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 veryhotthread  Author  Topic: Stuff & Nonsense  (Read 90932 times)
WingsofCrystal
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xx Re: Stuff & Nonsense
« Reply #6180 on: Feb 14th, 2012, 4:33pm »

on Feb 14th, 2012, 08:36am, Swamprat wrote:
CERN is turning up the power--over half way to design parameter of 7TeV.....


Large Hadron Collider to Run at 4 TeV Per Beam in 2012

ScienceDaily (Feb. 13, 2012) — CERN, the European Organization for Nuclear Research, has announced that the Large Hadron Collider (LHC) will run with a beam energy of 4 TeV this year, 0.5 TeV higher than in 2010 and 2011.

This decision was taken by CERN management following the annual performance workshop held in Chamonix last week and a report delivered Feb. 13 by the external CERN Machine Advisory Committee (CMAC). It is accompanied by a strategy to optimise LHC running to deliver the maximum possible amount of data in 2012 before the LHC goes into a long shutdown to prepare for higher energy running. The data target for 2012 is 15 inverse femtobarns for ATLAS and CMS, three times higher than in 2011. Bunch spacing in the LHC will remain at 50 nanoseconds.

"When we started operating the LHC for physics in 2010, we chose the lowest safe beam energy consistent with the physics we wanted to do," said CERN's Director for Accelerators and Technology, Steve Myers. "Two good years of operational experience with beam and many additional measurements made during 2011 give us the confidence to safely move up a notch, and thereby extend the physics reach of the experiments before we go into the LHC's first long shutdown."

The LHC's excellent performance in 2010 and 2011 has brought tantalising hints of new physics, notably narrowing the range of masses available to the Higgs particle to a window of just 16 GeV. Within this window, both the ATLAS and CMS experiments have seen hints that a Higgs might exist in the mass range 124-126 GeV. However, to turn those hints into a discovery, or to rule out the Standard Model Higgs particle altogether, requires one more year's worth of data. The LHC is scheduled to enter a long technical stop at the end of this year to prepare for running at its full design energy of around 7 TeV per beam.

"By the time the LHC goes into its first long stop at the end of this year, we will either know that a Higgs particle exists or have ruled out the existence of a Standard Model Higgs," said CERN's Research Director, Sergio Bertolucci. "Either would be a major advance in our exploration of nature, bringing us closer to understanding how the fundamental particles acquire their mass, and marking the beginning of a new chapter in particle physics."

http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2012/02/120213172038.htm?utm_source=feedburner&utm_medium=email&utm_campaign=Feed%3A+sciencedaily%2Fmatter_energy+%28ScienceDaily%3A+Matter+%26+Energy+News%29


Happy Valentine's Day Swamprat.

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xx Re: Stuff & Nonsense
« Reply #6181 on: Feb 14th, 2012, 8:39pm »

Happy Valentine's Day, Crystal (or "Wings")! wink


NASA MEDIA ADVISORY: M12-024


NASA TV to Broadcast Space Station Spacewalk Feb. 16



HOUSTON -- Two cosmonauts will conduct a six-hour spacewalk Thursday, Feb. 16, to continue outfitting the International Space Station. NASA Television will broadcast the spacewalk beginning at 7:45 a.m. CST.

Expedition 30 Russian Flight Engineers Oleg Kononenko and Anton Shkaplerov will move one of the two Strela cranes from the Pirs docking compartment to begin preparing for its replacement next year with a new laboratory and docking module. The 46-foot crane will be relocated to the Poisk module for future assembly and maintenance work. The duo also will install five debris shields on the Zvezda service module and, if time permits, a small experiment on the forward section of the module, an experiment sample pack on Poisk and support struts on the Pirs ladder.

Both spacewalkers will wear Russian Orlan suits bearing blue stripes and equipped with NASA helmet cameras. They will emerge from the Pirs airlock at about 8:15 a.m.

This spacewalk will be the 162nd in support of space station assembly and maintenance. The last spacewalk occurred Aug. 3, 2011. For Kononenko, it will be his third spacewalk following two in July 2008 during Expedition 17. His two previous spacewalks lasted a total of 12 hours and 12 minutes. It will be Shkaplerov's first spacewalk and the only one scheduled during Expedition 30.

Because of the location of the activities, Expedition 30 Commander Dan Burbank of NASA and Russian Flight Engineer Anatoly Ivanishin will be isolated in their Soyuz TMA-22 spacecraft, which is attached to the Poisk module, for the duration of the spacewalk. NASA Flight Engineer Don Pettit of NASA and European Space Agency Flight Engineer Andre Kuipers will be free to move about the U.S. segment of the complex. Their Soyuz TMA-03M is attached to the Rassvet module.

