Japanese and Russian Scientists May Be Able to Clone Mammoth
Published December 03, 2011
YAKUTSK, Russia – Japanese and Russian scientists might be able to clone a mammoth after confirming the presence of well-preserved bone marrow in a mammoth thighbone found in Siberian permafrost, Kyodo News reported.
The scientists from the Sakha Republic's mammoth museum and Kinki University's graduate school will begin research next year to regenerate the huge mammal, which became extinct about 10,000 years ago.
They will transplant nuclei from the bone marrow cells into elephant egg cells whose nuclei were removed through a type of cloning. The process can create an embryo that can be planted into an elephant womb for birth.
For scientists involved in the research since the late 1990s, finding nuclei with undamaged mammoth genes has been a challenge, AFP reported.
But the discovery in August of the well-preserved thighbone in Siberia increased the chances of a successful cloning.
Re: Stuff & Nonsense
« Reply #5656 on: Dec 3rd, 2011, 2:22pm »
New York Times
December 3, 2011, 1:52 pm Herman Cain Suspends His Presidential Campaign By SUSAN SAULNY and ROBBIE BROWN
ATLANTA — An unapologetic and defiant Herman Cain suspended his presidential campaign on Saturday, pledging that he “would not go away,” even as he abandoned hope of winning the Republican nomination. Instead, Mr. Cain announced what he called a “Plan B,” continued advocacy of his tax and foreign policy plans.
“As of today, with a lot of prayer and soul searching, I am suspending my presidential campaign,” Mr. Cain said. “Because of the continued distractions, the continued hurt caused on me and my family, not because we are not fighters. Not because I’m not a fighter.”
Mr. Cain, with his wife at his side, adamantly professed Saturday that the accusations of sexual harassment and of a long-term affair that have swamped his campaign were not true. The circus-like atmosphere surrounding Saturday’s announcement – complete with numerous postponements, barbecue, a blues band and supporters in colonial-era dress – was in keeping with the campaign’s irreverence and disarray since its inception: Mr. Cain, a self-styled rebel, announced his intention to run earlier this year at a rally, also in Atlanta, with the nonsensical phrase, “Aw, shucky ducky!”
For days now, the campaign has fueled a “will he or won’t he?” storm of speculation, at once thriving on the media’s attention while denouncing it as the source of Mr. Cain’s plummeting popularity. Mr. Cain’s critics have long posited that he was more interested in creating celebrity for himself – as a means to sell books and increase speaking fees – than in any serious candidacy.
Mr. Cain’s political unraveling was as swift and sudden as his ascent. It began just one month after an unlikely surge in the polls, from the bottom ranks to the top tier of Republican candidates, fueled by the strength of his performance in debates, the novelty of his 9-9-9 tax plan, and his Sept. 24 surprise victory in the Florida straw poll.
With his golden voice and folksy manner, Mr. Cain appealed to voters who sought an anti-establishment candidate. Mr. Cain, 65, grew up in poverty in the segregated South, the son of a janitor and a maid. But beyond his personal charm and rags-to-riches biography, he had an eclectic, intriguing résumé: chief executive of Godfather’s Pizza, conservative radio host and chairman of the Federal Reserve Bank of Kansas City, Mo.
Toward the end of October, more than one survey found that Mr. Cain, who has never held public office, essentially tied with Mitt Romney, the former Massachusetts governor who has had a consistent lead in most polls.
The accusations of sexual misconduct created a frenzy of interest because the issues at hand were sensational: a candidate who professed to be a devout Christian family man, pitching himself to the conservative core of the Republican party, stood accused of a pattern of lewd sexual behavior by several women. And some of the details were graphic.
A Chicago woman, Sharon Bialek, was the first to come forward publicly. Ms. Bialek said that Mr. Cain made an unwanted and rough physical advance on her 14 years ago when he was the chief of the National Restaurant Association. After taking her out for a night on the town in Washington, she said, he suggested she engage with him sexually in return for his assistance in finding a job — seizing her inappropriately when they were alone in a car and running his hand up her skirt.
A second woman went public within days. That woman, Karen Kraushaar, 55, worked in the government affairs office of the restaurant association for a relatively short time from 1998 to 1999, her tenure being cut short, she said, by her run-ins with Mr. Cain and the discomfort it created for her.
