Half-speed ahead for bullet train

first_imgSACRAMENTO – Travelers in Anaheim, Los Angeles and the Bay Area will be first to ride the state’s multibillion-dollar bullet train – if it ever gets built – the rail agency decided Wednesday. The California High-Speed Rail Authority board, which is pursuing the project in several segments, decided to build first in areas that are expected to have the highest ridership and generate the most revenue. That means that while the first segment could open by 2017, stops in San Diego, Irvine, the Inland Empire and Sacramento – which have been on earlier plans – will be postponed for years after that date. “If we wish to do something, we need to figure out how to start moving forward in bite-sized pieces – pieces that have true ends,” said board member Curt Pringle, the mayor of Anaheim. “I think this is an appropriate way to focus and move forward.” Under the plan approved Wednesday, the first segment would start in Anaheim, then stop in downtown Los Angeles, Burbank, Sylmar and Palmdale before heading up through the Central Valley to the San Francisco Bay Area. With bullet trains operating at speeds up to 220 mph, the express travel time between Los Angeles and San Francisco is roughly 2 hours, according to the authority. The authority board has yet to chose between two potential routes through Northern California or name specific stops in the Bay Area. Decades struggle High-speed rail in California – now estimated to cost $40 billion – has struggled for decades to gain public support and funding, and once again is facing the threat of a setback. Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger is trying to slash the authority’s operating budget and postpone a $10 billion bond measure that is tentatively slated for 2008. The bond measure had originally been scheduled for a vote in 2004, but the Legislature has already postponed it twice. Schwarzenegger has said he supports the concept of high-speed rail, but thinks the authority has to do more planning before it can receive major funding. In fact, authority members Wednesday discussed a financing plan that they acknowledged was very general and lacked commitments from the private sector or the federal government. “The authority needs to come up with a strong financing plan on where that additional revenue is going to come from, before we move forward with the bond,” said Adam Mendelsohn, spokesman for the governor. “He’s absolutely committed to high-speed rail, believes it’s critical for California’s infrastructure growth, but also believes it’s in the best interest of taxpayers that there be a strong financing plan developed before the additional revenue is put forward.” The Legislature is holding hearings to consider restoring at least some of the authority’s operating funding for next year. The authority was divided 5-2 in its decision Wednesday to pick an initial segment. San Diego left out Board member Lynn Schenk, a former congresswoman from San Diego, objected to her city being left off the initial route. Member Jeff Crane, an adviser to the governor, opposed the plan because he felt the project should have a more specific financing plan first. Schenk, who has been involved in high-speed rail since the 1970s, said the San Diego-to-Los Angeles segment would be heavily traveled and should be part of the first stage. “I believe by adopting the entire corridor as the first phase, we can get there much more quickly,” Schenk said. “I can’t vote for any plan approval that will leave San Diego in the high-speed rail dustbin of history.” But the board’s executive director, Mehdi Moshed, said several areas along the Southern California route are difficult to plan right now. Regional governmental groups in San Diego and Los Angeles are studying privately funded proposals to build high-speed rail systems using magnetic levitation technology, which would be incompatible with the steel-wheel technique included in the authority’s plan. He also said that heavy development in those areas makes it more difficult to choose a route for the line. He argued that those questions should be resolved before moving forward with planning a segment in that region. harrison.sheppard @dailynews.com (916) 446-6723 160Want local news?Sign up for the Localist and stay informed Something went wrong. Please try again.subscribeCongratulations! You’re all set!last_img read more

Round-up: QPR boss denies Defoe deal, Jon Toral praised, Voges replaces Rogers

first_imgRangers expect to sign DefoeHarry Redknapp says a deal to take Jermain Defoe to QPR is not yet in place.Rangers expect to sign the former Tottenham striker, 32, from FC Toronto in January but Redknapp has played down reports that an agreement has already been reached.Redknapp has been boosted by the return of key players from injury ahead of Saturday’s game against Manchester City – and says it’s “not the worst time” to be facing the out-of-form champions. The Rangers manager also believes the home fans could play a crucial role.For more from his pre-match press conference earlier today, including his thoughts on Charlie Austin’s chances of a future England call-up, see our Redknapp recap.Fulham boss Kit Symons has been nominated for the manager of the month award.Toral has impressed recentlyWe made Scott Parker the Whites’ man of the match in their draw against Blackpool. Click here for our player ratings from the game at Craven Cottage, here for Chelsea player ratings for their Champions League draw against Maribor and here for Brentford’s in their great win at Nottingham Forest.Bees boss Mark Warburton has hailed his players after that victory and also predicted that on-loan Arsenal midfielder Jon Toral will “get better and better.”Meanwhile, players from all four of our main local clubs have been called up for international duty, while Fulham’s Lyle Della Verde has joined Bristol Rovers on loan.And in cricket, Adam Voges will be Middlesex’s four-day captain and overseas player next year, replacing Chris Rogers.Follow West London Sport on TwitterFind us on Facebooklast_img read more

