Daily Archives: December 20, 2011

Pepsi to ‘change’ can design some say depicts 9/11


Rolando Martinez’ photo which some say depicts the New York skyline on Sept. 11, 2001.

wtop.com | Dec 19, 2011

WASHINGTON — A photograph apparently taken by an American servicemember of a Pepsi can before departing Iraq has spurred a heated debate online for what some say is a “slap in the face” from the sodamaker’s Middle East/Africa division.

As U.S. troops left Iraq, U.S. soldier Rolando Martinez reportedly took the photo at right of a Pepsi can he found. Many online, including users who posted to the PepsiCo Facebook page, believe the rendering of a skyline combined with an airplane overhead depict the Twin Towers in New York City on Sept. 11, 2001.

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New Diet Pepsi Can from US Soldier in Iraq

Deaths, accidents as cold wave grips north India

Indo-Asian News Service | Dec 19, 2011

New Delhi- At least 39 deaths, two blinding accidents, and over 90 trains were cancelled or delayed — life was disrupted as the cold wave gripped north India on Monday with temperatures plunging to new lows and many states fogging out. Delhi, Punjab, Haryana, Rajasthan and Bihar were
enveloped in a thick layer of fog on Monday morning which slowed down pace of life and traffic across a large swathe of regions from Patiala to Patna. Many trains were either running many hours behind schedule or had to be cancelled.

In the capital, at least 29 trains were cancelled and 40 were running behind schedule while a dozen each were delayed in Rajasthan and on the Delhi-Ambala-Amritsar section.

In many areas of Jharkhand, Bihar and Uttar Pradesh, the authorities were providing fire wood and cow dung cakes for bonfires at crossings for relief to passerby and homeless from the biting cold.

The early morning fog also led to some minor accidents, but at least two worst crashes were seen in Rajasthan.

Eight vehicles, including a bus, fell into a small ditch on the Jaipur-Agra National Highway near Halena in Bharatpur early morning due to poor visibility. At least 30 people were injured.

Later, two trucks and a car rammed into one another on the same road, killing one person.

Mount Abu recorded the lowest temperature in Rajasthan at 1.6 degrees Celsius while capital Jaipur recorded 5.6 degrees.

In Bihar, at least 17 people have lost their lives because of the intense cold wave in the last four days.

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Cold wave grips North India

Parts of central and northern Bihar have been particularly reeling under severe cold with minimum temperature falling to 7.5 degrees Celsius in Gaya and 9.8 in Patna.

Jharkhand has seen at least 22 deaths in different parts of the state in last one week. However, the Met Office has withdrawn the cold wave warning in the state, saying the situation will improve from Tuesday and mercury will rise by one or two degrees.

Ranchi was the coldest place in Jharkhand Monday with the minimum temperature settling at seven degrees.

In Delhi, visibility fell to 200 metres in the morning. “I had a tough time steering through fog. But this is just the beginning. It might get worse as the temperature dips,” said Vivek Shukla, a school cab driver.

The minimum temperature fell three notches below average to settle at 5 degrees. The maximum was expected to hover around 18 degrees Celsius during the day

Many parts of Uttar Pradseh also were reeling under intense cold with Lucknow recording a minimum of 5.5 degrees Celsius.

Agra recorded the season’s lowest minimum temperature at 2.5 degrees even as all the night shelters reported full attendance. Traffic on the National Highway No.1 to Delhi was disrupted because of low visibility caused by dense fog.

In Jammu and Kashmir, the state Met office issued a travel advisory asking those undertaking the Srinagar-Jammu journey Tuesday and Wednesday to exercise caution.

“It is likely there could be a rather heavy snowfall in the Pir Panjal range,” Sonam Lotus, director of the local meteorological office, told IANS.

The minimum temperature in Srinagar city was recorded at 3.4 degrees below the freezing point, while it was minus 5.4 in Pahalgam hill station. Leh, Ladakh’s capital town, was the coldest at minus 13.2 degrees.

In Himachal Pradesh, Keylong recorded the state’s lowest at minus 5.1 degrees, Shimla 3.8, Dharamsala 4.3 and Manali minus 1.6.

The weatherman forecast snow in high-altitude areas and rainfall in mid-hills for Tuesday.

The minimum temperature at most places across Punjab and Haryana was between three to six degrees while traffic moved at a slow pace on most highways, especially New Delhi-Ambala-Amritsar national highway due to fog.

Expert: Winter could be coldest in 40 Years

bismarcktribune.com | Dec 17, 2011

GRAND FORKS (AP) – A weather expert in Grand Forks said the upcoming winter might go down as one of the coldest in decades.

Meridian Environmental Technology President Leon Osborne said that the possibility of an exceptionally cold winter is about 90 percent. He said it could be the coldest in the past 40 years.

Osborne said part of the reason for his forecast is a change in ocean currents that’s melting more north polar ice than usual. He said that has created an above-average amount of open water, which in turn affects the jet stream.

