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 veryhotthread  Author  Topic: Stuff & Nonsense  (Read 47103 times)
Swamprat
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xx Re: Stuff & Nonsense
« Reply #1815 on: Nov 8th, 2010, 6:01pm »

Interesting report from north of Houston:

http://www.ufostalker.com/?mufon=true

Mufon UFO Stalker

Detail for Event ID 26430 x

Case Number:
26430

Log Number: US-11082010-0010

Submitted Date: 2010-11-08 07:50 GMT

Event Date: 2010-11-08 04:52 GMT

Status: Assigned

City: Spring

Region: Texas

Country: US

Longitude: -95.4171601

Latitude: 30.0799405

Shape: Cigar, Flash

Duration: 01:03:00

Vallee Index: MA1

Description: Was awakened by the dog to go out. The time was 4:52a.m. Walked outside with dog in back yard and saw object. First thought it was a plane, there are a lot in the area, since we are close to an airport. But object was hovering dead still pulsing/flashing amber, red, green, and white.

It was like a cigar if it was spinning. It moved across the sky rapidly and stopped by a large crane and did not move up or down, left or right. A plane came in from right went to left towards the airport and the object. Then the object moved a small amount down almost to line up with the plane. The plane got close to the object and the object started to dim more of an amber color.

Then went inside to grab binoculars and at the same time my mother awoke to let the other dog out. We looked at it through the binoculars as it stayed in the same spot after the plane went by. Then it moved lower and started to move to the left. Just about that time another plane was heading near the object. Used the camera phone but could not get a solid picture of the object. My mother got her real camera and tried to get one as well but could not get it into focus.

This went on for about 1 hour. It was almost like it was trying to observe the passing planes. It would move in small increments to basically be on a close path with the planes. The movement was very slow, very precise. The object stayed in same spot, same altitude for approximately 15 min. pulsed bright green, red, amber, and white. There were no planes during that time.

Object then moved right very slowly then almost faded out and it moved behind trees. For the next 10 minutes we stayed outside and it did not reappear.
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xx Re: Stuff & Nonsense
« Reply #1816 on: Nov 8th, 2010, 6:26pm »

That is some interesting behavior Swamprat, thank you for posting that sighting report. Wonder why it would want to interact with the planes? Good report, two witnesses, three if you count the dog. grin
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« Reply #1817 on: Nov 9th, 2010, 08:44am »

New York Times

November 9, 2010
Obama, in Indonesia, Criticizes Israel on Housing
By SHERYL GAY STOLBERG

JAKARTA, Indonesia — President Obama, stepping into an Israeli-Palestinian dispute during a homecoming visit to the world’s largest Muslim majority nation, criticized Israel on Tuesday for its decision to advance the approval of some 1,000 new housing units in East Jerusalem during a sensitive time in the peace negotiations with the Palestinians.

“This kind of activity is never helpful when it comes to peace negotiations, and I’m concerned that we’re not seeing each side make the extra effort involved to get a breakthrough,” Mr. Obama said during a joint news conference with President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono here. He added, “Each of these incremental steps end up breaking trust.”

Mr. Obama arrived here Tuesday afternoon from New Delhi on a long-awaited visit that is now being cut short by a cloud of volcanic ash headed toward Jakarta. The ash is expected to interfere with air travel on Wednesday, forcing the president to leave several hours ahead of his scheduled departure for Seoul, where he will attend the G-20 conference of world leaders.

Indonesia, where Mr. Obama lived between the ages of 6 and 10 with his mother and step-father, is the second country Mr. Obama is visiting on a 10-day, four-nation Asian tour, and his trip here seems to be star-crossed. Mr. Obama has twice canceled visits at the last minute so he could deal with problems at home. Now Mother Nature has upended his schedule in more ways than one. He planned to visit a mosque and deliver a formal address on Wednesday; the speech is still on, officials said, but the mosque visit appears up in the air. Even his press conference was rearranged, with an intense thunderstorm forcing it inside.

While Mr. Obama received a hometown hero’s welcome — even the Indonesian press corps clapped and cheered when Air Force One touched down — he said he was here “to focus not on the past but on the future,” and, with the exception of offering some personal reflections at the press conference, his time here has been all business. The plight of the Palestinians is a big issue in Indonesia, so much so that President Yudhoyono mentioned it in his opening remarks, saying he had told Mr. Obama that “we need a resolution on Palestine and Israel in a permanent sustainable manner.”

And from the perspective of the United States, Israel’s announcement was ill-timed. It came just as Israel’s prime minister, Benjamin Netanyahu, was heading to United States for the annual convention of the Jewish Federations of North America. On Sunday, Mr. Netanyahu met with Vice President Joseph R. Biden Jr., and he was expected to meet Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton later this week.

