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 veryhotthread  Author  Topic: Stuff & Nonsense  (Read 130277 times)
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« Reply #2505 on: Jan 7th, 2011, 08:33am »

New York Times

January 6, 2011
Iran Detains American Woman as Spy, Reports Say
By WILLIAM YONG and ALAN COWELL

TEHRAN — Two state-controlled media outlets reported Thursday that Iranian authorities had arrested a 55-year-old American woman who entered the country from Armenia for spying, after finding a microphone in her teeth.

The accuracy of the accounts — by the newspaper Iran and the semiofficial Fars news agency — could not immediately be verified, and the Iranian government withheld direct comment. The arrest, if confirmed, would be the fourth of an American accused of spying in Iran’s border areas in less than two years.

The reports identified the woman as Hall Talayan; the Fars report said she was detained a week ago by customs officials at the border town of Nordouz, 370 miles northwest of Tehran. The Iran report said she was trying to enter Iran without a visa.

“The detained American spy told Iranian security officials that she would be killed if Iran extradited her to America,” the Fars report said.

But some people with knowledge of the episode, who requested anonymity because they were not authorized to speak for attribution, said there was another, conflicting, account: that the woman had presented herself as an asylum-seeker. In that version, the woman told the customs officials of the spy tool in her teeth and said that she would be killed if she returned to Armenia.

The Iranian authorities are still holding two United States citizens, Shane M. Bauer and Joshua F. Fattal, both 28, who were arrested in July 2009 while on what was described as a hike in Iraqi Kurdistan, near the Iranian border. A third hiker, Sarah E. Shourd, 32, was freed on bail in September.

In late December, Iran allowed relatives to visit two German journalists who were detained in October as they presumably sought to report on the widely publicized case of an Iranian woman who could be stoned to death for adultery.

There was no immediate comment from Armenian authorities about the latest reports. The Associated Press said the American Embassy in Yerevan, the Armenian capital, was closed for the Armenian Christmas.

Reformist Is Reported Arrested

TEHRAN (Reuters) — A prominent Iranian reformist and former education minister has been arrested, opposition Web sites reported Thursday.

The reformist, Morteza Hajji, was arrested Wednesday night and taken to Evin prison in Tehran, the Web site Saham News reported.

Mr. Hajji is close to former President Mohammad Khatami and served as education minister during Mr. Khatami’s first term as president.


William Yong reported from Tehran, and Alan Cowell from London.

http://www.nytimes.com/2011/01/07/world/middleeast/07iran.html?ref=world

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« Reply #2506 on: Jan 7th, 2011, 08:38am »

Telegraph

'Cats do not talk': kitty litter manufacturer sues rival over TV advert

A cat litter manufacturer is suing a rival for running TV advertisements in which clever and chatty cats reject its product in favour of the competitor's, stating in court papers: "Cats do not talk".

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By Jon Swaine, New York
10:35PM GMT 06 Jan 2011

Church & Dwight has filed a lawsuit in a New York court against Clorox, whose adverts show cats deciding to using its Fresh Step litter instead of Church & Dwight's Super Scoop product.

A voice-over claims cats choose Fresh Step rather than Super Scoop because they are "smart enough to choose the litter with less odours" and "know what they like."

"Fresh Step Scoopable litter with carbon is better at eliminating litter box odours than Arm & Hammer Super Scoop," it adds.

Church & Dwight's lawsuit states: "Cats do not talk and it is widely understood in the scientific community that cat perception of malodor is materially different than human perception.

It argues the Clorox advert gives a "false message" about its product, and that their claim that Fresh Step is "better at eliminating odours" is "literally false".

It said a study that it commissioned, involving 158 cats, found that only six rejected Super Scoop-filled litter boxes "and relieved themselves elsewhere in the home".

Clorox cites a "flawed" rival study, involving eight cats using only two litter boxes, which fails to consider "variable-inter-cat behaviour," such as fear of using the same box as another cat, Church & Dwight claims.

The company is seeking an injunction against the advertisement and unspecified damages. Clorox declined to comment.

http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/worldnews/northamerica/usa/8244757/Cats-do-not-talk-kitty-litter-manufacturer-sues-rival-over-TV-advert.html

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« Reply #2507 on: Jan 7th, 2011, 08:47am »

Wired Danger Room

Killer Drones, Jamming Jets Win Big in New Pentagon Budget
By David Axe
January 6, 2011 | 5:26 pm
Categories: Paper Pushers, Beltway Bandits, Politicians


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Photo: Navy EA-18G Growler


Secretary of Defense Robert Gates’ plan to trim around $100 billion from Pentagon accounts over the next five years — the details of which he announced today — is being billed as a budget cut. Actually, Gates’ latest (and likely last) budget exercise represents a net boost for stuff that flies, swims, crawls and shoots. Especially the things that fly.

