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 veryhotthread  Author  Topic: Stuff & Nonsense  (Read 47119 times)
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« Reply #6375 on: Mar 18th, 2012, 09:19am »

The Wrap

'Big Bang Theory' Brings Stephen Hawking on as Guest Host

March 12, 2012 @ 5:29 pm

"The Big Bang Theory" is getting a visit from Stephen Hawking.

The renowned theoretical physicist will guest-star on the April 5 episode of the CBS comedy, the network said Monday. In the cameo, Hawking visits uber-geek Sheldon Cooper (Jim Parsons) at work "to share his beautiful mind with his most ardent admirer," according to CBS.

Executive producer Bill Prady said that having Hawking on the show had long been a goal, though it seemed unattainable.

When people would ask us who a ‘dream guest star’ for the show would be, we would always joke and say Stephen Hawking – knowing that it was a long shot of astronomical proportions,” Prady said. “In fact, we’re not exactly sure how we got him. It’s the kind of mystery that could only be understood by, say, a Stephen Hawking.”

Hawking, known for his book "A Brief History of Time," has appeared on television comedies before, albeit in voice work. Hawking has done a guest spot on "Futurama" and appeared as himself on several episodes of "The Simpsons."

http://www.thewrap.com/tv/article/big-bang-theory-brings-stephen-hawking-guest-host-36185

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« Reply #6376 on: Mar 18th, 2012, 09:25am »







Uploaded by SkyWatchAustralia on Mar 18, 2012

Thanks to Dommeruk!

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« Reply #6377 on: Mar 19th, 2012, 08:51am »

Chicago Sun Times

Experts find 7th-century teen buried in her bed in Britain
ASSOCIATED PRESS
Last Modified: Mar 15, 2012 08:12PM

LONDON (AP) — Archaeologists excavating near Cambridge have stumbled upon a rare and mysterious find: The skeleton of a 7th-century teenager buried in an ornamental bed along with a gold-and-garnet cross, an iron knife and a purse of glass beads.

Experts say the grave is an example of an unusual Anglo-Saxon funerary practice of which very little is known. Just over a dozen of these “bed burials” have been found in Britain, and it’s one of only two in which a pectoral cross — meant to be worn over the chest — has been discovered.

One archaeologist said the burial opened a window into the transitional period when the pagan Anglo-Saxons were gradually adopting Christianity.

“We are right at the brink of the coming of Christianity back to England,” said Alison Dickens, the manager of Cambridge University’s Archaeological Unit. “What we have here is a very early adopter.”

The grave, dated between 650 and 680 A.D., was discovered about a year ago in a corner of Trumpington Meadows, a rural area just outside Cambridge that is slated for development.

Howard Williams, a professor of archaeology at the University of Chester who is not connected to the discovery, said bed burials were very rare. But he noted they also happened on mainland Europe and said Anglo-Saxons may have looked across the Channel for inspiration.

“It’s part of a broader pan-European identity in life and in death,” he said.

Dickens said the teen’s grave was interesting because it had a mix of traditional grave goods — the knife, as well as a chain thought to hold a purse full of beads — along with a powerful symbol of Christian devotion.

The grave, she said, indicated “the beginning of the end of one belief system, and the beginning of another.”

The teenager’s jewelry — a solid gold cross about 3 1/2 centimeters (1 1/2 inches) wide, set with cut garnets — marks her out as a member of the Anglo-Saxon aristocracy. She was about 15, but her skeleton hasn’t yet been subjected to radiocarbon dating or isotopic analysis. Those techniques might help experts determine where and under what circumstances she grew up.

Three sets of Anglo-Saxon remains were also found nearby, but it’s not clear to what degree any of the people buried there were related.

As for the bed itself, there’s little left of it other than its iron fittings.

The rationale behind bed burials remains a matter of speculation.

