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Gay marriage banned in three states; other ballot measures decided

Sunday, November 9, 2008

Voters in California, Florida and Arizona voted on Tuesday to ban gay marriage, bringing about a victory for conservatives on a day which did not bring many conservative wins.

Meanwhile, voters in Colorado, South Dakota and California voted on measures which would have restricted abortion in those states. In Massachusetts and Michigan, voters passed measures that loosen marijuana laws. Finally, in the state of Washington a measure was passed that allows physician-assisted suicide.

The California ballot measure, Proposition 8, overturns the recent June ruling by the California State Supreme Court in the case In re Marriage Cases which reversed a 1977 statute passed by the California State Legislature and a 2000 ballot measure, Proposition 22, which also banned same-sex marriage by defining marriage as between a man and a woman. The wording of Proposition 8 is identical to Proposition 22. It was noted that many of the African-Americans and Latinos who cast their votes for Obama, also voted for the measure. The measure passed at 52% to 48%.

Lesbian comedian Ellen DeGeneres noted, “This morning, when it was clear that Proposition 8 had passed in California, I can’t explain the feeling I had. I was saddened beyond belief. Here we just had a giant step toward equality and then on the very next day, we took a giant step away.”

Okay, so I am taking that to mean I do not have to pay my state taxes because I am not a full citizen.

Singer Melissa Etheridge, who is also a lesbian, stated that she would no longer pay taxes due to the passing of Proposition 8, announcing in a blog post, “Okay, so I am taking that to mean I do not have to pay my state taxes because I am not a full citizen.”

Also in California, voters rejected a measure which would require parental notification for a minor to receive an abortion. The measure was rejected with the same percentage as Proposition 8, 52% to 48%. Meanwhile in Colorado, voters rejected a measure that would define life as beginning at conception. While the measure did not specifically mention abortion it would have required legislators and courts to confront legal rights for fetuses – effectively preventing abortion. The measure was defeated in a wide margin, 73% to 27%

In South Dakota, voters also defeated an anti-abortion measure which would have outlawed abortion in all cases except in the case of rape, incest or if the mother’s health was in serious question. If passed, the law would most likely have been challenged as unconstitutional.

In Michigan, voters approved a measure which legalizes medical marijuana. Meanwhile, in Massachusetts, voters approved a ballot question that decriminalizes possession of small amounts of marijuana in which the possession of an ounce or less would be punishable by a $100 fine. The measure will also require minors under the age 18 to participate in and complete a drug awareness program and do community service. Failure to do so, would net the minor a $1,000 fine.

“Tonight’s results represent a sea change. Voters have spectacularly rejected eight years of the most intense government war on marijuana since the days of ‘Reefer Madness,'” said Rob Kampia, executive director of the Marijuana Policy Project. “The people were ahead of the politicians on this issue; they recognize and want a more sensible approach to our marijuana policy,” said Whitney Taylor, the chair of Committee for Sensible Marijuana Policy, which backed the Massachusetts proposition.

Also, in Massachusetts, voters overwhelmingly, in every single Massachusetts city and town, rejected a ballot measure which would have eliminated the state income tax by 2010, the ballot measure was sponsored by the Committee for Small Government, which is headed up by two libertarians, Michael Cloud, a Libertarian Party candidate for U.S. Senate in 2002 and Carla Howell, Libertarian Party candidate for governor in the 2002 Massachusetts gubernatorial election.

The last time the income tax elimination measure was on the ballot was in 2002, where it was defeated, narrowly by 45.3%. This stunned supporters of the income tax, who mounted a fierce campaign against the measure this time warning Massachusetts residents that repealing the income tax would have drastic effects on the state’s finances, leading to cuts in services, education and local aid.

Finally, voters passed a question which bans dog racing in Massachusetts, which will lead to the closure of Massachusetts’ two greyhound racing tracks, Raynham-Taunton Greyhound Park and Wonderland Greyhound Park.

