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 veryhotthread  Author  Topic: Stuff & Nonsense  (Read 24964 times)
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« Reply #4965 on: Sep 6th, 2011, 08:51am »

New York Times

September 5, 2011
Leak Offers Look at Efforts by U.S. to Spy on Israel
By SCOTT SHANE

WASHINGTON — When Shamai K. Leibowitz, an F.B.I. translator, was sentenced to 20 months in prison last year for leaking classified information to a blogger, prosecutors revealed little about the case. They identified the blogger in court papers only as “Recipient A.” After Mr. Leibowitz pleaded guilty, even the judge said he did not know exactly what Mr. Leibowitz had disclosed.

“All I know is that it’s a serious case,” Judge Alexander Williams Jr., of United States District Court in Maryland, said at the sentencing in May 2010. “I don’t know what was divulged other than some documents, and how it compromised things, I have no idea.”

Now the reason for the extraordinary secrecy surrounding the Obama administration’s first prosecution for leaking information to the news media seems clear: Mr. Leibowitz, a contract Hebrew translator, passed on secret transcripts of conversations caught on F.B.I. wiretaps of the Israeli Embassy in Washington. Those overheard by the eavesdroppers included American supporters of Israel and at least one member of Congress, according to the blogger, Richard Silverstein.

In his first interview about the case, Mr. Silverstein offered a rare glimpse of American spying on a close ally.

He said he had burned the secret documents in his Seattle backyard after Mr. Leibowitz came under investigation in mid-2009, but he recalled that there were about 200 pages of verbatim records of telephone calls and what seemed to be embassy conversations. He said that in one transcript, Israeli officials discussed their worry that their exchanges might be monitored.

Mr. Leibowitz, who declined to comment for this article, released the documents because of concerns about Israel’s aggressive efforts to influence Congress and public opinion, and fears that Israel might strike nuclear facilities in Iran, a move he saw as potentially disastrous, according to Mr. Silverstein.

While the American government routinely eavesdrops on some embassies inside the United States, intelligence collection against allies is always politically delicate, especially one as close as Israel.

The Federal Bureau of Investigation listens in on foreign embassies and officials in the United States chiefly to track foreign spies, though any intelligence it obtains on other matters is passed on to the C.I.A. and other agencies. The intercepts are carried out by the F.B.I.’s Operational Technology Division, based in Quantico, Va., according to Matthew M. Aid, an intelligence writer who describes the bureau’s monitoring in a book, “Intel Wars,” scheduled for publication in January. Translators like Mr. Leibowitz work at an F.B.I. office in Calverton, Md.

Former counterintelligence officials describe Israeli intelligence operations in the United States as quite extensive, ranking just below those of China and Russia, and F.B.I. counterintelligence agents have long kept an eye on Israeli spying.

For most eavesdropping on embassies in Washington, federal law requires the F.B.I. to obtain an order from the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court, which meets in secret at the Justice Department. If an American visiting or calling an embassy turns up on a recording, the F.B.I. is required by law to remove the American’s name from intelligence reports, substituting the words “U.S. person.” But raw transcripts would not necessarily have undergone such editing, called “minimization.”

Mr. Silverstein’s account could not be fully corroborated, but it fits the publicly known facts about the case. Spokesmen for the F.B.I., the Justice Department and the Israeli Embassy declined to comment on either eavesdropping on the embassy or Mr. Leibowitz’s crime. He admitted disclosing “classified information concerning the communication intelligence activities of the United States,” standard language for the interception of phone calls, e-mails and other messages by the F.B.I. and the National Security Agency, which generally focuses on international communications.

Mr. Leibowitz, now in a Federal Bureau of Prisons halfway house in Maryland, is prohibited by his plea agreement from discussing anything he learned at the F.B.I. Two lawyers who represented Mr. Leibowitz, Cary M. Feldman and Robert C. Bonsib, also would not comment.

Mr. Silverstein, 59, writes a blog called Tikun Olam, named after a Hebrew phrase that he said means “repairing the world.” The blog gives a liberal perspective on Israel and Israeli-American relations. He said he had decided to speak out to make clear that Mr. Leibowitz, though charged under the Espionage Act, was acting out of noble motives. The Espionage Act has been used by the Justice Department in nearly all prosecutions of government employees for disclosing classified information to the news media, including the record-setting five such cases under President Obama.

