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 veryhotthread  Author  Topic: Stuff & Nonsense  (Read 3284 times)
WingsofCrystal
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xx Re: Stuff & Nonsense
« Reply #2205 on: Dec 14th, 2010, 08:18am »

Wired

Dec. 14, 1962: Mariner 2 Reaches Venus, an Interplanetary First
By Tony Long
December 14, 2010 | 7:00 am
Categories: 20th century, Space Exploration

1962: Mariner 2 passes within 21,000 miles of Venus and begins transmitting data back to Earth, making it the first successful interplanetary spacecraft.

The spacecraft was the second in NASA’s Mariner series, a program designed for conducting planetary exploration by gathering as much data as possible in the course of a carefully choreographed flyby. Mariner 1 failed shortly after launch July 22, 1962, when its rocket veered off course and the craft was deliberately destroyed.

Mariner 2, launched a month later at Cape Canaveral atop an identical Atlas-Agena rocket, took three-and-a-half months to reach Venus.

The spacecraft, more accurately described as a probe, was a small (just over a meter wide, with a mass less than 500 pounds), hexagonally shaped box with an array of panels and an antenna attached. Other scientific instruments were packed inside the probe, including sensors for measuring temperature distribution and atmospheric conditions on Venus.

Due to the heavy cloud cover blanketing the Venusian surface, Mariner 2 was not equipped with a camera.

During its voyage to Earth’s closest neighbor, Mariner 2 conducted experiments to measure the density and velocity of the solar winds emitted by the sun. The data sent back helped establish that solar winds stream continuously in interplanetary space. On Dec. 14, the attention turned to Venus.

Scanning with infrared and microwave radiometers, Mariner 2 found that the clouds enveloping the planet are quite cool, but that the surface temperature is very hot: around 900 degrees Fahrenheit. It also obtained improved estimates of Venus’ mass.

Mariner 2 failed to turn up any evidence of a magnetic field, although its existence was confirmed in later visits to the planet, including the European Space Agency’s Venus Express mission.

Mariner 2’s signal was tracked until Jan. 3, 1963, after which contact was lost. The probe eventually entered into orbit around the sun, where it remains to this day.

http://www.wired.com/thisdayintech/2010/12/1214mariner2-venus/

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« Reply #2206 on: Dec 14th, 2010, 08:24am »

Science Daily

Hot With Decades of Drought: Expectations for Southwestern United States
ScienceDaily (Dec. 13, 2010) —

An unprecedented combination of heat plus decades of drought could be in store for the Southwest sometime this century, suggests new research from a University of Arizona-led team. A 60-year drought like that of the 12th Century could be in our future.


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A core extracted from a living Douglas-fir tree in the Santa Rita Mountains south of Tucson, Ariz. Scientists use such cores to study the annual rings of trees, visible on the core as banding. Collecting such cores causes only temporary injury to the tree.
(Credit: Copyright 2009 Daniel Griffin)



To come to this conclusion, the team reviewed previous studies that document the region's past temperatures and droughts.

"Major 20th century droughts pale in comparison to droughts documented in paleoclimatic records over the past two millennia," the researchers wrote. During the Medieval period, elevated temperatures coincided with lengthy and widespread droughts.

By figuring out when and for how long drought and warm temperatures coincided in the past, the team identified plausible worst-case scenarios for the future. Such scenarios can help water and other resource managers plan for the future, the team wrote.

"We're not saying future droughts will be worse than what we see in the paleo record, but we are saying they could be as bad," said lead author Connie A. Woodhouse, a UA associate professor of geography and regional development. "However, the effects of such a worst-case drought, were it to recur in the future, would be greatly intensified by even warmer temperatures."

The team's paper is part of the special feature, "Climate Change and Water in Southwestern North America," scheduled for publication Dec. 13 in the Early Online edition of the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.

