Re: Stuff & Nonsense
« Reply #3375 on: Mar 19th, 2011, 10:39am »
Wired Danger Room
Most Dangerous Week Ever By Spencer Ackerman March 18, 2011 | 6:48 pm Categories: Blog Bidness
Welcome to your third simultaneous war, America, now that the United Nations Security Council blessed a no-fly zone in Libya to protect the Libyan rebels. (At those rebels are learning to take their stories viral.) Meanwhile, U.S. allies who mercilessly slaughter their own people get muted criticism from Washington. Oh, and we’re going to be in Afghanistan pretty much forever. And Japan’s natural disasters have become a radiological disaster. Did you feel like this week was giving you the finger or was that just us?
What else? Your shoes might get scanned for explosives at the airport. Terrorists are getting inspiration from the library and they’ve started SMSing their threats. And since drones are the perfect weapon for endless conflicts, they’ve joined the war on drugs. Hopefully they won’t discover our weekend plans.
Re: Stuff & Nonsense
« Reply #3377 on: Mar 19th, 2011, 10:43am »
Friday Box Office: 'Limitless' Pulls Ahead of Crowded Field 9:16 PM 3/18/2011 by Pamela McClintock
The Bradley Cooper starrer tops new openers "Lincoln Lawyer" and "Paul," as well as holdovers "Rango" and "Battle: Los Angeles."
UPDATED: Relativity Media’s Bradley Cooper starrer Limitless pulled ahead at the Friday night box office in an otherwise close race between three new films — including Limitless — and a pair of holdovers.
If interest holds, Limitless could capture the weekend box-office crown with an opening weekend gross of between $15 million and $18 million. The film looked to gross between $5.5 million and $6.3 million on Friday.
The two other new films, Lionsgate’s Matthew McConaughey legal thriller The Lincoln Lawyer and Universal’s sci-fi comedy Paul, looked to gross $4 million to $4.5 million on Friday, not that far ahead of Paramount holdover Rango and Sony’s Battle: Los Angeles.
After Limitless, it’s too soon to say what the final weekend lineup will be. Paramount’s Rango could come in No. 2 or No. 3 for the weekend since it’s a family film. Sony’s Battle: Los Angeles also could come in No. 2.
But no one was taking bets, considering how close the contest was on Friday. Some were predicting a weekend gross of $14 million to $16 million for Rango and Battle, and a $12 million to $13 million weekend gross for Paul and Lincoln Lawyer.
Across Hollywood, rival studios also were talking about Lionsgate’s Groupon offering for $6 Lincoln Lawyer tickets, and how it would impact reported grosses. Lionsgate counters that only about 20,000 tickets have been redeemed, which equals about $160,000 in grosses — not enough to move the needle. Lionsgate views the Groupon as a promotional tool.
Paul is playing in 2,801 theaters, Limitless, 2,756, and Lincoln Lawyer, 2,707.
Final Friday numbers will be available Saturday morning.
Re: Stuff & Nonsense
« Reply #3378 on: Mar 19th, 2011, 10:50am »
New Blood Analysis Chip Could Lead to Disease Diagnosis in Minutes ScienceDaily (Mar. 18, 2011) —
A major milestone in microfluidics could soon lead to stand-alone, self-powered chips that can diagnose diseases within minutes. The device, developed by an international team of researchers from the University of California, Berkeley, Dublin City University in Ireland and Universidad de Valparaíso Chile, is able to process whole blood samples without the use of external tubing and extra components.
Photograph of the stand alone 1x2 inch SIMBAS chip simultaneously processing five separate whole-blood samples by separating the plasma from the blood cells and detecting the presence of biotin, or vitamin B7. (Credit: Ivan Dimov)
The researchers have dubbed the device SIMBAS, which stands for Self-powered Integrated Microfluidic Blood Analysis System. SIMBAS appeared as the cover story March 7 in the peer-reviewed journal Lab on a Chip.
