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 veryhotthread  Author  Topic: Stuff & Nonsense  (Read 149838 times)
WingsofCrystal
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« Reply #3660 on: Apr 15th, 2011, 08:34am »

Geek Tyrant

15 April 2011
by Tiberius


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Planet of the apes infographic. August 5th release date.

http://geektyrant.com/news/2011/4/15/planet-of-the-apes-infographic.html

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« Reply #3661 on: Apr 15th, 2011, 08:42am »

Reuters

By Adrian Croft

BERLIN | Fri Apr 15, 2011 7:48am EDT

BERLIN (Reuters) - Britain has made progress in persuading other countries to supply more strike aircraft for NATO operations in Libya, British Foreign Secretary William Hague said on Friday.

But Italy, seen as a key potential candidate to increase NATO firepower in Libya, immediately ruled out ordering its aircraft to open fire.

Rome has made air bases available for NATO forces and has contributed eight aircraft to the mission but only for reconnaissance and monitoring.

Britain and France have called on other NATO allies to contribute more ground attack aircraft to the Libya operation, aimed at halting attacks on civilians by forces loyal to leader Muammar Gaddafi.

But the United States and European NATO allies meeting in Berlin on Thursday rebuffed French and British calls to contribute more actively to the air war.

"We are talking to other countries about providing more strike assets," Hague told reporters after talks with U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton on the sidelines of a NATO foreign ministers' meeting.

"Certainly we are making a bit of progress on that and so I'm hopeful there will be more strike assets made available to NATO," he said.

He declined to say who might provide extra ground strike aircraft, saying it was up to each country to make its own announcements.

STALEMATE

However, Italy immediately said it was not changing its stance, despite the pressure from Britain and France.

"The current line being followed by Italy is the right one and we are not thinking about changing our contribution to the military operations in Libya," Italian Defense Minister Ignazio La Russa told reporters in Rome.

Hague said the United States and Britain saw eye-to-eye on what extra military assets were required for the Libya mission.

"Of course, we've discussed some specifics about what we will do. I can't go into detail in public about those things at the moment," he said of his discussions with Clinton.

France, Britain and the United States, whose leaders vowed on Friday to keep up their military campaign in Libya until Gaddafi leaves power, are seeking ways to increase pressure on him to avoid a lengthy military stalemate.

French Defense Minister Gerard Longuet said on Friday France and Britain wanted to extend air strikes to logistics and decision centers of Gaddafi's army, rather than start arming rebels.

(Additional reporting by David Brunnstrom, James Mackenzie in Rome, Catherine Bremer in Paris; editing by David Brunnstrom)

http://www.reuters.com/article/2011/04/15/us-libya-nato-idUSTRE73E20U20110415

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« Reply #3662 on: Apr 15th, 2011, 6:56pm »

Entertainment Weekly

Apr 15 2011
06:59 PM ET

More on Leonard Nimoy's 'animated' return.
Plus: The producers on the show's 'anti-climactic' renewal

by Jeff Jensen

At least one of Fringe’s nerve-wracking, season-long mysteries has been resolved.

SPOILER ALERT!

Fox’s ratings-challenged Friday-night sci-fi saga has been renewed for a full, fourth season. The big question: What — and who — will be left standing after the sure-to-be cataclysmic season 3 finale? The show begins answering that question tonight with the first of its final four episodes of the season, a trippy affair that returns Leonard Nimoy to the story, and in a most shall we say animated fashion. “The story finds William Bell’s consciousness still inside Olivia’s body – and causing some major complications,” exec producer Jeff Pinkner tells EW. “Beginning with tonight’s episode, we’re really accelerating the storytelling as we drive toward our season finale, which, as we usually do, will flip things in such a way that opens a door and offers a peek at what next season’s storytelling will be.” (For more intel of what’s forthcoming on Fringe, Sandra Gonzalez has scoop for you here: http://insidetv.ew.com/2011/03/25/fringe-bones-parenthood-ncis-la-find-out-whats-next-in-the-spoiler-room/
and here: http://insidetv.ew.com/2011/04/15/fringe-exec-producers-jeff-pinkner-and-j-h-wyman-preview-spoilers-return/ )

But back to the drama of Fringe’s renewal, which according to Pinkner and his partner-in-showrunning J.H. Wyman wasn’t that dramatic at all. “It was exciting, but also a little bit anti-climactic,” says Pinkner. “I think the fan community felt [Fringe] was more on the bubble than we ever felt.” Never mind the handwringing of fans and cast: Even with the move to Fox’s infamous Friday night “death slot,” the former home of quickly-cancelled sci-fi series Firefly and Terminator: The Sarah Connor Chronicles, and even with viewership that has fluctuated around the 5 million mark for much of the year (not counting DVR numbers), Pinkner and Wyman say they received nothing but positive, encouraging feedback from Fox and the show’s producer, Warner Bros. Television. “What was coming back to us all season was that everyone was loving the show creatively and that everyone was content with the number,” he says. Wyman praises Fox entertainment president Kevin Reilly in particular for being “a huge supporter of the show and deeply invested in the programming that Jeff and I are producing.” (That said, Wyman adds that Team Fringe is deeply grateful to all the fans who showed their support for the series by mailing buckets of Red Vines – one of sweets-loving Walter’s fave food stuffs — to Fox HQ.)

