Tuesday, February 28, 2012

Water bills expected to triple in some parts of U.S.

I never said anything about water being the decisive factor in how the US is mapped out in the future :)


Many consumers could see their water bills double or even triple, as the country attempts to overhaul its aging water system over the next 25 years.

A new study by the American Water Works Association found that repairing and expanding the U.S. drinking water system between 2011 and 2035 will cost at least $1 trillion, an amount that will largely be paid for by jacking up household water bills.

Thursday, February 23, 2012

Denver family stranded after passport denied because of crease

Your papers, citizen:


A Denver family was supposed to be in Belize this week enjoying a beach getaway with their loved ones.

Instead, they’re in a hotel room in Dallas, TX because an American Airlines official there claimed they had a mutilated passport.

“We started at Denver International Airport, where we checked in and all our passports were checked very thoroughly,” said Kyle Gosnell.

Gosnell, his wife Dana, and their young son, Kye, received boarding passes all the way through to Belize City.

But in Dallas, they hit a roadblock. “They took a look at our passports and said that my passport was mutilated, therefore I wasn’t able to fly,” Gosnell said.

Little Kye’s passport has a crease on the back cover, which Gosnell says came from him accidentally sitting on the passport.

His passport was questioned, but not denied. It was Kyle Gosnell’s that was the real problem. It has a small crease on the back cover, and is overall weathered and worn.

While some travelers may consider that a badge of honor, of sorts, the government doesn’t.

Ray Priest, owner of International Passport Visas in Denver, said your passport isn’t actually yours at all; it belongs to the US government.

“To have a passport is privilege, it’s not entitled to you by citizenship,” Priest said. He said the issue may be with a microchip embedded in the back of all new passports. “They have no reason in the world to let you travel if it’s been damaged,” Priest said. “It’s like cutting your photo out or something if that chip doesn’t work.”

Kyle Gosnell has used this passport to travel to Belize before. The family just wants there to be more uniform policies.

“There was no protocol,” said Dana Gosnell. “They don’t have the same system of rules for the Denver airport that they do for the Dallas airport.”

But Priest called this a fair warning for other travelers. “This is done for national security, for whatever reason they can’t make an exception, period,” he said. American Airlines is paying for the family’s hotel.

A spokesperson for the airline didn’t give FOX31 an official statement, but said it is within the airline’s rights to refuse a traveler for a passport that might not be able to be scanned.

The family is going to the passport office Tuesday to hopefully get new documents and continue with their scheduled trip to Belize.

The myth of the eight-hour sleep


Tuesday, February 21, 2012

Italian police seize $6 trillion in fake T-bonds


Italian police said on Friday they had seized about $6 trillion worth of fake U.S. Treasury bonds and other securities in Switzerland, and arrested eight Italians accused of international fraud and other financial crimes.

The operation, coordinated by prosecutors from the southern Italian city of Potenza, was carried out by Italian, Swiss and U.S. authorities after a year-long investigation, an Italian police source said.

It began as a investigation into mafia loan-sharking, but gradually expanded as prosecutors used telephone and computer intercepts to unearth evidence of illegal activity surrounding Treasury bonds.

The fake securities, worth more than a third of U.S. national debt, were seized in January from a Swiss trust company where they were held in three large trunks.

The U.S. Embassy in Rome thanked the Italian authorities and said the forgeries were "an attempt to defraud several Swiss banks." It said U.S. experts had helped to identify the bonds as fakes.

Potenza's prosecutor Giovanni Colangelo said an international network "in many countries" was behind the forgeries.

Italian daily Corriere della Sera said on its website that the criminal network was believed to be interested in acquiring plutonium, citing sources at the prosecutors' office.

Police videos showed images of the trunks, with "Federal Reserve System, Treaty of Versailles" stamped on the side in large, golden letters.

Bond certificates marked "Chicago, Illinois, Federal Reserve Bank" and other securities, some for one billion dollars, were also shown.

Rock Hill Wants One Of These...


