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Weather Satellites Lose Funding 275

ianare writes "Federal budget cuts are threatening to leave the US without some critical satellites, and that could mean less accurate warnings about events like tornadoes and blizzards. In particular, officials at the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration are concerned about satellites that orbit over the earth's poles rather than remaining over a fixed spot along the equator. These satellites are 'the backbone' of any forecast beyond a couple of days, says Kathryn Sullivan, assistant secretary of commerce for environmental observation and prediction, and NOAA's deputy administrator. It was data from polar satellites that alerted forecasters to the risk of tornadoes in Alabama and Mississippi back in April, Sullivan says. 'With the polar satellites currently in place we were able to give those communities five days' heads up,' she says."

Utah Mulls a Database of Bar Customers 623

sundancing alerts us to a political dustup in the state of Utah, which doesn't have bars like the rest of the country does. Instead, "private clubs" require you to fill out an application and pay a fee if you want to have a drink outside the home. While there is pressure to reform this arrangement — one argument is that it's bad for tourism — the head of the state senate recently floated a proposal to create a database of every bar patron's visits. Now Utah's governor has called that idea "almost Orwellian," adding that "it's very difficult to legislate adulthood," and its supporters seem to be backing off. The idea of requiring bar patrons to swipe their drivers licenses as proof of age is still on the table, though.
Data Storage

Bush's Electronic Archives Threaten To Swamp National Archives 185

ColdWetDog writes "The New York Times reports that the soon-to-be-disbanded Bush / Cheney White House threatens to overload the National Archives with close to 100 Terabytes of data. This includes the Barney Cam and even 'formats not previously dealt with.' By way of comparison, the Clinton White House dumped less than a single terabyte into the archives. Of course, Mr. Cheney, always the Good Citizen, tried to help out when he 'asserted this month in a court case that he had absolute discretion to decide which of his records are official and which are personal, and thus do not have to be transferred to the archives.' Glad to see that somebody over there is trying to clean up the cruft for posterity."

1/3 of Amphibians Dying Out 467

Death Metal sends in a Scientific American article reporting that 2,000 of 6,000 amphibian species are endangered worldwide. A combination of environmental assaults, including global warming, seems to be responsible. "... national parks and other areas protected from pollution and development are providing no refuge. The frogs and salamanders of Yellowstone National Park have been declining since the 1980s, according to a Stanford University study, as global warming dries out seasonal ponds, leaving dried salamander corpses in their wake. Since the 1970s, nearly 75 percent of the frogs and other amphibians of La Selva Biological Station in Braulio Carrillo National Park in the Caribbean lowlands of Costa Rica have died, perhaps due to global warming. But the really bad news is that amphibians may be just the first sign of other species in trouble. Biologists at the University of California, San Diego, have shown that amphibians are the first to respond to environmental changes, thanks to their sensitivity to both air and water. What goes for amphibians may soon be true of other classes of animal, including mammals."

Going the speed of light is bad for your age.