Two other women who complained of harassment by Mr. Cain remained anonymous. But one of those women and Ms. Kraushaar both received the equivalent of a year’s salary in settlements from the National Restaurant Association.
From the moment that the harassment accusations were revealed by Politico, on the night of Oct. 30, Mr. Cain, 65, has proclaimed his innocence in the strongest terms possible and sought to cast blame for what he called a smear campaign in a number of different directions. He first accused the liberal news media, then the rival campaign of Gov. Rick Perry of Texas. Ultimately, the Cain campaign conceded that it had no evidence of an orchestrated conspiracy. But still, Mr. Cain’s own version of events surrounding the accusations shifted again and again. Inexperienced on the national stage, he issued an avalanche of confusing and often contradictory statements.
Polls conducted at the time, however, suggested that the crisis was not eroding Mr. Cain’s standing as a top-tier candidate. He continued to campaign as though he was not at the center of a swirling controversy, ignoring the accusations in speeches and not taking questions on the subject from reporters.
“We’re getting back on message, end of story,” Mr. Cain said after a debate in early November. At no point during the nearly three-hour event, a fund-raiser that began with cocktails, did he address the accusations.
“Don’t even go there,” Mr. Cain warned reporters who clamored to ask him at least one question after the event. But the accusations of sexual misconduct were not Mr. Cain’s only stumbling block.
The very qualities that endeared Mr. Cain to so many conservatives appeared to begin to undercut his chances, as questions were raised about his management style and foreign policy expertise.
In a videotaped interview with the editorial board of The Milwaukee Journal Sentinel that went viral on the Web, Mr. Cain became flustered when asked to assess President Obama’s policy toward Libya, raising questions about his command of foreign policy as he lurched over five minutes from awkward pauses to halting efforts to address the issue.
Compared with his rivals, Mr. Cain hardly campaigned in New Hampshire and Iowa. Former staff members complained that he spent the bulk of his time on a book tour through the South when he should have been organizing a grass-roots operation. He occasionally mishandled potential big donors or ignored real voters, former staff members and supporters said in interviews.
Still, the “Cain train,” as he liked to call his campaign, chugged along, drawing spirited crowds who chanted “9-9-9” and “We want Herman Cain!”
As Thanksgiving approached, it seemed as though Mr. Cain might survive his troubles after all. The whirlwind of news about the scandal had died down a bit. And Mr. Cain spent his time off the trail brushing up on foreign and national security issues. But just then, on the Monday after Thanksgiving, a fifth woman, Ginger White, came forward with details of more inappropriate sexual conduct. Speaking to a local television reporter in Atlanta, Ms. White said that she and Mr. Cain had only recently ended a 13-year extramarital affair.
She produced phone records in an effort to prove that they called or texted each other frequently, and he acknowledged giving her financial support — and also, that his wife of 43 years, Gloria Cain, had been unaware of what he insisted was only a friendship.
The day after Ms. White’s revelation, Mr. Cain said he was considering dropping his bid, as leading conservative voices and party leaders began to question his handling of all the women’s claims. And some of his supporters and defenders also began backing away. On a conference call with staff members and a few big supporters on Tuesday, Mr. Cain said, “It’s also taken a toll on my wife and my family, as you would imagine.”
As of late Thursday, Mr. Cain said that the ultimate decision would rest with Mrs. Cain, with whom he spent Friday night at home in suburban Atlanta.
Re: Stuff & Nonsense
« Reply #5657 on: Dec 3rd, 2011, 2:27pm »
EV Startup Aptera Motors Pulls the Plug By Chuck Squatriglia December 2, 2011 | 6:25 pm Categories: EVs and Hybrids
Photo: Jim Merithew/Wired.com
Southern California electric vehicle startup Aptera Motors is out of time, out of money and out of luck. It announced today that it is shutting its doors, liquidating its assets and laying off its staff.
The company, which first showed off its three-wheeler in 2007 and was working on a more conventional sedan, has long been struggling. Even as it unveiled the production model of the super-aerodynamic 2e electric car (shown above) in April 2010, CEO Paul Wilbur all but pinned his company’s future on receiving a federal loan. Wilbur said in a statement today that Aptera came within spitting distance of turning things around but simply ran out of time and money.
“After years of focused effort to bring our products to the market, Aptera Motors is closing its doors, effective today,” he said in the statement. “This is a difficult time for everyone connected with our company because we have never been closer to realizing our vision. Unfortunately, though, we are out of resources.”
