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 veryhotthread  Author  Topic: Stuff & Nonsense  (Read 152776 times)
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« Reply #4395 on: Jun 25th, 2011, 12:39pm »

on Jun 25th, 2011, 12:29pm, Swamprat wrote:
OMG, I just threw up all over my shoes.....


Horse Semen Shots a Hit With Kiwi Connoisseurs

Published June 24, 2011
| FoxNews.com

Shots of horse-semen have reportedly become a hit in New Zealand this month as the country celebrates its 14th annual Monteith's Beer and Wild Food Challenge.

Chef Jason Varley of Wellington's Green Man Pub is topping his dish of seared Asian duck and paua spring rolls with a shot of Hoihoi tatea, better known in laymen's terms as horse semen. The drink was unveiled on June 3, and will only be served for a month during the festival, according to the pub's Facebook page.

Varley told The Dominion Post that the concoction was most popular amongst his lady customers and admits to having tried some himself, describing the taste as "like custard."

And he's not the first to serve it up, the newspaper reports that it previously appeared at the Hokitika Wild Foods Festival, and chef's pay around $15 per shot of the ingredient, which is legal to be sold for consumption as far as the New Zealand Food Standards Authority is concerned.

Read more: http://www.foxnews.com/leisure/2011/06/23/horse-semen-shots-hit-with-kiwi-connoisseurs/#ixzz1QJEPsF1O


aaaaaaaawwwwwwughhhhhhghhhhhghhhhhh!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! tongue embarassed undecided rolleyes shocked


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« Reply #4396 on: Jun 25th, 2011, 12:46pm »

Screen Rant

"Apollo 18" Trailer #2 Proves That Less Is More
Jun 25, 2011
by Sandy Schaefer

The second trailer for Apollo 18 is less revelatory and more effective than the first. Is there still hope for the the much-delayed sci-fi/horror "found footage" space flick?

The Timur Bekmambetov-produced "found footage" flick Apollo 18 originally made it onto our Top 20 Most Anticipated Movies of 2011 list, in large part due to its intriguing premise: That NASA has spent years covering up a secret mission to the moon, for mysterious and sinister reasons.

However, excitement for the project began to deflate upon the release of an Apollo 18 teaser trailer that most everyone agreed revealed far too much about the plot twists and turns in the sci-fi/horror film. Since then, the awkward release date shuffling and unofficial word about Apollo 18 being drastically re-edited in an attempt to salvage the project has suggested the final product may be kind of a mess.





Now a second theatrical trailer has at last been unveiled for Apollo 18 and, thankfully, it's much more clandestine and effective in design. In essence, this new preview amounts to the provocative sneak peek that the actual Apollo 18 teaser trailer should have been.

Here is the official synopsis for Apollo 18:

Officially, Apollo 17, launched December 17th, 1972 was the last manned mission to the moon. But a year later, in December of 1973, two American astronauts were sent on a secret mission to the moon funded by the US Department of Defense. What you are about to see is the actual footage which the astronauts captured on that mission. While NASA denies its authenticity, others say it's the real reason we've never gone back to the moon.

http://screenrant.com/apollo-18-teaser-trailer-2-sandy-121045/

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« Reply #4397 on: Jun 26th, 2011, 07:47am »

New York Times

June 25, 2011, 10:23 pm
Hacking Group Lulz Security Says It Is Ending Spree
By NICK BILTON

The Pirate BayLulz Security said in a statement posted online Saturday that it will stop its 50-day hacking spree.

10:26 p.m. | Updated Adding background on Ryan Cleary, whom the British police arrested this week and linked to Lulz Security.

Lulz Security, a group of hackers who have tormented corporations and government agencies, said Saturday that it would stop its spree, 50 days after it first started attacks.

In a statement posted on The Pirate Bay, a file-sharing Web site, the group said its six members had decided to “say bon voyage” as Lulz Security but did not cite a reason.

In addition, the group shared a number of files and documents it said were obtained in the course of its attacks. These files, which were available for download, included what appeared to be internal company documents from AT&T and user names and passwords from a number of other Web sites.

On its Twitter feed, the group’s members encouraged other hackers to continue attacking Web sites and government agencies and said they planned to stay involved in the efforts through Anonymous, another collective of rogue hackers.

Even assuming the statement speaks for what is a loose and anarchic group, the claim that it does not plan any more data breaches or other hacking efforts is open to question. Lulz Security has become known online for its sarcastic and snide commentary, and has continually promised to carry on.

