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 veryhotthread  Author  Topic: Stuff & Nonsense  (Read 151643 times)
WingsofCrystal
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xx Re: Stuff & Nonsense
« Reply #3105 on: Feb 27th, 2011, 10:46am »

The Hill

Left presses Obama to take a firmer stand on heated labor battles
By Mike Lillis
02/27/11 10:47 AM ET

Liberals on Capitol Hill are upping the pressure on President Obama to amplify his support for public workers in Wisconsin and beyond.

Although Obama sided with Wisconsin's public employees in their protest against a GOP plan to dissolve collective bargaining rights, a growing number of Democrats say he shouldn't stop there. Some want him to visit Madison as a show of solidarity with the protesters.

"He's made some statements, he should get credit for that," Rep. Keith Ellison (D-Minn.), co-chairman of the House Progressive Caucus told MSNBC Wednesday. "[But] we'd like to hear him make some more statements. I think President Obama should come to Wisconsin and stand with the workers."

Perhaps encouraged by such comments, other members of the Progressive Caucus are also prodding the president to use the bully pulpit more forcefully amid the labor battle.

"I appreciate the fact that President Obama came out in support of workers in Wisconsin," Rep. Chellie Pingree (D-Maine) said in an email, "but I would like to see him do more to stand by the public employees and what they're fighting for."

Another member of the Progressive Caucus, Rep. Judy Chu, agreed. The California Democrat urged Obama to take "as strong a stance" as possible to protect workers' rights nationwide.

"Collective bargaining helped create the middle class in this country by raising worker wages, increasing benefits and promoting work-life balance through the 5 day and 40 hour work week," Chu said in an email. "I hope President Obama will be as visible as possible on this issue."

The White House has so far resisted the Democrats' calls for Obama to intensify his involvement in the labor dispute. Asked Thursday if the president would join the protesters in Madison, White House spokesman Jay Carney punted.

"He spoke to the situation in Wisconsin and his views on it last week," Carney said, "and I'll leave it at that."

Citing a budget crisis, Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker (R) has proposed changes to the state's pension and healthcare systems that would hike costs for government employees. Walker also wants to revoke the collective bargaining powers of most unionized state workers.

Similar proposals have emerged in other states, including Indiana and Ohio, where Republican governors say they simply can't afford to sustain worker benefits at current levels.

"We've got to make a commitment to the future and ensure that my kids and kids all across the state aren't saddled with this burden for years down the road," Walker told Fox News this week.

The proposals have spurred a backlash from state workers, who have protested in the streets of Madison for almost two weeks. Labor advocates and liberal pundits have joined the fight, charging that the Republicans are more interested in busting up unions – which tend to support Democrats – than balancing budgets.

"What’s happening in Wisconsin is … a power grab — an attempt to exploit the fiscal crisis to destroy the last major counterweight to the political power of corporations and the wealthy," New York Times columnist Paul Krugman wrote Friday.

Obama last week acknowledged the fiscal troubles facing states, but he warned against balancing budgets on the shoulders of public-sector workers.

"They make a lot of sacrifices and make a big contribution," Obama told a Milwaukee TV station. "It's important not to vilify them or to suggest that somehow all these budget problems are due to public employees."

Walker's proposal, Obama charged, is "an assault on unions."

Some liberal Democrats said this week that, considering the upheaval in the Middle East and the looming budget battle in Washington, Obama's statements in support of union rights are ample.

"As the President deals with the looming threat of a government shutdown all the while staying on top of dynamic change occurring throughout the world, it's understandable that he may not be able to travel to Wisconsin himself," Rep. Hank Johnson (D-Ga.), a member of Progressive Caucus, said in an email.

Rep. Raul Grijalva (D-Ariz.) feels differently. The Progressive Caucus co-chairman said this week that Obama's words "are important," but "there is more to do."

"There's a bully pulpit there that the president has and I think it needs to be used – it needs to be used to rally national support," Grijalva said on a press call Wednesday sponsored by the Progressive Change Campaign Committee.

"I don't think you can turn the cheek on this one," he said. "This is one where you have to be very firm."


http://thehill.com/homenews/house/146307-left-presses-obama-for-firmer-stand-on-workers-rights


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xx Re: Stuff & Nonsense
« Reply #3106 on: Feb 27th, 2011, 10:58am »

Don't wear yourselves out over finding that MSNBC blurb on the UFO convention. Leslie Kean was on. She was a wee bit dismissive of the abduction/hybrid beliefs. They didn't even show the convention.
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« Reply #3107 on: Feb 27th, 2011, 11:07am »

New York Times

February 26, 2011
Regulation Lax as Gas Wells’ Tainted Water Hits Rivers
By IAN URBINA

The American landscape is dotted with hundreds of thousands of new wells and drilling rigs, as the country scrambles to tap into this century’s gold rush — for natural gas.

The gas has always been there, of course, trapped deep underground in countless tiny bubbles, like frozen spills of seltzer water between thin layers of shale rock. But drilling companies have only in recent years developed techniques to unlock the enormous reserves, thought to be enough to supply the country with gas for heating buildings, generating electricity and powering vehicles for up to a hundred years.

So energy companies are clamoring to drill. And they are getting rare support from their usual sparring partners. Environmentalists say using natural gas will help slow climate change because it burns more cleanly than coal and oil. Lawmakers hail the gas as a source of jobs. They also see it as a way to wean the United States from its dependency on other countries for oil.

But the relatively new drilling method — known as high-volume horizontal hydraulic fracturing, or hydrofracking — carries significant environmental risks. It involves injecting huge amounts of water, mixed with sand and chemicals, at high pressures to break up rock formations and release the gas.

