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 veryhotthread  Author  Topic: Stuff & Nonsense  (Read 110988 times)
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« Reply #2565 on: Jan 13th, 2011, 08:40am »

Telegraph

Brisbane floods: tugboat driver hailed a hero for saving city bridge

A tugboat crew has been hailed as heroes after they skillfully guided a huge piece of floating concrete away from the supports of a key city bridge.


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Doug Hislop, Tug Master for 'Mavis' the Tug, diverted a disaster when 300 tonnes of concrete walkway broke loose on the Brisbane River
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By Bonnie Malkin, Brisbane
12:00PM GMT 13 Jan 2011

Pilot Doug Hislop and engineer Peter Fenton used the small boat, called Mavis, to prevent a 500ft-long section of the Brisbane City Riverwalk, a popular walking track along the banks of the river that had been torn off its foundations by the raging river, from colliding with the Gateway Bridge.

There were fears that the Riverwalk could crash into the bridge and bring it down, severing a major artery into the city.

Anna Bligh, the Queensland premier, said the skipper's skilful work had "saved lives" and that he would be considered for a bravery medal.

"He is a local hero," she said.

Mr Hislop said the pair was listening to the radio at about 4am when they heard that it was coming.

"We realised that it would have to come through the Gateway Bridge straight so we headed out to get it," he said.

"Nobody called us or asked is to do it. There was no time to talk to anyone. As it was we only caught it about half a kilometre above the bridge."

The Riverwalk was shadowed by water police as it floated down the swollen Brisbane River – which was flowing at about 12 knots or 11mph – and out to Moreton Bay.

The section had broken away at about 11pm as the Brisbane River rose to peak overnight.

Dramatic television footage showed it being nudged by the tugboat to keep it away from boats and the bridge.

"That was some of the most extraordinary footage we have seen. That guy is a local hero," Ms Bligh said.

"I think there is a children's book called The Little Tugboat That Could and I was watching it thinking 'I think I can, I think I can'."

Kevin Rudd, the former prime minister, also praised the work of the tugboat crew, saying it was "extraordinary seamanship".

"(The boardwalk) colliding into the Gateway would not be a good thing ... my hat's off to them."

The bridge was reopened shortly after the Riverwalk had passed underneath it.

http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/worldnews/australiaandthepacific/australia/8256881/Brisbane-floods-tugboat-driver-hailed-a-hero-for-saving-city-bridge.html

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« Reply #2566 on: Jan 13th, 2011, 08:45am »

Telegraph

Mammoth 'could be reborn in four years'

The woolly mammoth, extinct for thousands of years, could be brought back to life in as little as four years thanks to a breakthrough in cloning technology.


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By Julian Ryall in Tokyo
2:13PM GMT 13 Jan 2011


Previous efforts in the 1990s to recover nuclei in cells from the skin and muscle tissue from mammoths found in the Siberian permafrost failed because they had been too badly damaged by the extreme cold.

But a technique pioneered in 2008 by Dr. Teruhiko Wakayama, of the Riken Centre for Developmental Biology, was successful in cloning a mouse from the cells of another mouse that had been frozen for 16 years.

Now that hurdle has been overcome, Akira Iritani, a professor at Kyoto University, is reactivating his campaign to resurrect the species that died out 5,000 years ago.

"Now the technical problems have been overcome, all we need is a good sample of soft tissue from a frozen mammoth," he told The Daily Telegraph.

He intends to use Dr Wakayama's technique to identify the nuclei of viable mammoth cells before extracting the healthy ones.

The nuclei will then be inserted into the egg cells of an African elephant, which will act as the surrogate mother for the mammoth.

Professor Iritani said he estimates that another two years will be needed before the elephant can be impregnated, followed by the approximately 600-day gestation period.

He has announced plans to travel to Siberia in the summer to search for mammoths in the permafrost and to recover a sample of skin or tissue that can be as small as 3cm square. If he is unsuccessful, the professor said, he will ask Russian scientists to provide a sample from one of their finds.

"The success rate in the cloning of cattle was poor until recently but now stands at about 30 per cent," he said. "I think we have a reasonable chance of success and a healthy mammoth could be born in four or five years."

http://www.telegraph.co.uk/science/science-news/8257223/Mammoth-could-be-reborn-in-four-years.html

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« Reply #2567 on: Jan 13th, 2011, 08:51am »

Wired

Jan. 13, 1942: Ejection Seat Works, Pilot Elated
By Tony Long
January 13, 2011 | 7:00 am
Categories: 20th century, Transportation, Warfare and Military


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The Heinkel-He 280 was an early German jet. A test pilot was flying one when he needed the ejection seat for real.
Courtesy U.S. Department of Defense



1942: At the height of World War II, German test pilot Helmut Schenck becomes the first person known to use an ejection seat to successfully exit his aircraft in an emergency situation.

