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 veryhotthread  Author  Topic: Stuff & Nonsense  (Read 47091 times)
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xx Re: Stuff & Nonsense
« Reply #2190 on: Dec 12th, 2010, 7:36pm »

Thanks swampy, interesting. Gladstone is a country town on the Queensland coast. I've never heard of a 'donga' before, some type of building I presume. oink!~
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« Reply #2191 on: Dec 13th, 2010, 08:34am »

New York Times

December 12, 2010
6 Americans Killed by Bomb at a New U.S.-Afghan Outpost
By C. J. CHIVERS

ZHARE, Afghanistan — Six American soldiers were killed and more than a dozen American and Afghan troops were wounded on Sunday morning when a van packed with explosives was detonated at a new jointly operated outpost in southern Afghanistan.

The soldiers were inside a small mud-walled building near the village of Sangsar, north of the Arghandab River, when the bomber drove up to one of the walls and exploded his charge around 9 a.m.

The blast could be heard eight miles away, and it sent a dusty cloud towering over the surrounding farmland.

The explosion blasted a hole in the thick wall, causing the roof to collapse on the soldiers inside. Others quickly arrived and clawed and pulled at the waist-deep rubble to free the buried troops.

The building had been occupied by the Americans and Afghans for only a few days, an American official said, and was beside a narrow road. It was not immediately clear how the van managed to get so close without being challenged or stopped.

Gen. Abdul Hameed, a commander in the Afghan National Army, said in a telephone interview that his soldiers had tried to stop the van, but that its driver ignored them and rammed the vehicle into the building.

After the van exploded, the field beside the ruined building became a busy landing zone, with four medical evacuation helicopters arriving to shuttle the victims to two military hospitals in nearby Kandahar.

The Taliban swiftly claimed responsibility for the bombing. “We have killed numbers of Americans and Afghan soldiers and wrecked and ruined their security checkpost,” a Taliban spokesman, Qari Yousuf Ahmadi, said by telephone. “We will carry out similar attacks in the future.”

In addition to the six Americans who were killed, four American soldiers were wounded, but their injuries were not considered life-threatening, according to officials familiar with their conditions. The names of the victims were being withheld pending the notification of their families.

American fatalities in Afghanistan have risen steadily for five years, with 479 American soldiers killed so far in 2010, according to icasualties.org, an independent Web site that compiles battlefield data. That is more than three times the 155 American casualties in 2008.

Despite the Taliban’s claim, it appeared that no Afghan soldiers had been killed in the attack. There were conflicting official reports of the number of Afghans wounded. Some reports said 11 Afghan soldiers had been wounded; others put the number as high as 14. At least one Afghan soldier, who was seen by two journalists aboard a medical evacuation helicopter, had a head injury and appeared to be gravely wounded.

Most of the other Afghans who were injured were walking on their own and appeared to have suffered cuts and shrapnel wounds. A medical official said they were all expected to survive.

The attack occurred in an area where the Americans and Afghans have maintained a heavy military presence this fall, when NATO and Afghan forces flowed into Taliban-controlled territory of Kandahar Province in an effort to clear it of insurgents and bring the area under the control of the government in Kabul.

The Arghandab River Valley, a belt of irrigated fields and small villages, is now dotted with a network of American and Afghan outposts. Patrols crisscross the region each day, and new positions — like the outpost that was attacked on Sunday — are being built.

Fighting has subsided in recent weeks as the weather has cooled and the leaves have fallen, making it more difficult for insurgents to hide.

But the Taliban has continued to plant bombs and send suicide bombers, and American and Afghan soldiers are wounded or killed in the province almost every day.

Taimoor Shah contributed reporting from Kandahar, Afghanistan.

http://www.nytimes.com/2010/12/13/world/asia/13afghan.html?_r=1&ref=world

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« Reply #2192 on: Dec 13th, 2010, 08:36am »

New York Times

December 12, 2010
Sailors Missing as S. Korean Boat Sinks
By MARK McDONALD

SEOUL, South Korea — Five crew members were killed Monday when a South Korean fishing trawler sank in the frigid waters off Antarctica, and 17 other crew members were missing and presumed dead, New Zealand rescue officials said.

Twenty of the crewmen were rescued by a nearby South Korean fishing boat, and two other South Korean vessels were enlisted in the search. But two New Zealand fishing boats stopped searching Monday afternoon because it was unlikely that any of the missing crew had survived, according to Dave Wilson, an official with the Rescue Coordination Center New Zealand, based in Wellington.

