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Member since: 2003 before July 6th
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Mysterious Noises Traced To Rare 'Frost Quakes'

ST. LOUIS (AP) -- Chuck Herron heard the loud thud, then another and another. It sounded like someone was dropping big snowballs on the roof of his home.

The house is more than 100 years old and creaks, Herron said, but he had "never heard anything like that before."

As his neighbors in tiny Paris, Mo., huddled around televisions Sunday for the Super Bowl, many were startled by similar strange noises. Some even saw flashes of light and called 911.

Scientists say the community experienced a rare natural phenomenon known as a "frost quake," which happens when moisture in the ground suddenly freezes and expands. If conditions are just right, the soil or bedrock breaks like a brittle frozen pipe, generating mysterious noises that range from an earthquake-like rumble to sharp cracking sounds sometimes mistaken for falling trees.

This winter has been ripe for frost quakes, known technically as cryoseism. Temperatures have been frigid, but occasional warm-ups have allowed for thawing. And the temperature swings have sometimes been abrupt.



I've experienced something sort of similar when ice fishing on a lake with lots of ice when I was a kid. Scared the hell out of me and my dad just laughed and called it a 'ice quake'.

I must also add and a couple of weeks ago, when we hit the low temp of -19, our house popped and snapped all night long...

Global warming my ASS! (there I just had to say it this one time...)

Ethan Couch, 'Affluenza' Teen Who Killed 4 In Crash, Given No Jail Time

Source: Associated Press

FORT WORTH, Texas (AP) — A judge has ordered no jail time for a Texas teenager in a drunken-driving crash that killed four people.

Ethan Couch was given probation last year for the wreck. He was back in court Wednesday after prosecutors requested 20 years in jail on charges related to two injured people.

The hearing was closed to the public. Defense attorney Reagan Wynn told reporters afterward that Judge Jean Boyd ordered the teen to be sent to a rehabilitation facility paid for by his parents.

The judge didn't identify the facility. However, the family previously offered to pay for a $450,000-a-year center in California.

Read more: http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2014/02/05/ethan-couch-affluenza-teen_n_4729821.html

Russia Says It's Against A Western-Backed UN Resolution On Syria's Humanitarian Crisis

UNITED NATIONS — Russia's United Nations ambassador says Moscow is against a U.N. Security Council resolution that would push for greater humanitarian access to Syria to deliver desperately needed aid.

Vitaly Churkin told a press briefing Wednesday that "hard, pragmatic and purposeful work is necessary" to resolve specific humanitarian issues — not a new council resolution which will almost certainly aim "to politicize the problem."

Council diplomats said they expect to circulate a Western and Arab-backed draft resolution this week after peace talks between the Syrian government and opposition failed to achieve any concrete results last week, especially on possible humanitarian aid convoys to besieged parts of Homs.

Churkin said the latest information he saw on Tuesday was that an agreement on aid to Homs "is about to happen."


FACT CHECK: GOP I-Told-You-So Chorus Over Health Overhaul Study Misrepresents Its Conclusions

WASHINGTON - New estimates that President Barack Obama's health care law will encourage millions of Americans to leave the workforce or reduce their work hours have touched off an I-told-you-so chorus from Republicans, who've claimed all along that the law will kill jobs. But some aren't telling it straight.

The analysis by the nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office predicts the law will give several million people an opportunity to work less or not at all, because they won't be stuck in jobs just for the sake of keeping the health insurance they get from employers. To some Republicans, that amounts to "wreaking havoc on working families," ''dire consequences for workers" and a shower of pink slips across the land — conclusions unsupported by the report.

The study estimates that the workforce will be reduced by the equivalent of 2.3 million full-time workers by 2021 as people choose to leave it. More would take early retirement, work fewer hours or otherwise rearrange their work-home balance to take advantage of new subsidies for health insurance and new markets for individual policies that don't depend on having a job.

In a key point overlooked in the GOP response, the report says: "The estimated reduction stems almost entirely from a net decline in the amount of labour that workers choose to supply, rather than from a net drop in businesses' demand for labour."

