Friday, August 31, 2012

Deadly Yosemite Virus.... Warning to 10,000 US Campers

Yosemite tent cabins undated fule picture

The warning applies to visitors who stayed in the cabins at Curry Village from mid-June onward

Thousands of people could be at risk from a deadly virus in California's Yosemite National Park that has already claimed two lives, officials say. Four other cases of Hantavirus, a rare lung disease, have been reported.

The park said it is getting about 1,000 calls per day from frightened visitors on its Hantavirus hotline.
There is no known cure for the virus, spread by infected rodent droppings. Symptoms can take up to six weeks and one third of cases are fatal.

The virus is carried in rodent faeces, urine and saliva. When it dries out and mixes with dust, it can be inhaled by humans, especially in small, stuffy spaces. The disease can also spread if people touch or eat contaminated substances, or are bitten by an infected animal. The first death was reported earlier this month - one of those who died was a 37-year-old man from the San Francisco Bay area.

 The outbreak of the virus at Yosemite is thought to have been caused by mice nesting in the insulation of tents at a campsite in the Curry Village area of the reserve. About 10,000 visitors stayed at the campsite between June and August and could be at risk of contracting the virus, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) said.

Visitor takes a picture at Yosemite National Park, California 20 July 2011
 Yosemite attracts millions of visitors a year

The CDC added that they were looking into suspected cases of the disease in "multiple health jurisdictions". They also urged doctors to report diagnosed cases of Hantavirus to state health authorities.  The park has contacted about 3,000 groups of visitors warning them to seek medical advice if they experience flu-like symptoms, including headache, fever, shortness of breath, muscle ache and cough. Severe cases can lead to extreme breathing difficulty and death.

Earlier this week, park officials closed all 91 "signature" cabins after finding deer mice, which carry the virus, nesting between the double walls of the luxury tents. But they added that the outbreak of the virus had not led to a wave of cancellations.
"Right now it's normal numbers for Friday," Yosemite spokeswoman Kari Cobb said.
"There have been cancellations, but it would be grossly overstated to say they're cancelling en masse. There's quite a number of people out there still.  It's still summer and a holiday weekend. It's still the summer crowds," she said.

Nearly four million people visit Yosemite National Park annually and about 70% of them visit Yosemite Valley, where Curry Village is located.  The park has seen two other cases of the hantavirus in a more remote area in 2000 and 2010, but this year's deaths were the first.

Three dead in New Jersey supermarket shooting

Middlesex County prosecutor Bruce Kaplan is seen through two broken windows at a Pathmark grocery store in Old Bridge, New Jersey 31 August 2012 

A supermarket employee carried out a pre-dawn shooting at the New Jersey supermarket where his colleagues were working, killing two, officials say. The gunman left the Pathmark store in Old Bridge at 03:30 EST and returned half an hour later with with a handgun and an AK-47 assault rifle.

A local prosecutor said the gunman fired at the first people he saw .An 18-year-old woman and 24-year-old man were killed before the gunman ended the rampage by shooting himself. There were at least 12 people in the store in Old Bridge, a suburb about 25 miles (40km) from New York.

 People were stocking shelves before the grocery store  opened, and many of those inside hid as the shooting began. At least 16 rounds were fired, Mr Kaplan said, some breaking the front windows.
The prosecutor said the motive was still under investigation. Old Bridge Mayor Owen Henry told the New Jersey Star-Ledger newspaper that the gunman was a former US marine.
"This is the worst phone call a mayor can receive," he said. "You can prepare for these things but you can't prevent them."

Police evacuated the shop after the shooting and several of the employees were taken across the road to a restaurant. The shooting is the latest in a series of  shooting incidents in the US. Earlier this month a man opened fire at a Sikh temple in the state of Wisconsin, killing six people before police shot him in the abdomen. The gunman then killed himself, the FBI concluded. Weeks earlier, another gunman killed 12 people during a screening of the new Batman film at a theater in Aurora, Colorado.

To those who wonder whether the latest in a string of summer shootings across America will result in stricter controls on guns, the answer is, basically, no.  Opinion polls, by and large, do not suggest that most Americans want to restrict what some regard as their constitutional right. The rights of gun owners still have an extraordinarily effective voice in Washington, in the shape of the National Rifle Association, which has successfully led resistance to stricter controls.
The NRA's president, David Keene, hailed the Republican party's latest position on guns, adopted at its convention in Tampa, as "perhaps the most gun-friendly platform that any party had ever adopted".
The platform opposes any legislation that would limit ammunition capacity.

Is that really the way to discourage mass shootings?

Marco Rubio..Attacks Obama in 'Divide and Conquer ' Speech

Florida Senator Marco Rubio has attacked President Barack Obama in a speech at the Republican convention in Tampa.

