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 veryhotthread  Author  Topic: Stuff & Nonsense  (Read 127725 times)
WingsofCrystal
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« Reply #5880 on: Jan 3rd, 2012, 09:34am »

Reuters

Iran threatens U.S. Navy as sanctions hit economy
By Parisa Hafezi
TEHRAN | Tue Jan 3, 2012 10:26am EST

TEHRAN (Reuters) - Iran threatened Tuesday to take action if the U.S. Navy moves an aircraft carrier into the Gulf, Tehran's most aggressive statement yet after weeks of saber-rattling as new U.S. and EU financial sanctions take a toll on its economy.

The prospect of sanctions targeting the oil sector in a serious way for the first time has hit Iran's rial currency, which reached a record low Tuesday and has fallen by 40 percent against the dollar in the past month.

Queues formed at banks and some currency exchange offices shut their doors as Iranians scrambled to buy dollars to protect their savings from the currency's fall.

Army chief Ataollah Salehi said the United States had moved an aircraft carrier out of the Gulf because of Iran's naval exercises, and Iran would take action if the ship returned.

"Iran will not repeat its warning ... the enemy's carrier has been moved to the Sea of Oman because of our drill. I recommend and emphasize to the American carrier not to return to the Persian Gulf," army chief Salehi said.

"I advise, recommend and warn them over the return of this carrier to the Persian Gulf because we are not in the habit of warning more than once."

The aircraft carrier USS John C Stennis leads a U.S. Navy task force in the region. It is now in the Arabian Sea providing air support for the war in Afghanistan, said Lieutenant Rebecca Rebarich, spokeswoman for the U.S. 5th Fleet.

The carrier left the Gulf on December 27 on a "preplanned, routine transit" through the Straight of Hormuz, she said.

Forty percent of the world's traded oil flows through that narrow straight - which Iran threatened last month to shut if sanctions halted its oil exports.

Brent crude futures were up more than $4 Tuesday afternoon in London, pushing above $111 a barrel on the news of potential threats to supply in the Gulf, as well as strong Chinese economic data.

Tehran's latest threat comes at a time when sanctions are having an unprecedented impact on its economy, and the country faces political uncertainty with an election in March, its first since a 2009 vote that triggered countrywide demonstrations.

The West has imposed the increasingly tight sanctions over Iran's nuclear program, which Tehran says is strictly peaceful but Western countries believe aims to build an atomic bomb. After years of measures that had little impact, the new sanctions are the first that could have a serious effect on Iran's oil trade, 60 percent of its economy.

Sanctions signed into law by U.S. President Barack Obama on New Year's Eve would cut off financial institutions that work with Iran's central bank from the U.S. financial system, blocking the main path for payments for Iranian oil.

The EU is expected to impose new sanctions by the end of this month, possibly including a ban on oil imports and a freeze of central bank assets.

Even Iran's top trading partner China - which has refused to back new global sanctions against Iran - is demanding discounts to buy Iranian oil as Tehran's options narrow. Beijing has cut its imports of Iranian crude by more than half for January, paying premiums for oil from Russia and Vietnam to replace it.

THREATS

Iran has responded to the tighter measures with belligerent rhetoric, spooking oil markets briefly when it announced last month it could prevent shipping through the Straight of Hormuz.

It then held 10 days of naval exercises in the Gulf, test firing missiles that could hit U.S. bases in the Middle East. Tuesday's apparent threat to take action against the U.S. military for sailing in international waters takes the aggressive rhetoric to a new level.

Experts still say they do not expect Tehran to charge headlong into an act of war - the U.S. Navy is overwhelmingly more powerful than Iran's sea forces - but Iran is running out of diplomatic wiggle room to avert a confrontation.

"I think we should be very worried because the diplomacy that should accompany this rise in tension seems to be lacking on both sides," said Richard Dalton, former British ambassador to Iran and now an associate fellow at Chatham House think tank.

"I don't believe either side wants a war to start. I think the Iranians will be aware that if they block the Strait or attack a U.S. ship, they will be the losers. Nor do I think that the U.S. wants to use its military might other than as a means of pressure. However, in a state of heightened emotion on both sides, we are in a dangerous situation."

Henry Wilkinson at Janusian Risk Advisory consultants said the threats might be a bid by Iran to remind countries contemplating sanctions of the cost of havoc on oil markets.

"Such threats can cause market confidence in the global oil supply to wobble and can push up oil prices and shipping insurance prices. For the EU powers debating new sanctions, this could be quite a pinch in the current economic climate."

The new U.S. sanctions law, if implemented fully, would make it impossible for many refineries to pay Iran for crude. It takes effect gradually and lets Obama grant waivers to prevent an oil price shock, so its precise impact is hard to gauge.

The European Union is expected to consider new measures by the end of this month. A blockade would halt purchase of Iranian oil by EU members such as such as crisis-hit Greece, which has taken advantage of the discounted price of Iranian crude.

French Foreign Minister Alain Juppe said Paris wants new measures taken by January 30, when EU foreign ministers meet. President Nicolas Sarkozy has proposed freezing Iranian central bank assets and an oil embargo, Juppe said.

A German foreign ministry spokesman said Berlin was in discussions with other EU states on "qualitatively new sanctions against Iran" to "ensure the sources of funding for the Iranian nuclear program dry up."

Michael Mann, spokesman for EU foreign policy chief Catherine Ashton, said member states would discuss the issue this week in the hope of reaching an agreement on new steps before the January 30 meeting.

"The ball is still in the Iranians' court," he said.

Iran has written to Ashton asking to restart talks over its nuclear program that collapsed a year ago. The EU says it does not want talks unless Iran is prepared to discuss serious steps, such as halting its enrichment of uranium.

