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 veryhotthread  Author  Topic: Stuff & Nonsense  (Read 110971 times)
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xx Re: Stuff & Nonsense
« Reply #1335 on: Sep 27th, 2010, 7:32pm »

Spiegel online

09/27/2010 10:41 AM
WikiLeaks Spokesman Quits
'The Only Option Left for Me Is an Orderly Departure'
In an interview with SPIEGEL

Daniel Schmitt -- the 32-year-old German spokesman for WikiLeaks who is also the organization's best-known personality after Julian Assange -- discusses his falling out with the website's founder, his subsequent departure and the considerable growing pains plaguing the whistleblower organization.

SPIEGEL: Mr. Schmitt, you and WikiLeaks have been unreachable by e-mail for several weeks. What's wrong?

Schmitt: There are technical problems and no one to take care of them. WikiLeaks is stuck in a phase in which the project has to change itself. We grew insanely fast in recent months and we urgently need to become more professional and transparent in all areas. This development is being blocked internally. It is no longer clear even to me who is actually making decisions and who is answerable to them. Because of the high pressure we have all been under following the publication of the American military documents, we have not been able to restructure our organization accordingly. This has created a situation in which not all of the work is being done correctly, and that is overwhelming the project.

SPIEGEL: Is that your opinion or do all the people involved share it?

Schmitt: That is one of the points of dispute internally, but there are others. WikiLeaks, for example, was always free of discrimination. In the past we processed and published smaller submissions that were only of local importance the same way that we did more comprehensive documents that are of national or even international importance.

SPIEGEL: Why don't you do both?

Schmitt: We would like to, but unfortunately we've reached a dead-end. I have tried again and again to push for that, but Julian Assange reacted to any criticism with the allegation that I was disobedient to him and disloyal to the project. Four weeks ago, he suspended me-- acting as the prosecutor, judge and hangman in one person. Since then, for example, I have had no access to my WikiLeaks mail. So a lot of work is just sitting and other helpers are being blocked. I know that no one in our core team agreed with the move. But that doesn't seem to matter. WikiLeaks has a structural problem. I no longer want to take responsibility for it, and that's why I am leaving the project.

SPIEGEL: Why has your fight with Assange escalated to this degree?

Schmitt: We have all experienced intense stress in recent months. Mistakes happened, which is okay, as long as people learn from them. For that to happen, though, one has to admit them. Above all, though, we seem to have lost the faith that we are all pulling together.

SPIEGEL: Assange himself says that you questioned his power and wanted to take over leadership of WikiLeaks.

Schmitt: From my perspective there was no power struggle. It wasn't about personal interests, it was about our organization and its development. Only he can say why he sees things differently.

SPIEGEL: Nevertheless, you did advise him to temporarily retreat from the public eye as a result of the rape allegations lodged against him in Sweden.

Schmitt: The investigation into Julian in Sweden is, in my opinion, a personal attack against him, but they do not have anything to with WikiLeaks directly. Still, it does cost time and energy and it weighs on him. In my opinion it would have been best if he had pulled back a bit so that he could quietly deal with these problems. It would have been fine if he had continued his normal work out of the spotlight. But he clearly saw my internal proposal as an attack on his role.

SPIEGEL: What will happen now?

Schmitt: I worked on WikiLeaks because I considered the idea to be right and important. We tried numerous times to discuss all of the issues mentioned with Julian, without success. I have given more than 100 interviews to media all around the world, coordinated finances in Germany and also worked on the publication (of documents). Now I am pulling out of the project and will turn my tasks over to -- who knows?

SPIEGEL: Who are you referring to when you say "we"?

Schmitt: A handful of people in the core team, who have views about these things that are similar to mine but do not want to go public. A large amount of the work is done by people who want to remain unnamed. There is a lot of resentment there and others, like me, will leave.

SPIEGEL: You are leaving the project at a critical juncture. Do you not worry that a number of Internet activists may accuse you of betraying the cause?

Schmitt: I am aware of that, but you should assume that I have thought long and hard about the step. Nevertheless, in recent years, I have invested a considerable amount of time, money and energy into WikiLeaks. But I also have to be able to support the things for which I am publicly responsible. That is why the only option left for me at the moment is an orderly departure.

SPIEGEL: What is it that you no longer stand behind?

Schmitt: That we promise all of our sources that we will publish their material, for example. Recently, however, we have only focused on the major topics and applied practically all of our resources to them. Take the US Army Afghanistan documents at the end of July, for example. The video of the air strike in Baghdad in 2007, "Collateral Damage," was an extreme feat of strength for us. During the same period of time we also could have published dozens of other documents. And through our rising recognition in the last six months, we have again received a lot of material that urgently needs to be processed and published.

SPIEGEL: With the publication of classified Afghanistan reports, also through SPIEGEL, you have taken on the United States, a superpower. Washington is threatening to prosecute you for espionage and WikiLeaks supporters have been interrogated by the FBI. Bradley Manning, who is believed to be one of your informants, is sitting in jail. Are you afraid of the massive public pressure?

Schmitt: No, pressure from the outside is part of this. But this one-dimensional confrontation with the USA is not what we set out to do. For us it is always about uncovering corruption and abuse of power, wherever it happens -- on the smaller and larger scale -- around the world.