Kroger debuts kiosk concept at area college campus


ADA, Ohio -- Imagine a grocery store without checkout lanes, cashiers, or shopping carts.

Kroger Co. already has.

Last month Cincinnati-based Kroger, the nation's largest traditional supermarket chain, opened a robotic grocery kiosk in Ada, Ohio, that could be part of the company's future.

"We're kind of testing it to see how it goes," company spokesman Jackie Siekmann said of the new Kroger Shop24 Kiosk on the campus of Ohio Northern University. "We've had a lot of positive feedback.

"There are a lot of kids who are in the dorms and who don't have cars or access to a car, so this is close by and they can do sort of their basic shopping," she said.

About the size of an enclosed bus stop, the robotic kiosk is a self-contained, refrigerated vending machine that can carry up to 200 items. It is restocked daily with such staples as toiletries, cleaning supplies, and perishables that include fresh milk, bread, fruit, and ground beef. It accepts cash, debit cards, credit cards, and federal supplemental nutrition-assistance program cards.

Kroger, which partnered with Ohio Northern on the robotic store venture, purchased the 10-by-13-foot kiosk from Shop24 Global, a Columbus firm that makes grocery vending machines used widely in Europe. Since Kroger's Shop24 debuted Jan. 19, officials from five other universities have come to observe it, company officials said.

Wednesday, February 15, 2012

Amazing Videos of Earth at Night from Space


Your ringtone is making me stupid


The next time you hear strains of BeyoncĂ©’s “Single Ladies” emanating from a cell phone one cube over in your office, take note of how it affects your brain. Do you feel like your thought processes are temporarily on hold? According to a new study in the Journal of Environmental Psychology, ringing cell phones are so distracting, they actually reduce our ability to remember information and slow our capacity to get back on task once the ringing stops.

Report: Russia faced major nuclear disaster in 2011


Russia came close to nuclear disaster in late December when a blaze engulfed a nuclear-powered submarine carrying atomic weapons, a leading Russian magazine reported, contradicting official assurances that it was not armed.

Russian officials said at the time that all nuclear weapons aboard the Yekaterinburg nuclear submarine had been unloaded well before a fire engulfed the 550-foot vessel and there had been no risk of a radiation leak.

But the respected Vlast weekly magazine quoted several sources in the Russian navy as saying that throughout the fire on Dec. 29 the submarine was carrying 16 R-29 intercontinental ballistic missiles, each armed with four nuclear warheads.

Mitt Romney gets little love from mutts


“Dogs Against Romney” is taking its grievances against the presidential candidate to the Super Bowl of dog shows on Tuesday – the Westminster Kennel Club Dog Show.

The group, founded in 2007 to demonstrate against an infamous incident from the 1980s in which Mitt Romney’s family dog was subjected to ride on the roof of the family car for hours, is planning to rally in front of Madison Square Garden during one of the American Kennel Club’s biggest dog shows of the year.

Poor Fox News Is Too Damn Liberal


The grumblers were picking up on a strategy that has been under way for some time — a “course correction,” as Fox chief Roger Ailes put it last fall — with the network distancing itself from the tea party cheerleading that characterized the first two years of President Barack Obama’s presidency. Lately, Fox has increasingly promoted its straight-news talent in the press and conducted some of the toughest interviews and debates of the Republican primary season. Just last week, it hired the openly gay liberal activist Sally Kohn as a contributor.

All along, Fox watchers warned that it risked alienating conservative true believers as it inched toward the center.

Well, consider them alienated.

“To tell you the truth, a lot of conservatives see Fox News as being somewhat skewed on certain issues,” said Patrick Brown, who runs Internet marketing for The Western Center for Journalism, a conservative nonprofit that features stories questioning the president’s eligibility for office. “We actually did a poll recently that said, ‘Is Fox News actually conservative, or has it moved left?’ And some 70 percent of our readers thought it had moved left.”

