Oil rig in Gulf of Mexico sinks after explosion; eleven missing

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Friday, April 23, 2010

The oil rig Deepwater Horizon sank yesterday after an explosion Tuesday night that left eleven people missing.

According to an officer from the US Coast Guard, the rig sank sometime in the morning. The rig had caught fire after an explosion of unknown origin occurred two days ago. 115 of the 126 workers on board the time of the explosion have been rescued after evacuating in lifeboats, either by the Coast Guard or from other ships in the area.

The remaining eleven have not been located, although Coast Guard officials have expressed optimism that they are still alive.

The environmental impacts of the explosion and subsequent sinking of the rig are unclear. While up to 13,000 gallons of crude oil per hour has been released from the rig, until now, the effects have been considered minimal, as it had been burned off in the fire. That does have the potential to change, though, according to David Rainey, vice president of the lessor of the rig, BP. The rig, built in 2001 by Hyundai Heavy Industries was owned and operated by Transocean.

The rig was located roughly 50 miles southeast of the coast of Louisiana, and was under lease to BP since 2007. It was completing the construction of a new oil well, and was constructing a layer of cement in the well to reinforce it. This is considered dangerous, as it has the potential to produce an uncontrolled release of case, called a blowout. While the cause of the explosion has yet to be determined, a blowout is considered a possibility.

One survivor of the explosion, who declined to give his name, told the The New York Times that he was laying in bed when the explosion happened. “It caught me by surprise. I’ve been in offshore 25 years, and I’ve never seen anything like that,” he recalled.

Stanley Murray, the father of another survivor named Chad, an electrician, said: “My son had just walked off the drill floor.” However, Murray said that a neighbor did not make it in time, adding that his son told him that the missing eleven workers could not have made it out alive. “The eleven that’s [sic] missing, they won’t find them,” Murray said.

Earth Day 2009 celebrated around the globe

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Wednesday, April 22, 2009

Today is the 39th observance of Earth Day in the northern hemisphere. Earth day is celebrated in Autumn on November 30 in the southern hemisphere. Senator Gaylord Nelson initiated the first Earth Day in April 1970 in the United States, and it is now celebrated by over 1 billion people in over 170 countries worldwide. Earth Day is the biggest environmental event which addresses issues and educates people on environmental awareness on a global scale.

This year, National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) will beam high-definition images to the NASA website and television. By doing so, NASA hopes to increase appreciation of global climate issues. There will also be a Washington exhibit relating to environmental issues viewed from space as well.

At the NASA Marshall Space Flight Center activities will focus on their slogan for Earth Day 2009, “Just One Drop … PRICELESS” and will demonstrate how the Environmental Control Life Support System operates as used on the International Space Staton (ISS).

Amongst the many festivals, WorldFest is a solar powered music celebration held in Los Angeles, California. Buenos Aires will also feature its second Earth Day event featuring a music festival as well.

“We are in a new era of energy innovation,” said Daniel Yergin at a Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) forum. Lithium-ion batteries are providing electric storage solutions for electric cars such as the Chevrolet Volt and the Dodge Circuit EV. Algae fuel is a new form of biofuel, but is still under development.

“Energy Smackdown” was a competitive household activity which compared energy usage between 60 separate households across three cities in or near Boston. The various competitors came up with a variety of innovative methods to cut their carbon footprint, installing solar electric panels, geothermal heat pumps, wind turbines, and using a caulking gun to seal the home from drafts.

“In the average home, 75 percent of the electricity used to power home electronics is consumed while the products are turned off.” is a United States Department of Energy (DOE) estimate.

Miami is installing a smart grid which will use individual household smart meters to allow energy consumers know via a web site, their exact home energy usage. “To me these are prudent and smart investments that will easily pay for themselves. It will show the nation how to address environmental, energy, and economic challenges all at the same time.” said Miami mayor Manny Diaz.

Cal Dooley, CEO of the American Chemistry Council ACC, says the plastic bag industry is prepared to spend US$50 million to revamp their manufacturing facilities and will collect 470 million pounds of recycled plastic every year to make plastic bags of 40% recycled content. The ACC is providing a donation to the Keep America Beautiful environmental organisation, both of whom endorse this new project. The Earth Day Network (EDN) and Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC) would like to see an end to the use of plastic bags, however. “We don’t want people to use disposable bags. We want people to use reusable bags,” says Darby Hoover of the NRDC.

