Tuesday, March 29, 2011
The skies were blue and sunny, the runways clear of snow and ice, and traffic should have flowed routinely through Oslo’s main airport at Gardermoen (OSL) after a rough winter. Instead, the airport was forced to close on a busy spring afternoon, because of a mysterious aircraft that entered its air space and stayed there.
Officials were still unsure Friday morning who was behind the problem that forced aviation officials to redirect all incoming flights for nearly two hours on Thursday, because a small unidentified aircraft resembling a hang-glider or sail plane hovered at 8,000 feet in the middle of the airport’s landing patterns.
As many as 15,000 passengers had their plans ruined, because their flights were sent off to land at outlying airports like Torp and Rygge, or even as far away as Fagernes and Stockholm. Either they missed onward connections from Gardermoen, or wound up far away from their intended destinations. And the lack of incoming aircraft hit departures hard, too.
A spokesman for Scandinavian Airlines (SAS), Knut Morten Johansen, told Norwegian Broadcasting (NRK) Friday that the disruption also cost the airlines millions “because it affected so many flights and so many passengers.”
It was the crew on board an SAS flight that first spotted the small aircraft at the same elevation that the scheduled airlines maintain on approach to OSL. At first an SAS pilot said it looked like a hang-glider, while later reports called it a sail plane. It was not possible to establish any radio contact with its pilot.
The mysterious aircraft made it impossible for the incoming flights to land, and airport spokesman Jo Kobro of Oslo Lufthavn (OSL) said it hovered in the skies for more than an hour. “After a while, there were many planes in the air, and they had to fly instead to Torp, Rygge, Kjevik (the airport for Kristiansand in southern Norway), Fagernes, and I know that one flight landed at Stockholm,” Kobro said.
News From Norway
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President Dmitry Medvedev has urged U.S. President Barack Obama to help prevent civilian deaths in Libya, even as Russia's NATO envoy warned that the U.S.-led military alliance could be dragged into a full-scale war.
NATO has control of an arms embargo on Libya and agreed last week to assume command of a no-fly zone over its territory, but Washington has been left in control of conducting airstrikes against Libyan leaderMoammar Gadhafi's ground forces.
The United States hopes to hand over control of the airstrikes as soon as possible and said over the weekend that it expected NATO to take command of it soon.
Russian Ambassador Dmitry Rogozin said Saturday that NATO risked being caught in a war in Libya like those being waged in Afghanistan and Iraq.
"Just as we forecast, NATO is being drawn deeper and deeper into war in North Africa," Rogozin told Interfax.
"The statements we are hearing today from NATO members and the alliance on the whole could draw this bloc into a full-scale operation on Libyan territory, which means essentially the U.S. and its closest allies could be drawn into a third war in addition to those in Iraq and Afghanistan," he said.
Russia backed United Nations sanctions against Gadhafi and his government earlier this month but abstained in a Security Council vote that authorized a no-fly zone, allowing armed intervention by a Western coalition.
In a phone call with Obama, Medvedev said the deaths of Libyan civilians during Western military intervention must be prevented, the Kremlin said in a statement.
"The president especially noted the necessity of preventing victims among the civilian population," the statement said late last week.
In Washington, the Obama administration said Obama had expressed his appreciation for Russia's support for the UN sanctions and positive statements Medvedev has made about the resolution's mandate.
Gadhafi has accused Western forces of killing dozens of civilians, but his officials have not shown reporters in Tripoli any evidence of such killings. U.S. officials say they have no evidence Western bombs have killed any civilians.
Prime Minister Vladimir Putin has taken a harder stance than Medvedev, comparing the UN resolution to "medieval calls for crusades." He also said those responsible for civilian deaths in Libya should "pray for the salvation of their souls."
Rights group Memorial responded late last week that Putin should pray for his soul for inflicting a Libya-style bombing on Chechnya a decade ago.
