NASA rocks out for earthlings
In its new quest to be relevant to American youths now that the space shuttle program is over, NASA has launched a radio station on the Internet that airs rock, indie and alternative music — punctuated by messages about career opportunities and news at the space agency. Called "Third Rock, America's Space Station," it can be found via NASA's home page — www.nasa.gov — and at rfcmedia.com/thirdrockradio. The station, catering to the 4G audience, went online Dec. 12, and is a collaboration with RFC Media in Houston. NASA says no taxpayer money was used in developing or operating it. Advertising is welcome. RFC Media says the music it selects for the station is "emerging" and consists of "the best songs and deepest tracks from a full spectrum of rock artists across many styles and decades."
A Vermont feat to celebrate
After hundreds of thousands of tons of rock were hauled out and tens of thousands of man-hours were spent, Vermont celebrated the completion of the biggest single engineering challenge after the flooding from the remnants of Hurricane Irene. Just in time for the new year, and four months after the storm hit, Route 107 between Bethel and Stockbridge was reopened Thursday. The state highway, a major east-west thoroughfare, is the last to reopen after being closed by flooding. The road's reopening was marked with a ceremony at a Stockbridge school, where scores of local residents and state officials tossed baseball caps into the air.
Bird flu research draws warning
The World Health Organization is warning that dangerous scientific information could fall into the wrong hands after U.S. government-funded researchers engineered a form of the deadly H5N1 bird flu virus more easily transmissible between humans. In a strongly worded statement Friday, WHO said it was "deeply concerned about the potential negative consequences" if the results of the study were used to create biological weapons or the mutated virus was accidentally released. "This is not the kind of research that you would want to have out there," WHO's top influenza expert, Dr. Keiji Fukuda, told the Associated Press in a phone interview. At the same time, WHO was concerned that all credible researchers should be able to access the study to better understand how to prevent a deadly H5N1 pandemic, Fukuda said.
Holocaust ruling marked career
Retired Los Angeles County Superior Court Judge Thomas T. Johnson, who in 1981 ruled in a lawsuit that the Holocaust was "a fact and not reasonably subject to dispute," died of congestive heart failure on Wednesday (Dec. 28, 2011) at his home in the Pacific Palisades neighborhood of Los Angeles, said his son, Will. He was 88. During 18 years on the bench, the judge, who went on to serve as presiding judge of the Superior Court in 1985 and 1986, handled a number of attention-grabbing cases, including disputes involving entertainer Rudy Vallee, tennis star Billie Jean King and philanthropist Norton Simon. But none matched the historical significance of the lawsuit that asked him to decide whether the Holocaust actually took place.