Batman could fly, but he'd die horribly on landing, science students conclude.
Batman could fly using just his cape but would suffer serious injuries when trying to land, a study of the aerodynamics of his winged attire has concluded.
By Telegraph reporters
3:03PM BST 09 Jul 2012
In fact, the caped crusader would be travelling so fast that he'd crash and would probably die.
The claim, which will bring any young comic fans down to Earth with a bump, was made by student physicists at the University of Leicester.
They wanted to see whether the 15ft wingspan of Batman's special rigid cape - about half that of some hang gliders - would be enough to keep him airborne over Gotham City.
If Batman jumped from a building 492ft (150m) high, the team discovered, he could glide a distance of around 1148ft (350 metres).
But his velocity would increase to about 68 mph as he descended before reaching a steady 50 mph as he approached street level - a speed too great for him to survive without serious injury.
The group of four students concluded that DC Comics' superhero, who returns to cinemas on July 20 in the Dark Knight Rises, should consider taking a parachute for a safe landing.
Their paper, called 'Trajectory of a Falling Batman' was published in the University of Leicester Journal of Special Physics Topics.
(pdf after the jump)
In a mathematical simulation of his flight, they wrote: "Batman's descent is rapid, even for this high estimate for the lift coefficient. Looking at the case for gliding from a fairly tall building of height 150m, Batman can glide to a distance of about 350m, which is reasonable; the problem with the glide lies in his velocity as he reaches ground level.
"The velocity rises rapidly to a maximum of a little over 110km/hr before steadying to a constant speed of around 80km/hr. At these high speeds any impact would likely be fatal if not severely damaging (consider impact with a car travelling at these speeds).
"Clearly gliding using a batcape is not a safe way to travel, unless a method to rapidly slow down is used such as a parachute."
One of the team, David Marshall, 22, said: "If Batman wanted to survive the flight, he would definitely need a bigger cape. Or if he preferred to keep his style intact he could opt for using active propulsion, such as jets to keep himself aloft."
Happy anniversary, Roswell, N.M. It was 65 years ago today that the Roswell Daily Record blasted an infamous headline claiming local military officials had captured a flying saucer on a nearby ranch. And now, a former CIA agent says it really happened.
"It was not a damn weather balloon -- it was what it was billed when people first reported it," said Chase Brandon, a 35-year CIA veteran. "It was a craft that clearly did not come from this planet, it crashed and I don't doubt for a second that the use of the word 'remains' and 'cadavers' was exactly what people were talking about."
Brandon served as an undercover, covert operations officer in the agency's Clandestine Service for 25 years, where he was assigned missions in international terrorism, counterinsurgency, global narcotics trafficking and weapons smuggling. He spent his final 10 years of CIA service on the director's staff as the agency's first official liaison to the entertainment and publication industries. It was during this time, in the mid-1990s, that he walked into a special section of CIA headquarters in Langley, Va., called the Historical Intelligence Collection.
"It was a vaulted area and not everybody could get in it," Brandon told The Huffington Post. "One day, I was looking around in there and reading some of the titles that were mostly hand-scribbled summations of what was in the boxes. And there was one box that really caught my eye. It had one word on it: Roswell.
"I took the box down, lifted the lid up, rummaged around inside it, put the box back on the shelf and said, 'My god, it really happened!'"
What exactly did the box contain that had such a powerful impact on Brandon?
"Some written material and some photographs, and that's all I will ever say to anybody about the contents of that box," he said. "But it absolutely, for me, was the single validating moment that everything I had believed, and knew that so many other people believed had happened, truly was what occurred,"
None of this comes as a surprise to Stanton T. Friedman, a nuclear-physicist-turned-UFOlogist, who was the original civilian investigator of the Roswell UFO incident.
In the late 1970s, Friedman began to uncover former military eyewitnesses who had been involved with the original events that took place at Roswell in 1947.
