Re: Stuff & Nonsense
« Reply #5325 on: Oct 23rd, 2011, 10:29am »
Chemical & Engineering News
Lab-On-A-Chip For Planets, Moons
Microfluidics: Automated chip is designed to detect extraterrestrial amino acids
Elizabeth Wilson October 24, 2011
A single 10-cm microchip device performs all steps for analyzing amino acids
A new lab-on-a-chip device can fully analyze a fluid sample for the presence of amino acids, making the single microdevice the first to complete such a task without intervention or auxiliary components. It was developed, and is being touted, as a means to test for the presence of biologically relevant molecules in extraterrestrial environments, such as Mars or Saturn’s moon Titan.
To sample molecules in extraterrestrial environments, devices need to withstand the rigors of space, says chemist Peter A. Willis, of NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory at California Institute of Technology. Mechanical and electronic simplicity is a must.
It’s difficult to compress the many functions required to test molecules onto one chip: Tasks such as concentration, separation, and detection require different conditions, such as pH. Until recently, most lab-on-a-chip devices, which rely on capillary electrophoresis, have incorporated only some of the tasks involved in analyzing organic molecules. For example, researchers have made devices capable of separations and fluidic routing, but had not until now integrated them with components that analyze the sample.
To make their multitasking chip, Willis explains, he and his colleagues designed an array of pneumatic valves and pumps that ferry a sample into wells, where, for example, fluorescent labels attach to amino acids. Microcapillary electrophoresis separates the amino acids in the sample, and then laser-induced fluorescence detects them. This device does microfluidic manipulation autonomously, Willis says, so that it can conduct tasks such as sample labeling and serial dilutions that used to require human operators.
The device could also find application on Earth, Willis says. He hopes to see it used in reprogrammable chemical analyzers.
Re: Stuff & Nonsense
« Reply #5326 on: Oct 24th, 2011, 08:46am »
France, Germany report progress on European debt crisis strategy October 23, 2011
REPORTING FROM BRUSSELS — The leaders of France and Germany said Sunday that they had made progress in bridging their differences over a wide-ranging strategy to combat Europe’s debt crisis but that the “mind-boggling technical complexity” of the task meant they needed a few more days to finalize their plans.
Intensive negotiations are continuing between Paris and Berlin, the two heavyweights of the European Union, over how best to increase the firepower of the EU’s $600-billion bailout fund and to reduce Greece’s staggering debt burden, the crux of the current turmoil. The talks come amid warnings from many analysts that the region’s spiraling debt crisis is fast approaching a make-or-break point.
A comprehensive solution had originally been expected to come out of Sunday’s gathering of the leaders of all 27 EU nations in the Belgian capital. But French President Nicolas Sarkozy and German Chancellor Angela Merkel said they would present their plan at a follow-up summit Wednesday.
“Things are forging ahead. We have yet to reach a final conclusion,” Sarkozy told reporters at a joint news conference with Merkel. “We have to take all of the decisions at one and the same time.”
“The devil is in the details here,” Merkel added.
Despite their good-natured appearance together, the two leaders have been at odds over the best way to leverage the EU’s bailout fund, which was capable of propping up small indebted nations such as Greece and Portugal but is painfully inadequate now that the big economies of Spain and especially Italy have been sucked toward the center of the crisis.
Berlin favors turning the bailout mechanism into a sort of insurance fund, while Paris fears that being on the hook for extra guarantees could endanger its cherished triple-A credit rating.
European officials also reported progress on another element of the multipronged plan to be unveiled Wednesday: the issue of recapitalizing the region’s biggest banks so that they would be able to withstand steep losses from their exposure to Greek debt and from a possible "double-dip" recession.
The EU is expected to demand that Europe’s banks raise an extra $140 billion in capital as a cushion against major shocks. The banks would try to drum up the funds from commercial investors or, failing that, accept cash infusions from their home governments. As a last resort, the European bailout fund could pitch in.
Still to be settled is the question of just how big a loss private holders of Greek bonds, including the banks, should be forced to take in order for Athens’ debt to be brought down to a sustainable level. In July, Eurozone leaders agreed on an average writedown of 21%, but that is no longer deemed sufficient.
Analysts warn that Wednesday’s “grand plan” must address all three issues. Failure to do so, they say, could throw global markets into even more turmoil and ignite a financial and economic crisis akin to the one that erupted in 2008.
