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 veryhotthread  Author  Topic: Stuff & Nonsense  (Read 151658 times)
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xx Re: Stuff & Nonsense
« Reply #3750 on: Apr 24th, 2011, 10:20am »

on Apr 24th, 2011, 08:43am, WingsofCrystal wrote:
Happy Easter CA5,

http://www.amazon.com/WINE-TYPES-Discover-Inner-Grape/dp/1424318149/ref=sr_1_7?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1303652205&sr=1-7

It's a fun read. For a serious chunk of reading get Richard Dolan's UFO's and the National Security State. That will keep you busy! It's a treasure trove of information. No I don't own stock in Dolan. grin


Volume one
http://www.amazon.com/UFOs-National-Security-State-Chronology/dp/1571743170/ref=sr_1_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1303652478&sr=1-1

Volume two
http://www.amazon.com/Cover-Up-Exposed-1973-1991-National-Security/dp/0967799511/ref=sr_1_2?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1303652478&sr=1-2

Crystal


Thanks WoC!
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xx Re: Stuff & Nonsense
« Reply #3751 on: Apr 24th, 2011, 12:28pm »

Tantalizing Hits of Secretive Spaceship Builder's Plans

By Denise Chow
Published April 24, 2011
Space.com

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NASA/Blue Origin
This artist's illustration of the orbital crew-carrying spaceship planned by the private company Blue Origin was included in the firm's NASA Space Act agreement to continue its work on a commercial crew space vehicle.


As part of the second round of NASA's Commercial Crew Development (CCDev) program, the agency will award $22 million to Blue Origin as it continues the development of its launch vehicle and critical systems.

While the Kent, Wash., company remains tight-lipped about its work, the contract between Blue Origin and NASA, called a Space Act Agreement, sheds some light on the planned spacecraft and the milestones the company must meet during the next year to qualify for the funding. [For illustration of Blue Origin's orbital spaceship, see: http://www.space.com/11457-blue-origin-commercial-crew-development.html ]

The agreement, which runs until May 2012, acknowledges that Blue Origin is developing a crew transportation system made up of a space vehicle "launched first on an Atlas V launch vehicle and then on Blue Origin's own Reusable Booster System."

NASA plans to rely on private spacecraft to launch American astronauts into space after its 30-year space shuttle program shuts down later this year.

The CCDev funding will be used to further the design of the spacecraft through a systems requirement review stage. This includes work on the spacecraft's thermal protection system and aerodynamic analyses of its cone shape.

The money also will be used to complete vital tests on the vehicle's engine and pusher escape system, which incorporates escape rockets around the base of the crew capsule rather than tower-mounted concepts, as were used for NASA's Mercury and Apollo spacecraft.

Blue Origin's space vehicle will be able to carry seven astronauts and "will transfer NASA crew and cargo to and from the International Space Station, serve as an ISS emergency escape vehicle for up to 210 days, and perform a land landing to minimize the costs of recovery and reuse," the document reads.

"It will also conduct separate commercial missions for science research, private adventure, and travel to other destinations" in low-Earth orbit.

The three other companies who were awarded funds April 18 in the second round of NASA's CCDev program were Boeing, SpaceX and Sierra Nevada.

Blue Origin was established by Amazon.com founder Jeff Bezos. According to its Space Act Agreement, the company is developing its spacecraft to be compatible with multiple rockets; the Atlas V was initially selected because it has a dependable launch record and can be adapted for human spaceflight capabilities.

The company's work on its New Shepard suborbital vertical launch vehicle will also be used to develop key technologies for its orbital spacecraft. New Shepard is being designed as a fully reusable vehicle capable of flying three or more astronauts on suborbital flights for science research and space tourism purposes.

Copyright © 2011 Space.com. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

Read more: http://www.foxnews.com/scitech/2011/04/24/tantalizing-hits-secretive-spaceship-builders-plans/#ixzz1KSeuU0ZO
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xx Re: Stuff & Nonsense
« Reply #3752 on: Apr 24th, 2011, 1:08pm »

on Apr 24th, 2011, 08:34am, WingsofCrystal wrote:
Screen Rant

23 April 2011
by Rob Keyes

Super 8 interactive trailer

The “trailer” lets players play through the events of the first Super 8 teaser trailer from the perspective of someone on the train that’s about to crash and leads up to the film’s most memorable moment thus far, of the crashed train car opening from the inside as the monster attempts to break out.

Watch and see as someone plays through the trailer and take note of the little hints revealed within:





http://screenrant.com/super-8-interactive-trailer-stills-rob-112077/

Crystal






Yeah....looks real good






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« Reply #3753 on: Apr 24th, 2011, 2:19pm »

Happy Easter Mur!!!
Crystal
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« Reply #3754 on: Apr 25th, 2011, 08:10am »

Washington Post

Taliban dig tunnel to free prisoners from Kandahar jail
By Joshua Partlow and Javed Hamdard
Monday, April 25, 6:30 AM

KABUL — After digging a 1,000-foot tunnel under Kandahar’s main prison, the Taliban on Monday morning freed more than 450 prisoners from jail, in the latest major security breach at the troubled facility, according to Afghan officials and insurgent statements.

