‘Tom Cruise: An Unauthorized Biography’ released, $100 million lawsuit in planning stages

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‘Tom Cruise: An Unauthorized Biography’ released, $100 million lawsuit in planning stages

Wednesday, January 16, 2008

Tom Cruise: An Unauthorized Biography, a biography of actor Tom Cruise written by journalist Andrew Morton, was released in the United States yesterday amidst the potential for a US$100 million lawsuit against its publisher, St. Martin’s Press. The book will not be published in Australia, Britain, and New Zealand due to strict libel laws in those countries. Morton had previously written the biography of Diana, Princess of Wales, Diana: Her True Story. The book has reached number nine on Amazon.com‘s list of top sellers.

The book describes Cruise as the No. 2 leader of the Church of Scientology, blames Scientologists for the breakup of Cruise and actress Nicole Kidman, and states that Cruise’s latest mission is to recruit David Beckham and wife Victoria into Scientology. The book also describes how some Scientology followers thought that Cruise’s wife Katie Holmes was impregnated with frozen sperm from L. Ron Hubbard, founder of Scientology, and Morton compares the situation to Rosemary’s Baby “In her more reflective moments, Katie might have felt as if she were in the middle of a real-life version of the horror movie ‘Rosemary’s Baby,’ in which an unsuspecting young woman is impregnated with the devil’s child.”

Insinuations that Mr. Cruise is second-in-command of the church are not only false, they are ludicrous. He is neither 2nd nor 100th. Mr. Cruise is a Scientology parishoner and holds no official or unofficial position in the church hierarchy.

A 15-page statement released by the Church of Scientology denied Morton’s assertions of Cruise’s No. 2 standing within the organization. In the statement the Church of Scientology claims that Morton did not respond to requests for an interview “The Church of Scientology requested to be interviewed or be presented with any allegations so we could respond. Morton refused despite our insistence in offering our cooperation.” The Church of Scientology also specifically responded to the claims regarding Hubbard’s frozen sperm: “Was Katie impregnated by L. Ron Hubbard’s frozen sperm? … As distasteful as it is to have to say it, Mr. Hubbard’s sperm was never frozen.”

According to the AFP, “the Church of Scientology is reportedly considering legal action against US publishers St Martin’s Press.” The Church of Scientology’s general counsel, Eliot Abelson, discussed the potential for litigation in an interview with the Mail on Sunday “We are seriously considering legal action and will wait to see the public reaction.” Cruise’s attorney Bertram Fields expressed thanks for the strict libel laws in Britain “It’s not being published in England. The American publishers criticised the libel laws in Britain because they require an author to tell the truth. Well, thank God for the British libel laws.” New York’s Daily News has reported that the Church of Scientology and lawyers for Cruise are planning a US$100 million lawsuit over the book’s publication. Rogers & Cowan, the public relations agency that represents Cruise, issued a statement which criticized Morton for not interviewing “one person who has known or worked with Tom” in the past twenty-five years.

The Church of Scientology statement also pointed out that the book is not being published in Australia, Britain and New Zealand due to the countries’ strict libel laws. Australia-based companies Pan Macmillan Australia and retailer Dymocks Booksellers decided not to stock copies of the book on their shelves, due to fears of potential defamation actions against them. A spokesperson for Pan Macmillan Australia stated that they had not received threats from Cruise’s representatives or from Scientologists, but that their attorneys had advised them not to sell the book. Don Grover, chief executive for Dymocks Group stated after legal advice their company had decided to “play it safe” – though neither their lawyers or publishers had read the book itself. A representative of MacMillan stated that the book would not be published in New Zealand, but would make no further comment on the matter. A Dymocks New Zealand representative explained that it was possible that the book could be published by their company in New Zealand, but would have to look into it further “The US has different legislation than New Zealand and Australia. There are some issues with the book having legal questions asked and we would need those tidied up before we stock it.”

It’s nonsense for them to say that, because he’s one of the most significant members of the church. I stand by every word in the book. This book is very carefully researched, very carefully vetted.

