China signs on to Alaska gas pipeline but its far from set

first_imgANCHORAGE, Alaska – The latest push in a decades-long effort to commercialize vast stores of Alaska’s natural gas got a boost when the state announced a deal with three Chinese companies. But the $43 billion project is far from reality.The agreement advances a project to move gas through a pipeline to the Alaska coast, where it would be liquefied and shipped to China and other points in Asia. U.S. President Donald Trump and Chinese President Xi Jinping looked on as Alaska’s governor and representatives from the companies signed the deal Thursday in Beijing.But the fanfare does not ensure one shovelful of tundra gets overturned. Similar efforts to build a natural gas pipeline have fizzled repeatedly.Here’s a look at the new project:WHAT’S THE PLAN?Alaska’s prodigious North Slope is known for its vast deposit of oil, which fueled construction of the 800-mile trans-Alaska oil pipeline in the 1970s. Since then, oil production has declined, and the recession-racked state hopes to tap into natural gas to fill the gaps.The North Slope has proven gas reserves over 35 trillion cubic feet, but no way to move it. State efforts to find partners willing to shell out billions for a pipeline have flopped over the years, with major oil companies the latest to step away. Gov. Bill Walker has since courted Asian markets.Sinopec, the Bank of China and China Investment Corp. signed on, but financial terms have not been released. Walker said 75 per cent of the gas would be earmarked for China, and Alaska would keep the rest to sell to other Asian markets. The state would be the majority owner.Walker said he wants final agreements in place by the end of next year, with groundbreaking in 2019.The plan includes building a gas treatment plant on the North Slope, a pipeline that would go 800 miles to the town of Nikiski and a liquefaction plant there. Walker anticipates all of it to be running about five years later.Larry Persily, former U.S. co-ordinator for Alaska natural gas projects, said it could cost $1 billion to get to that point, and he doesn’t think the timeline is realistic.“But if the first tanker left the dock in 2025 instead of 2023 or 2026, everyone would still be ecstatic,” he said.WHY DID OIL COMPANIES BACK OUT?BP, ExxonMobil and ConocoPhillips had been working on the pipeline plan but backed away to concentrate on other projects. That left pipeline skeptics wondering, Persily said.“If companies don’t think this is a good time to put their money into it, why should the state?” he said. “As the governor has explained, the state has an overriding interest in getting this done — companies have other places they can invest their money.”The Chinese companies also don’t have the same shareholder pressures as U.S firms.“From what I’ve seen from China, they make decisions like this and they pursue them generally to completion as a matter of strategy and are less worried about some of the short-term economics,” said Mark Barteau, director of the University of Michigan’s Energy Institute.WHY CHINA?It has an insatiable need for natural gas as it struggles with pollution and tries to end its reliance on coal.“They have exhibited a long-term interest in having a large and secure gas supply, and I think this is just perhaps the largest — but by no means the first — step they’ve taken to achieve that,” said Barteau, who also serves on the science advisory board for the National Institute of Clean and Low Carbon Energy in Beijing.Charlie Riedl, executive director of Washington, D.C.-based advocacy group the Center for Liquefied Natural Gas, sees no reason to be skeptical, saying the Chinese have wanted to get involved in a natural gas project in the U.S. for some time.The agreement “is a really positive indicator that there is demand, and there is an appetite in Asia for this gas, and the proximity to market being in Alaska is obviously a good thing,” he said.WHAT ARE THE DOWNSIDES?Without seeing the details of the agreement, some analysts pointed to the large amount of gas earmarked for China and the possible terms of the deal.Barteau said he assumes it would guarantee pricing for a set period.“If gas prices were to go way up, and we’re locked in selling it at bargain basement prices, that wouldn’t be such a good deal down the line,” he said.Persily said that if Alaska contracts to sell three-quarters of the gas to one nation, it would “be stuck with one big customer that you sink or swim with.”WHAT DO ENVIRONMENTALISTS SAY?The Center for Biological Survey called the project a “massively terrible idea” and expects legal action if the Trump administration fast-tracks it or skirts permit requirements in environmental laws.“It is just a massive investment in new fossil fuel infrastructure at a time when we should be rapidly transitioning to clean energy, and it’s just the wrong decision,” said Kristen Monsell, an attorney for the environmental group.Her concern is not only what extracting the gas from the ground might do to the environment but also increased tanker activity through habitat of the endangered Pacific right whale.Another environmental group didn’t foresee plans to stall the pipeline, calling it a safer option than opening up part of the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge to oil drilling, said Lois Epstein with The Wilderness Society.last_img read more

‘Gas allocation policy changes pose key risk to profitability of city gas entities’

