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Saturday, March 29, 2014

Teen Has a Plan to Save The Government $400 Million

Teen Has a Plan to Save The Government $400 Million


Teen Has a Plan to Save The Government $400 Million

Posted: 29 Mar 2014 10:55 AM PDT

Remembering to pack lunch and catch the school bus on time? Sure, got it. Solving the federal deficit? Um, yeah, maybe.

That’s kind of what a day in the life of 14-year-old Suvir Mirchandani looks like. Mirchandani has figured out that by changing the standard typeface on government documents from Times New Roman to Garamond, the federal and state governments could save up to $400 million in ink costs.

That’s because Garamond uses far less ink than government-recommended fonts like Times New Roman and Century Gothic, according to Mirchandani. He published his findings in the peer-reviewed Journal for Emerging Investigators earlier in March.

With a federal government printing expenditure of $1.8 billion, and state government costs estimated at $1.3 billion, even a slight reduction in ink usage could save hundred of millions of dollars, says Mirchandani.

Other teens, meanwhile, are still changing the font size on periods throughout their papers to hit assignment page-length requirements.

Hard Task of Finding Slide Victims Stretches On

Posted: 29 Mar 2014 10:50 AM PDT

(ARLINGTON, Wash.) — Finding and identifying victims from one of the most lethal landslides in the nation’s history could stretch on for a very long time, officials warned in describing the arduous work of extracting and trying to identify the human remains.

“It’s a very, very slow process. It was miserable to begin with, and as you all know, it has rained heavily in the last few days, it’s made the quicksand even worse,” Snohomish County Executive Director Gary Haakenson said at a Friday evening briefing. “I cannot possibly tell you how long this will last, or when, or if they will find more bodies. We hope that we do, but right now there’s no telling.”

Crews may be finding more remains amid the destruction in the community of Oso northeast of Seattle, but Haakenson said the official death toll will remain at 17 until medical examiners can further complete their work.

Authorities have located at least eight other bodies in addition to the 17, and they previously said they expect the number of fatalities from the March 22 mudslide to rise substantially.

Ninety people were listed as missing, but hope for them began fading by midweek when they had not checked in with friends or relatives, and no one had emerged from the pile alive.

Leslie Zylstra said everybody in town knows someone who died, and the village was coming to grips with the fact that many of the missing may remain entombed in the debris.

“The people know there’s no way anybody could have survived,” said Zylstra, who used to work in an Arlington hardware store. “They just want to have their loved ones, to bury their loved ones.”

Haakenson described for the first time Friday the difficulty of the searchers’ task. When a body is found, the spot is marked for a helicopter pickup. That only happens when the helicopters are able to fly in the wind and rain that has pummeled the search area. The victim is then placed in a truck in a holding area.

At the end of the day, all the recovered victims are transported to the medical examiner’s office about 20 miles away in Everett.

“Autopsies are performed, the process of identification takes place — if possible,” Haakenson said. “The identification process has been very, very challenging.”

Authorities have had to rely heavily on dental records, Haakenson told The Seattle Times. In a few cases, medical examiner’s investigators have had to use DNA testing.

People who have reported relatives missing have been asked by the medical examiner’s staff to provide identifying information, such as eye color, hair color and possible tattoos, and to have the missing person’s dental office compile records, he said.

In addition to bearing the stress of the disaster, townspeople were increasingly frustrated by the lack of information from authorities, said Mary Schoenfeldt, a disaster traumatologist who has been providing counseling services at schools and for public employees and volunteers.

“The anger and frustration is starting to rise,” she said.

That’s normal for this phase of a disaster, as is the physical toll taken by not having eaten or slept normally in days, she said.

There were also signs of resilience. Handmade signs have appeared that say “Oso strong” and “530 pride” in reference to the stricken community and state Highway 530 that runs through it.

The catastrophe, which followed weeks of heavy rain, was shaping up to be one of deadliest landslides in U.S. history.

Previous slides triggered by storms included one that killed 150 people in Virginia in the wake of Hurricane Camille in 1969 and another that killed 129 when rain from Tropical Storm Isabel loosened tons of mud that buried the Puerto Rican community of Mameyes in 1985.

A dam in San Francisquito, Calif., collapsed in 1928, causing an abutment to give way and killing 500 people, according to data from the U.S. Geological Survey.

Crews that had worked for days in the rain and mud were getting some relief as replacements arrived. The Colorado National Guard sent 16 members of its fatality search-and-recovery team to Washington.

A new crew of volunteer diggers showed up in an Arlington school bus Friday and marched single file toward the debris pile.

Arlington Mayor Barbara Tolbert said the area appreciates the support during the hard, lengthy work at the debris site.