In celebrating the escape, a Taliban spokesman said more than 100 insurgent commanders were among those who slipped out of the Sarposa prison’s political wing into the pre-dawn darkness. Zabiullah Mujahid said in a message to the media that the plan was carried out after five months of careful preparation.

“We were trying to not leave anyone behind, not even one sick or old political prisoner,” Mujahid said.

The prison break was a blow to Afghan and American efforts to secure and modernize the Sarposa prison, which stands adjacent to a new U.S.-funded “rule of law” center to process prosecutions.

“This clearly shows the weakness of the government and the security forces, and if this doesn’t change, the prison breaks will happen again and again,” said Agha Lalai Dastageri, a provincial councilman in Kandahar.

It was not the first major jail break at Sarposa. In June 2008, the Taliban attacked the jail, killing several guards and freeing about 1,000 prisoners. That attack prompted efforts to make the jail more secure. U.S. soldiers contributed to the efforts.

Kandahar’s governor, Toryalai Wesa, told reporters that all the prisoners had been entered into a biometric database that will help identify them in the future if they are detained again.

One man who claimed to have escaped the prison Monday said the inmates had already acquired copies of cell keys and quietly opened door after door to usher the prisoners in small groups to the tunnel, according to the Associated Press.

http://www.washingtonpost.com/world/taliban-dig-tunnel-to-free-prisoners-from-kandahar-jail/2011/04/25/AFPRusgE_story.html?hpid=z2

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« Reply #3755 on: Apr 25th, 2011, 08:14am »

LA Times

MEXICO UNDER SIEGE

Police, bus companies failed to act as graves filled in Tamaulipas

There were clues but nothing was done, and now at least 177 bodies have been unearthed. Demand grows for dismissing the state's elected but apparently ineffective officials.

By Tracy Wilkinson, Los Angeles Times
April 25, 2011

Reporting from Matamoros, Mexico

Suitcases started piling up, unclaimed, at the depot where buses crossing northern Tamaulipas state ended their route. That should have been an early clue.

Then the bodies started piling up, pulled by forensic workers from two dozen hidden graves in the scruffy brush-covered ravines around the town of San Fernando, 80 miles south of this city that borders Brownsville, Texas.

At least 177 corpses have been recovered in the last few weeks, most of them, officials now say, passengers snatched from interstate buses, tortured and slaughtered. Women were raped before being killed, and some victims were burned alive, according to accounts from survivors who eventually overcame their fears and came forward.

The slayings have horrified a Mexican public already awash in violence and led commentators to call them "our Auschwitz" and a "Mexican genocide."

Worse yet is the realization that the killing in Tamaulipas state has been going on for months — including the brutal slayings of bus passengers — and no one, not the bus companies, nor the police, nor the officials in charge, acted to stop it.

Elida Martinez, a gray-haired woman in her 60s, was one of dozens of mothers, fathers and siblings of the missing who were waiting in the morgue here the other day to offer blood samples for DNA testing.

Two of her daughters disappeared in February, one kidnapped from the hotel in San Fernando where she worked and the other seized from her home in the middle of the night a short time later. Between them they left behind four children.

"You pray to God you won't find them here," she said. Yet the gut-wrenching uncertainty tears her apart. "You don't sleep. You can't work. You live in anguish."

After the massacre last year of 72 mostly Central American immigrants near San Fernando, the government of President Felipe Calderon promised the world, including angry Central American authorities, that justice would be done and the popular routes through northern Mexico toward the United States would be guarded.

It now appears, however, that the killings continued, and not just of immigrants but Mexican citizens and, perhaps, a handful of Americans. On Wednesday, authorities said they had rescued a group of 68 Mexicans and Central Americans who had been seized by gangsters from buses or from bus stations in the same area.

The motives behind the bus kidnappings remain unclear. Gangs may seize the passengers hoping to extort money from them, to forcibly recruit them or because they are searching for rivals.

The killings have galvanized an unusual if belated consensus, even among conservative commentators and politicians, that parts of Mexico have indeed been lost to criminal gangs such as the Zetas and the Gulf cartel that control (and are battling each other to dominate) the northeast. What does it mean, they ask, when the federal government cannot keep the nation's highways safe from brazen predators?

Even worse is the near-certainty that the police who are meant to be protectors have been involved. Among the more than 50 people arrested in connection with the latest killings are 17 local police officers accused of providing protection to the cartel gunmen believed responsible.

There is growing demand for a new government strategy and that the national Senate take the highly unusual step of dismissing the state's elected but apparently ineffective officials, a move that would also involve Calderon suspending civil rights in the region.

"If Tamaulipas is not a failed state, or a narco-state, it sure looks like one," political analyst Alfonso Zarate said. "The institutional powers are incapable of upholding the law."

Calderon has steadfastly resisted that characterization.

The top official in Tamaulipas is something of an accidental governor. Egidio Torre Cantu was elected last year, standing in at the last minute after his brother, a shoo-in for the job, was assassinated by a drug gang.

"We are prisoners in towns that we cannot leave," said Mario Alberto Alejandro, 43, who came to the morgue looking for his brother, Rigoberto, a U.S. citizen who vanished Feb. 23 on the road to Matamoros. "In whose hands are we?"