Despite the fact that the military changed its story overnight, saying on July 8, 1947 that a flying disk had been captured but claiming on July 9 that a weather balloon had been recovered, Friedman's early investigative efforts prompted many Roswell witnesses to come forward and tell their stories. Numerous researchers have dug up more facts in the years since.
"It's been 65 years since things took place at Roswell," Friedman told HuffPost. "How much more widely known could it be -- everywhere I've spoken in the world, they ask about Roswell."
"What we really need now is the Woodward-Bernstein of the UFO world to bring out the disclosure," said Friedman. "Maybe Chase Brandon is a foresight of something going on.
"It's time for the retirement of the mythical part -- where we don't have all the pieces -- to be replaced by the true story of what happened, all the details, and we certainly don't have them."
Assad proposes gradual steps to end Syria violence
Tue Jul 10, 2012 8:54am EDT
BAGHDAD (Reuters) - Syrian President Bashar al-Assad has suggested ending Syria's conflict on a step-by-step basis, starting with districts that have seen the worst violence, international mediator Kofi Annan told a press conference in Tehran on Tuesday.
Annan met Assad in Damascus on Monday at the start of a round of shuttle diplomacy to try to revive his moribund plan for ending Syria's 16-month-old crisis.
He said Assad had suggested "building an approach from the ground up in some of the districts where we have extreme violence - to try and contain the violence in those districts and, step by step, build up and end the violence across the country".
Annan, who represents the United Nations and the Arab League, said he needed to discuss the proposal with the Syrian opposition and could not give further details.
It was not clear how or where he planned to do this. After talks with Iranian Foreign Minister Ali Akbar Salehi, Annan flew to Baghdad.
The French Foreign Ministry said he would present the conclusions of his tour to the Security Council in New York on Wednesday.
Meanwhile Syria's major ally Russia proposed what sounded like an alternative to the Western-backed, anti-Assad "Friends of Syria" forum, with an offer to visiting Syrian opposition groups to host regular meetings of Annan's "action group" of countries, which is more balanced between pro- and anti-Assad influences.
"We would welcome the organization of a regular session of an 'action group' in Moscow ... In any case we see the relevance in carrying out such an event," Interfax news agency quoted Deputy Foreign Minister Mikhail Bogdanov as saying.
The Syrian National Council - the main opposition umbrella group in exile - is due to hold talks on Wednesday with Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov. Its delegation of 10 members is led by the group's head, Abdelbasset Sida.
BIG POWER DIFFERENCES
Major powers agreed at a meeting with Annan on June 30 that a transitional government should be set up in Syria, but remain at odds over what part Assad might play in the process.
Russia says the plan cannot pre-suppose that Assad will step down, but Western powers say he must go, and the Syrian opposition say that is their basic condition.
At least 17,129 people have been killed in Syria's 16-month-old revolt, according to the activist Syrian Observatory for Human Rights.
It said 11,897 civilians or armed insurgents had been killed by Assad's forces, but that it could not determine how many fell into each category. It also estimated that 884 defectors had been killed.
The Observatory put the death toll among Syrian security forces loyal to Assad at 4,348.
Syria has not given a death toll for security forces for several months, but Assad said last week that most of the victims of the uprising were supporters of his government.
The Observatory said around 100 people were killed on Monday, most of them rebel fighters. In the northerly Aleppo and Idlib provinces, which border Turkey, several towns were shelled.
In Latakia province, further west but also close to the Turkish border, Syrian forces fired on Jabal al-Akrad in an attempt to regain control from rebels infiltrating from Turkey.
In Deir al-Zor, on the road to Iraq, a volunteer medic was killed and at least four soldiers died in fighting.
Clashes were also reported overnight in Deraa, along the border with Jordan, and gunfire and explosions rocked the cities of Homs and Hama and the central town of Rastan.
The opposition Syrian National Council said it was time for the United Nations to declare a humanitarian emergency in Syria, where the U.N. says one and a half million out of a population of 22 million have been affected by the crisis, and 300,000 displaced.
