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 veryhotthread  Author  Topic: Stuff & Nonsense  (Read 149851 times)
WingsofCrystal
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« Reply #4335 on: Jun 19th, 2011, 07:30am »

LA Times

U.S.-Saudi rivalry intensifies

The quest for greater influence includes a tug of war over Jordan, just one example of the contest between the longtime allies split over the democracy uprisings sweeping the region.

Paul Richter and Neela Banerjee, Los Angeles Times
June 19, 2011
Reporting from Washington

Senior U.S. diplomats have been dropping by the royal palace in Amman almost every week this spring to convince Jordanian King Abdullah II that democratic reform is the best way to quell the protests against his rule.

But another powerful ally also has been lobbying Abdullah — and wants him to ignore the Americans.

Saudi Arabia is urging the Hashemite kingdom to stick to the kind of autocratic traditions that have kept the House of Saud secure for centuries, and Riyadh has been piling up gifts at Abdullah's door to sell its point of view.

The Saudis last month offered Jordan a coveted opportunity to join a wealthy regional bloc called the Gulf Cooperation Council, a move that would give the impoverished kingdom new investment, jobs and security ties. To sweeten the pot, the Saudis wrote a check for $400 million in aid to Amman two weeks ago, their first assistance in years.

The quiet contest for Jordan is one sign of the rivalry that has erupted across the Middle East this year between Saudi Arabia and the United States, longtime allies that have been put on a collision course by the popular uprisings that have swept the region.

"We do have a lot of friction there," said a U.S. official who spoke on condition of anonymity because of the sensitivity of the issue. "The 'Arab Spring' has injected tension into the relationship."

The Obama administration has generally supported the protests, and urged the region's governments to share more power. But when President Obama demanded reform from Arab regimes in a major speech last month, he carefully avoided any mention of Saudi Arabia, an absolute monarchy that brooks little or no dissent.

Riyadh, which believes the U.S. is turning its back on loyal allies, is trying to step out of America's shadow. It is embracing a foreign policy that often diverges from Washington's — and sometimes seeks to undermine it.

On the key political issues "the Obama administration doesn't really listen to the Saudi views," said Abdullah Askar, who is vice chairman of the foreign affairs committee of the king's Consultative Council, or Majlis Shura, in Riyadh.

This shift doesn't mean the end of the 70-year-old U.S.-Saudi alliance, which is built on a simple foundation: Saudi oil for U.S. military protection. But it means a further loss of influence for Washington in the Middle East at a time when other crucial relations — with Egypt and Turkey, for example — are facing new strains.

The Saudis, who see their own stability threatened in the region's unrest, have shelled out billions of dollars to neighbors in Egypt, Jordan, Bahrain and elsewhere in hopes they will resist political change. Saudi Arabia is expanding and strengthening ties to its fellow Sunni monarchies, charting a new course on both Arab-Israeli issues and its campaign to contain Iran. It is even showing independence from America on core energy issues — which could end up affecting the price Americans pay at the pump.

The pivot has come after years of growing unhappiness with the U.S. approach to the region.

Riyadh was alarmed when George W. Bush's administration allowed a Shiite-dominated government to take control in Iraq after an invasion it opposed. Saudi King Abdullah was outraged when President Obama urged Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak to surrender power after 18 days of street demonstrations.

The Saudis also have taken offense at other perceived slights, including a tough pro-reform speech by Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton in the Persian Gulf state of Qatar in January, in which she warned that the region's foundations are "sinking into the sand."

The Saudis "are upset, they are frustrated, they are angry," said a former senior U.S. official, who spoke on condition of anonymity because of the Saudis' traditional reticence. "They don't know exactly what to do."

A senior State Department official insisted that on security and energy issues, the alliance remains "rock solid."

The two countries also continue to cooperate closely on counter-terrorism, and have collaborated on the political crisis enveloping Yemen that has raised the specter of a resurgent Al Qaeda, officials note. The United States is selling the Saudis $60 billion in arms and other military hardware in a multiyear deal, the largest U.S. weapons transaction ever.

The tension has been most visible in Bahrain, where Riyadh ignored U.S. warnings and sent more than 1,000 troops in mid-March to suppress Shiite-dominated demonstrations. Saudi officials view the protests as an effort by Iran to gain a foothold on their border, and they believe Washington has failed to see the threat.

In Egypt, while U.S. officials urge reform, Riyadh has given Cairo $4 billion to maintain the status quo and to counter the rise of the Muslim Brotherhood, the Islamist organization. The Saudis fear the group could challenge the religious doctrine that provides legitimacy to the Saudi monarchy.

Deeply frustrated with the Obama administration's stalled efforts on Israeli-Palestinian peace, Riyadh is pushing for U.N. recognition of Palestinian sovereignty this fall, an approach the White House is determined to thwart.