Wilbur said the company had been engaged in “exhaustive due diligence” with the Department of Energy and, having had its business plan “examined from top to bottom,” recently received a conditional commitment letter for $150 million under the Advanced Technology Vehicle Manufacturing loan program. That money would have underwritten development of a five-passenger, mid-sized electric sedan.
“The last remaining hurdle was finding new funds to match the DOE loan,” Wilbur said. But the company, which had secured $40 million from private investors since 2007, was unable to even begin raising the $80 million needed to secure the loan, said Marques McCammon, Aptera’s chief marketing officer.
“We were just starting that process,” McCammon said. “The market got skittish, and it got skittish just at the moment we needed it most.”
However, the Energy Department told The New York Times that it was not conditionally committed to granting the loan.
“I can confirm that Aptera did not receive a conditional commitment for a loan from the department,” Damien LaVera, an Energy Department spokesman, wrote in an e-mail to Times.
In an interview with Automotive News, Wilbur said his company’s inability to secure funding shows investors are cooling on EV startups. McCammon reiterated that point, saying Solyndra’s bankruptcy, a federal investigation into two Chevrolet Volt fires and “two other electric vehicle companies having to go out and raise money — again” made investors wary of supporting Aptera.
It’s a stretch to say Aptera was hobbled by anyone’s perception of EVs. What happened is a reflection of the company, not the industry.
The truth is, Aptera always faced long odds and has been in trouble for at least two years. The audience for a sperm-shaped, three-wheeled, electric two-seater was never anything but small. It didn’t help that production of the 2e — at one point promised for October 2009 — was continually delayed as Wilbur ordered redesigns to make it more appealing to the mainstream. Aptera had a small window in which to be a first mover in the affordable EV space, and that window closed the moment the Nissan Leaf and Chevrolet Volt hit the market. At that point, Aptera teetered on the brink of irrelevance.
Eventually, though, Wilbur realized the 2e would never be anything but a niche vehicle and switched gears, something potential investors made clear must happen. They wondered about the market demand for such a funky vehicle and the long-term viability of the company if it didn’t expand its product lineup.
“Those were legitimate questions,” McCammon said. “And we heard them from the DOE as well.”
So the company made the sedan — which McCammon said had always been part of the plan — its top priority and essentially mothballed the 2e after building a dozen prototypes. McCammon said Aptera had developed a composite manufacturing system that led to vehicles 30 percent lighter but three times stronger than conventional automobiles. The system also allowed for body panels to be manufactured with their finish already applied, eliminating the need for a paint shop. Aptera believed the process could save $750 million in manufacturing start-up costs.
The company had built a styling model of the sedan and an engineering mule to test its drivetrain, and had in recent months begun looking into setting up shop in a mothballed auto factory in Ohio.
In the end, though, it was too little, too late. Even with the DOE loan, Aptera simply couldn’t raise the money needed to go forward. So it is shutting its doors, liquidating its assets and laying off more than two dozen employees effective immediately.
“Nobody here feels this is finished,” McCammon said. “Everyone here is passionate about what we did and why we were here. If we find a way to do this again, we’ll do it again. It can’t be as Aptera, but the vision and the principles that Aptera was founded upon are strong, and they’re right.”
Re: Stuff & Nonsense
« Reply #5658 on: Dec 3rd, 2011, 2:33pm »
Awesome New UFO Theory: Approaching Comet is Really a Borg Cube From Jesus
There's nothing better than a wild UFO conspiracy theory — unless it's a UFO theory that wraps in a debunked comet, the Catholic Church, and Star Trek: The Next Generation.
By Charlie Jane Anders Dec 2, 2011 12:00 PM
Conspiracy theorists believe that Comet Elenin is rapidly approaching Earth, and that it's a perfect cube. A cube piloted by cyborgs who seek to assimiliate the human race into their collective. A Borg Cube, in other words. Yes, the writers of Star Trek: The Next Generation "were being prophetic" when they created the Borg, writes extraterrestrial expert Alex Collier over at the Canadian National Newspaper: http://www.agoracosmopolitan.com/news/ufo_extraterrestrials/2011/12/02/2047.html
(For what it's worth, NASA says Comet Elenin was destroyed in October, and it was never going to be an issue in any case. But that's just what you'd expect them to say.)
