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 veryhotthread  Author  Topic: Stuff & Nonsense  (Read 78423 times)
WingsofCrystal
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« Reply #6450 on: Mar 30th, 2012, 08:19am »

TribLive

Mysterious events reported from 48 Pennsylvania counties

By For the Daily Courier
Thursday, March 29, 2012

The year 2011 was another active time period for Pennsylvania residents to report strange observations and encounters with UFOs, Bigfoot and other strange creatures, and various other mysterious events. Stan Gordon, an independent researcher and author, has been keeping records of such anomalistic events from Pennsylvania since 1959, when he was 10 years old.

In 1969, Gordon set up a UFO Hotline through which the public could contact him to report UFO sightings or anything unusual. He has been receiving such reports ever since and continues to do so by phone at 724-838-7768 or e-mail: paufo@comcast.net.

The sighting reports which come to Gordon's attention yearly are either reported directly to him or are reported to other sources such as Peter Davenport's National UFO Reporting Center at www.nuforc.org, the Pennsylvania Chapter of the Mutual UFO Network at www.mufonpa.com, the Pennsylvania Bigfoot Society at www.pabigfootsociety.com or other independent groups and researchers.

During 2011, unusual incidents originated from 48 counties in Pennsylvania.

UFO sightings were responsible for the highest percentage of strange observations reported. Some rather strange creature encounters also came across Gordon's desk, he said. Bigfoot encounters continue to be reported yearly from various locations in the state. An encounter with a large-winged humanoid creature, giant bird sightings, mountain lions, and other creature incidents also reportedly occurred. Among other phenomena reported were strange footprints seen in various locations, unusual sounds and odd photographic images.

Some of the UFO sightings that Gordon looked into in 2011 were natural or man-made objects. The bright planets Venus and Jupiter were commonly misidentified. Bright meteors, a blimp, and what appeared to be launches of homemade hot air balloons or Chinese lanterns led to some UFO reports. On the evening of June 21 in the Pittsburgh area, a defective national weather service balloon following the wind patterns created some UFO reports.

There were numerous reports from various statewide locations of formations of bright orange or orange-red lights during the year. Gordon feels there is no doubt that some of these were launches of some type of hot air balloons. However, some of the reports are more interesting, he said. On the evening of Sept. 24, there were a number of UFO sightings reported around the Pittsburgh area. One sighting in Baldwin Borough, Allegheny County, involved five luminous objects moving in a fixed position. The witnesses were interviewed by fellow researcher Keith Bastianini.

One witness describing the actions of some of the objects commented, "They broke the formation and began maneuvering about under the others. A couple of times it almost seemed as if they would merge together and then separate." For a more detailed account, visit at www.stangordon.info/sightings.htm.

Unidentified Flying Objects sightings of different shapes and sizes occurred all year long. Spherical, cigar, triangular, rectangular and disc-shaped objects were all reported. In August, a daylight observation of a large shiny metallic cigar-shaped object hovering low above the ground was reported in Butler County. In September, near Charleroi, in Washington County, a cigar-shaped object was reported with what appeared to be a row of brightly illuminated rectangular windows. In October, there was a report from Somerset County describing a glowing orange cylindrical-shaped object in a vertical position only about 80 feet above the ground. Other similar sightings were reported elsewhere in the state.

The last UFO incident Gordon received for the year was reported near Latrobe in Westmoreland County. The witness was on Route 30 east in the vicinity of the Walmart Plaza when she noticed a number of vehicles stopped and several people looking toward the sky. What was observed was a large object, which appeared to be more round than oblong and was spinning. Numerous lights could be seen on the lower part of the object.

Eric Altman of the Pennsylvania Bigfoot Society provided details about reported Bigfoot activity in 2011. His group was looking into reports from Adams, Beaver, Cambria, Elk, Fayette, and Forest counties. Gordon received information on possible Bigfoot-related activity in Armstrong and Westmoreland County as well. In November, a truck driver near Jonestown rounded a bend and observed a creature described as 6 feet tall, about 200 pounds in weight and covered with light brown hair, except for the face which was white. In October, three men small game hunting in the Allegheny National State Forest, encountered a 7-to-8-foot tall creature covered in dark brown hair. The beast was said to have been throwing rocks at them and growling.

Fayette County continues to be an active area for reported encounters with these large, hair-covered generally man-like creatures. There were several reports during 2011, including a series of incidents that occurred from August through September. That event began with reports that an overnight security team was hearing unusual sounds almost nightly in the forested areas around the construction site they were guarding. The team claimed they would hear loud high-pitched screams, howls, whoops, wood knocks and even deep guttural growls.

On Sept. 8, the supervisor of the security unit contacted the Pa. Bigfoot Society to report that around 3:30 in the morning, he saw a creature staring at him from around the back of a power supply board on the edge of the property approximately 75 yards away. He watched the creature for several moments until it turned and walked away on two legs into the darkness. The PBS responded with an investigation and a series of unexplained sounds were heard and recorded. Some of these sounds can be heard under the sound tabs at the PBS website at www.pabigfootsociety.com.

To report a UFO, Bigfoot or other strange creature sighting or any unusual incident in Pennsylvania, call Stan Gordon at 724-838-7768 (24 hours) or email: paufo@comcast.net. Visit Stan Gordon's "UFO Anomalies Zone" website at www.stangordon.info for recent reports of unusual incidents from Pennsylvania as well as other events.

http://www.pittsburghlive.com/x/pittsburghtrib/news/regional/s_788743.html

Crystal

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« Reply #6451 on: Mar 30th, 2012, 08:34am »

Wired

March 30, 240 B.C.: Comet Cometh to Cathay
By Randy Alfred
March 30, 2011 | 7:00 am
Categories: 1400 and earlier, Astronomy, Culture


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Halley's Comet passes in front of the Milky Way near its 1986 perihelion.
Image: Kuiper Airborne Observatory/NASA



240 B.C. Chinese astronomers observe a new broom-shaped “star” in the sky. It’s the first confirmed sighting of Halley’s Comet.

Some have made the case that a sighting in the third millennium B.C. is responsible for the alignment of the Sphinx and the pyramids of Giza. Interesting. Even a supposed Chinese sighting in 613 B.C. would be seven years later than the calculated 620 B.C. for a Halley’s passage. Was that a record-keeping error or a different comet?

The 240 B.C. observation coincides with Halley’s computed orbit, but its exact date is a matter of some imprecision. The existing Chinese record is the Records of the Grand Historian, or Shiji (or Shi Chi), written more than a century later around 100 B.C. What the Chinese called a “broom star,” because of its bristly tail, appeared first in the east and then later in the north.

The text adds that it was also seen in the west during the lunar month of May 24 to June 23. Several astronomers calculated in the 1980s that the comet’s closest approach to the sun was between March 22 and May 25 of 240 B.C. Those calculations also confirmed its apparent motion from east to north to west. March 30 is frequently given as the likely date for its first, though not necessarily the brightest, sighting.

Every subsequent passage of the comet was observed and recorded by astronomers in the Middle East, Asia and, eventually Europe. The 1066 appearance coincided with the Battle of Hastings, and an image of the comet was woven into the Bayeux Tapestry. Contemporary accounts say the comet looked to be four times bigger than Venus.

So, Halley: How did this guy get his name on what’s probably the world’s most famous comet? Edmond Halley was the British astronomer who first realized that some of history’s recorded comets were in fact the same darn comet periodically returning to visibility from Earth.

