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 veryhotthread  Author  Topic: Stuff & Nonsense  (Read 151657 times)
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« Reply #4080 on: May 24th, 2011, 5:10pm »

Physorg.com

New deep space vehicle to be based on Orion: NASA
May 24, 2011


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NASA's full-size Orion exploration test vehicle is displayed in 2009 near the rocket garden at Kennedy Space Center's visitor center in Florida.


NASA said Tuesday that a new spacecraft to ferry humans into deep space will be based on designs for the Orion crew exploration vehicle and built by Lockheed Martin.

http://www.physorg.com/news/2011-05-deep-space-vehicle-based-orion.html

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« Reply #4081 on: May 25th, 2011, 07:29am »

Washington Post

Violent thunderstorms leave 13 dead in Oklahoma, Arkansas, Kansas, days after Joplin tornado

By Associated Press
Updated: Wednesday, May 25, 4:47 AM

EL RENO, Okla. — Violent storms that swept through a chunk of the central U.S. killed at least 13 people in three states, while toppling trees, crushing cars and ripping apart a rural Arkansas fire station.

The high-powered storms arrived Tuesday night and early Wednesday, just days after a massive tornado tore up the southwest Missouri city of Joplin and killed 122 people. The latest storms killed eight people in Oklahoma, two in Kansas and three more in Arkansas, before petering out.

Most of the Oklahoma fatalities occurred in the Oklahoma City metropolitan area. Cherokee Ballard, a spokeswoman for the Oklahoma Medical Examiner’s office, said early Wednesday that the storms killed five people in Canadian County, two in Logan County and one in Grady County.

Ballard said a child was among those killed, but she had no other details.

At least three people died as the storms bombarded Arkansas’ Franklin and Johnson counties.

Department of Emergency Management spokesman Tommy Jackson said one person died after a tornado raked across the tiny western Arkansas community of Denning early Wednesday, and another died in an area called Bethlehem, in Johnson County.

Franklin County’s chief deputy sheriff, Deputy Devin Bramlett, said early Wednesday that one person also died in the community of Etna.

Several people were also injured in Franklin and Johnson counties. A rural fire station in Franklin County was left without a roof as emergency workers rushed to the wounded. Downed trees and power lines tossed across roadways also slowed search-and-rescue crews’ efforts.

In Kansas, police said two people died when high winds threw a tree into their van around 6 p.m. near the small town of St. John, about 100 miles west of Wichita. The highway was shut down because of storm damage.

http://www.washingtonpost.com/national/violent-thunderstorms-leave-8-dead-in-oklahoma-arkansas-kansas-days-after-joplin-tornado/2011/05/25/AGGth5AH_story.html?hpid=z3

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« Reply #4082 on: May 25th, 2011, 07:32am »

Defense News

USMC Chief Looks to Offset China in Pacific Region

By Michael Hoffman
Published: 25 May 2011 05:35

U.S. Marine Corps Commandant Gen. Jim Amos wants to send more of his Marines to the Pacific to offset China's expanding influence in the region.

Amos said America's military commitments in Iraq and Afghanistan have kept more U.S. forces from working with militaries in the southeast and southwest Pacific allowing a growing Chinese military to further establish itself.

"We'd liked to be more engaged in the Pacific, in the southwest Pacific, and that area of the world than we are. Our ability to be able to have that kind of forward presence in that part of the world is challenged right now because we are occupied in another section of the world," Amos said at a May 24 dinner hosted by the Center for New American Security, a Washington think tank.

The head of the Marine Corps said he didn't expect a military conflict with China anytime soon, but he said China's growing reach should concern U.S. leaders. Amos' comments come a week after Chinese People's Liberation Army Chief of Staff Gen. Chen Bingde visited the U.S. as a guest of the U.S. Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Adm. Mike Mullen.

"I think we need to be there. I don't think we're there to anywhere we need to be. I think our nation understands that. We'd like to turn that around," Amos said.

In a series of rare public speeches for the Chinese leader whose position is roughly equivalent to the U.S. Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, said a "gaping gap" still remains between the two respective countries' militaries.

Amos is just the latest U.S. military leader to speak about his service's plans following the Afghanistan drawdown. U.S. Army leaders have also made their case to deploy Reserve and National Guard units to places such as Africa and South America on what are called "theatre security cooperation" missions to train foreign militaries.

