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 veryhotthread  Author  Topic: Stuff & Nonsense  (Read 14695 times)
WingsofCrystal
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« Reply #5895 on: Jan 5th, 2012, 08:11am »

The Hill

Panetta, Obama to unveil defense strategy review at Pentagon

By Meghashyam Mali
01/05/12 05:58 AM ET

President Obama will deliver remarks at the Pentagon on Thursday unveiling the Defense Strategic Review, the White House announced.

Obama will be joined by Defense Secretary Leon Panetta who has led the review process and Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Martin E. Dempsey.

The review is intended to guide the Pentagon's strategic planning in the coming years as the military faces billions in budget cuts.

The Pentagon faces a possible $1 trillion in cuts. 450 billion in cuts over the next decade were agreed to in the August deal between Congress and the White House agreeing to raise the debt-ceiling limit. Additionally, the failure of the deficit reduction supercommittee triggered $500 billion in automatic cuts though Republican lawmakers have pledged to block the sequestration.

The New York Times reports that Panetta's plan will call for the military to shrink to 490,000 soldiers but will preserve the size of the navy's aircraft carrier force. Reports say the strategy review will abandon the U.S. military's goal of being able to fight two major wars at the same time.

The Hill first reported in late November that Pentagon officials would give lawmakers and the press a sneak peek at the military’s 2013 budget plan.


http://thehill.com/blogs/defcon-hill/policy-and-strategy/202465-obama-to-unveil-defense-strategy-review-at-pentagon

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« Reply #5896 on: Jan 5th, 2012, 08:16am »

The TSA Blog

1.03.2012
TSA Top 10 Good Catches of 2011

Our officers have had some good finds this year at our checkpoints and we wanted to share our top 10 good catches with you. Some are dangerous, some simply look dangerous and can cause major delays, and others are just plain weird.
Click on the links to read more about each good catch.

Gallery after the jump
http://blog.tsa.gov/2012/01/tsa-top-10-good-catches-of-2011.html

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« Reply #5897 on: Jan 5th, 2012, 08:18am »

on Jan 5th, 2012, 08:06am, Swamprat wrote:
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."....

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


Good morning Swamprat,

I'll bet it is a screaming success. grin

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« Reply #5898 on: Jan 5th, 2012, 08:29am »

.


Please be an angel


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« Reply #5899 on: Jan 5th, 2012, 4:16pm »

Space.com

Moon Mineral Found in Ancient Australian Rock
Charles Q. Choi, SPACE.com Contributor
Date: 05 January 2012 Time: 04:15 PM ET

A mineral once found only on the moon has now been discovered in billion-year-old rocks in Australia.

Tranquillityite is a mineral consisting of iron, zirconium, yttrium, titanium, silicon and oxygen. It is named after the moon's Sea of Tranquility, where it was first discovered on the Apollo 11 mission. Until now, it was only seen in samples returned from the moon, as well as in lunar meteorites — that is, rocks blasted off the moon's surface by cosmic impacts that crash-landed here.

Now scientists have identified what appear to be terrestrial versions of tranquillityite in Western Australia.

The mineral commonly occurs as clusters of thin, narrow, fox-red strips in dikes or sills — bodies of rock that likely originally intruded as magma into surrounding layers of stone. Its composition is largely the same as lunar tranquillityite.


darn! I lost the link, be back soon with it.

http://www.space.com/14149-moon-mineral-australian-rock.html

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« Reply #5900 on: Jan 6th, 2012, 08:04am »

New York Times

January 5, 2012
Ex-Chief of Turkish Army Is Arrested in Widening Case Alleging Coup Plot
By SEBNEM ARSU

ISTANBUL — In an unprecedented move, a civilian court ordered the arrest of Turkey’s former head of the army, the highest-ranking officer so far to be charged with leadership of an illegal network accused of seeking to overthrow the government, news outlets reported late Thursday.