Mr. Silverstein said he got to know Mr. Leibowitz, a lawyer with a history of political activism, after noticing that he, too, had a liberal-minded blog, called Pursuing Justice. The men shared a concern about repercussions from a possible Israeli airstrike on nuclear facilities in Iran. From his F.B.I. work from January to August of 2009, Mr. Leibowitz also believed that Israeli diplomats’ efforts to influence Congress and shape American public opinion were excessive and improper, Mr. Silverstein said.

“I see him as an American patriot and a whistle-blower, and I’d like his actions to be seen in that context,” Mr. Silverstein said. “What really concerned Shamai at the time was the possibility of an Israeli strike on Iran, which he thought would be damaging to both Israel and the United States.”

Mr. Silverstein took the blog posts he had written based on Mr. Leibowitz’s material off his site after the criminal investigation two years ago. But he was able to retrieve three posts from April 2009 from his computer and provided them to The New York Times.

The blog posts make no reference to eavesdropping, but describe information from “a confidential source,” wording Mr. Silverstein said was his attempt to disguise the material’s origin.

One post reports that the Israeli Embassy provided “regular written briefings” on Israel’s war with Hamas in Gaza to President Obama in the weeks between his election and inauguration. Another describes calls involving Israeli officials in Jerusalem, Chicago and Washington to discuss the views of members of Congress on Israel. A third describes a call between an unnamed Jewish activist in Minnesota and the Israeli Embassy about an embassy official’s meeting with Representative Keith Ellison, Democrat of Minnesota, who was planning an official trip to Gaza.

Mr. Silverstein said he remembered that embassy officials talked about drafting opinion articles to be published under the names of American supporters. He said the transcripts also included a three-way conversation between a congressman from Texas, an American supporter of the congressman and an embassy official; Mr. Silverstein said he could not recall any of the names.

At his sentencing, Mr. Leibowitz described what he had done as “a one-time mistake that happened to me when I worked at the F.B.I. and saw things which I considered were violation of the law, and I should not have told a reporter about it.”

That was a reference to Israeli diplomats’ attempts to influence Congress, Mr. Silverstein said, though nothing Mr. Leibowitz described to him appeared to be beyond the bounds of ordinary lobbying.

Mr. Leibowitz, 40, the father of 6-year-old twins at the time of sentencing, seems an unlikely choice for an F.B.I. translation job. He was born in Israel to a family prominent in academic circles. He practiced law in Israel for several years, representing several controversial clients, including Marwan Barghouti, a Palestinian leader convicted of directing terrorist attacks on Israelis, who Mr. Leibowitz once said reminded him of Moses.

In 2004, Mr. Leibowitz moved to Silver Spring, Md., outside Washington, where he was a leader in his synagogue. Mr. Silverstein said Mr. Leibowitz holds dual American and Israeli citizenship.

In court, Mr. Leibowitz expressed anguish about the impact of the case on his marriage and family, which he said was “destitute.” He expressed particular sorrow about leaving his children. “At the formative time of their life, when they’re 6 years old and they’re just finishing first grade, I’ll be absent from their life, and that is the most terrible thing about this case,” he said.

While treated as highly classified by the F.B.I., the fact that the United States spies on Israel is taken for granted by experts on intelligence. “We started spying on Israel even before the state of Israel was formally founded in 1948, and Israel has always spied on us,” said Mr. Aid, the author. “Israeli intercepts have always been one of the most sensitive categories,” designated with the code word Gamma to indicate their protected status, he said.

Douglas M. Bloomfield, an American columnist for several Jewish publications, said that when he worked in the 1980s for the American Israel Public Affairs Committee, a lobbying group, he assumed that communications with the embassy were not private.

“I am not surprised at all to learn that the F.B.I. was listening to the Israelis,” he said. “But I don’t think it’s a wise use of resources because I don’t see Israel as a threat to American security.”


http://www.nytimes.com/2011/09/06/us/06leak.html?_r=1&hp

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« Reply #4966 on: Sep 6th, 2011, 08:52am »

Wired

Sept. 6, 1891: Risky Heart Surgery Saves Stabbing Victim
By Tony Long
September 6, 2011 | 6:30 am
Categories: 19th century, Health and Medicine


1891: The victim of a stab wound becomes the first person to undergo heart surgery involving the suturing of the pericardium, or heart sac.

James Cornish, 22, sustained a 2-inch tear to the pericardium when he was stabbed during a fight. The wounded man was taken to City Hospital in St. Louis, where the decision was made to attempt surgery.