"The dream of a true lab-on-a-chip has been around for a while, but most systems developed thus far have not been truly autonomous," said Ivan Dimov, UC Berkeley post-doctoral researcher in bioengineering and co-lead author of the study. "By the time you add tubing and sample prep setup components required to make previous chips function, they lose their characteristic of being small, portable and cheap. In our device, there are no external connections or tubing required, so this can truly become a point-of-care system."
Dimov works in the lab of the study's principal investigator, Luke Lee, UC Berkeley professor of bioengineering and co-director of the Berkeley Sensor and Actuator Center.
"This is a very important development for global healthcare diagnostics," said Lee. "Field workers would be able to use this device to detect diseases such as HIV or tuberculosis in a matter of minutes. The fact that we reduced the complexity of the biochip and used plastic components makes it much easier to manufacture in high volume at low cost. Our goal is to address global health care needs with diagnostic devices that are functional, cheap and truly portable."
For the new SIMBAS biochip, the researchers took advantage of the laws of microscale physics to speed up processes that may take hours or days in a traditional lab. They note, for example, that the sediment in red wine that usually takes days to years to settle can occur in mere seconds on the microscale.
The SIMBAS biochip uses trenches patterned underneath microfluidic channels that are about the width of a human hair. When whole blood is dropped onto the chip's inlets, the relatively heavy red and white blood cells settle down into the trenches, separating from the clear blood plasma. The blood moves through the chip in a process called degas-driven flow.
For degas-driven flow, air molecules inside the porous polymeric device are removed by placing the device in a vacuum-sealed package. When the seal is broken, the device is brought to atmospheric conditions, and air molecules are reabsorbed into the device material. This generates a pressure difference, which drives the blood fluid flow in the chip.
In experiments, the researchers were able to capture more than 99 percent of the blood cells in the trenches and selectively separate plasma using this method.
"This prep work of separating the blood components for analysis is done with gravity, so samples are naturally absorbed and propelled into the chip without the need for external power," said Dimov.
The team demonstrated the proof-of-concept of SIMBAS by placing into the chip's inlet a 5-microliter sample of whole blood that contained biotin (vitamin B7) at a concentration of about 1 part per 40 billion.
"That can be roughly thought of as finding a fine grain of sand in a 1700-gallon sand pile," said Dimov.
The biodetectors in the SIMBAS chip provided a readout of the biotin levels in 10 minutes.
"Imagine if you had something as cheap and as easy to use as a pregnancy test, but that could quickly diagnose HIV and TB," said Benjamin Ross, a UC Berkeley graduate student in bioengineering and study co-author. "That would be a real game-changer. It could save millions of lives."
"The SIMBAS platform may create an effective molecular diagnostic biochip platform for cancer, cardiac disease, sepsis and other diseases in developed countries as well," said Lee.
Other co-lead authors of the study are Lourdes Basabe-Desmonts, senior scientist at Dublin City University's Biomedical Diagnostics Institute, and Jose L. Garcia-Cordero, currently post-doctoral scientist at École Polytechnique Fédérale de Lausanne (EPFL Switzerland). Antonio J. Ricco, adjunct professor at the Biomedical Diagnostics Institute at Dublin City University, also co-authored the study.
The work was funded by the Science Foundation Ireland and the U.S. National Institutes of Health.
Re: Stuff & Nonsense
« Reply #3379 on: Mar 19th, 2011, 8:07pm »
I ran across this on the internet from the gentleman that started TokyoPop, Stu Levy. He was very impressed with teen students he met while helping with the disaster in Japan. He asks that people send snail mail to the students with encouragement, artwork, etc.
Students of Takasago c/o Stu Levy Tokyo Towers, Mid-Tower 4918 6-3-2 Kachidoki, Chuo-Ku Tokyo, Japan 104-0054
Re: Stuff & Nonsense
« Reply #3382 on: Mar 20th, 2011, 08:20am »
New York Times
March 20, 2011 2 Survivors Are Found 9 Days After Disaster in Japan By NORIMITSU ONISHI
TOKYO — As Japan struggled to contain the damage at its crippled nuclear complex on Sunday, two people were reported to have been found alive, nine days after a devastating earthquake and tsunami.