The discussions for future service deployments come as military and congressional leaders debate future cuts to the defense budget. Amos said his service is already preparing to cut its manning down from 202,000 to 186,800 Marines. The U.S. military as a whole is already planning to reduce its footprint in Europe.

The last "five or six" years of spending are over, he said. Military leaders in each service will have to look for efficiencies and reduce spending.

"The Marine Corps will only ask for what it needs. We're done asking for what we want," Amos said he told Congress.

That means cutting programs that go over budget as the Marine Corps decides what Amos said "is good enough" for a service trying to both modernize and reset from the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. Defense Secretary Robert Gates already cancelled the Corps' Expeditionary Fighting Vehicle program in January.

"There are some things that we absolutely have to do. There are some things that I think we can postpone and then there are other things that we maybe start to recapitalize in four or five years," Amos said.

The Marine Corps will not automatically expand the fleets of vehicles that performed well in Iraq or Afghanistan, either.

Amos used the example of the Mine Resistant Ambush Protected vehicle better known as the MRAP. While it may have saved countless Marines in Iraq, its weight is a burden. He said the Corps will put a premium on mobility as it looks to field a new combat vehicle.

Amos said he expects what he described as a return to the Corps' "frugal roots" to last throughout his term as commandant and beyond.

"This traditional dip is typically eight to 10 years … so I think this will be an issue for the 36th commandant and it's going to be an issue for the 37th commandant when we'll begin to realize some growth and some modernization of significant proportions," he said.

http://www.defensenews.com/story.php?i=6616940&c=AME&s=TOP

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« Reply #4083 on: May 25th, 2011, 07:37am »

Telegraph

7:00AM BST 25 May 2011

A New Zealand truck driver has said he blew up like a balloon when he fell onto the fitting of a compressed air hose that pierced his buttock and forced highly pressurised air into his body.

Steven McCormack was standing on his truck's foot plate when he slipped and fell, breaking a compressed air hose off an air reservoir that powered the truck's brakes.

He fell hard onto the brass fitting, which pierced his left buttock and started pumping air into his body.

"I felt the air rush into my body and I felt like it was going to explode from my foot," he told local media from his hospital bed in the town of Whakatane, on North Island's east coast.

"I was blowing up like a football," he said. "I had no choice but just to lay there, blowing up like a balloon."

Mr McCormack's workmates heard his screams and ran to him, quickly releasing a safety valve to stop the air flow, said Robbie Petersen, co-owner of the trucking company.

He was rushed to the hospital with terrible swelling and fluid in one lung. Doctors said the air had separated fat from muscle in McCormack's body, but had not entered his bloodstream.

Mr McCormack, 48, said his skin felt "like a pork roast" - crackling on the outside but soft underneath.

A hospital spokesman confirmed details of the freak accident, which she said could have killed Mr McCormack.

"It's fair to say he's lucky to be alive, it was a potentially life-threatening situation."

http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/newstopics/howaboutthat/8534804/New-Zealand-man-blown-up-like-a-balloon-by-compressed-air.html

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« Reply #4084 on: May 25th, 2011, 07:43am »

Wired Science

Top 10 New Species Discovered in 2010
By Betsy Mason
May 24, 2011 | 3:47 pm
Categories: Animals, Biology


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Louisiana Pancake Batfish
Image: Prosanta Chakrabarty/Louisiana State University



Every year, thousands of new species are discovered, and among them are always a few really weird, beautiful or funny plants and animals that intrigue scientists and the public alike.

Every year, the International Institute for Species Exploration at Arizona State University along with an international committee of taxonomists — scientists who classify and describe new species — choose their 10 favorites. This year's list includes glowing mushrooms, jumping cockroaches, six-foot-long lizards and bacteria that are slowly eating the Titanic.