Three people were killed when Syrian mortars hit villages in north Lebanon. Locals said they were under fire for five hours overnight, following sporadic shelling in the area for days.
It was the second fatal attack in Lebanon in three days. Three people were killed on Lebanese territory by mortar fire from Syria at the weekend.
(Additional reporting by Nazih Sadiq in Lebanon; Writing by Douglas Hamilton; Editing by Kevin Liffey)
Originally published July 10, 2012 at 3:40 AM Page modified July 10, 2012 at 6:14 AM
Report: Some lose homes over back taxes as little as $400
The elderly and other vulnerable homeowners are losing their homes because they owe as little as a few hundred dollars in back taxes, according to a report from a consumer group.
By DANIEL WAGNER AP Business Writer
The elderly and other vulnerable homeowners are losing their homes because they owe as little as a few hundred dollars in back taxes, according to a report from a consumer group.
Outdated state laws allow big banks and other investors to reap windfall profits by buying the houses for a pittance and reselling them, the National Consumer Law Center said in a report being released Tuesday.
Local governments can seize and sell a home if the owner falls behind on property taxes and fees. The process helps governments make ends meet at a time when low property values and the weak economy are squeezing tax revenue.
But tax debts as small as $400 can cause people to lose their homes because of arcane laws and misinformation among consumers, says John Rao, the report's author and an attorney with NCLC.
The consequences are "devastating for individuals, families and communities," Rao said. He said states should update laws so speculators can't profit from misinformed homeowners and people who have difficulty managing their finances.
The rules for property tax sales can be confusing, especially to elderly people who can't keep track of their finances and people in minority-heavy communities that were targeted by subprime lenders. Here's how it works:
- The government files a public document called a tax lien saying that it can seize the property if the taxes remain unpaid.
- If the taxes aren't paid, the government auctions the lien to investors. Past investors include JPMorgan Chase, Bank of America and people who respond to Internet get-rich schemes, the report said. Homes typically are sold at steep discounts.
- For a limited time, the homeowner may buy back the home by paying to the investors the purchase price of the lien, plus interest, fees and other costs. That's possible because investors haven't bought the home itself - they have purchased the tax lien, which gives them the right to seize the home later.
- If the owner fails to pay all the costs, investors can sell the home at a big profit compared with the cost of buying the tax lien.
The report said state governments should make it easier for homeowners to retake their homes after tax lien sales. It said they should limit the interest and penalties investors can charge and increase court oversight.
It also called on local governments to let people pay back taxes or fees to investors on an installment plan, and to increase notice to homeowners and make sure they understand their rights.
Tax lien sales differ from most foreclosures, which happen when people fall behind on mortgage payments. In many states, homes sold because of tax debts can be sold for only the amount of back taxes owed.
That means a $200,000 home might fetch only $1,200, the report said. In the process, homeowners can lose thousands of dollars in home equity that they have built up by making monthly payments.
It is difficult to put a figure on the number of homes sold in tax lien sales because the information is spread among thousands of local governments, Rao said.
A JPMorgan unit estimated in 2009 that about $5 billion worth of tax liens are sold to investors each year, according to a transcript of remarks made at a government meeting in Kansas City, Kan.
Rao said he believes the actual number is much higher. He said Florida alone sold $2 billion worth of tax liens in 2008.
JPMorgan and Bank of America both said they have stopped buying and bundling and reselling tax liens but still hold tax liens that they already owned and manage them for others.
For elderly people, home equity might represent their only retirement savings. Many older Americans draw down the equity in their homes over time through reverse mortgages and other loans that use home equity as collateral.
People who got subprime mortgages before 2008 also face challenges staying current on property taxes. Subprime lenders are less likely to bill borrowers for the property taxes and then pay the taxes directly to the government. Instead, borrowers are expected to keep track of their taxes and pay them without help from the mortgage company. People with higher-quality mortgages tend to pay taxes and insurance to their mortgage companies as part of their monthly bills.