The producers say there were no caveats to the show’s full-season, 22-episode pick-up. “There were no creative conditions,” says Pinkner. They also add that they were not asked to produce the show at a reduced budget, either. Will the show remain on Friday night? “We have had no information that it’s staying or moving,” says Pinkner. “The implied presumption is that it’s staying. If it changes, we won’t know for quite awhile.”

http://insidetv.ew.com/2011/04/15/fringe-leonard-nimoy-renewal/

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xx Re: Stuff & Nonsense
« Reply #3663 on: Apr 15th, 2011, 8:30pm »

Intriguing Fox News clip. Much has been written about these types of experiences. At this point, I think people have to decide for themselves what to believe.

http://www.kdvr.com/news/kdvr-after-neardeath-experience-boy-writes-book-heaven-is-real-20110210,0,2566980.story
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"Let's see what's over there."
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xx Re: Stuff & Nonsense
« Reply #3664 on: Apr 16th, 2011, 08:26am »

on Apr 15th, 2011, 8:30pm, Swamprat wrote:
Intriguing Fox News clip. Much has been written about these types of experiences. At this point, I think people have to decide for themselves what to believe.

http://www.kdvr.com/news/kdvr-after-neardeath-experience-boy-writes-book-heaven-is-real-20110210,0,2566980.story


Good morning Swamprat,

I believe that there is something after we die but I don't go as far as a literal translation of Revelations. As usual I'll sit on the fence. grin Thanks for that article.

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« Reply #3665 on: Apr 16th, 2011, 08:29am »

New York Times

April 16, 2011
Blast Kills 9 at Afghan Base, Including 5 from NATO
By ALISSA J. RUBIN

KABUL, Afghanistan — For the second time in as many days, a suicide bomber used an Afghan National Security uniform to elude early detection and approach his target, killing five NATO service members attending an early Saturday morning meeting at the headquarters of the Afghan 201 Corps in eastern Afghanistan. The bombing was one of the worst attacks of its kind, according to NATO and Afghan military officials.

The explosion at Forward Operating Base Gamberi on the border of Laghman and Nangahar Provinces in eastern Afghanistan also appears to have killed at least four Afghan National Army soldiers, according to Baz Mohammed Sherzad, the director of the public health hospital in Nangahar, which received the bodies of the dead. Eight other Afghans were wounded, including four Afghan soldiers and four interpreters who were accompanying the foreigners in the meeting, Afghan officials said.

It was one of the most lethal attacks involving the penetration of a military installation by an assailant — a style of attack that appears to be increasingly favored by the Taliban. In November 2010, six American soldiers were killed by a man wearing a border police uniform at a military training area in Nangahar, and a year earlier five British troops in Helmand were killed by an Afghan wearing a police uniform. There have been a number of other attacks with lower death tolls by people wearing the uniforms of the security forces. Typically, even predominantly Afghan bases and many smaller outposts have some NATO troops partnered with the Afghans.

“The Afghan and foreign forces had a meeting as usual, and an explosion took place, and the area is now surrounded,” said Maj. Mohammed Osman, a spokesman for the 201 Corps. “We found one leg that we expect might be from the suicide bomber.”

The Taliban claimed responsibility for the attack and said it was the beginning of their spring campaign, which they said would focus on infiltration of the security forces.

“We had recruited this man one month ago and he was serving as an Afghan soldier for the last month,” said Zabiullah Mujahid, the Taliban’s spokesman for the north and east of Afghanistan.

“Today, he got a very good chance to attack because Afghan and foreign military officials has a meeting at the base,” Mr. Mujahid said. He added that these kinds of attacks were “very useful for us — recruiting someone and working inside the Afghan forces — these attacks inflict more casualties to the enemy and does not inflict any civilians casualties.”

The attack on Saturday followed a Friday attack in which a suicide bomber wearing a police uniform killed Gen. Khan Mohammed Mujahid, the police chief of Kandahar Province, a revered figure both in Kandahar and around the country.

American officers have said privately that they are concerned with infiltration of the military and the police as they rapidly grow in numbers. In recent months the military’s leadership has taken steps to deal with it, said Lt. Gen. William B. Caldwell IV, who leads the United States and NATO training mission in Afghanistan.

In a speech last week at Chatham House, a military and strategic research institute in London, General Caldwell said that the training mission had begun to train counterintelligence agents to help find Taliban and insurgent infiltrators in the ranks of the security forces. About half of the target of 445 agents have completed the training, he said, Reuters reported.

“We’re bringing counterintelligence personnel into the lowest level of all the organizations ... whose sole mission in life is to look for those who may be attempting to infiltrate in or turn somebody who was already in toward the Taliban,” General Caldwell said.


An earlier version of this article misstated the rank of Lt. Gen. William B. Caldwell IV.

Sharifullah Sahak contributed reporting from Kabul, and an employee of The New York Times from Nangahar.

http://www.nytimes.com/2011/04/17/world/asia/17afghanistan.html?ref=world

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« Reply #3666 on: Apr 16th, 2011, 08:35am »

Telegraph

Trainers join gold, steak and truffles as Adidas releases lightest ever basketball shoe

Gold, steak, truffles and trainers. Spotting the odd one out would have been an easy point in a pub quiz – until this week.


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The AdiZero Crazy Light is a signature shoe for Chicago Bulls star Derrick Rose


By Richard Blackden, US Business Editor
8:00AM BST 16 Apr 2011

Adidas, the sportswear giant, wants to turn trainers into one of life’s luxuries you’re prepared to pay for in ounces. Well, it’s one specific pair of trainers: the AdiZero Crazy Light.

Designed for basketball players, the shoe weighs in at 9.8 ounces and will sell for $130 (£80). Or, when you’re next in a shoe shop, at just over £8 an ounce. The Germany company claims the shoe, which will go in sale in June, is 7.5pc lighter than the nearest offering from arch rival Nike, named after Kobe Bryant, one of the game’s biggest stars.

The secret to the weight loss, says Adidas, is an ultra-thin exoskeleton that eliminates the layers and the glue typically used in basketball shoes.

