Monday, April 30, 2012

Aussie Billionaire to Build Titanic II

File picture of Australian mining billionaire Clive Palmer, taken on 1 March, 2012 

Clive Palmer, one of Australia's richest men, has commissioned a Chinese state-owned company to build a 21st Century version of the Titanic.  The mining billionaire told Australian media that construction will start at the end of next year. It would be ready to set sail in 2016. The plan, he added, is for the vessel to be as similar as possible to the original Titanic in design and specifications, but with modern technology.

Mr Palmer told Australian media that he had signed a memorandum of understanding with CSC Jinling Shipyard to construct the ship. It will be every bit as luxurious as the original Titanic but of course it will have state-of-the-art 21st Century technology and the latest navigation and safety systems," he said in a statement. The announcement comes just weeks after the centenary of the sinking of the ill-fated Titanic.  The vessel, the largest luxury ship in its time, struck an iceberg on its maiden voyage from Southampton to New York. It went down on 15 April 1912, leaving more than 1,500 people dead.

"Of course it will sink if you put a hole in it,'' Mr Palmer said in response to questions from reporters on whether the Titanic replica would sink.

  The Titanic was thought to be unsinkable

The new vessel is scheduled to sail from London to New York in late 2016, if all goes as planned.
"It is going to be designed so it won't sink,'' he added. ''But, of course, if you are superstitious like you are, you never know what could happen.''

The cost of the construction is not known, a spokesman for Mr Palmer told Australian media.
The mining magnate from Queensland, who has strong business relations with China, has expanded into tourism. He owns a luxury resort on the Sunshine Coast and has plans to build a fleet of luxury liners. His plan to build the Titanic replica was announced on the same day that he revealed plans, in a separate news conference, to contest the next federal election in Queensland. He told reporters that he has expressed interest in standing for Queensland's Liberal National Party.

I wonder what the fascination is that he would go to such lengths. It seems rather obsessive but there are many Titanic obsessed people in the world. 

Sunday, April 29, 2012

British Red Cross Aid Worker Found Beheaded in Pakistan

Rescue workers and police move the body of Khalil Dale
Rescue workers and police move the body of Khalil Dale, a British doctor who was working with the Red Cross in Quetta, Pakistan.
The beheaded corpse of a British aid worker has been discovered in the Pakistani city of Quetta, almost four months after he was kidnapped. The body of Khalil Rasjed Dale was left on a road outside the city, in southern Baluchistan province, with a note attachedwhich said he had been killed because a ransom had not been paid to his captors.

Dale, who had been working for the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC), was kidnapped in January while driving near the organization's Quetta office. He was abducted by gunmen as he made his way home in a clearly-marked ICRC vehicle on 5 January. His assailants are said to have bundled him into a car about 200m from an ICRC residence. At the time, police in Quetta said Dale was abducted by unknown assailants driving a Landcruiser following a visit to a local school. He was travelling with a Pakistani doctor and a driver, who were not seized. Quetta police chief Ahsan Mahboob said the killers' note read: "This is the body of Khalil who we have slaughtered for not paying a ransom amount." Dale had been a Muslim convert for more than 30 years.

William Hague, the foreign secretary, said "tireless efforts" had been made to secure Dale's release and the British government had worked closely with the Red Cross. "I utterly condemn the kidnapping and killing of Mr Dale and send my deepest condolences to his family and loved ones as they come to terms with their tragic and distressing loss," he said.
"We are devastated," said ICRC director general Yves Daccord. "Khalil was a trusted and very experienced Red Cross staff member who significantly contributed to the humanitarian cause.
"All of us at the ICRC and at the British Red Cross share the grief and outrage of Khalil's family and friends."

Separatist militants and the Taliban are extremely active in Quetta, which is just a couple of hours' drive to the border with Afghanistan's Kandahar province, where the Taliban is battling US forces.
The ICRC has working relations with movements such as the Taliban, but its staff remain vulnerable to criminals and kidnappers.
Retired nurse Sheila Howat, a former colleague of Dale's at Dumfries and Galloway Royal Infirmary, said: "It's dreadful what has happened to him, really awful. The world has lost someone who really cared for others."

Seven Dead As Van Plunges Into Bronx Zoo

Seven people, including three children, have been killed after an out-of-control van drove off a road and plunged more than 100ft into New York's Bronx Zoo. The van had been heading south down the Bronx River Parkway when it suddenly bounced off the central section, careered across two lanes and then hit the guardrail.
Police said it flipped over the rail and then landed upside down in an area that is used by the zoo to store its monorail trains, some way from the animal enclosures. All seven people in the van were killed in the accident. They were three girls, including a 12 and 10-year-old, an 84-year-old man and three women, aged 80, 45 and 30, according to the Fire Department of New York.
They have not yet been named.

Bronx crash scene

Police have launched an investigation into the cause of the accident, which is the second time in the last year that a car has fallen off the same stretch of the Parkway. Last June, a driver heading north lost control and his vehicle hit a divider then bounced through two lanes of traffic and fell 20ft over a guardrail, landing on a pick-up truck in a car park.
Bronx borough president Ruben Diaz Jr. vowed that city agencies would be asked to look at safety issues on the highway, including the height of the guardrail. I hope you keep that promise Mr Diaz.

Saturday, April 28, 2012

Secret Service Colombia Scandal Prompts New Rules

The US Secret Service has tightened staff guidelines in an attempt to stop any repeat of the Colombia sex scandal. Agents travelling overseas will be banned from drinking on duty, visiting "disreputable establishments" and bringing foreigners into hotel rooms.