“They are searching for friends, and they are searching for families,” she said. “We ask that you continue to keep us in your hearts, this community will be healing for a very long time.”

Car Bomb Targets Lebanon Army Near Syria Border

Posted: 29 Mar 2014 10:42 AM PDT

(BEIRUT) — Lebanon’s state news agency says a suicide bomber driving an explosives-laden car has targeted an army checkpoint near a town close to the Syrian border.

The National News Agency said the Saturday evening bombing just outside the eastern Lebanese town of Arsal killed several soldiers and wounded others. It did not immediately provide further details.

The bombing occurred hours after forces loyal to Syrian President Bashar Assad routed rebels from two Syrian villages that lie near Arsal, which were part of an important rebel supply route.

No group immediately claimed responsibility for the attack. In the past extremist Sunni groups have claimed responsibility for attacking Lebanese soldiers, who they accuse of being partial to their rivals, the Shiite group Hezbollah.

Magnitude 5.1 Earthquake Strikes Los Angeles

Posted: 29 Mar 2014 09:34 AM PDT

A magnitude 5.1 earthquake struck Los Angeles Friday evening, breaking water mains in a local community and rattling neighborhoods in Southern California.

The earthquake struck at 9:09 p.m. Pacific Time on Friday, centering about 20 miles east of downtown Los Angeles near La Habra, Reuters reports. No injuries or substantial structural damage were reported.

The quake was felt between Palm Springs in the east and Ventura County to the north, prompting Disneyland to halt park rides as a precaution. Several water mains in Fullerton ruptured, spilling water into the streets.

Friday night’s earthquake is the second major tremor to hit the area in two weeks, after a recent magnitude 4.4 quake hit north of Los Angeles.

[Reuters]

NSA Targeted German Companies: Der Spiegel

Posted: 29 Mar 2014 09:18 AM PDT

The National Security Agency and the British Government Communications Headquarters spied on private German companies, according to a report based on documents revealed by NSA leaker Edward Snowden.

British spies surveilled employees of top German companies in order to develop “in-depth knowledge of key satellite [Internet Protocol] service providers in Germany,” German magazine Der Spiegel reported Saturday.

Three companies listed in the report include Stellar, a satellite ground station operator which provided telecommunications for major clients including governments, as well as Stellar competitors Cetel and IABG. The latter was contracted by the German defense forces.

Der Spiegel’s report follows earlier allegations that the NSA spied on German Chancellor Angela Merkel by tapping her personal phone. That report sparked outrage in Germany, chilling typically cordial relations between Washington and Berlin.

[Der Spiegel]

Egypt Court Sentences 2 Morsi Supporters to Death

Posted: 29 Mar 2014 09:09 AM PDT

(CAIRO) — Egypt’s state news agency says an Alexandria court has sentenced two supporters of President Mohammed Morsi to death in connection with violence that followed the ouster of the Islamist president.

The agency said the court Saturday found the men guilty of murder for throwing two people off a building in the coastal city during mass protests demanding Morsi’s reinstatement.

The incident came two days after Morsi’s July 3 ouster. Footage repeatedly aired on national TV showed one of the defendants roaming the roof raising a black flag often used by militants. At least 16 others were killed that day.

Authorities have since intensified a crackdown on Morsi supporters, dispersing protests and detaining thousands. Last week, a court sentenced 529 to death for killing a policeman.

Ukrainian Opposition Leader Klitschko Drops Presidential Bid

Posted: 29 Mar 2014 08:38 AM PDT

Prominent Ukrainian opposition leader and former world boxing champion Vitali Klitschko announced Saturday he’s dropping his candidacy for president. Klitschko will instead throw his weight behind billionaire businessman Petro Poroshenko, who declared his candidacy Friday.

"The only way to win is by nominating a single candidate from the democratic ranks," Klitschko said at a meeting of the United Democratic Alliance for Reform, the Associated Press reports. "This should be a candidate with the greatest support from the people."

The former boxer isn’t dropping out of politics altogether — he said he’ll run for mayor of Kiev in a bid to turn the city into a “truly European capital,” the New York Times reports.

Before Ukraine’s recent turmoil, Klitschko was most widely recognized for his boxing stardom. He soon gained even more international notoriety after taking a major role in last year’s opposition protests in Kiev. His endorsement of Poroshenko could launch the billionaire to a leading place in the May 25 election.

Poroshenko is set to campaign against Yulia Tymoshenko, a charismatic and controversial veteran politician who spent more than two years in prison under deposed President Viktor Yanukovych. Tymoshenko declared her candidacy for president on Thursday.

