Best Buy Co. Inc. said Thursday that it will close 50 big box stores this year and eliminate 400 jobs, mostly at its corporate headquarters, in a bid to boost profits amid declining stores sales in the United States.
The Richfield-based consumer electronics giant expects to save about $800 million in three years, including $250 million this year alone.
“I’m not satisfied with the pace of our transformation,” Dunn told analysts during a conference call.
The company has not yet finalized the list of stores to be closed, said spokeswoman Susan Busch.
As of noon, Best Buy stock has fallen nearly $2, or 8 percent, to $24.61, a sign investors are not impressed with Best Buy’s plan.
For the fourth quarter, Best Buy said it lost about $1.7 billion, or $4.89 per share, compared to a profit of $651 million, or $1.62 per share, during the same period a year ago. Sales at stores open for at least a year, a key measure of growth for retailers, fell 2.4 percent.
For the year, the company lost $1.2 billion, or $3.36 per share, compared to a profit of $1.3 billion, or $3.08 per share during fiscal 2011. Same-store sales declined 1.7 percent.
As consumer electronics have become more affordable and ubiquitous in recent years, Best Buy has lost sales to Amazon.com, Wal-Mart, Costco and Target. Last holiday season, the company acknowledged losing TV sales to other big-box stores, as well as retailers such as Staples and Office Depot.
In the past, as Best Buy’s stores lost market share, Dunn emphasized the retailer’s profit margins and driving sales through its multi-channel operations, including its website, mobile devices, phone centers and Geek Squad.
However, Dunn reversed course of late, telling invsetors that the company must instead focus on protecting its core store operations. And that means using promotions and discounts to fight Amazon and Wal-Mart for sales and market share.
In order to build out its multi-channel operations and to sell higher-value services to consumers, Best Buy must first drive shoppers to its stores, Dunn said.
“These changes will also help lower our overall cost structure,” Dunn in a statement. “We intend to invest some of these cost savings into offering new and improved customer experiences and competitive prices — which will help drive revenue. And, over time, we expect some of the savings will fall to the bottom line.”
The company said it expects to fully roll out this year its newly remodeled “connected” store formats in the Twin Cities and San Antonio. The formats feature “Central Knowledge Desks,” similar to the famous Genius Bars at Apple Stores where people can receive technical support and take classes.
Overall, Best Buy wants to reduce its retail square foot presence in those cities by 20 percent.
“We’re going to have more doors and less square footage,” Dunn said during the call.
He also left open the possibility that the retailer could close more big boxes in the future.
“I’m not wedded to a retail square footage” number, Dunn said.
Best Buy wants to speed up its digital sales, one of the company’s fastest growing businesses, but a relatively small unit compared to revenue from the company’s physical stores. Earlier this month, the retailer hired former Starbucks chief information officer Stephen Gillett to oversee its digital operations, including online and mobile offerings.
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At 5:52 p.m. ET Sunday (7:52 a.m. Monday, local time), James Cameron arrived at the Mariana Trench’s Challenger Deep, members of the National Geographic expedition have confirmed.
His depth on arrival: 35,756 feet (10,898 meters)—a figure unattainable anywhere else in the ocean.
Reaching bottom after a 2-hour-and-36-minute descent, the National Geographic explorer and filmmaker typed out welcome words for the cheering support crew waiting at the surface: “All systems OK.”
Folded into a sub cockpit as cramped as any Apollo capsule, the National Geographic explorer and frilmmaker is now investigating a seascape more alien to humans than the moon. Cameron is only the third person to reach this Pacific Ocean valley southwest of Guam (map)—and the only one to do so solo.
Hovering in what he’s called a vertical torpedo, Cameron is likely collecting data, specimens, and imagery unthinkable in 1960, when the only other explorers to reach Challenger Deep returned after seeing little more than the silt stirred up by their bathyscaphe.
After as long as six hours in the trench, Cameron—best known for creating fictional worlds on film (Avatar, Titanic, The Abyss)—is to jettison steel weights attached to the sub and shoot back to the surface. (See pictures of Cameron’s sub.)
Meanwhile, the expedition’s scientific support team awaits his return aboard the research ships Mermaid Sapphire and Barakuda, 7 miles (11 kilometers) up. (Video: how sound revealed that Challenger Deep is the deepest spot in the ocean.)
“We’re now a band of brothers and sisters that have been through this for a while,” marine biologist Doug Bartlett told National Geographic News from the ship before the dive.
“People have worked for months or years in a very intensive way to get to this point,” said Bartlett, chief scientist for the DEEPSEA CHALLENGE program, a partnership with the National Geographic Society and Rolex. (The Society owns National Geographic News.)
