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 veryhotthread  Author  Topic: Stuff & Nonsense  (Read 113161 times)
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« Reply #8340 on: Apr 18th, 2013, 09:15am »

Boston Globe


Authorities have clear video images of two suspects

By Shelley Murphy and Mark Arsenault
April 18, 2013

Authorities have clear video images of two separate suspects in the Boston Marathon bombings carrying black bags at each explosion site and are planning to release the images today in an appeal for the public’s help in identifying the men, according to an official briefed on the case.

The official said that the two suspects were seen separately on videotape -- one at each of the two bombing sites, which are located about a block apart.

The official, who spoke this morning on the condition of anonymity, said the best video has come from surveillance cameras on the same side of Boylston Street as the explosions. The official said the widely reported Lord Taylor surveillance camera, and snapshots from individual cell phone camera users, have not provided the clearest images.

It was unclear why authorities did not publicize images of the unidentified suspects yesterday. President Obama is visiting Boston today, and the timing of a law enforcement briefing remained unclear.

On Wednesday, the disclosure that a bomber was believed to have been seen on the Lord and Taylor surveillance video led to widespread media reports that a suspect was in custody, was under arrest and was heading to US District Court in South Boston for an initial appearance.

Journalists and spectators converged on the Moakley ­federal courthouse Wednesday afternoon, expecting a suspect to be brought in. But top law enforcement officials denied they had anyone in custody, and the courthouse was evacuated after a bomb threat. After a search of the building, employees and visitors were allowed back inside.

The Marathon Monday explo­sions killed three people and injured more than 176, many of whom were grievously maimed. On Wednesday, author­ities confirmed the identity of the third victim, Boston University graduate student Lingzi Lu, who was from China. Martin Richard, an 8-year-old from Dorchester and 29-year-old Krystle Campbell, a native of Medford, were also killed.

Sixty-two people hurt in the blasts remained at Boston hospitals Wednesday evening; 12 were in critical condition.

Obama signed an emergency declaration Wednesday for Massachusetts and ordered federal aid to supplement the local response to the bombings.

Obama will attend an interfaith service set for 11 a.m. today at the Cathedral of the Holy Cross in the city’s South End. The president will try to comfort a community in deep mourning, as he has done ­after mass murders at Fort Hood in 2009, Tucson in 2011, and Aurora, Colo.. and Newtown, Conn., in 2012.

Obama will deliver a message “of resolve” to Boston, White House Press Secretary Jay Carney said Wednesday. “It will be [a message] of the commonality that we all feel as Americans with the people of Boston and those who were visiting Boston for the Marathon and who both endured this horrific event and then demonstrated their bravery in its immediate aftermath.”

Michelle Obama is scheduled to accompany the president. The Obamas are scheduled to be in Boston several hours, which suggests they may also be meeting with bombing victims. Governor Deval Patrick said he was uncertain of the president’s itinerary, but “I know that both he and Mrs. Obama have an interest in visiting victims and/or with hospital staff. I think they’re also very cautious of the disruption” caused by a presidential visit and the security it ­requires.

The Associated Press first reported at about 2 p.m. Wednesday that a suspect had been “taken into custody” and was “expected in federal court” on the South Boston waterfront. AP did not name the source of the information. CNN followed with a tweet saying “arrest made” in the case.

The Globe, relying on information provided by an official familiar with the investigation, sent out tweets and posted a story Wednesday afternoon reporting that a suspect was in custody and en route to federal court. The FBI later ­issued a statement saying “no arrest has been made,” while other public officials have said no one was in custody. After further reporting, the Globe is no longer convinced that its previously reliable source had accurate information.

Most of the massive 12-block crime scene around Copley Square remained closed for a third day Wednesday, as investigators continued their painstaking search for evidence.

Patrick said he is trying to find the right words to lead the state in a time of anxiety and uncertainty.

“It’s hard to say anything that is exactly right, but I feel the frustration and the anger that a lot of people are feeling,” Patrick said. “I feel the notion that someone would take a civic ritual like this and would turn it into something dangerous is infuriating to me.

“But I am also confident we will come through this stronger, and the reason I’m confident is there are so many of these stories I hear of grace and kindness people have shown.”

The pieces of evidence ­recovered so far include bomb fragments, from which experts have determined that at least one bomb was fashioned from a pressure cooker stuffed with explosives laced with nails and ball-bearings.

The maker of the pressure cooker, Fagor America Inc., ­issued a statement saying the company has been contacted by investigators and is cooperating.“Our pressure cookers . . . are not intended to be used for any other purpose other than cooking,’’ the company said.

http://www.bostonglobe.com/metro/2013/04/18/authorities-have-clear-video-images-two-suspects/YejgNWAcmChcx2lUXigs5I/story.html

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« Reply #8341 on: Apr 18th, 2013, 09:17am »

Science Daily

Scientists Reverse Memory Loss in Animal Brain Cells

Apr. 17, 2013

Neuroscientists at The University of Texas Health Science Center at Houston (UTHealth) have taken a major step in their efforts to help people with memory loss tied to brain disorders such as Alzheimer's disease.

