Sunday, July 29, 2007

200,000 marooned in Bangladesh floods

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DHAKA, Bangladesh (AFP) -
At least 200,000 people have been marooned in northern Bangladesh, as monsoon rains and snow melt from the Himalayas hit the flood-prone nation, state-run media said.

Bangladesh is criss-crossed by a network of 230 rivers and suffers annual floods with at least a fifth of the country inundated each year.

In July and August in 2004 flooding left more than 700 people dead and 38 percent of the country submerged, forcing millions to flee their homes.

The government's flood forecasting and warning centre said the situation could worsen in the next few days as major monsoon and Himalayan-glacier fed rivers -- the Ganges and the Brahmaputra that flow through Bangladesh -- are expected to crest.

Unconfirmed reports said at least 10 people have so far died of drowning and snake-bites in the area. Last month, landslides triggered by heavy rains killed at least 126 people in southeastern city of Chittagong on the bay of Bengal.
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"390 CIA-run flights through German airspace were in violation of German law...

and Berlin could have collected millions of euros in fines. Now internal investigations could make things embarrassing for Gerhard Schröder's government as well as the United States.",1020,914873,00.jpg
Buffed clean: The German government stands accused of ignoring illegal "renditions" flights by the CIA.
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When air traffic controllers hear the code words "ATFM exempt," they know to expect something drastic.
Airlines use the code to report a flight when it has sick or severely injured passengers -- or heads of state -- on board.
The code is the air-traffic equivalent of flashing blue lights on a city street.
The documents also show that mis-identifying the flights was part of a system designed to dodge compliance with complicated approval regulations.
These deceptive maneuvers by the CIA have become the subject of intense scrutiny and debate within German political circles
Under German aviation law, the false declaration of flights is an infringement subject to fines ranging from €10,000 to €25,000. All told, the 390 CIA flights would have incurred fines of between four and 10 million euros.
And yet nothing happened.

If the special investigator of the parliamentary investigation committee arrives at similar conclusions, the government will be forced to take action
Renditions Victim Speaks Out: C
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Saturday, July 28, 2007

Cali Colombia Meteorite - Fell July 6, 2007 at ~4:10 PM

Cali #001

N0323.946 W07631.022
Barrio Mariano Ramos

stone unknown, but I estimate it to be ~65 to 80 grams.

stone impacted the home of Yuly Melecio in the Barrio Mariano Ramos
neighborhood of Cali. She lives on the second floor of a building
and the stone impacted her rooftop and penetrated both the zinc
metal and ceramic roof tiles. She was at home at the time, and heard
a sound like thunder outside. She told her son who was outside on
the back balcony to come inside, as she thought a storm was coming.
Moments later, a loud crash shook the home and when she went into
the bedroom, she saw pieces of stone and roof tiles on the floor.
There was sunlight shining through a new hole in the roof and the
floor tile had been chipped by the meteorite.

meteorite was sold to someone in Spain. I made an offer but it seems
that it was topped by someone in Spain, I never had a chance to
offer more, even though I would have gladly raised my offer.

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Thursday, July 26, 2007

China's Weather Modification Program.

"according to past meteorological data, there is a 50% chance of drizzle on that day. To ensure blue skies, the Beijing Weather Modification Office is busy researching the effects of various chemical activators on different sizes of cloud formations at different altitudes. The aim is to catch pregnant clouds early and induce rainfall ahead of the big day so that during the opening ceremony the sky is cloud-free.

Wang said similar efforts in the past have already helped to create good weather for a number of international events held in China, including the 1999 World Horti-Expo in Yunnan and the 1993 East Asian Games in Shanghai. "
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According to Wang Guanghe, director of the
Weather Modification Department under the Chinese
Academy of Meteorological Sciences, each of
China's more than 30 provinces and province-level
municipalities today boast a weather-modification
base, employing more than 32,000 people, 7,100
anti-aircraft guns, 4,991 special rocket launchers
and 30-odd aircraft across the country.
"Ours is the largest artificial weather
program in the world in terms of equipment, size
and budget," Wang said, adding that the annual
nationwide budget for weather modification is
between US$60 million and $90 million.
And now China's weather
officials have been charged with another important
task: ensuring clear skies for the Summer Olympic
Games next year.
Zhang Qiang, the top
weather-modification bureaucrat in Beijing, said
her office has been conducting experiments in
cloud-busting for the past two years in
preparation for the Games' opening ceremony on
August 8, 2008.
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Mummified Toronto child a newborn boy: coroner

"The renovator, Bob Kinghorn, said he found the small body Tuesday lodged between the second and third floors of a home near Broadview Avenue and Queen Street in the city's east end.

