Re: Stuff & Nonsense
« Reply #1712 on: Oct 30th, 2010, 7:16pm »
Top NASA astronaut discloses shuttle encounter with disc UFO Submitted by Dirk Vander Ploeg on Sat, 10/30/2010 - 15:29 by Terrence Avm
In a bombshell story, a former SCO of NASA's space shuttle fleet announced that he and NASA know that ETs are real.
Clark C. McClelland, a senior member of MUFON from 1958 to 1992, has revealed in the Canadian press that secret details of an amazing incident occurred during the STS-80 mission aboard the space shuttle Columbia. Top space officials rushed to hush it up.
According to internal reports—confirmed by Dr. Story Musgrave, a Payload Specialist crew member aboard the STS-80 Mission—a disc-shaped object much larger than the orbiting American spacecraft suddenly appeared beneath the shuttle. At the time the Columbia was maintaining an altitude 190 nautical miles above Earth.
Musgrave admitted that, although he got a good look at it, he wasn't able to identify the object. "I don't know what it is. Whether it's a washer, debris, ice particles, I don't know. But it's characteristic of the thousands of things which I've seen. What is not so characteristic is it appears to [have] come from nowhere. You would think that if it's facing the dark side or facing a side towards you which is not reflecting the sun, you would think that you would see something there. It's really impressive."
After the shuttle returned to Earth, Musgrave was interviewed about the unworldly encounter. According to the report, the scientist reviewed a video recording of the encounter between Columbia and the UFO as the orbiter flew above Denver, Colorado. The disc-shaped object suddenly appeared, seemed to be intelligently controlled, changed its flight vector and—most unnerving of all—seemed to track the Columbia and her crew through space.
Re: Stuff & Nonsense
« Reply #1713 on: Oct 31st, 2010, 09:13am »
One more act for the phantom of the playhouse? Pasadena's storied theater is haunted by the ghost of its founder, believers say. They cite fiddling with the lights in the control booth, taking control of the elevator and moving things around as some of his tricks.
Some say Gilmor Brown, the charismatic founder of the playhouse, has been haunting the theater and adjacent office building since his death in 1960.
Alison Bell October 31, 2010
The Pasadena Playhouse is back. After shutting its doors in February because of financial problems, the theater reopened Oct. 12 with the one-man play "FDR" starring Ed Asner.
But is the building's most enduring protagonist back as well?
Some say Gilmor Brown, the charismatic founder of the playhouse, has been haunting the theater and adjacent office building since his death in 1960.
Brown's ghost has never been seen, but he's made his presence known in other ways, such as moving things around, stomping about and taking control of the elevator, according to Pasadena Playhouse archivist Ellen Bailey, who has been associated with the theater since the 1940s.
His intent has never been to scare or disrupt, said Bailey. "He's a helpful, friendly ghost. When he was alive, he wanted things a certain way, and he still does."
But the question is now: Is Gilmor's ghost still there? Or did he get lonely while the theater was empty and depart for happier haunting grounds?
Before his death, Brown poured his heart, soul and talent into the theater for over 30 years. He was born in North Dakota in 1886 and as a young man created an acting troupe called The Gilmor Brown Players.
In 1917, he established the Community Playhouse Assn. of Pasadena. In 1925, he founded and became the artistic director of the newly built Pasadena Community Playhouse, which was designed in the Spanish colonial revival style by noted Pasadena architect Elmer Grey.
The theater quickly rose to national prominence with the Southern California premieres of plays by William Saroyan, Noel Coward and Tennessee Williams, as well as the world premiere of Eugene O'Neill's "Lazarus Laughed."
In 1928, Brown established a school of theater arts. In 1937, the playhouse was declared the State Theater of California after it became the first American theater to perform the entire Shakespeare canon.
Many major talents passed through the school and theater, including Gene Hackman, Dustin Hoffman, William Holden, Raymond Burr and Sally Struthers. Brown remained at the helm of the playhouse until the late 1950s.
There are many tales of Brown's afterlife appearances, such as when in the late 1980s he was said to have lent a hand to a theater alumnus who was working on a set late at night. As the graduate was carrying a heavy set piece down the hall, he felt the other end being lifted up and carried, according to Bailey. Having heard stories about Gilmor's ghost, the man was spooked at first, and he ran out of the building. But eventually he figured that if Gilmor was going to help him, let him. "He went back with renewed energy and finished the set," Bailey said.
Brown, a perfectionist, would often keep actors at dress rehearsals into the wee hours until he was satisfied with their performances. According to Bailey, he would sit in the audience with his cat, and if the cat turned his back to the stage, that was Brown's cue that a scene needed to be tweaked.
