Description: After leaving a movie at Aventura Mall, in Aventura Florida, my boyfriend and I went to his car on top of a parking garage. It was then that we noticed something gliding at a slow, constant speed, across the sky. The ufo was in the shape of a boomerang, and it was very large. I thought that maybe it was a plane but it did not resemble any plane in existence. I did not see it as having any lights, and it was completely silent.
The edges of the UFO seemed to be rippling. It was very low, almost as if it had just taken off. I watched it for a good 5 minutes before it blended in with the night sky and disappeared completely. I was never afraid of the object, but I was very curious.
Re: Stuff & Nonsense
« Reply #1805 on: Nov 8th, 2010, 07:28am »
New York Times
November 7, 2010 D.E.A. Deployed Mumbai Plotter Despite Warning By GINGER THOMPSON, ERIC SCHMITT and SOUAD MEKHENNET
WASHINGTON — American authorities sent David C. Headley, a small-time drug dealer and sometime informant, to work for them in Pakistan months after the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks, despite a warning that he sympathized with radical Islamic groups, according to court records and interviews. Not long after Mr. Headley arrived there, he began training with terrorists, eventually playing a key role in the 2008 attacks that left 164 people dead in Mumbai.
The October 2001 warning was dismissed, the authorities said, as the ire of a jilted girlfriend and for lack of proof. Less than a month later, those concerns did not come up when a federal court in New York granted Mr. Headley an early release from probation so that he could be sent to work for the United States Drug Enforcement Administration in Pakistan. It is unclear what Mr. Headley was supposed to do in Pakistan for the Americans.
“All I knew was the D.E.A. wanted him in Pakistan as fast as possible because they said they were close to making some big cases,” said Luis Caso, Mr. Headley’s former probation officer.
On Sunday, while President Obama was visiting India, he briefed Prime Minister Manmohan Singh on the status of his administration’s investigation of Mr. Headley, including the failure to act on repeated warnings that he might be a terrorist. A senior United States official said the inquiry has concluded that while the government received warnings, it did not have strong enough evidence at the time to act on them. “Had the United States government sufficiently established he was engaged in plotting a terrorist attack in India, the information would have most assuredly been transferred promptly to the Indian government,” the official said in a statement to The New York Times. The statement did not make clear whether any American agencies would be held accountable.
In recent weeks, United States government officials have begun to acknowledge that Mr. Headley’s path from American informant to transnational terrorist illustrates the breakdowns and miscommunications that have bedeviled them since the Sept. 11 attacks. Warnings about his radicalism were apparently not shared with the drug agency that made use of his ties in Pakistan.
The director of national intelligence, James R. Clapper Jr., began an investigation into Mr. Headley’s government connections after reports last month that two of the former drug dealer’s ex-wives had gone to American authorities between 2005 and 2008, before the Mumbai attacks, to say they feared he was plotting with terrorists. Combined with the earlier warning from the former girlfriend, three of the women in Mr. Headley’s life reported his ties to terrorists, only to have those warnings dismissed.
An examination of Mr. Headley’s story shows that his government ties ran far deeper and longer than previously known. One senior American official knowledgeable about the case said he believed that Mr. Headley was a D.E.A. informant until at least 2003, meaning that he was talking to American agencies even as he was learning to deal with explosives and small arms in terrorist training camps.
The review raises new questions about why the Americans missed warning signs that a valued informant was becoming an important figure in radical Islamic groups, and whether some officials chose to look the other way rather than believe the complaints about him. The October 2001 warning from the girlfriend was first reported Friday by ProPublica, the independent investigative news operation, and published in The Washington Post.
Fuller details of how the government handled the matter were provided to The Times by officials who did not want to be quoted discussing a continuing inquiry. They disclosed that the F.B.I. actually talked to Mr. Headley about the girlfriend, and he told them she was unreliable. They said that while he seemed to have a philosophical affinity for some groups, there was no evidence that he was plotting against the United States. Also influencing the handling of the case, they said, was that he had been a longtime informant.
The Indian government has been outspoken in its concerns that the United States overlooked repeated warnings about Mr. Headley’s terrorist activities because of his links to both American law enforcement as well as to officials in Pakistan’s Inter-Services Intelligence Directorate — a key ally of the United States in the fight against terrorism.
