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 veryhotthread  Author  Topic: Stuff & Nonsense  (Read 126596 times)
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« Reply #4065 on: May 23rd, 2011, 07:31am »

New York Times

May 23, 2011
Death Toll Rises to 89 From Missouri Tornado
By NOAM COHEN

Much of Joplin, Mo., lay in ruins Monday morning, after a massive tornado, the latest storm to ravage the Midwest and South this spring, tore through the town, killing at least 89 people. Officials say they expect the death toll to climb.

The twister, which touched down at about 6 p.m. Sunday, ripped apart buildings, touched off fires and tossed cars, leaving them mangled stacks of metal. Television images and video posted to the Web captured scenes of devastation that hinted at the storm’s power as neighborhoods appeared to vanish into violent piles of lumber and debris.

St. John’s Regional Medical Center, a major hospital in the southwestern Missouri town, had to be abandoned, witnesses said, and the triage unit set up on its grounds to care for the patients had to be temporarily moved across the street when the hospital caught fire.

Joplin, a town of about 48,000 people near Missouri’s borders with Kansas and Oklahoma, was in the direct path of the tornado. It was left isolated and in the dark after the destruction, with telephone connections largely cut off and many homes without electricity.

The death toll was confirmed by the city manager, Mark Rohr.

Tornadoes have killed hundreds of people during the past two months and caused millions of dollars in damage from Missouri to Oklahoma to North Carolina. Tuscaloosa, Ala., continues to recover from a massive twister that tore through the city in late April.

Initial reports from Joplin said that schools, apartment buildings, megastores and fire stations were struck by the tornado. The local newspaper, the Joplin Globe, said teams with body bags had been dispatched on Sunday night to Home Depot, Wal-Mart and other local businesses.

“There was panic — firefighters were pulling themselves out of the debris and then helping others,” said Mike Bettes, a meteorologist for the Weather Channel who arrived in Joplin 10 minutes after the tornado touched down, as part of the show “The Great Tornado Hunt.”

Hours later, he said, the scene was “very serene — dark, relatively quiet.” He and his Weather Channel crew had set up to report from the hospital grounds, he said in a telephone interview, and “we are on a hill and the only lights we see are on the fire trucks or ambulances.”

Joplin’s was by far the worst damage on a day of brutal storms in the Midwest, including a tornado in Minneapolis that city officials said left one person dead and dozens injured in an area that covered several blocks. By Sunday night, Missouri’s governor, Jay Nixon, had already activated the National Guard and declared a state of emergency.

President Obama said the Federal Emergency Management Agency was being sent.

“FEMA is working with the affected area’s state and local officials to support response and recovery efforts, and the federal government stands ready to help our fellow Americans as needed,” Mr. Obama said.

Weather experts were still trying to assess exactly what had produced such damage. “The power lines have gone down — we can’t reach anyone there,” Bill Davis, a meteorologist at the Springfield, Mo., office of the National Weather Service, said in a telephone interview. He said any assessment of exactly how strong the tornado was would have to wait until tomorrow, when experts would drive to Joplin. However, he said, on a scale from 1 to 10, the tornado looked to be “on the 8-9 level.”

He compared it to a tornado that struck in May 2008 and left a dozen dead in the same part of Missouri. “It very much looked like that supercell,” he said, though that storm managed to spare Joplin a direct hit.

Mr. Bettes, the meteorologist, said that the storm that hit Joplin had been hard to read — which was why his crew was willing to travel so close to it. “It was a rain-wrapped tornado,” he said. “When it is obscured by rain, you can’t tell what the danger is.”

One Joplin resident, Donald Davis, described to The Springfield News-Leader driving through the city, saying that Joplin High School’s windows were broken out and part of its roof was missing. A church across the street was demolished, he said. He also described damage to a grocery store and a large apartment building.

“They’re flattened,” Mr. Davis said. “You just can’t believe it. There must have been 150 units. One lady had a bathrobe around her. Others just had blankets around them.”

The scene at St. John’s hospital was equally overwhelming. “I spoke to a couple of nurses who were on the sixth floor,” said Mike Jenkins, a senior producer at Weather Channel who was with Mr. Bettes at the hospital. “They told me they received a warning, that a tornado or possible tornado was 20 minutes away. They took their precaution, ran through their steps, and five minutes later the windows were blown out, people were blown across the hall.”


http://www.nytimes.com/2011/05/24/us/24tornado.html?hp

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« Reply #4066 on: May 23rd, 2011, 07:34am »

Washington Post

AP Exclusive: Former Palin aide pens tell-all, paints unflattering picture of ex-AK governor

By Associated Press, Updated: Monday, May 23, 5:15 AM


JUNEAU, Alaska — A former member of Sarah Palin’s inner circle has written a scathing tell-all, saying Palin was ready to quit as governor months before she actually resigned and was eager to leave office when more lucrative opportunities came around.

“In 2009 I had the sense if she made it to the White House and I had stayed silent, I could never forgive myself,” Frank Bailey told The Associated Press.

Palin’s attorney did not respond to multiple requests for comment for this story.

