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 veryhotthread  Author  Topic: Stuff & Nonsense  (Read 44366 times)
realitybeyond
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xx Re: Stuff & Nonsense
« Reply #3645 on: Apr 13th, 2011, 12:16pm »

Where is Kevin Smith?
« Last Edit: Apr 13th, 2011, 12:30pm by realitybeyond » User IP Logged

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xx Re: Stuff & Nonsense
« Reply #3646 on: Apr 13th, 2011, 2:06pm »

In his studio I guess. wink

I've just decided that it would be about time to support AJ's show. She's doing an outstanding job and is asking the right questions. That's what ufology needs. smiley
http://www.angeliajoiner.com/
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xx Re: Stuff & Nonsense
« Reply #3647 on: Apr 13th, 2011, 5:24pm »

"I've just decided that it would be about time to support AJ's show. She's doing an outstanding job and is asking the right questions. That's what ufology needs. http://www.angeliajoiner.com/ "

Very true; I think I've missed two shows since she started her radio program.
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xx Re: Stuff & Nonsense
« Reply #3648 on: Apr 14th, 2011, 11:11am »

Washington Post

Goldman Sachs misled Congress after duping clients, Senate panel chairman says

By Bloomberg, Wednesday, April 13, 10:43 PM


Goldman Sachs misled clients and Congress about the firm’s bets on securities tied to the housing market, the chairman of the U.S. Senate panel that investigated the causes of the financial crisis said.

Senator Carl Levin, releasing the findings of a two-year inquiry yesterday, said he wants the Justice Department and the Securities and Exchange Commission to examine whether Goldman Sachs violated the law by misleading clients who bought the complex securities known as collateralized debt obligations without knowing the firm would benefit if they fell in value.

The Michigan Democrat also said federal prosecutors should review whether to bring perjury charges against Goldman Sachs Chief Executive Officer Lloyd Blankfein and other current and former employees who testified in Congress last year. Levin said they denied under oath that Goldman Sachs took a financial position against the mortgage market solely for its own profit, statements the senator said were untrue.

“In my judgment, Goldman clearly misled their clients and they misled the Congress,” Levin said at a press briefing yesterday where he and Senator Tom Coburn, an Oklahoma Republican, discussed the 640-page report from the Permanent Subcommittee on Investigations.

Goldman and Deutsche

Much of the blame for the 2008 market collapse belongs to banks that earned billions of dollars in profits creating and selling financial products that imploded along with the housing market, according to the report. The Levin-Coburn panel levied its harshest criticism at investment banks, in particular accusing Goldman Sachs and Deutsche Bank AG of peddling collateralized debt obligations backed by risky loans that the banks’ own traders believed were likely to lose value.

In a statement, New York-based Goldman Sachs denied that it had misled anyone about its activities. “The testimony we gave was truthful and accurate and this is confirmed by the subcommittee’s own report,” Goldman Sachs spokesman Lucas van Praag said.

“The report references testimony from Goldman Sachs witnesses who repeatedly and consistently acknowledged that we were intermittently net short during 2007. We did not have a massive net short position because our short positions were largely offset by our long positions, and our financial results clearly demonstrate this point,” van Praag said.

‘Divergent views’

In a statement, Deutsche Bank spokeswoman Michele Allison said, “As the PSI report correctly states, there were divergent views within the bank about the U.S. housing market. Moreover, the bank’s views were fully communicated to the market through research reports, industry events, trading desk commentary and press coverage. Despite the bearish views held by some, Deutsche Bank was long the housing market and endured significant losses.”

The panel’s report also examined the role of credit-rating firms in the meltdown, lax oversight by Washington regulators and the drop in lending standards that fueled the mortgage bubble and ultimately caused hundreds of bank failures.

The subcommittee’s findings show “without a doubt the lack of ethics in some of our financial institutions who embraced known conflicts of interest to accomplish wealth for themselves, not caring about the outcome for their customers,” said Coburn. “When that happens, no country can survive and neither can their financial institutions.”

Final assessment

The report is likely Washington’s final official assessment of the turmoil beginning in 2007 that froze credit markets, took down investment banks Bear Stearns Cos. and Lehman Brothers Holdings Inc., sent housing finance giants Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac into government conservatorship and caused the worst economic collapse in the U.S. since the Great Depression.

The $700 billion taxpayer bailout that followed in October 2008 upended the relationship between Wall Street and the federal government, turning CEOs like Blankfein and Lehman’s Richard Fuld into political punching bags. Populist anger at high-paid bank leaders helped fuel the passage of last year’s Dodd-Frank law, which set out the biggest changes to financial oversight since the 1930s.

The Senate report comes less than a year after Goldman Sachs paid $550 million to resolve SEC claims that it failed to disclose that hedge fund Paulson & Co was betting against, and influenced the selection of, CDOs the company was packaging and selling.

Goldman Sachs, in its settlement with the SEC, acknowledged that marketing materials for the 2007 CDO deal contained “incomplete information.”

Documents and Footnotes

The Senate subcommittee’s bipartisan report, buttressed by 2,800 footnotes and thousands of internal documents from Goldman Sachs and other firms, may have more impact than previous investigations into the crisis.

It’s an open question whether the Justice Department and the SEC will review its findings. Levin does not have the power to refer the allegations to federal authorities on his own. The subcommittee has a formal process for making referrals, which requires Levin to get the support of Coburn before making an official referral. Levin is going to recommend that the subcommittee make referrals, though he has not done it yet, staff members said.