“I think people are ready,” added Bartlett, of the Scripps Institution of Oceanography in San Diego, California. “They want to get there, and they want to see this happen.”
(Video: Cameron Dive Is an Exploration First.)m
Rendezvous at Challenger Deep
Upon touchdown at Challenger Deep, Cameron’s first target is a phone booth-like unmanned “lander” dropped into the trench hours before his dive.
Using sonar, “I’m going to attempt to rendezvous with that vehicle so I can observe animals that are attracted to the chemical signature of its bait,” Cameron told National Geographic News before the dive.
He’ll later follow a route designed to take him through as many environments as possible, surveying not only the sediment-covered seafloor but also cliffs of interest to expedition geologists.
“I’ll be doing a bit of a longitudinal transect along the trench axis for a while, and then I’ll turn 90 degrees and I’ll go north and work myself up the wall,” said Cameron, also a National Geographic Society explorer-in-residence. (Listen: James Cameron on becoming a National Geographic explorer.)
Though battery power and vast distances limit his contact with his science team to text messaging and sporadic voice communication, Cameron seemed confident in his mission Friday. “I’m pretty well briefed on what I’ll see,” he said.
(Video: Cameron Dive First Attempt in Over 50 Years.)
Bullet to the Deep
To get to this point, Cameron and his crew have spent seven years reimagining what a submersible can be. The result is the 24-foot-tall (7-meter-tall) DEEPSEA CHALLENGER.
Engineered to sink upright and spinning, like a bullet fired straight into the Mariana Trench, the sub can descend about 500 feet (150 meters) a minute—”amazingly fast,” in the words of Robert Stern, a marine geologist at the University of Texas at Dallas.
Pre-expedition estimates put the Challenger Deep descent at about 90 minutes. (Animation: Cameron’s Mariana Trench dive compressed into one minute.)
By contrast, some current remotely operated vehicles, or ROVs, descend at about 40 meters (130 feet) a minute, added Stern, who isn’t part of the expedition.
Andy Bowen, project manager and principal developer of the Nereus, an ROV that explored Challenger Deep in 2009, called the DEEPSEA CHALLENGER “an extremely elegant solution to the challenge of diving a human-occupied submersible to such extreme depths.”
“It’s been engineered to be very effective at getting from the surface to the seafloor in as quick a time as possible,” said Bowen, of Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution, who also isn’t part of the current expedition.
And that’s just the idea, the DEEPSEA CHALLENGE team says: The faster Cameron gets there, the more time for science. (Read more about DEEPSEA CHALLENGE science.)
Pursuing speed and science in tandem makes the DEEPSEA CHALLENGER test dives—and even the Mariana Trench mission—perhaps as unorthodox as the sub itself.
Typically “you conduct a sea trial for a vehicle, you pronounce it fit for service, and then you develop a science program around it,” Cameron said before heading to the trench. “We collapsed that together into one expedition, because [we were] fairly confident the vehicle would work—and it is.”
Now, at the bottom of the trench, the sub’s custom-designed foam filling and the pressure-resistant shape of the “pilot sphere”—are helping protect Cameron from the equivalent of 8 tons pressing down on every square inch (1,125 kilograms per square centimeter). (Video: how sub sphere protects Cameron.)
Among the sub’s tools are a sediment sampler, a mechanical claw, a “slurp gun” for sucking up small sea creatures for study at the surface, and temperature, salinity, and pressure gauges.
While that might sound like a gearhead’s paradise, Cameron knows he’ll “have to be able to prioritize.”
“Is my manipulator working properly? Do I still have room in my sample drawer? And do I still have the ability to take a [sediment] core sample? … I only have [tools for] three sediment cores available on the vehicle, so I have to choose wisely when to use them.”
By contrast, the sub’s multiple 3-D cameras will be whirring almost continually, and not just for the benefit of future audiences of planned documentaries.
“There is scientific value in getting stereo images,” Cameron said, “because … you can determine the scale and distance of objects from stereo pairs that you can’t from 2-D images.”
But, Scripps’s Bartlett said, “it’s not just the video.” The sub’s lighting of deepwater scenes—mainly by an 8-foot (2.5-meter) tower of LEDs—is “so, so beautiful. It’s unlike anything that you’ll have seen from other subs or other remotely operated vehicles.”
(Video: Cameron Dive Is an Exploration First.)
The Search for Life
Right now it’s a mystery what Cameron is seeing, sampling, and filming at depth, in part because so little is known about the Challenger Deep environment.
The only glimpses scientists have had of the region, via two ROV missions, showed a seafloor covered in light gray, silky mud.
Cameron may be detecting subtle signs of life—burrows or tracks or fecal piles—said DEEPSEA CHALLENGE biological oceanographer Lisa Levin, also of Scripps, who’s monitoring the expedition from afar.
