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 veryhotthread  Author  Topic: Stuff & Nonsense  (Read 12363 times)
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« Reply #2490 on: Jan 5th, 2011, 3:42pm »

Nice article! Thanks Swamp.
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« Reply #2491 on: Jan 5th, 2011, 7:19pm »

You know what? It's a new year, and they're still not all home.

Time for a repeat.....

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« Reply #2492 on: Jan 5th, 2011, 8:20pm »






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« Reply #2493 on: Jan 5th, 2011, 8:56pm »

National Post


Map: From fish to birds, the week in dead animals
Andrew Barr
January 5, 2011 – 11:24 am

From dead fish in Arkansas to deceased jackdaws in Sweden, there’s been a spate of stories this week about mass animal deaths. Below, the incidents, mapped:



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http://news.nationalpost.com/2011/01/05/map-from-fish-to-birds-the-week-in-dead-animals/#ixzz1ADhXYCqg

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« Reply #2494 on: Jan 6th, 2011, 08:04am »

New York Times

January 5, 2011
Exhibitor of Bodies Intends to Contribute His Own
By STEVEN ERLANGER

PARIS — Gunther von Hagens says he is dying, and he wants to put his preserved corpse on display as part of his popular “Body Worlds” exhibitions.

Mr. Hagens is the anatomist and artist who invented a process that infuses body parts with synthetic resin, the basis of the touring exhibitions of skinless bodies in lifelike poses or dissected, their muscles, nerves and tendons revealed in morbid detail. Other animals are also plastinated, including a giraffe that reportedly took three years to process. Mr. Hagens’s shows have drawn more than 20 million viewers and pulled in more than $200 million.

But Mr. Hagens, who turns 66 on Jan. 10, has told the German tabloid Bild that he is suffering from Parkinson’s disease and that his wife “will plastinate my body,” and “my plastinated corpse will then stand in a welcoming pose at the entrance of my exhibition.”

A man who has always loved publicity and controversy, Mr. Hagens gave no indication of how long he expected to live, but typically patients with Parkinson’s, a degenerative disorder of the central nervous system, live for years after a diagnosis.

Born Gunther Liebchen in a part of Germany that is now in Poland, he grew up in East Germany. He managed to get to the West and got a doctorate in 1975 from the University of Heidelberg.

In 2002, Mr. Hagens — who is also a medical doctor — performed a public autopsy in a London theater before a paying audience of some 500 people, an event that was also televised. But despite advance warnings that he was breaking 19th-century laws requiring special licenses for public dissection, the police did not arrest him. In 2009, in Berlin, he drew criticism by showing plastinated corpses in sexual congress.

In Germany he is sometimes called Dr. Tod, or Dr. Death.

http://www.nytimes.com/2011/01/06/world/europe/06corpses.html?ref=world

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« Reply #2495 on: Jan 6th, 2011, 08:06am »

New York Times

January 5, 2011
Red Rocks of Nevada Smudged by Less Colorful Graffiti
By JENNIFER MEDINA

RED ROCK CANYON, Nev. — The jagged pink mountains here glitter, rare instances of natural beauty in a desolate landscape known more for its gleaming casinos. For years, hikers and rock climbers have flocked to Red Rock Canyon for the easily accessible climbs. History seekers come to look at the patch of land where Indian tribes roamed as far back as the 10th century.

Now graffiti vandals have found the place, too.

A hiker recently spotted red scrawls on the rocks a few yards off a popular trail. In letters stretching as high as two feet, the graffiti damaged pictographs that could be more than 1,000 years old.

“This is the most extensive damage we’ve ever seen,” said Mark Boatwright, an archaeologist with the Bureau of Land Management, which runs the National Conservation Area. “We know somebody really went out of their way to make this mess and stayed here doing it for quite a while.”

Just a few years ago, driving here from Las Vegas could take more than half an hour, including detours on dirt roads. These days, the closest cluster of housing is about seven miles away. And increasingly, officials are dealing with the kinds of troubles that were once confined to the city.

