Apr 16 - China's Air Pollution Behind Erratic Weather in the U.S., say Climatologists|
By phantomnation - 16 hours ago
China's air pollution could be intensifying storms over the Pacific Ocean and altering weather patterns in North America, according to scientists in the US. A team from Texas, California and Washington state has found that pollution from Asia, much of it arising in China, is leading to more intense cyclones, increased precipitation and more warm air in the mid-Pacific moving towards the north pole.
According to the team's findings, which were released on Monday in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, these changes could ultimately contribute to erratic weather in the US.
The authors used advanced computer models to study interactions between clouds and fine airborne particles known as aerosols, particularly manmade ones such as those emitted from vehicles and coal-fired power plants.
"Our work provides, for the first time to the authors' knowledge, a global multi-scale perspective of the climatic effects of pollution outflows from Asia," says the study's abstract.
One effect, the study says, is an "intensification of the Pacific storm track", a narrow zone over the ocean where some storms that pass over the US begin to gather.
"Mid-latitude storms develop off Asia and they track across the Pacific, coming in to the west coast of the US," said Ellie Highwood, a climate physicist at the University of Reading. "The particles in this model are affecting how strong those storms are, how dense the clouds are, and how much rainfall comes out of those storms."
China is fighting to contain the environmental fallout from 30 years of unchecked growth. Of 74 Chinese cities monitored by the central government 71 failed to meet air quality standards, the environmental ministry said last month.
China's top leaders are aware of the extent of the problem. Beijing will soon revise an important piece of legislation and give environmental protection authorities the power to shut polluting factories, punish officials and restrict industrial development in some areas, Reuters reported on Tuesday.
The changes to the China's environmental protection law, the first since 1989, will legally enshrine oft-repeated government promises to prioritise environmental protection over economic growth.
Cao Mingde, a law professor at the China University of Political Science and Law, told the newswire that upholding environmental protection as a fundamental principle was a huge change. "It emphasises that the environment is a priority."
Although the legislation's fourth draft is nearing completion, it is still short on details, according to the report. China's legal system is often hostile to pollution-related litigation.
On Monday, a Chinese court rejected a lawsuit by five residents of Lanzhou, a city in the country's north-west, over an incident last week when dangerous levels of the carcinogenic chemical benzene were detected in the water supply. The residents demanded damages, a public apology and water quality data from the city-owned water company.
According to a local newspaper, the court claimed that under civil procedure law, the litigants were unqualified to sue; in pollution-related cases only "agencies and organisations" could press charges, and they needed official authorisation to take action.
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Apr 17 - A 'hot' hot tub: thief caught on video stealing tub from Colorado store|
By Parkchester - 16 hours ago
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Apr 17 - Man fined $525 for drink refill at SC hospital|
By phantomnation - 16 hours ago
CHARLESTON, S.C. (AP) -- A man who helped himself to a refill of his 89-cent drink at a Veterans Affairs hospital found it cost a lot more than he expected when he was fined $525.
WCSC-TV reports ( http://bit.ly/1r2k6V6 ) there are signs in the cafeteria telling people refills are not free. When Christopher Lewis of North Charleston, S.C., refilled his drink without paying Wednesday, a federal police officer gave him a ticket.
Lewis is a construction worker and says he never noticed the signs and has refilled his drink without paying before.
The medical center said in a statement that Lewis was ticketed for shoplifting, but that the VA doesn't determine the amount of the fine.
Lewis says he wasn't given a chance to pay for the refill and will contest the fine in federal court.
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Apr 17 - Innovation Earth:This Technology Could Make Red Lights Obsolete And Boost MPG By 30 Percent|
By LAD - 16 hours ago
Every weekday, I take a six-mile drive through Mid-City Los Angeles to pick up my daughter from preschool. There are no fewer than 20 stoplights along the way, and my trek takes 30 minutes in each direction. But lately, that drive has been taking even longer. Ten minutes into a typical trip, I've already had to honk my horn three times to nudge traffic along.
No, I am not an aggressive driver. But I have become a frustrated one, bearing witness to a disturbing trend that seems to be growing with every passing day: Texting at stoplights.
Never mind that it's against the law in California. Or that it's dangerous: Nearly 20 percent of crashes are attributable to distracted driving, killing nine people and injuring more than 1,000 in the US every day. (If you think harm is limited to when the vehicle is in motion, you've never seen a bleary-eyed texter step on the accelerator after being jolted into action by the cacophony of horns behind him. Admittedly, I've been that bleary-eyed person on occasion. I can tell you -- it's distracting.)
