The US SpaceX company has announced its intention to take a big slice of the market for launching the world’s TV and telecoms satellites.
The California outfit has just launched a new platform for satellite operator SES to serve its growing customer base in India and South East Asia…It is the first time SpaceX has put a satellite in a geostationary transfer orbit, far above the Earth.
The launch took place at Cape Canaveral in Florida…
SpaceX’s Falcon 9 rocket got up off the pad at 17:41 local time (22:41 GMT) and released the SES-8 platform on its planned trajectory some 33 minutes later…
SpaceX is promising to substantially undercut the existing players on price, and SES, the world’s second largest telecoms satellite operator, believes the incumbents had better take note of the California company’s capability.
“The entry of SpaceX into the commercial market is a game-changer – it is going to really shake the industry to its roots,” SES’s chief technical officer Martin Halliwell told BBC News before the launch.
The flight from Cape Canaveral was the seventh mission to date for a Falcon 9.
The progression to longer flights, larger payloads, appears to be doing just fine. At this rate, I expect they’ll land a Tesla on the moon for Chinese astronauts to drive around in.
RTFA for lots more detail, background. I chose one of the longer videos – worth watching.
Lewis Hamilton wins first F1 race in U.S. since 2007
A bold passing maneuver at the end of a long straightway slipped Lewis Hamilton past Sebastian Vettel, and the McLaren driver went on to win the U.S. Grand Prix on Sunday in the first Formula One race on American soil since 2007.
The drivers’ championship will be settled next week in Sao Paolo, Brazil, after Red Bull’s Vettel finished second and Ferrari’s Fernando Alonso third.
“Wicked!” said Hamilton, who pumped his fists, waved to the crowd and danced a jig on the nose of his car after his fourth win of the season. “This is one of the best, if not the best Grand Prix, we’ve had all year.”
Vettel started the race in the pole position and led the first 41 laps before Hamilton caught him, sneaking past Vettel just before they reached the tight corner on turn No. 12 at the Circuit of the Americas. Hamilton started in the No. 2 position and pushed Vettel at every opportunity.
“It was a close fight with Lewis. He had one chance and took it. There wasn’t much between us,” Vettel said.
Vettel, the defending two-time Formula One champion, remains slightly ahead of Ferrari’s Alonso in the drivers’ championship, meaning the title will come down to the final race of the season.
Hamilton, who won the last U.S. Grand Prix, talked all week about how much he loves the United States and how badly he wanted to win in his return.
With the stars and stripes of the American flag painted on top of his helmet, Hamilton pulled off the daring move of the race with his pass. Vettel had been dominant in practice and qualifying on the new $400 million track that none of the teams had driven before this week, but couldn’t hold off the former world champion Sunday.
Kudos to Lewis Hamilton and McLaren – and special cheers for Austin, Texas which did a fabulous job not only with the technical side of the race – they made lots of friends for the world’s number one motorsport and the city of Austin with their friendliness, helpful attitude.
I watched the race on SpeedTV and just about every spectator and journalist interviewed couldn’t say enough about how well they were treated.
China launched its most ambitious space mission yet on Saturday, carrying its first female astronaut and two male colleagues in an attempt to dock with an orbiting module and work on board for more than a week.
The Shenzhou 9 capsule lifted off as scheduled at 6:37 p.m. (1037 GMT) from the Jiuquan Satellite Launch Center on the edge of the Gobi Desert. All systems functioned normally and, just over 10 minutes later, it opened its solar panels and entered orbit…
Female astronaut Liu Yang, 33, and two male crew members – mission commander and veteran astronaut Jing Haipeng, 45, and newcomer Liu Wang, 43 – are to dock the spacecraft with a prototype space lab launched last year in a key step toward building a permanent space station. All three are experienced pilots and officers in the Chinese air force…
China is hoping to join the United States and Russia as the only countries to send independently maintained space stations into orbit. It is already one of just three nations to have launched manned spacecraft on their own.
Another manned mission to the module is planned later this year, while possible future missions could include sending a man to the moon.
The space program is a source of enormous national pride for China, reflecting its rapid economic and technological progress and ambition to rank among the world’s leading nations. The selection of the first female astronaut is giving the program an additional publicity boost…
The astronauts are expected to reach the module, called Tiangong 1, on Monday. Now orbiting at 343 kilometers above Earth, the module is only a prototype, and plans call for it to be replaced by a larger permanent space station due for completion around 2020…
China has only limited cooperation in space with other nations and its exclusion from the ISS, largely on objections from the United States, was one of the key spurs for it to pursue an independent space program 20 years ago.
