Tag: morning (page 5 of 18)

Gas falling under $3 per gallon nationwide







NEW YORK (AP) — The sight is so surprising that Americans are sharing photos of it, along with all those cute Halloween costumes, sweeping vistas and special meals: The gas station sign, with a price under $3 a gallon.
"It's stunning what's happening here," says Tom Kloza, chief oil analyst at the Oil Price Information Service. "I'm a little bit shocked."
The national average price of gasoline has fallen 33 cents in October, landing Friday at $3.00, according to AAA. Kloza said the average will fall under $3 by early Saturday morning for the first time in four years.
When the national average crossed above $3 a gallon in December of 2010, drivers weren't sure they'd ever see $2.99 again. Global demand for oil and gasoline was rising as people in developing countries bought cars by the tens of millions and turmoil was brewing in the oil-rich Middle East.
Now demand isn't rising as fast as expected, drillers have learned to tap vast new sources of oil, particularly in the U.S., and crude continues to flow out of the Middle East.
Seasonal swings and other factors will likely send gas back over $3 sooner than drivers would like, but the U.S. is on track for the lowest annual average since 2010 — and the 2015 average is expected to be lower even still.
Trisha Pena of Hermitage, Tenn., recently paid $2.57 a gallon to fill up her Honda CRV. Like many around the country these days, she was so surprised and delighted by the price she took a photo and posted it on social media for her friends to see. "I can't remember the last time it cost under $30 to put 10 or 11 gallons in my tank," she said in an interview. "A month ago it was in the $3.50 range, and that's where it had been for a very long time."
Here are a few things to know about cheap gas:
— Crude prices came off the boil. Oil fell from $107 a barrel in June to near $81 because there's a lot of supply and weak demand. U.S. output has increased 70 percent since 2008, and supplies from Iraq and Canada have also increased. At the same time, demand is weaker than expected because of a sluggish global economy.
— In the past, a stronger economy in the U.S., the world's biggest consumer of oil and gasoline, typically meant rising fuel demand. No longer. Americans are driving more efficient vehicles and our driving habits are changing. Michael Sivak of the University of Michigan Transportation Research Institute calculates that the number of miles traveled per household and gallons of fuel consumed per household peaked in 2004.
— The drop from last year's average of $3.51 per gallon will save the typical U.S. household about $50 a month.
— The drop will save the U.S. economy $187 million a day, and also boost the profits of shippers, airlines, and any company that sends employees out on sales calls or for deliveries.
— It will take an extra 1.5 years to make purchasing a higher-priced, better-mileage Toyota Prius instead of a Toyota Corolla pay off.
— New York's average of $3.37 is the highest in the continental U.S. South Carolina and Tennessee are the lowest, with an average of $2.75.
— Politicians are either going to take the credit for lower gasoline prices or blame the other party for not helping them fall further. Don't listen. There are small things politicians can do over long time horizons, like implement fuel economy standards or ease drilling regulations, but the decline in prices is mainly due to market forces.

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Virgin Galactic’s SpaceShipTwo Crashes: 1 Dead, 1 Injured

Image: Wreckage from Virgin Galactic's SpaceShipTwo is shown in this still image captured from KNBC video footage from Mojave California
Crash site of Virgin Galactic's SpaceShipTwo





Virgin Galactic’s SpaceShipTwo rocket plane exploded and crashed during a test flight on Friday, killing one crew member and seriously injuring another, authorities said.
The explosion came after the plane dropped away from its WhiteKnightTwo carrier airplane and fired up its hybrid rocket engine, said Stuart Witt, CEO and general manager of the Mojave Air and Space Port in California. The blast scattered debris across a two-mile swath of the desert floor north of Mojave, which is about 95 miles (150 kilometers) outside Los Angeles.
One of the two test pilots aboard the plane was killed, said Kern County Sheriff Donny Youngblood, who was among the officials dealing with the crash's aftermath.
The other parachuted to the ground and was injured. That pilot was transferred to Antelope Valley Hospital in Lancaster, California, according to Kern County Deputy Fire Chief Michael Cody. 