CHINA CUTS IRAN OIL IMPORTS

Although China, India and other countries are unlikely to sign up to any oil embargo, tighter Western sanctions mean such customers will be able to insist on deeper discounts for Iranian oil, reducing Tehran's income.

Beijing has already been driving a hard bargain. China, which bought 11 percent of its oil from Iran during the first 11 months of last year, has cut its January purchase by about 285,000 barrels per day, more than half of the close to 550,000 bpd that it bought through a 2011 contract.

The impact of falling government income from oil sales can be felt on the streets in Iran in soaring prices for state subsidized goods and a falling rial currency.

Some currency exchange offices in Tehran, when contacted by Reuters, said there was no trading until further notice.

"The rate is changing every second ... We are not taking in any rials to change to dollars or any other foreign currency," said Hamid Bakshi in central Tehran.

Housewife Zohreh Ghobadi, in a long line at a bank, said she was trying to withdraw her savings and change it into dollars.

Iranian authorities played down any link between the souring exchange rate and the imposition of the new sanctions.

"The new American sanctions have not materialized yet," Foreign Ministry spokesman Ramin Mehmanparast said.

The economic impact is being felt ahead of a nationwide parliamentary election on March 2, the first vote since a disputed 2009 presidential election that brought tens of thousands of Iranian demonstrators into the streets.

Iran's rulers put those protests down by force, but since then the "Arab Spring" revolts have show that authoritarian governments in the region are vulnerable to street unrest.

In a sign of political tension among Iran's elite ahead of the vote, a court jailed the daughter of powerful former President Akbar Hashemi Rafsanjani Tuesday and banned her from politics for "anti-state propaganda."

Rafsanjani sided with reformists during the demonstrations following the 2009 vote. Daughter Faezeh Hashemi Rafsanjani went on trial last month on charges of "campaigning against the Islamic establishment," news agency ISNA said.

(Additional reporting by Hashem Kalantari in Tehran, Humeyra Pamuk in Dubai, Brian Love in Paris, Keith Weir and William Maclean in London and Florence Tan in Singapore; Writing by Peter Graff; Editing by Giles Elgood)

http://www.reuters.com/article/2012/01/03/us-iran-usa-idUSTRE80208P20120103

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« Reply #5881 on: Jan 3rd, 2012, 11:33am »

Thanks to Barb Delozier for finding this.....


The Attitude of Gratitude


If you change the way you look at things,
the things you look at change...

Even the darkest times in our lives force us to move forward with a strength we may not have known we had. A death, a fire, abuse, loss of income, or a crisis can all seem confusing and wrong. But they often show us parts of ourselves we never knew we existed, change our perspectives, and help us re-evaluate our priorities for the future. Even if the events are of a nature that we would change if we could, we can look for ways to grow through them and come out stronger and better people on the other side.

PS: The glass is always full.....

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« Reply #5882 on: Jan 3rd, 2012, 1:36pm »

on Jan 3rd, 2012, 11:33am, Swamprat wrote:
Thanks to Barb Delozier for finding this.....


The Attitude of Gratitude


If you change the way you look at things,
the things you look at change...

Even the darkest times in our lives force us to move forward with a strength we may not have known we had. A death, a fire, abuse, loss of income, or a crisis can all seem confusing and wrong. But they often show us parts of ourselves we never knew existed, change our perspectives, and help us re-evaluate our priorities for the future. Even if the events are of a nature that we would change if we could, we can look for ways to grow through them and come out stronger and better people on the other side.

PS: The glass is always full.....

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Well it is. grin
Thanks Swamprat.
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« Reply #5883 on: Jan 3rd, 2012, 3:06pm »

Nice one, Swampie.


Happy Birthday, hyundisonata! All the best! And maybe you will turn off lurk-mode to make one or two posts again. wink

« Last Edit: Jan 3rd, 2012, 3:07pm by philliman » User IP Logged

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« Reply #5884 on: Jan 4th, 2012, 07:32am »

Happy belated birthday hyundisonata!
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« Reply #5885 on: Jan 4th, 2012, 07:35am »

New York Times

January 3, 2012
Romney Wins Iowa Caucus by 8 Votes
By JEFF ZELENY

DES MOINES — Mitt Romney’s quest to swiftly lock down the Republican presidential nomination with a commanding finish in the Iowa caucuses was undercut on Tuesday night by the surging candidacy of Rick Santorum, who fought him to a draw on a shoestring budget by winning over conservatives who remain skeptical of Mr. Romney.

In the first Republican contest of the season, the two candidates were separated much of the night by only a sliver of votes, with Mr. Romney being declared the winner by eight ballots early Wednesday morning. But the outcome offered Mr. Santorum a chance to emerge as the alternative to Mr. Romney as the race moves to New Hampshire and South Carolina without Gov. Rick Perry, who announced that he was returning to Texas to assess his candidacy.

“Being here in Iowa has made me a better candidate,” Mr. Santorum said, arriving at a caucus in Clive, where he urged Republicans to vote their conscience. “Don’t sell America short. Don’t put someone out there from Iowa who isn’t capable of doing what America needs done.”

The Iowa caucuses did not deliver a clean answer to what type of candidate Republicans intend to rally behind to try to defeat President Obama and win back the White House. With 99 percent of the vote counted, Mr. Santorum and Mr. Romney, whose views represent the polar sides of the party, each had 24.6 percent.

“On to New Hampshire, let’s get that job done!” Mr. Romney told supporters at a late-night rally, when he was five votes shy of Mr. Santorum. “Come visit us there, we’ve got some work ahead.”