Gen. Ilker Basbug, who was the chief of the army’s general staff from 2008 until his retirement in 2010, denied the charges, calling it a tragicomedy that the former commander of one of the world’s strongest armies would be accused of belonging to a terrorist organization, according to NTV, a private television station.

“It is very sad, and hard to understand,” he said during a 12-hour interrogation, NTV said. “If authorities have failed to discover any of this misconduct that I am claimed to have committed in active duty, then all is incomprehensible.”

The civilian court in Istanbul ordered the general jailed pending his trial on charges of seeking to overthrow the government.

His arrest appeared to be the latest skirmish in a power struggle between the pro-Islamic governing party, Justice and Development, and the secular establishment, which includes the army.

The government has jailed more than 300 people, including more than 200 active or retired military officers, as part of an investigation into what is said to be a plot in 2003 by the ultranationalist Ergenekon network to bomb mosques, assassinate prominent figures or start wars to stir chaos and prepare the grounds for a military coup.

No one has yet been convicted.

The military, which has long seen itself as the defender of Turkey’s secular Constitution, has carried out three successful coups. The governing party, which is rooted in a banned Islamist group, has insisted that the military is no longer beyond the law. The party has said that it is building a religiously tolerant democracy.

The rivalry intensified in July when the chief of the armed forces and the commanders of the navy, army and air force resigned en masse to protest the arrests of dozens of generals in conspiracy investigations they contend are politically motivated.

Human rights activists say the government is using the courts to intimidate opponents, and have expressed concern that suspects who could be tried in freedom are routinely jailed.

The detainees include 97 journalists, publishers and other members of the media, raising concerns that the arrests are intended to silence critics.

The government’s heavy hand in these cases has tarnished Turkey’s image as a model of democracy in the Muslim world and raised questions about its candidacy for membership in the European Union.

In the hearing on Thursday, the court also questioned General Basbug’s motives for public statements he made discrediting the findings of security operations against those suspected of being coup plotters, one of his lawyers said in a televised statement.

General Basbug reportedly replied that none of his statements had any hidden agenda except to bolster the morale of soldiers under his command.

The general was arrested after a number of other former military officers in a parallel court case claimed that antigovernment Web sites that they had set up had been primarily ordered by General Basbug, claims that he denied.

In Washington, the State Department said that it was monitoring the trial and that Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton had urged Turkish authorities during her visit to Istanbul last fall to address concerns about freedom of expression.

“We are watching this carefully and continuing to make clear our strong concerns about press freedom in Turkey to the Turkish government,” a State Department spokeswoman, Victoria Nuland, said at a news briefing on Thursday.

She added: “We have to see whether this trial goes forward in a manner that is consistent with international standards, consistent with international human rights. So that’s the standard by which we’ll judge it.”


http://www.nytimes.com/2012/01/06/world/europe/turkey-arrests-ex-chief-of-military-gen-ilker-basbug.html?_r=1&hp

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« Reply #5901 on: Jan 6th, 2012, 08:08am »

LA Times

Woman tried to urinate on painting worth $30 million, police say
January 5, 2012 | 3:18 pm

Admit it, you've probably walked through an art museum at some point and sneered, "Any 3-year-old could have done that."

But Denver police say Carmen Lucette Tisch took her apparent disdain for celebrated artist Clyfford Still's multimillion-dollar artwork one step beyond the snarky. Tisch is accused of trying to damage the abstract painting by punching it and scratching it during a Dec. 29 visit to the new Clyfford Still Museum in Denver.

Witnesses said she also pulled down her pants and tried to urinate on the painting, although that isn't one of the charges she faces.

"It doesn't appear she urinated on the painting or that the urine damaged it, so she's not being charged with that," said Lynn Kimbrough, a spokeswoman for the Denver district attorney's office, in an interview with the Denver Post.

Did we mention that the painting is estimated to be worth $30 million to $40 million?