Re: Stuff & Nonsense
« Reply #5328 on: Oct 24th, 2011, 11:31am »
The Hill Poll: Most voters say the United States is in decline By Mike Lillis 10/24/11 05:00 AM ET
More than two-thirds of voters say the United States is declining, and a clear majority think the next generation will be worse off than this one, according to the results of a new poll commissioned by The Hill.
A resounding 69 percent of respondents said the country is “in decline,” the survey found, while 57 percent predict today’s kids won’t live better lives than their parents. Additionally, 83 percent of voters indicated they’re either very or somewhat worried about the future of the nation, with 49 percent saying they’re “very worried.”
The results suggest that Americans don’t view the country’s current economic and political troubles as temporary, but instead see them continuing for many years.
The pessimism is consistent with numerous public opinion polls revealing a sweeping lack of faith in Congress to address the nation’s problems — a souring trend that’s only become more pronounced since the economy slipped into recession three years ago.
The degree of pessimism, however, varies sharply by race and party affiliation, The Hill Poll found. Republicans, for instance, have less hope for the country’s future, with 90 percent saying the United States is declining and 66 percent predicting today’s kids will be worse off than their parents. By contrast, fewer than half of Democratic respondents indicated the country is in decline (47 percent) or fear for the next generation’s living standards (45 percent).
Oddly enough, African Americans — who were hammered much harder by the recession than whites — are more optimistic about the direction of the country, with 30 percent of black respondents saying the United States is deteriorating, versus 74 percent of whites.
In a similar vein, fewer than a third of black voters (31 percent) think today’s youths will suffer greater hardships than their parents, versus 60 percent for white respondents.
Gender played a small role in dictating voters’ sense of the country’s health, according to the survey, with 70 percent of men and 68 percent of women saying the United States is moving downhill. Likewise, 58 percent of male voters and 56 percent of females said the next generation is in trouble.
The findings were based on a nationwide survey of 1,000 likely voters conducted last week by Pulse Opinion Research, an independent polling firm.
The fear of decline was also evident in another line of questioning, as 57 percent of voters indicated the United States is currently the most powerful nation on earth, but just 19 percent predicted that will be true 20 years from now.
Optimism about the nation’s current global status was consistent across both racial and party lines, though more men (62 percent) than women (52 percent) view the United States as the world’s preeminent superpower. Similarly, fears that the country will lose that status in two decades cut across racial, party and gender lines, with very little discrepancy between the groups.
The findings arrive as Washington policymakers continue to joust over the best way to boost the economy and create jobs in the face of high unemployment figures that show no signs of subsiding.
Republicans argue that the size of government — combined with enormous levels of federal spending — have contributed both to the recent recession and the slow pace in pulling out of it. They want to cut taxes, slash spending and scale back regulations they say are strangling private-sector job creators.
Democrats, on the other hand, see the government playing an active role in bolstering the economy. They’re pushing proposals designed to create jobs by increasing infrastructure spending, lending a lifeline to states and hiking taxes on corporations that outsource jobs.
The impasse reached a head last week, when Senate Republicans blocked legislation pushed by President Obama to provide states with $35 billion to help struggling states avoid laying off teachers, firefighters and other first responders. Earlier in the month, Senate Republicans had also killed Obama’s sweeping $447 billion jobs package — a vote that led Democrats to try a piecemeal approach.
Re: Stuff & Nonsense
« Reply #5329 on: Oct 24th, 2011, 11:32am »
Oct. 24, 1960: Soviet Rocket Explodes, Killing Top Engineers, Technicians By Tony Long October 24, 2011 | 6:30 am Categories: 20th century, Disasters, Warfare and Military
1960: The attempted launch of a prototype R-16 ICBM ends in disaster when the Soviet rocket blows up on a launchpad at the Baikonur Cosmodrome, killing more than 100 engineers, technicians and military personnel.
The accident is now known as the Nedelin catastrophe, after Marshal Mitrofan Ivanovich Nedelin, commander in chief of the USSR’s Strategic Rocket Forces, who was among those killed. Coming as it did at the height of the Cold War, the disaster was kept a closely guarded secret for years. The details did not become known in the West until the 1990s.
