Re: Stuff & Nonsense
« Reply #3916 on: May 6th, 2011, 1:38pm »
Wired Danger Room
No, Navy SEAL Dogs Don’t Have Titanium Teeth By Spencer Ackerman May 5, 2011 | 5:51 pm Categories: Terrorists, Guerillas, Pirates
Military dogs are awe-inspiring creatures, especially when attached to elite troops like the Navy SEALs. All day, the media have been in a frenzy over the fact that a military dog accompanied SEAL Team 6 on its mission to wax Osama bin Laden.
But let’s kill a misleading meme before it spreads further: Navy SEAL dogs don’t have titanium teeth.
A piece in The Daily took a good, detailed sniff around the German shepherds and Belgian Malinois that accompany special operations forces on patrol. But overshadowing all the cool radios and cameras strapped to the dogs is the claim that their “razor-sharp teeth are made of titanium,” at a cost of $2,000 per chomper. Getting bit by them “is like being stabbed four times at once with a bone crusher,” one dog trainer told The Daily. To quote enhanced-grille expert Pall Wall, that got the internet going nuts.
There’s one problem. If the dogs do have Kanye teeth, it’s a sign something’s wrong with them.
“It would not be possible for them to use titanium teeth to make them even more aggressive,” says Jeff Franklin, owner of Cobra Canine in Virginia Beach. “They’re not as stable as a regular tooth would be, and they’re much more likely to come out” during a biting.
The only reason to have titanium teeth? Medical reasons, he says, like “if a dog breaks a tooth … it’s the same as a crown for a human.”
Franklin should know. Cobra Canine got a $550,000 contract in April from the U.S. Special Operations Command to train military working dogs for Naval Special Warfare Group 2. (He says it’s been “three years” since he’s worked with the very secretive “DevGru,” or Team 6.) That’s a re-up from the past two years, when he’s had contracts for dog training with the command that paid out $470,000 each.
Indeed, the command’s requirements for dog teeth don’t seem to account for the circumstances that would lead to grille enhancements. “All four canine teeth must be present and must not be weakened by notching, enamel hyperplasia or abnormal, excessive wear,” it reads.
In other words, if for some reason you see a SEAL dog with light glistening from its titanium teeth, your proper reaction is pity for the creature. “It’s a detriment, not a help,” Franklin says. On the other hand, if you’re coming into close contact with the jaws of a SEAL’s dog, you’re in for a lot of trouble from his very deadly master.
Re: Stuff & Nonsense
« Reply #3917 on: May 6th, 2011, 2:44pm »
The Northern Light
Groen found guilty in helicopter case Published on Thu, May 5, 2011 by Jeremy Schwartz
A Seattle jury convicted a Lynden man last week of incapacitating the pilot of a Customs and Border Patrol (CBP) helicopter after pointing a high-powered flashlight at the aircraft during a nighttime flight.
On April 28, Wayne Groen was found guilty of one count of incapacitating an individual during the authorized operation of an aircraft but was found not guilty of interference with the authorized operation of an aircraft. Groen faces a maximum prison sentence of 20 years. Sentencing for Groen, who is out on bond, was set for August 4.
At about 9:30 p.m. on September 22, 2010, Groen walked out of his house and shined a high-powered flashlight toward the helicopter, which was aiding Border Patrol agents in pursuing individuals accused of illegally crossing the border.
The helicopter was approximately 500 feet off the ground when the light struck the pilots, allegedly temporarily blinding both of them and forcing them to remove their night vision goggles and fly away from the scene.
The two pilots later returned to aid in the search for the light’s source and found Groen sitting in his truck near his home on H Street east of Blaine. In later interviews with federal agents, Groen admitted he shined the light at the helicopter and that it was probably a bad idea.
Groen was formally indicted in January, igniting a firestorm of criticism against the CBP, and Border Patrol agents specifically. About a month after Groen’s indictment, the CBP hosted a public forum at Blaine high school where people had the chance to air their grievances with the Border Patrol, though the Groen case was not specifically discussed.
