Re: Stuff & Nonsense
« Reply #2749 on: Jan 31st, 2011, 08:32am »
New York Times
January 30, 2011 Political Crisis Starts to Be Felt Economically By NICHOLAS KULISH and SOUAD MEKHENNET
ALEXANDRIA, Egypt — An army tank stands guard at the port of Alexandria to make sure no one gets in. The bigger problem is that next to nothing is going out.
For four days now, containers arriving on ships have been stacking up at Egypt’s largest port, shipping company employees and truck drivers here said. With distribution networks barely functioning and the Internet down since Thursday night, much of business in Egypt has nearly ground to a halt.
While protests remain at the center of attention, as jets fly over Liberation Square and escaped prisoners instill fear in the public, the political crisis could turn into a humanitarian one if the current economic paralysis continues.
“A big part of the production system is government-run, and this is frozen, including many of the bakeries making the subsidized bread,” said Hoda Youssef, an economist at the Arab Forum for Alternatives, an independent think tank, and a lecturer at Cairo University. “Here in the short term — today, tomorrow, the coming few days — we might have a serious problem with shortages of food, water and fuel,” Ms. Youssef said.
Egypt was not a country with a wide margin between normalcy and crisis to begin with; it has long been susceptible to price pressures and rioting. And on Sunday there was anecdotal evidence that food prices were already rising.
At one Alexandria market in the western neighborhood of Agamy, the price of onions on Sunday had risen to about 60 cents for a kilogram, or about 2 pounds’ worth, from 25 cents. Tomatoes were up to about 85 cents a kilogram, from a quarter, and the price of a kilogram of beans had risen fivefold to about $1.70 from 35 cents.
Khaled M. Hanafy, an economic adviser to the Federation of Chambers of Commerce in Egypt, the umbrella group representing all the chambers in the country (or some four million businesses), said that while they had no figure for the economy’s losses, the cost of the disruptions had reached the billions of dollars.
“The effect was immediately felt by businesses because so many transactions are completed by the Internet, and particularly the sectors that deal with the outside world,” Mr. Hanafy said. Asked if the chamber’s leadership had raised concerns with the government, he said: “Nowadays, there is no government in office. You don’t have anyone to talk to.”
At the office of the Egyptian Navigation Company, a shipping business in a large, curving building across from the port, employees said the goods lifted off the ships with cranes were not leaving the premises.
“For four days, the goods have remained in there for security reasons,” said Islam Wagih, an assistant to the manager, adding that he had no idea when it would end. “It is not in our hands,” he said.
He was carrying bags of vegetables to take home at midday. “We are trying to provide for our families,” Mr. Wagih said. The security situation was also a worry with Mr. Wagih, who had not slept, he said, because he was helping to guard his neighborhood against looters until 5 a.m.
Ms. Youssef said the flights taking tourists out of the country were carrying off badly needed tourist money with them as well. “Egypt is highly dependent on tourism,” she said. Foreign direct investment would probably decline too, she said, as Egypt’s reputation for stability degenerated further.
“We did not get any new gas for the last two days,” said Mustafa Ahmad Hamadi, the owner of an Alexandria Mobil station, adding that he usually received about 2,600 gallons a day and now has only about 1,300 gallons left. He said that he had owned the station for 12 years, but has “never seen a situation like this before.”
“When I called the company, they told me there is no more distribution at this point and they don’t know when they can deliver again,” he said, as cars lined up for his remaining fuel and arguments broke out among customers despite employees’ efforts to keep them in line.
A taxi driver with two women waiting in the back seat said he had been to 12 gas stations since Saturday, and this was the only one with gas. “I am really worried,” said Muhammad Youssri Said, 29. “This car is the income for me and my family. No taxi, no money, no food.”
Adil Gabir, 43, a truck driver, had just left the port with cargo. “We are the first trucks that were allowed out of the port for the last two days,” he said. “Everything was stopped, and there are still huge problems.”
Many companies were still functioning, if below capacity. The Amreya Petroleum Refining Company could keep working because it has a pipeline connection to the port. It was operating with two shifts instead of the usual three, but employees felt the impact of the strife sweeping Egypt in the most personal and wrenching way.
While talking to reporters on Sunday, Salah Medin, 55, who works at the refinery, received a phone call telling him that its manager had been killed in the protesting.
“This is the price that we pay for freedom,” Mr. Medin said.
Re: Stuff & Nonsense
« Reply #2750 on: Jan 31st, 2011, 08:36am »
New York Times
January 31, 2011 Power Broker for Japanese Party Indicted By MARTIN FACKLER
NAKAGAMI, Japan — The power broker for the Japanese governing party, Ichiro Ozawa, was indicted on Monday for misreporting political funds, in a widely expected judicial move that could widen a rift in the party and fuel opposition calls for a new election.
