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 veryhotthread  Author  Topic: Stuff & Nonsense  (Read 47092 times)
WingsofCrystal
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« Reply #3405 on: Mar 22nd, 2011, 08:56am »

New York Times

March 22, 2011
American Warplane Crashes in Libya as Ground Fighting Continues

By ELISABETH BUMILLER, KAREEM FAHIM and ALAN COWELL

WASHINGTON —Ground fighting raged in Libya on Tuesday and an American fighter jet crashed overnight in the first known setback for the international coalition attacking forces loyal to Col. Muammar el-Qaddafi.

After three days of strikes authorized by the United Nations Security Council, however, disputes within the allied coalition over the future of the mission seemed unresolved, while China added its voice to demands among opponents of the intervention for an immediate cease-fire.

According to the United States military, the F-15E Strike Eagle warplane went down late Monday “when the aircraft experienced equipment malfunction.” The aircraft, normally based in England, was flying out of Aviano Air Base in northeastern Italy when it crashed.“Both crew members ejected and are safe,” an American statement said.

A photograph on the Web site of Britain’s Daily Telepgraph showed its charred wreckage surrounded by onlookers in the middle of what looked like an empty field.

American officials said on Monday that military strikes to destroy air defenses and establish a no-fly zone over Libya had nearly accomplished their initial objectives, and that the United States was moving swiftly to hand command to allies in Europe.

But divisions persisted on Tuesday over how the campaign should continue and under whose command.

Prime Minister David Cameron of Britain has said responsibility for the no-fly zone would be transferred to NATO. But France objected to that, with its foreign minister, Alain Juppé, saying: “The Arab League does not wish the operation to be entirely placed under NATO responsibility. It isn’t NATO which has taken the initiative up to now.”

Turkey’s prime minister, Recep Tayyip Erdogan, said on Tuesday that the United Nations should be the umbrella for a solely humanitarian operation in Libya, Reuters reported, insisting that his country, a NATO ally, “will never ever be a side pointing weapons at the Libyan people.” The dispute raised concerns that American plans to hand on the command of the operation could be delayed by disputes among its partners over who should take control.

Outside the Western alliance, divisions seemed to deepen on Tuesday, with China joining Brazil in calling for a cease-fire while India said there should be no foreign presence in Libya. India, Brazil Russia, China and Germany abstained from the United Nations vote last week that authorized the intervention.

American, British and French warplanes have been flying missions since Saturday, stalling a ground attack by pro-Qaddafi forces in the east and hitting targets including air defenses, an airfield and part of Colonel Qaddafi’s compound in Tripoli.

But the firepower of more than 130 Tomahawk cruise missiles and attacks by allied warplanes have not yet succeeded in accomplishing the more ambitious demands by the United States — repeated by President Obama in a letter to Congress on Monday — that Colonel Qaddafi withdraw his forces from embattled cities and cease all attacks against civilians.

Ahmed Khalifa, a rebel spokesman in Benghazi, said on Tuesday that there was still heavy fighting in the western rebel-held cities of Misurata and Zintan. Government forces firing on Misrurata killed 40 people and wounded 189, he said, adding that rebel fighters were "combing" the city for Colonel Qaddafi’s troops. Mr. Khalifa said that 4,000 Egyptian migrants were stuck in the city, trying to get home.

Government shelling of Zintan had demolished a mosque, Mr. Khalifa said, adding that Colonel Qaddafi’s talk of a cease-fire was "meaningless." He said that the allied airstrikes “did in fact prevent further death and destruction.”

“The front lines are still very fluid,” he said, saying there was no movement in the standoff between rebel fighters and Qaddafi forces in the eastern city Ajdabiya. State television in Libya said on Tuesday there had been more attacks by what it called the “crusader enemy,” Reuters reported, but the broadcaster struck a defiant tone. “These attacks are not going to scare the Libyan people,” state television said.

But on the streets of Tripoli, the air strikes seemed to have emboldened the citizens of the capital, more usually seen as a pro-Qaddafi stronghold. On an officially supervised visit to Tripoli’s Old City on Tuesday, foreign reporters who work under close government scrutiny said people seemed noticeably readier to voice criticism.

Almost within earshot of official minders, one person approached a reporter to say: “It will be a beautiful country once we change the system.” But no one wanted to be identified by name in a city where retribution has long been the price of rare dissent. “They have killed a lot of people here. People here are very afraid,” one Libyan said. Referring to official shows of support for Colonel Qaddafi, he said: “This is not the real Libya.”

