Breaking News: Magnitude 7.4 Earthquake Hits Off Japan Coast

10:05:32 AM, Thursday, April 07, 2011

"Japan was rattled by a strong aftershock and tsunami warning Thursday night nearly a month after a devastating earthquake and tsunami flattened the northeastern coast.

The Japan meteorological agency issued a tsunami warning for a wave of up to one meter. The warning was issued for a coastal area already torn apart by last month's tsunami.

Officials say Thursday's quake was a 7.4-magnitude and hit 25 miles (40 kilometers) under the water and off the coast of Miyagi prefecture. The quake that preceded last month's tsunami was a 9.0-magnitude.

Buildings as far away as Tokyo shook for about a minute.

U.S. Geological Survey gave the preliminary magnitude as 7.4 and it struck off the eastern coast 60 miles (100 kilometers) from Sendai and 90 miles (140 kilometers) from Fukushima. It was about 215 miles (345 kilometers) from Tokyo.

The depth was 25 miles (40 kilometers). Shallower quakes tend to be more destructive.

Hundreds of aftershocks have shaken the northeast region devastated by the March 11 earthquake, but few have been stronger than 7.0."

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White House Says Shutdown Will Delay Pay To Troops

9:30:33 AM, Thursday, April 07, 2011

"The Obama administration warned Wednesday that a federal shutdown would undermine the economic recovery, delay pay to U.S. troops fighting in three wars, slow the processing of tax returns and limit small business loans and government-backed mortgages during peak home buying season.

The dire message, delivered two days before the federal government's spending authority expires, appeared aimed at jolting congressional Republicans into a budget compromise. Billions of dollars apart, congressional negotiators were working to strike a deal by Friday to avert a shutdown by setting spending limits through the end of September. The last such shutdown took place 15 years ago and lasted 21 days.

President Barack Obama telephoned House Speaker John Boehner on Wednesday, and Boehner's office said the speaker told Obama he was hopeful a deal could be reached.

As the talks continued, the White House sought to put the prospect of a shutdown in terms people would care about, warning even that the beloved National Cherry Blossom Festival Parade in the nation's capital would be wiped out. The Smithsonian Institution and national parks around the country would also be closed.

A shutdown would come at an especially busy time for the Smithsonian. The Cherry Blossom Festival, which concludes this weekend, draws many tourists to an area near the museums. The Smithsonian counts about 3 million visits each April and has already sold 23,000 IMAX movie and lunch combos to school groups for the month.

Under long-standing federal rules, agencies would not be affected that provide for U.S. national security, dispense most types of federal benefit payments, offer inpatient medical care or outpatient emergency care, ensure the safe use of food and drugs, manage air traffic, protect and monitor borders and coastlines, guard prisoners, conduct criminal investigations and law enforcement, oversee power distribution and oversee banks.

Mail deliveries would continue in the event of a shutdown. U.S. postal operations are not subsidized by tax dollars.

According to the shutdown scenario described by the administration, the government would have to significantly cut staffing across the executive branch, including workers at the White House and civilian employees at the Defense Department; close to 800,000 workers would be affected. Congress and the federal court system will also be subject to a shutdown..."

-- And yet they are all still taking the week off. Really this is the best our government can come up with? It is complete bullshit. I was making fun of Belgium, but this country's politicians and government are no less screwed up. In real life they'd all be fired, in their bullshit land... WELL...

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Dom Mazzetti vs. Dubstep

12:29:03 AM, Thursday, April 07, 2011

-- ‎"Dubstep is like chewing ecstasy when you thought it was children's Tylenol."

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Dragon Age: Origins - Main Theme Music

12:07:39 AM, Thursday, April 07, 2011

-- Random, but this deserves a listen even if you've never played the game. BioWare always has amazing game soundtracks.

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A Year In The Life Of Richmond Park: Photographer Captures London’s Secret Wildlife

11:20:36 PM, Wednesday, April 06, 2011

"A photographer who rose every day before dawn for a year has unlocked the secret world of London's majestic wildlife.

The stunning scenes, which occur right under the noses of the eight million people living in the capital, were captured on camera in a series of incredible pictures.

Dedicated Alex Saberi went out every morning before work to scout out the beautiful sights that most city dwellers would expect to travel to the New Forest or Exmoor to find.

But Alex, 34, travelled around Richmond Park, south west London, on a bicycle to find the fairytale scenes of rutting stags and swans swimming through the eerie dawn mist.

