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 veryhotthread  Author  Topic: Stuff & Nonsense  (Read 44887 times)
WingsofCrystal
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« Reply #3420 on: Mar 23rd, 2011, 08:40am »

Reuters

Sprint Nextel Corp cried foul over a planned merger between AT&T Inc and T-Mobile USA

By Sinead Carew
ORLANDO, Florida | Wed Mar 23, 2011 5:25am EDT

ORLANDO, Florida (Reuters) - Sprint Nextel Corp cried foul over a planned merger between AT&T Inc and T-Mobile USA, saying the deal would stifle competition and potentially hurt its profitability.

Sprint executives attending a wireless industry event on Monday criticized AT&T's proposed $39 billion of Deutsche Telekom's U.S. unit, announced on Sunday, and listed several ways it could hurt the wireless industry.

"When one competitor has that much buying power they can determine the fate of different products," Fared Adib, a Sprint executive in charge of handsets, said on the sidelines of the CTIA conference in Orlando, Florida.

Earlier in the day Sprint Chief Executive Dan Hesse had spoken out against the deal during a keynote panel of CEOs, and said it would be bad for competition in the industry.

"I am concerned about it," said Hesse, while sitting beside another panelist, AT&T's mobile chief Ralph de la Vega. Hesse also admitted that his Sunday was ruined by the AT&T/T-Mobile USA announcement.

Sprint, the No. 3 U.S. mobile service, already faces tough competition from its two bigger rivals, AT&T and Verizon Wireless, a venture of Verizon Communications and Vodafone Group Plc. The combination of AT&T and T-Mobile USA, the No. 4 U.S. operator, would leapfrog Verizon Wireless as market leader.

If the AT&T deal is approved, the top two operators would serve about three-quarters of U.S. mobile contract customers between them, according to analysts' estimates.

Aside from concerns about consumer choice, the top operators could potentially get much better pricing from suppliers than smaller rivals like Sprint, Steve Elfman, Sprint's president for network operations, told Reuters.

Elfman said the size of a combined AT&T and T-Mobile would be a threat in more ways than one.

A bigger AT&T could also become more aggressive in marking down its prices, again putting Sprint at a disadvantage.

"If we have to go down in pricing it will affect our profitability. It could also drive pricing up," Elfman said.

AT&T said the company will be happy to address Sprint's concerns with lawmakers and U.S. regulators which will be reviewing the deal.

De la Vega said critics of the deal were "not looking at it in the right way" as customers in most U.S. markets have "more choices than in almost any other country in the world."

Consumer groups have been worried that AT&T would use its bigger market muscle to increase prices for cost conscious consumers. But de la Vega dismissed this argument.

"Wireless prices have never gone up. They've always come down," he said, but stopped short of promising lower bills.

And as operators like AT&T upgrade to new and more efficient technologies, the price consumers pay per megabit of data downloaded "will come down" in the future, he said, noting that this may mean consumers will use more data services.

The executive promised that customers of T-Mobile USA, which is often seen as a good-value provider, would be able to keep their existing price plans after the AT&T deal.

AT&T's de la Vega said the T-Mobile USA deal would allow a bigger number of customers to have access to Apple Inc's iPhone but would not say when AT&T would offer iPhone service on the T-Mobile USA network.

The company plans to convert the T-Mobile USA business to the AT&T brand after the deal.

Verizon has already joined AT&T in carrying iPhone, putting further pressure on Sprint. Hesse declined to say if subsidies required for iPhone would be too high for Sprint to offer the popular device.

The top telecom companies are also in a race to offer customers fast wireless Internet connections, and the heavy capital spending required puts the bigger players at an advantage. Sprint had 58,000 net subscriber additions in its most recent quarter, while Verizon Wireless had 872,000 additions in the fourth quarter and AT&T had 400,000.

Even without the merger, Hesse told the panel that subsidies operators have to pay for smartphones are already rising as devices become more advanced.

He introduced a new high-speed phone and a tablet computer, both from HTC Corp at the show.

(Additional reporting by Barbara Liston; Editing by Derek Caney and Richard Chang)

http://www.reuters.com/article/2011/03/23/us-ctia-sprint-idUSTRE72L56M20110323

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« Reply #3421 on: Mar 23rd, 2011, 08:43am »

Hollywood Reporter

Fox Moves Up 'Rise of the Apes' From Thanksgiving to August

The film, which was originally set to open Nov. 23, will be the final summer tentpole.

8:10 PM 3/22/2011
by Pamela McClintock

After seeing much of the movie, 20th Century Fox is moving up the release date of Rise of the Apes from Thanksgiving to Aug. 5.