Morton spent two years doing research for the book, and spoke with individuals who knew Cruise personally, and executives within the Church of Scientology. Morton stated that some of these executives emailed him, confirming the accuracy of material within the book. Morton described the desire for anonymity by some of the sources in the book “Some people, obviously, will not go on the record to talk about Tom Cruise because they’re scared of him.”

In an interview on The Today Show with Meredith Vieira, Morton defended his work and responded to the statement from the Church of Scientology. Morton stated that it was unusual for a church to respond in such a way if Cruise is simply an ordinary member, asking “How many churches support one parishioner — a lowly parishioner — that way?” Morton described the response as an attack “Their policy is always to attack the attacker. Their tactic is to denigrate those who seek to talk about it.” He told Vieria that he had attempted to contact the head of the Church of Scientology, David Miscavige, but “They refused it. I formally asked for it. I was instructed to ask for it by the publisher’s attorneys, and so what they’re saying is nonsense.”

Morton explained his motivation for writing the book “He’s no longer just an actor or producer, but a powerful advocate for a cult that’s out to expand, especially in Europe.” Morton stated that his interest was piqued after Cruise jumped on Oprah’s couch during a May 23, 2005 appearance on The Oprah Winfrey Show, and got into a heated debate with Matt Lauer about his beliefs regarding psychiatry during a June 24, 2005 appearance on The Today Show.

 This story has updates See “Unauthorized” Tom Cruise bio hits number one on Amazon.com, New York Times best sellers list 

UK Wikinews Shorts: July 8, 2013

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UK Wikinews Shorts: July 8, 2013

A compilation of brief news reports for Monday, July 8, 2013.

India: Maharashtra plastic ban comes into force

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India: Maharashtra plastic ban comes into force

Monday, June 25, 2018

On Saturday, the plastic ban in the Indian state of Maharashtra came into force. In an attempt to minimise pollution, the state government has introduced a ban on single-use plastics.

The leader of the Yuya Sena political party, Aaditya Thackeray, said on Twitter, “The ban on single use disposable plastic cups, plastic bags, plastic straws, plastic plates and cutlery, styrofoam cutlery and non woven bags”. He added, “these are global issues now and we have taken a step to combat it”.

Plastic pollution has led to the choking of drains, marine pollution and a risk of animals consuming plastics. This year, India’s motto for World Environment Day — June 5 — was “Beat Plastic Pollution”. People violating the plastic ban are to face a fine of 5,000 Indian Rupees (INR) for the first offence. For the second offence, the fine is INR 10,000 and the third time offence is INR 25,000 and a three-month prison term. Deputy municipal commissioner Nidhi Choudhary said, “To weed out corruption, we plan to give inspectors payment gadgets for electronic receipts of the fines”.

The Maharashtra government has given a 90-day period for manufacturers to dispose of existing polyethylene terephthalate (PET/PETE) plastic spoons and plates, while shopkeepers and citizens in general have six months to dispose of plastics. However, the ban does not prohibit plastic usage for wrapping medicines or milk cartons thicker than 50 microns.

The state government had announced the decision for the plastic ban on March 23. According to NDTV’s report, Maharashtra is the eighteenth Indian state to enforce a state-wide plastic ban. Aaditya Thackeray also said, “I congratulate the citizens for making this into a movement, even before the ban was enforceable, giving up single use disposable plastic.”

California’s violent video game ban law ruled unconstitutional by US Court of Appeals

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California’s violent video game ban law ruled unconstitutional by US Court of Appeals
September 14th, 2018 in Uncategorized | No Comments

Sunday, February 22, 2009

A U.S. Court of Appeals on Friday has declared unconstitutional California Assembly Bills 1792 & 1793, the California “ultraviolent video games law” that sought to ban the sale or rental of violent video games to minors.

Federal judge Consuelo M. Callahan has ruled that the 2005 statewide ban, which has yet to be enforced, violates minors’ rights under the US Constitution’s First and 14th amendment because even the most graphic on-screen mayhem, video game content represents free speech that cannot be censored without proper justification.