The campaign against dog racing was headed up by the Committee to Protect Dogs and endorsed by GREY2K USA and the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals along with other animal protection organizations who claimed that dog racing was inhumane as the dogs were stuffed into cramped cages and endured injuries. The measure was opposed by the park owners including George Carney who owns the Rayham-Taunton park and Charles Sarkis, a restaurateur who owns Wonderland.

“We did it. We did it for the dogs,” said Carey Thiel, executive director of GREY2K USA. “For 75 years, greyhounds in our state have endured terrible confinement and suffered serious injuries. We’re better than that,” Thiel added.

One campaign supporter, Sandy Bigelow noted, “It means everything. We’ve worked so hard for the dogs and they heard us. It feels so good. Oh, God, it feels so good.”

George Carney said of the results, “It’s not a very pleasant thing right now. Some of these people have been here 40 years. Here’s a company that did nothing wrong, paid their federal taxes on time, paid the town on time. The town is going to be a severe loser, and a lot of people here dedicated their life to the company.”

We did it. We did it for the dogs.

Both sides used emotionally-charged advertisements, the anti-racing side showing “sad-eyed greyhounds,” while the pro-racing side highlighted the workers who would be out of work when the tracks close.

Both measures must now come before the Massachusetts Governor’s Council for approval.

A ballot initiative approved by voters in the north-western state of Washington will make it the second state to permit physician-assisted suicide. Initiative 1000 follows the ten-year-old example of the Death With Dignity Act of neighboring Oregon, and will allow physicians to prescribe a lethal dose of medication for a terminally ill patient to administer themselves. It was approved by a margin of 16%, and the ‘Yes’ campaign outspent the ‘No’ campaign by more than three-to-one. The law comes into effect in 2009.

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Melbourne terror raids nab suspects

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Melbourne terror raids nab suspects
January 10th, 2021 | Uncategorized |

Tuesday, August 4, 2009

Australian Federal Police have caught four people suspected of plotting a terrorist attack in Melbourne. The suspects, all Australian citizens of Somali and Lebanese descent, were arrested early this morning Melbourne time.

“Police believe members of a Melbourne-based group have been undertaking planning to carry out a terrorist attack in Australia and allegedly involved in hostilities in Somalia,” a police statement says.

“The men’s intention was to actually go into the Army barracks and to kill as many soldiers as they could before they themselves were killed,” acting Australian Federal Police deputy commissioner Tony Negus told a press conference. “This operation has disrupted an alleged terrorist attack that could have claimed many lives.”

The raids were carried out by officers from Australian Security Intelligence Organisation, Australian Federal Police, Victoria Police, New South Wales Police and the New South Wales Crime Commission.

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Simple animals could live in Martian brines: Wikinews interviews planetary scientist Vlada Stamenkovi?

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Simple animals could live in Martian brines: Wikinews interviews planetary scientist Vlada Stamenkovi?
January 8th, 2021 | Uncategorized |

Wednesday, January 9, 2019

Planetary scientist Vlada Stamenkovi? of the NASA Jet Propulsion Laboratory and colleagues have developed a new chemical model of how oxygen dissolves in Martian conditions, which raises the possibility of oxygen-rich brines; enough, the work suggests, to support simple animals such as sponges. The model was published in Nature on October 22. Wikinews caught up with him in an email interview to find out more about his team’s research and their plans for the future.

The atmosphere of Mars is far too thin for humans to breathe or for lungs like ours to extract any oxygen at all. It has on average only around 0.6% of the pressure of Earth’s atmosphere, and this is mainly carbon dioxide; only 0.145% of the thin Martian atmosphere is oxygen. The new model indicated these minute traces of oxygen should be able to enter salty seeps of water on or near the planet’s surface at levels high enough to support life forms comparable to Earth’s microbes, possibly even simple sponges. Some life forms can survive without oxygen, but oxygen permits more energy-intensive metabolism. Almost all complex multicellular life on Earth depends on oxygen.

“We were absolutely flabbergasted […] I went back to recalculate everything like five different times to make sure it’s a real thing,” Stamenkovi? told National Geographic.