Similar problems have popped up in land reserves in other parts of Nevada, Colorado and Arizona, most frequently with graffiti that law enforcement officials suspect is produced by teenagers. In some cases, the police say, gangs may be using the out-of-the-way places for initiations.

So it is here, Mr. Boatwright believes, that members of the self-proclaimed Nasty Habits Crew wanted to mark the territory as their own. Over a stretch of rocks overlooking a cliff, the red and black graffiti advertises the gang’s name.

Even up close it is hard to see exactly what the damaged historical drawings depict — some are simply lines stacked on top of one another. And historians have never been able to pinpoint when they were each created, although one school of thought maintains that some are markers from American pioneers making their way west who were simply trying to carve their name into the rock. But clearly, this was a sought-after spot, reached only by climbing over a series of boulders just off the path.

“It all increased shock value and notoriety, and that’s what these guys are after,” said Scott Black, a detective with the Las Vegas Police Department who specializes in graffiti. “It just makes the crimes more heinous, but they see these high-profile locations as a challenge.”

Last year in Gold Butte, Nev., hikers found what appeared to be a chalk- or rock-drawn penis on a large slab of red rock that is heavily decorated with petroglyphs, ancient pictures made by carving into the surface of the rock.

The population in nearby St. George, Utah, has increased rapidly in recent years. And the growth has brought more off-road vehicles to Gold Butte.

“It’s now this little hub for everyone who wants to have a little wild, off-road adventure,” said Nancy Hall, a volunteer who monitors the Gold Butte area. “With that popularity has come some kind of things that we really don’t want.”

Ms. Hall said there had also been problems with illegal dumping and target shooting; one rock has become riddled with pockmarks from bullets. Similar issues have cropped up at Agua Fria National Monument in central Arizona, where officials routinely find trash or bullet casings in wilderness areas. One official is assigned to cover nearly 70,000 acres of land there, making it almost impossible to catch someone in the act.

“There is a general lack of awareness that these are protected,” said Danielle Murray, a spokesman for the Conservation Lands Foundation, which checks on protected land throughout the country. Most of the areas have relatively little monitoring, unlike more well-worn public spaces like state and national parks. “If something like this happened in a national park like Yosemite, there would be a big outcry from everywhere.”

The proliferation of handheld GPS devices adds to the problem, Ms. Murray said. Not too long ago, it might have taken serious research to hunt down the ancient carvings. Now, it can take a matter of moments.

Certain trails here are particularly popular for school field trips, making it easy for vandals to know which areas are vulnerable. A few years ago another visitor used a rock to scratch off several charcoal drawings that historians believe depicted early Mormon pioneers.

“The park is getting closer and closer to the city,” said Pat Williams, a volunteer with Friends of Red Rock Canyon, which sends monitors to the area. “We want to say, listen we’re glad you love it here, but here’s the correct way to think about this place.”

Bureau of Land Management officials expect that it will cost at least $10,000 to remove the graffiti from the rocks, a process that will take months to avoid damaging the paintings and carvings.

And that includes a remnant of a bit of graffiti that Mr. Boatwright, the archaeologist, believes is left from the 1980s — it has faded to look more like a bleach mark than paint, but just to the right on one rock is a peace sign.

“That we say is historic, a sign of the times they lived in,” he said. “I suppose if you really want to twist it you could say this eventually might be a sign of the times, too.”

http://www.nytimes.com/2011/01/06/us/06rocks.html?ref=us

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« Reply #2496 on: Jan 6th, 2011, 08:10am »

Telegraph

'Systemic failures' to blame for BP Deepwater Horizon spill, US commission finds

Cost-cutting and "systemic failures" by BP and other companies contributed to last year's disastrous Gulf of Mexico oil spill, a damning official inquiry has found.

By Andy Bloxham
6:39AM GMT 06 Jan 2011

A US presidential commission blamed industry failures for last April's rig explosion which killed 11 people and caused one of the worst oil spills in history - also warning they were likely to recur without major reform.

BP, Halliburton and Transocean, the three key companies involved with the Macondo well, made individual decisions that increased risks of a blow-out, but saved significant time or money, the report said.

