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 veryhotthread  Author  Topic: Stuff & Nonsense  (Read 92076 times)
WingsofCrystal
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« Reply #4620 on: Jul 23rd, 2011, 08:05am »

The Daily Kos

Thu Jul 21, 2011 at 06:00 AM PDT.

UFO's and Extraterrestrials: Cutting through the BS
by David Kroning II
for The Week In UFO Phenomenon.

Let's face it. The mere mention of a belief in the existence of UFO's (Unidentified Flying Objects), or Extraterrestrials (beings not of this Earth) can often cause people to be marginalized as "kooks," or "flask carriers." It's part of the culture of the phenomenon and it can be intimidating enough to many otherwise inquisitive people that they simply discount the subject out of hand and leave it to the crystal-gripping converts fluent in Klingon and Zeta-Reticulan.

Such an attitude would not be completely unwarranted.

The overwhelming belief is that scientists don't take the phenomenon seriously, so why should anyone else? To be fair, the idea is reinforced by a mountain of "lazy literature" on the subject of UFO's and Extraterrestrial life that is, at best, undocumented pseudo-scientific mumbo-jumbo and, at worst, shameless yarns peddled by skilled charlatans as serious dialogue to the naive and easily influenced.

Most recently, convicted fraudster Erich Von Daniken's "Ancient Astronaut Theory" was resurrected and given undo credence by the History Channel (do they even do history anymore?) in the exquisitely illustrated episodic "undocumentary" series entitled: "Ancient Aliens." Of course, the idea that Jesus, and Socrates, might really have been space aliens is both controversial and entertaining, and on the surface may even seem compelling to some, but none of it is based on anything resembling facts or science. Unfortunately, all the garbage on the subject leaves such a putrid stink that it renders what should be a legitimate issue of scientific inquiry to the realm of fantasy, science fiction, the National Enquirier and episodes of Montel Williams.

That doesn't mean that there aren't any credible studies out there of the UFO and Extraterrestrial phenomenon based on facts, archival evidence, and unimpeachable observers such as astronauts, military pilots, and nuclear weapons officers.

One such study is Richard M. Dolan's UFO's and the National Security State: Chronology of a Cover up, 1941-1973, (2002).

Unlike most writers on the UFO and Extraterrestrial phenomenon, Dolan is a credentialed scholar who takes a scholarly approach to the subject of UFO's. A university-trained historian of the Cold War, Dolan ponders why a government so interested in the defense of its airspace against an attack by nuclear weapons during the Cold War period would not be profoundly disturbed by Unidentified Flying Objects entering and leaving that airspace at will.

Guess what? They were! Moreover, one need not go looking for it in highly classified documents (or, the "X-Files"); they left ample evidence of it in the public record.

Noted computer scientist, Jacques Vallée, whose pioneering work helped NASA map the face of Mars, called Dolan's work, "the first comprehensive study of the U.S. government's response to the intrusion of UFO phenomena in American skies over the last fifty years."

Dolan's book is painstakingly researched and carefully documented through extensive footnotes to archival government sources available in the public domain in the National Archives. Using those sources, Dolan not only systematically demonstrates that the US government has had a clear interest in the UFO phenomena since WWII, but that it continued to study the phenomenon intensely into the 1970s, even as it denied the very existence of UFO's to the American people through a clear pattern of covert efforts, concealment and campaigns of disinformation.

Unlike most other works in the compendium of UFO literature, this book is well-written, engaging, and most importantly ultimately succeeds in making a compelling case that the UFO and Extraterrestrial phenomenon is about more than the existence of unidentified flying objects being controlled by some unknown intelligence, but about the erosion of our civil liberties by a government intent on keeping such culture-changing information from its citizens.

If you are truly curious and want to learn more about the UFO phenomena, cut through the BS and add Richard M. Dolan's UFO's and the National Security State, to your summer reading list. I guarantee it will change your perception of the the UFO and Extraterrestrial phenomena from one of marginal pseudo-science, to one of the greatest human import.

We hope that after your reading, you'll come back and share your thoughts.

http://www.dailykos.com/story/2011/07/21/996804/-UFOs-and-Extraterrestrials:-Cutting-through-the-BS

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« Reply #4621 on: Jul 23rd, 2011, 08:13am »

Geeky Gadgets

Hydrothermal Worm Haunts Your Nightmares
By Glenn Santos
Saturday 23rd July 2011 12:00 pm in Geeky


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We’d love to claim the photo above was taken in outer space, but that isn’t true. Seen above is the hydrothermal worm, a rather obscure microorganism that lurks in thermal vents deep (really deep) in the ocean. It’s a recent discovery and its scientific name is still unknown.

The hydrothermal worm is so small it’s no use giving its exact measurement. Just think of it as roughly the size of your friendly neighborhood bacteria. No doubt its not the only miniscule creature lurking beyond the naked eye and beyond the human imagination. There must be trillions of undiscovered species out there. Lurking. Waiting. Feeding.

Just to give credit where credit is due, the epic photograph up north was taken by Philippe Crassous using an electron microscope. The FEI Quanta Sem zoomed unto the organism more than 500 times to capture a portrait of its ferocious mug. Staring intently at it, the hydrothermal worm’s visage reminds us of sandworms from Dune.

Long live Shai Hulud!

photo gallery after the jump
http://www.fei.com/resources/image-gallery/

http://www.geeky-gadgets.com/hydrothermal-worm-haunts-your-nightmares-23-07-2011/#more-87283

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« Reply #4622 on: Jul 23rd, 2011, 08:19am »

The Wrap

Comic-Con: Holy Reunion, Batman -- It's Adam West, Burt Ward and Julie Newmar
Published: July 22, 2011 @ 7:41 pm
By Tim Kenneally

As far as Adam West is concerned, there's no reason for him to worry about where he fits into the Batman legacy, because when it comes to the numerous actors who've played the caped crusader, he knows he's in a league of his own.


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"My Batman, I think of it as the Bright Knight; the others are the Dark Knight," West offered during the panel honoring the 45th anniversary of the "Batman" TV series on Friday at Comic-Con 2011. "It's just a different ball game, that's all -- not that i wouldn't love to play the Dark Knight's father."

West was joined by his former co-stars Burt Ward (who played his trusty sidekick Robin) and Julie Newmar (the first of three actresses to play Catwoman). The panel, sponsored by television network the Hub, packed the hall with rabid fans of the campy superhero series, many of whom had clearly not been born yet when the series debuted in 1966.

