Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Mount Merapi in Central Java.Image via WikipediaThousands have fled erupting volcano  on Mount Merapi in Java

At least 29 people are reported to have been killed as a volcano erupted in Indonesia, prompting terrified villagers to flee and join the thousands already evacuated from its slopes.

People near the volcano have suffered burns and breathing problems.

Mt Merapi on Java island erupted on Tuesday evening, a day after the alert status was raised to the highest level.

Included among the death toll is an elder known as the volcano's spiritual gatekeeper. Mbah, or grandfather Marijan, was found dead in his burnt house about 4km from the peak.

The BBC cites local media saying emergency teams had found 12 bodies in the area close to the mountain, while AFP says the volcano had claimed the life of a three-month-old baby girl.

Adi Mulyanto, an emergency ward doctor at the Panti Nugroho Hospital in Sleman, told the Reuters news agency that at least six people had been badly burned by hot air bursting out of the volcano.

He said three of those had been rushed to hospital with burns to more than 80% of their bodies.

The mountain's peak was clouded with smoke, making it impossible to see if lava was spewing out, but ash was raining down on frightened residents.

Plumes of smoke and volcanic ash pour out of Mt Merapi.

Authorities had been trying since Monday to evacuate more than 11,000 villagers living on the volcano's slopes.

In a 1994 eruption, after the volcano's lava dome collapsed, 70 people were killed. The volcano killed 1,300 people in 1930.

In September, another Indonesian volcano, Mt Sinabung, on Sumatra island to the west, erupted after laying dormant for 400 years, forcing a mass evacuation.

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Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Young gunman shoots his cousin after squabble over hunting knife...

 A 13-year-old boy has been convicted of manslaughter after fatally shooting his 11-year-old relative last year.

The father of the convicted teenager has pleaded guilty to attempting to pervert the course of justice after it was found he had tried to cover up the truth behind the shooting, reports the New Zealand Herald.

The victim, 11-year-old Triston Papuni, had been staying with his relative at an East Cape farm in July last year when an argument broke out.

The convicted teenager, who was 12 at the time, was in a room with Triston, along with a 17-year-old friend, when the younger boys disagreed over who was taking a knife on a hunting trip.

Police say the accused, whose name has been suppressed, pulled out a semi-automatic rifle belonging to his father from under the table and threatened to shoot Triston.

After poking Triston with the gun, the accused then loaded two bullets into the rifle and asked his relative if he was going to continue to be "cheeky", reports the NZ Herald.

Triston started yelling and as he turned away, the gun was fired. Triston died almost instantly, the court heard, after the bullet travelled through his body.

Before the police arrived at the scene, the father of the accused had told his son and the 17-year-old witness to say that Triston had "got the gun from under the bed."

Both boys told police this and also said the gun had accidentally fired when the 12-year-old was trying to get the rifle from Triston.

Their accounts did not match post mortem findings and the 17-year-witness recanted the story.

A police firearms expect had said that he could not rule out that the gun went off accidentally so the 12-year-old was charged with manslaughter, not murder, which he pled guilty to.

The father and son will be sentenced next month.

Acknowledgements:  NZ Herald

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University of Michigan SealImage via Wikipedia

Good For Your Wallet, Good For Your Brain - Retire Later...

A report published this month in The Journal of Economic Perspectives suggests your brain may benefit from work. Researchers at the University of Michigan analyzed memory performance in men and women ages 60-64 who lived in a variety of countries with different retirement ages. They found that people living in countries with later retirement ages performed better. For example, individuals living in the United States, Denmark and England recalled an average of 10-11 out of 20 words across immediate and delayed recall tests. The averages in Spain, Italy, and France, on the other hand, were closer to 6-8 words.

The researchers found, in general, that memory performance was much better in countries where people tended to work into their early 60s. In this particular study, for example, the researchers found that 50% of the US respondents and 10% of the French respondents were still working after the age of 60.

The researchers determined that working may help preserve cognitive function. This conclusion is consistent with the notion of cognitive reserve -- the idea that those who challenge their brains throughout life are somewhat protected from cognitive decline.