"Most of the mistakes and oversights at Macondo can be traced back to a single overarching failure - a failure of management," it concluded.

"Better management by BP, Halliburton and Transocean would almost have certainly prevented the blow-out."

The April 20 blast as the Deepwater Horizon rig drilled resulted in the leaking of millions of gallons of oil from the well into the sea before finally being capped in July.

It has cost BP billions of dollars in clean-up costs and compensation, and also led to the departure of the energy giant's British chief executive Tony Hayward, who faces questioning by the UK's Energy and Climate Change Committee today.

The US commission said: "Whether purposeful or not, many of the decisions that BP, Halliburton, and Transocean made that increased the risk of the Macondo blow-out clearly saved those companies significant time (and money).

"BP did not have adequate controls in place to ensure that key decisions in the months leading up to the blow-out were safe or sound from an engineering perspective."

It added: "The blow-out was not the product of a series of abberational decisions made by a rogue industry or government officials that could not have been anticipated or expected to occur again.

"Rather, the root causes are systemic, and absent significant reform in both industry practices and government policies, might well recur."

US President Barack Obama set up the National Commission on the BP Deepwater Horizon Oil Spill and Offshore Drilling in May to investigate the spill and recommend changes to industry and government policy.

The members questioned hundreds of people, reviewed thousands of pages of documents and conducted several public hearings.

Their report found that mistakes and "failures to appreciate risk" compromised safeguards "until the blow-out was inevitable and, at the very end, uncontrollable".

BP's "fundamental mistake" was failing to exercise proper caution over the job of sealing the well with cement, the commission said.

"Based on evidence currently available, there is nothing to suggest that BP's engineering team conducted a formal, disciplined analysis of the combined impact of these risk factors on the prospects for a successful cement job," the report added.

In its central conclusion, the report included a quote from an e-mail written by Brett Cocales, a BP engineer, on April 16, just days before the disaster.

"But, who cares, it's done, end of story, will probably be fine and we'll get a good cement job," Mr Cocales wrote, after he disagreed with BP's decision to use fewer centralisers than recommended. Centralisers are used to centre the pipe to ensure a good cement job. The cement failed at the bottom of the Macondo well, allowing oil and gas to enter it, according to investigations.

BP said the report, like its own investigation, found the accident was the result of multiple causes and involved multiple companies.

The firm added that it was working with regulators "to ensure the lessons learned from Macondo lead to improvements in operations and contractor services in deepwater drilling".

Transocean, which owned the rig being leased by BP to perform the drilling, said in response to the commission's findings that the "the procedures being conducted in the final hours were crafted and directed by BP engineers and approved in advance by federal regulators".

Halliburton, the cement contractor on the well, also said it acted at the direction of BP and was "fully indemnified by BP".

http://www.telegraph.co.uk/earth/energy/oil/8242717/Systemic-failures-to-blame-for-BP-Deepwater-Horizon-spill-US-commission-finds.html

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« Reply #2497 on: Jan 6th, 2011, 08:14am »

Wired Threat Level

WikiLeaks’ Assange Threatened Lawsuit Over Leaked Diplomatic Cables
By Kim Zetter
January 6, 2011 | 12:01 am
Categories: Bradley Manning, WikiLeaks


Just weeks prior to unveiling a giant cache of leaked U.S. State Department cables, WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange threatened to sue the Guardian newspaper in Britain over publication of the documents, according to a fascinating Vanity Fair article: http://www.vanityfair.com/politics/features/2011/02/the-guardian-201102
published Thursday that explores in detail the often rocky relationship between WikiLeaks and the newspapers with which it partnered last year.

After receiving the database of a quarter-million cables from Assange under embargo last August, the Guardian obtained a second copy of the database via a WikiLeaks insider without conditions — which led the newspaper to conclude it was no longer bound by a signed agreement with Assange that it wouldn’t publish the documents until he gave the go-ahead.

Assange, suddenly faced with having lost control of documents that WikiLeaks itself had received from a source, asserted that he owned the information and had a financial interest in how and when it was released, the magazine reports.

