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 veryhotthread  Author  Topic: Stuff & Nonsense  (Read 70431 times)
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« Reply #4980 on: Sep 8th, 2011, 08:28am »

Crap! My little tribe is awake, be back in a bit.

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« Reply #4981 on: Sep 8th, 2011, 11:41am »

Wired Danger Room

$265 Bomb, $300 Billion War: The Economics of the 9/11 Era’s Signature Weapon
By Spencer Ackerman
September 8, 2011 | 6:30 am
Categories: Weapons and Ammo

The signature weapon of the 9/11 Era is lethal, easily concealable and maddeningly easy to construct. But the greatest danger from the improvised explosive device — what ensures its endurance far from the battlefields of Iraq and Afghanistan — lies in how cheap it is.

The improvised explosive device, or IED, isn’t a bomb. It’s a category of bombs, and within that category, insurgent MacGyvers construct makeshift bombs from whatever they have at hand. The Iraqi insurgency often relied on looted stockpiles of artillery shells or mines, juryrigged together and detonated from a cellphone. In Afghanistan, insurgents can’t similarly rely on abandoned weapons depots for their explosives, so they construct bombs using ammonium nitrate fertilizer, detonated by a fuse or using wooden plates that complete a hidden circuit when a soldier inadvertently steps on it. Insurgent allies in the security services of states like Iran or Pakistan add more sophisticated bomb ingredients or aid with logistics.

The common theme: all the ingredients for the bombs are inexpensive enough to remain in mass production, even when the U.S. attacks an insurgency’s revenue stream. And they’re vastly cheaper than the vehicles they destroy, the gear used to find them, and the troops they maim and kill.

Determining just how expensive they are is difficult, owing to all of the different components in the bombs. But according to the Pentagon’s bomb squad, the average cost of an IED is just a few hundred bucks, pocket change to a well-funded insurgency. Worse, over time, the average cost of the cheapo IEDs have dropped from $1,125 in 2006 to $265 in 2009. A killing machine, in other words, costs less than a 32-gig iPhone.

Dollar figures for the bombs are hard to come by — it’s not like there’s a Consumer Reports for black-market mines — but the Joint Improvised Explosive Device Defeat Organization, known as JIEDDO, shared some estimates with Danger Room about how much Afghanistan’s bombs cost. Those estimates, publicly released for the first time, will have to serve as a proxy for the costs of the weapons worldwide.

The most plentiful types of bomb from 2009 — the most recent available figures for the myriad types of bombs — were, unsurprisingly, the cheapest. On average, a “victim-operated” bomb — one set to explode when its target or a civilian inadvertently sets it off — cost a mere $265. (That seems remarkably high for bombs that can be as simple as a bunch of fertilizer chemicals, wires and a pressure plate made out of two blocks of wood, but that’s what JIEDDO says.) Those types of bombs accounted for 57.9 percent of homemade bomb incidents in 2009. The next most plentiful category of bomb, those set off with command wires leading from the device, also cost $265 on average in 2009, accounting for another 23.8 percent of attacks.

As the bombs get more difficult to construct or operate, the costs rise. Bombs activated with a remote detonator like a cellphone cost a mere $345 and accounted for a surprisingly small — 12.6 percent — of attacks, perhaps owing to the U.S.’ hard-won ability to jam the detonator signal. (One would imagine the major cost component is the cellphone.) For insurgents to turn a car into a bomb or convince someone to kill himself during a detonation — or both — the cost shoots up into the thousands: $10,032 for a suicide bomber; $15,320 for a car bomb; nearly 19 grand to drive a car bomb. All together, those relatively expensive attack methods accounted for fewer than six percent of bomb attacks in 2009.

Most of those bombs have gotten cheaper to produce. In 2006, victim-operated IEDs cost an average of $1,125. Command-wire bombs were $1,266. Remote detonation bombs? The same. And as the costs dropped, victim-operated and command-wire detonated bombs skyrocketed. Back in 2006, they accounted for merely 21.3 percent and a piddling 1.9 percent of all bomb attacks, respectively.

But the sophisticated bombs have gotten more expensive. Car bombs cost $1,675 on average in 2006 — which seems absurdly low, given the cost of one involves acquiring and then tricking out a car. And the going rate on suicide bombers appears to have risen, from $5,966 in 2006 to nearly double that in 2009. Accordingly, both accounted for over 16 percent of IED attacks in ‘06. And JIEDDO says it has preliminary reporting indicating that suicide bombers cost $30,000 as of January.

It’s also worth mentioning that the number of IEDs in Afghanistan has mushroomed: from 1,952 in 2006 to 5,616 in 2009. All told, since the Afghanistan war began, homemade bombs have killed 719 U.S. troops and wounded 7,448.

