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 veryhotthread  Author  Topic: Stuff & Nonsense  (Read 79744 times)
WingsofCrystal
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« Reply #4590 on: Jul 19th, 2011, 07:52am »

Geek Tyrant

New RISE OF THE PLANET OF THE APES Clip Introduced by Andy Serkis

Xavier Phoenix
18 July 2011

Ok, I'm officially convinced; this Rise of the Planet of the Apes is going to be amazing. Check out this extended clip which is introduced by Andy Serkis. Serkis plays the chimp Caeser, who is the star of this clip. We also see John Lithgow and James Franco. Here's the clip:

clip after the jump

I loved two things about this clip. The first was the acting (including Caeser). It appears that this movie is going to more than just an action flick, there is going to be some character and heart in it.

The second thing I loved was the CGI involved. WETA took the helm on this one. For those of you that don't know, WETA is the same group that did Avatar and will also be doing The Hobbit films.

Here's a synopsis of the film:

The Planet of the Apes franchise gets the origin treatment in this 20th Century Fox production from director Rupert Wyatt. The script, written by Amanda Silver and Rick Jaffa, concerns a group of American scientists whose genetic experiments lead to an uprising by a race of intelligent apes that they helped create. James Franco stars, with Freida Pinto and John Lithgow heading up the rest of the cast.

What do you guys think of the clip and what are your thoughts on the movie?

http://geektyrant.com/news/2011/7/18/new-rise-of-the-planet-of-the-apes-clip-introduced-by-andy-s.html

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« Reply #4591 on: Jul 19th, 2011, 11:12am »

Russia Launches Long-Delayed Deep Space Radio Telescope

By Peter B. de Selding
Published July 19, 2011
Space.com

Russia's long-delayed Spektr-R radio telescope successfully launched July 18 aboard a Zenit rocket from the Baikonur Cosmodrome in Kazakhstan, the country's Federal Space Agency said.

There was no immediate word on the operational status of the new radio observatory beyond the fact that it was placed into the planned elliptical orbit that peaks nearly 207,000 miles (330,000 kilometers) above the Earth, and reaches a low of about 621 miles (1,000 km).

Featuring a giant 30-foot (10-meter) wide antenna, the Spektr-R observatory is part of the international Radioastron astronomy project.

"The aim of the mission is to use the space telescope to conduct interferometer observations in conjunction with the global ground radio telescope network in order to obtain images, coordinates, motions and evolution of angular structure of different radio emitting objects in the universe," Federal Space Agency officials said in a statement. "Scientists also expect to obtain more information about pulsars and interstellar plasma, black holes and neutron stars in the Milky Way."

Scientists from more than 20 nations, including the United States, are participating in the project, either through contributions of on-board hardware or access to the terrestrial antennas that, working with Spektr-R, will permit interferometry measurements during the observatory's planned five years of operations.

Copyright © 2011 Space.com. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

Read more: http://www.foxnews.com/scitech/2011/07/19/russia-launches-long-delayed-deep-space-radio-telescope/#ixzz1SYkPMHhG

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« Reply #4592 on: Jul 19th, 2011, 12:34pm »

on Jul 19th, 2011, 11:12am, Swamprat wrote:
Russia Launches Long-Delayed Deep Space Radio Telescope

By Peter B. de Selding
Published July 19, 2011
Space.com

Russia's long-delayed Spektr-R radio telescope successfully launched July 18 aboard a Zenit rocket from the Baikonur Cosmodrome in Kazakhstan, the country's Federal Space Agency said.

There was no immediate word on the operational status of the new radio observatory beyond the fact that it was placed into the planned elliptical orbit that peaks nearly 207,000 miles (330,000 kilometers) above the Earth, and reaches a low of about 621 miles (1,000 km).

Featuring a giant 30-foot (10-meter) wide antenna, the Spektr-R observatory is part of the international Radioastron astronomy project.

"The aim of the mission is to use the space telescope to conduct interferometer observations in conjunction with the global ground radio telescope network in order to obtain images, coordinates, motions and evolution of angular structure of different radio emitting objects in the universe," Federal Space Agency officials said in a statement. "Scientists also expect to obtain more information about pulsars and interstellar plasma, black holes and neutron stars in the Milky Way."

Scientists from more than 20 nations, including the United States, are participating in the project, either through contributions of on-board hardware or access to the terrestrial antennas that, working with Spektr-R, will permit interferometry measurements during the observatory's planned five years of operations.

Copyright © 2011 Space.com. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

Read more: http://www.foxnews.com/scitech/2011/07/19/russia-launches-long-delayed-deep-space-radio-telescope/#ixzz1SYkPMHhG



Great...........we're mothballed and Russia screams on out there into the Universe.

Crystal


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« Reply #4593 on: Jul 20th, 2011, 07:49am »

Washington Post

Two charged in Pakistani spy services’ alleged funneling of money via U.S. group
By Dan Eggen, Published: July 19

Pakistani intelligence services have secretly spent millions of dollars through a front group over the past 20 years to lobby Congress and the White House and funnel contributions to members of both parties, according to Justice Department charges unveiled Tuesday.

The center of the alleged scheme was the Kashmiri American Council and its executive director, Syed Ghulam Nabi Fai, who is accused in federal court documents of acting under the direct supervision of Inter-Services Intelligence, or ISI, Pakistan’s spy agency.

The allegations come at a time of deteriorating relations between the Obama administration and the Pakistani government, which is angry about secret U.S. operations that led to the killing of al-Qaeda leader Osama bin Laden. Pakistan has kicked out more than 100 U.S. military advisers in recent weeks, while the Obama administration announced it is delaying $800 million in military aid.

