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 veryhotthread  Author  Topic: Stuff & Nonsense  (Read 25528 times)
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« Reply #1395 on: Oct 2nd, 2010, 07:53am »

Science Daily

ScienceDaily (Oct. 1, 2010) — The unusual "knot" in the bright, narrow ribbon of neutral atoms emanating in from the boundary between our solar system and interstellar space appears to have "untied," according to a paper published online in the Journal of Geophysical Research.

Researchers believe the ribbon, first revealed in maps produced by NASA's Interstellar Boundary Explorer (IBEX) spacecraft, forms in response to interactions between interstellar space and the heliosphere, the protective bubble in which the Earth and other planets reside. Sensitive neutral atom detectors aboard IBEX produce global maps of this region every six months.

Analyses of the first map, released last fall, suggest the ribbon is somehow ordered by the direction of the local interstellar magnetic field outside the heliosphere, influencing the structure of the heliosphere more than researchers had previously believed. The knot feature seen in the northern portion of the ribbon in the first map stood apart from the rest of the ribbon as the brightest feature at higher energies.

While the second map, released publicly with the just-published paper, shows the large-scale structure of the ribbon to be generally stable within the six-month period, changes are also apparent. The polar regions of the ribbon display lower emissions and the knot diminishes by as much as a third and appears to "untie" as it spreads out to both lower and higher latitudes.

"What we're seeing is the knot pull apart as it spreads across a region of the ribbon," says Dr. David J. McComas, IBEX principal investigator and an assistant vice president at Southwest Research Institute in San Antonio. "To this day the science team can't agree on exactly what causes the knot or the ribbon, but by comparing different sky maps we find the surprising result that the region is changing over relatively short time periods. Now we have to figure out why."

As the IBEX spacecraft gathers a wealth of new information about the dynamic interactions at the edge of the solar system -- the region of space that shields our solar system from the majority of galactic cosmic ray radiation -- the IBEX team continues to study numerous theories about the source of the ribbon and its unusual features

images after the jump
http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2010/09/100930121000.htm

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« Reply #1396 on: Oct 2nd, 2010, 07:57am »

Wired Danger Room

Exclusive: Blackwater Wins Piece of $10 Billion Mercenary Deal
By Spencer Ackerman October 1, 2010 |

Never mind the dead civilians. Forget about the stolen guns. Get over the murder arrests, the fraud allegations, and the accusations of guards pumping themselves up with steroids and cocaine. Through a “joint venture,” the notorious private-security firm Blackwater has won a piece of a five-year State Department contract worth up to $10 billion, Danger Room has learned.

Apparently, there is no misdeed so big that it can keep guns-for-hire from working for the government. And this is despite a 2008 campaign pledge from Secretary of State Hillary Clinton to ban the company from federal contracts.

Eight private security firms have won State’s giant Worldwide Protective Services contract, the big Foggy Bottom partnership to keep embassies and their inhabitants safe. Two of those firms are longtime State contract holders DynCorp and Triple Canopy. The others are newcomers to the big security contract: EOD Technology, SOC, Aegis Defense Services, Global Strategies Group, Torres International Services and International Development Solutions LLC.

Don’t see any of Blackwater’s myriad business names on there? That’s apparently by design.

Blackwater and the State Department tried their best to obscure their renewed relationship. As Danger Room reported Wednesday, Blackwater did not appear on the vendors’ list for Worldwide Protective Services. And the State Department confirms that the company, renamed Xe Services, didn’t actually submit its own independent bid.

Instead, they used a blandly named cut-out, “International Development Solutions,” to retain a toehold into State’s lucrative security business. No one who looks at the official announcement of the contract award would have any idea that firm is connected to Blackwater.

Blackwater’s “affiliate U.S. Training Center is part of International Development Solutions (IDS), a joint venture with Kaseman,” according to an official State Department statement to Danger Room. “This joint venture was determined by the Department’s source-selection authority to be eligible for award.”

Last year, a Blackwater subdivision, the Blackwater Lodge and Training Center, changed its name to U.S. Training Center. Senate Armed Services Committee chairman Carl Levin (D-Michigan) blasted Blackwater in February for setting up shell companies in order to keep winning government security contracts despite its infamy.

According to State’s statement, the contracting process for the new Worldwide Protective Services deal included a “review” to ensure that companies met “minimum criteria” for eligibility. “This review included a process to determine whether any offerors had been suspended or debarred from the award of federal contracts,” it said. Despite Blackwater guards killing 17 Iraqi civilians in Baghdad’s Nisour Square in 2007, killing two Afghan civilians on a Kabul road in 2009, and absconding with hundreds of unauthorized guns from a U.S. military weapons depot in Afghanistan using the name of a South Park character, federal contracting authorities have never suspended or debarred Blackwater.

