The Morning News is an Open Thread
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1 Concentration camp doctor heads list of top 10 wanted Nazis
By DAVID RISING, Associated Press Writer
53 minutes ago
|BADEN-BADEN, Germany – Karl Lotter, a prisoner who worked in the hospital at Mauthausen concentration camp, had no trouble remembering the first time he watched SS doctor Aribert Heim kill a man.
It was 1941, and an 18-year-old Jew had been sent to the clinic with a foot inflammation. Heim asked him about himself and why he was he so fit. The young man said he had been a soccer player and swimmer.
Then, instead of treating the prisoner’s foot, Heim anesthetized him, cut him open, castrated him, took apart one kidney and removed the second, Lotter said. The victim’s head was removed and the flesh boiled off so that Heim could keep it on display.
2 Bush says no magic wand to lower fuel prices
By Jeremy Pelofsky and Chris Baltimore, Reuters
Tue Apr 29, 3:42 PM ET
|WASHINGTON (Reuters) – U.S. President George W. Bush said on Tuesday there was no “magic wand” to bring down record-high fuel prices but would consider a proposal to suspend federal gasoline taxes this summer — an idea that has divided the 2008 presidential candidates.
Trying to calm anxious Americans facing $3.60 a gallon gasoline and soaring grocery bills, Bush again prodded Congress to open an Alaska wildlife refuge to oil drilling and allow construction of more nuclear and coal plants.
“I firmly believe that, you know, if there was a magic wand to wave, I’d be waving it, of course,” he said during a news conference. “I’ve repeatedly submitted proposals to help address these problems, yet time after time Congress chose to block them.”
3 Cost issues and war sap U.S. military readiness: lawmaker
By Andrea Shalal-Esa, Reuters
8 minutes ago
|WASHINGTON (Reuters) – A top Democratic lawmaker on Tuesday called for urgent improvement of the U.S. military’s readiness, saying the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan and cost overruns in weapons programs had sapped its ability to respond quickly to a crisis elsewhere.
Rep. Ike Skelton, a Missouri Democrat who heads the House of Representatives Armed Services Committee, said military officials had finally begun to acknowledge these problems after years of questioning by Congress.
“Should a major unexpected contingency occur today, it could not be answered in a timely fashion and this worries me to death,” Skelton told a group of defense writers.
4 UN chief orders task force to tackle food crisis
by William French, AFP
Tue Apr 29, 12:36 PM ET
|BERN (AFP) – UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon on Tuesday ordered a top level task force to take on the global crisis caused by rising food prices and urged key producer nations to end export bans.
The UN chief said the immediate priority must be to “feed the hungry” and called for urgent funding for the World Food Programme.
Ban said after a meeting of the heads of 27 key international agencies that the new task force would be led by the UN’s top humanitarian official, deputy under-secretary John Holmes.
5 Heparin contamination appears deliberate: Baxter CEO
by Jean-Louis Santini, AFP
Tue Apr 29, 5:28 PM ET
|WASHINGTON (AFP) – US drug-maker Baxter International said Tuesday its blood thinner heparin, which is produced in China and has been linked to dozens of deaths, appears to have been deliberately contaminated.
“We’re alarmed that one of our products was used in what appears to have been a deliberate scheme to adulterate a life-saving medication, and that people have suffered as a result,” Baxter chief executive Robert Parkinson told a US Congress panel.
“We deeply regret that this has happened, and I feel a strong sense of personal responsibility for these circumstances,” he told a subpanel of the House of Representatives’ Energy and Commerce Committee.
6 A Kurdish idealist returns to Iraq to ‘change attitudes’
By Sam Dagher, The Christian Science Monitor
Tue Apr 29, 4:00 AM ET
|Choman, Iraq – Nestled amid Iraq’s highest mountains between the Iranian and Turkish borders, lies a town of farmers and traders, smugglers and truckers.
Choman is a place of dramatic beauty with snowcapped peaks and lush valleys. But even though Baghdad seems like a world away, the residents here, and in many other towns in Kurdish Iraq, still struggle to overcome the impact of war.
In the 1980s, Saddam Hussein destroyed these areas to attack Kurdish rebels. Today, Iran and Turkey target separatists hiding in the mountains.
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7 Food scientists say stop biofuels to fight world hunger
By SETH BORENSTEIN, AP Science Writer
Tue Apr 29, 5:27 PM ET
|WASHINGTON – Some top international food scientists Tuesday recommended halting the use of food-based biofuels, such as ethanol, saying it would cut corn prices by 20 percent during a world food crisis.
