Archive for November, 2018

21
Nov

Anniversary of Tak Bai incident marked with lawsuits

Tuesday, October 25, 2005

Marking the anniversary of an incident at Tak Bai police station which led to 78 people suffocating while being detained by the Thai army, relatives of the deceased plan to file a lawsuit with the Pattani provincial court seeking 80 million baht (approx. US$2 million, 1.6 million euro) in compensation.

Utt Bueraheng, the lawyer representing the families is confident they will win their case as an investigation into the incident took some disciplinary action against involved senior officers.

The suit will name the Thai Defence Ministry, Army, Royal Thai Police Office, Interior Ministry, and Narathiwat provincial authorities as defendants. Earlier in the week other lawsuits were filed in relation to the incident; in all cases the named defendants are the same.

The Tak Bai incident is one of the most publicised events of the South Thailand insurgency. On October 25, 2004 six local men were arrested, accused of supplying defence force weapons to insurgents. Villagers organised a protest, demanding that the police release the accused. Instead, the police called in army reinforcements who used tear gas and water cannons on the crowd; shooting started, and seven people were killed.

Hundreds of local citizens, mostly young Muslim men, were arrested. They were made to strip to the waist and lie on the ground. Their hands were bound behind their backs and later in the afternoon they were loaded into trucks to be taken to an army camp where they were to be detained. The prisoners were stacked on top of each other in the trucks, and by the time the three-hour trip to the camp was completed, 78 men had suffocated in the heat.

The incident provoked widespread protest, not limited to Muslims in the south. Many non-Muslim Thais were shocked by the army’s behaviour. However the Thai Prime Minister, Thaksin Sinawatra, gave his full support to the army and until these lawsuits were brought, very little disciplinary action had been taken against those responsible. Thaksin’s response in defending the army’s actions was to say the men died, “because they were already weak from fasting during the month of Ramadan.”

The lawsuits brought earlier this week against the five state agencies seek a total of more than eighteen million baht (approx. US$ 440,000 or 370,000 euros) in compensation. The first lawsuit was filed on behalf of relatives of five of the seven protesters killed outside Tak Bai police station; this suit seeks 5.8 million baht. The second lawsuit was filed by a group of seventeen of the protesters who were injured in the clash with police and security forces; this suit seeks 12.4 million baht compensation for injury and loss of property. All of the lawsuits have been brought with the assistance of the Law Society of Thailand.

The aftermath of the Tak Bai incident saw many of the protesters seeking asylum in neighbouring Malaysia. Recently forty of those who had fled across the border returned after they had been given assurances by authorities regarding their safety.

The leadership of the insurgents remains unclear, with no clearly identified organisational structure, or announced objectives. However, there have been separatists in the former Malay sultanate since the 1930s. Under military rule, they were firmly suppressed and only since early 2004 has violence flared in the troubled provinces. The government reacted to this by declaring Martial law in January of 2004.

Despite the imposition of Martial law, attacks on police, government officials, schools and military compounds continued unabated. This prompted the Prime Minister to introduce an executive decree for administration in emergency situations early in 2005. Additional troops were dispatched to the troubled provinces bringing the total in the area to 30,000; however, lack of counter-insurgency training and experience meant they have done little in the way of quelling the violence. In the past six months the army has reported that 298 have been killed, and over 300 injured in attacks. The estimated total killed since the start of 2004 is claimed to be over one thousand.

21
Nov

Australian man allegedly ignites carpet, plastic with static electricity

Saturday, September 17, 2005

A story about a man carrying over 30,000 (sometimes reported as 40,000) volts of static electricity in his body, allegedly generated by a wool sweater and nylon jacket combination, is circulating through major news outlets. The story, carried first by the Warrnambool Standard, says that the man, Frank Clewer, a 58-year old cleaner from Dennington, involuntarily created a scene by causing fire departments to evacuate three buildings where he had left his mark, before he realized he was causing the burn marks on carpets and allowed the fire department to help him.

The story has been picked up by The Register, Guardian, BBC, USA Today, Reuters, local agencies of ABC, the San Francisco Chronicle, and other news outlets.

Several unanswered objections mark the story as a possible hoax:

  • Clewer enters and exits his car several times in the story — if he opened the car by touching its presumably metal lock, he would surely release some electricity into the car through his hand; everyone has at some point experienced the painful shock of touching a door handle or car keys to a lock. Though the car might not be grounded, it would still be at a lower potential and thus energy would be transferred. This would be noticeable; the story does not comment that Clewer understood what was happening to him.
  • Firefighters supposedly “used a device to check static electricity on him and his belongings.” While firefighters would be likely to carry a high-voltage multimeter around to measure the current and voltage ratings of downed power lines, it is unlikely that the same device could measure such a large voltage resulting from a very small amount of static energy without de-electrifying it.
  • For such a large voltage to be stored, humidity would have to have been extremely low on that day for the air around him not to ionize and source current, removing the static energy.
  • If he was carrying such a large voltage, his hair would probably have stood on end, as this is a notable effect when one touches a Van de Graaf generator. Note: It is uncertain at what voltage this effect begins, and since Van de Graaf machines routinely exceed Megavolts of electric potential, this may not be a verifiable objection.
  • This statement: “Firefighters took possession of Clewer’s jacket and stored it in the courtyard of the fire station, where it continued to give off a strong electrical current.” (Reuters UK) First, there is no reason they would need to take possession of the jacket — the static electricity could be dealt with by simply dumping water on it. Second, the jacket could not “give off” an electric current without some continuous source of energy, which, in storage, is impossible. It is possible that the jacket could hold a voltage, but the effects of this would not be visible — if they were, they would be short-lived as the jacket would lose its static energy. In any event, the current would be miniscule.
  • The amount of energy stored on Clewer’s person and possessions could not have been more than a few Joules; this is unlikely to have burned carpet.

