Monday, December 10, 2012

Air Force awards contract for MQ-9 Reaper aircraft

The Air Force Life Cycle Management Center, Medium Altitude UAS Division, intends to award a contract on a sole source basis to General Atomics Aeronautical Systems, Inc. for the procurement of fiscal year 2015 MQ-9 Reaper Block 5 aircraft, spares, support equipment, and technical data package. The Air Force announcement the award on Monday in contract documents released through the Federal Business Opportunities website.
General Atomics ASI is the sole designer, developer, and manufacturer of the Predator/Reaper system and is the only firm that possesses the necessary knowledge, experience and technical data required to perform these efforts.
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Thursday, December 6, 2012

Dec. 21 2012: end of a cycle, not the end of the world

Rampant rumors about the demise of the world later this month are nothing but superstition and a misreading of the Mayan calendar, according to JZ Knight, founder and president of the Ramtha School of Enlightenment in Yelm, Wash.
"Don't run up your credit cards to the maximum limit or engage in other foolish behavior," advises Knight. "There is no apocalypse on the horizon, and 2013 will be coming soon." NASA agrees, stating recently on their website, "Our planet has been getting along just fine for more than four billion years, and credible scientists worldwide know of no threat associated with 2012."
Much of the hype about the "end of the world" emanates from popular interpretations of the long-count Mayan calendar, which reaches a finish point later this month. Many experts and historians agree this calendar, which started about 3114 B.C., predicted the end of a cycle, not the end of the world. This means a new era starts in 2013, and there are no end times on the way.
Time of transition and renewal
"At Ramtha's School of Enlightenment, we understand that the end of every cycle is a time of transition and renewal," Knight said. "Some of Earth's transitions will be difficult for us, so it is highly important for everyone to maintain a sense of self-reliance. To heal the Earth we have to change the way we live. We can replant and reuse, learn to grow our own food, and become less of a burden on the environment."
An archaeologist at Boston University, William Saturno, told Science magazine recent discoveries of Mayan wall writings in Guatemala showed calendars that predicted the future well beyond 2012.
Effects on the environment
Besides the Mayan calendar, global warming and the effects on the environment have alarm many people. A recent report by the World Bank predicts sea levels could rise by three feet or more by the year 2100, causing massive flooding in nations from Mexico to Mozambique to the Philippines, with a major depletion of crop yields in the U.S., India, and Australia.
Knight says 2013 will offer more hope and less hype as the dialogue focuses on the renewal of the Earth rather than its demise.

Tuesday, November 6, 2012

Air Force awards space situational awareness contract

Pacific Defense Solutions, LLC, Kihei, Hawaii is being awarded a $9.7 million cost plus fixed fee contract for space situational awareness research and development. The location of the performance is Kihei. The work is expected to be completed by Feb. 8, 2016. The contract was awarded by the Air Force Research Laboratory, Kirtland Air Force Base, N.M.

Wednesday, October 17, 2012

Army buys 68 Air Vehicles from AAI Corp.

The U.S. Army intends to procure 68 Air Vehicles and three sets of Mobile Maintenance Facility spares for the Shadow Unmanned Aircraft System (UAS), according to contract documents posted to the Federal Business Opportunities website on Wednesday. “This is a planned sole source requirement to AAI Corp., the original equipment manufacturer of the Shadow 200 RQ-7B UAS,” the Army said. AAI Corp. is headquartered in Hunt Valley, Md.

Wednesday, August 22, 2012

Kaiser appointed to Pennsylvania Gaming Control Board

Pennsylvania Gov. Tom Corbett announced on Monday that he has appointed Annmarie Kaiser, currently his secretary of Legislative Affairs, to serve as a member of the Pennsylvania Gaming Control Board. The board oversees the 11 casinos now operating statewide.

The seven-member Pennsylvania Gaming Control Board was established through the passage of Act 71 of 2004, also known as the Race Horse Development and Gaming Act. The board oversaw the creation of a casino industry offering both slot machine and table gaming. The 11 casinos now in operation in Pennsylvania offer both slot machine and table game gambling, employ more than 16,000 people, and collectively have generated more than $6.5 billion in tax and license fee revenue since the first casino opened in November 2006.

