Making Unique Observations in a Very Cluttered World

Wednesday, 20 April 2011

US pledged €86m to seal Chernobyl under new ‘shell' - a 20,000-tonne steel shield - to prevent radiation from escaping -

US pledged €86m to seal Chernobyl under new ‘shell' - a 20,000-tonne steel shield - to prevent radiation from escaping - 

The ruined nuclear reactor at Chernobyl is to be sealed within a 20,000-tonne steel shield designed to prevent any further radiation from escaping for 100 years. It would be large enough to enclose St Paul's Cathedral in London, or the Statue of Liberty.
Governments from around the world have pledged $785m (£480m) at a conference in Kiev, a week before the 25th anniversary of the nuclear accident in Ukraine – on 26 April 1986 the reactor suffered explosions and caught fire. This brings the total raised for the Chernobyl safety works to $1.8bn.
Twenty-eight governments have so far offered money. The European commission was the biggest contributor with $143m at the Kiev Nuclear Safety Summit. The US pledged $123m and Britain, which still has more than 300 hill farms in Wales under radiation restrictions following the fallout from Chernobyl, will contribute $50m. The European Bank for Reconstruction and Development announced an extra $172m. Japan, Italy and Canada are considering whether to contribute.
The planned arch-shaped structure will be 190 metres (623ft) wide and more than 100 metres tall, taking five years to build. It will replace the concrete sarcophagus erected around the reactor in the months following the accident. This shield now has cracks, raising fears that 95% of the original nuclear material remaining inside the reactor could escape.
Radiation levels directly over the sarcophagus are too high for the arch to be built over it, so the structure will be constructed in two pieces, then moved over the site on rails. It is designed so that the authorities could start dismantling the reactor from inside in 100 years.
The shield is intended to stay in place until either the radiation threat decreases or the Ukrainian government finds a permanent storage facility for the 200 tonnes of uranium and 1 tonne of plutonium within the ruins.
World governments, which had already raised more than $1.6bn in international funding for the shelter, as well as for a permanent nuclear fuel store for other reactors on the Chernobyl site, said that the currentcrisis at the Fukushima plant in Japan had persuaded them to respond to the appeal by Ukraine, which estimates that Chernobyl has cost the nation more than $12bn.
"Recent events in Fukushima have reminded us of the danger this issue may represent," said the European commission president, José Manuel Barroso.
The French prime minister, François Fillon, said Fukushima evoked memories of Chernobyl: "More than ever, our responsibility is to join together our efforts to limit the consequences of such disasters and to prepare for the future."
Mikhail Gorbachev, president of the Soviet Union at the time of the Chernobyl disaster and now head of the environment group Green Cross International, used the occasion of the 25th anniversary to say nuclear power was not the answer to the world's energy problems or to climate change.
In a statement he said: "Nuclear power has been presented as a financially sound, economically efficient, clean and safe solution that will bring about energy security and drive economic growth. Recently, the so-called 'nuclear renaissance' has hitched a free ride on the back of the need to find low-carbon solutions to the climate crisis.
"The bottom line on the economics of nuclear power is that it simply does not add up. That is why private investment is wisely focusing on better alternatives.
"It is necessary to realise that nuclear power is not a panacea, as some observers allege, for energy sufficiency or climate change. Its cost effectiveness is also exaggerated, as its real cost does not account for hidden expenses.
"In the United States, for example, direct subsidies to nuclear energy amounted to $115bn between 1947 and 1999, with an additional $145bn in indirect subsidies. In contrast, subsidies to wind and solar energy, combined over this same period, totalled only $5.5bn."
But Mohamed ElBaradei, former head of the International Atomic Energy Agency, said: "Today, nuclear power is the only real alternative to fossil fuel as a source of a reliable supply."
He acknowledged that confidence in atomic energy had taken a severe blow after the tsunami-triggered disaster at Fukushima. "Fukushima represents a potentially significant setback for nuclear power," he told participants at the forum, although he stressed that confidence would be "re-established in due course", then added: "Chernobyl and Fukushima should be shown to be aberrations."

