Monday, September 30, 2013

US Government begins first shutdown in 17 years

US begins government shutdown as budget deadline passes

Democrat Jim McGovern told Republicans: "You own this"

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The US government has begun a partial shutdown after the Republican-led House of Representatives refused to approve a budget for next year.
A midnight deadline passed without agreement despite a last-gasp appeal by President Barack Obama.
More than 700,000 US government workers face unpaid leave with no guarantee of back pay once the deadlock is over.
Republicans have insisted on delaying President Obama's health care reforms as a condition for passing the budget.
With less than one hour to go before midnight, the Republican-led House called for a bipartisan committee with the Senate to try to thrash out a deal, but Democrats said it was too late to avoid a shutdown.
The White House's budget office began notifying federal agencies to begin an "orderly shutdown" as midnight approached.
One of the first casualties of the shutdown was the twitter account for the US Capitol.

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Now they have gone over the cliff - not because of a massive miscalculation or even misstep, but a bravado-fuelled game of dare that was almost bound to end this way”
"Due to a lapse in government funding, this account will not be active until further notice," it posted.
Earlier it had warned that the Capitol's visitors' centre would be closed if the shutdown went ahead, and all tours would be suspended.
Shortly after midnight, President Obama tweeted: "They actually did it. A group of Republicans in the House just forced a government shutdown over Obamacare instead of passing a real budget."
The Senate is to meet again at 09:30 (13:30 GMT) on Tuesday, Democratic Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid said.
The BBC's Mark Mardell in Washington says the divide in US politics has grown so bitter that government itself cannot function.
It is the US government's first partial shutdown in 17 years.
Obama address
On Monday afternoon, the Democratic-led Senate voted 54-46 against a bill from House Republicans that would have funded the government only if President Obama's healthcare law - dubbed Obamacare - was delayed for a year.
The US stock market dropped amid fears of political deadlock, although analysts say serious damage to the economy is unlikely unless the shutdown lasts for more than a few days.
Early on Monday evening, President Obama went on national television to criticise Republicans for trying to refight the last election.
A shutdown would have "a very real economic impact on real people, right away," he said, adding it would "throw a wrench" into the US recovery.
President Obama told members of the military: "You and your families deserve better than the dysfunction we're seeing in Congress"
"The idea of putting the American people's hard-earned progress at risk is the height of irresponsibility, and it doesn't have to happen."
After the Senate vote, the chamber's Democratic majority leader blamed Republicans for the imminent halt to all non-essential government operations.
"It will be a Republican government shutdown, pure and simple," said Harry Reid, referring to the Republicans as "bullies".
The House then passed another bill on Monday evening to fund the government - but with a one-year delay to one of the health law's primary elements not due to begin on 1 October, the individual mandate.
"The American people don't want a shutdown and neither do I," House Speaker John Boehner said, but added that the healthcare law was "having a devastating impact... Something has to be done".
The Senate again rejected the Obamacare provisions with less than three hours before the deadline.
Major portions of the healthcare law, which passed in 2010 and has been validated by the US Supreme Court, are due to take effect on Tuesday regardless of whether there is a shutdown.
Under the shutdown, national parks and Washington's Smithsonian museums will close, pension and veterans' benefit cheques will be delayed, and visa and passport applications will go unprocessed.
Programmes deemed essential, such as air traffic control and food inspections, will continue.
Who will be affected
  • State department will be able to operate for limited time
  • Department of defence would continue military operations
  • Department of education would still distribute $22bn (£13.6bn) to public schools, but staffing would be severely hit
  • Department of energy - 12,700 staff would be sent home, 1,113 remain to oversee nuclear arsenal
  • Department of health and human services to send home more than half of staff
  • The Federal Reserve, dept of homeland security, and justice dept would see little or no disruption
  • US Postal Services would continue as normal
  • Smithsonian institutions, museums, zoos and many national parks would be closed
The defence department has advised employees that uniformed members of the military will continue on normal duty, but that large numbers of civilian workers will be told to stay home.
On Monday evening, President Obama signed legislation ensuring that military personnel would be paid.
The US government has not undergone a shutdown since 1995-96, when services were suspended for a record 21 days.
Republicans demanded then-President Bill Clinton agree to their version of a balanced budget.
After weeks of negotiation, they reached a compromise similar to what was discussed prior to the shutdown.
As lawmakers grappled with the latest shutdown, the 17 October deadline for extending the government's borrowing limit looms even larger.
On that date, the US government will reach the limit at which it can borrow money to pay its bills, the so-called debt ceiling.
House Republicans have also demanded a series of policy concessions - including on the president's health law and on financial and environmental regulations - in exchange for raising the debt ceiling.