A criminal complaint filed in Alexandria against Fai and a second defendant, Zaheer Ahmad, outlines a long-running and elaborate plot in which Pakistani intelligence officials exercised de facto control over the Kashmiri council, which sponsored well-attended conferences in Washington, organized congressional trips to Kashmir and met with State Department and White House officials.

In total, the FBI estimates that the group received up to $700,000 per year from Pakistani government sources, according to the complaint. The nonprofit group reported much smaller budgets in its annual reports to the Internal Revenue Service.

Prosecutors also allege that the group served as a conduit for political contributions, both secret and public, that may have reached $100,000 per year. The biggest single recipient of disclosed contributions was Rep. Dan Burton (R-Ind.), a longtime pro-Pakistani advocate on Kashmir, who expressed shock Tuesday at Fai’s arrest.

Fai, 62, and Ahmad, 63, both of whom are U.S. citizens, were charged Tuesday with acting as agents of a foreign government without registering with the Justice Department as required by law. If convicted, they would face up to five years in prison.

Fai was arrested at his Fairfax home Tuesday morning and was ordered to remain in jail pending a detention hearing Thursday. Ahmad is believed to be living in Pakistan and remains at large, U.S. officials said.

The Pakistani embassy in Washington declined to comment on the case. “Mr. Fai is not a Pakistani citizen, and the government and embassy of Pakistan have no knowledge of the case against him,” an embassy spokesman said.

The charges allege a particularly brazen case of foreign influence-peddling, which is heavily regulated under U.S. laws aimed at limiting propaganda by overseas nations or companies. Foreign nationals are strictly prohibited from spending money on U.S. elections.

The case also suggests an aggressive effort by Pakistan to beef up its influence in Washington, particularly in connection with the longstanding conflict with India over Kashmir. India has long had a formidable lobbying presence in Washington, and its supporters wield significant clout when it comes to campaign contributions to members of Congress.

One informant told the FBI that Fai was handpicked to head the Kashmiri council by ISI, which provided “verbatim” statements that were disseminated by the group. The council was created “to propagandize on behalf of the Government of Pakistan with the goal of uniting Kashmir,” the informant said.

The Kashmiri council is perhaps best known for organizing an annual Kashmir Peace Conference on Capitol Hill. Although billed as independent, speakers and materials for the event were actually approved by the Pakistani government, according to the criminal complaint.

“This is essentially the uncovering of an illegal influence operation that’s been going on for decades here in Washington, with Pakistani fingerprints all over it,” said Daniel Markey, a senior fellow for India, Pakistan and South Asia at the Council on Foreign Relations. “They are relatively prominent lobbying faces in the small community of people who follow Kashmir.”

Markey said officials in Islamabad will likely view the charges as retaliation for Pakistani criticism of U.S. spying efforts there. The State Department declined to comment on the timing of the case, which has been under investigation for years.

The charges come at a particularly sensitive time for U.S.-Pakistan relations, as the two governments struggle to smooth over tensions that flared after the May 2nd raid that killed bin Laden in the northwest Pakistani garrison town of Abbottabad. The killing, and the months of secret preparations that preceded it, have riled public opinion in Pakistan over the presence of U.S. agents inside the country.

Pakistani spy chief Lt. Gen. Ahmed Shuja Pasha, who heads the ISI, was in Washington last week to visit with acting CIA director Michael Morell. Gen. David Petraeus, the outgoing U.S. commander in Afghanistan who will soon be heading the CIA, also visited Islamabad last week as part of ongoing talks over the tensions.

Kashmir, an overwhelmingly Muslim region, is divided between India and Pakistan and claimed as rightful territory by both countries. The two nations, both nuclear powers, have fought three wars over the region since gaining independence from Great Britain in 1947.

Federal Election Commission records show that Fai and Ahmad have donated at least $30,000 to campaigns and political parties, including a $250 donation from Fai to President Obama two days before the November 2008 election. An aide for Obama’s 2012 reelection campaign said the contribution would be returned.

The biggest beneficiaries were the National Republican Senatorial Committee, which received $9,500 from Fai, and Burton, who received about $10,000 from Fai and Ahmad since 1997, FEC records show.

Burton is founder of the House Kashmiri caucus and has traveled to the region on trips sponsored by Fai’s group. He has long advocated for a settlement to the conflict that would favor Pakistan over India.

Burton said in a statement Tuesday that he has known Fai for 20 years and was “deeply shocked” by his arrest. Burton said he will donate any illegal contributions to the Boy Scouts of America.

“I had no inkling of his involvement with any foreign intelligence operation and had presumed our correspondence was legitimate,” Burton said. “For as long as I’ve known him, Dr. Fai has been either a permanent legal resident of the United States or a citizen, and as such any political contributions I may have received from Dr. Fai over the years are completely legal.”

Fai adamantly denied any wrongdoing in letters and e-mails sent last year to the Justice Department, which had warned him of the need to register under the Foreign Agents Registration Act if he was acting on behalf of a foreign power. Indian press reports had emerged claiming that he was a Pakistani agent.

“KAC or I have never engaged in any activities or provided any services to a foreign entity,” Fai wrote to Justice officials in April 2010. “And KAC or I have never had any written or oral agreements with Pakistan or any other foreign entity.”

But in an affidavit filed with Tuesday’s complaint, FBI agent Sarah Webb Linden wrote that Fai “has acted at the direction and with the financial support of the Government of Pakistan for more than 20 years.”

No one answered the door Tuesday evening at Fai’s home in Fairfax, an elaborately landscaped brick house set back from the street in a quiet suburban neighborhood near the Fair Oaks section of the county. A gold minivan parked in the long driveway had a vanity plate with the word “Muzamil,” a common Islamic name.


