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 veryhotthread  Author  Topic: Stuff & Nonsense  (Read 91822 times)
Swamprat
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xx Re: Stuff & Nonsense
« Reply #3210 on: Mar 6th, 2011, 8:12pm »

Wow! It takes all kinds of people to make up this world of ours......sigh.


CNN

Road trip to the end of the world


By Jessica Ravitz, CNN
March 6, 2011 10:42 a.m. EST

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From Jacksonville to Tampa, Florida (CNN) -- If you thought you had less than three perfectly healthy months to live, what would you do? Would you travel? Spend time with loved ones? Appreciate the joy life has given you?

Or would you ditch your kids and grandkids, join strangers in a caravan of RVs and travel the country warning people about the end of the world?

If you're Sheila Jonas, that's exactly what you'd do.

"This is so serious, I can't believe I'm here," says Jonas, who's been on the road since fall. Like her cohorts, she's "in it 'til the end," which she believes is coming in May.

She won't talk about her past because, "There is no other story. ... We are to warn the people. Nothing else matters."
Such faith and concern drove her and nine others, all loyal listeners of the Christian broadcasting ministry Family Radio, to join the radio station's first "Project Caravan" team.

They walked away from work, families and communities in places as far-flung as California, Kansas, Utah and New Jersey. Among them are an electrician, a TV satellite dish installer, a former chef, an international IT consultant and a man who had worked with the developmentally disabled.

They gave away cars, pets, music collections and more to relatives, friends and neighbors. Some items they kicked to the curb. In homes that weren't emptied, clothes are still hanging in closets, and dishes, books and furniture -- including one man's antique collection -- are gathering dust.

Unless, of course, they've been claimed by others. If you believe it's all going to be over soon, why would it matter if you close the front door, much less lock it, when you walk away?

It's a mid-winter morning in Jacksonville, Florida, when CNN joins this faithful caravan. The "ambassadors," as they call themselves, are easy to spot. They are the 10 people milling about in an RV park drawing stares, eye rolls, under-the-breath mutters and, at times, words of support.

They're wearing sweatshirts and other clothing announcing the "Awesome News," that Judgment Day is coming on May 21. On that day, people who will be saved will be raptured up to heaven. The rest will endure exactly 153 days of death and horror before the world ends on October 21. That message is splashed across their five sleek, vinyl-wrapped RVs, bearing this promise: "The Bible guarantees it!"

Maneuvering onto the road with such a serious statement takes time and patience.

Caravans of RVs are crisscrossing the country spreading the "awesome news" of the end of the world.

Since this inaugural caravan team embarked on this doomsday journey, two other teams have set out elsewhere -- one is in Pennsylvania, another in Texas. A fourth and final group will soon follow.

They have been chosen by God to spread the news few understand, the ambassadors say. They liken themselves to biblical figures, including Jonah, who God commanded to warn the people of Nineveh of their city's destruction.

They say their work comes with ample precedence, that the God they believe in would never bring judgment on his people without warning them first. Their job is to "sound the alarm," they say, pointing to Ezekiel 33. Just by being out in their RVs, wearing their T-shirts, jackets and caps, and passing out their pamphlets -- which they call tracts -- they are fulfilling a mission.

The RVs pulled out of the Oakland, California, Family Radio headquarters in late October. The odometers are nearing 30,000 miles as this team, which first traversed the Pacific Northwest before weaving its way through the South, heads toward its next destination: Tampa, Florida.

But avast, ye scurvy readers, this isn't just any time in Tampa. Awaiting the ambassadors are, by some estimates, 400,000 people gathering for the Gasparilla Pirate Fest -- a Mardi Gras, of sorts, for throngs of drunken buccaneers.

Blanketing the world with doom

The ambassadors each remember the first time they heard Family Radio. Adam Larsen, 32, was a student in Phoenix, Arizona, working nights as a security guard with his Bible already open in front of him. Darryl Keitt, 51, remembers flipping through stations back in 1976, when he might have been sporting his 4-inch platform shoes, looking for disco music.

Team leader Fred Store, 65, was road tripping between Sacramento and Bakersfield, California, when he first tuned in to the station's inspirational music and talk 15 years ago.

John Gallegos, 75, found it five years earlier while driving a truck between Utah and Wyoming. And David Liquori, 45, was so taken when he stumbled upon it 28 years ago that he's gone stretches as long as three years in which he's listened all day, every day.

The voice that grabbed most of them belongs to Harold Camping, host of the program "Open Forum" and the force behind Family Stations Inc., home to Family Radio.

Starting with one station in Oakland, California, in 1959, Camping's Family Radio now boasts 66 stations across the United States. Thanks to strategically placed satellites, shortwave radio and the internet, the message has gone global in 61 languages.

"We pretty much blanket the whole world," says Camping, 89.
I know it's absolutely true, because the Bible is always absolutely true.

This degreed engineer, who calls the Bible his "university," believes the church age ended and the "Great Tribulation" (the years leading up to the end, he says) began on May 21, 1988, when Satan entered the pews. Truth, he says, can be found only in the Bible and not through the mouths of clergy.

http://www.cnn.com/2011/LIVING/03/06/judgment.day.caravan/index.html?hpt=C2
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xx Re: Stuff & Nonsense
« Reply #3211 on: Mar 7th, 2011, 08:17am »

Good morning Swamprat. cheesy

Well if the world is coming to an end in May we won't have to pay the IRS! YEA!!!!!!!!