Mr. Obama is making outreach to the Muslim world a major theme of his brief visit to Indonesia. He closed his remarks at Tuesday’s press conference with the Muslim greeting “Salaam Aleikhem,” and said he intends to reshape American relations with Muslim nations so they are not “focused solely on security issues” but rather on expanded cooperation across a broad range of areas, from science to education. Aides say the speech he planned to give Wednesday at the University of Indonesia — and still hopes to give, albeit earlier than expected — will build on one he delivered in Cairo last year, in which he called for “a new beginning” with the Muslim world.

At Tuesday’s press conference, Mr. Obama was asked to assess his progress thus far. “I think it’s an incomplete project,” he said. “We’ve got a lot of work to do.”

The last time President Obama was in this island nation, in 1992, he holed up in a rented beachside hut in Bali, where he swam each morning and spent afternoons writing “Dreams From My Father,” the memoir that later became a best-seller. In it, he shared memories of his life here as a boy, “running barefoot along a paddy field, with my feet sinking into the cool, wet mud, part of a chain of other brown boys chasing after a tattered kite.”

When Air Force One touched down here in a typical Southeast Asia afternoon thunderstorm, a huge cheer went up inside the State Palace complex — not from ordinary Indonesians, but from the local press corps, watching on television. “Finally, he arrived!” exulted Glenn Jos, a local television cameraman. After descending the steps of his plane, Mr. Obama, in dark suit, accompanied by his wife Michelle, walked the red carpet that had been laid out for him and stepped into his big black Cadillac limousine. He poked his head out the door to give a short wave. “Yes!” Indonesian reporters shouted.

On Tuesday, the president spoke of how the country has changed since he first arrived here in 1967. “It’s a little disorienting,” he said, noting that when he first came, there was one tall building in downtown Jakarta — a building that has now been eclipsed by many modern skyscrapers — and people got around in “little taxis, but you stood in the back and it was very crowded” or on bicycle rickshaws.

“Now,” Mr. Obama said, “as president I can’t even see all the traffic because they block all the streets.”

http://www.nytimes.com/2010/11/10/world/asia/10prexy.html?_r=1&hp

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« Reply #1818 on: Nov 9th, 2010, 08:47am »

New York Times

November 8, 2010
Challenge Heard on Move to Kill Qaeda-Linked Cleric
By SCOTT SHANE and ROBERT F. WORTH

WASHINGTON — A federal judge heard a legal challenge on Monday to the Obama administration’s decision to authorize the killing of Anwar al-Awlaki, even as Mr. Awlaki, the American-born cleric tied to Al Qaeda and now hiding in Yemen, called for new attacks on the United States in a video posted to the Web.

Judge John D. Bates, of the district court here, called the case “extraordinary and unique,” and he pressed Justice Department lawyers to explain why the government needs a court warrant to eavesdrop on an American overseas but not to kill one.

But Judge Bates also questioned whether Mr. Awlaki, who has rejected the legitimacy of American institutions, would approve of the lawsuit filed on his behalf by his father, Nasser al-Awlaki. The elder Mr. Awlaki is represented by the American Civil Liberties Union and the Center for Constitutional Rights.

“What is it that should lead me to believe that he wants to bring this case?” Judge Bates asked.

The lead lawyer for the plaintiffs, Jameel Jaffer of the A.C.L.U., said the question was whether the government has the power to kill any American citizen it labels as a terrorist without review by the courts. “If the Fourth and Fifth Amendments mean anything at all, surely they mean there are limits to the government’s power to use force against its own citizens,” Mr. Jaffer said.

But the government’s lead attorney, Douglas Letter, argued that the lawsuit should be dismissed on multiple procedural grounds without consideration of questions about authorized killings. He said the elder Mr. Awlaki, a former Yemeni minister of agriculture, had no legal standing to bring a case on behalf of his son. Even if he did, Mr. Letter said, the case involves secret security matters the court is not permitted to examine, and the president has sole power over such killings.

If Mr. Awlaki is concerned about being killed, Mr. Letter said, he need only surrender to the authorities. “If he does present himself, he’s under no danger of the U.S. government using lethal force against him,” Mr. Letter said.

Mr. Letter also questioned why Mr. Awlaki, if he is able to release videos and articles on the Internet, could not have filed a lawsuit without the intervention of his father. The judge is expected to rule on whether the case can go forward later this year.

In an apparent coincidence, a 23-minute video showing Mr. Awlaki speaking in Arabic was posted on the Internet on Monday. An excerpt from the video had been released Oct. 23, and it made no reference to the two parcel bombs shipped by Al Qaeda’s branch in Yemen and intercepted Oct. 29 by counterterrorism officials in Dubai and Britain.

Mr. Awlaki, who is thought to be hiding in southern Yemen, is believed to play an active part in the Yemeni branch of the terrorist network known as Al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula. The group on Friday claimed responsibility for the failed parcel bomb plot.

