Chinese Media Report 15 Killed in School Bus Crash
Published December 12, 2011
BEIJING – Chinese state media say a school bus belonging to a primary school has overturned, killing at least 15 students, despite a recent government pledge to improve school safety after an earlier crash of a school van.
The official Xinhua News Agency did not give the ages of the victims in the crash Monday evening.
It said the bus was carrying 29 students when it overturned in Xuzhou city in Jiangsu province in eastern China. It said 11 others were hurt.
Last month, 19 students and two adults were killed when a nine-seat private school van packed with 62 children and two adults crashed head-on with a truck in northwest Gansu province.
Re: Stuff & Nonsense
« Reply #5716 on: Dec 13th, 2011, 09:01am »
OOH-RAH Once in a while they get it right....
Federal Judge overturns Lejeune Base Commander
Federal Judge Permits Father of Serviceman Killed on USS Cole to Express opposition to Islamic Terrorism over Objections of Marine Base Commander!
ANN ARBOR, MI - Jesse Nieto is one of those many unsung patriotic Americans. He served 25 years in the Marine Corps, including two combat tours in Vietnam. His youngest son, Marc, and 16 of Marc's shipmates were killed on October 12, 2000, by Islamic terrorists who bombed the USS Cole. Nieto has worked as a civilian employee at Camp Lejeune Marine Corps Base in North Carolina since 1994.
Yesterday, U.S. District Court Judge Malcolm J. Howard delivered good news to Mr. Nieto. He ruled that Camp Lejeune officials violated his free speech rights when they ordered him to remove decals attacking Muslim terrorists from his vehicle. Judge Howard enjoined Marine officials from further enforcing the ban against Nieto.
Check out the license plate. The rest of the story on political correctness run amok follows:
Beginning in 2001, to show his anger toward the Muslim terrorists who killed his son, Nieto displayed various decals on his vehicle expressing anti-terrorist sentiments, such as "Remember the Cole, 12 Oct 2000, " "Islam = Terrorism, " and "We Died, They Rejoiced." Based on a complaint from a Marine who is married to a Muslim, on July 31, 2008, two military police officers (MPs) issued Nieto a ticket for displaying offensive material."
After Nieto refused to remove the offending" decals from his vehicle, the Base Magistrate issued Nieto a written order, ordering him to remove his vehicle from the base until all decals were removed and banning his vehicle from all other federal installations. The order in effect prevented Nieto from driving his vehicle to Arlington National Cemetery (a federal installation) to visit the grave marker of his fallen son.
As a result of the Marine Corps' unlawful action, the Thomas More Law Center, a national public interest law firm based in Ann Arbor, Michigan, filed a federal lawsuit against the Camp Lejeune Commanding Officer and the Base Magistrate on behalf of Nieto in the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of North Carolina. The civil rights lawsuit challenged the constitutionality of the military's ban on Nieto's speech.
Richard Thompson, President and Chief Counsel of the Thomas More Law Center, commented, "Political correctness is destroying our military.” 9/11 was caused by Islamic terrorists, and our troops are being killed by Islamic terrorists overseas and on our very own military bases; yet, our commanders are more concerned about 'diversity' and not offending the Muslim community. And here, the military re-victimized a father anguishing over the murder of his son by Islamic terrorists because they don't want to offend Muslims." During sworn testimony taken in the case, Marine officials admitted they would allow speech that favored Islam, but not Nieto's speech because they considered it "extremist, indecent, and offensive."
In his opinion, Judge Howard responded to the government's argument as follows: "Defendants argue that the regulation is reasonable and necessary because it is aimed at preventing speech the sole intention of which is to inflame the passion of those within the Base Command. However, defendants fail to recognize that pro Islamic messages, such as 'Islam is Peace, ' and 'Islam is Love, ' may be just as incendiary to individuals like plaintiff as anti-Islamic messages are to the individual who complained about plaintiff's decals."