At the current rate of progress in the United States, I imagine China will share the sale of tickets to the Moon and Mars with Space-X to members of Congress who care to visit in the next 50 years. Our politicians really deserve “credit” for the results of their Cold war mentality.
Thekla Walker elected new co-leader of the Greens in Baden-Wuerttemberg
Daylife/Getty Images used by permission
The Greens have grown out of their woolly jumpers and sandals and turned enough fellow Germans on to environmentalism to make the party — already the world’s most successful green movement — the possible kingmakers in the 2013 elections.
Founded three decades ago by rebels from the 1968 student movement, ‘ban-the-bomb’ peaceniks, ecologists and feminists, the Greens got their first taste of power from 1998 to 2005 under Gerhard Schroeder’s Social Democrats (SPD).
But they have come into their own in the past year. A strong run of local elections gave them a presence in all 16 regional assemblies for the first time as well as their first state premier, Winfried Kretschmann, who ousted Chancellor Angela Merkel’s Christian Democrats (CDU) in conservative Baden-Wuerttemberg…
“We have shown that economics and ecology don’t contradict each other — which is a quantitative leap forward,” said party co-leader Claudia Roth in an interview…
The party has climbed to historic highs in opinion polls in the past year of 15-20 percent, from 10.7 percent in the last elections in 2009.
It has now surpassed the current junior coalition partners, the Free Democrats (FDP), to become the third force in a system that has been dominated by the conservatives, now at around 32 percent, and the SPD, who poll as much as 30 percent…
As conservative German voters’ old animosity to the environmentalists fades, “well-educated, higher-income people — the upper-middle class — are moving toward the Greens and forgetting the old ideological barriers between them,” said politics professor Gero Neugebauer at Berlin’s Free University.
Now renewable energy is creating more jobs than traditional industry in parts of former East Germany, the financial crisis has turned once radical Green ideas like financial transactions taxes mainstream, and the Greens side with the once-demonized International Monetary Fund in some areas of financial policy.
RTFA. Lots of detail, anecdotal information.
The German Greens could give lessons to the middle-class radicals in the United States who occasionally play Lets Pretend to be a Political Party.
Daylife/Getty Images used by permission
India has “never been closer” to wiping out polio, India’s health minister has declared as he marked World Polio Day.
There have been no new cases for more than nine months, making it the longest polio-free period since the global eradication campaign was launched. The only case reported this year was in the state of West Bengal in January. There were 39 cases reported over a similar period in 2010.
India is one of only four countries in the world where polio is still endemic. The virus is also prevalent in Afghanistan, Pakistan and Nigeria.
The overall trend in India is so positive that its vaccination programme is being discussed as one other countries might learn from.
Pakistan is a particular concern. It has seen 118 new cases so far this year concentrated in poor, insecure areas: Karachi, Baluchistan and the tribal areas close to the border with Afghanistan.
The two countries routinely re-infect each other. Afghanistan has seen 40 new cases this year. The continuing violence there also makes it hard to reach vulnerable children. Nigeria too has seen a surge in cases this year which have undermined recent gains…
Some communities simply do not trust the people who administer the vaccine and fear it could hurt their children… But they trust their priests.
The health ministry reported that no cases were reported from the northern state of Uttar Pradesh for 18 months…
Uttar Pradesh has been one of the worst-affected regions in the world’s fight against polio with hundreds of cases reported until a few years ago. Of the 549 polio cases in India in 2008, 297 were in Uttar Pradesh.
It is especially heartwarming for a grayhead like me to witness this victory. I grew up in a time when polio threatened all societies. Beaches and pools were often closed in summer because of the threat of contagion. All of us knew someone in every neighborhood who died or was left paralyzed by the disease.
I experienced each stage of vaccine development from early days of the first vaccinations, needle sticks and terrified children as kids always are over needles – on through to oral vaccines. The relief experienced by my parents, all parents in the factory town I grew up in. The minority of superstitious nutballs who kept their kids from safety were looked at as fools who fortunately only constituted a danger to themselves – and unfortunately to their own children.
Vaccinating children aged two to four years against seasonal influenza resulted in a 34% decline in flu-like illnesses, found a study in Canadian Medical Association Journal. Preschool-aged children have influenza infection rates of 25%-43%, higher than other age groups. Vaccinating healthy children can help prevent spread of infection in the home and the community.
In 2006 through 2007, the US Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices expanded its recommendations to give the seasonal flu vaccine to children beyond the current target group of 6 months to 23 months of age. However, Canada’s National Advisory Committee on Immunization did not, allowing a comparison of vaccination practices between the two countries.
