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 veryhotthread  Author  Topic: Stuff & Nonsense  (Read 90893 times)
WingsofCrystal
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« Reply #2010 on: Nov 28th, 2010, 09:30am »

LA Times

Death has cast a long shadow over Hollywood

Publicist Ronni Chasen's slaying in Beverly Hills is the latest in a string
of deaths that date to at least 1922, when director William Desmond
Taylor was found fatally shot in his bachelor pad near 4th and Alvarado streets.

By Steve Harvey
November 28, 2010


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Actress Thelma Todd, shown here with husband Pat DiCicco,
was found dead in her Lincoln Phaeton convertible in Pacific Palisades in December 1935.
(WIDE WORLD PHOTOS, WIDE WORLD PHOTOS / November 28, 2010)



Several days after Hollywood publicist Ronni Chasen was found shot to death in her Mercedes-Benz, a friend voiced the hope to KNBC-TV news that the case wouldn't turn into "another Black Dahlia."

The friend was referring to the 1947 slaying of aspiring actress Elizabeth Short, which has never been solved.

Of course, mysterious deaths with links to Hollywood date to at least 1922, when debonair director William Desmond Taylor was found slain in his fashionable bachelor pad near the corner of 4th and Alvarado streets.

Taylor's valet cried out the news that morning and an actress neighbor quickly notified the director's acquaintances, including those in the habit of writing love letters.

By the time officers arrived, author Sidney Kirkpatrick wrote in The Times, there "appeared to be a party at Taylor's bungalow: Paramount actors, actresses and executives rummaging through bedroom drawers and closets, a butler washing dishes and an unnamed extra walking out the front door with a case of bootleg gin.

"Everyone in the bungalow seemed to be looking for something, except the host, who was neatly laid out on the living room floor with a bullet hole in the middle of his back."

"Persons of interest" abounded: an actress with a crush on Taylor; an actress' mother with a crush on Taylor; an actress' drug dealer; a thieving valet (who may have secretly been Taylor's brother); a wife whom Taylor had deserted in the East; and a soldier from his wartime regiment whom Taylor had court-martialed for theft.

Police were pretty sure the butler didn't do it, but they were certain of little else. No one was ever arrested.

Mystery has also surrounded cases in which the authorities concluded no homicide took place.

In "Deadly Illusions," for instance, authors Samuel Marx and Joyce Vanderveen argue that director Paul Bern did not shoot himself in 1932, as the coroner had ruled. They contend that an ex-lover did in Bern, the husband of bombshell actress Jean Harlow.

In another case, the body of beautiful actress Thelma Todd was discovered in December 1935 in her Lincoln Phaeton convertible in a garage near her cafe in Pacific Palisades.

The coroner ruled she died of carbon monoxide poisoning after turning on the ignition and striking her head on the steering wheel.

But others theorized she may have been killed by a film director or an abusive ex-husband or even minions of Lucky Luciano, whom she had angered by refusing to allow casino gambling on the property.

Todd's death followed a series of show-business scandals, and "the studio bosses were worried that many of the Americans who paid to see movies wouldn't tolerate yet another," wrote authors Marvin Wolf and Katherine Mader in "Fallen Angels."

"An official finding of death by her own hand, accidental, or otherwise, put an end to speculation about murder.... A neat and tidy solution."

Then there was the case of George Reeves, TV's " Superman," who died in 1959 not by jumping out a window — as one urban myth has it — but by gunshot.

It was ruled a suicide and connected to Reeves' inability to land serious roles after his "Superman" days.

But in "Hollywood Kryptonite," authors Sam Kashner and Nancy Schoenberger assert that he may have been killed on orders of a studio executive whose wife was having an affair with Reeves.

No one, of course, thought the 1978 bludgeoning death of Bob Crane — the star of TV's "Hogan's Heroes" — in a Scottsdale, Ariz., apartment was anything but murder.

In 1994, John Henry Carpenter, a friend of Crane's and a longtime suspect, was tried for the slaying but acquitted.

Prosecutors alleged that Carpenter, who was with Crane the night before the killing, had had a falling out with the actor.

Their case hinged in part on a photograph of a speck found on the door of Carpenter's rental car, which prosecutors said was fatty matter from Crane's skull.

Unfortunately, the speck was lost before the trial started. "What was the speck?" asked the jury foreman later.

Officially, the case remains unsolved.

The Times' Larry Harnisch attributes fascination with the Black Dahlia case to the fact that the killing was a "gruesome, unsolved murder of an attractive victim with a haunting nickname."

She picked up the nickname because of her black outfits and black hair and because a movie of that era was titled "The Blue Dahlia."

Short's mutilated body was found Jan. 15, 1947, in a vacant lot on Norton Avenue in the Leimert Park area.

More than 50 delusional characters confessed. No one was ever arrested.

Over the years, the villain has variously been identified as a pipe salesman, a doctor, a cop, a mobster, a cafe owner and an actor.

Meanwhile, it is too soon to predict the outcome of the investigation into the Nov. 16 slaying of Ronni Chasen. But, as the above cases illustrate (all too brutally), not every Hollywood story has a happy ending. And some have no ending at all.

http://www.latimes.com/news/local/la-me-1128-then-20101128,0,7479991.story

Crystal
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« Reply #2011 on: Nov 28th, 2010, 09:42am »

io9.com

The strange case of the man who went blind when he had sex
28 November 2010
By Alasdair Wilkins

Sex can cause spikes in your heart rate, blood pressure, nervous system activity...and, for one poor soul, temporary blindness. Yes, that old wives' tale about sexual gratification making people go blind has, at long last, been proven true...sort of.

The ever awesome NCBI ROFL: http://blogs.discovermagazine.com/discoblog/2010/11/26/ncbi-rofl-when-love-literally-makes-you-blind/
has the scoop on this strange case history:

Our patient experienced transient monocular visual loss every time he reached the climax of sexual intercourse, but never while performing strenuous physical exercise.