For NASA TV streaming video, schedule and downlink information, visit:
http://www.nasa.gov/ntv

For more information about the International Space Station and its crew, visit:
http://www.nasa.gov/station

http://www.nasa.gov/home/hqnews/2012/feb/HQ_M12-024_NTV_Spacewalk_Coverage.html
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xx Re: Stuff & Nonsense
« Reply #6182 on: Feb 14th, 2012, 8:48pm »

on Feb 14th, 2012, 8:39pm, Swamprat wrote:
Happy Valentine's Day, Crystal (or "Wings")! wink


NASA MEDIA ADVISORY: M12-024


NASA TV to Broadcast Space Station Spacewalk Feb. 16



HOUSTON -- Two cosmonauts will conduct a six-hour spacewalk Thursday, Feb. 16, to continue outfitting the International Space Station. NASA Television will broadcast the spacewalk beginning at 7:45 a.m. CST.

Expedition 30 Russian Flight Engineers Oleg Kononenko and Anton Shkaplerov will move one of the two Strela cranes from the Pirs docking compartment to begin preparing for its replacement next year with a new laboratory and docking module. The 46-foot crane will be relocated to the Poisk module for future assembly and maintenance work. The duo also will install five debris shields on the Zvezda service module and, if time permits, a small experiment on the forward section of the module, an experiment sample pack on Poisk and support struts on the Pirs ladder...

For NASA TV streaming video, schedule and downlink information, visit:
http://www.nasa.gov/ntv

For more information about the International Space Station and its crew, visit:
http://www.nasa.gov/station

http://www.nasa.gov/home/hqnews/2012/feb/HQ_M12-024_NTV_Spacewalk_Coverage.html


Thanks Swamp, I'm going to watch.

Wings cheesy
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« Reply #6183 on: Feb 15th, 2012, 07:46am »

National Defense

2/14/2012
Unmanned Vehicles: Liberating or Enslaving?
by Sandra Erwin

Unmanned aircraft have been billed as the ultimate in efficiency, a model for the Pentagon’s vision of substituting technology for labor.

But don’t be fooled, Pentagon officials warn. Unmanned aerial vehicles are great for spying over enemy territory, but they are a huge drain on human resources. In fact, a combat air patrol that relies on UAVs demands more operators and support staff than if it were conducted by conventional aircraft with a pilot in the cockpit.

“Over 150 people are needed to do one combat air patrol” with U.S. Air Force Predator or Reaper drones, says Reginald Brothers, deputy assistant secretary of defense for research.

“That’s a lot of people,” he adds. “These unmanned systems require more people to operate than tactical manned aircraft,” Brothers tells an industry conference Feb. 14 hosted by Aviation Week & Space Technology.

How to make unmanned systems less labor intensive was cited by Brothers as one the Pentagon’s pressing technological challenges. “We are seeing increasing reliance on UAVs” but the military cannot afford the soaring personnel demands associated with these systems, he says.

One reason why so-called “autonomous” vehicles require so much human oversight is that machines and humans are not able to share a “common perception” of what is happening, he explains. As a result, machines are not yet fully trusted to conduct missions independently.

“The challenge is having shared situational awareness, a shared perception between the machine and the human operator,” Brothers says.

While the search for more intelligent machines continues, the military continues to beef up its unmanned vehicle fleet. The Air Force today has 128 Predators, 30 Reapers and 13 Global Hawks deployed in combat operations, Brothers says. Predators and Reapers alone generate more than 1,000 hours of full-motion video each day. Global Hawk produces more than 50 hours of imagery intelligence per month. The Air Force expects to own about 700 drones by next year, and the Army will have an additional 500 Shadow and Gray Eagle UAVs. The Defense Department also has purchased 6,000 ground robots for use by deployed troops.

The U.S. Navy, perhaps more so than the other services, is betting on the success of autonomous UAVs. Naval Air Systems Command officials believe that there are few technological barriers to having combat aircraft flying autonomously, but worry that policies stand in the way. And there is no clear consensus on what level of autonomy vehicles should have given the politically sensitive issues that have arisen in recent years as the U.S. military and the CIA have escalated a campaign of drone strikes that, while aimed at terrorist leaders, have on several occasions killed civilians.

For the foreseeable future, UAVs will require giant crews. The Air Force in fact decided to cut its future purchases of Reaper aircraft in half — from 48 to 24 — because it cannot provide enough manpower to operate and process the data from more aircraft.

