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 veryhotthread  Author  Topic: Stuff & Nonsense  (Read 128987 times)
WingsofCrystal
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xx Re: Stuff & Nonsense
« Reply #1635 on: Oct 23rd, 2010, 7:46pm »

The Northern Light is our local newspaper. I was surprised to see the following announcement:

On The Horizon

Potluck and Theater: Saturday, October 30, noon. Ron Snyder talks about Sasquatch experiences. Bring your favorite dish. Blaine Senior Center, 763 G Street.

http://www.thenorthernlight.com/calendar

What a hoot! I'm dragging my husband to this. He just doesn't know it yet. grin
Crystal
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« Reply #1636 on: Oct 24th, 2010, 09:25am »

New York Times

October 23, 2010
WikiLeaks Founder on the Run, Trailed by Notoriety
By JOHN F. BURNS and RAVI SOMAIYA

LONDON — Julian Assange moves like a hunted man. In a noisy Ethiopian restaurant in London’s rundown Paddington district, he pitches his voice barely above a whisper to foil the Western intelligence agencies he fears.

He demands that his dwindling number of loyalists use expensive encrypted cellphones and swaps his own as other men change shirts. He checks into hotels under false names, dyes his hair, sleeps on sofas and floors, and uses cash instead of credit cards, often borrowed from friends.

“By being determined to be on this path, and not to compromise, I’ve wound up in an extraordinary situation,” Mr. Assange said over lunch last Sunday, when he arrived sporting a woolen beanie and a wispy stubble and trailing a youthful entourage that included a filmmaker assigned to document any unpleasant surprises.

In his remarkable journey to notoriety, Mr. Assange, founder of the WikiLeaks whistle-blowers’ Web site, sees the next few weeks as his most hazardous. Now he is making his most brazen disclosure yet: 391,832 secret documents on the Iraqi war. He held a news conference in London on Saturday, saying that the release “constituted the most comprehensive and detailed account of any war ever to have entered the public record.”

Twelve weeks ago, he posted on his organization’s Web site some 77,000 classified Pentagon documents on the Afghan conflict.

Much has changed since 2006, when Mr. Assange, a 39-year-old Australian, used years of computer hacking and what friends call a near genius I.Q. to establish WikiLeaks, redefining whistle-blowing by gathering secrets in bulk, storing them beyond the reach of governments and others determined to retrieve them, then releasing them instantly, and globally.

Now it is not just governments that denounce him: some of his own comrades are abandoning him for what they see as erratic and imperious behavior, and a nearly delusional grandeur unmatched by an awareness that the digital secrets he reveals can have a price in flesh and blood.

Several WikiLeaks colleagues say he alone decided to release the Afghan documents without removing the names of Afghan intelligence sources for NATO troops. “We were very, very upset with that, and with the way he spoke about it afterwards,” said Birgitta Jonsdottir, a core WikiLeaks volunteer and a member of Iceland’s Parliament. “If he could just focus on the important things he does, it would be better.”

He is also being investigated in connection with accusations of rape and molestation involving two Swedish women. Mr. Assange has denied the allegations, saying the relations were consensual. But prosecutors in Sweden have yet to formally approve charges or dismiss the case eight weeks after the complaints against Mr. Assange were filed, damaging his quest for a secure base for himself and WikiLeaks. Though he characterizes the claims as “a smear campaign,” the scandal has compounded the pressures of his cloaked life.

“When it comes to the point where you occasionally look forward to being in prison on the basis that you might be able to spend a day reading a book, the realization dawns that perhaps the situation has become a little more stressful than you would like,” he said over the London lunch.

Exposing Secrets

Mr. Assange has come a long way from an unsettled childhood in Australia as a self-acknowledged social misfit who narrowly avoided prison after being convicted on 25 charges of computer hacking in 1995. History is punctuated by spies, defectors and others who revealed the most inflammatory secrets of their age. Mr. Assange has become that figure for the Internet era, with as yet unreckoned consequences for himself and for the keepers of the world’s secrets.

“I’ve been waiting 40 years for someone to disclose information on a scale that might really make a difference,” said Daniel Ellsberg, who exposed a 1,000-page secret study of the Vietnam War in 1971 that became known as the Pentagon Papers.

Mr. Ellsberg said he saw kindred spirits in Mr. Assange and Pfc. Bradley Manning, the 22-year-old former Army intelligence operative under detention in Quantico, Va., suspected of leaking the Iraq and Afghan documents.

“They were willing to go to prison for life, or be executed, to put out this information,” Mr. Ellsberg said.

Underlying Mr. Assange’s anxieties is deep uncertainty about what the United States and its allies may do next. Pentagon and Justice department officials have said they are weighing his actions under the 1917 Espionage Act. They have demanded that Mr. Assange “return” all government documents in his possession, undertake not to publish any new ones and not “solicit” further American materials.

Mr. Assange has responded by going on the run, but has found no refuge. Amid the Afghan documents controversy, he flew to Sweden, seeking a residence permit and protection under that country’s broad press freedoms. His initial welcome was euphoric.

“They called me the James Bond of journalism,” he recalled wryly. “It got me a lot of fans, and some of them ended up causing me a bit of trouble.”

Within days, his liaisons with two Swedish women led to an arrest warrant on charges of rape and molestation. Karin Rosander, a spokesperson for the prosecutor, said last week that the police were continuing to investigate.

In late September, he left Stockholm for Berlin. A bag he checked on the almost empty flight disappeared, with three encrypted laptops. It has not resurfaced; Mr. Assange suspects it was intercepted. From Germany, he traveled to London, wary at being detained on arrival. Under British law, his Australian passport entitles him to remain for six months. Iceland, another country with generous press freedoms and a strong WikiLeaks following, has also lost its appeal, with Mr. Assange concluding that its government, like Britain’s, is too easily influenced by Washington. In his native Australia, ministers have signaled their willingness to cooperate with the United States if it opens a prosecution. Mr. Assange said a senior Australian official told him, “You play outside the rules, and you will be dealt with outside the rules.”