An electrical malfunction in the rocket, which was already fueled and sitting on the pad, led to the accident. It was Nedelin himself, impatient to get the show on the road, who ordered the technicians to fix the problem without first defueling the rocket. An errant radio signal triggered the firing of the second stage, causing the rocket to explode.
The cream of the Soviet Union’s rocket engineering talent was wiped out in an instant, along with the unfortunate Nedelin, who had set out a deck chair to watch and supervise the repair work. The R-16’s designer, Mikhail Yangel, survived only because he had slipped into a nearby bunker for a smoke just before the explosion occurred.
Marshal Nedelin had been hand-picked a year earlier by Soviet Premier Nikita Khrushchev to create the Strategic Rocket Forces, the USSR’s answer to the U.S. Strategic Air Command.
Re: Stuff & Nonsense
« Reply #5330 on: Oct 24th, 2011, 11:39am »
Madonna Booed at London Premiere of 'W.E.' 5:05 AM PDT 10/24/2011 by Mimi Turner
The singer-turned-filmmaker shrugs off criticism of the movie, saying: "I do know what it is like to be misunderstood on a global scale."
LONDON - It's not exactly the welcome the superstar Material Girl was hoping for. Madonna was booed by fans at the BFI London Film Festival premiere of W.E., but managed to shrug off the response, saying that like Wallis Simpson, she too was "misunderstood."
Fans who had queued for hours in London's Leicester Square for the chance of seeing Madonna jeered and booed her after she only stopped to talk to a handful before entering the theater.
Wearing a fitted black three-quarter length dress with a snaking diamante pattern, Madonna did a few red carpet interviews and spoke to some waiting fans before entering the screening.
The film, which has already been shown at the Venice Film Festival, has received mixed reviews. The story of Wallis Simpson, who sensationally caused the abdication of King Edward VIII in 1937, is told through the story of a modern character, who becomes increasingly obsessed with the American divorcee who became the Duchess of Windsor.
"I do know what it is like to be misunderstood on a global scale," Madonna told Sky News as crowds booed around her. The singer said she had made the film because she had become drawn to the nature of the relationship between Simpson and the Duke of Windsor.
"I think it's just fascinating to try and understand the nature of their relationship and why a man of that power would give up his throne for her."
Asked whether she identified with Wallis Simpson, Madonna said the Duchess had not been able to express herself because of the mores of the times.
"She lived at a time when women didn't have the opportunities that they do now. She [Wallis] didn't have the chance to defend herself so I'm taking that opportunity now."
Re: Stuff & Nonsense
« Reply #5331 on: Oct 25th, 2011, 11:11am »
Infant, her mother pulled from wreckage of earthquake in Turkey October 25, 2011 | 7:56 am
A 2-week-old baby girl was pulled alive from the rubble of an apartment building on Tuesday almost 48 hours after a massive earthquake destroyed hundreds of buildings in eastern Turkey, according to international wire reports and television footage showing the dramatic rescue.
Emergency workers wearing orange jumpsuits and red helmets clapped as the infant, identified by the Associated Press as Azra Karaduman, was removed from the debris, wrapped in a blanket, and handed over to medical personnel.
Hours later, the baby's mother, Semiha, was pulled from the wreckage of the building in the city of Ercis, the AP reported. The baby’s father was also reported to be trapped in the flattened home, but it was unclear whether he survived, the AP said.
Dozens of other people were also believed to be trapped in collapsed buildings and have been awaiting rescue since the 7.2 magnitude quake hit on Sunday. The death toll now stands at 432 and more than 1,350 have been injured, Turkish officials say.
Re: Stuff & Nonsense
« Reply #5332 on: Oct 25th, 2011, 12:22pm »
Wired Threat Level
U.S. Requests for Google User Data Spike 29 Percent in Six Months By Ryan Singel October 25, 2011 | 11:07 am Categories: Sunshine and Secrecy, Surveillance
The number of U.S. government requests for data on Google users for use in criminal investigations rose 29 percent in the last six months, according to data released by the search giant Monday.
U.S. government agencies sent Google 5,950 criminal investigation requests for data on Google users and services from Jan. 1 to June 30, 2011, an average of 31 a day. That’s compared to 4,601 requests from July 1 to Dec. 31, 2010, the company reported Tuesday in an update to its unique transparency tool.
