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 veryhotthread  Author  Topic: Stuff & Nonsense  (Read 15165 times)
WingsofCrystal
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xx Re: Stuff & Nonsense
« Reply #6060 on: Jan 28th, 2012, 09:14am »

Deadline Hollywood

Walt Disney Pictures Sued By Fired Bigwig
By NIKKI FINKE
Friday January 27, 2012 @ 3:57pm PST
Tags: Glen Lajeski, Hollywood firings, Walt Disney Pictures

EXCLUSIVE: Former EVP Music/Creative Marketing Glen Lajeski filed the lawsuit in Los Angeles Superior Court today alleging breach of contract. It claims that he was terminated without warning or explanation by Walt Disney Pictures 2 years before his employment pact was due to expire and without providing him any opportunity to cure.

Lajeski began working for Disney in 1996 as VP of Music Marketing. Among his credits, he spearheaded the unexpected success of the Coen Brothers’ O Brother, Where Art Thou? soundtrack which won Grammy and Country Music awards. He also had success with soundtracks for films like Coyote Ugly, Pirates Of The Caribbean, Dangerous Minds, and Armageddon. Lajeski’s lawsuit says that early success prompted top execs to request his services on music marketing for the animation and direct-to-video film divisions. That’s when his work on the Cars soundtrack went platinum. Soon Lajeski was responsible for “initiating a new system of coordination among all the divisions at Disney using music (including live action, music publishing, record labels, animation, ABC-TV, and Direct-To-Video) in order to make communications between the divisions more efficient and cost effective and reducing unnecessary overlap between divisions. This initiative resulting in sigbnificant savings for Disney and has been studio-wide ever since.” Based on his continuing success, Lajeski was promoted to EVP and entered into the first of several multi-year employment agreements with Walt Disney Studios Motion Picture Production.

Lajeski’s most recent employment contract with Disney began on January 2, 2008 and wasn’t supposed to expire until January 1, 2013.

http://www.deadline.com/2012/01/walt-disney-pictures-sued-by-fired-top-exec/

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« Reply #6061 on: Jan 28th, 2012, 09:21am »

Forbes

1/27/2012 @ 2:34PM
DARPA-Funded Hacker's Tiny $50 Spy Computer Hides In Offices, Drops From Drones

Even more embarrassing than a student discovering your GPS tracking device on his car, as the FBI found out last year, is having to ask him to give the expensive piece of equipment back.

So security researcher Brendan O’Connor is trying a different approach to spy hardware: building a sensor-equipped surveillance-capable computer that’s so cheap it can be sacrificed after one use, with off-the-shelf parts that anyone can buy and assemble for less than fifty dollars.

At the Shmoocon security conference Friday in Washington D.C., O’Connor plans to present the F-BOMB, or Falling or Ballistically-launched Object that Makes Backdoors. Built from just the hardware in a commercially-available PogoPlug mini-computer, a few tiny antennae, eight gigabytes of flash memory and some 3D-printed plastic casing, the F-BOMB serves as 3.5 by 4 by 1 inch spy computer. And O’Connor has designed the cheap gadgets to dropped from a drone, plugged inconspicuously into a wall socket, thrown over a barrier, or otherwise put into irretrievable positions to quietly collect data and send it back to the owner over any available Wifi network. With PogoPlugs currently on sale at Amazon for $25, O’Connor built his prototypes with gear that added up to just $46 each.

“If some target is surrounded by bad men with guns, you don’t want to have to retrieve this, but you also don’t want to have to pay four or five hundred dollars for every use,” says O’Connor. “The idea is that it’s as close to free as possible. So you can throw a bunch of these sensors at a target and get away with losing a couple nodes in the process.”
Homemade as it may look, the F-BOMB is more than a hacker hobby. O’Connor says his one-man security consultancy Malice Afterthought received a Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency contract earlier this month to develop the devices as part of the Cyber Fast Track program, which awards small sums to inventors.

Despite its name, O’Connor says the F-BOMB is designed to be a platform for all sorts of applications on its Linux operating system. Outfit it with temperature or humidity sensors, for instance, and it can be used for meteorological research or other innocent data-collecting. But install some Wifi-cracking software or add a $15 GPS module, and it can snoop on data networks or track a target’s location, O’Connor adds. As is often the case with these kinds of hacker projects, he says the devices are only intended for penetration testing–finding security flaws in clients’ networks in order to fix them–and wouldn’t comment on what DARPA might do with the technology.

That hasn’t stopped the 26-year old researcher from coming up with a few clever ways to deliver or hide the tiny spy computers. One version attaches to the Parrot Drone, an iPhone-controllable quadcopter, sucking power off the drone’s rechargeable battery and allowing the user to hover over a target, land it on a roof, or drop the F-BOMB from a hook attachment on the drone.

Another version fits inside a carbon monoxide detector, and can be plugged into a wall socket to hide in plain sight inside a target’s building. (As shown above) The most basic version of the F-BOMB comes with a module of AA batteries that allow for a few hours of use, though O’Connor says he’s working on versions with more longevity.

“It can fit whatever use case you want,” he says. “Put it in a box of stale Triscuits in the office kitchen, and no one will touch it. Or hide it in a carbon monoxide detector and you can leave it there for months.”

O’Connor, who formerly worked for the DARPA-funded contractor SET and as a graduate student in John Hopkins’ sensor research lab, says he was inspired by a pair of talks at last summer’s hacker conference Defcon. One focused on systems for firing camera projectiles, while the other showed off the WASP, or Wireless Aerial Surveillance Platform, an adapted air force flying drone equipped with gear for cracking Wifi networks and snooping on cell-phones.

photos and more after the jump
http://www.forbes.com/sites/andygreenberg/2012/01/27/darpa-funded-hackers-tiny-50-spy-computer-hides-in-offices-drops-from-drones/

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xx Re: Stuff & Nonsense
« Reply #6062 on: Jan 28th, 2012, 10:50am »

Another perspective......



Can the Economy Bear What Oil Prices Have in Store?

ScienceDaily (Jan. 26, 2012) — Stop wrangling over global warming and instead reduce fossil-fuel use for the sake of the global economy.

