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Unemployment Rates Rise in 21 States, Fall in 15

Unemployment rates climbed in 21 states last month, the most significant number of states to report an increase since August, the Labor Department said Friday.

Meanwhile, unemployment dropped in 15 states in November, remaining flat in the remaining 14 states. That makes for the weakest drop since August.

The numbers betray the job market’s struggle to bounce back despite an economic recovery.

The most significant increases in unemployment were in Georgia and Idaho. Georgia racked up a 10.1 percent unemployment rate, up from 9.8 percent, while Idaho’s jobless rate climbed from 9.1 percent to 9.4 percent.

Michigan and Pennsylvania showed the biggest signs of improvement. Michigan’s unemployment rate dropped from 12.8 percent to 12.4 percent, while Pennsylvania’s fell from 8.8 percent to 8.6 percent.

Posted in Finance, Accounting, & Investment, Labor & Employment0 Comments

Heating Oil Shortage in U.K.: Brits Deny Possible Rationing

A heating oil shortage in the United Kingdom reportedly has the government considering a rationing plan to get families through the winter.

Severe winter storms and inflated prices have been hitting U.K. heating oil users hard in recent weeks. An estimated 660,000 households, schools, hospitals, and other buildings without access to gas supplies are looking at a three- to four-week waiting period before they receive more fuel.

U.K. energy minister Charles Hendry said the situation could become “very serious indeed” if the fierce winter weather continues, SkyNews reported Friday.

Labour Member of Parliament Tom Watson went so far as to describe the situation as “an oil supply crisis.”

But despite reports that Mr. Hendry met with the oil supply industry to discuss the possibility of rationing, ministers say there are no plans to implement heating oil restrictions.

SkyNews quoted the Department of Energy and Climate Change as saying: “We are categorically not planning to introduce rationing of oil. Not now. Not in the near future. It’s not on the cards.”

Still, while members of Parliament didn’t use the word “rationing,” some observers believe that the subtext was there.

After all, on Thursday Energy Secretary Chris Huhne said the government was “attempting to ensure that people don’t have too much so there is enough to go around.”

On Friday the government announced its plans to relax laws for delivery drivers, giving them an extra hour to transport the much-needed oil to homeowners and businesses.

Meanwhile, oil prices edged up Friday on the New York Mercantile Exchange as the Republican-backed tax cut package made its way to President Barack Obama’s desk.

Investors hope that the bill, which seeks to prolong Bush-era tax cuts and extend jobless benefits, will stimulate the economy and raise consumer demand for oil.

Benchmark oil for January delivery was up 34 cents to $88.04 a barrel in midday trading, The Associated Press reported.

Heating oil rose 0.82 cent to $2.4845 a gallon, gasoline futures rose 2.65 cents at $2.3308 a gallon, and natural gas added 1 cent at $4.058 per 1,000 cubic feet, AP said.

The tax breaks implemented during George W. Bush’s presidency have a Jan. 1 expiration date, and the new measure would extend the cuts an additional two years. The bill would also enact a break in Social Security taxes and prolong a series of business tax cuts in an effort to promote investment.

Posted in Oil & Petroleum0 Comments

Oil Spill: U.S. Sues BP and Others for Deepwater Horizon Disaster

The Department of Justice is suing BP and eight other companies over the catastrophic oil spill that devastated the Gulf of Mexico region last April.

The United States filed a civil lawsuit in the U.S. District Court in New Orleans Wednesday, alleging that federal safety violations contributed to the largest offshore oil spill in U.S. history.

“We will not hesitate to take whatever steps are necessary to hold accountable those who are responsible for this spill,” Attorney General Eric Holder said in a press conference, according to the New York Times.

On April 20th, the Deepwater Horizon rig exploded and sank, killing the eleven workers onboard and leaving millions of gallons of crude oil spewing into the Gulf of Mexico from the well it was drilling. The leak was not sealed until July.

The 27-page complaint requests that the companies be held liable for removal costs and damages. While it does not mention a specific amount, the suit could cost BP and the other companies tens of billions of dollars, The New York Times reports.

“This is welcome and long overdue news to the fishermen and others who depend upon the Gulf of Mexico for their lives and livelihoods,” Waterkeeper Alliance, an environmental organization, said in a statement, according to UPI.

Aside from BP, the lawsuit also involves: Anadarko Exploration & Production LP and Anadarko Petroleum Corp.; MOEX Offshore 2007 LLC; Triton Asset Leasing GMBH, Transocean Holdings LLC, Transocean Offshore Deepwater Drilling Inc., and Transocean Deepwater Inc.; and QBE Underwriting Ltd.-Lloyd’s Syndicate 1036.

