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 veryhotthread  Author  Topic: Stuff & Nonsense  (Read 10736 times)
WingsofCrystal
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xx Re: Stuff & Nonsense
« Reply #2175 on: Dec 11th, 2010, 08:40am »

Science Daily

Neutron Stars and String Theory in a Lab: Chilled Atoms Give Clues to Deep Space and Particle Physics
ScienceDaily (Dec. 11, 2010) —

Using lasers to contain some ultra-chilled atoms, a team of scientists has measured the viscosity or stickiness of a gas often considered to be the sixth state of matter. The measurements verify that this gas can be used as a "scale model" of exotic matter, such as super-high temperature superconductors, the nuclear matter of neutron stars, and even the state of matter created microseconds after the Big Bang.

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Artist's rendering of a neutron star.
(Credit: NASA/Dana Berry)



The results may also allow experimental tests of string theory in the future.

Duke physicist John Thomas made the viscosity measurements using an ultra-cold Fermi gas of lithium-6 atoms trapped in a millimeter-sized bowl made of laser light. When cooled and placed inside a magnetic field of the correct size, the atoms interact as strongly as the laws of quantum mechanics allow. This strongly interacting gas exhibits "remarkable properties," such as nearly frictionless fluid flow, Thomas said.

The team's report appears in the Dec. 10 issue of Science.

Under the ultra-cold conditions, the properties of the gas are determined by a universal ruler, or natural length scale, much like the scale on an architect's drawing. The ruler for the atomic gas is the average spacing between the atoms. According to quantum physics, this spacing determines all other natural scales, such as the scale for energy, temperature and viscosity, making the ultra-cold gas a scale model for other exotic matter. Thomas said that he and others have verified the gas as a universal scale model for properties such as temperature, but this is the first time they've tested the scaling of viscosity, which happens to be of particular interest to scientists right now.

Thomas first measured the viscosity of the gas at a few billionths of a degree Kelvin, or -459 degrees Fahrenheit. Turning off the trap that confines the gas, and then recapturing it caused the radius of the Fermi gas to vibrate. The oscillation, called a breathing mode, resembles the jiggling of a piece of jelly. The longer the vibrations lasted, the lower the viscosity. At slightly higher temperatures, millionths of a degree Kelvin, the researchers instead observed how fast the gas changed from a cigar shape to a pancake after being released from the trap. A slower change in shape had a higher viscosity.

These results are "extremely important to the field of condensed matter physics and to high temperature superconductivity in particular," said Kathy Levin, a theorist at the University of Chicago, who was not involved in the research. She said that the viscosity of the Fermi gas is similar to the conductivity of a superfluid, which flows with no resistance. This "perfect fluidity" is also observed in the condensed matter world, especially in materials used to make high temperature superconductors. The new data, especially at lower temperatures, "seem quite consistent" with predictions of how superconductors should flow, Levin said.

The Fermi gas as a scale model is also important for studying elements of the cosmos that scientists can't probe in a lab, said Duke physicist Berndt Mueller. Even a very small chunk of a neutron star, a dead star that hasn't become a black hole, would weigh billions of tons on Earth and be much too dense to study. The data showing the universal properties of the Fermi gas, however, let physicists calculate the scale from lithium-6 atomic spacing to the spacing between neutrons in these stars. The measurements made on the Fermi gas can then be used to determine the natural energy and other properties for these stars, which can be compared to theorists' predictions. Similar calculations can be made for the quark-gluon plasma, the state of matter created just microseconds after the Big Bang and being studied in particle accelerators such as the Large Hadron Collider in Geneva.

Thomas said the new results also give experimental insight into predictions made using string theory, the mathematical construct uniting the classical world of gravity with quantum physics. String theorists have provided a lower bound for the ratio of the viscosity or fluid flow to the entropy, or disorder, in a strongly-interacting system. The new experiments measured both properties in the Fermi gas and showed that the gas minimum is between four and five times the string theorists' lower bound.

"The measurements do not test string theory directly," Thomas said, noting a few caveats-- the lower bound is derived for high-energy systems, where Einstein's theory of relativity is essential, while the Fermi gas experiments study low-energy gases. If string theorists create new calculations specifically for a Fermi gas, scientists would be able to make precise experimental tests of the theory with equipment no larger than a desktop.

http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2010/12/101209152755.htm

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xx Re: Stuff & Nonsense
« Reply #2176 on: Dec 11th, 2010, 5:10pm »

Phantoms and Monsters has a great article on Skinwalkers.


The Skinwalker Chronicles
by Lon
11 December 2010

In the American Southwest, the Navajo, Hopi, Utes, and other tribes each have their own version of the Skinwalker story, but basically they boil down to the same thing - a malevolent witch capable of transforming itself into a wolf, coyote, bear, bird, or any other animal. To the Navajo, yee naaldlooshii is "with it, he goes on all fours", a practitioner of Frenzy Way. The witch might wear the hide or skin of the animal identity it wants to assume, and when the transformation is complete, the human witch inherits the speed, strength, or cunning of the animal whose shape it has taken....


