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YFZ Ranch

YFZ RanchAs the one-year anniversary of the state raid on the YFZ Ranch approaches, today’s Oprah Winfrey Show will focus on the West Texas polygamist community.

“Texas state officials say the ranch was a place where child abuse was rampant and young girls were forced into polygamist marriages,” Winfrey says on her Web site. “The people who live here say, while yes, they do believe in plural marriages, they say the are not forced to marry anyone.”

In Austin, Oprah’s show is on KVUE at 4 p.m.

Texas officials removed more than 400 children from the ranch; all but one have been returned to their families.

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2009 Omnibus Public Land Management Act

2009 Omnibus Public Land Management ActObama Signs the Omnibus Public Lands Management Act of 2009.

THE PRESIDENT: Well, thank you so much, Ken, for that extraordinary introduction and for the work that you and your team are undertaking at the Department of the Interior. We're going to add a little bit to your plate today as a consequence of this extraordinary piece of legislation.

I want to thank all the members of the legislature who helped to craft this. Many of them are on the stage here today. Obviously I've got to single out the Speaker of the House, Nancy Pelosi, for her extraordinary leadership, but also our Leader in the Senate, Harry Reid, who worked so diligently on this bill and made sure that it got done. And so please give all of these legislators a big round of applause. (Applause.)

If you'll indulge me, there are just a couple other people I want to acknowledge: Nancy Sutley, who is the Chair of our Council on Environmental Quality, who is here. Where's Nancy? There she is, right in front. (Applause.) Jane Lubchenco, who is the Administrator of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration. Please, Jane -- (applause.) A couple of great friends from Indian Nation -- President Joe Shirley of Navaho Nation, who is here. Go ahead, Joe, stand up. (Applause.) And Tribal Chairman Robert Bear, of the Duck Valley Shoshone-Paiute Tribes. Thank you so much. (Applause.)

It is fitting that we meet on a day like this. Winter's hardships are slowly giving way to spring, and our thoughts naturally tend to turn to the outdoors. We emerge from the shelter offered by home and work, and we look around and we're reminded that the most valuable things in this life are those things that we already possess.

As Americans, we possess few blessings greater than the vast and varied landscapes that stretch the breadth of our continent. Our lands have always provided great bounty -- food and shelter for the first Americans, for settlers and pioneers; the raw materials that grew our industry; the energy that powers our economy.

What these gifts require in return is our wise and responsible stewardship. As our greatest conservationist President, Teddy Roosevelt, put it almost a century ago, "I recognize the right and duty of this generation to develop and use the natural resources of our land; but I do not recognize the right to waste them, or to rob, by wasteful use, the generations that come after us."

That's the spirit behind the bipartisan legislation I'm signing today -- legislation among the most important in decades to protect, preserve, and pass down our nation's most treasured landscapes to future generations.

Many senators and congressmen here deserve enormous credit for making this bill possible. I'm grateful to all their hard work. As I mentioned before, Harry Reid made this a top priority. He made sure this was the first bill the Senate passed this year. This day would not be possible without his tireless dedication to protecting our treasured lands.

This legislation -- just to give you a sense of the scope -- this legislation guarantees that we will not take our forests, rivers, oceans, national parks, monuments, and wilderness areas for granted; but rather we will set them aside and guard their sanctity for everyone to share. That's something all Americans can support.

And that's why so much of this legislation, some of it decades in the making, has the backing of Americans from every walk of life and corner of this country. Ranchers and fishermen, small business owners, environmentalists, conservative Republicans and liberal Democrats on the local, state and federal levels -- all united around the idea that there should be places that we must preserve; all doing the hard work of seeking common ground to protect the parks and other places that we cherish.

We're talking about places like Colorado, where this bill will realize a vision 35 years in the making by protecting the wild back country of Rocky Mountain National Park, which attracts 3 million visitors a year.

Folks in communities around this park know they don't have to choose between economic and environmental concerns; the tourism that drives their local economy depends on good stewardship of their local environment. And year after year, these communities have worked together with members of Congress in an attempt to ensure that Rocky Mountain National Park will forever remain as breathtaking as it is today.

And that is what this bill does from coast to coast. It protects treasured places from the Appalachians of Virginia and West Virginia to Michigan's Upper Peninsula; from the canyons of Idaho to the sandstone cliffs of Utah; from the Sierra Nevadas in California to the Badlands of Oregon.

It designates more than 2 million acres across nine states as wilderness; almost as much as was designated over the past eight years combined.

It creates thousands of miles of new scenic, historic, and recreational trails, cares for our historic battlefields, strengthens our National Park System.