But what about the environmental cost of all that extra idling and backed-up cars? The Treasury Department estimates that traffic congestion wastes 1.9 billion gallons of gas and costs American drivers $100 billion (in lost fuel and time) a year. Add an extra five seconds to a light here and there from a texting or web-surfing driver, then multiply that times the 311,000 traffic signals in the US flashing red and green for the more than 250 million cars on the road, and you start to sense the enormity of the problem.
It's only going to get worse: The number of cars worldwide has now topped 1 billion, on its way to 1.7 billion by 2035. Urban areas are becoming more densely populated. Every wasted second will send exponentially more carbon spewing into the atmosphere -- not to mention choke us in air pollution and make our blood boil in frustration.
Hybrid car, electric car: Miles per gallon won't mean much if our streets become parking lots. So what if we could always keep traffic moving, even virtually eliminate the stoplight as a temptation for the text-happy driver?
It isn't just wishful thinking for the traffic weary. Nick Musachio, an inventor based in St. Paul, Minn., who is best known for an ultra portable home gym design used in Mars colonization research, has just been granted a US patent (No. 8,711,005) for his Always Green Traffic Control System, a new intelligent transportation technology that lets drivers avoid red lights by directing them to adjust their speed when approaching an intersection.
According to Musachio, while idling in traffic is indeed vexing, it's actually the stop-and-go cycle of traffic that has the most detrimental effect on fuel consumption and air pollution. (See this modeling from Queensland University researchers.) By allowing for a near-continuous flow of traffic, Always Green can markedly reduce emissions, as well as boost MPG by a conservative calculation of 30 percent.
David Levinson, a professor in the Department of Civil Engineering at the University of Minnesota, has already written an eloquently technical how-it-works overview of Musachio's system on his Transportationist blog, so I'll let him do the explaining:
The modeling, which was done by the Minnesota Traffic Observatory, demonstrated a 95 percent reduction in traffic wait times -- another compelling argument for lead-footed drivers that faster doesn't equal better.
Audi has just released a similar in-car system that directs drivers to avoid red lights via a signal in its dashboard, but it could have limited impact compared with a system that relies on more visible public signage. "What does it do if you have 20 cars and only one guy has the system?" asks Musachio. "If you don't inform everybody, you may as well not inform anybody."
Electronic signage may also be the most "democratic" option, he adds, given that the average car in the US is over 11 years old and may not even be able to be updated with an Audi-esque system, were it made more widely available.
Which leads to one interesting implication for the Always Green system, if adopted -- one that I have personal interest in, given that I drive a 10-year-old car and am always angling to drive my husband's more fuel-efficient hybrid: In a system where traffic is always flowing, hybrid cars no longer have the advantage over conventional cars, since they generate their power from starting and stopping (which is why they get higher mileage in the city and lower mileage on the highway).
But the technology does make electric cars more viable, which could clear the way for a truly robust electric car market (plug-ins comprised just over half a percent of the market last year), further reducing global greenhouse gases and having a marked impact on air pollution and our public health.
Air pollution is now our greatest environmental health threat, responsible for 7 million deaths worldwide each year. I say Musachio's technology is worth a shot.
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Apr 17 - Insects from Brazil Have Female Penises and Male Vaginas|
By thekidd - 16 hours ago
In a sexual role-reversal first, researchers say they've discovered female cave-dwelling insects from Brazil that have penis-like organs and their male counterparts, which apparently have vaginas.
The copulation process of the insect, identified with the genus Neotrogla, can last a staggering 70 hours and involves the female inserting her rather elaborate "penis," or gynosome, into the male's vagina-like opening, through which he transfers back to the female nutritious seminal substances, along with semen, the study's lead, Kazunori Yoshizawa from Hokkaido University in Japan, said in a news release.
The research -- explained in a paper published April 17 in Cell Press' journal Current Biology -- revealed that after the female's gynosome is inserted into a male, inflates and numerous spines internally anchor the two insects together.
At one point, when the researchers attempted to pull a male and female apart during the unique coupling, the male's abdomen was ripped from the thorax without breaking the genital connection.
Rodrigo Ferreira from the Federal University of Lavras in Brazil was collecting data to better describe the insect species within its natural cave environment when he sent a few specimens to insect specialist Charles Lienhard in Geneva, who recognized them as a new genus.