In the new video, Mr. Awlaki appears at a desk wearing traditional Yemeni garb, including a ceremonial dagger, and says no special clerical ruling is required to kill Americans. “Don’t consult with anyone in fighting the Americans; fighting the devil doesn’t require consultation or prayers or seeking divine guidance,” Mr. Awlaki said.

Also in the video, Mr. Awlaki inveighs against Arab leaders who cooperate with the West, and he calls on religious scholars to declare such leaders infidels, making them legitimate targets for assassination. “Kings, emirs and presidents are now not qualified to lead the nation, or even a flock of sheep,” he said. “If the leaders are corrupt, the religious scholars have the responsibility to lead the nation.”

On Saturday, a Yemeni judge called for Mr. Awlaki’s arrest, a few days after he failed to show up at a trial.

Yemen has been under strong American pressure to do something about Mr. Awlaki, particularly since the discovery of the cargo plot. The cleric, born in New Mexico, spent much of his life in the United States before returning to Yemen in 2004.

American officials believe his eloquent sermons play an important role in recruiting jihadists around the world, and he was added to the C.I.A.’s target list after intelligence officials concluded that he had played a role in the attempted bombing of a Detroit-bound airliner last Dec. 25.

http://www.nytimes.com/2010/11/09/world/middleeast/09awlaki.html?ref=world

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« Reply #1819 on: Nov 9th, 2010, 08:53am »

Wired

Star Wars Ships, Droids Look Right at Home in Dubai
By Hugh Hart
November 9, 2010
7:00 am
Categories: Art, Design and Fashion, sci-fi


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Above:
The Falcon's Hiding Place
This landscape will be included in The Dark Lens: Dubai Invasion, on display at The Empty Quarter gallery in Paris from Nov. 18 to Nov. 21, as part of the annual Paris Photo extravaganza.

In Cedric Delsaux's otherworldly photos, the United Arab Emirates serve as a surreal stand-in for Star Wars' extraterrestrial geography, with droids and spaceships tucked into desert vistas and building sites.

Delsaux's new show, The Dark Lens: Dubai Invasion, serves up striking images of the desert city's building boom that — with a little bit of photographic trickery — conjure stark alien vistas.

The photographer traveled to Dubai in February 2009 and spent 10 days shooting. "It is quite impossible for me to pinpoint the exact spots where my pictures were taken," he told Wired.com in an e-mail interview. "Most of the locations I chose are anonymous and discovered by simply wandering around with my camera."

When Delsaux returned to Paris, he "rummaged around for figurines, toys and models," shooting the Star Wars gear in his studio before adding the spaceships and robots to the Dubai scenes he'd already captured. Check out this gallery for a closer look at the photographer's down-to-earth reimaginings of the Star Wars landscape.

photo gallery after the jump
http://www.wired.com/underwire/2010/11/star-wars-dubai-desert/

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« Reply #1820 on: Nov 9th, 2010, 09:03am »

Wired

Corporate Cop’s Covert Video at Issue in Xbox Modding Case
By David Kravets
November 8, 2010 | 4:47 pm | Categories: Digital Millennium Copyright Act, The Courts

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A California man facing trial on accusations he made a business of modifying the Xbox to play pirated games is urging a federal judge to exclude covertly videotaped evidence of him allegedly performing the deed.

Defense attorneys contend that a private investigator with the Entertainment Software Association broke the law when he made the secret video recording of 28-year-old defendant Matthew Crippen modifying an Xbox 360 in Crippen’s residence in Southern California. The California Privacy Act, the defense maintains, made the covert video-recording illegal, because the investigator was not a law enforcement official.

“The sanctity of the home (.pdf) is well established,” Callie Glanton Steele, deputy federal public defender, wrote in a recent court filing.

Crippen, of Anaheim, allegedly ran a business modding Xbox 360s for between $60 and $80 a pop. He was charged with violating the anti-circumvention provision of the Digital Millennium Copyright Act, after he performed silicon surgery for an undercover corporate security investigator with the Entertainment Software Association, then again for an undercover federal agent.

His trial is set for Nov. 30, and would be the first mod-chip case to go to jury trial. The looming courtroom confrontation is drawing interest from freedom-to-tinker advocates, and celebrity hardware-hacker Andrew “Bunnie” Huang has agreed to testify for the defense.

Prosecutors, who did not respond for comment, said the videotaped evidence of the 2008 meeting in question was obtained lawfully. Both sides presented U.S. District Judge Philip Gutierrez with various California precedents and interpretations on whether the taping was lawful in California. The video recording did not include audio, so did not run afoul of other laws prohibiting bugging of conversations.

The Los Angeles investigator, Tony Rosario, did not return messages. Rosario has not been charged with wrongdoing. Steele did not respond for comment.

The government argues that the the tape should be admissible regardless of whether it was made legally, because federal rules of evidence allow it. “[W]hether or not the video recording violates California law is entirely irrelevant to the issues in this case.” (.pdf) The defense conceded that point, but said the tape should be excluded to avoid jury confusion.