But even as the scientists were calling for a moratorium, President Bush urged the opposite. He declared the United States should increase ethanol use because of national energy security and high gas prices.
The conflicting messages Tuesday highlighted the ongoing debate over food and fuel needs.
8 Sudden energy crunch forces Juneau to conserve electricity
By ANNE SUTTON, Associated Press Writer
Tue Apr 29, 2:16 PM ET
|JUNEAU, Alaska – First, there was a run on energy-efficient light bulbs. When those ran out, people began asking for lamp oil. But when they started demanding clothespins in this land of mist and rain, it was clear Alaska’s capital city was caught in a serious energy crunch.
“We sold all our clothespins the first day,” said Doug White, general manager at Don Abel Building Supplies. “I don’t think kids even knew what they were for, but they’re learning now.”
Avalanches earlier this month knocked down transmission lines and cut off Juneau’s source of low-cost hydroelectric power. Threatened with a fivefold increase in utility bills, Juneau quickly powered down.
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9 Army widens probe after finding bad conditions at Fort Bragg
By ROBERT BURNS, AP Military Writer
1 hour, 14 minutes ago
|WASHINGTON – Army officials said Tuesday they are inspecting every barracks building worldwide to see whether plumbing and other problems revealed at Fort Bragg, N.C., last week are widespread.
Brig. Gen. Dennis Rogers, who is responsible for maintaining barracks throughout the Army, told reporters at the Pentagon that most inspections were done last weekend but he had not seen final results.
While not providing specifics about problems discovered during the weekend inspections, Rogers indicated some deficiencies were corrected. In cases where extensive repairs are deemed necessary, the soldiers in that housing would be moved elsewhere until the fixes are completed, he added.
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10 Absinthe’s Mind-Altering Mystery Solved
Charles Q. Choi, Special to LiveScience
Tue Apr 29, 1:40 PM ET
|An analysis of century-old bottles of absinthe – the kind once quaffed by the likes of van Gogh and Picasso to enhance their creativity – may end the controversy over what ingredient caused the green liqueur’s supposed mind-altering effects .
The culprit seems plain and simple: The century-old absinthe contained about 70 percent alcohol, giving it a 140-proof kick. In comparison, most gins, vodkas and whiskeys are just 80- to 100-proof.
In recent years, the psychedelic nature of absinthe has been hotly debated. Absinthe was notorious among 19th-century and early 20th-century bohemian artists as “the Green Fairy” that expanded the mind. After it became infamous for madness and toxic side effects among drinkers, it was widely banned.
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11 Militiamen ambush drives back US patrol in Sadr City
By KIM GAMEL, Associated Press Writer
18 minutes ago
|BAGHDAD – Dozens of fighters ambushed a U.S. patrol in Baghdad’s main Shiite militia stronghold Tuesday, firing rocket-propelled grenades and machine gun bursts as the American push into Sadr City increasingly faces pockets of close urban combat.
U.S. forces struck back with 200-pound guided rockets that devastated at least three buildings in the densely packed district that serves as the Baghdad base for the powerful Mahdi Army militia.
The U.S. military said 28 militiamen were killed as the U.S. patrol pulled back. Local hospital officials said dozens of civilians were killed or wounded.
12 Nearly 200 Zimbabwe opposition supporters released
By ANGUS SHAW, Associated Press Writer
1 hour, 32 minutes ago
|HARARE, Zimbabwe – Police on Tuesday released nearly 200 people who were arrested last week in a raid at opposition headquarters, while President Bush called on Zimbabwe’s neighbors to step up the pressure on longtime leader Robert Mugabe.
Many of the 215 people arrested on Friday had fled to Harare to escape mounting violence and intimidation in rural areas that used to be ruling party strongholds but turned against Mugabe in the March 29 elections.
Twenty-nine people, mainly women and children, were released almost immediately. The rest were freed from various police stations in the capital Tuesday in accordance with a High Court order issued Monday, opposition defense lawyer Alec Muchadehama said.
13 China marks 100 days until start of Beijing Olympics
By STEPHEN WADE, AP Sports Writer
Tue Apr 29, 12:26 PM ET
|BEIJING – Shimmering stadiums and billions of dollars spent to remake Beijing into a modern city have been overshadowed by pro-Tibet protests, chaos on the Olympic torch relay, and an anti-Western backlash by angry Chinese who sense their coming-out party is being spoiled.
