Re: Stuff & Nonsense
« Reply #6435 on: Mar 28th, 2012, 07:19am »
Astronomers Detect Vast Amounts of Gas and Dust Around Black Hole in Early Universe
ScienceDaily (Mar. 27, 2012)
Using the IRAM array of millimetre-wave telescopes in the French Alps, a team of European astronomers from Germany, the UK and France have discovered a large reservoir of gas and dust in a galaxy that surrounds the most distant supermassive black hole known. Light from the galaxy, called J1120+0641, has taken so long to reach us that the galaxy is seen as it was only 740 million years after the Big Bang, when the universe was only 1/18th of its current age.
This image shows the bright emission from carbon and dust in a galaxy surrounding the most distant supermassive black hole known. At a distance corresponding to 740 Million years after the Big Bang, the carbon line, which is emitted by the galaxy at infrared wavelengths (that are unobservable from the ground), is redshifted, because of the expansion of the Universe, to millimetre wavelengths where it can be observed using facilities such as the IRAM Plateau de Bure Interferometer. (Credit: Image courtesy of Royal Astronomical Society (RAS))
Team leader Dr. Bram Venemans of the Max-Planck Institute for Astronomy in Heidelberg, Germany will present the new discovery on Wednesday 28 March at the National Astronomy Meeting in Manchester.
The Institut de Radioastronomie Millimetrique (IRAM) array is made up of six 15-m size telescopes that detect emission at millimetre wavelengths (about ten thousand times as long as visible light) sited on the 2550-m high Plateau de Bure in the French Alps. The IRAM telescopes work together to simulate a single much larger telescope in a so-called interferometer that can study objects in fine detail.
A recent upgrade to IRAM allowed the scientists to detect the newly discovered gas and dust that includes significant quantities of carbon. This is quite unexpected, as the chemical element carbon is created via nuclear fusion of helium in the centres of massive stars and ejected into the galaxy when these stars end their lives in dramatic supernova explosions.
Dr Venemans comments: "It’s really puzzling that such an enormous amount of carbon-enriched gas could have formed at these early times in the universe. The presence of so much carbon confirms that massive star formation must have occurred in the short period between the Big Bang and the time we are now observing the galaxy.”
From the emission from the dust, Venemans and his team are able to show that the galaxy is still forming stars at a rate that is 100 times higher than in our Milky Way.
They give credit to the IRAM upgrade that made the new discovery possible. "Indeed, we would not have been able to detect this emission only a couple years ago." says team member Dr Pierre Cox, director of IRAM.
The astronomers are excited about the fact that this source is also visible from the southern hemisphere where the Atacama Large Millimeter/submillimeter Array (ALMA), which will be the world's most advanced sub-millimetre / millimetre telescope array, is currently under construction in Chile. Observations with ALMA will enable a detailed study of the structure of this galaxy, including the way the gas and dust moves within it.
Dr Richard McMahon, a member of the team from the University of Cambridge in the UK is looking forward to when ALMA is fully operational later this year. “The current observations only provide a glimpse of what ALMA will be capable of when we use it to study the formation of the first generation of galaxies."
Re: Stuff & Nonsense
« Reply #6436 on: Mar 28th, 2012, 07:32am »
Baseball brings smiles to children devastated by Japan quake, tsunami
Mariners manager Eric Wedge and players view damage firsthand as a nation tries to rebuild one year later.
By Geoff Baker Originally published March 27, 2012 at 10:02 PM Seattle Times staff reporter
ISHINOMAKI, Japan — Pictures alone don't do justice to what this city lost on March 11, 2011.
That requires being here and taking a whiff of the air. Just over one year after a magnitude 9.0 earthquake sent a wall of water crashing into this port community of 164,000 people, the stale air still suffocates with the smell of decay.
With the smell of death.
Seattle Mariners pitcher Hector Noesi, left, serves tonjiru (miso soup) Tuesday to residents of Ishinomaki, Japan, as fellow M's pitcher Hisashi Iwakuma, right, looks on.
More than 3,800 residents of Ishinomaki died that day from the Great East Japan Earthquake and tsunami, the most of any city hit. And the rot from flattened neighborhoods, failed sewer lines and piles of abandoned garbage, mixed with seawater that flooded miles inland, creates a stench that tells you something awful happened here.