Prince Turki al Faisal, the former Saudi intelligence chief and ambassador to the United States, warned this month in an op-ed in the Washington Post that an American veto of the Palestinian effort would have "disastrous consequences" for the U.S.-Saudi relationship.

The United States and Saudi Arabia are drifting apart on energy, too.

For decades both countries saw mutual benefit in holding down oil prices. But now, with Riyadh stepping up foreign aid and embarking on a $130-billion domestic subsidy program to prevent internal unrest, it needs steeper oil prices.

"In the old days, you could call them and ask them to do something about high oil prices," said Herman Franssen, former chief economist at the International Energy Agency, a 28-nation organization that seeks to ensure stable energy supplies. "They are not going to be dictated to by the United States anymore."

This month, the Saudis announced that they would break from OPEC's consensus by increasing their oil output. But their motive was not Obama's repeated public calls for price relief, but their own needs for revenue, experts say.

U.S. officials are clear that they intend to tread lightly because of their appreciation that upheaval in the world's largest oil exporter could upend a fragile world economy.

Yet diplomatic delicacy will accomplish only so much to repair the relationship, and analysts expect to see the Saudis strike out again on their own.

Steven A. Cook, a Mideast specialist at the Council on Foreign Relations, said Riyadh's forceful response in Bahrain "demonstrates the Saudis have absolutely no faith in our position on the region, and are going to look after their own interests in a way they know how."

http://www.latimes.com/news/nationworld/world/la-fg-us-saudis-20110619,0,5631581.story

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« Reply #4336 on: Jun 19th, 2011, 07:34am »

Der Spiegel

06/17/2011 05:34 PM
'We Need to Find a Solution Quickly'
Germany and France Move Closer on Euro Issue

A deal isn't yet in sight for the next Greek rescue package, but Nicolas Sarkozy and Angela Merkel sought to express unity during a Friday meeting at the Chancellery in Berlin. Both, however, now agree that bank participation should be voluntary.

Some had predicted the leaders of France and Germany might take off the kid gloves behind closed doors in Berlin on Friday as Nicolas Sarkozy and Angela Merkel met in the Chancellery to try to forge a compromise on the next bailout package for debt-strapped Greece. Instead, the two European leaders have moved closer on the issues dividing them in the bailout. Indeed, the leaders arrived at the meeting with smiles, and left with them still intact.

The chancellor opened her remarks on the planned multibillion-euro Greek aid package by stating: "We support the Greek prime minister." Merkel said she had spoken to Giorgios Papandreou by telephone and that he was "ready to fight. I am very confident that Greece can master this crisis."

But Merkel's words of motivation merely served as the prelude to criticism of the recent wrestling over Greek aid currently taking place in Europe. "We need to find a solution now as quickly as possible," the chancellor said. "We discussed the same issue in May and almost all of June without coming to a solution." She said Germany and France want to jointly push for a sustainable plan at the European Union summit in Brussels next Friday.

Still, it remains unclear how quickly EU leaders will be able to reach an agreement and when the next tranche of aid will be paid out to Athens. Even though Germany and France appeared to have eliminated a few sticking points after their meeting on Friday, EU leaders remain deeply entrenched in their political fronts over the appropriate way in which the EU can and ultimately will aid highly indebted Greece.

Among the issues agreed on were that seeking the voluntary participation of private lenders in the next bailout package must only take place with the blessing of the European Central Bank, which has vehemently rejected any calls for a debt restructuring -- even those that are freely agreed to out of fear that ratings agencies will further cut Greece's rating. The French and German leaders also agreed that no time should be lost in the EU's preparations for billions in new aid to Athens.

'We Will Do Everything to Preserve the Euro'

Both Sarkozy and Merkel stated during a joint press conference Friday afternoon that France and Germany are determined to defend the common currency. "We will do everything to preserve the euro and support it," Merkel said. The chancellor also reiterated the German government's position. "We wish for the participation of private creditors on a voluntary basis -- let me underline this. There is no legal basis so far for a mandatory participation," she said. "We are also saying that this participation of private creditors should be worked out together with the ECB."

Sarkozy also sought to express unity between two leaders who have this week been portrayed as very divided over a European rescue package necessary to prevent a Greek default.

France has so far opposed asking private creditors to cover part of the tab from the bailout, a condition that Germany's parliament, the Bundestag, has demanded in exchange for its final approval of the next aid package.

Germany, for its part, wants the most binding possible contribution to the Greece package from banks. On Friday, after her meeting with Sarkozy, Merkel also said that this contribution could be made on a voluntary basis.

The ECB, the European Commission (the EU executive) and several euro-zone countries, including France, are calling for a purely voluntary participation by private investors. Otherwise, they fear, ratings agencies may declare a Greek default. They warn that this could send massive waves through the global financial systems, with unforeseable consequences. A downgrade would also prevent the European Central Bank from buying up more Greek bonds, a strategy it pursued last year to prevent a massive loss of value.