Using sea snail nerve cells, the scientists reversed memory loss by determining when the cells were primed for learning. The scientists were able to help the cells compensate for memory loss by retraining them through the use of optimized training schedules. Findings of this proof-of-principle study appear in the April 17 issue of The Journal of Neuroscience.

"Although much works remains to be done, we have demonstrated the feasibility of our new strategy to help overcome memory deficits," said John "Jack" Byrne, Ph.D., the study's senior author, as well as director of the W.M. Keck Center for the Neurobiology of Learning and Memory and chairman of the Department of Neurobiology and Anatomy at the UTHealth Medical School.

This latest study builds on Byrne's 2012 investigation that pioneered this memory enhancement strategy. The 2012 study showed a significant increase in long-term memory in healthy sea snails called Aplysia californica, an animal that has a simple nervous system, but with cells having properties similar to other more advanced species including humans.

Yili Zhang, Ph.D., the study's co-lead author and a research scientist at the UTHealth Medical School, has developed a sophisticated mathematical model that can predict when the biochemical processes in the snail's brain are primed for learning.

Her model is based on five training sessions scheduled at different time intervals ranging from 5 to 50 minutes. It can generate 10,000 different schedules and identify the schedule most attuned to optimum learning.

"The logical follow-up question was whether you could use the same strategy to overcome a deficit in memory," Byrne said. "Memory is due to a change in the strength of the connections among neurons. In many diseases associated with memory deficits, the change is blocked."

To test whether their strategy would help with memory loss, Rong-Yu Liu, Ph.D., co-lead author and senior research scientist at the UTHealth Medical School, simulated a brain disorder in a cell culture by taking sensory cells from the sea snails and blocking the activity of a gene that produces a memory protein. This resulted in a significant impairment in the strength of the neurons' connections, which is responsible for long-term memory.

To mimic training sessions, cells were administered a chemical at intervals prescribed by the mathematical model. After five training sessions, which like the earlier study were at irregular intervals, the strength of the connections returned to near normal in the impaired cells.

"This methodology may apply to humans if we can identify the same biochemical processes in humans. Our results suggest a new strategy for treatments of cognitive impairment. Mathematical models might help design therapies that optimize the combination of training protocols with traditional drug treatments," Byrne said.

He added, "Combining these two could enhance the effectiveness of the latter while compensating at least in part for any limitations or undesirable side effects of drugs. These two approaches are likely to be more effective together than separately and may have broad generalities in treating individuals with learning and memory deficits."

Other co-authors from the UTHealth Medical School included: Douglas A. Baxter, Ph.D., professor; Paul Smolen, Ph.D., assistant professor; and Len Cleary, Ph.D., professor.

http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2013/04/130417164451.htm

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« Reply #8342 on: Apr 18th, 2013, 09:29am »

Reuters

Up to 15 dead after fire and blast at Texas fertilizer plant

By Regina Dennis

WEST, Texas
Thu Apr 18, 2013 9:25am EDT

(Reuters) - Rescue crews searched the wreckage of a fertilizer plant and dozens of demolished homes for bodies on Thursday after a fiery explosion injured more than 160 people and prompted the evacuation of half a small Texas town.

Police initially estimated that five to 15 people had died in Wednesday night blast, but officials said the death toll could climb as the search continued. They were treating the blast site as a possible crime scene.

A fire had broken out at the plant before the 8 p.m. explosion rocked West, a town of 2,700 people about 20 miles north of Waco and 80 miles south of Dallas.

Witness Kevin Smith told CBS News he had just climbed the stairs to the second floor of his home when he felt the blast.

"The house exploded. It was just a bright flash and a roar, I thought it was lightning striking the house," Smith said. "I felt myself flying through the air about 10 feet, and it took a second or two to realize that the roof had caved in on me so I knew it wasn't lightning."

Light rain was falling and winds had picked up to 22 miles per hour Thursday morning, conditions that could complicate the recovery effort or prompt additional evacuations.

"I've never seen anything like this," McLennan County Sheriff Parnell McNamara said. "It looks like a war zone with all the debris."

Hillcrest Baptist Medical Center in Waco admitted 28 of more than 100 people it treated, with five in the intensive care unit, said David Argueta, vice president of operations.

The explosion came two days before the 20th anniversary of a fire in nearby Waco that engulfed a compound inhabited by David Koresh and his followers in the Branch Davidian sect, ending a siege by federal agents.

About 82 members of the sect and four federal agents died at Waco.

SEISMIC BLAST

Ground motion from the blast, triggered by a fire of unknown origin at the West Fertilizer Co plant, registered as a magnitude 2.1 seismic tremor and created a jolt felt in Dallas and beyond, the U.S. Geological Survey reported.