Not far from the skeletal hulks of ruined factories and twisted, smashed cars neatly stacked three and four high sits a municipal baseball stadium where the city's children used to play. For one hour on a sunny Tuesday afternoon, those youngsters got a rare chance to smile when members of the Mariners and Oakland Athletics walked on to that field with them and reminded folks what having fun used to be like.
"It's important for the kids and for this area," community organizer Shoshin Kometani, said through an interpreter as he stood on the dirt infield watching excited youngsters dash about trying to get closer to the big leaguers. "As you can see the faces on these kids, they're smiling and they're happy. ... And that's really important."
It would be impossible for a billion-dollar sport to open its regular season Wednesday morning at 3:10 a.m. with a game between Mariners and the Oakland Athletics in the princely Tokyo Dome without acknowledging the bad smell from 210 miles to the east.
Kometani looked on as Mariners pitcher Hisashi Iwakuma, who played in nearby Sendai for Rakuten of the Japanese League last season, led a group of youngsters through a brief workout. Joining him were manager Eric Wedge and his wife, Kate, pitcher Hector Noesi, infielder Alex Liddi and A's pitchers Tyson Ross, Tom Milone and Evan Scribner.
They put 100 local youth-league players through their paces, with hundreds more of their parents, friends and inhabitants of local shelters watching from the stands and sidelines.
"It's going to be very helpful to see them, to say hello," Iwakuma had said of the children, through an interpreter, just before taking the field. "It's been a year after and they still need help."
Various teams and individual players have donated millions to the cause. Mariners star Ichiro, who was in Tokyo working out with the rest of the team, donated $1.25 million to the Japanese Red Cross.
But so much remains to be done. Ishinomaki, Everett's sister city, is one town among dozens devastated by the quake and tsunami, stretching across more than 200 miles of coastline. The Japanese government grappled for months trying to get an adequate food supply to the region. The death toll has surpassed 19,000.
This isn't something Major League Baseball can solve with a few seven-figure checks. Instead, MLB and its Players Association is sticking to what it knows; cutting a $500,000 check to get the stadium up and running again while hoping sports celebrities raise awareness and make life a little easier.
"Some of the kids had to move into temporary housing," Kometani said of the young players taking part in the clinic. "Some had to leave Ishinomaki and move to a different prefecture. So, the community has been through some very sad things."
Unemployment has doubled in the city after a whaling community there saw 80 percent of its homes and factories leveled.
A 35-foot-high fish-oil tank blocks the right lane of the main highway, forcing cars to swerve around it. The tank, painted red like a giant soup can to attract visitors to a whaling factory, was swept more than 1,000 feet by the wave.
Also visible from the highway is charred Kadonowaki Elementary School, which caught fire when the tsunami slammed cars into it and ignited with oil in the water. At the nearby Okawa Elementary, 70 children and nine teachers were swept away.
"You hear about it, but to see it is another thing," Wedge said of his view out the window of a bus. "And then, you think about the area that we saw and multiply that by another 150 miles of devastation."
More than 50,000 residents were instantly homeless by the initial 16-foot wave, which was relatively small compared to other waves that hit the coast. But it packed a lethal punch because the flat land around the city made escape to high ground difficult. The tsunami flooded 46 percent of the city, which shifted four feet downward by the initial quake.
Wedge said he hoped the players being there would raise world awareness about the area's ongoing issues.
But he also said these people need something more: the ability to forget their troubles for an afternoon. And for a short time, he and the Mariners helped them do that. Local residents began massing in the parking lot outside the stadium an hour before the players arrived.
Wedge and the players got off the bus just before 1 p.m. local time. They walked a gantlet of fans — most of them children — high-fiving and chatting on their way into the ballpark.
"Konichiwa! Konichiwa!" the children called out, saying "Hello" in Japanese.
Once inside, the young baseball-clinic participants, dressed in Mariners and A's uniforms, could barely contain themselves as local officials gave speeches and accepted the check from Major League Baseball and the Players Association.
The stadium wasn't touched by the tsunami, but did suffer some quake damage. It was also used as a staging facility for Japanese military assisting with the relief effort, which ruined most of the field and dugouts.
The money will pay for a new drainage system and synthetic infield surface so children can use the field year-round.
When Wedge visited Japan in January to prepare for the trip, he thought the money would be better used assisting people in temporary housing. Then he was told how much the ballpark had meant to the community as a gathering place for families.
"From my understanding, one of the lights of that community was that baseball field," the Mariners manager said. "And it was like nonstop. There was always something going on there. Nonstop. And then, when they lost that, it was just on top of everything else."