The Court has ruled that there’s no convincing evidence it causes psychological damage to young people. The 3-0 judgment has affirmed an earlier ruling by a U.S. District Court, which barred enforcement of the law on the basis that it was “unduly restrictive” and “used overly broad definitions,” and that the state failed to show that the limitations on violent video games would actually protect children.

In 2005, Leland Yee (???), a California State Senator (in District 8 which includes the western half of San Francisco and most of San Mateo County), Speaker pro Tempore of the Assembly (D-San Francisco/Daly City), introduced California Assembly Bills 1792 & 1793 which barred “ultra-violent” video games from minors under the age of eighteen in California and mandated the application of ESRB ratings for video games.

“California Assembly Bills 1792 & 1793” were commonly called the “ultraviolent video games bills” or simply “video game ban” bills. Bill 1792 banned the sales of such video games while Bill 1793 required signs explaining the regulations on said games to be placed where such were sold. Both bills were passed by the Assembly and signed by Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger into law (AB 1179) on October 7, 2005.

Explicitly, these two bills provided that:

  • AB 1792 will place ultra-violent video games into the “matter” portion of the penal code, which criminalizes the sale of said material to a minor.
  • AB 1793 will require retailers to place M-rated games separate from other games intended for children, and will also require retailers to display signage explaining the ESRB rating system.

Yee, a former child psychologist has publicly criticized such games as Grand Theft Auto: San Andreas and Manhunt 2, and opposes the U.S. Army’s Global Gaming League.

On October 17, 2005, before the effectivity of the challenged Act, plaintiffs Video Software Dealers Association, the not-for-profit international trade association dedicated to advancing the interests of the $32 billion home entertainment industry and Entertainment Software Association, a 1994 US trade association of the video game industry have filed lawsuit (D.C. No. CV-05-04188-RMW) against the defendants Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger, CA Attorney General, Edmund G. Brown, Santa Clara County District Attorney George Kennedy, City Attorney for the City of San Jose, Richard Doyle, and County Counsel for the County of Santa Clara, Ann Miller Ravel.

Plaintiffs’ counsel, Jenner & Block‘s Paul M. Smith has filed a declaratory relief to invalidate the newly-enacted California Civil Code sections 1746-1746.5 (the “Act”), on the grounds that it allegedly violated 42 U.S.C. § 1983 and the First and Fourteenth Amendments.

Plaintiffs have submitted that “the Act unconstitutionally curtailed freedom of expression on its face based on content regulation and the labeling requirement, was unconstitutionally vague, and violated equal protection. California’s restrictions could open the door for states to limit minors’ access to other material under the guise of protecting children.”

By December 2005, both bills had been struck down as unconstitutional, by Ronald M. Whyte, District Judge, Presiding in the United States District Court for the Northern District of California in San Jose, thereby preventing either from going into effect on January 1, 2006.

Judge Whyte has granted plaintiffs’ motion for a preliminary injunction in “Video Software Dealers Ass’n v. Schwarzenegger,” 401 F. Supp. 2d 1034 (N.D. Cal. 2005), and cross-motions for summary judgment, in “Video Software Dealers Ass’n v. Schwarzenegger,” No. C-05-04188, slip op. (N.D. Cal. Aug. 6, 2007).

Similar bills were subsequently filed in such states as Illinois, Oklahoma, Minnesota, Michigan and Louisiana have been ruled to be unconstitutional by federal courts on First Amendment grounds, according to Sean Bersell, a spokesman for the Entertainment Merchants Association.

The defendants, in the instant Case No. 07-16620, have timely appealed the judgment. On October 29, 2008, the appealed case was argued and submitted to the Sacramento, California‘s U.S. Court of Appeals, hence, the promulgation of the instant 30 pages decision (No. 07-16620; D.C. No. CV-05-04188-RMW) by Alex Kozinski, Chief Judge, Sidney R. Thomas and Consuelo M. Callahan (who wrote the court’s opinion), United States Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit Judges.

