August 2003

The BBC reports:

A rush-hour power cut has caused major disruption on rail and Tube services in London and the South East.

Power returned to the system at about 1900 BST but the knock-on effects are still being felt by commuters struggling home.

Network Rail says between 500 and 1,000 trains have been affected by the power cut, caused by a fault with the National Grid.

Train company Connex reported the power went out between London and Ashford, in Kent.

South London was hardest hit and Transport for London said 60% of the Tube network was affected.


Hubble captured an image of Mars with a resolution of 27 kilometres thanks to the planet’s recent fly-by (Image: NASA)

(via NewScientist)

Robert E. Pierre, Washington Post, writes:

CHICAGO, Aug. 27 — A disgruntled former employee returned this morning to the South Side auto supply house where he worked until six months ago and shot to death six former co-workers before being gunned down by police, authorities said.

The man, Salvador Tapia, 36, of Chicago had allegedly made threatening phone calls since he was fired this year because of tardiness and poor performance. But police said they had received no formal complaints until 8:37 a.m. today when an employee, who was in the warehouse as Tapia began shooting, escaped and called 911 from a diner next door.


Blogger and tech journalist Paul Boutin called for a Black Rock City version of Hipster Bingo, and you responded. BoingBoing reader Lev Johnson created the Burningman Bingo card, and here it is.

(via BoingBoing)

Yoshiko Hara, EE Times, reports:

TOKYO Nippon Telegraph and Telephone Corp. (NTT) has developed a diamond semiconductor device that operates at 81 GHz frequency, more than twice the speed of earlier devices. The advance promises to make amplification in the millimeter-wave band from 30 to 300 GHz possible for the first time, NTT claimed.

Diamond is expected to be the next generation semiconductor material because of its high thermal conductivity, high breakdown voltage and high carrier mobility. Together, these characteristics makes diamond semiconductors most suitable for high frequency, high power devices.


Bill Dash writes:

In the midst of the fighting, he noticed that the Americans had called up an oddly configured tank. Then to his amazement the tank suddenly let loose a blinding stream of what seemed like fire and lightning, engulfing a large passenger bus and three automobiles. Within seconds the bus had become semi-molten, sagging “like a wet rag” as he put it. He said the bus rapidly melted under this withering blast, shrinking until it was a twisted blob about the dimensions of a VW bug. As if that were not bizarre enough, al-Ghazali explicitly describes seeing numerous human bodies shriveled to the size of newborn babies. By the time local street fighting ended that day, he estimates between 500 and 600 soldiers and civilians had been cooked alive as a result of the mysterious tank-mounted device.


Bob Bunge of Bowie is one of many amateur astronomers who chart the location and appearance of the Red Planet. (Dudley M. Brooks — The Washington Post)

kbcjedi writes in the Rumor Mill News Agents Forum :

This article is not about the cause of the Blackout throughout the Northeast but rather my personal observations during the event. The lights went out at 4pm on a bright sunny day, I was walking back from the P.O. I saw traffic stopped on first Ave, I thought nothing of it. My first thought was I should go direct traffic; it might be fun like cutting the lawn the first time. I turned and looked at the intersection at 23rd st, someone had beat me to it.

By the time I got home, I realized there was a blackout, I turned the tub on and filled the bathtub and went out to purchase candles. Everything was orderly like nothing special had happened, I bought candles at the regular price, no price gouging, got a couple gallons of water (same thing).

When it got dark, there was no martial law invoked, people filled the streets drinking like at Mardi Gras. I witnessed no violence or looting on any level, people rather than frightened took it as an opportunity to relax, and just enjoy the event. It was like being in the wild on Safari.

At Union Square, the source of the anti-war movement in NYC, something like a Rave broke out with Tribal drumming that extended into the morning. Hundreds of People brought out blankets and candles and slept in the Park. If you needed help, you just asked. The same phenomena occured during the week of 9-11 albeit with a little more intensity and of course fear. There was no fear this time at all, more like elation.

In the 70’s the last time there was a blackout, there were riots, looting, murders and rapes a plenty, this time nothing.

Despite what may be being propagated by the media/entertainment machine, the exact opposite reality is manifesting before us, it is only being held in place by the electronic prison, it is a supeficial form of control that will not last much longer. Crisis determines the nature of the Man; and on two accounts I have witnessed a mass spontaneous expression of Love, courage and Compassion.