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According to University of Nevada-Las Vegas anthropologist Dan Benyshek, who specializes in the study of Native Americans of the Southwest, "Skinwalkers are purely evil in intent. I'm no expert on it, but the general view is that Skinwalkers do all sorts of terrible things - they make people sick, they commit murders. They are graverobbers and necrophiliacs. They are greedy and evil people who must kill a sibling or other relative to be initiated as a Skinwalker. They supposedly can turn into were-animals and can travel in supernatural ways."

Anthropologist David Zimmerman of the Navajo Nation Historic Preservation Department explains: "Skinwalkers are folks that possess knowledge of medicine, medicine both practical (heal the sick) and spiritual (maintain harmony), and they are both wrapped together in ways that are nearly impossible to untangle."

Among the Navajo, for instance, medicine men train over a period of many years to become full-fledged practitioners in the mystical rituals of the Dine' (Navajo) people. The medicine men have shown themselves to be effective in treating a range of ailments according to the U.S. Public Health Service. But, there is also a dark side. Witches follow some of the same training and obtain similar knowledge as their more benevolent colleagues, but they supplement both with their pursuit of the dark arts, or black magic. By Navajo law, a known witch has forfeited its status as a human and can be killed at will. The assumption is that a witch, by definition, is evil.

The cautious Navajo will not speak openly about Skinwalkers, especially with strangers, because to do so might invite the attention of an evil witch. After all, a stranger who asks questions about Skinwalkers just might be one himself, looking for his next victim.


Videos and much more after the jump
http://naturalplane.blogspot.com/2010/12/skinwalker-chronicles.html

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xx Re: Stuff & Nonsense
« Reply #2177 on: Dec 11th, 2010, 6:48pm »

Mysterious Geminid Meteor Shower -- Best Sky Show of the Year

Published December 11, 2010

Space.com

The upcoming Geminid meteor shower next week may promise to be the best sky show of the year, but for many scientists it's a space light show shrouded in mystery.
Skywatchers should catch a nice view of the beguiling phenomenon between local midnight and sunrise on Tuesday, Dec. 14.

Most meteor showers come from comets, which spew ample meteoroids for a night of shooting stars. The Geminids are different. Their source is not a comet but a strange rocky object named 3200 Phaethon that sheds very little dusty debris — not nearly enough to explain the Geminids.

"The Geminids are my favorite, because they defy explanation," said NASA astronomer Bill Cooke, a meteor expert at the agency's Marshall Space Flight Center in Huntsville, Ala.

This sky map shows where to look to see the Geminid meteor shower when the peak on Dec. 13 and Dec. 14.

Geminids meteor mystery

Meteor showers are created when the Earth passes through a stream of small space rocks, which then burn up as they pass through the atmosphere, creating so-called "shooting stars." But astronomers still don't know where all the rocky material for the Geminid shower comes from.

"Of all the debris streams Earth passes through every year, the Geminids' is by far the most massive," Cooke said in a statement. "When we add up the amount of dust in the Geminid stream, it outweighs other streams by factors of 5 to 500."

This makes the Geminids the gorilla of meteor showers. Yet 3200 Phaethon is more of a weakling.

3200 Phaethon was discovered in 1983 by NASA's IRAS satellite and promptly classified as an asteroid.

After all, scientists thought, what else could the space object be? It did not have a tail, its orbit intersected the main asteroid belt and its colors strongly resembled that of other asteroids. In fact, 3200 Phaethon resembles main belt asteroid Pallas so much, it might be a small chip off that massive block, NASA officials said.

"If 3200 Phaethon broke apart from asteroid Pallas, as some researchers believe, then Geminid meteoroids might be debris from the breakup," Cooke said. "But that doesn't agree with other things we know."

Origins of the Geminid meteor shower?

Those "other things" includes the orbits of the Geminid meteoroids, which suggest they were ejected from 3200 Phaethon when the object was close to the sun—not when it was out in the asteroid belt in a cosmic break-up with Pallas.
The term meteoroid refers to space rocks that have not yet entered Earth's atmosphere to become a blazing fireball, or meteor. If any of these objects reach the ground, they are called meteorites.

Some scientists, on the other hand, think that the debris feeding the Geminids is created when 3200 Phaethon swings in near the sun and receives a blast of solar heating that might boil jets of dust into the Geminid stream.

To test the hypothesis, researchers turned to NASA's twin STEREO spacecraft, which are designed to study solar activity. Coronagraphs onboard STEREO can detect sungrazing asteroids and comets, and in June 2009 they detected 3200 Phaethon only 15 solar diameters from the sun's surface.

The answer may surprise you

What happened next surprised University of California-Los Angeles planetary scientists David Jewitt and Jing Li, who analyzed the data.

"3200 Phaethon unexpectedly brightened by a factor of two," they wrote. "The most likely explanation is that Phaethon ejected dust, perhaps in response to a break-down of surface rocks (through thermal fracture and decomposition cracking of hydrated minerals) in the intense heat of the sun."