SPIEGEL: What does it mean for the organization now that its second most recognizable face after that of Julian Assange is leaving? Is WikiLeaks' future in jeopardy?

Schmitt: I hope not. The idea behind WikiLeaks is too important for that. There are a number of new people in Sweden and Great Britain and I hope that they will all work on something sensible. I believe in this concept that we set out to do, and I am confident that it will survive.

SPIEGEL: With a part of the WikiLeaks team now leaving, do your informants need to be concerned about what will happen with the material they submitted?

Schmitt: It is my view that material and money from donors should remain at WikiLeaks, because both were intended explicitly for this project. There are other opinions internally -- with our technical people, for example. No matter what, though, we will ensure that a clean transition happens.

SPIEGEL: You quit your job because of WikiLeaks. What will you do now?

Schmitt: I will continue to do my part to ensure that the idea of a decentralized whistleblower platform stays afloat. I will work on that now. And that, incidentally, is in line with one of our original shared convictions -- in the end, there needs to be a thousand WikiLeaks.

SPIEGEL: In your role as WikiLeaks spokesman, you have always gone by the name "Daniel Schmitt." What's your real name?

Schmmitt: It is high time that I also stop doing that and to go public with my name and my opinions. My name is Daniel Domscheit-Berg.

Interview conducted by Marcel Rosenbach and Holger Stark

http://www.spiegel.de/international/germany/0,1518,719619,00.html

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« Reply #1336 on: Sep 27th, 2010, 8:09pm »

AOL news

Mazlan Othman Not Earth's Alien Ambassador After All
Updated: 1 hour 21 minutes ago

David Knowles
Writer

AOL News Surge Desk (Sept. 27) -- Call it one small misstep for mankind.

Malaysian astrophysicist Mazlan Othman has officially denied media reports that she was selected by the United Nations to represent earthlings in their future dealings with aliens.

"It sounds really cool," Othman told The Guardian, "but I have to deny it."

The United Nations has also denied the story, which was first told by The Sunday Times over the weekend and then subsequently re-reported by numerous other media outlets around the world.

The idea, according to the original erroneous piece, was that the planet would have a person in place when the eventual arrival of an alien ship led to the inevitable "take me to your leader" moment.

"The article in the Sunday times is nonsense," a U.N. spokesman said.

It remains a debated point, however, whether the world's governmental bodies should take the subject of possible alien encounters more seriously. As AOL News contributor Lee Speigel wrote in June, some European politicians are urging the U.N. to bring the topic of UFO sightings out into the open and urge world governments to declassify documents that chronicle human encounters with alien space ships.

Meanwhile, in Washington, D.C., today, seven retired U.S. airmen testified about their own run-in with what they believe to be an extraterrestrial ship at an English air force base in 1980.

"They were brightly colored, changing from elliptical to round as if they were moving at very high speed," retired Air Force Col. Charles Halt told an audience at the National Press Club, the Daily Mail reported.

According to Halt, the suspected ship shot a beam of concentrated light at the feet of the men, who had been sent to investigate the UFO. "Was this a warning? An attempt to communicate? A weapon? Then, just as suddenly as it appeared, it disappeared," Halt said.


more after the jump
http://www.aolnews.com/surge-desk/article/un-doesnt-have-alien-ambassador-after-all-says-mazland-othman/19650380

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xx Re: Stuff & Nonsense
« Reply #1337 on: Sep 27th, 2010, 8:40pm »

on Sep 27th, 2010, 6:23pm, Swamprat wrote:
Dandelions are good eatin'!


http://www.wimp.com/babybunny/


That bunny is just sooo cute... it made me clucky.... laugh
Smart bunny though..... Dandelions are known for their healing properties.

http://www.google.com.au/search?q=dandelion+heals+skin+cancers&ie=utf-8&oe=utf-8&aq=t&rls=org.mozilla:en-USshockedfficial&client=firefox-a
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« Reply #1338 on: Sep 28th, 2010, 08:25am »

on Sep 27th, 2010, 8:40pm, Luvey wrote:
That bunny is just sooo cute... it made me clucky.... laugh
Smart bunny though..... Dandelions are known for their healing properties.

http://www.google.com.au/search?q=dandelion+heals+skin+cancers&ie=utf-8&oe=utf-8&aq=t&rls=org.mozilla:en-USshockedfficial&client=firefox-a


Good evening Pen,
He was so sweet. I didn't know dandelions were that full of goodies, thanks for the link.
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« Reply #1339 on: Sep 28th, 2010, 08:28am »

New York Times

September 27, 2010
Brother of Afghan Leader Is Subject of Wiretapping
By JAMES RISEN

WASHINGTON — The National Security Agency has been conducting electronic surveillance of a brother of the Afghan president, Hamid Karzai, as part of a corruption investigation into his business dealings in Afghanistan, according to United States officials.

The National Security Agency’s wiretapping of Mahmoud Karzai, an older brother of President Karzai, appears to be part of a larger criminal investigation now under way by federal prosecutors in New York, according to the officials, who declined to be identified by name discussing a criminal inquiry.