There was no immediate indication for the cause of the sinking, and the agency said no distress call had been issued.

The 190-foot trawler, the In Sung No. 1, sank quickly, according to rescue officials citing reports from the scene. The sinking occurred around 6:30 a.m., about 1,150 miles north of McMurdo Station, a United States science and research center on New Zealand’s Ross Island, in Antarctica.

The water temperature in the area was 2 degrees Celsius, or 36 degrees Fahrenheit.

"Survival times in the water are about 10 minutes without lifejackets or immersion suits,” the rescue agency said in a statement.

The New Zealand Air Force considered sending a P-3 Orion patrol plane to the area, Mr. Wilson said, adding that a Hercules from McMurdo Station also was a possibility.

“Unfortunately, given the short survival times in water of those temperatures and the length of time it would take for the Orion and Hercules aircraft to reach the search area, it was not a viable option,” Mr. Wilson said.

The In Sung, a 614-ton long-line fishing trawler, is reportedly based in Pusan, in southern South Korea. Among the crew were Chinese, Indonesians, Filipinos and one Russian.

In August, three people died when a South Korean fishing vessel went down 400 miles east of Dunedin, New Zealand. The New Zealand rescue agency saved 45 crew members from the ship, a spokeswoman said at the time.

In April, just days after a South Korean warship was sunk by a torpedo allegedly fired by North Korea, a South Korean fishing boat sank during the search for survivors. That boat apparently collided with a freighter.


http://www.nytimes.com/2010/12/13/world/asia/13korea.html?ref=world

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« Reply #2193 on: Dec 13th, 2010, 08:43am »

Telegraph

Loch Ness monster 'seen twice'
A retired detective whose father captured one of the most famous images of the Loch Ness monster has reopened the debate over the beast's existence by claiming he has seen it twice.


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Tim Dinsdale, the aeronautical engineer and Nessie hunter


By Nick Collins
6:40AM GMT
13 Dec 2010

Simon Dinsdale, a retired police detective from Essex, insists that the two minute film recorded 50 years ago by his father, a famous Nessie-hunter, is genuine.

The footage, shot by Tim Dinsdale in 1960, is one of the best-known images put forward as evidence by those who insist on the existence of the mysterious creature.

Now the insistence of those who believe in Nessie that the film is genuine has been lent new weight after Mr Dinsdale claimed he had seen the monster with his own eyes on two occasions.

Mr Dinsdale Sr, an aeronautical engineer in the RAF who died in 1987, was one of the world's leading Nessie-hunters, making 56 expeditions to Loch Ness and writing a number of books on the subject.

When his footage was sent to the RAF for analysis, experts determined that the mysterious shape seen moving around in the water was neither a boat nor a submarine, but an "unknown inanimate object".

Simon, his son, is determined to convince the public the video is authentic and discussed his belief in the mysterious monster in an interview with the BBC, to be broadcast on Monday.

He said: "I saw this immense, extraordinary object, it looked like the back of a huge animal.

"It stood two or three feet (0.6m to 0.9m) out of the water, four or five feet (1.2m to 1.5m) across, reddish brown and had a blotch on the left flank which I could see very clearly.

"And then it started to move – a most electrifying moment."

Mr Dinsdale Jr, who spent his career examining evidence and was involved in tracking down serial killer Steve Wright in Ipswich, is adamant the film can not be a hoax.

He said: "I'm experienced at looking at evidence and I can tell you that on the balance of probabilities there is something large and unknown living in this loch."

Speculation over the possible existence of an enormous monster living underwater in the Loch began in 1933 when George Spicer reported the first modern sighting of the beast.

Mr Spicer claimed he and his wife saw "a most extraordinary form of animal" some 4ft (1m) high and 25ft (8m) long crossing the road 20 years from the loch.

Many people over the years have claimed to have conclusive evidence that the monster exists, only to find their arguments rejected by the public at large.

The most famous was a photograph published in 1934, supposedly taken by Dr Robert Kenneth Wilson, showed a head and long neck apparently belonging to a large animal in the middle of the lake.

It was the subject of feverish debate for 60 years before finally being exposed as a hoax in 1994, when Christian Spurling confessed to having fitted a toy submarine with a false head before photographing it and passing the picture to Dr Wilson.

http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/newstopics/howaboutthat/8197760/Loch-Ness-monster-seen-twice.html

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« Reply #2194 on: Dec 13th, 2010, 08:45am »

LA Times

YouTube is letting users decide on terrorism-related videos.