The Sydney Morning Herald reports:

(Reuters) — Portuguese health authorities said 1316 people had died from a heatwave that gripped the nation, news agency Lusa reported.

The figures were from a preliminary Health Ministry report on deaths between late July and August 12, Lusa said late yesterday. The estimate is based on a comparison with the same period last year.

The heatwave was the hottest and longest recorded in Portugal. It fanned the country’s worst forest fires in more than 20 years, which killed at least 15 people.

The heatwave affected much of Europe, causing forest fires and a number of deaths across the Continent.

The number of deaths in Portugal were less than during a 1981 heatwave and about the same as one in 1991 because of emergency measures put in place because of the fires, Lusa said.

Copyright 2003. The Sydney Morning Herald.


Amy Worthington, The Idaho Observer, reports:

On March 30, an AP photo featured an American pro-war activist holding a sign: “Nuke the evil scum, it worked in 1945!” That’s exactly what George Bush has done. America’s mega-billion dollar war in Iraq has been indeed a NUCLEAR WAR.

Bush-Cheney have delivered upon 17 million Iraqis tons of depleted uranium (DU) weapons, a “liberation” gift that will keep on giving. Depleted uranium is a component of toxic nuclear waste, usually stored at secure sites. Handlers need radiation protection gear.

Over a decade ago, war-makers decided to incorporate this lethal waste into much of the Pentagon’s weaponry. Navy ships carrying Phalanx rapid fire guns are capable of firing thousands of DU rounds per minute.(1) Tomahawk missiles launched from U.S. ships and subs are DU-tipped.(2) The M1 Abrams tanks are armored with DU.(3) These and British Challenger II tanks are tightly packed with DU shells, which continually irradiate troops in or near them.(4) The A-10 “tank buster” aircraft fires DU shells at machines and people on the battlefield.(5)

DU munitions are classified by a United Nations resolution as illegal weapons of mass destruction. Their use breaches all international laws, treaties and conventions forbidding poisoned weapons calculated to cause unnecessary suffering.

Phil Kloer, The Atlanta Journal-Constitution, reports:

From the nasty spam that clogs your e-mail account to the XXX video rental stores that have mushroomed all over metro Atlanta, the once underground pornography industry is now very much aboveground and impossible to avoid.

And profiting from that industry now are major corporations and mainstream entertainment companies, including network TV, movie studios and book publishers. Revenues for the porn industry — about $10 billion a year — now equal the domestic box office for all of Hollywood’s major film releases.

“You’re seeing a corporatization of pornography,” says Blaise Cronin, professor of information services at Indiana University and a former consultant to the Justice Department on Internet pornography laws. “You have major corporations involved in the distribution, and the profits are very high.”


HARTFORD, Conn. - When technology failed on a massive scale last week, some old-fashioned broadcasting stepped into the breach as ham radio operators took to the airwaves to reach emergency workers.

For millions of people in the Northeast and Midwest, the Aug. 14 outage took access to e-mail and the Internet with it. Landline and cellular telephones were jammed by a crush of calls.

But the ham radio, which came into being in the World War I era, connected firefighters and police departments, Red Cross workers and other emergency personnel during the most extensive blackout in the Northeast since 1977.

Susan Moran, The Rocky Mountain News Reports:

Give him wood chips, coconut husks, corncobs, even chicken litter, and Robb Walt will turn it into electricity and heat.

“This stuff is so cool!,” said the burly co-founder and chief executive of Community Power Corp., located just north of C-470 and just west of South Kipling Parkway in Jefferson County.

The company, founded in 1995, boasts it has developed the world’s first non-polluting biomass-based power generator - a gasifier, in engineer-speak. A small team of engineers is designing the machines - each resembling an industrial-size copy machine or larger - for homes, small businesses and schools, particularly those situated way off the grid.

Coalition Against War and Racism

End the Occupation of Iraq! Bring the Troops Home Now!

When: Noon, Saturday, August 23
Where: Federal Plaza - Adams & Dearborn
(This action will include a march to Chicago’s north side.)


