Archive for August, 2011

Space Hotel Set For 2016

August 30th, 2011 by Mariah

(CNNGo) — “Getting away from it all” may be a travel marketing clichĂ©, but the phrase might take on a whole new meaning come 2016.

Russian firm Orbital Technologies plans to open the first space hotel in history in five year’s time. The space hotel, or “Commercial Space Station,” as it’s officially called, will float 250 miles above Earth.

The hotel can accommodate a maximum of seven people at a time. To check in, tourists will have to undergo special training that can take up to three months, depending on the type of spacecraft they fly to the hotel. The firm says that stays can range from three days to six months.

Spending your vacation in space will no doubt inspire travel stories like no other, but what’s there to do once you’re sealed in up there?

Not much, it turns out, apart from going online and watching TV.

“Most likely, there will be access to the Internet and other communications on the ground,” says Sergey Kostenko, CEO of Orbital Technologies, the company constructing the station.

“Menus will be chosen before the clients are launched,” Kostenko adds. “Food is prepared on the ground and shipped to space, dehydrated.” No impulsive late-night snacking then.

There will be no shower, but you can clean yourself with wet wipes. Fun! You can’t seek solace in alcohol either, because it’s banned on board.

However, Kostenko says he hopes that the station can be a stopover for manned circumlunar flights, so trips to the far side of the moon and back may be a day-trip option.

Orbital Technologies plans to use Russian Soyuz and Progress spacecrafts to transport passengers and workers to the “great gig in the sky,” although it does not rule out using other manned spacecraft made in the United States, Europe and China.

The firm is tight-lipped about how much it will cost to stay at the hotel, although the Russian government is hoping that the project can be a cash cow for its space exploration program.

“We consider the Commercial Space Station a very interesting project, encouraging private participation,” says Vitaly Davydov, Deputy Head of the Federal Space Agency of the Russian Federation. “It will attract private investment for the Russian space industry.”

Orbital Technologies will not confirm whether it has taken any reservations from customers yet, but says there are “many interested parties.”

Blind Man To Sail Around The World Solo

August 30th, 2011 by Mariah

(CNN) — Veteran sailor Dennis Howard is preparing for one of the most challenging journeys of his life — a solo voyage around the world.

But on top of all the dangers associated with such a trip, including sleep deprivation, stormy seas and the threat of pirates, the 62-year-old American has an additional challenge to face.

Howard is legally blind.

“There’s no question in my mind that I can do this,” he said. “There is also no question in my mind that I absolutely have to take it seriously 24/7, I need to be vigilant.”

After suffering a severe form of glaucoma, which causes damage to the optic nerves, Howard had his right eye removed and lost most of the vision in his left.
“My doctor estimates around 5% of my vision remains,” he said. “To see what I see you can cover your right eye and then look through a drinking straw with the other — that’s what I see.

“I can read a license plate from across the road, I just can’t see the car,” he continued.

He plans to depart on his specially designed 20-foot (6.1 meter) boat the “Avalo” from San Diego, California, in late October. The voyage is expected to take around one and a half to two years, with Howard hoping to end the journey in France.

Although he admits it will be difficult, Howard sees the voyage as an opportunity to show others that disability needn’t be a barrier.

“After I lost my sight I didn’t go into the tailspin of despair and fear,” he said. “But what I immediately gave up on in my head was sailing. I just thought, ‘well, I’ll never do it again.’

“But the more I thought about it, the more I realized I just had to change the way I sail … I want people to realize that they shouldn’t just give up.”

But for Howard to get this far has not been easy. In order to get back in a boat, let alone sail around the world alone, he has had to learn how to sail all over again.

He said: “It would be false to say there is no additional challenge for me, but I put it in the realm of degrees of difficulty.

“I had to re-learn how to cross busy streets without a disaster after I lost so much vision and I am doing the same with sailing.

