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Tipping point in Arctic meltdown; Inuit culture threatened by global warming, 181 Alaskan villages face erosion

this summer saw the first-ever recorded opening of both potential Arctic Ocean routes - the Northwest passage and the Northern Sea Route

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This summer, for the first time, both the fabled Northwest Passage through the upper reaches of North America and the Northern Sea Route above Russia opened up, apart from drifting ice. Overall, the expanse of Arctic sea ice was the second smallest in the 30 years of monitoring (summer 2007 was the smallest), and that left an islandlike polar ice cap surrounded by open water. In just the past five years, summer ice has shrunk by more than 25 percent, and so has its average thickness. One consequence of this change is that much of the sun's heat formerly reflected back out to space by the ice sheets is now being absorbed, entrenching the warming process. The acceleration of the ice melt is outstripping earlier predictions of a basically ice-free Arctic summer by mid- or late century. NASA climate scientist H. Jay Zwally now anticipates that most of the Arctic will lose summer ice in only five to 10 years. "We appear to be going through a tipping point," he says.

Newtok, Alaska, in spring, 2007, as viewed from its water tower. Boardwalks squish into the muck in Newtok, which erosion has turned into an island  read more »

Work of legendary portraitist Yousuf Karsh celebrated at Boston exhibit - Churchill, Hepburn, Picasso, and more

portrait photo of Audrey Hepburn taken by Yousuf Karsh

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The work of the legendary portraitist is celebrated at a centenary exhibit at Boston's Museum of Fine Arts. Among the portraits -

Audrey Hepburn, 1956
"The French novelist Colette picked her out of a ballet lineup to play Gigi on stage, and her career was launched. When I photographed her in Hollywood and commented on her quality of sophisticated vulnerability, she told me of her harrowing experiences during the Second World War. Years later, in the Kremlin, Chairman Brezhnev agreed to sit for me only if I made him as beautiful as Audrey Hepburn."

portrait photo of Winston Churchill taken by Yousuf Karsh

Winston Churchill, 1941  read more »

Queen Elizabeth II buys world largest wind turbine - towers over Big Ben, to light up thousands of British homes

Elizabeth II, The Queen of England

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It's been a century or so since Britain ruled the waves, but Queen Elizabeth II will soon reign over the wind. Earlier this year the Crown Estate, which manages royal property worth $14 billion and controls the seas up to 14 miles off the British coast, agreed to purchase - for an undisclosed sum - the world's largest wind turbine.

the Queen of England is buying the world's largest wind turbine, which towers over Big Ben and will light up thousands of British homes

It's a 7.5-megawatt monster to be built by Clipper Windpower of Carpinteria, Calif. Now the Royal Turbine is getting even bigger: Clipper has revealed to Fortune that Her Majesty's windmill has been super-sized to ten megawatts, producing five times the power generated by typical big turbines currently in commercial operation. The giant's wingspan stretches the length of two soccer fields. At 574 feet, the turbine soars over Big Ben and roughly equals 111 Queen Elizabeths (the actual queen) plus one corgi stacked on top of one another.

Her Majesty The Queen at the Association of Chartered Certified Accountants with ACCA President John Brace  read more »

Independent US presidential candidate Nader & running mate Gonzalez banned from debates, on ballot in 45 states

Independent U.S. presidential candidate Ralph Nader

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While millions of people around the world watched Barack Obama and fellow U.S. presidential candidate John McCain debate each other, another man running for the high office was ignored. Independent Ralph Nader is not allowed to debate McCain and Obama because officials say he doesn't qualify. However, Nader's influence on the tight election may be greater than he's being given credit for.

Ralph Nader’s vice presidential running mate Matt Gonzalez

Ralph Nader and his running mate Matt Gonzalez are on the ballot in 45 states. In his fifth run for office Nader is polling roughly five percent nationwide. His move to cement a third party system can very well swing the election - each voter Nader gains is a vote McCain or Obama lose. In 2000 Nader received nearly three million votes. Some argue it cost Al Gore from beating George W. Bush. The memory is causing some supporters to abandon him on the election day. “I'm voting for Obama only because I just don't feel Nader can win. Although I like Nader, it's just more, I'd rather not McCain win,” a voter says.