Halley was using a newly discovered mathematical tool: Newton’s calculus. He computed the parabolic orbits in 1705 for 24 comets that had been seen from 1337 until 1698. Hmm. The comets of 1531, 1607 (observed by Johannes Kepler) and 1682 moved in almost identical orbits, about 75 years apart.

Halley tried to account for variations in the orbit that would be caused by the comet passing the large outer planets, and then he predicted its return in 1758. He was right, but just barely, with the comet first seen on Christmas of that year.

Other astronomers took up the cudgels and discovered the same comet had in fact been seen and recorded on most of its 26 previous visits since 240 B.C., every 75 to 76 years. It reappeared in 1835, 1910 and 1986.

So, Halley: How do you pronounce that name, anyway? The conventional pronunciation rhymes with valley. Many Americans rhyme it with daily, thanks largely to the classic 1950s rockers, Bill Haley and the Comets. But if you really want to rock around the orbital clock, linguists and the dude’s descendants agree it’s pronounced Hawley, rhymes with folly.

See you in 2061.

http://www.wired.com/thisdayintech/2011/03/0330ancient-chinese-see-halleys-comet/

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« Reply #6452 on: Mar 31st, 2012, 08:18am »

Washington Post

U.S. expresses concern about treatment of envoy to Russia

By Peter Finn, Published: March 30

The Obama administration has told the Russian government that it is concerned about the harassment of U.S. Ambassador Michael McFaul, who suggested this week that his phone and e-mail account may have been hacked, allowing journalists from state-controlled television to track him.

McFaul, who took up his post in January, noted on his Twitter account that a crew from NTV seems to be aware of his every move, including meetings that have not been publicly announced.

“I respect press right to go anywhere & ask any question,” McFaul tweeted Thursday. “But do they have a right to read my email and listen to my phone?”

Russian news agencies said NTV dismissed McFaul’s complaint, and officials at the station, which is owned by Gazprom, the state-controlled monopoly, said they have a network of informants who provide them with information.

“There’s been a number of incidents since his arrival there that have caused us to have some concerns about his security and safety,” State Department spokesman Mark Toner said Friday. “So as we would in following normal protocol, we’ve raised that with the government of Russia.”

Some Russian commentators have charged that McFaul, who has met with democracy activists involved in the recent street demonstrations in Moscow, is an agent of revolution.

NTV showed footage of McFaul complaining to one of its reporters about his treatment.

“Your ambassador in our country goes around all the time without this sort of thing, not interfering in his work,” McFaul said. “You’re with me everywhere, at home — it’s interesting. Aren’t you ashamed to be doing this? It’s an insult to your country when you do this.”

McFaul, who served on the National Security Council before becoming ambassador and was an advocate of the “reset” in relations with the Kremlin, added that Russia seems like a “wild country.” He later attributed that remark to his “bad Russian” and said that he intended to say that the NTV journalists were acting wildly, not that Russia is wild.

McFaul is not the first ambassador to clash with allies of the Kremlin. Pro-Kremlin youth groups have in the past followed the British and Estonian ambassadors as they moved around Moscow.


http://www.washingtonpost.com/world/national-security/us-expresses-concern-about-treatment-of-envoy-to-russia/2012/03/30/gIQA6e2NmS_story.html

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« Reply #6453 on: Mar 31st, 2012, 08:22am »

Reuters

Syria says revolt over, army to pull out gradually

By Douglas Hamilton and Erika Solomon
BEIRUT | Sat Mar 31, 2012 8:08am EDT

Syria says the year-long revolt to topple President Bashar al-Assad is now over, but it will keep its forces in cities to "maintain security" until it is safe to withdraw in keeping with a U.N.-backed peace deal.

The agreement proposed by United Nations-Arab League special envoy Kofi Annan says the Syrian authorities must be first to withdraw troops and stop violence immediately.

The army kept up an offensive against opposition strongholds on Saturday, pummelling the Khalidiya district of Homs city.

"Mortars are falling every minute and the sounds of explosions are shaking the neighborhood," an activist report said. A child was killed by rocket fire in the al-Bayyada area and a man was killed in crossfire in clashes near a checkpoint.

Rebels battled army forces near a base in Jaramaneh in Damascus province. Five bodies bearing signs of torture were found near Maarat al-Noaman, the report said. A soldier was killed when rebels ambushed a troop carrier in Deraa province.

Despite the violence, Damascus says it has the upper hand.

"The battle to topple the state is over," Syrian Foreign Ministry spokesman Jihad al-Makdissi told Syria TV late on Friday. "Our goal now is to ensure stability and create a perspective for reform and development in Syria while preventing others from sabotaging the path of reform."

His assertion follows army victories over rebel strongholds in the cities of Hama, Homs and Idlib, and Assad's acceptance this week of Annan's plan that does not demand he step down.

Calls by Gulf Arab states to arm the rebels have fizzled. The political opposition remains divided, and prospects of Western-led military intervention are close to zero.

Assad has endorsed Annan's six-point peace plan, which has the U.N. Security Council's unanimous backing, but Western leaders say the 46-year-old Syrian leader has broken similar promises before and must be judged by actions not words.

Assad's opponents have not yet formally accepted the plan.

"FRIENDS OF SYRIA"

They were due to meet the foreign ministers of allied Western powers, including U.S. Secretary of Sate Hillary Clinton, on Sunday at a "Friends of Syria" conference in Turkey, which provides a safe haven for Syrian rebels.

Makdissi said Annan, who had talks with Assad in Damascus on March 10, had acknowledged the government's right to respond to armed violence during the ceasefire phase of the peace plan.

He said Syria's conditions for agreeing to Annan's plan included recognition of its sovereignty and right to security.

"When security can be maintained for civilians, the army will leave, he said. "This is a Syrian matter."

However, Annan's plan says Syria must stop putting troops into cities forthwith and begin taking them out.

"The Syrian government should immediately cease troop movement towards, and end the use of heavy weapons in, population centers, and begin pullback of military concentrations in and around population centers," it states.

"As these actions are being taken on the ground, the Syrian government should work with the envoy to bring about a sustained cessation of armed violence in all its forms by all parties with an effective United Nations supervision mechanism," it says.

The U.N. peacekeeping department will send a team to Damascus soon to begin planning for a possible ceasefire observer mission, Western diplomats said on Thursday, adding that it was unclear the 200 to 250 monitors envisaged would ever be deployed. "We are very far from a peace to keep," one said.

Western diplomats say the key to the implementation of Annan's ceasefire -- the main thrust of the deal -- lies in the sequencing of the army pullback and ending rebel armed attacks.

They say the opposition won't feel safe negotiating before the army halts its offensive, but also note it would be impractical to expect a complete government pullout before the rebels are obliged to respond.

In 2011, an Arab League observer mission sent to oversee the promised withdrawal of the Syrian army from opposition flashpoints collapsed partly over the issue of when and how troops could be withdrawn.

HEZBOLLAH SAYS REVOLT FAILED

More than 9,000 people have been killed by Assad's forces during the revolt, according to the United Nations, while Damascus says it has lost about 3,000 security force members.

"The armed opposition is incapable of toppling the regime," said Sayyed Hassan Nasrallah, leader of Assad's Lebanese ally Hezbollah. Foreign intervention was a "closed subject", he said.

"Betting on military efforts to topple the regime is a losing gamble and the burden is too great: more bloodshed and loss of life and property, to no avail," he said on Friday.