It was a controversial decision, because opening the chest cavity to repair wounds to the heart was not yet accepted practice, owing to the excessive risks involved. Nevertheless, with Cornish’s temperature at 101 and his complaining of pain, faintness, nausea and loss of feeling on his left side, Dr. H.C. Dalton made the decision to go in.



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Illustration: The human heart and pericardium, or heart covering. (Corbis)


Dalton made an 8-inch incision and removed part of the fourth rib to get to the damaged heart sac, then sutured it — no mean feat considering Cornish’s heart was pounding at a rate of 140 beats per minute. Following the motion of the beating heart, Dalton stitched up the tear with catgut.

It was touch-and-go for a while: Dalton’s account says it appeared that Cornish came close to dying during the surgery, but hypodermic injections of whiskey and strychnia revived him. The surgical team used sterilized, warm water to irrigate the wound area, then stitched him up. Once he turned the corner, Cornish made a full recovery.

http://www.wired.com/thisdayintech/2011/09/0906heart-surgery-saves-stab-victim/

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« Reply #4967 on: Sep 6th, 2011, 1:10pm »

UPI


Supercommittee members have lobbyist ties
Published: Sept. 6, 2011 at 10:38 AM


WASHINGTON, Sept. 6 (UPI) -- Nearly 100 lobbyists once worked for congressional members on the so-called supercommittee tasked with cutting the federal deficit, a study indicates.

A Washington Post analysis of disclosure data also indicates three Democrats and three Republicans on the panel employ former industry lobbyists on their staffs.

The 12-member bipartisan, bicameral panel must find $1.5 trillion in long-term spending reductions by Thanksgiving, with a final plan to be approved by Congress. If there is no deal, $1.2 trillion in across-the-board cuts divided evenly between defense and non-defense programs will be triggered beginning in 2013.

The large army of lobbyists makes a volatile situation worse, observers said.

The supercommittee has already been drawing fire from watchdog groups for planning its activities in secret and allowing members to fundraise while negotiating a budget deal.

"When the committee sits down to do its work, it's not like they're in an idealized, platonic debating committee," said Bill Allison, editorial director of the Sunlight Foundation, which is tracking ties between lobbyists and the panel. "They're going to have in mind the interests of those they are most familiar with, including their big donors and former advisers."

"Everybody in the Western world will be trying to influence the supercommittee at the same time," Loren B. Thompson, a defense industry consultant at the Lexington Institute, told the Post. "If it was constructed to scare the daylights out of the political system, it's certainly done the job."

http://www.upi.com/Top_News/US/2011/09/06/Supercommittee-members-have-lobbyist-ties/UPI-28251315319923/print/#ixzz1XCHZUbfb

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« Reply #4968 on: Sep 6th, 2011, 1:13pm »

Hollywood Reporter

Phone-Hacking Inquiry: Evidence 'as Clear as Mud'
8:15 AM PDT 9/6/2011
by Mimi Turner

LONDON -- Rupert Murdoch, James Murdoch and Rebekah Brooks were “briefed incorrectly” about the extent of internal phone-hacking at the News of The World when they gave evidence in July,a senior former News International legal exec claimed Tuesday.

But in a separate admission that could yet have major consequences, former News of The World legal manager Tom Crone admitted that News International had paid for surveillance into the private lives of lawyers acting for claimants making civil cases against News International and that he had seen some of the documents.

At a four-hour evidence session Tuesday, MPs heard from former News International director of legal affairs Jon Chapman, former director of human resources Daniel Cloke, former legal manager Tom Crone and former News of The World editor Colin Myler about the extent executives acted on information that criminal activities had become widespread within the newspaper group.

However in evidence described as “contradictory” and “as clear as mud” by Committee member Louise Mensch, MPs came away unconvinced by their testimony that James Murdoch had been properly informed that phone-hacking had been widespread at the News of The World.

Questions now remain for former Wall Street Journal boss Les Hinton and former News of The World editor Andy Coulson, and James Murdoch may still be recalled to give evidence.

Jon Chapman told the House of Commons Parliamentary Committee Tuesday that the evidence the Murdochs and Brooks gave to Parliament two months ago was based on second-hand information that was incorrect.

“What I think was that their evidence [last month] related to the 2007 [internal News International] evidence review. None of them had any direct knowledge of that [investigation]. James Murdoch and Rupert Murdoch were out of the country and Rebecca Brooks was an editor at the time. They would have knowledge [of the internal investigation] only to the extent that Mr Hinton [former News International chief executive Les Hinton] told them about it,” said Chapman.