If the water’s clear, she added, Cameron may be seeing jellyfish or xenophyophores—giant, single-celled, honeycomb-shaped creatures already filmed in other areas of the Mariana Trench. (See “Giant ‘Amoebas’ Found in Deepest Place on Earth.”)
“If we get lucky,” Cameron said before the dive, “we should find something like a cold seep, where we might find tube worms.” Cold seeps are regions of the ocean floor somewhat like hydrothermal vents (video) that ooze fluid chemicals at the same temperature as the surrounding water.
Earlier this month, during a test dive near Papua New Guinea, Cameron brought back enormous shrimplike creatures from five miles (eight kilometers) down. At 7 inches (17 centimeters) long, the animals are “the largest amphipods ever seen at that kind of depth,” chief scientist Bartlett said. “And we saw one on camera that was perhaps twice that size.”
At Challenger Deep depths, though, the calcium animals need to form shells dissolves quickly. It’s unlikely—though not impossible—that Cameron is finding shelled creatures, but if he does, the discovery would be a scientific jaw-dropper.
Even if he uncovers “a rock with a shell limpet or some kind of bivalve in the mud”—such as a clam, perhaps—”that would be exciting,” Scripps’s Levin said.
Aliens of the Abyss
Expedition astrobiologist Kevin Hand, of NASA, imagines that the life-forms Cameron might be encountering could help fine-tune the search for extraterrestrial life.
For instance, scientists think Jupiter’s moon Europa could harbor a global ocean beneath its thick shell of ice—an ocean that, like Challenger Deep, would be lightless, near freezing, and home to areas of intense pressure. (See “Could Jupiter Moon Harbor Fish-Size Life?”)
By studying the wavelengths of light, or spectra, reflected off life-forms and sediments brought up by Cameron, Hand should get a better idea of which minerals are needed for life in such an environment. This, in turn, might help him design a space probe better able to detect signs of life on Europa.
“There’s an old adage in geology that the best geologist is the one that’s seen the most rocks,” said Hand, a National Geographic emerging explorer.
“I think astrobiology could have a similar adage, in that our best capability for finding life elsewhere—and knowing it when we see it—will come from having a comprehensive understanding of all the various extremes of life on Earth.”
And for UT Dallas’s Stern, DEEPSEA CHALLENGER’s rock-sampling capability offers the opportunity to better understand our planet’s inner workings.
“Challenger Deep is the deepest cut into the solid Earth,” Stern said, “and this gives us a chance to see deeper into the Earth than anywhere else.”
Once the trench-dive data, specimens, and imagery have been analyzed, National Geographic magazine plans to reveal the full results in a special issue on next-generation exploration in January 2013.
“A Turning Point”
By returning humans to the so-called hadal zone—the ocean’s deepest level, below 20,000 feet (6,000 meters)—the Challenger Deep expedition may represent a renaissance in deep-sea exploration.
While ROVs are much less expensive than manned subs, “the critical thing is to be able to take the human mind down into that environment,” expedition member Patricia Fryer said, “to be able to turn your head and look around to see what the relationships are between organisms in a community and to see how they’re behaving—to turn off all the lights and just sit there and watch and not frighten the animals, so that they behave normally.
“That is almost impossible to do with an ROV,” said Fryer, a marine geologist at the Hawai’i Institute of Geophysics & Planetology.
In fact, Cameron is so confident in his star vehicle that he started mulling sequels even before the trench dive.
Phase two might include adding a thin fiber-optic tether to the ship, which “would allow science observers at the surface to see the images in real time,” he said. “And phase three might be taking this vehicle and creating a second-generation vehicle.”
DEEPSEA CHALLENGE, then, may be anything but a one-hit wonder. To Bartlett, the Mariana Trench expedition could “represent a turning point in how we approach ocean science.
“I absolutely think that what you’re seeing is the start of a program, not just one grand expedition.”
It called Duplicata incompleta with caudal regression syndrome
This is a case of a 36-year-old G1 P0 who was treated for infertility for the past 16 years. This was her first pregnancy after in vitro-fertilization. It was a twin pregnancy after a transfer of two embryos.
Patient went into a preterm labor and delivered at 31 weeks of gestation. The first baby was a healthy boy of 1800 grams with Apgar scores 6/7/7 (1st/5th/10th minute).
The second baby had multiple malformations. The head showed signs of duplication with 2 pairs of eyes, double chin, wide mouth. The lower extremities were malformed with caudal regression syndrome. Our final diagnosis based on the clinical findings was duplicata incompleta; monocephalus diprosopus tetraophtalmos (“Diprosopus” means “two-faced” in Greek), so called monocephalic diprosopus.