So Comet Elenin wasn't actually destroyed, and it's a perfect cube, and this proves the Borg are real. Okay. But it doesn't stop there — apparently this Borg cube is known as the Galactic Obliteration Device, or G.O.D. for short. And there's tons of evidence that Christianity and the Bible are really about how Jesus is a Borg and he's coming to assimilate us. Just look at the image up top, depicting "Jesus of Borg." Apparently this is spelled out in the Book of Revelation.
Over at the Luciferian Liberation Front, there's an article that spells out how going to Heaven is really a metaphor for joining the Borg:
When we dissect the cube of heaven we see that it is constructed like a living cell with its own system of energy circulation and metabolism. (See diagram) From all appearances it is a giant soular battery/generator which allows the ONE mind of the collective G.O.D. to be able to feed off the life essences of the enslaved souls held within its "temple pillars" and redirect their energies according to the will of the ONE. ... Will YOU be a "pillar" in the temple of God?Those spirits which have little or no self-will and have been sufficiently programmed to serve G.O.D. during their lives will have the highest nourishment potential. The Bible tells us what will happen to those who are selected as purest and most worthy to provide sustenance to G.O.D. They will be made "pillars" in the temple of God (Rev. 3:12). They will become a PART of the New Jerusalem and will nourish G.O.D. and "their tears will be wiped away and there shall be no more death neither sorrow nor crying neither shall there be any more pain for the FORMER THINGS are passed away." (Rev. 21:4) Sure, there won't be any more crying! All their memories will be wiped clean. They will no longer exist in a form that is recognizable to them or anyone else.
There's also a nice bit where they compare eternal life in Heaven to joining the Q Continuum, which Star Trek: Voyager proved was so boring that members of the Continuum would choose to commit suicide or become Civil War reenactors.
Re: Stuff & Nonsense
« Reply #5660 on: Dec 3rd, 2011, 4:48pm »
Say what?! 11 minutes to search an old lady in a walker?!
Give me a break!! If this is what its come to, the terrorists have already won.....
85-Year-Old Grandmother to Sue TSA After Strip Search at JFK Airport
Published December 03, 2011 FoxNews.com
An 85-year-old grandmother says TSA agents at JFK Airport in New York humiliated her by strip searching her Tuesday and she plans to sue, The New York Daily News reports.
Lenore Zimmerman from Long Beach, N.Y., says she was pulled into a private screening room by security who then proceeded to take off her clothes.
“I walk with a walker — I really look like a terrorist,” Zimmerman said sarcastically. “I’m tiny. I weigh 110 pounds, 107 without clothes, and I was strip-searched,” The Daily News reports.
Her son Bruce Zimmerman, 53, dropped her off at the Jet Blue terminal for her 1 p.m. flight to Fort Lauderdale, where she lives during the winter. He waited with her until her bags were checked and she was given a wheelchair then left when his mom reached the security checkpoint.
The grandmother asked TSA if she could forgo the advanced image technology screening equipment, fearing it might interfere with her defibrillator. She thought that she would just get a normal pat down. But instead, she says that two female agents strip searched her.
“I was outraged,” said Zimmerman, a retired receptionist.
In the midst of the ordeal, she tried to lift a walker off her lap and the metal bars banged against her leg leaving a bloody gash.
“My sock was soaked with blood,” she said. “I was bleeding like a pig,” The Daily News reports.
The TSA agents reportedly did not stop the search process even as Zimmerman asked, “Why are you doing this?”
The TSA claims the footage does not show any sign of the injury.
The process took so long that she missed her 1 p.m. flight and had to catch a later one.
"A review of CCTV indicates that private screening was requested by the passenger, was granted and lasted approximately 11 minutes," a TSA spokesman told FoxNews.com in a statement.
"TSA screening procedures are conducted in a manner designed to treat all passengers with dignity, respect and courtesy and that occurred in this instance. While we regret that the passenger feels she had an unpleasant screening experience, TSA does not include strip searches as part of our security protocols and one was not conducted in this case," he said.
Zimmerman's son said he can’t understand why the agents targeted his mom.
“She looks like a sweet, little old lady,” he said. “She’s not a disruptive person or uncooperative.”
