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 veryhotthread  Author  Topic: Stuff & Nonsense  (Read 126478 times)
Swamprat
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« Reply #4140 on: Jun 1st, 2011, 1:27pm »

BBC News

1 June 2011 Last updated at 06:06 ET

Striking view of 'Milky Way twin'

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The image "could almost be a picture postcard of our own Milky Way", said the ESO

Astronomers have released what they say is the best-yet picture of NGC 6744, a spiral galaxy described as a "sibling" of our own Milky Way.

The image was snapped by the European Southern Observatory's MPG/ESO 2.2-metre telescope in Chile.
The galaxy lies 30 million light-years away, in the constellation Pavo.

While it is almost twice as large as the Milky Way, it exhibits the same sharply-defined spiral arms and stretched central region.

There is even a small companion galaxy, visible at the lower right of the image, which is analogous to our own galactic neighbours the Magellanic Clouds.

Those arms host many star-forming regions; the glow coming from hydrogen gas in these active regions shows up as red in the image.

http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/science-environment-13600575

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« Reply #4141 on: Jun 1st, 2011, 5:43pm »

on Jun 1st, 2011, 1:02pm, philliman wrote:
Mama Alerts Rescuers To 10 Trapped Ducklings

HYANNIS, Mass. -- A family of Cape Cod ducks is back where they belong this week, thanks to some Hyannis firefighters who lived up to their motto "Anytime, anywhere, any job," over the weekend as they embarked on a one-of-a-kind rescue mission.

A mother mallard duck's quacking alerted police to her 10 ducklings stuck in a storm drain off of Main Street on Sunday.

"Took a flashlight, got down on my hands and knees, looked down there and you could see 10 little baby ducks, all peeping," said Barnstable Police Sgt. Sean Sweeney.

Officers called firefighters, who used their smallest employee, firefighter Jonathan Talin, to go down into the drain to pull the ducklings out.

"They're fuzzy little balls, basically," he said.

Talin proceeded to scoop them all out.

"Put all the little ducklings in a canvas bag, hoisted the canvas bag up. He came back up the ladder and one of the lieutenants let the ducks go over there and she ran right over to them and that was it. And then the other fun began because she continued to head for the ocean," Sweeney said, adding that the ducklings could only have been about two days old.

Another police officer stopped traffic and gave the ducks an escort across the street.

...

Read the rest here (with video): http://www.thebostonchannel.com/news/28078870/detail.html#ixzz1O35SAqlS


Thanks Phil. What a great story. 2 days old. I hope they all live long "ducky" lives. grin

Crystal

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« Reply #4142 on: Jun 1st, 2011, 5:45pm »

on Jun 1st, 2011, 1:27pm, Swamprat wrote:
BBC News

1 June 2011 Last updated at 06:06 ET

Striking view of 'Milky Way twin'

User Image
The image "could almost be a picture postcard of our own Milky Way", said the ESO

Astronomers have released what they say is the best-yet picture of NGC 6744, a spiral galaxy described as a "sibling" of our own Milky Way.

The image was snapped by the European Southern Observatory's MPG/ESO 2.2-metre telescope in Chile.
The galaxy lies 30 million light-years away, in the constellation Pavo.

While it is almost twice as large as the Milky Way, it exhibits the same sharply-defined spiral arms and stretched central region.

There is even a small companion galaxy, visible at the lower right of the image, which is analogous to our own galactic neighbours the Magellanic Clouds.

Those arms host many star-forming regions; the glow coming from hydrogen gas in these active regions shows up as red in the image.

http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/science-environment-13600575




"Sibling" What a great start to a sci fi novel or movie! Thanks Swamp. This makes the imagination soar.

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« Reply #4143 on: Jun 1st, 2011, 5:46pm »

Washington Post

Discovery of ‘worms from hell’ deep beneath Earth’s surface raises new questions

By Marc Kaufman
Wednesday, June 1, 10:00 AM

For the first time, scientists have found complex, multi-celled creatures living a mile and more below the planet’s surface, raising new possibilities about the spread of life on Earth and potential subsurface life on other planets and moons.

Nicknamed “worms from hell,” the nematodes, or roundworms, were found in several gold mines in South Africa, where researchers have also made breakthrough discoveries about deep subterranean single-cell life.

The two lead researchers, Gaetan Borgonie of the University of Ghent in Belgium and Tullis Onstott of Princeton University, said the discovery of creatures so far below ground, with nervous, digestive and reproductive systems, was akin to finding “Moby Dick in Lake Ontario.”

“This is telling us something brand new,” said Onstott, whose pioneering work in South Africa over the past decade has revolutionized the understanding of microbial life known generally as extremophiles, which live in places long believed to be uninhabitable.

“For a relatively complex creature like a nematode to penetrate that deep is simply remarkable,” he said.

