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On NYr's Eve 5000 birds dropped dead fr sky, 100000 fish found dead; Clinton takes vegan pledge; "You need to get off facebook"?

Thousands of red-winged blackbirds fell dead from the sky in Beebe, Ark., on New Year’s Eve. They may have been startled by fireworks, officials say

Dead fish are seen along the Arkansas River


(quote)

For Arkansas Blackbirds, the New Year Never Came

Times Square had the ball drop, and Brasstown, N.C., had its descending possum. But no place had a New Year’s Eve as unusual, or freakishly disturbing, as Beebe, Ark.

A worker with U.S. Environmental Services, a private contractor, picked up a dead bird on Saturday.

Around 11 that night, thousands of red-winged blackbirds began falling out of the sky over this small city about 35 miles northeast of Little Rock. They landed on roofs, roads, front lawns and backyards, turning the ground nearly black and terrifying anyone who happened to be outside.

"One of them almost hit my best friend in the head," said Christy Stephens, who was standing outside among the smoking crowd at a party. "We went inside after that."  read more »

Facebook lures 500million "intimate strangers" to live online. Mark Zuckerberg, driving force behind it remains private citizen

Facebook is Redefining Privacy
Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg and headquarters

(quote)

Private citizen: Zuckerberg is responsible for turning friend into a verb. But don’t try to friend the 26-year-old CEO: the botton on his profile has been disabled.

Friends without Borders
Nearly 500 million people worldwide live their lives - or versions of them - on Facebook. Is there a limit to how much we’ll share? CEO Mark Zuckerberg is betting there isn’t.

Sometime in the next few weeks, Facebook will officially log its 500 millionth active citizen. If the website were granted terra firma, it would be the world's third largest country by population, two-thirds bigger than the U.S. More than 1 in 4 people who browse the Internet not only have a Facebook account but have returned to the site within the past 30 days.

overall vibe of the office is not unlike that of a dormitory, which is just where Mark Zuckerberg and his three co-founders first dreamed up the idea for Facebook  read more »

Actor Ashton Kutcher reveals what's missing in drama business: hometown, genuine quality; & his "daunting" experience in NYC

Ashton Kutcher, movie star and TV producer, wishes he never had to endure the boredom of being a model

(quote)

People in Iowa have a different, genuine quality and a self-sufficient humility

What do you miss about growing up and living in the Midwest?
The biggest thing I miss in Iowa is my mom. She still lives there, and I don't get to see her as often as I'd like. I miss the certain smell in Iowa when it's about to rain. I miss how quiet it is. I miss having neighbors that I know and that I like. The thing I probably miss most of all is that people in Iowa have a different, genuine quality and a self-sufficient humility, a desire to do things for themselves and not complain. I miss being around people that don't complain. I'm in the drama business, and there are a lot of dramatic people that seem to be not very happy with where they are.
Does it bother you to be called Mr. Demi Moore?
No. Why would it? People have called me much worse.
Do you still have all those trucker hats?
Yeah. I've got a giant box of them in storage. I probably have like 500 or 600 hats that people have sent me.

a picture of Cedar Rapids, Iowa, Ashton Kutcher’s hometown

one man can have a voice as loud as a media network  read more »

Brief History of Hubble Space Telescope - undergoing final maintenance-and-repair mission before retiring in 2014

Hubble lifts off on board Discovery in 1990

(quote)

*update* 2019
The Hubble Space Telescope (often referred to as HST or Hubble) is a space telescope that was launched into low Earth orbit in 1990 and remains in operation.

The $1.5 billion Hubble rocketed to space aboard the space shuttle Discovery on April 24, 1990. It's named after Edwin Hubble, a pioneering American astronomer who furthered our understanding of other galaxies and demonstrated that the universe is continually expanding.

primary mirror, the Hubble Telescope

The Hubble's primary mirror, nearly eight feet across. A flaw in the mirror was discovered after the Hubble was in space; thanks to miscalibrated equipment, its glass had been ground slightly too finely at the edges. Though the imperfection measured just one-fiftieth of the thickness of a piece of paper, it distorted the Hubble's images. Astronauts fixed the problem in 1993.

Hubble Telescope orbits at a speed of five miles per second, 353 miles above Earth

About the size of a large school bus, the Hubble orbits at a speed of five miles per second, 353 miles above Earth. At that velocity it can cross the United States in about 10 minutes and circle the globe in an hour and a half.  read more »

Newspapers' future: news-paperless, or newspaper-less? Century-old Christian Science Monitor ends daily print, goes online

Mary Baker Eddy was the founder of the Christian Science movement - she advocated Christian Science as a spiritual practical solution to health and moral issues

(quote)

The century-old Christian Science Monitor announced Tuesday that it will become the first nationally distributed newspaper to stop publishing a daily print edition, and focus on publishing online, succumbing to the financial pressure squeezing its industry harder than ever. The Boston-based paper is not forsaking print altogether - it will offer a weekly print version in addition to daily e-mail editions - but editors acknowledged shifting the focus to CSMonitor.com will save millions in addition to widening its audience.

The Boston-based general-interest paper, winner of seven Pulitzer Prizes, has long since established an extraordinary reputation for high-quality journalism. It was founded a century ago in 1908 by a religious visionary, Mary Baker Eddy, who "discovered" Christian Science and founded the paper in response to critical coverage of her in the New York World. She declared in the first edition that the role of the paper would be to "injure no man, but bless all mankind."

entrance to the Christian Science Monitor building in Boston. A century after it began publication, the paper is giving up its daily print edition to focus on posting news online  read more »

Monks and nuns become hoteliers in economically challenging times: monastic doors open for travelers in Europe

those staying at the Monasterium Poortackere in Ghent, Belgium, can choose between luxe and the spartan

(quote)

When Kathleen Mazzocco was researching places for an affordable family vacation in Italy back in 2002, booking a room in a convent was “like shooting in the dark.” The guidebook to religious lodgings that Ms. Mazzocco used had no photographs, and she wasn’t sure the information was up-to-date. But by the time Ms. Mazzocco, a public relations consultant from Lake Oswego, Ore., returned to Italy last year, making a reservation at a monastery was not so different from booking a regular hotel. She found the cliffside Monastero S. Croce, in Liguria, on the Internet, viewed photos of it on the monastery’s own Web site, sent an e-mail message asking about availability, heard back promptly, and, at the end of her stay, paid with a credit card. “They’d entered the modern age,” she said.

Friar Fausto tends Monastero S. Croce's bar

For centuries Europe’s convents and monasteries have quietly provided inexpensive lodging to itinerants and in-the-know travelers, but now they’re increasingly throwing open their iron-bound doors to overnight visitors. They’ve begun Web sites - many with English translations and detailed information about sampling monastic life for a night - and signed on with Internet booking services. Some have even added spa offerings. Occupancy has shot up at many places, and some of the more centrally located are often fully booked.  read more »

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