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Sunday, May 31, 2009

Back in the U.K.: Beavers make controversial return


"Beavers are back in the Scottish wilderness after an absence of nearly 500 years.
Three families of 11 animals were transported from Norway and released in Argyll, Scotland, on Friday as part of a controversial reintroduction program.
Some conservationists are worried their dams might affect native fish in Scotland, where the angling industry generates about $180 million Cdn in annual revenue. The concern is that the dams will alter fish habitat and block access to spawning grounds.
The Scottish Wildlife Trust and the Royal Zoological Society of Scotland were given the go-ahead for the controversial trial reintroduction about a year ago.
According to the Daily Mail, the last recorded sighting of beavers living in the wilds of Britain was in 1526.
They were hunted to extinction for their pelts and for the secretions from their glands that Europeans believed helped cure headaches, fevers and hysteria.
Project manager Simon Jones told the BBC the release "went extremely well.
"They were placed into purpose-built artificial lodges at carefully selected points around the trial site.They will now gradually gnaw their way out of the lodge at a pace that is comfortable for them before exploring their new surroundings," he said.
The beavers will be closely monitored for their impact on the ecosystem, said Jones.
"This will help the Scottish government in making any final decisions on the future of beavers in Knapdale Forest or elsewhere in Scotland," he told the news service.
Roseanna Cunningham, Scotland's environment minister, paid a visit to the release site on Friday morning, calling the project "a historic day for conservation."

source of news article:http://www.cbc.ca/technology/story/2009/05/29/beavers-scotland-reintroduce.html
source of image:http://www.telegraph.co.uk/earth/earthnews/3491699/Beavers-for-re-introduction-project-arrive-in-Scotland.html

According to the website: http://www.scotsbeavers.org/, "Beavers were hunted to extinction in Scotland and throughout many parts of Europe, because they were so valuable! Their soft, thick and waterproof fur was highly prized and very fashionable and the fur industry spawned by the beaver was huge.
It is thought that the development of Inverness in the Middle Ages was attributable to its status as a transport and market centre for beaver pelts, whilst much of the exploration of North America was achieved by fur trappers, many of them Scotsmen, from the Hudson Bay Company, scouring the continent for beavers. Beavers were also highly sought after for a secretion called castoreum which was produced in a gland below the tail. This substance was valued for its alleged medicinal properties and more recent analysis of castoreum revealed that it contains salicylic acid, which is derived from the beaver's diet of willow bark. Salicylic acid is an active ingredient of aspirin.
In some areas, beaver meat was an important part of the diet and Roman Catholics were permitted to eat meat from the beaver's tail and paws as a substitute for fish on a Friday. All these pressures led to the beaver's demise in Britain around the sixteenth century. They were not exterminated because they were a pest or were dangerous!"

Soyuz carrying Canadian astronaut docks with space station







"Canadian astronaut Robert Thirsk's six-month stay at the International Space Station began Friday morning, after the Russian spaceship carrying him and two other astronauts from Earth docked at the orbiting platform.
The Soyuz docked on schedule with the station at about 8:34 a.m. ET. The Russian spacecraft had launched from the Baikonur Cosmodrome in Kazakhstan at about 4:34 p.m. local time on Wednesday.
Thirsk, Russian cosmonaut Roman Romanenko and Belgium's Frank De Winne will join the station's current crew, doubling the station's complement to six crew members for the first time in its history.
Russian Gennady Padalka, U.S. astronaut Michael Barratt and Japan's Koichi Wakata are already at the space station. In addition to performing scientific experiments on the space station, the 55-year-old Thirsk will serve as the crew's medical officer and robotics specialist.
It is the second mission in space for the British Columbian, who was born in New Westminster. He made his first 16-day space flight aboard the U.S. space shuttle Columbia in 1996.
Thirsk is the first Canadian to go to space aboard a Russian spacecraft. Canadian astronauts usually blast through the atmosphere via American space shuttles.
But it's a mode of transportation likely to be more common in the future, as the United States is planning to retire the space shuttle fleet in 2010.
Also on Friday, the Russian Space Agency said it has signed a $306 million US deal with NASA to ferry American astronauts to the space station in 2012, covering four planned launches aboard the three-person Soyuz.
Canadian astronaut Julie Payette is scheduled to join Thirsk aboard the station in June, as she is part of a seven-person crew set to blast off from Earth on the space shuttle Endeavour on June 13.
It will be the first time two Canadians will be in space at the same time. Payette and the Endeavour team, however, will only be staying a short time, as their mission is scheduled to last just 16 days."



Good luck Robert,I hope you enjoy your time up there!! If astronauts from different countries can work together to further scientific research about our planet and the galaxy why can't politicians of this world act together for once to solve the problems which exist in our World?

Source of images:astronauts outside the Spacestation:http://www.virginmedia.com/digital/galleries/nasa.php?ssid=9

Post-Exercise 'Glow' May Last 12 Hours




"When it comes to boosting your mood, exercise is the gift that keeps on giving and giving, new research suggests.
In fact, the feel-good afterglow a workout brings may last far beyond the hour or so that's been previously assumed.
"Moderate intensity aerobic exercise improves mood immediately and those improvements can last up to 12 hours," concluded study lead researcher Dr. Jeremy Sibold, assistant professor of rehabilitation and movement science at the University of Vermont, Burlington.
The findings were presented this week at the annual meeting of the American College of Sports Medicine in Seattle.
Other studies have found a mood-boosting effect to exercise. But the other research hadn't tracked the effect for as long as Sibold and his team did. "This is one of the few studies that actually looked at a much longer window, 24 hours," he said. "The question I was interested in was, 'How long does that feel-good effect, that improvement, last?'"
To find out, Sibold and co-author Kathy Berg randomly assigned 48 healthy men and women to a control group that did not exercise, or to a group that did exercise. The participants ranged from 18 to 25 years old. At the start of the study, all participants completed a standard survey of mood. The exercisers then rode on a stationary bike for 20 minutes at moderate intensity.
All participants then repeated the mood survey at one, two, four, eight, 12 and 24 hours later.
The mood of the exercisers was better than that of the sedentary group immediately after the workout and for up to 12 hours later, Sibold found.
"This goes a long way to show that even moderate aerobic exercise has the potential to mitigate the daily stress that results in your mood being disturbed," he said.
Men and women seemed to benefit equally, and the fitness level of the participant didn't seem to matter, the researchers noted.
Experts believe that exercise's mood-boosting effects are partly due to a rise in levels of mood-enhancing neurotransmitters, such as endorphins, in the brain.
The findings point yet again to exercise as a cheap, easily accessible tool against blue moods and even depression, Sibold said. "I think that's really important for the general public to know - depression is so widespread."
The "dose" of exercise needed to lift mood is not a lot, Sibold said. "We aren't talking about a Lance Armstrong workout." A few minutes a day could pay off, he said.
He urged people to pick an activity they enjoy. Gardening, walking, square dancing or other activities all count, Sibold said.
The American College of Sports Medicine guidelines support the 2008 Physical Activity Guidelines for Americans, which recommend that adults get at least 150 minutes of moderate-intensity physical activity each week. That can be done in five days a week in 30-minute sessions, experts suggest.
The new findings, according to Sibold, should improve the ability of health care professionals to prescribe exercise as a treatment for mood enhancement in healthy people.
The study results came as no surprise to Jennifer Mears, an exercise physiologist and corporate fitness specialist in Colorado Springs, Colo. "There are a lot of other research studies and information out there that would back that up," she said of Sibold's findings.
What is different and noteworthy about his study, she agreed, is the longer follow-up time."


GM Ivanchuk wins Cez Trophy 2009


Ukrainian GM Vassily Ivanchuk has won the 2009 Cez Trophy Rapid chess match against GM David Navara of the Czech Republic by a score of 5.5-2.5. Ivanchuk won four of the games, lost won and drew the remaining three games with GM David Navara. Congratulations GM Ivanchuk! You can play through all the games of the match by going to this link:



IBM computer to take on 'Jeopardy'

WASHINGTON - "IBM, having already come up with a computer that can beat the world's best chess players, is gearing up for another challenge.
The US computer giant on Monday announced it was developing a computer to compete with humans on the popular US television quiz show Jeopardy!
IBM said its scientists have been working for nearly two years on an advanced computing system codenamed "Watson" -- after IBM founder Thomas Watson, not Sherlock Holmes's sidekick.
It said the scientists believe "Watson" will be able to eventually compete on Jeopardy!, a TV show in which contestants provide question-formatted answers to clues on history, literature, politics, film, pop culture and science.
IBM said Jeopardy! would pose a stiff challenge for a computing system because the clues given to the human contestants involve "analyzing subtle meaning, irony, riddles and other complexities."
"The essence of making decisions is recognizing patterns in vast amounts of data, sorting through choices and options, and responding quickly and accurately," IBM chairman Samuel Palmisano said.
"Watson will be designed to do all of this in a matter of seconds, which will enable it to compete against humans, who have the ability to know what they know in less than a second," IBM said.
An IBM computer named Deep Blue defeated then-world chess champion Garry Kasparov in a celebrated man-versus-machine match in 1997.
Developing a computer to compete at Jeopardy! however may be an even more difficult proposition than defeating the world's top grandmasters.
"The challenge is to build a system that, unlike systems before it, can rival the human mind's ability to determine precise answers to natural language questions and to compute accurate confidences in the answers," said David Ferrucci, leader of IBM's Watson project team.
"This confidence processing ability is key. It greatly distinguishes the IBM approach from conventional search, and is critical to implementing useful business applications of question answering (QA)."