It’s not yet clear what the U.S. Training Center–International Development Solutions–Kaseman “joint venture” will do for the State Department. Worldwide Protective Services is actually a bundle of contracts in one, each governing specific duties for a firm to handle in a given country. Only two of those component contracts have been awarded so far.

One of them is to guard the huge U.S. embassy in Baghdad. That’s gone to SOC, which has ousted Triple Canopy, the incumbent security provider (which will still be part of the overall Worldwide Protective Services deal). If SOC remains the contract holder in Baghdad for the full five years — there’s an annual review — it stands to make nearly $974 million.

But because that so-called “task order” is specifically for on-site security around the gates of the Baghdad embassy, it’s not clear if SOC will also provide the 6,000 to 7,000 security guards the State Department estimates it needs to protect diplomats on the move around Iraq or its other outposts around the country. Last year, the Iraqi government barred Blackwater from doing business in Iraq in response to Nisour Square. But it’s not clear whether this new “joint venture” is eligible to operate in Iraq.

The other task order issued under Worldwide Protective Services is to protect the U.S. Embassy in Kabul. That contract’s gone to EOD Technology, a global firm which has in the past guarded the British and Canadian embassies in the Afghan capital. And that means ArmorGroup North America — last seen with its guards taking tequila shots out of each others’ butts and engaging in extracurricular sex trafficking — has lost a contract worth nearly $274 million over five years.

According to a different statement from the Department of State, the new Worldwide Protective Services contract comes with new safeguards to prevent abuse. Those include mandatory cultural awareness training, the addition of interpreters on all protection missions, financial penalties for poor performance, and a formal ban on alcohol. (Yes — after years of alcohol-related contractor incidents.) Despite these new protections, the department still sees fit to continue business with the most infamous member of the private-security world.


http://www.wired.com/dangerroom/2010/10/exclusive-blackwater-wins-piece-of-10-billion-merc-deal/

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« Reply #1397 on: Oct 2nd, 2010, 1:42pm »

CBC News

UFOs in Montreal? Strange sights reported

Doctor among witnesses to 'not of this world' light show


Last Updated: Thursday, September 30, 2010 | 2:10 PM ET

'You had this visceral sense looking at it that this is a once-in-a-lifetime thing.'—Cleve Ziegler, Montreal doctor


A mysterious object in the sky over Montreal this week is getting a lot of attention, including from a respected Montreal doctor who believes he saw something "out of this world."
Several people in the Côte St. Luc neighbourhood called police early Wednesday morning about UFOs or strange blinking lights hovering high in the sky.

Dr. Cleve Ziegler, an obstetrician-gynecologist, spotted the object when he was driving home from work around 12:30 a.m. He couldn't believe his eyes.

"There were many little sparkly red and blue lights. It had a changing shape, morphing from something that looked triangular to something that looked like a trapezoid. It was not a stable shape," Ziegler told CBC News.

"It was coming closer and [then moved] farther, it was turning and rotating."

He then saw other people looking up at the same thing, including a man who told him his wife was so spooked that she scurried home.

"I'm a guy who spends a lot of time in the country in the summer. I have seen satellites. I've seen falling stars. I know what a plane looks like. None of those things had the trajectory or motion that this did," said Ziegler.

Ziegler called police, who had already received several other calls about the mysterious object in the sky. He forwarded a dark, poor-quality video he took on his cellphone to authorities.

He admits the video doesn't do justice to what he saw.
"What I saw was compelling, unusual and you had this visceral sense looking at it that this is a once-in-a lifetime thing," he said. "At a risk of sounding Hollywood and shlocky, it was kinda not of this world."

Object likely man-made: astronomer

Theories about what was in the sky Wednesday night have already started circulating among astronomy buffs and experts.

Andrew Fazekas, a director at the Royal Astronomical Society of Canada, said the object was likely of this world.

"From the description, definitely I would say it is not something astronomical. It's not a satellite. And it's not a star or anything like that," said Fazekas.

"It could have been some sort of balloon.… Strobe lights on a private craft? A powerful laser?"

Fazekas said the sightings are getting a lot of attention.

"It is starting to make the rounds and getting viral because people are naturally interested in unidentified things in the sky. People are drawn to it," said Fazekas.

Police close brief investigation

Montreal police received several calls about a mysterious object in the sky after midnight Wednesday morning.
Const. Daniel Lacoursière said Trudeau Airport reported nothing on the radar in that area at the time.

He posed another theory. Around the same time, helicopters were buzzing around the site of a fuel spill at the Port of Montreal in the other end of town.

Ziegler said he doesn't believe in extraterrestrial life, but thinks he did see something otherworldly.

"It's not like I want to believe this," he said.