The house on Kintyre Avenue was owned in 1925 by a couple. It was sold, in 1941, by provincial officials after the man had died and the woman was a resident of a provincial psychiatric hospital."
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The remains of a baby wrapped in newspaper were found in this house on Kintyre Avenue.The remains of a baby wrapped in newspaper were found in this house on Kintyre Avenue.

Initial investigations indicate a child found in a Toronto home, wrapped in newspapers from 1925, was a newborn boy and likely not a victim of foul play, Ontario's deputy chief coroner said Thursday.

The baby, discovered tucked between floors of a Toronto house by a renovator on Tuesday, appears to have died more than 80 years ago, Dr. Jim Cairns told CBC News.

Cairns, who attended the autopsy at the Hospital for Sick Children on Thursday, said the body showed no evidence of fractures or stab wounds. He said disease has also been ruled out as a cause of death.

Whether the baby was born alive couldn't be determined without further tests. Cairns said these may not be carried out given the length of time since the boy died.

Cairns said DNA tests are being done to help authorities determine whether the baby has any living relatives.

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Changes in rainfall man-made, Canadian scientists say

"But by looking at each latitudinal region individually, larger trends were discovered that could not be accounted for by naturally occurring changes such as increased volcanic activity.

Instead, the burning of fossil fuels appears to a leading cause, the authors said."
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Human activity is changing rainfall patterns throughout the world, bringing more precipitation to temperate and northern regions while providing less to subtropical and tropical regions north of the equator, according to a study to be published Thursday in the journal Nature.

The study is the first to confirm a link between rainfall patterns and global warming, according to co-author Francis Zwiers, the director of the Climate Research Division of Environment Canada.

Previous studies haven't shown a positive link between human-induced changes and precipitation on a global scale because changes in precipitation in different regions cancel each other out, Zwiers told CBC News.

But by looking at each latitudinal region individually, larger trends were discovered that could not be accounted for by naturally occurring changes such as increased volcanic activity.

Instead, the burning of fossil fuels appears to a leading cause, the authors said.

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Science Idol: The Scientific Integrity Editorial Cartoon Contest

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America has spoken.  Jesse Springer of Eugene, Oregon, won the Science Idol editorial cartoon contest with this cartoon:  

"Cartoons are a powerful medium--they can reach, and potentially educate, a tremendous number of people," Jesse said. "If I can draw some compelling cartoons that shed light on the negative impact of governmental interference with science, and more people become aware of the problem as a result, then perhaps we can start to see a change for the better."
Jesse will soon be off to Washington, D.C. to lunch with Tom Toles, Pulitzer Prize-winning cartoonist for the Washington Post. Read more about Jesse and the other finalists
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Crews clean up after oil geyser near Vancouver

" Some of the oil reached Burrard Inlet via storm sewers where witnesses said it stained shoreline rocks. Containment booms have been put in place. Federal Environment Minister John Baird took a boat tour of the area.

The oil geyser left trees, yards and construction equipment coated in thick black goo. There were no injuries, but Burnaby Mayor Derek Corrigan said officials were concerned about the long-term environmental impact.

Corrigan also said a map given to the road repair crew by Kinder Morgan may have had incorrect information on the line's location, but a company official denied that to local media.

"This is an unusual situation in which obviously things went very very wrong," Corrigan told reporters.

The broken line links Kinder Morgan's Trans Mountain pipeline system with Westridge Marine Terminal, where crude oil is shipped to overseas markets and aviation fuel for Vancouver International Airport is received.

An airport official said the pipeline used to ship aviation fuel was not affected by the accident."

VANCOUVER, British Columbia (Reuters) - Experts were assessing the environmental damage on Wednesday after a ruptured pipeline showered a residential area in suburban Vancouver with crude oil, some of which seeped into a nearby Pacific Ocean inlet.

Crews attempted to mop up pools of thick black oil left by Tuesday's accident in Burnaby, British Columbia, when a road repair crew struck the 24-inch line that transports crude from a storage facility to a terminal in Vancouver's port.

Representatives of pipeline owner Kinder Morgan Energy Partners LP did not return phone calls on Wednesday, but local media quoted a company official as saying an estimated 1,400 barrels of oil leaked out in the accident.

Witnesses said a geyser of black oil spewed up to 12 meters (40 feet) in the air for more than 20 minutes before the line was shut down.