Bruce O. Riedel, a terrorism expert at the Brookings Institution and a former C.I.A. officer, said the Indians were right to ask, “ ‘Why weren’t alarms screaming?’ ”
Mr. Headley, 50, born in the United States to a Pakistani diplomat and Philadelphia socialite, has pleaded guilty in connection with the Mumbai plot and a thwarted attack against a Danish newspaper that published cartoons of the Prophet Muhammad. As he has many times before, he is cooperating with the authorities, this time hoping to avoid the death penalty. Officials of the D.E.A., which has a long history with Mr. Headley, declined to discuss their relationship with him. The C.I.A. and the F.B.I. said that Mr. Headley had never worked with them. Privately, the agencies point fingers at each other.
The transcript of a Nov. 16, 2001, probation hearing in federal court in New York shows the government took great pains not to identify which agency was handling Mr. Headley, or whether he worked for more than one.
Mr. Caso, his former probation officer, recalled that Mr. Headley had been turned over to the D.E.A. Another person familiar with the case confirms this account. It was a world Mr. Headley knew well. After arrests in 1987 and 1998, he cooperated with the drug agency in exchange for lighter sentences. He specialized in the ties between Pakistani drug organizations and American dealers along the East Coast.
A September 1998 letter that prosecutors submitted to court after an arrest then showed that the government considered Mr. Headley — who had admitted to distributing 15 kilograms of heroin over his years as a dealer — so “reliable and forthcoming,” that they sent him to Pakistan to “develop intelligence on Pakistani heroin traffickers.”
The letter indicates that Mr. Headley, who faced seven to nine years in prison for his offense, was such a trusted partner to the drug agency in the 1990s that he helped translate hours of tape-recorded telephone intercepts, and coached drug agency investigators on how to question Pakistani suspects. The courts looked favorably on his cooperation, according to records, sentencing Mr. Headley to 15 months in prison, and five years’ probation.
While he was on probation, in October 2001, a woman told the F.B.I. that she believed her former boyfriend, Mr. Headley, was sympathetic to extremist groups in Pakistan, according to a senior American official who has been briefed on the case. The government was flooded with thousands of such tips at that time, in the aftermath of the 9/11 attacks.
William Headley, an uncle, recalled that agents called his sister to ask if her son had terrorist leanings. “She didn’t seem upset at all by the call,” William Headley said. “And I didn’t think much of it either because at that time, I thought the government was checking out anyone who had ties to Pakistan.”
It is unclear how widely disseminated the warning was. But in that probation hearing one month later, the government enlisted Mr. Headley’s help again, suspending his sentence in exchange for what court records described only as “continuing cooperation.” According to the transcript, it was a rushed affair. The probation officer apologized for not being properly dressed, and the lawyers explained that they had not been able to make their case in writing. Mr. Headley was a potential gold mine, according to an official knowledgeable about the agreement to release him from probation. One person involved in the case said American agencies had “zero in terms of reliable intelligence. And it was clear from the conversations about him that the government was considering assignments that went beyond drugs.”
Re: Stuff & Nonsense
« Reply #1806 on: Nov 8th, 2010, 07:32am »
New York Times
November 8, 2010 New Oil Leaks Keep Qantas Airbus Jets Grounded By MERAIAH FOLEY
SYDNEY, Australia — Qantas Airways will keep its fleet of six Airbus A380s grounded for at least another 72 hours after oil leaks were discovered in the engines of three separate aircraft, the company’s chief executive said on Monday.The move comes as investigators worked to pinpoint the cause of a dramatic mid-air explosion that forced a Qantas jetliner to make an emergency landing last week. The grounding of the A380s has delayed dozens of flights and forced Qantas, Australia’s largest carrier, to charter aircraft from British Airways to meet the backlog.
Alan Joyce, the airline’s chief executive officer, said that engineers working over the weekend had spotted oil leaks in the turbine area of engines on three planes.
The investigation began after a Rolls-Royce Trent 900 engine powering one of Qantas’ A380s burst apart during a flight from Singapore to Sydney on Nov. 4, scattering wreckage over Indonesia’s Batam island. The plane, with more than 450 people on board, landed safely in Singapore.
“The oil leaks were beyond normal tolerances,” Mr. Joyce told a news conference. Earlier, in an interview with the Australian Broadcasting Corp. radio, Mr. Joyce said investigators had uncovered “slight anomalies, oil where oil shouldn’t be on the engines.”
“These are new engines on new aircraft, and they shouldn’t have these issues at this stage,” Mr. Joyce told the ABC. “It has given us an indication of an area to focus into.”