Robert Ruise, Senior Trial Counsel for the Law Center who handled the case, commented, "As Judge Howard's well-reasoned opinion makes plain, political correctness and 'diversity' do not justify violating the Constitution. As a former Marine, I am ashamed at the way the Marine Corps treated this grieving father and war veteran. When I told him of the good news yesterday, he was elated. He plans to be back on base with his vehicle early next week."
The Thomas More Law Center defends and promotes America's Christian Heritage and moral values, including the religious freedom of Christians, time-honored family values, and the sanctity of human life. It supports a strong national defense and an independent and sovereign United States of America. The Law Center accomplishes its mission through litigation, education, and related activities. It does not charge for its services. The Law Center is supported by contributions from individuals, corporations and foundations, and is recognized by the IRS as a section 501(c) (3) organization.
Re: Stuff & Nonsense
« Reply #5717 on: Dec 13th, 2011, 09:12am »
"In his opinion, Judge Howard responded to the government's argument as follows: "Defendants argue that the regulation is reasonable and necessary because it is aimed at preventing speech the sole intention of which is to inflame the passion of those within the Base Command. However, defendants fail to recognize that pro Islamic messages, such as 'Islam is Peace, ' and 'Islam is Love, ' may be just as incendiary to individuals like plaintiff as anti-Islamic messages are to the individual who complained about plaintiff's decals."
Re: Stuff & Nonsense
« Reply #5718 on: Dec 13th, 2011, 09:15am »
New York Times
December 13, 2011 ‘Tantalizing Hints’ but No Direct Proof in Particle Search By DENNIS OVERBYE
Physicists will have to keep holding their breath a little while longer.
Two teams of scientists sifting debris from high-energy proton collisions in the Large Hadron Collider at CERN, the European Center for Nuclear Research, said Tuesday that they had recorded “tantalizing hints” — but only hints — of a long-sought subatomic particle known as the Higgs boson, whose existence is a key to explaining why there is mass in the universe. It is likely to be another year, however, before they have enough data to say whether the elusive particle really exists, the scientists said.
The putative particle weighs in at about 125 billion electron volts, about 125 times heavier than a proton and 500,000 times heavier than an electron, according to one team of 3,000 physicists, known as Atlas, for the name of their particle detector. The other equally large team, known as C.M.S. — for their detector, the Compact Muon Solenoid — found bumps in their data corresponding to a mass of about 126 billion electron volts.
If the particle does exist at all, it must lie within the range of 115 to 127 billion electron volts, according to the combined measurements. “We cannot conclude anything at this stage,” said Fabiola Gianotti, the Atlas spokeswoman, adding, “Given the outstanding performance of the L.H.C. this year, we will not need to wait long for enough data and can look forward to resolving this puzzle in 2012.”
Over the last 20 years, suspicious bumps that might have been the Higgs have come and gone, and scientists cautioned that the same thing could happen again, but the fact that two rival teams using two different mammoth particle detectors had recorded similar results was considered to be good news. Physicists expect to have enough data to make the final call by the summer.
The Atlas result has a chance of less than one part in 5,000 of being due to a lucky background noise, which is impressive but far short of the standard for a “discovery,” which requires one in 3.5 million odds of being a random fluctuation. Showing off one striking bump in the data, Ms. Gianotti said, “If we are just being lucky, it will take a lot of data to kill it.”
Physicists around the world, fueled by coffee, dreams and Internet rumors of a breakthrough, gathered in lounges and auditoriums to watch a Webcast of a series of talks and a discussion of the results at CERN, the European Center for Nuclear Research, Tuesday morning. The results were posted on the Web.
As seen on the Webcast, the auditorium at CERN was filled to standing room only. At New York University, dozens of physicists gathered in a physics lounge burst into applause.
Re: Stuff & Nonsense
« Reply #5719 on: Dec 13th, 2011, 12:30pm »
Iran rejects U.S. request to return spy drone December 13, 2011 | 7:01 am Ramin Mostaghim in Tehran and Alexandra Zavis in Beirut
REPORTING FROM TEHRAN AND BEIRUT -- Iran on Tuesday rebuffed a U.S. request to return the radar-evading drone that was seized while on a CIA spying mission, saying the country should first apologize for violating Islamic Republic airspace.