“Blind Allegiance to Sarah Palin: A Memoir of Our Tumultuous Years” is due out Tuesday and based on tens of thousands of emails that Bailey said he kept during his time with Palin. It began with working on her 2006 gubernatorial campaign and continued through her failed run for vice president in 2008 and her brief stint as governor.

The Alaska attorney general’s office has said it’s investigating Bailey’s use of the emails. Executive ethics laws bar former public officials from using information acquired during their work for personal gain if the information hasn’t been publicly disseminated.

The state has yet to release thousands of emails that Palin sent and received during her 2 ½ years as governor. Bailey’s attorney has said Bailey took “great care” to ensure his writings were consistent with legal requirements.

Billed as the first Palin book by a former aide, “Blind Allegiance” bolsters the perception of Palin as self-serving, while casting Bailey as her enforcer — willing to do the dirty work, no questions asked.

Bailey became a footnote in Alaska political history by getting embroiled in an investigation of Palin’s firing of her police commissioner over allegations the commissioner wouldn’t fire trooper Mike Wooten, who’d had a bitter divorce with Palin’s sister. Bailey was caught on tape questioning a state trooper official about why Wooten was still employed.

Bailey, who was Palin’s director of boards and commissions, was put on leave after news of the recording broke, though he claims his actions were with the prodding of Palin’s husband, Todd.

In spite of this, and what he describes as campaigns by Sarah Palin over the years to tear down others who have crossed or confronted her, he stuck around.

To speak up when he saw things he didn’t agree with “went against all that investment of time and energy that I put into her,” said Bailey. He said he “shed his family,” his wife and two kids, to singularly focus on Palin during her rise to the governor’s office and beyond.

When Palin burst onto the statewide political scene, she was seen as a “breath of fresh air” amid the corruption that had seeped into Alaska politics. “We looked at her as ... that queen on a horse that could come in and save the state,” he said. “As we started to see that that was not the case, I kept silent and I just kept on working.”

Among the claims made in the book: that Palin’s 2006 gubernatorial campaign coordinated with the Republican Governors Association, or RGA, in violation of campaign rules. The book describes cameras rolling as Palin strode through the door at an Anchorage hotel “over and over and over,” for an RGA ad.

At that time, there was a one-year statute of limitations on complaints, and the Alaska Public Offices Commission did not receive any complaints related to Palin and the association during that period. However, the RGA was fined — unrelated to Palin — for late reporting, according to the commission’s executive director, Paul Dauphinais.

Bailey said the final straw for him came in the summer of 2009, when Palin didn’t attend a rally he believed she’d repeatedly agreed to attend, for supporters of a voter initiative to require minors get parental consent for an abortion. This came after a string of cancellations, including one before a Republican women’s group at the Ronald Reagan Library in California. Her aides claimed no one had committed to this well-publicized event..

“Getting Sarah to meetings and events was like nailing Jell-O to a tree,” Bailey wrote. On the campaign trail and as governor, Sarah went through at least ten schedulers, with few lasting more than months. Nobody wanted the job because Sarah might fail to honor, at the last minute, the smallest commitments, and making excuses for her became a painful burden.”

By the time she cancelled on the parental notification event in Anchorage, Palin had resigned as Alaska’s governor and embarked on a new path, one in which she’d become a best-selling author, highly sought-after speaker, political phenom and prospective presidential candidate.

Bailey claims her heart wasn’t in governing after she returned to Alaska from her failed run for vice president. At home, she faced a barrage of ethics complaints — nearly all of which were ultimately dismissed — and Bailey said she told him as early as February 2009 that if she could find the right message to tell Alaskans, she’d “quit tomorrow.”

She resigned in July 2009.

Bailey confesses to “a ton of mistakes” and speaks of a return to God; he said his church has become a sanctuary and that he’s reconnect with his family. He said writing the book — which itself has generated controversy — was cathartic.

In February, the book project also made headlines when a draft manuscript was leaked. An attorney for Bailey and his co-writers accused author Joe McGinniss, who has his own Palin book coming out this year. McGinniss’ attorney acknowledged McGinniss selectively shared the manuscript, but said the manuscript included no request for confidentiality.

Bailey dismisses any suggestion he’s disgruntled or bitter; he said he got a front-row seat to state and national politics and was able to recommend judges and set up “hundreds” of board positions. “Yeah, there were some tough, tough times but hopefully I’ve learned from some of that,” he said. “Time will tell.”

He said he has no ill feelings toward Palin, with whom he says he hasn’t spoken since the fall of 2009. If anything, he said, he feels sad for her.

“I’m sad at a lot of wasted potential,” said Bailey, who believed she could accomplish more than she did as governor. “I certainly don’t hate her but I look at a lot of wasted opportunities on her part.”

http://www.washingtonpost.com/national/ap-exclusive-former-palin-aide-pens-tell-all-paints-unflattering-picture-of-ex-ak-governor/2011/05/23/AFtVwc9G_story.html?hpid=z3

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« Reply #4067 on: May 23rd, 2011, 07:46am »

Scientific American

The Language of Love: Word Usage Predicts Romantic Attraction

By Melinda Wenner Moyer
Monday, May 23, 2011

What distinguishes a fling that ends in tears from long-term love? Past research suggests that the most successful couples share common interests, values and personality traits. Now new research published in Psychological Science proposes that the simplest words lovebirds use to speak to each other also make a difference—both in determining how attracted they are and how likely they are to stay together.

