London building melts car, sets fires, attracts crowds

WalkieTalkieLONDON 9/6/13 — For the next three weeks, Londoners and tourists will have the chance to marvel at the city’s latest attraction: A beam of light so hot it melted parts of a Jaguar sports car and sparked a fire at a local barber shop.

On the hottest September day in seven years, office workers and tourists jostled for space Thursday on Eastcheap in the City of London financial district to see the curved 37-story Walkie Talkie skyscraper focus a ray of light that was measured at more than 230 degrees Fahrenheit. Water boils at 212 degrees.

“It’s a tourist attraction,” John Bent, a financial- services worker, said in an interview in the tower’s dazzle. “You can’t stand here. The view is that in two or three weeks, with autumn coming on, the sun will drop sufficiently to take this phenomenon away.”

One man tried to fry an egg in the beam while others, including Bent, 51, carried thermometers to record the temperature on bicycle seats in the tower’s glare. His reached 225 degrees Fahrenheit on Wednesday, while Martin Kicks’ hit 243 degrees Thursday. Local media have re-nicknamed the building “Fryscraper” and “Walkie Scorchie.”

The beam from the 20 Fenchurch Street tower, whose nickname derives from the tapering design responsible for focusing sunlight below, has melted parts of vehicles. The beam depends on the sun’s elevation in the sky and lasts about two hours a day at this time of the year, according to Land Securities Group and Canary Wharf Group, the building’s owners. Modeling indicates the ray may last until October.

A doormat at the Re-Style barber shop on Eastcheap caught fire and left a scorch mark. Scaffolding with black screens has been put up on Eastcheap around the entrances to Re-Style and a Vietnamese restaurant that’s also in the beam’s path.

Land Securities and Canary Wharf Group earlier this week said they were examining the phenomenon and, along with the City of London, blocked three parking spaces around the building to avoid further damaging vehicles. The screen will minimize the effects of the beam over the next two to three weeks when the companies said they expected the phenomenon to go away.

Shop workers said they didn’t know when the scaffolding will be taken down and they’re discussing it with the building’s manager.

The Walkie Talkie, designed by Uruguayan architect Rafael Vinoly, is due to be completed next year. The higher floors are larger than those below, creating more space on less land. The curved glass slants down toward the street and creates the magnifying effect. An email to the architect’s firm asking for comment wasn’t returned.

The Vdara Hotel and Spa at Citycenter in Las Vegas, also designed by Vinoly, produces a similar effect to the Walkie Talkie because of its curved shape, according to London-based newspaper the Guardian.

Watch a news report below:

Colorado town flooded with applications for drone-hunting permits

image1030(Reuters) DENVER – Voters in one small Colorado town won’t decide until next month whether to issue hunting licenses to shoot down drones, but hundreds of marksmen are lining up for permits to fell such aircraft in the unlikely event any appear in local skies.

A resident of the small ranching and farming community of Deer Trail, 55 miles east of Denver, floated the whimsical idea of issuing permits as a way to protest the proliferation of unmanned aircraft used for commercial or government purposes, said town clerk Kim Oldfield.

Town trustees decided last month to put the question to voters, Oldfield said, adding that there are vocal opponents to the idea among the 600 residents of the town, which boasts that it held the world’s first rodeo in 1869.

Oldfield said the town has been inundated with applications for the $25 permits, including from all over the country – and from as far away as Britain and Canada.

“I stopped counting when it hit 985,” she said.

Proponents envision a quirky festival surrounding the notion, with a skeet shooting contest using small model airplanes instead of clay targets. Oldfield said that and other events could attract tourists and infuse cash into town coffers.

Oldfield said she was setting aside the uncashed checks until voters decide the issue. If the town’s 380 registered voters reject the measure, the town will return the payments.

When the idea made headlines this summer, the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) took a dim view of firing at aircraft, even if it was just a publicity stunt.

In a statement, the agency warned against shooting at drones, noting that a downed aircraft could damage property or injure people on the ground, and could cause midair collisions.

“Shooting at an unmanned aircraft could result in criminal or civil liability, just as would firing at a manned airplane,” the statement said.

But Deer Trail resident Phillip Steel, who proposed the license idea, said he was serious about protesting what he calls “a surveillance society.” He is selling his own mock licenses online and said about 150 people have purchased them.

If residents reject the ballot measure, Steel said he will continue selling his permits.

“They can’t vote me out,” he said.

Video of toy dog embarking on an epic voyage into the stratosphere.

image1031On August 10, 2013, a cuddly toy went where no cuddly toy has gone before.

Attached to a balloon upon which was also fastened a video camera and a parachute, a toy dog named ‘Space Puppy’ was launched into the stratosphere as a gift from Shaun Van Der Burgt to his two month old nephew Michael Cavanagh living in Australia.

Video filmed by the attached camera shows how Space Puppy embarked on his adventure above the Blue Hills suburb of Johannesburg, South Africa with a note attached to one paw that says:

‘Michael, Welcome to this beautiful world, Uncle Shaun.’

The knitted dog wore a jumper reading ‘are we there yet?!’, but ‘there’ was a long way off. The space pooch reached an altitude of 70,000 feet and a top speed of 203 kilometres [126 miles] per hour.

Hours after take off, a GPS position came through from Swaziland, 340 km [211 miles] from the lauch site. Two men identified only as Sizwe and Bhuti had watched the toy land and read the attached letter offering a reward for the finder if they contacted Mr Van Der Burgt. The proud uncle set off to retrieve the adventurous toy from Swaziland, and text accompanying the original video says: ‘This ‘space puppy’ is now safely back in the grateful arms of its owner’.

Watch the video below:


Kidnapped gal’s shining knights


Best friends Aaron Arias (left) and Jamal Harris saved a kidnapped woman they saw in a vehicle.

Two Dallas-area teenagers helped rescue a kidnapped woman who pleaded through a car window by mouthing the words “help me,” the pals say.

Best friends Aaron Arias, 19, and Jamal Harris, 17, were out for a drive in their hometown of Seagoville, Texas, when Harris noticedan attractive blond-haired woman in the car stopped next to them at a stop sign.

“I was like, ‘Oh man, look at this lady, she’s hot!’ ” Harris told KHOU-TV. “And then we made eye contact and I see this serious expression on her face. And I read her lips and she was like, ‘Help me.’ ”

Arias got a view of the woman as alleged abductor Charles Atkins Lewis Jr., took off fast — and she touched the back windshield of the vehicle, he says.

“That’s when I knew we had to go after them,” he said. The teens dialed 911 and followed the kidnapper.

“He was driving crazy, swerving, everything,” Arias said. “And at one point he started turning on and off his lights, so we knew that he knew he was being followed.”

After a 20-minute pursuit they arrived in the city of Kaufman, where waiting cops stopped Lewis’ car and arrested him.

The freed woman, who was allegedly abducted from a downtown Dallas street at gunpoint, tearfully thanked the teens.

“She was beyond grateful,” Arias said.

“You don’t need a cape to be a hero,” Harris said of the Aug. 22 incident. “You just have to be yourself and just respond.”

From From The Macomb Daily, Reuters, London’s Daily Telegraph and The New York Post.