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US casualties in Afghanistan soar to record highs
The News - War-Draft
July 30, 2010
afghan war casualties
In a summer of suffering, America's military death toll in Afghanistan is rising, with back-to-back record months for U.S. losses in the grinding conflict. All signs point to more bloodshed in the months ahead, straining the already shaky international support for the war.

Six more Americans were reported killed in fighting in the south — three Thursday and three Friday — pushing the U.S. death toll for July to a record 66 and surpassing June as the deadliest month for U.S. forces in the nearly nine-year war.

U.S. officials confirmed the latest American deaths Friday but gave no further details. Five of the latest reported deaths were a result of hidden bombs — the insurgents' weapon of choice — and the sixth to an armed attack, NATO said in statements.

U.S. commanders say American casualties are mounting because more troops are fighting — and the Taliban are stiffening resistance as NATO and Afghan forces challenge the insurgents in areas they can't afford to give up without a fight. [ YAHOO NEWS ]

 
Michigan Oil Spill May Be Largest In History Of Midwest
The News - Climate-Environment
July 29, 2010
Crews along the Kalamazoo River in Michigan were busy Tuesday skimming oil and placing booms to prevent further damage from what is likely the largest oil spill in the history of the Midwest.

More than 800,000 gallons of oil made its way into the river on Monday, the result of a leak from a pipeline belonging to Enbridge Energy Partners that runs crude oil between Canada and the United States.

Enbridge President Patrick Daniel said Tuesday that the company has already placed booms along the banks of the rivers and as far away as 16 miles downstream from the spill to try to contain the oil.

 
Floods kill at least 60 in Pakistan
The News - Natural Disasters
July 29, 2010
pakistan river burst
Rivers burst their banks during deadly monsoon rains lashing Pakistan, washing away streets, battering a dam and submerging thousands of homes, officials said Thursday.

The hardest hit region was the northwest, where at least 60 people died and hundreds of thousands were stranded in the region's worst flooding in decades.

Two elderly men clung to a fence post and each other as a raging torrent swept over their heads in the northwest Peshawar area, footage on Pakistan's Dunya TV showed. It was unclear whether they survived.

People were forced to trudge through knee-deep water in some streets in the Swat Valley. A newly constructed part of a dam in the Charsadda district collapsed, while the U.N. said it had reports that 5,000 homes were underwater in that area. At least 10 of 60 people reported dead in the previous 24 hours died near Peshawar when their homes crumbled. [ YAHOO NEWS ]

 
Doomsday shelters making a comeback
The News - Current Events
July 28, 2010
doomsday shelter
Jason Hodge, father of four children from Barstow, Calif., says he's "not paranoid" but he is concerned, and that's why he bought space in what might be labeled a doomsday shelter.

Hodge bought into the first of a proposed nationwide group of 20 fortified, underground shelters - the Vivos shelter network - that are intended to protect those inside for up to a year from catastrophes such as a nuclear attack , killer asteroids or tsunamis , according to the project's developers.

"It's an investment in life," says Hodge, a Teamsters union representative. "I want to make sure I have a place I can take me and my family if that worst-case scenario were to happen."

There are signs that underground shelters, almost-forgotten relics of the Cold War era, are making a comeback.

 
2017 - The Year America Dissolved
The News - Cover-Up-Conspiracy
July 28, 2010

It was 2017. Clans were governing America.

The first clans organized around local police forces. The conservatives’ war on crime during the late 20th century and the Bush/Obama war on terror during the first decade of the 21st century had resulted in the police becoming militarized and unaccountable.

As society broke down, the police became warlords. The state police broke apart, and the officers were subsumed into the local forces of their communities. The newly formed tribes expanded to encompass the relatives and friends of the police.

The dollar had collapsed as world reserve currency in 2012 when the worsening economic depression made it clear to Washington’s creditors that the federal budget deficit was too large to be financed except by the printing of money. [ INFOWARS.COM ]

 
In Photos: Huge landslide in China
The News - Natural Disasters
July 27, 2010
massive landslide china

A village in southern China is suffering after an enormous landslide - triggered by an overwhelming rainstorm - buried dozens of homes, the Associated Press reports. Photos of the aftermath paint a stark picture of lives and livelihoods destroyed.

This is only the most recent flood and landslide to strike China. So far this year, floods have killed at least 823 people and inflicted tens of billions of dollars in property damage - and more rains are expected this week.

[ In Photos: Huge landslide in China ]

 
Asteroid Might Collide With the Earth in 2182
The News - Science-Astronomy
July 27, 2010
asteroid impact earth 2182

The potentially hazardous asteroid '(101955) 1999 RQ36' has a one-in-a-thousand chance of impacting the Earth, and more than half of this probability indicates that this could happen in the year 2182, based on a global study in which Spanish researchers have been involved. Knowing this fact may help design in advance mechanisms aimed at deviating the asteroid's path.