JIEDDO provided a lot of caveats to accompany its stats. “Data on IED costs and component prices are extremely rare and is difficult to come by,” explains spokeswoman Irene Smith. “There are inconsistencies in collection, definitions, and reporting. Single source, uncorroborated reporting is common. There is no readily available open source data on black market prices or supplies of components or initiators.” JIEDDO didn’t have available cost estimates for IEDs in Iraq.

But homemade bombs have proliferated far, far beyond Iraq and Afghanistan. JIEDDO’s 2010 recent annual report records an average of 260 IED attacks every month (.PDF) outside of the warzones in 2010. So far in 2011, there are upwards of 550 IED attacks beyond Iraq and Afghanistan every month. On Tuesday, Nigerian officials discovered a homemade bomb factory near Abuja; on Wednesday, a bomb stuffed into a briefcase killed 11 people and wounded 79 more in New Dehli.

And if the most common types of homemade bombs cost a couple hundred bucks to produce, the U.S.’ measures to stop them — robots, optics, flying sensors — are orders of magnitude more expensive. Explosive ordnance detection teams in Afghanistan use a small robot called a “Devil Pup” to locate IEDs. JIEDDO has paid $35 million for the 300 mini-robots — a little over $116,000 per ‘bot, which can buy about 440 victim-operated bombs.

In late July, JIEDDO announced it would provide another $12 million worth of sensors and jammers to detect and stop IEDs. It’s all part of a counter-IED effort that’s cost at least $19 billion since 2004, even as IEDs have proliferated globally.

JIEDDO also contends that comparing the cost of a particular sensor or jammer to the cost of an IED is an inexact science, since some equipment is used for training and never sent to a frontline unit. And there are lots of variables involved in determining how much a typical IED attack costs the U.S.: do you count a soldier’s life by how much the Defense Department pays him?

That may be true — even if it seems self-serving for JIEDDO to make the point. But it also underscores that the improvised explosive device is a weapon of mass economic destruction, and its proliferation won’t stop until either its costs rise or the costs of counter-bomb methods drop substantially.

So far, it’s not going so well. Efforts to stop the importation of ammonium nitrate fertilizer from Pakistan into Afghanistan, for instance, have stalled. A truck driver named Ali Jan recently told the Associated Press it’s worth it to him to haul the fertilizer across the border. His take? $20.

http://www.wired.com/dangerroom/2011/09/ied-cost/

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« Reply #4982 on: Sep 8th, 2011, 11:43am »

LA Times

Deficit super committee gets to work on Capitol Hill

By Lisa Mascaro
8:17 AM PDT, September 8, 2011

The first meeting of the super committee on deficit reduction opened in outwardly bipartisan fashion Thursday as it begins the daunting task of cutting federal deficits by $1.5 trillion by Thanksgiving.

The Democratic and Republican co-chairs, Sen. Patty Murray (D-Wash.) and Rep. Jeb Hensarling (R-Texas), entered the hearing room together. Hensarling chaired the meeting, but the co-chairs will alternate the responsibility, with Murray scheduled to lead the next one.

Several pink-outfitted protesters greeted the committee with signs reading "Tax the rich!" before being admonished to show decorum. Outside, protesters shouted "Jobs now!" and brought the meeting to a momentary standstill.

Hensarling said he approached the job with "urgency, high hopes and realistic expectations," noting it "will not be easy."

Murray said she was heartened that the 12 members, an equal number of Democrats and Republicans, had not publicly drawn lines in the sand.

"We must all be open to compromise," Murray said.

Thursday's meeting is largely an organizational one, as the committee sets rules and procedures. Every step in its formation over the last month has been a partisan dance, fraught with potential disagreement.

The panel was created from the deal Congress struck last month to raise the nation's debt ceiling. It has less than three months to reach its goal of $1.5 trillion in deficit reduction over the next decade or mandatory spending cuts to defense and domestic programs will be made in 2013.

Both sides want to avoid that outcome. But past efforts have stalemated as Republicans refuse new taxes and Democrats resist cuts to Medicare and other entitlements without new revenue.

In a nod to emerging leaders on the panel, Republicans allowed Sen. Rob Portman (R-Ohio) to follow the chairs with the first opening statement. Portman is a former director of the White House Office of Management and Budget under President George W. Bush, and widely seen as a budget pro who understands the severity of the nation's budget problems and the need for both tax and spending reforms.

