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 veryhotthread  Author  Topic: Stuff & Nonsense  (Read 14635 times)
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« Reply #1605 on: Oct 21st, 2010, 08:37am »

New York Times

October 20, 2010
Efforts to Prosecute Blackwater Are Collapsing
By JAMES RISEN

WASHINGTON — Nearly four years after the federal government began a string of investigations and criminal prosecutions against Blackwater Worldwide personnel accused of murder and other violent crimes in Iraq and Afghanistan, the cases are beginning to fall apart, burdened by a legal obstacle of the government’s own making.

In the most recent and closely watched case, the Justice Department on Monday said that it would not seek murder charges against Andrew J. Moonen, a Blackwater armorer accused of killing a guard assigned to an Iraqi vice president on Dec. 24, 2006. Justice officials said that they were abandoning the case after an investigation that began in early 2007, and included trips to Baghdad by federal prosecutors and F.B.I. agents to interview Iraqi witnesses.

The government’s decision to drop the Moonen case follows a series of failures by prosecutors around the country in cases aimed at former personnel of Blackwater, which is now known as Xe Services. In September, a Virginia jury was unable to reach a verdict in the murder trial of two former Blackwater guards accused of killing two Afghan civilians. Late last year, charges were dismissed against five former Blackwater guards who had been indicted on manslaughter and related weapons charges in a September 2007 shooting incident in Nisour Square in Baghdad, in which 17 Iraqi civilians were killed.

Interviews with lawyers involved in the cases, outside legal experts and a review of some records show that federal prosecutors have failed to overcome a series of legal hurdles, including the difficulties of obtaining evidence in war zones, of gaining proper jurisdiction for prosecutions in American civilian courts, and of overcoming immunity deals given to defendants by American officials on the scene.

“The battlefield,” said Charles Rose, a professor at Stetson University College of Law in Florida, “is not a place that lends itself to the preservation of evidence.”

The difficulty of these cases also illustrates the tricky legal questions raised by the government’s increasing use of private contractors in war zones.

Such problems clearly plagued the Moonen case. In the immediate aftermath of the Christmas Eve shooting, Mr. Moonen was interviewed, not by the F.B.I., but by an official with the Regional Security Office of the United States Embassy in Baghdad, the State Department unit that supervised Blackwater security guards in Iraq.

Mr. Moonen’s lawyer, Stewart Riley, said that his client gave the embassy officials a statement only after he was issued a so-called Garrity warning — a threat that he might lose his job if he did not talk, but that he would be granted immunity from prosecution for anything he said.

The legal warning and protection given to Mr. Moonen were similar to warnings that embassy officials later gave to Blackwater guards involved in the Nisour Square case. In each case, the agreements presented an obstacle to prosecution in the United States. In effect, the Blackwater personnel were given a form of immunity from prosecution by the people they were working for and helping to protect.

“Once you immunize statements, it is really hard to prosecute,” said Andrew Leipold, a law professor at the University of Illinois. “In the field, the people providing the immunity may value finding out what happened more than they do any possibility of prosecution. But that just makes any future prosecution really very hard.”

Justice Department officials declined to comment Wednesday about specific Blackwater cases. But the department has appealed the dismissal of the Nisour Square case, and a new trial has been scheduled for next March in the Virginia murder case after a mistrial was declared. And Justice officials noted that the government had had a number of successful prosecutions against contractors in Iraq and Afghanistan, including several for sexual assaults and other violent crimes. More than 120 companies have been charged by the Justice Department for contract fraud and related crimes in Iraq, Afghanistan and Kuwait, officials said.

Still, a Justice official who spoke on the condition of anonymity acknowledged that the government had faced tough obstacles. “There are substantial difficulties in prosecuting cases committed in war zones,” the official said. “There’s problems with the availability of witnesses, availability of evidence, and the quality of the evidence. You also have claims of self-defense, which are generally difficult, although not insurmountable.”

And self-defense is a more compelling argument in war zones, where many people are routinely armed.

One problem in the Moonen case, for example, was that while Mr. Moonen admitted in his statement to the embassy official that he did shoot the Iraqi guard, he asserted that he had done so in self-defense. The guards in the Virginia case also said that they shot in self-defense when they believed they were facing an attack from insurgents. In the Nisour Square case, the five Blackwater guards who were charged also claimed that they shot only after they believed they were under attack.

Jurisdictional problems also plague the Blackwater cases. Since the Blackwater guards were working under a contract with the State Department, they did not fall under the laws that govern contractors working for the Defense Department overseas. Contractors for the Defense Department are subject to criminal prosecution under the Military Extraterritorial Jurisdiction Act, but it has never been clear whether the law can be applied to contractors for the State Department, like Blackwater. Those contractors generally have greater protections because of the possibility that they might be engaged in fighting.