By Brian Bennett,
Tribune Washington Bureau
7:49 PM PST, December 12, 2010

Reporting from Washington

Nudity. Sexual activity. Animal abuse. All are reasons YouTube users can flag a video for removal from the website. Add a new category: promotes terrorism.

YouTube and its parent company, Google, have been criticized by lawmakers for refusing to prescreen militant speeches and propaganda videos that have been cited in more than a dozen terrorism investigations over the last five years.

But rather than submit to policies that many argue would amount to an erosion of 1st Amendment rights, particularly in an open-access environment such as the Internet, YouTube is taking a decidedly more democratic path — let the customers decide.

The approach puts YouTube in the middle of a debate over whether it is possible to protect free speech and deny militants a powerful recruitment tool — slick videos glorifying jihad that reach into the laptops and minds of disaffected young Americans.

After years of calling on YouTube to take down content produced by Islamic extremists, Sen. Joe Lieberman (I-Conn.) called the new flagging protocols a "good first step toward scrubbing mainstream Internet sites of terrorist propaganda."

"But it shouldn't take a letter from Congress — or in the worst possible case, a successful terrorist attack — for YouTube to do the right thing," said Lieberman, whose staff has met with YouTube officials on the issue.

Yet the new category also is "potentially troubling," said George Washington University law professor Jeffrey Rosen, because the phrase "promotes terrorism" is more subject to interpretation than the longstanding language in the YouTube guidelines that specifically forbids material that incites others to commit violence.

In November, YouTube removed hundreds of videos that featured the American cleric Anwar Awlaki, whom U.S. officials have designated a "global terrorist," after Rep. Anthony Weiner (D-N.Y.) wrote then-YouTube Chief Executive Chad Hurley a letter detailing Awlaki's appearance in more than 700 videos with 3.5 million page views on the site.

Despite YouTube's action, dozens of Awlaki's speeches are easily found on the site, and users who play the speeches are directed to dozens of other Islamic militant videos under a "suggestions" column.

YouTube has been a favorite tool of Awlaki, who is believed to be hiding in Yemen with other members of the organization Al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula. U.S. law enforcement officials think Awlaki's preaching influenced Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab, who is accused of trying to blow up a plane over Detroit on Christmas Day; Faisal Shahzad, the would-be Times Square bomber; and Army Maj. Nidal Malik Hasan, who is accused of killing 13 people at Ft. Hood, Texas, in November 2009.

A 21-year-old Baltimore construction worker accused of plotting to blow up a military recruiting station last week called Awlaki a "real inspiration," according to court documents.

U.S. investigators working on domestic terrorism cases during the last five years have repeatedly found Awlaki's English-language speech "Constants on the Path to Jihad" shared among circles of would-be plotters. The speech, which is still on YouTube, is a lengthy interpretation of the religious justifications for fighting against perceived enemies of Islam.

If a father forbids his son to fight, Awlaki says at one point, the son should disobey. "When the command of Allah clashes with the command of the parents," Awlaki says, "he will obey the command of Allah."

After a 21-year-old woman told a British judge that she was inspired to stab a parliamentarian in March after she watched Awlaki's speeches on YouTube, Britain security minister Pauline Neville-Jones called on the U.S. "to take down this hateful material."

"Those websites would categorically not be allowed in [Britain] — they incite cold-blooded murder and, as such, are surely contrary to the public good," Neville-Jones said in an October speech in Washington.

YouTube executives say they are committed to ensuring that the website is not used to "spread terrorist propaganda or incite violence." But given the massive amount of video uploaded to YouTube — more than 24 hours of video every minute — it is "simply not possible" to prescreen the content, YouTube executive Victoria Grand wrote in a Nov. 10 letter to Weiner.

YouTube relies on users to flag inappropriate videos to be reviewed by its employees. YouTube would not disclose how many reviewers it employs or what languages they understand. If the reviewers determine that the videos contain nudity, animal abuse, hate speech or incite violence, they are taken down for violating the site's terms of use.

But when it comes to deciding whether a video is religious free speech or promotes terrorism, YouTube aims "to draw a careful line between enabling free expression and religious speech, while prohibiting content that incites violence."

It is admirable that YouTube devotes resources to consider religious speech on a case-by-case basis, said Rosen, the law professor. "It is precisely the speech of those we hate that needs the most protection if free expression is going to flourish."

http://www.latimes.com/news/nationworld/nation/la-na-youtube-terror-20101213,0,3375845.story

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« Reply #2195 on: Dec 13th, 2010, 08:58am »

Science Daily


Brain's Inherent Ability to Focus Learning Discovered
ScienceDaily (Dec. 13, 2010) —

Medical researchers have found a missing link that explains the interaction between brain state and the neural triggers responsible for learning, potentially opening up new ways of boosting cognitive function in the face of diseases such as Alzheimer's as well as enhancing memory in healthy people.