Sen Rubio said Mr Obama had pit Americans against each other by telling them "that they're worse off because others are better off".

"Hope and change has become divide and conquer," he added.

Sen Rubio was introducing Mitt Romney as he formally accepted the party's nomination to challenge President Obama for the White House.

Harvard University Probes Mass exam 'Cheating'

Up to 125 students in one undergraduate course are suspected of sharing answers or plagiarizing.
Possible cheating was found in about half of exam papers handed in by the class, which has at least 250 students. If confirmed, the scandal would be the biggest to hit the "Ivy League" of top US universities in recent memory.

Suspicions were first aroused when a teaching assistant noticed several problems with the exam papers, including long passages of identical text in different students' answers, the Associated Press reports. The university has not named the course or class in question. Possible punishments for students found to have cheated range from a first-offence warning to being excluded from the university for a year, according to the agency.

"These allegations, if proven, represent totally unacceptable behaviour that betrays the trust upon which intellectual inquiry at Harvard depends," the university's president, Drew Faust, said.
Jay Harris, the dean of undergraduate education, stressed there was no evidence of widespread cheating at Harvard.
"The facts that are before us are that we have a problem in this one course," Mr Harris told AP.
"Looking at the students we have and the work that they do, I would be loath to say this is something that represents Harvard students generally."

Food Price Jump Will Impact Poor, World Bank Warns

Damaged corn in a field in Oakland City, Indiana

Global food prices have leapt by 10% in the month of July, raising fears of soaring prices for the planet's poorest, the World Bank has warned. The bank said that a US heatwave and drought in parts of Eastern Europe were partly to blame for the rising costs.

The price of key grains such as corn, wheat and soybean saw the most dramatic increases, described by the World Bank president as "historic". The bank warned countries importing grains will be particularly vulnerable. From June to July this year, corn and wheat prices each rose by 25% while soybean prices increased by 17%, the World Bank said. Only rice prices decreased - by 4%.

In the United States, the most severe, widespread drought in half a century has wreaked havoc on the corn and soybean crops while in Russia, Ukraine and Kazakhstan, wheat crops have been badly damaged. The World Bank said that the use of corn to produce ethanol biofuel - which represents 40% of US corn production - was also a key factor in the sharp rise in the US maize price.

Overall, the World Bank's Food Price Index - which tracks the price of internationally traded food commodities - was six percent higher than in July of last year, and one percent over its previous peak, in February 2011. The organization is urging governments to bolster programmes to protect their most vulnerable communities from the increase in the cost of food.

"We cannot allow these historic price hikes to turn into a lifetime of perils as families take their children out of school and eat less nutritious food to compensate for the high prices," World Bank President Jim Yong Kim said.
He said countries in North and Sub-Saharan Africa and the Middle East were among those most exposed to such price increases because much of their food was imported and food bills make up a large proportion of average household spending.

Already, the bank said, maize prices had increased by 113% over the past quarter in Mozambique, while sorghum had risen 220% in South Sudan. Although the bank said that it did not foresee the kind of price increases which led to riots in many countries in 2008 there were, it said, other potential risks which could push grain prices higher. These included exporters pursuing panic policies, a severe El Nino, disappointing Southern hemisphere crops and strong increases in energy prices.

The G20 group of leading economies has said it will not take any decision on joint action until after the US agriculture department's September estimate of this year's harvest. But aid charity Oxfam said it was not acceptable for governments to delay acting on food prices until the situation had deteriorated further.
"This 'wait and see' attitude is unacceptable," Colin Roche said.

"Oxfam is already seeing the devastating impact of food price volatility in developing countries that rely on food imports."

Wednesday, August 29, 2012

Dear Maxy,

my 19-year-old niece just confided in me that she had sex with a young man kind of randomly .

The affair is over , and I'm so glad she felt she could talk to me about it .

We talked candidly about how exciting the experience was and also how dangerous ... for health , emotional and developmental reasons .

She gets it . She also said she had already told her mother .

I'm wondering if I should bring it up to her mother , too . Or is it better to not stir the pot but remain available to my niece to talk about her life ?

Stir or Not to Stir

Dear Stir or Not to Stir ,

I have learned from firsthand experience that children and young people often feel more comfortable talking about intimacies with adults who are not their parents .

That's why grandparents and close family friends are important .

I don't think you need to call your niece's mother to report what you learned .

Rather, you can let her know that you are developing a great rapport with her daughter and that you intend to maintain that closeness while your niece is in school .


Dear Maxy,

My husband and I are the parents of a 15-year-old boy ."Will" is a good student . He has been in a friendly relationship with a 15-year-old girl , and it's become serious . They have had sex on two different occasions , and Will used a condom both times .

There was a brief pregnancy scare , and the girl told her parents about her predicament . Now her father wants us to pay for her birth control pills . I don't know what to say about this . I don't know what type of insurance they have . And I think putting her on the pill is saying , "Great , have sex."

