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 veryhotthread  Author  Topic: Stuff & Nonsense  (Read 44385 times)
WingsofCrystal
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xx Re: Stuff & Nonsense
« Reply #555 on: Aug 9th, 2010, 6:37pm »

on Aug 9th, 2010, 3:47pm, CA519705950 wrote:
Hey WoC smiley.
Yeah, maybe. I'm not too sure whether or not to take what he said seriously, but I guess there's always a possibility.
Also, interesting post about the thin MIB. I wonder if the story is true? Can't say I've ever heard of 'stick-thin' MIB before but I'd like to read more into it... any links? smiley.


Hey CA519705950,
They have an amazing section here at UFO Casebook on MIB's. The only other link I found in this article is:
http://paranormal.about.com/library/blstory_july06_25.htm
Glad you liked the article.
Crystal

edit to add:
http://www.ufocasebook.com/meninblack.html
This is a very nice file on MIB's
« Last Edit: Aug 9th, 2010, 6:50pm by WingsofCrystal » User IP Logged

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« Reply #556 on: Aug 9th, 2010, 7:08pm »



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« Reply #557 on: Aug 9th, 2010, 7:16pm »

The music is annoying but the photos are nice and sharp



« Last Edit: Aug 9th, 2010, 7:17pm by WingsofCrystal » User IP Logged

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« Reply #558 on: Aug 9th, 2010, 7:52pm »

Stars and Stripes.

GI Bill changes don't include much for families
By Leo Shane III
Published: August 9, 2010

Veterans frustrated over the complex and sometimes unfair rules surrounding the post-9/11 GI Bill benefits smiled last week with the passage of Sen. Daniel Akaka's overhaul of the education funds, designed to simplify and even out the program. But military families hoping for looser rules on transferability probably weren't as excited.

The changes, already approved by the Senate Armed Services Committee and to be debated by the House next month, would provide more money for folks attending private or out-of-state colleges and fewer restrictions on housing or book stipends. Both of those changes will also help out spouses and children attending college through transferred GI Bill benefits.

But the basics of the transferability rules still apply: Troops must serve at least six years active-duty and sign up for four more to transfer education benefits to a spouse. Troops must serve at least 10 years and sign up for four more to transfer them to a child. Troops nearing retirement now may not be able to transfer their benefits at all without signing up for another tour of duty.

Akaka's bill also includes language which "clarifies the purpose of the transferability feature is to promote recruitment and retention" after he raised concerns earlier this summer that too many retirement-age troops were being allowed to transfer benefits to spouses.

When Congress passed the GI Bill changes two years ago the transferability feature was designed as a retention tool, but many troops and veterans who can't qualify under the rules have argued that they earned the right to share their college benefits through their prior service.

But lawmakers outlined only the general parameters of the transferability rules, while Defense Department officials set the actual guidelines. Akaka's bill does not contain any language that would scale back what spouses or children can receive, and Pentagon officials have not yet hinted they'll further limit those rules.

If you have questions about the post-9/11 GI Bill, e-mail me at shanel@stripes.osd.mil or post them in the comments section below.

http://www.stripes.com/blogs/stripes-central/stripes-central-1.8040/gi-bill-changes-don-t-include-much-for-families-1.113965

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« Reply #559 on: Aug 9th, 2010, 8:02pm »

New York Times. Gates always looks like you wouldn't want to poke him with a stick.

August 9, 2010
Making Good on Pledge, Gates Outlines Military Cuts
By THOM SHANKER

WASHINGTON — Defense Secretary Robert M. Gates said on Monday that he would close a major military command, restrict the use of outside contractors and reduce the number of generals and admirals across the armed forces to trim back on unaffordable defense spending.

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Mr. Gates said he had ordered a 10 percent reduction in spending on contractors who provide support services to the military, including intelligence-related contracts, and placed a freeze on the number of workers in the office of the secretary of defense, other Pentagon supervisory agencies and the headquarters of the military’s combat commands.

Mr. Gates, who has been promising to cut the Pentagon’s day-to-day budget in order to meet the continuing costs of the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan in the face of tight fiscal constraints and mounting domestic spending, placed a cap on the number of generals, admirals and senior civilian positions across the Pentagon and the military. He said the Defense Department should try to cut at least 50 general and admiral posts and 150 senior civilian positions over the next two years.