And though both he and the cat are long gone, Brown has continued to make his disapproval clearly known, Bailey said. Once during a dress rehearsal, an overhead light crashed onto the stage. "We all knew it was Gilmor," she said. "The director said, 'OK, Gilmor, I'll fix that scene.'"
Another trick that Bailey said Brown used to play: fiddling with the lights in the control booth.
During intermission the technicians would lock the booth and take a break; when they returned, the settings on the lights would be changed.
And over the years, if anyone ever heard footsteps when no one was around, or a piece of paper or a prop mysteriously disappeared or got moved, they'd blame it on Brown, Bailey said.
Up until about a year ago, when the playhouse switched office space, Brown also regularly "visited" his former office on the third floor. Frequently, the elevator would stop at the floor even though no one pushed the button, said Bailey. The door would open and close, as if Brown himself were getting off.
Not everyone associated with the theater believes it's haunted, however. Sheldon Epps, the artistic director of the playhouse for the last 13 years, said that although he feels "a spiritual and artistic connection" with Brown, he's never picked up on a supernatural vibe.
But those who do believe are wondering: Where is Gilmor's ghost now?
Tom Ogden, a local ghost lore expert and the author of "Haunted Theaters," thinks Brown's attachment to the theater is so strong that a short closure wouldn't scare him away. He points out that the Pasadena Playhouse closed down once before because of financial problems for a much longer time, from 1969 to 1986, and says Brown's ghost stuck around then.
"My guess is it won't be long before we start hearing about new hauntings at the playhouse," he said.
In fact, such a "haunting" may have already taken place.
According to Bailey, when a production crew was in the playhouse readying the set of "FDR," a table tipped over and a drawer popped open. And what fell out? Photos of Gilmor Brown.
And that, she said, "tells me that he's still here."
Re: Stuff & Nonsense
« Reply #1714 on: Oct 31st, 2010, 09:28am »
Potatoes could boost water supplies Water extracted from potatoes could replace supplies from the tap and even provide drinking water in areas suffering from drought.
By Richard Gray, Science Correspondent Published: 10:00AM GMT 31 Oct 2010
New technology for extracting water from potatoes is being trialled by food giants PepsiCo, which owns the crisp manufacturer Walkers.
They are perfecting a process to capture water released from the potatoes as they are cooked into crisps before using it in the manufacturing process.
Engineers behind the project say they hope to be able to run entire factories using extracted potato water, meaning they can be unplugged entirely from the mains supply.
The water will initially be used in the manufacturing process to clean, peel and slice potatoes when they are brought in, but PepsiCo says it hopes to also provide tap and drinking water using the system in its factories.
The company even hopes that if it can produce enough excess water from potatoes it may be able to add to water supplies for local communities near their factories.
Martyn Seal, European sustainability director for PepsiCo, which has just launched a new report setting out its goals for sustainable farming in the UK, said: "About 75% of a potato is water, so there are a lot of natural resources in that potato we felt we should be tapping into and reusing.
"When we cook those potato slices while making crisps, the water normally escapes through chimneys in the roofs of our factories.
"We are doing some work to capture the water that goes out of those chimneys, treat it and then reuse it in the factory for the washing, peeling and slicing processes.
"We think this technology we are working on can capture enough water to allow us to take our factories of the mains supplies."
The company, which is trialing some of the technology at its plant in Skelmersdale, Lancashire, hopes that it will be able to capture around 3,000 litres of water every hour from its chimneys.
As the water comes from steam released during the cooking process it is already clean, but Mr Seal said it will be put through an additional purification process before being reused.
The firm hopes it will eventually be able to unplug all four of its UK crisp manufacturing sites from the mains water supplies.
Mr Seal added: "At a later stage we hope to be also be able to use this for domestic consumption to supply drinking water in our factories.
"At the moment we haven't got a massive amount of excess water that we could then use in other places, but we could potentially get there in the future, so it is feasible that we could provide additional water supplies for local communities.
"In areas where there are water scarcity issues, if we can take our factories off the mains supply, then that means there is more water available for the local community."
The move is the latest in a series of innovations being made by PepsiCo. Earlier this month the firm announced it intended to make environmentally friendly crisp packets from potato peelings.
It has also released ambitious targets to reduce its water and carbon emissions by more than 50% over the next five years with the help of a new precision farming technology called iCrop that will allow farmers to target fertiliser and water exactly where it is most needed in their fields.
The firm is also working with oat growers in Scotland to reduce their energy use.
Robert Balfour, 52, a farmer from Cupar, Fife, who grows oats for PespiCo's Quaker brand, is planning to install an anaerobic digester that will break down the husks left over from his oats and other crops to produce fertiliser that can be spread back onto his fields and gas that he hopes to use to power his farm.
He said: "Hopefully I will be able to set up a small gas pipeline that will allow me to send the gas to other locations where we need electricity and heat for the grain driers."
