Re: Stuff & Nonsense
« Reply #5763 on: Dec 18th, 2011, 9:16pm »
Dec 18, 10:12 PM EST North Korean leader Kim Jong Il, 69, has died
SEOUL, South Korea (AP) -- Kim Jong Il, North Korea's mercurial and enigmatic leader, has died. He was 69.
Kim's death was announced Monday by state television from the North Korean capital, Pyongyang.
Kim is believed to have suffered a stroke in 2008 but appeared relatively vigorous in photos and video from recent trips to China and Russia and in numerous trips around the country carefully documented by state media.
The leader, reputed to have had a taste for cigars, cognac and gourmet cuisine, was believed to have had diabetes and heart disease.
The news came as North Korea prepared for a hereditary succession. Kim Jong Il inherited power after his father, revered North Korean founder Kim Il Sung, died in 1994.
In September 2010, Kim Jong Il unveiled his third son, the twenty-something Kim Jong Un, as his successor, putting him in high-ranking posts.
Re: Stuff & Nonsense
« Reply #5764 on: Dec 19th, 2011, 09:08am »
Merry Christmas Mur!
Uploaded by BillabongXXL on Oct 6, 2011
California's Nathan Fletcher goes for it, pulling in and blowing minds on one of the most massive liquid caverns in the history of surfing at Teahupoo, Tahiti. Angle Two, shot by Mike Jones. For more event details see www.BillabongXXL.com
Re: Stuff & Nonsense
« Reply #5765 on: Dec 19th, 2011, 09:11am »
New York Times
December 18, 2011 Pakistani Crisis Prompts Leader to Race Home By ERIC SCHMITT and SALMAN MASOOD
ISLAMABAD, Pakistan — A tense showdown between Pakistan’s powerful army and its besieged civilian government brought President Asif Ali Zardari hurrying back from Dubai early on Monday, after weeks of growing concerns by his supporters that the military has been moving to strengthen its role in the country’s governance.
Pushed by the army, a Pakistani Supreme Court hearing set to begin on Monday will investigate whether Mr. Zardari’s government was behind an unsigned memorandum that surfaced in October, purportedly asking the Obama administration’s help to curb the military’s influence and avert a possible coup in the wake of the American raid that killed Osama bin Laden in May.
The case has brought tensions between Pakistan’s military and its civilian leaders to perhaps its highest pitch since Mr. Zardari was elected three years ago. And it may also complicate America’s efforts to bring its relationship with Pakistan out of crisis after the Bin Laden raid and American airstrikes last month that killed 26 on the Pakistani side of the border with Afghanistan. That roiling period of dispute has also strengthened the military’s hand in the country’s affairs.
“The military and civilian leadership are on a collision course,” said Talat Masood, a political analyst and retired lieutenant general.
Soon after the memo became public, the army demanded that the government investigate allegations that the memo was orchestrated by Husain Haqqani, then Pakistan’s ambassador to the United States and a close aide to Mr. Zardari — a charge Mr. Haqqani denied as he was recalled from his post. Opposition lawmakers quickly joined the chorus calling for action, and message records appearing to implicate the ambassador were leaked to the news media.
The civilian government denies having anything to do with the memo and warned that Parliament, the media, the civil society and the international community would not tolerate a military dictatorship in Pakistan. But in a filing to the Supreme Court last week, Gen. Ashfaq Parvez Kayani, the Pakistani Army chief, asked the court to investigate the controversial memo and its origins fully, saying it “unsuccessfully attempted to lower the morale of the Pakistan Army.”
Adding to the political drama has been the absence of Mr. Zardari, 56, who unexpectedly left the country on Dec. 6 for medical treatment and was recuperating at his home in Dubai from what his doctor called strokelike symptoms. Associates of Mr. Zardari’s said he returned to Karachi to confront the allegations and possible efforts to deem him physically or mentally unfit to keep his job. Some Pakistani analysts also questioned whether civilian officials had secretly cut a deal to concede to the military broader influence over the nation’s affairs beyond foreign and national security policy.
Beginning Monday, the Supreme Court will hear arguments from lawyers from all sides and could decide to dismiss the matter if it finds no merit. More likely, however, is that the court will appoint a special commission to investigate what the news media here have dubbed Memogate, a process that could last weeks or months, inflicting more political pain on Mr. Zardari.
The Pakistani military’s frayed relationship with the United States may also be contributing to the shift between the military and the civilian government here, giving the generals a freer hand to expand their role in running Pakistan’s affairs beyond foreign and national security policy, even if from behind the scenes.
