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 veryhotthread  Author  Topic: Stuff & Nonsense  (Read 127655 times)
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« Reply #5850 on: Dec 29th, 2011, 09:14am »

Independent

70 per cent more UFO's spotted over Ireland
By Lyndsey Telford
Thursday December 29 2011

THE number of unidentified flying objects (UFOs) spotted across Ireland has increased by nearly 70% in just three years.

The UFO Research Association of Ireland revealed that 59 incidents were reported in 2011, compared with 42 the year before and just 35 in 2009.

Association founder Adam Tallon suggested people are becoming more open to the possibility of UFOs and therefore feel more comfortable reporting a sighting to its website.

"I would like to believe that there is life out in the universe somewhere, whether it's walking or talking beings or microscopic bacteria I don't know," said Mr Tallon.

The association has been able to attribute most sightings to ball lightning and Chinese lanterns but its main interests lie in UFOs that cannot be explained by conventional means.

According to its website, these include incidents where the objects seem to be intelligently controlled or have been seen carrying out precise manoeuvres that are impossible for any known air or space crafts.

"As a young child I saw something strange in the night sky," said Mr Tallon.

"But as I was young it's very possible that the incident was embellished over the years and was nothing more then a meteor or some other natural phenomena."

Mr Tallon founded the group in 2005 but it officially became the UFO Research Association of Ireland in 2008 when it adopted its current system to track reported incidents.

"There is a slow but gradual increase in incidents being reported which I would attribute to two things," Mr Tallon went on.

"The first that there wasn't really any place to report incidents prior to our organisation and secondly I would attribute the increase to people being more comfortable reporting an incident compared to say 10 years ago."

Mr Tallon said people are not required to give any personal information to report a UFO which can be done through the organisation's website ufoi.org.

He suggested it is this confidentiality that encourages people who may otherwise have been unsure or embarrassed to report a UFO.

http://www.independent.ie/national-news/70-per-cent-more-ufos-spotted-over-ireland-2975613.html

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http://ufoi.org/
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« Reply #5851 on: Dec 29th, 2011, 2:42pm »






Uploaded by AustralianPhenomena on Dec 29, 2011

Filmed in Cooloongup. One orb and another apears next to it!
Filmed in the south east using a yukon Spirit Night Vision attached to a JVC Everio.

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« Reply #5852 on: Dec 29th, 2011, 4:56pm »



Please be an angel



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« Reply #5853 on: Dec 30th, 2011, 08:11am »

LA Times

Civilian contractors playing key roles in U.S. drone operations

Relying on contractors has brought companies that operate for profit into some of America's most sensitive military and intelligence operations. And using civilians makes some in the military uneasy.

By David S. Cloud, Los Angeles Times
10:34 PM PST, December 29, 2011
Reporting from Washington

After a U.S. airstrike mistakenly killed at least 15 Afghans in 2010, the Army officer investigating the accident was surprised to discover that an American civilian had played a central role: analyzing video feeds from a Predator drone keeping watch from above.

The contractor had overseen other analysts at Air Force Special Operations Command at Hurlburt Field in Florida as the drone tracked suspected insurgents near a small unit of U.S. soldiers in rugged hills of central Afghanistan. Based partly on her analysis, an Army captain ordered an airstrike on a convoy that turned out to be carrying innocent men, women and children.

"What company do you work for?" Maj. Gen. Timothy McHale demanded of the contractor after he learned that she was not in the military, according to a transcript obtained under the Freedom of Information Act.

"SAIC," she answered. Her employer, SAIC Inc., is a publicly traded Virginia-based corporation with a multiyear $49-million contract to help the Air Force analyze drone video and other intelligence from Afghanistan.

America's growing drone operations rely on hundreds of civilian contractors, including some — such as the SAIC employee — who work in the so-called kill chain before Hellfire missiles are launched, according to current and former military officers, company employees and internal government documents.

Relying on private contractors has brought corporations that operate for profit into some of America's most sensitive military and intelligence operations. And using civilians makes some in the military uneasy.

At least a dozen defense contractors that supply personnel to help the Air Force, special operations units and the CIA fly their drones are filling a void. It takes more people to operate unmanned aircraft than it does to fly traditional warplanes that have a pilot and crew.

The Air Force is short of ground-based pilots and crews to fly the drones, intelligence analysts to scrutinize nonstop video and surveillance feeds, and technicians and mechanics to maintain the heavily used aircraft.

"Our No. 1 manning problem in the Air Force is manning our unmanned platforms," said Gen. Philip M. Breedlove, Air Force vice chief of staff. Without civilian contractors, U.S. drone operations would grind to a halt.

About 168 people are needed to keep a single Predator aloft for 24 hours, according to the Air Force. The larger Global Hawk surveillance drone requires 300 people. In contrast, an F-16 fighter aircraft needs fewer than 100 people per mission.

With a fleet of about 230 Predators, Reapers and Global Hawks, the Air Force flies more than 50 drones around the clock over Afghanistan and other target areas. The Pentagon plans to add 730 medium and large drones in the next decade, requiring thousands more personnel.

The Air Force is rushing to meet the demand. Under a new program, drone pilots get 44 hours of cockpit training before they are sent to a squadron to be certified and allowed to command missions. That compares with a minimum of 200 hours' training for pilots flying traditional warplanes.