The indictment could also open the way for an eventual trial of Mr. Ozawa, a shadowy operator who engineered the governing Democratic Party’s historic election win in late 2009, but who also symbolizes the murky money politics that many Japanese want to leave behind.
The prospect of an indictment had already divided party members over whether to demand Mr. Ozawa’s resignation, or force him to testify to Parliament about the funding irregularities. Prime Minister Naoto Kan, who largely excluded Mr. Ozawa’s supporters from his cabinet, had earlier hinted that Mr. Ozawa should resign if indicted.
The indictment could also strengthen public support for the opposition Liberal Democrats, who have vowed to use their control of the upper house to block legislation and force Mr. Kan to call a snap election. Mr. Ozawa’s money scandals have sapped the Democrats’ popularity, and helped force the abrupt resignation last year of Mr. Kan’s predecessor, Yukio Hatoyama.
Mr. Ozawa has so far vowed to fight any charges, and has refused calls from within his party to testify in Parliament. Several of his former aides have already been charged in connection with a 400 million yen, or $4.9 million, real estate deal that prosecutors say was used to hide political funds.
While Mr. Ozawa remains a potent political figure, the scandal has turned many in his party against him, and made him into something of a pariah in the local media. A grand jury-like panel of lay citizens ruled last year that Mr. Ozawa should be indicted after prosecutors had twice found insufficient evidence to press charges.
A similar funding scandal two years ago forced Mr. Ozawa to resign as party head, costing him a shot at being prime minister. Mr. Ozawa was not charged in that scandal.
Everyone should know that objects further away from the camera move more slowly than objects closer to the camera. That is called PARALLAX.
However, in this video, the city lights move faster than the man, wall, and tree which is closer to the camera. That is impossible. Also, the city lights move independently from the camera movement, that is not possible either. The city lights should be locked to the camera movement, and the man, wall, and tree should only be moving.
Hold your hand steady in front of your computer screen, close one eye, and move your head around... you will see the computer screen appears stationary while your hand moves around. That is how the city lights should move.
This video shows signs of being a composite.
Either a type of "green screen" or a "mask" was used to insert the city lights of Jerusalem into the scene. The man, the wall, and the tree were filmed first. Whoever made this video cut out the area around the man, above the wall, and next to the tree, and then inserted the city lights behind it.
You can get a good view of the "mask" or area that was cut out when you see the fake flash of light. When they created the fake light flash, they only increased the contrast of the city lights but not the rest of the scene (except for the edges of the man which is caused by blending the mask).
Also, light should not have reached the back right side of the man's jacket, that is impossible if the light is coming from the front. Also, if you look close at the image above you will see a dark shadow line along the right edge of the jacket too, that is impossible if the jacket is illuminated as well.
The lights are fake... there is no point source. It's just a magical increase in brightness on top of the scene.
Re: Stuff & Nonsense
« Reply #2752 on: Jan 31st, 2011, 08:42am »
China red-faced after footage of new fighter 'was from Top Gun'
Perhaps it was "a need, a need for speed", as Maverick and Goose once put it, but China's military have been embarrassed by accusations that instead of filming genuine footage of their latest fighter plane, they used a scene from the film Top Gun.
7:34PM GMT 30 Jan 2011
The footage showcasing the J-10 fighter, which showed an air-to-air missile destroying another jet, was aired last week during the main evening broadcast of the state-sponsored channel China Central Television.
Bloggers on internet message boards quickly picked up the similarities and the footage was removed from the CCTV website but not before the clip had been copied.
The Wall Street Journal then published a video which compared the two film sequences, with uncanny similarities.
The explosion is so similar that the fireball appears to form the same shapes and near-identical chunks of debris spray from the detonation and travel across the screen in what looks like the same way.
No one from the state broadcaster has admitted to the fraud but, if true, such a famous film would seem a poor choice from which to cull such material.
Top Gun was released in 1986 and was a hit, making a global star of Tom Cruise as the cocky pilot with the nickname Maverick and a co-pilot known as Goose.
It won an Oscar and was nominated for three more and took around £223m at the box office.
However, the success of the film did not - apparently - make the promoters of the People's Liberation Army Air Force pause to think before the footage was shown on January 23.
If the footage is a genuine fake, it would not be the first time that subterfuge has been used by China to try to improve its image.
Some of the more spectacular footage of the Beijing Olympic Games' opening ceremony, featuring fireworks creating "footsteps" across the city, were later shown to have been created digitally, and the young singer who starred in it "live" was actually miming to another girl's voice.
In 2007, Xinhua, another Chinese state broadcaster, was accused of using an X-ray image of Homer Simpson, the cartoon character, to depict a genetic link to multiple sclerosis.
Yet China is not alone.
