Bees trap deputy inside car for 3 hours

Tuesday was anything but a routine day for Deputy Brandon Jenkins, who spent three hours in his patrol car after nearly 50,000 honeybees decided to park on it.

The Wake County Sheriff’s Office officer had responded around 9:40 a.m. to a call of a person possibly being attacked by bees. He found a disabled truck on U.S. 64 a few miles east of Raleigh, North Carolina. Behind it was a trailer holding 60 boxes of bees.

The truck driver, who was headed for Rocky Mount, had been hauling the bees at night, when they are quiet and not apt to fly. He spent a couple hours after daybreak trying to get someone to tow the trailer and his truck…

That’s when Jenkins, 31, pulled up 50 yards behind in his Dodge Charger. By then, the day was beginning to warm…

Eventually, the vehicles were towed off, leaving him still in his Dodge. “I was told that usually when a truck starts moving, the bees will follow behind.”

Wrong…

The insects spent the next three hours crawling over the vehicle, especially on the trunk and side panels. “At some point, it was hard to see out of the windows,” said Jenkins.

Heatherly, a hobbyist, and Keller, a honeybee technician at North Carolina State University, went to work. “They got a little testy,” said Heatherly who, like Keller, was not wearing a protective body suit.

They used smoke on the bees, which Keller says “masks their communication,” and a spray bottle of sugar water. The sticky mix makes it harder for the bees to fly and they concentrate on grooming themselves rather than attacking humans…

Eventually, the beekeepers brushed the bees onto a piece of plastic and then into a hive box.

Keller and Heatherly between them were stung only three or four times. Jenkins said about six bees got in his patrol car. He dispatched a couple when “they got too close to my personal space.”

Mind your own beeswax, I always say.

Canadian nuclear facility at Chalk River ready to restart

A Canadian nuclear reactor is set to resume producing medical isotopes after being shut for 15 months of repairs.

The National Research Universal reactor in Chalk River, Ontario, was closed in May 2009 after a leak of heavy water within the reactor. It had been producing about a third of the world supply of medical isotopes.

The disruption to supply caused delays and cancellations of diagnostic tests that use the isotopes, including scans for cardiovascular disease and cancer…

Medical officials welcomed the 53-year-old reactor’s return to service

The shortage caused by the Chalk River reactor’s closure was exacerbated by the shut-down for maintenance of another major isotope-producing reactor in Petten, in the Netherlands.

The isotopes produced at the Chalk River plant are used for medical imaging and diagnostic scans for fractures, cancer and heart conditions.

Phew!

Offshore drilling faces actual review instead of a rubber stamp

The Obama administration said Monday that it would require significantly more environmental review before approving new offshore drilling permits, ending a practice in which government regulators essentially rubber-stamped potentially hazardous deepwater projects like BP’s out-of-control well.

The administration has come under sharp criticism for granting BP an exemption from environmental oversight for the Macondo well, which blew out on April 20, killing 11 workers and spewing nearly five million barrels of oil into the Gulf of Mexico.

The more stringent environmental reviews are part of a wave of new regulation and legislation that promises to fundamentally remake an industry that has operated hand-in-glove with its government overseers for decades…

You can guess who’s the hand and who’s the glove.

Drillers are already chafing under a moratorium on deepwater drilling in the gulf and strict new rules on shallow-water wells. The new environmental rules provide a foretaste of what the regulatory climate will be once the moratorium is lifted later this year. The House and Senate are moving legislation that will tighten regulatory standards for offshore drilling and put a higher multibillion-dollar limit on liability for damages from any future oil spill.

The administration is moving on a parallel track. After three months of review of federal environmental law, the White House Council on Environmental Quality on Monday recommended that the Interior Department suspend use of so-called categorical exclusions, which allow oil companies to sink offshore wells based on environmental impact statements for supposedly similar areas, while the department reviews the environmental impact. Permits for the Macondo well were based on exemptions written in 1981 and 1986. The waiver granted to BP in April 2009, as part of the permitting process for the doomed well, was based on the company’s claim that a blowout was unlikely and that if a spill did occur, it would cause minimal damage.

The Interior Department’s Minerals Management Service, recently renamed the Bureau of Ocean Energy Management, Regulation and Enforcement, issued hundreds of these exemptions in recent years to reduce the paperwork burden for oil companies seeking new wells and for government workers. As a result, there was no meaningful plan in place to cope with the BP spill and its impact on aquatic life and gulf shorelines.

This is the how and why that Mussolini always said that fascism should be called corporatism.

When the state and federal governments say nothing more than “how high” whenever corporations say “jump” – the result as defined by most legislation from Congress, rolled out in practice via regulatory agencies from the Interior Department to the SEC – is eventual disaster.

The cost in context, in environment, in jobs, in degradation of lifestyle and standing for working people and the middle class is exactly what you should expect. At least, if you ignore the lies of our politicians and collaboration of the press.

Measuring salt shine to improve climate understanding

From 14 – 25 August 2010, scientists from around the world are gathering in Southern Turkey to measure the spectral reflectance of a few square kilometres of salt. These measurements will have a major impact on the future of satellite based Earth observation, and will ultimately improve our understanding of the Earth’s climate.

For ten months of the year Tuz Golu (Lake Tuz) in southern Turkey appears to be like any other lake. However, during July and August it dries to become a bright, pristine, white surface, which is ideal for calibrating Earth observation satellites.