During the panel, West discussed how he scored the role ("I was hired to play Batman because they saw a commercial I'd done for Nestle's Quik," West recalled, "and they said, 'This is the turkey to play him'") as well as the specific appeal that the series held for him.

"It was such a harmless show, and it was so much fun -- absurd," West offered. "I enjoy it so much more than any other series or movie I've done since."

Ward, meanwhile, discussed how he was injured while filming the series' famous scene when the Batmobile comes roaring out of the Batcave exit and hangs a sharp left. "On one of the takes, my door flew open; I grabbed the gear shift and broke my pinkie finger," Ward revealed. "They said, 'We have to get you to the hospital -- but we have to get the shot first."

That wasn't the only discomfort that Ward experienced while shooting the program -- there were also the infamous tights. "I called them my python pants because they strangle you in every way," Ward noted.

Newmar, however, was considerably more satisfied with her form-hugging Catwoman costume.

"Well, if you wear black, it takes 15 pounds off your body," Newmar offered. "When you put on the heels, which were four inches, it takes what -- five pounds per inch off of your body?"

While the trio was quick to note how much they enjoyed filming the series together, West did hint at some degree of tension -- with one of the series' numerous guest stars.

"Oh my God there were so many of them -- about 120 -- and I enjoyed working with all of them except one."

Despite heavy prodding from the crowd, West declined to identify the object of his ire.

Apparently, that's one for the Riddler to puzzle over.

http://www.thewrap.com/tv/column-post/comic-con-adam-west-burt-ward-and-julie-newmar-reunite-batman-panel-29384

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« Reply #4623 on: Jul 23rd, 2011, 11:37am »

What Should We Name Pluto's New Moon?

Published July 23, 2011
Space.com

"It's called P4 for the time being," said Trent Perrotto, public affairs officer at NASA headquarters. "It'll get a name, but it's not up to NASA to decide on it." As usual with newly discovered astronomical objects, he explained, P4's name will be subject to a tough selection process overseen by an organization called the International Astronomical Union.

In an unofficial Facebook poll of SPACE.com readers, the top choice is "Mickey." Unfortunately for them, though, this won't satisfy the IAU's official naming conventions. According to the IAU guidelines, "Objects crossing or approaching the orbit of Neptune … notably [Pluto and its moons], are given mythological names associated with the underworld."

Pluto was the god of the underworld in Roman mythology. Charon, Pluto's largest moon, is named after the ferryman who carried the souls of the newly deceased across the River Styx, which divided the world of the living from that of the dead. Nix, Pluto's second moon, was the Greek goddess of darkness and night, and Charon's mother. Hydra, the third, was a many-headed serpent that guarded a back entrance to the underworld located deep below the surface of a lake.

In choosing a name along these hellish lines for P4, the IAU nomenclature committee will try to honor the wishes of its discoverer: planetary astronomer Mark Showalter of the SETI Institute in California. What's his choice?

"This is a topic under discussion," Showalter told Life's Little Mysteries. "We have a lot of colorful names to choose from because all the moon names come from, essentially, the minions of Hades [the Greeks' name for Pluto]. One name that seems to come up most is Cerberus, the dog who guards the gates to hell."

Three-headed Cerberus is Hydra's sibling.

"Cerberus: How could you go wrong with a name like that?" Showalter said. "But, unfortunately, Cerberus is already the name of an asteroid.

The IAU balks at the idea of using asteroid names, although it's not necessarily out of the question. Even then, Kerberos, [the spelling that] is closer to the original Greek, would be OK even if Cerberus is not. I don't want to say that's the name we've chosen. There are a lot of interesting names being discussed."

Showalter has been perusing the Internet today (July 20), looking for ideas. He and his discovery team will submit their top choices to the IAU soon, and he thinks they'll choose a name within two months. Perhaps Cerberus/Kerberos will soon be guarding the Kuiper Belt.

Read more: http://www.foxnews.com/scitech/2011/07/23/what-should-name-plutos-new-moon/#ixzz1SwagR3yE
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« Reply #4624 on: Jul 23rd, 2011, 8:49pm »

Hey Swamprat! cheesy
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« Reply #4625 on: Jul 23rd, 2011, 8:54pm »

MyModernMet

Man Almost Swallowed by Whale Shark
Posted by Eugene on July 23, 2011 at 7:00am


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I bet this diver's heart practically jumped out of his chest as he saw a massive whale shark approach him with its mouth open wide. At 40 ft (12 m) in length, whale sharks are the largest fish in the sea. They have up to 350 rows of teeth in a mouth up to 5 ft (1.5 m) wide, but despite their size, they do not pose a risk to divers.

The photograph was taken during a feeding frenzy where more than 600 whale sharks gathered to feed on tuna spawn (eggs). Each year they converge in water off Mexico where they filter feed by sieving plankton from the water.

49-year-old Mauricio Handler traveled to Isla Mujeres, Mexico, and used high-tech equipment to capture the incredible moments underwater.

"'I led an expedition of photographers and when you're down there with the fish it is like another world," explains Handler. "On our last day I was taking a photograph of a whale and it ended up swimming at my photographer friend. They don't have very good eyesight but the diver managed to get out of the way. If he had have been sucked into the massive mouth the shark would have just spat him out."


more photos after the jump
http://www.mymodernmet.com/profiles/blogs/man-almost-swallowed-by-whale

http://handlerphoto.com/ (Mauricio Handler's website)

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« Reply #4626 on: Jul 24th, 2011, 07:47am »

New York Times

July 24, 2011
Police Say Oslo Suspect Admits to ‘Facts’ in Massacre
By STEVEN ERLANGER and ALAN COWELL

OSLO — The Norwegian man charged with attacks in and near Oslo, killing over 90 people, has admitted “to the facts” of the case, the police and his lawyer said on Sunday, and claims to have acted alone in a strike eerily foretold in a detailed manifesto calling for a Christian war to defend Europe against the threat of Muslim domination.

But, acting police chief Sveinung Sponheim told a news conference, “he is not admitting criminal guilt” and his claim to have acted alone contrasted with “some of the witness statements,” Reuters reported.

The attacks on Friday — a huge bombing in central Oslo closely followed by a bloody rampage against young people on nearby Utoya island — was the deadliest attack in this Nordic nation since World War II, and stunned many in a population of some five million used to seeing their land as a haven of peace.