“It didn't make sense to have the production out that far ahead of our ability to actually do the processing and exploitation and dissemination function,” says Deputy Assistant Secretary of the Air Force for Budget Marilyn Thomas. “We're actually stretching the production [of Reapers] to sync it up better with our ability to produce crews.”

http://www.nationaldefensemagazine.org/blog/Lists/Posts/Post.aspx?ID=674

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« Reply #6184 on: Feb 15th, 2012, 07:55am »

LA Times

Horse trainer is on a ride for their lives

Karin Hauenstein, 39, a 'hobo on horseback,' comes from campfires and corrals, not concrete. She's clip-clopped south from Santa Barbara County, traversing Hollywood on her Thoroughbred Glory to protest the commercial slaughter of equines.

By Nita Lelyveld, Los Angeles Times
February 14, 2012

When Karin Hauenstein led her three horses down Vine Street, the girls in short skirts stilled their stiletto-heeled sashays, the incense hawkers stopped calling out to passersby, and Trader Joe's shoppers gaped through the glass at the convoy clip-clopping up the far right lane.

Whether anyone registered more than surprise is hard to say. But on that recent afternoon, Hauenstein was making a statement.

The 39-year-old horse trainer has come south from Santa Barbara County to protest the commercial slaughter of horses.

Now, day after day, often after camping at night, she traverses Hollywood on her Thoroughbred Glory, with her pack horses, Smoke and Coley, following behind.

Smoke is a mustang she helped capture and break trekking above Arizona's Mogollon Rim. Coley, a quarter horse, is porter in chief and billboard, with "END COMMERCIAL HORSE SLAUGHTER!" painted on pack boxes strapped to her sides.

A long rider, Hauenstein once spent four years heading east on horseback. She is broad-shouldered and strong and wears heavy leather boots. She comes from campfire and corral, not miles and miles of concrete.

"I look like I just came out of the mountains," she says.

Still, she came to be seen and she has done her best to make that happen — tying the animals up outside Roscoe's House of Chicken and Waffles, grazing them alongside a Runyon Canyon yoga class, holding court in the parking lot of Gelson's on Franklin Avenue.

They have posed with Wonder Woman and Korean tourists outside Grauman's Chinese Theatre, stopped in at a Coffee Bean & Tea Leaf and entertained children at a party at the Church of Scientology's Celebrity Centre International.

California doesn't allow commercial horse slaughter. But the national picture is different. in November, Congress ended a five-year ban on funding U.S. inspectors to oversee horse meat processed for human consumption, paving the way for slaughterhouses to reopen.

Hauenstein wants everyone to know.

People often take journeys for causes. They cycle to fight cancer. They walk to end global warming. But adding horses to the mix isn't for amateurs, especially on the fly.

Hauenstein had planned a spring protest ride. She still had a lot to organize when the bill passed but set off anyway, with many a loose end untied.

She and the horses left her home outside Lompoc on Dec. 6, traveling at a top speed of 3 mph.

She wasn't sure where she would be laying her head most nights or grazing her horses most days. Not that she worried.

"I see myself kind of as a hobo on horseback, but not in a bad way," she says. "It's because I travel and I don't really know where I'm going to wind up necessarily."

::

Hauenstein grew up northeast of Lompoc in rural Cebada Canyon. On her family's 420 acres, she was always around horses.

"She has a rapport," says her mother, Gwen Hauenstein. "We bought a really troubled horse one time that had a lot of problems. She took that horse and turned it into the best riding horse that we ever had."

For eight years after high school, Hauenstein worked behind a desk, for the local United Way. But by her late 20s, she was back with the horses.

In 2001, she was training horses in Buellton when she saw Dane Hartwell, a wandering cowboy, interviewed on the news. He was passing through Santa Barbara, planning to ride toward the East Coast.

"I thought, what is this guy doing? I wanted to know him," Hauenstein says. So when his website popped up on the screen, she emailed him.

Soon after they met, she liquidated everything she owned.

::

Hauenstein and Hartwell hit the road with five horses — two for riding, three for shouldering supplies.

What they were doing, she says, was "not an endurance ride, it was a lifestyle."

They rode until their money ran out. They got jobs to earn cash. They rode again until the cycle repeated itself.

The first big layover was in Las Vegas. Hired to help build a horse ranch, they stayed for months. And Hauenstein got pregnant.

Hartwell, the father, would never settle down. Hauenstein's life, too, was nomadic. So before her baby was born, she arranged for an adoption that would let her keep in touch. (He's 8 now, she says, rooted and happy.)

By the time she and Hartwell got to Magdalena, N.M., four years of hard travel had worn away at their happiness. Hauenstein left the trail with a couple of horses, a crushed dream, little cash, no car, no job.

A friend brought her to Camp Verde, Ariz., to regroup; she worked as a teacher's aide and jail booking clerk, drove a school bus, fostered teens with severe behavioral problems.