Western and Arab foreign ministers backing Syrians trying to topple Assad head for Istanbul on Saturday for what diplomats predict will be a challenging "Friends of Syria" conference.

They will seek clear endorsement of the Annan plan from the Syrian National Council (SNC), although their own governments are skeptical that Assad will genuinely try to implement it.

In Libya a year ago, the West and the Arabs quickly granted recognition to a revolutionary national council as the sole legitimate government of Libya. They are not close to doing the same for the splintered SNC in Syria, diplomats say.

There is also little chance they will agree to arm rebels.

The Istanbul conference is instead expected to declare strong support for Annan's peace proposals, which do not include an opposition and Arab League demand that Assad go now. It is expected to demand that he order a ceasefire without delay.

If he does not withdraw his forces, the opposition can hardly be expected to begin a dialogue with him, diplomatic sources said. If he does, one question will be how effectively they can persuade disparate armed rebel groups to stop shooting.

The Istanbul conference may press for immediate steps "to accept and implement a daily two-hour humanitarian pause", as Annan's plan stipulates, until all fighting ceases.

If Assad fails to keep his word, Annan would have to decide whether to call time and tell the United Nations he has failed to make peace through a "Syrian-led process".

The issue would then return to the U.N. Security Council, with increased pressure on Assad's allies Russia and China, which have endorsed Annan's mission, to get tough with Damascus.

Russia, however, has warned in advance that it is not up to the "self-styled friends of Syria" to pronounce on Sunday on whether Assad is keeping his part of the Annan deal or not.

Diplomats say "Friends of Syria" powers construe the carefully-worded terms of Annan's six-point plan as intending that Assad will eventually cede power in a political transition. but the language is nuanced to get a step-by-step process going.

"I think inevitably we will see frustration this weekend. We are all frustrated," said one Western diplomat, speaking on condition of anonymity. "It is frustrating that after more than a year, the violence continues in Syria and has been particularly brutal over the last two or three months and at the moment does not seem to be stopping."

(Additional reporting by Adrian Croft in London, John Irish in Paris, Steve Gutterman in Moscow, Dominic Evans in Beirut; Writing by Douglas Hamilton; Editing by Alistair Lyon)

http://www.reuters.com/article/2012/03/31/us-syria-idUSBRE82U07V20120331

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« Reply #6454 on: Mar 31st, 2012, 08:31am »

Science Daily

Bees 'Self-Medicate' When Infected With Some Pathogens
ScienceDaily
March 30, 2012

Research from North Carolina State University shows that honey bees "self-medicate" when their colony is infected with a harmful fungus, bringing in increased amounts of antifungal plant resins to ward off the pathogen.

"The colony is willing to expend the energy and effort of its worker bees to collect these resins," says Dr. Michael Simone-Finstrom, a postdoctoral research scholar in NC State's Department of Entomology and lead author of a paper describing the research. "So, clearly this behavior has evolved because the benefit to the colony exceeds the cost."

Wild honey bees normally line their hives with propolis, a mixture of plant resins and wax that has antifungal and antibacterial properties. Domesticated honey bees also use propolis, to fill in cracks in their hives. However, researchers found that, when faced with a fungal threat, bees bring in significantly more propolis -- 45 percent more, on average. The bees also physically removed infected larvae that had been parasitized by the fungus and were being used to create fungal spores.

Researchers know propolis is an effective antifungal agent because they lined some hives with a propolis extract and found that the extract significantly reduced the rate of infection.

And apparently bees can sometimes distinguish harmful fungi from harmless ones, since colonies did not bring in increased amounts of propolis when infected with harmless fungal species. Instead, the colonies relied on physically removing the spores.

However, the self-medicating behavior does have limits. Honey bee colonies infected with pathogenic bacteria did not bring in significantly more propolis -- despite the fact that the propolis also has antibacterial properties. "There was a slight increase, but it was not statistically significant," Simone-Finstrom says. "That is something we plan to follow up on."

There may be a lesson here for domestic beekeepers. "Historically, U.S. beekeepers preferred colonies that used less of this resin, because it is sticky and can be difficult to work with," Simone-Finstrom says. "Now we know that this is a characteristic worth promoting, because it seems to offer the bees some natural defense."

http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2012/03/120330111027.htm

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« Reply #6455 on: Mar 31st, 2012, 08:42am »

Telegraph

Injured former servicemen attempt to summit Everest

Supported by the charity Walking With The Wounded and its patron Prince Harry, a group of former soldiers who have suffered severe injuries are attempting to reach the summit of Mount Everest.

By Martin Spurr
6:00PM BST 30 Mar 2012

Mount Everest represents a daunting challenge for any able-bodied climber. But today nine wounded servicemen – among them some who have lost limbs or are partially paralysed – will embark on an expedition to do just that supported by the charity Walking With The Wounded.

The team arrived in Nepal on Tuesday and are aiming to make it to Everest Base Camp on April 9, before five of them attempt the summit in late May. It is an ordeal that will test their mental and physical strength to the very edge of human capabilities.

The team’s Expedition Manager is Martin Hewitt, a 31-year-old former captain in the Parachute Regiment. Despite his right arm being paralysed after he was shot in battle five years ago, he has already succeeded in summiting Mt Manaslu in the Himalayas, the eighth highest mountain on the planet. “This one is different”, he says of the Everest trip, which takes extreme climbing to an even greater intensity.

“On a general level, it is about trying to demonstrate what can be achieved post injury. If you’re willing to push yourself and adapt to life with a disability and you are fortunate enough to have a support team, you can be quite surprised by what you can go on to succeed in.”

Martin and his team of former servicemen are able to attempt the climb because of Walking With The Wounded, the aim being to conquer both the mountain and their injuries. The charity was set up two years ago by ex-army officers Simon Daglish and Ed Parker, and raises money to train and educate those with war injuries, to help them make the transition back to civilian life.

Last year, a four-man Walking With The Wounded team skied the 200 nautical miles to the North Pole in thirteen days. The trip attracted much press interest due to the involvement of the charity’s Patron, Prince Harry, who is also supporting the Everest climb.

“I’ve met Prince Harry quite a few times,” says 25-year-old Jaco Van Gass, another expedition member and former soldier in the Parachute Regiment. “I was part of the North Pole team and he joined us on the ice for four or five days.”

In 2009, Jaco lost his arm when he was hit by a rocket-propelled grenade in Afghanistan. This means that the intensive rock climbing and crevasse-crossing that Everest demands will purely come down to “a matter of stability and balance” for him, as well as for Martin.

Support from Prince Harry means a great deal, not only because he is a member of the Royal family but because he is an army officer and of similar age to the team. Jaco recalls his familiarity with the Prince on their previous expedition to the North Pole: “It was quite annoying how good he was because he hadn’t even done a third of the training we had. We were hoping he would actually struggle a bit, but there was no sign of struggle.”

Martin also speaks of the Prince as if he were just a regular army officer. “As a team member and as a friend he is great banter, he gets it. He’s got a role as a patron obviously, but he is also very much one of the team, one of the boys.”

Prince Harry, who saw the team off this week, has said the courage of the expedition team in attempting to scale Everest, “a name to instil fear in the hearts of seasoned mountaineers”, “defies words”. The Walking With The Wounded team will no doubt remember his support as they embark on their uphill journey to the top of the world.

Jaco wants supporters to recognise that this isn’t just about the physical challenge but about raising awareness of the problems wounded servicemen and women face in coming to terms with their injuries. “Every soldier that dies makes headline news, but no one really knows or hears about any of the casualties, the guys getting severely wounded or suffering life-changing injuries. We hope to inspire them, to show them that after injury life does carry on.”