An article introducing the subterranean nematodes, one of which was formally named Halicephalobus mephisto after the “Lord of the Underworld,” appears in Wednesday’s edition of the journal Nature. H. mephisto was found in water flowing from a borehole about one mile below the surface in the Beatrix gold mine.

The research is likely to trigger scientific challenges and cause some controversy because it places far more complex life in an environment where researchers have generally held it should not, or even cannot, exist.

Borgonie led the South African nematode investigation largely without professional support or funds. He contacted his future partner with a cold call. Onstott, who began his own deep mine work with similarly limited funds and amid similar professional skepticism, was both intrigued and inclined to help a fellow risk-taker.

Borgonie said that although nematodes are known to exist on the deep ocean floor, they have generally not been found more than 10 to 20 feet below the surface of the ground or the ocean bed. But he saw no reason they wouldn’t be found farther down. The nematodes he ultimately discovered live in extremely hot water coming from boreholes fed by rock fissures and pools.

In addition to uncovering a new realm of biology on Earth, Borgonie and Onstott wrote that this could have important implications for extraterrestrial research, or astrobiology.

Scientists seeking life beyond Earth are intrigued by the possibility that microbes could be living below the surface of Mars, in particular — a planet that is now cold, dry and bombarded by harmful radiation but was once much wetter, warmer and better-protected by an atmosphere.

“What we found shows that harsh conditions do not necessarily exclude complexity,” Borgonie said.

He said that if life did originate on Mars and if it had sufficient time to go underground deep enough to survive worsening conditions, “then evolution of Martian life might have continued underground. . . . Life on Mars could be more complex than we imagined.”

Carl Pilcher, director of NASA’s Astrobiology Institute in California, said that the nematode discovery illustrates the usefulness of research on Earth for learning about possible extraterrestrial life.

“It is entirely plausible, in fact extremely likely, that subsurface environments like those described in these papers exist on other worlds in this solar system and in other planetary systems,” he said of the new work and Onstott’s earlier discoveries.

“We can now say that worlds with such subsurface environments could, in theory, harbor subsurface life, both microbial and multicellular,” Pilcher said. “That knowledge . . . can help guide us in developing missions and experiments to study other worlds.”

At least one of the bacteria species discovered earlier by Onstott and Lisa Pratt of Indiana University lives entirely disconnected from anything on the Earth’s surface or produced by photosynthesis. It uses the radioactive decay of nearby rocks as the energy source to break apart molecules that it then feeds on.

Borgonie speculates that the nematodes, which feed on bacteria, traveled through the cracks and crevices of rock in search of food. While they were determined to have lived deep underground for 3,000 to 10,000 years, the bacteria discovered by Onstott was found to have lived at its great depth between 3 million and 40 million years. A major difference between the two appears to be that while the nematodes adapted, the bacteria have evolved.

Complete worms, up to one-third of an inch in length, were found in two mines, and DNA of another was found in a third. They were found in water flowing from boreholes in the rock of the mines at depths from two-thirds of a mile to more than two miles. The worms nearer the surface were brought to a lab and survived, while the specimen at the deepest level was a DNA sample from a nematode but otherwise impossible to identify.

A primary hurdle the team had to overcome was proving that the nematodes had not come into the mines on the shoes or clothing of miners or through mine ventilation water. The contamination issue was resolved through extensive testing of the soil and mining water, which contains two disinfectant bleaches that would kill nematodes.

Borgonie, working with a team from South Africa’s University of the Free State in Bloemfontein, descended into the deep mines about 25 times to collect samples. He said there is good reason to believe nematodes, and other multi-celled organisms, also live deep below the surface of many other parts of the world, and especially below ocean beds.

Research into the distribution of underground microbes in recent decades has led scientists to conclude that more than half of the biological mass on Earth is below the surface.

http://www.washingtonpost.com/national/discovery-of-worms-from-hell-deep-beneath-earths-surface-raises-new-questions/2011/05/31/AGnzJTGH_story.html?hpid=z2

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« Reply #4144 on: Jun 1st, 2011, 7:58pm »

Go Spooks! grin

Wired Danger Room

Stop the Presses! Spooks Hacked al-Qaida Online Mag
By Adam Rawnsley
June 1, 2011 | 1:56 pm
Categories: Info War



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Image: Inspire


Just because you’re a paranoid terror wannabe doesn’t mean they aren’t watching you — and hacking your jihadi online fanzine. The Washington Post (http://www.washingtonpost.com/national/list-of-cyber-weapons-developed-by-pentagon-to-streamline-computer-warfare/2011/05/31/AGSublFH_story_1.html)
reports that British intelligence vandalized the debut issue of Inspire magazine after the United States reportedly turned down a similar plan.

Inspire billed itself as “the first magazine issued by al-Qaida in the English language” when it launched in June 2010. It urged lone-wolf terrorists to take up arms with a mixture of new and recycled al-Qaida propaganda. It’s accessibility in English made it a splash in the Western press. With ludicrous articles like “Make a bomb in the kitchen of your mom,” some thought it was a fake.