"The U.S. spy drone is the Islamic Republic of Iran's possession, and our country will decide what to do in this regard," Iranian Defense Minister Ahmad Vahidi was quoted as saying by the semi-official Iranian Students News Agency.
He accused the U.S. of acting in a "bullying way" rather than offering an apology to Iran and Afghanistan, where the aircraft was based.
Iran says its armed forces downed the RQ-170 Sentinel about 140 miles inside the country earlier this month using electronic warfare. U.S. officials say the bat-winged unmanned spy plane malfunctioned and went down on its own.
Iranian officials have said the country is recovering valuable data from the drone, which appeared relatively intact in footage released by authorities, and have boasted of plans to copy the plane.
U.S. officials are skeptical about Iran’s ability to reverse-engineer the aircraft’s unique capabilities. But they have expressed concern that Iran could offer the drone to China or other U.S. rivals that are building their own stealth aircraft.
President Obama said Monday the U.S. had requested that Iran return the drone, although U.S. officials said they did not expect the country would comply.
"President Obama should not forget that the Iranian airspace was clearly violated by the U.S. drone and therefore the U.S. should first apologize for that," Iranian Foreign Ministry spokesman Ramin Mehmanparast told reporters in Tehran. "We ask Mr. Obama how he and the U.S. would have reacted if U.S. airspace had been violated by a spy drone."
Re: Stuff & Nonsense
« Reply #5720 on: Dec 13th, 2011, 12:34pm »
Wired Danger Room
Navy Gives Neck Injections A Shot At Curing PTSD By Katie Drummond December 13, 2011 | 6:30 am Categories: Science
What if doctors could cure post-traumatic stress disorder with a single injection to the neck? One Chicago-area doctor claims he can, and has finally convinced someone in the Pentagon to give the idea a shot. And Danger Room has learned that some in the Navy believe the approach might actually work.
The freaky procedure is called stellate-ganglion block (SGB). It’s the brainchild of Chicago anesthesiologist Dr. Eugene Lipov. He’s touted the method for years, even winning then-Senator Barack Obama’s support in 2007, and he’s treated dozens of military personnel and veterans at his own clinic.
Until recently, Lipov was largely ignored by Pentagon brass and military doctors. All four of his applications for military research funding were denied. The most recent rejection came just last month.
But someone with the Pentagon’s funding review boards forgot to tell the Navy. One of its doctors is now several months into the first-ever military study on SGB — and she tells Danger Room exclusively that the method actually appears effective.
“I think of SGB as being similar to re-starting a computer, only we’re talking about circuitry of the nervous system and chemical pathways,” says Capt. Anita Hickey. Hickey is the director of Integrative Pain Medicine at the Naval Medical Center San Diego, where she’s studied a variety of new approaches to PTSD diagnosis and treatment among military personnel, including brain scans and acupuncture. “We’re seeing very positive results.”
The study is the latest evidence of the Pentagon’s increasing desperation to get a handle on PTSD — a frequently debilitating condition that affects an estimated 250,000 soldiers just from this decade’s wars, and thousands more from earlier conflicts. Doctors across the country are getting Pentagon dollars to study ideas as far-out as dog therapy and “digital dreaming” software. Capt. Hickey says that the Navy alone is currently funding 82 different studies on potential PTSD treatments. So far, nothing’s proven to be a magic bullet.
You can credit — or blame — the military’s recent embrace of holistics (acupuncture is now used in combat, and several military hospitals offer yoga) for Hickey’s SGB study. Last year, a senior Naval official heard Dr. Lipov present his idea to the House Veteran’s Affairs Committee. The official brought the idea up to top Navy docs, all of whom rejected it.
Then Capt. Hickey, a doctor herself, came along. An aficionado of alt-medicine and longtime advocate for combat acupuncture, Hickey thought the concept had potential. Hickey applied to the Navy for funding, and got $100,000 — even as other military doctors gave Lipov’s proposals the thumbs-down. She’s now midway through a long-term evaluation of SGB in 42 Naval personnel diagnosed with PTSD.