Re: Stuff & Nonsense
« Reply #5662 on: Dec 4th, 2011, 08:23am »
Egypt releases new election results for party lists showing Islamists dominating
By Associated Press Updated: Sunday, December 4, 5:52 AM
CAIRO — Islamist parties captured an overwhelming majority of votes in the first round of Egypt’s parliamentary elections, setting up a power struggle with the much weaker liberals behind the uprising that ousted Hosni Mubarak 10 months ago. A hardline religious group that wants to impose strict Islamic law made a strong showing with nearly a quarter of the ballots, according to results released Sunday.
The tallies offer only a partial indication of how the new parliament will look. There are still two more rounds of voting in 18 of the country’s 27 provinces over the coming month and runoff elections on Monday and Tuesday to determine almost all of the seats allocated for individuals in the first round. But the grip of the Islamists over the next parliament appears set, particularly considering their popularity in provinces voting in the next rounds.
The High Election Commission said the Islamic fundamentalist Muslim Brotherhood’s Freedom and Justice Party garnered 36.6 percent of the 9.7 million valid ballots cast for party lists. The Nour Party, a more hardline Islamist group, captured 24.4 percent.
The strong Islamist showing worries liberal parties, and even some religious parties, who fear the two groups will work to push a religious agenda. It has also left many of the youthful activists behind the uprising that ousted Mubarak in February feeling that their revolution has been hijacked.
Since Mubarak’s fall, the groups that led the uprising and Islamists have been locked in a fight over the country’s new constitution. The new parliament will be tasked, in theory, with selecting a 100-member panel to draft the new constitution. But adding to tensions, the ruling military council that took over from Mubarak has suggested it will choose 80 of those members, and said parliament will have no say in naming a new government.
“The conflict will be over the soul of Egypt,” said Nabil Abdel-Fattah, a senior researcher at the state-sponsored Al-Ahram Center for Political and Strategic Studies, calling the new parliament “transitional” with a “very conservative Islamic” outlook.
The Brotherhood has emerged as the most organized and cohesive political force in these elections. But with no track record of governing, it is not yet clear how they will behave in power. The party has positioned itself as a moderate Islamist party that wants to implement Islamic law without sacrificing personal freedoms, and has said it will not seek an alliance with the more radical Nour party.
The ultraconservative Salafis who dominate the Nour Party are newcomers to the political scene. They had previously frowned upon involvement in politics and shunned elections. They espouse a strict interpretation of Islam similar to that of Saudi Arabia, where the sexes are segregated and women must be veiled and are barred from driving. Its members say laws contradicting religion can’t be passed.
Egypt already uses Islamic law, or Shariah, as the basis for legislation. However, laws remain largely secular as Shariah does not cover all aspects of modern life.
If the Muslim Brotherhood chooses not to form an alliance with the Salafis, the liberal Egyptian Bloc — which came in third with 13.4 percent of the votes — could counterbalance hard-line elements.
It is also unclear how much influence the new parliament will have over Egypt’s democratic transition and how long it will even serve. The power struggle in parliament could shape up as a fight among the different Islamist trends or between the Islamists and the liberal and secular forces.
The elections, which began Nov. 28, are the first since Mubarak’s ouster and the freest and fairest in Egypt’s modern history.
Turnout of around 60 percent was the highest in living memory as few participated in the heavily rigged votes under Mubarak.
The ballots are a confusing mix of individual races and party lists, and the Sunday results only reflect the party list performance for less than a third of the 498-seat parliament.
Another liberal list, the Wafd Party, received 7.1 percent, while the moderate Islamist Wasat or Centrist Party took 4.3 percent.
The final shape of the parliament will not be announced before January.
The next step in the complex process, a round of runoffs between more than 100 individual candidates competing in the first round for around 50 seats, is set for Monday and Tuesday.
Re: Stuff & Nonsense
« Reply #5664 on: Dec 4th, 2011, 08:34am »
Japanese gangsters may have received loans for tsunami victims
December 4, 2011 | 5:18 am by John M. Glionna
REPORTING FROM SEOUL -- You got a problem with this?
Japanese officials are investigating whether crime syndicate members -- known as Yakuza -- received no-interest loans valued at nearly half a million dollars that were intended for victims of the March 11 earthquake and tsunami.
So far, four Yakuza have been arrested on suspicion of fraud in an alleged scam that reportedly involved 260 gangsters. And the government wants its money back.
The social welfare council of Miyagi Prefecture, which was one of three areas devastated by tsunami flooding, said last week that it is demanding the return of 20 loans distributed to gangsters, according to a report in the Sankei Shimbun newspaper.