The report is the first comprehensive study of each state's policies and procedures for tax lien sales. An early copy was obtained by The Associated Press.
New Comic The Inventor Electrifies Nikola Tesla’s Mad Genius By Scott Thill July 10, 2012 | 6:30 am Categories: Books and Comics
The action in upcoming comic book The Inventor is fueled by the fascinating life and amazing inventions of Nikola Tesla, the 19th-century physicist and electrical engineer who helped create our 21st-century future before dying penniless.
“Tesla’s true story is more surreal than any fictional account I’ve seen of him,” said writer Rave Mehta, whose Tesla biocomic, previewed in the gallery above, debuts at publisher Arcana’s booth this week at Comic-Con International. “The Inventor: The Story of Tesla is based on Tesla’s journey, from his epic birth in a lightning storm to his arrival in America, where his greatest mentor, Thomas Edison, turns into his greatest adversary and starts the War of Currents.”
Over the course of 150 pages, Mehta and artist Erik Williams skillfully skip through Tesla’s captivating mad genius and science. But it was ultimately Tesla’s magical thinking — explored in Christopher Priest’s 1995 novelThe Prestige (as well as Christopher Nolan’s 2006 film adaptation) — that landed the inventor in trouble with Edison and competitive industrialist J.P Morgan, who “pulled the plug on the Wardenclyffe Tower, Tesla’s attempt to give free and abundant energy to the world,” said Mehta.
Suitably, Mehta first conceived The Inventor five years ago while serving on the board of directors for Space Florida and researching programs for the Stephen Hawking Microgravity Education Research Center.
“I kept running into Tesla’s theories and research, which resonated with me because I have an engineering and technology background,” said Mehta. “But what I found more interesting was his life story and mindset. Tesla came to this country with a few dollars and a dream. The material, emotional and spiritual battles he endured are what The Inventor is about.”
The comic book is an accessible point of entry for those interested in Tesla, a visionary who was so far ahead of his time that his groundbreaking work on wireless power, accomplished during the last gasp of the 1800s, is coming close to reality today. (It’s not an accident that Tesla Motors named its high-performance electric vehicles after the inventor.) As this century finally catches up with Tesla’s wild ideas, it’s impossible not to see his mad genius in the far corners of science and culture.
“It’s always fun to watch Tesla’s character or inventions incorporated into alternate universes,” said Mehta, whose production company Helios Entertainment plans to spin off The Inventor into transmedia iterations like games and apps (with other inventors to follow).
“Sanctuary‘s Tesla is a smart vampire helping battle a secret conspiracy to take over the world,” Mehta said. “In Matt Fraction and Steven Sanders’ cool comic The Five Fists of Science, Tesla and Mark Twain create a giant remote-controlled robot to help save the planet from the dark magic of Edison, Morgan and Guglielmo Marconi. But my favorite is still David Bowie playing Tesla in The Prestige. That’s the closest I’ve seen Tesla portrayed.”
Mehta will be at the Arcana booth during Comic-Con to discuss and sign limited editions of The Inventor, although the book’s official release doesn’t come until late October. For those not attending the San Diego convention, another 500 copies are available now through The Inventor’s website (http://theinventorseries.com/), and Comixology plans on releasing a chapter each month until October.
July 10, 2012 Judge Dismisses Suit by Londoners Wary of Olympic Air Defenses on Their Roof By JOHN F. BURNS
LONDON — They have been billed by the government as an essential defense against an attempt to fly a hijacked passenger jet or a bomb-laden microlight aircraft into the 80,000-seat stadium that is to be the centerpiece of the London Olympic Games.
But the idea of having ground-to-air rockets and missiles on the roof of their 15-story public housing complex in east London, about three miles from the Olympic stadium, upset some residents, who filed a lawsuit saying that the missile battery made them a potential target for a terrorist attack, and was a breach of their human rights.