To read the rest of this story go to:http://www.canada.com/Entertainment/computer+take+Jeopardy/1541966/story.html

CORAL DANGER:Environmental group launches expedition to assess danger to coral from trawler gear


Delicate forests of deep-sea corals under Hecate Strait and the Queen Charlotte Basin are virtually unprotected from destructive fishing methods such as bottom-trawling for groundfish, says the executive director of a marine environmental group.
Each year in British Columbia waters, about 2,000 kilograms of coral is hauled to the surface in trawl nets, according to Department of Fisheries and Oceans statistics.
"That is amazing when you think the coral is incredibly light and fragile — it's not huge boulders," said Jennifer Lash of Living Oceans Society.


Lash, with a team of international scientists, will embark on an expedition in June that she hopes will provide enough information to convince the government to step in and protect the coral forests. Until now, there has been little research into varieties and locations of the tree-like creatures, Lash said.
In 2004, after research by Living Oceans, activists demanded the deep-sea habitat be protected from bottom trawling and DFO responded with a scientific review that concluded the habitat should be protected.
Boosting calls for protection was a 2004 statement signed by 1,100 international marine scientists calling on governments and the United Nations to stop the destruction of deep-sea corals.
"Bottom trawling is like fishing with bulldozers," U.S coral expert Elliott Norse said at the time.
But action from DFO has been slow, largely because of lack of information about deep-sea corals, Lash said.

To read the remainder of this news story go to: http://www.canada.com/Technology/CORAL+DANGER/1648266/story.html
source of image:http://www.savethehighseas.org/display.cfm?ID=90

Burning Crops darken Arctic Sky,speed polar melt

"The collapse of the Soviet Union and the loosening of state control over crop burning in Russia has had an unexpected impact in the Canadian North: the unleashing of massive amounts of soot that is settling on Arctic sea ice and speeding the ongoing polar meltdown.
How the end of the Cold War has fuelled Arctic warming is detailed in a new report by U.S. scientists that points a finger at Saskatchewan farmers for sending some "black carbon" into the Arctic environment but largely blames Russia for the rising number of smoke plumes drifting north and creating a "critical" challenge for Canada and other polar nations.
The findings were released ahead of an international meeting next week at the University of New Hampshire aimed at curbing the impact of agricultural burning — a problem scientists say has emerged as a major factor in Arctic warming and thinning sea ice."

"These fires weren't part of our standard predictions, they weren't in our models," said Daniel Jacob, a Harvard University climate researcher who participated in a multi-agency U.S. government experiment last spring off the northern coast of Alaska.


Teams of scientists led by NASA, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration and the U.S. Department of Energy gathered data on long-range polar pollutants and used NASA's DC-8 "flying laboratory" to sample smoke plumes drifting over Alaska and parts of Arctic Canada.
"What they found surprised them," says the report, Agricultural Fires and Arctic Climate Change, released Wednesday by the Boston-based Clean Air Task Force.
"Over the course of the month, the airplanes encountered up to 50 smoke plumes originating from fires in Eurasia, more than 4,800 kilometres away. Analysis of the plumes, combined with satellite images, revealed the smoke came from agricultural fires in Northern Kazakhstan-Southern Russia and from forest fires in Southern Siberia."
Forest fires have long been identified as a major source of Arctic pollutants, but the study concludes that agricultural fires — typically used to clear stubble from harvested crops and prepare land for the next growing season — are sending more and more smoke northward, warming the Arctic troposphere and then depositing soot on polar snow and sea ice.

The darkened surface reduces the reflective features of the snow and ice and absorbs more heat from the sun, compounding the overall effects of rising temperatures caused by global climate change, the report states.
The study attributes much of the rise in farm-related Arctic pollution to changing land-use practices in post-Soviet Russia and Kazakhstan.


The collapse of the USSR in 1991 brought an end to the socialist command economy that had dominated agricultural production for decades," the report states. "In the absence of state subsidies, the large farming co-operatives that had supported Soviet industrial society were abandoned, leading to the re-growth of vegetation across much of the countryside. As smaller private enterprises emerged, they faced a changed landscape; cultivated fields now existed alongside wild grasslands and dry brush, creating ideal conditions for fire."
The report says the largely unregulated use of agricultural fires in Russia is now responsible for about 80 per cent of the crop-related black carbon reaching the Arctic.
Canada is contributing just over one per cent of the total, the report notes, with most of those agricultural emissions coming from Saskatchewan.


Another U.S. study announced on Wednesday also had bad news for the Arctic.
A University of Florida-led research paper to be published in the journal Nature predicted that thawing Arctic permafrost will pump one billion tonnes of carbon dioxide annually into the atmosphere by the end of this century.
Although greater plant growth in the warming Arctic will absorb more CO2 and initially balance the effects of melting permafrost, the research shows the increased vegetation won't fully compensate for carbon unlocked from the soil.
"At first, with the plants offsetting the carbon dioxide, it will appear that everything is fine, but actually this conceals the initial destabilization of permafrost carbon," said study co-author Ted Schurr in a statement released by the university. "But it doesn't last, because there is so much carbon in the permafrost that eventually the plants can't keep up."
A third study — on projected sea-level rises caused by melting Arctic ice — identified coastal cities in the northeast corner of North America, including Halifax, New York and Boston, as the places most likely to face adverse effects.
The study led by the National Center for Atmospheric Research at the University of Colorado incorporated forecasted effects from melting of the Greenland Ice Sheet with earlier predictions about overall increases in ocean levels caused by global warming.
The study, to be published this week in the journal Geophysical Research Letters, found that continued moderate melting of Greenland's ice cap would shift Atlantic Ocean circulation by the end this century and cause sea levels in northeastern Canada and the U.S. to increase between 30 and 51 centimetres more than in other coastal zones.
"If the Greenland melt continues to accelerate, we could see significant impacts this century on the northeast U.S. coast from the resulting sea level rise," said NCAR scientist Aixue Hu. "Major northeastern cities are directly in the path of the greatest rise."

Source: http://www.canada.com/Technology/Burning+crops+darken+Arctic+speed+polar+melt/1635692/story.html

Saturday, May 30, 2009

Chess Championships of China:Round 5 results and standings

Here are the results from round 5 of the Chinese Women's Chess Championship:

Bo.No. Name Result Name
1 Wang Xiaohui 0 - 1 WFM Ding Yixin
1 Tan Zhongyi 1 - 0 IMWang Yu
3 WIM Xu Tong 1 - 0 Wang Jue
4 WGM Shen Yang ½ - ½ Ju Wenjun
5 GM Zhao Xue 1 - 0 WGMZhang Jilin
6 WIM Zhang Xiaowen 1 - 0 WGMGu Xiaobing

Untitled Tan Zhongyi continues to surprise chess experts by maintaining her lead in the 2009 Chinese Women's Chess Championship. The fourth-highest ranked player entering the event, Zhongyi has defeated two WGM's and an IM so far in the tournament. Can she continue to play like this?

As a consequence of these results here are the standings in the Chinese Women's Chess Championship after 5 rounds of play:

1st Tan Zhongyi 2436 4. 5 points
2nd-3rd GM Zhao Xue 2531 and WGM Shen Yang 2420 both have 4 points.
4th WFM Ding Yixin 2281 3.5 points
5th-7th IM Wang Yu A 2364, Wang Xiaohui, 2265 and Ju Wenjun 2454 all have 2.5 points
8th WIM Zhang Xiaowen 2340 2 points,
9th-1oth WGM Gu XiaobingCHN 2336 and WIM Xu Tong 2231 both have 1.5 points
11th WGM Zhang Jilin CHN 2335 1 point
12th Wang Jue CHN 2162 1/2 point.