NASA plans first 3D printer space launch in 2014!

Cygnus cargo ship docking with International Space Station

Nasa plans first 3D printer space launch in 2014

3D printing in the International Space Station could reduce the cost and frequency of resupply missions

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US space agency Nasa is planning to launch a 3D printer into space next year to help astronauts manufacture spare parts and tools in zero gravity.
It will be the first time a 3D printer has been used in space and could help reduce the costs of future missions.
The device will have to withstand lift-off vibrations and operate safely in an enclosed space station environment.
Nasa has chosen technology start-up Made in Space to make the microwave oven-sized printer.
"Imagine an astronaut needing to make a life-or-death repair on the International Space Station," said Aaron Kemmer, the company's chief executive.
"Rather than hoping that the necessary parts and tools are on the station already, what if the parts could be 3D printed when they needed them?"
In 1970, Apollo 13 astronauts had to cobble together a home-made carbon dioxide filter using a plastic bag, a manual cover and gaffer tape.
Made in Space scientists work on the 3D printer prototype Made in Space scientists work on the 3D printer prototype
A 3D printer might have solved the problem in minutes.
"If you want to be adaptable, you have to be able to design and manufacture on the fly, and that's where 3D printing in space comes in,'' said Dave Korsmeyer, director of engineering at Nasa's Ames Research Center.
Nasa is also experimenting with 3D printing small satellites that could be launched from the International Space Station and then transmit data to earth.
Additive manufacturing, as 3D printing is also known, builds up objects layer by layer, commonly using polymer materials.
But laser-melted titanium and nickel-chromium powders are now being used to build much stronger components.
In August, Nasa successfully tested a metal 3D printed rocket component as part of its drive to reduce the costs of space exploration.

Sunday, September 29, 2013

Shocking twist revealed in Bridget Jones's Diary - spoiler alert!

Portrayed as a stereotypical 1990s London 30-something worried about her weight, smoking and alcohol intake, Bridget struck a chord with women of her generation.

Portrayed as a stereotypical 1990s London 30-something worried about her weight, smoking and alcohol intake, Bridget struck a chord with women of her generation.

Spoiler alert for Bridget Jones fans and tissues at the ready - Mark Darcy is dead and the world's most famous singleton has become a widow.
The shock revelation came as extracts of writer Helen Fielding's latest Bridget Jones's Diary, Mad About The Boy, were published in the Sunday Times Magazine.
Fifteen years after the last novel in the saga, it turns out unlucky-in-love Bridget married Darcy and gave him two children - only for Fielding to kill the awkward yet successful barrister off.
Heralding the arrival of 'chick lit', Bridget Jones's Diary started life as a newspaper column in 1995.
Two best-selling novels, with their corresponding Hollywood blockbuster film adaptations featuring Renee Zellweger as Bridget and Colin Firth as Darcy, followed.
Portrayed as a stereotypical 1990s London 30-something worried about her weight, smoking and alcohol intake, Bridget struck a chord with women of her generation.
The original book was eventually voted by readers as one of the 10 novels that defined the 20th century, side by side with Nineteen Eighty-Four by George Orwell or Anne Frank's own diary.
The modern-day heroine's story - loosely based on Jane Austen's Pride and Prejudice - was centred around love interests Darcy and her cad boss Daniel Cleaver.
After hearing from her last in 1999 with Bridget Jones: The Edge of Reason, readers will now find Bridget as a 51-year-old widow obsessed with wrinkles.
Fielding, who has always denied that the books are autobiographical, is herself a 55-year-old single mother-of-two who ended her relationship with television executive Kevin Curran in 2009.
Bridget's new adventures as a fifty-something cougar sees her meet new 30-year-old toy boy boyfriend, Roxter, on Twitter, five years after Darcy's death.
But those who want to know what happened to the love of her life will have to wait until about Mad About The Boy is published on October 10, as his death will appear in a flashback deep into the book and not be revealed in advance.
Shocked fans took to Twitter this morning where many lamented the death of Mr Darcy or declared themselves "heartbroken" by the news.
One fan, named only as Louise, wrote: "NOT happy that Mark Darcy is dead in the new Bridget Jones."
Fiona Ufton added: "Noooo! Not Mark Darcy!" and Laura Nicholson wrote: "Mr Darcy is dead... How traumatic for Bridget Jones fans."
Twitter user Anne Robinson added: "Mark Darcy is dead. Bridget Jones is a widow!! This is all too much for a lazy Sunday morning."
Another social networker, Kirstie, wrote: "omgggg just heard to storyline to the new bridget jones book and am heartbroken."
Others suggested they may now avoid reading the third installment of the famed diary altogether.
Naomi Sharples wrote: "Not sure that I want to read the 3rd Bridget Jones book now!"
And Ashley Elliott added simply: "I really hope this isn't true".
What do you think about this new development in the story of Bridget Jones?