The Air Force also has converted seven Air National Guard squadrons into intelligence units to help analyze drone video. About 2,000 additional Air Force intelligence analysts are being trained.

After the attack that killed the Afghan villagers in February 2010, the U.S. Army Special Operations Command questioned whether civilian contractors had a "potential conflict of interest" in analyzing drone video feeds.

A civilian "might be reluctant to make a definitive call, fearing liability or negative contractual action" if he or she passed on incorrect information that was used to call an airstrike, the command said.

McHale rejected that argument. "Although I recognize that a contractor will have a corporate interest separate and distinct from the military interest, in this instance I found no action or inaction by screeners that negatively influenced the engagement," he responded, according to Pentagon documents.

By law, decisions to use military force must be made by the military chain of command or, in the case of CIA strikes, by civilian officials authorized to conduct covert operations under presidential findings or other specific legal mandates.

Writing in a military law journal in 2008, Lt. Col. Duane Thompson, chief lawyer for the Air Force Operations Law Division, warned that allowing nonmilitary personnel to communicate targeting information directly to pilots would violate international laws of war.

Moreover, civilians are not subject to the Uniform Code of Military Justice, which subjects military personnel to prosecution for war crimes or for violations of rules of engagement on when to use force.

"Persons who relay target identification for an imminent real-world mission to persons causing actual harm to enemy personnel or equipment should be uniformed military," Thompson wrote.

The "involvement of civilians in intelligence collection, analysis and planning" is "less objectionable" because it is "further removed" from actual combat, he added.

That involvement is now substantial. In a recent job advertisement, SAIC said it had 450 employees working for the Air Force Special Operations Command and other units analyzing video feeds from the battlefield.

BAE Systems Inc., a U.S. subsidiary of a British aerospace firm, posted an ad seeking an Air Force Special Operations Command veteran to manage "several hundred employees while conducting ISR/FMV missions." ISR and FMV are military abbreviations for Intelligence, Surveillance and Reconnaissance, and Full Motion Video, both of which commonly come from drones.

Michael D. Teegardin, a spokesman for BAE, said the "recruiting ad was for a [Department of Defense] customer, which I cannot name."

Pentagon officials say civilian contractors play a vital role.

"The civilians and the contractors are very important to what we do," said an Air Force colonel, who agreed to discuss the subject on condition of anonymity. "But they're not going to be making a call on any action. They're making an assessment, and that may generate a decision" by a military commander to launch a missile.

A ground-based Air Force pilot is in command of every drone flight, and has formal responsibility for any attack.

"Any contractor analysis contributing to operational decisions, such as targeting, must be reviewed" by someone in uniform, said Maj. Eric Hilliard, a spokesman for the Air Force Intelligence, Surveillance and Reconnaissance Agency, which is based at Lackland Air Force Base in Texas.

Contractors are especially common in the CIA, which has used armed Predators to kill dozens of Al Qaeda members and hundreds of insurgents in Pakistan since 2008. CIA drones also operate in Yemen, collect intelligence on Iran's nuclear facilities, and study other potential targets, current and former officials said.

The Air Force Special Operations Command flies armed drones in Afghanistan, Yemen, Somalia and elsewhere. The command said in a statement that it employs 165 civilians to analyze video and other intelligence. Many work alongside uniformed military personnel in a vast facility at command headquarters at Hurlburt Field.

An additional 300 civilians support other Air Force drones at 10 military bases in the U.S., Germany and South Korea, although most work in technical jobs, officials said. Many are military retirees who kept their security clearances, enabling them to do the same classified work they did on active duty.

After the 2010 accident in Afghanistan, the SAIC employee described her role in a sworn interview with McHale, the chief investigator. Her name was not made public and SAIC declined to identify her. A company spokeswoman, Melissa Koskovich, said Thursday that the woman was still employed by SAIC.

As the mission's "primary screener," she oversaw six enlisted personnel trained in video analysis, including her husband, an active-duty airman. The analysts spent hours that night watching the live video feed as three vehicles neared the U.S. troops.

She condensed her team's observations and her own into minute-by-minute written reports, which she forwarded via a chat system to the Air Force pilot flying the drone from Creech Air Force Base in Nevada. He passed the information to the Army unit in Afghanistan.

Others were watching the drone video, as well. In addition to the pilot, the military crew at Creech consisted of a camera operator, mission intelligence coordinator and a safety observer. A transcript shows they believed the convoy contained insurgents.

The SAIC analyst in Florida was more guarded in her assessment. She reported "military aged males" in the vehicles holding what she described as "possible weapons" — it was impossible from the video to tell what the men were carrying, she said.

"We thought they could have been hostile," she told McHale.

But she also reported seeing children in the convoy. Later, she changed that description and called them "adolescents" after deciding they appeared to be from 7 to 13 years old. She also reported at one point that the vehicles had turned off the road and were no longer moving toward the U.S. troops, suggesting the threat had receded, she said.

more after the jump
http://www.latimes.com/news/nationworld/world/la-fg-drones-civilians-20111230,0,4297891,full.story

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« Reply #5854 on: Dec 30th, 2011, 08:16am »

Telegraph

Russian nuclear submarine fire extinguished as crew members remain inside

Firefighters extinguished a massive fire on board a docked Russian nuclear submarine as crew members remained inside.

12:57PM GMT 30 Dec 2011

The Russian Emergency Ministry said no radiation leak had been detected last night from the 18,200-tonne Yekaterinburg submarine, and that the vessel's nuclear-tipped missiles were not on board.