“It is essential that the defense test Mr. Rosario’s credibility on cross-examination in the face of his violation of state law,” Steele wrote. “The necessary process of delving into this area of state law risks creating a mini-trial on the question of Mr. Rosario’s violation of state law which will confuse the real issues for the jury’s determination, consume the jury’s time and waste judicial resources a trial.”

The defense is not objecting to a similar video made, in Crippen’s residence, by the federal undercover agent who allegedly paid Crippen about $60 to modify an Xbox. That’s because the California Privacy Act in such circumstances does not prohibit law enforcement officials from making tapes secretly.

Judge Gutierrez of Los Angeles has not yet ruled on the videotape, and is also fielding a government demand that Huang be blocked from testifying for the defense.

http://www.wired.com/threatlevel/2010/11/xbox-trial-dustup/

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« Reply #1821 on: Nov 9th, 2010, 09:05am »






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« Reply #1822 on: Nov 9th, 2010, 09:08am »

LA Times

Program seeks to aid hard-core homeless
By Alexandra Zavis, Times Staff Writer
12:04 AM PST, November 9, 2010

Prominent business leaders are putting their weight behind a plan that they say could make a major dent in homelessness in Los Angeles County, embracing a strategy that will face significant political opposition.

The blueprint they plan to unveil Tuesday seeks to put a permanent roof over the heads of the most entrenched street dwellers, then provide them as much counseling and treatment as they will use.

Because the chronically homeless take up a disproportionate share of resources, the plan's authors argue that focusing on housing them will ultimately free up services for the many more people who need only temporary help to get back on their feet.

"For too long, Los Angeles County has been the homeless capital of the nation," Jerry Neuman and Renee White Fraser, co-chairs of the Los Angeles Business Leaders Task Force on Homelessness, wrote in an introductory letter. "It need not be this way."

Representatives of 22 organizations — including JP Morgan Chase, NBC Universal and Caltech — formed the task force in September 2009 after United Way of Greater L.A. approached the Los Angeles Chamber of Commerce about engaging business leaders to find solutions to homelessness.

The task force spent 10 months meeting with local and national experts and visiting programs that have reduced homelessness in cities such as Denver and Santa Monica.

The key, task force members say, will be getting dozens of local institutions unified on the project. The group is asking county and city authorities, social service organizations, law enforcement agencies and faith-based groups to sign on to a detailed plan they call "Home for Good" by Dec. 1.

Los Angeles County Supervisor Zev Yaroslavsky, who initiated a pilot version of the housing-first strategy known as Project 50, said he gave the plan high marks.

"It is ambitious. It is doable," he said. "I hope the Board of Supervisors will endorse the plan."

But the approach is controversial. Most chronically homeless people have serious physical, mental or substance abuse problems. Supervisor Michael D. Antonovich has complained about spending tax dollars to provide housing to individuals who continue to abuse drugs and avoid treatment, calling the approach "warehousing without healing."

"The supervisor won't agree to any plan to deal with homelessness that does not have mandatory mental health and substance abuse treatment as a component," said Antonovich's spokesman, Tony Bell.

Neuman, a partner at Sheppard Mullin Richter & Hampton LLP, said local authorities spend $650 million a year on the chronically homeless, who are heavy users of hospital emergency rooms, jail cells and other crisis services. The figure accounts for about three-quarters of annual spending on homeless services, although the chronically homeless make up only a quarter of 48,000 or more people sleeping on the streets, in cars and in shelters on any given night in Los Angeles County.

"What we found is that if you can take those people into permanent supportive housing, you can save about 40% of those dollars," Neuman said, citing two local studies.

Proponents of the housing-first approach argue that people are more likely to stick to treatment regimens when they don't have to worry about where they will be sleeping. And if they relapse, social workers know where to find them.

When Project 50 staff found 63-year-old George Givens on the streets of skid row, he had untreated schizophrenia. But since moving into a downtown studio apartment, he collects his medicine every morning from a nurse practitioner who works in the next building.

It took the staff more than two years to persuade Givens to come in off the streets, where he had survived for a decade by collecting cans, cardboard and bottles to recycle. He said others who offered to help him had let him down. But he said he does not miss "being out in the rain and the cold and the pickpockets."

The county program, which initially targeted the 50 people most likely to die on the streets of skid row, has housed 107 people since January 2008. Of the 68 housed in the first two years, 51 remain in the program, seven died, four were incarcerated and six dropped out.

By reallocating an average of $230 million in existing resources each year, the task force argues that by 2015, it would be possible to house all of the estimated 12,000 people who have been living on county streets for more than a year. Half would be accommodated in existing units of supportive housing, which turn over at a rate of 15% to 20% a year. The rest would be provided through new construction, rehabilitation of existing buildings and the creation of mobile teams to provide services to scattered sites.