“There are the usual concerns about the boat and equipment; it would be foolish to not recognize the reality that things break and a thousand or two miles out at sea, these things can turn catastrophic. So I’ve spent more than a year reducing those chances.”
Howard’s 20-foot boat has not only been re-fitted in order to make sailing easier, it is also equipped with essential technologies to ensure the safety of both Howard and other sailors, including an Automatic Identification System (AIS), which alerts Howard to ships within a 50-mile radius.

“It’s great, it shows me exactly where the ship is, what its course is, how fast it’s going and what its name is,” he said.

As well as being tailored to Howard’s needs, the “Avalo” has been redesigned to be as eco-friendly as possible. The boat’s diesel engine has even been replaced by a small outboard charged by solar panels.

“The boat is about as green as it’s possible to get. All of my equipment onboard from my radio communications to my navigation equipment is powered by wind and solar-generated power,” he said.

Throughout his trip Howard will be in regular contact with a group of schoolchildren in Ohio who also live with disabilities.

“I’m hoping along with the educational information about weather, science and geography, these kids who are starting off in life with a particular difficulty can look at this and think they don’t need to be limited in what they do.”

Asked what his greatest concern was before the trip, Howard answered: “It’s not the sea, it’s not the storms, the pirates or even my eyesight — it’s my mental state.

“Despair is a common human emotion,” he continued. “At sea for months under conditions of deprivation and occasional terror, and with no one with whom to interact and commiserate, despair can become overpowering if you let it.”

But Howard is convinced it is all a price worth paying.

“Those who have never sailed in blue water, particularly alone with the moon and stars and phosphorescence and wildlife and the majesty of the ocean would have to struggle to appreciate how beautiful it is.”

Bear Killed Hiker At Yellowstone

August 30th, 2011 by Mariah

(CNN) — A bear attack caused the death of a hiker whose body was found on a trail in Yellowstone National Park, officials confirmed Monday.

The body of John Wallace, 59, was discovered Friday by two hikers along the Mary Mountain Trail, an area of the park that had been closed to hikers, according to park services.

Rangers discovered signs of grizzly bear activity, including tracks and scat, or bear droppings, in a park campground where they believe Wallace pitched a tent on Wednesday, the park said in a news release.

Autopsy results concluded that Wallace, a Michigan resident, died from traumatic injuries he received after being mauled by a bear. It’s the second fatal attack in Yellowstone National Park this summer, said Park Superintendent Dan Wenk.

Just last month, a 57-year-old California man was killed by a bear within the same 10-mile area of the park, Wenk said.

Park managers determined that man was killed by a bear protecting its cubs. Despite the close proximity of the latest attack, the officials do not think the same bear is responsible for Wallace’s death because no evidence of cubs was found at the scene.

DNA tests on hair samples from the site will be performed to confirm suspicions that a different bear was involved in the second attack, Wenk said.

Over the past 25 years, Yellowstone has averaged 1 or 2 encounters a year that resulted in injuries, Wenk said.

Prior to this summer’s attacks, the last fatal bear mauling was in 1986, he said.

African Safari

August 17th, 2011 by Mariah

(CNN) — Observing lions and elephants at the zoo is fun, but watching them roam their natural habitat in Africa will shoot tingles up your spine.

 

“The wildlife, the culture, the scenery, it’s out of this world,” said Linda Friedman, owner of travel company Custom Safaris in Bethesda, Maryland.

 

CNN talked with two East and Southern Africa safari experts about what travelers need to know before embarking on an adventure of a lifetime. Friedman has been leading customized safari trips for more than 20 years, and Dan Saperstein, co-owner of Hippo Creek Safaris in Woodcliff Lake, New Jersey, has coordinated safaris for three decades. Read on to hear their safari secrets:

 

Spotting wildlife

 

On East or Southern Africa safaris, people generally see the “big five” — lions, leopards, cape buffalo, rhinoceroses and elephants.