The equation for stored energy in capacitors is:

U = ( C × V 2 ) / 2 {\displaystyle U=(C\times V^{2})/2}

Where U = energy, C = capacitance, and V = voltage. A human body by itself typically has a capacitance of around 250 pF, which would mean a voltage of 30,000 V would produce energy of 0.11 joules. Even if Clewer’s possessions resulted in a parallel capacitance of 1 microfarad, this would still only result in an energy storage of 450 J. This amount of energy would be insufficient to burn carpet or char plastic, although a spark could ignite flammable vapor or gas.

20
Nov

Simple animals may live in Martian brines: Wikinews interviews Vlada Stamenkovi?

Friday, November 9, 2018

Vlada Stamenkovi? and his colleagues developed a new model which raises the possibility of oxygen-rich brines on Mars; enough, perhaps, to support simple animals such as sponges. One of our volunteer reporters for Wikinews caught up with him in an email interview to find out more about their research and their plans for the future.

The atmosphere of Mars is far too thin for us to breathe, or indeed, to extract any oxygen at all in our lungs. It has on average only around 0.6% of the pressure of Earth’s atmosphere, and it is mainly carbon dioxide; only 0.146% of that is oxygen. Yet the result of their modeling was clear, these minute traces of oxygen should be able to get into salty seeps of water on or near its surface, at levels high enough to support at least some forms of microbial life that require oxygen, and possibly higher life too, maybe even simple sponges.

As interviewed by Wikinews:

VS: Our work really opens up new possibilities for the Martian habitability, and that’s why it’s so exciting!

As previously interviewed by National Geographic (October 22):

Vlada Stamenkovi?: We were absolutely flabbergasted. I went back to recalculate everything like five different times to make sure it’s a real thing.

So, why is their research about briny seeps rather than fresh water? Mars is so dry because fresh water is not stable over most of its surface. Even with the higher pressure at the depths of the huge ancient impact crater of the Hellas basin, with a boiling point of 10 °C, it is close to boiling point already at 0 °C, and would evaporate rapidly.

However, salty brines can be liquid at much lower temperatures. Salts and very salty brines can actually take in water from the atmosphere at low temperatures. Curiosity discovered indirect evidence of this process (through humidity measurements). It found that brines form during winter nights in the top 15cm of the soil through deliquescence, taking up water from the atmosphere at around -70 °C. This water then evaporates again as the soil warms up through the day, and the process repeats every day – night cycle.

There is other indirect evidence that salty brines may exist, perhaps more habitable than the Curiosity brines, even though the atmosphere is so thin and the climate so cold. In their paper, the authors mention one of the lines of evidence, the hydrated magnesium and calcium salts associated with the Recurring Slope Lineae. These are seasonal streaks that form in spring on sun facing slopes, extend and broaden through the summer and fade away in autumn. These streaks are not thought to be damp patches themselves but may be associated with thin seeps of brine just below the surface.

If these habitats do exist, scientists have assumed up to now that any life on present day Mars had to be capable of growth without oxygen. Based on Mars simulation experiments, these could include certain blue-green algae such as chroococcidiopsis, some black fungi, and some purple salt loving haloarchaea found in salt ponds and hypersaline lakes on Earth.

The significance of oxygen is that it permits a more energy intensive metabolism and perhaps even true multicellular animal life such as simple sponges. Almost all complex multicellular life uses oxygen.

As previously interviewed by Scientific American (October 22):

VS: Our work is calling for a complete revision for how we think about the potential for life on Mars, and the work oxygen can do, implying that if life ever existed on Mars it might have been breathing oxygen

The authors cite research from 2014 that showed that some simple sponges can survive with only 0.002 molesper cubic meter (0.064 mg per liter) . Some microbes that need oxygen can survive with as little as a millionth of a mole per cubic meter (0.000032 mg, or 32 nanograms per liter). In their model, they found that there can be enough oxygen for microbes throughout Mars, and enough for simple sponges in oases near the poles.

This isn’t the first suggestion for multicellular life on Mars. Some lichens, such as Pleopsidium chlorophanum are able to survive in close to Mars-like conditions high up on Antarctic mountain ranges, and show promise in Mars simulation chamber experiments. However, they can do this because the algal component is able to make the oxygen needed by its fungal component. Even animal life is not completely ruled out in anoxic brines. These are not candidates for life on Mars, but three species of Loricifera, tiny animals about the size of a large amoeba, are able to survive without oxygen in deep extremely salty mud sediments in the Mediterranean.

However, this new research greatly expands the possibilities for complex life on Mars.

The paper includes a map of potential brine oxygen concentrations for the surface of Mars (their figure 4). These would be higher at the lowest points such as the floor of the Hellas basin, south of the equator, where the atmospheric pressure is highest, reaching around 1% of Earth’s atmosphere and lowest of all in the mountainous southern uplands.

However the highest oxygen concentrations of all, occur when the water is colder, which is most easily attained in polar regions. They studied mixtures of magnesium and calcium perchlorates, common on Mars. In simulation experiments these stay liquid as they are supercooled to temperatures as low as -123 to -133 °C before they transition to a glassy state. They do this even when mixed with the soil of Mars (regolith). It’s at these very low temperatures that the optimal oxygen concentrations can be reached.