He faces attack from within, too.

After the Sweden scandal, strains within WikiLeaks reached a breaking point, with some of Mr. Assange’s closest collaborators publicly defecting. The New York Times spoke with dozens of people who have worked with and supported him in Iceland, Sweden, Germany, Britain and the United States. What emerged was a picture of the founder of WikiLeaks as its prime innovator and charismatic force but as someone whose growing celebrity has been matched by an increasingly dictatorial, eccentric and capricious style.

Internal Turmoil

Effectively, as Mr. Assange pursues his fugitive’s life, his leadership is enforced over the Internet. Even remotely, his style is imperious. In an online exchange with one volunteer, a transcript of which was obtained by The Times, he warned that WikiLeaks would disintegrate without him. “We’ve been in a Unity or Death situation for a few months now,” he said.

When Herbert Snorrason, a 25-year-old political activist in Iceland, questioned Mr. Assange’s judgment over a number of issues in an online exchange last month, Mr. Assange was uncompromising. “I don’t like your tone,” he said, according to a transcript. “If it continues, you’re out.”

Mr. Assange cast himself as indispensable. “I am the heart and soul of this organization, its founder, philosopher, spokesperson, original coder, organizer, financier, and all the rest,” he said. “If you have a problem with me,” he told Mr. Snorrason, using an expletive, he should quit.

In an interview about the exchange, Mr. Snorrason’s conclusion was stark. “He is not in his right mind,” he said. In London, Mr. Assange was dismissive of all those who have criticized him. “These are not consequential people,” he said.

“About a dozen” disillusioned volunteers have left recently, said Smari McCarthy, an Icelandic volunteer who has distanced himself in the recent turmoil. In late summer, Mr. Assange suspended Daniel Domscheit-Berg, a German who had been the WikiLeaks spokesman under the pseudonym Daniel Schmitt, accusing him of unspecified “bad behavior.” Many more activists, Mr. McCarthy said, are likely to follow.

Mr. Assange denied that any important volunteers had quit, apart from Mr. Domscheit-Berg. But further defections could paralyze an organization that Mr. Assange says has 40 core volunteers and about 800 mostly unpaid followers to maintain a diffuse web of computer servers and to secure the system against attack — to guard against the kind of infiltration that WikiLeaks itself has used to generate its revelations.

Mr. Assange’s detractors also accuse him of pursuing a vendetta against the United States. In London, Mr. Assange said America was an increasingly militarized society and a threat to democracy. Moreover, he said, “we have been attacked by the United States, so we are forced into a position where we must defend ourselves.”

more after the jump
http://www.nytimes.com/2010/10/24/world/24assange.html?_r=1&hp

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« Reply #1637 on: Oct 24th, 2010, 09:39am »

LA Times

U.S. military treats many soldiers' wounds 'in theater'

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U.S. military treats many soldiers' wounds 'in theater'
More are being treated and sent back to combat without ever leaving Afghanistan. One sergeant speaks of being conflicted over his need for surgery and his desire to stay with his men.

By David S. Cloud, Los Angeles Times
October 24, 2010

Forward Operating Base Wilson, Afghanistan

When Sgt. Chris Milton was recovering from his combat injury, his days hardly varied: As the wind off the Afghan desert coated everything in a talcum-like dust, he spent two hours on "the rack," as he called his physical therapy. In his sweltering tent, he watched movies or played computer games. Before he went to sleep, he hooked himself up to electrodes that sped the healing of his spine.

The rest of the time he spent thinking about his unit still in combat nearby, about the war and about how faith can come between men.

A growing number of soldiers like Milton are being treated for non-life-threatening wounds and sent back to combat without ever leaving Afghanistan. Army doctors and commanders say the practice speeds recovery and gets injured soldiers back to their units more quickly than sending them to Germany or the United States for treatment.

Caring for the wounded in Afghanistan helps their morale, they say, by keeping them more connected to their buddies.

But Milton, a 29-year-old squad leader in the 101st Airborne Division, says that even though his company was nearby at its Arghandab River Valley outpost, he never felt more isolated, at war not only with the Taliban, but at times with the Army, and even himself.

Being away from his unit for two months gave him plenty of time to ponder a war in which victory seems difficult to define, much less achieve. It left him skeptical that the Army knows best about his medical treatment and even about the tactics for winning the war in this part of Afghanistan, which has seen some of the bloodiest fighting of the conflict.

"We're over here fighting a war that doesn't matter," said the powerfully built Ohio native, who defies easy definition: a soldier fighting Muslim militants, but one unafraid of challenging fellow GIs who equate Muslims with terrorists. "It's never going to change."

*****

Milton is in the 101st Airborne's 2nd Brigade, one of the additional units ordered to Afghanistan last year by President Obama to try to stem what military commanders acknowledged had become a worsening insurgency.

His platoon arrived in June with more than 20 men. But after being sent to a small U.S. base called Combat Outpost Nolen, it was down to fewer than a dozen by August.

Several soldiers lost limbs or suffered such severe injuries that they had to be flown home. Others, like Milton, have been sent to the rear in hope that they can recover and return to duty.

Milton was injured during a supply mission in July. He was traveling in one of the Army's heavily armored mine-resistant ambush-protected vehicles when a bomb detonated beneath it and blasted the front end skyward.

Then the vehicle slammed to the ground, and "all I remember is grabbing the gunner" in the rooftop turret to keep from being thrown out, Milton said.

He suffered a compressed spine. Army medics gave him painkillers so he could remain with his squad, because his dwindling unit needed every available man. That suited Milton, who couldn't stand the thought of leaving.

"I didn't want to be evacuated," he said. "I had to be there for my soldiers."

But the drugs only masked his injuries, and his back gave out three weeks later as he was carrying a soldier who had collapsed from the heat.

He was taken by helicopter to the U.S. air base near Kandahar, and after rest and physical therapy, was moved to Forward Operating Base Wilson, closer to his unit in Arghandab.