Readers have until April 4 to enter a competition to win a place to travel to Everest Base Camp and meet the expedition.
Visit www.glenfiddich.co.uk/everest for more details.
Or you can donate to the charity by visiting http://walkingwiththewounded.org.uk/everest2012/ and clicking ‘Donate’.


http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/worldnews/9176818/Injured-former-servicemen-attempt-to-summit-Everest.html

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« Reply #6456 on: Mar 31st, 2012, 12:54pm »

Wouldn't it be nice if it was this easy? wink


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« Reply #6457 on: Apr 1st, 2012, 08:12am »

on Mar 31st, 2012, 12:54pm, Swamprat wrote:
Wouldn't it be nice if it was this easy? wink


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It would be absolute heaven!!! laugh

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« Reply #6458 on: Apr 1st, 2012, 08:19am »

New York Times

March 31, 2012
Uranium Mines Dot Navajo Land, Neglected and Still Perilous
By LESLIE MACMILLAN

CAMERON, Ariz. — In the summer of 2010, a Navajo cattle rancher named Larry Gordy stumbled upon an abandoned uranium mine in the middle of his grazing land and figured he had better call in the feds. Engineers from the Environmental Protection Agency arrived a few months later, Geiger counters in hand, and found radioactivity levels that buried the needles on their equipment.

The abandoned mine here, about 60 miles east of the Grand Canyon, joins the list of hundreds of such sites identified across the 27,000 square miles of Navajo territory in Arizona, Utah and New Mexico that are the legacy of shoddy mining practices and federal neglect. From the 1940s through the 1980s, the mines supplied critical materials to the nation’s nuclear weapons program.

For years, unsuspecting Navajos inhaled radioactive dust and drank contaminated well water. Many of them became sick with cancer and other diseases.

The radioactivity at the former mine is said to measure one million counts per minute, translating to a human dose that scientists say can lead directly to malignant tumors and other serious health damage, according to Lee Greer, a biologist at La Sierra University in Riverside, Calif. Two days of exposure at the Cameron site would expose a person to more external radiation than the Nuclear Regulatory Commission considers safe for an entire year.

The E.P.A. filed a report on the rancher’s find early last year and pledged to continue its environmental review. But there are still no warning signs or fencing around the secluded and decaying site. Crushed beer cans and spent shell casings dot the ground, revealing that the old mine has become a sort of toxic playground.

“If this level of radioactivity were found in a middle-class suburb, the response would be immediate and aggressive,” said Doug Brugge, a public health professor at Tufts University medical school and an expert on uranium. “The site is remote, but there are obviously people spending time on it. Don’t they deserve some concern?”

Navajo advocates, scientists and politicians are asking the same question.

The discovery came in the midst of the largest federal effort to date to clean up uranium mines on the vast Indian reservation. A hearing in 2007 before the House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform led to a multiagency effort to assess and clean up hundreds of structures on the reservation through a five-year plan that ends this year.

Yet while some mines have been “surgically scraped” of contamination and are impressive showpieces for the E.P.A., others, like the Cameron site, are still contaminated. Officials at the E.P.A. and the Department of Energy attribute the delay to the complexity of prioritizing mine sites. Some say it is also about politics and money.

“The government can’t afford it; that’s a big reason why it hasn’t stepped in and done more,” said Bob Darr, a spokesman for the Department of Energy. “The contamination problem is vast.”

If the government can track down a responsible party, he said, it could require it to pay for remediation. But most of the mining companies that operated on the reservation have long since gone out of business, Mr. Darr said.

To date, the E.P.A., the Department of Energy and other agencies have evaluated 683 mine sites on the land and have selected 34 structures and 12 residential yards for remediation. The E.P.A. alone has spent $60 million on assessment and cleanup.

Cleaning up all the mines would cost hundreds of millions of dollars, said Clancy Tenley, a senior E.P.A. official who oversees the uranium legacy program for the agency in the Southwest.

Some say the effort has been marred by bureaucratic squabbles and a tendency to duck responsibility. “I’ll be the first to admit that the D.O.E. could work better with the E.P.A.,” said David Shafer, an environmental manager at the energy agency.

Determining whether uranium is a result of past mining or is naturally occurring is “a real debate” and can delay addressing the problem, Mr. Shafer said. He cited seepage of uranium contaminants into the San Juan River, which runs along the boundary of the reservation, as an example. “We need to look at things like this collectively and not just say it’s E.P.A.’s problem or D.O.E.’s problem,” he said.

E.P.A. officials said their first priority was to address sites near people’s homes. “In places where we see people living in close proximity to a mine and there are elevated readings, those are rising to the top of the list for urgent action,” Mr. Tenley said.

Agency officials said they planned a more thorough review of the Cameron site — which still has no warning signs posted — within the next six months.

Meanwhile, Navajos continue to be exposed to high levels of radioactivity in the form of uranium and its decay products, like radon and radium. Those materials are known to cause health problems, including bone, liver, breast and lung cancer.

Lucy Knorr, 68, of Tuba City, Ariz., grew up near the VCA No. 2 mine operated by the Kerr-McGee Corporation, now defunct. Her father, a former miner, died of lung cancer at age 55 in 1980, and her family received a payout of $100,000 under the Radiation Exposure Compensation Act, a law that was enacted after her mother hired a lawyer and testified before Congress.

The program has awarded $1.5 billion for 23,408 approved claims since it was enacted in 1990.

Ms. Knorr’s father was one of hundreds of Navajos who did not wear protective gear while working in the mine. “He’d wash at a basin outside” after leaving the mine, she said, “and the water would just turn yellow.”

The government has been successful in tracking down and holding some former mining companies accountable. The E.P.A. is requiring that General Electric spend $44 million to clean up its Northeast Church Rock Mine, near Gallup, N. M. Chevron is paying to clean up the Mariano Lake Mine, also in New Mexico.

When the government cannot locate a responsible party, which is most often the case, the E.P.A. and the Department of Energy work with the tribal authorities to reach cleanup decisions. In general, the E.P.A. handles mines, while the Energy Department is responsible for the mills where the ore was processed and enriched.

One of the Department of Energy’s biggest priorities is a billion-dollar uranium mine cleanup that is under way in Moab, Utah, and that received $108 million in federal stimulus money and the backing of nine congressmen.

Some Navajo officials point out that Interior Secretary Ken Salazar signed a 20-year moratorium on new uranium and other hard-rock mining claims on one million acres of federal land around the Grand Canyon in January, saying it was needed to preserve the mile-deep canyon and the river that runs through it. The mining industry is challenging that decision in court.

But the Navajo Nation, considered a sovereign government entity, has not gotten similar treatment from the federal government for its land, some of its officials say. The nation has asked for $500 million for mine cleanup, but the money has not materialized, said Eugene Esplain, one of two officials with the Navajo E.P.A. responsible for patrolling an area the size of West Virginia.

Taylor McKinnon, a director at the Center for Biological Diversity, an environmental group that worked to halt new mining claims near the Grand Canyon, said the Cameron site was the worst he had seen in the Southwest. He has even seen cow droppings near the mine, he said, an indication that cattle are grazing there. And “people are eating those livestock,” he said.

Ronald Tohannie, a project manager with the Navajo advocacy group Forgotten People, said the locally grown beef was tested at the slaughterhouse, but not for the presence of radioactive substances like uranium.