"Consider your conduct through the lens of the past several weeks," Director Mark Sullivan reportedly told staff. The agency will also hold ethics sessions for staff as it attempts to move on from the Cartagena episode. Twelve Secret Service agents and several US military officers were implicated in a night of sex and drink in the Colombian port city ahead of President Obama's visit for a regional summit earlier this month.

All 12 agency staff have now either resigned or are facing disciplinary action. The Secret Service has also said it is investigating a report that members of another advance team visited strip clubs and paid for prostitutes in El Salvador in 2011. A spokesman said on Thursday that no "credible" evidence had been found to back up the report.

The agency described the changes as "common-sense enhancements" of existing rules - "refinements of existing rules" governing employee responsibilities and conduct. Agents deployed on foreign assignments will in future receive briefings on arrival that include "off-limit zones and off-limit establishments". Drinking within 10 hours of being on duty will be banned, as will allowing foreigners into hotel rooms, with the exception of hotel staff and official counterparts. At other times only "moderate" alcohol consumption is permitted.

The 12 Secret Service agents linked to the Cartagena scandal enjoyed a night out at a well-know strip bar in the city's port area, reported to have involved large quantities of vodka. They later returned to the five-star Hotel Caribe accompanied by a clutch of Colombian women. The next morning a row over payment saw one woman fly into a rage and led to the discovery of as many as 20 women in American rooms.

The Secret Service removed the men from active duty and replaced them before President Obama arrived for the Summit of the Americas, insisting that the president's safety was never compromised.

Friday, April 27, 2012

Bin Laden's Family Deported

 The bus was covered with sheets to protect the identity  of the Bin Laden family

The house Bin Laden's family has resided in for the year since the terrorist leader's death

The bus the family was spirited away in
The three widows and children of Osama Bin Laden have been deported to Saudi Arabia from the Pakistani capital, Islamabad, officials say. It follows a year in Pakistani custody since the death of the al-Qaeda leader.

The three widows, who are believed to have 11 children, left the house in a minibus amid tight security to board a special flight to the Gulf kingdom. Bin Laden was killed by US special forces a year ago in the north-west Pakistani city of Abbottabad.

Pakistani police used sheets to obscure the view as Bin Laden's wives and children got on board a minivan at their Islamabad residence.  They were detained immediately after the pre-dawn raid in which he was killed on 2 May 2011.

His wives and two eldest children were eventually charged with staying in Pakistan illegally, and last week completed a 45-day term of imprisonment at the villa.  The widows were held at the house in the capital which was designated as a "sub-jail", and all the rest of their children stayed with them. They were also sentenced to deportation.

The Ministry of the Interior, which was responsible for the family, issued a statement saying it had "passed orders for the deportation of 14 members of OBL family in pursuance of the Court orders".
"The family was kept safe and sound in a guest house... They have been deported to the country of their choice, Saudi Arabia, today," it added.

The two oldest wives are Saudi Arabian, but the youngest - Amal Abdulfattah - is Yemeni and it is believed she will travel on to that country. It is from leaks of her interrogations with Pakistani intelligence agencies that the most insight into Bin Laden's time in Pakistan has been gained, says the BBC's Aleem Maqbool in Islamabad. The al-Qaeda leader moved from place to place for up to 10 years before finally being killed in the garrison town of Abbottabad.  But many more secrets will go untold with the Bin Laden family.

On one hand, the Pakistani authorities will be glad to close another chapter of what was an extremely embarrassing episode - on the other, they may be worried about what could be revealed by the family now about life on the run with the world's most wanted man.

Thursday, April 26, 2012

Space Mining

Artist concept of asteroid mining 

Details have been emerging of the plan by a group billionaire entrepreneurs to mine asteroids for their resources. The multi-million-dollar plan would use robotic spacecraft to mine chemical components of fuel and minerals such as platinum and gold out of the rocks. The founders include film director and explorer James Cameron as well as Google's chief executive Larry Page and its executive chairman Eric Schmidt. They even aim to create a fuel depot in space by 2020.

However, several scientists have responded with scepticism, calling the plan daring, difficult and highly expensive. They struggle to see how it could be cost-effective, even with platinum and gold worth nearly $1,600 an ounce.  An upcoming Nasa mission to return just 60g (two ounces) of material from an asteroid to Earth will cost about $1bn.

The inaugural step, to be achieved in the next 18 to 24 months, would be launching the first in a series of private telescopes that would search for asteroid targets rich in resources. The intention will be to open deep-space exploration to private industry.

James Cameron 

Within five to 10 years, however, the company expects to progress from selling observation platforms in orbit around Earth to prospecting services. It plans to tap some of the thousands of asteroids that pass relatively close to Earth and extract their raw materials.

The company, known as Planetary Resources, is also backed by space tourism pioneer Eric Anderson, X-Prize founder Peter Diamandis, Ross Perot Jr, son of the former US presidential candidate, and veteran astronaut Tom Jones. "We have a long view. We're not expecting this company to be an overnight financial home run. This is going to take time," Eric Anderson told the Reuters news agency.

The billionaires are hoping that the real financial returns, which are decades away, will come from mining asteroids for platinum group metals and rare minerals. "If you look back historically at what has caused humanity to make its largest investments in exploration and in transportation, it has been going after resources, whether it's the Europeans going after the spice routes or the American settlers looking toward the west for gold, oil, timber or land," Mr Diamandis explained.

Water from asteroids could be broken down in space to liquid oxygen and liquid hydrogen for rocket fuel. Water is very expensive to get off the ground so the plan is to take it from an asteroid to a spot in space where it can be converted into fuel.  From there, it could be shipped to Earth orbit for refueling commercial satellites or spacecraft.