The next meeting is set for Tuesday.

http://www.latimes.com/news/politics/la-pn-super-committee-20110908,0,6253677.story

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« Reply #4983 on: Sep 8th, 2011, 11:54am »

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Uploaded by pikodesign360vr on Sep 1, 2011

"World War Z" zombies attack driver footage from Glasgow August 2011

Category:
Film & Animation

~

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« Reply #4984 on: Sep 8th, 2011, 11:58am »

FOX News


Bestselling UFO Book Reveals New Evidence, Encounters, and Insider Accounts

Published September 08, 2011

Earlier this year Annie Jacobsen's book Area 51: An Uncensored History of America's Top Secret Military Base drew groans from skeptics and believers alike who derided her claim that the infamous 1947 Roswell crash was really a spy plane sent by Joseph Stalin, piloted by “alien-like children” created by Nazi doctor Josef Mengele intended to create a mass panic about an alien invasion.

The story was based entirely on one anonymous source without a shred of supporting evidence, which is not unheard of among UFO reports. UFO enthusiasts who prefer some documentation with their speculation might prefer journalist Leslie Kean's recent book UFOs: Generals, Pilots, and Government Officials Go on the Record.

Kean's book topped the New York Times bestseller list—an unusual achievement for a nonfiction book about extraterrestrials. Part of the reason the book has done so well, Kean told Discovery News, is that “I'm trying to be very straightforward as a journalist, laying out what we know based on the official records. Also, many of the chapters were written by other people [including generals and former Arizona governor Fife Symington], and [former White House chief of staff] John Podesta wrote the foreword....They're not just taking my word for it, the reader gets to actually read what these authorities have to say in their own words.”

There are many cases in the book -- from a UFO sighted over Chicago's O’Hare Airport in 2006 to reports from Brazil and Iran—but there's one famous UFO incident that was solved shortly after the book came out.

The Belgian UFO Photo

It's a famous photo taken April 4, 1990, by a man known only as “Patrick” in the Belgian town of Petit-Rechain. Patrick and a female friend noticed a strange aircraft with four lights hovering in the sky above her home. He took a photo which has been called “one of the most convincing” pieces of evidence for the existence of UFOs.

According to one of Kean's contributors, Major General Wilfried De Brouwer of the Belgian Air Force, a distinguished team of experts analyzed the photograph: “A team under the direction of Professor Marc Acheroy discovered that a triangular shape became visible when overexposing the slide. After that, the original color slide was further analyzed by Francois Louange, specialist in satellite imagery with the French national space research center, CNES; Dr. Richard Haines, former senior scientist with NASA; and finally Professor Andre Marion, doctor in nuclear physics and professor at the University of Paris-Sud and also with the CNES.”

The team came to various conclusions, including that there was no indication of tampering with the slide, and that the lights were positioned symmetrically on the craft. A 2002 re-analysis “using more sophisticated technology confirmed the earlier findings and concluded that ‘the picture was not faked. The experts noted especially that the unique characteristics of the lights are very specific and said such an effect would not occur if the picture was a hoax.’”

In fact the photographer confessed on July 26 that he had indeed hoaxed the photograph. The image, which was (twice) deemed authentic by the panel of distinguished scientists and experts, was really of a small piece of triangular Styrofoam spray-painted black with lights attached. The skeptics had been right all along.

Kean acknowledged that the hoaxing posed a serious problem: “If the guy says it was a hoax, we pretty much have to assume it was. We know that he’s a liar. He either lied the first time, or he's lying now. I'm going to have to assume that he’s telling the truth now, even though there’s some questions about it.” Belgian UFO expert Patrick Ferryn, who appeared in the History Channel show Secret Access: UFOs on the Record, which was based on Kean’s book, has also concluded that the photo was hoaxed.

The fact that a UFO photo turned out to be a hoax is nothing new; many have been proven fake. But it raises serious questions about the scientific analysis. How could these distinguished Ph.D. experts with decades of experience have been convinced by a piece of painted Styrofoam? And what does that say about other famous UFO photos that have also been “authenticated” by these and other experts?

Kean agrees: “It's a disturbing development, and it shows how hard it is to authenticate a photograph. At the time the book was put together, everyone was relying on what we knew from the labs. As a reporter I'm going to take that information seriously, and De Brouwer certainly took it very seriously and now the guy comes out [confessing the hoax], so we’re stuck with a serious problem that's still being investigated.” Kean noted, however, that the faked photo is only part of a larger so-called “Belgian Wave” of UFOs around the same time, and the hoax “doesn’t discount all the sightings that took place.”

The Mysterious Five Percent

Kean first got interested in UFOs back in 1999 when she received a copy of a French report summarizing two years of UFO evidence analysis. The report, which was not an official government document but included over a dozen retired generals, scientists, and space experts, concluded that about 95 percent of UFO reports likely have mundane, prosaic explanations. Yet that remaining elusive 5 percent “cannot be easily attributed to earthly sources” and might be extraterrestrial in origin.