Still, who died in 1980, was an American artist credited with creating the world's first Abstract Impressionist painting. Notoriously cantankerous and solitary, as well as particular about how his work was displayed, Still opted to paint with knives and trowels rather than a brush. Four of his paintings fetched a total of more than $114 million at Sotheby's not long ago, and the proceeds from that sale helped fund an endowment for the museum, which opened to the public in November.

Damage to the painting, titled "1957-J-No. 2," is estimated at $10,000. The canvas was not pierced, and the Denver Post points out that it's unclear whether the incident will harm the market value of the painting or enhance it.

The painting is nearly 9 1/2 feet tall and 13 feet wide. The incident took place in the middle of the afternoon, according to prosecutors. Although it isn't clear what sparked the attack, authorities told the Denver Post that Tisch appeared to be under the influence of alcohol at the time.

"You have to wonder where her friends were," Kimbrough said.

Tisch is being held on $20,000 bail, and is scheduled to make a Denver County court appearance Friday morning.

http://latimesblogs.latimes.com/nationnow/2012/01/drunk-woman-tried-to-urinate-on-30-million-painting-police-say.html

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« Reply #5902 on: Jan 6th, 2012, 08:14am »

Science Daily

Science News Blog

Men and Women Have Major Personality Differences: New Report Suggests Previous Measurements
Have Underestimated Variation Between the Sexes

ScienceDaily (Jan. 4, 2012)

— Men and women have large differences in personality, according to a new study published Jan. 4 in the online journal PLoS ONE.

The existence of such differences, and their extent, has been a subject of much debate, but the authors of the new report, led by Marco Del Giudice of the University of Turin in Italy, describe a new method for measuring and analyzing personality differences that they argue is more accurate than previous methods.

The researchers used personality measurements from more than 10,000 people, approximately half men and half women. The personality test included 15 personality scales, including such traits as warmth, sensitivity, and perfectionism. When comparing men's and women's overall personality profiles, which take multiple traits into account, very large differences between the sexes became apparent, even though differences look much smaller when each trait is considered separately.

However, the study indicates that previous methods to measure such differences have been inadequate, both because they focused on one trait at a time and because they failed to correct for measurement error.

The authors conclude that the true extent of sex differences in human personality has therefore been consistently underestimated.


http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2012/01/120104174812.htm

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« Reply #5903 on: Jan 6th, 2012, 08:22am »

Wired Danger Room

Four Contradictions in Obama’s New Defense Plan
By Spencer Ackerman
January 6, 2012 | 6:30 am
Categories: Tactics, Strategy and Logistics

Many of the key points in President Obama’s new blueprint for the next decade of U.S. defense strategy are straightforward. More spy gear; more special forces; fewer land wars; Asia, Asia, Asia. Whatever you think of the merits of those points, at least they’re internally consistent.

Others… not so much.

Sometimes the analysis in the strategy suggests a policy choice that the strategy actually disavows. Sometimes it walks back controversial points. Sometimes it makes pledges that sound sensible at first blush — but don’t actually make sense the more you think about them. Here are four of the most glaring contradictions within the strategy.

The Military Should Leave Europe (But Won’t). The whole point of the new plan is to build “the joint force of 2020, a force sized and shaped differently than the military of the Cold War,” Defense Secretary Leon Panetta boasted Thursday. But the U.S. just can’t vacate the Cold War’s primary battlefield: Europe. In fact, the plan makes a strong case for the Army to take its brigades home. “Most European countries are now producers of security rather than consumers of it,” the strategy says, bolstered by NATO’s success in Libya.

But the Pentagon won’t take its own advice. The closest it comes is to pledge that the military’s force structure in Europe will “evolve.” Asked if that means the U.S. will pull out of Europe 20 years after the breakup of the Soviet Union, Panetta replied, “Not only are we going to continue our commitments there, but we are going to maintain the kind of innovative presence there that we think will make clear to Europe, and those to those who have been our strong allies in the past, that we remain committed.”