Read more: http://www.cbc.ca/technology/story/2010/09/30/mystery-ufo-sighting-montreal.html#ixzz11DWA5voP
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« Reply #1398 on: Oct 2nd, 2010, 4:51pm »

Hey Swamprat!
And 279 comments in the comment section. Thank you for that article.
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« Reply #1399 on: Oct 2nd, 2010, 7:08pm »





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« Reply #1400 on: Oct 2nd, 2010, 7:09pm »




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« Reply #1401 on: Oct 3rd, 2010, 08:20am »

New York Times

October 2, 2010
For Female Marines, Tea Comes With Bullets
By ELISABETH BUMILLER

MARJA, Afghanistan — They expected tea, not firefights.

But the three female Marines and their patrol were shot at late on a recent day, when a burst of Kalashnikov rifle fire came from a nearby compound. The group hit the ground, crawled into a ditch and aimed its guns across the fields of cotton and corn.

In their sights they could see the source of the blast: an Afghan man who had shot aimlessly from behind a mud wall, shielded by a half-dozen children. The women held their fire with the rest of the patrol so as not to hit a child, waited for the all-clear, then headed back to the base, survivors of yet another encounter with the enemy.

“You still get that same feeling, like, ‘Oh, my gosh, I’m getting shot at,’ ” said Lance Cpl. Stephanie Robertson, 20, speaking of the firefights that have become part of her life in Marja. “But you know what to do. You’re not, like, comfortable, because you’re just — ” She stopped, searching for how to describe her response to experiences that for many would be terrifying. “It’s like muscle memory.”

Six months ago, Lance Corporal Robertson arrived in Afghanistan with 39 other female Marines from Camp Pendleton, Calif., as part of an unusual experiment of the American military: sending full-time “female engagement teams” out with all-male infantry patrols in Helmand Province to try to win over the rural Afghan women who are culturally off limits to outside men.

As new faces in an American counterinsurgency campaign, the female Marines, who volunteered for the job, were to meet with Pashtun women over tea in their homes, assess their need for aid, gather intelligence, and help open schools and clinics.

They have done that and more, and as their seven-month deployment in southern Afghanistan nears an end their “tea as a weapon” mission has been judged a success. But the Marines, who have been closer to combat than most other women in the war, have also had to use real weapons in a tougher fight than many expected.

Here in Marja — which, seven months after a major offensive against the Taliban, is improving but remains one of the most dangerous places in Afghanistan — the female Marines have daily skirted the Pentagon rules restricting women in combat. They have shot back in firefights and ambushes, been hit by homemade bombs and lived on bases hit by mortar attacks.

None of the 40 women have been killed or seriously injured, and a number have worked in stable areas where the shooting has stopped, but many have seen good friends die.

One of the women, Cpl. Anica Coate, 22, was on patrol in early September in southern Marja five feet behind Lance Cpl. Ross S. Carver, 21, when he was shot through the mouth and killed by an insurgent sniper. Corporal Coate was the first to reach him, but she could not stop the bleeding. A week later, at a memorial service in Marja for her friend and two other Marines killed around the same time, she said she would not volunteer for the female engagement teams again.

“It’s not the living conditions, it’s not the mission, it’s this,” she said, gesturing toward a memorial display of boots, rifles and dog tags belonging to the dead Marines. She was, she said quietly, “too much of a girl to deal with these guys getting killed.”

There have been many other strains as well, not least some male officers who question the female Marines’ purpose and young infantrymen who remain resentful of the attention from commanders and the news media that the women have received. Stress, rough conditions and patrols in 100-plus-degree heat have caused almost all of the female Marines, like their male counterparts, to lose weight in Afghanistan, some nearly 20 pounds. A number of the women have seen their marriages end or their boyfriends leave them.

“It was starting ahead of time, but this definitely didn’t help the marriage,” said Lance Cpl. Sorina Langer, 21, who was divorced during her deployment in one of the most dangerous areas of Marja. “He saw it as walking out.”

For Capt. Emily Naslund, 27, the women’s commander, the sacrifices and the frustrations have been worth it. As a graduate of the Virginia Military Institute and a state champion runner in high school, she is the kind of alpha female, athletic and competitive, who seeks out the Marine Corps as the ultimate proving ground. But she readily says that she has relied on daily prayers — she is the daughter of a Minnesota stockbroker and a flight attendant who went to church every Sunday — and faith in God to get her through. Out on foot patrols, she said, “my life’s in his hands.”

She offered no assessment of the long, grinding war, other than to call it “slow,” and to say she tried not to pay attention to critics of the war at home. She was enthusiastic, though, about her small piece within the war. “This is going to be the highlight of my life,” she said.

As she explained it, “You’ve got 19- and 20-year-olds walking around in the world’s most dangerous place, knowing what could happen to them, and they’re willing to do that anyway, and they’re willing to do that with passion.”

All in a Day’s Work

The September night was unusually cold when Captain Naslund’s alarm rang through the stillness. “It’s 3:15, guys,” she said softly to Lance Corporal Robertson and Cpl. Christina Oliver, 25.