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Russia Seeks to Claim Arctic Mineral Wealth

The Arctic until now has been considered international territory. Nations with land bordering the Arctic Ocean, including the United States, reject Moscow's contention that the area could belong to Russia. Denmark, which controls Greenland, is cooperating with Canada in arguing that the Lomonosov Ridge is an extension of North America, not Russia."
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There is growing optimism about the Arctic maritime passage that runs across the top of Russia from the Bering Straits to the north Atlantic due to global warming (12 July 2007 file photo in Russia's Chukotka region)
There is growing optimism about the Arctic maritime passage that runs across the top of Russia from the Bering Straits to the north Atlantic due to global warming (12 July 2007 file photo from Russia's Chukotka region)
A Russian naval expedition is sailing toward the North Pole to explore the bottom of the Arctic Ocean in an effort to stake Moscow's claim to territory that may contain significant undersea deposits of oil and natural gas.  VOA Correspondent Peter Fedynsky has this report from the Russian capital.

The ship's mission is to prove that large areas of the Arctic belong to Russia. Moscow contends that a large undersea geological formation in the area, known as the Lomonosov Ridge, is an extension of continental Russia.  According to international law, nations may claim control of areas within 320 kilometers of their continental shelves. 

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Wednesday, July 25, 2007

Human activity behind global changes in rain: study

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Climate change

The world's rainfall patterns are changing, and they are doing so because of human-caused climate change, a new study finds.

Environment Canada researchers analyzed global rainfall patterns over land from 1925 to 1999, breaking it down into bands of 10 degrees in latitude. The bulk of Canada's landmass sits between the 40th and 70th parallels.

They found 10 per cent more rain and snow in northern regions including Canada, Russia and Europe, and the southern tropics region below the equator.

Meanwhile, there has been drying away from the equator to 30 degrees North, including Mexico, Central America, sub-Saharan Africa, southern India and Southeast Asia.

Researchers say the main cause behind the shifting patterns is human activity, including a steady rise in greenhouse gas emissions and sulphate aerosols from the burning of fossil fuels.

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Sunday, July 22, 2007

$40M Hindu Temple Opens In Toronto

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$40M Hindu Temple Opens In Toronto

It's already a source of tremendous pride for Canada's Hindu community. After more than a year's worth of construction, Prime Minister Stephen Harper helped open a $40 million holy temple Saturday, the BAPS Shri Swaminarayan Mandir in Toronto.

In his speech, Harper praised India's efforts to alleviate tensions and reconcile interests within it's diverse population through democratic institutions.  "Where far too many other countries have failed, India is succeeding," he said.

He added that the opening of the holy temple marks another step in Canada's quest to accommodate diversity, and that it stands as a testament to both Canada and India's traditions of pluralism.

Located in north-west Toronto, the temple made of Turkish limestone and Italian marble is being called an architectural masterpiece.

It's 2,000 builders were required to follow ancient Hindu rules governing how a holy shrine is to be built.

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Monday, July 16, 2007

British man calls North Pole swim a tragedy

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TORONTO -- A British swimmer who says he wants to wake up politicians around the world to the threat of climate change has successfully completed a kilometre-long swim in the freezing water of the North Pole.

Lewis Gordon Pugh swam Sunday for 18 minutes and 50 seconds in temperatures of minus 1.8 degrees Celsius in just Speedo briefs, cap and goggles.

"I am obviously ecstatic to have succeeded but this swim is a triumph and a tragedy,'' the 37-year-old British lawyer said after coming out of the water.

"A triumph that I could swim in such ferocious conditions but a tragedy that it's possible to swim at the North Pole.''

Pugh said he hoped that his swim will make world leaders take climate change seriously.

"The decisions which they make over the next few years will determine the biodiversity of our world,'' he said.

This photo provided by Push Pictures shows British explorer and endurance swimmer Lewis Gordon Pugh diving into the waters of the Geographic North Pole on Sunday July 15, 2007. (AP Photo Jason Roberts/Push Pictures)
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Monday, July 09, 2007

Canadian Ships to Enforce Arctic Soverignty

"The ships will have a helicopter landing pad able to accommodate the new CH-148 Cyclone choppers due in the fleet over the coming years. In addition to their purchase cost, the government expects to spend another $4.3 billion to operate and maintain them over their 25-year lifespan.

""The world is changing. The ongoing discovery of the north's resource riches couple with the potential impact of climate change has made the region a growing area of interest and concern," Harper said.""
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OTTAWA — Canada's Navy will be getting to up to eight new armed Arctic patrol ships, worth $3.1 billion, to help enforce sovereignty in the country's vast northern reaches, Prime Minister Stephen Harper announced today.