Translation: maybe there will be another shave and a haircut to the U.S. military’s nearly 70-year European expedition, but not much more than that. Even though Europe is united, safe, at peace and the U.S.’ real security interests are halfway around the world.

“Limited Counterinsurgency”. One thing critics and advocates of counterinsurgency can agree on: it requires a lot of time, cash and, especially, people. So it’s baffling for the Pentagon strategy to say that U.S. forces will remain prepared “to conduct limited counterinsurgency operations.” What are limited counterinsurgency operations?

To give the Pentagon a generous interpretation, limited counterinsurgency operations might mean training partner militaries to wage their own battles against insurgents. That’s more properly called “security force assistance,” but whatever. Less generously, the Obama administration is trying to walk away from counterinsurgency without getting bashed by critics for scrapping the lessons of Iraq and Afghanistan. Either way, after Thursday press conference, Pentagon reporters who tried to figure out what the term actually means were unable to reach a consensus. Several of us ended up more confused the longer we debated each other.

The Army Is Getting Cut (Until We Surge It). This one is more sugar-coating than outright contradiction. But one of the major implications of the new plan is “smaller conventional ground forces,” in President Obama’s words. (Panetta didn’t cite a number for how small the Army will get, but we’re hearing around 480,000 soldiers, a drop of nearly 100,000 from current levels.) No sooner did the Pentagon announce that, however, than it said: well, for now.

Plans for shrinking the Army (and the Marine Corps) will build in “reversibility,” Panetta pledged. Should unforeseen land wars arise — you know, like the two post-9/11 wars the Army didn’t anticipate fighting — the Army will be able to “surge, regenerate and mobilize… quickly.” True, it’s a lot easier to start recruiting more soldiers than it is to, say, build more ships or planes. But it also sounds like the Obama team is afraid of taking criticism for downsizing the Army rather than confidently defending a major aspect of its new strategy.

This Is The Pentagon’s Blueprint, Until It Isn’t. Even the fundamental purpose of the strategy isn’t free from contradiction, thanks to the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff. It’s supposed to be the cornerstone for crafting the military of 2020, as Panetta put it. But Gen. Martin Dempsey, the military’s top officer, walked that back: the strategy is merely “a waypoint” for a “continuous and deliberate process” of building that future force.

Maybe it’s Dempsey’s Army background talking, but he sounded lukewarm on the document. “It’s not perfect,” he told reporters, and it’s open to criticism for slashing the military too deeply or not reorienting it enough to meet future threats. “That probably makes it about right,” Dempsey intoned, “for today.”

Should that change, the military would simply “adjust” what the strategy says, and it’ll have an opportunity to do so every year when it issues its budget, Dempsey said. Maybe that would be a mere tune-up; maybe it would be something more drastic. After all, the strategy effectively scraps the Pentagon’s last four-year plan, after only two years. It’s ironic that the Pentagon’s blueprint for the future might not be built to last.

http://www.wired.com/dangerroom/2012/01/contradictions-defense-plan/

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« Reply #5904 on: Jan 6th, 2012, 09:18am »

Cyberworm Gobbles Up 45,000 Facebook User Logins

The infamous "Ramnit" computer worm has taken on a new life as a piece of financial malware, and it's currently spreading through Facebook and scooping up thousands of users' login credentials.

Researchers at the Israeli firm Seculert found a variant of Ramnit that has stolen more than 45,000 Facebook users' credentials, mostly United Kingdom and French users, and infected approximately 800,000 machines from September to December 2011.

Spreading through wall posts with links to rigged websites, the new Ramnit worm takes a page from the Zeus Trojan, stealing people's Facebook account information and using it to target their online banking details.

Ramnit can "bypass two-factor authentication and transaction signing systems, gain remote access to financial institutions, compromise online banking sessions and penetrate several corporate networks," Seculert wrote in a blog post today (Jan. 5).