New fleets of retooled fighter jets, futuristic bombers, jamming planes, and advanced drones will all take to the skies, if Gates gets his way.

The Navy will get a fresh batch of Boeing-built F/A-18E/F Super Hornets plus structural upgrades to 150 older Hornets that otherwise would start dropping out of the sky. This should help keep carrier decks full while the sea service awaits the 2016 arrival of the “navalized” version of the Joint Strike Fighter.

Plus, the Navy will get cash to accelerate its long-awaited Next-Generation Jammer, a new electronic noisemaker packed into an under-wing pod. The Navy’s new EA-18G Growler jamming planes will use the Next-Generation Jammer to fill enemy radar screens with random radar returns, hopefully disguising the movements of real airplanes as they sneak in to attack. To date, the Growler (pictured) has borrowed old ALQ-99 jammer pods from the EA-6B Prowler it is replacing. Both the ALQ-99 and the Prowler are more than 30 years old.

A new jamming pod might sound like an obscure initiative. It’s not. Recall that, two years ago, U.S. regional commanders urged Gates to cancel the F-22 Raptor fighter so they could afford to buy more Growlers. Turns out, jamming enemy radars is really, really important to U.S. war plans.

Perhaps most importantly, the Navy will now get extra funding for its X-47 killer drone. The first of the Northrop Grumman-made bots is now in California preparing for its first flight. If all goes well, the X-47 could eventually produce a stealthy, long-range, robotic bomber for the Navy’s carriers.

This, too, is a really, really big deal. Before he became Navy undersecretary two years ago, Robert Work advocated more funding in 2007 for the X-47, also known as the Naval Unmanned Combat Air System, or N-UCAS.

“Incorporating N-UCAS into future [carrier air wings] will transform the aircraft carrier … into a global long-range, persistent surveillance-strike system effective across multiple 21st century security challenges,” Work preached. With Gates’ announcement, it’s clear the Pentagon has been converted.

The Air Force will see more money pour into radar upgrades for the 400-strong F-15 fighter force, giving the venerable jet roughly the same “eyes” as the newer, stealthier but less numerous F-22.

At the same time, the air branch will receive more resources to buy and operate MQ-9 Reaper drones. For the first time, Reapers will be funded from the base budget, rather than unpredictable war supplementals.

But the biggest change for the Air Force is the go-ahead to design and build a new, manned bomber. This represents the second attempt in just five years to get a new bomber program off the ground. The previous, “2018 bomber” — named for the year it was supposed to enter service — crashed and burned after the Air Force overloaded it with risky, pricey new gizmos.

The reborn bomber “will be designed and developed using proven technologies, an approach that should make it possible to deliver this capability on schedule and in quantity,” Gates said. That probably means around 100 new planes, appearing in around 15 years.

Even the Army will get new planes and drones from the latest Gates plan. The ground-combat branch will buy more insurgent-tracking MC-12 spy planes plus unmanned helicopters and extra “Gray Eagle” drones modeled on the Air Force’s now-retiring Predator.

If Congress approves all of Gates’ changes — and that’s a big if — a few big programs will go away and command staffs and other overhead will shrink. But air forces — already the source of America’s greatest advantage — will actually grow.


http://www.wired.com/dangerroom/2011/01/killer-drones-jamming-jets-win-big-in-new-pentagon-budget/

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« Reply #2508 on: Jan 7th, 2011, 08:55am »

Hollywood Reporter

Warner Bros. to Handle Worldwide Distribution for 'The Hobbit'
Already handling domestic distribution, company takes international from MGM.

64:58 PM
1/6/2011
by Borys Kit, Pamela McClintock


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UPDATED: Warner Bros. has taken over international theatrical rights to Peter Jackson’s The Hobbit from MGM, as well as video rights. In exchange, the Lion gets the loan money it needs to finance its half of the ambitious two-picture project.

Warners/New Line already owned domestic rights to the Hobbit adaptation, so they will now be able to collect a worldwide distribution fee, according to insiders.

The dal was announced by Warners and Spyglass toppers Roger Birnbaum and Gary Barber, who are now in control of the newly restructured MGM.

The pact resolves the prickly question of how MGM will pony up its half of the budget, with the other half coming from Warners/New Line.

In recent bankruptcy papers, MGM said it needed a loan of $265 million-$275 million for the two Hobbit movies, which are projected to cost at least $500 million to produce.

MGM will still retain international television licensing to the films.

Warners and MGM will collaborate on marketing and release plans.

Two films are set to begin production in February, with release dates targeted for December 2012 and December 2013. Both will be
filmed in Digital 3D.