The Levin report will be examined by policy makers including the SEC and Commodity Futures Trading Commission, which are writing hundreds of Dodd-Frank rules governing derivatives, mortgage securities and proprietary trading.

Coburn, the senior Republican on the subcommittee, said the review carries more heft than the three separate reports issued earlier this year by a politically divided Financial Crisis Inquiry Commission.

Goldman practices

“We don’t need commissions to do our job and this proves it,” Coburn said. The FCIC “spent $8 million and 15 months” on its inquiry and “didn’t report anything of significance.”

The panel said Goldman Sachs relied on “abusive” sales practices and was rife with conflicts of interest that encouraged putting profits ahead of clients.

“While we disagree with many of the conclusions of the report, we take seriously the issues explored by the subcommittee,” van Praag said.

Van Praag pointed to the firm’s recent examination of its business practices that prompted it to make “significant changes that will strengthen relationships with clients, improve transparency and disclosure and enhance standards for the review, approval and suitability of complex instruments.”

In the case of one CDO, Hudson Mezzanine Funding 2006-1, Goldman Sachs told investors its interests were “aligned” with theirs while the firm held 100 percent of the short side, according to the report.

Gemstone CDO

The report detailed a $1.1 billion Deutsche Bank CDO known as Gemstone VII, which was backed with subprime loans that its then-top trader, Greg Lippmann, referred to as “crap.” The head of the bank’s CDO group, Michael Lamont, said in an e-mail cited in the report that he would try to sell the CDO “before the market falls off a cliff.”

On lending, the panel alleges that executives at failed thrift Washington Mutual Inc. dumped its bad loans on clients while misleading them about their value.

“WaMu selected delinquency-prone loans for sale in order to move risk from the banks’ books to the investors in WaMu securities,” Levin said.

Compounding that problem, the subcommittee found, was an apparently cozy relationship between WaMu and its regulator, the Office of Thrift Supervision.

WaMu e-mail

The report cited a July 2008 e-mail from then-OTS director John Reich to WaMu CEO Kerry Killinger, in which Reich said the regulator would issue a memorandum of understanding regarding the bank’s problems.

“If someone were looking over our shoulders, they would probably be surprised we don’t already have one in place,” Reich wrote, apologizing twice for communicating the decision in an e-mail.

Under the Dodd-Frank regulatory overhaul, the OTS will be folded into other regulators in July.

“The head of OTS knew his agency had been providing preferential treatment to the bank,” Levin said. “The OTS was abolished by Dodd-Frank, and for good reasons.”

At yesterday’s press briefing Levin called credit rating firms Moody’s Investors Service and Standard & Poor’s “a key cause to the crisis.”

Triple-A ratings

The raters, which the report says stamped the highest Triple-A grades on securities they knew were souring, were hamstrung by a system that has a built-in conflict of interest, Levin said. The Wall Street banks pay the firms for their ratings, leading to competitive pressure between the firms that may have pushed them to more readily place a high rating on a product.

The panel released nine “findings of fact” on the failures of the credit raters, including inadequate resources, inaccurate rating models and a failure to reevaluate old ratings when they recognized they might be inaccurate.

The raters also “shocked the financial markets” with mass downgrades of thousands of residential mortgage-backed securities and CDO ratings, according to the report.

“Perhaps more than any other single event, the sudden mass downgrades of RMBS and CDO ratings were the immediate trigger for the financial crisis,” the report said.

http://www.washingtonpost.com/business/economy/goldman-sachs-misled-clients-lawmakers-on-cdos-senate-panel-says/2011/04/13/AFhEv8ZD_story.html?hpid=z3

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xx Re: Stuff & Nonsense
« Reply #3649 on: Apr 14th, 2011, 11:14am »

Reuters

Calls grow for Japan PM to quit in wake of quake

By Linda Sieg and Mayumi Negishi
TOKYO | Thu Apr 14, 2011 10:51am EDT


TOKYO (Reuters) - Japan's fragile post-disaster political truce unraveled on Thursday as the head of the main opposition party called on unpopular Prime Minister Naoto Kan to quit over his handling of the country's natural calamities and a nuclear crisis.

At the stricken Fukushima Daiichi plant in the northeast of the country, engineers were struggling to find a new way to cool one of the six crippled reactors and Japan's Nuclear and Industrial Safety Agency said it was now "highly likely" there was a hole in the suppression unit of the reactor.

Kan, whose public support stands at about 30 percent, had sought a grand coalition to help the country recover from its worst ever natural disaster and enact bills to pay for the country's biggest reconstruction project since World War Two.

Kan's Democratic Party controls parliament's lower house but needs opposition help to pass bills because it lacks a majority in the upper chamber, which can block legislation.

But the head of the main opposition Liberal Democratic Party (LDP) -- who last week ruled out joining hands -- on Thursday pressured Kan to go.

"The time has come for (the prime minister) to decide whether he stays or goes," Kyodo news agency quoted Sadakazu Tanigaki as telling a news conference.

Tanigaki's comment reflects the view of many in his conservative party that Kan must step down as a precondition for any coalition as well as a hope that criticism of Kan within his own Democratic Party will gather steam after party powerbroker Ichiro Ozawa blasted the premier over his crisis management.