In other words, workers aren't being laid off. They are taking themselves out of the workforce, in many cases opening job opportunities for others.



GOP Conservatives Adamant In Ruling Out Immigration Overhaul In 2014, Say Wait Till Next Year

Source: Associated Press

WASHINGTON — Conservative Republicans on Wednesday ruled out any immigration legislation in the House this year, insisting that the GOP should wait until next year when the party might also control the Senate.

House GOP leaders unveiled their broad immigration principles last week that gave hope to advocates and the Obama administration that the first changes in the nation's laws in three decades might happen in the coming months.

Immigration legislation is one of the top priorities for Obama's second term.

But several of the conservatives were adamant that the House should do nothing on the issue this year, a midterm election year when the GOP is angling to gain six seats in the Senate and seize majority control. Democrats currently have a 55-45 advantage but are defending more seats, including ones in Republican-leaning states.

Read more: http://www.greenfieldreporter.com/view/story/94254869460c4922af16c52b0bb4408b/US--Immigration-Congress

More Secretive Conservative Super PACS Assail Proposed IRS Rules

As a pair of Republican-controlled House panels hold hearings this week on the Internal Revenue Service, including the agency's efforts to regulate political spending by non-profit groups, newly available documents show a broad range of right-leaning organizations weighing in to oppose the agency's proposed rules. These comments — all negative — suggest that the latest IRS effort is a continuation of the agency's decision, which made headlines and drew reprimands last year, to scrutinize Tea Party groups.

"These new IRS regulations against Conservative, Patriot, TeaParty Groups are Criminal," wrote one commenter. "Leave Us Alone!"

A new analysis based on text of available comments filed with the IRS by Sunlight's Docket Wrench tool now shows evidence that more groups — including FreedomWorks, the American Family Association and the Homeschool Legal Defense Association — have rallied their grassroots bases with alerts. Last week, Sunlight reported that Numbers USA, a group pushing for restrictive immigration policies, and True the Vote, which dedicates itself to watchdogging election fraud, were behind large groups of comments that criticize the proposals. Overall, the agency reports receiving more than 21,000 comments to date; however, the text of the vast majority of these letters became available for analysis online only in the last several days.

In this January release and video from FreedomWorks, a Tea Party group, urges its members to oppose the proposed IRS regulations: "The number of comments matters," says president Matt Kibbe. But the video does not give any suggested language, making comments difficult to track. However, Docket Wrench shows that a small group of commenters listed FreedomWorks as their organization; likely many more were inspired by the alert. FreedomWorks operates a 501(c)4 advocacy group, which is not required to reveal its donors. While their identity remains secret, we do know something about their size: In 2012, the group received nearly 60 percent of its $15 million in revenues from just four donors, according to a report by OpenSecrets. There is also the FreedomWorks super PAC, which spent $847,000; all of its independent expenditures went to Senate races, supporting Republicans and opposing Democrats. In 2012, Sunlight broke the news that two mysterious companies gave more than half of the funding — about $12 million — for the super PAC that year.

Read more at http://www.philly.com/philly/news/politics/More_secretive_conservative_super_PACS_assail_proposed_IRS_rules.html#GCABtwT06ySfSJZz.99

Drought Forces California Farmers To Idle Cropland

By Steve Gorman

LOS ANGELES (Reuters) - Drought-stricken California farmers facing drastic cutbacks in irrigation water are expected to idle some 500,000 acres of cropland this year in a record production loss that could cause billions of dollars in economic damage, industry officials said.

Large-scale crop losses in California, the No. 1 U.S. farm state producing half the nation's fruits and vegetables, would undoubtedly lead to higher consumer prices, especially for tree and vine produce grown only there. But experts say it is too soon to quantify the effect.

Coming off its driest year on record, California is gripped in a drought that threatens to inflict the worst water crisis in state history, prompting Governor Jerry Brown last month to declare a state of emergency.