Above:

Louisiana Pancake Batfish
Scientifc Name: Halieutichthys intermedius

How it made the Top 10: This species was discovered just before the Gulf of Mexico oil spill in 2010 and its entire known distribution is in the region of the spill. It is also a remarkably hideous -- in a good way -- animal. It is flat like a pancake, spikey, hops on its fins and has huge bulging eyes. Its discovery and precarious existence due to the oil spill was the lead article on CNN's website and a number of other outlets.

gallery after the jump
http://www.wired.com/wiredscience/2011/05/2010-species-gallery/

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« Reply #4085 on: May 25th, 2011, 07:47am »

Hollywood Reporter

Kathryn Bigelow's Navy Seal Team 6 Film to Hit Theaters in 2012
8:14 PM 5/24/2011
by Borys Kit

Columbia has snagged U.S. rights to Bigelow and Mark Boal's untitled film, which will incorporate Osama bin Laden's death in the script.

Columbia Pictures has picked up the U.S. distribution rights to Kathryn Bigelow and Mark Boal’s project regarding Navy Seal Team 6 and its hunt for Osama Bin Laden.

The duo behind the Oscar-winning thriller The Hurt Locker have been working on the project for some time and were eyeing a summer start when real life events -- Bin Laden’s killing by the black ops team -- overtook the project. Boal is incorporating the latest developments into the script.

Boal and Bigelow will produce the project, along with Megan Ellison of Annapurna Pictures, which is financing. Greg Shapiro, who worked on Hurt Locker, is exec producing.

Production is slated to begin in the late summer. The film will be released in the U.S. in the fourth quarter of 2012, according to the studio.

The pickup marks another timely and elevated project for Amy Pascal and Columbia's slate. After the success of The Social Network, they have proven themselves unafraid to try on dramas if the right creative people are involved.

Annapurna, meanwhile, has also been ratcheting up its slate, which has become more and more high-profile in recent months.

CAA repped Bigelow and Boal in the deal.

http://www.hollywoodreporter.com/news/kathryn-bigelows-navy-seal-team-191721

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« Reply #4086 on: May 25th, 2011, 1:57pm »

Astronomers Create Most Complete 3-D Map of Universe Ever

By Clara Moskowitz
Published May 25, 2011
| Space.com

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T.H. Jarrett (IPAC/SSC)
The 2MASS Redshift Survey (2MRS) has catalogued more than 43,000 galaxies within 380 million light-years from Earth (z<0.09).


In this projection, the plane of the Milky Way runs horizontally across the center of the image. 2MRS is notable for extending closer to the Galactic plane than previous surveys — a region that's generally obscured by dust.

Astronomers have created the most complete 3-D map of our local universe, revealing new details about our place in the cosmos. The map shows all visible structures out to about 380 million light-years, which includes about 45,000 of our neighboring galaxies (the diameter of the Milky Way is about 100,000 light-years across). See 3-D map here: http://www.space.com/11781-3d-map-universe-photo-revealed.html

"I think it speaks to our desire to understand our place in the universe," said Karen Masters of the University of Portsmouth in England, during a press conference today. "I wouldn’t be happy if we didn't have a complete map of the Earth. It's nice to have a complete map of where we live."

"This covers 95 percent of the sky," Masters said. "In the infrared, we're less affected by the gunk in the milky way so we're able to see down closer to the plane of the galaxy." Masters presented the new map here today at the 218th meeting of the American Astronomical Society.

The 3-D aspect of the map comes from the fact that researchers measured the cosmic objects' redshift, which denotes how much its light has been shifted toward the red end of the color spectrum. This happens because of the so-called Doppler effect, which causes the wavelength of light to be stretched when the light's source is moving away from us.

Copyright © 2010 Space.com. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.


Read more: http://www.foxnews.com/scitech/2011/05/25/astronomers-create-complete-3d-map-universe/#ixzz1NOEWqbmf
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« Reply #4087 on: May 25th, 2011, 2:25pm »

on May 24th, 2011, 12:30pm, Swamprat wrote:
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Wow! Fascinating pic. shocked
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« Reply #4088 on: May 25th, 2011, 9:28pm »





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« Reply #4089 on: May 26th, 2011, 07:26am »

Washington Post

G-8 leaders look to fund Arab democracy movements and choose new IMF chief

By Associated Press, Published: May 25 | Updated: Thursday, May 26, 3:31 AM

DEAUVILLE, France — Leaders of the world’s rich democracies meeting Thursday are looking at tumult in the Arab world with both hope and fear.

They hope the new democracies in Egypt and Tunisia flourish and their economies rebound. And they fear that the war in Libya and uprisings in Syria, Yemen and Bahrain may entrench autocrats instead of defeating them.