That's the message from two scientists, one from the University of Washington and one from the University of Oxford in the United Kingdom, who say in the current issue of the journal Nature (Jan. 26) that the economic pain of a flattening oil supply will trump the environment as a reason to curb the use of fossil fuels.

"Given our fossil-fuel dependent economies, this is more urgent and has a shorter time frame than global climate change," says James W. Murray, UW professor of oceanography, who wrote the Nature commentary with David King, director of Oxford's Smith School of Enterprise and the Environment.

The "tipping point" for oil supply appears to have occurred around 2005, says Murray, who compared world crude oil production with world prices going back to 1998. Before 2005, supply of regular crude oil was elastic and increased in response to price increases. Since then, production appears to have hit a wall at 75 million barrels per day in spite of price increases of 15 percent each year.

"As a result, prices swing wildly in response to small changes in demand," the co-authors wrote. "Others have remarked on this step change in the economies of oil around the year 2005, but the point needs to be lodged more firmly in the minds of policy makers."

For those who argue that oil reserves have been increasing, that more crude oil will be available in the future, the co-authors wrote: "The true volume of global proved reserves is clouded by secrecy; forecasts by state oil companies are not audited and appear to be exaggerated. More importantly, reserves often take 6 -- 10 years to drill and develop before they become part of the supply, by which time older fields have become depleted."

Production at oil fields around the world is declining between 4.5 percent and 6.7 percent per year, they wrote.

"For the economy, it's production that matters, not how much oil might be in the ground," Murray says. In the U.S., for example, production as a percentage of total reserves went from 9 percent to 6 percent in the last 30 years.

"We've already gotten the easy oil, the oil that can be produced cheaply," he says. "It used to be we'd drill a well and the oil would flow out, now we have to go through all these complicated and expensive procedures to produce the oil."

The same is true of alternative sources such as tar sands or "fracking" for shale gas, Murray says, where supplies may be exaggerated and production is expensive. Take the promise of shale gas and oil: A New York Times investigative piece last June reported that "the gas may not be as easy and cheap to extract from shale formations deep underground as the companies are saying, according to hundreds of industry e-mails and internal documents and an analysis of data from thousands of wells."

Production at shale gas wells can drop 60 to 90 percent in the first year of operation, according to a world expert on shale gas who was one of the sources for the commentary piece. Murray and King built their commentary using data and information from more than 15 international and U.S. government reports, peer-reviewed journal articles, reports from groups such as the National Research Council and Brookings Institution and association findings.

Stagnant oil supplies and volatile prices take a toll on the world economy. Of the 11 recessions in the U.S. since World War II, ten were preceded by a spike in oil prices, the commentary noted.

"Historically, there has been a tight link between oil production and global economic growth," the co-authors wrote. "If oil production can't grow, the implication is that the economy can't grow either."

Calculations from the International Monetary Fund, for example, say that to achieve a 4 percent growth in the global economy in the next five years, oil production must increase about 3 percent a year.

"Yet to achieve that will require either an heroic increase in oil production, ... increased efficiency of oil use, more energy-efficient growth or rapid substitution of other fuel sources," according to the commentary. "Economists and politicians continually debate policies that will lead to a return to economic growth. But because they have failed to recognize that the high price of energy is a central problem, they haven't identified the necessary solutions: weaning society off fossil fuel."

The commentary concludes: "This will be a decades-long transformation and we need to start immediately.
Emphasizing the short-term economic imperative from oil prices must be enough to push governments into action now."

http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2012/01/120126223609.htm?utm_source=feedburner&utm_medium=email&utm_campaign=Feed%3A+sciencedaily%2Fmatter_energy+%28ScienceDaily%3A+Matter+%26+Energy+News%29
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xx Re: Stuff & Nonsense
« Reply #6063 on: Jan 28th, 2012, 10:57am »

Swampy,
In two words.....HELL NO!

In my state I have seen three trucking companies with around 170 people out of work permanently and two construction companies go belly up due to just the cost of fuel! My own company is struggling with fuel use and the other problems of the economy due to the cost of crude because of all the differing products that come from oil!

There is just no way we as a nation can continue to ignore our own resources and not start to use them. Lead time for most of this is over ten years and in that time we may just cease to exist as a thriving populace. We may well end up as a third world economy if we don't wake up and see the truth of this and react!

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« Reply #6064 on: Jan 28th, 2012, 2:00pm »

Lone, I don't think these scientists are advocating that we NOT utilize our OWN reserves. They are simply saying we need more emphasis on finding energy sources to replace oil and gas.

I agree we need to fully tap our own resource in the mean time. One area where that seems to be happening is North Dakota. The following assessment is eerily reminiscent of the California Gold Rush!

Swamp


Oil Issues from Western ND

Source KFGO

A meeting was held of the ND Sheriff’s & Deputies Association in Bismarck

As part of this meeting we had an opportunity to sit down with Law Enforcement from western ND to discuss what they are going through as a result of the oil industry impact. Here is a summary of points made:

1. Currently there are a total of 84 companies involved in the oil industry in western ND.

2. It takes between 2000 and 2200 semi loads of water per well. Currently there are 258 wells in progress with so many scheduled it is hard to determine the exact amount.

3. Traffic accidents, especially fatal traffic accidents are of very high concern. At one location on Highway 85 south of Williston, a traffic count was conducted in October of 2011. In one 24 hour period of time there where 29,000 vehicle through the intersection looked at with 60% of the traffic being semi’s.

4. Traffic is typically backed up for ½ to ¾ of a mile. One of the guys stated that one day last week he sat at an intersection on Highway 85 for about 30 minutes to get a big enough opening to cross over.

5. They have closed the weigh scale house because it was causing such a traffic jamb that it was closing the roadway.

6. Rent in Williston currently is: $ 2000 for a one bedroom to $ 3400 for a three bedroom.

7. They have no more hook ups for campers any where in the area.

8. Williams County allows three campers per farmstead, the farmers almost all have three campers on their property and are charging $ 800 per camper per month for rent.

9. Wal Mart in Williston no longer stocks shelves, they bring out pallets of merchandise at night, and set it in the isles, people then take off the pallets what they want.

