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Showing posts from June 9, 2014

German nuclear waste may be headed to South Carolina site

The U.S. Department of Energy said on Wednesday it will study the environmental risk of importing spent nuclear fuel from class="mandelbrot_refrag"> Germany that contains highly enriched uranium, a move believed to be the first for the United States. The department said it is considering a plan to ship the nuclear waste from class="mandelbrot_refrag"> Germany to the Savannah River Site, a federal facility in South Carolina. The 310-acre site already holds millions of gallons of high-level nuclear waste in tanks. The waste came from reactors in South Carolina that produced plutonium for nuclear weapons from 1953 to 1989.   true       The Energy Department said it wants to remove 900 kilograms (1,984 pounds) of uranium the United States sold to Germany years ago and render it safe under U.S. nuclear non-proliferation treaties. A technique for the three-year process of extracting the uranium, which is contained in graphite balls, is being developed at t

Volcanic eruption disrupts air travel in Alaska

A volcanic eruption in Alaska that sent a plume of ash and smoke high into the sky forced a regional airline to cancel flights on Wednesday, even as scientists downgraded a rare red alert warning for volcanic activity. Pavlof class="mandelbrot_refrag"> Volcano , which has been spewing ash and lava for years in an uninhabited region nearly 600 miles (966 km) southwest of Anchorage, began erupting with new intensity this week and prompted Alaska scientists to issue their highest volcanic alert in five years on Monday. Regional airline PenAir began cancelling flights late on Tuesday from Anchorage to a pair of Aleutian Island destinations, Cold Bay and Dutch Harbor, because of a mix of high winds and volcanic ash from Pavlof class="mandelbrot_refrag"> Volcano , PenAir spokeswoman Missy Roberts said.   true       Cancellations continued through Wednesday as the airline continued monitoring activity hourly. PenAir serves many communities that are off the

Despite political uproar, Kentucky could meet EPA emissions goal

Kentucky may be well positioned to meet a carbon emission target for power plants set by federal regulators, even as U.S. Senate candidates there blast the plan, saying it will cripple the state's class="mandelbrot_refrag"> coal industry. The Environmental Protection Agency seems to have listened to feedback from state officials before the rollout on Monday, said John Lyons, Kentucky's assistant secretary for climate policy. The result: the Bluegrass State may be able to meet EPA targets between now and 2030. "I appreciate EPA’s stakeholder process. Undoubtedly they did listen to our concerns," Lyons told Reuters. Shedding the carbon intensity of its fleet by 400 pounds of CO2/MWh will rely on retiring class="mandelbrot_refrag"> coal plants and shifting to class="mandelbrot_refrag"> natural gas , measures already planned to meet separate EPA rules on slashing mercury emissions. "How far down the road that gets us

Alaska fishing community sues U.S. interior secretary over road plan

An isolated Alaska class="mandelbrot_refrag"> fishing community filed a federal lawsuit on Wednesday challenging a decision by Interior Secretary Sally Jewell that stopped it from building a road through a wildlife preserve to an all-weather airport. King Cove, in the Aleutian Islands chain, is inaccessible by land. It is seeking to reverse Jewell's decision last December that halted the community's a plan for the 10-mile (16-km) road using land exchanged as part of a 2009 plan approved by Congress. Jewell cited the potential for "irreversible damage" to wildlife in the Izembek National Wildlife Refuge, home to many shorebirds and waterfowl, posed by the gravel road that would have linked King Cove to the airport in Cold Bay.   true       No roads lead in or out of King Cove, a coastal community of about 1,000 residents where the chief industry is class="mandelbrot_refrag"> fishing . Supporters of the road cite access to healthcare a

Mineral site key to Antarctica's history gets protected status

class="mandelbrot_refrag"> Antarctica pact partners have set up a new protected geological site on the frozen continent in a bid to preserve rare minerals that could shed light on the region's history and evolution over millions of years. _0"> At a meeting in Brazil last month, the signatories to the Antarctic Treaty designated the Larsemann Hills region of the continent as an Antarctic Specially Protected Area. Geological analysis shows that one billion years ago, the nearby Stornes Peninsula was a shallow inland basin, rich in boron and phosphorus, the key chemical constituents of the rare minerals.   true       At the time of their discovery, four of the minerals - boralsilite, stornesite, chopinite and tassieite - were new to science, while the rest were extremely rare elsewhere. "It's fantastic to see these extremely unusual, unique minerals being protected, and being recognized for their geological significance," Chris Carson, the he