The last time the Iowa caucuses produced such a close outcome was in 1980, when George Bush beat Ronald Reagan by two percentage points.

Representative Ron Paul of Texas was a close third on Tuesday with 21 percent of the caucus votes.

“We will go on,” he said in an upbeat speech. “There is nothing to be ashamed of.”

The Iowa caucuses, which sounded the opening bell of the Republican contest, did not bring the clarity to the nominating fight as Mr. Romney had hoped.

But even though he did not secure the authoritative victory that he had fought for in the last week, he handily dispatched two rivals who were once seen as his biggest threats, Mr. Perry and former House Speaker Newt Gingrich. And Mr. Romney is poised on Wednesday to collect the endorsement of Senator John McCain of Arizona.

Mr. Gingrich was in fourth place with 13 percent of the votes, followed by Mr. Perry with 10 percent and Representative Michele Bachmann of Minnesota with 5 percent. More than 120,000 Republicans took part in the caucus, a turnout that was slightly higher than four years ago.

With Mr. Perry heading back to Texas, Mr. Gingrich pledged to press forward and be on the stage at the next debate on Saturday in New Hampshire.

“There will be a great debate in the Republican Party before we are prepared to have a great debate with Barack Obama,” Mr. Gingrich said, pledging to raise the intensity of his criticism of Mr. Romney before the next contests. He offered a glimpse at his approach, calling Mr. Romney a liar whose conservative credentials could not be trusted.

The determined band of Republicans caucusgoers streamed into firehouses, gymnasiums and even a few living rooms across Iowa for the precinct meetings. The caucuses do not award any of the 1,150 delegates needed to win the party’s nomination, but the result began reshaping the race as the campaign shifted to New Hampshire and South Carolina.

A snapshot of the Republican mind-set, according to polls of voters as they entered caucus sites, found that Mr. Romney had won the most support among those who said defeating Mr. Obama was the most important quality in a candidate.

Mr. Romney’s business experience, which is the spine of his candidacy, was a draw for voters concerned about the economy. Among voters who said the economy was the issue that mattered most in deciding whom to support, a plurality — about a third — said they would support Mr. Romney.

In one of the most conservative pockets in the state, the northwestern Iowa town of Alton, a supporter of Mr. Romney urged Republicans gathered at a firehouse to resist “throwing your vote away.”

“I didn’t vote for Mitt Romney in the last caucus, and I wish things had turned out differently,” said Dan Ruppert, who rose to deliver a testimonial for Mr. Romney. “I’m definitely going to vote for Mitt Romney now.”

The surveys found that Mr. Paul had far outpaced his rivals among caucusgoers under 40. But he dropped behind Mr. Romney and Mr. Santorum among voters 40 and older. Even though older caucusgoers made up a much larger portion of the electorate, Mr. Paul’s outsize lead among younger voters kept him competitive.

In the survey of voters arriving at their caucuses, which was conducted by Edison Research for the National Election Pool of television networks and The Associated Press, nearly four in 10 said they had never attended a caucus before. Those new attendees supported Mr. Paul over any other candidate.

Many caucusgoers did not make up their minds until late; entrance polls indicated that nearly half had decided whom to support within the last few days. Mr. Santorum was the candidate who benefited the most from these late-deciders — a third of them backed him.

Nearly six in 10 voters consider themselves evangelical or born-again Christians, the poll found, which illustrated the surge for Mr. Santorum in the closing days of the campaign here.

Mr. Santotrum celebrated late Tuesday by recalling how he had campaigned in all 99 Iowa counties. “Thank you so much Iowa,” he told the crowd at a rally in Johnston. “By standing up and not compromising, by standing up and being bold and leading, leading with that burden and responsibility you have to be first, you have taken the first step in taking back this country.”

Mr. Santorum now faces a challenge of trying to broaden his campaign organization on the fly to compete with the structure that Mr. Romney has spent years building. His aides said he will campaign this week in New Hampshire and South Carolina, vowing to compete with Mr. Romney everywhere.

In polls of Republicans entering the caucus sites, just more than four in 10 said the most important issue was the economy, while about one-third said the federal budget deficit was their chief concern. Asked what quality was the most important in a candidate, about three in 10 voters said the ability to defeat Mr. Obama, while about a quarter said someone who was a true conservative and another quarter said someone who had strong moral character.

As Republicans turned out across the state to render the first judgment of the candidates, some voters conceded that they were still wrestling with selecting someone who stands the best chance of winning in November or one who is fully aligned with conservative principles.

Don Lutz, who works in real estate, arrived early and called himself a “Newt guy.” But he said he would not cast his vote that way. He said he was supporting Mr. Romney.

“I don’t want to have a vote for nothing,” Mr. Lutz said in an interview at his caucus meeting in Clive, a suburb of Des Moines. “I just don’t think that Newt is going to be there in the end. When I look at the business side of things, Mitt is probably the most qualified.”

The fissures in the party, particularly among social and economic conservatives, have been exposed during the early stage of the presidential nominating battle. But while Republicans have yet to unite behind a single candidate, they are united in their determination to defeat Mr. Obama.

While Republicans were the focus of the night, thousands of Democrats gathered at their caucus meetings, too. Mr. Obama addressed supporters via video, urging them to come to his defense in the general election.

“It’s going to be a big battle, though,” Mr. Obama said. “I hope you guys are geared up.”

A woman piped in from Cedar Rapids: “How do you respond to people who say you haven’t done enough?”

“That’s why we need four more years,” Mr. Obama said.

The Iowa campaign, which provided a laboratory for the unregulated money from outside groups that will course through the presidential campaign, quickly moved on to New Hampshire, which will hold its primary next Tuesday, followed by South Carolina on Jan. 21 and Florida on Jan. 31.