“In order for them to be able to comment they would be reliant on briefings from other people and I suspect those briefings were incorrect,” he said.

In a subsequent evidence session, former News of The World legal manager Tom Crone insisted that James Murdoch had been informed that phone-hacking was widespread, but was forced to admit he had no recollection of the exact briefing he had given and that the meeting with the News Corp. deputy COO had been very short.

“In order to settle the case [paying-off phone-hacking] victim Gordon Taylor] we had to explain the case to Mr Murdoch and get this authority to settle it, so certainly it would have been discussed. I cannot remember the detail of the conversation. The conversation lasted for quite a short period of time, less than 15 minutes. It was discussed, but exactly what was said I cannot recall.”

Crone said he had not given James Murdoch a copy of the critical “for Neville” email showing that there was more evidence of phone-hacking because he was unable to make copies of the police document and limited by police procedure as to whom he could show it to.

When he appeared before the committee in July, James Murdoch denied any knowledge the email and said he had only agreed to pay a seven-figure sum to settle a case against phone-hacking victim Gordon Taylor on advice from Crone and former New of The World editor Colin Myler.

“Well, it seemed to be clear to other people. I can’t speak to what view Mr Murdoch came away with from that meeting,” said Myler, when questioned. “What I came away with was the decision to settle.”

In his evidence to the committee on the separate accusations leveled at News International by former royal reporter Clive Goodman, News International’s legal boss Jon Chapman claimed that a separate $400,000 pay off was a “pragmatic business decision” and not a cover-up, and that the amount Goodman was paid had been decided by Les Hinton, even though it was far in excess of what a tribunal would have ordered.

Goodman had appealed the decision to fire him, claiming that phone-hacking had been approved by his bosses and that he had been told that he could keep his job if he did not implicate News International in his court case.

“We didn’t take the decision to settle, that decision was taken by Mr Hinton. The position is that it was a stark choice – settle at a reasonable figure or end up at tribunal where Clive Goodman would have been able to make allegations in a public forum,” Chapman said.

Insisting that the internal review carried out within News International’s legal department had discovered little support for Goodman’s claim that hacking had been widespread, Chapman said the decision to pay off the former reporter had been a business decision.

“This is a pragmatic commercial decisions. Many companies pay out on employment claims that have little or no basis because they don’t want things to be raked up.”

In later evidence, Tom Crone flatly denied that Clive Goodman had been promised that he could keep his job if he didn’t implicate News International in his court case – for which he served four months in jail.

But he admitted that he had told Goodman that the then News of The World editor Andy Coulson was lobbying to have him re-instated after he served his sentence.

“Andy Coulson had a conversation with me when he said that at the end of it all, if Clive Goodman was guilty and sentenced, he was hoping he could persuade the company that he could come back in a different role,” Crone said.

“When I spoke to Clive Goodman he was very pessimistic and depressed. I relayed to him what Andy Coulson was hoping.”

In the final minutes of the session, Crone made the astonishing revelation that a “freelance journalist” had been paid to provide personal dossiers on lawyers representing clients fighting civil claims against the newspaper group.

“I saw one document,” he said in an admission that will likely open a whole new can of worms about the ethics of the Murdoch-run organization.

Asked to give further details by Labor MP Tom Watson, Crone said: “I don’t think we should do this, given the criminal investigation.”

http://www.hollywoodreporter.com/news/phone-hacking-inquiry-evidence-as-231574

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« Reply #4969 on: Sep 6th, 2011, 3:27pm »

Physorg.com

Tech company to build science ghost town in NM
September 6, 2011
By JERI CLAUSING , Associated Press

A Washington-based technology company announced plans Tuesday to build a 20-square-mile model metropolis that would be used to test everything from renewable energy innovations to intelligent traffic systems and next-generation wireless networks.

The replica city would be capable of supporting a population of 350,000, but would be the state's newest ghost town.

Pegasus Global CEO Bob Brumely says the $200 million project will be a first of its kind in the U.S. and could create a Silicon Valley of sorts in New Mexico.

http://www.physorg.com/news/2011-09-tech-company-science-ghost-town.html

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« Reply #4970 on: Sep 6th, 2011, 3:33pm »

9/11 video archive


http://www.archive.org/details/911/day

The events of September 11th, 2001 affected the entire world.

