Re: Stuff & Nonsense
« Reply #3887 on: May 4th, 2011, 5:27pm »
Lights over Lake Erie: 'Best UFO footage ever'?
An Ohio man elicits chuckles with claims that a flickering light he captured on video is an alien spaceship whose crew knows he's filming them
posted on May 4, 2011, at 2:19 PM
The video: Michael Lee Hill is notorious for shooting video of mysterious lights hovering over Lake Erie, but recently the Ohio UFO enthusiast shot what he calls his best clip ever. In it, the light in question flashes over the water, changes color, disappears, then reappears. (See the footage below.) "[The aliens] know I'm sitting there filming them," Hill says. "Every year they've come in closer and closer." Though the Cleveland Ufology Project, initiated in 1952, has determined that the glimmers Hill films are airplane lights, he disagrees, pointing out that the light in his latest clip does not move. NASA, which has a facility in Cleveland, has long declined to comment on Hill's claims.
The reaction: Maybe this really is the "best UFO footage ever," says Annalee Newitz at i09. It could be that "aliens love the Canadian border so much that they just hang out there all the time." Sadly, though, the Coast Guard checked with Canada, and it turns out "this UFO was caused by a mysterious quirk of the atmosphere" that occasionally beams lights from TV and radio towers across the water toward Ohio. Indeed, this is not a UFO, says Vince Grzegorek at Cleveland's Scene. If you disagree, "we heartily recommend you don't remove your tinfoil hat until further notice." See for yourself:
Re: Stuff & Nonsense
« Reply #3890 on: May 5th, 2011, 08:06am »
New York Times
May 5, 2011
U.S. Seeks to Aid Libyan Rebels With Seized Assets By STEVEN LEE MYERS and RACHEL DONADIO
ROME – The United States announced Thursday that it would try to release some of the more than $30 billion in assets seized from Libya’s leader, Col. Muammar el-Qaddafi, to help the Libyan people as dozens of officials met here to bolster a NATO-led military intervention that to critics appears stalled.
The officials, representing NATO nations, Arab countries and international organizations, said they would create a special fund to allow humanitarian and other financial assistance to flow in rebel-controlled parts of Libya despite United Nations sanctions that apply to Colonel Qaddafi’s government.
“Clearly on our agenda is looking for the most effective way to deliver financial assets and other means of supporting and helping” the loosely organized political and military forces fighting the Qaddafi forces, Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton said.
With Libya’s opposition requesting more international assistance, Mrs. Clinton said that she would ask Congress to allow some of the frozen assets to help the Libyan people. But it remains unclear how the new fund would work. The United States requires legislation or an executive order to unfreeze assets frozen by the Treasury Department. Thursday’s meeting was co-hosted by Italy and Qatar. The leader of Libya’s opposition council, Mustafa Abdel-Jalil, who used to be Qaddafi’s justice minister, also attended. The meeting appeared to be an effort to bring diplomacy in line with the rapidly evolving situation on the ground in Libya, where different tribal factions — and the NATO nations themselves — are jockeying for a role in a post-Qaddafi Libya.
“This is not a civil war,” Italian Foreign Minister Franco Frattini said on Thursday. “Rather, it could be defined as the Libyan people’s resistance to the aggression of Qaddafi’s personal army.”
“We shall not leave a divided and insecure Libya as a playground for Qaddafi’s mercenaries,” he added. “Our message must be that we shall keep up the pressure, using all legitimate means and with the aim also of convincing Qaddafi’s entourage to join the many who have already defected.”
Italy, France and Qatar have formally recognized the rebel opposition. On Thursday, Mr. Frattini called on more countries to do so.
Italy is co-hosting the meeting of the Libya Contact Group two weeks after it said it would start participating in NATO bombing raids against select military targets in Libya, after previously declining to do so. Although Italy has been providing logistical support from its many NATO and American bases, the Libya intervention has been particularly challenging for Italy, a former colonial power in Libya, with which it has close economic ties.
Yet the fact that the group is so large — with 22 countries, as well as representatives from the United Nations, the Arab League and other organizations — makes it difficult to find common ground.