Staff writers Caitlin Gibson and Jason Ukman and staff researcher Lucy Shackelford contributed to this report

http://www.washingtonpost.com/politics/two-charged-in-pakistani-spy-services-alleged-funneling-of-money-via-us-group/2011/07/19/gIQAbVTmOI_story.html

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« Reply #4594 on: Jul 20th, 2011, 08:00am »

Vancouver Sun

Canada and US scientists meet to study microbialites, remants of early life forms, at BC's Kelly Lake

Canadian, U.S. scientists search waters of Cariboo lake, which holds potential clues to life on Mars

By Larry Pynn, Vancouver Sun
July 20, 2011

KELLY LAKE — Long before scientists and astronauts from NASA and the Canadian Space Agency descended on the B.C. Cariboo in search of microbialites — a potential clue to life on Mars — there were Doug Pemberton and the Vancouver Pescaderos Dive Club.

It was a hot day in the mid-1980s when Pemberton and his club were driving home from a dive with the migrating sockeye at Adams Lake.

“It was stinkin’ hot and we thought, ‘Let’s go for a swim somewhere.’ We pulled over and jumped in the water.”

They’d picked Pavilion Lake, midway between Cache Creek and Lillooet, and soon discovered something strange in the water.

One member said, “Hey, there’s coral growing here.”

“‘What are you talking about?’” Pemberton recalled saying.

“No, really, there’s coral.”

They returned to their vehicle, got out their scuba gear and went for a dive to a depth of close to 20 metres.

“Holy crap, it looked like brain coral,” Pemberton concluded.

He said the club took some samples and sent them to the University of B.C. “to a freshwater biologist or something” for identification, but got back a rather deflating letter. “He seemed to think that they were just calcium carbonate. So we left it at that.”

Several years later, all that changed.

The scientific community realized there was, indeed, something very important about those formations in Pavilion Lake.

“All of a sudden it was life on Mars and all this kind of stuff,” said Pemberton, who is vice-president of the Artificial Reef Society of B.C. “I said, ‘What are you guys talking about?’”

The structures found by Pemberton and the Pescaderos were, in fact, calcium carbonate, but also contained single-celled microbes, which makes the structures different from lifeless stalactites or stalagmites found in caves.

Microbialites represent some of the earliest remnants of life on Earth, common 540 million to 2.5 billion years ago.

Today, they are found in environments often too harsh for most organisms, which makes those at Pavilion Lake, as well as Kelly Lake — 20 kilometres to the northwest, and the current focus of scientific research starting this week — so interesting.

Years after the Pescaderos divers’ find, the official “discovery” of microbialites at Pavilion Lake was announced in a paper in the journal Nature, in October 2000, based on the exploratory work of Harry Bohm, then of the underwater research lab at Simon Fraser University, and John Pollack, a Nelson-based surveyor and Explorers Club member affiliated with the Underwater Archaeological Society of B.C.

“Pavilion is a classic case of a major discovery hiding in plain sight for decades,” said Pollack.

NASA and several academic institutions in the U.S. and Canada participated in that paper and the official identification of the microbialites.

“I guess it just depends how curious you are to follow up on something,” offered Darlene Lim, a NASA research scientist specializing in freshwater systems. “It really is an interesting story of exploration.”

When Lim joined NASA in 2004, she was tasked with revisiting Pavilion Lake. Researchers scoured all lakes within a 30-kilometre radius of Pavilion Lake that year but could only confirm more microbialites at Kelly Lake.

With funding from NASA and the Canadian Space Agency, scientists conducted research at Pavilion Lake from 2008 to 2010, using two submersibles to go where scuba divers could not. Pavilion Lake is 65 metres deep and located at an elevation of more than 800 metres, factors that impose limitations on divers.

Starting this week at Kelly Lake, a 15-minute drive west of Clinton, scientists are continuing their research into whether microbes or chemical reactions are responsible for creating the coral-like structures. One possibility, Lim explains, is that cyanobacteria that obtain their energy through photosynthesis are responsible by “forcing out the precipitation of calcium carbonate.”

Studies of the structures so far suggest evidence of biological influence on the surface, “but as you go lower, deeper into the structures, that biosignature disappears. It’s still outstanding what the dominant mechanism was that created these structures over time.”

The research has direct relevance to the potential discovery of microbialites in space, including asteroids en route to Mars — and whether they could hold evidence of life.

“Where did these microbialites come from, what’s their interaction with time, the role with groundwater, all kinds of questions,” said U.S. astronaut Mike Gernhardt, who is making his fourth visit to B.C.’s Cariboo — the same number of times he’s been in space. “On one dive I found a huge microbialite, totally inconsistent with what people thought the growth rates could be and the age of the lake. It had been nucleated on this huge rock. It was 30 feet long and 25 feet high, and looked like a big bunch of bananas.”

He added: “There’s all these lakes in the world, why these ones with microbialites? There’s only a few places in the world where they’ve found them, and here they’re just abundant.

http://www.vancouversun.com/technology/space-shuttle/Canada+scientists+meet+study+microbialites+remants+early+life+forms/5128834/story.html

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« Reply #4595 on: Jul 20th, 2011, 08:04am »

Wired

The Incredible Things NASA Did to Train Apollo Astronauts
By Betsy Mason
July 20, 2011 | 7:00 am
Categories: Space


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The Apollo 14 flight crew practices planting the flag during a lunar walk simulation.


On the anniversary of the first man on the moon, and with the final space shuttle mission set to end Thursday, Wired.com takes a look back at the extraordinary amount of training astronauts go through before they are mission ready.

