May 1, 2008

Giant Squid Has Largest Eyes in the World

Marine scientists, who are studying the carcass of a rare colossal squid in New Zealand, said Wednesday they had measured its eye at about 11 inches across -- bigger than a dinner plate -- making it the largest animal eye on Earth, reports the New York Times.

One of the squid's two eyes was found intact as the scientists examined the creature while it was defrosted at New Zealand's national museum, Te Papa Tongarewa. It has been preserved there since being caught in the Ross Sea off Antarctica's northern coast last year. Reportedly, the eye lense is the size of an orange.

''This is the only intact eye (of a colossal squid) that's ever been found. It's spectacular,'' said Auckland University of Technology squid specialist Kat Bolstad.

''It's the largest known eye in the animal kingdom,'' Bolstad told The Associated Press.

"The squid is the biggest specimen ever caught of the rare and mysterious deep-water species Mesonychoteuthis hamiltoni, or colossal squid. When caught, it measured 26 feet long and weighed about 1,000 pounds, but scientists believe the species may grow as long as 46 feet," reported the New York Times.

''This is the largest eye ever recorded in history and studied,'' said Swedish Professor Eric Warrant of the University of Lund, who specializes in vision in invertebrates. ''It has a huge lens the size of an orange and captures an awful lot of light in the dark depths in which it hunts.''

The squid was determined to be a female Wednesday in the scientists blog. They used an endoscope to examine the stomach and other organs. The squids can descend to 6,500 feet and are known to be aggressive hunters.

''We just found the ovaries -- the specimen is a girl! The ovaries are full of several thousands of eggs!'' the entry said.

Accordng to Bolstad, the females are believed to grow larger than the male.

April 17, 2008

MDC Calls for Mbeki to Stand Down

Zimbabwe's opposition has called on South African President Thabo Mbeki to stand down as a mediator after the elections crisis, reports the BBC.

MCD opposition leader Morgan Tsvangirai said Mbeki, should be "relieved of duty." The MDC has accused Mbeki of failing to pressure President Robert Mugabe.

"Tsvangirai also said the UN should consider an international crimes court to try rights abuses in Zimbabwe.
Zimbabwe's government earlier accused Mr Tsvangirai of treason," reported the BBC.

Tsvangirai says he won the recent presidential election outright, but the results have not been published.

He told a news conference in Johannesburg: "We want to thank President Mbeki for all of his efforts but President Mbeki needs to be relieved of his duties."

Tsvangirai said Mugabe had "unleashed an orgy of violence against the people".

Tsvangiari believes a UN crimes court, similar to those in Sierra Leone and the Democratic Republic of Congo, is needed in South Africa.

"As I speak, our people are being murdered, homes burned, children molested, women raped," he said.

Mbeki and President Mugabe met last Saturday after which they claimed thier was"no crisis" in Zimbabwe. He defended those remarks in New York, saying constant communication is the key to sucess.

"The solution to the problem of Zimbabwe lies in the hands of the people of Zimbabwe," he said.

The Zimbabwe Electoral Commission says it cannot release the results of the election until it investigates anomalies. A partial recount takes place this weekend.

April 10, 2008

Elton John Gives $2.5 Million to Clinton Campaign

Democrat Hillary Rodham Clinton is still making the big bucks, and Wednesday night she tapped one of pop music's most respected musicians to help her campaign with $2.5 million, reported MSNBC

Elton John played a benefit concert for Clinton at Radio City Music Hall.

"I've always been a Hillary supporter," the 61-year-old rocker said before launching into his 1970 breakthrough hits, "Your Song" and "Border Song." "There is no one more qualified to lead America."

"I'm amazed by the misogynistic attitudes of some of the people in this country. And I say to hell with them .... I love you Hillary, I'll be there for you," he said.

According to campaign aids, the cheapest tickets, $125 and $250, sold out quickly.

"The other seats were filled by fans paying as much as $2,300, the limit for an individual's contribution to a federal candidate," reports MSNBC.

Also gracing the stage that night was Clinton, her husband, former President Clinton, and their daughter, Chelsea.

Hillary Clinton stood defiant infront of the audience.

"What I want you to know is I'm still standing, and I believe this country is worth fighting for," the New York senator said, playing off the title of one of John's hits. "So we're taking our campaign to Pennsylvania and all the states that haven't voted."

Clinton celebrated her 60th birthday last october with star-studded fundraiser at New York's Beacon Theater that featured actor Billy Crystal and musicians Elvis Costello and the Wallflowers. It earned hermore than $1.5 million for her presidential campaign.

April 3, 2008

MySpace Record Company Deal

In an effort to regain ailing profits, three of the four major music companies have struck a deal with MySpace to start an music Web site, reports the New York Times.

MySpace Music service will parthner up with Universal Music, Sony BMG and Warner Music Group. EMI, the fourth major label, is not a part of the deal at this time, but people involved in the negotiations said it would probably join soon. The music companies will make their entire music catalogs available to MySpace Music users.

