Re: Stuff & Nonsense
« Reply #5775 on: Dec 20th, 2011, 12:15pm »
North Korea the 9th Nation in the World with Nuclear Weapons? Russian and U.S. nuclear arsenals dwarf the rest
By Mark Fischetti Tuesday, December 20, 2011
The death of North Korean leader Kim Jong-il has riveted international attention on the threat of nuclear weapons. Kim was widely reported to have been pursuing nuclear warheads and ballistic missiles to deliver them, and he presided over a pair of nuclear bomb blast tests (confirmed by seismograph). No one outside North Korea knows whether the secretive, totalitarian nation possesses an actual warhead. And no one is quite sure where Kim's youngest son and presumed successor Kim Jong-un stands on the goal of assembling a competitive nuclear arsenal.
It could only take one nuclear device and one maniacal leader to wreak global havoc, but the U.S. and seven other nations worldwide have many nuclear warheads in their arsenals. The latest tally (pdf), made at the end of 2009 by Robert S. Norris and Hans M. Kristensen at the Natural Resources Defense Council in Washington, D.C., is below. Stockpiles in Russia and the U.S. dwarf those of other countries.
Russia—13,000 nuclear warheads U.S.—9,400 France—300 China—240 U.K.—180 Israel—80 to 100 Pakistan—70 to 90 India—60 to 80 North Korea—unknown
Norris and Kristensen estimate that 4,850 of Russia's warheads are operational; the rest are retired or waiting to be dismantled under arms reduction treaties. About 5,200 of the U.S. warheads are considered operational. In their report, Norris and Kristensen noted that "we are not aware of credible information on how North Korea has weaponized its nuclear weapons capability." They add that U.S. Air Force intelligence did not indicate that any of the country's ballistic missiles were capable of carrying a nuclear warhead at that time.
The journals Science and Nature said Tuesday they were mulling whether to publish details of a man-made mutant killer flu virus that has sparked concerns of mass deaths if it were released.
A US government's science advisory committee urged that key details be withheld so that people seeking to do harm to the public would not be able to replicate the virus which could cause millions of deaths.
The National Science Advisory Board for Biosecurity (NSABB) reviewed two scientific papers relating to the findings and recommended that the journals considering them "make changes in the manuscripts," a statement said.
"Due to the importance of the findings to the public health and research communities, the NSABB recommended that the general conclusions highlighting the novel outcome be published, but that the manuscripts not include the methodological and other details that could enable replication of the experiments by those who would seek to do harm."
The virus in question is an H5N1 avian influenza strain that was genetically altered in a Dutch lab so it can pass easily between ferrets.
That means it is likely contagious among humans for the first time, and could trigger a lethal pandemic if it emerged in nature or were set loose by terrorists, experts have said.
The H5N1 strain of bird flu is fatal in 60 percent of human cases but only 350 people have so far died from the disease largely because it cannot, yet, be transmitted between humans.
Editors from the journals Science and Nature said they were considering the US government's request.
"Editors at the journal Science are taking very seriously a request by the NSABB to publish only an abbreviated version of a research report related to a strain of H5N1 avian influenza virus," Science editor-in-chief Bruce Alberts said in a statement.
"At the same time, however, Science has concerns about withholding potentially important public health information from responsible influenza researchers."
Scientists could benefit from knowing about the virus because it could help speed new treatments to combat this and other related lethal forms of influenza, Alberts added.
"Many scientists within the influenza community have a bona fide need to know the details of this research in order to protect the public, especially if they currently are working with related strains of the virus," he wrote.
"Science editors will be evaluating how best to proceed," he added, asking for more clarification on how the government would make the information available to "all those responsible scientists who request it."
Nature's editor-in-chief, Philip Campbell, said he was considering one of the two papers for publication and was in "active consultation" with the authors.
"We have noted the unprecedented NSABB recommendations that would restrict public access to data and methods and recognize the motivation behind them," he said in a statement.
"It is essential for public health that the full details of any scientific analysis of flu viruses be available to researchers. We are discussing with interested parties how, within the scenario recommended by NSABB, appropriate access to the scientific methods and data could be enabled."