Kenyan police seize 300 elephant tusks being packed at port city

Kenyan authorities seized 228 whole elephant tusks and 74 others in pieces as they were being packed for export in the port city of Mombasa, police and wildlife officials said. Poaching has surged in the last few years across sub-Saharan Africa, where gangs kill elephants and rhinos to feed Asian demand for ivory and horns for use in traditional medicines. Wildlife authority Kenya Wildlife Service (KWS) officers and police confiscated the ivory in a raid at a warehouse in the port city of Mombasa, KWS said in a statement.   true       “The ivory was ... was being prepared for loading and export to a destination we are yet to establish," Nelson Marwa, Mombasa County commissioner, told journalists in Mombasa. "Our officers had to break into the store to access them.” A Reuters reporter at the scene said the tusks were being packed in sacks made of nylon and sisal. Police arrested one suspect and were searching for another who escaped, Marwa said, noting that the suspect

Indian monsoon may arrive in 24 hours: weather official

India's southern coast could witness the arrival of this year's monsoon in the next day or so after sporadic rains in recent days heralded the arrival of the wet season that is crucial to farmers in Asia's third-largest class="mandelbrot_refrag"> economy . "Conditions have turned favorable for the monsoon onset in about 24 hours," an official of the class="mandelbrot_refrag"> India Meteorological Department (IMD) told Reuters on Thursday. In a typical year, the monsoon begins on or around June 1 but government forecasters had forecast a five-day delay and below-average rainfall in this year's wet season. Rains are vital to rejuvenate an class="mandelbrot_refrag"> economy battling its longest economic slowdown since the 1980s and to cool inflation that has averaged nearly 10 percent for the past two years. The farm sector accounts for 14 percent of India's nearly $2 trillion economy, with two-thirds of

U.S. weather forecaster sees 70 percent chance of El Nino

The U.S. weather forecaster said there was an increased likelihood of an El Nino weather phenomenon striking during the Northern Hemisphere summer in its monthly outlook on Thursday. _0"> The Climate Prediction Center, an agency of the National Weather Service, said there was a 70 percent chance of El Nino, which can wreak havoc on global crops, during the summer and 80 percent during the fall and winter. (Reporting by Josephine Mason; Editing by Lisa Von Ahn)

Global warming damages corals vital to small islands: UN

Global warming is causing trillions of dollars of damage to coral reefs, aggravating risks to tropical small island states threatened by rising sea levels, a U.N. report said on Thursday. The rise in sea levels off some islands in the Western Pacific was four times the global average, with gains of 1.2 cms (0.5 inch) a year from 1993 to 2012, due to shifts in winds and currents, said the United Nations' Environment Programme (UNEP). The study, released to mark the U.N.'s World Environment Day on June 5, said a warming of waters from the Indian Ocean to the Caribbean was damaging reefs by killing the tiny animals that form corals with their stony skeletons.   true       "These 52 nations, home to over 62 million people, emit less than one per cent of global greenhouse gases, yet they suffer disproportionately from the climate change that global emissions cause," said Achim Steiner, head of UNEP. "Some islands could become uninhabitable and others are faced w

China aims to cap greenhouse gas output soon, but no date set

class="mandelbrot_refrag"> China plans to cap its soaring emissions of greenhouse gases as soon as possible but has not yet decided when, Beijing's top negotiator at U.N. climate talks said on Thursday. Xie Zhenhua, vice chairman of China's National Development and Reform Commission, also welcomed U.S. measures to combat global warming, saying both nations were "working very hard to address climate change". "We will try our utmost to peak as early as possible," Xie told reporters on the sidelines of U.N. talks on global warming in Bonn, class="mandelbrot_refrag"> Germany , referring to greenhouse gases. "Opinions of the scientists and scholars differ quite a lot."   true       Actions by class="mandelbrot_refrag"> China and the United States, the top emitters of greenhouse gases, will be benchmarks for the ambitions of other nations when world leaders meet at a summit in Paris in late 2015 to agree a