Until last year, foreign contractors also had immunity from prosecution under Iraqi law, so the Blackwater guards were operating in a legal vacuum, noted Eric Jensen, a law professor at Fordham University. “I would be concerned as a prosecutor that even if you got past the immunization, and the problems with witnesses and evidence, that you may not even have a law that supports the prosecution of a Department of State contractor,” Mr. Jensen said. “Congress has tried to address this, but it’s still a live question.”

Mr. Riley cited these reasons in a letter he wrote in April 2009 to Attorney General Eric H. Holder Jr. about the case and also noted that he believed the government had considered indicting Mr. Moonen to placate the Iraqi government. In a letter sent to Mr. Riley on Monday, notifying him that they were dropping the case, prosecutors also indicated that they would have difficulty proving their case beyond a reasonable doubt, particularly in overcoming Mr. Moonen’s claims that he shot in self-defense.

Meanwhile, the government said that the United States ambassador to Iraq, James F. Jeffrey, had to notify the Iraqi government of the decision, and also provided government officials a letter to be given to the family of the shooting victim, Raheem Saadoun. This year, Mr. Saadoun’s family dropped a civil lawsuit against Mr. Moonen and Blackwater after receiving a financial settlement.

http://www.nytimes.com/2010/10/21/world/21contractors.html?ref=world

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« Reply #1606 on: Oct 21st, 2010, 08:40am »

New York Times

October 20, 2010
Water Scarcity a Bond Risk, Study Warns
By FELICITY BARRINGER and DIANA B. HENRIQUES

The municipal bonds that help finance a major portion of the nation’s water supply may be riskier than investors realize because their credit ratings do not adequately reflect the growing risks of water shortages and legal battles over water supplies, according to a new study.

As a result, investors may see their bonds drop in value when these risks become apparent, and water and electric utilities may find it more expensive to raise money to cope with supply problems, the study warned.

Looking at significant water bond issuers across the southern part of the country, the report concluded that Wall Street’s rating agencies had given similar ratings to utilities with secure sources of water and to those whose water sources were dwindling or were threatened by legal battles with neighboring utilities.

Among the seven cities and agencies examined in the report, Los Angeles and Atlanta were identified as the ones whose water systems faced the greatest risk in the years ahead.

“Municipal bonds are bought and sold on the basis of their credit ratings,” the report said. “Yet today these ratings take little account of utilities’ vulnerability to increased water competition, nor do they account for climate change, which is rendering utility assets obsolete.”

Consequently, the study warned, “investors are blindly placing bets on which utilities are positioned to manage these growing risks.”

The report, one of the first to assess the potential impact of water shortages on the municipal bond market, was jointly produced by Ceres, a national coalition of investors, environmentalists and public interest groups, and Water Asset Management, an investor in water-related businesses. Its analysis relied on a new measure of risk developed exclusively for the study by a unit of PricewaterhouseCoopers.

The report implicitly echoed criticisms leveled at the ratings agencies after the collapse of the subprime mortgage market in 2008, and for similar reasons. Just as mortgage ratings reflected historical patterns but didn’t capture recent market changes, water bond ratings tend to reflect a past when water was plentiful, and not a future when supplies of fresh water may be less abundant, the study noted.

The major bond rating agencies — Moody’s, Standard & Poor’s and Fitch Ratings — all disputed the study’s general conclusion that they did not give enough weight to water supply trends in establishing their municipal water bond ratings. “Water has been scarce in the West since the area was first settled, and Moody’s has long incorporated an analysis of the adequacy of water supplies into our ratings,” said Eric Hoffmann, a senior vice president and municipal ratings analyst at Moody’s Investors Service.

While the ratings agencies all noted that an issuer’s future financial health would be shaped by more than just its sources of water supply, they insisted that the cost and availability of water supplies was already an important element in their analysis.

Standard & Poor’s rating analysis “explicitly addresses how water sufficiency and quality issues are likely to affect business and financial risk,” said Ana Sandoval, a spokeswoman for that rating agency. And at Fitch Ratings, “water supply risk has consistently and transparently factored into Fitch’s ratings and analysis of municipal bonds,” said Eric Friedland, group credit officer and managing director of its United States public finance group.

The utilities examined in the report said the analysis was flawed by basic misunderstandings about demand and supply. A response from the Los Angeles Department of Water and Power called the study’s conclusions “uninformed and miscalculated.”