The paper by Woodhouse and her colleagues is titled, "A 1,200‑year perspective of 21st century drought in the southwestern North America." Co‑authors are Glen M. MacDonald of the University of California, Los Angeles; Dave W. Stahle of the University of Arkansas in Fayetteville; and Edward R. Cook of Lamont-Doherty Earth Observatory of Columbia University, Palisades, N.Y.

The analysis in the current paper includes previous research by Woodhouse, co-author David M. Meko and others that documented past droughts that lasted several decades. Moreover, some of those droughts occurred during times of relatively warm temperatures.

Within the last 2,000 years, there have been several periods of severe and sustained drought that affected much of western North America.

Droughts that are accompanied by warm temperatures have more severe impacts on ecosystems, said Meko, an associate research professor in the UA's Laboratory of Tree-Ring Research.

During the Medieval period, temperatures were about 1.8 degrees Fahrenheit (1 C) above the long-term average. Average temperatures in the Southwest have been warmer than that since 1990 and are projected to increase at least another 3.6 F (2 C) by 2100, Woodhouse said.

The most severe warm-climate drought in the Southwest within the last 1,200 years was 60 years long and occurred during the mid-12th century, according to research by Meko and others. That drought covered most of the western U.S. and northern Mexico.

For a 25-year period during that drought, Colorado River flow averaged 15 percent below normal, according to the tree-ring-based reconstruction of stream flow at Lees Ferry.

For every 1.8 degree Fahrenheit (1 C) of warming in the future, Colorado River flow is projected to decrease between two and eight percent, Woodhouse and her co-authors wrote.

The Colorado River supplies water for cities and agriculture in seven western states in the U.S. and two states in northwestern Mexico. Los Angeles, Las Vegas, Denver, Phoenix, Tucson and Albuquerque are among the many cities dependent on Colorado River water.

"Even without warming, if you had one of those medieval droughts now, the impact would be devastating," she said. "Our water systems are not built to sustain us through that length of drought."

Noting that the Colorado River flows recorded at Lees Ferry from 2000 to 2009 are the lowest on record, Woodhouse said the current drought could be part of a longer dry period. The instrumental record from Lees Ferry goes back to 1906.

"As this drought unfolds you can't really evaluate it until you're looking back in time," she said.

In recent decades, temperatures have been higher than during the previous 1,200 years, and future temperatures are predicted to be even warmer, Woodhouse said.

In addition, other research predicts that changes in atmospheric circulation will reduce the amount of winter precipitation the Southwest receives in the future, she said.

"The bottom line is, we could have a Medieval-style drought with even warmer temperatures," Woodhouse said.

http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2010/12/101213151405.htm

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xx Re: Stuff & Nonsense
« Reply #2207 on: Dec 14th, 2010, 3:07pm »

cheesy

November 27, 2010

Associated Press

AUGUSTA, Ga. - A U. S. Marine reservist collecting toys
for children was stabbed when he helped stop a suspected
shoplifter in eastern Georgia.

Best Buy sales manager Orvin Smith told The Augusta
Chronicle that man was seen on surveillance cameras
Friday putting a laptop under his jacket at the Augusta
store.

When confronted, the man became irate, knocked down an
employee, pulled a knife and ran toward the door. Outside
were four Marines collecting toys for the service
branch's "Toys For Tots" program.

Smith said the Marines stopped the man, but he stabbed
one of them, Cpl. Phillip Duggan, in the back. The cut
did not appear to be severe.

The suspect, whose name was not released, was held until
police arrived. The Richmond County Sheriff's office said
it is investigating.

The suspect was transported to the local hospital with
two broken arms, a broken leg, possible broken ribs,
assorted lacerations and bruises he obtained when he fell
trying to run after stabbing the Marine.

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xx Re: Stuff & Nonsense
« Reply #2208 on: Dec 14th, 2010, 4:47pm »

on Dec 14th, 2010, 3:07pm, Swamprat wrote:
cheesy

November 27, 2010

Associated Press

AUGUSTA, Ga. - A U. S. Marine reservist collecting toys
for children was stabbed when he helped stop a suspected
shoplifter in eastern Georgia.