Read more: http://www.foxnews.com/scitech/2012/01/06/cyberworm-gobbles-up-45000-facebook-user-logins/#ixzz1igjmnUJz
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« Reply #5905 on: Jan 6th, 2012, 2:37pm »

on Jan 6th, 2012, 09:18am, Swamprat wrote:
Cyberworm Gobbles Up 45,000 Facebook User Logins

The infamous "Ramnit" computer worm has taken on a new life as a piece of financial malware, and it's currently spreading through Facebook and scooping up thousands of users' login credentials.

Researchers at the Israeli firm Seculert found a variant of Ramnit that has stolen more than 45,000 Facebook users' credentials, mostly United Kingdom and French users, and infected approximately 800,000 machines from September to December 2011.

Spreading through wall posts with links to rigged websites, the new Ramnit worm takes a page from the Zeus Trojan, stealing people's Facebook account information and using it to target their online banking details.

Ramnit can "bypass two-factor authentication and transaction signing systems, gain remote access to financial institutions, compromise online banking sessions and penetrate several corporate networks," Seculert wrote in a blog post today (Jan. 5).

Read more: http://www.foxnews.com/scitech/2012/01/06/cyberworm-gobbles-up-45000-facebook-user-logins/#ixzz1igjmnUJz


Geez!

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« Reply #5906 on: Jan 6th, 2012, 4:46pm »

Space.com


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About this Image

Multiple images of the International Space Station flying over the Houston area have been combined into one composite image to show the progress of the station as it crossed the face of the moon in the early evening of Jan. 4. The station, with six astronauts and cosmonauts currently aboard, was flying in an orbit at 390.8 kilometers (242.8 miles).

Credit: NASA

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« Reply #5907 on: Jan 7th, 2012, 08:56am »

New York Times

January 6, 2012
For Iranians Waylaid by Pirates, U.S. to the Rescue
By C. J. CHIVERS

ABOARD THE FISHING VESSEL AL MULAHI, in the Gulf of Oman — Senior Iranian military officials this week bluntly warned an American aircraft carrier that it would confront the “full force” of the Iranian military if it tried to re-enter the Persian Gulf.

On Friday, Fazel Ur Rehman, a 28-year-old Iranian fisherman, had a warmer greeting for the carrier task force.

“It is like you were sent by God,” said Mr. Rehman, huddled under a blanket in this vessel’s stern. “Every night we prayed for God to rescue us. And now you are here.”

In a naval action that mixed diplomacy, drama and Middle Eastern politics, the aircraft carrier John C. Stennis broke up a high-seas pirate attack on a cargo ship in the Gulf of Oman, then sailors from an American destroyer boarded the pirates’ mother ship and freed 13 Iranian hostages who had been held captive there for more than a month.

The rapidly unfolding events began Thursday morning when the pirates attacked a Bahamian-flagged ship, the motor vessel Sunshine, unaware that the Stennis was steaming less than eight miles away.

It ended Friday with the tables fully turned. The captured Somali pirates, 15 in all, were brought aboard the U.S.S. Kidd, an American destroyer traveling with the Stennis. They were then shuttled by helicopter to the aircraft carrier and locked up in its brig.

This fishing vessel and its crew, provided fuel and food by the Navy, then set sail for its home port of Chah Bahar, Iran.

The rescue, 210 miles off the coast of Iran, occurred against a tense political backdrop. On Tuesday the Iranian defense minister and a brigadier general threatened the Stennis with attack if it sought to return to the Persian Gulf, which it had left roughly a week before. The warning set up fears of a confrontation over the vital oil shipping lanes of the Strait of Hormuz.

None of that tension was evident at sea. The Sunshine, a 583-foot cargo ship carrying bulk cargo from Calais, France, to Bandar Abbas, Iran, continued its journey. The freed hostages, Iranian citizens, greeted the American sailors with wide-eyed relief.

