August 12, 2005

News for August 12, 2005

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Earthquake Rattles Southern Colorado, New Mexico (August 12, 2005) - A 4.9 magnitude earthquake - according to authorities the largest recorded in the area - shook Southern Colorado and Northern New Mexico on Wednesday afternoon, alarming people but producing few reports of damage. The U.S. Geological Survey National Earthquake Information Center in Golden reported the quake struck around 4:08 p.m. with an epicenter 25 miles west-southwest of Trinidad in New Mexico. Early indications are that it was the largest recorded earthquake in Colorado this year, according to USGS geophysicist Grant Richardson. “We haven’t seen anything that large in Colorado in quite a while,” he said. more...


Fire in Ice (August 12, 2005) - Gas hydrates are a class of materials that Sir Humphrey Davy first described in the early 1800s. They since have been defined as “an ice-like crystalline mineral in which hydrocarbon gases and non-hydrocarbon gases are held within rigid cages of water molecules” (Sassen et al. 2001). Described in this way, gas hydrates may not sound very interesting or important, but they are. If you hold a hydrate nodule in your hand and light it with a match, it will burn like a lantern wick. There is fire in this ice. more...


Gulf of Mexico Mystery (August 12, 2005) - About 20 dead sea turtles have washed ashore in Pinellas County in the past three days, an extremely high number that has doctors and scientists puzzled. One of the two survivors that’s being kept at the Clearwater Marine Aquarium is a large, loggerhead turtle named Siratti Sam. “I still don't know if he’ll make it,” said Dr. Janine Cianciolo. “It’s little movements. Yesterday, he wasn’t moving at all. [He’s] still not in water because he’s not keeping his head above water for long enough periods of time.” It’s not clear why the various kinds of sea turtles are washing ashore. “It may or may not be associated with red tide,” said Cianciolo. “They tend to show symptoms of what’s called a red tide intoxication, but you have to take a lot of samples and they must go through testing to actually determine that.” more...


Mystery Odor in Florida (August 12, 2005) - McCarty and other officials can’t explain the odor. Many Pinellas County residents are wondering what’s causing an awful smell. Some attribute it to red tide, while others say it’s from a gas leak. The situation started Thursday morning when Pinellas Emergency Services received several phone calls from people saying they smelled propane in Largo, Madeira Beach and Seminole. Seminole Fire Rescue responded to the calls. “There is a heavy odor in the area,” said Allison McCarty with Seminole Fire Rescue. “We have responded to all the 911 calls, as we are supposed to. We have an actual gas meter that we can detect the air quality [with]. And there’s no reading of any gas in the area. There’s no propane, although it smells like it. It appears that [it’s] something related to the gulf, something coming in off the gulf.” The Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission said it hasn’t received any odor complaints in the area.


Big Storm Wreaks Devastating Havoc (August 12, 2005) - In a small canyon miles north of Phoenix, a little girl slipped away. It seemed improbable: Moments earlier, Marissa Sabrina Reyes, 7, was sitting with her grandparents, mother and infant sibling at the family’s home north of Carefree. Then the walls of water came: 12- to 15-foot waves that crashed through the small canyon where their house was perched, ripping Marissa from the hands that were grasping to help her. Wednesday, a day after a torrential monsoon storm devastated parts of the Valley, searchers recovered Marissa’s body about 1 1/2 miles from where she was last seen alive. Tuesday’s storm hit particularly hard, killing not only Marissa but also a 65-year-old man who was trapped in his overturned truck when water suddenly raged through a river near an Interstate 17 frontage road. more...


Siberia’s rapid thaw causes alarm (August 12, 2005) - The world’s largest frozen peat bog is melting, which could speed the rate of global warming, New Scientist reports. The huge expanse of western Siberia is thawing for the first time since its formation, 11,000 years ago. The area, which is the size of France and Germany combined, could release billions of tonnes of greenhouse gases into the atmosphere. This could potentially act as a tipping point, causing global warming to snowball, scientists fear. more...