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Osborne said another reason for the strong likelihood of a cold winter is La Nina, a weather phenomenon involving the cooling of tropical Pacific water.

Cold Australian summer sees swimwear profits plummet


Australians usually head out in swimwear to the country’s magnificent beaches at this time of year. Photo: REX FEATURES

Australia’s coldest summer in decades has dampened the mood for Christmas shopping and led to plummeting profits for swimwear and clothing stores.

Telegraph | Dec 19, 2011

By Jonathan Pearlman, Sydney

Several clothing and department store chains have cut prices or closed outlets and shares in surfwear company Billabong today fell to a record low. The company said its profit could fall by as much as 26 per cent.

The unseasonal damp cool conditions – including the coldest start in Sydney since 1960 – has been blamed for a slump in Christmas shopping and big falls in sales of clothing and shoes.

“Clothing retailers are still doing it fairly tough out there,” said Russell Zimmerman, from The Australian Retailers Association. “The weather has been too cold for them – they need that really good run of hot weather and they haven’t seen it.”

The rain and cold, blamed on the La Nina weather cycle, has affected much of Australia’s eastern seaboard. Two weeks ago, the city of Brisbane recorded its coldest December day for 123 years.

The poor weather has forced stores to heavily discount of swimwear and summer clothing, with the big department store chain David Jones dropping prices by 30 per cent.

“If it was a hot summer people would have been buying bikinis,” the chain’s corporate affairs manager, Helen Karlis, told Fairfax newspapers.

“It’s the coldest summer we’ve had in 50 years.”

Other factors are also hurting Australia’s retail sector. Despite a recent cut in interest rates, Australian consumer sentiment remains low and the strong dollar has led to an increase in internet shopping.

Government figures show sales of clothing, footwear and personal accessories are down 2.2 per cent this year and department store sales were 3.3 per cent below last October.

The country’s other big department store chain, Myer, has announced plans to close outlets and reduce the size of surviving stores, citing the impact of online shopping and the gloomy consumer outlook.

Billabong said today its sales had been “significantly affected” by the bad weather.

“The poor weather has continued into December and is reflected [in] store sales declines,” a statement said.

Snow and ice warning for entire UK


Springer spaniel, Monty, pulls four-year-old, Freya Kirkpatrick up a snowy hill near Buxton, Derbyshire

Weather forecasters have warned that the entire country faces snow and a blanket of ice that will persist into next week.

Telegraph | Dec 19, 2011

The Met Office issued a yellow alert, predicting icy conditions on the roads for the whole of Britain, with travel disruption expected to continue until Tuesday. Heavy rain will turn to snow which is expected to affect parts of the country.

The warning comes as many areas woke up to snow this morning after rain forecast overnight for the Midlands, Wales and parts of the south east.

High winds and rain were due to move over the UK in the early hours, bringing more bad weather after a week of stormy conditions.

Andy Page, chief forecaster at the Met Office, said: “Snow, heavy rain and strong winds are all expected to affect parts of the UK over the next day or so, bringing hazardous conditions at times.”

The Highways Agency urged motorists to check weather forecasts and road conditions before they travel today.

Widespread frost was expected as temperatures drop to 25 to 30F (-1C to -4C) overnight and reach just 37 to 43F (3 to 6C) during the day.

Jason Glasson, Highways Agency spokesman, said: “I advise drivers to plan ahead before setting out.

“Check the Met Office weather forecast and road conditions and allow extra time if travel conditions are poor, or delay the journey if conditions are really severe.”

The Highways Agency said it had a fleet of 500 state-of-the-art winter vehicles on standby, and enough salt to deal with severe conditions.

A spokesman said: “Road users are reminded to plan for their journeys before setting out, checking the forecast, road conditions and leaving extra time if travel conditions are poor, or to delay their journeys if the weather becomes severe.

“They are also advised to be prepared and carry warm clothing and an emergency pack, which includes food and water, boots, de-icer, a torch, and a shovel in case of snow.”

Snowstorm blamed for 2 deaths in Colorado halts pre-holiday travel across Great Plains


AP/AP – This NOAA satellite image taken Monday, Dec. 19, 2011 at 12:45 a.m. EST shows cloud cover over the Southwest as low pressure over the region kicks up a mix of rain, freezing rain, and light snow through the night and early morning. Moist flow associated with this system holds clouds cover over Texas and Oklahoma with a few areas of light to moderate rain showers. Drier weather conditions persist over the rest of the East. (AP PHOTO/WEATHER UNDERGROUND)

Associated Press | Dec 19, 2011

ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. — A late-autumn snowstorm lumbered into the Great Plains on Monday, unleashing snow and fierce winds that turned roads to ice, reduced visibility to zero and jeopardized thousands of holiday motorists’ travel plans just two days before the official start of winter.

