Explosives stolen from California mine
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Explosives stolen from California mine

Wednesday, May 10, 2006

According to the Alcohol Tobacco and Firearms Agency or ATF, at least 686 sticks of dynamite and at least 30 pounds of ammonium nitrate were stolen from Gold Mountain Mine Company in Big Bear City, California located in San Bernardino County. Fuel oil and mining equipment are also among the items stolen. When combined, the fuel oil and ammonium nitrate become combustible and authorities fear what could be done with the explosives.

“The obvious concern is someone stole it, and what are they going to do with it? This is a quantity of explosives that could do significant damage. We need to recover these items,” said John D’Angelo, spokesman for the ATF.

The thieves cut locks on the gate that leads to the facility and then cut the locks on a metal storage bin and stole its contents and everything inside the facility. The man responsible for mining operations in the area does so as a hobby. The robbery was reported on May 3.

“We urge anyone who has information about this theft to contact ATF and the San Bernardino Sheriff’s Department. Our job is to keep the public safe. We take the theft of explosives extremely seriously, and we will relentlessly follow up every lead until we solve the case,” said John A. Torres who is the special agent in charge of the ATF in Los Angeles.

Authorities have offered a $25,000 reward for information about the crime that leads to an arrest and conviction.

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Home Prices Decline In Most Top 20 Markets

By Real Estate Advisor

The Standard & Poor’s/Case-Shiller U.S. National Home Price Index posted a record annual decline of 3.2% in the home price growth rate. The data from the revised results for the 2nd quarter of 2007, published in June, reveal a declining growth rate in the prices of single family homes in most of the top 20 metro areas indices. The S & P/Case-Shiller Home Price Index tracks the value of typical single-family homes in the U.S. for the 20 U.S. metropolitan areas listed below.

This year’s 2nd quarter results are the lowest of price declines in the 20-year history of the National Home Price Index. According to Robert J. Shiller, Chief Economist at MacroMarkets LLC, the June revised data of June shows the declining annual growth rate in 17 of the 20 metro areas, adding two more metros from what was reported in May.

Out of the 17 metro areas that registered a year-over-year home price decline, Detroit had the maximum growth rate decline of 11%. Of the metros that have registered price gains, Seattle stood at the top spot with 7.9% price growth, followed by Charlotte with 6.8% and Portland with 4.5% price growth since last year.

Boston had improved its annual rate of price decline slightly in June to -3.9% from -4.3% reported in May. This is significant given the fact that Boston was the first metro area to go overboard, being the first to report a negative year-over-year growth rate.

The following are the revised results of June 2007 showing the percent of change in home values over the last year for the top 20 metropolitan areas.

1.

Atlanta: 1.6 percent

2.

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Boston: -3.7 percent

3.

Charlotte: 6.8 percent

4.

Chicago: -0.7 percent

5.

Cleveland: -3.6 percent

6.

Dallas: 1.6 percent

7.

Denver: -1.0 percent

8.

Detroit: -11.0 percent

9.

Las Vegas: -5.1 percent

10.

Los Angeles: -4.1 percent

11.

Miami: -4.8 percent

12.

Minneapolis: -3.8 percent

13.

New York: -3.4 percent

14.

Phoenix: -6.6 percent

15.

Portland: 4.5 percent

16.

San Diego: -7.3 percent

17.

San Francisco: -4.0 percent

18.

Seattle: 7.9 percent

19.

Tampa: -7.7 percent

20.

Washington, D.C.: -7.0 percent

About the Author:

Rancho Bernardo Real EstateCarmel Valley Real EstateRancho Bernardo Homes

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US unemployment rate reaches 9.8%
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US unemployment rate reaches 9.8%

Friday, October 2, 2009

Companies in the United States are shedding more jobs, pushing the country’s unemployment rate to a 26-year high of 9.8%.

The US Labor Department said on Friday that employers cut 263,000 jobs in September, with companies in the service industries — including banks, restaurants and retailers — hit especially hard. This is the 21st consecutive month of job losses in the country.