Groen’s defense, lead by attorney Jeffrey Lustick, claimed Groen was merely curious as to what the helicopter was doing and did not intend to harm the pilots.
The prosecution sought to frame the September 22 incident as one in a series of encounters Groen had with CPB agents, but Judge Thomas Zilly ruled both the defense and prosecution could only use testimony specific to the September encounter.
Matthias Giraud and Stefan Laude capture some of the most incredible content seen by GoPro as they hit the Alps like true heroes skiing the French backcountry while escaping a large avalanche on their tails!
Re: Stuff & Nonsense
« Reply #3923 on: May 6th, 2011, 5:29pm »
Wired Threat Level
Domestic Surveillance Court Approved All 1,506 Warrant Applications in 2010 By David Kravets May 6, 2011 | 4:24 pm Categories: Sunshine and Secrecy, Surveillance
by Urban Don
The secretive Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court approved all 1,506 government requests to electronically monitor suspected “agents” of a foreign power or terrorists on U.S. soil last year, according to a Justice Department report released under the Freedom of Information Act.
The two-page report, which shows about a 13 percent increase in the number of applications for electronic surveillance between 2009 and 2010, was obtained by the Federation of American Scientists and published Friday.
“The FISC did not deny any applications in whole, or in part,” according to the April 19 report to Sen. Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nevada).
The 11-member court denied two of 1,329 applications for domestic-intelligence surveillance in 2009. The FBI is the primary agency making those requests.
Whether the FISA court, whose business is conducted behind closed doors, is rubber-stamping the requests is a matter of debate.
“That’s been a traditional concern that the court might have become a rubber stamp and that it’s approval is only a formality,” Steven Aftergood, the director of the Project on Government Secrecy for the Federation of American Scientists, said by telephone. “The government’s argument, and it’s also an argument that has been made occasionally by the judges, is in fact the Justice Department has grasped the court’s expectations so well that the only applications they submit to the court are ones that are likely to meet its approval.”
The court, set up in 1978, issues warrants for domestic surveillance that are unlike the warrants issued in criminal investigations. The secret court warrants, under the authority of the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act, grant the government broad authority to secretly monitor the electronic communications of persons in the United States, generally for intelligence purposes only.
The targets of a FISA warrant may never learn of the surveillance. Whereas subjects of non-FISA warrants may challenge the warrants and the evidence gathered if it is used in a criminal prosecution.
Aftergood notes that the figures, whether they amount to rubber-stamping or not, do not account for the warrantless monitoring program President George W. Bush adopted in the wake of the 2001 terror attacks. Under the Terror Surveillance Program, exposed in 2005 by The New York Times, the government conceded it was eavesdropping — without warrants — on the electronic communications of Americans if they were communicating with somebody overseas believed linked to terrorism.
The Justice Department report, meanwhile, said the FBI issued 24,287 “national security letter” requests last year on 14,212 people, “a substantial increase from the 2009 level of 14,788 NSL requests concerning 6,114 U.S. persons,” Aftergood wrote in a blog post. In 2008, there were 24,744 requests regarding 7,225 people.
National security letters are written demands from the FBI that compel internet service providers, credit companies, financial institutions and others to hand over confidential records about their customers, such as subscriber information, phone numbers and e-mail addresses, websites visited and more.
They do not require court approval, and the FBI need merely assert that the information is “relevant” to an investigation, and anyone who gets a national security letter is prohibited from even disclosing that they’ve received one.
Re: Stuff & Nonsense
« Reply #3924 on: May 6th, 2011, 6:48pm »
Tonight's the night!!
Meteor Shower Tonight to Rain Bits of Halley's Comet on Earth
Published May 06, 2011 | Space.com
Bits and pieces of the famous Halley's Comet will light up the overnight sky in a promising meteor shower, weather permitting, skywatching experts say.