Jackson is sharing screenplay credit with Fran Walsh, Philippa Boyens and Guillermo del Toro.


http://www.hollywoodreporter.com/blogs/heat-vision/warner-bros-handle-worldwide-distribution-69165

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« Reply #2509 on: Jan 8th, 2011, 09:30am »

New York Times

January 7, 2011
U.S. Subpoenas Twitter Account, WikiLeaks Says
By THE ASSOCIATED PRESS
Filed at 10:22 a.m. EST on January 08, 2011

LONDON (AP) — U.S. officials have issued a subpoena to demand details about WikiLeaks' Twitter account, the group announced Saturday, adding that it suspected other American Internet companies had been ordered to hand over information about its activities.

In a statement, WikiLeaks said U.S. investigators had gone to the San Francisco-based Twitter Inc. to demand the private messages, contact information and other personal details of WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange and other supporters, including the U.S. Army intelligence analyst suspected of handing classified information to the site and an Icelandic parliamentarian.

WikiLeaks blasted the court order, saying it amounted to harassment.

"If the Iranian government was to attempt to coercively obtain this information from journalists and activists of foreign nations, human rights groups around the world would speak out," Assange said in the statement.

A copy of the U.S. court order, dated Dec. 14 and posted to Salon.com, said the information sought was "relevant to an ongoing criminal investigation" and ordered Twitter not to disclose its existence to Assange or any of the others targeted.

The order was unsealed "thanks to legal action by Twitter," WikiLeaks said.

Twitter declined comment on the claim, saying only that its policy is to notify its users, where possible, of government requests for information.

Others named in the order include Pfc. Bradley Manning, the U.S. Army private suspected of being the source of some of WikiLeaks' material, as well as Birgitta Jonsdottir, an Icelandic lawmaker and one-time WikiLeaks collaborator known for her role in pioneering Iceland's media initiative, which aims to make the North Atlantic island nation a haven for free speech.

The U.S. is also seeking details about Dutch hacker Rop Gonggrijp and U.S. programmer Jacob Appelbaum, both of whom have previously worked with WikiLeaks.

Assange has promised to fight the order, as has Jonsdottir, who said in a Twitter message that she had "no intention to hand my information over willingly." Appelbaum, whose Twitter feed suggested he was traveling in Iceland, said he was apprehensive about returning to the U.S.

"Time to try to enjoy the last of my vacation, I suppose," he tweeted.

Gonggrijp expressed annoyance that court officials had misspelled his last name — and praised Twitter for notifying him and others that the U.S. had subpoenaed his details.

"It appears that Twitter, as a matter of policy, does the right thing in wanting to inform their users when one of these comes in," Gonggrijp said. "Heaven knows how many places have received similar subpoenas and just quietly submitted all they had on me."

WikiLeaks also voiced suspicion that other organizations, such as Facebook Inc. and Google Inc., had also been served with court orders, and urged them to "unseal any subpoenas they have received."

Google's London office did not immediately return a call and an e-mail seeking comment. Facebook did not immediately return an e-mail seeking comment either.

U.S. officials have been deeply angry with WikiLeaks for months, for first releasing tens of thousands of U.S. classified military documents on the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, then more recently posting thousands of classified U.S. diplomatic cables. U.S. officials say posting the military documents put informers' lives at risk and leaking diplomatic cables has made other countries reluctant to deal with American officials.

WikiLeaks denies U.S. charges that its actions could put lives at risk, saying that Washington merely is acting out of embarrassment over the revelations in the cables.

Although its relations with the U.S. government have been ugly, WikiLeaks and its tech-savvy staff have relied on American Internet and finance companies to raise funds, disseminate material and get their message out.

WikiLeaks' frequently-updated Facebook page, for example, counts 1.5 million fans and its Twitter account has a following of more than 600,000. Until recently, the group raised donations via PayPal Inc., MasterCard Inc., and Visa Inc., and hosted material on Amazon.com's servers.

Michael Liedtke in San Francisco contributed to this report.

http://www.nytimes.com/aponline/2011/01/07/us/AP-US-US-WikiLeaks.html?_r=1&hp

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« Reply #2510 on: Jan 8th, 2011, 09:37am »

New York Times

In Wider War in Afghanistan, Survival Rate of Wounded Rises

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By C. J. CHIVERS

KHAKREZ DISTRICT, Afghanistan — Intensified fighting and a larger troop presence in Afghanistan in 2010 led to the highest American combat casualties yet in the war, as the number of troops wounded by bullets, shrapnel and bombs approached that of the bloodiest periods of the war in Iraq.

But the available data points to advances in the treatment of the fallen, as the rate at which wounded soldiers who died reached a wartime low.