They found that oxygen levels throughout Mars would be high enough for the least demanding aerobic (oxygen using) microbes, with around 25 millionths of a mole per cubic meter (0.0008 mg per liter) even in the southern uplands. However it is here at the polar regions poleward of about 67.5° to the north and about ? 72.5° to the south, that oxygen concentrations could be high enough for simple sponges. Indeed the paper suggests that in regions closer to the poles, concentrations could go even higher, right up to the levels typical of sea water on Earth, 0.2 moles per cubic meter (6.4 mg per liter). With their best case estimate and supercooling it could potentially go up all the way through to levels far higher than those in sea water, at two moles per cubic meter (64 mg per liter – a mole of oxygen is a little under 32 grams). . By comparison worms and clams that live in the muddy sea bed require 1 mg per liter, bottom feeders such as crabs and oysters 3 mg per liter and spawning migratory fish 6 mg per liter. Saturated sea water is about 9 mg per liter at 20 °C ranging up to 11 mg per liter at 0 °C.

Wikinews asked him whether their research suggests potential for life as active as this.

((Wikinews)) Does your paper’s value of up to 0.2 moles of oxygen per cubic meter, the same as Earth’s sea water mean that there could potentially be life on Mars as active as our sea worms or even fish?

VS: Mars is such a different place than the Earth and we still need to do so much more work before we can even start to speculate.

((WN)) (background information): In their model, Oxygen gets into the brines at the poles so readily because they may reach extremely cold temperatures. These are far below the usual cold limit of life. It is not a hard limit because life gets slower and slower at lower temperatures to the point where individual microbes have lifetimes of millennia. Such life is hard to study, to see whether it is active and able to reproduce at those temperatures or dormant. But the usual limit cited is -20 °C. That’s well above the lowest temperatures studied in the paper which go down to -133 °C.

Dirk Schulze-Makuch has proposed that Martian life might evolve an exotic metabolism with the perchlorates of Mars taking the place of the salts inside the cells of Earth life. This would have advantages on Mars, with the brines inside their own cells acting as an anti-freeze to protect them against extreme cold. Also with their salts being so hygroscopic, they may help them scavenge water from the atmosphere and their surroundings.

With this background, Wikinews asked:

((WN)) The temperatures for the highest levels of oxygen are really low -133 °C, so, is the idea that this oxygen would be retained when the brines warm up to more habitable temperatures during the day or seasonally? Or would the oxygen be lost as it warms up? Or – is the idea that it has to be some exotic biochemistry that works only at ultra low temperatures like Dirk Schulze-Makuch’s life based on hydrogen peroxide and perchlorates internal to the cells as antifreeze?

VS: The options are both: first, cool oxygen-rich environments do not need to be habitats. They could be reservoirs packed with a necessary nutrient that can be accessed from a deeper and warmer region. Second, the major reason for limiting life at low temperature is ice nucleation, which would not occur in the type of brines that we study.

((WN)) (background information): His first suggestion here is that the cool oxygen rich reservoirs could have warmer water come up through them from below. He doesn’t say where the warm water would come from, but one possibility is from geological hot spots. Our orbiting spacecraft have not yet found any, but Olympus Mons has been active as recently as 2.5 million years ago. If sources of warmer water could rise to the surface from below and encounter these cold oxygen-rich brines, life could make use of oxygen where the two mix.

The other possibility is an exotic biochemistry. He remarks that the brines he studies don’t form ice crystals when cooled. Indeed, as they explain in the paper, they smoothly transition to a glassy state after supercooling, which makes the conditions easier for life.

Their research also helps to explain the presence of some minerals on the Mars surface, such as manganese oxides which require conditions of water and oxygen to form. These could be evidence that the early Mars atmosphere was thick and oxygen rich (which doesn’t require life; it could for instance be oxygen rich due to ionizing radiation splitting water). However this new reseach shows that these minerals could form even without an oxygen rich atmosphere.

As previously interviewed by National Geographic (October 22):

VS: Our explanation doesn’t need any special magic — it works on Mars today,

((WN)) (background information): The idea that Mars had enough oxygen in the past for marine animals, billions of years ago, when the atmosphere was thicker, is not too surprising nowadays since the discovery of those manganese oxides. That it may have enough right now is what is so very surprising about this new research, given that it has such a thin atmosphere, with so little oxygen in it. The atmosphere is unbreathable, its trace amounts of oxygen can’t be used by any form of terrestrial animal life, but the brines may be another story.

The paper is theoretical and is based on a simplified general circulation model of the Mars atmosphere – it ignores distinctions of seasons and the day / night cycle. But it takes account of topography (mountains, craters etc) and the axial tilt. They combined it with a chemical model of how oxygen would dissolve in the brines and used this to establish predicted oxygen levels in the brines at the various locations on Mars.

Wikinews asked if they have plans to look into a more detailed model:

((WN)) and about whether there are any future plans for using a more detailed model with time variation diurnally or seasonally.

VS: Yes, we are now exploring the kinetics part and want to see what happens on shorter timescales.

((WN)) (background information): Their model took account of the tilt of the Mars axis, which varies much more than for Earth (our axis is stabilized by the presence of the Moon). They found that for the last five million years conditions were particularly favorable for oxygen rich brines, and that it continues like this for ten million years into the future, as far as they ran the model. For the last twenty million years, as far back as they took their modeling, oases with enough oxygen for sponges are still possible.

Remarkably, as they say in the paper, present day Mars would have more oxygen available for life than early Earth had prior to 1.4 billion years ago. On Earth, photosynthesis seems to have come first, generating the oxygen for the first animals. On Mars, with a different source for oxygen, oxygen breathers could arise before photosynthesis, which gives broader opportunities for oxygen-breathing life on other planets.

