Author Archive | SpaceNeedle

U.S. National Reconnaissance Office Launches New Spy Satellite

National Reconnaissance Office“NROL” is the designation for a series of classified satellites operated by the United States National Reconnaissance Office. As Ryan Gallagher reports on Slate:

Last week, a new U.S. spy satellite was launched into orbit as part of a secretive military program enabling the surveillance of Earth from space.

A live webcast showing the Delta IV rocket blast into the sky from Vandenberg Air Force Base in California on Tuesday was blacked out just three minutes after liftoff due to the sensitive nature of the mission, dubbed “NROL-25.”

An official at the Vandenberg base told the Los Angeles Times that the NROL-25 was part of a “national security payload,” which could mean it is to be used for any number of purposes, possibly including domestic surveillance. The Wall Street Journal reported in 2007 that U.S. intelligence agencies, in the aftermath of the 9/11 terrorist attacks, had approved the use of spy satellites for domestic purposes, such as for monitoring border security.

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Middle America Is Experiencing a Massive Increase in Earthquakes

Middle America Earthquake ZoneAlexis Madrigal writes on the Atlantic:

Earthquakes are striking the heartland from Alabama to Montana at an unprecedented rate — and human activity is probably to blame.

A new United States Geological Survey study has found that middle America between Alabama and Montana is experiencing an “unprecedented” and “almost certainly manmade” increase in earthquakes of 3.0 magnitude or greater. In 2011, there were 134 events of that size. That’s six times more than were normally seen during the 20th century.

While the changes in the area’s seismicity began in 2001, the trend has really accelerated since 2009, the geologists note. That happens to coincide with increased oil and gas production using new extraction techniques in some parts of the area.

The new work is being presented at the Seismology Society of America’s conference later this month. An abstract for the presentation is available online. In some regions, the increase in earthquakes is even greater than six fold.

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‘My Real Mother is a Green Alien’ Claims Labour Politician

Simon ParkesVia the Northern Echo:

A Labour politician has stunned his town council colleagues by claiming his “real mother” is a 9ft green alien with eight fingers.

Councillor Simon Parkes, who was elected to represent Stakesby ward on Whitby Town Council last month, said although he has had hundreds of close encounters with extra-terrestrials, it will not interfere with his mission to help residents at the seaside resort.

Speaking on YouTube, Coun Parkes said he first saw an alien at the age of eight months, when “a traditional kite-shaped face”, with huge eyes, tiny nostrils and a thin mouth appeared over his cot.

He said: “Two green stick things came in. I was aware of some movement over my head. I thought, ‘they’re not mummy’s hands, mummy’s hands are pink’.”

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Virgin Volcanic: Richard Branson To Journey to the Center of the Earth

Virgin VolcanicGreg Rose writes on Virgin:

Richard Branson launches journeys to the centre of the Earth through Virgin Volcanic. Academy Award winning actor Tom Hanks to join first expedition.

Only 500 people have been to space, only three people have been to the bottom of the ocean, but no one has ever attempted to journey to the core of an active volcano. Until now.

Using patented carbon-carbon materials pioneered for deep space exploration, Virgin is proud to announce a revolutionary new vehicle, VVS1, which will be capable of plunging three people into the molten lava core of an active volcano.

In its first three years of operation, Virgin Volcanic‘s VVS1 will target the five most active volcanoes in the world.

Sir Richard Branson will go on the first expedition along with Tom Hanks, Academy Award winning actor and star of Joe Versus the Volcano; Black Eyed Peas recording artist and science enthusiast Will.i.am; actor/producer Seth Green; and two-time Academy Award winning documentary filmmaker Barbara Kopple … : )

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Minnesota School Board Interferes With Senior’s Porn Star Prom Date

Mike StoneWhat a little genius. USA Today says:

A Minnesota school district has quashed a high school’s senior plan to bring a porn star to his senior prom.

Mike Stone, 18, had tweeted hundreds of porn actresses with an invitation to the Tartan High School prom May 12 until adult film star Megan Piper accepted his proposal.

Piper tells KSTP-TV’s Mark Saxenmeyer that she missed her own prom and couldn’t turn down Stone’s invitation.

“It was a sweet gesture. It was so cute. I couldn’t say no,” she tells the Twin Cities TV station.

The adult film star adds that she had no intention of turning the evening into a sordid spectacle: “I don’t plan to show up butt naked or anything. I’m going to wear a pretty prom dress.”

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Greece’s Cashless, Euro-Free Currency Working

HermesReports Jon Henley in the Guardian:

In recent weeks, Theodoros Mavridis has bought fresh eggs, tsipourou (the local brandy), fruit, olives, olive oil, jam, and soap. He has also had some legal advice, and enjoyed the services of an accountant to help fill in his tax return.

None of it has cost him a euro, because he had previously done a spot of electrical work – repairing a TV, sorting out a dodgy light – for some of the 800-odd members of a fast-growing exchange network in the port town of Volos, midway between Athens and Thessaloniki.

In return for his expert labour, Mavridis received a number of Local Alternative Units (known as tems in Greek) in his online network account. In return for the eggs, olive oil, tax advice and the rest, he transferred tems into other people’s accounts. “It’s an easier, more direct way of exchanging goods and services,” said Bernhardt Koppold, a German-born homeopathist and acupuncturist in Volos who is an active member of the network.

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Internet Providers to Start Policing the Web July 12th

MooninitesWTF? Via Russia Today:

Some of the biggest Internet service providers in America plan to adopt policies that will punish customers for copyright infringement, and one of the top trade groups in the music biz announced this week that it could begin as soon as this summer.

The chief executive officer of the Recording Industry Association of America told an audience of publishers on Wednesday that a plan carved out last year to help thwart piracy is expected to prevail and be put in place by this summer. RIAA CEO Cary Sherman was one of the guest speakers among a New York panel this week and he confirmed that, at this rate, some of the most powerful Internet providers in America should have their new policies on the books by July 12, 2012.

Last year, Time Warner, Verizon, AT&T, Comcast, Cablevision Systems and other Internet service providers proposed best practice recommendations that they suggested would help curb copyright crimes on the Web.

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Wal-Mart Will No Longer Have People Greeters At The Door

Wal-Mart GreeterSign of the times? Claire Gordon writes on AOL Jobs:

After 30 years, “People Greeters” will no longer welcome Walmart customers with a “cart and a smile.” Four months after Walmart got rid of its night-shift “People Greeters,” the big-box retailer is moving its day-shift greeters inside the store. Walmart claims it’s all in the name of better customer service, but the announcement has left some greeters uncertain about the future of their jobs.

Jerome Allen has greeted morning shoppers at Walmart for five years, the last two at a supercenter in Fort Worth, Texas. He heard through the grapevine that the store was reassigning its night-shift greeters, but was surprised when the store manager called him into his office on Thursday, and told him that there would be no more door greeters at all.

Allen’s new position, which begins Feb. 6, will be to stand in “high traffic” areas of the store, ask customers if they need any assistance, and direct the flow of traffic.

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Oxygen Discovered Around Saturn’s Icy Moon Dione

DionePallab Ghosh reports on BBC News:

A NASA spacecraft has detected oxygen around one of Saturn’s icy moons, Dione.

The discovery supports a theory that suggests all of the moons near Saturn and Jupiter might have oxygen around them.

Researchers say that their finding increases the likelihood of finding the ingredients for life on one of the moons orbiting gas giants.

The study has been published in Geophysical Research Letters. According to co-author Andrew Coates of University College London, Dione has no liquid water and so does not have the conditions to support life. But it is possible that other moons of Jupiter and Saturn do …

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