It safeguards more than 1,000 miles of our rivers, protects watersheds and cleans up polluted groundwater, defends our oceans and Great Lakes, and will revitalize our fisheries, returning fish to rivers that have not seen them in decades.

And it wisely faces our future challenges with regard to water. This bill assesses how growth and climate change will affect our access to water resources, especially in the West and Southwest, and it includes solutions to complex and long-simmering water disputes. It's hard to overstate the real and measurable impact this will have on people's lives -- people like Frank Chee Willetto, a Navajo code talker in World War II, who's joined us today. And because of this legislation, Frank, along with 80,000 others in the Navajo Nation, will have access to clean running water for the very first time. That's something worth applauding. (Applause.) Thank you for your service. (Applause.)

When coupled with the Recovery Act, which makes an historic $3 billion investment creating jobs that will restore and protect our landscapes and our ecosystems, preserve our national monuments, retrofit our facilities for energy efficiency and renewable energy-- taken together, today's legislation takes another step toward fulfilling Teddy Roosevelt's vision for this land that we love.

It's a vision that sees America's great wilderness as a place where what was and what is and what will be -- all are the same; a place where memories are lived and relived; a place where Americans both young and young at heart can freely experience the spirit of adventure that has always been at the heart of the rugged character of America.

Now, the legislation I'm signing today also makes progress on another front for which many Americans have long waited.

The Christopher and Dana Reeve's Paralysis Act is the first piece of comprehensive legislation specifically aimed at addressing the challenges faced by Americans living with paralysis. (Applause.) Many folks and organizations from across the disability community worked hard to get this bill passed, and we are grateful to each of you for bringing us that much closer to providing all Americans with disabilities a full, fair and equal opportunity to achieve the American Dream.

This act creates new coordinated research activities through the National Institutes of Health that will connect the best minds and best practices from the best labs in the country, and focus their endeavors through collaborative scientific research into the cure for paralysis, saving effort, money, and, most importantly, time.

It promotes enhanced rehabilitation services for paralyzed Americans, helping develop better equipment and technology that will allow them to live full and independent lives free from unnecessary barriers. And it will work to improve the quality of life for all those who live with paralysis, no matter what the cause.

That's the mission of the Christopher and Dana Reeve Foundation. In the lobby of their facility in New Jersey sits Christopher's empty wheelchair. And his son, Matthew Reeve, was once asked if the sight of it ever saddened him, and he replied no. He said, "Empty chairs -- that was Dad's goal," he said. "We hope there will be many more of them."

Matthew is here with us today. And the legislation I'm about to sign makes solid progress toward the realization of that hope and the promise of a brighter future.

All in all, this legislation is that rare end product of what happens when Americans of all parties and places come together in common purpose to consider something more than the politics of the moment. It's the very idea at the heart of this country: that each generation has a responsibility to secure this nation's promise for the next. And by signing this bill into law, that's what we're doing today.

So -- is Matthew here, by the way? Matthew, come on up. (Applause.) Let's sign this bill. (Applause.)

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Tony Bennett

Tony BennettWSU's Tony Bennett will take Virginia job.

Washington State men's basketball coach Tony Bennett will be named the new coach at the University of Virginia.

Bennett told WSU president Elson S. Floyd and athletic director Jim Sterk this afternoon that he has taken the job. Later, Bennett told his players of his decision.

Sterk said Virginia asked for permission to speak to Bennett on Friday.

"Dick and Tony Bennett have elevated the men's basketball program at Washington State to an unprecedented level of success," Sterk said. "We will begin a national search for a coach immediately with the goal of finding someone with the integrity, experience, and values that Dick and Tony brought to the program."

Dick Bennett was hired as WSU's coach in 2003, and after three seasons his son, Tony, was elevated from assistant coach to the head-coaching spot.

Dave Leitao resigned at Virginia two weeks ago after a 10-18 season, the Cavaliers' worst in more than 40 years. Leitao had coached at Virginia for four seasons.

Bennett was a hot item a year ago after taking the Cougars to a second straight NCAA tournament. He turned down a chance to go to Indiana, and also rebuffed advances from Marquette and LSU.

This year, the Cougars fell back to a 17-16 overall record and a one-game appearance in the NIT.

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San Jose Earthquake

San Jose EarthquakeSan Jose Earthquake: Tremor Shakes Bay area, California.

A minor earthquake has struck the Westland of California's Bay Area, leaving many residents talking but nothing damaged.

No injuries were reported after an earthquake struck San Jose, California and the Bay area, weighing in at a light 4.3 magnitude tremor.

According to Geologists, the epicenter of the earthquake was near Morgan Hill, Calif. The time was Monday, March 30, 2009, at 10:40 AM local time.