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New research explains the interaction between brain state and the neural triggers responsible for learning, potentially
opening up new ways of boosting cognitive function.
(Credit: iStockphoto/Issam Khriji)



Much is known about the neural processes that occur during learning but until now it has not been clear why it occurs during certain brain states but not others. Now researchers from the University of Bristol have been able to study, in isolation, the specific neurotransmitter which enhances learning and memory.

Acetylcholine is released in the brain during learning and is critical for the acquisition of new memories. Its role is to facilitate the activity of NMDA receptors, proteins that control the strength of connections between nerve cells in the brain.

Currently, the only effective treatment for the symptoms of cognitive impairment seen in diseases such as Alzheimer's is through the use of drugs that boost the amount of acetylcholine release and thereby enhance cognitive function.

Describing their findings in the journal Neuron, researchers from Bristol's School of Physiology and Pharmacology have shown that acetylcholine facilitates NMDA receptors by inhibiting the activity of other proteins called SK channels whose normal role is to restrict the activity of NMDA receptors.

This discovery of a role for SK channels provides new insight into the mechanisms underlying learning and memory. SK channels normally act as a barrier to NMDA receptor function, inhibiting changes in the strength of connections between nerve cells and therefore restricting the brain's ability to encode memories. Findings from this latest research show that the SK channel barrier can be removed by the release of acetylcholine in the brain in order to enhance our ability to learn and remember information.

Lead researcher Dr Jack Mellor, from the University of Bristol's Medical School, said: "These findings are not going to revolutionise the treatment of Alzheimer's disease or other forms of cognitive impairment overnight. However, national and international funding bodies have recently made research into aging and dementia a top priority so we expect many more advances in our understanding of the mechanisms underlying learning and memory in both health and disease."

The team studied the effects of drugs that target acetylcholine receptors and SK channels on the strength of connections between nerve cells in animal brain tissue. They found that changes in connection strength were facilitated by the presence of drugs that activate acetylcholine receptors or block SK channels revealing the link between the two proteins.

Dr Mellor added: "From a therapeutic point of view, this study suggests that certain drugs that act on specific acetylcholine receptors may be highly attractive as potential treatments for cognitive disorders. Currently, the only effective treatments for patients with Alzheimer's disease are drugs that boost the effectiveness of naturally released acetylcholine. We have shown that mimicking the effect of acetylcholine at specific receptors facilitates changes in the strength of connections between nerve cells. This could potentially be beneficial for patients suffering from Alzheimer's disease or schizophrenia."

The research team involved the University of Bristol's MRC Centre for Synaptic Plasticity and the Division of Neuroscience in the School of Physiology & Pharmacology, part of the Bristol Neuroscience network. This work was supported by the Wellcome Trust, MRC, BBSRC and GSK.

http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2010/12/101208125615.htm

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« Reply #2196 on: Dec 13th, 2010, 09:20am »

The Real Da Vinci Code? Expert Spies Secret Symbols in Mona Lisa's Eyes

Published December 13, 2010

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Italian art experts are investigating a real-life “Da Vinci Code” mystery after discovering tiny symbols painted into the eyes of the world-famous "Mona Lisa" portrait, according to a report in The Sun Monday.

Italy's National Committee for Cultural Heritage has revealed letters and numbers can be seen by magnifying high resolution images of Leonardo Da Vinci's 500-year-old Renaissance masterpiece.

Art historian Silvano Vinceti said that "in the right eye appears to be the letters LV, which could well stand for his name.

"In the left eye there are also symbols. It is difficult to make them out but they appear to be the letters C and E or B. To the naked eye the symbols are not visible but with a magnifying glass they are clearly seen. We know Da Vinci used symbols so we are confident that they are a message from him."

According to The Guardian, the letters may be a clue to the identity of the model in the painting -- one of art history's most enduring questions.

The mystery shows similarities to the 2003 Dan Brown blockbuster novel “The Da Vinci Code,” which was turned into a film starring Tom Hanks. The book and movie tell the story of hidden messages in Da Vinci's works, including "The Last Supper."

Vinceti said the historians examined the painting after fellow committee member Luigi Borgia found a book in an antique shop, describing how the eyes of the "Mona Lisa" were filled with secret signs.