The most pronounced change, in terms of the number of jobs to be eliminated in one blow, was his plan to close the military’s Joint Forces Command, in Norfolk, Va.

The command includes about 2,800 military and civilian positions supported by 3,000 contractors at an annual cost of $240 million. Its responsibilities, which includes programs to force the armed services to work together on the battlefield, will be reassigned, mostly to the military’s Joint Staff.

While large headquarters have been combined and realigned over the years, Pentagon officials could not recall a time in recent history when a major command was shut down and vanished off the books.

Mr. Gates enjoys bipartisan support on Capitol Hill and has considerable sway within the administration to push forward on what no doubt will be controversial initiatives.

But members of Congress protect jobs and spending in their districts, and some of the proposed cuts — in particular eliminating the Joint Forces Command — are certain to earn strong opposition from legislators representing those areas.

Mr. Gates had warned in May that the era of blank checks for national defense was ending.

After nearly a decade of rapid increases in military spending, the Pentagon is facing intensifying political and economic pressures to restrain its budget, setting up the first serious debate since the terrorist attacks of 2001 about the size and cost of the armed services.

Mr. Gates, a carryover from the Bush administration, has already canceled or trimmed several dozen weapons programs, with long-term savings predicted at $330 billion. Now he is looking for complementary cuts across the Defense Department’s civilian and military bureaucracies, the overseas headquarters and their operating costs.

The goal is to convert as much as 2 percent or 3 percent of spending from “tail” to “tooth” — military slang for support services and combat forces. Mr. Gates argued that if Congress guaranteed a 1 percent increase in real defense spending over years to come, the savings he seeks would be reinvested in the combat forces and would be sufficient to pay for national defense.

The budget measures go beyond what many previous defense secretaries have done to cut redundancies and inefficiencies.

But they do not represent an actual decline in year-to-year total spending.

Mr. Gates is calling for the Pentagon’s budget to keep growing in the long run at 1 percent a year after inflation, plus the costs of the war. It has averaged an inflation-adjusted growth rate of 7 percent a year over the last decade (nearly 12 percent a year without adjusting for inflation), including the costs of the wars. So far, Mr. Obama has asked Congress for an increase in total spending next year of 2.2 percent, to $708 billion — 6.1 percent higher than the peak under the Bush administration.

Mr. Gates is arguing that if the Pentagon budget is allowed to keep growing by 1 percent a year, he can find 2 percent or 3 percent in savings in the department’s bureaucracy to reinvest in the military — and that will be sufficient to meet national security needs. In one of the paradoxes of Washington budget battles, Mr. Gates, even as he tries to forestall deeper cuts, is trying to kill weapons programs he says the military does not need over the objections of members of Congress who want to protect jobs.

Over all, Mr. Gates has ordered the armed services and the Pentagon’s agencies to find $100 billion in spending cuts and efficiencies over the next five years: $7 billion for 2012, growing to $37 billion annually by 2016.

At the moment, the administration projects that the Pentagon’s base budget and the extra war spending will peak at $708 billion in the coming fiscal year, though analysts say it is likely that the Pentagon will then need at least $30 billion more in supplemental war financing.

http://www.nytimes.com/2010/08/10/us/10gates.html?_r=1&hp

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« Reply #560 on: Aug 9th, 2010, 8:28pm »

Wired

SAN FRANCISCO — What do you get if you cross a beer geek with a science geek? Really good beers with really geeky names.

I’ve already proven the connection between beer and geologists, but the number of brews out there with awesomely geeky science names suggests that the beer-science link is even more primordial. After stumbling across a few of these, like Shale Ale (named for the Burgess Shale, a famously fossiliferous outcrop) and Homo Erectus (an IPA made by Walking Man Brewing), I decided the matter required further investigation.

With the help of my friends and Twitteronia, I tracked down a bunch more science-geek beers, and a few with super-geeky tech themes (this is Wired, after all). I managed to get seven of them into Wired HQ, because, let’s be honest, this was all just another elaborate excuse to make drinking beer part of my job.

Sadly, I couldn’t get my hands on some of the geekiest beers. A few were short runs for special occasions, like The Empire Strikes Back All-English IPA and Galileo’s Astronomical Ale (tagline: Theoretically the best beer in the universe), brewed by astronomy geek Ken Grossman of Sierra Nevada Brewing Company to celebrate the 400th anniversary of the telescope. And some are seasonal, like 21st Amendment’s Spring Tweet, a beer brewed for Twitter (which brings up the obvious question: Where’s Wired’s beer?)