Division's Laid Bare

Friday's demonstrative harmony in the midst of a major EU crisis was urgently needed. Germany and France were long considered the political motor of Europe, but in recent months, relations between Paris and Berlin have often been underscored by tensions over a number of issues -- be it the first aid package to Greece last year or the recent intervention in Libya, the French have tended to act more decisively.

The situation in North Africa laid bare the split that has been occurring within the Paris-Berlin axis. Sarkozy, for example, caught the German side off guard earlier this year on the Libya issue with his push for a military intervention and his early recognition of the rebel council.

France and Germany are also deeply divided over nuclear power. Following the Fukushima disaster, Chancellor Angela Merkel moved to pull the plug on the country's power plants. In France, however, nearly 80 percent of the country's electricity is generated by nuclear power plants and the abrupt move in Berlin was jarring to leaders in Paris, who see the atom as a bridging technology for reducing carbon emissions until reliance on sustainable energies can be increased.

German and French Execs Campaign for Euro

Meanwhile, the German financial daily Handelsblatt reported on Friday that the heads of around 70 major German and French companies are seeking to break the European impasse on a Greek bailout with large newspaper aids across Europe next week promoting greater solidarity in Europe. The list of signatories reads like a Who's Who of the Franco-German business elite. On the German side, it includes Daimler boss Dieter Zetsche, Peter Löscher of Siemens, René Obermann of Deutsche Telekom, electricity utility E.On chief Johannes Teyssen as well as BMW head Norbert Reithofer and Deutsche Post head Frank Appel.

The French executives include the heads of aerospace giant EADS, oil company Total, carmaker Renault and energy utility EdF. The German and French executives who have signed the statement are responsible for more than 5 million employees and revenues of a total of more than €1.5 trillion.

"A collapse of the euro would be a disastrous step backward for Europe," the ad reads, noting that the international competitiveness of European companies has risen considerably since the introduction of the euro.

The executives also defend the billions in aid governments are providing to the euro-zone members with crushing debt like Greece, Ireland and Portugal, noting that it is the debt crisis and not the euro that has imperilled the EU's achievements. In the short term, they argue, the countries hit by the debt crisis must be aided so that their people have opportunities for the future. At the same, they are calling for a stricter euro stability pact.

Handelsblatt also reported the Franco-German industry titans stating that demands for some countries to be removed from the euro zone or a division of Europe between the northern and southern states would be a major mistake. Even if rescuing the euro ends up costing billions, they argue, Europe and its currency are worth the effort.

dsl -- with wires


http://www.spiegel.de/international/europe/0,1518,769069,00.html

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« Reply #4337 on: Jun 19th, 2011, 07:39am »

Wired Threat Level

Can Microsoft Use DMCA to Kill Competing Xbox 360 Accessories?
By David Kravets
June 17, 2011 | 2:46 pm
Categories: Digital Millennium Copyright Act, intellectual property


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Can Microsoft remotely disable third-party accessories from working with the Xbox 360 and get away with it?

The Redmond, Washington, software and console maker did just that, and claims copyright law gave it the right. At issue is Microsoft’s 2009 remote disabling of Datel memory cards, which prompted an antitrust lawsuit that lives on today — litigation that has morphed into the latest test of the Digital Millennium Copyright Act.

The 1998 DMCA makes it a crime or civil violation to offer a product or service that circumvents a technological measure designed to protect copyrighted material.

Movie studios used that part of the law to block RealNetworks from distributing DVD-copying software, and Sony invoked it against PlayStation hacker George Hotz, whose mod allowed the PlayStation game console to play pirated and home-brewed games. The government also cited the law in its criminal prosecution of a California man for running a business modding Xboxs.

Microsoft’s DMCA argument against Datel, though, is more nuanced than the others.

In 2009, Microsoft issued a firmware update that stopped third-party accessory maker Datel’s memory cards from working on Xbox consoles. The cards are used to store game data when gamers play online. Microsoft sells its own cards, and was being undercut by Datel’s offering.

Datel sued, urging U.S. District Judge Elizabeth Laporteto to declare Microsoft’s actions anti-competitive because the disabling of the cards was intended “to perpetuate Microsoft’s market power.” Microsoft countered by claiming that its actions were protected by the DMCA, because Datel’s memory cards are circumventing an Xbox memory-card authentication sequence — a sequence that allows limited access to copyright game data.

The Electronic Frontier Foundation and Public Knowledge argued in a federal court filing Wednesday that Microsoft’s disabling of Datel’s devices was questionable, and that its DMCA defense was baseless.

“Microsoft effectively asks this court to grant it exclusive rights to sell any and all Xbox-360-compatible memory cards, controllers, and headsets,” (.pdf) the digital rights groups wrote U.S. District Judge Elizabeth Laporte, the judge presiding over the Datel flap in San Francisco.