Jewett and Li's hypothesis is compelling, but they point out a problem: The amount of dust 3200 Phaethon ejected during its 2009 sun encounter added a mere 0.01 percent to the mass of the Geminid debris stream — not nearly enough to keep the stream replenished over time. Perhaps the rock comet was more active in the past?

"We just don't know," Cooke said. "Every new thing we learn about the Geminids seems to deepen the mystery."

This month when Earth passes through the Geminid debris stream it will produce as many as 120 meteors per hour over dark-sky sites.

Bundle up, go outside and savor the mystery.


Read more: http://www.foxnews.com/scitech/2010/12/11/mysterious-geminid-meteor-shower-best-sky-year/#ixzz17pQm6hv2

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« Reply #2178 on: Dec 11th, 2010, 7:45pm »

Thanks Swampy. I can get up early enough to watch that meteor shower. Let's hope it isn't cloudy. Good article, thank you.
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« Reply #2179 on: Dec 11th, 2010, 8:46pm »



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source: Pixdaus



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xx Re: Stuff & Nonsense
« Reply #2180 on: Dec 12th, 2010, 04:59am »

on Dec 10th, 2010, 07:06am, WingsofCrystal wrote:
Pigswillfly!!! cheesy
Hello! The anti-Christ express. Ugh! No thanks.
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Howdy Crystal. smiley
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« Reply #2181 on: Dec 12th, 2010, 07:40am »

on Dec 12th, 2010, 04:59am, pigswillfly wrote:
Howdy Crystal. smiley


It's sure good to see you!!!
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« Reply #2182 on: Dec 12th, 2010, 07:43am »

New York Times

December 11, 2010
Stockholm Hit by Blasts After E-Mail Warning
By CHRISTINA ANDERSON and JOHN F. BURNS

STOCKHOLM — One man was killed and two other people were injured when two explosions hit the heart of Stockholm’s city-center shopping district on Saturday evening, the police in the Swedish capital said. The country’s foreign minister called the blasts a terrorist attack, and an e-mail to news organizations minutes before the blasts seemed to link them to anger over anti-Islamic cartoons and the war in Afghanistan.

The police said that a car parked near the busy shopping street of Drottninggatan exploded first, shortly before 5 p.m. Stockholm time, and that the wreckage of the vehicle included gas canisters. A second blast followed minutes later, and about 200 yards from the first. A man’s body, with blast injuries to his abdomen, was discovered after the second explosion.

Swedish newspapers portrayed the dead man as a suicide bomber, and the newspaper Aftonbladet said on its Web site that he had been carrying pipe bombs and a backpack full of nails. But the police declined to confirm this. “We are in the middle of a technical investigation, and we are working methodically to find out what happened,” said a police spokeswoman, Petra Sjolander, who refused to speculate about whether the blasts were a terrorist attack.

Still, comments from Foreign Minister Carl Bildt on his Twitter account did not attempt to hedge the issue. His post read: “Most worrying attempt at terrorist attack in crowded part of central Stockholm. Failed — but could have been truly catastrophic...”

An editor at the Swedish news agency Tidningarnas Telegrambyra, Dan Skeppe, said the agency had received an e-mail minutes before the blasts; it was also addressed to Sweden’s security police, and included a sound recording addressed to “Sweden and the Swedish people.” Mr. Skeppe said the recording cited Swedish “silence” over cartoons of the Prophet Muhammad drawn by the artist Lars Vilks, criticized Sweden’s 500-soldier military contingent in northern Afghanistan and threatened attacks on Swedes.

“Now, your children — daughters and sisters — will die like our brothers and sisters and children die,” it continued. “Our actions will speak for themselves. As long as you do not end your war against Islam and the insult against the prophet and your stupid support for that pig Vilks.”

The Stockholm blasts seemed certain to cause widespread shock in Sweden. The country has long prided itself on having created a stable and peaceful society at home, and on having avoided involvement in the upheavals that have ravaged much of the rest of Europe in modern times, including World War II.

It has previously escaped the types of bombings mounted elsewhere in Europe since the 9/11 attacks in the United States. The Swedish military’s current deployment in Afghanistan, adding signals intelligence specialists to a NATO-led combat mission under American command, is a rare departure from the country’s usual pattern of avoiding involvement in military alliances.

Another major change has been the impact of heavy immigration, especially Muslims. Their growing numbers, and the furor surrounding Mr. Vilks, have contributed to a rise in tensions that have led to increased support for a right-wing anti-immigration party, the Sweden Democrats, which won 20 seats this summer in a general election. The party, blaming immigration for increased crime rates, has focused its ire on the Muslim population, which accounts for about 5 percent of Sweden’s 9.3 million people.

The recorded message sent to Swedish news organizations demanded that Muslims in Sweden “stop sucking up and degrading yourselves,” and broadened the appeal to “all mujahedeen,” or holy warriors, in Europe. “Now it’s time to attack,” it said. “Do not wait any longer. Come forth with whatever you have, even if it is a knife, and I know that you can bring more than knives. Fear no one. Do not be afraid of jail. Do not fear death.”