We don't know why it was just sex that was causing the blindness, but the researchers figured out it was vasoconstriction, which is where the muscle walls contract around a blood vessel, restricting the flow of blood:

"Hypothetical mechanisms of transient monocular visual loss in our patient include vasoconstriction or embolism in the arterial blood supply of the eye. The repeated and completely transient nature of our patient's symptoms supports the fact that embolism was not involved, whereas the resolution of the symptoms after initiation of the treatment with the vasodilator enalapril supports vasoconstriction as the cause of transient blindness."

Interestingly, vasoconstriction is the very same condition that causes erectile dysfunction, in which not enough blood can reach the penis to sustain an erection. All right, I think I've lobbed about a dozen different softball set-ups to all the filthy-minded comedians out there, so have at it.

http://io9.com/5700436/the-strange-case-of-the-man-who-went-blind-when-he-had-sex

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« Reply #2012 on: Nov 28th, 2010, 11:15am »

Gawker

Twitter has out-leaked the leakers.

About 12 hours before Wikileaks latest enormous leak was scheduled to be released, a Twitter user bought a copy of a German news magazine outlining the leak after it was placed on newstands too early.

According to tweets from German-speaking Twitter users who snagged an embargoed copy of this week's Der Spiegel, the cache of over 250,000 confidential diplomatic cables may be a bit of a let-down. At least from the German point of view there are no earth-shattering revelations, just a lot of candid talk about German leaders. Angela Merkel is praised as "teflon," while German foreign minister Guido Westerwelle is repeatedly bashed. There is talk of Italian Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi's "wild parties," (duh) and Iranian president Mahmoud Ahmadinejad is likened to Hitler. The cables also show Obama has "no emotional relationship with Europe," focusing instead on Asian countries, according to Der Spiegel.

The full tranche of cables are apparently scheduled to be released by Wikileaks this afternoon at around 4:30 pm EST in concert with The New York Times, the Guardian and Der Spiegel. But this morning, a sharp-eyed Twitter user spotted a copy of Der Spiegel at a a rest area on the Germany-Switzerland border. "Der Spiegel too early in the Badische Bahnhof Basel!" wrote Freelancer_09. "We'll see what it says...... smiley" He and another user, sa7yr, have been tweeting excerpts for a few hours now.

It's the biggest leak since Kanye West's new album! But Wikileaks has bigger problems: They just tweeted "We are currently under a mass distributed denial of service attack." The attack has apparently brought Wikileaks.org down.

[Sueddeutsche.de: http://www.sueddeutsche.de/politik/wikileaks-enthuellungen-im-netz-unberechenbar-und-mit-begrenztem-horizont-1.1029368
Radio Basel: http://www.radiobasel.ch/aktuell/nachrichten/weltweit-erwarteter-spiegel-schon-am-bad-bahnhof-2010-11-28]

http://gawker.com/5700580/

Crystal

edit to add: I've been trying to access Wikileaks all morning and can't get on.
« Last Edit: Nov 28th, 2010, 11:17am by WingsofCrystal » User IP Logged

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« Reply #2013 on: Nov 28th, 2010, 12:33pm »

Guardian

US embassy cables leak sparks global diplomacy crisis

• More than 250,000 dispatches reveal US foreign strategies
• Diplomats ordered to spy on allies as well as enemies
• Hillary Clinton leads frantic 'damage limitation'

David Leigh
guardian.co.uk,
Sunday
28 November 2010 17.50 GMT

The United States was catapulted into a worldwide diplomatic crisis today, with the leaking to the Guardian and other international media of more than 250,000 classified cables from its embassies, many sent as recently as February this year.

At the start of a series of daily extracts from the US embassy cables - many of which are designated "secret" – the Guardian can disclose that Arab leaders are privately urging an air strike on Iran and that US officials have been instructed to spy on the UN's leadership.

These two revelations alone would be likely to reverberate around the world. But the secret dispatches which were obtained by WikiLeaks, the whistlebowers' website, also reveal Washington's evaluation of many other highly sensitive international issues.

These include a major shift in relations between China and North Korea, Pakistan's growing instability and details of clandestine US efforts to combat al-Qaida in Yemen.

Among scores of other disclosures that are likely to cause uproar, the cables detail:

Grave fears in Washington and London over the security of Pakistan's nuclear weapons programme

Alleged links between the Russian government and organised crime.

Devastating criticism of the UK's military operations in Afghanistan.

Claims of inappropriate behaviour by a member of the British royal family.

The US has particularly intimate dealings with Britain, and some of the dispatches from the London embassy in Grosvenor Square will make uncomfortable reading in Whitehall and Westminster. They range from serious political criticisms of David Cameron to requests for specific intelligence about individual MPs.

The cache of cables contains specific allegations of corruption and against foreign leaders, as well as harsh criticism by US embassy staff of their host governments, from tiny islands in the Caribbean to China and Russia.

The material includes a reference to Vladimir Putin as an "alpha-dog", Hamid Karzai as being "driven by paranoia" and Angela Merkel allegedly "avoids risk and is rarely creative". There is also a comparison between Mahmoud Ahmadinejad and Adolf Hitler.

The cables name countries involved in financing terror groups, and describe a near "environmental disaster" last year over a rogue shipment of enriched uranium. They disclose technical details of secret US-Russian nuclear missile negotiations in Geneva, and include a profile of Libyan leader Muammar Gaddafi, who they say is accompanied everywhere by a "voluptuous blonde" Ukrainian nurse.

The cables cover secretary of state Hillary Clinton's activities under the Obama administration, as well as thousands of files from the George Bush presidency. Clinton personally led frantic damage limitation this weekend as Washington prepared foreign governments for the revelations. She contacted leaders in Germany, Saudi Arabia, the Gulf, France and Afghanistan.

US ambassadors in other capitals were instructed to brief their hosts in advance of the release of unflattering pen-portraits or nakedly frank accounts of transactions with the US which they had thought would be kept quiet. Washington now faces a difficult task in convincing contacts around the world that any future conversations will remain confidential.

"We are all bracing for what may be coming and condemn WikiLeaks for the release of classified material," state department spokesman PJ Crowley said. "It will place lives and interests at risk. It is irresponsible."

The state department's legal adviser has written to Wikileaks founder Julian Assange and his London lawyer, warning that the cables were obtained illegally and that publication would place at risk "the lives of countless innocent individuals … ongoing military operations … and cooperation between countries".