The Tarrant Regional Water District in Texas, another issuer studied in the report, has “supply now to meet projected demand through 2030,” said Wayne Owen, its planning director.

And the city of Phoenix, another subject of the study, said in a statement that the report’s concerns about the fact that it imported some of its water were “unjustified and unjustifiable.”

The lead author of the study, Sharlene Leurig, defended the bias against imported water by noting that water was heavy and moving it was “incredibly energy-intensive” and expensive.

Electric utilities and investors who buy their bonds rely on water to drive hydroelectric generators or cool nuclear power plants and are subject to some of the same risks, the report said.

Water problems in California and Georgia have attracted significant attention the last few years. On Sunday, Lake Mead, the Colorado River reservoir that supplies Los Angeles and other parts of the southwest, dropped to its lowest point since it was first filled in the 1930s. And at one point during a drought in 2007, Atlanta’s main reservoir, Lake Lanier, held only a three-month supply of water.

As the study notes, the cost of tapping new supplies and repairing old infrastructure would bear down on the country’s 54,000 utilities just when consumers, squeezed by a weak economy and high unemployment, were already balking at significant rate increases to cover payments to bond investors.

Municipal bonds are not subject to federal rules that require public corporations to disclose their vulnerability to climate change, but issuers nevertheless must make sure that the information they give investors is accurate and current, said Lynnette Kelly Hotchkiss, executive director of the Municipal Securities Rulemaking Board, which regulates the dealers, underwriters and advisers in the municipal bond market.

“Municipal issuers are required to disclose all material facts when they offer bonds for sale,” Ms. Hotchkiss said. “The possible effect of climate change can be a material fact if it affects the revenue sources that support the bonds.”

http://www.nytimes.com/2010/10/21/business/21water.html?ref=science

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« Reply #1607 on: Oct 21st, 2010, 08:47am »

Wired

Oct. 21, 1879: Edison Gets the Bright Light Right
By Randy Alfred October 21, 2009 | 12:00 am | Categories: 19th century, Business and Industry, Inventions

1879: Thomas Edison crowns 14 months of testing with an incandescent electric light bulb that lasts 13½ hours.

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Sir Humphrey Davy had produced incandescent electric light in 1808 by passing battery current through a platinum wire. But the voltaic pile was expensive and could be messy.

The invention of the dynamo in 1866 literally generated new possibilities and a few American and European cities had some of their streets illuminated with arc lights by the end of the 1870s.

Arc light (where the current flows from one electrode through a gas to another electrode) is bright and harsh. Edison wanted to “subdivide” the light by using the softer glow obtained when electricity passes through a filament and heats it up until it glows.

Edison was riding high on the fame and profits from his gadgets for telegraph printing, multiplex telegraphy, telephone improvements and the brand-new phonograph. He figured he and the 40 researchers at his Menlo Park, New Jersey, development lab could come up with a good incandescent bulb in three or four months in 1878. When he prematurely announced that he’d come up with the bulb, stock in gaslight companies took a dive.

Edison was unable to devote all his time to the quest: He had to redesign the receiver of his telephone system — which was being marketed in England — to avoid infringing on Alexander Graham Bell’s patent. The lab also had to work on improving electrical generators and developing an electric meter to bill the eventual customers.

Edison’s lab put a lot of effort into making a bulb with a platinum filament, but that work went nowhere, because platinum has a relatively low resistance. But gas bubbles in the platinum had led Edison to develop an efficient vacuum pump to remove the air from the inside of his bulbs. And that created a new opportunity: carbon.

Carbon conducts electricity, has a high resistance and can be shaped into thin filaments. And it’s cheap. But it burns easily — unless there’s no oxygen around. The vacuum bulbs Edison had created for platinum were ideal for carbon.

Edison pushed hard on his research assistants, whom he more or less affectionately called “muckers.” After testing hundreds of materials, they baked a piece of coiled cotton thread until it was all carbon. Inside a near-vacuum bulb, it stayed alight for more than half a day. The “three or four month” project had taken 14 months.

Soon, the lab got a carbon-filament bulb to last 40 hours. It had cost $40,000 (about $850,000 in today’s money) and taken 1,200 experiments, but was ready at last for a public debut.

On New Year’s Eve, 3,000 people visited the lab in Menlo Park to witness 40 electric light bulbs glowing merrily. Edison switched them on and off at will, dazzling and delighting his guests. These bulbs used carbonized cardboard.

Eventually, Edison’s lab tested carbonized filaments made from plants as diverse as baywood, boxwood, hickory, cedar, flax and bamboo. “Before I got through,” he said, “I tested no fewer than 6,000 vegetable growths, and ransacked the world for the most suitable filament material.” Bamboo became the favorite for several decades, but tungsten supplanted it by 1910.