Assange was pallid and sweaty, his thin frame racked by a cough that had been plaguing him for weeks. He was also angry, and his message was simple: he would sue the newspaper if it went ahead and published stories based on the quarter of a million documents that he had handed over to The Guardian just three months earlier. . . . Assange’s position was rife with ironies. An unwavering advocate of full, unfettered disclosure of primary-source material, Assange was now seeking to keep highly sensitive information from reaching a broader audience. He had become the victim of his own methods: someone at WikiLeaks, where there was no shortage of disgruntled volunteers, had leaked the last big segment of the documents, and they ended up at The Guardian in such a way that the paper was released from its previous agreement with Assange—that The Guardian would publish its stories only when Assange gave his permission. Enraged that he had lost control, Assange unleashed his threat, arguing that he owned the information and had a financial interest in how and when it was released.

A marathon negotiation ensued between Assange and the Guardian. Some at the Guardian wanted to sever their relationship with Assange entirely, but the two sides managed to reach an uneasy agreement. However, the already precarious relationship never fully recovered from this and other bones of contention, according to writer Sarah Ellison, who also wrote the book War at the Wall Street Journal.

Ellison spoke with editors of the Guardian and the New York Times for her Vanity Fair story, as well as with WikiLeaks insiders to compile a look at how the unprecedented media partnership progressed. [Vanity Fair and Wired.com are both owned by Condé Nast.]

The relationship began when Guardian investigative reporter Nick Davies tracked Assange down last June, about two months after WikiLeaks had published its first significant leak -– a classified video showing a U.S. helicopter shooting and killing civilians in Iraq — and shortly after the arrest of suspected leaker Pfc. Bradley Manning. Davies sought out Assange to propose a partnership with the Guardian to publish other documents Assange might possess. He asked Assange for a description of what kinds of documents he had in his cache.

Assange replied, in his slow baritone, “I have a record of every single episode involving the U.S. military in Afghanistan for the last seven years.” Davies said, “Holy Moly!” Indeed, Assange went on, he had more than that: “I have a record of every single episode involving the U.S. military in Iraq since March 2003.” Assange also made reference to a third cache of documents—diplomatic cables—and to a fourth cache, containing the personal files of all prisoners who had been held at Guantánamo.

The last reference — “the personal files of all prisoners who had been held at Guantánamo” — potentially explains once-puzzling statements made by Manning in his May 2010 chats with Adrian Lamo, the ex-hacker who turned him in.

Manning told Lamo that his leaks to WikiLeaks included something he called the “Gitmo Papers” and “the JTF GTMO papers” — references to Guantánamo. He didn’t specify the nature of the documents, and Lamo appeared to assume Manning was referencing two Guantánamo operation manuals WikiLeaks famously published in 2007.

But those 2007 leaks occurred years before the time Manning claimed to have begun providing material to WikiLeaks. Assange’s statements describing a new and more significant Guantánamo leak could explain what Manning meant by the offhand comments — that he’d leaked the files of Guantánamo prisoners. At the height of its operation, the Guantánamo facility held more than 700 prisoners.

The Vanity Fair article is silent on any plans to publish the Guantánamo files, so it’s not clear if the Guardian brokered a deal with WikiLeaks to publish them, or if WikiLeaks has any plans to release the documents with other media partners or on its own.

Once Assange and Davies came to agreement over the other documents Assange mentioned in their discussion, Assange passed Davies a password he could use to get at the initial trove, the magazine reports.

They agreed that they wouldn’t talk about the project on cell phones. They agreed that, in two days, Assange would send Davies an e-mail with the address of a website that hadn’t previously existed, and that would exist for only an hour or two. Assange took a paper napkin with the hotel’s name and logo and circled various words. At the top he wrote, “no spaces.” By linking the words together, Davies had his password.

It didn’t take long after this exchange for cracks in the relationship to appear, not only between Assange and the media outlets in general but between Assange and Davies personally. The two have both said publicly that they had a fallout and no longer speak to each other, but have never explained the nature of it.