Upper House speaker Takeo Nishioka, a well-known Kan critic from the Democrats, also urged Kan to resign, Kyodo said.

Kan, however, who took office as Japan's fifth leader since 2006 last June, is not likely to step down readily, while opposition parties could come under fire if they try to take disaster budgets hostage in a political battle, analysts said.

"Kan will probably ignore this," said Koichi Nakano, a Sophia University professor. "If they thought of the national interests, would they (Kan's critics) do this now?"

STILL NO CLOSER TO SOLVING NUCLEAR CRISIS

Five weeks ago a massive earthquake and tsunami left nearly 28,000 dead or missing, devastated a broad swathe of northeast Japan and damaged the Fukushima nuclear plant. There has been no sign of a resolution of the atomic crisis.

The nuclear safety agency said a new plan for cooling one of six reactors at the plant, 240 km (150 miles) northeast of Tokyo, may be needed due to the large volume of highly radioactive water on site, and tests would be done to determine if damaged spent fuel rods were emitting radiation.

"It may be difficult to completely remove the contaminated water and so allow work to proceed (in restoring power to the cooling pumps). We may need to think of other options," said Hidehiko Nishiyama, a deputy director-general of Japan's Nuclear Industry and Safety Authority.

Nishiyama said there was 20,000 tones of contaminated water in the basement and a tunnel under reactor No. 2.

"What makes the No.2 unit decisively different from No.1 and No.3 units are that it is highly likely that there is a hole on the (No.2 unit's) suppression chamber after as an explosion was heard. It would be an accurate speculation that there is leakage."

Engineers are also concerned that some spent fuel rods were damaged by the March 11 earthquake and tsunami and could be emitting high levels of radiation.

Japan's nuclear crisis has been rated on par with the world's worst nuclear crisis at Chernobyl in 1986, although the total amount of radiation released is only a fraction of that when the nuclear plant in Ukraine exploded.

Japan has expanded a 20-km (12-mile) evacuation zone around the plant because of high accumulated radiation. No radiation-linked deaths have been reported and only 21 plant workers have been affected by minor radiation sickness.

A series of strong aftershocks this week has rattled eastern Japan, slowing the recovery effort at the plant due to temporary evacuations of workers and power outages.

The total cost of the damage has been estimated at $300 billion, making it the world's most costly natural disaster.

Makoto Iokibe, head of a newly created government panel tasked to come up with a revival plan, floated the idea of setting up a special reconstruction tax in addition to bond sales and donations as ways to fund the bill.

"Given the potential scale of the cost, it might need to be shouldered by the entire Japanese people. That's why I mentioned (the special tax). But nothing concrete has been decided," Iokibe told a news conference after the panel's first meeting.

Business confidence plunged to a record low in April, according to a Reuters survey, and the International Monetary Fund (IMF) has warned the risk to the world's third largest economy is firmly on the downside.

The IMF cut Japan's economic growth forecast to 1.4 percent this year from 1.6 percent, projected three months ago, and the Bank of Japan is expected to cut its January growth forecast of 1.6 percent when it issues its twice-yearly outlook on April 28. ($1 = 83.890 yen)

(Additional reporting by Mayumi Negishi, Yoko Nishikawa, Kiyoshi Takenaka and Kazunori Takada in Tokyo, Alexei Anischuk in Sanya, China and Leika Kihara in Washington; Writing by Linda Sieg and David Chance; Editing by Robert Birsel and Sanjeev Miglani)

http://www.reuters.com/article/2011/04/14/us-japan-idUSTRE72A0SS20110414

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« Reply #3650 on: Apr 14th, 2011, 11:19am »

Wired

April 14, 1945: Tweaky Toilet Costs Skipper His Sub
By Tony Long
April 14, 2011 | 7:00 am
Categories: 20th century, Tech Gone Bad, Warfare and Military


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Photo: The last Type VII U-boat in existence, U-995, is now a museum at Laboe, Germany.
It’s the same model as the sub that was sunk because of a malfunctioning toilet.



1945: A malfunctioning high-tech toilet forces a German U-boat to the surface off the coast of Scotland, where it is promptly attacked by a British aircraft. The boat is scuttled as the crew abandons ship.

U-1206, sailing out of Kristiansand, Norway, as part of the 11th Flotilla, was cruising at a depth of roughly 200 feet when the commander, Kapitänleutnant Karl-Adolf Schlitt, decided to answer the call of nature. The submarine was a late-war Type VIIC, commissioned in March 1944. It carried a new type of toilet designed for use at greater depths.

Like a lot of new technology, the toilet was just a little buggy. Schlitt had trouble operating it. When he called an engineer for help, the man opened the wrong valve, allowing seawater to enter the boat.

When the water reached the batteries located beneath the toilet, the boat began filling with chlorine gas, forcing Schlitt to order U-1206 surfaced. Unfortunately for the Germans, the boat was only 10 miles off the Scottish coast, and it was quickly spotted by the British.

The crew was still blowing clean air into their U-boat when an aircraft appeared and attacked, killing four men on deck and damaging the boat so badly that it was unable to dive. Schlitt, seeing the game was up, gave the order to abandon and scuttle.

It was an ignominious end to Schlitt’s only combat patrol of the war as a commander — although, less than a month later, most of his U-boat comrades had joined him in captivity, as World War II came to an end in Europe.