At a two-day summit in this moneyed Normandy resort, President Barack Obama and the other leaders of the Group of Eight industrialized nations will seek to marshal their combined economic might behind the grass-roots democracy movements that have swept the Arab world but have also driven away tourists and investors.

They’ll also be talking about whether France’s sharp and respected finance minister should take over the leadership of the International Monetary Fund. Europe wants Christine Lagarde to take over from Dominique Strauss-Kahn, who is facing sexual assault charges in New York — but the United States, Canada and China are cautioning that developing countries should get a chance at the job, too.

German Chancellor Angela Merkel is calling for the G-8 to take effective measures to bolster emerging Arab democracy and to take a leading role in improving global nuclear safety. Merkel told the German parliament Thursday leaders must help ensure that “the initial political progress is not endangered by economic instability.”

Concern about the euro currency and European debt woes will overshadow the talks among President Barack Obama, G-8 host French President Nicolas Sarkozy and the leaders of Britain, Germany, Japan, Russia, Canada and Italy in this cordoned-off beach town.

This year the leaders of Egypt, Tunisia and the Arab League will join the summit discussions. Several African leaders will also join for a special meeting Friday.

Thursday’s talks start out looking at nuclear safety, with Japanese Prime Minister Naoto Kan scheduled to provide leaders with an update on the continuing crisis at the Fukushima Dai-ichi nuclear power plant.

Differences over online privacy and regulation may surface at a special session Thursday on the future of the Internet economy. Mark Zuckerberg of Facebook, Eric Schmidt of Google and other Internet executives took part in two days of debates in Paris this week that resulted in recommendations for the Deauville summit.

Egypt and Tunisia, where popular revolts this year overthrew authoritarian regimes, want to show that they are still sound investment destinations — even though the future shape and policies of their governments remains unclear.

Sarkozy wants this to be the founding moment of a partnership between the G-8 and Arab countries.

That partnership may be strained, however, by tensions over how to handle Libya. NATO appears to have no exit strategy fromn the international air campaign launched two months ago to shore up Libyan rebel forces, and efforts to oust leader Moammar Gadhafi remain elusive.

Violence in Syria is likely to come up at the G-8 talks as well. Key European nations circulated a draft U.N. resolution Wednesday that would condemn Syria for its crackdown on peaceful protesters, U.N. diplomats said. The G-8 includes all the permanent Security Council members except China.

U.S. officials say it’s too soon to reach a deal on dollar amounts for assistance to the Arab world.

The heads of the World Bank and the United Nations will also be present, and Strauss-Kahn’s temporary replacement at the IMF, John Lipsky.

Germany and France are suggesting that the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development, with its experience helping underpin the transition from communism in eastern Europe, could be repurposed to help the Arab world.

A top Sarkozy official said the aid and investment to be promised to the Arab nations would resemble that which the then G-7 offered to Eastern and Central European nations after the collapse of communism in 1989. Post-Soviet Russia later joined the group, making it the G-8.

The G-8 has since lost some of its relevance with the growing clout of the Group of 20, which includes emerging economic giants such as China and India.

“A lot of the key issues are going to be in the G20, so we’ll see how successful the G8 leaders are in showing that the old Western group is still relevant,” said David Shorr of the Stanley Foundation.

Police and gendarmes fill Deauville and surrounding towns and highways. Local ports, train stations and the airport are shut from Wednesday to Friday, and a no-fly zone enforced over the town.

Anti-capitalist protesters and radical movements have sought to call the leaders’ attention to the plight of workers and the world’s poor, but are not organizing big demonstrations close to the summit because of the heavy security.

http://www.washingtonpost.com/world/g-8-leaders-to-put-focus-on-entrenching-democratic-movements-in-arab-nations/2011/05/25/AG97JFBH_story.html?hpid=z2

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« Reply #4090 on: May 26th, 2011, 07:35am »

LA Times

Alan Kimble Fahey's 20,000-square-foot labyrinth of buildings, called Phonehenge West, in Acton is a 30-year labor of love.
But county code enforcement officials want him to tear it down, so he's going to trial.

By Ann M. Simmons, Los Angeles Times
May 26, 2011, 2:22 a.m.