Mahmoud Karzai, who ran restaurants in the United States before the attacks of Sept. 11, 2001, is widely seen as one of the most powerful and well-connected business leaders in Kabul. He has been criticized in Afghanistan for taking advantage of his status as the brother of the president to engage in insider dealing in real estate, cement and other industries, and he has angered powerful officials in the Afghan Army by developing a lucrative residential real estate project on thousands of acres of valuable land in Kandahar that the army claims to own.

His role as an investor in Kabul Bank, Afghanistan’s largest commercial bank — which was taken over by the country’s central bank in late August because of concerns about heavy losses — has brought increased scrutiny to his activities in both Washington and Kabul.

The N.S.A. wiretapping of Mr. Karzai in Afghanistan has been under way for at least several months, during a time when the crisis at the Kabul Bank was worsening.

The United States has created investigative teams with the Afghan government to fight corruption in the country, but the investigation of Mr. Karzai by federal prosecutors in New York appears to have been kept separate from that joint effort.

While the new joint anticorruption unit in Kabul has its own wiretapping capability, the fact that the N.S.A. has been involved in conducting surveillance of Mr. Karzai underscores the secrecy and sensitivity surrounding the investigation.

Gerald Posner, a lawyer for Mahmoud Karzai, said Monday that Mr. Karzai had not been contacted or interviewed by the F.B.I. or the Justice Department, and had not been told that he was the subject of an investigation.

A spokeswoman for the Justice Department declined to comment. The Wall Street Journal first reported Monday that prosecutors had opened an inquiry into Mr. Karzai. Mr. Posner said that Mr. Karzai had canceled a planned trip to the United States.

The inquiry comes at an awkward time in the relationship between the Obama administration and the government of President Karzai. For months, the White House openly criticized President Karzai for tolerating widespread corruption that undermined the credibility of his government at a time when the United States was pouring more troops into the fight against the Taliban. But recently, the administration has begun to back off its anticorruption campaign out of a growing sense in Washington that it was having little effect other than to antagonize President Karzai and his political circle.

Until recently, another of President Karzai’s brothers, Ahmed Wali Karzai, received far more public scrutiny than Mahmoud Karzai. Ahmed Wali Karzai, the chairman of the provincial council of Kandahar who is widely considered to be the political boss of southern Afghanistan, has been accused of benefiting from narcotics trafficking, and United States officials have said that he also has had a longstanding relationship with the Central Intelligence Agency.

Mahmoud Karzai, by contrast, did not go into the Afghan government and has immersed himself in business. But several Karzai relatives have said that Mahmoud has been planning to form a new political party in Afghanistan and has been thinking about running for president when his brother’s term ends.

But as he has gained prominence, accusations of corrupt dealings have plagued Mahmoud Karzai. According to a person close to Mr. Karzai, Senator John Kerry, the chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, privately confronted President Karzai over Mr. Karzai’s business dealings in a recent meeting in Kabul. After the meeting, President Karzai called Mr. Karzai and questioned him, according to the person close to Mr. Karzai.

Mr. Karzai could not be reached for comment on Monday, but in an interview last week, he denied any wrongdoing, and said that all of his business dealings in Afghanistan were honest and that he was investing in Afghanistan’s future growth.

But even some of his relatives are critical of Mr. Karzai’s aggressive style in Afghanistan.

“I have told him that he should have handled his business exactly the way we did in the U.S.,” said another Karzai brother, Qayum Karzai. Both Qayum and Mahmoud Karzai have owned and operated restaurants in the United States.

“He should not have had so much of a gray area around his business dealings,” Qayum Karzai said. “I personally have told him he should have had experts and lawyers look at his deals, and not just do it on handshakes and friendships, and make sure it doesn’t smell fishy, because you are the president’s brother.”

http://www.nytimes.com/2010/09/28/world/asia/28inquire.html?_r=1&ref=world

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« Reply #1340 on: Sep 28th, 2010, 08:31am »

Good morning Crystal..... grin I hope you have a wonderful day. smiley

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« Reply #1341 on: Sep 28th, 2010, 08:33am »

New York Times

September 27, 2010
Polar Sidekicks Earn a Place on the Map
By JOHN NOBLE WILFORD

Late by almost a century, cartographic immortality is being accorded the dogs and ponies who bore much of the burden, and in most cases gave their all, in the 1911-12 race between the Norwegian Roald Amundsen and the Englishman Robert Falcon Scott to be the first to reach the South Pole.

The frozen poles, south and north, were the outer space of that day, a mystery and a challenge, and getting there first had fired up personal and national rivalries not unlike those in the race to the Moon in the 1960s. Amundsen’s team got to the South Pole first, by five weeks. Scott and his men starved and froze to death on their return trek. In death Scott was hailed the hero, long eclipsing Amundsen in romanticized history.

Today’s map of Antarctica is sprinkled with the names of the two of them and other explorers and scientists, affixed to plateaus and valleys, seas and ice shelves. Even their benefactors and other notables, including now obscure European royalty, are acknowledged. But nowhere is there a tip of the hat to the canine and equine contributions, which historians and polar experts agree were, in the case of the dogs at least, indispensable in early Antarctic discovery.

That is changing, in a modest way, as the result of a United States Air Force colonel’s inspired campaign and in anticipation of next year’s centennial celebration of the Amundsen-Scott achievements.

Beginning this week, as aircraft resume supply runs in what passes for springtime after the bitter austral winter, aeronautical maps of the primary route used by all air traffic between New Zealand and McMurdo Station in Antarctica will bear names of 11 of Amundsen’s sledge dogs and Scott’s ponies.