Best Buy sales manager Orvin Smith told The Augusta
Chronicle that man was seen on surveillance cameras
Friday putting a laptop under his jacket at the Augusta
store.

When confronted, the man became irate, knocked down an
employee, pulled a knife and ran toward the door. Outside
were four Marines collecting toys for the service
branch's "Toys For Tots" program.

Smith said the Marines stopped the man, but he stabbed
one of them, Cpl. Phillip Duggan, in the back. The cut
did not appear to be severe.

The suspect, whose name was not released, was held until
police arrived. The Richmond County Sheriff's office said
it is investigating.

The suspect was transported to the local hospital with
two broken arms, a broken leg, possible broken ribs,
assorted lacerations and bruises he obtained when he fell
trying to run after stabbing the Marine.

cool


He's lucky he didn't fall a couple of more times!!!!!!!!!!!

Hey Swamp!

Have you seen the movie "Taking Chance" starring Kevin Bacon? Based on a true story. Kevin Bacon does a spectacular job in this film (Chance was 19 when he died):

"Taking Chance tells the true story of Lt. Col Michael Strobl escorting the remains of Lance Corporal Chance Phelps. Phelps was killed in Al Anbar Province, Iraq on April 9, 2004, for his heroic sacrifice he was awarded the Bronze Star with Combat Distinguishing Device.

Strobl escorted Phelps from Dover Air Force Base to their hometown of Dubois, Wyoming. Strobl documented the outpouring of respect and support that strangers paid to the remains of Chance Phelps during his journey in a journal. The journey became a "life altering" event in the life of Michael Strobl. His journal became the basis for the film."

The film was directed by Ross Katz and stars Kevin Bacon as LtCol Michael Strobl."


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Lance Corporal Chance Phelps


http://www.hbo.com/movies/taking-chance/index.html#/movies/taking-chance/index.html





~

You might like it Swampy.

Crystal

edit: forgot to close the quote
« Last Edit: Dec 14th, 2010, 4:56pm by WingsofCrystal » User IP Logged

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xx Re: Stuff & Nonsense
« Reply #2209 on: Dec 14th, 2010, 5:16pm »

Thanks, Crystal! I haven't seen it; I'll have to look for it!

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xx Re: Stuff & Nonsense
« Reply #2210 on: Dec 14th, 2010, 6:01pm »

on Dec 14th, 2010, 5:16pm, Swamprat wrote:
Thanks, Crystal! I haven't seen it; I'll have to look for it!

Swamp


It came out in 2009. It shows that our troops are in our thoughts always. Even if we don't talk about it.
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« Reply #2211 on: Dec 14th, 2010, 6:03pm »





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« Reply #2212 on: Dec 14th, 2010, 6:09pm »















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« Reply #2213 on: Dec 15th, 2010, 07:52am »

Oregon Live

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City block collapses in Astoria
Published: Monday, December 13, 2010, 12:23 PM Updated: Monday, December 13, 2010, 9:16 PM
The Associated Press


ASTORIA -- A vacant city block in downtown Astoria has collapsed after heavy weekend rain.

No injuries were reported.

The Daily Astorian reports that City Manager Paul Benoit believes the collapse may be related to a depression in the concrete where rainwater pooled.

The block behind the American Legion building has caused concern in the past.

Astoria Mayor Willis Van Dusen said city workers quickly put up a fence around the collapsed area after they spotted it Monday morning.

The mayor says he's waiting for a report by the city manager.

http://www.oregonlive.com/pacific-northwest-news/index.ssf/2010/12/city_block_collapses_in_astoria.html

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« Reply #2214 on: Dec 15th, 2010, 07:54am »

New York Times

December 15, 2010
U.S. Called Vulnerable to Rare Earth Shortages
By KEITH BRADSHER

HONG KONG — The United States is too reliant on China for minerals crucial to new clean energy technologies, making the American economy vulnerable to shortages of materials needed for a range of green products — from compact fluorescent light bulbs to electric cars to giant wind turbines.