According to Ellison, the dispute involved the first cache of documents the media partners published from a database of some 90,000 events from the Afghan war. The Guardian, the New York Times and Der Speigel all agreed with WikiLeaks they would begin to publish their stories on Sunday, July 25. But on July 24, Davies discovered that Assange had also passed the entire Afghan database to UK’s Channel 4 television network without consulting the newspapers.

“Davies was livid,” Ellison writes. “Assange got on the phone and explained, falsely, according to Davies, that ‘it was always part of the agreement that I would introduce television at this stage.’ Davies and Assange have not spoken since that afternoon.”

The article clears up one other issue as well, regarding public statements Assange made about the diplomatic cables he possessed. The timing of events chronicled in the piece makes clear that while Assange was publicly denying having them, he was privately making plans to publish them with WikiLeaks’ media partners.

Last June, when Threat Level broke the news that Manning had discussed leaking 260,000 U.S. State Department cables to WikiLeaks, the organization issued a denial the same day on Twitter:

“Allegations in Wired that we have been sent 260,000 classified US embassy cables are, as far as we can tell, incorrect,” Assange or someone else connected to the group wrote. The group also tweeted: “If Brad Manning, 22, is the ‘Collateral Murder’ & Garani massacre whistleblower then, without doubt, he’s a national hero.”

Assange repeated the denial at the TEDGlobal conference in Britain in July, after he had already told Davies privately that he possessed a cache of diplomatic cables. When asked by TED curator Chris Anderson (not related to Wired Magazine Editor-in-Chief Chris Anderson) if he possessed the cables (Anderson mistakenly said 280,000 cables instead of 260,000), Assange replied, “Well, we have denied receiving those cables.”

Anderson then started to say, “if you did receive thousands of U.S. embassy diplomatic cables …,” when Assange jumped in and replied, “We would have released them.”

WikiLeaks has since acknowledged it has 251,287 U.S. State Department cables. The organization began to publish them in November with its media partners.

http://www.wired.com/threatlevel/2011/01/vf-wikieaks/

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« Reply #2498 on: Jan 6th, 2011, 08:22am »

Geek Tyrant

7 Films remain in the visual effects Oscar race
5 January 2011
by Venkman

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The Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences has narrowed the films for the Visual Effects category for the 83rd Academy Awards down to seven movies, and here's the list in alphabetical order:

Alice in Wonderland

Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part 1

Hereafter

Inception

Iron Man 2

Scott Pilgrim vs the World

Tron: Legacy


Out of all of these films Tron: Legacy, Inception, Iron Man 2, and Scott Pilgrim are worthy of a nomination. Out of those I think Tron: Legacy or Inception will end up taking home the Oscar. What do you think had the best visual effects of 2010?

From the official Press Release:

All members of the Visual Effects Branch will be invited to view 15-minute excerpts from each of the seven shortlisted films on Thursday, January 20. Following the screenings, the members will vote to nominate five films for final Oscar consideration.

The 83rd Academy Awards nominations will be announced live on Tuesday, January 25, 2011, at 5:30 a.m. PT in the Academy’s Samuel Goldwyn Theater.

Academy Awards for outstanding film achievements of 2010 will be presented on Sunday, February 27, 2011, at the Kodak Theatre at Hollywood & Highland Center®, and televised live by the ABC Television Network. The Oscar presentation also will be televised live in more than 200 countries worldwide.

http://geektyrant.com/news/2011/1/5/7-films-remain-in-the-visual-effects-oscar-race.html

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« Reply #2499 on: Jan 6th, 2011, 09:10am »

Wall Street Journal

WORLD NEWS
JANUARY 4, 2011.

U.S. Boosts Afghan Surge
Pentagon Plans to Send 1,400 Extra Marines to Supplement Spring Campaign
By ADAM ENTOUS And JULIAN E. BARNES

WASHINGTON—Defense Secretary Robert Gates has decided to send an additional 1,400 Marine combat forces to Afghanistan, officials said, in a surprise move ahead of the spring fighting season to try to cement tentative security gains before White House-mandated troop reductions begin in July.