10. On 1-1-12, the Williston Wal Mart had 148 campers overnight in their parking lot.

11. Willams County wrecked a pickup and ended up bringing it to Bismarck for repairs because there no available body shops to do the work. Williams County has purchased a trailer and has started to bring vehicles to the Bismarck area for repairs. Willaims County took a pickup in for ball joints and front brakes, the shop charged them $ 2800 for the repairs.

12. Williston and Williams County now produces more taxable sales than any other area in ND.

13. The Williams County jail has increased booking by 150%. With a 100% increase in inmate population. Bonds of $ 5k to $ 10 K are typically paid with cash out of pocket. The Williams County Sheriff stated that a couple of week ago he received a $ 63,000 bond in cash carried into the jail in a plastic Wal Mart bag.

14. Williams County Sheriff’s Department has more than doubled in staff over the last two years, they are now buying trailer houses that come up for sale to rent to newly hired deputies.

15. Williams County new starting salary with the academy is $ 46,000 plus 100% of all benefits paid.

16. They are in a continuous hiring cycle, they have no set budget at this time, the Sheriff has been told to manage his office to the best of his abilities and keep the Commission updated, but do not worry about the budget.

17. The Williston McDonalds just announced that they will pay $ 15 an hour, a $ 500 immediate sign on bonus and a single medical plan paid for.

18. The restaurants are full and with limited staff to work in them they usually just have the drive through open. The restaurants that have inside seating are now an hour wait at all times.

19. Law Enforcement in the Williams County area cannot provide training to staff due to time constraints and no location to hold training.

20. The local Motel 6 in Williston now rents rooms fro $ 129.95 per night.

21. Law Enforcement no longer does any proactive work (school programs, community services, house checks) they do very little traffic related issues as well, they just to from call to call. Bars fights are one of the biggest issues.

22. Other law enforcement issues include the strip clubs. The local clubs have now started what is called “babe buses”. These buses go out to areas and pick up people and bus them back and forth to the strip clubs, the buses have poles on them as well as live entertainment.

23. Drug problems are immense, and they are seeing narcotics that they have never seen in the area before, like black tar heroin.

24. The civil process section of the Sheriff’s Department use to average 1800 paper a year, they are now doing 4500 processes a year.

25. Law Enforcement said that they make as many Driving under the influence arrest at 10 Am as they do at midnight.

26. Illegal aliens have become a huge problem, especially getting the proper authorities do remove them from the Country.

27. The current thought from the oil companies is that the area will continue to grow as it has over the past two years for the next five years and stay for ten years. At the end of the ten years they feel the communities will drop in population somewhat.

28. The current thought is that the oil companies will be drilling wells on every 1280 acres of leased land, this way they have tied up the land and do not have to release the property.

29. The Williston General Motors dealership has now become the number 1 seller of Corvettes in the upper Midwest.

30. The bigger oil companies are doing very well in hiring good people. They run checks and make sure the people they hire are drug free; it is the smaller companies that are having trouble-hiring people that will look the other way on hiring issues.

31. They said they do not know anybody anymore. The Sheriff of Williams County he use to be able to go to Wal Mart and not be walk very far without knowing somebody, now he does not know any of the people in there.

32. Many of the local citizens are taking retirement and moving out of the area.

33. They have an extreme amount of alcohol abuse going on. They have more calls than ever of drunk people trying to get into houses, to find out they are at the wrong place.

34. Minot population has grown by a projected 9000 people since the completion of the census. Minot is expecting to reach a population of 75,000 in the nest five years.

35. Trinity Hospital in Minot has just hired 115 nurses from the Philippians to work at the hospital, as they cannot get enough local nurses to apply.
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xx Re: Stuff & Nonsense
« Reply #6065 on: Jan 29th, 2012, 09:21am »

LA Times

Brown ordered firing of regulator who took hard line on oil firms

The dispute centered on a risky method of extraction. California's governor has sued oil companies throughout his career, but he now talks of tossing cumbersome regulations to revive the economy.

By Michael J. Mishak, Los Angeles Times
January 29, 2012
Reporting from Sacramento

Late last year, Gov. Jerry Brown pushed for a top state regulator to ease key requirements for companies seeking to tap California's oil. The official balked.

Relaxing rules on underground injection, a risky method of oil extraction common in the state, would violate environmental laws, wrote Derek Chernow, then head of the Department of Conservation, in a memo obtained by The Times.

The process, in which a rush of steam, water and chemicals flushes oil from old wells, had been linked to spills, eruptions and a Kern County worker's death. The federal government had asked the state to tighten its regulations, but the oil industry complained that the stringent rules were killing jobs.

A week after Chernow wrote his memo, Brown had him fired, along with a deputy, Elena Miller. The governor appointed replacements who agreed to stop subjecting every injection project to a top-to-bottom review before issuing a permit.

Brown's decision to side with energy interests over his regulators reflects the economic and political pressures on the governor during his return engagement in Sacramento. The economy is still sluggish in the wake of a deep recession, and unemployment remains high.

Although Brown has fought offshore drilling and sued oil companies throughout his career, making him a favorite of environmentalists, he now talks of tossing cumbersome regulations to revive the economy. The oil industry, in particular, employs tens of thousands of Californians, many of them in Kern County, where the jobless rate is 14.5%.

The governor is also seeking support from corporate interests, which complain that California is over-regulated, for his proposed ballot initiative to raise taxes. This month, Occidental Petroleum Corp., the largest onshore crude producer in the continental U.S., gave $250,000 to the signature-gathering effort.

Administration officials said the eased permit rules were part of Brown's larger effort to streamline regulations and spur job creation. The ousted regulators, they said, had taken a "one-size-fits-all" approach to permitting in a state with vast geological differences, sitting on applications for months and being unresponsive to industry.

"We have to balance good environmental protection and economic growth," said John Laird, Brown's secretary of natural resources. "The law allows discretion on how you best protect the environment and move the applications along…. Our goal is to make things run more efficiently."

Chernow and Miller declined to comment.