Tuz Golu is one of eight sites recently endorsed by the Committee on Earth Observation Satellites (CEOS) to become an international reference standard to evaluate satellites’ sensor-to-sensor biases, and also to calibrate/validate their radiometric performance…

Routine measurements for agriculture, resource and disaster monitoring rely on linking data from different satellites to ensure continuous time coverage, seeking to realise the vision of a Global Earth Observing System of Systems – GEOSS…

Whilst the scientists make ground-based measurements at Tuz Golu, a range of satellites will simultaneously measure the same site. This allows the satellites’ performances to be evaluated.

This comparison marks the first step towards establishing an operational calibration service for Earth observation sensors. The long-term goal is to automate and link the measurements of the eight reference sites as a network (LandNET), and then to tailor signals to match the different response and geometric conditions of different sensors.

Many folks who’ve never worked in science or engineering don’t realize the important of standards, the accuracy of standards. They figure the length of a foot from a yardstick is good enough – and if all you’re building is a tripod for bean runners in your garden, perfectly acceptable.

To gauge the usefulness of data – especially that gathered from distance as from the sensors in a satellite – accuracy of an agreed-upon standard is prime. Checking and re-checking that accuracy helps to guarantee productive results.

City of Atlanta to pay $4.9 million in police shooting of 92-year-old lady

Four years after rogue APD narcotics officers killed 92-year-old Kathryn Johnston during an illegal raid of her home, Atlanta Mayor Kasim Reed has offered her family a $4.9 million settlement…

Johnston was killed in November 2006 when a police drug unit tried to execute a “no-knock” warrant on her home, using information provided by an informant who claimed he had purchased drugs at from the home. After officers kicked in the door, the elderly Johnston reached for a gun and fired one shot. Police returned fire, killing her. No drugs were found, and officers planted drugs in the home that had been recovered from a different raid.

After an extensive local and federal probe, three officers — Arthur Tessler, Gregg Junnier and Jason R. Smith — pleaded guilty and were sentenced to federal prison for conspiring to violate Johnston’s civil rights.

In June 2009, a fourth officer, Wilbert Stallings, a former sergeant, also pleaded guilty to conspiring to violate Johnson’s civil rights and was sentenced to 18 months in federal prison. A fifth officer, Daniel Betts, pleaded guilty to taking payments from businesses in exchange for extra police vigilance and was sentenced to probation.

This past June, two Atlanta police officers involved in the shooting were fired by new police chief George Turner after an internal investigation found they lied and falsified documents; another officer resigned and six more were disciplined.

Were it not for the persistence of Mrs. Johnston’s neighbors and friends, we would likely never have known as much of the truth as has come out.

Doing a Dickens – online!

You won’t hear it said in many publishing houses these days, where those editors and managements who have survived the 10% cull in their numbers following the credit crunch now appear frozen in the headlights of the onrushing digital revolution. But from the point of view of authors, these are potentially exciting times.

Because, although advances have been slashed, and literary agents are wringing their hands at the difficulties in finding publishers for all but the most guaranteed fiction, change is on the way. With Apple’s iPad recently joining Amazon’s Kindle and the Sony Reader as devices for reading downloaded books, power in publishing might just be shifting in the authors’ favour…

With the news that Amazon now sells almost twice as many digital books as hardbacks in the US, it’s clear that publishing is changing. And if publishers can sell their books online, why can’t writers?

Actually, they can. It isn’t difficult. Anyone who is computer savvy can become a publisher these days. I know, because I’ve just become one.

I’m now Ray Connolly, writer, editor-in-chief and head of marketing of Plumray Books, and any one of the 2 billion computer-owning people in the world who wants to read my new novel, The Sandman, can do so at the click of a mouse. It’s being serialised chapter by chapter on my website where, over the next 10 weeks, it will build like a part-work. In the words of a friend, I’m “doing a Dickens”.

What’s more, it’s free – although should any readers want to find out how the The Sandman ends before October, and hopefully quite a few will, they can download the entire book for less than the cost of a paperback. After that it will go on to Amazon.

With one digital bound, I’ve become an entrepreneur. There’ll be an iPod version later, for those who want to listen to it being read, and of course there will be Facebook and Twitter links. Having begun this new career as an ePublisher, I feel empowered. As a one man band, I have nothing to lose.

Yes I will read it and join the throng of readers following authors directly online.

VFW employee creates paperless office – but, didn’t know you were supposed to make digital copies before shredding originals!

George Wincapaw thought he was getting some strange requests from the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs.

The 63-year-old Vietnam War veteran had had several heart attacks since leaving the Navy, submitting enough paperwork on them to amass a two-volume file at the Veterans Benefits Administration office. But in response to his most recent claim, submitted earlier this year, the office was requesting copies of medical records Wincapaw had already submitted.

Curious, he traveled from his home in Oconomowoc to the VA regional offices in Milwaukee to look at his medical file. What he found shocked him.

He wasn’t providing duplicates. Dozens of his medical records were missing.

Then the public contact representative with whom he was reviewing his file broke the news: An employee had been fired from the Veterans of Foreign Wars, Wincapaw’s representative agency, for destroying veterans’ records.

An official with the state VFW, which handles thousands of such cases a year, told Public Investigator the employee had shredded nearly all its veterans files – no one knows how many – after making a unilateral decision to go “paperless…”

Steve Lawrence, speaking for the group, admitted that Lee Guerrero, who represented veterans on their claims, was fired in August 2009 for shredding all of their claimant files in the VFW service office.

He did not keep electronic copies of the documents, either…

“He just thought going paperless meant getting rid of the files  . . . It cost him his job as soon as we found out about it,” Lawrence said.

RTFA. Explains other stuff you may find interesting as well.

Dumbest part? Employees who complained about what Guerrero was doing – were told to shut up. They weren’t high enough up the food chain to get anyone to listen to them.