Military prosecutors have launched an investigation into whether safety regulations were breached, and President Dmitry Medvedev summoned top Cabinet officials to report on the situation and demanded punishment for anyone found responsible.

The fire broke out Thursday at an Arctic shipyard outside the northwestern Russian city of Murmansk where the submarine Yekaterinburg was in dry-dock.

The blaze was put out Friday afternoon and firefighters continued to spray the vessel with water to cool it down, Emergency Situations Minister Sergei Shoigu said.

Seven members of the submarine crew were admitted to hospital after inhaling poisonous carbon monoxide fumes from the fire, Shoigu said.

An unspecified number of crew remained inside the submarine during the fire, a spokesman for the Defense Ministry said.

He insisted there never was any danger of the spreading inside the submarine and said the crew reported that the conditions on board remained normal.

Konashenkov's statement left it unclear whether the crew were trapped there or ordered to stay inside.

Russia's military says the blaze started on wooden scaffolding and then engulfed the sub's outer hull. The vessel's nuclear reactor had been shut down and its nuclear-tipped missiles and other weapons had been unloaded before dry-dock repairs, it said.

Toxic fumes from the blaze had spread to the town of Roslyakovo where the shipyard is located, but officials said there was no need to evacuate local residents.

Per Strand of the Norwegian Radiation Protection Authority said they had received information about the fire through the Norwegian Foreign Ministry, after which they contacted the Russians themselves.

"We have a warning agreement but we're working on also getting warnings for small incidents which the Russians do not believe will not cross the border. But we're not there yet," Strand told the Norwegian news agency NTB.

The Yekaterinburg is a Delta-IV-class nuclear-powered submarine that normally carries 16 nuclear-tipped intercontinental ballistic missiles. It was commissioned by the navy in 1985.

Most modern submarines' outer hulls are covered with rubber to make them less noisy and more difficult for an enemy to detect.

The chief of the General Staff of the Russian armed forces, Gen. Nikolai Makarov, led a team of senior military officials to Roslyakovo to oversee the emergency response.

The damage from the fire could be so massive that the submarine would need to be scrapped, the Interfax news agency reported Friday. But Deputy Prime Minister Dmitry Rogozin, who is in charge of the nation's military industries, said after the meeting that the submarine will rejoin the navy after repairs.

The Russian navy suffered its worst accident in August 2000, when the Kursk nuclear submarine exploded and sank during naval manoeuvres, killing all 118 crew members aboard.

A 2008 accident at the Nerpa nuclear-powered submarine killed 20 Russian seamen and injured 21 others when its fire-extinguishing system activated in error and spewed suffocating Freon gas.

http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/worldnews/europe/russia/8984676/Russian-nuclear-submarine-fire-extinguished-as-crew-members-remain-inside.html

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« Reply #5855 on: Dec 30th, 2011, 08:20am »

PR.com

UFO Film Festival Seeks Entries

The 2012 EBE Film Festival at the International UFO Congress is now accepting UFO-related films for the February festival in Scottsdale, Arizona.

Tempe, AZ, December 30, 2011 --(PR.com)-- One of the nation’s most anticipated UFO-related events, the 2012 EBE Film Festival, is now accepting entries for the February 21-26 events at the Fort McDowell Radisson Resort in Fountain Hills, Arizona.

A celebration of paranormal filmmaking, the 2012 EBEFF includes screenings, social events and networking opportunities, and a closing night Banquet and Awards Ceremony where the coveted EBE statues will be awarded. The festival runs in conjunction with the International UFO Congress which is the largest annual UFO conference in the world.

Narrative short films (30 minutes or less) and feature length (60 minutes or more) completed after Jan. 1, 2010 will be considered.

Deadlines are:

* Regular – Jan. 15, 2012. Regular Entry Fees: $25 per category entered
* Late/Final Feb. 1, 2012. Late Entry Fees: $30 per category entered

EBEFF 2012’s “EBEs” will be awarded to the Best Feature and Best Short film and People’s choice at a special Awards Banquet to honor the filmmakers and their works February 25th, 2012.

“We are very excited to host the festival this year and we already have some top-rate submissions,” said Festival Co-Organizer Maureen Elsberry. “This is really a celebration and exhibition of the amount of research, passion and dedication these individuals put into their work,” Elsberry said.

The International UFO Congress’ “EBE” Film Festival is a celebration of investigative filmmaking, with free films screened all day Tuesday February 21st and in the evenings Feb. 22 – 24th at the beautiful desert oasis at the Fort McDowell Resort & Casino in Scottsdale, Arizona.

For submission rules and application visit www.ufocongress.com/film-festival
For further information call 480-302-2147.

About the International UFO Congress:

The International UFO Congress is an Arizona based organization dedicated to the dissemination of information related to many areas in ufology. It was established in 1991 and hosts an annual conference which is the largest of its kind in the world. It features presentations given by authors, researchers, experts, enthusiasts, and those who have witnessed paranormal or anomalous phenomena from all over the world. It also provides a forum to discuss the experiences and findings. This event usually has over 20 Speakers, a Film Festival, tons of vendors as well as experiencer sessions. Topics generally covered are abduction, UFO sightings, UFO crashes, crop circles, paranormal experiences, government conspiracy and much more.

