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 veryhotthread  Author  Topic: Stuff & Nonsense  (Read 113184 times)
WingsofCrystal
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« Reply #3795 on: Apr 28th, 2011, 07:54am »

on Apr 28th, 2011, 07:53am, Swamprat wrote:
"Phrases such as “sly as a fox, “eat like a pig” or “drunk as a skunk” are all unfair to animals, they claim."

Gosh! Wait 'till they form a political bloc and start voting!! shocked


grin

Is that the silliest thing you've heard in a long time?!!!

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« Reply #3796 on: Apr 28th, 2011, 07:55am »

ieee Spectrum

Nick Sagan on the Legacy of Voyager

A Q&A with the son of Carl Sagan and one of the voices on the Voyager Golden Records


By Susan Karlin / April 2011

27 April 2011—When the twin Voyager space probes launched nearly 34 years ago, they captured imaginations (and spawned the first Star Trek movie plot) by carrying a high-tech greeting card from the human race—a gold-plated phonograph disc with descriptions of humans, greetings, and Earth’s location.

With the Voyagers now speeding through interstellar space, NASA will host a panel on 28 April to discuss the project’s scientific and philosophical impact. The discussion will stream live at 1:00 p.m. eastern time on both the NASA and Jet Propulsion Laboratory sites.

Voyager’s extraterrestrial invite was spearheaded by the late astrophysicist Carl Sagan. Nick Sagan, Carl’s son, was only 6 when he recorded ”Hello, from the children of Planet Earth” on the disc. Today he’s an award-winning science fiction writer, best known for his work on TV’s ”Star Trek: Voyager” and the Idlewild book trilogy. His graphic novel series, Shrapnel, is in development for a film and video game, and he has a deal for a show on the Science Channel. Here, Sagan—who spoke to Spectrum Radio last year—talks about how Voyager inspired him.

Read More: http://spectrum.ieee.org/aerospace/astrophysics/riding-with-voyager
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« Reply #3797 on: Apr 28th, 2011, 07:57am »

Hollywood Reporter

Syrian Ambassador Un-Invited to The Royal Wedding

6:56 AM 4/28/2011
by Mimi Turner

The Foreign Office tells Dr Sami Khiami that his government's use of force against pro-democracy protestors was "unacceptable."

LONDON -- The Syrian ambassador to London has been dramatically un-invited to the Royal Wedding at the 11th hour, amid mounting international concern at political unrest in the nation.

The last minute about-turn on Dr Sami Khiami's place on the guest list was confirmed Thursday by the Foreign Office, which said it had told the ambassador that his government's use of force against pro-democracy protestors was "unacceptable."

"In the light of this week's attacks against civilians by the Syrian security forces, which we have condemned, the Foreign Secretary has decided that the presence of the Syrian Ambassador at the Royal Wedding would be unacceptable and that he should not attend," the Foreign Office said in a statement.

The news comes amid mounting surprise at elements of the Royal Wedding guest list.

The decision not to invite former Prime Ministers Tony Blair and Gordon Brown has been described as "a mistake" by former ministers.

Guests like Joss Stone, Guy Ritchie, Victoria Beckham and Elton Johnwill rub shoulders with friends of Kate Middleton's family - including the local postman from her home village of Bucklebury - and numerous overseas dignitaries including Sheikh Ahmad Hmoud Al-Sabah of Kuwait, Prince Seelso Berang Seelso of Lesotho and Yang di-Pertuan of Malaysia.

But the two former Labor Prime Ministers, who together held power for almost 15 years, were not among those invited by the Royal Household.

Former Foreign secretary Jack Straw told BBC news that he was "surprised" by the snub.

"I frankly was surprised that two former Prime Ministers were not invited…my guess is that reviewing the way that the guest list has worked, in retrospect I think the decision makers probably would have made some different decisions both in respect of former Prime Ministers and ambassadors being invited."


http://www.hollywoodreporter.com/news/syrian-ambassador-invited-royal-wedding-183232

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« Reply #3798 on: Apr 28th, 2011, 08:01am »

Defense News

What Leon Panetta Brings to DoD's Top Job: 'He Makes Things Work'

By KATE BRANNEN
Published: 27 Apr 2011 22:48

When U.S. Defense Secretary Robert Gates steps down June 30, he will leave behind an intimidating legacy and difficult policy and budget decisions, but experts said that if anyone can step into his shoes, it's Leon Panetta, current CIA director and former Democratic Congressman.