More than 430 American service members died from hostile action in Afghanistan last year through Dec. 21, according to official data released by the Pentagon last week at the request of The New York Times.

This was a small fraction of those struck. Nearly 5,500 American troops were wounded in action — more than double the total of 2,415 in 2009, and almost six times the number wounded in 2008.

In all, fewer than 7.9 percent of the Americans wounded in 2010 died, down from more than 11 percent the previous year and 14.3 percent in 2008.

The fatality rate declined even though many more troops patrolled on foot, exposing the force to greater dangers than in years past. Several doctors said the improvements came not from a single breakthrough but through a series of lessons learned over nearly a decade of fighting two wars, such as placing medevac helicopters closer to the fighting and the more extensive use of tourniquets.

Although fatality rates for wounded Afghan troops are not similarly available, doctors involved in their care said hospital records showed that they trail those of Western troops by a few percentage points, but have also fallen.

Several soldiers and those who care for them framed the improved survival rates as the grimmest sort of success. Many more troops — some missing multiple limbs or their genitals, or suffering brain damage — are being rescued from near death. But their wounds will be exceptionally difficult to overcome later as they try to resume work, and social and family lives.

Along with interviews with medics and military doctors, and a month spent by two journalists from The Times observing the collection and immediate treatment of troops suffering from a wide range of trauma, the data shows the results, in broad terms, of an evolving contest for wounded soldiers’ fates.

The contest pits a multilayered and expensive effort to keep troops alive against the sharply increased rate at which they suffer grievous injuries, some beyond what any medical system can heal.

A clear decline was evident: In 2005, 19.8 percent of wounded American soldiers died from their injuries. For the past five years in Afghanistan and Iraq, the fatality rates for wounded Americans have otherwise fluctuated between 9.4 and 14.3 percent.

(The data draws from a sample running into the tens of thousands; in 2006 in Iraq, for example, nearly 7,200 American troops were wounded by hostile action, more than 700 of them fatally.)

The statistics further served to reinforce consistent trends in the battlefield’s array of lethal hazards, and offered glimpses of wars within the war.

More soldiers in Afghanistan in 2010 were wounded by explosive devices (at least 3,615, compared to 828 troops reported to suffer gunshot wounds). But the higher fatality rates from gunshot wounds (12.9 percent versus 7.3 percent for wounds caused by bombs) made rifles and machine guns the most statistically deadly weapons.

Rocket-propelled grenades, for all their ferocious reputation, proved less of a threat. They wounded 373 American soldiers, of whom 13 — 3.5 percent — died.

No matter the improved odds, the data, like the field observations, illuminated that even the most determined efforts to cheat death could still be desperate — like the case of an Afghan soldier wounded on Dec. 9.

He was a disoriented young man on a stretcher with his uniform cut away, revealing wounds caused by a makeshift bomb.

His face was mashed. A tourniquet was cinched to his left leg, high by the hip. His abdomen swelled slightly from the bleeding within. From his torso rose the odor of burned flesh and hair.

The man worked with an American Special Forces team. Medics labored over him as the helicopter lifted from the dust, counting minutes in a race against time.

Medical workers attributed his improved chances to several factors, among them changes in training for soldiers who administer first aid, swifter movement of victims to hospitals made possible by more helicopters in the war, and shifts in procedures in operating rooms.

Equipment has also been a factor, including heavier armored vehicles more resistant to explosives and fire-retardant uniforms and gloves — two factors doctors and soldiers say seem to have led to a decline in the frequency and severity of burns.

“We have seen fewer burn injuries over all,” said Col. Evan M. Renz, director of the Army Burn Center in Texas, “even as the number of troops in Afghanistan has climbed sharply.”

Doctors said a change in attitude about tourniquets also prevented many deaths. Until a few years ago, they said, tourniquets were often regarded as a measure of last resort, not always applied swiftly to those with severe extremity wounds.

Every soldier now carries at least one tourniquet — some carry several — in their first-aid kits or visibly on their flak jackets. Fellow soldiers apply them immediately. “The liberal use of tourniquets has clearly been a lifesaver,” said Dr. Eric Elster, a Navy commander and director of surgical services at the NATO hospital at Kandahar Air Field.

One doctor, deployed in an area of fighting along the Arghandab River, said medics on patrols had become more proficient at other lifesaving techniques, too.

These include opening airways via tracheotomies, using needles to decompress swollen chest cavities that can collapse a wounded soldiers’ lungs and applying pressure dressing and bandages with clotting agents to areas — the groin, neck or armpits — where tourniquets have little effect

“This is just basic techniques, trained well,” said Lt. Col. Michael Wirt, brigade surgeon for Task Force Strike, a unit of the 101st Airborne Division.