Underground injection is used to coax oil from depleted wells. Because California's oil fields have been heavily worked for decades, the method is responsible for most of the state's onshore production.

But the procedure came under the scrutiny of Chernow and Miller, who were brought aboard under former Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger in the wake of a scandal in the oil and gas agency. Officials there had been trading in stocks of the oil companies they regulated, among other violations.

Armed with an internal review that found lax monitoring of injection projects, Chernow and Miller in 2010 stripped field offices of their power to approve permits and strengthened oversight in Sacramento.

Catherine Reheis-Boyd, president of the Western States Petroleum Assn., a lobbying group, said regulators began requesting so much information about every project — "an infinite do-loop" — that they effectively halted production for some operators.

The fight intensified last June, when a Chevron worker died after being swallowed feet-first into a sinkhole of boiling fluids. Investigators for the oil and gas agency blamed the accident on steam injection. Miller issued emergency orders ceasing operations near the damaged well.

In July, the federal EPA added its voice to concerns about underground injection in California. In an audit, it found that regulators were not adequately protecting potential drinking water and urged them to tighten extraction standards.

Oil companies, which wanted to expand work in California after unrest in the Middle East and North Africa had hurt output, were furious over the tighter permit requirements.

"We've been in business since the turn of the century, and then all of a sudden everything we do out there is not right," said Les Clark, executive vice president of the Independent Oil Producers Agency, a trade group. "It starts snowballing, and before too long you're not going to be in business because the regulations are too costly and too complicated to deal with."

A handful of state and federal lawmakers from oil-rich Kern County agreed, lobbying Brown and administration officials to intervene.

State Sen. Michael Rubio, a Democrat from East Bakersfield, said in an interview that the permitting process was "broken" and that regulators were taking a "one-sided" approach to underground injection. "In government, we have an obligation to have an open-door policy and have input from all sides," he said.

Oil contractors began a letter-writing campaign, flooding the administration with complaints that the longer permit process was threatening their livelihoods. Occidental and Berry Petroleum Co. executives groused about the delays to analysts in their earnings calls, and Berry's chief executive officer said his Denver-based company would redirect investment outside California.

By October, Brown had asked that officials develop a permitting shortcut. According to Chernow's memo, the administration proposed allowing oil companies to begin drilling and injecting wells after submitting basic documents; they would be required to complete a full engineering review later and correct any problems after the fact.

Chernow argued that the proposal violated state and federal rules requiring a complete review before injection can begin and warned that it could open the state up to lawsuits. Environmentalists, he said, "will argue, correctly, that the laws … are intended to prevent damage before it occurs," he wrote.

Administration officials said they ultimately abandoned that proposal but agreed to the industry's request that some projects be green-lighted without a full review. The officials have returned much of the permitting power to district offices, saying Miller's headquarters mandate caused a backlog and created an unnecessary burden for the agency. They said at least 77 well permits that were on hold as of Nov. 15 have since been approved.

Reheis-Boyd of the Western States Petroleum Assn. praised the agency's new direction, saying it now has a "clear pathway for people to get permits and proceed with drilling in this state."

"The communications lines are very open," she said.

Brown boasted recently about the expedited permits. At a solar energy farm in a Sacramento suburb Jan. 13, he reaffirmed his commitment to all forms of energy development.

"It's not easy," Brown said. "There are going to be screw-ups. There are going to be bankruptcies. There will be indictments and there will be deaths. But we're going to keep going."

http://www.latimes.com/news/local/la-me-oil-20120129,0,1986503.story

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« Reply #6066 on: Jan 29th, 2012, 09:26am »

Washington Post

For CIA family, a deadly suicide bombing leads to painful divisions

By Ian Shapira, Published: January 28

The call from the Central Intelligence Agency came on a December afternoon in 2009 while Gary Anderson was skiing with his three children. It’s about your wife, the agency man said.

Standing inside Eagle Rock ski lodge in Pennsylvania, Anderson pleaded for details. The CIA official said simply: Where are you? We’ll meet you.

Anderson suspected dreadful news about Jennifer Matthews, his college sweetheart, his wife of 22 years and a CIA operative on assignment almost 7,000 miles away in Afghanistan. With several hours until the CIA meeting, Anderson and his three children — then 12, 9 and 6 — hit the slopes for one more hour. The father wanted to cling a little longer to normalcy, to a life between before and after.

Finally, the Fredericksburg family got into their silver minivan and headed to a nearby motel. There, in a sterile conference room, CIA officials told Anderson the news: His wife, one of the CIA’s top al-Qaeda experts, had just been killed in an explosion at a base in Khost province, in eastern Afghanistan. There was no mention of a double agent, no indication that six other CIA operatives had died in the deadliest attack on agency personnel in decades.

Anderson, who is commenting publicly on the loss of his wife for the first time, was so stunned that he couldn’t formulate questions, except: Are you sure she’s dead?

Then he summoned his children, who were waiting outside.

“I just said to them, ‘Your mom has died.’ The two oldest fell apart. They started crying,” he remembered. “One of them asked, ‘Is this really true?’ I just kind of hugged them. And then the craziness started after that.”

* * *

A Jordanian double agent’s suicide bombing of the CIA base received days of media coverage. The CIA had been tricked into welcoming one of al-Qaeda’s own onto the agency’s base, enabling him to detonate a vest laden with explosives. On television, pundits and agency retirees called the incident a catastrophe, Langley’s “Pearl Harbor.” Initially, commentators did not utter Matthews’s name, but they did describe the Khost base chief as a “mother of three.” Anderson felt that his wife, however anonymously, was bearing all the blame.

Five months after her burial at Arlington National Cemetery, Matthews’s name became public at a CIA ceremony honoring fallen employees.

Then, in October 2010, the CIA released results of the agency’s internal investigation into the Khost attack, fueling another round of stories that Matthews was partially responsible. Matthews and her team, the report concluded, failed to follow the agency’s procedures for vetting informants. One of Matthews’s severest critics was her uncle, Dave Matthews, a retired CIA official who had helped inspire his niece to join the agency.

Now Anderson and other relatives who once agreed not to speak with the media are breaking their silence to talk about Matthews’s life and death and about how her promotion to a perilous CIA posting has divided them.