G7 leaders back 2015 climate deal, aim to build on U.S. momentum

The world's leading industrialised nations gave their backing on Thursday to a new global deal on climate change in 2015 after promises from the United States at the start of the week galvanised flagging momentum. The United States' plan to cut emissions from power plants by 30 percent by 2030 prompted the European Union into a defence of its own record. class="mandelbrot_refrag"> China , the world's biggest emitter of greenhouse gases, also gave a hint that it would set some kind of cap on its emissions. In a communique after summit talks in Brussels, the G7 leaders affirmed their "strong determination" to adopt a new global deal in 2015 that is "ambitious, inclusive and reflects changing global circumstances". It said the G7 nations - Britain, Canada, class="mandelbrot_refrag"> France , class="mandelbrot_refrag"> Germany , class="mandelbrot_refrag"> Italy , Japan and the United States - rema

US agency: Faulty blowout preventer contributed to deadly BP spill

A faulty blowout preventer and weaknesses in how companies analyze potential hazards in offshore oil and gas operations contributed to BP Plc's deadly Gulf of class="mandelbrot_refrag"> Mexico oil spill more than four years ago, the U.S. Chemical Safety Board said on Thursday. _0"> Despite tougher regulations, a slew of other investigations and an ongoing federal civil trial with potentially billions of dollars at stake, companies may still drill without demonstrating that they have adequate barriers in place to prevent deadly accidents, the agency said. The CSB, which has no enforcement authority but can recommend safer practices, routinely probes accidents at chemical plants and refineries. The BP investigation was its first involving an offshore accident.   true       The CSB did not examine all aspects of the Macondo blowout and explosion that killed 11 men and unleashed more than 4 million barrels of oil into the Gulf. Rather than re-examine issues

Low over Bay of Campeche has 40 percent chance of becoming cyclone: NHC

A low-pressure area over southern Bay of Campeche has a 40 percent chance of becoming a tropical cyclone during the next 48 hours, the U.S. National Hurricane Center (NHC) said on Friday. _0"> "Some development of this system is still possible over the next day or two while the low drifts generally northwestward toward eastern class="mandelbrot_refrag"> Mexico ," the Miami-based weather forecasters said. This disturbance has potential to produce extremely heavy rains and life-threatening flash floods and mud slides over parts of southeastern class="mandelbrot_refrag"> Mexico during the next few days, the NHC added. (Reporting by Anupam Chatterjee in Bangalore. Editing by Andre Grenon)

Storm over Bay of Campeche has 50 percent chance of becoming cyclone: NHC

A low-pressure system over the southern Bay of Campeche has a 50 percent chance of becoming a tropical cyclone during the next 48 hours, the U.S. National Hurricane Center (NHC) said on Friday. _0"> "Regardless of development, this disturbance will continue to produce extremely heavy rains, along with life-threatening flash floods and mud slides, over portions of southeastern class="mandelbrot_refrag"> Mexico during the next few days," the Miami-based weather forecaster said. (Reporting by Ratul Ray Chaudhuri in Bangalore. Editing by Jane Merriman)

Monsoon reaches India coast slightly later than usual

Monsoon rains reached India's southern coast a few days later than usual on Friday, offering relief to farmers eagerly waiting for the start of the wet season that is crucial for their summer crops. But the slight delay in the monsoon's onset is unlikely to have a major impact on sowing of rice, pulses and cotton that has started in many growing areas of northwest and southern class="mandelbrot_refrag"> India , taking advantage of pre-monsoon showers. The formation of a possible El Nino weather phenomenon, which can cause drought in South Asia, is only expected to have an impact later in the four-month rainy season. "We don't foresee any El Nino impact in the first month of the monsoon season," said B.P. Yadav, head of the National Weather Forecasting Centre at the class="mandelbrot_refrag"> India Meteorological Department in New Delhi. Last month, the IMD forecast a patchy monsoon season with a high chance of El Nino. [ID:nL3N0N

China says aid a key to climate deal, not just CO2 cuts

China led calls by emerging economies on Friday for the rich to raise financial aid to the poor as a precondition for a class="mandelbrot_refrag"> United Nations deal to combat global warming. Many countries at U.N. climate negotiations from June 4-15 have welcomed news this week that the United States plans to slash emissions from power plants, but emerging nations said cash was just as important to unlock progress. "When the financing is resolved, this will set a very good foundation to negotiate a good agreement," China's chief negotiator Xie Zhenhua told delegates from about 170 nations. A global U.N. deal to curb rising greenhouse gas emissions is meant to be decided in Paris in late 2015 to slow global warming that a U.N. panel of experts says will cause more heatwaves, floods and rising sea levels. Xie said developed nations, which have promised to raise aid to $100 billion a year by 2020, should have legally binding obligations to provide cla