The police said on Sunday that the toll had risen to 93 from 92 with the death of one of the 97 earlier reported as injured. Most of the bodies were found on Utoya island, where young people from the dominant Labor Party had gathered for an annual camp.

Police identified the suspect as Anders Behring Breivik, 32, a right-wing fundamentalist Christian, while acquaintances described him as a gun-loving Norwegian obsessed with what he saw as the threats of multiculturalism and Muslim immigration.

Police divers were still searching the lake around Utoya island for bodies, and said there were fears the death toll could rise. “We are not sure whether he was alone or had help,” a police official, Roger Andresen, said Saturday. “What we know is that he is right wing and a Christian fundamentalist.”

News reports quoting Norwegian media said armed police raided a location in eastern Oslo on Sunday and briefly detained several people before releasing them. Nothing had been found linking them to terrorism, the police said.

On Sunday, muted and stunned at the magnitude of the killings, many people gathered at the Lutheran cathedral here to mourn in an emotional service. King Harald V and Queen Sonja, both dabbing away tears, joined Prime Minister Jens Stoltenberg and other dignitaries attended a service inside while more gathered outside.

“We are crying with you, we feel for you,” Mr. Stoltenberg said. The brief period since the killings “feels like an eternity — hours and days and nights filled with shock and angst and weeping,” he said.

“Each and every one of those who has left us is a tragedy,” he added. “Together, it is a national tragedy.”

“Hate cannot triumph over love,” a priest told mourners under the cathedral’s chandeliered roof as the congregation packed the pews. Hundreds more gathered on a rainswept plaza outside where mourners had left carpets of flowers and candles. “That is why we are holding one another today,” the priest said.

Outside, among the mourners, Tured Mong, a pensioner, said she drove 40 miles with her husband to bring flowers from her garden and a candle she wanted to light. “I only want to lay them down here,” Ms. Mong said. “I am sorry for all the parents waiting to find some news who don’t know about their children.”

Another mourner, Evy Andersen, from Oslo, brought a sunflower from her garden. “I have a niece who has been to this camp twice and she has many friends who are missing. She is wondering about them. I did this for her and for myself.”

News reports spoke of immigrants arriving before the service to show respect for the dead. Lemeo Le, a refugee from Vietnam 21 years ago, said: “Norway helped the Vietnamese people to come here. They were very welcoming. I have a job and a family and I wanted to come. It is very sad for all the young people.”

Borge Wilhemsen, a Labour Party activist, said he drove for five hours to be at the memorial service along with his 6-year-old daughter. “You can’t take them away from everything,” he said, referring to the daughter. “They have to learn that life is sometimes hard. I have not told her everything. I told her that there were two big accidents.”

In footage broadcast by Norwegian TV stations on Sunday, Geir Lippestad, Mr. Breivik’s lawyer, said his client would address a court hearing on Monday about what he had done. “He has said that he believed the actions were atrocious, but that in his head they were necessary,” the lawyer said. Mr. Breivik has “admitted his guilt to the actual facts,” the lawyer said, declining to go into detail. He added: “This is an action that has been planned for some time.”

The lawyer added in an interview with the NRK public broadcaster: “He wanted a change in society and, from his perspective, he needed to force through a revolution. He wished to attack society and the structure of society.”

An official with knowledge of the investigation, who was not permitted to speak publicly, said the suspect would “most likely” appear in the City Court of Oslo on Monday and police would seek to detain him for four weeks on suspicion of terrorism — longer if necessary for the investigation — before the prosecution brings formal charges.

Normally there is public access to the court, but it is not yet clear whether the planned appearance would be restricted, the official said.

Another person involved in the inquiry played down speculation about the involvement of a second person, saying “it looks like he was doing this on his own, but more will come out during the investigation.”

In a 1,500-page manifesto, posted on the Web hours before the attacks, Mr. Breivik recorded a day-by-day diary of months of planning for the attacks, and claimed to be part of a small group that intended to “seize political and military control of Western European countries and implement a cultural conservative political agenda.”

He predicted a conflagration that would kill or injure more than a million people, adding, “The time for dialogue is over. We gave peace a chance. The time for armed resistance has come.”

The manifesto was signed Andrew Berwick, an Anglicized version of his name. A former American government official briefed on the case said investigators believed the manifesto was Mr. Breivik’s work.

The manifesto, entitled “2083: A European Declaration of Independence,” equates liberalism and multiculturalism with “cultural Marxism,” which the document says is destroying European Christian civilization.

The document also describes a secret meeting in London in April 2002 to reconstitute the Knights Templar, a Crusader military order. It says the meeting was attended by nine representatives of eight European countries, evidently including Mr. Breivik, with an additional three members unable to attend, including a “European-American.”

The document does not name the attendees or say whether they were aware of Mr. Breivik’s planned attacks, though investigators presumably will try to determine if the people exist and what their connection is to Mr. Breivik.

Thomas Hegghammer, a terrorism specialist at the Norwegian Defense Research Establishment, said the manifesto bears an eerie resemblance to those of Osama bin Laden and other Al Qaeda leaders, though from a Christian rather than a Muslim point of view. Like Mr. Breivik’s manuscript, the major Qaeda declarations have detailed accounts of the Crusades, a pronounced sense of historical grievance and calls for apocalyptic warfare to defeat the religious and cultural enemy.

Mr. Breivik was also believed to have posted a video on Friday summarizing his arguments. In its closing moments, the video depicts Mr. Breivik in military uniform, holding assault weapons. Rarely has a mass murder suspect left so detailed an account of his activities. The manifesto describes his purchase of chemicals, his sometimes ham-handed experiments making explosives and his first successful test detonation of a bomb in a remote location on June 13.

He intersperses the account of bomb-making with details of his television-watching, including the Eurovision music contest and the American police drama “The Shield.”

The manifesto ends with a chilling signoff: “I believe this will be my last entry. It is now Fri July 22nd, 12.51.”

According to the police, Mr. Breivik first drew security services to central Oslo when he exploded a car bomb outside a 17-story government office building, killing at least seven people.

Then he took a public ferry to Utoya Island, where he carried out a remarkably meticulous attack on Norway’s current and future political elite. Dressed as a police officer, he announced that he had come to check on the security of the young people who were attending a political summer camp there, many of them the children of members of the governing Labor Party.