On the surface, Anderson, a chemist and devoted churchgoer, accepts his wife’s fate even as he continues to mourn her death at the age of 45. “I loved being married to her,” he said. “She was a great lady.”

But underneath, Anderson, 50, is seething. He’s angry with the teachings in the Koran that he believes incited the suicide bomber to kill Americans; he’s upset with the CIA for failing to realize that a prized informant was a double agent willing to blow himself up; and he’s hurt by the legion of critics, including Matthews’s uncle, who have questioned her qualifications for the job she was doing.

“The suicide bomber was a bad guy, but at the time, nobody could clearly see it,” Anderson said. “I think the agency prepared my wife to be a chief of the Khost base, but not in terms of preparing for this asset. This guy wasn’t vetted.” And the mother of his three children is dead because of it.

* * *

From the start, Dave Matthews, 74, tried to talk his niece out of going to Afghanistan. He had served during the 1960s in the agency’s secret war in Laos and didn’t think that Matthews, whom he says he loved like a daughter, had the training for a war-zone posting. But she wouldn’t listen.

Jennifer Matthews hadn’t always aspired to be a CIA operative. In 1986, she graduated with degrees in broadcast journalism and political science from Cedarville University, a small Christian college in Ohio where she met Anderson. Back then, she was an avid runner with auburn hair who believed deeply in God but also reveled in arguing about theology and politics.

“There were a lot of submissive types there,” Anderson recalled. “She wasn’t that way.”

In 1987, they married and moved to the Washington area, where she wanted to find a job that would enable her to serve God and have an impact on the world.

She sent an application to Langley and landed a job as an intelligence analyst in 1989. Her first assignment involved interpreting aerial photographs from Iran, said Anderson, who was excited about his wife’s new career but quickly realized that he would have to abide by a certain spousal code: Don’t expect too many details about her work.

Her uncle was proud that Matthews was following in his footsteps and thought that his beloved niece was destined to vault up the the agency’s hierarchy. “Hell, I thought she’d be the director of the CIA,” he said. “But then, she got sucked into operations.”

* * *

Matthews became fixated on Osama bin Laden long before most Americans had ever heard of him. By the mid-1990s, she had been assigned to Alec Station, a special unit based in Northern Virginia that was responsible for targeting al-Qaeda and other terrorist groups.

“Jennifer was one of the visionaries who recognized the threat of al-Qaeda,” said one of Matthews’s colleagues, a CIA counterterrorism officer made available by the agency. The officer works undercover and cannot be named.

Al-Qaeda’s attacks on U.S. embassies in Africa in 1998 intensified Matthews’s job. “They were understaffed and overworked,” Anderson said. “It was demoralizing for her. Pre-9/11, they knew something big was going to happen.”

On Sept. 11, 2001, Matthews and Anderson were in Switzerland on vacation when they learned about the attacks on the Pentagon and the World Trade Center. Anderson won’t describe how she reacted. “It was just horror,” he said.

The attacks fueled her. Inside a tiny conference room in Tysons Corner, Matthews led a squad of CIA officers who were working nonstop to hunt down al-Qaeda’s leaders. She helped make the first big catch, an al-Qaeda logistics planner known as Abu Zubaida.

She flew to Thailand for Abu Zubaida’s interrogation and witnessed him being waterboarded, according to “The Triple Agent,” a book by Washington Post reporter Joby Warrick that explores the Khost attack.

Matthews was known at the agency as a forceful, opinionated person, unafraid to speak candidly to superiors. “She didn’t tolerate idiots,” Anderson said. “But she was diplomatic, too. She was good at reading people.”

Yet just a few years after the terrorist attacks, Matthews suffered a surprising comedown. The CIA had launched a probe to determine why the agency failed to prevent the Sept. 11 attacks. The report, only partially released, recommended disciplinary action against Matthews and other agency managers for not warning the FBI about two al-Qaeda operatives who had entered the country in 2000.

Although the names were never made public and then-CIA Director Porter J. Goss declined to take any disciplinary action, the report infuriated Matthews and her colleagues. But the humiliation of being named in the report didn’t derail her career.

In 2005, Matthews received a plum assignment, the London station, where she served as chief counterterrorism liaison to the British intelligence services. Anderson and their three children went with her, spending four years in a rowhouse near the U.S. Embassy and Hyde Park. It was a comfortable life. A nanny cooked. On Saturday nights, they would eat dinner while watching “Doctor Who,” the British science-fiction show.

In early 2009, she noticed a job posting for a one-year assignment tracking down al-Qaeda leaders as chief of Forward Operating Base Chapman in Khost. She would work with CIA-funded Afghan commandos to pursue targets. She would help coordinate drone attacks.

Her husband and children would have to return to Fredericksburg, but the Khost job could bump her up the CIA pay scale and lead to promotions. Most of all, Anderson said, his wife felt obligated, given her cushy four-year London gig.

“She asked me what I thought, and I just said: ‘This sounds really good. You’d be really good at it,’ ” Anderson recalled.

Charles E. Allen, a former assistant director at the CIA, who helped lead an independent review of the Khost attack at the agency’s behest, said Matthews was “haunted” by the blame she received after the Sept. 11 attacks and thought the hardship posting could help erase that stain.

Her husband did broach the subject of roadside bombs. But she stressed that the base would be surrounded by the military. He also sensed that leaving their children weighed on her. “But she didn’t verbalize those concerns to me,” Anderson said. “She knew I was capable and that I could take care of stuff.”

By April 2009, the job was hers. There was only one person left to hash it out with: Dave Matthews, her uncle.

* * *

more after the jump
http://www.washingtonpost.com/local/for-cia-family-a-deadly-suicide-bombing-leads-to-painful-divisions/2012/01/20/gIQAyJGVYQ_story.html?hpid=z2

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« Reply #6067 on: Jan 29th, 2012, 09:45am »

Wired Danger Room

Pentagon Confused by Its Own ‘Subs vs. Terrorists’ Plan
By Spencer Ackerman
January 27, 2012 | 5:06 pm
Categories: Nukes

The Pentagon has a dream that it won’t give up: blasting any target on the planet with a submarine’s missile. Nothing seems to stop it, not even years of protest that the project could accidentally spark a nuclear war. But now, the Pentagon swears, it’s figured out how to launch the missiles without triggering any inadvertent Armageddon, and is pushing the concept in its new budget.