Re: Stuff & Nonsense
« Reply #1715 on: Oct 31st, 2010, 09:37am »
Halloween hauntings: William Hope's spirit photographs In the spirit of Halloween, brave a look at the spooky photographs of paranormal investigator William Hope (1863–1933), who used multiple exposure techniques to render the appearance of ghostly apparitions. Although his deception was publicly exposed in 1922, he continued to dabble in the dark arts.
Friday 29 October 2010 13.40 BST
A photograph of a group gathered at a seance. The information accompanying the spirit album states that the table is levitating – in reality the image of a ghostly arm has been superimposed over the table stand through double exposure
Re: Stuff & Nonsense
« Reply #1716 on: Oct 31st, 2010, 09:44am »
Sunday, October 31, 2010 Latest airport worry: TSA's new hands-on policy By Ron Judd
Prepare to be boarded, America.
Without notifying the public, the Transportation Security Administration (motto: "Projecting An Illusion of Security for a Tenth of a Century") has instituted a new, more aggressive hand search of passengers who set off metal detectors or refuse to be body scanned.
We're too shy to go into the fine details here, but suffice to say the more intensive procedure already is prompting new terminology.
Re: Stuff & Nonsense
« Reply #1717 on: Oct 31st, 2010, 09:46am »
Advance Could Change Modern Electronics ScienceDaily (Oct. 31, 2010) —
Researchers at Oregon State University have solved a quest in fundamental material science that has eluded scientists since the 1960s, and could form the basis of a new approach to electronics.
The discovery, just reported online in the professional journal Advanced Materials, outlines the creation for the first time of a high-performance "metal-insulator-metal" diode.
"Researchers have been trying to do this for decades, until now without success," said Douglas Keszler, a distinguished professor of chemistry at OSU. "Diodes made previously with other approaches always had poor yield and performance.
"This is a fundamental change in the way you could produce electronic products, at high speed on a huge scale at very low cost, even less than with conventional methods," Keszler said. "It's a basic way to eliminate the current speed limitations of electrons that have to move through materials."
A patent has been applied for on the new technology, university officials say. New companies, industries and high-tech jobs may ultimately emerge from this advance, they say.
The research was done in the Center for Green Materials Chemistry, and has been supported by the National Science Foundation, the Army Research Laboratory and the Oregon Nanoscience and Microtechnologies Institute.
Conventional electronics made with silicon-based materials work with transistors that help control the flow of electrons. Although fast and comparatively inexpensive, this approach is still limited by the speed with which electrons can move through these materials. And with the advent of ever-faster computers and more sophisticated products such as liquid crystal displays, current technologies are nearing the limit of what they can do, experts say.
By contrast, a metal-insulator-metal, or MIM diode can be used to perform some of the same functions, but in a fundamentally different way. In this system, the device is like a sandwich, with the insulator in the middle and two layers of metal above and below it. In order to function, the electron doesn't so much move through the materials as it "tunnels" through the insulator -- almost instantaneously appearing on the other side.
"When they first started to develop more sophisticated materials for the display industry, they knew this type of MIM diode was what they needed, but they couldn't make it work," Keszler said. "Now we can, and it could probably be used with a range of metals that are inexpensive and easily available, like copper, nickel or aluminum. It's also much simpler, less costly and easier to fabricate."
The findings were made by researchers in the OSU Department of Chemistry; School of Electrical Engineering and Computer Science; and School of Mechanical, Industrial and Manufacturing Engineering.
In the new study, the OSU scientists and engineers describe use of an "amorphous metal contact" as a technology that solves problems that previously plagued MIM diodes. The OSU diodes were made at relatively low temperatures with techniques that would lend themselves to manufacture of devices on a variety of substrates over large areas.
OSU researchers have been leaders in a number of important material science advances in recent years, including the field of transparent electronics. University scientists will do some initial work with the new technology in electronic displays, but many applications are possible, they say.
High speed computers and electronics that don't depend on transistors are possibilities. Also on the horizon are "energy harvesting" technologies such as the nighttime capture of re-radiated solar energy, a way to produce energy from the Earth as it cools during the night.
"For a long time, everyone has wanted something that takes us beyond silicon," Keszler said. "This could be a way to simply print electronics on a huge size scale even less expensively than we can now. And when the products begin to emerge the increase in speed of operation could be enormous."
Re: Stuff & Nonsense
« Reply #1719 on: Oct 31st, 2010, 2:48pm »
San Francisco, 12:33 PM Sun Oct 31 By Alasdair Wilkins
Hubble reveals what astronomers will see 10,000 years from now
We're used to images from space revealing the universe's distant past, but now the Hubble Space Telescope, with the help of a powerful computer simulation, has revealed the movements of a swarm of stars for the next 10,000 years.