Warriors’ Draymond Green gets engaged, Steve Kerr announces

first_img“The time’s been great,” Kerr told reporters after … Warriors coach Steve Kerr broke the news that his All-Star forward Draymond Green got engaged while the team has been in Los Angeles the past few days.While talking about the team’s relaxing time in Southern California, Kerr sort of let it slip Monday that Green is now engaged to be married to reality TV star Hazel Renee. Neither of them had officially announced the big news, so Kerr beat all the entertainment news websites to the story.last_img

The Spin on Planets

first_img(Visited 31 times, 1 visits today)FacebookTwitterPinterestSave分享0 As the orbs whirl around Sol, human understanding of our space neighborhood rises and falls.Mercury:  The innermost planet has undergone a paradigm shift since the MESSENGER spacecraft arrived.  Now, explosive volcanoes are prominent in explanations for its many flat-floored craters and volcanic plains, Robin Wylie discusses on The Conversation.  Here’s his spin doctoring:Before its explosive nature surfaced, experts assumed that, having formed so close to the sun, Mercury would have been stripped of its volatile gases early on in its life. So future theories of Mercury’s genesis must now take into account how the planet kept its fizz hidden. They will likely now invoke ideas of ancient collisions with volatile-rich “planetesimals” – balls of rock and dust that are thought to have formed the inner planets – which could have topped up Mercury’s levels.  All of this puts a new spin on the first rock from the sun, and its place among the others.Venus:  Water at 900 degrees?  Live Science reported that a revisit of 30-year old data from the European Space Agency’s Venus Express orbiter and ground data from Russian Venera landers suggests (indirectly) that water molecules might have survived in the planet’s mantle.  Since those early days of exploration, scientists have dreamed of proving that Venus was once host to Earth-like lakes and oceans of liquid water before the climate went terribly bad.Earth and the Young Sun Paradox:  How did the Earth stay warm when the early sun was 25% cooler than today?  That old puzzle was revisted by Astrobiology Magazine.  Astronomers are still working on the new spin.  Maybe it was tiny bubbles in the wine of Earth’s early atmosphere: changes to the ratios of nitrogen, carbon dioxide and greenhouse gases.  “We do have some choices for understanding the early atmosphere,” Bernard Marty said.  It’s going to be tough to spin a solution out of the paradox, because as Earth was evolving, changes to the magnetic field, the atmosphere and the crust were evolving, too.  Maybe noble gases helped: “We think that this implies that the xenon composition has been evolving through time and it was not fully in the atmosphere 3.5 billion years ago,” Marty said.Mars:  See the 2/13/14 entry for Mars news.Asteroids:  A paper in Nature found “unexpected diversity” of asteroid composition in the asteroid belt.  This undermines the idea that a single body disrupted in that orbital region.  “The asteroids in the main asteroid belt have been discovered to be more compositionally diverse with size and distance from the Sun than had previously been known,” the abstract says.  “This implies substantial mixing through processes such as planetary migration and the subsequent dynamical processes.”Jupiter’s Io:  The volcanoes of Io have been popping off consistently for decades at least, a new paper on Icarus says.  Based on comparative data from Galileo and New Horizons missions, the authors state this finding: “Most Ionian hot spots [are] very persistent on decade timescales.”Jupiter’s Ganymede:  The largest moon in the solar system, Jupiter’s 3rd Galilean satellite Ganymede, got a new map published.  Combining data from the Voyager and Galileo spacecraft, the new map shows a splotchy surface that PhysOrg displayed.  The article did not mention any new findings, but connected potential water to potential life, as is customary for NASA press releases: “With its varied terrain and possible underground ocean, Ganymede is considered a prime target in the search for habitable environments in the solar system, and the researchers hope this new map will aid in future exploration.”  As John Grotzinger pointed out last week, habitable does not mean inhabited.  A paper in Icarus comparing Ganymede and Europa shows the difficulty in inferring crustal depths from crater characteristics.Saturn’s Titan:  Three papers discussed Titan recently.  One in Icarus tried to figure out how icy “sand” particles move around to form the equatorial dunes and infer something about the time involved.  Another paper in Icarus tried to refine the distribution of methane in the atmosphere.  A third paper in Icarus found that the equatorial dunes cover about 17% of the moon’s surface, and comprise the bulk of organics on Titan.  One surprise involves dating: “Dunes are the largest visible surface reservoir of hydrocarbons and may be less than 730-Myr old.”  That would be just 16% of Titan’s assumed age.Saturn and rings:  Another stunning photo of Saturn’s north polar vortex, shaped like a hexagon, was published by Space.com.  Atmospheric scientist Andrew Ingersoll said that vortices like these are “notoriously turbulent and unstable,” yet this one has been spinning at least since Voyager’s flybys in 1981.  A photo of little potato-shaped moon Prometheus is shown by PhysOrg pulling on the F-ring.  “It’s a visual demonstration of gravity at work!” the article exclaimed.  Icarus described a bit of “calm amidst the chaos” in this ephemeral ring of tiny ice particles, predicting a narrow, stable zone in the core of the ring.  How can that be, with Prometheus and Pandora constantly tugging on it?  “Essentially, we find that the F Ring core is not confined by a combination of Prometheus and Pandora, but a combination of Prometheus and precession.”  How stable over time that arrangement could be is not clear; it seems like a tenuous balance.  Astrobiology Magazine published an overview of “Cassini’s View of Weird & Wonderful Saturn,” ending with a prediction of the spacecraft’s daring attempt to “shoot the pier” in 2017 before it plunges into the gas giant.Extrasolar planets:  Now that planets around other stars are becoming commonplace, what’s new with them?  On PhysOrg, Caltech astronomer Fraser Cain discussed “What are hot Jupiters?”.  In text and video, she explains how new theories of migration were invented to account for the unexpected observation of gas giants orbiting their stars closer than Mercury to the sun every 2-3 days.  Asked how they got there, she said, either the dust disk in which they formed created a torque pulling them in, or they got slingshotted in by interactions with other planets.   Those are just some theories they’re working on.Extrasolar moons:  Space.com claims that extrasolar planets may not need a big moon to support life.  Jack Lissauer at NASA-Ames found in computer simulations that changes to obliquity without a large moon were not as dramatic as previously calculated.  “For timescales that are relevant to advanced life, it changes by maybe plus or minus 10 degrees — a lot bigger than we have with our moon, but a lot smaller and a lot fewer climate effects [than predicted by previous models],” he said.  Still, this is only a simulation.  “We’re not talking about, really, the Earth without the moon as a realistic model for the Earth, unless somebody goes out there and destroys the moon,” he said. “We’re using this as the first case of studying a plausible exoplanet, and we’re going to use some future calculations — we’re going to do the same thing with other systems.”Good time to recall Finagle’s Second Law: “No matter what the experiment’s result, there will always be someone eager to: (a) misinterpret it, (b) fake it, or (c) believe it supports his own pet theory.”  Planets spin, and so do their spin doctors.  Ask them, “What do you know?” and you get a much smaller subset of verbiage.  This is confirmed by the number of times previously held beliefs have been overturned.This is also a good time to remember Ken Ham’s debate argument contrasting observational science and historical science.  Despite Bill Nye’s denials, there is a difference (see also Todd Friel’s explanation on Wretched TV).  We can observe hot Jupiters, but we cannot retrace how they got there.  We can see Saturn’s F-ring, and dunes on Titan, but nobody was there to see how they got that way.  All one can do is model it, or create a plausible story that doesn’t violate known physics.  That being the case, alternative models should be welcomed, and any consensus view must be humbly considered tentative.last_img read more