“The word in Old English for ‘bed’ and ‘grave’ is the same because it’s ‘the place where you lie,’” Dickens said. “It is interesting that you have that association. You’re lying there — but just for a much longer time, I suppose.”

http://www.suntimes.com/news/world/11326824-418/experts-find-7th-century-teen-buried-in-her-bed-in-britain.html

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« Reply #6378 on: Mar 19th, 2012, 08:55am »

Washington Post

U.S. accelerating cyberweapon research
By Ellen Nakashima
Published: March 18

The Pentagon is accelerating efforts to develop a new generation of cyberweapons capable of disrupting enemy military networks even when those networks are not connected to the Internet, according to current and former U.S. officials.

The possibility of a confrontation with Iran or Syria has highlighted for American military planners the value of cyberweapons that can be used against an enemy whose most important targets, such as air defense systems, do not rely on Internet-based networks. But adapting such cyberweapons can take months or even years of arduous technical work.

When U.S. military planners were looking for ways to disable Libya’s air defense system before NATO’s aerial attacks last year, they discussed using cybertechnology. But the idea was quickly dismissed because no effective option was available, said current and former U.S. officials.

They estimated that crafting a cyberweapon would have taken about a year, including the time needed to assess the target system for vulnerabilities.

“We weren’t ready to do that in Libya,” said a former U.S. official, who spoke on the condition of anonymity because of the sensitivity of the discussions. “We’re not ready to do that now, either.”

Last year, to speed up the development of cyberweapons, as well as defensive technology, then-Deputy Defense Secretary William J. Lynn III and Marine Corps Gen. James Cartwright, then vice chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, placed $500 million over five years into the budget of the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency, one of the Defense ­Department’s premier research organizations.

The agency also has launched new ­cyber-development initiatives, including a “fast-track” program.

“We need cyber options that can be executed at the speed, scale and pace” of other military weapons, Kaigham J. ­Gabriel, DARPA deputy director, said in testimony last month to Congress.

Pentagon officials, meanwhile, are developing a congressionally mandated strategy for the rapid acquisition of cyberweapons that can keep pace with threats and technology.

Officials are researching cyberweapons that can target “offline” military systems in part by harnessing emerging technology that uses radio signals to insert computer coding into networks remotely.

“To affect a system, you have to have access to it, and we have not perfected the capability of reaching out and accessing a system at will that is not connected to the Internet,” said Joel Harding, an independent consultant who is a former military officer and former director of the Information Operations Institute.

Even if an operator gains access, he said, “unless you already have custom-written code for a system, chances are we don’t have a weapon for that because each system has different software and updates.”

In some cases, as with command-and-control systems, military assets rely on Internet connections, making them theoretically easier to target.

Without that connectivity, an attacker would have to rely on other means — for instance, physically inserting into those systems portable devices such as thumb drives or computer components that have been altered.

But such approaches lack the control and predictability that military commanders desire, experts say.

The amount of disclosed spending by the Pentagon on cybersecurity and cybertechnology — offensive and defensive — is $3.4 billion this year. The U.S. Cyber Command, based at Fort Meade, was created in 2010 and has a budget of $154 million this year.

U.S. officials say that existing cyberweaponry has the potential to disable components of a weapon system, ­although it is not likely to destroy the system.

Cyber tools might be used in conjunction with other tactics and weapons. Cybertechnology might, for example, enable an attack by delaying enemy recognition of it until it is underway.

“It will probably never be just a standalone cyberattack on a network,” said Lt. Gen. Charles R. Davis, commander of the Electronic Systems Center at Hanscom Air Force Base, who buys the tools and software that support the Air Force’s offensive and defensive cyber activities.

Cybertechnology was not a significant factor in military operations 10 years ago, Gen. Martin Dempsey, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, said during an Atlantic Council discussion in December. ­“Cyber is a significant factor today.”

In Iraq, during the 2007 surge of U.S. combat forces, the National Security Agency used cyber tools to muddle the signals of the cellphones and laptop computers that insurgents used to coordinate their strikes, according to previously published reports confirmed by former U.S. officials. U.S. cyber operators used those techniques to deceive the enemy with false information, in some cases leading fighters into an ambush by U.S. troops.