Omega Centauri is a globular cluster home to about 10 million stars, all of which orbit around a common center of gravity. It's the brightest and biggest such cluster in the Milky Way, and at its densest, the stars are only a tenth of a light-year apart - that's less than a fortieth the distance between our Sun and its nearest stellar neighbor.
Hubble snapped crystal clear photographs of the cluster in 2002 and 2006, which in turn allows astronomers to chart the tiny movements of stars over four years. A study led by researchers at the Space Telescope Science Institute focused on 100,000 stars, or about 1% of the cluster's total stellar population. Because Hubble's snapshots had such amazing clarity, they were able to identify the tiny movements in the two sets of images, and in doing so extrapolate the entire orbits of each of the stars around the cluster's central point.
In so doing, they can now chart what Omega Centauri will look like to astronomers in the years 3000, 4000, and all the way up to the year 12,000. The image above shows just a small part of the stars' movements, all of which come from within the white box in the top image. The streaks indicate where the stars will move over the next 600 years.
Of course, even as we project 10,000 years into the future, we're still stuck in the past. That's because Omega Centauri is 16,000 light-years away, meaning the furthest projections still only reveal what the cluster's positions in the year 4,000 BCE. This is where trying to wrap your mind around cosmic timekeeping can really give you a headache.
Re: Stuff & Nonsense
« Reply #1720 on: Oct 31st, 2010, 4:56pm »
'Close Encounters' landing zone: UFOs and American Indians Steve Hammons October 31, 2010 (This article originally appeared on the Joint Recon Study Group site.)
In the 1977 movie "Close Encounters of the Third Kind," with its amazing ending at Devils Tower, Wyoming, there were many references to real incidents and situations, as well as subtle connections to UFOs, extraterrestrial visitation and other mysterious phenomena.
For example, the police chase across the Ohio-Indiana state line resembled real police incidents in that general region.
And interestingly, Wright-Patterson Air Force Base is also located near the Ohio-Indiana border. That base is home to an Air Force foreign technology research center and closely associated with the alleged Roswell incident and subsequent research.
In "Close Encounters" a mysterious red-suited team of 12 Americans are covertly sent to Devils Tower, a U.S. National Monument. That element parallels claims about a secret mission called "Project SERPO."
According to reports about this allegedly real operation, 12 carefully selected and trained U.S. military personnel went on an exchange program in the 1960s with an extraterrestrial race aboard their spacecraft, staying on a faraway planet for more than a decade.
In "Close Encounters" the clandestine logistics and security operation at Devils Tower was largely facilitated by U.S. Army Special Forces.
In real life, one of their specialties is covert and unconventional operations. Army Special Forces also works in roles to establish rapport with indigenous populations and provide training.
But is there more about Devils Tower that we can learn about?
Native American Indians had a very different name for this unusual geological formation. To the Lakota and Cheyenne, it was "Bear Lodge," "Grizzly Bear Lodge," or "Bear Lodge Butte." The Cheyenne and Crow also referred to it as "Bear's House" or "Bear's Lair." It was also called "Bear's Tipi" by the Cheyenne and Arapaho. To the Kiowa, it was "Tree Rock."
How did an Indian identity associated with a bear lodge become "Devils Tower?" It is believed that an interpreter in an 1875 expedition in the area misunderstood the Indian words and translated them as "Bad God's Tower" which was later changed to "Devil's Tower," and eventually to "Devils Tower" (no apostrophe).
President Theodore Roosevelt declared the huge rock formation a U.S. National Monument in 1906. Today, the entire monument are includes 1,347 acres.
Interesting legends and folklore about the site may also hold clues about more subtle connections at Devils Tower or Bear Lodge.
A Lakota tale reportedly describes six Lakota girls picking flowers there when they were chased by bears. The Great Spirit helped the girls by raising the ground under them. The distinctive vertical striations of the rock were made when the bears tried to climb it but slid down, leaving huge scratch marks, according to this legend.
A Kiowa story is similar. Seven girls playing were chased by large bears. To escape, the girls climbed a rock and prayed to the Great Spirit for help. Answering the girls' prayers, the Great Spirit caused the rock to rise to the heavens, saving the girls as the bears tried to climb the rock, leaving their claw marks.
As the girls reached the uppermost realms of the sky, they became the star constellation the Pleiades. This star system is sometimes associated with extraterrestrial visitors in more modern cases,
There is another legend about several boys escaping a bear, praying to the Creator for help, being raised up on the rock and escaping back to their village with the help of an eagle.
When Army Special Forces, scientists, technicians, defense and intelligence officials, and the mysterious 12-person team infiltrate the Devils Tower or Bear Lodge region in "Close Encounters," can we make any connections to this Native American Indian lore or other possible factors?