###


Contact Information

International UFO Congress
Maureen Elsberry
480-302-2147
Contact
www.ufocongress.com

http://www.pr.com/press-release/380069

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« Reply #5856 on: Dec 30th, 2011, 08:25am »

Deadline Hollywood

2011 Basic Cable Ratings: USA Still On Top, History & FX Up, Nick At Nite & TBS Down

By NELLIE ANDREEVA
Wednesday December 28, 2011 @ 6:19pm PST
Tags: Cable Ratings, TV Ratings

There was little change at the top of the primetime basic cable rankings for 2011, with USA finishing the year as No.1 in total viewers and adults 18-49 for a sixth consecutive time on the strength of its original series. The cable network added another hit to its original slate this year with rookie Suits. There was one change each in the Top 5 among total viewers and 18-49 from 2010. History broke into the Top 5 among total viewers after doing the same among adults 18-49 last year, while siblings TNT and TBS swapped places in the top 18-49 echelon. (Network rankings after the jump.)

History’s ratings ascent continued in 2011. With red-hot unscripted fare such as Pawn Stars and American Pickers, the cable channel once again posted its best year ever with double-digit gains in total viewers and adults 18-49 and a Top 5 finish in both categories after cracking the Top 10 in both total measures for the first time last year.

Also posting double-digit growth for a second consecutive year was MTV, which was fueled by juggernaut Jersey Shore, hit unscripted franchise Teen Mom, staple Video Music Awards and hot scripted newcomer Awkward. MTV moved up 5 spots in total viewers and 3 in 18-49 to finish in the Top 20/Top 10. Also posting double-digit gains this year was FX. With the help of breakout hits American Horror Story and Wilfred, the network rebounded from last year’s single-digit losses in a big way. Other networks that are up from last year include SyFy, AMC, Bio and Style. Nick At Nite tumbled, down 22% from last year in total viewers (10% in 18-49), and TBS also posed double-digit losses in both total viewers and adults 18-49. Also down year-to-year were female-skewing Lifetime and Oxygen. And for all the hoopla and big price tag associated with its launch, OWN: Oprah Winfrey Network finished on par with its predecessor Discovery Health.

Fox News Channel once again dominated the news network race, finishing as No.1 in total viewers (1.9 million) for a tenth straight year. It was down 7% from last year in total viewers, while sweeping the Top 13 most watched cable programs. CNN rebounded after posting its lowest-rated year in primetime in 2010. The network was up 17% to 689,000 viewers, which was still CNN’s second worst yearly average behind 2010. CNN finished behind MSNBC (775,000) in total viewers for a second consecutive year. MSNBC was up 2% in total viewers though down 11% at 8PM following the departure of star Keith Olbermann.

Here is a list of the top cable networks in total viewers and adults 18-49 for 2011 based on most current data:

Top 20 Cable Networks In Primetime: Total Viewers (in millions)/% difference from last year

1. USA 3.165 +0.3%
2. Disney Channel 2.647 +3%
3. ESPN 2.342 -2%
4. TNT 2.232 -0.8%
5. History 1.987 +21%
6. Fox News 1.883 -7%
7. TBS 1.614 -10%
8. A&E 1.561 +7%
9. FX 1.532 +21%
10. ABC Family 1.462 +1%
11. Nick At Nite 1.344 -22%
12. SyFy 1.330 +11%
13. Discovery 1.288 +2%
14. Adult Swim 1.237 N.A.
15. HGTV 1.205 -2%
16. MTV 1.189 +21%
17. AMC 1.182 +8%
18. Food Network 1.177 +3%
19. Comedy Central 1.006 +3%
20. Bravo 0.926 +6%

Top 20 Cable Networks In Primetime: Adults 18-49 Rating (Viewers In Millions)/% difference from last year

1. USA 1.1 (1.210) -3%
2. ESPN 1.0 (1.102) -4%
3. TNT 0.8 (.950) -3%
4. TBS 0.8 (.898) -11%
5. History 0.8 (.892) +18%
6. FX 0.8 (.855) +21%
7. MTV 0.7 (.770) +22%
8. A&E 0.7 (.764) +8%
9. Discovery 0.6 (.680) +1%
10. ABC Family 0.6 (.678) +4%
11. Comedy Central 0.6 (.641) +5%
12. Bravo 0.5 (.582) +8%
13. Food Network 0.5 (.571) +1%
13. Syfy 0.5 (.571) +6%
15. Adult Swim 0.5 (.569) N.A.
16. TruTV 0.5 (.543) +1%
17. Disney Channel 0.5 (.529) -5%
18. TLC 0.5 (.525) -4%
19. AMC 0.4 (.469) +10%
20. Lifetime 0.4 (.460) -10%

http://www.deadline.com/2011/12/2011-basic-cable-ratings-usa-still-on-top-history-fx-up-nick-at-nite-tbs-down/

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« Reply #5857 on: Dec 30th, 2011, 12:59pm »

HEY CRYSTAL,

EXCELLENT ARTICLE...THANKS FOR POSTING THIS AND THE NUMEROUS OTHERS AS WELL...