Google says it complied in whole or part with 93% of such requests, which can include court orders, grand jury subpoenas and other legal instruments.
For the first time, Google’s transparency report includes the number of users and accounts affected by such requests — in this case, 11,057.
The search and software giant also received 92 requests to remove data from its services, including YouTube. The requests collectively asked for 757 individual pieces of content be removed. Google says it complied fully or partially with 63 percent of the requests. The company noted it received a request from law enforcement to take down a video showing police brutality and another for videos allegedly defaming law enforcement officials. Google did not comply with either.
Google is alone in providing this data to the public, which it says it hopes will give a push to efforts to reform a 25-year-old government privacy law that lets law enforcement get access to users’ online communications without having to get a judge’s approval.
Google is part of the so-called Due Process Coalition fighting for reform, but none of its fellow members — which include Amazon, aol, AT&T, Dropbox, Facebook and Microsoft — provide any data at all about how often the government requests data or how often they comply.
Google does not, however, break down requests by type – so it’s still unknown how many of these thousands of requests use the powers under the Electronic Communications Privacy Act to request, without judicial oversight, communication records of Americans.
The transparency tool also covers requests from other governments around the world, but due to the size of the U.S. population, Google’s California headquarters and the large number of Americans online, the U.S. leads the world in data requests to the search giant.
The Chinese government filed no requests on user data — since Google does not keep data on Chinese citizens on servers in China.
The Chinese government sent Google three content removal requests regarding a total of 121 items. Google complied with two of these, saying the requests entailed ads that violated its adwords policy. The company could not discuss the third request, which it did not comply with, a spokewoman told Wired, since “We believe the Chinese government has prohibited us from full disclosure.”
Yahoo, Twitter, Comcast, AT&T, Verizon and Time Warner, among others, do not publish any such data, nor do they make it available when the media asks for it, even though there’s no law requiring them to keep such requests quiet.
Google cannot reveal some government data requests, however, and they are not included in this tally.
According to Google, the numbers do not include National Security Letters, a sort-of self-issued subpoena used by the FBI in drug and terrorism cases. At their post–Patriot Act peak, the FBI issued more than 50,000 such letters a year, nearly all with gag orders attached to them. The use of such letters dipped for a time after the Justice Department’s internal watchdog unveiled widespread abuses and sloppy procedures, but are on the rise again.
Also not included are national security wiretap and data requests, known as FISA warrants, that are approved by a secret court in D.C. to combat spies and threats to national security.
Nor is there any information on how much data, if any, the government forces Google to turn over en masse on individuals outside the United States, using broad powers handed to the government in 2008 by Congress. That legislation, initially opposed but later supported by Sen. Barack Obama, lets the government turn online service providers into intelligence collection arms of the U.S. government, so long as the “targets” aren’t known to be U.S. citizens.
When he was a candidate, President Obama pledged to revisit that law — passed as a way to legalize much of the Bush administration’s secret, warrantless wiretapping program, but the law remains in place.
Re: Stuff & Nonsense
« Reply #5333 on: Oct 25th, 2011, 12:25pm »
Insight: Jobless voters could desert Obama at election
LAS VEGAS | Tue Oct 25, 2011 7:38am EDT
By Andy Sullivan
LAS VEGAS (Reuters) - The slot machines jangle away with the promise of sudden riches, but many visitors to a job fair at a second-tier casino here are hoping merely for a minimum-wage job to snap their losing streak.
The grim economy hasn't been the only disappointment of the past several years for those hoping to find work with the limousine companies, insurance agencies and home healthcare providers that have set up shop at this career fair.
Ask Kimberly Howard who she voted for in 2008, and she glances sideways before confiding what appears to be a shameful secret. "Obama," she mutters.
It's not a choice she plans to repeat next year. She thinks perhaps Republicans will do a better job of fixing the economy. "I hope so. I'm praying so," she says quietly.
In order for Obama to win reelection next year, he will have to convince voters like Howard to give him another chance, particularly in battleground states with high unemployment like Nevada, which the president visited on Monday.
The unemployed, long an afterthought in political campaigns, could emerge as a surprise swing constituency next year. For decades, conventional wisdom was that the unemployed did not vote as much as those with jobs.
But new research based on the current economic slump shows a different picture. People who have lost their jobs are nearly twice as likely to switch support from incumbents, according to Andrew Healy, an economist at Loyola Marymount University.