As for U-1206, its wreck lay undisturbed until the mid-1970s, when workers laying an underwater oil pipeline came across the hulk sprawled on the seabed at 230 feet.

The Type VIIC was the workhorse of Germany’s U-boat fleet. The first VIIC, U-69, was commissioned in 1940, and 568 were built by various shipyards during the war, making it the most widely produced combat submarine in history.

Only one Type VIIC boat still exists. The U-995 is on permanent display as a museum in Laboe, outside Kiel, Germany. The U-505 (at Chicago’s Museum of Science and Industry) and U-534 (on display near Liverpool, England), are larger Type IXCs.

http://www.wired.com/thisdayintech/2011/04/0414toilet-malfunction-sinks-u-boat/

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« Reply #3651 on: Apr 14th, 2011, 11:21am »

Hollywood Reporter

Discovery Launching New Channel for Upscale Males
1:44 AM 4/14/2011
by THR staff

Velocity, which will replace HD Theater later this year, will feature programming about cars, sports and leisure, adventure and travel.
Discovery Communications is launching a new network targeted upscale males later this year.

The network, dubbed Velocity, will replace HD Theater and will be in 40 million homes when it launches in the fourth quarter.

“Velocity continues Discovery’s tradition of maximizing the value of each of its cable platforms. It is going to be a game changer when it officially joins our portfolio of U.S. networks later this year,” says David Zaslav, President and CEO of Discovery Communications. “As the first network devoted to the upscale men’s market, Velocity will be a hub for viewers within this key demographic, as well as the wealth of advertisers that target them.”

The programming, which will be entirely in high-definition, will primarily be centered around the genres of automotive, sports and leisure, adventure and travel.

“In the same way that a car once defined the person who drove it, Velocity will define the viewer who watches it,” says Robert S. Scanlon, svp of Velocity. “Whether you are a car aficionado or just someone who prefers fast-paced, high-stakes television, Velocity will become a must-have entertainment destination.”

HD Theater's automotive series including Inside West Coast Customs and Chasing Classic Cars will reportedly be part of the initial lineup.

"We started noticing some good ratings with some of our more upscale lifestyle programming, especially in the auto arena, and we just felt let's keep building on that, now's the time," Discovery COO Peter Liguori told Broadcasting &Cable, adding that "this is a niche and an arena that television really doesn't cover that extensively, and it felt like an opportunity for us."

HD Theater vp production and development Bob Scanlon has reportedly been tapped as senior vp of the new channel.

Discovery Communications couldn't be reached for comment late Wednesday.

http://www.hollywoodreporter.com/news/discovery-launching-new-channel-upscale-178101

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« Reply #3652 on: Apr 14th, 2011, 11:24am »

Defense News

Obama's Plan: Cut Defense Spending by $400B by 2023
By KATE BRANNEN
Published: 13 Apr 2011 19:02

The U.S. Defense Department will lead a "fundamental review" of U.S. military missions and capabilities in a bid to cut $400 billion over 10 years, President Obama said April 13.

"We need to not only eliminate waste and improve efficiency and effectiveness, but conduct a fundamental review of America's missions, capabilities and our role in a changing world," Obama said during a speech on his debt and deficit reduction plan at George Washington University.

The goal will be to hold growth in the defense base budget below inflation, which would save $400 billion by 2023, according to the White House. This deficit reduction effort is in addition to the savings generated from ramping-down overseas contingency operations, the White House said.

While Obama said he would work with Defense Secretary Robert Gates and the Joint Chiefs on the review, it will most likely fall to Gates' successor to oversee. Gates is expected to step down later this year.

"They're going to have to plan a build down," said Gordon Adams, who oversaw defense budgeting for the Clinton administration. The effectiveness of the review depends very much on how it's done and who is leading it, he said, adding the only way to do a serious roles and missions review is from the top-down, not the bottom-up.

Obama said he would make specific decisions about spending after the review is complete, a date that is still unknown.

"We just got this direction yesterday, so we don't yet have a timetable," Pentagon spokesman Geoff Morrell told reporters after the president's speech.

Obama praised Gates' efforts to find savings in the defense budget over the last two years, but said that more savings could be found.

"Secretary Gates has courageously taken on wasteful spending, saving $400 billion in current and future spending," Obama said. "I believe we can do that again."

Of the $400 billion already saved, $330 billion is supposed to come from Gates' cuts to weapons programs - for example the cancelation of the Army's Future Combat Systems program and the Air Force's Next-Generation Bomber, both of which Gates terminated in the 2010 budget. However, those two programs have been replaced: The Army is developing the Ground Combat Vehicle, and the Air Force has launched a scaled-back bomber program.

The remainder comes from Gates' effort to find efficiencies within the Pentagon.

Now, the Pentagon is being directed to find an additional $400 billion without compromising national security.

"As commander in chief, I have no greater responsibility than protecting our national security, and I will never accept cuts that compromise our ability to defend our homeland or America's interests around the world," he said.

Rep. Buck McKeon, R-Calif., the chairman of the House Armed Services Committee, is worried about what these cuts may mean for national security.

"I have grave concerns about the White House announcing a $400 billion cut to national security spending while our troops are fighting in three different theaters," McKeon said. "Additionally, assigning a specific number to national security cuts prior to the completion of a comprehensive review of our military's roles and missions seems to be putting the cart before the horse."