So warns a detailed report to be released on Wednesday morning by the United States Energy Department. The report, which predicts that it could take 15 years to break American dependence on Chinese supplies, calls for the nation to increase research and expand diplomatic contacts to find alternative sources, and to develop ways to recycle the minerals or replace them with other materials.

At least 96 percent of the most crucial types of the so-called rare earth minerals are now produced in China, and Beijing has wielded various export controls to limit the minerals’ supply to other countries while favoring its own manufacturers that use them.

“The availability of a number of these materials is at risk due to their location, vulnerability to supply disruptions and lack of suitable substitutes,” the report says, which also mentions some concerns about a few other minerals imported from elsewhere, such as cobalt from the Congo.

The Energy Department report is being released the same morning that cabinet officials from China and the United States will meet in Washington to discuss economic and commercial issues.

While no detailed agenda has been released, the talks are expected to include American objections to China’s tightening restrictions on rare earth exports — like a two-month halt this autumn on shipments to Japan, and a shorter-lived slowdown of exports to the United States and Europe.

And on Tuesday, China’s finance ministry announced on its Web site, and the official Xinhua news agency later reported as well, that China plans to increase its export taxes on some rare earths next year. The ministry did not say how much the taxes would increase. Although World Trade Organization rules ban export taxes, China has imposed them on rare earths for the last four years.

David Sandalow, the assistant secretary of energy for policy and international affairs, who oversaw preparation of the Energy Department report, said in a telephone interview that the timing of the report’s release and the American-China cabinet meetings was coincidental.

But the report reflects an emerging view within the American government that domestic sources of rare earths are needed, in addition to suppliers in many other countries, to ensure the viability of clean energy manufacturing in the United States.

“We can build a new industry and put our clean energy future on a sound footing, creating many new jobs in the process,” Mr. Sandalow said.

Still, the report presents a fairly gloomy assessment of the United States’ ability to wean itself from Chinese imports. For as long as the next 15 years, the supplies of at least five minerals that come almost exclusively from China will remain as vulnerable to disruption as they are absolutely vital to the manufacture of small yet powerful electric motors, energy-efficient compact fluorescent bulbs and other clean energy technologies, the report said.

The five minerals are medium and heavy rare earth elements of which China mines an estimated 96 percent to 99.8 percent of the world’s supply: dysprosium, terbium, neodymium, europium and yttrium.

China also increasingly dominates the manufacture of clean energy technologies that require such minerals, including the production of million-dollar wind turbines. Chinese export restrictions have added up to $40 a pound to world prices, which makes a big difference particularly for some of the less expensive rare earths, like lanthanum, that sell for several dollars a pound in China.

That is among the reasons, along with cheap labor and extensive Chinese government subsidies, that many clean energy manufacturers have found it cheaper to shift production to China.

Mr. Sandalow said that wind turbine manufacturers were capable of building very large turbines without rare earths. But using rare earths could reduce the per megawatt cost of wind energy and improve its competitiveness through savings on other materials, like steel and copper.

He cautioned that the United States had been putting far fewer resources than China into exploring ways to use the powerful magnetic and other properties of rare earths.

“There are thousands of rare earth researchers in China and dozens in the United States, and that underscores both the challenge and the opportunity,” he said. “Their expertise in this area is significant.”

China’s finance ministry, in announcing plans to raise export taxes on some rare earths, did not indicate which minerals might be affected.

Since 2006, China has imposed an export tax of 15 percent on light rare earths like lanthanum and cerium, which are needed for oil refining and glass manufacturing, and 25 percent on heavy rare earths like dysprosium and terbium.