The Dutch research team was led by Ron Fouchier at Rotterdam's Erasmus Medical Center. The team said in September it had created a mutant version of the H5N1 bird flu virus that could for the first time be spread among mammals.
Fouchier said in a statement his team had discovered that transmission of the virus was possible between humans "and can be carried out more easily than we thought."
NSABB chair Paul Keim, a microbial geneticist, told Science magazine's Science Insider report last month that he had huge concerns about the potential havoc the man-made virus could unleash.
"I can't think of another pathogenic organism that is as scary as this one," Keim was quoted as saying. "I don't think anthrax is scary at all compared to this."
Re: Stuff & Nonsense
« Reply #5777 on: Dec 21st, 2011, 10:16am »
Hooray!!! I've been waiting for this film for a long time!!! "The Hobbit" was always my favorite of the series.
Uploaded by FilasBrothers on Dec 20, 2011
This is the official trailer for The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey. We have simply re-uploaded this trailer. All rights belong to their respective owners. Enjoy! Like, comment, subscribe. Thanks for watching.
Re: Stuff & Nonsense
« Reply #5778 on: Dec 21st, 2011, 10:36am »
University of Delaware
Levia awarded fellowship to conduct research on insect-forest interactions
Dec. 19, 2011--On the underside of a beech leaf, there may be small, white clumps that look like cotton candy. Upon closer look, these sticky fibers encase wriggling insects harming the tree’s health – and potentially the surrounding ecosystem.
The University of Delaware’s Delphis F. Levia, associate professor in the Department of Geography with a secondary appointment in plant and soil sciences, recently received a Humboldt Research Fellowship to examine the effects of these tree-damaging insects on forests and the water that flows through them.
“Whether insects, droughts, hurricanes or climate change, all of these things cause stress on our forests,” Levia said. “Our aim is to better understand how pest infestations affect the rainfall that passes through foliage, down tree trunks and into the watershed.”
Given by the German Alexander von Humboldt Foundation to experienced researchers demonstrating excellence in their fields, the prestigious fellowship will enable Levia to spend eight months in Jena, Germany, studying the impact of woolly beech aphids on deciduous woodlands.
Awardees work in cooperation with academic hosts at German research organizations. Levia is partnering with Beate Michalzik of the Friedrich Schiller University, a world-renowned expert on insect infestations.
Their collaboration is an offshoot of a major project Levia completed earlier this year: editing a comprehensive book on forest hydrology and biogeochemistry, or the study of how biological, geological and chemical systems interact in the environment. Michalzik contributed a chapter about insect tree stressors, and their conversations on the topic planted the seeds for this new research.
Their pilot study will help explain how forests react to insect attacks. Woolly beech aphids, which cover themselves in white filaments to ward off predators, feed on tree sap and generate a sugary waste called “honeydew.”
As the aphids munch on leaves, honeydew and other waste products containing carbon and nitrogen get washed to the ground during periods of rain and melting snow. This dissolved material can compromise water quality, and the diminished tree foliage reduces the forest’s productivity in carbon cycling.
Levia suspects that the greater the insect infestation, the more “hot spots,” or areas of intense biogeochemical reactivity, develop beneath the canopy.
Levia will be on sabbatical leave in Germany from January into August 2012 to conduct the study. If data collected yields notable results, Levia plans to expand the study’s scope stateside: The woolly beech aphid is indigenous to both Europe and the eastern United States, including Delaware.
For more about UD’s College of Earth, Ocean, and Environment, in which the Department of Geography is housed, visit the website.
Re: Stuff & Nonsense
« Reply #5779 on: Dec 21st, 2011, 10:39am »
Wired Danger Room
U.S. Holds On to Biometrics Database of 3 Million Iraqis By Spencer Ackerman December 21, 2011 | 6:30 am Categories: Info War, Iraq
The troops have come home, the flag has been been lowered, and the Iraq War is officially in the past for the U.S. military. But the military is holding on to a major souvenir of the war: a massive database packed with retinal scans, thumb prints and other biometric data identifying millions of Iraqis. It will be a tool for counterterrorism long after the Iraq War becomes a fading memory.