Mr. Skeppe said the address in the e-mail indicated it had also been sent to Sweden’s security police, but there was no indication what sort of an attack was planned, or when. “They didn’t mention that anything specific would happen at all,” he said.

Several Swedish news organizations described the e-mail as having been sent anonymously, but Mr. Skeppe declined to confirm that, or to say whether the e-mail named the individual or organization who sent it. The e-mail’s reference to Mr. Vilks, a 64-year-old artist and free-speech activist, pointed to the deep anger in the Muslim world over Mr. Vilks’ drawings of the Prophet Muhammad in 2007.

Publication of the drawings in Swedish newspapers drew widespread condemnation in the Muslim world and death threats against Mr. Vilks, who has since lived under police protection. In March this year, Colleen R. LaRose, an American who has converted to Islam and used the pseudonym JihadJane, was charged with trying to recruit Islamic terrorists to kill Mr. Vilks.

Christina Anderson reported from Stockholm, and John F. Burns from Cambridge, England.

http://www.nytimes.com/2010/12/12/world/europe/12sweden.html?_r=1&hp

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« Reply #2183 on: Dec 12th, 2010, 07:47am »

New York Times

December 11, 2010
Jailed Afghan Drug Lord Was Informer on U.S. Payroll
By JAMES RISEN

WASHINGTON — When Hajji Juma Khan was arrested and transported to New York to face charges under a new American narco-terrorism law in 2008, federal prosecutors described him as perhaps the biggest and most dangerous drug lord in Afghanistan, a shadowy figure who had helped keep the Taliban in business with a steady stream of money and weapons.

But what the government did not say was that Mr. Juma Khan was also a longtime American informer, who provided information about the Taliban, Afghan corruption and other drug traffickers. Central Intelligence Agency officers and Drug Enforcement Administration agents relied on him as a valued source for years, even as he was building one of Afghanistan’s biggest drug operations after the United States-led invasion of the country, according to current and former American officials. Along the way, he was also paid a large amount of cash by the United States.

At the height of his power, Mr. Juma Khan was secretly flown to Washington for a series of clandestine meetings with C.I.A. and D.E.A. officials in 2006. Even then, the United States was receiving reports that he was on his way to becoming Afghanistan’s most important narcotics trafficker by taking over the drug operations of his rivals and paying off Taliban leaders and corrupt politicians in President Hamid Karzai’s government.

In a series of videotaped meetings in Washington hotels, Mr. Juma Khan offered tantalizing leads to the C.I.A. and D.E.A., in return for what he hoped would be protected status as an American asset, according to American officials. And then, before he left the United States, he took a side trip to New York to see the sights and do some shopping, according to two people briefed on the case.

The relationship between the United States government and Mr. Juma Khan is another illustration of how the war on drugs and the war on terrorism have sometimes collided, particularly in Afghanistan, where drug dealing, the insurgency and the government often overlap.

To be sure, American intelligence has worked closely with figures other than Mr. Juma Khan suspected of drug trade ties, including Ahmed Wali Karzai, the president’s half brother, and Hajji Bashir Noorzai, who was arrested in 2005. Mr. Karzai has denied being involved in the drug trade.

A Shifting Policy

Afghan drug lords have often been useful sources of information about the Taliban. But relying on them has also put the United States in the position of looking the other way as these informers ply their trade in a country that by many accounts has become a narco-state.

The case of Mr. Juma Khan also shows how counternarcotics policy has repeatedly shifted during the nine-year American occupation of Afghanistan, getting caught between the conflicting priorities of counterterrorism and nation building, so much so that Mr. Juma Khan was never sure which way to jump, according to officials who spoke on the condition that they not be identified.

When asked about Mr. Juma Khan’s relationship with the C.I.A., a spokesman for the spy agency said that the “C.I.A. does not, as a rule, comment on matters pending before U.S. courts.” A D.E.A. spokesman also declined to comment on his agency’s relationship with Mr. Juma Khan.

His New York lawyer, Steven Zissou, denied that Mr. Juma Khan had ever supported the Taliban or worked for the C.I.A.

“There have been many things said about Hajji Juma Khan,” Mr. Zissou said, “and most of what has been said, including that he worked for the C.I.A., is false. What is true is that H. J. K. has never been an enemy of the United States and has never supported the Taliban or any other group that threatens Americans.”

A spokeswoman for the United States Attorney’s Office for the Southern District of New York, which is handling Mr. Juma Khan’s prosecution, declined to comment.

However, defending the relationship, one American official said, “You’re not going to get intelligence in a war zone from Ward Cleaver or Florence Nightingale.”

At first, Mr. Juma Khan, an illiterate trafficker in his mid-50s from Afghanistan’s remote Nimroz Province, in the border region where southwestern Afghanistan meets both Iran and Pakistan, was a big winner from the American-led invasion. He had been a provincial drug smuggler in southwestern Afghanistan in the 1990s, when the Taliban governed the country. But it was not until after the Taliban’s ouster that he rose to national prominence, taking advantage of a record surge in opium production in Afghanistan after the invasion.

