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 veryhotthread  Author  Topic: Stuff & Nonsense  (Read 44422 times)
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« Reply #5295 on: Oct 18th, 2011, 11:51am »

Geeky Gadgets

The USB Big Mouse

By Roland Hutchinson on Tuesday 18th October 2011 4:01 pm in Gadgets, Humor, USB Gadgets



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We are not sure why you would want a computer mouse which is actually bigger than your hand, but anyway the guys over at Brando obviously think there is a need for one, so they have launched the USB Big Mouse.

The USB Big Mouse measures 175mm long by 10-5mm wide by 55mm tall, and it features some built in flashing LED lights, as you can see from the photo it is rather large.

Do you think this is a toy?

Absolutely Not. It is an usable USB optical mouse with a big size. The USB “BIG” Mouse measures in at 175mm long by 105mm width by 55mm tall. It’s design with flashing LED and translucent edge, offers you a beautiful “BIG” gadget on your desk.

Should you want the USB Big Mouse, it is available for $20 from Brando: http://usb.brando.com/usb-big-mouse_p02543c037d15.html

http://www.geeky-gadgets.com/the-usb-big-mouse-18-10-2011/

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« Reply #5296 on: Oct 19th, 2011, 08:17am »

thetowntalk.com

What arrogance


8:08 AM, Oct. 18, 2011

Astronomer Seth Shostak of Search for Extraterrestrial Intelligence says there are 400 billion stars in the Milky Way galaxy and 400 billion galaxies in the universe. If just the stars in the Milky Way galaxy were turned into grains of salt they would fill a dump truck.

What we have been able to see is through a glass and darkly and is but a palm full of salt from that dump truck.

I say that to say this: How are we so certain when our insignificance is of such magnitude that we are insignificant in and of each grain in the dump truck? In fact it would take 100 earths to make a grain of that salt.

We tell ourselves there is purposefulness in the universe because it explains at least in some way why we’re different from a tree or a rock. Clever trees and rocks, but trees and rocks the same.

We think we are special, and Hurricane Katrina is unimpressed. All creatures posture, males in search of breeding opportunities for the most part, but nothing in nature is absolute. The bumble bee sometimes brings down the buffalo.

Like a lizard displaying his neck flesh, we posture that an all-powerful being created the universe on our behalf and gave it to us to do with as we will. What arrogance!

Damian Brumley
Montgomery

http://www.thetowntalk.com/article/20111018/OPINION03/110180322
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« Reply #5297 on: Oct 19th, 2011, 08:28am »

Good morning Swamprat.
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« Reply #5298 on: Oct 19th, 2011, 08:31am »

LA Times

Egypt protesters post their wills on Twitter, Facebook

Anticipating more military violence after the killings of Coptic Christians, protesters show their determination to remain defiant to the end.

By Jeffrey Fleishman, Los Angeles Times
9:36 PM PDT, October 18, 2011
Reporting from Cairo

In keystroke bursts of poetry, defiance and humor, Egyptian activists are posting their wills on Twitter.

The electronic missives, vibrant with immediacy and edged with wit, specify how organs should be donated and small sums of money spent. One activist asked that his picture not be posted on Facebook so as to spare his mother pain. Another sought to calm the country's deepening sectarianism by arranging for a grave in a cemetery shared by Christians and Muslims.

"Bury me in the grassy island in [Tahrir] square," wrote protester Metry Ghebreyal, conjuring up the hallowed ground at the epicenter of the uprising that overthrew President Hosni Mubarak in February.

After the recent deadly clashes between soldiers and Coptic Christian protesters, activists fear their peaceful revolution is slipping into a dangerous phase. The ruling military council has expanded martial law and has pushed back the timetable for handing the nation over to a civilian government.

The wills are a distillation of young lives imprinted by social media and longing for social change. They are part publicity stunt, part reflection, offering a glimpse into the desires and frustrations of a movement that inspired upheavals across the region only to find itself mired in an unfinished, often messy, revolution.

Talk of national renewal remains vigorous. But there is disillusionment that after months of protests, razor wire and rifles glimmer in the streets while men with gold-brimmed hats still hold power behind closed doors. The demonstrations ahead, activists suggest, may become bloody, especially in light of the violence of Oct. 9, when 22 Copts were killed by thugs and troops firing weapons and ramming military vehicles into crowds.

"Death has become so near and we are all ready to die for Egypt," a group of activists wrote. "You need to publicly speak out against the repression of the military, not just their army trucks and rifles, but also their hypocritical use of the media. Write and write.... This is an open invitation for everyone to document their will."

