Re: Stuff & Nonsense
« Reply #3870 on: May 3rd, 2011, 7:55pm »
TERRA NOVA - Coming Fall 2011
From executive producers Steven Spielberg, Peter Chernin, Brannon Braga, René Echevarria and Aaron Kaplan comes an epic family adventure 85 million years in the making.
TERRA NOVA follows an ordinary family on an incredible journey back in time to prehistoric Earth as a small part of a daring experiment to save the human race.
In the year 2149, the world is dying. The planet is overdeveloped and overcrowded, with the majority of plant and animal life extinct. The future of mankind is in doubt, and its only hope for survival is in the distant past.
When scientists at the FERMI Particle Accelerator unexpectedly discovered a fracture in time that made it possible to construct a portal into primeval history, the bold notion was born to resettle humanity in the past – a second chance to rebuild civilization and get it right this time.
The series centers on the Shannon family as they join the Tenth Pilgrimage of settlers to Terra Nova, the first colony established in this beautiful yet forbidding land.
JIM SHANNON (Jason O’Mara), a devoted father with a checkered past, guides his family through this new world of limitless beauty, mystery and terror.
Jim’s wife, ELISABETH SHANNON (Shelley Conn), is a trauma surgeon and the newest addition to TERRA NOVA’s medical team.
JOSH SHANNON (Landon Liboiron) is their 17-year-old son who is angry to leave life as he knows it behind; upon arriving at the settlement, he finds himself instantly drawn to the beautiful and rule-breaking SKYE (Allison Miller).
MADDY SHANNON (Naomi Scott), Josh’s endearingly awkward 15-year-old sister, hopes TERRA NOVA will give her a new chance to reinvent herself. Although Elisabeth’s medical training secured the family a spot on the pilgrimage, a secret involving their five-year-old daughter, ZOE (Alana Mansour), soon endangers their place in this utopia.
Upon the Shannon’s arrival, they are introduced to COMMANDER NATHANIEL TAYLOR (Stephen Lang), the charismatic and heroic first pioneer and leader of the settlement. Taylor, along with his right-hand man, GUZMAN (Mido Hamada), warn the travelers that while Terra Nova is a place of new opportunities and fresh beginnings, all is not as idyllic as it initially appears. Along with blue skies, towering waterfalls and lush vegetation, the surrounding terrain is teeming with danger – and not just of the man-eating dinosaur variety. There is also a splinter colony of renegades led by the battle-hardened MIRA (Christine Adams), who is vehemently opposed to Taylor and his leadership.
Even more threatening than what lies outside the protective walls of the colony is the chilling possibility that something sinister is happening inside Terra Nova. The Shannons will come to suspect that not everyone on this mission has the same idea of how to best save mankind; in fact, there may be forces intent on destroying this new world before it even begins.
TERRA NOVA is produced by 20th Century Fox Television, Chernin Entertainment, DreamWorks Television and Kapital Entertainment.
Re: Stuff & Nonsense
« Reply #3871 on: May 4th, 2011, 07:51am »
New York Times
May 3, 2011, 8:50 pm
U.S. Regulators Face Budget Pinch as Mandates Widen
By BEN PROTESS
Government regulators on the Wall Street beat have long been outnumbered and outspent by the companies they are supposed to police. But even after receiving budget increases from Congress last month, regulators are still falling behind.
The Securities and Exchange Commission and the Commodity Futures Trading Commission are struggling to fill crucial jobs, enforce new rules, upgrade market surveillance technology and pay for travel.
On a recent trip to New York to tour a trading floor, a group of employees from the commodities watchdog rode Mega Bus both ways, arriving late to their meeting despite a 5:30 a.m. departure. The bus, which cost $30 a person round trip, saved the agency roughly $1,000 over Amtrak.
“We spent hundreds of billions of dollars on a hideous bailout, and now we’re not going to fund reforms to prevent another one,” said Bart Chilton, a commissioner with the agency.
The money squeeze comes as Wall Street regulators take on added responsibilities in the wake of the financial crisis, including monitoring hedge funds, overseeing the $600 trillion derivatives market and other tasks mandated by the Dodd-Frank law.
Their budgets may soon be even tighter, with Republicans looking to cut the regulators’ spending beginning Oct. 1, the start of the government’s fiscal year. Gary Gensler, the chairman of the commodities agency, and Mary L. Schapiro, the head of the S.E.C., will discuss their budgets for the 2012 fiscal year before a Senate committee on Wednesday.