An 80-year-old woman and her 16-year-old grandson were found under the debris of their home in Ishinomaki City, about 30 miles northeast of the city of Sendai, according to Miyagi Prefecture police officials and the public broadcaster NHK.
The youth, identified as Jin Abe, crawled out of the debris of the family home and was found by local police, who called rescuers to free his grandmother, Sumi Abe, NHK reported. Both were hospitalized but details of their condition were not immediately available.
Their rescue came as work continued at the nuclear plant. Earlier Sunday, officials announced — but then quickly scrapped — plans to release more radioactive gases into the air to relieve pressure at its most troubled reactor.
The Tokyo Electric Power Company and the Japan Self-Defense Forces focused their efforts on Reactor No. 3 at the Fukushima plant, some 170 miles north of Tokyo, which contains a highly toxic fuel that includes reclaimed plutonium.
Attempts to cool the reactor — broadcast on television nonstop as firefighters doused it with 2,400 tons of water over 14 hours — appeared to initially suffer a serious setback as officials at the Nuclear and Industrial Safety Agency said that pressure buildup would require the venting of gases.
But at a news conference a few hours later, officials from the power company said that the pressure had stabilized and they had canceled the release of gases, which would have heightened worries about a wider contamination among the population. They said that spraying seawater into the reactor may have initially caused the pressure to rise.
Those fears reached Tokyo a day earlier with the announcement by the government that it had found higher than normal levels of radioactivity in spinach and milk at farms about 90 miles away from the power plant, the first confirmation that the unfolding nuclear crisis has affected the nation’s food supply.
The government said it would announce on Monday whether to restrict the sale of foodstuffs from that region.
The government said Sunday that the power company and the Self-Defense Forces were making progress in their efforts to get the troubled reactors at the Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power Station under control.
“In general, our utmost efforts are producing definite results in preventing a worsening of the situation,” said Yukio Edano, the government’s chief cabinet secretary. Mr. Edano also confirmed for the first time that the nuclear complex — already inoperable because of the use of seawater to cool its overheating reactors — would be closed once the crisis is over.
After connecting a mile-long electrical transmission line Saturday, workers made progress in starting to restore power to the plant, which will allow the operator to restart its cooling system. The government said that power was returned to Reactor No. 2 at 3:46 p.m. Sunday, and other reactors were also expected to come online early in the week.
In addition, for the first time, 11 fire trucks sprayed seawater into Reactor No. 4, a unit that had particularly worried American nuclear regulators. American officials said the unit’s pool for spent fuel rods appeared to contain little or no water, creating the risk of a meltdown.
Meanwhile, the National Police Agency on Sunday raised the official death toll to more than 8,100 from the 9.0-magnitude earthquake and ensuing tsunami that slammed into the country’s northeastern coast on March 11. The final toll is now expected to reach nearly 20,000. At a news conference, police officials in Miyagi, the prefecture hit hardest by the tsunami, said they expected the final toll there alone to exceed 15,000.
Re: Stuff & Nonsense
« Reply #3383 on: Mar 20th, 2011, 08:23am »
New York Times
March 19, 2011 Stress Test for the Global Supply Chain By STEVE LOHR
TONY PROPHET, a senior vice president for operations at Hewlett-Packard, was awakened at 3:30 a.m. in California and was told that an earthquake and tsunami had struck Japan. Soon after, Mr. Prophet had set up a virtual “situation room,” so managers in Japan, Taiwan and America could instantly share information.
Mr. Prophet oversees all hardware purchasing for H.P.’s $65-billion-a-year global supply chain, which feeds its huge manufacturing engine. The company’s factories churn out two personal computers a second, two printers a second and one data-center computer every 15 seconds.
While other H.P. staff members checked on the company’s workers in Japan — none of whom were injured in the disaster — Mr. Prophet and his team scrambled to define the impact on the company’s suppliers in Japan and, if necessary, to draft backup plans. “It’s too early to tell, and we’re not going to pretend to predict the outcome,” Mr. Prophet said in an interview on Thursday. “It’s like being in an emergency room, doing triage.”
