Jan 17
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Volkswagen engulfed by diesel emissions scandal

Tuesday, September 22, 2015

Chief Executive of Volkswagen Martin Winterkorn issued on Sunday a public apology and announced an outside inquiry would be carried out, after the company became engulfed in a scandal about diesel emissions tests.

Over the weekend there were damaging revelations that the car manufacturer has been using illegal software to enable diesel cars to cheat on mandatory emissions tests.

An investigation into alleged breaches of environmental law was originally initiated on the advice of the International Council on Clean Transportation, a European NGO. The United States Environmental Protection Agency requested tests be carried out by West Virginia University, where the secret software was discovered.

Volkswagen has suffered a significant drop of almost a fifth in the value of its shares. There have been knock-on effects for other car manufacturers who have also seen their share values fall after suggestions that the scandal could extend much further than just Volkswagen.

The company will have to foot the bill for the recall of close to 500,000 VW and Audi cars. There is also the possibility of paying federal fines of up to US$18 billion dollars because the US Clean Air Act sets a maximum fine of US$37,500 for each vehicle that contravenes the requirements of the Act.

The software, known as a “defeat device”, enabled cars to identify when they were being tested and to switch on the emission control system. The devices may have been adding urea to the car exhaust because that would reduce the amount of nitrogen dioxide. The car would release a fraction of the nitrogen oxide compared to when they were being driven normally. Emissions of nitrogen oxide contribute to smog and are thought to have caused a rise in respiratory illnesses like asthma.

Jan 17
Common cold virus may be linked to childhood obesity
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Common cold virus may be linked to childhood obesity

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Researchers at the University of California, San Diego have found that a common cold virus may be linked to childhood obesity.

In the study of 124 children aged eight to eighteen, kids who had antibodies to adenovirus 36 (AD36) weighed on average 50 pounds more than children who didn’t have the antibodies. When children have AD36 antibodies, that means they had the virus at some point in their life. AD36 causes colds and eye infections.

Comparing the obese children who had the antibodies versus the obese children who didn’t have the antibodies, the kids with the antibodies were significantly more obese, at 35 pounds heavier.

“This shows that body weight regulation and the development of obesity are very complicated issues,” Dr. Jeffrey Schwimmer, the study’s lead author, said. Schwimmer also said that “[i]t’s not simply a case that some children eat too much and others don’t. There are children who eat all the wrong things in all the wrong quantities who are not obese.”

Schwimmer said that he’s not blaming the US childhood obesity epidemic on the virus, but noted that “I’ve seen children who had very brisk weight gain in a given year for reasons that were very hard to pinpoint. These may be the children who have obesity related to this infection.”

The study is backed up by past reports that show the virus boosts production of fat cells. In studies in which animals were infected with AD36, the animals gained a significant amount of weight.

There is currently no vaccine for AD36, and no routine screening for the virus. Dr. Goutham Rao, clinical director of the Weight Management and Wellness Center at Children’s Hospital of Pittsburgh, said that “People want a magic solution. Unfortunately, we don’t have one. What people can do is focus on a child’s behaviors and eliminate the unhealthy behaviors.” Rao also said that “Instead of coming to the doctor and requesting a test for the virus, parents would do better to discuss key behaviors to combat obesity.”

Dr. James Cherry, specialist in pediatric infectious diseases at the David Geffen School of Medicine at the University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA), was also interested by the study. He said that if the link between AD36 and obesity were confirmed, developing a vaccine for the virus could be worthwhile. “More than 20 percent of the obese children in this study were positive for the antibody. If we could prevent 20 percent of all obesity, that would be pretty impressive,” Cherry said.

Jan 17
‘Piano Man’ speaks and is identified, returns home to Germany
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‘Piano Man’ speaks and is identified, returns home to Germany

Tuesday, August 23, 2005

The man known as just the ‘Piano Man‘ has left the hospital where he was staying and has returned home to his native Germany. He has finally spoken after four months of silence.

It turns out, according to British tabloid The Daily Mirror, that the man, aged 20, was from Germany but after losing his job in Paris, traveled to the UK through the Channel Tunnel. He was going to commit suicide when he was found by police on a Kent beach.