"We hope that the survivor will be just fine," Youngblood said during a news briefing.
The pilots have not yet been identified, but both of them worked for Mojave-based Scaled Composites, according to Scaled's president, Kevin Mickey. Scaled has played a key role in developing and testing SpaceShipTwo for Virgin Galactic.
Virgin Galactic had planned to use this SpaceShipTwo to fly passengers on suborbital trips to the edge of space, beginning as early as next year. A nearly identical rocket plane is already under construction inside a Mojave hangar. More than 700 customers, including celebrities such as Ashton Kutcher and Justin Bieber, have paid as much as $250,000 to take a ride.
George T. Whitesides, Virgin Galactic's CEO, said the company would press on despite the setback.
"Space is hard, and today was a tough day," Whitesides told reporters. "We are going to be supporting the investigation as we figure out what happened today, and we're going to get through it. The future rests in many ways on hard, hard days like this. But we believe we owe it to the folks who were flying these vehicles as well as the folks who are working so hard on them to understand this and to move forward."
Witt said Mojave's close-knit aviation community was hit hard by the tragedy.
"When we have a mishap from the test community, we find that the test community is very small," he said. "We are human, and it hurts." 

View image on Twitter

First powered flight in months

SpaceShipTwo's crew was testing the rocket engine in flight for the first time in more than nine months. The plane was slung beneath WhiteKnightTwo for takeoff from the Mojave Air and Space Port at about 9:20 a.m. PT (12:20 p.m. ET). When the paired planes reached a height of about 50,000 feet, about 40 minutes later, SpaceShipTwo was released for the test.
Witt said the anomaly occurred about two minutes after SpaceShipTwo dropped away and fired the rocket engine, but he didn't see any explosion. "It wasn't because something did happen. It was what I was not hearing and not seeing," Witt said.
Photographer Ken Brown, who was covering the test flight, told NBC News that he saw an explosion high in the air and later came upon SpaceShipTwo debris scattered across a small area of the desert. The WhiteKnightTwo plane and its pilots, meanwhile, landed safely.
Authorities cordoned off the crash site pending an investigation. A National Transportation Safety Board team was expected to get to the crash site Saturday morning. The Federal Aviation Administration said it was also investigating the incident. 

New kind of fuel tested

During the nine months since the previous rocket-powered test in January, Virgin Galactic switched SpaceShipTwo's fuel mixture from a rubber-based compound to a plastic-based mix — in hopes that the new formulation would boost the hybrid rocket engine's performance.
Mickey said engines using the new type of fuel had been thoroughly tested on the ground. The final pre-flight qualification engine firing took place earlier this month. Friday's test marked the first time the new fuel was used in flight, but Mickey said "we expected no anomalies with the motor today."
Before Friday's flight, the most recent aerial outing was on Oct. 7, when SpaceShipTwo took an unpowered, gliding flight back to the Mojave runway.
The fatal flight was part of SpaceShipTwo's years-long test program, following up on the successful suborbital spaceflights of the smaller SpaceShipOne rocket plane in 2004. Virgin Galactic had said SpaceShipTwo's first test flight to an outer-space altitude — usually defined as 100 kilometers, or 62 miles — could have taken place before the end of the year.
The company's billionaire founder, Richard Branson, was hoping to ride on the first commercial flight next year. Over the past decade, he and his investment partners have put hundreds of millions of dollars into the Virgin Galactic venture. After Friday's crash, Branson said in a Twitter update that he was "flying to Mojave immediately to be with the team."
Image: SpaceShipTwo and WhiteKnightTwoJason DiVenere / Scaled Composites
Virgin Galactic's SpaceShipTwo rocket plane is slung beneath the WhiteKnightTwo carrier plane before Friday's takeoff.
NBC News' Julianne Pepitone and James Eng contributed to this report. NBCUniversal has established a multi-platform partnership with Virgin Galactic to track the development of SpaceShipTwo and televise Branson's spaceflight.

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Erie Paris Catacombs Open at Night Ahead of Halloween

rewrwer345252.jpg
Skulls and bones are stacked at the Catacombs in Paris, France. The subterranean tunnels, stretching over a mile, cradle the bones of some 6 million Parisians from centuries past and once gave refuge to smugglers. (AP Photo)