In its new home, Rise of the Apes will be the final tentpole of the summer season, and capitalize on kids still being out of school.

Other movies opening on Aug. 5 include Universal's comedy The Change-Up, Summit's sci-fi alien invasion film The Darkest Hour and Sony's The Smurfs.

Just as the summer box office now begins in the first weekend of May, studios are relying on August more and more, as June and July grow more crowded. Early August has turned out several hits in recent years, including The Bourne Ultimatum and Tropic Thunder.

Rise of the Apes -- an origins story set in modern-day San Francisco -- was originally to have opened in June, but Fox pushed back the opening to Nov. 23. Directed by Rupert Wyatt, Rise of the Apes stars James Franco, Freida Pinto and Andy Serkis.

In another shift, Fox is moving back the release of The Sitter from July 14 to Dec. 9. So far it’s the only R-rated comedy set to play over the year-end holidays.

http://www.hollywoodreporter.com/heat-vision/fox-moves-up-rise-apes-170113

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« Reply #3422 on: Mar 23rd, 2011, 11:43am »

Astronomers Find Coldest Star in the Universe

Published March 23, 2011

Space.com

Astronomers have detected a new candidate for the coldest known star -- one whose temperature is roughly equivalent to a fresh cup of tea.

The object is part of a double system and is a type of star known as a brown dwarf, which is essentially a failed star. Brown dwarfs lack enough mass for gravity to trigger the nuclear reactions that make stars shine, but they’re more massive than what’s typically considered to be a planet.

This newly discovered brown dwarf is identified as CFBDSIR 1458+10B, and is the dimmer member of the binary brown dwarf system, which is located only 75 light-years from Earth.

The system was detected from observations made by the Very Large Telescope at the European Southern Observatory's Paranal Observatory in Chile. The telescope's powerful spectrograph was used to study the object’s infrared spectrum and measure its temperature, which was found to be extraordinarily cold by brown dwarf standards.

In fact, CFBDSIR 1458+10 is the coolest brown dwarf binary system found to date, astronomers said.

"We were very excited to see that this object had such a low temperature, but we couldn't have guessed that it would turn out to be a double system and have an even more interesting, even colder component," said Philippe Delorme of the French National Center for Scientific Research and the Joseph Fourier University in Grenoble, France.

Delorme is the co-author of a paper on the brown dwarf finding that will appear in an upcoming issue of the Astrophysical Journal.

The dimmer of the two failed stars has been found to have a temperature of approximately 212 degrees Fahrenheit (100 degrees Celsius), which is the boiling point of water and not much different from the temperature inside a sauna.

Our sun, in comparison, averages a temperature of about 10,000 degrees Fahrenheit (5,500 degrees Celsius), researchers have said.

"At such temperatures we expect the brown dwarf to have properties that are different from previously known brown dwarfs and much closer to those of giant exoplanets – it could even have water clouds in its atmosphere," said Michael Liu of the University of Hawaii's Institute for Astronomy, who is the lead author of the study. "In fact, once we start taking images of gas-giant planets around sun-like stars in the near future, I expect that many of them will look like CFBDSIR 1458+10B."

The hunt for cool objects in the cosmos is an active field of astronomy. NASA's Spitzer Space Telescope recently identified two other very faint objects as other possible contenders for the coldest known brown dwarfs, but the temperatures of these stars have not been measured as precisely.

The brown dwarfs seen by the Spitzer Space Telescope have temperatures that range from 350 to 620 degrees Fahrenheit (177 to 327 degrees Celsius). Future observations will better determine how the objects found by Spitzer compare to CFBDSIR 1458+10B.

Liu and his colleagues are planning to observe this newly detected brown dwarf again to better determine its properties, and to begin mapping the binary's orbit, which, after about a decade of observation, should allow astronomers to determine the system's mass.

Copyright © 2011 Space.com. All Rights Reserved.

Read more: http://www.foxnews.com/scitech/2011/03/23/astronomers-coldest-star-universe/#ixzz1HRQa226f
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« Reply #3423 on: Mar 23rd, 2011, 12:28pm »

Here's an artists' impression of the Coldest Star.