With hydrofracking, a well can produce over a million gallons of wastewater that is often laced with highly corrosive salts, carcinogens like benzene and radioactive elements like radium, all of which can occur naturally thousands of feet underground. Other carcinogenic materials can be added to the wastewater by the chemicals used in the hydrofracking itself.

While the existence of the toxic wastes has been reported, thousands of internal documents obtained by The New York Times from the Environmental Protection Agency, state regulators and drillers show that the dangers to the environment and health are greater than previously understood.

The documents reveal that the wastewater, which is sometimes hauled to sewage plants not designed to treat it and then discharged into rivers that supply drinking water, contains radioactivity at levels higher than previously known, and far higher than the level that federal regulators say is safe for these treatment plants to handle.

Other documents and interviews show that many E.P.A. scientists are alarmed, warning that the drilling waste is a threat to drinking water in Pennsylvania. Their concern is based partly on a 2009 study, never made public, written by an E.P.A. consultant who concluded that some sewage treatment plants were incapable of removing certain drilling waste contaminants and were probably violating the law.

The Times also found never-reported studies by the E.P.A. and a confidential study by the drilling industry that all concluded that radioactivity in drilling waste cannot be fully diluted in rivers and other waterways.

But the E.P.A. has not intervened. In fact, federal and state regulators are allowing most sewage treatment plants that accept drilling waste not to test for radioactivity. And most drinking-water intake plants downstream from those sewage treatment plants in Pennsylvania, with the blessing of regulators, have not tested for radioactivity since before 2006, even though the drilling boom began in 2008.

In other words, there is no way of guaranteeing that the drinking water taken in by all these plants is safe.

That has experts worried.

“We’re burning the furniture to heat the house,” said John H. Quigley, who left last month as secretary of Pennsylvania’s Department of Conservation and Natural Resources. “In shifting away from coal and toward natural gas, we’re trying for cleaner air, but we’re producing massive amounts of toxic wastewater with salts and naturally occurring radioactive materials, and it’s not clear we have a plan for properly handling this waste.”

The risks are particularly severe in Pennsylvania, which has seen a sharp increase in drilling, with roughly 71,000 active gas wells, up from about 36,000 in 2000. The level of radioactivity in the wastewater has sometimes been hundreds or even thousands of times the maximum allowed by the federal standard for drinking water. While people clearly do not drink drilling wastewater, the reason to use the drinking-water standard for comparison is that there is no comprehensive federal standard for what constitutes safe levels of radioactivity in drilling wastewater.

Drillers trucked at least half of this waste to public sewage treatment plants in Pennsylvania in 2008 and 2009, according to state officials. Some of it has been sent to other states, including New York and West Virginia.

Yet sewage treatment plant operators say they are far less capable of removing radioactive contaminants than most other toxic substances. Indeed, most of these facilities cannot remove enough of the radioactive material to meet federal drinking-water standards before discharging the wastewater into rivers, sometimes just miles upstream from drinking-water intake plants.

In Pennsylvania, these treatment plants discharged waste into some of the state’s major river basins. Greater amounts of the wastewater went to the Monongahela River, which provides drinking water to more than 800,000 people in the western part of the state, including Pittsburgh, and to the Susquehanna River, which feeds into Chesapeake Bay and provides drinking water to more than six million people, including some in Harrisburg and Baltimore.

Lower amounts have been discharged into the Delaware River, which provides drinking water for more than 15 million people in Philadelphia and eastern Pennsylvania.

In New York, the wastewater was sent to two plants that discharge into Southern Cayuga Lake, near Ithaca, and Owasco Outlet, near Auburn. In West Virginia, a plant in Wheeling discharged gas-drilling wastewater into the Ohio River.

“Hydrofracking impacts associated with health problems as well as widespread air and water contamination have been reported in at least a dozen states,” said Walter Hang, president of Toxics Targeting, a business in Ithaca, N.Y., that compiles data on gas drilling.

Problems in Other Regions

While Pennsylvania is an extreme case, the risks posed by hydrofracking extend across the country.

There were more than 493,000 active natural-gas wells in the United States in 2009, almost double the number in 1990. Around 90 percent have used hydrofracking to get more gas flowing, according to the drilling industry.

Gas has seeped into underground drinking-water supplies in at least five states, including Colorado, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Texas and West Virginia, and residents blamed natural-gas drilling.

Air pollution caused by natural-gas drilling is a growing threat, too. Wyoming, for example, failed in 2009 to meet federal standards for air quality for the first time in its history partly because of the fumes containing benzene and toluene from roughly 27,000 wells, the vast majority drilled in the past five years.

In a sparsely populated Sublette County in Wyoming, which has some of the highest concentrations of wells, vapors reacting to sunlight have contributed to levels of ozone higher than those recorded in Houston and Los Angeles.

Industry officials say any dangerous waste from the wells is handled in compliance with state and federal laws, adding that drilling companies are recycling more wastewater now. They also say that hydrofracking is well regulated by the states and that it has been used safely for decades.

But hydrofracking technology has become more powerful and more widely used in recent years, producing far more wastewater. Some of the problems with this drilling, including its environmental impact and the challenge of disposing of waste, have been documented by ProPublica, The Associated Press and other news organizations, especially out West.

And recent incidents underscore the dangers. In late 2008, drilling and coal-mine waste released during a drought so overwhelmed the Monongahela that local officials advised people in the Pittsburgh area to drink bottled water. E.P.A. officials described the incident in an internal memorandum as “one of the largest failures in U.S. history to supply clean drinking water to the public.”