China mines about 92 percent of the world’s light rare earths.

more after the jump
http://www.nytimes.com/2010/12/15/business/global/15rare.html?_r=1&hp

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« Reply #2215 on: Dec 15th, 2010, 08:00am »

Telegraph

Yale's Top 10 quotes of the year
15 Dec 2010


1. "I'm not a witch"

Christine O'Donnell, the Republican candidate for the US Senate and Tea Party favourite in a campaign ad.


2. "I'd like my life back."

BP CEO Tony Hayward, comment to reporters, May 30


3. "If you touch my junk, I'm gonna have you arrested."

Airline passenger John Tyner to a Transportation Security Administration worker at San Diego airport, November 13, 2010


4. "Don't retreat. Instead -- reload!"

Sarah Palin, Twitter, March 23


5. "Chi! Chi! Chi! Le! Le! Le! Los mineros de Chile!"

Chilean miners being rescued, emerging from their underground prison, October 13


6. "I hope that's not where we're going, but you know, if this Congress keeps going the way it is, people are really looking toward those Second Amendment remedies. They're saying: My goodness, what can we do to turn this country around?"

Sharron Angle, who ran unsuccessfully in the 2010 midtermsradio interview, January


7. "We have to pass the (health care) bill so you can find out what is in it."

Nancy Pelosi, the outgoing speaker of the US House of Representatives speech to National Association of Counties, March 9


8. "I'm going to take my talents to South Beach."

Basketball star LeBron James, who upset his hometown team, the Cleveland Cavaliers, to join the Miami Heat, during a TV broadcast, July 8


9. "You're telling me that the separation of church and state is found in the First Amendment?"

Christine O'Donnell... again, this time in a debate ahead of her election race in Connecticut, October 19


10. "They should never have put me with that woman. ... She was just a sort of bigoted woman who said she used to be Labour."

Gordon Brown, moments after meeting Gillian Duffy, a 66-year-old widow who told him she was concerned about immigration from Eastern Europe.

http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/worldnews/northamerica/usa/8202048/Yales-Top-10-quotes-of-the-year-list.html

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« Reply #2216 on: Dec 15th, 2010, 08:05am »

Wired

Air Force Is Through With Predator Drones
By Spencer Ackerman
December 14, 2010 | 5:24 pm
Categories: Drones


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Photo: U.S. Air Force


Wave a tear-stained handkerchief for the drone that changed the face of air war: The Air Force won’t buy any more Predators. The Reaper drone is about to be in full effect.

This year, the Air Force completed its scheduled purchase of 268 Predators from manufacturer General Atomics, somewhat behind a schedule the service announced in 2008. By “early 2011,” says Lt. Col. Richard Johnson, an Air Force spokesman, “we’re taking delivery of our last Predator.”

February, to be exact, according to Kimberly Kasitz, a General Atomics spokeswoman. “We’ve actually had a couple of internal celebrations,” she says.

That doesn’t mean the end for the Predator, exactly, since the Air Force will continue to fly the planes it’s bought. But it does mean the beginning of the end. “We’re not replacing the Predator with the Reaper,” Johnson says, “but as the [Predator] fleet diminishes by attrition, we’ll phase in the Reaper.”

Ah, the Predator: Flying at up to 25,000 feet for around 20 hours at a time, the drone was supposed to be a pure surveillance aircraft. But starting in late 2000, the Clinton and Bush administrations decided to outfit the Predator with Hellfire missiles to reduce the lag time between identifying Osama bin Laden in Afghanistan and attempting to take him out. Bureaucratic wrangling delayed the armament, but in November 2002, a CIA-operated armed Predator blew up a Jeep carrying some of bin Laden’s acolytes. The age of the Predator — an age of remotely piloted air war — had begun.

Unlike the Predator, the Reaper is no accidental warrior. Also built by General Atomics, it flies twice as fast (150-170 knots cruising, 260 max), at higher altitudes (around 50,000 feet), and carries ten times the payload (over 2 tons) as the Predator. That allows it to strap on the AGM-114 Hellfire missiles, as well as GBU-12 and GBU-38 precision bombs. And as a surveillance aircraft, it’s got more electrical power than the Predator, which means “we can integrate new or improved sensors on the aircraft,” Johnson says.