But among its target audience, it caused a panic. When downloaded from online file-hosting services, the PDF’s first few pages looked just fine. The rest of it, however, was filled with a continuing stream of gibberish characters.

Online jihadis had a mini-freakout. Al-Qaida fanboys spread rumors that Inspire contained a virus. Jihadi forum administrators warned users to steer clear.

The Post reports that the Brits were responsible for turning Inspire into a junior jumble all along. They took up the idea of hacking the magazine while American officials debated similar action, according to the Post. Cyber Command chief Lt. General Keith Alexander argued the mag was a danger to troops and in need of a takedown. The CIA prevailed, arguing that an attack would expose their tradecraft and cut off a source of intelligence info.

Jihadi forums and media have been the subject of all kinds of cyber trickery over the years. Some of it can be directly attributed to governments. The source of other incidents is less clear. American, Saudi and Dutch authorities have set up honeytrap jihadi sites to collect intelligence on potential terrorists.

The Taliban’s website has been hacked and defaced with images of the insurgent group’s most brutal crimes. Elite jihadi forums have been attacked. And the password for a video featuring Osama Bin Laden was tampered with, delaying its release.

As the wrangling among U.S. officials illustrates, messing with jihadi media can be a tricky call. Unless spooks are willing to consistently disrupt the releases, they risk losing an intelligence source in exchange for only a temporary strike.

Alternatively, occasional mischief against jihadis online might actually be beneficial. It could be scaring users just enough to stop them from planning operations, but not enough to push them completely into hiding.

A corrected first issue of Inspire eventually came out, and since then al-Qaida in the Arabian Peninsula’s production arm has been able to put out four more issues – in addition to issues of its Arabic language Sada al-Malahim — without similar disruptions. Either the Brits have lost interest in messing around with Inspire or concluded it’s too difficult to do on a regular basis.

http://www.wired.com/dangerroom/2011/06/stop-the-presses-spooks-hacked-al-qaida-online-mag/

Crystal

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« Reply #4145 on: Jun 1st, 2011, 8:33pm »

The FBI

Our Mission

As a threat-based and intelligence-driven national security organization, the mission of the FBI is to protect and defend the United States against terrorist and foreign intelligence threats, to uphold and enforce the criminal laws of the United States, and to provide leadership and criminal justice services to federal, state, municipal, and international agencies and partners.

Our Priorities
The FBI focuses on threats that challenge the foundations of American society or involve dangers too large or complex for any local or state authority to handle alone. In executing the following priorities, we will produce and use intelligence to protect the nation from threats and to bring to justice those who violate the law.

1. Protect the United States from terrorist attack
2. Protect the United States against foreign intelligence operations and espionage
3. Protect the United States against cyber-based attacks and high-technology crimes
4. Combat public corruption at all levels
5. Protect civil rights
6. Combat transnational/national criminal organizations and enterprises
7. Combat major white-collar crime
8. Combat significant violent crime
9. Support federal, state, local and international partners
10. Upgrade technology to successfully perform the FBI's mission

Our People & Leadership
On May 31, 2011, we had a total of 35,437 employees. That included 13,963 special agents and 21,474 support professionals, such as intelligence analysts, language specialists, scientists, information technology specialists, and other professionals.

Our Budget
In fiscal year 2011, our total budget is approximately $7.9 billion.

Our Motto
"Fidelity, Bravery, and Integrity."


The FBI Vault

The Vault is our new electronic reading room, containing more than 3,000 documents that have been scanned from paper into digital copies so you can read them in the comfort of your home or office.

Included here are more than 25 new files that have been released to the public but never added to this website; dozens of records previously posted on our site but removed as requests diminished; and files from our previous electronic reading room.

Since the launch of the Vault in April 2011, we have also added more than 30 new, previously unreleased files.

The Vault includes several new tools and resources for your convenience:

Searching for Topics: You can browse or search for specific topics or persons (like Al Capone or Marilyn Monroe) by viewing our alphabetical listing, by using the search tool in the upper right of this site, or by checking the different category lists that can be found in the menu on the right side of this page. In the search results, click on the folder to see all of the files for that particular topic.

Searching for Key Words: Thanks to new technology we have developed, you can now search for key words or phrases within some individual files. You can search across all of our electronic files by using the search tool in the upper right of this site, or you can search for key words within a specific document by typing in terms in the search box in the upper right hand of the file after it has been opened and loaded. Note: since many of the files include handwritten notes or are not always in optimal condition due to age, this search feature does not always work perfectly.

Viewing the Files: We are now using an open source web document viewer, so you no longer need your own file software to view our records. When you click on a file, it loads in a reader that enables you to view one or two pages at a time, search for key words, shrink or enlarge the size of the text, use different scroll features, and more. In many cases, the quality and clarity of the individual files has also been improved.