Here is some information I found on the internet concerning Tan Zhongyi. She was born on November 5th,1991 (which means she is 17 years old). Tan won the World Youth U10 Girls Chess Championship twice consecutively in 2000 and 2001 . In 2002, she won the World Youth U12 Girls Chess Championship. In the 2008 Women's World Chess Championship Tan defeated Tania Sachdev in one game and drew a game with GM Pia Cramling, which shows how strong a chess player she is.

sources:http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Tan_Zhongyi, http://www.chessgames.com/perl/chessplayer?pid=51565

Turning to the Chinese Men's Chess Championship, here are the results from round 5 of the Chinese Men's Chess Championship:

Bo. Name Result Name
No. 1 GM Liang Chong 1 - 0 GM Li Shilong
2 GM Zhang Pengxiang 0 - 1 Ding Liren
3 GM Ni Hua ½ - ½ Ji Dan
4 GM Hou Yifan ½ - ½ GM Bu Xiangzhi
5 GM Zhou Weiqi ½ - ½ GMZhou Jianchao
6 GM Li Chao 0 - 1 GMWang Hao

As a consequence of these game results here are the standings after 5 rounds of play in the Chinese Men's Chess Championship:


1. GM Wang Hao 4.5 points, 2.Ding Liren 3.5 points, 3rd-5th GMBu Xiangzhi , Ji Dan and
GM Zhou Jianchao all have 3 points, 6th-8th GM Li Chao B, GM Ni Hua, and
GM Zhou Weiqi all have 2.5 points, 9th GM Hou Yifan 2 points,
10th GM Liang Chong 1. 5 points, 11th-12th GM Zhang Pengxiang and GM Li Shilong both have 1 point.

Like in the Women's Championship, in the Men's we have an unrated player, Ding Liren doing extremely well . In the World Youth Boys U12 Championship held in 2004, Ding Liren finished in a second place. source: http://www.greekchess.com/wycc2004/press_release10-11.html These strong showings of these untitled players show how deep the chess talent is in China at this point in time.

Friday, May 29, 2009

Chess Championships of China:Round 4 results and standings























Here are the results from round 4 of the 2009 Chess Championships of China. In Women;'s play these results occurred on Friday:
Bo. No. Name Result Name
1 WFM Ding Yixin 1 - 0 WIM Zhang Xiaowen
2 WGM Gu Xiaobing ½ - ½ GM Zhao Xue
3 WGM Zhang Jilin 0 - 1 WGM Shen Yang
4 Ju Wenjun 1 - 0 WIM Xu Tong
5 Wang Jue 0 - 1 Tan Zhongyi
6 IM Wang Yu A ½ - ½ Wang Xiaohui
These results mean that the following standings exist after 4 rounds of play in the Women's Championship:
--------------------------
(1-2)WGM Shen Yang 2420 and Tan Zhongyi 2436 3.5 points,
(3) GM Zhao Xue 2531 3.0 points,
(4-6) IM Wang Yu A 2364, Wang Xiaohui 2265 and WFM Ding Yixin 2281 2.5 points,
(7) Ju Wenjun 2454 2.0 points,
(8) WGM Gu Xiaobing 2336 1.5 points,
(9-10) WGM Zhang Jilin 2335 and WIM Zhang Xiaowen 2340 1 point
(11-12) Wang Jue 2162 and WIM Xu Tong 2231 1/2 point

In the Men's Championship, this is what happened over- the- board on Friday in Round 4:
Round 4
-----------
Bo.No. Name Result Name
1 GM Li Shilong 0 - 1 GM Li Chao
2 GM Wang Hao 1 - 0 GM Zhou Weiq
3 GM Zhou Jianchao ½ - ½ GM Hou Yifan
4 GM Bu Xiangzhi ½ - ½ GM Ni Hua
5 Ji Dan 1 - 0 GM Zhang Pengxiang
6 Ding Liren ½ - ½ GM Liang Chong
As a consequence of play in round 4 here are the standings in the Men's Championship after 4 rounds of play:
Rk. Name Rtg Pts.
1 GM Wang Hao 2696 3.5 points
2 Ding Liren 2458 3 points
3 GM Bu Xiangzhi 2704
Ji Dan 2342, GMLi Chao 2643
GM Zhou Jianchao2635, all have 2.5 points

7 GM Ni Hua 2724 and GM Zhou Wei 2563, both have 2 points
9 GM Hou Yifan 2590 1.5
10-GM Zhang and Pengxiang 2638, and GM Li Shilong 2557
all have 1 point.
12 GM Liang Chong 2511 1/2
The photos are of Shen Yang, Tan Zhongyi, and Wang Hao . source:http://commons.wikimedia.org/wik

Ants get their place in Smithsonian exhibit


"A new exhibit, "Farmers, Warriors, Builders: The Hidden Life of Ants," opens Saturday at the National Museum of Natural History and continues through Oct. 10.
The display will include a live leaf-cutter ant colony from the lab of Ted Schultz, the museum's curator of ants.
And there will be a 6-foot-tall cast of an underground ant colony that was collected by Walter Tschinkel, who studies ant-nest architecture at Florida State University.
In addition, the museum will display 39 close-up photos of ant activities around the world."




From the Smithsonian National Museum of Natural History website:


"Farmers, Warriors, Builders: The Hidden Life of Ants"


"Ants dominate the small-scale world. We may seldom notice them, but ants affect their ecosystems as much as humans do.
And much like us, ants achieve domination by being social creatures. They must cooperate with each other to meet their basic needs for food, shelter, and defense. How they do this can look both strikingly familiar and bizarre."



There are some great links about ants at this website.


Enjoy this photo gallery about ants at this link



Watch this fascinating video as fire ants try to survive a flood in the Amazon Jungle link at:



The image in this blog entry is of two fire ants.

World's top free computer software

I just came upon an interesting article written by a Computer expert,which discusses the top free computer sofware available to all of us. Here is a link to the article about this free software:

http://techtalk.pcpitstop.com/2009/05/26/top-free-software/

Michael Ignatieff

Liberal Leader Michael Ignatieff called on the Conservative government Thursday to reveal just how much higher the federal deficit will climb this fiscal year. Ignatieff's query came during question period in the House of Commons after Finance Minister Jim Flaherty disclosed earlier this week that Canada's deficit for 2009-10 will balloon to more than $50 billion. That is more than $16 billion above the amount projected by Flaherty in the January budget.

It was reported before the budget was tabled by the Federal PC's that Ignatieff was developing his own alternative stimulus plan for the Canadian economy with a close circle of advisers," but there weren't any specifics.

Why wouldn't Ignatieff release details of his stimulus package to Canadians? Maybe it is due to the fact that the Federal Liberal Party of Canada can not think of a better stimulus package for Canada than the one which the Conservatives have in place?"

Ignatieff seems to forget that Canada's present deficit of 2 percent of GDP is within the promises that we made to the G20 in Washington in November (source: http://www.irpp.org/po/archive/may09/ignatieff.pdf ) and Ignatieff seems to forget that he made this statement:

"“We will have to raise taxes,” but not at the expense of hurting the recovery from this recession. He added that “an honest politician” cannot exclude a tax hike as an option.“I am not going to load a deficit onto your children or mine,” Ignatieff said. (source:http://news.therecord.com/News/BreakingNews/article/520203)

As stated by Steve Janke of the National Post:

"The Liberal leader has no policy except to say whatever seems expedient at the moment. Asbestos is good. Asbestos is bad. Israel was justified in the attack on Qana. Israel committed war crimes in Qana. Ignatieff will raise taxes. Ignatieff won't raise taxes. Ignatieff is for a carbon tax. Ignatieff is against a carbon tax." (source:http://network.nationalpost.com/np/blogs/fullcomment/archive/2009/04/24/steve-janke-ignatieff-won-t-be-hangin-with-suzuki-after-all.aspx)

Canadians deserve a leader of the opposition who has thought of definite measures to run the economic, political and social aspects of Canada, not someone who is only interested in criticizing the ruling party, as Ignatieff is! And Canadians demand a Prime Minister who has a definite economic package to help Canada and Canadians deal with the current and future economic situations which we must experience. Ignatieff and his party have no such policy or plans for Canada, and so he does not deserve to run this country, now or in the future, unless he is willing to describe in detail what his economic plans are for Canada!

Canada Pension Plan Investment Board

According to reports released to the Canadian media, the Canada Pension Plan's Investment Board recently released its annual report, and in it it states that CPP Executives were paid bonus payments totalling $11 million in 2008 and $6 million in 2009. Why am I bringing this up?

Because these so called executives, managed the CPP so poorly that the fund lost $24 billion last year. Why should bonuses for CPP executives be determined by the CPP board of directors, rather than an independent group of taxpayers or experts appointed by all the political parties in Canada?