James Pennebaker and his colleagues at the University of Texas at Austin recorded 40 men and 40 women as they participated in a speed-dating exercise in which they talked to 12 strangers of the opposite sex for four minutes apiece. Later, the subjects rated each date based on how much they seemed to have in common and whether they wanted to see the person again. Pennebaker analyzed the participants’ conversations based on their use of pronouns and articles, such as “him,” “the,” “and,” “as” and “be.” These function words are used in most contexts and are processed rapidly and unconsciously. [For more on how Pennebaker uses function words to reveal personality and other traits, see “You Are What You Say,” by Jan Dönges; Scientific American Mind, July/August 2009.]

The pairs who used similar types of function words with similar frequencies, he found, were more likely to want to see each other again, regardless of how much they felt they had in common. In a follow-up study, Pennebaker compared the language used by 86 couples in committed relationships via writing samples from instant messages. He found that the more their function words matched, the more likely they were to be together three months later, irrespective of how happy they said they were in their relationships at the time.

The big question is whether individuals feel more aligned to others who already talk the way they do or whether they adapt their language to match that of individuals they really like. Pennebaker admits that both are possible, but he believes the latter is the driving force: language, he says, predicts relationship success because it reflects how well couples listen to each other. What is Pennebaker’s advice for living happily ever after with a loved one, then? “Pay closer attention to the other person,” he says.

http://www.scientificamerican.com/article.cfm?id=the-language-of-love

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« Reply #4068 on: May 23rd, 2011, 07:52am »

Guardian


Science Weekly podcast: Science fiction, and the age of astronomy

Author of The Sky's Dark Labyrinth Stuart Clark explores the early days of astronomy.
Plus, Ian Sample discusses his explosive interview with Stephen Hawking, and we review a new science fiction exhibition

Presented by Alok Jha and produced by Jo Wheeler, with Ian Sample

guardian.co.uk, Monday 23 May 2011 00.05 BST

Link after the jump
http://www.guardian.co.uk/science/audio/2011/may/23/science-fiction-cosmology-stephen-hawking

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« Reply #4069 on: May 23rd, 2011, 07:59am »

Geek Tyrant

Beautiful THOR concept art by Craig Shoji
by Tiberius
22 May 2011


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gallery after the jump
http://geektyrant.com/news/2011/5/22/beautiful-thor-concept-art-by-craig-shoji.html

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« Reply #4070 on: May 23rd, 2011, 3:20pm »

Crystal, love your new avatar.....


PS: I'm sending you a large package of razors, Fed-Ex next-day-air...... cheesy
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« Reply #4071 on: May 23rd, 2011, 5:41pm »

on May 23rd, 2011, 3:20pm, Swamprat wrote:
Crystal, love your new avatar.....


PS: I'm sending you a large package of razors, Fed-Ex next-day-air...... cheesy


Hey Swamprat,

Her name is Crystal and she is in the new movie "The Hangover II". She was quite the ham at the opening as you can see in the photos below. She even has her left hand on her dress exactly the way women do who walk the red carpet.


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Crystal is a little on the hairy side though...... grin

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« Reply #4072 on: May 24th, 2011, 07:18am »

Hello Klat,

She sure is a character, that monkey!

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« Reply #4073 on: May 24th, 2011, 07:25am »

Washington Post

Obama to visit Missouri Sunday; deadly tornadoes on the rise
By Brian Vastag and Ed O’Keefe
Published: May 23 | Updated: Tuesday, May 24, 3:41 AM


President Obama will visit Missouri this weekend to meet with victims of a devastating tornado that pulverized the town of Joplin on Sunday.

Speaking from London, where he is on the second leg of a six-day European trip, Obama said “all of America cares deeply” about the storm’s victims, and will “do absolutely everything we can to make sure that they recover.”

The extraordinary Joplin twister — the single deadliest tornado since officials began keeping records in 1950 — was a rare destructive phenomenon known as a “multi-vortex,” hiding two or more cyclones within the wider wind funnel.

The storm smashed the southwest Missouri city’s hospital Sunday, left nothing but splintered trees where neighborhoods once stood, and killed at least 116, with the death toll expected to rise. The storm injured an additional 500 and damaged or destroyed at least 2,000 buildings.

Added to the record 875 tornadoes that tore across the country in April, this latest disaster has experts asking why 2011 has spawned so many deadly storms. While researchers suss out the causes for this year’s record-breaking season, one thing is certain: Unusually big twisters are blasting through heavily populated areas.

“We have had more F4s and F5s than in past years,” said Jack Hayes, director of the National Weather Service, referring to the two most destructive categories of tornadoes. And instead of touching down in farms and fields, storms have hit cities such as Joplin and Tuscaloosa, Ala.

An emerging body of research points to a cyclical drop in temperatures in the Pacific Ocean as part of the answer. Called La Nina, the cycle lasts at least five months and repeats every three to five years. This year La Nina is pushing a strong North American jet stream east and south, altering prevailing winds. The jet stream’s river of cool air high in the atmosphere pulls warmer, more humid air from the ground upward, forming thunderstorm “supercells.”