The United States has now lost 7.2 million jobs since the recession officially began in December 2007. The new data has sparked fears that unemployment could threaten an economic recovery. Top US officials have warned that any recovery would be slow and uneven, and some have predicted the unemployment rate will top 10% before the situation improves.

“Continued household deleveraging and rising unemployment may weigh more on consumption than forecast, and accelerating corporate and commercial property defaults could slow the improvement in financial conditions,” read a report by the International Monetary Fund’s World Economic Outlook, predicting that unemployment will average 10.1% by next year and not go back down to five percent until 2014.

Mark Zandi, chief economist at Moody’s Economy.com, said that “it’s a very fragile and tentative recovery. Policy makers need to do more.”

“The number came in weaker than expected. We saw a lot of artificial involvement by the government to prop up the markets, and now that that is starting to end, the private sector isn’t yet showing signs of life,” said Kevin Caron, a market strategist for Stifel, Nicolaus & Co.

Also on Thursday, the US Commerce Department said factory orders fell for the first time in five months, dropping eight-tenths of a percent in August. Orders for durable goods — items intended to last several years (including everything from appliances to airliners) — fell 2.6%, the largest drop since January of this year.

The US government has been spending billions of dollars — part of a $787 billion stimulus package — to help spark economic growth. There have been some signs the economy is improving.

The Commerce Department said on Thursday that spending on home construction jumped in August for its biggest increase in 16 years. A real estate trade group, the National Association of Realtors, said pending sales of previously owned homes rose more than 12 percent in August, compared to August 2008.

A separate Commerce Department report said that consumer spending, which accounts for more than two-thirds of US economic activity, rose at its fastest pace in nearly eight years, jumping 1.3 percent in August.

Other reports have provided cause for concern. A banking industry trade group said Thursday the number of US consumers making late payments, or failing to make payments, on loans and credit cards is on the rise. A survey by a business group, the Institute for Supply Management, Thursday showed US manufacturing grew in September, but at a slower pace than in August when manufacturing increased for the first time in a year and a half.

Stock markets reacted negatively to the reports. The Dow Jones Industrial Average fell 41 points in early trading, reaching a level of 9467. This follows a drop of 203 points on Thursday, its largest loss in a single day since July. The London FTSE index fell 55 points, or 1.1%, to reach 4993 points by 15.00 local time.

Woman killed on amusement park ride in New York
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Woman killed on amusement park ride in New York

Sunday, July 1, 2007

A young woman was killed Friday night after an accident occurred on a gyrating ride at the Playland amusement park in Rye, New York in the United States. The woman, Gabriela Garin, was a worker at the amusement park, and had worked there for the past seven years.

The accident occurred near the end of Garin’s shift; as she was loading riders onto the ride. The ride’s new operator, unaware of Garin’s presence, started the ride while Garin was still on it. The new operator then noticed Garin, and shut the ride down in 20 seconds, but Garin had already been ejected from the ride and killed, according to a park spokesperson.

The ride is an attraction that spins people around in two-seat cars, inside a darkened tent to flashing lights and music.

This incident is not the first in the ride’s history. In 2004, a seven-year-old from Connecticut managed to free herself from the ride’s restraining bars, and climb onto the front edge of her seat. She fell soon after the ride started. A safety precaution was put in place after this incident, however, the spokesperson acknowledged that it was not followed when Garin was killed.

The company which owns the ride shut it down, along with two other rides it owns at the park.

This is the fourth fatality in the park’s history. The park features more than 50 rides, a pool, and a beach. It attracts more than 1 million visitors annually.

Demonstrations planned to protest internet censorship in Finland
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Demonstrations planned to protest internet censorship in Finland

Tuesday, March 4, 2008

On March 4, 2008 a demonstration against censorship is planned to be held at the Finnish Parliament, part of the continuing controversy over the Finnish Internet child porn filter. The organizers of the demonstration expect at least two-hundred participants, with representatives of the digital rights organization Electronic Frontier Finland (Effi) and several political parties will also present.