It is unclear why the group decided to stop hacking under its current name. In a recent interview with Adrian Chen of Gawker, one the group’s members, who goes by the name “Topiary” online, said Lulz Security planned to continue its campaign for some time and said he had no fears of being apprehended by the authorities. “Worrying is for fools!” Topiary told Mr. Chen when asked if he feared being caught.

Lulz Security has been pursued by government agencies around the world, including the Federal Bureau of Investigation and Central Intelligence Agency. Other hackers were also taking aim at the group’s members, saying they had gone too far with their activities.

E-mail and phone messages seeking comment from F.B.I. officials drew no immediate response.

Earlier this week, the British police arrested Ryan Cleary, a 19-year-old, charging him with illegally using a computer to perform denial-of-service attacks — bombarding Web sites with so many automated messages that they shut down. One of Mr. Cleary’s targets was said to have been the British Serious Organized Crime Agency, an attack that Lulz Security took credit for.

Lulz Security has claimed responsibility for hacking a number of sites over the past two months, including PBS.org, the United States Senate, the Arizona Department of Public Safety and the Web site of a company associated with the Federal Bureau of Investigation.

Here is the full statement attributed to Lulz Security:

"Friends around the globe,

We are Lulz Security, and this is our final release, as today marks something meaningful to us. 50 days ago, we set sail with our humble ship on an uneasy and brutal ocean: the Internet. The hate machine, the love machine, the machine powered by many machines. We are all part of it, helping it grow, and helping it grow on us.

For the past 50 days we’ve been disrupting and exposing corporations, governments, often the general population itself, and quite possibly everything in between, just because we could. All to selflessly entertain others — vanity, fame, recognition, all of these things are shadowed by our desire for that which we all love. The raw, uninterrupted, chaotic thrill of entertainment and anarchy. It’s what we all crave, even the seemingly lifeless politicians and emotionless, middle-aged self-titled failures. You are not failures. You have not blown away. You can get what you want and you are worth having it, believe in yourself.

While we are responsible for everything that The Lulz Boat is, we are not tied to this identity permanently. Behind this jolly visage of rainbows and top hats, we are people. People with a preference for music, a preference for food; we have varying taste in clothes and television, we are just like you. Even Hitler and Osama Bin Laden had these unique variations and style, and isn’t that interesting to know? The mediocre painter turned supervillain liked cats more than we did.

Again, behind the mask, behind the insanity and mayhem, we truly believe in the AntiSec movement. We believe in it so strongly that we brought it back, much to the dismay of those looking for more anarchic lulz. We hope, wish, even beg, that the movement manifests itself into a revolution that can continue on without us. The support we’ve gathered for it in such a short space of time is truly overwhelming, and not to mention humbling. Please don’t stop. Together, united, we can stomp down our common oppressors and imbue ourselves with the power and freedom we deserve.

So with those last thoughts, it’s time to say bon voyage. Our planned 50 day cruise has expired, and we must now sail into the distance, leaving behind — we hope — inspiration, fear, denial, happiness, approval, disapproval, mockery, embarrassment, thoughtfulness, jealousy, hate, even love. If anything, we hope we had a microscopic impact on someone, somewhere. Anywhere.

Thank you for sailing with us. The breeze is fresh and the sun is setting, so now we head for the horizon.

Let it flow…

Lulz Security — our crew of six wishes you a happy 2011, and a shout-out to all of our battlefleet members and supporters across the globe."

http://bits.blogs.nytimes.com/2011/06/25/hacking-group-says-it-is-ending-spree/?hp

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« Reply #4398 on: Jun 26th, 2011, 07:51am »

Telegraph

Streets of London really are paved with gold

Following the "urban miner" who makes a living finding precious metals on the sidewalks of New York's "diamond district", the Telegraph went to see if the streets of London might also be paved with gold.

By Jasper Copping and Leah Farrar
7:45AM BST 26 Jun 2011

Dick Whittington was right. The streets of London really are paved with gold – and you can find it if you scrape hard enough.

The Sunday Telegraph has collected quantities of the precious metal from cracks in the pavements outside the capital's most famous jewellers.

Our quest was inspired by 43-year-old New Yorker Raffi Stepanian, who crawls around on the sidewalks of Manhattan's "diamond district" looking for chips of gemstones and tiny pieces of gold.

The "urban miner" claimed last week to have collected a haul worth roughly $1,000 (£620) over the course of a fortnight - mostly gold fragments which are thought to rub off the clothes or shoes of jewellery workers.

The pieces can be so small that they are only recoverable when Mr Stepanian pans the scraped-up dirt using a bowl of water, like a nineteenth-century prospector.