Such a pattern drove the outbreak of more than 300 tornadoes that swept from Mississippi to Tennessee in late April, killing at least 365, experts say. But it’s too early for them to know whether La Nina alone accounts for what is shaping up to be a disastrously record-breaking tornado season, said tornado expert Grady Dixon of Mississippi State University. “La Nina is probably part of it,” he said. “But it’s not the only reason.”

Tornado experts predicted a devastating season this year, and many have begun studying whether global climate change is driving more frequent — and more intense — tornado-spawning thunderstorms. Such work is at an early stage, making it difficult to draw conclusions.

“This will be a rich topic of research in the coming years,” said Russell Schnei­der, director of the Storm Prediction Center in Norman, Okla., part of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration.

Warm air, moisture and specific wind patterns are the deadly ingredients that mix together to form tornadoes, and climate change influences at least one of them by increasing the amount of moisture the air can hold.

The climate-change factor?

“Climate change could be boosting one of those ingredients [for tornadoes], but it depends on how these ingredients come together,” said Robert Henson, a meteorologist at the University Corporation for Atmospheric Research.

The intense twister that whipped through Joplin on Sunday spun with wind speeds approaching 200 mph, ranking it as an F4 , just below the top of the tornado scale. The death toll on stood at 116 on Monday, according to the Associated Press, increasing to 481 the number killed in tornadoes this spring with five weeks until the traditional end of the season.

“We are now on pace for a record year for tornado fatalities” since national record-keeping began in 1950, Schnei­der said.

The April total of 875 U.S. tornadoes shattered the previous record of 267 set in April 1974. The first two weeks of May were relatively quiet until this weekend’s outbreak.

The extraordinary Joplin twister touched down just west of town at 5:41 p.m. and blasted a path of destruction about three-quarters of a mile wide and six miles long, ripping into a hospital, crushing cars and leaving nothing but splintered tree trunks where neighborhoods once stood, Reuters reported.

Super-destructive paths

Tornado experts said the huge funnel cloud hid within it two or more swirling cyclones, a phenomenon known as a “multi-vortex” or “wedge vortex” tornado. The centers of such intense wind funnels become unstable, wobble and spin out two to six smaller twisters from within. The short-lived but intense sub-twisters dance around the edge of the cloud, spinning up to 80 mph faster than the wider mother funnel, said Ernest Agee, a tornado researcher at Purdue University.

Such tornadoes often blaze a peculiar destructive path that flattens buildings on one edge of the funnel while nearby structures survive relatively unscathed.

In a video filmed by a survivor of the Joplin tornado and posted online, the blasting roar of the storm quiets for a few seconds before a second roar arrives — a telltale sign of a multi-vortex tornado, Agee said.

Mississippi State’s Dixon was following the violent “supercell” thunderstorm with eight students in a van just outside Joplin when they broke off the chase.

“We let it go,” said Dixon, an atmospheric scientist. “It was just getting too unsafe.”

The windows of their van open, Dixon and the students felt blasts of warm air as they followed the backside of the supercell — a sign of an unusually violent storm, Dixon said. “Normally it’s cold air on the backside. So we knew it was going to be a big storm. But when we left it . . . we didn’t think it was going to be catastrophic.”

Over the past decade, deeper understanding of how tornadoes form and move — coupled with advanced radar that can detect telltale swirls at the center of a storm — have lengthened tornado warning lead times broadcasted by the National Weather Service. On Sunday, the service announced a tornado warning for Joplin at 5:17 p.m., with the twister touching down 24 minutes later — a “phenomenal” lead time, Dixon said. The nationwide average is 14 minutes, according to the National Weather Service.

Despite this warning, the huge tornado is likely to set a record for the deadliest single tornado in U.S. history. The previous most deadly tornado on record killed 116 people in Flint, Mich., in 1953, an extraordinary year that also saw 114 die in a tornado in Waco, Tex., while 90 perished in a Worcester, Mass., twister that June.

Digging out

Sunday’s deadly storms come during a busy stretch for the Federal Emergency Management Agency, which is already responding to 11 other tornado-related disasters this year.

As of Monday, FEMA said it had paid out $79 million this year to more than 20,000 tornado survivors and an additional $3.3 million to cities and towns to begin rebuilding schools, libraries, firehouses and other public buildings destroyed by twisters. More requests to rebuild public infrastructure are expected in the coming weeks, a spokeswoman said.

FEMA said survivors of Sunday’s storms are already eligible to apply for aid, after two affected counties were added to a previous disaster declaration for Missouri.

Obama, who began his trip to Europe on Sunday night, reached Missouri Gov. Jay Nixon (D) by phone early Monday from Ireland. White House aides stressed that Obama is receiving “multiple updates” while meeting with European officials.

He ordered FEMA Administrator W. Craig Fugate, who was attending long-scheduled meetings and drills with state officials in Hawaii, to return to the mainland U.S. and head to Missouri.

FEMA Deputy Administrator Richard Serino toured the wreckage Monday ahead of Fugate, calling the storm’s aftermath “complete devastation.”

“The resiliency of the people here in Missouri and across the south is one thing that’s impressed me the most,” Serino said by phone as he stood just yards from the Joplin hospital hit directly by Sunday’s twisters.