The electronic archive of embassy dispatches from around the world was allegedly downloaded by a US soldier earlier this year and passed to WikiLeaks. Assange made them available to the Guardian and four other newspapers: the New York Times, Der Spiegel in Germany, Le Monde in France and El País in Spain. All five plan to publish extracts from the most significant cables, but have decided neither to "dump" the entire dataset into the public domain, nor to publish names that would endanger innocent individuals. WikiLeaks says that, contrary to the state department's fears, it also initially intends to post only limited cable extracts, and to redact identities.

The cables published today reveal how the US uses its embassies as part of a global espionage network, with diplomats tasked to obtain not just information from the people they meet, but personal details, such as frequent flyer numbers, credit card details and even DNA material.

Classified "human intelligence directives" issued in the name of Hillary Clinton or her predecessor, Condoleeza Rice, instruct officials to gather information on military installations, weapons markings, vehicle details of political leaders as well as iris scans, fingerprints and DNA.

The most controversial target was the leadership of the United Nations. That directive requested the specification of telecoms and IT systems used by top UN officials and their staff and details of "private VIP networks used for official communication, to include upgrades, security measures, passwords, personal encryption keys".

When the Guardian put this allegation to Crowley, the state department spokesman said: "Let me assure you: our diplomats are just that, diplomats. They do not engage in intelligence activities. They represent our country around the world, maintain open and transparent contact with other governments as well as public and private figures, and report home. That's what diplomats have done for hundreds of years."

The dispatches also shed light on older diplomatic issues. One cable, for example, reveals, that Nelson Mandela was "furious" when a top adviser stopped him meeting Margaret Thatcher shortly after his release from prison to explain why the ANC objected to her policy of "constructive engagement" with the apartheid regime. "We understand Mandela was keen for a Thatcher meeting but that [appointments secretary Zwelakhe] Sisulu argued successfully against it," according to the cable. It continues: "Mandela has on several occasions expressed his eagerness for an early meeting with Thatcher to express the ANC's objections to her policy. We were consequently surprised when the meeting didn't materialise on his mid-April visit to London and suspected that ANC hardliners had nixed Mandela's plans."

more after the jump


http://www.guardian.co.uk/world/2010/nov/28/us-embassy-cable-leak-diplomacy-crisis

Crystal
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« Reply #2014 on: Nov 28th, 2010, 12:54pm »

New York Times

November 28, 2010
Cables Shine Light Into Secret Diplomatic Channels
By SCOTT SHANE and ANDREW W. LEHREN

WASHINGTON — A cache of a quarter-million confidential American diplomatic cables, most of them from the past three years, provides an unprecedented look at backroom bargaining by embassies around the world, brutally candid views of foreign leaders and frank assessments of nuclear and terrorist threats.

Some of the cables, made available to The New York Times and several other news organizations, were written as recently as late February, revealing the Obama administration’s exchanges over crises and conflicts. The material was originally obtained by WikiLeaks, an organization devoted to revealing secret documents. WikiLeaks intends to make the archive public on its Web site in batches, beginning Sunday.

The anticipated disclosure of the cables is already sending shudders through the diplomatic establishment, and could conceivably strain relations with some countries, influencing international affairs in ways that are impossible to predict.

Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton and American ambassadors around the world have been contacting foreign officials in recent days to alert them to the expected disclosures. On Saturday, the State Department’s legal adviser, Harold Hongju Koh, wrote to a lawyer for WikiLeaks informing the organization that the distribution of the cables was illegal and could endanger lives, disrupt military and counterterrorism operations and undermine international cooperation against nuclear proliferation and other threats.

The cables, a huge sampling of the daily traffic between the State Department and some 270 embassies and consulates, amount to a secret chronicle of the United States’ relations with the world in an age of war and terrorism. Among their revelations, to be detailed in The Times in coming days:

¶ A dangerous standoff with Pakistan over nuclear fuel: Since 2007, the United States has mounted a highly secret effort, so far unsuccessful, to remove from a Pakistani research reactor highly enriched uranium that American officials fear could be diverted for use in an illicit nuclear device. In May 2009, Ambassador Anne W. Patterson reported that Pakistan was refusing to schedule a visit by American technical experts because, as a Pakistani official said, “if the local media got word of the fuel removal, ‘they certainly would portray it as the United States taking Pakistan’s nuclear weapons,’ he argued.”

¶ Gaming out an eventual collapse of North Korea: American and South Korean officials have discussed the prospects for a unified Korea, should the North’s economic troubles and political transition lead the state to implode. The South Koreans even considered commercial inducements to China, according to the American ambassador to Seoul. She told Washington in February that South Korean officials believe that the right business deals would “help salve” China’s “concerns about living with a reunified Korea” that is in a “benign alliance” with the United States.

¶ Bargaining to empty the Guantánamo Bay prison: When American diplomats pressed other countries to resettle detainees, they became reluctant players in a State Department version of “Let’s Make a Deal.” Slovenia was told to take a prisoner if it wanted to meet with President Obama, while the island nation of Kiribati was offered incentives worth millions of dollars to take in a group of detainees, cables from diplomats recounted. The Americans, meanwhile, suggested that accepting more prisoners would be “a low-cost way for Belgium to attain prominence in Europe.”

¶ Suspicions of corruption in the Afghan government: When Afghanistan’s vice president visited the United Arab Emirates last year, local authorities working with the Drug Enforcement Administration discovered that he was carrying $52 million in cash. With wry understatement, a cable from the American Embassy in Kabul called the money “a significant amount” that the official, Ahmed Zia Massoud, “was ultimately allowed to keep without revealing the money’s origin or destination.” (Mr. Massoud denies taking any money out of Afghanistan.)

¶ A global computer hacking effort: China’s Politburo directed the intrusion into Google’s computer systems in that country, a Chinese contact told the American Embassy in Beijing in January, one cable reported. The Google hacking was part of a coordinated campaign of computer sabotage carried out by government operatives, private security experts and Internet outlaws recruited by the Chinese government. They have broken into American government computers and those of Western allies, the Dalai Lama and American businesses since 2002, cables said.