The effort, which has spread to Facebook, is called Martyrs in Demand: Write your own will against the Supreme Council of the Armed Forces. The idea arose after Mina Daniel, a Coptic Christian activist, was shot in the chest Oct. 9. His will asked that his body be carried through Tahrir. Mourners honored the wish, marching his coffin from the morgue through the busy square and toward the graveyard.

Thousands of people turned out for Daniel's vigil, and for the funeral processions of other fallen protesters, whose deaths symbolized a nation's yearning — and yet reluctance — for change.

Egypt is stuck in a battle between those envisioning a new spirit of democracy in the Middle East and those fearful — even resentful — of how such a tremor will recast traditional powers, especially the omnipresent military. The wills also point to the divisions and suspicions over Islam's political prominence and what effect that will have on November's parliamentary elections and the drafting of a constitution.

"Do not trust the military and do not think that any good will come from the Muslim Brotherhood," one activist wrote in his will. "Never give Tahrir Square up. It is the only guarantee that the revolution will succeed."

Other postings blend the inspirational with the eerily specific: "I donate my eyes and the rest of my body to the injured," wrote Islam Hafez. "Continue our revolution."

The anger of activists against the military, notably Field Marshal Mohamed Hussein Tantawi, the head of the ruling council, is searing: "My will is executing Tantawi and his gang … so that Tahrir remains clean of their blood," Ahmed Fouad Eldidi posted on Facebook. "Military officers should be like any public employee getting his salary from our taxes to serve us."

Heba Khattab was short and direct: "Don't leave my rights, bring back my country from those who kidnapped it."

Not all Egyptians feel this way. Many are tired of protests and revere the military as protector of the country during political uncertainty and economic turmoil. But the activists plot and type away, sending out news on demonstrations and posting final wishes that border on melodrama and humor.

One protester doesn't have much money to bequeath, but knows how he would want it spent: "If I die crushed [by an army truck], don't forget to get vengeance for me. There are 200 Egyptian pounds [$34] in my drawer, please take them and buy ice cream for all my followers. They are good people."

http://www.latimes.com/news/nationworld/world/la-fg-egypt-twitter-wills-20111019,0,7211335.story

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« Reply #5299 on: Oct 19th, 2011, 08:34am »

Telegraph

Ohio residents warned as 'agressive' wild animals including lions and bears escape zoo

Police warn residents to stay indoors as they hunt for lions, tigers and bears that have escaped from an exotic zoo in rural Ohio after its owner was found dead.

by Alastair Good
11:41AM BST 19 Oct 2011

Dozens of exotic animals escaped from the Muskingum County Animal Farm in Zanesville, eastern Ohio after its owner was found dead and the animal cages unlocked.

“We've got a little bit of a list compiled. Mainly, there were grizzly bears and black bears there. There were cheetahs, there were lions, and there were tigers.

"Any kind of a cat species and any kind of a bear species right now is what we're mainly concerned about,” explained Sheriff Matt Lutz of the Muskingum County Police Department.

Panicked residents called the Sheriff's department after the animals were spotted along a nearby highway.

Four deputies with assault rifles went to the farm to investigate and found owner Terry Thompson dead and all the cage doors open. It is not known how many animals escaped.

“One of the deputies told me they felt they had shot approximately 25 animals on the way up to the house to check on Mr Thompson. That number could be higher or lower. When they're shooting animals in all directions, it's hard to keep track," said Sheriff Lutz.

He warned local people to stay indoors and said that local schools would remain closed until all the animals were caught or killed.

Staff from the Columbus Zoo and the Ohio Department of Natural Resources were called in to help police handle the situation. So far no injuries have been reported.


Video after the jump
http://www.telegraph.co.uk/earth/wildlife/8835903/Ohio-residents-warned-as-agressive-wild-animals-including-lions-and-bears-escape-zoo.html

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« Reply #5300 on: Oct 19th, 2011, 08:38am »

Wired Danger Room

Flying Spy Surge: Surveillance Missions Over Afghanistan Quadruple

By Noah Shachtman
October 19, 2011 | 6:30 am
Categories: Air Force

In mid-2009, as the Pentagon began sending a slew of new spy planes to Afghanistan, a top military official joked that the U.S. was about to “blot out the sun” with all the new surveillance drones there.