Examining local layoff notices around the 2008 election, Healy found in an national study that 39 percent of the newly unemployed who had backed the incumbent party in the prior election switched their support to the opposition, compared with only 20 percent of other voters.
That helped Obama win Republican-leaning states like Indiana in 2008, but could put him on the defensive this time in states like Nevada and Michigan, where jobless households could make up a substantial portion of the electorate.
During the last two elections as the economy has stagnated, those who have lost their jobs have actually voted at a higher rate than the employed, according to national research being developed by Matthew Incantulpo, a graduate student at Princeton University.
UNHAPPY WITH STATUS QUO
He found that those who lost their jobs before the 2008 and 2010 elections had turnout rates roughly 7 percentage points higher than a control group of voters who lost their jobs shortly after the election. In 1996, when the economy was healthy, the newly unemployed had turnout rates 10 percentage points lower than the control group.
The economic downturn has hit especially hard among large swaths of the coalition that powered Obama to victory in 2008, and many of those voters could have a hard time squaring his promises of hope and change with their own struggles.
"I don't see any changes he's made that have been positive for people," Howard says as she fills out an application form. "He keeps saying 'more jobs, more jobs,' but I've been out of work for four months and I'm not seeing any improvement."
The shaky economy is expected to be the dominant issue in the November 2012 election. Those who have personal experience with job loss could make up a significantly larger chunk of the electorate than the official 9.1 percent unemployment rate would suggest.
In last year's congressional elections, a historic rout for Obama's Democrats, nearly one in three voters had experienced a job loss in their households, according to exit polls.
Next year's election could see a similar pattern as the jobless rate is projected to remain above 8 percent.
Obama aims to convince voters he is a better bet to boost the economy than his eventual Republican rival. Since September, he has been campaigning on his American Jobs Act, which has been blocked by Republicans in Congress.
"The President brought the economy back from the brink of another depression and he has fought for a fairer economy that rewards hard work and responsibility," said campaign spokesman Ben LaBolt. "He is fighting every day to create jobs and restore economic security for the middle class."
That argument doesn't carry much weight with those at the job fair who backed Obama in 2008.
"He could have done a lot more from what he promised at the beginning and I just haven't seen it happen," says Augistin Zaragosa, 49. "The help that he gave us all a couple years ago, that was basically nothing."
LABOR UNIONS GET INVOLVED
Democrats' traditional allies in the labor movement are trying to mobilize the unemployed.
With the help of the Service Employees International Union, Linda Overby, an out-of-work painter in Las Vegas, has been organizing protests at the local offices of Republican lawmakers who oppose Obama's jobs bill.
Participation has grown as the protests have harnessed the anger many feel about Republican efforts to erode workers' rights, she said, and the Occupy Wall Street has helped to raise awareness as well.
"I am seeing people start to wake up," Overby said.
But increased activism does not necessarily equal increased support for Obama.
The International Association of Machinists counts 10,000 to 15,000 members in its Union of Unemployed, an effort to counteract the sense of isolation that can come with job loss and push for policies that would help those looking for work.
The group views Obama's jobs bill as a mixed bag, and an unscientific survey found widespread dissatisfaction with his presidency, even among Democrats.
"These folks are the swing voters of the next election cycle," said Rick Sloan, the group's executive director. "If they don't see any change in their lives, they're going to vote for a change."
Obama's bill would continue enhanced unemployment benefits in place since 2009 but that would do nothing for those who have been jobless for so long they have already exhausted them, Sloan said.
Sam Guy, a 24-year-old who hopes to find work in the insurance industry, said he hasn't decided how to vote next year. But his enthusiasm for Obama has waned. "I'm not rolling around with a bumper sticker this time," he said.
(Additional reporting by Lily Kuo; Editing by Alistair Bell and Todd Eastham)
Re: Stuff & Nonsense
« Reply #5334 on: Oct 25th, 2011, 12:28pm »
Uploaded by MrFuriaTV on Oct 22, 2011
"If it is a UFO, it's one of the strangest ones people have ever seen. At least, to those calling into our newsroom this afternoon.