The 9/11 Television News Archive is a library of news coverage of the events of 9/11/2001 and their aftermath as presented by U.S. and international broadcasters. A resource for scholars, journalists, and the public, it presents one week of news broadcasts for study, research and analysis.

Television is our pre-eminent medium of information, entertainment and persuasion, but until now it has not been a medium of record. This Archive attempts to address this gap by making TV news coverage of this critical week in September 2001 available to those studying these events and their treatment in the media.

Explore 3,000 hours of international TV News from 20 channels over 7 days, and select analysis by scholars.

~

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« Reply #4971 on: Sep 7th, 2011, 08:57am »

New York Times

September 6, 2011
Families Feel Sharp Edge of State Budget Cuts
By MONICA DAVEY

LANSING, Mich. — Stretched beyond their limits and searching for new corners of their budgets to find spending cuts, states are now trimming benefits for residents who are in grim financial shape themselves.

Some states, including Florida and Missouri, have decided to shrink the duration of state unemployment benefits paid to laid-off workers, while others, including Arizona and California, are creating new restrictions on cash aid for low-income residents.

Here in Michigan, more than 11,000 families received letters last week notifying them that in October they will lose the cash assistance they have been provided for years. Next year, people who lose their jobs here will receive fewer weeks of state unemployment benefits, and those making little enough to qualify for the state’s earned income tax credit will see a far smaller benefit from it.

Some political leaders see these sorts of cuts as unfortunate necessities to help bridge their state’s financial gaps. Others see them as overdue limits on out-of-control government handouts — some lawmakers here fumed, for example, that 30,000 college students, newly dropped from the state’s food stamp rolls, should never have been allowed to collect such benefits in the first place.

Whatever the motive, such policy changes come as the downturn has left a growing number of low-income families in worse financial trouble.

The percentage of children living in poverty rose during the last decade, particularly once the recession hit and unemployment soared.

By 2009, about 2.4 million more children’s families lived below the poverty line than in 2000, an increase of 18 percent, according to a recent analysis of Census Bureau data by the Annie E. Casey Foundation, a child advocacy group. In states like this, where Republicans took control of the capital this year, the new cuts have helped resolve Michigan’s expected budget gap, once estimated at $1.4 billion.

“Michigan can no longer afford to provide lifetime assistance,” said Sheryl Thompson, an official with the state Department of Human Services, which reported that of those being dropped from the state’s cash-assistance rolls, some 1,200 families had been receiving payments for 10 years, more than 700 others for a dozen years, and an additional 400 families had been getting payments for 14 years.

The pattern of new cuts around the nation leads some advocates to fear that the number of low-income families will only grow in the next few years if programs they can lean on shrink or vanish.

“We’re O.K. unless something — anything at all — goes wrong,” said Rachel Haifley, who lives here in Lansing and said she works part-time making a little less than $9 an hour and receives child support for her two young sons, 1 and 3.

Ms. Haifley said she has become an expert at seeking out giveaways, thrift shops and bargains — for clothes, portable cribs, toys for the boys. “All I want is for them to feel like everyone else,” she said. “I don’t want them to grow up and ask me why they’re poor.”

In Dearborn Heights, Celia Kane-Fecay, another mother of two, said she has given up on the job hunt for now and returned to college — with help from $597 a month in cash assistance, Medicaid and any other aid she can track down with what she has come to describe unhappily as her daily list of begging phone calls. “You don’t ever want to be here,” she said.

Signs of new poverty are already evident. A project by the Annie E. Casey Foundation Kids Count Data Book found that by 2010, nearly 11 percent of the nation’s children, or 7.8 million children, had at least one parent who was unemployed, when only about half as many were in such circumstances in 2007. And since four years ago, the study found, at least 5.3 million children have been affected by home foreclosures.

Meanwhile, around the nation, lawmakers have weighed new limits to tax credits for low-income people; in Michigan, a proposal to throw out the earned income tax credit entirely was dropped, but lawmakers shrank the benefit — to an average of $138 a year for a Michigan family, advocates say, from $432 last year.

Six states have approved reductions in the length of state unemployment benefits. The notion appalls people like Jeananne Bishop, who has been desperately searching for a job since July 2010 and found herself washing her hair with laundry detergent at one point because she could not afford shampoo.

Ms. Bishop said her continuing benefits — now part of a federally financed extension — are the only thing keeping her afloat. Michigan’s shortened unemployment benefit limits will apply starting next year, but Ms. Bishop, 56, of Benton Harbor, seemed skeptical that much will have changed in the job market for them, cautioning, “No one calls back.”