Wikinews asked Vlada Stamenkovi? if he had any ideas about whether and how sponges could survive through times when the tilt was higher and less oxygen would be available:

((WN)) I notice from your figure 4 that there is enough oxygen for sponges only at tilts of about 45 degrees or less. Do you have any thoughts about how sponges could survive periods of time in the distant past when the Mars axial tilt exceeds 45 degrees, for instance, might there be subsurface oxygen rich oases in caves that recolonize the surface? Also what is the exact figure for the tilt at which oxygen levels sufficient for sponges become possible? (It looks like about 45 degrees from the figure but the paper doesn’t seem to give a figure for this).

VS: 45 deg is approx. the correct degree. We were also tempted to speculate about this temporal driver but realized that we still know so little about the potential for life on Mars/principles of life that anything related to this question would be pure speculation, unfortunately.

((WN)) (background information): When the Phoenix lander landed on Mars in 2008, what appeared to be droplets formed on its legs. They grew, coalesced, and then disappeared, presumably falling off its legs. It was not able to analyze these droplets, but simulations since then in Mars simulation chambers have shown that such droplets can form within minutes when salt overlays ice on Mars. With this background then Wikinews asked him if he had investigated the timescale, and if so, whether these brines could become oxygenated.

((WN)) How quickly would the oxygen get into the brines – did you investigate the timescale?

VS: No, we did not yet study the dynamics. We first needed to show that the potential is there. We are now studying the timescales and processes.

((WN)) (background information): It is no wonder that this is a challenge. For instance, Curiosity measures temperature changes of around 70 °C between day and night. Also there are large pressure differences between summer and winter. In Gale crater it varied from under 7.5 mbar to nearly 9.5 mbar. There are also large pressure differences between day and night, varying by 10% compared to a tenth of a percent on Earth. On Earth we see such large pressure differences only during a major hurricane.

((WN)) Could the brines that Nilton Renno and his teams simulated forming on salt / ice interfaces within minutes in Mars simulation conditions get oxygenated in the process of formation? If not, how long would it take for them to get oxygenated to levels sufficient for aerobic microbes? For instance could the Phoenix leg droplets have taken up enough oxygen for aerobic respiration by microbes?

VS: Just like the answer above. Dynamics is still to be explored. (But this is a really good question ?).

Wikinews also asked how their research is linked to the recent discovery of possible large subglacial lake 1.5 km below the Martian South Pole found through radar mapping.

((WN)) Some news stories coupled your research with the subglacial lakes announcement earlier this year. Could the oxygen get through ice into layers of brines such as the possible subglacial lakes at a depth of 1.5 km?

VS: There are other ways to create oxygen. Radiolysis of water molecules into hydrogen and oxygen can liberate oxygen in the deep and that O2 could be dissolved in deep groundwater. The radiolytic power for this would come from radionuclides naturally contained in rocks, something we observe in diverse regions on Earth.

((WN)) (ebackground information): There’s research by Möhlmann that suggests that fresh liquid water may form in the Martian polar region a few centimeters below clear ice, a process that happens regularly in Antarctica. If similar clear ice exists on Mars, this process should happen even at very low surface temperatures. Our reporter, referring to this research, asked him:

((WN)) Could it get into a layer of fresh water just 30 cms below clear ice melted by the solid state greenhouse effect, as in Möhlmann’s model (which forms subsurface liquid water at surface temperatures as low as -56 °C).

VS: See response above.

((WN)) (background information): So, his answer here is that it could be possible by the same process, radiolysis of the ice through radioactivity in the rocks.

If there are indeed biologically friendly oases dotted throughout the surface of Mars then this could make it harder to sterilize spacecraft sufficiently to explore Mars. They have to be sterilized in order to avoid introducing Earth life to the habitats and so confusing the searches. If the surface of Mars has these oxygen rich habitable brines then it makes the sterilization requirements more stringent. As the Scientific American article suggests, it might be necessary to sterilize robots completely of all micro-organisms, which would drive up the cost of missions to Mars.

Stamenkovi? as interviewed by Scientific American says

VS: I think there’s a sweet spot where we can be curious and we can be explorers and not mess things up, We have to go for that.

((WN)) (background information): NASA and ESA both have missions that they plan to launch to Mars in 2020 to search for life but both have the search for past life as their main focus. The last and only missions to search for present day “extant” life on Mars were the Viking 1 and 2 missions in the 1970s. Stamenkovi? would like that to change.

As interviewed by Space.com (October 22) he said.

VS: There is still so much about the Martian habitability that we do not understand, and it’s long overdue to send another mission that tackles the question of subsurface water and potential extant life on Mars, and looks for these signals

((WN)) (background information): There are many such instruments we could send. One example, the “Chemical laptop” or PISCES under development at JPL is shown to the right. A National Academy of Sciences report released 10th October 2018 emphasizes the need to include in situ life detection instruments on future missions:

“The report highlights the need to include in situ detection of energy-starved or otherwise sparsely distributed life such as chemolithotrophic or rock-eating life. In particular, the report found that NASA should focus on research and exploration of possible life below the surface of a planet in light of recent advances that have demonstrated the breadth and diversity of life below Earth’s surface, the nature of fluids beneath the surface of Mars, and the likelihood of life-sustaining geological processes in planets and moons with subsurface oceans.”