Armed with same equipment as Mr Stepanian – tweezers, butter knife and a plastic cup – we start to dig in Hatton Garden, the central London street that is home to dozens of jewellers.

The traders are initially suspicious and then – once appraised of our objective – sceptical.

They point out that they take precautions to prevent even tiny scraps of metal from being lost.

Workers who cut gold with power tools wear special aprons to collect fragments, their clothes are inspected at the end of shifts, and even the water they wash their hands in is collected in a tank from which gold can be retrieved.

Undeterred, we continue digging. The richest seam should be along the pavement kerbs, where a slight lip means that any detritus washed away by rain will be deposited. We also pick along cracks by doorsteps and under a bench.

Much of the street has been repaved by the local council in recent years and it is a depressing thought that the mother lode could have vanished in the tonnes of rubble taken away.

Of more immediate concern are the street cleaners who patrol frequently, innocently sweeping away rubbish that could contain riches.

A day's digging yields no obvious valuables, merely seven pints (three litres) - around 7lbs (3kg) - of what we hope will be paydirt. It includes soil, moss, used chewing gum and human hair.

For the next stage we employ the help of Malcolm Thomas, 67, president of the British Gold Panning Association, the 2007 world champion and three-time British champion.

The dirt is thoroughly soaked and shaken in a pan to get rid of soil and hair. The residue is tipped into a bowl of flowing water, which washes away lighter particles such as sand. Because gold is very heavy for its size, it will remain behind.

After around half an hour, we are left with collection of mysterious-looking specks in the bottom of the whirlpool.

But the material, weighing around a sixth of a grain (0.01g) is smaller than the gold flakes found by panners in streams and rivers and, as such, cannot be positively identified by Mr Thomas.

"It looks like gold and responds like gold. But I can't be sure," he says.

To find out for certain, we return to Hatton Garden. Yigal Tobi, a jeweller, examines it carefully through his loupe and gives the good news first. "You've got gold in there. There are multiple pieces."

And then the bad news: "But you're not going to make a lot of money from it."

Some of what we have left is simply grit. What gold there is, is in a form known as "lemel" – the dust-like substance produced by the machining of gold, which also contains impurities.

Gold can be recovered from it but the exact quantity and quality will only be known once it has been melted at more than 1,800 degrees F (1,000 degrees C) and then analysed, or "assayed". But even if all of our remaining material was pure gold, it still be would be worth less than 30p.

Our measly return - less than 0.0004oz (0.01g) of gold - compares with Mr Stepanian's apparent ratio of around one ounce (28g) of gold from the same amount of collected dirt.

Told of our results, Mr Stepanian said: "Maybe you should bring me to London to show you how to do it. If your streets have been repaved then any gold is most likely under whatever has been laid, unless the dirt was removed.

"Or maybe your jewellers are more careful than ours."

Mr Tobi has one other suggestion for striking gold, but it is even less appealing than the methods we have employed.

"The sewers. If there is gold in the street, there will be a lot more in there, where it has been washed away. That's where you will find your gold – a lot more."

http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/newstopics/howaboutthat/8598680/Streets-of-London-really-are-paved-with-gold.html

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« Reply #4399 on: Jun 26th, 2011, 07:54am »

LA Times

Attackers in uniform add to anxiety in Afghanistan

Foreign troops say they're increasingly concerned about the 'enemy within,' as deadly assaults by men who appear to be police or soldiers become more frequent.
But those Western personnel also stress the importance of keeping anxiety in check in a climate of deepening mutual distrust.

By Mark Magnier, Los Angeles Times
June 26, 2011
Reporting from Kabul, Afghanistan

In late May, a NATO soldier was killed as he emerged from his tent. Two weeks earlier, two NATO soldiers were killed while eating a meal. In late April, eight U.S. troops were shot dead at a meeting at Kabul airport.

The attacks had one thing in common: The killers all wore Afghan military or police uniforms.

Foreign troops serving in Afghanistan say they're increasingly concerned about the "enemy within." Yet they emphasize the importance of keeping anxiety in check amid a climate of deepening mutual distrust.

"You can't go out scared every day," said Sasha Navarro, an Air Force staff sergeant based at Camp Mike Spann in the northern province of Balkh. "You have to be confident in your training, and keep your head on a swivel."

Since March 2009, at least 57 foreign troops, including 32 Americans, have been killed in 19 attacks by Afghan service members. More than half occurred this year.