"A depot within a decade seems incredible. I hope there will be someone to use it," Dr Andrew Cheng, a planetary scientist at Johns Hopkins University's Applied Physics Laboratory told the Associated Press. "And I have high hopes that commercial uses of space will become profitable beyond Earth orbit. Maybe the time has come."

Prof Jay Melosh from Purdue University said that the costs were just too high, calling space exploration "a sport that only wealthy nations, and those wishing to demonstrate their technical prowess, can afford to indulge." Eric Anderson, who co-founded the space tourism firm Space Adventures, said he was used to sceptics.
"Before we started launching people into space as private citizens, people thought that was a pie-in-the-sky idea," He said. "We're in this for decades. But it's not a charity. And we'll make money from the beginning."
These guys are pioneering a concept which would have taken decades more going through the usual channels. And one thing they do know is how to make money.

Wednesday, April 25, 2012

BP Engineer Arrested for Obstruction of Justice

NEW ORLEANS (AP) — A BP engineer intentionally deleted more than 300 text messages that said the company’s efforts to control the Gulf of Mexico oil spill were failing, and that the amount of oil leaking was far more than what the company reported, the Justice Department said Tuesday.
In the first criminal charges related to the deadly explosion on the Deepwater Horizon rig in April 2010, the Justice Department arrested Kurt Mix and charged him with two counts of obstruction of justice for allegedly destroying evidence sought by federal authorities, officials announced in a statement.
The charges came a day before a federal judge in New Orleans was to consider preliminary approval of a $7.8 billion settlement between BP and a committee of plaintiffs in a civil case. Shrimp processors have raised objections, saying the settlement does not adequately compensate them.
Having an accurate flow-rate estimate is key to determining how much in civil and criminal penalties BP and the other companies drilling the Macondo will face under the Clean Water Act.

In an emailed statement, BP said it would not comment on the case but is cooperating with the Justice Department and other investigations into the oil spill. “BP had clear policies requiring preservation of evidence in this case and has undertaken substantial and ongoing efforts to preserve evidence,” the statement said.

Mix, 50, of Katy, Texas, appeared before a judge in Houston and was released on $100,000 bail. Mix, who no longer works for BP, said very little during the hearing, answering routine questions about the charges. His attorney declined comment after the hearing. If convicted, he faces up to 20 years in prison and a fine of up to $250,000 on each count.

The engineer deleted more than 200 messages sent to a BP supervisor from his iPhone in October 2010 containing information about how much oil was spilling out — and then erased 100 more the following year after receiving numerous legal notices to preserve the information, the Justice Department said in a news release.

On the first day BP began to use the “top kill” method to plug the leaking well, Katy estimated in a text to his supervisor that 15,000 barrels of oil per day were spilling — an amount greater than what BP said the method could likely handle. The “top kill” method involved pumping heavy mud into the blown-out well head to cap it, and it was one of many unsuccessful attempts to plug the well. The well was ultimately capped July 15, 2010.

The BP-leased rig Deepwater Horizon exploded the night of April 20, 2010, killing 11 workers and setting off the nation’s worst offshore oil disaster. More than 200 million gallons of crude oil flowed out of the well off the Louisiana coast before it was stopped.

As the spill grew into weeks and months, and soiled fishing grounds, beaches and coastal marshes, independent scientists questioned the official flow rates. Academics, environmentalists and federal investigators accused the Obama administration of downplaying scientific findings and misrepresenting data as well as misconstruing the opinions of experts it solicited. A deepwater drilling moratorium was also put in place, a painful move for the industry and the Gulf states that rely on drilling for jobs and tax revenue.

Meanwhile, BP chief executive Tony Hayward was forced to step down after making a series of gaffes related to the spill. BP’s attempts to create an environmentally friendly image were crushed, and independent gas station owners with BP-branded stations lost business from upset customers.
Recently, scientists said they have found fish in the Gulf with open sores, parasitic infections and chewed-up fins — injuries they suspect are from the effects of the petroleum. The evidence is not conclusive, but it could mean that the environmental damage to the Gulf from the BP disaster is still unfolding and the picture isn’t as rosy as it might have seemed just a year ago.

Monday, April 23, 2012

Jennifer Hudson Testifies at Family Murder Trial

Jennifer Hudson. Photo: April 2012 
US Oscar-winning actress Jennifer Hudson has testified in the trial in Chicago of the man accused of shooting three members of her family in 2008.William Balfour, 30, is charged with three counts of first-degree murder. He has pleaded not guilty. Struggling to hold back tears, Ms Hudson said on the opening day of the trial that her family had not wanted her sister Julia to marry Mr Balfour.

Mr Balfour is accused of killing Ms Hudson's mother, brother and a nephew. Darnell Donerson, 57, and Jason Hudson, 29, were found shot dead in their Chicago home on 24 October. The body of seven-year-old Julian King was found days later. Mr Balfour was arrested shortly after the killings.

William Balfour. Photo: April 2012

 "None of us wanted her (Julia) to marry him," Ms Hudson told the Cook County court on Monday.
"We did not like how he treated her," she added. Ms Hudson was the first witness called to the stand after prosecutors and attorneys for William Balfour finished their opening statements.

Hundreds of potential witnesses could also be called to testify during the trial which is expected to last at least a month. If convicted, Mr Balfour faces a life sentence. The prosecution alleges that he shot the three in a jealous rage because he was upset that his estranged wife had been seeing another man.

Ms Hudson, a finalist on the 2004 series of American Idol, won an Oscar in 2007 for her supporting role in the musical Dreamgirls.