Wedge gathered kids in the far reaches of the outfield, and with Mariners infielder Liddi, demonstrated proper hitting technique.
"Barrel of the bat, barrel of the bat," he kept telling the youngsters, as they lined ball after ball off a tee.
Nearby, parents stood, watching. Some kids lost a mother or father in the disaster, but the parents who were here bore smiles as big as their children's.
"That's the way they should look all the time," Wedge said. "But, you know, they haven't had a lot of that."
Less than an hour later, the players were gone, to catch the high-speed train back to Tokyo. But, for a moment, they had time to reflect on something other than giant cans, piles of crushed cars and the stench that won't go away.
In Israel, a battle to save the ancient Canaan dog
By Nicolas Brulliard, Published: March 27 The Washington Post SHA’AR HAGAI, Israel
Pricked, pointy ears and almond-shaped brown eyes. A tan or black-and-white coat and a tail that curls upward. For many in Israel, this is the description of a pesky stray that feeds on garbage. But for a passionate few, it is a cultural treasure that should be preserved.
Meet the biblical dog.
“When they talk about dogs in the Bible, it was these,” says Myrna Shiboleth, who has done more than anyone to rescue the breed formally known as Canaan dog. “It was the same dog.”
The archaeological evidence bears it out, from 1st-century rock carvings in the Sinai to the skeletons of more than 700 dogs from the 5th century B.C. discovered south of Tel Aviv. When Jesus and Moses turned their heads to the sound of a barking dog, it was the Canaan that they saw.
But after surviving the birth of three religions, the Crusades and countless wars, the Canaan dog — one of the oldest known breeds of pariah dogs — is the focus of a battle that pitches people who believe in the value of preserving the primitive breed for scientific and sentimental reasons against modern bureaucracy. As often is the case in Israel, land use is at the heart of the battle.
In recent decades, scores of Canaan dogs were destroyed in rabies eradication programs, and now only a few hundred subsist in the Negev desert, often living at the edges of Bedouin camps. But as Bedouins increasingly settle in cities, the Canaan dogs either are left to fend for themselves or lose their breed’s traits by mating with urban dogs.
And now the Israeli government is threatening to close the operation that has been helping preserve the breed by collecting rare specimens in the desert, breeding them and shipping their offspring to kennels around the globe, where they are recognized by major organizations, from the American Kennel Club to the Federation Cynologique Internationale, the international canine federation.
In an eviction notice sent late last year, the Israel Land Authority argues that Sha’ar Hagai Kennels is illegally occupying government land. Sha’ar Hagai’s Shiboleth says she moved more than 40 years ago to what was then an abandoned water station and paid rent to the water company only to find out that it didn’t own the land. She says she asked the land authority about regularizing her situation and heard nothing — until she received the eviction notice. Moving, she says, would be prohibitively expensive, and few neighborhoods would welcome noisy kennels.
In an online petition, about 2,000 people from dozens of countries and nearly every U.S. state have taken up Shiboleth’s case, voicing outrage at what they see as Israel’s lack of attention to the fate of the “holy dog.” One even goes so far as to compare its fate to that of the Jewish people and their narrow escape from annihilation.
The matter is to be decided in court. If she is not successful there, Shiboleth and her dogs face an exodus that will most likely put an end to her breeding program.
What surprises many people is that the dog is getting so little support compared with other beasts of the Good Book.
Starting in the 1960s, Israel launched an ambitious program to bring back “the animals of the Bible to the land of the Bible,” says David Saltz, an ecology professor at the Ben Gurion University of the Negev. Targeted species included the Asiatic wild ass (a big success) and the ostrich (a complete failure). The reintroduction efforts went to extreme lengths: In one spectacular instance, four Persian fallow deer were smuggled out of Iran.
The Canaan dog has been recognized as Israel’s national breed, but today’s conservationists don’t put the hound on a par with the Arabian white oryx, which receives full support from Israeli authorities after four of the antelopes, purchased from the Phoenix Zoo, were reintroduced in 1978.
The Canaan dog is “what they call a mutt,” Saltz says.
A mutt is what the Canaan dog was to most observers until an Austrian biologist came to Palestine in the 1930s and started looking for dogs that could serve the nascent Jewish defense forces. Rudolphina Menzel identified them as a native breed that tolerated the climate well and named them after the biblical Land of Canaan.