Briefly detained by American forces after the 2001 fall of the Taliban, he was quickly released, even though American officials knew at the time that he was involved in narcotics trafficking, according to several current and former American officials. During the first few years of its occupation of Afghanistan, the United States was focused entirely on capturing or killing leaders of Al Qaeda, and it ignored drug trafficking, because American military commanders believed that policing drugs got in the way of their core counterterrorism mission.

Opium and heroin production soared, and the narcotics trade came to account for nearly half of the Afghan economy.

Concerns, but No Action

By 2004, Mr. Juma Khan had gained control over routes from southern Afghanistan to Pakistan’s Makran Coast, where heroin is loaded onto freighters for the trip to the Middle East, as well as overland routes through western Afghanistan to Iran and Turkey. To keep his routes open and the drugs flowing, he lavished bribes on all the warring factions, from the Taliban to the Pakistani intelligence service to the Karzai government, according to current and former American officials.

The scale of his drug organization grew to stunning levels, according to the federal indictment against him. It was in both the wholesale and the retail drug businesses, providing raw materials for other drug organizations while also processing finished drugs on its own.

Bush administration officials first began to talk about him publicly in 2004, when Robert B. Charles, then the assistant secretary of state for international narcotics and law enforcement, told Time magazine that Mr. Juma Khan was a drug lord “obviously very tightly tied to the Taliban.”

Such high-level concern did not lead to any action against Mr. Juma Khan. But Mr. Noorzai, one of his rivals, was lured to New York and arrested in 2005, which allowed Mr. Juma Khan to expand his empire.

In a 2006 confidential report to the drug agency reviewed by The New York Times, an Afghan informer stated that Mr. Juma Khan was working with Ahmed Wali Karzai, the political boss of southern Afghanistan, to take control of the drug trafficking operations left behind by Mr. Noorzai. Some current and former American counternarcotics officials say they believe that Mr. Karzai provided security and protection for Mr. Juma Khan’s operations.

Mr. Karzai denied any involvement with the drug trade and said that he had never met Mr. Juma Khan. “I have never even seen his face,” he said through a spokesman. He denied having any business or security arrangement with him. “Ask them for proof instead of lies,” he added.

Mr. Juma Khan’s reported efforts to take over from Mr. Noorzai came just as he went to Washington to meet with the C.I.A. and the drug agency, former American officials say. By then, Mr. Juma Khan had been working as an informer for both agencies for several years, officials said. He had met repeatedly with C.I.A. officers in Afghanistan beginning in 2001 or 2002, and had also developed a relationship with the drug agency’s country attaché in Kabul, former American officials say.

He had been paid large amounts of cash by the United States, according to people with knowledge of the case. Along with other tribal leaders in his region, he was given a share of as much as $2 million in payments to help oppose the Taliban. The payments are said to have been made by either the C.I.A. or the United States military.

The 2006 Washington meetings were an opportunity for both sides to determine, in face-to-face talks, whether they could take their relationship to a new level of even longer-term cooperation.

“I think this was an opportunity to drill down and see what he would be able to provide,” one former American official said. “I think it was kind of like saying, ‘O.K., what have you got?’ ”

Business, Not Ideology

While the C.I.A. wanted information about the Taliban, the drug agency had its own agenda for the Washington meetings — information about other Afghan traffickers Mr. Juma Khan worked with, as well as contacts on the supply lines through Turkey and Europe.

One reason the Americans could justify bringing Mr. Juma Khan to Washington was that they claimed to have no solid evidence that he was smuggling drugs into the United States, and there were no criminal charges pending against him in this country.

It is not clear how much intelligence Mr. Juma Khan provided on other drug traffickers or on the Taliban leadership. But the relationship between the C.I.A. and the D.E.A. and Mr. Juma Khan continued for some time after the Washington sessions, officials say.

more after the jump
http://www.nytimes.com/2010/12/12/world/asia/12drugs.html?ref=world

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« Reply #2184 on: Dec 12th, 2010, 07:52am »

Telegraph

Music teachers are being told not to touch the fingers of pupils learning to play instruments.

By David Harrison
9:00AM GMT 12 Dec 2010

The Musicians' Union has produced a video telling teachers: "It isn't necessary to touch children in order to demonstrate: there's always a better way."

But the video has provoked a storm of protest from teachers and campaigners who attacked the guidance as "madness" and said the video – which features a man teaching a child the violin – as a "grossly caricatured version of teacher-pupil contact".

The video, called "Inappropriate Demonstration", shows a lesson in which a pupil fails to play the right notes.

The teacher first explains the technique by placing a hand on the pupil's shoulder and holding his fingers in the right position on the violin.

He then explains it a second time by demonstrating on his own violin the correct position. The pupil then immediately plays the correct notes.

A voice-over on the video says: "When you're teaching instruments, there are times when you need to demonstrate particular techniques.

"In the past, this has often been done by touching students, but this can make students feel uncomfortable and leave teachers open to accusations of inappropriate behaviour."

The narrator adds: "You should never need to touch a student for demonstration. Use your creativity to find other equally effective ways to demonstrate."