Despite the reluctance of many UFO eyewitnesses and officials to come forward, Kean felt no apprehension about researching the book. “A lot of people talk about being threatened, and the CIA tapping their phones and all that. I think a lot of that stuff is exaggerated among people in the UFO community,” Kean says. Besides, she notes, she's hardly revealing classified information: “I'm really only reporting on information that’s out there, I'm reporting on official information. Anybody can look at the documents and the data... None of this is top secret information that would be any threat to anybody.”

http://www.foxnews.com/scitech/2011/09/08/bestselling-ufo-book-reveals-new-evidence-encounters-and-insider-accounts/#ixzz1XNgZC2I4

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« Reply #4985 on: Sep 8th, 2011, 12:03pm »

Inside Costa Rica

Thursday 08 September 2011

Lights In The Costa Rican Night Sky NOT Part Of An Extraterrestrial Visit

The series of lights in the night sky that caught on cameras some 10 days ago have been identified, and no they are not extraterrestrial or UFO's, but rather, simple balloons with a light inside.

The Brenes family revealed the mystery, telling authorities investigating the UFO sighting that they brought the balloons from the United States and used as part of a 50 year anniversary celebrations.

The balloons, which are biodegradable and made in China, can reach an altitude of 900 metres (almost 2.000 feet) and can be seen for several kilometres, appearing as a fireball in the sky.

In Costa Rica the sale and use of these balloons is not very frequent. The Brenes family, in addition to using them, also sells the units to the public, telling investigators that they sold them to relative in the Caribbean, which was also the focus of a possible UFO sighting.

A spokesperson fro the Brenes family told the media of the use of the balloons after they saw the news reports and read in disbelief the comments of experts who said "the lights have an intelligent movement about them".

The balloons were launched on the night of Saturday August 27 and was seen by a neighbours in El Rodeo de Coronado, that included respected doctors and judicial agents who were attending a party nearby.

According to experts, there is confusion by the public of what is a UFO, which includes any type of ": (this is how the article ends. Crystal)

photos after the jump
http://www.insidecostarica.com/dailynews/2011/september/08/costarica11090804.htm

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« Reply #4986 on: Sep 8th, 2011, 1:21pm »

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« Reply #4987 on: Sep 8th, 2011, 6:56pm »

Huge Defunct Satellite to Plunge to Earth Soon, NASA Says

by Leonard David, SPACE.com’s Space Insider Columnist
Date: 07 September 2011

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CREDIT: NASA Marshall Space Flight Center
The Upper Atmosphere Research Satellite hangs in the grasp of the Remote Manipulator System against the blackness of space during deployment from Space Shuttle Discovery, September 1991.


Heads up! That's the word from NASA today (Sept. 7) given the impending re-entry of a 6.5-ton satellite through Earth's atmosphere.

The huge Upper Atmosphere Research Satellite (UARS) is expected to re-enter Earth's atmosphere in an uncontrolled fall in late September or early October. Much of the spacecraft is expected to burn up during re-entry, but some pieces are expected to make it intact to the ground, NASA officials said.

The U.S. space agency will be taking measures to inform the public about the pieces of the spacecraft that are expected to survive re-entry.
"It is too early to say exactly when UARS will re-enter and what geographic area may be affected, but NASA is watching the satellite closely and will keep you informed," NASA said in a statement released today (Sept. 7).

The satellite launched to Earth orbit in 1991 aboard NASA's space shuttle Discovery and was decommissioned on Dec. 14, 2005. It is 35 feet (10.7 meters) long and 15 feet (4.5 m) wide.

Small risk to public

One analysis of re-entry survivability for UARS components was performed several years ago with a software program called Object Re-entry Survival Analysis Tool, or ORSAT for short.

That computer analysis showed that about 150 component types, including the parent body of the satellite, will demise during re-entry, and 12 types (26 counting multiple components) would endure the fiery fall to Earth.

That appraisal indicated a surviving mass of 1,170 pounds (532 kilograms) falling within a debris footprint length of some 500 miles (800 kilometers).

"The risk to public safety or property is extremely small, and safety is NASA's top priority," noted a NASA website dedicated to the re-entry. "Since the beginning of the Space Age in the late-1950s, there have been no confirmed reports of an injury resulting from re-entering space objects. Nor is there a record of significant property damage resulting from a satellite re-entry."

Nonetheless, there is a chance that pieces of debris from the satellite will crash in areas accessible to the public.

According to NASA, on UARS re-entry day, "if you find something you think may be a piece of UARS, do not touch it. Contact a local law enforcement official for assistance."

NASA will host a press conference on Friday (Sept. 9) to discuss the anticipated re-entry.

Public to be informed

The actual date of re-entry is difficult to predict because it depends on solar flux and the spacecraft's orientation as its orbit decays. As re-entry draws closer, predictions on the date will become more reliable.