Edison didn’t start delivering electricity to paying customers until he opened the Pearl Street power station in New York City in September 1882.

So, what we see here is Edison leveraging profits from one invention to finance the next, announcing a product well before it’s completed, dodging and defending intellectual-property disputes, missing a big deadline, working his development staff feverishly, unveiling a prototype in a splashy and impressive event, and still needing more time before it was actually available to end users — in select markets, of course.

If that pattern reminds you of a tech mogul of our own time, that’s your business. Or his, actually.

Source: Electric Perspectives, September/October 2004

Image: Thomas Edison received a patent for his light bulb in January 1880.
Restored photolithograph/Courtesy National Archives

http://www.wired.com/thisdayintech/2009/10/1021edison-light-bulb/

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« Reply #1608 on: Oct 21st, 2010, 08:53am »

Telegraph

Britain is home to witches, fairies, and guardian angels, according to a 25-year-study of paranormal activity.

Published: 1:46PM BST 21 Oct 2010

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The Supernatural Angel Report compiled a list of supposed paranormal occurrences which have been reported to the police over the past two and a half decades.

A total of 755 incidents were documented ranging from healing and helpful entities, to visions of angels and animal spirits.

The report claimed that benign entities are the most common angelic paranormal experience with 192 reported cases.

Most of those apparently took place in Yorkshire with 18 reported cases.

There were 104 supposed visions of angels, 44 of fairies, 32 of witches, and 24 of guardian angels.

In Sutton Wood in Derbyshire there was a report of something seeming to be an angel which took the form of a monk.

The report described the entity as very holy and having an aura of goodness that made them feel glad that they had seen it.


http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/newstopics/howaboutthat/8077737/Britain-home-to-witches-fairies-and-guardian-angels.html

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« Reply #1609 on: Oct 21st, 2010, 08:58am »

Science Daily

New Mothers Grow Bigger Brains Within Months of Giving Birth: Warmer Feelings Toward Babies Linked to Bigger Mid-Brains

ScienceDaily (Oct. 20, 2010) —

Motherhood may actually cause the brain to grow, not turn it into mush, as some have claimed. Exploratory research published by the American Psychological Association found that the brains of new mothers bulked up in areas linked to motivation and behavior, and that mothers who gushed the most about their babies showed the greatest growth in key parts of the mid-brain.

Led by neuroscientist Pilyoung Kim, PhD, now with the National Institute of Mental Health, the authors speculated that hormonal changes right after birth, including increases in estrogen, oxytocin and prolactin, may help make mothers' brains susceptible to reshaping in response to the baby. Their findings were published in the October issue of Behavioral Neuroscience.

The motivation to take care of a baby, and the hallmark traits of motherhood, might be less of an instinctive response and more of a result of active brain building, neuroscientists Craig Kinsley, PhD, and Elizabeth Meyer, PhD, wrote in a special commentary in the same journal issue.

The researchers performed baseline and follow-up high-resolution magnetic-resonance imaging on the brains of 19 women who gave birth at Yale-New Haven Hospital, 10 to boys and nine to girls. A comparison of images taken two to four weeks and three to four months after the women gave birth showed that gray matter volume increased by a small but significant amount in various parts of the brain. In adults, gray matter volume doesn't ordinarily change over a few months without significant learning, brain injury or illness, or major environmental change.

The areas affected support maternal motivation (hypothalamus), reward and emotion processing (substantia nigra and amygdala), sensory integration (parietal lobe), and reasoning and judgment (prefrontal cortex).

In particular, the mothers who most enthusiastically rated their babies as special, beautiful, ideal, perfect and so on were significantly more likely to develop bigger mid-brains than the less awestruck mothers in key areas linked to maternal motivation, rewards and the regulation of emotions.

The mothers averaged just over 33 years in age and 18 years of school. All were breastfeeding, nearly half had other children and none had serious postpartum depression.

Although these early findings require replication with a larger and more representative sample, they raise intriguing questions about the interaction between mother and child (or parent and child, since fathers are also the focus of study). The intense sensory-tactile stimulation of a baby may trigger the adult brain to grow in key areas, allowing mothers, in this case, to "orchestrate a new and increased repertoire of complex interactive behaviors with infants," the authors wrote. Expansion in the brain's "motivation" area in particular could lead to more nurturing, which would help babies survive and thrive physically, emotionally and cognitively.

Further study using adoptive mothers could help "tease out effects of postpartum hormones versus mother-infant interactions," said Kim, and help resolve the question of whether the brain changes behavior or behavior changes the brain -- or both.