It will be "a one-stop source for all music," said Chris DeWolfe, chief executive of MySpace.

"Visitors to the site will be able to listen to free streaming music, paid for with advertising, and share customized playlists with their friends. They will also be able to download tracks to play on their mobile devices, putting the new site in competition with similar services like Apple, Amazon and eMusic," reports the New York Times.

A subscription-based music component, where users pay a monthly amount for unlimited access to downloadable tracks is also under consideration.

“This is really a mega-music experience that is transformative in a lot of ways,? he said. “It’s the first service that offers a full catalog of music to be streamed for free, with full community features, to be shared with all of your friends," said DeWolfe.

Exact terms of the deal and details about the new site, like prices for downloaded music tracks, were not disclosed. But MySpace did say the site would offer songs free of digital rights management software or D.R.M., which is used to prevent illicit copying but can create technical hurdles for buyers. The songs would be playable on any portable music device, including Apple’s iPod.

An analyst at Pali Capital, Rich Greenfield, said MySpace was offering a big opportunity to the music companies.

“They have a huge community that wants to talk, share and learn about music,? he said. “Nobody else has that. There is music discovery happening on MySpace that is far deeper and broader than what’s going on on iTunes.?

Though MySpace earns $70 million a month in advertising for the News Corporation, according to estimates by Pali Capital, it has never successfully sold products on a wide scale. Another download service for independent music that MySpace began in 2006 with Snocap was considered a disappointment. MySpace will have to make it known that they can sell the music.

"For the music industry, the deal is partly born of desperation. In the face of widespread, escalating online piracy, music sales dropped to $11.5 billion in 2006 from a peak in 1999 of nearly $15 billion," reports the Times.

March 27, 2008

Further Divide Between North and South Korea

South Korea said Thursday that it was “deeply regrettable? that North Korea had ordered South Korea officials to leave its territory, but that South Korea was undaunted by the move, reported the New York Times

This followed an announcement on Wednesday by the new South Korean president, Lee Myung-bak, "that his government would not expand economic cooperation with North Korea unless it cooperated in dismantling its nuclear weapons programs," reports the Times.

In An industrial complex in Kaesong, 69 South Korean companies employ 23,000 North Koreans to produce shoes, clothing, watches and other goods. South Korea warned that North Korea was worsening such budding economic cooperation between the two Koreas.

“Time and patience is running out,? said South Korea’s foreign minister, Yu Myung-hwan, at a news conference on Wednesday in Washington.

Lee’s government also has vowed to speak out against human rights abuses in North Korea. It made it apparent that the volume of humanitarian shipments to aid hungry North Koreans would depend on North Korean help in addressing the concerns that affect South Korea, "including the return of its citizens kidnapped during and after the Korean War, from 1950 to 1953," reports the Times.

March 6, 2008

Obama in the Face of Defeat

Sentor Obama failed to administer an electoral in the large states, and allowd Hillary to once again evade his grasp. After appearing nearly invincible just last week, he finally faces press questions about his campagin's weaknesses. However, his goal is to prove he can win the states needed to secure a democratic victory in Pennslyvania, reported the New York Times.

In Ohio and Texas he came up short on primary day, just as he did in New Hampshire in early January. He failed to make an impact on voters "who live paycheck to paycheck and feel the economic walls closing in," reports the New York Times. Obama is starting to feel the pressure of the primaries.

Clinton is facing equal pressure from Obama's campaign aides, who urged Mrs. Clinton to release her tax returns from 2006, as well as her papers from her years as first lady. Obama’s chief strategist, David Axelrod, described the documents as “secreted in the Clinton library.?

Obama also attacked Clintions claims to be better prepared for forgein policy saying, “what exactly is this foreign experience that she’s claiming? I know she talks about visiting 80 countries. It is not clear. Was she negotiating treaties or agreements or was she handling crises during this period of time? "

“My sense is the answer’s no.?

Obama is taking a tougher stance toward Clinton." When the Clinton campaign attacked on multiple fronts last week, he sometimes sounded defensive, occasionally talking at his audiences rather than with them," said the Times.

“There’s no magic bullet that hurt him; it was a series of bullets,? said Hank Sheinkopf, a Democratic consultant. “She reduced his charisma and forced voters back to reality.?

Both parties are hudding now, planning what is needed to bring home a win at the next battle for delegates.

February 28, 2008

William F. Buckley Jr. Dies

William F. Buckley Jr., famous writer, colomnist, and television host died Wednesday at his home in Stamford, Conn., the New York Times reported.

Buckley, 82, suffered from diabetes and emphysema, said his son Christopher. The exact cause of death was not immediately known. "He was found at his desk in the study of his home," his son said. “He might have been working on a column."

He hosted one of television’s longest-running programs, “Firing Line,? and founded the influential conservative magazine National Review.He also wrote at least 55 books, edited five more, and wrote "more than 4.5 million words" in his 5,600 biweekly newspaper colums, reported the New York Times.