NASA plans to post updates weekly until about four days before the anticipated re-entry. The agency will then share daily updates until about 24 hours before re-entry, when it will begin even more frequent postings.

According to a recent National Research Council report, we have now reached a tipping point, called the Kessler Threshold, at which there is already enough orbital debris that even if no more were added, new debris will continually be created through collisions between existing objects.

http://www.space.com/12859-nasa-satellite-falling-space-debris-uars.html
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« Reply #4988 on: Sep 8th, 2011, 8:00pm »

on Sep 8th, 2011, 6:56pm, Swamprat wrote:
Huge Defunct Satellite to Plunge to Earth Soon, NASA Says

by Leonard David, SPACE.com’s Space Insider Columnist
Date: 07 September 2011

User Image
CREDIT: NASA Marshall Space Flight Center
The Upper Atmosphere Research Satellite hangs in the grasp of the Remote Manipulator System against the blackness of space during deployment from Space Shuttle Discovery, September 1991.


Heads up! That's the word from NASA today (Sept. 7) given the impending re-entry of a 6.5-ton satellite through Earth's atmosphere.

The huge Upper Atmosphere Research Satellite (UARS) is expected to re-enter Earth's atmosphere in an uncontrolled fall in late September or early October. Much of the spacecraft is expected to burn up during re-entry, but some pieces are expected to make it intact to the ground, NASA officials said.

The U.S. space agency will be taking measures to inform the public about the pieces of the spacecraft that are expected to survive re-entry.
"It is too early to say exactly when UARS will re-enter and what geographic area may be affected, but NASA is watching the satellite closely and will keep you informed," NASA said in a statement released today (Sept. 7).

The satellite launched to Earth orbit in 1991 aboard NASA's space shuttle Discovery and was decommissioned on Dec. 14, 2005. It is 35 feet (10.7 meters) long and 15 feet (4.5 m) wide.

Small risk to public

One analysis of re-entry survivability for UARS components was performed several years ago with a software program called Object Re-entry Survival Analysis Tool, or ORSAT for short.

That computer analysis showed that about 150 component types, including the parent body of the satellite, will demise during re-entry, and 12 types (26 counting multiple components) would endure the fiery fall to Earth.

That appraisal indicated a surviving mass of 1,170 pounds (532 kilograms) falling within a debris footprint length of some 500 miles (800 kilometers).

"The risk to public safety or property is extremely small, and safety is NASA's top priority," noted a NASA website dedicated to the re-entry. "Since the beginning of the Space Age in the late-1950s, there have been no confirmed reports of an injury resulting from re-entering space objects. Nor is there a record of significant property damage resulting from a satellite re-entry."

Nonetheless, there is a chance that pieces of debris from the satellite will crash in areas accessible to the public.

According to NASA, on UARS re-entry day, "if you find something you think may be a piece of UARS, do not touch it. Contact a local law enforcement official for assistance."

NASA will host a press conference on Friday (Sept. 9) to discuss the anticipated re-entry.

Public to be informed

The actual date of re-entry is difficult to predict because it depends on solar flux and the spacecraft's orientation as its orbit decays. As re-entry draws closer, predictions on the date will become more reliable.

NASA plans to post updates weekly until about four days before the anticipated re-entry. The agency will then share daily updates until about 24 hours before re-entry, when it will begin even more frequent postings.

According to a recent National Research Council report, we have now reached a tipping point, called the Kessler Threshold, at which there is already enough orbital debris that even if no more were added, new debris will continually be created through collisions between existing objects.

http://www.space.com/12859-nasa-satellite-falling-space-debris-uars.html


Hey Swamp!

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« Reply #4989 on: Sep 8th, 2011, 8:02pm »

Mashable

8 Star Trek Gadgets That Are No Longer Fiction
by Sarah Kessler
8 September 2011

Forty-five years ago, the first episode of Star Trek aired on NBC. It was five years after the Soviet Union launched the first human into space, and the franchise explored a fictional 23rd century “United Federation of Planets” through a crew based on the starship Enterprise.

Six television series and 11 movies later, some aspects of Star Trek no longer seem futuristic (people still don’t live in space, but they are working on vacationing there).

To celebrate Star Trek’s anniversary and lasting impact, we enlisted help from the “Commander” of international Star Trek fan association Starfleet, Dave Blaser.

He and a handful of other Trekkies helped us point out these eight Star Trek technologies that have shifted from future fantasy to present reality.

Examples after the jump

http://mashable.com/2011/09/08/star-trek-gadgets/

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« Reply #4990 on: Sep 9th, 2011, 07:44am »

New York Times

September 8, 2011
In Shift, Iran’s President Calls for End to Syrian Crackdown
By NEIL MacFARQUHAR

For years, posters celebrating the decades-old alliance joining Syria and Iran festooned the streets and automobiles of the Syrian capital — the images of Presidents Bashar al-Assad and Mahmoud Ahmadinejad embroidered with roses and daffodils.