The authors said that postpartum depression may involve reductions in the same brain areas that grew in mothers who were not depressed. "The abnormal changes may be associated with difficulties in learning the rewarding value of infant stimuli and in regulating emotions during the postpartum period," they said. Further study is expected to clarify what happens in the brains of mothers at risk, which may lead to improved interventions.

In their "Theoretical Comment," Kinsley and Meyer, of the University of Richmond, connected this research on human mothers to similar basic research findings in laboratory animals. All the scientists agreed that further research may show whether increased brain volumes are due to growth in nerve cells themselves, longer and more complex connections (dendrites and dendritic spines) between them, or bushier branching in nerve-cell networks.

http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2010/10/101020111217.htm

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« Reply #1610 on: Oct 21st, 2010, 4:58pm »

http://www.foxnews.com/scitech/2010/10/21/physicists-eye-parallel-universe-breakthrough/

Fox News

Physicists Eye Parallel Universe, Extra Dimensions Breakthrough


Published October 21, 2010 Reuters

Physicists probing the origins of the cosmos hope that next year they will turn up the first proofs of the existence of concepts long dear to science-fiction writers such as hidden worlds and extra dimensions.

And as their Large Hadron Collider (LHC) at CERN near Geneva moves into high gear, they are talking increasingly of the "New Physics" on the horizon that could totally change current views of the universe and how it works.

"Parallel universes, unknown forms of matter, extra dimensions... These are not the stuff of cheap science fiction but very concrete physics theories that scientists are trying to confirm with the LHC and other experiments."

This was how the "ideas" men and women in the international research center's Theory Group, which mulls over what could be out there beyond the reach of any telescope, put it in CERN's staff-targeted Bulletin this month.

As particles are collided in the vast underground LHC complex at increasingly high energies, what the Bulletin article referred to informally as the "universe's extra bits" -- if they do exist as predicted -- should be brought into computerized, if ephemeral, view, the theorists say.

Optimism among the hundreds of scientists working at CERN -- in the foothills of the Jura mountains along the border of France and Switzerland -- has grown as the initially troubled $10 billion experiment hit its targets this year.

PROTON COLLISIONS

By mid-October, Director-General Rolf Heuer told staff last weekend, protons were being collided along the 27-km (16.8 mile) subterranean ring at the rate of 5 million a second -- two weeks earlier than the target date for that total.

By next year, collisions will be occurring -- if all continues to go well -- at a rate producing what physicists call one "inverse femtobarn," best described as a colossal amount, of information for analysts to ponder.

The head-on collisions, at all but the speed of light, recreate what happened a tiny fraction of a second after the primeval "Big Bang" 13.7 billion years ago which brought the known universe and everything in it into being.

Despite centuries of increasingly sophisticated observation from planet Earth, only 4 per cent of that universe is known -- because the rest is made up of what have been called, because they are invisible, dark matter and dark energy.

Billions of particles flying off from each LHC collision are tracked at four CERN detectors -- and then in collaborating laboratories around the globe -- to establish when and how they come together and what shapes they take.

The CERN theoreticians say this could give clear signs of dimensions beyond length, breadth, depth and time because at such high energy particles could be tracked disappearing -- presumably into them -- and then back into the classical four.

Parallel universes could also be hidden within these dimensions, the thinking goes, but only in a so-called gravitational variety in which light cannot be propagated -- a fact which would make it nearly impossible to explore them.
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« Reply #1611 on: Oct 22nd, 2010, 09:14am »

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Mornin' Swamprat!
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« Reply #1612 on: Oct 22nd, 2010, 09:16am »

New York Times

October 22, 2010
Pakistan Urges US to Intervene in Kashmir Dispute
Filed at 9:36 a.m. ET

WASHINGTON (AP) — Pakistan is calling for President Barack Obama to intervene in its longstanding dispute with India over the Himalayan region of Kashmir, the cause of two of the three wars the nuclear-armed rivals have fought.

Pakistan's foreign minister on Friday made an unusually blunt appeal for Obama to insert himself in the dispute when he visits India next month. He said a recent crackdown against suspected Muslim militants in Indian-controlled Kashmir threatens peace and stability in South Asia.

The Kashmir dispute is the main source of friction between India and Pakistan. India vehemently opposes any outside intervention in the Kashmir dispute and the United States has traditionally stayed above the fray.


http://www.nytimes.com/aponline/2010/10/22/us/politics/AP-US-US-Pakistan-Kashmir.html?_r=1&hp

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« Reply #1613 on: Oct 22nd, 2010, 09:20am »

New York Times


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October 21, 2010
Moon Crater Contains Usable Water, NASA Says
By KENNETH CHANG

The Moon, at least at the bottom of a deep, dark cold crater near its south pole, seems to be wetter than the Sahara, scientists reported Thursday.