The receding ice cover is making the Arctic waterways more accessible to international shipping than ever before, making it imperative that Canada stake its claim to the region, Harper said today.

"Either we use it or we lose it," Harper said as he announced the acquisition at CFB Esquimalt, a base near Victoria, B.C., that is home to the navy's Pacific fleet.

"This government intends to use it, because Canada's Arctic is central to our identity as a northern nation," he said.

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Sunday, July 08, 2007

A Sudden Change of State

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A new paper suggests we have been greatly underestimating the impacts of climate change – and the size of the necessary response.

Rather than taking thousands of years to melt, as the IPCC predicts, Hansen and his team find it “implausible” that the expected warming before 2100 “would permit a West Antarctic ice sheet of present size to survive even for a century.” As well as drowning most of the world’s centres of population, a sudden disintegration could lead to much higher rises in global temperature, because less ice means less heat reflected back into space. The new paper suggests that the temperature could therefore be twice as sensitive to rising greenhouse gases than the IPCC assumes. “Civilization developed,” Hansen writes, “during a period of unusual climate stability, the Holocene, now almost 12,000 years in duration. That period is about to end.”(4)

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Thursday, July 05, 2007

Bush "Anti-Protester" Manual Discovered

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A lawsuit by the American Civil Liberties Union has uncovered a manual from the Bush Administration detailing its tactics for suppressing protests at presidential appearances. The lawsuit was filed on behalf of two people from Colorado who were forcibly removed from a presidential "Town Hall Meeting" because their car had a bumper sticker that said, "No more blood for oil." They have obtained a copy of the "Presidential Advance Manual," which details tactics "to stop a demonstrator from getting into the event." A section titled "Preventing Demonstrators" advises event organizers to recruit local Republicans into "Rally Squads" whose "task is to use their signs and banners as shields between the demonstrators and the main press platform. If the demonstrators are yelling, rally squads can begin and lead supportive chants to drown out the protestors [sic] (USA! USA! USA!) As a last resort, security should remove the protestors from the event site."
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Monday, July 02, 2007

Pheromones trigger brain cell growth

""Nobody actually ever understood why those two regions of the brain are ones that add brain cells in such increasing numbers," he said.

"Reproductive success, and the health of relationships and offspring is critical for the survival of any species, so if stem cells are going to play a role, they should be playing a role in ensuring success in health."

Weiss found pheromonal signals act to increase levels of prolactin and luteinizing hormone in the brain, triggering the growth of new neurons from neural stem cells.""
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Pheromone signals from dominant males spark new brain cells in their female partners and could help repair injured brains, suggests a new study by a University of Calgary neuroscientist.

Sam Weiss's findings, in the July issue of the journal Nature Neuroscience, provide evidence that pheromones — subtle chemical signatures that influence mating behaviour — can control stem cells in the brain.

The study also shows that in females, two brain areas that affect memory and smell work together in developing a pheromonal bond with the desired male.

"It turns out that those two regions are also regions where new neurons are added throughout the lifetime of all mammals, including humans," said Weiss, director of the university's Hotchkiss Brain Institute.

In his research, Weiss exposed female mice to the scent of the alpha male, and found newly generated neurons in the hippocampus and olfactory bulb — the seats of memory and smell, respectively.

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Live Earth set to change world on climate

"Live Earth could attract as many as half the people on the planet - more than 3bn people - watching or listening to concerts spanning seven continents designed as a wake up call to the world on global warming.

Whereas Live Aid was based on just two centres, London and New York, Live Earth will stage concerts in New York, Sydney, Tokyo, Shanghai, Rio de Janeiro, Johannesburg, Hamburg and at the new Wembley Stadium in London.

There will be 24 hours of music beginning in Sydney and then following the sun round the globe and ending in New York."
...streamed live at
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In 1985 there was Live Aid, a rock concert phenomenon which seized the world's imagination as it turned the spotlight on famine in Africa.

Twenty years later its successor - the more political Live 8 - tried to force world leaders at the G8 conference in Scotland to act on poverty and thousands marched under the Make Poverty History banner.
But both could be dwarfed by the latest attempt to address a global audience - this time focusing on climate change - once again using rock concerts as a conduit.
Beastie Boys, Pussycat Dolls and Metallica are all to play at Live Earth in London
Beastie Boys (Top), Pussycat Dolls (Middle) and Metallica (Bottom) are all to play Live Earth London
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