The emergency-room image speaks volumes. Modern global supply chains, experts say, mirror complex biological systems like the human body in many ways. They can be remarkably resilient and self-healing, yet at times quite vulnerable to some specific, seemingly small weakness — as if a tiny tear in a crucial artery were to cause someone to suffer heart failure.
Day in and day out, the global flow of goods routinely adapts to all kinds of glitches and setbacks. A supply breakdown in one factory in one country, for example, is quickly replaced by added shipments from suppliers elsewhere in the network. Sometimes, the problems span whole regions and require emergency action for days or weeks. When a volcano erupted in Iceland last spring, spewing ash across northern Europe and grounding air travel, supply-chain wizards were put to a test, juggling production and shipments worldwide to keep supplies flowing.
But the disaster in Japan, experts say, presents a first-of-its-kind challenge, even if much remains uncertain.
Japan is the world’s third-largest economy, and a vital supplier of parts and equipment for major industries like computers, electronics and automobiles. The worst of the damage was northeast of Tokyo, near the quake’s epicenter, though Japan’s manufacturing heartland is farther south. But greater problems will emerge if rolling electrical blackouts and transportation disruptions across the country continue for long.
Throughout Japan, many plants are closed at least for days, with restart dates uncertain. Already, there are some ripple effects worldwide: for example, a General Motors truck plant in Louisiana announced on Thursday that it was shutting down temporarily for lack of Japanese-made parts. More made-in-Japan supply-chain travails are expected.
“This is going to be a huge test of global supply chains, but I don’t think it will be a mortal blow,” says Kevin O’Marah, an analyst at Gartner-AMR Research. “I think that over all we’ll see how resilient and quick-learning these networks have become.”
THE good news for the world’s manufacturing economy is that the sectors where Japan plays a vital role are fairly mature, global industries. Consider computing and electronics. For major components, like semiconductors, production is now spread across several countries. By contrast, in the early 1990s, virtually all 486-microprocessors — the engines of the most powerful personal computers of the time — were made at a single Intel factory near Jerusalem.
Japan’s importance in the semiconductor industry as a whole has receded in recent years, as more production has shifted to South Korea, Taiwan and even China. Japan accounts for less than 21 percent of total semiconductor production, down from 28 percent in 2001, according to IHS iSuppli, a research firm.
Still, Japan produces a far higher share of certain important chips like the lightweight flash memory used in smartphones and tablet computers. Japan makes about 35 percent of those memory chips, IHS iSuppli estimates, and Toshiba is the major Japanese producer. But South Korean companies, led by Samsung, are also large producers of flash memory.
Apple, like all major companies these days, treats its supply-chain operations as a trade secret. But industry analysts estimate that Apple buys perhaps a third of its flash memory from Toshiba, with the rest coming mainly from South Korea. The lead time between chip orders and delivery is two months or more. A leading customer like Apple will be first in line for supplies, and it has inventories for several weeks, analysts say. So there will be little immediate impact on Apple or its customers, but even Apple will likely be hit with supply shortages of crucial components in the second quarter, predicts Gene Munster, an analyst at Piper Jaffray.
The field of buying and shipping supplies has been transformed in the last decade or two. Globalization and technology have been the driving forces. Manufacturing is outsourced around the world, with each component made in locations chosen for expertise and low costs. So today’s computer or smartphone is, figuratively, a United Nations assembly of parts. That means supply lines are longer and far more complex than in the past.
The ability to manage these complex networks, experts say, has become possible because of technology — Internet communications, RFID tags and sensors attached to valued parts, and sophisticated software for tracking and orchestrating the flow of goods worldwide.
That geographic and technological evolution, in theory, should make adapting to the disaster in Japan easier for corporate supply chains. “In the past, when you had a disruption, the response was regional,” says Timothy Carroll, vice president for global operations at I.B.M. “Now, it’s globalized.”