In Texas, which now has about 93,000 natural-gas wells, up from around 58,000 a dozen years ago, a hospital system in six counties with some of the heaviest drilling said in 2010 that it found a 25 percent asthma rate for young children, more than three times the state rate of about 7 percent.

“It’s ruining us,” said Kelly Gant, whose 14-year-old daughter and 11-year-old son have experienced severe asthma attacks, dizzy spells and headaches since a compressor station and a gas well were set up about two years ago near her house in Bartonville, Tex. The industry and state regulators have said it is not clear what role the gas industry has played in causing such problems, since the area has had high air pollution for a while.

“I’m not an activist, an alarmist, a Democrat, environmentalist or anything like that,” Ms. Gant said. “I’m just a person who isn’t able to manage the health of my family because of all this drilling.”

And yet, for all its problems, natural gas offers some clear environmental advantages over coal, which is used more than any other fuel to generate electricity in the United States. Coal-fired power plants without updated equipment to capture pollutants are a major source of radioactive pollution. Coal mines annually produce millions of tons of toxic waste.

more after the jump
http://www.nytimes.com/2011/02/27/us/27gas.html?ref=science

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« Reply #3108 on: Feb 27th, 2011, 11:10am »

Hollywood Reporter

'The Last Airbender' Named Worst Film at Razzie Awards
12:04 AM
2/27/2011 by Philiana Ng

M. Night Shyamalan earns worst director; Ashton Kutcher and Sarah Jessica Parker named worst actors.

M. Night Shyamalan's The Last Airbender topped the 31st annual Razzie Awards, which took place in a ceremony Saturday.

The film was named Worst Picture, and was victorious in a new category, Worst Eye-Gouging Mis-Use of 3D. In addition, Airbender took home trophies for Worst Director, Worst Screenplay and Worst Supporting Actor for Jackson Rathbone, who also appeared in Razzie-nominated film, The Twilight Saga: Eclipse.

Sex and the City 2 was also a big winner at the Razzies, which recognize the worst achievements in film of the past year. Sarah Jessica Parker took home a Golden Raspberry for Worst Actress, while the ensemble earned Worst Screen Ensemble/Worst Screen Couple. Sex and the City 2 was named Worst Sequel.

Ashton Kutcher earned the Worst Actor nod for Killers and Valentine's Day, while Jessica Alba won for Worst Supporting Actress for her work in Little Fockers, Machete, The Killer Inside Me and Valentine's Day.

Unlike last year's Razzies, where Worst Actress -- and eventual Oscar winner -- Sandra Bullock, who won for All About Steve, accepted her Golden Raspberry onstage, no winners were present to accept their awards.

http://www.hollywoodreporter.com/news/last-airbender-named-worst-film-162008

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xx Re: Stuff & Nonsense
« Reply #3109 on: Feb 27th, 2011, 2:25pm »

Sent to me by my brother-in-law:

One of the older technicians at work was telling me a story today about a pistol that was in his in-laws family.

He tells me that his wife's late father, who was a Marine in the battle of Iwo Jima, had brought back his pistol from the war. I'm thinking, ok must be a nice old 1911 model, one that has probably seen more than a few soldiers hands. Then comes the rest of the story...

Turns out that the guy's father-in-law had a camera with him in his sack, and had taken some pictures of when they raised the flag on Mt. Suribachi. He submitted his photo, but it was not chosen as the one that is now famous. The family still has this picture hanging in their living room.

A few days after the flag raising, the Japanese attacked the Marines, and another fight broke out. As they are in the middle of everything, a Japanese sniper takes a shot at him. The bullet hits him in the right wrist, and hits his gun hanging from his belt. The round, after completely disabling his right hand, penetrates his leather pistol holster, and embeds itself into the slide of his 1911. Fragments from the round penetrate through the other side of the holster, and into his leg, injuring him further. The marine was able to get to the medic, where he was then evacuated to care for his injuries.

So the technician asks me if I would like to see it. After telling him the obvious, he calls his wife's brother and asks if he could bring it up to the shop.

Here are the pictures I took after listening to the same story again from the Marine's son. (It was a good story; I had no problem listening twice!)
I asked him if he would mind me posting them, as long as I blocked out the serial number. He said go right ahead.

Although I had to blur out the serial #, it fell into the early/mid 600,000 range. Found this at Colt: S/N 450,000 to 629,500 = Oct. 24, 1918 to April 10, 1919

The Marine's name was Horace Arthur Smith, "Arty"; he passed away 3 years ago.

R.I.P.

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xx Re: Stuff & Nonsense
« Reply #3110 on: Feb 27th, 2011, 3:14pm »

on Feb 27th, 2011, 2:25pm, Swamprat wrote:
Sent to me by my brother-in-law:

One of the older technicians at work was telling me a story today about a pistol that was in his in-laws family.

He tells me that his wife's late father, who was a Marine in the battle of Iwo Jima, had brought back his pistol from the war. I'm thinking, ok must be a nice old 1911 model, one that has probably seen more than a few soldiers hands. Then comes the rest of the story...

Turns out that the guy's father-in-law had a camera with him in his sack, and had taken some pictures of when they raised the flag on Mt. Suribachi. He submitted his photo, but it was not chosen as the one that is now famous. The family still has this picture hanging in their living room.

A few days after the flag raising, the Japanese attacked the Marines, and another fight broke out. As they are in the middle of everything, a Japanese sniper takes a shot at him. The bullet hits him in the right wrist, and hits his gun hanging from his belt. The round, after completely disabling his right hand, penetrates his leather pistol holster, and embeds itself into the slide of his 1911. Fragments from the round penetrate through the other side of the holster, and into his leg, injuring him further. The marine was able to get to the medic, where he was then evacuated to care for his injuries.