President Obama is expected to announce Panetta's nomination on April 28. He will also nominate U.S. Army Gen. David Petraeus to replace Panetta at CIA; Ryan Crocker as the next U.S. ambassador to Afghanistan; and U.S. Marine Corps Lt. Gen. John Allen, deputy commander at U.S. Central Command, to replace Petraeus as the top general in Afghanistan.

The administration would like to have Panetta confirmed by the Senate by July 1 and Petraeus by September.

"The president would look to Director Panetta to continue the work that Secretary Gates has done on efficiencies and savings at the Pentagon," a senior administration official told reporters April 27 during a conference call.

But many expect the new secretary will have to go even farther than Gates in confronting the internal and external pressures on the defense budget. Panetta's next job will put to the test his budget skills, his extensive experience as a manager, and his reputation as a savvy negotiator.

Panetta's Background

A former Army intelligence officer, Panetta, 72, started his political career as a Republican; he held positions in the Nixon Administration.

After switching to the Democratic Party, he served in the U.S. House of Representatives from 1977 to 1993 as a representative from California. He spent four years as the chairman of the House Budget Committee, the position currently held by Rep. Paul Ryan, R-Wis.

Panetta's years representing a state with a large defense and aerospace presence gave him "a very keen appreciation of the role of industry," said Arnold Punaro, a retired Marine Corps major general and former Senate Armed Services staff director.

Panetta's congressional voting record shows a willingness, within limits, to cut defense spending. He opposed restarting the production line for the terminated B-2 bomber but voted against cancelling the Midgetman missile, which was pitched as a less expensive alternative to the MX missile. In 1991, he opposed the use of military force after Iraq invaded Kuwait but he voted for bills to pay for military operations.

Former congressional colleagues called Panetta someone who could do business with Democrats and Republicans alike.

Alan Simpson, former Republican Senator from Wyoming, praised Panetta for his willingness to reach across the political aisle to get important legislation passed. The two men worked together when Panetta served as the director of the Office of Management and Budget (OMB) and White House Chief of Staff during the Clinton Administration, and when they served on the Iraq Study Group in 2006.

"If there was anything you could scratch on Leon Panetta's stone, it would be, 'He makes things work,' " Simpson said.

Former Republican Senator John Warner also gave Panetta high marks, saying he would be able to seamlessly take over Gates' job. Warner, who served as Secretary of the Navy, was for many years the chairman of the Senate Armed Services Committee.

These days, legislators often complain that the Pentagon views Congress merely as a rubber stamp for its plans. Punaro and others predicted that Panetta's time on the Hill would lead him to invite lawmakers into the conversation.

"He knows that the Pentagon is not always right," Punaro said.

More than one observer pointed to former Defense Secretary Mel Laird, who served under President Nixon, as a possible model for Panetta.

Laird, another former lawmaker, saw the Defense Department through its post-Vietnam drawdown while remaining well-liked inside the Pentagon.

Budget knowledge and congressional respect are both important because external pressures are shaping defense spending, said Gordon Adams, who worked under Panetta at OMB. "He understands those externalities."

Panetta himself has been through a drawdown, after the Cold War.

"He knows how to operate and make decisions when the numbers are coming down," Adams said.

While Panetta does not have a reputation of partisan alignment in the narrow sense, he is a Democrat and doesn't have the same lightning rod effect that Gates had simply by being a Republican, said Anthony Cordesman, the Arleigh A. Burke Chair in Strategy at the Center for Strategic and International Studies.

"He's coming in to the job when he faces at least two years of partisan debate over the entire federal budget, which is tied closely to political ambition and the 2012 election, and he can't separate himself from that," Cordesman said.

Panetta's arrival will also push the last few Bush holdovers who stayed on with Gates at the Pentagon to finally leave, according to Michael Swetnam, a former intelligence official who now heads the Potomac Institute.

From CIA to the Pentagon

At the CIA, Panetta re-established confidence in a demoralized agency and protected its interests in interagency fights. He also sat in on every National Security Council meeting since the outset of the Obama administration.

"He knows all the players and all the players know him," Punaro said.

Panetta will be a newcomer to the Defense Department, yet his people skills are expected to make that transition easier.

"Even though he's not somebody who has prowled the halls of the Pentagon for decades and therefore knows where every nook and cranny is, he is somebody that will walk the halls and get to know the organization, and they will get to know him and they will have access to him. He will not be sheltered by a palace guard," Adams said.

Adams and others called Panetta a gifted administrator who cares about the people who work for him and reaches down into the organization and asks for views.

But Cordesman said it is difficult to predict whether a person's strengths will translate into success on the job.

"There are a number of examples of people who should have been good and weren't," he said.

Challenges Ahead

Every defense secretary takes over a difficult job, but the challenges facing Panetta seem particularly daunting.

