Monday, July 24, 2017

FYI: We will not be publishing anything next week (July 29th – August 4th). We will return on Monday, August 7th.


Robot finds likely melted nuclear fuel heap inside Fukushima reactor

Images captured by an underwater robot showed massive deposits believed to be melted nuclear fuel covering the floor of a damaged reactor at Japan’s crippled Fukushima nuclear plant. The robot found large amounts of solidified lava-like rocks and lumps in layers as thick as 3 feet on the bottom inside of a main structure called the pedestal that sits underneath the core inside the primary containment vessel of Fukushima’s Unit 3 reactor, said the plant’s operator, Tokyo Electric Power Co. On Friday (7/21), the robot spotted suspected debris of melted fuel for the first time since the 2011 earthquake and tsunami caused multiple meltdowns and destroyed the plant. The three-day probe of Unit 3 ended Saturday. Locating and analyzing the fuel debris and damage in each of the plant’s three wrecked reactors is crucial for decommissioning the plant. The search for melted fuel in the two other reactors has so far been unsuccessful because of damage and extremely high radiation levels. During the probe, cameras mounted on the robot showed extensive damage caused by the core meltdown, with fuel debris mixed with broken reactor parts, suggesting the difficult challenges ahead in the decades-long decommissioning of the destroyed plant. (KOMO TV)


New Jersey raises smoking age to 21

New Jersey is set to become the third state to raise its smoking age to 21, after Republican Gov. Chris Christie signed a bill Friday that hikes the minimum age to buy tobacco products from 19. “We are giving young people more time to develop a maturity and better understanding of how dangerous smoking can be and that it is better to not start smoking in the first place,” Christie said in a statement. A reduction in smoking-related health problems also would ease the strain on the state’s health care system, Christie said. (CNN)


U.S. Navy Opens New Era With Commissioning of Gerald R. Ford

With flag-hoisting, gun-firing, horn-blowing fanfare, the United States Navy opened a new era on Saturday as it commissioned the first of a generation of more powerful, technologically advanced aircraft carriers that will transform the fleet in decades to come. President Trump presided over the commissioning ceremony for the nuclear-powered Gerald R. Ford, the first in a new class of aircraft carriers in 42 years. Although the carrier took longer to build and cost more than initially expected, it nonetheless represented a milestone for the Navy as it seeks to modernize in a world of ever-changing national security challenges. “American steel and American hands have constructed a 100,000-ton message to the world: American might is second to none,” Mr. Trump said to a crowd on a sweltering below-deck hangar that will transport warplanes to the world’s danger zones. “And we’re getting bigger, better and stronger every day of my administration, that I can tell you.” (NY Times)


Mexican folk religion involving human sacrifice gaining status among criminals

A Mexican folk religion involving human sacrifice and devoted to “Holy Death” is growing in popularity among drug traffickers and violent criminals, prompting Texas officials and the Catholic Church to warn about honoring the so-called “Saint Death.” Authorities are speaking out about the religion devoted to La Santa Muerte, which translates to “Holy Death” and “Saint Death,” that has gained popularity steadily since the late 1980s among Mexican-American Catholics. Clad in a black nun’s robe and holding a scythe in one hand, Santa Muerte appeals to people seeking all manner of otherworldly help, from fending off wrongdoing and carrying out vengeance to people seeking protection for their drug shipments against law enforcement. Devotees often use Catholic prayers and set up shrines in “her” honor. The Catholic Church in Mexico and the U.S. denounces the skeleton “saint,” and warns that worship is spiritually dangerous. In February, Wester, El Paso Bishop Mark Seitz and San Angelo Bishop Michael Sis in Texas joined their counterparts in Mexico in urging Catholics to avoid honoring the folk saint and called her “antithetical” to the teachings of Jesus Christ. Law enforcement officials in Austin, Texas say the religion has become prominent among drug traffickers and violent criminals. (KVUE TV)


Oklahoma teacher panhandles for money to buy classroom supplies

A public school teacher has turned to panhandling at an Oklahoma interstate off-ramp to raise money to buy classroom supplies for her third-grade students. Teresa Danks, a teacher in the Tulsa Public Schools system, stood at the busy Interstate-44 intersection Tuesday begging for spare change with a scrawled sign that said, “Teacher Needs School Supplies! Anything Helps.” State education budget cuts have forced her to pay for supplies with her own money, the station reported. Her teacher salary is $35,000. It didn’t take long for her to raise $80. She hopes other teachers join her effort to focus attention on the budget crisis in the Oklahoma state capitol. (KOKI TV)


Georgia man arrested after driving 112 mph ‘for Snapchat’

A Georgia man was arrested Tuesday after he was driving 112 miles per hour. He told police he was speeding while using the video-sharing app Snapchat. Malon B. Neal, 24, was charged with speeding, reckless driving and using wireless communications while driving after an officer shooting radar saw Neal’s 2015 black Dodge Charger change lanes and accelerate, according to local reports. Neal’s car has been towed and he was released from custody. The driver told police he was going home after hanging out with a friend, adding that he was driving that fast “for Snapchat”. The popular social media app features a filter than can measure how fast a person is moving after taking a photo or video. Neal faces a fine of up to $1,000 if convicted of reckless driving; he could also have his license suspended. (AJC)


British girl fined for opening lemonade stand receives dozens of job offers

A British girl who was fined nearly $200 for opening a lemonade stand outside a festival in London received dozens of job offers after her story gained international attention, her family said. The 5-year-old girl “burst into tears” when she was fined $195 for setting up a lemonade stand outside the Lovebox Festival in East London. The father wrote in an newspaper article saying four local council enforcement officers approached his daughter’s stand and read a “lengthy legal statement” saying the girl was being fined for not having the proper trading permit. He claimed the officer said the fine would be reduced if “it’s paid quickly.” “After five minutes, the officers’ jobs were done and they went on their way. We packed up and made the short walk home. My daughter sobbed all the way,” he recalled. Since telling his daughter’s story, the family has received support from people worldwide and job offers — including London’s famed Borough Market. “Dozens of festivals, markets and businesses have offered us an opportunity to set up a lemonade stand,” Spicer wrote in a tweet on Saturday. “We hope they will extend this invitation to others who’d love to make a stand.” In response, Borough Market tweeted to the father: “In all seriousness, would your daughter like to sell some lemonade at Borough Market? We’d love to make that happen for her.” Tower Hamlets Council, who issued the ticket, apologized for the incident and has since revoked the fine. (BBC)


It’s Monday, time to get back in the saddle….again. It’s also:

*Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints Pioneer Day
*Cousins Day
*National Drive-Thru Day
*National Tequila Day 
*National Thermal Engineers Day (It’s considered the hottest day of the year.)
*Tell An Old Joke Day

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