Pre-orders for the Apple Inc. (NASDAQ:AAPL)Watch available

The greatly anticipated Apple Inc. (NASDAQ:AAPL)Watch is available for pre-order as of April 10, 2015. Apple Inc. (NASDAQ:AAPL)Stores opened all over the world to take orders and schedule appointments, for a product that is only available online and is in limited supply. The deliveries will take place on April 24, 2015 but aficionados have already made arrangements in designated countries to test the gadget out for themselves.

Also among the designated countries are UK, Australia, China, Germany and France.There are three categories of the watch available: The Apple Inc. (NASDAQ:AAPL)Watch Sport at $349, the Apple Inc. (NASDAQ:AAPL)Watch at $549 and the Apple Inc. (NASDAQ:AAPL)Watch Edition, the price of which is $17000 and above. It’s said that there might be 38 options: 3 collections, with 6 different case types, on 18 straps, all available in 2 sizes.

A primary inspection of Apple Inc. (NASDAQ:AAPL)Stores revealed that the reserve was severely short, and the 42mm stainless steel version and the 38 mm Apple Inc. (NASDAQ:AAPL)Watch Sport are the only versions to be shipped out on the delivery date.The Apple Inc. (NASDAQ:AAPL)Watch will take around 4-6 weeks for shipping. Specific boutiques in selected countries will put the products on display so that the customers can come and have a look at them.

Basically, the Watch was set to be released during the Christmas season after its announcement in September. The announcement created a lot of hype among the Apple Inc. (NASDAQ:AAPL)users and they have been waiting for the arrival of the Watch in the market ever since it was announced. If AppleInc. (NASDAQ:AAPL) had opened up pre-orders then, it would have taken even longer for the consumers to get their watches.The SVP of AppleInc. (NASDAQ:AAPL), Angela Ahrents stated the advantage of using online Apple Inc. (NASDAQ:AAPL)stores to sell the watches.

Apple Inc. (NASDAQ:AAPL)planned on issuing 25000 Apple Inc. (NASDAQ:AAPL)shares to the public a few days after the orders had been places. Angela Ahrents, also known as the former CEO of Burberry, is also heading the launch of the Retina MacBook, which is easier to order and attain than the Apple Inc. (NASDAQ:AAPL)Smartwatch.The Retina MacBook is said to be available in the following colors: silver, gold and space gray at the starting prices of $1299 and the shipping time is only three days, unlike the Smartwatch whose shipping will take around one to two months.

There is also a guide available on the Apple Inc. (NASDAQ:AAPL)Insider to help the customers decide which watch to buy. There are three main things that will aid the choosing: size, model and bands.Each watch comes in a choice of two case sizes: 38 millimeters and 42 millimeters.


90 percent of Federal Income Tax Returns Filed Online: IRS

IRS has reported that more than 90 percent of the federal tax returns have been filed online this year. Online tax return filing is much easier compared to paper filing of returns. Procrastinators are facing tough time as the tax filing deadline is approaching fast. Many taxpayers are confused regarding their deductions under Affordable Care Act.

The National Society of Accountants estimated that tax preparers charged an average $261 for an itemized Form 1040 and state tax return filing in 2013. Last week data from IRS suggested that 67 percent of taxpayers had filed their income tax returns. IRS has urged taxpayers to file taxes online and to request direct deposit option for tax refund. Tax refund status can be checked on IRS website.

For individuals who still haven’t filed their tax return, VITA, TCE, and Tax-Aide provide free tax filing assistance. Tax-Aide covered more than 7,000 locations across the country. Tax-Aid has 32,000 trained volunteers who help more than two million taxpayers each year in filing their income tax return. Tax Counseling for the Elderly (TCE) offers free assistance to American aged 60 years and above.

IRS has also offered a special toll-free helpline for people to setup a meeting with IRS officials while filing paper return. IRS also offers a dedicated smartphone app for filing tax return online and for checking refund status. Tax preparation software is also helpful in filing individual or small business tax returns.

IRS report said that more than 1.2 million income tax returns have been processed this year.


How To Reenergize The Hard-Hit Oil And Gas Industry

Here’s a piece of legislation the Republican Congress should pass pronto: end the decades old, misbegotten ban on the export of crude oil, as well as the stifling bureaucratic restrictions on the export of natural gas. Astounding advances in technology and new discoveries of oil and natural gas reserves have skyrocketed U.S. energy production. America is drilling and refining more oil than it has in decades. Gas is so abundant that electric utilities can’t build or retrofit plants fast enough to absorb it all.