Turns out, that official wasn’t entirely kidding. Back in 2009, NATO aircraft flew about 22 surveillance missions per day over Afghanistan. Today, according to military statistics, the coalition is flying nearly 85 spy sorties daily, for a total of more than 22,800 missions in the first nine months in 2011.

Back when the official cracked his joke, there was only a handful of spy planes flying at any given time over Afghanistan. Now, there are 54 Predator and Reaper drones in the air at once, most of them above Afghanistan. They’re joined by an array of executive-planes-turned-aerial-snoops and dozens of traditional fighters and bombers, all of which now come equipped with surveillance cameras. Thanks to this aerial spy surge, Afghanistan has become a virtual Panopticon.

It’s not entirely clear what effect all of these new eyes in the sky are having; it’s difficult to take one category of gear, and assign to it a military result. NATO says the number of insurgent attacks is down about a quarter from last summer. But compared to the same period in 2009, militant strikes are up by roughly 50 percent (.pdf): http://www.isaf.nato.int/article/transcripts/isaf-violence-statistics-and-analysis-media-brief-sept.-29-2011.html
Just because you can see an enemy does not mean you can stop him, it would seem.

One thing is clear, however. The role of air power is changing. Pilots still drop bombs and fire off missiles. But the attacks are relatively rare, compared to the number of ISR (“Intelligence Surveillance and Reconnaissance”) runs. Spy sorties typically outnumber strike missions by 4-to-1 or more.

“Air forces spent the last 100 years figuring out how to hit any target anywhere on the face of the earth, in all weather, day, or night, with precision, to precisely target any spot on the globe. We can do that now,” e-mails retired Gen. David Deptula, the one-time Air Force intelligence chief. “The difficult challenge is finding those objects, places, people upon which or whom we want to affect. Ergo the increased attention to all aspects of ISR.”

Other forms of air power have also increased since 2009 — although not as much as the ISR missions. Refueling flights have jumped from an average of 35 per day to 48. Cargo sorties went from 18 daily to 28. With tens of thousands of new ground troops pushing into Taliban strongholds, the number of forces needing to be rescued has risen sharply. Personnel recovery missions have more than doubled since 2009, from about 3.5 per day in 2009 to 7.7 today.

Those missions may start to decline if the Obama administration follows through on its pledge to withdraw ground forces from Afghanistan. But the spy surge will likely continue. The Air Force is supposed to add nine more drone combat air patrols by 2013. And then there are the dozens of new blimps and aerostats floating above Afghanistan, all equipped with unblinking eyes.

http://www.wired.com/dangerroom/2011/10/flying-spy-surge/#more-59525

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« Reply #5301 on: Oct 19th, 2011, 08:46am »

Hollywood Reporter

Scream Awards: 5 Best Moments From the Show
8:48 PM PDT 10/18/2011
by Rebecca Ford


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Spike TV’s event celebrating sci-fi, horror and fantasy aired October 18.

Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Part 2 may have taken home the top prize, and the most awards at the Scream Awards, which aired Tuesday, but there were plenty of winners that night, from Colin Farrell's slightly sexual poem for Robert Downey Jr. to George Lucas' surprise appearance. The Harry Potter tribute was a fitting way to say goodbye to the series, with Daniel Radcliffe accepting the award for Ultimate Scream.

Additionally, many of the big names in sci-fi and thriller films attended the event and appeared on stage. Pee-Wee Herman accepted the Visionary Award, and Darren Aronofsky took home Best Director for Black Swan.

Here are five of the best moments from the show:

1. George Lucas Makes Surprise Appearance

When Darth Vader went on stage to accept his award for Ultimate Villain, he was joined by the creator of Star Wars, George Lucas. Vader mocked Lucas for the controversial changes he’d made to the recent Blu-ray release of the films, but Lucas promised that Vader would look ever better in 3D when the films release in February 2012.

2. The Cast of The Dark Knight Rises Shows Up

Joseph Gordon-Levitt, Anne Hathaway and Gary Oldman took time off of filming the highly anticipated The Dark Knight Rises to appear onstage and accept the award for Most Anticipated Movie.

3. Colin Farrell’s Love Poem for Robert Downey Jr.

To open the show, Colin Farrell appeared on stage with a little bit to say about Iron Man star Robert Downey Jr., who was receiving the Hero Award that night. Farrell recited a poem about the attractiveness of Downey, admitting that he’d probably have the hots for him if he were interested in men. Downey accepted the award and showed the world premeire of Sherlock Holmes: A Game of Shadows.