None had slept well. They had traveled from a larger combat outpost with only their summer sleeping bags, and the unexpected chill — they were outdoors on cots in a mud-walled compound serving as a small patrol base — had kept them shivering for much of the night.

They were apprehensive about the day’s mission, a clearing operation in the village of Sistani, a Taliban haven on the far western edge of Marja that the Marines had not been to before. Units from Company F, Second Battalion, Sixth Marines, along with Afghan Army troops, were to spend the day securing a polling site and searching every compound in the village ahead of parliamentary elections. The female Marines were to follow close behind to talk to Afghan women. Capt. Manuel Zepeda, the Company F commander, expected the group at some point to take fire.

“They know pretty much nothing about these compounds and the people that live in them,” Captain Naslund had told Corporal Oliver and Lance Corporal Robertson as she briefed them before the mission.

It was critical, she said, to get a sense from the men as well as the women of Sistani of “where they sit, who do they support, how are they seeing the elections, how do they see Marja in general?” To the surprise of some commanders, the female Marines have sometimes connected more readily with Afghan men than have male Marines. Capt. Brandon Turner, the commander of G Company in southern Marja, said, “You put a lady in front of them, they’ll start blabbing at the mouth.”

Captain Naslund and the two others headed out at dawn behind another unit, wading through one of the irrigation canals that have helped make this 75-square-mile farming district the heart of Afghan opium poppy production. With Afghan Army troops in the lead to ask villagers if the Marines could search their buildings — the units were under orders not to kick down doors — the morning stayed quiet.

By midafternoon, the female Marines had searched one terrified woman in a baby-blue burqa on the back of her husband’s motorcycle and had talked, through their Afghan-American female interpreter, to more than a dozen other Pashtun women. Some of them were frightened and refused to give their names — “I’d be nervous, too, if I had five chicks in my living room with weapons,” Captain Naslund said after one meeting, referring to her team. But other Afghan women were friendly, if wary.

Inside compounds crowded with children, cows and goats, the Marines had removed their helmets but left on their body armor and kept their M4 rifles nearby. They mixed in simple questions about the ages of a woman’s children with a more pointed one: what does your husband do for a living?

Most of the women said their husbands were farmers out working the fields. But the Marines suspected that some, either insurgents or their supporters, had slipped away when news had gotten out that the Americans were in town. When one woman said her husband was in Kandahar, the spiritual home of the Taliban, Captain Naslund replied, “Oh, we’d love to meet him.”

The Marines were heading back to the patrol base in the late afternoon when the Kalashnikov rifle shots rang out, sending the patrol scattering for cover. “They just shoot and run, that’s all that was,” Lance Corporal Robertson said dismissively afterward.

But the next day when she and the others were back in Sistani, an Afghan man served them tea, asked for a new pump for his well and told them, “If the Taliban find out we’re taking care of you, they’ll cut our throats.”

His words seemed an ominous warning: on the way back to the base, word came over the radio of a potential Taliban ambush. On edge, the female Marines avoided the area, walking through a pungent field of five-foot-tall marijuana plants instead.

By the afternoon they were meeting with Marine commanders and village men outside the local mosque, where Captain Zepeda introduced them: “We realize there are needs within the community that also involve women, so we have brought some women here.” The meeting ended two hours later when the closing prayer of the mullah mixed in with the bleats of nearby goats and the unmistakable buzz of American surveillance drones overhead.

more after the jump
http://www.nytimes.com/2010/10/03/world/asia/03marines.html?_r=1&hp

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« Reply #1402 on: Oct 3rd, 2010, 08:24am »

New York Times

October 2, 2010
A Code for Chaos
By JOHN MARKOFF

IN June, a Belarus-based computer security firm identified a new computer malware program, Stuxnet, which was repeatedly crashing the computers of one of its clients. Then, last month, a German security researcher suggested that the program’s real target might be the Iranian nuclear program — and that clues in the coding suggested that Israel was the creator. Since then, there has been growing alarm about the worm, as its target and sophistication have become more apparent. The code has appeared in many countries, notably China, India, Indonesia and Iran. It appears designed to attack a certain type of Siemens industrial control computer, used widely to manage oil pipelines, electrical power grids and many kinds of nuclear plants. The question is: Just how dangerous has this worm and cyberwarfare become?

How widespread is cyberwarfare?

A 2007 F.B.I. report asserted that 108 countries had at least some offensive cyberwarfare capabilities. And there has been widespread speculation that a secret cyberwar “arms race” is under way as a number of countries build sophisticated software and hardware attack capabilities. Most recent wars and military engagements, like Russia’s quarrel with Estonia in 2007 or with Georgia in 2008, have been accompanied by a “cyberwar” engagement, in which government and financial Web sites have been targeted.

What was the earliest case of cyberwarfare?