foxnews.com

As if visiting the Paris Catacombs in the daytime wasn't creepy enough — you can now visit the underground maze of skeletons after nightfall, too. That is if you dare defy the warning at the entrance: "Stop, this is the empire of Death."
The subterranean tunnels, stretching 2 kilometers (1.2 miles), cradle the bones of some 6 million Parisians from centuries past and once gave refuge to smugglers.
Twenty meters (66 feet) beneath the French capital's medieval streets, labyrinthine walls of bones and skulls bring visitors into the city of the dead, in a spooky atmosphere that attracts history enthusiasts as well as visitors looking for a chilling place to celebrate Halloween.
The site used to close at 5 p.m., but is now staying open until 8 p.m. The change is mainly aimed at allowing more people to visit and reducing long lines, but it also adds to the thrill: entering and leaving the catacombs after dark feels different from doing it in daylight.
Human remains started to be transferred to the former underground quarries of Paris in 1786, when the main cemetery of Paris —the Cemetery of Innocents — was closed for public health reasons. From 1809 on, the catacombs were rearranged into organized galleries, with piled bones forming walls and pillars, and even some artistic shapes made of femurs and skulls.
Sacred and profane maxims and poems are posted around the galleries, such as: "Think in the morning that perhaps you won't survive until evening, and in the evening that perhaps you won't survive until morning."
Valerie Guillaume, director of the Catacombs, stressed the philosophical nature of the unusual tourist site.
"The place was not conceived to be a horror place, but as a reflection on the meaning of life and death," she said.
Sylvie Robin, the Catacombs' curator, described the extensive smuggling that went on in the tunnels in the past and contributed to its scary reputation.
"That's the origin of all the legends," she said, because the smugglers used to scare the Parisians with lights and noises, so that no one would come and see what they were doing.
———
Open from 10 a.m. to 8 p.m. (last admission at 7 p.m.), closed on Mondays and public holidays. General admission: 10 euros (about $12.70). Tour of 2 kilometers (1.2 miles) takes around 45 minutes, with 130 steps to go down and 83 steps back up to street level. Not accessible to people with reduced mobility.

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India’s Mars mission: A Picture that Spoke 1,000 words

When the crowded command control room of India's Mars mission exploded into applause after it successfully put a satellite into orbit around the Red Planet, photographer Manjunath Kiran of the AFP news agency clicked this remarkable image of scienti...

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U.S. Creates Largest Protected Area in the World ~ 3X Larger than California


Photo of fish swimming in the Palmyra Atoll.
A school of fish swims under the water around Palmyra Atoll, in an area of the Pacific that is already part of a marine sanctuary.
Photograph by Randy Olson, National Geographic



By Brian Clark Howard




NEW YORK—The Obama administration announced Thursday that it will create the largest marine reserve in the world by expanding an existing monument around U.S.-controlled islands and atolls in the central Pacific.


The Pacific Remote Islands Marine National Monument will now be nearly 490,000 square miles, nearly three times the size of California and six times larger than its previous size. Commercial fishing, dumping, and mining will be prohibited in the reserve, but recreational fishing will be allowed with permits, and boaters may visit the area.


The protected area that Secretary of State John Kerry announced this morning is actually smaller than the 782,000 square miles that the president initially considered. But environmentalists, preservationists, and conservation groups that had pushed for the expansion called President Barack Obama's designation a historic victory in their efforts to limit the impact of fishing, drilling, and other activities that threaten some of the world's most species-rich waters.

Map of the pacific remote islands.
MAGGIE SMITH, NG STAFF. SOURCES: U.S. FISH AND WILDLIFE SERVICE; USGS; MARINE CONSERVATION INSTITUTE


"What has happened is extraordinary. It is history making. There is a lot of reason we should be celebrating right now," said Elliott Norse, founder and chief scientist of the Seattle-based Marine Conservation Institute.


Enric Sala, an ocean scientist and National Geographic Explorer-in-Residence, called the newly expanded monument "a great example of marine protection."


During the past several years, Sala and National Geographic's Pristine Seas project—which aims to explore, survey, and protect several of the last wild places in the world's oceans—have been key players in expeditions to the region that helped to put a spotlight on its biodiversity. Sala also met with White House officials to make the scientific case for expanding the Pacific Remote Islands monument. 


Photo of a sea anemone providing cover for a transparent shrimp in Kingman Reef, Pacific Ocean.
Tentacles of a sea anemone provide cover for a transparent shrimp in Kingman Reef, which is part of the existing marine sanctuary. Photograph by Brian Skerry, National Geographic Creative


In announcing the expansion of protected marine areas, Kerry said, “We’re committed to protecting more of the world's ocean. Today, one to three percent of the ocean is protected, that's it. That's why President Obama will sign a proclamation today that will create one of the largest maritime protected areas in the world. It will be protected in perpetuity.”

Michael Boots, chairman of the White House's Council on Environmental Quality, made clear that by expanding protected areas, the administration sought to balance the need to preserve a range of marine species with concerns from the fishing industry, which had warned about the economic impact of curtailing deep-sea fishing areas.

"We thought [the monument decision] was a good way to balance what the science was telling us was important to protect and the needs of those who use the area," Boots said.


The administration said in a statement late Wednesday that "expanding the monument will more fully protect the deep coral reefs, seamounts, and marine ecosystems unique to this part of the world, which are also among the most vulnerable areas to the impacts of climate change and ocean acidification."