But countering Libya’s air defenses was a different story. The operation arose quickly. Officials had not foreseen the Arab Spring uprising against Libyan strongman Moammar Gaddafi, and no intelligence and engineering work had been done to exploit the vulnerabilities of the Libyan air defense system.

Some experts believe that Israel may have used a cyberweapon to blind Syrian radar before bombing a suspected nuclear facility in September 2007, but several former U.S. officials say that the technique more likely used was conventional electronic warfare or radar jamming using signals emitted from an airplane.

The Stuxnet computer virus that reportedly disabled some 900 centrifuges in an Iranian uranium-enrichment plant in 2009 and 2010 — while it has been dubbed by control-system expert Ralph Langner as the world’s “first digital warhead” — lacked the precision, predictability and control that a military commander would need during combat, experts said.

“If I’m trying to knock down an air defense system, I have to know precisely what’s going to happen and when it will happen,” said a former military official. “It’s a fundamentally different approach than Stuxnet.”

DARPA plans to focus an increasing portion of its cyber research on “offensive capabilities to address military-specific needs,” Gabriel said recently in testimony before the House Armed Services subcommittee on emerging threats and capabilities.

Over the past decade, instances have been reported in which cyber tools were contemplated but not used because of concern they would result in collateral damage. For instance, defense and intelligence agencies discussed using cybertechnology to freeze money in Iraqi dictator Saddam Hussein’s bank accounts just before the U.S.-led invasion in March 2003 to blunt his efforts to mount a defense. The plan was aborted because of concern that the cyberattack could disrupt financial systems in Europe and beyond.

Within a war zone, the use of a cyberweapon may be limited by other considerations. There is the danger of collateral damage to civilian systems, such as disrupting a power supply to a hospital. A destructive computer code, once released, could be reverse-engineered and sent back at vulnerable U.S. targets or adapted for use by foreign spy agencies. Cybertechnology also is not always the most efficient way to attack a target — sometimes bombs or electronic warfare are easier or more reliable.

Within the Pentagon, more money is being spent on defending against cyber­attacks than on preparing to deploy offensive cyber operations, officials say. That is appropriate, they say, when adversaries are trying to develop similar cyberweapons to use against U.S. military targets that may not be secure against attack and when Pentagon networks are probed thousands of times daily.

But more money needs to be spent on developing cyperweapons, say some former officials. “You’ve got to start moving investment to the offensive side,” Cartwright said.

Pentagon spending on cybertechnology is growing even as other areas of its budget are shrinking, officials say.

“I am still not remotely satisfied with where we are in cyber,” Deputy Secretary of Defense Ashton B. Carter said at the Credit Suisse and McAleese and Associates defense conference in Arlington this month.

“I dare say,” he said, “we’d spend a lot more if we could figure out where to spend it.”

http://www.washingtonpost.com/world/national-security/us-accelerating-cyberweapon-research/2012/03/13/gIQAMRGVLS_story.html

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« Reply #6379 on: Mar 19th, 2012, 08:59am »

Telegraph

Leveson inquiry: NotW hired special forces to track police

The News of the World hired former special forces soldiers to follow a police surveillance team tracking a suspect in the 2006 Ipswich prostitute murders, the Leveson Inquiry heard today.

10:42AM GMT 19 Mar 2012

Dave Harrison, a retired officer with the Serious Organised Crime Agency (Soca), said the newspaper jeopardised the official investigation into the killings.

He told the inquiry: ''If our surveillance had been weakened by having to try and avoid other surveillance teams looking for us, if we had lost the subject, he may have gone and committed further murders because we were dealing with something else.''

In December 2006, Suffolk Police asked Soca to provide surveillance officers to follow suspects in the then-unsolved murders of five women working as prostitutes in Ipswich, the hearing was told.

Mr Harrison said he and his colleagues were told at a briefing that the News of the World had employed its own surveillance team to identify who they were, where they were based and who the suspects were.

Asked how the paper learned that Soca officers were being sent to Ipswich, he said: "My opinion is it would have come from someone close to the investigation team, either the Suffolk inquiry or Soca."