In his book “At the Abyss,” Thomas C. Reed, a former secretary of the Air Force, described a software program known as a Trojan horse, in which industrial control software was covertly added by the United States to equipment being shipped to the Soviet Union from Canada. When the equipment was installed in a trans-Siberian gas pipeline in June 1982, it suddenly went haywire, touching off a huge explosion and fire, according to Mr. Reed.

Another episode in January 1990, the collapse of AT&T’s long-distance network, also raised suspicions of sabotage.

But security experts have been concerned about potential cyberattacks since the 1970s, during the early days of the Arpanet, an experimental, military-financed research network that was the predecessor to the Internet. There was great concern about a network connection — a now old-fashioned 9600 baud modem — that had been installed by scientific researchers linking Moscow and the United States, via a mathematics research center in Vienna. When national security officials discovered the link, financing to the center was canceled.

How is Stuxnet different?

Stuxnet is the first widely analyzed malware program that is intended to jump from Windows-based computers to a specialized system used for controlling industrial equipment, like electric power grids, manufacturing plants, gas pipelines, dams and power plants. Previously, most high-profile cyberattacks have focused on Web sites and corporate or military networks.

At least, that’s true when it comes to proven cyberattacks. But there has also been speculation about episodes that could have been caused by sabotage. For example, The Los Angeles Times reported in 2001 that intrusions into the network that controlled the electrical grid were traced to someone in Guangdong Province, China. Later reports of other electric grid attacks have often included allegations that the break-ins were orchestrated by the Chinese, although no proof has been produced.

In the case of Stuxnet, what are arguments for and against Israel’s involvement?

Ralph Langner, a German security researcher, was the first to point out that it appeared that the Stuxnet program had been tailored to attack a nuclear facility or a uranium enrichment plant. And several hints in the code suggest Israeli authorship, including a possible allusion to the Book of Esther, which describes Jewish retaliation against a Persian threat, and a number — 19790509 — that appears to refer to the date of the execution of an Iranian Jew by a firing squad in Tehran.

But many military and intelligence analysts, including several with direct knowledge of Israeli intelligence operations, have said it is unlikely that either an Israeli or United States operation would leave such blatant clues. That leaves the possibility that someone wanted to plant evidence pointing incorrectly to Israeli involvement. Most computer security specialists say the authorship of the program may never be discovered.

What kind of attack do computer security experts fear most?

There has been widespread fear about attacks that jam or damage large financial networks, the electric power grid, power plants, transportation systems or any of the modern infrastructure underlying industrial economies.

In many cases, the first step in securing these systems has been to insure that they are entirely separated from the Internet. However, even if they are separated from the Internet, in many cases they use internal networks based on the Internet protocol, as well as common computing equipment, like Microsoft and Intel-based computers. That means they remain potentially vulnerable to a “sneakernet” attack, in which a malicious program is physically carried into an isolated network either accidentally or by an intruder.

Can this kind of attack be done by a lone hacker?

In the case of Stuxnet, computer security specialists generally agree that it was not the work of one person but rather a team of sophisticated programmers. Many who have examined the malicious code have stated that it would have required an organization with substantial financial resources to develop, test and then release such a program. Certainly nations with cyberwar capabilities are potential suspects, but they are not the only possible creators. China, Israel and the Palestinians are all known to have irregular cyberarmies of motivated hackers with significant skills.

http://www.nytimes.com/2010/10/03/weekinreview/03markoff.html?ref=world

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« Reply #1403 on: Oct 3rd, 2010, 08:26am »

New York Times

October 2, 2010
U.S. Issues Terrorism Alert for Travel to Europe
By SCOTT SHANE

The State Department issued an alert on Sunday urging Americans traveling to Europe to be vigilant about possible terrorist attacks in a statement that specifically cites the potential involvement of Al Qaida.

The decision to caution travelers comes as counterterrorism officials in Europe and the United States are assessing intelligence about possible plots originating in Pakistan and North Africa aimed at Britain, France and Germany.

A travel alert merely urges extra caution during a specific time and does not discourage Americans from visiting Europe. An American official who confirmed the warning on Saturday, who did not want to be identified speaking about internal government deliberations, said a stronger “travel warning” that might advise Americans not to visit Europe was not under consideration.

European officials have been concerned about the impact on tourism and student travel from any official guidance to American travelers.

"Current information suggests that Al Qaida and affiliated organizations continue to plan terrorist attacks. European governments have taken action to guard against a terrorist attack," according to the statement.

"U.S. citizens are reminded of the potential for terrorists to attack public transportation systems and other tourist infrastructure," the State Department said. "Terrorists have targeted and attacked subway and rail systems, as well as aviation and maritime services."

American intelligence officials said last week that they were pursuing reports of possible attacks against European cities, including information from a German citizen of Afghan origin captured in Afghanistan in July. The German, said to be named Ahmed Sidiqi, 36, from Hamburg, had traveled to the Waziristan region of Pakistan and received firearms and explosives training, a senior European official told The New York Times.