Requesting a Status Update: Use our new Check the Status of Your FOI/PA Request tool to determine where your request stands in our process. Status information is updated weekly. Note: You need your FOI/PA request number to use this feature.

Please note: the content of the files in the Vault encompasses all time periods of Bureau history and do not always reflect the current views, policies, and priorities of the FBI.

New files will be added on a regular basis, so please check back often.

http://vault.fbi.gov/

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« Reply #4146 on: Jun 2nd, 2011, 07:32am »

Good morning Swamprat! cheesy

Thank you for that article.

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« Reply #4147 on: Jun 2nd, 2011, 07:35am »

New York Times

June 2, 2011
Health Official Says E. Coli Strain Was Previously Unknown
By ALAN COWELL and JAMES KANTER


BERLIN — The World Health Organization said on Thursday that an unusually lethal strain of E. coli, which has infected more than 1,500 people in Germany, mystified public health officials and threatened to touch off panic in Europe, was a previously unknown variant of the bacteria, raising new concerns about the extent and severity of the contagion.

As consumers across Europe weighed whether it was safe to eat raw produce, Russia extended a ban on fresh vegetable imports, initially imposed on produce from Spain and Germany, to encompass all of the European Union on Thursday, triggering a sharp response from European officials who called the move “disproportionate.”

Britain’s Health Protection Agency, meanwhile, confirmed Thursday that the number of cases in Britain had risen from three to seven, with the bacteria found in people who had recently traveled to Germany. For the first time, it said, three residents of Britain were among those infected. There had been no cases of secondary infection, the agency said.

In Geneva, Gregory Hartl, a spokesman for the World Health Organization, said: “What we understand is this is a strain which has never been detected in an outbreak situation before.” He said scientists at “many laboratories” were working to gather more information about the strain. The origins of the outbreak, which has killed at least 17 people — 16 in Germany and a Swede who visited there recently — remains unknown.

In a statement Thursday, a Chinese laboratory collaborating with German scientists said the contagion had been caused by a “new strain of bacteria that is highly infectious and toxic.” The strain carries “several antibiotic resistant genes,” according to the Beijing Genomics Institute in the southern city of Shenzen, “which makes antibiotic treatment extremely difficult.”

The statement referred to the strain as “entirely new” and “super-toxic” and said it was similar to a strain known as EAEC 55989 found in the Central African Republic and known to cause serious diarrhea. The Chinese laboratory had been working with scientists at the University Medical Center Hamburg-Eppendorf at the epicenter of the outbreak.

In recent days, the European Center for Disease Control and Prevention, a European Union agency based in Stockholm, and other health authorities in Europe have blamed the outbreak on a rare strain of E. coli called O104:H4.

Since 2008, there have been only eight cases linked to that strain reported in the European Union, according to the agency, whose Web site was still reporting on Thursday that laboratory results indicated O104:H4 carried in contaminated food was “the causative agent” of the outbreak in Germany and had also been detected in Denmark.

Quite apart from health concerns, the impact of the outbreak spread increasingly to European politics and the continent’s economic relations.

Russian news reports quoted health officials as saying Moscow’s ban on European produce would begin immediately. If strictly enforced, the prohibition would magnify the woes of European Union farmers since Russia ranks among their biggest markets. Farmers in Germany and Spain have already complained that public fear of contagion has forced them to destroy their crops.

“What Russia is doing is disproportionate,” Frederic Vincent, the spokesman for E.U. Health Commissioner John Dalli, said Thursday. He said the commission would send a letter later Thursday to Moscow explaining why Russia should remove the restrictions. Russia relies on imports from the European Union for up to 40 percent of its fruits and vegetables and the market is worth up to $5.5 billion annually, according to the commission.

Major growers in Germany are losing up to $7 million daily, and two-thirds of all vegetables, including lettuce and tomatoes, produced by members of the German Federal Association of Producers of Fruit and Vegetables are being destroyed, according to Karl Schmitz, director of the association. In Spain, the damage is much broader, with the loss estimated at about $286 million a week.

Late Wednesday, the European Commission removed an alert about the possible dangers of infection from Spanish cucumbers that German authorities originally suspected were responsible. The commission said it lifted the alert after tests conducted by German and Spanish authorities failed to detect the strain of E. coli that caused the illnesses. Mr. Dalli urged German authorities and other national authorities to “increase their efforts” to identify the source of the contamination.

Public health officials are alarmed because a startlingly high proportion of those infected suffer from a potentially lethal complication attacking the kidneys, called hemolytic uremic syndrome, which can provoke comas, seizures and stroke. Dr. Robert Tauxe, deputy director of food-borne disease at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention in Atlanta, said the rate of cases of acute kidney failure in the outbreak was unprecedented. “That makes this an extraordinarily large and severe event,” he said.