“The military sees the NATO airstrike as an opportunity to effect a comeback from the loss of face from the Bin Laden raid,” said Ali Dayan Hasan, Pakistan director for Human Rights Watch in Lahore. “But they’re also tapping into genuine public anger and resentment against the Americans, and that’s shrinking the space the Zardari government has to operate in and expanding the influence the military already has.”
The conflicting positions before the Supreme Court have laid bare deep civilian-military tensions that have stewed since Mr. Zardari took office in September 2008, an accidental ascent for a man known more as a wheeler-dealer than a leader. After the assassination of his wife, Benazir Bhutto, in December 2007, the Bush administration threw its reluctant support behind Mr. Zardari and his pledge to be a willing partner in combating terrorism.
It was not long before Mr. Zardari was on the outs with the military, as revealed in diplomatic cables made public last year by WikiLeaks, the antisecrecy organization.
Mr. Zardari, who spent 11 years in prison on ultimately unproved corruption charges, feared for his position and possibly his life. In one cable, Vice President Joseph R. Biden Jr. told Prime Minister Gordon Brown of Britain in March 2009 that Mr. Zardari had told him that the “ISI director and Kayani will take me out.” The ISI is the Inter-Services Intelligence directorate, the country’s powerful spy agency.
Mr. Zardari’s suspicions were not groundless. In another cable, General Kayani told the United States ambassador at the time, Anne W. Patterson, that he “might, however reluctantly,” pressure Mr. Zardari to resign and presumably leave Pakistan.
Over its 64-year history Pakistan has had several army coups and meddling by the military behind the scenes to engineer pliant governments, often with the support of the judiciary.
But most Pakistani analysts and Western diplomats said in the past week that a military coup now was unlikely. The generals, frustrated as they are with what they view as a corrupt, incompetent civilian administration, have no appetite for taking over the country at a time of a plunging economy, severe energy shortages and rising extremism, these officials said. After an unusual three-hour meeting here on Friday night with General Kayani, Pakistan’s prime minister, Yousaf Raza Gilani, dismissed reports of a standoff with the generals. But analysts and some government officials said that the split between the military and the civilian government was likely to widen in the coming days.
“Two different positions are taken by the army and the civilian government,” said one government official, who was not authorized to speak publicly about the dispute. “Both can’t be right or wrong at the same time. The confrontation is now at a very acute level.”
The dispute has caused a media frenzy. On Friday, Express, a popular Urdu daily newspaper, led its Web site with an article whose headline blazed: “Army and Government Face to Face.”
The military has already managed to oust Mr. Haqqani, who was forced to resign as ambassador on Nov. 22 after accusations by a Pakistani-American businessman, Mansoor Ijaz, that Mr. Haqqani had masterminded the memo, a charge that he stoutly denies. Adm. Mike Mullen, then chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, has acknowledged receiving the memo but said he ignored it as not credible.
The Pakistani newspaper Dawn said Friday in an editorial: “Mr. Zardari needs to return to Pakistan to try and calm nerves and quell speculation that refuses to die down. Like it or not, the reality of Pakistan is that threats to the democratic process do lurk in the shadows.”
Some Pakistani and Western officials said last week that if Mr. Zardari returned, it could be only for a cameo appearance before Dec. 27, the fourth anniversary of the death of Ms. Bhutto, the two-time former prime minister, in a gun and bomb attack in the city of Rawalpindi, near Islamabad.
After that, Mr. Zardari would probably leave for a long — perhaps permanent — convalescence in London or Dubai, the officials said. By early Monday, neither Mr. Zardari nor his aides had signaled how long he would stay.
“The president is, thankfully, fit and healthy, and that is why he has returned,” Shazia Marri, information minister for Sindh Province, of which Karachi is the capital, told Reuters. “However, his activities over the next few days will depend on what the doctors advise.”
Re: Stuff & Nonsense
« Reply #5766 on: Dec 19th, 2011, 09:18am »
Kittehs, Chatbots, Kim Jong-Il: The Best Viral Videos of 2011 By Angela Watercutter December 19, 2011 | 6:30 am Categories: internet, video
They come out of nowhere. They're typically bizarre. They more often than not include cats. And every year, we gather around them like the first campfire that ever was.
We're talking, of course, about viral videos.
Really, they're hard not to love. They're quick bursts of audiovisual joy that brighten our days just when we need them to. In essence, they are magic — internet magic.