Navigation waypoints on this highway in the sky will honor, among others, Helge, Mylius and Uroa (Greenland dogs of Amundsen’s) and Jimmy Pigg, Bones and Nobby (Scott’s Manchurian and Siberian ponies). Several of the animals’ names have been modified to conform to the standard five-letter format for the waypoints, where at intervals of a few hundred miles pilots must report by radio to air traffic controllers their time of arrival, position and weather conditions.

On the new map, for example, Helge’s name appears in full, but Uroa’s becomes Urroa, and Jimmy Pigg is conflated to Jipig. Previously, waypoint names were just a set of letters generated by computers, meaning nothing. An exception, the next to last waypoint near the Antarctic coast, will continue to be designated Byrrd, for Adm. Richard E. Byrd, one of the most famous American explorers of the continent.

The map changes hardly put Helge in the boldface class with such landmarks as Marie Byrd Land, after the admiral’s wife. And only navigators and air traffic controllers are expected to cast eyes on the fine print along route A338 curving south from Christchurch.

But for Col. Ronald J. Smith, an Air Force navigator and former commander of Operation Deep Freeze, the military arm supporting Antarctic research, the Amundsen-Scott Centennial Aeronautical Chart is the culmination of a two-year personal campaign to make amends for the lack of public recognition of the animals’ role in the race to the pole.

Colonel Smith, 54, now an adviser to the Air Mobility Command at Scott Air Force Base in Illinois, conceived of a kind of dog-and-pony show of his own: putting some of their names on the map. Since the names of individual animals were not allowed on the map of the continent itself, the colonel set his sights on the charts he knew so well from flying the Christchurch-McMurdo route over the years.

“Everybody I went to said, ‘Sounds great, go for it,’ ” he said in one of several interviews last week.

First, the Civil Aviation Authority of New Zealand, responsible for that sector of air space, endorsed the concept and secured approval from the International Civil Aviation Organization. The National Science Foundation, which manages science research in that part of Antarctica, also approved. “And there was no pushback from the military,” Colonel Smith added.

Then Lynne Cox, an American author who is writing a book on Amundsen, helped the colonel compile the names of the 52 dogs that Amundsen started out with on Oct. 19, 1911, identifying the ones that reached the pole and the 11 that survived to the end. While in Norway, Ms. Cox worked with archivists to determine the fate of those that did not and to screen the abbreviated versions of the names to catch any that might be off-color, silly or too similar to other waypoint names on international maps.

“Ron was so careful about the names, being sure that in any language they were O.K.,” said Ms. Cox, a hardy cold-water swimmer who has long laps off Antarctica and across the Bering Strait to her credit.

Two of the names used, Uroa and Mylius, are for dogs that completed the round trip, on Jan. 25, 1912. Three — Per, Frithjof and Lasse (no kin to the collie of cinematic fame) — were killed on the return trek. Helge reached the pole, weak and dying, and so was killed. It was the practice throughout for the explorers to sacrifice some of the dogs for their meat, feeding them to the remaining dogs and sometimes eating the cutlets themselves.

In one of the many poems he has written about his own Antarctic experience, Colonel Smith addressed the unfortunate Helge. Part of the poem reads:

“Though you faltered

before the fame,

the untamable terrain;

breed of exalted wild-ones,

we did succeed

amidst your slaughter...”

Colonel Smith consulted archivists in London for the five pony names for the new map. Besides Jimmy Pigg as Jipig, Snippets becomes Snipt, Bones Boenz, Jehu Jehoo and Nobby Nobey.

Scott’s strategy was to rely not just on dogs but also on motorized sledges, 10 little horses and manpower — the men themselves pulling sledges. As Scott wrote, “In my mind no journey ever made with dogs can approach the height of that fine conception which is realized when a party of men go forth to face hardships, dangers, and difficulties with their own unaided efforts.”

But the motor vehicles failed early in the trek, and the ponies proved unequal to the tasks. They were sacrificed on the way to the pole. For the most part, the five men took up the full burden.

Scott’s team left later for the pole, on Nov. 1, 1911, and from a starting point that gave Amundsen a 60-mile advantage on the 1,500-mile traverse. The Englishmen did not arrive at the pole until Jan. 17, 1912. In his diary, Scott wrote: “Great God! This is an awful place and terrible enough for us to have laboured to it without the reward of priority.”

In the last half of the last century, biographers have reassessed Amundsen’s success against Scott’s failure.

Roland Huntford, the British author of the 1999 book “The Last Place on Earth: Scott and Amundsen’s Race to the South Pole,” contends that the Norwegian’s steady temperament and expert preparations were decisive in winning the race. According to this thesis, Amundsen approached the hardships realistically, applying practical lessons from his experience with Eskimos in the north and relying on well-trained dogs to pull sledges. Scott, by contrast, took a more romantic view of exploration, in which hardships simply were to be endured as a test of heroism.

To one degree or another, this assessment has gained a wide following. But while Amundsen may have earned success, Scott may not have been entirely responsible for his fate. Several recent books have attempted to restore Scott’s heroic standing. In a 2001 book, “The Coldest March,” Susan Solomon, a meteorologist with the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, assigns much of the blame for Scott’s fate to an exceptional blizzard that struck before his party could reach the home base.