The Marine battalion could start arriving on the ground as early as mid-January. The forces would mostly be deployed in the south, around Kandahar, where the U.S. has concentrated troops over the past several months.

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Commanders in Afghanistan and advocates of the strategy in Washington say temporarily adding front-line forces could help counter an anticipated spring offensive by Taliban militants returning from havens in neighboring Pakistan.

Commanders are examining other proposals to temporarily boost the number of combat troops in Afghanistan in addition to the Marines authorized Wednesday. If the plans are approved, the front-line fighting force could be increased in total by as many as 3,000 troops.

U.S. commanders in Afghanistan face intense pressure to show sustainable security gains in the first half of 2011. Military officials fear an upswing in attacks by the Taliban in the spring could convince the White House that the Pentagon's war strategy is flawed and that the troop pullout—the details of which have yet to be ironed out—should be accelerated.

President Barack Obama last month said the war strategy was on the right track, but voiced caution about sustaining the gains for the longer-term.

"The rationale is to take advantage of the gains we have made over the last several months and apply more pressure on the enemy at a time when he is already under the gun," Pentagon Press Secretary Geoff Morrell said.

Some Democrats in Congress are likely to question the decision to boost U.S. combat strength, even temporarily, at a time when the U.S. and its allies are preparing withdrawals, a senior congressional aide said.

No congressional approval would be required for the new boost in combat troops, but congressional support is important for Pentagon leaders and commanders who want lawmakers to stand by the strategy.

The additional Marine deployment could push the total surge troops in Afghanistan beyond the 30,000 announced by Mr. Obama in December 2009. At the time, Mr. Obama gave Mr. Gates authority to add an extra 10%—or 3,000 more troops—to respond to unforeseen contingencies.

The Pentagon initially said it intended to use the 10% reserve to rush support units, such as medical or roadside bomb-removal teams, into the war zone if needed. The reserve has, however, been tapped to fill other military needs, including trainers for Afghan security forces. Officials estimate that up to 2,000 of the 3,000 reserve slots have been deployed, but the numbers fluctuate frequently.

In addition to the 1,400 Marines being sent, officials are looking at changing the mix of forces in Afghanistan, replacing some support units with additional combat forces. A senior defense official said commanders in Afghanistan have been evaluating which support units are no longer needed.

A further boost could come in April and May by introducing new units a few weeks earlier than planned, allowing them to overlap longer with outgoing units. Commanders could also structure new deployments to get frontline troops in place more quickly.

Officials said the new deployments wouldn't raise the number of new combat troops above the total authorized by the president.

There are now 97,000 American personnel in Afghanistan. It is unclear precisely how many take direct part in combat operations. Top commanders have long sought to reduce the number of logisticians and support staff, and increase the number of frontline troops who leave their bases on missions.

The U.S.-led coalition in Afghanistan, known as the International Security Assistance Force, declined to discuss "predecisional operational plans and concepts," said Rear Adm. Vic Beck, an ISAF spokesman.

Fighting intensifies every year in Afghanistan when the snow melts in the mountain passages, allowing fighters to flow back into Afghanistan from Pakistan.

In a strategy review released in December, the White House said the Taliban's momentum has been arrested in much of Afghanistan, but warned those gains could be reversed, citing the threat posed by militants crossing the border from Pakistan.

Senior defense officials hope to build on what they see as recent military gains in clearing Taliban insurgents out of their southern strongholds, with the goal of exhausting the insurgents and forcing at least some of the movement's leaders to the negotiating table.

Come June, a senior U.S. official said, commanders should be able to assess the extent to which U.S.-led offensives over the past year have weakened the Taliban, or whether the insurgency is bouncing back.

Officials said nearly all the proposed additional troops would be frontline infantrymen who could immediately begin patrolling population centers and remote villages to keep the Taliban at bay. Such a deployment could double U.S. combat capabilities in and around Kandahar, the senior U.S. official said.

Preventing Taliban militants from reasserting themselves in the city where the hard-line movement was born is a top American priority. Most of the U.S. surge forces have been deployed to Kandahar and neighboring Helmand province.