The pooches were used in patrols and landmine detection units and performed as messenger dogs. Jewish settlers also prized the Canaan’s alertness and counted on them to bark at Arab intruders.
In 1965, the first Canaan dogs arrived in the United States, and it didn’t take long for Shiboleth — then an animal trainer in New York — to get hooked. She moved to Israel in 1969 with an American-born female Canaan in tow. In 1970, she and a handful of others founded Sha’ar Hagai in the Judean Hills, using Menzel’s breeding stock and dogs collected in the wild.
The Canaan dog was originally popular with the Jewish diaspora, but soon others were attracted by its natural look. Its profile was raised when John F. Kennedy Jr. purchased a Canaan in the 1990s. Today, the dog can be found in households across much of Europe and North America as well as in Russia and South Africa.
There are 2,000 to 3,000 Canaan dogs across the world, but most are closely related. If the gene pool is not continually strengthened with new bloodlines from the wild, experts say, the breed could develop degenerative diseases.
“Unless some true effort is made, they will just fade into history, and that would be a shame,” says Janice Koler-Matznick, an Oregon-based biologist and expert on primitive dog breeds.
The only person who regularly provides fresh blood is Shiboleth, who makes a couple of annual trips to the desert to find wild dogs or to get her females to mate with the Bedouins’ males.
Often, she comes back empty-handed.
“They’re disappearing much faster than I thought they would,” she says.
Cynthia Dodson and David Golden of Falls Church say they were “quite analytical” when they decided to get a dog 14 years ago. They liked the look of the pariah dogs they saw during trips overseas and wanted a dog that would be free of the genetic ailments that affect many breeds. They settled on the Canaan and got a pair.
“You can see in all their behavior how they’re closer to the wild, but they’re still very domesticated,” Golden says. “It’s not like we brought wolves into the house.”
Golden says he likes to imagine the relatives of his two dogs frolicking in the wilderness and jokes that he and Dodson tell stories to their couch-loving dogs about their wilder cousins.
“The story is important to us and to a lot of people,” he says. “To lose this linkage [to] thousands of years would be a real tragedy.”
Hi WingsofCrystal, thanks for putting this article on. I remember seeing a doc about these wild animals, I'm apalled about Israel having had eradication programmes, and apparently has no interest in preserving them today.
I think 'keeping' biblical wildlife roaming the hills and deserts makes a lot of sense, good for tourism, and these Canaan dogs seem to live in harmony with traditional desert dwellers, pups selected as guard dogs whatever.
I suspect the less than favorable attitude over there to the Canaans may have to do with canines being associated with uncleanness, emphatically named as untouchable animal in the Torah.
Let's hope someone in the Israeli gov sees their value...
Let us be sure that those who come after will say of us in our time, that in our time we did everything that could be done. We finished the race; we kept them free; we kept the faith.
Re: Stuff & Nonsense
« Reply #6439 on: Mar 29th, 2012, 07:47am »
Swedish Defense Minister Quits Amid Saudi Scandal Mar. 29, 2012 - 07:55AM By NINA LARSON, Agence France-Presse
STOCKHOLM — Swedish Defense Minister Sten Tolgfors resigned March 29 after weeks of controversy over revelations Sweden planned to help Saudi Arabia build an arms factory, Prime Minister Fredrik Reinfeldt said.
“I have today, upon request from Sten Tolgfors, decided to relieve him (of his duties),” Reinfeldt, the head of Sweden’s center-right government, told a news conference.
Hailing the departing minister for his five years on the job, Reinfeldt stressed that Tolgfors had begun hinting months ago he wanted to leave soon but acknowledged that media focus on the ongoing scandal had hastened his exit.
“The probe and the questions around this issue will continue ... and that is of course a good thing,” Reinfeldt said, adding that Tolgfors would maintain his seat in parliament while Infrastructure Minister Catharina Elmsaeter-Svaerd would temporarily take over the defense portfolio.
Earlier this month public broadcaster Swedish Radio said the Swedish Defence Research Agency (FOI) had secret plans since 2007 to help Saudi Arabia build a plant for the production of anti-tank weapons.
The radio said part of the so-called Project Simoom involved the creation of a shell company called SSTI to handle dealings with Saudi Arabia in order to avoid any direct links to FOI and the government.
FOI director general Jan-Olof Lind said last week he had reported “a suspected crime” following an internal review, and Swedish prosecutor Agneta Hilding Qvarnstroem opened a preliminary investigation into the affair.