Apollo astronauts practiced every second of their mission, even planting the flag (above), many times, indoors, outdoors, in space suits, underwater, in planes, in centrifuges, in pools, in the ocean and anywhere else NASA saw fit. They were prepared for every contingency and trained for water planned landings as well as desert and jungle survival in case their capsule missed the ocean and hit land. They learned geology, how to withstand g-forces, maneuver in low- and zero-gravity conditions, and how to drive electric rovers and land the lunar module.

Here are some of the most memorable photos of the rigorous Apollo astronaut training from NASA's image archive.

gallery after the jump
http://www.wired.com/wiredscience/2011/07/moon-landing-gallery/

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« Reply #4596 on: Jul 20th, 2011, 08:08am »

Hollywood Reporter

Captain America: The First Avenger: Film Review
5:03 AM 7/20/2011
by Kirk Honeycutt

Sticking to its simplistic, patriotic origins, where a muscular red, white and blue GI slugging Adolf Hitler in the jaw is all that’s required.

If you take a World War II movie, dial up the action with contemporary visual effects and CGI, then give your hero a double dose of steroids and human growth hormones, you wind up in the movie/comic-book world of Captain America: The First Avenger. The movie is, of course, Marvel Comics' and Paramount’s filmization of Joe Simon and Jack Kirby’s Super Soldier series that first appeared in comic books in March 1941, well before Pearl Harbor, so understandably this is one superhero movie that demands that the first movie at least be a period one. So you get an alternative WWII, say like Quentin Tarantino’s Inglourious Basterds only without all that dialogue and enough oversized vehicles and outlandish sets to fit its beefcake hero.

Captain America delivers comic-book action that should satisfy Captain America’s fans, old and new, while Chris Evans’ no-nonsense yet engaging portrayal of a man who doesn’t know how to back away from a fight may cause young women to swoon and young men to join a gym. Yet the film will leave others wondering, especially following the film’s long gestation and marketing build-up, “Is this all there is?”

For in terms of even recent films, Captain America lacks the deft touch, appealing character interaction and sophisticated storytelling skills of Marvel Comics’ X-Men: First Class. And let’s not even bother to compare this to Christopher Nolan’s Batman series.

Sticking to its simplistic, patriotic origins, where a muscular red, white and blue GI slugging Adolf Hitler in the jaw is all that’s required, Captain America trafficks in red-blooded heroes, dastardly villains, classy dames and war-weary military officers. There is no ambiguity here. Nor does any superhero question his powers. No, sir, not in this war and not with these determined heroes.

While bracketed by a modern-day sequence, the movie otherwise takes place in a heightened rendering of the early days of the fight against Nazi Germany. Brooklyn’s Steve Rogers (Evans), son of a dead war hero, repeatedly tries to enlist in the military but his physical condition is pure 4F.

In perhaps the movie’s best or at least weirdest visual effect, Evans’ face sits atop an unbelievably scrawny body that recruiting sergeants shoo away until German-American scientist Dr. Erskine (Stanley Tucci with the phoniest of accents) sees something special in the young man. Col. Chester Phillips (Tommy Lee Jones, having a fine time) dismisses Steve as a “90-pound asthmatic,” not without justification. But the minute Dr. Erskine performs a “procedure” on Steve — with equipment that looks like it was left over from Bride of Frankenstein—suddenly Steve is buff and fast healing, in fact, nearly impossible to injure. Moments after his rebirth, he faces his first test as he races barefoot through Manhattan streets circa 1942 to take down a Nazi spy. This feat more than catches the eye of British military liaison Peggy Carter (Hayley Atwell), not to mention the press.

An overnight media sensation, the military doesn't know what to do with Steve other than send him— shades of Flags of Our Fathers— on a bond-raising tour as the newly dubbed Captain America. When the tour takes him to Europe, he breaks out of the carnival show long enough to save the lives of nearly 400 GIs including his Brooklyn buddy Bucky Barnes (Sebastian Stan). This rescue cues a new assignment for Captain America.

Steve is now point man for Col. Phillips’ team in Strategic Scientific Research, along with the redoubtable Peggy Carter and inventor Howard Stark (Dominic Cooper), in taking on the Hydra organization, a Nazi science division that is even worse than the Nazis. In fact, it’s more like a worldwide criminal organization out of the James Bond era, intent on world conquest and more than willing to kill fellow Nazis. Everyone associated with this evil group shouts not “Heil Hitler” but “Heil Hydra.”

It’s run by the mad scientist Red Skull (go-to villain guy Hugo Weaving), whose red face may be the result of an experiment gone horribly wrong or just pain embarrassment at the Nazi clichés he is forced to play. He even listens to the soothing strains of Richard Wagner. Yes, he does.

Caught between contemporary tent-pole movie making and a period piece, the movie keeps featuring very odd visual anachronisms. You might accept the battles that feature sci-fi weapons along side vintage WWII arms but what to make of the Hydra soldiers’ Darth Vader costumes, those weird planes, cars and a submarine that maneuver within 1943’s earth, sky and sea and, most alarming of all, that red dress Peggy wears in the battle zone. It’s a knock-‘em-dead outfit that may be a special weapon all its own.

Director Joe Johnston makes certain that amid all the retro-futuristic nonsense his nucleus of actors playing SSR heroes fits well together. Evans nicely underplays the role, giving a Gary Cooper-ish air to the young hero who just wants to do the right thing. Atwell is a perfect throwback to that era: Darkly gorgeous yet tough as nails, she would look just at home painted on a bomber fuselage as she is slugging a solider who gives her lip.