Wednesday, September 25, 2013

Charlotte Church's Rock Makeover bombs - only 75 people at gig

Charlotte Church's attempts to relaunch herself as a rock singer have hit the buffers - her concert in Manchester, England on Monday was attended by less than 100 fans.
Just 75 people turned up for the gig at Manchester's Academy 3 as the former child star showcased her new prog-rock sound, and the lowly turnout has sparked rumours that the Welsh singer's attempts to reinvent herself as a credible artist is crumbling.
Editors at the Manchester Evening News report Church closed the show by telling the audience: "Thanks for coming out tonight. Obviously what I'm doing now is a bit different so thank you for your support".
Church has sold 10 million albums over her career, including five million in the US.

Sunday, September 22, 2013

What does music look like?

Sonic is the latest project by German photographer Martin Klimas. Paint is put on top of a speaker and then music is played at full volume – creating explosions of colour. (Photo: Martin Klimas)

Sunday, September 15, 2013

Disney's 'magical' device can make your fingertips 'sing'

Disney develops 'magical' device to make fingertips sing

Disney develops 'magical' device to make fingertips sing

Disney has demonstrated its new Ishin-Den-Shin audio system

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Disney has developed a device to transmit sound through the human body.
The Ishin-Den-Shin technology uses a standard microphone to record audio and then converts it into an inaudible signal transmitted through the body of the person holding the microphone.
When they touch someone's earlobe, an organic speaker is formed and the sound becomes audible, effectively whispering a message into that person's ear.
The sound can be passed from person to person using any physical contact.
The technology, which was developed at Disney Research in Pittsburgh, received an honorary mention at this week's Ars Electronica Festival in Linz, Austria.

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It would be almost magical and appear to come from nowhere”
Prof Trevor CoxUniversity of Salford
Small vibrations
It records sounds through a device fitted to the microphone that creates a "modulated electrostatic field" around the user's skin.
"When touching another person's ear, this modulated electrostatic field creates a very small vibration of the earlobe," Disney Research says on its website.
"As a result, both the finger and the ear together form a speaker, that makes the signal audible for the person touched.
"The inaudible signal can be transmitted from body to body, using any sort of physical contact."
The recorded sound can be heard only by the specific ear touched.
Finger in EarThe body of the microphone holder transmits a high amplitude, low power inaudible electrical signal
'Almost magical'
The use of bodies to conduct sound has been on the increase.
Bone conduction, a technology that transmits sound through to the inner ear through bones of the skull, is used in Google's Glass, and in some high-spec headphones.
"You can of course transmit signals through the body because it can conduct electricity," said Trevor Cox, professor of acoustic engineering at the University of Salford, "but I don't know quite what they are going to do with this."
He added that the technology would be "almost magical and appear to come from nowhere".
Ishin-Den-Shin is a Japanese mantra that translates as, "What the mind thinks, the heart transmits," and represents unspoken mutual understanding.

Meet the new Miss America - first contestant of Indian heritage to win!