first_imgNew Delhi: With softer gas prices propping up CNG and piped cooking gas consumption, city gas distribution (CGD) entities will continue to see robust margins but any adverse change in the policy of gas allocation is a key risk for the industry’s profitability, ratings agency ICRA said.The volume consumption of compressed natural gas (CNG) by automobiles and piped natural gas (PNG) in domestic kitchens has been witnessing an increasing trend, supported by softer gas prices in the last 2-3 years, ICRA said in a statement on a report it has prepared on the domestic CGD sector. Also Read – Thermal coal import may surpass 200 MT this fiscal”Going forward, demand growth favours CGD entities over the next decade and their margins are expected to remain healthy,” ICRA Senior Vice President K Ravichandran said. Economics, he said, are favourable for CNG, with piped natural gas for industrial use (PNG-industrial) may be marginally profitable. “The industry will benefit from the Central Government’s volume push but any adverse change in domestic gas allocation policy will be a key risk for the sector’s profitability and viability,” he said. Also Read – Food grain output seen at 140.57 mt in current fiscal on monsoon boostCurrently, CGD entities get first priority in the allocation of cheap domestically produced natural gas. This gas is converted into CNG for sale to automobiles and piped to household kitchens for cooking purpose as well as to industries to meet their fuel needs. ICRA’s Ankit Patel said the Supreme Court ban on the use of petcoke and furnace oil in a bid to control pollution in the national capital region would mean that industrial units need to shift to alternate fuels such as natural gas. This would further boost demand for PNG for industrial use over the short to medium term, he said. “The margin of CGD entities has improved in the last three years supported by CNG, despite cost-push factors like the relatively higher cost of energy at existing R-LNG prices, the depreciation of the rupee versus the dollar and the weak industry demand and competition from alternate fuels,” the statement said. Encouraging industry prospects have resulted in high interest among potential bidders as seen in the auction of licence to retail gas in cities offered in last two bid rounds. “Compared to previous two rounds (7 and 8), the latest rounds have the benefit of the new CGD regulations with increased incentives for serious participants,” it said. Bids have been put in for 136 geographical areas (GAs) covering 53 per cent of India’s population and 42 per cent of the area, spread over 268 districts in full and part. Marketing exclusivity for companies too has been increased from five to eight years and is extendable by up to two years. “The Round 9 had received a total of 406 bids (average 4.7 bids/GA) and Round 10 has received 225 bids (average: 4.5 bids/GA). Both the rounds are expected to create a significant impact on the overall geography as well as population,” it said. There are significant penalty risks for the bidders for not meeting the committed infrastructure in terms of the number of CNG stations, inch-km of pipelines and number of domestic connections. “In view of the aggressive bids, there is a high probability that the players will end up paying the penalties, though most bidders seem to have factored in the same,” ICRA said. It said bid winners also face significant execution risks in new GAs as the vendors and EPC contractors are overbooked. According to ICRA, CGD projects are exposed to large execution risks and the construction period involved is long and needs a host of approval from multiple agencies. “Along with a high payback period involved, there are also issues relating to natural gas connectivity, taxation, forex fluctuations, consumer resistance for price hikes and time lags in the pass-through,” ICRA said. “Moreover, as these fuels gain popularity, there is no certainty that state governments will not see that as an opportunity to earn additional tax revenues.” ICRA said most existing CGD players enjoy strong parentage, track-record and have high financial flexibility. “Credit profile of the CGD incumbents, however, will be exposed to the project risks as they expand into new GAs and leveraging levels are likely to increase,” it said.last_img read more

Tech-savvy people more likely to accept robot doctors

first_imgNew York: People with advanced computer skills are more likely to accept and use digital healthcare services and robot doctors, says a study by an Indian-origin researcher. “There is increasing use of automated systems in the medical field, where intake is now often conducted through a kiosk instead of by a receptionist,” said S Shyam Sundar, Professor at Pennsylvania State University in the US. “We investigated user acceptance of these ‘robot receptionists,’ along with automated nurses and doctors,” Sundar added. Also Read – Swiggy now in 500 Indian cities, targets 100 more this year For the study, scientists recruited participants from the online workforce Amazon Mechanical Turk to gain a better understanding of user psychology behind the acceptance of automation in clinics. The research team gauged the participants’ preconceived beliefs about and attitudes toward machines — what is called a “machine heuristic.” The team measured participants’ adherence to the machine heuristic by asking them to indicate their level of agreement with statements such as, “When machines, rather than humans, complete a task, the results are more accurate.” Also Read – New HP Pavilion x360 notebook with in-built Alexa in India “We found that if you’re high on machine heuristic and you’re high on power usage, you have the most positive attitude toward automated healthcare providers. This combination seems to make people more accepting of these technologies,” said Sundar. “A power user (a person with advanced computer skills) is more likely to accept a robot doctor, for example, than a non-power user,” Sundar added. The results were presented at the ACM Conference on Human Factors in Computing Systems in Glasgow, Scotland. According to Sundar, the healthcare industry can benefit from increased reliance on automated systems. “Doctors are limited by their human bandwidth, by their experience, knowledge and even state of mind from minute to minute,” he said. “In contrast, machines can be programmed to ‘think’ of all the possible conditions that a patient’s symptoms could point to, and they never get tired. Some level of automation is clearly needed.”last_img read more

Foreign exchange rates

These are indicative wholesale rates for foreign currency provided by the Bank of Canada on Thursday. Quotations in Canadian funds.Australia dollar 0.9846Brazil real 0.3969China renminbi 0.1879Euro 1.4529Hong Kong dollar 0.163196India rupee 0.01977Indonesia rupiah 0.0000950Japan yen 0.01125Malaysia ringgit 0.2969Mexico peso 0.07182N.Z. dollar 0.9328Norway krone 0.1542Peruvian new sol 0.3922Russia rouble 0.02127Saudi riyal 0.3398Singapore dollar 0.9257South Africa rand 0.09632South Korean won 0.001120Sweden krona 0.1524Switzerland franc 1.3178Taiwanese dollar 0.04197Thailand baht 0.03753Turkey lira 0.3570U.K. pound 1.6482U.S. dollar 1.2743Vietnam dong 0.000056

Cash credit cards siezed

The Kalutara police found 12 credit cards and Rs. 9,78464 in cash from three foreigners arrested in Kalutara today.According to the police media unit the three foreigners had used the cards to withdraw money in a fraudulent manner. The foreigners were arrested after they had withdrawn money using forged credit cards from an ATM machine in Kalutara.Further investigations are underway. (Colombo Gazette)

Refinery in Regina that suffered blast last year evacuated due to fire

by The Canadian Press Posted May 16, 2012 1:19 am MDT Refinery in Regina that suffered blast last year evacuated due to fire REGINA – A fire forced the evacuation of the Federated Co-Operatives refinery in Regina, but the company says there were no injuries.Vice-president of corporate affairs Vic Huard says the fire started on Tuesday evening in a pumphouse that sends crude to various sections of the facility.He says it was brought under control quickly, although he says it continued to burn through the night after the pumps were shut down and the remaining oil burned away.Huard says none of the refinery’s processing units were involved, unlike an explosion and fire that injured workers there last October.Thirty-six people were injured in that incident, believed to have started when a mix of hydrogen gas and diesel from a leaky pipe ignited.There is still no official determination on what caused that accident.Huard says damage in Tuesday’s fire was contained to the pumphouse, and he says the refinery will be operating normally on Wednesday. AddThis Sharing ButtonsShare to TwitterTwitterShare to FacebookFacebookShare to RedditRedditShare to 電子郵件Email read more