Qantas shares fell by as much as 4.2 percent in trading on Monday, but finished the day 2.1 percent lower, closing at $2.83. Shares in Rolls-Royce Group PLC, a London-based aeronautics, energy and defense company, have fallen by more than 10 percent since the Nov. 4 incident.
The two companies are cooperating in the investigation, which also involves the Australian Transport Safety Bureau and the European Aviation Safety Agency, which regulates Airbus and Rolls-Royce. Qantas has vowed to keep all of its A380s on the ground until it is certain the planes are safe to fly.
Lufthansa and Singapore Airlines, the two other carriers that use Rolls-Royce’s Trent 900 engines in their A380s, also briefly grounded their planes following last week’s engine failure. Both airlines have since resumed flights after completing their own investigations.
Nicholas Ionides, a spokesman for Singapore Airlines, said it had not discovered any oil leaks of the kind described by Qantas.
“We completed engine inspections on all 11 of our A380 aircraft and did not find anything of concern,” Mr. Ionides said. “The findings of the inspections were reviewed with Rolls-Royce. Our A380 operations are meanwhile continuing as per normal.”
The Australian Transport Safety Bureau has appealed to Indonesian authorities for help finding a piece of the engine’s shattered turbine disc — a tire-shaped metal plate about 3 feet in diameter.
“The recovery of that disc could be crucial to a full understanding of the nature of the engine failure, and may have implications for the prevention of future similar occurrences,” the bureau said in a statement Sunday.
Several pieces of engine debris that were strewn across Batam island have already been sent to Britain for examination, the agency said.
Re: Stuff & Nonsense
« Reply #1807 on: Nov 8th, 2010, 07:35am »
Nuclear train reaches destination in Germany A shipment of nuclear waste has arrived at a railway depot in northern Germany after a nearly three-day trip from France that was regularly disrupted by protests.
Published: 9:29AM GMT 08 Nov 2010
The train carrying 11 containers of waste arrived on Monday in the town of Dannenberg. The waste will now be loaded onto trucks for the final 12-mile leg of the trip to a storage site at Gorleben.
The loading is expected to take most the rest of the day.
The train completed the last leg of its journey after some 3,000 protesters were removed from the tracks.
Police say the road to Gorleben is still blocked by some 1,600 protesters.
Activists say neither the waste containers nor the Gorleben site, a temporary storage facility, are safe.
Re: Stuff & Nonsense
« Reply #1808 on: Nov 8th, 2010, 07:39am »
Prototype: Coca-Cola and the Birth of the Coupon By Megan Geuss
“Delicious! Refreshing! Exhilarating! Invigorating!” When John Pemberton invented Coca-Cola in 1886, not even that adrenalized ad slogan could persuade customers to try it over all the other carbonated wonder tonics on the market. His bookkeeper started giving away tickets for free tastes of Coke, but Pemberton chided him for “extravagance.” Then along came tycoon Asa Griggs Candler, who bought the company in 1888, picked up on the bookkeeper’s idea, and mailed out thousands of the ticket shown above. The coupon as we know it was born.
Coca-Cola’s generosity was generously rewarded: In its first year, the company sold, on average, nine glasses a day. By 1913, Coca-Cola had redeemed 8.5 million “free drink” coupons. Today it’s one of the world’s most recognized brands, with a market cap over $1 billion. And the coupon itself has made a smooth transition to the 21st century. From Groupon and LivingSocial to Tippr, the Interweb is busily churning out services that feed daily deals to consumers. Thanks, Coke.
Re: Stuff & Nonsense
« Reply #1809 on: Nov 8th, 2010, 07:48am »
U.S. concerns grow as militants move bases along Pakistan border The U.S. has been trying to stamp out the Haqqani network, which attacks coalition forces in Afghanistan from its base in Pakistan's North Waziristan region. Now its fighters, fleeing drone strikes, are setting up in the highlands of Kurram.
Lance Cpl. Quincy Mance of Dallas, with India Company, 3rd Battalion, 5th Marines, First Marine Division, runs during a patrol in Sangin, Afghanistan. (Dusan Vranic, Associated Press / November 4, 2010)
By Alex Rodriguez, Los Angeles Times
November 7, 2010|5:28 p.m. Reporting from Islamabad, Pakistan —
A militant network that is a major Western adversary in Afghanistan is expanding its reach into tribal badlands outside its longtime sanctuary in Pakistan, a move that could complicate U.S. efforts to eradicate the group.
Pakistani tribal elders in the Kurram region along the Afghan border say large numbers of fighters from the Haqqani network, an ally of Al Qaeda, have been stationing themselves in the highlands of their rugged district and are demanding the freedom to move in and out of Afghanistan at will to carry out attacks in the neighboring country.