Wired.com asked the fine folks at I Can Has Cheezburger? to help us compile a list of the best/funniest/goofiest viral videos of 2011. CEO/big cheese Ben Huh had something to say about all of them, too. (In true internet-geek fashion, all but one of his comments came in under 140 characters.)
So, without further ado, may we present the Best Viral Videos of 2011.
'Cat mom hugs baby kitten'
The title pretty much says it all. A kitten has a nightmare and starts shaking. Mama cat consoles the wee one in a very sweet, very sleepy hug.
Re: Stuff & Nonsense
« Reply #5767 on: Dec 19th, 2011, 09:25am »
N.M. Centennial Radio Spots To Air By The Associated Press Mon, Dec 19, 2011 at 8:19 am
The New Mexico Centennial Steering Committee is preparing to a release a series of radio programs about many of the colorful characters, places and stories that have shaped New Mexico’s history.
Called Centennial Journeys, the weekly segment honoring the state’s 100th birthday will be uploaded for broadcast by participating radio stations beginning Jan. 2, 2012. The series will feature famous figures like Gen. Stephen Watts Kearny, Elfego Baca, Gov. Charles Bent, Albert Fall and Pat Garrett, as well as lesser-known characters.
The series also profiles New Mexico communities and events such as Pancho Villa’s raid on Columbus and Reyes Tijerina’s raid on the Tierra Amarilla. UFO’s and tales of lost gold mines also get attention.
Centennial Journeys are being produced by the Centennial Steering Committee with assistance from the Office of the State Historian and New Mexico Arts, a division of the New Mexico Department of Cultural Affairs.
Re: Stuff & Nonsense
« Reply #5769 on: Dec 19th, 2011, 2:46pm »
Geologists Find Source of Stonehenge’s Inner Stones By Wired UK December 19, 2011 | 10:15 am Categories: Earth Science
By Mark Brown, Wired UK
A team of geologists from Britain have pinpointed the exact quarry that Stonehenge’s innermost circle of rocks came from. It’s the first time that a precise source has been found for any of the stones at the prehistoric monument.
Robert Ixer of the University of Leicester and Richard Bevins of the National Museum of Wales painstakingly identified samples from various rock outcrops in Pembrokeshire, Wales.
For nine months the pair used petrography — the study of mineral content and textural relationships within rocks — to find the origins of Stonehenge’s rhyolite debitage stones. These spotted dolerites or bluestones form the inner circle and inner horseshoe of the site.
They found the culprit on a 65-metre-long outcropping called Craig Rhos-y-Felin, near Pont Saeson in north Pembrokeshire. It lies approximately 160 miles from the Stonehenge site.
The question remains though, as to how neolithic people transported huge chunks of rock from Wales to Wiltshire, some 5,000 years ago. Some historians reckon that these stone age builders quarried the stones in Pembrokeshire and brought them over to England, while others argue that giant glacial shifts moved the stones, hundreds of thousands of years earlier.
Ixer and Bevins hope that by finding the exact source for some of the monument’s stones, they will be able to discover new clues as to when and how they made their 160 mile journey.
The more well-known and iconic stones, the huge sarsens, were incorporated into the monument several centuries later. They came from somewhere in the Marlborough Downs, 20 miles north of Stonehenge.
Re: Stuff & Nonsense
« Reply #5770 on: Dec 19th, 2011, 6:17pm »
Dead Horse Theory:
The tribal wisdom of the Dakota Indians, passed on from generation to generation, says that "When you discover that you are riding a dead horse, the best strategy is to dismount."
However, in government, more advanced strategies are often employed, such as:
1. Buying a stronger whip.
2. Changing riders.
3. Appointing a committee to study the horse.
4. Arranging to visit other countries to see how other cultures ride dead horses.
5. Lowering the standards so that dead horses can be included.
6. Reclassifying the dead horse as living-impaired.
7. Hiring outside contractors to ride the dead horse.
8. Harnessing several dead horses together to increase speed.
9. Providing additional funding and/or training to increase the dead horse's performance.
10. Doing a productivity study to see if lighter riders would improve the dead horse's performance.
11. Declaring that as the dead horse does not have to be fed, it is less costly, carries lower overhead and therefore contributes substantially more to the bottom line of the economy than do some other horses.
12. Rewriting the expected performance requirements for all horses.
And, of course.....