He gathered the campers together and for some 90 hellish minutes he coolly and methodically shot them, hunting down those who fled. At least 85 people, some as young as 16, were killed.

He was equipped, the police said, with an automatic rifle and a handgun; when the police finally got to the island — about 40 minutes after they were called, the police said — Mr. Breivik surrendered.

The police also said he had registered a farm in Rena, in eastern Norway, which allowed him to order a large quantity of ammonium nitrate fertilizer, an ingredient that can be used to make explosives. The authorities were investigating whether the chemical had been used in the bombing.

Besides the manifesto, Mr. Breivik left other hints of his motives.

A Facebook page and Twitter account were set up under his name days before the rampage. The Facebook page cites philosophers like Machiavelli, Kant and John Stuart Mill.

more after the jump
http://www.nytimes.com/2011/07/25/world/europe/25oslo.html?_r=1&hp

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« Reply #4627 on: Jul 24th, 2011, 07:57am »

The Guardian

Egyptian protest march descends into violent clashes.
More than 140 injured after groups of men with knives attack demonstrators heading for military headquarters.

Associated Press
guardian.co.uk, Sunday 24 July 2011 12.38 BST

Thousands of protesters trying to march to the headquarters of Egypt's military rulers have been attacked by groups of men wielding knives and sticks, triggering street clashes that have left more than 100 people injured.

An estimated 10,000 people set out from Tahrir Square in Cairo, but were stopped from reaching the military headquarters in the eastern Abbasiya neighbourhood by army barricades. Security forces also used teargas to disperse protesters.

Saturday's clashes came as tensions mount between the military council that took control of the country after a popular uprising forced President Hosni Mubarak from office and activists who want them to move faster in bringing former regime officials to justice and setting a date for the transition to civilian rule.

The military has appeared impatient with the pressure, accusing activists of treason, warning protesters against "harming national interests" and calling on "honourable" Egyptians to confront actions that disrupt a return to normal life.

The march coincided with the anniversary of the 1952 military coup that toppled the Egyptian monarchy and brought a series of military leaders to office. Bands of men armed with knives and sticks set upon marchers from side roads and in front of the barricades, triggering street battles.

Gunfire was heard, but it was unclear who was shooting. Some firebombs were thrown.

The identity of the attackers could not immediately be determined. Similar groups of men have tried to break up other rallies, and Mubarak's regime often used hired civilians to attack protesters. Some witnesses said they might have been residents or shopkeepers angry at the loss of business as a result of the protests. Others said local residents threw water bottles to the protesters and helped them reach safety.

At one point, a man perched over a female protester, squeezing her against the wall where she was taking cover from the flying rocks. The man cursed her and accused her of being hired to cause chaos, shouting: "Damn your revolution!"

An Associated Press reporter saw a firebomb flying from inside a garden in a side street, landing at a distance from the protesters. The attackers then charged toward the protesters and accused them of throwing the flaming bottle.

"We are extremely angry. These are Egyptians beating us," said Selma Abou el-Dahab, one of the marchers.

A medical official, who did not want to be named, said more than 140 people were taken to hospital with wounds from thrown rocks and falling in the stampede.

The violence broke out following a televised speech commemorating the 1952 coup by Field Marshal Mohammed Hussein Tantawi, head of the ruling military council, who attempted to diffuse tensions by praising young people who led the uprising that toppled Mubarak.

Many protesters have grown distrustful of the military rulers who assumed control of the country on 11 February. A few hundred have been camped out in Tahrir Square since 8 July to pressure the military into bringing those accused of killing nearly 900 protesters during the 18-day uprising to trial. So far, only one low-ranking policeman has been charged in absentia for killing protesters.

Saturday's march was the second consecutive day that protesters tried to reach the headquarters of Egypt's supreme council of the armed forces. On Friday, crowds tried to reach the building to denounce alleged beatings of demonstrators by military forces during another rally in the city of Alexandria.

Tantawi appealed for national unity and called the youth activists "a great product of Egyptian soil".

The military council has promised to hand over power to an elected civilian government within six months. Parliamentary elections are set for October or November, followed by presidential elections, likely next year.

http://www.guardian.co.uk/world/2011/jul/24/egypt-protest-march-military-council

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« Reply #4628 on: Jul 24th, 2011, 08:02am »

Hollywood Reporter

Cowboys & Aliens: Film Review
4:19 AM 7/24/2011
by Kirk Honeycutt

This comic-book movie from Jon Favreau spends a gratifying amount of time on its characters and actors rather the visual FX.

SAN DIEGO — Fusion is everything in gourmet cuisine these days, so why shouldn’t filmmakers mix and match movie genres no matter how crazy? Cowboys & Aliens— well, the title says it all. Taking the idea from a Platinum Studios graphic novel by Scott Mitchell Rosenberg, this film from Jon Favreau shrewdly blends an alien invasion movie into a western. The key to its success lies in the determination by everyone involved to play the damn thing straight. Even the slightest goofiness, the tiniest touch of camp, and the whole thing would blow sky high. But it doesn’t.

If you were to assess the mix, it would be about 70% western to 30% alien invasion. Which is pretty bold given that aliens are all the rage and the last western to make a lasting impression was probably Clint Eastwood’s1992 Unforgiven. But that’s where shrewdness comes in: You expect space invasions; a western is a tricky thing to pull off.

A big hit here at its Comic-Con world premiere, the Universal release looks primed to round up box office gold with its target audience, all in ample supply this weekend in San Diego. But you suspect this is one monster movie that may reach even older audiences who would love to slap on chaps and get rough and dirty with a good, old-fashioned western. Well, here’s that opportunity. Nor does it hurt the movie’s appeal to an older crowd that the film unhesitatingly pairs two mature stars, Daniel Craig and Harrison Ford, to go up against the aliens.

Take a look at the credit box for this film and you’ll see an all-star team of Hollywood producers, exec producers and writers. But such is the overriding intelligence and singular vision in this picture that you have to assume that Favreau deserves the credit for keeping things true to both genres. A surprisingly good western is taking place before those creatures drop down from another planet. True, the western characters and story are awfully familiar to those who still treasure the genre. But the western was always a conservative genre that stuck close to its traditions while allowing plenty of room for storytelling.