 

“Ninety-nine percent of people on safaris see all those,” Friedman said. “The only one that’s a little hard is the leopard.”

 

 

The animals you observe depend on the country you’re in. In Kenya and Tanzania, safari-goers can witness the Great Migration,

 

Saperstein says. The spectacle involves nearly 2 million zebras and wildebeest trekking from Tanzania’s Serengeti Plains to Kenya’s Masai Mara National Reserve.

 

A large price tag

 

Warning: Safaris aren’t cheap.

 

Large lodges with 50 to 100 rooms run $400 to $500 per person per night. Park fees and transportation are not included in the lodging price, so a two-week trip can cost about $10,000 per person, according to Saperstein.

 

Small all-inclusive lodges with six to 10 rooms are pricier and can cost close to $2,000 per person each night.

 

Lodges on national park reserves will have electricity, hot and cold water, cellphone service and sometimes Internet access. “But there’s never a guarantee the Internet will work,” Saperstein said.

 

The cost also depends on the country. For example, Botswana is on the pricier side since charter planes are required to reach different excursion sites.

 

 

The best time to go

 

“You can go on a safari 12 months a year,” Friedman said.

But keep in mind many popular safari destinations are in the Southern Hemisphere. Friedman recommends going July through September — when it’s winter in Southern Africa, and the weather isn’t too hot. It’s also the best time to see the Great Migration in Kenya, Saperstein said.

 

Travelers who don’t like heat should avoid safaris in October and November when temperatures reach close to 100 degrees, Saperstein advised.

 

When to book

 

Most safari-goers book their trips at least a year in advance.

Friedman and Saperstein said that many people use their frequent flier miles for airline tickets so they don’t have to spend $1,500 to $2,500 on a flight.

 

If you’re looking for a more upscale trip, Saperstein suggested booking as early as possible because the smaller lodges fill up fast.

 

Don’t leave home without …

 

Your camera! Bring a camera with a long lens and several memory cards.

 

“Always take as many pictures as you can,” Saperstein said. “Never delete them when you’re there. You may shoot things that don’t look great on the back of the camera screen there, then plug them into your computer screen, and they look fantastic.”

 

Bring clothes to layer. Pants with zip-off legs are convenient because riders don’t have to stop to change. Hats and sunscreen are also a must for skin protection.

 

While it’s required to take antimalarial medication in every country, Saperstein suggested packing bug spray with at least 30% DEET to fend off malaria-carrying mosquitoes that emerge at night. Long sleeves and pants can provide an additional layer of protection, too.

The one thing you can’t forget? A sense of adventure, Friedman said.

 

“Africa is not like traveling to Europe. Things don’t go quite as smoothly just as we’re used to,” she said. “You just have to have some patience, but it’s the absolute trip of a lifetime.”

 

What every safari rider should know

 

People often don’t realize that they need several blank pages in their passports for visas, Saperstein said. Some countries require two consecutive blank pages to obtain a visa, which can be ordered in advance or upon arrival.

 

Passports also need to be valid for at least six months after your return date.

 

As for vaccines, some countries require yellow fever vaccinations before entry. Travelers need to carry a card that confirms they received the vaccination at least two weeks before arrival and within the last nine years, Saperstein said.

 

Just don’t get more shots than necessary, he warned.

 

“A lot of the travel clinics are happy to sell a person $2,000 in shots,” Saperstein said. “It’s important to make sure the ones you are getting are appropriate to the type of trip you’re going on.”

 

 

It’s not all about the animals

 

Though people traverse Africa to spot lions and elephants, the safari experts advise talking to the locals and inquiring about their lives. Friedman also recommends volunteering with a school or relief project.

 

“You think you’re going to see the wildlife, but it’s really the people and their culture that tugs at everybody’s heartstrings.”

Wells Fargo to try out debit card fee

August 17th, 2011 by Mariah

NEW YORK (CNNMoney) — Yet another of the nation’s top banks is flirting with the idea of charging a monthly fee to customers who use debit cards.