Californians say drought is problem but don't want taxes to fund projects

As California struggles through its third year of drought, nearly half of state residents said they would be willing to pay higher water bills to ensure a more stable supply, a new poll showed on Friday. The poll, released by the University of Southern California and the Los Angeles Times, comes as lawmakers in the most populous U.S. state are fighting over ways to ease the drought's impact. Some have called for increased spending to build reservoirs and underground storage, while others have stressed conservation. Some 46 percent told the pollsters they would be willing to pay higher water bills to shore up supply, slightly more than the 42 percent who said they would not. But Californians stopped short of being willing to spend taxpayer money: 51 percent said the state should not spend taxpayer dollars to improve storage and delivery systems, compared to 36 percent who were in favor. The drought is expected to cost thousands of farm jobs and cause 400,000 acres of cropland t

Two killed in Kosovo power plant blast, supplies hit

A hydrogen tank exploded at Kosovo's second biggest power plant on Friday, killing two people and injuring 14, officials said. The 40-year-old Kosovo A plant, considered one of the worst polluters in Europe, was shut down following the blast that was heard in the capital, Pristina, some 10 km (6 miles) away. The explosion threatened electricity supplies in a country already plagued by blackouts. Power imports were increased to cover demand. "We have found two bodies," Edmond Nulleshi, a manager at the Kosovo's Energy Corporation (KEK), told Reuters. Local television footage showed soldiers rescuing a worker who had been trapped in the building for more than five hours. An investigation has been launched into the incident. The Yugoslav-era plant and the larger Kosovo B account for 90 percent of electricity generation in the Balkan country, which still suffers chronic power shortages 15 years after breaking free of Serbia in a 1998-99 war during the collaps

Pennsylvania voters support fracking, but not in parks: poll

Pennsylvania voters are in favor of using the fracking technique to produce class="mandelbrot_refrag"> natural gas in the state, but oppose Republican Governor Tom Corbett's plan to drill under state parks and forests, a Quinnipiac University poll revealed on Friday. Some 58 percent of the state's voters support fracking, a process in which rock formations are cracked and infused with chemical-laced water to extract class="mandelbrot_refrag"> natural gas . Thirty three percent oppose it. But a similar majority, 57 percent, said they would oppose fracking under state parks and forests, with 36 percent supporting the idea. Opinion is split largely along party lines, with 71 percent of Democrats and 58 percent of Independents opposed, and 58 percent of Republicans in favor.   true       "People in Pennsylvania have a high regard for the natural gas industry," said Terry Madonna, a professor of public affairs at Franklin & Marshall Co

Miami dredge project to restart, ending efforts to save coral

The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers on Friday denied a request from researchers seeking more time to save an underwater field of coral in a Miami channel where dredging is set to begin this weekend. "Taxpayers would be paying $50,000 to $100,000 a day to keep that dredge on standby and that's not happening," said Susan Jackson, a corps spokeswoman. The channel is being deepened to 50 feet (15 meters) in the hopes of attracting the larger cargo ships expected to pass through the expanded Panama Canal when it is completed. Researchers began daily dives to gather coral in and around the dredge site on May 26 after Illinois-based dredging contractor Great Lakes Dredge & Dock finished relocating about 900 more mature corals to an artificial reef as required by the Army Corps of Engineers.   true       "We've been able to remove more than 2,000 corals in less than two weeks and if we had another two weeks we'd get thousands more," said Colin Foord, a ma

Utah approves first crow hunt to cull growing population

Utah will hold its first ever crow hunt this fall as authorities try to contain the noise and mess from a population of the big, black birds that officials say has tripled over the last 12 years. The state's Wildlife Board voted 3-2 on Thursday to let hunters cull up to 10 crows each per day in September, and then again between Dec. 1 and Feb. 28, an official said on Friday. State data shows the crow population has grown some 300 percent since 2002, in part because they live mostly in urban areas across northern Utah where they are relatively safe from predators and have easy access to food. As communities have grown bigger along the Wasatch Front, the number of crows has grown alongside them, said Blair Stringham, the state's migratory game bird coordinator. "It's gotten to be a nuisance issue," Stringham said. "When they roost, it can be in groups of 1,000 or more, so there's a lot of noise associated with that and a lot of fecal matter and mess,