Doctors prescribed more painkillers, but he stopped taking them, convinced that they exacerbated his injuries.

"They had me so doped up before that I didn't know I was injured," he said.

*****

Milton's back is covered with a large tattoo of an ankh, an Egyptian cross with a loop at the top that is an ancient symbol for "life."

His girlfriend, Sarah Hosni, the mother of his 2-year-old son, comes from a Muslim family, and though she and Milton are Christians, he has an affinity for her parents' faith. He got the tattoo the week before his son was born, what he says is a personal reminder of his ties to Christianity and Islam.

Just as he had a desire to return to combat despite his pessimism about the war, he defends Islam even though it is not his faith. He said that three times he has almost gotten into a fight with fellow soldiers who disparaged the religion.

He is an imposing man, well over 6 feet tall, who talks bluntly about the need to kill the enemy in almost the same breath that he discusses his deep faith that "God is taking care of us out here."

Before he joined the Army, he was studying culinary arts, hoping to become a chef. There's a deeply personal reason: Learning about food, he said, could enable him to help his mother, a diabetic.

It's clear that he would rather be doing something other than soldiering.

And the longer he spent away from his unit, the more Milton began to question his treatment. He became angry when he was told that he must delay surgery to mend his bulging discs, a decision he says is part of an unspoken Army policy of trying to return as many injured soldiers as possible to duty to keep troop numbers up.

"The reality is that they said I might need surgery, but my commander deferred it," he said.

Maj. Larry Porter, a spokesman for the 2nd Brigade of the 101st Airborne Division, acknowledged that many soldiers are being treated "in theater" but said Milton's claim that soldiers were being kept in Afghanistan when their injuries warranted being sent home was "totally false."

"We are finding out that soldiers with minor or rehabilitating injuries are receiving more personalized care … than they would in the States and that this cuts down on the recovery time, transportation, and sometimes they can perform another job that is still required," Porter said.

As the weeks at Wilson passed, Milton's back slowly improved. But he still walked gingerly and was awakened four or five times a night by shooting pains.

*****

U.S. commanders have said that securing Kandahar city, the birthplace of the Taliban, is a major objective for the year. They've been working since early summer to choke off insurgent access by controlling the surrounding countryside.

But the strategy has run into difficulty in the Arghandab River Valley, a fertile belt of pomegranate groves, vineyards and dusty villages used by insurgents as a staging ground to conduct attacks in Kandahar.

After Milton was evacuated at the end of July, several infantry platoons rotated into Nolen and other outposts. A nearby village once riddled with hidden bombs and used by insurgents is now under U.S. control, commanders say.

The fighting at Nolen has been so intense that a therapist on the 101st Airborne Division staff has traveled there multiple times to evaluate soldiers for symptoms of post-traumatic stress disorder and for brain injuries caused by bomb explosions, said Lt. Col. Michael Wirt, the brigade physician.

Despite the daily trauma, Wirt isn't surprised that soldiers such as Milton prefer to fight through their injuries.

"Most soldiers don't want to be pulled out," he said. "They don't want to leave their fellow soldiers. There's a significant degree of guilt, especially among noncommissioned officers."

In late September, Milton was sent back to Nolen to rejoin his unit. His back wasn't fully healed, so he was assigned to a desk job. His commander told him to help keep up morale until he can return to combat.

About that, too, Milton is conflicted. He resents the decision to hold off on surgery on his back. But then he thinks about his unit.

"My choice," he said, "is to stay here in hell with them until we all go home."

http://www.latimes.com/news/nationworld/world/la-fg-soldiering-on-20101024,0,2866451.story

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« Reply #1638 on: Oct 24th, 2010, 09:52am »

Telegraph

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Ministers plan huge sell-off of Britain's forests
Ministers are planning a massive sell-off of Britain's Government-owned forests as they seek to save billions of pounds to help cut the deficit, The Sunday Telegraph has learnt.

By Patrick Hennessy and Rebecca Lefort
Published: 8:30PM BST 23 Oct 2010

Caroline Spelman, the Environment Secretary, is expected to announce plans within days to dispose of about half of the 748,000 hectares of woodland overseen by the Forestry Commission by 2020.

The controversial decision will pave the way for a huge expansion in the number of Center Parcs-style holiday villages, golf courses, adventure sites and commercial logging operations throughout Britain as land is sold to private companies.

Legislation which currently governs the treatment of "ancient forests" such as the Forest of Dean and Sherwood Forest is likely to be changed giving private firms the right to cut down trees.

Laws governing Britain's forests were included in the Magna Carta of 1215, and some date back even earlier.

Conservation groups last night called on ministers to ensure that the public could still enjoy the landscape after the disposal, which will see some woodland areas given to community groups or charitable organisations.

However, large amounts of forests will be sold as the Department for the Environment Food and Rural Affairs (Defra) seeks to make massive budget savings as demanded in last week's Spending Review.

Whitehall sources said about a third of the land to be disposed of would be transferred to other ownership before the end of the period covered by the Spending Review, between 2011 and 2015, with the rest expected to go by 2020.

A source close to the department said: "We are looking to energise our forests by bringing in fresh ideas and investment, and by putting conservation in the hands of local communities."

Unions vowed to fight the planned sell-off. Defra was one of the worst-hit Whitehall departments under the Spending Review, with Ms Spelman losing around 30 per cent of her current £2.9 billion annual budget by 2015.

The Forestry Commission, whose estate was valued in the 1990s at £2.5 billion, was a quango which was initially thought to be facing the axe as ministers drew up a list of arms-length bodies to be culled.

However, when the final list was published earlier this month it was officially earmarked: "Retain and substantially reform – details of reform will be set out by Defra later in the autumn as part of the Government's strategic approach to forestry in England."

A spokesman for the National Trust said: "Potentially this is an opportunity. It would depend on which 50 per cent of land they sold off, if it is valuable in terms of nature, conservation and landscape, or of high commercial value in terms of logging.