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ESO/L. Calada
This artists impression shows the pair of brown dwarfs named CFBDSIR 1458+10.
Observations with ESOs Very Large Telescope and two other telescopes have shown that this pair is the coolest
pair of brown dwarfs found so far. The two components are both about the same size as the planet Jupiter.



http://www.foxnews.com/scitech/2011/03/23/astronomers-coldest-star-universe/#ixzz1HRQa226f

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xx Re: Stuff & Nonsense
« Reply #3424 on: Mar 23rd, 2011, 12:28pm »

on Mar 23rd, 2011, 11:43am, Swamprat wrote:
Astronomers Find Coldest Star in the Universe

Published March 23, 2011

Space.com

Astronomers have detected a new candidate for the coldest known star -- one whose temperature is roughly equivalent to a fresh cup of tea.

The object is part of a double system and is a type of star known as a brown dwarf, which is essentially a failed star. Brown dwarfs lack enough mass for gravity to trigger the nuclear reactions that make stars shine, but they’re more massive than what’s typically considered to be a planet.

This newly discovered brown dwarf is identified as CFBDSIR 1458+10B, and is the dimmer member of the binary brown dwarf system, which is located only 75 light-years from Earth.

The system was detected from observations made by the Very Large Telescope at the European Southern Observatory's Paranal Observatory in Chile. The telescope's powerful spectrograph was used to study the object’s infrared spectrum and measure its temperature, which was found to be extraordinarily cold by brown dwarf standards.

In fact, CFBDSIR 1458+10 is the coolest brown dwarf binary system found to date, astronomers said.

"We were very excited to see that this object had such a low temperature, but we couldn't have guessed that it would turn out to be a double system and have an even more interesting, even colder component," said Philippe Delorme of the French National Center for Scientific Research and the Joseph Fourier University in Grenoble, France.

Delorme is the co-author of a paper on the brown dwarf finding that will appear in an upcoming issue of the Astrophysical Journal.

The dimmer of the two failed stars has been found to have a temperature of approximately 212 degrees Fahrenheit (100 degrees Celsius), which is the boiling point of water and not much different from the temperature inside a sauna.

Our sun, in comparison, averages a temperature of about 10,000 degrees Fahrenheit (5,500 degrees Celsius), researchers have said.

"At such temperatures we expect the brown dwarf to have properties that are different from previously known brown dwarfs and much closer to those of giant exoplanets – it could even have water clouds in its atmosphere," said Michael Liu of the University of Hawaii's Institute for Astronomy, who is the lead author of the study. "In fact, once we start taking images of gas-giant planets around sun-like stars in the near future, I expect that many of them will look like CFBDSIR 1458+10B."

The hunt for cool objects in the cosmos is an active field of astronomy. NASA's Spitzer Space Telescope recently identified two other very faint objects as other possible contenders for the coldest known brown dwarfs, but the temperatures of these stars have not been measured as precisely.

The brown dwarfs seen by the Spitzer Space Telescope have temperatures that range from 350 to 620 degrees Fahrenheit (177 to 327 degrees Celsius). Future observations will better determine how the objects found by Spitzer compare to CFBDSIR 1458+10B.

Liu and his colleagues are planning to observe this newly detected brown dwarf again to better determine its properties, and to begin mapping the binary's orbit, which, after about a decade of observation, should allow astronomers to determine the system's mass.

Copyright © 2011 Space.com. All Rights Reserved.

Read more: http://www.foxnews.com/scitech/2011/03/23/astronomers-coldest-star-universe/#ixzz1HRQa226f


Thanks Swamp!
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« Reply #3425 on: Mar 23rd, 2011, 12:53pm »

William H. Mauldin

A Great American


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Mauldin is buried in Arlington National Cemetery. Last year, the kid cartoonist made it onto a first-class postage stamp. It's an honor that most generals & admirals never receive.

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What Mauldin would have loved most, I believe, is the sight of the two guys who keep him company on that stamp. Take a look at it.

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There's Willie. There's Joe. And there, to the side, drawing them & smiling that shy, quietly observant smile, is Mauldin himself. With his buddies, right where he belongs. Forever.

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Semper fi
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« Reply #3426 on: Mar 23rd, 2011, 1:22pm »

Here's a great book re: Bill Mauldin

Up Front [Hardcover]
Bill Mauldin
Bill Mauldin (Author)
(Author), Stephen E. Ambrose (Foreword)
4.9 out of 5 stars See all reviews (50 customer reviews)

http://www.amazon.com/Up-Front-Bill-Mauldin/dp/0393050319/ref=sr_1_2?ie=UTF8&s=books&qid=1300904180&sr=1-2#_

Throughout World War II, cartoonist Bill Mauldin documented the adventures and misadventures of dogfaces Willie and Joe, symbols of the hard-pressed infantry, "the group which gives more and gets less than anybody else." In Up Front, recently reissued as a 50th-anniversary volume, Mauldin joins an absorbing narrative account of just how hellish combat is to a selection of those cartoons. Reading through this powerful book, one sees why Mauldin, in demythologizing the war, was often accused of undoing the efforts of the morale officers and politicians who assured the home front that our boys were having a fine time of it in Europe. No, Mauldin replied through Willie and Joe, our boys are being maimed and killed every day. For his honesty, the troops loved him -- and Mauldin loved them back.