With 100 days to go, the battle has been lost to keep politics out of the Beijing Olympics.
A year ago, former International Olympic Committee President Juan Antonio Samaranch predicted Beijing would be the “best in Olympics history.” A few weeks ago, his successor, Jacques Rogge, said the games were “in crisis.”
The shine is off, and the question is this: Can China and the IOC restore some luster by returning sports and goodwill to the games?
14 Is an Iranian general pulling the strings in Iraq?
By Hannah Allam, Jonathan S. Landay and Warren P. Strobel, McClatchy Newspapers
Mon Apr 28, 3:52 PM ET
|BAGHDAD – One of the most powerful men in Iraq isn’t an Iraqi government official, a militia leader, a senior cleric or a top U.S. military commander or diplomat,
He’s an Iranian general, and at times he’s more influential than all of them.
Brig. Gen. Qassem Suleimani commands the Iranian Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps’ Quds Force, an elite paramilitary and espionage organization whose mission is to expand Iran’s influence in the Middle East.
As Tehran’s point man on Iraq , he funnels military and financial support to various Iraqi factions, frustrating U.S. attempts to build a pro-Western democracy on the rubble of Saddam Hussein’s dictatorship.
15 Have Mugabe’s Foes Turned the Tide?
By MEGAN LINDOW, Time Magazine
Tue Apr 29, 6:10 AM ET
|Could the tide be turning once again in Zimbabwe’s post-election crisis? When the authorities declared their intention to recount the ballots in 23 of 210 seats in the election staged more than four weeks ago, opposition activists and foreign observers assumed the intention was to rig the results and maintain the power of President Robert Mugabe and his ZANU-PF party. But the revised result announced on Sunday upheld the historic victory of the Movement for Democratic Change in the parliamentary election, meaning Mugabe’s party has lost control of the legislature for the first time in Zimbabwe’s 28-year history. Although the results of the balloting for the presidency continue to be withheld, the opposition is clearly feeling the wind at its back: After several weeks of bloody suppression at the hands of security forces and militias associated with the ruling party, the MDC announced Monday that it had overcome a split in its ranks that had resulted in rival slates of candidates, thus adding strength to its parliamentary gains.|
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16 Dallas man freed by DNA testing after 27 years in prison
By SCHUYLER DIXON, Associated Press Writer
1 hour, 50 minutes ago
|DALLAS – A Dallas man who spent more than 27 years in prison for a murder he didn’t commit was freed Tuesday, after being incarcerated longer than any other wrongfully convicted U.S. inmate cleared by DNA testing.
James Lee Woodard stepped out of the courtroom and raised his arms to a throng of photographers. Supporters and other people gathered outside the court erupted in applause.
“No words can express what a tragic story yours is,” state District Judge Mark Stoltz told Woodard at a brief hearing before his release.
17 Wal-Mart to cash tax rebate checks for free
By Nicole Maestri, Reuters
2 hours, 51 minutes ago
|NEW YORK (Reuters) – Wal-Mart Stores Inc unveiled plans on Tuesday to entice U.S. shoppers to spend their tax rebates in its discount stores, offering to cash the checks for free as it announced price cuts on staple goods such as cereal and lunch meat.
While other retailers are requiring consumers to spend some or all of their rebate checks in their stores to be eligible to receive special deals or discounts, Wal-Mart said no purchase was necessary to cash the checks at its stores.
“If you want to cash the check at Wal-Mart and go spend it at a competitor, that’s fine with us,” said Eduardo Castro-Wright, head of Wal-Mart’s U.S. operations, speaking at a Lehman Bros retail conference broadcast over the Internet.
18 Jeremiah Wright Goes to War
By AMY SULLIVAN/WASHINGTON, Time Magazine
Tue Apr 29, 10:30 AM ET
Could he explain the context behind the sermon he gave after September 11, 2001? “Have you heard the whole sermon? No? That nullifies that question.” How does he respond to critics who charge that he is unpatriotic? “How many years did Cheney serve?” Does the fact that Obama says he never heard Wright’s most controversial sermons mean he’s not much of a churchgoer? “He goes to church as much as you do. What did your pastor preach on last week?”
The Truth? You can’t handle The Truth!