I'M HOPE THAT THOSE SHOWS WHICH SAW A REDUCTION IN VIEWERSHIP...SAID VIEWERS DECIDED TO JOIN AND/OR SPEND TIME @ UFOCASEBOOK... grin

MUCH OF THE REDUCTION I CAN RELATE AND AGREE WITH...ESPECIALLY THE "SYFY" CHANNEL WHEREIN I USED TO WATCH QUITE A BIT...WHO IS EVER AT THE TOP OF VIEWER R&D CLEARLY HAD HIS/HER HEAD IN THE SAND AS I RARELY TUNE IN AS OF THE REPEATS(RERUNS)...WELL SOME OF THE CLASSIC B & W CAN'T BE BEAT...BUT EVEN THOSE ARE FAR AND FEW BETWEEN AND YA GOT TO GO TO THE CLASSIC MOVIE CHANNELS FOR THE MAJORITY OF THOSE...
YEAH "SYFY" USED TO BE ON THE CUTTING EDGE...NOW THEY'D RATHER ONE SIT RING-SIDE AT ONE OF THOSE
"FAUX" WRESTLING MATCHES OR ONE THOSE GRADE "B" IN HOUSE PRODUCTIONS

KEEP UP THE GOOD WORK wink

SHALOM...ZETAR wink
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« Reply #5858 on: Dec 30th, 2011, 1:31pm »

on Dec 30th, 2011, 12:59pm, ZETAR wrote:
HEY CRYSTAL,

EXCELLENT ARTICLE...THANKS FOR POSTING THIS AND THE NUMEROUS OTHERS AS WELL...

I'M HOPE THAT THOSE SHOWS WHICH SAW A REDUCTION IN VIEWERSHIP...SAID VIEWERS DECIDED TO JOIN AND/OR SPEND TIME @ UFOCASEBOOK... grin

MUCH OF THE REDUCTION I CAN RELATE AND AGREE WITH...ESPECIALLY THE "SYFY" CHANNEL WHEREIN I USED TO WATCH QUITE A BIT...WHO IS EVER AT THE TOP OF VIEWER R&D CLEARLY HAD HIS/HER HEAD IN THE SAND AS I RARELY TUNE IN AS OF THE REPEATS(RERUNS)...WELL SOME OF THE CLASSIC B & W CAN'T BE BEAT...BUT EVEN THOSE ARE FAR AND FEW BETWEEN AND YA GOT TO GO TO THE CLASSIC MOVIE CHANNELS FOR THE MAJORITY OF THOSE...
YEAH "SYFY" USED TO BE ON THE CUTTING EDGE...NOW THEY'D RATHER ONE SIT RING-SIDE AT ONE OF THOSE
"FAUX" WRESTLING MATCHES OR ONE THOSE GRADE "B" IN HOUSE PRODUCTIONS

KEEP UP THE GOOD WORK wink

SHALOM...ZETAR wink




5. History 1.987 +21%

Shalom ZETAR,

I'm pleased to see that the History channel got such a big bump this year. Ancient Aliens is on History I believe.

And I agree about the SyFy channel.

Thank you for liking my thread. I am so grateful to BJ Booth for giving me my own little perch here.

Crystal


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« Reply #5859 on: Dec 30th, 2011, 5:53pm »





Uploaded by bananahobby on Dec 29, 2011

Click Here to see the UFO on our site! http://www.bananahobby.com/2218.html

This has to be one of my favorite all time sit back and relax RC Helicopters to fly! So super FUN and Stable! The looks are amazing and I am serious about really freaking out your neighbors at night! Check out the flight review as it is so fun! Thanks so much! -Pete

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« Reply #5860 on: Dec 31st, 2011, 08:33am »

LA Times

Islamic scholar casts a skeptical eye on the emerging Egypt

Gamal Banna, a liberal Islamic scholar whose brother founded the Muslim Brotherhood, reflects on a year of hope and disappointment for Egypt and the region. 'The revolution,' he says, 'has lost its freedom.'

By Jeffrey Fleishman, Los Angeles Times
4:28 PM PST, December 30, 2011
Reporting from Cairo

Wrapped in a shawl on a cold morning, Gamal Banna shuffled over a dusty carpet amid fraying books on old civilizations. He knows well the intricacies of Arab history, but is far less certain where the upheavals of the last year will lead.

Like the balustrade winding to his library door, the known ways are crumbling. Moments of wonder are giving way to months of bewilderment. These days, he said, are likely to prove as seminal as those after World War I, when Western powers drew the borders that shaped the Middle East for nearly a century. Islamists, who have endured decades of oppression, appear to have their chance to redefine the region's politics.

"One era has ended," said Banna, one of Islam's leading liberal thinkers. "But of the new era, we don't know exactly what is taking shape."

Lacking an ideology and charismatic leaders to channel the aspirations of the street, the "Arab Spring" has been thwarted by more powerful forces and fallen short of complete revolution. The challenge for Islamists, Banna said, is tempering their religious fervor with a pragmatism that can fix their countries before anger and despair is turned against them.

Banna is intimate with the Islamists' strengths and failings. His older brother, Hassan, who was a schoolteacher, founded the Muslim Brotherhood in 1928. The younger Banna has often angered the group with his progressive interpretation of Islam. He has watched his brother's conservative vision evolve in the decades since his death in 1949. Grass-roots activism gave way to periods of radicalism and today's often ill-defined mix of politics and social consciousness.

The 91-year-old scholar moves gingerly, but his wit and intellectual rigor seldom rest. He has written scores of books and appears on talk shows, eyes fixed and words hard against the ultraconservatives. His face is barely wrinkled. He runs a website and carries the title president of the Revival Islamist Movement. His desk is stacked high with documents, and sometimes he appears not to be there, until one hears the rustle of papers, the creak of a chair.