Alejandro echoed other families in saying authorities were giving them the runaround, sending relatives from the morgue to one government office after another and even in some cases to Mexico City, where most of the bodies have been taken, in part because the Matamoros morgue was full.

Alejandro said his brother Rigoberto has lived for 13 years in Texas, where he works as a forklift operator. He was in Tamaulipas to visit family, a trip he makes often.

"He never thought it would be this dangerous," Alejandro said. "There is no security."

So many families have shown up at the Matamoros morgue that locals set up a tent with chairs and a table offering coffee and water. Doors have been plastered with dozens of pictures of missing people.

Francisco Garcia's nephew Jose was on his way to Chicago from central Mexico when last heard from in early March. He was traveling with two friends, who are also missing, and all were going to join family in the U.S.

"We have not received any information, no phone call asking for ransom, nothing," said Garcia, a farmer. Too terrified to travel to Matamoros, Garcia was among scores of people who instead went to the morgue in Mexico City.

"Jose is just gone."

The Times reported in early March that several thousand people have disappeared since Calderon launched the crackdown on drug gangs in December 2006. Most vanished without a trace. Families nurse the hope that their loved ones were taken as forced laborers on marijuana farms or in meth labs. But the mass graves, here in Tamaulipas and in other parts of the country, are slowly destroying those hopes. At least 58 bodies were recovered last week from clandestine graves in Durango state.

The main bus companies that run through Tamaulipas have altered their schedules and eliminated nighttime trips through San Fernando. But they have not spoken publicly about the killings. One manager, speaking through a representative but insisting on anonymity, confirmed the existence of unclaimed suitcases but would not discuss why authorities were not informed about them.

"Maybe it's fear, or they didn't want to lose the business," said Jose Javier Saldana, a regional human rights official. "Maybe the drivers didn't report it up the chain [of management], either."

Although some of the families said the bus companies' failure to sound the alarm was unconscionable, most put the blame on authorities. Several families said authorities tried to pressure them not to speak to reporters. Furthermore, officials in three central states, Guanajuato, Queretaro and San Luis Potosi, say they have been asking the Tamaulipas government about numerous missing citizens as far back as 2009.

In the San Fernando case, in addition to the police officers, the arrested include Martin Omar Estrada, a.k.a. "El Kilo," whom authorities describe as a ringleader responsible for the latest dead as well as last summer's migrant massacre. If true, that means Estrada, who was arrested this month, and his gang continued to operate with impunity for months.

Calderon recently promised to take back Tamaulipas and flood the zone with troops. It was virtually the same promise he made five months ago.


http://www.latimes.com/news/nationworld/world/la-fg-mexico-mass-graves-20110425,0,3171055.story

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« Reply #3756 on: Apr 25th, 2011, 08:19am »

Wired Threat Level

WikiLeaks Releases Guantánamo Bay Prisoner Reports
By Kevin Poulsen
April 25, 2011 | 1:00 am
Categories: WikiLeaks

WikiLeaks on Sunday began publishing from a collection of 779 classified reports on current and former prisoners of America’s military prison in Guantánamo Bay, Cuba.

The documents date from 2002 to 2008, and take the form of Secret-level memoranda sent from JTF-GTMO, the Joint Task Force at Guantánamo, to the U.S. Southern Command in Florida.

The Obama administration protested the partial publication of the documents by several news organizations Sunday. “These documents contain classified information about current and former GTMO detainees, and we strongly condemn the leaking of this sensitive information,” read an official statement published in the New York Times, one of the newspapers that reported from an advance copy of the documents.

The Washington Post reports that the leaked files contains new details on the location and organization of al-Qaida’s leadership before and after the September 11 attacks.

“According to the documents, [Osama] bin Laden and his deputy escaped from Tora Bora in mid-December 2001,” the Post notes. “At the time, the al-Qaeda leader was apparently so strapped for cash that he borrowed $7,000 from one of his protectors — a sum he paid back within a year.”

The New York Times reports that the “documents are largely silent about the use of the harsh interrogation tactics at Guantánamo — including sleep deprivation, shackling in stress positions and prolonged exposure to cold temperatures — that drew global condemnation.”

The Times — which has been out of favor with WikiLeaks since running a profile of founder Julian Assange last October — reportedly acquired the secret-spilling website’s newest release indirectly through another source, and then passed it to the UK’s Guardian and NPR.

As with most of WikiLeaks’ high-profile U.S. leaks, the Guantánamo release was foreshadowed in online conversations held by suspected WikiLeaks source Pfc. Bradley Manning almost a year ago, first reported by Wired.com.

In his May, 2010 chats with ex-hacker Adrian Lamo, who ultimately turned him in, Manning said his leaks to WikiLeaks included something he called the “Gitmo Papers” and “the JTF GTMO papers” — references to Guantánamo. He didn’t specify the nature of the documents or the timing of the leak.

The charges against Manning in his pending court martial case include a theft allegation that Manning took an unspecified “United States Southern Command database containing more than 700 records belonging to the United States government.” That’s followed by an allegation that he leaked “more than three classified records from a United States Southern Command database” to a third party in violation of the Espionage Act.