The historians also discovered a 72, or possibly an L and a 2, painted into a bridge in the background of the famous portrait, which is in the Louvre in Paris.

"We are only at the start of this investigation and we hope to be able to dig deeper into this mystery and reveal further details as soon as possible," Vinceti said.


Read more: http://www.foxnews.com/scitech/2010/12/13/real-da-vinci-code-secret-symbols-mona-lisa-eyes/#ixzz180KBgCiB


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« Reply #2197 on: Dec 13th, 2010, 12:19pm »

"Italian art experts are investigating a real-life “Da Vinci Code” mystery after discovering tiny symbols painted into the eyes of the world-famous "Mona Lisa" portrait, according to a report in The Sun Monday.

Italy's National Committee for Cultural Heritage has revealed letters and numbers can be seen by magnifying high resolution images of Leonardo Da Vinci's 500-year-old Renaissance masterpiece."


WOW!!!

That is bizarre! And fantastic! Thanks Swampy.
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« Reply #2198 on: Dec 13th, 2010, 8:27pm »

New York Times

December 13, 2010
Richard C. Holbrooke, U.S. Diplomatic Troubleshooter, Dies at 69

By ROBERT D. McFADDEN


Richard C. Holbrooke, the Obama administration’s special representative for Afghanistan and Pakistan since 2009 and a diplomatic troubleshooter in Asia, Europe and the Middle East who worked for every Democratic president since the late 1960s, died on Monday evening in Washington. He was 69 and lived in Manhattan.

His death was confirmed by an Obama administration official.

Mr. Holbrooke was hospitalized on Friday afternoon after becoming ill while meeting with Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton in her Washington office. Doctors found a tear to his aorta, and he underwent a 21-hour operation. Mr. Holbrooke had additional surgery on Sunday and had remained in very critical condition until his death.

Mr. Holbrooke’s signal accomplishment in a distinguished career was his role as the chief architect of the 1995 Dayton peace accords, which ended the war in Bosnia. It was a diplomatic coup preceded and followed by his peacekeeping missions to the tinderbox of ethnic, religious and regional conflicts that was formerly Yugoslavia.

More recently, Mr. Holbrooke wrestled with the stunning complexity of Afghanistan and Pakistan: how to bring stability to the region while fighting a resurgent Taliban and coping with corrupt governments, rigged elections, fragile economies, a rampant narcotics trade, nuclear weapons in Pakistan and the presence of Al Qaeda, and presumably Osama bin Laden, in the wild tribal borderlands.

His tenure in the Obama administration had mixed reviews. President Obama sent in more troops, as Mr. Holbrooke had wanted, but there was little military or civic progress. Mr. Holbrooke’s relationship with President Hamid Karzai of Afghanistan was icy. Some experts said that merely avoiding disaster would have been a triumph. But many said the tenacious Mr. Holbrooke was the right man for the job.

A brilliant, sometimes abrasive infighter with a formidable arsenal of facts, bluffs, whispers, implied threats and, when necessary, pyrotechnic fits of anger, Mr. Holbrooke dazzled and often intimidated opponents and colleagues around a negotiating table. Some called him a bully, and he looked the part: the big chin thrust out, the broad shoulders, the tight smile that might mean anything.

But admirers, including generations of State Department protégés and the presidents he served, called his peacemaking efforts extraordinary.

When he named Mr. Holbrooke to represent the United States at the United Nations, President Bill Clinton said, “His remarkable diplomacy in Bosnia helped to stop the bloodshed, and at the talks in Dayton the force of his determination was the key to securing peace, restoring hope and saving lives.” Others said his work in Bosnia deserved the Nobel Peace Prize.

Few diplomats could boast of his career accomplishments. Early on, Mr. Holbrooke devoted six years to the Vietnam War: first in the Mekong Delta with the Agency for International Development, seeking the allegiance of the civilian population; then at the embassy in Saigon as an aide to Ambassadors Maxwell Taylor and Henry Cabot Lodge Jr.; and finally in the American delegation to the 1968-69 Paris peace talks led by W. Averell Harriman and Cyrus R. Vance.

Mr. Holbrooke was the author of one volume of the Pentagon Papers, the secret Defense Department history of the Vietnam War that catalogued years of American duplicity in Southeast Asia. The papers were first brought to public attention by The New York Times in 1971.

As assistant secretary of state for East Asian and Pacific affairs in the Carter administration, Mr. Holbrooke played a crucial role in establishing full diplomatic relations with China in 1979, a move that finessed America’s continuing commitment to China’s thorn in the side Taiwan and followed up on the historic breakthrough of President Richard M. Nixon’s 1972 visit to China.