Toronto stock market lower as trader sentiment turns negative on economy

TORONTO – The Toronto stock market moved lower on Tuesday as investors backed away from the optimism that characterized trading earlier in the session.The S&P/TSX composite index dropped 56.36 points to 12,257.18. The TSX Venture Exchange fell 20.25 points to 1,313.21.The Canadian dollar was at 101.98 US, off 0.19 of a cent, as the safe-haven greenback lost some ground.Traders had kept stock markets positive throughout much of the morning after U.S. consumer confidence hit its highest level in seven months in September, but comments from a member of the U.S. Federal Reserve appeared to dash the sentiment.Bank of Philadelphia president Charles Plosser questioned the Fed’s latest round of stimulus, suggesting in a speech that it wouldn’t help the economy grow. That opinion seemed enough to tip the scale back towards concern.Wall Street bore the brunt of the decline, with the Dow Jones industrials backed off 101.37 points to 13,457.55. The Nasdaq composite index slid 43.05 points to 3,117.73 and the S&P 500 index was 15.30 points lower to 1,441.59.Caterpillar Inc., the world’s largest maker of construction and mining equipment, added to the eroding sentiment. The company is lowering expectations for its profit in 2015 because of slower-than-expected growth in the global economy.“Our view of the world right now is that we don’t think the markets will be propelled forward in the next month,” said Paul Vaillancourt, vice-president and chief investment officer at Canadian Wealth Management.“We are anticipating a little bit of consolidation after a pretty good run. But having said that … we don’t think we’re going to see a significant sell off.”In commodities, November crude on the New York Mercantile Exchange moved down 56 cents to close at US$91.37 a barrel. The TSX energy sector lost 1.4 per cent.December bullion increased $1.80 to US$1,766.40 an ounce. December copper gained 2.7 cents to US$3.76 a pound.A report from Statistics Canada said retail sales rose 0.7 per cent to $39 billion in July, more than offsetting a decline in June. The increase was largely weighted in higher sales of cars, trucks and auto parts, as well as general merchandise.South of the border, the Conference Board said its consumer confidence index rose to 70.3, up from 61.3 in August — the highest reading since February.And the Standard & Poor’s/Case Shiller index report showed that U.S. home prices increased 1.2 per cent nationally in July compared with the same month last year. Prices also rose in July from June in all 20 cities tracked by the report. It’s the third straight month in which prices rose in every city.In Canada, Forbes & Manhattan Coal Corp. (TSX:FMC) says it’s buying majority stakes in an operating coal mine and an undeveloped anthracite deposit in South Africa from Rio Tinto PLC (NYSE:RIO) for about C$52.3 million plus royalties. Its shares were ahead two cents to 67 cents.Shares of Research In Motion (TSX:RIM) lifted 32 cents to $6.50 after the BlackBerry maker gave developers a look at the progress made in developing its new operating system, due to hit the market early next year.In Europe, Spain is due to unveil this week a new series of cost-cutting measures and structural reforms that could pave the way for demand for financial aid from its fellow eurozone countries. But hopes that Madrid will apply for the aid were overcome by concern that it was delaying the move. Spain has been reluctant to ask since such assistance comes with strings attached.Another key issue is whether eurozone countries will grant Greece more time to reach its deficit reduction targets. The country also needs to finalize a package of austerity measures but political leaders are struggling to compromise as popular anger increases. AddThis Sharing ButtonsShare to TwitterTwitterShare to FacebookFacebookShare to RedditRedditShare to 電子郵件Email Toronto stock market lower as trader sentiment turns negative on economy by David Friend, The Canadian Press Posted Sep 25, 2012 4:36 pm MDT read more

Justin Bieber accused of egging neighbours home

first_imgSHERIFF’S DEPUTIES ARE investigating Justin Bieber for yet another neighbourly dispute that could land him in court.Los Angeles County Sheriff’s spokesman Steve Whitmore says Bieber has been named as a suspect in a misdemeanour vandalism and assault crime report for allegedly throwing eggs at a neighbour’s home in their gated Calabasas neighborhood on Thursday evening.The 19-year-old pop star allegedly egged the house while his neighbour and neighbour’s daughter were on the balcony. They videotaped the incident, Whitmore says.Whitmore says Bieber won’t speak to deputies. Depending on the damage estimate, a charge could rise to a felony.In October, prosecutors declined to charge Bieber after a neighbour complained he drove recklessly through the area.Messages left for Bieber’s representative, Melissa Victor, weren’t immediately returned Sunday morning.Read: These amazing selfies are the reason Justin Bieber is launching an app for selfiesRead: Justin Bieber invited 10 girls to his house for chicken nuggets… it’s The Dredgelast_img read more

Explainer The 6 most baffling toys on the Argos Chrtmas predictions list

first_imgTODAY, ON 5 AUGUST 2014 Argos Ireland dropped its Christmas* toy predictions list on an unsuspecting public.Still reeling from the shock of seeing the C word in August, we were then faced with a perplexing run down of 13 baffling toys, games and gadgets.We recognised words like ‘Monopoly’, ‘Lego’ and ‘Transformers’, but what the blazes is a ‘Xeno’, and what exactly do you do with ‘My Friend Cayla’?We’re here to break down the most baffling gifts Santa* will be hauling down the chimney this December*.*Sincere apologies for all mentions of Christmas, Santa and December.1. Xeno (various colours)Price: €106.49Coming in at over a hundred quid, this thing better do the dishes while you put your feet up on Christmas Day to fall asleep in front of the Big Big Movie.Unfortunately, getting the Xeno to don a pair of Marigolds seems unlikely. It’s an interactive monster doll which had snot hanging out of its nose and likes to fart, dance and make faces. It has 40 facial expressions and responds to touch and noise. You can also download an app to add to the bells and whistles on offer.Just what you need on Christmas after imbibing one too many Baileys while setting out the biscuits for Santa the night before.2. Teksta T-Rex DinosaurPrice: €79.99Last Christmas the revamped Teksta Dog was all the rage, and now they’re back with a dinosaur.This is another interactive toy with touch recognition and the all-important accompanying app. The T-Rex also responds to sound and light, and chews on a bone before spitting it out and burping.Yes. A burping dinosaur.3. Little Live Pets BirdsPrice: €13.49A bit more on the affordable side, there are six Little Live Pets Birds to collect and they all have their own names and different wing patterns.They respond to touch and will repeat what you say to them. So be extra careful about swearing in front of the birds when you drop the custard for the sherry trifle on the ground.4. Leapfrog Leap Band GreenPrice: €39.49The Leap Band is a fitness aid for kids… because running around and riding bikes just doesn’t cut it anymore.It’s worn like a watch and tracks the user’s activity. The kids can also play with virtual pets and the band comes with 50 mini challenges (most of them activity related like ‘jump like a tiger’ or ‘run through mud’) for the user to complete.And it syncs with an app, of course.5. My Friend CaylaPrice: €79.99Cayla is an interactive doll who will answer a wide variety of questions (and potentially help you child to cheat on their homework).She’ll sync with an app on a smartphone or tablet and then use Google software to search the internet for the answer to a question posed by the child.  Google’s SafeSearch ensures that unsuitable words will be blocked, while parents can also choose words they don’t want their kids asking about.She’ll answer maths, geography, science, general knowledge questions and will act as a “virtual friend” for your child. That’s assuming your child is a girl of course. Cayla, with her pink accessories and targeted advertising appears to be predominantly aimed at the female of the species. Source: Vivid Toys and Games/YouTube6. VTech Kiddizoom WatchPrice: €52.49This is a watch, camera (for photos and video), voice recorder and changer and gaming device all rolled into one. It has a touch screen and a USB port for uploading pictures and videos.However, according to PC Mag there are issues with the battery life and it seems that the watch needs to be charged for three hours before its first use. Might be worth dropping a line to Santa to let him know.Here’s the full list of Argos’ 13 predictions for Christmas 2014Read: 8 reasons why it’s not okay to talk about Christmas yet>last_img read more