These barriers were put in place to help American businesses and consumers by keeping the stuff at home rather than letting foreigners get their hands on it. Back in the 1970s people thought we were running out of both resources because nominal prices were going up. The real cause was the weak dollar. When President Ronald Reagan and Paul Volcker’s Federal Reserve ended the terrible inflation of the 1970s, commodity prices crashed. Oil fell from almost $40 a barrel to $10 before stabilizing in the $20-to-$25 range.

In the early part of the last decade the Fed, with the connivance of the Treasury Department, weakened the greenback, with the same consequences: Commodity prices zoomed up, with oil reaching a peak of more than $140. Now that the dollar has strengthened—something the Fed didn’t intend, which says something about its competence—commodities such as oil have taken a hit, just as they did in the 1980s. The price of natural gas was already low because of the surplus generated by fracking.

This is why antiquated restrictions on oil and gas exports are especially harmful now. Our oil storage capacity has peaked, which means oil fields will have to cut production because there’s no place to store the stuff. It’s one thing when lower prices or less demand affect output; it’s quite another when production is reduced because of artificial, government-caused reasons. At a time when falling oil prices have put many drillers under serious financial pressure, removing wrong-headed obstacles to increase demand would make all the sense in the world.

Repealing these prohibitions would not only lead to more demand from overseas for our oil and gas but also bring closer the day that the U.S. becomes the world’s leading energy producer. More to the point, rising output at low prices will spur the use of natural gas—an ultraclean fossil fuel—for both new purposes (think transportation) and traditional ones, such as a raw material for the chemicals industry.

Opening up the export taps would also lead to a more efficient, i.e., cheaper, oil market. Most of our refineries, particularly on the Gulf Coast, are geared toward processing what’s known as “heavy” crudes. The surge in U.S. production, however, has come in what are labelled “sweet” or “light” crudes. It would make sense–and in dollars and cents–to allow us, in effect, to swap light crudes for heavy crudes until the day comes when we can construct new refineries here.

Licensing for liquefied natural gas export facilities should be approved in a timely manner instead of falling victim to the foot-dragging that’s all too common. The House of Representatives has passed such legislation. It should be coupled with a bill to end the ridiculous ban on oil exports and passed expeditiously.

Most people don’t realize that the U.S. is already the world’s largest exporter of fuels, which include diesel, gasoline and jet fuel. We send roughly 4 million barrels of these products overseas each day. In the natural gas arena U.S. producers have used technology to impressively lower costs. Whatever happens to the dollar, we can easily be a major player in the global fuel market.

It makes no sense to ignore this colossal opportunity any longer. According to one report, between 394,000 and 859,000 U.S. jobs could be created by lifting these export bans. Americans would receive lower long-term energy prices, and increased U.S. energy output would make the world a safer place.


Iran: Supreme Leader Khamenei warns ‘no guarantee’ of final nuclear deal

His people celebrated news of an interim nuclear deal with world powers.

But Iran’s Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei is much less enthusiastic.

And in his first comments on the matter, apparently meant to keep hardline loyalists on side, the Islamic Republic’s most powerful figure has warned about the “devilish” intentions of the United States.

In a speech broadcast live on state television, Khamenei said he was neither for nor against last week’s framework accord.

“What has happened so far neither guarantees a deal – or talks leading to a deal, nor does it guarantee the content of a deal. ….It doesn’t even guarantee the talks will go on until the end and will lead to a deal,” he said.

The Supreme Leader, who has the last say on all state matters, repeated his faith in President Hassan Rouhani’s negotiating team who met world powers in the Swiss resort of Lausanne and are now seeking a final accord before an end of June deadline.

But, like the President, he demanded that all sanctions on Iran be lifted at the same time as any final deal to curb Tehran’s disputed nuclear work amid Western fears it is seeking to build an atomic bomb.

These include nuclear-related United Nations resolutions as well as US and EU nuclear-related economic sanctions.

“All sanctions should be removed when the deal is signed. If the sanctions removal depends on other processes, then why did we start the negotiations?” Khamenei said.

The US State Department however has reiterated its position that sanctions would be removed gradually.

“Under the agreed-upon parameters, sanctions will be suspended in a phased manner upon verification that Iran has met specific commitments,” State Department spokesman Jeff Rathke said. He declined to react specifically to the Iranian leadership’s comments.

One problem is that Iran and the world powers may have different interpretations on what was agreed in the framework accord – a point Khamenei made evident.

