Monday, August 31, 2009

Japan Gets Ready for Big Elections — And Big Change

The 54-year reign of Japan's Liberal Democratic Party is expected to come to an end on Sunday in the country's first general election in four years. The main opposition party, the Democratic Party of Japan (DPJ), has little experience leading on a national level, but there are strong indications that voters will overwhelmingly support the party and its ambitious platform of reforming Japan's broken system.

After half a century Japan, it seems, is finally clamoring for change. The LDP machine, which lifted Japan from its postwar doldrums, has been unable to deliver the needs of the public for years — some would argue decades. Now, faced with an uncertain future and an economy in crisis, Japan's electorate is expected to call for a shift in direction — and also to say that they have a choice in which party leads their country.

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Saturday, August 29, 2009

Plastics patch found across 1,700 miles of Pacific

By Steve Gorman

LOS ANGELES (Reuters) - Ocean scientists recently back from a voyage to the "Great Pacific Garbage Patch" said on Thursday they had found plastic debris strewn across a 1,700-mile (2,700-km) long stretch of open sea.

The research team from the three-week Seaplex expedition said more work remains to be done to determine the full extent of the trash vortex, how it affects marine life and how it might safely be removed from the ocean.

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Friday, August 28, 2009

Dutch delay 13-year-old sailor's worldwide trip

UTRECHT, Netherlands — Dutch judges Friday called a 13-year-old girl's plan to sail solo around the world "undeniably daring and risky," but refused to scupper it completely, in a high profile clash between child care authorities and liberal Dutch parenting.

A panel of three judges at Utrecht District court ordered authorities to take temporary guardianship of Laura Dekker, delaying her plan to set sail next week on her 26-foot (8-meter) yacht Guppy and become the youngest person to sail solo around the world.

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"It's a populated day at sea today, sir......"

Thursday, August 27, 2009

17-year-old British youth sails around the world

No, this isn't the article I posted before (here)! Mike Perham is just a few months younger than the one I posted about on here before, Zac Sunderland. Talk about 15 minutes of fame.

LONDON – Freeze-dried food. Autopilot failures. Brutal storms. Accidental dunkings.

A 17-year-old British sailor endured all those trials and more to become the youngest person to sail solo around the world.

Mike Perham grabbed the record Thursday after sailing 28,000 miles (45,000 kilometers) to cross the finish line off the coast of Cornwall, in southern England, after a mere nine months.

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'Moon rock' in Dutch museum is just petrified wood

AMSTERDAM – It's not green cheese, but it might as well be.

The Dutch national museum said Thursday that one of its prized possessions, a rock supposedly brought back from the moon by U.S. astronauts, is just a piece of petrified wood.

Rijksmuseum spokeswoman Xandra van Gelder, who oversaw the investigation that proved the piece was a fake, said the museum will keep it anyway as a curiosity.

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Wednesday, August 26, 2009

Mass. Sen. Edward M. Kennedy dies at age 77

BOSTON – Sen. Edward M. Kennedy, the liberal lion of the Senate and haunted bearer of the Camelot torch after two of his brothers fell to assassins' bullets, has died at his home in Hyannis Port after battling a brain tumor. He was 77.

For nearly a half-century in the Senate, Kennedy was a steadfast champion of the working class and the poor, a powerful voice on health care, civil rights, and war and peace. To the American public, though, he was best known as the last surviving son of America's most glamorous political family, the eulogist of a clan shattered again and again by tragedy.

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Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Head of troubled Darfur peacekeeping force resigns

United Nations-African Union Mission in Darfur (UNAMID) Joint ...

By Louis Charbonneau Louis Charbonneau
1 hr 8 mins ago

UNITED NATIONS (Reuters) – The head of the joint U.N.-African Union peacekeeping mission in Sudan's conflict-torn Darfur region, who some diplomats say has been ineffective, is stepping down, the U.N. said on Tuesday.

The world body is working closely with the AU to find a replacement for Rodolphe Adada, a former foreign minister of the Republic of Congo, U.N. spokeswoman Marie Okabe said.

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Monday, August 24, 2009

Aussie town dumps Japan sister city over dolphins

MELBOURNE (AFP) – An Australian town with deep historical ties to Japan has severed its sister city relationship with a Japanese village to protest an annual dolphin slaughter, civic leaders said Monday.

Councillors in the remote West Australian town of Broome voted unanimously to end sister city ties with Taiji at a meeting on Saturday because they felt the dolphin cull was unacceptable, said Broome's mayor, Graeme Campbell.