Researchers from the Children’s Hospital Boston and Harvard Medical School in Boston, Massachusetts, and McGill University and the Montreal Public Health Department in Montréal, Quebec evaluated the impact of the expanded US policy on influenza-related visits to the emergency department at the Children’s Hospital Boston compared with Montreal Children’s Hospital. They looked at visits to the emergency department in 2000/2001 through 2008/2009 at the two hospitals…
…The researchers analyzed the visits associated with flu-like illnesses and found that “both hospitals had strong seasonal fluctuations in visits related to influenza-like illness in younger age groups, with more subtle seasonal patterns in older pediatric age groups and similar seasonal epidemic increases, declines and peak timing of the epidemic curve,” write Drs. John Brownstein and Anne Hoen, Children’s Hospital Boston, with coauthors.
“Following the policy change in the United States, we observed a decline in the rate of emergency department visits for influenza-like illness at Children’s Hospital Boston relative to the Montreal Children’s Hospital in the target age group, children two to four years old,” they state.
They also saw declines of 11%-18% in other nontarget age groups (ages 0-1 year, 2-4 years, 5-9 years and 10-18 years), which may be related to an overall reduction of influenza in transmission at home and in the community because of vaccination of two to four year olds…
“…Our findings provide evidence that, in our US study community (i.e., Boston), the recommendation of the Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices to routinely vaccinate preschool-aged children against seasonal influenza is improving pediatric influenza-related outcomes,” conclude the authors.
Not only seems reasonable; but, overdue. I have no idea why it’s taken either nation so long to get round to this level of vaccnation – but, I’m glad they finally did.
After all, half my North American kinfolk live in the GWN. :)
For generations we have been taking fish out of the ocean at a rate faster than they can reproduce. The problem is that there are fewer and fewer fish to meet an ever-increasing demand. The solution is simply to take less so that we can continue eating fish for a longer time.
Opponents of conservation, however, argue that regulating fishing will destroy jobs and hurt the economy–but they are wrong, and there are real-world examples that prove this. A scientific study published today by the Public Library of Science shows that protecting an area brings the fish back, and creates jobs and increases economic revenue for the local communities. I have seen it with my own eyes and, believe me, it is like a miracle, only that it is not–it’s just common business sense.
Cabo Pulmo National Park in Baja California, Mexico, was protected in 1995 to safeguard the largest coral community in the Gulf of California. When I dove there for the first time in 1999, I thought the corals were very nice, but there were not so many fishes, and I didn’t think the place was extraordinary. Together with Octavio Aburto and other Mexican colleagues we dove at many sites in the gulf, in a region spanning over 1,000 km. Cabo Pulmo was just like most other places I’d seen in the Gulf of California.
But the Cabo Pulmo villagers wanted more. They decided that the waters in front of their settlement were going to be a no-take marine reserve – fishing was banned with the hopes of bringing the fish back. They had a vision, and they succeeded in a way that exceeded all expectations, including mine.
In 2009 we went back to Cabo Pulmo to monitor the fish populations. We jumped in the water, expecting fishes to be more abundant after 10 years of protection. But we could not believe what we saw–thousands upon thousands of large fishes such as snappers, groupers, trevally, and manta rays. They were so abundant that we could not see each other if we were fifteen meters apart. We saw more sharks in one dive at Cabo Pulmo than in 10 years of diving throughout the Gulf of California!
Our research indicated that the fish biomass increased by 460% at Cabo Pulmo–to a level similar to remote pristine coral reefs that have never been fished. In contrast, all other sites in the Gulf of California that we revisited in 2009 were as degraded as ten years earlier. This shows that it is possible to bring back the former richness of the ocean that man has obliterated, but that without our dedication, the degradation will continue.
It seems like a win-win to me! The question is: how can we have more of these?
The question isn’t new – nor is the solution. Quick and responsible solution? Offer a collaborative between enviros and fishing fleets. A certain percentage of the time – especially if the fishing is based in local communities rather than international brigands – that collaborative solution is possible and succeeds.
No collaboration? That’s what we have governments for.
The first evidence has emerged that nationwide vaccination programmes for young women against HPV, the virus that triggers cervical cancer, are likely to cut the numbers who get the disease.
A study in Australia, one of the first countries to introduce the vaccination, has shown a drop in high-grade cervical abnormalities – changes to the cells in the neck of the womb that can be the precursor to cancer.
Australia introduced nationwide HPV (human papilloma virus) vaccination for women aged 12 to 26 from 2007.
While it will take many years to find out whether vaccination programmes definitely reduce the numbers of cervical cancers in the population, Australian scientists were able to analyse the results from their screening programme to find out whether there has been any drop in the number of young women with abnormal cell changes that are the precursor of cancer…
That finding, say the authors, “reinforces the appropriateness of the targeting of prophylactic HPV vaccines to pre-adolescent girls”…
In spite of worries that parents would refuse to have their daughters vaccinated against what is essentially a sexually-transmitted virus, the take-up has been good, according to figures from the Department of Health.