He refused to talk to authorities due to his distressed state. It appears that he had formerly worked with mental patients and copied what he saw from them to fool the doctors. Also according to the Mirror, the man was only able to tap the same piano key repeatedly, but hospital officials refute this. However, all of this information came from a single, unidentified source.

The man was found soaking wet on a beach in Kent in an expensive-looking suit from which all the labels had been removed.

Some people believed he was suffering from post-traumatic stress disorder or that he was an autistic savant. Some also believed he was a Canadian eccentric, a French busker, a student from Norway, or Czech concert pianist Tomáš Strnad.

Jan 16
Governor of Illinois arrested on suspicion of corruption
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Governor of Illinois arrested on suspicion of corruption

Tuesday, December 9, 2008

The Democratic governor of Illinois in the United States, Rod Blagojevich, 51, along with his chief of staff John Harris, 46, were arrested Tuesday morning by the FBI on federal corruption charges.

The Chicago Tribune reports that federal agents raided Blagojevich’s home this morning and took him into federal custody. The arrest comes after a three-year investigation into Blagojevich’s “pay-to-play politics.”

Specifically, the Department of Justice alleged that Blagojevich attempted to sell the Senate seat previously held by President-elect Barack Obama. Blagojevich, as governor, has the sole authority to appoint someone to complete Obama’s term. Authorities believe the process to select a new senator was tainted after authorities secretly recorded several of Blagojevich’s conversations. They believe that he was attempting to sell the seat in exchange for financial benefit for himself and his wife.

Documents from the FBI and from U.S. attorney Patrick Fitzgerald identify the people whom Blagojevich was considering as Senate Candidates 1, 2, 3, 4, and 5. According to Fitzgerald’s press release, Blagojevich told an advisor that he wanted to “get some (money) up front, maybe.”

In Illinois, a new state ethics law will take effect on January 1, 2009, so Blagojevich was trying to embezzle as much money as he could before that date, said Fitzgerald.

Authorities also believe that Blagojevich was trying to withhold state financial assistance from the owner of the Tribune, the Tribune Company, which recently filed for bankruptcy protection. They allege he was trying to get members of the editorial board of the Chicago Tribune fired by threatening to complicate the sale of Wrigley Field by Tribune Company.

On December 8, Blagojevich responded to the reports that federal authorities had wiretapped his phone conversations, saying that “I should say if anybody wants to tape my conversations, go right ahead, feel free to do it. I can tell you that whatever I say is always lawful and the things I’m interested in are always lawful.”

If convicted, Blagojevich could face up to 30 years in prison and $500,000 in fines.

This is not the first time in Illinois history that a governor has been arrested for corruption charges. In 2006, George Ryan was indicted and is now serving a 6½-year prison term.

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Jan 16
Astronauts replace ISS nitrogen tank in spacewalk
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Astronauts replace ISS nitrogen tank in spacewalk

Wednesday, February 13, 2008

Two astronauts have performed a spacewalk, or EVA, to replace a depleted nitrogen tank in the Integrated Truss Structure of the International Space Station. The Space Station’s Nitrogen Tank Assembly (NTA), was successfully replaced with a new one, launched aboard Space Shuttle Atlantis, which is currently visiting the station, on mission STS-122. The old tank will be returned to Earth aboard the Shuttle. The NTA forms part of the Space Station’s cooling system.

The spacewalk was successful, and the primary task of changing the tank was completed ahead of schedule, allowing the astronauts to perform several secondary tasks, which included the installation of thermal covers on the newly installed Columbus module, and inspection of micrometeoroid shields on the Destiny module.

American astronaut Rex Walheim and German astronaut Hans Schlegel, both of the STS-122 crew, left the ISS Quest airlock at 14:27 GMT, and re-entered it at 21:12, after six hours and 45 minutes of extra-vehicular activity. This is the 103rd spacewalk to be made as part of the International Space Station programme, and the second of three planned for the STS-122 mission.