Check this flying object in the skies over Laredo early this afternoon. It appears to be a long black cylinder, or tube, in flight. Some even describe it as silver in color at times. Viewers believe it's about the size of a small plane, but clearly tube shaped. Again, like in other recent sightings some people believe it's a drone. Whatever it was, it caught the attention of lots of people in north Laredo." http://www.pro8news.com/news/UFO-Sighting-Spoted-All-Over-Laredo-132363688.html
Re: Stuff & Nonsense
« Reply #5335 on: Oct 25th, 2011, 4:19pm »
7 reasons the 787 Dreamliner is special
By Pamela Boykoff, CNN updated 7:42 AM EST, Tue October 25, 2011
The first All Nippon Airways (ANA) Boeing 787 Dreamliner is displayed during a press preview at Tokyo's Haneda airport on September 28.
Hong Kong (CNN) -- Boeing's 787 Dreamliner makes its first passenger flight Wednesday, carrying about 250 passengers from Tokyo to Hong Kong on Japan's All Nippon Airways. Boeing has spent years and billions of dollars developing a plane with what it calls "visionary design." As the first customers prepare to fly on the Dreamliner, CNN looks at what sets the 787 apart from the planes before it.
1. It's Plastic (sort of) The Dreamliner is made of 50% composite materials, carbon-fiber enforced polymers that are both lighter and more durable than traditional aluminum. Composite materials have been used before in passenger planes but never to this extent. They comprise both the wings and the fuselage of the 787. Most of the features listed below could not have been built in an airplane made mostly of aluminum.
2. The Air Inside The cabin pressure on the 787 is higher and the humidity higher than other airplanes. Basically, passengers on board will feel like they are at an altitude of 6,000 feet, 2,000 feet lower than a standard flight. The changes will cut down on passenger fatigue, dry eyes and headaches, Boeing said. They are made possible by the new material, which is less prone to corrosion and structural fatigue than aluminum.
3. More Space Boeing's Chief Pilot Randy Neville said he believed this is the first feature passengers will notice about the new plane. You are "not being squeezed into a tube," he said. "You'll have a wide open area." There is also more room for overhead luggage.
4. Fuel Efficiency The 787 is 20% more fuel efficient than similarly-sized aircraft, a change which allows airlines to save money and deploy the plane on longer routes, Boeing said. "On an aircraft of that size, even a slight reduction in fuel burn makes a big difference to overall cost," said Paul Sheridan, Head of Risk Advisory at Ascend. Another plus, according to aviation experts, the longer range will allow carriers to introduce more point-to-point routes, so passengers will have more options and fewer layovers.
5. Intuitive Cockpit Neville feels Boeing has worked hard to make operating the 787 as natural as possible for pilots. "The flight deck is laid out so it is very intuitive to operate all the controls," he said. One example: The Head-Up Display (HUD) used by pilots is displayed on glass, so they can see the data without having to lose sight of what's going on outside.
6. Bigger Windows Clearly a case where bigger is bigger, the Dreamliner has windows that are 19 inches tall and 30% bigger than the on similarly-sized aircraft. Say goodbye to those plastic shades as well. The Dreamliner is the first commercial plane to have electronic dimmers at each seat. The flight attendants can also darken or lighten all the shades automatically, so never again will a small child wake up half the plane by deciding to let in a little sunlight.
7. Uniformity Don't expect much difference from one Dreamliner to the next, Sheridan said. Boeing purposely limited the extent that carriers could customize the new plane in order to appeal to banks and leasing companies that are behind many purchases. If all the planes are similar, it's easier to hire them out to airlines or resell if needed.
Re: Stuff & Nonsense
« Reply #5337 on: Oct 26th, 2011, 08:42am »
Occupy Oakland: More than 100 arrested; police defend tactics October 26, 2011 | 5:08 am
Police arrested more than 100 people during a night of clashes with Occupy Oakland protesters throughout the city's downtown area.
The scene finally cleared after midnight Wednesday, but police were on alert in case crowds returned.
Oakland's interim police chief, Howard Jordan, said arrests were continuing and that the total number might rise. Eight-five of those arrests were made Tuesday night, when officers raided the Occupy Oakland encampment on Frank Ogawa Plaza at City Hall, along with an annex in a park near Lake Merritt.
Jordan justified his department's use of tear gas.
"We were in a position where we had to deploy gas in order to stop the crowd and people from pelting us with bottles and rocks," he said.