“Our work is calling for a complete revision for how we think about the potential for life on Mars, and the work oxygen can do,” he told Scientific American, “implying that if life ever existed on Mars it might have been breathing oxygen”.

Stamenkovi? et al cite research from 2014 showing some simple sponges can survive with only 0.002 moles of oxygen per cubic meter (0.064 mg per liter). Some microbes that need oxygen can survive with as little as a millionth of a mole per cubic meter (0.000032 mg per liter). In their model, they found there can be enough oxygen for microbes throughout Mars, and enough for simple sponges in oases near the poles.

In 2014, also suggesting multicellular life could exist on Mars, de Vera et al, using the facilities at the German Aerospace Center (DLR), studied some lichens, including Pleopsidium chlorophanum, which can grow high up in Antarctic mountain ranges. They showed those lichens can also survive and even grow in Mars simulation chambers. The lichens can do this because their algal component is able to produce the oxygen needed by the fungal component. Stamenkovi? et al’s research provides a way for oxygen to get into the Martian brines without algae or photosynthesis.

Stamenkovi? et al found oxygen levels throughout Mars would be high enough for the least demanding aerobic (oxygen-using) microbes, for all the brines they considered, and all the methods of calculation. They published a detailed map[3] of the distributions of solubility for calcium perchlorates for their more optimistic calculations, which they reckoned were closer to the true case, with and without supercooling. The lowest concentrations were shown in the tropical southern uplands. Brine in regions poleward of about 67.5° to the north and about 72.5° to the south could have oxygen concentrations high enough for simple sponges. Closer to the poles, concentrations could go higher, approaching levels typical of sea water on Earth, 0.2 moles per cubic meter (6.4 mg per liter), for calcium perchlorates. On Earth, worms and clams that live in the muddy sea beds require 1 mg per liter, bottom feeders such as crabs and oysters 3 mg per liter, and spawning migratory fish 6 mg per liter, all within 0.2 moles per cubic meter, 6.4 mg per liter.

((Wikinews)) Does your paper’s value of up to 0.2 moles of oxygen per cubic meter, the same as Earth’s sea water, mean that there could potentially be life on Mars as active as our sea worms or even fish?
Stamenkovi?: Mars is such a different place than the Earth and we still need to do so much more work before we can even start to speculate.

Stamenkovi? et al studied magnesium and calcium perchlorates, common on Mars. They found the highest oxygen concentrations occur when the water is colder, which happens most in polar regions.

((WN)) The temperatures for the highest levels of oxygen are really low, -133 °C, so, is the idea that this oxygen would be retained when the brines warm up to more habitable temperatures during the day or seasonally? Or would the oxygen be lost as it warms up? Or — is the idea that it has to be some exotic biochemistry that works only at ultra low temperatures like Dirk Schulze-Makuch’s life based on hydrogen peroxide and perchlorates internal to the cells as antifreeze?
Stamenkovi?: The options are both: first, cool oxygen-rich environments do not need to be habitats. They could be reservoirs packed with a necessary nutrient that can be accessed from a deeper and warmer region. Second, the major reason for limiting life at low temperature is ice nucleation, which would not occur in the type of brines that we study.

Stamenkovi? et al’s paper is theoretical and is based on a simplified general circulation model of the Mars atmosphere — it ignores distinctions of seasons and the day / night cycle. Stamenkovi?’s team combined it with a chemical model of how oxygen would dissolve in the brines and used this to predict oxygen levels in such brines at various locations on Mars.

When asked about plans for a future model that might include seasonal timescales, Stamenkovi? told Wikinews, “Yes, we are now exploring the kinetics part and want to see what happens on shorter timescales.”

Stamenkovi? et al’s model also takes account of the tilt of the Mars axis, which varies much more than Earth’s does.