The annual Eta Aquarid meteor shower will peak early tomorrow morning and is expected to put on a dazzling display of "shooting stars" for skywatchers graced with good weather and clear skies. That's because the moon, which is currently in its unlit new phase, won't interfere with the meteor light show as it did with last month's Lyrid shower.
The Eta Aquarids are meteors created by bits of left over material from Halley's Comet as it travels through the solar system on its 76 year orbit. This year, the display runs from April 28 through May 21, but May 6 should mark its peak, according to the American Meteor Society.
"Under ideal conditions (a dark, moonless sky) about 30 to 60 of these very swift meteors can be seen per hour," advises SPACE.com skywatching columnist Joe Rao. "And with a new moon on May 3 this is one of those years when observing conditions will be perfect."
Re: Stuff & Nonsense
« Reply #3926 on: May 7th, 2011, 08:31am »
SYRIA: Syrian tanks enter embattled cities, protesters say May 7, 2011 | 6:07 am
Syrian army tanks entered the coastal city of Baniyas and the western city of Homs on Saturday, witnesses told the Al Jazeera satellite network. A witness told the network that in Baniyas, shops closed and people hid in their homes as the tanks arrived.
"We are really scared that Baniyas will be a repeat of Dara," he said, referring to the besieged southern town where the protests began more than six weeks ago. He said residents worried they would be framed as "armed gangs" and attacked by secret police.
Early Saturday, communications to Baniyas were severed, including land lines, mobile networks and the Internet, activists told Al Jazeera. Communication has been shut down to Homs since Friday night, after protesters took to the streets and confronted security forces, as seen in a video posted online. The video could not be verified.
Re: Stuff & Nonsense
« Reply #3927 on: May 7th, 2011, 08:34am »
Waiting game along the Mississippi
By Adrian Sainz and Cain Burdeau Published: May 6
MEMPHIS — The Coast Guard closed a section of the swollen Mississippi River to barge traffic Friday to try to protect a Missouri town from floodwaters.
Farther south, police in Memphis went door to door, urging people to flee nearly 1,000 homes that could be swamped by the mighty river. Emergency workers handed out bright yellow fliers in English and Spanish reading, “Evacuate!!! Your property is in danger right now.”
All the way into the Mississippi Delta, people along the river and its tributaries debated whether to stay or go as high water threatened to soak communities over the next week or two. The flooding has already broken high-water records that have stood since the 1930s.
The Coast Guard closed a five-mile stretch of the Mississippi on Friday to protect Caruthersville, Mo., and said ship traffic could be banned for up to eight days. The concern is that the wake from big boats could push water over a flood wall and into the town.
In Tennessee, where local officials do not have the authority to order people to evacuate, they hoped the fliers would persuade them to leave. Bob Nations, director of emergency management for Shelby County, which includes Memphis, said there was still plenty of time. The river is not expected to crest until Wednesday.
“This does not mean that water is at your doorstep,” Nations said of the door-to-door effort. “This means you are in a high-impact area.” Shelby County Division Fire Chief Joseph Rike said about 950 households in Memphis and about 135 other homes in the county were being notified.
Shelters have been opened, and the fliers include a phone number to arrange transportation for people who need it.
Graceland, Elvis Presley’s home and one of the city’s best-known landmarks, is about a 20-minute drive from the river and in no danger of flooding, spokesman Kevin Kern said Friday.
“We’re on a hill, high and dry and open for business and will stay open,” Kern said.
Water pooled at the lowest end of Beale Street, the most famous thoroughfare in the history of the blues, but it was about a half-mile from the street’s popular restaurants, shops and bars and did not threaten any homes or businesses. Water also swamped a county airport, but the main Memphis airport was not threatened, nor was shipping giant FedEx. The express sorting hub at Memphis International Airport handles up to 2 million packages per day.
Residents and businesses could be dealing with the aftermath of the flood for weeks, because officials said it may be the end of May before flooded areas dry out.