His outstanding shots include pictures of majestic deer roaming placidly under beams of sunlight and rabbits rising from their warren on a dewy morning.

An inquisitive squirrel is caught on camera hunting out his breakfast while a kingfisher surveys the silent morning.

Alex, a web designer from Putney, said: 'I used to live right next to the park and I would go every morning to take pictures..."

-- Follow the links to see and read the rest!!!

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Officials Say 2 Dead in F-18 Fighter Jet Crash in California

6:57:39 PM, Wednesday, April 06, 2011

"A fighter jet crashed into a field near a Central California air base on Wednesday, killing the two people on board, officials said.

Fresno County deputy coroner Sarah Davis confirmed the deaths with The Associated Press, but did not release other details.

Officials from the Naval Air Station in Lemoore said the F-18 aircraft went down shortly after noon in a grassy field about half a mile from the base. Military officials said the two men killed included a pilot and weapons system officer. Officials did not identify the men. Navy spokeswoman Melinda Larson said the crash was under investigation.

The crash happened about a half mile from where a crew for a farm labor contractor was planting tomatoes, and the supervisor Jonathan Aguayo described a scene involving black smoke and scattered debris.

"I heard a loud noise, I turned around and saw some smoke," Aguayo said. "It was a big black type of smoke coming off the ground. When my dad and I drove up to take a closer look, we saw some debris in the field, smoldering. One large piece and a bunch of smaller pieces."

Aguayo said he heard the crash bud did not see it happen.

F-18 Hornets are jets that are used by the military for combat operations and also in the Navy's Blue Angels Flight Demonstration Squadron, which performs aerial shows.

Lemoore is about 30 miles south of Fresno in Central California. The Naval Air Station, which is home to about 275 jets, is the West Coast hub for the U.S. Pacific Fleet and its mission is to train and man west coast Strike-Fighter squadrons."

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Living In The Tunnels of New York City

4:04:07 PM, Wednesday, April 06, 2011

-- Frankly it's a pretty sweet setup he got there... Almost better than many dorms on college campuses! Also, May 21st is my birthday! WOOT!

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The Man Who Dreamed He Was A Beetle

2:37:35 PM, Wednesday, April 06, 2011

"A sweet, sweet man died the other day and I'd like to think that beetles everywhere, big ones, little ones, speaking many different beetle languages, paused for a second and thought, "Oh, dear. That guy. He was our guy."

Tom Eisner loved bugs. He loved them as an infant, seeking them, "according to my parents, when I first stood on my feet." He was among the first scientists to notice that insects communicate not only by touching and dancing and by the markings on their bodies, they also send chemical signals. Bugs talk in chemicals. And Tom, with his Cornell colleague Jerrold Meinwald, helped invent a field called Ecological Chemistry that cracked the chemical codes that drive bugs to court each other, fight each other, and give each other gifts.

Bugs were his protectors. He was shy. Born Jewish in Germany, he and his family fled to Spain, then to France, then on to Uruguay. In Montevideo, where he grew up, bullies stalked him, but then he figured out he could safely put a particularly poisonous caterpillar on his hand because it had no poisons on its belly. He plopped two of them on his little fists and displayed them like boxing gloves. The tough kids (and in tropical Uruguay, boys know their toxic insects) were amazed. Suddenly, Tom remembered, "I was in command."

Years later, in Massachusetts, he was searching under a rock and heard beetles making strange hissing sounds. Tom, wondering what they were, but with hands full, popped one in his mouth and was startled when it suddenly hurled a hot wad of something against his inner cheek. Turns out he had met his first Bombardier beetle — the same one Darwin had popped in his mouth many years before. Tom, checking closely, discovered this beetle was manufacturing a kind of rocket fuel (a boiling combination of hydrogen peroxide and hydroquinone at 212 degrees Fahrenheit) which it fired from a machine gun like rotating turret mounted on the tip of its abdomen..."

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Sex After a Field Trip Yields Scientific First

12:31:38 PM, Wednesday, April 06, 2011

"A U.S. vector biologist appears to have accidentally written virological history simply by having sex with his wife after returning from a field trip to Senegal. A study just released in Emerging Infectious Diseases suggests that the researcher, Brian Foy of Colorado State University in Fort Collins, passed to his wife the Zika virus, an obscure pathogen that causes joint pains and extreme fatigue. If so, it would be the first documented case of sexual transmission of an insect-borne disease.