Vlada Stamenkovi? is working on a new instrument TH2OR to send to Mars on some potential future mission. It would search for potentially habitable brines deep below its surface using ultra low frequency radio waves. This is a frequency far lower than that of ground penetrating radar, in the range of a fraction of a Hertz up to kilohertz. Wavelengths are measured in kilometers up to tens of thousands of kilometers or more. Wikinews asked him for more details

((WN)) And I’d also like to know about your experiment you want to send to Mars to help with the search for these oxygenated brines

VS: We are now developing at “NASA/JPL-California Institute of Technology” a small tool, called TH2OR (Transmissive H2O Reconnaissance) that might one day fly with a yet-to-be-determined mission. It will use low frequency sounding techniques, capable of detecting groundwater at depths down to ideally a few km under the Martian surface, thanks to the high electric conductivity of only slightly salty water and Faraday’s law of induction. Most likely, such a small and affordable instrument could be placed stationary on the planet’s surface or be carried passively or actively on mobile surface assets; TH2OR might be also used in combination with existing orbiting assets to increase its sounding depth. Next to determining the depth of groundwater, we should also be able to estimate its salinity and indirectly its potential chemistry, which is critical information for astrobiology and ISRU (in situ resource utilization).

((WN)) (background information): Wikinews asked if this device would use natural sources of ultra low frequency radio waves, or if it would use TDEM – a method that involves setting up a current in a loop to generate a sine wave and then suddenly switching it off and observing the radio waves generated by transient eddy currents. The eddy currents have been compared to a smoke ring, they propagate downwards and outwards, a circular current that gets wider as it gets deeper, creating secondary radio waves in a broad band including ultra low frequency waves. The Russian Mars 94 mission, canceled during the break up of USSR, would have flown a TDEM device to Mars.

((WN)) Does your TH2OR use TDEM like the Mars 94 mission – and will it use natural ULF sources such as solar wind, diurnal variations in ionosphere heating and lightning?

VS: The physical principle it uses is the same and this has been used for groundwater detection on the Earth for many decades; it’s Faraday’s law of induction in media that are electrically conducting (as slightly saline water is).However, we will focus on creating our own signal as we do not know whether the EM fields needed for such measurements exist on Mars. However, we will also account for the possibility of already existing fields.

Contents

  • 1 Technical details – guide to paper
  • 2 Background information – why oxygen is so significant for multicellular life
  • 3 Sources
  • 4 External links

[edit]

20
Nov

Revive The Mind With Piano Instrumental Music

Submitted by: Tabitha Belles

Quite often people find themselves stressed out in their day to day life. The fast paced lifestyle takes a toll on many people, making them extremely tired and exhausted.

Quite often people find themselves stressed out in their day to day life. The fast paced lifestyle takes a toll on many people, making them extremely tired and exhausted. In such times, many people turn to activities which relieve them from the building stress. Some people turn towards sports, some others towards art. Many people turn, instead, to Relaxing Instrumental Music to help them get rid of the stress. Such form of music relaxes the mind and helps ease the mental tension out. Most of people today lead considerably busy lives and stress management music has turned out to be the most efficient way to eradicate the stress factor.

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Music therapy is becoming increasingly popular throughout the globe, as the most conducive way to unwind your mind. Scientists have researched the effects of Relaxing instrumental music on individual minds. They came out with the conclusion that not only does the music soothe people, but it also helps in increasing the productivity of individuals in the long run. Many people have provided a positive feedback as to the effects of instrumental music in their daily life. As a result, we see a lot of people relying on this technique to help improve their stress levels.

Instrumental music is a musical composition, without any lyrics or singing, included. Relaxing Instrumental Music is known for energizing and activating the spirit within us and for rejuvenating minds. This helps in providing energy required for mental and physical activity. It activates the nerves in the brain inducing better work capacity. Piano instrumental music is beneficial for providing a greater sense of well being and confidence amongst the listeners. This form of music has a powerful impact on the emotions of the listeners.

Relaxation piano music is not only beneficial for stressed out professionals, but also for students and people in other age groups. Many students opt for music to relax and unwind, during their exams and studies. Often, students are found listening to music while commuting to their schools or colleges. This helps calm them before an important examination. Music therapy motivates the students to perform better. It helps them in overcoming problems like academic underachievement, inefficiency in speaking, low self-esteem, lack of self regard and other such issues. Music influences the brain to be more active and helps to improve academic performances for the students.

Listening to Relaxing Instrumental Music for 30 minutes a day helps in attaining good sleep, without using any form of medication. This has proven to be very efficient for people, who suffer from insomnia or lack adequate amount of sleep. It soothes your mind inducing a state of calm. It reduces anxiety and lowers the blood pressure for people and prevents a number of health problems. Besides the physical benefits, listening to Piano Instrumental Music keeps you in a good mood and lively throughout the day. It helps in altering people?s mood making them happy, cheerful to face the problems of the day. Anyone can attempt to relax themselves through this technique.

About the Author: Tabitha Belles is the author of this article on Piano Instrumental Music. Find more information on Stress Management Music hereVisit

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for more information.

Source:

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19
Nov

City Planning Board postpones decision on Buffalo, N.Y. hotel proposal

Buffalo, N.Y. Hotel Proposal Controversy
Recent Developments
  • “120 year-old documents threaten development on site of Buffalo, N.Y. hotel proposal” — Wikinews, November 21, 2006
  • “Proposal for Buffalo, N.Y. hotel reportedly dead: parcels for sale “by owner”” — Wikinews, November 16, 2006
  • “Contract to buy properties on site of Buffalo, N.Y. hotel proposal extended” — Wikinews, October 2, 2006
  • “Court date “as needed” for lawsuit against Buffalo, N.Y. hotel proposal” — Wikinews, August 14, 2006
  • “Preliminary hearing for lawsuit against Buffalo, N.Y. hotel proposal rescheduled” — Wikinews, July 26, 2006
  • “Elmwood Village Hotel proposal in Buffalo, N.Y. withdrawn” — Wikinews, July 13, 2006
  • “Preliminary hearing against Buffalo, N.Y. hotel proposal delayed” — Wikinews, June 2, 2006
Original Story
  • “Hotel development proposal could displace Buffalo, NY business owners” — Wikinews, February 17, 2006

Thursday, March 2, 2006

Buffalo, New York —In an unanimous vote, the City of Buffalo‘s Planning Board voted to table the Elmwood Village hotel Proposal, postponing voting on legislation for up to 30 days.