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Alan Kimble Fahey wants to turn part of Phonehenge West, named for his career as a phone service technician, into a museum, and another into a library and gift shop.
He also has plans for a crafts workshop for disabled children. But Los Angeles County wants it torn down for code violations.
(Genaro Molina / Los Angeles Times)



Bargain land and wide-open spaces drew Alan Kimble Fahey to Acton. A modest ranch house on a desert lot offered the outpost he sought.

But then Fahey wanted to expand. So he began to build.

And build. And build.

Fahey built a barn and moved in. He traded his motorcycle for a trailer and painted it to look like a rail car. He bartered other possessions for a dump-truck load of rocks and a 60-foot workers' lift. Then he sank 108 utility poles a dozen feet into the hard-packed Antelope Valley ground. Reinforced steel beams came next. A giant tower began creeping skyward. A wing sprouted off the tower. Then another.

Almost three decades later, Fahey, 59, a retired phone service technician, was still working on what is now a sprawling, 20,000-square-foot labyrinth of interconnected buildings he calls "Phonehenge West," stopping only when he was forced to. (The site is not to be confused with Phonehenge, a configuration at a theme park near Myrtle Beach, S.C., featuring England's famed red telephone booths.)

His structure, sitting on 1.7 acres, is set back from the street and slightly obscured by junipers and a eucalyptus. A dirt road leads in; Fahey uses a motorized cart to get around between his buildings. His closest neighbor is about 100 feet away.

Fahey's creation is composed of a hodgepodge of reddish buildings. The tower, now 70 feet high, juts above pepper trees and is adorned with Italian stained-glass windows. A winding, French-inspired curved metal stairway meanders from the elevated barn to the ground. Bridges and ramps connect the buildings.

People come from all over to take pictures. Glamour magazine recently used the tower as the setting for one of its fashion spreads. Fahey hopes that Phonehenge West might one day be unearthed by archeologists, just like the English Stonehenge.

But Stonehenge's creators presumably didn't have to worry about building codes.

Los Angeles County code enforcers are now demanding that Fahey's Phonehenge be torn down because of an array of building and fire code violations. The district attorney has charged Fahey with 14 criminal misdemeanor counts of maintenance of un-permitted properties and unlawful use of land, offenses that could carry a sentence of up to seven years in prison. Fahey has refused to settle the case, and a jury trial is set to begin Thursday in Lancaster.

The battle over Phonehenge West has sparked strong feelings in the Antelope Valley. The high desert is vast and desolate, offering large parched lots at relatively reasonable prices. Many residents view it as a kind of modern frontier. They moved to the area to escape the confines of urban living, and they balk at what they consider authoritarian restrictions and regulations.

Truckers have been cited for keeping big rigs in their yards. Other residents have faced fines for storing cargo containers on their properties or keeping too much livestock. Local online forums and blogs are ablaze with complaints that code enforcers are overly aggressive.

But perhaps none of the Antelope Valley's many code violations is as spectacular as Fahey's. His case has triggered an outpouring of support from those who share his defiance toward code enforcement.

A Facebook page called Save Phonehenge West has almost 300 followers. A national group called F.A.C.E.OFF (Fight Against Code Enforcement Office), which states its mission as "eliminating abusive, aggressive, illegal and unconstitutional code enforcement practices," is also backing Fahey. Supporters argue that Phonehenge West is an architectural marvel — even a work of art.

"This is an exceptional place," said David Lewis, a local advocate for code enforcement reform. "Most of the properties that are involved in code enforcement actions are not visually striking. It's something the public can look at. It's something special that shouldn't be demolished."

Fahey has been working on what he casually calls his "project" almost as long as did another ceaseless builder, Simon Rodia, who built the Watts Towers over more than 30 years beginning in 1921. Fahey said he admires Rodia's vision and sees himself in the same mold.

Bill Guild, council president in the nearby Antelope Valley town of Littlerock, said Fahey's creation "has far more charm than the Watts Towers." Left to flourish, it "could become a significant tourist attraction," he said.

But county legal officials say Phonehenge West is a gross violation of building regulations and that some neighbors have complained that it's an eyesore.