Schenck, testing a Heinkel He-280 jet fighter, was in tow behind a conventionally powered aircraft when his plane iced up, making it impossible to start his engines. He jettisoned his canopy and activated the seat. Powered by compressed gas, the seat catapulted him clear of the aircraft.

Schenck was the first to use this method of exiting his aircraft in an emergency. Another Heinkel pilot had previously ejected successfully under test conditions.

Germany, which produced the Messerschmitt Me-262, the world’s first operational jet fighter, also led the way in developing the ejection seat (.pdf). This was logical enough, considering that the speed and g-forces generated by these high-speed planes made escape problematical for a pilot equipped with only a parachute. Exiting the aircraft by “bailing out,” as was common in propeller-driven planes, was exceedingly dangerous in a jet aircraft.

The British also studied aircraft ejection during the interwar years but set the project aside in favor of other pursuits. They would not seriously revisit the subject until after the war.

The Germans experimented with several types of ejection seat — or Schleudersitzapparat, which translates as “seat catapult device.” The one Schenck used was activated by compressed gas, another relied on a spring-operated mechanism, and a third used a propellant charge.

Schenck’s seat, which was developed by the Heinkel Aircraft Works, was eventually discarded in favor of the propellant charge. That seat was mounted on parallel catapult tubes measuring 42 inches long. Each tube housed a charge containing an ounce of powder. When fired successfully, it achieved an ejection velocity of 35 feet per second.

Ejection seats were eventually installed in several jet-aircraft models flown by the Luftwaffe, including the Heinkel He-162 Volksjäger, the Arado Ar-2348 Nachtigal and the Messerschmitt Me-163 Komet. Strangely, the ejection seat was only rarely installed in the Me-262, which was the most widely used German jet fighter of the war.

From the time of Schenck’s successful escape to the end of World War II, approximately 60 Luftwaffe airmen ejected from their planes in combat situations.

http://www.wired.com/thisdayintech/2011/01/0113ejection-seat/

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« Reply #2568 on: Jan 13th, 2011, 12:14pm »

Hollywood Reporter

Kiefer Sutherland, John Hurt to Star in Web-Based Action Series
12:46 PM 1/13/2011
by THR staff


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It is Sutherland’s first post-'24' role.

Kiefer Sutherland and two-time Academy Award nominee John Hurt have signed on for The Confession, a new scripted Web action series, Digital Broadcasting Group announced Thursday.

The ten 5-minute episodes — in which Sutherland plays a hitman who talks to a priest (Hurt) about why his victims deserved to die -- will air on HULU.com, and be distributed across DBG.

Sutherland will executive produce the series with Chris Young and Joseph Gomes of DBG and Maura Mandt of Maggie Vision.

The project marks Sutherland’s first endeavor in web development.

His last major role was playing government agent Jack Bauer on Fox's critically-praised 24.

http://www.hollywoodreporter.com/news/kiefer-sutherland-john-hurt-star-71538

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« Reply #2569 on: Jan 13th, 2011, 3:52pm »

r.i.p.

'Touched By An Angel' Star John Dye Passes Away
Gave faithfully to Memphis, North Mississippi causes


LA Times
Dennis Turner
January 13, 2011, 12:15 p.m.


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John Dye was studying to become a lawyer, when he found the spotlight of acting.

The odds seemed to be against him, but he was determined to succeed. "I mean if you knew what all was in front of you you'd never do it because the odds are too great you know, so young, dumb and stupid from Amory, Mississippi you know I can do that!" he said during a 1998 interview on the "Touched by an Angel" set in Salt Lake City.

And he did, winning roles in several movies, and the role that made him famous on TV's Touched by an Angel.

"He could bring sunshine to your life, he really could." said his Father, Jim Dye.

His father says John's spirit was infectious, and it was obvious as we visited him on stage several years ago.

"Does it help to be a mid-southerner? Of course it does, Please! The best people in the world are from our part of the woods." John Dye said.

John Dye also had deep Memphis roots.

He made an impression at the University of Memphis when he broke his leg right before an opening night performance, and insisted the show must go on.

So did he, leg cast and all.

He was just as dedicated to things he believed in.

"He was very giving, had a lot of causes that he supported real well, Make a Wish Foundation, AIDS research." said his Father.

The 47-year-old Dye, reportedly passed away from heart failure at his home in California, Tuesday.

His father says he wished he'd had the chance for some last advice, "Take care of yourself son, you go too hard, you play too hard and you work too hard. Slow down and he didn't. In the end his heart gave out."

But he gave countless others years of warm feelings and sunny thoughts.

Dye told me it all went back to a drama teacher's advice to him years ago, "As much as you enjoy your performance your audience will enjoy it and I've always held onto that, think about that."