During the Clinton presidency, Mr. Holbrooke served as ambassador to Germany in 1993-94, when he helped enlarge the North Atlantic alliance; achieved his diplomatic breakthroughs in Bosnia as assistant secretary of state for European affairs in 1994-95; and was chief representative to the United Nations, a cabinet post, for 17 months from 1999 to 2001.

At the United Nations, he forged close ties to Secretary General Kofi Annan, negotiated a settlement of America’s longstanding dues dispute, highlighted conflicts and health crises in Africa and Indonesia, and called for more peacekeeping forces. After fighting erupted in the Democratic Republic of Congo in 1999, he led a Security Council delegation on a mission to Africa. He also backed sanctions against Angolan rebels in 2000.

While he achieved prominence as a cabinet official and envoy to many of the world’s most troubled arenas, Mr. Holbrooke’s was frustrated in his ambition to be secretary of state; he was the runner-up to Madeleine K. Albright, Mr. Clinton’s choice in 1997, and a contender when Mr. Obama installed Hillary Rodham Clinton in the post in 2009.

Foreign policy was his life. Even during Republican administrations, when he was not in government, he was deeply engaged, undertaking missions as a private citizen traveling through the war-weary Balkans and the backwaters of Africa and Asia to see firsthand the damage and devastating human costs of genocide, civil wars and H.I.V. and AIDS epidemics.

And his voice on the outside remained influential — as the editor of Foreign Policy magazine from 1972 to 1977, as a writer of columns for The Washington Post and analytical articles for many other publications, and as the author of two books. He collaborated with Clark Clifford, a presidential adviser, on a best-selling Clifford memoir, “Counsel to the President” (1991), and wrote his own widely acclaimed memoir, “To End a War” (1998), about his Bosnia service.

Mr. Holbrooke also made millions as an investment banker on Wall Street. In the early 1980s, he was a co-founder of a Washington consulting firm, Public Strategies, which was later sold to Lehman Brothers. At various times he was a managing director of Lehman Brothers, vice chairman of Credit Suisse First Boston and a director of the American International Group.

Richard Charles Albert Holbrooke was born in Manhattan on April 24, 1941, to Dr. Dan Holbrooke, a physician, and the former Trudi Moos. He attended Scarsdale High School, where his best friend was David Rusk, son of Dean Rusk, the future secretary of state. Richard’s father died when he was 15, and he drew closer to the Rusk family.

At Brown University, he majored in history and was editor of the student newspaper. He intended to become a journalist, but after graduating in 1962 he was turned down by The Times and joined the State Department as a foreign service officer.

In 1964, Mr. Holbrooke married the first of his three wives, Larrine Sullivan, a lawyer. The couple had two sons, David and Anthony. They were divorced. His marriage to Blythe Babyak, a television producer, also ended in divorce. In 1995, he married Kati Marton, an author, journalist and human rights advocate who had been married to the ABC anchorman Peter Jennings until their divorce in 1993. Ms. Marton and his sons are among his survivors, as are his stepchildren, Christopher and Elizabeth Jennings..

After language training, he spent three years working in Vietnam. In 1966, he joined President Lyndon B. Johnson’s White House staff, and two years later became a junior member of the delegation at the Paris peace talks. The talks achieved no breakthrough, but the experience taught him much about the arts of negotiation.

In 1970, after a year as a fellow at Princeton, he became director of the Peace Corps in Morocco. He quit government service in 1972 and over the next five years edited the quarterly journal Foreign Policy. He was also a contributing editor of Newsweek International and a consultant on reorganizing the government’s foreign policy apparatus.

He worked on Jimmy Carter’s presidential campaign in 1976, and was rewarded with the post of assistant secretary of state for East Asia and Pacific affairs. When Ronald Reagan and the Republicans took over the White House in 1981, Mr. Holbrooke left the government and for more than a decade focused on writing and investment banking.

When President Clinton took office in 1993, Mr. Holbrooke was named ambassador to Germany. He helped found the American Academy in Berlin as a cultural exchange center.

He returned to Washington in 1994 as assistant secretary of state for European affairs. His top priority soon became the horrendous civil war in the former Yugoslavia, a conflict precipitated by the secession of Croatia, Slovenia, Macedonia and Bosnia. Massacres, mass rapes and displaced populations, among other atrocities, were part of campaigns of “ethnic cleansing” against Muslims.