Tuesday, February 7, 2012

Alabama's Immigration Law May Get A Second Look


Business leaders got caught off guard when the bill passed, and it was quickly obvious that the new law would have a significant effect on economic development, especially after two foreign autoworkers — a German executive with Mercedes-Benz and a Japanese worker at a Honda plant — were detained under the law.

Missouri's St. Louis Post-Dispatch published an editorial inviting companies to relocate to the "Show Me State," not the "Show Me Your Papers" state.

"It's not like business prospects are sounding an alarm and coming to us and telling us that they are rethinking their plans to do business in Alabama," says Brian Hilson, CEO of the Birmingham Business Alliance. "It's the unknown. It's what they're not saying to us."

Hilson says there's no way to know how much business the state is losing, but researchers at the University of Alabama peg the cost at up to $11 billion in lost jobs and income- and sales-tax revenues. State Sen. Scott Beason rejects that number and any efforts to significantly change the law. Beason, a Republican, co-sponsored the original bill.

"If people begin to cave from political pressure, that donors want something changed, they'll have to do it against the vast majority of the people in their district and go with the small special-interest group that makes their decision based on profit," Beason says.

In a poll conducted last week, 42 percent of respondents said they support the law but think it goes too far. Already, several legislators have introduced bills to modify it, and the courts have ruled some provisions unconstitutional.

Still, there's no disputing that supporters of the law have achieved their main goal — driving illegal immigrants out of Alabama.

Monday, February 6, 2012

Online dating has its pros and cons, meta-analysis says


Social scientists have confirmed what most singletons have known for years: Online dating is a crapshoot.

A new analysis of 400 academic studies explores whether online dating represents a dramatic shift in the way people seek mates (it does) and whether it is ultimately a good thing for daters (eh . . . sorta).

Sunday, February 5, 2012

US plans shift to elite units as it winds down in Afghanistan



The United States’ plan to wind down its combat role in Afghanistan a year earlier than expected relies on shifting responsibility to Special Operations forces that hunt insurgent leaders and train local troops, according to senior Pentagon officials and military officers. These forces could remain in the country well after the NATO mission ends in late 2014.

India fireman takes over after air controller no-show


A fireman took over guiding a plane into landing after air traffic controllers failed to turn up for work at an airport in India, it has emerged.

The fireman, named as Mr Basha, helped the Jet Airways flight land at Tirupati in Andhra Pradesh on 9 January.

The plane was flying from Hyderabad with 60 passengers on board.

Tirupati has no approach radar and pilots rely on air traffic controllers to provide runway and weather information and give landing clearance.

Tirupati airport handles only seven flights a day but is the landing point for visitors to the Tirumala temple, one of Hinduism's holiest shrines.
Visual approach

After the air traffic controllers failed to show up for their 07:00 start, airport deputy manager Janarthanan instructed Mr Basha, whose English was described as broken, to operate the radio in the control tower.

Pilots rely mainly on a visual approach to land at Tirupati and Mr Basha was reported to have supplied the support information needed for about 40 minutes before an air traffic controller arrived for work.

Airport authorities have launched an investigation into the incident.

Airport Authority of India regional executive director D Devaraj told the Mail Today: "No-one doubts Basha's intention to help during a crisis. He wanted the flight to land safely. But he is untrained and must not attempt to do the ATC's job. Mere good intention is not enough in this case."

Mr Devaraj told the paper the controller on duty "simply forgot to turn up"

Godlessness is the last big taboo in the US, where non-believers face discrimination and isolation


Psychotherapist Marlene Winell, who practises in Berkeley, California, specialises in “recovery from harmful religion” and advocates religious trauma syndrome as a psychological diagnosis. “There are so many places in the US that are just saturated with religion. Everything is interwoven – their families, their schools, their business – so that if you were not part of the club, part of the group, you get ostracised and people go through really horrible experiences of not belonging any more.” If that sounds like the experience of leaving a cult, perhaps that’s because, as Winell argues, “in its raw form, fundamentalist Christianity that believes that the Bible is the word of God is basically a giant cult.”