The union said the video, produced with the NSPCC, MusicLeader (a charity-funded organisation to help music leaders) and the Associated Board of the Royal Schools of Music, was aimed at helping music teachers "gain a better understanding of their child protection responsibilities and avoid situations that could lead to accusations of misconduct".

But teachers criticised the video and the "no-touching" policy.

One music teacher, writing on the Associated Board of the Royal Schools of Music's online forum under the name"Banjogirl", said: "It's all madness. I can't help touching children occasionally.

"It's bringing children up to think that there is something dirty about touch and to be suspicious of other people."

Seer Green, another music teacher, said the union and the NSPCC had "missed the point".

"What is most important in all this is common sense. Building a good working relationship between teacher, pupil and parent is essential.

"A sense of trust needs to be built up and then when any issues around 'touch' arise, they can be handled sensibly and with the minimum of fuss."

Henry Fagg, from The Tutor Pages, an independent educational services company based in North West London, said the video depicted "a grossly caricatured version of teacher-pupil contact.

He said the "no-touching" policy was "hysterical" and interfered with day-to-day music teaching. "It also fails to distinguish between appropriate and inappropriate touch, and hence the real issue of child abuse is completely ignored."

Josie Middleton, of the Manifesto Club which campaigns against excessive regulation, said: "The video is absurd. Teachers need to be able to straighten backs, reposition fingers, or shake out stiff hands.

"The assumption of this video is that all touch is potentially suspicious. This turns normal behaviour into something very seedy, and encourages decent people to be anxious all the time.

"It also blurs the boundary between abusive touch, and caring or instructive touch – and makes it harder to distinguish genuine abuse."

Diane Widdison, spokesman for the union, said: "It's a difficult area but we are here to protect children and to protect our members' careers.

"When allegations are made against music teachers they are suspended immediately while an investigation is carried out and their careers are damaged or ruined even if they are declared innocent."

In one recent case the parents of a child learning the guitar complained that the teacher had touched their child's finger to pluck a guitar string.

"A lot of children don't like to be touched by adults," she added.

"You don't need to touch children to teach them how to play an instrument. We live in a culture where children know their rights and touching can be misinterpreted."

http://www.telegraph.co.uk/education/educationnews/8196276/Dont-touch-pupils-fingers-music-teachers-are-told.html

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« Reply #2185 on: Dec 12th, 2010, 08:00am »

Hollywood Reporter

James Cameron Offers 3D Expertise to India
3:36 AM 12/11/2010
by Nyay Bhushan

NEW DELHI -- James Cameron is ready to open his 3D treasure box, offering the special technology and cameras developed for Avatar to any Indian director interested in making a film, perhaps an Indian epic like the Ramayana or the Mahabharata.

Dressed in a dapper blue suit, the Avatar director was addressing the opening day of the INK (Innovation and Knowledge) Conference Friday being held in Lavasa, a major new township coming up a couple hours drive from Mumbai.

The inaugural INK is organized with the support of the TED (Technology Entertainment Design) India conference that took place last year in Bangalore, which featured a stellar lineup of speakers such as director Shekhar Kapur (Elizabeth) and others from various fields. Billed as an “intellectual Mardi Gras” focusing on the theme “Untold Stories," INK concludes Sunday with the event being streamed live online featuring a major line-up of speakers including The Simpsons creator Matt Groening, new age author Deepak Chopra and Bollywood director Raju Hirani.

When asked if there was anything that would convince the Oscar-winning director to make a film in India, Cameron joked, “Maybe after the third Avatar,” (since he is in the middle of scripting Avatar 2 and 3), adding, “But if there is an Indian director who'd like to make a film - it could be about the Ramayana or the Mahabharata -- we can offer the technology we've already developed, the 3D system and the digital 3D Fusion Camera (which Cameron co-developed).”

Cameron also said he found India “fascinating now that I've been here a couple of times.” Cameron previously visited India in March this year, addressing the India Today conclave held in New Delhi where he spoke about the future of cinema. Sharing his experiences of a private visit early this year, Cameron said he visited the holy North Indian city of Haridwar which hosts the Kumbh Mela festival that draws millions of pilgrims.

Cameron also said he took a dip in the Ganga river, considered sacred by Hindus. “It was nice to feed in the spirituality, nice to share in the belief system. You do feel something,” he said.

The scuba diving enthusiast and marine explorer is planning to shoot undersea for Avatar 2, for which he is training to pilot a specially-built vehicle that can go down almost 30,000 feet. About integrating science into filmmaking, Cameron said he made movies to carry forward his many scientific experiments but also added, “I don't think Hollywood has served science well. I'm not a scientist, rather I'm a science groupie.”

However, the record-breaking success of Avatar and its spin-off attention from environmental groups got Cameron “very interested in renewable energy. I am going to focus my extracurricular energy outside Avatar to that cause. But we are not going to solve the environmental crisis if we don't first solve the energy crisis.”