All good westerns begin when a stranger rides into town. Only this stranger, in 1875 New Mexico territory, suffers from amnesia. Played by Craig, the man awakens in the middle of the desert with a strange shackle on his left wrist and no memory of what happened to him. When he encounters three men who would take advantage of his situation, he quickly learns — as does the audience — he is not a man to be messed with.

The town he rides into, on a horse belonging to one of those unfortunate men, is called Absolution, a name that would give anyone pause. It is ruled by a tyrannical cattle baron, Colonel Dolarhyde, and that would be Ford who lets his face and body sag under the weight of his own ferocious and bitter sense of power. You get the impression he really wants someone to stand up to him.

When the man with no name challenges his cowardly son (an amusing Paul Dano), it looks like the Colonel has found such a man. But not before a few townsfolk get introduced into the drama, which would include the town’s preacher (Clancy Brown), a stressed saloon-keeper (Sam Rockwell) and his plucky wife (Ana de la Reguera), the Colonel’s unappreciated Indian cowhand, the beleaguered sheriff (Keith Carradine, evoking his late father’s considerable impact on the western form) and his eager-to-grow-up grandson (Noah Ringer).

Drifting mysteriously on the periphery but making sure that the stranger stays in town when everyone else is keen to see him gone is a woman, Ella (Olivia Wilde), who might understand his plight and amnesia.

Just as a showdown of epic proportions seems imminent, an even greater showdown explodes in the town in a great what the f---moment. Alien spacecrafts strafe the town and abduct a number of its citizens including the Colonel’s son. Equally surprising is how the stranger’s wrist ornament suddenly springs to life as the only successful weapon against these alien forces. The stranger, as strangers always do in westerns, has demonstrated his usefulness.

Cowboys & Aliens has now reached the crucial juncture that will either make or break this odd admixture of a movie. Had the film given way to this sci-fi onslaught, the whole thing might have turned into the fiasco that was 1999’s Wild Wild West.

But no, Favreau and his legion of screenwriters wisely cling to the western framework. The clear model for the rest of the movie is John Ford’sThe Searchers, about a Comanche abduction of a white girl, and her would-be rescuers let by John Wayne’s virulently racist uncle to whom Indians were on the same level as reptilian space aliens.

Faced with the demise of the planet, all the western’s warring parties — the cowboys and Indians, cattle barons and downtrodden town folks, the stranger and the Colonel — suddenly realize they all belong to the same species. So they band together to form a search and rescue party to free loved ones and eliminate the alien scourge.

As this posse tracks the aliens down to their lair with some unexpected help from the mysterious Ella, the movie becomes perhaps a tad more conventional. Some of the movie’s niftiest sequences and best character-reveals happen during this rescue, but if there is a weakness here it’s the aliens themselves.

Thanks to quite a few filmmakers, including one of the many exec producers here, Steven Spielberg, audiences are used to greater detail and more empathy for movie space creatures, even as recently as the one in Super 8. The alien villains here, while ingenious from a CGI standpoint with multi-layered malevolence in bodies that pull back endoplasmic surfaces to reveal further weapons of destruction, don’t rate as characters. They are more like moving blobs you shoot at in a video game. Bam — gotcha!

Nevertheless, as the first of undoubtedly a bunch of copycat genre mash-ups, some of which are bound to be horrendous, Cowboys & Aliens is a solid success. For a tent-pole, Comic-Con movie, this one devotes a gratifying amount of time to character and achieves most of its success because Favreau has intelligently cast his film and let his actors do their thing. As good as the visual effects are, you walk away from the movie with a memory of actors’ faces, lines of dialogue and actions that speak more to character than to shock-and-awe.

And another thing: That wrist accessory worn by Craig should be a merchandising stroke of genius.

Opens: July 29 (Universal Pictures)

Production companies: Universal Pictures/DreamWorks Pictures/Reliance Entertainment present in association with Relativity Media an Imagine Entertainment / K/O Paper Products / Fairview Entertainment / Platinum Studios production

Cast: Daniel Craig, Harrison Ford, Olivia Wilde, Keith Carradine, Sam Rockwell, Paul Dano, Ana de la Reguera, Adam Beach, Clancy Brown, Noah Ringer

Director: Jon Favreau

Screenwriters: Roberto Orci, Alex Kurtzman, Damon Lindeloff, Mark Fergus, Hawk Ostby

Screen story by: Mark Fergus, Hawk Ostby, Steve Oedekerk

Based on the comic book by: Scott Mitchell Rosenberg

Producers: Brian Grazer, Ron Howard, Alex Kurtzman, Robert Orci, Scott Mitchell Rosenberg

Executive producers: Steven Spielberg, Jon Favreau, Denis L. Stewart, Bobby Cohen, Randy Greenberg, Ryan Kavanaugh

Director of photography: Matthew Libatique

Production designer: Scott Chambliss

Visual effects supervisor: Roger Guyett

Special makeup/animatronics: Shane Mahan

Music: Harry Gregson-Williams

Costume designer: Mary Zophres

Editors: Dan Lebental, Jim May

http://www.hollywoodreporter.com/review/cowboys-aliens-film-review-214687

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« Reply #4629 on: Jul 24th, 2011, 08:31am »

Geeky Gadgets

Reservoir Of Water being Sucked By Black Hole
By Glenn Santos on Sunday 24th July 2011 12:30 pm
in Geeky


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In what appears to be the most bizarre title for a Geeky Gadgets post, news is currently circulating about a recent find at the edge of space. Two teams of astronomers have located a huge floating body of water—so huge, it’s almost immeasurable—that’s being consumed by a black hole. The awesome part is the water being sucked by the endless void is coming out the other end as energy.

The actual size of the ‘reservoir,’ if calculations are correct is 140 trillion times greater than our planet’s oceans combined. That’s unimaginable, so leave it at really really immense. Though photographs of it are non-existent (the above is an illustrator’s concept), the massive quasar named APM 08279+5255 is reportedly 20 billion times the size of our solar system’s sun. That’s as epic as outer space gets. The really interesting part is as the quasar feeds on the water vapor, it grows and may expand six times its current size.

The rare phenomenon was first observed by the joint effort of two teams, one in California and another in the French Alps. The facilities used for the incredible find were the CalTech Submillimiter Observatory and a similar installation a continent away (the French Alps, as mentioned).