That has created something of a balancing act since President Obama's announcement that 33,000 U.S. troops are headed home by next summer: Protect yourself even as you engender the trust needed to transfer security to Afghan forces by 2014.

Maj. Gen. James Mallory, deputy commander for NATO training, said threats may include Taliban "sleeper" recruits who infiltrate the Afghan ranks; militants who use acquired uniforms to sneak onto bases; Afghan soldiers "turned" by blackmail, ideology or financial desperation; and stress-related cases in which a perceived insult or misunderstanding turns deadly.

Although the Taliban frequently claims responsibility for the attacks, fueling a myth of invincibility, the vast majority of cases involve stress or cultural differences, Mallory said.

"This is a society that for 30 years has been at war," he said. "Only now are we coming to terms with the effects of stress on the force."

Most Afghan and foreign troops get along well, he said, pointing out that the recent rise in killings dovetails with a proportionate rise in troops operating in the field.

Thomas Barfield, an anthropology professor at Boston University and author of a book on Afghanistan's cultural history, said the U.S.-Afghan cultural gap is enormous.

"It's like oil and water," said Barfield, who has been paying visits to the country since the 1970s. "Neither side knows what [angers] the other. American soldiers are fairly foul-mouthed. Afghans are from an honor-based society and feel disrespected."

A classified U.S. Army study based on 600 troop interviews, first reported in the Wall Street Journal, said "fratricide-murder" cases are provoking a crisis of confidence among Westerners working with Afghan forces. Recruits from the lower echelons of Afghan society are "somewhat prone to turning on and murdering their Western trainers," the report said.

Many Afghans interviewed for the report saw American troops as arrogant, culturally insensitive bullies who humiliated them by searching and disarming them in public and frequently violated women's privacy.

And American forces often characterized their Afghan counterparts as drug abusers and thieves who were also incompetent, corrupt and lazy with "repulsive hygiene."

Lt. Cmdr. Colette Murphy, spokeswoman for the NATO force in Afghanistan, said the report was systemically flawed and sensational, and relied on an inadequate sample, adding that "there will always be points of friction when cultures are forced to share close quarters and dangerous situations."

Despite Taliban boasts of responsibility, commanders in the North Atlantic Treaty Organization said there's little direct evidence of sleeper cells or even much infiltration.

Still, they have stepped up countermeasures, including tougher screening for new Afghan recruits using iris scans, fingerprinting, drug-testing and database searches. And they've stationed more U.S. counterintelligence experts in Afghanistan to work with Afghan experts adept at recognizing cultural cues.

These include requiring that two elders vouch for every potential recruit, ensuring that they are well-known in the community, and flagging behavioral changes, such as when a moderately religious Afghan soldier becomes more hostile toward foreigners after time off, when he is most likely to face Taliban pressure.

By claiming responsibility for uniformed attacks, militants accomplish several objectives, said Amanullah Mojadidi, 40, a Kabul-based artist trained in sociology who easily procured several police uniforms and recently set up a fake checkpoint for a video art installation on corruption.

The attacks stir up suspicion between Afghan and foreign forces, he said. They make the Afghan people distrust symbols of state authority. And they deter job-seekers from joining the uniformed services, because Afghan police or soldiers are so often victimized by those posing as uniformed security personnel.

"It's very effective," he said. "Fear is a very important tool."

Foreign troops say they are thinking more about using their weapons in unorthodox situations.

"How you draw your weapon when you're seated at a desk: They may not train on that on the ranges," Mallory said.

Navarro said she is more vigilant and avoids being the only foreigner among Afghans she does not know."It's all buddy teamed, now more so than ever," she said.

She also is careful to avoid aggressive language, exaggerated movements or body language that could be misinterpreted.

"I spend a lot of time observing rather than coming in and acting like I own the place," Navarro said. "No one likes that."

But critics say the measures fall short. Afghan databases aren't exhaustive or well integrated with NATO databases and corruption is endemic. Most Afghan applicants are not only illiterate, many can't even read numbers.

Another security problem is attacks by those who pretend to be genuine Afghan police and troops by acquiring uniforms, which have been highly accessible.

In recent weeks, Afghanistan's Interior Ministry has raided local bazaars selling police and army uniforms. But Aamoz Majidzaba, 29, a tailor at a bazaar in Kabul's old city, said the raids increase local distrust of police and the army. Several legitimate uniforms he was working on were taken without warning, he said, at significant personal cost.

"Meanwhile, Chinese-made uniforms imported by big contractors are frequently 'diverted,'" he said, "but they raid us, picking on the little guy."