Mr Harrison said that, on at least two occasions, a vehicle parked up on a roundabout on the outskirts of the town attempted to follow the Soca surveillance team.

"We identified them because they were sat in the position that we would sit in if we were doing the same job," he said.

"We were told that they were probably ex-Special Forces soldiers who would have a good knowledge of surveillance techniques."

The former Soca investigator criticised the actions of the News of the World, which was closed last July after the revelation that it hacked murdered schoolgirl Milly Dowler's phone.

He said: "Murder suspects before they are arrested, before they realise they are being investigated, may return to the scene of the crime.

"They may try to dispose of evidence, they may try to move bodies, they may even try to commit further offences...

"If they thought they were being followed, they might very well stop what they were doing or not do what they had planned to do.

"If a surveillance team cannot see the sort of evidence we were after, if that's not possible, then that weakens the prosecution case in the future."

The Sunday Mirror used counter-surveillance techniques while driving one suspect in the Ipswich murders to a hotel for an interview, the press standards inquiry heard.

Steve Wright was handed a whole-life sentence in February 2008 after being convicted of killing all five women.

http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/uknews/leveson-inquiry/9152722/Leveson-inquiry-NotW-hired-special-forces-to-track-police.html

Crystal

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« Reply #6380 on: Mar 19th, 2012, 09:06am »

Deadline Hollywood

TV News Broke Its Losing Streak In Action-Packed 2011: Study
By DAVID LIEBERMAN
Executive Editor
Monday March 19, 2012 @ 12:01am EDT
Tags: news, Pew Research Center, TV News

This is one of the first times in years that TV journalists and executives won’t need a box of Kleenex nearby when they read the Pew Research Center’s encyclopedic and authoritative annual State Of The News Media Report, which will be released today. Broadcast networks, cable news networks, and local TV stations all showed signs of improvement in 2011 as people became riveted by stories about Arab Spring, the death of Osama bin Laden, the shooting in Tucson of Rep. Gabrielle Giffords, Britain’s royal wedding, and the tsunami in Japan, according to Pew’s Project for Excellence in Journalism. The audience for the major networks’ newscasts increased for the first time since 2001. Cable news viewing also was up, a relief after a huge slide in 2010. And local news gained ground, ending a five-year decline.

To be sure, traditional news providers across the board still haven’t figured out how to make money in digital media. And last year they “lost more ground to rivals in the technology industry,” Pew says. The audience for online news sources grew 17.2% while revenues were up 23.0%, Still, researchers say that “news is becoming a more important and pervasive part of people’s lives” — and that “could prove a saving factor for the future of journalism.” Here are some of the highlights for TV news:

Broadcast networks: Collectively, the evening newscasts for ABC, CBS, and NBC attracted an average of 22.5M people a night — up 4.5% vs 2010. One possible reason for the uptick: The nightly news shows are more differentiated than they’ve been in years. CBS notably tacked toward hard news after Scott Pelley replaced Katie Couric; for example, the network paid more attention to the economy than ABC and NBC did, and devoted far less time than ABC did to the trial of Michael Jackson’s doctor. The number of stories with overseas datelines was up 9% at all of the newscasts, including the PBS NewsHour.

The increase in nightly viewing may be cold comfort for those who have seen ratings fall 54.5% since 1980. Still, Pew notes, the lowest rated network newscast (the CBS Evening News) on average attracted more than twice the audience of the highest rated cable news show (Fox News’ The O’Reilly Factor). Morning newscast viewing also grew, averaging 13.1M, up 5.4%. It’s the first time that’s grown in seven years.

Pew estimates that ABC News revenues rose 2.5% to about $650M. CBS News was probably up 1% to $430M. NBC News also likely saw revenues rise 1% to $860M from its broadcast shows — and to more than $2B when its cable operations including CNBC and MSNBC are thrown in.