Pentagon officials are eager to extract the United States from a third armed conflict in a Muslim country as quickly as possible. But Qaddafi forces were holding out against the allied military campaign to break their grip. Rebel fighters trying to retake the eastern town of Ajdabiya said their advance was halted on Monday by tank and rocket fire from government loyalists still controlling entrances to the city. Dozens of fighters fell back to a checkpoint about 25 miles north of Ajdabiya, in Zueitina.

By the early afternoon, the fighters said at least eight of their confederates had been killed in the day’s fighting, including four who were killed when a tank shell struck their pickup truck.

In the western city of Misurata, forces loyal to Colonel Qaddafi were still at large and were using civilians as human shields, Reuters reported, but that could not be immediately confirmed.

At the Pentagon, officials said that the intensive American-led assault unleashed over the weekend was a classic air campaign, chosen by Mr. Obama among a range of military options, which was intended to have coalition aircraft in the skies above Libya within days and without fear of being shot down. “You don’t do that piecemeal,” a United States military official said. “You do it all at once, and you do it as fast as you can.”

The targets included radar installations, fixed and mobile antiaircraft sites, Libyan aircraft and hangars, and other targets intended to make it safe for allied aircraft to impose the no-fly zone. They also included tanks and other ground forces engaged with the rebels around the country, reflecting the broader aim of pushing Colonel Qadaffi’s forces to withdraw from disputed cities. Communications centers and at least one Scud missile site were also struck.

Explosions and antiaircraft fire could be heard in and around Tripoli on Monday in a third straight night of attacks there against Colonel Qadaffi’s forces.

Gen. Carter F. Ham, the head of the United States Africa Command, who is in charge of the coalition effort, said that there would be strikes on Colonel Qaddafi’s mobile air defenses and that some 80 sorties — only half by the United States — were flown on Monday.

General Ham also said he had “full authority” to attack the regime’s forces if they refused to comply with President Obama’s demands that they pull back from Ajdabiya, Misurata and Zawiya.

By Monday night, explosions and antiaircraft fire could be heard in and around Tripoli in the third straight day of attacks.

In Santiago, Chile, Mr. Obama restated that the United States would soon turn over full responsibility to the allies to maintain the no-fly zone. He also sought to distinguish the stated goals of the United Nations-authorized military operation — protecting Libyan civilians, establishing a no-flight zone and forcing Colonel Qaddafi’s withdrawal from the cities — with his own administration’s demand, not included in the United Nations resolution, that Colonel Qaddafi had to leave office.

“It is U.S. policy that Qaddafi needs to go,” Mr. Obama said at a news conference with the Chilean president, Sebastián Piñera. “And we’ve got a wide range of tools in addition to our military effort to support that policy.” Mr. Obama cited economic sanctions, the freezing of assets and other measures to isolate the regime in Tripoli.

United States military commanders repeated throughout the day that they were not communicating with Libyan rebels, even as a spokesman for the rebel military, Khaled El-Sayeh, asserted that rebel officers had been providing the allies with coordinates for their airstrikes. “We give them the coordinates, and we give them the location that needs to be bombed,” Mr. Sayeh told reporters.

On Monday night, a United States military official responded that “we know of no instances where this has occurred.”

Earlier in the day, General Ham repeatedly said in answer to questions from reporters that the United States was not working with the rebels. “Our mission is not to support any opposition forces,” General Ham said by video feed to the Pentagon from the headquarters of Africa Command in Stuttgart, Germany.


Elisabeth Bumiller reported from Washington, Kareem Fahim from Benghazi, Libya, and Alan Cowell from Paris. Contributing reporting were David D. Kirkpatrick from Tripoli, Libya; Eric Schmitt and Thom Shanker from Washington; Steven Erlanger from Paris; Clifford J. Levy from Moscow; and Julia Werdigier from London.

http://www.nytimes.com/2011/03/23/world/africa/23libya.html?_r=1&hp

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« Reply #3406 on: Mar 22nd, 2011, 09:01am »

Telegraph

Penguin on a plane: bird takes a stroll during flight

A penguin astonished passengers on a commercial flight after crew allowed him to stretch his legs during the journey.





9:09AM GMT 22 Mar 2011

Pete the penguin, a star of SeaWorld, waddled down the aisle of a trans-American Southwest Airlines flight from San Francisco to San Diego.

The South American Magellan Penguin had been appearing at a national science convention and was returning home.

His SeaWorld keepers gave a lecture to passengers over the in-flight intercom as the bird ambled between their seats.

Videos of his antics have begun to appear on YouTube.

Magellanic Penguins take their name from the Magellan Strait, in Chile, where they originate from and live to between 25 and 30 years old.