Wikinews asked Stamenkovi? if he had any ideas about whether and how sponges could survive through times when the tilt was higher and less oxygen would be available:

((WN)) I notice from your figure[4] that there is enough oxygen for sponges only at tilts of about 45 degrees or less. Do you have any thoughts about how sponges could survive periods of time in the distant past when the Mars axial tilt exceeds 45 degrees, for instance, might there be subsurface oxygen-rich oases in caves that recolonize the surface? Also what is the exact figure for the tilt at which oxygen levels sufficient for sponges become possible? (It looks like about 45 degrees from the figure but the paper doesn’t seem to give a figure for this.)
Stamenkovi?: 45 deg is approx. the correct degree. We were also tempted to speculate about this temporal driver but realized that we still know so little about the potential for life on Mars/principles of life that anything related to this question would be pure speculation, unfortunately.
((WN)) How quickly would the oxygen get into the brines — did you investigate the timescale?
Stamenkovi?: No, we did not yet study the dynamics. We first needed to show that the potential is there. We are now studying the timescales and processes.
((WN)) Could the brines that Nilton Renno and his teams simulated, forming on salt/ice interfaces within minutes in Mars simulation conditions, get oxygenated in the process of formation? If not, how long would it take for them to get oxygenated to levels sufficient for aerobic microbes? For instance could the Phoenix leg droplets have taken up enough oxygen for aerobic respiration by microbes?
Stamenkovi?: Just like the answer above. Dynamics is still to be explored. (But this is a really good question ?).

Wikinews also asked Stamenkovi? how their research is linked to the recent discovery of possible large subglacial lake below the Martian South Pole found through radar mapping.

((WN)) Some news stories coupled your research with the subglacial lakes announcement earlier this year. Could the oxygen get through ice into layers of brines such as the possible subglacial lakes at a depth of 1.5 km?
Stamenkovi?: There are other ways to create oxygen. Radiolysis of water molecules into hydrogen and oxygen can liberate oxygen in the deep and that O2 could be dissolved in deep groundwater. The radiolytic power for this would come from radionuclides naturally contained in rocks, something we observe in diverse regions on Earth.
((WN)) And I’d also like to know about your experiment you want to send to Mars to help with the search for these oxygenated brines.
Stamenkovi?: We are now developing at “NASA/JPL-California Institute of Technology” a small tool, called TH2OR (Transmissive H2O Reconnaissance) that might one day fly with a yet-to-be-determined mission. It will use low frequency sounding techniques, capable of detecting groundwater at depths down to ideally a few km under the Martian surface, thanks to the high electric conductivity of only slightly salty water and Faraday’s law of induction. Most likely, such a small and affordable instrument could be placed stationary on the planet’s surface or be carried passively or actively on mobile surface assets; TH2OR might be also used in combination with existing orbiting assets to increase its sounding depth. Next to determining the depth of groundwater, we should also be able to estimate its salinity and indirectly its potential chemistry, which is critical information for astrobiology and ISRU (in situ resource utilization).
((WN)) Does your TH2OR use TDEM like the Mars 94 mission — and will it use natural ULF sources such as solar wind, diurnal variations in ionosphere heating and lightning?
Stamenkovi?: The physical principle it uses is the same and this has been used for groundwater detection on the Earth for many decades; it’s Faraday’s law of induction in media that are electrically conducting (as slightly saline water is).
Stamenkovi?: However, we will focus on creating our own signal as we do not know whether the EM fields needed for such measurements exist on Mars. However, we will also account for the possibility of already existing fields.
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Study says poor African American women less likely to receive pap smears">
Study says poor African American women less likely to receive pap smears

January 5th, 2021 | Uncategorized |

Wednesday, December 28, 2005Black American women living in communities with high poverty rates are significantly less likely to be screened for cervical cancer, a study finds.

The Harvard School of Public Health’s Geetanjali Dabral Datta investigated the relationship between individual characteristics and larger socioeconomic factors and cervical cancer screening rates. The Febreuary 1 issue of Cancer carries the study. More than 40,000 black women from across the United States participated in the Black Women’s Health Study.

“African-American women have twice the mortality rate from cervical cancer as white women,” said Elizabeth Ward, the director of the American Cancer Society. “Researchers need to investigate how those differences are related to socioeconomic status. One of the big factors that may account for this finding is access to high-quality medical care. Often communities that have high poverty rates either lack access to good quality care, or people have to travel longer distances to obtain high-quality care.”