U.S. Central Command, the military command responsible for troops in the Mideast and South Asia, confirms to Danger Room that the biometrics database, compiled by U.S. troops over the course of years, will remain U.S. property. “Centcom has the database,” says the command’s chief spokesman, Army Maj. T.G. Taylor, who says it contains files on three million Iraqis. The U.S.-sponsored Iraqi government, in other words, doesn’t control a host of incredibly specific information on its citizens.
For much of the war, U.S. troops carrying viewfinder-like scanning devices kept digital records of the Iraqis they encountered. Some Iraqis got their unique identifiers recorded because they were suspected insurgents on their way to detention centers. Residents of violent cities like Fallujah would only get to return home from travel if they showed U.S. troops an ID card complete with biometric data. Iraqis underwent iris scans when they wanted to join the police. So did Iraqis who worked on U.S. bases.
It was all part of an effort to answer the war’s most vexing challenge: distinguishing insurgents from Iraqi civilians. And that effort isn’t going away, even after the war technically ended. It’ll be part of U.S. counterterrorism missions for a long time to come.
“Certainly, if someone was in another country or another place and showed up somewhere, we’d compare information to see if it’s someone we had info on,” Taylor explains. For instance, “if they show up in Afghanistan, we collect biometric data [on the individual, maybe] we don’t see them there. But we run it through this database and we see them show up.”
The digital database is the property of Central Command’s intelligence shop in Tampa, Florida. It is conspicuously not in the control of the Iraqi government. Taylor says that the Iraqis might be able to access the database’s contents if they go “through the [U.S.] embassy” in Baghdad.
“Common sense-wise, we still have an interest there in helping our Iraqi partners,” Taylor explains, “and that information might be helpful to them should there be any issues.”
Taylor doesn’t say why the U.S. didn’t hand over its biometrics toy to the Iraqis. But there’s an obvious reason: Iraq’s sectarian divides have not healed. And a database filled with uber-specific information about approximately 10 percent of Iraq’s population could represent a wish list for a death squad, militia or insurgent group — some of which are aligned with Iraqi political parties.
It’s not an idle fear. The day after the U.S. departed, a court beholden to Iraq’s (Shiite) prime minister issued an arrest warrant for the (Sunni) vice president on terrorism charges. “Three of my brothers have been killed because of my participation in building a new Iraq, regardless of all I have done,” the incredulous VP, Tarek al-Hashemi, told Eli Lake of Newsweek. Hashemi, who is Iraq’s highest ranking Sunni, blamed the U.S. for leaving Iraq in Maliki’s hands.
Iraqis aren’t the only ones to wind up in huge U.S. biometrics databases. Afghans, too, have been scanned by the millions. As far back as 2005, detainee biometric data from both Iraqis and Afghans turned up in an obscure Pentagon anti-terrorism database called the Department of Defense DNA Registry. Documents released by WikiLeaks suggest that the U.S. even seeks to collect bio-data on foreign leaders.
Now that Central Command is keeping the Iraqi database, it’s clear that the military isn’t going to get rid of its troves of super-specific data once the wars end. Nor will it trust its nominal local allies to maintain them. (Some in the military have complained to Danger Room in the past that the Iraqi soldiers and cops they train aren’t great at taking eye scans and thumb prints from detainees.) It’s an intelligence tool, Taylor says, not a broad targeting list.
“We have this information, and rather than cull through it all and say ‘bad guy, good guy, bad guy, good guy, it’s better to just keep it, because that would be very time consuming,” Taylor says. “Biometric data was collected on people who worked on the bases. You’re a good guy; you worked here. It’s not like we’re collecting [data] on an enemy.”
Re: Stuff & Nonsense
« Reply #5780 on: Dec 21st, 2011, 10:42am »
Choose-and-cut Christmas tree farms are rooted in simpler times
The nostalgic appeal of sawing a tree in the woods lives on, but modern economic pressures are taking a toll on growers.
By Mike Anton, Los Angeles Times December 21, 2011
Reporting from Los Gatos, Calif. -- Behold the typical Christmas tree: A faux fir fashioned from metal and plastic with that special dragged-from-the-attic scent. Or maybe it's bound like a hostage and plucked from a pile in a parking lot, a soulless commodity masquerading as tradition.