While most of the infections were among people who had traveled to northern Germany, the authorities acknowledged that the outbreak had spread to virtually every corner of the country.

Shoppers and vegetable sellers in Berlin expressed a blend of confusion, anger and stoicism; about 20 cases of E. coli infection have been reported in the capital city. “A lot of people are afraid or worried,” said Nursan Usta, 43, who runs a fruit and vegetable stall in Berlin’s blue-collar Neukölln district. “They aren’t even buying cherries” — even though the authorities have mentioned only cucumbers, lettuce and tomatoes as potential sources of infection. In Motril, a town in Spain’s agricultural heartland, greenhouses were empty of workers as demand for vegetables collapsed after the German authorities initially — and most likely mistakenly — pointed to Spain as a source of the outbreak.

Health officials in Hamburg, the center of the outbreak, appealed Wednesday for donors to contribute blood.

Scientists are at a loss to explain why this little-known organism has proved so virulent.

The European authorities have reported several differences from previous outbreaks, including that women make up more than two-thirds of those affected and that young and middle-aged adults account for a very high percentage of the most severe cases. Dr. J. Glenn Morris, director of the Emerging Pathogens Institute of the University of Florida, said that the German strain might have undergone genetic changes or mutations to make it more potent.

The high number of cases of acute kidney failure represents a much higher percentage of the total number of illnesses than in previous outbreaks associated with different strains of E. coli. Generally, 5 to 10 percent of E. coli illnesses result in this complication. Among the confirmed cases, according to the Robert Koch Institute, Germany’s disease control agency, 470 people had been diagnosed with the kidney syndrome.

That could be because German doctors are using a broader definition of kidney failure that captures more cases. Or it could mean that the total number of illnesses is much greater than has so far been revealed, which ultimately would lower the percentage of acute cases. Or it could be a signature of this form of E. coli.

There are many types of E. coli, most of which are harmless. But a small number have come under increasing scrutiny as dangerous pathogens. These all produce a poison known as shiga toxin and generally have the ability to cling to a person’s intestinal wall, allowing them to release the poison in large enough amounts to make people sick.

Dr. Phillip Tarr, a professor of microbiology at the Washington University School of Medicine in St. Louis, said that there were two main forms of shiga toxin found in E. coli, and that the strain detected in the outbreak in Germany appeared to have the more potent version. But he said the organism appeared to have other quirks that made it unusual, and potentially difficult to detect by conventional means.

With the source of the contagion unknown, the Robert Koch Institute on Wednesday warned against eating “raw tomatoes, cucumbers and lettuces to prevent further cases,” particularly in northern Germany.

Two people in the United States were hospitalized with kidney failure after returning from travel to Hamburg, said Dr. Tauxe of the Centers for Disease Control. He said tests were being done to see if they were sick with a strain of E. coli that matched the German strain.

Alan Cowell reported from Berlin, and James Kanter from Brussels. Reporting was contributed by William Neuman reported from New York; Victor Homola, Stefan Pauly and Judy Dempsey from Berlin; and Raphael Minder from Motril, Spain.


http://www.nytimes.com/2011/06/03/world/europe/03ecoli.html?_r=1&hp

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« Reply #4148 on: Jun 2nd, 2011, 07:44am »

Der Spiegel

06/01/2011
Poisoned Fields
The Painful Evacuation of a Japanese Village
By Cordula Meyer

Why on earth didn't she notice anything? It's a question that preoccupies Mieko Okubo. Why didn't she see the signs?

If she had only been more attentive, perhaps Fumio, her father-in-law, would still be alive today. He would be sitting with her at the table, gazing out at his rice fields through the open terrace door, just as he had done for years.

"Do we have to leave Iitate?" Fumio asked on April 11, when Japan's NHK television network reported that their village was probably going to be evacuated.

"If they say so on TV," she had replied off-handedly.

"Do we really have to go?" Fumio had asked again, and his daughter-in-law had thought nothing of it.

Mieko Okubo has short black hair and thin, petite hands. The ashtray in front of her is filled with at least a dozen cigarette butts, long and thin. "How on earth could I have failed to recognize how important that question was to him?" she wonders today.

She blames herself for not having noticed the little things: how he would sit there all day long, all hunched over and not bolt upright the way he usually did; that she didn't stop short when he didn't touch his chicken or mixed vegetables at dinner; and that she didn't react when he stopped responding to her questions.

'Why Does a 102-Year-Old Have to Suffer?'

The next morning Mieko got up at 5 a.m. to make breakfast, as usual. When she hadn't heard anything from her father-in-law by 8 a.m., she called out: "Breakfast is ready."

Then she opened the door to his room. She saw the tatami mat on the floor, laid out elaborately as if it were a special day. Then she saw her father-in-law. Fumio Okubo had hanged himself in his room. He was 102.