“Americans put out a statement just a few hours after our negotiators finished their talks … this statement, which they called a ‘fact sheet’, was wrong on most of the issues.” Khamenei said.

He made the same point on Twitter.

“Hours after the #talks, Americans offered a fact sheet that most of it was contrary to what was agreed.They always deceive &breach promises.” -@khamenei_ir

Khameni reiterated Iranian denials that Tehran was seeking to build a nuclear weapon.

France, one of the powers to forge the interim deal, said on Thursday that many differences, including on sanctions, needed to be overcome if a final agreement was to be reached.

Negotiators from Iran, the United States, Germany, France, Britain, Russia and China will resume negotiations in the coming days to try to pave the way for a final deal.


Forecasters warn hail, damaging winds, tornado or 2 possible over broad area of Midwest

NORMAN, Okla. – Strong storms in the Southern Plains overnight are offering a preview of bad weather expected in major cities across the Midwest later in the day.

The Storm Prediction Center says 57 million people live in an area with an “enhanced risk” of large hail, damaging winds and possibly tornadoes Thursday afternoon and evening. A handful of tornadoes were reported Wednesday, but mostly in rural areas of Kansas and Oklahoma, where the storms caused minimal damage.

Emergency managers and forecasters urged residents to know what to do if bad weather approached, including where to take shelter.



Astronomers have detected a basic ingredient of life in an infant star system. The discovery shows that Earth is not the only star system that contains life compounds.
Researchers used Atacama Large Millimeter/submillimeter Array (ALMA) of European Southern Observatory for this purpose. They designed a video tour of the star to display their discovery.
The star, dubbed as MWC 480, is located around 455 light years away from the Earth. It is present in the constellation of Taurus. The size of MWC 480 is nearly double the size of sun. Even sun cannot compete with its high radiance.
The gas cloud of the star contains several molecules of carbon and methyl cyanide. Cynaides is quite essential as it contain carbon-nitrogen bond that are essential for the formation of amino acids. This is the first time when scientists have discovered such compounds in dust clouds of any star. . It confirms that numerous other Earth-like planets contain complex molecules. The molecules are the basic requirement of living organisms.
Karin Oberg, a researcher at Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics, talked about the findings. He informs that the heavy organic compound is an evidence of cometary composition.


California drought: Santa Barbara looks to ocean desalination for new water; are other cities next?

A mothballed desalination plant sits like a time capsule near Santa Barbara’s main tourist beach, a relic of California’s last drought to end all droughts.

With its control room filled with dot-matrix printers, floppy disks and obsolete computers, the padlocked Charles E. Meyer Desalination Facility represents this quintessential California coastal city’s once-fleeting hope of quenching its thirst by tapping the ocean.

Now, 23 years after it closed, with the state entering the fourth year of its worst drought on record, Santa Barbara is preparing to reopen the plant, rekindling a debate that is spreading to communities up and down the coast: Is the state’s water shortage now so dire that Californians should embrace desalination — with its high economic costs and environmental risks — as a critical element of a pricier water future?

“Desal is the last resort — and we are at the last resort,” said Bob Roebuck, Santa Barbara’s project manager for the plan. “Our reservoirs are going dry. Our wells are dropping. This is it.”

By early June, the Santa Barbara City Council is expected to vote to spend roughly $40 million to modernize and restart the desalination facility, located in an industrial area between Highway 101 and Santa Barbara’s landmark Stearns Wharf.

The plant cost $34 million to build during California’s last major drought in the late 1980s and early 1990s. But shortly after it opened in 1992, drenching rains returned. And because the water was so expensive to produce, the city shut down the plant three months later and sold its filters to Saudi Arabia. It has sat, closed, ever since.

In recent months, environmental groups unsuccessfully tried to convince the California Coastal Commission and other agencies to force the city to bury the pipe that draws water from the ocean to the plant, to avoid sucking in fish larvae, plankton and other species at the base of the food chain.

“Good decisions are not made when people are in panic mode,” said Susan Jordan, executive director of the California Coastal Protection Network in Santa Barbara. “You don’t want to wake up in 30 years and realize you’ve devastated your ocean economy.

“But with the drought, it is a freight train. People aren’t always listening to logic.”

City leaders say the costs of burying the pipe are too high and that new screens with tiny mesh on the pipe will limit any environmental harm. The town is facing an emergency, they say: Even though residents last year cut their water use 22 percent, Santa Barbara’s two reservoirs are less than 30 percent full. And the area’s limited groundwater is dropping fast.