In the ban’s defense, Deputy Attorney General for the State of California, Zackery Morazzini has contended that “if governments restrict the sale of pornography to minors, it should also create a separate category for ultra-violent video games.” Edmund Gerald “Jerry” Brown, Jr., California Attorney General, has also argued that “the Court should analyze the Act’s restrictions under what has been called the ‘variable obscenity’ or ‘obscenity as to minors’ standard first mentioned in Ginsberg, 390 U.S. 629. The Court’s reasoning in Ginsberg that a state could prohibit the sale of sexually-explicit material to minors that it could not ban from distribution to adults should be extended to materials containing violence.”

The “Fallo” or dispositive portion of the judgment in question goes as follows:

We hold that the Act, as a presumptively invalid contentbased restriction on speech, is subject to strict scrutiny and not the “variable obscenity” standard from Ginsberg v. New York, 390 U.S. 629 (1968). Applying strict scrutiny, we hold that the Act violates rights protected by the First Amendment because the State has not demonstrated a compelling interest, has not tailored the restriction to its alleged compelling interest, and there exist less-restrictive means that would further the State’s expressed interests. Additionally, we hold that the Act’s labeling requirement is unconstitutionally compelled speech under the First Amendment because it does not require the disclosure of purely factual information; but compels the carrying of the State’s controversial opinion. Accordingly, we affirm the district court’s grant of summary judgment to Plaintiffs and its denial of the State’s cross-motion. Because we affirm the district court on these grounds, we do not reach two of Plaintiffs’ challenges to the Act: first, that the language of the Act is unconstitutionally vague, and, second, that the Act violates Plaintiffs’ rights under the Equal Protection Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment.—”Video Software Dealers Association; Entertainment Software Association v. Arnold Schwarzenegger and George Kennedy” – No. 07-16620; D.C. No. CV-05-04188-RMW – Alex Kozinski, Chief Judge, Sidney R. Thomas and

Consuelo M. Callahan, United States Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit Circuit Judges.

“We need to help empower parents with the ultimate decision over whether or not their children play in a world of violence and murder,” said the law’s author, Sen. Leland Yee, announcing he wanted Edmund Gerald “Jerry” Brown, Jr., the current Attorney General and a former governor of the State of California, to appeal the decision to the U.S. Supreme Court.

“Letting the industry police itself is like letting kids sign their own report cards and that a self regulating system simply doesn’t work. I’ve always contended that the … law the governor signed was a good one for protecting children from the harm from playing these ultra-violent video games. I’ve always felt it would end up in the Supreme Court,” Sen. Yee explained. “In fact, the high court recently agreed, in Roper v. Simmons (2005), that we need to treat children differently in the eyes of the law due to brain development,” he added.

According to Michael D. Gallagher, president of the Entertainment Software Association, plaintiff, the Court’s ruling has stressed that parents, with assistance from the industry, are the ones who should control what games their children play. “This is a clear signal that in California and across the country, the reckless pursuit of anti-video game legislation like this is an exercise in wasting taxpayer money, government time and state resources,” Gallagher said in a statement.

California’s violent video game law properly seeks to protect children from the harmful effects of excessively violent, interactive video games. While I am deeply disappointed in today’s ruling, we should not stop our efforts to assist parents in keeping these harmful video games out of the hands of children.

Entertainment Software Association members include Disney Interactive Studios, Electronic Arts, Microsoft Corp, THQ Inc, Sony Computer Entertainment America, and Take-Two Interactive Software, the maker of “Grand Theft Auto” games.

Judge Callahan has also reprimanded state lawyers for having failed to show any reasonable alternatives to an outright statewide ban against the ultra-violent video games. “Ratings education, retailer ratings enforcement, and control of game play by parents are the appropriate responses to concerns about video game content,” said Bo Andersen, president and chief executive of the Entertainment Merchants Association.

Andersen continues, “retailers are committed to assisting parents in assuring that children do not purchase games that are not appropriate for their age. Independent surveys show that retailers are doing a very good job in this area, with an 80 percent enforcement rate, and retailers will continue to work to increase enforcement rates even further; the court has correctly noted that the state cannot simply dismiss these efforts.”