From Library Journal
Speaking of Americana . With the memory of the war as fresh as the ink on the pages, Mauldin's text and drawings of the American dogface GI in combat became a classic the minute it rolled off the press in 1945 and remains an essential title for libraries. This edition contains a new foreword by Stephen Ambrose.
Copyright 2001 Reed Business Information, Inc.

~

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xx Re: Stuff & Nonsense
« Reply #3427 on: Mar 23rd, 2011, 1:55pm »

on Mar 23rd, 2011, 08:19am, WingsofCrystal wrote:
Elizabeth Taylor
r.i.p.

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Crystal

What a fine lady and actress. One of the last divas and classic actresses is gone. R.I.P.!

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Stellar Thoughts
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« Reply #3428 on: Mar 23rd, 2011, 2:23pm »

Hello Phil.
She sure was something.
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« Reply #3429 on: Mar 23rd, 2011, 2:25pm »

FOX news

El Chupacabra Mystery Definitively Solved, Expert Claims
By Bjorn Carey

Published March 23, 2011
| LiveScience

Bigfoot and the Loch Ness Monster rank as the top two best-known monsters in the world, but since its 1995 debut, El Chupacabra has made a Justin Bieber-like ascension to No. 3 on the charts. The relative newcomer to the monster world is the go-to culprit for weird livestock deaths and creates a massive media stir whenever it's "sighted." It even has a fan club on Facebook.

That could all end, now that Benjamin Radford, author of several books on monsters and paranormal phenomena, managing editor of the journal The Skeptical Inquirer and LiveScience columnist, has released what he says to be definitive proof that El Chupacabra is not real; it's not even a hoax, he said, but rather a leftover memory of a science-fiction film.

Stories of El Chupacabra first surfaced in March 1995 in Puerto Rico, Radford said, when dead, blood-drained goats began showing up (El Chupacabra translates to "goat sucker"). That August, a newspaper printed an eyewitness description of a bipedal creature, 4 to 5 feet tall with spikes down its back, long, thin arms and legs, and an alienlike oblong head with red or black eyes. That depiction became associated with El Chupacabra, and it reports of similar creatures began popping up throughout the Caribbean, in Latin America, Mexico and Florida.

The frenzy had died down slightly by 2000, but picked back up in 2004 when something began attacking livestock in Texas. A farmer shot one of the offenders, and later more alleged El Chupacabra carcasses turned up. They looked nothing like the Puerto Rico original, though, and DNA tests later revealed that they were actually coyotes with a severe case of mange.

On top of the sudden change in appearance—a hairless, snarly-looking four-legged creature is the popular depiction in Texas—these coyotes didn't even act like El Chupacabra. "When you did a necropsy of the chickens and goats that they attacked, they all had normal blood levels," Radford told Life's Little Mysteries. "They were not, in fact, vampirized."

"By the mid-2000s, anything weird was being called El Chupacabra," he said. "Mangy coyotes. Dead raccoons. Even a dried fish in New Mexico, which looks nothing like El Chupacabra." And yet the myth continued to gain momentum, so Radford, who has researched El Chupacabra and other strange sightings around the world for years, decided to cut it off at the head and set off to Puerto Rico to trace the beast back to its fictional roots. (Disclosure: Radford is a contributing writer to Life's Little Mysteries and columnist for its sister site, LiveScience.)

Mistaken identity

Radford dug through every El Chupacabra mention and traced the physical description of the monster to a single event in the second week of August 1995, when a sketch from an eyewitness named Madelyne Tolentino ran in a Puerto Rican newspaper. Locals immediately tagged the alien-looking animal as El Chupacabra.

The creature, Radford noticed, shared a strong resemblance to the alien/human hybrid in the 1995 sci-fi thriller "Species." When he spoke to Tolentino, he asked her if the thing that she saw could have been inspired by the film. Indeed, she had seen the movie in the weeks prior to making her description.

"You can make a direct connection between the film hitting theaters, her seeing the creature in the film, seeing it in the street, making the report and entering the public conscious," Radford said.

Soon after, reports of nearly identical creatures began appearing throughout Latin America. But these can be dismissed, Radford says, because they're all based on Tolentino's Hollywood-inspired monster.

