California Fire Codes Put Focus on Plastic Decking Concerns
November 5, 2007 11:15 AM - Stan Korthals Altes , BuildingGreen
A highly publicized series of wildfires has struck California in the last decade, putting a focus on homes in wildfire-prone areas and the flammable materials they are constructed from—including roofing, siding, and decking. Taking effect on January 1, 2008, the Wildland-Urban Interface Building Codes, developed by the California Office of the State Fire Marshal (SFM), aim to protect homes and the safety of occupants and firefighters. Among other provisions, the codes restrict relatively flammable decking, including wood-plastic composites.
The new codes affect “Fire Hazard Severity Zones,” identified by topography (fire spreads faster on slopes), vegetation that fuels fires, weather patterns, history of past wildfires, and likelihood of fire spreading from neighboring areas. Those zones affect a significant portion of the state, mostly in rural areas, but they also frequently intersect with populated areas. According to Kevin Reinertson at SFM, the standards have been projected to affect 8%–11% of new construction in California.
Mortgage foreclosures seen staying high: Treasury
November 4, 2007 07:29 PM - Reuters
WASHINGTON (Reuters) - The rate of foreclosures in the United States will remain higher than normal for the next 18 months as the current home loan crisis plays itself out, a senior U.S. Treasury official said on Friday.
"A rising foreclosure rate during a housing downturn is not surprising, but largely because of lax underwriting in recent years, especially in the subprime market, a higher than usual number of homeowners will face delinquency during the next year and a half," Robert Steel, undersecretary for domestic finance, told a congressional panel in prepared remarks.
Artery disease rises among U.S. women: study
November 4, 2007 03:57 PM - Will Dunham
ORLANDO, Florida (Reuters) - More U.S. women are developing a type of artery disease that raises the risk of death from heart disease and stroke, researchers said on Sunday.
Researchers used U.S. government health surveys to track rates of peripheral artery disease, known as PAD, in people age 40 and up with no outward symptoms of cardiovascular illness. PAD is a circulatory condition in which narrowed arteries cut blood flow to the limbs.
Australian town to run on solar power in 2 years
November 4, 2007 03:51 PM -
SYDNEY (Reuters) - A sun-drenched town in Australia's north hopes to use only solar power in two years after being chosen as the site for a solar thermal power station.
Remote Cloncurry, which boasts recording Australia's hottest day, would be able to generate electricity on rare cloudy days and at night from the station, which runs off heat stored in graphite blocks.
Thousands perched on rooftops in Mexico floods
November 4, 2007 12:15 AM - Alberto Fajardo and Luis Manuel Lopez, Reuters
VILLAHERMOSA, Mexico (Reuters) - Thousands of people perched on roofs in southern Mexico on Saturday, desperate to be evacuated from flooding caused by heavy rains that has left most of Tabasco state under water and 800,000 people homeless.
Many were set to spend another night on their rooftops, with tens of thousands already crammed into emergency shelters struggling to provide enough hot meals and dry beds.
One group stranded on a roof held a banner reading: "Enough. There are children, pregnant women, sick women. Send the police."
Researchers can predict lung cancer survival
November 2, 2007 12:10 PM - UCLA News Service
Los Angeles - Researchers at UCLA's Jonsson Comprehensive Cancer Center have discovered a novel mechanism to predict survival in older women with early stage lung cancer. The finding may have significant implications for new treatment approaches.
For the first time, UCLA researchers linked higher levels of aromatase, an enzyme that naturally makes estrogen from another hormone called androgen, to more aggressive disease and lower survival rates in women over 65 with Stage 1 or 2 lung cancer. The discovery not only gives physicians a possible new tool to predict survival but may also provide a target for therapy using aromatase inhibitors, already approved for the treatment of breast cancer.
U.S. pilot who dropped Hiroshima bomb dies - report
November 2, 2007 11:56 AM - Reuters
CHICAGO (Reuters) - Paul Tibbets, the pilot of the U.S. bomber that dropped the first atomic bomb on Japan on Aug. 6, 1945, died on Thursday at age 92, a newspaper reported.
Tibbets, who died at his home in Columbus, Ohio, had suffered strokes and was ill from heart failure, the Columbus Dispatch said in its online edition.
An experienced pilot who had flown some of the first bombing missions over Germany during World War Two, Tibbets was a 30-year-old colonel commanding the Enola Gay, a B-29 Superfortress bomber named for his mother.
Drowsy driving is big killer in U.S.
November 2, 2007 11:50 AM - Reuven Fenton, Reuters
NEW YORK (Reuters) - Darla Drentlaw was sleeping on her daughter Katie's bed, waiting for her to come home, when she woke to the sound of police radios. When the officers knocked on her door, she knew they had bad news.
Katie, an 18-year-old high school track star with blonde hair and a bright smile, had been driving home from a track meet that ended late at night. She fell asleep behind the wheel about 12 miles from her house in Prior Lake, Minnesota. She crashed into a dirt embankment and was killed.
"I thought it was just a bad dream, but no," said Drentlaw, 55. "I couldn't believe she fell asleep and we lost her."
Tens of thousands trapped in Mexico floods
November 2, 2007 11:37 AM - Luis Manuel Lopez, Reuters
VILLAHERMOSA, Mexico (Reuters) - Tens of thousands of Mexicans were trapped on rooftops and others clung to lampposts on Thursday after heavy rains flooded nearly the entire southern state of Tabasco.
At least 500,000 people were made homeless and one person was killed in the worst flooding the swampy state has seen in more than 50 years.
President Felipe Calderon said it was one of the worst natural disasters in Mexico's history.
Television images showed rescue workers hauling people out turbulent, brown waters that rose as high as the roofs of houses. Children floated down a street in a plastic tub.
Quake in west Japan could kill 42,000: report
November 2, 2007 08:10 AM - Reuters
Up to 42,000 people could be killed if a strong earthquake struck the Osaka metropolis and surrounding areas of western Japan, government experts said.
The worst-case scenario would be a magnitude 7.6 tremor shaking central Osaka on a winter morning around 5 a.m., as the deadly Kobe earthquake did in 1995, said a report issued by the Central Disaster Management Council on Thursday.