Posted in Drilling for Oil, Ecosystems, Fish, Oceans & Coastlines, Oil & Petroleum, Water Pollution, Well Drilling0 Comments

Contaminated Ducks Euthanized in Canada

Ducks in various locations around Canada have had to be euthanized recently after landing in polluted oil tailing ponds, Canadian authorities reported.

Officials stated that roughly 230 birds landed in a Syncrude tailing pond in Alberta on Monday, and came in contact with toxic extraction byproducts which necessitated euthanizing them.

Similar incidents occurred on Tuesday in facilities owned by Shell and Suncor.

A “small number of oiled birds” were euthanized on the advice of Alberta fish and wildlife authorities, Suncor officials announced, while Shell reported finding two dead birds and two other oiled birds in its tailing pond.

“We are cooperating fully with regulators and are working to minimize waterfowl losses,” Scott Sullivan, Syncrude president and CEO, said in a statement. “This is very unfortunate, especially given the significant efforts we have taken to improve our deterrent system.”

The deaths of the ducks at Syncrude’s pond came just days after Syncrude agreed to pay a $3 million penalty for the deaths of 1,600 ducks in another tailings pond in April 2008, CBC News reported.

A spokesman for Greenpeace said the industry should stop using tailings ponds.

“The fact is that these toxic tailings lakes pose an ongoing threat, not just to bird populations but to animals and to downstream communities as well,” Greenpeace Alberta campaigner Mike Hudema said.

Source: UPI

Posted in Animals, Birds, Oil & Petroleum0 Comments

News Galaxy Growth Method Described

MUNICH, Germany, Oct. 14 (UPI) — The first galaxies formed less than a billion years after the big bang and were much smaller than the giant ones we see today, European researchers say.

Somehow the average size of galaxies grew as the universe expanded, sometimes through collisions and merging to create new, larger ones.

Scientists with the European Southern Observatory have proposed another, gentler way galaxies may have increased in size, an ESO release said.

Young galaxies can also grow, they say, by sucking in cool streams of the hydrogen and helium gas that filled the early universe and using this primitive material to form new stars.

They compare the two processes to the ways a commercial company might grow, by merging with other companies or by hiring more staff. Similarly, researchers say, young small galaxies could grow in two different ways — by merging with other galaxies or by accreting, or “recruiting,” new material.

Scientists used ESO’s Very Large Telescope in Chile to study distant galaxies for signs of this process.

“The new results from the VLT are the first direct evidence that the accretion of pristine gas really happened and was enough to fuel vigorous star formation and the growth of massive galaxies in the young Universe,” team leader Giovanni Cresci says.

The discovery will have a major impact on our understanding of the evolution of the universe from the big bang to the present day, the researchers say.

Copyright 2010 United Press International, Inc. (UPI). Any reproduction, republication, redistribution and/or modification of any UPI content is expressly prohibited without UPI’s prior written consent.

Posted in Hydrogen, Other0 Comments

Study: CO2 is 'thermostat' for Earth

NEW YORK, Oct. 14 (UPI) — Water vapor and clouds are major factors in Earth’s greenhouse effect but carbon dioxide will always be the ultimate culprit, a U.S. study found.

The study, conducted by researchers at NASA’s Goddard Institute for Space Studies in New York, examined the nature of Earth’s greenhouse effect, which traps and holds outgoing infrared radiation, a NASA release said Thursday.

The researchers say non-condensing greenhouse gases like carbon dioxide, methane, nitrous oxide, ozone and chlorofluorocarbons are the core actors in the terrestrial greenhouse effect. Without them, scientists say, water vapor and clouds alone would not create the feedback mechanisms that amplify the greenhouse effect.

The study, lead author Andrew Lacis says, demonstrates “the direct relationship that exists between rising atmospheric carbon dioxide and rising global temperature.”

“The bottom line is that atmospheric carbon dioxide acts as a thermostat in regulating the temperature of Earth,” Lacis said. “It is not surprising then that global warming can be linked directly to the observed increase in atmospheric carbon dioxide and to human industrial activity in general.”

Copyright 2010 United Press International, Inc. (UPI). Any reproduction, republication, redistribution and/or modification of any UPI content is expressly prohibited without UPI’s prior written consent.

Posted in Other, Ozone, Radiation0 Comments

New Form of Uranium Created

LOS ALAMOS, N.M., Oct. 11 (UPI) — Scientists say a newly created form of uranium could lead to nuclear power plants small enough to power the family automobile.

Researchers at the Los Alamos National Laboratory have created a configuration of uranium nitride that one day could provide cheaper and safer nuclear fuel, ABC News reported Monday.

In the new molecule, the nitrogen atom is bonded to only one uranium atom, versus prior forms where the nitrogen atom has always been bonded to two or more uranium atoms.