“This is not new to either of us,” Serino said. “Our employees have been doing a great job, but it’s going to be a long season. Everyone — citizens, but also our employees — need to be prepared to respond to the next disaster, and that’s what we do.”

Then he added, “Hurricane season starts next week.”

Staff writer Juliet Eilperin contributed to this report.

http://www.washingtonpost.com/national/environment/researchers-see-a-pattern-in-rise-of-deadly-tornadoes/2011/05/23/AFinz49G_story.html?hpid=z2

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« Reply #4074 on: May 24th, 2011, 07:28am »

LA Times

U.S. Supreme Court orders massive inmate release to relieve California's crowded prisons.

Justice Kennedy cites inhumane conditions, while dissenters fear a crime rampage. Gov. Jerry Brown seeks tax hike to fund transfers to county jails as prison officials hope to avoid freeing anyone.

By David G. Savage and Patrick McGreevy, Los Angeles Times
May 24, 2011

The U.S. Supreme Court ruled that California must remove tens of thousands of inmates from its prison rolls in the next two years, and state officials vowed to comply, saying they hoped to do so without setting any criminals free.

Administration officials expressed confidence that their plan to shift low-level offenders to county jails and other facilities, already approved by lawmakers, would ease the persistent crowding that the high court said Monday had caused "needless suffering and death" and amounted to cruel and unusual punishment.

Gov. Jerry Brown's transfer plan "would solve quite a bit" of the overcrowding problem, though not as quickly as the court wants, said Matthew Cate, secretary of California's Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation. "Our goal is to not release inmates at all.''

But the governor's plan would cost hundreds of millions of dollars, to be paid for with tax hikes that could prove politically impossible to implement. And at present, Brown's plan is the only one on the table.

The governor issued a muted statement calling for enactment of his program and promising, "I will take all steps necessary to protect public safety."

The court gave the state two years to shrink the number of prisoners by more than 33,000 and two weeks to submit a schedule for achieving that goal. The state now has 143,335 inmates, according to Cate.

Monday's 5-4 ruling, upholding one of the largest such orders in the nation's history, came with vivid descriptions of indecent care from the majority and outraged warnings of a "grim roster of victims" from some in the minority.

In presenting the decision, Justice Anthony M. Kennedy, a Sacramento native, spoke from the bench about suicidal prisoners being held in "telephone booth-sized cages without toilets" and others, sick with cancer or in severe pain, who died before being seen by a doctor. As many as 200 prisoners may live in a gymnasium, and as many as 54 may share a single toilet, he said.

Kennedy, whose opinion was joined by his four liberal colleagues, said the state's prisons were built to hold 80,000 inmates, but were crowded with as many 156,000 a few years ago.

He cited a former Texas prison director who toured California lockups and described the conditions as "appalling," "inhumane" and unlike any he had seen "in more than 35 years of prison work."

The court's four conservatives accused their colleagues of "gambling with the safety of the people of California," in the words of Justice Samuel A. Alito Jr. "I fear that today's decision will lead to a grim roster of victims. I hope that I am wrong. In a few years, we will see," he said.

Justice Antonin Scalia, delivering his own dissent in the courtroom, said the majority had affirmed "what is perhaps the most radical injunction issued by a court in our nation's history." He added, "terrible things are sure to happen as a consequence of this outrageous order." Chief Justice John G. Roberts Jr. and Justice Clarence Thomas also dissented.

Law enforcement officials in California concurred and said that trying to squeeze more inmates into already overcrowded county systems would force some early releases.

"Citizens will pay a real price as crime victims, as thousands of convicted felons will be on the streets with minimal supervision," Los Angeles County Dist. Atty. Steve Cooley said in a statement. "Many of these 'early release' prisoners will commit crimes which would never have occurred had they remained in custody."

"It's an undue burden …to deal with the state's problems,'' said Jerry Gutierrez, chief deputy of the Riverside County Sheriff's Department.

Republican lawmakers said they would continue to fight the governor's plan and its reliance on tax increases. Democrats "are looking for any excuse they can to try to have more taxes," said the leader of the state Senate's GOP minority, Bob Dutton of Rancho Cucamonga.

Dutton said state officials should instead fast-track construction of new prisons and pressure the federal government to take custody of thousands of illegal immigrant felons housed in the state system.

Administration officials said their plan would keep the public safe by moving offenders into county lockups, drug treatment programs and other types of criminal supervision. But Cate said the Brown administration "cannot act alone" and conceded that release of some prisoners remains a possibility.

He urged the Legislature to immediately fund Brown's $302-million plan, which would shift 32,500 inmates to county jurisdiction by mid-2013. Among those identified for the program are tens of thousands of parole violators sent to costly state prisons every year to serve 90 days or less.

Monday's ruling arose from a pair of prison class-action lawsuits, one going back 20 years, which accused the state of failing to provide decent care for prisoners who were mentally ill or in need of medical care. The two suits were combined by a panel of three judges, all of whom were veterans with a liberal reputation.

U.S. District Judges Thelton Henderson from San Francisco and Lawrence Karlton from Sacramento were joined by 9th Circuit Judge Stephen Reinhardt from Los Angeles. Since overcrowding was the "primary cause" of the substandard care meted out to inmates, they ordered the state to reduce its prison population by 38,000 to 46,000 persons.