“The design process did not start with a pencil,” explains Robbie Fuller, the lead developer. “Scissors, glue, sewing machines, then test, fail, startover.”

Adidas and Nike are waging a battle on several sporting fronts to make trainers and boots as light as possible, and those who wear them, faster. Just don’t expect to suddenly start making those three-point shots if you’re not any good to start with.

http://www.telegraph.co.uk/finance/newsbysector/retailandconsumer/8454643/Trainers-join-gold-steak-and-truffles-as-Adidas-releases-lightest-ever-basketball-shoe.html

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« Reply #3667 on: Apr 16th, 2011, 08:38am »

Wired Threat Level

U.S. Shuttering Online Gambling Sites
By David Kravets
April 15, 2011 | 8:02 pm
Categories: Crime, politics

Federal authorities unsealed indictments against the operators of some of the world’s largest online gambling sites and moved Friday to seize their U.S domains.

The U.S. attorney in Manhattan, Preet Bharara, charged Isai Scheinberg, the founder of PokerStars, and Raymond Bitar, the founder of Full Tilt Poker, and nine others of fraudulently scheming to thwart a 2006 antigaming law that prohibits U.S. banks from processing internet wagers and payments.

The indictments seek the return of $3 billion in allegedly ill-gotten gains. The charges come amid renewed efforts to legalize online gaming in the United States, and as U.S. authorities increasingly invoke asset-forfeiture statutes to seize the American online domains of sites deemed illicit.

Those indicted on Friday are accused of masking payments from U.S. gamblers (.pdf) in the form of jewelry, golf balls and flower sales — all in a bid to circumvent the Unlawful Internet Gambling Enforcement Act. The top-level domain seizures include PokerStars, Full Tilt Poker, UB and Absolute Poker. Some of the sites were still rendering Friday afternoon.

Defendant John Campos, vice president of SunFirst Bank of Utah, is accused of processing gambling revenues in exchange for a $10 million “investment,” according to the indictment. Campos is expected to make his first court appearance Monday.

“As charged, these defendants concocted an elaborate criminal fraud scheme, alternately tricking some U.S. banks and effectively bribing others to assure the continued flow of billions in illegal gambling profits. Moreover, as we allege, in their zeal to circumvent the gambling laws, the defendants also engaged in massive money laundering and bank fraud,” the U.S. attorney said in a statement.

Two of the world’s biggest online gaming houses — PokerStars, based in the Isle of Man, and Full Tilt, based in Ireland — account for about $1.4 billion in revenues, Forbes said.

Scheinberg and Bitar have not been arrested and are located outside the United States. The government said it was working with foreign governments and Interpol to secure their arrests and assets.

http://www.wired.com/threatlevel/2011/04/online-gaming-forfeiture/#more-25343

It looks like the government wants to be the only one to put us all in the poor house.
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« Reply #3668 on: Apr 16th, 2011, 08:41am »

Reuters

Human rights and the US as global judge
Apr 15, 2011 12:20 EDT

Bernd Debusmann is a Reuters columnist.
The opinions expressed are his own.

WASHINGTON — Every year since 1976, The U.S. Department of State has published an extraordinarily detailed report on the state of human rights in the world. The latest, out in April, runs to more than 2 million words. Printed out from State’s website, it would run to more than 7,000 pages. The report covers 194 countries.

That’s every country in the world, except one: the United States.

Which gives rise to a few questions. Is the United States the one and only country on the planet with a perfect record of observing human rights, at home or in the countries where it wages war? If not, why does the government feel entitled to scrutinize the human rights practices of others? The report discovers blemishes even in countries that rarely come to mind in the context of human rights violations.

Switzerland, say, where in 2010 “police at times used excessive force, occasionally with impunity.” Or Canada, where “human rights problems included harassment of religious minorities, violence against women, and trafficking in persons.” Or the tiny South Pacific archipelago of Vanuatu, where American human rights checkers found “police violence, poor prison conditions, arrests without warrants, an extremely slow judicial process, government corruption, and violence and discrimination against women.”

U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton describes the annual report as “the most comprehensive record available of the condition of human rights around the world” and its attention to detail is indeed impressive. The Vanuatu chapter, for example, runs to almost 5,000 words, a lot considering there are only 220,000 inhabitants.

Given the effort that goes into the report, the only global assessment of human rights by a government (as opposed to private advocacy groups), one might assume that its findings play a major role in shaping U.S. foreign policy. But that is not the case. Where U.S. national interests are at stake, human rights violations are not necessarily obstacles to normal or even close relations.

“It’s easy to see the whole exercise as holier-than-thou preening that alienates even countries sympathetic to the cause,” wrote David Bosco, a professor at American University’s School of International Service, in a comment in Foreign Policy magazine. Among some countries, American criticism produces not alienation but red-hot fury.

Russia, heavily criticized in the latest U.S. report, shot back by describing the document as “obvious evidence of the use of ‘double standards’ and the politicization of human rights issues.” Russia’s foreign ministry pointed to “odious special prisons in Guantanamo and Bagram, still functioning despite promises to shut them down” as part of the reasons why the United States should clean its own house before criticizing others.

China, another target of American rebuke, has been so angered by the human rights reports that it began publishing an annual counter-report in 2000, focused solely on the United States. The latest came out just two days after the U.S. report which highlighted China’s intensifying crackdown on dissidents, human rights activists, journalists, and lawyers.

HUMAN RIGHTS AS POLITICAL TOOL

China’s response: “The United States ignores its own severe human rights problems, ardently promoting its so-called ‘human rights diplomacy’, treating human rights as a political tool to vilify other countries and advance its own strategic interests.”