Waco Police Sergeant W. Patrick Swanton said investigators had not yet established what caused the fire or blast.

"We are not indicating that it is a crime, but we don't know," Swanton said early on Thursday, nine hours after the blast. "What that means to us is that until we know it is an industrial accident, we will work it as a crime scene."

West Mayor Tommy Muska said five or six volunteer firefighters who were among the first to arrive at the fertilizer plant were missing.

Firefighters had been battling the fire and evacuating nearby houses and a nursing home for about 20 minutes before the explosion occurred.

Texas Public Safety Department spokesman D.L. Wilson said about half the town, eight to 10 blocks, had been evacuated and that "we might even have to evacuate on the other side of town" if winds shift.

But emergency management personnel said there was no immediate danger to the public from the smoke, Swanton said.

Wilson said 50 to 75 houses were damaged by the explosion and fire, and a nearby 50-unit apartment complex had been reduced to "a skeleton standing up." Muska put the number of destroyed homes at between 60 and 80.

Wilson said 133 people were evacuated from the nursing home, which was heavily damaged, but it was not known how many residents had been hurt. A middle school also was badly damaged.

'KIDS SCREAMING'

Three hospitals in Waco and Dallas reported treating more than 160 injuries from the blast.

"We are seeing a lot of lacerations and orthopedic-type injuries ... things you would expect in an explosion," said Argueta at Hillcrest Baptist.

Jason Shelton, 33, a father of two who lives less than a mile from the plant, said he heard fire trucks heading toward the facility five minutes before the explosion and felt the blast as he stood on his front porch.

"My windows started rattling and my kids screaming," Shelton said. "The screen door hit me in the forehead ... and all the screens blew off my windows."

Governor Rick Perry said 21 National Guard members had been sent to help with emergency response efforts.

The Obama administration said it was monitoring local and state response through the Federal Emergency Management Agency.

The U.S. Chemical Safety Board said it is sending a "large investigation team" to the scene.

(Additional reporting by Steve Gorman, Tim Gaynor, David Bailey, Marice Richter and Ian Simpson; Writing by Steve Gorman; Editing by Scott Malone and Doina Chiacu)

http://www.reuters.com/article/2013/04/18/us-usa-explosion-texas-idUSBRE93H02A20130418

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« Reply #8343 on: Apr 18th, 2013, 09:37am »

Der Spiegel

Risky 'Abenomics' : Can Japan's Economy Be Jumpstarted?

By Wieland Wagner
18 April 2013

It's Saturday afternoon in Tokyo, and there's the usual hustle and bustle in the shopping district of Akihabara. Young Japanese women with blond hair and brightly colored costumes are dancing in the streets. They are promoting manga cafés, where occasionally even the customers are dressed as cartoon characters.

In a high-rise building towering above the milling masses of consumers, a brokerage house has invited housewives, pensioners and employees to a seminar for small investors. They are fervently seeking tips for how they can lucratively invest their savings, and every seat is taken. The hot topic up for discussion: "Abenomics -- who has profited, who will be the next to profit?"

"Abenomics" is a Japanese term coined from the family name of Shinzo Abe, the recently-elected Japanese prime minister, and the English word "economics." Scenes like the one here in Tokyo can be witnessed all across Japan as investors flock to such events to earn from the "Abe economy," the new doctrine of salvation from their head of government.

Fresh off a Comeback

Indeed, the 58-year-old politician succeeded in making a comeback last December that virtually no one believed he and his Liberal Democratic Party (LDP) could achieve. After a series of failures and health problems, he stepped down as prime minister in Sept. 2007. He has reinvented himself, and is presenting himself as Japan's savior who will lead the country out of its ongoing economic misery.

For a long time, Abe primarily made waves by intending to amend Japan's pacifist constitution. Now, however, he has recognized that his country first has to arm itself economically to catch up with rivals like China and South Korea.

Abe received a fitting strategy to achieve this from Koichi Hamada, a professor emeritus of economics at Yale University in the US, who now is serving as a government adviser.

Hamada believes that one entity is primarily to blame for Japan's malaise: the Bank of Japan (BOJ). For years, the central bank was unable to halt the country's chronic deflation. Since prices were dropping, companies were earning less or even going bankrupt. This in turn caused wages to decline. The Japanese hardly had any money left to buy goods and services.

As a result, companies' profits fell even further. In order to break out of this deflationary spiral, Abe forced the nominally independent BOJ to capitulate. He appointed a new central bank governor, Haruhiko Kuroda. The 68-year-old began his career in the Finance Ministry and occasionally likes to relax by reading Western philosophers such as Aristotle. Among central bankers, he stands out as being unusually talkative -- and just as unusually willing to experiment.

Taking Risks

Indeed, the new head of the BOJ has targeted an inflation target of two percent. In expectation of rising prices, at least according to the theory, companies will boost their investments and consumers will spend more money again.