  • The war in Iraq is NOT over. The U.S. has lost more troops in the second Gulf war than in the first — and the body count is rising daily.
  • Bush lied. Thousands of Iraqi died for a falsehood — non-existant weapons of mass destruction — and millions suffer from lack of water, food, shelter, the most basic human needs.
  • Politically connected companies like Haliburton, Brown & Root, Boeing and Bechtel are making millions as war profiteers, while U.S. troops and Iraqi civilions become mired in a deepening cycle of violence and hopelessness.
  • State governments are broke and officials are gutting health care and education — while military spending is soaring and our tax dollars bankroll the largest military machine in history.
  • The U.S. government continues to aggressively recruit Black and Latino youth for its war machine, while denying affirmative action to them at home and ignoring a national epidemic of police violence against people of color. This is a racist war in all aspects.
  • The Pentagon brass has told soldiers they could be court martialed for telling the truth about whats really going on in Iraq. While morale sinks lower daily, G.I.s are told they may not come home for months or longer, and we are now being told that the U.S. military occupation of Iraq may last for years.

(via Chiocago IndyMedia)


On August 9th, photographer Warren Justice looked up and saw these green auroras over Dauphin Lake, Manitoba.

(via SunSpotCycle)

(AFP) — The US military has acknowledged its troops in Iraq killed a Reuters cameraman in Iraq, saying they thought his camera was a rocket-propelled grenade launcher.

Navy Captain Frank Thorp, a spokesman for the chairman of the joint chiefs of staff, has given the explanation to Reuters in Washington.

Forty-three-year-old cameraman Mazen Dana was shot and killed on Sunday while filming near a US-run prison on the outskirts of Baghdad.

Witnesses say he was shot by soldiers on an American tank.


ANGELA DOLAND, Associated Press Writer , reports:

PARIS (AP) - Gravediggers were called back to work on a national holiday Friday to deal with the grim aftermath of a heat wave that left up to 3,000 dead in France.

With morgues full, authorities took over the vast storeroom of a Paris farmers’ market or kept bodies in refrigerated tents - as temperatures subsided throughout Europe, ending one of the most severe periods of intense heat on record across the continent.

Michelle Kessler, USA TODAY, reports:

Dalai Lama’s image enlightens publicity pitch

SAN FRANCISCO In a publicity pitch that approaches if not tops the most audacious of the dot-com boom, software maker is enlisting no less than the Dalai Lama.

On a poster with the Tibetan leader in meditative pose, it says it’s celebrating’s 100,000 “enlightened subscribers who have been freed from the boundaries of software.” The Dalai Lama sits below the headline: “There is no software on the path to enlightenment.”, perhaps the first successful Web services company to emerge from the dot-com crash, bought 500 tickets to a speech the Dalai Lama is giving in San Francisco. Afterward, it’s throwing a Tibet-themed party. Entertainment includes former Tibetan monk Robert Thurman the father of actress Uma Thurman and 1980s cover band Tainted Love.

(via TechDirt)
New York City Blackout

United States Patent 6,582,513
Linares , et al. June 24, 2003

Synthetic monocrystalline diamond compositions having one or more monocrystalline diamond layers formed by chemical vapor deposition, the layers including one or more layers having an increased concentration of one or more impurities (such as boron and/or isotopes of carbon), as compared to other layers or comparable layers without such impurities. Such compositions provide an improved combination of properties, including color, strength, velocity of sound, electrical conductivity, and control of defects. A related method for preparing such a composition is also described, as well as a system for use in performing such a method, and articles incorporating such a composition.

(via WIRED 11.09)

Kirk Semple, New York Times, reports:

A malicious computer program aimed at the most recent versions of the Microsoft Windows operating system rapidly spread around the world over the Internet yesterday, infecting tens of thousands of home computers and corporate networks.

Known by a variety of names including W32.Blaster, MSBlast and W32/Lovsan the viruslike program, called a worm, first appeared on Monday.

Even though the possibility of such an attack had been widely anticipated by computer security experts, the worm managed to take advantage of a vulnerability in a common component of Windows to invade numerous computer hard drives, where it was in position to impede operations and attack other computers.


This simple formula can calculate any binary or hexadecimal digit of pi without calculating the digits preceding it.

Stuff (NZ) reports:

New Zealand squid expert Steve O’Shea says he will mount a new expedition in July next year to film “sex-crazed” giant squid in the wild.

Dr O’Shea plans to film about 600m below the sea surface off the West Coast, after squirting squid pheromones, sexual scents, into the ocean.

The extracts of male and female giant squid sex organs will be squirted from a remotely-operated submersible, the latest New Scientist magazine reports.

He hopes the pheromone will attract squid long enough for a good opportunity to film them.

“These things come into New Zealand waters to breed,” Dr O’Shea said of the squid. “They’re sex-crazed”.

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