The Board said its decision was due to the lack of public involvement, saying that there have not been enough meetings.

The Elmwood Village Hotel is a proposed project by Savarino Construction Services Corporation and was designed by Karl Frizlen of The Frizlen Group. The hotel would be placed on Elmwood and Forest Avenues in Buffalo, New York. In order for the hotel to be built, at least five buildings, that include both businesses and residents, must be demolished.

The Forever Elmwood Corp. is a Buffalo-based non-profit organization founded in 1994. Justin Azzarella, the Executive Director for the organization voiced support for the proposal, stating: “I am here today to lend Forever Elmwood’s support the hotel project. Particularly, Forever Elmwood is encouraged by the fact that this building follows the more stringent Elmwood Village Design Guidelines. We have been speaking with Savarino Construction, and they have promised us [Forever Elmwood] that they will engage the community further, including the surrounding Block Clubs and businesses. For that reason, while Forever Elmwood is in support of this project and the type of project that it is, we are asking also that the project be tabled so that the community can be further engaged. Specifically the surrounding Block clubs which include the Granger, Claremont, Asland and The Lincoln Parkway Block Clubs.”

“Because of the excellent work that Karl does and the game plan that they have, I think its an ideal use of this particular location. I think that this particular type of development needs to be encouraged and promoted as opposed to roadblocked,” said a man who owns five properties near the proposal site.

However, Evelyn Bencinich, a resident of Granger Place and whose house would be located directly behind the hotel said, “My property value will be depreciated or non-existent because no one is going to want to live behind a multi-story hotel. We are facing up to a year of noisy and dangerous demolition and construction. Children, pets and even drunk rebellers could wander on site and get hurt. Traffic tie-ups caused by large machinery and garbage bins is inevitable. Where will pedestrians walk? We could experience increased unsanitary flooding in our yards and basements due to the digging and cementing for the underground parking garage. Rats will be displaced into the immediate neighborhoods and be in great abundance. Once we get past the year of nightmare construction, what if you build it and they don’t come? We could ultimately have a seven million dollar rooming house on our corner.”

Patty Morris, co-owner of Don Apparel with Nancy Pollina at 1119 Elmwood also asked that the project be tabled saying, “this has only been public knowledge for less than two weeks and the public never saw the redesign. How can you vote on anything that no one has seen yet? The Board cut off Morris saying, “so specifically you don’t have any problem with it [the design] you just…” Morris then said, “Oh I am totally against this project, but thats besides the point isn’t it.”

The planning board is also concerned that the current design may still be too big.

At one point Board member Susan Curran Hoyt said, “we know you’ve cut down your number of rooms on this project, but we still see it doesn’t seem to fit the description of a ‘botique’ hotel,” and asked Eva Hassett, Vice President of Savarino Construction, “we wonder if you could reduce the rooms further.”

“One thing I didn’t talk about was the price levels of these rooms and that will be important to know. The room rate will be somewhere between US$120 and $160 a night, which is about the same price of the Hampton Inn down town and the smaller you make the hotel, the more expensive the rooms will get. We believe that we’ve made a good compromise in terms of the size of the hotel and perhaps botique means different things to different people,” said Hassett.

The board was also concerned that there is not enough parking asking, “are there alternative plans for valet parking off-site, in the event that you have a full hotel or a large event going on?”

“We are exploring several possibilities with respect to additional parking for valet and parking near-by,” replied Hassett. “We are also exploring the possibility of using the rear of 1105 Elmwood for additional parking, which would give us an additional ten or eleven spaces.”

The new design has a total of 55 parking spaces for 72 rooms, with 39 of them underground and the rest on ground level.

Hassett also said that a “parking study” will be done on the area.

Concerns that the second floor of the hotel will be too close to the property of 605 Forest were also brought up. The board asked how far the hotel would be from the property and Karl Frizlen replied saying it would “be approximately five feet from the property line,” but he also admitted that, “I do not know exactly how close the house next door” will be from the hotel, but did say “I think the house is about four or five feet away from the property line and we [the hotel] sit right on the property line.”

The board is concerned the setback from the property is not enough saying the space between the building and the hotel is “pretty narrow.”

The City’s Common Council also agreed to table the proposal also citing the need for more public engagement and the need for more organizations to respond including the Buffalo Preservation Board and the Office of Historic Preservation.

During that meeting, Hassett also said the proposal to try and get a variance to obtain the properties of 605 and 607 Forest were “now off the agenda.”

The Common Council is expected to meet and hold a public hearing about the project and the rezoning of the properties to be demolished (1119-1121 Elmwood) on Tuesday March 7, 2006 at 2:00 p.m. in Council Chambers at City Hall. At the moment the properties are not zoned for a hotel.

19
Nov

Oil spill hits Australia’s Sunshine coastline

Sunday, March 15, 2009

200,000 litres of oil leaked into waters off the coast of Brisbane from the Pacific Adventurer when their fuel tanks were damaged in rough seas on Wednesday. The figure is about ten times higher than the original estimate of twenty thousand litres of oil. The devastating diesel oil spill has spread along 60 kilometres (37 miles) of the Queensland coast. In addition, 31 containers with 620 tonnes of ammonium nitrate fertiliser flew overboard during the violent storm.