The Russo-Chinese-American sniping brought to mind the old adage that people in glass houses are well advised not to throw stones but China’s point about human rights as a political tool and the primacy of strategic interests merits closer attention than it tends to get in the United States.

In a just-published, thought-provoking book, Ideal Illusions — How the U.S. Government Co-Opted Human Rights, the historian James Peck argues that beginning in the 1970s, Washington began shaping human rights into an ideological weapon for reasons that had more to do with promoting America’s global reach than with furthering rights.

In the words of its introduction, the latest U.S. report provides “encyclopedic detail” on human rights for 2010, before the turmoil that has swept North Africa and the Middle East in the first three months of 2011. “However, our perspectives on many issues are now framed ” by these changes.

The changes provided yet more evidence that the universal values Washington officially espouses are not universally applied and that self-interest can trump human rights considerations. After mass protests swept from power the autocratic rulers of Tunisia and Egypt, other countries reacted to popular uprisings with violent repression. In Libya, the United States has sided militarily with the opposition. In Yemen, the United States called for the president to step down.

No such calls for the royal rulers of Bahrain, where pro-democracy demonstrations prompted the imposition of martial law, more than two dozen people were reported killed and 400 arrested in a ruthless crackdown supported by neighboring Saudi Arabia. Bahrain is of key importance to the U.S. — it’s the base of its Fifth Fleet which patrols vital oil shipping lanes.

“We hope that this (human rights) report will give comfort to the activists,” Clinton said on April 8. To those in Bahrain probably not.

(You can contact the author at Debusmann@Reuters)

http://blogs.reuters.com/bernddebusmann/2011/04/15/human-rights-and-the-us-as-global-judge/

Crystal
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« Reply #3669 on: Apr 16th, 2011, 11:45am »

Airlock Alpha

Sponsor Steps In To Save TrekFest Con In Iowa
Trekkies will be welcome after all to the 'future birthplace of James T. Kirk'

by MICHAEL HINMAN, Posted Apr-11-2011
Source: The Gazette


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Looks like elected officials in Riverside, Iowa, aren't too keen about being known as the "future birthplace of James T. Kirk."

Council members voted last month to deny its annual $10,000 contribution to TrekFest, a weekend-long Star Trek convention of sorts hosted by the town in June. That lack of funding put the convention in jeopardy -- until a sponsor stepped in to save the day.

Mindbridge Foundation, which sponsors sci-fi and other genre conventions in Eastern Iowa, said it would donate $5,000 to the Riverside Area Community Club, which sponsors TrekFest. It matched private donations raised by the convention organizers in a town that has less than 1,000 residents.

"Our role is to promote science-fiction and give back, and TrekFest is a wonderful thing that is deserving of that support," Mindbridge spokesman Dennis Lynch told The Gazette.

Residents of the small town had apparently grown weary of spending money on what they deem to be a private enterprise, despite the potential tourism potential having the Kirk connection brings. The bad economy -- where many local governments are struggling to find tax dollars -- probably didn't help much either.

"That's where it's touchy, especially in a small town," resident Jerry Murphy told the newspaper. "They have the money, but they don't know where the money should go."

The $10,000 would equate to about a $10 contribution from every resident in Riverside. However, local tourism dollars are actually generated by a nearby casino, and not from property tax coffers, The Gazette said.

Riverside earned its designation as the birthplace of Kirk in 1985 after a city councilman was looking for a theme for the annual town festival and had learned Kirk was said to hail from Iowa. The town later got Gene Roddenberry's endorsement for the official designation, although official references to Riverside didn't happen until J.J. Abrams' 2009 film "Star Trek." But even then, Kirk was born in space and raised in Iowa.

The town council has provided financial support to the convention every year since, attracting the likes of George Takei, Walter Koenig, Grace Lee Whitney and William Shatner himself, who showed up in the town as part of a reality show with SpikeTV.

Riverside isn't the only town that has tried to cash in on a Star Trek connection. Vulcan, Alberta has used its name to create a link with Mr. Spock. In 2009, after it failed to reach an agreement with Paramount Pictures to show the Abrams film in the Vulcan gymnasium, Leonard Nimoy personally reached out to news outlets like Airlock Alpha to make sure residents there could see the movie.

Paramount later compromised and bussed residents to nearby Calgary for the film's premiere.

http://www.airlockalpha.com/node/8412/sponsor-steps-in-to-save-trekfest-con-in-iowa.html#

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« Reply #3670 on: Apr 16th, 2011, 3:35pm »

on Apr 15th, 2011, 6:56pm, WingsofCrystal wrote:
Entertainment Weekly

Apr 15 2011
06:59 PM ET

More on Leonard Nimoy's 'animated' return.
Plus: The producers on the show's 'anti-climactic' renewal

by Jeff Jensen

At least one of Fringe’s nerve-wracking, season-long mysteries has been resolved.

SPOILER ALERT!

Fox’s ratings-challenged Friday-night sci-fi saga has been renewed for a full, fourth season. The big question: What — and who — will be left standing after the sure-to-be cataclysmic season 3 finale? The show begins answering that question tonight with the first of its final four episodes of the season, a trippy affair that returns Leonard Nimoy to the story, and in a most shall we say animated fashion. “The story finds William Bell’s consciousness still inside Olivia’s body – and causing some major complications,” exec producer Jeff Pinkner tells EW. “Beginning with tonight’s episode, we’re really accelerating the storytelling as we drive toward our season finale, which, as we usually do, will flip things in such a way that opens a door and offers a peek at what next season’s storytelling will be.” (For more intel of what’s forthcoming on Fringe, Sandra Gonzalez has scoop for you here: http://insidetv.ew.com/2011/03/25/fringe-bones-parenthood-ncis-la-find-out-whats-next-in-the-spoiler-room/
and here: http://insidetv.ew.com/2011/04/15/fringe-exec-producers-jeff-pinkner-and-j-h-wyman-preview-spoilers-return/ )