David L. Katz at Yale University’s School of Medicine said; “While this finding is not surprising, it is noteworthy just the same. No one should die of cervical cancer, because a simple screening test reliably finds the condition in its earliest stages when cure is almost universally achievable. Yet, several thousand deaths from this cancer occur each year in the U.S.”

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How To Choose The Best Yogurt Maker

January 4th, 2021 | Cooking Appliance |

How to Choose the Best Yogurt Maker By Atica Brewton

Many people who are seeking a more healthy diet and lifestyle are contemplating what is the best yogurt maker for their budget. There are many different brands to choose from with a plethora of options and price ranges. Although there are many to choose from, the difference between competing yogurt makers is minimal. All you need is a device that will maintain the yogurt mixture at the required temperature for a set amount of time. Honestly, the best yogurt maker is the least expensive and most reliable appliance that fits your budget.

Many consumers choose the least expensive option and just won’t buy a yogurt maker. I don’t think these people are cheap, but I do think they should explore their options. Instead, they will use their oven for heat. This is a viable option but it will end up costing you in the long run because of how much electricity is required to keep an oven heated for at least 6 to 8 hours. I recommend they purchase a yogurt maker instead because it is more energy efficient and won’t use nearly as much electricity as their oven. I must repeat that they best yogurt maker is the most inexpensive option.

Another option I’ve heard from several people is to use a microwave convection oven. Once again, this is a large appliance that draws tons of electricity so your power bill will be affected from leaving the microwave on for several hours. Also your microwave is tied up and can’t be used while your yogurt is heating. Some people would be annoyed by the constant noise of the microwave. It just seems easier and more hassle-free to invest in an inexpensive yogurt maker.

There are several ways to make yogurt using alternative heat sources. All of these options are legitimate and can yield a wonderful tasting snack. I recommend that you follow whatever method works best for you. I like to keep things simple and worry-free. The less utensils I dirty during the process, the better. Since I make yogurt several times per week, this works best for me. In my opinion, the best yogurt maker is the most user-friendly and inexpensive device available.

The author’s website Yogurt Maker Enthusiast features tips on finding the best yogurt maker, how to use yogurt makers, yogurt starters and homemade yogurt recipes.

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Jawbone found in Aruba is not Natalee Holloway’s">
Jawbone found in Aruba is not Natalee Holloway’s

December 26th, 2020 | Uncategorized |

Thursday, November 25, 2010

A jawbone found in Aruba is not that of missing American Natalee Holloway, who was a recent high school-graduate at the time of her disappearance. Officials confirmed the news after Dutch scientists completed tests on the bone. The jawbone, which also had a wisdom tooth with it, was found by an American tourist close to the Phoenix Hotel. A second bone had also been found by another tourist earlier this month.

The bone was sent to the Netherlands Forensic Institute where scientists completed tests. They compared the bone to dental records given to them by Natalee’s father, from which they confirmed the the bone was not that of Natalee, although it was human. It was said to be unlikely that the bone was Holloway’s as there is no physical evidence that she was murdered.

Beth accepts the forensic conclusions, is emotionally exhausted from the inexplicably long wait, and deeply disappointed in the time and manner in which she learned of the results.

Taco Stein, the Aruban Solicitor General, released a statement after the announcement was made. He commented on the speed of the identification; he said that they had quickly ruled out Holloway because her records had shown that she had her wisdom teeth previously removed.

Tim Miller, the Director of the Texas EquuSearch, released a statement after talking to Natalee’s father. He said “Dave [Natalee’s father] has been in contact with Aruban authorities and spoke with FBI this morning, the agent working the case. Dave believes it is Natalee.”

An attorney for Natalee’s mother, Beth Twitty, released a statement saying “Beth accepts the forensic conclusions, is emotionally exhausted from the inexplicably long wait, and deeply disappointed in the time and manner in which she learned of the results.” He commented on the Aruban authorities saying that “Apparently Aruban prosecutors were more sensitive to media concerns than the painful vigil of a mother.”