Sweden has in the past sold weapons to Saudi Arabia, but classified government documents state that Project Simoom “pushes the boundaries of what is possible for a Swedish authority,” the radio said when it broke the story on March 6.
The story has dominated Swedish headlines since then, with numerous politicians and public figures critical of Sweden’s plans to provide weapons help to a country they describe as a “dictatorship.” They’ve also called for Tolgfors to resign.
Under pressure to come clean, Tolgfors admitted on March 9 he knew of FOI’s plans to help Riyadh build the factory and of the shell company, but he has stressed that no Swedish laws had been broken — something he also reiterated March 29.
“When it comes to the past weeks’ debate on Saudi Arabia, I have nothing more to add,” Tolgfors told the news conference.
The 45-year-old father of two young children insisted he had already planned to resign for both family and other reasons. However, the “media attention in recent weeks has facilitated and accelerated my decision,” Tolgfors said. “I had planned to leave in a few months, but it came now instead.”
Opposition parties were quick to hail Tolgfors’s exit. “I expect that Sten Tolgfors despite his resignation will take part in questioning by parliament’s constitutional committee to help cast light on what has happened,” Urban Ahlin, a spokesman for the main opposition Social Democrats, told the TT news agency.
Last year, Sweden exported defense material worth a total of 13.9 billion kronor ($2.05 billion), and Saudi Arabia was the second-biggest buyer, according to TT.
Re: Stuff & Nonsense
« Reply #6440 on: Mar 29th, 2012, 07:58am »
Algeria refuses French gunman's body for burial PARIS/ALGIERS | Thu Mar 29, 2012 7:11am EDT
(Reuters) - Algerian authorities have refused to allow the body of an al Qaeda-inspired gunman who killed seven people in France this month to be sent there for burial, an Algerian government source and an official at a top French mosque said on Thursday.
Mohamed Merah, a Frenchman of Algerian origin who was shot dead by a police sniper last week following a more than 30-hour siege at his home in the southern city of Toulouse, will instead be buried there, Abdallah Zekri told Reuters.
Zekri, an adviser to the rector of the Grand Mosque of Paris who was in Toulouse dealing with the funeral arrangements, said the mayor of the Algerian village of Bezzaz, where Merah's father wanted him buried, had declined the request for security reasons.
"The mayor of Bezzaz gave a negative response," he said. "He should be buried within 24 hours, probably in the Toulouse region, but it will be kept strictly private."
An Algerian government source confirmed that the North African government had refused to admit Merah's body for burial in his home village, as requested by the gunman's father.
"Algeria has nothing to do with this case, and we do not understand why some circles in France are trying to involve us in it. This is why we took the decision to not admit the body for now in Algeria," said the source, who asked not to be named. "This is a temporary decision."
On Wednesday, Mohamed Merah's father, Mohamed Benalel Merah, told Reuters that transferring the required paperwork from the consulate in Toulouse to the Algerian region of Medea, where the desolate hamlet of Bezzaz is located, meant it could take some time before the body could be flown there.
Merah, 23, a self-styled Islamist radical, confessed during the police standoff to having shot dead three soldiers, a rabbi and three Jewish children at point-blank range in a spate of attacks that shook France a month from a presidential election.
His father has lashed out at French authorities for killing his son rather than arresting him and putting him on trial, and says he wants to sue the French government.
Merah's body is currently at a hospital morgue in Toulouse and prosecutors are investigating his elder brother, Abdelkader, for possible complicity in the case.
(Reporting by Gerard Bon in Paris and Lamine Chikhi in Algiers; Writing by Catherine Bremer; Editing by Toby Chopra)
Re: Stuff & Nonsense
« Reply #6441 on: Mar 29th, 2012, 08:08am »
Louvre uncovers restoration of Leonardo da Vinci's last work Saint Anne
An intense and controversial restoration of the last great work by Leonardo da Vinci, The Virgin and Child with Saint Anne, goes before the public on Thursday at the Louvre Museum.
A cameraman shoots the painting The Virgin and Child with Saint Anne during the press presentation of the exhibition "Saint Anne, Leonardo da Vinciís ultimate masterpiece" at the Louvre museum in Paris Photo: REUTERS/Charles Platiau
9:55AM BST 29 Mar 2012
The 18-month-long restoration of the painting that Leonardo laboured on for 20 years until his death in 1519 will go a long way to raising "Saint Anne" to its place as one of the most influential Florentine paintings of its time and a step towards the high Renaissance of Michelangelo.
