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Saturday, December 18, 2010

Three Killed in Mexican Resort City Where U.N. Is Holding Climate Summit

Three Killed in Mexican Resort City Where U.N. Is Holding Climate Summit

Read more: http://www.foxnews.com/world/2010/12/09/killed-mexican-resort-city-holding-climate-summit/#ixzz17ctafW4c
 
 

Three Killed in Mexican Resort City Where U.N. Is Holding Climate Summit

Published December 09, 2010
| FoxNews.com
Three people were fatally shot Wednesday in the Mexican resort city of Cancun where the United Nations is holding a climate summit.
According to Mexican authorities, the three men were tortured before being shot.
An 8-month-old boy was also killed Wednesday when he was caught in the middle of a gunfight between federal police and drug cartel hit men in El Alcalde.
The Michoacan Attorney General's Office said the boy was in a taxi with his mother Wednesday night when he was struck by stray bullet. The boy's mother was not injured.
Authorities said six federal police officers have been injured during the confrontation with gunmen.
Nearly 30,000 people have been killed in drug-related violence in Mexico after President Felipe Calderon took office in Dec. 2006.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.


Read more: http://www.foxnews.com/world/2010/12/09/killed-mexican-resort-city-holding-climate-summit/#ixzz17ctjZXm7

Friday, December 17, 2010

SpaceX Dragon Capsule Lands Safely

http://www.informationweek.com/news/security/government/showArticle.jhtml?articleID=228800001&subSection=News

SpaceX Dragon Capsule Lands Safely

World's first commercial orbiter touches down in one piece following successful test launch.

Space Exploration Technologies on Wednesday successfully launched and landed a capsule capable of transporting humans to the International Space Station, marking the first time a privately-owned contractor has accomplished such a feat.
SpaceX's Dragon capsule, boosted by the company's own Falcon 9 rocket, blasted off from Florida's Cape Canaveral at 10:43 a.m. EST, following a 90-minute delay caused by a faulty indicator light. Dragon then circled the earth twice before splashing down just over three hours later in the Pacific Ocean, about 500 miles off the coast of Southern California.

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"There's so much that can go wrong and it all went right," said SpaceX CEO Elon Musk, in a statement. "I'm sort of in semi-shock," said Musk, a tech entrepreneur who started electronic payments network PayPal before founding SpaceX.
SpaceX could play a key role in President Obama's plan to turn launches to the ISS over to private contractors following the retirement of NASA's space shuttle fleet next year.
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The president wants the space agency to concentrate more on deep space missions—with an eye to putting a man on Mars in the next few decades—and environmental research.
The plan has drawn barbs from critics, including several members of Congress, who say it will cost jobs along Florida's Spacecoast and in other states that support NASA, and could leave the U.S. trailing Russia and China in the space race.
NASA is cooperating with SpaceX and other contractors as it looks to turn many of its traditional activities over to the private sector under its Commercial Orbital Transportation Services program.