Calgary researchers will begin field surveys to help save the “Northern Leopard Frog (Rana Pipiens). “Northern Leopard Frogs are threatened in Alberta, but endangered in British Columbia,” said Dr. Des Smith, Primary Investigator and Research Scientist with the Calgary Zoo’s Centre for Conservation Research. “It is essential to develop new monitoring techniques for Northern Leopard” said Breana McKnight, Field Team Leader and Endangered Species Researcher.

The traditional Earth day ceremony of planting trees is garnering further attention in Japan as Koichi Nakatani, the nation’s Tree Planting Father travels from Hokkaido to Okinawa.

Students can take part in an Earth Day photo contest sponsored by the Institute for Global Environmental Strategies which will feature images and scientific student research for the environmental change depicted in each photo submitted.

“Earth Day should be about teaching about the environment every day,” said Sean Mille director of education for EDN, “We emphasize taking action for your classroom, school, district or community.” 25,000 schools across America made use of the environmental curriculum developed by the National Civic Education Project, the Green Schools Campaign and the Educator’s Network. Lesson plans are broad and varied and may focus on water pollution, recycling, composting, using chemistry to convert cafeteria left-overs into biodiesel or ethanol fuel or converting go-carts to operate on biodiesel or ethanol fuels in shop class.

Accidental email brings product placement agency under fire

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Sunday, September 21, 2008

An email accidentally sent to Jeff Crouse of the Anti-Advertising Agency recently brought the controversial techniques of the advertising firm Kluger Agency under fire.

“I’m writing because we feel you may be a good company to participate in a brand integration campaign within the actual lyrics of one of the worlds most famous recording artists upcoming song/album,” the email read, offering to place Jeff Crouse‘s fake brand, Double Happiness Jeans, into the songs of popular artists. It was posted on his blog along with a reply that mocked Kluger and brought ridicule and criticism against Adam Kugler and his agency. According to Crouse, Kluger emailed him once again to claim it had been an automated email, and later requested that Crouse remove the post and comments criticizing himself and his agency, threatening a $150,000 lawsuit against Crouse for defamation.

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Kluger Agency is known for advertising brands like Abercrombie & Fitch, Mercedes-Benz, and Nike by inserting the brand names in the songs of popular artists like Mariah Carey, Black Eyed Peas, Fall Out Boy, Pink, Lady GaGa and Ludacris. Kluger, founded in 2006, represents over 170 corporations and focuses on well-known record labels.

Kluger and his PR team have come forward defending the advertising techniques, stating that they do not have songs made just for the products in question and do not infringe on artistic integrity. “Now, we don’t want an artist to write a song specifically to promote a brand, we just feel that if it’s a product that’s admired by the artist and fits his/her image, we now have the capability of leveling out the playing field and making things financially beneficial for all parties involved,” he was quoted saying to Wired.

However, the agency’s website shows video examples of its product placement, with brand images and names often being repeated, pointed at, praised, or being the basis of the song. The website also advertises that “a successful ‘brand-dropping’ campaign will imprint [the] brand name and product into your market’s subconscious”.

Penguin swims ashore in Peru

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Tuesday, May 15, 2007

A Magellanic Penguin, who normally makes its home off the coast of Chile where the Pacific Ocean waters are cold, has taken a small vacation on the coast of Peru, an event that has never happened before in the country.

According to scientists, the penguin was looking for food when it got lost in the ocean currents off Peru’s coast. It is reported that the penguin swam nearly 3,100 miles [5,000 kilometers] off course.

“It seems he was disoriented and got lost in the sea due to the different ocean currents. In his endless search for food, he casually climbed up on our shores, something that has never happened before,” said the head of the National Paracas Reserve in Peru, Wilder Canales.

For the moment, the penguin will stay at the reserve, in its natural habitat until researchers can coordinate for the penguin’s release with officials in Chile. The penguin also required a small injury to be fixed that he received from a fishing net during his travels.