Among other examples, Iran was said to have used Photoshop, the picture editing software, to add extra missiles to publicity footage in 2008.
If nuclear attack or civil breakdown ever threatens the United Kingdom, the heads of government and the military know where to go. Beneath the streets of London, deeper than the capitol’s famous tube system, exists a hidden bunker on constant standby.
Replete with blast doors, a broadcast studio and a giant screen resembling CNN’s massive touchscreen wall on The Situation Room, this nuclear safe house sits in wait for the end of the world. Welcome to the Ministry of Defence’s Crisis Command Center, subterranean England.
David Moore’s series The Last Things documents a complex to which no other photographer has ever gained access. According to Moore, the ministry’s official line is that the Crisis Command Center “doesn’t exist,” which is the case inasmuch as the policy of the ministry is not to discuss its facilities.
“I told the Ministry of Defence, ‘I am not a journalist, I am an artist,’” Moore said in a Skype interview. “That was very important. They needed to know I wasn’t doing an exposé.” Although Moore was unable to confirm or deny the fact, it is widely speculated that The Last Things documents the Pindar complex constructed beneath Whitehall in the 1990s.
As of today the facility has only been used for less-grandiose purposes as a communication center and to play out war-game scenarios. One gets the impression that it is an ill-timed response to a Cold War mentality, with its actual utility uncertain.
Prior to beginning the work in 2006, Moore enlisted the help of Angela Weight, former Keeper of Art at the Imperial War Museum in London. Together they lobbied ministry officials. “We had a series of meetings, slowly climbing the hierarchy of authority,” said Moore.
Always accompanied by a low-ranking officer, the photographer had a loose agreement about what he could and could not shoot. It was clear when certain doors were to remain locked.
“At a point, I wondered if I was being sold a lie — if I was being shown things that weren’t actually in operation,” he said. As the project progressed, however, his paranoia waned.
To this day, Moore is not certain why he was granted entry’ He was only told by a ministry official that his work “fell within operational guidelines.” By prior agreement, the ministry received several of Moore’s prints for its permanent art collection, which probably sweetened the deal.
Moore has been led to believe no other freelance photographer will ever gain access to the site, though interestingly, the ministry does employ its own in-house photographers, whose photos are presumably for use in internal reports.
Upon completion of the project, Moore and the Ministry of Defence convened for a censorship panel. No images could be — or have been — released without ministry approval.
“I was asked to digitally manipulate some of the images,” said Moore. “Door numbers [were redacted]. We haggled over descriptions and captions.”
As Weight describes in her afterword to The Last Things, “There was to be no compromise [on captions]; any form of linkage or association, such as the word ‘government’ for example, was firmly denied.”
The negotiations became part of Moore’s process. He came to think of these amendments as things added, not taken away: “I dedicate a page in the book to describing the changes I’ve made. I make it obvious.”
The Last Things continues Moore’s portfolio of works on secret and relevant state infrastructure. “My work is not nostalgic,” says Moore. “My photographs are always of live spaces. The crisis command center is not mothballed.” He’s previously taken a forensic view of the Britain’s Houses of Parliament and has since photographed the top-security jail cells for terrorist suspects inside Paddington Green Police Station, London. Moore is currently working on access to other classified sites that remain unnamed.
“My work shows hidden spaces,” he said. “I want to use photography as a democratic tool. Looking at state apparatus and panoptic sites, I see my work as an act of visual democracy.”
Re: Stuff & Nonsense
« Reply #2755 on: Jan 31st, 2011, 09:00am »
John Barry, James Bond Composer, Dies at 77 8:24 AM 1/31/2011 by Mimi Turner
LONDON -- Legendary James Bond composer John Barry died in New York on Sunday at the age of 77 after a heart attack, his family said in an announcement.
Barry, originally from Yorkshire, England, penned some of the most iconic movie soundtracks of the last forty years, among them Midnight Cowboy, Dances With Wolves, Out of Africa and Born Free, for which he won Oscars.
But he will be most remembered for his long relationship with the Bond franchise, where he was responsible for the soundtrack to 11 Bond movies including Goldfinger, From Russia With love and You Only Live Twice.
He was one of the most respected film musicians in the world, winning a total of five Oscars and being awarded a BAFTA fellowship in 2005. He was also awarded an Order of the British Empire honor by the Queen in 1999 for his services to British music.
Barry grew up in the North of England, where his father was a cinema owner and his mother a classically trained pianist. His early career involved launching the John Barry Seven and later working for EMI.
A statement released by his family said: "It is with great sadness that the family of composer John Barry announce his passing on the 30th of January 2011 in New York."
His longtime friend and Bond collaborator David Arnold also posted a message on Twitter to Barry fans.
"I am profoundly saddened by the news but profoundly thankful for everything he did for music and for me personally."