No trial date has been set, but briefing in the case continues.

No court has imposed DMCA liability on a company for selling a competing durable good.

One of the leading decisions on that point was a 2004 federal appeals court ruling against Lexmark, which had locked its printers so only its own ink cartridges could be used. Citing the DMCA, Lexmark sued chipmaker Static Control Components, which made microchips that unlocked Lexmark printers to enable them to use unauthorized ink cartridges.

But subsequent decisions have swung the pendulum the other way.

A December ruling by the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals upheld an injunction barring the distribution of a computer program that automatically plays the lower levels of World of Warcraft. The appeals court said the Glider bot program, which automatically kills enemies and performs other Warcraft functions, was a violation of the DMCA because the bot circumvents a measure that “effectively controls access to a copyrighted work.”

Intellectual property scholars closely watched the case because the appellate court ruled there could be a breach of the DMCA even though the circumvention had no infringing intent or purpose.

“This court may be the first to interpret that opinion in a case involving competitors that market consumer products and, as such, its ruling may significantly impact both the everyday casual users of technology, as well as the future developers of consumer electronics and compatible third-party accessories,” the EFF and Public Knowledge wrote Judge Laporte.

That said, Laporte might not have to go there.

Microsoft, in its counterclaim against Datel, hints that the United Kingdom-based electronics concern ripped off Microsoft’s authentication firmware to make its chips work. Microsoft alleges that it has recently discovered “striking similarities (.pdf) between Datel’s source code used in its Xbox 360 authentication chip and Microsoft’s source code.”

If the Datel devices are found to be infringing, Microsoft wrote Judge Laporte, “Datel can claim no antitrust injury with respect to them.”

http://www.wired.com/threatlevel/2011/06/accessory-aftermarket-doomed/#more-27348

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« Reply #4338 on: Jun 19th, 2011, 07:44am »

Geeky Gadgets

Columbia Sportswear Unveils Self Cooling Fabric
By Glenn Santos on Sunday 19th June 2011 12:31 pm in Technology News


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Columbia Sportswear wants to revolutionize air conditioning by using a chemical compound in their new fabrics. What it does is cool the wearer according to the temperature of their surrounding environment. That’s putting it simply. What Columbia wants to do is become the leading brand in temperature adjusting clothes. To achieve this, they’re introduced a special fabric type.

The magic is the result of flat fibers that have a chemical compound. When these are wet, the flat fibers produce a cooling effect. Te only drawback the people at Columbia had fessed up to is the cooling mechanism won’t last forever. In fact, they share the conservative estimate that it’ll take 70 washes before the air conditioning function dissipates. Still, that’s long enough to last a sweltering summer or two.

The entire line of cool clothing (in the technical and fashionable sense) will definitely turn heads, but that won’t be until sometime, Columbia’s Omni Freeze Ice clothing hits stores next year, so until then expect zero word on pricing and other details.

http://www.geeky-gadgets.com/columbia-sportswear-unveils-self-cooling-fabric-19-06-2011/#more-84334

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« Reply #4339 on: Jun 19th, 2011, 2:55pm »

Why we love Hubble:


http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=b63k9NP8DoU&feature=player_embedded
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« Reply #4340 on: Jun 20th, 2011, 07:18am »

on Jun 19th, 2011, 2:55pm, Swamprat wrote:
Why we love Hubble:


http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=b63k9NP8DoU&feature=player_embedded


Beautiful
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« Reply #4341 on: Jun 20th, 2011, 07:21am »

New York Times

June 19, 2011
Small Group Rode LinkedIn to Big Payday
By NELSON D. SCHWARTZ

For Reid Hoffman, the chairman of LinkedIn, it took less than 30 minutes to earn himself an extra $200 million.

With the hours ticking down to his company’s stock market debut, Mr. Hoffman dialed into a conference call from San Francisco’s Ritz-Carlton hotel as his chief executive, Jeff Weiner, and a team of bankers raced up from Silicon Valley in a black S.U.V. to meet with potential investors.

Demand for shares was intense, and they decided to raise the offering price by $10, to around $45.

When trading began on May 19, LinkedIn did not open at $45. Or $55. Or $65. Instead, the first shares were snapped up for $83 each and soon soared past $100, showering a string of players with riches and signaling a gold rush that has not been seen since the giddy days of the tech frenzy a decade ago.

Now there are signs that a new technology bubble is inflating, this time centered on the narrow niche of social networking. Other tech offerings, like that of the Internet radio service Pandora last week, have struggled, and analysts have warned that overly optimistic investors could once again suffer huge losses.

That enthusiasm was on full display in the blockbuster debut of LinkedIn, which provides a window into how a small group — bankers and lawyers, employees who get in on the ground floor, early investors — is taking a hefty cut at each twist in the road from Silicon Valley start-up to Wall Street success story.