According to Morrell, Gates thinks this is the right sequence of events, by "conducting a comprehensive review first and only then making decisions on specific funding options."

Meanwhile, many Republicans have said that defense spending should be on the table in any deficit reduction plan, and the House Republicans' budget resolution for 2012 says exactly that.

Two bipartisan debt panels go even further than Obama in their proposals to tackle the national debt.

One effort, led by former Senate Budget Chairman Pete Domenici, R-N.M., and former Clinton White House budget director Alice Rivlin, proposes freezing defense spending at fiscal 2011 levels, saving $1.1 trillion through 2020.

Erskine Bowles and Alan Simpson, co-chairs of the bipartisan National Fiscal Commission, have called for similar levels in defense spending reductions, proposing a $100 billion cut from the defense budget top line in 2015 alone.

Whether it is $400 billion or more, the Pentagon will have to do more than look for efficiencies to reach these levels of savings, analysts agree.

"If you really want to get to significant budget savings, you have to start addressing some of those strategic questions about what you want DoD to be able to do in the future," Todd Harrison, a senior fellow for defense budget studies at the Center for Strategic and Budgetary Assessments, said in an interview last week.

Mission sets cannot continue to grow while budgets precipitously decline without a serious discussion about American foreign policy, said Mackenzie Eaglen, a defense analyst at the Heritage Foundation.

Gates has also said the Pentagon will need to consider force structure and military capability in certain areas to achieve significant savings.

"The secretary believes that this process must be about managing risk associated with future threats and national security challenges, and identifying missions that the country is willing to have the military forgo," Morrell said.
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http://www.defensenews.com/story.php?i=6229773&c=AME&s=TOP

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« Reply #3653 on: Apr 14th, 2011, 11:37am »

China Bans Time Travel

By Peter Farquhar
Published April 14, 2011

News Corp Australian Papers

It's the basis for some of the greatest sci-fi movies of all time -- The Terminator, Back to the Future, Black Knight, just to name a few.

But if you ever find yourself in China wanting to check out what Bill and Ted were up to last week, forget it. Time travelling is banned.

In a bogus move by the Cultural Revolution-loving dudes at China's State Administration for Radio, Film and Television, it has been decided that TV shows that deal with changing history "lack positive thoughts and meaning."

"The time-travel drama is becoming a hot theme for TV and films," it says. "But its content and the exaggerated performance style are questionable."

Some observers claim the real reason behind the ban is that the recent rash of TV time travel dramas focus too much on perceived happier times in the past for its citizens.

No dice, say the administrators.

"Many stories are totally made-up and are made to strain for an effect of novelty," they claim. Time travel plots are made up? Go on with you.

No, it's true: "They casually make up myths, have monstrous and weird plots, use absurd tactics, and even promote feudalism, superstition, fatalism and reincarnation.”

So no Dr Who? Well, maybe: The guidelines only "discourage" such content, rather than outright eliminate it.

But if you want to test out what the words "guidelines" and "discourage" mean when it comes to Chinese administration officials, be our guest. Just make sure you've got a deranged inventor ready to fire up the flux capacitor if it all appears to have gone pear-shaped.
Not that they would know . . .

Read more science and tech news at News.com.au.
http://www.foxnews.com/scitech/2011/04/14/china-bans-time-travel-tv-shows/
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xx Re: Stuff & Nonsense
« Reply #3654 on: Apr 14th, 2011, 11:53am »

on Apr 14th, 2011, 11:37am, Swamprat wrote:
China Bans Time Travel

By Peter Farquhar
Published April 14, 2011

News Corp Australian Papers

It's the basis for some of the greatest sci-fi movies of all time -- The Terminator, Back to the Future, Black Knight, just to name a few.

But if you ever find yourself in China wanting to check out what Bill and Ted were up to last week, forget it. Time travelling is banned.

In a bogus move by the Cultural Revolution-loving dudes at China's State Administration for Radio, Film and Television, it has been decided that TV shows that deal with changing history "lack positive thoughts and meaning."

"The time-travel drama is becoming a hot theme for TV and films," it says. "But its content and the exaggerated performance style are questionable."

Some observers claim the real reason behind the ban is that the recent rash of TV time travel dramas focus too much on perceived happier times in the past for its citizens.

No dice, say the administrators.

"Many stories are totally made-up and are made to strain for an effect of novelty," they claim. Time travel plots are made up? Go on with you.

No, it's true: "They casually make up myths, have monstrous and weird plots, use absurd tactics, and even promote feudalism, superstition, fatalism and reincarnation.”

So no Dr Who? Well, maybe: The guidelines only "discourage" such content, rather than outright eliminate it.

But if you want to test out what the words "guidelines" and "discourage" mean when it comes to Chinese administration officials, be our guest. Just make sure you've got a deranged inventor ready to fire up the flux capacitor if it all appears to have gone pear-shaped.
Not that they would know . . .

Read more science and tech news at News.com.au.
http://www.foxnews.com/scitech/2011/04/14/china-bans-time-travel-tv-shows/



This is the greatest headline! "China bans time travel"

Thanks Swamp.

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« Reply #3655 on: Apr 14th, 2011, 11:55am »



Please be an angel


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« Reply #3656 on: Apr 14th, 2011, 2:15pm »

The Hill

Obama admin to unveil secure online ID strategy Friday
By Gautham Nagesh - 04/14/11 02:55 PM ET

The Obama administration will unveil its strategy for creating a marketplace in secure online credentials on Friday at the U.S. Chamber of Commerce.