The controversy arose after the Finnish National Bureau of Investigation (NBI) blacklisted censorship critic Matti Nikki’s site. Matti Nikki himself is now under criminal investigation for aiding in the distribution of child pornography, as he published a large portion of the filtering blacklist on his still-censored website. MP Jyrki Kasvi has made an official inquiry in the Finnish Parliament on the matter, and Effi has filed an official complaint to the parliamentary ombudsman.

The Finnish Minister of Communication, Suvi Lindén, and the NBI have been severely criticized over the filtering system, which has been under heavy scrutiny by the media. After stating that she will not tolerate discussion criticizing the filtering system, as the situation is not a matter of freedom of speech, a petition was signed by over 12,000 people demanding her resignation. This was accompanied by a Thai civil rights group questioning the blocking as child porn of a memorial site dedicated to a member of the Thai royal family. Eventually the NBI removed the memorial site from the blacklist, explaining that the DNS based system blocks only whole sites, and that there was child pornography site under the same domain; this raised questions about the efficiency of the filtering system.

Lindén later admitted that she did not know the details of the filtering system, as it had been established by her predecessors, before the change of government in early 2007. She has nevertheless defended the system, citing the protection of children, but admitted that there are problems with the Finnish system, and in other countries with similar systems.

The NBI have published a statement explaining their actions, at the request of Lindén. In it the NBI stated that there are filtered sites that do not contain any child pornography, but claimed that it was not their fault, rather a side effect of the system. They also noted that they are planning to address this issue by switching from a DNS based filter to a URL based system.

According to a prominent Finnish expert of filtering technology, the planned URL filtering would cost least two million euros. This estimate comes at the same time that the government cut back funds for work against child abuse, causing further uproar.

The NBI’s official position is that they block pornographic sites where the actors look too young, and sites which link to these sites. The argument for the filtering is that there is a large amount of child pornography on the Internet, most of it based on servers in countries where the authorities are indifferent to the issue.

The general opinion after analysis by multiple people is that the list of at least 1,700 sites contains a handful of actual child pornographic sites, most of which are not located in Western countries. However, some sites in the list are located in countries like the United States, the Netherlands, United Kingdom and Germany, and very few of those contain even questionable or borderline material. Dutch journalist Karin Spaink reviewed 40 sites on the list which were physically located in the Netherlands. She concluded that some of the sites have illegal child pornography, and that four of those are also blocked in the Netherlands by their equivalent filtering system. She estimated that about half of the 40 did not contain any illegal material.

Effi’s response to the NBI’s statement was that the issue with censorship is not technical but that it has no place in an open, democratic society.

Indian Premier Manmohan Singh undergoes heart bypass; Pranab Mukherjee takes charge
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Indian Premier Manmohan Singh undergoes heart bypass; Pranab Mukherjee takes charge

Sunday, January 25, 2009

Prime Minister Manmohan Singh received a successful coronary artery bypass surgery and was recuperating well in the state-run All India Institute of Medical Sciences (AIIMS) Sunday.

Dr. Manmohan Singh is the 17th and current Prime Minister of the Republic of India. He also serves as the Union Minister for Finance, succeeding P. Chidambaram.

“The 76-year-old Prime Minister is doing fine now. He is conscious, stable, comfortable and is making rapid progress. He also met his family and congratulated all doctors. [His] ventilator has been taken off and he is breathing on his own. This is an important step,” said Dr. Ramakant Panda, one of the surgeons, after the 11-hour procedure on Saturday.

According to critical care specialist Dr. Vijay D’Silva, who has been entrusted with his post-operative care, Singh has been given a liquid diet since morning including a cup of tea, and was speaking to doctors after the procedure. “The way you [doctors] are taking care of me, you should also take care of other people”, Dr. D’Silva, who received his basic medical training in Nagpur and headed the ICU at Mumbai’s Jaslok and Lilavati Hospitals before he helped set up the ICU at the ultra-modern Asian Heart Institute, quoted Singh as saying.