Jones knows how to make every moment of screen time count with these grumpy and gruff characters he now plays, but Stan and Cooper aren’t so lucky: Their characters came out a little too thin in Christopher Markus and Stephen McFeely‘s screenplay. Meanwhile, Weaving is very one-notish as the villain, which leaves it to Toby Jones, as his sidekick, to add a little nuance to Nazi villainy.

The tech team brilliantly supports the comic-book action without any single department showing off or adding unnecessary flourishes. A special tip of the hat here to Anna B. Sheppard’s costumes and Rick Heinrichs’ production design for maintaining enough period flavor so the production doesn’t go too overboard.

Oh yes, this film is yet another summer fantasy in 3D in certain theaters. For some sequences, the format works well enough but it’s hardly worth the extra expenditure. This gimmick is truly running out of steam.

Opens: July 22 (Paramount Pictures)

Production companies: Paramount Pictures and Marvel Entertainment present a Marvel Studios production

Cast: Chris Evans, Tommy Lee Jones, Hugo Weaving, Hayley Atwell, Dominic Cooper, Toby Jones, Neal McDonough, Derek Luke, Stanley Tucci.

Director: Joe Johnston

Screenwriters: Christopher Markus, Stephen McFeely

Based on the comic books created by: Joe Simon, Jack Kirby

Producer: Kevin Feige

Executive producers: Louis D’Esposito, Joe Johnston, Nigel Gostelow, Alan Fine, Stan Lee, David Maisel

Director of photography: Shelly Johnson

Production designer: Rick Heinrichs

Music: Alan Silvestri

Costume designer: Anna B. Sheppard

Editors: Jeffrey Ford, Robert Dalva

PG-13 rating, 122 minutes

http://www.hollywoodreporter.com/review/captain-america-first-avenger-film-213287

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« Reply #4597 on: Jul 20th, 2011, 08:14am »

AZ Central

Arizona now can build border fence

by Alia Beard Rau
July 20, 2011 12:00 AM
The Arizona Republic


Supporters of increased border enforcement now can help Arizona build its own fence along the Mexico border.

A new law went into effect today that allows the state to build the fence, as long as it can raise enough private donations and persuade public and private landowners to let it be done on their property. A new website for the effort, www.buildtheborderfence.com, was set to go online at midnight.

No other state has tried such a tactic.

Sen. Steve Smith, R-Maricopa, who sponsored the legislation, hopes to raise at least $50 million from donors across the nation.

"Donate to the country's security," Smith said. "This is an American problem, not an Arizona problem."

State lawmakers who supported the law have said they want a consistent fence along the entire border that is solid, has multiple layers and is tall enough to keep out pedestrians. Smith said the effort also could include more high-tech security efforts.

The state's southern border is about 370 miles long. About a third of that, mostly in the western part of the state between Yuma and Nogales, has the type of fence lawmakers want. The rest either has no fencing or has fencing designed to keep out vehicles. In that part of the state, the fence is only a few feet tall and is made of barbed wire or wooden posts. Smith said most illegal immigrants cross into the eastern part of Arizona over that more porous border.

According to a 2009 U.S. Government Accountability Office report, it has cost the federal government about $3 million a mile to build the type of fence that would keep pedestrians out.

Smith said Arizona's final cost would depend on what kind of a fence is constructed and whether the state can get private companies to donate some of the construction supplies. State lawmakers have said they could save money by using inmate labor to build the fence.

The effort doesn't have official non-profit status for tax purposes, but Smith said the website has a letter from the state consular general stating that there is precedent in Arizona that donations to a state or political subdivision are tax deductible.

"We aren't taking an official position on that, but consult your tax professional," Smith said. "Take that letter to your accountant."

The Legislature's Joint Border Security Advisory Committee, on which Smith serves, will determine what type of fence will be built and then manage construction.

Getting permission from landowners will determine where the fence can be built.

Much of the Arizona border is on federal land or Indian reservations, with small portions belonging to private landowners. Smith said the easiest solution would be for the federal government to give permission to build the fence within its 60-foot easement along the border.

"Let's hope the federal government will allow us to do it," Smith said. "But if they say no, we have a contingency."

Smith said he already has begun talking to private landowners and has support from several to build on their property, even if it means the fence has to go miles north of the border.

"We've identified three highly trafficked areas that are notorious that we have pretty good access to," he said. "And as we continue to raise awareness and funds, I hope the federal government says, 'Go ahead and build whatever you want to build.'"

The Sierra Club opposes the law. It says Arizona already has more border walls than any other state and that the walls have caused flooding in some areas and have blocked wildlife in other areas.

"Arizona has been slammed by federally imposed, ineffective walls that cost taxpayers millions per mile," said Dan Millis, program coordinator for the Sierra Club borderlands campaign, in a media release. "Donations toward more border walls will not provide much bang for the buck."

http://www.azcentral.com/news/election/azelections/articles/2011/07/20/20110720arizona-border-fence.html#ixzz1SePvX57w

Crystal

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« Reply #4598 on: Jul 20th, 2011, 11:08am »

Tiny New Moon Found Circling Distant Pluto
Published July 20, 2011
| Space.com

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NASA, ESA, and A. Feild (STScI)
Illustration of the Pluto Satellite System orbits with newly discovered moon P4 highlighted.


A tiny new moon has been discovered around Pluto, the fourth and smallest one yet found orbiting the dwarf planet, photos from the Hubble Space Telescope reveal.

The moon, which has been temporarily named P4, was spotted in a Hubble survey searching for rings around Pluto.

The tiny satellite is estimated to be between 8 and 21 miles (13 to 34 kilometers) wide. For comparison, Pluto's largest moon Charon is 648 miles (1,043 km) across. The dwarf planet's other moons, Nix and Hydra, range between 20 to 70 miles across (32 to 113 km).

