'Anything that's branding Harlem, my hometown, I'm all for it,' Diddy says, supporting Baauer's viral-video dance craze.
By Rob Markman, with reporting by James Lacsina
Wednesday, February 27, 2013
By John Newland, Staff Writer, NBC News
A man was attacked and killed by a shark Wednesday off the coast of New Zealand, police said.
Local media identified the victim as 46-year-old Adam Strange, an award-winning director of short films.
The victim was swimming about 200 yards offshore from Muriwai Beach, just west of Auckland, when he was attacked, New Zealand Police Inspector Shawn Rutene said.
Witnesses called police and lifeguards quickly jumped into action when the attack occurred about 1:30 p.m. local time Wednesday (7:30 p.m. ET Tuesday), but it was too late to save the man, the New Zealand Herald newspaper reported.
Police and lifeguards quickly took to the water in inflatable rescue boats, and officers opened fire on the shark, which "rolled over and disappeared," Rutene said in his statement, adding that the shark was estimated to be 12 to 14 feet long.
Authorities said they had closed Muriwai and nearby beaches as the investigation continued.
Shark attacks are uncommon in New Zealand, according to the University of Florida's Museum of Natural History.
According to the museum's International Shark Attack File, there had been just 48 confirmed attacks, eight of them fatal, since 1852. Those numbers did not include Wednesday's incident.
Neighboring Australia has had 510 confirmed attacks, 144 of them fatal, since 1700, according to the museum's figures, which it says were current as of Feb. 11.
In a biography on Strange's website, he described himself as an avid outdoorsman.?
"When I get a spare 5 minutes, I like to make a fruit smoothy, surf some big waves out on the West Coast," the site says.
The New Zealand Herald reported that Strange had a wife and a baby daughter. "The family are grieving the loss of a glorious and great father, husband and friend," the family said in a statement reported by the newspaper.
A short film by Strange, "Aphrodite's Farm," won a Crystal Bear award for Best Short Film for people over 14 at the 2009 Berlin International Film Festival, according to the Internet Movie Database, or IMDb.com.
Strange said in his biography that he had made television commercials before turning to short film.
Kill sharks before they attack humans? Australian state will do just that
Fatal shark attacks in 2011 at 20-year high
Great white sharks swimming to extinction?
LUXOR, Egypt (AP) ? The terror lasted less than two minutes: Smoke poured from a hot air balloon carrying sightseers on a sunrise flight over the ancient city of Luxor, it burst in a flash of flame and then plummeted about 1,000 feet to earth. A farmer watched helplessly as tourists trying to escape the blazing gondola leaped to their deaths.
Nineteen people were killed Tuesday in what appeared to be the deadliest hot air ballooning accident on record. A British tourist and the Egyptian pilot, who was badly burned, were the sole survivors.
The tragedy raised worries of another blow to the nation's vital tourism industry, decimated by two years of unrest since the 2011 revolution that toppled autocrat Hosni Mubarak. The southern city of Luxor has been hit hard, with vacant hotel rooms and empty cruise ships.
It also prompted accusations that authorities have let safety standards decline amid the political turmoil and infighting, although civil aviation officials said the balloon had been inspected recently and that the pilot may have been to blame, jumping out rather than stopping the fire.
Authorities suspended hot air balloon flights, a popular tourist attraction here, while investigators determined the cause.
The balloon was carrying 20 tourists ? from France, Britain, Belgium, Japan and Hong Kong ? and an Egyptian pilot on a flight over Luxor, 510 kilometers (320 miles) south of Cairo, officials said. The flights provide spectacular views of the ancient Karnak and Luxor temples and the Valley of the Kings, the burial ground of Tutankhamun and other pharaohs.
According to initial indications, the balloon was in the process of landing after 7 a.m. when a cable got caught around a helium tube and a fire erupted, according to an investigator with the state prosecutor's office.