Confidence in the ability to mitigate trauma — including legs shattered or amputated by bombs — has led to a sometimes visible practice that most units discourage: troops who pre-emptively apply tourniquets loosely to their thighs or upper arms before patrols.

“I think potentially that’s a negative,” Dr. Wirt said, adding that it could be read to suggest nervousness, or that such soldiers are too focused on being wounded. “Our command has not endorsed that.”

Part of the willingness to use tourniquets, doctors and medics said, has been related to the speed with which wounded soldiers reach hospitals.

Afghanistan’s harsh climate, combined with a relative dearth of helicopters in years past, often restricted the reach of medevac crews.

With the increased troop presence in 2010, there are now three Army combat aviation brigades in the country, and detachments of medevac helicopters have been moved to small outposts near the fighting — minutes away from many firefights or bomb blasts.

Within a half-hour of being wounded, a large fraction of troops now are en route to hospitals and being tended by flight medics. On repeated flights flown by the two journalists in May, June and December, some wounded soldiers were retrieved within 20 minutes of their injuries. None waited an hour.

The case of the wounded Afghan soldier showed the risks from wounds that battlefield first aid can barely help, and for whom speed might not be enough.

The man lifted his head and gazed down at his ruined body. Blood ran from his rectum. He had little time.

He frantically waved his burned arms, which were so damaged and sensitive that the medics hesitated to start an IV.

Instead, Sgt. Patrick Shultz lifted a small electric drill and cut through the bone below the man’s right knee, creating access into the marrow to administer drugs.

The hospital was not much farther ahead. But it was too late — 30 minutes after arriving, this man was dead.

For patients who reach NATO-run trauma centers, the overall survival rates have approached levels unseen in past wars. The staff said this was in part a result of the accumulated experience of surgical teams in Afghanistan and Iraq, as well as shifts in how patients were treated.

For one example, Dr. Elster and Dr. Wirt said the military had dropped administering saline solutions to patients in favor of what they called “massive transfusion protocols” — giving enormous quantities of blood.

High-volume transfusions aid in clotting and carrying oxygen, and have prevented more patients from dying in the hours after suffering severe wounds, they said.

“It is not unusual for us to give a patient 50 or 100 units of blood in the first 24 to 48 hours,” Dr. Elster said.

At the military hospital in Kandahar, 98 percent of Western troops that arrived alive last year did not die, the staff said.

For Afghans the survival rate was several percentage points lower.

Doctors said there were many reasons, including that most Afghans had not been issued fire-retardant clothing and often traveled in pickup trucks. Unlike vehicles used by American forces, pickup trucks stop neither bullets nor most shrapnel, and are easily blown apart by roadside bombs.

Moreover, Afghan soldiers are often loath to wear protective equipment, including helmets and bulletproof vests.

http://www.nytimes.com/2011/01/08/world/asia/08wounded.html?ref=world

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« Reply #2511 on: Jan 8th, 2011, 09:41am »

Reuters

Renault says technology safe in industrial spy case

By John Irish

PARIS | Sat Jan 8, 2011 8:19am EST

PARIS (Reuters) - An international network may have obtained data about Renault's electric car program, but its vital technology secrets are safe and production of the vehicles will not be held up, the French carmaker said on Saturday.

Three Renault executives, including one member of its management committee, were suspended on Monday over the leaking of data, which prompted the government to warn of a widespread risk to French industry.

"This is the work of professionals," Chief Operating Officer Patrick Pelata said in an interview with Le Monde newspaper's weekend edition. "Renault is the victim of an organized international network."

The executives are suspected of leaking information related to the high-profile electric vehicle program, a key plank of the carmaker's strategy in which it is investing billions of euros together with Japanese partner Nissan.

Pelata said information may have been leaked regarding the costs and economic model of the program, but not the "golden nuggets" of its technology, including some 200 patents that are being lodged.

"It's serious, but not as bad as if it had been the technology," he said. "Whether it's the chemistry of the electrodes, the structure of the batteries, the different elements of assembling, be it the charger or the engine itself, we feel ok."

He added that the electric program was on schedule: "We have not lost one day to launch our four electric cars.

Pelata said the three employees would face a preliminary hearing before facing a likely dismissal. The company was studying all legal options that would probably lead it to press criminal charges.

None of the suspended executives has a high profile among investors or in the media.

Thibault de Montbrial, a lawyer for Matthieu Tenenbaum, deputy head of Renault's electric-vehicle program and one of the three suspended employees, called the affair "surreal."

"My client is now portrayed as an international spy when so far he still doesn't have any material information explaining why Renault is accusing him."

CHINESE LINK, THOUSANDS OF CASES

Intelligence services are investigating a possible Chinese connection, a government source said on Friday.

Industry Minister Eric Besson played down the Chinese link on Saturday, saying he could not confirm anything for now.