"What I've tried to do is take the whole El Chupacabra enchilada and break it into small mysteries and then solve those mysteries," Radford said. "There's no place else for those mysteries to hide now. If I haven't solved every piece of it, then I don't know what I'm missing. It's all there."

"That said, if next month or next year somebody finds El Chupacabra that's sucking blood from animals, I'm happy to eat my crow and add a chapter to the book."

The last word

Even if you're not convinced by DNA evidence or Radford's research, simple logic should help you realize that El Chupacabra just doesn't exist.

For one thing, it would take a couple hundred to a few thousand of the creatures to keep the species alive. If each of those animals is five feet tall and weighs around 100 pounds, it would be pretty difficult for there to be no confirmed sightings or fossils, particularly on an island as small and as densely populated as Puerto Rico.

For another, even if the beasts managed to hide, they'd still need a lot of food, and if they are actually vampires, then you'd expect to find a lot more blood-drained carcasses.

If true believers have one complaint against Radford's work, he expects them to say that it's implausible that Tolentino saw something that doesn't exist. Radford, who has a degree in psychology, chalks that up to confabulation, a common scenario in which people simply confuse the fictional and real worlds. [10 Urban Legends Debunked]

"The question then becomes which is more likely, the astronomical chance that this creature looks exactly like the one from 'Species,' or that the film is just where she got the depiction?" Radford said.

So why does the myth persist? Radford says it's the result of a perfect storm of urban legend-brewing conditions. El Chupacabra was one of the first mythical beasts discovered in the Internet age, and its image and story spread around the world — and especially to Spanish-speaking countries — in a matter of weeks. It also gained the early support of UFO enthusiasts, who latched onto the idea that the creature was alien, or an alien's pet, as well as the conspiracy/cover-up angle often associated with forensic analyses of the "beast."

Radford has another theory: "The thing about myths is that people want to believe in things," he said. "I suppose that, in a perverse way, there's something comforting in that there's this vampiric monster that doesn't attack humans."

http://www.foxnews.com/scitech/2011/03/23/el-chupacabra-mystery-definitively-solved-expert-claims/?test=faces

Crystal

edit to add:
there is a slideshow after the jump
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« Reply #3430 on: Mar 23rd, 2011, 6:59pm »




description with video:

Uploaded by UfoTvOfficial on Mar 22, 2011

Latest UFO sightings - New footage of UFO activity recorded in the night sky over Rockingham, Western Australia on Tuesday, 22nd March 2011.
Witness report: Orb Traveled South to North.
It was blueish colour got as bright as the moon! Not the super moon but the normal moon we usually see. The Feeling I got when viewing this particular object was amazing it was fantastic it was the best feeling in the world to have witnessed such an amazing spectacle. Subscribe and Join me and Alexi on our quest to uncover the truth that has haunted man for centuries: are we alone?

~

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« Reply #3431 on: Mar 24th, 2011, 08:02am »

New York Times

March 23, 2011
New Problems at Japanese Plant Subdue Optimism
By KEITH BRADSHER

The Japanese electricians who bravely strung wires this week to all six reactor buildings at a stricken nuclear power plant succeeded despite waves of heat and blasts of radioactive steam.

The restoration of electricity at the plant, the Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power Station, stirred hopes that the crisis was ebbing. But nuclear engineers say some of the most difficult and dangerous tasks are still ahead — and time is not necessarily on the side of the repair teams.

The tasks include manually draining hundreds of gallons of radioactive water and venting radioactive gas from the pumps and piping of the emergency cooling systems, which are located diagonally underneath the overheated reactor vessels. The urgency of halting the spread of radioactive contamination from the site was underlined on Wednesday by the health warning that infants should not drink tap water — even in Tokyo, 140 miles southwest of the stricken plant — which raised alarms about extensive contamination.

“We’ve got at least 10 days to two weeks of potential drama before you can declare the accident over,” said Michael Friedlander, who worked as a nuclear plant operator for 13 years.

Nuclear engineers have become increasingly concerned about a separate problem that may be putting pressure on the Japanese technicians to work faster: salt buildup inside the reactors, which could cause them to heat up more and, in the worst case, cause the uranium to melt, releasing a range of radioactive material.

Richard T. Lahey Jr., who was General Electric’s chief of safety research for boiling-water reactors when the company installed them at the Fukushima Daiichi plant, said that as seawater was pumped into the reactors and boiled away, it left more and more salt behind.