Friday, August 17, 2012

NTSB responds to fatal parasailing accident in Florida

The National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) is sending an investigator to Pompano Beach, Fla. to investigate a fatal parasailing accident that occurred on Wednesday.
At about 3:15 p.m. EDT, a female passenger, parasailing in tandem with another individual, fell from her harness approximately 150-200 feet into water. The woman was fatally injured. The other passenger was unharmed. The parasailing trip was being operated by Waveblast Water Sports. The NTSB has investigated a number of parasailing accidents, and will examine the circumstances of this accident for any recurring safety issues.
NTSB investigator Larry Bowling will join the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission and the U.S. Coast Guard investigating the accident, the board said on Friday.

Tuesday, August 14, 2012

NTSB: Not much to say on Lufthansa/Colgan collision at Dulles

On Friday, at about 3:15 p.m. EDT, Lufthansa flight 417, an Airbus A330, collided with Colgan Air flight 3912, a Bombardier DHC-8-400, on the ground at Washington Dulles International Airport in Dulles, Va. The two aircraft collided while the Airbus was taxiing for takeoff.

“At the time of the accident, the DHC-8 (tail number N341NG) was stationary and waiting for ramp workers to assist with parking at gate A1C,” the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) said in a preliminary report filed on Monday. “There were no injuries to any of the passengers or crewmembers on either airplane. The DHC-8 received substantial damage to its rudder and vertical stabilizer and the Airbus (tail number D-AIKE) sustained minor damage to its right wingtip.”

The NTSB continues to investigate the accident.

Navy contract RFP for first unmanned flight aboard aircraft carrier

The U.S. Navy's Unmanned Carrier Launched Airborne Surveillance and Strike program will release a request for proposal "soon" for the first operational unmanned vehicle that will launch and recover from an aircraft carrier. [Source: Federal Business Opportunities]

Tuesday, August 7, 2012

Extreme heat waves linked to climate change, NASA says

The Northern Hemisphere over the past 30 years has seen an increase in the amount of land area experiencing what NASA scientists define as "extremely hot" summer temperatures, according to a new analysis led by James Hansen at the NASA Goddard Institute for Space Studies.

Hansen and colleagues looked at statistics and linked this increase in extreme heat waves to climate change.

These "extremely hot" temperatures covered less than one percent of the Northern Hemisphere land surface during the time period 1951 to 1980. Since 2006 these extreme temperatures have covered about 10 percent of this land area. These regions of "extremely hot" temperatures are shown on the map as brown in the YouTube video below.

The YouTube video shows how temperatures by region differed from the 1951-1980 seasonal average for June, July and August. White areas are considered "normal" temperatures, while blues and purples represent colder than usual temperatures. The range of hotter than normal temperatures is defined by the scientists as "hot" (orange), "very hot" (red) and "extremely hot" (brown).

Notice how the areas covered by "extremely hot" temperatures increases from the 1980s to the present. The massive heat waves of Western Europe in 2003, Russia in 2010 and Texas, Oklahoma and Mexico in 2011 particularly stand out.

Tuesday, July 3, 2012

Chicago's best companies to work for

Being named a Chicago's 101 Best and Brightest Companies to Work For, is a designation that hundreds of companies pursue. This year, the 2012 winners proved to be companies that deliver exceptional human resources practices and an impressive commitment to their employees.

The National Association for Business Resources selected only 101 companies that best represent the most innovative human resource programs to date. The winning companies will be honored at the Chicago's 101 Best and Brightest Companies to Work For symposium and awards luncheon on Aug. 20 at the Double Tree Hotel in Oak Brook.