“We started the operation at 7:45 am. The second operation always takes longer and makes it difficult to reach the heart. We did a total of five by-passes to clear multiple blockages in his arteries. Surgery was the long term answer since there were many blockages. We will take the PM out of the breathing machine in the next 2-3 hours and the PM should stay for three days in the ICU and then 4-5 days more in the hospital,” Drs. Panda and D’Silva explained.

Singh’s personal physician and AIIMS cardiac surgeon, Dr. K. S. Reddy, has predicted the PM will be allowed to attend to some official work in two weeks, to most of the duties in four weeks and will be able to resume office in six weeks. “PM was sent to the Operation Theatre at 6:40 am, surgery was done at 8:45 am and was concluded at 7:30 pm. PM was sent back to the ICU at 8:55 pm,” said Dr. Reddy.

“The team has brought about 20 boxes of special equipment with it. Earlier, Dr. K. S. Reddy had discussions with Dr. Panda in connection with the line of treatment to be followed,” the team of 11 doctors said.

The team of surgeons made a 6 to 7 inch incision along the scar that marked the PM’s 1990 bypass operation, and he was given five grafts. “The new grafts, all 3 mm long, will last the PM the rest of his life,” said Dr. Pradyot Kumar Rath from the Asian Heart Institute. “If the PM could have been so active with all the blockages, he can be even more active now,” Dr Panda said.

Singh underwent a coronary angiography at the AIIMS hospital on Tuesday and Wednesday and was discharged on Thursday. The tests results revealed multiple arterial blockages and Singh returned to hospital on Friday for pre-surgery tests.

External Minister Pranab Kumar Mukherjee, age 73, has been given the charge of Finance Ministry after he held meetings with Congress President Sonia Gandhi and then Prime Minister Singh. Mukherjee said he would meet the Prime Minister because he was going for treatment and when he was abroad, Singh was in hospital. “These are quite natural things. You should not be unnecessarily worried over and coming here in large numbers,” he said.

Mukherjee has also taken charge over some prime ministerial responsibilities, while Singh recovers, officials and media reports said. But no acting prime minister has been named while Singh is recuperating. Mukherjee will also preside over Cabinet meetings and will further handle coal, environment and forests, including information and broadcasting and finance portfolios.

Pranab Kumar Mukherjee, a native of West Bengal, India, is the Minister for External Affairs of India in the Manmohan Singh-led Government of India. A prominent leader of the Indian National Congress in the 14th Lok Sabha, he is known to be a competent party apparatchik, “a prominent Gandhi family loyalist who did not win a popular election until 2004”.

Singh, a diabetic, underwent a bypass surgery in Britain in 1990 and had an angioplasty in 2004 in Delhi in which stents were introduced in his arteries. He had earlier been operated for a benign enlarged prostate in 2007, and for nerve compression in both wrists in 2006 and cataract removal procedure last year, officials said.

The Congress Party, which leads the coalition Government, has said that he will remain Prime Minister if Congress and its allies win again. But Congress is reportedly planning to replace him, possibly within two years, with Rahul Gandhi, the 38-year-old son of Sonia Gandhi, the Italian-born Congress leader. “Days are not far off for Rahul Gandhi to become Indian Prime Minister,” Mr Mukherjee said earlier this month.

Rahul is an Indian politician and member of the Parliament of India, representing the Amethi constituency. He is a member of the Nehru-Gandhi family, the most prominent political family in India. He is the son of current Italian-born Congress President Sonia Gandhi, and former Prime Minister Rajiv Gandhi, who was assassinated in 1991. Gandhi was 14 years old when his grandmother, Prime Minister Indira Gandhi, was assassinated by her security guards. His great-grandfather, Jawaharlal Nehru, was the first Prime Minister of India, and his great-great-grandfather Motilal Nehru was a distinguished leader of the Indian independence movement.

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