In October, Miyagi prefectural police reported that 89 loans totaling nearly $200,000 were mistakenly handed out to gangsters in the region through the emergency welfare loan system.
The project is designed to provide a no-interest loan of up to $2,500 per household. Exclusion laws prohibit the allocation of such loans to gangsters, and a notice from the Welfare Ministry prohibited Yakuza from applying for the loans, the newspaper said.
Another newspaper, the Mainichi Shimbun, reported in October that loan applications require a written declaration indicating that the applicant is not affiliated with an organized crime gang.
Some crime syndicates are suspected of systematically abusing the system to secure funds, with gang bosses telling subordinates who were not disaster victims to apply for the loans.
Miyagi prefecture has so far scrutinized only one-fourth of its 40,000 loan applications, searching for gangster-affiliated applicants, so officials say more wrongdoing might be uncovered.
In nearby Fukushima prefecture, authorities have discovered 170 loans valued at more than $250,000 allocated to gangsters.
Police suspect that crime syndicates have also exploited public donations to disaster victims and the government's financial aid for the displaced.
Re: Stuff & Nonsense
« Reply #5665 on: Dec 4th, 2011, 08:38am »
Police reportedly went undercover at Occupy LA
Reports suggest police used undercover detectives to infiltrate the Occupy LA camp to find out protesters' intentions
Associated Press guardian.co.uk Saturday 3 December 2011 02.39 EST
Los Angeles police used nearly a dozen undercover detectives to infiltrate the Occupy LA encampment before this week's raid to gather information on the anti-Wall Street protesters' intentions, according to media reports.
None of the officers slept at the camp, but they tried to blend in during the weeks leading up to the raid to learn about plans to resist or use weapons against police, a police source told the Los Angeles Times. The source spoke on the condition of anonymity because the case is ongoing.
The undercover work yielded information that some protesters were preparing bamboo spears and other potentially dangerous weapons in advance of an expected eviction, none of which were used, according to the City News Service, which first reported the story.
Police played down the significance of the undercover work since Occupy meetings were public and easily tracked.
Police officer Cleon Joseph declined an Associated Press request for comment on the reports.
Occupy LA protester Mario Brito told City News Service he was not surprised by the revelation, but said it was "tantamount to 1950s McCarthyism".
Meanwhile, the city attorney's office filed criminal misdemeanour charges on Friday against 27 more of the people who were arrested following the police sweep of the camp.
In all, 46 of the 291 people arrested during the raid have been charged with misdemeanour crimes of failure to disperse from an unlawful assembly. Some also were charged with resisting arrest.
The arrests came on Wednesday during a pre-dawn raid on City Hall Park, where nearly 500 tents had been erected.
Re: Stuff & Nonsense
« Reply #5667 on: Dec 5th, 2011, 08:36am »
New York Times
December 5, 2011 WikiLeaks Founder Can Make Final Bid to Avoid Extradition By RAVI SOMAIYA and ALAN COWELL
LONDON — The High Court gave permission on Monday for Julian Assange, the founder of the WikiLeaks antisecrecy organization, to begin a final appeal to Britain’s highest judicial authority against extradition to Sweden on allegations of sexual abuse, the latest step in a yearlong legal battle in which he has been under house arrest at a friend’s country mansion.
In a complicated ruling, two judges rejected most of the grounds on which Mr. Assange, 40, had sought permission to appeal to the Supreme Court. But they said his lawyers could appeal on a single legal technicality relating to the status of the Swedish public prosecutor seeking his extradition.
If the judges had ruled against Mr. Assange, he could have been be sent to Sweden for questioning within days.
Last month, two High Court judges upheld an earlier ruling in favor of extradition, rejecting his lawyers’ claims that sending him to Sweden would be “unfair and unlawful.” In response, Mr. Assange said he would seek permission to make a final appeal to the Supreme Court, which usually hears only cases of constitutional or general public importance.
In the latest hearing, the same two judges, Sir John Thomas and Duncan Ouseley, said they had certified that a point of law in the case had a broader public interest, enabling the appeal to go ahead. The question to be considered by the Supreme Court was whether the Swedish public prosecutor qualified as a judicial authority.
Mr. Assange’s lawyers maintain that public prosecutors are not judicial authorities and are therefore not entitled to sign arrest warrants.