Mid-southerners and millions around the world will think about and remember John Dye for all he gave to us.

Funeral arrangements are pending; the E.E. Pickle funeral home in Amory has charge.

WCBI-TV Columbus, contributed to this story.

http://www.latimes.com/entertainment/wreg-dyeobit,0,6444536.story

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« Reply #2570 on: Jan 13th, 2011, 5:42pm »

shocked

ChicagoBusiness.com

Quinn promises to quickly sign 67% tax hike bill

January 12, 2011

(AP) — Illinois Gov. Pat Quinn defended a massive increase in state income taxes passed by lawmakers Wednesday and promised to quickly sign the measure to help heal the state's ailing finances.

Lawmakers worked overnight to pass the increase to raise the personal income tax rate from 3 percent to 5 percent for four years — a 67 percent increase. Corporate income taxes also will rise, but Quinn rejected the notion that it would decimate businesses.

The rate increase might be the biggest any state has adopted in percentage terms while grappling with recent economic woes. Nevertheless, Illinois' tax rate would remain lower than in several other states in the region.

"It's important for their state government not to be a fiscal basket case," Quinn told reporters outside his Capitol office.

Legislative leaders rushed early Wednesday to pass the politically risky plan before a new General Assembly was sworn in at noon, taking a slice out of the Democratic majority and removing lame-duck lawmakers willing to support the tax before leaving office.

The tax increase would temporarily raise the personal tax rate to 5 percent, a two-thirds increase from the current 3 percent rate. Corporate taxes also would climb as part of the effort to close a budget hole that could hit $15 billion this year. Quinn's office said the higher taxes will generate about $6.8 billion a year — a major increase by any measure.

The tax increase will be coupled with strict 2 percent limits on spending growth. If officials spend above those limits, the tax increase will automatically be canceled. The plan's supporters warned that rising pension and health care costs probably will eat up all the spending allowed by the caps, forcing cuts in other areas of government.

Other pieces of the budget plan failed.

Lawmakers rejected a $1-a-pack increase in cigarette taxes, which would have provided money for schools. They also blocked a plan to borrow $8.7 billion to pay off overdue bills, which means long-suffering businesses and social-service agencies won't get their money anytime soon.

House Speaker Michael Madigan said Republicans should have supported some parts of the plan instead of voting against everything. The proposal passed the House on Tuesday night 60-57, the bare minimum. No Republicans backed the measure there or in the Senate, where the measure passed 30-29.

"They're on the sidelines. They don't want to get on the field of play," the Chicago Democrat said. "I'm happy that the day has ended."

But Republicans noted they were not included in negotiations. They also fundamentally reject the idea of raising taxes after years of spending growth.

"We're saying to the people of Illinois, 'For eight years we've overspent, now we're going to make it your problem,'" said Rep. Roger Eddy. "We're making up for our mistakes on your back."

The increase means an Illinois resident who now owes $1,000 in state income taxes will pay $1,666 at the new rate. After four years, the rate drops to 3.75 percent and that same taxpayer will then owe $1,250.

Republicans predict the tax eventually will be made permanent.

"It's a cruel hoax to play on citizens to say this is temporary," said House Minority Leader Tom Cross, R-Oswego.

Republicans also accused Democrats of doing irreparable harm to Illinois families and businesses. Business leaders decried the proposal as a job-killer.

"Based on this particular legislation the only businesses that will benefit are the moving companies that will be helping many of my members move out of this particular state," said Gregory Baise, head of the Illinois Manufacturers' Assn.

Governors of some neighboring states quickly jumped on the issue. Republican Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker, who took office last week and has already proposed a tax cut for businesses that move to Wisconsin from other states, invited companies to head north.

"Years ago Wisconsin had a tourism advertising campaign targeted to Illinois with the motto, 'Escape to Wisconsin,'" Walker said Wednesday in a statement. "Today we renew that call to Illinois businesses, 'Escape to Wisconsin.' You are welcome here."

Quinn scoffed at the notion. "Lots of luck to them, but that's not going to happen."

Democrats countered that even with the increase, Illinois' tax rate will be lower than in many neighboring states — Iowa's top rate is 8.98 percent, Wisconsin's is 7.75 percent. They also maintain that without more money, state government may not be able to pay employees by the end of the year.

Democrats also bristled at being blamed for the state's financial problems, although they've controlled the governor's office and both legislative chambers since 2003.

They said some of the problem began under Republican governors and that Republicans backed some budgets that increased spending. They argued the national recession sent state revenues into a nosedive and that Democrats already have cut spending by billions of dollars.

The new tax money will balance the state's annual budget and let officials begin chipping away at the backlog of unpaid bills. Borrowing money, and then repaying it with a portion of the tax increase, would have allowed those bills to be paid immediately, aiding organizations that provide services for the state but go months without being reimbursed.