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Friday, August 21, 2009

Plastic Breaks Down in Ocean, After All -- And Fast

Carolyn Barry
August 20, 2009

Though ocean-borne plastic trash has a reputation as an indestructible, immortal environmental villain, scientists announced yesterday that some plastics actually decompose rapidly in the ocean. And, the researchers say, that's not a good thing.

The team's new study is the first to show that degrading plastics are leaching potentially toxic chemicals such as bisphenol A into the seas, possibly threatening ocean animals, and us.

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Tuzki Bunny Emoticon

Emotional Bunny says: "And the moral of the story? Recycle, kids! It's worse than we thought!"

Thursday, August 20, 2009

When a Hurricane Approaches, Should I Open the Windows or Tape Them?

You shouldn’t do either, as it turns out.

Your house won’t explode from the difference in air pressure inside and outside if you don’t open your windows—that’s just a myth. Enough air leaks around window edges to stabilize the inside air pressure. All that opening your window will do is let in a hurricane’s ferocious winds, rain and debris to ruin all of your belongings.

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U.S.: Military copters join search for American in Costa Rica

August 20th, 2009

WASHINGTON (CNN) — The U.S. military has sent two specially equipped helicopters and 15 military personnel to aid in the search for an American missing in Costa Rica, according to the military and the missing man’s congressman.

David Gimelfarb, 28, of Chicago, Illinois, was last seen August 11, when he went hiking in a Costa Rican national park. His parents have been searching for him with the aid of the Costa Rican Red Cross and friends of the missing man.

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Hawaii Plans Quiet 50th Anniversary of Statehood; Some Want Independence for Island Chain

Monday, August 17, 2009
By Mark Niesse, Associated Press

Honolulu (AP) - Hawaii turns 50 years old as the 50th state Friday, but there will be no grand parades, no dazzling fireworks, no lavish displays of native culture.

Organizers of the observation are not even willing to call it a party. It is simply a "commemoration," one that is sensitive to a painful history of the Hawaiian monarchy's overthrow and unresolved claims of Native Hawaiians.

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Monday, August 17, 2009

Giant Rat-Eating Plant Discovered in the Philippines

Photos via the BBC

Something about carnivorous plants just strikes the imagination--what kid isn't awed/grossed out by Venus Flytraps when they first see them? To this day, as a (semi) grown man, I still admit to determining insect-eating plants to be "really cool." So what would the world think of a plant that eats rats? We're about to find out--scientists just discovered a new species of a plant that does exactly that in a remote area of the Philippines.

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Friday, August 14, 2009

Polio surge in Nigeria after vaccine virus mutates

LONDON – Polio, the dreaded paralyzing disease stamped out in the industrialized world, is spreading in Nigeria. And health officials say in some cases, it's caused by the vaccine used to fight it.

In July, the World Health Organization issued a warning that this vaccine-spread virus might extend beyond Africa. So far, 124 Nigerian children have been paralyzed this year — about twice those afflicted in 2008.

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Missing cargo ship found near Cape Verde

(Continuation of earlier article, when this ship disappeared.)

MOSCOW – A Russian-manned cargo ship that vanished last month in the Atlantic was found Friday near Cape Verde off the coast of West Africa, according to French and Russian officials. There was no immediate information about the condition of the crew or whether there was anyone else on board.

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Thursday, August 13, 2009

Where Did Dogs Become Our "Best Friends"?

John Roach
National Geographic
August 3, 2009

DNA from scrappy dogs in African villages is raising doubts about a theory that dogs first became "man's best friend" in East Asia.

Based on DNA evidence, scientists believe that domestic dogs originated from Eurasian gray wolves sometime between 15,000 and 40,000 years ago.

Read more....

Millions of salmon disappear from Canadian river

By Rod Nickel Rod Nickel Thu Aug 13, 2:05 pm ET

WINNIPEG, Manitoba (Reuters) – Millions of sockeye salmon have disappeared mysteriously from a river on Canada's Pacific Coast that was once known as the world's most fertile spawning ground for sockeye.

Up to 10.6 million bright-red sockeye salmon were expected to return to spawn this summer on the Fraser River, which empties into the Pacific ocean near Vancouver, British Columbia. The latest estimates say fewer than 1 million have returned.

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Wednesday, August 12, 2009

Russian Navy leads hunt for missing cargo ship

LONDON, England (CNN) -- An international search operation was underway Wednesday for a cargo ship which vanished after being involved in what is feared to be an unprecedented incident of piracy in European waters.

The Russian-crewed Arctic Sea, carrying a 6,500-ton cargo of timber from Finland to Algeria, was last heard of nearly two weeks ago when it passed through the English Channel, one of the world's busiest shipping lanes.