Others are only available to lucky local geeks, like the beers from Atomic Ale Brewpub in Richland, Washington, including Plutonium Porter, Half-Life Hefeweizen, Oppenheimer Oatmeal Stout and Dysprosium Dunkelweisen.

The seven beers I did obtain came to Wired in the mail from breweries and friends, on a plane in my suitcase, and one was even hand-delivered right to our doorstep. I then gathered some of the other beer lovers at Wired, and we tasted the beers. Each brew was given two scores (out of10 balls, just like everything else we review here): one for taste and one for the geekiness of its name. The highly scientific results, based on the combined score, continue on the following pages.


No. 1: Tricerahops Double IPA
Ninkasi Brewing, Eugene, Oregon
Name:
Beer:

How many aspiring geeks loved dinosaurs as kids? All of them. And how many of them still love dinosaurs? All of them. So it should come as no surprise that Ninkasi Brewery’s Tricerahops Double IPA landed at the top of our list.

This beer is the descendant of Hopasaurus Rex, one of brewer Jamie Floyd’s creations at a previous stint at Steelhead Brewery. But unlike their paleontological namesakes, Tricerahops could totally take H. rex.

“It’s triple the hops and a double IPA, so it’s a big, dangerous beer,” said brewery spokesman James Book. “It’s definitely a monster.”

At 8.8 percent alcohol*, it really is a monster. And the Wired beer drinkers found the Tricerahops to be quite drinkable, which could have been trouble if our tasting supply had been unlimited. The beer certainly is a hoppy one, but the malt was also given a boost and balances the beer nicely and lends a subtle sweetness. Several of the reviewers commented on the staying power of the hoppy aftertaste, but couldn’t agree on whether this was a good thing or a bad thing.

All in all, the beer was a hit and “would be great with a steak,” according to Playbook writer Erik Malinowski. We love it when a great beer name is backed up be a great beer.

WIRED: It’s named after my favorite dinosaur and is one of the least stinky double IPAs we’ve encountered.

TIRED: Extinction by asteroid impact.

Read More http://www.wired.com/wiredscience/2010/08/science-geek-beers/#ixzz0wA7QT9aI

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« Reply #561 on: Aug 9th, 2010, 8:48pm »

Telegraph

Air steward storms off plane on emergency slide
An airline flight attendant who swore at an unruly passenger before storming out of his plane via the emergency inflatable slide has been arrested in New York.

By Robert Winnett
Published: 12:33AM BST 10 Aug 2010

Steven Slater, 39, argued with a passenger in America who was attempting to retrieve his hand luggage from an overhead compartment while the plane from Pittsburgh to New York was still moving on the runway.

When the passenger abused Mr Slater, the "runaway" flight attendant appears to have lost his temper and dramatically resigned.

He grabbed the intercom and said: "To the passenger who called be a mother ------, ---- you.

"I've been in the business 28 years. I've had it. That's it."

Mr Slater then activated the emergency exit and slid down the inflatable slide on to the tarmac.

He then boarded a train to the terminal, stripping off his tie and discarding it to the astonishment of bemused onlookers.

He then drove to his nearby home. He was quickly arrested and charged with reckless endangerment and criminal mischief.

Mr Slater is a long-standing flight attendant who worked for budget airline Jet Blue.

According to his online profile, he has previously worked for other airlines.

His arrest appears to have triggered an online movement, with others who work in jobs which bring them in to contact with rude customers demanding his release.

http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/worldnews/northamerica/usa/7935962/Air-steward-storms-off-plane-on-emergency-slide.html

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« Reply #562 on: Aug 10th, 2010, 04:57am »

Morning all! *sips coffee* grin
Nice photo WoC, it's pleasing to look at. Actually reminds me of childrens TV shows - all the colours and patterns etc, lots of energy and liveliness.
Thanks for the MIB links, too... I've read about MIB in general but I want to see if I can find anything out about these 'super thin' MIB. The report yesterday is the first I've heard of them - interesting stuff!
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« Reply #563 on: Aug 10th, 2010, 07:29am »

on Aug 10th, 2010, 04:57am, CA519705950 wrote:
Morning all! *sips coffee* grin
Nice photo WoC, it's pleasing to look at. Actually reminds me of childrens TV shows - all the colours and patterns etc, lots of energy and liveliness.
Thanks for the MIB links, too... I've read about MIB in general but I want to see if I can find anything out about these 'super thin' MIB. The report yesterday is the first I've heard of them - interesting stuff!