"We will take a fairly pragmatic approach and look at each sale on a case by case basis, making sure the land goes to the appropriate organisations for the right sites, making sure the public can continue to enjoy the land."

Mark Avery, conservation director for the Royal Society for the Protection of Birds (RSPB) said: "You can understand why this Government would think 'why does the state need to be in charge of growing trees', because there are lots of people who make a living from growing trees.

"But the Forestry Commission does more than just grow trees. A lot of the work is about looking after nature and landscapes."

"We would be quite relaxed about the idea of some sales, but would be unrelaxed if the wrong bits were up for sale like the New Forest, Forest of Dean or Sherwood Forest, which are incredibly valuable for wildlife and shouldn't be sold off.

"We would look very carefully at what was planned. It would be possible to sell 50 per cent if it was done in the right way."

A Defra spokesman said: "Details of the Government's strategic approach to forestry will be set out later in the autumn.

"We will ensure our forests continue to play a full role in our efforts to combat climate change, protect the environment and enhance biodiversity, provide green space for access and recreation, alongside seeking opportunities to support modernisation and growth in the forestry sector."

Allan MacKenzie, secretary of the Forestry Commission Trade Unions, said: "We will oppose any land sale. Once we've sold it, it never comes back.

"Once it is sold restrictions are placed on the land which means the public don't get the same access to the land and facilities that are provided by the public forest estate.

"The current system means a vast amount of people can enjoy forests and feel ownership of them. It is an integral part of society."

In 1992 John Major's Conservative government – also looking to save money in a recession – drew up plans to privatise the Forestry Commission's giant estate, which ranges from huge conifer plantations to small neighbourhood woodlands.

John Gummer, then the Agriculture Minister, wrote to cabinet colleagues saying that he 'wanted to raise money and get the forest estate out of the private sector'. Mr Major backed the sell- off which, it was hoped, would raise £1 billion.

However it was later abandoned following a study by a group of senior civil servants, amid widespread public opposition.


http://www.telegraph.co.uk/earth/countryside/8082756/Ministers-plan-huge-sell-off-of-Britains-forests.html

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« Reply #1639 on: Oct 24th, 2010, 09:59am »

Hollywood Reporter

Syfy orders new 'Battlestar Galactica' series pilot
October 22
by James Hibberd
NBC/Universal

Holy frak!

Syfy has just ordered a new "Battlestar Galactica" series pilot.

The two-hour backdoor pilot chronicles a young William Adama's adventures during the first Cylon war.

BSG executive producer David Eick is back on board, though visionary showrunner of Syfy's first reinvention of the series, Ron Moore, is not.

The title is the very Spartacus-esque: Battlestar Galactica: Blood & Chrome

Official description:
Battlestar Galactica: Blood & Chrome takes place in the 10th year of the first Cylon war. As the battle between humans and their creation, a sentient robotic race, rages across the 12 colonial worlds, a brash rookie viper pilot enters the fray. Ensign William Adama, barely in his 20’s and a recent Academy graduate, finds himself assigned to the newest battlestar in the Colonial fleet… the Galactica. The talented but hot-headed risk-taker soon finds himself leading a dangerous top secret mission that, if successful, will turn the tide of the decade long war in favor of the desperate fleet.

“The ‘Galactica’ universe as re-imagined by Ron Moore and David Eick is rich with possibilities and backstory,” said Syfy programming head Mark Stern. “We jumped at the chance to revisit the William Adama character and explore this exciting chapter in the BSG narrative which falls between the events of the original series and the prequel, ‘Caprica,’ currently airing on Syfy.”

“While maintaining the themes of politics, social propaganda, and the timeless question: what does it mean to be human? – ‘Blood & Chrome’ will also return us to the authentic, relentless depiction of combat and the agony and ecstasy of human-Cylon war, which was the hallmark of ‘Battlestar Galactica's’ early seasons,” said David Eick.

Still no word on whether Syfy's other BSG series, Caprica, will get a second season. Syfy says they have not yet decided, and stressed that the Blood & Chrome order will not impact the fate of Caprica (obviously with the Stargate franchise Syfy showed they're willing to have overlapping titles from the same creative universe as long as each pulls its weight).

http://www.hollywoodreporter.com/blogs/live-feed/syfy-orders-new-battlestar-galactica-32184

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« Reply #1640 on: Oct 24th, 2010, 3:49pm »

on Oct 23rd, 2010, 6:22pm, WingsofCrystal wrote:
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Crystal



smiley

on Oct 23rd, 2010, 7:46pm, WingsofCrystal wrote:
The Northern Light is our local newspaper. I was surprised to see the following announcement:

On The Horizon

Potluck and Theater: Saturday, October 30, noon. Ron Snyder talks about Sasquatch experiences. Bring your favorite dish. Blaine Senior Center, 763 G Street.

http://www.thenorthernlight.com/calendar

What a hoot! I'm dragging my husband to this. He just doesn't know it yet. grin
Crystal


Sounds very cool. I'm sure you both will enjoy it. smiley
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« Reply #1641 on: Oct 24th, 2010, 3:53pm »

on Oct 24th, 2010, 3:49pm, philliman wrote:
smiley

Sounds very cool. I'm sure you both will enjoy it. smiley


Good Sunday Phil. Sasquatch stories are always fun. Unless you are the one looking right at him. Then I would imagine it is spooky.
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« Reply #1642 on: Oct 24th, 2010, 7:01pm »

http://www.examiner.com/ufo-in-national/ufo-defcon-national-rating-system-alerts-public-to-ufo-hot-spots

Examiner

UFO DEFCON national rating system: alerts public to UFO hot spots


by Roger Marsh
UFO Examiner
October 23rd, 2010 6:36 pm ET

The "UFO DEFCON" national rating system is a new tool employed by UFO Examiner Roger Marsh to help alert the public to UFO hot spots, trends, and watch areas.