“The LinkedIn I.P.O. will be used very powerfully over the next year as these companies go public and bankers deal with Silicon Valley,” said Peter Thiel, the president of Clarium Capital in San Francisco and an early investor in PayPal, LinkedIn and Facebook. “It sets things up for the other big deals."

The sharp run-up after the initial public offering set off a fierce debate among observers about whether the bankers had mispriced it and left billions on the table for their clients to pocket. But the pent-up demand for what was perceived as a hot technology stock set the stage for easy money to be made almost regardless of the offering price.

Naturally, Wall Street is enjoying a windfall. Technology I.P.O.’s have generated nearly $330 million this year in fees for the biggest banks and brokerages, nearly 10 times the haul for the same period last year, and the most since 2000.

Besides the $28.4 million in fees for LinkedIn’s underwriting team, which was led by Morgan Stanley, Bank of America and JPMorgan Chase, there were also a few slices reserved for specialists like lawyers and accountants. Wilson Sonsini, the most powerful law firm in Silicon Valley, collected $1.5 million, while the accounting firm Deloitte & Touche earned $1.35 million.

Mr. Hoffman founded LinkedIn in March 2003 after making a fortune as an executive at PayPal, the online payments service, but even as LinkedIn grew and other employees and private backers got stakes, Mr. Hoffman retained 21.2 percent, giving him more than 19 million shares when it went public. He has kept nearly of all them, so for now his $858 million fortune — it was $667 million before the last-minute price hike — remains mostly on paper.

Mr. Weiner arrived more recently, in late 2008, after working at Yahoo and as an adviser to venture capital firms, but his welcome package included the right to buy 3.5 million shares at just $2.32. And they are not the only big winners who secured shares at levels far below the I.P.O. price.

For example, when LinkedIn raised cash in mid-2008, venture capital firms including Bessemer Venture Partners and Sequoia Capital, scooped up 6.6 million shares at $11.47 each in return for early financing. They have held on to the stock, but Goldman Sachs, which got 871,840 shares at $11.47, sold all of it for a one-day gain of nearly $30 million.

Scores of fortunate individuals also managed to profit.

Stephen Beitzel, a software engineer, worked at LinkedIn from its founding until March 2004, but kept his stock when he left. His shares are now worth $17 million, and he sold $1.3 million worth in the offering.

Mr. Beitzel, 43, said he planned to take a two-year sabbatical and practice his hobby, playing bagpipes, while his wife returns to graduate school. “I try not to think too hard about it,” he said in an interview. “I made a lot of money, but it’s a big crapshoot.”

Back in mid-2003, Andrew Beebe provided some of LinkedIn’s earliest start-up financing. “I put in much less than I could have and much less than I should have,” said Mr. Beebe, a San Francisco sales and marketing executive who sold 3,000 shares in the I.P.O. that he had originally acquired for less than $5 each. “But I don’t live in regret mode, and I’m a very happy investor.”

The road to riches began in late 2010, when Mr. Hoffman, Mr. Weiner and their advisers made the decision to go public. They soon developed a game plan to closely control the offering.

As with the opening of a hot nightclub, it would be exclusive: only 9 percent of the company’s shares would be issued. Of those shares, only 10 percent would be made available to individual investors, instead of the typical 15 percent.

Meanwhile, bigger institutions like Fidelity and T. Rowe Price would be favored over smaller ones, who might be more likely to flip shares for a quick buck. Over 500 institutional investors wanted the stock, but the 10 largest would get the largest share. And about one-third would not get any.

LinkedIn’s top management closely monitored who got what, with Mr. Weiner using an iPad app created by Morgan Stanley to keep track of the process.

With few shares to trade, institutions reluctant to sell and plenty of retail demand, the stock opened at $83 and rose as high as $122.70 before finishing the day at $94.25.

Despite earning just over $15 million in 2010, LinkedIn had convinced the market it was worth nearly $9 billion.

That rarefied air proved fleeting. As of last Friday, the stock had dropped to $65.53, making the underwriters’ prudent pricing look a bit wiser than it did initially.

Still, a few ordinary investors were agile enough to squeeze out a profit. Yves Duquella, a local banker and active investor in New York, bought 300 shares at $91 on the morning of the offering, and dumped them above $100 by noon.

“Some poor idiot bought it at $122 and never saw that again,” he said. “It’s the greater fool theory, like we saw in 2000, but I’m going to do the same thing with Groupon.”

http://www.nytimes.com/2011/06/20/business/20bonanza.html?_r=1&hp#

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« Reply #4342 on: Jun 20th, 2011, 07:26am »

Telegraph

BeautifulPeople.com suffers 'ugly invasion'

A social networking site for ''beautiful people'' has been hit by a ''Shrek'' virus which allowed tens of thousands of ''ugly'' applicants to sign up.