Many Indian tribes have oral histories about unusual visitors or beings of many kinds. In some legends, the visitors come from far away in the skies. In others, certain beings are native to Earth, or live nearby, and are part of the mysteries of Nature and reality.
Even now, there are many reports of mysterious phenomena in Indian Country. And, Indian perspectives about Nature, the Great Spirit and other matters can be unique and helpful to learn about.
Another different type of link is the rich history in the U.S. Army of establishing connections to Native American tribes and traditions. Unit patches, words and concepts related to the identity and honor of a warrior can be found throughout the U.S. Army.
For example, the Army's famed 101st Airborne Division uses the Cherokee word "currahee" as a touchstone concept. Currahee means "we stand alone together."
The Army Special Forces motto, though not in American Indian language, is the Latin "de Oppresso Liber" meaning "Liberate the Oppressed."
Of course, these two U.S. Army examples are paradoxical, to put it mildly, regarding the history of conflicts with Native American Indians over centuries as Europeans landed, conquered, took land, enslaved and destroyed or nearly destroyed native societies and cultures.
When some Europeans became "Americans," regional militias and federal army troops often did the same.
In the case of the Cherokee, their ancient homeland in the Appalachian Mountain region stretched from Tennessee and North Carolina to Georgia and Alabama. Staring in the 1700s, there was a large degree of intermarriage with Scottish, Scots-Irish and English explorers.
But this did not help them when in 1839 men, women, children and the elderly were forced at gunpoint and bayonet point from their homes and farms into prison camps, their land stolen, and marched to Oklahoma on the terrible and deadly "Trail of Tears."
Their experience parallels the history of many other tribes.
Today, some researchers advise us to consider the experience of Native American Indians who faced a visitation or invasion of technologically superior "aliens" from England, France, Spain and elsewhere in Europe.
Could humans dealing with advanced beings from elsewhere experience a fate similar to that of American Indians?
Maybe we can take another look at "Close Encounters" in light of the history of Bear's Lodge or Devils Tower. That location may serve as a way to explore the many lessons about connections between American history, humanity, Nature and the mysteries of the universe.
Re: Stuff & Nonsense
« Reply #1721 on: Oct 31st, 2010, 7:48pm »
description of video by SCENESTERTV: "While Doing My Duties as an A&R I noticed a blinking light. I cut off the music and grabbed my camera and taped about 15 minutes worth of a stationary OBJECT in the sky that seemed to HAVE NEEDED some assistance. As you can see a LIGHT APPEARS and then it moves closer to the Stationary OBJECT then"
Re: Stuff & Nonsense
« Reply #1722 on: Nov 1st, 2010, 09:40am »
New York Times
November 1, 2010 Bomb Plot Shows Key Role Played by Intelligence By MARK MAZZETTI, ROBERT F. WORTH and ERIC LIPTON
In the middle of last week, a woman who claimed her name was Hanan al-Samawi, a 22-year-old engineering student, walked into the U.P.S. office in the upscale Hadda neighborhood of Sana, Yemen’s sprawling capital city. She displayed a photocopied identification card, and dropped off a bomb hidden inside a printer cartridge with a Chicago address listed as the package’s destination. A few blocks away, another package concealing a homemade bomb was dropped off at a FedEx office, also seemingly headed to Chicago.
Within days, the two packages had advanced through four countries in at least four different airplanes — two of them carrying passengers — before they were identified in Britain and Dubai after an 11th-hour tip from Saudi Arabia’s intelligence service set off an international terrorism alert and a frantic hunt.
The foiling of the package plot was a significant success in an era of well-publicized intelligence breakdowns and miscommunications. It was also a sobering reminder to officials around the world that quick response to timely intelligence rules the day. Despite the billions of dollars governments have spent on elaborate airport technology to guard against terrorism threats, the packages would probably have been loaded onto planes bound for the United States, but for the Saudi tip.
The plot also points up holes in the system, particularly the security of cargo flights, that have already caused criticism abroad and are likely to rekindle new debates in the United States.
In Qatar, officials acknowledged Sunday that one of the packages had been carried on two Qatar Airways passenger planes, apparently having eluded the airline’s cargo screening system. In Britain, officials were embarrassed about how long it took the authorities to identify one of the packages as a carefully concealed bomb.
American and Yemeni officials still have little hard evidence about who was involved in the thwarted attack. On Sunday officials in Yemen discovered that Ms. Samawi’s identity had apparently been stolen, and that she was not the same woman who dropped off the packages. Ms. Samawi was released on bail on Sunday, and the authorities in Yemen have thus far arrested no other suspects.
It was one more piece of a carefully designed and cleverly disguised plot that investigators believe was conceived by Al Qaeda’s affiliate in Yemen, the group that American officials say might pose the most immediate threat to American soil.