Next door, stripes, military hats, epaulettes, badges and helmets are selling briskly, no questions asked, at $1 and up, and uniforms are still easy to find, if you know where to look.

"The price went up after the recent raids," said a Kabul driver. "They're now around $220 compared with $120 before."

Ultimately, the biggest victims of uniformed attacks are other Afghans.

"Of course I'm scared," said Sakhi Majjan Ahmadzai, 21, a recent army recruit having his uniform adjusted.

Recently on the main road between Lowgar and Paktia provinces near Ahmadzai's hometown, several men in army uniforms stopped a bus, warning of a Taliban checkpoint ahead.

Sixteen government workers and worried citizens got off. The "soldiers," who were actually Taliban, beheaded the 16.


http://www.latimes.com/news/nationworld/world/la-fg-afghanistan-enemy-within-20110626,0,740453.story

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« Reply #4400 on: Jun 26th, 2011, 07:58am »

Be back later...........


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« Reply #4401 on: Jun 26th, 2011, 11:44am »

Reuters

Brady Bunch mom got crabs in affair with NY mayor

By Dean Goodman
LOS ANGELES
Sat Jun 25, 2011 1:14pm EDT

LOS ANGELES, June 25 (Reuters) - This would have made an interesting episode of "The Brady Bunch."

Florence Henderson, the actress who played perky mom Carol Brady in the beloved family sitcom, says she once got crabs after a one-night-stand with career politician John Lindsay, who was the mayor of New York City at the time.

Henderson, now 77, recounts in her upcoming memoir that she was cheating on her husband during the 1960s, and gave in to her better judgment when her married and unattractive friend put the moves on her over drinks at the Beverly Hills Hotel.

"I was lonely. I knew it wasn't the right thing to do. So, what did I do? I did it," she writes in "Life is Not a Stage," set for publication in September.

Henderson went home later that night, and awoke to a grisly surprise the next day as she saw "little black things" crawling over her bed and body.

An urgent call to a doctor took care of the problem, known medically as pubic lice, and Lindsay sent her flowers and a note of apology.

"Guess I learned the hard way that crabs do not discriminate but cross over all socioeconomic strata," Henderson writes. "He must have had quite the active life. What a way to put the kibosh on a relationship."

Lindsay, who died in 2000, was was mayor of New York from 1966 to 1973. Before that, he was a U.S. congressman. He launched a brief bid for the Democratic presidential nomination in 1972. His wife of 51 years died in 2004.

Henderson is probably best known for her work on "The Brady Bunch," a comedy about a blended family that ran between 1969 and 1974 and remains popular worldwide.

But the book devotes only a chapter to that part of her life, and she shoots down the oft-told story that she had an off-screen affair with Barry Williams, who played her eldest teen-aged stepson, Greg Brady.

"Barry did have a serious crush on me, which I understood and helped him get past," Henderson writes. "Let us just say that if he had entertained a roll in the hay with me, I would never have done it."

The two, separated in age by 20 years, remain good friends to this day, she adds.

For the most part, the book focuses on Henderson's childhood in an abusive home, her struggles with papal edicts about birth control, her Broadway stardom, and her second marriage to her therapist. Co-written with Joel Brokaw, it will be published by Hachette's Center Street imprint on Sept. 20.

http://www.reuters.com/article/2011/06/25/people-henderson-idUSN1E75N1XG20110625

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« Reply #4402 on: Jun 26th, 2011, 12:15pm »

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« Reply #4403 on: Jun 26th, 2011, 8:41pm »

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A soldier in Iraq with his tiny 'plot' of grass in front of his tent.

A U.S. soldier in Iraq asked his wife to send him some U.S. soil, some fertilizer, and some grass seed so that he can have the sweet aroma, and the feel of grass beneath his feet. When the men of the squadron have a mission that they are going on, they take turns walking through the grass and the American soil -- to bring them good luck.

If you notice, he is even cutting the grass with a pair of scissors. Sometimes we are in such a hurry that we don't stop and think about the little things that we take for granted.

Upon reading this, say a little prayer for our soldiers that give and give so unselfishly for us.
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« Reply #4404 on: Jun 27th, 2011, 07:23am »

Thank you Swamprat for finding this article.


"A U.S. soldier in Iraq asked his wife to send him some U.S. soil, some fertilizer, and some grass seed so that he can have the sweet aroma, and the feel of grass beneath his feet. When the men of the squadron have a mission that they are going on, they take turns walking through the grass and the American soil -- to bring them good luck.

If you notice, he is even cutting the grass with a pair of scissors. Sometimes we are in such a hurry that we don't stop and think about the little things that we take for granted.

