Another example of the power and far-reaching impact of the Japan quake:
Officials: South Fla. water table rose after quake
Posted 3/20/2011 2:22 PM ET
WEST PALM BEACH, Fla. (AP) — The devastating earthquake that shook Japan caused a temporary jolt in groundwater levels throughout much of Florida, officials said.
The South Florida Water Management District reports that a network of groundwater gauges registered a jump of up to three inches in the water table from Orlando to the Florida Keys about 34 minutes after the quake struck on March 11.
The oscillations were observed for about two hours and then stabilized. "We were not expecting to see any indication of the geological events in Japan given the island's great distance from Florida," Susan Sylvester, the water district's director of operations control and hydro data management department, said on Saturday.
Shimon Wdowinski, an earthquake researcher with the University of Miami, said the water table likely rose because of Florida's porous limestone, which allows water to easily flow beneath the earth's surface and respond to changes in pressure caused by a wave. He said the flow of Florida's aquifer is quite fast.
"It's good because we can filter a lot of water through there," Wdowinski said. "But it's bad because in the case of pollution, it can travel very quickly."
Changes in groundwater levels were also seen in South Florida after the Haiti and Chile earthquakes. Wdowinski said a 20-foot rise was seen after a 9.2 earthquake in Alaska in 1964.
"I wouldn't say it's normal, but it's not unusual," Wdowinski said of the variations.
The water district says the data was collected from a series of wells with recording devices. Randy Smith, a spokesman for the water district, said the reverberations were observed hundreds of feet below the surface. He and others expressed surprise at the events, given the distance from Japan.
"This was over 7,000 miles," he said. "I think that proves how strong the earthquake was."
Copyright 2011 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.
Re: Stuff & Nonsense
« Reply #3393 on: Mar 21st, 2011, 08:35am »
New York Times
March 21, 2011 Libya Releases 4 Times Journalists By THE NEW YORK TIMES
TRIPOLI, Libya — The Libyan government released four detained New York Times journalists Monday, six days after they were captured while covering the conflict between government and rebel forces in the eastern city of Ajdabiya. They were released into the custody of Turkish diplomats.
Like many Western journalists the four had entered the rebel-controlled eastern region of Libya without visas over the Egyptian border to cover the insurrection against Col. Muammar el-Qaddafi. They were detained by forces loyal to Colonel Qaddafi in Ajdabiya.
The journalists are Anthony Shadid, The Times’s Beirut bureau chief, who has won two Pulitzer Prizes for international reporting; two photographers, Tyler Hicks and Lynsey Addario, who have extensive experience in war zones; and a reporter and videographer, Stephen Farrell, who in 2009 was captured by the Taliban in Afghanistan and was rescued by British commandos.
After The New York Times reported having lost contact with the journalists last Tuesday, officials with the Qaddafi government pledged that if they had been detained by the government’s military forces they would be located and released unharmed.
Re: Stuff & Nonsense
« Reply #3394 on: Mar 21st, 2011, 08:37am »
New York Times
March 21, 2011 Senior Yemeni Officers Back Protesters By LAURA KASINOF
SANA, Yemen — In an apparent erosion of military support for Yemen’s embattled president, Ali Abdullah Saleh, five army commanders on Monday threw their support behind protesters calling for his immediate ouster.
The move came as one of the country’s most important tribal leaders, Sheik Sadeq al-Ahmar, said on Monday that he would join the country’s street protest movement, posing a significant new challenge to the Yemeni leader. Mr. Saleh, an American ally who has faced weeks of sustained protests against his rule, fired his cabinet late Sunday night, following the deaths of at least 45 people killed by government-linked forces on Friday.
Mr. al-Ahmar is the head of the Hashid tribal confederation, to which the president belongs, and his support for antigovernment demonstrations is likely to have a destabilizing effect on the president.