4. Quentin Tarantino Presents Award to Nicolas Cage

From one maverick to another, director Quentin Tarantino presented the Maverick Award to Nicolas Cage. As Cage took the stage, a motorcycle appeared on stage and the lake blazed with fire. Cage was sure to give a shout out of thanks to Tarantino, who he said was also a maverick.

5. True Blood’s Joe Manganiello Thanks His Wolf

Joe Manganiello, who stars as the very strong, and often shirtless werewolf in HBO’s True Blood, received the award for Male Breakout Performance. On stage, he made sure to thank his wolf, Thunder. “Because without him I’d just be a naked guy in the woods,” said Manganiello.

http://www.hollywoodreporter.com/news/scream-awards-5-best-moments-250256

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« Reply #5302 on: Oct 19th, 2011, 08:48am »

One more shot of Darth and George.


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« Reply #5303 on: Oct 19th, 2011, 7:21pm »

Stars and Stripes

Army seeking troops bitten by stray animals following rabies death

By Erik Slavin
Stars and Stripes
Published: October 19, 2011


SEOUL – The Army is redoubling its search for anyone who might have been bitten by a wild animal in Iraq or Afghanistan following the Aug. 31 death of a soldier from rabies, the service’s public health command stated Wednesday.

The Army is partnering with the other uniformed services and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention to find and treat servicemembers and civilians who were bitten by stray dogs and animals while deployed, according to a command news release.

“The death of this soldier is very tragic, and we are taking actions to ensure something like this does not happen again,” Lt. Col. Steven Cersovsky, director of epidemiology and disease surveillance at the Army’s Public Health Command, said in the release.

Spc. Kevin Shumaker, 24, became the first soldier to die from rabies since 1967 after he was bitten by a stray dog in Afghanistan.

Shumaker told his parents that he received three of six necessary rabies shots in Afghanistan, but did not receive the final shots because they were expired, according to a Contra Costa Times report. Shumaker, a 10th Mountain Division soldier, died at Fort Drum, N.Y., eight months after the bite.

“I would not be without my son if the proper treatment was given to Kevin,” his mother, Elaine Taylor, told the newspaper in September.

The Army set up a rabies response team following Shumaker’s death, which remains under investigation.

Officials at the public health command said they have been working aggressively with other services to prevent additional rabies cases, the news release stated.

In September, the Armed Forces Health Surveillance Center released a study reporting that servicemembers sustained 20,522 animal bites from January 2001 to December 2010, or about 40 per week. Most were bitten in the United States, where rabies is rare.

Of the 643 troops bitten in Iraq or Afghanistan, only 117 received rabies vaccines, according to the report.

The report notes that some of those bites may have come from military working dogs, which are vaccinated against rabies. The report also stated that the military’s bite statistics are undoubtedly underestimated, since minor bites often go unreported.

“However, even minor animal bite injuries can have serious consequences – particularly bites inflicted by wild animals,” the report stated.

The rabies vaccine and the immune globulin used to treat unvaccinated bite victims are available at larger bases with medical refrigeration facilities. However, many of the small, primitive forward operating bases in places like Afghanistan don’t have the vaccine or globulin.

The rabies virus is transmitted to humans most commonly through the saliva of infected animals, according to the U.S. Army Public Health Command. Humans can carry the virus for weeks, and occasionally, years before showing symptoms. The incubation period averages one to three months.

However, “once the signs and symptoms of rabies develop, the disease is almost always fatal,” according to the public health command web site.

http://ht.ly/72Dpm

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« Reply #5304 on: Oct 20th, 2011, 08:04am »

Reuters

20 October 2011

Gaddafi killed as Libya's revolt claims hometown
8:57am EDT
By Rania El Gamal and Tim Gaynor

SIRTE, Libya (Reuters) - Former Libyan leader Muammar Gaddafi died of wounds suffered on Thursday as fighters battling to complete an eight-month-old uprising against his rule overran his hometown Sirte, Libya's interim rulers said.

His killing, which came swiftly after his capture near Sirte, is the most dramatic single development in the Arab Spring revolts that have unseated rulers in Egypt and Tunisia and threatened the grip on power of the leaders of Syria and Yemen.

"He (Gaddafi) was also hit in his head," National Transitional Council official Abdel Majid Mlegta told Reuters. "There was a lot of firing against his group and he died."

Mlegta told Reuters earlier that Gaddafi, who was in his late 60s, was captured and wounded in both legs at dawn on Thursday as he tried to flee in a convoy which NATO warplanes attacked. He said he had been taken away by an ambulance.