Manning allegedly downloaded that database on March 8, 2010, which would place the leak sometime after 500,000 documents in the Afghan and Iraq war logs leak, and before the 250,000 diplomatic cables, according to the dates in the charging documents.

With its Guantánamo release, WikiLeaks may be reaching the bottom of the suspected Manning leaks. The only known, undistributed leak remaining is material on the notorious May 2009 U.S. air strike near Garani village in Afghanistan: specifically a video of the attack — which WikiLeaks was provided, but may not have been able to decrypt — and internal U.S. reports on the incident.

http://www.wired.com/threatlevel/

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« Reply #3757 on: Apr 25th, 2011, 08:23am »

Hollywood Reporter

MasterImage Eyeing Glasses-Free 3D Deals With Airlines, Auto Makers (Exclusive)

5:26 PM 4/24/2011
by Carolyn Giardina

The 3D technology company is nearing agreements that would put glasses-free 3D screens in aircrafts and cars, THR has learned.

3D technology company MasterImage 3D is close to securing deals with certain airlines and auto makers that aim to put glasses-free 3D screens in aircrafts and in cars, MasterImage told The Hollywood Reporter.

“We have a great deal of interest,” said Roy Taylor, executive vp and GM of 3D display at MasterImage -- whose patented technology allows viewers to watch 3D without glasses on portable devices.

Taylor declined to name the airlines and auto manufacturers with whom MasterImage is talking, but he explained that an airline could license the MasterImage technology in order to equip new aircrafts, as well as upgrade airplanes in their existing fleet, with the ability to show 3D entertainment on board without the need for glasses.

He added that there is also interest from luxury car markers, who have an eye toward putting glasses-free 3D screens in the back seats of vehicles. “Most models of cars will also have Wifi -- that means that car owners will have the ability to download 3D movies and (passengers could) watch them on a trip.”

For distributors, these might be welcome new potential avenues for revenue from 3D movies.

“We weren’t looking at (airlines and car makers) initially,” Taylor admitted. “We were focusing on smartphones and tablets, but there turned out to be strong interest.”

MasterImage licenses its glasses-free ‘cell-matrix parallax barrier’ 3D technology to third parties. The technology already enabled one of the world’s first glasses-free 3D mobile phones -- the Hitashi Wooo -- and MasterImage is talking with potential consumer electronics partners about offering additional smartphones and tablets equipped with its 3D display technology. MasterImage hopes to see such devices on the market later this year.

Taylor noted that aircraft design cycles are not as quick as smartphones and tablets, and he estimated that it might be 2 1/2 to 3 years before 3D could become a part of air travel.

MasterImage, perhaps best known as a 3D digital cinema systems provider, recently received a $15 million investment from Samsung Ventures.

http://www.hollywoodreporter.com/news/airlines-auto-makers-eyeing-glasses-181743

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« Reply #3758 on: Apr 25th, 2011, 08:37am »

Seattle Times

Originally published Sunday, April 24, 2011 at 5:59 PM

Russia presses U.S. on how Bellevue crab king returned home

The crab king is mending at home in the United States, but his plight is still the center of an international diplomatic dispute. The Russian government is demanding answers from Washington, D.C., and from the U.S. Embassy in Moscow about what role — if any — American officials played in Bellevue crab mogul Arkadi Gontmakher's mysterious exodus from Moscow in February.

By Craig Welch
Seattle Times environment reporter

The crab king is mending at home in the United States, but his plight is still the center of an international diplomatic dispute.

The Russian government demands answers from Washington, D.C., and from the U.S. Embassy in Moscow about what role, if any, American officials played in Bellevue crab mogul Arkadi Gontmakher's mysterious exodus from Moscow in February.

Gontmakher had been awaiting trial in that country on charges connected with the illegal harvest and sale of tens of millions of dollars in Russian king crab. The Russians now maintain the U.S. citizen sneaked out of Russia illegally, perhaps with official help.

A State Department spokesman declined to comment on the case last week.

But earlier this month, the Russian Ministry of Foreign Affairs confronted a high-ranking American diplomat in Moscow and demanded a "comprehensive explanation" about Gontmakher's "unlawful departure," according to statements issued by the Russian government. A similar request was made to the State Department by Russian Embassy officials in D.C.

Gontmakher's saga began in 2007. The high-flying businessman drove a Bentley, lived behind an iron gate in a redbrick Bellevue mansion and ran a fish-import business, Global Fishing, that in one year sold $147 million in king crab to American consumers. Global was the largest single importer of king crab, a popular seafood made even more so by the Discovery Channel's "The Deadliest Catch."

On a Moscow business trip in fall 2007, Gontmakher was yanked from his hotel room and imprisoned. The Russian government alleged he was part of a smuggling ring that sold millions of pounds of crab illegally taken from the waters off the Kamchatka Peninsula.

While the businessman maintained his innocence, Gontmakher also was secretly under criminal investigation by U.S. authorities, who sought to assist Russian prosecutors.

But as his foreign detention dragged into its third year without a trial, his family sought high-profile assistance from the likes of U.S. Rep. Dave Reichert, R-Auburn, and U.S. Sen. Patty Murray, D-Wash. The congressional representatives wrote to the Obama administration, urging American officials to intervene.