Pluto's new moon is located between the orbits of Nix and Hydra, which Hubble also discovered in 2005. Charon was discovered in 1978 at the U.S. Naval Observatory and was first resolved using Hubble in 1990 as a separate body from Pluto.

The finding is a result of ongoing work to support NASA's New Horizons mission, which is scheduled to fly through the Pluto system in 2015. The mission is designed to provide new insights about worlds at the edge of our solar system.

"This is a fantastic discovery," said New Horizons' principal investigator Alan Stern of the Southwest Research Institute in Boulder, Colo. "Now that we know there's another moon in the Pluto system, we can plan close-up observations of it during our flyby."

P4 was first seen in a photo taken with Hubble's Wide Field Camera 3 on June 28. It was confirmed in subsequent Hubble pictures taken on July 3 and July 18. The moon was not seen in earlier Hubble images because the exposure times were shorter.

Read more: http://www.foxnews.com/scitech/2011/07/20/tiny-new-moon-found-circling-distant-pluto/#ixzz1Sf4nsnBm

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« Reply #4599 on: Jul 20th, 2011, 6:29pm »

New tiny moon named P4

That is exciting. Wonder what they will name it?

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« Reply #4600 on: Jul 20th, 2011, 6:32pm »

.





Uploaded by ohduniakutv on Jul 20, 2011

[+] http://ohduniaku.com - SPEECHLESS!! A film shot by an Australian changed the views about the bravery of dogs. The film included pictures and videos of a fight between his personal guard dog and a shark. The shocking video rolls surely upturned the thinking of many people. Video) Dog Bite Shark - AMAZING ATTACK

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« Reply #4601 on: Jul 21st, 2011, 06:27am »

LA Times

Space shuttle Atlantis landing brings 30-year program to a close

By Scott Powers, Orlando Sentinel
July 21, 2011, 3:14 a.m.

CAPE CANAVERAL – Atlantis' landing in the faintest glimmer of dawn this morning ended the flawless final mission of NASA's space shuttle program and gave way to NASA's new era of uncertainty, with no more manned space flight launches for many years.



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Space shuttle Atlantis sits on the runway shortly after landing at Kennedy Space Center to conclude 30 years and 135 missions of the space shuttle program.
(Red Huber, Orlando Sentinel)



With Commander Chris Ferguson at the helm, Atlantis touched down at Kennedy Space Center at 5:57 a.m. in perfect, cloudless, windless weather. When its wheels stopped a minute later NASA saluted 30 years of triumph and tragedy for a shuttle program that has kept the United States at the forefront of manned space flight since 1981, but is over.

"The space shuttle changed the way we view the world and changed the way we view the universe," Ferguson said. "We have emotion today but one thing is indisputable: America is not going to stop exploring.

"Thank you Columbia, Challenger, Discovery, Endeavour and our ship Atlantis," Ferguson continued, acknowleging the other orbiters. "Thank you for protecting us and bringing this program to such a fitting end. God bless all of you. God bless the United States of America."

The mission, Atlantis' 33rd and the shuttle program's 135th, carried a year's worth of supplies to the International Space Station. It equipped and stocked that space lab to become the new centerpiece of NASA's manned space flight program until the agency can develop the deep-space rockets it wants. That could take a decade or more.

The $100 billion station, with a six-member international crew (currently three Russians, two Americans and one Japanese,) has been the crowning achievement of the shuttles first launched in April 1981 as a do-all space truck, capable of science, military, commercial and exploration missions.

The program has experienced triumphs and tragedies. The five shuttles launched satellites and space probes; deployed some of the mankind's great observatories, including the Hubble Space Telescope; and served as a platform for fixing satellites, including Hubble, and for countless scientific experiments and secret military projects.

They also brought heartbreak. In 1986 Challenger exploded shortly after liftoff, killing seven astronauts, and in 2003 Columbia broke up re-entering the Earth's atmosphere, also killing seven astronauts.

"It's been an extraordinary spacecraft," said Marion Blakey, president of the Aerospace Industries Association "And I think it's fair to say has pioneered work in a variety of areas beyond simply accomplishing what is an extraordinary feat, that is building the International Space Station."

Now with Atlantis joining Discovery and Endeavour in retirement, NASA faces its uncertain future. NASA officials contend the space station is its focus, but it no longer has space ships to take anyone there. NASA is counting on Russian Soyuz spacecraft and eventually on private spacecraft from here on.

And the agency's longer term goals are both many years away and shrouded by uncertainty. Plans to replace the shuttle with new rockets that can carry astronauts to the moon, asteroids and Mars are beset by budget and design issues. The commercial rocket companies are making progress, but also face uncertain funding, and are unlikely to carry astronauts before 2015.

Meanwhile, the workforce that launched and landed shuttles for 30 years is being dismantled. An estimated 9,000 space shuttle engineers, technicians, computer experts, office staff and other workers at Kennedy Space Center have either already been laid off or are about to. Many face their final days of work on Friday.

NASA Administrator Charles Bolden and the Atlantis astronauts, Ferguson, Pilot Doug Hurley and mission specialists Rex Walheim and Sandy Magnus, are to meet with ground workers later today to offer hope, support and appreciation.

Many of them, though, are left with limited prospects. They had expected more. NASA had gone through a similar morass in the 1970s after the Apollo program was cut short, and when the end of the shuttle program was announced six years ago, many in NASA expected the agency would quickly develop its next big program to prevent the same extended lull. But it did not happen.