He urged citizens to reduce their water consumption by 20 percent voluntarily.

California water managers later said the drought would force an unprecedented cutoff in state-supplied water sold to 29 irrigation districts, public water agencies and municipalities, barring an unexpected turnaround.

Irrigation deliveries to another group of agricultural districts served by the state are expected to be reduced by half, and an even larger group of farmers who get water from the federally operated Central Valley Project are likewise bracing for sharp cutbacks this year.



Kerry To Israeli Critics: I’ve Been ‘Attacked Before By People Using Real Bullets’

I won't be intimidated in peace talks, says Kerry

(AFP) – 34 minutes ago

Washington — Amid a bitter spat between the US and Israel, Secretary of State John Kerry said Wednesday bullets were worse than words and vowed he would not be "intimidated" in his dogged quest for peace.

The two countries have been at loggerheads after senior Israeli figures attacked the top US diplomat for weekend comments in which he warned that if the peace talks fail, Israel could face a growing threat of a boycott by the international community.

Israeli ministers said his comments at a security conference in Munich were "offensive" and accused him of trying to "amplify" the boycott threat.

But Kerry hit back Wednesday that his words had been distorted, saying he had merely commented on what other people were saying.

The decorated veteran of the Vietnam war told CNN that he has "been attacked before by people using real bullets, not words, and I am not going to be intimidated."



New Surveillance Technology Can Track Everyone In An Area For Several Hours At A Time

DAYTON, Ohio — Shooter and victim were just a pair of pixels, dark specks on a gray streetscape. Hair color, bullet wounds, even the weapon were not visible in the series of pictures taken from an airplane flying two miles above.

But what the images revealed — to a degree impossible just a few years ago — was location, mapped over time. Second by second, they showed a gang assembling, blocking off access points, sending the shooter to meet his target and taking flight after the body hit the pavement. When the report reached police, it included a picture of the blue stucco building into which the killer ultimately retreated, at last beyond the view of the powerful camera overhead.

“I’ve witnessed 34 of these,” said Ross McNutt, the genial president of Persistent Surveillance Systems, which collected the images of the killing in Ciudad Juarez, Mexico, from a specially outfitted Cessna. “It’s like opening up a murder mystery in the middle, and you need to figure out what happened before and after.”

As Americans have grown increasingly comfortable with traditional surveillance cameras, a new, far more powerful generation is being quietly deployed that can track every vehicle and person across an area the size of a small city, for several hours at a time. Though these cameras can’t read license plates or see faces, they provide such a wealth of data that police, businesses, even private individuals can use them to help identify people and track their movements.

Already, the cameras have been flown above major public events, such as the Ohio political rally where Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.) named Sarah Palin as his running mate in 2008, McNutt said. They’ve been flown above Baltimore; Philadelphia; Compton, Calif.; and Dayton in demonstrations for police. They’ve also been used for traffic impact studies, for security at NASCAR races — and at the request of a Mexican politician, who commissioned the flights over Ciudad Juarez.



Sen. Franken Has 'Deep Concern' About Google Glass App NameTag

Sen. Al Franken (D-Minn.) is worried about the privacy implications of a new facial recognition app.

In a letter on Wednesday, Franken expressed "deep concern" about NameTag, a facial recognition app for Google Glass devices that have been "jailbroken" to circumvent Google's ban on facial recognition tools.

Franken, chairman of the Senate Judiciary subcommittee on Privacy, asked NameTag to delay its launch until there are best practices for facial recognition technology, such as those that will come out of a Commerce Department initiative beginning this week.

“According to promotional materials, NameTag lets strangers get a broad range of personal information — including a person’s name, photos, and dating website profiles — simply by looking at that person’s face with the Glass camera," Franken said in his letter.

"This is apparently done without that person’s knowledge or consent, which crosses a bright line for privacy and personal safety.

Read more: http://thehill.com/blogs/hillicon-valley/technology/197580-franken-questions-facial-recognition-app#ixzz2sUjrW7MS
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