Unlike most human beings, the universe doesn’t need to prove it’s awesome.

http://www.geeky-gadgets.com/reservoir-of-water-being-sucked-by-black-hole-24-07-2011/#more-87292

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« Reply #4630 on: Jul 24th, 2011, 4:56pm »

Believers in Mysterious Planet Nibiru, Comet Elenin Await Earth's End

By Natalie Wolchover
Published July 24, 2011
Space.com

Renowned astrophysicist Carl Sagan once described a "baloney detection kit" — a set of tools that skeptical thinkers use to investigate any new concept. A few of the key tools include a healthy distrust of information that isn't independently verified, critically assessing an idea rather than becoming irrationally attached to it simply because it's intriguing, and a preference for simple explanations over wildly speculative ones.

The waxing obsession with the planet Nibiru , which conspiracy theorists say is a planet swinging in from the outskirts of our solar system that is going to crash into Earth and wipe out humanity in 2012 — or, in some opinions, 2011 — shows that an astonishing number of people "are watching YouTube videos and visiting slick websites with nothing in their skeptical toolkit," in the words of David Morrison, a planetary astronomer at NASA Ames Research Center and senior scientist at the NASA Astrobiology Institute.

Morrison estimates that there are 2 million websites discussing the impending Nibiru-Earth collision. He receives, on average, five email inquiries about Nibiru every day.

"At least a once a week I get a message from a young person — as young as 11 — who says they are ill and/or contemplating suicide because of the coming doomsday," Morrison told Life's Little Mysteries, a sister site to SPACE.com.

What's the origin of this mass panic about Nibiru, which astronomers say doesn't exist?

A suspect origin


The idea that doomsday will result from a planetary collision was first proposed in 1995 by Nancy Lieder, a self-described "contactee." Lieder claims she has the ability to receive messages through an implant in her brain from aliens in the Zeta Reticuli star system. On her website, ZetaTalk, she stated that she was chosen to warn mankind of an impending planetary collision which would wipe out humanity in May 2003. (When no such cataclysmic event occurred, Lieder's followers chose 2012 as the new date for the Nibiru collision, which coincides neatly with other doomsday prophecies focused on the ending of the Mayan calendar.)

Lieder originally called the bringer of doom "Planet X," and later connected it to a planet that was hypothesized to exist by a writer named Zecharia Sitchin in his book "The 12th Planet" (Harper 1976)

According to Sitchin (1920-2010), the ancient Sumerians wrote about a giant planet called Nibiru — the "twelfth planet" in the solar system, after the other planets (including Pluto), the sun and moon — which has an oblong orbit that swings near Earth every 3,600 years. Humans actually evolved on Nibiru, he said, and colonized this planet during a previous flyby.

Historians and language scholars say that Stitchin grossly mistranslated ancient texts. The Sumerians did indeed believe in a cosmology involving planets; however they thought there were five planets, not 12, and they did not believe that humans hopped to Earth from a place called Nibiru. Furthermore, astronomers have pointed out that a planetary orbit like the one Sitchin proposed for Nibiru is impossible: No celestial body could maintain a stable orbit that swings it through the inner solar system every 3,600 years and keeps it beyond Pluto the rest of the time. The body would quickly get sucked in or pushed out.

Nonetheless, Sitchin's books have been translated into 25 languages and sold millions of copies worldwide. Lieder's planetary collision theory has adopted the name of Nibiru for Earth's planetary nemesis. Many people who believe that doomsday will occur when the Mayan calendar ends in 2012 have adopted Lieder's Nibiru collision prophecy as the cataclysm that will bring us to that end.

Missing planet

The biggest missing link in the doomsday prophecy is Nibiru itself. Because no giant, rogue planet has been found in the outer solar system to play the role of Nibiru, some conspiracy theorists have decided that a small comet called Elenin (which will pass nearest Earth in October 2011) is actually Nibiru. Even then, though, scientists say Elenin will come no closer than 100 times farther than the distance from Earth to the moon.

"The fact is that these folks are constantly changing their story," Morrison wrote in an email. "For some, Nibiru is no longer the Sumerian god or planet that is supposed to be returning to Earth in late 2012. It has become a catchword for almost any cosmic catastrophe."

Internet rumors about Elenin began spreading earlier this year. Its approach to Earth was blamed for shifting the Earth's axis by 3 degrees in February, precipitating the Chile earthquake, then shifting the pole even more to trigger the Japan quake in March. "Ignoring plate tectonics as the cause of earthquakes, they suggest that the comet exerted strong gravitational or electromagnetic effects on our planet," Morrison wrote.

When scientists pointed out that the comet is a mere 3-mile-wide glob of ice with no magnetic field and that it won't even pass very near Earth — and that plate tectonics, not comets, cause earthquakes — rumors began to circulate that NASA was withholding information about Elenin.

"Ironically, the inconspicuous nature of this comet plays into some of the conspiracy theories," Morrison pointed out. "For people who are convinced the comet did cause the earthquakes, this proves that Elenin is not a comet at all, but a much more massive, and dangerous, interloper." Conspiracy theorists began speculating that the comet is Nibiru in disguise — a planet or even an enormous brown dwarf star.
In fact, Elenin is a textbook comet; it has visible "coma," or nucleus, and a long tail made of vaporizing ice.

If it were a brown dwarf, "it would not have a coma or tail, because the gas cannot escape from an object with substantial gravity. In addition, if it were massive we would be seeing its gravitational influence on the orbits of the planets, especially Mars and Earth, but there is no change in these orbits," Morrison wrote. "Finally, if it were a brown dwarf it would have been easily detected in various previous astronomical surveys, including the recent WISE infrared mission, even when it was still in the outer solar system," he wrote.

The fact that the comet isn't headed our way is overlooked by most conspiracy theorists, while others say its path is going to change. "[Some] websites suggest that the comet is accompanied by a giant UFO, which controls its orbit," Morrison told us; in effect, who cares if Elenin doesn't seem to be headed in our direction — it'll be steered here.

Distinguishing truth from lies

Morrison offered some advice to those who are interested in astronomy or are worried about impending collisions. "If it [a story] is real, it is likely to be in regular news media, not just posted on some website," he told us. Furthermore, "not everyone who claims on YouTube to be a scientist or an employee of NASA is. But there is no simple way to distinguish truth from lies."

The Nibiru conspiracies are so nonsensical that Morrison wonders whether even their purveyors believe them. Because many websites sell Nibiru books, tapes and even "survival kits," Morrison thinks they are purposely taking advantage of people who aren't able to distinguish credible sources from crackpot ones. "This is especially a problem for young people, which is why I am so angry at those who target children," he said.

