In Antarctica, 'weird' stuff
With the dramatic crash of an iceberg against a glacier that dislodged a massive new chunk of ice, the mysterious continent of Antarctica once again did the unexpected. The big chunk, slightly smaller than Oahu, Hawaii, broke off from a place it wasn't supposed to and in a way that wasn't quite anticipated, scientists reported Friday.
The new iceberg broke off from the cooler eastern end of Antarctica as a longer but thinner iceberg that stretches for 60 miles hammered it free. It will unlikely cause future ice loss problems on the continent, scientists said.
This happened as researchers have focused attention on the western side of Antarctica. Concern has grown over warmer temperatures there, especially the region's shrinking peninsula. Remarkably, that peninsula, where last year one ice shelf was said to be hanging by a thread, had an unusually cool summer. It hit pause on ice loss, Ted Scambos, a scientist with the National Snow and Ice Data Center, said Thursday.
Then the next day Australian researchers alerted the world to the iceberg crash on the other side of the continent. They said it had probably occurred around Feb. 12 or 13. "There are some crazy things going down in Antarctica," said Mark Serreze, director of the snow and ice data center, based in Boulder, Colo. "It seems kind of weird, but weird things happen."
Looking for office space? Try Calif.
California has put the "for sale" sign on 11 state office buildings, including the San Francisco Civic Center and the Ronald Reagan State Building in Los Angeles, as a way to raise cash to shrink the budget deficit. Combined, the buildings have more than 7 million square feet of office space. State officials are hoping to draw offers worth more than $2 billion. California and other state and local governments have been eyeing their high-rises, prisons and even capitol buildings to generate fast cash for fiscal relief. Arizona has invited investors to buy bonds secured by landmark state government buildings, while Connecticut plans to bring in $60 million over the next two years from real estate sales.
Record millions for big diamond
A 507-carat diamond as big as a chicken's egg sold for $35.3 million, setting the record for the highest price ever paid for a rough diamond, the supplier said Friday. The stone weighs more than 3.5 ounces and is estimated to be among the world's top 20 high-quality rough diamonds. It was discovered in September at South Africa's Cullinan mine. The supplier, Petra Diamonds Ltd., said the gem was purchased by Hong Kong-based private jewelry retailer Chow Tai Fook Jewelry Co. Ltd. Petra said Chow Tai Fook hasn't disclosed its plans for the diamond.
Dobson signs off with lump in throat
James Dobson made his last radio broadcast Friday for Focus on the Family, the conservative Christian ministry he founded 33 years ago and built into an influential political and social voice. "I have a lump in my throat, but God's in control," Dobson told listeners. An outspoken opponent of abortion and gay marriage, he has been gradually withdrawing from the organization, stepping down as president in 2003 and as chairman of the board last year. He plans to start a new show, Family Talk with James Dobson, this spring. Co-hosts on the new show will be son Ryan and LuAnne Crane, a senior producer of Focus on the Family radio.