He estimates that 57,000 pounds of salt have accumulated in Reactor No. 1 and 99,000 pounds apiece in Reactors No. 2 and 3, which are larger.

The big question is how much of that salt is still mixed with water and how much now forms a crust on the uranium fuel rods.

Crusts insulate the rods from the water and allow them to heat up. If the crusts are thick enough, they can block water from circulating between the fuel rods. As the rods heat up, their zirconium cladding can rupture, which releases gaseous radioactive iodine inside and may even cause the uranium to melt and release much more radioactive material.

Some of the salt might be settling to the bottom of the reactor vessel rather than sticking to the fuel rods, however.

The Japanese have reported that some of the seawater used for cooling has returned to the ocean, suggesting that some of the salt may have flowed out again, with some radioactive material. But clearly a significant amount of salt remains.

A Japanese nuclear safety regulator said on Wednesday that plans were under way to fix a piece of equipment that would allow freshwater instead of seawater to be pumped in.

He said that an informal international group of experts on boiling-water reactors was increasingly worried about salt accumulation and was inclined to recommend that the Japanese try to flood each reactor vessel’s containment building with cold water in an effort to prevent the uranium from melting down. That approach might make it harder to release steam from the reactors as part of the “feed-and-bleed” process that was being used to cool them, but that was a risk worth taking, he said.

Public alarm about the crisis increased on Wednesday after officials announced that levels of radioactive iodine had been detected in Tokyo’s tap water.

Recent rains might have washed radioactive particles into the water, as the Japanese government suggested. But prevailing breezes for the past two weeks should have been pushing the radiation mostly out to sea. And until Wednesday, some experts had predicted that radioactive iodine would not be much of a problem, because the fission necessary to produce iodine — which breaks down quickly, with a half-life of just eight days — stopped within minutes of the earthquake on March 11. The fear is that more radiation is being released than has been understood.

Preventing the reactors and storage pools from overheating through radioactive decay would go a long way toward limiting radioactive contamination. But that would require pumping a lot of cold freshwater through them.

The emergency cooling system pump and motor for a boiling-water reactor are roughly the size and height of a compact hatchback car standing on its back bumper. The powerful system has the capacity to propel thousands of gallons of water a minute throughout a reactor pressure vessel and storage pool. But that very power can also be the system’s Achilles’ heel.

The pump and piping are designed to be kept full of water. But they tend to leak and develop alternating pockets of air and water, Mr. Friedlander said.

If the pump is turned on without venting the air and draining the water, the water from the pump would hit the alternating pockets with enough force to blow holes in the piping. Venting the air and draining the water requires a technician to reach a dozen valves, sometimes using a ladder. The water is removed through a hose to the nearest drain, usually in the floor, that leads to machinery designed to remove radiation from the water.

The process takes a full 12 hours in a reactor that is operating normally, Mr. Friedlander said. But even then, the water in the pipes tends to be radioactively contaminated because the valves that separate it from the reactor are not entirely tight.

Backlash from the reactor is likely to be an even bigger problem when the water inside the reactor is much more radioactive than usual and is under extremely high pressure.

Japanese government and power company officials expressed optimism on Wednesday morning that the crisis was close to being brought under control, only to encounter two reminders in the afternoon of the unpredictable difficulties that lie ahead.

Fukushima Daiichi’s Reactor No. 3 began belching black smoke for an hour late in the afternoon, leading its operator, the Tokyo Electric Power Company, to evacuate workers. A spokeswoman said Thursday that more tests were needed before the company could determine how to proceed in its effort to restore the cooling system.

No. 3 is considered one of the most dangerous of the reactors because of its fuel — mixed oxides, or mox, which contain a mixture of uranium and plutonium and can produce a more dangerous radioactive plume if scattered by fire or explosions.

The spokeswoman said workers would try to repair a pump at Reactor No. 5, which was shut down at the time of the quake and has shown few problems. The pump abruptly stopped working Wednesday afternoon.


David Jolly contributed reporting.

http://www.nytimes.com/2011/03/24/world/asia/24nuclear.html?adxnnl=1&ref=world&adxnnlx=1300971626-qOA2xiCJEopCxIjQfM7TkQ

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« Reply #3432 on: Mar 24th, 2011, 08:04am »

The Hill

Obama faces political storm on six-day-old Libyan mission
By Sam Youngman and John T. Bennett
03/24/11 06:00 AM ET

President Obama returned to Washington and a political storm on Wednesday over the military campaign in Libya.

Five days into a mission that started while Obama was out of the country on a trip to Latin America, the criticism of the White House’s handling of the Libyan crisis reached a new peak as military leaders hedged on when the U.S. would transition leadership to its allies.

Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) delivered the broadside Wednesday, questioning whether the White House had settled on any benchmarks for success with its campaign, which the Speaker said had not been clearly defined to the country, the Congress or U.S. troops.

“I and many other members of the House of Representatives are troubled that U.S. military resources were committed to war without clearly defining for the American people, the Congress and our troops what the mission in Libya is and what America’s role is in achieving that mission,” Boehner wrote.

“In fact, the limited, sometimes contradictory, case made to the American people by members of your administration has left some fundamental questions about our engagement unanswered.”

Boehner’s tough words are expected to foreshadow a week of hearings and scrutiny of the administration’s plans for Libya when Congress resumes next week.

Obama’s return to Washington several days before Congress ends its recess gives the White House an opportunity to retake control of the story of the Libyan campaign.

Obama at times during his presidency has lost ground in political debates while traveling outside the country, but has come back quickly upon returning to the capital. Obama’s schedule includes no public events on Thursday or Friday, but White House officials suggested he could make his case again to the public.

“Without specifically speaking to one speaking appearance, it’s certainly going to be the case that the president will continue to address the situation in Libya in the coming days,” Deputy National Security Adviser Ben Rhodes said during a Wednesday briefing on Air Force One as the president flew home.

On his first full day back in Washington, Obama is scheduled to meet with Vice President Biden for lunch before meeting with his national security team in the afternoon to discuss the Libya situation.

The tough criticism from Boehner and other members of Congress left administration officials insisting that they took consultations with Congress seriously, and noting that only a week ago the White House had been criticized for moving too slowly on Libya.

“It’s important to remember that in the run-up to this action, we were criticized somewhat — in fact, fairly frequently — by those who felt like we weren’t moving quickly enough, and now some are criticizing us for not going, for going too quickly,” White House press secretary Jay Carney said during the Wednesday briefing.

The administration hopes to have handed off leadership of the coordinated campaign to its allies before Congress ends its recess next week, but there were signs Wednesday that this could take longer than anticipated.

In the first four days after the onset of the bombing and no-fly zone operation, senior uniformed and civilian Pentagon officials said the U.S. would hand command to an organization led by other nations within a few days.

But by Wednesday, two senior U.S. military officials had dropped the time element when discussing the handover.

“We are in the process of working through a new command-and-control structure” with allied nations, Chief of Naval Operations Adm. Gary Roughead said during a breakfast meeting with reporters in Washington.

The current commander of coalition forces, U.S. Africa Command Army Gen. Carter Ham, said Tuesday that he “would not put a date certain” on the transition.

“It’s not so simple as just having a handshake someplace and say, ‘OK, you're now in charge,’ ” Ham said. “I do not see this being a prolonged situation, but we need that identification of the headquarters, and then we'll begin that process and move on.”

With the transition taking longer than expected, some experts said the administration has created a political problem by emphasizing that the mission would be multinational and not simply led by the U.S.

“I’m a little perplexed at why the administration would place such an emphasis on the transition when it, frankly, didn’t have to,” said Damon Wilson, who worked for former President George W. Bush’s White House and is now with the Atlantic Council.

“I think the administration went down this path purely for political reasons — for the perception that this has a more international face,” Wilson said. “They wanted to show this was done differently than it would have been done by the George W. Bush administration.”

Larry Berman, an expert on the presidency and a political science professor at the University of California-Davis, said the larger worry for the administration should be that European allies will drop off from the mission.

“Right now it’s a NATO-US effort, but the sooner the president articulates an endgame scenario that goes beyond 'no ground troops,' the safer it will be for him politically,” Berman said.


http://thehill.com/homenews/administration/151607-obama-faces-political-storm-five-days-into-libyan-mission

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« Reply #3433 on: Mar 24th, 2011, 08:07am »

Telegraph

A New Zealand man who bought a lottery ticket after being hit on the head by bird droppings has won NZ$100,000 (Ł45,800).

By Paul Chapman in Wellington
7:00AM GMT 24 Mar 2011

The man, who lives in the Bay of Islands in the north of the country, said he bought the instant-win "scratch" card after friends told him that the bird droppings were a lucky sign.

"I thought it was a load of rubbish, but when I was in a Lotto shop I had $5 left in my wallet so thought I would buy a scratchie and test my luck," he said.

"I could not believe it when I scratched the right numbers and realised I had won $100,000," the unnamed man told New Zealand Lotteries.

"It is such a great feeling. I plan to start a new life with this win.

"I want to wipe my debts and just enjoy life."