The troop boost could also buy additional time for training Afghan security forces, which are slated to take over national security from foreign forces by the end of 2014.

The plan could meet resistance within Mr. Obama's Democratic Party. Key Democrats, who controlled the House in the last Congress, had pushed Mr. Obama to begin withdrawing troops, and supported the July deadline.

Republicans, who now hold a majority in the House, may be more supportive, officials said. Republicans have criticized Mr. Obama's withdrawal deadline, arguing that commanders should get the resources they need to succeed and shouldn't be boxed in by artificial time lines.

Anthony Cordesman, a defense analyst at the bipartisan Center for Strategic and International Studies in Washington, said it was unclear what impact, if any, a temporary increase in combat power would have on the overall military campaign as long as the havens in Pakistan remain open to the Taliban.

"If the enemy simply chooses to hunker down, ride out, adapt the kinds of tactics that other guerrilla movements have used under acute pressure…you don't win the war—all you do is basically create a battle of attrition," he said.

Some officials have voiced concerns about the military's ability to maintain control of areas cleared of Taliban, citing the group's ability to replace leaders killed or captured in U.S. Special Operations raids.

"As much as we are hammering them in the south and east, their numbers aren't dwindling. They have so many young men who are disenfranchised, who have nothing better to do," the senior U.S. official said.

Defense officials in Washington and commanders in southern Afghanistan have offered the White House a more upbeat assessment, pointing to military gains, including routing the Taliban from districts surrounding Kandahar, as well as recent deals with local tribes to keep the Taliban out of their areas.

Some American officials believe sustained military pressure could open divisions within the movement or force the group to shift away from a strategy that precludes negotiations with the government of Afghanistan.

—Matthew Rosenberg contributed to this article.


http://online.wsj.com/article/SB10001424052748703675904576064021086613148.html?mod=e2tw

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« Reply #2500 on: Jan 6th, 2011, 1:04pm »






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« Reply #2501 on: Jan 6th, 2011, 3:17pm »

Homeless man stuns with golden voice

http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/21134540/vp/40923356#40923356

Heard that he allegedly already got a job. That's great! He's kinda sympathetic.
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« Reply #2502 on: Jan 6th, 2011, 3:20pm »

on Jan 6th, 2011, 3:17pm, philliman wrote:
Homeless man stuns with golden voice

http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/21134540/vp/40923356#40923356

Heard that he allegedly already got a job. That's great! He's kinda sympathetic.



Hey Phil,

He was on the Today show this morning. He has work and looks fantastic.

Crystal
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« Reply #2503 on: Jan 6th, 2011, 5:50pm »




Please be an angel




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« Reply #2504 on: Jan 7th, 2011, 08:31am »

New York Times

January 6, 2011
U.S. Sends Warning to People Named in Cable Leaks
By MARK LANDLER and SCOTT SHANE

WASHINGTON — The State Department is warning hundreds of human rights activists, foreign government officials and businesspeople identified in leaked diplomatic cables of potential threats to their safety and has moved a handful of them to safer locations, administration officials said Thursday.

The operation, which involves a team of 30 in Washington and embassies from Afghanistan to Zimbabwe, reflects the administration’s fear that the disclosure of cables obtained by the organization WikiLeaks has damaged American interests by exposing foreigners who supply valuable information to the United States.

Administration officials said they were not aware of anyone who has been attacked or imprisoned as a direct result of information in the 2,700 cables that have been made public to date by WikiLeaks, The New York Times and several other publications, many with some names removed. But they caution that many dissidents are under constant harassment from their governments, so it is difficult to be certain of the cause of actions against them.

The officials declined to discuss details about people contacted by the State Department in recent weeks, saying only that a few were relocated within their home countries and that a few others were moved abroad.

The State Department is mainly concerned about the cables that have yet to be published or posted on Web sites — nearly 99 percent of the archive of 251,287 cables obtained by WikiLeaks. With cables continuing to trickle out, they said, protecting those identified will be a complex, delicate and long-term undertaking. The State Department said it had combed through a majority of the quarter-million cables and distributed many to embassies for review by diplomats there.