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

Read more: http://www.foxnews.com/scitech/2011/07/24/believers-in-mysterious-planet-nibiru-comet-elenin-await-earths-end/#ixzz1T3q9fBm5
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« Reply #4631 on: Jul 25th, 2011, 07:43am »

on Jul 24th, 2011, 4:56pm, Swamprat wrote:
Believers in Mysterious Planet Nibiru, Comet Elenin Await Earth's End

By Natalie Wolchover
Published July 24, 2011
Space.com

Renowned astrophysicist Carl Sagan once described a "baloney detection kit" — a set of tools that skeptical thinkers use to investigate any new concept. A few of the key tools include a healthy distrust of information that isn't independently verified, critically assessing an idea rather than becoming irrationally attached to it simply because it's intriguing, and a preference for simple explanations over wildly speculative ones.

The waxing obsession with the planet Nibiru , which conspiracy theorists say is a planet swinging in from the outskirts of our solar system that is going to crash into Earth and wipe out humanity in 2012 — or, in some opinions, 2011 — shows that an astonishing number of people "are watching YouTube videos and visiting slick websites with nothing in their skeptical toolkit," in the words of David Morrison, a planetary astronomer at NASA Ames Research Center and senior scientist at the NASA Astrobiology Institute.

Morrison estimates that there are 2 million websites discussing the impending Nibiru-Earth collision. He receives, on average, five email inquiries about Nibiru every day.

The fact that the comet isn't headed our way is overlooked by most conspiracy theorists, while others say its path is going to change. "[Some] websites suggest that the comet is accompanied by a giant UFO, which controls its orbit," Morrison told us; in effect, who cares if Elenin doesn't seem to be headed in our direction — it'll be steered here.

Distinguishing truth from lies

Morrison offered some advice to those who are interested in astronomy or are worried about impending collisions. "If it [a story] is real, it is likely to be in regular news media, not just posted on some website," he told us. Furthermore, "not everyone who claims on YouTube to be a scientist or an employee of NASA is. But there is no simple way to distinguish truth from lies."

The Nibiru conspiracies are so nonsensical that Morrison wonders whether even their purveyors believe them. Because many websites sell Nibiru books, tapes and even "survival kits," Morrison thinks they are purposely taking advantage of people who aren't able to distinguish credible sources from crackpot ones. "This is especially a problem for young people, which is why I am so angry at those who target children," he said.

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

Read more: http://www.foxnews.com/scitech/2011/07/24/believers-in-mysterious-planet-nibiru-comet-elenin-await-earths-end/#ixzz1T3q9fBm5


Good morning Swamprat,

Crystal
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« Reply #4632 on: Jul 25th, 2011, 07:46am »

Washington Post

IAEA chief visits crippled Japan nuclear plant, welcomes progress toward containing damage

By Associated Press, Updated: Monday, July 25, 5:22 AM

TOKYO — The head of the International Atomic Energy Agency said Monday that Japan’s tsunami-hit nuclear plant is steadily making progress to contain damage from the crisis.

IAEA Director General Yukiya Amano said he is optimistic that workers at the Fukushima Dai-ichi nuclear plant could bring the radiation leaking reactors under control by early next year as planned.

“I observed the sites directly and I believe efforts to contain the damage are steadily making progress,” Amano told reporters. “So many workers are tackling the problems enthusiastically. I think the outlook of resolving the crisis is bright.”

Amano’s visit to the plant Monday was his first since the crisis following the March 11 earthquake and tsunami that destroyed power and cooling systems. The accident caused the reactor cores to mostly melt down and leak massive amount of radiation into the environment.

Amano donned protective coveralls and a mask for the tour of the plant where he inspected the extent of damage to the reactor buildings and the water treatment system that recycles contaminated water as coolant. Escorted and briefed about the latest updates by plant chief Masao Yoshida, the IAEA director also briefly stopped at the plant’s crisis management headquarters to talk to workers.

Japanese government officials and plant operator Tokyo Electric Power Co. said last week that the reactors have somewhat stabilized in the first four months and they plan to bring them to a cold shutdown within six months as initially planned.

A reactor reaches cold shutdown when the temperature at the bottom of the reactor pressure vessel falls below 100 degrees Celsius (212 Fahrenheit). That would mean water used as a coolant no longer boils off into steam and the amount of radiation released could be minimized.

Before he left Vienna on Sunday, Amano said in a statement that the agency also thinks TEPCO’s plant to achieve cold shutdown by early next year is possible.

Amano is also expected to meet with Prime Minister Naoto Kan and other top officials to discuss the crisis, as well as ways to improve nuclear safety in Japan and reduce radioactive contamination in the Fukushima area. He is also set to attend an annual United Nations nuclear disarmament meeting in Matsumoto, central Japan, later this week.

Also Monday, Japanese lawmakers approved nearly 2 trillion yen ($25.5 billion) in extra funds to pay for reconstruction from the disasters.

About half of the newly approved budget will go toward temporary housing, health checks and other support projects for residents affected by the nuclear crisis.

Some 80,000 residents had to evacuate their homes due to radiation threats from the Fukushima Dai-ichi nuclear power plant. The quake and tsunami also left 23,000 others dead or missing across wide swaths of Japan’s northeast coastline.

Japan in May approved a 4 billion yen supplementary budget for quake and tsunami reconstruction.

http://www.washingtonpost.com/world/asia-pacific/japan-passes-255-billion-extra-budget-to-fund-reconstruction-from-triple-disasters/2011/07/25/gIQASEK8XI_story.html

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« Reply #4633 on: Jul 25th, 2011, 07:52am »

Telegraph

Mafia mobsters banned from wearing designer label clothes

A newly-appointed prison governor in Italy has cracked down on convicted mafia mobsters wearing designer label clothes to flaunt their wealth and status.

By Nick Squires, Perugia
11:35AM BST 25 Jul 2011

Rita Barbera, the new governor of Ucciardone jail in Palermo, the capital of Sicily, has said the practise of prisoners wearing Gucci, Armani and other designer clothes, as well as flashy jewellery, must stop.

Unlike many countries, prisoners in Italian jails are not required to wear uniforms.

Lax conditions at the 19th century prison, where one mafia godfather is reported to have celebrated his birthday with Champagne and lobster, have earned it the nickname 'The Grand Hotel'.