A brilliant explanation of how a cars differential works

first_imgEven if you aren’t a car guy or girl you will probably really like this video. Shot back in 1937, it explains how a differential — the part of the car that negotiates the fact that wheels on the same axle do not always turn at the same speed. As far as auto tech goes, it’s pretty mundane, but the video simplifies the concepts and does an excellent job of explaining how a very basic mechanism can be employed in order to solve an important problem.Most of you geeks out there already know that when a car turns the wheels on the outside have to spin faster then the ones on the inside because they have to travel a longer distance. This means that if you have a fixed axle (where one wheel can’t spin independently of the other) one of the wheels will have to skid if the axle is going to keep turning. This is bad for your tires and it’s bad for your car’s traction.So what’s the solution? Basically it’s a bunch of gears… but you already knew that. The point of the video above is to explain how those gears work.The differential mechanism basically allows each wheel to spin freely of the other, while providing power to both. If one wheel is spinning too slowly the mechanism will keep driving the other one without any skidding. In this situation, the slow one is the inner wheel and the one spinning more quickly is the wheel on the exterior of the turning radius. Thanks to the differential no torque is lost and the tires aren’t shredded every time you make a turn. It’s both brilliant and deceptively simple.The video goes on to explain that changes are made when these things actually are (and were) put into cars, like putting the power source lower then the center of the differential, but it’s fundamentally the same thing.Bonus: The voiceover in this video is amazing. It’s the perfect circa-1930s radio voice adapted to that newfangled moving picture box.via Jermiah Owyanglast_img read more

Starbombs The Tryforce Is The Lonely Island For Video Games

first_img 11 Ways the Wu-Tang Clan Shaped Geek CultureSpotify’s Rise to Power Dramatized in TV Mini-Series Stay on target For as entertaining as video games are, a lot of comedy surrounding video game culture… sucks. Maybe it’s because any kind of comedy is hard. Maybe it’s because awful aspects of nerd culture don’t lend themselves well to non-cringe inducing humor. Or maybe video games are just so inherently ridiculous that trying to make fun of them just results in something less good.So when I say that Starbomb is not only one of the best video game bands but also one of the best video game comedy groups, I don’t mean that lightly. After a five-year gap (Overwatch wasn’t even a thing back then) the third and probably final Starbomb album The Tryforce lets the supergroup fulfill its “The Lonely Island but for video games” destiny.The biggest reason why Starbomb works is because its members aren’t just gamers but legit talented artists across an admirable amount of disciplines. Danny Sexbang and Egoraptor from Game Grumps can do more than just play video games on YouTube. Arin Hanson is a killer animator, voice actor, and games critic. Meanwhile, Dan Avidan and Brian Wecht have a flourishing musical career in their own right as Ninja Sex Party (who we interviewed last year) not just recording comedy but also earnest attempts at classic covers.So while anyone could’ve said something funny like “A 1990s Biggie/Tupac anthem about Mario Party” or “Rap-rock about the long Tetris piece feeling neglected” it takes real writing and musical craft to make those jokes into parody songs worth listening to.The writing is about where’s it’s been the whole span of the group’s career. It’s juvenile and scatological but in that rebellious infectious energetic little boy Newgrounds way, with subtle laughs for more mature tastes. Any fan of a good Bart Simpson episode should appreciate this. Detailing some of these premises spoils the jokes but the lyrics mostly shine in little sketches about games like Dream Daddy and an Eminem-esque freestyle. A late meta track rattling off abandoned song ideas makes us wish they were all real. “Bomberman goes through the TSA and you can guess the rest.” But in many of the songs proper specific words, especially choruses, sound drowned out in the mix.However, it’s easy enough to find the lyrics online and listen to the cosmic delights of The Tryforce’s actual sound. Another beef of mine with the whole nerdcore rap scene is geeky white kids enjoying the “irony” of partaking in an African-American artform. But Starbomb (mostly) sidesteps that with an eclectic spacey synthy musical style that just happens to use rapping and hip-hop as the most efficient verbal joke delivery for an ode to Dark Souls sadism or inexplicable Kingdom Hearts plot breakdown.This album brought onboard Jim Roach as producer and Tupper Ware Remix Party as backup band and the increased production value really shows. Like The Lonely Island, Starbomb understands that you need the music to be seriously good jams for the joke to work. “Vegeta’s Serenade” features soft DBZ-themed crooning from Hanson. A Donkey Kong Jr. song perfectly demonstrates the ape’s charming stupidity through its simple but catchy instrumentation.One disappointment to that took me longer to notice however was that despite how good the music is, unlike the last two albums, The Tryforce doesn’t really try to mimic the style of the music from the games it parodies. Pikachu’s wailing guitar solo recalls the Pokemon anime intro but that’s about it. It’s a shame because a Castlevania banger that sounded like a modern “Monster Mash” or a Punch-Out!! boxing training montage anthem that felt ripped from the Rocky soundtrack added the parody and reverence in those earlier songs.Still, The Tryforce is a delicious piece of video game audio candy and kudos to Starbomb for not overstaying their welcome with a concept with probably limited gas in the tank. Just keep taking cues from The Lonely Island and make a Starbomb movie. It’ll automatically be the funniest, most entertaining video game movie.last_img read more