Only in Tunisia, he said, where a fruit seller set himself on fire a year ago and uncapped the passions of an entire region, is there a glimmer of a nation achieving its revolutionary ideals.

Here in Egypt, the army rules. It has killed protesters and stifled civil liberties even as the nation votes for a new parliament. Security forces loyal to Syrian President Bashar Assad gun down protesters daily. Yemen is beset by warring tribes, Al Qaeda militants and deadly political intrigue. Bahrain is an island of royal repression and rifle shots in the night. Moammar Kadafi met a brutal, surreal demise, but Libya is torn by clan animosities and militias.

Banna looked into the streaked morning light in his window. "The revolution," he said, "has lost its freedom."

The rebellions against autocrats started with popular uprisings. But in Egypt and other countries, they never found a consistent political voice, nor a comprehensive set of demands. Young activists and Facebook rebels were not enduring or enticing enough to seize the moment. They still take to city squares, but the race for power has moved beyond them.

"The heir of these revolutions is political Islam," said Banna. "The Islamists' parties are the big winners. The Islamists are established figures in this time of tumult. They have credibility and people are willing to give them a chance. But they must move quickly to fix years of social and economic neglect. If not, they could lose this opportunity and it all might collapse."

The Brotherhood has won more than 40% of the vote in Egypt's ongoing parliamentary elections. Its ultraconservative Islamist rivals, the Salafis, have won more than 20%.

Tunisia's Islamic Nahda party, a moderate faction that appears more politically astute than the Brotherhood or the Salafis, is dominating in that country. Islamists are also prevalent in Libya and Yemen, and a version of the Muslim Brotherhood could be a powerful player if Assad is overthrown and Syria descends into sectarian conflict.

Washington and its allies fear that Islamists will upset a regional balance of power in place since the 1970s. U.S. influence in the region will probably diminish; Egyptian Islamists have hinted about rethinking their country's peace treaty with Israel.

The struggle between moderate and ultraconservative Islam over religion's role in public life will play out for years. There are already debates over banning alcohol and bikinis at Egyptian resorts.

But the rising leaders in Tunisia, Egypt and other countries face more pressing problems. Egypt, perhaps the region's most influential nation, is beset by inflation, unemployment and deep poverty left by decades of government corruption. Many Arabs are more concerned these days with jobs, opportunities and tourist dollars than with how thoroughly Islamic law will influence national constitutions.

The new political Islam must balance between pluralism and polemics, or else, as Banna suggested was possible in Egypt, "parliaments will become schools of bullies."

The Islamic Nahda party in Tunisia "is more flexible than the Brotherhood in Egypt," he said. "Political Islam in Egypt hasn't reached that same kind of renaissance. It's happening at a very slow pace, and it needs time to bridge internal divides. But Islam will remain the pillar of public and private life. That is the destiny of the Middle East."

One of the most striking aspects of the Arab Spring is that the legacies of defeated autocrats will not be easily scoured away. This week, deposed Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak, draped in a blanket and lying on a gurney, was wheeled into a courtroom to resume his months-long trial on charges of corruption and complicity in the deaths of more than 800 protesters last winter.

He is frail and humiliated, but he lurks in the Egyptian consciousness, a reminder that the revolution is far from its goals. His friend and former defense minister Field Marshal Mohamed Hussein Tantawi now runs the country. The army that was once hailed by activists is now regarded as an extension of Mubarak's repressive rule; clashes between demonstrators and soldiers left at least 15 people dead this month.

Cairo is a harsh grid of conflicting images: A parliament is being elected at the same time soldiers, razor wire and concrete barricades have turned government buildings into fortresses. Mubarak was overthrown in a brisk 18 days; reinventing the country will take years. There are remnants of the old regime that don't want renewal, and the recent violence by security forces illustrates an increasing intolerance for dissent.

"It proves there are still many in the army and police who don't want the nation to succeed," he said. "They don't want us to achieve anything."

Rows of maps and books towered over Banna as he fixed his shawl. The street outside rattled with construction and the voices of children in a nearby schoolyard. Unfold a map and follow the coastal road from Tunisia through Libya and into Egypt. Names from books ring out: Carthage, Tobruk, Alexandria, all existing amid ruins, the won and lost possessions of history's changing empires.

The coasts, deserts and deltas are being remade again. But there was that moment in the chill of last winter when flags heralding something new colored the streets and snapped in the wind. The fear had been broken.

"What struck me most over the last year was the gathering of the masses," said Banna. "Even the prophets weren't able to pull together millions of people behind a single aim. It was as if we had become a city of angels."


http://www.latimes.com/news/nationworld/world/la-fg-arab-rebellion-20111231,0,6815850.story

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« Reply #5861 on: Dec 31st, 2011, 08:48am »

Christian Science Monitor

Feds chasing fast-moving Hollywood arsonists

The federal Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives has joined California fire investigators searching for arsonists torching cars at the height of arson season: New Year's. More cars burned Saturday morning.

By Patrik Jonsson, Staff writer / December 31, 2011

New Year's is high time for serial arsonists, research shows, and Hollywood firefighters are seeing that phenomenon first hand as they chase potential copy-catters who continued to set cars ablaze Saturday morning.