¶ Mixed records against terrorism: Saudi donors remain the chief financiers of Sunni militant groups like Al Qaeda, and the tiny Persian Gulf state of Qatar, a generous host to the American military for years, was the “worst in the region” in counterterrorism efforts, according to a State Department cable last December. Qatar’s security service was “hesitant to act against known terrorists out of concern for appearing to be aligned with the U.S. and provoking reprisals,” the cable said.

¶ An intriguing alliance: American diplomats in Rome reported in 2009 on what their Italian contacts described as an extraordinarily close relationship between Vladimir V. Putin, the Russian prime minister, and Silvio Berlusconi, the Italian prime minister and business magnate, including “lavish gifts,” lucrative energy contracts and a “shadowy” Russian-speaking Italian go-between. They wrote that Mr. Berlusconi “appears increasingly to be the mouthpiece of Putin” in Europe. The diplomats also noted that while Mr. Putin enjoys supremacy over all other public figures in Russia, he is undermined by an unmanageable bureaucracy that often ignores his edicts.

¶ Arms deliveries to militants: Cables describe the United States’ failing struggle to prevent Syria from supplying arms to Hezbollah in Lebanon, which has amassed a huge stockpile since its 2006 war with Israel. One week after President Bashar al-Assad promised a top State Department official that he would not send “new” arms to Hezbollah, the United States complained that it had information that Syria was providing increasingly sophisticated weapons to the group.

¶ Clashes with Europe over human rights: American officials sharply warned Germany in 2007 not to enforce arrest warrants for Central Intelligence Agency officers involved in a bungled operation in which an innocent German citizen with the same name as a suspected militant was mistakenly kidnapped and held for months in Afghanistan. A senior American diplomat told a German official “that our intention was not to threaten Germany, but rather to urge that the German government weigh carefully at every step of the way the implications for relations with the U.S.”

The 251,287 cables, first acquired by WikiLeaks, were provided to The Times by an intermediary on the condition of anonymity. Many are unclassified, and none are marked “top secret,” the government’s most secure communications status. But some 11,000 are classified “secret,” 9,000 are labeled “noforn,” shorthand for material considered too delicate to be shared with any foreign government, and 4,000 are designated both secret and noforn.

Many more cables name diplomats’ confidential sources, from foreign legislators and military officers to human rights activists and journalists, often with a warning to Washington: “Please protect” or “Strictly protect.”

The Times has withheld from articles and removed from documents it is posting online the names of some people who spoke privately to diplomats and might be at risk if they were publicly identified. The Times is also withholding some passages or entire cables whose disclosure could compromise American intelligence efforts.


more after the jump
http://www.nytimes.com/2010/11/29/world/29cables.html?hp

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« Reply #2015 on: Nov 28th, 2010, 1:48pm »



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« Reply #2016 on: Nov 28th, 2010, 4:59pm »

U.S. Army Unveils 'Revolutionary' XM25 Rifle in Afghanistan

By Joshua Rhett Miller
Published November 28, 2010

FoxNews.com

Since the dawn of modern warfare, the best way to stay alive in the face of incoming fire has been to take cover behind a wall. But thanks to a game-changing "revolutionary" rifle, the U.S. Army has made that tactic dead on arrival. Now the enemy can run, but he can't hide.

After years of development, the U.S. Army has unleashed a new weapon in Afghanistan -- the XM25 Counter Defilade Target Engagement System, a high-tech rifle that can be programmed so that its 25-mm. ammunition does not necessarily explode on impact. Instead, it can be set to detonate either in front of or behind a target, meaning it literally will go through a wall before it explodes and kills the enemy.

It also has a range of roughly 2,300 feet -- nearly the length of eight football fields -- making it possible to fire at targets well past the range of the rifles and carbines that most soldiers carry today.

Lt. Col. Christopher Lehner, project manager for the semi-automatic, shoulder-fired weapon system for the U.S. Army's Program Executive Office Soldier, said that the XM25's capability alone is such a "game-changer" that it'll lead to new ways of fighting on the battlefield, beginning this month in Afghanistan.

"With this weapon system, we take away cover from [enemy targets] forever," Lehner told FoxNews.com on Wednesday. "Tactics are going to have to be rewritten. The only thing we can see [enemies] being able to do is run away."

And that would make it much easier for U.S. troops to put them in their sights, either with that same XM25 or another direct-fire weapon.

With this new weapon in the Army's arsenal, Lehner said, "We're much more effective, by many magnitudes, than current weapons at the squad level. We're able to shoot farther and more accurately, and our soldiers can stay behind sandbags, walls or rocks, which provides them protection from fire."

Lehner said the first XM25s were distributed to combat units in Afghanistan this month. The 12-pound, 29-inch system, which was designed by Minnesota's Alliant Techsystems, costs up to $35,000 per unit and, while highly sophisticated, is so easy to use that soldiers become proficient within minutes.

"That's how intuitively easy it is, even though it's high-tech," Lehner said. "All a soldier needs to know how to do is laze the target. It decimates anything within its lethal radius."

Once the trigger is pulled and the round leaves the barrel, a computer chip inside the projectile communicates exactly how far it has traveled, allowing for precise detonation behind or ahead of any target.

"We have found that this has really made our soldiers so much more accurate and being able to deliver this high-explosive round in about five seconds," said Lehner, taking into account the time it takes a soldier to laze, aim and fire the weapon. Once fired, Lehner said, the round will reach its target in a "second or two," meaning the entire process from aiming to direct hit lasts less than 10 seconds, compared to 10 minutes or longer for traditional mortar fire.

A potential battlefield scenario, according to Army officials, might go something like this:

-- A patrol encounters an enemy combatant in a walled Afghan village who fires an AK-47 intermittently from behind cover, exposing himself only for a brief second to fire.

-- The patrol's leader calls for the XM25 gunman, who uses the weapon's laser range finder to calculate the distance to the target.

-- He then uses an incremental button located near the trigger to add 1 meter to the round's distance, since the enemy is hiding behind a wall.

-- The round is fired, and it explodes with a blast comparable to a hand grenade past the wall and above the enemy.