An additional 6,000 newly homeless veterans could also be housed, using resources from the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs, according to the task force

Helen Berberian, Antonovich's social services deputy, questioned whether it was fair to set aside housing subsidies for the chronically homeless, when other vulnerable people had been waiting years for them.

"The sad thing is that we just don't have enough housing resources, period," she said.

The plan also relies on communities to share not only data collected on their homeless populations but also the burden of housing the county's homeless.

"I think NIMBYism is one of the greatest issues we are going to be tackling," Neuman said. "But the reality is we can create a system which has a safety net for all those people and ends chronic homelessness, so nobody has to be on the streets for a year or longer."

http://www.latimes.com/news/local/la-me-homeless-roadmap-20101109,0,4948617.story

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« Reply #1823 on: Nov 9th, 2010, 11:27am »

Fox News

Missile Shot Off Los Angeles Still a Mystery for Pentagon Officials

Published November 09, 2010

A video that appears to show a missile launch off the coast of California is so far "unexplained" by anyone in the military, a Pentagon spokesman told reporters Tuesday morning

Col. Dave Lapan said he is not able to concur with an official from North American Aerospace Defense Command/U.S. Northern Command who told Fox News earlier that there was "no threat to the homeland."

Lapan said the military doesn't know exactly what the so-called mystery missile was so can't say it's harmless.

A local CBS affiliate in Los Angeles on Monday evening captured on video the image of the "spectacular" projectile flying about 35 miles out to sea, west of Los Angeles and north of Catalina Island.

The Missile Defense Agency told Fox News it did not launch any test missile Monday night that could explain the dramatic images. The Navy and the Air Force were also unable to offer an explanation.

Lapan said it does not appear that whatever was flying was part of a "regularly scheduled missile test." He noted that before a missile test, notifications are sent to mariners and airmen. This does not appear to be the case here.

At this point, the military is working only with video taken from the local news camera, and NORAD and Northcom apparently were not able to detect the contrail on their own.

It appears from the video, Lapan said, the object was launched from the water and not U.S. soil, though at this point there is no way to be certain.

If a test missile or an accidental missile was launched in the region it would have either come from Naval Air Station Point Mugu or Vandenberg Air Force Base. At sea it could have come from a U.S. submarine or a surface ship. But so far, it all remains a mystery.

link to video:
http://www.cbsnews.com/stories/2010/11/09/national/main7036716.shtml

http://www.foxnews.com/politics/2010/11/09/missile-shot-los-angeles-mystery-pentagon-officials/

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« Reply #1824 on: Nov 9th, 2010, 12:41pm »

From the linked page at CBS:

"It could be a test-firing of an intercontinental ballistic missile from a submarine … to demonstrate, mainly to Asia, that we can do that," speculated Ellsworth.

Uh, what? We've only had that capacity for several decades. Surely anyone seeing the video knows we have dozens or hundreds or even thousands more, all ready to launch. Could there possibly be some question about whether we could still do it? Like do we have enough fuel?
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« Reply #1825 on: Nov 9th, 2010, 1:39pm »

on Nov 9th, 2010, 12:41pm, Whack Job wrote:
From the linked page at CBS:

"It could be a test-firing of an intercontinental ballistic missile from a submarine … to demonstrate, mainly to Asia, that we can do that," speculated Ellsworth.

Uh, what? We've only had that capacity for several decades. Surely anyone seeing the video knows we have dozens or hundreds or even thousands more, all ready to launch. Could there possibly be some question about whether we could still do it? Like do we have enough fuel?


Hi Whack Job,
Beats the hell outa me.
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« Reply #1826 on: Nov 9th, 2010, 8:45pm »

http://www.nasa.gov/mission_pages/GLAST/news/new-structure.html

NASA's Fermi Telescope Finds Giant Structure in our Galaxy

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From end to end, the newly discovered gamma-ray bubbles extend 50,000 light-years, or roughly half of the Milky Way's diameter, as shown in this illustration. Hints of the bubbles' edges were first observed in X-rays (blue) by ROSAT, a Germany-led mission operating in the 1990s. The gamma rays mapped by Fermi (magenta) extend much farther from the galaxy's plane. Credit: NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center

WASHINGTON -- NASA's Fermi Gamma-ray Space Telescope has unveiled a previously unseen structure centered in the Milky Way. The feature spans 50,000 light-years and may be the remnant of an eruption from a supersized black hole at the center of our galaxy.

"What we see are two gamma-ray-emitting bubbles that extend 25,000 light-years north and south of the galactic center," said Doug Finkbeiner, an astronomer at the Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics in Cambridge, Mass., who first recognized the feature. "We don't fully understand their nature or origin."

The structure spans more than half of the visible sky, from the constellation Virgo to the constellation Grus, and it may be millions of years old. A paper about the findings has been accepted for publication in The Astrophysical Journal.