California was already forced to pay $282,794 to the ESA for attorneys’ fees, money that would’ve helped with the state’s current budget difficulties. Andersen has urged California government officials not to appeal the case. “The estimated $283,000 in taxpayer money spent by the state on this case is so far an ‘ill-advised, and ultimately doomed, attempt at state-sponsored nannyism.’ A voluntary ratings system already exists to avoid the state-sponsored nannyism of a ban,” he explained.

“The governor believes strongly we have a responsibility to our children and our communities to protect against the effects of video games depicting ultra-violent actions,” said Governor Schwarzenegger spokeswoman Camille Anderson adding the governor was reviewing Friday’s decision.

Deputy Attorney General Zackery Morazzini, the state’s counsel in the appealed case, has stressed that “a law restricting sales of violent games is far more effective than industry self-policing, since the technological controls that the court cited as another alternative can be easily bypassed by any kid with an Internet connection.”

According to Jim Steyer, Founder of Common Sense Media, a non-profit organization of 750,000 regular users dedicated to improving children’s media lives, researches have shown that playing these violent video games are detrimental for kids mental and physical health. “The health threat involved with kids playing such games is equivalent to smoking cigarettes,” Steyer said. “These violent video games are learning tools for our children and clearly result in more aggressive behavior,” said Randall Hagar, California Psychiatric Association’s Director of Government Affairs.

The Federal Trade Commission‘s data reveals that “nearly 70 percent of thirteen to sixteen year olds are able to purchase M-rated (Mature) video games, which are designed for adults; ninety-two percent of children play video or computer games, of which about forty percent are rated M, which are the fastest growing segment of the 10 billion-dollar video game industry; the top selling games reward players for killing police officers, maiming elderly persons, running over pedestrians and committing despicable acts of murder and torture upon women and racial minorities.”

Chip Ganassi makes American motor sports history

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Chip Ganassi makes American motor sports history
September 9th, 2018 in Uncategorized | No Comments

Tuesday, July 27, 2010

NASCAR and Indy team owners Chip Ganassi and Felix Sabates became the first team owners in history to sweep the three top races in American motor sports. In February, NASCAR driver Jamie McMurray took the checkered flag at the Daytona 500 followed by Scottish driver Dario Franchitti’s win in the Indy open wheel series at the Indianapolis 500 in May. Jamie McMurray helped make it a clean sweep when over the weekend he again took the top spot (and his second win of the season) by winning the Brickyard 400, also held at the Indianapolis Motor speedway.

Pole sitter Juan Pablo Montoya led the majority of Sunday’s race, but in a late pit stop, he and his crew chief Brian Pattie conservatively changed four tires while teammate and rival McMurray changed only two. As a result, the Colombian born driver fell back in the field, and eventually crashed out of the race. This marks the second time Montoya has dominated this race only to fall short at the end.

NASCAR Sprint Cup points leader Kevin Harvick finished in second place, followed by Greg Biffle, Clint Bowyer and Tony Stewart.

Ganassi, a former open wheel driver, formed Target Chip Ganassi Racing in 1990. This team entered cars in North America’s two leading open wheel series, CART and the Indy Racing League (IRL). Meanwhile in 1989, Sabates formed SABCO Racing to compete in the NASCAR Cup, the leading stock car class in the United States. Ganassi’s operation merged with SABCO in 2001, forming an organization with teams that compete not only in NASCAR and IRL, but also in sports car endurance racing. Ganassi drivers won seven open wheel championships between 1996 and 2009. Missouri NASCAR driver Jamie McMurray re-joined Ganassi’s team for the 2010 season, after a five year spell with Roush-Fenway Racing.

Also in North American motorsport on Sunday, Spanish rider Jorge Lorenzo took the checkered flag in the United States Grand Prix at California’s Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca. Lorenzo’s victory on a Fiat Yamaha bike, over Casey Stoner (second) and Valentino Rossi (third), strengthened his points lead in the MotoGP championship.

The next race in the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series will be held on Sunday at Pocono Raceway in Long Pond, Pennsylvania, where Denny Hamlin is the defending race champion.