In television appearances on Sunday, John O. Brennan, President Obama’s top counterterrorism adviser, said that American and British authorities were leaning toward the conclusion that the packages were meant to detonate in midair, en route to their destinations in Chicago. If that turns out to be the case, it would be a rare attack aimed at the air cargo system — one of the foundations of the global economy — rather than the passenger system, which has received the most attention from governments working to avoid a repeat of the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks.
For the most part, governments around the world had bet that it was less likely that the cargo system would be the target of attacks, given that its flights carry few passengers.
“It is time for the shipping industry and the business community to accept the reality that more needs to be done to secure cargo planes so that they cannot be turned into a delivery systems for bombs targeting our country,” Representative Ed Markey, Democrat of Massachusetts, said in a statement.
Congress in 2007, in legislation proposed by Mr. Markey, mandated that all air cargo be inspected before it is loaded onto passenger planes, setting an August 2010 deadline for the requirement. But as of the deadline, only about 65 percent of the cargo headed to the United States on passenger planes from abroad is inspected — and a far smaller proportion coming to the United States on all-cargo flights is physically checked, as these planes are not subject to the mandate.
Even when the cargo is checked, air carriers in certain countries use equipment like X-ray detection devices or a visual check by an airport worker that often cannot identify packages with bombs, because the small amount of explosive material can be carefully hidden inside a routine electronic device, like a computer printer.
Interviews in Washington, London and the Middle East reveal how the two bombs made their way through several countries before the tip from Saudi intelligence officials caused them to be pulled from airplanes.
The bomb dropped at the U.P.S. office in Sana ended up in East Midlands Airport, near Nottingham, England, by way of Cologne, Germany. A terrorism alert from Washington provoked a search for the package, which was found and kept from being shipped to the United States. But British authorities took more than 20 hours to determine that it contained hidden explosives.
Theresa May, the British home secretary, told the BBC that the government would review its security arrangements for handling air cargo entering or passing through Britain in the wake of the printer-bomb plot, but declined to give any details.
In Britain, cargo operators are vetted and named “trusted carriers.” Cargo itself is not screened, which some experts said made British airports vulnerable to terrorist exploitation. Ms. May said that any changes would have to take into account economic concerns. “We’re well aware of the economic aspects of air freight transport,” she said.
The second package — a bomb hidden inside a Hewlett-Packard desktop printer — was sent out Thursday on a Qatar Airways passenger flight to Doha, the Qatari capital. There it sat for a day, and was then flown 235 miles east to Dubai, in the United Arab Emirates, where it arrived Friday in the local FedEx distribution warehouse.
By that time Emirati authorities had received a warning call from Britain about a suspicious package there, and they identified the printer almost immediately, according to an official familiar with the investigation. Investigators removed and dismantled the explosive, which had been placed into the toner cartridge printer so carefully that all the printer’s components appeared to be in place and it might well have passed unnoticed.
A cellphone was concealed in the bottom of the printer, and the printer head was designed to detonate the explosives.
On Sunday, officials in Qatar said in a statement that “the explosives discovered were of a sophisticated nature whereby they could not be detected by X-ray screening or trained sniffer dogs.”
As for who was behind the plot, evidence remains elusive, though officials believe the bombs bear the hallmarks of Al Qaeda in Yemen’s top bomb maker. On Friday, the Department of Homeland Security issued a cable saying that the packages might have been linked to two schools in Yemen. If true, that would suggest that foreign students might have been involved in the plot, as in the attempted bombing of a commercial jetliner in Detroit last Dec. 25 by a Nigerian trained in Yemen.
But American and Yemeni investigators are trying to determine whether the schools — listed as the Yemen-American Institute for Language-Computer Management and the American Center for Training and Development — even exist. There is a school in Sana called the Yemen American Language Institute, but it is sponsored by the United States State Department. Its director, Aziz al-Hadi, said in a telephone interview that the school “has never used FedEx or U.P.S.” and did not help foreigners obtain visas. The school does not have a reputation for attracting religiously conservative students, unlike some other language schools in Yemen. There is an American Center for Training and Development in Egypt, but not in Yemen.
Ms. Samawi was released partly because the shipping agent for the courier company was brought into her interrogation and told investigators that she was not the person who had signed the shipping manifest, said a Yemeni official, who spoke on condition of anonymity. The Yemeni authorities have concluded that the plotters deliberately used Ms. Samawi’s name, address and telephone number to make the shipment look legitimate. Ms. Samawi’s mother was detained Saturday as well, but family friends said that was only because she insisted on accompanying her daughter.