Prime Minister Harper and Finance Minister Flaherty indicate that they will not interfere with the pension plan's management!

source:http://www.cbc.ca/canada/story/2009/05/28/deficit-harper-ignatieff.html

I think PM Harper and Finance Minister Flaherty are making a big mistake by taking this position in this circumstance. If these CPP executives are not managing the fund properly, they should be canned! If executives for business lost 24 billion dollars in a year, I am sure that these executives would be held accountable for their poor decisions, and would probably lose their jobs or be demoted. Why shouldn't these CPP executives be held accountable to the people of Canada for their poor business practices in managing the CPP? Maybe someone should remind Harper and Flaherty that 24 billion dollars is 24 thousand million dollars.

In U.S. terms,
A Billion dollars can buy 666,666, 26 Cu ft double wide refrigerators at $1500 dollars a piece do you think this would employ some people at Whirlpool.
A Billion dollars can buy 10,000 brand new fully equipped Mobile Homes That would most likely provide shelter to nearly 40,000 people, and employment for thousands more.
A Billion Dollars can pay for the salary of 16,667 police officers at 60,000 per officer for a year. The city of Los Angeles has 9,900 officers.
A Billion Dollars would send 100 million people to the movies @ $10.00 per person and maybe enough for popcorn. I do imagine a discount would be in order.
A Billion Dollars would pay the average one month cable bill for the every person in the cities of New York, Los Angeles, Chicago, Houston, Philadelphia, San Antonio, Phoenix, San Diego and them some.
A billion dollars would buy a Grand Slam breakfast at Denny's for nearly 167 million people. The population of the USA as of February 2009 is around 306 million.Thus, a great breakfast for more than half the country. (and no Denny's didn't pay me.)
A Billion Dollars would send 4,902 students to Stanford for 4 years undergraduate, including Books, supplies, room, board, tuition and fees.

source:http://hubpages.com/hub/Daddy--how-much-is-a-Billion

According to todays' exchange rate 1 Canadian Dollar can buy 0.9046 US Dollars. So you can see that even if we convert the U.S terms dollars above to Canadian dollars, there are alot of things the Federal Government of Canada could be doing with the $24 billion dollars the CPP lost!

Thursday, May 28, 2009

Chess Championships of China

At present the Women's and Men's chess championships of China are being played in Xinghua Jiangsu, China . These championships are being played from May 26th until June 6th 2009.

"Dubbed as “Town of Han and Tang”, Xinghua has been a town for duration of more than a century since it was established in 920 A.D. Not just a Jiangsu’s historical and cultural city, Xinghua is now one of the top 100 cities (county-level) in China with its comprehensive economic capability."

"Xinghua City is situated between the two prefecture jurisdictions, Yangzhou and Yancheng, and borders Taizhou on south. Lying in a basin, the city has a low elevation over sea lever, only 1.8 m in average, and is nicknamed a big “Water Town”, surrounded by 22 rivers and 13 lakes in diverse sizes and lengths. "

"The city occupies a land of 2,393 square kilometers, the largest city under Taizhou’s jurisdiction. The population is about 1.6 million."

source:http://www.jiangsu.net/city/city.php?name=xinghua

Here is a list of the participants in the Men's Chess championship of China (note that Hou Yifan is playing in the Men's championship and not the Women's championship)!:

GM Ni Hua 2724, GM Bu Xiangzhi 2704, GM Wang Hao 2696, GM Li Chao B 2643,GM Zhang Pengxiang 2638, Zhou Jianchao 2635, GM Hou Yifan 2590, GM Zhou Weiqi, 2563 GM Li Shilong 2557, GM Liang Chong 2511, Ding Liren CHN 2458 Ji Dan 2342

Here is a list of the participants in the Women's Chess championship of China:

GM Zhao Xue 2531, Ju Wenjun 2454, Tan Zhongyi CHN 2436, WGM Shen Yang 2420, IM Wang Yu A CHN 2364, WIM Zhang Xiaowen 2340, WGM Gu Xiaobing 2336, WGM Zhang Jilin
2335, WFM Ding Yixin 2281, Wang Xiaohui 2265,WIM Xu Tong 2231, Wang Jue 2162.

Here are the standings in the Women's Championship after 3 rounds of play:

1st-3rd: GM Zhao Xue 2531 2.5 points, WGM Shen Yang 2420, Tan Zhongyi 2436 all have 2.5 points,
4th-5th: IM Wang Yu A 2364, Wang Xiaohui 2265, both have 2 points
6th: WFM Ding Yixin 2281 1.5 points
7th-10th: Ju Wenjun 2454 1 point, WGM Zhang Jilin 2335 WIM Zhang Xiaowen 2340
WGM Gu Xiaobing 2336, all have 1 point
11th: Wang Jue 2162 and WIM Xu Tong 2231, both have 1/2 point .

Here are the standings in the Men's Championship after 3 rounds of play:

1. GM Wang Hao 2696 2.5 points
2nd-5th. Ding Liren 2458 , GM Bu Xiangzhi 2704, GM Zhou Weiqi 2563, GM Zhou Jianchao 2635, all have 2 points.

6th-8th. GM Ni Hua 2724, GM Li Chao B 2643, Ji Dan 2342, all have 1.5 points
9th-11th GM Zhang Pengxiang 2638, GM Hou Yifan 2590, GM Li Shilong 2557, all have 1 point
12th GM Liang Chong 2511, 0 points

Navara-Ivanchuk rapid chess match update

Three more games have been played in the Navara-Ivanchuk rapid chess match since I last reported on this event. In reality, a mistake was made in reporting the first game at the website I get the information about the match. The first game of this match was a draw, the second a win by Ivanchuk, and two other games have been played, in the third the two players played to a draw, and in round 4 Ivanchuk won again. This means that the score in the match is 3-1 in favor of Ivanchuk with 4 games remaining to be played in the match. Here are the games which I have not until now mentioned:

[Event "Cez Trophy Rapid"]
[Site "Prague CZE"]
[Date "2009.05.27"]
[Round "1"]
[White "Navara,D"]
[Black "Ivanchuk,V"]
[Result "1/2-1/2"]
[WhiteElo "2654"]
[BlackElo "2746"]
[EventDate "2009.05.22"]
[ECO "B73"]
1. e4 c5 2. Nf3 d6 3. d4 cxd4 4. Nxd4 Nf6 5. Nc3 g6 6. Be2 Bg7 7. Be3 Nc6
8. O-O O-O 9. Qd2 Bd7 10. Rfd1 Ng4 11. Bxg4 Bxg4 12. f3 Be6 13. Nce2 Bc4
14. Ng3 Nxd4 15. Bxd4 Bxd4+ 16. Qxd4 b5 17. a4 Qc7 18. Rd2 bxa4 19. Rxa4
Rfc8 20. b3 Bb5 21. Ra3 a5 22. c4 a4 23. Nf1 Bd7 24. bxa4 Qxc4 25. e5 Bxa4
26. exd6 exd6 27. Qxc4 Rxc4 28. Ne3 Rc1+ 29. Kf2 Bc6 30. Rxa8+ Bxa8 31.
Rxd6 1/2-1/2

[Event "Cez Trophy Rapid"]
[Site "Prague CZE"]
[Date "2009.05.28"]
[Round "3"]
[White "Navara,D"]
[Black "Ivanchuk,V"]
[Result "1/2-1/2"]
[WhiteElo "2654"]
[BlackElo "2746"]
[EventDate "2009.05.22"]
[ECO "D16"]
1. Nf3 d5 2. d4 Nf6 3. c4 c6 4. Nc3 dxc4 5. a4 e6 6. e3 c5 7. Bxc4 cxd4 8.
exd4 Nc6 9. O-O Be7 10. Re1 O-O 11. Bg5 b6 12. Qd2 Bb7 13. Rad1 Na5 14. Ba2
Bxf3 15. gxf3 Rc8 16. Qe3 Nd5 17. Nxd5 Bxg5 18. f4 Bh6 19. Nc3 Qf6 20. d5
Bxf4 21. Qh3 Bd2 22. Bb1 Qh6 23. Qxh6 Bxh6 24. dxe6 fxe6 25. Ba2 Kh8 26.
Bxe6 Rce8 27. Bd5 Rxe1+ 28. Rxe1 Bd2 29. Re7 Bxc3 30. bxc3 g6 31. Rxa7 Rc8
32. Ra6 Rc5 33. Bg2 Rxc3 34. Rxb6 Rc4 35. Ra6 Rxa4 36. Bf3 Rf4 37. Bd5 Nc4
38. Bxc4 1/2-1/2