Who knows whether she will have other than my son . Is he responsible for her birth control pills ? What should I do ?

Worried Mom

Dear Worried Mom,

It's a good sign that your sons feels comfortable discussing his sex life with you , but it is unfair to believe that a girl on birth control pills is going to be more promiscous than a boy using condoms . And while I'm not crazy crazy about 15-year-olds having sex , once they start , they aren't likely to stop .

You should be relieved that both kids are being responsible about using protection to prevent not only pregnenacy , but also sexually transmitted diseases. That said , you are not obligated to pay for his girlfriend's choice of birth control . He should continue to use condoms . Her body belongs to her .


Dear Maxy,

I am about to be in an awkward situation . I was recently engaged in a pretty intense process to see if I would be hired for a job . I worked a lot with the human-resources director , and we grew to be friendly . Then , when I didn't get the job , she sort of disappeared . Next week I am going to an event where I'm sure she will be present . I'm wondering , how should I react to her ? There won't be that many people there , so I don't think I can advoid her . But I'm not sure what to say , either .


Dear Unsure ,

First , you have to shore up your confidence . You didn't get the job , which may make you feel vulnerable or unsteady . That's natural.

What you can do is literally count your blessings . Write down what you know to be good and great about yourself , personally and professionally . Remember the good qualities that made you a viable candidate for the job . Recall positive interactions that you had with the human-resources director . Then remind yourself of the nature of the event you will be attending .

When you go to the event and see the HR director , walk right up to her and say hello . Ask how she is doing , and listen to her response . You can offer something about yourself if you like . Or you can say "good to see you" and keep moving .

By been pro-active and seeking her out , you will show that you are confident and strong . Hold that intention , and the jitters should subside .


Teen Captive For Two Years ...Escapes

A teen girl reported missing more than two years ago told police she escaped a home in southwestern Illinois where she had been held captive and repeatedly sexually assaulted.Authorities in Washington Park, a village next to East St. Louis, raided the house Thursday afternoon and took into custody a 24-year-old man and his mother. They also recovered the teen's young child, which the girl said was the result of rape by her captor.
Washington Park Police Chief David Clark said they believe the man's mother aided the crimes. Police would not identify either of them by name because they had not been charged as of early Friday.
About two dozen members of a SWAT team wearing helmets and body armour swarmed the home with assault rifles drawn. They recovered the child and arrested a man and his mother.
One officer carried the child from the home, shielding the toddler with a sheet. The child was then taken away in an ambulance.
Police in St. Louis, Mo., had listed the girl as a missing or runaway juvenile in April 2010. She was 15 when she disappeared.
The teen told police she was held against her will and was beaten and sexually assaulted almost every day. She reported trying to escape several times but told police that her captor chased her down each time and forced her back to the home at gunpoint.
She told police she was able to escape this week with the help of a relative.
Police said the teen also told them she was forced by the man and his mother to give a false name in medical records during her pregnancy and when the child was born.
A neighbour, Lakeitha Smith, told several local TV stations that she saw the girl from time to time outside the house and never witnessed anything that would raise concern.
"I used to see her come out of the house, back and forth," Smith said. "I didn't think she was being held hostage in the house."

Tuesday, August 28, 2012

Hell Ride With Stuck Accelerator


'70 mph... 90mph... 110 mph... 120 mph'. 
An Iowa mom helplessly watched as the speedometer on her Kia Sorento surged forward due to a stuck accelerator, and she had to hold on for dear life.  The mechanical malfunction on Sunday sent Lauri Ulvestad on a fast and furious, 59 mile journey down a Missouri highway for 35 minutes.