Good morning CA519705950,
It's the first I've heard of the skinny MIB's too. Sounds like a candy bar. The MIB's are fascinating in a creepy way. I don't think I would ever want to meet one.
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xx Re: Stuff & Nonsense
« Reply #564 on: Aug 10th, 2010, 07:30am »

on Aug 9th, 2010, 7:08pm, WingsofCrystal wrote:
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Good morning Crys

How magnificent is that!!!! Hey, ok... my imagination is working over time at present..... good thing Einstein said, "Imagination is everything" ..... laugh But can anyone else see the man in white standing in that with his arms outstretchedhuh

Thanks for those MIB links...grin really interesting.

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« Reply #565 on: Aug 10th, 2010, 07:34am »

Washington Post

4chan users seize Internet's power for mass disruptions

By Ariana Eunjung Cha
Washington Post Foreign Service
Tuesday, August 10, 2010; A01

One morning in June, Google's list of the top global searches began to fill up with random words: "fried chicken," "comic book stores," "gyms." Before anyone could stop it, a racial slur jumped to the No. 1 spot.

Many observers concluded that Google must have been hacked. It wasn't.

It was the victim of a prank that redirected armies of people to search for the same things at the same time.

Corporations spend millions of dollars trying to understand and control traffic on the Internet, and more often than not they don't succeed. 4chan has mastered the feat for free.

Created seven years ago by a 15-year-old, 4chan is a vast web of anonymous, uncensored message boards. No one's in charge, but the site's users have managed to pull off some of the highest-profile collective actions in the history of the Internet.

The 4chan "hive mind" has been credited with -- or blamed for, depending on your perspective -- urging tween idol Justin Bieber to head for North Korea as part of his upcoming world tour (as part of an online poll allowing fans to select which country he should visit), spreading a story that Steve Jobs had a heart attack (which caused Apple's stock to fall precipitously) and starting a rumor that there was a bomb at New York's JFK airport (triggering an evacuation).

The June 17 takeover of Google Trends, the powerful tool that companies use to track what's hot on the Internet, wasn't the first time 4chan succeeded in outwitting Google. The site's users have also managed to get a swastika, symbols depicting planes crashing into the World Trade Center and the words "[expletive] you google" on the trends list.

One user of the site was investigated for hacking Sarah Palin's personal e-mail account during the 2008 campaign.

Trying to game Google to make a search popular is not illegal, but some of the other pranks have brought inquiries by the Securities and Exchange Commission, the Department of Homeland Security and the FBI.

The site's antics have also garnered positive attention: 4chan's founder, Christopher Poole, recently raised $625,000 in funding to create a new online community. Among his investors are some of the most revered Internet inventors and businessmen, including Netscape founder Marc Andreessen, former AOL executive Kenneth Lerer and former Googler Joshua Schachter. The startup is still in stealth mode, so Poole declined to give details.

Digital intuition

How 4chan -- a site built for fun by a teenager that barely ekes out a profit from online ads -- manages over and over again to outwit the systems that multibillion-dollar corporations use to make money on the Internet is one of the great mysteries of the capricious online world.

"The community self-organizes, decides on goals and achieves them in an ad hoc, undirected manner," said Schachter, who invented the social bookmarking tool called Delicious. "I see it like the financial markets -- sort of chaotic. It's hard to understand, but incredibly vital to understanding out how people operate together on very, very large scales."

"4chan is one of those things where we get a brief glimpse of what the future looks like," he said.

When 4chan was created in the fall of 2003, it was a narrowly focused "image board" where people interested in Japanese anime could trade comments and photos. Poole told nearly 20 people about it, and the site has grown by word of mouth ever since. It now has 11 million unique visitors (similar to The Washington Post's numbers in May) and 730 million page views a month (similar to the New York Times). There are 1 million new posts per day. Its demographic is largely males ages 18 to 25 -- "guys with nerdier interests," according to Poole.

'Antithesis of Facebook'

At a time when more and more of the Internet seems walled off into communities such as Facebook or MySpace, which operate with pages of rules and proper protocol, 4chan is the exception.