Finkbeiner and his team discovered the bubbles by processing publicly available data from Fermi's Large Area Telescope (LAT). The LAT is the most sensitive and highest-resolution gamma-ray detector ever launched. Gamma rays are the highest-energy form of light.

Other astronomers studying gamma rays hadn't detected the bubbles partly because of a fog of gamma rays that appears throughout the sky. The fog happens when particles moving near the speed of light interact with light and interstellar gas in the Milky Way. The LAT team constantly refines models to uncover new gamma-ray sources obscured by this so-called diffuse emission. By using various estimates of the fog, Finkbeiner and his colleagues were able to isolate it from the LAT data and unveil the giant bubbles.

Scientists now are conducting more analyses to better understand how the never-before-seen structure was formed. The bubble emissions are much more energetic than the gamma-ray fog seen elsewhere in the Milky Way. The bubbles also appear to have well-defined edges. The structure's shape and emissions suggest it was formed as a result of a large and relatively rapid energy release - the source of which remains a mystery.

One possibility includes a particle jet from the supermassive black hole at the galactic center. In many other galaxies, astronomers see fast particle jets powered by matter falling toward a central black hole. While there is no evidence the Milky Way's black hole has such a jet today, it may have in the past. The bubbles also may have formed as a result of gas outflows from a burst of star formation, perhaps the one that produced many massive star clusters in the Milky Way's center several million years ago.

"In other galaxies, we see that starbursts can drive enormous gas outflows," said David Spergel, a scientist at Princeton University in New Jersey. "Whatever the energy source behind these huge bubbles may be, it is connected to many deep questions in astrophysics."

Hints of the bubbles appear in earlier spacecraft data. X-ray observations from the German-led Roentgen Satellite suggested subtle evidence for bubble edges close to the galactic center, or in the same orientation as the Milky Way. NASA's Wilkinson Microwave Anisotropy Probe detected an excess of radio signals at the position of the gamma-ray bubbles.

The Fermi LAT team also revealed Tuesday the instrument's best picture of the gamma-ray sky, the result of two years of data collection.

"Fermi scans the entire sky every three hours, and as the mission continues and our exposure deepens, we see the extreme universe in progressively greater detail," said Julie McEnery, Fermi project scientist at NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center in Greenbelt, Md.

NASA's Fermi is an astrophysics and particle physics partnership, developed in collaboration with the U.S. Department of Energy, with important contributions from academic institutions and partners in France, Germany, Italy, Japan, Sweden and the United States.

"Since its launch in June 2008, Fermi repeatedly has proven itself to be a frontier facility, giving us new insights ranging from the nature of space-time to the first observations of a gamma-ray nova," said Jon Morse, Astrophysics Division director at NASA Headquarters in Washington. “These latest discoveries continue to demonstrate Fermi's outstanding performance.”
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« Reply #1827 on: Nov 10th, 2010, 07:37am »

Good morning Swamprat!
Gamma-ray bubbles? Strange.
Crystal
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« Reply #1828 on: Nov 10th, 2010, 07:42am »

New York Times

November 9, 2010
A 24-Karat Safety Net for Investors
By NELSON D. SCHWARTZ and GRAHAM BOWLEY

The price of gold has been rising as anxious investors cast what amounts to a throw-the-bums-out vote against, well, just about everything.

The weak dollar, the volatile stock market, the lackluster economy, the yawning budget deficit, the accommodative Federal Reserve — all this and more have people rushing for gold.

The metal touched a high of $1,424 an ounce on Tuesday, although the price remains well below the peak of the early 1980s once inflation is taken into account.

“It’s in effect a protest vote that there’s something amiss with current policies,” said Abhay Deshpande, a portfolio manager with First Eagle Funds and a longtime gold investor.

“People are almost acting as their own central banks because the advantage of gold is that it acts as a hiding place in times of currency turmoil,” Mr. Deshpande said. A steady drumbeat of higher price targets from Wall Street firms — as well as recent pronouncements from political leaders — has buttressed what was already strong investor demand.

Just as the Tea Party has moved from the political fringes to prominence in Washington, so gold has become a touchstone for policy makers and investors alike. On Monday, the president of the World Bank, Robert B. Zoellick, surprised experts when he suggested the price of gold should be considered a financial yardstick, reversing 40 years of relying on paper currencies to store value in the international monetary system.

Deemed intrinsically valuable for thousands of years, gold has traditionally been a hedge against rising inflation and political or economic uncertainty.

But this time around, investors worry that the Fed’s move last week to pump $600 billion into the nation’s banking system, as well as a surge in borrowing around the world, will undermine paper currencies, making gold a refuge once again.

Over the last two months, the dollar has declined 6 percent against its principal peers, but gold has jumped 17 percent.

At an investor conference in Berlin, whether the worry was inflation, deflation, sovereign debt risk or currency instability, “market participants looked to gold as a potential answer,” said Suki Cooper, precious metals analyst for Barclays Capital.