By swinging the weight of the Hashid tribes behind the protests, Mr. al-Ahmar joined his brother, Sheik Hussein al-Ahmar, who resigned from the ruling party last month to join the demonstrators. Tribes from across Yemen have historically been embroiled in conflicts, but so far few squabbles have taken place among those who have joined the main protest in the capital, Sana, their leaders and other protesters said.
The shift in support by the tribal leader and senior military commanders came amid a stream of resignations by Yemeni officials on Monday, including the mayor of the restive southern city of Aden, a provincial governor and at least one of the country’s ambassadors, according to a diplomat at the Yemeni Embassy in Washington who asked not to be identified.
Yemen’s ambassadors to Syria and Saudi Arabia also resigned on Monday, according to Al Jazeera, and the ambassador to Japan was reported to have quit as well.
“This is a replicate of the changes that have happened in Egypt,” said a high-ranking Yemeni diplomat in Europe who spoke on condition of anonymity. But, he added, “It is too early to see where the shift would lead to.”
The military commanders included Gen. Mohamed Ali Mohsin al-Ahmar, who leads forces in the east, Brig. Gen. Ali Mohsin Saleh, who commands those in the northwest, and three other brigadier generals. They said they declared their support for the protesters after watching the bloody clashes on Friday.
Brigadier General Saleh, in an appearance on Al Jazeera television on Monday, cited the suppression of peaceful protests and said the country was being pushed to the brink of civil war.
The country’s formal political opposition, which for the first time on Saturday joined street protests as a group, welcomed the support of the commanders. “President Ali Abdullah Saleh will now see that change is a must,” said Mohammed Qahtan, the spokesperson for the Joint Meetings Parties, Yemen’s coalition of opposition groups.
Asked if the Joint Meetings Parties would participate in a new government that Mr. Saleh is trying to form, he said, “It is not possible that the J.M.P. will participate in the new government if Saleh is president.”
On Sunday, President Saleh dismissed the cabinet as antigovernment demonstrations in the capital spread. “A new cabinet will be formed in the near future,” a government official said by phone, although he requested anonymity because he was not authorized to speak publicly.
When asked about the timing of the dismissals by President Saleh, the official replied: “This government was supposed to change a while ago; it passed its deadline. This isn’t a big surprise.”
While the implications of his announcement were unclear, Mr. Saleh, who has ruled this country for 33 years, has come under increased pressure from the United States and from officials in his own government over his handling of the protests.
In a sign of the Obama administration’s growing alarm at the government’s response, President Obama‘s top counterterrorism adviser, John O. Brennan, telephoned Mr. Saleh on Sunday to express the White House’s deep concern.
An administration official said Mr. Brennan told Mr. Saleh that “any Yemeni government, no matter what its composition, must refrain from violence against protesters and support the right of the people of Yemen to engage in peaceful assembly.”
“Any government must also support political change that meets the aspirations of the Yemeni people,” the official said.
The official, who was not authorized to speak for attribution, praised Mr. Saleh for ordering an investigation into the bloody clashes on Friday, and urged him “to follow through on that effort, and to ensure that anyone who has committed acts of violence is held accountable.”
Still, another, more senior administration official said that Friday’s violence “might have ruined any remaining chance of political dialogue between the Saleh government and the opposition.”
Nine Yemeni ambassadors to European and Arab countries sent a letter to Mr. Saleh on Sunday condemning “the massacre” on Friday. That letter followed the resignations by several high-ranking Yemeni officials, including the country’s envoy to the United Nations, its ambassador to Lebanon and its human rights minister.
Despite Friday’s violence against the protesters, a round-the-clock sit-in that branched out for more than a mile from Sana University’s main gate grew even larger Sunday with newly erected tents hung with photographs of the protesters who had been killed.
“The blood of the martyrs watered the tree of freedom,” said Abdullah Hamid, a protester, when asked about the reason behind the increase in the number of demonstrators. A student protest leader, Salah Sharafi, said, “They put the seeds of victory in us when they start to kill us.”