Eventually, she made her way home to Lompoc.

::

In some ways, traveling by horse isn't so hard.

It's legal, for instance, to ride on any road but a freeway.

Satellite views on cellphones simplify feeding on the go. You can scope out meadows and valleys, many unfenced and lacking signs barring trespass.

"With Google Earth, you can actually see the grass," Hauenstein says. It's all her horses need, and it's abundant this time of year. But they also get variety in the plants like clover and alfalfa that frequently sprout up with it.

Hollywood's median strips are so overgrown, sustenance here has been simple to find, she says.

For water, she fills her three-gallon collapsible bucket at the places she eats — at gas stations, at friendly homeowners' hoses.

Horse manure can be awkward. She scoops it when possible. But it's hard to persuade people to take it, even though it's great fertilizer.

As for sleep, Hauenstein set up a few spots in advance. And as she rode down the coast, strangers offered other overnight space — backyards, ranches, sometimes a spare bed.

But often she sought what shelter she could, next to her animals, under the stars.

In the garden of Santa Barbara's Trinity Episcopal Church, she slept alongside homeless people, sharing her horse blankets and pads.

In Ventura, she shut her eyes in an empty lot in an ocean-view neighborhood. She opened them to police and animal-control officers, called by neighbors.

That happens all the time, she says, "but as long as you're prepared to move on, no one wants to hassle a real traveler."

::

Here, Hauenstein has slept in two parks: Griffith and Runyon Canyon. She has laid a bedroll on the sidewalk alongside the Hollywood Presbyterian Church.

She has also piqued the interest of horse people. One trailered her for a stay at another's Shadow Hills ranch, where the horses could be stabled and Hauenstein could rest. Another had hay delivered to Gower Street, where a pair of Mormon missionaries who happened by helped her drag it to the horses.

To make her case about commercial slaughter, Hauenstein doesn't hand out fliers. When asked, she simply explains: Horses can be humanely euthanized, for less than the cost of a month's feed and board, and horse meat processed for human consumption can be unsafe because of high levels of adrenaline and cortisol.

Barbara Sizemore, 46, a Studio City mortgage broker, drove past the horses on Gower Street and caught up with them on Sunset Boulevard.

"I sign petitions. I write letters. What else can I do?" she asked Hauenstein, who directed her to websites and to her own Facebook page.

But Los Angeles also sometimes gives its attention stintingly.

Before crossing into the city, Hauenstein grazed the horses in the grassy median on Sunset Boulevard in Beverly Hills.

She watched as a big SUV pulled up. Two women got out and started waving their arms and arguing theatrically.

Then they got back into the car, cool as cucumbers, as their cameraman reviewed what he'd shot.

"It was so-called reality TV, but they never paid any attention to me," Hauenstein says.

Nor, for the most part, did she turn many heads in a brief foray to the ever-crowded courtyard of Grauman's Chinese.

She curbed the horses next to Iron Man, SpongeBob SquarePants, Darth Vader.

In front of her, tourists held up cellphones, snapping sidewalk stars, prints in concrete.

A security guard lunged forward, shouting, "I need these horses gone!"

"OK, folks, Mr. Muscles has arrived," called out a large man in a biceps-baring, sleeveless shirt.

"I'm just another distraction here," Hauenstein said, shrugging as she moved the horses along.


http://www.latimes.com/news/local/la-me-adv-horse-ride-20120214,0,1884417.story

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« Reply #6185 on: Feb 15th, 2012, 08:20am »

Telegraph

Spoof viral video shows Vladimir Putin on trial

A video that seems to show Vladimir Putin going on trial but is in fact a cleverly-edited collage became an internet hit in Russia on Wednesday with two million views ahead of presidential polls.

1:50PM GMT 15 Feb 2012

The minute-long video appears on first glance to show a packed courtroom with Mr Putin standing in the cage-like enclosure for defendants, with his head bowed, facing trial on charges of theft and terrorism.

But in fact the footage is a neat collage of shots from the trial of Mr Putin's arch foe, toppled oil tycoon Mikhail Khodorkovsky, with the premier's face superimposed on Mr Khodorkovsky's much taller frame.

The video – which has garnered almost 2 million views on YouTube – has gone viral just over two weeks ahead of March 4 presidential elections where Mr Putin is seeking a historic third Kremlin term in the face of protests.

"The former prime minister was brought to the Khamovnichesky court about half-an-hour ago" says the voice-over, which is based on state television coverage of the second Khodorkovsky trial.