Smaller, cheaper and even portable nuclear power plants could come out of the discovery, researchers say, using this form of uranium nitride as a next generation nuclear fuel.

“Actinide nitrides are candidate nuclear fuels of the future,” Jaqueline Kiplinger, a scientist at the Los Alamos National Laboratory who led the team of researchers, said.

While uranium’s radiation can be deadly, the new molecule contains only depleted uranium.

This makes is relatively harmless from a radiological standpoint and means it could be used in chemical and industrial applications, scientists say.

Copyright 2010 United Press International, Inc. (UPI). Any reproduction, republication, redistribution and/or modification of any UPI content is expressly prohibited without UPI’s prior written consent.

Posted in Nuclear, Other, Radiation0 Comments

Public Health Involves Personal Choices

LEICESTER, England, Oct. 12 (UPI) — Public health in the past involved government to control infectious diseases but health issues today involve personal choice, a British researcher said.

Elizabeth Murphy, head of the University of Leicester’s College of Social Science, said public health issues have previously been amenable to government intervention because it involved improving sanitation, air quality, or controlling infectious disease.

However, public health issues today involve decisions of personal choice such as smoking, drinking and diet, which affect medical issues such as cancer, cardiovascular disease and diabetes.

In her inaugural lecture, Murphy said, “It is possible within states committed to respect for the autonomy and privacy of individuals, to promote the health and welfare of the population without riding roughshod over individual choice and freedom.”

For example, her lecture explained data from a study about the choices mothers make about feeding their babies during the first two years of the infants’ lives, including whether to breastfeed or bottle feed, can affect public health for decades. She considers how mothers endorse, negotiate, resist, reconstruct and refuse expert advice about infant nutrition.

“I shall discuss the ways in which health-related lifestyle choices have become increasingly moralized so that failure to conform to expert advice about health-promoting behaviors raises questions about one’s standing as a fit and proper person,” Murphy said in a statement.

Copyright 2010 United Press International, Inc. (UPI). Any reproduction, republication, redistribution and/or modification of any UPI content is expressly prohibited without UPI’s prior written consent.

Posted in Other, Smoking0 Comments

Study: Aircraft Noise Bad for the Heart

BERN, Switzerland, Oct. 12 (UPI) — People living under airport flight paths and exposed to aircraft noise are at higher risk for heart attacks, a Swiss study says.

Other studies have linked negative health effects to living near flight paths and noisy roads, but the study could confirm whether sound, and not other factors like air pollution, is the main culprit Britain’s Daily Telegraph reported Monday.

“It’s been a problem that when you look at road traffic noise there are both high levels of noise and high levels of air pollution,” researcher Matthias Egger of the University of Bern said. “By looking at airports we were in a position to disentangle these effects.”

Egger and his team, using data from an ongoing mortality study called the Swiss National Cohort, studied 15,532 heart attack deaths among 4.6 million Swiss residents between late 2000 and the end of 2005.

Government records allowed researchers to determine the distance of individuals’ residences from airports and major roads, as well as relative levels of air pollution.

After factoring out air pollution and other data including education and income levels, they found both the level and duration of aircraft noise increased the risk of a heart attack.

People whose daily average exposure was at least 60 decibels had a 30 per cent greater risk of having a heart attack compared with those exposed to less than 45 decibels, the study found.

“Noise probably does have effects on health and it is important that we gain a better understanding of these,” Egger said.

Copyright 2010 United Press International, Inc. (UPI). Any reproduction, republication, redistribution and/or modification of any UPI content is expressly prohibited without UPI’s prior written consent.

Posted in Air Pollution, Other0 Comments

New Form of Uranium Discovered

LOS ALAMOS, N.M., Oct. 11 (UPI) — Scientists say a newly discovered form of uranium could lead to nuclear power plants small enough to power the family automobile.

Researchers at the Los Alamos National Laboratory have created uranium nitride, a long-sought molecule that could provide cheaper and safer nuclear fuel, ABC News reported Monday.

Smaller, cheaper and even portable nuclear power plants could come out of the discovery, researchers say, using uranium nitride as a next generation nuclear fuel.

“Actinide nitrides are candidate nuclear fuels of the future,” Jaqueline Kiplinger, a scientist at the Los Alamos National Laboratory who led the team of researchers, said.

While uranium’s radiation can be deadly, the new molecule contains only depleted uranium.

This makes is relatively harmless from a radiological standpoint and means it could be used in chemical and industrial applications, scientists say.

Copyright 2010 United Press International, Inc. (UPI). Any reproduction, republication, redistribution and/or modification of any UPI content is expressly prohibited without UPI’s prior written consent.

Posted in Nuclear, Other, Radiation0 Comments

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