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Category:July 21, 2010
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Pages in category “July 21, 2010”

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U.S. Housing prices down 9% since February

Sunday, June 26, 2005

The median house price in the United States plunged 6.5% in May to $217,000. In February of 2005, the median price of a home was $237,300.

The Economist newspaper said in its June 16th issue; “In other words, it looks like the biggest bubble in history.” by way of reference to what is happening with housing prices in the USA and much of Europe.

Japan provides an example of how a boom can turn to bust. Property prices have dropped for 14 years in a row (40% from their peak in 1991); and yet, the rise in prices in Japan during the decade before 1991 was less than the increase over the past ten years in most of today’s “housing boom” countries.

The total value of residential property rose by more than $30 trillion over the past five years in developed economies, an increase equivalent to 100% of the combined GDPs of those countries. This increase dwarfs all previous house-price booms and is greater than the global stockmarket bubble in the late 1990s. Much of the recent housing activity is being driven by speculative demand. The National Association of Realtors (NAR) reported that 23% of all American houses bought in 2004 were for investment, not for owners to live in. Another 13% were bought as second homes. NAR also found that 42% of all first-time buyers made no down-payment on their home purchase last year.

Many investors are buying solely because they think prices will keep rising, which is a warning sign of a financial bubble. In Miami, Florida, as many as half of the original buyers resell new apartments even before they are built, and properties can change hands two or three times before somebody finally moves in.

Britain’s Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors (RICS) reported prices have been falling for ten consecutive months. Forty nine percent of their surveyors reported falling prices in May. This was the weakest report since 1992 during Britain’s previous house-price bust.

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American Samoa received eight minutes warning before 2009 tsunami

Friday, September 24, 2010

People in American Samoa were given only eight minutes warning that a tsunami, which killed 32 people in the unincorporated territory, resulting from the 2009 Samoa earthquake, was approaching. A report published by the United States Congress admits that the warning was issued sixteen minutes after the 8.0 magnitude earthquake struck Samoa. The tsunami killed nearly 200 people in American Samoa, Samoa and Tonga.

The report, written by the National Research Council, describes the length of time between the earthquake and the initial tsunami warning being issued as “relatively long”, and states that the standard time for such a warning to be issued to be around two minutes. The study also revealed that one third of tsunami sensors are not working at any given time.

John Orcutt, a [seismologist and head of the committee that wrote the report, described the delay as a “major concern”, but he also said that “a large number of people” in American Samoa “didn’t understand and there were lives that were lost because people simply didn’t take the action to get away from the shore when they felt this huge earthquake. People have to understand the signs of a tsunami and head to higher ground.”

The Federal Emergency Management Agency, whose purpose is to coordinate the response to a disaster that has occurred in the United States and that overwhelms the resources of local and state authorities, and the Government of American Samoa did not respond to e-mails regarding the news.

The study also notes that people living in other coastal cities around the world are at risk of being unprepared for tsunamis that arrive soon after the earthquake occurs, stating that in many places, warnings might not be issued in time. “If the source were so close to shore that only minutes were available before the tsunami reached the coast, the public would need to recognize natural [signs of a tsunami approaching].” The report states that when they fear a tsunami is imminent, people should know to evacuate even “without official warnings.”

The report warns that because tsunamis are so rare, people living near the coast do not know what to do, but it also criticises authorities for not informing citizens of how to react when a tsunami is approaching. “Everybody thought that the tsunami was a single wave, and once the expected landfall time came and left, they thought it was over,” said Costas Synolakis, who is director of the Tsunami Research Center at the University of Southern California, and one of the report’s authors. He continued, “In fact, tsunamis are a series of waves that can last for three to four hours.”

He said that the United States must take action, training first responders in low-lying coastal areas, and adding more tsunami sensors to give advance warning of approaching waves. Synolakis added that, after receiving warning that there may have been a tsunami on the way after the Chile earthquake earlier this year, the response of firefighters at the Port of Los Angeles was poor because they were unfamiliar with how to deal with such a threat.