[Event "Cez Trophy Rapid"]
[Site "Prague CZE"]
[Date "2009.05.28"]
[Round "4"]
[White "Ivanchuk,V"]
[Black "Navara,D"]
[Result "1-0"]
[WhiteElo "2746"]
[BlackElo "2654"]
[EventDate "2009.05.22"]
[ECO "D30"]
1. d4 d5 2. c4 c6 3. Nf3 Nf6 4. Nc3 e6 5. Bg5 h6 6. Bxf6 Qxf6 7. Qb3 dxc4
8. Qxc4 Nd7 9. Rd1 g6 10. g3 Bg7 11. Bg2 O-O 12. Qb3 Qe7 13. O-O b6 14. e3
Bb7 15. Nd2 Nf6 16. Rc1 Rfd8 17. Rfd1 Rac8 18. Nc4 c5 19. Bxb7 Qxb7 20.
dxc5 Rxd1+ 21. Qxd1 Rxc5 22. b3 Qc6 23. Qd6 Nd5 24. Qxc6 Rxc6 25. Ne2 b5
26. Nd2 Ra6 27. Rc8+ Kh7 28. Nc1 Nc3 29. Kf1 Nxa2 30. Nxa2 Rxa2 31. Ne4 a5
32. Rc7 Rb2 33. Rxf7 Rxb3 34. Ra7 a4 35. Nf6+ Kh8 36. Ra8+ Bf8 37. Nd7 a3
38. Nxf8 b4 39. Nxe6+ Kh7 40. Nd4 Rb2 41. h4 a2 42. Kg2 Rd2 43. Nb3 Rb2 1-0
 

All of the games are supposed to be able to be viewed online, however at the time of this blog entry only the first two games can be played through online at this link: http://www.praguechess.cz/en/online_akce.php?nazev_akce=20&akce=online&chat=1

Wednesday, May 27, 2009

Navara vs Ivanchuk rapid chess match under way


















An eight-game rapid match between Czech grandmaster David Navara and Ukrainian GM Vassily Ivanchuk is taking place from May 27th to 31st 2009 in Prague Czech Republic as part of the Cez Chess Trophy 2009.

Ivanchuk is currently the 12th highest-rated chess player in the world with an elo of 2746. Navara is the 74th highest-rated chess player in the world with an elo of 2654. According to my chessbase database, the two GM's have played five games against each other in their chess careers prior to this rapid match in Prague. Ivanchuk has won one game against Navara and the remaining 4 games have been drawn.

Update
--------
Game 1 of the Navara-Ivanchuk match was played today (May 27,2009) in Prague. Ivanchuk had the White pieces. The opening was a Grunfeld Defense:Exchange variation and Ivanchuk won the game in 44 moves. You can play through the game move by move by going to this link: http://www.chessbase.com/newsdetail.asp?newsid=5467
(You need the Abode flashplayer installed on your computer to do so). You can also play through the moves of this game below at the bottom of page one of my blog. Just click on the arrows to move forward or backward through the game. I have analyzed this game using the strongest chess program in the world, Deep Rybka 3.

Climate change threatens polar bears:Prentice concedes


Canadian Government Environment Minister Jim Prentice admitted in the article "Climate Change threatens polar bears": "that changes to the World's climate pose a serious threat to the World's polar bear population. Prentice made this statement while attending a conference of ministers representing the world's top greenhouse gas-emitting economies."


source of photo: http://www.lisasreef.com/
This article appeared in the Wednesday, May 27,2009 Edition of the Edmonton Journal newspaper.
Prentice was quoted as saying, "It is clear that the polar bear is a mammal that developed over time as an expert in hunting from sea ice, so clearly the absence of sea ice is going to be problematic."
In March, Prentice stated, "I don't think anyone disagrees the whole process of climate change has implications for polar bears.What these implications are is still under scientific investigation.It could be postive,it could be negative."

Prentice said Tuesday (March 26,2009), he was referring in March to the differing impacts of climate change on the 13 subspecies of polar bears living in various geographic areas. He said he showed his concern for the polar bear's survival by launching a national consultation initiative looking at ways to protect the animal.
Recently, a collection of scientists co-authored a paper in which they criticized those who suggested that the polar bears could benefit from climate change. Ian Sterling, an Edmonton- based emeritus researcher with Environment Canada told Canwest News Service in a recent email that "climate change is unquestionably harmful." Sterling also stated, "Polar bears evolved to exploit an ecological niche on the sea ice.They are large,specialized predators that depend on the sea ice for their existence."

It is nice to see that a key member of the ruling Government party in Canada is concerned about the future of the Polar bear species! Hopefully, nations who have come together to find ways to reduce greenhouse gas emissions will cooperate fully with each other to find ways of ensuring that the habitat of the polar bear and other animal and plant species endangered by global warming are saved from extinction or a vast reduction in their numbers. Sadly as reported by Brian Merchant on his blog:http://www.treehugger.com/files/2009/05/polar-bears-endangered-rule-obama.php
"(United States) Secretary of the Interior Ken Salazar is upholding the Bush rule that limits the action that can be taken to protect polar bears.Ex-President Bush listed polar bears as threatened due to the species' melting habitat. But since protecting that melting habitat meant fighting global warming--and that meant doing inconvenient stuff like cutting carbon and imposing regulations--Bush then approvedf a special rule that limited the use of the Endangered Species Act to regulate greenhouse gas emissions."

Tasmanian devils listed as endangered in Australia





By Rod Mcguirk, Associated Press
CANBERRA, Australia — "The Tasmanian devil, a snarling fox-sized marsupial made notorious by its Looney Tunes cartoon namesake Taz, was listed in Australia as an endangered species Friday because of a contagious cancer that has wiped out most of the wild population.
The upgrade from "vulnerable" under Australian environmental law entitles the world's largest marsupial carnivore to greater protection in the island state of Tasmania, Environment Minister Peter Garrett said in a statement."
"Devils do not exist in the wild outside Tasmania, although mainland zoos are breeding captive populations as a strategy against total extinction."

"Their numbers have declined by 70% since the facial cancer was first reported in 1996. The disease is caused by bites inflicted on each other's faces as part of a bizarre mating ritual or while squabbling over food. It causes grotesque facial tumors that eventually prevent them from feeding, leading to starvation within months.
"Strong action is being taken to find out more about this disease and to stop its spread," Garrett said.


Here are some facts I have gathered about the Tasmanian Devil:
"Tasmanian devils are mammals and belong to the marsupial infraclass of mammals.The Tasmanian Devil is the only non-extinct member of the genus Sarcophilus. Because they were seen as a threat to livestock in Tasmania, devils were hunted until 1941, when they became officially protected. Since the late 1990s devil facial tumor disease has reduced the devil population significantly and now threatens the survival of the species, which in May 2008 was declared to be endangered. Programs are currently being undertaken by the Tasmanian government to reduce the impact of the disease."

"These mammals have a squat and thick build, with a large head and a tail which is about half its body length. The devil stores body fat in its tail, so unhealthy devils often have thin tails. Unusually for a marsupial, its forelegs are slightly longer than its hind legs. Devils can run up to 13 km (8.1 mi) per hour for short distances. The fur is usually black, although irregular white patches on the chest and rump are common. Males are usually larger than females, having an average head and body length of 652 mm (25.7 in), with a 258 mm (10.2 in) tail, and an average weight of 8 kg (18 lb). Females have an average head and body length of 570 mm (22 in), with a 244 mm (9.6 in) tail, and an average weight of 6 kg (13 lb). This correlates to an animal which is the size of a small dog."

"The average life expectancy of a Tasmanian Devil in the wild is estimated at six years, although they may live longer in captivity. The devil has long whiskers on its face and in clumps on the top of the head. These help the devil locate prey when foraging in the dark, and aid in detecting when other devils are close during feeding. When agitated, the devil can produce a strong odour, its pungency rivaling even the skunk."
"Tasmanian Devils are widespread and fairly common throughout Tasmania,but are quickly dying from a face cancer. Found in all habitats on the island, including the outskirts of urban areas, they particularly like dry sclerophyll forests and coastal woodlands. The Tasmanian Devil is a noctural (active at night) and crepuscular (they appear and begin their activity in the twilight) hunter, spending the days in dense bush or in a hole. Tasmanian Devils can take prey up to the size of a small rats, but in practice they are opportunistic, and eat carrion more often than they hunt live prey."
 (source:http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Tasmanian_Devil)
"Early European settlers named the feisty marsupial the devil for its spine-chilling screeches, dark appearance and reputed bad temper which, along with its steeltrap jaw, made it appear incredibly fierce."
(source
:Tasmanian Devil)
Here are two links to videos which discuss various aspects of the Tasmanian devil:

Sadly, Tasmanian devils are threatened by a facial cancer which spreads from devil to devil by their habit of biting each other.This results in an affected devil's face being covered with tumors
The ailment produces enormous growths that push the animals' teeth out of line and make it difficult for them to eat. Afflicted animals generally die of starvation within six months. <:(

The disease has spread rapidly. Today biologists report that few animals evade it long enough to live into old age, which for a Tasmanian devil means about five years.
Scientists have long known the disease is infectious, but nobody understood what caused it. Some suspected that it might be transmitted via a virus.
But Anne-Maree Pearse, a biologist at Tasmania's Department of Primary Industries, Water, and Environment, thought something more exotic might be at work.
Now she and coworker Kate Swift believe they've found the answer: The animals inject cancer cells into each other when they engage in mating battles. When a cancerous animal bites a healthy one, Pearse reported this month of the journal Nature, cancer cells can break off the cancerous devil's face. Some of these cancer cells are then implanted into the bite wound. There they thrive, growing into new tumors. It's a process similar to that by which human tumors multiply within a single individual: by shedding cells that move through the bloodstream.
The idea that something like this could be happening via bites, however, is new.
The smoking gun lies in the tumor cells' chromosomes, structures that contain DNA.
Tasmanian devils normally have 14 chromosomes. But the cancer cells contain only thirteen. And those 13 are "grossly abnormal," Pearse wrote in the new study.
More important, she found that the abnormalities were identical in 11 sick animals collected from widely separated regions.he tumor cells' chromosomes are so similar, Pearse wrote, that all of them must have arisen from the same source.