The man, who is originally from Christchurch, now plans to move back down to his earthquake-stricken home town.

"This win gives me the funds to be able to help out in any way I can in the city's rebuild," he said.

http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/newstopics/howaboutthat/8403038/New-Zealand-man-proves-being-hit-by-bird-droppings-is-lucky.html

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« Reply #3434 on: Mar 24th, 2011, 08:12am »

Wired

March 24, 1989: Valdez Spill Causes Environmental Catastrophe
By Tony Long
March 24, 2011 | 7:00 am
Categories: 20th century, Disasters, Environment


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While the use of high-pressure sprays on rocks effectively helped move the Exxon Valdez oil spill off the Alaskan shoreline,
it further damaged the ecosystem by destroying and displacing marine life.
(Natalie Fobes/Corbis)



1989: The Exxon Valdez runs aground in Prince William Sound, spilling nearly 11 million gallons of crude oil across 1,300 miles of Alaskan coastline. In terms of environmental damage, it ranks among the worst man-made catastrophes ever, and one whose repercussions are felt to this day.

The Exxon Valdez, a single-hull oil tanker measuring nearly 1,000 feet long, was laden with 53 million gallons of crude. After clearing the Valdez Narrows, Master Joseph Hazelwood briefly resumed control of the ship from the port of Valdez harbor pilot.

Then he quit the wheel house, leaving the third mate and an able seaman to handle the ship. He picked a bad time to leave the bridge.

Exxon Valdez was outside the normal shipping lane in an effort to avoid icebergs. Hazelwood had obtained permission from the Coast Guard to change course, which also gave the Coast Guard shared responsibility for ensuring a safe passage. But the ship was not properly monitored and subsequently struck Bligh Reef while maneuvering toward open water just past midnight.

As captain, Hazelwood was ultimately responsible for what happened. Not only did he err in leaving the bridge at a critical moment, he compounded his mistake by handing control of the ship to two men who had not completed their mandatory six hours off duty before beginning a 12-hour watch. The vessel may have also been on autopilot when it hit the reef.

Worse, Hazelwood had been drinking. It remains unclear whether the alcohol impaired his judgment. He admitted during the inquiry to having had “two or three vodkas” earlier in the evening.

The collision tore a gash in the vessel’s hull. Before the leak could be stopped, 10.8 million gallons of crude oil oozed into Prince William Sound and began spreading along the coast.

The first cleanup crews attempted to use a combo of dispersant, surfactant and solvent to attack the oil globules, but the lack of wave action hindered that approach, which was soon abandoned.

Booms and skimmers were brought in, but most arrived after the spill had moved beyond the containment phase. When they were deployed, more than 24 hours after the Exxon Valdez ran aground, the combination of thick oil and large concentrations of kelp fouled much of the machinery.

High-pressure, hot-water hoses were turned on the rocks to disperse the oil. While this was effective in dispersing the oil, it also displaced or destroyed microbial organisms, upsetting the coastal marine food chain and adding to the environmental damage.

Attempts to limit the spill’s spread were further hampered by a storm that hit the area three days later.

Exxon, the oil giant that operated the ship, was roundly excoriated for its slow response to the crisis. When it finally did bestir itself to action, the company mounted what was then the costliest oil-spill cleanup effort in history.

The damage, however, was done.

In terms of volume, the Exxon Valdez spill is not even close to being the largest on record. But in terms of environmental impact, it may have been the worst. The sensitive marine habitat around Prince William Sound nestles inside jagged coastline, with many inlets and coves. This is where much of the oil collected, wreaking havoc on the rich variety of flora and fauna.

The statistics are grim. Upwards of half a million seabirds were killed outright by the spill. Scientists also counted among the dead 1,000 otters, 300 harbor seals, 250 bald eagles and 22 killer whales. The number of salmon and herring eggs destroyed was put in the billions.

More than 20 years on, most of the region has recovered, but not entirely. A 2007 study by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration estimated that 26,000 gallons of crude oil still contaminates the coastline near Valdez. Some scientists believe it will be at least another decade before that stretch of the Alaskan coast returns to its natural state.

As for Hazelwood, he took the full brunt of America’s collective outrage, but somehow emerged relatively unscathed. His master’s license was suspended but not revoked, and in the end he paid a relatively paltry fine of $50,000. He was sentenced to 1,000 hours of community service, which was performed in Anchorage.

He has, however, had little luck finding further employment as a seagoing skipper.

http://www.wired.com/thisdayintech/2011/03/0324exxon-valdez-oil-spill/

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