Tony Bell, a spokesman for Los Angeles County Supervisor Michael D. Antonovich, who represents the Antelope Valley, said high desert locales such as Acton spent years developing rules for appropriate construction and deserve "to have development standards that protect their public safety and preserve their quality of life, just like anywhere else."

Other county officials were tight-lipped about the case, citing the upcoming trial; but Patrick David Campbell, the deputy district attorney who is trying Fahey's case, said none of the structures on his property — except the original house and garage — are technically legal, or safe.

"They shouldn't have been built in the first place," he said.

Fahey acknowledges he was cited by the county when he first started to make additions to his property in 1984. He said he tried to "play ball," but inspectors demanded an endless list of changes and even lost his building plans. After about two years of back and forth, he said, county code inspectors stopped visiting his property for 20 years. In their absence, he admits, he "went wild."

In 2006, county inspectors began issuing him citations again, he said.

County officials have declined to say exactly why the citations resumed when they did. Nor would they confirm that they failed to cite him during the preceding two decades.

Since then, Fahey says that he has appeared in court more than 50 times as the case advanced toward a criminal trial.

"It would break most people," said Fahey's wife of six years, Pat, who is as proud of Phonehenge West as he is and delights in showing visitors its highlights — the great view, the double sink, etc.

But Fahey isn't most people.

He is a Santa Claus look-alike, with a long white beard, denim overalls and rapid-fire speech, who can talk your ear off on most any subject, from World War II to giant squid, injecting jokes after almost every phrase. He is a self-taught craftsman who seems to have considerable skill. He constructs detailed miniature replicas of Viking houses, fire stations and Phonehenge West itself.

A political independent who stockpiles food and votes for "peace and freedom," he carries a pocket-size copy of the U.S. Constitution in his jacket.

After graduating from Hart High School in Newhall in 1969, Fahey embarked on a 30-year career as a phone service technician. He has been divorced four times; he and Pat, his fifth wife, have 10 children between them, most of them adults. The youngest, 16, lives with the couple, his bedroom a loft inside the barn. An adult son lives in a separate structure on the property.

Phonehenge West's interior is as eclectic as Fahey's mind. Inside the barn that Fahey calls his temporary home, curio cabinets hold collectibles, including Star Wars toys and dinosaur replicas from the Carnegie Museum of Natural History. More than 20,000 books fill every available shelf that isn't crammed with kitchen utensils or food, including the overhead rafters. There are military memoirs, a biography of Benito Mussolini and the 9/11 Commission Report.

Fahey's own recollections are meticulously scripted in the pages of hardbound journals. The year is printed on each spine — 1975 to 2011. The library also includes his self-published book, "Hollywood Unlisted," about the many years he worked as a phone man for a host of celebrities.

A 19th century wood-burning stove heats the barn's interior. The couple sleeps on a single-size water bed in an area partitioned off from the kitchen. Pat prepares meals on a compact stove. The kitchen lacks cupboards, so plates and platters are neatly stacked on shelves; pots and mugs hang from hooks. Fahey fashioned the dining table from the frame of an old water bed.

But Phonehenge West isn't just a family pad.

Chickens, turkeys and guinea hens live in an aviary made from a yurt that Fahey said came from a movie set. The yurt's roof is an old satellite dish. Koi and bullfrogs swim in a pond fashioned from a cattle watering trough.

Fahey said he wants to turn one wing of the tower into a museum, and another into a library and gift shop. He has plans for a crafts workshop for disabled children. He welcomes visitors and keeps a guest book. It's full of signatures. Someone once inquired about holding a wedding there.

Lewis, the advocate, said Fahey's openness adds to Phonehenge West's appeal.

"He's not putting up a wall to keep the public out," he said.

Fahey said he plans to fight to the end for his creation.

"I don't care what they do to me," he said.

http://www.latimes.com/news/local/la-me-phonehenge-west-20110526,0,5819105,full.story

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« Reply #4091 on: May 26th, 2011, 11:32am »

Reuters

UBS may relocate investment bank outside Switzerland

By Caroline Copley and Albert Schmieder
ZURICH | Thu May 26, 2011 11:49am EDT

(Reuters) - UBS (UBSN.VX) is planning to relocate its investment bank outside Switzerland, the Wall Street Journal said, to side-step tough new local bank regulations and better deploy its capital.