Mahmed Younes, 28, the fishing vessel’s captain, said he and his crew had been captured roughly 45 days ago by pirates in a skiff, who boarded their 82-foot dhow and forced it to an anchorage in the northern Somali port of Xaafuun. There, the pirates took on provisions and more gunmen.

In late December the pirates, using their hostages to run the dhow, set back out to sea, hunting for a tanker or large cargo ship to capture and hold for ransom.

For several days, Al Mulahi roamed the Gulf of Oman, unmolested under its Iranian flag, the pirates and former hostages said. They saw several ships. But the pirates’ leader, Bashir Bhotan, 32, did not think any of them would command a high ransom. They let them pass.

“The pirates told us, ‘If you get us a good ship, we will let you go free,’ ” Captain Younes said. “We told them, ‘How can we get you a ship? We are fishermen, not hunters.’ ”

On Thursday morning, six of the pirates set out in a fiberglass skiff and found their quarry — the Sunshine, 100 miles from the shore of Oman. One of the pirates, Mohammed Mahmoud, 33, later said this was the type of vessel they would hope might fetch a ransom of several million dollars.

Brandishing a rocket-propelled grenade and several Kalashnikov rifles, they rushed alongside, threw a grappling hook and tried to lash a ladder to the Sunshine’s side. They hoped to scale the gunwales and seize the bridge.

Their plans unraveled immediately. As the Sunshine radioed for help, and tried to deter the boarding by spraying the pirates with fire hoses, the pirates were unable to board.

“Our ladder broke,” Mr. Mahmoud said.

Then an American helicopter appeared.

Neither the pirates nor the crew of the Sunshine had known it, but three Navy ships — the Stennis; the U.S.N.S. Rainier, a supply ship; and the U.S.S. Mobile Bay, a guided-missile cruiser — were steaming in formation a few miles away. The carrier was taking on provisions from the Rainier and had several helicopters in the air when the Sunshine radioed its distress call.

Aboard the carrier, Rear Adm. Craig S. Faller, who commands the carrier strike group, looked at the chart and radar images of the Sunshine’s location with something like disbelief. The Sunshine and the Stennis were only a few miles apart. “These might be the dumbest pirates ever,” he said.

He ordered a helicopter and the cruiser toward the Sunshine and other helicopters to investigate the radar images of other ships in the area, to search for the skiff’s possible mother ship.

Seeing the approaching aircraft, the pirates let the Sunshine pull away and tossed their weapons over the side, they said.

Aboard the carrier, the officers watched a video feed from the helicopter, showing the six men in T-shirts and tank tops in a small white boat, bobbing on the waves. For a few minutes the Somalis seemed unsure what to do. Then they put their hands atop their heads.

“They are surrendering, they are surrendering,” said Capt. Todd W. Malloy, the carrier strike group’s chief of staff. A boarding team from the Mobile Bay soon approached in an inflatable boat.

The pirates told them they were at sea “for fun,” the sailors said. There were no weapons on board and the Sunshine had steamed away. The Mobile Bay’s sailors began to take the pirates’ fingerprints and photographs for a biometric database.

Meanwhile, two other Navy helicopters had made four passes by Al Mulahi. The fishing vessel was about 30 miles away and carried a skiff identical to the pirate’s skiff on the dhow’s deck. But Al Mulahi was flying an Iranian flag, which made boarding the vessel politically delicate. There were no pirates visible on board.

The Navy quickly made a plan. The sailors on the boarding team gave the pirates oranges and water and set them free. But a helicopter from the Mobile Bay lingered outside of eyesight and followed the skiff’s movements with long-range optics.

The skiff headed toward the Iranian dhow.

The Kidd, a guided-missile destroyer serving as the command ship for Combined Task Force 151, an international counterpiracy team off the coast of Africa, steamed toward the dhow from 120 miles away. Several hours later, after the pirates boarded the dhow, the Kidd approached and called Al Mulahi on a bridge-to-bridge radio.