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« Reply #3212 on: Mar 7th, 2011, 08:20am »

New York Times

March 7, 2011
Rebel Advance in Libya Set Back by Heavy Assault
By KAREEM FAHIM

AL UQAYLAH, Libya — With tanks, helicopters and fighter planes, troops loyal to Col. Muammar el-Qaddafi attacked rebel troops in the coastal town of Bin Jawwad on Sunday and pushed them east, stalling, for the moment, hopes by the antigovernment fighters of a steady march toward Tripoli.

By Monday, rebel forces said they were seeking to regroup but needed reinforcements, according to Mohamad Samir, an army colonel fighting with the rebels, quoted by The Associated Press. News reports on Monday said there had been a new air attack on the rebels at Ras Lanuf, where they had withdrawn after Sunday’s counter-offensive by loyalist forces.

The loyalist attack on Bin Jawwad began at about 9 a.m. on Sunday, said rebel fighters, who had to retreat down the main coastal road under a barrage of artillery shells, missiles and sniper bullets. Outgunned, the rebels fanned out in the desert and fought back, only to be forced to retreat again.

By 9 p.m., the road east from the city was full of fleeing rebel cars, including several pickup trucks mounted with heavy weapons. More than a dozen ambulances, ferrying wounded and dead rebel fighters, sped toward a hospital in a nearby town. Ambulance drivers and doctors said at least 10 people had been killed, though they expected that number to rise once they were able to reach Bin Jawwad.

A journalist for France24 television was wounded during the fighting, according to a photographer who saw him at a local hospital.

Outside of nearby Ras Lanuf, weary fighters gathered at gas stations, drank milk distributed by volunteers and tore at loaves of bread. Mahmoud Bilkhair, an army second lieutenant fighting with the rebels, sat in his car with other fighters, exhausted and staring out the window.

“We’re trying,” he said. “We’re not advancing. We can’t do anything about it.” But he and other fighters said they would regroup and return to Bin Jawwad.

The rebel defeat, just a day after they celebrated a major victory in taking the oil port at Ras Lanuf, fit into the emerging, grueling rhythm of a conflict where the combatants claim no clear advantage and fight, repeatedly, over a handful of prizes.

In the east, the rebels, full of enthusiasm but short on training and organization, are trying to capture Surt, a stronghold of Colonel Qaddafi that blocks the rebel path to Tripoli. They are also fighting to hold onto the city of Zawiyah, west of Tripoli, where they have accused the loyalists of committing a massacre.

Government troops, having ceded large, strategic parts of the country in recent days, are better armed but still on the defensive as they try to undo rebel gains.

The standoff in Zawiyah continued there on Sunday, a day after forces loyal to Colonel Qaddafi waged a heavy assault toward the city center, then pulled back to close off all roads out.

Rebels in nearby towns said mobile phone service to Zawiyah had been cut off completely and landline service was intermittent, making it hard to gather information. Secondhand reports through rebel networks on Sunday indicated Libyan Army tanks had once again moved into the center of the town.

An hour before dawn on Sunday, Tripoli also erupted in gunfire, the sounds of machine guns and heavier artillery echoing through the capital. It was unclear what set off the gunfire, but quickly, Qaddafi supporters took to the streets, waving green flags and firing guns into the air. Crowds converged on Green Square for a rally, with many people still shooting skyward.

Refugees continued to flee to neighboring countries, sometimes with tragic consequences. The authorities in Crete said that at least three Bangladeshi evacuees from Libya died Sunday after they tried to swim from a Greek ferry toward the island.

As of Friday, about 192,000 people had fled the country, according to the International Organization for Migration. Of those, 104,000 people had crossed into Tunisia and about 87,000 had fled to Egypt. More than 5,000 people are stranded at Libya’s border with Egypt, the organization said, including many Bangladeshis and Sub-Saharan Africans.

Eight British Special Forces soldiers were briefly taken captive by Libyan rebel forces in the east of the country, according to British news reports on Sunday.

The soldiers, from the elite Special Air Service, had been part of a team escorting a British diplomat to meet with Libyan rebels, according to The Sunday Times of London, which first reported on the incident. The newspaper cited anonymous Libyan and British sources and said the men had been held at a military base over the weekend.

Further reports later Sunday suggested that the eight men had been released and were aboard the Cumberland, a Royal Navy ship off the coast of Libya.

The British foreign secretary, William Hague, confirmed in a statement that “a small British diplomatic team” in Benghazi, a rebel-held city in eastern Libya, tried to “initiate contacts with the opposition” but “experienced difficulties, which have now been satisfactorily resolved.”

“They have now left Libya.” Mr. Hague said. The government declined to immediately provide further details.

As rebel leaders have pressed their efforts to form a shadow government in recent days, the focus of the revolutionaries, and their supporters, has shifted from Benghazi toward the fighters making their way west.

After successfully capturing Ras Lanuf, hundreds, and perhaps more than 1,000 rebel fighters were in Bin Jawwad overnight on Saturday. They managed to briefly push farther west, but came under a fierce attack about 9 a.m., the fighters said.

For most of the day, the battle raged in a small area east of the city. Rebel fighters fanned out along the sides of a road, sending squad-size units into the rocky terrain and small hills along the two-lane road in an effort to keep the loyalists from flanking them.

By nightfall, government forces seemed to have firm control of a small town and factory about a half mile east of Bin Jawwad. With mortars, heavy machine guns and tanks, they bombarded rebel positions for hours.

Airstrikes pounded the area through the day, and attack helicopters fired on rebel gatherings. There were lingering questions about the intentions of some of the pilots, who seemed to have missed easy targets in recent days. Early on Saturday, a warplane dropped a bomb east of Ras Lanuf, but it did not explode. Later, the plane bombed the same position again, but missed.