Kuroda hopes to achieve his objective within two years -- and he promises "to do everything possible" to make it a reality. In other words, the central bank intends to print yen practically without restraint and to double the amount of money in circulation. On top of that, the bank plans to purchase Japanese sovereign bonds at the astonishing rate of over 7 trillion yen (over €50 billion/$65 billion) per month -- roughly twice as much as before. In the future, the BOJ wants to purchase over 70 percent of all newly issued sovereign bonds -- pushing down yields in the process.

It's a risky strategy. Japan has amassed a Fujiyama of debt, more than twice the country's entire annual gross domestic product (GDP). In contrast to Greece, Japan has borrowed most of its money from its own people -- over 90 percent of the bonds are held by the country's citizens. But now Japan's monetary watchdogs are joining the gamblers. For instance, the new head of the central bank is considering purchasing an increasing number of risky securities such as real estate funds.

This abundance of Japanese liquidity is threatening to spill over to Europe. Indeed, to avoid the prospect of falling yields, Japanese investors could rush to place their capital in foreign bonds. In anticipation of the new trend, lending rates in European countries like Spain have already begun to fall.

Psychology and the Economy

Until now, the Abenomics strategy has been mostly just words, but they have had quite an impact. They have seemingly erased the financial gloom that has pulled down Japan, once Asia's top economy, since the inflated real estate and stock prices of the late 1980s and early 1990s burst, marking the end of the so-called Japanese asset price bubble.

Even during the election campaign, Abe underscored the enormous degree to which the economy is influenced by psychology. With his threat to take away the central bank's independence, he kindled hopes of an enormous flood of money, causing large numbers of investors to dump their yen and buy dollars.

The yen, which has long made Japanese cars and televisions expensive abroad, has fallen by over 25 percent against the dollar since last autumn.

Not surprisingly, the cheaper yen has boosted entire sectors of the real economy. It's suddenly worthwhile for export companies like Toyota to manufacture in Japan again. The automotive giant is considering ramping up its domestic production from April to September by 200,000, to a total of 2.5 million vehicles.

The prospect of higher company profits has created a bullish mood on the Tokyo Stock Exchange. Since the beginning of the year, the benchmark Nikkei index has risen by over 25 percent to its highest level in four-and-a-half years. And it's primarily foreign funds that have rediscovered Japan as an investment objective.

Expensive Imports

But Abe can't cure Japan's economic woes with the low yen alone. In fact, he's running the risk of being drawn into a devaluation race with countries like South Korea, which are afraid that their exports may now no longer be competitively priced. But not all aspects of falling exchange rates are a bonanza for the Japanese. The lower the yen falls, the more expensive their imports become -- particularly fossil fuels to generate electricity. After all, 52 out of the country's 54 nuclear reactors have been shut down since the disaster at Fukushima.

Now, Japan is nearly totally dependent on foreign oil and gas. In order to put more money into consumers' pockets despite this development, Abe recently intervened in the annual wage negotiations between companies and workers. He called on companies to pay higher wages to the "hard-working people." A number of sectors, primarily large supermarket chains, obediently decided to reward their workforces with increases in pay for the first time in years, although it often amounted to only one-time bonuses.

more after the jump:

http://www.spiegel.de/international/business/risky-economic-plan-for-japan-inspires-hope-and-fear-a-894625.html

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« Reply #8344 on: Apr 19th, 2013, 09:15am »

Wired

3 New Exoplanets Might Have Right Temperature for Life

By Adam Mann
04.18.13
1:59 PM


Scientists are reporting a bounty of new worlds that may be capable of sustaining life, with the discovery of three exoplanets slightly larger than Earth orbiting within their stars’ habitable zone.

These findings come from NASA’s Kepler spacecraft, a dedicated planet-hunting mission currently wrapping up four productive years in which it has spotted more than 100 planets outside our solar system. The telescope stares at about 150,000 stars simultaneously, watching for a tiny dip in their glow, which could indicate that a planet has passed in front and blocked their light. Though the majority of Kepler’s discoveries are Jupiter-size worlds, the mission has lately been homing in on planets the size and temperature of our own, suggesting they may be good places to find life.

Two of the newly discovered potentially habitable exoplanets orbit the same star, Kepler-62, which is located about 1,200 light-years away. The system resembles our own, with five planets total, though the other three worlds are all too close to the star to contain life as we know it. The two farthest planets, Kepler-62e and Kepler-62f, have 1.6 and 1.4 times the radius of Earth and go around their parent start every 122 and 267 days, respectively.

Because their parent star is only about two-thirds the size of our sun, the estimated surface temperatures of the two worlds is -3 degrees and -65 degrees Celsius. While that sounds very chilly, the calculation doesn’t take into account a potential atmosphere, which would act like a warm blanket, heating the planets up and possibly producing temperatures where liquid water could exist.