Mr Khodorkovsky was jailed for tax evasion and then convicted of fraud in a second trial in a Moscow court in late 2010. He is set to stay in jail until 2016.


video and more after the jump
http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/worldnews/vladimir-putin/9084212/Spoof-viral-video-shows-Vladimir-Putin-on-trial.html

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« Reply #6186 on: Feb 15th, 2012, 08:26am »

Science Daily

New Nano-Material Combinations Produce Leap in Infrared Technology
ScienceDaily (Feb. 14, 2012)

Arizona State University researchers are finding ways to improve infrared photodetector technology that is critical to national defense and security systems, as well as used increasingly in medical diagnostics, commercial applications and consumer products.


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ASU engineers are working on technological advances that promise to help enhance infrared photodetection used in sophisticated weapons and surveillance system, industrial and home security systems, medical diagnostics and night vision equipment for law enforcement and driving safety.
(Credit: Orkun Cellek/ASU)



A significant advance is reported in a recent article in the journal Applied Physics Letters. It details discovery of how infrared photodetection can be done more effectively by using certain materials arranged in specific patterns in atomic-scale structures.

It's being accomplished by using multiple ultrathin layers of the materials that are only several nanometers thick. Crystals are formed in each layer. These layered structures are then combined to form what are termed "superlattices."

Photodetectors made of different crystals absorb different wavelengths of light and convert them into an electrical signal. The conversion efficiency achieved by these crystals determines a photodectector's sensitivity and the quality of detection it provides, explains electrical engineer Yong-Hang Zhang.

The unique property of the superlattices is that their detection wavelengths can be broadly tuned by changing the design and composition of the layered structures. The precise arrangements of the nanoscale materials in superlattice structures helps to enhance the sensitivity of infrared detectors, Zhang says.

Zhang is a professor in the School of Electrical, Computer and Energy Engineering, one of ASU's Ira A. Fulton Schools of Engineering. He is leading the work on infrared technology research in ASU's Center for Photonics Innovation. More information can be found at the center's Optoelectronics Group website.

Additional research in this area is being supported by a grant from the Air Force Office of Scientific Research and a new Multidisciplinary University Research Initiative (MURI) program established by the U.S. Army Research Office. ASU is a partner in the program led by the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign.

The MURI program is enabling Zhang's group to accelerate its work by teaming with David Smith, a professor in the Department of Physics in ASU's College of Liberal Arts and Sciences, and Shane Johnson, a senior research scientist in the ASU's engineering schools.

The team is using a combination of indium arsenide and indium arsenide antimonide to build the superlattice structures. The combination allows devices to generate photo electrons necessary to provide infrared signal detection and imaging, says Elizabeth Steenbergen, an electrical engineering doctoral student who performed experiments on the supperlattice materials with collaborators at the Army Research Lab.

"In a photodetector, light creates electrons. Electrons emerge from the photodetector as electrical current. We read the magnitude of this current to measure infrared light intensity," she says.

"In this chain, we want all of the electrons to be collected from the detector as efficiently as possible. But sometimes these electrons get lost inside the device and are never collected," says team member Orkun Cellek, an electrical engineering postdoctoral research associate.

Zhang says the team's use of the new materials is reducing this loss of optically excited electrons, which increases the electrons' carrier lifetime by more than 10 times what has been achieved by other combinations of materials traditionally used in the technology. Carrier lifetime is a key parameter that has limited detector efficiency in the past.

Another advantage is that infrared photodetectors made from these superlattice materials don't need as much cooling. Such devices are cooled as a way of reducing the amount of unwanted current inside the devices that can "bury" electrical signals, Zhang says.

The need for less cooling reduces the amount of power needed to operate the photodetectors, which will make the devices more reliable and the systems more cost effective.

Researchers say improvements can still be made in the layering designs of the intricate superlattice structures and in developing device designs that will allow the new combinations of materials to work most effectively.

The advances promise to improve everything from guided weaponry and sophisticated surveillance systems to industrial and home security systems, the use of infrared detection for medical imaging and as a road-safety tool for driving at night or during sand storms or heavy fog.

"You would be able to see things ahead of you on the road much better than with any headlights," Cellek says.

http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2012/02/120214145331.htm

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« Reply #6187 on: Feb 15th, 2012, 5:06pm »

25 million tons of tsunami debris floating toward US shores

Written By Jeremy A. Kaplan
Published February 15, 2012

Wrecked cars, portions of homes, boats, furniture and more -- all swept up by the destructive, magnitude 9.0 earthquake that struck off the coast of Japan 11 months ago -- are on a slow-motion collision course with California.

But no one's tracking the debris, Jim Churnside, a physicist with the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Agency's (NOAA) Marine Debris Program, told FoxNews.com.