Early this year, Cameron was in the Amazon, protesting against the massive Belo Monte dam being planned by the Brazilian government, considered the third-largest in the world, which could have a devastating environmental effect. In his address, Cameron said he may make a documenatary on the plight of the Amazon's displaced indigenous tribe.

In February, U.K.-based charity Survival International appealed to Cameron on behalf of the Dongria Kondh tribe in India's Orissa state who were battling to defend their land and a sacred mountain against mining giant Vedanta's plans to mine bauxite. In August, India's environment ministry denied Vedanta permission to proceed with its project.

Hoping to visit India again for a month-long vacation after he finishes scripting the Avatar sequels, Cameron said his views on India changed after his first visit and that he was now fascinated with the “energy of the nation and the rapid changing modern India.”

http://www.hollywoodreporter.com/news/james-cameron-offers-3d-expertise-58907

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« Reply #2186 on: Dec 12th, 2010, 08:04am »

LA Times

Financial arms race underway in Washington.
Posh fundraisers already are in full swing after record spending on midterms. Nobody wants to get ambushed again.

By Tom Hamburger and Matea Gold
Tribune Washington Bureau
7:17 PM PST, December 11, 2010

Reporting from Washington

When it comes to money in politics, the new normal is already on vivid display.

It could be seen last week in posh restaurants and corporate townhouses on Capitol Hill, where politicians held fundraisers at a record pace. It was evident at Washington's blue-chip law firms, where campaign finance lawyers began work setting up new political committees to collect unlimited donations. It was apparent in the halls of Congress, where lawmakers swapped strategies about how to contend with muscular interest groups looking to take them out.

The unusually intense December bustle is the product of this year's elections, where spending surged to $4 billion in sharp-edged campaigns across the country — a record for a midterm.

Several veteran Democrats accustomed to winning reelection by lopsided margins went down in defeat — partly because of the anti-incumbent mood of angry voters, but also because of the millions of dollars spent by outside groups in last-minute television ads.

Those who survived already are plotting how to deal with the attacks next time. There is no down time. Even the most entrenched incumbents — including many Republicans, who could face left-leaning independent attacks in 2012 — feel compelled to go into permanent campaign mode, further impinging on the already limited time lawmakers spend on policymaking and constituent service.

"It's a sad situation," said Rep. Maurice D. Hinchey of New York, a nine-term Democrat who came close to losing after facing more than $744,000 in independent attacks from outside conservative groups in the final weeks of the campaign. "This is destructive to the Democratic process, to the average American citizen, but we are going to have to pay more attention to fundraising."

Two years before the next national elections, it is clear that independent campaign money — unleashed by the Supreme Court — will wield even more influence in 2012.

Democratic and Republican operatives are racing to set up new "independent expenditure-only committees" that will allow them to spend money almost without limit to help their candidates, setting off a financial arms race.

"The obscene amount of money that was spent in this midterm, I think, is unfortunately just a harbinger of things to come," said Rep. Raul M. Grijalva (D-Ariz.), who narrowly won reelection last month after outside groups spent $600,000 in his rural district on ads attacking him in the final weeks of the campaign.

Grijalva, who enjoyed a 30-point advantage over his GOP rival in 2008, won by just 6 points this year, even after liberal allies poured in money to help him.

"We got caught flat-footed," he said. "I was watching an ad every 10 minutes on TV, even during 'Monday Night Football.' At some point, I didn't want to vote for myself."

Lawmakers say they fear the unrestricted independent spending is creating a Congress even more indebted to special interests, prone to gridlock and unlikely to find compromise. In a sign of the new order, a newly elected Republican senator, Wisconsin's Ron Johnson, paid a personal visit last week to U.S. Chamber of Commerce President Tom Donohue to thank him for the chamber's unsolicited support of his candidacy.

At the National Republican Congressional Committee, Chairman Pete Sessions of Texas is laying plans to ramp up fundraising for 2012 by setting benchmarks for all members of the GOP majority. Plans include giving every member a minimum fundraising threshold, with new, higher amounts set for incoming party chairmen.

"Economic interests are overwhelming the principle of one man, one vote," said Rep. Barney Frank of Massachusetts, the Democratic chairman of the House Financial Services Committee, who was outspent this fall by a previously unknown opponent and outside groups that ran ads attacking Frank. The only solution, short of legislation to overturn recent federal court rulings, Frank said, is "to raise more money on our side," even if the funds come from anonymous donors.

The Supreme Court widened opportunities for this spending in January, ruling in Citizens United vs. Federal Election Commission that corporations and unions could directly fund independent election ads. Other court and regulatory decisions made it easier for tax-exempt groups to air ads closer to election day paid for with unlimited and often anonymous donations.

Of the $4 billion spent overall, about $300 million came from nonparty independent groups, whose participation soared this year. Republicans benefited from the new legal environment more than Democrats, with conservative outside groups outspending liberal groups 2 to 1, according to the Center for Responsive Politics. Among the major outside spenders were the Crossroads Groups, the U.S. Chamber of Commerce and the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees.

Now the talk among Democratic lawmakers and their campaign advisors is how to create "our own Crossroads," a reference to two tax-exempt groups established in part by GOP strategist Karl Rove.