While the New Hampshire primary has traditionally drawn the lion’s share of attention after the Iowa caucuses, Mr. Romney’s strong lead in polls in the state has changed the strategy of some candidates, and South Carolina was quickly emerging as a focal point of the race.

Mrs. Bachmann, whose political fortunes have declined since she won the Iowa straw poll in August, said the caucuses were the beginning of the race for president, not the end of the road for candidates who finish at the bottom of the pack.

“The people of Iowa have spoken, and they have written the very first chapter in this long campaign,” she said, not elaborating on her plans. “There are many more paths to be written on the path to the nomination.”

Reporting was contributed by A.G. Sulzberger in Alton, Iowa; Susan Saulny in Clive, Iowa; and Dalia Sussman and Allison Kopecki in New York.

http://www.nytimes.com/2012/01/04/us/politics/santorum-and-romney-fight-to-a-draw.html?_r=1&hp

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« Reply #5886 on: Jan 4th, 2012, 07:40am »

LA Times

Maximum-security prison is no place for a pot stash, woman finds
January 3, 2012 | 3:32 pm

Here's a tip: When visiting an inmate in prison -- especially one of the most notorious, maximum-security prisons in the United States -- it's best to leave the drugs at home.

A Louisiana woman was aiming to visit an inmate at Louisiana State Penitentiary -- known commonly as Angola and sometimes dubbed "the Alcatraz of the South" -- when guards discovered she was carrying a small stash of marijuana in her purse, authorities said.

Oops!

The Advocate reports that the St. Tammany Parish woman, Shauntae M. Joseph, now stands accused of smuggling and has been booked on suspicion of introducing contraband into the largest maximum-security prison in the nation. She has been freed after posting $12,000 bail.

Apparently, the guards at Angola are pretty good at sniffing out marijuana. In November, they stopped an employee who was allegedly trying to smuggle in more than a pound of pot.

And it's not just employees and average Joes who find themselves on the wrong side of such charges: Redmond O'Neal, son of the late Farrah Fawcett and of Ryan O'Neal, was accused of doing the same in Los Angeles a few years back.

http://latimesblogs.latimes.com/nationnow/2012/01/marijuana-pot-bust-louisiana-prison.html?track=icymi

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« Reply #5887 on: Jan 4th, 2012, 07:43am »

Wired Danger Room

Air Force Will Lose Hundreds of Planes in New Pentagon Plan
By Spencer Ackerman and Noah Shachtman
January 4, 2012 | 4:00 am
Categories: Air Force

The Air Force is preparing to trim hundreds of aircraft from its aging fleet in order to meet an Obama administration austerity order. The move will strike many Air Force supporters as ironic. Because just as the fleet is set to shrink, Defense Secretary Leon Panetta is getting ready to argue, at least implicitly, that the country needs it more than ever.

Danger Room has learned that around 200 airplanes, mostly older models, will eventually be retired without replacement. That represents about a 5 percent reduction in the overall fleet of about 4,000 aircraft. Exactly which planes will go is unclear. But under any scenario, the positions of thousands of airmen who fly and maintain those planes will be phased out. The majority of those airmen will be reservists and Air National Guardsmen.

On Thursday, Leon Panetta will announce a new American defense strategy — one that military observers say will stress the centrality of the Pacific region, and by extension, the U.S. Air Force and Navy. But these services will not be exempt from the new pressure in Washington to rein in federal spending. In addition to scrapping the older planes, Danger Room is hearing that the Pentagon is still considering delays to the Air Force’s planned next-(next-)generation bomber, a program unveiled by former Defense Secretary Robert Gates just a year ago. Although the F-35 Joint Strike Fighter family of jets is the most expensive defense program in human history, it’s expected to take relatively minor cuts, such as further delays, not necessarily major budgetary hits, military and Capitol Hill sources say.

Much remains unsettled ahead of the formal announcement of next year’s defense budget request, scheduled for later this month. That’s when Panetta and Gen. Martin Dempsey, the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, will lay out what hardware gets cut under a plan to cut defense spending by $450 billion over the next decade. But “the Air Force will be proposing substantial force reductions, amounting to a couple hundred aircraft,” a senior military official who requested anonymity tells Danger Room.

The Pentagon leadership has been trying to tether the budget cuts to a shift in the U.S.’s overall defense posture, predicated on the end of the Iraq War and the beginning of the end of the Afghanistan War. Land wars are out; Asia and the Western Pacific are in. Panetta and Dempsey are expected to make that case at a Thursday Pentagon press conference.

Except that if Asia and the Western Pacific are the new U.S. defense hotspots, then the U.S. will lean heavily on the Air Force (and, of course, the Navy) — while reducing its air fleet. Gen. Philip Breedlove, the Air Force’s second in command, warned in July that the budget cuts could jeopardize the Navy and Air Force’s much-hyped plan for joint warfare in the Pacific, known as AirSea Battle.

The apparent tension between strategy and cash has the Air Force’s advocates indicating they’ll resist the cuts.

“The nation is best served if it modernizes its Air Force and its Navy. The big question is whether the money will flow to support the stated strategy,” ret. Lt. Gen. Michael Dunn, president of the Air Force Association, tells Danger Room. “We will argue that the secretary is right about what he says about the strategy.”

In other words, Panetta is right about prioritizing Asia, so he needs to give the Air Force the cash necessary to prioritize it — not cut the air fleet. The Air Force Association has plenty of friends on Capitol Hill who will be receptive to that message.