Well, that’s the case in the UK and, obviously, in Australia.
Meanwhile – here in the land of religious nutballs, spooky vaccination deniers and opportunist pundits and politicians, the uptake is more like negligible. While about 25% of girls targeted as the best vector for the vaccination received the first shot – the number receiving the full course of three shots is more like 11%.
A family around the supper table
Growing numbers of gay couples across the country are adopting, according to census data, despite an uneven legal landscape that can leave their children without the rights and protections extended to children of heterosexual parents.
Same-sex couples are explicitly prohibited from adopting in only two states — Utah and Mississippi — but they face significant legal hurdles in about half of all other states, particularly because they cannot legally marry in those states.
Despite this legal patchwork, the percentage of same-sex parents with adopted children has risen sharply. About 19 percent of same-sex couples raising children reported having an adopted child in the house in 2009, up from just 8 percent in 2000…
That reality has been shaped by what advocates for gay families say are two distinct trends: the need for homes for children currently waiting for adoption — now about 115,000 in the United States — and the increased acceptance of gays and lesbians in American society.
The American family does not look the same as it did 30 years ago, they argue, and the law has just been slow to catch up.
Most of the legal obstacles facing gay couples intending to adopt stem from prohibitions on marriage, according to the Family Equality Council, an advocacy group for gay families. In most states, gay singles are permitted to adopt…
“The reality is we really need foster and adoptive parents, and it doesn’t matter what the relationship is,” said Moira Weir, director of the job and family services department in Hamilton County, Ohio. “If they can provide a safe and loving home for a child, isn’t that what we want?”
RTFA. Lots of details.
Providing a safe and loving home for a child is not – of course – what homophobes and other bigots care about. Ordering a nation to obey moral precepts from the dim and backwards history of religion and laws that pander to such foolishness is the goal of fundamentalist opposition to most civil rights, civil liberties and equal opportunities for American citizens.
“Peace on Earth, good will to all” – is how most organized religion speaks [way too highly] of itself in America. Practice does not follow propaganda. What’s characterized as dissent within these religion/businesses is often a willingness and hope to return to those original values. If they think they stand a chance.
NEWS: ANALYSIS & COMMENTARY
By Cliff Edwards
For years, Apple Computer CEO Steven P. Jobs has tried working with retailers to make shopping for Apple’s stylish products as appealing as using them–everything from setting up kiosks to special sections adorned with Apple’s Think Different posters. Still, the computer maker’s share has fallen, and Jobs figures he knows why. “Buying a car is no longer the worst purchasing experience. Buying a computer is now No. 1,” he griped at the MacWorld trade show in January.
Now, he’s taking matters into his own hands. On May 19, Apple will open a swanky new retail store–the first of as many 110 nationwide–at Tyson’s Corner Galleria mall outside Washington. While Apple execs won’t comment on their plans, the idea seems clear: Well-trained Apple salespeople in posh Apple stores can convince would-be buyers of the Mac’s unique advantages, including its well-regarded iMovie software for making home videos and its iTunes program for burning custom CDs…
The way Jobs sees it, the stores look to be a sure thing. But even if they attain a measure of success, few outsiders think new stores, no matter how well-conceived, will get Apple back on the hot-growth path. Jobs’s focus on selling just a few consumer Macs has helped boost profits, but it is keeping Apple from exploring potential new markets. And his perfectionist attention to aesthetics has resulted in beautiful but pricey products with limited appeal outside the faithful: Apple’s market share is a measly 2.8%. “Apple’s problem is it still believes the way to grow is serving caviar in a world that seems pretty content with cheese and crackers,” gripes former Chief Financial Officer Joseph Graziano.
Rather than unveil a Velveeta Mac, Jobs thinks he can do a better job than experienced retailers at moving the beluga. Problem is, the numbers don’t add up…Apple would have to sell $12 million a year per store to pay for the space. Gateway does about $8 million annually at each of its Country Stores. Then there’s the cost of construction, hiring experienced staff. “I give them two years before they’re turning out the lights on a very painful and expensive mistake,” says Goldstein…
Maybe it’s time Steve Jobs stopped thinking quite so differently.
An example why – before making a business decision, equity purchase, or maybe just buying a new TV set – you should consider the opinions of several analysts. Not just one.
Apple now has over 320 stores around the world. Cliff Edwards still writes for Bloomberg Businessweek. BTW, Bloomberg is still one of the several sources I always consult about business, not necessarily technology.
Thanks, Charles Jade