"Putin has visibly completely forgotten about what took place in his own country and about his own implication in those tragic events," Memorial said in a statement. "Maybe the prime minister himself should pray first of all for the salvation of his own soul?"
Putin rose to popularity when he led an invasion of Chechnya in 1999 on the eve of his presidency, starting the second Chechen war.
Meanwhile, Medvedev expressed concern over tensions in North Africa and the Middle East at a meeting Friday with visiting Saudi Foreign Minister Saud al-Faisal, the Kremlin said.
The Saudi foreign minister carried a message from King Abdullah, stressing the need to maintain close coordination of policies between Russia and Saudi Arabia in the Middle East and North Africa in the face of recent events.
"The Russian side expressed concern over the sharp jump in tensions in the region," said a statement on the Kremlin web site.
Saudi Arabia has seen unrest rise, especially among its Shiite population as protests have rocked the Arab world in Tunisia, Egypt, Yemen and Bahrain this year.
The Moscow Times
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Daniel 12:4 (King James Version)
4But thou, O Daniel, shut up the words, and seal the book, even to the time of the end: many shall run to and fro, and knowledge shall be increased.
Leaves – the kind that grow on trees – create energy from sunlight and water through the process of photosynthesis. For over a decade, scientists have been kicking around the idea of creating an "artificial leaf." Such a device would use sunlight to split water into hydrogen and oxygen, which could then be stored in a fuel cell and used to create electricity. A functioning artificial leaf has been created before, but was impractical due to the fact that it was made from expensive materials, and was highly unstable. Now, however, scientists are reporting that they have created a cost-effective, stable artificial leaf.
"A practical artificial leaf has been one of the Holy Grails of science for decades," said MIT's Dr. Daniel Nocera, who led the research team. "We believe we have done it. The artificial leaf shows particular promise as an inexpensive source of electricity for homes of the poor in developing countries. Our goal is to make each home its own power station."
Nocera's leaf is about the size of a poker card (but thinner), and is made of silicon, electronics, and nickel and cobalt catalysts – all materials that are relatively inexpensive and widely-available. Placed in a gallon of water in bright sunlight, it is said to be able to produce enough electricity to supply a house in a developing country for a day. It would be connected to a fuel cell located either on top of or beside the house.
When tested under laboratory conditions, it was able to operate continuously for at least 45 hours without a drop in activity. Newly discovered nickel and cobalt catalysts are the key to the leaf's practicality, allowing it to reportedly operate at ten times the efficiency of a natural leaf. Nocera believes that the efficiency can be boosted much higher in future versions and has founded a company called Sun Catalytix to pursue development of the technology.
John Turner of the U.S. National Renewable Energy Laboratory created a functioning artificial leaf over ten years ago, but it incorporated costly metals, and barely lasted one day. More recently, Chinese scientists have presented a designfor an artificial leaf that incorporated titanium dioxide and platinum, and Dutch researchers created a light-capturing system based on the chlorophyll of the alga Spirulina.
The MIT research was presented today at the 241st National Meeting of the American Chemical Society in Anaheim, California.
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The Portuguese government has come under renewed pressure to accept a European bail-out at the start of another crucial week for the eurozone
Ewald Nowotny, a governing council member of the European Central Bank, said Portugal should seek help from Europe after the resignation of the prime minister over austerity measures .
He told reporters: “From a purely economic point of view one could probably recommend it. The domestic political situation in Portugal has clearly worsened ... the head of the government has stepped down.”
Jose Socrates was re-elected leader of Portugal's Socialist party on Sunday, four days after resigning as prime minister, and vowed to run in a parliamentary election on a platform opposing a financial bail-out.
Mr Socrates, who won 93pc of the leadership votes despite the country's political crisis, spared no criticism of the opposition whose rejection of his minority government's austerity measures last week led to his resignation.
"I am here to face the judgment of the Portuguese. I am not afraid and I will fight for victory," he told a party meeting after being re-elected as general secretary.
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