Court officials said the judges’ ruling on Monday meant that Mr. Assange’s legal team had 14 days to set out grounds for an appeal in a written submission to the Supreme Court. It would then be up to the Supreme Court to decide whether to allow an appeal.
“If leave is granted by the Supreme Court,” Sir John said, “we would for obvious reasons ask that the point is decided as quickly as possible.”
Speaking on the courthouse steps after the ruling, Mr. Assange said he was thankful the court agreed that his case had broader implications. Referring to his case and those of others fighting extradition, he said, “It has been a long struggle for justice for me and others.”
Earlier, Mr. Assange’s lawyers were reported to have been considering a last-minute appeal to a European court if the judges refused them permission to approach the Supreme Court. But, court officials said, the European court would likely be unable to prevent Mr. Assange’s extradition if the Supreme Court rules against him.
As it is, the officials said, Mr. Assange will probably be able to remain in Britain into 2012 as the latest legal processes are played out.
WikiLeaks’ release of hundreds of thousands of classified United States military documents on the Iraq and Afghanistan wars and classified State Department diplomatic cables dominated the front pages of newspapers across the world, including The New York Times, last year. Mr. Assange depicted those releases as a means of seeking publicity for documents he hoped would reshape the very nature of government.
But in August 2010, as he rode a wave of celebrity, he was accused of sexual molestation, unlawful coercion and rape, by two WikiLeaks volunteers in Stockholm who said that consensual encounters with Mr. Assange became nonconsensual. Mr. Assange appeared for an initial interview with the police there that month, but fled to London before further questioning could be completed, a court here was subsequently told.
Swedish prosecutors decided to issue an Interpol red notice and a European arrest warrant to compel him to return last December but Mr. Assange, who denies the charges, has fought the warrants at every turn.
He was briefly jailed a year ago, before being released on bail and placed under house arrest at the country mansion of a wealthy friend in eastern England.
Protesters and celebrity supporters — including the socialites Jemima Khan and Bianca Jagger and the journalist John Pilger — have often conflated the case with a battle for free speech. Mr. Assange himself has suggested that government forces might be behind the allegations of sexual wrongdoing as a means of silencing him.
Ravi Somaiya reported from London, and Alan Cowell from Paris.
Re: Stuff & Nonsense
« Reply #5668 on: Dec 5th, 2011, 08:47am »
Russian elections: support for Vladimir Putin's party drops sharply
Parliamentary elections expected to result in Putin's United Russia party losing 77 of its 315 seats in the 450-member Duma
Miriam Elder in Moscow guardian.co.uk, Monday 5 December 2011 05.23 EST
Vladimir Putin's United Russia party is scrambling to come to terms with an election outcome that showed its support severely dropping across the country.
With 95% of votes counted, the party stood to take 49.67% in Sunday's parliamentary election. Election monitors from opposition parties and from independent NGO Golos complained of widespread falsifications, meaning the party's true support was possibly far lower.
The result registered Russians' increasing suspicions of Putin's authoritarianism, ingrained corruption and falling living standards. Solidarity, an umbrella opposition group, called a protest for 7pm local time (3pm GMT). Riot police and interior ministry troops continued to patrol parts of Moscow on Monday.
The parliamentary vote was the biggest test of public opinion following Putin's announcement earlier this year that he plans to stand for the presidency in a March 2012 election.
Voters dealt United Russia, founded with the sole purpose of supporting Putin, a harsh blow. The party is expected to lose 77 seats in the Duma, dropping from 315 to 238. It failed to break through the important 50% barrier in the popular vote – a big drop from the more than 64% popular support it garnered in the country's last election in 2007. Yet it will still retain a majority in the 450-seat chamber.
United Russia was forced to deny rumours that Boris Gryzlov, party chairman and speaker of the Duma, would resign following the result.
"We are quite satisfied with the speaker who we currently have," Sergei Neverov, a top party official, told journalists on Monday. "Today we can confidently say that the United Russia party received the moral right to continue the course of President Dmitry Medvedev and Prime Minister Vladimir Putin," he said.
Another party official sought to put to rest worries that the result could put into doubt Putin's victory in the presidential vote set for 4 March. "As soon as we lose our confidence, we have nothing to do," Andrei Vorobyov, chairman of the party's central executive committee, told journalists.
"These 10 years [that Putin has been in power], it is very easy to lose confidence, but today it is at a very high level," he said. "Our candidate is known – it is Putin, our leader, and we will do everything in our power to ensure that our candidate wins in the first round."