On the outskirts of Ras Lanuf on Sunday, the bodies of two pilots could be seen in the wreckage of their downed jet, which the rebels claimed they shot down on Saturday. The debris was scattered for hundreds of yards around the pilots, and one of them appeared to still be wearing his Libyan Air Force uniform.

In interviews, rebel fighters said the loyalists were using residents of Bin Jawwad as human shields, making women stand next to their houses. The rebels said they held back their fire as a result. But witnesses said that the rebels seemed to use every weapon at their disposal, including Katyusha rockets, multiple grenade launchers and antiaircraft guns as they tried to dislodge the loyalists. It was not enough.

Rebels have said they have been attacked repeatedly by foreign mercenaries hired by Colonel Qaddafi. But after the battle in Bin Jawwad, several rebel fighters said that though they saw mercenaries, many of the soldiers they faced were Libyans, wearing army uniforms. They said that for much of the day, it had been hard to determine who was firing at them, as they ran from repeated shellings.

As the rebels fell back, witnesses reported seeing bodies on the road. Rebels gave their own estimates of the dead: one man said he had seen two bodies, another said he had seen seven. Throughout the afternoon, there were rumors that reinforcements would be coming from Benghazi to help retake Bin Jawwad.

As the rebels retreated, they stopped to pick up about a half-dozen Filipino factory workers from the small town as the government advanced. The workers got into a pickup truck and were driven to safety.


Reporting was contributed by David D. Kirkpatrick from Tripoli, Libya; Tyler Hicks and Lynsey Addario near Bin Jawwad, Libya; and Ravi Somaiya from London.


http://www.nytimes.com/2011/03/08/world/africa/08libya.html?_r=1&hp

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« Reply #3213 on: Mar 7th, 2011, 08:24am »

New York Times

March 7, 2011
Talks to Resolve Wisconsin Battle Falter
By MONICA DAVEY

CHICAGO – Talks appear to have broken down between Wisconsin’s Democratic state senators and representatives of Gov. Scott Walker, whose plan to cut collective bargaining rights and benefits for public workers has created a major battle in the state, some of the Senate Democrats said on Sunday.

Senator Fred Risser, one of 14 Democrats who left Wisconsin last month to prevent the Republican-dominated Senate from approving the collective bargaining measure, said it now seemed conceivable that he and his fellow Democrats would return to Wisconsin, at some point in the future, without a negotiated compromise.

“We have always said we would go back eventually,” Mr. Risser said, adding that the Democrats had yet to make any decision about when to go back to Madison, a move that would open the way for a vote on the proposal by Mr. Walker, a Republican elected in November. “We will have accomplished some of our purpose – to slow things up and let people know what was in this bill.”

The Democrats left the state on Feb. 17, the day that a vote was expected on Mr. Walker’s measure in the state Senate. While Republicans control the chamber, they need 20 senators – and, thus, at least one Democrat – to take votes on fiscal matters.

If the Democrats return, the Republicans, who hold a 19-14 majority in the Senate, are expected to pass the measure. The Democrats say that while they cannot permanently block that outcome, they believe public opinion has turned against the measure and that the Republicans may lose their majority in a recall effort that is now underway against senators over this issue; recalls efforts are been mounted against both Republicans and Democrats in the Senate.

In recent days, the Democrats have been in conversations with Republican leaders over the issues most objectionable to the Democrats in Mr. Walker’s proposal – elements aimed at lessening the political power and bargaining rights of public sector unions.

But Mr. Walker, who has said his plans were needed to help solve the state’s current and future budget woes, has indicated that he would not be swayed on such issues. And after talks failed at the end of last week, some Democrats said they believed Mr. Walker would never consider removing collective bargaining rights from a broader package aimed at cutting pension and health care benefits to reduce the state’s deficit.

“He turned down any effort to compromise on the workers’ rights program,” Mr. Risser said.

Still, while a spokesman for Mark Miller, the Democrats’ leader in the Senate, acknowledged that there had been a “setback” in talks with the governor’s representatives, he also said that reaching some sort of negotiated deal remained a top priority for the senate Democrats.

“I don’t think anyone is willing to throw in the towel yet,” said Mike Browne, the spokesman for Mr. Miller.

A spokesman for Mr. Walker did not respond to a request for comment late Sunday.

http://www.nytimes.com/2011/03/08/us/08wisconsin.html?hp

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« Reply #3214 on: Mar 7th, 2011, 08:29am »

AOL news

Classified Docs Reveal UK Tried to Stop Worldwide UFO Investigation
Mar 7, 2011 – 7:35 AM
by Lee Speigel

When Britain released 8,500 pages of previously classified UFO files last week, one set of key documents quickly caught my attention and had a profound effect on me as it took me back in time 33 years.

The file includes many pages detailing the British government's attempt in 1978 to derail the country of Grenada's plan to convince the United Nations to form a special UFO study committee. The reason these documents resonated so strongly with me is because I'm the one who produced Grenada's UFO presentation at the U.N. all those years ago.

At the time, Grenada's prime minister, Sir Eric Gairy, was trying to generate U.N. interest in his UFO committee idea, but many member nations weren't paying a lot of attention to him. Meantime, after producing a documentary record album for CBS Inc. called "UFOs: The Credibility Factor," I wanted to take the early notion of UFO disclosure to the U.N.

more after the jump
http://www.aolnews.com/2011/03/07/classified-docs-reveal-uk-tried-to-stop-worldwide-ufo-investigat/

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« Reply #3215 on: Mar 7th, 2011, 08:37am »

Wired Danger Room

Darpa Gave $400,000 to Chief’s Family Firm
By Noah Shachtman and Spencer Ackerman
March 7, 2011 | 4:00 am
Categories: DarpaWatch

The Pentagon’s premiere research arm, Darpa, awarded a substantial contract to a company co-founded by the agency’s director and currently run by her father.