The good news, though, is that employment is not the only way to build cognitive reserve. Other approaches include engaging in educational activities, taking on challenging new hobbies, and brain training. Start building your cognitive reserve today with 25% of your Lumosity membership!


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Christchurch Hospital and Hagley High School, ...Image via Wikipedia
Crowd of  over 100,000  partied at Hagley Park last weekend in  Christchurch earthquake relief concert...

Crowds continue to stream into earthquake relief concert Band Together in Hagley Park this afternoon, with numbers approaching 100,000.

The audience, a mix of all age groups, appears good natured with emergency services reporting few problems.

Police have reported no trouble so far apart from a few "lost children" and St John have only transported one person to hospital who was suffering from a medical condition.

Ex Fur Patrol singer Julia Deans is currently performing with Prime Minister John Key expected to arrive soon.

The concert will run until 8pm and acts still to come include The Exponents, The Feelers, Dave Dobbyn and Bic Runga.

Mayor Bob Parker said he was looking forward to the performances, although not so much to his guitar cameo.

"I think the thought of the concert has kept us going over the last few weeks. It's going to be an amazing day," he said.

Parker said Band Together would give Cantabrians a chance to celebrate their resilience and think about "all the things we didn't lose" during the September 4 earthquake.

"Although things are still difficult for many people, there were no lives lost, and that's worth recognising."

The televised concert was a chance to show gratitude to those outside Canterbury who had helped out in the quake aftermath, Parker said.

He confirmed he would have a small part playing guitar with his "rock'n'roll heroes", The Bats.

"I haven't done too much practice," he said. "I think I'll just slide to the back of the stage."

One of the concert organisers, Opshop frontman Jason Kerrison, said driving around quake-damaged Dallington yesterday brought home the amount of rebuilding work to be done.

"Therefore I cannot use the word exciting when talking about the Band Together concert – not when people are using portable toilets at their front gate and still don't have any water," he said.

"The word I would use to describe how I feel is `overwhelmed' – overwhelmed by the generosity of everyone who has made the day work."

Kerrison said the concert was about families and the city getting together and relaxing and having fun together.

"I've watched this go from an idea to an email thread, and yesterday I stood in Hagley Park while a guy told me this was the biggest setup the council had ever been involved with. It's humbling," he said.

Exponents singer Jordan Luck said at a sound check last night that the band members wanted to do their part to help their home region.

"It goes without saying that we wouldn't be here without Canterbury people," he said. "We were formed here and we played pretty much every venue we could."

Luck said many Cantabrians appeared to be in a state of "psychological devastation".

Ad Feedback The concert was a chance for people "just to enjoy how beautiful Christchurch is", he said.

Council marketing manager Richard Stokes said concertgoers should use public transport if possible as there would be no public parking available at the concert. Council car parks would be open later than usual to allow people to park there and walk to the concert.

Stokes said people would need to be patient. The council would close some roads around Hagley Park to manage traffic and ease safety concerns, he said.

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Sunday, October 24, 2010

Image representing Facebook as depicted in Cru...Image via CrunchBase

BOSTON, Mass. (WWLP) - Teachers could soon be fired if they friend students on Facebook.

According to the Boston Herald, the Massachusetts Association of School Committees has released a new policy on social networking.

Right now, this policy is merely a suggestion to school districts.

But, if adapted, it would force schools to bar teachers from friending students on Facebook.

Additionally, teachers could not give out their cell phone number to students.

And it asks administrators to "periodically" check the internet to make sure these rules aren't violated.

If they are, the teachers could be fired or disaplined.

Some schools in the Eastern part of the state are considering the policy.

We asked residents here in western Massachusetts what they think about this Facebook crackdown.

"That's good. Yeah, I think that's real good. When I was in high school there was a lot of young teachers, and vunerable girls. I think they're like preying on them to be honest with you," said Garrett Moylan of East Longmeadow.

"I think it's the kind of thing that depends on a case by case situation. My wife is a teacher and she has her own policy not to allow her students to be her friend until after they graduate," said Anton Nickel of New York City.

The Boston Herald reports that opponents of this policy say it's "too-big brother like."

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