 

Wells Fargo (WFC, Fortune 500) said Tuesday it will start charging a $3 monthly fee for debit card usage to customers in Georgia, New Mexico, Nevada and Oregon beginning Oct. 14.

 

“We regularly review our pricing and take into account the needs of our customers, industry trends, the market competition, and our cost of doing business,” a Wells Fargo spokeswoman said. Customers who don’t use their card during the month won’t be charged the fee and the fee will be waived for select accounts, she added.

 

At the end of last year, JPMorgan Chase (JPM, Fortune 500) announced a similar test, in which it charged customers in northern

Wisconsin a $3 fee for using their debit cards. The tests are still underway, a Chase spokesman said Tuesday.

9 most annoying bank fees

 

Earlier this summer, the Federal Reserve implemented a cap on the fees banks can charge retailers every time customers swipe their debit cards. While banks used to be able to charge an average fee of 44 cents, now they can only charge a maximum fee of 21 cents.

 

 

Before the new rules went into effect, financial institutions lobbied hard for the Federal Reserve to delay its decision — saying a cap on these so-called “swipe fees” would cost them billions of dollars and would only end up hurting consumers.

 

 

Even before the cap was put in place, banks started to look for ways to replace the lost revenue. Banks, including Wells Fargo, Chase and SunTrust eliminated their debit rewards programs, while other banks stopped offering free checking.

 

 

Now these new fees on debit cards are popping up. But since debit cards are rapidly replacing credit cards as the preferred payment method among consumers, these new changes aren’t likely to go unnoticed.

 

 

A recent Associated Press-GfK poll of 1,001 consumers found that 61% of bank customers would stop using debit cards if a $3 fee appeared on their account. Instead, they would find a different way to pay.

Silicon Valley billionaire funding creation of artificial libertarian islands

August 17th, 2011 by Mariah

Pay Pal founder and early Facebook investor Peter Thiel has given $1.25 million to an initiative to create floating libertarian countries in international waters, according to a profile of the billionaire in Details magazine.

 

Thiel has been a big backer of the Seasteading Institute, which seeks to build sovereign nations on oil rig-like platforms to occupy waters beyond the reach of law-of-the-sea treaties. The idea is for these countries to start from scratch–free from the laws, regulations, and moral codes of any existing place. Details says the experiment would be “a kind of floating petri dish for implementing policies that libertarians, stymied by indifference at the voting booths, have been unable to advance: no welfare, looser building codes, no minimum wage, and few restrictions on weapons.”

“There are quite a lot of people who think it’s not possible,” Thiel said at a Seasteading Institute Conference in 2009, according to Details. (His first donation was in 2008, for $500,000.) “That’s a good thing. We don’t need to really worry about those people very much, because since they don’t think it’s possible they won’t take us very seriously. And they will not actually try to stop us until it’s too late.”

 

The Seasteading Institute’s Patri Friedman says the group plans to launch an office park off the San Francisco coast next year, with the first full-time settlements following seven years later.

Thiel made news earlier this year for putting a portion of his $1.5 billion fortune into an initiative to encourage entrepreneurs to skip college.

Another tech titan, Amazon founder Jeff Bezos, announced in June that he would be funding the “Clock of the Long Now.” The clock is designed to keep ticking for 10,000 years, and will be built in a mountain in west Texas.

10 Year Old Wants World To Know About Fallen Father

August 9th, 2011 by Mariah

(CNN) — A week ago, 10-year-old Braydon Nichols started to think about his dad and how much he missed him.

Army Chief Warrant Officer Bryan Nichols, a helicopter pilot, had been deployed for two months in Afghanistan.

The little boy, in the car with his mother running errands, brushed back his dirty-blond hair and ran his hand over his cheek.

Jessica Nichols looked over when she heard sniffles. Her son was crying.