As an alternative, drive the switchbacks of California Highway 17 through the Santa Cruz Mountains a few minutes west of San Jose, pull off and ascend twisty roads into a canopy of oaks, redwoods and evergreens so thick you'll need to flip on the lights. Follow crudely painted signs pointing in all directions to places like Mountain Charlie Ranch, Raccoon Gulch, Patchen and Frosty's.
There you'll pay fifty bucks, be handed a saw and left to wander the silent forest in search of your perfect pine, spruce or fir.
For more than half a century, this rural refuge a world away from the bustle of nearby Silicon Valley has been home to dozens of "choose-and-cut" Christmas tree farms, mom-and-pop operations where the air is sweet with evergreen and a timeless ritual eschews modern commercialization.
"The perfect Christmas tree is something that exists in somebody's imagination," said Robbie Criswell, 67, who has run Black Road Christmas Tree Farms on his family's land since 1966. "It's one of those psychological things you don't want to mess with. If they get the tree that's in their head — and they go away happy — that's as good as it gets."
If only it were that simple.
A century ago, most people obtained their Christmas trees with an ax in the woods.
Today, Christmas trees are big business, but wrenching changes have reshaped the $1.5-billion-a-year industry in ways that sound familiar.
Some 27 million real trees were sold nationwide last year, down from 37 million two decades ago as artificial trees, mostly from China, have gained popularity with people who prefer their holiday ornaments non-biodegradable.
The domestic live-tree industry has declined sharply in the vast majority of states, including California. Oregon wields the big stick on the West Coast, shipping truckloads of trees to California retailers along Interstate 5 the way lumber barons once floated old-growth timber downriver to the mill.
Nowhere is California's decline more apparent than in the Santa Cruz Mountains on the San Francisco Peninsula, where a tradition that took root in the Eisenhower administration is drying up. Some 64,000 Christmas trees were harvested in Santa Clara County in 1994; last year, it was about 10,000.
"Most of the farms are going out of business, but they don't know it yet," said Jim Beck, 70, a high-tech entrepreneur who owns Patchen California Christmas Tree Farms on the site of a 19th century ghost town.
When Beck arrived here to build a country home and hobby farm 42 years ago, the choose-and-cut business was thriving. Hundreds of acres of mountain tree farms enticed nostalgic city dwellers, many of whom could remember when Silicon Valley was carpeted with fruit orchards and known as the Valley of Heart's Delight.
In addition to competition from China and chain stores, the Bay Area's tree farms have been squeezed by soaring land prices.
It's a familiar story: Old-timers died. Land that had been in families for generations was sold and subdivided. Homes sprang up in the redwoods and sprawling estates landed on ridgelines like alien spacecraft.
Criswell, a former high school science teacher whose stocky build, gnarled hands and rangy white beard give him the look of a lumberjack, sees the choose-and-cut business fading away.
"That phony baloney winery with the big trophy house?" Criswell said of a property near his farm. "That used to be Christmas trees.... This business does not pass easily from one generation to another. You have to have it in your blood."
The perfectly shaped Christmas tree is a time- and energy-intensive crop. A seedling takes five to 10 years to grow into a mature tree. Each summer, trees must be trimmed by hand to achieve the desired conical symmetry. Bug infestations and drought can kill off years of hard work.
Growers begin selling the day after Thanksgiving and have less than four weeks to make a profit. Weekends are frenzied, with cars backed up on winding mountain roads, leaving with trophies lashed to their roofs like deer in hunting season.
Jerry and Joan Jordan have been coming up from the valley for 40 holiday seasons. When their children were small, they'd spend hours judging the aesthetics of trees as a couturier would fashion models.
The couple pulled into Criswell's place one recent afternoon and drove away in less than 30 minutes with this year's fell in the bed of their pickup.
"We eventually came to the realization that there is no one perfect tree," said Joan, 78. "So you put the imperfect side against the wall."
"If you hang enough stuff on it, nobody can tell the difference anyway," said Jerry, 80.
It's hard to say how much money is made here selling trees and memories. For most it is a hobby, a sideline or a dutiful inheritance.