In a document dated Jan. 28, 2010, Darpa announced it was giving a $400,000 contract to RedXDefense. It’s a Maryland firm that specializes in explosives detection — and has usually close ties with Darpa and its current chief.

RedXDefense was co-founded in 2005 by Regina Dugan — who, since July 2009, has served as director of Darpa. Her father, Vince, currently serves as RedXDefense’s Chief Executive Officer. Her uncle, John, is on the company’s strategic advisory board. On the surface, those family connections give the deal between Darpa and RedXDefense the appearance of a potential conflict of interest. The story was first reported by AllGov.

Darpa insists that the company didn’t receive any special treatment, however. “At no time did Dr. Dugan participate in any dealings between the Agency and RedXDefense related to the contract,” Darpa spokesman Eric Mazzacone e-mails Danger Room. But he didn’t answer questions about whether the contract was awarded competitively or what the criteria were for giving RedXDefense its $400,000.

Upon becoming Darpa director, Mazzacone says, Dugan “recused herself” from any business dealings between the agency and her family’s company, preventing her from “personally and substantially participating in RedXDefense matters.” That recusal complies with department-wide ethics rules to ensure that “no potential performer is advantaged over another because of relationships with Darpa personnel.” When Danger Room asked if Dugan retains any stake in RedXDefense, Mazzacone invited us to “submit a FOIA [Freedom of Information Act] request for Dr. Dugan’s financial disclosure report.”

more after the jump
http://www.wired.com/dangerroom/2011/03/darpa-gave-400000-to-chiefs-family-firm/#

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« Reply #3216 on: Mar 7th, 2011, 08:45am »

Reuters

Moody's downgrade tips Greece closer to brink
By Angeliki Koutantou and Marius Zaharia
ATHENS/LONDON | Mon Mar 7, 2011 9:24am EST

(Reuters) - Moody's slashed Greece's credit rating by three notches on Monday due to an increased default risk, raising the spectre that the distressed euro zone sovereign may have to restructure its debt, perhaps before 2013.

The move increased pressure on euro zone leaders to ease repayment terms on bailout loans to Athens, just as Germany and its allies seem to have turned their backs on more radical steps to help it reduce its debt through bond purchases or buy-backs.

Moody's Investors Service downgraded Greek debt to B1 from Ba1 -- lower than Egypt -- and said it may cut further, drawing an indignant protest from the Greek Finance Ministry.

"The likelihood of a default or distressed exchange has risen since its last downgrade of the Greek government debt rating in June 2010," Moody's said in a statement.

European Monetary Affairs Commissioner Olli Rehn underlined the case for reducing interest rates paid by Greece and Ireland on rescue loans and extending the maturities to enable them to achieve debt sustainability.

The downgrade sent a ripple of concern around credit markets, raising the price of insuring Greek, Portuguese and Spanish debt against default and the risk premium on holding Greek bonds rather than benchmark German bunds.

The ratings agency cited significant risks to the government's fiscal consolidation program from a revenue shortfall and difficulties in reforming healthcare and state-owned companies.

Greece signed a 110 billion euros ($154 billion) rescue package with the EU and IMF last May to avoid default in exchange for draconian austerity measures which it has begun to implement. But many see the repayment terms as too onerous.

"The sheer magnitude of the task becomes ever more apparent," said Sarah Carlson, Moody's lead analyst on Greece.

Even if it fulfils the entire three-year adjustment program, its debt is projected to reach 158 percent of gross domestic product in 2013, a level widely seen as unsustainable.

"There is a risk that conditions attached to any kind of continuing support after 2013 could take solvency criteria into account that the country may not be able to satisfy, and therefore could result in a restructuring of existing debt," Carlson told Reuters.

"HIGHLY SPECULATIVE"

Moody's was the first of the three major ratings agencies to classify Greek debt as "highly speculative."

The Greek Finance Ministry said it had ignored progress in implementing its fiscal consolidation plan, including an improvement in revenue collection.

"The rating downgrade announced by Moody's today is completely unjustified," it said in a statement, warning that the downgrade would add to Greece's problems.

more after the jump
http://www.reuters.com/article/2011/03/07/us-eurozone-idUSTRE72345N20110307

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« Reply #3217 on: Mar 7th, 2011, 5:23pm »

Wired Danger Room

Darpa Chief Owns Stock in Darpa Contractor
By Noah Shachtman and Spencer Ackerman
March 7, 2011 | 1:47 pm
Categories: DarpaWatch


When Regina Dugan left her family business to head up Pentagon bleeding-edge research agency Darpa, she signed a form pledging to have nothing to do with her former firm, the military contractor RedXDefense. That formally recused Dugan from any business with the company. But the document, provided by the agency, shows that she kept her stock in RedXDefense, even as it won a $400,000 Darpa contract.


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Photo: Annette Polan, www.capitalartports.com, used with permission


Agency officials insist that Dugan abided by the terms of her recusal and had nothing to do with RedXDefense’s deal. But even if Dugan maintained a firewall between her government job and her old firm, open government groups say, her continued ownership of $15,000 or more in RedXDefense stock creates the potential for the appearance of a conflict of interest.

“She should have divested herself completely of stock in the company she founded, if only to avoid the appearance of impropriety,” says Nick Schwellenbach of the Project on Government Oversight. “Recusals are nice, but she should put her money where her mouth is: away from her old company.”