With the centennial near, plans are being made for ceremonies at the bottom of the world, at the American-operated outpost known as the Amundsen-Scott South Pole Station. Cruise ships are laying on special tourist trips into Antarctic waters, and individuals from several nations are petitioning authorities for permission to re-enact the polar treks. Norway has proposed a new race to the pole, by snowmobiles.

But no dogs are likely to be invited for the occasion. In the 1980s, it was found that they were spreading distemper that proved fatal to indigenous seals. So by international agreement in 1993, dogs have been banned from the ice-bound continent where they once helped make history.

http://www.nytimes.com/2010/09/28/science/28polar.html?ref=science

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« Reply #1342 on: Sep 28th, 2010, 08:39am »

Guardian

World gripped by 'international currency war'
• Brazilian finance minister Guido Mantega speaks out against devaluations
• Economists fear increasing currency volatility and instability

Tim Webb guardian.co.uk,
Tuesday 28 September 2010 09.39 BST

The world is in the midst of an "international currency war" according to Brazil's finance minister as governments force down the value of their currencies to boost their struggling economies.

The comments are the first public admission made by a senior policymaker about a practice which has become increasingly widespread since the global economic downturn.

Many countries, notably China, have been deliberately weakening their currencies by selling them on foreign exchanges or keeping interest rates artificially low to make their exports cheaper.

Economists fear that such moves are resulting in increasing currency volatility and instability. Increasing competition among individual countries to devalue also makes it harder to mount a co-ordinated policy response to the economic downturn, particularly amid fears of a renewed slowdown.

The issue is likely to be high on the agenda at the upcoming G20 meeting in November in South Korea. China has resisted pressure from the US to allow the value of its currency, the yuan, to rise. Many countries in Asia, including the host, are reluctant to raise the issue for fear of antagonising China, a major trading partner. Switzerland also began selling Swiss francs on foreign exchanges last year to weaken its currency.

Brazilian finance minister Guido Mantega made his comments in a speech in Sao Paulo last night to Brazilian industrial leaders ahead of presidential elections on Sunday.

"We're in the midst of an international currency war, a general weakening of currency. This threatens us because it takes away our competitiveness," he said.

Brazil's economy is booming following economic reform and on the back of rising oil production. Foreign investors have flocked to the country because of high interest rates and new investment opportunities such as the $67bn (£42bn) share offering by state-controlled oil company Petrobras last week. According to investment bank Goldman Sachs, its currency, the real, is the most overvalued major currency in the world.

http://www.guardian.co.uk/business/2010/sep/28/world-in-international-currency-war-warns-brazil

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« Reply #1343 on: Sep 28th, 2010, 08:42am »

on Sep 28th, 2010, 08:31am, Luvey wrote:
Good morning Crystal..... grin I hope you have a wonderful day. smiley

Pen


Thank you and you have a good evening. Hopefully it will be sunny today. But not hot, Los Angeles is getting slammed by the heat.
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« Reply #1344 on: Sep 28th, 2010, 08:47am »

LA Times

L.A.'s hottest day ever
How hot was it? The National Weather Service's thermometer downtown reached 113 degrees for the first time since records began being kept in 1877 — and then stopped working. The record highs follow a summer of record lows.
By Bob Pool and Rong-Gong Lin II, Los Angeles Times

7:18 PM PDT, September 27, 2010

It was so hot Monday that it broke the all-time record — and the weatherman's thermometer.

The National Weather Service's thermometer for downtown Los Angeles headed into uncharted territory at 12:15 p.m. Monday, reaching 113 degrees for the first time since records began being kept in 1877.

Shortly after that banner moment, the temperature dipped back to 111, and then climbed back to 112. Then at 1 p.m., the thermometer stopped working.

The weather service office in Oxnard rushed an electronics technician 60 miles southeast to the USC campus to repair the thermometer, which is actually a highly sensitive wire connected to electronic equipment. Because of the snafu, officials said it's possible Monday's temperature actually was hotter than 113 — but they might never know.

For meteorologists who cover a region sometimes mocked for its lack of weather, the record was met with great excitement. They figured it would be hot, with the mercury hitting around 108 or 109, but they didn't quite expect that an all-time record would be topped.

Downtown L.A. was not the only place that set records. Long Beach tied an all-time record of 111. Other cities didn't break all-time records but registered new highs for the day. They include Burbank (110), Woodland Hills (111), Oxnard (100), El Cajon (109) and Indio (109).

It wasn't lost on weather aficionados that the record heat came after a summer of record low temperatures.

"Five days ago, we saw some of the lowest daytime temperatures we've seen in 50 years. And today was a once-in-a-century day," said Bill Patzert, a climatologist at NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory in La Cañada Flintridge. "So anybody that thinks Southern California doesn't have weather, we definitely have had a major exhibition by Mother Nature in the last five days."

You didn't have to tell that to folks in downtown Los Angeles. Those unlucky enough to venture outside during the noon hour were trying not to sweat over their moment in history.

"It's 113? I believe it. I feel it," said sidewalk sweeper Nathaniel Stewart as he pushed his broom along Los Angeles Street.