Capt. Hickey said she couldn’t divulge specific data from the study. But she did say that the process is double blind and placebo controlled. One group of patients receives a placebo, and neither doctor nor patient knows what was administered. The method is the gold-standard for rigorous medical research because it minimizes any subjective bias and helps distinguish real results from imagined ones.
“Of course, we’ve got more work ahead of us,” Capt. Hickey says. “But our team considers itself very open minded — if something works, it works. And with PTSD, we desperately need something to work.”
Lipov initially used SGB to treat hot flashes among post-menopausal women. When he dug up an old Finnish paper on adapting the procedure for PTSD, he in 2007 decided to give it a stab. Preliminary attempts worked incredibly well: SGB seemed to alleviate PTSD symptoms within five minutes, and one former Marine Corps Sergeant enthused that “I immediately felt more relaxed and calmed down. It’s been great.”
Unfortunately, Lipov wasn’t entirely sure how SGB targeted PTSD — hardly what Pentagon brass want to hear about an exciting new treatment prospect.
After subsequent research, however, Lipov in 2009 published a paper in Medical Hypothesis – a journal whose stated mission is to “publish radical, speculative and non-mainstream ideas” — describing how SGB seems to work. The injection of anesthetic, administered into a bundle of sympathetic nervous tissue in the neck, appears to turn off something called nerve growth factor. Nerve growth factor can surge during stressful experiences and promote the sprouting of nerves. That triggers chronic stress — what’s commonly known as the “fight or flight” response.
“If somebody’s circuitry is going haywire, then the anesthetic shuts it off, and reboots the system,” Dr. Hickey says.
Of course, you’d be right to think that rebooting a soldier’s nervous system sounds a little scary. And indeed, SGB isn’t without risks. The injection can trigger seizures, hit an artery or even puncture the lung, however rarely.
Those downsides might explain why the Pentagon hasn’t jumped all over SGB. Most recently, Lipov’s proposal for a $1.6 million study was rejected by the U.S. Army Medical Research and Materiel Command at Fort Detrick. Reviewers noted that the proposal was too ambitious and expensive for something that still lacked “a convincing neurobiological explanation.”
Sure, many in the military are open minded about new approaches to treating PTSD. But claiming to cure PTSD with one injection, when months of therapy and powerful prescriptions fail, hardly seems realistic. Not to mention that therapy isn’t accompanied by the risk of a punctured lung.
Still, there’s no question the military is running out of options. Giving more serious consideration to controversial ideas, such as SGB, ecstasy or marijuana, is likely only a matter of time. Lipov, for one, has no plans to stop pushing the Pentagon: He’s written a book on the procedure, and has a new study of his own, on eight veterans, being published in February’s edition of the journal Military Medicine.
Not to mention a new strategy for scoring federal research dollars.
“I’m done trying to get any money from the Pentagon, because they’ve got a broken, biased system for giving it out,” he tells Danger Room. “From now on, I’m just going to go straight to Congress and the Senate.”
Re: Stuff & Nonsense
« Reply #5721 on: Dec 13th, 2011, 12:38pm »
Uploaded by nogoodflix on Dec 9, 2011
The Three Stooges Trailer 2012 - Official movie trailer in HD - Farrelly Brothers movie starring Sean Hayes, Chris Diamantopoulos and Will Sasso - directed by Bobby Farrelly and peter Farrelly - while trying to save their childhood orphanage, Moe, Larry, and Curly inadvertently stumble into a murder plot and wind up starring in a reality TV show.
"The Three Stooges" movie hits theaters on April 13, 2012.
Left on a nun's doorstep, Larry, Curly and Moe grow up finger-poking, nyuk-nyuking and woo-woo-wooing their way to uncharted levels of knuckleheaded misadventure. Out to save their childhood home, only The Three Stooges could become embroiled in an oddball murder plot...while also stumbling into starring in a phenomenally successful TV reality show. The Three Stooges movie trailer 2012 is presented in full HD 1080p high resolution.