After Dugan left Darpa in 2000, she co-founded RedXDefense, a firm specializing in explosives detection, and led the firm until her 2009 appointment to lead the research agency. (Her father is now the company CEO, and her uncle sits on the RedXDefense advisory board.)

The day she officially re-joined Darpa as director — July 20, 2009 — Dugan signed a recusal form and sent it to the Pentagon’s director of research and engineering. Under the heading “Notice of Disqualification — Stock Ownership over the $15K” (sic), the form specifies that “effective immediately, I am disqualified from participating personally and substantially” from “any particular matter” that would impact RedXDefense’s bottom line.

It goes on to specify that Dugan will revise the recusal if “I sell my stock in RedXDefense, and the two (2) years from my date of appointment has expired,” or if she’s “no longer involved in any matter” that would have “a direct and predictable effect on the financial interest of RedXDefense.”

Six months later, on January 28, 2010, RedXDefense received a Darpa contract worth $400,000.

POGO’s Schwellenbach notes that other Pentagon officials have sold their stock in defense contractors once they joined the government. Gordon England, the one-time deputy defense secretary, divested himself of holdings in his former company, defense contractor General Dynamics — a move that cost England more than $1 million.

Danger Room has filed a Freedom of Information Act request for Dugan’s financial disclosure form, to learn precisely what stake in RedXDefense she maintains. According to her recusal form, Dugan deputized Robert Lehney, then Darpa’s deputy director, to screen “particular matters” coming into her office to ensure RedXDefense is uninvolved.

Darpa told Danger Room that Dugan didn’t have any involvement in RedXDefense’s 2010 contract with the agency, and that the agency’s top lawyer made sure the contract was aboveboard.

“At no time did Dr. Dugan participate in any dealings between the Agency and RedXDefense related to the contract,” agency spokesman Eric Mazzacone says.

It certainly wasn’t RedXDefense’s first contract with Darpa. According to a federal contracting database, before Dugan returned to Darpa to run the agency — she was a program manager from 1996 to 2000 — Darpa gave RedXDefense a similar research contract on February 24, 2009 worth $410,000, lasting through August 23. That followed a November 13, 2007 research contract worth $349,788, lasting through December 19, 2008.

RedXDefense has also received contracts from the Departments of the Army, Air Force and Navy for its signature explosives detection services between 2007 and 2010.

But those contracts were for substantially less money than its Darpa holdings. The highest award by far came from the Army in 2008 and was worth $163,000. Most of its other non-Darpa contract awards are worth in the low to middle five digits figure totals, like this Navy explosives detection contract from 2008, worth less than $21,000.

Dugan’s recusal form is here:
http://www.scribd.com/doc/50204048/Dugan-Disq-Memo

http://www.wired.com/dangerroom/2011/03/darpa-chief-owns-darpa-contractor-stock/#

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« Reply #3218 on: Mar 8th, 2011, 08:31am »

New York Times

March 7, 2011
Discord Fills Washington on Possible Libya Intervention
By DAVID E. SANGER and THOM SHANKER

WASHINGTON — Nearly three weeks after Libya erupted in what may now turn into a protracted civil war, the politics of military intervention to speed the ouster of Col. Muammar el-Qaddafi grow more complicated by the day — for both the White House and Republicans.

President Obama, appearing Monday morning with Australia’s prime minister, tried to raise the pressure on Colonel Qaddafi further by talking about “a range of potential options, including potential military options” against the embattled Libyan leader.

Despite Mr. Obama’s statement, interviews with military officials and other administration officials describe a number of risks, some tactical and others political, to American intervention in Libya.

Of most concern to the president himself, one high-level aide said, is the perception that the United States would once again be meddling in the Middle East, where it has overturned many a leader, including Saddam Hussein. Some critics of the United States in the region — as well as some leaders — have already claimed that a Western conspiracy is stoking the revolutions that have overtaken the Middle East.

“He keeps reminding us that the best revolutions are completely organic,” the senior official said, quoting the president.

At the same time, there are persistent voices — in Congress and even inside the administration — arguing that Mr. Obama is moving too slowly. They contend that there is too much concern about perceptions, and that the White House is too squeamish because of Iraq.

Furthermore, they say a military caught up in two difficult wars has exaggerated the risks of imposing a no-fly zone over Libya, the tactic discussed most often.

The American military is also privately skeptical of humanitarian gestures that put the lives of troops at risk for the cause of the moment, while being of only tenuous national interest.

Some of these critics seem motivated by political advantage. Others, including the chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, John Kerry, who is among Mr. Obama’s closest allies, warn of repeating mistakes made in Iraqi Kurdistan, Rwanda, and Bosnia and Herzegovina by failing to step in and halt a slaughter.

The most vocal camp, led by Senators John McCain, the 2008 Republican nominee for president, and Joseph I. Lieberman, the Connecticut independent and another hawk on Libyan intervention, say the central justification for establishing a no-fly zone over Libya is that the rebel leaders themselves are seeking military assistance to end decades of dictatorship.

It is hardly an effort to impose American will in the Muslim world, Mr. Lieberman argued in an interview on Monday.

“We have to try and help those who are offering an alternative future to Libya,” Mr. Lieberman said, sounding much like Mr. Obama at the White House on Monday. “We cannot allow them to be stifled or stopped by brutal actions of the Libyan government.”

But even the critics acknowledge that the best outcome would be for the United States not to go it alone, but join other nations or international organizations, in particular NATO, the Arab League or the African Union.