Questions are being asked why the Hong Kong cargo ship was out in seas with nine meter waves caused by Cyclone Hamish, a Category 5 tropical cyclone, as well as why the fertiliser containers were not properly secured. One of the overboard containers ruptured the hull of the Pacific Adventurer, causing between 30 to 100 tonnes of oil to spew from the severely damaged ship.

If the ammonium nitrate mixes with the heavy oil, an explosion could occur. None of the containers have been recovered. Some of these may float, but it is believed that they may have sunk which then may cause algal blooms.

Disaster zones have been declared at Bribie and Moreton Islands, and along the Sunshine coast.

The vessel’s owner, Swire Shipping, reported that a second leak began on Friday, when the ship began listing after docking at Hamilton for repairs. “As full soundings of the vessel’s tanks were being taken at the port to determine how much oil had leaked from the vessel, a small quantity of fuel oil escaped from the Pacific Adventurer,” it stated. The ship was brought upright, and a recovery vessel was used to suck up the oil from the water. The leak produced a 500m-long oil slick down the Brisbane River. Booms were placed around this oil spill so that a skimmer could clean up the second spill.

Swire Shipping could face clean up costs of AU$100,000 a day as well as fines up to AU$1.5million (US$977,000; £703,000) if found guilty of environmental breaches or negligence.

Sunshine Coast beaches are slowly starting to be reopened. The beach of Mooloolaba was still closed following reports of burning sensations from swimmers. 12 beaches remain closed; however, 13 have been reopened.

Over 300 state government and council workers are using buckets, rakes and spades in the clean up effort. Sunshine Coast Mayor Bob Abbott says the majority will be gone by Sunday afternoon. The full environmental impact on wildlife is not yet known. One turtle and seven pelicans have been found covered in oil.

There are concerns that the drinking water of Moreton Island is at risk, as the island uses water from the underground water table near the oil spill site.

“Every bucketload of contaminated sand has to be removed from the island by barge, and each bucketload from a front-end loader weighs about one tonne. It’s just an impossible task,” said Mr Trevor Hassard of the Tangalooma Dolphin Education Centre.

The commercial fishing industry has suffered from the incident. Trawlers won’t resume operations until Sunday evening, and any catches will be tested for human consumption.

19
Nov

Study: Socialized Canadian surgery half the U.S. cost with same results

Wednesday, July 13, 2005

Americans pay twice as much for heart-bypass surgery as the socialized Canadian system, with no difference in outcome, according to today’s issue of the Archives of Internal Medicine in a study funded by American drug company, Pfizer Inc.. The research found that heart bypass surgery costs an average of $10,373 in Canada, compared with $20,673 in the United States. Even though the costs were double in the United States, the rate of complications and death following bypass surgery was similar.

High administrative costs and overtreatment are usually blamed for the higher cost in the profit-driven U.S. system. Americans spent $5,635 per capita on health care in 2003, while only $3,003 was spent by Canadians. Health spending accounts for almost 15 per cent of gross domestic product in the U.S. and just under 10 per cent in Canada; while at the same time, all Canadian residents are full covered. In addition, the average Canadian lives 2 years longer than the average American.

This is one of the first studies directly comparing the costs of surgery in Canada and the United States and it reinforces the view of Dr. Mark Eisenberg, head of cardiovascular epidemiology at Jewish General Hospital in Montreal; “The conventional wisdom is that health care is much more expensive in the U.S. and the conventional wisdom is right.” by finding that Canada’s socialized system is far more cost efficient than the U.S. model.

The cost of medications used to treat bypass patients were as much as 68 percent greater in the U.S. than in Canada and the cost of a surgical bed was 36 percent greater in the U.S.. In Canada, nursing accounted for 44 percent of the treatment costs, compared with 21 percent in the U.S. and patients stayed longer in hospital following surgery in Canada.

18
Nov

2008 Canadian Championship: Toronto FC vs. Montreal Impact

Thursday, May 29, 2008

May 27, 20087:30 PM (EDT)
Toronto FC 1–0 Montreal Impact Saputo Stadium, Montreal, Quebec Attendance: 12,083 Referee: Paul Ward
Brennan 32’Wynne 37’Dichio 41’Smith 41’Valez 72′ (1) 24′ Di Lorenzo 24′ Ribeiro 37′ Pesoli 53′ Pesoli

Toronto FC opened up the Nutrilite Canadian Championship with a 1-0 win against Montreal Impact at Saputo Stadium on Tuesday night.

Reds defender Marco Velez scored the only goal of the game, 1st in tournament history. Velez jumped to head home a cross from Laurent Robert. The goal came in the 72nd minute.

Montreal played for much of the 2nd half with 10 men after defender Stefano Pesoli was sent off for a second yellow card.

Toronto FC striker Danny Dichio has been struggling with a groin strain in recent weeks and was forced to leave the game before half time. He was replaced by Jarrod Smith.

Toronto FC now prepare to face Los Angeles Galaxy in Major League Soccer on Saturday at 3:30 p.m. at BMO Field. Toronto FC play their next Nutrilite Canadian Championship game on July 1st against Vancouver Whitecaps at BMO Field. The Impact’s next game is on Friday against the Portland Timbers at Saputo Stadium.

18
Nov

Pakistan President Musharraf in Kabul for talks

Wednesday, September 6, 2006

The President of Pakistan, Pervez Musharraf is in Kabul for a two-day visit during which he is scheduled to hold talks with his Afghan counterpart, Hamid Karzai. The talks are expected to focus on the continuing militant activity on both sides of the border, with Taliban forces allegedly infiltrating into Afghanistan from across the border in Pakistan.