Lienhard was also the one who first noted the female gynosome.
Yoshizawa joined the research effort later.
The recent findings, said Yoshizama, open many new directions scientists can take, as they seek to learn more about what sets the Neotrogla apart from so many other species in the world.
Then, among other topics, researchers may now gain new strategies for experimenting with sexual selection, conflict between the sexes and the evolution of sexual novelty, the researchers said.
"Although sex-role reversal has been identified in several different animals, Neotrogla is the only example in which the intromittent [male organ that delivers the sperm] is also reversed," said Yoshizawa.
"It will be important to unveil why, among many sex-role-reversed animals, only Neotrogla evolved the elaborated female penis," said fellow researcher Yosh*taka Kamimura from Japan's Keio University.
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Apr 17 - Estero High teacher en route to school arrested for DUI - florida fails once again|
By messy marv stan - 16 hours ago
An Estero High School teacher was arrested and charged with driving under the influence Monday morning.
Just before 7 a.m., a deputy was dispatched after receiving calls about a reckless driver on Imperial Parkway and Terry Street. The callers advised that the driver of a red car was going 20 mph and was swerving in both lanes.
The deputy caught up to the red vehicle and observed the same behavior as described by the callers. Subsequently, the deputy conducted a traffic stop.
The driver identified herself as Nancy Louise Vaughn, 56, and asked the deputy why she was being stopped, claiming she was not speeding and only going 45 mph.
While talking to Vaughn, the deputy said she had a glassy look in her eyes and had a slow reaction to his questions. The deputy said she could not keep her balance when she was asked to step out of the vehicle.
Vaughn was asked to perform some sobriety exercises, which the deputy says she failed.
The deputy concluded that she was impaired and she was arrested.
When asked if she had been drinking or possibly taking any prescription drugs, Vaughn told the deputy she had not.
She then told the deputy that she was a school teacher and was on her way to work at Estero High School.
Over two hours after she was stopped, deputies say Vaughn's breathalyzer test readings were .258 and .273 - three times the legal limit.
The school's website lists Vaughn as an Intensive Reading teacher, with the goal of improving reading comprehension and FCAT scores. The FCAT testing started for Lee County students on Monday.
"She was my favorite. She was awesome, not only did she care about me as a high school student but what was to come of me in college also," said Emma Kenline, a former Estero High student.
"[She] needs to learn from her mistakes. She did it before this is the second time," said Estero High School senior, Austin Roberts.
This is Vaughn's second DUI in Lee County in less than one year.
Students say in the classroom, Vaughn was nice, but strict. Outside, she had tons of school spirit.
"She didnt really talk about her family life at all. It was very professional didn't really talk about her personal life," said Estero High School junior, Maddie Dawson.
"I mean everybody makes mistakes. I guess this is hers. But what she needs is our help, not our criticism," Kenline said.
We asked students if Vaughn ever seemed drunk in the classroom before--the kids we spoke with said no.
Vaughn is no longer teaching her classes and has been reassigned to another position outside of the school.
The district is investigatating the incident
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Apr 17 - Edward Snowden Asked Putin About Surveillance|
By phantomnation - 16 hours ago
MOSCOW, April 17 (Reuters) - Edward Snowden, the fugitive former U.S. spy agency contractor who leaked details of U.S. intelligence eavesdropping, made a surprise appearance on TV phone-in hosted by Vladimir Putin on Thursday, asking the Russian president if his country also tapped the communications of millions.
The exchange was the first known direct contact between Putin and Snowden since Russia gave the American refuge last summer after he disclosed widespread monitoring of telephone and internet data by the United States and fled the country.
Snowden was not in the studio with Putin, who angered U.S. President Barack Obama by refusing to send the American home to face espionage charges. He submitted his question in a video clip that a lawyer said had been pre-recorded.
Snowden, 30, wearing a jacket and open-collar shirt and speaking before a dark background, asked Putin: "Does Russia intercept, store or analyse, in any way, the communications of millions of individuals?"
"And do you believe that simply increasing the effectiveness of intelligence or law enforcement investigations can justify placing societies, rather than subjects, under surveillance?" he asked.
He was speaking in English, and Putin had to ask the anchor for help with a translation of the question.
Putin, a spy during a 16-year career with the Soviet KGB, raised a laugh among the studio audience when he said: "You are an ex-agent. I used to have ties to intelligence. So we will speak to each other in the language of professionals."