Miss New York Nina Davuluri is crowned as Miss America 2014 by Miss America 2013 Mallory Hagan.Photo / Mel Evans
Miss New York Nina Davuluri is crowned as Miss America 2014 by Miss America 2013 Mallory Hagan.Photo / Mel Evans
Nina Davuluri became the first contestant of Indian heritage and the second consecutive contestant from New York to win the Miss America pageant.
Davuluri, 24, won the title as the nationally televised pageant returned home to Atlantic City.
She succeeds another Miss New York, Mallory Hagan, whose tenure was cut short when the pageant moved back to Atlantic City after a six-year stint in Las Vegas, where winners were chosen in January.
Miss New York, Nina Davuluri, reacts after being named Miss America 2014.Photo / Mel Evans
Miss New York, Nina Davuluri, reacts after being named Miss America 2014.Photo / Mel Evans
Davuluri performed a classical Bollywood fusion dance for her talent competition.
After the traditional frolic in the Atlantic City surf Monday morning, she will head to the scene of a devastating boardwalk fire in the New Jersey communities of Seaside park and Seaside Heights on Monday afternoon.
The pageant had pitted 53 contestants one from each state, plus the District of Columbia, Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands in swimsuit, evening gown, talent and interview competitions.
"This is where we belong," Sam Haskell, CEO of the Miss America Organization.
"This is the home of Miss America, and this is where we're going to stay."
Much attention had been given to Miss Kansas, Theresa Vail, who is believed to be the first Miss America contestant to openly display tattoos. She has the Serenity Prayer on her rib cage and a military insignia on the back of a shoulder. While other contestants wore glamorous costumes and elaborately decorated footwear during Saturday night's "show-us-your-shoes" parade on the Boardwalk, Vail wore camouflage gear and Army boots.
Theresa Vail, Miss Kansas.Photo / AP
Theresa Vail, Miss Kansas.Photo / AP
In a Twitter message Sunday, Vail wrote: "Win or not tonight, I have accomplished what I set out to do. I have empowered women. I have opened eyes."
Vail made it to the Top 10 and won a nationwide voters' choice award propelling her into the semi-finals.
Another noteworthy contestant was Miss Florida, Myrrhanda Jones, who made it into the top 5 while wearing a bejeweled knee brace. She tore ligaments in her knee while rehearsing her baton twirling routine on Thursday. Sunday night, she performed the routine flawlessly.
The pageant started in Atlantic City as a way to extend the summer tourism season for an extra weekend.

Tattooed Maori denied entry to public bath in Hokkaido

Tattooed Maori barred by bath in Hokkaido

With the Olympics headed to Tokyo, government officials are raising concern after a New Zealand woman with a traditional Maori tattoo was denied entry to a bathhouse.

Erana Te Haeata Brewerton, who was attending an academic meeting on indigenous languages, said Friday she was refused entry to the bath in Eniwa, Hokkaido.
Tattoos are often associated with yakuza, and many public institutions bar people who have them as a way to keep gangsters out.
Maori people have facial “ta moko” tattoos because they “tell people who the person is and where they are from,” Brewerton said. “My moko tells other Maori people which tribe I am from.”
“We protested, saying the tattoo was not anything anti-social and that only respected people are allowed to wear them in her culture,” said Kenji Sekine, an Ainu language lecturer.
The episode last Sunday came just hours after Japan was awarded the rights to host the 2020 Olympics and as the government readied a welcome campaign for foreigners.
Chief Cabinet Secretary Yoshihide Suga said he thinks “it is important to respect the cultures of foreign countries.”

Saturday, September 14, 2013

Rion Paige - Judges are "Blown Away" - THE X FACTOR USA 2013

Why has this video of a 13 year old country singer gone viral?

Today on TheBlaze, the biggest story has been the video of Rion Paige’s performance on X-Factor. Paige, who has a rare disease that has left her wrist joints deformed and blind in one eye, blew away the judges with her rendition of a Carrie Underwood song – including the notoriously harsh Simon Cowell.
Watch the video below:
Why is this video going viral? Glenn had a theory on radio this morning.
“America is looking for the stories because they’re looking for somebody to verify what they have always known to be true, that they are not victims, that they are empowered,” Glenn explained.
“As I’m watching TheBlaze and I’m seeing the stories that you are reading now, you have changed. You have changed. You used to be much more interested in stories of what’s going on. You still are. The number three story, the number four story, five story, those are all about the news of the day. But almost every day the top one or two stories is something about the little guy winning,” he said.
“The number one story right now by three times is the 13‑year‑old country singer that brought Simon Cowell to his feet. It is the story of a woman who would ‑‑ some would call handicapped, but she doesn’t ‑‑ she doesn’t appear handicapped to me. She is bright, intelligent, she doesn’t ‑‑ she doesn’t hide it, she doesn’t care. She’s not embarrassed by it, and I don’t think she wants any sympathy. She’s just a person that just, her body operates differently than everybody else and here’s who she is. And it’s an amazing story and amazing video.”

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