Abel Aziz al-Masbahy, an unemployed man who arrived Sunday from his home in Dhamar Province just south of Sana, stood in front of a poster with the photographs of two teenage boys and a young man from Dhamar who were killed on Friday. The words “Martyrs of the peaceful youth revolution” were written above them.
“Saleh lost his legitimacy in” our region, Mr. Masbahy said.
Two men from Khowlan, an area east of Sana known for kidnapping and a heavily armed population, were killed on Friday. One was shot as he sat in a green tent with a neighbor from Khowlan, Obad Dahamash, and about 20 other men. The bullet hole was still visible in the tent’s fabric. “At first our goal was to kick out Ali Saleh, his family and his gang,” Mr. Dahamash said. “Now we want to prosecute them.”
Tribal culture in Yemen has a strong tradition of violent retribution; however, members of the group swore they would remain peaceful.
“This revolution united us as tribes, and we are able to take our rights without using weapons, without using guns,” Mr. Dahamash said. “After this massacre killed people from Khowlan, it united us with other tribes, as all the tribes came and sympathized with us. They know that we don’t have our guns here and that we don’t want civil war.”
Eric Schmitt contributed reporting from Washington and J. David Goodman from New York.
Re: Stuff & Nonsense
« Reply #3395 on: Mar 21st, 2011, 08:45am »
Supermoon blamed for stranding five ships in Solent
Speculation that the "supermoon" may have caused the Japanese earthquake was dismissed by Nasa – but now British coastguards say it could be behind the stranding of several ships.
Revellers stand beside St. Michael's Tower on Glastonbury Tor watching the moon as it is at its closest point to the Earth for almost two decades Photo: PA
By Andy Bloxham 11:12AM GMT 21 Mar 2011
Yesterday afternoon five different vessels got into distress in the busy shipping lanes of the Solent, at the Needles on the western side of the Isle of Wight.
Coastguards suggested that they were caught out by Saturday evening's "supermoon", which caused sandbanks to be exposed by low tides.
One of the ships was the 2,900-tonne cargo ship Paula-C, on its way to Cowes with a crew of nine. They were forced to wait for a high tide to lift them clear of a shingle bank.
A 25-foot yacht ran aground and three other vessels were also marooned on sand and shingle banks that normally lie submerged.
A spokesman for the Coastguard said: "We checked them all and there were no injuries, just some surprise at being caught out like this. Blame it on the moon."
The supermoon phenomenon occurs when the moon passes closest to Earth on the two bodies' orbit and the moon is full.
It is also known as a perigee-syzygy: perigee refers to the lowest point of the orbit, while syzygy (pronounced siz-uh-ji) refers to the alignment of the moon, Earth and the Sun.
The latest supermoon occurred on March 19 and the moon came closer to Earth than at any point in almost 20 years, making it look much bigger, although it was still 221,567 miles away.
Ordinary supermoons occur about five times a year but events such as last week's are known as "maximal perigee" – when the two heavenly bodies are particularly close – and only happen about every two decades.
The approaching moon led to uninformed speculation on the internet linking it to the recent natural disasters.
Such were the prophecies, that Nasa decided to issue reassurance that it was not going to have any appreciable effects.
Re: Stuff & Nonsense
« Reply #3396 on: Mar 21st, 2011, 08:50am »
WHO warns of "serious" food radiation in disaster-hit Japan
By Risa Maeda and Kiyoshi Takenaka
TOKYO | Mon Mar 21, 2011 8:52am EDT
TOKYO (Reuters) - The World Health Organization said on Monday that radiation in food after an earthquake damaged a Japanese nuclear plant was more serious than previously thought, eclipsing signs of progress in a battle to avert a catastrophic meltdown in its reactors.
Engineers managed to rig power cables to all six reactors at the Fukushima complex, 240 km (150 miles) north of Tokyo, and started a water pump at one of them to reverse the overheating that has triggered the world's worst nuclear crisis in 25 years.