Panetta and Dempsey are not expected to specify which planes, ships, guns or trucks get cut in their Thursday press conference; that’s for the unveiling of the budget later this month. One close observer of Pentagon budgets warns that older bombers, like the B-1, might get slashed even before the new bomber is ready, because they’re expensive gas guzzlers. Older manned fighter jets might take a hit, as the Pentagon probably won’t cut its drone fleet or significantly pare back its F-22s and F-35s. The Air Force’s ancient fleet of Eisenhower- and Kennedy-era tankers are so central to the military’s actions around the globe that it’s hard to imagine any getting phased out until replacements arrive.

The Air Force won’t be the only service in for budgetary pain. Danger Room is also hearing that the Army is likely to lose more soldiers from its active-duty ranks than it wants. (Irony: the Pentagon waits to cut the Air Force after fighting a decade of land wars; and the Army’s reward for surviving them is major shrinkage.) Cuts to the Navy and the Marine Corps are likely as well, and there will probably be some restructuring of the military’s expensive pension system as well.

But even though the cuts aren’t finalized yet, the Air Force is already bracing for them. And its allies, armed with the Asia-first strategy, won’t take them lying down.

“Plans with Iran would rely predominantly on air and naval power. Libya was mostly air power, and the Pacific is clearly a naval and air arena,” says Dunn. “I would note that my naval friends say the Pacific is 75 percent covered by water — but it’s 100 percent covered by air.”

http://www.wired.com/dangerroom/2012/01/planes-cut/

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« Reply #5888 on: Jan 4th, 2012, 07:49am »

MansfieldNewsJournal.com

UFO researchers investigate Lexington's November fireball
Jan. 4, 2012
Written by Jami Kinton

LEXINGTON -- A baffling fireball report has gained the attention of an international UFO research agency.

This week, representatives of the Mutual UFO Network will come to Richland County to investigate a report registered with their agency. On Nov. 23, Rick Beverly, of 1431 Graham Road, said he saw what seemed to be a fireball shoot from the sky.

"I was headed north on Graham Road and was right about in front of my house when it happened," he said. "I was looking toward the East and noticed a big ball of fire fall from the sky. It was cruising."

Beverly said a red glow lit up a large section of woods behind his home. He called 9-1-1.

The next day, Lt. Michael Vinson, of the Mansfield post of the Ohio Highway Patrol, said multiple agencies, including the Air National Guard, spent hours searching the woods, to no avail.

His story hasn't changed.

"We never found anything," he said Tuesday. "Initially, it was reported as an airplane crashing. Then that night we sent troopers and other agencies, but couldn't find anything. We checked with both Cleveland and Columbus, but found no aircrafts missing. The next day we did an aircraft flyover just to double-check, but there was no sign of wreckage."

Monday, Mutual UFO Network Chief Field Investigator Thomas Wertman, of the Ohio chapter, spoke with Beverly and set up an appointment to travel to Lexington.

Wertman said a man named Robert Kreiling, who called himself a local astronomer, contacted his organization.

"When we get certain classifications of sightings, they have different priorities," Wertman said. "We like to come and look at the lay of the land and see if we can find any remnants down there. According to the state patrol, they didn't see anything, but if we go down there in the daytime we may get a better view. I'm not out there to say everything we see in the sky is a flying saucer, but we would like to take a look at the area."

MUFON investigates UFO sightings and collects data for use by researchers worldwide. The group promotes research on UFOs and educates the public on UFO phenomena.

Vinson said authorities believed the fireball may have been a meteor.

"It burned for about 45 minutes to an hour," Beverly said. The woods are about a quarter of a mile behind his home.

It's not the first time MUFON has looked into a Richland County event.

In 1973, a National Guard helicopter headed to Cleveland Hopkins Airport was just outside Mansfield, near Charles Mill Lake, when one of the crewmen spotted a lighted object he believed was a tower.

Wertman has studied the well-documented event extensively.

"This crewman didn't think much of it until he noticed the same light again, but it wasn't blinking like a tower. It was just a constant red light," he said.

The crewman notified the commander, Lawrence Coyne, who instructed him to keep an eye on the object -- which he said soon began coming toward their helicopter at "jet speed."

"Coyne put the helicopter into a dive. The object stopped right in front of them and began keeping pace with them," Wertman said.

Suddenly a green light swung around from the object, lighting up the interior of the helicopter.

"Coyne tried to contact Mansfield Lahm and did end up getting an acknowledgment from them, but then the transmit went dead," Wertman said. "But about 30 seconds later, the object just took off in the direction of Lake Erie."

Later, the crew was baffled to learn that, although they were nose-diving toward the ground, their helicopter had actually traveled up more than 1,000 feet.

"None of them said they felt themselves going up," Wertman said.

"I would like to stress one very important fact, and that is there is approximately 20 years of Army aviation experience between the four men aboard the helicopter that night," Coyne said in a video interview from 1973. "We have been trained to follow procedures and regulations in reporting incidents regardless of how they're accepted -- and we reported the incident as it occurred and have avoided any speculation on the subject."

The News Journal is seeking any of the four people aboard the helicopter that day, anyone who witnessed the incident or any witnesses to the November sighting. Call reporter Jami Kinton at 419-521-7220.

http://beta.mansfieldnewsjournal.com/article/20120104/NEWS01/201040303/UFO-researchers-investigate-Lexington-s-November-fireball?odyssey=mod|newswell|text||p

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xx Re: Stuff & Nonsense
« Reply #5889 on: Jan 4th, 2012, 10:59am »

Think of the money they'd save if they just let the inmates grow and smoke all they wanted. wink


on Jan 4th, 2012, 07:40am, WingsofCrystal wrote:
LA Times

Maximum-security prison is no place for a pot stash, woman finds
January 3, 2012 | 3:32 pm

Here's a tip: When visiting an inmate in prison -- especially one of the most notorious, maximum-security prisons in the United States -- it's best to leave the drugs at home.