The Reaper came into use in 2007. So far, the Air Force owns 57 of the drones and plans to buy another 272, for a total buy of 329 planes — the pace of which will be determined by congressional moneymen. Many of the drones are already in Afghanistan. Air Force officers pilot them from Creech Air Force Base in Nevada.

Of course, the Air Force isn’t the only U.S. operation that flies armed drones. The CIA operates an unacknowledged drone program over the Pakistani tribal areas (and, possibly, in Yemen soon). The Air Force is widely believed to supply the CIA with its drones. If so — the CIA declined comment for this post — a phase-out of the Predator and phase-in of the Reaper will mean an eventual upgrade for a drone program that’s already fired off 108 strikes in the last year.

And it’s the lethality of that program that’s gotten other countries wanting the same weapons. WikiLeaks exposed U.S. allies like the United Arab Emirates and Turkey champing at the bit to buy armed Reapers from the U.S. almost as soon as the Predator upgrade came online. Armed drone sales to non-NATO allies are probably still years off, but in July, General Atomics got State Department approval to sell the unarmed version of the Predator as surveillance aircraft to non-NATO countries like Pakistan, Egypt and the UAE.

And that’s just the beginning. China, Iran and Israel are just some of the countries that have their own indigenous drone programs. The Reaper is already getting an upgrade: in July, General Atomics rolled out its post-Reaper drone, the faster, stealthier Avenger. Even as the Reaper takes over for the Predator in the U.S., the global proliferation of drone technology is the pathbreaking plane’s real legacy.

http://www.wired.com/dangerroom/2010/12/air-force-is-through-with-predator-drones/

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« Reply #2217 on: Dec 15th, 2010, 08:08am »

Defense News

S. Korean Army Chief Quits Amid Tensions
By NAM YOU-SUN, AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE
Published: 14 Dec 2010 09:27

SEOUL - South Korea's army chief resigned Dec. 14, reportedly over a property investment, at a time of high tensions with North Korea after its deadly artillery attack in November.

A defense ministry spokesman told AFP that General Hwang Eui-Don's resignation had been accepted but gave no details.

Yonhap news agency said the general, who was named to his current post in June, had become embroiled in a controversy over profits from a property investment.

"General Hwang offered to retire following media reports about his property investment, because he judged it was inappropriate for him to stay in the post at a time when he has to lead reform of the army," it quoted an unidentified defense ministry official as saying.

The resignation is a further blow to the South's military, which was widely criticized for its perceived feeble response to the North's bombardment of an island near the disputed Yellow Sea border on Nov. 23.

Defense Minister Kim Tae-Young resigned after the shelling, which killed four people including two civilians. It was the first attack on a civilian area in the South since the 1950-53 war and sparked a regional crisis.

The South fired 80 artillery rounds at the North's artillery batteries in response but did not call in airstrikes. The military has said it will use air power next time.

The bombardment was launched less than two weeks after the North disclosed an apparently operational uranium enrichment plant to visiting U.S. experts.

It said the operation was intended to fuel a nuclear power plant. But senior U.S. and other officials fear it could be reconfigured to produce weapons-grade uranium, to augment the North's plutonium stockpile.

Russia's Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov, at a meeting Dec. 13 with his visiting North Korean counterpart Pak Ui-Chun, expressed his "deep concern" about the industrial uranium enrichment capability, Moscow's foreign ministry said.

Lavrov urged North Korea to comply with U.N. Security Council resolutions banning such activities, and called for a resumption of six-party talks aimed at negotiating an end to the North's nuclear programmes.

Russia is one of the six countries involved in the stalled talks alongside the two Koreas, China, Japan and the United States.

China, the North's sole major ally, has called for a new meeting of six-party envoys to resolve the latest crisis.