“It has not been kept in a cage or anything like that. It has been kept where it can live naturally,” said David Orosco, a biologist at the reserve.

BP says Gulf oil spill slowed as estimates of oil spilled increase

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Thursday, May 27, 2010

A US Coast Guard official said today that BP’s latest effort to plug the Gulf of Mexico oil spill has been successful in slowing the amount of oil leaking from the well.

The official, Admiral Thad Allen, said that the procedure, known as a “top kill” operation, has been able to block some of the leaking oil at the source, the top of the damaged well. The operation involves pumping material into the well to plug the leak before cement is used to permanently seal the leak. Allen said the operation has “been able to force mud down and not allow any hydrocarbons to come up.”

BP hasn’t confirmed the success of the top kill operation, saying only that the “operation is proceeding as we planned it,” and that there had been no major incidents thus far. Although the possibility of failure is still present, experts say that the longer the procedure continues, the less likely it will be that anything goes wrong.

The procedure began yesterday afternoon, after diagnostics on the damaged equipment on the ocean’s surface indicated that it could withstand the added pressure of the mud being pumped into the well. Although engineers involved with the operation wore concerned that the pressure of the mud might not be able to overcome that of the oil, that has thus far not been the case.

Separately, a group of US scientists announced new estimates of how much oil was flowing from the well, ranging from 12,000 to 25,000 barrels a day, far higher than BP’s original estimate of 5,000 barrels a day, a figure which BP warned was possibly inaccurate.

In a press conference Thursday afternoon, US president Barack Obama also announced new measures in response to the spill, which include:

  • Suspending off-shore test drilling for six months
  • Extending the moratorium on issuing drilling permits for an additional six months
  • Cancelling the sale of leases for off-shore drilling.

In statements, Obama criticized the “scandalously close relationship” between government officials and oil companies in the past, saying that the Mineral Management Service, which is the agency responsible for monitoring off-shore drilling, had been corrupt for years.

US clinic plans first face transplant

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Tuesday, September 20, 2005

US doctors are to interview 12 patients with a view to performing the first ever transplant of a human face.

The Cleveland Clinic will choose between seven women and five men to find the person most suited for the experimental procedure, which is a radical and controversial solution to extreme facial scarring or disfigurement.

Having practiced the procedure on bodies donated for medical research, the Cleveland Clinic team believe they have a 50% chance of success. The procedure will not live up to science-fiction predictions and give the recipient the appearance of the donor; the underlying bone structure is the deciding factor in the final appearance. The new face will end up resembling neither the donor nor recipient.

Surgeons in several other countries have announced being ready to perform this procedure in the past. However, the risk and non life-threatening nature of disfigurement have meant that gaining approval for the groundbreaking surgery has been difficult. Like many other transplant operations, the recipient would be required to take drugs to prevent tissue rejection for the remainder of their life. These drugs can have side effects and carry their own risks involving the patient’s immune system.

Norway wins the Eurovision Song Contest 2009

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Saturday, May 16, 2009

Norway has won the Eurovision Song Contest 2009, held Saturday evening in Moscow, Russia, by the largest margin in the Contest’s history. Alexander Rybak‘s song “Fairytale” received 387 points, 169 points more than the second place entrant, Yohanna, who represented Iceland with the song “Is It True?

Rybak, 23, was the runaway winner from the beginning of the voting, and was the odds-on favorite with British bookies. The other bookie favorites, Turkey, the United Kingdom and Greece, all found places in the Top 10, placing fourth, fifth and seventh, respectively. It was the first Top 10 showing for the United Kingdom in seven years.

Other notable scores included Estonia, who finished in sixth place after qualifying for the final for the first time ever since the pre-qualifying round was introduced five years ago, and France, who placed eighth for their first Top 10 finish since 2002. Spanish singer Soraya Arnelas placed joint twenty-third after a difficult week, which included public outcry against her and her national broadcaster.