But it is Washington that has prompted the latest surge.

“As the Fed prints money, markets are anticipating that more dollars will be chasing the same supply of commodities, driving prices higher,” said Daniel Arbess, manager of the Xerion fund at Perella Weinberg Partners in New York.

And while gold is the most obvious example of this trend, other commodities are rising, too. Wheat, copper and cotton all soared on Tuesday.

Nor is gold fever restricted to hedge fund managers wielding billions of dollars. Individual investors have also been clamoring to get in on the trade, scooping up gold coins like one-ounce American Eagles and South African Krugerrands.

“People are coming in to buy 50 or 100 coins at a time, which is pretty hefty for individuals,” said Mark Oliari, chief executive of CNT Inc., a Massachusetts coin broker. “It’s not just rich people, either. A lot of people are putting 30 to 35 percent of their net worth in gold; they are scared to put money in paper assets.”

Signs of gold’s renewed appeal have been building for months, as well-known Wall Street figures like George Soros and John Paulson piled into the metal. JPMorgan Chase even reopened a long-closed vault below the streets of downtown Manhattan to meet investor demand to store the stuff.

And the comments by Mr. Zoellick on Monday only confirm gold’s new status.

“The system should also consider employing gold as an international reference point of market expectations about inflation, deflation and future currency values,” Mr. Zoellick said in an article in The Financial Times . “Although textbooks may view gold as the old money, markets are using gold as an alternative monetary asset today.”

But in a sign of how volatile gold remains, it closed sharply lower at $1,392.90 on Tuesday, down from the intraday high of $1,424, after comments by the governor of the Bank of Canada, Mark J. Carney, that gold “has no role to play in the international monetary system,” according to Reuters.

As gold has become more respectable, it has also become easier to invest in. Some people may still regard bars of gold in a vault as the ultimate insurance policy, but exchange-traded funds, or E.T.F.’s, that hold gold have also exploded in popularity.

Besides driving down the dollar’s value by sharply increasing the amount of dollars in the system, the Fed’s action also helps gold by lowering interest rates. That is because a traditional knock on gold is that it doesn’t yield interest payments or dividends, but with short-term rates closing in on zero, there is much less to lose by holding gold.

In addition to the opposition from investors, the Fed’s decision to pump $600 billion into the banking system, a policy known as quantitative easing, has met with sharp criticism from several of America’s crucial trading partners, including Germany, China and Brazil.

They say flooding the world with unwanted capital at a time when their own economies are already growing at a brisk clip increases the odds of inflation down the road while encouraging one country after another to devalue its currency.

As the dollar has fallen, countries like Thailand, Japan, Brazil and others have taken steps to weaken their own currencies, in what some see as the beginning of a race to the bottom.

“This bears some resemblance to the 1930s and the beggar-thy-neighbor strategy of currency depreciation between the pound, franc, D-mark and dollar,” said James Steel, chief commodities analyst at HSBC. “In that period, gold also did very well.”

Since the depths of the financial crisis two years ago, gold has risen 91 percent, and it is nearly a third higher than just one year ago, according to Janney Montgomery Scott.

While gold has touched new records in nominal terms, when adjusted for inflation the price remains 40 percent below its real record high, which was reached in 1980. What is surprising economists is not the rise of gold prices, but the speed of its ascent.

As a result, even longtime gold investors, like Mr. Deshpande, worry that the current rally might be overdone. “It’s beginning to smell a little like the beginning stages of a bubble,” he said. “Either inflation has to pick up or currencies have to plunge to justify a continuing rise.”

http://www.nytimes.com/2010/11/10/business/10gold.html?_r=1&hp

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« Reply #1829 on: Nov 10th, 2010, 07:49am »

New York Times

November 9, 2010
No Criminal Charges Sought Over C.I.A. Tapes
By MARK MAZZETTI and CHARLIE SAVAGE

WASHINGTON — Central Intelligence Agency officials will not face criminal charges for the destruction of dozens of videotapes depicting the brutal interrogation of terrorism suspects, the Justice Department said Tuesday.

After a closely watched investigation of nearly three years, the decision by a special federal prosecutor is the latest example of Justice Department officials’ declining to seek criminal penalties for some of the controversial episodes in the C.I.A.’s now defunct detention and interrogation program. The destruction of the tapes, in particular, was seen as so striking that the Bush administration itself launched the special investigation after the action was publicly disclosed.

Government officials said Tuesday that the special prosecutor, John H. Durham, could still decide to charge current and former C.I.A. officers and lawyers with making false statements to a grand jury over the course of the investigation, which began in January 2008.

In addition, the prosecutor has yet to close another aspect of his investigation, focused on the death or abuse of detainees in the hands of C.I.A. officers who used tactics that had not been approved by the Justice Department.

“The investigation is ongoing,” said Tom Carson, a spokesman for Mr. Durham.