Sunday, April 22, 2012

Saturday, April 21, 2012

The Great Prostate Debate: Does Screening Save Lives?

Evidence shows that screening does more harm than good. Now what?


SLOW GROWING: Prostate cancer cells (shown in a color-enhanced scanning electron micrograph) will not cause problems if left alone in most, but not all, asymptomatic men whose tumors are found after a screening test. Image: Parviz M. Pour/Photo Researchers Inc.
In Brief
  • Studies show that use of a blood test to screen for prostate cancer does not greatly decrease the risk of death.
  • Hundreds of thousands of men have likely suffered severe side effects as a result of unnecessary treatment.
  • Yet many physicians and professional med­ical societies believe that widespread screening saves lives.
  • Screening for prostate cancer but delaying treatment in most cases may prove to be an effective com­promise.

Last fall the U.S. Preventive Services Task Force dropped a bombshell, arguing that healthy men should stop undergoing a routine blood test as a screen for prostate cancer. An analysis of the best available evidence, it argued, had shown little or no long-term benefit from the measure—called the prostate-specific antigen (PSA) test—for most men with no symptoms of the disease.
Use of the screening was not saving lives. In fact, it was needlessly exposing hundreds of thousands of men who were tested and found to have prostate cancer to such common complications as impotence and urinary incontinence (from surgical removal of the prostate) and rectal bleeding (from radiation treatment). Indeed, the task force estimated that more than one million men have been treated because of PSA testing who otherwise would not have been since 1985. At least 5,000 of them died soon after treatment, and another 300,000 men suffered impotence or incontinence, or both. Instead of praise for sparing more men from suffering similar fates, however, the task force’s announcement quickly drew outrage and counterarguments from several professional medical groups, including the American Urological Association.

The controversy is not new. Experts have long debated the value of the PSA test, but until now the weight of opinion in the U.S. fell on the side of doing the test.  Most people outside the medical community do not realize how flimsy the evidence has been in favor of the screening tests. (Make no mistake, the PSA test still provides valuable information after a prostate cancer has already been diagnosed, however.)

Friday, April 20, 2012

Polar Bear Cubs: 'NEWS'....By Jenny

This article is an oral composition given by Jenny, an eight year old and my favorite crusader for the endangered polar bear. She is also very aware of the role climate change plays in the survival of the bears and other endangered species. Each month Jenny gives a composition accompanied by images and videos to her class. She calls her group Polar Cubs and is assisted in her efforts by her sister Sha and her brothers Jonny and Man. Often parents sit in to listen also. She is making an impact on her community.
Are you as aware or as passionate as this little girl about endangered species and about saving our planet? Very well done Jenny. I am so proud to be your Aunt Jeannie.                                

Good afternoon Polar Cubs and all grownup visitors .
First I want to thank my Aunt Jeannie in Canada she send mama a lot of stuff about the polar bears , now she send me some to share with you , Aunt Jeannie writes Nanook letters for him daddy say Nanook can not write because he has paws .Now let get down to the business at hand .We will watch some videos and a short movie after I share with you some things .Ontario has the largest population of polar bears that is where my Aunt Jeannie live , there is about 20,000 bears left so you see why we need to get busy .Climate change is the greatest threat to polar bears , because the sea ice is melting very fast and the polar bears depend on the ice for hunting .Polar bears needs 5 pounds of blubber a day to survive , their favorite thing to eat is seals they hunt on the sea from November to the summer months in Ontario where Aunt Jeannie live. Aunt Jeannie told mama some very mean people kill the baby seals for their skins and leave them there . Why do they do that , meanness , mama said , I giggle because mama was so mad she said everything on earth had a reason to be here , we had no reason to kill more than we need to eat .
Summer , polar bears eat kelp, grasses and berries , they slow down their metabolism and live on their fat stores they remain inactive 80% of time to save energy like people do at home turn the lights off when not in use .
Mating occurs in April and May , I asked daddy what was mating and he said it was when the daddy polar bear put the baby polar bear in the mama bear oven she bakes it and when the baby is done the mama bear pops the baby bear out, mama look at him and roll her eyes and said Gil please can you do better than that daddy said baby I do not know what the mama bear do , I am a guy bear. I asked mama and she said just go with what your daddy said , my daddy was laughing so hard , daddy is so funny .
Female polar bears delay the implantation of the fetus until she gains enough weight then she enters a maternity den in October . Cubs are born after 2 months . Polar bears mostly have twins at birth a cub weighs about 1 pound their eyes is closed at birth they have a fine layer of hair on their bodies . Cubs feed on their mother milk the mother weans the cubs at 1 year of age they leave the den in February the cubs stay with their mama until they are 2 years old and learn how to survive in the harsh artic .
One more thing before we watch the videos and movie , junior cubs tell your parents and grandparents, they can get books and videos and some movies from the library. You can picked a species of your own cause we can join together mama have a meeting each Friday you can pick up a paper on your way out , take it home give it to your parents and tell them we need their help because we are only kids and need the grownups help so we will have a a change to try and fix it .My poppa says everything is connected in one way or another . If there is any questions after the meeting please ask my poppa knows everything .
Now I want to thank Aunt Jeannie
Jenny your Favorite Crusader , Kisses & Hugs

Thursday, April 19, 2012

Breivik 'Hoped Attacks Would Kill Hundreds'

Norway's confessed mass killer Anders Behring Breivik says he intended hundreds should die in his attack on a Labour Party camp last year. Breivik, 33, told his trial he planned to behead former Prime Minister Gro Harlem Brundtland during the rampage, and post a video of it on the internet. He also hoped his car bomb in Oslo would kill the entire government.  The attacks killed 77 people. Breivik, 33, disputes a report by a psychiatrist describing him as insane. He told the court he used computer games to prepare himself.