The cleaning has endowed the painting portraying the Virgin Mary with her mother Saint Anne and the infant Jesus with new life and luminosity. Dull, faded hues were transformed into vivid browns and lapis lazuli that had visitors awestruck.
"It's unbelievable, so beautiful. Now you have that same feeling as when you enter Michelangelo's restored Sistine Chapel. Look at the blue!" one visitor, Odile Celier, 66, said on Wednesday.
The exhibit brings together some 130 preparatory drawings and studies by Leonardo and his apprentices – something curator Vincent Delieuvin likened to "a police investigation" – tracing the painting's conception and revealing to experts today the entire development over the last 20 years of Leonardo's life.
Almost like detective work, the impressive display of sketch books and mathematical diagrams hold clues not just to unlocking the art behind the painting, but – for the man who was more famous in his day as an engineer – the years of scientific research that defined his work.
"The exhibit is a science workshop," Delieuvin said. "For Leonardo, art is founded on theoretical knowledge of nature and its functioning."
In one carnet spilling with mathematical sketches, we see how over several years he painstakingly studied light refracting from opaque objects. It decodes the technique that made Leonardo famous. The Saint Anne painting is a glowing example clearly seen in the blue opaque mantle with its almost imperceptible play on light and shadow.
The key to the hazy realism of the tree, too, with the subtle contrast of light in its leaves was cracked by infrared used during the restoration. To get this effect, Leonardo first painted the entire tree structure in full and only afterwards painted the foliage on top.
Another notebook astounds in its detailed analysis of water and air compression that shows the thinking that went into creating the sweeping blue and grey mountains rising up behind Saint Anne and child.
Like the novel "The da Vinci Code," the restoration of the master's last work has been accompanied by high-level intrigue worthy of a political thriller.
Seventeen years ago, the Louvre abandoned an attempt to clean the painting amid fears over how the solvents were affecting the sfumato, a painting technique that Leonardo mastered.
After the cleaning was eventually given the green light in 2009, two of France's top art experts – Jean-Pierre Cuzin and Segolene Bergeon Langle – resigned last year from the Louvre advisory committee responsible for the restoration, amid reports they were outraged that restorers were over-cleaning the work to a brightness Leonardo never intended.
The museum confirmed to The Associated Press last year's resignations but said it could give no further details on the events.
However, on seeing the final product, Bergeon Langle, France's national authority on art restoration, has partly buried the hatchet.
In an interview in the Louvre's in-house magazine, she said she has been reassured on some aspects that bothered her. But she also said she remained unhappy about other points of the restoration. She notably criticised the decision to remove a white patch on the body of the infant Jesus, which she said was painted by Leonardo himself.
Whether it was done by the Renaissance man we will never know, an artist who made only 18 works – all unfinished.
Indeed, mystery still shrouds much of Leonardo's career.
A discovery restorers stumbled across during the cleaning of the Saint Anne painting points to another mystery, this one in Leonardo's hometown of Florence and linked to his missing masterpiece "The Battle of Anghiari" also known as "The Lost Leonardo."
After infrared photography was used to scan the Louvre work, the exhibit shows that two pictures were found that had been secretly hidden in the painting for hundreds of years.
One, drawn by a left-handed artist, is thought to be by Leonardo, who was himself left-handed.
It is a depiction of the hatchings on a horse's head, similar to that in the mural of "The Battle of Anghiari."
Curator Delieuvin would not speculate on the finding – or another more dramatic discovery linked to the lost work revealed earlier this month in Florence.
There, researchers said they may have discovered traces of this lost mural by da Vinci by poking a probe through cracks in a 16th century fresco by Giorgio Vasari painted on the wall of the Palazzo Vecchio, one of the city's most famous buildings.
The research team leader Maurizio Seracini of the University of California said "The Battle of Anghiari" could be hidden behind the fresco done by Vasari years later.
Seracini said that Vasari, an admirer of the Renaissance, would never have destroyed a da Vinci work.
He pointed out a small but possibly telling clue: painted on a tiny flag in Vasari's fresco are the words "Cerca trova" – Italian for "seek and you will find."
The Louvre exhibit, "Saint Anne, Leonardo da Vinci's Ultimate Masterpiece," runs from March 29 to June 25.
Re: Stuff & Nonsense
« Reply #6445 on: Mar 29th, 2012, 3:42pm »
Rest In Peace, Sgt. Weichel. God Bless you and your family.