Most anything can be tracked, but it takes smart technology, investment and effort to do so. And as procurement networks become more complex and supply lines grow longer — “thin strands,” as the experts call the phenomenon — the difficulty and expense of seeing deeper into the supply chain increases.
“Major companies have constant communications and deep knowledge of primary suppliers,” says David B. Yoffie, a professor at the Harvard Business School. “It’s in the secondary layers of suppliers — things that are smaller, barely noticed — where the greater risk is.”
Indeed, supplies of larger, more costly electronic components, like flash memory and liquid crystal displays, tend to grab the most attention. But, says Tony Fadell, a former senior Apple executive who led the iPod and iPhone design teams, “there are all kinds of little specialized parts without second sources, like connectors, speakers, microphones, , batteries and sensors that don’t get the love they deserve. Many are from Japan.”
Lacking some part, even if it costs just dimes or a few dollars, can mean shutting down a factory, Mr. Fadell adds.
A recent analysis by IHS iSuppli, taking apart a new Apple iPad2, identified five parts coming from Japanese suppliers: flash memory from Toshiba, random-access memory for temporary storage from Elpida Memory, an electronic compass from AKM Semiconductor, touch-screen glass from Asahi Glass, and a battery from Apple Japan.
Further down the supply chain lie raw materials. Trouble for a supplier to a company’s parts supplier can cascade across an industry. For example, reports that a Mitsubishi Gas Chemical factory in Fukushima was damaged by the tsunami have fanned fears of a coming shortage of a resin — bismaleimide triazine, BT — used in the packaging for small computer chips in cellphones and other products.
Two Japanese companies are the leading producers of silicon wafers, the raw material used to make computer chips, accounting for more than 60 percent of the world’s supply. The largest is the Shin-Etsu Chemical Corporation. Its main wafer plant in Shirakawa was damaged by the earthquake, and the factory is down. “The continuing violent aftershocks are complicating the inspection work,” said Hideki Aihara, a Shin-Etsu spokesman in Japan, on Friday. “Right now we can’t say how badly it was damaged or how long it might take to get started.”
Shin-Etsu does have factories outside Japan. “But the most advanced manufacturing and silicon-growing processes are done in Japan,” says Klaus Rinnen, a semiconductor analyst at Gartner. And growing silicon ingots, which are then sliced into wafers, is a lengthy, delicate process that will be hampered by power failures or other disruptions, he says.
Big chip makers like Intel, Samsung and Toshiba typically hold inventories of silicon wafers for four to six weeks of production. “But after that, it will get tougher,” Mr. Rinnen says.
THE Japan quake, some experts say, will prompt companies to re-evaluate risk in their supply chains. Perhaps, they say, there will be a shift from focusing on reducing inventories and costs, the just-in-time model, pioneered in Japan, to one that places greater emphasis on buffering risk — a just-in-case mentality.
Adding inventories and backup suppliers reduces risk by increasing the redundancy in a supply system. It is one way to enhance resilience, experts say, but there are others.
They point to an example that is well known to supply-chain mavens. In 1997, there was a fire at a plant of one of Toyota’s main suppliers, Aisin Seiki, which made a brake valve used in all Toyota vehicles. Because of the carmaker’s just-in-time system, the company had just two or three days of stock on hand. So the fire threatened to halt Toyota’s production for weeks.
Re: Stuff & Nonsense
« Reply #3384 on: Mar 20th, 2011, 08:29am »
Factbox: Military assets in play in Libya crisis 7:49am EDT 20 March 2011
(Reuters) - European and U.S. forces have unleashed warplanes and cruise missiles against Libyan targets under a U.N. Security Council resolution authorizing military action to protect civilians from leader Muammar Gaddafi's forces.
U.S. and British ships and submarines fired more than 110 Tomahawk cruise missiles at Libyan targets to take out their air defenses, although no U.S. aircraft were flying over Libya.
Following are assets that are being, or could be, used.
France said it has some 20 fighter jets deployed in an initial operation in Libya, including Rafale multirole war planes, Mirage fighter jets and at least one AWACS surveillance aircraft. The target area involved is an area 62-by-93 miles around the rebel-controlled city of Benghazi.