And while at least three states, including Michigan, shortened the period during which poor residents can receive cash assistance, other states began enforcing stricter limits already on the books.

“We clearly recognize that states have huge deficits they’re dealing with, but all of these things add up in certain states to very little safety net protection for children,” said Patrick McCarthy, president of the Annie E. Casey Foundation.

In Michigan — where 23 percent of children were living in poverty by 2009 (compared with 14 percent in 2000) and with an unemployment rate, at 10.9 percent, worse than the nation’s — state leaders defended their changes.

Sara Wurfel, a spokeswoman for Gov. Rick Snyder, a Republican in his first term, said his efforts had focused on creating an economic climate in the state for more and better jobs, while also protecting and even enhancing core safety-net services like Medicaid, she said.

Ms. Wurfel added that the state had, for instance, hired hundreds of new child welfare workers. And as part of their decision to cut state unemployment benefits next year, Michigan lawmakers had accepted a federal extension of benefits this year for residents.

“In this state, we are losing hard-working families and taxpayers and gaining people who were moving here for our entitlement programs,” said Ken Horn, a Republican state representative who introduced a bill setting strict limits on cash assistance to those who have had it at least four years. That bill was signed into law on Tuesday, even as state officials were newly carrying out five-year lifetime federal limits on such assistance, which in Michigan averages $415 a month for an eligible family.

“The bill is designed with the simple idea that there should be a safety net but it should not be a lifestyle,” Mr. Horn added. “As we looked at it, it turned out to be part of the budget solution.”

Republicans said that even the cuts to those who have been on cash assistance the longest allow some exceptions (for those with disabilities, for instance), and that the rest will get special attention from social workers.

But Fred Durhal Jr., a Democratic state representative from one of Michigan’s poorest regions, said that will not be enough. He has begun calling Oct. 1 — the start of cuts to cash aid — doomsday.

“Sometimes you’ve got what’s fiscally sound, and you’ve got what is morally and ethically the right thing to do,” Mr. Durhal said. “Those don’t always jell well together. You can’t take grandmas away and put them on the street, and you can’t take milk from babies.”


http://www.nytimes.com/2011/09/07/us/07states.html?_r=1&hp

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« Reply #4972 on: Sep 7th, 2011, 11:51am »

Wired

Sept. 7, 1998: If the Check Says ‘Google Inc.,’ We’re ‘Google Inc.’
By Tony Long
September 7, 2011 | 6:30 am
Categories: 20th century, Business and Industry, Computers and IT

1998: Handed a check for $100,000 made out to “Google Inc.,” Sergey Brin and Larry Page figure they better incorporate their fledgling search engine. So they do.

Brin and Page met while grad students at Stanford University and, according to company lore, took an instant disliking for one another. They nevertheless found a common interest in the idea of devising a reliable method for retrieving what you want from the endless amounts of information available on the internet.

Their technology was solid, but not solid enough to impress either the money boys or the major internet portals, so they continued struggling for financial support. Enter Andy Bechtolsheim, a founder of Sun Microsystems, who was one of the few to see the true potential of what Brin and Page had wrought. During their presentation to him, Bechtolsheim said he had to duck out for another meeting, and he offered to write them a check.

It was that hundred-grander, made out to Google Inc., that got the ball (and the bank) rolling. Brin and Page incorporated, managing to attract other investors, with an initial investment of around $1 million.

With its first corporate headquarters located in a friend’s garage in Menlo Park, California, Google’s search engine was already getting 10,000 queries a day while still in beta.

The following year, Google moved into a real office in Palo Alto, saw its staff explode to eight employees, and by late 1999 was answering 500,000 queries per day. That arc has pretty much continued to this day.

http://www.wired.com/thisdayintech/2011/09/0907google-incorporated/

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« Reply #4973 on: Sep 7th, 2011, 11:55am »

Fox News

Is Fed Raid on Gibson Guitar Company Enforcing Policy . . . or a Push to Target 'Made in the USA'??

By John Roberts
Published September 07, 2011 | FoxNews.com

They are among the most sought-after musical instruments in the world. Everyone from Chet Atkins to Les Paul to Jimmy Page of Led Zeppelin to Slash of Guns n’ Roses played them. A vintage 1959 Les Paul guitar can go for as much as $400,000. Almost every kid who has dreams of music stardom wants a Gibson guitars.