“When is Dad coming back so we go camping?” he asked her.

Soon, she assured him. “Your dad is off fighting for this country.”

The boy replied, “As soon as he gets home, we’re going to go on a camping trip, just me and him.”

Jessica Nichols cannot stop replaying that scene in her mind. That’s because only a few days later, on Saturday night, she was cradling her boy who was crying once again. Except this time she could not tell him that his father was coming home. She had just received a call informing her that Bryan Nichols was one of the 30 Americans who died that afternoon when their Chinook helicopter was shot down in Wardak province in east-central Afghanistan.

“It was just so devastating that a week ago or so Braydon had that worried look on his face, thinking about his dad,” she said.

“Braydon and Bryan were so connected. Braydon was like a little version of his dad.”

Bryan Nichols and Jessica Nichols met in sixth grade. Bryan was a born military buff. His father was a soldier and served in Vietnam. Bryan enlisted in the military before high school graduation. A few years later, he and Jessica married and had Braydon.

Bryan worked his way up through the military ranks.

“He always wanted to be in the Army,” she said. “He came across the Chinook and was so fascinated. His father flew Chinooks.”

Bryan Nichols did three deployments during their marriage. It proved to be too much for their relationship, she said. They divorced when Braydon was 3, but remained close to raise Braydon.

Bryan remarried, and his new wife and Jessica all got along. They all loved and cared for Braydon, she said.

It was Bryan’s wife, Mary, who contacted Jessica Saturday night to say that Bryan had died. “She was screaming,” Jessica said. “She was screaming that Bryan was dead.”

Jessica couldn’t believe what she was hearing. She hung up. Her heart was beating hard. Braydon was in his room, still awake and playing.

Jessica walked toward the room, and stood by his door for a moment, overcome with grief.

“I went to my room and tried to figure out what was going on,” she said.

Jessica pulled herself together as best she could and phoned her brother who lives nearby. He came to her house to support her.

Together, they called Braydon downstairs.

In his pajamas, Braydon stood in front of his mother and uncle.

“I said, ‘Braydon, do you know much your dad loves you? Do you know how proud of you he is?”

Before she could say anything more, the boy wilted in her arms, sobbing.

“I said, ‘I’m sorry … your … dad died.”

The mother and son held each other and cried. An hour, maybe, went by. At one point Braydon got off the couch and ambled over to a Shih Tzu puppy, Lucy, that his mother bought him when his father got deployed.

He held the dog for awhile. Then he fell asleep for a bit, and she went out to their porch.

The night gave way to day.

On Sunday morning, Jessica and Braydon Nichols watched the national news broadcast the first reports about the downing of a Chinook helicopter. They listened to reporters say that 38 U.S. and Afghan service personnel were killed, including 22 Navy SEALs. It was the single deadliest loss for American troops since the war in Afghanistan began in late 2001.

“Braydon asked me why they weren’t showing his dad’s picture like they were showing some of the other guys,” Jessica Nichols told CNN.com. “I told him it was because people had gone online and were posting photos.”

That gave the boy an idea. The two went to the family computer. She pulled up CNN.com.

Braydon started saying, “iReport! iReport!”

Like his father, Braydon is an information sponge. He’s always on the hunt for facts, his loves the computer, and he likes watching the news, his mother said. Braydon knew that he could post something about his dad on CNN.com’s iReport.

So Jessica Nichols went to the iReport home page. Her son told her what to write.

“My father was one of the 30 US Soldiers killed in Afghanistan yesterday with the Seals rescue mission,” she typed. “My father was the pilot of the chinook. I have seen other pictures of victims from this deadly mission and wish you would include a picture of my father. He is the farthest to the left.”

See the iReport Braydon posted

He told her to sign his name.

Within hours, the iReport had become viral. Local news outlets across the country reported on it. More than 10,000 people on Facebook re-posted it. Twitter was abuzz about it. Many people left comments, expressing their sorrow for Braydon and telling him to be strong and that his father is a hero.