Turning to Snowden's question, Putin said Russia regulates communications as part of criminal investigations, but "on a massive scale, on an uncontrolled scale we certainly do not allow this and I hope we will never allow it."
He said the Russian authorities need consent from a court to conduct such surveillance on a specific individual "and for this reason there is no (surveillance) of a mass character here and cannot be in accordance with the law".
The televised exchange allowed Putin to portray Russia as less intrusive in the lives of its citizens than the United States, which he frequently accuses of preaching abroad about rights and freedoms it violates at home.
"We have neither the technical means nor the money at the United States has," Putin added. "But the main thing is that our intelligence services are under the strict control of the state and society."
Putin's refusal to hand Snowden to the United States added to increasingly strained ties between Moscow and Washington that have now been even more severely damaged by deep disagreement over the turmoil in Ukraine and Russia's annexation of Crimea.
Snowden has been kept out of sight, his location secret, but his presence in Russia has angered the United States, whose Justice Department has charged him with violating the Espionage Act.
Snowden fled to Hong Kong in June, then flew to Moscow and was granted asylum for a year - extendable annually - after spending weeks in limbo at Sheremetyevo airport in the Russia capital. The United States revoked his passport.
Putin has repeatedly asserted that Russian intelligence agents have not grilled Snowden for secrets, and that the American can count on asylum only if he refrains from actions aimed at damaging the United States or its ties with Russia.
Russia welcomed Snowden's father for a visit in October and state-run television hosted a group of former U.S. national security officials who handed him an award for "integrity in intelligence".
For Snowden, the exchange with Putin may have been a chance to suggest that he is concerned about surveillance practices not only in the United States but in other countries including Russia, which the United States says has rolled back freedoms under Putin.
A government-connected Russian lawyer who has been aiding Snowden since his arrival, Anatoly Kucherena, said Snowden had - like nearly 3 million other people - decided to pose a question to Putin when he heard of the president's annual Q&A session.
"Edward is good with these technologies. He learned (of the programme) and taped a video," Kucherena told state-run RIA news agency. "He know how to go on the Internet in a secure way, and that is how he sent in his question." (Additional reporting by Alexei Anishchuk, Polina Devitt and Alessandra Prentice; Editing by Giles Elgood)
Source: Huff Post
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Apr 17 -Florida Woman Goes On Crack Binge, Gives Birth In Motel Gnaws Off Umbilical Cord With Teeth|
By Ham Rove - 16 hours ago
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Apr 17 - $exually Transmitted Allergic Reaction to Brazil Nuts|
By Moyo420 - 16 hours ago
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Apr 17 - Deputies: Florida man killed 1-year-old son to play video games|
By dc3003 - 16 hours ago
A Homosassa man was arrested on Thursday after deputies said he confessed to suffocating his 1-year-old son so he could play video games.
Cody Eugene Wygant, 24, was arrested and on third-degree murder charges and willful child neglect regarding the death of his son, Daymeon Wygant.
Emergency personnel arrived at the home on Thursday morning after a call that the baby was not breathing. Daymeon was transported to Seven Rivers Regional Medical Center where he was pronounced dead.
According to an arrest report, Wygant said around 1 a.m. he became frustrated with the baby because he was crying uncontrollably and preventing him from playing Xbox games. Wygant told investigators he had placed his hand over the baby's mouth and nose for three to four minutes until the baby seemed "exhausted" and then laid him down in the play pen.
The arrest report stated Wygant covered the baby with multiple layers of bedding, including his head and was tucked in such a way as to prevent him from receiving fresh air.*
Deputies said Wygant did not check on the baby for approximately five hours, during which, he played Xbox for an hour and a half and watched three episodes of a television show.
Wygant called 911 around 8:21 a.m., the report said. When officials arrived the baby was blue, not breathing and unresponsive.*
Although Wygant has not been arrested in Citrus County, he has an extensive criminal history in California, where he moved from in January, with crimes ranging from trespassing to rape.
"It is inconceivable that a father could kill his infant son --it just baffles the mind," Sheriff Jeff Dawsy said.* "Our only sense of relief now comes from knowing that we did exactly what we needed to do to bring justice to him swiftly. *Our prayers go out to those who knew and loved Daymeon."
The Medical Examiner has not determined the cause and manner of death, however, did state there are serious concerns that the death was caused by suffocation.
Wygant is being held at the Citrus County jail without bond.*
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