The wreckage from the March 11, 2011, disaster could include virtually anything that floats, according to oceanographer and beachcomber Curtis Ebbesmeyer -- and that includes portions of houses, boats, ships, furniture, cars and even human remains.

Independent models constructed by the NOAA and the University of Hawaii show a vast, loose debris field drifting inexorably toward Hawaii, California and Washington -- the first fishing buoys reached the West Coast in mid December, Ebbesmeyer wrote in his "Beachcombers Alert" newsletter. The flotsam is expected to increase, with the bulk of the debris hitting some time in 2014.

"I would not be surprised to see some fishing vessels by April, and the main mass of debris start arriving a year from this March," Ebbesmeyer told FoxNews.com.

Beyond that, it's hard to say exactly how big the debris is -- or even where the majority of it is.

Floating debris travels at about 7 mph, Ebbesmeyer said, but it can move as much as 20 mph if it has a large area exposed to the wind, according to a report in the Associated Press. That said, Churnside expects models of the debris path from last summer are probably accurate.

Churnside plans to revisit his models of the enormous debris field next month, one year after the devasting event.

Read more: http://www.foxnews.com/scitech/2012/02/15/25-million-tons-tsunami-debris-floating-toward-us-shores/#ixzz1mUb8uW2v
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« Reply #6188 on: Feb 16th, 2012, 08:32am »

Good morning Swamprat.

The debris field from Japan looks like it's going to be awful for the West coast and Hawaii.

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« Reply #6189 on: Feb 16th, 2012, 08:37am »

LA Times


Islamist presidential hopeful wants to end U.S. aid to Egypt
February 15, 2012 | 1:57 pm
by Amro Hassan

REPORTING FROM CAIRO -- A campaign led by ultraconservative Islamist presidential candidate Hazem Salah abu Ismail has called on Egyptians to raise money on their own so their country will not be dependent on $1.3 billion in annual U.S. military aid.

Abu Ismail's arithmetic rings with folksy nationalism: He estimates that $1.3 billion is the equivalent of about 6 billion Egyptian pounds. If each of Egypt's 84 million people donated 72 pounds (about $12) a year there would be no need for U.S. aid, he noted. He slogan is: "Buy your dignity with only 72 pounds."

The U.S. aid issue has been heavily debated in Egypt in recent weeks, especially after charges of illegal funding were brought against 16 Americans working for U.S.-funded nongovernmental organizations that promote democracy.

Diplomatic tension over the case were further heightened when testimony given in October by Cabinet Minister Fayza Aboul Naga was made public this week. She said the U.S. was attempting to create chaos in Egypt after the overthrow of President Hosni Mubarak in an effort to bolster "American and Israeli interests," according to state media.

Abu Ismail, a member of the Salafis, or ultraconservative Islamists, has long objected to U.S. money, claiming that it detracts from Egypt's sovereignty and serves an American agenda that isn’t in the best interest of Egyptians.

"The U.S. aid is flawed by two things. First is that it serves America's interests and not Egypt's needs, secondly is that Egypt is never given the choice of how to spend the aid. Plans on using such aid are always imposed by the U.S. administration," he said in a conference in December.

The hard-line Islamist candidate is known for his opposition to Western ideas and anything that contradicts sharia, or Islamic law. He believes that U.S. aid degrades Islamic culture in favor of Western beliefs.

"The U.S. wants to change the values of Egyptians and make them love things like homosexuality and same-sex marriage, and they allocate large sums of their aid to the media to do this, for example," he said.

If elected president, Abu Ismail intends to implement sharia law banning activities such as selling alcohol, wearing bikinis on public beaches and gambling. He also called for an end to the peace treaty with Israel and wants to establish better ties with Iran.

Whether he can get Egyptians to donate $12 is another matter, especially when nearly 45% of his countrymen live on $2 a day or less.

http://latimesblogs.latimes.com/world_now/2012/02/islamist-presidential-hopeful-wants-to-abandon-us-aid.html

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« Reply #6190 on: Feb 16th, 2012, 08:46am »

Telegraph

Chile experts identify Trinidad Moruga Scorpion as world's hottest

Experts at New Mexico's State University's Chile Pepper Institute have identified the Trinidad Moruga Scorpion as the hottest pepper on the planet.

9:44AM GMT 16 Feb 2012

There are super-hot chili varieties. And then there's the sweat-inducing, tear-generating, mouth-on-fire Trinidad Moruga Scorpion.

With a name like that, it's not surprising that months of research by the experts at New Mexico's State University's Chile Pepper Institute have identified the variety as the new hottest pepper on the planet.

The golf ball-sized pepper scored the highest among a handful of chili breeds reputed to be among the hottest in the world. Its mean heat topped more than 1.2 million units on the Scoville heat scale, while fruits from some individual plants reached 2 million heat units.