Current and former regulators warn that budgets cuts would prevent the agencies from enforcing hundreds of new rules enacted under Dodd-Frank, or worse, catching the next Bernard L. Madoff.
But critics contend that the agencies don’t deserve extra money, given that they missed warning signs and failed to catch serious wrongdoing in the years leading up to the crisis. The S.E.C., too, has been accused of mismanaging its finances. The Government Accountability Office has faulted the agency’s accounting almost every year since it began producing financial statements in 2004.
Some Republicans argue that the regulators’ cries of poverty are overblown. The S.E.C.’s budget this year is $1.18 billion, up 6 percent over 2010 — and nearly triple what it was a decade ago.
“A dramatic spending increase to fund the S.E.C. and C.F.T.C., as envisioned by the authors of the Dodd-Frank legislation, would further the mind-set that our nation’s problems can be solved with more spending, not more efficiency,” Representative Scott Garrett, the New Jersey Republican who leads the House Financial Services Committee’s Capital Markets panel, said in a statement earlier this year.
While hiring bans and travel restrictions have been eased since the new budget, regulators say they are largely in a holding pattern as lawmakers debate the 2012 budget. Any further cuts, they say, could undermine their efforts to police Wall Street.
The commodities agency says the uncertainty has forced it to delay some investigations and forgo other potential cases altogether.
“We don’t have the sufficient number of bodies to pursue all relevant investigations and leads,” said Mr. Gensler, adding that his agency was short nearly 70 people in its enforcement division.
Robert S. Khuzami, the S.E.C.’s enforcement chief, has similar worries, noting that some Wall Street investigations have faced mounting delays. Recent departures of lawyers will only magnify the problem, he added.
Mr. Khuzami also said he faced a “significant backlog” of tips and referrals, including in the area of market manipulations and accounting irregularities. The tips, which come from whistle-blowers, law enforcement agencies and investors, often prompt S.E.C. investigations.
“The biggest concern is we’re not going to get to fraud and wrongdoing as early as we should,” he said. And if the agency’s budget is not increased in 2012, the S.E.C.’s enforcement division “won’t cast as wide a net,” he added.
Already, the S.E.C.’s enforcement division has adopted cutbacks. The division, for instance, has curbed its use of expert witnesses in some securities fraud trials, Mr. Khuzami said.
The division also started sending only one lawyer — sometimes a junior staff member — to conduct depositions and interview witnesses, according to defense lawyers and people close to the agency. Senior S.E.C. lawyers monitor the depositions via videoconference.
To avoid hotel costs, some S.E.C. investigators have shuttled between New York and Washington on Amtrak trains that leave around dawn and return the same day. The agency only recently started to again examine investment firms and public companies in some Southern states, after postponing reviews to avoid paying for plane fares.
Despite the recent budget increase, the S.E.C. “still must closely monitor expenses such as travel to make sure that each expense is truly mission-critical,” according to an internal agency memo dated April 14 that was provided to The New York Times. “It is not at all clear what fiscal year 2012 funding level will be approved by Congress,” said the memo, which was signed by Jeff Heslop, the S.E.C.’s chief operating officer.
While the S.E.C. offsets its budget with fees from Wall Street banks and other financial firms — and in recent years has even turned a profit for taxpayers — Congress sets the agency’s spending levels each year. Lawmakers in April raised the S.E.C.’s budget for the next few months by $74 million, to $1.18 billion. President Obama had requested $1.25 billion for the agency, and Dodd-Frank called for $1.3 billion.
The Commodity Futures Trading Commission received $202 million. Although that was a 20 percent increase over the previous year, the budget fell short of the $261 million the agency said it needed to enforce Dodd-Frank. The law requires the commission’s staff for the first time to oversee swaps, a type of derivative. The industry is seven times the size of the futures business now under its jurisdiction, Mr. Gensler said.
“With $202 million, we can grow moderately,” he said. But “we need more resources to protect the public and oversee the swaps market.”
After the budget increases, regulators ended a yearlong hiring freeze. But both agencies say they are reluctant to significantly increase staffing for fear of having their budgets cut in October.
“Please keep in mind that this round of hiring will focus on the agency’s very highest priorities, and many divisions/offices may receive approval for very few, if any, of their priorities at this time,” the internal S.E.C. memo said. The memo further instructed officials to compile a list of the “top 10 priorities for hiring,” which will then be reviewed on a “case-by-case basis.”