There was no independent confirmation of his remarks.

An anti-Gaddafi fighter said Gaddafi had been found hiding in a hole in the ground and had said "Don't shoot, don't shoot" to the men who grabbed him.

His capture followed within minutes of the fall of Sirte, a development that extinguished the last significant resistance by forces loyal to the deposed leader.

The capture of Sirte and the death of Gaddafi means Libya's ruling NTC should now begin the task of forging a new democratic system which it had said it would get under way after the city, built as a showpiece for Gaddafi's rule, had fallen.

Gaddafi, wanted by the International Criminal Court on charges of ordering the killing of civilians, was toppled by rebel forces on August 23 after 42 years of one-man rule over the oil-producing North African state.

NTC fighters hoisted the red, black and green national flag above a large utilities building in the center of a newly-captured Sirte neighborhood and celebratory gunfire broke out among their ecstatic and relieved comrades.

Hundreds of NTC troops had surrounded the Mediterranean coastal town for weeks in a chaotic struggle that killed and wounded scores of the besieging forces and an unknown number of defenders.

NTC fighters said there were a large number of corpses inside the last redoubts of the Gaddafi troops. It was not immediately possible to verify that information.

(Writing by Jon Hemming and William Maclean; Editing by Mark Heinrich)

http://www.reuters.com/article/2011/10/20/us-libya-idUSTRE79F1FK20111020

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« Reply #5305 on: Oct 20th, 2011, 08:08am »

LA Times

MEXICO UNDER SIEGE

Shadowy group says it targets cartel; some in Veracruz are glad

It is a sign of the desperation and outrage over drug-war violence that the vigilantes are not only tolerated but welcomed.
But there is a disturbing question: Just who is behind their killings?

By Tracy Wilkinson, Los Angeles Times
5:01 PM PDT, October 19, 2011
Reporting from Veracruz, Mexico

The callers to the radio program were voicing their support for the Matazetas, the Zeta killers.

Better they fight among themselves. Let them kill each other. Anything to rid us of the thugs who long ago took control of our city and are slaughtering our people.

It is a sign of the desperation and deep outrage over surging drug-war violence that a shadowy group of vigilante killers is not only tolerated but welcomed by many here in Mexico's third-most populous state.

Yet it also comes with a disturbing question: Just who is behind the killings of Zetas — another drug gang? Agents acting on behalf of the government or military? An ad hoc group whose presence is being tolerated by authorities as well as the public?

Coastal Veracruz, the gateway to Mexico for centuries of immigrants from Europe and beyond, a laid-back beachfront vacation spot for legions of Mexicans, has in recent months become the latest state to be thoroughly sucked into the deadly and devastating drug war.

On Sept. 20, nearly three dozen half-naked bodies were dumped in broad daylight on a busy highway underpass in a well-to-do tourist area of the city of Veracruz. Fourteen more turned up a few days later — during a convention of the nation's top state and federal prosecutors. Then, on Oct. 6, barely 48 hours after announcing a major security offensive, military and police found an additional 36 bodies, and 10 more turned up the following day.

In videotaped presentations, a group of masked men with military bearing has claimed responsibility for the spate of killings, portraying it as a cleansing operation. Many of the bodies had a "Z" for Zeta written on the back with ink marker, a witness said.

The mystery group announced that it was in Veracruz state as "the armed branch of the people, and for the people."

"We are asking officials and authorities who support the Zetas to stop doing so, and let the armed forces know that our only objective is to finish the Zetas," the spokesman for the group told the camera. "We are anonymous warriors, without faces, proudly Mexican."

For years with the Zetas tightly in charge, and the public terrified into submission, the state had stayed relatively calm. But months ago, traffickers associated with top drug lord Joaquin "El Chapo" Guzman are believed to have moved in from the north with an eye toward seizing territory from the Zetas, who had long controlled Veracruz's valuable routes for smuggling drugs, migrants and contraband.

The "Zeta killers" burst on to the scene shortly before President Felipe Calderon deployed fresh military forces into Veracruz this month.

Their sudden rise and the surgical precision with which the killers systematically picked off nearly 100 people in 17 days has led to conjecture among some people that they may be operating with implicit or direct support of the government or military. Some suggest that the June kidnapping, torture and killing of three marine cadets in Veracruz might have propelled the marine corps to begin acting outside the law. Officials dismiss such speculation, and others wonder why a group aspiring to be a clandestine death squad would post videos on YouTube.