"This is revolutionary for many reasons," Lehner said, citing increased efficiency, safety and lethality. "This is the first time we're putting smart technology in an individual weapon system for our soldiers. We feel it's very important to field this because it keeps us ahead of the technological curve of our potential enemies. We have a feeling other people will try to copy us -- this is the future."

Lehner said the Army plans to purchase at least 12,500 XM25 systems beginning next year -- enough for one system in each infantry squad and Special Forces team.

The military isn't overly concerned that the weapon might be captured by the enemy, because they would be unable to obtain its highly specialized ammunition, batteries and other components. Lehner said he expects other nations will try to copy its technology, but it will be very cost-prohibitive.

"This is a game-changer," Lehner said. "The enemy has learned to get cover, for hundreds if not thousands of years.
"Well, they can't do that anymore. We're taking that cover from them and there's only two outcomes: We're going to get you behind that cover or force you to flee. So no matter what, we gotcha."

Read more and see slide show: http://www.foxnews.com/scitech/2010/11/24/armys-revolutionary-rifle-use-afghanistan/#ixzz16cJaiFaj

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« Reply #2017 on: Nov 28th, 2010, 5:17pm »

Hey Swamprat! I hope you had a great Thanksgiving!

Great article and slideshow, thank you. Here's a photo of that XM25:

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« Reply #2018 on: Nov 28th, 2010, 9:40pm »

Hollywood Reporter

9:17 PM 11/28/2010
by Kimberly Nordyke


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Leslie Nielsen, the actor best known for starring in such comedies as Airplane! and the Naked Gun film franchise, died Sunday of complications from pneumonia at a hospital near his home in Ft. Lauderdale, Fla. He was 84.

“We are sadden by the passing of beloved actor Leslie Nielsen, probably best remembered as Lt. Frank Drebin in The Naked Gun series of pictures, but who enjoyed a more than 60-year career in motion pictures and television," said a statement from Nielsen's family released through his rep.

Nielsen was born Feb. 11, 1926, in Regina, Saskatchewan, Canada. His acting career spanned several decades, starting in the 1950s with episodes of series including The Philco-Goodyear Television Playhouse and Tales of Tomorrow and encompassing several genres. But he became known in later years for his deadpan delivery in comedies featuring absurd situations, including 1980s's Airplane!, a parody of Zero Hour!, Airport and other movies about flying.

After Airplane! became a hit, the film's directors -- Jim Abrahams, David Zucker and Jerry Zucker -- wanted to take the film's slapstick style of comedy to TV. They asked Nielsen to play the lead role in their new series Police Squad!

In the show, Nielsen played Frank Drebin, a stereotypical police officer modeled after characters in earlier police TV series. The show lasted only six episodes but earned Nielsen an Emmy nom for lead actor in a comedy series.

Six years later, Nielsen reprised his role for a feature-length version of the show, Naked Gun: From the Files of Police Squad, as well as two sequels.

Other credits include 1956's Forbidden Planet, the 1960s TV series Peyton Place, Dr. Kildare and The Bold Ones: The Protectors. In more recent years, he starred as the title character in 1997's Mr. Magoo and appeared in the parodies Scary Movie 3 (2003), Scary Movie 4 (2006) and Superhero Movie (2008).

In lieu of flowers, Nielsen's family is asking that donations be made in his name "to the charity of your choice."

http://www.hollywoodreporter.com/news/leslie-nielsen-dies-age-84-49651

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« Reply #2019 on: Nov 29th, 2010, 08:12am »

New York Times

November 28, 2010
U.S. Expands Role of Diplomats in Spying
By MARK MAZZETTI

WASHINGTON — The United States has expanded the role of American diplomats in collecting intelligence overseas and at the United Nations, ordering State Department personnel to gather the credit card and frequent-flier numbers, work schedules and other personal information of foreign dignitaries.

Revealed in classified State Department cables, the directives, going back to 2008, appear to blur the traditional boundaries between statesmen and spies.

The cables give a laundry list of instructions for how State Department employees can fulfill the demands of a “National Humint Collection Directive.” (“Humint” is spy-world jargon for human intelligence collection.) One cable asks officers overseas to gather information about “office and organizational titles; names, position titles and other information on business cards; numbers of telephones, cellphones, pagers and faxes,” as well as “internet and intranet ‘handles’, internet e-mail addresses, web site identification-URLs; credit card account numbers; frequent-flier account numbers; work schedules, and other relevant biographical information.”

Philip J. Crowley, a State Department spokesman, on Sunday disputed that American diplomats had assumed a new role overseas.

“Our diplomats are just that, diplomats,” he said. “They represent our country around the world and engage openly and transparently with representatives of foreign governments and civil society. Through this process, they collect information that shapes our policies and actions. This is what diplomats, from our country and other countries, have done for hundreds of years.”

The cables, sent to embassies in the Middle East, Eastern Europe, Latin America and the United States mission to the United Nations, provide no evidence that American diplomats are actively trying to steal the secrets of foreign countries, work that is traditionally the preserve of spy agencies. While the State Department has long provided information about foreign officials’ duties to the Central Intelligence Agency to help build biographical profiles, the more intrusive personal information diplomats are now being asked to gather could be used by the National Security Agency for data mining and surveillance operations. A frequent-flier number, for example, could be used to track the travel plans of foreign officials.

Several of the cables also asked diplomats for details about the telecommunications networks supporting foreign militaries and intelligence agencies.

The United States regularly puts undercover intelligence officers in countries posing as diplomats, but a vast majority of diplomats are not spies. Several retired ambassadors, told about the information-gathering assignments disclosed in the cables, expressed concern that State Department employees abroad could routinely come under suspicion of spying and find it difficult to do their work or even risk expulsion.

Ronald E. Neumann, a former American ambassador to Afghanistan, Algeria and Bahrain, said that Washington was constantly sending requests for voluminous information about foreign countries. But he said he was puzzled about why Foreign Service officers — who are not trained in clandestine collection methods — would be asked to gather information like credit card numbers.

“My concerns would be, first of all, whether the person could do this responsibly without getting us into trouble,” he said. “And, secondly, how much effort a person put into this at the expense of his or her regular duties.”