Gontmakher was finally tried and acquitted in December, but immediately rearrested and charged with similar crimes.

With his health failing — Gontmakher has a heart condition — American officials earlier this year again petitioned the Russian government, which agreed to release Gontmakher while he awaited his second trial. He was freed to seek medical treatment in Moscow but showed up in the U.S. in mid-February.

His wife and Angelo Calfo, an attorney representing Global Fishing, declined to explain how Gontmakher made it back to the U.S.

"He's feeling protected here, and going through some different medical procedures, and that's really all we want to say," his wife, Lena Gontmakher, said last week.

The Russians maintain Gontmakher signed an agreement that released him from jail pending trial on the condition he would stay in Russia — an option made available only "due to the multiple petitions of the U.S. Embassy and Gontmakher's attorneys referring to his 'critical state' of health."

Gontmakher's departure raises "serious questions about the motives guiding the American side," the Russian Ministry of Foreign Affairs declared earlier this month.

That statement came to light last week when it was filed as an exhibit in a lawsuit by a shipping company that claims Gontmakher's business never paid it for delivery of $5.8 million in Russian king crab.

Lawyers in that case want to depose Gontmakher again and ask him about the circumstances of his exit from Russia. They claim it reflects on his character — and raises a question about whether or not he'll be extradited to Russia.

"How did he get out?" asked attorney Dan Harris, whose firm represents Simar Shipping. "Did he get a new passport from the consulate? Did he forge one himself? I don't know. I just know it's not that easy to get out of a country like Russia, so he must have had very serious help."

http://seattletimes.nwsource.com/html/localnews/2014866828_arkadi25m.html

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« Reply #3759 on: Apr 25th, 2011, 09:21am »

SCIENTIFIC AMERICAN

Budget crunch mothballs telescopes built to search for alien signals


By John Matson | Apr 24, 2011

The hunt for extraterrestrial life just lost one of its best tools. The Allen Telescope Array (ATA), a field of radio dishes in rural northern California built to seek out transmissions from distant alien civilizations, has been shuttered, at least temporarily, as its operators scramble to find a way to continue to fund it.

In an April 22 letter to donors, Tom Pierson, CEO of the SETI Institute in Mountain View, Calif., explained that the ATA has been put into "hibernation," meaning that "starting this week, the equipment is unavailable for normal observations and is being maintained in a safe state by a significantly reduced staff." The ATA is a partnership between the SETI Institute, which is responsible for building the telescope array, and the University of California, Berkeley, which is responsible for operating it. Astronomer Franck Marchis, who is affiliated with both institutions, broke the news on his blog April 22.
The search for extraterrestrial intelligence—SETI for short—is hardly fringe science, but the field has not enjoyed the financial support available to disciplines that return more immediate, predictable benefits to society. The nonprofit SETI Institute was founded in 1984 and has mostly relied on private donations to support its research. NASA had bankrolled a number of early SETI Institute projects, but Congress canceled NASA's short-lived SETI program in 1993.

The plans for the ATA called for a total of 350 individual six-meter radio antennas, all working in concert to detect radio emissions from civilizations that might exist elsewhere in the galaxy. But the array's growth stalled after the first phase of construction in 2007, when 42 dishes were completed at a cost of $50 million. Microsoft co-founder Paul Allen, the telescope array's billionaire namesake, contributed half of that sum, according to the SETI Institute.

Funding is considerably scarcer now. U.C. Berkeley's Radio Astronomy Laboratory has relied on funds from the National Science Foundation and the state of California to operate the Hat Creek Radio Observatory (HCRO) where the ATA is based, Pierson explained in his letter, and both of those sources have dried up. "NSF University Radio Observatory funding for HCRO has been reduced to approximately one-tenth of its former sum," Pierson wrote. "This is compounded by growing State of California budget shortfalls that have severely reduced the amount of state funds available to the Radio Astronomy Lab." ATA operations cost about $1.5 million per year, Pierson said, and the SETI science campaign at ATA costs another $1 million annually.

The SETI Institute would like to use the ATA to listen in on any radio waves that might be emanating from the extrasolar planets now being found by NASA's Kepler spacecraft. In February, Kepler scientists announced that they had compiled a list of 1,235 possible planets orbiting distant stars, including several that might be habitable. A current SETI Institute fundraising campaign is now aimed at raising $5 million to conduct a two-year search of Kepler's most promising finds using the ATA, in the hopes that one of those worlds is inhabited by a technological civilization sending out radio waves.

The ATA is not the only radio telescope facility that can be used for SETI searches, but it is probably the instrument most committed to the task. SETI researchers elsewhere have to borrow time on telescopes where competition for observing time can be fierce or piggyback their searches on other ongoing observations.