The relaxed regime prompted comparisons with the Hollywood film Goodfellas, starring Robert De Niro and Joe Pesci, whose characters lived the high life even when they were behind bars.

Mrs Barbera said she will no longer tolerate prisoners, many of them members of the Cosa Nostra mafia, showing off their status with Louis Vuitton jackets, Valentino silk shirts and adidas and Nike trainers.

"In the collective memory, this prison has been linked to images of godfathers wearing silk clothes, and this is something we need to snuff out," the governor said. "We need to eliminate disparities between prisoners, which has been expressed through exhibitions of status, power and economic supremacy."

But the crackdown has already sparked indignation from inmates and their families.

"Why should the authorities be allowed to dictate what my husband wears?" one woman told La Stampa newspaper.

Another complained: "My husband will have to walk around naked because he only has designer clothes, not to show off but because they're of better quality and they last longer. Why humiliate him in this way and make me go and buy all his clothes in street markets?"

Not all prisoners enjoy such indulgent conditions. The seafront jail, a former fortress built by the Bourbon rulers of Sicily, is badly overcrowded, with 700 inmates crammed into cells which were designed to accommodate 500.

In contrast with wealthy mafiosi, who have been allowed to set themselves up in comfort, many prisoners are foreigners or common criminals who cannot even afford underwear or proper shoes, according to prison welfare groups.

http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/newstopics/howaboutthat/8659421/Mafia-mobsters-banned-from-wearing-designer-label-clothes.html

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« Reply #4634 on: Jul 25th, 2011, 07:58am »

Reuters

World watches and hopes U.S. will avoid debt "suicide"

By Emily Kaiser, Senior Asia Economics Correspondent
SINGAPORE | Mon Jul 25, 2011 6:54am EDT

SINGAPORE (Reuters) - Policymakers worldwide oscillated between hope and confidence on Monday that U.S. lawmakers will break a debt impasse that threatens to trigger a default and up-end global financial markets.

Asia, which holds close to $3 trillion in U.S. government debt, has a powerful vested interest in Washington finding a workable compromise. Policymakers and economists expected lawmakers would strike a last-minute deal to avert a crisis.

The political brinkmanship hit world stocks on Monday and pushed money into safe-haven gold and Swiss francs, ending a brief relief rally over Greece's second bailout package, although there was no sign of panic.

But with just eight days left before August 2, when the Treasury Department has estimated it will run short of money to pay all of its bills, the worry level was rising.

"Those in direct charge of reserves operations must be more nervous than before, but nobody thinks Americans will choose suicide when they have known solutions," said a senior official at the Bank of Korea, who spoke on condition of anonymity.

Fresh from pulling together a new bailout of debt-ridden Greece, Berlin also expected Washington would raise its debt limit.

"We have ... followed the debate in America with great interest and we continue to remain confident that a compromise can be reached," German government spokesman Christoph Steegmans told a news conference.

Others were less sanguine, and much blunter.

"The irony of the situation at the moment ... is that the biggest threat to the world financial system comes from a few right-wing nutters in the American Congress rather than the euro zone," British government minister Vince Cable said on Sunday.

POLITICAL NOT ECONOMIC RIFT

Asian sources said finding a solution was primarily a matter of mustering political will rather than securing rescue funding, which can be far more complicated, as Greece's crisis has shown.

"They will definitely reach a compromise," said Xia Bin, an academic adviser to the People's Bank of China. "Don't worry too much about it.

China is the largest foreign owner of U.S. government debt, with $1.16 trillion as of May, so a vote of confidence from Beijing carries significant weight.

A senior Indian government official said the Obama administration and lawmakers must be well aware of the consequences for global markets of failing to reach a deal.

"If you look at the world markets, they are jittery though they have not nose-dived," the Indian official said.

Australian Treasurer Wayne Swan said a protracted debt ceiling debate added uncertainty to the global economy.

"With the global recovery and confidence still fragile, it's in everyone's interests that U.S. policymakers work toward a speedy resolution," Swan said in an email to Reuters.

Congress has set the U.S. government's borrowing limit at $14.3 trillion, but the Treasury has already tapped that amount and needs more to meet its obligations. Republicans want an agreement on spending cuts before they authorize more borrowing. Democrats want to see a mix of lower spending and higher taxes.

Ratings agencies have warned that even if Congress raises the debt ceiling and averts a default, they may still strip the United States of its AAA credit rating, the highest possible, if lawmakers fail to agree on deeper long-term budget cuts.

A lower credit rating could raise borrowing costs not only for the U.S. government but also for other countries, companies and consumers because U.S. Treasuries are the benchmark by which many loans are measured.

U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, speaking in Hong Kong, said she believed Congress would secure a debt deal and "work with President Obama to take steps to improve our long-term fiscal outlook.

WHERE TO INVEST?

Ethan Harris, co-head of global economic research at Bank of America-Merrill Lynch, said he expected a temporary increase in the debt ceiling with the promise of up to $4 trillion in deficit reductions to be finalized six months later.

"The base case scenario can be summarized as 'appease and delay' -- appease the rating agencies and the market with the beginnings of a large plan, but in actuality delay the crisis further into the future," Harris said.

Robert Tipp, chief investment strategist at Prudential Fixed Income in Newark, New Jersey, said the U.S. Treasury may have a bit of wiggle room on the August 2 deadline because tax revenues had exceeded expectations. But that would buy days, not weeks.

For Asian policymakers, there is no alternative to investing in U.S. Treasuries. China and Japan are by far the world's biggest foreign owners with more than $2 trillion in Treasuries combined. No other market in the world is deep enough to absorb that size of investment.

Mark Mobius, executive chairman of Templeton Asset Management's emerging markets group, said more money might flow into Asian currencies and bonds if U.S. debt talks fail.

"People will see that as a safer alternative," said Mobius, whose group manages $50 billion. "You are already beginning to see that trend."

(Additional reporting by Yoo Choonsik in Seoul, Saeed Azhar in Singapore, Kaori Kaneko and Tetsushi Kajimoto in Tokyo, Kevin Yao in Beijing, Andrew Quinn in Hong Kong, Abhijit Neogy in Delhi and Rob Taylor in Canberra: Editing by Mike Peacock)

http://www.reuters.com/article/2011/07/25/us-usa-debt-asia-idUSTRE76O0KL20110725

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