Some workers were later evacuated from one of the most badly damaged reactors when smoke briefly rose from the site. There was no immediate explanation for the smoke, but authorities had said earlier that pressure was building up at the No. 3 reactor.
Smoke was also seen at the No. 2 reactor.
The March 11 earthquake and tsunami left more than 21,000 people dead or missing and will cost an already beleaguered economy some $250 billion, making it the world's costliest ever natural disaster.
The head of the U.N. atomic agency said the nuclear situation remained very serious but it would be resolved.
"I have no doubt that this crisis will be effectively overcome," Yukiya Amano, director general of the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), told an emergency board meeting.
"We see a light for getting out of the crisis," a Japanese government official quoted Prime Minister Naoto Kan as saying.
But news of progress at the nuclear plant was overshadowed by mounting concern that radioactive particles already released into the atmosphere have contaminated food and water supplies.
"Quite clearly it's a serious situation," Peter Cordingley, Manila-based spokesman for the World Health Organization's (WHO) regional office for the Western Pacific, told Reuters in a telephone interview.
"It's a lot more serious than anybody thought in the early days when we thought that this kind of problem can be limited to 20 to 30 kilometers ... It's safe to suppose that some contaminated produce got out of the contamination zone."
However, he said there was no evidence of contaminated food from Fukushima reaching other countries.
Fukushima is the world's worst nuclear accident since Chernobyl, but signs are that it is far less severe than the Ukrainian disaster.
"The few measurements of radiation reported in food so far are much lower than around Chernobyl in 1986, but the full picture is still emerging," Malcolm Crick, secretary of the U.N. Scientific Committee on the Effects of Atomic Radiation, told Reuters.
Japan's health ministry has urged some residents near the plant to stop drinking tap water after high levels of radioactive iodine were detected.
Cases of contaminated vegetables and milk have already stoked anxiety despite assurances from officials that the levels are not dangerous. The government has prohibited the sale of spinach from all four prefectures near the plant and also banned selling of raw milk from Fukushima prefecture.
There were no major reports of contaminated food in Tokyo, a city of about 13 million people. City officials however said higher-than-standard levels of iodine were found in an edible form of chrysanthemum.
"From reports I have heard so far, it seems that the levels of radioactive iodine and caesium in milk and some foodstuffs are significantly higher than government limits," said Jim Smith, a specialist in earth and environmental sciences at Britain's Portsmouth University.
"This doesn't mean that consumption of these products is necessarily an immediate threat, as limits are set so that foodstuffs can be safely consumed over a fairly long period of time. Nevertheless, for foodstuffs which are found to be above limits, bans on sale and consumption will have to be put in place in the affected areas."
Japan is a net importer of food, but has substantial exports -- mainly fruit, vegetables, dairy products and seafood -- with its biggest markets in Hong Kong, China and the United States.
China will monitor food imported from Japan, the Xinhua news agency said, citing the country's quality control watchdog. South Korea will expand radioactivity inspection to processed and dried agricultural Japanese food, from just fresh produce.
In Taipei, one of the top Japanese restaurants in the city is offering diners the use of a radiation gauge in case they were nervous about the food.
The prospects of a nuclear power plant meltdown in the world's third-biggest economy and its key position in global supply chains rattled investors worldwide last week and prompted rare joint currency intervention by the G7 group of rich nations to stabilize markets.
Moody's Investors Service said in a report that the downside risks from the crisis had increased over the past week for the economy, sovereign credit, banking, insurance and non-financial corporate sectors.
Tokyo's markets were closed for a holiday on Monday. The Nikkei index shed 10 percent last week, wiping $350 billion off market capitalization, and at one point had lost as much as 20 percent in value.
In a much-needed boost for the battered market, billionaire investor Warren Buffett said the earthquake and tsunami were an "enormous blow" but should not prompt the selling of Japanese shares. Instead, he called events a "buying opportunity".