There has been some public debate in Santa Barbara over reopening the plant, but far from a raging controversy. City meetings on the topic have been modestly attended. Voters approved building the plant a generation ago, and many seem resigned during today’s historic drought to opening it again.

“I think it’s a good idea to have for backup purposes,” said Roger Nance, owner of the Beach House surf shop on State Street. “It’s going to cost us a lot of money. But I’ve lived here since 1969 — and I’ve never seen it this dry.”

Santa Barbara is not alone. After years of fits and starts, California is finally moving ahead with several major desalination projects during its historic drought — a sign that some coastal communities with few other options are willing to pay more for a reliable water supply.

A $1 billion plant in Carlsbad, north of San Diego, is set to open this fall. It will be the largest in North America and will supply 50 million gallons a day — 7 percent of San Diego County’s water supply.

The town of Cambria, 10 miles south of Hearst Castle on the San Luis Obispo County coast, began operating a small emergency $9.5 million desalination plant in November to keep it from running out of water. And officials in Monterey County this year drilled a 250-foot-deep test well at a remote beach in Marina as part of a plan to build a $320 million desalination plant to serve 100,000 residents of Monterey, Carmel and other surrounding towns by 2019.

The project still needs final approval from the state Coastal Commission and other agencies. It is proposed to replace water that state regulators ruled 20 years ago the Monterey Peninsula’s water supplier, California American Water Co., has been taking from the Carmel River without proper rights.

“The additional gains we can achieve from conservation are limited,” said Catherine Stedman, a Cal-Am spokeswoman. “It made sense to turn to desal after the other options had been exhausted.”

Several cities have studied desalination and rejected it. Santa Clara County Supervisor Dave Cortese this week again raised a long-considered $200 million plan to build a desal plant in San Francisco Bay near Pittsburg. The proposal was shelved last year when the region’s four largest water districts decided they could obtain water more cheaply through expanding water recycling, conservation programs and other means. Santa Cruz city officials in 2013 halted plans for a desal plant after environmental activists raised concerns and voters passed a measure requiring a vote of the people to approve any plant.

The Pacific Ocean is California’s safety net. Even if the current drought lasts 10, 20 or even 100 years — as some did centuries ago — the state’s major cities would never run out of water because fleets of desalination plants could be built along the coast. A majority of California residents live within an hour’s drive from the ocean.

Israel currently produces half its water from ocean desalination. And other arid nations, such as Saudi Arabia, also rely on the sea for billions of gallons a year.

But they have few other options. And the costs dwarf every other way to produce water.

Huge amounts of energy are required to pump seawater at high pressure night and day through extremely fine reverse osmosis filters and membranes. Typically, desalinated water costs at least $2,000 an acre foot — roughly the amount a California family of five uses in a year.

That cost is about double that of water obtained from building a new reservoir or recycling wastewater, according to a 2013 study from the state Department of Water Resources. And its price tag is at least four times the cost of obtaining “new water” from conservation methods such as paying farmers to install drip irrigation, or providing rebates for homeowners to rip out lawns or buy water-efficient toilets.

“If you have other options, why would you go buy the most expensive water first?” said Newsha Ajami, a civil engineer at Stanford University.

Ajami, director of urban water policy at Stanford’s Water in the West program, said communities should first max out conservation, then expand recycled water and stormwater capture, going only to desalination as a last resort.

Once the cost of modernizing the Santa Barbara plant is taken into account, the water will cost roughly $3,000 an acre foot, boosting the average homeowner’s water bill from $80 a month to about $108, said Joshua Haggmark, the city’s water director.

“It’s expensive, but it’s still less than a penny a gallon,” he said. “The cost to a single-family home will still be less than a cellphone bill. Without eliminating all outdoor water usage and killing all landscaping in town, desal has to have a role.”

By fall 2016, the plant will provide 3,125 acre feet a year, about a third of the city’s needs. And the plant can be expanded to 10,000 acre feet a year, meeting 90 percent of Santa Barbara’s water needs.

Environmentalists are hoping the State Water Resources Control Board will adopt new rules next month to require future ocean desalination plants to bury their intake lines where feasible.

Desalination will never be a viable option for farming or for major inland cities because the cost to produce the water and move it miles — including over mountain ranges — is simply higher than other ways to produce water, such as recycling wastewater or building new reservoirs, said Tim Quinn, executive director of the Association of California Water Agencies.

But in some coastal areas, particularly towns without significant groundwater or connections to other, larger water systems, it’s becoming more realistic.