In June, when he first announced his intent to expand the monument, Obama said, "I'm using my authority as president to protect some of our nation's most pristine marine monuments, just like we do on land."


The June announcement was followed by a public comment period and further analysis by the White House, officials said. Thousands of people submitted comments, with many conservation groups and scientists offering their support. Some fishing and cannery groups, as well as a few members of the U.S. Congress opposed the expansion, citing the potential a loss of commercial fishing grounds. 


Norse said that the newly protected areas will safeguard endangered seabirds and other key species, including five endangered sea turtle species (such as loggerheads and leatherbacks), sooty terns and other terns, silky sharks and oceanic whitetip sharks, beaked whales, manta rays, red-tailed tropic birds, and deep-sea corals.

The expanded monument will help ensure that "there are some places that are as pristine as possible for as long as possible," Norse said. "I think a hundred years from now, people will be praising Barack Obama for having the vision to protect the Pacific remote islands."


"A Big Step"


Obama's Democratic administration is building on a national monument that was first created by his predecessor, Republican President George W. Bush, suggesting that "ocean protection may be one of the last bipartisan issues" in the politically divided United States, says David Helvarg, the author of several books on the ocean and the founder of the advocacy group Blue Frontier Campaign.

Democratic and Republican presidents going all the way back to Teddy Roosevelt, a Republican who served from 1901 to 1909, have used the 1906 Antiquities Act to designate national monuments. The law requires simply that an area be unique and considered worthy of protection for future generations. This is the 12th time Obama has used his authority under the Antiquities Act to protect environmental areas.

The area being protected by the administration will expand the protected areas from 50 miles offshore to 200 miles offshore around three areas—Wake Island, Johnston Atoll, and Jarvis Island—the maximum reach of the United States’ exclusive economic zone. The current 50-mile offshore protections around the Howland and Baker islands, and Kingman Reef and Palmyra Atoll, will not change.


"Although 71 percent of our planet is covered with saltwater, we have protected much more of the land than the ocean," Helvarg said. But the newly expanded monument is a big step in the right direction, he added.

Enforcing fishing bans in the monument will be a big challenge, Kerry acknowledged. "Agreements won't matter if no one is enforcing them," he said. "It's going to take training and resources."
Kerry said one measure that could help deter illegal fishing in the region, as well as around the world, would be to implement the Port State Measures Agreement, an international treaty that requires member nations to prevent illegally caught fish from entering the market. Eleven nations or parties have ratified the agreement, but a total of 25 must sign before the treaty will take effect.

"Our goal is to get this done this year," Kerry said.


Meanwhile, efforts to preserve more biologically diverse waters continue.


This week, National Geographic Society announced that it is dramatically expanding its campaign to help protect marine areas, with a goal of persuading governments to officially safeguard more than 770,000 square miles.


The plan, announced by former President Bill Clinton, includes programs that target the Seychelles—an archipelago in the Indian Ocean—northern Greenland, and South America's Patagonia region. The program builds on National Geographic's Pristine Seas project, which has financed ten scientific expeditions to remote areas of ocean around the world, including in the South Pacific and off Africa, Russia, and South America.

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Spinning the Web of Life

by Julian RoseContributor, ZenGardner.comSpiders do it. Take a look – oh what an amazing creation! Working their way out from the first circle; filling-in every loop of the circuit; spinning on the outward pull; determined, full of intention, guided by Divine. So my friends, why can’t we?Look at that final creation on the garden gate on a misty October morning – wow – what a stunner! Stay looking and what do you see? A little universe spun into being, oh so de [...]

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Peace Through Synchronized Global Meditation

Lance Schuttler, Personable MediaWe live in a world today where the idea of group power is being rekindled and where it’s momentum is gathering. Humanity as a whole is remembering that it is thoughts and actions of kindness, honesty and equality for all that create positive change.One initiative that is expanding throughout religious and spiritual groups, as well as on blogs and other social media sites is globally synchronized meditation/prayer gatherings.To some, believing that tho [...]

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30 Life Changing Lessons to Learn from Thích Nhất Hạnh

Luminita Saviuc, Purpose FairyWhen I think of Thích Nhất Hạnh, words like – stillness, love, compassion, peace and oneness, come to mind. And even though these are some really beautiful and powerful words, they somehow can’t really express the beautiful, pure and loving feelings that I get from reading Thích Nhất Hạnh’s books and watching his beautiful videos.Thích Nhất Hạnh is someone who’s wor [...]

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