The French operation is being run out of the Solenzara air base in the Mediterranean island of Corsica, around an hour's flight from Libya in a fighter jet.
France's Charles de Gaulle aircraft carrier is on the French Mediterranean coast and will head to Libya around midday on Sunday. It could reach the Libyan coast by late Monday carrying 15 fighter jets. Its battle group includes three frigates, a fuel-supply ship and an attack submarine.
France also has air force bases near the Mediterranean towns of Marseille and Istres, about an hour and a half flying from Libya. Airborne refueling tanker aircraft were ready on Friday to deploy from Istres.
France rejoined NATO's military command in 2009, reversing four decades of self-imposed exile.
Britain said it participated in a coordinated strike on Saturday against Libyan air defense systems using Tomahawk missiles launched from one of its Trafalgar-class submarines. The Ministry of Defense (MoD) also confirmed Stormshadow missiles were launched from a number of Tornado GR4 jets flown from a Royal Air Force base 3,000 miles away in the eastern England county of Norfolk. It said the operation was supported by VC10 and Tristar air-to-air refueling aircraft as well as E3D Sentry and Sentinel surveillance aircraft. The MoD said Typhoon jets were also standing by to provide support.
Britain has two frigates off the Libyan coast, HMS Cumberland and HMS Westminster, which also could be called on to support operations. Government sources earlier said destroyers could be deployed.
The United States started a "limited military action" in Libya several hours after France that included launching strikes along the Libyan coast that would target Libyan air defenses.
The U.S. military deployed planes, cruise missiles and electronic attacks, the Pentagon said.
A defense official said the U.S. Navy has three submarines outfitted with Tomahawk missiles in the Mediterranean ready to participate, including attack submarines Newport News and the Providence. They were joined by two Navy ships.
Tomahawk missiles can cripple aircraft or anti-aircraft defenses in a no-fly operation.
In all, the U.S. Navy has five combat ships in the Mediterranean, including at least one guided-missile destroyer, but there are no U.S. aircraft carriers close to Libya.
The USS Enterprise, which recently was stationed in the Red Sea, has been moved eastwards, away from Libya, to join the USS Carl Vinson, in the Arabian Sea to support Afghanistan operations.
Aviano, south of the Alps in Italy, is the region's only U.S. air base with aircraft assigned to it -- 42 F-16s. The Pentagon has not discussed the positioning of other planes in the region. The United States has a range of Mediterranean military bases and installations in Italy, Greece, Spain and Turkey.
The Pentagon said on Saturday that the United States was in charge of the Western intervention but the intention was to transfer it to a "coalition command" in the coming days.
Canada's HMCS Charlottetown warship has joined naval actions, including a naval blockade, taking place off Libya, Prime Minister Stephen Harper told reporters.
Canadian fighter jets have reached the region but need another day or two of preparation before they can join the mission, a Canadian government spokesman said. One Canadian tanker aircraft is stationed at Decimomannu airbase in Sardinia, Italy, the Italian command at the base said.
Italy has deployed dozens of combat aircraft at its base at Trapani, in western Sicily in readiness for possible involvement in air strikes on Libya.
Tornado fighters that can be used to destroy enemy air defenses and radar as well as F-16s and Eurofighters used for air-to-air defense have been moved to Trapani from bases in Piacenza in northern Italy, Gioia del Colle in Apulia.
Italy has offered the use of a NATO base near Naples for joint command center for the joint operation, and could participate later on in military activities, Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi said.
Defense Minister Ignazio La Russa said in all seven bases in Italy -- at Amendola, Gioia del Colle, Sigonella, Aviano, Trapani, Decimomannu and Pantelleria -- were available and some allies had asked to use them.
Five are on the southern mainland or Sicily, making them some of the closest available bases to Libya.
Defense Minister Gitte Lillelund Bech said that six Danish fighter planes had been deployed to Sicily. Four were awaiting U.S. instructions to join operations over Libya on Sunday, and two would be kept in reserve.