The driver somehow managed to maneuver her unstoppable SUV by weaving in and out of traffic, swerving to avoid cars and barreling through a construction zone, in footage captured by state troopers. Luckily, no injuries resulted from the hell ride north on Interstate 35.
'I knew I was going to die,' Ulvestad, 47, told KCCI-TV.
'I didn't have any doubt about. I really thought I was going to die... and no matter what I did, I couldn't slow it down.'
Though her foot was not even on the accelerator, the rapid moving car continued on and the brakes had no power to bring the vehicle to a halt.  The freakish malfunction occurred when Ulvestad was returning to her home in Ames, Iowa after a weekend with friends in Kansas City, Missouri. After she stopped for gas and returned to the road, near Bethanny, Missouri, she noticed her car speeding up. And then the out-of-control Sorento took off.
Ulvestad was able to call 911 and state troopers with blaring sirens came to her aid to move traffic out of the way.  A 911 operator stayed on the phone with her during the petrifying ordeal and passed on advice on how to get the vehicle stopped. But despite their best efforts, after a half hour nothing worked.
'I had a little angel that said, 'Don't drive faster than I can fly,'' Ulvestad told the local news station, choking up just thinking about those harrowing 30-minutes behind the wheel. 
'And I think that's what helped me.'
Finally, the troopers suggested she try and lift up the accelerator and push on the brake at the same time. 'I did that, and it slammed me from 119 mph. It slowed down enough that I jumped out, and [the car] kept going and then the officers went and tracked it down and unhooked the battery,' she said.
Footage shows Ulvestad jumping out of her vehicle and falling into the arms of an officer, overwhelmed with relief and emotion.
"I went and hugged him and said, 'I'm safe, I'm safe, I'm safe, I'm safe -- Thank you! Thank you! Thank you! Thank you!''
After the Sunday incident, Kia Motors looked at Ulvestad's car and issued a statement saying they cannot identify what caused the accelerator to stick.
"Our technicians have been unable to duplicate the issue and this appears to be an isolated incident. KMA will continue to investigate and analyze the facts of this situation and will work with the customer to resolve the matter in a timely manner," the company said.
In the meantime, Kia has provided Ulvestad with alternative transportation as they study her vehicle. The Sorento is a mid-size crossover SUV that has been produced since 2002 by the South Korean based automaker.

Monday, August 27, 2012

Hurricane Isaac

Governor of Louisiana Bobby Jindal urged people to "prepare for the worst''
People in southern Florida have been feeling the first effects of Tropical Storm Isaac as it heads towards the US. Isaac is close to the Florida Keys and Louisiana, Mississippi and Alabama have followed Florida in declaring states of emergency.

Hundreds of flights have been cancelled and oil and gas production is affected by a storm that has already killed at least six people in Haiti. The Republican Party has delayed by a day the start of its convention. Alabama Governor Robert Bentley has cancelled his visit to the Republican national convention in the Florida city of Tampa and Louisiana Governor Bobby Jindal may do the same, as they prepare emergency responses in their states.

The National Hurricane Center  said that at 00:00 GMT on Monday, Isaac had wind speeds of 65 mph  and could reach hurricane force in the next 24 hours. Fed by the warm waters of the Gulf of Mexico, Isaac is expected to strengthen to a Category 2 hurricane with winds of 105 mph and make landfall on Tuesday or Wednesday, somewhere between Florida and Louisiana.

There is also a chance it may hit New Orleans on the seventh anniversary of the devastating Hurricane Katrina. Isaac is also a large storm - it could bring significant damage to areas within 200 miles of its centre. The Florida Keys are already experiencing rain and strong winds.  Residents have boarded up windows and put down sandbags.

A steady stream of cars has carried people north along the sole road linking the Keys to the Florida mainland. Hundreds of flights have been cancelled in and out of Miami, Fort Lauderdale and other southern Florida airports. Power cuts have affected communities from Key West to Fort Lauderdale, hitting more than 6,000 customers.

The US Bureau of Safety and Environmental Enforcement says about 24% of the Gulf of Mexico's oil production and 8% of its gas output have been shut off as a precaution. Hurricane watches have been put in place along the coastlines of western Florida, Alabama, Mississippi and south-eastern Louisiana.

Florida Governor Rick Scott declared a state of emergency there to make sure emergency services would be ready when the storm hit.  The eye of the storm is forecast to hit the US coastline further north, but given the size of the storm, Tampa is expecting a soaking and powerful winds.

The storm has already caused havoc in the Caribbean, bringing death and considerable damage to Haiti, and floods and downed power lines to Cuba. Three people are missing in the Dominican Republic, officials said, including the mayor of a town near Santo Domingo.

Saturday, August 25, 2012

Good Articles From This Week


These are excellent articles by professional journalists. You might be interested in them. They were published in the last week.

Life with Syria's rebels in a cold and cunning war

CJ Chivers | New York Times | 20 August 2012

Reporter embeds with the "Lions of Tawhid", a rebel group fighting near the northern Syrian city of Aleppo. The commander was an accountant in civilian life, married with two children, before he took up arms. His colleagues include an estate agent, several farmers and construction workers, and a nurse who owned a fast-food restaurant. They've since been joined by army defectors. Together they roam the Aleppo region "plotting attacks with other commanders, evading air strikes, meeting with smugglers and bomb makers to gather more weapons, and rotating through front-line duties in a gritty street-by-street urban campaign". As Chivers says, it's a cross-section of a nation at war with itself.

 Schmooze or lose

Jane Mayer | New Yorker | 20 August 2012

We've heard a lot recently about Super Pacs and fundraising for the Republican Party's challenge to President Obama. So how do things sit on the Democratic side? Bill Clinton was a past master at cosying up to billionaire donors. But Barack Obama doesn't like it. Good for him. He believes he has more important things to do and wants to reform campaign finance anyway. But will it cost him? With the election a matter of months away, and despite his personal reluctance, the president is having to upgrade his "donor maintenance" skills. Mayer enters the world of liberal donors to find out what they want.