Mr. Lieberman and others argue that the risks of waiting may be far greater than the risk of an early, decisive military intervention. He acknowledged that as in Iraq, the United States might unleash an uncertain future of tribal rivalry and chaos, in a country that has no institutions prepared to fill the vacuum if Colonel Qaddafi is driven from power.

Yet, he argued: “It’s hard to imagine any new government growing out of this opposition that is worse than Qaddafi.”

On television Mr. McCain has made similar points, and portrayed Mr. Obama as indecisive and weak. But curiously, in a sign of the uncertainties about how the politics of an American intervention would play out, few of the potential nominees for the 2012 Republican presidential ticket have expressed a strong opinion.

For the administration, Mr. Kerry’s view is more troublesome, given that he is a normally a strong ally on foreign policy issues. He was a fierce critic of the war in Iraq, but he sees Libya as a different matter.

He has pushed the White House to do more — including “cratering” Libya’s airfields so the planes cannot take off.

Mr. Kerry, who was openly siding with officials who want the president to take a stronger public stance, said he was pushing the administration to “prepare for all eventualities” and warned that “showing reticence in a huge public way is not the best option.”

“You want to be prepared if he is bombing people, and killing his own people,” he said, referring to Colonel Qaddafi. The Libyan people, he said, would “look defenseless and we would look feckless — you have to be ready.”

He added: “What haunts me is the specter of Iraq 1991,” when former President George Bush “urged the Shia to rise up, and they did rise up, and tanks and planes were coming at them — and we were nowhere to be seen.”

“Tens of thousands were slaughtered,” Mr. Kerry said.

President Bill Clinton, he said, “missed the chance in Rwanda, and said later it was the greatest regret of his presidency, and then was too slow in Bosnia,” where the United States ended up using air power, also in the defense of a Muslim population.

Administration officials make the case that the focus on no-fly zones is overdone. “No-fly zones are more effective against fighters, but they really have limited effect against helicopters or the kinds of ground operations we’ve seen” in Libya, Ivo Daalder, the American ambassador to NATO, said Monday.

He added that “the overall air activity has not been the deciding factor” in fights between rebels and the loyalists and mercenaries surrounding Colonel Qaddafi.

It is possible that the mere talk of no-fly zones had some effect. Pentagon and military officials confirmed that sorties by aircraft loyal to the Qaddafi government had dropped by half over the past three days. There was no explanation for the change; it could have to do with maintenance, or a decision to fly helicopters, which are less provocative and harder to track.

The biggest voice of caution has been the most prominent Republican in Mr. Obama’s cabinet, Secretary of Defense Robert M. Gates. It was Mr. Gates who laid out last week the strongest case against intervention — a case that even some in the White House say privately they think may have been overstated to make a point about how military actions that look easy can quickly become complicated.

Mr. Gates forcefully warned Congress during budget testimony that the first act in imposing a no-fly zone would be an attack on Colonel Qaddafi’s air defenses, and that the step should only be taken if the United States was ready for a prolonged military operation that could cover all of Libya. He cautioned it might drain resources that are already overstretched in Afghanistan and Iraq, because Libya is such a large territory.

In interviews this week, even some military officials called Mr. Gates’s portrayal extreme. Executing a no-fly zone would not require covering the whole country. Most of the Libyan action would be along the coast, where the major cities now held by rebels are. Even so, the opening mission of imposing a no-fly zone would almost certainly include missile attacks on air defense sites of a sovereign nation, which some would indeed regard as an act of war.

Tactical issues aside, Mr. Gates is concerned, Pentagon officials say, about the political fallout of the United States’ attacking yet another Muslim country — even on behalf of a Muslim population. But he is cognizant of the No. 1 lesson of Iraq: That once the United States plays a major role in the ouster of a Middle Eastern leader, it bears responsibility for whatever state emerges in its place.

http://www.nytimes.com/2011/03/08/world/middleeast/08policy.html?_r=1&hp

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« Reply #3219 on: Mar 8th, 2011, 08:32am »

oops! The zoo is awake, be back in a bit.
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« Reply #3220 on: Mar 8th, 2011, 10:21am »

New York Times

March 7, 2011, 9:41 pm

Curious Accusations in S.E.C.’s Insider Case
By ANDREW ROSS SORKIN

Rajat K. Gupta, a former director of Goldman Sachs, is accused of passing on illegal tips to Raj Rajaratnam.The fact pattern looks bad, very bad.

Seconds after Rajat K. Gupta, then a director of Goldman Sachs, finished up a board call during which he learned that Warren E. Buffett had agreed to invest $5 billion in the firm, he picked up the phone and called his friend Raj Rajaratnam, regulators contend. Minutes later, Mr. Rajaratnam placed bets on shares of Goldman Sachs that netted his firm, the Galleon Group, $900,000.

The Securities and Exchange Commission, which accused Mr. Gupta of insider trading last week, says this happened not once, but repeatedly. He did the same thing at Procter & Gamble, where he was also a director, the S.E.C. claims.

Exactly what was said on these phone calls remains unknown. But if the S.E.C. proves its case, then Mr. Gupta, a respected management guru who once ran McKinsey & Company and advised the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, was routinely “disclosing their most sensitive and valuable secrets.”

Yet there is something curious about the accusations against Mr. Gupta, which came just days before Mr. Rajaratnam’s criminal trial, which is set to begin on Tuesday.

Given the seriousness of the claims — insider trading by an executive who had reached the upper echelons of corporate America — why not bring criminal charges against Mr. Gupta?

Well, that’s where the facts of the case get a little mushy, and they are starting to raise some questions among lawyers about the S.E.C.’s motivations.