The ship asked if the dhow had any foreigners aboard. The dhow answered that it did not.

“While doing surveillance aerially, we had seen that there were Middle Easterners aboard and Somalis, and that socially they were not intermingling,” said Cmdr. Jennifer Ellinger, the top officer on the Kidd. “We could also see that some of the clothing hanging on board was Somali.”

A brief standoff ensued, as the ship and dhow bobbed alongside each other at sea. The Somalis were hiding and forcing the Iranian captain, a hostage, to speak to the American ship.

The ship had brought many of its crew who spoke different languages onto the bridge. One of the sailors, Chief Petty Officer Jagdeep Sidhu, speaks English, Punjabi, Urdu and Hindi.

Al Mulahi is from eastern Iran, near Pakistan, where many residents speak Urdu. He heard Captain Younes use an Urdu phrase, and was given the radio to hail him.

“At first he was hesitant to answer because he was afraid,” Chief Sidhu said. “But the Somalis could not understand Urdu, and he was able finally to muster enough courage and say: ‘We need help. Please help.’ ”

With the dhow’s request, the political uncertainties of boarding an Iranian-flagged vessel were lifted, because the ship’s master had asked for help. Rear Adm. Kaleem Shaukat, the Pakistani commanding Combined Task Force 151, gave permission, and late in the afternoon two inflatable boats from the Kidd ferried armed sailors to Al Mulahi.

They climbed aboard and discovered six Somalis hiding near the bow and nine more inside a cargo space. The Somalis did not resist, and were searched and moved to the bow, where they were held overnight.

A search of the dhow found four assault rifles and ammunition. Several of the Somalis, slumped with resignation, discussed their lives as pirates with a reporter and photographer traveling with the boarding team.

They said they knew the risks of being caught, but had been willing to try nonetheless. Mr. Mahmoud said he had three wives and seven children to feed. “In Somalia we have no jobs,” he said. “That’s the reason to go to sea. Our country has a civil war, and I don’t have skills.”

He said this had been his maiden voyage, a claim that could not be independently verified.

He said they had set sail with a rifle for every man and a single rocket-propelled grenade with 10 rockets, but, when the Navy approached from multiple directions, “we put them in the sea.”

As he sat smoking a cigarette a large liquid natural gas tanker steamed by on the horizon. “Ahhh,” he said. “L.N.G.”

He looked at it longingly. “Before we would have liked to catch that ship,” he said. Then he looked at the armed sailors standing about five yards away. He exhaled smoke and shook his head. “Not now,” he said.

On Friday morning, Mr. Bhotan, the leader of the pirate crew, looked dejectedly as his former charges were ferried away on inflatable boats to the Kidd, where they were showered, dressed in white suits and flex-cuffed before being flown to the carrier.

Al Mulahi, soon to be given fresh fuel from the Kidd for the journey home, was about to sail back to Iran. Mr. Bhotan said he did not know what would happen to him. “I am a prisoner,” he said.


http://www.nytimes.com/2012/01/07/world/middleeast/for-iranians-held-by-pirates-us-to-the-rescue.html?_r=1&hp

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« Reply #5908 on: Jan 7th, 2012, 09:23am »

Photo of the rescue in the article above.
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« Reply #5909 on: Jan 7th, 2012, 09:35am »

LA Times

Bombing in Syria capital kills as many as 26 and injures dozens

Terming it an 'escalation of terrorism' on the part of government foes, the Interior Ministry vows to strike back. Opponents of President Bashar Assad accuse the government of staging the bombing.

By Alexandra Zavis and Rima Marrouch, Los Angeles Times
6:26 PM PST, January 6, 2012

A bomb rocked the Syrian capital Friday, killing as many as 26 people, injuring dozens and leaving pools of blood, shards of glass and body parts in the streets, state media reported.

It was the second major attack in Damascus in as many weeks, the latest grim twist in a conflict that the United Nations says has left more than 5,000 people dead since March.