But back to the drama of Fringe’s renewal, which according to Pinkner and his partner-in-showrunning J.H. Wyman wasn’t that dramatic at all. “It was exciting, but also a little bit anti-climactic,” says Pinkner. “I think the fan community felt [Fringe] was more on the bubble than we ever felt.” Never mind the handwringing of fans and cast: Even with the move to Fox’s infamous Friday night “death slot,” the former home of quickly-cancelled sci-fi series Firefly and Terminator: The Sarah Connor Chronicles, and even with viewership that has fluctuated around the 5 million mark for much of the year (not counting DVR numbers), Pinkner and Wyman say they received nothing but positive, encouraging feedback from Fox and the show’s producer, Warner Bros. Television. “What was coming back to us all season was that everyone was loving the show creatively and that everyone was content with the number,” he says. Wyman praises Fox entertainment president Kevin Reilly in particular for being “a huge supporter of the show and deeply invested in the programming that Jeff and I are producing.” (That said, Wyman adds that Team Fringe is deeply grateful to all the fans who showed their support for the series by mailing buckets of Red Vines – one of sweets-loving Walter’s fave food stuffs — to Fox HQ.)

The producers say there were no caveats to the show’s full-season, 22-episode pick-up. “There were no creative conditions,” says Pinkner. They also add that they were not asked to produce the show at a reduced budget, either. Will the show remain on Friday night? “We have had no information that it’s staying or moving,” says Pinkner. “The implied presumption is that it’s staying. If it changes, we won’t know for quite awhile.”

http://insidetv.ew.com/2011/04/15/fringe-leonard-nimoy-renewal/

Crystal


I am a big fan of this show so they better not cancel it.
IMO it's the best paranormal drama on tv...nothing even comes close ,though I also watch Sanctuary, Haven, Supernatural, Smallville, and of course Dr Who.
grin
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xx Re: Stuff & Nonsense
« Reply #3671 on: Apr 16th, 2011, 6:34pm »

Hey drwu23,

There are quite a few Fringe fans around here. It is a great show. Hopefully they won't screw it up.

Here's an article from the LA Times yesterday.

'Fringe' Friday: Fox gives you props
April 15, 2011 | 2:20 pm

It feels like it's been forever since we had a new Friday night "Fringe," but our favorite dimension-jumping show returns tonight with the first of three episodes that lead up to the big finale for Season 3. If you had any doubts about it being worth the wait, check out the exclusive picture from tonight's episode. Broyles blowing bubbles? I think we're in for a treat.

Speaking of treats, Fox is handing out a few goodies to the fans of "Fringe."

The future of "Fringe" was highly debated online after Fox moved the show to the Friday night death slot in January, but fears of its cancellation were quelled in March when the network greenlighted the sci-fi series for a fourth season. Now, to thank the viewers who followed "Fringe" to its new home on Friday nights, Fox is giving fans props. Literally.

Between now and the season finale on May 6, Fox will be having weekly drawings to give away replicas of props used on the show. You could win the blueprints for the doomsday machine, the Observer’s doomsday drawing, Massive Dynamic stock certificates, or a prize package that includes "Show Me" ID cards, an ear cuff and a branded chair back.

Of course, this is "Fringe" we're talking about, so nothing comes easy. Here's the puzzle Fox lays out:

"On Fridays after 12:00 PM (Noon) ET, FRINGE fans can head over to www.fox.com/fringe or www.facebook.com/fringe to begin their search for clues that will lead them to the code word hidden in FRINGE content. Fans who find the code word can enter it upon check-in at GetGlue, a leading social network for entertainment, which will unlock online FRINGE stickers and also enter the user into the weekly drawing. The giveaway promotion is open to all fans 18 years of age and over who check in to FRINGE at www.getglue.com. Every Thursday, one winner will be selected at random by GetGlue among all entries made between the preceding Friday through Wednesday entry period."

So head over to the "Fringe" website and start your own investigation, but don’t forget to tune in for tonight's episode and then come back here to leave your thoughts when I post on Show Tracker. To tide you over until then, I'll leave you with a little extra Astrid Action.





http://latimesblogs.latimes.com/showtracker/2011/04/fringe-friday-fox-gives-you-props.html

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« Reply #3672 on: Apr 17th, 2011, 08:29am »

New York Times

April 16, 2011
Chemicals Were Injected Into Wells, Report Says
By IAN URBINA

WASHINGTON — Oil and gas companies injected hundreds of millions of gallons of hazardous or carcinogenic chemicals into wells in more than 13 states from 2005 to 2009, according to an investigation by Congressional Democrats.

The chemicals were used by companies during a drilling process known as hydraulic fracturing, or hydrofracking, which involves the high-pressure injection of a mixture of water, sand and chemical additives into rock formations deep underground. The process, which is being used to tap into large reserves of natural gas around the country, opens fissures in the rock to stimulate the release of oil and gas.

Hydrofracking has attracted increased scrutiny from lawmakers and environmentalists in part because of fears that the chemicals used during the process can contaminate underground sources of drinking water.

“Questions about the safety of hydraulic fracturing persist, which are compounded by the secrecy surrounding the chemicals used in hydraulic fracturing fluids,” said the report, which was written by Representatives Henry A. Waxman of California, Edward J. Markey of Massachusetts and Diana DeGette of Colorado.

The report, released late Saturday, also faulted companies for at times “injecting fluids containing chemicals that they themselves cannot identify.”