"Renault will press charges and then the DCRI (internal intelligence service) will in all likelihood be asked to investigate," he told Europe 1 radio. "At that point we will know a lot more on the backers, beneficiaries, etc."

Renault is 15 percent owned by the French state.

In 2007, a Chinese student on a work placement at car parts maker Valeo was given a prison sentence for obtaining confidential documents. A court stopped short of an industrial espionage verdict, instead finding she had "abused trust."

Relations between France and China hit a low two years ago when French President Nicolas Sarkozy criticized Beijing's policy on Tibet.

A visit by Chinese President Hu Jintao to Paris late last year helped improve ties. France wants Chinese support for reform of the global monetary system under its presidency of the Group of 20 club of economic powers.

A government official dealing with corporate espionage, Olivier Buquen, told weekend paper Le Journal du Dimanche that there were thousands of industrial spying cases in France in the recent years as firms and countries seek technological edges.

"The number of incidents on French territory -- and these are reviewed over five years -- is alarming," Buquen said. "It amounts to several thousand," he said.

"All sectors, all regions and businesses of all sizes are affected," Buquen said. "The number of countries whose nationals are engaged in corporate espionage is also increasing."

Buquen said a draft bill was in the works to strengthen the legal protection of trade secrets.

Christian Harbulot, head of France's School of Economic Warfare which trains students in corporate intelligence, said the difficulties encountered by car producers during the financial crisis, coupled with the shift to electric technology, had made the sector even more competitive.

"There is huge tension in the strategies undertaken by the groups, and competitors are trying to find out what the others have decided to do."

(Additional reporting by Patrick Vignal and Gilles Guillaume; Editing by Peter Graff)

http://www.reuters.com/article/idUSTRE70625O20110108

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« Reply #2512 on: Jan 8th, 2011, 09:48am »

LA Times

Iran confirms arrest of American woman

The 34-year-old female is accused of taking photographs of guard posts along the Armenian border.

By Borzou Daragahi
Los Angeles Times Staff Writer
4:28 AM PST, January 8, 2011

Reporting from Beirut

After days of contradictory reports citing unnamed officials, an Iranian security official Saturday publicly confirmed the arrest of a female American described as an alleged spy along its border with Armenia.

Deputy national border police Cmdr. Amir-Ahmad Geravand told reporters that a 34-year-old American woman named Hal Talaian was arrested near the border town of Jolfa along the Iran-Armenian border, according to Iran's state-controlled Al-Alam television and the semi-official Fars news agency.

She was allegedly arrested Wednesday while "filming advanced equipment" under the guise of being a tourist, Geravand was quoted as saying.

Arabic-language Al-Alam cited Geravand as saying the woman was allegedly taking photographs of guard posts along the border.

Talaian was mentioned as the suspected spy in previous reports, but was described as a 55-year-old with espionage equipment embedded in her teeth.

Fars cited Geravand as saying that Talaian was "on assignment from an American espionage organization."

Previous reports said Talaian had tried to cross the border near the town of Nordouz but was denied entry because she lacked a visa. Officials in the Armenian capital of Yerevan had denied reports that someone fitting such a description had entered Armenia or been turned away or arrested at the Iranian border.

http://www.latimes.com/news/la-fgw-iran-arrest-20110109,0,6838538.story

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« Reply #2513 on: Jan 8th, 2011, 5:18pm »

AZ Central


Arizona Congresswoman Giffords shot; doctors 'optimistic' about recovery chances
6 killed, 18 wounded
Jan. 8, 2011 03:55 PM
The Arizona Republic/12News Breaking News Team

Arizona U.S. Rep. Gabrielle Giffords has undergone brain surgery after being shot through the head Saturday morning by a man who opened fire with a handgun when the Congresswoman was holding a public appearance in Tucson.

One of the surgeons who operated on Giffords said afterwards, "I'm very optimistic about her recovery."

Giffords, 40, a third-term Democrat, was shot at shortly after 10 in the morning at a Safeway at Ina and Oracle roads in northwest Tucson. Authorities identified the gunman as Jared Loughner said the 22-year-old suspect is in custody. (Initial news accounts and reports from authorities misidentified the name as Laughner.)

Six people were killed, including U.S. District Judge John Roll and a young girl, and 18 others were wounded in the shooting, authorities said.

Neurosurgeons at the University Medical Center in Tucson operated on Giffords and doctors were hopeful she would recover, Dr. Peter Rhee said during a news conference at the hospital.

Giffords was following commands, a good sign, he said.

The bullet entered one side of Gifford's head and exited the other after passing through her brain, he said.
"She was shot one time in the head through and through," Rhee said.