Despite the millions that inhabit the coastlines of Chile and Argentina, they are classed as a threatened species due to their vulnerability to oil spills, which kill around 20,000 adults and 22,000 youngsters every year.

http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/newstopics/howaboutthat/8397426/Penguin-on-a-plane-bird-takes-a-stroll-during-flight.html

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« Reply #3407 on: Mar 22nd, 2011, 09:04am »

Hey! I think we should go to the UN and ask for a humanitarian mission to the US to save us from our politicians. We might even get back some of our taxes! grin
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« Reply #3408 on: Mar 22nd, 2011, 11:19am »

Wired Danger Room

Troops in Afghanistan Use Shovels, Feet to Stop Bombs
By David Axe
March 22, 2011 | 4:00 am
Categories: Af/Pak


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Photos: David Axe /Wired.com


LOGAR PROVINCE, Afghanistan — With a deadly bomb possibly lying just inches under their feet, any sane person would — oh, I don’t know — run away. But these uniformed madmen have a job to do. They run toward a potential explosive, with nothing but steady hands and body armor to protect them.

It might seem nuts, but the calculated insanity practiced by teams of U.S. Army engineers may be slowly turning the tide against Afghanistan’s insurgent bombers.

On Friday afternoon in Logar Province, just south of Kabul in eastern Afghanistan, Spc. Justin Torres and Pvt. Wendell Burley, both from the U.S. Army’s 541st Engineer Company, are patrolling a dirt road with their handheld metal detectors when they pinpoint a suspicious, buried object.

It could be nothing: garbage or decades-old scrap. Or it could be one of the roughly 1,300 bombs a month that the Taliban and other armed groups use to attack NATO forces. There’s just one way to be truly certain. Torres and Burley step aside; Sgt. Leslie Pittman and another NCO unsheathe their bayonets, leap on the spot Torres and Burley indicate, and begin digging.

The two veteran engineers have scraped several inches below the road’s surface when there’s a ding sound. One of them has struck metal. I’m standing nearby with a video camera rolling. And although I’m a veteran of several bombings in Iraq and Afghanistan — or maybe because I am — I suck in my breath and hold it.

Walk or Ride?

What happens next defines the days of Torres, Burley, Pittman and the other members of Logar’s “Route-Clearance Patrol,” a team whose purpose is to stumble across roadside bombs before other soldiers do.

The original route patrols, formed during the height of Iraq’s bloody homemade-bomb fight, mostly stayed inside their high-tech, blast-resistant vehicles. In Afghanistan, a country that lacks Iraq’s relatively well-developed infrastructure — or even paved roads — the route patrols increasingly move on foot, reviving the brute simple, metal-detector-and-bayonet tactics that were common as far back as World War II.

“There’s more risk putting boots on the ground,” says Capt. Brandon Drobenak, the 541st’s young commander. “But it works.”

The official stats corroborate Drobenak’s claim. Between August and February, NATO’s route patrols, bomb squads and other anti-improvised explosive device (IED) units have reduced the number of troops killed and wounded by explosives by more than a third, to just 200 or so per month. And the percentage of effective bombs concocted by the Taliban is dropping, even as the bombs cranked out by the Taliban stays north of 1,300 a month.

All the same, coalition IED casualties remain high: there were nearly 8,000 last year. With warm weather fast approaching in Afghanistan and the ground thawing, the 541st’s engineers say they expect the number of bombs, and bomb casualties, to increase somewhat compared to this winter — though hopefully the levels won’t exceed 2010’s.

The IED-fighters have reason to be optimistic. More than a decade into the Afghanistan war, they might have finally figured out the right approach to the conflict’s bomb problem. It’s a major departure from the strategy that worked in Iraq. And it stands a good chance of continuing to work even after NATO has handed off combat operations to the still-developing Afghan army.

In both conflicts, coalition forces learned to aim “left of boom.” That is, to use CSI-style forensics to identify bomb-makers and bomb-placers and to kill or capture them before they can target coalition troops.

The difference is on the front line, where route patrols must deal with the bombs that leak through the left-of-boom operations. In Iraq, the route patrols cruised up and down the highways in their tricked-out armored vehicles, essentially absorbing the bomb blasts so that other forces wouldn’t have to. I accompanied one route patrol in north-central Iraq in 2005 — and trust me, it was nerve-wracking.

Compared to Iraq’s paved highways, Afghanistan’s mostly dirt roads really suck. The poor quality of the roads forced the route-clearers and other forces to get out of their vehicles and walk.

The route patrols turned that liability into a strength. Rather than breezing down a road at cruising speed, like they might in Iraq, in Afghanistan the route-patrol units move at a walking pace. And where the scanners on a fast-moving vehicle might miss carefully hidden bombs, a foot patrol examining and probing every square inch is unlikely to miss anything.