Of the hundreds of nominations received, the companies listed below met the criteria as a "Best and Brightest Company to Work For"
  • ADP
  • Advanced Group
  • American Academy of Pediatrics
  • Armstrong Aerospace, Inc.
  • Arrow Strategies, LLC
  • ArrrowStream
  • Assurance
  • Bel Brands USA
  • BGT Partners
  • Blue Plate
  • Blue, Inc.
  • Bosch Rexroth Corp.
  • Burwood Group, Inc.
  • Care Communications, Inc.
  • Centro Media Inc.
  • Clarity Consulting Inc.
  • Comcast Corp.
  • Community Counseling Centers of Chicago
  • ContextMedia Inc.
  • Conway MacKenzie, Inc.
  • Donlen Corp.
  • EMKAY Inc
  • Enesco, LLC
  • Ernst & Young
  • Flexco
  • FONA International, Inc.
  • Geneca
  • Genesis Technologies
  • Getty Images
  • Ghafari Associates, LLC
  • GoHealth Insurance
  • Greeley and Hansen LLC
  • Harley Ellis Devereaux
  • Harrah's Joliet Casino & Hotel
  • Hephzibah Children
  • Hitachi Consulting
  • iD Commerce + Logistics
  • Ifbyphone Inc.
  • Impact Networking, LLC
  • Instant Technology
  • Jupiter Communities, LLC
  • kCura
  • KeyLimeTie
  • Kutchins, Robbins & Diamond, Ltd.
  • LaSalle Network
  • Laurus Strategies
  • LeasePlan USA
  • Levenfeld Pearlstein, LLC
  • Luna
  • McGladrey
  • Medline Industries, Inc.
  • Milhouse Engineering and Construction, Inc.
  • Mortenson Construction
  • Mutual Trust Financial Group
  • National Futures Association
  • NCSA Athletic Recruiting
  • Nitel
  • NOW Foods
  • Office Concepts
  • Omron Electronics
  • OtterBase, Inc
  • Paylocity
  • PEAK6 Investments, LP
  • Perspectives, Ltd
  • Plexus
  • Protiviti Inc.
  • PSC Group, LLC
  • Rabjohns Financial Group
  • Radio Flyer
  • RealTick / ConvergEx Group
  • Red Frog Events
  • Rightpoint
  • Robbins, Schwartz, Nicholas, Lifton & Taylor, Ltd.
  • Ryan, LLC
  • Service Express, Inc.
  • Shure Inc.
  • Sikich LLP
  • Skender Construction
  • Slalom Consulting
  • Sonoma Partners, LLC
  • Spot Trading
  • Starcom
  • Stout Risius Ross, Inc
  • SunCoke Energy
  • SWC Technology Partners
  • Takeda Pharmaceuticals U.S.A., Inc.
  • Tasty Catering
  • The Carlson Group, Inc.
  • The Comprehensive Group
  • The James
  • ThoughtWorks, Inc
  • Turner Construction Company
  • Verizon Wireless
  • VW Credit, Inc.
  • West Monroe Partners
  • WestLake Financial Group
  • WMS Industries
  • WOW Internet Cable and Phone

Tuesday, May 8, 2012

Cameras chosen for NASA asteroid mission

Advanced Scientific Concepts, Inc., based in Santa Barbara, Calif., announced on Tuesday their 3D Flash LIDAR range cameras have been selected to fly aboard a NASA planetary science mission designed to study and return samples from a deep space asteroid.

Set for launch in 2016, NASA’s OSIRIS-Rex mission will return samples from an asteroid known as 1999 RQ36. The 3D Flash LIDAR cameras will be designed for determining the spacecraft range to the asteroid surface, as well as evaluating the approach to potential sample sites.

"The OSIRIS-REx sample return mission is of major importance in revealing the origin of volatiles and organics that led to life on Earth," said Dante Lauretta, the principal investigator overseeing the mission. "Being able to accurately range to the asteroid surface during the 'touch and go' maneuver allows us to monitor the target profile and ensure that we are on a safe approach trajectory, with the possibility of multiple approaches if necessary.”

The OSIRIS-Rex's principal investigator is located at the University of Arizona. NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center in Greenbelt, Md., will provide overall mission management, systems engineering and safety and mission assurance for OSIRIS-REx. Lockheed Martin Space Systems in Denver will build the spacecraft.

Tuesday, May 1, 2012

American Airlines reduces senior leadership by 20 percent

American Airlines announced on Tuesday the third phase of its organization redesign since the company filed for bankruptcy in November.

The multi-phased reorganization is part of the company's commitment to reduce total costs and put the customers' experience at the heart of American's operation. This phase included the elimination of five officer positions. Combined with the previous organizational changes, Tuesday's announcement represents a 20 percent reduction in the company's most senior leadership positions.

“We must get leaner and more streamlined,," said Tom Horton, AMR Corp. chairman and chief executive officer. American Airlines is a wholly-owned subsidiary of AMR. "Our organization redesign purposefully began at the top, and today's changes will further advance the company's restructuring objectives and bring us one step closer to ensuring American has the leanest, most capable and effective leadership team in the industry."

“American is rethinking every aspect of its business - painting a clear picture of the company's team for the new American, designed to work together differently, with greater efficiently, and with an innovative and relentless focus on the customer,” the company said in a press statement on Tuesday. “All employee groups are reducing costs by 20 percent, and will continue throughout the summer.”

The following officers have announced their retirement:

David Brooks has served as American's President - Cargo for almost 16 years, and has been with American for almost 30 years.

Mark DuPont is another veteran of the company. During his 29-year career with American, he has held key leadership positions in Chicago, Orange County, Los Angeles, New York and the Dallas/Fort Worth headquarters office.