“We feel responsible for doing everything possible to protect these people,” said Michael H. Posner, the assistant secretary of state for democracy, human rights and labor, who is overseeing the effort. “We’re taking it extremely seriously.”

Contrary to the administration’s initial fears, the fallout from the cables on the diplomatic corps itself has been manageable. The most visible casualty so far could be Gene A. Cretz, the ambassador to Libya, who was recalled from his post last month after his name appeared on a cable describing peculiar personal habits of the Libyan leader, Col. Muammar el-Qaddafi. While no decision has been made on Mr. Cretz’s future, officials said he was unlikely to return to Tripoli. In addition, one midlevel diplomat has been moved from his post in an undisclosed country.

But other senior diplomats initially considered at risk — for example, the ambassador to Russia, John R. Beyrle, whose name was on cables critical of Prime Minister Vladimir V. Putin — appeared to have weathered the disclosures.

There is anecdotal evidence that the disclosure of the cables has chilled daily contacts between human rights activists and diplomats. An American diplomat in Central Asia said recently that one Iranian contact, who met him on periodic trips outside Iran, told him he would no longer speak to him. Sarah Holewinski, executive director of the Campaign for Innocent Victims in Conflict, said people in Afghanistan and Pakistan had become more reluctant to speak to human rights investigators for fear that what they said might be made public.

WikiLeaks came under fire from human rights organizations last July, after it released a large number of documents about the war in Afghanistan without removing the names of Afghan citizens who had assisted the American military. When it later released documents about the Iraq war, the group stripped names from the documents.

A Pentagon spokesman, Maj. Chris Perrine, said Thursday that the military was not aware of any confirmed case of harm to anyone as a result of being named in the Afghan war documents. But he noted that the Taliban had said it would study the WikiLeaks documents to punish collaborators with the Americans.

State Department officials believe that a wide range of foreigners who have spoken candidly to American diplomats could be at risk if publicly identified. For example, a businessman who spoke about official corruption, a gay person in a society intolerant of homosexuality or a high-ranking government official who criticized his bosses could face severe reprisals, the officials said.

Human rights advocates share the State Department’s concern that many people could be at risk if cables become public without careful redaction. “There are definitely people named in the cables who would be very much endangered,” said Tom Malinowski, Washington director for Human Rights Watch.

In one case, Mr. Malinowski said, the State Department asked Human Rights Watch to inform a person in a Middle Eastern country that his exchanges with American diplomats had been reported in a cable.

In addition to The Times, The Guardian, Le Monde, El País and Der Spiegel have had the entire cable database for several months. The Norwegian newspaper Aftenposten said last month that it had obtained the entire collection, and newspapers in several other countries have obtained a selection of cables relating to their regions.

WikiLeaks’s founder, Julian Assange, has said the group will continue to release additional cables on its own Web site as well, though to date it has moved cautiously and has reproduced the redactions made by newspapers publishing the cables.

Government officials are also worried that foreign intelligence services may be trying to acquire the cable collection, a development that would heighten concerns about the safety of those named in the documents.

For human rights activists in this country, disclosures by WikiLeaks, which was founded in 2006, have been a decidedly mixed development. Amnesty International gave WikiLeaks an award in 2009 for its role in revealing human rights violations in Kenya. Human Rights Watch wrote to President Obama last month to urge the administration not to pursue a prosecution of WikiLeaks or Mr. Assange.

But they are concerned that the cables could inflict their own kind of collateral damage, either by endangering diplomats’ sources or discouraging witnesses and victims of abuses from speaking to foreign supporters.

Sam Zarifi, director of Amnesty International’s operations in Asia, said the cables had provided valuable “empirical information” on abuses in several countries. “This is a new way to distribute information,” Mr. Zarifi said. “We just want to make sure it has the same safeguards as traditional journalism.”

http://www.nytimes.com/2011/01/07/world/07wiki.html?_r=1&hp

Crystal
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