Inspector General Finn Kristian Hannestad of the Norwegian Air Force was quoted by public broadcaster NRK as saying the NATO member was ready to send up to six F-16 fighter jets for an operation in Libya. Norway was sending personnel to Sicily on Sunday to look at different base options, and would be ready to get involved within 5-10 days, he said.
Three Spanish F-18s plus one Spanish tanker aircraft are deployed at Decimomannu airbase in Sardinia, the Italian base command said.
The Italian command at Decimomannu said the base was also awaiting the arrival of F-16s from the United Arab Emirates. It was not clear how many, or when they would arrive.
Re: Stuff & Nonsense
« Reply #3385 on: Mar 20th, 2011, 08:44am »
US ambassador to Mexico resigns over WikiLeaks
Carlos Pascual became embroiled in row with Mexican president, Felipe Calderón, over cables criticising drug war
Associated Press guardian.co.uk Sunday 20 March 2011 04.17 GMT
Carlos Pascual, the US ambassador to Mexico, has resigned over a row with the Mexican president, Felipe Calderón, over the WikiLeaks cables.
The US ambassador to Mexico has resigned amid a furore over a leaked diplomatic cable in which he complained about inefficiency and infighting among Mexican security forces in the campaign against drug cartels.
Hillary Clinton said Carlos Pascual's decision to step down was "based upon his personal desire to ensure the strong relationship between our two countries and to avert issues" raised by the Mexican president, Felipe Calderón.
The US secretary of state was not specific, but a furious Calderón has publicly criticised Pascual's criticisms, divulged as part of the US embassy cables by WikiLeaks.
Pascual's resignation appears to be the biggest fallout yet from the release of thousands of sensitive US diplomatic cables from around the world. It is the first such public departure by a US ambassador during the Obama administration.
Clinton went to lengths to praise Pascual's work in Mexico and said the Obama administration never lost confidence in him. Clinton said Pascual's work with Mexico to build institutions capable of fighting drug traffickers "will serve both our nations for decades".
She was "particularly grateful to Carlos for his efforts to sustain the morale and security of American personnel after tragic shootings in Mexico" that killed a US employee and three other people tied to the consulate in the border city of Ciudad Juarez last year.
"It is with great reluctance that President Obama and I have acceded to Carlos's request" to step down, Clinton said in a statement.
The ambassador's resignation laid bare how difficult relations between the US embassy and the Mexican government had become since the release of the cable in December. Calderón has made no secret of his personal anger at Pascual.
"I will not accept or tolerate any type of intervention," Calderón said in an interview with the newspaper El Universal in late February. "But that man's ignorance translates into a distortion of what is happening in Mexico and affects things and creates ill feeling within our own team."
There was no immediate reaction from the Mexican government, although an official from Calderón's office said it was preparing a response.
Pascual may have ruffled feathers in the Mexican government and Calderón's National Action party by dating the daughter of Francisco Rojas, the congressional leader of the former longtime ruling Institutional Revolutionary Party. Mexican officials and the U.S. Embassy have declined to comment on that matter.
One of the leaked diplomatic cables that most angered Calderón referred to friction between Mexico's army and navy while detailing an operation that led to the death of drug lord Arturo Beltran Leyva.
Pascual said the US, which had information locating Beltran Leyva, originally took it to the army, which refused to move quickly. Beltran Leyva was eventually brought down in a shootout with Mexican marines, who have since taken the lead in other operations against cartel capos.
Other cables reported jealousies and a lack of co-ordination between various Mexican security forces.
Re: Stuff & Nonsense
« Reply #3387 on: Mar 20th, 2011, 12:14pm »
New Insight Into the Brain's Ability to Reorganize Itself
ScienceDaily (Mar. 19, 2011) —
When Geoffrey Murphy, Ph.D., talks about plastic structures, he's not talking about the same thing as Mr. McGuire in The Graduate. To Murphy, an associate professor of molecular and integrative physiology at the University of Michigan Medical School, plasticity refers to the brain's ability to change as we learn.