"It will take some time to rebuild. But it will not change the economic future of Japan. If I owned Japanese stocks, I would certainly not be selling them," Buffett said during a visit to a South Korean factory run by a company that is owned by one of his funds.
SITUATION CRITICAL AT PLANT
At Fukushima, 300 engineers have worked around the clock inside an evacuation zone to contain the worst nuclear accident since Chernobyl, Ukraine, in 1986.
They have been spraying the coastal complex with thousands of tonnes of sea water so fuel rods will not overheat and emit more radiation. Hopes for a more permanent solution depend on electricity cables reactivating on-site water pumps at each of the six reactors.
The most badly damaged reactors are No. 3 and 4, which were both hit by explosions last week.
Official tolls of dead and missing are rising steadily -- to 8,450 and 12,931 respectively.
The death toll could jump dramatically since police said they believed more than 15,000 people had been killed in Miyagi prefecture, one of four that took the brunt of the tsunami.
The 9.0-magnitude quake and ensuing 10-meter (32-ft) tsunami made more than 350,000 people homeless. Food, water, medicine and fuel are short in some parts, and near-freezing temperatures during Japan's winter are not helping.
(Additional reporting by Paul Eckert in Tokyo, Yoko Kubota and Chang-ran Kim in Rikuzentakata, Jon Herskovitz and Chisa Fujioka in Kamaisha, and Sui-Lee Wee in Beijing; Writing by Andrew Cawthorne and Jason Szep; Editing by Dean Yates, John Chalmers and Daniel Magnowski)
Re: Stuff & Nonsense
« Reply #3397 on: Mar 21st, 2011, 08:55am »
Production Officially Begins on Peter Jackson’s THE HOBBIT; Plus Two New Images and the Official Synopsis by Dave Trumbore Posted:March 20th, 2011 at 9:30 pm
Though the two-film adaptation of J.R.R. Tolkien’s novel The Hobbit has been fraught with delays and difficulties, Warner Bros. has announced that production has finally started. There were concerns that The Hobbit would leave New Zealand due to a labor strike, but the 3D movies will indeed be shot consecutively against the familiar backdrops from The Lord of the Rings. As a prequel to the award-winning trilogy, The Hobbit takes place in Middle-earth 60 years prior to Frodo receiving The Ring. Instead, the two-part adaptation will follow Frodo’s Uncle Bilbo Baggins (Martin Freeman) as he is swept up in a quest of his own.
Along with the new comers cast in The Hobbit, some recognizable faces from The Lord of the Rings trilogy will be returning. Ian McKellen will reprise his role as Gandalf the Grey, Cate Blanchett will return as Galadriel, Andy Serkis will once again don the mocap suit to play Gollum and Elijah Wood will briefly appear as Frodo. If you still haven’t seen The Lord of the Rings trilogy, you’re in luck! An extended edition of all three films should be available on Blu-ray later this year. Now that production is rolling, we will bring you more updates as we get them.
Re: Stuff & Nonsense
« Reply #3400 on: Mar 21st, 2011, 1:25pm »
Sammy Hagar gives curious interview to MTV, claims to have been abducted by aliens
March 21, 2011 | 10:52 am
Sammy Hagar, he of the Shirley Temple spiral curls and progenitor of such Van Halen hits as "Why Can't This Be Love," currently has a memoir out, "Red: My Uncensored Life in Rock." To promote his book, Hagar gave an interview to MTV's Hive, a new website from the music news monolith, and it is quite the read (sorry, no linkage due to lots of expletives, but you can easily find it). It's so curious/bananas/not syncing with our regular sense of reality that we checked the date to make sure it wasn't April 1 yet. While it's not April Fool's Day, it is, apparently, National Alien Adbuction Day... and Hagar, it turns out, was abducted by aliens in what he refers to as a "download situation." And no, he's not talking about aliens pirating his music.