A Louisiana woman was aiming to visit an inmate at Louisiana State Penitentiary -- known commonly as Angola and sometimes dubbed "the Alcatraz of the South" -- when guards discovered she was carrying a small stash of marijuana in her purse, authorities said.

Oops!

The Advocate reports that the St. Tammany Parish woman, Shauntae M. Joseph, now stands accused of smuggling and has been booked on suspicion of introducing contraband into the largest maximum-security prison in the nation. She has been freed after posting $12,000 bail.

Apparently, the guards at Angola are pretty good at sniffing out marijuana. In November, they stopped an employee who was allegedly trying to smuggle in more than a pound of pot.

And it's not just employees and average Joes who find themselves on the wrong side of such charges: Redmond O'Neal, son of the late Farrah Fawcett and of Ryan O'Neal, was accused of doing the same in Los Angeles a few years back.

http://latimesblogs.latimes.com/nationnow/2012/01/marijuana-pot-bust-louisiana-prison.html?track=icymi

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xx Re: Stuff & Nonsense
« Reply #5890 on: Jan 4th, 2012, 11:42am »

on Jan 4th, 2012, 10:59am, Festivus wrote:
Think of the money they'd save if they just let the inmates grow and smoke all they wanted. wink


Hey Festivus,

The inmates would probably be easier to control if they were stoned all the time.

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« Reply #5891 on: Jan 4th, 2012, 5:33pm »

New York Times

Today’s Wearable Computers Help You Sleep, Not Tweet
By NICK BILTON
January 4, 2012, 6:18 pm

I recently wrote a column about wearable computing, in which I discussed a future in which people will eventually wear glasses and contact lenses with built-in screens, delivering content we can use. It will be like having smartphones in our eyes, but much smarter ones.

Researchers I spoke with for my column noted that it would be at least 10 years before Facebook updates were being flashed into our retinas in real time. In the interim, though, the first iteration of wearable computers are here, focusing on tracking people’s health.

“I think we are at the very beginning of wearable computing,” said Julia Hu, founder and chief executive of Lark, a start-up based in Mountain View, Calif., that makes a wearable sleep tracking monitor. “You’re starting to see a lot of sensors that track data and then visualize it.”

She added, “A big part of the first wave of wearables will be personalizing health and more importantly, making the information relevant for people.”

Ms. Hu’s company chose to focus on sleep better because, she said, more than 70 million Americans have a sleeping disorder.

Although people might think the biggest hurdle with wearable computers is the creation of the devices, Ms. Hu said knowing what to do with the data these computers capture was more important. For example, the Lark tracks more than 3,000 micro data points each night through a wrist device users put on before going to sleep. Lark’s software, which runs on a smartphone, then parses through all the micro-motions it has tracked throughout the night and makes recommendations to users.

“We use a type of sleep research called actigraphy — it’s what sleep scientists have used for the last 15 years — and then we sift through your personalized data and offer a better sleep, diet and exercise schedule,” Ms. Hu said.

Michael Liebhold, a senior researcher specializing in wearable computing at the Institute for the Future in Palo Alto, Calif., said in a phone interview that health applications made the most sense for today’s consumer-oriented wearables. Rather than offering health care, he said that new wearable devices were aimed at helping to promote wellness by helping people understand health issues before they became problems.

“We are seeing these wearables that create a health-aware environment, with sensors and devices used to monitor our health and fitness and then giving us visualized feedback of the results,” Mr. Liebhold said. He said this trend would become more pervasive as people learned to tack more sensors onto their bodies.

But one wonders if people will actually wear these devices. Although health promoting and sleep monitoring devices may be useful and responsible, they aren’t exactly sexy products for mainstream consumers. And they won’t allow us to send Twitter messages from our eyeballs.

Still, it’s nice to know they might help us get a good night’s sleep.

http://bits.blogs.nytimes.com/2012/01/04/todays-wearable-computers-help-you-sleep-not-tweet/?smid=tw-nytimesbits&seid=auto

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« Reply #5892 on: Jan 5th, 2012, 08:04am »

New York Times

January 4, 2012
Harder for Americans to Rise From Lower Rungs
By JASON DePARLE

WASHINGTON — Benjamin Franklin did it. Henry Ford did it. And American life is built on the faith that others can do it, too: rise from humble origins to economic heights. “Movin’ on up,” George Jefferson-style, is not only a sitcom song but a civil religion.

But many researchers have reached a conclusion that turns conventional wisdom on its head: Americans enjoy less economic mobility than their peers in Canada and much of Western Europe. The mobility gap has been widely discussed in academic circles, but a sour season of mass unemployment and street protests has moved the discussion toward center stage.

Former Senator Rick Santorum of Pennsylvania, a Republican candidate for president, warned this fall that movement “up into the middle income is actually greater, the mobility in Europe, than it is in America.” National Review, a conservative thought leader, wrote that “most Western European and English-speaking nations have higher rates of mobility.” Even Representative Paul D. Ryan, a Wisconsin Republican who argues that overall mobility remains high, recently wrote that “mobility from the very bottom up” is “where the United States lags behind.”

Liberal commentators have long emphasized class, but the attention on the right is largely new.

“It’s becoming conventional wisdom that the U.S. does not have as much mobility as most other advanced countries,” said Isabel V. Sawhill, an economist at the Brookings Institution. “I don’t think you’ll find too many people who will argue with that.”