"The total impact probability of asteroid '(101955) 1999 RQ36' can be estimated in 0.00092 -- approximately one-in-a-thousand chance -- but what is most surprising is that over half of this chance (0.00054) corresponds to 2182," explains María Eugenia Sansaturio, co-author of the study and researcher of Universidad de Valladolid (UVA). The research also involved scientists from the University of Pisa (Italy), the Jet Propulsion Laboratory (USA) and INAF-IASF-Rome (Italy).

Scientists have estimated and monitored the potential impacts for this asteroid through 2200 by means of two mathematical models (Monte Carlo Method and line of variations sampling). Thus, the so called Virtual Impactors (VIs) have been searched. VIs are sets of statistical uncertainty leading to collisions with the Earth on different dates of the XXII century. Two VIs appear in 2182 with more than half the chance of impact.

 
Violent Spacequakes Shake Earth's Magnetic Field
The News - Science-Astronomy
July 27, 2010
violent space earthquake magnetic field

Like an earthquake in space, so-called spacequakes are temblors in Earth's magnetic field caused by plasma flying off the sun that could help generate the colorful auroras that dance high in Earth's atmosphere, a new study suggests.

While felt most strongly in Earth orbit, these quakes can also reach all the way down to the surface of Earth itself.

"Magnetic reverberations have been detected at ground stations all around the globe, much like seismic detectors measure a large earthquake," said Vassilis Angelopoulos of UCLA, principle investigator of NASA's THEMIS spacecraft. And these rumbles can pack a punch.

"The total energy in a spacequake can rival that of a magnitude 5 or 6 earthquake," according to Evgeny Panov of the Space Research Institute in Austria. Panov is first author of a paper reporting the results of a study on spacequakes in the April 2010 issue of Geophysical Research Letters.
 
Man hit by six meteorites is being 'targeted by aliens'
The News - Weird-Strange
July 27, 2010

A Bosnian man who claims he is being targeted by extraterrestrials after a series of meteorite strikes on his house has now been hit by a sixth space rock in the space of a few years.

Radivoje Lajic first came to international attention in 2008, shortly after the fifth meteorite had crashed into the roof of his house in the northern village of Gornji Lajici.

And now, within the past month, another rock has hit the roof of his house, in defiance of all the odds - making it six strikes since the plague of meteorites began in 2007.
 
Scientists Confirm Underwater Plumes Are From Spill
The News - Climate-Environment
July 26, 2010
gulf oil spill plumes

Florida researchers said Friday that they had for the first time conclusively linked vast plumes of microscopic oil droplets drifting in the Gulf of Mexico to the Deepwater Horizon disaster.

The scientists, from the University of South Florida, matched samples taken from the plumes with oil from the leaking well provided by BP. The findings were the first direct confirmation that the plumes were linked to the spill, although federal scientists had said there was overwhelming circumstantial evidence tying them to BP’s well.

The discovery of the plumes several weeks into the oil leak alarmed scientists, who feared that clouds of oil particles could wreak havoc on marine life far below the surface. Plumes have been detected as far as 50 miles from the wellhead, although oil concentrations at those distances are extremely low, about 750 parts per billion.This is well below the level considered acutely toxic for fish and marine organisms, but could still affect eggs and larvae, the scientists fear.

 
NASA's Deep Space Camera Locates Host of 'Earths'
The News - Science-Astronomy
July 26, 2010
planets like earth found

Scientists celebrated Sunday after finding more than 700 suspected new planets -- including up to 140 similar in size to Earth -- in just six weeks of using a powerful new space observatory.

Early results from NASA’s Kepler Mission, a small satellite observing deep space, suggested planets like Earth were far more common than previously thought.

Past discoveries suggested most planets outside our solar system were gas giants such as Jupiter and Saturn -- but the new evidence tipped the balance in favor of solid worlds.

 
Ex-CIA chief: Strike on Iran seems more likely now
The News - War-Draft
July 26, 2010
A former CIA director says military action against Iran now seems more likely because no matter what the U.S. does diplomatically, Tehran keeps pushing ahead with its suspected nuclear program.

Michael Hayden, a CIA chief under President George W. Bush, says that during his tenure a strike was "way down the list" of options. But he tells CNN's "State of the Union" that such action now "seems inexorable."

He predicts Iran will build its program to the point where it's just below having an actual weapon. Hayden says that would be as destabilizing to the region as the real thing.

U.S. officials have said military action remains an option if sanctions fail to deter Iran.

Iran says its nuclear work is for peaceful purposes such as power generation. [ YAHOO NEWS ]

 
Solar sail camera spots cosmic explosion
The News - Science-Astronomy
July 23, 2010
gamma ray burst camera

A camera riding on the world's first deep space solar sail has caught managed to observe a violent gamma-ray burst, one of the most powerful explosions in the universe, Japanese space officials have announced.

The Ikaros solar sail detected the first gamma-ray burst with its onboard Gamma-ray burst Polarized light detector (GAP) on July 7, Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency (JAXA) said in an announcement.