Commerce Secretary Gary Locke, White House cybersecurity coordinator Howard Schmidt and Sen. Barbara Mikulski (D-Md.) will be on hand to unveil the administration's National Strategy for Trusted Identities in Cyberspace (NSTIC), which will attempt to improve on the passwords users use to log in online.

Lawmakers and stakeholders have been eagerly awaiting the White House's legislative recommendations, which are expected to inform the upcoming debate over cybersecurity legislation. After months of inaction, both Senate Democrats and the White House have promised to open up the talks in the near future.

The White House claims its goal is to create a marketplace in secure online credentials with both public and private identity providers. Civil rights activists will doubtless be watching closely for the details of any government-issued online credentials, given past opposition to any form of national identity card.

The administration argues consistent standards for online identification and authentication will make transactions faster, safer and more private. The website for the NSTIC emphasizes that participation in the "identity ecosystem" will be voluntary.


"You will still be able to surf the Web, write a blog, participate in an online discussion, and post comments to a wiki anonymously or using a pseudonym," the site states.


"You would choose when to use your trusted ID. When you want stronger identity protection, you use your credential, enabling higher levels of trust and security."


Also attending Friday's event will be Rep. Dan Lungren (R-Calif.), DHS deputy secretary Jane Lute and National Economic Council director Gene Sperling, who will be on hand to underscore the importance of secure online networks to the country's economic future.


http://thehill.com/blogs/hillicon-valley/technology/156117-obama-admin-to-unveil-secure-online-id-strategy-friday

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« Reply #3657 on: Apr 15th, 2011, 08:15am »

New York Times

April 14, 2011
Pain of British Fiscal Cuts Could Inform U.S. Debate
By LANDON THOMAS Jr.

LONDON — In the United States, the debate over how to cut the long-term budget deficit is just getting under way.

But in Britain, one year into its own controversial austerity program to plug a gaping fiscal hole, the future is now. And for the moment, the early returns are less than promising.

Retail sales plunged 3.5 percent in March, the sharpest monthly downturn in Britain in 15 years. And a new report by the Center for Economic and Business Research, an independent research group based here, forecasts that real household income will fall by 2 percent this year. That would make Britain’s income squeeze the worst for two consecutive years since the 1930s.

All of which has challenged the view of Britain’s top economic official, George Osborne, that during a time of high deficits and economic weakness, the best approach is to aggressively attack the deficit first, through rapid-fire cuts aimed at the heart of Britain’s welfare state.

Doing so, says Mr. Osborne, the chancellor of the Exchequer, secures the trust of the financial markets, and thereby ensures the low interest rates necessary for long-term economic growth.

That approach, and the question of whether it risks stifling an economic recovery that might itself help narrow the budget gap, lies at the root of the deficit debate in the United States. On one side is the go-slow strategy favored by President Obama. On the other is the more radical path championed by the Republicans. The two camps are no doubt closely watching Britain’s experiment.

On paper, at least, both countries face broadly similar deficit challenges. Britain aims to close a fiscal gap of about 10 percent of gross domestic product. The comparable figure in the United States is 9.5 percent.

In Washington, the Republican proposal recently sketched out by Representative Paul D. Ryan of Wisconsin calls for broad and significant cuts in social spending, including Medicare and Medicaid, and wide-ranging tax cuts.

On Wednesday, President Obama called for a more balanced approach, one that he said would combine some tax increases for the wealthy with selective spending cuts that he said would not break the “basic social contract” of programs like Medicare and Medicaid.

While severe in its approach to spending cuts, the British plan lacks the stark sweep of the Republican proposal. Britons will certainly feel pain at the local government level as money dries up for care of the elderly, youth programs and trash collection. But icons like the National Health Service have largely been spared.

Other notable differences suggest that even Europe’s most conservative party is markedly to the left of the mainstream Republican position in the United States, and in some ways is more liberal than the position Mr. Obama has taken.

To strike a political balance, the coalition government led by Prime Minister David Cameron of the Conservative Party, Mr. Osborne — himself a Conservative — has retained a 50 percent income tax rate on the wealthiest individuals. That is among the highest in Europe, and it imposes more of a burden on the rich than anything Mr. Obama or anyone else in Washington would find politically feasible.

But in Britain, the big worry now is not tax rates. Instead, the fear is that Mr. Osborne’s emphasis on cuts in social spending — which aim to achieve an approximate budget surplus by 2015 and are likely to result in the loss of more than 300,000 government jobs — might tip the economy back into recession.

Already the government has had to slash its growth estimate to 1.7 percent, from 2.4 percent, for this year, as consumer incomes are under pressure from high inflation, weak wage growth and stagnant economic activity.

“My view is that we are in serious danger of a double-dip recession,” said Richard Portes, an economist at the London Business School. “This is going to be a cautionary tale.”

Not all economists agree, of course. And this week’s slight improvement in the unemployment rate, to 7.8 percent from 7.9 percent, suggests it is still too early to declare a second slump inevitable.

No one would disagree with Mr. Portes that a deficit of 10 percent of G.D.P. is unsustainable in the long run. But, with the opposition Labour Party, he argues that moving so quickly in the face of weak economic growth is not justified.