But that alliance is now strained, and on Thursday, President Ahmadinejad of Iran became the most recent, and perhaps the most unexpected, world leader to call for President Assad to end his violent crackdown of an uprising challenging his authoritarian rule in Syria.

When the Arab Spring broke out, upending the regional order, Iran seemed to emerge a winner: its regional adversary, Hosni Mubarak of Egypt, was ousted from power and its most important ally, Syria, was emboldened.

But the popular demands for change swept into Syria, and now, as Mr. Assad’s forces continue to shoot unarmed demonstrators, Iran sees its fortunes fading on two fronts: its image as a guardian of Arab resistance has been battered, and its most important regional strategic ally is in danger of being ousted.

Even while it has been accused of providing financial and material support for Mr. Assad’s crackdown, Iran has increased calls for Syria to end the violence and reform its political process, a formula Tehran apparently hopes will repair its image and, if heeded, possibly bolster Mr. Assad’s standing.

“Regional nations can assist the Syrian people and government in the implementation of essential reforms and the resolution of their problems,” Mr. Ahmadinejad said in an interview in Tehran, according to his official Web site. Other press accounts of the interview with a Portuguese television station quoted him as also saying, “A military solution is never the right solution,” an ironic assessment from a man whose own questionable re-election in 2009 prompted huge street demonstrations that were put down with decisive force.

The collapse of the Assad government would be a strategic blow to Shiite-majority Iran, cutting off its most important bridge to the Arab world while empowering its main regional rivals, Saudi Arabia and its increasingly influential competitor, Turkey, both Sunni-majority nations. Iran would also lose its main arms pipeline to Hezbollah in Lebanon, further undermining its ambition to be the primary regional power from the Levant to Pakistan.

Not long ago, Iran and its Arab allies like Hezbollah’s leader, Hassan Nasrallah, were seen as folk heroes to many Arabs for their confrontational stance toward the United States and Israel.

But Iran has suddenly found itself on the wrong side of the barricades.

“Assad’s heroic image of resistance is being watered down,” said Vali Nasr, a professor at Tufts University and the author of “The Shia Revival: How Conflicts Within Islam Will Shape the Future.” “That’s the problem for Iran and for Hezbollah. They are trying to find out how to have their cake and eat it, too.”

Demonstrators clogging the streets from Tunisia to Egypt to Syria are demanding freedom and democracy, forcing Iran to openly struggle with the problem of how to endorse the revolutionary spirit while simultaneously buttressing its crucial strategic Arab ally.

“They don’t fit into the framework of toppling dictators and democracy and all that,” said Paul Salem, director of the Carnegie Middle East Center in Lebanon.

Yet many analysts say that the Iranians have tried to play both sides of the barricades, supporting their allies in Syria with all manner of aid while simultaneously voicing support for the revolutions elsewhere, initially calling them the offspring of their own 1979 revolution.

“It is mostly for the Arab gallery, rather than a tangible policy shift,” said Cengiz Candar, a prominent Turkish columnist. “In terms of the Syrian opposition, there is nobody Iran can stand on in case the regime is replaced.”

Iran has been helping Syria with everything from money to advice on controlling the Internet, analysts say, offering its expertise to help stave off the catastrophe that Mr. Assad’s collapse would be for Tehran’s regional ambitions. Aside from propping up Syria with billions of dollars, it has pressed others, including Iraq, to support Mr. Assad.

Syrian protesters take it as a matter of faith that security forces from both Iran and Hezbollah have been drawn into the fray, trading cellphone videos that are said to show Hezbollah fighters streaming across the border in black S.U.V.’s.

Given that the Assad government has had about 40 years to perfect the instruments of repression, most analysts believe that it does not really need men or much advice from the outside.

But in its ever more stringent sanctions against Syria, the European Union included the Quds force of Iran’s Revolutionary Guards, accusing it of providing “technical assistance, equipment and support to the Syrian security services to repress civilian protest movements.”

Analysts are convinced that behind the scenes the Iranians are pushing for a tough line, suggesting that their repression of the 2009 democracy protests in Iran is the model to follow.

“Iran calling for Syria to dialogue rather than use force against its population is akin to Silvio Berlusconi telling Charlie Sheen not to womanize,” said Karim Sadjadpour of the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace, who is a sharp critic of the Iranian leadership.

Analysts say the scale and the duration of the protests in Syria just became too great for the Iranians to ignore, and yet they still try.

“Muslim people in Egypt, Libya, Tunisia, Yemen and other countries are in need of this vigilance today,” the supreme leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, said in a recent sermon marking the end of the holy month of Ramadan. “They must not let the enemies hijack the victories they have gained.”