Protesters had also thrown paint "and other agents" at officers, he added. The crowd reached about 1,000 people at its peak, Jordan said, noting that police used bean bag rounds to disperse demonstrators. He said no rubber bullets were used -- a claim disputed by protesters.
Two officers were injured in the clashes, Jordan said. He said he did not know how many demonstrators may have been hurt.
In an interview with KTVU-TV Channel 2, Officer David Carman said he had been hit by paintballs and more.
"The crowd started throwing bottles, paints, beer, eggs at myself and the other officers," he said.
But some activists criticized the police tactics.
Kat Brooks, an Occupy Oakland activist and spokeswoman, said she took her young daughter home about 9:30 p.m. Tuesday because she did not want to expose her to the tear gas flooding downtown Oakland.
Protesters had marched from the plaza to Snow Park, a swatch of green near Lake Merritt, where an annex encampment was also torn down by police Wednesday morning. They had returned to City Hall when the confrontation began.
"We weren’t there but a minute before they started giving the dispersal order," Brooks said Tuesday night. "The first time they said five minutes, this time they said 'now.' They shot off the flash grenades and people scattered."
"This is the most disciplined I've ever seen Oakland be. There was no damage to property," she said.
At one point, Brooks said, several officers were hit with paintballs, but she said they had come out swinging batons.
"From the way they came into the camp [Tuesday] morning to the way they acted tonight, they have gone beyond what was necessary," she said.
Re: Stuff & Nonsense
« Reply #5339 on: Oct 26th, 2011, 11:12am »
Justice Department Proposes Letting Government Deny Existence of Sensitive Documents
By Shannon Bream Published October 26, 2011
A longtime internal policy that allowed Justice Department officials to deny the existence of sensitive information could become the law of the land -- in effect a license to lie -- if a newly proposed rule becomes federal regulation in the coming weeks.
The proposed rule directs federal law enforcement agencies, after personnel have determined that documents are too delicate to be released, to respond to Freedom of Information Act requests "as if the excluded records did not exist."
Jay Sekulow, Chief Counsel of the American Center for Law and Justice, says the move appears to be in direct conflict with the administration's promise to be more open.
"Despite all the talk of transparency, I can't think of what's less transparent than saying a document does not exist, when in fact, it does," Sekulow told Fox News. Justice Department officials say the practice has been in effect for decades, dating back to a 1987 memo from then-Attorney General Edwin Meese.
In that memo, and subsequent similar internal documents, Justice Department staffers were advised that they could reply to certain FOIA requests as if the documents had never been created. That policy never became part of the law -- or even codified as a federal regulation -- and it was recently challenged in court.
Earlier this year, in a case involving the Islamic Council of Southern California brought against the FBI after the plaintiffs learned about the existence of documents denied by the FBI, a federal judge in California expressed great concern about the agency using the internal policy not only in response to the FOIA but to mislead the court.
"The government, cannot, under any circumstance, affirmatively mislead the court. … The court simply cannot perform its constitutional function if the government does not tell the truth," the judge wrote in a stinging rebuke.
A final version of the proposal could be issued by the end of 2011. If approved, the new rule would officially become a federal regulation with the force of law.
But the Justice Department got so much pushback in response to the proposal that it took the unusual step of re-opening the public comment period after it had already been closed. That second comment period closed last week.
When the new comment period began, the American Civil Liberties Union became one of the most vocal critics of the proposal. Mike German, Policy Counsel with the ACLU, authored a lengthy letter in opposition.
"It's shocking that you would twist what is supposed to be a statute -- that's supposed to give people access to what the government is doing -- in a way that would allow the government to actually mislead the American public," German told Fox News.
Melanie Ann Pustay, director of the Justice Department's Office of Information Policy, said the entire consideration process for the proposal "has been open and transparent."
She also notes that sensitive information requires special consideration.
"To ensure that the integrity of the exclusion is maintained, agencies must ensure that their responses do not reveal the existence of excluded records," Pustay said.
Sekulow says he is not buying that argument, and argued that FOIA requesters who get a response telling them that officials can neither confirm or deny the existence of documents now can at least go to court to sue for more information.
If they're told that no documents exist, there is no basis for a legal challenge at all, Sekulow said. "The real concern is here is it changes the entire dynamic of what the law was intended to do, and really gives the Department of Justice the upper hand in area where they shouldn't have it."