After months of shuttle diplomacy, Mr. Holbrooke in 1995 achieved a breakthrough cease-fire and a framework for dividing Bosnia into two entities, one of Bosnian Serbs and another of Croatians and Muslims. The endgame negotiations, involving the Serbian leader Slobodan Milosevic, President Franjo Tudjman of Croatia and President Alija Izetbegovic of Bosnia, unfolded in Dayton, Ohio, where a peace agreement was reached after months of hard bargaining led by Mr. Holbrooke.

It was the high-water mark of a career punctuated with awards, honorary degrees and prestigious seats on the boards of the Asia Society, the American Museum of Natural History, the National Endowment for Democracy, the Council on Foreign Relations, Refugees International and other organizations.

more after the jump
http://www.nytimes.com/2010/12/14/world/14holbrooke.html?_r=1&ref=politics

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« Reply #2199 on: Dec 13th, 2010, 9:00pm »






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« Reply #2200 on: Dec 13th, 2010, 9:02pm »






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« Reply #2201 on: Dec 13th, 2010, 9:05pm »






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« Reply #2202 on: Dec 14th, 2010, 08:05am »

New York Times

December 14, 2010
WikiLeaks Founder to Seek Bail in Court
By RAVI SOMAIYA and ALAN COWELL

LONDON — After a week in detention facing possible extradition, Julian Assange, the founder of the WikiLeaks anti-secrecy group, was scheduled to appear in court here on Tuesday to seek bail as he challenges a Swedish prosecutor’s demand for his extradition to face questioning about alleged sex offenses.

The case has generated enormous international interest with figures in the Obama administration weighing whether to prosecute him, critics vilifying him and supporters depicting him as a hero and martyr. Crowds of media crews and reporters built around the court near Parliament early on Tuesday, mingling with Mr. Assange’s followers.

An Australian newspaper, the Sunshine Coast News, reported on Tuesday that his mother, Christine Assange, had flown to London to be with her son.

In a 10-minute telephone conversation his mother, the newspaper said, Mr. Assange declared: “My convictions are unfaltering. I remain true to the ideals I have always expressed. These circumstances shall not shake them. If anything, this process has increased my determination that they are true and correct.”

The legal wrangle over Mr. Assange’s future erupted after WikiLeaks posted troves of classified American documents on the Internet, the most recent of them drawn from some 250,000 diplomatic cables between the State Department in Washington and American missions abroad.

While Mr. Assange has ascribed the sex offenses — which he denies — to “dirty tricks” related to his whistle-blowing operations, Swedish prosecutors insist there is no link. A week ago, Mr. Assange surrendered to British authorities and was jailed after a judge reviewing the extradition request found him to be a flight risk and denied bail.

Whatever the outcome of Tuesday’s hearing, a final decision on whether he is extradited could take weeks or longer.

Speaking about the case in recent weeks, Mr. Assange has said that he had consensual relations with two young Swedish women, whom he met during a trip to Sweden in August that he made in a bid to establish a haven for himself and WikiLeaks under Sweden’s broad press freedoms.

The charges relate to the question of whether these encounters ceased to be consensual when a condom was no longer being used. Sweden’s request for extradition is designed to enable prosecutors to question Mr. Assange about charges of “rape, sexual molestation and unlawful coercion.”

The latest twist in the drama began a week ago when officers from Scotland Yard arrested Mr. Assange after he went to a central London police station by agreement with the authorities.

In a packed courtroom hearing lasting nearly an hour a week ago, Gemma Lindfield, a lawyer acting for the Swedish government, outlined some of the detailed allegations against Mr. Assange made by the Swedish women, both WikiLeaks volunteers. They involved three incidents , including one in which Mr. Assange was alleged to have had unprotected sex with one of his accusers as she was asleep.

In court last week, Mr. Assange refused to give a current address, giving first a post office box, then an address in Parkville in the Australian state of Victoria, where he lived before adopting a nomadic lifestyle since founding WikiLeaks in 2006.

The exchange appeared to have weighed against his request for bail, which was supported by financial guarantees of more than $150,000 from a cast of well-known supporters present in court, including the filmmaker Ken Loach and Jemima Khan, a socialite and political activist.

The judge, Howard Riddle, agreed with Ms. Lindfield that there were “significant grounds” for thinking Mr. Assange posed a flight risk, because of his “nomadic lifestyle,” his lack of ties in Britain, his network of international contacts and his access to substantial sums donated by WikiLeaks supporters.