Upon reading this, say a little prayer for our soldiers that give and give so unselfishly for us."



And I'll add Please keep the troops and their families in your prayers.

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« Reply #4405 on: Jun 27th, 2011, 07:25am »

New York Times

June 27, 2011
Hague Court Issues Warrant for Qaddafi for War Crimes
By MARLISE SIMONS

PARIS — The International Criminal Court in The Hague issued arrest warrants on Monday for Col. Muammar el-Qaddafi , his son Seif al-Islam and his chief of intelligence, Abdullah Senussi on charges of crimes against humanity, including murder and persecution, stemming from the first two weeks of the uprising in Libya that led to a NATO bombing campaign.

At a 30-minute hearing, the presiding judge said that there were “reasonable grounds” to hold the three men criminally responsible for killing, injuring and imprisoning hundreds of civilians after demonstrations against the regime broke out in February throughout Libya.

The court said that Colonel Qaddafi and his son, who it described as the “de facto prime minister” intended to suppress all dissent and that this policy was implemented by Mr. Senussi, Colonel Qaddafi’s brother in law and “one of the most powerful and efficient instruments of repression of the Qaddafi regime.” The warrants were limited to events between February 15 and 18, before a full-scale conflict erupted between the Qaddafi regime and rebel forces.

Libya is not among the 115 countries that recognize the court and Libyan officials have said they would disregard any court action. But the charges against Libyan leaders also carry the weight of the United Nations Security Council which voted unanimously to instruct the court to investigate the crackdown against civilians.

The issuing of the arrest warrants immediately raised the issues of how — and if — the court could gain custody of the men without having police powers of its own.

Lawyers following the court argue that the shortest route would be for Libyan rebels to capture the suspects. Failing that, NATO, now in the 100th day of its air campaign against Colonel Qaddafi’s forces, could expand its mandate to include the arrest of the three Libyans. But any overt or covert operations to track down the suspects would require that NATO leaders revise their current policy of having limiting the alliance action to aerial attacks.

In the prosecutor’s office, there was a sense that the United Nations Security Council should find ways to help the court go beyond statements and mere threats of action.

But diplomats may oppose such a move on the grounds that they want to keep open the road to a political solution, as they did following the prosecution’s first request for the arrest warrants in May. Even so, Mr. Qaddafi and his inner circle have consistently resisted suggestions that they be given safe passage into exile abroad.

After 40 years in power, Colonel “Qaddafi has made clear his determination to hang on; it defies belief that his arrest warrant is an obstacle to a negotiated settlement of the Libya crisis,” said Richard Dicker, a director of Human Rights Watch.

But diplomats have also made it clear they see arrest warrants as useful tools against politicians identified as potential war criminals. Omar al-Bashir, the Sudanese president, who is wanted by the court on genocide charges, remains strong at home, but he has skipped a number of international meetings to avoid the possibility of arrest. Even leaders from countries friendly to Mr. Bashir have kept him away by saying envoys from other countries would stay away from gatherings if he were present.

http://www.nytimes.com/2011/06/28/world/africa/28libya.html?_r=1&ref=world

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« Reply #4406 on: Jun 27th, 2011, 07:28am »

Telegraph

UFOs spotted over London?

A video of bright disc-shaped objects dashing through the blue skies over central London has been posted on YouTube.

3:41PM BST 26 Jun 2011

The footage was filmed near the BBC Radio 1 building in Great Portland Street, and shows specks of white light flying at high altitude over the capital.

A larger object then emerges from behind a cloud before vanishing moments later.

The YouTube user who posted the clip online wrote: "Right – took over a week to get it ... but finally managed to get these critters on camera on a clear day, and even get a close-up.

"It seems to be attracting quite a crowd now when they appear. Can anyone explain what on earth these lights are please?"

A separate video posted by the same user, alymc01, is believed to have been shot from inside the offices of a visual effects company called The Mill. The firm creates special effects for the film industry.

Video after the jump
http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/newstopics/howaboutthat/ufo/8599547/UFOs-spotted-over-London.html

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« Reply #4407 on: Jun 27th, 2011, 07:31am »

Wired Danger Room

Marines Look for a Software Study Buddy
By Adam Rawnsley
June 27, 2011 | 7:00 am
Categories: Army and Marines


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Photo: USMC


The Defense Department has spent lots of times and money trying to get its many robots and software programs to learn like real humans. Now the Marines Corps is looking for a little help in return, hoping to make an automated program that can do some custom tutoring for troops in training.