There is a great deal of uncertainty with the new worlds and scientists are careful about drawing any conclusions. The Kepler team members don’t know if the planets ”have a rocky composition, an atmosphere, or water,” they write in a paper available Apr. 18 in Science. Unless those properties can be found out, they “cannot determine whether [the exoplanets] are in fact habitable.”

The other new world, reported today in The Astrophysical Journal, is called Kepler-69c. It takes 242 days to go around a star named Kepler-69 and has a radius about 1.7 times that of our own planet. Its surface temperature is estimated to be a balmy 27 degrees Celsius, basically beach-going weather. Given its size, it’s unknown exactly how Earth-like conditions on its surface might be.

Kepler has previously spotted an almost-Earth-size world in the habitable zone: Kepler-22b, sometimes called an ocean world. Scientists have speculated that it could be covered with liquid, but without more information they can’t know for sure.

Some researchers think that some of these Earth-sized worlds could be covered in vast oceans, though whether or not these oceans would be filled with water or other liquids is a matter of speculation. In their paper, the discoverers of Kepler-69c write that it “may be a water world and quite unlike any planet in our solar system.”

http://www.wired.com/wiredscience/2013/04/super-earths-habitable-zone/

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« Reply #8345 on: Apr 19th, 2013, 09:18am »

Science Daily

New Carnivorous Dinosaur from Madagascar Raises More Questions Than It Answers

Apr. 18, 2013

The first new species of dinosaur from Madagascar in nearly a decade was announced today, filling an important gap in the island's fossil record.

Dahalokely tokana (pronounced "dah-HAH-loo-KAY-lee too-KAH-nah") is estimated to have been between nine and 14 feet long, and it lived around 90 million years ago. Dahalokely belongs to a group called abelisauroids, carnivorous dinosaurs common to the southern continents. Up to this point, no dinosaur remains from between 165 and 70 million years ago could be identified to the species level in Madagascar-a 95 million year gap in the fossil record. Dahalokely shortens this gap by 20 million years.

The fossils of Dahalokely were excavated in 2007 and 2010, near the city of Antsiranana (Diego-Suarez) in northernmost Madagascar. Bones recovered included vertebrae and ribs. Because this area of the skeleton is so distinct in some dinosaurs, the research team was able to definitively identify the specimen as a new species. Several unique features -- including the shape of some cavities on the side of the vertebrae -- were unlike those in any other dinosaur. Other features in the vertebrae identified Dahalokely as an abelisauroid dinosaur.

When Dahalokely was alive, Madagascar was connected to India, and the two landmasses were isolated in the middle of the Indian Ocean. Geological evidence indicates that India and Madagascar separated around 88 million years ago, just after Dahalokely lived. Thus, Dahalokely potentially could have been ancestral to animals that lived later in both Madagascar and India. However, not quite enough of Dahalokely is yet known to resolve this issue. The bones known so far preserve an intriguing mix of features found in dinosaurs from both Madagascar and India.

"We had always suspected that abelisauroids were in Madagascar 90 million years ago, because they were also found in younger rocks on the island. Dahalokely nicely confirms this hypothesis," said project leader Andrew Farke, Augustyn Family Curator of Paleontology at the Raymond M. Alf Museum of Paleontology. Farke continued, "But, the fossils of Dahalokely are tantalizingly incomplete -- there is so much more we want to know. Was Dahalokely closely related to later abelisauroids on Madagascar, or did it die out without descendents?"

The name "Dahalokely tokana" is from the Malagasy language, meaning "lonely small bandit." This refers to the presumed carnivorous diet of the animal, as well as to the fact that it lived at a time when the landmasses of India and Madagascar together were isolated from the rest of the world.

"This dinosaur was closely related to other famous dinosaurs from the southern continents, like the horned Carnotaurus from Argentina and Majungasaurus, also from Madagascar," said project member Joe Sertich, Curator of Dinosaurs at the Denver Museum of Nature & Science and the team member who discovered the new dinosaur. "This just reinforces the importance of exploring new areas around the world where undiscovered dinosaur species are still waiting," added Sertich.

The research was funded by the Jurassic Foundation, Sigma Xi, National Science Foundation, and the Raymond M. Alf Museum of Paleontology. The paper naming Dahalokely appears in the April 18, 2013, release of the journal PLOS ONE.

http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2013/04/130418214043.htm

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« Reply #8346 on: Apr 19th, 2013, 09:20am »

Reuters

Rescuers search for survivors of Texas fertilizer plant blast

By Carey Gillam and Corrie MacLaggan

WEST, Texas
Fri Apr 19, 2013 10:07am EDT

(Reuters) - Rescuers searched on Thursday for survivors in the rubble of homes destroyed by a fiery fertilizer plant explosion in a rural Texas town that the mayor said had killed at least 14 people.

Among the dead are four paramedics killed in the chemical blast at West Fertilizer Co. on Wednesday evening after emergency responders rushed to put out a fire at the plant, West Mayor Tommy Muska said.