“This is very unusual. It’s a red flag,” Kip Weissman, a partner at Luse Gorman Pomerenk & Schick in Washington and a former S.E.C. enforcement lawyer, said of the case.

Not only has the Justice Department not brought a criminal case, at least not yet, but the S.E.C. decided to bring its case in front of an administrative law judge instead of in a Federal District Court, where a defendant has full discovery rights. The S.E.C. is using a new provision in the Dodd-Frank Act to bring the case this way.

“It’s a little easier from an evidentiary perspective,” Mr. Weissman said, for the S.E.C. to bring the case in front of an administrative judge. “The evidentiary standard is lower,” he explained. “It’s certainly noteworthy that the S.E.C. brought the case in this forum.”

Indeed, statistically, it is notable: of the 26 Galleon-related cases the S.E.C. has brought, all have been brought in federal court. None have been brought in front of an administrative judge. As Mr. Weissman asked, somewhat rhetorically, “Why?”

The S.E.C.’s laundry list of allegations against Mr. Gupta raises some important questions:

Since the government had tapped Mr. Rajaratnam’s phones, were any of the conversations with Mr. Gupta that were cited by the S.E.C. recorded? It appears not.

In one instance, the S.E.C. said “telephone records and calendar entries” indicated only that “Gupta and Rajaratnam very likely had a telephone conversation.” Since when has “very likely” been considered enough to make a civil allegation?

Stranger still, nowhere in the S.E.C.’s filing does it contend that Mr. Gupta received any form of compensation for passing along insider trading tips to Mr. Rajaratnam. If that’s right, why would Mr. Gupta pass the information? (The S.E.C. does not have to show that Mr. Gupta benefited financially to prove its case.)

None of this is to suggest that the circumstantial evidence isn’t powerful. But it does raise red flags among legal experts trying to handicap exactly what the government has up its sleeve.

The running narrative among defense lawyers is this: The S.E.C. brought its case in front of an administrative judge to discredit Mr. Gupta to help the criminal case against Mr. Rajaratnam. But you have to imagine that if the evidence was truly overwhelming against him, Mr. Gupta might have sought to become a government witness to save himself. (People close to the case suggest that such a settlement offer had been on the table.)

Having said all that, there is something mystifying in the statement that Gary Naftalis, Mr. Gupta’s lawyer, made the day he was sued. “Mr. Gupta has done nothing wrong,” Mr. Naftalis said. “There is no allegation that Mr. Gupta traded in any of these securities or shared in any profits as part of any quid pro quo.”

Read those words again. He didn’t say Mr. Gupta didn’t pass on material nonpublic information or that he didn’t breach his fiduciary duty. All he said was that his client wasn’t getting paid to do so. Maybe Mr. Naftalis was going only for a short sound bite, but it is odd.

In October, Alan Lafley, the former chief executive of Procter & Gamble, described Mr. Gupta thusly. “I think of him like Thomas Aquinas,” the philosopher and priest.

The S.E.C. allegations may make him seem less like a saint, but not much like a sinner — at least not yet.

http://dealbook.nytimes.com/2011/03/07/curious-accusations-in-s-e-c-s-insider-case/?ref=business

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« Reply #3221 on: Mar 8th, 2011, 10:24am »

Telegraph

Judge rugby-tackles sex offender to foil escape bid

A judge rugby-tackled a sex offender to the ground to prevent him escaping from court, the Old Bailey heard today.

12:04PM GMT 08 Mar 2011

Judge Douglas Marks Moore wrestled Paul Reid twice as he ran out of the judge's door at Woolwich Crown Court last August.

Reid, 34, who had escaped from another court two years before, made his desperate bid for freedom after giving evidence in his trial, jurors heard.

''One thing stood between Paul Reid and freedom - the judge trying his case,'' said Rupert Gregory, prosecuting.

The main door of the court was locked for security reasons but the doors leading to the judge's corridor and the jury room were unlocked on safety grounds.

It was about 4.15pm and Reid had been giving evidence from the witness box during his trial on undisclosed matters.

Mr Gregory said: "The jury were just leaving when the defendant jumped up and ran across the clerk's bench to get to the judge's door.

"As he went through the door his honour Judge Marks Moore grabbed him round the throat to try to bring him down.

"Together they went down three steps and then Mr Reid broke free and ran down the judge's corridor.

"The judge gave chase. Just as Mr Reid was about to open a push-handle fire door, HHJ Marks Moore rugby tackled him around the throat and waist and brought him crashing to the ground, landing on top of him.

"He held him there, struggling and protesting, until the prison officers managed to catch up, secure him and return him to custody."

Mr Gregory added: "There is only one reason why a Crown Court judge would rugby-tackle a defendant to the ground - because he is trying to escape and the judge is the only person in any position to prevent that escape.

"The only thing preventing Paul Reid from pushing that fire door to the outside world was a judge in a wig and full robes."

Reid, originally from south London, denies escaping from Inner London Crown Court and attempting to escape from Woolwich Crown Court.

Mr Gregory told the jury: "The defendant was on both occasions properly in custody.

"He had no right to leave. Nobody told him he was free to leave either courtroom through any exit other than the door to the dock."

Reid had been sentenced to an indeterminate sentence for public protection with a minimum term of two years for indecent assault at Inner London.

He was taken to Brixton Prison but returned to Inner London 10 days later on December 22 2008 for an ancillary matter.

After the hearing, he left the dock handcuffed to a security officer.

But as they entered a corridor, Reid allegedly pinned the officer against a wall and elbowed him.

He managed to slip the handcuff off his wrist and ran through a door into a courtroom, through another door and out of a fire escape, said Mr Gregory.