 Dear Mr Akin, I want you to imagine..

Eve Ensler | Huffington Post | 20 August 2012

“Start Quote

Todd Akin
"If it's a legitimate rape, the female body has ways to try to shut that whole thing [conception] down”
End Quote Todd Akin
This is a short, very powerful piece of writing in which the author of The Vagina Monologues takes aim at the Missouri congressman, Todd Akin, for his recent comments about rape and pregnancy.

She asks Akin to imagine, and describes, what it feels like to be raped.

She continues: "Then imagine a person comes along, a person who has never had that experience of rape, and that person tells you, you have no choice but to keep that product of rape growing in you against your will and when it is born it has the face of your rapist, the face of the person who has essentially destroyed your being and you will have to look at the face every day of your life and you will be judged harshly if you cannot love that face."

 Guns 'R Us

Jeanne Marie Laskas | GQ | 21 August 2012

In the US north-east where Laskas lives, it's assumed that guns are bad things used by bad people for bad business. So she crosses the country to Yuma, Arizona, to see how people relate to firearms there. It's a place where shooting ranges host birthday parties and popular ladies' nights and assault rifles make good gifts for six-year-olds. And where it's the "liberals" who are derided in her conversations with clerks and customers in a gun store: "These liberals think, 'Well, if we get all the guns away, there will be no crime, no one will get shot, everybody will live in harmony.' That's how stupid they are. It's so scary."

 Why is the night sky turning red?

Amy Shira Teitel | The Crux, Discover Magazine | 23 August 2012

"Red sky at night, shepherd's delight" - a saying many of us grew up with. But in recent decades, red skies at night have taken on a new meaning. As outside lighting has become more prominent, so our night skies have been gradually turning from black to red. So what, you say? Well, the growing popularity of LED lights, which emit shorter wavelengths than gas-discharge lamps, is making the night sky brighter still. And it could have a significant effect on nature, by disrupting the circadian rhythms of animals, ourselves included.

Teen Captive Escapes After Two Years


 A teen girl reported missing more than two years ago told police she escaped a home in southwestern Illinois where she had been held captive and repeatedly sexually assaulted. Authorities in Washington Park, a village next to East St. Louis, raided the house Thursday afternoon and took into custody a 24-year-old man and his mother. They also recovered the teen's young child, which the girl said was the result of rape by her captor.
Washington Park Police Chief David Clark said they believe the man's mother aided the crimes. Police would not identify either of them by name because they had not been charged as of early Friday. About two dozen members of a SWAT team wearing helmets and body armour swarmed the home with assault rifles drawn. They recovered the child and arrested a man and his mother.cOne officer carried the child from the home, shielding the toddler with a sheet. The child was then taken away in an ambulance.

Police in St. Louis, Mo., had listed the girl as a missing or runaway juvenile in April 2010. She was 15 when she disappeared. The teen told police she was held against her will and was beaten and sexually assaulted almost every day. She reported trying to escape several times but told police that her captor chased her down each time and forced her back to the home at gunpoint. She told police she was able to escape this week with the help of a relative.

Police said the teen also told them she was forced by the man and his mother to give a false name in medical records during her pregnancy and when the child was born. A neighbour, Lakeitha Smith, told several local TV stations that she saw the girl from time to time outside the house and never witnessed anything that would raise concern.
"I used to see her come out of the house, back and forth," Smith said. "I didn't think she was being held hostage in the house."

Curiosity Descent and Landing on Mars



Hurricane Isaac-----Warning

People walk thru flooded streets after Tropical Storm Isaac hit in Barahona, Dominican Republic, Saturday, Aug. 25, 2012.(Ricardo Arduengo)

Tropical Storm Isaac is nearing eastern Cuba and gaining ground on the Florida Keys this morning. The following is a roundup of the latest Isaac news from various media sources, weather service offices, the National Hurricane Center and observations from Isaac:
  • 1:30 p.m. EDT: Florida Gov. Rick Scott has declared a state of emergency, opening the door to the use of National Guard troops and other needs, ahead of Tropical Storm Isaac.
  • 11 a.m. EDT: A Tropical Storm Warning has been extended north along Florida`s East Coast to Sebastian Inlet. A Tropical Storm Watch has been issued for Florida`s East Coast north of Sebastian Inlet to Flagler Beach with another Tropical Storm Watch posted for Florida`s West Coast north of Bonita Beach to Tarpon Springs.
  • 10 a.m. EDT: According to the Associated Press, at least two deaths have been attributed to Isaac in Haiti.
  • 5 a.m. EDT: Hurricane Warning issued for the Florida Keys, including Dry Tortugas, the west coast of Florida from Bonita Beach southward and Florida Bay. Hurricane Watch posted for the Florida East Coast from Golden Beach southward.