The delay and the spending limits are "very troubling" to those groups, said Sean Noble, policy director for Voices for Illinois Children, a member of the statewide Responsible Budget Coalition. Still, he called the tax increase "an enormous step" toward putting Illinois on sound financial footing.


http://www.chicagobusiness.com/article/20110112/NEWS02/110119950/67-tax-hike-passes-goes-to-governor#axzz1Axg4WFM7

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« Reply #2571 on: Jan 13th, 2011, 5:57pm »



Please be an angel


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www.soldiersangels.org



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« Reply #2572 on: Jan 14th, 2011, 08:06am »

New York Times

January 13, 2011
For Hezbollah, Claiming Victory Could Be Costly
By ANTHONY SHADID

BEIRUT, Lebanon — With Hezbollah’s toppling of the Lebanese government, the militant Shiite Muslim movement entered what may prove to be one of the most dangerous chapters in a 30-year history that has made it reviled in the West and popular in the Arab world: At the moment seemingly of its greatest power, the path facing it could unveil its most glaring weaknesses.

Hezbollah and its allies acted on longstanding threats Wednesday to bring down Lebanon’s national unity government in a dispute over a United Nations-backed tribunal, which is expected to indict Hezbollah members in the assassination of a former prime minister, Rafik Hariri.

The result followed a familiar script in Lebanon, where institutions have been paralyzed more often than not since the killing of Mr. Hariri and 22 others in a devastating bombing along Beirut’s seafront in February 2005. Lawmakers predicted weeks, perhaps months, of stalemate as the country tries to navigate questions unanswered since the end of its civil war in 1990: the power of Lebanon’s largest religious communities, its posture toward Israel, the fate of Hezbollah’s arms and the power of foreign patrons.

Few dispute Hezbollah’s prowess in that standoff; it vanquished its foes in just a few days of fighting in May 2008, when it seized part of the capital. But to do so again could further tarnish its reputation here, making it look more and more like a sectarian militia than the resistance movement to Israel it considers itself.

It would undoubtedly heighten tensions between Sunni and Shiite Muslims, a prospect the movement fears could undermine its stature in the wider, predominantly Sunni Middle East. The paradox is that only that confrontation may deliver it what it wants: a Lebanese government that denounces the indictments and ends cooperation with the tribunal.

“In some ways, they’re in a Catch-22,” said Robert Malley, the Middle East and North Africa program director for the International Crisis Group. “Even as it increases its power in Lebanon, it could be exacerbating its own problems in the country.”

In that, the Hezbollah that entered the crisis may look far different from the group, born in the crucible of the 1982 Israeli invasion of Lebanon, that emerges.

A day after the collapse of a national unity government led by Rafik Hariri’s son, Saad Hariri, the capital was more troubled by traffic jams than the prospect of fighting. Both sides seemed eager not to escalate, and Hezbollah officials refused to make any public pronouncements that might stoke more tensions.

But no one questioned the depth of the crisis. It could be seen as the worst since the fighting in 2008, though it is probably more accurate to view it as simply another iteration of the crisis that began with the Hariri assassination. His killing soon drew the line between camps in an almost equally divided country and helped end Syria’s 29-year military presence and, with Saudi Arabia, its political control here.

What followed was a string of political assassinations, a devastating war with Israel, sectarian fighting, mass protests downtown and almost two years of government paralysis. After the 2008 fighting, a truce was reached in the Persian Gulf country of Qatar, in which Hezbollah achieved far greater power in the government, effectively enabling it to veto legislation and, in a worst-case situation, bring it down.

It did that on Wednesday after a Saudi-Syrian attempt at mediation failed.

“We’re facing a crisis that, I think, will be long,” said Nabil Haytham, a prominent columnist for As-Safir, a pro-opposition newspaper in Lebanon.

Neither side seemed to want to reach this point. Weaker and more divided than a few years ago, Mr. Hariri’s allies were thought to be buying time until the handing down of the indictments, which would have strengthened their hand in negotiations.

Hezbollah, analysts say, had hoped for an agreement mediated by Syria — with Iran, Hezbollah’s ally — and Saudi Arabia, the patron of Mr. Hariri. Having failed, Hezbollah found itself dragged deeper into a political arena that it still, with perhaps a degree of arrogance, views as beneath its calling as a resistance movement, even as it exercises unprecedented power within it.

“The party is facing developments that are quickly changing,” said Talal Atrissi, a professor at Lebanese University. “They are trying to keep up with the pace of change inside the country and at the same time keep the priority for confrontation with Israel.”

Hezbollah has evolved from a shadowy organization blamed for two attacks on the American Embassy and the 1983 bombing of the Marine barracks here, killing 240 soldiers, into an expansive movement with an armed militia more powerful than the Lebanese Army and a sprawling infrastructure that delivers welfare to its Shiite constituency, Lebanon’s largest community. Over those decades, its political role has grown, as well, particularly when it has felt vulnerable, as was the case with the Syrian withdrawal.