One reason for the mobility gap may be the depth of American poverty, which leaves poor children starting especially far behind. Another may be the unusually large premiums that American employers pay for college degrees. Since children generally follow their parents’ educational trajectory, that premium increases the importance of family background and stymies people with less schooling.

At least five large studies in recent years have found the United States to be less mobile than comparable nations. A project led by Markus Jantti, an economist at a Swedish university, found that 42 percent of American men raised in the bottom fifth of incomes stay there as adults. That shows a level of persistent disadvantage much higher than in Denmark (25 percent) and Britain (30 percent) — a country famous for its class constraints.

Meanwhile, just 8 percent of American men at the bottom rose to the top fifth. That compares with 12 percent of the British and 14 percent of the Danes.

Despite frequent references to the United States as a classless society, about 62 percent of Americans (male and female) raised in the top fifth of incomes stay in the top two-fifths, according to research by the Economic Mobility Project of the Pew Charitable Trusts. Similarly, 65 percent born in the bottom fifth stay in the bottom two-fifths.

By emphasizing the influence of family background, the studies not only challenge American identity but speak to the debate about inequality. While liberals often complain that the United States has unusually large income gaps, many conservatives have argued that the system is fair because mobility is especially high, too: everyone can climb the ladder. Now the evidence suggests that America is not only less equal, but also less mobile.

John Bridgeland, a former aide to President George W. Bush who helped start Opportunity Nation, an effort to seek policy solutions, said he was “shocked” by the international comparisons. “Republicans will not feel compelled to talk about income inequality,” Mr. Bridgeland said. “But they will feel a need to talk about a lack of mobility — a lack of access to the American Dream.”

While Europe differs from the United States in culture and demographics, a more telling comparison may be with Canada, a neighbor with significant ethnic diversity. Miles Corak, an economist at the University of Ottawa, found that just 16 percent of Canadian men raised in the bottom tenth of incomes stayed there as adults, compared with 22 percent of Americans. Similarly, 26 percent of American men raised at the top tenth stayed there, but just 18 percent of Canadians.

“Family background plays more of a role in the U.S. than in most comparable countries,” Professor Corak said in an interview.

Skeptics caution that the studies measure “relative mobility” — how likely children are to move from their parents’ place in the income distribution. That is different from asking whether they have more money. Most Americans have higher incomes than their parents because the country has grown richer.

Some conservatives say this measure, called absolute mobility, is a better gauge of opportunity. A Pew study found that 81 percent of Americans have higher incomes than their parents (after accounting for family size). There is no comparable data on other countries.

Since they require two generations of data, the studies also omit immigrants, whose upward movement has long been considered an American strength. “If America is so poor in economic mobility, maybe someone should tell all these people who still want to come to the U.S.,” said Stuart M. Butler, an analyst at the Heritage Foundation.

The income compression in rival countries may also make them seem more mobile. Reihan Salam, a writer for The Daily and National Review Online, has calculated that a Danish family can move from the 10th percentile to the 90th percentile with $45,000 of additional earnings, while an American family would need an additional $93,000.

Even by measures of relative mobility, Middle America remains fluid. About 36 percent of Americans raised in the middle fifth move up as adults, while 23 percent stay on the same rung and 41 percent move down, according to Pew research. The “stickiness” appears at the top and bottom, as affluent families transmit their advantages and poor families stay trapped.

While Americans have boasted of casting off class since Poor Richard’s Almanac, until recently there has been little data.

Pioneering work in the early 1980s by Gary S. Becker, a Nobel laureate in economics, found only a mild relationship between fathers’ earnings and those of their sons. But when better data became available a decade later, another prominent economist, Gary Solon, found the bond twice as strong. Most researchers now estimate the “elasticity” of father-son earnings at 0.5, which means if one man earns $100,000 more than another, his sons would earn $50,000 more on average than the sons of the poorer man.

In 2006 Professor Corak reviewed more than 50 studies of nine countries. He ranked Canada, Norway, Finland and Denmark as the most mobile, with the United States and Britain roughly tied at the other extreme. Sweden, Germany, and France were scattered across the middle.

The causes of America’s mobility problem are a topic of dispute — starting with the debates over poverty. The United States maintains a thinner safety net than other rich countries, leaving more children vulnerable to debilitating hardships.

Poor Americans are also more likely than foreign peers to grow up with single mothers. That places them at an elevated risk of experiencing poverty and related problems, a point frequently made by Mr. Santorum, who surged into contention in the Iowa caucuses. The United States also has uniquely high incarceration rates, and a longer history of racial stratification than its peers.

“The bottom fifth in the U.S. looks very different from the bottom fifth in other countries,” said Scott Winship, a researcher at the Brookings Institution, who wrote the article for National Review. “Poor Americans have to work their way up from a lower floor.”

A second distinguishing American trait is the pay tilt toward educated workers. While in theory that could help poor children rise — good learners can become high earners — more often it favors the children of the educated and affluent, who have access to better schools and arrive in them more prepared to learn.

“Upper-income families can invest more in their children’s education and they may have a better understanding of what it takes to get a good education,” said Eric Wanner, president of the Russell Sage Foundation, which gives grants to social scientists.

The United States is also less unionized than many of its peers, which may lower wages among the least skilled, and has public health problems, like obesity and diabetes, which can limit education and employment.

Perhaps another brake on American mobility is the sheer magnitude of the gaps between rich and the rest — the theme of the Occupy Wall Street protests, which emphasize the power of the privileged to protect their interests. Countries with less equality generally have less mobility.

Mr. Salam recently wrote that relative mobility “is overrated as a social policy goal” compared with raising incomes across the board. Parents naturally try to help their children, and a completely mobile society would mean complete insecurity: anyone could tumble any time.