CNN.com began trying to get in touch with the person who posted the iReport to verify it, first reaching the boy’s aunt. Sue Keller of Palco, Kansas, told CNN late Monday night that the boy wanted the country to remember his father not just as a soldier but as a dad.

On Monday night, Braydon’s mother told him that a lot of people were talking about his iReport.

“He didn’t say anything,” she said. “He’s been reading it over and over. He doesn’t understand the people can post comments so I’m telling him that people are trying to talk to him. He just looks at the comments and then he walks away.

“He says, ‘Mom, can we go watch a movie?’”

Late Monday night, Jessica Nichols said she couldn’t find her son for a moment. He had disappeared in the house. She was yelling for him.

She found him in a closet, curled up on the floor, crying, going through a box of photo albums.

The boy said he wanted to take one of the photos and put it in his wallet.

He asked her, “‘Can we go to be with Dad?’”

She replied that they would go to his father’s funeral and they would be there for anything and everything the boy wanted.

“He said, ‘Yeah, I’d like to go be with him when he comes home, and I said, ‘OK, we will be.’”

JOIN US ON A JOURNEY OF WINE…

August 9th, 2011 by Mariah

JOIN US ON A JOURNEY OF WINE, GASTRONOMY, & LITERATURE

SUNDAY, AUGUST 21, 2011

2:00 pm ~ 6:00 pm
VINTAGE 59 WINES
Join Madame Celeste Borel and Jason Bise from Country Vinter, in tasting a variety of wines from the French countryside.
FEATURED WINES
*Merlin Sancerre*
*Merlin ‘le Chene Marchand*
*Normand Macon la Roches Vineuse*
*Domaine de Lavernette ‘Cuvee Leynes’ Beaujolais*
*Domaine de la Folie ‘Clos de la Folie’ Rully*
*Marc Tempe ‘Rodelsberg’ *
*Muzard Santennay “Les Maladieres” *
*Voillot Volnay Vielles Vignes*
*Caldroy Muscat*

Executive Chef Jacob Jasinski, will prepare a gastronomic multi-course journey to accompany Vintage 59 Wines.

COURSE ONE
Citrus Cured Salmon, Garden Tomato, Basil Ice Cream
Chilled Oyster, Citrus

COURSE TWO
Garden Vegetables, Tapanade Butter

GUEST AUTHOR ROY CLOUD

Enjoy an afternoon of story telling from Roy Cloud and his featured book, “To Burgundy and Back Again: A Tale of Wine, France, and Brotherhood.”

“The antidote to Sideways… Roy Cloud’s gentle, heart-warming account of his French wine initiation is deliciously readable and full of insights.” -Andrew Jefford, author of The New France
All attendees will receive a complimentary autographed copy.

L’Auberge Provencale
“A Bed and Breakfast Inn”
13630 Lord Fairfax Hwy
White Post, VA. 22620
USA

Rates: $165-$325 USD
Rooms: 14

Phone: 1-540-837-1375
Toll Free: 1-800-638-1702
Fax: 1-540-837-2004

We Need Your Help!

August 9th, 2011 by Mariah

Greetings!

I’m excited to tell you that I have chosen to serve as an MDA Jailbird and am being Locked-Up…that’s right, I’m going behind bars to help Jerry’s Kids©. In order to be released on good behavior, I need your help to raise my “bail.”

My bail has been set at $2,000.00 and if everyone I know makes a tax-deductible donation, I’ll reach my goal quickly!

Just click here to make a secure, online donation before 08/11/11.
This is a fun event benefiting individuals and families served by MDA who are affected by neuromuscular disease. I am honored to partner with MDA, and help this important cause.

Don’t hesitate to call or e-mail me with any questions.

Thanks in advance for your help. Together we’ll make a difference!