His week of imprisonment has had little evident impact on the flow of leaked documents from an archive that was made available to five news organizations, including The New York Times. Neither does the flow seem to have been stemmed between what has been called cyber-warfare between supporters of WikiLeaks and several of its online contractual partners providing servers space, domain names and payment services for donation.

In the telephone conversation with his mother, Mr. Assange said: “I am calling on the world to protect my work and my people from these illegal and immoral acts.”

Many of the communications between the State Department and 274 overseas embassies and missions remain to be released.

According to WikiLeaks, only 1,344 of a total 251,287 documents have so far been published on its Web site since it began releasing the latest batch of documents on November 28. Previously the organization had publicized confidential material about the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq.


Ravi Somaiya reported from London, and Alan Cowell from Berlin.

http://www.nytimes.com/2010/12/15/world/europe/15assange.html?_r=1&hp

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« Reply #2203 on: Dec 14th, 2010, 08:13am »

Telegraph


A bid to make road junctions in the Czech Republic safer by pitching cardboard cutouts of female traffic police has backfired because the miniskirt-clad officers have proved such a distraction that accidents have doubled.


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With their raised hemlines, high heels, stockings and lipstick, the police officers have become crash-magnets


1:50PM GMT 14 Dec 2010

The Czech capital Prague decided to put women officers on duty with stop-and-go signs at a variety of dangerous junctions after it was decided traffic lights were too costly.

But with their raised hemlines, high heels, stockings and lipstick, the police officers have become crash-magnets.

One driver involved in a crash denied he was ogling the cut-out, saying: "I admit I was looking at her, thinking what the hell is she wearing a miniskirt for in this weather?"

A Czech radio station recently provided hats and jackets for the cutouts, but they were stolen, before one of the officers was stolen herself.

The Czech interior ministry is now rethinking the scheme.

http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/worldnews/europe/czechrepublic/8201106/Miniskirt-clad-Czech-cardboard-cut-out-police-officers-cause-double-the-amount-of-accidents.html

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« Reply #2204 on: Dec 14th, 2010, 08:16am »

Defense News

S. Korea To Stage Big Air Raid Drill Amid Tension With North
AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE
Published: 13 Dec 2010 11:44

SEOUL - South Korea will stage a major civil defense drill this week against mock attacks by North Korean aircraft amid continuing high tensions after the North's bombardment last month, officials said Dec. 13.

The drill will take place at 2 p.m. (5 a.m. GMT) on Dec. 15, with a dozen South Korean fighter jets flying across the country to simulate air strikes, the National Emergency Management Agency said.

"Along with air raid sirens, people will be asked to run into some 25,000 state-managed shelters or other civilian underground facilities," said agency official Yoo Byung-Koo.

South Korea, which has remained technically at war with the communist North since their 1950-1953 conflict, usually conducts such drills without aircraft three times a year. They are widely ignored by the public.

"Unlike previous ones, Wednesday's drill will focus on guiding people into emergency shelters," Yoo said. "This will be the biggest exercise of its kind in many years. We hope people will take it seriously."

In border areas, he said, there would be simulated strikes by North Korea's ground artillery units.

The country has been on high alert since the North's Nov. 23 bombardment of an island near the disputed Yellow Sea border killed four people including civilians and triggered a regional crisis.

After the attack, the first on a civilian area since the war, Seoul staged a major naval drill with the United States in a show of strength against Pyongyang.

Last week, the South staged its own live-fire drills around the coast.

A similar week-long exercise began Dec. 13 at 27 venues off the coast but not near the disputed border, the Joint Chiefs of Staff said.

The top U.S. and South Korean military officers last week vowed more joint drills and promised a tough response to future attacks.

The North's ruling party newspaper Rodong Sinmun said Dec. 13 the two nations are conspiring to launch a war and "bringing the dark clouds of a nuclear war to hang over the Korean peninsula."

A series of diplomatic moves are also underway this week.

North Korea's foreign minister Pak Ui-Chun is visiting Russia, while U.S. Deputy Secretary of State James Steinberg is to visit Beijing to press China to take stronger action against its ally the North.

South Korea's chief nuclear envoy is scheduled to visit Russia for talks with his counterpart Alexei Borodavkin.

And New Mexico Governor Bill Richardson will visit North Korea from Dec. 16-20 to try to calm tensions.

China has called for an emergency meeting on the crisis between chief delegates to stalled six-party talks on the North's nuclear disarmament.

The United States, Japan and South Korea have reacted coolly, saying the North must first mend ties with the South and show seriousness about disarmament.

Russia is the sixth member of the forum.

http://www.defensenews.com/story.php?i=5225601&c=ASI&s=SEA

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