Indeed, some point to Guzman's Sinaloa network, and say the military look to the killings may be an attempt to deflect attention.

If that's true, the Zeta killers would simply be the latest of the many cartel-affiliated paramilitary gangs that have been fighting in Mexico since the beginning of the offensive that Calderon launched against the cartels at the start of his administration nearly five years ago.

The Zetas themselves started as the private military arm of the Gulf cartel, hired gunmen recruited from army elite forces to fight and kill the cartel's enemies. They evolved into a full-fledged trafficking cartel after splitting violently from their former patrons.

Vigilante gangs purporting to be defending society and working with some level of official complicity have frequently acted in Mexico in recent years. La Familia in Michoacan, which surged in Calderon's southwestern home state in 2005, claimed that it was protecting residents from the Zetas.

In 2009, Mauricio Fernandez, mayor of the affluent city of San Pedro Garza Garcia near the northern industrial hub of Monterrey, announced the formation of "intelligence squads" to "cleanse" his jurisdiction of criminals. One particularly notorious thug turned up dead in short order.

In the Michoacan case, the federal government tried, and failed, to prosecute several officials for their ties to La Familia. And Fernandez, a member of Calderon's political faction, was eventually reined in, or at least quieted, by party elders.

In Veracruz, doubts and questions run deep.

"We are left with a lot of disappointment and suspicion," said Miguel Angel Matiano, a union leader for judicial employees in Veracruz who is lobbying for protection for his members. "What interests, what ties … do the politicians have? You can't take justice into your own hands, but if you don't trust the authorities, you will turn to the other group."

"You don't know who's who these days," added a local television broadcaster who did not want to be named for fear of his safety.

Whoever the Zeta killers are, Veracruz city seethes with terror and panic. The streets in this port town, normally bustling with night life, begin to empty around dusk. Marines based in Veracruz patrol the neighborhoods, conducting house-to-house searches, moving in convoys, dressed in battle camouflage and black balaclavas. Parents rush to pull their kids from school at the faintest rumored hint of an attack. About 30 families from the business elite have fled the city, one knowledgeable resident said.

"There has always been violence, but it was hidden better," said Father Luis Felipe Gallardo Martin del Campo, the bishop of Veracruz. "Now the lid has been blown off."

Even Calderon, in a startling admission, said last week that the state of Veracruz had been "left in the hands of the Zetas."

The deterioration of Veracruz illustrates the way drug gangs have extended their stranglehold from border states to Mexico's center. Calderon this month has also felt obliged to send troops into Guerrero state, on the nation's opposite coast, where traffickers have forced schools to close for weeks and the body count has skyrocketed, all but destroying tourism to that state's coastal jewel, Acapulco.

More than 40,000 people have been killed in the expanding drug war since December 2006, when it began, according to government intelligence figures.

The government of Veracruz has sought to minimize the horror the state is living, or cast it as part of a broader national phenomenon for which local officials are not responsible.

"Law must prevail, and it is the state that must apply it," state government spokeswoman Gina Dominguez said in an interview.

Yet state officials have only exacerbated the uncertainty and suspicion by hiding information on new fatalities and claiming with excessive haste that most of the first batch of 35 dead were criminals. In fact, neither Gov. Javier Duarte nor state Atty. Gen. Reynaldo Escobar, who made those claims, had that information. The city's top newspaper, Notiver, later reported that the majority did not have criminal records. Escobar has since been forced to resign.

Among the dead were girls ages 15 and 16. Another victim was a well-known local transvestite, and two others were 15-year-old buddies from a rough neighborhood called Playa Linda, or "pretty beach," though it's anything but.

Rocio Velazquez told reporters she had last seen her son, Alan, when he was picked up by police a short time before his body was dumped. She said that she saw police detain Alan and a friend on an errand to buy feed for Alan's chickens, and that she tried to approach but the cops threatened to shoot her if she got closer.

"Where is the government? What is happening here? What is it all about?" Velazquez said to reporters. "There is more chaos, killing everywhere.... Who is behind all the slaughter?"

Velazquez told her story to three Mexican reporters from Mexico City, including one from MVS Radio, who found her at the Veracruz morgue. Often it takes Mexico City's national reporters, or foreign reporters, to do the journalistic investigation that local reporters are afraid to do. Four Veracruz journalists have been killed since March, including a prominent columnist shot to death along with his wife and son.