Bok victory seals a sporting weekend

first_imgBok stalwarts: Saturday’s match against the Wallabies marked the 50th cap for both Jannie du Plessis and Morné Steyn. Photo: SA Rugby By Anne Taylor30 September 2013It was a great sporting  weekend for South Africa – Ernie Els had a cracker of a round at St Andrews putting him in contention to win the Dunhill Classic, cyclist Louis Meintjes raced to a silver medal in the under-23 road race at the UCI World Championships in  Italy – and, best of all, the Springboks beat the Australians 28-8 in a thrilling match at Newlands in Cape Town on Saturday.The All Blacks won against Argentina, setting up the final between the world’s two best teams on Saturday (October 5) at Ellis Park in Johannesburg. The Springboks will need to beat the All Blacks and score a bonus point, without conceding one, to win the Rugby Championship.“A few things we have worked on that worked, this is a special bunch of players, really hungry to do well for their country,” coach Heyneke Meyer said after the match. “We don’t play on emotion, but focus on task at hand. We are in with a chance to win championship, and are where we wanted to be.”The last time the Aussies won at the Newlands rugby stadium in Cape Town was in 1992. Saturday’s game was also the Springboks’ 50th test at Newlands, the first ground in South Africa to host the national team 50 times. And it was Morné du Plessis and Jannie du Plessis’ 50th game. Du Plessis and his brother Bismarck became the first South African siblings to achieve 50 caps a piece.Read the match report on SA.info: Bok win sets up showdown vs NZlast_img read more