Army sergeant who gave life to save Afghan child being flown home for burial
Published March 29, 2012 FoxNews.com
An Army sergeant and father of three from Rhode Island who gave his life to save an Afghan child from being run over by a 16-ton armored fighting vehicle is being flown back to the U.S. and will be buried Monday.
Sgt. Dennis Weichel, 29, died in Afghanistan last week after he dashed into the path of an armored fighting vehicle to scoop up the little girl, who had darted back into the roadway to pick up shell casings, according to the Army. Weichel, a Rhode Island National Guardsman, was riding in the convoy in Laghman Province in eastern Afghanistan when he jumped out to save the girl, who was unhurt.
“He would have done it for anybody,” Staff Sgt. Ronald Corbett, who deployed with Weichel to Iraq in 2005, said in a quote posted on the U.S. Army website. “That was the way he was. He would give you the shirt off his back if you needed it. He was that type of guy.”
The child was one of several who were collecting the casings, which can be sold and recycled in Afghanistan. Weichel and other soldiers in the convoy got out of their vehicles to shoo the kids from danger as the heavy trucks bore down. But the girl ran back onto the road as a MRAP, or Mine Resistant Ambush Protected Vehicle, approached. Weichel swung the girl to safety but was run over and later died from his injuries at Jalalabad Medical Treatment Facility, according to a press release from the Rhode Island National Guard.
Weichel, who had been a member of the Rhode Island National Guard since 2001, had arrived in Afghanistan a few weeks ago. He was a member of C Company, 1st Battalion, 143 Infantry. Weichel was previously deployed to Iraq in 2005 as a member of 3/172 Det 2 Mountain Infantry.
Weichel, who lived in Providence and was engaged to be married, leaves his parents, fiancee and three young children.
His body is scheduled to be flown to Dover Air Force Base in Delaware on Saturday. Weichel will be buried in Rhode Island Veterans Cemetery in Exeter.
“Tragically, Spc. Weichel has made the supreme sacrifice and at this time, we are mindful of the impact of that sacrifice on his family and friends," said Maj. Gen. Kevin McBride, adjutant general of the Rhode Island National Guard, in a written statement. "We leave no Soldier behind.... and we will not leave Spc. Weichel’s family behind.”
Re: Stuff & Nonsense
« Reply #6448 on: Mar 30th, 2012, 08:03am »
Exclusive: Iran helps Syria ship oil to China: sources
By Jessica Donati LONDON | Fri Mar 30, 2012 8:17am EDT
Iran is helping its ally Syria defy Western sanctions by providing a vessel to ship Syrian oil to a state-run company in China, potentially giving the government of President Bashar al-Assad a financial boost worth an estimated $80 million.
Iran, itself a target of Western sanctions, is among Syria's closest allies and has promised to do all it can to support Assad, recently praising his handling of the year-long uprising against Assad in which thousands have been killed.
China has also shielded Assad from foreign intervention, vetoing two Western-backed resolutions at the United Nations over the bloodshed, and is not bound by Western sanctions against Syria, its oil sector and state oil firm Sytrol.
"The Syrians planned to sell the oil directly to the Chinese but they could not find a vessel," said an industry source who added that he had been asked to help Sytrol execute the deal but did not take part.
The source named the Chinese buyer as Zhuhai Zhenrong Corp, a state-run company hit by U.S. sanctions in January.
A Zhuhai Zhenrong spokeswoman said: "I've never heard about this." She declined further comment.
The U.S. State Department said in January that Zhuhai Zhenrong was the largest supplier of refined petroleum products to Iran, on which the West has imposed sanctions because it suspects Tehran of trying to develop nuclear weapons.
China's willingness to start importing Syrian oil offers a rare break in the country's growing isolation.
Syria, a relatively modest oil exporter, has been unable to sell its crude into Europe, its traditional destination until September last year when European Union and U.S. sanctions halted exports.
The crude oil cargo, worth around $84 million assuming a discounted price of about $100 a barrel, could provide Assad with much-needed funds after another round of sanctions designed to further isolate the country's ailing economy were imposed by the European Union last week.
Syria's Sytrol, which has been on the EU and U.S. sanctions list since last year, referred calls to the country's oil ministry. No one answered repeated calls by Reuters at the oil ministry. Iranian authorities were not available to comment.
The source added Sytrol had enlisted contacts in Venezuela to help find a vessel that could pick up the cargo. The problem was ultimately resolved by the Iranian authorities, who sent the tanker M.T. Tour to take on the cargo.