The inquiry over hydrofracking, which was initiated by the House Energy and Commerce Committee when Mr. Waxman led it last year, also found that 14 of the nation’s most active hydraulic fracturing companies used 866 million gallons of hydraulic fracturing products — not including water. More than 650 of these products contained chemicals that are known or possible human carcinogens, regulated under the Safe Drinking Water Act, or are listed as hazardous air pollutants, the report said.

A request for comment from the American Petroleum Institute about the report received no reply.

Some ingredients mixed into the hydraulic fracturing fluids were common and generally harmless, like salt and citric acid. Others were unexpected, like instant coffee and walnut hulls, the report said. Many ingredients were “extremely toxic,” including benzene, a known human carcinogen, and lead.

Companies injected large amounts of other hazardous chemicals, including 11.4 million gallons of fluids containing at least one of the toxic or carcinogenic B.T.E.X. chemicals — benzene, toluene, xylene and ethylbenzene. The companies used the highest volume of fluids containing one or more carcinogens in Colorado, Oklahoma and Texas.

The report comes two and a half months after an initial report by the same three lawmakers that found that 32.2 millions of gallons of fluids containing diesel, considered an especially hazardous pollutant because it contains benzene, were injected into the ground during hydrofracking by a dozen companies from 2005 to 2009, in possible violation of the drinking water act.

A 2010 report by Environmental Working Group, a research and advocacy organization, found that benzene levels in other hydrofracking ingredients were as much as 93 times higher than those found in diesel.

The use of these chemicals has been a source of concern to regulators and environmentalists who worry that some of them could find their way out of a well bore — because of above-ground spills, underground failures of well casing or migration through layers of rock — and into nearby sources of drinking water.

These contaminants also remain in the fluid that returns to the surface after a well is hydrofracked. A recent investigation by The New York Times found high levels of contaminants, including benzene and radioactive materials, in wastewater that is being sent to treatment plants not designed to fully treat the waste before it is discharged into rivers. At one plant in Pennsylvania, documents from the Environmental Protection Agency revealed levels of benzene roughly 28 times the federal drinking water standard in wastewater as it was discharged, after treatment, into the Allegheny River in May 2008.

The E.P.A. is conducting a national study on the drinking water risks associated with hydrofracking, but assessing these risks has been made more difficult by companies’ unwillingness to publicly disclose which chemicals and in what concentrations they are used, according to internal e-mails and draft notes of the study plan.

Some companies are moving toward more disclosure, and the industry will soon start a public database of these chemicals. But the Congressional report said that reporting to this database is strictly voluntary, that disclosure will not include the chemical identity of products labeled as proprietary, and that there is no way to determine if companies are accurately reporting information for all wells. In Pennsylvania, the lack of disclosure of drilling ingredients has also incited a heated debate among E.P.A. lawyers about the threat and legality of treatment plants accepting the wastewater and discharging it into rivers.


http://www.nytimes.com/2011/04/17/science/earth/17gas.html?_r=1&hp

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« Reply #3673 on: Apr 17th, 2011, 08:32am »

New York Times

April 17, 2011
Nine-Month Plan Is Set for Crippled Japan Nuclear Plant
By KEN BELSON and STEVEN LEE MYERS

TOKYO — Tokyo Electric Power Company said Sunday that it hopes to bring the reactors at its hobbled Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant into a stable state known as cold shutdown within the next nine months, after which the three damaged reactor buildings at the facility will be covered.

The goals are part of a two-part plan that represents Tokyo Electric’s most concrete timetable yet for controlling the reactors and improving safety conditions at the plant, which was damaged by 15-meter-high tsunami waves on March 11.

At least on paper, the program marks a turning point in the company’s struggles to shut down the reactors. For weeks, workers have fought to cool the reactors and spent fuel pools by pouring water on them. The deluge has created other problems, including a flood of contaminated water that seeped into the site and into the ocean.

But conditions have stabilized in recent days, giving the utility, widely known as Tepco, the confidence to unveil its schedule for shutting the reactors.

The first part of the plan would take about three months and include installing a cooling system to lower the temperature in the reactors and spent fuel pools, as well as reducing radiation in the surrounding area, said Tsunehisa Katsumata, the chairman of Tokyo Electric.

The second part, which would take up to six more months, would include more pumping of water, the introduction of a heat removal system and reducing the amount of contaminated water. The wreckage from the three damaged buildings would then be removed and the buildings covered.

“The company has been doing its utmost to prevent a worsening of the situation,” Mr. Katsumata told reporters. “We have put together a roadmap,” he said, adding, “We will put our full efforts into achieving these goals.”

Mr. Katsumata said that he and the company’s president, Masataka Shimizu, would consider what’s best for the company before deciding whether to resign to take the blame for the crisis. The company said Friday that it plans to distribute $600 million in initial payments to 50,000 people forced to evacuate because of the accident.

On Sunday, Banri Kaieda, the Minister of Economy, Trade and Industry, said that the evacuees who left their homes near the Daiichi plant will be able to return in six to nine months.

Conditions have steadied to the point where the United States and other foreign governments have lowered their warnings for travel in Japan. In a show of support, Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton flew to Japan on Sunday from Seoul, becoming the most senior American official to visit since the disaster.

She expressed support for the relief and reconstruction effort, telling Japan’s foreign minister, Takeaki Matsumoto, that her visit reflected “our very strong bonds of friendship that go very deep into the hearts of our people.”

Mrs. Clinton called the earthquake, tsunami and nuclear accident “a multi-dimensional crisis of unprecedented scope” and said that the United States is “doing everything we can to support Japan and we have very good cooperation.”

Experts from the United States Nuclear Regulatory Commission have been in Japan advising Tokyo Electric and the government. In the days after the crisis began, the N.R.C. said that radiation levels at the Daiichi plant were higher than those reported by the Japanese. The American government also declared a wider evacuation zone than the Japanese.