When E.P.A. officials in the California office overseeing the region were asked to accompany a reporter to the Cameron mine site, they countered with an offer to visit the Skyline Mine in Utah, on the northern boundary of the reservation in Monument Valley, where a big federal cleanup was completed last October.

The onetime mine, atop a 1,000-foot mesa, provides a sweeping panorama of the red valley below. Just one tiny dwelling is visible, the packed-earth hogan of Elsie Begay, a 71-year-old Navajo woman. Ms. Begay was featured in a series of articles in The Los Angeles Times in 2006 about serious illnesses that several of her family members developed after living in the area for many years.

The publicity “might have bumped the site up the priority list,” said Jason Musante, who oversaw the $7.5 million cleanup of the mine for the E.P.A.

In trailers and cinder-block dwellings on the Navajo reservation, there is deep cynicism and apprehension about the federal effort. “That’s what they want you to see: something that’s all nice and cleaned up,” said the Navajo manager of a hotel near the Skyline mine. He asked not to be identified, saying that he had already come under government scrutiny for collecting water samples from the San Juan River for uranium testing at a private lab.

For some Navajos, the uranium contamination is all of a piece with their fraught relationship with the federal government.

“They’re making excuses, and they’ve always made excuses,” Ms. Knorr said. “The government should have had a law in place that told these mining companies: you clean up your mess when you leave.”

http://www.nytimes.com/2012/04/01/us/uranium-mines-dot-navajo-land-neglected-and-still-perilous.html?_r=1&hp#

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« Reply #6459 on: Apr 1st, 2012, 08:43am »

Der Spiegel

Germany's Best-Loved Cowboy
The Fantastical World of Cult Novelist Karl May
30 March 2012
By Jan Fleischhauer



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Karl May, who died 100 years ago, was an impostor, a liar and a thief -- and one of Germany's most widely read authors.
He embellished his own biography with as much fantasy as the scenarios in his adventure novels, and when the deceit was finally exposed, he never recovered.
But his legend lives on.



Only once did he actually visit those wild, faraway countries where he had so fearlessly traveled from the safety of his desk. In April 1899, Karl May took a ship from Genoa to Port Said in Egypt, aiming to finally see the Orient. He had 50,000 marks, a tremendous amount of money at the time, to spend on lodgings for himself and his valet. He was 57, one of Germany's most famous authors and a rich man.

The trip was a disaster. May couldn't tolerate the foreign food, and he was distressed by the stench, the noise and ubiquitous filth. Everything went straight to his stomach and his head. And then there were the tourists combing the sights of Cairo with their Baedeker travel books, "tightly clutching the red guide," as the author grumbled.

But he stuck it out, traveling from Egypt to Ceylon and Sumatra, as if to retroactively walk in the steps of someone he had only pretended to be in the past: an adventurer and globetrotter. When May returned to his native Saxony, after 16 months and two nervous breakdowns, he vowed not to embark on another adventure anytime soon. America, the other land of adventure he portrayed in his books, would have to wait.

Inventing a world is the essence of being a writer. Hardly any other author pursued this discipline as consistently, even in writing about his own alleged experiences. This week marks the 100th anniversary of Karl May's death. To this day, in Germany at least, the man from the town of Radebeul in Saxony stands alone in the art of creating a make-believe world.

More than 200 million copies of his books have been printed, a dimension otherwise associated with dictators or the founders of religions -- or J. K. Rowling with her Harry Potter series. Half of the Karl May books printed were sold in German-speaking countries. He is virtually unknown in the English-speaking world, and only in Eastern Europe did he achieve a comparable degree of fame. The number of fans who remained loyal to him beyond their adolescent years is large, ranging from Albert Einstein to political activist Karl Liebknecht, Marxist philosopher Ernst Bloch and writer Martin Walser.

Enduring Heros

One could call also May the forefather of today's environmentalist Green Party. With his critical view of civilization and naïve enthusiasm for nature, he was a romantic revivalist preacher determined to give pacifism a voice or, like some of his Christian contemporaries, a dangerous corrupter of young minds. The East German government felt uneasy about him, banning his works until the 1980s, when May, a native of the eastern German state of Saxony, was rehabilitated, together with Martin Luther and Frederick the Great. German writer Klaus Mann felt that May was an early Nazi, even describing him as "Hitler's literary mentor," but he is relatively isolated in this assessment.

There is no question that May created heroes that entered the collective mythology. There was the Native American Chief Winnetou, of course, or "The Red Gentleman," as he was once referred to in a subtitle in his famous series of novels. Then there was Winnetou's German friend and blood brother Old Shatterhand. But the indestructible German traveler of the Orient, Kara Ben Nemsi, whose popularity surpassed that of all of May's other characters while the author was still alive. Only after May's death did Chief Winnetou become his most beloved fictional character, partly as a result of the popular films with Pierre Brice and Lex Barker that were shown in theaters starting in 1962.

But his works remain adventure literature, driven by the author's desire to dream his way out of the narrow confines of his real life, a unique mixture of genius and triviality. May introduced his readers to people and landscapes they had known only by name, capitalizing on a yearning for distant places that was just as prevalent in the late 19th century as it is today.

Still, May didn't stop at dreaming. Through his literature, he transformed his own life. For him, writing was initially a way of finding himself, and later a way of rescuing himself. In this sense, he could be seen as an early advocate of the modern age.

From Con Man Best-Selling Author

His ascent was as spectacular as the material that fueled it. A con man with a criminal record, he wrote his way to success and became a best-selling author. May himself couldn't have come up with a more improbable life story than his climb from the penitentiary to the stars. But that would be a novel for others to write. In reality, May, once he had become respectable, was determined to wipe away all traces of his earlier life. But when it did catch up to him, at the height of his success, it was a scandal that would cost him the tranquility of his twilight years and much of his health.

So many aspects of his life had been bent into shape, obtained by fraudulent means and invented. He was a relatively slight man, only 1.66 meters (5'3") tall, whose fists were about as dangerous as a flyswatter. But when he sat on his black horse, his Bärentöter (Old Shatterhand's rifle, the "bear killer,") in hand, he could take anyone on, even the worst villains. May was a pioneer in the art of playing with identities, a talent reflected in the life story of every major artist today.

The German author and literary critic Hans Wollschläger titled his well-known study about Karl May "Grundriss eines gebrochenen Lebens," or "Sketch of a Broken Life." And indeed, May's early years could hardly have been less auspicious for someone who would later become a major international author. Everything about the squalor into which he was born in 1842 is evocative of a brief, oppressed existence. Nine of his 13 siblings died in infancy.

Weaving was a traditional livelihood in the Erzgebirge (Ore Mountains) town of Ernstthal, where May was born, but the craft was in decline, so that local residents were forced to turn to smuggling and other secondary occupations to make ends meet. If that wasn't enough, people had to eat soup made with weeds and potato peels, the sort of food on which only a "deprived child," as Arno Schmidt, another May enthusiast, described him, could thrive. When his mother received an unexpected inheritance, she used some of the money to pay for midwife training. But her husband had soon spent the rest of the money on his various schemes. Like his son, Heinrich August May was a dreamer.

A Criminal Record

It was clear early on that Karl was talented, and the family pinned its hopes on him. After school, he was forced to spend hours copying text from the encyclopedias, prayer books and stories about nature that his father had gathered from the neighborhood. If young Karl failed to complete his allotted work in time, he could expect a whipping with a birch switch.