NASA Confirms the 60-meter (197-feet) Asteroid Has a Good Chance of Colliding with Earth in Eleven Months
To avert a new apocalypse – this time set for February 2013 – scientists suggest confronting asteroid 2012 DA14 with either paint, or big guns. The tough part of either scheme is that time has long run out to build a spaceship for any operation.
NASA confirms the 60-meter (197-feet) asteroid, spotted by Spanish stargazers in February, has a good chance of colliding with Earth in eleven months.
The rock’s closest approach to the planet is scheduled for February 15, 2013, when the distance between the planet and space wanderer will be under 27,000 km (16,700 miles). This is lower than the geosynchronous orbit kept by the Google Maps satellite.
Fireworks and watercolors
With the asteroid zooming that low, it will be too late to do anything with it besides trying to predict its final destination and the consequences of impact.
A spaceship is needed, experts agree. It could shoot the rock down or just crash into it, either breaking the asteroid into debris or throwing it off course.
“We could paint it,” says NASA expert David Dunham.
Paint would affect the asteroid’s ability to reflect sunlight, changing its temperature and altering its spin. The asteroid would stalk off its current course, but this could also make the boulder even more dangerous when it comes back in 2056, Aleksandr Devaytkin, the head of the observatory in Russia’s Pulkovo, told Izvestia.
Whatever the mission, building a spaceship to deal with 2012 DA14 will take two years – at least.
The asteroid has proven a bitter discovery. It has been circling in orbit for three years already, crossing Earth’s path several times, says space analyst Sergey Naroenkov from the Russian Academy of Sciences. It seems that spotting danger from outer space is still the area where mere chance reigns, while asteroid defense systems exist only in drafts.
Still, prospects of meeting 2012 DA14 are not all doom and gloom.
“The asteroid may split into pieces entering the atmosphere. In this case, most part of it will never reach the planet’s surface,” remarks Dunham.
But if the entire asteroid is to crash into the planet, the impact will be as hard as in the Tunguska blast, which in 1908 knocked down trees over a total area of 2,150 sq km (830 sq miles) in Siberia. This is almost the size of Luxembourg. In today’s case, the destination of the asteroid is yet to be determined.
JEFFERSON CITY, Mo. – A central Missouri teenager who confessed to strangling, cutting and stabbing a 9-year-old girl because she wanted to know how it felt to kill someone was sentenced Wednesday to life in prison with the possibility of parole.
Alyssa Bustamante, 18, pleaded guilty in January to second-degree murder and armed criminal action in the October 2009 slaying of Elizabeth Olten in St. Martins, a small rural town west of Jefferson City.
Bustamante had been charged with first-degree murder and by pleading guilty to the lesser charges she avoided a trial and the possibility of spending her life in an adult prison with no chance of release.
Bustamante was 15 years old when she confessed to strangling Elizabeth, repeatedly stabbing her in the chest and slicing the girl’s throat. She led police to the shallow grave where she had concealed Elizabeth’s body under a blanket of leaves in the woods behind their neighborhood.
The teenager’s defense attorneys had argued for a sentence less than life in prison, saying Bustamante’s use of the antidepressant Prozac had made her more prone to violence. They said she had suffered from depression for years and once attempted suicide by overdosing on painkillers.
But prosecutors sought a longer sentence. They noted that Bustamante had dug two graves several days in advance, and that on the evening of the killing had sent her younger sister to lure Elizabeth outside with an invitation to play. Missouri State Highway Patrol Sgt. David Rice testified that the teenager told him “she wanted to know what it felt like” to kill someone. Prosecutors also cited journal entries in which Bustamante described the exhilaration of killing Elizabeth.
“I strangled them and slit their throat and stabbed them now they’re dead,” Bustamante wrote in her diary, which was read in court by a handwriting expert. “I don’t know how to feel atm. It was ahmazing. As soon as you get over the ‘ohmygawd I can’t do this’ feeling, it’s pretty enjoyable. I’m kinda nervous and shaky though right now. Kay, I gotta go to church now…lol.”
Bustamante then headed off to a youth dance at her church while a massive search began for the missing girl.
Canadian singles who use Android phones are more likely to have sex on a first date and partake in one-night stands, in comparison to those with other types of smartphones, according to a results of a survey.
The survey, conducted by polling firm Zoomerang for dating website Match.com, found 62 per cent of singles it asked who use Android devices, have had sex on a first date, compared with 57 per cent of iPhone users and 48 per cent of BlackBerry users.
At 55 per cent, Android users also were the most likely to have one-night stands. According to the survey results, 50 per cent of iPhone users have had a one-night stand and 47.6 per cent of Blackberry users said also they had had a one-night stand.