Natalee Holloway disappeared on the island in 2005 while on a school trip. She was last seen leaving a nightclub with three men, one of which was later identified as Joran van der Sloot. Van der Sloot was detained twice by police but has never been charged with Holloway’s disappearance. He is currently in Peru facing a different murder charge. Aruban authorities have said that they are checking neighboring islands to find a match for other missing persons.

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Getting The Right Document Management Software For Your Business

December 23rd, 2020 | Cabinets |

By Doyle Christensen

Reliable document management software offers the combined benefits of filing cabinets, paper copiers, an efficient secretary, and a courier. Getting the right software to manage your documents can help a lot in the success of your business. There is no need to hire more employees just to organize your documents for easy access and retrieval. You can also save on expenses used buy sturdy file cabinets and to maintain a file room.

Here are some helpful ways you can do to determine which among the numerous options for document management software could be the best for your business.

1. Know your reasons

The need to use software to manage your documents could vary according to the nature of your business. For example, if you are a service agency with a large pool of clients, you need software for easy retrieval and access of client files. Time is very important in the business world, so it will help you a lot to shorten the length of time needed to access important files. You must also determine the organizational problems you are trying to solve. You might need to cut down cost of paperwork and file keeping, or you need to secure sensitive files to protect your operations.

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2. Plan it well

You must familiarize yourself with the types of documents your business usually process. Normally, a simple computer with reliable hard drive to store your files is enough if you run a small business that only maintains several files a year. However, if you have a large business that process hundreds or thousands of files every day, you need software for organization. Make a plan before you purchase any software. Consider the number of documents that your business creates that must be organized using the document management software. Include each type of file such as text files, presentations, spreadsheets, e-mails, and scanned documents.

3. Consider digital imaging

A digital imaging system can be a practical addition for the software you are looking for. This is useful since you need first to convert the existing documents into digital files before you can keep them using the software. Take note that most digital imaging systems have built-in interfaces that can be connected to a desktop scanner.

4. Assess the convenience of the process

Even if the document management software you find seems impressive, it will still pose organizational problems if your team finds it difficult to use. You must make certain that the software is user friendly. This can be solved by getting first a trial version of the software, for your team to assess the convenience. Remember, the main purpose of using automated software is to save on time and money, so your team must easily learn to complete the process with less data encoding.

5. Inquire about hosting

Normally, using document management software will provide you two options for hosting: using your own server (client server), or your software (vendor server). Using a client server is easier since you have remote access, which provides you more control. However, it needs expertise on your part and you need to allocate more funds to accommodate and maintain the server. On the other hand, the vendor server is managed by IT professionals who are experienced in this kind of workflow, and can provide more security and backup.

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Source:

isnare.com

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isnare.com/?aid=1675804&ca=Computers+and+Technology

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Ontario Votes 2007: Interview with Progressive Conservative candidate Pam Hundal, Bramalea—Gore—Malton">
Ontario Votes 2007: Interview with Progressive Conservative candidate Pam Hundal, Bramalea—Gore—Malton

December 22nd, 2020 | Uncategorized |

Thursday, October 4, 2007

Pam Hundal is running for the Progressive Conservatives in the Ontario provincial election, in the Bramalea—Gore—Malton riding.

Wikinews’ Nick Moreau requested an interview regarding her values, her experience, and her campaign. In response, Hundal’s campaign office did not send replies to the questions asked, but a general statement. Moreau has excerpted parts of her statement, placing them as answers to related questions. However, a great number of questions have been skipped in the process.

Stay tuned for further interviews; every candidate from every party is eligible, and will be contacted. Expect interviews from Liberals, Progressive Conservatives, New Democratic Party members, Ontario Greens, as well as members from the Family Coalition, Freedom, Communist, Libertarian, and Confederation of Regions parties, as well as independents.