For Greg Lahann it was serendipity.
Lahann, 52, is a Silicon Valley venture capitalist turned gentleman farmer, the kind of wealthy guy one might expect to run a boutique vineyard. At least that was the plan in 2004 when he and his wife, Maureen Monahan, bought a swath of mountain land and built a custom home.
"I didn't really plan on running a Christmas tree farm," he said.
Four Winds Christmas Trees came with the property, some 30,000 trees on 40 pastoral acres of hills and gullies.
"Our neighbors convinced us to keep it open," Lahann said. "They said so many people had been coming up here for so many years it would be a shame to shut it down."
If there were any doubts that Four Winds would be missed if it closed, they were put to rest that first year when Lahann met Jack and Melody, a couple in their 70s who came bearing a gift basket.
Fifty years ago, the couple said, they traveled to this farm for the first time. On the freeway home, their perfect tree flew off the roof of their vehicle. The couple drove back up into the mountains to get another. Upon hearing their story, the owner told Jack and Melody to take one free.
"The next year, they brought a gift basket," Lahann said. "And they've been doing that every year since."
Eight years into this Christmas tree business, Lahann is hooked. He built a large, shaded picnic area for customers. He spends busy weekends emptying garbage cans, restocking portable toilets with toilet paper and helping customers tie trees to their cars. Lahann's mom and dad run a snack bar.
"In the venture capital business, let's just say there's more than your proportional share of challenging personalities," Lahann said.
And the Christmas tree business? "You learn that people are not as bad as you think," Lahann said.
Re: Stuff & Nonsense
« Reply #5782 on: Dec 21st, 2011, 1:43pm »
Uploaded by GuinnessWorldRecords on Dec 21, 2011
The longest duration to maintain a human flag is 1 min 5.71 seconds and was achieved by Wang Zhonghua (China) on the set of CCTV Guinness World Records Special in Beijing, China, on 15 August 2011. Wang Zhonghua broke his own record on the show.
This video is part of our video of the week series - each Wednesday we bring you one of the most interesting and exciting record-breaking videos from our archives! See the full series here: http://bit.ly/GWRvidoftheweek
Re: Stuff & Nonsense
« Reply #5783 on: Dec 21st, 2011, 1:51pm »
Uploaded by EriGIA007 on Dec 20, 2011
Ovni sur la lune, réfracteur Clark à l'observatoire Lowell, L'octobre 2011 C'est Percival Lowell 24 "lunette astronomique à l'observatoire Lowell à Flagstaff, en Arizona. Il a été construit à Cambridge, Massachusetts en 1895 à 6 par Alvan Clark & Sons, d'où le nom de télescope. Elle est de 32 pieds de long et dont la jetée , monter et contrepoids, pèse plus de 13 tonnes. Aujourd'hui, il n'est plus utilisé pour la recherche mais aussi pour l'enseignement public. Je me sens assez privilégié pour être en mesure d'utiliser ce télescope sur une base quotidienne. Il ya beaucoup de fun et montre vraiment les gens ce que l'astronomie d'observation était comme il ya 100 ans! ------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------- This is Percival Lowell's 24" refracting telescope at the Lowell Observatory in Flagstaff, AZ. It was built in Cambridge, Mass. in 1895-6 by Alvan Clark & Sons, hence the telescope's name. It is 32 feet long and, including the pier, mount, and counterweight, weighs over 13 tons. Today, it is no longer used for research but for public education. I feel pretty privileged to be able to use this telescope on a nightly basis. It is a lot of fun and really shows folks what observational astronomy was like 100 years ago!
Re: Stuff & Nonsense
« Reply #5788 on: Dec 22nd, 2011, 1:18pm »
While I'm waiting...
New York Times
December 22, 2011 U.S. Concedes Error, but Says Pakistan Fired First at Border By MATTHEW ROSENBERG
KABUL, Afghanistan — Mistakes by both American and Pakistani forces led to airstrikes against Pakistani posts on the Afghanistan border that killed 26 Pakistani Army soldiers last month, according to a Pentagon investigation that for the first time acknowledged some American responsibility for the clash, which plunged the already frayed relationship between the United States and Pakistan to a new low. But a crucial finding — that the Pakistanis fired first — was likely to further anger Pakistan.