Android users also were the most active visitors of dating websites, at 72 per cent. That compared to 58 per cent of those with iPhones and 50 per cent of people who have BlackBerrys.
Those with an iPhone were most likely to date a co-worker, with nearly a quarter of such singles saying they’ve had a workplace romance within the last five years.
BlackBerry users — at 72 per cent — were the most likely to drink alcohol on a first date.
The survey found 75 per cent all these singles indicate that email and texting had “significantly improved their dating life.”
“Thanks to social networking and online dating, our love lives and our digital lives have never been more intertwined,” Match.com said in release about its survey.
Still, it had a few warnings about dating in this high-tech environment: don’t get distracted by your cellphone while on a date; don’t be too quick to make your new love interest a Facebook friend; don’t use a social network to introduce your new mate to friends and family; and sometimes actually call the person rather than sending email or texts.
The results were based on Internet surveys conducted with 1,068 Canadian singles from Oct. 13 to 15. No margin of error was provided.
“Early 2011″ – “The FBI contacted New Zealand Police in early 2011 with a request to assist with their investigation into the Mega Conspiracy.” said Detective Inspector Grant Wormald of OFCANZ
28-OCT-2011 – MegaUpload labelled a ‘rogue’ site by MPAA.
The MPAA has submitted a new list of “notorious websites” to the Office of the US Trade Representative, sites that are all in danger of becoming the target of planned U.S. legislation. The list contains the most-visited torrent sites including The Pirate Bay, file-hosting and linking sites such as MegaUpload, and Russia’s Facebook equivalent, VKontakte. Interestingly, file-hosting service RapidShare is absent from the filing.
09-DEC-2011 – MegaUpload releases a music video with RIAA artists endorsing MegaUpload.
MegaUpload is currently being portrayed by the MPAA and RIAA as one of the world’s leading rogue sites. But top music stars including P Diddy, Will.i.am, Alicia Keys, Snoop Dogg and Kanye West disagree and are giving the site their full support in a brand new song. TorrentFreak caught up with the elusive founder of MegaUpload, Kim Dotcom, who shrugged off “this rogue nonsense” and told us he wants content owners to get paid.
10-DEC-2011 – UMG doesn’t like the video. Has it removed from YouTube.
Earlier today, Megaupload released a pop video featuring mainstream artists who endorse the cyberlocker service. News of the controversial Mega Song even trended on Twitter, but has now been removed from YouTube on copyright grounds by Universal Music. Kim Dotcom says that Megaupload owns everything in the video, and that the label has engaged in dirty tricks in an attempt to sabotage their successful viral campaign.
12-DEC-2011 – MegaUpload files suit against UMG on the grounds that UMG cannot remove the content as MegaUpload holds the copyright, not UMG.
File-hosting service Megaupload has told TorrentFreak that it will sue Universal for wrongfully taking down its content from YouTube. Universal took action Friday to remove a Megaupload-produced pop video which featured leading artists singing the cyberlocker service’s praises. The move has also prompted the company to enter the SOPA debate, with a call for like-minded people to join forces and fight for an Internet without censorship.
16-DEC-2011 – UMG says “So what? We can take down whatever we want!” and “You can’t touch us. This isn’t DMCA. We didn’t take it down because of copyright. We took it down because we can.”
A week ago today, Megaupload’s now-famous Mega Song was on its way to becoming a viral hit, only to be cut down from YouTube by a Universal Music takedown demand. Following the filing of a Megaupload lawsuit the song is back online, but Universal are standing firm. You can’t touch us on DMCA grounds, the label says in a new filing, adding it can take down any material, even if it doesn’t infringe their rights.
21-DEC-2011 – MegaUpload labelled a “rogue” site by the USTR.
The US Government has classified some of the largest websites on the Internet as examples of sites which sustain global piracy. The list released by the United States Trade Representative draws exclusively on input from rightsholders. It includes popular torrent sites such as The Pirate Bay, file-hosting service Megaupload and Russia’s leading social network VKontakte.
28-DEC-2011 – MegaUpload wants an explaination from UMG.
In their 18-page response filing at the US District Court for Northern Californian earlier this month, not once did Universal Music say why they forced YouTube to remove Megaupload’s Mega Song. Since that’s what the dispute between the two companies is all about, that was a pretty strange event. In a new filing, Megaupload makes it clear that it isn’t going to be brushed aside. The cyberlocker wants answers, and it will dig deep to get them.
19-JAN-2012 – MegaUpload shut down by Feds
MegaUpload, one of the largest file-sharing sites on the Internet, has been shut down by federal prosecutors in Virginia. The site’s founder Kim Dotcom and three others were arrested by the police in New Zealand at the request of US authorities. MegaVideo, the streaming site belonging to same company, and a total of 18 domains connected to the Mega company were seized and datacenters in three countries raided.