Thursday, December 16, 2010

Rape and murder case delayed in court

http://www.wavy.com/dpp/news/local_news/murder-case-delayed-in-court

Rape and murder case delayed in court

Suspect is an illegal immigrant, deaf, and mute

Updated: Wednesday, 15 Dec 2010, 9:25 PM EST
Published : Wednesday, 15 Dec 2010, 9:25 PM EST
JAMES CITY COUNTY, Va. (WAVY) - There was another heartbreaking delay in court Wednesday for the family of a 16-year-old girl who police say was raped and murdered nearly six years ago by an illegal immigrant who is also deaf and mute.
Unless Oswaldo Martinez, who prosecutors say is a perfect DNA match to the killer, learns enough sign language to communicate with his attorney, he might never stand trial.
The body of Brittany Binger was discovered in January 2005 on a patch of grassy land right in front of the mobile home park where she lived in James City County.
In court Wednesday the judge ruled that Martinez, in the country illegally from El Salvador, is still not yet competent to stand trail because he has not yet learned enough sigh language, even though experts at Central State Hospital have been teaching him sign language for nearly six years now. Prosecutor Nathan Green said hospital officials indicate Martinez is making progress in his ability to communicate.
Brittany's father, James Binger, stood outside the courthouse after the hearing with tears in his eyes and said, "This was supposed to come to an end today and it did not. I do believe this man is playing stupid because he knows what his fate is."
With a DNA match, if Martinez does learn enough sign language to stand trial, he would almost certainly go to prison for the rest of his life, according to the judge.
"This is what really concerns me, is that we are in the process of educating this young man to learn the language to communicate with his attorney, in the end if he's guilty he'll be placed in prison for the rest of his life and if that's what we're doing, he's smart enough, it appears to me, to realize that," said the judge. "My question is how much is he willing to learn and communicate if he knows at the end of the game is to have him placed in prison the rest of his life. That's my concern is that is he smart enough that he's gaming us?"
For the family, it's not just the fear of failing to get justice for Brittany, they say it's also the dangerous reality of what will happen if Martinez is ruled incompetent to stand trial.
"He goes home to El Salvador, free and clear," said prosecutor Nathan Green. "There would be nothing holding him here. There is a detainer on him and he is here illegally. I assume the federal government would deport him."
Brittany's father said, "That's real scary because he will get deported and within six months be back in this country and whose child is he going to rape and murder this time?"
It will now be mid-Summer before the court considers once again Martinez's competency.
Pulling a worn picture of his beautiful daughter out of the coat pocket over his heart Binger said, "That's my daughter, my pride and joy right there."
Until Brittany's alleged killer goes to trial, her father vows to carry her picture near his heart, every day.
"I carry it all the time," he said choking up. "Only thing I got left."

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Paid by LA not to Teach

http://www.norcalblogs.com/post_scripts/2009/05/paid-by-la-not-to-teach.html

Paid by LA not to Teach

| 3 Comments
Fred Jake
May 31, 2009
Now If this is not a reason to start throwing people out of office, I don't know what is. In the LA Unified School District, there are almost 160 teachers and administrators who are collecting almost $10 million a year for doing nothing while their job fitness is reviewed. All this money is being wasted while the school district is having heated closed door sessions on who to layoff because of a budget problems.
One of the most egregious examples is that of Matthew Kim. Kim, who is a special education teacher, was removed from school and assigned to a district office in 2002 after the school board voted to fire him for allegedly harassing teenage students and colleagues. In the mean school district has spent more than $2 million on him in salary and legal costs. Kim spends his days going through the recommended schedule of a teacher while never entering the campus of any school. His day starts in the morning at 7:50 am, with 30 minutes for lunch and ends when the bell at his old campus rings at 3:20 p.m. He is to take off all breaks, school vacations and holidays, per the district agreement with the teacher's union. Remember at no time is Mr Kim to be given any work by the district or show up at school. In the jargon of the school district, Kim is being "housed" while his fitness to teach is under review.

As if they were not bad enough, Kim has been doing this every day since he was let go in 2002. Now Mr Kim is even more special than the other 160 members of this program, because Mr. Kim gets top spend hi sours at home. That's right, at home. You see the district offices used to house these many employees were becoming too crowded, so they told him to just go through his daily routine at home. So at the tune of over $2 million dollars the district has paying Mr. Kim's salary and legal costs.
So the next time you here some liberal say we cannot cut back on the money we spend on school because the children's education will suffer, remember Mr. Kim and the other school employees who never even come in contact with a school. I would bet my next pay check that every school district in the state of California has similar things going on. I would also guess this is costing us taxpayers 100's of millions of dollars a year, can we get a good old reporter that would do some real investigative reporting for a change? If you want to read more then you can check out the story about Mr. Kim and the others in this LA Times story by Jason Song. L.A. Unified pays teachers not to teach