THE THREE STOOGES 2012 movie Genre: Comedy Cast: Sean Hayes, Chris Diamantopoulos and Will Sasso Directors: Bobby Farrelly, Peter Farrelly Writer: Mike Cerrone, Bobby Farrelly, Peter Farrelly
The Three Stooges official movie trailer courtesy 20th Century Fox.
Re: Stuff & Nonsense
« Reply #5724 on: Dec 13th, 2011, 5:38pm »
World's Biggest Aircraft Will Ferry Passengers to Space in Stratolaunch Vision
Published December 13, 2011
Microsoft co-founder Paul Allen announced Tuesday his plan to create a company that will bring “airport-like operations” to private spaceflight --thanks to the world's biggest aircraft.
The business magnate is teaming up with Burt Rutan, the aerospace engineer that developed the original SpaceShipOne -- the first privately funded, manned rocket ship to fly beyond Earth’s atmosphere. Looking to build on that success, Stratolaunch Systems promises to bring greater safety, cost-effectiveness, and flexibility to space travel.
"For the first time since John Glenn, America can not fly its own astronauts into space," Allen said, noting the recent final flight by the space shuttle and the elimination of the Constellation program, which would have built a successor craft. "By the end of this decade, Stratolaunch will be putting spacecraft into orbit."
"We will keep America at the forefront of space exploration," he said.
The new space system will be focused on carrying commercial and government cargo into space, but Rutan and Allen hope it will eventually carry human cargo as well. The company's motto: Any orbit, any time.
"I have long dreamed about taking the next big step in private space flight after the success of SpaceShipOne -- to offer a flexible, orbital space delivery system," Allen said. "We are at the dawn of radical change in the space launch industry. Stratolaunch Systems is pioneering an innovative solution that will revolutionize space travel.”
The idea between Stratolaunch's "mobile-launch" system isn't new. In fact, it's similar to the one used for Rutan's earlier craft SpaceShipOne, which requires a "mothership" to carry it into the air before it is released for air-launch.
This time around, Stratolaunch Systems will be using a custom carrier aircraft developed by Scaled Composites, Rutan's aerospace engineering company. Powered by six 747 engines, it will be the largest aircraft ever flown, weighing more than 1.2 million pounds with a wingspan of 380 ft. -- longer than a football field.
The carrier aircraft will operate from a large airport/spaceport, such as Kennedy Space Center, and it will be able to fly up to 1,300 nautical miles to the payload’s launch point. The plane will be built in a Stratolaunch hangar that will soon be under construction at the Mojave Air and Space Port.
“We believe this technology has the potential to someday make spaceflight routine by removing many of the constraints associated with ground launched rockets,” said board member Mike Griffin, a former NASA administrator. “Our system will also provide the flexibility to launch from a large variety of locations.”
The biggest advantages of the air-launch-to-orbit system will be Stratolaunch’s quick turnaround between launches. This means lower costs and more potential flights.
The first test flight is planned for the beginning of 2016.
Allen and Rutan first collaborated together on SpaceShipOne, a suborital air-launched spaceplane.
SpaceShipOne made history in 2004 when it successfully reached space and pilot Mike Melville became the first civilian to fly a spaceship out of the Earth's atmosphere. Four months later, SpaceShipOne became the first private manned spacecraft to exceed 328,000 feet twice in 14 days, earning it the prestigious $10 million Ansari X-Prize, created in 1996 to kick-start the development of privately built rocket ships.
"This is the true frontier of transportation," Marion C. Blakey, head of the Federal Aviation Administration said at the time. "It feels a little bit like Kitty Hawk must have."
Re: Stuff & Nonsense
« Reply #5726 on: Dec 13th, 2011, 6:41pm »
Uploaded by MITNewsOffice on Dec 12, 2011
MIT Media Lab researchers have created a new imaging system that can acquire visual data at a rate of one trillion frames per second. That's fast enough to produce a slow-motion video of light traveling through objects.