So the technician asks me if I would like to see it. After telling him the obvious, he calls his wife's brother and asks if he could bring it up to the shop.

Here are the pictures I took after listening to the same story again from the Marine's son. (It was a good story; I had no problem listening twice!)
I asked him if he would mind me posting them, as long as I blocked out the serial number. He said go right ahead.

Although I had to blur out the serial #, it fell into the early/mid 600,000 range. Found this at Colt: S/N 450,000 to 629,500 = Oct. 24, 1918 to April 10, 1919

The Marine's name was Horace Arthur Smith, "Arty"; he passed away 3 years ago.

R.I.P.

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What a story! Thanks Swamprat. That pistol is something to see. Yes, r.i.p. he earned peace and blessings.
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« Reply #3111 on: Feb 27th, 2011, 3:49pm »

Some local news about the UFO Congress meeting at Fort McDowell/Phoenix AZ:




posted 26 February 2011

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« Reply #3112 on: Feb 27th, 2011, 3:52pm »

UFO Digest

Why was MUFON Colo SD Leslie Varnicle fired?
Mystery solved!

Submitted by Elaine Douglass on Sun, 02/27/2011 - 13:00

The information in this communication has been obtained by the Committee to
Reform MUFON (CRM) through interviews with some of the parties involved. The
information is true to the best of CRM's ability to determine.

Why was Colorado State Director Leslie Varnicle fired?

To the Members of Colorado MUFON-

The mystery of why Colorado State Director Leslie Varnicle was
fired has been solved. For starters, it had to do with James Carrion and
whether he was to blame for MUFON losing its contract with Robert Bigelow.
James resigned in January 2010, and after that the view circulated in MUFON
was that James' "mismanagement of the funds" had been the cause for Bigelow
terminating the contract after $334,000 of the promised $672,000 had been
paid.

It was in November 2009 that Bigelow descended on MUFON
demanding an accounting of the money. This threw the MUFON Board of
Directors into a panic and they gave up the books of MUFON, and the books of
the Bigelow project, to Bigelow to audit. It didn't mollify him. He
terminated the arrangement which had been in effect the previous ten
months-the arrangement in which Bigelow paid wages and expenses to MUFON's
Star Team investigators and administrators, and in which Bigelow had
unrestricted real time access to MUFON CMS (computer Case Management
System).

The MUFON Board didn't tell James, the International Director,
what it was doing to try to appease Bigelow, and when James found out, he
resigned. After that, people got the idea James was incompetent or even that
he might have stolen money from the project.

Leslie Varnicle asked too many questions

In an interview, Leslie Varnicle says at first she went along
with the idea it had all been James's fault, but then, "I started looking
and checking and researching," she says, "and talking with James. I have
learned over the years to follow my senses, and initially my senses were
telling me No, it hadn't been James's fault, but I went along with what I
was being fed [by the Board]; I was drinking the Kool-Aide."

She says she started asking Cliff and other Board members questions, such
as: "If James did all these things wrong, why didn't the Board know it?
Didn't you watch him?" she wanted to know. And "Didn't you have an
accountant looking at the books?"

"The idea James had stolen money was implied, but when it come down to the
facts hitting the floor, I found that No, he hadn't. As a matter of fact,
the $30,000 salary James was supposed to get he contributed back to MUFON.
Eventually," Leslie says, "I came to the realization James had been thrown
under the bus."

She didn't believe much of what the Board of Directors said

Leslie Varnicle had become disillusioned with MUFON. And the
scape-goating of James Carrion wasn't the only reason. Leslie didn't like
that "the states are not part of MUFON" and have no say in how MUFON is run.
She pushed to get Colorado MUFON incorporated into International but the
Board of Directors wanted no part of that. Leslie says the Board was eager
to get money from the states but hesitated because that might entitle the
states to a greater say in MUFON's affairs.

She tried to get MUFON to purchase an insurance policy to cover
investigators, but the Board would have none of that. Leslie, who is in the
insurance business, says the policy would have been "inexpensive" to
purchase.

Leslie tried to become a member of the Board of Directors but the Board
wanted no part of her. They claimed she didn't make enough money to pay for
all the travel involved. Her response was to develop Webinar for MUFON use
and she advocated electronic internet teleconferencing to permit the Board
to meet without travel, and that idea went nowhere.

Leslie definitely did not like the marginalizing of the states
after the Star Team came in and the states got only the "lights in the sky"
cases, and she didn't like the secrecy surrounding the Star Team
investigations. She didn't like the "background checks" of MUFON
investigators that began to be required and she didn't like the Star Team
administrators barking out orders and their rudeness. She felt she was a
competent investigator, after 41 years in MUFON, and she believed her
regular team in Colorado was qualified to carry out any investigation in
MUFON.

She didn't like the secrecy and the background checks.

more after the jump
http://www.ufodigest.com/article/why-was-mufon-colo-sd-leslie-varnicle-fired-mystery-solved

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« Reply #3113 on: Feb 28th, 2011, 08:43am »

New York Times

February 28, 2011
Libya Blames Islamic Militants and the West for Unrest
By DAVID D. KIRKPATRICK and KAREEM FAHIM

TRIPOLI, Libya — In the face of a mounting international outcry for the ouster of Col. Muammar el-Qaddafi and sanctions to force him out, the Libyan authorities blamed Islamic radicals and the West on Monday for a conspiracy to cause chaos and take over the country.