Foy is the first author of the paper, which describes three anonymous patients. But in an interview with Science, he confirmed that he is the anonymous "patient 1"; his Ph.D. student Kevin Kobylinski, who accompanied him on the trip to Senegal and also got sick, is "patient 2." Foy's wife, Joy Chilson Foy, a nurse at the Poudre Valley Hospital in Fort Collins, is "patient 3"; she is also a co-author of the paper.

Exactly what happened when Foy and Kobylinski returned from Senegal on 24 August 2008 has remained a mystery for years. As part of their research on malaria, the scientists had been collecting mosquitoes in a southeastern village called Bandafassi, where they were often bitten. About 5 days after their return, both researchers got sick. Both had a rash on their torso, extreme fatigue, headaches, and swollen and painful wrists, knees, and ankles. Foy also had symptoms of prostatitis, including painful urination, and he and his wife noticed what looked like blood in his semen, according to the paper.

On 3 September, Foy's wife's fell ill as well, with malaise, chills, extreme headache, hypersensitivity to light, and muscle pains. The couple's four children remained healthy. The symptoms started receding within about a week in all three patients, although the joint pains lingered.

The scientists suspected they were infected through one of their many mosquito bites but were stumped as to the pathogen. So were several laboratories, including the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), whose lab for insect-borne diseases is in Fort Collins. Antibody tests on serum samples from the two scientists tested positive for dengue, a viral disease that might have explained the symptoms, but samples from Chilson Foy came back negative. "Eventually, the CDC said, 'We think you had dengue, but we don't know what your wife had,' " says Foy, who decided to keep samples from all three in the freezer.

The mystery might never have been solved if Kobylinski hadn't gone out for a few beers with Andrew Haddow, a medical entomologist at the University of Texas Medical Branch (UTMB) at Galveston, during another trip to Senegal more than a year later. Haddow, who studies how pathogens survive in the jungle and emerge when humans encroach, had a great personal interest in Zika: His grandfather, Alexander Haddow, was one of three scientists who had isolated the virus from a rhesus monkey in the Zika Forest near Entebbe, Uganda, in 1947 and described it in a paper in 1952. "I read all of my grandfather's papers, so that stuff really interests me," Haddow says..."

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Japanese Nuclear Engineers Plug Fukushima Leak

12:03:29 PM, Wednesday, April 06, 2011

"Workers stem flow of radioactive water into sea using mixture of sawdust, newspaper, concrete and a type of liquid glass.

Engineers battling to contain the crisis at Japan's Fukushima nuclear power plant appeared to have turned an important corner last night after they stopped highly radioactive water from leaking into the ocean from one of the facility's crippled reactors.

Workers struggling to halt the leaks successfully used a mixture of sawdust, newspaper, concrete and a type of liquid glass to stem the flow of contaminated water near a seaside pit, said the plant's owner, Tokyo Electric Power Co (Tepco).

Earlier efforts involving cement, an absorbent polymer and rags were unsuccessful in plugging the leak, which was discovered on Saturday, while radiation of more than 7.5 million times the legal limit for seawater was found just off the earthquake-hit plant.

In a sign of Tepco's desperation, it breached its own regulations on Monday by beginning an intentional discharge of 11,500 tonnes of less contaminated water into the Pacific to make space for the highly radioactive liquid that was seeping out in an uncontrolled manner.

The company still needs to pump contaminated water into the sea because of a lack of storage space at the plant and will continue to release the 11,500 tonnes of low-level radioactive water until Friday. "The leaks were slowed yesterday after we injected a mixture of liquid glass and a hardening agent and it has now stopped," a Tepco spokesman told Reuters..."

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Edward Maya feat. Vika Jigulina - Desert Rain

11:50:47 PM, Tuesday, April 05, 2011

-- So it's rather similar to Stereo Love and her accent doesn't do much for the song at all, but still catchy.

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How A Big US Bank Laundered Billions From Mexico's Murderous Drug Gangs

11:41:20 PM, Tuesday, April 05, 2011

"As the violence spread, billions of dollars of cartel cash began to seep into the global financial system. But a special investigation by the Observer reveals how the increasingly frantic warnings of one London whistleblower were ignored.

On 10 April 2006, a DC-9 jet landed in the port city of Ciudad del Carmen, on the Gulf of Mexico, as the sun was setting. Mexican soldiers, waiting to intercept it, found 128 cases packed with 5.7 tons of cocaine, valued at $100m. But something else – more important and far-reaching – was discovered in the paper trail behind the purchase of the plane by the Sinaloa narco-trafficking cartel.