Meanwhile, NASA have announced that the STS-122 mission has been extended by one day. Landing is now scheduled for next Wednesday, at 13:59 GMT. The extension will give the astronauts extra time to finish activating the Columbus module, a process which has been delayed due to computer problems aboard the module.

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Jan 15
Perfect Vacations And Outstanding Ski Weekends

Submitted by: Luigi Eiseman

In search of the ideally suited getaway for you and that special someone? Ski weekends could be the solution, if you enjoy the outdoors, appreciate playing with the snow, and wish to examine a lot more about ideally suited winter sports activities. Here are some of the best locations to book your ski weekends, as well as some amazing features in the surrounding regions that you can enjoy.

Of the various favored ski areas, the Colorado ski resorts are some of the preferred places people pay a visit to for ski weekends. Aspen is continually charming, and if you book your trip with Orbitz, you may be able to conserve on the rental auto that you’ll ought to get to and from the airport, and you’ll get discount rates on ski resorts in the location that are conveniently close to the slopes.

Steamboat is also a great resort in Colorado, and consists of slopes for intermediate and advanced skiers, so if you might be searching for a situation and want to verify your talents, this can be genuinely the area for you.

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Lake Tahoe also offers high quality ski weekends, and you’ll be able to take the entire household to share with the fun and good times with you. Diamond Peak is in excess of 1800 feet of terrain, so there exists ample room to ski and enjoy the clean snow. There are classes for youngsters , so your little ones can find out about winter sports activities for the duration of your vacation.

Ski weekends may also be spent in another country, which helps make for a fantastic vacation, especially if you would like to extend your stay. Europe ski trips are always fun and adventurous, but you should want to book your flight and resort as far in advance as you’ll be able to, so that you can lower your expenses. Tignes in France is a ideally suited place for ski weekends, especially if you are accustomed to to get at the slopes.

The Grande Motte glacier is nearby, and is really a feat only the bravest skiers will try out. You may also attempt skiing on the Killy, that is certainly a among the slopes ski professionals head to continually to be able to train their talents and enhance their skiing. And, not surprisingly, you’ll find loads of exquisite French restaurants nearby, so you can take pleasure in this famed European cuisine while improving your skiing or snowboarding skills.

The Bormio in Italy is also ideal for overseas ski weekends, however the slopes are steep, so it can be ideally suited to enjoy this resort after you have been skiing for a while. Italian eateries, shopping and local monuments are nearby, so you can enjoy the historical fabric of Italy when you are not around the slopes.

For much more great discounts on ski weekends with the locations of your selection, head over to sites like www.ski.com, www.skiweekenders.com, or www.orbitz.com to discover about specific offers and promotions you could possibly take advantage of.

About the Author: Ski weekends are more satisfying aided by the most recent equipment. Get the very best prices, cheap ski helmets and equipment specials at

Skis.SnowboardsSkis.com

This published writer is dedicated helping and informing readers on the Internet in their quest.

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Jan 15
Lansing, Michigan airport designated ‘aerotropolis’
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Lansing, Michigan airport designated ‘aerotropolis’

Saturday, December 24, 2011

On Wednesday the Lansing, Michigan Capital Region International Airport and surrounding land was designated as an “aerotropolis” by the Michigan Economic Development Corporation Strategic Fund board. The Next Michigan Development program allows the airport to offer tax incentives in order to attract manufacturing, distribution, and technology businesses to the surrounding area.

Incentives can include property tax abatements or the elimination of most state and local taxes for a specified period of time. To qualify for the incentives, a company would have to start a new venture on airport property or expand an existing one. Additionally, companies need to use a minimum of two out of four transportation modes – freight, air, rail, or water.

The airport, in DeWitt Township, is the second in Michigan to receive an aerotropolis designation. The state’s other aerotropolis is located in the area surrounding Detroit Metropolitan and Willow Run airports. In October the city of Lansing and DeWitt Township approved a 425 tax-sharing agreement on the property, designating approximately 850 acres (344 ha) of land as available for future development.