The requests have come at a time when the nation’s spy agencies are struggling to meet the demands of two wars and a global hunt for militants. The Pentagon has also sharply expanded its intelligence work outside of war zones, sending Special Operations troops to embassies to gather information about militant networks.

Unlike the thousands of cables, originally obtained by WikiLeaks, that were sent from embassies to the State Department, the roughly half-dozen cables from 2008 and 2009 detailing the more aggressive intelligence collection were sent from Washington and signed by Secretaries of State Condoleezza Rice and Hillary Rodham Clinton.

One of the cables, signed by Mrs. Clinton, lists information-gathering priorities to the American staff at the United Nations in New York, including “biographic and biometric information on ranking North Korean diplomats.”

While several treaties prohibit spying at the United Nations, it is an open secret that countries try nevertheless. In one 2004 episode, a British official revealed that the United States and Britain eavesdropped on Secretary General Kofi Annan in the weeks before the invasion of Iraq in 2003.

The requests for more personal data about foreign officials were included in several cables requesting all manner of information from posts overseas, information that would seem to be the typical business of diplomats.

State Department officials in Asunción, Paraguay, were asked in March 2008 about the presence of Al Qaeda, Hezbollah and Hamas in the lawless “Tri-Border” area of Paraguay, Brazil and Argentina. Diplomats in Rwanda and the Democratic Republic of Congo were asked in April 2009 about crop yields, H.I.V. rates and China’s quest for copper, cobalt and oil in Africa.

In a cable sent to the American Embassy in Bulgaria in June 2009, the State Department requested information about Bulgaria’s efforts to crack down on money laundering and drug trafficking and for “details about personal relations between Bulgarian leaders and Russian officials or businessmen.”

And a cable sent on Oct. 31, 2008, to the embassies in Israel, Jordan, Egypt and elsewhere asked for information on “Palestinian issues,” including “Palestinian plans, intentions and efforts to influence US positions on the Palestinian-Israeli negotiations.” To get both sides, officials also sought information on “Israeli leadership intentions and strategy toward managing the US relationship.”

Andrew W. Lehren contributed reporting from New York.

http://www.nytimes.com/2010/11/29/world/29spy.html?ref=world

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« Reply #2020 on: Nov 29th, 2010, 08:17am »

New York Times

November 28, 2010
Iran Fortifies Its Arsenal With the Aid of North Korea
By WILLIAM J. BROAD, JAMES GLANZ and DAVID E. SANGER


Secret American intelligence assessments have concluded that Iran has obtained a cache of advanced missiles, based on a Russian design, that are much more powerful than anything Washington has publicly conceded that Tehran has in its arsenal, diplomatic cables show.

Iran obtained 19 of the missiles from North Korea, according to a cable dated Feb. 24 of this year. The cable is a detailed, highly classified account of a meeting between top Russian officials and an American delegation led by Vann H. Van Diepen, an official with the State Department’s nonproliferation division who, as a national intelligence officer several years ago, played a crucial role in the 2007 assessment of Iran’s nuclear capacity.

The missiles could for the first time give Iran the capacity to strike at capitals in Western Europe or easily reach Moscow, and American officials warned that their advanced propulsion could speed Iran’s development of intercontinental ballistic missiles.

There has been scattered but persistent speculation on the topic since 2006, when fragmentary reports surfaced that North Korea might have sold Iran missiles based on a Russian design called the R-27, once used aboard Soviet submarines to carry nuclear warheads. In the unclassified world, many arms control experts concluded that isolated components made their way to Iran, but there has been little support for the idea that complete missiles, with their huge thrusters, had been secretly shipped.

The Feb. 24 cable, which is among those obtained by WikiLeaks and made available to a number of news organizations, makes it clear that American intelligence agencies believe that the complete shipment indeed took place, and that Iran is taking pains to master the technology in an attempt to build a new generation of missiles. The missile intelligence also suggests far deeper military — and perhaps nuclear — cooperation between North Korea and Iran than was previously known. At the request of the Obama administration, The New York Times has agreed not to publish the text of the cable.

The North Korean version of the advanced missile, known as the BM-25, could carry a nuclear warhead. Many experts say that Iran remains some distance from obtaining a nuclear warhead, especially one small enough to fit atop a missile, though they believe that it has worked hard to do so.

Still, the BM-25 would be a significant step up for Iran.

Today, the maximum range of Iran’s known ballistic missiles is roughly 1,200 miles, according to experts. That means they could reach targets throughout the Middle East, including Israel, as well as all of Turkey and parts of Eastern Europe.

The range of the Russian R-27, launched from a submarine, was said to be up to 1,500 miles.

Rocket scientists say the BM-25 is longer and heavier, and carries more fuel, giving it a range of up to 2,000 miles. If fired from Iran, that range, in theory, would let its warheads reach targets as far away as Western Europe, including Berlin. If fired northwestward, the warheads could easily reach Moscow.

A range of 2,000 miles is considered medium or intermediate. Traditionally, the United States has defined long-range or intercontinental ballistic missiles as having ranges greater than 3,400 miles.

The fuel for the advanced engines goes by the tongue-twisting name of unsymmetrical dimethylhydrazine, according to the secret cables. It is a highly toxic, volatile clear liquid with a sharp, fishy smell.

International concern about advances in Iran’s missile program increased last year, after Tehran sent its first satellite into space. Experts said it was clear that the second stage of the rocket, known as the Safir, had employed a new, more powerful class of engines that took advantage of some elements of the Russian technology. American government experts say the engines of the Russian R-27 represent an improvement of roughly 40 percent in lifting force over the kerosene-fired engines that power most Iranian missiles.

“Without this higher-energy output, the Safir would have failed in its mission to orbit a small satellite,” said a report issued in May by the International Institute for Strategic Studies, an arms analysis group in London.

The London group’s report, though, gives no indication of access to the American intelligence assessment. Indeed, the report argued that while Iran had some elements of the R-27 technology, the available public evidence suggested that it had made no purchase of either the complete North Korean missile or its Russian parent.

The cables say that Iran not only obtained the BM-25, but also saw the advanced technology as a way to learn how to design and build a new class of more powerful engines.

“Iran wanted engines capable of using more-energetic fuels,” the Feb. 24 cable said, “and buying a batch of BM-25 missiles gives Iran a set it can work on for reverse engineering.”