'Talking cars' tested in Michigan to cut road accidents

"Talking" vehicles graphic

Hundreds of vehicles fitted with a kit that lets them "talk" to each other are being tested on the roads of Ann Arbor, Michigan. The technology is designed to alert drivers to potentially dangerous situations in an effort to reduce the number of accidents. The year-long effort is organized by the US Department of Transport. It says that the data gathered could ultimately lead to a change in the law requiring such safety equipment.
"This cutting-edge technology offers real promise for improving both the safety and efficiency of our roads," said Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood. "That is a winning combination for drivers across America."

More than 32,000 people died on the US's roads in 2011 due to crashes. The government suggests 80% of the number of accidents that did not involve drugs, alcohol or some such "driver impairment" could ultimately be prevented if the technology works. Ford, General Motors, Honda, Hyundai, Mercedes-Benz, Nissan, Toyota and Volkswagen have all provided vehicles to be used. The project has a $25m (£15.8m) budget.
Nearly 500 trucks and buses are already equipped with the communication devices which rely on technology similar to wi-fi. By the start of October that number is set to rise to about 2,800. The kit will let vehicles send data to each other and selected parts of the city's infrastructure.

Drivers will be warned if:
  • There is a risk they could crash into another vehicle at crossings where their view is restricted.
  • If another vehicle is changing lanes in their blind spot.
  • If there is a danger of a rear-end collision because the car in front of them has braked suddenly.

"It has the potential to be the ultimate game-changer in roadway safety," said National Highway Traffic Safety Administration's David Strickland.
"But we need to understand how to apply the technology in an effective way in the real world."

Collision alert graphic
Drivers will be warned of dangers they might not be able to see to reduce the risk of a collision

Alternatives to the technologies involved in the project are already on the market. For example Bosch offers an ultrasonic sensor which registers objects three metres to a car's side which the drive may not be able to see. Nissan has also introduced a car-mounted radar which monitors the road ahead and applies the brakes if it thinks a collision is imminent.

The US government is attempting to create a superior system which does not rely on the kit being able to "see" a problem - but one expert warned that the innovation's success would be limited until every vehicle was required to have the necessary gear.
"This is a classic case of standards needing to be applied," Prof David Bailey, an automotive expert at Coventry Business School, said.
"There is evidence that consumers are willing to pay for this kind of safety equipment, but to move the market on you might need some kind of regulatory change. So the amount of time it will take before we see it become widespread will depend on both whether the technology is viable and how quickly governments are likely to demand that vehicles implement it. If they don't push hard it could still be 30 to 40 years away."

In Europe Volvo is working on an alternative wireless technology in which cars "follow" a lead vehicle, mimicking its actions and forming a convoy.  The technology is designed to be used on motorways allowing the driver to hand over control and relax during part of the journey.

Perfectly Preserved Woolly Mammoth Found in Siberia

The shaggy ginger coat is just as bright as it was when the animal wandered over the ice-covered terrain.
Its eyes, foot pads and even internal organs are all intact. Yet this is a young woolly mammoth – which lived more than 10,000 years ago.

While many bones have been found before – so we have an idea of how the legendary creatures looked when they roamed the icy plains –  this is unique in being an almost entire frozen carcass.
Experts believe it could yield a treasure trove of information from the past, not only about these creatures, but the early humans who lived alongside them during the Ice Age.

A long straight cut stretches from its head to the centre of its back, as well as an 'unusual patterned opening' on the right flank made of small serrations as if from a primitive saw-like tool. This skilful butchery could not have been the work of a predator such as a lion, and was probably the work of cavemen eking out a living during the Ice Age.
Although mammoths featured in cave paintings from the time, this is the first evidence that humans preyed on them in the days when ice sheets covered 40 per cent of the northern hemisphere.

Mammoth discovery: Yuka is thought to be about two and a half years old
Mammoth discovery: Yuka is thought to be about two and a half years old

The find suggests humans may have contributed to their extinction, before the creatures were finally wiped out in the great thaw ten millennia ago.
The 6ft-long mammoth, nicknamed Yuka, appears to have escaped another predator at an earlier stage as it had a broken leg and other injuries which suggest an epic struggle. 