Susan Garcia has served as American's Vice President - Information Technology for 10 years, and has been with American for almost 25.

Andrew Watson has served in American's Technology organization for more than 10 years, including his most recent position as American's Vice President - Customer Technology.

In addition, the position of Vice President - Operations Finance and Strategy Planning has been eliminated. Doug Herring, who previously held that position, will be working on special projects through the end of the year.

American Airlines, American Eagle and the AmericanConnection carrier serve 260 airports in more than 50 countries and territories with, on average, more than 3,300 daily flights. The combined network fleet numbers more than 900 aircraft.

Lufthansa 747-8 Intercontinental Frankfurt to Washington service in June

On Tuesday, Boeing and Deutsche Lufthansa AG celebrated the flyaway of the first 747-8 Intercontinental delivered to an airline.

Boeing and Lufthansa employees joined leaders from both companies, media and suppliers for a delivery ceremony at the Future of Flight Aviation Center beside Paine Field airport in Everett, Wash.

At the conclusion of the ceremony, Carsten Spohr, chairman of the executive board and CEO of Deutsche Lufthansa; Nico Buchholz, executive vice president, Group Fleet Management, Lufthansa; and Elizabeth Lund, Boeing vice president and general manager, 747 Program, boarded the airplane with about 30 passengers and crew for the flight taking the airplane from Everett to Lufthansa's home base at Frankfurt, Germany.

When the airplane lands at Frankfurt, Lufthansa will host a special celebration. The airplane will begin regular revenue service June 1 on a flight from Frankfurt to Washington, D.C.

The 747-8 Intercontinental will bring double-digit improvements in fuel burn and emissions over its predecessor, the 747-400, while generating 30 percent less noise. It is powered by GE Aviation's GEnx-2B engines.

Solar eclipse visible from California to Texas

View sunspots and a solar eclipse through solar-safe telescopes this month.

Other post by Keith Stein:

Saturday, April 28, 2012

New gaming casino opens in Maryland June 6

A new $500 million gaming and entertainment casino located at the Arundel Mills Mall in Hanover, Md. will open June 6 at 10 p.m. EDT.

Located in Anne Arundel County, the first phase of Maryland Live! Casino will open with approximately 3,200 Las Vegas-style slot machines and electronic table games, including Blackjack, Roulette, Mini-Baccarat, and Pai Gow Poker.

In advance of the opening celebration, Maryland Live! Casino has a play-for-fun online casino,, a free website that allows gaming enthusiasts to play their favorite slots games, win virtual credits, compete in online tournaments, and sign-up early for the Live! Rewards players card.

A lineup of nationally-acclaimed restaurant brands, such as Bobby's Burger Palace, from celebrated chef Bobby Flay, The Cheesecake Factory and Baltimore-based Phillips Seafood will join Market Buffet and Noodles, an Asian wok and noodle bar, to offer a variety of irresistible dining options.

Upon completion, the full facility will represent the third largest commercial casino in the United States.

The project broke ground in January 2011. Upon completion, the property will employ approximately 1,500 employees; generate $400 million in tax revenue per year to support local schools, making it the single largest annual and ongoing source of revenue for Maryland's children; and generate $60 million in annual spending on goods and services, all benefiting the local economy.

The casino will be open Sunday through Thursday from 8:00 a.m. – 2:00 a.m.; and Friday and Saturday from 8:00 a.m. – 4:00 a.m. Casino guests must be 21 years of age.

Friday, March 30, 2012

Dallas/Fort Worth bids farewell to US military charter flights

More than one hundred employees and volunteers at Dallas/Fort Worth International Airport bid farewell to the final departing U.S. military charter flight on Friday, bringing an end to eight years of scheduled rest and recuperation (R&R) flights at the airport. The flight departed from DFW with a shower of affection water cannon salute from DFW Airport Department of Public Safety fire trucks. With the final flight now airborne, the U.S. Army will close its Personnel Assistance Point (PAP) at DFW Airport, which had processed soldiers and worked with airport-based volunteer groups over the past eight years.

The start of R&R charter flights at DFW for a trial run in late 2003 prompted a grass roots volunteer greeter program known as "Welcome Home A Hero" to welcome each incoming soldier at DFW. That effort helped convince the Army to move the charter flights to DFW on a semi-permanent basis in 2004.

Over the life of the program, "Welcome Home A Hero" program volunteers greeted over 460,000 inbound soldiers transiting through DFW on their way home for two weeks of rest and recuperation from active duty in Iraq and in Afghanistan. Hundreds of local organizations and more than 10,000 individual volunteers greeted soldiers from a total of 2,700 incoming flights.