In the capital of American Samoa, Pago Pago, the tsunami measured 1.57 meters in height. The superintendent of the National Park of American Samoa Mike Reynolds reported four waves as high as six meters. People who experienced the quake said it was long, lasting from 90 seconds to three minutes. “Pago Pago city streets were strewn with overturned vehicles, cars, and debris. Some buildings located only slightly above sea level were completely destroyed by the waves, and power in some locations is not expected to be restored for up to a month,” Wikinews reported at the time.

Didi Afuafi, 28, who was riding on a bus in American Samoa when the tsunami struck, described her experiences. “I was scared. I was shocked. All the people on the bus were screaming, crying and trying to call their homes. We couldn’t get on cell phones. The phones just died on us. It was just crazy,” she said. “This is going to be talked about for generations.” U.S. President Barack Obama said of the disaster: “My deepest sympathies are with the families who lost loved ones and many people who have been affected by the earthquake and the tsunami.”

The people of American Samoa will, next Wednesday, according to a press release by the government, “hold island-wide services to honor the memories of the 34 loved ones who lost their lives” during the tsunami. Church services will be held at 6:00 a.m., followed at 6:48 a.m.—the time when the earthquake occured—thirty-two bells will be rung in memory of those who perished.

News briefs:April 23, 2010

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News briefs:April 23, 2010
Author:

18 Jun

 Correction — August 24, 2015 These briefs incorrectly describe BP as ‘British Petroleum’. In fact, such a company has not existed for many years as BP dropped this name when becoming a multinational company. The initials no longer stand for anything. 
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Two slain in knife attack at Swedish IKEA furniture retailer

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Two slain in knife attack at Swedish IKEA furniture retailer
Author:

18 Jun

Tuesday, August 11, 2015

Two people were killed yesterday afternoon and another seriously injured in Västerås, Sweden. The injured man is considered a suspect in the knife attack and was arrested in hospital. Another man was arrested at the scene, which was an IKEA furniture retailer. According to police, the two fatalities do not have any obvious connection to the suspects, but did know each other. The motive is, thus far, unknown.

Police were called to the scene at 13:00 local time and found three stab victims. Initially, all three were considered victims, but the status of one has been changed to suspect. The other two, a man and a woman, subsequently died from their wounds. Police have said CCTV is helping in the investigation. Local newspaper Vestmanlands Läns Tidning (VLT) has reportedly posted footage of one of the suspects being tackled by police.

VLT has further claimed to have identified the two victims as a mother and son, aged 55 and 28 respectively. According to the paper, the victims were not local residents, but did have a connection with Västerås, where they were vacationing at the time of the attack, which a police spokesperson has called “an act of madness”((sv))Swedish language: En galen händelse.

“This is the worst working day of my life”((sv))Swedish language: Det är den värsta arbetsdagen i mitt liv, said Mattias Johansson, the store manager of IKEA in Västerås, to Sveriges Television. IKEA spokesperson Anna Pilkrona-Godden told BBC News, “Our thoughts are with those affected,” and said the store is closed for the time being.

Västerås is in central Sweden, approximately 115 km (70 miles) west from the capital Stockholm. The population is roughly 110 thousand.

Seeds placed in Norwegian vault as agricultural ‘insurance policy’

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Seeds placed in Norwegian vault as agricultural ‘insurance policy’
Author:

18 Jun

Wednesday, February 27, 2008

The Svalbard Global Seed Vault, a vault containing millions of seeds from all over the world, saw its first deposits on Tuesday. Located 800 kilometers from the North Pole on the Norwegian island of Spitsbergen, the vault has been referred to by European Commission president José Manuel Barroso as a “frozen Garden of Eden“. It is intended to preserve crop supplies and secure biological diversity in the event of a worldwide disaster.