“We’re slow and methodical,” Drobenak explains.

Playing Cop

Walking on patrol also allows the route-clearers to get more involved in the left-of-boom operations. Once confined to their vehicles, now the engineers are out among the dirt, debris and people of Afghanistan’s villages.

Now, when they stumble upon an IED, they can gather up bits and pieces and pass them along to the Afghan National Police and their civilian advisers, for use as evidence when bomb-makers go on trial.

Moreover, the route-patrolers can now play a bigger role in tracking down these very bomb-makers. On their Friday patrol, Drobenak’s troops pause every time they come upon an aged Afghan farmer or some kid chugging past on a motorbike. They shake hands with the Afghans, ask for info on local bad guys and give out business cards printed with the number for a NATO tip hotline.

To cement its relationships with Afghans, the 541st occasionally hands out humanitarian supplies.

Based on tips and bomb evidence relayed by the 541st, the Afghan police in Logar have arrested two suspected bombers, Drobenak says. “Our mission is route clearance,” he says, “but any time we can do more — that’s great. We’re defeating the network, taking out the guys placing the IEDs, and having a greater effect.”

Ironically, the 541st is enjoying its low-tech successes while also receiving an unprecedented cascade of new technologies from the Pentagon’s multibillion-dollar IED-fighting lab.

The engineers ride to their patrol zones in upgraded armored vehicles fitted with new remote-controlled guns and a wide array of new sensors (most of which are classified, and the soldiers won’t discuss).

“What we have for route clearance is leaps and bounds over what we had just two years ago,” is all Pittman will say.

But stepping out with old-school metal detectors and bayonets, plus handshakes and careful evidence-tagging, beats new vehicles and sensors any day, Drobenak insists. And just as importantly, these techniques are within the grasp of the ultimate successors to the 541st and other NATO route-clearers.

NATO wants to start handing over security operations to Afghan forces this summer. The first Afghan Route-Clearance Patrol for Logar is currently being trained up in Kabul. It should join the 541st sometime this spring or summer. The 541st’s future Afghan partners will have only basic equipment: Humvees and metal detectors. But that’s really all they need, Drobenak says.

Nerves of Steel

That, plus steely nerves like those Pittman and his fellow engineers display on Friday. After the bayonet strikes metal, one of the NCOs radios to the rest of the patrol that he’s found a “possible charge.” That’s the signal for a ground-scanning vehicle to move forward, and an attached Czech bomb squad to prep for action.

Meanwhile, the engineers keep digging, scooping away tiny divots of earth one at a time, hoping to confirm their suspicions. Weirdly, the 541st troopers seem excited, even relieved, that they’ve apparently uncovered a bomb.

As I slowly back away from the action, I weigh the possibilities. Either the route-clearers are so dedicated to their jobs — and to sparing their fellow NATO soldiers from IEDS — that they eagerly embrace the deadly risk that comes from poking at explosives with knives.

Or, they’re simply deranged.

I haven’t yet made up my mind when there’s a disappointed groan. With a final scrape of a bayonet, Pittman and the other NCO have unearthed the metal object that set off the soldier’s detector. It’s not a bomb. It’s a piece of trash long interred in the middle of the dirt path.

The route patrol marches on, confident that actual IEDs await, not far down the road.

more photos after the jump
http://www.wired.com/dangerroom/2011/03/afghanistan-bombs/all/1

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« Reply #3409 on: Mar 22nd, 2011, 11:36am »

Wired

March 22, 1995: Longest Human Space Adventure Ends
By Alexis Madrigal
March 22, 2010 | 12:00 am
Categories: 20th century, Space Exploration


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1995: Cosmonaut Valeri Polyakov returns to Earth from the longest-ever stay in space by a human. He spent just over 437 days in the Mir space station.

Thanks to a strenuous workout regimen, he returned to Earth looking “big and strong” and “like he could wrestle a bear,” in the words of NASA astronaut Norman Thagard.

Polyakov, a medical doctor, said that he volunteered for the extra-long mission to prove that the human body could survive microgravity long enough to make a trip to Mars. As such, he took pains to show that he was no worse for the zero-g wear when he got back onto terra firma.

“[W]hen his capsule landed in Kazakhstan he walked from it to a nearby chair, a tremendous achievement,” Philip Baker wrote in his book The Story of Manned Space Stations. “He also stole a cigarette from a friend nearby, but could hardly be blamed for that. He sipped a small brandy and inwardly celebrated his mission. His record still stands, and it is unlikely to be broken until man ventures to Mars.”

Reportedly, his first statement back on Earth was to tell a fellow cosmonaut, “We can fly to Mars.”