Pierson said that the SETI Institute has been working for more than two years to find a new funding stream, for instance by offering up the ATA's services to the U.S. Air Force to assist in tracking orbital debris that can endanger defense satellites. "We are continuing discussions with the USAF and remain hopeful that this effort will help provide future operating funds," he wrote.

http://www.scientificamerican.com/blog/post.cfm?id=budget-crunch-mothballs-telescopes-2011-04-24
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« Reply #3760 on: Apr 25th, 2011, 11:33am »

"SCIENTIFIC AMERICAN

Budget crunch mothballs telescopes built to search for alien signals

By John Matson | Apr 24, 2011

The hunt for extraterrestrial life just lost one of its best tools. The Allen Telescope Array (ATA), a field of radio dishes in rural northern California built to seek out transmissions from distant alien civilizations, has been shuttered, at least temporarily, as its operators scramble to find a way to continue to fund it.
...."


That is a shame. We seem to have money for crap (War on fill in the blank/War) but not the sciences or art and literature.
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« Reply #3761 on: Apr 25th, 2011, 6:29pm »

Fox News

Fire Ants Assemble as a 'Super-Organism'


By Katharine Gammon
Published April 25, 2011
| Inside Science News Service

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Photo courtesy Ant Laboratory, Georgia Institute of Technology
Ants float because of the buoyancy of the air bubbles trapped next to their bodies. A thin layer of air can be seen around its antennae and body as well.

The ants may go marching one by one, but they end up forming a superstructure of thousands -- and together they can form a raft that stretches the boundaries of the laws of physics, according to new research released today.

Ants have exoskeletons that are naturally hydrophobic, or water repellant. A single ant can walk on water because of the buoyancy of the air bubbles trapped next to its body, and the water's own surface tension. However, when thousands of ants stand on top of each other, their multiplied weight should cause them to sink. But for years, biologists have observed fire ant colonies floating down flood plains and rivers in their native South America.

For the first time, a group of engineers has attacked the question of ant flotation from a physics perspective. Ants float as a group because they can harness the power of nearby air bubbles. Grasping each other's mandibles or front legs with a force 400 times their body weight, the ants are able to trap small pockets of air between them -- like a group floatation device.

"The ants are so tightly knit together, that air pockets form between the water and the ants, and water cannot penetrate through any part," said Nathan Mlot, a graduate student at the Georgia Institute of Technology in Atlanta and one of the study's authors.

The bottom layer of ants rests on top of the water's surface, and others pile on above them. Even when they do get submerged, the pockets of air bring them back to the surface quickly -- and allow them to breathe. When they get submerged, the ants flex their muscles in unison to form a tighter weave.

To understand exactly how the structure worked, the researchers took a raft of several thousand ants and dropped it in liquid nitrogen, immediately freezing it. Then they were able to look at the structure on an ant-by-ant level under an electron-scanning microscope. "We were surprised at just how waterproof raft was -- its ability to repel water and keep afloat," said Mlot.

What if you want to drown the ants? Just add soap to the water, which greatly reduces its surface tension of water and sinks the raft, said Mlot. "With soap, the ants will drown within a matter of seconds, whereas they can survive for days or even weeks on the raft otherwise."

To test some of the behavioral dynamics inside the pancake-shaped raft, the researchers painstakingly picked ants one by one from the top of the structure. Soon, a new one would climb from the bottom to keep the raft the same thickness.

"We know that self-assembly and self-healing are attributes of living organisms, and we have seen that ant rafts develop these on a macro scale," said Mlot. The study was published today in the journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.

"Each ant does one tiny job, but they can build these incredible structures," said Kenneth Ross, an entomologist with the University of Georgia who was not involved in the work. Ross says that the rafts include not only worker ants, but also the queen and her brood -- the reproductive cells of the giant superorganism. From what he has seen in his research, the queen usually stays in the center of the raft, with an even tighter ball of ants around her.

This level of social organization isn't common, said Joshua King, an insect ecologist at the Central Connecticut State University, in New Britain. "This study reinforces how unique the collective behaviors of social insects are when compared to other animals."

This type of research could eventually help in many fields, from making a better rain jacket to building robots that can think. When the ants link up their mandibles and legs, they form a highly waterproof weave, which could be the basis for next-generation materials for lifejackets or boats. In addition, social insects like ants have long been the inspiration for autonomous robotics that could link up to build a larger structure.

"Ants are like little computers, acting on a few simple rules of engagement," said Mlot.

http://www.foxnews.com/scitech/2011/04/25/ants-assemble-super-organism/
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xx Re: Stuff & Nonsense
« Reply #3762 on: Apr 25th, 2011, 6:38pm »

Hey Swamprat!
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xx Re: Stuff & Nonsense
« Reply #3763 on: Apr 25th, 2011, 6:40pm »

Wired

FBI Raids Apartment of Alleged King’s Speech Uploader
By David Kravets
April 25, 2011 | 3:07 pm
Categories: Crime, intellectual property


The FBI has raided the Los Angeles apartment of a Screen Actors Guild member the bureau believes was first to upload the Oscar-winning movie The King’s Speech as well as Black Swan, and other in-theater-only films to the Pirate Bay in January, according to interviews and sealed court records obtained by Wired.com.

The Tuesday raid of actor and clothing-shop owner Wes DeSoto’s apartment came months after the guild and the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences both lauded The King’s Speech with top-acting and top-picture awards.