But the United States, Japan and South Korea say a return to negotiations at this point could reward the North's aggression.

They want China, which has failed publicly to condemn its ally for the island attack, to take a tougher line. U.S. Deputy Secretary of State James Steinberg is to visit Beijing this week to press for stronger action.

As part of a flurry of regional diplomacy, South Korea's chief nuclear envoy Wi Sung-Lac left Tuesday for talks with his Russian counterpart Alexei Borodavkin on the shelling and the uranium program.

And New Mexico Gov. Bill Richardson will visit North Korea from Dec. 16-20, on what is billed as a private trip, to try to calm tensions.

The North, for its part, repeated assertions that its new program is peaceful.

"The business of peacefully developing nuclear energy and using it is happening in our country, in line with the international trend," said ruling communist party newspaper Rodong Sinmun Dec. 14.

"Peaceful nuclear activity is a sovereign right of all nations."

Former White House National Security Council official Victor Cha urged Washington seriously to consider an increase in the 28,500 troops it stations in South Korea.

"Even a symbolic increase in that troop presence will send a very clear message to North Korea and to China that there are real costs to continued North Korean provocations," Yonhap quoted him as telling a Seoul forum.

http://www.defensenews.com/story.php?i=5232498&c=ASI&s=TOP

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« Reply #2218 on: Dec 15th, 2010, 08:11am »

LA Times

Church affirms Virgin Mary apparition in Wisconsin
Over 150 years ago, a Belgian immigrant woman saw a vision and built a shrine.
Believers have reported healings and answered prayers. A Catholic decree declares the site 'worthy of belief.'

By Rick Rojas, Los Angeles Times
December 15, 2010


Amid a patchwork of Wisconsin farmland half an hour's drive northeast of Green Bay is a modest shrine with a brick chapel, a school and a flow of pilgrims speaking of profound healing power.

The power is said to come from the Virgin Mary, who appeared to a Belgian immigrant 151 years ago where the shrine now stands. But all believers had to show for it were years of anecdotes — and the canes, wheelchairs and crutches left behind in the chapel's crypt by those who claimed they had been healed.

Now, the Roman Catholic Church has issued a decree: The apparition in 1859 was authentic.

Or as the Most Rev. David Laurin Ricken, bishop of the Diocese of Green Bay, said last week, the Shrine of Our Lady of Good Help is "worthy of belief."

With the bishop's approval, the landmark known mostly by locals has been elevated to the level of Marian apparitions in Mexico City, Fatima in Portugal, and Lourdes in France.

It is the first of its kind in the United States.

"This is an affirmation of the spiritual fruits the people of God have received for 151 years," Father John Doefler, the shrine's rector and the vicar general and chancellor of the diocese, said of the bishop's decree. "It opens the door for future spiritual growth."

The process to verify the apparition began in January 2009, when Ricken began an investigation. The diocese commissioned theologians to pore over the journals of the young woman who claimed to have been visited by Mary, as well as other records and accounts.

The researchers examined the woman's character and psychological health, and found that reported occurrences at the shrine, such as the healings, were in line with the teachings of the church.

Church declarations of Marian apparitions are a rarity, said Father Thomas Rausch, a professor of theology at Loyola Marymount University in Los Angeles. With so many sightings reported — including some that may be happenstance, like Mary's face on a tortilla — the church handles such decisions carefully.

"Most Catholics are skeptical," he said, "so the church is reluctant."

There are only about a dozen church-confirmed Marian apparitions worldwide. In one case, a vision in Akita, Japan, was certified in 1988 by Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger, now Pope Benedict XVI, when he oversaw the Vatican office charged with preserving church doctrine.

Yet since 1900 alone, hundreds of sightings have been reported. In most cases, the church has not decided whether they are worthy of belief, according to the International Marian Research Institute at the University of Dayton in Ohio.

The church has resisted offering such decrees in recent years. The Bosnia-Herzegovina village of Medjugorje, where several young people claim to have seen the Virgin Mary multiple times since 1981, has drawn masses of pilgrims over the years. Still, the church has fended off calls to certify the apparition.