One problem: No one at the Pentagon can seem to agree on what the latest iteration of this so-called “Conventional Prompt Global Strike” concept really is.

Here’s the basic problem with the plan. A ballistic missile fired with a conventional warhead flies in the same trajectory as a ballistic missile fired with a nuclear warhead. Seeing any such missile in the air could prompt a panic in Moscow, Beijing or another nuclear-armed capitol. So while Washington thinks it’s striking a terrorist training camp or an enemy weapons silo, it might prompt someone else to let loose the world’s most dangerous weapons.

But now the Pentagon’s budget, unveiled Thursday, returns to the much-derided concept, calling for a “design of a conventional prompt strike option for submarines.” Unveiling the decision, Defense Secretary Leon Panetta beamed, “the Navy will invest in a design that will allow new Virginia class submarines to be modified to carry more cruise missiles and develop an undersea conventional prompt strike option.”

That seemed to suggest that Panetta expected the sub strikes to use cruise missiles instead of ballistic missiles. That would probably take care of the problem of nuclear confusion, since cruise and ballistic missiles fly across the sky differently. But it might not be a truly prompt or global strike option, since cruise missiles don’t have the range or speed that ballistic missiles do. Plus, it would take time to get a sub into position to fire.

But Gen. Martin Dempsey, the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, muddled the issue by suggesting the Pentagon actually had a different, tested, technological fix in mind. Asked during Thursday’s budget briefing how to avoid confusing the Russians and the Chinese with Conventional Prompt Global Strike, Dempsey said that “technology” had changed “the trajectory that would be required to deliver” a conventionally-armed ballistic missile. So had “the speed with which these systems can move. And therefore, you can lower the trajectory, and therefore avoid the confusion you’re talking about in terms of it being mistaken for an ICBM [intercontinental ballistic missile] with a nuclear warhead.”

That’s a dubious proposition. While there are design alternatives in the works, none of them are anywhere close to weapons-ready. These are still very much research experiments. No sub will get one for years and years, if ever.

Most of the experiments center around a new type of warhead for the ballistic missile: a hypersonic glider. Unlike a old-school warhead — which pretty much goes into space on top of the missile, and then comes crashing straight down to its target — a glider drops into the atmosphere and then flies parallel to the Earth. If a standard warhead has an upside-down-U-shaped trajectory, the hypersonic glider’s looks like a backwards-L. That’s called “boost-glide” in missile jargon.

Or at least that’s the theory. The tech, despite Dempsey’s assurances, isn’t there yet in practice. A Darpa initiative to create a Mach-20 glider was kind of a #fail. (Like, actually. Darpa live-tweeted its disappointing test this August.)

The Army, using a different design — one that looked more like a typical missile, not the slice of deadly deep dish pizza that Darpa developed — succeeded. But its Mach-8 glider faced an easier test than Darpa’s did. In November, the Advanced Hypersonic Weapon boosted off from Hawaii and descended on its target in the Kwajalein Atoll in the South Pacific, 2,400 miles away. That’s about 60 percent as far as the Darpa glider was trying to go, and at 40 percent of the speed. Still, it’s something to score on conventional prompt global strike’s ledger.

Only it may not be something the subs can capitalize on. The missile tubes on U.S. subs are too small to launch the Advanced Hypersonic Weapon, let alone Darpa’s Mach-20 glider. The agency did have plans for a hypersonic glider that could fit inside a sub’s launch tube. But that “ArcLight” program was officially canceled before it could, you should excuse the expression, get off of the ground.

Nevertheless, it seems that some in the Pentagon are, in fact, talking about putting the gliders on subs. “The conventional prompt strike concept from a submarine could be an intermediate range boost glide capability,” says Lt. Col. Melinda Morgan, a Pentagon spokeswoman. Panetta, Morgan says, didn’t mean that the subs will use cruise missiles for Conventional Prompt Global Strike; the extra cruise missiles will be used for other missions.

Perhaps the Pentagon is looking to revive ArcLight. Perhaps the Pentagon is hinging its hopes for a sub-based long range strike on a technology family that’s passed one (relatively) easy test. Or perhaps Morgan and Dempsey are wrong and the idea really is to go with Panetta’s cruise missiles.

But the moment, confusion reigns. And confusion has characterized the project almost since the Obama administration resurrected it from the Bush administration’s failed plans. Last year, Air Force generals and civilians repeatedly contradicted each other on whether gliders, ballistic missiles or some combination of the two would be the centerpiece of the global-strike project.

And there’s another, deeper problem. Nuclear-armed nations like Russia might not care if a missile — ballistic, cruise or hypersonic — carries a conventional warhead. After all, the point of the strike capability is to let the U.S. hit anywhere on earth in mere hours or less.

“The Russians don’t care — they’re worried about it even if it’s conventional,” explains Tom Collina of the Arms Control Association. “They think it’s a strategic conventional capability,and it’s a complete mismatch in the discussion.”

Even if the Pentagon figures out what kind of sub-launched strike it’s really talking about, there’s no technological fix for that.

http://www.wired.com/dangerroom/2012/01/global-strike-returns/

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« Reply #6068 on: Jan 29th, 2012, 09:49am »

Hollywood Reporter

David Fincher Refuses to Cut 'Girl With the Dragon Tattoo,' India Release Canceled
8:48 AM PST 1/28/2012
by Nyay Bhushan

NEW DELHI – The much-awaited Daniel Craig starrer The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo won't be seeing an India release as the film's director David Fincher has refused to cut some scenes as specified by India's Central Board of Film Certification (CBFC).

The scenes in question include two lovemaking scenes between the film's principal female lead Lisbeth Salander (Rooney Mara) and Mikael Blomkvist (Craig) ; a lesbian scene featuring Lisbeth and a woman she meets at a bar; a scene where Lisbeth is raped and tortured. In a follow-up scene, she tortures her tormentor as a video of her being assaulted plays in the background.