"There's some obvious hard choices coming up and they're counter-cultural in many cases, because they're not exactly what the services would necessarily advocate," said Jacques Gansler, former defense undersecretary for acquisition, technology and logistics. "It's going to take an experienced and wise set of judgments."

Most obviously, there are the budget pressures. Obama has ordered the Pentagon, roughly speaking, to keep spending flat, in real terms, even as personnel costs are rising. Panetta will have to decide where to make cuts, where to take risk and how to negotiate inter-service fights.

Gates forced the Defense Department and the military to operate a bit more efficiently, but many more difficult decisions remain.

"He inherits a budget where Gates really never came to grips with the challenge of tying strategy to force plans, procurement plans, shaping U.S. deployments or bringing the budget back into balance with resources," Cordesman said.

Meanwhile, the geopolitical landscape remains daunting, with political crises spreading across the Middle East, Iran's suspected pursuit of nuclear weapons, China's military expansion and North Korea's mercurial threat - not to mention the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, and the Libya conflict.

Gates' Legacy

Panetta is following a man some call one of the greatest defense secretaries since DoD was founded in 1947.

"Obviously, when they do Bob Gates' portrait, it's going to require a special place in the Pentagon. He's what I would call borderline irreplaceable," Punaro said. "He has set a very high standard for performance and accountability that sometimes we don't see in government."

The question, Swetnam said, is this: will Panetta follow through on Gates' initiative, or take the Defense Department in a new direction?

One of Gates' most important accomplishments has been forcing the Defense Department to concentrate on the wars it is fighting, rather than funneling money to weapons for possible future conflicts. But he only highlighted many of the areas where the Defense Department's plans still outstrip a budget that has roughly doubled in a decade.

Gates "did not make any of the major changes that were probably required," Cordesman said.

Confirmation Process

The Senate is expected to confirm the nomination of both Panetta and Petraeus without a glitch.

"I really believe he will receive a respectful and timely confirmation by the Senate," Warner said.

Punaro said Panetta goes into the confirmation process with "tremendous inherent advantages and support."

It helps Panetta has already been confirmed to lead the CIA and therefore is known to have no conflict of interest issues or trouble with financial disclosures.

But Punaro, who has seen the process in action several times, warned that even the most routine nominations can become controversial.

-- Marcus Weisgerber and Rick Maze contributed to this report.

http://www.defensenews.com/story.php?i=6351498&c=AME&s=TOP

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« Reply #3799 on: Apr 28th, 2011, 08:28am »



Please be an angel


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« Reply #3800 on: Apr 28th, 2011, 09:41am »

on Apr 28th, 2011, 07:53am, Swamprat wrote:
"Phrases such as “sly as a fox, “eat like a pig” or “drunk as a skunk” are all unfair to animals, they claim."

Gosh! Wait 'till they form a political bloc and start voting!! shocked


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« Reply #3801 on: Apr 28th, 2011, 1:25pm »

Superman Renounces His Citizenship in 900th Issue of 'Action Comics'

By Hollie McKay
Published April 28, 2011
FoxNews.com

Superman is no longer an American.

In "Action Comics’" new record-breaking 900th issue, the fictional iconic super-hero renounces his U.S citizenship following a clash with the federal government.

The Man of Steel, created by Jerry Siegel and Joe Shuster in 1938, has always been recognized as a devoted American warrior who constantly fought evil, but as of Thursday, he is no longer the country's own to claim.

No word yet if Superman will change his red and blue suit, or his longtime motto "truth, justice and the American way" - but the landmark issue is certainly sparking controversy.

"Besides being riddled with a blatant lack of patriotism, and respect for our country, Superman's current creators are belittling the United States as a whole. By denouncing his citizenship, Superman becomes an eery metaphor for the current economic and power status the country holds worldwide," Hollywood publicist and GOP activist Angie Meyer told FOX411's Pop Tarts column.

But not everyone is outraged by Superman's citizenship surrender.

"Superman has always been bigger than the United States. In an age rife with immigration paranoia, it’s refreshing to see an alien refugee tell the United States that it’s as important to him as any other country on Earth — which in turn is as important to Superman as any other planet in the multiverse," wrote Wired blogger Scott Thill.

http://www.foxnews.com/entertainment/2011/04/28/superman-renounces-citizenship-00th-issue/
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« Reply #3802 on: Apr 28th, 2011, 7:18pm »

Hey Swamp,

Okay, waaaaaaaa? Superman gives up his citizenship?