19 The Coolest D.C. Party Is Still Lame
By MICHAEL SCHERER/WASHINGTON, Time Magazine
Mon Apr 28, 3:15 PM ET
|… It’s no wonder that in middle age, so many of our successful men end up wearing work socks to bed with costly prostitutes.
These truths are self-evident, but we still try to keep up appearances. It’s bad for business to admit you are a pinhead, even if the polls clearly show that the American people have not been fooled. So each year, nearly three thousand Beltway tribe members and their guests gather at the Washington Hilton, the place where Ronald Reagan got shot, to dine with the current President of the United States and pretend for a night that we actually belong to a cool crowd, a hip scene, an exclusive network of movers and shakers that everyone wants to join.
It is, to say the least, a hard sell. First, we call the whole horror show the White House Correspondents’ Association Dinner, as if all those big words mattered. Then we import lots of foreign ingredients: crates and crates of free alcohol, racks and racks of low-cut dresses, a couple red carpets, and dozens of dazed celebrity guests, who mingle with people like Henry Kissinger and Colin Powell with looks on their faces that suggest they can’t wait to get back to California to fire their agents.
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20 McCain seeks tax credit to help buy health insurance
By LIBBY QUAID, Associated Press Writer
Tue Apr 29, 3:26 PM ET
|TAMPA, Fla. – Republican John McCain wants to change how people get their health insurance, shifting away from job-based coverage to an open market where people can choose from competing policies.
McCain said Tuesday he would offer families a $5,000 tax credit to help buy insurance policies. Everyone would get the credit, whether he or she keeps a policy through an employer or shops for a new one.
Advisers called the speech a major policy address though McCain has talked about the same ideas for several months.
Still missing: The total cost of the plan and an estimate of how many people it would help. There are more than 40 million people in the United States who don’t have health insurance. An adviser said that specifics will come later.
21 Congress push to stop SPR shipments gains steam
By Chris Baltimore, Reuters
Tue Apr 29, 6:14 PM ET
|WASHINGTON (Reuters) – A plan to require the U.S. government to stop filling the nation’s emergency crude oil stockpile until prices drop has enough votes in the U.S. Senate to overcome a likely presidential veto, a Democratic lawmaker said on Tuesday.
Sen. Byron Dorgan of North Dakota said he has lined up the support of 68 senators — enough to override a presidential veto — for his plan to delay filling the Strategic Petroleum Reserve until the end of 2008 or oil prices fall below $75 a barrel, versus current levels near $120 a barrel.
That’s after 16 Republicans on Tuesday broke ranks with President George W. Bush to back a temporary halt to filling the U.S. emergency crude oil stockpile, adding to the 51 Democrats who support the move.
22 Bush sees ‘slow’ economy, sidesteps recession talk
Tue Apr 29, 12:36 PM ET
|WASHINGTON (AFP) – President George W. Bush said Tuesday he sees “a very slow economy” but sidestepped questions about whether he believes a recession is at hand.
At a White House news conference, Bush cautioned of “very difficult economic times,” while arguing for the need to extend tax cuts to help stimulate activity.
The president also rejected the notion of stopping purchases or tapping the US strategic oil reserve, saying the action would not affect prices.
Bush said he had not been briefed on the initial estimate for first quarter gross domestic product (GDP) due to be released Wednesday.
23 Pentagon cuts funding for Iraq under pressure from Congress
2 hours, 53 minutes ago
|WASHINGTON (AFP) – US Secretary of Defense Robert Gates has withdrawn a 171-million-dollar funding request to build police stations in Iraq after demands from Congress to have Baghdad take on a greater share of reconstruction costs, according to a letter released Tuesday.
Writing to Carl Levin, the chairman of the Senate Armed Services Committee, Gates said he had “decided to not proceed with reallocation of the 171 million identified for police station construction,” as part of a larger 590-million-dollar budget for reconstruction funds.
“As an alternative, we will seek funding from the government of Iraq for this purpose,” he wrote to the influential Democratic lawmaker.
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24 Stocks mixed with investors wary before Fed’s rate decision
By JOE BEL BRUNO, AP Business Writer
Tue Apr 29, 5:45 PM ET
|NEW YORK – Wall Street turned in a mixed performance Tuesday as investors traded cautiously ahead of the Federal Reserve’s Wednesday decision on interest rates.
The Fed, facing a faltering economy but also rising inflation, is expected to cut interest rates by another quarter point after its two-day meeting concludes Wednesday. Many investor believe policy makers will then signal that they are planning to hold rates steady for a while.