Re: Stuff & Nonsense
« Reply #5727 on: Dec 14th, 2011, 1:24pm »
Liege attacks: Belgian gunman Nordine Amrani had 'grudge against society'
Belgian gunman Nordine Amrani launched his attack on Christmas shopping crowds in Leige's busy Place Saint Lambert because he knew that he was going to be sent back to prison and had a "grudge against society", his lawyers said on Wedesday.
By Bruno Waterfield, Liege 2:57PM GMT 14 Dec 2011
It emerged early on Wednesday morning that Amrani, 33, killed a 45-year old woman before carrying out his grenade and assault rifle attack that killed three people in Liege, including a 17-month old baby boy.
The Belgian, of Moroccan origin, was on parole and had been summoned to police, where he feared being arrested and being returned to prison because his car number plate had been seen at the scene of an "immoral act".
With previous convictions and jail terms for possession of arms, he would have known that the police would have raided his properties where he had a new stash of heavy weapons, including grenades and assault rifles.
"He feared being returned to prison. He called me twice on Monday afternoon and on Tuesday morning about it," said Jean-François Dister, his criminal defence lawyer in Liege.
"What worried him most was to be jailed again. According to my client it was a set-up by people who wanted to harm him. Mr Amrani had a grudge against the law. He thought he had been wrongfully convicted."
The Belgian justice authorities are facing questions because Amrani had been released early from prison on arms and drugs charges. His release had involved plea bargaining and partial acquittal for his armoury of dozens of weapons and 9,500 rounds of ammunition.
Before his suicide attack on Christmas shoppers, he killed a woman who worked as a cleaner for a an unnamed neighbour. He is said to have asked her into his "lock-up", a deserted and tatty house and garage property where he did not live, on the pretext of offering her work. He killed her with a shot to the head.
"A search last night revealed in a warehouse used by the attacker, notably to grow cannabis, the body of a woman killed by the attacker before he went to the Place St Lambert," said Cedric Visart de Bocarme, a Liegeois prosecutor.
Prosecutors have confirmed that Amrani committed suicide after the attacks by shooting himself in the forehead with his revolver after he had hurled three grenades and sprayed shoppers with rounds from his FN-FAL assault rifle.
Before carrying out the attack, Amrani then transferred cash to his fiancee's account with the words "I love you my love. Good luck."
His wife-to-be is a woman called Perrin Balon, who is a nurse for a home visits social care company outside Liege and who paid the bills on the warehouse where the cleaner's body was found. She is in hiding with her middle class family after being interviewed by police.
His family lawyer, Abdelhadi Amrani in Brussels, who is not related to the killer, said that he had grown up in foster homes after being orphaned at an early age.
"I remember a man deeply marked by loss of his parents. He lost his father and mother very early. He was marked by fate. I would add he was a very smart boy, gifted. Nordine often spoke of his desire to start a family. He was to be married in Liege with a nurse," she said.
Miss Amrani, the lawyer, dismissed any possible terrorist motives for the attack. "He did not feel at all Moroccan. He did not speak a word of Arabic and was not Muslim. What he said is that he felt a Belgian," she said. "He was crazy about weapons but as a collector. He felt he had not had much luck in life and felt unfairly treated by the courts. This was a 'ras-le-bol' of a tormented soul: estranged from justice, and against society."
The attack has led to a heated national debate in the country about gun laws and why he was considered safe to be released, having been sentenced in 2008 to 58 months in prison for illegal possession of ten firearms.
A 17-month-old baby boy became the fourth victim after dying in hospital late on Tuesday night despite undergoing hours of emergency treatment.
Gabriel was in the arms of his mother when he was hit by a bullet in the back of the head. The child and his parents were at the bus stop just below the walkway where the shooter opened fire.
Amrani had been due to attend a police interview in the late morning but never showed up. Instead he left his apartment armed with a Belgian-made FN- FAL automatic rifle, a handgun and up to a dozen grenades carried in a backpack.
He drove the five-minute journey from his 1930s apartment building the Residence Belvedere and parked his white van in Place St Lambert.