The Maltese-flagged tanker is owned by shipping firm ISIM Tour Limited, which has been identified by the U.S. Department of Treasury as a front company set up by Iran to evade sanctions.
The M.T. Tour reached the Syrian port of Tartus at the weekend, where it loaded the 120,000 metric tonne (132,277 tons) cargo of light crude oil, according to the industry source and shiptracking data.
Satellite tracking showed the vessel was last spotted near Port Said in Egypt, where is was due to arrive on Wednesday. Its final destination was not available but the industry source said the vessel was likely to head to China or Singapore.
"I was asked to provide an option to ship to southern China or Singapore," the source said.
(Reporting by Jessica Donati; Additional reporting by Chen Aizhu; Editing by Anthony Barker and Giles Elgood)
Re: Stuff & Nonsense
« Reply #6449 on: Mar 30th, 2012, 08:13am »
30 March 2012
French police arrest 19 suspected Islamists, seize weapons
By Edward Cody
PARIS — In a continuing display of firmness against terrorism, President Nicolas Sarkozy announced Friday that police had rounded up 19 Islamic activists and discovered several assault rifles in early-morning raids in Paris and two other French cities.
The raids, carried out by paramilitary anti-terrorism commandos, were part of a crackdown imposed by Sarkozy after a young French extremist of Algerian origin, Mohammed Merah, assassinated seven people between March 11 and 19 in the Toulouse region and then himself was killed March 22 in a shootout with commandos.
Sarkozy’s show of determination against Islamic extremism has been criticized as a calculation to boost his standing in the campaign for a two-round presidential election scheduled April 22 and May 6. Sarkozy, who is running for a second five-year term, has begun to pull even with his main adversary, Francois Hollande of the Socialist Party, after months of trailing in the polls. But he faces attacks for being lax on immigration from the ultra-right Nationalist Front candidate, Marine Le Pen.
Immediately after Merah was slain, Sarkozy announced he would propose a new panoply of anti-terrorism laws for swift enactment, including a provision that would make looking at extremist Islamist Web sites a crime. Since then, however, his aides have pointed out that parliament has suspended work pending the election campaign, putting the proposals into doubt, and others have raised doubts about the constitutionality of such a law.
Sarkozy, in a radio interview, said the 19 taken into custody Friday were not directly linked to the Toulouse killings but were part of “a form of radical Islam” that would not be tolerated in France. He did not say what laws they had violated but suggested at least some of them would be expelled and specified that the raids were carried out “in full accord with the justice system.”
“What happened this morning is going to continue,” Sarkozy added. “There will be other operations that will continue and that will allow us to expel from the national territory people who have no business being here.”
With police cooperation, some of the arrests were filmed by television cameras for broadcast on news programs.
Interior Ministry officials told French reporters that those taken into custody were part of an outlawed group called Forsan al-Izza, which was centered in the Nantes area but has followers in the Toulouse and Paris regions.
The raids followed Thursday’s announcement that the government would refuse visas to four Islamic preachers invited to a convention of the Union of Islamic Organizations of France, which French officials described as sympathetic to the Muslim Brotherhood. The four were identified as Adrima Sabri, a Palestinian; Ayad bin Abdallah al-Qarni and Abdallah Basar, Saudi Arabians; and Sawfat al-Hijazi, an Egyptian.
“The positions and statements of these people, who call for hatred and violence, seriously undermine the principles of the republic in the current context, raising a strong risk of troubling public order,” said a joint communique from the Foreign and Interior ministries.
In addition, two other invitees canceled plans to attend after it was made clear they were unwelcome. They were Youssef Qaradawi, a renowned Egyptian preacher who resides in Qatar and appears regularly on Al-Jazeera television, and Mahmoun al-Masri, an Egyptian.
A seventh preacher and theologian whom officials characterized as undesirable, Tariq Ramadan, has Swiss nationality and thus could not be banned under European Union accords with Switzerland. It was unclear whether he planned to attend.
Sarkozy said he had called the emir of Qatar personally to ask that Qaradawi be prevented from coming to France, adding: “This gentleman is not welcome in the territory of the republic.”
Merah, meanwhile, was buried Thursday in an informal ceremony in Toulouse suburbs attended by several dozen young people but without his family. His father had sought to have his corpse transported to Algeria for burial in the family village but the Algerian government refused to accept it.