Presumably, one devil developed the disease several years ago then spread it to its neighbors.
Pearse noted that inbreeding, and the resulting lack of genetic diversity, may make Tasmanian devils particularly susceptible to this type of infection.
Since the animals are so genetically similar, their immune systems may not recognize the new cells as alien invaders that need to be fought.
It's like humans receiving organ transplants, she wrote—the transplant is less likely to be rejected by the body if the new organ is from a close relative. In the case of the devils,
however, the transplanted material is cancer cells capable of taking on a parasitic life of their own.

The Tasmanian government is currently attempting to quarantine healthy devil populations from infected ones. Officials could not be reached for comment, but on their Web site they note that Pearse's study "provides a high degree of confidence that keeping healthy animals away from sick ones is sufficient to prevent infection."
The officials note, however, that there are "significant practical challenges" to attempting to enforce quarantine in the wild. (source:http://news.nationalgeographic.com/news/2006/02/0227_060227_tasmanian_2.html)
Source of image of Tasmanian devil:http://www.biology-blog.com/blogs/

Rooks are latest bird to use tools




By Randolph E. Schmid, Associated Press
WASHINGTON — "Yet another animal has picked up a tool and put it to use.
Once thought a unique primate trait, toolmaking and tool use have been seen in a variety of animals in recent years. Now add to the list rooks, a bird once featured in European folklore as able to forecast the weather.
Rooks are not known to make or use tools in the wild, but quickly came up with the idea when confronted with problems in laboratory tests, British researchers report in Tuesday's edition of Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.
Faced with food that could only be obtained by pushing a small stone off a ledge into a tube, rooks quickly mastered the skill.
And when the stone was placed elsewhere, they didn't take long to decide to pick it up and carry it to the tube, according to researchers Christopher D. Bird of the University of Cambridge and Nathan J. Emery of Queen Mary College, London.




Many animal species are now known to use tools, ranging from otters and herons to monkeys and chimpanzees. Indeed, Emery and Bird report that as many as 39 species of birds are estimated to use tools in one way of another."






Attempts to preserve world's forests falling short

Sufficient efforts are not being made to protect 10% of the world's forests by 2010 — as agreed under the Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD) — according to a new analysis.The study is the first attempt to work out how much of the globe's 20 major types of forest are safeguarded.

Source:http://www.nature.com/news/2009/090522/full/news.2009.505.html?s=news_rss

Tuesday, May 26, 2009

CN Rail settles charges over two derailments

"Canadian National Railway Co. CNR-T has settled all environmental charges stemming from two high-profile derailments in Western Canada in 2005, the company said yesterday. The railroad will pay $1.8-million to resolve federal and provincial charges stemming from the crashes, which allowed oil to leak into Lake Wabamun in Alberta and dropped caustic soda into British Columbia's Cheakamus River. Neither accident caused human injury, but the Cheakamus River spill created a large fish kill and both incidents led to authorities filing environmental charges against Canada's largest railway. Canadian National and its insurers have paid more than $132-million on cleanup and compensation costs stemming from the Lake Wabamun accident, which was caused by a broken rail, the company said. The railway said it has also spent more than $7-million on fish restoration and other habitat programs because of the Cheakamus accident near Squamish, British Columbia, that investigators linked to CN's switch to running longer trains in the difficult terrain." (source:http://www.theglobeandmail.com/report-on-business/cn-rail-settles-charges-over-two-derailments/article1152936/)

CN may have settled its charges, however what will be the short-term and long-term effects of the oil and the caustic soda which was poured into these rivers?

Apparently, "the oil spilled into Lake Wabamun is a "potentially harmful pole-treating oil" The oil contains polycyclic aromatic compounds, which can cause skin cancer. Residents were also urged Wednesday not to handle wildlife hurt by the spill, which included 70,000 litres of thick, gooey bunker C oil." source: http://www.redorbit.com/news/science/203975/tests_confirm_spill_of_harmful
_poletreating_oil_near_lake_wabamun/

Caustic soda is extremely toxic to life. If the caustic soda is in the air it can cause living things to experience labored breathing, shortness of breath, burns to the skin, and blurred vision. If this chemical is inadvertantly swallowed (by someone who is eating lunch perhaps and has some of the caustic soda on his or her hands), it can cause abdominal pain, shock or collapse.The substance is very corrosive to the eyes, the skin and the respiratory tract.

source:http://www.ilo.org/public/english/protection/safework/cis/products/icsc/dtasht/_icsc03/icsc0360.htm

I wonder what steps have been taken (if any) to monitor all life which has been exposed to these toxins over the long-term?

Fearing water pollution, NWT towns call for oil sands slowdown




Source of photos:Image on the right-David Dodge,
Written by Mark Hume

Vancouver — "From Wednesday's Globe and Mail, Tuesday, May. 26, 2009 08:13PM EDT
With growing evidence that pollutants are causing fish deformities in the Athabasca River and one native village struggling to understand its elevated cancer rates, 33 communities in the Northwest Territories have called for a moratorium on oil sands developments because of fears about water quality.
At a conference in Inuvik, the NWT Association of Communities passed a resolution expressing “widespread concern” that the governments of Canada and Alberta have not managed the oil sands in a way that protects the environment.
“This is no longer just an issue for Albertans, and now poses a risk to all downstream communities in the Mackenzie Basin … in terms of risks to water quality in the Athabasca River posed by leaks from, and even possible failure of, oil sands tailings ponds,” states the resolution.
The resolution calls for a halt to new oil sands development until a trans-boundary agreement is in place “that ensures water flowing into the Northwest Territories is clean.”

To read the remainder of this news article go to: http://www.theglobeandmail.com/news/national/fearing-water-pollution-nwt-towns-cal






Views of the Athabasca River:It is obvious which photo indicates the polluted nature of the River. Suncor Energy has spilled oil and grease into the Athabasca River, and at least one of its tailings ponds is seeping into the groundwater.






Monday, May 25, 2009

U.S. leaders weigh in as world reacts to N. Korea nuke test


The image is one taken from a satellite on March 26 that was released by The Institute for Science and International Security (ISIS) in Washington and purportedly showing a long-range missile on a launch pad at Musudan-Ri ,North Korea



SEOUL (AP) — "President Obama assailed North Korea Monday for new missile tests, saying the world must "stand up to" Pyongyang and demand that it honor a promise to abandon its nuclear ambitions.
Appearing on the White House steps, Obama said that its latest nuclear underground test and subsequent test firings of short-range ground to air missiles "pose a grave threat to the peace and security of the world and I strongly condemn their reckless action."
It was his second statement within hours of the tests, the latest in a number of nuclear actions that Obama said "endanger the people of Northeast Asia." He called it "a blatant violation of international law" and said that it contradicted North Korea's "own prior commitments." Obama had released a written statement chastising the North Koreans in the early morning hours of Monday."

To read the rest of this story go to:http://www.usatoday.com/news/world/2009-05-24-north-korea_N.htm

Is Obama being hypocritical when the United States has recently suggesteed it is going to test a U.S.-based strategic anti-missile system in the near future? According to the website: http://www.armscontrol.org/act/2009_01-02/missiledefense,

" The interceptor model slated for installation in Poland is scheduled to be flight-tested for the first time late this summer (2009). Current plans also call for testing it against a target twice in 2010. Congress has prohibited deployment of the interceptor model abroad until it is certified by the secretary of defense as passing operationally realistic testing.
The proposed interceptor is derived from the U.S. ground-based midcourse defense (GMD) interceptor. Instead of three rocket boosters like the GMD system, the interceptor posited for Poland is to be powered by just two rocket boosters due to the shorter time frames and distances for a possible missile intercept over Europe compared with defending the United States. Missile Defense Agency (MDA) officials express few doubts that the untested model will perform as intended given its similarity to the more mature GMD interceptor. Twenty-two of those interceptors have been stationed in Fort Greely, Alaska; another three are installed at Vandenberg Air Force Base, California."