In January, the U.S. Army Human Resources Command announced it would end the daily R&R charters into DFW and close its PAP at DFW airport, consolidating flights into Atlanta-Hartsfield Jackson International Airport as military deployment reductions continue overseas. The final arrival into DFW took place two weeks ago on March 14.

“We know it's good news that the Army charter flights are being reduced, because it means fewer of our nation's troops are in harm's way,” said Jeff Fegan, CEO of DFW International Airport.

The USO facility at DFW airport will remain in operation serving troops. DFW expects about 100,000 individual troops annually will transit through the airport on their travels between the United States and the Middle East.

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Thursday, March 29, 2012

Back to the drawing board for NASA

U.S. Senator Kay Bailey Hutchison told NASA Administrator Charles Bolden to go back to the drawing board so the agency will meet its goal of developing a new spacecraft that will go to the space station within a couple of years.

Hutchison made the remarks on Wednesday during a Congressional hearing on NASA’s fiscal year 2013 budget request. She is the Ranking Member of the Commerce, Justice and Science Subcommittee of the Senate Appropriations Committee.

“I am concerned about the budget that the Administrator is putting forward today,” Hutchison said. “NASA's priorities as we all agreed to in a meeting in my office just a few months ago were, number one, the James Webb Space Telescope (JWST).”

James Webb Space Telescope

NASA's successor to the Hubble Space Telescope, and the agency’s largest science project—JWST—however, has experienced development cost growth of $3.6 billion—or 140 percent—and a schedule delay of over four years, according to a report released this month from the Government Accountability Office.

“It has been thoroughly reviewed and appropriately funded,” Hutchison said. “It is a priority which is funded as anticipated.”

The second priority is the Space Launch System (SLS) and the Orion capsule.

Space Launch System and Orion

These two systems would send astronauts on deep space missions beyond low Earth orbit. SLS and Orion were studied inside and outside of NASA, and again, independently, before finally being allowed to move forward, Hutchinson said.

“The resulting independent analysis said the budget assumed in that analysis for the first three to five years, which was what we had agreed would be the amount, was accurate and provided what was needed to maintain schedule,” she said. “So of course I was surprised when I got the call that NASA was going to cut this part of the budget by $174 million (Orion). This is a case where NASA has chosen to say it's a priority but has deliberately cut the funding that was assumed to assure that it could maintain its schedule. This is of course a great concern to me and to the members of congress who agreed with these priorities and thought we had the agreement from NASA.”

Hutchinson said, “NASA claims its priorities but what is said and what is being proposed don't really match.”

Number three, the final priority is the Commercial Crew Program (CCP).

Commercial Crew Program

The goal of CCP is to develop a new commercial crew space transportation capability that will carry astronauts to the International Space Station in low Earth orbit.

CCP received a proposed increase of 104 percent over last year in the budget request. This is being asked for without any type of independent cost verification for the program, and at $830 million, exceeds the authorized amount for CCP by $330 million.

“I do support commercial crew,” Hutchinson said. “However, I think NASA is continuing to throw money at too many companies with a hope of flying astronauts and not doing what it has done, which is to undertake a study for the commercial crew similar to what you've done with Orion and SLS, including an independent analysis of options and then funding the programs that NASA believes have the most hope of gaining what we all want, which is the quickest American provided commercial crew vehicle to the space station as possible.”

“So I hope NASA will go back to the drawing board and support commercial crew in a fiscally responsible way so that we can all, once again, be on the same page for our goals, which is a commercial crew vehicle that will go to the space station within a couple of years,” Hutchinson said.

Saturday, March 24, 2012

Five science rockets wait for weather to clear

NASA has rescheduled the launch of five suborbital sounding rockets from the Wallops Flight Facility in Virginia to Monday night with liftoff set between midnight and 5 a.m. EDT.

The rockets are part of the Anomalous Transport Rocket Experiment, a mission that will gather information needed to better understand the process responsible for the high-altitude jet stream located 60 to 65 miles above the surface of the Earth.

As part the mission, the five rockets will release a chemical tracer that will form milky, white clouds that allow scientists and the public to "see" the winds in space.  These clouds may be visible for up to 20 minutes by residents from South Carolina to southern New Hampshire and Vermont.