"There was a lot of talk about the brain drain and all the people leaving the program, and how NASA wasn't going to do that again this time. Everyone expected there would be a new program in the wings," said John Phipps, 54, of Port St. John, who was a technician with the shuttle program's prime contractor, United Space Alliance, for 23 years before he was laid off last October. "Over time, that didn't materialize. We're going through the same thing now as we did with the Apollo program."

Some have found jobs, particularly with the private companies seeking to launch their own spacecraft in a few years, such as Boeing and SpaceX. But thousands of NASA jobs are being replaced with hundreds of opportunities.

Most of the members of the team that filled the shuttle's enormous hydrogen fuel tanks, for example have job offers or prospects, said Eric Miner, 51, of Cape Canaveral, who's job as a liquid hydrogen technician is ending. But they're scattering.

http://www.latimes.com/news/nationworld/nation/os-shuttle-atlantis-landing-20110721,0,4548493.story

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« Reply #4602 on: Jul 21st, 2011, 06:30am »

Washington Post

Documents outline alleged funneling of Pakistani funds to U.S. candidates

By Dan Eggen and Karin Brulliard
Published: July 20

In September 2004, Rep. Joe Pitts (R-Pa.) received $2,000 from Zaheer Ahmad, who was active with a nonprofit Washington group known as the Kashmiri American Council.

The FBI now says that Ahmad was an unregistered agent of the government of Pakistan, whose role included funneling money to U.S. politicians. He is listed in the group’s records as a conduit for donations to lawmakers including Pitts, the FBI says.

The episode shows how Pakistan’s spy agency, the Inter-Services Intelligence, allegedly sought to influence Kashmir policy in Washington over the past 20 years, according to federal court documents filed in Northern Virginia this week. The FBI estimates that the foreign intelligence agency poured at least $4 million into campaign contributions, public relations campaigns and other efforts during that time.

Several weeks after the 2004 donation, Pitts introduced a resolution in the House urging the appointment of a special envoy to push for a peaceful resolution of the dispute in Kashmir, which has long been divided between Pakistan and India.

A Pitts spokesman said Wednesday that there was no connection between the donation and the resolution, and said the congressman was “very upset” by the allegations against the Kashmir council.

“He was astonished when he heard about this,” spokesman Andrew Wimer said. “He had worked on Kashmiri peace before he ever met this group. He has also remained critical of the Pakistani government throughout his time in Congress.”

The allegations have further strained tensions between the Obama administration and the government of Pakistan, which is angry about U.S. intelligence operations on its soil, including the May 2 raid that killed Osama bin Laden.

News of the case reverberated through Pakistan’s military and intelligence apparatus on Wednesday, where many suspect the timing of the charges was in retaliation for recent expulsions and arrests of Americans in Pakistan.

“It seems that some elements in Washington are against the normal ties . . . and whenever efforts are made to iron out the differences, then such sort of incident occurs,” said one Pakistani intelligence official who spoke on the condition of anonymity. He added that Pakistan would protest the accusations as “baseless propaganda.”

Federal prosecutors have charged two U.S. citizens in the case with failing to register as foreign agents: Syed Ghulam Nabi Fai of Fairfax, who is the Kashmiri council’s executive director, and Zaheer Ahmad, who lists his address as Brooklyn in disclosure records but is believed to be at large in Pakistan. Fai is jailed pending a hearing on Thursday.

Law enforcement officials said that more than a dozen warrants have been served in connection with the case this week, and that more charges are possible.

An FBI affidavit outlines a far-ranging effort by the ISI to set up a satellite of ostensibly pro-Kashmir groups to do its bidding, including similar organizations in London and Brussels. The Washington group, headed by Fai, was formed in 1990 and soon became well-known for its annual conferences on Kashmir and efforts to support friendly lawmakers with campaign contributions.

Fai and Ahmad themselves gave at least $30,000 in contributions to members of both parties, including Rep. Dan Burton (R-Ind.), a longtime pro-Pakistani lawmaker who was the largest single recipient, FEC records show. The two men also gave at least $4,500 to the National Republican Senatorial Committee, $4,000 to Pitts and $2,000 to Rep. James P. Moran (D-Va.), plus smaller donations to Barack Obama, Al Gore, Rep. Dennis J. Kucinich (D-Ohio) and others.

Most of the recipients have said they will return or donate the money to charity. Wimer said Pitts has given the $4,000 he received from the men to charities in Lancaster County, Pa.

But court and campaign records leave many questions unanswered, including precisely how much money may have been funneled to U.S. politicians by the ISI.

Financial records cited by the FBI suggest the Kashmir council budgeted up to $100,000 a year just for political contributions, many of which were allegedly dispersed through a network of pro-Pakistan advocates with U.S. residency or citizenship. So-called straw donors — who would be reimbursed by the ISI — were also used to fund the activities of the Kashmir council, according to the FBI affidavit.

Several of the council’s board members have given donations to Burton and other members of Congress, according to FEC and tax records. They did not respond to phone messages left at their homes or offices Wednesday.

In Islamabad, there was no official reaction from the Pakistani government or military, of which the ISI is a part. The chief military spokesman, Maj. Gen. Athar Abbas, referred questions to the foreign ministry, which did not respond to several calls. Abbas said he had no information about the military officials named in the FBI affidavit as Fai’s handlers over the years.

“The retired people, really, are out of the establishment and they are on their own. For technical purposes, they are civilians,” Abbas said. Many top ISI figures are retired military officers.

Mahmud Ali Durrani, a retired army major general who served as Pakistani ambassador to the United States from 2006 to 2008, said he was “taken aback” when he heard about the arrest of Fai, who he said was a familiar figure at the embassy and in Washington.