"The agency's confidence presumably grew Dec. 5 with the GMD system's interception of a mock warhead more than 200 kilometers above the Pacific Ocean. The target missile flew south out of Kodiak Island, Alaska, while the interceptor was fired from Vandenberg about 19 minutes after the target's launch. Ten minutes later, the interceptor's exoatmospheric kill vehicle (EKV), a roughly 60-kilogram device that uses radar data and its own onboard sensors to hone in on its quarry, collided with the mock warhead."

"Lieutenant General Patrick O'Reilly, director of the MDA, described the experiment that day to reporters as "the largest, most complex test we have ever done." Similarly, an agency spokesperson, Rick Lehner, told Arms Control Today Jan. 5 that the trial was the "most operationally realistic test to date."
The test, however, was not as taxing as originally planned. Along with releasing a mock warhead, the target missile was supposed to activate unspecified countermeasures, but it failed to do so. "

U.S. Feds plan $4 billion for green jobs

WASHINGTON (AP) — "Some $4 billion from President Obama's $787 billion economic stimulus plan that was budgeted to renovate public housing will be spent to create so-called "green jobs" by making the dwellings more energy efficient.
Housing Secretary Shaun Donovan was making the announcement Tuesday in Denver at a meeting of Obama's Middle Class Task Force.
Labor Secretary Hilda Solis, another task force member, also will announce that $500 million from the stimulus is becoming available to train workers for these jobs. That sum includes $50 million for communities battered by job losses and restructuring in the auto industry.
Both Donovan and Solis also were announcing that their departments are working together to maThese jobs, broadly defined as related to helping the environment, pay up to 20% more than other jobs, are more likely to be union jobs and are more likely to be held by men, less so by minorities and people who live in cities, according to a report the task force issued in February. These jobs also are ones that cannot be easily transferred overseas.
Obama has pushed greening the economy — reducing dependence on foreign energy sources, developing domestic alternatives and easing the effects of climate change — as ways to help pull the economy out of its worst downturn since the Great Depression.

Donovan said Monday that the investment in public housing will help meet several goals: improving the quality of public housing, reducing energy costs for residents and the government, and creating jobs for people who live in the units and in the surrounding community.ke it easier for public housing residents to find training programs or a green job. ....

By boosting the green economy, you're promoting green energy and clean production at the same time that you're generating green jobs," Bernstein, who is also Vice President Joe Biden's chief economist, said Monday in an interview. Biden is in charge of the task force."

source:http://www.usatoday.com/money/economy/housing/2009-05-25-green-jobs_N.htm

Sunday, May 24, 2009

MTel-Chess Tournament:round 10 results:final standings


In a dramatic last round of play, GM Alexei Shirov faced GM Magnus Carlsen. If Carlsen drew the game he would win the title of MTel Chess tournament champion if Shirov won he would be the tournament champion. Shirov had the white pieces and played 1.e4 to start the game. Carlsen, decided to create a fight for the title, and played 1...c5 (the Sicilian Defense). After a few moves, the players had entered the complex Sveshnikov variation, and at the end Carlsen was down four pawns! Congratulations to Alexei Shirov for winning the 2009 MTel Chess Tournament! Here are the results of all of the games from the last round of play:


Round 10 (May 23, 2009)

Shirov, Alexei - Carlsen, Magnus result: 1-0 number of moves: 30 Opening: Sicilian Defense Sveshnikov variation ECO:B33


Wang Yue - Topalov, Veselin result: ½-½ (draw) Opening: Gruenfeld Defense 4.Bf4 ECO:D82


Ivanchuk, Vassily - Dominguez Perez, Leinier result: 1-0 number of moves: 56 Opening: Gruenfeld Defense:fianchetto variation 3.g3 ECO:D74


Here are the final standings for the 5th MTel Masters 2009


1 2 3 4 5 6

1 Shirov 2745 ** ½½ ½1 ½½ ½½ 11 6.5/10

2 Topalov 2812 ½½ ** 0½ 1½ ½½ 11 6.0/10 48.00

3 Carlsen 2770 ½0 1½ ** ½1 ½1 ½½ 6.0/10 48.00

4 Wang Yue 2738 ½½ 0½ ½0 ** ½½ 1½ 4.5/10

5 Dominguez 2717 ½½ ½½ ½0 ½½ ** ½0 4.0/10

6 Ivanchuk,V 00 00 ½½ 0½ ½1 ** 3.0/10


Average elo: 2754 <=> Category: 21 gm = 3.00 m = 1.00

Saturday, May 23, 2009

San Diego wants to use recording of barking dogs to drive seals from popular beach

SAN DIEGO - Officials in San Diego are hoping that a dog's bark is worse than its bite.
The San Diego Union-Tribune reports the city plans to seek court permission to use recordings of barking dogs to discourage seals from taking up residence at the popular Children's Pool beach in La Jolla.
It's part of an annual $700,000 plan to disperse about 200 seals at the beach.
Marine experts say the seals likely will adjust to the noise, but city officials say their backup plan is to add other sounds and spray the seals with water.
Animal rights activists say they'll oppose the plan.

----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

I have a very important question concerning this news story!!
If there are so many seals at this beach, to me that suggests that something is out of whack with the balance of nature in the waters off of San Diego. I love seals, however where are the predators of the seals which would have kept the population of seals in balance off the coast of San Diego? Where are the sharks and the seal lions, where are the killer whales which prey on seals?


"Eight species of sharks are common to the waters off of southern California and northern Baja California; two are not so common, but all are very interesting.Twelve species of sharks live in San Diego waters are the Gray Smoothhound, The Leopard Shark,Horn Shark, Swell Shark, Horn Shark,Swell Shark, Angel Shark, Blue Shark, Mako Shark, Thresher shark,Hammerhead shark and the infamous Great White shark." The first six species I have listed are much to small to be predators of seals, however, the Blue shark, Mako shark (the fastest swimming shark,), and the Great White shark are all known to be seal eaters. So where have the populations of these sharks gone instead of being off the coast of San Diego?

Woman with MS conquers Everest; achieves 'Seven Summits' mountaineering feat

BAYFIELD, Wis. - A retired school teacher with multiple sclerosis has now climbed the tallest mountains on each of the seven continents.
A dispatch from the expedition company Alpine Ascents International says Lori Schneider reached the 8,850-metre peak of Mount Everest on Friday.
It's the tallest point in the world.
The 52-year-old from northwestern Wisconsin had already climbed six of the other peaks after being diagnosed with multiple sclerosis in 1999.
Schneider is reported to be the first woman afflicted with the neurological disease to reach the Everest summit and the first person with MS to complete the Seven Summits.

Source:Canadian Press

Congratulations Lori,that is a fantastic achievement and you are an inspiration to all of us!

Friday, May 22, 2009

MTel-Chess Tournament:Round 9 results,standings round 10 pairings

Here are the results from round 9 of the MTel Masters Chess T ournament being played in Sofia, Bulgaria:




Carlsen, Magnus - Wang Yue Result: 1-0 Number of moves: 33 Opening: Slav Defence ECO:D15


Topalov, Veselin - Ivanchuk, Vassily Result: 1-0 Number of moves: 81 Opening: Ruy Lopez ECO Code: C87


Dominguez Perez, Leinier- Shirov, Alexei ½-½ (draw) Number of moves: 50 Opening: Ruy Lopez: Moeller Defence ECO:C78

To play through these games move by move please go to this link:


http://www.chessbase.com/news/2009/events/games/sofia09.htm

Because Carlsen won in this round he moves a half-point ahead of Shirov entering the last round of play (which is Saturday).


Here are the standings after 9 rounds of play (click on the crosstable to enlarge it):








Here are the pairings for the last round of play of the tournament (white is on the right):


Shirov-Carlsen
Wang-Topalov
Ivanchuk-Dominguez

According to the chessbase online database, Shirov and Carlsen have played 4 games in their chess careers against each other when Shirov had the White pieces, each player has one win and the other two games have been draws. In every game in which Shirov has had the white pieces against Carlsen, Alexei has opened the game by playing 1.e4. Go Alexei you can beat Magnus!!

Save the elephants in Mali!