“The opening of the seed vault marks a historic turning point in safeguarding the world’s crop diversity,” said Cary Fowler, executive director of the Global Crop Diversity Trust which is in charge of collecting the seed samples. The Norwegian government, who owns the bank, built it at a cost of $9.1 million.

At the opening ceremony, 100 million seeds from 268,000 samples were placed inside the vault, where there is room for over 2 billion seeds. Each of the samples originated from a different farm or field, in order to best ensure biological diversity. These crop seeds included such staples as rice, potatoes, barley, lettuce, maize, sorghum, and wheat. No genetically modified crops were included. (Beyond politics they are generally sterile so of no use.)

It is very important for Africa to store seeds here because anything can happen to our national seed banks.

Constructed deep inside a mountain and protected by concrete walls, the “doomsday vault” is designed to withstand earthquakes, nuclear warfare, and floods resulting from global warming. Norwegian Prime Minister Jens Stoltenberg called it an “insurance policy” against such threats.

With air-conditioned temperatures of -18 degrees Celsius, experts say the seeds could last for an entire millennium. Some crops will be able to last longer, like sorghum, which the Global Crop Diversity Trust says can last almost 20 millenniums. Even if the refrigeration system fails, the vaults are expected to stay frozen for 200 years.

The Prime Minister said, “With climate change and other forces threatening the diversity of life that sustains our planet, Norway is proud to be playing a central role in creating a facility capable of protecting what are not just seeds, but the fundamental building blocks of human civilization.” Stoltenberg, along with Kenyan Nobel Peace Prize laureate Wangari Maathai, made the first deposit of rice to the vault.

“It is very important for Africa to store seeds here because anything can happen to our national seed banks,” Maathai said. The vault will operate as a bank, allowing countries to use their deposited seeds free of charge. It will also serve as a backup to the thousands of other seed banks around the world.

“Crop diversity will soon prove to be our most potent and indispensable resource for addressing climate change, water and energy supply constraints and for meeting the food needs of a growing population,” Cary Fowler said.

Turner Broadcasting apologizes for Boston scare

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Turner Broadcasting apologizes for Boston scare
Author:

17 Jun

Friday, February 2, 2007

An advertising campaign for shows on Adult Swim, a programming block on Cartoon Network, which is owned by Turner Broadcasting, gave local and federal law-enforcement a scare when devices were discovered on eight different bridges and roads.

The U.S. city of Boston was snarled in traffic jams January 31 as police investigated devices with flashing lights representing a cartoon character were placed around bridges and other areas throughout the city.

Different governmental agencies were brought in to help deal with the problem, which was later found to be no threat, as described by Boston Police Department spokesperson Eddy Chrispin. A bomb squad was deployed under supervision of the FBI, Boston police, the US Coast Guard, and different federal agencies.

The advertising campaign, for the widely popular program Aqua Teen Hunger Force, featuring characters from that series, was in place for two to three weeks in Boston, New York, Los Angeles, Chicago, and many other major US cities.

Two people have been arrested for alleged participation in this incident.

Turner Broadcasting Systems hired New York marketing firm Interference Inc. which in turn hired individuals in the various cities to place the devices promoting the cartoon’s fifth season, scheduled for a February 23 premiere. Road and rail traffic was disrupted by police as they investigated and removed the devices.

The mostly flat devices resemble two-foot-square Lite-Brites with batteries attached to the bottom and visible wires.

G4TV has dubbed the incident “Aquagate” on its broadcast of Attack of the Show segment The Feed.

It is not known why the devices took police several weeks to notice, nor why the devices were believed to be dangerous.

Computer giants attack Aussie CSIRO’s WLAN patent

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Computer giants attack Aussie CSIRO’s WLAN patent
Author:

17 Jun

Friday, May 20, 2005

Six of the world’s largest computer companies are seeking to have a patent held by the Australian Government’s Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation (CSIRO) revoked. Microsoft, Dell, Hewlett Packard, Intel, Apple and Netgear are taking legal action against the CSIRO to have its U.S. patent broken.