The boy was stuffed with facts in a completely unsystematic way, in keeping with his father's confused ideas about education. Looking back on his childhood, May likened it to being "fed and stuffed beyond compare." Nevertheless, a layer of knowledge developed over time that would later prove useful to him.

Prison was his second significant source of education. May was 20 when he stood before a judge for the first time. He had earned a diploma as a teacher's assistant, which promised a meager but steady income. And he did try to earn a living as a teacher, but there was a part of him that refused to accept the limitations of his circumstances.

He seemed to have inherited a certain swagger. When he was a young student, his file described him as "extremely deceitful." May would later describe the dark aspects of his personality that controlled him: "There were all kinds of characters inside me, and they all wanted to be part of my worries, my work, my creativity, my writing and my composing."

What began harmlessly enough soon became more serious. May posed as an eye doctor, "Dr. Heilig," and even wrote prescriptions. According to a police profile, he wore glasses and had a "friendly, suave and mellifluous demeanor." Then he rented a room in the city of Chemnitz as the "seminary teacher Lohse," ordered two muskrat coats from a furrier and disappeared out the back door with his loot.

He was arrested near Leipzig in March 1865, and the verdict was quickly passed down: four years and one month in the workhouse. It was harsh, but not excessive for the time. May had already attracted the attention of the authorities before: a few stolen candles at boarding school and a watch he had neglected to return. They were trifles, but now they were contributing to a picture of a crook and petty criminal who would be better off behind bars.

Serial Novel Success

May was lucky. He ended up in Oberstein Castle near Zwickau, a reform prison that was committed to the idea of rehabilitation, and he was sent to work in the prison library. It was his second stroke of luck. The library contained 4,000 books, including works of fiction with ethical aspirations, as well as historic, scientific and geographic works -- plenty of material for the next few years....

more after the jump
http://www.spiegel.de/international/germany/0,1518,824566,00.html

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« Reply #6460 on: Apr 1st, 2012, 08:56am »

Washington Post

Post-Gaddafi Libya confronts its diversity
By Steve Hendrix

TRIPOLI

At the entrance to Tripoli’s main landfill, Mustafa al-Sepany stands in combat fatigues, wearing an expression that says no trash trucks will get past him. For four months, none has, leaving the country’s capital city wallowing in uncollected garbage.

Sepany is one of thousands of still-armed rebel fighters who ousted Libyan despot Moammar Gaddafi in last year’s bloody uprising. Now he is one of the residents near the landfill who are exercising their newfound freedoms by declaring they don’t want Tripoli’s trash. Anywhere but here, they say. And in post-revolution Libya, not-in-my-backyard fights come with automatic weapons.

“We will die before we let them open it again,” said Sepany, who was a notary before the revolution.

Libya, awash in cheery yellow wildflowers a year after the Arab Spring, is learning a bleak lesson: Unity does not bloom easily in a region where decision-making has long been concentrated in the hands of the few and where iron-fisted autocrats for decades papered over deep cultural, religious and ethnic differences.

In neighboring Egypt, the year since President Hosni Mubarak’s fall has been marked by breakdowns in law and order and by tensions between hard-line Islamists and secular liberals. In Syria, religious affiliation has emerged as an important dividing line as the army does battle with rebel forces, stoking fears of a broader war.

And in Libya, five months after the death of the man who managed to hold this country together by brute force, people are beginning to wonder whether there is any other way to do it. Clashes this past week between rival tribes in the southern oasis city of Sabha killed 147 people, officials said. Such has been the chaos that no one in Libya would be surprised if a trash spat ends in a gunfight.

With the dump closed since December, Tripoli residents have taken to tossing their trash bags on the grounds of Gaddafi’s former palace. But at least another million tons of garbage is piled along city streets, creating a looming environmental crisis, according to Adnan El-Gherwi, the volunteer head of Tripoli’s Executive Council, which is attempting to run the city.

The old landfill — built by Gaddafi 11 years ago — generated complaints among residents that it polluted waterways and bred disease. The city has promised to build a new, sanitary landfill as soon as possible and to pay for clean water, a health clinic and other aid to families near the old one. But El-Gherwi insists the old dump must reopen, at least temporarily. And he won’t rule out the use of force.

“You gave Gaddafi 11 years, and you don’t want to give even one year to your new government?” El-Gherwi said in frustration over the go-it-alone attitude at the center of this and many other standoffs. “We have got to learn to work as one people.”

Instead, rival militiamen, some of them intoxicated and most of them unemployed, battle over turf in the capital. In the western town of Tawergha, an entire population of black Libyans was evicted by fighters from a neighboring city. And calls by the oil-rich eastern part of the country for greater autonomy from the central government led to an armed clash in Benghazi, raising, for some, the specter of partition.

“Everything here is screwed up, we know that,” said Sadat El-Badri, deputy chairman of the Tripoli Local Council. “We went from complete dictatorship to complete freedom in one step, and everyone is doing just exactly what they want.”

Unlike Mubarak in Egypt, Gaddafi left behind no scaffolding of working ministries to build on, no effective civil servants to repurpose for an age of accountability.

“There were no laws, no rules. It was just the word of one man,” said Almabruk Sultan, a computer science professor in the eastern city of Benghazi who is a popular blogger and commentator. “In government terms, Libya was a farm. And the farmer is dead.”

But not forgotten. A common refrain among Libyans: “Gaddafi is still in our heads.”

Protesters are in the streets daily, demanding services and accusing council members of being as corrupt as their Gaddafi predecessors. Officials are similarly quick to describe protesters as puppets of pro-Gaddafi elements.

The Transitional National Council, hastily formed during the early days of the revolt by tribal elders and local leaders, is struggling to replace itself with a representative government. Its flowchart of reforms describes a 20-month process from the drafting of a new constitution to the election of a national legislature.

But Libyans are not in a methodical mood. In Misurata, which saw some of the war’s most intense fighting, the local militia booted the Transitional National Council and held its own election months ahead of schedule.

In Tripoli, the traffic lights work, but are universally ignored.

“Why do you need an AK-47 to tame the traffic?” Sabri Issa, a petroleum services company owner, asked while watching four young militia fighters gruffly directing the clots of cars around Martyrs Square, their automatic rifles waving at windshield height. Two police officers sat in their car a few yards away. “They do nothing to control these guys,” Issa said. “We have a government in name only.”

Militia members from Tripoli have taken over the towering Grand Hotel. Others guard the airport. And although fewer dead bodies from revenge killings are discovered each morning, gunfire still echoes nightly.

Interior Ministry officials acknowledge they have no power over the looting and shooting. Criminal courts are paralyzed. When fighters are arrested, their comrades break them out of prison. With unemployment near 30 percent — and higher among young men — the Transitional National Council has scratched together a one-time payment of about $1,600 to each fighter, in the hope of drawing some of them off the street.

The money was being handed out recently at the seaside Mahmoud Nashnoush Military Base, where rebels in a blend of combat wear and soccer jerseys crowded around the gate to collect their cash. Some of their pickup trucks still had heavy machine guns mounted in the back; most had cardboard revolutionary flags in place of the required license plates.

“This is the first money we have gotten for our fighting,” said Mohamed Calef, a member of a Tripoli militia, as he thumbed the thick stack of dinar notes. “Some people now will go home.”

The chaos in and around Tripoli may have hastened calls for regional autonomy that have begun to sound in the eastern half of the country.

“The capital is hijacked by gangs. They can’t clean their streets. Who are they to tell us what to do?” said Sultan, the Benghazi professor.