Initial reports had emergency crews treating five to seven people at the scene; authorities said later the tally was much higher because some of the wounded took themselves to the hospital.

The first 911 call came in at 10:11 a.m. The gunman opened fire with a pistol with an extended magazine.

The NBC affiliate in Tucson reports that the FBI has taken over the investigation.

Ryan Green, who works at the Pak Mail shipping store in the Safeway shopping center, said he heard 15 shots a few minutes after 10 a.m. Green said he waited for the shooting to stop before he went outside to see people on the ground."It was pandemonium," Green said.

Green rushed back into the shop, locked the door and waited for police to arrive, he said.

A man who works at Sprint store nearby told CNN he heard 15 to 20 shots, and there are two bodies on the ground in front of the Safeway. He said people were screaming that "Gabrielle Giffords has been shot."

Rhee the University Medical Center surgeon said neurosurgeons had finished operating on Giffords and she was under anesthesia. She was being taken to intensive care. Rhee said he would know better in 24 hours what the prognosis is.

He said the congresswoman was following commands, a good sign, he said.

Deputy Director Ron Barber was also injured in the shooting but was OK, said C.J. Karamargin, Giffords' communications director. He was not at the event. Another staffer, Pam Simon, was also hit, Karamargin said, but she will also be OK.

"Gabby is a tough as they come, and I am hopeful she is going to come through," President Barack Obama said during a news conference in Washington. "It is a tragedy for Arizona and a tragedy for the entire country."

Obama said he had called Arizona Gov. Jan Brewer and offered the full resources of the federal government and promised investigators would get to the bottom of the shooting.

"We don't know yet what provoked this unspeakable act," Obama said.

Brewer appeared visibly shaken at a news conference as she said "I am just heartbroken."

Brewer said she has ordered flags in Arizona to be flown at half staff. She called the shooting "an unbelievable tragedy' for the people of Arizona. She called Giffords a friend.

"I've grown to love and respect her. She never really played partisan politics. She was serious about her work," Brewer said. "She is a very gracious public servant."

Brewer was asked if how the shooting reflected on Arizona.

"It certainly doesn't show favor on the state of Arizona, but we have a lot of good decent people here," Brewer said.

On Saturday afternoon, about 60 to 70 people had gathered outside Giffords' office on Swan Road in Tucson.

The mood was somber. At one point 35 people held hands in a circle, as motorists drove by honking in support. People were getting information from texts and mobile devices. At times they sang "Give Peace a Chance."

Saturday's event was Giffords "Congress on Your Corner" event of the year.

The meetings allows residents of Arizona's 8th Congressional District to meet their Giffords one-on-one. Giffords usually holds the meetings with members of her staff, and the events have drawn as many as 150 people.

Giffords tweeted this just as her event at Safeway was beginning:

"My 1st Congress on Your Corner starts now. Please stop by to let me know what is on your mind or tweet me later."

Obama called the shooting in a statement an "an unspeakable tragedy."

"We do not yet have all the answers. What we do know is that such a senseless and terrible act of violence has no place in a free society. I ask all Americans to join me and Michelle in keeping Representative Giffords, the victims of this tragedy, and their families in our prayers," Obama said.

In November, Giffords a moderate Democrat, won re-election to her third 2-year term, narrowly escaping defeat to Republican businessman Jesse Kelly in a contentious race that centered largely on the issue of illegal immigration and border security, two hot button issues in southern Arizona.

Although immigration and border security played a role in every major race in the state, the debate was especially fierce in the 8th Congressional District. The District includes a 114-mile stretch of the U.S. border
with Mexico.

During the campaign, Giffords touted her efforts to push the Obama administration to deploy National Guard troops to the border and for playing an instrumental role in securing $600 million in funding to add more technology and Border Patrol agents.

Kelly criticized Giffords for not doing enough and had called for the construction of a double-layer border fence, more Border Patrol agents and the deployment of 10,000 National Guard troops to the border, more than eight times the 1,200 sent by the Obama Administration. At one point during the heated campaign, Kelly had said Giffords had "betrayed southern Arizona by refusing to secure the border."