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BeautifulPeople.com has more than 700,000 members worldwide


7:30AM BST 20 Jun 2011

Members of BeautifulPeople.com must traditionally pass a strict ''rating'' stage where existing users vote on whether someone is attractive enough to be accepted into the online community.

But this screening process was brought down last month, allowing anyone to join, regardless of their looks.

Owners today apologised to more than 30,000 ''unfortunate'' people who were ''wrongly admitted'' to the site and subsequently banished.

''We got suspicious when tens of thousands of new members were accepted over a six-week period, many of whom were no oil painting,'' Managing director Greg Hodge said.

''We responded immediately, repairing the damage from the Shrek virus and putting every new member back into the rating module for a legitimate and democratic vote. The result is that we have lost over 30,000 recent members.

''We have sincere regret for the unfortunate people who were wrongly admitted to the site and who believed, albeit for a short while, that they were beautiful.

''It must be a bitter pill to swallow, but better to have had a slice of heaven then never to have tasted it at all.''

The origin of the ''Shrek'' virus is still being investigated internally but it is believed a former employee may have been responsible.

A spokesman said the sabotage was initially believed to have been caused by one of the 5.5 million people rejected from the site.

Safeguards are now in place to prevent any further infiltrators who do not come up to the expected standards, the site said.

It insisted member privacy and security was never breached and has set up a hotline to help recently rejected applicants come to terms with the news.

BeautifulPeople.com has more than 700,000 members worldwide. On average one in seven applicants is accepted.

The majority of successful new members come from the USA, Denmark and France, it claims.

The UK is among the countries with the highest rate of rejections, alongside Russia and Poland.

http://www.telegraph.co.uk/technology/internet/8585070/BeautifulPeople.com-suffers-ugly-invasion.html

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« Reply #4343 on: Jun 20th, 2011, 07:35am »

Wired Science

Massive, Bubble-Blowing Stars Sculpt Emerald Ring Nebula
By Lisa Grossman
June 15, 2011 | 2:00 pm
Categories: Space


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Image: NASA/JPL-Caltech


This glowing green nebula gets its ring-like shape from the powerful light of the most massive stars known to exist.

The ten light-year-wide nebula, named RCW 120 and imaged by NASA’s Spitzer Space Telescope, is found in clouds of dust and gas near the tail of the constellation Scorpius. It lies slightly above the flat plane of our galaxy, the hazy glow of which can been seen towards the picture’s bottom.

To human eyes the ring of glowing dust is invisible, but it shines in the infrared wavelengths Spitzer sees. Blue represents 3.6-micrometer light, green is 8 micrometers, and red is 24-micrometer light.

The ring is sculpted by a pair of giant “O-type” stars that lie at the ring’s center, blowing bubbles with the pressure of intense ultraviolet light. Spitzer observations have found that many of the Milky Way’s O-type stars blow similar bubbles of glowing gas. The small objects at this image’s right may be similar rings seen at much greater distances across the galaxy.

Citizen scientists can help find more of these rings in Spitzer data with the Milky Way Project, part of the “Zooniverse”: http://www.zooniverse.org/
constellation of public astronomy projects.

http://www.wired.com/wiredscience/2011/06/emerald-ring-nebula/

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« Reply #4344 on: Jun 20th, 2011, 07:40am »

LA Times

Europe postpones decision on loan to Greece

Regional finance ministers say they will release the funds only if Greek lawmakers approve tax hikes and spending cuts.

By Henry Chu
Los Angeles Times
1:34 AM PDT, June 20, 2011
LONDON

European finance officials put off a decision Monday on handing debt-laden Greece its next installment of emergency loans, increasing the pressure on Athens to enact new austerity measures and fueling market fears of a national default.

Investors had hoped that officials meeting in Luxembourg would approve the payout of about $17 billion in rescue loans to Greece, which desperately needs the money to pay bills that come due next month.

But after several hours of talks, finance ministers from the 17 countries that use the euro said early Monday they would release the funds only if Greek lawmakers approve a controversial program of tax hikes and spending cuts to slash the country's mammoth budget deficit.

If that happens, then the $17-billion installment from the bailout package set up for Athens last year would be disbursed in July, said Jean-Claude Juncker, the prime minister of Luxembourg.

He added that approval of the austerity measures would also pave the way for a second rescue package for Greece, which has so far failed to meet its deficit-reduction targets and is stumbling beneath a mountain of public debt. The Greek economy is on course for a painful contraction this year, heightening concerns over whether the government can pay back its loans and put the economy on a more competitive footing.

International markets have been rattled for more than a year over the debt crisis in Greece and the mounting woes of Ireland and Portugal, two other Eurozone countries that have had to seek emergency bailouts from the European Union and the International Monetary Fund.

All eyes are now on Athens, where violent public demonstrations and a brewing revolt within Prime Minister George Papandreou's ruling Socialist party have thrown the fate of his proposed austerity measures into doubt.