The cable added that Tehran could use the BM-25 technologies as “building blocks” for the production of long-range missiles. But it offered no information to back up that assessment.

Andrew W. Lehren contributed reporting.

http://www.nytimes.com/2010/11/29/world/middleeast/29missiles.html?ref=world

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« Reply #2021 on: Nov 29th, 2010, 08:24am »

Telegraph

Snow closes roads and schools from Cornwall to Scotland
Britain's worst November snowfall for decades shut schools and roads from Cornwall to Scotland as forecasters warned that Siberian winds could bring temperatures as low as minus 20C in the coming days.
2:49AM GMT 29 Nov 2010


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There is no sign of a let-up in the wintry weather, with bitter winds increasing and more parts of the UK including London facing snow in the coming days
Photo: REUTERS



Deep snow and freezing conditions in the North East and Scotland were causing widespread travel disruption today, with icy temperatures everywhere else creating similar problems for commuters.

There is no sign of a let-up in the wintry weather, with bitter winds increasing and more parts of the UK including London facing snow in the coming days.

So far Scotland and the North East have been worst hit by snow, with more than 40cm in parts, and police have advised people to stay indoors for all but essential travel.

Forecasters warned the rest of the country is likely to be blanketed this week as the weather front moves west.

The severe conditions could also last well into next week, with rain, sleet and snow.

Aisling Creevey, of MeteoGroup, the weather division of the Press Association, said Londoners should prepare for the possibility of snow tonight.

She said: ''The snow will become more widespread from (this) evening and most places will get a dusting.

''There will be an increasingly high wind chill during the week and it will feel really raw.''

Many areas will see temperatures remain below zero today, with the warmest place the South East, at a balmy 2C.

Met Office severe weather warnings were in place along the east coast today with heavy snow from Scotland, down through the North East, Yorkshire and Humber, East Midlands and the East of England.

Blizzard conditions and jackknifed lorries forced authorities to shut the A9 between Dunblane and Perth, one of the busiest roads in Scotland, last night.

The move led some motorists to abandon their cars and look for accommodation.

Central Scotland Police said the road remained closed this morning and urged drivers to avoid the roads throughout the rest of the force area unless absolutely necessary.

A spokesman said: "Conditions are horrendous and we would urge caution."

All schools in Dundee, West Lothian and Shetland were closed this morning.

Across York and North Yorkshire, around 50 schools were forced to close this morning.

Several schools in East Yorkshire also closed for the day.

Driving was described as hazardous across many parts of Yorkshire as more snow began to fall.

The M62 between junction 34 (Selby) and junction 38 (North Cave) was described as hazardous.

The Sheffield Parkway – the main commuter route into the city – was becoming particularly treacherous as heavy snow began falling at 7.30am.

In East Yorkshire, police urged motorists to take extra care and drive according to the weather conditions following another night of snow leaving a number of roads across the region difficult to drive on.

A Humberside Police spokesman said: "So far we have not experienced a high volume of incidents on our roads this morning.

"However, we are urging anyone travelling around the region to be cautious, allowing extra time for their journey, extra space to slow your vehicle down at junctions and leave a greater distance between yourself and the vehicle you are following in order to ensure you are not caught out by the icy conditions."

Police said the B1248 at Lund was closed following a single-vehicle collision in the early hours of this morning.

A car hit a telegraph pole but the driver was not injured, Humberside Police said.

The road was likely to remain closed until around lunchtime.

Motorists were advised to avoid the area if possible until further notice.

A Highways Agency spokesman, responsible for motorways and major A roads in England, said there was a temporary closure of a section of the A66 near Bowes last night while snowploughs cleared the road.

One lane was closed eastbound on the M4 Severn Crossing, he said, for around an hour this morning as a precaution after ice started to form on the bridge supports.

"That has now been cleared, they have been out and checked and it is OK," he said.

He said severe weather meant delays in clearing a section of the A1 near Berwick last night after a lorry overturned.

"At the moment, the network is all flowing nicely, but obviously we are keeping a very close eye on it," he said.

"It is Monday morning and the advice that we issued last week still stands – be aware and be sensible. If the weather is bad, make sure you have got an emergency kit in the car and think about whether the journey is absolutely necessary.

In Cornwall, 44 schools were closed because of the weather, with another 12 opening later in the morning, Cornwall Council said.

The AA said it dealt with double the normal number of breakdowns yesterday, while the R AC said calls were up a third.

Alan Wilcock, RAC patrol ambassador of the year, said: ''This weekend has been extraordinarily difficult for many motorists as the cold and ice have made driving difficult and dangerous.

''With more bad weather forecast, the Monday morning commute is already looking very, very busy.

''Workers who travel by car may want to consider other options, such as working from home or another form of transport.''

Coldest overnight in the UK was Altnaharra in northern Scotland, which recorded a low of minus 16.1C (3F).

Llysdinam, which saw Wales's chilliest ever November reading on Sunday at minus 18C (minus 0.4F), was a bit warmer today at minus 12.9C (8.8F).

The temperature in Northolt, west London, bottomed out at minus 2.2C (28F), but it was colder in the South West, with North Dartmoor recording minus 7.9C (17.8F).

http://www.telegraph.co.uk/topics/weather/8167392/Snow-closes-roads-and-schools-from-Cornwall-to-Scotland.html

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« Reply #2022 on: Nov 29th, 2010, 08:26am »

Wired Danger Room

‘Chipped’ Detainees, Iran Mega-Missiles And More in Latest WikiLeaks

By Spencer Ackerman November 28, 2010 | 3:49 pm Categories: Info War

King Abdullah of Saudi Arabia told a senior White House official to consider surgically implanting homing devices under Guantanamo Bay detainees’ skin. That’s one of the many potentially embarrassing comments from diplomatic back rooms now being made public by WikiLeaks.

During a March 2009 meeting with John Brennan, President Obama’s closest counterterrorism adviser, Abdullah proposed shooting electronic chips into the residual Guantanamo population, “allowing their movements to be tracked with Bluetooth.” Abdullah appears to have come up with the idea on the fly during their meeting — “I’ve just thought of something,” the cable quotes him saying — and considered forced subcutaneous chip implantation uncontroversial, since it’s already “done with horses and falcons.”