New British Beer Is Laced With Viagra - called Royal Virility Performance - created to mark the upcoming Royal Wedding -

New British Beer Is Laced With Viagra - called Royal Virility Performance - created to mark the upcoming Royal Wedding - 

Forget the little blue pill. A British company has brewed the first beer laced with Viagra.
The new brew is called Royal Virility Performance, and has been specially created to mark the upcoming Royal Wedding.
Downing just three bottles is equivalent to taking one pill of Viagra, which enhances men's sexual performance.

The 7.5 percent alcohol India Pale Ale also contains extra aphrodisiacs including horny goat weed and even chocolate.

The makers of the beer, BrewDog, have even sent several bottles to Prince William for his wedding night.
Just 40 bottles of the beer will be produced initially, and will go on sale the day of the Royal Wedding, April 29, at BrewDog.com. All the proceeds go to the charity Centrepoint, which Prince William supports. But buyers will be limited to one bottle each due to the powerful effects.
If the new beer is a success, the company plans to continue production.
A string of British brewers have already created special edition royal wedding beers, including Adnams Royal Wedding Ale and Castle Rock Brewery's “Kiss Me Kate.”
Last month, Pfizer started selling a chewable version of Viagra in Mexico to cater to the more than 6 million Mexican men who suffer from impotence.
The U.S. pharmaceutical company said the chewable form of the 13-year-old blue pill, known as Viagra Jet, was developed in response to studies of the Mexican market, which is Viagra's biggest in Latin America after Brazil.
"It's a new alternative for patients and doctors," said Beatriz Romero, Pfizer's marketing manager in Mexico. "The chewable format could appeal to patients, particularly those who can't swallow the tablets."
Viagra Jet is only available in Mexico, but the company may introduce it to other Latin American countries, depending upon local regulatory approval, Pfizer spokeswoman Karla Fuentes said.

Read more: http://www.foxnews.com/health/2011/04/19/new-british-beer-laced-viagra/#ixzz1K3d7dBci

Michigan Police Download Cell Phone Data During Routine Motorist Stops - grabs all photos and video off of a phone -

Michigan Police Download Cell Phone Data During Routine Motorist Stops - grabs all photos and video off of a phone - 

Michigan: Police Search Cell Phones During Traffic Stops
ACLU seeks information on Michigan program that allows cops to download information from smart phones belonging to stopped motorists.
CelleBriteThe Michigan State Police have a high-tech mobile forensics device that can be used to extract information from cell phones belonging to motorists stopped for minor traffic violations. The American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) of Michigan last Wednesday demanded that state officials stop stonewalling freedom of information requests for information on the program.

ACLU learned that the police had acquired the cell phone scanning devices and in August 2008 filed an official request for records on the program, including logs of how the devices were used. The state police responded by saying they would provide the information only in return for a payment of $544,680. The ACLU found the charge outrageous.

"Law enforcement officers are known, on occasion, to encourage citizens to cooperate if they have nothing to hide," ACLU staff attorney Mark P. Fancher wrote. "No less should be expected of law enforcement, and the Michigan State Police should be willing to assuage concerns that these powerful extraction devices are being used illegally by honoring our requests for cooperation and disclosure."

A US Department of Justice test of the CelleBrite UFED used by Michigan police found the device could grab all of the photos and video off of an iPhone within one-and-a-half minutes. The device works with 3000 different phone models and can even defeat password protections.

"Complete extraction of existing, hidden, and deleted phone data, including call history, text messages, contacts, images, and geotags," a CelleBrite brochure explains regarding the device's capabilities. "The Physical Analyzer allows visualization of both existing and deleted locations on Google Earth. In addition, location information from GPS devices and image geotags can be mapped on Google Maps."

The ACLU is concerned that these powerful capabilities are being quietly used to bypass Fourth Amendment protections against unreasonable searches.

"With certain exceptions that do not apply here, a search cannot occur without a warrant in which a judicial officer determines that there is probable cause to believe that the search will yield evidence of criminal activity," Fancher wrote. "A device that allows immediate, surreptitious intrusion into private data creates enormous risks that troopers will ignore these requirements to the detriment of the constitutional rights of persons whose cell phones are searched."

The national ACLU is currently suing the Department of Homeland Security for its policy of warrantless electronic searches of laptops and cell phones belonging to people entering the country who are not suspected of committing any crime.

Read more - http://www.thenewspaper.com/news/34/3458.asp