Johanna

Owner

Inn on the Riverwalk
P.S. I’m counting on you, click here to donate.

If the link above does not work, please cut and paste the address below into the address bar of your Internet browser.
https://www.joinmda.org/2011sanantoniotelu/johanna/

If you have any questions regarding this e-mail, please refer to http://www.mda.org/joinmda for information about the Join MDA friends-helping-friends fundraising program.

Some States Too Hot For Humans

August 4th, 2011 by Mariah

Dallas (CNN) — A spell of suffocating heat continued to grip much of the South Thursday, as several cities in Texas closed in on records for the most consecutive days of 100-degree heat.

 

In all, the National Weather Service issued heat advisories for parts of

15 states stretching from a sliver of Southern California to North Carolina.

 

Dallas marked its 34th straight day of temperatures above 100 degrees. That city has been getting a lot of attention for its hellish heat, but some smaller Texas cities have had it worse. Thursday is Waco’s 35th straight day topping 100 degrees, and Tyler’s 38th straight day.

 

The records for both Dallas and Waco is 42 straight days, set in 1980.

In some places, the heat is having deadly consequences.

 

A Kansas City, Missouri endurance race known as the “Warrior Dash,” had one of its participants die Saturday after collapsing on the course, CNN affiliate KMBC reported.

The family of Jeremiah Morris said the 28-year-old’s core temperature had increased to 111 degrees. His blood thinned and damage was caused to his organs, they told KMBC.

 

“He ran so hard and so determinately that he took it to the ultimate end,” said Morris’ mother. “He ran straight on into glory. But that’s not what he wanted. He had a whole full life. And now we’re having his memorial service on his 29th birthday.”

 

Organizers of the race canceled its last leg after Morris and 12 others were rushed to the hospital from the course due to the heat.

 

Not only are temperatures high in Texas, but the state climatologist said Thursday that Texas in the midst of the most severe one-year drought on record. Records started being kept in 1895.

 

July was also the hottest month ever on record in Texas and the third driest July, climatologist John Nielsen-Gammon said.

 

“Never before has so little rain been recorded prior to and during the primary growing season for crops, plants and warm-season grasses,” he said.

 

“The outlook is not entirely grim,” he added. “Late August and September bring increased chances of widespread rain from tropical disturbances, as well as the occasional cold front. Some computer models predict a return to La Nina conditions this winter, which would imply continued dry weather, but most predict neutral conditions in the tropical Pacific and the possible return of normal weather patterns.”

 

Citing record-breaking electricity demand, the Public Utilities Company of Oklahoma urged users to decrease the amount of electricity they are consuming. It recommended setting thermostats to 80 degrees and postponing use of dishwashers, washers and driers.

 

Texas set another record for electricity demand on Wednesday — a third straight day for that distinction.

 

“We are expecting another record-high electricity demand (Thursday), so we are continuing our call for conservation,” said Kent Saathoff with the Electric Reliability Council of Texas, which manages the state’s power grid.

 

Temperatures reached a record high in Little Rock, Arkansas, Wednesday, soaring to a scalding 114 degrees. It’s the hottest day on record for the city, according to CNN affiliate KLRT-TV.

 

Officials restricted high school football practices to three hours after four student athletes were hospitalized with dehydration, KLRT said.

DonTeria Searcy, a 16-year-old high school student, died Tuesday after he passed out after a morning practice at a Florida football camp, the local sheriff’s department said.

 

Another 16-year-old student, Forrest Jones, died Tuesday in a hospital after he passed out during a football practice at an Atlanta-area high school, school administrators said.

 

And on Monday in Texas, Wade McLain, 55, an assistant football coach, collapsed during a morning practice and heat was ruled as a factor in his death, the local medical examiner’s office said.

 

In the St. Louis suburb of Pine Lawn, Missouri, a 19-year-old woman was charged with one count of parental neglect as she, her two children and her boyfriend either passed out or fell asleep on a basketball court in the midday sun.