He walked onto a raised walkway above a bus stop where lunchtime shoppers were thronging for the opening of a Christmas market. From his 15ft high vantage point he lobbed three hand grenades towards a busy bus shelter before opening fire on the crowd. A 15-year-old boy died instantly while the baby of 17 months and a 17-year-old boy succumbed to their injuries in hospital. Five people are still fighting for their lives, including a 75-year old woman who was initially declared dead on arrival at hospital.
As schoolchildren lay flowers in a shattered bus shelter on Wednesday, shocked young Leigeois pointed to bullet scarred walls and wept. "It is awful to be here, to see the wreckage and to think that I come here all the time to shop and meet friends. Everyone comes here, it could have been me, anyone" said Christine Collard, 16.
Re: Stuff & Nonsense
« Reply #5728 on: Dec 14th, 2011, 1:33pm »
Roadside bomb kills local Afghan official who fought drug trade
December 14, 2011 | 5:33 am
REPORTING FROM KABUL -- A district chief who crusaded against drug trafficking in Afghanistan's poppy heartland was killed Wednesday in a roadside bombing, Afghan officials said. Two bodyguards died along with him. The slain official was identified as Massoud Khan, whose district, Khanishin, has traditionally been a major poppy-producing area in Helmand province, which is itself the epicenter of the country's lucrative drug trade. He was killed returning home from a meeting in a neighboring district to coordinate counter-narcotics strategy with tribal elders, officials said.
A provincial spokesman, Daoud Ahmadi, said that in addition to the three who were killed, three others in Khan's entourage were injured, two Afghan policemen and an Afghan intelligence agent.
Although the Taliban movement has suffered military setbacks in Helmand and in neighboring Kandahar province, its fighters have demonstrated the continuing ability to carry out assassinations of local officials and tribal elders who cooperate with the Afghan government. The bulk of such targeted killings have taken place in southern Afghanistan.
Afghan and international counter-narcotics officials have expressed concern that drug trafficking, a major source of income for the insurgency, will rise sharply as the international troop presence in the country diminishes. The NATO force is looking to wind down its combat mission in 2014, with Afghan troops gradually assuming security responsibilities between now and then.
Re: Stuff & Nonsense
« Reply #5729 on: Dec 14th, 2011, 1:38pm »
Black Hawk Made: A Peek Inside the Sikorsky Factory By Jason Paur December 14, 2011 | 6:30 am Categories: Army and Marines
Photos: Jason Paur/Wired.com
Mention the Black Hawk helicopter and the first thing most people think of is the 1993 incident in Somalia where the Sikorsky-manufactured helicopter became famous for all the wrong reasons. A best-selling book and Hollywood movie tends to trump the day in, day out work that's been performed by the helicopters for more than 30 years. But if the Bell UH-1 Huey was synonymous with "military helicopter" during the 1960s and 1970s, the UH-60 Black Hawk (and its siblings) has taken its place ever since.
The UH-60 Black Hawk is actually just one member of a large family of helicopters. The military designates the variants of the H-60 with a prefix indicating their intended purpose: there's the utility UH-60; search and rescue/medical evacuation HH-60; anti-submarine SH-60; multi-mission MH-60; or the staff transporting VH-60. (No word on the designation for the stealth version used in the Osama bin Laden raid.) The company designation for the model is S-70.
The helicopter is used by every branch of the U.S. armed forces and several other government agencies, including the Customs and Border Patrol and the Drug Enforcement Agency. More than 30 foreign countries operate at least one variant of the S-70 family, some as close as Canada and Mexico, others as far away as China.
On a trip earlier this year to learn about Sikorsky's speedy X-2 helicopter program, we visited the company headquarters in Stratford, Connecticut. On our way to the flight test office, we were able to take a tour of the factory where the S-70 helicopters roll off the assembly line and are test flown before being delivered to the wide range of customers. Here's a sampling of what we saw -- and how the signature U.S. military helicopter gets put together.
Above, an unpainted UH-60M sits on the flight line just outside the factory doors, awaiting its first ground run before preliminary flight testing. Some of the helicopters are painted before flight test, while others are flown with only the primer colors on the various components.