The country's financial watchdog FINMA is pushing UBS, which was one of the biggest casualties of the credit crisis, to set up its risky investment bank as a separate entity outside Switzerland in London, New York or Singapore, the newspaper said.

Switzerland plans to force UBS and its closest rival Credit Suisse (CSGN.VX) to build up far bigger capital buffers than their peers abroad, to make sure Switzerland won't need to bail out one of its huge banks again, as it did with UBS during the crisis.

Profitably running an investment bank -- a capital-intensive business in the best of times -- will be hard for UBS given the tough new Swiss capital requirements that analysts say will put it at a disadvantage compared with its overseas rivals.

However, the Swiss rules contain a "rebate" that would allow banks to hold less capital if there was less of a direct guarantee from a parent company to subsidiary units abroad.

"We could imagine that FINMA is pressing UBS to end the parent-company guarantees, which under the current legal set-up allows for lower capital requirements in local entities," said Sarasin analyst Rainer Skierka.

"However, it is still not clear whether creating a legally and financially independent investment banking entity would really insulate the parent company -- or in the end the Swiss government -- from potential future losses."

UBS called the WSJ report "speculation," but pointed to earlier statements that said it was looking at its "corporate structure in view of developing regulatory requirements, not only in Switzerland but also in the UK, U.S. and elsewhere."

"There is no basis for speculation about splitting off or spinning off the investment bank," UBS said in a memo sent to staff on Thursday and obtained by Reuters.

The rules under consideration by the Swiss parliament would require UBS and Credit Suisse (CSGN.VX) to hold capital solvency ratios of 19 percent, more than double the 7 percent minimum set under the new Basel III global capital accord.

That consists of a Tier 1 capital ratio of 10 percent plus a further 9 percent of other forms of capital, such as contingent convertible (CoCo) bonds, which turn into equity capital if the bank lands in trouble.

HEAD SCRATCHING

Switzerland's popular right-wing Swiss People's Party (SVP) has proposed that UBS and Credit Suisse split off their U.S. divisions, separating investment banking from more stable wealth management, to shield taxpayers from any further bail-outs.

But it remains unclear if the investment bank would be entirely ring-fenced if it relocated to, for instance London, where regulators have equally been agonizing over how best to shield taxpayers from any further bail-out risk.

"One trend that we see is that the regulators worldwide want banks to be sufficiently capitalized also within the local subsidiaries," said a Swiss regulatory source.

Britain's Independent Commission on Banking may want banks to put up separate capital for retail banking operations, a less severe option than cutting all ties between investment and retail banking, a scenario it originally suggested.

"There would be a big scratching of the head and questions over 'do we really want responsibility for the whole of the investment bank to be domiciled here,' said Chris Wheeler, an equity analyst at Mediobanca.

Last month, UBS called for a year's delay to the stringent Swiss capital rules to allow more clarity on international regulation, while striking a more conciliatory note by vowing to keep its base in Switzerland.

Last week, Chief Executive Oswald Gruebel said UBS planned to invest in rebuilding teams in a move to reassure staff, acknowledging recent scrutiny of personnel turnover at the bank. He added that UBS's ambitions went beyond being among the top five investment banks in the region.

(Additional reporting by Sarah White in London and Lincoln Feast in Singapore; Writing by Douwe Miedema and Emma Thomasson; Editing by Erica Billingham, Greg Mahlich)

http://www.reuters.com/article/2011/05/26/us-ubs-idUSTRE74P51N20110526

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« Reply #4092 on: May 26th, 2011, 11:35am »

Wired Danger Room

Top Democrat Channels Cheney, Blasts Patriot Act Foes as Osama Pals
By Spencer Ackerman
May 26, 2011 | 11:44 am
Categories: Miscellaneous


It used to be that Sen. Harry Reid had a problem with smearing surveillance skeptics as terrorist allies. But now that some Republicans oppose the Patriot Act, Reid is calling the objectors Osama’s BFFs. Dick Cheney would be proud.

All the libertarian senator Rand Paul wanted was to add amendments to the government’s cherished surveillance law that would protect Americans’ privacy. For this, Reid, the Senate Democratic leader, charged that Paul’s efforts would “increase the risk of a retaliatory terrorist strike against the homeland and hamper our ability to deal a truly fatal blow to al-Qaida.”