Okubo had spent his entire life in Iitate. The woman he had married at 17 died 80 years later. He made his first trip to the capital Tokyo, 250 kilometers (156 miles) away with a senior citizens' group. What would have been gained by evacuating such an old man?

Shortly after his death, Mieko Okubo cursed TEPCO, the operator of the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant, the company that killed her father-in-law. Now she weeps quietly, and asks: "Why does even a 102-year-old man have to suffer?"

In the days following the explosions inside the Fukushima reactors, the wind carried radiation clouds in a northwesterly direction, all the way into the mountains surrounding Iitate, about 40 kilometers away from the plant. The people working in the fields at the time knew nothing about the dangers in the sky. No one had warned them.

Later on, the authorities measured radiation levels of up to 45 microsievert per hour in Iitate. This is several times the level that led to the evacuation of Chernobyl. No expert today questions the decision to evacuate the village.

Lost Sense of Security

Iitate is surrounded by forests of fir and Japanese cedar, the mountains rise up to 1,000 meters (3,280 feet). In the summer, hikers pitch their tents alongside the clear waters of a mountain lake. For generations, the people in the region have worked hard to wrest a living from the land. For the farmers and craftsmen of Iitate, the loss cannot be measured in microsievert. The residents of Iitate are losing their home, and a sense of security that they will never regain.

In an overcrowded room on the ground floor of the town hall, a team headed by disaster relief manager Shuichi Sato is trying to organize the moves of local residents. "On April 22, the government in Tokyo announced that the people of Iitate were to evacuate within a month. But they said nothing about how this is supposed to work," Sato complains.

He and his team members spend much of their time searching for apartments. Before the Fukushima disaster, there were just under 7,000 people living in Iitate; there are now about 3,000 left. And because the victims of the earthquake and tsunami, in addition to residents of other parts of the restricted zone have already received emergency housing, there are almost no apartments available anymore in the entire region.

Pregnant women and families with small children were evacuated on a Sunday two weeks ago, followed by families with children in middle school. Sato hopes that all families with children will soon have left. The remaining residents are expected to have left their houses by the end of June. Sato, who lacks the legal clout to force them to leave, says: "We're hoping they cooperate."

From One Meeting to the Next

A police line dangles in front of the entrances to the schools. The community center is closed. The only supermarket in town is still open, although some of the shelves are empty. A few construction workers are widening part of a village street, though soon it will no longer be used. A real estate broker's price sign is still posted in front of a newly built gray single-family home: 8 million yen (€70,000, or $100,000).

"These people were born here. It's their home," says Sato. "And we can't even say when they'll be able to return." He is wearing light-colored overalls and ID cards attached to blue strings dangle from his neck. He rushes from one meeting to the next, and yet he makes time to attend the farewell ceremonies being held throughout the village.

Prior to the disaster, Iitate had faced the same fate as many Japanese villages: Its youth had left for the cities, leaving the old people behind. In response, the town organized neighborhood festivals, developed the local beef into a nationally recognized brand and created more jobs for young people.

Iitate was recently admitted to an association of Japan's most beautiful villages. The town's motto is "Madei," or "Being Mindful," and its symbol shows two hands carrying a heart. Local residents don't lock their doors at night.

Now the nuclear crisis has cut deep creases into the friendly face of Iitate's mayor, Norio Kanno. His hair is disheveled and his overalls are covered with oil. When Kanno is asked to name his most difficult decision since the crisis began, he says: "Every day since then has been the most difficult one. After all, I'm responsible for everyone in the village."

Part 2: Deciding to Stay

As mayor, Kanno has worked hard to convince young people to stay in Iitate. Now he is furious with the government in Tokyo. "They say: As long as people are protected from the radiation, have a roof over their heads and enough food to eat, everything is just great." But the people in Iitate feel connected, he says, to their houses and to the village they call home. "TEPCO is responsible for their loss," says the mayor.

The Japanese government is apparently anxious to prevent such anger from reaching public ears. During the interview, an employee from the powerful Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry (METI) suddenly appears. Kanno falls silent in the middle of a sentence, and then he is led away by the man from METI.

But METI cannot silence everyone in Iitate. Kayoko and Hideyoshi Hasegawa, for example, earned their living as dairy farmers. The meadows glisten in the fog at half past five in the morning, as Hideyoshi rolls hay into a large ball, places it on a wheelbarrow and distributes it to his 24 cows. The animals are emaciated, now that they haven't been fed concentrated feed for a while.

Hideyoshi's wife carefully washes each cow's udder with a fresh rag and hot water, and then she attaches the milking machine. When the cows have been milked, she simply opens the tap and allows the fresh milk to flow into the drain. "The cows use their own bodies to produce this milk," she says, with tears in her eyes. "And then we throw everything away."

With toxic radiation lurking in the barn and on their pastures, the Hasegawas are not permitted to sell the milk. Now they hope that they will at least be able to find someone to slaughter their cows. "Then someone will kill them for us. Killing and burying them ourselves would be too much for us," says Kayoko.