Three months later, he was interviewed by police and told them the judge had told him he could go home.

"Of course the judge did nothing of the sort. That's why he left the dock handcuffed to an officer, heading towards the cells, not the front door," said Mr Gregory.

Judge Marks Moore is due to give evidence this afternoon.

http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/newstopics/howaboutthat/8368584/Judge-rugby-tackles-sex-offender-to-foil-escape-bid.html

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« Reply #3222 on: Mar 8th, 2011, 10:27am »

Wired Danger Room


Army Enlists ‘DNA Origami’ to Spot Outbreaks
By Madhumita Venkataramanan
March 8, 2011 | 8:00 am
Categories: Science!



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What do you get when you cross DNA, origami and the body’s natural defenses against disease? The Army’s newest way to spot smallpox outbreaks, apparently.

Billions of defense dollars have gone into the military’s quest for sensors that will sniff out “bio-warfare” molecules. But today’s technologies just don’t cut it. In our bodies though, these super-specific sensors for disease already exist; they’re called antibodies. Antibodies are built to hone in on unique bacterial or viral patterns to protect us from infections. So if you think about it, the solution seems pretty obvious. Why not use these tiny, tailored antibodies to spot their natural targets?

The Pentagon needs to produce these antibodies in large quantities for military use. Using proteins to build natural antibodies is not only tough, it is expensive and can only create short-lived products. There is no way these fragile molecules are going to stand up to war-zone pressures. The Army’s approach: use a DNA scaffold to build artificial antibodies. The idea is part of a suite of calls for research, issued late last month.

Imagine DNA simply as a building material like plastic, or wood. Scientists feel like they’ve got a pretty good handle on DNA structure: it’s determined by the sequence of its components. So all we have to do is play around with the sequences and we can fold our custom-made DNA building blocks into specific antibody-shapes.

Origami, which means “folding paper” in Japanese, is the act of transforming a flat sheet of material into a tiny, intricate sculpture, without the help of scissors or glue. In a radical piece of research in 2006, Paul Rothemund, at the California Institute of Technology, developed nanotechnology’s answer to the traditional Japanese art: DNA origami. The technique is pretty much exactly what it sounds like: you can transform a single strand of DNA into detailed, miniature two and three-dimensional shapes, simply by folding it. There’s no need for any snipping or pasting – all you need is DNA staples.

The way this works is that the desired shape is input into a software program. The program calculates which exact DNA staple sequences are needed to fold the scaffold into the right shape. Then, the DNA staples and the scaffold are all mixed up and heated. As they cool down, the staples tug at specific points on the scaffold strand, coaxing it into the shape we want. In this way, DNA origami has created a weird mix of things like 2-D smiley faces and dolphins as well as 3-D cubes.

And that’s how the Pentagon wants labs to create antibody sensors. In the next few years, a lab with government funding will make test-antibodies using DNA origami and see how efficiently they recognize their deadly targets. These sensors, when integrated into a portable device, will be used to spot things like Ebola, smallpox or flu in war zones. The “dual use” for this military application, i.e. why it should matter to the rest of us, is that the cheap version of these natural “disease sensors” will be a lifesaver in mainstream medicine.

http://www.wired.com/dangerroom/2011/03/army-enlists-dna-origami-to-spot-outbreaks/#

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« Reply #3223 on: Mar 8th, 2011, 10:30am »

Hollywood Reporter

Michael Chabon Sets Up 'Hobgoblin' Drama at HBO
11:56 PM 3/7/2011
by Lacey Rose


The project centers on a group of magicians and con men who use their skills at deception to battle Hitler and his forces during WWII.
HBO is getting into the business of magicians, con men and, yes, Hitler.

Michael Chabon and his wife, Ayelet Waldman, have set up the drama project, tentatively titled Hobgoblin, at HBO. The potential series centers on a group of magicians and con men who use their skills at deception to battle Hitler and his forces during World War II.

Le Grisbi Production’s John Lesher and Adam Kassan will serve as executive producers, with authors Chabon (Wonder Boys, The Yiddish Policemen’s Union) and Waldman (Bad Mother, Love and Other Impossible Pursuits) set to co-write and executive produce.

http://www.hollywoodreporter.com/news/michael-chabon-sets-up-hobgoblin-165212

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« Reply #3224 on: Mar 8th, 2011, 12:08pm »

Hey Swamp I found the best daily updates from Iraq/Afghanistan:

http://troopscoop.posterous.com/

troopscoop's posterous

Joanna Fox was born in 1941 in Brooklyn, New York, married in 1963, spent many years in Hawaii, and now divides her time between Florida and Michigan.
"I can't remember a time when I didn't love and admire our troops, and during the first Gulf War, I started "Operation Aloha" in Hawaii, sending care packages. Through "Operation Shoebox" in Florida, I continued my support, and now through "Operation Fox Box" I've made getting our troops' stories of success and accomplishments a priority, to reach as many Americans as possible.
There will be more support for the vital mission of our troops, when these stories can be read. Ignorance is our greatest danger. It's my greatest wish that these stories will find their way across the country."


March 8, 2011 Daily Afghan-Iraq Update/3-08-11
Dear Interested Reader,

U.S. Soldiers, AUP remember fallen Afghan brethren. Serving together in the Iowa NG is a family affair. Future PRT command team visits Ghazni. Tip leads forces to weapons cache in Paktya. TF Falcon focuses on resiliency. 62nd Medical Bde visits Panjshir water bottle plant.

Iraq: Integration Team develops new ways to fight. Soldiers take oath of citizenship at Camp Victory.

Joanna

~

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