Mr. Osborne proposes to slash the deficit to 1.5 percent by 2015. By comparison, the stark program Mr. Ryan offers does not project reaching that deficit target until 2021.

Besides the difference in speed, a crucial distinction is how each plan would reach its goal. Mr. Osborne’s plan calls for 75 percent of savings to come from spending cuts, and the rest from mostly indirect revenue and tax increases — an increase in the sales tax, for example.

Mr. Ryan, on the other hand, proposes to slash spending by $5.8 trillion but — in contrast to the British approach — would allow most of the spending reductions to be offset by $4.2 trillion in tax cuts, rather than applied to closing the deficit gap. In other words, while Mr. Ryan would lean heavily on spending cuts to close the deficit, he also hopes to spur the sort of supply-side economic growth most often discussed when Ronald Reagan was in the White House.

But while the continued lure of Reagan-style tax policy seems to have contributed significantly to the Ryan plan, Mr. Osborne has defied the popular caricature of him as a heartless Tory pushing a Thatcheresque agenda. He has refused to cut the tax rate for top earners, despite calls to do so from his party’s right flank and Britain’s powerful financial sector.

Such an approach might still be heresy to many Republicans in the United States. But in Britain, as in the rest of Europe, it has become widely accepted.

“It’s hard to cut taxes and lower the deficit — that is why personal tax cuts can’t be justified,” said Patrick Nolan, chief economist at Reform, a right-of-center research organization based here.

Mr. Osborne has taken other steps to make sure the wealthy pay their share, from taxing banks to the oil companies, which Mr. Osborne’s top advisers say is crucial to convincing Britons that sacrifice will be shared. While gritting their teeth at these populist measures, Britain’s businesses and banks have largely accepted Mr. Osborne’s plan.

Last week, as Portugal became the third country in Europe, after Greece and Ireland, to petition the European Union for a financial bailout, Mr. Osborne was vocal in underscoring his central contention as a deficit hawk: that in this new debt-averse era, no country has the luxury of delaying the painful steps needed to balance government books.

Many analysts support that view.

“People can march and break windows all they like, but you can not get away from not cutting the deficit,” Douglas McWilliams, the chief economist at the Center for Economic and Business Research and an author of its report on the plight of the British consumer.

His forecast of about 1 percent British economic growth this year is one of the lowest to be found anywhere. Yet he, too, says that to backtrack now from the government’s austerity plan would be folly — and would severely rattle the British bond market, which has been quite forgiving compared with the high interest rates the markets have imposed on Greece, Ireland and Portugal.

Remarkably, yields on the British government’s 10-year bonds are slightly above the 3.6 percent or so achieved by Germany, which has Europe’s healthiest economy. That is partly because Britain lies outside of the euro zone and can control its own monetary policy. But those relatively low interest rates have helped gird the support Mr. Osborne has so far received from the British business community.

In that sense, comparing the British and American deficit-cutting plans becomes a bit more difficult. In Europe the bond market is the ultimate judge of deficit-reduction plans. In the United States, by contrast, the global demand for Treasury bills, and the benefits of the Federal Reserve Board’s easy-money “quantitative easing” policy, have kept 10-year bond yields well below those of Britain.

Those low American interest rates, in turn, have reduced the pressure on Washington to take more immediate, painful steps to pare the deficit.

But, as the example of Europe has borne out, at some stage foreign bond investors might tire of financing unsustainable deficits — even Washington’s. If and when they do, a government has little choice but to cut.

How deep, and how fast, depends on how long a government waits to begin.


http://www.nytimes.com/2011/04/15/business/global/15iht-pound15.html?_r=1&hp

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« Reply #3658 on: Apr 15th, 2011, 08:19am »

LA Times

U.S. urged dealer to continue gun sales despite concerns, inquiry finds

The Arizona gun dealer repeatedly raised red flags about weapons ending up in the hands of Mexican drug cartels as part of Project Gunrunner, but his concerns were brushed aside, congressional investigators say.

By Kim Murphy, Los Angeles Times
April 15, 2011

The investigation into a federal operation that allowed Mexican drug cartels to acquire U.S. weapons escalated Thursday with new revelations that an Arizona gun dealer repeatedly expressed fears that his guns were falling into the "hands of the bad guys" but was encouraged by federal agents to continue the sales.

A series of emails released by congressional investigators showed that the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives encouraged the gun dealer against his better judgment to sell high-powered weapons to buyers he believed were agents for the drug cartels.

Employees of the dealer videotaped gun buyers — suspected "straw purchasers" who could legally buy the guns, though cartel members could not — exchanging money with other individuals on the dealer's premises.

The aim of the ATF program, called Project Gunrunner, was to gather intelligence on suspicious weapons sales and arrest senior members of international trafficking chains.

In an eerie case of premonition, the gun dealer expressed fears that the guns he was selling could be used against U.S. border agents.

"I wanted to make sure that none of the firearms that were sold per our conversation with you and various ATF agents could or would ever end up south of the border or in the hands of the bad guys," the dealer, who has not been named, wrote in June 2010 to David Voth, the lead ATF case agent in Phoenix. "I want to help ATF with its investigation but not at the risk of agents' safety, because I have some very close friends that are U.S. Border Patrol agents in southern AZ."