“She is a very open-minded person; we cannot believe these accusations at all,” said Siham Ahmad Haza, 24, who described herself as a close friend of Ms. Samawi’s, and a fellow student of computer engineering at Sana University. “She listens to music a lot, especially Western music. She loves foreigners, she’s a balanced person.”
Ms. Samawi has two younger sisters, and her father works as an engineer in the Ministry of Agriculture and Water, according to family friends. The family lives in Shamlaan, on the outskirts of Sana.
About 100 students protested at Sana University on Sunday, chanting “Freedom, freedom for Hanan!”
Reporting was contributed by Joseph Berger, John F. Burns, Alan Cowell, Barry Meier, Jad Mouawad and Eric Schmitt.
Re: Stuff & Nonsense
« Reply #1723 on: Nov 1st, 2010, 09:51am »
Solar farm sparks heated debate in California's Panoche Valley San Benito County officials support a proposed Solargen facility just south of San Francisco Bay, but local farmers and ranchers say it will ruin their livelihoods and further endanger some species.
By Louis Sahagun, Los Angeles Times November 1, 2010
A kind of family feud has erupted in San Benito County's rich slice of Central California farmland over plans to build a massive solar power facility in a valley shared by 20 ranchers and organic farmers and some of the rarest creatures in the United States.
Both sides of the dispute insist they are fighting for the same things — protecting the environment and growing the local economy.
County officials — some of them farmers themselves — believe Solargen Energy Inc.'s proposed 400-megawatt solar farm on 5,000 acres just south of San Francisco Bay will be a key part of a new future based, in part, on green technology.
But the small-scale ranchers, farmers and horse trainers who live and work in the misty pastures and furrowed slopes of Panoche Valley believe the old connotation of "green" is worth more.
"They are selling us and a unique landscape out for a measly 50 long-term jobs and $24 million spread out over 20 years," said Kim Williams, who raises grass-fed pastured chickens in the valley. "That's pathetic."
In an effort to hasten construction of the plant, the county recently approved a final environmental impact report that opponents say was faulty.
In addition, despite opposition from the California Farm Bureau, county leaders and the San Benito County Farm Bureau approved the withdrawal of about 6,500 acres in the Panoche Valley from pacts intended to keep that land in agriculture for 10 years, in return for tax breaks under the state's Williamson Act.
The San Benito County Board of Supervisors was expected to approve a conditional use permit for the project, which would cover nearly a third of the valley floor, within a few weeks.
County officials say they are not fast-tracking the project, as detractors suspect.
Many county officials suggested that the valley's land was of marginal agricultural value, and that concerns about the solar panels' effect on habitat crucial to the survival of three federally endangered species —the giant kangaroo rat, the San Joaquin kit fox and the blunt-nosed leopard lizard — were overstated.
"The photovoltaic plant looks like nothing more than a vineyard, so the risk to the creatures is insignificant," said Greg Swett, president of the San Benito County Farm Bureau. "If the blunt-nosed leopard lizard is a standard lizard, it will get out of the way."
Nancy Martin, president and chief executive officer of the San Benito County Economic Development Corp., would not go that far. But she likes to say, "Now is the time to reinvent ourselves and take advantage of a confluence of opportunities. We cherish our environment, but we also must cherish the people who live here. If we weigh the needs of the lizard against the needs of the people, I think the people win."
Sensing their pastoral community is slipping away from them, Panoche Valley residents have been studying their legal options in a case that also is being watched by environmental groups, including the Defenders of Wildlife and the Center for Biological Diversity.
The arid, wind-whipped Panoche Valley is a checkerboard of vineyards, pistachio orchards and range lands scented with sage and pungent vinegar-bush. Long-eared owls and ferruginous hawks roost in the cottonwood trees edging a perennial stream. Cattle and horses share the flatlands with foxes, badgers, tarantulas, gopher snakes and the blunt-nosed leopard lizard, a large, multicolored reptile with bright stripes on its back and a penchant for dashing hundreds of yards at the sound of human voices.
"For years we thought we were far enough away from the powers that be that they would leave us alone," said Panoche Valley cattle rancher Nenette Corotto, 74. "Now, it seems the county is going down a new rail. It's a new ball game and we have to survive it."
United under the banner Save Panoche Valley, the small-scale ranchers and farmers argue that building something on the scale of the Solargen power plant will kill wildlife, spook valuable livestock and clog the valley's narrow dirt lane — which is subject to flooding after even modest rain — with heavy traffic.
"I have never seen a process as rushed as this one, and it's happening in the face of real environmental impacts," said Mike Westphal, a Bureau of Land Management herpetologist. "Those species will not recover if this area is lost."
While Panoche Valley ranchers rally around their embattled landscape, related pressing issues have been unfolding in the offices of state and federal regulatory agencies in Sacramento and Washington.