"You take a bite. It doesn't seem so bad, and then it builds and it builds and it builds. So it is quite nasty," Paul Bosland, a renowned pepper expert and director of the chili institute, said of the pepper's heat.

Researchers were pushed by hot sauce makers, seed producers and others in the spicy foods industry to establish the average heat levels for super-hot varieties in an effort to quash unscientific claims of which peppers are actually the hottest.

That's something that hadn't been done before, Bosland said.

"The question was, could the Chile Pepper Institute establish the benchmark for chili heat?" he said. "Chile heat is a complex thing, and the industry doesn't like to base it on just a single fruit that's a record holder. It's too variable." The academic institute is based at the university's agriculture school and is partially funded by federal grants, as well as some industry groups depending on the project.

The team planted about 125 plants of each variety – the Trinidad Moruga Scorpion, the Trinidad Scorpion, the 7-pot, the Chocolate 7-pot and the Bhut Jolokia, which was a previous record-holder identified by the institute and certified by Guinness World Records in 2007.

Randomly selected mature fruits from several plants within each variety were harvested, dried and ground to powder. The compounds that produce heat sensation – the capsaicinoids – were then extracted and examined.

During harvesting, senior research specialist Danise Coon said she and the two students who were picking the peppers went through about four pairs of latex gloves.

"The capsaicin kept penetrating the latex and soaking into the skin on our hands. That has never happened to me before," she said.

Chile peppers of the same variety can vary in heat depending on environmental conditions. More stress on a plant – hotter temperatures or less water, for example – will result in hotter fruit.

The Trinidad Moruga Scorpion's new notoriety is already making waves in the industry and among those who love their hot, spicy foods.

"As with all the previous record holders, there will be a run on seeds and plants," said Jim Duffy, a grower in San Diego who supplied the university with seeds for four of the super-hot varieties. "Like Cabbage Patch dolls right before Christmas or Beanie Babies, it's like the hot item."

Not even Duffy or the researchers would dare to pop a whole Trinidad Moruga Scorpion in their mouths, but there are plenty of videos on social networking sites where heat-loving daredevils have tried.

The blood flow increases and the endorphins start flowing. Their faces turn red, the sweat starts rolling, their eyes and noses water and there's a fiery sensation that spreads across their tongues and down their throats.

"People actually get a crack-like rush," Duffy said. "I know the people who will eat the hottest stuff to get this rush, but they've got to go through the pain."

Pepper experts said there are a handful of people who are crazy enough to subject themselves to the pain, but the rest just want to try out these super-hot peppers on their friends or make killer hot sauce – and it doesn't take a whole pepper to do that.

More bang for the buck is how Bosland describes it. He said a family could buy two of the super-hot peppers to flavour their meals for an entire week.

The beauty of the peppers is they're not only the hottest in the world, but they're also some of the most flavourful peppers, Duffy said.

"You can make a barbecue sauce or a hot sauce at a mild to medium level using small amounts of these peppers and it will be so darn addictive that you won't want to put your spoon down," he said. "You'll want to eat and eat and eat."

http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/newstopics/howaboutthat/9085820/Chile-experts-identify-Trinidad-Moruga-Scorpion-as-worlds-hottest.html

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« Reply #6191 on: Feb 16th, 2012, 08:54am »

Washington Post

Negotiators reach deal; vote expected soon on $150B economic package
By Paul Kane, Published: February 15

Congressional negotiators gave final approval early Thursday to an economic plan worth more than $150 billion that would extend a payroll tax holiday and unemployment benefits.

A key roadblock was overcome when the lawmakers agreed to require new federal workers to contribute more to their pension plans, clearing the way around 12:30 a.m. for a majority of the House-Senate conference committee to begin signing onto the deal.

The pension provision represented a concession to key Maryland Democrats who, even after prodding from President Obama, did not grant their support until current federal workers were shielded from the new pension plan, aides in both parties said.

A vote could come as early as Friday, the last act in a five-month battle over Obama’s proposed jobs plan.

“This is good for the country, it’s very good for the country. We have an agreement,” Sen. Max Baucus (D-Mont.) said at a hastily arranged post-midnight press conference in a Capitol hallway. Baucus was joined by Rep. Dave Camp (Mich.), the lead GOP negotiator.

Baucus, the Senate Finance Committee chairman, had prematurely declared a “deal” was at hand at 11 p.m. Wednesday. He then spent 90 minutes huddled inside Camp’s office with nearly 10 House Republicans who were serving on the conference committee.