Benghazi, the palm-lined eastern capital, doesn’t look like a breakaway city. Posters of fighters killed in the war fill the old quarter, along with graffiti hailing the 17th of February, the day the uprising began last year in these streets.

The new national flag hangs everywhere, including outside a fish market by the Mediterranean. The red, green and black banner is displayed on one side of the door, a freshly caught shark dangles on the other.

“Finally, I feel Libyan,” said Adel Mansouri, sitting with his wife and three children at a table loaded with fried squid and fish. A Benghazi-born air-traffic controller, he was targeted for assassination because of his early work in the rebellion. Now he supports greater autonomy for the east while also experiencing a newfound sense of national identity.

In the past, he recalled, he would quietly root against the Libyan national soccer team, a pet project of Gaddafi’s son Saadi. But that changed when the first post-revolution squad took the field in the African Cup of Nations.

“I cried,” he said. “Everyone did.”

Beneath the patriotism is a simmering resentment in Benghazi at being dismissed for four decades as a second-class outpost while Tripoli got its roads paved and hogged the scholarships.

When the Transitional National Council recently announced outlines of a legislature that would include 111 members from the populous western region and 60 from the east, easterners, sensitive to sleights, pushed back.

On March 6, a group of tribal leaders called for a return to the federal structure that governed Libya’s three regions in the 1950s: Tripolitania in the west, Fezzan in the south and Barqa in the east. The leaders say that foreign affairs and national defense should remain the domain of Tripoli but that the regions should have greater powers over budget and domestic policy.

The proposal was greeted with expressions of horror in Tripoli, where many saw it as a step toward Libya’s dismemberment and the loss of oil wealth. Mustafa Abdel Jalil, who, as chairman of the Transitional National Council, heads the interim government, denounced the idea and said he would keep the country together by force if necessary.

On March 16, attackers disrupted a pro-federalism rally in Benghazi with rocks and guns, injuring five. Easterners say the backlash smacks of Gaddafi-era tactics.

The leader of the federalism faction is Ahmed al-Senussi, a revered opposition figure who spent 31 years in prison under Gaddafi, nine of them in solitary confinement.

Speaking at his home outside Benghazi, Senussi insisted that federalists are not seeking independence from Libya, nor are they trying to seize the revenue from vast eastern oil fields.

“We are not for splitting up the country,” Senussi said. “The passport will be the same, the anthem will be the same. Tripoli will be the capital.”

He leaned forward for emphasis: “I am a Libyan first, a Barqan second. We are not calling for separation. We are calling for our rights. And that is not a crime.”


http://www.washingtonpost.com/world/middle_east/in-libya-despot-is-gone-but-chaos-reigns/2012/03/31/gIQA3381nS_story.html
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« Reply #6461 on: Apr 1st, 2012, 09:03am »

Hollywood Reporter

What to Expect in the L.A. Dodgers TV Rights War
7:12 PM PDT 3/30/2012
by Alex Ben Block

UPDATED: The first round of a battle between Fox and Time Warner for local sports TV dominance already is being fought over the San Diego Padres.

Much has been made of the importance of TV-rights revenue to support the record-breaking sale price of more than $2 billion for the Los Angeles Dodgers. The most likely players in the high-stakes bidding for cable TV rights are Time Warner Cable and News Corp.’s Fox Sports.

However, the battle between Fox and Time Warner already under way in San Diego, in what might be the opening round of a titanic struggle for sports TV dominance Southern California — a battle that will have national implications for all of pro sports.

When the Dodgers open their season April 5 in San Diego against the Padres, the game will be carried in Los Angeles on Fox Sports' Prime Ticket in the second-to-last season of the current contract. In San Diego, the game will be carried on a brand-new cable channel called Fox Sports San Diego, as part of a 20-year deal that doesn’t even officially exist yet; because of ownership issues in San Diego, Major League Baseball has yet to approve the contract, but Fox is going ahead as if it has.

In another sign of the times, the Padres games won’t be seen by all San Diego cable subscribers. While Fox Sports has made a deal to license some 157 Padres games this season to Cox Cable, the biggest cable TV provider in that market, and DirecTV, it has yet to come to terms with AT&T or — no surprise — Time Warner Cable.

Time Warner Cable represents about 30 percent of the TV homes in the San Diego market and also would carry the games in some other markets where it operates, including Las Vegas and Hawaii, if there was a deal. Until last year, the Padres games were carried on a Cox cable-only channel called 4SD.

Under the new deal, Fox owns the channel, with the owners of the Padres holding a minority equity interest. The problem is, the ownership of the Padres is up in the air. A deal to sell majority control of the team recently unraveled, and it is unclear when or if there will be a sale. The TV rights deal is being held hostage until the ownership situation clears up.

This comes at a time sports rights fees are on the rise nationwide. In the era of the DVR, Hulu, Netflix and other ways to watch TV shows after they air in pattern on a network, sports are one of the few things people want to watch as they happen. This makes the programming increasingly valuable.

That fact of modern media was behind the deal late last year for Fox Sports to reportedly pay more than $3 billion for rights to the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim baseball games (about $150 million a year) for the next 20 years. The Texas Rangers made a deal last year with Fox Sports Southwest for a reported $1.6 billion (about $80 million a year) over 20 years.

In February, Time Warner Cable -- a separate company from Time Warner which owns Warner Bros. – made a deal to launch two new cable channels (English and Spanish) featuring the Los Angeles Lakers, both due to start airing in October. The Lakers rights were held through this season by none other than Fox Sports. A Time Warner spokesperson said the deal with the Lakers is for 20 years and disputed a reported value of $5 billion, suggesting that number was was too high. TWC also said it holds sole ownership of TV rights to the games and the new cable channels. The spokesperson said TWC does not have a joint venture with the L.A. Lakers. The terms had not been disclosed when the deal was announced.

Fox Sports still has the exclusive rights to negotiate a new TV rights deal with the Dodgers through November. It reportedly offered outgoing owner Frank McCourt a 20-year deal that would have paid about $175 million a year for the rights. Major League Baseball would not let McCourt do that deal and shortly after took control of the team and ousted McCourt (who walks away with about $1 billion and still owns half of the land under the Dodger’s parking lot).

After November, if there is no deal with Fox in place, the Dodgers’ new owners will be free to make any TV rights deal they want for games beyond the 2013 season with anyone they choose. That is where the big bucks are to come from to pay back the new owners.

Their options would include selling the rights to the highest bidder, which besides Fox and Time Warner could include long shots such as CBS, Comcast/NBC, ABC/ESPN and even the MSG Network (controlled by the owners of Cablevision).

The Dodgers also could create their own network, as the New York Yankees did several years ago and the New York Mets did recently. When successful, these networks become cash cows.

Or the Dodgers could follow the Lakers model and create a new network that they would partially own along with an existing operator such as Fox or Time Warner, which would handle the back office, distribution and advertising sales for the channel.

Whatever happens, the costs will be passed on to cable systems, their advertisers and ultimately to the public.

In Southern California, Fox already operates two sports networks (Fox Sports West and Prime Ticket). Time Warner will soon launch its network with the Lakers. The NCAA's Pac-12 Conference has a deal to launch a new network. If the Dodgers join the parade, that would be half a dozen networks, all seeking license fee payments to go along with their ad revenue to cover the high costs of the rights and to return a profit to investors.

ESPN (including ESPN HD) gets the highest fee at present for its national network, $5.06 per subscriber per month.