The balloon then ascended rapidly, the investigator said. The fire detonated a gas canister and the balloon plunged about 300 meters (1,000 feet) to the ground, crashing in a sugar cane field outside al-Dhabaa village just west of Luxor, a security official said.
Both the investigator and the security official spoke on condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to talk to the media.
"I saw tourists catching fire and they were jumping from the balloon," said Hassan Abdel-Rasoul, a farmer in al-Dhabaa. "They were trying to flee the fire but it was on their bodies."
One of those on fire was a visibly pregnant woman, he said.
Amateur video taken from another balloon and shown on Al-Jazeera Mubasher television showed the balloon's final moments.
Smoke is seen rising for several seconds from the gondola, silhouetted against the risen sun. The balloon itself catches fire with a flash, and in an instant, it bursts and falls as a fireball to the ground, trailing smoke. Egyptians on the balloon filming the scene can be heard crying and gasping in horror at the sight.
The bodies of the tourists were scattered across the field around the remnants of the balloon, as rescue officials collected the remains.
The crash immediately killed 18, according to Luxor Gov. Ezzat Saad. Two Britons and the pilot were taken to a hospital, but one of the Britons died of his injuries soon after.
Among the dead were nine tourists from Hong Kong, four Japanese, two French, a Belgian and a second Briton, according to Egyptian officials, although there were conflicting reports on the nationality of the 19th victim.
In Tokyo, Japan's Ministry of Foreign Affairs said the Japanese victims were two couples in their 60s from Tokyo, but declined to give their names.
The toll surpasses what was believed by ballooning experts to be the deadliest accident in the sport's 200-year history: In 1989, 13 people were killed when their hot air balloon collided with another over the Australian outback near the town of Alice Springs.
Luxor has seen crashes in the past. In 2009, 16 tourists were injured when their balloon struck a cellphone transmission tower. A year earlier, seven tourists were injured in a similar crash.
After the 2009 accident, Egypt suspended hot air balloon flights for several months and tightened safety standards. Pilots were given more training, and a landing spot was designated for the balloons.
The head of the Civil Aviation Administration, Mohammed Sherif, told The Associated Press at the scene of the crash that the pilot had just renewed his license in January.
"Each time we renew the license, we check up the balloon and we test the pilot," Sherif said.
An aviation official, speaking on condition of anonymity because he wasn't authorized to talk to reporters, blamed the pilot, saying initial results of the investigation showed he jumped out when the fire began, instead of shutting off valves that would have prevented the gas canister from exploding.
But the crash raised accusations that standards have fallen. Mohammed Osman, head of the Luxor's Tourism Chamber, blamed civil aviation authorities, who are in charge of licensing and inspecting balloons, accusing them of negligence.
"I don't want to blame the revolution for everything, but the laxness started with the revolution," he said. "These people are not doing their job, they are not checking the balloons and they just issue the licenses without inspection."
The Civil Aviation Ministry, like much of the government administration, has seen political disputes since President Mohammed Morsi came to power in June as Egypt's first freely elected leader.
The ministry was long dominated by military officers or former officers, some of whom have resented control by a civilian president, particularly one from the Muslim Brotherhood. In other ministries, observers say Brotherhood members have been appointed, or included as volunteers, in many posts.
One civil aviation ministry official told the AP that standards have fallen since civilians were brought in to some middle-ranking positions. The official said inspections have become more lax, taking place once a month instead of weekly. The official spoke on condition of anonymity in order to talk about the industry.
The crash added to the woes for residents of Luxor. Scared off by the turmoil and tenuous security following the uprising, the number of tourists coming to Egypt fell to 9.8 million in 2011 from 14.7 million the year before, and revenues plunged 30 percent to $8.8 billion. Last year saw a slight rise, but most tourists go to the beach resorts of the Red Sea, staying away from Nile Valley sites like Luxor.
That has been devastating for the local economy, with some government estimates saying that 75 percent of the labor force is connected to tourism. Luxor's hotels are about 25 percent full in what is supposed to be the peak of the winter season.