No damages have been reported.

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Bright Automotive

Bright AutomotiveStealthy Bright Automotive gives hints about electric car launch.

Indiana-based startup plans to unveil gas-electric plug-in hybrid capable of reaching 400 miles on a tank of gas at Norway auto show in May.

Anderson, Ind.-based startup Bright Automotive is being cagey about the details of its gas-electric plug-in hybrid set to debut at the Electric Vehicle Symposium in Norway in May.

The one-year-old company has created buzz because of its origins in the consulting organization Rocky Mountain Institute and the track record of CEO John Waters, who invented the battery pack system for General Motors’ EV1 electric vehicle, which was discontinued after three years in 1999.

Bright Vice President of Marketing Lyle Shuey told the Cleantech Group that the company has designed the vehicle from scratch, using lightweight materials, aerodynamic shapes, low-resistance tires, and highly efficient battery and drivetrain systems.

“In order to make a plug-in hybrid cost-effective, a person must look at the entire vehicle structure,” Shuey said today. “The aerodynamics, all the platform efficiencies, and the most important thing is mass. Every gram of mass increases the size and cost of the battery.”

Bright says low-resistance tires can improve fuel economy by 6 percent to 9 percent, and a 10 percent weight reduction improves fuel efficiency by 7 percent. Bright is working to replace steel with strong lightweight materials. In all, the company is seeking to reduce vehicle weight by more than half, allowing it to use smaller and less costly batteries.

Shuey said the company is still “looking at multiple battery cell technologies around the world” to power the car, which Bright says will have an electric range of 30 miles and a full range of 400 miles.

“We’ll take all the best technologies available,” he said. “We’re not tying the vehicle to any existing infrastructure or any materials.”

Shuey declined to name the target price or reveal the intended customers. But he did say that Bright expects to begin selling the vehicle in the fourth quarter of 2012 in the United States, with global markets to follow. The company has fewer than 50 employees, Shuey said.

Bright plans to manufacture the vehicle in the United States. The vehicle is planned to be classified as light-duty, a category that includes pickup trucks. Shuey ruled out the possibility of a small, two-seat passenger vehicle, such as Mercedes-Benz’s Smart car (see Electric Smart cars head to Denmark).

Bright doesn’t plan to be a vertically integrated company using all its own technology, Shuey said, declining to detail what proprietary technology the company is providing, and what is being provided by partners. However, he said the company is using its unique IP on how to control the powertrain.

“We’ll look at partners on the interior system, but we also have strong intellectual property on the interior… We’ll look at partners on the powertrain, but we have intellectual property there. We’ll work with partners in the body architecture, but we have strong expertise there,” Shuey said.

The company reportedly raised $11 million of a $17 million Series A round as of February. Investors include White Pines Partners of Boston and Duke Energy’s venture capital arm Duke Investments (see Trans-India drops $375M Solar Semiconductor bid).

The company spun out of the Rocky Mountain Institute in January 2008. The work at the institute was funded in part by companies including Google, Alcoa, Johnson Controls and the Turner Foundation. Shuey said the companies are “involved at different levels at Bright Automotive” but declined to say whether any of those companies have invested in the company.

As leader of the Breakthrough Design Group for the Rocky Mountain Institute, Bright CEO John Waters reported favorably on the debut of the electric SUV by Altairnano in 2006 (see Altair shows off all-electric SUV with nanotech batteries).

Bright has other plans that could be realized sooner than 2012. The company’s Bright Works division is creating systems for mass-production vehicle conversion, hybrid controls, and battery pack integration that Bright plans to sell to major automakers around the globe. Shuey said he expects the company to announce customers for those products in the second of third quarter of this year.

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Man Beheads Sister

Man Beheads SisterKerby Revelus beheaded his sister Mona in front of cops. Bianca was decapitated by Kerby in front of cops after law enforcement walked in to investigate Kerby’s earlier stabbing of sister Samantha. Then police had to restrain Kerby who went after a third sister Saraphina.

Police finally shot Kerby dead.

Two sisters are dead. The third sister Saraphina (picture above) is reportedly recovering from several wounds. The police officers are on administrative leave.

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Phantom Alert

Phantom Alert

Phantom Alert: safe or protective?

The next time you're driving home from a date in the evening, you could be pulled over for speeding, or you could have a new program, Phantom Alert, installed in your GPS system. Phantom Alert software will actually warn you if you are driving into a speeding trap, if a speed dectector is nearby, or if a traffic camera up ahead. But will this program be classified in the same category as radar dectectors, or will it help slow people down? You be the judge.

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