21 human rights all South Africans enjoy today

first_imgApartheid laws were designed to segregate South Africa’s population in terms of race. The majority suffered discrimination in terms of education, economic rights, social standing, and eventually even citizenship. Today, the Bill of Rights enshrines many rights denied in the past.The Reservation of Separate Amenities Act of 1953, an apartheid law, specified the use of many basic amenities such as parks, benches and entrances according to race. (Image: Wikipedia)Priya PitamberMost South Africans were denied many basic human rights during the apartheid. As the country celebrates 23 years of democracy, we shine a light on some of the laws that existed back then, and how things have changed today.“The state may not unfairly discriminate directly or indirectly against anyone on one or more grounds, including race, gender, sex, pregnancy, marital status, ethnic or social origin, colour, sexual orientation, age, disability, religion, conscience, belief, culture, language and birth.” – Bill of Rights1. Then: Black Land Act of 1913This law stopped black South Africans from owning or even renting land that was outside the reserves.Now: It was cancelled by section one of the Abolition of Racially Based Land Measures Act No 108 of 1991. This meant that anyone could own or rent any land.2. Then: Electoral Laws Amendment Act of 1940Under this law, only white South Africans over the age of 18 were allowed to vote.Now: Every person who has a valid South African identity book, and is over the age of 18, can register and vote. “Every adult citizen has the right to vote in elections for any legislative body established in terms of the Constitution, and to do so in secret,” reads the Bill of Rights.3. Then: The Prohibition of Mixed Marriages Act of 1949When the National Party came into power in South Africa in 1948, it implemented various apartheid laws. This act banned marriage between any white person and a person of another a different racial group.Now: Everyone has the right to marry the person of their choice. The Civil Union Act of 2006 also allows same-sex partners to marry.4. Then: Immorality Amendment Act of 1950This law made it illegal for people from two different race groups to have sex. It also prohibited other acts considered illegal under the Christian government of the time, such as adultery or attempted adultery.Now: All South Africans are free to choose their sexual partners, and the number of partners they have.5. Then: Suppression of Communism Act of 1950This act outlawed the South African Communist Party (SACP) and all communist propaganda. It also authorised the punishment or banning of anyone participating in communist activities.Now: The SACP is part of the Tripartite Alliance with African National Congress (ANC), which rules the country, and the Congress of South African Trade Unions (Cosatu).6. Then: The Group Areas Act of 1950This law made residential separation by race group mandatory. The government set up different areas where blacks, coloureds, Indians and whites could live. It led to thousands of people being relocated to designated areas based on race alone.Now: People are free to live where they want to live. “Every citizen has the right to enter, to remain in and to reside anywhere in, the Republic,” states the Bill of Rights.7. Then: The Population Registration Act of 1950This act divided South Africans into different race groups; these groups determined an individual’s economic, social and political rights. It used methods such as the ‘pencil test’ – a pencil was placed in an individual’s hair to determine the kink. If the pencil did not easily fall out, then the individual fell into the black population category.Now: While South Africans are still classified according to race, it is solely the basis for collecting population census information and addressing the inequalities of the past.8. Then: The Bantu Authorities Act of 1951The government set up areas known as homelands for the black population. Each operated independently under a leader, but they were still subordinate to the South African government. A map shows the homelands set up by the apartheid government. (Image: Wikipedia) Now: The homelands are all a part of South Africa, which is a single republic divided into nine provinces.9. Then: Natives (Abolition of Passes and Co-ordination of Documents) Act of 1952Under this act, the old pass book was replaced with a reference book containing a person’s image, place of origin, tax records, employment details, fingerprints and encounters with the police. All black men were required to carry this hated document, colloquially known as a dompas, and failure to produce it when asked by the police was an offence. When the system was extended to black women, they protested by marching from Johannesburg to the Union Buildings in Pretoria, in 1956.Now: There is a standard identity document for all citizens of South Africa.10. Then: Bantu Education Act of 1953Under this education system, black children were taught a different curriculum from white children. The aim was to provide them with skills to work in manual jobs only. “There is no place