Then he talked about the oppression of people in Bahrain — which is mainly Shiite — before moving on to the famine in Somalia.

On the other hand, the constant focus on the potential repercussions of the uprisings clearly shows that Iran’s leaders are worried. Not least among their worries is that the protests could set off renewed demonstrations at home, although aside from some environmental protests in the northwest, nothing significant has been reported.

There is also an increasingly vocal school of thought in Iran that says it has too much vested in the Assad government. Among other things, it has allowed regional competitors like Turkey, a largely Sunni country, to advance at the expense of Shiite Iran. The Iranians’ minority status across much of the Arab world can make their religious credentials suspect to the majority — who might accuse them of being a force for sectarianism.

“The reality of the matter is that our absolute support for Syria was a wrong policy,” Ahmad Avaei, a member of Parliament, told the Web site Khabar Online. “The people protesting against the government in that country are religious people, and the protest movement there is a grass-roots movement.”

At stake is Iran’s image in the wider region, and its ability to add teeth to its claim to be upholding Arab and Muslim interests in confronting Israel.

“Iran wants to be perceived as the voice of the downtrodden in the Middle East, the one country that speaks truth to power,” Mr. Sadjadpour said. “Their close rapport with the Assad regime undermines that image.”

Anne Barnard contributed reporting from Beirut, Lebanon; Heba Afify from Cairo; and Artin Afkhami from Boston.

http://www.nytimes.com/2011/09/09/world/middleeast/09iran.html?_r=1&ref=world

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« Reply #4991 on: Sep 9th, 2011, 07:44am »

back in a bit

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« Reply #4992 on: Sep 9th, 2011, 12:12pm »

Huffington Post

by Lee Speigel

Notre Dame Football Game Delayed By Lightning And ... UFO?

First Posted: 9/9/11 08:43 AM ET Updated: 9/9/11 08:43 AM ET

As thousands of Notre Dame football fans watched the Fighting Irish battling it out with the University of South Florida on Sept. 3, a fierce lightning storm approached the Indiana stadium, leading the crowd to evacuate. And while the game was in delay mode, many people caught sight of several unidentified flying objects darting around the lightning bolts in the sky.

Video captured bright orb-like objects as well as tube-shaped elongated ones circling in the sky above.

UFO aficionados have questions. Were the objects merely part of the storm as debris flying about in the wind? Balloons or birds caught in the ongoing turbulence and seen on video? Or were they alien gridiron fans looking to watch a big game from above while refueling their planet-hopping propulsion systems?

"Since it was at a stadium, it would be astonishing if there weren't 20 videotapes of it," said NBC News space consultant and UFO skeptic James Oberg. "In a case like this, you start out looking for other images and go from there."

Oberg, a former NASA rocket scientist and author of numerous books, including "Star-Crossed Orbits: Inside the U.S.-Russian Space Alliance," says there's enough teasing behind UFO reports in general, "and I wish we could filter out the good stuff, but so far we haven't."

Another doubting eye on the Notre Dame reports comes from Robert Sheaffer, a longtime skeptical investigator of UFO claims.

"Unfortunately, there's no way to tell how far the object is from the camera," Sheaffer said. "You can clearly see the raindrops coming down, illuminated by the stadium lights. When the object's apparent motion is fastest, it looks very much like the so-called 'Roswell Rods' that Jose Escamilla has been promoting.

"The angular motion of the object is too fast for the video to capture it clearly. The frames are too slow, and so the object blurs and stretches out into a rod," added Sheaffer, author of the new book "Psychic Vibrations: Skeptical Giggles From The Skeptical Inquirer."

Oberg said the proliferation of digital cameras should make the identification process of UFOs easier these days.

"In a lightning storm, there's always interesting, if bizarre, lightning phenomena, and you wish you had better documentation and multiple cameras and an ability to establish what particular origin that this kind of light would have," he said. "With so many cameras out there now, it's getting harder and harder to make excuses for the absence of corroborative photographs."

WATCH THE NOTRE DAME UFO VIDEO:





Oberg's skeptical colleague, Sheaffer, agrees that the evidence from Notre Dame is currently too scant to suggest extraterrestrial influence.

"I think that the [Notre Dame] object is a bit farther away than that. It could easily be a piece of wind-borne debris, maybe cardboard, spun around by the severe winds of the thunderstorm. It could also be a bird, frantically trying to make its way to safety," he said. "Without distance information, we can't say for sure what it is. There's no reason to think that it represents any kind of alien activity."

What do you think? Was this an ET visitation, storm-driven debris or insects flying very close to the camera? Send us a comment below.

By the way, USF beat Notre Dame, 23-20 -- in case you're keeping score.