Polyakov’s mission did not get off to an auspicious start. When the cosmonauts who dropped him off did a flyby to take pictures of Mir, they grazed the space station with their craft. Luckily, no major damage was done.

The rest of Polyakov’s mission wasn’t that eventful. After a rough first three weeks, his mental performance bounced back (.pdf) to his Earth-bound norms.

At the time, Polyakov also held the record for most cumulative time in space, but he has since been surpassed by Sergei Krikalyov.

http://www.wired.com/thisdayintech/2010/03/0322cosmonaut-space-record/

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« Reply #3410 on: Mar 22nd, 2011, 11:41am »

Hollywood Reporter

Syfy Picks Up Three Reality Series (Exclusive)
6:00 AM 3/22/2011
by Lacey Rose


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"Face Off"
Isabella Vosmikova/Syfy



The network will add unscripted newcomers "Haunted Collector," "Legend Quest" and "Paranormal Witness" to its schedule later this year.
In a bid to further broaden its brand, Syfy is upping its commitment to the reality genre.

The network will announce at Tuesday's upfront presentation to advertisers in New York that it has picked up a trio of reality series -- Haunted Collector, Legend Quest and Paranormal Witness -- to launch later this year. The series will join the net’s growing cadre of unscripted hits, including Ghost Hunters, Destination Truth and Face Off, which was recently renewed for a second season.

The announcement follows continued ratings gains at the NBC Universal-owned network, where primetime tune-in is up 13 percent in total viewers and 7 percent in the advertiser-beloved adults 18-49 demographic thus far this quarter, compared to the same period a year earlier.

Haunted Collector, a working title, centers on a family of renowned paranormal investigators who spend its time tracking down haunted items. The family then houses its collections -- think guns, jewelry, paintings and dolls -- in its museum. The series, from Gurney Prods.' Scott Gurney and Deirdre Gurney, will be paired with the second season of Hollywood Treasure, beginning in June.

A month later, Syfy will roll out Legend Quest, an action-adventure series that followsreal-life symbologist Ashley Cowie as he travels the world in search of hidden, mystical artifacts. Each episode is designed to combine Indiana Jones-style adventure and Da Vinci Code-type connections as theories are explored. The series is a co-production from BASE Production’s John Brenkus and Mickey Stern and Universal Networks International.

Finally, Paranormal Witness, a drama-documentary series from Raw TV, the creative team behind Locked Up Abroad and Gold Rush Alaska. The show will bring to life the stories of people who claim to have lived through paranormal experiences. Episodes will feature a mixture of first-hand testimony and gritty drama. Dimitri Doganis and Bart Layton will serve as executive producers on the show, which is set to premiere in September.

The presentation will take place at the Foxwoods Theatre, where the Madison Avenue crowd will be treated to a performance of the troubled musical Spider-Man: Turn Off the Dark. Syfy brass will have to hope the new offerings fare better.

http://www.hollywoodreporter.com/news/syfy-picks-up-three-reality-169676

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xx Re: Stuff & Nonsense
« Reply #3411 on: Mar 22nd, 2011, 2:43pm »

on Mar 22nd, 2011, 09:01am, WingsofCrystal wrote:
Telegraph

Penguin on a plane: bird takes a stroll during flight

A penguin astonished passengers on a commercial flight after crew allowed him to stretch his legs during the journey.



That little fella doesn't even seem to be a tiny bit afraid of all those people. smiley

on Mar 22nd, 2011, 09:04am, WingsofCrystal wrote:
Hey! I think we should go to the UN and ask for a humanitarian mission to the US to save us from our politicians.
We might even get back some of our taxes! grin
Crystal

It'd be worth a try I guess. grin

The Millenium Falcon! Cool! smiley

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At least one politician who seems to be honest in some kind of way:
Dem Congressman: "We're In Libya Because Of Oil"

Check it out. With video:
http://www.realclearpolitics.com/video/2011/03/21/dem_congressman_were_in_libya_because_of_oil.html?sms_ss=facebook&at_xt=4d88bef2d9945227%2C0
« Last Edit: Mar 22nd, 2011, 2:45pm by philliman » User IP Logged

Stellar Thoughts
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« Reply #3412 on: Mar 22nd, 2011, 6:48pm »

Hey Phil!

I noticed that BJ has put up new artwork (Millenium Falcon). I like it a lot. Good work BJ! grin

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« Reply #3413 on: Mar 22nd, 2011, 7:17pm »

Mazel Tov!