3 Comments

I love this typical union response:
"Why would we denigrate [teachers] by forcing them to do something they're not supposed to do?" said A. J. Duffy, president of United Teachers Los Angeles, adding that housed teachers are entitled to a presumption of innocence.
Um, how about BECAUSE THEY CAN'T TEACH!!
Thanks for the heads up Fred, and welcome back, I read you quit. Obviously just a ploy to get us all worried for you....LOL
Yes, I am afraid that his sort of thing is endemic to all the large California school systems, and that school boards and district administrations are just a culpable as the unions. We seem to be unable to pair tenure with an objective system to evaluate and sack unsatisfactory teachers.
We gotta have tenure. School districts are notoriously susceptible to political shenanigans. But I fail to understand why it is not still possible to sack a fourth grade teacher whose students have left her class ignorant of the multiplication tables three years running.
I don't get it.
I commend the school district for keeping Mr. Kim home. I am sure that his former students are learning much more now than when they were in his classroom. Now, the school district could improve the situation even more by keeping the students home too. They could read magazines and watch television, or some might even find a book to read, which would be more educational than whatever nonsense the classroom had in store for them.
-- Snopes (Ph.D. University of California, 1976)






The Great Wall of Smog

http://www.foreignpolicy.com/articles/2010/12/02/the_great_wall_of_smog

The Great Wall of Smog

 

http://www.foreignpolicy.com/articles/2010/12/02/the_great_wall_of_smog?page=full


The Great Wall of Smog

Hazy images of China's pollution.

DECEMBER 2, 2010


A slick of carcinogenic benzene, which can cause leukemia and other blood-related cancers, flows down the Songhua River in the northern city of Harbin on Nov. 24, 2005.
PETER PARKS/AFP/Getty Images


A worker carries a sack of coal at a small mine in Shanxi province on Nov. 29, 2006.
PETER PARKS/AFP/Getty Images


A man works in a coking factory in Xian, Shanxi, on Feb. 2, 2007. The factory, which emitted about 300 million cubic meters of exhaust per year, was shut down as part of the local government's campaign to reduce air pollution.
China Photos/Getty Images


A worker pulls a cart of tiles through aisles in a factory in Foshan, Guangdong province, on Sept. 26, 2008. This town is known for producing ceramics, but the industry has been blamed for acid rainfall in the Pearl River Delta Region.
China Photos/Getty Images


Workers leave the Wangjialing coal mine, near Xiangning, Shanxi, on March 31.
PETER PARKS/AFP/Getty Images


Tending the ovens at the Xian coking factory in Shanxi on Feb. 2, 2007.
China Photos/Getty Images


A man shovels coal outside a heating plant in Linfen, Shanxi, on Feb. 15, 2007. Linfen was ranked the world's most polluted city in a June 2007 World Bank study.
PETER PARKS/AFP/Getty Images


Smog blankets a main street in Linfen on Dec. 9, 2009.
PETER PARKS/AFP/Getty Images


A mask-clad woman exercises in Linfen on Dec. 9, 2009.
PETER PARKS/AFP/Getty Images


The skyline of Wuhan city, Hubei province, rises atop of layer of smog on Dec. 3, 2009.
STR/AFP/Getty Images


A masked man walks near the polluted Songhua River in Harbin, Heilongjiang, on Nov. 25, 2005.
China Photos/Getty Images


A group of wild geese fly over the Tai Lake in Wuxi, Jiangsu province, on Feb. 7, 2005. Development in the region, one of the fastest growing in the country, has heavily polluted the once-pristine lake.
China Photos/Getty Images
 