for the Bantu in the European community above the level of certain forms of labour,” said Dr HF Verwoerd, the prime minister and prime architect of apartheid. “Until now he has been subjected to a school system which drew him away from his own community and misled him by showing him green pastures of European society in which he was not allowed to graze.”Now: All schools fall under a single, national Department of Education. “Everyone has the right to a basic education, including adult basic education,” reads the Bill of Rights.11. Then: Reservation of Separate Amenities Act of 1953This law stated that there should be separate facilities such as toilets, beaches and parks for different race groups. This was indicated by signs seen throughout the country. The act also stated that the quality of the amenities should be different. A sign in Durban, from the apartheid years, indicates the beach is for whites only. (Image: Wikipedia)Now: South Africans are free to use any toilet, or play in any park, or swim at any beach they prefer. “Everyone has the right to freedom of movement,” states the Bill of Rights.12. Then: Natives Resettlement Act of 1954This act allowed the removal of black people from the area next to the magistrate’s court in Johannesburg. It made it legal for the removal of the black population out of Sophiatown, in Johannesburg, to relocate them to Soweto. Sophiatown was renamed Triomf, meaning “triumph” in Afrikaans, after the removal.Now: The suburb was eventually renamed Sophiatown in 2006.13. Then: Natives (Prohibition of Interdicts) Act of 1956This law made it illegal for blacks to apply to courts for protection by means of an interdict, or use the legal system to protest against any apartheid law.Now: All South Africans are able to use the legal system and everyone is equal before the law. The Bill of Rights states: “Everyone has the right to have any dispute that can be resolved by the application of law decided in a fair public hearing before a court or, where appropriate, another independent and impartial tribunal or forum.”14. Then: Riotous Assemblies Act of 1956Gathering in public spaces was illegal if the Minister of the Justice deemed it to be an endangerment to public peace.Now: South Africans can gather en masse, even if they are protesting against government policies, although they do need permission from the police for large gatherings. “Everyone has the right, peacefully and unarmed, to assemble, to demonstrate, to picket and to present petitions,” reads the Bill of Rights.15. Then: Extension of University Education Act of 1959Different tertiary institutions were set up for different races and ethnicities; for example, the University of Fort Hare was set up for isiXhosa speaking people and the University of the North was designated for seSotho and Tswana speaking students.Now: All universities are open to anyone who makes the grade and are able to pay the fees. “Everyone has the right to further education, which the state, through reasonable measures, must make progressively available and accessible,” states the Bill of Rights.16. Then: Unlawful Organisations Act of 1960Organisations that threatened public peace were declared unlawful, which immediately affected the ANC and the Pan Africanist Congress (PAC).Now: Everyone is free to form any organisation because the Bill of Rights ensures “everyone has the right to freedom of association”.17. Then: Prohibition of Mixed Marriages Amendment Act of 1968This law invalidated any marriage that took place outside South Africa between a male citizen and a woman of another race.Now: South Africans can love and marry whomever they choose.18. Then: Bantu Homelands Citizens Act of 1970Black people became citizens of their homelands and were denied the right to South African citizenship.Now: All South Africans enjoy full citizenship of the country. “No citizen may be deprived of citizenship,” states the Bill of Rights.19. Then: Black Laws Amendment Act of 1973This law sped up the process of removing blacks from their places of residence, to a homeland. If they refused to move, they were no longer allowed to appeal the decision.Now: South Africans are free to live anywhere in the country. “No one may be evicted from their home, or have their home demolished, without an order of court made after considering all the relevant circumstances,” reads the Bill of Rights. “No legislation may permit arbitrary evictions.”20. Then: Newspaper and Imprint Registration Act of 1977This meant that newspapers had to be registered and conform to a code of conduct.Now: “Everyone has the right to freedom of expression, which includes freedom of the press and other media,” states the Bill of Rights.21. Then: Internal Security Act of 1979The law allowed the government to declare any organisation illegal and meetings of more than 20 people were illegal unless they had received permission from a magistrate.Now: People are free to form an organisation and meet when needed.Sources: South African History Online and the Constitutional Court websiteWould you like to use this article in your publication or on your website? See Using Brand South Africa material.last_img read more