The agency said it had not been able to fill nearly 200 positions this year owing to budget constraints. The S.E.C. had five open spots for experts in complex trading and received about 1,000 applicants for the roles; it could afford to hire just one person.
The agency also lacks money to adequately train the enforcement lawyers already on staff, Mr. Khuzami said. Some lawyers who wanted to attain their brokerage licenses to better understand the industry had to put off prep classes.
“I don’t think people realize how serious the problem is and how serious the consequences are,” said Harvey Pitt, who was chairman of the S.E.C. from 2001 to 2003.
The regulators, for instance, have had to slow down the adoption of Dodd-Frank rules. The S.E.C. has put off creating several offices mandated by the law, including a bureau that will oversee the credit rating agencies and a special office of “women and minority inclusion.”
The commodities agency, which planned to complete its 50 new rules by July, is now hoping to finish by early fall. Once the rules are complete, the agency will not have the funds to enforce them, Mr. Gensler said. Some 200 firms registering with the commission as swaps dealers may have to wait months for the agency to process their applications — unless it can hire several new employees in the department.
Regulators fear that Congress will soon slash their budgets, which could send the agencies scrambling to cut costs again — much as they did in recent months amid the threat of a government shutdown.
Until recently, employees from the commission were instructed not to order certain office supplies — items like three-hole punches and heavy-duty staplers. The ban was lifted after the new budget was instituted.
Some regulators were also paying for their own travel. When Mr. Gensler, a former Goldman Sachs executive, headed to Brussels to help the European Parliament create new derivatives rules, he paid out of his own pocket.
Another commissioner from the commodities agency who attended a conference in Boca Raton, Fla., paid for a night at the Sheraton using his family’s promotional points. Mr. Gensler attended via a videoconference.
Re: Stuff & Nonsense
« Reply #3873 on: May 4th, 2011, 08:01am »
Wired Danger Room
Gallery: Stealth Drone’s First Flight By Noah Shachtman May 3, 2011 | 5:50 pm Categories: Drones
Stealthy spy drones may or may not have been in on the final manhunt for Osama bin Laden. But there’s no question that the next generation of unmanned aerial vehicles will figure heavily in the military’s future. And unlike today’s models, these new, heavily armed drones will be hard to spot — and largely fly themselves, with little human intervention.
Boeing announced Tuesday that its stealthy killer drone — the “Phantom Ray” — had flown for the first time. The flight, from Edwards Air Force Base, California, lasted just 17 minutes.
The drone only reached 7,500 feet in altitude. But if these tests proceed as planned, the 36,500-pound, 36-foot-long drone will soar up to 40,000 feet and dash at nearly the speed of sound.
Re: Stuff & Nonsense
« Reply #3874 on: May 4th, 2011, 08:12am »
Rachel Weisz to Play Evil Witch in Disney's 'Oz'
The Oscar-winning actress joins James Franco and Mila Kunis in the project, to be directed by Sam Raimi.
7:53 PM 5/3/2011 by Borys Kit
Oscar-winning actress Rachel Weisz is in negotiations to play the villainess in Oz: The Great and Powerful, Disney’s prequel-ish take on The Wizard of Oz tale that stars James Franco and Mila Kunis and is being directed by Sam Raimi.
The movie stars Franco as Oz, a snake oil salesman who finds himself dealing with real magic when his balloon carries him into a fabled land and he runs into genuine witches.
Weisz would play Evanora, a powerful, evil witch who intends to rule the land. She is the sister of Theadora (Kunis) and tries to seduce her to the dark side.
The role would be a change of pace for Weisz, who — despite an eclectic resume ranging from her Oscar-winning work in The Constant Gardener to Wong Kar Wai’s My Blueberry Nights to The Mummy — has never worked on a project of this scale and never tackled what is sure to be a splashy role.
Re: Stuff & Nonsense
« Reply #3875 on: May 4th, 2011, 08:22am »
About 1.2 billion euros in Libyan funds frozen in Austria
Wed May 4, 2011 7:14am EDT
VIENNA (Reuters) - Austria has frozen around 1.2 billion euros ($1.78 billion) in funds that authorities think could be linked to Libyan leader Muammar Gaddafi's inner circle, a top central bank official told Reuters.