American officials said Thursday that the investigation, which has not yet been released, had concluded the airstrikes were an act of self-defense ultimately justified because Pakistani soldiers opened fire on a joint team of Afghan and American special operations forces operating along the often poorly demarcated frontier between Afghanistan and Pakistan.
“U.S. forces, given what information they had available to them at the time, acted in self-defense and with appropriate force after being fired upon,” the Department of Defense said in a statement Thursday. The American investigator “also found that there was no intentional effort to target persons or places known to be part of the Pakistani military.”
Pakistan has insisted its forces did nothing wrong, and that they certainly did not fire the first shots. Rather, senior Pakistani military and civilian officials have openly accused the United States of knowingly striking the border posts. Officials in Pakistan have said they will accept nothing short of a complete apology from President Obama.
The Defense Department statement did include an apology, though it did not appear to go as far as Pakistani officials have demanded. “For the loss of life — and for the lack of proper coordination between U.S. and Pakistani forces that contributed to those losses — we express our deepest regret,” it said. “We further express sincere condolences to the Pakistani people, to the Pakistani government, and most importantly to the families of the Pakistani soldiers who were killed or wounded.”
American officials had not planned to release any results of the investigation by the United States Central Command this week and were still redacting parts of the report and determining what details could be publicized and what should remain classified, said a Western official in Kabul who asked not to be identified because the full report remains classified. But with word spreading in Washington about the report’s main findings, the Defense Department put out its statement early Thursday as American officials in Islamabad, Washington and Kabul scrambled to brief their Pakistani counterparts and try to limit the fallout before news of the findings became public.
“The message we’re trying to convey tonight is that there were some pretty serious breakdowns all around,” said an American official in the region on Thursday, a few hours before the statement was released. “How does Pakistan react? We hope we can start moving forward.”
Based on the Defense Department’s statement and the accounts of American and Western officials who have seen the results of the investigation, the report lays out Washington’s counternarrative to the Pakistani accusations that their forces were intentionally and repeatedly targeted over the course of two hours after midnight on Nov. 26. Some elements of the report confirm what Pakistani officials have been saying about the airstrikes, but others contradict the Pakistani account, said officials, all of whom spoke on condition of anonymity because the report has not been released.
The conclusion is that both sides erred. “Inadequate coordination by U.S. and Pakistani military officers operating through the border coordination center — including our reliance on incorrect mapping information shared with the Pakistani liaison officer — resulted in a misunderstanding about the true location of Pakistani military units,” the Defense Department statement said.
“This, coupled with other gaps in information about the activities and placement of units from both sides, contributed to the tragic result,” it said without detailing what actually took place in the small hours of Nov. 26.
But according to the American and Western officials familiar with the report, it says that the joint Afghan-American patrol, which was operating in a remote and mountainous area between the Afghan province of Kunar and the Pakistani tribal area of Mohmand, came under machine gun and mortar fire from at least one of the Pakistani border posts around midnight on Nov. 26. The American official said the Afghan and American special operations forces, about 150 of whom were on the mission, believed they were being attacked by militants, at least initially, and called for air support.
Why the Pakistanis were firing remains unclear, the American official said. But in the days after the airstrikes, another American official in Washington provided part of an explanation: the Pakistanis apparently had intelligence that Taliban militants were planning to attack the border posts and the Pakistani soldiers may have mistaken the Afghan and American troopers for them.
The United States military report lends credence to that theory: the officials said it finds that NATO did not inform Pakistan that the operation on the border was taking place, and thus the Pakistani soldiers would not have known to expect allied forces near their posts. NATO and Pakistani forces are supposed to inform each other about operations on the border precisely to avoid the kind of mistake that took place on Nov. 26.
The second American mistake came when the airstrikes were called in, according to the report. The Americans apparently gave the Pakistani Army the wrong coordinates that were to be struck by Apache attack helicopters and an AC-130 gunship, the officials said. One said the coordinates were off by nine miles.