In 1996, the CSIRO developed technology to allow computers to be networked together wirelessly. The technology is now built in to most laptop computers and manufacturers currently pay the CSIRO a licence fee to use it.

According to CSIRO Chief Executive Dr Geoff Garrett, the system enables the speed of Wireless Local Area Network (WLAN) to be increased by a factor of five.

This isn’t the first time that the CSIRO has been involved in legal action surrounding this patent: in February 2005, it commenced legal action in the United States against Buffalo Technology, a Japanese-owned company, which had ended negotiations with CSIRO about obtaining a licence.

The Australian Government’s research arm has announced that it will fight the legal action to protect its intellectual property, the income of which it uses to fund its research. It has come under increasing pressure following the Australian Government’s cutting its funding in 2003, which has only been recently restored.

“As part of our business we create high quality intellectual property and we are prepared to defend it,” Garrett said.

“We actively encourage the utilisation of the results of research in industry and communities, both nationally and globally, and any royalty income will be reinvested in further research.”

The patent in question is U.S. Patent 5,487,069 Wireless LAN.

The case also raises issues about the recent signing of a Free Trade Agreement between Australia and the United States. Per the agreement, Australia plans to introduce American-style intellectual property law.

Molten steel kills 32 workers in Liaoning,China

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Molten steel kills 32 workers in Liaoning,China
Author:

17 Jun

Thursday, April 19, 2007

Molten steel spilled out and killed 32 workers at the Qinghe Special Steel Corporation mill in the city of Tieling in Liaoning province, China.

The ladle containing 1,500-degree-Celsius liquid steel poured into an open room, where employees take breaks in-between shift changes, at 7:45 a.m. local time. At least 6 others were injured, one of them critically.

“It is the most serious accident to hit China’s steel industry since 1949,” said China’s deputy head of the State Administration of Work Safety, Sun Huashan.

At least 4 workers have been arrested after the accident. The manager of mill, an operator, technician and a supervisor of a workshop were all arrested and are being questioned as an investigation in launched into what caused the accident to occur.

The Importance Of Professional Engineering In New Orleans La

byAlma Abell

From residential projects to commercial developments, few people realize the importance of professional Engineering in New Orleans LA. This exciting city is a tourist attraction with many happy residents. Proper engineering is part of the success of any major city. Professionally trained engineering technicians take care of an array of jobs for various residential, government and commercial entitles as well as private residents.

Land Surveying

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A leading reason to look for Engineering in New Orleans LA is to have certain land surveyed. People need to know the boundaries of their land and where the property lines are. An engineer defines property lines with accuracy. This is essential when you are selling or buying property. Accurate boundaries are also crucial when you are renovating any type of property for residential or commercial purposes. An engineer helps plan projects related to land development, construction management and subdivision design. Comprehensive planning makes all projects progress more smoothly.

Environmental Engineering

Beyond defining boundaries, engineers also need to consider environmental elements. An engineer helps with water and sewer design. Water resources are considered along with the proper handling of waste water at industrial facilities. Engineers can also determine wetland delineations. Choosing an engineering company in New Orleans LA that can handle FEMA Program Administration can be helpful in faciliating the completion of certain projects in New Orleans.

Urban Landscaping

Cities look more inviting when they have appealing landscapes. A seasoned engineer helps to plan urban design projects including landscaping and hardscaping designs. Outdoor environments are more beautiful when they are well-planned by an engineer and innovative technicians. This can even help to give tourism a boost. People prefer to visit cities with eye-catching landscaping and inviting designs.

Beyond the basics, engineers also help the county and government with major projects such as highways and bridges. From a local business to the bridge out of the city, engineers are an integral part of many important projects. Depend on Oneal-Bond Engineering to provide professional service with high quality products delivered on time and within your designated budget. For over four decades, commercial and residential clients have relied on the expertise of this leading civil engineering and surveying firm.