Wednesday, January 12, 2011

NASA Research Finds 2010 Tied for Warmest Year on Record

/PRNewswire/ -- Global surface temperatures in 2010 tied 2005 as the warmest on record, according to an analysis released Wednesday by researchers at NASA's Goddard Institute for Space Studies (GISS) in New York.

The two years differed by less than 0.018 degrees Fahrenheit. The difference is smaller than the uncertainty in comparing the temperatures of recent years, putting them into a statistical tie. In the new analysis, the next warmest years are 1998, 2002, 2003, 2006 and 2007, which are statistically tied for third warmest year. The GISS records begin in 1880.

The analysis found 2010 approximately 1.34 F warmer than the average global surface temperature from 1951 to 1980. To measure climate change, scientists look at long-term trends. The temperature trend, including data from 2010, shows the climate has warmed by approximately 0.36 F per decade since the late 1970s.

"If the warming trend continues, as is expected, if greenhouse gases continue to increase, the 2010 record will not stand for long," said James Hansen, the director of GISS.

The analysis produced at GISS is compiled from weather data from more than 1000 meteorological stations around the world, satellite observations of sea surface temperature and Antarctic research station measurements. A computer program uses the data to calculate temperature anomalies -- the difference between surface temperature in a given month and the average temperature for the same period during 1951 to 1980. This three-decade period acts as a baseline for the analysis.

The resulting temperature record closely matches others independently produced by the Met Office Hadley Centre in the United Kingdom and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration's National Climatic Data Center.

The record temperature in 2010 is particularly noteworthy, because the last half of the year was marked by a transition to strong La Nina conditions, which bring cool sea surface temperatures to the eastern tropical Pacific Ocean.

"Global temperature is rising as fast in the past decade as in the prior two decades, despite year-to-year fluctuations associated with the El Nino-La Nina cycle of tropical ocean temperature," Hansen and colleagues reported in the Dec. 14, 2010, issue of Reviews of Geophysics.

A chilly spell also struck this winter across northern Europe. The event may have been influenced by the decline of Arctic sea ice and could be linked to warming temperatures at more northern latitudes.

Arctic sea ice acts like a blanket, insulating the atmosphere from the ocean's heat. Take away that blanket, and the heat can escape into the atmosphere, increasing local surface temperatures. Regions in northeast Canada were more than 18 degrees warmer than normal in December.

The loss of sea ice may also be driving Arctic air into the middle latitudes. Winter weather patterns are notoriously chaotic, and the GISS analysis finds seven of the last 10 European winters warmer than the average from 1951 to 1980. The unusual cold in the past two winters has caused scientists to begin to speculate about a potential connection to sea ice changes.

"One possibility is that the heat source due to open water in Hudson Bay affected Arctic wind patterns, with a seesaw pattern that has Arctic air downstream pouring into Europe," Hansen said.

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Monday, January 10, 2011

State Grant Will Help Prevent Underage Alcohol Sales and Service

/PRNewswire/ -- The Georgia Governor's Office of Highway Safety (GOHS) has awarded a $91,400 grant to The Council on Alcohol and Drugs in order to establish and deliver regular Responsible Alcohol Sales and Service (RASS) Workshops in four counties in Georgia. The workshops help alcohol owners and licensees to become more knowledgeable in preventing selling and serving alcohol to underage clientele. Underage drinking has been shown to be a leading cause of auto accident-related crashes, deaths and injuries in Georgia.

The counties to be served and the main partners working with the Council in those counties are listed below.

1. Learn to Grow, Inc. (Fulton County)

2. Drug Free Coalition of Hall County

3. Rockdale Coalition for Children and Families (Rockdale County)

4. Spalding County Collaborative Authority for Families and Children

The grant will also work with Ms. Michele Stumpe, President/CEO of Evindi, Inc., the designer of and trainer for RASS Workshops, to replicate the success enjoyed by RASS Workshops in other counties in the state.

"The grant [Georgia's RASS Program] will allow for the provision of training, technical assistance and a media campaign to help educate stakeholders and alcohol retailers in Georgia about the purposes and need for RASS Workshops," stated Chuck Wade, President & CEO of The Council on Alcohol and Drugs.

Evaluation Results

2009-2010 results from the Institute of Public Health at Georgia State University and the Burruss Institute for Public Service and Research at Kennesaw State University consistently show RASS training workshops to be an effective method for increasing knowledge and awareness of policies and issues related to preventing underage alcohol sales and service. The effectiveness of the workshops is demonstrated through both the knowledge-based pre and post-test comparisons as well as respondents' individual evaluations. Respondents' scores consistently increase on each measure from the pre-test to the post-test. Typically 98-100% of alcohol owners and licensees rate the program positively across all measures.

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Saturday, January 8, 2011

Harry Potter Wizard Legal Battle to Continue in English High Court, Despite US Dismissal

PRNewswire/ -- The Estate of Adrian Jacobs, the deceased British children's author, regrets that its US breach of copyright action, brought in good faith against Scholastic INC in relation to Harry Potter in the USA has been summarily dismissed by a New York Judge.

The Estate's US attorneys are presently analysing the judgment with a view to lodging an Appeal.

The Trustee Paul Allen stated that "This US decision has no legal bearing upon the Estate's established action in the High Court of England against J.K.Rowling personally and her publishers Bloomsbury over breach of copyright in Harry Potter and The Goblet of Fire. That case is scheduled for a 10 day trial in February 2012 when the Estate hopes that evidence and cross examination will be heard in open court for the first time.

Major Disclosures are expected over the next few months.