The authorities are also investigating whether there is a link between DeSoto and the notorious Pirate Bay pre-release movie-uploading group TiMPE, according to a sealed FBI affidavit obtained by Wired.com. In the warrant request to search DeSoto’s apartment, FBI special agent Thomas Brenneis wrote Magistrate Suzanne H. Segal of Los Angeles that the bureau was seeking “records, documents, programs, applications or materials relating to ‘TiMPE’ and ‘thepiratebay.org.’”

DeSoto, who recently played a small role in CSI: Crime Scene Investigation, said in a telephone interview he has no affiliation with TiMPE, and declined further comment.

“I’m nobody in the online file sharing world. This investigation is excessive and a waste of tax dollars,” he said.

Federal prosecutors in Los Angeles declined comment. The FBI in Los Angeles was not immediately prepared to comment.

The bureau’s involvement in the case, according to the affidavit, commenced in February when Larry Hahn, the Motion Picture Association of America director of content protection, “advised” the FBI that five “feature motion pictures” were uploaded to the Pirate Bay days before.

“Each of these movies was high-quality, and believed to have been movie-screener versions provided to members of the Screen Actors Guild,” the FBI’s Brenneis wrote. “Each of the movies had been released for theatrical viewing in the previous three months, before having been uploaded to thepiratebay.org, but none of the movies had been sold or distributed publicly in the DVD or video-streaming formats.”

The MPAA declined comment.

Threat Level obtained the affidavit on condition that it not publish the 34-page document in its entirety.

DeSoto is suspected of using the Pirate Bay handle mf34inc to upload the films in late January. No charges have been filed.

The affidavit references the Family Entertainment and Copyright Act of 2005, which makes it a crime, punishable by up to three years in prison, for releasing a work online that is “being prepared for commercial distribution.”

The authorities pinpointed DeSoto as the alleged culprit, because the screeners he viewed contained unique watermarks. What’s more, the guild had snail-mailed traceable iTunes codes to its members, who could use the code to access the screener movies.

Because pre-release uploading is perceived as an artform on the Pirate Bay, some commenters on Pirate Bay began questioning the authenticity of Black Swan, saying it was a “fake,” the affidavit said.

But mf34inc commented back that “SAG now sends out iTunes download codes for screens,” and “I’m a SAG member and thought I’d share these,” according to the affidavit.

According to the affidavit, Paramount Pictures had inserted “specific identifying marks” for the screener The Fighter and discovered it linked to mf34inc on Pirate Bay, according to the affidavit. Other movies linked to that handle on Jan. 27 included 127 Hours, The King’s Speech, and Black Swan.

Deluxe Webwatch, a Paramount Pictures contractor, continued monitoring the Pirate Bay for additional uploads from mf34inc, according to the affidavit. The next day, Rabbit Hole was being uploaded, and Deluxe Webwatch captured the IP address of the seeder, according to the affidavit.

With a subpoena, the authorities demanded Time Warner Cable–Road Runner tell them who was the account-holder of the detected IP address, and the authorities obtained a warrant to search the premises. The agents seized a desktop computer from DeSoto’s apartment.

http://www.wired.com/threatlevel/2011/04/kings-speech-uploader/

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« Reply #3764 on: Apr 26th, 2011, 07:54am »

Washington Post

Syrian tanks, soldiers lay siege to southern towns
By Scott Wilson
Tuesday, April 26, 7:18 AM

Syrian leaders deployed tanks and troops against unarmed demonstrators Monday in a sharp escalation of their effort to crush the widening protest movement, prompting the Obama administration to condemn the deadly crackdown and weigh additional sanctions against the embattled government.

The Syrian army entered the city of Daraa, the cradle of anti-government unrest near the border with Jordan, and other southern towns as protesters massed in the streets. According to witnesses and news reports, about 25 demonstrators were killed in Daraa and the coastal city of Jableh, where witnesses said snipers opened fire on the crowd.

Gunfire continued in Daraa on Tuesday as residents took refuge from tanks in the streets and snipers on rooftops, and the government cut off water supplies, news services reported.

Human rights groups said security forces have rounded up hundreds of pro-democracy activists across Syria since Friday’s protests.

In response to the increased violence, the State Department on Tuesday urged Americans in Syria “to depart immediately while commercial transportation is readily available” and advised those who must remain to limit travel within the country. Other Americans “should defer all travel to Syria at this time,” it said in a travel warning. The department also said it has ordered all eligible family members of U.S. government employees and “certain non-emergency personnel” to leave Syria.

The Syrian government’s show of force, the largest in weeks of street demonstrations, is sharpening the choice facing President Obama, who has attempted to balance calls for democratic reform in the Arab world with concerns of allies that have counted on President Bashar al-Assad to preserve stability in the volatile Middle East.

As the death toll mounts, Obama is under pressure to harden his largely reactive policy on Assad and echo demonstrators’ demands that the Syrian leader must go. Human rights groups say more than 300 people have been killed in the Syrian crackdown so far.

“The brutal violence used by the government of Syria against its people is completely deplorable and we condemn it in the strongest possible terms,” Tommy Vietor, the National Security Council spokesman, said in a statement Monday.

Vietor said that “the United States is pursuing a range of possible policy options, including targeted sanctions, to respond to the crackdown and make clear that this behavior is unacceptable.”