Results showed that Putin's party reached a low in the region of Yaroslavl, taking just 29% of the vote. It got a boost, however, in Chechnya, which is ruled by ruthless leader Ramzan Kadyrov. With nearly 100% of voters turning out, United Russia took 99.48% of the vote, results showed. It also took more than 90% in neighbouring Dagestan.
The New Region newspaper noted that "the record in central Russia was brought by patients of psychiatric clinics, who gave more than 90% of votes to United Russia".
Russians continued to register cases of falsification through the night and into Monday. News reports on state-run television appeared to show results that implied turnout in some regions was as high as 146%.
Vorobyov, the United Russia official, said the party would seek to form a coalition with the other three parties that made it into the Duma – the Communists, the far-right LDPR and Just Russia. All three have long collaborated with the Kremlin. The liberal Yabloko party, which failed to reach the threshold to enter the Duma, said it would challenge the election results.
Re: Stuff & Nonsense
« Reply #5669 on: Dec 5th, 2011, 08:50am »
Wired Danger Room
Did Iran Capture a U.S. Stealth Drone Intact? By David Axe December 4, 2011 | 9:08 pm Categories: Drones
For the second time this year, the Iranian government is claiming it forced down a stealthy U.S. Air Force spy drone. Only this time, Iran says it bagged the RQ-170 “with little damage” by jamming its control signal — a potentially worrying development for American forces heavily reliant on remote-controlled aircraft.
There are good reasons to question Iran’s story — or at least parts of it. For starters, the earlier claim of a drone shoot-down proved false. Why would this announcement be any more credible? Also, for most U.S. unmanned aircraft, merely jamming the control signal won’t bring them down. Some don’t have control signals at all.
The wedge-shaped RQ-170, built in small numbers by Lockheed Martin, was a secret until reporters photographed it at Kandahar Air Field in southern Afghanistan in 2007, as seen above. The Air Force copped to its existence two years later. The RQ-170, nicknamed “Beast of Kandahar” by aviation journalist Bill Sweetman, has since been spotted in South Korea and also played a role in the raid to kill Osama Bin Laden in Pakistan in May.
Analysts says the RQ-170 could scout out Iran’s and North Korea’s nuclear facilities. With the U.S. and Israel threatening to attack Tehran’s nuke sites to prevent the regime from gaining nuclear weapons, reports of RQ-170s flying over Iran should not shock anyone.
Still, the shoot-down claim, published today by the official Islamic Republic News Agency and echoed by Iran’s Press TV, should be taken with a giant grain of salt.
Iran frequently announces it has shot down U.S. surveillance drones, but has not, to our knowledge, produced any evidence of the kills. Even if Tehran did bag itself an American war ‘bot, it might not be an RQ-170. The editors at Press TV undermined their credibility by running the story with a photo of an entirely different drone than the Beast of Kandahar.
Equally dubious is Iran’s insistence that the RQ-170, if that’s what it is, was forced down largely intact by an Iranian army “electronic-warfare unit.” The implication is that the Iranians somehow jammed the command signal beamed to the drone by remote operators.
That’s a pretty big deal, if true. The Predator and Reaper, America’s most numerous attack and surveillance drones, are remotely-controlled via radio link by a pilot on the ground. If the link is broken, they’re designed to enter a holding pattern or even return home. But these failsafes aren’t perfect, as the Air Force discovered in 2009 when a Reaper drone went haywire and had to be shot down by an F-15. The Air Force and Navy have admitted that the control link represents a critical weakness and have worked hard to make drones more autonomous.
Serious, widespread autonomy is for the next generation of drones. Most of today’s Unmanned Aerial Vehicles can probably be jammed, but before now no one has succeeded in actually doing it — again, if Iran’s claims are true.
But even if Iran did force down an American drone, it’s unlikely it was an RQ-170. The Beast of Kandahar probably navigates autonomously, like Northrop Grumman’s Global Hawk does — in contrast to the less sophisticated, remote-controlled Predators and Reapers. NATO acknowledged losing a UAV in western Afghanistan last week. “The operators of the UAV lost control of the aircraft and had been working to determine its status,” NATO explained in a press release.
That the operators “lost control” indicates the drone in question was not an RQ-170. And NATO losing a robot is not the same as Iran possessing it intact.