Canadian Archipelago Likely To Become Important Polar Bear Conservation Region

first_imgA new study released Tuesday by the U.S. Geological Survey suggests polar bears are in the midst of a generations-long migration to areas that still have year-round sea ice.Download AudioLily Peacock is a research wildlife biologist for USGS and the lead author of the study. She says, historically, polar bears are highly nomadic and move unpredictably. But, over the last few generations, the bears’ movement patterns have been changing.“Instead of sort of random movements of bears across the Arctic that we found in sort of the more ancient historical picture, we found directional movement towards the Canadian Archipelago,” Peacock said.(USGS photo)The Canadian Archipelago is home to one of four clusters of genetically-similar polar bear populations. During the study, Peacock’s team analyzed nearly 3,000 genetic samples of bears ranging from Alaska’s North Slope, to the Russian Arctic, to Canada’s Hudson Bay, dating back as far as 1972, and as recently as 2011.Peacock says this suggests polar bears are subtly shifting north.“Our hypothesis is that they’re doing so because changes of in their habitat,” she said. “Especially because it’s been hypothesized and modeled that that’s where ice is going to be persistent and it’s likely that the ice might become better habitat in the Canadian Archipelago; it’s considered poorer habitat right now, but the multi-year ice might become annual ice and become more productive.”Peacock says this shift isn’t a product of bears marching en masse from Northern Russia all the way to Northern Canada – it’s more of a genetic migration, made over the course of several generations.“That means an individual home range shifting northward; that animal mating with another animal that might be at the southern part of her range, but then that offspring might go to the northern part of her grandmother’s range and mate with someone else,” Peacock said. “So it’s sort of this shift of genes northward.”But, according to Peacock, declining sea ice could put a damper on the process and potentially threaten worldwide populations by cutting off the bears’ migration routes.“And what can happen when populations of animals become isolated is that they can blink out if something happens; if they have a bad winter or bad spring and that stresses the population and it gets smaller and smaller, but the migration corridor has been cut off and you can’t repopulate,” she said.Though scientific modeling can’t predict exactly what the future holds for polar bears, Peacock says the results of the study say the Canadian Archipelago may become a very important habitat for polar bears over the next several generations.last_img read more

Sea Level Rise Threatens Thousands Of Texas Gulf Coast Homes Report Says

first_imgNASA Galveston IslandA new report says sea level rise could lead to chronic flooding risks for thousands of homes on the Texas Gulf Coast, just from the flow of tides.The Union of Concerned Scientists used property data from real estate website Zillow to analyze the risks in Texas and across the U.S. It found that within the next 30 years, about 5,000 coastal homes in the Galveston area alone could see repeated flooding. Nationwide, as many as 311,000 homes could be at risk.The report says that would be particularly painful for tourist towns, which depend on property tax revenue from vacation homes to help even out the seasonal ups and downs of their economies. Even if homes are elevated and avoid tidal flooding, the report says, repeated flooding of streets and surrounding lands would hurt tourism.More broadly, the report says real estate markets could be hurt as risk perceptions in the market catch up with the reality of repeated flooding. Resulting declines in home values could then lead to falling tax revenues for schools, roads and local governments.Astrid Caldas, one of the report’s co-authors, said coastal towns across the country are going to have to start thinking about how to adapt.“Adaptation involves three main options, which is accommodate the water, protect against the water, or retreat from the water,” she said.Caldas said global efforts to fight climate change could help save many coastal homes, but those efforts could be stunted by the U.S. pulling out of the Paris Climate Agreement. Sharelast_img read more

Narcotics worth Rs 50 lakh seized in Watgunj

first_imgKolkata: The Detective Department of Kolkata Police nabbed a person with huge quantities of narcotics from Watgunj area on Saturday night and arrested a person in this connection.The accused persons were planning to smuggle the narcotics to Hong Kong. According to sources, cops recently got an information that a racket dealing in narcotics is operating from Kolkata and the substance is sent abroad. Working on the information, police personnel from Detective Department came to know that the racket was operating somewhere in the port area but were not able to find out the exact location of the place. Also Read – Rs 13,000 crore investment to provide 2 lakh jobs: MamataOn Saturday evening, sleuths found the location where the racket was operating. Around 10 pm on Saturday, police raided a house located on 17B, Sastitala Road in Watgunj. They found fashion jewellery were being manufactured at the place. During the raid, cops found out from a man identified as Abdul Rajjak, who was present in the house, that the place was being used to manufacture fashion jewellery. During the raid, cops did not notice any suspicious in the house other than loads of fashion jewellery. During the search, one of the police personnel saw some colourful bangles which were kept separately from other things. Also Read – Lightning kills 8, injures 16 in stateOn suspicion when sleuths checked they found something was concealed in the bangles. After pulling out the polythene from one of the bangles police found some white powder suspected to be narcotics inside them. Sleuths found same kind of powder concealed in all the bangles. Immediately, Rajjak was detained and grilled. During interrogation he admitted that the powder was a derivative of cocaine identified as Methaqualone which is being used as substitute of cocaine in many places outside India. Rajjak was arrested and later, cops came to know that the Methaqualone was destined for Hong Kong. According to the police, 60 bangles were found inside which Methaqualone was concealed. Sleuths also came to know that Rajjak with a few others were running the racket for a long time. They used to send the Methaqualone concealed in the cosmetic jewellery which are very popular in Hong Kong. The consignments were being sent via courier services. The seized Methaqualone is worth Rs 50 lakh. Each one gram of the narcotics substance is worth Rs 8,000 approximately. Rajjak is being interrogated to nab other racketeers.last_img read more