The English case, involves allegations by the Estate of Adrian Jacobs that J.K. Rowling copied a substantial part of Jacobs' visionary 1987 book.

The Adventures of Willy The Wizard No 1 Livid Land, into her book Harry Potter and The Goblet of Fire published 13 years later by Bloomsbury.

Trustee Paul Allen says "Jacobs' Estate will continue to vigorously pursue its Claim in London. The massive amount of evidence brought by the Estate, in the English High Court included forensic linguistic analysis, factual testimony relating to Rowling and her agent Chris Little, and evidence from experts in Children's fantasy literature demonstrating startling similarities between the two books."

In The Adventures of Willy The Wizard, a short, densely written, beautifully illustrated book, Adrian Jacobs created a fantasy world intertwined with the real world in which there are Wizard Schools, Villages of Wizard Brewers, Gambling Wizards, Wizard Chess played on Wizard Trains, special Wizard Hospitals, Wizard Travel by magic powder, apparently headless creatures, Elves as Wizard Helpers, International Gatherings of Wizards, Human Memory Erasers, etc.

The Estate claims that all of these Jacobs' concepts are part of Jacobs' original themes, many new to the genre, echoed and copied in Harry Potter and familiar now to Potter readers.

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Severe Winter Weather Threatens Georgia

/PRNewswire/ -- A winter storm is threatening Georgia this weekend and Verizon Wireless urges residents to have their emergency communications plans in place. The company offers the following tips:

* Keep wireless phone batteries fully charged – in case local power is lost – well before warnings are issued.
* Have additional charged batteries and car-charger adapters available for back-up power.
* Keep phones, batteries, chargers and other equipment in a dry, accessible location.
* Maintain a list of emergency phone numbers – police, fire, and rescue agencies; power companies; insurance providers; family, friends and co-workers; etc. – and program them into your phone.
* Limit non-emergency calls to conserve battery power and free-up wireless networks for emergency agencies and operations. Send brief TXT messages rather than voice calls for the same reason.
* Check weather and news reports available on wireless phone applications when commercial power is out.

Experts are predicting icing of roads, some tree damage, and possible power outages Sunday night into Monday morning throughout central and northern Georgia. Regardless, the Verizon Wireless network is built for reliability in emergencies, with battery back up power at all facilities and generators installed at all switching facilities and many cell site locations. These preparations have proved critical during and after storms. In the aftermath of even the most devastating weather, the Verizon Wireless network in Georgia has remained strong while many other wireless communication networks struggled to serve emergency response officials and residents.

Additional Verizon Wireless preparation for severe weather events includes:

* The company has developed and practiced a comprehensive emergency response plan, including preparing emergency command centers in the case of a storm or crisis.
* The company's 3G EV-DO wireless broadband network and 4G LTE networks allows the most advanced wireless services (downloads, location-based applications, video messaging, etc.) for usage by residents and emergency agencies.
* Verizon Wireless is fully prepared to set up Wireless Emergency Communication Centers* (WECCs) to serve residents and rescue agencies in the area(s) in the greatest need.
* The company also has a fleet of Cells on Wheels (COWS) and Cells on Light Trucks (COLTS), and generators on trailers (GOaTS) that can be rolled into hard-hit locations.
* Verizon Wireless pre-arranges fuel delivery to mobile units and generators to keep the network operating at full strength even if power is lost for an extended period of time.
* Installation of advanced in-building systems to boost wireless coverage and services at hospitals, government and emergency facilities, high-traffic public venues and other locations throughout Georgia.
* Verizon Wireless has a Communications Store on wheels* ready to roll. The 35-foot trailer allows Verizon Wireless to maintain retail operations in areas when company stores are not able to open or when retail services are needed in areas where natural disaster strikes, enabling customers to purchase the wireless phones and accessories they need.

"We work hard to ensure our customers and Georgia's emergency personnel can use their phones when and where they need it. We prepare our network all year long, through extensive investments, to be ready for storms and other emergencies," said Jeff Mango, region president for Verizon Wireless Georgia/Alabama.

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Tuesday, January 4, 2011

Electric Utilities in Georgia Increase Reward for Identification of Copper Thieves

/PRNewswire/ -- In the wake of increased copper thefts, Georgia's electric utilities are offering up to $3,000 for information leading to the arrest and conviction of individuals involved in the theft of copper and other metals from their property.

Copper thefts from substations, utility poles and lines continue to be a growing problem and public safety issue. The thefts threaten the reliability of the electric system and could cause power outages in some cases. In addition, damaged lines pose a danger of electrocution to anyone in the area, including utility workers.

These crimes affect many businesses throughout the state and their ability to provide essential services. Utilities are aggressively working with law enforcement agencies and scrap recyclers to apprehend the perpetrators. This increased reward is one tool to encourage the public's assistance.

Details such as a tag number, a physical description of a person or a car could be especially helpful. Anyone who observes suspicious activity around an electric substation or other utility facility is asked to contact the statewide copper theft hotline at 1-877-732-8717. If a theft is in progress, the witness should notify 911 first, then call the hotline.

In February 2009 utilities began offering $500 for information leading to the arrest and conviction of anyone associated with copper thefts. Officials hope the increased reward will encourage members of the public to come forward with valuable information.

Up to $3,000 will be paid to anyone who furnishes information that leads directly to the arrest and conviction of someone involved in metals theft from a utility property in Georgia.

The reward is being offered by Dalton Utilities, Electric Cities of Georgia, 42 electric membership cooperatives (EMCs), Georgia EMC, Georgia Power, Georgia Transmission Corp. and Municipal Electric Authority of Georgia.

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