Brennan appears to have gingerly waved him off: “[H]orses don’t have good lawyers,” he replied, “but agreed that keeping track of detainees was an extremely important issue that he would review with appropriate officials when he returned to the United States.”

That’s a particularly bizarre proposal revealed inside the third large trove of U.S. secrets the radical anti-secrecy organization WikiLeaks has published in the last six months. This current one — reported on Sunday by the New York Times, Der Spiegel, and the Guardian — centers around more than 250,000 U.S. diplomatic communications, earning the dump a furious condemnation from the State Department and the White House. Our sister blog Threat Level first reported in June that WikiLeaks got ahold of the cables, and reports today on the U.S. information-sharing initiative that made the leak possible.

Perhaps the most worrisome news to come out the diplo doc dump is that North Korea secretly gave Iran 19 powerful missiles with a range of 2,000 miles. The missiles, known as the BM-25, are modified from Russian R-27s, which were submarine-based missiles carrying nuclear weapons. “If fired from Iran,” the New York Times notes, a missile with that range could “let its warheads reach targets as far away as Western Europe, including Berlin.” The BM-25, unveiled in a North Korean military parade last month, may be North Korea’s longest-range missile yet. Ares’ David A. Fulgham observed that its design “is showing second-stage and nose-cone design characteristics associated with Iran’s Shahab 3 missile,” indicating growing missile ties between the two rogue states.

No wonder why European leaders are suddenly so keen on missile defense. And no wonder why so many of the leaders of the Arab Middle East are increasingly freaked out by Iran’s growing conventional arsenal — and nuclear program.

Bahrain’s King Hamad argued last November “for taking action to terminate [Iran's] nuclear program, by whatever means necessary,” one cable reads. Sounding like George W. Bush, Hamad told General David Petraeus, “The danger of letting it go on is greater than the danger of stopping it.” In the same meeting with Brennan, Abdullah said he declined an invitation to visit Iran from its foreign minister, saying instead, “All I want is for you to spare us your evil.”

A crown prince of the United Arab Emirates is said to be “somewhat incredulous” of U.S. claims that Iran may not be aiding Yemeni rebels, and laments that “our focus on Al Qaeda has caused us to lose sight of the bigger picture of Iranian adventurism.” Pakistani journalist Mosharraf Zaidi tweets, “Arab leaders are like high school bitches.”

Ronald Neumann, who served as U.S. ambassador to Afghanistan from 2005 to 2007, tells Danger Room he fears the impact of forced candor on U.S. foreign relations. “A man might say things to his wife about his mother-in-law that he would be horrified to hear her repeat to her mother and the doing of which might even put great strain on his marriage,” Neumann says. “That is what a lot of classification is about. I believe it serves the public. There is always an argument for publicizing malfeasance. I do not believe there is one for making more difficult just getting on with the nation’s diplomatic business.”

The White House responded to the latest WikiLeaks trove with furious denouncement. “[S]uch disclosures put at risk our diplomats, intelligence professionals, and people around the world who come to the United States for assistance in promoting democracy and open government,” White House press secretary Robert Gibbs emailed reporters on Sunday. “These documents also may include named individuals who in many cases live and work under oppressive regimes and who are trying to create more open and free societies.” Interestingly, WikiLeaks tweeted Sunday that it’s under a “mass distributed denial of service attack.”

We’re still poring through the revelations from the WikiLeaks trove. If you see something you think is significant, point us to it in comments, e-mail us, or tweet @DangerRoom.

http://www.wired.com/dangerroom/2010/11/chipped-detainees-iran-mega-missiles-and-more-in-latest-wikileaks/

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« Reply #2023 on: Nov 29th, 2010, 08:31am »

Wired

Nov. 29, 1972: Pong, a Game Any Drunk Can Play
By Tony Long
November 29, 2010 | 7:00 am
Categories: 20th century, Business and Industry, Games


1972: Pong, the first popular videogame, is released in its original arcade-game form.

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Photo: Atari founder Nolan Bushnell


1972: Pong, the first popular videogame, is released in its original arcade-game form.

If it seems crude by today’s standards, well, it was crude then, too. And it was meant to be. Pong was the brainchild of Nolan Bushnell, a founder of Atari, who was inspired to develop it after playing an electronic table-tennis game at a trade show. But, having recently designed an arcade game he deemed too complicated because you had to read the instructions before you could play, Bushnell strove for utter simplicity.

“I had to come up with a game people already knew how to play, something so simple that any drunk in any bar could play,” Bushnell said later. The game, actually designed by Atari engineer Allan Alcorn, was Pong. It was indeed a game that drunks could play, and they did.

The first coin-operated Pong arcade game was installed at Andy Capp’s, a tavern in Sunnyvale, California, where Atari was located. It was an instantaneous hit, confirming Bushnell’s suspicions and vindicating, yet again, H.L. Mencken’s famous dictum.

Four months after its appearance at Andy Capp’s, there were upwards of 10,000 Pong arcade games scattered across the land. This caught the eye of Magnavox Odyssey, developer of the game that had inspired Bushnell to dream up Pong. A lawsuit followed, resulting in an out-of-court settlement in Magnavox’s favor. By then, however, Pong had moved to a home-console model, which was very different from the original.

Bushnell cut a deal with Sears to act as Pong’s exclusive retailer, and the 1975 Christmas shopping season was a lucrative one. This can fairly be said to have ushered in the era of home videogaming.

http://www.wired.com/thisdayintech/2010/11/1129pong

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« Reply #2024 on: Nov 29th, 2010, 12:40pm »

Oh happy day!!!!!

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It's official!!!!!

Type of Work: Text
Registration Number / Date: TXu001690005 / 2009-04-24
Application Title: God’s Tree House.
Title: God’s Tree House.
Description: Print Material.
Copyright Claimant: Crystal L. Berger, 1954-
Date of Creation: 2009
Authorship on Application: Crystal L. Berger, 1954- ; Citizenship: United States. Authorship: Entire text.

Names: Berger, Crystal L., 1954-

grin It will never get published but at least I'm in there!

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