At the same time, there were new reports of fighting with the rebels claiming that they had shot down a military aircraft on Monday as they repulsed a government bid to take back Libya’s third city, Misurata, 125 miles east of Tripoli. There, as in Zawiyah, 30 miles to the west, government forces seem to have encircled rebels but have been unable to dislodge them.

The increasingly tense standoff has prompted a huge exodus of poorly-paid contract workers streaming to Libya’s borders with Tunisia and Egypt. The United Nations refugee agency called the situation a humanitarian emergency as workers hefting suit-cases of possessions stood in long lines to leave Libya, many of them uncertain how they would finally get home.

At a news conference for foreign journalists invited to Tripoli, a government spokesman, Musa Ibrahim, denied reports that Colonel Qaddafi’s loyalists had turned their guns on hundreds of civilians. “No massacres, no bombardments, no reckless violence against civilians,” he said, comparing Libya’s situation to that of Iraq before the American-led invasion in 2003.

But his words seemed unlikely to stem a growing chorus of international voices calling on Colonel Qaddafi to leave power. The French prime minister, François Fillon, told the RTL broadcaster that the French government was studying “all solutions to make it so that Colonel Qaddafi understands that he should go, that he should leave power.”

British Prime Minister David Cameron also declared: “It’s time for Colonel Qaddafi to go.”

The European Union will adopt sanctions on Libya later on Monday, said Catherine Ashton, the European Union’s foreign policy chief, including “an embargo on equipment which might be used for internal repression” and other limits on the assets of the Libyan government, news agencies reported. Meanwhile, Germany, acting on its own, offered a proposal to cut off all financial payments to Libya for 60 days, Reuters said.

As the financial noose appeared set to tighten further around Colonel Qaddafi and his government, Libya had brought 130 foreign journalists to Tripoli to show that the loyalists had nothing to hide, the spokesman said. The visit came a day after defecting officers in the east of the vast, desert nation took steps to establish a unified command while their followers in the rebel-held city of Zawiyah, just outside the leader’s stronghold in the capital, displayed tanks, Kalashnikovs and antiaircraft guns.

Mr. Ibrahim said reports of massacres by government troops were analogous to those suggesting that Saddam Hussein had developed unconventional weapons in Iraq, suggesting that they were designed as a reason for military attack.

“The Islamists want chaos; the West also wants chaos,” he said, maintaining the West wanted access to Libya’s oil and the Islamists wanted to establish a bridgehead for international terrorism. “The Iraq example is not a legend — we all lived through it. Doesn’t this remind you of the whole Iraq scenario?” he said.

Later on Monday, the authorities, keen to show calm prevailing, took reporters on a tour that included Roman ruins at Sabratha, 40 miles west of Tripoli, where a pro-Qaddafi crowd chanted slogans. Afterwards, a member of the crowd was asked by a reporter whether he had been paid to demonstrate in favor of the government. “Yes,” he replied, suggesting that he harbored sentiments other than those he had chanted in the slogans supportive of Colonel Qaddafi. “And, believe me, we will get our freedom.”

The official Libyan arguments have become familiar as Colonel Qaddafi’s opponents seem to gain ground, and world powers, meeting on Monday in Geneva, seek to increase pressure to force him from power. The focus of the diplomacy is a meeting of the United Nations Human Rights Council, to be attended by leaders including Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton.

Referring to Libya, the head of the human rights body, Navi Pillay, demanded in a speech on Monday that: “The rights of the protesters must be upheld and asylum seekers, migrants and other foreign nationals fleeing the violence must be protected,” news agencies reported.

But Mr. Ibrahim insisted that Libya still sought some kind of gradual political opening as suggested by the colonel’s son, Seif al-Islam el-Qaddafi.

“We are not like Egypt or Tunisia,” the spokesman said. “We are a very Bedouin tribal society. People know that and want gradual change.”

Reporters told him that, on Sunday, they had visited Zawiyah, 30 miles from Tripoli, and saw no evidence of Islamist forces. “They knew you were coming,” the spokesman said. “They were hiding those with an obvious Al Qaeda look.”

The news conference came after a day of increasing self-confidence among the rebels, who spoke of tapping revenue from the vast Libyan oil resources now under their control — estimated by some oil company officials to be about 80 percent of the country’s total. And in recognition of the insurrection’s growing power, Italy’s foreign minister on Sunday suspended a nonaggression treaty with Libya on the grounds that the Libyan state “no longer exists,” while Secretary of State Clinton said the United States was reaching out to the rebels to “offer any kind of assistance.”

On Sunday, the most striking display of strength was seen in Zawiyah, one of several cities near the capital controlled by rebels, who have repulsed repeated attempts by Colonel Qaddafi’s forces to retake them. And the arsenal they displayed helped to explain how the rebels held Zawiyah.

“Army, army, army!” excited residents shouted, pointing to a defected soldier standing watch at Zawiyah’s entrance as he raised his machine gun in the air and held up two fingers for victory.

A few yards away a captured antiaircraft gun fired several deafening salutes into the air, and gleeful residents invited newcomers to clamber aboard one of several army tanks now in rebel hands. Residents said that when Colonel Qaddafi’s forces mounted a deadly assault to retake the city last Thursday — shell holes were visible in the central mosque and ammunition littered the central square — local army units switched sides to join the rebels, as about 2,000 police officers had done the week before.

And on Sunday, scores of residents armed with machine guns and rifles joined in a chant that has become the slogan of pro-democracy uprisings in Tunisia, Egypt, Bahrain, Yemen and across the Arab world: “The people want to bring down the regime!”