The military DEFCON defense readiness alert posture invented in 1959 for the Joint Chiefs of Staff allowed various military commands to use the same system of alertness. The UFO designation is being added to this already popular name to aid public awareness of UFOs.

As with the military system, a UFO DEFCON 5 is the lowest state of awareness, and a UFO DEFCON 1 is the highest awareness.

Marsh announced the new rating system during the web radio show UFO Traffic Report on Wednesday, October 20, 2010, and made the first UFO DEFCON ratings.

East Coast U.S. and Gulf States, DEFCON 4, with high concentration of reports; Missouri, Ohio, Virginia, DEFCON 3, with two or more CE-1 and CE-2 cases within 7 days. Closely watching Idaho and Louisiana now and following up on recent reports.

Marsh has used other mainstream terms to help make UFO reporting popular. In 2009, he began writing the UFO Traffic Report along with his regular UFO features. And in 2010 with the addition of a web radio show with co-host Michael Rambacher, Marsh introduced the UFO Witness Protection Program segment as a way to allow the most recent UFO witnesses to come forward with details.

The UFO DEFCON ratings will now be used in all of Marsh's daily writing as the National UFO Examiner at Examiner.com, including the popular UFO Traffic Reports. The system will also be used during the weekly web radio show.

Marsh stresses that these ratings are based on casual data from selected reports coming into the Mutual UFO Network (MUFON) witness reporting database. "There's not a lot of science behind it," Marsh said. "It's pretty simple. If I cover five CE-2s in a single state over a period of just one week, all Close Encounters of the Second Kind, or where the witness observes a UFO under 500 feet in each case - then it's probably a good call to move that state up to a higher UFO DEFCON rating to get public awareness going that something is happening. It might move people outside to look up for a few days and help improve UFO sighting reports."

Marsh and Rambacher are also developing the "Paranormal Traffic Report" and the "Paranormal Witness Protection Program" for upcoming web radio show segments.
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« Reply #1643 on: Oct 24th, 2010, 7:36pm »

"East Coast U.S. and Gulf States, DEFCON 4, with high concentration of reports; Missouri, Ohio, Virginia, DEFCON 3, with two or more CE-1 and CE-2 cases within 7 days. Closely watching Idaho and Louisiana now and following up on recent reports."

Great article, thanks Swamprat.
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« Reply #1644 on: Oct 25th, 2010, 08:48am »

New York Times

October 24, 2010
Stories of Hope and Hardship of ‘Los 33’
By ALEXEI BARRIONUEVO and SIMON ROMERO

COPIAPÓ, Chile — José Ojeda can barely sleep without the comfort of a miner nearby to confide in when dreams shake him awake. Omar Reygadas, a great-grandfather more used to comforting than being comforted, cries easily. And Edison Peña, the miner who kept himself grounded by running miles underground most days, was hospitalized last week for emotional distress.

It has been 12 days since viewers around the globe watched, captivated, as one by one the 33 miners trapped in the San José Mine near here were pulled from nearly half a mile beneath the Atacama Desert. While the world has begun to move on, the men left behind are just starting to grapple with the enormousness of what happened to them.

They have, so far, remained mostly true to one another and the promises they made to speak only on their own terms.

Some details of the men’s ordeal have slowly slipped out, as many news organizations vied for their attention — flashing money or all-expense-paid trips to other countries to sit for interviews.

But the men have resisted breaking a pact they made to keep the most gripping details of their two months in captivity to themselves in the hopes that together they can secure book or movie deals, as well as build their best case for a lawsuit against the mine. They have held especially close what happened in the first 17 days after the gold and copper mine collapsed, the time before they knew rescuers were still searching for them.

In interviews over the past several days with The New York Times, four miners who agreed to speak without pay offered a view into the intense emotional struggles they faced underground, and now above.

Mr. Reygadas, 56 — the 17th miner to be rescued and one of the oldest to have been trapped — spoke the longest, for more than two hours.

He said he entered his first mine at 7, with his father, who was a miner. He does not scare easily; he survived two previous collapses at the San José Mine and narrowly escaped a third that killed another miner. But in the first days after the latest cave-in in August, he said, he cried, rolling over on his damp cardboard bed to face the wall so no one could see.

“I’m not embarrassed to say I cried, but I cried from helplessness,” he said. “I’d be lying if I said I wasn’t scared too, but I knew how to keep it inside to avoid sparking fear in others.”

Mr. Reygadas said he was loading his truck just before going to lunch on Aug. 5 when he felt what seemed like an explosion. The pressure from falling rock “almost blew out” his ears, he said. The next sound he heard was miners shouting. Another miner, Yonny Barrios, 50, said “his ears felt like they were being sucked from one side to the other.”

The men began to search for their friends. It would take eight hours before they knew no one had died.

But whatever relief they felt was short-lived. Within hours, the men were faced with a fateful choice. There was a way out, through a ventilation shaft. But after discovering that the ladder there was too short, they knew all they could do was wait.

Two days later, a boulder rolled into the shaft, sealing it for good.

This is where the narrative goes silent. Like the three other miners interviewed — and those who have spoken to other media — Mr. Ojeda, a 24-year-veteran of the mines, refuses to go into great detail over what happened in the next two weeks, as men wilted in the heat and shrank, their tiny rations of tuna and crackers too meager to do much more than keep them alive.

The story picks up again on Day 17, when the rescuers’ drill bit pierced the roof of their refuge, starting the clock for their eventual freeing.

After that, the men say, there were many more light moments, despite the uncertainties of an unprecedented rescue plan. One day Mario Sepúlveda, one of the group’s most extroverted figures, donned a makeshift blonde wig and impersonated the millionaire philanthropist Leonardo Farkas offering to give the miners jobs, Mr. Reygadas said. (Mr. Farkas, in reality, gave each of the miners about $10,000.)

The men’s stories also reveal the emotional confines they imposed on themselves. Any miner who got out of line had to stand in front of the other 32 and ask to be forgiven, Mr. Ojeda said.

The craving for sleep was a running theme.