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Massive blackouts hit Florida">
Massive blackouts hit Florida

December 22nd, 2020 | Uncategorized |

Tuesday, February 26, 2008

Massive blackouts occurred throughout the US state of Florida shortly after 1:00 p.m. Eastern Time (18:00 UTC) on Tuesday afternoon. Out of the 4.4 million customers served by Florida Power & Light, Co. (FPL), about 680,000 residents were affected, with an additional two million-plus customers affected in other parts of the state. It is estimated that as many as four million customers throughout Florida were affected, with many different power companies losing control of their specific grids.

Power outages were reported as far south as the Florida Keys, on the original FPL grid, and as far north as Orlando and Daytona Beach, nearly 300 miles (483 km) away on the Progress Energy grid. Most of Miami-Dade and parts of Broward and Palm Beach counties suffered the worst outages.

FPL President Armando Olivera said that a disconnect switch failed at 1:08 p.m. at the automated substation west of Miami, and a piece of equipment that controls voltage caught fire about the same time. Neither failure by itself would have caused a widespread outage. The event at the utility’s Flagami substation consequently led to the rolling blackouts.

Originally the first failure was thought to have occurred at the utility’s nuclear plant at Turkey Point. It is still unclear how failure at this site spread, but with power turning off at the main Turkey Point location, which serves all of south Florida, FPL’s grid shut down as well. It contributed to a domino effect which ended up sapping energy from bordering grids all over Florida.

Police reported several people were stuck in the elevators of high-rise buildings in downtown Miami and several hospitals were running on backup power, although no injuries or fatalities have been reported. The blackouts caused major traffic jams and a few accidents, but the original outage was contained shortly after it occurred. All customers affected had power restored to them by 6:30 p.m. (23:30 UTC).

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Bobby Charlton launches anti-landmine campaign">
Bobby Charlton launches anti-landmine campaign

December 20th, 2020 | Uncategorized |

Saturday, June 28, 2008

Football legend Sir Bobby Charlton has launched a new campaign he calls “There Must be a Better Way” to find a faster method to clear anti-personnel landmines. The initiative which comes under his “Laureus Sport for Good Foundation” and involves physicists, mathematicians and electronic engineers from the University of Manchester and Lancaster University. In addition the Mines Advisory Group, a mine clearance charity, and the security systems company Rapiscan are involved.

Charlton first became interested in the problem of clearing anti-personnel landmines while visiting Bosnia on a Laureus funded Spirit of Soccer camp. He was appalled by the injuries he saw, especially to children, caused by abandoned anti-personnel mines. Later his visited Cambodia where there are estimated to be four to six million mines. Charlton was told it would take 100 years to clear the mines.

On the way back to Manchester, passing through airport metal detectors, he thought that surely there must be a better way to detect landmines than the laborious method he had seen using only a metal detector and a bayonet. As the mines are made mainly of plastic and have only a small amount of metal every piece of metal including shrapnel must be investigated to see if it is a mine.

He contacted Rapiscan and through them the University of Manchester to see if there was anyone who could help. The University has a number of scientists and engineers with relevant experience, including a project EMBody to develop the next generation walk through metal detector, in collaboration with Rapiscan and Manchester Airport, and work on a scanning metal detector used to image steel reinforcing bars in concrete.

On June 12th a demonstration was arranged at a disused quarry where Sir Bobby and the Professors of Electrical Engineering, Mathematics and Physics were shown the power of explosives. This included a demonstration where an explosive charge of about 50g of high explosive, about the same amount as a medium sized landmine, was placed under a sand-filled Wellington boot. The charge was detonated with a resounding bang that echoed around the quarry. The boot was projected tens of metres in the air. And when examined the toe had been cut off and the rubber shredded. The shock wave from the explosives thumped the chests of the scientists even at a safe distance. One commented that there was no chance of using delicate instrumentation anywhere near a possible explosion and they had to seek simple solutions.

“Last time I saw a boot fly through the air like that it was against Bolton” said Charlton, but there was a sombre but excited mood as the scientists headed back to the University, buzzing with ideas.

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