In lunar terms, that is an oasis, surprisingly wet for a place that had long been thought by many planetary scientists to be utterly dry.

If astronauts were to visit this crater, they might be able to use eight wheelbarrows of soil to melt 10 to 13 gallons of water. The water, if purified, could be used for drinking, or broken apart into hydrogen and oxygen for rocket fuel — to get home or travel to Mars.

“That is a very valuable resource,” said Anthony Colaprete, principal investigator of NASA’s Lunar Crater Observation and Sensing Satellite — or Lcross, for short — which made the observations as it, by design, slammed into the Moon a year ago. “This is wetter than some places on Earth.”

The Sahara sands are 2 to 5 percent water, and the water is tightly bound to the minerals. In the lunar crater, which lies in perpetual darkness, the water is in the form of almost pure ice grains mixed in with the rest of the soil, and is easy to extract. The ice is about 5.6 percent of the mixture, and possibly as high as 8.5 percent of it, Dr. Colaprete said.

“That is a large number, larger than I think anyone was anticipating,” Dr. Colaprete said.

The $79 million Lcross mission piggybacked on the Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter, which was launched in June last year and has been mapping out the lunar surface for a future return by astronauts. Lcross steered the empty second stage of the rocket, which otherwise would have just burned up in the Earth’s atmosphere, onto a collision course with the Moon.

Last October, as it neared impact, the Lcross spacecraft released the empty second stage and slowed down slightly so that it could watch the stage’s 5,600-mile-per-hour crash into a 60-mile-wide, 2-mile-deep crater named Cabeus. A few minutes later, Lcross, quickly transmitting its gathered data to Earth, met a similar demise.

For people who watched the live Webcast video transmitted by Lcross, the event was a disappointment, with no visible plume from the impacts. But as they analyzed the data, scientists found everything they were looking for, and more. Last November, the team reported that the impact had kicked up at least 26 gallons of water, confirming suspicions of ice in the craters.

The new results increase the water estimate to about 40 gallons, and by estimating by amount of dirt excavated by the impact, calculated the concentration of water for the first time.

A series of articles reporting the Lcross results appear in Friday’s issue of the journal Science.

Also surprising was the cornucopia of other elements and molecules that Lcross scooped out of the Cabeus crater, near the Moon’s south pole. Lying in perpetual darkness, the bottom of Cabeus, at minus 370 degrees Fahrenheit, is among the coldest places in the solar system and acts as a “cold trap,” collecting a history of impacts and debris over perhaps a couple of billion years.

“This is quite a reservoir of our cosmic climate,” said Peter H. Schultz, a professor of geological sciences at Brown University and lead author of one of the Science papers. “It reflects things that hit the Moon.”

By analyzing the spectrum of infrared light reflected off the debris plume, Dr. Schultz and his colleagues identified elements like sodium and silver.

Instruments on the Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter, also watching the impact, identified other compounds, like calcium, magnesium and mercury.

With the multitude of minerals, scientists can examine the relative abundances and start speculating about what sorts of objects have been hitting the Moon. Some material looks very similar to what is found in comets. Other minerals look like what is produced by chemical reactions that occur on very cold surfaces.

“What’s really exciting to me is that Cabeus could be a comet impact site,” Dr. Colaprete said.

Lcross and the lunar orbiter are part of NASA’s Constellation program, started five years ago by the Bush administration to send astronauts back to the Moon. Arguing that it is too expensive and that the United States has already been there, President Obama has pushed for its cancellation. A compromise on the space agency’s future, passed by Congress and signed into law by Mr. Obama last week, sets aside Moon ambitions for now, at least for the return of human explorers.

Dr. Schultz hopes that study of the Moon will continue.

“I think the poles have just opened up a flurry of new questions,” he said. “I think it is a destiny that we will go there as humans. I hope it’s not just for commercialization.”

http://www.nytimes.com/2010/10/22/science/space/22moon.html?ref=science

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« Reply #1614 on: Oct 22nd, 2010, 09:25am »

Guardian

David Kelly postmortem reveals injuries were self-inflicted
Government releases previously secret medical files on death of weapons inspector at centre of BBC's Iraq dossier story

Read the postmortem examination report: http://www.guardian.co.uk/politics/interactive/2010/oct/22/david-kelly-iraq1?intcmp=239

Read the toxicologist's report: http://www.guardian.co.uk/politics/interactive/2010/oct/22/david-kelly-iraq?intcmp=239

Matthew Taylor guardian.co.uk,
Friday 22 October 2010 10.34 BST

The death of weapons inspector David Kelly was "typical of self-inflicted injury", according to previously secret medical documents released today.

