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Archive for April 8th, 2011

Nazi warplane lying off UK coast is preserved intact

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A rare World War Two German bomber, shot down over the English Channel in 1940 and hidden for years by shifting sands at the bottom of the sea, is so well preserved a British museum wants to raise it.

The Dornier 17 — thought to be world’s last known example — was hit as it took part in the Battle of Britain.

It ditched in the sea just off the Kent coast, southeast England, in an area known as the Goodwin Sands. The plane came to rest upside-down in 50 feet of water and has become partially visible from time to time as the sands retreated before being buried again…

Ian Thirsk, from the RAF Museum at Hendon in London, told the BBC he was “incredulous” when he first heard of its existence and potential preservation. “This aircraft is a unique aeroplane and it’s linked to an iconic event in British history, so its importance cannot be over-emphasized, nationally and internationally,” he said. “It’s one of the most significant aeronautical finds of the century…”

Striking high-resolution images appear to show that the Goodwin Sands plane suffered only minor damage, to its forward cockpit and observation windows, on impact.

Wartime archaeology is fascinating stuff. Revisiting technology lost to the scrapyard is part. Bringing back the look and feel of the technology dedicated to the wrong side of the war is another.

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Written by Ed Campbell

April 8, 2011 at 10:00 pm

Electric super bus that can reach 250km/h

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The Superbus concept, which could give business commuters and tourists a new luxury high-speed link between Abu Dhabi and Dubai, moves a step closer to fruition in the UAE next week when it will be showcased outside Europe for the first time.

The first prototype version of the Superbus makes its Middle East debut when it goes on show at the five-day UITP Mobility and City Transport Expo getting under way on Sunday at Dubai National Exhibition and Convention Centre…

Carrying 23 passengers at 250 kmh on a dedicated “speed track”, the Superbus will cut the commute time between Abu Dhabi and Dubai to 30 minutes, and is seen by its European designers as the shape of things to come in sustainable transport.

The Superbus is the brainchild of a design team at TU Delft University of Technology in Holland who have brought the prototype to the UAE after an exploratory initial visit coinciding with last month’s Commercial Vehicles Middle East exhibition and conference in Dubai…It has been dubbed the “Dutch solution” to the three ills of public transportation: congestion, pollution, and safety…

“Superbus will have an intelligent routing system rather than a fixed schedule. Commuters will book online or with their mobile phone, and the bus picks them up and drops them at their desired location.”

Offering the convenience of a car, the Superbus is 15 meters long and has eight doors on each side. It would run on a dedicated two-lane highway between Abu Dhabi and Dubai, and leave the “speed track” in urban areas to drop off passengers at agreed locations…

Produced as a result of feasibility studies by the Dutch government for a route in northern Holland, the UAE is confident it makes sense for interconnections both for business and tourism.

And it rocks!

Written by Ed Campbell

April 8, 2011 at 6:00 pm

Little old lady cuts off web access to whole country of Armenia

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An elderly Georgian woman was scavenging for copper to sell as scrap when she accidentally sliced through an underground cable and cut off internet services to all of neighbouring Armenia…

The woman, 75, had been digging for the metal not far from the capital Tbilisi when her spade damaged the fibre-optic cable on 28 March.

As Georgia provides 90% of Armenia’s internet, the woman’s unwitting sabotage had catastrophic consequences. Web users in the nation of 3.2 million people were left twiddling their thumbs for up to five hours as the country’s main internet providers – ArmenTel, FiberNet Communication and GNC-Alfa – were prevented from supplying their normal service. Television pictures showed reporters at a news agency in the capital Yerevan staring glumly at blank screens.

Large parts of Georgia and some areas of Azerbaijan were also affected…

Dubbed “the spade-hacker” by local media, the woman – who has not been named – is being investigated on suspicion of damaging property. She faces up to three years in prison if charged and convicted.