It was hot, about 86 degrees Fahrenheit, and humid. The men tore the seats from their trucks for makeshift mattresses, but there were not enough to go around and some nights, Mr. Reygadas said, they simply had to sleep, shirtless in the heat, atop the rocks. Mr. Ojeda said he would often wake in the middle of the night and talk to the miner sleeping next to him until they could fall asleep again.

Another miner, Víctor Segovia, 48, wrote a letter to his family detailing a nightmare he had. In it, the men were trapped, but in an oven.

Some of the men focused on those waiting for them above. “Inside my heart, I thought of my family,” said Carlos Mamani, 24, of Bolivia, the lone immigrant in the group. “I talked to God.”

Psychologists treating the men through telephone and video links from the surface were worried enough about them that they began filtering virtually everything family members sent down a relief shaft. Cheery letters were all right; notes about troubles at home were not. Some letters were never delivered and others were edited, according to Mr. Ojeda, who called the actions “unjust.”

After about two weeks, the miners demanded that the censorship stop, arguing they were not as vulnerable as they seemed.

But medical officials remained cautious. Psychologists selected the movies that the men watched on a cloth hung on a cave wall using a smart-phone-size video projector. They were allowed to view Mr. Bean and Jackie Chan movies, but not films about natural disasters or terror.

“We wanted them to relax and enjoy, not get into deep reflection,” said Alberto Iturra, the lead psychologist dealing with the miners. Eventually, the psychologists stopped filtering what went down the hole, feeling the men were stable enough.

In the end, the psychologists could not prepare the men for everything. Not the shock of stepping from the isolation of their cocoonlike rescue craft into the worldwide media glare. Not the reporters who camped outside their hospitals and homes. And not the shock of leaving “los 33,” as they called themselves, to return to their other lives.

Mr. Reygadas said he had grown so close to Franklin Lobos, a miner who had played professional soccer, that he jokingly called him “his old lady.” If one was asleep, the other made sure he saved food for his friend when it arrived down the borehole.

One thing the men were ready for was the lust for their story. They learned that lesson firsthand, from a group of Uruguayans who had survived a 1972 airplane accident in the Andes, depicted in the 1993 movie “Alive.” The group paid the miners a visit and chatted with them via the modified telephone, Mr. Reygadas said. He said they counseled the miners to “not give away too much,” as they felt they had.

Since the rescue, some men have been drinking heavily, according to Dr. Iturra and some of the miners. And several have shown signs of emotional distress.

At a dinner in their honor on Tuesday, Mr. Peña, the runner, broke down when addressing reporters. Mr. Sepúlveda grabbed him firmly by the shoulders and neck and whispered something in his ear, but Mr. Peña refused to leave the stage.

“Thank you for believing we were alive,” Mr. Peña said slowly, his voice cracking. “Thank you for believing we were alive.”

He was hospitalized the next day. (He has since been released.)

Dr. Iturra, the psychologist, placed part of the blame on the array of post-rescue options Mr. Peña was offered, including an invitation to run a marathon in New York City.

“These things demand a lot of strength, and this is generating a lot of anguish,” Dr. Iturra told a local radio station.

Mr. Peña may have had another fear as well — that when the men’s moment was over, they would find themselves forgotten and without work. He said as much, one day while surrounded by reporters.

“After all these interviews are over you can ask us what we’re doing,” he said. “We’re going to be selling candy in the plaza.”

Aaron Nelsen and Pascale Bonnefoy contributed reporting.

http://www.nytimes.com/2010/10/25/world/americas/25chile.html?_r=1&ref=world

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« Reply #1645 on: Oct 25th, 2010, 08:56am »

Science Daily

Even Turtles Need Recess: Many Animals -- Not Just Dogs, Cats, and Monkeys -- Need a Little Play Time
ScienceDaily (Oct. 24, 2010) —

Seeing a child or a dog play is not a foreign sight. But what about a turtle or even a wasp?

Apparently, they play, too.

In fact, according to Gordon Burghardt, a psychology professor at the University of Tennessee, Knoxville, many animals -- not just dogs, cats, and monkeys -- need a little play time.

"I studied the behavior of baby and juvenile reptiles for many years and never saw anything that I thought was play. Then I had an epiphany when I saw Pigface, a Nile softshell turtle, batting around a basketball at the National Zoo in Washington, D.C. I realized reptiles play, too," said Burghardt.

Burghardt's findings are discussed in the October issue of The Scientist. To read the article and view Burghardt's videos of various animals playing, visit http://www.the-scientist.com/2010/10/1/44/1/.

The article, entitled "Recess," highlights Burghardt's five criteria for play. Burghardt is one of the first researchers to define "play" in people and also in species not previously thought capable of play, such as fish, reptiles and invertebrates. Topics raised in the article appeared in Burghardt's book, "The Genesis of Animal Play -- Testing the Limits."

Burghardt sums up his five criteria in one sentence: "Play is repeated behavior that is incompletely functional in the context or at the age in which it is performed and is initiated voluntarily when the animal or person is in a relaxed or low-stress setting."

According to Burghardt, by more accurately characterizing play and observing it throughout the entire animal kingdom, humans may better understand themselves.

"In animals we can evaluate more carefully the role of play in learning skills, maintaining physical and mental fitness, improving social relationships and so on than we can in people," said Burghardt. "We can then develop ideas and apply them to people to see if the same dynamics are at work. For example, the role of play in lessening the effects of attention deficit hyperactivity disorder in children is being studied based on research in rats."

Play has already helped therapy with disturbed children. Also, studies are under way on the beneficial role of active and intellectually stimulating leisure for retirees. Similarly, jobs that resemble play are highly coveted by humans.

"Human children and adults often want to do enjoyable self-rewarding activities and will work hard to have the opportunity to do so. For the luckiest people, their work is itself play when it meets the five criteria," said Burghardt.

Burghardt's research illustrates how play is embedded in species' biology, including in the brain. Play, as much of animals' psychology including emotions, motivations, perceptions and intellect, is part of their evolutionary history and not just random, meaningless behavior, he said.