Poverty swelled at the country's fastest rate in Luxor. In 2011, 39 percent of its population lived on less than $1 a day, compared with 18 percent in 2009, according to government figures.
Mohammed Haggag, owner of Viking, a company that runs seven balloons in Luxor, said the flight shutdown meant that the whole industry was suffering for one pilot's mistake.
"Why the mass punishment? Do you stop all flights when you have a plane crash?" he said. "You will cut the livelihoods for nearly 3,000 human beings who live on this kind of tourism."
Khaled Wanis, the owner of a shop selling tourist trinkets near Luxor Temple, said the past two years have been the worst he has ever seen.
"I can spend a week or 10 days before a customer knocks my door," he said. "Since I heard the news today, I felt ache in my heart.
"The general feeling is that Egypt is hard to visit and this is not a safe place to visit. The accident will only add to this feeling," Wanis said. "We are begging for tourists. Now, they get killed, so what do you expect?"
Associated Press writers Haggag Salama in Luxor, Kelvin Chan in Hong Kong, Jill Lawless in London, Angela Charlton in Paris, and Malcolm Foster in Tokyo contributed to this report.
Researchers observed chimpanzees in a London zoo solving puzzle games, even when doing so offered no reward.?Enlarge
Chimpanzees don't need to be rewarded for playing with brainteasers. Like humans with a crossword puzzle, they're motivated by the challenge alone, new research finds.Skip to next paragraph
google_ads.line2 + '
' + google_ads.line3 + '
Subscribe Today to the Monitor
For the study, published today (Feb. 23) in the American Journal of Primatology, researchers followed six chimpanzees at the Zoological Society of London's Whipsnade Zoo. Three of the chimps are half-brothers (Phil, Grant and Elvis), and their family group includes another male and two females.
Zookeepers gave the chimps a?homemade puzzle?made of plumbing pipes. Inside the network of pipes were two red dice. The chimps had to figure out where to poke sticks into holes in the pipes to get the dice to change directions and fall into an exit chamber. The game is based on the real-world task of using sticks to pull termites out of their nests as a snack.
The chimps also got nearly identical puzzles, which held Brazil nuts instead of dice. In these versions, the prize for figuring out the puzzle was getting to eat the Brazil nuts. [Video: Chimps Outsmart Humans in Memory Game]
"We noticed that the chimps were keen to complete the puzzle regardless of whether or not they received a food reward," study researcher Fay Clark of the Zoological Society of London said in a statement. "This strongly suggests they get similar feelings of satisfaction to humans who often complete brain games for a feel-good reward."
The brainteaser was part of the zoo's voluntary enrichment activities for the chimps, which also include treats hidden in boxes and do-it-yourself materials so the chimpanzees can build their own beds every night.
Chimps have proven adept at play and games in general. In 2011, a study published in the journal Proceedings of the Royal Society B found that chimps could figure out?which characters they control?in a video game, exhibiting a grasp of the concept of their own agency. In the wild, chimpanzees play, too. One 2010 study found that young female chimps in Uganda carried sticks around and took them to bed, possibly playing with them?as if they were dolls.
Follow Stephanie Pappas on Twitter?@sipappas?or LiveScience?@livescience. We're also on?Facebook?&?Google+.
Copyright 2013?LiveScience, a TechMediaNetwork company. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.
Tuesday, February 26, 2013
Yesterday I linked that story in which Ernie Banks talked about Hank Aaron ?applying? to be the commissioner of baseball once upon a time. Last night my friend Jess Lemont sent me a news article from 1983 with some details about it. ?Seems that was when he announced his desire to replace Bowie Kuhn, who had just recently announced his resignation under pressure from the owners.
Obviously Peter Ueberroth?got the job. He then proceeded to break the Collective Bargaining Agreement and the law with his collusion schemes. That ended up costing the players and the owners hundreds of millions of dollars which in turn led to double expansion in the 1990s to pay for it. ?Good going, Pete!