Gibson is also a company that is proud to put the “Made in the USA” label on its instruments. While the company has lower-end lines that are made overseas, every guitar that bears the “Gibson” label is made in the U.S. by American workers.

On August 24, armed agents from the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and Homeland Security raided the corporate headquarters and two factories of the Gibson Guitar company. The agencies took away 24 pallets of Indian rosewood and ebony, as well as a number of guitars and computer files.

The federal agents’ contention is that Gibson had illegally imported the exotic wood, which is used to make fretboards and bridges for their high-end instruments. Under the 1900 Lacey Act, which was amended in 2008 to include wood products, American companies must abide by the laws of source countries when importing products. The intent of the law is to protect endangered species of wildlife and plants. U.S. Fish and Wildlife claims that the Gibson wood – in the form of fingerboard ‘blanks’ -- was illegal to export from India and therefore illegal to import into the United States.

Now here’s the rub. While the feds say the wood – as imported – is illegal, had it been ‘finished’ by workers in India, it would have been perfectly legal to import. The wood itself was not banned, just the manufacturing process – or lack of it.

“I think they’re taking the position that we should be shifting these jobs overseas,” says Bruce Mitchell, the chief legal counsel for Gibson. “We have – probably 40 people in our factory here just at USA who are doing the inlays into the fingerboard … that are putting the fret on. If all that was to be done over in India, then …. those jobs would be lost.

What’s most puzzling about this case is that India is perfectly happy to ship the fingerboard ‘blanks’ to the United States. In a letter dated July 13, the deputy director general of foreign trade for India confirmed that “fingerboards made of rosewood and ebony is (sic) freely exportable.”

U.S. Fish and Wildlife offered no comment about the discrepancy. But people involved in the import and export of musical instruments and parts believe the US Department of Justice offered its own interpretation of Indian law. Even though India saw no reason for an enforcement action, the U.S. did.

“It is such an outrageous position – it has hurt Gibson tremendously – has criminalized Gibson and its workplace and its workers. It is an unsustainable position that they’re taking,” Mitchell says.

Something else to consider in all of this: Gibson uses the same wood, from many of the same suppliers and importers that nearly every other guitar company in America does. And they have not been targeted. You might ask – why?

Rewind the clock two years. Gibson was raided in 2009 and a shipment of rosewood and ebony from Madagascar was seized. Gibson argued that the wood was obtained through proper channels, but U.S. Fish and Wildlife argued that Gibson could not adequately prove that the wood came from legitimate sources. Again, the issue of ‘finishing’ the wood came into play. Had Gibson imported finished parts from Madagascar instead of ‘blanks,’ it would have been perfectly legal.

No charges have been filed as of yet, and Gibson is fighting in court to get its wood back.
It could be that the Madagascar issue put Gibson front and center on the Department of Justice's radar screen.

There was a discrepancy in the import of this latest shipment of wood. It was listed with an improper tariff code, which the importer, Luthiers Mercantile International of Windsor, Calif., claimed was a clerical error by a junior employee and tried to clear up. But rather than talk to the importer and Gibson about it, the Justice Department dispatched U.S. Fish and Wildlife and DHS agents to raid the Gibson compounds.

Gibson feels it has been unfairly targeted. “We are being singled out. Very much so,” says Mitchell. “Every music instrument company in the United States uses rosewood fingerboards. Period. And they’re in the same state – they’re buying from the same suppliers, they’re using the same shippers.”

Gibson has also been working hard to maintain proper sources of wood, working with the Forest Stewardship Council to insure its suppliers are certified. Gibson also works closely with the Rainforest Alliance on sustainable supplies of exotic woods. It’s a no-brainer for Gibson and other guitar manufacturers. If they can’t get the highly sought-after tone woods that artists crave, they just might go out of business.

Outside observers see a more sinister possibility in all of this. Henry Juszkiewicz, Gibson’s CEO, is a Republican, who has contributed to Republican candidates (as well as some Democratic candidates). Other guitar companies, which have not been targeted, are led by Democrats. Is there a political motivation to all of this? Neither Mitchell, nor Juszkiewicz will offer an opinion, but consider what Juszkiewicz told Neil Cavuto on "Your World."

“You know we've been pretty low key. We're a guitar company. We've been manufacturing guitars. We've been involved in the environmental movement. We’ve been trying to do the right thing in terms of sourcing. We really don’t know why they are picking on us.”

http://www.foxnews.com/politics/2011/09/07/does-white-house-want-to-ship-jobs-overseas/#ixzz1XHosh0Le

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« Reply #4974 on: Sep 7th, 2011, 12:05pm »

.