Asked if the Japanese government had acted transparently enough, Mrs. Clinton said: “We have been very supportive of what Japan is doing to take the appropriate steps.”

Mrs. Clinton also met with Emperor Akihito and his wife, Michiko, at the Imperial Palace. The emperor shook her hand, and Mrs. Clinton kissed Michiko on both cheeks. “I’m so, so sorry for everything your country is going through,” she told them, before they entered the palace for tea. She added, “if there was anything we can do...”

A short walk from the Imperial Palace, executives at Tokyo Electric’s headquarters offered details of their strategy. To prevent radioactive materials from escaping, the company said it plans to put a temporary cover with an air filter over the buildings. Engineers will also start designing a structure with a concrete roofs and sides.

But officials declined to identify the material that they would use to cover the damaged reactor buildings, saying only that it would be lightweight and would not be comparable to the heavy concrete shell that entombed the damaged reactor at Chernobyl. The company warned that the temporary cover could be damaged in a typhoon.

To keep contaminated water from escaping, the company intends to set up a water processing unit that removes radioactive particles and salt, and store it in tanks. But in a sign of how much improvisation has gone into the plan, company officials said that they will turn a concrete-walled waste treatment building into a large storage tank to hold up to 30,000 tons of contaminated water.

The longer-term goal, they said, was to establish a closed circuit in which radioactive water from the reactors is cooled and pumped back into them.

Michael Friedlander, a former senior operator at three nuclear power plants in the United States, said that waste treatment buildings are specially designed to hold very large volumes of water even if the equipment inside is broken during an earthquake.

During routine operations at a nuclear power plant, the waste treatment building removes low levels of radioactivity from the water and also handles solid waste. Similar equipment will now have to be installed at the site designated today.

“The normal equipment must have been damaged very severely” for the Japanese to have decided to scrap it, Mr. Friedlander said.

Despite its flaws, Tokyo Electric’s plan should work, said Hironobu Unesaki, a professor at the Research Reactor Institute at Kyoto University. But the company should try to achieve cold shutdown of the reactors sooner than six to nine months to reduce the risk of radiation being released. He added that “there is no clear scientific explanation” why the plan is divided into two phases.

In the meantime, Tokyo Electric continues to face many tradeoffs. For example, the water being poured to cool the reactors has kept temperatures from rising but not enough to achieve cold shutdown.

To improve cooling, the company would like to restore a closed loop cooling system that recirculates water. But it is hard for workers to enter the plant to install a new system because of the radioactive water in the buildings, basements and trenches. And while efforts are being made to pump out that water and put it into storage, new cooling water has to be poured into the reactors, leading to new radioactive water in the buildings.

“It’s kind of a dilemma,” Mr. Unesaki said.


Keith Bradsher, Ken Ijichi, Yasuko Kamiizumi, Andrew Pollack, Kantaro Suzuki and Hiroko Tabuchi contributed reporting from Tokyo.

http://www.nytimes.com/2011/04/18/world/asia/18japan.html?hp

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« Reply #3674 on: Apr 17th, 2011, 08:39am »

LA Times

Libyan rebel's story shows links to Taliban, Al Qaeda, NATO

'We are Libyans fighting for Libya,' said the rebel fighter, whose life led him to all sides so he could continue his battle against Kadafi.

By Ned Parker, Los Angeles Times
April 17, 2011
Reporting from Ajdabiya, Libya


He once lived under the Taliban's protection, met with Osama bin Laden and helped found a group the U.S. has listed as a terrorist organization. He died in a secondhand U.S. military uniform, ambushed by Moammar Kadafi's men as he cleared a road after an airstrike by his new NATO allies.

Aides to Abdul Monem Muktar Mohammed say the Libyan rebel fighter was leading a convoy of 200 cars west of this hotly contested strategic city Friday when a bullet struck him on the right side of the chest. He opened his passenger door and jumped out. A rocket-propelled grenade exploded nearby.

"Don't wait, go," he yelled to his men. Then he got to his feet, staggered a few steps and fell.

Mohammed's final days were a mirror of his past, of a life that saw contradictions and intersections with U.S. policy, ones that could return to haunt the United States.

He arrived in Afghanistan in 1990 at the conclusion of the mujahedin's silent partnership with the United States against the Soviet-backed Afghan regime. The following decades saw him become an international pariah, operating in an underground world of armed training camps and safe houses.

But with the revolt against Kadafi that started in February, he once again found himself in an uneasy alliance with the United States.

Five days before he died, with gray in his hair and bags under his eyes, Mohammed climbed a concrete tower on the outskirts of Ajdabiya and phoned in positions to the rebel government so NATO could drop bombs on Kadafi's forces.

Putting down his Thuraya satellite phone, Mohammed waved a shiny black 9-millimeter pistol on a road filled with empty bullet casings and waited for the explosions.

A few hours later, Mohammed and his Omar Mukhtar brigade, one of the new military units officially sanctioned by the opposition government, rejoiced as blasts shook the city. A few started dancing and singing "God is great."

"I have never been Al Qaeda now or in the future," Mohammed said as he watched his men clap. "We are religious and ordinary people. We are Libyans fighting for Libya."

The onetime holy warrior boasted that he even wanted a close battlefield relationship with NATO. But he also bristled at Western double standards. Why, he grumbled, does NATO so readily bomb the Taliban in Afghanistan but hesitates against Kadafi? Still, he would take any firepower he could get. He wished he had his own direct line to NATO rather than communicating through middlemen.

He laughed and said, "Give me their number."