Even its supporters acknowledge its vulnerability now. Not that it fears that the tribunal would try its members — the prospect of their arrest is almost impossible to fathom, given Hezbollah’s discipline. Rather, it is concerned about the impact of the indictments on its standing in the Arab world. Both it and its allies worry about the reach, too, of the tribunal, a body whose foreign backers (France and the United States) and supporters here (Mr. Hariri’s allies) have seen as serving their interests.

With the country now facing a stalemate, the question has become: What next?

“They see the trap of either backing down, and losing credibility, or acting on their threat, and paying a price in terms of their image,” said Mr. Malley of the International Crisis Group. “At some point, they’re going to have to decide whether they cross the threshold of taking actions.”

To do so would almost certainly deepen anger at a movement that once declared a red line against turning its weapons on Lebanese themselves. It would widen fault lines that are no longer most pronounced between Christian and Muslim but rather between Sunni and Shiite; some fear that a new vein of frustrated Sunni militancy here would result.

The longer the movement is enmeshed in the crisis, the more it is seen as just another actor in a country where power is rigidly divided among its religious sects. Even seizing the government — an option not beyond the realm of possibility — would make it no less vulnerable, essentially making Hezbollah and the state synonymous.

“Hezbollah doesn’t want to control the government or country, even though they could if they wanted,” said Anis Nakkash, director of the Aman Research Center here in Beirut.

The alternative, for now, may be a familiar wait.

Nada Bakri and Hwaida Saad contributed reporting.

http://www.nytimes.com/2011/01/14/world/middleeast/14lebanon.html?_r=1&hp

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« Reply #2573 on: Jan 14th, 2011, 08:12am »

Telegraph

Yorkshire Ripper Peter Sutcliffe to die in prison after losing appeal against whole life tariff

Peter Sutcliffe, the Yorkshire Ripper, has lost a challenge against an order that he can never be released.

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Sutcliffe, now 64, received 20 life terms for the murder of 13 women and the attempted murder of others in Yorkshire and Greater Manchester
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10:16AM GMT 14 Jan 2011

A High Court judge ruled last year that the serial killer of 13 women must serve a ''whole life'' tariff.

Sutcliffe, who is now known as Peter Coonan, had his appeal against that order rejected today by the Lord Chief Justice, Lord Judge, Mr Justice Calvert-Smith and Mr Justice Griffith Williams at the Court of Appeal.

The former lorry driver, from Bradford, West Yorkshire, was convicted at the Old Bailey in 1981.

Sutcliffe, now 64, received 20 life terms for the murder of 13 women and the attempted murder of others in Yorkshire and Greater Manchester.

Lord Judge said the "passage of time does not make the appellant's account at trial of how he came to commit these offences any more likely to be credible now than it was then".

He said: "We are not, of course, suggesting that the man who perpetrated these crimes was in any ordinary sense of the words 'normal' or 'average'."

The "sheer abnormality of his actions themselves suggest some element of mental disorder".

But he added: "There is, however, no reason to conclude that the appellant's claim that he genuinely believed that he was acting under divine instruction to fulfil God's will carries any greater conviction now than it did when it was rejected by the jury."

An examination of the "entire catalogue of the offences as a whole demonstrates that this was criminal conduct at the extreme end of horror".

The three judges ruled that the interests of justice required "nothing less" than a whole life order.

Lord Judge said: "Each of the attempted murders, as well as each of the murder offences, taken on its own was a dreadful crime of utmost brutality: taking all the offences together, we have been considering an accumulation of criminality of exceptional magnitude which went far beyond the legislative criteria for a whole-life order.

"Even accepting that an element of mental disturbance was intrinsic to the commission of these crimes, the interests of justice require nothing less than a whole-life order.

"That is the only available punishment proportionate to these crimes."

It was on July 5 1975, just 11 months after his marriage, that Sutcliffe took a hammer and carried out his first attack on a woman.

Sutcliffe is said to have believed he was on a "mission from God" to kill prostitutes - although not all of his victims were sex workers - and was dubbed the Yorkshire Ripper because he mutilated their bodies using a hammer, a sharpened screwdriver and a knife.

The trial judge recommended that he should serve a minimum term of 30 years before he could be considered for parole.

In October 1997 the Home Secretary sought a recommendation from the then Lord Chief Justice, Lord Bingham, as to the minimum term.

Lord Bingham recommended that the minimum term should be 35 years, but in the end no tariff was set.

Last July, Mr Justice Mitting, sitting at the High Court in London, ruled that Sutcliffe should serve a whole life term.