Earlier this month, the Marine Corps Systems Command posted a solicitation for an Advanced Personal Learning Capability that can be used in Defense Department schools. The goal is to build a personalized learning associate (PLA) that can shepherd troops through different training regimens and help them learn better. Sure, there’s plenty of learning software on the market for all kinds of subjects. But the Marines are looking for something a little more sophisticated than just a Speak & Spell.

In particular, they want a tutoring capability that is smart enough to tailor its approach each student. That’s where the ”Intelligent Agent” (IA) — basically a software-generated teacher — comes in. The IA will form the basis of the personalized learning associate. It’s supposed to take a customized approach that fits the individual strengths, weaknesses and preferences of each learner. To do that, IA needs to do some learning itself. Once created, the IA will shift its approach to teaching and alter the material as it finds out more about how you cope with a curriculum. Feeling like your head’s going to explode from hitting the books for too long? Mr. IA needs to sense that and give you a study break. Is training moving a little too fast for you? IA will slow things down a bit.

For inspiration, the Marines point to the Department of Health & Human Services’ Head Start program. Designed to help educate low income children, Head Start teachers have a personalized approach to teaching student (.pdf). But if you want to know what the Marines’ tutoring device look like, Darpa’s prior work on the subject gives an idea of where the PLA is headed.

Darpa, the Defense Department blue sky research shop, has been hard at work on the muscularly-titled Education Dominance Program aimed at creating digital tutors for troops. It’s worked pretty well thus far, too. When researchers looked at students using Darpa’s digital tutors for Navy IT training last year, they found that those using Darpa’s digital study buddies learned “substantially more” (.pdf) and did so in a much shorter time period than other students.

It’s not Darpa’s only foray into digital learning. The Personalized Assistant that Learns (PAL) program worked along similar lines. Instead of helping students cram for training, PAL sought to help busy managers stay on top of their workload. Kicked off in 2003, PAL built a software-based personal assistant that would learn about your management style and triage meeting requests, filter email and draft responses to your messages based on your preferences. Both PAL and PLA followed the same principle: figure out how a customer deals with different kinds of information and adjust the flow of it accordingly.
The Marines’ proposal thus far only calls for some general research and prototyping so don’t expect graduate-level physics tutor any time soon. Middle school is closer to where they’ll be starting. They want to find a particularly good tutoring device designed to teach 6th through 9th graders math and then mesh it with some of the principles developed in Darpa’s Education Dominance program. One to two years after that, it’s on to the prototype stage.

In the meantime, you’re going to have look for help with your homework somewhere else.

http://www.wired.com/dangerroom/2011/06/marines-look-for-a-software-study-buddy/#more-50135

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« Reply #4408 on: Jun 27th, 2011, 07:39am »

Science Daily

In Search of the Memory Molecule, Researchers Discover Key Protein Complex
ScienceDaily (June 26, 2011)

Have a tough time remembering where you put your keys, learning a new language or recalling names at a cocktail party?
New research from the Lisman Laboratory at Brandeis University points to a molecule that is central to the process by which memories are stored in the brain.


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The CaMKII molecule has 12 lobes (6 are shown here), each of which has enzymatic activity.
This molecule can bind to the NMDA receptor, forming a complex.
The number of such complexes at the synapse may increase the amount of memory that can be stored.
(Credit: Neal Waxham)



A paper published in the June 22 issue of the Journal of Neuroscience describes the new findings.

The brain is composed of neurons that communicate with each other through structures called synapses, the contact point between neurons. Synapses convey electrical signals from the "sender" neuron to the "receiver" neuron. Importantly, a synapse can vary in strength; a strong synapse has a large effect on its target cell, a weak synapse has little effect.

New research by John Lisman, professor of biology and the Zalman Abraham Kekst chair in neuroscience, helps explain how memories are stored at synapses. His work builds on previous studies showing that changes in the strength of these synapses are critical in the process of learning and memory.

"It is now quite clear that memory is encoded not by the change in the number of cells in the brain, but rather by changes in the strength of synapses," Lisman says. "You can actually now see that when learning occurs, some synapses become stronger and others become weaker."

But what is it that controls the strength of a synapse?

Lisman and others have previously shown that a particular molecule called Ca/calmodulin-dependent protein kinase II (CaMKII) is required for synapses to change their strength. Lisman's team is now showing that synaptic strength is controlled by the complex of CaMKII with another molecule called the NMDAR-type glutamate receptor (NMDAR). His lab has discovered that the amount of this molecular complex (called the CaMKII/NMDAR complex) actually determines how strong a synapse is, and, most likely, how well a memory is stored.