"Play is an integral part of life and may make a life worth living."


http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2010/10/101019132045.htm

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« Reply #1646 on: Oct 25th, 2010, 08:59am »

Wired

Feds Plot ‘Near Human’ Robot Docs, Farmers, Troops
By Katie Drummond October 22, 2010 | 10:48 am | Categories: DarpaWatch

Robots are already vacuuming our carpets, heading into combat and assisting docs on medical procedures. Get ready for a next generation of “near human” bots that’ll do a lot more: independently perform surgeries, harvest our crops and herd our livestock, and even administer drugs from within our own bodies.

Those are only a few of the suggested applications for robots in a massive new federal research program. The military’s blue-sky research arm, Darpa, is pairing up with four other agencies, including the National Institutes of Health, the United States Department of Agriculture, the National Science Foundation, and the Department of Homeland Security, to launch a major push that’d revolutionize robotic capabilities and put bots pretty much everywhere, from hospitals to dude ranches to “explosive atmospheres.”

In a single mega-solicitation for small business proposals, the agencies note that robotics technology is “poised for explosive growth,” thanks to rapid improvements in microprocessing, algorithms and sensors. Of course, Darpa’s been behind much of the progress. The agency has already launched programs to create a real-life C3PO, a bot that can match human intellect and a four-legged BigDog robo-beast. Not to mention the organization’s ongoing research into cognition and neural control, including efforts to map monkey minds to yield neurally controlled prosthetics.

Now, other agencies want to capitalize on progress in robotics to transform their own fields. The National Institutes of Health (NIH) is after “robotic applications to surgery,” as well as “computerized therapist personalities [and] artificial intelligence capable of real time monitoring” along with patient interaction and day-to-day care-taking tasks. And robots won’t just be health care providers — the NIH is also interested in organ- and limb-replacement robotics, including advanced prosthetics and “implantable smart robotics for monitoring/drug delivery.”

The USDA is looking at an agricultural-bot takeover that would reduce labor costs and streamline production and food-safety checks. The agency wants robots that’d be responsible for crop harvesting, sorting and inspecting, along with “detecting ripeness, physical damage [and] microbial contamination.” Robots would also rule over animal herds, taking on tasks like “sorting, vaccinating [and] deworming” large numbers of livestock.

Where national defense is concerned, invincible bots are the top priority. The Department of Homeland Security is looking for beyond-tough bomb-handlers and surveillance bots, capable of carrying 50-pound loads in a single arm, traversing stairs and “corrugated drainage pipes” and working “in an explosive atmosphere” or through tunnels filled with “debris, mud and water.”

And while Darpa’s innovations are fueling much of the progress in civilian and military robotics development, the agency is harnessing this mega-program to make even more improvements in fundamental robot technology. Along with the National Science Foundation (NSF), they’re after bots “that have near-human capability.” That means research into mechanical actuators that can “meet or exceed the safety and efficacy of human muscle,” as well as better insight into the human brain, to “reverse-engineer” biological processes and then incorporate them into next-gen robots.

Combined, the solicitations are after a sweeping robotic proliferation, including bots that can “safely co-exist in close proximity or in physical contact with humans.” It’s a freaky prospect, and our robot overlords might take some getting used to. As the solicitation notes, “the creation of trust in human-robot interactions” remains a top priority.


http://www.wired.com/dangerroom/2010/10/darpa-leads-push-for-near-human-robot-doctors-farmers-troops/

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« Reply #1647 on: Oct 25th, 2010, 09:06am »

Telegraph

Thrill the World 2010: zombies dance to Michael Jackson's Thriller in cities around the world

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http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/picturegalleries/howaboutthat/8085627/Thrill-the-World-2010-zombies-dance-to-Michael-Jacksons-Thriller-in-cities-around-the-world.html

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« Reply #1648 on: Oct 25th, 2010, 09:10am »

Telegraph

Political correctness ends 'Vice Squad' name
Scotland Yard's famous Vice Squad has been renamed to reflect the new era of political correctness.

By David Barrett, Home Affairs Correspondent
Published: 9:15AM BST 24 Oct 2010

Scotland Yard's famous Vice Squad, which deals with prostitution and other aspects of London's underworld, has changed its title to the rather less dynamic "Serious Crime Directorate 9: Human Exploitation and Organised Crime Command", or SCD9 for short.

The explanation is one that would draw a robust response from DCI Hunt, the old-school detective from BBC One's Life on Mars and Ashes to Ashes.

Metropolitan Police sources said the switch had been ordered in part because the word "vice" was thought to have negative "connotations".

It reflects a growing trend by law enforcement agencies to treat prostitutes as victims rather than as offenders.

Over the decades the Vice Squad have led some of Met's most celebrated cases. Its detectives had dealings with Ronnie and Reggie Kray when the gangster twins moved into running nightclubs in the 1960s.

The Profumo affair, which threatened to topple Harold Macmillan's Conservative government, also involved officers from Vice.

After Christine Keeler, the London call girl, was exposed as having had affairs with both John Profumo, the war secretary, and Yevgeny Ivanov, a Soviet attache, her friend Stephen Ward was charged by police with living off immoral earnings.

It was the Vice Squad that led the prosecution of Cynthia Payne, the "Luncheon Voucher Madam", whose south London brothel catering for older men was raided in 1978.

She was sentenced to 18 months' imprisonment, and her life inspired the 1987 feature film Personal Services, starring Julie Walters.

Alan Moss, a police historian and former Met chief superintendent, said: "The jargon of modern policing, with all the numbers and letters, is confusing for the public and probably for people in the police as well.

"I think the names of different squads should bear the name of what they do, and the crime they are trying to combat."

The Vice Squad formed part of the wider "Clubs and Vice" unit, with detectives based at West End Central police station in Covent Garden – a stone's throw from Soho, the capital's traditional red light district.

Vice Squad helped officers across the city deal with brothels and streetwalkers.