"I've never been this hot, and I've been here 32 years," said Stewart, who cleans walkways in a program operated by downtown Los Angeles' Chrysalis Enterprises. "I'm trying to stay in the shade as much as I can. But there isn't a lot of shade along here."

Farther down the street, Nick Szamet was sitting inside the Groundworks coffee house nursing a cup of coffee. Hot coffee.

"It's the 'Bitch's Brew,'" said Szamet, a Highland Park resident who works in the mayor's office at City Hall. "I always like my coffee hot."

Frank Chavez, a waiter who lives in Little Tokyo, interrupted a noontime errand to duck into a restaurant at the Japanese Village Plaza to ask for a cup of ice water. "They know it's hot. They were very polite," he said as he sipped the water.

A few steps away, Hwashik Bong and three friends crowded under a large umbrella as they hastily devoured ice cream cones.

"You have to eat it fast in weather like today," said Bong, a writer, as a mix of chocolate and vanilla dripped over his hand and onto the ground.

It was about 11 a.m. when the temperature hit 112 in downtown L.A., raising excitement at the Oxnard office that an all-time record would be broken. Scientists accelerated their checking of the USC weather station. They don't have a continuous feed of information and have to use a computer to dial into the station to check the temperature at a given time. So they began to check it every couple of minutes.

"Ever since we saw it start getting close to the record, when it hit 111 or 112, we said, 'We tied it. Let's see if we beat it,'" said NWS weather specialist Stuart Seto. "We were watching it, going from 111 to 112 to 113."

The previous all-time highest temperature in downtown L.A. was recorded on June 26, 1990.

But Monday's temperature at 12:15 p.m. in downtown L.A. still doesn't exceed the all-time record for all of Los Angeles County. On July 22, 2006, perennial hot spot Woodland Hills hit 119 degrees.

Monday's records culminate a heat wave than began Saturday. The heat was produced by a muscular ridge of high pressure that anchored itself over Southern California. Those conditions combined with weak offshore winds that grew hotter as they pushed from the desert toward the coast. As a result, it was hotter in places like downtown, West Hollywood and Santa Monica than in some typically broiling inland areas.

With no marine layer in sight, Santa Monica hit 103 at around noon. It was slightly cooler on the Orange County coast, with Huntington Beach registering a high of 92 and Newport Beach 87.

Conditions are expected cool slightly Tuesday.

With the heat came heightened fire danger. It was about 110 in Thousand Oaks, where firefighters battled a 25-acre brush fire off the 101 Freeway.

"At the time, it was so hot that waves of shimmering heat were rising from the freeway," said passerby Aleia Wolkins of Canoga Park, "The flames made it even hotter."

A smaller brush fire was quickly extinguished earlier in the day in Ladera Heights.

The heat put pressure on Southern California's power grid, with utilities urging the public to conserve. Southern California Edison reported 11,000 customers without power Monday evening in such cities as Santa Monica, West Hollywood, Diamond Bar, Alhambra, Glendora and Rosemead. The heat prompted Metro to reduce the speeds on some of its rail lines, causing some delays.

Throughout the Los Angeles area, those who could stayed inside air-conditioned buildings.

In the air-conditioned confines of L.A. County Superior Court downtown, a crisply suited Frank McCourt was keeping his cool on Day 10 of the trial between him and his estranged wife, Jamie. "I'm feeling very comfortable," said McCourt during a break in the proceedings.

Several dozen protesters at a downtown march for immigration reform had no choice but to be outdoors.

Victor Quintero, 23, sweat dripping from his head as he gathered with other activists in front of the Ronald Reagan State Building, took a swig from his water bottle and laughed.

"It's hot water!" he said. "It's boiling hot water."

Looking on was dress-shirt-clad Jim Root. "That's commitment," said Root, a lawyer who works in the attorney general's office.

In Costa Mesa, Kenneth Kaaumoana, 41, was among those standing in a 20-minute line at a recycling center, hoping to collect a few bucks recycling plastic and glass.

Kaaumoana, who recently moved here from Kauai, where the island's trade winds usually make the hottest days bearable, said the high temperatures Monday made gathering glass and plastic from trash dumpsters difficult.

"It's not a really a smart thing to do, I guess, but you gotta do what you gotta do," he said of his dumpster-diving.

http://www.latimes.com/news/local/la-me-hottest-ever-20100928,0,329968.story

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« Reply #1345 on: Sep 28th, 2010, 08:50am »

LA Times

The business behind the show
Labor dispute erupts over 'The Hobbit' [updated]
September 27, 2010 | 8:16 pm

All is not peaceful in the Shire.

Even before "The Hobbit" has begun production, a labor dispute has cast a cloud over the two-picture project, pitting producer Peter Jackson against various performer unions, including the Screen Actors Guild.

SAG has joined six other unions who represent performers in the UK, Canada and Australia, in advising their members to not work on this "non-union production."

In a jointly signed statement, the unions said producers of the film refused to negotiate a union contract for actors on the films, which are being readied to be shot in New Zealand. Warner Bros. and its New Line Cinema unit are producing the films that are co-owned with Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer. The studios are currently sorting out rights and financing issues in the hope of beginning production in the first quarter of next year so that the movies can be completed in time for a 2012 holiday release.

The boycott is being led by the International Federation of Actors on behalf of a group of actors in New Zealand seeking union contracts that would provide them with minimum wages and residual payments.