You don't need to register to post on the site and you can delete your posts at any time with no record. You can curse and insult all you want. While there are some thoughtful, wonky conversations, many of the posts range from juvenile to risque to just plain gross.

Its critics describe 4chan -- and especially Anonymous, a loosely affiliated group that is credited for some of the pranks -- as the dark side of the Internet. "Hackers on steroids," "domestic terrorists" and "Internet hate machine" are among the insults that have been hurled at it online. It has been blocked, albeit temporarily, by both AT&T and Verizon.

But fans say 4chan is a haven for free speech.

"The Internet needs some of these unstructured spaces. . . . This may be a reaction against other places that have developed that say, 'This is what you use Facebook for, this is what you use LinkedIn for,' " said Wendy Seltzer, a fellow at Harvard's Berkman Center for Internet & Society.

Poole, who goes by the online name "moot," is now 22 and based in New York. He describes 4chan as the "antithesis of Facebook."

"Facebook is about real-life identity and having all these connections," he said. "4chan is anonymous and ephemeral."

Poole, who said he was not involved in any of the pranks by the site's users, said it's "pretty spectacular to see what they'll do." "Companies would pay people for that ability," he said. "They would love to be able to have their new product show up in Google Trends."

While part of 4chan's ability to manipulate search rankings comes from the use of clever technical tools, a large percentage must still come from sheer manpower because of safeguards Google has throw out searches that seem to be automated.

Poole, who says he neither instigated nor participated in any of the pranks, explains how 4chan users manage to get on Google Trends. They say, " 'Let's seize this idea.' " They then spread word through the discussion boards, e-mails, chat services and so on, asking everyone to search for a specific word or words at a certain time.

Next, Poole said, outsiders fan the flames. "Bloggers start to see this trending and think there must be a story, and all start to post stories. Higher up the totem pole, the bigger media outlets see rumors, and they'll comment, 'Hey look what everyone else is looking at,' " he said.

Gaming the trends

Search engine expert Barry Schwartz said the Google Trends list is generated by ranking searches and the number of news blog articles coming out about the Web on a new or unique topic. It's impossible to put a number on how many people must be involved to get a topic at the top, he said, but it's "a ton."

Why people would decide to spend their time following suggestions by 4chan is what's unclear in this chain of events.

"There's a lot of energy in the system from people who have nothing to do, no outlet for their goofing off," Schachter surmised. Seltzer theorized that "when people see it as a game to beat Google or stack a vote, they may be willing to do things that they wouldn't have been willing to do for pay."

In March, Poole was invited to speak at Facebook's headquarters in Palo Alto, Calif. He was asked to talk to a group of engineers about 4chan vs. Facebook -- ways they are similar ("there aren't many," Poole says) and how they differ. He started out his talk by asking people to raise their hands if they had a negative impression of 4chan. Most everyone did. "Apparently," he recalled, "I was a controversial speaker."

http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2010/08/09/AR2010080906102.html?hpid=topnews

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« Reply #566 on: Aug 10th, 2010, 07:39am »

Washington Post. So they want our money and supplies then they want to kill us?

Fearing unrest, Pakistan seeks more U.S. flood aid

By Karen DeYoung
Washington Post Staff Writer
Tuesday, August 10, 2010; A06

Pakistan wants the United States to supply immediately dozens more helicopters and significantly more money and supplies to help deal with the widespread flooding that has affected at least 14 million people there, senior Pakistani officials said Monday.

Pakistan's plea is fueled by concerns that the government's inability to provide relief quickly could boost the appeal of militant groups that have rushed to supply aid in the country's northwest. Visible U.S. assistance, the officials said, could help reverse currents of anti-Americanism.

The United States has already diverted six Chinook transport helicopters from the Afghanistan war to Pakistan over the past 10 days for rescue missions and aid delivery. It has also sent hundreds of thousands of prepackaged military meals and a pledge of more than $40 million in disaster assistance, far more than any other country.

'Risk mitigation'

A senior U.S. military official said transfer of additional helicopters, which are in short supply in Afghanistan, would require a political decision in Washington. "Do they exist in the region? Yes," he said. "Are they available? No."

"It's a question of risk mitigation," the official said. "Helicopter lift is critical to the mission" in Afghanistan, where road transport is difficult and dangerous, he said. "It's not like we have a great surplus of helicopters in theater that are not engaging."