Then-Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger and then-Atty. Gen. Brown appealed, believing a more conservative Supreme Court would be wary of telling a state how to run its prisons.

Since the earlier court order, the state has transferred about 9,000 state inmates to county jails. According to recent figures, the total prison population is about 33,000 more than the limit of 110,000 set by the three-judge panel. Kennedy said state officials can decide how to reduce the number of inmates.

The American Civil Liberties Union said the court "has done the right thing" by addressing the "egregious and extreme overcrowding in California's prisons."

Donald Specter, the lawyer for the nonprofit Prison Law Office who represented the inmates, said "this landmark decision will not only help prevent prisoners from dying of malpractice and neglect, but it will make the prisons safer for the staff, improve public safety and save the taxpayers billions of dollars."

Others agreed with the dissenters. "What is the message for law-abiding people in California? Buy a gun. Get a dog. Put in an alarm system. Even seriously consider bars on the windows," said Kent Scheidegger of the Criminal Justice Legal Foundation in Sacramento, writing on his "Crime & Consequences" blog.

Meanwhile, the court took no action Monday on another California case, a challenge to the state's policy of granting in-state tuition at its colleges and universities to students who are illegal immigrants and have graduated from its high schools.

The justices said they would consider the appeal in a later private conference.


http://www.latimes.com/news/local/la-me-court-prisons-20110524,0,2973297.story

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« Reply #4075 on: May 24th, 2011, 07:31am »

Telegraph

The Nazis tried to train dogs to talk, read and spell to help them win World War II, it has been revealed.

9:51AM BST 24 May 2011

The Germans viewed canines as being almost as intelligent as humans and attempted to build an army of fearsome 'speaking' dogs, extraordinary new research shows.

Hitler hoped the clever creatures would learn to communicate with their SS masters - and he even had a special dog school set up to teach them to talk.

The incredible findings show Nazi officials recruited so-called educated dogs from all over Germany and trained them to speak and tap out signals using their paws.

One mutt was said to have uttered the words 'Mein Fuhrer' when asked who Adolf Hitler was.

Another 'spoke' by tapping letters of the alphabet with his paws and was said to have speculated about religion and learnt poetry.

The Germans hoped to use the animals for the war effort, such as getting them to work alongside the SS and guard concentration camps to free up officers.

The bizarre 'Wooffan SS' experiment has come to light after years of painstaking research by academic Dr Jan Bondeson into unique and amazing dogs in history.

Dr Bonderson, from Cardiff University, visited Berlin to scour obscure periodicals to build up a bizarre - but true - account of Nazi ideas.

Hitler was a well-known dog lover and had two German Shepherds, called Blondi and Bella. He famously killed Blondi moments before committing suicide in his bunker in 1945.

The evil dictator was said to have been keen to use dogs for the war effort and supported the dog school which was called the Tier-Sprechschule ASRA.

The school, based in Leutenburg near Hannover and led by headmistress Margarethe Schmitt, was set up in the 1930s and continued throughout the war years.

It was reported to have had some success, with dogs tapping out words with their paws.

Some of them were able to imitate the human voice and one, when asked who Adolf Hitler was, is said to have replied 'Mein Fuhrer'.

The forerunner of them all was Rolf, an Airedale terrier who 'spoke' through tapping his paw against a board, each letter of the alphabet being represented by a certain number of taps.

He was said to have speculated about religion, learnt foreign languages, wrote poetry and asked a visiting noblewoman 'could you wag your tail?'

The patriotic German dog even expressed a wish to join the army, because he disliked the French.

Another dog, a Dachschund named Kurwenal, even received a visit from a troop of 28 uniformed youths from the Nazi animalprotection organisation on his birthday.

He was said to speak using a different number of barks for each letter, and told his biographer he would be voting for Hindenburg.

Another dog, a German pointer named Don, went one step further - imitating a human voice to bark "Hungry! Give me cakes", in German.

The incredible story of Germany's educated dogs has now been revealed in full by Dr Bondeson, a senior lecturer at Cardiff University in his book "Amazing Dogs: A Cabinet of Canine Curiosities."

He said: "It is absolutely extraordinary stuff.

"In the 1920s, Germany had numerous 'new animal psychologists' who believed dogs were nearly as intelligent as humans, and capable of abstract thinking and communication.

"When the Nazi party took over, one might have thought they would be building concentration camps to lock these fanatics up, but instead they were actually very interested in their ideas.

"Part of the Nazi philosophy was that there was a strong bond between humans and nature - they believed a good Nazi should be an animal friend.

"Indeed, when they started interning Jews, the newspapers were flooded with outraged letters from Germans wondering what had happened to the pets they left behind.

"Hitler himself was praised for his attitude to animals and Goering was a forerunner of animal protection. They seemed to think nothing of human rights, but lots about animal rights.

"There were some very strange experiments going on in wartime Germany, with regard to dog-human communication.

"Nazi animal psychologists worked with the educated dogs, and there was even a school to teach animals to communicate, with dogs supplied by the office of the Reichsführer-SS.

"My guess would be that they were intended to work with the SS or be used as guard dogs in concentration camps.