Since Thursday, suspected arsonists have set at least 30 car fires in a compact area of densely-developed Hollywood and West Hollywood, including around the famed Laurel Canyon area, where a car parked in front of a home once occupied by the late Doors' frontman Jim Morrison burned Friday morning, setting part of the home aflame.

Police say they have two people in custody, but the fire-setting continued Saturday morning.

Fire officials said the fires could be the work of a serial arsonist or a copycat culprit traveling between scenes on a motorcycle or even a bicycle. Saturday's fires came even as the fire department urged locals to keep their eyes open and stay vigilant.

So far, investigators have scant evidence to go on, as the perpetrators have for the most part appeared to have avoided video surveillance cameras. A $35,000 reward has been posted to entice residents with information about the fires to come forward.

While no one has been hurt, several homes and carports have sustained serious damage, raising the alarm at the federal Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF), which has sent agents to Hollywood.

Arson studies show that the majority of arson fires are set by thrill-seeking youths, even as the number of arson cases in larger US cities declined by 13 percent from 2010 through the first half of 2011, according to the newest FBI crime statistics. The numbers of arson fires historically goes up as a new year beckons, according to the US Fire Administration.

Given its long history of destructive wildfires, California is well-positioned to track arsonists. It has spearheaded the implementation of a national arson registry, similar to the sex offender registry, to track people convicted on arson charges after they're released.

Amid news that the car-burning rampage continued Saturday morning, Angelenos fervently debated what kind of perpetrators could be setting the fires. Some have speculated it's the work of homeless street people, while others have suggested eco-terrorism.

“I'm not even sure how it would be possible for a single individual to cover the area with a car – it has to be two or more people working together,” suggested Los Angeles Times reader Adrianna Belle on the newspaper's website. “These fires also seem too low-rent for the environmental terrorists, who, like most terrorists, want the most bang for their buck. If they ever blow [stuff] up, it's usually something big, like an entire dealer's lot filled with cars. Really, though, it's most likely one deranged individual with a jones for setting fires. Even if they wanted help to stop a compulsion, where would they go?”

http://www.csmonitor.com/USA/2011/1231/Feds-chasing-fast-moving-Hollywood-arsonists

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« Reply #5862 on: Dec 31st, 2011, 08:57am »

Wired Threat Level

Boston D.A. Subpoenas Twitter Over Occupy Boston, Anonymous
By Quinn Norton
December 30, 2011 | 4:00 pm
Categories: Occupy

On December 14, Twitter received a bizarre subpoena from the District Attorney of Suffolk County, which includes Boston.

It requested “All available subscriber information, for the account or accounts associated with the following information, including IP address logs for account creation and for the period December 8, 2011 to December 13, 2011.” The named targets included two hashtags, two accounts, and one proper name:


User Image


That subpoena, as written, ostensibly asks for whatever identifying information Twitter has on anyone who used the hashtags #bostonpd and #d0xcak3 from 12/8/2011 to 12/14/2011, which could number in the thousands.

It’s unclear if that’s what the Boston police meant to do, or if they are unfamiliar with Twitter. It seems likely the latter, given that the @occupyboston account is a year-and-a-half old fallow account with four tweets. The quasi-official Twitter account for the Occupy Boston movement that was evicted in this time frame is @occupy_boston.

@p0isan0n purports to be a participant in Antisec, the blackhat wing of Anonymous, which has targeted the Boston Police several times in document releases that have included online logins, physical addresses, and most recently, payroll information for 40 senior officers. The subpoena may also be be related to the d0xing, or document publication, of Boston Mayor Tom Menino on December 9th, as tweeted by @youranonnews:

“Boston Mayor Tom Menino d0x’d, courtesy of @DoxCak3 — http://pastebin.com/JtFqDr7G #OccupyBoston << someone order the man a pizza, stat!”

If so, the district attorney’s office mixed up their # and @ symbols.

The subpoena also includes a request for confidentiality from the Special Prosecutions Unit, but had no actual legal gag order. Without legal orders, the request for confidentially had no more enforceability than if Assistant District Attorney Benjamin Goldberger had also asked Twitter to send him a cupcake.

It’s Twitter’s policy to forward a subpoena to its target in order to give the user a chance to fight it, unless the company is specifically gagged. It appears that @p0isan0n received a copy from Twitter and posted it to Scribd.

ACLU attorney Peter Krupp, who is representing user @p0isan0n, filed a motion to quash the subpoena on First Amendment grounds. But Thursday, the ACLU seemed to be dealt a defeat when Suffolk Superior Court Judge Carol Ball issued an impoundment order after hearing the case mainly in chambers.

This barred anyone in the case from talking about the arguments on either side, or about why the motion to dismiss the subpoena was likely rejected. Impoundment is an extraordinary measure that can be requested by one side of a case, and is generally granted only in cases involving sensitive security issues, investigative issues, witness intimidation, or the possibility of the suspect running.

“I think none (of these reasons) are valid in this instance,” said Krupp.

For its part, the Boston Police told Boston local publication BostInno that the “Boston Police Department is investigating serious threats directed at department personnel. The department will not disclose the specific nature of the intelligence gathered relative to this matter.”

But what does it mean to subpoena a hashtag?

Krupp has a scary interpretation: “Presumably that means the IP address of anyone that uses that hashtag. It’s all IP address logs associated with that Twitter address.”