Giffords opposed SB 1070, the state's new controversial immigration law, calling it "divisive." She supported instead comprehensive immigration reform at the federal law. The law sought to make it a state crime to be in the country illegally and to require police to question suspected illegal immigrants. Kelly supported the law, and opposed sweeping reforms in favor of stricter enforcement of existing laws.


http://www.azcentral.com/news/articles/2011/01/08/20110108arizona-giffords-brk.html#ixzz1AUMYic00

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« Reply #2514 on: Jan 8th, 2011, 6:23pm »

What an adorable baby! cheesy


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photo Pixdaus


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« Reply #2515 on: Jan 8th, 2011, 7:56pm »

This is for Swamp. Talk about stepping off into nothing..... cry undecided tongue shocked
I don't like to fly........ embarassed



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Marines from 4th Force Recon Company, Marine Corps Base Hawaii Kaneohe Bay step off the ramp of a 535th Airlift Squadron C-17 Globemaster III, while flying over the Island of Oahu in Hawaii, Nov. 30.
Defense Media Activity – Hawaii News Bureau
Photo by Master Sgt. Cohen Young
Location:JOINT BASE PEARL HARBOR-HICKAM, HI, US
Date Taken:11.30.2010
Related Photos: http://dvidshub.net/r/38tf4v

~

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« Reply #2516 on: Jan 8th, 2011, 8:06pm »

This guy is just showing off! grin



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535th Airlift Squadron loadmaster Staff Sgt. Jason Jones, a native of Monterey Calif., admires the view while sitting on the ramp of a C-17 Globemaster III before soldiers from Special Operations Command Pacific, Camp Smith, Hawaii and Marines from 4th Force Recon Company, Marine Corps Base Hawaii Kaneohe Bay parachute out over the Island of Oahu in Hawaii, Nov. 30



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« Reply #2517 on: Jan 8th, 2011, 8:17pm »

Hey, it's a piece of cake after that first step! cheesy
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« Reply #2518 on: Jan 8th, 2011, 8:55pm »

on Jan 8th, 2011, 8:17pm, Swamprat wrote:
Hey, it's a piece of cake after that first step! cheesy




Then it's the longest two minutes of your life!

Hey Swamp!

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« Reply #2519 on: Jan 9th, 2011, 08:30am »

New York Times

January 8, 2011
U.S. Will Counter Chinese Arms Buildup
By ELISABETH BUMILLER

BEIJING — The Pentagon is stepping up investments in a range of weapons, jet fighters and technology in response to the Chinese military buildup in the Pacific, Defense Secretary Robert M. Gates said Saturday on the eve of his visit to Beijing.

Despite billions of dollars in proposed Pentagon budget cuts that Mr. Gates announced this past week, he said that the Chinese development of its first radar-evading fighter jet, as well as an antiship ballistic missile that could hit American aircraft carriers, had persuaded him to make improvements in American weaponry a priority.

“They clearly have potential to put some of our capabilities at risk, and we have to pay attention to them, we have to respond appropriately with our own programs,” Mr. Gates said.

At the same time Mr. Gates doused China’s proud rollout this past week of its new stealth fighter jet, the J-20, saying that even though it was a matter for concern, there “is some question about just how stealthy” it is.

Mr. Gates made his comments to reporters before arriving Sunday night in Beijing, where he is on a three-day visit for talks with Chinese generals and President Hu Jintao that are meant to promote a more open and stable relationship between the American and Chinese militaries.

It is unclear what effect Mr. Gates’s comments will have on the talks, which are occurring a week before President Hu is to meet with President Obama in Washington.

The American weapons that Mr. Gates was referring to included investments in a new long-range nuclear-capable bomber aircraft, which the Pentagon had stopped developing in 2009, as well as a new generation of electronic jammers for the Navy that are designed to thwart a missile from finding and hitting a target. At a Pentagon briefing on Thursday, Mr. Gates said that the jammers would improve the Navy’s ability to “fight and survive” in waters where it is challenged.

Mr. Gates was also referring to continued investment in the Joint Strike Fighter, the Pentagon’s newest radar-evading fighter jet.

The Pentagon provided no estimate on Saturday of the total cost of the three programs or others meant to counter the Chinese buildup in the Pacific.

Although Pentagon officials say that China is a generation or more behind the United States in military technology, Mr. Gates said he has been worried about the Chinese buildup in his four years as defense secretary. And acknowledged that the Pentagon and intelligence agencies had underestimated how quickly the Chinese could act.

“We’ve been watching these developments all along,” Mr. Gates said.

“I’ve been concerned about the development of the antiship cruise and ballistic missiles ever since I took this job,” he added. “We knew they were working on a stealth aircraft. I think that what we’ve seen is that they may be somewhat further ahead in the development of that aircraft than our intelligence had earlier predicted.”

Mr. Gates said he hoped his talks with Chinese leaders would reduce the need for more American weaponry in the Pacific. He also said that if Chinese leaders considered the United States a declining power because of the financial crisis, they were wrong.

“I’ve watched this sort of cyclical view of American decline come around two or three times, perhaps most dramatically in the latter half of the 1970s,” Mr. Gates said. “And my general line for those both at home and around the world who think the U.S. is in decline is that history’s dustbins are filled with countries that underestimated the resilience of the United States.”


http://www.nytimes.com/2011/01/09/world/asia/09military.html?ref=world

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