It’s not just that Reid is demagoguing Rand Paul. It’s that Reid’s objections betray the depths of his hypocrisy on both surveillance and its politics, as revealed by the sophisticated consistency-generating algorithm known as Google.

Remember back when a Republican was in the White House and demanded broad surveillance authority? Here’s Reid back then. ”Whether out of convenience, incompetence, or outright disdain for the rule of law, the administration chose to ignore Congress and ignore the Constitution,” Reid said about Bush’s warrantless surveillance program. When Bush insisted Congress entrench that surveillance with legislation in 2008, Reid turned around and demanded Bush “stop fear-mongering and start being honest with the American people about national security.” Any claim about the detrimental impact about a lapse in widespread surveillance were “scare tactics” to Reid that ”irresponsibly distort reality.” (Then Reid rolled over for Bush.)

That’s nowhere near the end of Reid’s hypocrisy here. When the Senate debated renewing the Patriot Act in 2006, Reid, a supporter of the bill’s surveillance procedures, himself slowed up the bill’s passage to allow amendments to it — the better to allow “sensible checks on the arbitrary exercise of executive power.” Sounding a whole lot like Rand Paul, the 2006-vintage Reid registered his “objection to the procedural maneuver under which Senators have been blocked from offering any amendments to this bill” and reminded his colleagues, ”the hallmark of the Senate is free speech and open debate.”

Reid could hardly be more of an opportunist here. He favors broad surveillance authorities — just as long as those scary Republicans stop being mean to liberals. When Attorney General John Ashcroft warned civil libertarians that their “phantoms of lost liberty… only aid terrorists,” Reid told CNN on December 8, 2001 that “people should just cool their jets” — but not that Ashcroft was actually, you know, wrong. By contrast, the ultra-conservative pundit Bob Novak said Ashcroft made “one of the most disreputable statements I have heard from an attorney general.”

Ultimately, for all of Reid’s doomsaying, it appears Reid acquiesced to Paul, who’ll get to offer his Patriot amendments after all if he can overcome some GOP procedural maneuvering. A final Senate vote on the three expiring provisions of the Patriot Act is expected later today. It appears the only thing more permanent than wide-ranging surveillance is hypocrisy about it.

http://www.wired.com/dangerroom/2011/05/top-democrat-channels-cheney-blasts-patriot-act-foes-as-osama-pals/#more-47897

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« Reply #4093 on: May 26th, 2011, 11:38am »

Hollywood Reporter

MPAA Praises Announcement of ‘Priority Piracy Watch List’
12:17 PM 5/26/2011
by THR staff

Group says it reinforces the need for legislation against content theft.

The Motion Picture Association of America (MPAA) says the Congressional International Anti-Piracy Caucus (IAPC)’s decision to release the “priority piracy watch list” will help raise awareness of creative content that is is stolen and illegally distributed through some of the world’s most notorious marketplaces.

“Theft of American movies, television shows, and other creative content in these countries and around the world costs tens of billions of dollars and jeopardizes the livelihoods of more than 2.4 million stagehands, makeup artists, actors, costume and set designers, truck drivers, architects, directors, accountants, and others who make up America’s creative community,” Greg Frazier, MPAA’s Executive Vice President and Chief Policy Officer, said in a statement.

“As more and more people watch and enjoy creative works online, America and its partners abroad need to increase domestic and international efforts to protect those works from theft. We thank Senators Whitehouse and Hatch and Congressmen Schiff and Goodlatte for recognizing the serious threat of digital piracy and for shining a much-needed spotlight on those places around the world where America’s creative works are most at risk. We will continue to work with the IAPC and its members to promote copyright protection and the enforcement of intellectual property rights.

“It’s fitting that the IAPC’s announcement comes on the same day that the Senate Judiciary Committee unanimously passed key legislation aimed at preventing content theft by cracking down on rogue websites that sell or distribute stolen creative works,” Frazier continued. “Legislation like the bipartisan PROTECT IP Act sends a strong signal that the United States is committed to tough but smart action against those who try to profit from stolen intellectual property.”

http://www.hollywoodreporter.com/news/mpaa-praises-announcement-priority-piracy-192619

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« Reply #4094 on: May 26th, 2011, 11:40am »




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