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« Reply #3803 on: Apr 28th, 2011, 7:21pm »

Film Music Society

April 28, 2011

John Williams Scoring Stage Unveiled

Spielberg, Lucas honor long-time collaborator in tribute at USC Cinema School

by Jon Burlingame

LOS ANGELES—Composer John Williams and directors Steven Spielberg and George Lucas were on hand as the University of Southern California's School of Cinematic Arts unveiled its newly christened John Williams Scoring Stage on Tuesday at the USC campus.

The 1,900-square-foot room, formerly known as the Steven Spielberg stage, was built in 1983 and is regularly used to record music for student films made by USC directors. The renaming, a USC spokesman said, was "a tribute to Steven and George's long collaborations with (Williams) and a recognition of how important an inspiring name like John's is to the next generation here at the school."

Williams, 79, called it "an indescribable honor and privilege" and spoke of the scoring stage as a place that "brings together the sister arts of film and music.... This stage represents an intersection between the future and the present."

Approximately 70 invited guests listened as Spielberg and Lucas recalled how they met the celebrated composer, four of whose five Oscars (and 17 of whose 45 nominations) are for films directed by one or the other: Jaws, Star Wars, E.T. the Extra-Terrestrial, and Schindler's List.

Spielberg called meeting Williams "the greatest luck I've ever had in the industry" and admitted that, all the while he was writing The Sugarland Express he had been listening to Williams' bluegrass-infused score for The Reivers and thinking about hiring that composer for his first feature. He did, and their next film was the now-legendary Jaws.

Spielberg said he had been a fan of the classic Hollywood scores composed by European expatriates, and praised Williams for maintaining that tradition – "non-electronic, using real people, brilliant musicians, to bring film music back to where it used to be." Symphonic scores, he said, "seem to be in short supply these days."

Using Williams' jazz-inflected score for Catch Me If You Can as an example, he said the composer "bends to the mood of the film he's looking at. John rewrites the movie. He does a page-one musical rewrite. He brings the story musically to an audience."

Lucas confessed that, back in the mid-1970s, he asked Spielberg for advice on a composer who might be able to write "an old-fashioned symphony orchestra score" for his space opera, and when Spielberg suggested Williams, Lucas responded, "Isn't he a jazz guy?" Spielberg responded, "Trust me," and the rest became cinema history. Lucas, describing the composer's quiet, reserved manner, called him "a casual genius."

The Star Wars auteur and USC alumnus elicited laughter from the crowd when he said "all we did was put pictures to his music," and that "Star Wars without John is just another episode of Battlestar Galactica."

Williams thanked both Spielberg and Lucas – who earlier this year proposed that the stage should be renamed in his honor – as "my friends, visionaries, artists, entrepreneurs, significant philanthropists and great citizens. My luckiest day was meeting you both."

The composer said that Spielberg's nickname for him was "Max" (as in Steiner), but that his nickname for the director was "Angel – creatures who fly effortlessly above the rest of us." He said that, in nearly 40 years of working together, he had never heard Spielberg, upon listening to a theme or musical idea, say "I don't like that. He always leaves with a sense of excitement," Williams said.

The composer got the afternoon's biggest laugh when told the Schindler's List story he has often told in concert settings: How, after seeing a rough cut of the moving Holocaust film, he turned to Spielberg and said, "You need a better composer than I am for this film," and the director responded, "I know, but they're all dead."

Director John Singleton recalled working with Williams, a longtime hero, on Rosewood, and worrying aloud whether Williams could find "the soul of the African-American experience" for his score. When Williams responded that he had arranged and conducted for Mahalia Jackson back in the early 1960s, Singleton decided he was "infinitely qualified" for the job.

School of Cinematic Arts Dean Elizabeth Daley called Williams "one of the most important artists that there have ever been in the world of entertainment" and said that the name on the scoring stage would remind those who worked there of "the quality to which they must aspire."

Also attending were several longtime Williams colleagues including producers Kathleen Kennedy and Frank Marshall, scoring mixers Shawn Murphy and Bruce Botnick, and music editor Kenneth Hall; and other members of the film-music community including Fong (Mrs. Maurice) Jarre and Elmer Bernstein's daughters Emilie and Elizabeth. USC Scoring for Motion Pictures program director Brian King was also on hand, along with several members of this year's class.

Sound department manager Richard Hyland reported that the facility will be upgraded this summer with the addition of a new 32-fader Avid mixing console to replace the old Euphonics board currently in use.

http://www.filmmusicsociety.org/news_events/features/2011/042811.html

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« Reply #3804 on: Apr 29th, 2011, 07:41am »

on Apr 28th, 2011, 09:41am, Luvey wrote:
They live among us.....