Economic cooperation and reconstruction in Afghanistan are also on the agenda. President Musharraf is scheduled to meet cabinet ministers and address parliamentarians tomorrow. His delegation includes ministers for foreign and religious affairs and the petroleum sector, and the head of Pakistan’s intelligence agency.

“Frank discussions on the war on terror and expanding bilateral cooperation on regional issues,” read a statement by President Karzai’s office.

Pakistan foreign office spokeswoman Tasnim Aslam told AFP news agency that the Presidents “will exchange views on bilateral relations, economic cooperation, reconstruction activities in Afghanistan and cooperation in the fight against terrorism,”

“Afghanistan is expecting the Islamic Republic of Pakistan to take effective action against terrorism,” Afghan Foreign Ministry spokesman Sultan Ahmad Baheen said.

Pakistan signed a peace agreement with pro-Taliban militants in the North Waziristan region on the eve of the visit. The deal aims to end years of unrest in the border province. Under its terms the Pakistan military forces and militants will stop attacks on each other and the militants have agreed to disarm or expel foreign Al-Qaeda-linked fighters in the area. Pakistan has rejected criticism that the deal will allow pro-Taliban forces to operate freely in the area.

“Pakistan is committed to its policy on war on terror, and Osama caught anywhere in Pakistan would be brought to justice,” army spokesman Maj. Gen. Shaukat Sultan told the Associated Press.

On Wednesday, President Karzai met the NATO General Secretary Jaap de Hoop Scheffer in Kabul and signed an accord aimed at boosting security and development in the country. The NATO chief warned that “some of the terrorists, the spoilers, think they can win in the south,”, adding “They are wrong. Because they cannot win, they will not win, […] That is why we are engaged in combat as well at this very moment.”

The visit comes amidst an upsurge in violence in Afghanistan, with US forces saying that 60 militants were killed by artillery and air-strikes on Tuesday. Some 700 more are believed to be surrounded by soldiers in an operation in Khandahar province.

NATO and Afghan forces launched an operation in Khandahar’s Panjwayi district last weekend, and NATO reports 250 militants as killed in the operations, though a Taliban commander has disputed the figure and there is no independent confirmation of the toll. Hundreds have been killed in continuing fighting between government and international security forces and insurgents in the last four months.

An estimated 1500 families have been displaced by the fighting in Khandahar.

Suspected Taliban militants shot dead two muslim clerics in Lashkar Gah, capital of the Helmand province in the last two days and raided a district headquarters in the town of Arghandad in Zabul province.

Musharraf last visited Afghanistan in 2002. Afghanistan has previously complained that Pakistan is not doing enough to combat Taliban insurgency in its side of the 2,250km (1,400-mile) mountainous border between the two countries. Earlier in the year, allegations by Afghanistan that Taliban and Al-Qaeda leaders were living in Pakistan were dismissed by Musharraf as “nonsense”. In February, Afghanistan issued a list of 150 Taliban suspects it said were living in Pakistan. President Musharraf dismissed the information as “old and outdated”, but President Karzai reiterated that the list was up-to-date.

Some Al-Qaeda and Taliban leaders have been arrested in Pakistan, which has also stationed close to 80,000 troops along the Afghan borders. There is international pressure on Musharraf to deal with Islamist groups in Pakistan who are believed to assist Taliban forces.

“Pakistan has the potential to be the solution to the problems of Afghanistan,” Afghan foreign ministry advisor Ali Muradian said.”We hope that President Musharraf will open a new chapter in relations between Afghanistan and Pakistan.”

Pakistan was closely associated with the Taliban’s rise to power in the 90s one of only three nations that recognised the then Taliban government.

While state run dailies Kabul Times and Hewad expressed hope that two leaders will work together to improve security, The daily Cheragh said that while statements about restoring security can be expected from the meeting, “as experience has shown”, previous pledges by Pakistan “have not been fulfilled”.

Kabul Times also said Afghanistan was grateful for Pakistan’s help to thousands of Afghan refugees.

“The key concern is whether the agreement is going to lead to more insurgents going to and fro across the border or less,” A diplomat told AFP, while another questioned Pakistan’s peace deal with the militants.

18
Nov

US economy adds 215,000 jobs in July; unemployment rate remains steady at 5.3%

Monday, August 10, 2015

Continuing a trend of steady employment growth, the United States economy added 215,000 jobs in July, the Bureau of Labor Statistics said on Friday. The unemployment rate remained unchanged at 5.3%.

“Job growth is quite strong,” stated Jim O’Sullivan, chief economist at High Frequency Economics, a data analysis firm in New York. “This pace of employment growth is clearly strong enough to keep the unemployment rate trending down.”

Average hourly earnings rose 0.2%, marking a rebound after growth stalled in June. Wages have grown by 2.1% over the past year, below the Federal Reserve’s target of 3.5% annual wage growth, and not much more than the underlying rate of inflation.

While sluggish wage growth remains a pocket of weakness in the economic recovery, steady payroll gains averaging 242,000 per month over the past twelve months have led observers to consider a Federal Reserve interest rate hike as increasingly likely, according to The New York Times.

“We view this report as easily clearing the hurdle needed to keep the Fed on track for a September rate hike,” said Rob Martin, an economist at Barclays in New York. “The bar for not moving now is much higher.”

Although the Federal Reserve has not explicitly stated that they plan to raise interest rates in the near future, the US central bank has stated that it would raise rates when it has seen “some further improvement” in the jobs market. The Fed has not increased interest rates since 2006, and during the 2007-2009 recession, it lowered rates to historically low levels.