Arriving in court on day four of his trial, Breivik made no far-right salute, unlike previous days. His lawyers had asked him not to salute. He says he acted to protect Norway and Europe from multiculturalism.  Steve Rosenberg, at the trial in Oslo, says Breivik was behaving differently from his irritable performance on Wednesday: he was answering most of the questions put to him and seemed calm.

Breivik's waking thought on the day of the attacks - 22 July 2011 - was "today is the day I will die", he told the court in testimony setting out details of his plans and preparation. First he set off a car bomb outside a government building in Oslo, killing eight people; he claimed he had intended to kill the entire government. He had apparently wanted to instigate three such bombings, but settled for one when he discovered how difficult it was to make the bombs.

Instead he made his way to Utoeya island and shot dead 69 people - many of them teenagers - at a summer camp being held there. Breivik claimed he had wanted to kill all 600 or so people on the island, using the surrounding lake as a "weapon of mass destruction" in which they would drown.
His main target had been Mrs Brundtland, whom he planned to capture and behead - and post a video of this on the internet; Breivik said he had got the idea from al-Qaeda. However the former prime minister had left the island before Breivik arrived.

"I stand for Utoeya and what I did, and would still do it again," he said - as survivors and victims' relatives cried quietly, shaking their heads in disgust at some of the harshest words Breivik has uttered in the trial, AFP news agency reported. However he insisted he was not a "child murderer". "I believe that all political activists who choose to fight for multiculturalism are legitimate targets. And 44 out of the 69 people [killed on the island] had leadership positions," he told the court.
"Does this also apply to the 14- and 15-year-olds?" the prosecution asked. "It is not desirable to focus on people under the age of 18 but there was no other desirable political target on that day," Breivik replied.

Asked what it was like to carry out such a rampage, Breivik responded that it was an "extremely difficult" thing to do. "It goes against human nature in many ways," he said. Breivik has admitted the killings but denies criminal responsibility, saying he acted to protect Norway and Europe from multiculturalism.  "Militant nationalists in Europe are divided," he told the court on Thursday.
"Half of them think we should attack Muslims and minorities, the other half that we should attack elites, those responsible, and hold them accountable."

In other points, Breivik said:

  •  he was 15 when he became sceptical of Muslim immigration, and 18 or 19 when he first        thought   about committing violence
  • he named his manifesto 2083 to represent the 400th anniversary of the Battle of Vienna, when the Ottoman Turks were defeated
  • he named the guns he used in the Utoeya shootings after characters in Norse mythology
  • he joined the Masons as soon as he was old enough because they were a "Christian organisation that protects its members"
  • he took a year's "sabbatical" from business activities in 2006 because he was planning a "suicide action"
  • he spent the year playing the online role-play game, World of Warcraft, for up to 16 hours a day.

The court heard that Breivik formed a company in the Bahamas as a front for money-laundering funds intended for nationalist activities.  The court is seeking to determine whether Breivik is sane. If so, he will be jailed for at least 21 years, although that sentence can be extended.  If he is deemed insane, he will be committed to a psychiatric institution.

Monday, April 16, 2012


Titanic Memorial Continues....The Survivors

The Titanic passenger list included some of the most prestigious figures of its time. The RMS Titanic first-class passenger list was a who’s who of the time and many businessmen, industrialists, and manufacturers of the Titanic were aboard during that fateful day of April 14, 1912. The majority of first class passengers were well known in their countries of origin and some were even known worldwide. Tickets for the Titanic capped out at $4,350 (which is more than $96,000 today)
A photo of Titanic survivors paddling to shore

Titanic Survivors

Titanic survivor Charles Joughin
Do you know who Charles Joughin is? Well you should. His story of surviving the Titanic is most extraordinary. After fortifying his body with two bottles of whiskey, Joughin rode the Titanic into the ocean similar to Jack and Rose in the movie and simply stepped off the bow without even getting his head wet, then spent 3 hours in the frigid waters before being rescued. He was one of only a few survivors to weather the icy wet conditions. Many attribute this to the whiskey.

Miss Elizabeth Gladys Dean, also known as Millvina, was only a few months old when she, her parents, and a brother, boarded the Titanic at Southampton. They were immigrating to Kansas where her father had high hopes of opening a tobacconist shop. Her mother, brother, and Millvina were the only ones of her family to survive and be rescued. Millvina was the last remaining survivor of the Titanic, and passed away on May 31, 2009 at the age of 97.

Violet Jessop, an ocean liner stewardess and a nurse was one of the survivors of the Titanic. She is also well known for surviving the Britannic in 1916, the sister ship to Titanic. Violet also survived an earlier fiasco in 1911, when she was aboard the RMS Olympic, when it collided with another ship, HMS Hawke. She passed away on May 5, 1971 of congestive heart failure.

Lillian Asplund was the last Swedish/American survivor of the sinking of the Titanic. She was five years old at the time and she had actual memories of the sinking. Her family were third class passengers when they boarded the Titanic on April 10, 1912. She remembered that the Titanic was very big and it had been freshly painted. She reportedly said that she did not like the smell of the paint. She passed away on May 6, 2006, at the age of 99.

Barbara Joyce Dainton West was the second to last remaining living survivor of the sinking of the Titanic. Her parents, Barbara, a sister, and one on the way, were immigrating to the United States to begin a new life when the Titanic hit the iceberg. Barbara was only ten months old when she was on board the ship. Her mother, sister, and Barbara were the only ones to survive in the family. Her father’s body was never identified, if it had been found. Barbara died October 16, 2007 at the age of ninety-six years old.