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2011/09/09/notre-dame-ufo_n_954595.html

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« Reply #4993 on: Sep 9th, 2011, 12:19pm »

Wired

Sept. 9, 1999: 9/9/99 No Big Deal for Computers
By Randy Alfred
September 9, 2011 | 6:30 am
Categories: 20th century, Computers and IT


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Photo: Duty officials of the Ukrainian government’s Y2K crisis center, attached to the Emergency Situation Ministry,
monitor computer screens in the capital Kiev in the early hours of Jan. 1, 2000.
(Efrem Lukatsky/AP)



1999: Some people fear massive computer problems, but does 9/9/99 create headaches? Nein, nein, nein.

As 1999 entered its final months, most of the tech anxiety focused on Jan. 1, 2000, and what would happen if older computers interpreted 00, a year marked with only two digits, as 1900 rather than 2000. The Y2K problem was getting plenty of attention in IT departments, in the media and in government.

But there were also worries because some data systems used the digits 9999 to mark the end of a file. If a program was coded to stop running at 9999, the logic went, it might abruptly terminate processing a file if it came to the date 9/9/99.

Sept. 9 was not the first date that caused concern. Some nervous nerdies also worried about Jan. 1, 1999. 1/1/1999, with three 1s, three 9s. But … no prob.

Sept. 9 in fact was not even the first 9999 date of the year. That came on April 9, the 99th day of ‘99. Any dating system that simply counted days from the first of the year and used just two numbers for the year might have been vulnerable. But nothing of note happened.

Nonetheless (or ninetheless) 9/9/99 was still causing some apprehension. Those who downplayed the concern noted that the date would translate into machine code as 090999, which would not stop any process.

Conversely, at least one expert worried that the real problem wasn’t in the date being interpreted as an end-of-file marker (or trailer), but in an end-of-file marker being interpreted as a date. In this scenario, ill-written software itself intended to patch the Y2K glitch might go overboard and read an intentional 9999 end-of-file value as a date and convert it into an explicit 1999 date. Without the 9999 trailer at the end of the file, a program might go on running after it was supposed to stop, said Fred Kohun, associate dean of the school of communication and information systems at Robert Morris College in Pittsburgh.

Some IT people regarded the whole thing as a “pernicious myth … in the order of credibility of the abominable snowman.” Other IT departments took the 9/9/99 opportunity to test their contingency plans for Y2K. If nothing happened, they’d had a rehearsal for a perceived larger threat. If something did happen, they were at the ready, or at least as ready as they could muster.

In the end, no big problems materialized. That turned out be a preview of Y2K itself, which — depending on which view you adopted — was either a colossal waste of time, money and effort, or the lack of trouble was a vindication of all the time, money and effort that prevented problems before they could occur.

This much is certain. Today is the dozenth anniversary of 9/9/99, and that won’t happen again in our calendar for at least 99.9999 years.

http://www.wired.com/thisdayintech/2011/09/0909090999-not-computer-problem/

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« Reply #4994 on: Sep 9th, 2011, 12:21pm »

Science Daily

Mantis Shrimp: Ocean Floor Critters Communicate in Synchronized Rumbles

ScienceDaily (Sep. 9, 2011)

Understanding animal communication has long been a fascinating and vast area of research for those who dare to welcome the challenge. Some species use body language to express their message while others use calls and loud noises. In fact, some animals communicate in frequencies that are inaudible to humans, either above or below our hearing range.

But how do critters on the ocean floor use communication to fend off predators, attract mates and protect their homes? This was the question six scientists, including two students from the University of Miami Rosenstiel School of Marine & Atmospheric Science, Erica Staaterman and Austin Gallagher set out to answer. Their destination was the muddy water off the coast of Catalina Island, California. Their subject was the California mantis shrimp Hemisquilla californiensis, a benthic crustacean that measures 8 to 10 inches.

"Rarely are there studies of benthic acoustics (sounds from the oceans floor)," said Staaterman. "There has always been suspicion that burrow-dwelling creatures like the mantis shrimp make some sort of noise, and our research is going to help us better understand life and communication on the ocean floor."

After collecting data using various instruments that included a coupled audio-video system, a hydrophone array and an autonomous recording unit, the team was able to develop theories about communication on the ocean floor.

The study uncovered the fact that mantis shrimp made noise, each individual seeming to have its own 'voice.' The males made rhythmic 'rumbles' in groups of three that may help to attract females to their burrows or defend their territories against neighboring males.

"These sounds recorded in the field were different than what we recorded in tanks, so to hear these creatures communicating in the wild was very special. Our research team noted the 'rumbles' were so synchronized that it sounded like a chorus, similar to that of groups of birds or frogs," she added.

http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2011/09/110908124500.htm

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