Friday, March 23, 2012

Another day of delays and cancellations for Air Canada

Although Air Canada ground handling employees at Toronto and Montreal international airports have returned to work following an illegal work stoppage this morning, delays and cancellations of Air Canada-operated flights primarily to Canadian and U.S. destinations are expected for the remainder of the day, the airline said in a press statement on Friday.

"We recognize that many customers are being inconvenienced and our focus right now is on getting them to their destination safely, and as quickly as we can," said Duncan Dee, Air Canada’s Executive Vice President and Chief Operating Officer. "We thank our customers for their patience and loyalty as we work doubly hard to restore their confidence in Air Canada. We would also like to thank those employees who worked tirelessly throughout the night to minimize impact on our customers."

Air Canada is the country's largest domestic and international full-service airline providing scheduled and charter air transportation for passengers and cargo to more than 180 destinations on five continents.

Customers are requested to check the status of their flight at before leaving for the airport.

On Sunday, a fire at Lester B. Pearson International Airport in Toronto caused major flight delays and cancellations in the morning for Air Canada and other air traffic. The fire disabled the lights on runway 05/23 and reduced the airport's operating capacity, airport officials said.

Thursday, February 9, 2012

High ratings for National Geographic Channel’s “Doomsday Preppers” series

Doomsday Preppers is a big hit. The National Geographic Channel's two-episode premiere of the new series became the highest-rated Tuesday night telecasts in the channel's 11-year history, with both episodes (Bullets, Lots of Bullets; and I Hope I Am Crazy) averaging P25–54 0.8 ratings.

Nearly 4.3 million total viewers over age 2 and 2.3 million viewers in the key P25–54 demo tuned in to the two-hour premiere.

Each episode of the 10-part series explores the lives of otherwise ordinary Americans who are preparing for the end of the world as we know it. Preppers go to whatever lengths they can to make sure they are prepared for any of life's uncertainties – from constructing a home out of shipping containers, stockpiling 50,000 pounds of food, practicing evacuation drills or hand-to-hand combat to working on a solar-powered satellite system.

Catch the next episode Tuesday night at 9 p.m. EST.

Other post by Keith Stein:

Tuesday, February 7, 2012

Are you ready for Doomsday?

With tsunamis, earthquakes and financial concerns dominating the headlines over the past year, National Geographic Channel (NGC) and Kelton Research on Tuesday released the results of a survey gauging Americans' preparedness levels and mind-set related to a potential "Doomsday" scenario.

Most Americans are fearful of catastrophes, yet are poorly prepared, according to the new survey. Eighty-five percent of the nation is not ready for a devastating event, blame the recession for being unprepared and are more fearful of a man-made catastrophe if a Republican wins the presidential election.

NGC is launching a new TV series on Tuesday night at 9 p.m. EST, Doomsday Preppers, focusing on Americans with an unshakable certainty that America soon faces tougher times - when grocery stores are empty, water is in short supply and electricity is unavailable - and are stockpiling for survival.

In the survey of more than 1,000 men and women conducted online from Jan. 3 to Jan. 10 with a 3.1 percent margin of error, the question was asked, "Which of the following, if any, do you think might happen in the United States in the next 25 years?" Earthquakes (64 percent), hurricanes (63 percent) and terrorism (55 percent) are the most feared, followed by financial collapse (51 percent), significant blackout (37 percent), a pandemic (29 percent) and nuclear fallout (14 percent).

Regardless of the incident, more than 62 percent Americans think the world will experience a major catastrophe in less than 20 years. And nearly three out of every four people (71 percent) envision a major disaster in their lifetime as an act of God, not man. Nearly one-third (27 percent) believe that the Mayan calendar's prediction about a calamitous event in December 2012 will be at least "somewhat true."

With the presidential election this November, politics also factored into the results, with more than half of the nation (52 percent) believing that if Mitt Romney or one of his Republican counterparts overtake Barack Obama, a man-made catastrophe is more likely.

Among those who feel unprepared, 40 percent cite the lasting effects of the recession as the reason for being unprepared. But the same number (40 percent) is saying "to hell with a 401(k)" to save money for catastrophe arrangements. Nearly half (49 percent) of Americans would forgo new high-end appliances in a new home if it had a safe room or bomb shelter instead.

While one in four Americans have done nothing to prepare, among those who have prepared, actions they have taken are very basic: 60 percent have stored canned food; 58 percent drinking water; and 56 percent batteries. However, only 12 percent of the population has practiced drills, and 39 percent have learned basic survival skills.

Were "doomsday to arrive," nearly four in 10 (39 percent) don't think they would last two weeks based on the supplies they have on hand.

Other post by Keith Stein: