Tornadoes damage hundreds of Missouri homes, force closure of airport

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Tornadoes damage hundreds of Missouri homes, force closure of airport
May 19th, 2019 by 6FjUhLbu

Sunday, April 24, 2011

An EF4 tornado struck near St. Louis, Missouri Friday night, forcing the closure of Lambert-St. Louis International Airport and damaging over 2,700 buildings in St. Louis County. The National Weather Service also confirmed that an EF1 tornado touched down in neighboring St. Charles County and an EF2 touched down in Pontoon Beach, Illinois.

The city of Bridgeton, in North St. Louis County, was hit by the EF4 tornado. According to the National Weather Service, it was the most powerful tornado to touch down in the St. Louis region since 1967, with winds ranging from 166 and 200 miles (267 and 322 kilometres) per hour. Aftereffects of that tornado were also reported in Maryland Heights, Missouri.

One official estimated that anywhere from 50 to 200 homes in the Maryland Heights and Bridgeton areas incurred damage, but early numbers released by St. Louis County indicate that over 2,000 buildings in those two cities had suffered “noticeable damage,” which does not include minor damage. Around 30,000 people in the region did not have power Saturday, out of a total of 47,000 affected residents.

Authorities with search and rescue dogs went door-to-door Saturday, looking for possibly trapped residents. Aerial imagery was being used in damage assessment. Area residents unaffected by the tornado were assisting those that lost their homes, reported St. Louis television station KSDK.

The Harmann Estates neighborhood of Bridgeton was heavily damaged during the storm, with many residences losing roofs and siding. Officials have already condemned some of the subdivision’s homes. St. Louis County Executive Charlie Dooley reported 25 homes in Bridgeton and Berkeley, Missouri as being completely destroyed and an additional 35 as uninhabitable.

Granite City, Illinois was struck by the EF2 tornado, while New Melle, Missouri was hit by the EF1. Fourteen New Melle homes sustained minor damage, while four were heavily damaged.

The storm also caused the temporary shutdown of two major St. Louis highways. Portions of Interstate 70 and Interstate 270 were closed Friday night due to fallen power lines and storm debris. Both blocked sections have since reopened, but officials said it would take a few days to remove all the debris, which they pushed onto the roadsides.

Lambert-St. Louis International Airport, which is immediately west of Berkeley, suffered heavy damage Friday night from the same tornado, and was forced to halt all regular operations Saturday while crews worked to clear the affected terminals. Eight flights had been forced to land in Kansas City, Missouri Friday night due to the tornado. About 500 people were in Lambert Airport when the tornado hit. A Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) spokesperson said other US airports were not affected by Lambert’s shutdown. Lambert is not an airline hub and is significantly less busy than it was ten years ago.

In a Saturday press conference, Rhonda Hamm-Niebruegge, Lambert’s director, said the airfield and Terminal 2 were “fully functional,” but the main terminal’s Concourse C had been severely impacted by the storm. That terminal, which sustained the heaviest damage, serves Air Tran, American Airlines, Cape Air, and Frontier Airlines. The total cost of repairs at Lambert is expected to be in the millions of dollars, but Hamm-Niebruegge said the airport does not yet have a good estimate.

It was like being in a horror movie. Grown men were crying.

One passenger of a waiting plane at Lambert told KSDK that heavy winds pushed the aircraft about 20 feet (6.1 metres) while it was still attached to the gate. Two other planes on the tarmac were unable to return to the airport, so passengers were bused back. Five planes—four operated by American and one by Southwest Airlines—suffered damage, and some will undergo major repairs.

Some travelers inside the airport received medical attention for minor injuries caused by flying glass. A handful of people were transported to a local hospital for additional treatment, but all were later released. “We get to the terminal and lights were out, glass everywhere, blood everywhere from people had been cut,” recalled one witness. Another person at the airport reported, “The ceiling was falling. The glass was hitting us in the face. Hail and rain were coming in. The wind was blowing debris all over the place. It was like being in a horror movie. Grown men were crying.”

On Saturday, it was evident that Concourse C would not be open for some time, said Mayor of St. Louis Francis Slay. A large section of its roof was missing and around half of its windows had been blown out by the high winds. Debris and water from the storm were present inside the airport as crews worked to restore power and assess damage to the terminal. Missing windows had been boarded up, ruined carpet had been removed, and the control tower was functional by Saturday afternoon. The power was back on by 7:40 p.m. CDT (00:40 UTC) that evening.

The airport resumed outgoing flight services Sunday, although several incoming flights landed at Lambert Saturday evening. Slay said the airport will be running at 70 percent capacity until mid-week, depending on the availability of airline crew members and planes. Airlines using Concourse C will have their operations temporarily relocated, he added. On Sunday, Southwest was operating at normal capacity, while AirTran moved to Concourse B and canceled four of its eleven scheduled flights. A spokesperson for American said the airline would have planes ready for normal Monday operations. American had previously canceled all St. Louis flights scheduled for Sunday.

It was horrific and for that much damage to been done, to have no loss of life, is truly a blessing

On Saturday afternoon, Missouri Governor Jay Nixon arrived at Lambert and visited areas devastated by the tornado. He originally planned to tour Maryland Heights, Bridgeton, and Berkeley, but Nixon was only able to tour Berkeley due to an approaching line of storms. While in St. Louis, the governor said 750 Missouri homes had been damaged by Friday’s tornadoes and that federal assistance was forthcoming. Nixon reported that the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) was involved in assessing storm damage, as well as that US President Barack Obama had already contacted him, promising relief funds. US Representative Lacy Clay, said Saturday that he would brief Obama on the situation.

The state declared the affected areas of St. Louis County a disaster area. No one has reported serious injuries or deaths as a result of the storm, although some people were treated for minor injuries. “It was horrific and for that much damage to been done, to have no loss of life, is truly a blessing,” Slay said.

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Computer professionals celebrate 10th birthday of A.L.I.C.E.

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Computer professionals celebrate 10th birthday of A.L.I.C.E.
May 16th, 2019 by 6FjUhLbu

Wednesday, November 30, 2005File:Turing1.jpg

More than 50 programmers, scientists, students, hobbyists and fans of the A.L.I.C.E. chat robot gathered in Guildford, U.K. on Friday to celebrate the tenth birthday of the award winning A.I. On hand was the founder the Loebner Prize, an annual Turing Test, designed to pick out the world’s most human computer according to an experiment laid out by the famous British mathematician Alan Turing more then 50 years ago. Along with A.L.I.C.E.’s chief programmer Dr. Richard S. Wallace, two other Loebner prize winners, Robby Garner and this year’s winner, Rollo Carpenter, also gave presentations, as did other finalists.

The University of Surrey venue was chosen, according to Dr. Wallace, not only because it was outside the U.S. (A.L.I.C.E.’s birthday fell on the Thanksgiving Day weekend holiday there, so he expected few people would attend a conference in America), but also because of its recently erected statue of Alan Turing, who posed the famous A. I. experiment which inspired much of the work on bots like A.L.I.C.E. University of Surrey Digital World Research Centre organizers Lynn and David Hamill were pleased to host the event because it encourages multi-disciplinary interaction, and because of the Centre’s interest in interaction between humans and computers.File:ALICE Birthday Cake.jpg

Dr. Wallace gave a keynote address outlining the history of A.L.I.C.E. and AIML. Many people commented on the fact the he seemed to have moved around a lot in the last ten years, having lived in New York, Pennsylvania, San Francisco, Maine, Amsterdam and Philadelphia, while working on the Alicebot project. The A.L.I.C.E. and AIML software is popular among chat robot enthusiats primarily because of its distribution under the GNU free software license. One of Dr. Wallace’s PowerPoint slides asked the question, “How do you make money from free software?” His answer: memberships, subscriptions, books, directories, syndicated ads, consulting, teaching, and something called the Superbot.

Rollo Carpenter gave a fascinating presentation on his learning bot Jabberwacky, reading from several sample conversations wherein the bot seemed amazingly humanlike. Unlike the free A.L.I.C.E. software, Carpenter uses a proprietary learning approach so that the bot actually mimics the personality of each individual chatter. The more people who chat with Jabberwacky, the better it becomes at this kind of mimicry.

In another interesting presentation, Dr. Hamill related present-day research on chat robots to earlier work on dialog analysis in telephone conversations. Phone calls have many similarities to the one-on-one chats that bots encounter on the web and in IM. Dr. Hamill also related our social expectations of bots to social class structure and how servants were expected to behave in Victorian England. He cited the famous Microsoft paperclip as the most egregius example of a bot that violated all the rules of a good servant’s behavior.

Bots have advanced a long way since philanthropist Hugh Loebner launched his controversial contest 15 years ago. His Turing Test contest, which offers an award of $100,000 for the first program to pass an “audio-visual” version of the game, also awards a bronze medal and $2000 every year for the “most human computer” according to a panel of judges. Huma Shah of the University of Westminster presented examples of bots used by large corporations to help sell furniture, provide the latest information about automotive products, and help customers open bank accounts. Several companies in the U.S. and Europe offer customized bot personalities for corporate web sites.

Even though Turing’s Test remains controversial, this group of enthusiastic developers seems determined to carry on the tradition and try to develop more and more human like chat bots.Hugh Loebner is dedicated to carry on his contest for the rest of his life, in spite of his critics. He hopes that a large enough constituency of winners will exist to keep the competition going well beyond his own lifetime. Dr. Wallace says, “Nobody has gotten rich from chat robots yet, but that doesn’t stop people from trying. There is such a thing as ‘bot fever’. For some people who meet a bot for the first time, it can pass the Turing Test for them, and they get very excited.”

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Three hostages return home to Florida

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Three hostages return home to Florida
May 15th, 2019 by 6FjUhLbu

Sunday, July 13, 2008

Three American hostages – Marc Gonsalves, Thomas Howes, and Keith Stansell – that were being held in Colombia by FARC are now free. They are safely in Florida after their rescue by Colombian forces; 12 other hostages were rescued at the same time. They received care from the Brooke Army Medical Center in San Antonio before being sent home to their families. The men were taken captive when their drug surveillance plane went down in the jungles of Colombia in 2003 – more than 5 years ago. All three of the men were working for a subsidiary of Northrop Grumman Corporation at the time.

Keith Stansell emphasized that while he was grateful to be home, no one should “forget the people that are still there”. “Because of our rescue, there are fellow hostages that are still there,” Stansell said. He reminded those listening that some of the remaining hostages have already been in captivity for 10 years, in squalid conditions. “You wait for a day like yesterday and today, you know, for the end, you… you want it to end,” added Marc Gonsalves.

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Events cancelled at Humber due to college strike

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Events cancelled at Humber due to college strike
May 15th, 2019 by 6FjUhLbu

Wednesday, March 8, 2006

Due to the province-wide college strike, events at Humber College in Etobicoke, Ontario, Canada have been cancelled or delayed.

Latin Jazz Night, set to happen on Wednesday evening at 8:00 pm is cancelled, as is an Evening of Sketch Comedy, which was scheduled for Sunday, March 12 at 8:00 pm.

The Evening of Sketch Comedy is organized by students of the Humber School of Comedy. Humber is the only institution to offer comedy courses at a post-secondary or post-graduate level. The Evening is a part of students’ marks.

Theatre Humber’s production of The Rover has survived the axe. Set to play from Friday, March 31 – Saturday, April 8 at the Humber Theatre, it has been pre-emptively postponed.

Faculty of 24 colleges across the province went on strike as of Monday night, after no deal was made in continued collective bargaining.

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Stockholm chief prosecutor quashes arrest warrant for Wikileaks editor-in-chief

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Stockholm chief prosecutor quashes arrest warrant for Wikileaks editor-in-chief
May 15th, 2019 by 6FjUhLbu

Saturday, August 21, 2010

The arrest warrant issued for Wikileaks’ editor-in-chief Julian Assange has been quashed by Stockholm Chief Prosecutor Eva Finné, who said in a press release “I am of the opinion that there is no reason to suspect that he has committed a rape.” The press officer of the Swedish Prosecution Authority says that he is still suspected of molestation, and that neither police nor prosecutors have yet been able to contact Assange. Assange had this morning said that he was going to hand himself in to police but also said that the accusations against him were false. The investigation is continuing.

A warrant for Assange’s arrest was issued on Friday evening after the Stockholm police informed prosecutors that he had been accused of rape. According to Expressen’s sources two women between 20 and 30 years old are the alleged victims. Police and prosecutor Maria Häljebo Kjellstrand told Swedish news agency TT that the alleged molestation took place in Stockholm on the night of 13–14 August and the alleged rape happened “later” in Enköping. (Expressen’s sources say the alleged rape occurred on Tuesday.) Beyond that they have refused to comment. Sources told Expressen that the two women knew each other and “knew that they had been the victims of the same thing”. A source says that the women were afraid of Assange’s “position of power” and had been reluctant to make a formal report to the police. However, on Sunday one of his accusers was interviewed by Aftonbladet and denied that they were scared of Assange: “It is wrong to say that we were frightened of Assange and that we hadn’t wanted to report him for that reason. He’s not violent and I do not feel threatened by him.”

Assange was in Sweden last week to talk about his work and to defend Wikileaks’ publication of the Afghan War Diary, a set of tens of thousands of secret US military documents whose publication has angered the Pentagon and the Obama administration. He had also met Swedish Pirate Party leader Rickard Falkvinge and signed a deal in which the party agreed to provide Wikileaks with server space. The Pirate Party is continuing its cooperation with Wikileaks despite the allegations against Assange.

Assange has denied the allegations in e-mails to Swedish media and on Wikileaks’ Twitter feed, saying “the charges are without basis and their issue at this moment is deeply disturbing.” An official statement on the Wikileaks blog says: “We are deeply concerned about the seriousness of these allegations. We the people behind WikiLeaks think highly of Julian and he has our full support. While Julian is focusing on his defenses and clearing his name, WikiLeaks will be continuing its regular operations.”

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Putin will accept prime minister position if Medvedev wins

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Putin will accept prime minister position if Medvedev wins
May 14th, 2019 by 6FjUhLbu

Monday, December 17, 2007

Russian President Vladimir Putin said he will accept a nomination for Prime Minister of Russia, as Dmitry Medvedev has suggested he will do, if he wins the presidential election.

Meanwhile, the United Russia ruling party, which is backed by Putin, officially nominated Medvedev for presidency today. The intention was declared on December 10, being the long-awaited answer to the question on “Putin’s successor”. The next day Medvedev, who is the current deputy prime minister of the Russian government and the chairman in the board of directors of Gazprom gas giant, offered Putin the Prime Minister position in case of winning the election, which is forecasted to happen.

Today, United Russia, which has a majority in the country’s lower parliament, has held its VII convention where the nomination and Putin’s declared consent took place. 478 voting members backed Medvedev while one opposed. Medvedev is also backed by three other parties — A Just Russia, Agrarian Party of Russia and Civilian Power.

Recently there were speculations about Putin’s intention to become a head of Russia and Belarus alliance, which were speedily rejected by Putin’s representatives.

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PBS show asserts greenhouse gases, atmospheric pollutants dimming future

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PBS show asserts greenhouse gases, atmospheric pollutants dimming future
May 12th, 2019 by 6FjUhLbu

Saturday, April 22, 2006

This week, the Public Broadcasting Service aired a NOVA program titled “Dimming the Earth”, which presented research by leading scientists on the complex systems of our global climate and human activity’s effect on it. One of the largest interactions (or “inputs”) humans have with the atmosphere is the ever-increasing use of fossil fuels. Consumption has risen 2% per year for this decade.

Fossil fuels burnt in factories and automobiles send their waste into our atmosphere in two forms. The first is CO2 and other greenhouse gases, which have received substantial attention in the last few years because of the way they trap heat in the atmosphere. The second is the tiny particles of sulfur dioxide, soot and ash, which scientists call aerosols (basically smog). Research into understanding the negative health effects of air pollution has resulted in the development of catalytic converters for cars as well as devices to remove particulate solids from industrial waste before it reaches the air.

More recently, atmospheric scientists have come upon the phenomenon of the reduction of direct sunlight reaching Earth’s surface— observing a nearly a 5% decline between 1960 and 1990, with evidence of a recovery since then. This has been dubbed the “global dimming” effect, and is probably due to the way these aerosols act upon clouds. It is important to realise that this does not represent a net loss of this much sunshine to the climate system – if so, large temperature declines would have been observed. Instead, the sunshine is absorbed elsewhere in the system, with a much smaller net loss.

Clouds form when moisture gathers around airborne particles, such as pollen or dust. Clouds formed by the aerosol particles emitted by fossil fuel consumption are made of many more tiny droplets than “natural” clouds. These smog-created clouds have two notable effects: they shield sunlight from reaching Earth’s surface and, due to water’s reflective nature, the millions of tiny droplets suspended in them reflect light back into space, allowing even less light to reach Earth.

Many scientists now believe that global dimming caused by these pollutants has mitigated the temperature rises brought about by global warming. Over the last thirty years, Earth’s temperature has increased by about 0.5 oC.

In the absence of global dimming, however, the Earth might be 0.3 oC warmer than it currently is, suggesting that a “tug-of-war” exists between greenhouse gases and particulates released by burning fossil fuels. Efforts to mitigate the human health dangers of smog have allowed more heat into our atmosphere and brought about a sharper increase in global warming.

Dr. James E. Hansen, professor at Columbia University and the head of the Goddard Institute for Space Studies [1], believes that if we continue on our current pattern, this warming could be as much as five degrees in the next thirty years and ten to fourteen degrees over the course of the century. Such a temperature rise would devastate life on Earth, likely bringing on a cascade of self-reinforcing warming effects. Earth’s forests drying and burning, a steady thawing of the Greenland and arctic ice sheets, and, most dangerous of all, a release of the methane hydrates that are now frozen at the bottom of the oceans, could remake the planet into something inhospitable to human life. Dr. Hansen warns that, according to his research, man has just 10 years to reduce greenhouse gases before global warming and other responses to human activity by Earth’s climate reach a “tipping point”, becoming unstoppable.

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International participants showcase different industry cultures at 2008 Taipei Game Show

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International participants showcase different industry cultures at 2008 Taipei Game Show
May 11th, 2019 by 6FjUhLbu

Friday, January 25, 2008

B2B Trade Area of Taipei Game Show, criticized by trade buyers last year, but accompanied with 2008 Taiwan Digital Content Forum, moved to the second floor at Taipei World Trade Center for world-wide participants with a better exchange atmosphere this year.

Not only local OBMs (Softstar Entertainment, Soft-World International Corp., International Games System Corp., …, etc.) but also companies from New Zealand, Canada, Japan, Hong Kong, and South Korea showcased different specialists with multiple styles. Especially on South Korea, participated members from G? Trade Show (Game Show & Trade, All-Round, aka Gstar) showcased gaming industry of South Korea and the G? upcoming at this November with brochures.

In the 2-days Digital Content Forum, world-class experts not only shared industry experiences, members from Taiwan Gaming Industry Association also discussed and forecasted marketing models for gaming industry. With participations from governmental, industrial, and academical executives world-wide, this forum helps them gained precious experiences of digital content industry from several countries.

According to the Taipei Computer Association, the show and forum organizer, the digital content industry in Taiwan was apparently grown up recent years as Minister of Economic Affairs of the Republic of China Steve Ruey-long Chen said at Opening Ceremony yesterday. Without R&Ds from cyber-gaming, and basic conceptions from policies and copyright issues, this (digital content) industry will be fallen down in Taiwan. If this industry wanted to be grown up in sustainability, gaming OBMs in Taiwan should independently produce different and unique games and change market style to market brands and games to the world.

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Virginia Bill of Rights to deny legal status to same-sex and unmarried relationships

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Virginia Bill of Rights to deny legal status to same-sex and unmarried relationships
May 10th, 2019 by 6FjUhLbu

Friday, November 17, 2006

Virginia, United States — A ballot referendum to amend the Virginia Bill of Rights that denies to same-sex and unmarried couples any legal status that approximates that granted to married couples was approved by state voters during the U.S. midterm election by a 57% to 43% margin.

The Virginia result, along with voters from seven other U.S. states who decided on similar constitutional amendments, brings the total to 27 states that now constitutionally ban the recognition of same-sex unions at the state level. Arizona voters failed to pass a similar ballot initiative this election cycle, making it the first and only U.S. state to reject a constitutional ban.

Both the governor of Virginia, Tim Kaine, and Senator-elect, Jim Webb, publically opposed the amendment before the vote. Governor Kaine said the broad language against the recognition of the “legal status for relationships of unmarried individuals” within the referendum might have negative consequences on the state’s business climate. Further, that “it would invite protracted court challenges in areas including contracts, custody cases and end-of-life decisions.”

The Attorney General of Virginia, Robert F. McDonell argued that the rights of unmarried individuals are still protected, because such legal protections flow from common law, not solely from marriage.

However, the Bill of Rights is the basis and foundation of government. Thus, as discussed by Raymond A. Warren, any portion of common law that is determined by the seven-member Virginia Supreme Court to be in conflict with the amendment would no longer provide any such protection within Virginia.

The amendment establishes a section that explicitly prevents the government from recognizing the legal status of any relationships outside of heterosexual marriage. Though paragraph one of the amendment specifically bans same-sex marriage, paragraph two prevents the government from recognizing the legal status of any relationship of unmarried individuals that would in anyway approximate marriage.

That only a union between one man and one woman may be a marriage valid in or recognized by this Commonwealth and its political subdivisions.

This Commonwealth and its political subdivisions shall not create or recognize a legal status for relationships of unmarried individuals that intends to approximate the design, qualities, significance, or effects of marriage. Nor shall this Commonwealth or its political subdivisions create or recognize another union, partnership, or other legal status to which is assigned the rights, benefits, obligations, qualities, or effects of marriage.

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News briefs:June 8, 2010

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News briefs:June 8, 2010
May 9th, 2019 by 6FjUhLbu
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