"Mr. Buckley’s greatest achievement was making conservatism — not just electoral Republicanism, but conservatism as a system of ideas — respectable in liberal post-World War II America" said the New York Times.

Bucky became famous for his vocabulary, and tendancy to use long words and historically reminiscent phrases. In 1955 he started National Review as a voice for “the disciples of truth, who defend the organic moral order? with a $100,000 gift from his father.

Buckly had lost his wife, the former Patricia Alden Austin Taylor, in 2007. He is survived by his son, Christopher, his sisters Priscilla L. Buckley, Patricia Buckley Bozell, and Carol Buckley,his brothers James L., of Sharon, and F. Reid, and a granddaughter and a grandson.

"In the end it was Mr. Buckley’s graceful, often self-deprecating wit that endeared him to others," said the Times.

February 19, 2008

Castro Steps Down After 50 Years in Power

Fidel Castro resigned as Cuba’s president Tuesday after nearly 50 years in power, saying that he would not accept a new term when the newly elected parliament meets on Sunday, reported MSNBC.

In a letter published online in the Communist Party daily Granma Castro said, “I will not aspire nor accept — I repeat I will not aspire or accept — the post of President of the Council of State and Commander in Chief." Castro's overnight announcement ends his rule over Cuba, positioning his brother Raul Castro, 76, for succession to the presidency. Raul is currently No. 2 in Cuba’s power structure as defense minister, and had been a part of his brother’s rebel movements since 1953.

President Bush, speaking from Rwanda, expressed hope that Cuba will now look towards democracy. “The international community should work with the Cuban people to begin to build institutions that are necessary for democracy,? Bush said according to MSNBC.

"Castro was the world’s longest ruling head of state," reports MSNBC. Castro has been praised by his supporters for providing health care and education to his citizens while remaining seperate from the United States, but his critics claim he runs Cuba like a dictator and denys individual freedoms and civil liberties such as speech, movement and assembly.

"But the United States, bent on blocking Fidel Castro’s plans for his younger brother to succeed him, built a detailed plan in 2005 for American assistance to ensure a democratic transition on the island of 11.2 million people after his death," reported MSNBC.

Castro and other Cuban officials say that there will be no transition to democracy, and the socialist island will remain that way long after he is gone.

February 14, 2008

Bush Calls for Swift Action on Surveillance Bill

President Bush urged the House on Wednesday to pass new rules for monitoring terrorists' communications, reported USA Today.

Bush feels it is urgent that the House pass a bill the Senate passed 68-29 Tuesday that increases government's ability to work with telecommunications companies to eavesdrop on phone calls and e-mails between suspected terrorists."The bill gives phone companies retroactive protection from lawsuits filed on the basis of cooperation they gave the government without court permission — something Bush insisted was included in the bill," reported USA Today.

Bush warned the House in Washington Wednesday saying, "terrorists are planning new attacks on our country ... that will make Sept. 11 pale by comparison."

The Senate has also expanded the power of the court to oversee government eavesdropping on Americans. The amendment would protect the privacy of innocent Americans whose communications are captured during surveillance of a foreign target.

February 7, 2008

Romney Drops Out

Mitt Romney, the former Massachusetts governor and Republican party candidate, announced Thursday that he had ended his campaign, reported the New York Times.

After his disapointing results on Super Tuesday Romney announced his decision to drop out at the Conservative Political Action Conference in Washington. "Because I love America, in this time of war, I feel I have to stand aside for our party and our country,? Romney said.

Senator John McCain reached out to Romney supporters and behest them to lend their votes to the Republican party. Likewise, Mike Huckabee said Thursday afternoon that he hoped that Romney’s supporters would back his campaign. “I know that a lot of the establishment, Washington-type folks are going to be going with Senator McCain,? he said. “I understand that. but the people of this country need a choice. And right now, I am going to be their choice," Huckabee said.

In his speech, Romney argued that the war in Iraq is a critical part of the country’s battle against terrorism, and that the Democratic candidates “would retreat, declare defeat, and the consequences of that would be devastating," Romney said.

January 31, 2008

Bigger Shark Tries to Eat Little Shark at Underwater Adventures

Little Shark 54 was nearly eaten by Jesse, a much bigger shark, at the Underwater Adventures in the Mall of America Friday, reported the Pioneer Press.

Shark 54, a 4 1/2-foot white tip reef shark, may have brushed against Jesse, a 300-pound female sand shark, and triggered the bite reflex. After nearly 30 minutes of being chomped down on, a boy visiting the aquarium noticed the attack and notified a staff member.

Shark 54 has since recieved antiobiotic treatments for wounds Jesse inflicted to the tissue of her belly. "Everything went fine," said Reid Withrow, director of husbandry and life support. "She looks good. She ate after we handled her."

It is not uncommon for sand sharks to feed on smaller sharks in the wild, but it is still unknown what the exact cause of the attack was. Shark 54 is being kept in isolation for now until more is known about the attack. "She's eating and seems to be doing well," Withrow said. "She's not out of the woods yet."