The postmortem report into his death found the main cause was bleeding from a wound to his wrist "entirely consistent with being inflicted with a bladed weapon".

The scientist's body was found in woods near his Oxfordshire home in July 2003 after he was identified as the source of a BBC story claiming the government "sexed up" its dossier on Iraq's supposed weapons of mass destruction.

Lord Hutton, who conducted the inquiry into Kelly's death, found the scientist had committed suicide. However there have been numerous calls for another examination of the case amid persistent conspiracy theories about how Kelly may have died.

Today's reports undermine those who have questioned the official version of events, as the conclusions of the postmortem examination by Dr Nicholas Hunt matched those in Hutton's original report.

"It is my opinion that the main factor involved in bringing about the death of David Kelly is the bleeding from the incised wounds to his left wrist," said Hunt. "Had this not occurred he may well not have died at this time. "Furthermore, on the balance of probabilities, it is likely that the ingestion of an excess number of co-proxamol tablets coupled with apparently clinically silent coronary artery disease would both have played a part in bringing about death more certainly and more rapidly than would have otherwise been the case.

"Therefore I give as the cause of death: 1a. Haemorrhage; 1b Incised wounds to the left wrist; 2. Co-proxamol ingestion and coronary artery atherosclerosis."

The justice secretary, Kenneth Clarke, said he had decided to publish the documents "in the interests of maintaining public confidence in the inquiry into how Dr Kelly came by his death".

"While I firmly believe that the publication of these documents is in the public interest, I am mindful that the contents may be distressing. I hope that the privacy of Dr Kelly's family will be respected at this difficult time."

Hutton had ruled that the report should remain secret for 70 years. He said this was done "solely in order to protect Dr Kelly's widow and daughters for the remainder of their lives (the daughters being in their twenties at that time) from the distress which they would suffer from further discussion of the details of Dr Kelly's death in the media".

"My request was not a concealment of evidence because every matter of relevance had been examined or was available for examination during the public inquiry.

"There was no secrecy surrounding the postmortem report because it had always been available for examination and questioning by counsel representing the interested parties during the inquiry."

Hutton said his inquiry was open and public and neither Kelly's family, the government nor the BBC "asked for leave to question or challenge by cross-examination" witnesses whose evidence "led to the conclusion that Dr Kelly had committed suicide and had not been murdered".

Doubts about the cause of Kelly's death resurfaced this summer when Hunt, a Home Office pathologist, said he would welcome a new inquest and a group of prominent medical figures signed a letter stating that the official explanation was "extremely unlikely".

To add to the controversy, Detective Constable Graham Coe, who found the body, said there had not been much blood at the scene.

However today's report found Kelly's arterial injury "resulted in the loss of a significant volume of blood as noted at the scene ... The orientation and arrangement of the wounds over the left wrist are typical of self-inflicted injury".

Calls for an inquest have come from Peter Kilfoyle, the former Labour minister, and Norman Baker, the Liberal Democrat transport minister. Lord Howard of Lympne, the former Conservative leader, has also added his voice.

Today solicitor Peter Jacobsen, who has represented Kelly's family since 2003, said they had no comment to make.


http://www.guardian.co.uk/politics/2010/oct/22/david-kelly-postmortem-self-inflicted

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« Reply #1615 on: Oct 22nd, 2010, 09:32am »

Wired

Scott Brown on Why the Doomsday Clock Needs to Be Abolished

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illustration by Leo Espinosa

Ask me to picture doomsday and I immediately think of a ticking clock. That clock image was planted in my head long before I was born, by scientists—atomic scientists, no less. In 1947, The Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists gave us the Doomsday Clock, that helpfully terrifying visualization of our species’ relative proximity to all-out self-extinction, granddaddy to the 24 clock and all the other ticking A-bombs of Armageddon that pop culture has placed lovingly on the bedside tables of our cowering psyches. The clock was set at seven minutes to midnight, and it’s been changed just 19 times since then.

The earliest we’ve managed to set it back: 17 minutes to midnight. That was in 1991, after the fall of the Soviet Union and the subsequent signing of the Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty. The latest it’s gotten: two minutes till, during an exchange of US and Soviet H-bomb tests in 1953. (The Cuban missile crisis came and went too quickly for the clock-keepers to respond.) Today, we stand at six minutes to midnight; climate change and “biosecurity” have been added desultorily to the clock’s eschatological workings. (But nobody has addressed the daylight-savings-time question. Is it spring forward or fall back? And is it OK to wear lead after Labor Day?)