In his ruling, the judge said the primary submission made on behalf of Sutcliffe was that the degree of his responsibility "was lowered by mental disorder or mental disability".

The diagnosis of psychiatrists who considered his mental condition was that he was "suffering from encapsulated paranoid schizophrenia when he committed the crimes and that his responsibility for the 13 killings was, in consequence, substantially diminished".

But Mr Justice Mitting said: "These propositions were, however, unquestionably rejected by the jury."

He ruled: "It is not, in my opinion, open to a judge, setting a minimum term, to go behind the verdict of the jury by concluding that, although the defendant's responsibility was not proved to have been substantially diminished, he should be given the benefit of the doubt for the purpose of setting the minimum term, by concluding that it might have been."

During Sutcliffe's appeal against Mr Justice Mitting's ruling, his QC argued that the killer's mental disorder justified a minimum jail term of a "finite" number of years.

Edward Fitzgerald told the court: "We accept that the applicant was convicted of the brutal murder of 13 women and the attempted murder of seven others and, on the face of it, we accept that the number and the nature of the murders is such that would call for a whole life tariff.

"The sole submission in this case is that the disorder suffered, and still suffered by the applicant, is a sufficient mitigating circumstance to justify a long, finite term of years instead of a whole life tariff."

Mr Fitzgerald emphasised: "Can I just stress that, of course, the tariff only means the minimum term he must serve before he can apply for parole and it does not have any implications as to release.

"It just means that he would have the opportunity to put his case to the Parole Board."

Lord Judge said the essential argument before the Court of Appeal was again focused on Sutcliffe's state of mind.

He said that, in the context of the evidence from the trial, there were "ample reasons why a jury would have been likely to reject the appellant's account of his divine mission".

From about May 1989 Sutcliffe started to assert that his instructions to kill the women had come from a "diabolical" rather than divine source.


http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/uknews/crime/8259211/Yorkshire-Ripper-Peter-Sutcliffe-to-die-in-prison-after-losing-appeal-against-whole-life-tariff.html

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« Reply #2574 on: Jan 14th, 2011, 08:17am »

Wired Danger Room

Unfollowed: Pentagon Deletes Social Media Office
By Spencer Ackerman
January 13, 2011 | 5:53 pm
Categories: Info War

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At a time when Facebook has 500 million users and Twitter is closing in on 200 million, the Pentagon no longer has a single person guiding its communications shop on how to use social media to get the military’s message out.

Gone are communication pro Price Floyd and technology exec Sumit Agarwal, the two men brought in during the past two years to get the Pentagon comfortable with online interaction in the 21st century. Floyd, a relentless tweeter, decamped in August to join defense giant BAE Systems.

Agarwal, a former Google manager, now works on cybersecurity issues in the Pentagon policy directorate. Their old boss, assistant secretary of defense for public affairs Douglas Wilson, decided not to replace Agarwal, who left in November.

Instead, now that the Facebook pages and Twitter feeds they set up are in place, Wilson says using social media ought to be the responsibility of the approximately 100 people he oversees. “I was increasingly concerned our approach to social media was a stovepiped professional area,” he tells Danger Room.

“It’s important for people in press operations, community and public outreach and communications and planning to be able to know how to use and access Facebook, Twitter and the other social media tools, rather than just have a single unit or single person do nothing but social media.”

Time will tell if Pentagon Social Media 2.0 is an actual upgrade. For one thing, it doesn’t make policy on servicemembers’ access to YouTube or Facebook, — a deeply controversial topic in certain military circles.

The Pentagon’s shockingly open social-media guidelines expire on March 1st.

Deputy Defense Secretary William Lynn is in charge of deciding whether a soldier in Afghanistan should be allowed to tweet freely over military networks. He’s also one of the officials sounding the alarm about the Pentagon’s need to secure its networks.

Given the new mindfulness in the post-WikiLeaks Pentagon about the downside of online communications tools, it’s worth wondering how the Pentagon will strike the new balance without an active social-media point person arguing for openness.

Wilson denies that social media will be placed on the back burner. Rather, he says, it’s the new normal inside his communications shop. “Our people are being trained in how best to use [social media], apply it to their day-to-day work, beyond sending personal Twitter messages or being on Facebook on their own,” Wilson says. From there, they advise the military services on how to interact with their followers and Facebook fans.

That is, if the services ask the Pentagon for help: They tend to have bigger online presences than the Pentagon.

Some of the ways that Wilson’s people adapt social media to their workaday responsibilities are more reactive than interactive. Harold Hielsnis, who runs the Public Affairs Research and Analysis office, says that he now trolls Twitter, Facebook and Google’s blog search to figure out what people interested in defense are saying about it. But if others working for Wilson are engaging with the defense community, Hielsnis isn’t one of them: He’s not on either Twitter or Facebook. It’s up to the press shop to figure out whether and how they want to use his social-media-informed research.