Of the total 2,223 passengers aboard the Titanic only 706 survived the disaster. Most of those lost succumbed to hypothermia due to the freezing water of the Atlantic. Temperatures of the surrounding water during the Titanic sinking were around 28 degrees Fahrenheit. Humans exposed to this freezing water temperature would last only about 15 minutes before death. First class passengers and women were more likely to survive then men, second, and third class passengers. When the lifeboats were deployed, there was a women and children first policy that created these staggering survival rates. Of male passengers in second class, 92 percent perished. Less than half of third-class passengers survived. Another disparity is that a greater percentage of British passengers died than American passengers; some sources claim this could be because many Britons of the time were too polite and queued, rather than to force and elbow their way onto the lifeboats as some Americans did. The captain, Edward John Smith, shouted out: “Be British, boys, be British!” as the ocean liner went down, according to witnesses. It also turns out that the legend of the band continuing to play as the Titanic sank is true.

Thanx to Titanic Universe

When Will Time End?

It now seems that our entire universe is living on borrowed time. How long it can survive depends on whether Stephen Hawking's theory checks out. Special thanks to Ivan Bridgewater for use of footage.
Time is flying by on this busy, crowded planet... as life changes and evolves from second to second. And yet the arc of human lifespan is getting longer: 65 years is the global average ... way up from just 20 in the Stone Age.

Modern science, however, provides a humbling perspective. Our lives... indeed the life span of the human species... is just a blip compared to the age of the universe, at 13.7 billion years and counting.  It now seems that our entire universe is living on borrowed time... And that even it may be just a blip within the grand sweep of deep time.

Scholars debate whether time is a property of the universe... or a human invention. What's certain is that we use the ticking of all kinds of clocks... from the decay of radioactive elements to the oscillation of light beams... to chart and measure a changing universe... to understand how it works and what drives it.

Our own major reference for the passage of time is the 24-hour day... the time it takes the Earth to rotate once. Well, it's actually 23 hours, 56 minutes and 4.1 seconds... approximately... if you're judging by the stars, not the sun.  Earth acquired its spin during its birth, from the bombardment of rocks and dust that formed it.  But it's gradually losing that rotation to drag from the moon's gravity.

That's why, in the time of the dinosaurs, a year was 370 days... and why we have to add a leap second to our clocks about every 18 months. In a few hundred million years, we'll gain a whole hour. The day-night cycle is so reliable that it has come to regulate our internal chemistry. The fading rays of the sun, picked up by the retinas in our eyes, set our so-called "circadian rhythms" in motion.

That's when our brains begin to secrete melatonin, a hormone that tells our bodies to get ready for sleep. Long ago, this may have been an adaptation to keep us quiet and clear of night-time predators. Finally, in the light of morning, the flow of melatonin stops. Our blood pressure spikes... body temperature and heart rate rise as we move out into the world. Over the days ... and years... we march to the beat of our biology.

But with our minds, we have learned to follow time's trail out to longer and longer intervals. Philosophers have wondered... does time move like an arrow... with all the phenomena in nature pushing toward an inevitable end? Or perhaps, it moves in cycles that endlessly repeat... and even perhaps restores what is there?

We know from precise measurements that the Earth goes around the sun once every 365.256366 days. As the Earth orbits, with each hemisphere tilting toward and away from its parent star, the seasons bring on cycles of life... birth and reproduction... decay and death.  Only about one billionth of the Sun's energy actually hits the Earth. And much of that gets absorbed by dust and water vapor in the upper atmosphere. What does make it down to the surface sets many planetary processes in motion.

You can see it in the annual melting and refreezing of ice at the poles... the ebb and flow of heat in the tropical oceans...The seasonal cycles of chlorophyll production in plants on land and at sea... and in the biosphere at large. These cycles are embedded in still longer Earth cycles.  Ocean currents, for example, are thought to make complete cycles ranging from four to around sixteen centuries.

 Moving out in time, as the Earth rotates on its axis, it completes a series of interlocking wobbles called Milankovic cycles every 23 to 41,000 years. They have been blamed for the onset of ice ages about every one hundred thousand years.
Then there's the carbon cycle. It begins with rainfall over the oceans and coastal waves that pull carbon dioxide into the sea.

Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart,Violin Concerto No. 5 in A, 2nd Movement..

Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart,Violin Concerto No. 5 in A, 2nd Movement..

Saturday, April 14, 2012


Sand Sculpture


Look at the incredible detail and look at the frustrated wife. Just like home, huh??

Monolith on Mars

An image of what appears to be a mysterious rocky monument on Mars has excited space junkies around the world. The 'monolith', was snapped from 165miles away using a special high resolution camera on board the Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter.
After being published on the website Lunar Explorer Italia, it set tongues wagging with space buffs questioning whether there was once life on the Red Planet.

rectangular boulder
How the experts see it: The original HiRISE satellite image supplied by the University of Arizona showing a close up of what appears to be a 'monolith' on Mars

How the science junkies saw it: Three images of the 'monolith' (close, closer, closest) as they appeared on the website Lunar Explorer Italia

But scientists at the University of Arizona, who captured the original image, reckon it's just an unremarkable boulder, which could measure up to five metres across.
Yisrael Spinoza, a spokesman for the HiRISE department of the university's Lunar and Planetary Laboratory, gave out the original image so readers can make up their own minds
He said: 'It would be unwise to refer to it as a "monolith" or "structure" because that implies something artificial, like it was put there by someone.