Consumers have been worried about inflation because it means energy and grocery bills are harder to pay. Wall Street is also concerned, because inflation tends to curtail consumer spending, which accounts for more than two-thirds of the U.S. economy.
25 Consumer confidence drops in April on inflation, job worries
By ANNE D’INNOCENZIO, AP Business Writer
Tue Apr 29, 4:34 PM ET
|NEW YORK – From soaring gas prices to weaker job prospects, Americans are gloomier about the economy than just before the U.S. invasion of Iraq. They’re so anxious that fewer people say they are planning to take a vacation than in 30 years.
And those are worrying signs for the already deteriorating economy, since eroding consumer confidence foreshadows weaker spending.
A widely watched measure of sentiment dropped to a five-year low in April, the fourth straight month of declines. The Conference Board said Tuesday that its Consumer Confidence Index fell to 62.3 in April, down from a revised 65.9 last month and 76.4 in February.
26 Countrywide loses $893 million in 1Q on rising loss reserve
By ALEX VEIGA, AP Business Writer
Tue Apr 29, 5:16 PM ET
|LOS ANGELES – Countrywide Financial Corp. said Tuesday it lost $893 million in the first quarter, as rising loan defaults amid a deepening housing downturn forced the nation’s largest mortgage lender and servicer to sharply increase its provision for loan losses and book other credit-related charges.
The latest results marked the third consecutive quarterly loss for Countrywide, which reaped a windfall during the housing boom but has been struggling since last summer, despite predictions last fall by CEO Angelo Mozilo that his company would turn a profit in 2008.
The Calabasas, Calif.-based company, which agreed in January to sell itself to Bank of America Corp. for about $4 billion in stock, did not conduct an earnings conference call with analysts, citing the proposed sale.
27 Cholesterol-drug rejection rips new gash in Merck
By Ransdell Pierson, Reuters
Tue Apr 29, 4:39 PM ET
|NEW YORK (Reuters) – Confidence in Merck & Co’s (MRK.N) earnings prospects withered on Tuesday, along with its stock price, after U.S. regulators surprisingly rejected the drugmaker’s treatment to raise levels of “good” HDL cholesterol.
Shares of Merck, already battered by this year’s failed trial of its blockbuster Vytorin cholesterol drug, were swept as much as 10.8 percent lower in Tuesday trading. They are down 36 percent for the year.
Merck for years has touted the drug, which it had planned to call Cordaptive, as one of its most important experimental medicines and a major new weapon to prevent heart attacks and stroke. But the Food and Drug Administration late on Monday slapped the product down with a so-called not-approvable letter.
28 Market wavers as drugs weigh; Citi down late
By Jennifer Coogan, Reuters
Tue Apr 29, 5:43 PM ET
|NEW YORK (Reuters) – Stocks ended little changed on Tuesday as setbacks for two drugs weighed down the pharmaceutical sector, offsetting the relief from a retreat in record high crude oil prices.
Trading volume was scant as investors turned cautious with the Federal Reserve’s two-day meeting under way. Policy makers are expected to trim interest rates and signal an end to a series of deep cuts started in September.
The prospect of steady rates helped support the dollar and contributed to a 2.5 percent drop in oil prices from a record high. Crude’s decline sparked a rally in airlines, but dragged on energy-related shares.
29 Confidence slumps as home prices post record fall
By Burton Frierson, Reuters
Tue Apr 29, 1:09 PM ET
|NEW YORK (Reuters) – Consumer confidence fell to a five-year low this month as Americans confronted the grimmest jobs outlook since late 2004, while data also showed a record drop in home prices in February.
Contributing to their slumping confidence in April, consumers expected that inflation would accelerate to a pace last seen in the early 1980s. The news cemented the prevailing view that the Federal Reserve, which is to open a two-day policy meeting later on Tuesday, would signal an end to its aggressive campaign of lowering interest rates.
The private Conference Board’s index of consumer sentiment fell to 62.3 in April, the lowest reading since March 2003, when the Iraq war was launched, from an upwardly revised 65.9 in March.
30 Fed seen cutting rates as consumer hopes swoon
Tue Apr 29, 2:08 PM ET
|WASHINGTON (Reuters) – The Federal Reserve began a two-day meeting on Tuesday that was expected to end with a small interest rate cut that could be the last in a string of reductions dating to mid-September.