Hey Luvey!!

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« Reply #3805 on: Apr 29th, 2011, 07:44am »

New York Times

April 28, 2011
Move to C.I.A. Puts Petraeus in Conflict With Pakistan

By JANE PERLEZ and ERIC SCHMITT

ISLAMABAD, Pakistan — The appointment of Gen. David H. Petraeus as director of the Central Intelligence Agency puts him more squarely than ever in conflict with Pakistan, whose military leadership does not regard him as a friend and where he will now have direct control over the armed drone campaign that the Pakistani military says it wants stopped.

Pakistani and American officials said that General Petraeus’s selection could further inflame relations between the two nations, which are already at one of their lowest points, with recriminations over myriad issues aired publicly like never before.

The usually secretive leader of the Pakistani Army, Gen. Ashfaq Parvez Kayani, has made little secret of his distaste for General Petraeus, calling him a political general. General Petraeus has privately expressed outrage at what American officials say is the Pakistani main spy agency’s most blatant support yet for fighters based in Pakistan who are carrying out attacks against American troops in Afghanistan.

Officials on both sides say they expect the two nations’ relationship to become increasingly adversarial as they maneuver the endgame in Afghanistan, where Pakistan and the United States have deep — and conflicting — security interests.

Repairing the frayed ties between the C.I.A. and Pakistan’s primary spy agency, the Inter-Services Intelligence Directorate, will be difficult, American officials say. “In its current form, the relationship is almost unworkable,” said Dennis C. Blair, a former American director of national intelligence. “There has to be a major restructuring. The ISI jams the C.I.A. all it wants and pays no penalties.”

One American military official sought to play down the animosity with Pakistani officials, noting that the general had regularly met with the Pakistanis for nearly three years, most recently on Monday. Still, the official acknowledged that with General Petraeus leading the C.I.A., “the pressure may be more strategic, deliberate and focused — to the extent that it can be.”

A Pakistani official described the mounting tensions as a game of “brinkmanship,” with both Adm. Mike Mullen, who as chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff has been the Obama administration’s point man on Pakistan policy, and General Kayani growing impatient because they have little to show for the many hours they have invested during more than two dozen visits over the past three years.

Admiral Mullen surprised Pakistani officials by publicly accusing the ISI of sheltering fighters from the Haqqani network, a Taliban ally that has long served as a proxy for Pakistan’s military and intelligence establishment in Afghanistan. American commanders in eastern Afghanistan say they have killed or captured more than 5,000 militants in the past year, but fighters continue to pour across the border from sanctuaries in Pakistan to Paktia, Khost and Paktika Provinces in Afghanistan.

In a private meeting here in Islamabad last week, Admiral Mullen told General Kayani that the C.I.A. would not reduce the drone strikes until Pakistan launched a military operation against the Haqqani network in Pakistan’s tribal areas, an American official said, pleas that the admiral has been making for the past two years with nothing to show for them.

Pakistan’s military and its intelligence agency are increasingly embarrassed by the United States’ drone campaign, which they publicly condemn but quietly allow. They have asked the C.I.A. to remove its personnel from Shamsi air base, about 200 miles southwest of Quetta, the capital of Baluchistan Province, where some of the drones are based, a senior American official said.

The withdrawal has not occurred but is expected soon, the official said. The drone attacks would then be flown out of Afghanistan, where some of them are already based, the official said.

There have also been sharp disagreements over a proposed code of conduct that would define what American soldiers and intelligence agents can do in Pakistani territory, a Pakistani official said. The Pakistanis have, for now, dropped the idea of such an accord, fearing that the Americans are looking for “legal cover” for intelligence operatives like Raymond A. Davis, the C.I.A. contractor who killed two Pakistanis in January, a Pakistani official said.

“The relationship between the two countries is very tense right now,” said Representative William M. Thornberry of Texas, a senior Republican on the House Armed Services Committee, who visited Pakistan last week. “And the Pakistan government fuels the anti-American public opinion to increase pressure on us.”

Newly disclosed documents obtained by WikiLeaks have also stoked tensions. One of them, from the prison at Guantánamo Bay, Cuba, lists the ISI along with numerous militant groups as allies of Al Qaeda and the Taliban, an indication of how deep American suspicions run when it comes to Pakistani intelligence. The document is undated but appears to be from 2007 or 2008.

A former general said the alliance established after 9/11 to get rid of Al Qaeda on Pakistani soil was built on shaky ground, with few aligning interests beyond stopping the terrorist group. Tensions over issues big and small — like accounting for American grants to the Pakistani military and the failure of the United States to deliver helicopters that would help in counterterrorism efforts — clouded the hastily arranged alliance from the start, he said.