A spokesman for Georgia’s interior ministry said the woman was temporarily released “on account of her old age” but could face more questioning…

Pulling up unused copper cables for scrap is a common means of making money in the former Soviet Union. Some entrepreneurs have even used tractors to wrench out hundreds of metres of cable from the former nuclear testing ground at Semipalatinsk in Kazakhstan.

Yup. Let’s wander around a nuclear-testing site trying to find something worth scrounging.

Then, complain to the government a week later about glowing in the dark.

Written by Ed Campbell

April 8, 2011 at 2:00 pm

Debris from Japan tsunami floating towards US west coast

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Cars, tractors, boats and the occasional entire house have been spotted floating on the surface of the Pacific Ocean in the aftermath of the March 11 Japanese tsunami triggered by a 9.0 magnitude earthquake.

The largest “island” of debris stretches 60 nautical miles (69 miles) in length and covers an expanse of more than 2.2 million square feet, according to the US Navy’s 7th Fleet, which is closely monitoring the floating rubbish.

It is very large and it’s a maritime hazard,” Lieutenant Anthony Falvo, deputy public affairs officer for the US Navy’s 7th Fleet, told the Daily Telegraph. “The damage it can cause is anything from piercing the hull of a ship to leaving dents or getting wrapped up in propulsion systems.”

Experts have reportedly estimated that it could take up to two years for the floating tsunami debris to hit Hawaii and three years for the West Coast.

The US navy is currently working with civilian construction companies from Japan on attempts to start removing the floating debris from the ocean.

We look forward to American media coverage of the landing of the debris from this disaster on our shores. Sensationalism never misses a chance at the ghastly. Fox News probably has someone already stationed on the coast watching for bodies.

Written by Ed Campbell

April 8, 2011 at 10:00 am

USDA finally approves test-and-hold meat safety requirements

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Nearly 10 years since it first considered the idea, the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) has finally decided to make processors hold onto meat being tested by federal regulators and not sell it until results demonstrate it’s safe to consume.

The USDA’s Food Safety and Inspection Service (FSIS) first thought of imposing this requirement in 2002, but held off out of concern for how it might impact small operators…

What a diplomatic way to say that lobbyists for meatpackers screamed and hollered over profits that might be delayed as much as 24 hours.

Federal officials say that if the requirement had been in effect beginning in 2007, it would have prevented dozens of meat recalls and saved $46 million a year through 2009.

The new rule is subject to a 90-day public comment period, after which the FSIS will examine any feedback and decide whether any changes should be made before rendering a final decision on adoption.

Here’s where to comment after the rule is published.

So, if you have major slaughterhouses in your state – don’t worry about your elected representatives in Congress running short on animal protein for the next three months. For a change they’ll have a surplus of pork. For sure.

Written by Ed Campbell

April 8, 2011 at 6:00 am

Family busted for arranging fake marriages

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Immigration officials have arrested three people in connection with the charging of up to $60,000 to arrange fake marriages for illegal immigrants, authorities said.

In all, 21 suspicious visa petitions were traced back to the business, MPEagle Consultants, which is alleged to have charged $15,000 to $60,000 for its services, the Immigration and Customs Enforcement agency said.

The three suspects — all members of one family — owns an immigration-consulting business that caters primarily to Indian nationals who sought marriage certificates and work visas, according to federal authorities.

Authorities said Ajit Kumar Bhargava, 61; his wife, Nisha Bhargava, 56; and their daughter, Runjhun Bhargava, 30; were arrested on suspicion of immigration fraud charges after being named in a criminal complaint filed in U.S. District Court. They are Yorba Linda residents.

Federal authorities said they launched their investigation in September 2009 after they noticed suspicious similarities among the business’ visa applications. In some cases, the same “spouses” and marriage witnesses were used, according to authorities.

Looks like ripping off illegal aliens from India is a lot more profitable than ripping off illegal aliens from Mexico.

Written by Ed Campbell

April 8, 2011 at 2:00 am

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