I saw this at
I dont usually post shit like this.. but wow lol.. How do you trip into a lifeboat ?
The captain of the Italian cruise ship gave a slapstick explanation of how he ended up safely in a lifeboat instead of going down with his ship, saying he tripped and fell into the boat as it was being lowered into the sea, Italian media reported today.
“I had no intention of escaping,” Francesco Schettino, 52, said during his first court hearing Tuesday, according to Italy’s Corriere della Sera newspaper.
“I was helping some passengers put the life boat to sea. At a certain point the mechanism for lowering it, blocked. We had to force it. Suddenly the system unblocked itself and I tripped and I found myself inside the life boat with a number of passengers.”
Once in the lifeboat that was lowered into the sea, Schettino insisted to the court that it was “impossible to go back onboard.”
The captain also reportedly admitted to the court that he lied at one point when he assured officials that he had dropped anchor shortly after the Costa Concordia slammed into a rock to stabilize the luxury liner.
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However a video by the Guardia di Finanza who arrived onsite 10 minutes after the disaster clearly shows that the anchor had not been lowered. Schettino admitted Tuesday that he lied about the anchor, the newspaper reported.
The luxury cruise ship was carrying more than 4,000 passengers and crew when it struck rocks Friday evening near Giglio off the coast of Tuscany, during a close pass to shore. At least 11 people were killed in the aftermath when the ship keeled over. Nearly two dozen people are still missing, including an American couple from Minnesota.
Schettino reportedly admitted that he made mistakes that led to the crash and afterwards, but said the ship’s course, including the now-controversial close pass, had been set from the beginning. The cruise line previously said Schettino had made an unauthorized deviation from the programmed route.
Schettino, who is currently under house arrest, is under investigation for potentially causing the wreck by steering into the rocks and then abandoning the panicked passengers for a lifeboat as the ship plunged over on its side. In recorded radio transmissions released Tuesday, Schettino is heard telling Italian Port Authority officials he and other officers abandoned ship.
“And with 100 people still on board, you abandon ship? [expletive],” the Port Authority officer says in response.
Schettino appears to correct himself, saying, “I didn’t abandon any ship… because the ship turned on its side quickly and we were catapulted into the water.”
The recording goes on to show the Port Authority official repeatedly berating Schettino for not going back to the ship to coordinate rescue efforts, and at one point ordering Schettino to “get back on board for [expletive]‘s sake!”
Italians appear divided on how to view the embattled cruise captain.
Some, like Schettino’s neighbor, said he “is a hero who saved over 4,000 people,” Italy’s ANSA news outlet reported. Schettino’s wife said Tuesday her husband made some quick decisions after the initial impact that helped save passenger’s lives.
“It is for this reason that we feel the need to strongly reject any attempt to delegitimize him and ask you to understand his tragedy and personal drama,” Fabiola Russo told reporters Tuesday.
In editorials in Italian newspapers, however, Schettino was heavily criticized, one calling him the “coward captain” and another saying the incident shows the Italian national character with its greatness and “all its shortcomings.”
Online Facebook groups have reportedly emerged on either side of the argument.
On December 22, Aarifa was admitted to Lahore’s CMH hospital after suffering cardiac arrest. On Thursday, doctors said there is no hope for her survival, and that her life support could be switched off ‘at any time’.
Aarifa’s father, Lt Col (Retd) Amjad Karim Randhawa told The Express Tribune that she had suffered an epileptic attack, which caused severe brain and heart damage. Randhawa said “only a miracle will allow my brilliant, genius daughter to live now”.
After the news of Aarifa’s condition emerged, Punjab Chief Minister Shahbaz Sharif took notice and offered economic support to the family, but they have refused to take the money.
When Aarifa, now 16, was given the title of a Microsoft professional as a young child, she visited the company’s headquarters in the US. When she met Bill Gates himself, she had two questions: Why weren’t children allowed to work for Microsoft, and why such few women worked for the organisation.
Her love for technology, however, started long before she was recognised internationally. After discovering computers for the first time at the age of five, she pestered her father for a personal computer, and after that there was no looking back.
Aarifa’s father recalled the year in which his daughter passed the test which enabled her to be declared the youngest professional certified by Microsoft in the world. “When she passed the test at age nine, everyone thought the result was wrong,” he reminisced. She wanted to make software just like Bill Gates, he added. She would say that she wanted to work for children and poor people.
Proudly, he said she came from a ‘low-profile’ family, but she would always say she wanted to study all over the world and then come back to help the people in her village. Her dreams were never for herself alone.