He said five volunteer firefighters are listed as missing and feared dead. The cause of the explosion, which injured more than 160 people, was not known and officials said no evidence of foul play had been found.

"All of that unknown ... is really scary, we don't know what has happened, who is alive, who is hurt, that's probably the worst part now," said Pat Lee, whose 92-year-old mother was injured in the blast on Wednesday evening.

Police initially put the death toll at up to 15, but later on Thursday Texas Department of Public Safety spokesman Jason Reyes told reporters that while the explosion had been deadly, it is not yet known exactly how many had been killed.

The Texas blast happened within days of the deadly Boston marathon bombings and the discovery of poisonous packages sent to President Barack Obama and a Republican senator - both incidents that revived memories of the September 11, 2001, attacks.

Agents with the U.S. Chemical Safety Board, a federal agency that investigates industrial chemical accidents, and the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives are on the scene of the blast, which was the strength of a magnitude 2.1 earthquake, according to the U.S. Geological Survey.

Firefighters had been battling a fire at the plant on Wednesday night for about 20 minutes before the blast rocked the town of 2,700 people about 20 miles north of Waco.

Texas Attorney General Greg Abbott toured the devastated area on Thursday and compared the scene to "a bombing site, the kind you see in Baghdad." He said authorities were combing the area "inch by inch."

The blast destroyed 60 to 80 houses, reduced a 50-unit apartment complex to what one local official called "a skeleton standing up" and left a horrific landscape of burned-out buildings and blackened rubble.

The flag at the West Volunteer Fire Department was flying at half-staff and chaplains were on site to console people. Muska said five firefighters in the 29-member department were injured.

Bryan Anderson, 41, injured along with his 9-year-old son Kaden near their home, said: "This doesn't happen in West, Texas. We are just a little town."

West has a strong Czech heritage, and the Czech Republic Embassy in Washington said on its website the ambassador was traveling to the town, which is known among Texans as the place to stop on the highway between Dallas and Austin for kolaches, a popular Czech pastry.

'VERY VOLATILE SITUATION'

Police said the fertilizer plant was in a highly populated neighborhood. "It is still a very volatile situation," said Chief Deputy Sheriff Matt Cawthon of McLennan County.

West Fertilizer Co is a retail facility that blends fertilizer and sells it to farmers. It stored 270 tons of ammonium nitrate, along with other "extremely hazardous" chemicals including anhydrous ammonia in 2012, according to a report the company filed with the state government.

Anhydrous ammonia is used by farmers as fertilizer to boost soil nitrogen levels and improve crop production.

According to the Centers for Disease Control, mixing anhydrous ammonia and water produces a poisonous cloud. When ammonia mixes with air, it forms an explosive mixture, and containers may explode when heated, according to the CDC.

The West plant is one of thousands of sites across rural America that store and sell hazardous materials such as chemicals and fertilizer for agricultural use, many within close range of residences and schools. The company is privately owned and has fewer than 10 employees.

The plant had not been inspected by state officials since 2006, when a complaint of an ammonia smell was resolved, said Zak Covar, executive director of the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality. State inspections are done only when there is a complaint, Covar said.

The federal Environmental Protection Agency fined the firm $2,300 in 2006 for failing to implement a risk management plan.

The plant's owner could not be reached for comment.

Firefighters had been evacuating several blocks around the fire before the blast out of concern for dangerous fumes, police said. That threat had abated by Thursday, police said.

The West middle school, which was badly damaged, was one fifth of a mile from the plant and the high school was one-third of a mile away.

Texas Governor Rick Perry declared McLennan County a disaster area and said he would request federal disaster aid from Obama. The president, who flew to Boston for a memorial service for victims of the Boston bombings, offered support and prayers to the victims in Texas.

Texas is no stranger to industrial disasters. In 1947, 3,200 tons of ammonium nitrate fertilizer detonated aboard a ship in a Texas City port, killing almost 600 people, an incident believed to be the deadliest industrial accident in U.S. history.

More recently, a 2005 explosion at a BP refinery in Texas City killed 15 people and injured more than 170 others when hydrocarbon vapors exploded in a processing plant.

If the West blast was an industrial accident, investigators would look at whether firefighters ignited the blast by pouring water on a volatile substance. Nim Kidd, chief of the Texas Division of Emergency Management, said it was too early to speculate.

"A lot of firefighters will use their No. 1 tool, which is water, in a hazardous materials chemical situation to cool the surrounding environment," he told a briefing in Austin.