The storm was blamed for at least two deaths in Colorado. A guard and an inmate were killed after a prison van lost control on an icy highway five miles east of Limon on Colorado’s plains. Eight other inmates and a prison employee were hospitalized with moderate to serious injuries, the Colorado State Patrol said.

From northern New Mexico and the Texas Panhandle through Oklahoma and northwestern Kansas, blizzard conditions put state road crews on alert and had motorists taking refuge and early exits off major roads.

In northern New Mexico, snow and ice forced the closure of all roads from the town of Raton to the Texas and Oklahoma borders about 90 miles away. Hotels in Clayton, N.M., just east of where the three states touch, were nearly full.

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Blizzard conditions in parts of southeastern Colo.

Linda Pape, general manager of the Clayton Super 8 motel said it was packed with unhappy skiers who had been headed to lodges in Colorado and elsewhere in New Mexico.

“They lost a day or two of skiing, and they had budgeted an amount of money they were going to spend, and now they have to spend more staying somewhere else,” she said.

Pape said it’s not uncommon for skiers to get stuck in Clayton during the winter, and she keeps two freezers and a refrigerator stocked in case roads are closed.

“They are not happy, but we are not letting them go hungry,” she said.

The storm came after much of the country had a relatively mild fall. With the exception of the October snowstorm blamed for 29 deaths on the East Coast, there’s been little rain or snow. Many of the areas hit Monday enjoyed relatively balmy 60-degree temperatures just 24 hours earlier.

The snow moved into the Oklahoma Panhandle early Monday morning, and 1.5 inches accumulated in about an hour, said Vicki Roberts, who owns the Black Mesa Bed and Breakfast in Kenton. Her inn sits at the base of the 4,973-foot-tall Black Mesa, the highest point in Oklahoma. Looking out her window, she couldn’t see it.

“I have a mail route and I’m not going,” Roberts said. “You just don’t get out in this. We’ll be socked in here. If we lose power, we’ll just read a book in front of the fireplace.”

Travel throughout the region was difficult. New Mexico shut down a portion of Interstate 25, the major route heading northeast of Santa Fe into Colorado, closed, and Clayton police dispatcher Cindy Blackwell said her phones were “ringing off the hook” with calls from numerous motorists stuck on rural roads.

Bill Cook, who works at the Best Western in Clayton, said he hadn’t seen such a storm since the 1970s, when cattle had to be airlifted with helicopters and the National Guard was called in to help out. His hotel was packed Monday with people “happy they have a room,” and some of the children were playing outside in the snow.

Keith Barras, the owner of the Eklund Hotel, a landmark in Clayton since the 1890s, said guests were happily milling around the lobby and he expected to be full by nightfall.

“We have lots of board games, one of our customers has a guitar, we have a piano, so there’ll be a party tonight,” Barras said.

Though some drivers were inconvenienced, farmers and meteorologists said the storm was bringing much needed moisture — first rain, then snow as temperatures dropped — to areas of Texas, Oklahoma and Kansas that had been parched by a drought that started in the summer of 2010.

Virginia Kepley, 73, spent Monday afternoon baking pumpkin bread to give as Christmas gifts while snow fell on her farm near Ulysses, Kan.

“I decided to try to get as much done today in case the electricity goes off and I can’t make it tomorrow,” she said.

Kepley was grateful for the snow after some of her family’s wheat never got enough moisture to sprout last season. A new crop had been planted in the fall for harvest next summer.

“It is wonderful for the wheat,” Kepley said. “At least we have wheat we can see this year.”

Amarillo had rain Monday morning, and snow was supposed to start in the afternoon with several inches of accumulation by Tuesday morning.

Long haul truck driver Frank Pringle stopped at a Love’s Travel Stop in Amarillo but said he intended to go as far west as road conditions would allow Monday. His biggest worry was with four-wheel-drive cars because “they will shoot past you and cut you off and you have to hit your brakes. And hitting brakes in the snow is not a good thing.”

‘Life-threatening’ storm set to slam Southwest, Plains


Sidewalks are cleared along the Paseo de Peralta in Santa Fe, N.M. as Santa Fe residents deal with the winter storm that hit Monday Dec. 19, 2011. Clyde Mueller / AP

msnbc.msn.com | Dec 19, 2011

A powerful storm dumped heavy snow across sections of the Southwest and Great Plains Monday, stranding motorists in New Mexico in whiteout conditions and wreaking havoc on holiday travel just two days before the start of winter.

Warnings forecasting snowfalls of up to 18 inches stretched across the region as the storm barreled through New Mexico headed into the Texas and Oklahoma Panhandles and parts of Kansas and Colorado. In southern Colorado, blizzard conditions were expected to drop between 8 and 16 inches of snow.

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Expert: Winter could be coldest

Bitter cold, strong winds and heavy snow were expected to pummel the Southwest and plains states with blizzard conditions possible in parts of New Mexico, Colorado, Kansas, Oklahoma and Texas.