The United States regards Haqqani militants, a potent wing of the Afghan Taliban that focuses on attacks in eastern Afghanistan, as one of the biggest threats Western coalition forces face in that nation. The group pioneered the use of suicide bombings in Afghanistan and was behind a 2008 assassination attempt on Afghan President Hamid Karzai that nearly succeeded. It has also led spectacular attacks on American military installations, including a brazen frontal assault last May on the Bagram airfield near Kabul, the Afghan capital.
American military commanders regard the group as a major roadblock to concluding the nine-year war in Afghanistan. Though the U.S. has endorsed Karzai's push for peace talks with insurgent leaders, many in Washington see the Haqqani network as inextricably linked with Al Qaeda and therefore irreconcilable.
Haqqani militants have long maintained bonds with Pakistan's powerful Inter-Services Intelligence agency, which has allowed the insurgents to use the North Waziristan region as their nerve center. A dramatic increase in U.S. drone missile attacks on the network's compounds and training centers there this fall has helped trigger the movement of the militants during the last two months, experts and Kurram tribal leaders say.
Tribal elders in Kurram, who are sectarian rivals of the Haqqani network, say they believe the Islamic militant group views the snowcapped region as an ideal vantage point from which to launch forays into Afghanistan.
"If the Haqqani network spreads out like that, it will become very difficult for NATO forces to gather intelligence and strike the group," said Khadim Hussain, coordinator at the Aryana Institute for Regional Research and Advocacy, a think tank in Islamabad, the Pakistani capital.
The Haqqani militants, native to eastern Afghanistan, have sheltered for years in Pakistan and have been largely concentrated in North Waziristan. The tribal area is essentially a no man's land where militant groups, including the leadership of Al Qaeda, have been allowed to train and operate without interference from the Pakistani military.
With Pakistani military leaders refusing to pursue the Haqqani network, the Obama administration has ratcheted up the rate of drone attacks in Pakistan's tribal areas. So far this year, the U.S. has carried out 97 drone missile strikes in northwestern Pakistan, including two Sunday that reportedly killed 13 people. That compares with 53 strikes in 2009 and 35 in 2008. According to the Long War Journal website, which keeps track of drone missile strike statistics, 88 of the attacks this year have occurred in North Waziristan.
U.S. and North Atlantic Treaty Organization forces have also stepped up pressure on pockets of Haqqani fighters in eastern Afghanistan. Since Oct.1, Western coalition forces have killed or captured 16 senior Haqqani leaders in the eastern province of Khowst, and have killed at least five Haqqani commanders in neighboring Paktia province, according to NATO spokespersons.
Haqqani movement into Kurram could force the United States to expand its missile strike campaign there, a move that might further inflame anti-American sentiment among Pakistanis who see the drone strikes as a gross violation of their country's sovereignty. Right now, Islamabad tacitly allows the strikes against Al Qaeda, Taliban and Haqqani network targets in North and South Waziristan, and at times even facilitates those strikes with intelligence.
"It would mean big trouble between the two countries," said Imtiaz Gul, author of "The Most Dangerous Place," a look at militancy in Pakistan's tribal belt. "It would amount to a lot of friction."
Meanwhile, the appearance of Haqqani network fighters has exacerbated simmering sectarian frictions within Kurram.
Large swaths of the region are populated by a Shiite Muslim tribe, the Turi, which has been fending off attacks from local Taliban for years. Like the Haqqanis, the Taliban is Sunni Muslim.
The influx of Haqqani fighters has sparked fierce clashes with Turi tribesmen, said Musarrat Hussain Muntazir, a tribal elder.
After the fighting, Turi tribal elders began negotiations with a Haqqani contingent in hopes of ending a four-year, Taliban-imposed blockade of the only road that connects Turi lands in upper Kurram with the city of Peshawar, northwestern Pakistan's major hub. The blockade has forced Turi villagers to take a circuitous, 230-mile trek into Afghanistan's eastern provinces and then back into Pakistan in order to buy supplies or get to a hospital.
Recently, the Pakistani army has shut down five border crossings the Turi tribespeople have used to travel into Afghanistan. Pakistani army Col. Tausif Akhtar told the BBC that the military acted because "there have been sectarian clashes in Kurram, and we do not want miscreants from outside to exploit the situation."