“Sony Pictures will not be releasing The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo in India. The Censor Board has adjudged the film unsuitable for public viewing in its unaltered form and, while we are committed to maintaining and protecting the vision of the director, we will, as always, respect the guidelines set by the Board,” said a statement released by Mumbai-based Sony Pictures India which had earlier announced that the film was to open here on Feb. 10.

According to media reports here Saturday, a CBFC official was quoted stating that “the protocol usually is to blur out the scenes that have frontal nudity.” But a spokesperson from Sony Pictures was also quoted stating that the scenes were specifically asked to be cut and not blurred.

http://www.hollywoodreporter.com/news/david-fincher-refuses-cut-girl-285460

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« Reply #6069 on: Jan 29th, 2012, 1:30pm »

"Snowy owls soar south from Arctic in rare mass migration


SALMON, Idaho (Reuters) - Bird enthusiasts are reporting rising numbers of snowy owls from the Arctic winging into the lower 48 states this winter in a mass southern migration that a leading owl researcher called "unbelievable."

Thousands of the snow-white birds, which stand 2 feet tall with 5-foot wingspans, have been spotted from coast to coast, feeding in farmlands in Idaho, roosting on rooftops in Montana, gliding over golf courses in Missouri and soaring over shorelines in Massachusetts.

A certain number of the iconic owls fly south from their Arctic breeding grounds each winter but rarely do so many venture so far away even amid large-scale, periodic southern migrations known as irruptions.

"What we're seeing now -- it's unbelievable," said Denver Holt, head of the Owl Research Institute in Montana.

"This is the most significant wildlife event in decades," added Holt, who has studied snowy owls in their Arctic tundra ecosystem for two decades.

..."

Read the rest here:
http://news.yahoo.com/snowy-owls-soar-south-arctic-rare-mass-migration-175336821.html
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« Reply #6070 on: Jan 29th, 2012, 1:33pm »

"Jason Plautz
Why the CIA got in the Animated Film Business (and other D.C.-Hollywood Tales)"


Thanks to a request from Rep. Peter King (R-N.Y.), the Department of Defense and CIA have officially opened an investigation into Kathryn Bigelow’s movie about the killing of Osama bin Laden. King and others were concerned that the White House had leaked classified information to the filmmakers for the movie and wanted the CIA on the case.

But it’s far from the first time the government — or the CIA itself – has gotten involved in the film industry. The FBI has a healthy track record of investigating actors, executives and even individual movies. For example, consider their response to the Steve McQueen heist film “The Thomas Crown Affair.” When producers of the film — then titled The Crown Caper — asked to use an exterior shot of the agency’s Boston headquarters, the FBI decided to investigate. According to McQueen’s FBI file, revealed on The Vault website, they rejected the request after a thorough examination because of the movie’s “outrageous portrayal of the FBI. That refusal joined their extensive file on McQueen, which also details threats against him.

But the CIA also has a long history of involvement with Hollywood. Through a program called “Operation Mockingbird” (detailed in a Carl Bernstein Rolling Stone article and several books), the CIA sought to influence various aspects of American media, bringing in various journalists and publishers to skew coverage of the Cold War. Another tentacle of Mockingbird involved Hollywood, ensuring that popular movies were made with the best interests of the government and protecting any unfavorable information from getting out.

Among the projects the CIA worked on was The Quiet American, an adaptation of Graham Greene’s Vietnam-set novel. Reports have said that the CIA worked to ensure that a bombing in the story is tied to Communist forces, even though the culprit in the book is implied to be an American. Greene was furious that the script — written with advice from the CIA — stripped out his anti-war message and decried it as “propaganda.”

According to reports, the agency also got involved with other movies like 1984, doing everything from changing the script to adding racial diversity to make America seem more inclusive.

...

Read the full text here: http://www.mentalfloss.com/blogs/archives/114632#ixzz1ksT40vMF
--brought to you by mental_floss!
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« Reply #6071 on: Jan 30th, 2012, 09:21am »

Hey Phil! Howdy! cheesy
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« Reply #6072 on: Jan 30th, 2012, 09:32am »

LA Times


Afghan accused of strangling wife who gave birth to third girl

January 30, 2012 | 4:11 am
REPORTING FROM KABUL, AFGHANISTAN

Another horrific case of violence against women came to light Monday when Afghan authorities reported that a husband in a northern province, angry that his wife had not yet borne him a son, strangled her soon after she gave birth to their third child, a girl.

The killing in Kunduz province came weeks after a 15-year-old child bride in neighboring Baghlan province was rescued following a months-long ordeal at the hands of her in-laws, during which she was beaten, imprisoned in a squalid room and had her fingernails pulled out, authorities said. That case generated outrage both inside and outside the country.

Domestic abuse is commonplace in Afghanistan, but women’s rights groups have grown increasingly anxious amid efforts by the U.S. administration and the government of President Hamid Karzai to embark on peace negotiations with the Taliban movement, which dealt harshly with women during its five-year reign, forbidding them from schooling and employment.

In the Kunduz case, however, the alleged killer was affiliated with an anti-Taliban militia commander, and local police said he was the leader of an armed gang that has been engaged in various criminal activities.

The police chief in the Khanabad district of Kunduz province, Sufi Habib, identified the victim as a 22-year-old woman named Sthorai. He said her 24-year-old husband, Sher Mohammad, is being sought in her death, and that her mother-in-law has been implicated as well.

The woman's brother told police his sister had tried to get Mohammad to give up his gang activity and get a regular job, and that Sthorai's husband and mother-in-law had berated and abused her after the births of her first two girls, with beatings escalating after the latest birth.

Habib said that following the killing in the village of Mafali, the husband had taken shelter with his militia, which he described as being affiliated with a former warlord, Mir Alam. He said Mohammad's group was not part of the NATO-sponsored Afghan Local Police, set up to help villagers fight off the Taliban. But some Western-armed local groups have been accused of various abuses, including kidnappings and robberies.

Word of the Kunduz killing emerged as the U.S. Embassy renewed calls for the protection of women's rights in Afghanistan.