Last week, the beleaguered Greek leader was forced to reshuffle his Cabinet in an effort to shore up support for the austerity program, which would raise taxes, make deep cuts in public spending and sell off state assets to help balance the books. Papandreou is presenting his new ministerial lineup to the parliament for a crucial vote of confidence Tuesday that could determine whether his government stands or falls.

Analysts say he is likely to eke out a win, which would smooth passage of the austerity package. But the volatility of the situation makes an outcome impossible to predict with certainty.

If he fails, and if Athens cannot pay its bills next month, ratings agencies would declare Greece to be in default, a step that could set off a global financial earthquake.

The crisis in Greece has been exacerbated by infighting among its fellow Eurozone members over the best way to handle the situation. Although they largely agree now on the need for a second bailout for Athens, there has been deep discord over whether private creditors should shoulder some of the burden.

Last week, Germany, the continent's economic heavyweight, dropped its insistence that private holders of Greek debt be forced to take part in a new rescue package.

In Luxembourg on Monday, the finance ministers agreed that any such participation would be strictly voluntary. For example, private bondholders would be encouraged, but not compelled, to help by maintaining their exposure to Greek debt.

http://www.latimes.com/business/la-fiw-greek-debt-20110620,0,5634826.story

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« Reply #4345 on: Jun 20th, 2011, 07:51am »

Deadline Hollywood

Evangeline Lilly, Barry Humphries Join 'The Hobbit'
By MIKE FLEMING
Monday June 20, 2011 @ 4:52am EDT
Tags: Barry Humprhies, Benedict Cumberbatch, Evangeline Lilly, Luke Evans, Peter Jackson, The Hobbit

Deadline told you last week that Luke Evans would play Bard in The Hobbit and that Benedict Cumberbatch would play Smaug. But Peter Jackson revealed a couple more casting surprises as he continues production. One is Lost's Evangeline Lilly, who has been under the radar since the conclusion of that series and who has been sparing in her movie work during production of that series, aside from the Oscar-winning The Hurt Locker. She'll play a Woodland Elf named Tauriel. Barry Humphries, best known for his alter ego Dame Edna, will play the Goblin King. Here is Jackson's Facebook missive:

THE HOBBIT Casting Update
by Peter Jackson on Sunday, June 19, 2011 at 1:51pm

Yikes! I can finally get back to some postings! We've finished our first block of shooting and moved straight into location scouting. More on that soon... But today, I'm thrilled to announce two new cast members who will be joining us for our second block of shooting.


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Evangeline Lilly will be playing a new character—the Woodland Elf, Tauriel. Her name means 'daughter of Mirkwood' and, beyond that, we must leave you guessing! (No, there is no romantic connection to Legolas.) What is not a secret is how talented and compelling an actress Evangeline is; we are thrilled and excited she will be the one to bring our first true Sylvan Elf to life.

I'm also highly excited that Barry Humphries will be portraying the Goblin King, in much the way Andy Serkis created Gollum. Barry is perhaps best known for his business and social connections as the long-time manager of Dame Edna Everage. He has also been an ardent supporter of the rather misunderstood and unfairly maligned Australian politician, Sir Les Patterson. However, in his spare time, Barry is also a fine actor, and we're looking forward to seeing him invest the Goblin King with the delicate sensitivity and emotional depth this character deserves.

Evangeline and Barry, along with Welsh actor Luke Evans as Bard and Benedict Cumberbatch as Smaug, just about rounds out the major casting. I cannot wait to get stuck into these new scenes!

More soon, including a flurry of answers to your questions. Sorry for the delay!

Cheers,

Peter J

http://www.deadline.com/2011/06/evangeline-lilly-barry-humphries-join-the-hobbit/

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« Reply #4346 on: Jun 20th, 2011, 10:18am »

Awwww,,,,,darn!!



Time-Traveling Sex Partners May Be Bad for Your Health, Scientists Say

Published June 20, 2011
FoxNews.com

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Hans Hillewaert / Wikipedia
Artemia salina, or brine shrimp, frolic in a lab.


Michael J. Fox met his mother and endangered his own existence in the movie "Back to the Future."

She may have been more hazardous to his health than he realized.

Evolutionary ecologist Nicolas Rode of the Center for Functional and Evolutionary Ecology in Montpellier, France, and his colleagues discovered that mating with time-traveling partners can shorten one's lifespan, Discover Magazine noted.

The time-travelers in the study are brine shrimp (more commonly called Sea-Monkeys), because the hardy shrimp eggs can survive for years when dehydrated before hatching into healthy young when water returns. Rode and his colleagues gathered eggs from the Great Salt Lake in Utah from sediment layers they dated to 1985, 1996, and 2007. They brought them back to the lab, reared brine shrimp, and mated females with males from their own time as well as from the other years.

Rode and his colleagues discovered that having sex with males from another time is bad for a brine shrimp’s health. The further away in time they were, the sooner the female creatures died, Discover reported.