Mr. Sidiqi described plans for attacks by small armed groups in European cities, the official said. Other officials have said such attacks might be modeled on the 2008 assault in Mumbai. Those attacks, attributed to a radical Islamic group based in Pakistan, killed at least 173 people.

In August, the State Department renewed a “worldwide alert,” saying officials remained “concerned about the continued threat of terrorist attacks” against Americans overseas. Any new alert would presumably be more narrowly focused.

http://www.nytimes.com/2010/10/03/world/europe/03security.html?ref=world

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« Reply #1404 on: Oct 3rd, 2010, 08:28am »

New York Times

October 2, 2010
Iran Says It Arrested Computer Worm Suspects
By WILLIAM YONG

TEHRAN — Iran has arrested an unspecified number of “nuclear spies” in connection with a damaging worm that has infected computers in its nuclear program, the intelligence minister, Heydar Moslehi, said Saturday.

Mr. Moslehi also told the semiofficial Mehr news agency that the ministry had achieved “complete mastery” over government computer systems and was able to counter any cyberattacks by “enemy spy services.”

Iran confirmed last week that the Stuxnet worm, a malicious self-replicating program that attacks computers that control industrial plants, had infected computers in its nuclear operations. Officials said it had been found in personal computers at the Bushehr nuclear plant, a power generator that is not believed to be part of a weapons program, and that it had not caused “serious damage” to government systems.

While the origins of the worm remain obscure, many computer security experts believe it was created by a government with the intent of sabotaging Iran’s nuclear program, which Western countries believe is aimed at creating a nuclear weapon. The United States and Israel have cyberwarfare programs and both countries have sought to undermine Iran’s nuclear enrichment program, but neither has commented on the Stuxnet worm.

Iran has portrayed the worm as a cyberattack by Western powers and Israel intended to derail the country’s nuclear program, which the government says is for peaceful purposes.

“All of the destructive activities perpetrated by the oppressors in cyberspace will be discovered quickly and means of combating these plans will be implemented,” Mr. Moslehi said. “The intelligence Ministry is aware of a range of activities being carried out against the Islamic Republic by enemy spy services.”

He provided no further details on the arrests, which could not be independently verified.

Hamid Alipour, an official at the state-run Iran Information Technology company, has said that the worm is spreading. “This is not a stable virus,” he said last week. “By the time we started to combat it three new variants had been distributed.” He said his company hoped to eliminate it within “one to two months.”

http://www.nytimes.com/2010/10/03/world/middleeast/03iran.html?ref=world

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« Reply #1405 on: Oct 3rd, 2010, 08:30am »

LA Times

High levels of cancer-causing chemicals recorded since BP spill
The pollutants were measured off the Louisiana coast by an Oregon State University team.
By Bettina Boxall, Los Angeles Times

4:15 PM PDT, October 2, 2010

Levels of some cancer-causing oil compounds rose significantly in the waters off the Louisiana coast during the BP spill in the Gulf of Mexico, according to Oregon State University researchers.

"It's an incredibly huge jump in concentration in a natural environment," said Kim Anderson, an OSU environmental toxicology professor, who found a 40-fold increase in polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons, or PAHs, from May to June.

Anderson is still analyzing the results and was not prepared to say what, if any, threat the elevated levels posed to the gulf environment. "It's a huge increase that folks that deal with the more biologic side of it will have to address."

Anderson and her research team started testing for the contaminants a few weeks after the April 20 well blowout, taking water samples at four near-shore locations along the Gulf Coast. Results from early August, after the BP well was capped and stopped leaking, continued to show elevated levels in the water.

The amount of such hydrocarbons in crude oil varies, as does the toxicity of the compounds, which constitute a large class of chemicals. Some are not toxic at all, and some are carcinogenic, Anderson said. Her gulf samples included all three types.

Her team is using a sampling technique that involves suspension of a long, thin strip in the water for three to four weeks. The device mimics an organism and measures biologically available concentrations of PAHs that can be absorbed by marine life and make their way into the food chain.

Lisa Faust, communications director for the Louisiana Department of Health and Hospitals, said her agency did not have enough information on the Oregon research to comment. But she added that state testing of seafood harvest areas had not detected harmful levels of the pollutant.

"In all our samples of water we tested, at the most there were trace levels of PAHs — and nothing at the level that poses risks to human health," Faust said.

The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration continues to reopen federal waters in the gulf to commercial fishing. Last week Rear Adm. Paul Zukunft, who is taking over management of the federal spill response, said the government's extensive testing of gulf seafood has had "no detects whatsoever of any" PAHs.