“He seemed a very mild, soft-spoken gentleman. He didn’t look like Mr. Spy Man,” Durrani said. Referring to the ISI, Durrani said: “I’m quite surprised. I didn’t know they would have such a long-standing, subtle campaign.”

Durrani said it was likely many in Pakistan would conclude that the charges are part of an Indian scheme to stifle discussions of Kashmiri independence. A prominent separatist leader in Indian-controlled Kashmir endorsed that idea on Wednesday, denouncing Fai’s arrest as India’s effort to rid the debate of someone it considered “an eyesore.” The separatist leader, Syed Ali Shah Geelani, called on Kashmiris to stage protests against the arrest on Friday.


Brulliard reported from Pakistan. Special correspondent Shaiq Hussain in Pakistan and staff researcher Lucy Shackelford in Washington contributed to this report.

http://www.washingtonpost.com/politics/documents-outline-alleged-funneling-of-pakistani-funds-to-us-candidates/2011/07/20/gIQAzIqeQI_story.html

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« Reply #4603 on: Jul 21st, 2011, 06:34am »

Wired

Stanford’s Lightsaber-Wielding Robot Is Strong With the Force

By Christina Bonnington
July 20, 2011 | 3:16 pm
Categories: R&D and Inventions





What better way to combine your nerdy loves of computer programming and Star Wars than with a robot that can actually battle with a lightsaber?

This is “JediBot,” a Microsoft Kinect–controlled robot that can wield a foam sword (lightsaber, if you will) and duel a human combatant for command of the empire. Or something like that.

“We’ve all seen the Star Wars movies; they’re a lot of fun, and the sword fights are one of the most entertaining parts of it. So it seemed like it’d be cool to actually sword fight like that against a computerized opponent, like a Star Wars video game,” graduate student Ken Oslund says in the video above.

The world of dynamic robotics and AI has been immensely aided by the affordable, hackable Microsoft Kinect. The Kinect includes multiple camera and infrared light sensors, which makes recognizing, analyzing and interacting with a three-dimensional moving object — namely, a human — much simpler than in the past. Microsoft recently released the SDK for the Kinect, so we should be seeing increasingly useful and creative applications of the device. The KUKA robotic arm in the video above is traditionally used in assembly line manufacturing, but you may remember it from a Microsoft HALO: Reach light sculpture video last year.

According to the course overview (.pdf) for the “Experimental Robotics” course, the purpose of the laboratory-based class is “to provide hands-on experience with robotic manipulation.” Although the other groups in the class used a PUMA 560 industrial manipulator, the JediBot design team, composed of four graduate students including Tim Jenkins and Ken Oslund, got to use a more recently developed KUKA robotic arm. This final project for the course, which they got to choose themselves, was completed in a mere three weeks.

“The class is really open-ended,” Jenkins said. “The professor likes to have dynamic projects that involve action.”

The group knew they wanted to do something with computer vision so a person could interact with their robot. Due to the resources available, the group decided to use a Microsoft Kinect for that task over a camera. The Kinect was used to detect the position of JediBot’s opponent’s green sword-saber.

The robot strikes using a set of predefined attack motions. When it detects a hit, when its foam lightsaber comes in contact with its opponent’s foam lightsaber and puts torque on the robotic arm’s joints, it recoils and moves on to the next motion. It switches from move to move every one or two seconds.

“The defense mechanics were the most challenging, but people ended up enjoying the attack mode most. It was actually kind of a gimmick and only took a few hours to code up,” Jenkins said.

The project utilized a secret weapon not apparent in the video: a special set of C/C++ libraries developed by Stanford visiting entrepreneur and researcher Torsten Kroeger. Normally, the robot would need to plot out the entire trajectory of its motions from start to finish — preplanned motion. Kroeger’s Reflexxes Motion Libraries enable you to make the robot react to events, like collisions and new data from the Kinect, by simply updating the target position and velocity, with the libraries computing a new trajectory on-the-fly in less than a single millisecond.

This allows JediBot to respond to sensor events in real time, and that’s really the key to making robots more interactive.

Imagine a waiterbot with the reflexes to catch a falling drink before it hits the ground, or a karate robot you can spar against for practice before a big tournament.

I doubt anyone would be buying their own KUKA robotic arm and creating a sword-playing robot like JediBot in their home, but innovations like this using interactive controllers, and the availability of the Reflexxes Motion Libraries in particular for real-time physical responses, could help us see robots that better interact with us in daily life.

Video courtesy Stanford University/Steve Fyffe

http://www.wired.com/gadgetlab/2011/07/light-saber-robot/

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« Reply #4604 on: Jul 21st, 2011, 06:40am »

Geeky Gadgets

iSheetMusic Apps Provide Extensive Sheet Music Library To iOS Users (video)

By Julian Horsey
Thursday 21st July 2011 12:04 pm
in Apple News, iPad, iPhone, iPhone Apps

A new application called iSheetMusic is looking to revolutionise the sheet music industry with the launch of its free app that uses true note technology to bring sheet music to life on your iOS device.

The creators of iSheetmusic have partnered with the largest sheet music publishers in the world to provide users with a continually growing library of sheet music with unparalleled access to the most extensive digital musical libraries available. Watch the video after the jump to see the application in action.






“As a musician who has gone through every part of the music industry – with the exception of the fame thing – I think you’ve got something that’s going to appeal to every level of musician, including those who can’t read music but want lyrics, chords and perhaps some notes to guide them.” – Arne Elias

The iSheetmusic application includes an internal metronome and automatic page turning feature, that keeps a track of where you are in a song and automatically turns the page.

http://www.geeky-gadgets.com/isheetmusic-apps-provide-extensive-sheet-music-library-to-ios-users-21-07-2011/#more-87116

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