But he finds the stagnation at the bottom alarming and warns that it will worsen. Most of the studies end with people born before 1970, while wage gaps, single motherhood and incarceration increased later. Until more recent data arrives, he said, “we don’t know the half of it.”


http://www.nytimes.com/2012/01/05/us/harder-for-americans-to-rise-from-lower-rungs.html?_r=1&hp

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« Reply #5893 on: Jan 5th, 2012, 08:06am »

LA Times

27 killed as blasts rock Shiite areas of Baghdad

The explosions boost fears that insurgents will renew attacks now that U.S. troops have left. Coordinated bombings targeting Shiites are the hallmark of Sunni militants linked to Al Qaeda.

From the Associated Press
4:08 AM PST, January 5, 2012
BAGHDAD

A wave of explosions struck two Shiite neighborhoods in Baghdad on Thursday, killing at least 27 people and intensifying fears that insurgents are stepping up attacks after the U.S. troop withdrawal that was completed last month.

The attacks began with the explosion of a bomb attached to a motorcycle near a bus stop where day laborers gather to look for work in the Sadr city neighborhood. One of those who witnessed the attack said it filled the area with thick black smoke.

"People have real fears that the cycle of violence might be revived in this country," said Tariq Annad, a 52-year-old government employee who lives nearby.

That attack was followed by the explosion of a roadside bomb. Police found a third bomb nearby and defused it.

The two Sadr City blasts killed 12 people, according to police and medical officials.

Less than two hours later, two explosions rocked the Shiite neighborhood of Kazimiyah in the north of the capital, killing 15 people. Officials said the Kazimiyah blasts occurred almost simultaneously, with at least one caused by a car bomb.

Hospital officials confirmed the causalities from the four blasts, which included more than 60 wounded. The officials spoke on condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to release the information.

The Baghdad military spokesman, Maj. Gen. Qassim Moussawi, said the aim of the attacks is "to create sedition among the Iraqi people." He said it was too early to say who was behind the bombings.

Coordinated bombings, particularly those targeting Shiite areas, are the hallmark of Sunni militants linked to Al Qaeda.

Thursday's attacks were the deadliest in Baghdad since Dec. 22, when a series of blasts killed 69 people in mostly Shiite neighborhoods. An Al Qaeda front group in Iraq claimed responsibility for those attacks.

Iraqi leaders have warned of a resurgence of Sunni and Shiite militants and an increase in violence following the departure of U.S. troops.

The early morning blasts followed deadly attacks Wednesday that targeted the homes of police officers and a member of a government-allied militia. Those attacks, in the cities of Baqouba and Abu Ghraib outside Baghdad, killed four people, including two children, officials said.

The latest violence comes as Iraqi politicians remain deadlocked in a festering political crisis that threatens to re-ignite sectarian tensions in the country.

Prime Minister Nouri Maliki's government, dominated by Iraq's majority Shiites, issued an arrest warrant for the country's top Sunni politician last month. The Sunni official, Vice President Tariq Hashemi, is currently holed up in Iraq's Kurdish north -- effectively out of reach of state security forces.

Maliki's main political rival, the Sunni-backed Iraqiya bloc, is boycotting parliament sessions and Cabinet meetings to protest what they say are efforts by the government to consolidate power and marginalize them.

http://www.latimes.com/news/nationworld/world/la-fgw-iraq-bombings-20120106,0,880838.story

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xx Re: Stuff & Nonsense
« Reply #5894 on: Jan 5th, 2012, 08:06am »

There ARE some jobs opening up in Nevada.....


The Week

Nevada's Alien Cathouse: A sci-fi brothel for nerds?

A brothel baron plans to open an exotic sex den for men who dream of getting it on in outer space


posted on January 4, 2012

Sex can be out of this world. But a Nevada brothel owner is taking that premise a step further, by building a prostitution den for sci-fi nerds who dream of having sex with exotic alien women. The businessman — Dennis Hof, the star of HBO's long-running documentary series Cathouse — is betting there are plenty of men who will pay a premium for some extraterrestrial TLC. Here's what you need to know about his eyebrow-raising business plan:

An alien-themed sex house?
It's exactly what it sounds like. If you ever "found yourself jealous of Captain James T. Kirk" and his interplanetary romps on Star Trek, now's your chance to "go where no man has gone before," says Melissa Locker at TIME. Hof's "Alien Cathouse" is set to open its Area 51-themed doors just 90 miles from Las Vegas. The reality TV star purchased a run-down brothel with plans to renovate it into an over-the-top galactic love center — complete with costumed employees kinkily made up as "sexy alien girls."

What makes Hof think this will actually work?

The multi-millionaire has certainly seen success in the sex industry before. In addition to the Moonlite Bunny Ranch — the mercurial setting for HBO's reality show — Hof holds four other brothel licenses, "the most ever by a single owner," says Henry Brean of the Las Vegas Review-Journal. He's also enlisting the fantasy-building expertise of former Hollywood Madam Heidi Fleiss, who will function as his "chief alien design queen." The duo is still working out the project's finer details, like whether the girls themselves will be painted green.

And this is legal?
In Nevada, yes — it's the lone state that permits prostitution under the law. And Hof's clean operating record allowed him to be fast-tracked to a temporary brothel license for his ambitious wonderland, which he hopes to have ready in a month or two for nerds with enough coin. "Unless they're married," he jokes, "I don't want anyone in Nevada having sex unless I get a cut of the money."

http://theweek.com/article/index/222951/nevadas-alien-cathouse-a-sci-fi-brothel-for-nerds
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