Austrian National Bank Governor Ewald Nowotny had cited that figure in February as the overall amount of Libyan assets in the Austrian financial system, but officials had not previously confirmed how much of it was actually blocked.
"The amount that has been frozen is in the order of magnitude of the figure mentioned by the governor," Austrian National Bank Director Andreas Ittner said on the sidelines of a central bank news conference on Wednesday.
He did not give any details about the funds' owners.
The Alpine country ordered a freeze on any money linked to Gaddafi in March, putting 27 people on a watch-list including a former top Libyan Investment Authority (LIA) official.
The European Union has followed suit.
People close to the situation have told Reuters a large part of the funds belonged to Libya's central bank and were on deposit at commercial banks in Austria.
The freeze also blocked the domestic accounts of Mustafa Zarti, an Austrian national and former deputy chairman of the LIA, who has denied media reports portraying him as Gaddafi's money man and has sued to reverse the freeze.
Nowotny has described the hunt for Gaddafi money as "painstaking police work" that could take years before the final sum is revealed.
Gaddafi's son Saif al-Islam studied in Vienna. He and Zarti met in Austria and remain friends, Zarti has said.
In Austria, Saif Gaddafi lived in a villa on the outskirts of Vienna and housed his two white pet tigers in the city's zoo.
European powers have called on Gaddafi, in power for more than four decades, to stand down after his attempts to suppress anti-government protests that spawned an outright revolt.
(Reporting by Michael Shields; Editing by Ron Askew)
Re: Stuff & Nonsense
« Reply #3876 on: May 4th, 2011, 12:57pm »
STAR WARS blu-ray details released, Includes 40 hours of special features
by Tiberius 4 May 2011
In celebration of Star Wars Day, Lucasfilm has announced all of the details about the upcoming Star Wars Blu-ray releases. The discs are scheduled to arrive in stores on September 16th. There are three editions to choose from. You can either purchase The Complete Saga with all the movies included or the original trilogy / prequels by themselves.
The discs will contain an insane amount of cool stuff, with over 40 hours of special features. There are commentaries on each disc plus a host of new documentaries about the films. For all the details check out the official press release below.
Bring home the adventure and share Star Wars™ with your whole family – when STAR WARS: THE COMPLETE SAGA comes to Blu-ray Disc from Lucasfilm Ltd. and Twentieth Century Fox Home Entertainment! To be released beginning on September 12 internationally and on September 16 in North America, the nine-disc collection brings the wonder of the entire Saga direct to your living room, where you can revisit all of your favorite Star Wars moments – in gorgeous high definition and with pristine, 6.1 DTS Surround Sound. Dive deeper into the universe with an unprecedented 40+ hours of special features, highlighted by never-before-seen content sourced from the Lucasfilm archives.
STAR WARS: THE COMPLETE SAGA ON BLU-RAY is presented in widescreen with 6.1 DTS Surround Sound. Special features include:
DISC ONE – STAR WARS: EPISODE I THE PHANTOM MENACE ■Audio Commentary with George Lucas, Rick McCallum, Ben Burtt, Rob Coleman, John Knoll, Dennis Muren and Scott Squires ■Audio Commentary from Archival Interviews with Cast and Crew
DISC TWO – STAR WARS: EPISODE II ATTACK OF THE CLONES ■Audio Commentary with George Lucas, Rick McCallum, Ben Burtt, Rob Coleman, Pablo Helman, John Knoll and Ben Snow ■Audio Commentary from Archival Interviews with Cast and Crew
DISC THREE – STAR WARS: EPISODE IIIREVENGE OF THE SITH ■Audio Commentary with George Lucas, Rick McCallum, Rob Coleman, John Knoll and Roger Guyett ■Audio Commentary from Archival Interviews with Cast and Crew
DISC FOUR – STAR WARS: EPISODE IV A NEW HOPE ■Audio Commentary with George Lucas, Carrie Fisher, Ben Burtt and Dennis Muren ■Audio Commentary from Archival Interviews with Cast and Crew
DISC FIVE – STAR WARS: EPISODE V THE EMPIRE STRIKES BACK ■Audio Commentary with George Lucas, Irvin Kershner, Carrie Fisher, Ben Burtt and Dennis Muren ■Audio Commentary from Archival Interviews with Cast and Crew
DISC SIX – STAR WARS: EPISODE VI RETURN OF THE JEDI ■Audio Commentary with George Lucas, Carrie Fisher, Ben Burtt and Dennis Muren ■Audio Commentary from Archival Interviews with Cast and Crew