Toe-tally amazing: Yuka has been preserved in spectacularly good condition
Toe-tally amazing: Yuka has been preserved in spectacularly good condition
'Were humans using the lions to catch mammoths and then moving the lions off their kill?'
Mammoths evolved from African elephants when the Ice Age set in. They were around twice the size of today's elephants, weighed up to eight tons, and their long tusks helped them fight predators and pick grass and shrubs out of the ice. 
Scientists could dissect Yuka or use infrared scanning to look at its organs and understand how mammoths managed to adapt to the harsh conditions. Using the body tissue, which is normally lost, they can also use the latest technology to analyze its genome, raising the possibility of cloning a mammoth from the remains


Bernard Buiges, of the organization Mammathus, obtained the carcass, whose gender was not specified, from the Siberian tusk hunters. He is confident that they were not responsible for removing the bones and that it was the work of Man.  
The presenter, anatomist and broadcaster Professor Alice Roberts, of Birmingham University, said it was like a 'time machine into the past' , adding: 'It just doesn't look like an animal which died 10,000 years ago. It looks so fresh, almost alive. It's a historic moment.'
Professor Adrian Lister of the Natural History Museum said:  'This looks like one of the most complete mammoth carcasses we've ever found. 
'The vast majority of fossils are just bones and teeth because that's what survives under the ground. So to find a complete carcass with all its flesh and skin and hair like this, it can only happen in the very far north of Siberia.'

Friday, August 24, 2012

Ask Maxy

Dear Maxy,
Years ago , my brother "Harry' cheated on his wife . She forgave him , and they got back together . They seem very happy .
A few years after his affair , the other woman had him served with paternity papers . Harry pays child support , but he has never met the child and says he doesn't plan to . He doesn't feel he can give that child the kind of relationship he has with his other children . He also doesn't want his other kids to find out he cheated on their mother .
Harry has asked that I keep this news private , but I feel he needs to play a part in this child's life . I've tried talking to him , but he says it's none of my business . I also feel his children have the right to know and that as an aunt to all of these children , I should tell them they have a sibling . Harry told me this is not my place and if I continue to press the matter , he will not allow me to be alone with his children for fear that I will not respect his wishes . What should I do ?
In a Dilemma
Dear In a Dilemma ,
Please respect Harry's choices , even though you disagree . Depending on the ages of these children telling them could be complicated and confusing . Yes , I agree that they should know they have a sibling , but how and when to tell them is not your decision . Inform Harry that you will keep quiet , but eventually , his kids will find out , and it would be best if it came directly from him , with their Mom by his side , and not from say , the Other Woman or her child . Urge him to consult a counselor who can help him find the best way to do this .
Dear Maxy,
This may not be your department , but I don't know who else to ask . When I make a doctor's appointment , the person on the other end asks why I want to see the doctor . I am not comfortable telling this person . When I get there , the nurse asks why I wish to see the doctor , as if I never called . Then , the doctor comes in saying , "So , what's going on ?" and we start all over .
This brings me back to the appointment maker . Why are these people expecting the most personal information in my life just because they answer the phone saying , "Hi , I'm Kelly?" Is this imformation actually the least bit helpful to the doctor ?
Dear Annoyed ,
The person who answers thephone and makes the appointment needs to know what the problem is in order to allot sufficient time on the doctor's schedule . A routine checkup , for example , takes more time than a blood test . Once you get into the doctor's office , the nurse may want to be sure you have the same complaint and there are no additional problems . The doctor , however , should have your information at hand . I suspect asking again is simply the doctor's way of opening the conversation .
Dear Maxy ,
I am pretty sure my husband is cheating on me . He's been acting weird . A few times in the past few weeks he has come home smelling of women's perfume . He has not wanted to do anything with me , especiall intimately . I am so devasted , but I'm afraid to ask him about it . I don't want to lose him .
My girlfriend told me that she just looks the other way when her husband does what she calls "his business." I don't know if I can overlook it . I want my marriage to be good .
At a Loss
Dear At a Loss,
If you want to save your marriage , you have to muster the courage to confront your husband  during a neutral time , like a Saturday afternoon .
Tell him you suspect he is having an affair . Ask if he is in a relationship with someone or if he is sleeping with someone else . He may not answer .
Describe your fears and the incidents that have make you suspicious .
Stake your claim . Tell him that you want to fight for your marriage and that you are unwilling to share him with another woman . Asks if he wants to stay married and if he is willing to tell you the truth about what's going on .
Push him to be honest with you . If you are to stay married , you will figure out how to talk this through and make decisions about the future .

Wednesday, August 22, 2012

Mysterious Force Holds Back Nasa Probe in Deep Space

A space probe launched 30 years ago has come under the influence of a force that has baffled scientists and could rewrite the laws of physics.

Mysterious force holds back Nasa probe in deep space
Nasa launches Pioneer 10

Pioneer 10 was launched by Nasa on March 2 1972, and with Pioneer 11, its twin, revolutionized astronomy with detailed images of Jupiter and Saturn. In June 1983, Pioneer 10 passed Pluto, the most distant planet in our solar system. Both probes are now travelling at 27,000mph towards stars that they will encounter several million years from now. Scientists are continuing to monitor signals from Pioneer 10, which is more than seven billion miles from Earth.