Cable: The story here is more complicated. About 3.3M people tuned into CNN, Fox News, and MSNBC on an average night, up about 1%. But after their double-digit fall in 2010, the slight gain in a news-filled year makes Pew uncertain that cable news “has fully halted its ratings slide.” The changes in prime time also were lopsided, unlike for the broadcasters where all three improved. CNN’s prime time results were +16% (to 654,500), MSNBC was +3% (773,000), Fox News was -3% (1.9M) — and HLN plummeted 11% (385,500).

During the day the three major cable news nets lured about 2M, +2%. MSNBC was +20% to (385,500), CNN was +5% (474,000), Fox was -2% (1.1M) — and HLN was flat (250,000). Pew says that CNN benefited from its strategy to sharpen its identity as a substantial and independent source of global news. MSNBC successfully established itself as the specialist in political news. As for the decline at Fox, Pew says that’s probably due to the efforts by its chief, Roger Ailes, to oust Glenn Beck and tone down the tough talk following the Giffords shooting. “Ailes said he wanted Fox hosts to scale back the rhetoric, not out of any ideological softening, but for the pragmatic reasons that it would not be good politics, or good business, to let his channel be defined by the fringe,” Pew says.

The audience figures are just part of the story for cable: Revenues for Fox News last year probably were +9.4% to $1.5B, with CNN and HLN +7.3% to $1.3B, and MSNBC +8.1% to $409.3M, Pew says citing data from SNL Kagan.

Local TV: “After years of decline, local television news showed new signs of life in 2011,” Pew says. The audience for morning newscasts was +1.4%, while late evening news was +3%. Part of the increase may be attributable to a 14% jump in late night news in February — a sweeps month when Nielsen collects detailed info about local viewing — as people looked for the latest headlines about the uprisings in Egypt and Libya. Still, the figures may underestimate the jump in local news viewing. Lots of stations added news to their schedules: some use it to beef up their pre-dawn programming, and in mid-afternoon to fill the hole left by the end of Oprah Winfrey’s syndicated talk show.

News may have regained some of its financial luster as stations use it as an attraction for their Web sites, and as they forge partnerships with other local TV outlets, newspapers, and radio stations. A recent survey found that 59% of stations collaborate with others to produce news.

It’s hard to put a revenue figure on local newscasts. Pew notes that station ad sales were -6.7% in 2011 to $18.1B — but they’re also collecting new revenue from pay TV retransmission consent payments. Still, the research group says, “After years of losing audience and revenue, local television news appears to have settled into a kind of equilibrium.” Although stations made less last year than they did in 2010, “the decline was about what might be expected in a non-election year.”

http://www.deadline.com/2012/03/tv-news-broke-its-losing-streak-in-action-packed-2011-study/

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« Reply #6381 on: Mar 19th, 2012, 11:47am »






Uploaded by mattonair on Mar 17, 2012

This video was taken in in the spring of 2010 at either O'Hare or Midway Airport.

A toddler in a wheelchair is stopped by the TSA at the Airport in Chicago and forced to into a sequestered area. On his way to a family vacation in Disney, this 3 year old boy is in a body cast for a broken leg. Despite assurances from his father that "everything is ok", he is physically trembling with fear while he watches his two siblings, mother, father, grandfather and grandmother pass through along with everyone else...only to be singled out.

He simply does not understand what is happening and why.

http://www.MattOnAir.com

This video was taken in in the spring of 2010 at either O'Hare or Midway Airport.

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« Reply #6382 on: Mar 19th, 2012, 12:13pm »

Good morning Crystal

Isn't it just so absolutely ridiculous and pathetic!! sad

Is this the same case or is it another case?

TSA Terrorize A Disabled 4 Year Old Boy By Removing His Leg Braces, Then Forcing Him To Walk
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tqCuCm5FPjE&feature=player_embedded

Luvey

on Mar 19th, 2012, 11:47am, WingsofCrystal wrote:



Uploaded by mattonair on Mar 17, 2012

This video was taken in in the spring of 2010 at either O'Hare or Midway Airport.

A toddler in a wheelchair is stopped by the TSA at the Airport in Chicago and forced to into a sequestered area. On his way to a family vacation in Disney, this 3 year old boy is in a body cast for a broken leg. Despite assurances from his father that "everything is ok", he is physically trembling with fear while he watches his two siblings, mother, father, grandfather and grandmother pass through along with everyone else...only to be singled out.