"Hitler was himself interested in the prospect of using educated dogs in the war effort, and he advised representatives of the German army to study their usefulness in the field.

"Still, it appears to have been very early days - there is no evidence it ever actually came to fruition and that the SS were walking around with talking dogs.

"It is really remarkable and fascinating insight into a hitherto unknown facet of Nazi Germany."

Dr Bondeson's book, Amazing Dogs: A Cabinet of Canine Curiosities, also includes chapters on acting dogs, travelling dogs, turnspit dogs, holy dogs and exceptionally faithful dogs.

It has been published by Amberley Publishing in Britain and the Cornell University Press in the US and costs 20 pounds.


http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/newstopics/howaboutthat/8532573/Nazis-tried-to-train-dogs-to-talk-read-and-spell-to-win-WW2.html

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« Reply #4076 on: May 24th, 2011, 07:38am »

Wired Danger Room

Cartwright, Geeks’ Best Pal, Is Out of Race for Top General
By Noah Shachtman
May 23, 2011 | 5:12 pm
Categories: Paper Pushers, Beltway Bandits, Politicians


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As recently as last month, Gen. James “Hoss” Cartwright was known in Washington as “Obama’s favorite general,” a leading candidate to become the country’s top military officer, and one of the biggest tech fiends ever to pin four stars to his shoulders. Now, Cartwright has been definitively ruled out as the next chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, Pentagon sources tell Danger Room — the apparent victim of a nasty Beltway whisper campaign.

It means that the military leadership will be losing one of its more original thinkers, just as the Pentagon reconsiders, well, everything: the Afghanistan war, a growing rivalry with China, a budget that could get cut by $400 billion or more.

“General Cartwright is unique. He has a quick, intuitive grasp of technologies and their military applications. And he has an equally impressive ability to clearly explain them to his counterparts in the services,” former Darpa director Tony Tether e-mails Danger Room. “All four-stars I have met have been exceptional people, for many different reasons. But only Cartwright has this particular combination.”

Gen. Martin Dempsey — sworn in just last month as chief of staff of the Army — is now considered the top contender for the chairmanship. An announcement is expected next week, when President Obama returns from his European trip. No decision is final, Pentagon sources say. But Cartwright is definitely out.

Cartwright, a former F/A-18 pilot and fellow at MIT, emerged on the national scene as the head of U.S. Strategic Command, which oversees America’s nuclear forces. Cartwright re-imagined the Command’s “global strike” mission as something much bigger than nukes.

He expanded the notion to include commandos, conventionally armed missiles, and (especially) electronic attacks. As the military wrestled with how to break up and infiltrate insurgent communications networks in Iraq and Afghanistan, Cartwright became an influential champion.

In 2005, when many in the Defense Department were running away from social media, Cartwright started a blog, and told his troops at StratCom to do the same. Two years later, he was interviewed wearing a “100 blogs” patch on his flight suit.

When the Pentagon needed to shoot a dying satellite out the sky in 2008, Cartwright rode herd over the operation. When Defense Secretary Robert Gates wanted to radically overhaul the Pentagon’s arsenal, Cartwright was one of a small handful of advisers that cooked up the plan to make it happen.

When the military scratched its collective head over how to handle network threats, Cartwright was instrumental in setting up U.S. Cyber Command. By 2009, he was calling old-school missile defense “as passé as e-mail.”

The comfort with technology helped Cartwright rise to the post of vice chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff — the nation’s No. 2 military officer. In the job, he helped craft a compromise on the U.S. troop “surge” in Afghanistan, despite his lack of combat experience. And he continued his patronage of Darpa, the military’s way-out research arm, and pushed agency projects in hypersonics, automated language translation, and battlefield information-sharing.

Sometimes, Cartwright seemed to be too technophilic for his own good. The physics of his push for conventional “global strike” missiles may have worked. But the geopolitics were terrible, counting on Russia and China to take America’s world that the missiles were neither nuclear nor aimed at them.

But Cartwright’s ascent doesn’t seem to have been stopped by his occasional screwball, or even by his lack of war-zone experience. In Washington, rumors persisted that Cartwright had romantic relationships with women who were not his wife. Nobody could prove those allegations. In fact, a Pentagon inspector-general report cleared him of the charge that he had an affair with a female aide.

But that didn’t stop the innuendo from continuing to ooze. During my 24-hour trip to Washington last week, three separate people brought up Cartwright’s “zipper problem,” noted his separation from his wife, and connected him to all sorts of leading women in the military establishment. None of these people had first-, second- or even third-hand knowledge of these alleged dalliances.

So why the whisper campaign? At the risk of being a rumormonger myself, I’d note — as Spencer Ackerman did in this blog last February, the last time the Cartwright gossip crested — that Cartwright made many in the military establishment uncomfortable.

He lobbied to give the Vice Chairman’s office unparalleled power over decisions about which weapons the Pentagon should buy. He worked with Vice President Biden to come up with alternatives to the surge in Afghanistan, even when the buildup was accepted Pentagon wisdom.

He pushed to kill the F-22 Raptor and scrap new testing for the country’s nukes. In Air Force circles, he’s blamed for paring back plans for a new, strategic bomber fleet.