All caption info via Getty Images

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

A Nuclear-Powered Mars Hopper

http://www.technologyreview.com/blog/deltav/26038/?p1=Blogs

Delta-V

A Nuclear-Powered Mars Hopper

Researchers say a vehicle could explore Mars more efficiently by collecting gas from the planet's atmosphere to use as propellant.
Brittany Sauser 11/17/2010
Researchers at the Space Research Center in the United Kingdom have developed a concept for a Mars rover that would use nuclear power and propellant gathered from the Martian atmosphere to hop a kilometer at a time. A vehicle that hops such a distance could cover diverse areas faster than current wheeled rovers, says Hugo Williams, lead researcher for the new hopper concept.
Taking giant leaps across a planet is not a new idea. Researchers at Draper Laboratory in Cambridge, Massachusetts have developed a prototype of such a vehicle. But the recent work stands out because it would gather carbon dioxide from the Martian atmosphere, heat it up, and discharges it through a rocket nozzle to propel the vehicle. While it will take the vehicle about a week to refuel after making a hop, Williams says having its fuel source in-situ would extend its operational time and range. The hopper would also uses a nuclear-powered engine so it would not be reliant on solar panels for energy like the current generation of rovers .
Richard Ambrosi, a researcher at the Space Research Center, says that the vehicle would use a guidance, navigation, and control system already used by other spacecraft and would be mostly autonomous. The work was published Wednesday in the Proceedings of the Royal Society.

Monday, December 13, 2010

Google Fans Throw Eggs At Houses Blurred In Google Street View

http://searchengineland.com/google-fans-throw-eggs-at-houses-blurred-in-google-street-view-56763

Google Fans Throw Eggs At Houses Blurred In Google Street View


Some people who chose to blur their houses on Google Street View in Germany received an unexpected real life blurring: Google fans who threw eggs at their homes.
Deutsche Welle reports that on Saturday, several homes in the Bergerhausen area of Essen that opted to be blurred were hit with eggs. “Google’s Cool” notes were also taped to their mailboxes. Der Westen reports similarly, in German here. Neither gives the exact number of homes involved nor are pictures of the eggings posted.
To the right, an example of one of the blurred homes in the area.
Google Street View launched in Germany this month, initially with images of the small town of Oberstaufen and then last week in 20 major cities, including Berlin, Hamburg and Munich.
Concerns about Street View led Google to allow people to blur their homes before the service went live (usually, this is something only allowed after-the-fact). About 3% of the households in Germany (2.89% or 244,237 in all) choose to blur their homes.
I asked Google about the incident and received this response:
We respect people’s decision to opt out and by no means consider this to be acceptable behavior.
For more background about Google Street View and some objections to it around the world, see our Google Maps Privacy: The StreetView & Wifi Scorecard article.

Sunday, December 12, 2010

Chinese Cow Manure Generates Electricity In Largest-Ever Methane Capture System

Chinese Cow Manure Generates Electricity In Largest-Ever Methane Capture System


GE Engine Four of these GE engines are converting biogas from a Chinese dairy farm into electricity. via Technology Review
A gigantic Chinese dairy farm is now the world’s largest methane farm, turning a massive source of greenhouse gas emissions into a lucrative renewable energy source.
Huishan Dairy in northeast China has installed gas-powered generators that will capture methane from fermenting cow manure, reports Technology Review. Its system is 10 times the size of typical cow manure methane capture programs — fitting for an operation with a quarter of a million cows.
The plant will process the waste from 60,000 of Huishan’s 250,000 cows to produce 5.66 megawatts of power. This is enough electricity to meet the needs of 3,500 American-size households, Tech Review says — which means it will service many more Chinese ones, because they use less energy.
The system involves an anaerobic digester breaking down cattle waste into gases. The gas is exposed to iron oxide in a process called hydrodesulfurization, which removes corrosive hydrogen sulfide. Then the biogas can be burned to produce electricity — in this case, using GE Jenbacher engines, which are already in use in dairy operations in India and a wood gas plant in Austria. The project’s huge scale could make it more economical, which has stymied methane-capture systems in the U.S. The largest system to date produced two megawatts, and only 1 percent of American dairy operators capture methane.
Energy generated at the dairy operation will go onto China’s state grid. A firm called Blue Sphere Corp., which is building the system, said the plant could also generate 619,770 tons of fertilizer and reduce carbon emissions by 180,000 tons per year.
[Technology Review]

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