Research to be published shortly in The Physical Review, a leading physics journal, will show that the speed of the two probes is being changed by about 6 mph per century - a barely-perceptible effect about 10 billion times weaker than gravity. Scientists initially suspected that gas escaping from tiny rocket motors aboard the probes, or heat leaking from their nuclear power plants might be responsible. Both have now been ruled out. The team says no current theories explain why the force stays constant: all the most plausible forces, from gravity to the effect of solar radiation, decrease rapidly with distance.

The bizarre behaviour has also eliminated the possibility that the two probes are being affected by the gravitational pull of unknown planets beyond the solar system. Assertions by some scientists that the force is due to a quirk in the Pioneer probes have also been discounted by the discovery that the effect seems to be affecting Galileo and Ulysses, two other space probes still in the solar system. Data from these two probes suggests the force is of the same strength as that found for the Pioneers. Dr Duncan Steel, a space scientist at Salford University, says even such a weak force could have huge effects on a cosmic scale.
"It might alter the number of comets that come towards us over millions of years, which would have consequences for life on Earth. It also raises the question of whether we know enough about the law of gravity."

Until 1988, Pioneer 10 was the most remote object made by man - a distinction now held by Voyager 1. Should Pioneer 10 make contact with alien life, it carries a gold-plated aluminium plaque on which the figures of a man and woman are shown to scale, along with a map showing its origin that Nasa calls "the cosmic equivalent of a message in a bottle".

Florence to Return Art Treasure to Public View

 A panel from Ghiberti's "Gates of Paradise", before (left) and after restoration (composite image) Panel from Gates of Paradise before restoration on left and after on the right

All day, every day there is a crowd around the Baptistery of San Giovanni in the heart of Florence. The striking, black and white, eight-sided building is one of the city's architectural glories. But mostly, the tourists pause for a moment to look up at a famous set of doors.  They crane their necks and snap away with cameras as they take in the golden gates that fill the baptistery's main entrance.  Fine as they are, the doors are only replicas, paid for by a Japanese millionaire. Lorenzo Ghiberti's original, Renaissance masterpiece - The Gates Of Paradise - has had to be hidden from public view for more than two decades.

It has been undergoing what is one of Florence's most important restoration projects. The work has taken 27 years to complete. But with the finishing touches now at last being applied, the BBC was been given access to the Gates - and they are magnificent. This is a towering, nine-tonne work of art, wrought out of bronze and layered with gold more than 500 years ago.

A restorer works on the Gates
  The restoration has taken nearly three decades

In scene after scene, countless figures, sculpted in fine detail, tell the stories of the Old Testament.  One panel depicts the Creation in the Garden of Eden, where Eve is brought to life from Adam's rib.  Elsewhere Ghiberti tells the tale of Jacob and Esau. And in a lower panel the boy warrior David is seen decapitating Goliath, after killing him with his slingshot. Every hair on the giant's head is picked out in a scene that seems to emerge from the door and surge towards you. It was Michelangelo who gave the work its name. He said the doors were so beautiful that they could be likened to the Gates of Paradise.

The director of the restoration programme, Anna Maria Giusti, says the doors reflect the extraordinarily rich and innovative artistic thinking that was the essence of the early Renaissance.
"The context of this work is very important," she said. "We are in the years in which a new way of making art is taking root in Florence." And she said of Ghiberti: "He had a very traditional, medieval background, but he had the amazing capacity to understand innovations and assimilate them." The Gates, she said, were an affirmation "of his full, complete conversion to the forms of the Renaissance".

After standing in the Baptistery for more than five centuries, the doors were in poor shape. Wind and weather and pollution had blackened them. And the catastrophic flooding of Florence in 1966 did serious damage.  When the River Arno burst its banks, a torrent of muddy water poured across the piazza where the Baptistery sits, and wrenched the lower panels off the Gates.  Some repair work was done while the doors were still in situ. By 1990, though, it was decided to take them down and begin the full restoration programme.

But why did it take so long to complete?
"We had to understand why the bronze was getting ruined, do trials," said the programme director.
"So the first 12 years were dedicated to studying and understanding the problem."
And the science involved in finding solutions was complex.

People sit near the Baptistery of San Giovanni in Florence, 26 June 2012 
The baptistery is a Florence landmark

Existing laser technology used to clean works of art needed to be specially adapted for work on the doors. There were only two restorers on the team, and they had other projects to attend to at the same time. But the grime of centuries has now been removed from the panels. And much of the original golden lustre of the Gates Of Paradise has been restored. But they will not be returned to the Baptistery to stand gleaming in the sun on the piazza. From now on the doors will be kept in a glass case filled with nitrogen that it is hoped will prevent further deterioration of the bronze.
The restored work is expected to be put back on show to the public in September in one of Florence's museums, the Museo dell'Opera di Santa Maria del Fiore.