Tisha B’Av: Does the Divine Cry? (August 12, 2005) - On Tisha B’Av, the ninth day of the Hebrew month of Av (which this year begins at nightfall August 13), Jews mourn over the loss of the Holy Temple, Beis HaMikdash in Hebrew, that stood in Jerusalem. On this day, the Babylonians destroyed the First Temple in 586 BCE., and the Romans demolished the Second Temple in 70 C.E.. Each Tisha B’Av, we have a custom to read Eicha, or the Book of Lamentations, a painful account of the prophet Jeremiah’s intense sorrow over the destruction of the First Temple. In addition to reading the Eicha, we abstain from any physical pleasures the entire day. We are not allowed to eat, drink, wash our bodies for enjoyment or wear leather shoes. A little less-known Halacha, or Jewish law, is that we are not allowed to say hello to each other. This law is perhaps the most difficult for me and yet the most meaningful. In Jerusalem in the summertime, when there are many new faces to meet and old friends to greet, not saying hello to people saddens me deeply. If only we felt the simple pain of not saying hello to each other and internalized the meaning of this mournful act, perhaps we would then be more careful to warmly and lovingly greet each other and not hurt each other. more...


Scientists’ Belief in God Varies Starkly by Discipline (August 12, 2005) - About two-thirds of scientists believe in God, according to a new survey that uncovered stark differences based on the type of research they do. The study, along with another one released in June, would appear to debunk the oft-held notion that science is incompatible with religion. Those in the social sciences are more likely to believe in God and attend religious services than researchers in the natural sciences, the study found. The opposite had been expected. Nearly 38 percent of natural scientists -- people in disciplines like physics, chemistry and biology -- said they do not believe in God. Only 31 percent of the social scientists do not believe. In the new study, Rice University sociologist Elaine Howard Ecklund surveyed 1,646 faculty members at elite research universities, asking 36 questions about belief and spiritual practices. “Based on previous research, we thought that social scientists would be less likely to practice religion than natural scientists are, but our data showed just the opposite,” Ecklund said. more...


Israeli hawks circle Iran’s N-plants (August 12, 2005) - Ever since its 1979 Islamic revolution the only fate Iran has had in mind for Israel has been simple: its destruction. Now that Teheran seems to be moving towards acquiring its own nuclear arsenal, its plans for its great enemy threaten to be both fiery and radioactive. Sometimes Iran’s stated policy towards Israel is couched in inflammatory rhetoric, like that on a 40ft banner that used to hang outside the entrance of the foreign ministry in Teheran bearing the message: “Israel Must Burn”. Sometimes the language is tamer, such as the “Down With Israel” chants of students who march after Friday prayers in Teheran week in, week out. But whatever the tone, the message remains the same. The Jewish state has survived wars, internal upheaval, intifadas and bloody entanglements in the internal affairs of its neighbours. But now a major enemy, one committed to its annihilation, appears close to deploying the most destructive force known to Man. more...


Yesha Council: Block Access to Gaza Strip (August 12, 2005) - An estimated 1,000 buses brought in protesters from all over Israel. Earlier police assessments had predicted only 50,000 protesters would come to demonstrate. Leaders of the Yesha Council of settlements presented to the crowd the settlers’ plan - called “Orange Dawn” - to prevent the disengagement from taking place. One leader, Tzvika Bar-Hai, told the protesters to make their way to Israeli towns near the Gaza Strip on Monday by car, by bus, and by foot. We will then leave for the entrances into Gush Katif. “We will not be stopped at checkpoints, we will bypass them from the right and from the left. We will not raise a hand against police and army personnel, we will reach our destination by use of our bodies and with our children. We will not confront anyone, “Bar-Hai told the crowd. “Neither the blows of police or the batons of Border Police will deter us. We will glue ourselves to the ground until the prime minister faces the people and tells them he will hold new elections,” he added. Yesha Council chairman Bentzi Lieberman also called for new Knesset elections at the rally and said the settlers would have accepted a decision to withdraw from Gaza if it had been made democratically. Participants received instructions on how to begin their protest after the Tisha B’Av fast, which ends Sunday night. more...


IDF and PA Step Up Security Coordination for Pullout (August 12, 2005) - The IDF said there has been a sharp drop in Palestinian terrorism in the Gaza Strip, which the army chalks up to a concentrated effort to pressure by the PA, assisted by the Egyptians, on terror groups. On Sunday they will meet again for a final pre-pullout meeting and joint or adjacent operations rooms will be inaugurated to coordinate the deployment of forces. By Monday night the Palestinians are to deploy 7,500 security personnel near the settlements, to prevent Palestinian marches on the communities before they are evacuated, and to thwart rocket, mortar and shooting attacks. more...