Three guns sold to suspects who were part of Project Gunrunner have since turned up at the scenes of the deaths of two U.S. agents — in the Mexican state of San Luis Potosi and near the Mexican border in Arizona.

"Not only were the ATF agents who later blew the whistle [on the investigation] predicting that this operation would end in tragedy, so were the gun dealers — even as ATF urged them to make the sales," Sen. Charles E. Grassley (R-Iowa), ranking member of the Senate Judiciary Committee, said in a letter with the new emails to Atty. Gen. Eric H. Holder Jr.

The Justice Department in its only official response to the congressional inquiry denied that the ATF "sanctioned" or "otherwise knowingly allowed" the sale of assault weapons to straw purchasers, who then transported them to Mexico.

The new emails suggest that the Arizona gun dealer was seeking assurances from the ATF and the U.S. attorney's office that the company would not be held responsible if someone got hurt with guns that ended up in the hands of gunrunners.

Voth, the ATF agent, wrote to the dealer: "I understand that the frequency with which some individuals under investigation by our office have been purchasing firearms from your business has caused concerns for you. … However, if it helps put you at ease we (ATF) are continually monitoring these suspects using a variety of investigative techniques which I cannot go into [in] detail."

News reports in June 2010 that guns purchased in the U.S. were being found at Mexican crime scenes prompted the dealer to again express concerns.

"I shared my concerns with you guys that I wanted to make sure that none of the firearms that were sold per our conversation with you and various ATF agents could or would ever end up south of the border or in the hands of the bad guys," the dealer wrote, adding that the reports are "disturbing."

On "one or two" occasions when the dealer's employees videotaped a suspected straw purchaser exchanging money with another person, the ATF urged that the sale go forward, but the employees refused, Grassley said in his letter.

"In light of this new evidence, the Justice Department's claim that the ATF never knowingly sanctioned or allowed the sale of assault weapons to straw purchasers is simply not credible," Grassley wrote.

Thousands of guns were sold to straw purchasers under Project Gunrunner. The ATF has acknowledged that at least 195 U.S. firearms sold to suspected straw purchasers have been recovered in Mexico, but agents have said thousands slipped outside ATF oversight.


http://www.latimes.com/news/nationworld/nation/la-na-guns-20110415,0,132336.story

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« Reply #3659 on: Apr 15th, 2011, 08:24am »

Wired

April 15, 1726: Apple Doesn’t Fall Far From Physicist
By Randy Alfred
April 15, 2011 | 7:00 am
Categories: 18th century, Astronomy, Physics

1726: Isaac Newton tells a biographer the story of how an apple falling in his garden prompted him to develop his law of universal gravitation. It will become an enduring origin story in the annals of science, and it may even be true.

Newton was apparently fond of telling the tale, but written sources do not reveal a specific date for the fabled fruit-fall. We do know that on this day in 1726, William Stukeley talked with Newton in the London borough of Kensington, and Newton told him how, many years before, the idea had occurred to him.

As recounted in Stukeley’s Memoirs of Sir Isaac Newton’s Life:

It was occasioned by the fall of an apple, as he sat in contemplative mood. Why should that apple always descend perpendicularly to the ground, thought he to himself. Why should it not go sideways or upwards, but constantly to the earth’s centre.


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Image: Isaac Newton was 83 when he told a biographer the tale of observing an apple fall at age 23.
He’s 46 in this 1689 painting by Godfrey Kneller.



Newton (like Ben Franklin and his kite) may have indulged in some self-mythologizing here. Surely, the puzzle was not that things fell down rather than sideways. Isn’t that what the concepts “fall” and “down” are about?

Newton’s breakthrough was not that things fell down, but that the force that made them fall extended upward infinitely (reduced by the square of the distance), that the force exists between any two masses, and that the same force that makes an apple fall holds the moon and planets in their courses.

John Conduitt, Newton’s assistant at the Royal Mint (and also his nephew-in-law), tells the story this way:

In the year [1666] he retired again from Cambridge on account of the plague to his mother in Lincolnshire & whilst he was musing in a garden it came into his thought that the same power of gravity (which made an apple fall from the tree to the ground) was not limited to a certain distance from the earth but must extend much farther than was usually thought — Why not as high as the Moon said he to himself & if so that must influence her motion & perhaps retain her in her orbit, whereupon he fell a calculating what would be the effect of that supposition but being absent from books & taking the common estimate in use among Geographers & our sea men before Norwood had measured the earth, that 60 English miles were contained in one degree of latitude his computation did not agree with his Theory & inclined him then to entertain a notion that together with the power of gravity there might be a mixture of that force which the moon would have if it was carried along in a vortex, but when the Tract of Picard of the measure of the earth came out shewing that a degree was about 69½ English miles, He began his calculation a new & found it perfectly agreeable to his Theory.

A much finer tale: It shows one of the great minds of the millennium entertaining proper scientific doubt about his hypothesis, before better measurement and better data ultimately provide confirmation.

Voltaire also wrote of the event in 1727, the year Newton died: “Sir Isaac Newton walking in his gardens, had the first thought of his system of gravitation, upon seeing an apple falling from a tree.”

Note that no one, from Newton on down (so to speak) claims the apple bopped him on the bean. Makes a good cartoon, sure, but such an event, if it happened, might have set the guy speculating instead on why — and how — pain hurts.

http://www.wired.com/thisdayintech/2011/04/0415isaac-newton-apple-story/

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