As meme, metaphor, and instrument of civic awareness, the Doomsday Clock is unmatched. But as a clock, it’s a total failure. It’s really a gauge, not a timepiece—what self-respecting nonquantum chronometer rides back and forth over the same patch of time for 50 years, anyway? Its website, Turnbacktheclock.org, features imagery and a domain name meant to suggest the difficulty, maybe even the impossibility, of the task. To turn back the clock you would need a miracle—or at least a flux capacitor.

Sure, I appreciate the purpose of the Doomsday Clock: to shame or frighten powerful, feckless dolts in leadership positions, who enjoy brandishing fistfuls of plutonium (or coal subsidies) when politics don’t go their way. Problem is, powerful, feckless dolts aren’t afraid of clocks. They’re afraid of sex scandals and angry peasants—in that order. Clocks frighten only normal, powerless people like you and me, in the hope that we’ll de-elect and/or assassinate the powerful, feckless dolts. We do, and they’re instantly replaced with new dolts, and the clock ticks on in nerve-racking nonsense-time.

We can’t seem to do anything about nuclear weapons, climate change, or responsible biotech regulation. So I propose we do something about the Doomsday Clock. Detonating the damned thing and starting anew comes to mind. For one thing, we need an instrument that measures a wider variety of potential apocalyptic scenarios: preventable asteroid collision, mass smartphone-brain-tumor die-off, moon-based casino snafu, and my personal favorite, killer zom-bees. (They’re zombie bees—hadn’t thought of those, had you?)

Second, we have to liberate ourselves from the toothless time metaphor. After more than half a century, the chrono-imagery and its threat of consequences has lost credibility. Not that the dread itself has abated—we all feel just as globally imperiled as ever—but the metrics are in limbo. So I’d suggest a Doom Queue, with a host of globe-killing catastrophes jockeying for slot number one, moving closer, then farther away, like Johnny Mnemonic in my Netflix lineup. Users can even rate their picks for most likely apocalypse.

In fact, a user-sourced Doom Queue, properly executed, would be ideal: It would do more than predict The End; it would organize our collective anxieties into a plan of action. And that illusion of control is so very important for the healthy psychology of a free (and frightened) society, even a doomed one. Otherwise, we’re just a bunch of clock-watchers, waiting for the midnight hour.


http://www.wired.com/magazine/2010/09/pl_brown_doomsday/

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« Reply #1616 on: Oct 22nd, 2010, 09:36am »

Hollywood Reporter

EXCLUSIVE: James Cameron Reunites With 'Avatar' Producer for 'Fantastic Voyage'
October 22
by Borys Kit

Laeta Kalogridis, who worked with James Cameron on Avatar, is reuniting with the filmmaker for Fantastic Voyage. Kalogridis has been tapped for rewrite duties on Fox's remake of the 1966 sci-fi classic that Cameron is producing.

The long-in-development project has seen Shane Salerno and Cormac and Marianne Wibberly among the scribes who have attempted to tackle the script. Paul Greengrass also flirted with the project this year but never committed.

Voyage revolves around a team of scientists who are shrunk to atomic size and sent in a miniature submarine inside the body of a scientist to save his life.

Cameron is producing with his Lightstorm Entertainment partner Jon Landau.

Kalogridis, who wrote Shutter Island for Martin Scorsese, was involved in the writing of Avatar, for which she received an executive producer credit.

The WME-repped scribe is writing Ghost in the Shell for Avi Arad and DreamWorks and rewriting Nine Lives for Jerry Bruckheimer and Disney. She sold an original pitch to Legendary, with Rae Sanchini, Thomas Tull and Jon Jashni producing.


http://www.hollywoodreporter.com/blogs/heat-vision/exclusive-james-cameron-reunites-avatar-32085

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« Reply #1617 on: Oct 22nd, 2010, 09:41am »

Death Star Pumpkin

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carver unknown

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« Reply #1618 on: Oct 22nd, 2010, 09:45am »



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« Reply #1619 on: Oct 22nd, 2010, 12:08pm »

Hello geezers, how're things going over here? Haven't been around these parts in a while. Might try to get on here more now since I'm spending most of my free time bored out of my skull hehe.
Took some pictures of contrails/clouds this morning on my sister's phone that I'll try to remember to upload later on. There were loads of them, but I'm pretty sure the majority were just clouds. Should make for some nice photography if nothing else. 'Nice' here being by my particularly low standards wink.
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"Death does not concern us, because as long as we exist, death is not here. And when it does come, we no longer exist."
Epicurus.
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