But now the collision of interests over how to end the war in Afghanistan, and the bitterness over the Davis affair, have exposed deep-seated differences, he said.

The drone campaign, which the C.I.A. has run against militants in Pakistan’s tribal areas since 2004, will now become the preserve of General Petraeus, and it has moved to center stage, at least for the Pakistanis. Since Mr. Davis’s release from custody in Pakistan after the killings, the C.I.A. has carried out three drone attacks, each one seemingly tied to sensitive events in the United States-Pakistan relationship and aimed at Afghan Taliban militants that Pakistan shelters.

The day after Admiral Mullen left Pakistan last week, a drone attack in North Waziristan killed 23 people associated with Hafiz Gul Barhadur, whose forces are fighting NATO in Afghanistan. Earlier in April, after Lt. Gen. Ahmad Shuja Pasha, the ISI chief, left Washington, a drone attacked another group of Afghan Taliban.

Another former Pakistani general who speaks to General Kayani said he believed that the Pakistan Army’s leader had concluded that the drone campaign should end because it hurt the army’s reputation among the Pakistani public. Those being killed by the drones are of midlevel or even lesser importance, the general said.

The Americans say the drones are more important than ever as a tool to stanch the flow of Taliban foot soldiers coming across the border to fight American and NATO forces.

The easy access into Afghanistan was on full display last week in Wana, the main town of South Waziristan, according to a local resident.

There, militants loyal to Maulvi Nazir, a Taliban leader who maintains a peace agreement with the Pakistani military and whose forces often cross into Afghanistan, showed high morale and were moving around freely in front of the Pakistani Army, the resident said. “It looked,” he said, “as though the army was giving them a free hand.”

Jane Perlez reported from Islamabad, and Eric Schmitt from Washington. Ismail Khan contributed reporting from Peshawar, Pakistan, and Scott Shane from Washington.


http://www.nytimes.com/2011/04/29/world/29petraeus.html?_r=1&hp

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« Reply #3806 on: Apr 29th, 2011, 07:49am »

Wired

April 29, 1964: Godzilla, Mothra Clash for First Time
By Tony Long
April 29, 2011 | 7:00 am
Categories: 20th century, Culture, Tech Gone Bad


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1964: Mothra vs. Godzilla makes its screen debut in Japan. Or was it Mothra Against Godzilla, Godzilla vs. Mothra or Godzilla vs. The Thing?

By whatever name you choose — and it went by all of them at one time or another — for those of us who grew up watching these entertaining romps, this is the quintessential Godzilla movie.

It had everything you could ask for: wonderfully cheesy special effects (acute halitosis never looked so good); great dubbing (in the English-language release, the talking went on after the Japanese actors had stopped moving their lips); a couple of hot Japanese twins (albeit a pair of faeries scarcely a foot tall); wanton, widespread destruction (Nagoya, rather than Tokyo, took the hit this time); and a monster to root for (the big moth).

The Godzilla-Mothra imbroglio wasn’t the first time these two had courted trouble.

Godzilla had already been around for a decade, rising from the sea in the 1954 film Godzilla to ravage the Japanese mainland following a hydrogen-bomb test gone awry. Godzilla evolved over the years, his dinosaur-like appearance always changing. But he never lost the atomic breath that, along with his sheer bulk, served as his main weapon of destruction.

As for Mothra, she (yes, Mothra was all woman) made her original cinematic bow in the 1961 flick bearing her name. Maybe because fictional lepidopteran Mothra originated in a novel before coming to the screen, she was more nuanced than her troglodytic antagonist. Unlike Godzilla, Mothra possessed an intellect, which she put to use in a series of films.

The plots for what are loosely called “Godzilla movies” follow the same simple formula: The monster — usually our man Godzilla — is awakened from its slumber, either by man’s folly (nuclear testing) or man’s greed (there always seems to be an evil capitalist lurking in the weeds, eager to exploit a lost culture or a slumbering monster). Fully awake now, the monster wreaks vengeance on the hapless Japanese, whose soldiery, never fully recovered from Guadalcanal and Iwo Jima, lies prostrate before the rampaging beast.

The soldiers do know how to die dramatically, though, which makes for some entertaining cinematic moments.

In the end, the movie’s alpha monster is finally overcome, either by a few plucky scientists who dream up some goofy formula that works, or by another hairy, scaly or wing-flapping opponent, who — for reasons never adequately explained — decides to temporarily ally itself with the perfidious two-legged mammals that stirred up this hornet’s nest in the first place.