The U.S. central bank opened its policy-setting meeting at 2 p.m. EDT, a Fed official said. A decision on rates is expected to be announced about 2:15 p.m. on Wednesday.
Financial markets widely expect the Fed to lower benchmark overnight rates by a quarter-percentage point to 2 percent, which would the lowest since December 2004, and offer a hint the rate cutting may be at an end. Interest rate futures prices implied a small probability the Fed could leave rates unchanged.
31 IMF faces glut of staff seeking buyouts as reform advances
by Veronica Smith, AFP
Tue Apr 29, 4:40 PM ET
|WASHINGTON (AFP) – The International Monetary Fund said Tuesday it has a glut of employees seeking buyout packages as its member nations overwhelmingly approved major voting and quota reforms.
The IMF said it had received requests from 591 of the 2,900 eligible employees for redundancy packages that were offered in a cost-cutting restructuring aimed at shoring up its shaky finances.
That represented roughly one in five employees, about half more than targeted.
32 Internal Siemens probe uncovers widespread corruption: company
Tue Apr 29, 3:33 PM ET
|FRANKFURT (AFP) – An internal probe at German industrial group Siemens has found that almost all its sectors of activity were subject to active corruption, a company statement said Tuesday.
The international law firm of Debevoise & Plimpton “has found evidence in each of the examined groups and in various countries indicating that domestic as well as foreign compliance regulations have been violated,” it said.
“The violations in question reflect not only outright incidents of corruption, but, in many cases, violations of regulations pertaining to internal controls,” the enquiry found.
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33 New Zealand scientists thaw 1,000-pound squid corpse
By RAY LILLEY, Associated Press Writer
Tue Apr 29, 4:15 PM ET
|WELLINGTON, New Zealand – Marine scientists in New Zealand on Tuesday were thawing the corpse of the largest squid ever caught to try to unlock the secrets of one of the ocean’s most mysterious beasts.
No one has ever seen a living, grown colossal squid in its natural deep ocean habitat, and scientists hope their examination of the 1,089-pound, 26-foot long colossal squid, set to begin Wednesday, will help determine how the creatures live. The thawing and examination are being broadcast live on the Internet.
The squid, which was caught accidentally by fishermen last year, was removed from its freezer Monday and put into a tank filled with saline solution. Ice was added to the tank Tuesday to slow the thawing process so the outer flesh wouldn’t rot, said Carol Diebel, director of natural environment at New Zealand’s national museum, Te Papa Tongarewa.
34 Biologists say dozens of grizzlies reside in Anchorage
Tue Apr 29, 4:02 PM ET
|ANCHORAGE, Alaska – A study by state biologists has found parts of Anchorage are much more popular among grizzly bears than they previously thought.
At least three dozen grizzlies have been seen over the past three summers along Campbell Creek, which courses through industrial and residential areas and is home to a science center that is popular among families on warm summer days.
While biologists with the Department of Fish and Game knew the area was popular with bears, they were surprised to find out just how many were hanging out along the stream. It appears the bears are coming from several valleys in the Chugach Mountains above Anchorage.
35 Judge orders federal government to decide polar bear listing
By DAN JOLING, Associated Press Writer
Tue Apr 29, 4:15 PM ET
|ANCHORAGE, Alaska – A federal judge has ordered the Interior Department to decide within 16 days whether polar bears should be listed as a threatened species because of global warming.
U.S. District Judge Claudia Wilken agreed with conservation groups that the department missed a Jan. 9 deadline for a decision. She rejected a government request for a further delay and ordered it to act by May 15.
“Defendants have been in violation of the law requiring them to publish the listing determination for nearly 120 days,” the judge, based in Oakland, Calif., wrote in a decision issued late Monday. “Other than the general complexity of finalizing the rule, Defendants offer no specific facts that would justify the delay, much less further delay.”
36 Legless lizard found in Brazil may be new species
By Alister Doyle, Environment Correspondent
Tue Apr 29, 12:17 PM ET
|OSLO (Reuters) – Scientists have discovered a legless lizard, a toad and a dwarf woodpecker among 14 species believed to be new to science in central Brazil, a wildlife conservation group said on Tuesday.
A four-week expedition to the Cerrado region, a wooded savannah under threat from the expansion of farming, found eight apparently unknown types of fish, three reptiles, one amphibian, a mammal and a bird, Conservation International said.