The opposition’s display came as a global effort to isolate Colonel Qaddafi and possibly force his resignation gained momentum over the weekend, with the United Nations Security Council moving to impose punitive financial sanctions and NATO allies discussing steps that included a possible no-fly zone over Libya.

But with their increasing firepower, the rebels appeared to break the pattern of nonviolent revolts set by neighboring Egypt and Tunisia and now sweeping the Middle East — just as Colonel Qaddafi has shown a willingness to shed far more of his citizens’ blood than any of the region’s other autocrats.

The maneuverings by both sides suggested they were girding for a confrontation that could influence the shape of other protest movements and the responses of other rulers who feel threatened by insurrections. Colonel Qaddafi’s militias, plainclothes police and other paramilitary forces have kept the deserted streets of Tripoli under a lockdown.

And residents of Zawiyah said Sunday that his forces were massing again on its outskirts. As a caravan of visiting journalists left Zawiyah, a crowd of hundreds of Qaddafi supporters waving green flags and holding Qaddafi posters blocked the highway for a rally against the rebels. “The people want Colonel Muammar!” some chanted.

In interviews with ABC News, two of Colonel Qaddafi’s sons appeared to mix defiance and denial. “The people — everybody wants more,” said Saadi el-Qaddafi, apparently dismissing the public outcry for a more accountable government. “There is no limit. You give this, then you get asked for that, you know?”

He described the uprisings around the region as “an earthquake” and predicted, “Chaos will be everywhere.” If his father left, he said, Libya would face a civil war “one hour later.”

His brother Seif seemed to challenge journalists to look for signs of unrest. “Please, take your cameras tomorrow morning, even tonight,” he said. “Everything is calm. Everything is peaceful.”

But when government-paid drivers and minders took visiting journalists on an official tour to visit here Sunday morning, they found a town firmly in rebel hands, where Libyan officials and military units did not even try to enter. It was the second consecutive day that an official tour appeared to do more to discredit than bolster the government’s line, and questions arose about the true allegiance of the official tour minders, who appeared to mingle easily with people of rebel-held Zawiyah. Some suggested that the Qaddafi government might in fact have believed its own propaganda: that the journalists would discover in Zawiyah radical Islamists or young people crazed by drugs supplied by Osama bin Laden.

more after the jump
http://www.nytimes.com/2011/03/01/world/africa/01unrest.html?ref=world

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« Reply #3114 on: Feb 28th, 2011, 08:47am »

Telegraph

Takeaway meal: golden eagle snatches lamb from hillside

The majestic golden eagle spreads its 8ft wingspan and glides over a Scottish mountainside with a bloodied lamb seemingly effortlessly grasped in its talons.

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A golden eagle snatches a lamb on the Isle of Mull
Photo: KETTS NEWS



By Simon Johnson
7:00AM GMT 28 Feb 2011

This extraordinary picture, taken on the Isle of Mull, is believed to be the first photograph of one of the giant birds of prey snatching livestock from farmers’ flocks.

It was taken by a birdwatcher, who did not want to be named or reveal the precise location, near Ben More, for fear the eagles’ nests would be targeted by angry hill farmers.

There are only 30 breeding pairs north of the Border and special protection areas were designated last year following outcry over the discovery of some poisoned carcasses.

“There were a few other cars parked close by and some eagles circling, possibly by an eyrie,” said the birdwatcher.

“Suddenly this massive eagle swooped into view. We could see it was carrying something beneath it and my wife, who had binoculars, thought it was a white mountain hare.

“As it got closer, I said to her, ‘That’s no hare, it’s a lamb’. It was a very unusual sight and a bit sad for the lamb, but that’s nature. It’s certainly a sight that neither of us will forget.”

The unlucky animal is likely to have been snatched from the 1,700-strong flock of Donald MacLean, who farms 10,000 acres on the island.

He said: “This is a hugely significant photograph, catching the eagle in the act. It proves eagles are carrying off lambs, evidence that farmers need to make their point.”

Victorians hunted golden eagles to extinction, but they were reintroduced to Scotland from Norway in 1975. The birds kill large prey by dropping it from a great height.

However, farmers are more concerned about a recent programme to bring back white-tailed sea eagles. It was claimed that Britain’s largest bird of prey took more than 200 lambs on one Highland peninsula in a single year.

An official study that involved the radio-tagging of 58 lambs found none was taken by a sea eagle, but its findings were dismissed by crofters.

http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/uknews/8350393/Takeaway-meal-golden-eagle-snatches-lamb-from-hillside.html

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« Reply #3115 on: Feb 28th, 2011, 08:52am »

Wired

Feb. 28, 1935: Sheer Bliss
By Tony Long
February 28, 2011 | 7:00 am
Categories: 20th century, Chemistry, Inventions



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Image: DuPont


1935: Nylon is produced for the first time.

Credit for the creation of this versatile synthetic goes to Wallace Carothers, a chemist who headed up DuPont’s Experimental Station laboratory in Delaware.

Nylon is a synthetic fiber made from coal, water and air. Its first demonstrated use was as a toothbrush bristle in 1938. With the coming of World War II, however, nylon turned up almost everywhere: in parachutes, flak vests, combat uniforms and tires, among other things. It also became a staple in fabrics, carpets and ropes. In its solid form, nylon is also used as an engineering material.

But its most celebrated use, perhaps, is in women’s stockings, where it has helped fuel the erotic fantasies of young men for several generations.