A White House official said that Pakistan has not delivered a formal request for more helicopters or vastly increased aid, but that "we are, of course, trying to respond to every request and to assist as best we can as it becomes evident what it is that they need."

The Obama administration has carefully calibrated its assistance to Pakistan over the past year to win popular support without exacerbating Pakistani suspicions of expanded U.S. military and intelligence activities.

In 2005, when U.S. helicopters rescued thousands of people after an earthquake in Kashmir that killed 73,000 people, the popularity of the U.S. military in Pakistan briefly surged. But the floods, while taking fewer lives so far, are much more widespread and promise upheaval that will last longer across most of the country.

The unprecedented floodwaters that have overtaken villages throughout the northwest part of the country are quickly rising across the southern plains as the Indus, Kabul and Swat rivers overflow their banks.

Clinging to rooftops

With the monsoon rain showing no sign of abating, the government estimates that 1,600 people have been killed, 650,00 homes have been destroyed, and more than 50,000 square miles are under water in a disaster still in its early stages.

"Hundreds and hundreds of thousands of other people are inaccessible: clinging to rooftops, swept away," Richard C. Holbrooke, the administration's special representative for Afghanistan and Pakistan, said. "The rains are continuing," he said, and the Sukkur dam, which holds back the Indus River from the agricultural plains of Sindh province, "is in danger." He added: "If it breaks, the situation will reach an even more catastrophic level."

Holbrooke said the administration is calling on other governments to help and is trying to mobilize the business community while pressing for individual contributions via a text-message system the State Department has set up. But, he said, "I'm concerned that perhaps people think that it's just another one of the endless tragedies that Pakistan endures."

Pakistani officials, bemoaning the setback to development plans already behind schedule, appear to be overwhelmed by the scale of the disaster. Many displaced villagers who have set up makeshift camps on high patches along roadways and hilltops have bitterly criticized their government in remarks to reporters who have managed to reach them.

Fearing unrest

"This can create a tremendous amount of social upheaval in the country," said Chief Marshal Rao Qamar Suleman, the head of the Pakistani air force, who arrived here this weekend for Pentagon meetings before heading to Nevada to observe Pakistan's participation in scheduled joint air exercises. "All these people have are the clothes on their backs," he said, and most have seen no sign of government assistance.

Roads, bridges and entire villages have been destroyed, along with electricity and water supplies, throughout the northern regions and across the Federally Administered Tribal Areas along the border, where the Pakistani military has been engaged in offensives against entrenched militant groups since last summer. "It's the same area where just a few months ago we were bombing," Suleman said in an interview.

"The need at this time is helicopters," he said. "That's the only answer."

Suleman estimated that the government needs 30 to 40 more transport and rescue aircraft. The six American Chinooks, as well as Pakistan's fleet of six U.S.-leased MI-17 transport helicopters, have been grounded during much of the past week by cloud cover and the torrential rains.

Pakistani officials have been effusive in expressing gratitude for the rapid U.S. response, a senior Pakistani official said, but the need "is enormous." The hope is that the United States can come up with at least another $100 million in disaster funding in addition to more helicopters, he said, speaking on condition of anonymity about the request, which is still being formalized.

"It takes time to organize" sending helicopters from a war zone, another senior Pakistani official said. "We understand that. But that man sitting on the roof of his house for three days without food or water, he doesn't understand."

The official continued: "The real trick is to reach these people in time. They need everything right now. The militants have money; they will start to distribute supplies. Even if it's only the most rudimentary things," villagers will conclude that "these people care, and that's a difficult feeling for the government to dislodge."

http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2010/08/09/AR2010080905769.html

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« Reply #567 on: Aug 10th, 2010, 07:45am »

New York Times

August 9, 2010
In Crackdown on Energy Use, China to Shut 2,000 Factories
By KEITH BRADSHER

HONG KONG — Earlier this summer, Prime Minister Wen Jiabao of China promised to use an “iron hand” to improve his country’s energy efficiency, and a growing number of businesses are now discovering that it feels like a fist.

The Ministry of Industry and Information Technology quietly published a list late Sunday of 2,087 steel mills, cement works and other energy-intensive factories required to close by Sept. 30.

Energy analysts described it as a significant step toward the country’s energy-efficiency goals, but not enough by itself to achieve them.

