Archive for June 9th, 2010

09
Jun
10

Oil spills and human health

NEWS
Oil spills and human health

Wednesday, June 9, 2010

Earth

••• Seventy-one people in Louisiana have suffered health problems that officials believe are linked to the oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico, the state’s department of health and hospitals said on Wednesday.

Fifty of those who have reported symptoms including throat irritation, cough, shortness of breath, eye irritation, nausea, chest pain and headaches, worked on oil rigs or were part of the effort to clean up the spill.

Thirty of the workers said their illness came on after they were exposed to emulsified oil and dispersant, said the report, which is updated weekly.

Eight people – all of them rig or clean-up workers – have been hospitalised with spill-related illnesses, the report said.
All hospitalisations were short, generally one day, it said.

Twenty-one reports of illness came from members of the general public and were overwhelmingly related to odors from the oil spill.

Most of the members of the public who reported symptoms were at home when they fell ill, the report shows.

The most common symptom associated with the spill was headache, followed by nausea, cough and throat irritation.

The Louisiana state health authority began gathering reports of human exposures to oil from the slick or chemicals used to disperse it four weeks after the April 20 explosion on the BP-leased Deepwater Horizon that caused the disaster in the Gulf of Mexico.

The report was compiled using data gathered from emergency departments, outpatient clinics, doctors’ offices and the Louisiana poison control centre.
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09
Jun
10

Senate hearing disrupted as woman pours liquid on self

NEWS
Senate hearing disrupted as woman pours liquid on self

Wednesday, June 9, 2010

••• A Senate hearing on the Gulf of Mexico oil spill was disrupted on Wednesday as a protester poured an oily-looking liquid on herself before being arrested.

‘This is what it feels like to have oil dumped on you,’ the woman, identified as Diane Wilson, said in comments addressed to Senator Lisa Murkowski of Alaska.

Wilson issued a statement issued later saying she is a fourth generation shrimper from the Gulf and that her protest was directed against Murkowski for supporting the oil industry and opposing measures such as lifting the liability cap on oil firms in offshore spills.

Wilson opened a jar and poured a dark, oily-looking substance on her head at the hearing of the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee, before being taken away by Capitol police. Committee staff said later the jar contained syrup.

‘With this BP disaster, I am seeing the destruction of my community and I am outraged,’ Wilson said in her statement.

‘I am also seeing elected representatives like Senator Lisa Murkowski blocking BP from being legally responsible to pay for this catastrophe.’

At the hearing, U.S. Interior Secretary Ken Salazar told lawmakers offshore drilling in the Gulf of Mexico will continue ‘in a safe way’ in the wake of the massive Deepwater Horizon accident.

Salazar told the committee that a range of new regulations implemented following the accident at the BP-operated well would protect against new spills.

‘Offshore drilling will continue… it has to be done in a safe way,’ he told the panel.

Salazar, who heads the agency that oversees oil leasing and management of federal lands, highlighted tougher safety rules imposed this week for offshore drilling and the reorganisation of the Minerals Management Service, the division which has been criticised for being too cozy with the oil industry.

But he said the rules would not halt all offshore drilling despite the six-month moratorium on new deepwater wells ordered by President Barack Obama last month.

‘The importance of the jobs is very much on the mind of the president and on my mind as well,’ Salazar said.

He told Senator Mary Landrieu of Louisiana that the administration would ask BP to pay salaries of oil sector workers whose jobs have been suspended by the drilling ban.

According to committee figures, the Gulf of Mexico has some 3,600 wells or drilling operations and 700 of them are at depths of around 1 mile like the Deepwater Horizon.

Salazar confirmed that BP was capturing around 15,000 barrels a day from a new device placed on the wellhead, but was unable to estimate how much was still leaking.

‘It is important for us to have the right number. We’ll get that right number,’ he said.

‘Our goal is get zero pollution from this well. Nothing is being spared to bring this problem under control.’
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09
Jun
10

Steve Jobs has Wi-Fi woes

NEWS
Steve Jobs has Wi-Fi woes

Wednesday, June 9, 2010

It was more iFail than iPhone at the launch of the latest iconic phone – with Apple’s boss walking offstage unable to pick up a wi-fi network for the sleek new device.

Launching the iPhone 4 at Apple’s Worldwide Developers Conference in San Francisco, CEO Steve Jobs apparently struggled because of audience wi-fi active devices.

‘We’re having a little problem here. I don’t know what is wrong with our networks,’ Mr Jobs said, as the huge projected image of his iPhone stayed resolutely blank.

Mr. Jobs admitted that the venue was known to be a wi-fi bad spot, before pleading for audience members to switch their devices off.

‘You know you can help me out if you are on wi-fi, you could just get off, I’d appreciate it,’ Jobs said to the crowd.

Having failed to show a website on the phone’s display as it sat alongside an existing iPhone model, Jobs attempted Plan B for the new phone.

‘We going to switch over to some backups here, I have a feeling we might have the same problem,’ he said.

After starting the backup, it gave an error message, ‘Could not activate cellular data network,’ to laughs from the crowd.

Mr. Jobs clicked the error message but another then appeared, ‘Could not open page’, to more laughs.
‘Well, jeez, i don’t like this,’ Mr. Jobs said.

Attempting to revert to the ‘primary’ phone he had been using, Mr. Jobs said: ‘I’m afraid I have a problem and I’m not going to be able to show you much today.’

Mr. Jobs then showed several photos on the high definition display of the new phone before a third attempt to access a network also failed.

‘Well, I’m sorry guys, I don’t know what is going on,’ Jobs said to some jeers from the audience.

Apple’s product unveilings are usually renowned for a lack of technical glitches, however Jobs had to resort to yelling to Scott Forstall, the vice president of iPhone software, for help.

‘Scott, you got any suggestions?’ Jobs pleaded.

Someone in the crowd then yelled out ‘Verizon’ – a dig at Apple for not offering the new phone through America’s biggest mobile service provider.

‘We’re going to hope things get fixed before my next demo here. Thanks,’ Mr Jobs said as he walked offstage.

Features of the new phone include two cameras with an inbuilt flash, wi-fi video conferencing facilities, uprated battery and motion-sensing gyroscope for game usage.
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• Source(s): Apple Inc.
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09
Jun
10

Google’s new search index Caffeine goes live

NEWS
Google’s new search index Caffeine goes live

Wednesday, June 9, 2010

Internet giant Google has given its search engine capabilities a jolt with the launch of a new indexing system dubbed ‘Caffeine’.

The new system will process hundreds of thousands of pages simultaneously every second, and promises to serve content 70 percent fresher than the current algorithm, including material derived from real-time Web technologies, such as Twitter.
Google’s ‘Caffeine’ is understood to take up nearly 100 million gigabytes of storage in one database.

Previously, Google would assess a fraction of the Web each night, index it and push it out in its results.

With Caffeine, as Google crawls the Web and finds new information, it indexes it immediately.

The ‘Caffeine’ formula has slashed the average search response time to about half that of ‘old’ Google, and is geared to decipher complex keyword strings with greater ease – things that search engine experts say Microsoft really hit on when it released Bing.
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• The Official Google Blog: Our new search index: Caffeine
• Source(s): Google Inc. – Carrie Grimes, Software Engineer
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