Uploaded by POPCultureOnline on Sep 5, 2011

At an Antarctica research site, the discovery of an alien craft leads to a confrontation between graduate student Kate Lloyd and scientist Dr. Sander Halvorson. While Dr. Halvorson keeps to his research, Kate partners with Sam Carter, a helicopter pilot, to pursue the alien life form.

Video Courtesy of United International Pictures for use with http://www.popcultureonline.net

Category:
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~


Release Date: October 14, 2011
Studio: Universal Pictures
Director: Matthijs van Heijningen
Screenwriter: Ronald D. Moore, Eric Heisserer
Starring: Mary Elizabeth Winstead, Joel Edgerton, Jonathan Lloyd Walker, Adewale Akinnuoye-Agbaje
Genre: Thriller
MPAA Rating: Not Available
Official Website: TheThingmovie.net

http://www.comingsoon.net/films.php?id=52404#ixzz1XHs6bv00

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« Reply #4975 on: Sep 7th, 2011, 1:02pm »

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« Reply #4976 on: Sep 7th, 2011, 8:47pm »

Now I've seen everything......



Ben & Jerry's Debuts 'Schweddy Balls' Ice Cream

Published September 07, 2011

Ben & Jerry's added a new and unique flavor to its ice cream repertoire on Wednesday: "Schweddy Balls."

"Schweddy Balls" consists of Fair Trade vanilla ice cream with a hint of rum, loaded with fudge-covered rum and milk chocolate malt balls, the company announced on its website.

"Schweddy Balls" is inspired by the classic Saturday Night Live sketch featuring Alec Baldwin as Pete Schweddy, fictional owner of Season's Eatings Bakery, and Ana Gasteyer and Molly Shannon as hosts of the "Delicious Dish" radio show.

"For a long time, I thought that 'Here Lies Pete Schweddy' would end up on my tombstone," Baldwin said in a press release. "Now, thanks to Ben & Jerry's, the goodness of the Schweddy family recipe won't go with me to the great beyond."

The limited-batch flavor is available at participating Ben & Jerry's Scoop Shops and supermarkets nationwide while supplies last, Business Wire reported.

http://www.foxnews.com/leisure/2011/09/07/ben-jerrys-debuts-schweddy-balls-ice-cream/?test=faces

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« Reply #4977 on: Sep 7th, 2011, 9:18pm »

on Sep 7th, 2011, 8:47pm, Swamprat wrote:
Now I've seen everything......



Ben & Jerry's Debuts 'Schweddy Balls' Ice Cream

Published September 07, 2011

Ben & Jerry's added a new and unique flavor to its ice cream repertoire on Wednesday: "Schweddy Balls."

"Schweddy Balls" consists of Fair Trade vanilla ice cream with a hint of rum, loaded with fudge-covered rum and milk chocolate malt balls, the company announced on its website.

"Schweddy Balls" is inspired by the classic Saturday Night Live sketch featuring Alec Baldwin as Pete Schweddy, fictional owner of Season's Eatings Bakery, and Ana Gasteyer and Molly Shannon as hosts of the "Delicious Dish" radio show.

"For a long time, I thought that 'Here Lies Pete Schweddy' would end up on my tombstone," Baldwin said in a press release. "Now, thanks to Ben & Jerry's, the goodness of the Schweddy family recipe won't go with me to the great beyond."

The limited-batch flavor is available at participating Ben & Jerry's Scoop Shops and supermarkets nationwide while supplies last, Business Wire reported.

http://www.foxnews.com/leisure/2011/09/07/ben-jerrys-debuts-schweddy-balls-ice-cream/?test=faces

laugh


I have to say I read it as Sweaty Balls at first, and that really is NOT appealing. Hope it tastes better than it sounds.

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« Reply #4978 on: Sep 8th, 2011, 08:21am »

"I have to say I read it as Sweaty Balls at first, and that really is NOT appealing. Hope it tastes better than it sounds."



http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=yVChao15oDw

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« Reply #4979 on: Sep 8th, 2011, 08:27am »

on Sep 8th, 2011, 08:21am, Swamprat wrote:
"I have to say I read it as Sweaty Balls at first, and that really is NOT appealing. Hope it tastes better than it sounds."



http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=yVChao15oDw

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