“It’s a trend,” he said. “It probably will never rise to be a double-digit percentage of California’s water supply. It is controversial and expensive. But it will make sense in some coastal communities. If you’ve got nothing else, the economics are attractive.”


Jeff Bezos’ rocket company to begin suborbital test flights this year

A space company owned by founder Jeff Bezos has finished work on a rocket engine for a suborbital spaceship and expects to begin flight tests this year, Blue Origin officials said on Tuesday.

The so-called New Shepard spaceship is designed to fly three people and/or a mix of passengers and payloads to altitudes about 62 miles (100 km) above Earth. It will launch from Blue Origin’s west Texas facility near Van Horn, Texas, southeast of El Paso.

Testing and development of the rocket engine, called BE-3, has been completed, the last major milestone before the liquid oxygen- and liquid hydrogen-fueled motor is attached to the New Shepard capsule for flight, Blue Origin President Rob Meyerson told reporters on a conference call.

Privately owned Blue Origin has not started selling tickets for flights on New Shepard or released pricing information.

“The engine is ready for flight … and ready for other commercial users,” Meyerson said. He declined to be more specific about when New Shepard would fly, except to say “soon.”

The capsule will fly dozens of times unmanned before the test flights include pilots, Meyerson added.

Blue Origin is among a handful of companies planning to offer commercial spaceflight services. New Shepard is a suborbital system, like Virgin Galactic’s SpaceShipTwo, a six-passenger, two-pilot space plane that is expected to resume test flights later this year following a fatal accident in Mojave, California, on Oct. 31, 2014.

Another company, privately owned XCOR Aerospace, is working on a two-seater space plane called Lynx that also is slated to debut this year, founder and chief technology officer Jeff Greason said.

Other companies, including Space Exploration Technologies, or SpaceX, and Boeing, are skipping suborbital spaceflight and developing systems to carry people into orbit.

Blue Origin intends to parlay its suborbital New Shepard vehicle into an orbital launch system, expected to begin flying later this decade. That vehicle will be powered by a liquefied natural gas motor, called the BE-4, that is being developed with United Launch Alliance, a partnership of Lockheed Martin Corp and Boeing.

The recently completed BE-3 engine also will be modified to serve as an upper-stage motor to fly satellites into orbit, Meyerson said.


Russian hackers allegedly infiltrate White House

A US media report has said that Russians have penetrated a White House computer system. The Obama administration has confirmed the breach, but not who was behind it.
Russian hackers were able to reach sensitive, if unclassified, information from the White House computer system after intruding at the US State Department in the past few months, accessing non-public details of President Obama’s schedule, among other things.
According to CNN, who spoke to officials briefed on the investigation, the report from the State Department refers to a series of incidents beginning last October, when suspicious activity became apparent in a “network that serves the executive office of the president.”
The FBI, Secret Service, and NSA were all involved in the investigation. The White House went to lengths to stress that the system breached by the hackers was “an unclassified system…we do not believe that our classified systems were compromised” and refused to comment on CNN’s assertion that Russian hackers were behind the incident.
As CNN explains, even if the system is not top secret, information like the private details of the President’s schedule is sensitive information sought by foreign intelligence agencies. The hackers allegedly permeated the network using an email address as the jumping-off point for the infiltration.


American Airlines, US Airways to get FAA approval to fly as one carrier

American Airlines, the second-largest carrier at O’Hare International Airport, expects to receive its single operating certificate Wednesday from the FAA, an important milestone in its integration with US Airways.

As of Wednesday, the Federal Aviation Administration is expected to officially recognize the two airlines as one during a planned ceremony at the corporate headquarters in Fort Worth, Texas.

To get the single operating certificate, the airline has spent 18 months and devoted 700 employees to aligning behind-the-scenes policies and procedures and training employees, according to an internal fact sheet.

Though American and US Airways merged as corporations in December 2013 and have merged some functions — such as combining gates at O’Hare, they can’t combine flight operations until the FAA says so. The carriers expect to get that approval in the form of a paper certificate Wednesday.

However, some of the biggest milestones that customers care about are yet to come, including a single website and a single reservation system, a harrowing project that proved rocky in some other airline mergers.

That included Chicago-based United Airlines in its 2012 reservation-system combination with Continental Airlines. Compounded by poor employee training, the switchover resulted in months of widespread flight delays and cancellations, even leading to defections of business customers, hurting the airline’s profits.

At American, the carrier is not yet close to mixing American and US Airways flight crews and aircraft, which mostly amounts to working out union labor issues.

However, for operational purposes, US Airways on Wednesday will cease to exist.