In Wisconsin, though, the bishop's decree means "the evidence of this is worthy of belief, but we can't be absolutely sure," Rausch said. Ricken must have "good evidence, or else he wouldn't make this declaration," he said.

In what is now just outside the small town of Champion, the church says, Adele Brise, a 28-year-old Belgian immigrant who had lost an eye in a childhood accident, was visited three times in October 1859 by the vision of a woman in white. In the third vision, as Brise carried grain to a mill, the woman identified herself as Mary.

The church said the vision hovered above the ground, cast in a bright light, and offered a mission to Brise: "I am the queen of heaven who prays for the conversion of sinners, and I wish you to do the same. You received the Holy Communion this morning and that is well. But you must do more."

The church said the Virgin Mary instructed Brise to spread Catholicism and pray for strengthening the faith of believers. After the command, Brise became a nun and helped to build a church in that space, along with a school.

The chapel and school still stand, which in itself could be considered miraculous. One of the largest recorded forest fires in history, the Peshtigo fire of 1871, raged through Wisconsin and Michigan, coincidentally at the same time as the Great Chicago Fire. Brise gathered a group at the shrine, and they prayed to Our Lady of Good Help for protection, the church said.

The fire burned through the fields and forests around them, but the blaze stopped as it reached the perimeter of the shrine.

Brise died in July 1896, and was buried near the chapel.

Bishop Ricken said the moral fiber Brise demonstrated throughout her life was the leading factor in his decision. "There is nothing in the person and character of Adele Brise that would question the veracity of the substance of her account," he said in the decree.

The shrine has built a reputation as a sacred place, attracting the sick and the troubled with prayers. Doefler said there were seemingly endless stories of terminal ailments disappearing and longstanding feuds and family struggles evaporating.

Its healing powers are what Michael Lee and his family believe cured his brother of a brain tumor more than 50 years ago. The boy couldn't walk because the tumor had taken away his balance.

Lee's parents drove to the Shrine of Our Lady of Good Help and, for nine days, walked on their knees around the altar of the shrine, petitioning for their son's tumor to heal.

A few days after their return, Lee said, his brother's balance returned. He could walk again.

His doctor was dumbfounded by what medical tests revealed: The tumor was gone. Lee said the doctor wrote to the bishop at the time, calling the recovery "medically unexplainable."

Lee, 58, who works as a lay minister at a parish in Green Bay, said the simple shrine held significance to his family.

"It was always there in the back of our mind, that if anything serious or important came up, that was a resource," Lee said. "It gives you this deep sense of hope. Even if the physical thing you came there wanting healed isn't. There is this feeling that there is something greater than us that gives, cares and loves."

http://www.latimes.com/news/nationworld/nation/la-na-virgin-mary-20101215,0,4533596.story

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xx Re: Stuff & Nonsense
« Reply #2219 on: Dec 15th, 2010, 08:18am »

on Dec 15th, 2010, 08:00am, WingsofCrystal wrote:
9. "You're telling me that the separation of church and state is found in the First Amendment?"

Christine O'Donnell... again, this time in a debate ahead of her election race in Connecticut, October 19



O'Donnell was correct....that language is not found in the first amendment.


Quote:
The phrase separation of church and state (sometimes "wall of separation between church and state") describes[citation needed]a legal and political principle embedded in the Constitution of the United States. The First Amendment reads "Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof ....", while Article VI specifies that "no religious Test shall ever be required as a Qualification to any Office or public Trust under the United States." The modern concept of a wholly secular government is sometimes credited to the writings of English philosopher John Locke, but the phrase "separation of church and state" in this context is generally traced to an 1802 letter by Thomas Jefferson, addressed to the Danbury, Connecticut, Baptist Association, and published in a Massachusetts newspaper.


http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Separation_of_church_and_state_in_the_United_States
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