Russians hoping to repeat a victory on home turf were disappointed as Anastasiya Prikhodko‘s song “Mamo” placed eleventh. Israel’s song “There Must Be Another Way,” sung by a Jewish-Arab duo, marking the first time an Arab performer represented Israel in any capacity, placed sixteenth. Germany, despite having lots of publicity before the event for signing on burlesque performer Dita von Teese to appear on-stage with their entrants, Alex Swings Oscar Sings!, placed twentieth, the third year in a row Germany placed in the bottom quartile.

For the first time in 29 years, Sir Terry Wogan did not provide a commentary on the UK’s broadcast, Irish comedian Graham Norton replaced Sir Terry, who has complained that “it was no longer a music contest.”

According to Norton, the event was blemished by the Russian policing of it, and he commented on-air that “heavy-handed policing has really marred what has been a fantastic Eurovision.”

This is Norway’s third Eurovision win. They previously won in 1985 and 1995. As winners, Norway and its national broadcaster, the Norwegian Broadcasting Corporation (NRK), will host the event next May.

Here are the results of the finale night.

Draw Country Artist Song Place Points
01 Lithuania Sasha Son Love 23 23
02 Israel Noa and Mira Awad There Must Be Another Way 16 53
03 France Patricia Kaas Et s’il fallait le faire 8 107
04 Sweden Malena Ernman La voix 21 33
05 Croatia Igor Cukrov feat. Andrea Lijepa Tena 18 45
06 Portugal Flor-de-Lis Todas as ruas do amor 15 57
07 Iceland Yohanna Is It True? 2 218
08 Greece Sakis Rouvas This Is Our Night 7 120
09 Armenia Inga and Anush Jan Jan 10 92
10 Russia Anastasiya Prikhodko Mamo 11 91
11 Azerbaijan AySel and Arash Always 3 207
12 Bosnia and Herzegovina Regina Bistra voda 9 106
13 Moldova Nelly Ciobanu Hora din Moldova 14 68
14 Malta Chiara What If We 22 31
15 Estonia Urban Symphony Rändajad 6 129
16 Denmark Brinck Believe Again 13 74
17 Germany Alex Swings Oscar Sings! Miss Kiss Kiss Bang 20 35
18 Turkey Hadise Düm Tek Tek 4 177
19 Albania Kejsi Tola Carry Me in Your Dreams 17 48
20 Norway Alexander Rybak Fairytale 1 387
21 Ukraine Svetlana Loboda Be My Valentine! (Anti-Crisis Girl) 12 76
22 Romania Elena The Balkan Girls 19 40
23 United Kingdom Jade Ewen It’s My Time 5 173
24 Finland Waldo’s People Lose Control 25 22
25 Spain Soraya Arnelas La noche es para mí 23 23

US President Obama considering supplying arms to Libyan rebels

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Thursday, March 31, 2011

United States President Barack Obama revealed Tuesday that he is considering supplying arms to Libyan rebels, among other things. Obama was quoted as saying, “if we [USA] wanted to get weapons into Libya, we probably could.”

During an interview with NBC News, Obama disclosed he is, “not ruling it out. But I’m also not ruling it in. We’re still making an assessment partly about what Gaddafi’s forces are going to be doing.” Obama also informed that he would be willing to negotiate a deal with Gaddafi; however, one clause would involve Gadaffi resigning from the leadership post.

Obama does not believe it is time for formal negotiations yet as he does not think Gaddafi has reached the point where he needs a quick way out.

Also mentioned in the interview was the strategy being used in Libya. “What we’ve also done is put Gaddafi back on his heels — at this point. In addition to maintaining a no-fly zone, protecting civilian populations, we also have political tools, diplomatic tools, sanctions, freezing his assets, all of which continue to tighten the noose.”

Obama reiterated that same view on ABC News saying in an interview, “I think what we’re seeing is that the circle around Gaddafi understands that the noose is tightening, that their days are probably numbered, and they are going to have to think through what their next steps are.”

Meanwhile, in an interview with CBS News, Obama said of the rebels leaders that U.S. officials have met with are “[F]ully vetted, so we have a clear sense of who they are, and so far they’re saying the right things, and most of them are professionals, lawyers, doctors, people who appear to be credible.”