Over the years, provincial and municipal officials have sometimes tried to block Beijing’s attempts to close aging factories in their jurisdictions.

These officials have particularly sought to protect older steel mills and other heavy industrial operations that frequently have thousands of employees and have sometimes provided workers with housing, athletic facilities and other benefits since the 1950s or 1960s.

To prevent such local obstruction this time, the ministry said in a statement on its Web site that the factories on its list would be barred from obtaining bank loans, export credits, business licenses and land. The ministry even warned that their electricity would be shut off, if necessary.

The goal of the factory closings is “to enhance the structure of production, heighten the standard of technical capability and international competitiveness and realize a transformation of industry from being big to being strong,” the ministry said.

The announcement was the latest in a series of Chinese moves to increase energy efficiency. The National Development and Reform Commission, which is the government’s most powerful economic planning agency, announced last Friday that it had forced 22 provinces to halt their practice of providing electricity at discounted prices to energy-hungry industries like aluminum production.

The current Chinese five-year plan calls for using 20 percent less energy this year for each unit of economic output than in 2005. But surging production by heavy industry since last winter has put in question China’s ability to meet the target.

The success or failure of China’s energy-efficiency campaign is being watched closely not just by economists, who cite the campaign as one reason that growth of the Chinese economy has slowed down a little this summer, but also by climate scientists.

China’s energy consumption rose so sharply last winter that it produced the biggest surge ever of greenhouse gases by a single country. Power plants burned more coal to generate enough electricity to meet demand.

As China has become increasingly dependent on imported oil and coal, its national security establishment has become more visibly involved in energy policy and energy security, including efforts to improve energy efficiency.

Efficiency improved 14.4 percent in the first four years of the current plan, only to deteriorate by 3.6 percent in the first quarter of this year, according to official statistics. Mr. Wen responded by convening a special meeting of the cabinet in May to address the situation.

Energy efficiency was only 0.09 percent worse in the first half of this year than in the same period in 2009, according to statistics released last week.

Energy analysts said those statistics indicated improvement in efficiency in the second quarter that nearly offset the deterioration in the first quarter, although the government has not released separate figures for the second quarter.

Zhou Xizhou, an associate director for IHS Cambridge Energy Research Associates in Beijing, said that the ministry’s new list of factory closings was a strong measure to improve efficiency. But he added that China’s goal of achieving a 20 percent improvement by the end of this year compared with 2005 was “still a tall order for the rest of the year.”

The ministry said in its statement that the factories to be closed would include 762 that make cement, 279 that produce paper, 175 that manufacture steel and 84 that process leather.

The factories were chosen after discussions with provincial and municipal officials to identify industrial operations with outdated, inefficient technology, the ministry said.

The ministry did not provide figures for the percentage of capacity to be closed in each industrial sector. The ministry also did not say how many employees would be affected.

Closing factories is more palatable now than in the past because a labor shortage in many cities has made it easier for workers, particularly young ones, to find other jobs.

The list of steel mills to be closed appeared to emphasize smaller, older mills producing fairly low-end grades of steel.

Edward Meng, the chief financial officer of China Gerui Advanced Materials, a steel-processing company in central China’s Henan Province, said that the closing of such mills was consistent with the government’s broader goals of consolidating the steel sector and pushing steel makers into the production of more sophisticated kinds of steel.

The International Energy Agency in Paris announced last month that China surpassed the United States last year as the world’s largest consumer of energy.

China passed the United States as the world’s largest emitter of greenhouse gases in 2006. That milestone came earlier because of China’s heavy reliance on coal, an especially dirty fossil fuel in terms of emission of gases contributing to global climate change.

In addition to the energy-efficiency objective in the current five-year plan, a plan announced by President Hu Jintao late last year called for China to reduce its carbon emissions per unit of economic output by 40 to 45 percent by 2020, compared with 2005 levels. Carbon emissions are a measurement of a country’s man-made emissions of greenhouse gases like carbon dioxide.

Even if China meets its energy-efficiency goal this year and its carbon goal by 2020, its total carbon emissions are still on track to rise steeply in the next decade, according to forecasts by the International Energy Agency.