"I can sympathize with them, but I have no sympathy for them," said Carl Forti, political director for American Crossroads, a "super PAC" that discloses its donors, and Crossroads GPS, a nonprofit social welfare organization that accepts anonymous contributions.

Crossroads raised more than $70 million in 2010, but campaign finance lawyer Michael E. Toner, who advised several Republican presidential campaigns, anticipates that the two groups will spend more than $200 million in the next campaign cycle.

Democrats who vigorously protested the role played by independent campaigns now agree their party needs to compete better. Earlier in the decade, Democrats were pioneers in using these groups. This year, Republicans enjoyed a 2-1 advantage in outside spending.

"You're going to see a response on the Democratic side by allied groups and others to respond in kind," said Rep. Chris Van Hollen of Maryland, who was chairman of the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee for 2010. "It seems like everybody wants to form their own [independent group] these days. I think it's a terrible new world. But I don't believe in unilateral disarmament either."

They don't have much time to gear up. Many GOP allies such as the Chamber of Commerce, Crossroad GPS and Americans for Prosperity already are planning to launch issue advertising and grass-roots campaigns in 2011.

"We are looking for opportunities," said Forti, who said part of the Crossroads group's aim would be to concentrate on issues next year that could undermine Democrats facing reelection in 2012.

The issue ads, which cannot explicitly call for the election or defeat of a candidate, are in part an effort by the groups to show that their work is not predominantly political, a requirement to maintain their tax-exempt status. But their push on issues such as tax cuts and deficit spending — two issues Crossroads plans to focus on — likely will heighten polarization around those debates and lay the groundwork for the 2012 battle.

That means for those facing reelection in 2012, raising campaign money is dominating the conversation and the calendar like never before.

Last week, lobbyists held multiple fundraisers every day and were swamped with invitations to elaborate and expensive gatherings in coming weeks.

"Not even Thanksgiving or Christmas after an election is off-limits anymore," lamented David DiMartino, a Washington political consultant. "For the small world of people who write checks to political campaigns, there no longer is an off-season. There is no lull. This is constant."

Although Republican candidates are bound to be hit by more attacks in the next cycle, many GOP leaders still argue that the independent expenditures are good for democracy.

"It encourages participation; it makes for a livelier debate," said Toner, the Republican campaign finance lawyer who once served on the Federal Election Commission.

Democrats — even those who benefit from the spending — take a dimmer view.

"I have a real fear that we're entering a nonstop campaign cycle," said Democratic media consultant Jim Margolis. "If you're in hyper-political state 365 days a year, it makes it tough to sit down and come to an agreement about where to go."


http://www.latimes.com/news/nationworld/nation/la-na-political-funding-20101212,0,5830452.story

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« Reply #2187 on: Dec 12th, 2010, 12:09pm »

Here is one for PWF..... wink


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

Mufon UFO Stalker

Detail for Event ID 26949 x
Case Number:
26949
Log Number: AU-12122010-0005
Submitted Date: 2010-12-12 08:50 GMT
Event Date: 2010-12-12 23:09 GMT
Status: Submitted
City: Gladstone 4680, Queensland
Country: AU
Longitude: 151.2597998
Latitude: -23.8487083
Shape: Other
Duration: 00:14:00
Distance: Over one mile
Location: Mountain
Terrain: Woods
Visibility: Overcast
Weather: Windy, Rain
Entity Type: None
Vallee Index: FB1

Description: While at work in the state forest north of Gladstone, working at my laptop, I noticed, out of the window to my left, a bright red light. Thinking I might have a car coming through bush land towards me, I moved out of the donga I was in and waited for the car to arrive.

After I exited the donga, which is up off the ground, I noticed that the light was above the tree line, a long way from me in the distance; above the north end of Mount Larcom area.

Due to the forest trees getting in the way, I couldn’t work out if it was round or any other shape. Also, there were times when the light hurt my eyes but not enough for me to look away from the object.

I noted that it was slowly moving downwards on the other side of the Mount Larcom range. I tried to take a camera picture and video cam picture on my mobile phone, but all it picked up was blackness, even though I could still see the red light.

At times the light appeared very bright and at others a bit dimmer, not sure if this was due to trees or rocks and natural formations getting in my viewing way. At the time normal nature sounds still happened, no generator problems or light problems with my working area.

There were no other light sources located outside the donga, and no other reasons for this red light to appear. During the 14 minutes I watched this light, I sat down outside the donga in the dark and just watched; no time loss was noticed, nothing strange happened to me or my work area.

My feelings at the time were just calmness, and relaxed. A feeling not to worry about it, that all was normal. I lost site of the object as it moved down behind the mountain side and didn’t see the object again. Please note this was a very cloudy night, with rain and wind at different times.

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« Reply #2188 on: Dec 12th, 2010, 12:26pm »

Good Sunday Swampy!
Thank you for that sighting report.
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« Reply #2189 on: Dec 12th, 2010, 6:41pm »




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artist: Wolfepaw



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