Sunday, December 19, 2010

Photographer captures glowing 'solar spike' on freezing winter morning

Like a giant laser striking the Earth from space, this image looks like the first attack in an alien invasion. But this remarkable image is a rare and natural phenomenon called a solar spike - caused by wintery ice crystals in the Earth's upper atmosphere refracting light from the sun.

Father-of-two Randy Knauf, 51, an amateur photographer from Allegan, Michigan, spotted the amazing sight as he traveled to work last week and jumped out of his car to capture the moment on camera.

A solar spike seen on the morning of December 7th in Allegan, Michigan. The sight id caused by wintery ice crystals in the Earth's upper atmosphere refracting light from the sun.

Baffled by the strange vision that lasted for 10 minutes, he asked a friend - a local TV weatherman - to explain and learned it was a 'solar spike'. In the UK the phenomenon is also known as a sun pillar and is a vertical column of light above and sometimes below the sun.

It is caused by the reflection of sunlight from ice crystals and is most often observed at sunrise or sunset when the sun is low to the horizon.

Mr Knauf said: 'He told me they happen only when the upper atmosphere of the planet is very still and cold, at sunset or sunrise, and in areas where there is a lot of moisture up there but not enough to make clouds.'

'In Michigan we have the Great Lakes, which gives us the moisture, and it's extremely cold at the moment.'

Describing the moment, he added: 'I had just rounded a curve and was looking directly into the sunrise when I noticed the solar spike. 'The Great Lakes contain one fifth of all of the fresh water in the world, so we have a lot of moisture in the air here.

'It lasted for about 10 minutes after I shot this image and it was a beautiful and bizarre thing to see. I'm not certain how long the effect was taking place prior to my seeing it, bu

t I'm told they stay for around 15 minutes maximum.

Hisham dares Anwar to reveal APCO proof

The Home Minister has challenged opposition de facto leader Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim to reveal proof he says that linked government strategist APCO Worldwide and Israel.

Datuk Seri Hishamuddin Hussein said Pakatan Rakyat (PR) has yet to make good on its threat to expose the connection between the public relations consultancy firm and Israel’s security agency, Shin Bet, despite constant promises to do so.

“Expose it. What is he afraid of?” Hishamuddin told reporters here today.

“They have been threatening for a long time to reveal boxes of confidential information but, to this day, nothing has been shown.”

Hishamuddin pointed out that the only “strange” information that has been exposed so far has instead been US diplomatic cables in which Singapore alleged that Anwar had knowingly “walked into” a “set-up job”.

“Even then he accused the police of conspiring with the intelligence agencies of sovereign countries like Singapore and Australia,” he said.

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Two-thirds in question but BN could wrest one or two states, says Dr M

Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad has predicted Barisan Nasional (BN) may win back one or two states from Pakatan Rakyat (PR) in the next general election because the “opposition is in shambles,” according to a Bloomberg report.

He said BN “may not get the two-thirds majority which would enable them to rule the country with a strong majority.”

He told Bloomberg in an interview here that BN “might be able to recover maybe one or two states.”

“At the moment his party is in a shambles,” Dr Mahathir was quoted by Bloomberg today as saying in reference to Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim’s PKR.

Dr Mahathir’s remarks come amid intense speculation that Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Razak will call snap polls by the first quarter of next year.

Thursday, October 28, 2010

Prime minister promotes policies for every ethnic group

MCA president Dr Chua Soi Lek said, Titiwangsa Umno division chief Johari Abdul Ghani's speech that Umno did not need Indian or Chinese votes appeared on YouTube was unlikely to have an impact on Chinese voters come the Nov 4 Galas by-election.

He said that such leaders do not represent the mainstream view among Umno's top leadership.

“If we want a definite answer, ask the prime minister. The prime minister clearly promotes 1Malaysia with policies for every ethnic group. This is very clear,” he told reporters when met in Gua Musang town today.

MCA would not support these non-mainstream grassroots leaders and even recommend to the Umno leadership that they not be fielded as candidates in the general election. He said that such Umno leaders do not act in the spirit of BN which looks after the interests of all ethnic groups.

“This (video clip) tells us that there are some Umno grassroots leaders who are not politically savvy. They are not very smart. We will report back to the prime minister.

“They should not come out (in public). We will pursue this. They should not represent BN and should retire and go home,” said Chua.

Chua was commenting on a video clip depicting a speech by Titiwangsa Umno division Chief Johari Abdul Ghani at the Putra World Trade Centre.

Johari said that for Umno to retain the Titiwangsa Parliamentary seat, it merely has to ensure 70 percent of the Malay vote there.

“Gentlemen, if you secure 70 percent of the 32,000 Malay vote, then we won't need Chinese and Indian votes,” said Johari, triggering applause from his audience.

“If we want to win in Titiwangsa, we want Malays (to vote for us). We want Malays. Don't bow down to the Chinese and Indians just because we want to win. Don't do it,” he said.

Saturday, October 23, 2010

The big Google is watching you

German officials aren't buying Google's excuse that it harvested WiFi data by accident. Last week Google revealed that it had unintentionally collected WiFi data from open routers using its Google Street View cars.

The data was only discovered when the German Data Protection Authority asked to audit the WiFi data collected by the Google Street View team.

Google said that up until the time of the audit, it had been under the impression that it was only collecting MAC addresses and SSID information. However, the audit showed that Google had been collected fragments of payload data from open WiFi networks.

Data collected by Google included emails and web addresses users were viewing. Google said that it would be deleting all of this extra data and said a third party would be brought in to ensure this was done in the correct manner. However, it seems Peter Schaar, Germany's federal commissioner for data protection, and freedom of information, is not satisfied with Google's story.

"So everything was a mistake, a software bug! The data was collected and stored without the authorization of the project's managers or even the company's managers. If we go along with this story, this means the software was used without having been properly tested beforehand," he said, according to TGDaily.

Indeed, Germany is not the only country who has found issue with Google's behavior. The Irish Data Protection Authority Friday contacted Google and asked that all data accidentally harvested in Ireland be deleted.

Google today confirmed that this Irish data was deleted over the weekend in the presence of an independent third party.

Saturday, October 16, 2010

No bonus for civil servants

Have you ever wondered how big a Billion is? Can you imagine how big RM3.1 billion is and its effect on the National Debt.

Mathematically, 1 million seconds is about 11.5 days while 1 billion seconds is about 32 years.

Prime Minister Najib Razak said the government could not pay a month's bonus to the 1.2 million civil servants in Budget 2011 because it incurred an expenditure of RM3.1 billion.

As such, he said, the special financial assistance of RM500 for each civil servant was appropriate.

Najib said many quarters had lobbied to him to announce a month's bonus to the civil servants. But I would like to share with you ... that a month's bonus incurs an expenditure of RM3.1 million for the government. Personally, I would want to give a bonus but as a responsible finance minister, I cannot expend more than the national revenue.

"It is for this reason that I gave RM500 as a special financial assistance to civil servants," he said.

Najib announced a special financial assistance of RM500 for all civil servants from Grade 54 and below as well as contract officers and retirees. The payment will be made in December this year.

The prime minister said the aid could help civil servants cope with schooling expenses for their children at the end of the year.

He said that though no bonus was given, the government had proposed other incentives for civil servants, such as maternity leave of up to 90 days. These also benefitted women teachers, who made up almost 70 percent of the 400,000 teachers in the country, he said.