Jackson has fired back, accusing an actors group in New Zealand of making unreasonable demands that could force the production, the prequel story to the "Lord of the Rings" trilogy, to shut down or move to Europe, "endangering a project that hundreds of people have worked on over the last two years," he wrote in a statement. Presumably, if SAG stuck to its guns, that would prevent stars such as Ian McKellen and Cate Blanchett, who played Gandalf and Galadriel, respectively, in "Lord of the Rings," from working on "The Hobbit."

"I'm not anti-union the slightest," Jackson added.

Jackson blasted an Australian union that has been seeking to negotiate on behalf of the New Zealand actors, saying it had no legal standing in his country and was seeking to gain a foothold in New Zealand's production industry.

"It feels like we have a large Aussie cousin kicking sand in our eyes," he wrote.

[Update, 8:38 p.m.: New Line, Warner Bros. and MGM issued the following joint statement on the controversy:

New Line, Warner Bros. Pictures and Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer Pictures are concerned by the recent allegations of unfair treatment of actors in New Zealand and instructions from the performers’ guilds to their membership to withhold services from the producers of “The Hobbit” in New Zealand. We are proud to have good relations with all of those performers’ guilds and value their contribution to the motion pictures produced in their respective jurisdictions throughout the world. But we believe that in this case the allegations are baseless and unfair to Peter Jackson and his team in Wellington who have been tireless supporters of the New Zealand motion picture community.

To classify the production as "non-union" is inaccurate. The cast and crew are being engaged under collective bargaining agreements where applicable and we are mindful of the rights of those individuals pursuant to those agreements. And while we have previously worked with MEAA, an Australian union now seeking to represent actors in New Zealand, the fact remains that there cannot be any collective bargaining with MEAA on this New Zealand production, for to do so would expose the production to liability and sanctions under New Zealand law. This legal prohibition has been explained to MEAA. We are disappointed that MEAA has nonetheless continued to pursue this course of action.

Motion picture production requires the certainty that a production can reasonably proceed without disruption and it is our general policy to avoid filming in locations where there is potential for work force uncertainty or other forms of instability. As such, we are exploring all alternative options in order to protect our business interests.]

-- Richard Verrier


http://latimesblogs.latimes.com/entertainmentnewsbuzz/

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« Reply #1346 on: Sep 28th, 2010, 08:51am »

on Sep 28th, 2010, 08:42am, WingsofCrystal wrote:
Thank you and you have a good evening. Hopefully it will be sunny today. But not hot, Los Angeles is getting slammed by the heat.
Crystal


We are heading into summer here, so you must be heading into winter there.... It was pretty warm here today.... I am going to have to fish out my summer clothes... laugh
The weather patterns seem pretty messed up these days. When I went to the US in June I was hoping to see the Rhododendrons and Dogwood in bloom but missed them all because they bloomed earlier than usual. sad

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« Reply #1347 on: Sep 28th, 2010, 08:53am »

Science Daily

First Potentially Hazardous Asteroid Discovered by Pan-STARRS Telescope
ScienceDaily (Sep. 27, 2010) —

The Panoramic Survey Telescope & Rapid Response System (Pan-STARRS) PS1 telescope has discovered an asteroid that will come within 4 million miles of Earth in mid-October. The object is about 150 feet in diameter and was discovered in images acquired on September 16, when it was about 20 million miles away.

It is the first "potentially hazardous object" (PHO) to be discovered by the Pan-STARRS survey and has been given the designation "2010 ST3."

"Although this particular object won't hit Earth in the immediate future, its discovery shows that Pan-STARRS is now the most sensitive system dedicated to discovering potentially dangerous asteroids," said Robert Jedicke, a University of Hawaii member of the PS1 Scientific Consortium, who is working on the asteroid data from the telescope. "This object was discovered when it was too far away to be detected by other asteroid surveys," Jedicke noted.

The Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics is a major partner in the Consortium.

Most of the largest PHOs have already been catalogued, but scientists suspect that there are many more under a mile across that have not yet been discovered. These could cause devastation on a regional scale if they ever hit our planet. Such impacts are estimated to occur once every few thousand years.

Timothy Spahr, director of the Minor Planet Center (MPC), said, "I congratulate the Pan-STARRS project on this discovery. It is proof that the PS1 telescope, with its Gigapixel Camera and its sophisticated computerized system for detecting moving objects, is capable of finding potentially dangerous objects that no one else has found." The MPC, located in Cambridge, Mass., was established by the International Astronomical Union in 1947 to collect and disseminate positional measurements for asteroids and comets, to confirm their discoveries, and to give them preliminary designations.

Pan-STARRS expects to discover tens of thousands of new asteroids every year with sufficient precision to accurately calculate their orbits around the sun. Any sizable object that looks like it may come close to Earth within the next 50 years or so will be labeled "potentially hazardous" and carefully monitored. NASA experts believe that, given several years warning, it should be possible to organize a space mission to deflect any asteroid that is discovered to be on a collision course with Earth.

Pan-STARRS has broader goals as well. PS1 and its bigger brother, PS4, which will be operational later in this decade, are expected to discover a million or more asteroids in total, as well as more distant targets such as variable stars, supernovas, and mysterious bursts from galaxies across more than half the universe. PS1 became fully operational in June 2010.