Fake news can be countered by identifying source credibility

first_imgEstablishing the credibility of the source of information can help combat the growing menace of fake news, a study has found. Misinformation or fake news is a threat to democratic institutions and false information can have far-reaching effects, researchers said. The study, published in Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, provides a roadmap for dealing with fake news. People’s beliefs about the source of information affects how they take in that information, even at the level of their automatic responses, researchers found. Also Read – Add new books to your shelfThey also found that new information can modify or even undo existing impressions caused by fake news. “We wanted to know whether offering information about the source of news matters for people’s gut-level, automatic reactions,” said Melissa Ferguson, a professor at Cornell University in the US. “Does knowing that something is fake have lingering pernicious effects that can later shape and influence our thoughts and behaviour toward the person? Our studies suggest that establishing credibility for news sources is the right policy to combat fake news,” Ferguson said in a statement. Also Read – Over 2 hours screen time daily will make your kids impulsiveResearchers conducted seven experiments with more than 3,100 participants to assess how the truth value of new information about others affected both their reported feelings and their gut-level, automatic reactions. The experiments ranged from using video games and narratives of intergroup conflicts to studies featuring an individual named Kevin. Researchers used Kevin to assess how attitudes toward him changed depending on what information was provided. In one experiment, Kevin was depicted positively. Participants were then told something disturbing, including that he had been arrested for abusing his wife. Researchers found that when news about the arrest came from police reports, gut-level attitudes toward Kevin immediately became more negative. However, when that information was attributed to a friend of Kevin’s ex-girlfriend, participants retained their positive attitude toward Kevin. “In other words, whether participants thought this new information was true determined even their automatic feelings,” the researchers said.last_img read more

Amazon addresses employees dissent regarding the companys law enforcement policies at an

first_imgYesterday, at an Amazon all-staff meeting, the company addressed its relationship with law enforcement agencies. This action is in response to the employee concerns raised in June about the company’s frequent successful attempts to provide cloud infrastructure and facial recognition software for the government authorities (including Immigrations Customs and Law Enforcement). This was the very first Amazon all-staff meeting and was live streamed globally. When asked about what is being done in response to the concerns voiced by both Amazon employees and civil rights groups, Andy Jassy, CEO of Amazon Web Services, said, “There’s a lot of value being enjoyed from Amazon Rekognition. Now now, of course, with any kind of technology, you have to make sure that it’s being used responsibly, and that’s true with new and existing technology. Just think about all the evil that could be done with computers or servers and has been done, and you think about what a different place our world would be if we didn’t allow people to have computers.” According to Buzzfeed, questions for the meeting were pre-screened and with no opportunity for questions. Last year, Amazon faced controversy over some uses of its AI-powered facial recognition product, Rekognition. Its use cases range from being used to monitor faces in group photos, crowded events and public places such as airports, and run those images for matches against mugshot databases. In June, hundreds of Amazon employees signed a letter titled ‘We Won’t Build It’, an open letter to CEO Jeff Bezos asking Amazon to stop selling Rekognition to the police, citing “historic militarization of police, renewed targeting of Black activists, and the growth of a federal deportation force currently engaged in human rights abuses”. The employee letter states, “Our company should not be in the surveillance business; we should not be in the policing business; we should not be in the business of supporting those who monitor and oppress marginalized populations.” The workers also pointed out Amazon’s commercial relationship with the data firm Palantir, which does business with the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement. According to the public documents obtained by the Project on Government Oversight, “Amazon also pitched its facial recognition technology directly to the ICE, a few months after the federal immigration agency started enforcing President Trump’s controversial zero-tolerance family-separation border policy.” The American Civil Liberties Union(ACLU) also raised concerns on Amazon Rekognition’s misuse for racial profiling. This issue was identified after the organization ran a test and found that the software incorrectly matched 28 members of Congress, identifying them as other people who have been arrested for a crime and that the false matches disproportionately involved people of color, including six members of the Congressional Black Caucus. Jeff Bezos, at a Wired conference last month, stated, “If big tech companies are going to turn their back on the U.S. Department of Defense, this country is going to be in trouble.” To know more about this news in detail, head over to the complete Q&A of the meeting on BuzzFeed. Read Next Apple and Amazon take punitive action against Bloomberg’s ‘misinformed’ hacking story ‘We are not going to withdraw from the future’ says Microsoft’s Brad Smith on the ongoing JEDI bid, Amazon concurs Amazon tried to sell its facial recognition technology to ICE in June, emails reveallast_img read more

Franklin Changs VASIMR plasma engine readies for key test

first_img Facebook Comments TheVASIMR spacecraft engine that is the brainchild of Tico physicist Franklin Chang Díaz is one step closer to reality, Chang’s company Ad Astra Rocket Company reported this week.The VASIMR is scheduled in late October for a test aimed at bringing the former NASA astronaut’s engine to a technology readiness level 5, meaning it would be a step just before space flight.Ad Astra expects the VASIMR engine to be the propulsion technology that will facilitate long-distance space travel as well as allow the transport of larger loads in a more efficient way.The stage is part of the three-year contract that Chang’s Ad Astra Rocket Company has with NASA and that this week began its second year, the company reported.Under the NASA partnership Ad Astra will demonstrate a VASIMR prototype at its 150 square-meter vacuum chamber in Texas. Chang’s company has successfully completed all milestones for the first of its three-year Next Space Technology Exploration Partnerships (NextSTEP) contract with NASA.The $9 million agreement is structured as a one-year contract with two additional one-year extensions dependent upon successful completion of project milestones.Steady progressAd Astra’s Chief Operations Manager Juan Ignacio del Valle said the goal for this year is to maintain a plasma firing for about one hour. That would represent a mayor milestone for the VASIMR current prototype, known as VX-200SS.The device has only fired plasma discharges lasting a few seconds, he said. AdAstra has completed more than 10,000 firings of its prototypes since 2005.Tests will continue in 2017 at increasingly longer pulse lengths. Ad Astra aims to demonstrate a 100-hour continuous firing of the VASIMR prototype at 100 kilowatts by mid-2018. That would represent the culmination of the design and development stages of the plasma engine technology, Del Valle said.Since the start of its NextSTEP contract, Ad Astra completed the redesign and manufacturing of the new VX-200SS rocket core and new vacuum and thermal management systems for the laboratory.These are needed for handling the vacuum requirements and “the unprecedented thermal load arising from the rocket’s 3 million-degree plasma exhaust,” the company reported.The VX-200SS prototype will include a new proprietary rocket core design and will be capable of operating indefinitely in a thermally stable mode under space-like vacuum conditions.Del Valle noted that while the engine’s experimental stages take place only at Ad Astra’s Texas lab, various Costa Rican scientists and engineers participate in the development of some parts and protocols for the engine at the company’s facilities in Liberia, Guanacaste.Recently, Del Valle and two more Tico experts worked on the reconditioning of the vacuum chamber in Houston, he told The Tico Times.VASIMR’s final stageIf Ad Astra’s contract is successfully completed in 2018, the company would proceed with the “design, assembly and operation of a space-flight-ready VASIMR prototype,” Del Valle said.That would require confirmation by NASA of its interest to proceed with a new contract to finance the construction of the engine, Del Valle noted.The engine’s technology recently appeared on the big screen in director Ridley Scott’s latest movie “The Martian,” based on the novel by U.S. author Andy Weir.The story portrays the VASIMR as the technology used for launching the first manned mission to Mars.Watch a plasma firing of a VASIMR prototype Related posts:Ex-NASA astronaut Franklin Chang talks about ‘The Martian,’ Hollywood’s take on his VASIMR engine Costa Rica to host UN meeting on space technology US Sen. Bill Nelson: Costa Rica has a place in the future of space flight Costa Rica makes nuclear fusion history with plasma dischargelast_img read more

Foreign minister Ozersay duty on aid sent north was wrong

first_imgTurkish Cypriot foreign ‘minister’ Kudret Ozersay has said the previous ‘government’s’ decision to impose duty on the humanitarian aid the Republic sends to Greek Cypriots and Maronites living in the north was wrong and would be adjusted.Turkish Cypriot daily Yeni Duzen on Friday reported that Ozersay, who visited the Maronite villages of Ayia Marina and Asomatos on Thursday, said that the new ‘government’ would announce in the coming days practical adjustments improving the previous administration’s decision to impose a customs duty on goods sent from the south.Weekly deliveries of basic items to cover household needs sent by the government to around 340 people living in the Karpasia peninsula and the Maronite villages of Kormakitis and Karpashia were interrupted last October after the Turkish Cypriot authorities announced they would tax the aid. Since then, the UN has only been delivering medical supplies that are exempt from the duty.Ozersay was quoted by Yeni Duzen as saying that the decision to impose the customs duty was wrong.He told the daily that one of the reasons that led to the introduction of the customs duty was that some of the products sent to the enclaved ended up being sold in grocery stores, which was illegal and that they had to take measures.But Ozersay said that aid, especially to the elderly, should not be hindered.He reiterated that the new measures would not undermine the status of the ‘TRNC’.Ozersay also said that it was wrong to describe the recipients of the aid as enclaved.A study on the issue, he said, is nearly finished and the adjustments will be announced soon.He added that the aid recipients ought to receive actual, practical assistance and the adjustments will ensure that this aid goes where it is truly needed.Ozersay said he plans to visit Rizokarpaso where the Greek Cypriots live within the coming days.On the return of Maronites to their villages in the north, Ozersay said that this issue contains a ‘foreign policy dimension’ and they have also consulted with the Turkish military.He added that there was a positive attitude and that the north would proceed with this initiative. He refrained from elaborating.The north announced last summer that they would allow Maronites to return to all their villages in the north of the island. Earlier in the month Turkish Cypriot leader Mustafa Akinci had promised during a meeting with members of the Maronite community that the issue would be discussed with the ‘government’ once ‘parliament’ approves the ‘state budget’ for 2018.Ayia Marina, Asomatos and Karpasha are the three Maronite villages controlled by the Turkish military since 1974. Ayia Marina and Asomatos are currently off limits, while Karpasha is also under military control but residents are allowed to live there. The fourth Maronite village, Kormakitis, has no such status, and it is far easier for its residents to resettle there if they wish.Commissioner for Humanitarian Affairs Photis Photiou said the government expects the breakaway regime to lift the customs duty decision.He added that authorities in the north have acknowledged that that decision was wrong, in violation of the agreement between the sides known as Vienna III and ‘has caused huge problems for the enclaved and especially the elderly’.“We expect the occupation regime to lift this decision. We will continue to support our enclaved in every possible way,” Photiou said.You May LikeFlipopular15 Beauty Tips For Women Over 40 To Look 10 Years YoungerFlipopularUndoHealthZapBurdened With Doubts; Man Got Down The LadderHealthZapUndoZoHealthy6 Habits Everyone with Type 2 Diabetes Should Make Part of Their RoutineZoHealthyUndo Clear winner in first round of Kition bishop voteUndoData is the new oil so watch out for mass mining – Netflix filmUndoCompanies must use buying power to root out slavery, says UK officialUndoby Taboolaby Taboolalast_img read more

New Year means things to look forward to in the garden

first_imgJanuary and February are not my favourite months in the garden but there are jobs that must be done. We may be lucky and have some ‘Halcyon Days’ when the sun shines down from cloudless skies and we can get out there in the fresh air and do those jobs on the inevitable list! I always seem to have a list of things to do and never quite get to the end of it before others are added to the bottom.However, there are some joys to look forward to! Soon dainty, semi-double blooms of Jasminum mesnyi will be peeping out from among the green foliage and tiny, bell-like yellow flowers of Bulbinella hookerii, a New Zealand beauty now adapted to growing in Cypriot gardens, will be showing off in any shaded borders. Fiery orange flowers of pyrostegia, which can cover the side of a house given half a chance, will be sending out long tendrils full of heavy, orange blooms. This southern hemisphere plant can brighten up our winter gardens and we are so lucky that our almost mild winters, especially around the coast, can be kind to early flowerers. Some gardens are able to have bougainvillaeas in flower all year round, but not at higher elevations like mine.There are still masses of weeds coming through and countless seedlings too, which may or may not survive through February, usually a cold and wet month. There are also fallen leaves to deal with, which can be used as mulches, but too thick a layer can harbour slugs and snails. These leaves are better added to the compost heap, along with any wood ash from log fires. In the flower beds, all sorts of bulb shoots will be pushing through the earth by now. Little blue muscari are among the first to flower. They can seed themselves all over the place if you don’t take off the seed heads when they have finished flowering. Depending on the winter weather and where you live, you could be enjoying early narcissus and Paperwhites already.Bitter oranges should be ready for picking now. Try this old Cypriot recipe for chunky marmalade: juice as many sliced oranges as will fit comfortably into your preserving pan. Put the juice into a big bowl. Cut the peel into little chunky slices taking off any membrane and add to the juice. Add enough water to cover both the peel and the juice, and cover over the bowl with a cloth overnight. Next day, measure the fruit and juice by cupful and for every cupful of fruit add one cupful of sugar. Boil until you get a set and put into sealed jars. You can also use this recipe for lemons and limes. WHAT TO DO IN THE GARDEN THIS MONTHDid you receive any potted plants for Christmas? They make such attractive presents for those who do not have the luxury of a garden or who like to bring the garden indoors. There are many different orchids on sale nowadays days but how do you look after these exotic plants now that Christmas is over? Their native habitat would have been on a tree trunk or branch in a tropical jungle, so you need to create a humid environment for them to survive in a house. They do not like to be cold and need temperatures of at least 15C to survive. The bathroom or kitchen, where there is some humidity, might be the ideal place. Re-pot them when the plant gets crowded using an orchid compost and feed occasionally with a liquid fertiliser. This clip by Sarah Raven, the noted UK plant grower, may help you and I do advise orchid lovers to watch it.Planters may need some attention now and garden centres are still full of pansies and petunias which can withstand the worst of the winter weather. Sometimes heather is available which is very hardy and looks attractive at this time of year or ornamental cabbages, in white and purples, that can look handsome in pots, as well in garden borders. Pelargoniums tend to have shorter flower and leaf stems during the winter and if very low temperatures occur their otherwise green leaves may turn a very pretty shade of pink. Try to keep them out of heavy rain or even hail as they really do not like to be too wet. Once the weather warms up and after a feed of slow-release fertiliser or a change of soil, they will soar away again.Almond trees are the first to flower. Their buds begin to swell almost as soon as the leaves drop, so you have to make their care top of your list. Almonds can put on a metre of growth in a season. If you leave that on, another metre will be added the next season, making the tree almost impossible to crop, so you may have to prune back into the previous year’s growth. We usually do this in late summer. Remove any dead, diseased or crossing branches to maintain a good shape. Late pruning may remove some of the fruit buds, but those that are left will grow better and give you bigger almonds. Treat the rest of the prunus trees in the same way. Have a look at any fig trees which will have dropped all their leaves by now and see if they need a little trim. They usually don’t need much. Pomegranates, which have an untidy growth habit anyway, may need a tidy up as well. You will see olives being hacked to death in groves all around the island at this time of year, but they seem to survive it all.Citrus trees laden with ripe fruits will be the target of Mediterranean Fruit Flies. They find it difficult to penetrate unripe fruit but once the peel has turned colour they can pierce it and lay their eggs inside. Lemons and limes usually escape this fate but other citrus fall victim and before long the eggs will turn into grubs, eventually leaving the fruit through the exit holes and falling to the earth beneath the tree and pupating there. The whole process takes only 20 days from start to finish. When we first came here almost everyone sprayed the trees at this time of year, but nowadays gardeners don’t like spraying chemicals over their fruit and are hanging those yellow sticky cards between the trees to catch the Med flies. It may be necessary to change them quite often.In some gardens, Jasminum officinalis will still be in flower, but if you want to enjoy the highly scented flowers in the summer, then now is the time to prune the current stems right back to the wood. As a general rule, bushes and climbers that flower early on in the season are pruned after flowering. A reader asked me recently how to tell the difference between young and old wood when pruning. The young growth will still be greenish and supple, whereas older stem growth will be rigid and probably a grey or brown colour. Plant of the Month Viburnum tinusViburnum tinus belongs to the Adoxaceae family. Not so long ago, this plant belonged to the same family as lonicera (honeysuckle) but botanists have through plant DNA moved it into the Adoxaceae family and I fear that many more plants may be moved into new plant families and acquire new names as work continues along this new scientific avenue. Viburnum is a native of the Mediterranean area, including North Africa, and here is known as Vivournos, and by many other ‘local’ names throughout Europe, but not to be confused with Viburnum opulus, the ‘Mediterranean Snowball’, with its snowball-like flower heads, which can be grown at higher elevations here.Viburnum tinus in full flowerViburnum tinus is certainly a much-valued, fast-growing evergreen in any garden and suitable for hedging as it will grow to perhaps a maximum of 3 metres. There are quite a few varieties, perhaps the best known is ‘Eve Price’, a wonderful winter flowering shrub. You certainly wouldn’t grow it for its scented flowers, as some say that they smell of wet dog, but the deep pink flower buds and subsequent pretty flower heads are charming and will last into springtime. The blue-black berries that ensue are poisonous but are edible by birds looking for late winter sustenance. Growing in full sun or part shade and even able to withstand winds and salt spray in coastal areas, Viburnum tinus requires little attention apart from some watering out of the rainy season. The shrub is often grown as a standard, making an attractive ball shape. Viburnum tinus ‘Compactum’ however is smaller growing as its name suggests and does have white to light pink fragrant flowers. Sometimes the shrubs can be affected by Viburnum whitefly that can be found on the underside of the leaves in midsummer, but I have not found any instances of this in my garden.You May LikeLivestlyChip And Joanna’s $18M Mansion Is Perfect, But It’s The Backyard Everyone Is Talking AboutLivestlyUndoPlarium I Vikings: Free Online GamePlay this for 1 minute and see why everyone is addictedPlarium I Vikings: Free Online GameUndoFreedom Debt ReliefPeople In Heavy Debt Are In For A SurpriseFreedom Debt ReliefUndo Pensioner dies after crash on Paphos-Polis roadUndoRemand for pair in alleged property fraud (Updated)UndoThree arrested in connection with hotel theftsUndoby Taboolaby Taboolalast_img read more

Three held for car theft

first_imgTHREE persons were on Monday remanded in custody in connection with the theft of a car in Limassol.The vehicle in question, valued at around €700, was stolen on February 7 to 8 from the drive-in of the owner’s house.Following a complaint filed by the owner, police over the weekend located the car parked near the residence of a 30-year-old man.Police searched the man’s residence, where they found a number of parts that were removed from the stolen vehicle.Investigations also led to two other persons, aged 44 and 49.All three were arrested, and have been remanded in custody for three days. You May LikePopularEverythingColorado Mom Adopted Two Children, Months Later She Learned Who They Really ArePopularEverythingUndoLivestlyChip And Joanna’s $18M Mansion Is Perfect, But It’s The Backyard Everyone Is Talking AboutLivestlyUndoYahoo SearchYou’ve Never Seen Luxury Like This On A Cruise Ship. Search Luxury Mediterranean CruisesYahoo SearchUndo Pensioner dies after crash on Paphos-Polis roadUndoCruise passenger airlifted to Paphos hospitalUndoRemand for pair in alleged property fraud (Updated)Undoby Taboolaby Taboolalast_img read more