What might have happened if Aaron had gotten the job instead? My theory: the owners either would not have engaged in any greedy illegal schemes or else Aaron would have resigned in protest had they tried. ?Short of that, though there there?s at least some evidence to suggest that, if he were commissioner, he might not have taken too different a course than Bud Selig took when he got the job in the early 90s. From the article, Aaron?s response when asked what changes he might institute as?commissioner:
?A major one is Interleague play. We are denying fans of both leagues the opportunity to see outstanding players and teams.?
He added that he?d push for a uniform DH rule, though he doesn?t say if he?d prefer all DH or no DH. He also pushed for two-team expansion to get the leagues up to 14 teams each. Oh, and there?s this:
Aaron, currently the Braves? director of player development, said he is not anti-player, but he supports placing a salary cap on teams? payrolls.
He goes on to talk about how the Twins can?t compete without a salary cap because Calvin Griffiths doesn?t have the money to sign free agents. Never mind that, within eight years and a couple of months the Twins will have won two World Series. Whatever the case, this is on all fours with Selig?s talking points from 1994 through around 2002 or so, which led to the most destructive work stoppage in the sports? history and nearly led to another.
Notably, Selig ? a longtime close friend of Aaron ? led the search committee that ultimately settled on Ueberroth?over Aaron. He also promised Aaron the chance to talk to the committee. Given that they remain friends I?m guessing that it wasn?t him, but rather, other owners who ?laughed? at Aaron?s candidacy, as Banks said.
Neat stuff. Thanks Jess!
My wife and I are doing a bit of a remodel on our home and as part of that we need to get some new windows. The good news is that this is not our first house project and so I have learned by now that it will, unfortunately, likely take longer and cost more than I want. That said, because we have never done windows before, I also anticipate a learning curve. So we are in the process of interviewing contractors.
Most of the contractors we have met have been great ? helping us to understand the different sorts of products that are out there, why we might want one versus another, and why their product makes sense for us. No problem there.
You may have noticed I said that ?most? of the contractors have been like that. Most is not all. ?Bob? certainly was not like that by any means. In fact, he was so bad that I am writing a blog about him today as a cautionary tale. Bob reminded me of why some people should not be in business for themselves. While he clearly knew his stuff, he equally seemed to know nothing about sales or customer service.
Bob made two major sales mistakes. First of all, he loved jargon. I mean he really loved it. Half the time I actually had no idea what he was talking about. Now, I know from experience that this is an easy trap to fall into, after all, I used to practice law, and if there is any profession that loves jargon more than lawyers I don?t know what it is.
Attorneys use jargon for the same reason Bob did ? it makes them feel smart, and they think it makes them sound smart. Of course, the truth is, it doesn?t. It is also lazy ? it is easier sometimes to speak insider language than to have to explain something to someone in plain English. ?That was the case with Bob. He was so steeped in his own knowledge that he couldn?t really see what a newcomer didn?t know.
While I stopped Bob and asked him what he meant a few times, he never seemed to catch on that his job was not to try and impress me with his knowledge, but actually his job was to help me solve my problem, my need for new windows.
If he had helped me, he could have sold me.
And that brings me to the second mistake Bob, as a salesman, made: He tried too hard to sell me. I don?t know what it is that makes any salesperson think that the hard sell will work, but the fact is, it doesn?t. No one likes to be pressured, especially when contemplating a large purchase. What works is to remember that people come to you because they have a problem or need and hope you can help them fix it.
Question: Why do people buy drills?
It is not because they need a drill. It is because they need a hole. If you help them understand the best way to solve that problem, they will reward you, but if you spend your time pushing them to buy the most expensive drill you have, they will very likely move on.
So Bob the builder is a good reminder great salespeople sell the solution, not the drill.
? 2013 ScientificAmerican.com. All rights reserved.