"Mali is a beautiful, landlocked desert country in North West Africa. Perhaps best known for its rich cultural diversity, Mali is also home to the northernmost herd of African elephants. One of the very last herd of elephants in the arid Sahel, this herd is also unique because of its annual migration - circumscribing an area of over 24,000 square kilometers, the herd has the longest recorded migration route of any elephants." (source:http://www.wild.org/field-projects/the-desert-elephants-of-mali/ Source of Image: http://www.irinnews.org/PhotoDetail.aspx?ImageId=2008082911 Source of Map of Mali:
http://www.map-of-africa.co.uk/map-of-mali.htm

"The "last desert elephants in West Africa" have "adapted to survive in the harsh conditions" they face, Save the Elephants said Monday. But now, the group says, conditions have gone from bad to worse, and they are living "on the margin of what is ecologically viable."
Save the Elephants distributed new pictures Monday that depict the devastating drought and the struggle for survival in Mali , one of the poorest nations in the world.
"Six elephants have already been found dead," the group wrote in a news release accompanying the photos.
"Four others, including three calves, were recently extracted from a shallow well into which they had fallen when searching for water. Only the largest survived."
The youngest are in the most danger, since their smaller trunks can't reach deep into the few remaining wells, the group said.
The worst drought in 26 years is threatening the existence of the "last desert elephants in West Africa," the northernmost herds in the continent, Save the Elephants said.




The animals, now numbering only about 350 to 450, have been called "the last elephants of Timbuktu," said Jake Wall, a scientist with Save the Elephants. Each year, the elephants trek farther on the fringes of the Sahara to find water. They have the longest migration route of any in the continent, traveling "in a counterclockwise circle" of about 700 kilometers (435 miles), Save the Elephants said."

"Biologist Iain Douglas-Hamilton, founder of Save the Elephants. " and other scientists and conservationists are tracking this small herd of nomadic elephants to see where and when they migrate. In 2000, researchers attached GPS collars to nine elephants; they later recovered three working units. The high-tech data (from animals dubbed Ahni, Elmehdi and Doppit Gromoppit) confirmed what some elephant-watchers had suspected for decades: the pachyderms follow a vast, counterclockwise route dotted with temporary and permanent watering holes. They linger at a lake on the northern edge of their range until the rains begin in June, then head south, eventually crossing briefly into northern Burkina Faso.

The goal of ongoing tracking projects, Martin says, is to identify "choke points"—corridors the elephants must traverse to complete their migration. The WILD Foundation, Save the Elephants and other organizations are providing recommendations to the World Bank for a $9 million project to protect Mali's natural resources. By documenting where the elephants roam, not just from water hole to water hole but in search of fodder and cover, people can avoid blocking their routes with permanent settlements."

"The drought in the Sahel in the 1970's created a shortage of watering holes," says Namory Traore, a director at Mali’s National Centre for Nature Conservation. As climate change affects more people in this desert country, Lake Banzena has become one of the last remaining water sources for both animals and people. The nearby Lake Gossi, about 150 kilometres south of Gao, has begun to dry out, and there are fears that the region can no longer support even this smaller elephant population. The World Bank-funded biodiversity project is designed to protect both animals and humans in drought-prone regions. Its main focus is to facilitate elephants' passage through inhabited areas.The elephants migrate counter-clockwise, covering a 450 kilometre circular route across northern Mali. After spending the dry season at Lake Banzena, they then head south to Burkina Faso.

"The problem we have is the lack of water. We have excellent pasture, but there is often not enough water for elephants and humans to share," says herder Tambura. But the elephants are actually helping herders find water, according to conservationist Traore. "The best water sources are hidden in the the forestand the elephants open it up by trampling down the bush and exposing the grass to light. They break off small branches, which goats cannot reach. Often you'll see a herder with his goats following the elephants through the forest."

Locals learn to work with, and appreciate, their seasonal neighbors forest, and the elephants open it up by trampling down the bush and exposing the grass to light. They break off small branches, which goats cannot reach. Often you'll see a herder with his goats following the elephants through the forest." Traore says elephants have become an integral part of the planting season. "Many herders and farmers take the arrival of the elephants as the start of the rainy season. They won't plant until they see them, because the elephants won't move until they're sure they can find water." The PCVBGE project says local communities have an economic incentive to save the elephants. source:http://www.irinnews.org/Report.aspx?ReportId=80079

Facts about Mali:
(1) Geographic location: Mali lies in Western Africa, southwest of Algeria and east of Mauritania.
(2) Size: 1.24 million sq km, slightly less than twice the size of Texas, US. Mali is West Africa's biggest country. The Sahara desert covers the northern part of Mali so the terrain is mostly flat with some rolling northern plains covered by sand; there's savanna in south and rugged hills in the northeast. Mali's climate is subtropical to arid. It is very hot and dry from February to June; rainy, humid, and mild from June to November; and cool and dry from November to February. The lowest point is the Senegal River at 23m and the highest point is at Hombori Tondo which measures 1,155m. Mali is a landlocked country.
(3) Population:11.7 million people live in Mali. Life expectancy is around 49 years. Birth rate is on average 7.4 per woman. Literacy rate is just over 46%.
(4) Languages used: French (official), Bambara 80%, and numerous other African languages.
(5) Ethnic Groups found in Mali : Mande 50% (Bambara, Malinke, Soninke), Peul 17%, Voltaic 12%, Songhai 6%, Tuareg and Moor 10%, and other 5%.

(6)Religions practised by the population: Muslim 90%, indigenous beliefs 9%, Christian 1%.
(7)Political History: The Sudanese Republic and Senegal became independent of France in 1960 as the Mali Federation. When Senegal withdrew after only a few months, what formerly made up the Sudanese Republic was renamed Mali. Rule by dictatorship was brought to a close in 1991 by a coup that ushered in democratic government. President Alpha Konare won Mali's first democratic presidential election in 1992 and was reelected in 1997. In keeping with Mali's two-term constitutional limit, Konare stepped down in 2002 and was succeeded by Amadou Toure.

(8)Economic Overview: Mali is among the poorest countries in the world, with 65% of its land area desert or semidesert and with a highly unequal distribution of income. Economic activity is largely confined to the riverine area irrigated by the Niger. About 10% of the population is nomadic and some 80% of the labor force is engaged in farming and fishing. Industrial activity is concentrated on processing farm commodities. Mali is heavily dependent on foreign aid and vulnerable to fluctuations in world prices for cotton, its main export, along with gold. The government has continued its successful implementation of an IMF-recommended structural adjustment program that is helping the economy grow, diversify, and attract foreign investment. Mali's adherence to economic reform and the 50% devaluation of the CFA franc in January 1994 have pushed up economic growth to a sturdy 5% average in 1996-2006. Worker remittances and external trade routes for the landlocked country have been jeopardized by continued unrest in neighboring Cote d'Ivoire.

Visit GM Alexandra Kosteniuk's Women's Chess Blog:Please click on the image below:

Visit GM Alexandra Kosteniuk's Women's Chess Blog:Please click on the image below:
Chess needs more women and girl participants and administrators!

Thoughts worth thinking about

"Our subconscious minds have no sense of humor, play no jokes and cannot tell the difference between reality and an imagined thought or image. What we continually think about eventually will manifest in our lives."-Sidney Madwed



Laws alone can not secure freedom of expression; in order that every woman and man present their views without penalty, there must be spirit of tolerance in the entire population.- Albert Einstein Too often we underestimate the power of a touch, a smile, a kind word, a listening ear, an honest compliment, or the smallest act of caring, all of which have the potential to turn a life around. - Leo Buscaglia



A person's true wealth is the good he or she does in the world. - Mohammed



Our task must be to free ourselves... by widening our circle of compassion to embrace all living creatures and the whole of nature and its beauty. -Albert Einstein



The best way to find yourself, is to lose yourself in the service of others. - Ghandi



The unselfish effort to bring cheer to others will be the beginning of a happier life for ourselves. - Helen Keller



Aim for success, not perfection. Never give up your right to be wrong, because then you will lose the ability to learn new things and move forward with your life. Remember that fear always lurks behind perfectionism. Confronting your fears and allowing yourself the right to be human can, paradoxically, make yourself a happier and more productive person. - Dr. David M. Burns



Life is as dear to a mute creature as it is to man. Just as one wants happiness and fears pain, just as one wants to live and not die, so do other creatures. -His Holiness The Dalai Lama



Mankind's true moral test, its fundamental test (which lies deeply buried from view), consists of its attitude towards those who are at its mercy: animals. And in this respect mankind has suffered a fundamental debacle, a debacle so fundamental that all others stem from it. -



Milan Kundera, The Unbearable Lightness of Being



The worst sin towards our fellow creatures is not to hate them, but to be indifferent to them. That's the essence of inhumanity. -George Bernard Shaw

Ego's trick is to make us lose sight of our interdependence. That kind of ego-thought gives us a perfect justification to look out only for ourselves. But that is far from the truth. In reality we all depend on each other and we have to help each other. The husband has to help his wife, the wife has to help the husband, the mother has to help her children, and the children are supposed to help the parents too, whether they want to or not.-Gehlek Rinpoche Source: "The Best Buddhist Writing 2005 pg. 165

The hostile attitude of conquering nature ignores the basic interdependence of all things and events---that the world beyond the skin is actually an extension of our own bodies---and will end in destroying the very environment from which we emerge and upon which our whole life depends.