Before construction can begin, the project must be permitted by the California Department of Fish and Game and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, a process expected to take several months. It remains unclear whether the project would be eligible for federal loans and stimulus programs scheduled to expire Dec. 31.
In August, Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger dispatched a letter to the Obama administration urging that it help find a way to expedite endangered species reviews by the Fish and Wildlife Service for several renewable energy projects trying to break ground on private land this year, including Solargen's. "We need immediate action if these projects are to have a chance of receiving a permit in time to meet this deadline for groundbreaking or the deadline for the Department of Energy loan guarantees," Schwarzenegger said.
Mike Peterson, president and chief executive officer of Solargen, said the project can be built without federal subsidies. He said the power plant is an ideal fit for the valley, one of the sunniest spots in Central California with direct access to local Pacific Gas & Electric transmission lines. Beyond that, he said, the company has developed a generous mitigation plan, which includes setting aside 23,000 acres as a permanent grazing easement and habitat, most of it outside the valley.
"I believe we will be a benefit to these endangered species," Peterson said. As for Panoche Valley ranchers and farmers, Peterson said, "I understand their concerns. The sacrifice for them is that the valley will have a change. Truth is, they may have to go out of business."
That kind of talk rankles Panoche Valley dairyman Ron Garthwaite, co-owner of 4-year-old Claravale Farm.
"You don't destroy a group of people and their way of life just because you stand to make a little money off of something like this," Garthwaite said. "County officials are either incredibly stupid or incredibly disingenuous. I suspect the latter. I think they believe that, as individuals, they will somehow gain politically or financially off it. Otherwise, it makes no sense."
San Benito County Supervisor Reb Monaco, whose district includes Panoche Valley, said Garthwaite missed the point.
"Our small rural county has discovered a new marketable commodity: sunshine," he said. "Is it risky? Yes. But there are also potential benefits for the county and the world."
Re: Stuff & Nonsense
« Reply #1724 on: Nov 1st, 2010, 09:55am »
Miniature Human Livers Created in the Lab ScienceDaily (Oct. 31, 2010) —
Researchers at the Institute for Regenerative Medicine at Wake Forest University Baptist Medical Center have reached an early, but important, milestone in the quest to grow replacement livers in the lab. They are the first to use human liver cells to successfully engineer miniature livers that function -- at least in a laboratory setting -- like human livers. The next step is to see if the livers will continue to function after transplantation in an animal model.
The ultimate goal of the research, which will be presented on October 31 at the annual meeting of the American Association for the Study of Liver Diseases in Boston, is to provide a solution to the shortage of donor livers available for patients who need transplants. Laboratory-engineered livers could also be used to test the safety of new drugs.
"We are excited about the possibilities this research represents, but must stress that we're at an early stage and many technical hurdles must be overcome before it could benefit patients," said Shay Soker, Ph.D., professor of regenerative medicine and project director. "Not only must we learn how to grow billions of liver cells at one time in order to engineer livers large enough for patients, but we must determine whether these organs are safe to use in patients."
Pedro Baptista, PharmD, Ph.D., lead author on the study, said the project is the first time that human liver cells have been used to engineer livers in the lab. "Our hope is that once these organs are transplanted, they will maintain and gain function as they continue to develop," he said.
To engineer the organs, the scientists used animal livers that were treated with a mild detergent to remove all cells (a process called decellularization), leaving only the collagen "skeleton" or support structure. They then replaced the original cells with two types of human cells: immature liver cells known as progenitors, and endothelial cells that line blood vessels.
The cells were introduced into the liver skeleton through a large vessel that feeds a system of smaller vessels in the liver. This network of vessels remains intact after the decellularization process. The liver was next placed in a bioreactor, special equipment that provides a constant flow of nutrients and oxygen throughout the organ.
After a week in the bioreactor system, the scientists documented the progressive formation of human liver tissue, as well as liver-associated function. They observed widespread cell growth inside the bioengineered organ.
The ability to engineer a liver with animal cells had been demonstrated previously. However, the possibility of generating a functional human liver was still in question.
The researchers said the current study suggests a new approach to whole-organ bioengineering that might prove to be critical not only for treating liver disease, but for growing organs such as the kidney and pancreas. Scientists at the Wake Forest Institute for Regenerative Medicine are working on these projects, as well as many other tissues and organs, and also working to develop cell therapies to restore organ function.
Bioengineered livers could also be useful for evaluating the safety of new drugs. "This would more closely mimic drug metabolism in the human liver, something that can be difficult to reproduce in animal models," said Baptista.
Co-researchers were Dipfen Vyas, B.Sc., Zhan Wang, M.D., and Anthony Atala, M.D., director of the institute.
The abstract, "The Use of Whole Organ Decellularization for the Bioengineering of a Human Vascularized Liver," will be presented on Oct. 31.