As flooding began in parts of the Mississippi Delta, white-tail deer and wild pigs were swimming to dry land. Yacht clubs were submerged, and floating casinos were closed.
The sliver of land in northwest Mississippi.
In the northwest Mississippi community of Greenville, Ken Gelston was helping pack furniture, photos and other belongings into pickups. “We’re getting our Mamma and Daddy out,” he said. His parents’ home sits on Eagle Lake, which the Army Corps of Engineers expects to rise significantly. “We could have 5 feet of water in there,” Gelston said, nodding at the house. “That’s what they’re telling us.”
A little farther north in Rolling Fork, Miss., the birthplace of McKinley Morganfield, better known as Muddy Waters, tension was high.
“It’s weird,” said Lakeysha Stamps, a waitress at the Highway 61 Cafe. “Here we are today, and everything’s fine. And tomorrow there could be all this water.”
The sentiment was the same elsewhere.
Residents of a well-to-do Memphis enclave on Mud Island, which sits in the river, were getting too much of their beloved surroundings. Rising waters practically lapped at the back porches of some of the island’s expensive houses.
“I’m going to sleep thinking, ‘I hope they don’t evacuate the island and we wake up and we’re the only ones here,’ ” said Emily Tabor, a first-year student at the University of Tennessee’s College of Pharmacy in Memphis.
Emergency officials warned that residents may need to leave their homes as the river rises toward an expected crest Wednesday of 48 feet — about 3 feet higher than Thursday. The record in Memphis — 48.7 feet — was set in 1937.
Re: Stuff & Nonsense
« Reply #3928 on: May 7th, 2011, 08:43am »
Kentucky Derby 2011: Uncle Mo is scratched, leaving race wide open and lacking star power
By Kevin Van Valkenburg Published: May 6
When 19 horses charge from the gate Saturday in the 137th running of the Kentucky Derby, it will mark the start of what — even in a down year — can still be called the two most exciting minutes in all of sports.
But the reality of the 2011 Derby is the horse that isn’t in the race might be a bigger story than the ones that are.
That could change, of course. The winner might emerge as a star, a horse capable of winning the Preakness Stakes in two weeks and competing for the Belmont in June, and give a niche sport some much-needed buzz. But that could also be wishful thinking. When Uncle Mo was scratched on Friday morning with a mysterious internal illness, it marked the third straight year the most talented horse in the field didn’t make it to the starting gate.
In 2009, I Want Revenge and Quality Road failed to run because of injury. Eskendereya had to be scratched in 2010. And now Uncle Mo this year.
Uncle Mo wasn’t quite the morning-line favorite this year. That honor went to Dialed In, a lightly-raced Nick Zito-trained colt who won the Florida Derby. But virtually everyone acknowledges that if Uncle Mo were healthy, he’d likely be the horse to beat.
“He’s a very, very special horse,” said Todd Pletcher, who won his first Derby last year. “If he’s right, you come into a race feeling very confident.”
Uncle Mo hasn’t looked right, however, ever since he finished third at the Wood Memorial in early April. His absence is another blow to a sport that can’t seem to keep some of its best athletes healthy.
“I am very, very, very, very disappointed about this,” Pletcher said. “I don’t think I’ve ever had a horse as good as Uncle Mo. We’ve had every resource to try to get this horse right, but we’re not there. I take it as a personal failure. We just don’t know what’s wrong with this horse, and it scares me.”
Even Zito, who will be trying to win his third Kentucky Derby Saturday and could benefit significantly from Uncle Mo’s absence, was quick to acknowledge what a bad break it was for horse racing.
“I am disappointed, like everyone else,” Zito said. “He is a great horse and I feel sorry for the connections. It’s a tough business we are in right now. I just would have loved to have seen Uncle Mo win the Wood and go onto the Derby. There would have been a lot of hype for the horse and the game needs that. It’s unfortunate and it will happen again, which is also unfortunate. It just goes to show you that it’s a very tough thing to get to the Kentucky Derby.”