Terming it "a new escalation of terrorism" on the part of government opponents, the Interior Ministry vowed to strike back "with an iron fist."

Opponents of President Bashar Assad accused the government itself of staging the bombings to sully the reputation of protesters who have been staging mostly peaceful demonstrations, which they say have been met with gunfire, arrests, beatings and torture.

The latest attack came two days before an Arab League ministerial committee is scheduled to review the preliminary findings of an observer mission sent to Syria to monitor government compliance with regional demands to end the crackdown.

Opposition supporters have expressed mounting frustration with the mission, which they charge has done little but provide a cover for more violence. Activists said security forces killed as many as 35 people Friday, the start of the weekend in Syria and a day of major protests as Muslim worshipers spill out of mosques after midday prayers.

The Syrian National Council, the country's most prominent opposition bloc, urged the league to seek the assistance of the United Nations Security Council, saying Friday's bombing "clearly bear[s] the regime's fingerprints." The 22-member Arab League has threatened to go to the Security Council if the Syrian government does not fulfill its obligations under a league-negotiated peace plan to withdraw security forces from residential areas, release political prisoners and negotiate with its opponents.

Syrian officials counter that the bombings prove they are up against armed terrorists. Interior Minister Maj. Gen. Mohammad Ibrahim Shaar blamed a suicide bomber, who he said targeted an intersection in the central Midan neighborhood full of shops, pedestrians and cars with the aim of killing as many people as possible.

The official Syrian Arab News Agency said that at least 11 bodies were recovered, along with the unidentified remains of as many as 15 other people. At least 63 others, including police and civilians, were injured, SANA said.

State television aired video of a police bus with blood and shattered glass on the seats. Furious residents held up pieces of flesh to the camera.

"That's the freedom they want? What type of freedom is this?" one man yelled.

Damascus has been relatively sheltered from the unrest sweeping through large parts of the country. But the city has been on edge since a Dec. 23 attack in which authorities said two suicide car bombers targeting security agencies in the capital killed 44 people and injured 166. Authorities were quick to lay blame for that attack on Al Qaeda but did not immediately finger a specific suspect Friday.

Midan is one of the few neighborhoods in central Damascus that has seen regular antigovernment protests. Amjad, a local resident afraid to have his full name published, said the explosion took place near a police station in an area where security forces and militiamen gather before breaking up demonstrations.

He said he and a friend were headed to a nearby mosque when they heard the blast and rushed to the scene.

"There were bodies in the area and blood everywhere," he said. "It's so hard."

Amjad blamed the government the attack and he accused it of trying to divert the attention of the league observers from the crackdown. He noted that the bombings last month also took place on a Friday, the day that often sees the largest demonstrations and the highest death tolls.

Teams from the Arab League have visited the sites of both attacks.

What began as a mostly peaceful uprising against Assad has turned more violent in recent months, as a growing number of military defectors and other opposition supporters have taken up arms against the security forces.

Defectors fighting under the banner of the Free Syrian Army have claimed responsibility for deadly attacks on security installations and convoys. But a spokesman for the group denied any involvement in Friday's explosion.

"We strongly condemn the attack," said Maj. Maher Nuaimi, who was reached in Turkey. "It represents state terrorism from Bashar al-Assad and his gang."

Most foreign journalists are barred from reporting in Syria and local reporters are heavily restricted, making it almost impossible to verify the claims of either side.

"I don't doubt that the government might place a bomb just to send a message, but it would probably do it in a place that at least does not kill its own security people," said Rami Khouri, who heads the Issam Fares Institute for Public Policy and International Affairs at the American University of Beirut.

"The tragic thing is that you can probably pick three or four possible candidates as perpetrators and all three or four of them would be credible. It's a pretty grim symbol of the situation that Syria is in."


http://www.latimes.com/news/nationworld/world/la-fg-syria-explosions-20120107,0,852148.story

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