He simply does not understand what is happening and why.

http://www.MattOnAir.com

This video was taken in in the spring of 2010 at either O'Hare or Midway Airport.

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« Reply #6383 on: Mar 19th, 2012, 1:49pm »

You know what I would have said and what I would have done if I would have been his dad?

I would have asked them in all seriousness if they are %$&$§ nuts, would have taken my child, would have called my family and would have boycotted that flight and started to boycott flying in general. We don't need this!
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« Reply #6384 on: Mar 19th, 2012, 2:38pm »

on Mar 19th, 2012, 12:13pm, Luvey wrote:
Good morning Crystal

Isn't it just so absolutely ridiculous and pathetic!! sad

Is this the same case or is it another case?

TSA Terrorize A Disabled 4 Year Old Boy By Removing His Leg Braces, Then Forcing Him To Walk
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tqCuCm5FPjE&feature=player_embedded

Luvey



Hi Luvey cheesy

I don't know if this is the same case.

Crystal

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« Reply #6385 on: Mar 19th, 2012, 2:41pm »

on Mar 19th, 2012, 1:49pm, philliman wrote:
You know what I would have said and what I would have done if I would have been his dad?

I would have asked them in all seriousness if they are %$&$§ nuts, would have taken my child, would have called my family and would have boycotted that flight and started to boycott flying in general. We don't need this!


Hey Phil,

I'm not even going to type what I'm thinking. I'll just have to come back and take it out..............

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« Reply #6386 on: Mar 19th, 2012, 5:33pm »

Isaac Asimov Memorial Debate Tuesday March 20, 7:30 PM Eastern time -- faster than light neutrinos

People may be interested in tuning in to the Isaac Asimov Memorial Debate hosted by the Hayden Planetarium in New York tomorrow evening (Tuesday) at 6:30 PM central time.

The topic of the debate ( http://www.amnh.org/calendar/event/2012-Isaac-Asimov-Memorial-Debate:-Faster-Than-the-Speed-of-Light/ ) will be the recent results from the OPERA experiment at CERN.

OPERA initially reported the apparent observation of faster-than-light neutrinos and then apparently retracted their result. The debate panel, with representatives both from CERN and from outside the OPERA collaboration, will include Gaby Gonzalez.

To watch the debate streamed live, tune in to: http://www.amnh.org/live/.
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« Reply #6387 on: Mar 20th, 2012, 08:06am »

on Mar 19th, 2012, 5:33pm, Swamprat wrote:
Isaac Asimov Memorial Debate Tuesday March 20, 7:30 PM Eastern time -- faster than light neutrinos

People may be interested in tuning in to the Isaac Asimov Memorial Debate hosted by the Hayden Planetarium in New York tomorrow evening (Tuesday) at 6:30 PM central time.

The topic of the debate ( http://www.amnh.org/calendar/event/2012-Isaac-Asimov-Memorial-Debate:-Faster-Than-the-Speed-of-Light/ ) will be the recent results from the OPERA experiment at CERN.

OPERA initially reported the apparent observation of faster-than-light neutrinos and then apparently retracted their result. The debate panel, with representatives both from CERN and from outside the OPERA collaboration, will include Gaby Gonzalez.

To watch the debate streamed live, tune in to: http://www.amnh.org/live/.


Good morning Swamprat,

Thanks for this heads-up, it sounds like it will be very interesting.

Crystal
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« Reply #6388 on: Mar 20th, 2012, 08:09am »

Chicago Sun Times

ASSOCIATED PRESS
Last Modified: Mar 19, 2012 06:26PM
ACAPULCO, Mexico (AP)

Gunmen ambushed and killed 12 police officers who had been sent to investigate the beheadings of 10 people in southern Guerrero state, Mexican authorities said Monday.

Guerrero state police spokesman Arturo Martinez said six state and six local officers were killed Sunday night on a road leading out of the town of Teloloapan. Another 11 officers were wounded.