The PS1 surveys have been made possible through contributions of the PS1 Science Consortium: the University of Hawaii Institute for Astronomy; the Pan-STARRS Project Office; the Max-Planck Society and its participating institutes, the Max Planck Institute for Astronomy, Heidelberg and the Max Planck Institute for Extraterrestrial Physics, Garching; the Johns Hopkins University; Durham University; the University of Edinburgh; the Queen's University Belfast; the Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics; the Las Cumbres Observatory Global Telescope Network, Inc.; and the National Central University of Taiwan. Construction funding for Pan-STARRS (short for Panoramic Survey Telescope & Rapid Response System) has been provided by the U.S. Air Force Research Laboratory.

Headquartered in Cambridge, Mass., the Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics (CfA) is a joint collaboration between the Smithsonian Astrophysical Observatory and the Harvard College Observatory. CfA scientists, organized into six research divisions, study the origin, evolution and ultimate fate of the universe.

http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2010/09/100927162340.htm

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« Reply #1348 on: Sep 28th, 2010, 08:58am »

on Sep 28th, 2010, 08:51am, Luvey wrote:
We are heading into summer here, so you must be heading into winter there.... It was pretty warm here today.... I am going to have to fish out my summer clothes... laugh
The weather patterns seem pretty messed up these days. When I went to the US in June I was hoping to see the Rhododendrons and Dogwood in bloom but missed them all because they bloomed earlier than usual. sad

Pen


I'm sorry you missed the blossoms. They have a lot of Rhododenron here. It was not a good year for the blackberry's this year. I think the rain in June just messed up their cycle. I walk by them every day on my walk. I kept waiting for them to really ripen but the poor things just didn't get there. It's the first year that's happened.
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« Reply #1349 on: Sep 28th, 2010, 09:04am »

Wired

Unpublished Iraq War Logs Trigger Internal WikiLeaks Revolt
By Kevin Poulsen and Kim Zetter September 27, 2010 | 9:07 pm | Categories: Bradley Manning, Wikileaks

A domino chain of resignations at the secret-spilling site WikiLeaks followed a unilateral decision by autocratic founder Julian Assange to schedule an October release of 392,000 classified U.S. documents from the war in Iraq, according to former WikiLeaks staffers.

Key members of WikiLeaks were angered to learn last month that Assange had secretly provided media outlets with embargoed access to the vast database, under an arrangement similar to the one WikiLeaks made with three newspapers that released documents from the Afghanistan war in July. WikiLeaks is set to release the Iraq trove on Oct. 18, according to ex-staffers — far too early, in the view of some of them, to properly redact the names of U.S. collaborators and informants in Iraq.

‘I am the heart and soul of this organization, its founder, philosopher, spokesperson, original coder, organizer, financier and all the rest. If you have a problem with me, piss off.’“The release date which was established was completely unrealistic,” says 25-year-old Herbert Snorrason, an Icelandic university student who until recently helped manage WikiLeaks’ secure chat room. “We found out that the level of redactions performed on the Afghanistan documents was not sufficient. I announced that if the next batch did not receive full attention, I would not be willing to cooperate.”

Assange did not respond to e-mail queries from Wired.com.

At least half a dozen WikiLeaks staffers have tendered their resignations in recent weeks, the most prominent of them being Daniel Domscheit-Berg, who, under the name Daniel Schmitt, served as WikiLeaks’ German spokesman.

Domscheit-Berg learned about Assange’s agreements with a number of media outlets last month, but did not know the details or when the documents were scheduled to be released. When he quizzed Assange in an online chat, Assange responded by accusing Domscheit-Berg of leaking information about discontent within WikiLeaks to a columnist for Newsweek.

A purported transcript of the chat provided to Wired.com by a WikiLeaks insider shows the conversation grew heated.

“You are not anyone’s king or god,” wrote Domscheit-Berg in the chat. “And you’re not even fulfilling your role as a leader right now. A leader communicates and cultivates trust in himself. You are doing the exact opposite. You behave like some kind of emperor or slave trader.”

“You are suspended for one month, effective immediately,” Assange shot back. “If you wish to appeal, you will be heard on Tuesday.”

Domscheit-Berg did not provide the transcript to Wired.com, but confirmed the substance of the chat in an interview with Wired.com. The promised “appeal” was never heard, and Domscheit-Berg’s suspension was followed by his resignation last Saturday.

“Julian is a really brilliant person and he has a lot of very, very special talents,” Domscheit-Berg says. “We’ve always [thrived by] a diversity of qualities that different people bring in…. That works as long as you’re working in a team. But whenever you lose that spirit, then one of the qualities just becomes too dominant in some ways — such as taking solitary decisions and thinking that you’re in a position to do that.”

Domscheit-Berg announced his resignation in an interview with Der Spiegel. By then, a key WikiLeaks programmer had resigned as well, sources say. The coder was responsible for building the software tool WikiLeaks’ volunteers were using to perform a painstaking, line-by-line harm-minimization review of the Iraq logs.

Then Snorrason, the Icelandic university student, resigned after he challenged Assange on his decision to suspend Domscheit-Berg and was bluntly rebuked.

more after the jump
http://www.wired.com/threatlevel/2010/09/wikileaks-revolt/

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