Ukraine’s preparations for the May 25 elections take place amidst the greatest political crisis in Ukraine’s post-Soviet history, following the Russian invasion and annexation of Crimea. U.S. President Barack Obama and Russian President Vladimir Putin spoke on the phone Friday evening to discuss a possible diplomatic solution to the crisis in Ukraine even as Russian troops amass on the Ukraine’s border.

[New York Times]

Report: NSA Had Over 300 Reports on German Chancellor Merkel

Posted: 29 Mar 2014 08:19 AM PDT

(BERLIN) — German magazine Der Spiegel has reported that the U.S. National Security Agency kept more than 300 reports on Chancellor Angela Merkel in a special databank about scores of foreign heads of state.

The magazine said Saturday the secret file about the surveillance of Merkel was part of a trove of documents obtained by former NSA systems analyst Edward Snowden. Other leaders listed in the databank include the heads of Peru, Somalia, Guatemala, Colombia and Belarus.

Earlier this month, German lawmakers agreed to launch an inquiry into surveillance conducted by the NSA and other foreign intelligence services, including the tapping of Merkel’s cellphone which was revealed in 2013.

German federal prosecutors are also mulling whether to open their own investigation into NSA activities.

First Couples Wed as Gay Marriage Becomes Legal in UK

Posted: 29 Mar 2014 07:45 AM PDT

The first same-sex marriages in Britain were held early Saturday morning after gay marriage became legal at midnight.

The move to legalize same-sex marriage in England and Wales was lauded by politicians from both parties, the BBC reports. Rainbow-colored flags were flown over government buildings Saturday.

“Congratulations to the gay couples who have already been married – and my best wishes to those about to be on this historic day,” United Kingdom Prime Minister David Cameron tweeted Saturday morning.

The Church of England will drop its opposition to same-sex marriage after years of opposition, Archbishop of Canterbury Justin Welby said on Friday night. Polls show about two-thirds of people in the country support gay unions, the Associated Press reports.

Gay couples in England have been allowed to enter "civil partnerships," conferring the same legal rights as marriage, since 2005. Britain banned schools and authorities from “promoting” homosexuality until 2003.

Scotland passed a similar law in February that will allow same-sex marriages beginning in October.

[BBC]

4 Key Takeaways from New Census Data

Posted: 29 Mar 2014 07:37 AM PDT

U.S. Census population figures released Thursday provide a glimpse of the nation's hot (and cold) spots. In a three-year span from mid-2010 to mid-2013, the U.S. had a natural population increase of 4.7 million people (that is, the number of births minus the number of deaths). Coupled with a net migration increase of some 2.7 million people, the country's population jumped 7.4 million to an estimated 316 million. Not all metro areas are growing at the same clip, however. Some are pulling ahead by drawing more immigrants or by luring residents of other regions with the promise job opportunities. Which are the boomtowns? That depends on how you filter the data, but here are the highlights: North Dakota metros surge The state's oil boom has bolstered some metro areas by double-digit percent growth. With a 31% population increase, Williston, N.D., beat out all U.S. metros by percent change. Nearby, the Dickinson, N.D., metro area grew 16%. All other U.S. metro areas fell in line thereafter. "Any time before 2008, North Dakota had out-migration decade after decade," says Kevin Iverson, Manager of North Dakota Census office. "People were leaving for economic opportunities outside the state." But more recently, he says, the oil industry has bolstered both population and per-capita income in the western regions of the state. In the last three years, he adds, 38 of the state's 53 counties have grown. Roughly half of the influx is from Minnesota.

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American Fact Finder/Census.gov

Puerto Rico falls behind Where are residents moving away? Four of the ten U.S. metro areas with the greatest population losses (by number of people) are in Puerto Rico. Some of the population decline is attributed to lower birth rates on the island. But the more significant loss stems from a battered economy and pervasive crime – two factors that push out professionals, students and middle-class families to mainland states like Florida and Texas.

American Fact Finder/Census.gov

Texas draws a crowd Slice population data by migration (who's moving in, domestically or internationally) and Texas metros top the charts. By total net migration, the Houston area drew some 205,000 people. Dallas came in third and Austin fifth among all U.S. metro areas. While foreign immigrants have bolstered the Lone Star state's headcount, U.S. residents from all over the country – lured by job opportunities and lower taxes – have contributed to the surge.

3chart
American Fact Finder/Census.gov

Big metro areas stay on top By sheer influx of people, Houston, Dallas, New York, Los Angeles and Washington top the charts. Seven metro areas netted more than 200,000 people. San Francisco, Seattle and Phoenix, among others, also saw six-digit growth in the last three years.

5chart
American Fact Finder/Census.gov

 

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