Carothers didn’t live to see his discovery put to any practical use. He killed himself using cyanide in 1937 at age 41.

http://www.wired.com/thisdayintech/2011/02/0228nylon-patented/#

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« Reply #3116 on: Feb 28th, 2011, 08:55am »

Defense News

S. Korea, U.S. Start War Games Amid Threat From North
By JUNG SUNG-KI
Published: 28 Feb 2011 07:50

SEOUL - The militaries of South Korea and the United States began their annual joint command-post/theater-wide field exercises Feb. 28, as tension on the Korean Peninsula has risen with North Korea's fresh threatening to open fire on border facilities in the South.

The Key Resolve/Foal Eagle exercises involve about 200,000 South Korean and 12,300 U.S. forces here, according to U.S. Forces Korea (USFK) and Seoul's Joint Chiefs of Staff (JCS). Of them, about 10,500 U.S. troops came from units stationed outside of the peninsula.

International observers from the Neutral Nations Supervisory Commission will observe the exercises to validate the defensive nature of the trainings conducted, USFK said in a statement.

North Korea regularly condemns the joint exercises as a rehearsal of invading the regime.

The Key Resolve exercise is a simulation-driven, defense-oriented combined command-post exercise intended to evaluate the allied forces' capability to receive forces from bases outside the country in the case of an emergency. The exercise is scheduled to end March 10.

The Foal Eagle combined field exercise, which will involve massive ground, air and naval drills, is to continue through April 30. A U.S. nuclear-powered aircraft carrier is scheduled to take part in the Foal Eagle.

According to USFK and JCS officials, this year's exercises will focus more than in previous years on defending against small, sudden attacks like the North's alleged torpedoing of a South Korean warship and its shelling of a border island last year.

The allied forces will also expand training exercises to eliminate weapons of mass destructions (WMDs) in North Korea when contingency situations occur, according to the officials. In support of the anti-WMD exercise, hundreds of professionals from the U.S. 20th Support Command of Maryland will be deployed to South Korea.

Other North Korean contingency scenarios to be addressed during the South Korean-U.S. drills include the potential smuggling of WMDs in the North, a sudden regime collapse, a civil war provoked by revolt or coup, a mass inflow of North Korean refugees, South Korean hostages being held in North Korea, and natural disasters.

According to South Korean and U.S. intelligence sources, North Korea has shown signs of internal turmoil in recent months following a father-to-son succession being underway and severe food shortages.

North Korea authorities reportedly arrested some military officers recently on charges of treason. The officers revolted, protesting the lack of food distribution, according to reports.

Seoul and U.S. military authorities neither confirmed nor denied the unrest in the North.

North Korea threatened "all-out war" in response to the South Korean-U.S. joint exercises and the resumption of psychological warfare campaign by the Seoul government.

"Our army will stage a direct fire at sources of the anti-DPRK psychological warfare to destroy them on the principle of self-defense, if such actions last despite our repeated warning," said a statement carried by the North's Korean Central News Agency.

South Korea revived a propaganda campaign earlier this year across the heavily fortified border - a practice it had suspended since 2004.

According to Rep. Song Young-sun of the Future Hope Alliance, a conservative minor opposition party, the South Korean military sent balloons carrying 620-millio-won worth humanitarian supplies, such as medicine and clothes, across the border in February.

The balloons also carried leaflets with the news of civil uprisings against repressive regimes in Tunisia, Egypt and Libya in an effort to help isolated North Korean citizens get the information of the outside world, said Song.

Anti-communist activists in the South have also used helium balloons to smuggle U.S. dollar notes, DVDs and leaflets denouncing the North's regime.

Since the March 26 sinking of the South Korean Cheonan warship, the Seoul government pledged the resumption of psychological warfare operations.

To that end, the South Korean Army has set up 11 loudspeakers along the Military Demarcation Line. But the loudspeaker propaganda campaign has yet to start.

In December, South Korea lit up a giant Christmas tree on top of a border hill near the North as part of its psychological warfare tactics.

About 100,000 colorful light bulbs were lit on the tree-shaped, 30-meter-high steel tower at Aegibong peak, which is 165 meters above sea level, on the western border with the North.

Aegibong is just 3 kilometers away from North Korean territory and the 30-meter structure, which is used to celebrate both Christmas and Buddha's Birthday.

It had been an annual ritual for the South to light up the Aegibong Christmas tree before it was suspended in 2003 under a reconciliation agreement with the North to end bilateral border propaganda activities.

The luminous structure served as a symbol of the prosperous South in contrast to the destitute North.

http://www.defensenews.com/story.php?i=5825443&c=ASI&s=LAN

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« Reply #3117 on: Feb 28th, 2011, 08:58am »

Science Daily

Brain's 'Reward' Center Also Responds to Bad Experiences

ScienceDaily (Feb. 28, 2011)

— The so-called reward center of the brain may need a new name, say scientists who have shown it responds to good and bad experiences. The finding, published in PLoS One, may help explain the "thrill" of thrill-seeking behavior or maybe just the thrill of surviving it, according to scientists at Georgia Health Sciences University and East China Normal University.

Eating chocolate or falling off a building -- or just the thought of either -- can evoke production of dopamine, a neurotransmitter that can make the heart race and motivate behavior, said Dr. Joe Z. Tsien, Co-Director of GHSU's Brain & Behavior Discovery Institute.

Scientists looked at dopamine neurons in the ventral tegmental area of the mouse brain, widely studied for its role in reward-related motivation or drug addiction. They found essentially all the cells had some response to good or bad experiences while a fearful event excited about 25 percent of the neurons, spurring more dopamine production.

Interestingly neuronal response lasted as long as the event and context was important, Tsien said. Scientists used a conditioned tone to correlate a certain setting with a good or bad event and later, all it took was the tone in that setting to evoke the same response from the dopamine neurons of mice.