During the course of the lengthy interview, Hagar had the following golden nuggets to share:
On the band's sex tents, which were built under the stage and utilized during shows:
Honestly, I think it was the production team that built our stages. I think they just thought it was part of the deal. They were like, “Well, this is Van Halen. The guys must want sex tents, right?”
On David Lee Roth, his gigolo enemy famous for executing some of the most beautiful scissor kicks and in-the-air splits ever known to rock:
Straight up? He’s not a friendly guy. He’s not a nice guy at all. And he’s no freakin’ fun.
On his experience with "a ship and two creatures inside of this ship"...
It was real. [Aliens] were plugged into me. It was a download situation... Or they uploaded something from my brain, like an experiment. “See what this guy knows.”
On the vast totality of the universe:
You know how big the universe is? It’s freakin’ huge!
And there are many other fine moments in there, including what he did when he opened for KISS at Madison Square Garden in 1977. (Hint: A Stratocaster was destroyed.) Readers, the Internet does not always give you this kind of gift on a Monday morning. Please take advantage of it.
Re: Stuff & Nonsense
« Reply #3401 on: Mar 21st, 2011, 2:44pm »
Yeah, isn't that interesting. Sammy Hagar an abductee. Can't recall who it was but there was a researcher who has claimed that quite some hollywood celebs are/were contactees/abductees. Well, after all they are just human as we are. It might be hidden below layers of silicon and botox but still.
Gem Diamonds recovered the 603 carat Lesotho Promise at its Letšeng mine in August 2006. It ranked as the world’s 15th largest rough diamond and the largest diamond to emerge from the Letšeng mine to date. It is the 10th largest rough white diamond ever to be recovered. The Lesotho Promise was sold for $12.4m to SAFDICO, the manufacturing arm of Graff Jewellers, at an auction in Antwerp in October 2006. The Lesotho Promise was subsequently polished into 26 D flawless diamonds, the largest of which was a 76.4 carat pear-shaped diamond. The diamonds were fashioned into a single necklace that is expected to sell for in excess of $30 million.
Re: Stuff & Nonsense
« Reply #3404 on: Mar 21st, 2011, 3:51pm »
Fed to name banks that took out emergency loans
By Neil Irwin, Monday, March 21, 3:53 PM
The Federal Reserve will release details of the banks it lent money to during the financial crisis after losing a court battle to keep the information private.
Bloomberg LP, the parent company of Bloomberg News, sued the Fed under the Freedom of Information Act, demanding that it release names and details of the banks that borrowed money from the “discount window,” where U.S. banks have turned for emergency funds — confidentially — for nearly a century.
Federal courts ruled that the Fed had no compelling reason to keep the information private. On Monday, the Supreme Court declined to hear an appeal by a group representing large banks, meaning the judgments by the lower courts will stand.
The Fed “will fully comply with the courts’ decisions and is preparing to make the information available,” said Michelle Smith, a spokeswoman for the Fed, declining to specify when the disclosures will be made. She said some of the information sought in the Bloomberg suit has already been made public in compliance with the Dodd-Frank regulatory overhaul passed last summer.
“The Federal Reserve forgot that it is the central bank for the people of the United States and not a private academy where decisions of great importance may be withheld from public scrutiny,” said Matthew Winkler, editor-in-chief of Bloomberg News, in a written statement. “The Fed must be accountable to Congress, especially in disclosing what it does with the people’s money.”
The discount window allows banks to receive emergency funds by pledging collateral and is a key part of the Fed’s role as “lender of last resort,” backstopping the banking system.
Lawyers for both the Fed and the Clearing House Association, a group of the big banks, had argued that secrecy was justified because publicizing the names of banks that received loans would make create a greater stigma to the practice and would hurt the Fed’s ability to respond to financial crises.
Courts had little sympathy for that argument, finding that with public funds in play, the federal Freedom of Information Act required disclosure.