Even this year, Uncle Mo wasn’t the only serious contender bounced from the field. Maryland-based trainer Graham Motion lost a promising starter in Toby’s Corner before the week had barely begun. Toby’s Corner won the Wood Memorial when Uncle Mo tired.
“It’s been a real emotional roller coaster for everybody, particularly for the guys at Fair Hill, who put so much into Toby’s Corner,” Motion said. “But that is the nature of the game and it’s what you grow used to.”
There will be a winner, of course, but who it might be is shaping up to be one of the toughest calls in years. Dialed In looks like a safe bet to hit the board, but he’s a closer without a lot of early speed, and asking him to weave through traffic and run the perfect race is a lot from a horse that’s only run four times in his career. And Zito knows as well as anyone that having the best horse at the Derby is no guarantee for success. Last year, he might have won his third Derby with Ice Box had the horse not run into traffic multiple times in pursuit of Super Saver.
“I love my horse,” Zito said. “He is a well deserving morning-line favorite and I hope everything works out. . . . It’s been a long time since we’ve won this race, but you’ve got to be thankful for the ones you’ve won.”
In the absence of a dominant performer, a big group of owners and trainers feel they have a legitimate shot at snatching the blanket of roses awarded to the winner. Even long shot Twice the Appeal, who began the week at 30-1 odds, was drawing heavy action early for reasons that can only be explained by his jockey, Calvin Borel, who will be trying to win his third straight Derby and his fourth in five years.
“I’m going to have my wife bet $500 on Calvin Borel, just in case,” said trainer Bob Baffert, who has his own long shot, Midnight Interlude, in the race. “If it’s wet, he’ll ride that rail and he’s good for seven or eight lengths.”
Realistically, Borel may not have enough horse underneath him this year to pull off the three-peat. Twice the Appeal has just three wins in 10 career starts. But the Louisville forecast is calling for rain showers in the afternoon, and on a muddy track, anything can happen.
If you’re looking for a sentimental favorite with a legitimate chance, you can’t do much better than Mucho Macho Man. He nearly died as a foal before springing to life right when veterinarians were about to give up on him. Even better, his trainer, Kathy Ritvo, had a heart transplant three years ago.
“It’s not a high pressure week for me,” Ritvo said. “The high pressure week for me was waiting for a heart. This is fun.”
If you like bucking historical trends, Archarcharch is a compelling pick. The Arkansas Derby winner has trained better than every horse at Churchill Downs this week, and has a veteran trainer in Jinks Fires. But the horse’s chances took a serious hit at the post position draw when he drew the No. 1 spot. The last horse to win the Derby in a field of 17 or more who started on the rail was War Admiral in 1937. Jockey Jon Court will need to fall back from the pack and stage a late charge to buck that trend.
Nehro is another legitimate contender who is hampered by an unfortunate post position. He drew No. 19, a spot no horse has ever won from, although when Uncle Mo was scratched, it did mean he could slide down one stall. A runner-up in the Arkansas Derby and the Louisiana Derby, Nehro has shown rapid improvement in recent months, and may be peaking at the right time.
But with rain looming and no dominant horse in the field, maybe it will be the kind of year where a horse like Mine That Bird — who prior to the race was a 50-1 long shot — stuns everyone with a surprise victory.
“I think about 10 horses have a chance to win,” Baffert said.
It’s just a shame, for the sake of the sport, Uncle Mo isn’t one of them.
Re: Stuff & Nonsense
« Reply #3929 on: May 7th, 2011, 08:49am »
Extreme mountaineering and rock climbing photographs by Robert Bosch
Over 37 years and seven continents, Robert Bosch has travelled to the some of the highest peaks on Earth as one of the world's premier mountain photographers. Sharing in mountaineers' trials and exertions by scaling the heights, Robert has captured stunning images that pay tribute to climbers and nature.