During a 22-month investigation by agents from the US Drug Enforcement Administration, the Internal Revenue Service and others, it emerged that the cocaine smugglers had bought the plane with money they had laundered through one of the biggest banks in the United States: Wachovia, now part of the giant Wells Fargo.

The authorities uncovered billions of dollars in wire transfers, traveller's cheques and cash shipments through Mexican exchanges into Wachovia accounts. Wachovia was put under immediate investigation for failing to maintain an effective anti-money laundering programme. Of special significance was that the period concerned began in 2004, which coincided with the first escalation of violence along the US-Mexico border that ignited the current drugs war.

Criminal proceedings were brought against Wachovia, though not against any individual, but the case never came to court. In March 2010, Wachovia settled the biggest action brought under the US bank secrecy act, through the US district court in Miami. Now that the year's "deferred prosecution" has expired, the bank is in effect in the clear. It paid federal authorities $110m in forfeiture, for allowing transactions later proved to be connected to drug smuggling, and incurred a $50m fine for failing to monitor cash used to ship 22 tons of cocaine.

More shocking, and more important, the bank was sanctioned for failing to apply the proper anti-laundering strictures to the transfer of $378.4bn – a sum equivalent to one-third of Mexico's gross national product – into dollar accounts from so-called casas de cambio (CDCs) in Mexico, currency exchange houses with which the bank did business..."

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Plans For World's Most Powerful Rocket Unveiled

7:54:46 PM, Tuesday, April 05, 2011

"The private rocket company SpaceX says its next rocket will be the most powerful in the world.

The new rocket, called the Falcon Heavy, is designed to carry up to about twice as much weight as a NASA space shuttle can take to orbit. It's expected to be at the launchpad at the end of next year for its first flight, with the launch likely coming in 2013.

SpaceX CEO Elon Musk described his company's new rocket during a press conference in Washington, D.C. He says it will be able to take about 117,000 pounds to orbit.

"So that is really, really humongous," says Musk. "It's more payload capability than any vehicle in history, apart from the Saturn V."

The Saturn V was NASA's moon rocket and was decommissioned after the Apollo program ended. Musk said the Falcon Heavy has about half the lifting capability of the Saturn V.

"So in principle, you could do another mission to the moon, just by doing two launches of a Falcon Heavy," says Musk. He also described possible missions to an asteroid, or an unmanned mission to collect samples of rocks from Mars and return them to Earth.

SpaceX is one of a number of companies that have been angling to carry cargo — and someday, astronauts — for NASA now that the space shuttle is being retired this year.

SpaceX has already had two successful flights of its smaller Falcon 9 rocket and successfully returned its Dragon space capsule from orbit. Musk says the Falcon Heavy has also been designed with NASA's standards for human spaceflight in mind. Each launch of the Falcon Heavy will cost $80 million to $125 million..."

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Orphan Bear Cubs Play With Tiger Cub

3:43:18 PM, Tuesday, April 05, 2011

-- Two black bear cubs, abandoned by their mom, get a new home at China’s Qingdao Wildlife Park - and a new playmate: A tiger cub just their size.

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Space Junk Threatening International Space Station, 3 Residents

1:50:37 PM, Tuesday, April 05, 2011

"A small piece of space junk drifted dangerously close to the International Space Station on Tuesday, prompting NASA to order the three astronauts to seek shelter in their attached capsule.

Mission Control gave the order after determining there was not enough time to steer the orbiting outpost away from the space junk.

The debris — about 6 inches — is from a Chinese satellite that was deliberately destroyed in 2007 as part of a weapons test. It was projected to pass within three miles of the space station, warranting a red threat level, NASA's highest.

Just last Friday, the space station had to move out of the way of an orbiting remnant from a two-satellite collision in 2009.

Debris is an increasingly serious problem in orbit, because of colliding and destroyed spacecraft. At 5 miles a second, damage can be severe, even from something several inches big. Decompression, in fact, is at the top of any spacefarers' danger list.

More than 12,500 pieces of debris are orbiting Earth — and those are the ones big enough to track.

Mission Control notified the crew of the latest threat Tuesday morning, a few hours after the risk was identified. The three crew members are Dmitry Kondratyev, the station's Russian commander, American Catherine Coleman and Italian Paolo Nespoli.

The orbit of the space junk is extremely erratic, and there's quite a bit of atmospheric drag on it, said NASA spokesman Josh Byerly. Experts monitored the debris into the early afternoon, to determine its exact path, and later told the crew that they might not have to close themselves off in the Soyuz spacecraft. The threat level, however, remained red..."

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