Justice Department officials provided no details of Mr. Durham’s decision. However, one impediment to the case was that the officials who destroyed the tapes claimed to have gotten approvals from C.I.A. lawyers. Similar claims have also posed obstacles to investigating the Bush administration’s use of brutal interrogations and secret prisons in the years immediately following the Sept. 11 attacks.

The key figure in the tape destruction incident was Jose A. Rodriguez Jr., the former head of the agency’s clandestine service. In November 2005, he ordered his staff to destroy tapes of the interrogations of Abu Zubaydah and Abd al-Rahim al-Nashiri, the first two detainees held in secret overseas prisons. The tapes had been kept in a safe in the agency’s station in Thailand, the country in which the interrogations were conducted in 2002.

According to current and former government officials, Mr. Rodriguez told his superiors that two lawyers inside the C.I.A.’s clandestine service, Robert Eatinger and Steven Hermes, had signed off on his order to destroy the tapes.

Internal C.I.A. e-mails, released earlier this year in response to a Freedom of Information Act lawsuit by the American Civil Liberties Union, showed that Mr. Rodriguez had argued that “the heat” agency officials would take over destroying the tapes “is nothing compared to what it would be if the tapes ever got into the public domain.”

Mr. Rodriguez told another top C.I.A. official that if the images were disclosed “out of context, they would make us look terrible; it would be ‘devastating’ to us,” an e-mail said. The tapes showed hours of interrogation of the two detainees, including the infliction of a technique called waterboarding that simulates drowning.

The e-mails showed that the tapes were destroyed on the morning of Nov. 9, 2005. Officials announced the decision on Tuesday because the five-year statute of limitations for filing criminal charges relating to the tapes’ destruction had expired.

The agency had withheld the fact that the tapes existed from both the federal courts and the Sept. 11 Commission, which had asked the agency for records of the interrogations. The existence and subsequent destruction of the tapes was first revealed by The New York Times in December 2007.

Robert S. Bennett, Mr. Rodriguez’s attorney, said in an interview that he was pleased that the Justice Department “did the right thing.”

Mr. Rodriguez is “a hero and a patriot, who simply wanted to protect his people and his country,” Mr. Bennett said.

Leon E. Panetta, the C.I.A. director, said in a statement that the C.I.A. was “pleased with the decision” not to bring charges against agency officers involved in destroying the tapes, and that the agency would continue to cooperate with other aspects of the Justice Department’s investigation. But Anthony Romero, the executive director of the American Civil Liberties Union, condemned Mr. Durham’s failure to file charges for obstruction of justice. He noted that the tapes were pertinent to litigation pending at the time that the agency destroyed them, including an A.C.L.U. Freedom of Information Act lawsuit seeking documents and images related to interrogations.

Mr. Durham, a career federal prosecutor based in Connecticut, was appointed in January 2008 by Attorney General Michael Mukasey to investigate whether destroying the tapes was a crime. In August 2009, the new attorney general, Eric H. Holder Jr., expanded Mr. Durham’s mandate to include looking into whether crimes had been committed in the interrogation program, an investigation that remains open.

At the time, Mr. Holder cited a 2004 report by the C.I.A. inspector general that discussed several instances in which detainees died during interrogations by agency officials in Iraq and Afghanistan. It also documented the use of unauthorized techniques — like mock executions, threats to family members and inflicting waterboarding — more often than the department had approved.

When he expanded Mr. Durham’s mandate, Mr. Holder also stressed that the Justice Department would “not prosecute anyone who acted in good faith and within the scope of the legal guidance given by the Office of Legal Counsel regarding the interrogation of detainees.”

Mr. Holder was referring to once secret Justice Department memorandums asserting that certain interrogation techniques, like stripping prisoners naked, keeping them awake for long periods, slamming them into walls and subjecting them to waterboarding, would not violate antitorture laws.

Many legal scholars have contended that the memorandums gave a false reading of the law, and other officials in the Bush-era Justice Department later rescinded the legal guidance. But because the Justice Department had initially signed off on the techniques, it is considered essentially impossible for the department to prosecute officials who relied on the memorandums.

In his newly released memoir, former President George W. Bush writes that he personally authorized the C.I.A. to use the techniques in 2002, after obtaining assurances from government lawyers that the interrogation program would be lawful.

“I have been troubled by the blowback against the intelligence community and Justice Department for their role in the surveillance and interrogation programs,” Mr. Bush wrote.

“Our intelligence officers carried out their orders with skill and courage, and they deserve our gratitude for protecting our nation. Legal officials in my administration did their best to resolve complex issues in a time of extraordinary danger to our country. Their successors are entitled to disagree with their conclusions. But criminalizing differences of legal opinion would set a terrible precedent for our democracy.”


http://www.nytimes.com/2010/11/10/world/10tapes.html?ref=world

Crystal
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