Drought could close nuclear power plants

Southeast water shortage a factor in huge cooling requirements

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LAKE NORMAN, N.C. – Nuclear reactors across the Southeast could be forced to throttle back or temporarily shut down later this year because drought is drying up the rivers and lakes that supply power plants with the awesome amounts of cooling water they need to operate.

Utility officials say such shutdowns probably wouldn’t result in blackouts. But they could lead to shockingly higher electric bills for millions of Southerners, because the region’s utilities could be forced to buy expensive replacement power from other energy companies.

Already, there has been one brief, drought-related shutdown, at a reactor in Alabama over the summer.

“Water is the nuclear industry’s Achilles’ heel,” said Jim Warren, executive director of N.C. Waste Awareness and Reduction Network, an environmental group critical of nuclear power. “You need a lot of water to operate nuclear plants.” He added: “This is becoming a crisis.”

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Lab Freaks Gone Wild?

Scientists plan to make “cybrids” by putting human DNA into cow eggs.The British government gave the go-ahead this week for two separate groups to experiment with the process. Scientists will “inject human DNA into empty eggs from cows, to create embryos known as cytoplasmic hybrids that are 99.9 per cent human in genetic terms,” according to The Times of London.

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High-pitch alarm quietens youths

A device which emits a high-pitched noise has been installed outside a shop in Oxfordshire to cut the number of anti-social behaviour incidents.A mobile “mosquito” alarm, which can only be heard by younger people, has been placed by the Co-op outside its store in Ladygrove, Didcot.

Parents have been campaigning to get the device fitted, and it is hoped it will stop large groups congregating.

It has been installed at the same time a youth club is due to open nearby.

Last Updated: Friday, 8 February 2008, 13:59 GMT

Source: BBC NEWS 

Storms destroy one tenth of China’s forests

China has lost about one tenth of its forest resources to recent snow storms regarded as the most severe in half a century, state media reported Sunday.A total of 43 million acres of forest have been damaged across China as the result of three weeks of savage winter weather, the China Daily website said, citing the State Forestry Administration.

More than half the country’s provinces have been affected, and in the worst-hit regions, nearly 90 percent of forests have been destroyed, according to the paper.

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Space War: Satellite ‘Kill’ Would Prove U.S. Capability

080220-tech-spacewar-01.jpgThe looming U.S. Navy attempt to shoot down a dying satellite could demonstrate an anti-satellite capability for its missile defense system.

A successful kill would mark the first time the United States uses a tactical missile to destroy a spacecraft – assuming that the ship-based missile defense system can handle the high closing speed of more than 22,000 mph.

“Everything becomes much more stressful at these large closing speeds,” said Geoffrey Forden, MIT physicist and space expert. “But if they do hit it, that’d be very impressive, and that’d be proof that it has ASAT [anti-satellite] capability.”

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America’s economy risks mother of all meltdowns

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“I would tell audiences that we were facing not a bubble but a froth – lots of small, local bubbles that never grew to a scale that could threaten the health of the overall economy.” Alan Greenspan, The Age of Turbulence.

That used to be Mr Greenspan’s view of the US housing bubble. He was wrong, alas. So how bad might this downturn get? To answer this question we should ask a true bear. My favourite one is Nouriel Roubini of New York University’s Stern School of Business, founder of RGE monitor.

Recently, Professor Roubini’s scenarios have been dire enough to make the flesh creep. But his thinking deserves to be taken seriously. He first predicted a US recession in July 2006*. At that time, his view was extremely controversial. It is so no longer. Now he states that there is “a rising probability of a ‘catastrophic’ financial and economic outcome”**. The characteristics of this scenario are, he argues: “A vicious circle where a deep recession makes the financial losses more severe and where, in turn, large and growing financial losses and a financial meltdown make the recession even more severe.”

Prof Roubini is even fonder of lists than I am. Here are his 12 – yes, 12 – steps to financial disaster.

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Children could get a criminal record for holding a can of beer

Children across Britain face being given a criminal record if they are caught holding a can of beer, under new plans being considered by the Government.The measure would mean any person under the age of 18 caught just holding an alcoholic beverage may be tarnished with a conviction, which would need to be declared to future employers.

The proposals follow recent warnings from Home Secretary Jacqui Smith that the police would be given greater powers to remove alcohol from youngsters.

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Criminal record: Children caught holding a can of beer could face a conviction

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Doctors and teachers to act as ‘informers’ to target violent offenders BEFORE they strike under controversial new ‘Minority Report’ plans

But civil liberty campaigners and union bosses warned that such intrusive measures by the Home Office would destroy the relationship of trust between GPs and their patients or social workers and clients.

They would also put professionals at risk of reprisals if they are seen as police informers.

Opposition MPs said recent fiascos involving huge quantities of personal data lost or leaked by the Government raised grave doubts over plans for sharing and swapping private data.

The scheme, outlined in the Government’s latest Tackling Violence Action Plan, will mean redrafting the NHS’s strict privacy protection rules to encourage health staff to share patients’ confidential data as part of “public interest disclosures”.

The document sets out plans for identifying individuals who may not have committed any offences but are judged to be at risk of involvement in violence”.

Tell-tale signs of those ‘whose behaviour may be identified as risky’ include drug addicts or alcoholics, mental health patients and youngsters who join gangs or who have been the victims of violence either in the home or on the street.

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In the Steven Spielberg film Minority Report crimes were prevented before they had even ocurred

Read moreDoctors and teachers to act as ‘informers’ to target violent offenders BEFORE they strike under controversial new ‘Minority Report’ plans