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Jan 14
Officials: Two soldiers and over 30 insurgents killed in Pakistan
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Officials: Two soldiers and over 30 insurgents killed in Pakistan

Wednesday, April 14, 2010

At least 30 insurgents and two Pakistani soldiers died in a fierce fire fighting between Taliban rebels and security forces in the Orakzai region of the North-West Frontier Province. Officials stated that the gun battle started when the insurgents attacked a military base with rockets and mortars. A spokesman for the Pakistani army in Peshawar, the capital of the North-West Frontier Province, the Lt. Col. Nadeem Anwar said that the attack “started at midnight and continued until early Monday morning”. According to local government official, Sajjad Ahmad, troops opened fire aided by artillery when about 200 insurgents attacked a checkpoint. Ahmad told AFP news agency and stated that “[t]he attack was repulsed and up to 32 rebels and two soldiers of paramilitary Frontier Corps were killed”. Eight soldiers were wounded in the attack.

According to Khaista Rehman, a local administrative official, preliminary reports “suggest 35 to 40 militants have been killed.” While senior paramilitary officials confirmed such death tolls, no official figure was given.

As reported by an anonymous Pakistani military official, “39 militants were killed including their commander Saif-ur Rehman and four security officials…Nine security officials were wounded and seven hideouts were also destroyed,” he noted to the AFP.

The United Nations said that it might have to close projects for assisting the people of Pakistan as only one-fifth of the funds they had requested was collected. The UN had appealed for 537 million dollars in February to aid the one million people dispersed due to recurring conflicts in the northwestern parts of Pakistan, near the Afghanistan border.

“The response by the international community to this appeal is inadequate,” Martin Mogwanja, humanitarian coordinator of UN for Pakistan told reporters. “Humanitarian actors responding to the needs of the people are concerned that some of the projects may have to be suspended because of lack of finances,” he added.

Only 106 million dollars had been donated to the body, only 20 percent of the total appeal. Mogwanja said that they were in dire need of the remaining portion of the fund and 1.3 million had been displaced in the northwestern parts of the country, against a total of 3.1 million last year.

Meanwhile, on Monday, five others died in attacks in the Abottabad District over the renaming of the North-West Frontier Province. Earlier this month, several people were killed during a political meeting to celebrate the renaming.

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Jan 14
Nada Used Car Prices, Edmunds Used Car Prices, And Kelly Blue Book Used Car Prices Whose Prices Are Right?

By Theodore Olson

The Internet has been touted as the greatest resource for the used car buyer. Prospective buyers can find trade-in, private party, and retail values in a heartbeat. The question to consider, however, is what Internet source is right? The three major sites: NADA, Edmunds, and Kelly Blue Book are clamoring to be the Trusted Authority on used car values. Yet price discrepancies are frequently in the $1000s from site to site. Which web site, if any, is the most accurate source for the used car buyer?

To illustrate the discrepancies, heres an everyday example: NADA may retail a 2003 SAAB 9-5 Linear at $15,996, Kelly Blue Book prices it at $17,456, and Edmunds prices it at $14,800. These are all retail values, assuming excellent or clean condition. $17,456 minus $14,800 is a $2,656 difference. Thats a huge price difference in the highly competitive used car market.

The retail values placed on many vehicles by these web sites can have even larger price differences – some as high as $4000 to $8000 dollars. These gigantic price fluctuations can leave a used car buyer spending $1000s extra, depending on which guide he or she used. Moreover, private party and trade-in sale prices do not accurately account for vehicle condition, and less than 5% qualify as excellent.

Vehicle condition is a critical variable. An owner might think his trade-in is in stunning condition and thus worth X, based on his Internet research. An expert may know it needs $1000s in repairs and reconditioning costs.

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The answer to whose prices are right is that none of the big three web sites reflect used car prices accurately. Most often, the prices are too high on the retail side, questionable on the trade-in side, and confusing on the private side.

So what or who is the real authority? The answer is the Market! The market (i.e., the folks grinding it out everyday in the used car market place sellers and buyers) reflect true market value. Web sites are guides only. The used car prices from these sources need to be measured against the reality of the market.

