Tuesday, April 18, 2006

Toxic Burp in Pacific

Giant Deep-Sea Volcano With "Moat of Death" Found:
Richard A. Lovett
for National Geographic News
April 14, 2006

Beneath the waves of the South Pacific lies a volcanic realm nearly as strange as that featured in TV's hit drama Lost.

But instead of a mysterious island, scientists have found a bubbling submarine volcano whose weird features include a swirling vortex, a host of strange animals, and a fearsome zone of toxic waters dubbed the Moat of Death.

The volcano, described in this week's online edition of the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, sits within the crater of a gigantic underwater mountain rising more than 4,500 meters (15,000 feet) from the ocean floor near the island of Samoa (see map).

The seamount, called Vailulu'u, is an active volcano, with a 2-mile-wide (3.2-kilometer-wide) crater. The cone rising within it has been dubbed Nafanua, for the Samoan goddess of war."

Thursday, April 13, 2006

Massachusetts Health Insurance

Massachusetts to require health insurance: "April 13, 2006


BOSTON -- Gov. Mitt Romney signed a groundbreaking measure Wednesday that makes Massachusetts the first state to mandate universal health care.

Supported by Democrats and Republicans in the state Legislature, the law requires residents to buy health insurance by July 1, 2007, just as drivers must have automobile coverage.

It aims to help low-income families buy private health insurance with subsidies and penalizes those who don't get coverage. It will help extend coverage to about 500,000 people in the state who lack health insurance, or about one in 13 residents."

More Missing Link

Xinhua - English: " LOS ANGELES, April 12 (Xinhua) -- Fossils discovered in eastern Ethiopian desert are a missing link between our ape-man ancestors some 3.5 million years ago and more primitive hominids a million years older, according to a new study released on Wednesday.

The fossils are from the most primitive species of Australopithecus, known as Au. anamensis, and date from about 4.1 million years ago, reported researchers from Ethiopia, Japan, France and the United States.

The findings were published in an April 13 issue of the journal Nature.

The hominid Australopithecus has often been called ape-man because it walked on two legs unlike the great apes although it was short-statured, small-brained and big-toothed.

More primitive hominids in the genus Ardipithecus date from between 4.4 million and 7 million years ago and were much moreape-like, though they walked on two legs, too."