Little Reason to Hope

One of their daughters found a two-room apartment for the couple in the city of Fukushima. Hideyoshi Hasegawa plans to visit the farm once a week to look after things. He hopes that the family will be able to return after two years, although he has little reason to hope. The cesium 137 on the farm's fields has a half-life of 30 years.

Hideyoshi Hasegawa's father planted a bonsai garden on the family farm, complete with a pond for koi carp. The 84-year-old climbs onto a folding ladder to prune the next tree. "I won't leave this place," he says, "not even if they threaten to kill me."

He intends to follow the lead of the 107 residents of the Iitate retirement home. The mayor managed to secure permission for them to stay. He argued that the elderly hardly ever go outside, that they are well protected from the radiation inside the building and that forcibly removing them from their accustomed surroundings would sicken them immediately. The nurses and workers at the home plan to commute to what will become a ghost town. For anyone else who chooses to stay, the driver of a milk truck will continue to bring the bare necessities to the village once a week.

The retirement home was built in accordance with "Madei," at a cost of more than €20 million. It is heated with wood pellets, which is supposedly good for the environment and the future.

Twenty-nine-year-old Yukie Niigawa saw a future for her children in Iitate. She is holding her infant, Kurumi, on her arm. The girl was born on March 17, six days after the earthquake. Niigawa is still here with her four children because she is still recovering from the delivery. Brightly colored children's Crocs are lined up next to Niigawa's Hello Kitty sandals at the entrance to her apartment.

more after the jump
http://www.spiegel.de/international/world/0,1518,765949,00.html

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« Reply #4149 on: Jun 2nd, 2011, 07:50am »

Wired Danger Room

Air Force’s Robotic Bags Will Pack Themselves
By Adam Rawnsley
June 2, 2011 | 7:00 am
Categories: Tactics, Strategy and Logistics


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The Air Force is sick of packing the military’s crap. So it’s starting to contract it out — to robots.

The Air Force is responsible for lugging around the rest of the military’s gear. Pallets are the workhorses that crews use to get the job done. They’re flat planks that support cargo and allow it to be tied down, pushed along and generally moved around onto transport vehicles like the C-130.

Moving, stacking, and coordinating all those pallets takes a more than a few foot-tons of back-breaking work. So, a while back, the Air Force proposed building an “intelligent robopallet” that would do let the cargo load itself. The air service recently awarded contracts to two companies — HStar Technologies and Stratom — to start making it happen.

Hstar’s attempt at a self-packing luggage system, dubbed “i-Pbot” in Apple-style, would use omnidirectional wheels and hydraulic actuators to allow the pallets to move themselves around wherever they’re needed. The system would also feature a wireless sensor network to allow it to communicate with other pallets, to ensure efficient movement.

Stratom’s roboloader is based on the standard 463L pallet and will use an automated, guided vehicle to lug around up to five tons. It’ll also have a wireless network that allows it to phone home to a central command location and coordinate with its fellow roboloaders.

Pallets aren’t the only part of the military cargo and transport worlds getting mechanized as the Pentagon tries to save manpower — and trips to the chiropractor — in its logistical tail.

Cargo-carrying drones are already a reality. In the air, there’s the K-MAX helicopter drone which can carry three tons. On the ground, there’s BigDog, the robotic pack mule able to haul up to 300 pounds.

The Air Force and Marine Corps already are working getting their own airborne cargo drones, and the Navy wants to build software that would allow the cargo-bots to ferry the wounded by voice command, without the aid of pilots. The Israelis have been working on a robotic ambulance for years.

The military has also bankrolled the development of superstrength exoskeletons that can haul giant loads. Think Sigourney Weaver in Aliens.

HULC, or the Human Universal Load Carrier, is Lockheed’s offering in the supersuit category. It allows troops to carry up to 200-pound loads on a march and run up to 7 mph. XOS 2, built by Sarcos and Raytheon and often compared to the Iron Man suit, allows users to bear enormous burdens, too, saving all kinds of back-breaking labor.

Of course, if the pallets loaded themselves, then the superhero suits would be freed up for more heroic duty.

http://www.wired.com/dangerroom/2011/06/robot-bags-pack-themselves/

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« Reply #4150 on: Jun 2nd, 2011, 07:55am »

Telegraph

Chinese teen sells his kidney for an iPad 2

A Chinese teenager was so desperate to acquire the new iPad 2 that he sold one of his kidneys for just £2,000 to pay for it, according to reports.

By Peter Foster, Beijing
11:47AM BST 02 Jun 2011

The 17-year-old boy, identified only by his surname, "Zheng", confessed to his mother that he had sold the kidney after spotting an online advertisement offering cash to anyone prepared to become an organ donor.