First international flight lands at Delhi airport’s new Terminal 3

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First international flight lands at Delhi airport’s new Terminal 3
September 9th, 2018 in Uncategorized | No Comments

Friday, July 16, 2010

File:T3 concourse day.jpg

An Air India Boeing 777 from New York’s John F. Kennedy International Airport was the first international flight to land at Delhi’s new Terminal 3 at Indira Gandhi International Airport.

However, this was only one of nine “terminal process proving flights” that landed or departed from the brand-new steel and glass T3 on either Wednesday or Thursday. Seven of the proving flights departed or arrived on Wednesday and two on Thursday. The new terminal was inaugurated by Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh on July 3. Terminal 3 is designed to handle large international aircraft like the Airbus A380, which landed as one of the terminal process proving flights on Thursday.

Though Delhi International Airport Limited (DIAL), which operates the airport, had planned earlier to commission the new terminal for international operations on Wednesday, the commissioning was pushed to July 28 due to unfinished construction.

However, the proving flights proceeded as planned, and DIAL, with 450 employees from 13 airlines, conducted a full trial of all operations on Tuesday.

In addition to the Air India arrival from New York, United States, the first departure in the new Terminal was a Jet Airways international flight to Kathmandu, Nepal. The first domestic flight that departed from T3 was an Air India flight from Jaipur, Rajasthan.

On Tuesday, before the Air India 777 was slated to arrive, an official from that airline said that “All the 220 passengers and 18 crew members of the New York flight (AI-102) would clear their immigrations at the new terminal. It is going to be a real test for all the agencies at T3.” DIAL also stated that “passengers traveling by these nine flights (July 14 and July 15) are being informed individually by their respective airlines. Flight information is also being displayed on standees at terminal 2. The information about flights arriving and departing from Terminal 3 will also be displayed prominently at various points on the eight lane road from Hotel Radisson to Terminal 3.”

The terminal process proving flights aimed to make sure that everything, including airlines, air traffic control, ground handling agencies, duty free shops, flight caterers, aviation oil companies, customs, and immigration, are all in working order.

Make Yourself Comfortable With Carhartt Work Shirts}

September 9th, 2018 in Shirts | No Comments

Click Here To Find Out More About:

Submitted by: Mike Girolami

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US stock markets reach 12-year lows

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US stock markets reach 12-year lows
September 9th, 2018 in Uncategorized | No Comments

Thursday, March 5, 2009

US stock markets dropped to twelve-year lows on Thursday, amidst falling confidence in the financial sector and worries over whether the US automobile manufacturer General Motors will be able to keep operating.

The Dow Jones Industrial Average dropped by 4.08%, or 280.52 points, at the closing bell, reaching a level of 6595.32, a new 12-year low. The Nasdaq Composite lost 54.15 points, or 4%, to 1299.59, while the Standard & Poor’s 500 plunged by 30.27 points, or 4.25%, closing at 682.60.

Every stock in the Dow Jones, other than Wal-Mart, either lost ground or remained even, and all stocks in the S&P 500 index lost ground.

General Motors’ shares lost 15.5% after the auto firm announced that its auditors had “substantial doubt” over whether it would be able to keep operating.

Shares of financial companies were lower by nine percent, with Bank of America losing 11.7% and Citigroup falling by 9.7%.

“What’s most worrisome is that we haven’t hit the crescendo yet,” said Bill Groeneveld, the head trader for vFinance Investments. “Asset-management divisions are getting calls to just liquidate everything, and we haven’t seen the big players come back in at all.”

“This is one of the worst bear markets in the last 100 years; it started out with the credit crisis and the subprime [loans], but it is like a forest fire that has raced across the clearing and ignited other parts: Autos, auto parts, the insurance companies have been hit very hard. The credit crisis is causing an unraveling of industry after industry because the banks don’t lend,” said David Dreman, the chief investment officer of Dreman Value Management.

European markets were also lower today, with the London’s FTSE index losing 3.2% and the DAX index of Germany falling by five percent.