That is because of factors including rapid growth in the Chinese economy, growing car ownership and rising ownership of household appliances.

http://www.nytimes.com/2010/08/10/business/energy-environment/10yuan.html?ref=world

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xx Re: Stuff & Nonsense
« Reply #568 on: Aug 10th, 2010, 07:53am »

Wired Danger Room

Open Source Tools Turn WikiLeaks Into Illustrated Afghan Meltdown (Updated)
By Noah Shachtman August 9, 2010 | 11:54 am | Categories: Af/Pak

It’s one thing to read about individual Taliban attacks in WikiLeaks’ trove of war logs. It’s something quite different to see the bombings and the shootings mount, and watch the insurgency metastasize.

NYU political science grad student (and occasional Danger Room contributor) Drew Conway has done just that, using an open source statistical programming language called R and a graphical plotting software tool. The results are unnerving, like stop-motion photography of a freeway wreck. Above is the latest example: a graph showing the spread of combat from 2004 to 2009. It’s exactly what you wouldn’t want to see as a war drags on.

“The sheer volume of observations [in the WikiLeaks database] inhibit the majority of consumers from being able to gain knowledge from it. By providing graphical summaries of the data people can draw inferences quickly, which would have been very difficult to do by serially reading through the files,” Conway e-mails Danger Room. “For instance, in the most recent graph I posted [see above], many people were noticing the increasing number of attacks around Afghanistan’s ‘ring road,’ over time, and seeing that as an indication of the Taliban’s attempt to undermine the Afghanistan government by cutting off villages from one another.”

Conway’s work largely mirrors what the U.S. military’s internal teams of intelligence analysts found. But Conway and Columbia University post-doc Mike Dewar did all this work themselves, relying solely on free tools and the WikiLeaked logs. Applying statistical analysis, they found little evidence of tampering in the reports. Next month, Conway hopes, a group of New York-based R users will be able to tease out more insights from the data.

Obviously, the logs don’t tell the whole story of the war, as Danger Room has noted before. And the stats may be unduly influenced by the spread of NATO forces into different parts of the country. But for now, the most striking point to Conway was how bad things turned in 2006 and 2007. In Afghanistan’s south, for instance, there was only minimal fighting in the start of ‘06. By the end of the next year… well, see for yourself.

after the jump http://www.wired.com/dangerroom/2010/08/open-source-wikileaked-docs-illustrated-afghan-meltdown/#ixzz0wCtZFJYx

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« Reply #569 on: Aug 10th, 2010, 07:57am »

Wired This day in history

Aug. 10, 1519: Magellan Sets Sail Into History
By Tony Long

1519: Portuguese explorer Ferdinand Magellan, having sworn allegiance to Spain, sets sail from Seville for what will be the first successful circumnavigation of the Earth. Magellan, however, will not complete the voyage.

Like Columbus before him, Magellan’s primary objective was to open up a western trade route for Spain to Asia, since Spanish ships were barred by treaty with Portugal from using the route around Africa. Columbus’ discovery of a new continent presented Magellan with the additional challenge of finding a passage through the new world to the Southeast Asian kingdoms, then referred to as the Spice Islands.

After crossing the Atlantic Ocean and coming to the coast of modern-day Brazil, Magellan and his squadron of five ships turned south. Surviving a mutiny and the wreck of one ship, Magellan sailed the length of South America until finding a deep-water strait near the tip of the continent — the strait that now bears his name.

He lost another ship, which defected and returned to Spain, but passed through the 373-mile-long strait to become the first European to enter the Pacific Ocean from the east. Magellan himself christened it the Pacific Ocean (“Mar Pacifico“) because of its relative placidness compared to the stormy Atlantic.

But it wasn’t placid for long. After re-crossing the equator and dropping anchor at the Marianas Islands and Guam, Magellan became the first European to make landfall in the Archipelago of San Lazaro, now the Philippine Islands. That was the end of the line for Magellan. After befriending the tribal chieftan of Cebu, Magellan joined forces with him in an attempt to subdue the natives on the neighboring island of Mactan. They objected, and Magellan was killed by poisoned arrows on April 27, 1521.

What remained of the squadron continued on to the Spice Islands, then headed home across the Indian Ocean and around the Cape of Good Hope. Of the 270 men who set sail with Magellan, only 18 actually completed the circumnavigation by returning to Spain. They reached Seville on Sept. 8, 1522 aboard the ship Victoria.

Source: NewAdvent.com

Read More http://www.wired.com/thisdayintech/2010/08/0810magellan-sets-sail#ixzz0wCulFztr

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