Some in Europe have called for a clearer strategy from the United States. “The U.S. doesn’t have great economic interests in Libya, and I can understand that Egypt and the Gulf are its focus," a senior Italian diplomat said, speaking on condition of anonymity. "But how can the U.S. fix the Mideast with Libya — a civil war and a black hole — gaping in between?”
Last week, a NATO strike on a military compound in Tripoli killed one of Colonel Qaddafi’s sons. Asked on Thursday whether the United States would consider a targeted killing of Colonel Qaddafi, along the lines of the raid that killed Osama bin Laden, Mrs. Clinton said that NATO was working within the confines of a resolution aimed at protecting civilians.
“The best way to protect civilians is for Qaddafi to cease his ruthless brutal attacks on the cities, to withdraw from the cities that he is attacking and leave power,” she said. “That is the outcome that we are seeking.”
Re: Stuff & Nonsense
« Reply #3891 on: May 5th, 2011, 08:08am »
U.S. agents race to exploit data from Bin Laden raid
Intelligence agencies are scouring documents and computer files seized in the raid on Osama bin Laden's compound in Abbottabad.
By Brian Bennett, Los Angeles Times May 5, 2011
Reporting from Washington
U.S. intelligence agencies are racing to exploit a trove of documents and computer files that U.S. Navy SEALs collected from Osama bin Laden's compound in Pakistan before other Al Qaeda groups or leaders can change their communication methods or move their safe houses.
Many of the files are written in multiple languages, and some appear in code, U.S. officials said.
"At first blush, there appears to be some value," said Rep. Mike Rogers (R-Mich.), chairman of House Intelligence Committee, who was briefed on the effort Wednesday.
Photos: The death of Osama bin Laden
The CIA has created a special task force in Afghanistan to analyze Bin Laden's material for clues to ongoing terrorist plots, the location of other Al Qaeda leaders, funding streams and other fresh intelligence.
The National Security Agency's eavesdroppers also have stepped up efforts to pick up unusual "chatter" from Al Qaeda leaders or sympathizers around the globe following the predawn raid Monday by Navy SEALs that killed Bin Laden and four others.
U.S. counter-terrorism officials worry that Al Qaeda cells or affiliates may accelerate existing plots to make sure attacks are launched before U.S. intelligence agents can chase down new leads. Attack timelines also could be moved up in order to avenge Bin Laden's death.
Experts say major terrorist operations, especially those involving multiple targets, usually take months or years of planning. Any attempt now to change or speed up those plans could create an opening for agents to intercept a message or gain other intelligence to help foil a plot.
U.S. intelligence agents have found that the confusion and reorganization after the capture or death of senior operational leaders for Al Qaeda, to be a fruitful phase for the collection of information.
With Bin Laden gone, analysts also are watching to see if anyone rises to challenge the putative heir apparent and longtime top deputy Ayman Zawahiri.
If Bin Laden was the inspirational leader and financier of Al Qaeda, Zawahiri was seen as the organizational mastermind. But he is far less popular and lacks the charisma and personal narrative that drew fighters to Bin Laden's side.
"Al Qaeda is an uneasy alliance of terrorists of different backgrounds," said a former U.S. intelligence official who has interrogated militant detainees. "Some of these guys can't stand each other."
One possible challenger is Abu Yahya al-Libi, a propagandist for Al Qaeda who became a militant folk hero when he escaped from the U.S.-run prison at the Bagram Air Base in Afghanistan in 2005.
But some analysts suspect that the Libyan-born cleric's dark skin may increase the odds against his acceptance by some rank-and-file fighters from the Arab world.
"Jihadists are capable of racism too," said Stephen Tankel, an expert on Al Qaeda at the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace, a Washington-based think tank.
Re: Stuff & Nonsense
« Reply #3892 on: May 5th, 2011, 08:12am »
SpaceShipTwo Completes First Feathered Flight By Jason Paur May 4, 2011 | 2:40 pm Categories: Air Travel, Design
Photo: Clay Center Observatory via Virgin Galactic
The team at Scaled Composites and Virgin Galactic passed a milestone today with the first feathered flight of SpaceShipTwo. The flight is the first test of the re-entry configuration for the spaceship and comes as Scaled is in the middle of a busy month of flight testing for the spacecraft.