Open Minds TV

Ex-Ministry of Defence UFO hunter weds during UFO conference
Alejandro Rojas | Mar 22, 2011


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Elizabeth Weiss and Nick Pope
photo: Antonio Huneeus



Nick Pope, an international man of mystery and as close as it gets to a real life Fox Mulder in England, held true to his role by getting married during a UFO Conference last month.

more after the jump
http://www.openminds.tv/mod-ufo-hunter-weds-638/

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« Reply #3414 on: Mar 22nd, 2011, 9:11pm »

Now HERE'S a hot item! rolleyes


Chavez Says Capitalism May Have Destroyed Life On Mars

Published March 22, 2011

FoxNews.com

Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez thinks capitalism may be responsible for the lack of life on the planet Mars.
"I have always said, heard, that it would not be strange that there had been civilization on Mars, but maybe capitalism arrived there, imperialism arrived and finished off the planet," Chavez said in a speech on Tuesday.

The socialist president has been a fierce opponent of capitalism, and during his World Water Day speech, Chavez blamed capitalism for destroying Earth's water supplies as well.

"Here on planet Earth, where hundreds of years ago or less there were great forests, now there are deserts. Where there were rivers, there are deserts," Chavez said.

Guy Webster, a spokesman with the NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory, noted: "Water has been discovered on Mars." But whether the planet ever supported life has yet to be confirmed.

The Wall Street Journal contributed to this report.

Read more: http://www.foxnews.com/scitech/2011/03/22/chavez-says-capitalism-destroyed-life-mars/#ixzz1HNtb9qAy
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« Reply #3415 on: Mar 23rd, 2011, 08:18am »

on Mar 22nd, 2011, 9:11pm, Swamprat wrote:
Now HERE'S a hot item! rolleyes


Chavez Says Capitalism May Have Destroyed Life On Mars

Published March 22, 2011

FoxNews.com

Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez thinks capitalism may be responsible for the lack of life on the planet Mars.
"I have always said, heard, that it would not be strange that there had been civilization on Mars, but maybe capitalism arrived there, imperialism arrived and finished off the planet," Chavez said in a speech on Tuesday.

The socialist president has been a fierce opponent of capitalism, and during his World Water Day speech, Chavez blamed capitalism for destroying Earth's water supplies as well.

"Here on planet Earth, where hundreds of years ago or less there were great forests, now there are deserts. Where there were rivers, there are deserts," Chavez said.

Guy Webster, a spokesman with the NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory, noted: "Water has been discovered on Mars." But whether the planet ever supported life has yet to be confirmed.

The Wall Street Journal contributed to this report.

Read more: http://www.foxnews.com/scitech/2011/03/22/chavez-says-capitalism-destroyed-life-mars/#ixzz1HNtb9qAy


Wackadoodle!

Thanks Swamp. Good morning to you.

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« Reply #3416 on: Mar 23rd, 2011, 08:19am »

Elizabeth Taylor
r.i.p.

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« Reply #3417 on: Mar 23rd, 2011, 08:23am »

New York Times

March 22, 2011
Diplomas, and an Uncertain Future, for Japanese Pupils
By MICHAEL WINES

KESENNUMA, Japan — Schools here begin class in April and hold graduation ceremonies in March; like spring, they represent renewal and rebirth.

On Tuesday morning, in a school meeting hall in this tsunami-ravaged seaport, it became something else: an act of defiance.

Gathering in the shadow of this seaport’s tsunami disaster zone, two solemn and often tearful crowds met to award diplomas to the sixth- and ninth-grade classes of Hashikami Elementary and Junior High schools. Inside the junior high auditorium, hundreds of refugees from the March 11 tsunami rolled up their blankets and moved to the rear to make way for a ritual that any parent would instantly recognize: the strains of Pachelbel’s Canon; the students’ march to the podium; the singing of school songs; the snapping of cellphone photos.

But no one should be fooled. The ceremonies, important rites of passage here, were supposed to take place last week. Instead, an earthquake cracked open the elementary school, and a wall of water swept away homes and families of teachers and students alike. Although no Hashikami elementary students were killed, the body of a ninth grader was identified over the weekend, and two others remain missing.

For parents and teachers, holding the graduation celebrations under those circumstances — and their own — was an act of will, even bravery.

“We thought maybe it was too early for the ceremony,” said Hiroko Sugawara, the ninth-grade principal. “But people in the community and the P.T.A. said, ‘We want to celebrate for these kids, because this is a cruel experience for a 15-year-old.’ I want the surviving kids to shine — to continue their lives.”

Ms. Sugawara’s sister and brother have been missing since the tsunami struck, and her house was washed away. Of the two other teachers who played leading roles in the ceremony, one lost his house, and the other’s parental home, in Rikuzentakata, was all but wiped out.