New research bring scientists one step closer to isolating the mechanisms by which the brain compensates for disruptions and reroutes neural functioning - - which could ultimately lead to treatments for cognitive impairments in humans caused by disease and aging. (Credit: iStockphoto/Vasiliy Yakobchuk)
Murphy's lab, in collaboration with U-M's Neurodevelopment and Regeneration Laboratory run by Jack Parent, M.D., recently showed how the plasticity of the brain allowed mice to restore critical functions related to learning and memory after the scientists suppressed the animals' ability to make certain new brain cells.
The findings, published online this week in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, bring scientists one step closer to isolating the mechanisms by which the brain compensates for disruptions and reroutes neural functioning -- which could ultimately lead to treatments for cognitive impairments in humans caused by disease and aging.
"It's amazing how the brain is capable of reorganizing itself in this manner," says Murphy, co-senior author of the study and researcher at U-M's Molecular and Behavioral Neuroscience Institute. "Right now, we're still figuring out exactly how the brain accomplishes all this at the molecular level, but it's sort of comforting to know that our brains are keeping track of all of this for us."
In previous research, the scientists had found that restricting cell division in the hippocampuses of mice using radiation or genetic manipulation resulted in reduced functioning in a cellular mechanism important to memory formation known as long-term potentiation.
But in this study, the researchers demonstrated that the disruption is only temporary and within six weeks, the mouse brains were able to compensate for the disruption and restore plasticity, says Parent, the study's other senior author, a researcher with the VA Ann Arbor Healthcare System and associate professor of neurology at the U-M Medical School.
After halting the ongoing growth of key brain cells in adult mice, the researchers found the brain circuitry compensated for the disruption by enabling existing neurons to be more active. The existing neurons also had longer life spans than when new cells were continuously being made.
"The results suggest that the birth of brain cells in the adult, which was experimentally disrupted, must be really important -- important enough for the whole system to reorganize in response to its loss," Parent says.
Additional Authors: Benjamin H. Singer, Ph.D., Amy E. Gamelli, Ph.D., Cynthia L. Fuller, Ph.D., Stephanie J. Temme, all of U-M
The research was supported by grants from the National Institutes of Health, National Institute on Aging, National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke. Temme is a National Science Foundation Graduate Research Fellow and was also supported by a U-M Rackham Merit Fellowship.
Re: Stuff & Nonsense
« Reply #3388 on: Mar 20th, 2011, 4:09pm »
Another example of the power and far-reaching impact of the Japan quake:
Officials: South Fla. water table rose after quake
Posted 3/20/2011 2:22 PM ET
WEST PALM BEACH, Fla. (AP) — The devastating earthquake that shook Japan caused a temporary jolt in groundwater levels throughout much of Florida, officials said.
The South Florida Water Management District reports that a network of groundwater gauges registered a jump of up to three inches in the water table from Orlando to the Florida Keys about 34 minutes after the quake struck on March 11.
The oscillations were observed for about two hours and then stabilized. "We were not expecting to see any indication of the geological events in Japan given the island's great distance from Florida," Susan Sylvester, the water district's director of operations control and hydro data management department, said on Saturday.
Shimon Wdowinski, an earthquake researcher with the University of Miami, said the water table likely rose because of Florida's porous limestone, which allows water to easily flow beneath the earth's surface and respond to changes in pressure caused by a wave. He said the flow of Florida's aquifer is quite fast.
"It's good because we can filter a lot of water through there," Wdowinski said. "But it's bad because in the case of pollution, it can travel very quickly."
Changes in groundwater levels were also seen in South Florida after the Haiti and Chile earthquakes. Wdowinski said a 20-foot rise was seen after a 9.2 earthquake in Alaska in 1964.
"I wouldn't say it's normal, but it's not unusual," Wdowinski said of the variations.
The water district says the data was collected from a series of wells with recording devices. Randy Smith, a spokesman for the water district, said the reverberations were observed hundreds of feet below the surface. He and others expressed surprise at the events, given the distance from Japan.
"This was over 7,000 miles," he said. "I think that proves how strong the earthquake was."
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