And don’t expect to see an explosion in Pentagon tweeters with handles like @DODJohnny. A single staffer, whom Hielsnis declined to identify, maintains the Department’s Facebook page and Twitter feed, so the department speaks in a single virtual voice. “We are a centralized organization and we work in that way,” he says.

But it needs to be said that whoever is in charge of those accounts is familiar with all internet traditions. Both are filled with material that engages with people’s concerns about the military, as with this tweet today directing @AZBoojum to a feed where he could get information on traumatic brain injury. The Defense Department’s Facebook wall is a defense-community sounding board, and the page itself acts as a portal to all things military. Personally, I wouldn’t have known that the military was extending the time it was taking for troops to recoup any extra stop-loss pay if it weren’t for the Pentagon’s social-media outreach.

That might be why Floyd isn’t sweating the lack of a social media chief. “The policy is in place,” he emails from the U.K., “no need to have a champion since it is being implemented literally everywhere.”

There are some mixed signals, though. With the exception of longtime social media maven Lt. Gen. William Caldwell, it’s been months since the Pentagon’s blogger roundtables (which this blog engages in, and did so as recently as this morning) featured a prominent general or flag officer

Wilson says social media is now a part of his shop’s muscle memory, something that should come naturally given that it’s hard to find professionals in the D.C. area who aren’t using some form of social media. (Hell, even Donald Rumsfeld is.) “There are a lot of people in here who do their own personal little Twitter accounts,” he says — before conceding, “I don’t.”

http://www.wired.com/dangerroom/2011/01/unfollowed-pentagon-deletes-social-media-office/

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« Reply #2575 on: Jan 14th, 2011, 08:20am »

Reuters

JPMorgan profit beats, helped by reserve release

Fri Jan 14, 2011 8:26am EST

NEW YORK (Reuters) - JPMorgan Chase & Co reported higher-than-expected quarterly earnings, helped by narrowing losses on bad loans that allowed it to release $2 billion of reserves.

The results show that JPMorgan, the first of the major U.S. banks to report, is benefiting from economic recovery but has not yet shaken off the residual costs of the financial crisis.

JPMorgan's mortgage business in particular is still struggling amid rising litigation and still sluggish home buying interest. The bank, the second-largest U.S. financial institution, set aside another $1.5 billion to cover legal settlements linked to U.S. mortgages.

JPMorgan shares fell 7 cents to $44.38 in pre-market trading and analysts said the results could indicate headwinds for the other banks reporting next week.

The largest U.S. bank, Bank of America Corp, reports on Friday, while Citigroup, the third largest, reports on Tuesday. Goldman Sachs Group reports on Wednesday.

"JPMorgan and Goldman stand on their own," said David Morrison, market strategist at GFT Global Markets in London. "It doesn't necessarily mean that we are going to see good results from the others, even the top six U.S. banks," he added.

JPMorgan said profit increased to $4.8 billion, or $1.12 a share, from $3.3 billion, or 74 cents a share, a year earlier. Analysts on average expected $1 a share, according to Thomson Reuters I/B/E/S.

"Although we continue to face challenges, there are signs of stability and growth returning to both the global capital markets and the U.S. economy," said Chief Executive Jamie Dimon.

RESERVE RELEASE

Fewer bad loans meant the bank could reduce loan-loss reserves for its credit card unit by $2 billion, or 30 cents a share after tax.

"The loan-loss reserves are something that bugs me," said Matt McCormick, portfolio manager and banking analyst at Bahl & Gaynor. "I would love to see a bank hit their numbers without taking from loan-loss reserves for once," he added.

The bank benefited from a turnaround in its retail banking unit, which reported a profit of $708 million compared with a loss of $399 million in the year-earlier quarter.

Still, JPMorgan had to put aside $1.5 billion of additional litigation reserves related to soured mortgages it sold to investors. Its compensation expense for the full year increased about 4 percent from 2009, but the payout per investment bank employee dropped 2.7 percent to $369,651.

In the investment bank, revenue increased from the year earlier, but profit fell to 21 percent to $1.5 billion as the bank added to litigation reserves.

Revenue increased 6 percent to $26.7 billion.

(Additional reporting by Maria Aspan in New York and Dominic Lau in London)

(Reporting by Elinor Comlay; Editing by Lisa Von Ahn and Steve Orlofsky)

http://www.reuters.com/article/idUSTRE70D2BM20110114

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« Reply #2576 on: Jan 14th, 2011, 08:26am »

Science Daily

Genetically Modified Chickens That Don't Transmit Bird Flu Developed; Breakthrough Could Prevent Future Bird Flu Epidemics

ScienceDaily (Jan. 13, 2011) — Chickens genetically modified to prevent them spreading bird flu have been produced by researchers at the Universities of Cambridge and Edinburgh.