When the male traveled 22 years to mate with a female, her life was cut short on average by 12 percent.

Why? In many species, males and females have conflicting evolutionary interests. Males compete with each other to fertilize females, and evolve a variety of techniques to ensure success: They put scrapers into females to dump out the sperm from previous males, and they inject “anti-aphrodiasiacs” to make females unreceptive to other males. Females strive to live longer, despite these dangerous male devices.

If sexual conflict is an ongoing evolutionary process, you’d expect females to fare differently with males from different time periods -- and indeed, they did, though the scientists were unclear about exactly how the males were harming the females.

Read more: http://www.foxnews.com/scitech/2011/06/20/time-traveling-sex-partners-may-be-bad-for-your-health-scientists-say/#ixzz1PpTBCeCS
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xx Re: Stuff & Nonsense
« Reply #4347 on: Jun 20th, 2011, 12:18pm »

on Jun 20th, 2011, 10:18am, Swamprat wrote:
Awwww,,,,,darn!!



Time-Traveling Sex Partners May Be Bad for Your Health, Scientists Say

Published June 20, 2011
FoxNews.com

User Image
Hans Hillewaert / Wikipedia
Artemia salina, or brine shrimp, frolic in a lab.


Michael J. Fox met his mother and endangered his own existence in the movie "Back to the Future."

She may have been more hazardous to his health than he realized.

Evolutionary ecologist Nicolas Rode of the Center for Functional and Evolutionary Ecology in Montpellier, France, and his colleagues discovered that mating with time-traveling partners can shorten one's lifespan, Discover Magazine noted.

The time-travelers in the study are brine shrimp (more commonly called Sea-Monkeys), because the hardy shrimp eggs can survive for years when dehydrated before hatching into healthy young when water returns. Rode and his colleagues gathered eggs from the Great Salt Lake in Utah from sediment layers they dated to 1985, 1996, and 2007. They brought them back to the lab, reared brine shrimp, and mated females with males from their own time as well as from the other years.

Rode and his colleagues discovered that having sex with males from another time is bad for a brine shrimp’s health. The further away in time they were, the sooner the female creatures died, Discover reported.

When the male traveled 22 years to mate with a female, her life was cut short on average by 12 percent.

Why? In many species, males and females have conflicting evolutionary interests. Males compete with each other to fertilize females, and evolve a variety of techniques to ensure success: They put scrapers into females to dump out the sperm from previous males, and they inject “anti-aphrodiasiacs” to make females unreceptive to other males. Females strive to live longer, despite these dangerous male devices.

If sexual conflict is an ongoing evolutionary process, you’d expect females to fare differently with males from different time periods -- and indeed, they did, though the scientists were unclear about exactly how the males were harming the females.

Read more: http://www.foxnews.com/scitech/2011/06/20/time-traveling-sex-partners-may-be-bad-for-your-health-scientists-say/#ixzz1PpTBCeCS


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« Reply #4348 on: Jun 20th, 2011, 12:46pm »

Watch this movie if you haven't already. It's still watchable for free until today.

Burzynski: Cancer Is Serious Business
http://vimeo.com/24821365
Business in every aspect I may add. rolleyes angry
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« Reply #4349 on: Jun 20th, 2011, 12:51pm »

A very touching story:

Dying Man's Final Wish to be Reunited With Dog

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(source: kcrg.com)

CEDAR RAPIDS, Iowa – A community came together to grant a homeless man his last wish. That dying wish was to see his dog one more time. It was a simple request, but one that meant the world to him in his final days.

People involved with the man’s last wish describe it as something they’ll never forget. Now that he’s gone, they’ll always cherish the memories of the man and his best friend.

“She is full of energy and just brings so much love and energy into the home,” said the dog’s new owner, Kate Ungs. Meet Yurtie, also known as Yurt. She is getting used to her new home, adopted by Kate and Eric Ungs of Marion. “When we first saw her online in the bio it said, has a very compelling story, but you know, at the time those were just words,” said Eric Ungs.

Yurt used to live with a homeless Cedar Rapids man, 57-year-old Kevin McClain, in his car. But a month ago he became ill with lung cancer.

Paramedics rushed him to Mercy Medical Center and later to Hospice House. Yurt went to the animal shelter.

“In the transition of moving him over from our ambulance cot to the bed, he told me, 'I have a dog,'” said Area Ambulance Service Paramedic Specialist Jan Erceg.

Yurt's shelter was the same shelter where Kevin’s paramedic, Erceg, also volunteered.

“He said her name is Yurt and at that moment, that was my Aha! moment,” Erceg said.

From the day Yurt and Kevin were separated, he asked to see her.

It was his dying wish.

...[/i]

Read the rest and watch the video here:
http://www.kcrg.com/news/local/Dying-Mans-Final-Wish-to-be-Reunited-With-Dog-124040304.html
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