In an e-mail, a spokeswoman for the federal Environmental Protection Agency said the agency had "analyzed more than 1,600 water and sediment samples alone" as part of its response to the BP spill "and found very few samples with chemicals at levels above concerns to aquatic life and no samples with chemicals at levels of concern to human health."


http://www.latimes.com/news/nationworld/nation/la-na-oil-spill-chemicals-20101003,0,2383446.story

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« Reply #1406 on: Oct 3rd, 2010, 08:38am »

LA Times

John Lennon at 70? We can only imagine….
For fans of the ex-Beatle, there are myriad events coming to mark that significant birthdate Oct. 9 as well as the 30th anniversary of his death on Dec. 8.
By Randy Lewis, Los Angeles Times

October 3, 2010

Fourteen years after Pete Townshend dismissed the very idea of growing up when he wrote "Hope I die before I get old," a 40-year-old John Lennon sang a very different tune.

"I can hardly wait to see you come of age," he sang in 1980 to his then-5-year-old son, Sean, unabashedly anticipating the future. And to his wife, Yoko Ono, he borrowed a sentiment from poet Robert Browning and crooned "Grow old with me / The best is yet to be … whatever fate decrees, we will see it through."

Fate, however, had something other than old age in store for Lennon, who died at the hands of a crazed fan just a few months after recording those songs and many others that signaled the start of a new chapter in the ex-Beatle's life.

"It's hard to believe he would be 70," Lennon's friend Elton John said last week. "It's hard to believe he missed out on the computer, on Twitter. I wonder what he would have made of it all? I have a feeling he would have grabbed and run with it. John Lennon, who gave so much; he would still be at the forefront."

Three decades after his death, in some respects he is. The approach of what would have been Lennon's 70th birthday on Oct. 9 brings with it a raft of special commemorations, recordings, films, books and live performances that indicate Lennon's hold on the world's imagination is as strong as ever.

"He, more than so many artists, truly just bared his soul," said Robert Santelli, executive director of the downtown Grammy Museum, which on Monday opens an exhibit, "John Lennon, Songwriter," focusing on his musical legacy. "He shared his demons, his weaknesses, his joys.... As a songwriter, he looked into the mirror and what he saw, he put in his songs. That takes courage."

EMI and Capitol Records will give Lennon's post-Beatles solo catalog a major sonic upgrade with remastered versions of all his albums, which are being released Tuesday individually and in an 11-CD "John Lennon Signature Box" full of extras and bonus tracks. The label also is putting out a new double CD/DVD greatest-hits set ("Power to the People: The Hits") and a four-CD box set ("Gimme Some Truth") that samples a broader cross section of his solo career, broken down into four themed discs.

PBS makes Lennon an honorary American by including him in its "American Masters" series by way of a new two-hour documentary, "LennoNYC,", slated to air Nov. 22 and focusing on his and Ono's years living in New York. The Grammy Museum hosts an advance screening Monday.

The American Cinematheque is wrapping up a full weekend of Lennon-related films including the Los Angeles premiere of "Nowhere Boy,", director Sam Taylor Wood's exploration of Lennon's pre-Beatles days in Liverpool as a member of the Quarrymen, whose surviving members were scheduled to be on hand with Wood and actor Aaron Johnson.

Various cities are hosting birthday vigils and celebrations, including a gathering Saturday at noon in Hollywood outside Capitol Records at Lennon's star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame. His first wife, Cynthia, and their son, Julian, will unveil a peace monument in his hometown of Liverpool on Saturday. Ono will spend that day in Reykjavik, Iceland, performing with the Plastic Ono Band at a peace concert, lighting the Imagine Peace Tower in his memory and burying a time capsule to be opened on the 100th anniversary of Lennon's birth in 2040. Countless Beatles tribute bands will focus on Lennon's music, locally including the Fab Four's show Saturday at Club Nokia.

Former Capitol Records executive Jon Polk has crafted "The John Lennon Box of Vision", akin to " The Beatles Box of Vision" he put together last year, packaging all the original 12-inch-by-12-inch album cover artwork with extensive liner notes and other extras.

A new book documenting his final recording sessions through interviews with most of the participants is due for publication this month, author-musician Ken Sharp's "Starting Over: The Making of John Lennon and Yoko Ono's 'Double Fantasy'" (Simon and Schuster, $26.99). It underscores the weeks leading to his death as an intensely happy time for Lennon, after the five years in which he largely cut himself off from the entertainment world to focus on raising Sean.

At the center of it all is Ono, who has spent a good chunk of the last 30 years deciding how best to honor her husband's memory and legacy in contemporary pop culture. That's encompassed allowing other musicians to record his songs as part of humanitarian recording projects, adding her approval to Beatles-related ventures such as Cirque du Soleil's Las Vegas show "Love" and the use of Lennon's image and music in "The Beatles: Rock Band" videogame and revisiting their final recording studio collaborations together for a reconfigured version of "Double Fantasy," the 1980 album that put him back at the top of the pop charts shortly before he died.

"Double Fantasy — Stripped Down" is a remixed version of the album, removing the bells-and-whistles production touches that he, Ono and album producer Jack Douglas used 30 years ago, especially the effects used to alter the quality of his naked voice.

