Satellite to fall … somewhere
NASA scientists are doing their best to tell us where a plummeting six-ton satellite will fall later this week. It's just that if they're off a little bit, it could mean the difference between hitting Florida or landing on New York. Or, say, Iran or India. Pinpointing where and when hurtling space debris will strike is an imprecise science. For now, scientists predict the earliest it will hit is Thursday U.S. time, the latest Saturday. The strike zone covers most of Earth. Not that citizens need to take cover. The satellite will break into pieces, and NASA put the chances that somebody somewhere will get hurt at just 1-in-3,200. And as far as anyone knows, falling space debris has never injured anyone. Nor has significant property damage been reported. That's because most of the planet is covered in water and there are vast regions of empty land.
Teens not fazed by online slurs
Young people immersed in the online world are encountering racist and sexist slurs and other name-calling that probably would appall their parents and teachers. And most consider it no big deal, a new poll says. Teens and twentysomethings said in an Associated Press-MTV poll that people feel more free to use hurtful language when texting on their cell phones or posting to sites like Facebook than they would face to face. Those surveyed were twice as likely to say biased slurs are used to be funny as they were to think that the user is expressing hateful feelings toward a group of people. Another apparent reason: to sound cool.
Alaskans enjoy an oil bonanza
Most Alaska residents will soon be getting a check for $1,174 simply because they live there. Each person's share of the state's vast oil wealth was announced with much fanfare in Anchorage on Tuesday. This day is so widely anticipated in Alaska that the announcement of the Permanent Fund Dividend amount was carried live on television statewide. This year's check is $107 less than last year's amount, which was $1,281. Voters passed a constitutional amendment in 1976 to establish the Permanent Fund as a way to stretch out the state's oil wealth for future generations. The fund ended the recent fiscal year with a balance of $40.1 billion.