The attack on the officers occurred as they were traveling in six patrol pickups and searching for the bodies of seven men and three women whose severed heads were dumped outside the town’s slaughterhouse earlier Sunday, Martinez said.

The heads were left with a message threatening the La Familia drug cartel, whose home base is in neighboring Michoacan state.

Teloloapan is near the area shared by both Guerrero and Michoacan states and known as Tierra Caliente for its steamy weather.

The region is a violent, mountainous zone that has been used by drug traffickers to grow marijuana and opium poppies for years. It has been plagued by drug violence in recent years as drug gangs fight to control the area. Authorities say La Familia has been severely battered in the fighting.

Soldiers have been sent to the area but that hasn’t stopped gunmen from killing priests, politicians, police chiefs, or anyone else who gets in the way.

Two years ago, nine police officers were kidnapped in Teloloapan when they were investigating the death of a man in the village of El Revelado. The bodies of eight of the officers were found days later. Six had been dismembered. One was found alive.

More than 47,000 people have died in drug violence nationwide since President Felipe Calderon began a crackdown on drug cartels in December 2006.

http://www.suntimes.com/news/world/11404685-418/gunmen-kill-12-cops-investigating-beheadings-of-10-people-in-mexico.html

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« Reply #6389 on: Mar 20th, 2012, 08:12am »

Washington Post

Dozens killed in attacks across Iraq ahead of Arab League summit

By Alice Fordham and Aziz Alwan
Tuesday, March 20, 3:08 AM
BAGHDAD

At least 48 people were killed across Iraq on Tuesday by a series of bombings and shootings, despite tight security ahead of next week’s meeting of the Arab League.

Two explosions rocked central Baghdad, where city officials said five people were killed near a major bus station, and a car bomb injured several people outside the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, the center of planning for the upcoming summit.

The Shiite holy city of Karbala, a popular pilgrimmage site, was targeted, and 10 people were killed. Attacks in Diyala and Anbar provinces and the central city of Hilla left at least another eight dead. In the ethnically mixed northern city of Kirkuk, 13 police officers were killed when a car bomb detonated outside a police station.

The violence, which bore all the hallmarks of the militant group al-Qaeda in Iraq, followed the mass killing of more than 20 police officers in Anbar province this month and an attack on police cadets in February. The wave of attacks is worrying Iraqi and Western officials alike.

“I would classify what we are seeing as a resurgent al-Qaeda,” said one American official in an interview this month. Speaking anonymously because of the sensitivity of the subject, he said the organization is “tremendously resilient, and I don’t see their ideology going away any time soon.”

“You have to put pressure on al-Qaeda by decapitating them over and over again,” the official added.

When American troops departed Iraq at the end of last year, they left behind security forces that had improved rapidly in recent years but still lacked vital intelligence-gathering capacity and the forensic training needed to investigate and prevent attacks.

Tuesday’s coordinated, nationwide attacks struck a blow to hopes among Iraqi officials that the Arab League summit set to take place at the end of the month would go ahead as planned.

Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki and his officials have gone to great lengths to encourage Arab leaders to attend the meeting, seeing it as symbolic of Iraq’s return to sovereignty and normalcy in the wake of the American withdrawal.

But terror groups are likely to increase their efforts as the meeting approaches. Parliament speaker Osama al-Nujayfi told reporters last month that a similar series of bombings “aimed to spark sectarian strife among the Iraqi people, and to prevent the Arab League meeting from being held.”

Military commanders say they have called in forces from across Iraq to secure Baghdad ahead of the summit, are planning to halt air traffic for several days before the event begins and might shut down parts of Baghdad.

But Maj. Gen. Hassan al-Baydhani of Baghdad’s military command told the Associated Press last week that he anticipated attacks before the summit.

“Our war with terrorism is still ongoing,” Baydhani said Monday. “Our enemy is not easy.”

http://www.washingtonpost.com/world/dozens-killed-in-attacks-across-iraq-ahead-of-arab-league-summit/2012/03/20/gIQA2aaxOS_story.html?hpid=z3

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