From further away: The circled area show where the rectangular feature was discovered

'In reality it's more likely that this boulder has been created by breaking away from the bedrock to create a rectangular-shaped feature.'
The image seems to resemble the black monolith that appears during key moments of man's evolution in the Stanley Kubrick film 2001: A Space Odyssey.

The original image, taken last July, was published again this week on the University of Arizona's HiRISE website on the 'spotlight' page which seems to have led to the renewed interest.
'Is it possible that there used to be an ancient civilization on Mars?' former Montreal radio presenter David Tyler asked on his blog.
'Is it possible that NASA already knows the answer? Could this be the final straw for disclosure?'
The black monolith appears at turning points of the film 2001: A Space Odyssey directed by Stanley Kubrick

But speaking about the satellite picture scientist Alfred McEwen, the principal investigator from the University of Arizona's HiRISE department, said: 'There are lots of rectangular boulders on Earth and Mars and other planets.

'Layering from rock deposition combined with tectonic fractures creates right-angle planes of weakness such that rectangular blocks tend to weather out and separate from the bedrock.'
Fuel was added to the flames after Buzz Aldrin, the second man to walk on the Moon, alluded to a similar monolith detected on Mars' moon Phobos.
Speaking on a U.S. cable television channel last week he said: "We should visit the moons of Mars. There's a monolith there - a very unusual structure on this little potato shaped object that goes around Mars once every seven hours."
'When people find out about that they are going to say, "Who put that there? Who put that there?" Well the universe put it there, or if you choose God put it there.'

In 2007 the Canadian Space Agency funded a study for an unmanned mission to Phobos known as PRIME (Phobos Reconnaissance and International Mars Exploration). The building-sized monolith is the main proposed landing site but not because scientists suspect UFO activity. They believe the object is a boulder exposed relatively recently in an otherwise featureless area of the asteroid-like moon.
PRIME investigator Dr Alan Hildebrand said it could answer questions about the moon's composition and history.
'If we can get to that object, we likely don’t need to go anywhere else,' he told his science team.

Friday, April 13, 2012

Civil War museum Studying Severed Arm

This undated photo provided by the National Museum of Civil War Medicine shows a human arm. The National Museum of Civil War Medicine in Frederick, Md., is trying to determine whether this preserved human forearm, photographed in January 2012, is a relic of the Civil War Battle of Antietam, fought near Sharpsburg, Md., in September 1862. The arm was donated anonymously to the museum after having been displayed for decades at a private museum in Sharpsburg. A local farmer reportedly found it shortly after the battle and preserved it in brine. (AP Photo/Courtesy National Museum of Civil War Medicine)

Associated Press
 Long after the guns fell silent at Antietam, the earth yielded up gruesome reminders of the bloodiest day of the American Civil War: bodies, bones, buttons and entire severed limbs — one of which is now the focus of intense study at the National Museum of Civil War Medicine. A Sharpsburg-area farmer is said to have found the human forearm while plowing a field two weeks after the 1862 battle.
Officials at the museum in Frederick, Md., are trying to learn more about the limb in hopes of verifying that it's a relic of the Battle of Antietam and exhibiting the well-preserved specimen during the battle's 150th anniversary in September.

The muddy-looking right forearm, with skin and hand attached, was donated anonymously to the museum earlier this year, said Executive Director George Wunderlich. It had been displayed for several decades at a private museum in Sharpsburg in a glass-topped, pine case with a placard reading, "Human arm found on the Antietam Battlefield." Though there is little hope of identifying the young man who lost it, Wunderlich said forensic experts may be able to discern his nationality and whether the arm was, as Wunderlich suspects, torn from his body by a bullet or artillery round.

"Being able to put the story of this unknown person before this country is very important to us," Wunderlich said. "His remains will tell a story that will relate us back to his sacrifice. This was what they gave for what they believed. If done properly, it's a very poignant story." The unidentified farmer who found the limb put it in a barrel of brine, according to Thomas McGrath's 1997 book, "Maryland September: True Stories from the Antietam Campaign." The farmer reportedly gave it to a Boonsboro physician, who is said to have more permanently preserved it with embalming fluid.

The arm eventually ended up in a private museum that was sold in the 1960s to John G. Ray Jr. After Ray died in 2001, his widow had the museum's contents sold at an auction, according to battlefield historian Ted Alexander. Alexander grew up nearby and remembers seeing the arm on display.
"It was quite an attraction," he said. "It was macabre and something to see as kid."

The arm's owner was probably a small man less than 20 years old, said William Gardner, a former Marshall University forensic medicine instructor who examined it in March. Since the elbow joint is undamaged, with no surgical saw marks, the arm was likely removed somewhere between the shoulder and elbow, he said. The forearm skin and tendons appear to have been violently twisted. The battlefield's history and geography offer clues about how a solitary arm could end up buried in a farm field. "That entire battle took place in people's fields, their yards," Gardner said.

The pivotal clash on Sept. 17, 1862, left more than 23,000 soldiers dead, wounded or missing in the war's bloodiest one-day battle. Historians say some were blown to bits by the furious gunfire. Many were buried were they fell, their shallow graves crudely marked for their eventual removal to cemeteries. Some remains were never retrieved. In 2009, a battlefield visitor found bone fragments and uniform buttons of an unknown soldier from New York state. But it's rare to find bones still covered with skin. "It is really an impressive piece," Gardner said.

Museum curator Lori Eggleston said she's keeping the arm dry and handling it as little as possible on the advice of experts at the Mutter Museum, run by the College of Physicians of Philadelphia. Wunderlich said he hopes to have a Smithsonian Institution forensic anthropologist examine the arm for clues about the owner's diet and origin. Battlefield Superintendent Susan Trail said the arm can't be displayed at the Antietam visitor center because the National Park Service generally forbids displaying human remains. But she said the medical museum could display it at the Pry House, a field hospital site that the museum runs on the battlefield.
"I'm sure the museum will do a very nice job with what they do with it," Trail said. "When you think about it, it's pretty awful what happened here — and you just multiply it many, many times over."