Test pilot Pete Siebold was at the controls of SS2 during the flight with Clint Nichols sitting in right seat. They were carried to 51,500 feet by WhiteKnightTwo and released. After establishing a stable glide, SS2 was put into the feather configuration which was developed by Burt Rutan with the SpaceShipOne program as a way to simplify reentry into the atmosphere after achieving sub-orbital flight.
Siebold said the spaceship flew well and there were no surprises on the flight , “this morning’s flight was a test pilot’s dream.”
In the feather position, the tail of SS2 is folded 65 degrees upwards with reference to the fuselage (pictured above). This allows the space craft to descend nearly vertically back into the atmosphere while maintaining an airspeed slow enough to prevent extreme heating on the fuselage.
The feathered portion of the flight is designed to be simpler than flying the spaceship back into the atmosphere as was done by the X-15 back in the 1960s. But the ride is still a very dynamic one with SS2 descending like a shuttle cock with some swaying and pendulum motions while the pilots experience several times the force of gravity.
During today’s test flight Siebold kept SS2 in the feather position for approximately one minute and 15 seconds with a descent rate of 15,500 feet per minute. The tail was unfeathered and returned to the normal position and landed at the Mojave airport 11 minutes after being released from WhiteKnightTwo.
Scaled Composites is expected to continue its busy flight test schedule in the coming weeks. The next major milestone flight will be the first powered flight of SpaceShipTwo, and then the first sub-orbital space flight. There will be numerous intermediate flights in various configurations to fully expand and test the flight envelope of SS2.
Virgin Galactic has said they hope to start offering passenger space flights beginning next year, pending the successful completion of flight testing.
Re: Stuff & Nonsense
« Reply #3894 on: May 5th, 2011, 08:23am »
Unemployment applications hit 8-month high
The number of people applying for unemployment benefits surged last week to the highest level in eight months, a troubling sign a day ahead of the government's report on April employment.
By CHRISTOPHER S. RUGABER May 5, 2011 at 5:37 AM AP Economics Writer
WASHINGTON — The number of people applying for unemployment benefits surged last week to the highest level in eight months, a troubling sign a day ahead of the government's report on April employment.
The Labor Department said Thursday that the 43,000 spike in applications to a seasonally adjusted 474,000 last week was largely the result of unusual factors, including a high number of school systems in New York that closed for spring break.
Still, it marked the third increase in four weeks. The four-week average, a less volatile measure, rose for the fourth straight week to 431,250. Applications have jumped 89,000, or 23 percent, in the past four weeks.
"The trend is clearly upward, so that's disconcerting," said Kurt Karl, chief U.S. economist for Swiss Re. "When you get three or four weeks in a row of special factors, they're no longer so special."
Applications near 375,000 are typically consistent with sustainable job growth. Weekly applications peaked during the recession at 659,000.
Rising unemployment applications and other weak economic data this week have prompted some analysts to worry that higher fuel prices may be causing employers to slow their pace of hiring.
The government is scheduled to release its April jobs report on Friday. Economists are projecting that the economy likely added 185,000 jobs in April and the unemployment rate may remain 8.8 percent, but some are now saying the numbers could be lower. Thursday's report also doesn't bode well for hiring in May, economists said.
A Labor Department spokesman blamed much of the latest increase on the unexpected spike caused by New York schools. That resulted in 25,000 layoffs. The department didn't anticipate the closures when making seasonal adjustments, the spokesman said.
Other factors also contributed to the increase, the spokesman said. Oregon launched its own extended unemployment benefit program, which caused an increase in overall applications in the state for unemployment benefits. And auto-related layoffs rose, as some companies have shut down or slowed production due to parts shortages stemming from the earthquake in Japan.
Labor Department analysts have attributed previous increases to other "special factors," such as the unusually late timing of the Easter holiday
Still, applications have risen sharply in recent weeks, raising concerns that high gas and food prices are cutting into consumer spending and slowing the economy. Businesses are also facing higher costs for raw materials, which reduce profit margins. They may be cutting back on hiring as a cost-saving measure.
Other recent data have also pointed to a weaker job market. A private trade group said Wednesday that a measure of employment growth in the service sector, which employs 90 percent of the work force, slowed for the second straight month. The report, by the Institute for Supply Management, still showed that employment rose, but at the slowest pace in 7 months.