Simple and repetitive as the story lines may be, the ‘64 film began a complicated relationship between Godzilla and Mothra, who, over the course of several movies, died and were reborn, were alternately vanquished and victorious, and lined up both as friend and foe. Their relationship with humanity was equally complex: Mothra could be punishing but was ultimately benevolent. Godzilla, usually the heavy, occasionally emerged as a kind of antihero, earning our sympathy in his role as avenging angel.

The Godzilla franchise was born in the Toho film studios in the 1950s but has been spun off so many times that it’s impossible to chronicle the monster’s lineage here. Suffice it to say, Godzilla has appeared on the screen — both large and small — in comic books, videogames, novels and myriad other places as a pop culture icon.

OK, so maybe Mothra vs. Godzilla wasn’t Kurosawa. But it was a fine way to kill a Saturday afternoon.

http://www.wired.com/thisdayintech/2011/04/0429mothra-godzilla-movie-premiere/

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« Reply #3807 on: Apr 29th, 2011, 07:56am »

Science Daily

Voyager Probes Set to Enter Interstellar Space

ScienceDaily (Apr. 28, 2011)

— More than 30 years after they left Earth, NASA's twin Voyager probes are now at the edge of the solar system.
Not only that, they're still working. And with each passing day they are beaming back a message that, to scientists, is both unsettling and thrilling.


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This artist's concept shows NASA's two Voyager spacecraft exploring a turbulent region of space known as the heliosheath,
the outer shell of the bubble of charged particles around our sun.
(Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech)



The message is, "Expect the unexpected."

"It's uncanny," says Ed Stone of the California Institute of Technology in Pasadena, Voyager Project Scientist since 1972. "Voyager 1 and 2 have a knack for making discoveries." Today, April 28, 2011, NASA held a live briefing to reflect on what the Voyager mission has accomplished--and to preview what lies ahead as the probes prepare to enter the realm of interstellar space in our Milky Way galaxy.

The adventure began in the late 1970s when the probes took advantage of a rare alignment of outer planets for an unprecedented Grand Tour. Voyager 1 visited Jupiter and Saturn, while Voyager 2 flew past Jupiter, Saturn, Uranus and Neptune. (Voyager 2 is still the only probe to visit Uranus and Neptune.)

When pressed to name the top discoveries from those encounters, Stone pauses, not for lack of material, but rather an embarrassment of riches. "It's so hard to choose," he says.

Stone's partial list includes the discovery of volcanoes on Jupiter's moon Io; evidence for an ocean beneath the icy surface of Europa; hints of methane rain on Saturn's moon Titan; the crazily-tipped magnetic poles of Uranus and Neptune; icy geysers on Neptune's moon Triton; planetary winds that blow faster and faster with increasing distance from the sun.

"Each of these discoveries changed the way we thought of other worlds," says Stone.

In 1980, Voyager 1 used the gravity of Saturn to fling itself slingshot-style out of the plane of the solar system. In 1989, Voyager 2 got a similar assist from Neptune. Both probes set sail into the void.

Sailing into the void sounds like a quiet time, but the discoveries have continued.

Stone sets the stage by directing our attention to the kitchen sink. "Turn on the faucet," he instructs. "Where the water hits the sink, that's the sun, and the thin sheet of water flowing radially away from that point is the solar wind. Note how the sun 'blows a bubble' around itself."

There really is such a bubble, researchers call it the "heliosphere," and it is gargantuan. Made of solar plasma and magnetic fields, the heliosphere is about three times wider than the orbit of Pluto. Every planet, asteroid, spacecraft, and life form belonging to our solar system lies inside.

The Voyagers are trying to get out, but they're not there yet. To locate them, Stone peers back into the sink: "As the water [or solar wind] expands, it gets thinner and thinner, and it can't push as hard. Abruptly, a sluggish, turbulent ring forms. That outer ring is the heliosheath--and that is where the Voyagers are now."

The heliosheath is a very strange place, filled with a magnetic froth no spacecraft has ever encountered before, echoing with low-frequency radio bursts heard only in the outer reaches of the solar system, so far from home that the sun is a mere pinprick of light.

"In many ways, the heliosheath is not like our models predicted," says Stone.

In June 2010, Voyager 1 beamed back a startling number: zero. That's the outward velocity of the solar wind where the probe is now. No one thinks the solar wind has completely stopped; it may have just turned a corner. But which way? Voyager 1 is trying to figure that out through a series of "weather vane" maneuvers, in which the spacecraft turns itself in a different direction to track the local breeze. The old spacecraft still has some moves left, it seems.