As the 28 ninth graders awaited their diplomas, Shunichi Hatakeyama, 48, sat centered in the front row of parents, holding a photograph of his 15-year-old son, Fumiya. The youngest of three sons, a big, good-looking center fielder on the city youth baseball team, Fumiya was with his mother, Akiko, when the tsunami struck. The two fled separately to high ground. Only she made it.

On Tuesday, Mr. Hatakeyama wore Fumiya’s blue athletic shirt and white sneakers. “My son is still missing. If I don’t come, nobody will take his diploma,” he said.

“I want him to come back. My wife wants to hug him. She is totally lost.”

And while the 42 sixth graders fidgeted in their chairs, Ken Miura, a 37-year-old hotel cook and volunteer fireman, sat in the back row of parents. His 12-year-old son, Takumi, is still recovering.

The two were at home, not five minutes from school, when the tsunami warning sounded.

Mr. Miura rushed to evacuate neighbors on lower ground, never believing the water could reach his home. He was carried out to sea in an automobile, and Takumi was swept into the ocean for an hour before he was rescued, naked and debris-battered, by firemen.

Takumi was taken to relatives in a distant town, in shock and unable even to talk for days. When he began to speak, “he said he wanted to come to the ceremony,” Mr. Miura said, “but I couldn’t get the gasoline to go to him.” The disaster has effectively dried up gasoline supplies for all but emergency permit holders.

Teachers handed over his son’s diploma in a private ceremony after the public one.

Past graduations were ritual new beginnings, the teachers said, but Tuesday’s may be different. Whereas past classes generally stayed together during their school years, the disaster already has scattered students to evacuation centers, and many may wind up in other towns.

The students here made determined efforts to remain upbeat. But many proved unable to hold back tears, whether singing school songs or joining in the brief after-graduation party.

“They tried not to show their sadness, but we couldn’t see them smiling,” said Yasuyuki Toba, one of the ninth-grade teachers who led the ceremony. So to end the party, he led a chant for the students clustered around him.

“Let’s meet again!” he shouted.

The students shouted in unison: “Let’s meet again!”


Moshe Komata contributed research.

http://www.nytimes.com/2011/03/23/world/asia/23graduate.html?_r=1&ref=world

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« Reply #3418 on: Mar 23rd, 2011, 08:30am »

LA Times

Libya operation is a hot potato for allies

After days of joint airstrikes, no one has stepped up to take command of the coalition trying to rein in Libyan dictator Moammar Kadafi.

By Henry Chu, Los Angeles Times
March 23, 2011
Reporting from London

Depending on whom you ask, the warplanes sent to enforce a no-fly zone over Libya are there to carry out Operation Odyssey Dawn, Operation Ellamy or Operation Harmattan.

All three names refer to the same mission. But the different designations by the United States, Britain and France, respectively, are also emblematic of the fact that, after days of joint airstrikes, the coalition trying to keep Libyan dictator Moammar Kadafi in check still can't agree on who should take united command of a military campaign with no clear end in sight.

Diplomats continued to squabble over the contentious issue Tuesday, their discord centering on what role the North Atlantic Treaty Organization should play in the conflict, especially as the U.S. tries to scale back its involvement.

Nations such as Britain and Italy want NATO to take the lead, regarding it as the logical choice because it already has command and control structures that could easily be activated. But other members of the alliance, including France and Turkey, have insisted with equal vehemence that a NATO-led, mostly Western coalition would send the wrong message to the Muslim world.

The divisions have cast a cloud over the future of the allied campaign, particularly if it drags out much longer after taking out many of its early targets, such as Kadafi's ground-based air defenses.

"We're still left with an ad hoc coalition here that will be increasingly struggling to survive," said Barak Seener, an analyst with the Royal United Services Institute, a defense think tank in London. "How does it sustain itself? That's the big challenge."

At NATO headquarters in Brussels, ambassadors from member states were able to forge an agreement Tuesday on helping to enforce an arms embargo against Libya, but remained at odds over the no-fly zone. NATO officials said only that they had plans in place to support the no-fly zone "if needed."

Hammering out a consensus could take several more days. Among the possible compromises are a coalition headed by Britain and France, which pushed hardest for United Nations approval of a no-fly zone; a campaign led by another ally but using NATO assets and expertise; or a NATO-led mission of narrower, more sharply defined scope.

French officials said Tuesday evening that ministers from allied nations and from the Arab League would meet in the next few days to discuss the situation.

At present, "the operation remains under U.S. command," British Maj. Gen. John Lorimer said Tuesday. Allied officers are in constant, almost hourly, contact as they run sorties by American, British, French, Danish and Italian pilots, among others.

"There is no centralized chain of command at this moment. Everyone is using their own military structures in a coordinated fashion," Laurent Teisseire, a spokesman for the French Defense Ministry, told reporters.