"I wanted to buy an iPad 2, but I didn't have the money," the boy told Shenzhen TV in the southern province of Guangdong, "When I surfed the internet I found an advert posted online by agent saying they were able to pay RMB20,000 to buy a kidney." After negotiations, the boy travelled north to the city of Chenzhou in Hunan Province where the kidney was removed at a local hospital which discharged him after three days, paying a total of RMB22,000 for the organ.

Trading organs online is a common practice in China, despite repeated attempts by China's government to stamp out the practice. Last year Japanese television reported that a group of "transplant tourists" had paid £50,000 to receive new kidneys in China.

According to official statistics more than a million people in China need a transplant every year, but less than 10,000 receive organs, driving an almost unstoppable black-market organ trade that enriches brokers, doctors and corrupt government officials.

The boy, who has suffered complications following the surgery, returned home but was unable to keep what he had done from his mother.

"When he came back, he had a laptop and a new Apple handset," his mother, identified as Miss Liu, told the station, showing off the livid red scar where her son's kidney was removed, "I wanted to know how he had got so much money and he finally confessed that he had sold one of his kidneys."

The mother took the son back to Chenzhou to report the crime to the police, however, the mobiles of the three agents that Zheng had contacted were all switched off.

The hospital, which admitted contracting out its urology department to a private businessman, denied any knowledge of the surgery.

The case, which caused an online furore, was cited by some as an extreme example of the rampant materialism of modern China.

Thousands of comments were posted on internet discussion groups, with many lamenting the lack of rule of law in China and the "immorality" of the new, 'capitalist' China.

"This is a failure of education, the first purpose of which is to 'propagate morality'," said one comment on Hong Kong's Phoenix TV website, "This teenager's stupid behaviour is a manifestation of his radically materialistic values." "To sell a kidney in order to buy consumer goods? What vanity!" added another, "It is undeniable that modern Chinese teenagers' morality is declining. This is something we must all think about."

Apple products like the iPhone and the iPad are in huge demand in China, and are seen as a badge of wealth and sophistication by young consumers.

Last month scuffles broke out among desperate shoppers outside several Beijing Apple Stores as they queued to buy the newly launched iPad2 and white iPhone4.

http://www.telegraph.co.uk/technology/apple/8552195/Chinese-teen-sells-his-kidney-for-an-iPad-2.html

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« Reply #4151 on: Jun 2nd, 2011, 07:58am »

Hollywood Reporter

James Bond ‘23’ Gets U.K. Release Date
The film’s U.S. launch is set for Nov. 9

8:52 AM 6/2/2011
by Ralf Ludemann

LONDON -- MGM and Sony Pictures Entertainment have announced that Bond 23 will be released in the U.K. and Ireland on Oct. 26, 2012.

The film’s U.S. launch will follow on Nov 9, 2012.

Daniel Craig returns as Bond, with Sam Mendes directing, and Michael G. Wilson and Barbara Broccoli producing for EON Productions

http://www.hollywoodreporter.com/news/james-bond-23-gets-uk-194312

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« Reply #4152 on: Jun 2nd, 2011, 08:09am »




Please be an angel


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www.soldiersangels.org



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« Reply #4153 on: Jun 2nd, 2011, 7:54pm »

Stars and Stripes

Jun 2, 8:17 PM EDT

Mexico uncovers possible US soldiers' remains

MEXICO CITY (AP) -- Mexico's government says archaeologists have found 10 sets of skeletal remains that may belong to U.S. soldiers who died in 1846 during the Mexican-American war.

Government archaeologists say the shape of the skulls and bone measurements suggest the skeletons belonged to Americans.

The find is in the same area of the northern city of Monterrey where a total of 10 other sets of remains were discovered during excavations in recent years.

The National Institute of Anthropology and History said Thursday that while Mexicans also died in the 1846 battle, their families probably collected their remains and buried them in graveyards.

The war ended in 1848. Mexico was defeated and lost almost half its territory.


http://ap.stripes.com/dynamic/stories/L/LT_MEXICO_US_SKELETONS?SITE=DCSAS&SECTION=HOME&TEMPLATE=DEFAULT

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« Reply #4154 on: Jun 2nd, 2011, 9:01pm »

Il Silenzio

To all military friends and others who appreciate the sacrifices made by our Armed Forces.

Here is Taps played as it was first written. Many of you may never have heard it played in its entirety. The original version was called Last Post, and was written by Daniel Butterfield in 1801. It was rather lengthy and formal, as you will hear in this clip, so in 1862 it was shortened to 24 notes and re-named Taps.

Melissa Venema, age 13, is the trumpet soloist. She is playing this rendition on a trumpet whereby the original was played on a bugle.

The conductor of the orchestra is Andre Rieu from Holland.

The young lady, her trumpet and her rendition of TAPS is a fitting tribute for those who offered their lives for our country.


http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=H4l3Rgq-L1M



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