No one knows exactly how many more miles the Voyagers must travel before they "pop free" into interstellar space. Most researchers believe, however, that the end is near. "The heliosheath is 3 to 4 billion miles in thickness," estimates Stone. "That means we'll be out within five years or so."

There is plenty of power for the rest of the journey. Both Voyagers are energized by the radioactive decay of a Plutonium 238 heat source. This should keep critical subsystems running through at least 2020.

After that, he says, "Voyager will become our silent ambassador to the stars."

Each probe is famously equipped with a Golden Record, literally, a gold-coated copper phonograph record. It contains 118 photographs of Earth; 90 minutes of the world's greatest music; an audio essay entitled Sounds of Earth (featuring everything from burbling mud pots to barking dogs to a roaring Saturn 5 liftoff); greetings in 55 human languages and one whale language; the brain waves of a young woman in love; and salutations from the secretary general of the United Nations. A team led by Carl Sagan assembled the record as a message to possible extraterrestrial civilizations that might encounter the spacecraft.

"A billion years from now, when everything on Earth we've ever made has crumbled into dust, when the continents have changed beyond recognition and our species is unimaginably altered or extinct, the Voyager record will speak for us," wrote Carl Sagan and Ann Druyan in an introduction to a CD version of the record.

Some people note that the chance of aliens finding the Golden Record is fantastically remote. The Voyager probes won't come within a few light years of another star for some 40,000 years. What are the odds of making contact under such circumstances?

On the other hand, what are the odds of a race of primates evolving to sentience, developing spaceflight, and sending the sound of barking dogs into the cosmos? Expect the unexpected, indeed.

The Voyagers were built by NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, Calif., which continues to operate both spacecraft. JPL is a division of the California Institute of Technology in Pasadena. The Voyager missions are a part of the NASA Heliophysics System Observatory, sponsored by the Heliophysics Division of the Science Mission Directorate.

For more information about the Voyager spacecraft, visit: http://voyager.jpl.nasa.gov and http://www.nasa.gov/voyager .

http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2011/04/110428200820.htm

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« Reply #3808 on: Apr 29th, 2011, 07:58am »

Defense News

DoD Moves Toward 'Should-Cost' Programs

By MARCUS WEISGERBER
Published: 28 Apr 2011 17:55

The Pentagon will implement a new cost estimating strategy on 14 major acquisition programs in an attempt to make the weapons' projected price tags more realistic and save money, according to a U.S. Defense Department memo.

The Air Force, Army and Navy will apply "should-cost" metrics to multibillion-dollar efforts - such as the F-35 Joint Strike Fighter - to achieve greater savings than more traditional cost estimating.

"These programs will be used to communicate and demonstrate to other DoD offices and Congress the intent and advantages associated with managing to a should-cost estimate that is lower than the program budget," Pentagon acquisition executive Ashton Carter wrote in an April 22 memo to senior DoD officials. "The delta between Should-Cost and Will-Cost will be managed consistently with the contract type(s) being used in the program."

In addition to the F-35, the Air Force has identified the Global Hawk Block-30 and Block-40, Space Based Infrared System, Evolved Expendable Launch Vehicle and Advanced Extremely High Frequency Satellite System as its "model" programs.

The Army has chosen the Joint Air-to-Ground Missile, UH-60M Black Hawk, Ground Combat Vehicle, Paladin Product Improvement and NETT Warrior programs. The Navy has chosen the F-35, E-2D Hawkeye, VXX Presidential Helicopter, Littoral Combat Ship and SSBN(X) Ohio Submarine Replacement programs.

"It is essential that we eliminate cost overruns and begin to deliver programs below budget baselines that are set using independent Will-Cost estimates," Carter wrote. "I believe this is achievable if Program Managers continuously perform Should-Cost analysis that scrutinizes every element of government and contractor cost."

Carter has directed the services to prepare an annual report on will-cost and should-cost management, the first of which is due to him Nov. 1.

Carter's should-cost teams could help DoD prime contractors operate more efficiently, according to Nick Schwellenbach - director of investigations for the Project on Government Oversight, a nonprofit government watchdog.

"You use independent cost estimate will-cost to help plan budgets over the long run, tame unreasonable expectations at the onset, and control for the contractors' and military services' rosy expectations of technological performance, integration, and cost," Schwellenbach wrote on the organization's blog. "You use should-cost to help negotiate better contracts with a relatively uncompetitive defense industry. Ideally, you beat the will-cost expectations, but there are risks."

http://www.defensenews.com/story.php?i=6360719&c=AME&s=TOP

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« Reply #3809 on: Apr 29th, 2011, 08:11am »

Mazel Tov!


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