Incredible Find in 200 Year Old Book

Verbatim from the Huffington Post...Thanx

The perks of being a librarian grow every day. You are surrounded by books, get to shush people when they get rowdy, and you are in the perfect position to find something of historical value. Brown University library preservationist Marie Malchodi was recently flipping through "The Modern Practice of Physics" by Robert Thomas when she found a piece of paper with a familiar signature. It turned out to be a rare print made by silversmith and American patriot Paul Revere.
The print depicts Jesus and John the Baptist in the Jordan River, with Revere's name visible at the bottom. Only five copies were made, and the other four are currently being preserved at institutions across the nation, from the American Antiquarian Society in Massachusetts to private collections. According to book "Paul Revere's Engravings" this particular print is "one of the scarcest of the plates signed by Revere." Revere's reasons for making this print remain unknown.

The physics book in which the print was uncovered belonged to Solomon Drowne, a member of the Brown class of 1773, according to the university. It is very possible that Drowne and Revere were acquaintances. “Given the time period, these people could have encountered one another at one time or another. Drowne was involved in the Revolution, as were most people of a certain standing," Malchodi told Courtney Coelho at the Brown University Library.

Thursday, April 12, 2012

George Zimmerman Appears in Court

George Zimmerman, the Florida neighbourhood watchman accused of the death of
unarmed black teenager Trayvon Martin, has appeared in court. During the brief hearing, the 29th of May was set for a formal reading of the charges and a bail hearing.

Mr Zimmerman, 28, who turned himself in on Wednesday to face a charge of second-degree murder, stood up straight and serious, wearing a grey prison jumpsuit. The 26th of February killing of the 17-year-old has divided the US. Mr Zimmerman has spent his first night in jail 45 days after shooting the teenager in a quiet gated community in the Orlando suburb of Sanford.

Mr Zimmerman's lawyer, Mark O'Mara, did not seek bail for his client during the brief hearing, as expected. He told reporters outside the court afterwards he had decided not to ask for a bond because "it might only arouse the fervour" around the case. The attorney said earlier that his client would plead not guilty.

If convicted, he could face life in prison.  Sybrina Fulton, Trayvon Martin's mother, told NBC's Today show that she did not think Mr Zimmerman had intended to kill her son. "I believe it was an accident," she said on Thursday. "I believe that it just got out of control and he couldn't turn the clock back," she said, joined by Trayvon's father and their lawyer Benjamin Crump. When asked what she would say to Mr Zimmerman if she could meet him face to face, Ms Fulton said she understood his family was hurting but that losing a teenage son was "very difficult to live with day in and day out".
"I'm sure his parents can pick up the phone and call him," she said, "but we can't pick up the phone and call Trayvon Martin anymore."
In a later interview with the Associated Press, Ms Fulton said she meant the meeting between her son and Mr Zimmerman was the accident. "That was the accident," she said. "Not the actual act of him shooting him. That was murder... They were never supposed to meet."

Legal experts say that prosecutors must prove the shooting was rooted in hatred or ill will, while the defence, to prevent the case from even going to trial, have to prove by a relatively lower legal standard that its client acted in self-defence. Mr Zimmerman's attorney said: "He is concerned about getting a fair trial and a fair presentation. He is a client who has a lot of hatred focused on him."

The neighbourhood watchman told police he opened fire after the teenager attacked him, breaking his nose and banging his head against the pavement. But those who were pressing for Mr Zimmerman's arrest suggested the teenager was shot because of his race.  Florida special prosecutor Angela Corey announced on Wednesday that charges would be pressed, telling reporters: "We did not come to this decision lightly. Let me emphasize that we do not prosecute by public pressure or petition."

The move followed a nationwide campaign of demonstrations demanding Mr Zimmerman's arrest, led by the dead teenager's parents and prominent civil rights activists. The debate went all the way to the White House when President Barack Obama said last month: "If I had a son, he'd look like Trayvon."

The case highlights Florida's controversial "stand your ground" law, which grants individuals leeway to use deadly force if they feel seriously under threat. Trayvon Martin was walking home from a local shop carrying a bag of sweets and a can of iced tea when he was approached by Mr Zimmerman.
The neighbourhood watch volunteer had told a police dispatcher he thought Martin, who was wearing a hooded sweatshirt, looked suspicious. According to 911 emergency calls released afterwards, the dispatcher advised Mr Zimmerman not to go after the young man. But minutes later a confrontation ensued, leading to the fatal shooting.

The case has raised tensions around Sanford, where bullets were fired into an unoccupied police car on Tuesday not far from where the teenager died.

Key dates in the Martin case

  • 26 February: Trayvon Martin is fatally shot and police do not arrest the shooter, George Zimmerman
  • 16 March: Recordings of 911 calls made before the shooting are released to Martin's parents, they demand for Mr Zimmerman's arrest
  • 22 March: Sanford Police Chief Bill Lee "temporarily" steps down and Seminole County State Attorney Norman Wolfinger stands aside from the investigation amid mounting calls for the prosecution of Mr Zimmerman
  • 23 March:  President Obama identifies with the Martin family and says if he had a son he would have looked like Trayvon Martin
  • 10 April: Mr Zimmerman's lawyers withdraw as his counsel and say they lost contact with him two days earlier
  • 11 April: George Zimmerman taken into custody and charged with second-degree murder