DISC SEVEN – NEW! STAR WARS ARCHIVES: EPISODES I-III ■Including: deleted, extended and alternate scenes; prop, maquette and costume turnarounds; matte paintings and concept art; supplementary interviews with cast and crew; a flythrough of the Lucasfilm Archives and more
DISC EIGHT – NEW! STAR WARS ARCHIVES: EPISODES IV-VI ■Including: deleted, extended and alternate scenes; prop, maquette and costume turnarounds; matte paintings and concept art; supplementary interviews with cast and crew; and more
DISC NINE – THE STAR WARS DOCUMENTARIES ■NEW! Star Warriors (2007, Color, Apx. 84 Minutes) – Some Star Wars fans want to collect action figures...these fans want to be action figures! A tribute to the 501st Legion, a global organization of Star Wars costume enthusiasts, this insightful documentary shows how the super-fan club promotes interest in the films through charity and volunteer work at fundraisers and high-profile special events around the world. ■NEW! A Conversation with the Masters: The Empire Strikes Back 30 Years Later (2010, Color, Apx. 25 Minutes) – George Lucas, Irvin Kershner, Lawrence Kasdan and John Williams look back on the making of The Empire Strikes Back in this in-depth retrospective from Lucasfilm created to help commemorate the 30th anniversary of the movie. The masters discuss and reminisce about one of the most beloved films of all time. ■NEW! Star Wars Spoofs (2011, Color, Apx. 91 Minutes) – The farce is strong with this one! Enjoy a hilarious collection of Star Wars spoofs and parodies that have been created over the years, including outrageous clips from Family Guy, The Simpsons, How I Met Your Mother and more — and don´t miss "Weird Al" Yankovic´s one-of-a-kind music video tribute to The Phantom Menace! ■The Making of Star Wars (1977, Color, Apx. 49 Minutes) – Learn the incredible behind-the-scenes story of how the original Star Wars movie was brought to the big screen in this fascinating documentary hosted by C-3PO and R2-D2. Includes interviews with George Lucas and appearances by Mark Hamill, Harrison Ford and Carrie Fisher. ■The Empire Strikes Back: SPFX (1980, Color, Apx. 48 Minutes) – Learn the secrets of making movies in a galaxy far, far away. Hosted by Mark Hamill, this revealing documentary offers behind-the-scenes glimpses into the amazing special effects that transformed George Lucas´ vision for Star Wars and The Empire Strikes Back into reality! ■Classic Creatures: Return of the Jedi (1983, Color, Apx. 48 Minutes) – Go behind the scenes — and into the costumes — as production footage from Return of the Jedi is interspersed with vintage monster movie clips in this in-depth exploration of the painstaking techniques utilized by George Lucas to create the classic creatures and characters seen in the film. Hosted and narrated by Carrie Fisher and Billie Dee Williams. ■Anatomy of a Dewback (1997, Color, Apx. 26 Minutes) – See how some of the special effects in Star Wars became even more special two decades later! George Lucas explains and demonstrates how his team transformed the original dewback creatures from immovable rubber puppets (in the original 1977 release) to seemingly living, breathing creatures for the Star Wars 1997 Special Edition update. ■Star Wars Tech (2007, Color, Apx. 46 Minutes) – Exploring the technical aspects of Star Wars vehicles, weapons and gadgetry, Star Wars Tech consults leading scientists in the fields of physics, prosthetics, lasers, engineering and astronomy to examine the plausibility of Star Wars technology based on science as we know it today.
Please note that this page will be updated during the day as more details come in.
Re: Stuff & Nonsense
« Reply #3879 on: May 4th, 2011, 1:27pm »
He was a great man and I valued his opinion and input. I am thankful for that. I'm also thankful for that he was backing me up as I went through difficult times. I'm really sad to hear about his passing away. It's a real loss and he will be missed.
I know that he wanted to sing up here if his buddy would have done so too or if he somehow got into trouble at that other forum where he was quite active throughout the years. Too bad that he never made it. I could imagine that quite some would have appreciated his knowledge and input since he's been in this field since decades. He was not just an artist he also has done his own research: http://www.realityuncovered.net/forum/viewtopic.php?f=10&t=1547