Google launches Google Spreadsheets

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Google launches Google Spreadsheets
September 9th, 2018 in Uncategorized | No Comments

Tuesday, June 6, 2006

Google has launched an online spreadsheet site, in a private beta.

The site will allow spreadsheets to be shared between up to 10 users, which is aimed to be useful to teams and small businesses. “Many people already organise information into spreadsheets. Where they are struggling is to share it” said the product manager, Jonathan Rochelle.

Google recently bought the online word-processor Writely, launched a calendar product, as well as a desktop search tool. Many see this as them straying into Microsoft‘s markets.

Google Spreadsheets uses very advanced AJAX (Asynchronous Javascript And Xml) and Client Side Scripting to mimic very effectively it’s desktop counterparts’ functions.

It is surprisingly fast, has very good formatting and advanced formula support, but best of all it has complete support for Microsoft Excel .xls files, and very good collaboration: just enter the e-mail address and you can share easily.

Research articles predict next earthquake

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Research articles predict next earthquake
September 9th, 2018 in Uncategorized | No Comments

Friday, November 11, 2005

Two research articles published this week illustrate continuing efforts to predict earthquakes. The first article builds upon the idea that analysis of the first seismic waves from an earthquake can provide a way to generate a several second warning that an earthquake will hit. However, for such warnings to be useful, the early seismic waves should also allow prediction of the strength of the earthquake. An article published in this week’s edition of Nature concludes that scientists might be able to distinguish small earthquakes from big ones by using the very first second of information contained in seismic waves.

Researchers from the University of California, Berkeley, say the measurements of seismic waves soon after a trembler can signal whether it will be a minor or monster trembler. “Basically, a high-pitched squeal means that you’ll get a smaller quake. A low-groan means something bigger,” says the University of California’s Richard Allen.

In the study, Allen and colleagues analyzed records of 71 major Pacific Rim quakes in the past decades including 24 events that were greater than a magnitude 6. Using a mathematical model, they were able to estimate a quake’s size to within one magnitude unit from as little as four seconds of data of the frequency of the energy in the primary wave. These low-energy waves typically cause a jolt, signaling the occurrence of a quake.

According to a traditional theory, called the cascade model, we cannot know anything about an earthquake’s ultimate magnitude until it is finished. This is because spread along a fault line depends on the stress in each individual part of the fault. Given that this information is not available to the initial rupture point, it should be impossible to tell from that first slip how far it will go or how long it will last.

The study by Berkeley’s Allen and Erik L. Olson of the University of Wisconsin-Madison builds upon earlier work by Yutaka Nakamura in Japan. Nakamura’s research indicated that the frequency of the P wave can allow prediction of which earthquakes will have a magnitude greater than 6 and distinguish them from small tremors that do not require warnings. Some fire stations use P wave detectors to automatically open doors in an effort to make sure that emergency vehicles are not trapped inside by doors that can be jammed shut by earthquake damage.

The goal of this research is to make the best possible use of the information from the earliest seismic waves emitted by an earthquake as part of an alert system to give seconds to tens of seconds of advance notice of an impending quake — enough time for schoolchildren to take cover, power generators to trip off and valves to shut on pipelines. A major limitation of this work is that the greatest earthquake damage is near the epicenter where there is little time difference between the early P waves and the strongest damaging earthquake waves.

The second research paper, published this week in the scientific magazine Physical Review Letters, builds upon earlier research into patterns of earthquake activity at specific faults. The new research by scientists from Israel and Germany led by Prof. Shlomo Havlin, of Bar-Ilan University’s Department of Physics in Israel, concerns prediction of the timing between earthquakes.

Prof. Havlin’s research, in collaboration with Prof. Armin Bunde, of the Justus-Liebig University in Giessen, Germany, and Bar-Ilan University graduate student Valerie Livina, involved a large number of past earthquakes at many different faults. The data used in this study were for earthquakes ranging from magnitude 2 to magnitude 5.5 on the Richter Scale. Data were from several areas of the world including California, Japan, and New Zealand. The new results are consistent with previous studies which have indicated that some faults have more frequent small earthquakes while other faults have less frequent and larger earthquakes.