That would mean Twitter would be required to turn over the IP addresses and e-mail addresses of anyone who used the hashtag #BostonPD from December 12 to 14, a time period covering the widely followed eviction of Occupy Boston from Dewey park.

Krupp also sees a fishing expedition in the phrasing of “for the account or accounts associated with the following information”. That, he believes, could mean anyone that’s a follower of that account.

“In my view the statute… doesn’t go nearly so far in permitting an administrative subpoena to get that information,” Krupp said. “You have to go to a court and prove you’re entitled to that stuff.”

If the D.A. has this liberal interpretation of the subpoena, your humble Wired reporter is included for the incriminating act of following someone on Twitter.

http://www.wired.com/threatlevel/2011/12/boston-subpoena-twitter/#more-35505

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« Reply #5863 on: Dec 31st, 2011, 09:09am »

NASA

LATEST NEWS
NASA's GRAIL-A Spacecraft 24 Hours Away From Moon
December 30, 2011


PASADENA, Calif. -- NASA's Gravity Recovery And Interior Laboratory (GRAIL)-A spacecraft is within 24 hours of its insertion burn that will place it into lunar orbit. At the time the spacecraft crossed the milestone at 1:21 p.m. PST today (4:21 p.m. EST), the spacecraft was 30,758 miles (49,500 kilometers) from the moon.

Launched aboard the same rocket on Sept. 10, 2011, GRAIL-A's mirror twin, GRAIL-B, is also closing the gap between itself and the moon. GRAIL-B is scheduled to perform its lunar orbit insertion burn on New Year's Day (Jan. 1) at 2:05 p.m. PST (5:05 p.m. EST).

As they close in on the moon, both orbiters move toward the moon from the south, flying nearly directly over the lunar south pole. The lunar orbit insertion burn for GRAIL-A will take approximately 40 minutes to complete and change the spacecraft's velocity by about 427 mph (687 kph). GRAIL-B's insertion burn - occurring 25 hours later -- will last about 39 minutes and is expected to change its velocity by 430 mph (692 kph).

The insertion maneuvers will place each orbiter into a near-polar, elliptical orbit with an orbital period of 11.5 hours. Over the following weeks, the GRAIL team will execute a series of burns with each spacecraft to reduce their period down to just under two hours. At the start of the science phase in March 2012, the two GRAILs will be in a near-polar, near-circular orbit with an altitude of about 34 miles (55 kilometers).

During the science phase, the moon will rotate three times underneath the GRAIL orbit. The collection of gravity data over one complete rotation (27.3 days) is referred to as a Mapping Cycle. When science collection begins, the spacecraft will transmit radio signals precisely defining the distance between them as they orbit the moon in formation. Regional gravitational differences on the moon are expected to expand and contract that distance. GRAIL scientists will use these accurate measurements to define the moon's gravity field. The data will allow mission scientists to understand what goes on below the surface of our natural satellite. This information will help us learn more about how the moon, Earth and other terrestrial planets formed.

NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory, Pasadena, Calif., manages the GRAIL mission. The Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Cambridge, is home to the mission's principal investigator, Maria Zuber. The GRAIL mission is part of the Discovery Program managed at NASA's Marshall Space Flight Center in Huntsville, Ala. Lockheed Martin Space Systems, Denver, built the spacecraft. JPL is a division of the California Institute of Technology in Pasadena.

More information about GRAIL is online at: http://www.nasa.gov/grail and http://grail.nasa.gov .

The GRAIL press kit can be found online at: http://www.jpl.nasa.gov/news/press_kits/graiLaunch.pdf

http://www.jpl.nasa.gov/mobile/news/index.cfm?release=2011-397

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« Reply #5864 on: Dec 31st, 2011, 09:12am »

Reuters

Boeing wins $3.48 billion U.S. missile contract

Sat Dec 31, 2011 12:32am EST

(Reuters) - Boeing Co beat out Lockheed Martin to retain its position as the prime contractor for the U.S. long-range missile shield, the Pentagon said on Friday.

The U.S. Defense Department said it was awarding Boeing a $3.48 billion, seven-year contract to develop, test, engineer and manufacture missile defense systems.

A team led by Lockheed Martin Corp and Raytheon Co had vied with Boeing to expand and maintain the Ground-based Midcourse Defense, or GMD, hub of layered antimissile protection.

Boeing partnered with Northrop Grumman Corp to retain the work.

"We believe the government conducted a fair and open competition, making the right decision for the future of the program," Norm Tew, Boeing vice president and program director of GMD, said in a statement.

Lockheed said it was "honored" to have participated on the bid, a company spokesperson said in a statement on Friday.

The GMD contract's value to Boeing will have been about $18 billion from January 2001, when it formally became the system's prime contractor, through the end of this year, Boeing has said.

GMD uses radar and other sensors plus a 20,000-mile fiber optic communications network to cue interceptors in silos at Fort Greely, Alaska and Vandenberg Air Force Base, California.

The shield has been shaped initially to guard against ballistic missiles that could be fired by Iran and North Korea. It is the only U.S. defense against long-range missiles that could be tipped with chemical, biological or nuclear warheads.

(Writing by Patrick Temple-West; reporting By Jim Wolf and Karey Wutkowski; Editing by Steve Orlofsky)

http://www.reuters.com/article/2011/12/31/us-boeing-missiledefense-idUSTRE7BT19T20111231

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