Cartwright ordered his staff not to lobby on his behalf for the Chairmanship. But one of his foes, it now appears, waged an entirely different sort of campaign.

http://www.wired.com/dangerroom/2011/05/cartwright-geeks-best-pal-is-out-of-race-for-top-general/

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« Reply #4077 on: May 24th, 2011, 07:42am »

Science Daily

Particle Trap Paves Way for Personalized Medicine
ScienceDaily (May 23, 2011)

— Sequencing DNA base pairs -- the individual molecules that make up DNA -- is key for medical researchers working toward personalized medicine. Being able to isolate, study and sequence these DNA molecules would allow scientists to tailor diagnostic testing, therapies and treatments based on each patient's individual genetic makeup.


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Scientists were able to trap a single particle between four microelectrodes,
paving the way for a faster and cheaper way to sequence DNA.
(Credit: Weihua Guan and Mark Reed/Yale University)



But being able to isolate individual molecules like DNA base pairs, which are just two nanometers across -- or about 1/50,000th the diameter of a human hair -- is incredibly expensive and difficult to control. In addition, devising a way to trap DNA molecules in their natural aqueous environment further complicates things. Scientists have spent the past decade struggling to isolate and trap individual DNA molecules in an aqueous solution by trying to thread it through a tiny hole the size of DNA, called a "nanopore," which is exceedingly difficult to make and control.

Now a team led by Yale University researchers has proven that isolating individual charged particles, like DNA molecules, is indeed possible using a method called "Paul trapping," which uses oscillating electric fields to confine the particles to a space only nanometers in size. (The technique is named for Wolfgang Paul, who won the Nobel Prize for the discovery.) Until now, scientists have only been able to use Paul traps for particles in a vacuum, but the Yale team was able to confine a charged test particle -- in this case, a polystyrene bead -- to an accuracy of just 10 nanometers in aqueous solutions between quadruple microelectrodes that supplied the electric field.

Their device can be contained on a single chip and is simple and inexpensive to manufacture. "The idea would be that doctors could take a tiny drop of blood from patients and be able to run diagnostic tests on it right there in their office, instead of sending it away to a lab where testing can take days and is expensive," said Weihua Guan, a Yale engineering graduate student who led the project.

In addition to diagnostics, this "lab-on-a-chip" would have a wide range of applications, Guan said, such as being able to analyze how individual cells respond to different stimulation. While there are several other techniques for cell-manipulation available now, such as optical tweezers, the Yale team's approach actually works better as the size of the targets gets smaller, contrary to other approaches.

The team, whose findings appear in the May 23 Early Edition of the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, used charged polystyrene beads rather than actual DNA molecules, along with a two-dimensional trap to prove that the technique worked. Next, they will work toward creating a 3-D trap using DNA molecules, which, at two nanometers, are even smaller than the test beads. They hope to have a working, 3-D trap using DNA molecules in the next year or two. The project is funded by a National Institutes of Health program that aims to sequence a patient's entire genome for less than $1,000.

"This is the future of personalized medicine," Guan said.

The project was directed by Mark Reed (Yale University) and Predrag Krstic (Oak Ridge National Laboratory). Other authors of the paper include Sony Joseph and Jae Hyun Park (Oak Ridge National Laboratory).

http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2011/05/110523152340.htm

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« Reply #4078 on: May 24th, 2011, 12:30pm »

Galactic 'Fountain of Youth' Flows in Hubble Photo

Published May 24, 2011
| Space.com

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This NASA/ESA Hubble Space Telescope image shows the edge-on profile of the slender spiral galaxy NGC 5775, which is surrounded by a halo of gas that astronomers suspect is kicked up by star explosions like a galaxy-size fountain.


A new photo from the Hubble Space Telescope has revealed what scientists have called a veritable galactic "fountain of youth".

The new Hubble image shows the galaxy NGC 5775, which is located about 85 million light-years from Earth in a group of galaxies called the Virgo Cluster. NGC 5775 is a spiral galaxy that is tilted away from Earth in such a way that only its edge is visible.

This edge-on position of the galaxy has allowed astronomers to spot a vast halo of hot gas around NGC 5775, but how the material actually got there is unclear, researchers said.

"Some astronomers think that hot gas from the disc is driven into the halo by supernova explosions, which is then returned to the disc as it cools — like a massive galactic fountain," according to a Hubble telescope image description.

Because of the phenomenon, Hubble researchers dubbed it a "galactic fountain of youth" when they released the image this month.

There is also another oddity about the galaxy NGC 5775 that has attracted attention from astronomers: a bridge of hydrogen gas linking the galaxy with a galactic neighbor called NGC 5774.

The two spiral galaxies are on a collision course and are in the early stages of merging, according to Hubble scientists. However, neither object has yet sprouted a tidal tail of gas and stars — created by intense gravitational disruptions — that typically precedes galaxy mergers.

The Hubble Space Telescope is a joint project by NASA and the European Space Agency.

Read more: http://www.foxnews.com/scitech/2011/05/24/galactic-fountain-youth-flows-hubble-photo/#ixzz1NHzQoy00

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« Reply #4079 on: May 24th, 2011, 4:45pm »

Hey Swamprat,

Thanks for that article.

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