Aarifa’s achievements go far beyond recognition from Microsoft alone. The 16-year-old, a student of Lahore Grammar School’s Paragon campus, has represented Pakistan in various international forums. In 2005, the child prodigy received the Fatimah Jinnah Gold Medal from the government as well as the Salaam Pakistan Youth Award. In addition, she has received the president’s award for Pride of Performance, medals from IT professionals around the world, and also became a brand ambassador for PTCL in 2010.
Her talents however, are versatile. Besides excelling in the field of science and technology, Aarifa also flew a plane at the age of 10.
Aarifa’s life hangs in the balance, and while most have given up hope, her father says: “I am praying and I want everyone to pray for her”. (WITH ADDITIONAL INPUT FROM THE NEWS DESK)
Wendy’s is investing $200 million on a return to Japan after leaving the country in 2009, according to Bloomberg.
The signature burger of this venture is a $16 Foie Gras Rossini, aka the Premium Sandwich.
Judging from the picture below it features the traditional square beef patty topped with foie gras topped with perhaps truffle butter. The word Rossini refers to Tournedos Rossini, a French dish involving filet mignon and foie gras that was purportedly created for the gourmand Italian composer Gioachino Rossini.
The burger and other upscale dishes will sell in Tokyo’s Omotesando luxury shopping district at the first of 100 targeted stores.
Foie gras is made from the liver of a goose or duck that has been force fed to make it fat. Presumably this dish would not work in America, where the average person doesn’t like the sound of goose liver pate, and where animal rights groups are outraged by the dish, leading to several state bans. In Japan, however, people who have the stomach and the conscience to eat raw fish and whale meat can probably handle foie gras.
McDonald’s has already shown the value of dramatic localization around the world. Still Wendy’s is taking rebranding to a new level.
After two decades of research, a group of Canadian scientists has won approval to start testing an experimental HIV vaccine on humans.
The vaccine, developed by researchers at the University of Western Ontario, has received a green light from the U.S. Food and Drug Administration for clinical human trials.
Beginning in January, the vaccine will be given to 40 healthy people with HIV to test its safety.
Dr. Chil-Yong Kang, professor of virology at the Schulich School of Medicine and Dentistry at the University of Western Ontario, called the FDA approval a “milestone.”
“We started the basic science research two decades ago,” Kang said. “The vaccine development, we started 10 years ago. This is incredible for us to get to this stage of development.”
Kang said the vaccine, called SAV001, is the first preventative HIV vaccine approved for clinical trials to use a killed whole HIV-1 virus to activate the immune response in humans.
The strategy has been used before to develop successful vaccines for influenza, polio, rabies and hepatitis A. Kang said these past successes for other viral diseases provide hope the Canadian-developed vaccine will work against HIV.
The human immunodeficiency virus used in the vaccine has been genetically altered to render it non-pathogenic, or unable to cause disease. Kang and his research team then further inactivated the virus using chemicals and radiation.
“In the past, people did not use this strategy (using a killed whole HIV virus) because people did not know how to make a safer virus and people did not know how to make large quantities of it,” Kang said. “Now we have solved those problems by the genetic engineering of the virus.”
According to the International AIDS Vaccine Initiative, there are 30 HIV vaccines currently being tested in phase 1 clinical trials around the world.
Many of these vaccines have largely focused on using one specific component of the human immunodeficiency virus to trigger an immune response. Other vaccines have used other viral vectors to create a vaccine. Right now, there is no effective HIV vaccine.
Dr. Jonathan Angel, president of the Canadian Association for HIV Research, whose research is funded by the Canadian Institutes of Health Research, said it is exciting that a Canadian scientist’s work has progressed from the basic research level to a vaccine approved for human clinical trials, meeting the rigorous criteria of the FDA.
But he also cautioned that developing an effective HIV vaccine remains a daunting task because HIV is a complex virus that scientists do not yet completely understand.
Should the SAV001 be proven safe, the vaccine will enter the second phase of clinical trials, in which it will be tested on 600 HIV-negative volunteers at high risk for HIV infection. Researchers will measure the volunteers’ immune response to the vaccine.
The third and final phase would enroll 6,000 HIV-negative volunteers at high risk for the disease. The participants, half of whom would be vaccinated and half un-vaccinated, would be tracked for three years to see how many in each group became infected with HIV.
Kang and his team received funding from Sumagen Canada, a company created in 2008 to support the development of the vaccine and a subsidiary of a Korean-based pharmaceutical venture company.
A Dutch architectural firm has apologized for its design of twin skyscrapers in central Seoul which resemble the exploding World Trade Center towers in New York and have infuriated families of the victims of the 9/11 attacks.