The three Mexico City reporters returned to the morgue the next day to continue their search for information. Veracruz police beat them up, they said, and seized or erased their tapes and photographs.


http://www.latimes.com/news/nationworld/world/la-fg-mexico-veracruz-killings-20111020,0,3290532,full.story

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« Reply #5306 on: Oct 20th, 2011, 08:14am »

Wired

Oct. 20, 1975: Atari Sits Down on Hi-Way
By Chris Kohler
October 20, 2009 | 12:00 am
Categories: 20th century, Games, Inventions

1975: Atari patents a sit-down “cockpit” arcade cabinet, ushering in a new era of realism for videogames. The design makes Atari’s new game, Hi-Way, a big hit.



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Pong fever had the U.S. and the world in its silicon grip throughout 1973, as adults and kids alike were rushing to bars, grocery stores and anywhere else that might have the latest sensation: coin-operated electronic videogames.

But the shine was bound to come off of video table tennis eventually. Atari realized that if it were to continue being the innovation leader in a market that was quickly becoming swamped with imitators, it would have to get away from iterations like Superpong, Quadrapong and Pong Doubles and instead create entirely new types of games.

One of these was Gran Trak 10, the company’s first car-racing game, which it released in March 1974. Driving cars made of tiny dots around a track also made of tiny dots proved popular, but Gran Trak 10’s arcade cabinet design left something to be desired. Although it featured realistic controls (gas and brake pedals, steering wheel and gearshift), the player had to stand up to play it.

A year later, Atari introduced Hi-Way, its first sit-down game. It featured more sophisticated graphics — the cars were still tiny and monochrome, but looked a lot more like cars. More importantly, it featured a cabinet in which the user could sit down, as if he were driving a real car.

Atari engineer Regan Cheng had applied for the design patent on the cabinet on Oct. 20, 1975. Far from simply putting a chair in front of a low-slung arcade monitor, the Hi-Way machine incorporated both seat and screen into a single molded form, heightening the feeling of sitting inside a vehicle.

Blogger Reilly Brennan wrote that the sit-down arcade game heightened the pressure on players in a variety of ways:

The positioning of the sitting player meant that the screen was largely opened up to everyone else in the arcade, making it one of those experiences where you better play well or risk the agony of a public defeat. The cockpit games were always more expensive, too ($.50 to a normal game’s $.25), creating an incremental layer of pressure.

(Half a buck in 1975 had the buying power of two bucks today.)

Hi-Way still had one problem: Although its cabinet was uniquely designed to enhance the realism of the experience, the game itself was still viewed from a third-person viewpoint. You were driving the car, but watching from overhead.

When Atari introduced Night Driver in 1976, that problem was solved. You were looking through the windshield. The graphics still left a lot to be desired — they were just a few small dots suggestive of a road weaving its way toward the viewer — but the standard was set for all future driving games.

Later games like Sega’s motorcycle-racer Hang-On would add even more realism to the experience, building the game’s monitor into a life-size motorcycle that the player sat and leaned on to control the onscreen action.

The “cockpit” arcade game continues to evolve. Bandai Namco released an arcade game in Japan in 2006, called Mobile Suit Gundam: Bonds of the Battlefield. Players step inside a replica of a giant robot’s cockpit and play the game on a massive projection screen inside the machine.

http://www.wired.com/thisdayintech/2009/10/1020atari-hi-way/

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« Reply #5307 on: Oct 20th, 2011, 08:17am »

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First Posted: 10/19/11 04:45 PM ET
Updated: 10/19/11 05:18 PM ET

For one Iowa couple, true love lasted until the very end.

Married 72 years, Norma, 90, and Gordon Yeager, 94, passed away in the hospital holding hands last week, one hour apart.

The couple was hospitalized after a car accident just outside of Marshalltown, Iowa. They were given a shared room in the ICU where they held hands in adjacent beds.

At 3:38 pm last Wednesday, Gordon's breathing stopped. Though he had passed, his heart monitor continued to register a beat.

The nurse told Gordon and Norma's son, Dennis Yeager, that the monitor was beeping "because they're holding hands, and [Norma's heart beat] is going through them," Dennis recalled in an interview with Des Moines' KCCI news station. "Her heart was beating through him."

Norma passed at 4:38 pm, exactly one hour later.

Gordon and Norma's children say they're glad the couple passed this way. "They just loved being together," says Dennis. "He always said, 'I can't go until she does because I gotta stay here for her.' And she would say the same thing."