The Turi tribespeople want Haqqani leaders to persuade local Taliban militants to lift their blockade and to release nine Turi tribesmen they are holding. Haqqani leaders are demanding the use of Turi lands as a staging area for movement in and out of Afghanistan. So far, Turi elders appear reluctant to acquiesce.
"We don't care what the Haqqani group does in Afghanistan, but we don't want them to use our land in the fight against U.S. and NATO forces," Muntazir said. "That's why we attacked them when they came to Khaiwas."
Turis are also concerned that a long-term Haqqani presence would result in civilian casualties from American drone strikes. Turi tribal elders say they doubt they can keep Haqqani militants out of their territory without help from the Pakistani military, which so far they have not received. "Obviously, if it wanted to, the army could stop this Haqqani movement into our lands and put an end to this fighting," Muntazir said.
Pakistan, which regards the Haqqani group as a valuable hedge against Indian influence in a post-U.S. Afghanistan, has so far resisted repeated urgings from Washington to launch a major offensive against Haqqani network hide-outs in North Waziristan. A U.S. offer to Pakistan of $2 billion in military aid is seen by many as an incentive for Pakistan to mount an attack on the Haqqani network. Pakistan has told the U.S. it will eventually carry out that offensive, but only when it believes the time is right.
I think they'll start the operation," said Hussain, the think tank analyst, "once every single fighter has moved out of North Waziristan and into Kurram."
Re: Stuff & Nonsense
« Reply #1810 on: Nov 8th, 2010, 07:55am »
'Super-Hero' Material Stretched Into a Possible Electronics Revolution ScienceDaily (Nov. 8, 2010)
It's the Clark Kent of oxide compounds, and - on its own - it is pretty boring. But slice europium titanate nanometers thin and physically stretch it, and then it takes on super hero-like properties that could revolutionize electronics, according to new Cornell research.
Researchers report that thin films of europium titanate become both ferroelectric (electrically polarized) and ferromagnetic (exhibiting a permanent magnetic field) when stretched across a substrate of dysprosium scandate, another type of oxide. The best simultaneously ferroelectric, ferromagnetic material to date pales in comparison by a factor of 1,000.
Simultaneous ferroelectricity and ferromagnetism is rare in nature and coveted by electronics visionaries. A material with this magical combination could form the basis for low-power, highly sensitive magnetic memory, magnetic sensors or highly tunable microwave devices.
The search for ferromagnetic ferroelectrics dates back to 1966, when the first such compound - a nickel boracite - was discovered. Since then, scientists have found a few additional ferromagnetic ferroelectrics, but none stronger than the nickel compound - that is, until now.
"Previous researchers were searching directly for a ferromagnetic ferroelectric - an extremely rare form of matter," said Darrell Schlom, Cornell professor of materials science and engineering, and an author on the paper.
"Our strategy is to use first-principles theory to look among materials that are neither ferromagnetic nor ferroelectric, of which there are many, and to identify candidates that, when squeezed or stretched, will take on these properties," said Craig Fennie, assistant professor of applied and engineering physics, and another author on the paper.
This fresh strategy, demonstrated using the europium titanate, opens the door to other ferromagnetic ferroelectrics that may work at even higher temperatures using the same materials-by-design strategy, the researchers said.
Other authors include David A. Muller, Cornell professor of applied and engineering physics; and first author June Hyuk Lee, a graduate student in Schlom's lab.
The researchers took an ultra-thin layer of the oxide and "stretched" it by placing it on top of the disprosium compound. The crystal structure of the europium titanate became strained because of its tendency to align itself with the underlying arrangement of atoms in the substrate.
Fennie's previous theoretical work had indicated that a different kind of material strain - more akin to squishing by compression - would also produce ferromagnetism and ferroelectricity. But the team discovered that the stretched europium compound displayed electrical properties 1,000 times better than the best-known ferroelectric/ferromagnetic material thus far, translating to thicker, higher-quality films.
This new approach to ferromagnetic ferroelectrics could prove a key step toward the development of next-generation memory storage, superb magnetic field sensors and many other applications long dreamed about. But commercial devices are a long way off; no devices have yet been made using this material. The Cornell experiment was conducted at an extremely cold temperature - about 4 degrees Kelvin (-452 Fahrenheit). The team is already working on materials that are predicted to show such properties at much higher temperatures.
The team includes researchers from Penn State University, Ohio State University and Argonne National Laboratory.
The research was supported by the Cornell Center for Materials Research, a National Science Foundation-funded Materials Research and Engineering Center (MRSEC), and corresponding MRSECs at Penn State and Ohio State.