The blueprint for the luxury apartment buildings was released last week and shows a structure which juts out at the middle to accommodate pools, restaurants, cafes and a gym.
Relatives of victims of al Qaeda’s September 11, 2001, attacks on the United States have expressed outrage, according to U.S. media reports, saying the designers have no respect for those that died and branding the design a cheap publicity stunt.
Designer MVRDV said it had not intended to create an image resembling the attacks, and it did not see the resemblance during the design process.
“We sincerely apologize to anyone whose feelings we have hurt. It was not our intention,” the company said on its website.
It did not indicate whether it would change the design….
Have you used Ticketmaster in the last 12 years? If so, you can file a claim to receive a share of a long-awaited class action settlement with Ticketmaster for charging excessive and deceptive processing fees.
The Ticketmaster settlement will resolve a class action lawsuit, entitled Curt Schlesinger, et al. v. Ticketmaster, that alleges Ticketmaster’s Order Processing Fees and UPS Expedited Delivery prices of tickets are excessive and deceptive.
The Ticketmaster class action lawsuit claims the company deceived and misled customers into believing that its Order Processing Fee was a pass-through of the amount that UPS charged Ticketmaster for that delivery when it was actually a profit generator for Ticketmaster. The Ticketmaster class action lawsuit also asserts that Ticketmaster’s UPS delivery charges are excessive and deceptive.
Ticketmaster denies any wrongdoing but has agreed to settle the case to avoid ongoing litigation.
The Ticketmaster class action settlement includes all U.S. residents who purchased tickets on Ticketmaster.com between October 21, 1999 and October 19, 2011 and paid money to Ticketmaster for an Order Processing Fee (OPF) that was not refunded. It also includes a subclass of all Class Members who paid a delivery price for expedited delivery for their tickets via UPS.
The Ticketmaster fee settlement will provide discount codes that can be used for future purchases for U.S. events from Ticketmaster.com. For each transaction you made during the Class Period, you will receive one discount code via email for a $1.50 discount, up to a maximum of 17 codes. The codes may be combined up to a maximum of two credits ($3.00).
Class Members who also fall under the UPS Subclass will also receive one UPS code for $5.00 off expedited delivery fees on purchases from Ticektmaster.com for each transaction they made using UPS delivery of their tickets during the Class Period, up to 17 transactions.
All Class Members will automatically receive these benefits from the Ticketmaster fee class action settlement via email at the addresses associated with their Ticketmaster account if the settlement is approved at the May 29, 2012 Final Approval Hearing. If you have not received a Ticketmaster Class Action Settlement email yet and believe you are a Class Member, contact the Settlement Administrator at email@example.com to update your email address.
The deadline to opt out of the Ticketmaster settlement is February 16, 2012.
More information on your rights in the Ticketmaster Fee Class Action Lawsuit Settlement can be found at www.TicketFeeLitigation.com.
Researchers at the Albert Einstein College of Medicine (AEC) have found evidence that certain fungi possess another talent beyond their ability to decompose matter: the capacity to use radioactivity as an energy source for making food and spurring their growth.
Detailing the research in Public Library of Science ONE, AEC’s Arturo Casadevall said his interest was piqued five years ago when he read about how a robot sent into the still-highly-radioactive Chernobyl reactor had returned with samples of black, melanin-rich fungi that were growing on the ruined reactor’s walls. “I found that very interesting and began discussing with colleagues whether these fungi might be using the radiation emissions as an energy source,” explained Casadevall.
Casadevall and his co-researchers then set about performing a variety of tests using several different fungi. Two types – one that was induced to make melanin (Crytococcus neoformans) and another that naturally contains it (Wangiella dermatitidis) – were exposed to levels of ionizing radiation approximately 500 times higher than background levels.
Both of these melanin-containing species grew significantly faster than when exposed to standard background radiation.
“Just as the pigment chlorophyll converts sunlight into chemical energy that allows green plants to live and grow, our research suggests that melanin can use a different portion of the electromagnetic spectrum – ionizing radiation – to benefit the fungi containing it,” said co-researcher Ekaterina Dadachova.
Investigating further, the researchers measured the electron spin resonance signal after melanin was exposed to ionizing radiation and found that radiation interacts with melanin to alter its electron structure. This, they believe, is an essential step for capturing radiation and converting it into a different form of energy to make food. Until now, melanin’s biological role in fungi – if any – had been a mystery. Interestingly, the melanin in fungi is no different chemically from the melanin in our skin, leading Casadevall to speculate that melanin could be providing energy to skin cells.
And radiation-munching fungi could be on the menu for future space missions. “Since ionizing radiation is prevalent in outer space, astronauts might be able to rely on fungi as an inexhaustible food source on long missions or for colonizing other planets,” noted Dadachova.