To make a hit, you've got to get personal, says Pharrell Williams

Pharrell Williams pauses, takes a breath and considers how the past year has unfolded for the R&B producer and singer: four Grammy Awards and three mega hit singles including a song that has galvanized countless fans to class="mandelbrot_refrag"> express how they're "happy." And the key, says the 41-year-old known simply as Pharrell, in the midst of a career second act, has been tapping into audiences' thirst for sincerity and heartfelt personal stories. "I think we've entered a new singer-songwriter era, regardless of the genre or music," said Pharrell, who produced and performed on Robin Thicke's "Blurred Lines," the raunchy R&B hit that was last year's top song across the U.S. Billboard music charts.   true       "People want a story. They want a story they can connect to," he said while promoting his Tuesday concert from New York's Apollo Theater, which will be live streamed and directed by

Gwar frontman David Brockie died of heroin overdose: coroner

David Brockie, frontman for the Grammy nominated "extraterrestrial" metal band Gwar, died of an accidental heroin overdose in March, the Virginia State Medical Examiner's Office said on Tuesday. Brockie, 50, who gained an international fan base performing as a 43-billion-year-old alien vocalist for the satirical band, was found by his roommate on March 23 dead in his Richmond home. Brockie died from "acute heroin toxicity and the manner of death is accident,” Arkuie Williams, administrator of the medical examiner's office, said in an email.   true       U.S. deaths from heroin have soared as prescription painkiller abusers turn to the drug because it is cheaper. Across the United States, the number of fatal opiate overdoses increased 45 percent from 2006 to 2010. Brockie's band had returned earlier in March from a tour in class="mandelbrot_refrag"> Japan . Jack Flanagan, the band’s manager, could not immediately be reached for comment on

U.S. considers updating music licensing accords with ASCAP, BMI

The U.S. Department of Justice is considering changing or scrapping agreements it reached with two music licensing giants more than 70 years ago to freshen them up for the Internet age, the department said in a statement. _0"> The move follows a push from the American Society of Composers, Authors and Publishers (ASCAP) and Broadcast Music Inc (BMI), which license about 90 percent of music heard on online services, in movies, televisions and class="mandelbrot_refrag"> restaurants . ASCAP represents artists including Beyonce, Billy Joel, Katy Perry and Hans Zimmer while BMI is home to Lady Gaga, Willie Nelson, Carlos Santana, Rihanna and others. Songwriters use music publishers to promote their works, and to do certain licensing tasks - for example, the licensing of "mechanical" rights, for the sale and distribution of recordings.   true       Publishers and songwriters typically use BMI and ASCAP, both not-for-profit entities, to collectively licen

Broadcasters say they are left in dark over D-Day TV costs

An international group of commercial broadcasters and global news agencies complained on Monday about access to this week's 70th anniversary of the D-Day landings, fearing heavy costs to secure access to images. _0">     class="mandelbrot_refrag"> France will on Friday host the United States' class="mandelbrot_refrag"> Barack Obama , Britain's Queen Elizabeth II, Russia's Vladimir Putin and other world leaders for a day of events around the beaches of Normandy, where Allied troops in 1944 mounted history's largest amphibious assault to speed the end of World War Two.     But what could be the last big commemoration with a major gathering of surviving veterans is mired in a row over French broadcasters' handling of the so-called "pool" - the widespread arrangement under which media groups agree to share material.     While Europe's national, often publicly-run broadcasters can secure access to the images via

'Fault in Our Stars' tugs at heart strings in life-affirming tale

In a summer of blockbusters with superheroes, a rampaging monster and a wicked fairy, "The Fault in Our Stars," the film adaptation of John Green's best-seller, is a heart-wrenching story of young love that could become a box-office hit. Green's 2012 young adult novel has sold 10.7 million copies worldwide, providing a built-in fan base for the film that opens Friday in U.S. theaters. The 36-year-old prize-winning author, also known for the vlogbrothers video blog on YouTube, has been tweeting about the film to his 2.47 million followers. And Fandango said it is the biggest pre-selling romantic drama in the online ticket-seller's 14-year history. "The Fault in Our Stars"- the title based on a Shakespeare quote - features Shailene Woodley and Ansel Elgort, who last appeared together in the dystopian thriller "Divergent." "It is a movie that celebrates life and is incredibly hopeful," Woodley, 22, said in an interview. "It is