It was not immediately clear whether the Pakistanis cleared the strikes after getting the wrong coordinates. They have said they did not; regardless, the strikes began before their officers based at NATO coordination posts in Afghanistan had a chance to check with superiors in Pakistan, according to the Pakistani account of what took place.
But, as the report shows, even if Pakistan did clear the strikes, the posts still probably would have been hit because the Pakistanis had been given the wrong coordinates.
Another safeguard also failed, according to the report: Pakistan never told NATO that it had established the border posts, which had been up for about three months, said a Western official in Kabul. Both sides are supposed to inform each other when setting up new positions along the border, another measure intended to avoid strikes against each other.
Twenty four Pakistani soldiers were killed in the strikes, and another two subsequently died of their wounds, Pakistani officials have said.
Whether any American service members will be disciplined in connection with the episode has not been decided, the American and Western officials said.
NATO’s Afghanistan headquarters and the American Embassy in Kabul declined to comment on the investigation, referring queries to the Defense Department and State Department in Washington. Pakistani officials did not offer any immediate reaction.
But given the indignant Pakistani response to the raid — “They killed our sons and we can never forgive this,” said one senior Pakistani defense official in a recent interview, speaking anonymously because he still works with Americans — Washington was bracing for another round of recrimination, said the American and Western officials.
A ban on the shipment of NATO supplies through Pakistan, put in place after the strike, is expected to remain for some time, the officials said. NATO officials have said the blockade is not affecting operations because less than 30 percent of supplies for NATO forces in Afghanistan are currently shipped through Pakistan.
More damaging is the faltering military and counterterrorism cooperation between Washington and Islamabad after a year of crises that began with the shooting of two Pakistanis by a Central Intelligence Agency contractor in the city of Lahore. The two sides no longer conduct joint operations along the border, which they had started doing a few years ago, and intelligence sharing on a range of threats from Al Qaeda to lesser known Islamist militant groups has also fallen off, the American and Western officials said.
The Defense Department statement tried to strike a more positive note. “Our focus now is to learn from these mistakes and take whatever corrective measures are required to ensure an incident like this is not repeated,” it said. “We cannot operate effectively on the border — or in other parts of our relationship — without addressing the fundamental trust still lacking between us. We earnestly hope the Pakistani military will join us in bridging that gap.”
Re: Stuff & Nonsense
« Reply #5789 on: Dec 22nd, 2011, 1:25pm »
Possible UFO in Kansas mystery solved
By Eric Pfeiffer Wed, Dec 21, 2011
Residents of Cowley County, Kansas caused a sensation last week when they captured video of the military towing a concealed object on a flatbed truck down US Highway 77. It wasn't long before a wave of speculation hit, claiming the object was a UFO.
Depending on the angle from which you spotted it, the 30 foot-wide mysterious craft appeared to be saucer-shaped. It was so large that local law enforcement had to remove roadside signage so it could pass through. But it was covered in a tightly concealed tarp, making any further examination impossible.
However, as Gizmodo points out, the craft does not technically meet the definition of UFO. For starters, even if it were an alien craft, the object was not flying. And more important, it's no longer unidentified.
Local sheriff Don Read announced that the tarp was in fact covering a flying object, but one of decidedly Earthly origins. More specifically, it was a drone aircraft manufactured by Northrop Grumman. After Read's disclosure, Northrop Grumman senior manager of public relations Brooks McKinney stepped forward to provide more details, telling Life's Little Mysteries that the "UFO" is a X-47B unmanned combat drone designed to operate from aircraft carriers. It was headed to the Naval Air Station Patuxent River, Maryland.
Drone technology, or Unmanned Systems (UMS) have become so commonplace, that Northrop Grumman has a section dedicated to them on its public website. There's even a page for the X-47B itself.
"Clearly people are interested in what's going through town. It's unusual to see a shrink-wrapped aircraft, especially one with that shape," McKinney said.
"We built two for the Navy, they were being tested at Edwards Air Force Base [in California] since March. One is on its way to Maryland, and the other will remain in California."
And the reason they weren't actually flying the high-tech aircraft was even simpler. "It's difficult to fly an unmanned drone through commercial airspace," McKinney said.
Finally, the question "What's the matter with Kansas?" can be answered: A painful lack of alien spaceships.