"We're claiming that if you looked at a weak synapse you'd find a small number of these complexes, maybe one," says Lisman. "But at a strong synapse you might find many of these complexes."

A key finding in their experiment used a procedure that reduced the amount of this complex. When the complex was reduced, the synapse became weaker. This weakening was persistent, indicating that the memory stored at that synapse was erased.

The experiments were done using small slices of rat hippocampus, the part of the brain crucial for memory storage.

"We can artificially induce learning-like changes in the strength of synapses because we know the firing pattern that occurs during actual learning in an animal," Lisman says.

To prove their hypothesis, he explained, his team first strengthened the synapse, eventually saturating it to the point where no more learning or memory could take place. They then added a chemical called CN-19 to the synapse, which they suspected would dissolve the CaMKII/NMDAR complex. As predicted, it did in fact make the synapse weaker, suggesting the loss of memory.

A final experiment, says Lisman, was the most exciting: They started out by making the synapse so strong that it was "saturated," as indicated by the fact that no further strengthening could be induced. They then "erased" the memory with the chemical CN-19. If the "memory" was really erased, the synapse should no longer be saturated. To test this hypothesis, Lisman's team again stimulated the synapse and found that it could once again "learn." Taken together, these results demonstrated the ability of CN19 to erase the memory of a synapse -- a critical criterion for establishing that the CaMKII/NMDAR complex is the long sought memory storage molecule in the brain.

Lisman's team used CN19 due to previous studies, which indicate that the chemical could affect the CaMKII/NMDAR complex. Lisman's team wanted to show that CN19 would decrease the complex in living cells. Several key control experiments proved this to be the case.

"Most people accept that the change in the synapses that you can see under the microscope is the mechanism that actually occurs during learning," says Lisman. "So this paper will have a lot of impact -- but in science you still have to prove things, so the next step would be to try this in an actual animal and see if we can make it forget something it has previously learned."

Lisman says that if memory is understood at the biochemical level, the impact will be enormous.

"You have to understand how memory works before you can understand the diseases of memory."

Lisman assembled a large team to undertake this complex research. A key collaborator was Magdalena Sanhueza, who once worked with Dr. Lisman at Brandeis, and her student, German Fernandez-Villalobos, both now of the University of Chile, Department of Biology and Ulli Bayer of the University of Colorado Denver School of Medicine, Department of Pharmacology, who developed CN19, a particular form that could actually enter neurons.

Others involved include Nikolai Otmakhov and Peng Zhang from Brandeis and Gyulnara Kasumova, who worked in the Lisman laboratory for several years as an undergraduate. An additional group contributing to the work was that of Johannes Hell, Professor of Pharmacology at the UC Davis School of Medicine. He and his student, Ivar S. Stein, used immunoprecipitation methods to actually show that the CN19 had dissolved the CaMKII/NMDAR complex.

http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2011/06/110623130946.htm

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« Reply #4409 on: Jun 27th, 2011, 07:42am »

Hollywood Reporter

Warner Bros. to Pursue 'Green Lantern' Sequel
1:23 PM 6/26/2011
by Pamela McClintock

The studio won't walk away from the superhero franchise, despite the film’s soft box office performance.

Warner Bros. is already planning a sequel to Ryan Reynolds' superhero pic Green Lantern, despite the film’s soft performance at the box office.

Sources say Warners still believes in the franchise, even if the studio is “somewhat disappointed” with Green Lantern’s result.

Over the weekend, Green Lantern fell a steep 66% at the domestic box office, grossing $18.4 million for a cume of $89.3 million. That’s a big decline.

Warner Bros. president of domestic distribution Dan Fellman said the movie is settling in, pointing out that fanboy pics often see a significant drop-off in their second weekends.

Still, Green Lantern fell off more than recent superhero pics Thor and X-Men: First Class. Thor dropped 47% in its second weekend, while First Class dropped 56%.

Similar films that have seen the same sort of dip that Green Lantern did include Hulk, which dropped nearly 70% in its second outing.

Green Lantern cost $200 million to produce before a sizeable marketing spend (rival studios say it was one of the most expensive on record). Warners, preparing for the end of Harry Potter, needs new franchises, so was willing to invest big in Green Lantern.

A formidable obstacle standing in Green Lantern’s way now is Paramount’s Transformers: Dark of the Moon, which opens in theaters around the globe on Tuesday night.

http://www.hollywoodreporter.com/news/warner-bros-pursue-green-lantern-205703

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