Gamma-ray bursts are the dying explosion of large stars that have run out of fuel. The collapsing star cores can form either black holes or neutron stars, and emit an intense burst of high-energy gamma-rays. [ MSNBC ]

 
Tropical storm warning for site of BP oil spill
The News - Current Events
July 22, 2010
gulf spill tropical storm

BP workers in the Gulf of Mexico have stopped drilling a relief well and are preparing to evacuate the oil spill site as a tropical depression nears.

There is a 20-30% chance of tropical storm force winds (39mph/63kph or more) at the spill site by Tuesday, the National Hurricane Center says.

Because of the slow-moving vessels at the spill site, evacuation plans are already well under way. Work on the relief well could be suspended for up to two weeks.

A "packer" - a plug used during storms - has been placed in the relief well to stabilise it. The government's incident commander, Thad Allen, along with BP, must decide whether to leave the well shut during any storm, or to open it and allow oil to gush out into the sea.

The tropical depression is over the Bahamas but is travelling west-northwest at 15mph. It could become a tropical storm later day. Storm warnings are in force in the Bahamas and on much of the Florida coastline. [ BBC NEWS ]

 
Largest ever tornado study ends
The News - Natural Disasters
July 21, 2010
largest tornado study ends

Storm-chasing scientists have wrapped up the most dangerous stage of the largest-ever study on why some storms become tornadoes and others don't.

While their mission didn't produce any "Aha!" moments, the storm hunters were able to study more than 20 tornadoes and gather more information on these storms than ever before, said team member Joshua Wurman of the Center for Severe Weather Research in Boulder, Colo. The findings are leading to a greater understanding of tornadoes, and scientists expect they will ultimately improve tornado warnings and short-term severe weather forecast.
 
Large China oil spill threatens sea life, water
The News - Climate-Environment
July 21, 2010
china oil spill
China's largest reported oil spill emptied beaches along the Yellow Sea as its size doubled Wednesday, while cleanup efforts included straw mats and frazzled workers with little more than rubber gloves.

An official warned the spill posed a "severe threat" to sea life and water quality as China's latest environmental crisis spread off the shores of Dalian, once named China's most livable city. One cleanup worker has drowned, his body coated in crude.

"I've been to a few bays today and discovered they were almost entirely covered with dark oil," said Zhong Yu with environmental group Greenpeace China, who spent the day on a boat inspecting the spill.

"The oil is half-solid and half liquid and is as sticky as asphalt," she told The Associated Press by telephone.

The oil had spread over 165 square miles (430 square kilometers) of water five days since a pipeline at the busy northeastern port exploded, hurting oil shipments from part of China's strategic oil reserves to the rest of the country. Shipments remained reduced Wednesday. [ YAHOO NEWS ]

 
Avoidable Disasters - Major (and Deadly) Human Screw-ups
The News - Current Events
July 21, 2010

While BP seems to have gotten the flow of oil in the Gulf of Mexico under control for now, investigations suggest corners were cut for the sake of profit and expediency, leading to the Deepwater Horizon rig explosion and fire that killed 11 workers and started the oil leak.

Taking shortcuts is one thing; purposely shutting down existing safety systems is a very different matter, and according to new information, serious safety violations may have led to the worst mine disaster in the last 25 years, the West Virginia mine explosion that killed 29 workers in April.[ LIVE SCIENCE ]

 
2010 U.S. hurricane forecast now 19 named storms
The News - Natural Disasters
July 21, 2010
Private weather forecaster WSI Corp cut its forecast for named storms in the 2010 Atlantic hurricane season on Tuesday, but still sees an active season with water temperatures and wind conditions conducive to violent storms.

In its latest tropical storm update, WSI called for 19 named storms, down from 20 in its June forecast, but maintained its outlook for 11 hurricanes and 5 intense hurricanes of category three or higher. The 2010 forecast is well above the 1950-2009 averages of 10 named storms, 6 hurricanes, and 2 intense hurricanes.

"Record warm tropical Atlantic Ocean temperatures and an enabling wind shear environment should result in a very active tropical season this year," said Dr. Todd Crawford, WSI's chief meteorologist. The disappearance of the El Nino event and a decrease in vertical wind shear both point to the potential for more Atlantic storms, WSI said.

 
Earth at risk as Solar flare activity rises
The News - Science-Astronomy
July 20, 2010
solar flare activity increase

Scientists say the sun's volative behavior could cause widespread problems on Earth.

The sun's erratic and sometimes volatile behavior has the potential to cause real problems here on Earth, and protecting our planet will require an international effort - according to scientists who gathered recently for a meeting about the effects of solar activity.

Streams of charged particles that fly off the sun can interfere with electronics on Earth and satellites orbiting our planet. For example, during a particularly intense solar storm in 1989, power to an entire Canadian province was knocked out. Since then, other storms have knocked a handful of satellites out of service.

With Earth becoming more and more dependent on technology, the risk from solar flares is only going up, according to experts.

 
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