This comes after the NATO supreme commander, Admiral James G. Stavridis said there were “flickers” of al-Qaeda and Hezbollah in Libya. In response, Obama said on CBS, “[T]hat doesn’t mean that all the people, among all the people who opposed Qaddafi, there might not be elements that are unfriendly to the United States and our interests. That’s why I think it’s important for us not to jump in with both feet.”

As for the rebels themselves, Mahmoud Shammam, a spokesman for the rebels told the New York Times, “We ask for political support more than arms, but if we have both, that would be good.”

News briefs: February 12, 2014

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Thursday, February 13, 2014

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The Psychology Of Office Space}

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Submitted by: Shivani Gurtu-Louth

Working practices and office design

Working practices are most commonly decided by management initiatives. Employers establish what is needed to be done and managers direct workers how they can best perform their tasks. Not anymore.

The world of social networking, wireless communication and ubiquitous internet access is allowing employees to work from home, share ideas and better influence their firm’s direction.

This societal change is stimulating research into how office space, design office design and new IT systems affect workers, and the results are surprising.

A report by the Commission for Architecture & the Built Environment (CABE) and the British Council for Offices (BCO) has revealed office interior design affects staff satisfaction, motivation and retention.

Furthermore, it affects productivity, responsiveness to technological change and their knowledge and innovation levels.

Paul Morrell, CABE commissioner and president of the BCO, explained: “Those employers who ignore the evidence of office design as an enabler of staff satisfaction and performance risk the loss of key staff and ultimately business success.”

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The report, Impact of Office Design on Business Performance, found the workplace is responsible for 24 per cent of job satisfaction and this can affect staff performance by five per cent for individuals and 11 per cent for team workers.

The Calgary Herald reported researchers at the city’s university found open spaces help workers feel better. However, it was having co-workers nearby that pushed productivity. Tim Welsh, assistant professor in kinesiology, noted how important it was for people managing office moves to consider design.

“If they’re looking to maximise idea generation, communication and just a general feeling of social well-being, then open-concept offices would be the better way to go.”

The end of ‘cubedom’

Writing from across the US border, Edward Marshall, in the Portland Journal has predicted the end of ‘cubedom’ and the partitioned working space. He claims by giving employees individual boxes to work from, “a premium is put on efficiency rather than relationships” and relationships are then reduced to “transactions”.

This, he claims, hampers teamwork as soon after meeting, members of newly formed groups then disappear to their own semi-closed areas.

Mr Marshall describes the current move to openness as a quiet movement to “tear down the walls that exist between us”.

The solution, in his opinion is “having the physical office design serve the work culture, rather than having the work culture be a reaction to a design done by the facilities department”.

Much of this move to open systems can be attributed to workers bringing their outside experience to the workplace.

Thousands of businesses have banned employees using social networking sites as they are thought to affect productivity. Employment law firm, Peninsula has claimed 69 per cent outlawed using the sites despite 12 per cent of bosses checking their own pages during work, onrec.com has reported.

How an office communicates

Despite this, some companies are adopting similar tools to those found online, hoping to enable their staff to better communicate and feed ideas into the business.

This ‘network society’ is providing employers with real challenges if they adopt more social practices do they also re-jig their office design to suit new, open thinking?

Property company, Savills, thinks so. Its research, What Workers Wantand What it Means for Property, found “understanding the needs of workers has never been more important”.

“Immediate workspace conditions were rated the most important by over 82 per cent of respondents i.e. comfort of work area, lighting and temperature.”

So when considering their corporate relocation strategy and organizing who will be managing office moves, senior managers have much to consider. Help in moving offices,

getting the office moves on time and budget are only three of the factors they will need to get right.

The key to their firm’s long term success could be its next office design, and how it understands the psychological result of new open attitudes to working and collaboration.

About the Author: Shivani Gurtu-Louth – Operations Manager of Devono Property Limited. Devono are the only commercial property agents in London to exclusively represent tenants looking for

office space in London

to rent. Our aim is to secure the best commercial property at the best price. For interviews, quotes, images or comments contact: Shivani Gurtu-Louth Devono Operations Manager Tel(DDI): +44 (0)20 7096 9911 E-mail: sg@devono.com

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