 

A passerby called 911 after spotting the four.

“The caller apparently told our officers there were four dead people in the heat on the basketball court,” Pine Lawn Police Chief Rickey Collins told CNN affiliate KTVI-TV.

 

“This is definitely a careless situation from a parent,” he said. “We’re not going to go lightly on it.”

Financial Crisis

August 4th, 2011 by Mariah

Washington (CNN) — President Barack Obama called House Speaker John Boehner to discuss ways to break the current political stalemate over funding for the Federal Aviation Administration, White House Press Secretary Jay Carney said Thursday.

 

“Conversations continue as we look for ways to resolve this,” Carney told reporters. “We hope a solution can be found.” The president’s call to the speaker occurred Wednesday, he said.

 

The impasse has resulted in the furlough of roughly 4,000 aviation workers, as well as tens of thousands of additional layoffs in the construction industry and elsewhere.

 

The FAA has also been unable to collect federal taxes on airline tickets — leading to a revenue loss of approximately $30 million a day. If the dispute continues until Congress returns from its summer recess in September, the federal government will be out more than $1 billion in revenue.

 

Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood has been urging members of Congress to return to Washington from their summer break and, at a minimum, pass a temporary funding measure allowing the FAA and other workers to return to their jobs.

“They talk a lot about jobs. They give good speeches about it. I want them to walk the walk,” LaHood told CNN Thursday. “Put hard-working Americans to work so they can get a paycheck just like Congress is receiving on their vacations.”

 

The Democratic-led Senate went on its summer recess Tuesday without approving what would have been the 21st short-term funding extension for the FAA. The Republican-led House previously passed a short-term extension, but included some changes opposed by Democrats.

 

The dispute over the extension involves language in the House proposal that would reduce or kill subsidies to rural airports, specifically targeting some in Nevada, Montana and New Mexico — three states with influential Democratic senators.

 

A larger dispute behind the scenes also is a cause for the inaction. Republicans oppose a recent National Mediation Board decision backed by Democrats that makes it easier for airline employees to unionize.

 

The board’s ruling made passage of a vote to unionize dependent on getting more than 50% support of those voting. For example, if a company has 1,000 workers but only 200 take part in the vote to unionize, the rule change would require 101 “yes” votes for it to pass.

Under old rules, more than 50 percent of all workers eligible to vote — or 501 “yes” votes — would have been required for it to pass. Workers who didn’t cast ballots were counted as having voted “no,” making it more difficult for supporters to succeed.

 

Sen. Orrin Hatch, R-Utah, told CNN Wednesday he blocked a short-term compromise bid proposed by Democratic and Republican colleagues because of the organized labor issue.

 

At a news conference Wednesday, top Senate Democrats blamed Republicans for the work stoppage.

 

“This issue has nothing to do with essential air services (at rural airports) and everything to do with a labor dispute between airlines and the American worker,” said Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nevada.

 

In response, Rep. John Mica, the Florida Republican who chairs the House Transportation Committee, said Senate Democrats have only themselves to blame.

 

“Senate Democrats had a House-passed FAA extension before them for two weeks but chose to do nothing,” Mica said.

But LaHood said controversial items didn’t stop lawmakers from passing extensions on other occasions.

 

“If you’ve got issues with labor, if you’ve got issues with money going to small airports to help airlines fly in and out, work that out,” he said.

 

“Don’t hold the American jobs and American people hostage over controversial issues that were not a problem on 20 other times when Congress passed an extension.”

 

As the dispute drags on, numerous FAA employees are being forced to dig into personal savings, prioritize their bills, and cut back on expenses in order to avoid financial devastation.

 

“We’re pretty much going to burn through all of our savings within a month and … now we’re working on programs out there to give us no-interest loans,” said Mark DePlasco, one of the furloughed employees.

 

“I don’t think any of us can even fathom going without a paycheck for another month and a half or even longer.”