But the lack of a clear command structure for the future, or the possibility that it won't be NATO at the head of it, has already led Italy, Norway and Luxembourg to express reservations about their involvement in the campaign.

In addition, without a central command, exactly what kind of operations are necessary or allowable would remain subject to differing interpretations. For example, disagreements have already surfaced — between and even within nations — over whether Kadafi himself is a legitimate target under the U.N. resolution, which authorizes "all necessary measures" for protecting Libyan civilians without specifying how far that goes.

"You have a tremendous amount of indecisiveness and a lack of clarity as to the mission statement itself, because … U.N. Resolution 1973 understandably had to be written in a very fluffy manner in order to get the most amount of consensus," Seener said. "It's bound to create objections."

Some of the strongest objections have come from Turkey, the only Muslim nation in NATO.

The Turkish government was furious over not being invited to an emergency summit convened Saturday in Paris by French President Nicolas Sarkozy. The meeting had barely broken up when Sarkozy sent French warplanes streaking over Libya, a haste that reportedly surprised and miffed other allies.

"The French have just been very trigger-happy," a senior Turkish official said on condition of anonymity, because he is not authorized to speak to journalists. "We have to be careful on what we want there. Are we going to save people there? Are we trying to depose Kadafi? What is the objective?"

With NATO already leading the war in Afghanistan, the coalition needs to tread carefully regarding Libya if it wants to avoid inflaming more anger in the Muslim world, analysts say.

Turkey said Tuesday that it would support humanitarian operations conducted under the umbrella of the U.N. but that joining the military intervention was not an option.

"Turkey will never be on the side of pointing the gun at the Libyan people," Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan told lawmakers in his party.

Besides Turkey, Germany has also declined to support the aerial assault. Outside Western Europe, Russia, China and Algeria have demanded that the coalition halt its campaign.

Seener warned that failure to settle the question — and soon — of who will assume command of the mission could sink the coalition.

"There is a danger of this alliance coming apart even before it could be called an alliance," he said.


Special correspondents Kim Willsher in Paris and Julia Damianova in Istanbul, Turkey, contributed to this report.

http://www.latimes.com/news/nationworld/world/la-fg-libya-command-20110323,0,2304206.story

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Wired Danger Room

Video: ‘I Got Blown to Hell in Afghanistan’
By David Axe
March 23, 2011 | 4:00 am
Categories: Af/Pak





LOGAR PROVINCE, Afghanistan — Staff Sgt. Marcus Jimenez was pissed. On March 19, he had led a force of U.S., Afghan and Jordanian soldiers into the village of Pakhab-e’Shana, in eastern Afghanistan, with what Jimenez considered the best of intentions.

While the Americans conferred with village elders, the Jordanians and Afghans would inspect the town’s four mosques, to see if there were any repairs NATO and the Afghan government might help pay for. In addition, the Americans and Jordanians had some soccer balls to hand out.

But the elders greeted the soldiers with what looked like cool indifference. And the village’s legions of children greeted them with rocks, hurled artillery-style over mud walls. A rock struck one of Jimenez’s American gunners in the face, drawing blood.

The stocky staff sergeant stormed to the nearest elder, Pashto interpreter in tow. “They hurt one of my guys!” Jimenez yelled. He demanded the elder “get control of” his people.

Three minutes later, Jimenez had calmed down. He grinned. “Kids will be kids,” he said. “We can’t forget that most people here are good.”

An hour later, Jimenez would be dragged, barely conscious and badly hurt, from the twisted wreckage of an armored truck blown up by an improvised explosive device just a stone’s throw from Pakhab-e’Shana. I was lucky — and so was a medic named Michael Sario. We were sitting in the very back of the vehicle, farthest from the explosion. I escaped with gashes and, later, a minor case of the shakes. Sario was rattled but apparently otherwise OK.

Jimenez, three more soldiers and the interpreter were not. They were injured in the blast, and had to be evacuated by helicopter.

The attack was a setback in a province where NATO is still hoping to win hearts and minds. Across Afghanistan, NATO has largely shifted from a “soft” counterinsurgency strategy to a more lethal counterterrorism approach.

But in many parts of Logar, COIN still rules. Gen. Stanley McChrystal highlighted Logar’s Baraki Barak district two years ago as a model for the whole country. Today, McChrystal is gone, replaced by his former boss Gen. David Petraeus.

Under the more aggressive Petraeus, Logar is less a model than the exception. But even in one of the last bastions of counterinsurgency in Afghanistan, the dangers remain very real. And the personal cost to NATO troops and, yes, embedded reporters — too high.

more after the jump
http://www.wired.com/dangerroom/2011/03/blown-to-hell/

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