Most opinion polls list him as the third most popular in the race. But you would not think so watching the mainstream U.S. news channels. As Americans are inundated daily with wall to wall coverage of the two major party candidates one may find Ralph Nader giving a press conference inside a university classroom with two television cameras and around ten reporters in attendance.  read more »

Feel young at heart? In your 30s,40s...? They sure do in their 80s,90s, singing & performing: Young@Heart Chorus

Young @ Heart Chorus – the average age is 81

A movie you must see –

Movie: Young @ Heart - Rock’n’Roll Will Never Die

"Young @ Heart" documents the true story of the Young at Heart Chorus, a singing group whose average age is 81, as they rehearse for a concert in their hometown Northampton, Massachusetts, celebrating "25 Years of Unpredictable Art." Their music is unexpected, going against the stereotype of their age group, performing punk, rock, and disco songs, for example, by James Brown, and Sonic Youth. Many of the 24 members must overcome ill health and other hardships to participate, adding new songs to their repertoire - including "Yes We Can Can", "Schizophrenia" and "I Feel Good" - with the help and encouragement of chorus director Bob Cilman. Although they have toured Europe and sang for royalty, this account focuses on preparing the new songs, not an easy endeavor, for the concert in their hometown, which succeeds in spite of several real heart breaking events. (Movie directed by Stephen Walker, 2007)

Young @ Heart Chorus director Bob Cilman

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When the Young@ Heart began in 1982 the members all lived in an elderly housing project in North- ampton, MA called the Walter Salvo House. The first group included elders who lived through both World Wars. Anna was a stand-up comic who at 88 told jokes that only she could get away with, she sang with the group until she was 100.  read more »

World's most exclusive club: Russia, US, now China have technology to allow their astronauts to walk in space

Chinese astronaut Zhai Zhigang conducts China's first spacewalk outside the Shenzhou VII spacecraft

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China left its mark in space history Saturday, successfully turbocharging its space program into an orbit that could see a Chinese man walk on the moon before the U.S. has a chance to get back there in 2020.

Ed White backs away from the Gemini spacecraft over the Pacific Ocean northeast of Hawaii

Shenzhou Vll has been successfully orbiting 343 kilometres above Earth every 90 minutes since it blasted off from the Jiuquan launch centre in northwest Gansu province on Thursday night. It was in its 29th orbit when Zhai made his historic walk. China sent its first man into space in 2003. Two more went up in 2005 and the trio this year are on the country's third manned mission.

Astronaut Stephen K. Robinson, STS-114 mission specialist, anchored to a foot restraint on the International Space Station’s Canadarm2

When Zhai stepped out of the capsule, he confirmed China's membership in the world's most exclusive club: only Russia and the United States have the technology to allow their astronauts to walk in space.

Russia: Alexey Leonov, the pioneer (March, 1965)  read more »

"A star you could look up to both on and off the screen": Hollywood legend, philanthropist Paul Newman 1925-2008

legendary screen icon Paul Newman is arguably as well known for his philanthropic efforts as his extensive film career

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Paul Newman, Oscar winner, box office mainstay, an actor's actor, a man's man on the screen and a role model on and off the screen, has succumbed to cancer. He was 83. With his engaging smile, the sardonic twinkle in his piercing blue eyes and his cool, confident air, Paul Newman was a consummate charmer, easily passing the test of superstardom. However, his aversion to the Californian lifestyle was never disguised. He preferred to stay well away from the glitzy milieu when he was not working there and dedicated himself to his charities, businesses, racing cars, family and wife, Joanne Woodward.

American actors Joanne Woodward and Paul Newman lean back to back on each other outdoors, in the early 1960s, a few years after they married  read more »

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