Among regional sports networks, the highest fee goes to Comcast Sports/Washington (D.C.), which gets $4.02 per sub. The New England Sports Network, which carries the Boston Red Sox and others, commands $3.56 per sub, according to analysis by SNL Kagan.

It is estimated that a Dodger network would get a similar $3.50 per sub. Time Warner has about 2 million subscribers in the greater Los Angeles market. That would be about $7 million a month in sub fees, or $84 million per year (not counting advertising and sponsorship revenue).

Whatever happens, subscribers will not be getting the opportunity to make a la carte choices of what networks they want to buy anytime soon. On Friday, the U.S. Court of Appeals sided with Time Warner Cable, Comcast/NBC, Viacom, Fox and others when it rejected a lawsuit by consumers who said it was unfair that they had to buy a bundle of channels. The court ruled that bundling is not anti-competitive.

What will be competitive, however, is the upcoming fight for the Dodgers TV rights.

http://www.hollywoodreporter.com/news/la-dodgers-fox-time-warner-TV-rights-war-306459

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« Reply #6462 on: Apr 2nd, 2012, 08:48am »

Washington Post

For China’s driving test, be ready for almost anything

By Keith B. Richburg
Monday, April 2, 4:03 AM

BEIJING — Okay, answer quickly: If you have to suddenly jump out of an overturning vehicle, in which direction do you jump? And then once you hit the ground, what’s the best way to roll?

Here’s another one: When your car is suddenly plunging into water, what’s the best way to escape? Do you immediately open the door and jump out? Wait until the car hits the water and open the doors? Stay inside and call for help? Or use your feet to smash out the windshield?

These are not questions on the application for a stuntman’s position on a movie set or the final exam for a hostile environment training course before being dispatched to a conflict zone.

Rather, these are real questions from the written test to obtain an ordinary driver’s license in China, and they offer a bizarre, rather frightening window into the world’s most populous and car-craving country.

The computerized test, available in English, Arabic, French and several other languages to foreign residents who want to obtain a Chinese driver’s license, gives 100 randomly generated questions from a seemingly endless list. The topics range from arcane traffic signs and police hand signals to the amount of various fines and penalties. To pass the test, a would-be driver needs to get at least 90 questions out of 100 correct, and many test-takers fail on the first few attempts.

It’s a test that assumes the motorist might encounter pretty much anything on China’s increasingly clogged and lethal roads, and that includes head-on collisions, tire blowouts and treating injured and bleeding passengers at the scene of a wreck.

There are questions on the proper way to carry an injured person in a coma (sideways, head down), the best way to staunch the bleeding from a major artery and how to put out a passenger on fire (hint: Do not throw sand on the victim).

And there’s an array of questions about mind-boggling penalties for all sorts of infractions, many of which seem to include fleeing the scene of various vehicular crimes — suggesting that the transport control department of the Public Security Bureau has pretty much seen it all.

For example, causing a minor traffic accident and running away could get you less than 15 days in jail. But running away after causing serious injury or major property damage will get you three years behind bars. Running away after causing a traffic death brings a prison term of seven to 15 years.

In newly affluent China, the number of cars and drivers has exploded in recent years, with China having bypassed the United States as the world’s largest carmaker as well as the largest car market. According to traffic department statistics, at the end of 2011, China had 225 million motor vehicles, including 106 million cars, and more than 235 million licensed drivers.

According to People’s Daily online, citing Public Security Bureau statistics, there were 210,812 road accidents in China last year involving injury or loss of life. At least 62,387 people died in traffic fatalities last year, with road accidents accounting for more than 80 percent of all accidental deaths in the country.

All those cars and their relatively new drivers jostle for space on new highways and expressways with some of the more traditional modes of transportation, and the driving test reminds would-be drivers that they are not alone. There are, for example, questions about what to do when encountering an old man riding a bicycle on the road, a bike rider coming in the opposite direction, a blind man walking down the road or a drunken pedestrian.

There are also several animal questions: what to do when encountering a flock of sheep (“drive slowly and use the vehicle to scare away the flock”) and someone herding animals (reduce speed, keep a safe distance). However, when discovering animals “cutting in on the road,” the correct response is to “voluntarily reduce speed, or stop to yield.”

As difficult as the test seems, in some of China’s most congested cities, it’s just the first step before taking to the road.

To purchase a new car in Beijing — one of several cities trying to limit the number of vehicles on the road — potential owners must first enter a lottery for a new license plate. At the last count in March, 970,000 Beijing residents had signed up for one of the 20,282 license plates available for the month.

The Global Times newspaper put the odds of getting a license plate at 1 in 47.9.


http://www.washingtonpost.com/world/asia_pacific/for-chinas-driving-test-be-ready-for-almost-anything/2012/04/01/gIQABBpaqS_story.html

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« Reply #6463 on: Apr 2nd, 2012, 09:05am »

NASA

Hubble Spies a Spiral Galaxy Edge-on
03.30.12

The NASA/ESA Hubble Space Telescope has spotted the "UFO Galaxy." NGC 2683 is a spiral galaxy seen almost edge-on, giving it the shape of a classic science fiction spaceship. This is why the astronomers at the Astronaut Memorial Planetarium and Observatory, Cocoa, Fla., gave it this attention-grabbing nickname.


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Reuters

Pakistan jails bin Laden's family for illegal stay

By Qasim Nauman
ISLAMABAD | Mon Apr 2, 2012 8:15am EDT

ISLAMABAD (Reuters) - A Pakistani court jailed former al Qaeda leader Osama bin Laden's three widows and two daughters for 45 days after finding them guilty of illegally staying in the country, their lawyers said on Monday.

In practice, that means they will serve 14 days in prison because they have been in detention since March 3. Bin Laden's family members will eventually be deported to their home countries, the lawyers said.

"They (bin Laden's relatives) were sentenced to 45 days imprisonment and fined 10,000 rupees ($110) each. The money was paid on the spot," Aamir Khalil, one of the lawyers, said.

"The Secretary of the Interior has been instructed to make arrangements for their deportation after that."

The relatives are being detained in a heavily-guarded three-storey house in a residential neighborhood of the capital Islamabad. Few have access to the family, and legal proceedings took place at the house because of security concerns.

"They are doing fine," Khalil told reporters when asked about the relatives' condition.

Analysts had said Pakistan may have preferred a lengthy prison sentence for the family to prevent them from discussing details of their time in Pakistan.

Once outside Pakistan, bin Laden's relatives could reveal details about how the world's most wanted man was able to hide in U.S. ally Pakistan for years, possibly assisted by elements of the country's powerful military and spy agency.

"The Pakistan military and intelligence are confident that the facts are already known to America, most of (them) anyway," said Talat Masood, a retired general and political analyst.

Pakistan's government and military have said they had no links to bin Laden.

Any revelations about ties to bin Laden could embarrass Islamabad and infuriate Washington, which staged a decade-long hunt for bin Laden after the September 11, 2001 attacks on the United States.

Bin Laden was shot and killed in May last year by U.S. special forces who stormed his house in the Pakistani garrison town of Abbottabad, about a two-hour drive from the capital Islamabad.

Yemen-born Amal Al-Sadeh, the youngest widow, and her four children were among the 16 people detained by Pakistani authorities after the raid, which also included two other wives from Saudi Arabia.

(Additional reporting by Mahawish Rezvi; Editing by Daniel Magnowski)

http://www.reuters.com/article/2012/04/02/us-pakistan-binladen-idUSBRE83108O20120402

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