Camp assured reporters later that the final talks were about “technical things” in the bill’s legislative language and that more than enough senators and House members had agreed to the substantive issues to ensure the bill would be published later Thursday.

“We have an agreement and we’re moving forward,” Camp, chairman of the House Ways and Means Committee, said.

The bill — which some Obama aides say is likely to be the last significant legislation passed before the November elections — includes a 10-month extension of a payroll tax holiday that lets the average worker keep an extra $1,000 a year. The deal also would extend unemployment benefits through the end of 2012. But it reduces the tenure on unemployment by the end of the year to 63 weeks in states moderately impacted by the recession and 73 weeks for those with the highest jobless rates.

The plan is about one-third the size of the original jobs legislation Obama proposed in September. It includes a temporary fix for Medicare’s payment plan, intended to prevent a 27 percent drop in fees paid to doctors who treat elderly patients.

The final talks were hung up on the need to find about $50 billion in spending cuts and new revenue to offset the $50 billion cost of the unemployment extension and the Medicare change.

The Senate side of the conference committee, with four Democrats and three Republicans, found itself stalled late Wednesday. Initial plans called for drawing $15 billion in savings by requiring all federal workers to make increased contributions to their pension plans, prompting an objection from Sen. Benjamin L. Cardin (D-Md.). The three Senate Republicans demanded an exemption from portions of the 2010 health-care law for physician-owned hospitals, a move Democrats opposed.

This left the conference committee one senator shy of the number needed to sign off on a final agreement.

The Democrats would only agree to support the plan once Baucus and Camp agreed to shield current federal employees from the increased pension contribution. The final details of that pension increase were unclear early Thursday, but initial estimates on Wednesday suggested federal workers would need to pay an additional 0.75 percent to their pension plans.

In addition to the pension issue, Baucus and Camp agreed to cut $5 billion from a fund created under the health-care law to help primary-care physicians prevent illness — a fund that the president singled out for a similar cut in the budget for fiscal 2013 that he announced Monday.

Another last-minute dispute, according to lawmakers and aides in both parties, involved a plan to raise at least $15 billion in revenue from selling off public spectrum to telecommunication companies for better mobile communication. This has been a key issue for homeland security officials ever since the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks, after which emergency first responders began requesting their own frequency to better communicate with federal officials during disasters.

On Wednesday, negotiators agreed to auction off $22 billion worth of the spectrum to the industry, then siphon $7 billion of that into a fund for federal maintenance of a frequency dedicated to emergency first responders.

Republican leaders, who had been divided on the payroll tax package in December, decided over the weekend that the best decision on the contentious issue was to support a plan that would not require offsetting cuts for the tax holiday, which is worth about $100 billion. That decision, a reversal of their previous position, made the final negotiations much easier.

By early Wednesday, House GOP leaders were anxious to reach an agreement to put the issue behind them and refocus their agenda for the rest of the year.

“If the agreement comes together like I expect it will, the House should vote this week,” House Speaker John A. Boehner (R-Ohio) told reporters Wednesday morning.

http://www.washingtonpost.com/politics/vote-expected-soon-on-150-billion-economic-package/2012/02/15/gIQATaeeGR_story.html

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« Reply #6192 on: Feb 16th, 2012, 09:14am »

Deadline Hollywood

Murdoch May Face Angry (And Litigious?) Sun Staff In London On Friday: Reports
By NANCY TARTAGLIONE, International Editor
Thursday February 16, 2012 @ 3:20am PST
Tags: News of the World, Rupert Murdoch, The Sun

With Rupert Murdoch arriving in London this week amid the deepening crisis in his UK news empire, Bloomberg reports the mogul could also face unhappy staffers at The Sun who have demanded an audience with him. Scotland Yard is currently investigating alleged bribes paid to police officers by Sun journalists with 9 so far arrested. (Per The Guardian, claims are now being made that certain public officials were on what essentially amounted to a £10,000 annual retainer.) Sun employees want reassurance they will not face the same fate as their colleagues at News Of The World which was shuttered this summer when the phone-hacking scandal blew wide open.

What’s more, some Sun journalists are reportedly mulling legal action against News International, the News Corp arm that runs the UK papers, based on the Human Rights Act and with the help of the National Union of Journalists. The Independent says reporters are looking to build a case claiming the Sun‘s parent company breached the workers’ right to freedom of expression by giving evidence about their sources to investigators. News Corp has been cooperating with the investigations via its internal Management and Standards Committee.

http://www.deadline.com/2012/02/murdoch-may-face-angry-and-litigious-sun-staff-in-london-on-friday-reports/

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« Reply #6193 on: Feb 16th, 2012, 09:18am »

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« Reply #6194 on: Feb 16th, 2012, 09:23am »

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