"We have believed that dopamine was always engaged in reward and processing the hedonic feeling," Tsien said. "What we have found is that dopamine neurons also are stimulated or respond to negative events."

Just how eating chocolate or jumping off a building induces dopamine production remains a mystery. "That is just the way the brain is wired," Tsien said. He notes that genetics can impact the number of cells activated by bad events -- and while interpretation of the findings needs more work -- they could help explain inappropriate behaviors such as drug addiction or other risky habits.

In a second paper in PLoS One, Tsien and his colleagues at Boston University have provided more insight into how brains decide how much to remember good or bad. Inside the hippocampus, where memory and knowledge are believe to be formed, recordings from hundreds of mouse brain cells in a region called CA1 showed all are involved in sensing what happens, but not in the same way.

They found among most cells a big event, such as a major earthquake, evoked a bigger sensory response than a mild earthquake. But slightly less than half the cells involved logged a more consistent neural response to all events big and small. These are called invariant cells because of their consistent firing regardless of event intensity. Tsien said these cells are critical in helping the brain remember those events.

The initial muted sensory response was followed by the cells replaying what they just experienced. It's that reverberation that corresponds with learning and memory. "If they play it over and over, you can remember it for a long time," Tsien said of these memory makers.

But these invariant cells vary in that some keep replaying specific memories while the majority focus on more general features of what occurred. "The general-knowledge cells have the 'highest volume,'" Tsien said. "So we walk away with general knowledge that will guide your life, which is more important than the details."

As with the number of dopamine cells that respond to bad or risky behavior, genetics likely plays a role in an individual's specific ratio of cells involved in encoding general versus more detailed memories, Tsien said. A person with a photographic memory likely has more of the specific memory makers while those with autism or schizophrenia, who have difficulty coping in society, may have fewer of the general memory makers that help provide correct context and understanding of complex relationships.

http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2011/02/110222121913.htm

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« Reply #3118 on: Feb 28th, 2011, 12:50pm »

on Feb 27th, 2011, 2:25pm, Swamprat wrote:
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Oh, wow! That gun has been heavily damaged by that bullet. shocked

Thanks for sharing.

soldier impersonators target women on Facebook

LOUISVILLE, Ky. — Scamsters are targeting women on Facebook in what's becoming an all-too-common ruse: They steal photos of soldiers to set up profiles, profess their love and devotion in sappy messages — and then ask their victims to cut a check.

Army Sgt. James Hursey, 26, discharged and sent home from war in Iraq to nurse a back injury, found a page with his photos on Facebook — on a profile that wasn't his. It was fake, set up by someone claiming to be an active-duty soldier looking for love.

Military officials say they've seen hundreds of similar cases in the past several years. Some of the impersonators have even used photos of soldiers who have died overseas.

"It's identity theft, really, if you think about it," said Hursey, of Corbin, Ky., a married father of a 2-year-old.

1.
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The impersonator using Hursey's photos portrayed himself as a soldier named "Sergent (sic) Mark Johnson." The fake followed the same steps every time: Send a friend request, immediately express undying love and affection, and ask for money.

The fake's cover was blown, though: Janice Robinson, 53, of Orlando, Fla., knew something wasn't right when the man professed his love to her and signed every message with, "Johnson cares." She had begun talking to him thinking he was one of several people named Mark Johnson that she knew.

"I said, 'How can you say you love me? You don't even know me. You are insane,'" she told The Associated Press in a telephone interview. "... You could tell the guy in the picture was young. I'm 53 years old. You can look at my picture and tell I'm not 20."

...

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http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/41810534/?gt1=43001
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« Reply #3119 on: Feb 28th, 2011, 12:52pm »

"Nobody Wins a Nuclear War" But "Success" is Possible

Washington, D.C., February 19, 2011 - "The Power of Decision" may be the first (and perhaps the only) U.S. government film depicting the Cold War nightmare of a U.S.-Soviet nuclear conflict. The U.S. Air Force produced it during 1956-1957 at the request of the Strategic Air Command. Unseen for years and made public for the first time by the National Security Archive, the film depicts the U.S. Air Force's implementation of war plan "Quick Strike" in response to a Soviet surprise attack against the United States and European and East Asian allies. By the end of the film, after the Air Force launches a massive bomber-missile "double-punch," millions of Americans, Russians, Europeans, and Japanese are dead.

Colonel Dodd, the narrator, asserts that "nobody wins a nuclear war because both sides are sure to suffer terrible damage." Despite the "catastrophic" damage described by a SAC briefer, one of the film's operating assumptions is that defeat is avoidable as long as the Soviet Union cannot impose its "will." The last few minutes of the film suggest that the United States will prevail because of its successful nuclear air offensive. One of the characters, General "Pete" Larson optimistically asserts that the Soviets "must quit; we have the air and the power and they know it." It is the Soviets, not the United States, who are sending out cease-fire pleas, picked up by the CIA.

Little is known about the production or subsequent distribution of "The Power of Decision." It was probably used for internal training purposes so that officers and airmen could prepare for the worst active-duty situation that they could encounter. Perhaps the relatively unruffled style of the film's performers was to help serve as a model for SAC officers if they ever had to follow orders that could produce a nuclear holocaust.

This film is from a DVD supplied by the U.S. National Archives' motion picture unit and is hosted by the Internet Archive's Moving Images Archive. Read the Air Force Descriptive Index Card.

View the complete film below or watch a four-minute clip of the film on the Archive's YouTube channel.

...

Read more and watch the vids here:
http://www.gwu.edu/~nsarchiv/nukevault/ebb336/index.htm
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