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Researchers in the UK report that they have developed
chickens that are genetically modified to prevent them spreading bird flu.
(Image courtesy of University of Cambridge)



The scientists have successfully developed genetically modified (transgenic) chickens that do not transmit avian influenza virus to other chickens with which they are in contact. This genetic modification has the potential to stop bird flu outbreaks spreading within poultry flocks. This would not only protect the health of domestic poultry but could also reduce the risk of bird flu epidemics leading to new flu virus epidemics in the human population.

The study, funded by the Biotechnology and Biological Sciences Research Council (BBSRC), is published in the journal Science.

Dr Laurence Tiley, Senior Lecturer in Molecular Virology from the University of Cambridge, Department of Veterinary Medicine, said: "Chickens are potential bridging hosts that can enable new strains of flu to be transmitted to humans. Preventing virus transmission in chickens should reduce the economic impact of the disease and reduce the risk posed to people exposed to the infected birds. The genetic modification we describe is a significant first step along the path to developing chickens that are completely resistant to avian flu. These particular birds are only intended for research purposes, not for consumption."

Professor Helen Sang, from The Roslin Institute at the University of Edinburgh, said, "The results achieved in this study are very encouraging. Using genetic modification to introduce genetic changes that cannot be achieved by animal breeding demonstrates the potential of GM to improve animal welfare in the poultry industry. This work could also form the basis for improving economic and food security in many regions of the world where bird flu is a significant problem."

To produce these chickens, the Cambridge and Edinburgh scientists introduced a new gene that manufactures a small "decoy" molecule that mimics an important control element of the bird flu virus. The replication machinery of the virus is tricked into recognising the decoy molecule instead of the viral genome and this interferes with the replication cycle of the virus.

When the transgenic chickens were infected with avian flu, they became sick but did not transmit the infection on to other chickens kept in the same pen with them. This was the case even if the other chickens were normal (non-transgenic) birds.

Dr Tiley continued, "The decoy mimics an essential part of the flu virus genome that is identical for all strains of influenza A. We expect the decoy to work against all strains of avian influenza and that the virus will find it difficult to evolve to escape the effects of the decoy. This is quite different from conventional flu vaccines, which need to be updated in the face of virus evolution as they tend only to protect against closely matching strains of virus and do not always prevent spread within a flock."

Professor Douglas Kell, BBSRC Chief Executive, said: "Infectious diseases of livestock represent a significant threat to global food security and the potential of pathogens, such as bird flu, to jump to humans and become pandemic has been identified by the Government as a top level national security risk. The BBSRC funds world-class research to help to protect the UK from such eventualities and the present approach provides a very exciting example of novel approaches to producing disease-resistant poultry."

http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2011/01/110113141601.htm

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« Reply #2577 on: Jan 14th, 2011, 12:56pm »

Wall Street Journal

By MARGARET COKER
JANUARY 14, 2011, 1:47 P.M.

TUNIS—Tunisian Prime Minister Mohammed Ghannouchi announced on state television Friday he was temporarily assuming power and that President Zine el Abidine Ben Ali has left the country for Malta under Libyan protection.

The president earlier Friday had declared a state of emergency, dismissing the government and calling for elections within six months—the latest in a series of moves the longtime ruler had ordered to placate the eruption of public anger against his 23-year rule.

The surprising announcements came after riot police had dispersed thousands of Tunisians who had massed along one of the capital's main boulevards chanting "Get out Ben Ali."

The mood of the protesters was jubilant, with some expressing amazement that the month-long nonstop demonstrations have achieved long-sought political freedom.

"It's our hard-won victory," said Zied Mhirsi, a 33-year-old doctor.

more after the jump
http://online.wsj.com/article/SB10001424052748703959104576081441616883456.html?mod=e2tw

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« Reply #2578 on: Jan 14th, 2011, 4:12pm »

Girl Falls Into Mall Fountain While Texting
The scariest part about this security camera video is the proof that security guards are not only watching the stupid things you do, but they're sharing it on the internet with multiple angles.

http://tv.gawker.com/5733870/girl-falls-into-mall-fountain-while-texting
laugh

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« Reply #2579 on: Jan 14th, 2011, 6:25pm »

on Jan 14th, 2011, 4:12pm, john12345 wrote:
Girl Falls Into Mall Fountain While Texting
The scariest part about this security camera video is the proof that security guards are not only watching the stupid things you do, but they're sharing it on the internet with multiple angles.

http://tv.gawker.com/5733870/girl-falls-into-mall-fountain-while-texting
laugh



Hi John12345,

Poor woman, tongue

I assume they are always always always watching or filming or some such Big Brother activity. So don't pick your nose in the car!

And always wear clean underwear! I don't know what that has to do with anything but I always heard that from Mom so I had to throw it in there! grin

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