disney’s performance capture Mars Needs Moms fared dismally in its first day, grossing roughly $1.8 million. The family film -- costing a pricey $140 million to produce -- could only gross $8 million for the weekend, one of Disney’s worst openings.

The prospects for Warner Bros.’ dark fantasy Red Riding Hood were more difficult to judge. The film, starring Amanda Seyfried, was in a close race Friday for No. 2 with Paramount holdover Rango.

One set of estimates had Red Riding Hood grossing $6 million; others put the film’s tally closer to $5 million.

Red Riding Hood will need a strong bump on Saturday if it’s to meet expectations for an opening weekend gross of $18 million to $20 million. Otherwise, it could be looking at an opening weekend gross of $15 million or $16 million, a softer-than-expected debut.

Rango, meanwhile, is looking at a weekend gross of at least $20 million after earning at least $5.3 million on Friday.

Final Friday numbers will be released Saturday morning.

http://www.hollywoodreporter.com/news/battle-los-angeles-easily-tops-167002

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« Reply #3284 on: Mar 12th, 2011, 10:53am »

Tsunami effect in Hawai'i

http://www.wimp.com/tsunamibackyard/
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