"I think that's really the best part, in a way," Ono, 77, said during a stop in Beverly Hills recently. "When you hear it, it's totally different in the sense that John's voice is really so up [front in the sound mix]…. You're going to really hear him for the first time, in a way."

Raw emotion characterized "John Lennon/Plastic Ono Band," the first album he released after the 1970 breakup of the Beatles. But from "Imagine" in 1971 through "Double Fantasy," he often double-tracked his vocals, adding echo and reverb or other aural processing. Were he still alive, this might be the one project he'd have trouble supporting.

"He was never satisfied with his voice," Ono said. "But he was satisfied with what we were doing [on 'Double Fantasy'] in the sense of the songs."

Ono said she's listened to those songs only sporadically over the years and that her response to hearing the album in its entirety during the remixing process recently took her by surprise.

"For business reasons I have to listen to certain things sometimes," she said, "maybe one song, you know, if they want to use it for an advertisement, but not the whole thing. I thought, 'I can take care of it as business, objectively,' which I have been doing for 30 years. But to listen to 'Double Fantasy,' ohhh," she said with a heavy sigh. "I was crying, actually."

Asked whether "Double Fantasy — Stripped Down" also means her own voice will be cast in a new light, Ono nearly blushed. "Yes, that's true," she said with a jittery laugh. "I get a bit nervous talking about that. Most people in those days really hated the fact that I was there. But yes, you hear me too."

Sean lent a hand to the remixed "Double Fantasy" project: That's his sketch on the cover, a reproduction of the original album's photo of his father and mother kissing.

Thirty years after that photo was taken, how might Lennon view the seismic changes that have transpired since he sang to his generation about a "Revolution"?

more after the jump
http://www.latimes.com/entertainment/news/la-ca-john-lennon-20101003,0,4262180.story

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xx Re: Stuff & Nonsense
« Reply #1407 on: Oct 3rd, 2010, 09:10am »


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xx Re: Stuff & Nonsense
« Reply #1408 on: Oct 3rd, 2010, 09:40am »

on Sep 30th, 2010, 12:31pm, philliman wrote:
Yes, R.I.P. Tony! sad

Actor Tony Curtis dead at 85

Tony Curtis, whose good looks made him a Hollywood star well before he became an accomplished actor in movies such as The Sweet Smell of Success and Some Like It Hot, has died at his home in Nevada, ABC News reported. He was 85.

Curtis, one of the biggest box-office stars of the 1950s and one of Hollywood's busiest playboys during that time, died in bed at midnight in Henderson, Nevada, ABC said, citing his business manager and family spokesman, Preston Ahearn.

Curtis had a memorable role in the classic gladiator movie Spartacus in 1960 and received an Academy Award nominee for 1958's The Defiant Ones but his career got off to a rough start.

His first starring role was in The Prince Who Was a Thief in 1951 and critics were appalled as Curtis, playing an Arabian prince, proclaimed in a thick New York accent, "Yonduh lies de castle of de caliph, my fadder!"

...


Read the rest here:
http://www.stuff.co.nz/entertainment/film/4186204/Actor-Tony-Curtis-dead-at-85/4186204/Actor-Tony-Curtis-dead-at-85

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(source: moviestarmania.com)

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Hey, Phil smiley

I was touched to view a video of the late actor's widow speaking of her husband's gentleness and kind nature, and how in spite of the problems he'd had in his life he reserved that nature up to the very end. She said he passed peacefully at home in his sleep, and I (along with her and all his family members, I'm sure, as well as the many fans who enjoyed the body of work he compiled over the years!) am grateful for God's mercy in that. God Bless, Tony! May you find many fascinating and creative endeavors to explore in the spirit realms...
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xx Re: Stuff & Nonsense
« Reply #1409 on: Oct 3rd, 2010, 2:15pm »

on Sep 30th, 2010, 1:54pm, WingsofCrystal wrote:
Hi Phil!

Tony Curtis was something else wasn't he! Hope you are having a good day. It's beautiful here today!

Crystal

He was one of the last of those classic hollywood legends. He'll never be forgotten nor that there's anyone who could ever replace him. Same with all those other legends like Walter Mathau, John Wayne, James Stewart etc. etc.

on Oct 3rd, 2010, 09:40am, Seeker wrote:
Hey, Phil smiley

I was touched to view a video of the late actor's widow speaking of her husband's gentleness and kind nature, and how in spite of the problems he'd had in his life he reserved that nature up to the very end. She said he passed peacefully at home in his sleep, and I (along with her and all his family members, I'm sure, as well as the many fans who enjoyed the body of work he compiled over the years!) am grateful for God's mercy in that. God Bless, Tony! May you find many fascinating and creative endeavors to explore in the spirit realms...

As I saw those latest pics of him he reminded me quite of my late father.
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