(Additional reporting by Nick Carey, Ian Simpson and Atossa Araxia Abrahamian, Lisa Maria Garza, Laura Heinauer and Mark Weinraub; Writing by Michelle Nichols and Ellen Wulfhorst; Editing by Doina Chiacu, Greg McCune and Xavier Briand)

http://www.reuters.com/article/2013/04/19/us-usa-explosion-texas-idUSBRE93H02A20130419

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« Reply #8347 on: Apr 19th, 2013, 09:25am »




Please be an angel



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« Reply #8348 on: Apr 19th, 2013, 9:18pm »

10 Strangest Sights on Google Earth

LiveScience
18 April 2013

One example:

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The boneyardCredit: Google

The Davis Monthan Air Force Base in Tucson, Ariz., is where U.S. military planes go to die. Dubbed "the boneyard," this 2,600-acre cemetery of steel at coordinates 32 08'59.96" N, 110 50'09.03"W is closed to the general public, but Google Earth provides a high-resolution glimpse of what's inside: virtually every plane the military has flown since World War II — from the B-52 StratoFortress to the F-14 Tomcat — in various stages of decay.

See all 10: http://www.livescience.com/28828-10-strangest-sights-google-earth.html
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« Reply #8349 on: Apr 20th, 2013, 01:13am »

Lol lol aerial glyphics maybe some future conspiracy theorist will find this photo and see some hidden message in it lol.
I do not use Google much but I came across this story the other day
http://swns.com/news/secret-nuclear-plant-snapped-by-google-street-view-20487/
reminds me of my old dad when he was a train driver he used to do the nuclear run, the train consisted of the driver the guard and a few armed military personnel dressed in nuclear fall out suits, the driver and guard were issued a small box containing an injection in case of an accident but no protective clothing. That train used to travel through the center of Edinburgh at night and they were not as Hi Tec as they are today so the Edinburgh citizen tucked up in bed never realized they run the gauntlet at night from a nuclear incident.
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« Reply #8350 on: Apr 20th, 2013, 09:40am »

Thanks Swamprat. The boneyard photo would make a beautiful quilt.

Good morning cheesy

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« Reply #8351 on: Apr 20th, 2013, 09:41am »

on Apr 20th, 2013, 01:13am, hyundisonata wrote:
Lol lol aerial glyphics maybe some future conspiracy theorist will find this photo and see some hidden message in it lol.
I do not use Google much but I came across this story the other day
http://swns.com/news/secret-nuclear-plant-snapped-by-google-street-view-20487/
reminds me of my old dad when he was a train driver he used to do the nuclear run, the train consisted of the driver the guard and a few armed military personnel dressed in nuclear fall out suits, the driver and guard were issued a small box containing an injection in case of an accident but no protective clothing. That train used to travel through the center of Edinburgh at night and they were not as Hi Tec as they are today so the Edinburgh citizen tucked up in bed never realized they run the gauntlet at night from a nuclear incident.



Good morning Hyundisonata,

That story will give you nightmares. shocked

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« Reply #8352 on: Apr 20th, 2013, 09:42am »






circa 1959


~

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« Reply #8353 on: Apr 21st, 2013, 08:42am »

Reuters

North Korea moves two more missile launchers: report

By Jane Chung

SEOUL
Sat Apr 20, 2013 11:51pm EDT

(Reuters) - North Korea has moved two short-range missile launchers to its east coast, apparently indicating it is pushing ahead with preparations for a test launch, a South Korean news agency reported on Sunday.

South Korea and its allies have been expecting some sort of North Korean missile launch during weeks of heightened hostility on the Korean peninsula.

An unidentified South Korean military source told the South's Yonhap news agency that satellite imagery showed that North Korean forces had moved two mobile missile launchers for short-range Scud missiles to South Hamgyeong province.

"The military is closely watching the North's latest preparations for a missile launch," the source said.

The North moved two mid-range Musudan missiles in early April and placed seven mobile launchers in the same area, Yonhap said. A North Korean show of force could be staged to coincide with the anniversary of the founding of its army on April 25.

A South Korean Defense Ministry official said he could not confirm the news report and said there had been no sign of unusual activity in North Korea. North Korea fairly regularly test-fires short-range missiles in the sea off its east coast.

North Korea stepped up its defiance of U.N. Security Council resolutions in December when it launched a rocket that it said had put a scientific satellite into orbit. Critics said the launch was aimed at developing technology to deliver a nuclear warhead mounted on a long-range missile.

The North followed that in February with its third test of a nuclear weapon. That brought new U.N. sanctions which in turn led to a dramatic intensification of North Korea's threats of nuclear strikes against South Korea and the United States.

The tension has eased over recent days with the North at least talking about dialogue in response to calls for talks from both the United States and South Korea.

On Saturday, North Korea reiterated that it would not give up its nuclear weapons, rejecting a U.S. condition for talks although it said it was willing to discuss disarmament.

(Editing by Robert Birsel and Sanjeev Miglani)

http://www.reuters.com/article/2013/04/21/us-korea-north-idUSBRE93K01Z20130421

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« Reply #8354 on: Apr 21st, 2013, 08:46am »

Fox News

US pledges to double Syrian aid to $250M, rebels want more

Published April 21, 2013
Associated Press

ISTANBUL – The United States said Sunday that it will double its non-lethal assistance to Syria's opposition as the rebels' top supporters vowed to enhance and expand their backing of the two-year battle to oust President Bashar Assad's regime.