“The lizard, of the Bachia genus, resembles a snake due to its lack of legs and pointed snout, which help it move across the predominantly sandy soil,” U.S.-based Conservation International, a non-profit group, said in a statement.
37 Biggest squid ever caught may be a minnow: scientists
by David Brooks, AFP
Tue Apr 29, 4:01 AM ET
|WELLINGTON (AFP) – The biggest squid ever caught, at up to 10 metres long and boasting a fearsome beak and razor-sharp hooks, may be small compared to others still lurking in the depths, scientists said Tuesday.
The colossal squid has begun a two-day thaw at The Museum of New Zealand in Wellington before it is examined in more detail Wednesday by an international team of scientists.
It weighs 495 kilograms (1,090 pounds), has eyes the size of dinner plates and is estimated at up to 10 metres (33 feet) long.
But that may be relatively small, scientists say after initial examination, suggesting other colossal squid (Mesonychoteuthis hamiltoni) under the chilly Antarctic waters might grow much larger.
38 Marching Sand Dunes Create Mars Mystery
Andrea Thompson, Senior Staff Writer, SPACE.com
Tue Apr 29, 7:02 AM ET
|Sand grains stirred up by the winds of Mars are tossed higher and farther than those kicked up by winds on Earth, a new study finds. The results could help explain how dunes migrate across the Martian surface as well as what whips up dust storms that blow across the red planet.
Scientists first noticed dunes on the Martian surface in pictures taken by NASA’s Mariner missions in the 1970s and have seen dust storms of all sizes spread across the planet – one major storm in 2005 was even visible through a simple backyard telescope. But these features have puzzled astronomers because Mars has almost no atmosphere and very weak winds that seem unlikely to be able to sculpt dunes or whip up storms.
To help solve this conundrum, a team of scientists recently conducted wind tunnel simulations of windblown sand grains under the conditions found on both Earth and Mars to figure out how the particles would behave on these planets with vastly different atmospheres. Their results are detailed in the April 28 issue of the journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.
39 Young Galaxies Surprisingly Packed with Stars
Tue Apr 29, 9:31 AM ET
|Several newfound galaxies seen as they existed when the universe was young are packed with improbable numbers of stars.
Astronomers don’t know what’s going on.
The nine galaxies are 11 billion light-years away, which means the light astronomers are looking at left the galaxies 11 billion years ago, when the universe was less than 3 billion years old.
Each of the newly studied galaxies weighs about 200 billion times the mass of the sun yet is a mere 5,000 light-years across. Our Milky Way Galaxy is a fraction of that heft at roughly 3 million times the sun’s mass, and yet it stretches across 100,000 light-years of space.
The compact galaxies have been furiously forming stars; each contains as many stars as a typical large galaxy of today, the new observations reveal.
40 Long-Lived Lightning Storm Rages on Saturn
Tariq Malik, Senior Editor, SPACE.com
Tue Apr 29, 4:45 PM ET
|A monster storm spawning bolts of lightning 10,000 times more powerful than any seen on Earth is raging on the ringed planet Saturn.
The powerful electrical storm cropped up in Saturn’s southern hemisphere five months ago, when it was first spotted by NASA’s Cassini spacecraft, and has persevered to become the planet’s longest continuously recorded tempest to date.
“We saw similar storms in 2004 and 2006 that each lasted for nearly a month, but this storm is longer-lived by far,” said Georg Fischer, an associate with Cassini’s radio and plasma wave science team at the University of Iowa, Iowa City, in a statement. “And it appeared after nearly two years during which we did not detect any electrical storm activity from Saturn.”
41 Huge Black Hole Catapulted Through Space
Andrea Thompson, Senior Staff Writer, SPACE.com
Tue Apr 29, 4:45 PM ET
|A colossal black hole has been spotted exiting its home galaxy, kicked out after a huge cosmic merger took place.
The event, seen for the first time, was announced today.
When two colliding galaxies finally merge, it is thought that the black holes at their cores may fuse together too. Astronomers have theorized that the resulting energy release could propel the new black hole from its parent galaxy out into space, but no one has found such an event.
“We have observed the pre-merger stages of black holes,” said Stefanie Komossa of the Max Planck Institute for extraterrestrial Physics, part of the team that made the new discovery. “But we haven’t seen the actual merger event.”
Komossa and her team have now detected the consequences of such a merger: a black hole in the process of leaving its home galaxy.