In a statement, the embassy expressed support Monday for a conference to be convened next month by Karzai to combat domestic violence.

http://latimesblogs.latimes.com/world_now/2012/01/afghan-husband-wife-strangle-birth-girl.html

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« Reply #6073 on: Jan 30th, 2012, 09:36am »

Watertown (New York) Daily Times

UFOs in Massena? Some people seem to think so

By MATTHEW BULTMAN
JOHNSON NEWSPAPERS
SUNDAY, JANUARY 29, 2012


It’s a bird. It’s a plane. It’s a UFO?

The Internet has been abuzz with reports of unidentified flying objects over the north country in recent weeks.

Six reports of mysterious light formations circling high in the skies, from Malone to Hogansburg to Brasher, have been compiled by the National UFO Reporting Center since Jan. 11.

“I never in my life expected to see something like this,” an anonymous user who identified herself as a Hogansburg woman posted on the center’s website after seeing what she described as three orange fireballs flying next to one another.

“Their motion was like that of several spotlights such as would be seen in Hollywood,” she reported Jan. 12.

Others reported similar accounts, all in the early nighttime sky between Jan. 11 and Jan. 18.

“I saw those lights last night. FREAKED ME OUT,” a person who said he or she was from Canton posted Jan. 19 on Topix.

But, unfortunately for believers in the extraterrestrial, there may be a very earthly explanation for the phenomenon.

According to Lt. Col. Fred Tomaselli, spokesman for the New York Air National Guard, pilots from a pair of nearby posts were practicing night missions the week of the reported sightings.

“It is highly likely that it was the F-16s out of Vermont or the F-15s out of Massachusetts doing night training,” he said.

The first round of Burlington training began Jan. 10 and lasted through Jan. 12, according to a press release, the same nights as the first reports of strange lights hovering in the sky.

The second round of night missions began Jan. 17 and ended Jan. 20, the same dates as three more of the sightings.

While it was not certain, it is possible the reported UFOs were simply fighter jets that have been taking off and landing in South Burlington after dark, said Lt. Col. Lloyd Goodrow, spokesman for the Vermont Air National Guard.

“We do a lot of our training in the Adirondacks,” he said.

According to the officials from the Air National Guard, there is a medium altitude military training area near Massena as aircraft approach Fort Drum.

Flights from a number of posts use the space for training missions, making it difficult to know which facility the jets were actually from.

“As it is a designated military training airspace, it would be just about anyone,” Mr. Goodrow said.

While state police haven’t recorded any recent calls questioning the lights, Mr. Tomaselli said the Air National Guard has fielded a number of questions in recent years from north country residents looking for answers.

Each fighter jet is equipped with blinking strobe lights, he said, an explanation for the hovering lights that have sparked so much interest lately.

“When they are maneuvering at night, there’s no depth perception, so it can look pretty interesting,” Mr. Tomaselli said.

Alleged appearances of UFOs are not uncommon throughout New York. According to the UFO reporting center, the state features the fourth-highest number of sightings in the country, with 2,784 reports dating back to the 1930s.

And there is an average of 25 UFO sightings reported each year across the north country, James G. Bouck, New York state director of the Mutual UFO Network, said during a 2010 visit to Potsdam.

http://www.watertowndailytimes.com/article/20120129/NEWS05/701299900/0/FRONTPAGE

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« Reply #6074 on: Jan 30th, 2012, 09:41am »

Wired

Military Masks Could ‘Give Injured Soldiers Their Faces Back’
By Katie Drummond
January 30, 2012 | 6:30 am
Categories: Science

This is how the military might treat burned faces in 2017: A mask, worn for several months, that’s layered with sensors, actuators and a regenerative elixir — including stem cells — to regrow missing facial tissue.

An estimated 85 percent of recent wartime injuries caused damage to the extremities or face. Already, the Pentagon’s made swift progress in using regenerative medicine to more effectively heal those wounds. They’re building fresh muscle tissue out of pig cells, repairing damaged flesh with spray-on skin and even fusing broken bones with an injectable compound.

Biomask could be the next of those breakthroughs, if it pans out. It’s the result of a collaboration between engineers at UT Arlington, regenerative medicine specialists at Northwestern University, and experts from the Brooke Army Medical Center and the Army Institute of Surgical Research.

Right now, the mask is in early stages of development. But Eileen Moss, a research scientist at UT Arlington and the project’s leader, tells Danger Room that the team’s already got a good sense of how it’ll look and work. Most importantly, she says, the mask would “give soldiers back the face they had before the injury.”

The mask will be comprised of two major layers. The top, a hard shell, will protect a patient’s face and also store electrical components. Underneath, a flexible polymer mask will fit around the contours of a patient’s face. It’ll be embedded with three more layers: An array of sensors to track the rate of healing, actuators to push up against the wound and hold the mask in place, and a network of micro-tubing and valves to pump therapeutics — whether antibiotics and pain killers or stem cells and growth factor — onto specific regions of the wound.

“Sensors would monitor the wound, and treatment inside the mask would be based on that data,” Moss says. “If healing is accelerated in one area of the burn, then the mask would know to supply different therapeutics to that region.”

All that, and the embedded sensors would transmit data to doctors in real time, offering them constant insight into how a patient’s wound was progressing underneath the Biomask.

If researchers pull it off, Biomask would be light-years ahead of the current standard of care for treating facial burns. Right now, wounded soldiers undergo dozens of surgeries to repair damage. Skin grafts often don’t take, and need to be removed. Even if the grafting works, it’s routinely accompanied by deformities, scarring, speech impediments and a loss of facial function.

“Surgeons do a great job,” Moss says. “But the face that soldiers end up with has a lot of problems. There might be disfigurement or scars. They might be missing an ear or maybe they can’t blink. That face just can’t be fully used anymore.”

By offering customized 24/7 healing, along with fresh tissue instead of grafts, Biomask could very well change all of that. And like much of the Pentagon’s wild medical research, this one’s moving at breakneck speed: The team expects a device that’s ready for military hospitals within five years.

http://www.wired.com/dangerroom/2012/01/military-biomask/#more-70829

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