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http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2011/10/19/long-married-couple_n_1020085.html?1319059142&icid=maing-grid7|main5|dl1|sec1_lnk2|105767

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« Reply #5308 on: Oct 20th, 2011, 08:25am »

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« Reply #5309 on: Oct 21st, 2011, 08:17am »

LA Times

Bill would encourage foreigners to buy U.S. homes

The bipartisan Senate bill would allow foreigners who spend at least $500,000 on a residential property to obtain visas allowing them to live in the United States.

By Jim Puzzanghera and Lauren Beale, Los Angeles Times
7:00 PM PDT, October 20, 2011
Reporting from Washington and Los Angeles

American consumers and the federal government haven't been able to bail out the sinking U.S. real estate market. Now wealthy Chinese, Canadians and other foreign buyers could get their chance.

Two U.S. senators have introduced a bill that would allow foreigners who spend at least $500,000 on residential property to obtain visas allowing them to live in the United States.

The plan could be a boon to California, which has become a popular real estate market for foreigners, particularly those from China.

Nationwide, residential sales to foreigners and recent immigrants totaled $82 billion in the 12-month period ended March 31, up from $66 billion the previous year, according to the National Assn. of Realtors. California accounted for 12% of those sales, second only to Florida.

"Overall, Los Angeles is the perfect place for investors," said YanYan Zhang, an agent with Rodeo Realty in Beverly Hills, who travels to China several times a year to meet potential clients.

Sandra Miller, a broker at Engel & Volkers in Santa Monica, an international real estate firm that caters to foreign clients, said about 10% of the luxury market now is composed of foreign investors. She estimated that offering them U.S. visas would triple that figure, as well as help sales elsewhere.

"California, Florida, New York, Colorado, Hawaii and Texas — those states will see a huge increase in demand," she said. "The whole Westside would certainly benefit."

The bipartisan proposal, part of a package that also would make it easier for international tourists to visit the U.S., is similar to an existing program that puts foreigners on a fast track to a green card if they invest at least $500,000 in an American business that creates at least 10 jobs.

"Many people want to come and live in the United States," said Sen. Charles Schumer (D-N.Y.), who introduced the legislation Thursday along with Sen. Mike Lee (R-Utah). "They will be here spending money and paying taxes, and the most important thing is they'll sop up the extra supply of homes we have right now compared to demand, and that's what's dragging our economy down."

The legislation would create a new homeowner visa that would be renewable every three years, but the proposal would not put them on a path to citizenship. To be eligible, a person would have to buy a primary residence of at least $250,000 and spend a total of $500,000 on residential real estate. The other properties could be rented.

The program would come with several restrictions.

The purchase would have to be in cash, with no mortgage or home equity loan allowed. And the property would have to be bought for more than its most recent appraised value, Schumer said.

The buyer would have to live in the home for at least 180 days each year, which would require paying U.S. income taxes on any foreign earnings. Buyers would no longer be eligible for the temporary visa if the property were sold.

The buyer would be able to bring a spouse and minor children to live in the U.S. but would need to apply for a work visa to hold a job. Neither the buyer nor dependents would be eligible to receive Medicaid, Medicare or Social Security benefits.

"The bill does not limit people from being productive," Schumer said. "It simply prevents them from coming here and taking jobs that otherwise would go to Americans."

Billionaire investor Warren Buffett and others have advocated boosting the U.S. economy by attracting foreign investment.

The Visa Improvements to Stimulate International Tourism to the United States of America Act, or VISIT-USA Act, aims to do that by also making several other changes to visa policies.

Among them are allowing Chinese tourists to receive a five-year visa that permits multiple visits. They now must apply for a new visa every year. Canadians would be allowed to stay in the U.S. for more than 180 days without having to obtain a visa.

Schumer and Lee have lined up support from the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, the U.S. Travel Assn. and the American Hotel & Lodging Assn. Schumer said he was working to get the backing of the Obama administration, which received the bill's details Thursday.

"For too long, we have created barriers, and too many hoops and hurdles, which act to deter visitors from other countries coming to the United States to spend their money and create jobs," said Chamber of Commerce President Thomas Donohue. "This is a loss we can ill afford in today's economy."

Robert Toll, executive chairman of Toll Brothers Inc., a Pennsylvania builder of luxury homes, joined Schumer on a conference call with reporters to back the foreign home-buyer proposal. He said it was no different from tax breaks designed to attract businesses.

Lee described it as a free-market way to boost demand in the real estate market after "big-government programs have failed to work."


http://www.latimes.com/business/la-fi-visas-home-buyers-20111021,0,6715779.story

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