13. Promoting the dead horse to a supervisory position.
Re: Stuff & Nonsense
« Reply #5772 on: Dec 20th, 2011, 08:53am »
New York Times
December 20, 2011 Iran Admits Western Sanctions Are Inflicting Damage By RICK GLADSTONE
Iran’s veneer of stoicism toward the Western sanctions that have disrupted its economy showed some new strains on Monday, as the deputy oil minister acknowledged a decline in domestic petroleum production because of dwindling foreign investment, and four-year-old talks between the Iranians and Poland’s biggest natural gas developer collapsed.
The Iranians also suffered an embarrassment after prematurely announcing that a Russian oil company had committed $1 billion to help revive a dormant oil field in Iran’s southwest. Hours later, the Russian company, Tatneft, denied on its Web site that a deal had been signed. And there were signals that Saudi Arabia, which Iran had confidently predicted last week would not increase oil production to compensate for any Iranian shortfall caused by the sanctions, was becoming increasingly irritated with Iran.
Together, the developments portrayed Iran, with the world’s fourth-largest oil reserves and second-largest natural gas reserves, as struggling more than it had admitted from the effects of the Western sanctions, despite its official denunciations of them as desperate measures doomed to fail or backfire.
The sanctions, imposed to pressure Iran into ending its suspect nuclear program, were strengthened last month, with the possibility of more onerous restrictions on Iran’s central bank and oil industry looming from the United States and the European Union. Under a measure that is likely to be signed into law by President Obama, foreign entities that do business with Iran’s central bank, the conduit for Iran’s oil revenue, could face severe penalties if they do business in the United States.
Iran’s deputy oil minister, Ahmad Qalebani, appeared to have made an unusual disclosure about the effects of sanctions in an article reported by the official Iranian Students’ News Agency, which quoted him as saying Iran’s crude oil production in 2011 had declined from the year before. He said the decline was “due to lack of investment in oil field development.”
Iran produced about 4 million barrels a day of oil in 2010 and is producing about 3.5 million barrels this year.
Mr. Qalebani’s disclosure followed recent warnings by other Iranian officials that the effects of sanctions had become more acute. The foreign minister, Ali Akbar Salehi, was quoted by the official Islamic Republic News Agency as saying, “We cannot pretend the sanctions are not having an effect.” The governor of Iran’s central bank, Mahmoud Bahmani, told reporters in Iran last week that the country must act as if it were “under siege,” Agence France-Presse reported.
The collapsed talks on a deal with Polskie Gornictwo Naftowe i Gazownictwo, a leading developer and distributor of natural gas, involved the Lavan natural gas field in the Persian Gulf, one of Iran’s largest deposits. Iran’s semiofficial Mehr News Agency said the Polish company would be replaced by a consortium of Iranian companies. It was unclear precisely why the talks failed, but the withdrawal of the Polish company clearly reflected the new pressures on foreign companies not to engage in commitments with Iran.
Even Russia, which has strongly opposed the Western sanctions against Iran, appeared to be backtracking on a deal after Iranian news agencies said Tatneft had signed a $1 billion agreement to develop the Zagheh field in southern Iran. The company said in a statement that it had “not entered into any agreements, contracts” and had “not accepted any other undertakings relating to oil and gas projects in Iran.”
Additional pressure aimed at Iran came from Saudi Arabia, Iran’s wary neighbor and oil-producing rival. Saudi Arabia’s King Abdullah, in remarks clearly aimed at Iran, told a meeting of the Gulf Cooperation Council, a six-member group of Arab oil producers, “No doubt you all know that we are targeted in our safety and security.”
Re: Stuff & Nonsense
« Reply #5774 on: Dec 20th, 2011, 12:12pm »
Secret Santa Pays for Holiday Bills By Jaclyn Asztalos WKBW-TV
Jamestown, N.Y. (WKBW) - An average layaway balance at Kmart is anywhere from $50 to $150. Now shoppers are getting those bills paid for without even taking out their wallet.
A random and anonymous group of people is going to Kmarts and Wal-marts paying off shopping balances. In the Southern Tier, some people got their balance paid while others received gift cards toward their purchase.
Last Thursday, a person paid a $100 balance at a Jamestown Wal-mart. On Friday, another anonymous person paid all but one dollar of someone's bill. They then left a holiday note for that shopper.
According to the Associated Press, good samaritan have anonymously paid off Kmart layaway accounts in Nebraska, Michigan, Iowa, Indiana and Montana. There are reports of Wal-Mart shoppers getting a secret treat in Missouri, Illinois, California and New York.
Employees in Jamestown could not confirm if the same person made the donations but they do say that the generosity is growing and more people are joining in this effort.