Heres a scenario to illustrate the importance the market plays on used car values. In the Northeast, the banks rely on NADA, used car dealers prefer to use Kelly Blue Book, and used car buyers are turning more and more to Edmunds. Now the dealer will likely want to use the inflated (Excellent condition) Kelly Blue Book value. The buyer wants an unrealistic Edmunds price, and the bank wants to use an under-valued NADA price. In other words, the three primary people in the car buying process the buyer, the seller, and the lender, are all on different pages. Each player wants the most advantageous price based on the part he or she is playing. The market is the only element that evens the playing field. The point here is to demonstrate that the market is the true source to determine a REAL and FAIR used car value.

In order to get a fair price, according to the market, a used car buyer should aim for the middle. Avoid the highest prices and be realistic and flexible about the lowest. Stay somewhere in the middle to get a fair deal.

If you want a great deal, follow the market closely. If buying from a retailer, eBay and auction prices dont count, as these are wholesale venues. Check out Cars.com, AutoTrader.com, and some of the other Used Car Sources. See what the vehicle you want (including miles, equipment and accessories) is being advertised for. Again, shoot for the middle!

Use the popular Internet resources, but dont follow them blindly. You may actually pay significantly more than market value.

Having said all this, this doesnt mean that used car dealers are going to stop trying to low ball trade-in offers. And of course every dealer wants to sell its vehicles for a maximum. But remember, the same goes for car owners, but in reverse. They want the highest price for a trade and the lowest retail price on a vehicle.

When using Internet sources to determine a used car value, be sure to enter the correct information. This may sound elementary, but option packages, models, miles, color, equipment, engine, transmission, gear ratiosetc, can be confusing. Yet these are important variables that will affect prices dramatically. In short, the wrong information skews the numbers.

Finally, what really needs to be highlighted with NADA, Edmunds, and Kelly, as well as other Internet sources, is that they are GUIDES. They are excellent resources for vehicle information, but weak resources for prices. This is not to bad mouth any of these sites they are great starting points. Remember, however, that these guides may or may not be in the car buyers favor. Fair used cars prices are dictated by the market. Yes, do your research on the Net, but dont cling to it. Use the Internet only to find the used car markets middle ground.

About the Author: Ted Olson is the founder of RepairTrust – a website dedicated to help the auto consumer avoid the pitfalls of the automotive industry. Click

Auto Repair Costs

to learn more…

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Jan 14
Several episodes of ‘Orange is the New Black’ released prematurely by hacker
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Several episodes of ‘Orange is the New Black’ released prematurely by hacker

Tuesday, May 2, 2017

A hacker, or group of hackers, operating under the alias of The Dark Overlord uploaded ten episodes of Netflix’s web TV series Orange is the New Black on Friday and Saturday on The Pirate Bay after they said the online streaming service failed to meet their demands. Netflix had planned to release the season on June 9.

According to The New York Times, the unreleased content from the upcoming fifth season of Orange is the New Black was likely stolen from a postproduction company Larson Studios, based in Los Angeles. Netflix in a statement said, “A production vendor used by several major TV studios had its security compromised and the appropriate law enforcement authorities are involved.” In a tweet on Saturday, the hacker said, “Who is next on the list? FOX, IFC, NAT GEO, and ABC. Oh, what fun we’re all going to have. We’re not playing any games anymore.”

The hacker tweeted about uploading the first episode on The Pirate Bay on Saturday saying, “Let’s try to be a bit more direct, Netflix”. The hacker allegedly demanded an amount of money which they publicly described as “modest”, from Netflix for not releasing the episodes prematurely. The New York Times reported that the final three episodes were not pirated since the security breach occurred before the postproduction studio was handed those episodes. In January, the hacker erased the data from the servers of a Muncie-based charity called Little Red Door Cancer Services of East Central Indiana demanding 50 bitcoins to restore their data, which was estimated to be about US$43,000.

The Federal Bureau of Investigation is reportedly investigating this cyber crime. Netflix has more than 100 million subscribers, CEO Reed Hastings announced recently. Variety noted that Netfilx’s shares experienced a 0.57% loss on the day the first episode was uploaded by the hacker.

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