It was established in 1932 as "8 Area Clubs and Vice Unit", and at one point during the Second World War it operated out of a pub in Leicester Square because its headquarters had been requisitioned by the Aliens Registration Office.

Another team now part of SCD9 is the former Obscene Publications Unit, also known as the "Dirty Squad", which targeted pornography and exploitative material.

Detective Chief Superintendent Richard Martin, head of SCD9, said the name change was necessary was because Clubs and Vice had taken on wider responsibilities for areas such as human trafficking, which meant the old title was no longer appropriate.

"We are very proud of our heritage but the team and I are very comfortable with the new name because it reflects the changing nature of what we do," he said.

"Our role is constantly evolving. While once the unit just dealt with on-street prostitution we now tackle international trafficking in highly complex covert operations."

A Scotland Yard spokeswoman said: "When it was announced Home Office funding was ending for the Human Trafficking Team the Metropolitan Police Service reviewed its response to human trafficking and immigration crime.

"This resulted in a reorganisation to ensure that we retain the capability to support victims and mount investigations against traffickers.

"The former Clubs and Vice team, which previously sat within Central Operations, moved over to the command of the Specialist Crime Directorate.

"It was renamed SCD9, the Human Exploitation and Organised Crime Command, to reflect its changed work remit."


http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/uknews/crime/8082751/Political-correctness-ends-Vice-Squad-name.html

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« Reply #1649 on: Oct 25th, 2010, 3:06pm »

Defense News

Rolling Robot Keeps Watch
MDARS Uses Cameras, Sensors To Monitor Radioactive Site
By WILLIAM MATTHEWS

Published: 25 October 2010

Using military-grade GPS signals, the MDARS robot knows where it is, within a few inches, at all times. Its programmed electronic brain knows precisely where it's going, and its laser vision and cameras spot any obstacles in its way.

MDARS - a mobile detection assessment response system - is a four-wheeled, high-tech robot that has been conducting security patrols on the vast Nevada National Security Site for almost a month.

The Rhode Island-size swath of desert and arid mountains is where the U.S. military tested hundreds of nuclear weapons during four decades of the Cold War. Formerly called the Nevada Test Site, the area is pocked with craters left from above-ground and underground nuclear explosions, and it has been identified as one of the most radioactively contaminated places in the United States.

Even though nuclear test explosions were halted in 1992, an area now referred to as "Plutonium Valley" remains so radioactive that it is used for radiation detection training. On other parts of the 1,360-square-mile test site, storage tanks hold radioactive material, and burial sites receive a steady stream of low-level nuclear waste.

The remains of concrete and steel bunkers and other test structures jut from the parched ground where they were built to determine how well they would withstand nuclear blasts.

There are historic areas, such as Jackass Flats, where engineers in the 1960s tested a nuclear ramjet engine and a nuclear rocket motor. And there's a 300-foot-deep, 1,300-foot-wide crater dug by a 1962 test to see whether nuclear weapons might be used to dig harbors and canals.

At a transportation incident exercise area, emergency personnel train for radiological terrorist attacks using decommissioned helicopters, planes, trucks, trains and cars as props.

Meanwhile, nonexplosive testing of nuclear weapons continues in test site laboratories. There are 1,100 buildings, 700 miles of roads, a pair of airstrips and 10 helicopter landing pads.

Once a month, the site admits tourists. Photo identifications are required; no cameras, recorders or binoculars are allowed.

Security has always been tight at the test site, but now it's getting tighter "to be compliant with what's being buried at the site," said Stephen Scott, a security engineer at the site.

Security requirements for the site's waste burial areas are that "you have to be able to observe it," Scott said.

Posting guards around the clock was deemed prohibitively expensive. Installing cameras and motion detectors would require towers and lighting and miles of buried power lines, an undertaking priced at more than $6 million.

By comparison, patrolling robots that cost $590,000 apiece seemed a bargain.

About the size of a golf cart, the MDARS robots are powered by four-cylinder diesel engines that propel them up to 20 miles per hour. As they move, the robots keep watch over the area they're patrolling with an intrusion-detection video camera during the day and an infrared video camera at night.

Those cameras work in conjunction with a high-resolution radar that is tuned to detect crawling, walking or running intruders in the dark and through smoke, fog, dust and precipitation at a range of 1,200 feet.

If the robot spots something suspicious, it alerts an operator, who decides what to do next. He has a couple of options: call in security personnel, or send the robot in to take a closer look. Using a two-way audio system on the robot, the operator can question suspicious persons, said Brian Frederick, MDARS program manager for the robot's maker, General Dynamics.

For now, at least, the robot is unarmed, so if it detects intruders, the operator will have to dispatch security personnel to the scene, Frederick said.

In addition to searching for intruders and other threats, the robot is able to read radio frequency identification (RFID) tags that tell it whether locks are locked and gates are properly shut, whether vehicles are parked where they're supposed to be, and whether earth-moving equipment used to bury nuclear waste is accounted for, Scott said.

Using RFID tags, MDARS robots can also conduct inventory checks of weapons bunkers and warehouses along their assigned patrol routes.

"These things are really extremely intelligent," Scott said. They can be set in "mission mode" to patrol along predetermined routes, searching for intruders, checking locks and the like. Or they can be set in "scripted mode," in which they will patrol for a while, then stop and turn off their engines and "go into silent surveillance mode," during which the cameras and radar operate on battery power. "Then they will start up again and resume regular patrolling," Scott said.

When a new robot arrives, its operators must program it to perform the work they want done. All roadways, intersections, way points, terrain, buildings and other details must be recorded in the robot's memory. So, too, must the security checks to be performed and actions to take when potential threats are detected.

That process can take months. The Nevada site received three robots this summer and has had one on patrol since Sept. 30, Scott said. A second one is being programmed and is expected to be ready for use in January, and a third by April. Two more are expected to arrive after that.


more after the jump
http://www.defensenews.com/story.php?i=4965009&c=FEA&s=TEC

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