Yet the pledge fell far short of what the opposition had made clear it wanted: weapons and direct military intervention to stop the violence that has killed more than 70,000 people. The Syrian National Coalition had sought drone strikes on sites from which the regime has fired missiles, the imposition of no-fly zones and protected humanitarian corridors to ensure the safety of civilians.

Instead, the Obama administration's pledged to provide an additional $123 million in aid, which may include for the first time armored vehicles, body armor, night vision goggles and other defensive military supplies. It was the only tangible, public offer of new international support as the foreign ministers of the 11 main countries supporting the opposition met in a marathon session in Istanbul.

U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry announced the new package of assistance in a written statement at the conclusion of the conference that began Saturday afternoon and stretched into early Sunday.

The additional aid, which brings total non-lethal U.S. assistance to the opposition to $250 million since the fighting began, "underscores the United States' firm support for a political solution to the crisis in Syria and for the opposition's advancement of an inclusive, tolerant vision for a post-Assad Syria," he said.

Kerry said a portion of the new money would be used to follow through on President Barack Obama's recent authorization to expand direct supplies to the Free Syrian Army beyond food and medical supplies to include defensive items. Officials said the exact types of supplies would be decided in consultation with allies and the rebels' Supreme Military Council.

Kerry also announced nearly $25 million in additional food assistance for Syrians who remain inside the country as well as those who have fled to neighboring countries, bringing the total U.S. humanitarian contribution to the crisis to more than $409 million.

While pleased with the U.S. moves, the opposition appeared deeply disappointed, especially as it lost some ground in the latest clashes with Syrian troops backed by pro-government gunmen capturing at least one village in a strategic area near the Lebanese border.

"We appreciate the limited support given by the international community, but it is not sufficient," it said in a statement released at the end of the conference. "We call on the international community to be more forthcoming and unreserved to fulfill its responsibilities in extending support that is needed by the Syrian people."

Ahead of the meeting, the opposition said it wanted guns and ammunition. And, it said it wanted its friends to conduct drone strikes on Syrian territory to take out Assad's missile capabilities and renewed appeals for the creation of no-fly zones and safe corridors.

"The technical ability to take specific action to prevent the human tragedy and suffering of innocent civilians, mostly women and children, is available in the form of specific intelligence and equipment," it said. "Syrians understand that such ability is within the reach of a number of members of the Friends of Syria group, yet nothing serious has been done to put an end to such terror and criminality."

But none of those calls were specifically addressed by the foreign ministers in a joint statement of their own. Instead, they referred only to their recognition of the "need to change the balance of power on the ground." They said they would welcome additional pledges and commitments to the Free Syrian Army and delegated the rebels' Supreme Military Council to be the conduit for all military aid.

European nations are considering changes to an arms embargo that would allow weapons transfers to the Syrian opposition. But European Union action is unlikely before the current embargo is set to expire in late May.

Britain and France have been leading the calls to amend the embargo to test the strategy that merely giving its members permission to supply arms may cause Assad to rethink his calculation to hold on to power. But some in the EU, notably Germany and the Netherlands, are reluctant, believing that more weapons flowing into Syria will only increase the bloodshed and that they could fall into the hands of extremists.

In what appeared to be an attempt to soothe those fears, the opposition affirmed its commitment to an inclusive and pluralistic democracy that condemns extremism.

"Our revolution is for the entire Syrian people," opposition leader Moaz al-Khatib told reporters, standing alongside Kerry and Turkish Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoglu.

The opposition also pledged in its statement that any military hardware it receives will be used responsibly.

"We will guarantee that weapons will be used in accordance with the specific purpose that they were supplied for, and that these weapons will not fall in the wrong hands," it said. "These weapons and military equipment will be returned to the relevant and appropriate institutions upon the conclusion of the revolution."

Obama has said he has no plans to send weapons or give lethal aid to the rebels, despite pressure from Congress, some administration advisers and the appeals from opposition. There are no plans to change that policy, although U.S. officials say they are not opposed to other countries sending arms as long as the recipients have been properly vetted.

But since February, the U.S. has shipped food and medical supplies directly to the Free Syrian Army and Kerry's announcement marked the first time that Washington has acted on Obama's recent authorization to expand that aid.

The U.S. and its European and Arab allies are struggling to find ways to stem the escalating violence that has led to fears that chemical weapons may have been used.

The foreign ministers urged an immediate investigation by the United Nations to substantiate claims that chemical weapons had been used. "If these allegations are proven to be correct, there will be severe consequences," they said in their statement.


http://www.foxnews.com/politics/2013/04/21/us-doubles-aid-to-syrian-rebels-who-want-more/?test=latestnews#ixzz2R6auxOXR

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