The administration has been ratcheting up its criticism of Assad’s response to the popular unrest, now more than five weeks old. But Obama has yet to declare that Assad, who inherited power from his father almost 11 years ago, has lost the legitimacy to rule, as the president declared in the case of Libyan leader Moammar Gaddafi and Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak, a U.S. ally.

“We very much see our role in these things as one that is behind what the voices in the region are saying,” said one administration official, who like others spoke on the condition of anonymity to describe internal thinking.

Administration officials say a majority of those taking part in Syria’s demonstrations have begun calling for Assad’s departure, an escalation of the movement’s initial demand for more civil rights and political freedoms under the existing government.

The tipping point may have come in the weekend of violence, giving Obama the popular cover he has sought before calling for regime change in the Arab world.

“We’re not there yet,” the administration official said. “This will be event-driven.”

Obama’s reluctance is rooted in fear of what might replace Assad, a member of Syria’s minority Alawite sect who is running a Sunni-majority country with a prevalent, if repressed, Islamist strain in its society and politics.

His secular Baath Party has been viewed by neighbors as a bulwark against Islamic extremism, making his government a linchpin in the region. Many U.S. allies, including Israel, Saudi Arabia and Turkey, hope that Assad finds a way to remain in power.

Administration officials, meanwhile, have argued that they have few tools available to influence Assad’s government.

The George W. Bush administration imposed stiff financial sanctions against Syria in 2004, squeezing its banking sector.

Although its leverage is limited, the Obama administration is considering additional sanctions, including a ban on spare parts for Syria’s commercial and private aircraft fleet, according to people who have been briefed on options.

Most analysts, however, say the administration must press the European Union, Syria’s leading trading partner, to impose sanctions against Assad’s government, particularly against its small but financially vital oil sector.

“Anything is more effective when it’s made multilateral,” said a second administration official, who is involved in Middle East policy. “This is something that we will definitely be looking into.”

In London, British Foreign Secretary William Hague said Tuesday that his country is working with its international partners on the U.N. Security Council, in the European Union and the Middle East on “possible further measures” to persuade Syrian authorities “to stop the violence and respect basic and universal human rights.”

The U.N. Human Rights Commission is scheduled to hold a session Tuesday on Syria, and the United States will push the body, known for its criticism of Israel, to condemn Assad’s crackdown.

Some analysts question whether Assad, an ophthalmologist by training who nurtures a cosmopolitan, reformist image, is still running the security services or whether his brother, Maher, is directing the crackdown through the special forces he controls.

Administration officials say Assad is firmly in charge.

“He’s calling the shots, there should be no confusion about that,” the second official said. “They are all working together, but he calls the shots.”

But, the official added, “we’re keeping a careful eye on signs of the government splintering.” Two Syrian legislators have resigned in protest of the government’s policy, a public break the administration official called “significant.”

There were reports Monday of divisions within the armed forces in Daraa as some soldiers apparently refused to carry out what appear to be “shoot to kill’” orders.

A White House official aware of the situation said the refusal is “not really a reflection of divided orders, but of personal feelings of some of the soldiers who do not want to open fire on their own people.”

The escalating crackdown follows Assad’s decision last week to lift the decades-old emergency laws, tools the government has used to stifle dissent.

Assad has fired the governors of Daraa and Homs and sent security forces into a growing number of towns and cities. As tanks rolled in Daraa and Arwa on Monday, the minister of information in neighboring Jordan said the border had been closed, though Syrian officials denied the assertion.

Human rights advocates said all communications into the costal city of Jableh and within the town have been cut, leaving it isolated and unprotected from the armed gangs associated with the Assad family that witnesses said are patrolling the streets.

“I think this operation launched by the army and security will go on for a few days,” said Wissam Tarif, the executive director of Insan, a human rights organization with a team of activists working throughout Syria. “Now they moved to Plan B — eliminate the movement and build the wall of fear again.”

Douma, a suburb of Damascus, remains under siege by security forces, which have raided private homes in the past two days.

“This is a return to Hama,” said one woman, who asked not to be named for security reasons. In 1982, then-President Hafez al-Assad — Bashar’s father — ordered the killings of as many as 25,000 people in the central city of Hama during a Muslim Brotherhood uprising against the government.

State TV carried images of Assad meeting leaders of religious sects over the weekend in an attempt to portray a sense of unity among the country’s minorities.

But the reality on the ground is far different.

In Moadamiya, a town six miles southwest of downtown Damascus, at least seven tanks and several more armored personnel carriers have been stationed on the outskirts.

Soldiers have set up campsites and are checking passing vehicles. Locals are being strip-searched as they enter the town. Soldiers have been drawn from other regions to decrease the possibility of sympathy growing in the ranks.

“There is no going back to the way things were now,” said a woman in Damascus who works in a pharmacy. “We no longer believe what we are being shown on state television. We are not stupid. We know bad things are happening in the country.”


A special correspondent in Damascus, Syria, contributed to this report.

http://www.washingtonpost.com/world/syrian-tanks-soldiers-lay-siege-to-southern-towns/2011/04/25/AFUscBlE_story.html?hpid=z2

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