Rebel leaders are sensitive to criticism by some in the West that Al Qaeda "fellow travelers" are deeply involved in the fight against Kadafi. With some defensiveness, they say Afghan veterans such as Mohammed, 41, were pushed to extremes by Kadafi's authoritarian rule, and that with freedom, the danger of a homegrown militant extremist threat has faded.

But there are many unanswered questions about Libya's anti-Kadafi forces, with at least 20 former Islamic militant leaders in battlefield roles, according to the rebel army, and hundreds of Islamists participating or watching from the sidelines. All speak of unity and brotherhood, but in the new state, will they be tempted by a once-in-a-lifetime chance to overpower Libya with a conservative Islamist vision?

The fighters themselves might not even know their answer, caught up in the moment's revolutionary fervor and vacillating between a longing for peace and their dreams of achieving an Islamic state.

Mohammed's journey started at age 20, when he left his home in western Libya and traveled across the border to Algeria, flew to Frankfurt, Germany, then to Pakistan, and made his way with four Libyan friends to Afghanistan in early 1990. The year before, more than a 1,000 Islamists had been jailed in Libya, and Mohammed decided it was better to leave and try to follow a righteous path.

He fell in love with the mountains and the Afghans' fighting prowess. With the fall of the old Soviet-backed Afghan regime in 1992, he and a group of other Libyan fighters decided to return home.

They slipped across the borders. The veteran mujahedin called themselves the Libyan Islamic Fighting Group, or LIFG, and vowed to kill Kadafi, declaring their ambition to form an Islamic state. Mohammed lived in the southern city of Sabha under an assumed name. He didn't dare contact his family. He hated Kadafi for detaining hundreds of Islamists and remembered the yearly public executions of political detainees and students.

"Hitler was a good man compared to Kadafi," he said.

A first assassination plot, in 1994, involved planting bombs at a celebration for Kadafi, but the explosives failed to go off. Two years later, he was involved in another botched plot when a man hurled a dud grenade at Kadafi. Mohammed acknowledged without a hint of embarrassment that he picked the bomber and the weapon.

Mohammed escaped, first to Tunis, the Tunisian capital, and then to Turkey. He married an Algerian woman; they set up a home in Istanbul and had their first child. But when a colleague was detained and handed by the Turkish authorities to Libya, Mohammed fooled them with a fake Tunisian passport and fled.

On the run, he learned that his family was paying the price for his failed plot against Kadafi. One of his brothers, whom he had met secretly for 30 minutes in 1996, had been jailed and would be locked up for eight years.

There was only one place for Mohammed to go: back to Afghanistan, under the protection of the Taliban. He spent time studying in military camp, and in classes on politics and Islam. About 100 members of the LIFG congregated in Kabul, the capital, longing for the day when they could kill Kadafi and rule Libya in accordance with Islam.

Here Mohammed would have his encounter with the two men who shaped the future of radical Islam: Bin Laden and his chief lieutenant, Ayman Zawahiri.

In 2000, he said, he met the two men twice, once at a funeral and another time at a guesthouse. They exchanged pleasantries and nothing more, he said. Bin Laden later sent an emissary requesting that the LIFG join Al Qaeda, but Mohammed said the Libyan group refused.

"Before 9/11, Bin Laden wasn't infamous. Everyone had their own projects and people. He was a wealthy man. Our project was to kill Kadafi. They offered for our group to join, but we were focused on Libya."

Mohammed remembered a brief meeting when the group debated whether to join Al Qaeda. He said they disagreed with Bin Laden's theory that if the United States was weakened, its Arab allies would fall.

"We were concerned with Libya and nothing else. We didn't believe in killing civilians or fighting the United States," he told The Times on Tuesday.

But there are disputes about whether the group ever did, in fact, pledge allegiance to Al Qaeda. In November 2007, Zawahiri and a senior Libyan Al Qaeda member with close ties to the LIFG said the group was joining the terrorist network. The LIFG followed with a strong denial.

Mohammed insisted that the Libyan insurgents knew Bin Laden's 9/11 attack was a disaster for them. He was sure Kadafi would use the assault on the U.S. to hunt them down and woo Washington to his effort.

"Sept. 11 caused a big problem for us," he said. "We rejected Sept. 11. It hurt our group. Kadafi was so happy."

Within two days, the Libyans sent their wives to Pakistan and followed soon after. Mohammed left for Pakistan and then sneaked across the border to Iran. But instead of giving him a warm welcome, the Iranians imprisoned him for 7 1/2 years. At the time, Iranians were suspected of detaining Al Qaeda members for use as bargaining chips with the Americans.

Other leaders were captured by the Americans in Thailand, he said, and then sent to Kadafi's jails in Libya. After his release, he lived quietly in Iran. The humiliation caused his voice to rise. "Don't ask me about this period," he said.

When the Libyan revolt started in February, Mohammed came back almost immediately.

After arriving in Benghazi, the rebels' stronghold, he met with heads of the rebel council and was made the leader of his own fighting brigade. The council issued him an ID badge proclaiming him "a general of the revolutionaries" and head of the Omar Muktar brigade, which he said had 150 members.

Members of Mohammed's group, the LIFG, are scattered throughout the new volunteer army. Its leaders keep a low profile but met shortly after the uprising began to rename themselves the Islamic Movement for Change.

On a recent day, Mohammed sat in an empty villa in Ajdabiya, on a residential street decorated with a pink flower hedge. He had just come back from manning battle positions. Three fighters slept on a couch, cradling their rifles. He fiddled with his phone and wolfed down some boiled chicken and pasta.

He said that, when the fighting is done, he dreamed of returning to his birthplace and being left alone.

"I want to hand in my gun and be with my children," he said. Then he walked to his olive-green pickup, followed by his men.


http://www.latimes.com/news/nationworld/world/la-fg-libya-qaeda-20110417,0,4890059,full.story

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