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Monday, August 10, 2009

Just in case you ever thought you heard voices....

Earth Hums, and It's "Loudest" in Europe, Americas

John Roach
August 10, 2009

Earth hums, and it's the west coasts of Europe and parts of the Americas that are the main sources of the sound, a new study says.

Since 1998 researchers have known that Earth emits a low-frequency hum inaudible to humans. The sound waves register on instruments used to detect earthquakes even when no quakes are occurring.

Read more....

Sunday, August 9, 2009

Mathematicians provide new insight into tsunamis

April 1st, 2009

A new mathematical formula that could be used to give advance warning of where a tsunami is likely to hit and how destructive it will be has been worked out by scientists at Newcastle University.

The research, led by Newcastle University's Professor Robin Johnson, was prompted by the 2004 Boxing Day disaster which devastated coastal communities in Indonesia, Sri Lanka, India and Thailand.

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Saturday, August 8, 2009

UN, aid agencies call for opening of Gaza crossings to allow rebuilding of schools

28 July 2009 – Just one month before the start of the academic year in Gaza, the education of thousands of school students is being jeopardized by the ongoing blockade of crossings into the area, a chorus of United Nations voices warned today in an urgent call for Israel to open the borders.

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Rural India all-female newspaper among winners of UN literacy awards

3 August 2009 – A newspaper produced entirely by women in rural India is among the four winners of this year’s Literacy Prizes awarded by the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) in recognition of innovative programmes designed to teach women, adolescents and other marginalized populations how to read and write.

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Friday, August 7, 2009

PICTURES: "Drained" Oceans Reveal Epic Landscapes

August 7, 2009--The seas off the Bahamas can seem like a swimming pool, but strip away the ocean (illustration at top), and the edges of the islands' shallow Great Bahama Bank--where the light blue begins to turn dark in satellite images of the Caribbean--are revealed to be steep cliffs rising some 2 miles (3.2 kilometers) above a vast plain.

By comparison, Yosemite National Park's nearly 5,000-foot-tall (1,520-meter) Half Dome (bottom) is a molehill.

Read more....

Willie Drye
for National Geographic News

August 6, 2009

Before the 2009 Atlantic hurricane season kicked off on June 1, forecasters were calling for 12 named storms, with about half developing into hurricanes.

Now, about two months into the season, zero storms have formed in the Atlantic.

That's because El NiƱo conditions over the Pacific Ocean have so far kept a lid on the 2009 hurricane season, experts say.

Read more....

Wednesday, August 5, 2009

Russia confirms submarine patrols near US

MOSCOW – A senior Russian military official said Wednesday that Russian nuclear-powered attack submarines spotted off the U.S. East Coast were on a legitimate training mission.

U.S. defense officials said Tuesday that two Russian submarines had been patrolling in international waters for several days. While the activity was reminiscent of the Cold War, the U.S. officials said the submarines had done nothing to provoke concern.

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Freed journalists home in US after NKorea pardon

BURBANK, Calif. – Two American journalists jubilantly reunited with family and friends early Wednesday upon returning to the United States with former President Bill Clinton, whose diplomatic trip to North Korea secured their release nearly five months after their arrests.

The jet carrying Euna Lee and Laura Ling, reporters for Al Gore's San Francisco-based Current TV, and Clinton arrived at Burbank's Bob Hope Airport at dawn. Clinton met with communist leader Kim Jong Il on Tuesday to secure the women's release.

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Monday, August 3, 2009

Teen becomes youngest to sail solo around world

By Scott Thompson
Decrease font
(CNN) -- A Southern California teenager has serious bragging rights: After docking back in his home state late Thursday morning, Zac Sunderland, 17, can claim to be the youngest person to sail around the world alone.

Sunderland was greeted with thunderous applause and congratulations as he arrived at Marina del Rey in his 36-foot sailboat.

"It's kind of crazy to have it done now because, I mean, for the past year I've been just fighting for the next ocean, fighting to get back. And now I'm back so it's amazing," he said.

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Saturday, August 1, 2009

Gaza Aid Work

See related video on sidebar (scroll down)---->

See Video

Leading Chinese Rights Lawyer Detained

Posted by Austin Ramzy Friday, July 31, 2009 at 12:13 am

Beijing authorities have detained the head a legal research and advocacy group, the latest blow in a continued drive against China's activist lawyers. Police took Xu Zhiyong, a human right lawyer who runs the recently shuttered Open Constitution Initiative (or Gongmeng in Chinese), from his Beijing apartment early Wednesday morning, according to a posting on the group's website. Another Gongmeng employee, Zhuang Lu, was also detained.

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