On Tuesday, a High Court judge dismissed the suit, saying the government’s plans were “not susceptible to a sensible challenge.” The ruling endorsed the government’s argument that the missiles, similar to those deployed at the last two Summer Olympics in Beijing and Athens, were necessary to help prevent a terrorist strike similar to the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks.
With the judicial green light, a lawyer for the Defense Ministry said the deployment would “happen immediately” atop a high-rise known as the Fred Wigg Tower and five similar spots that will ring the Olympic site: another apartment complex, a reservoir, open farmland in east London, and along hillsides in South London.
Marc Willers, a lawyer for the Fred Wigg residents, said they were considering an appeal. But with legal experts saying a further challenge was unlikely to succeed, the government and Olympics organizers appeared to have cleared at least one potential hurdle to a trouble-free countdown for the July 27 opening ceremony.
For the most part, the countdown has gone smoothly. Jacques Rogge, the Belgian doctor who is president of the International Olympic Committee, has congratulated British Olympic officials on having all the sites ready on time and within the official government budget of about $15 billion. There has been no mad-dash construction crisis as in Athens, and none of the human rights demonstrations that occurred before the Beijing Games.
But there are anxieties, including concern about the weather after the wettest spring in Britain since record-keeping began in 1910. Torrential rains, floods and gusting winds have disrupted many events in a season of celebration that many had hoped would dispel the gloom of the country’s persistent recession.
Last weekend the national weather service issued what amounted to a jeremiad about the weather likely to face the 200 national squads and millions of spectators. “A protracted spell of hot, sunny weather looks very unlikely,” it said, adding that inclement weather “will probably still be in evidence” during the games though not as bad as in June and July so far.
Another worry has been the capacity of Britain’s already overloaded road, rail and air networks to cope with the huge surge of traffic associated with the Games, particularly in and around London, where the sporting venues are concentrated. Olympics organizers have said privately that the risk of congestion has weighed as heavily as the threat of a terrorist attack.
Concern has focused on Heathrow Airport near London, where long lines at immigration, already a common problem, have worsened in recent weeks, to the point where some passengers arriving from outside the European Union have complained of waiting as long as two and a half hours to clear passport control. The problem has persisted despite government commitments to add hundreds of immigration officers ahead of the Games, and repeated, heavily publicized “walk-through” visits to Heathrow by government ministers.
In recent days, with an average wait of an hour or more for many passengers arriving on overnight flights from the United States and other distant points, the police have voiced concerns about a possible breakdown of public order in the arrival halls. Passengers in lines snaking back from the immigration area into the passageways leading from the aircraft have broken into prolonged stints of slow-hand clapping, verbal assaults on immigration officers and, in some cases, attempts to walk unchecked through unstaffed immigration control booths. As the Olympics near, the fear is that the situation could worsen substantially.
At the High Court hearing on the missile deployments, Mr. Willers, the lawyer for the Fred Wigg Tower residents, said deployment of high-velocity Rapier missiles on the building’s roof, staffed by 10 soldiers and a protective guard of armed police officers, would invite an “evil statement” by terrorists in the form of an attack on the tower, and would violate a human rights law guarantee of an individual’s right to “peaceful enjoyment” of his home.
But the judge, Sir Charles Haddon-Cave, dismissed the arguments summarily. The residents, he said, appeared to be laboring under “something of a misapprehension” about their rights, the relevant laws and the risks.
'UFO triangle' in California is alien hotspot, believers claim
By Michelle Macaluso Published July 10, 2012
FRESNO, Calif. – On July 8, 1947, a crash in Roswell, N.M. described by local papers as a "flying saucer" lit a fire in America: UFO fever. And today, just over 65 years later, some Central Californians believe the region remains a UFO hotspot, the bottom leg of a "UFO triangle" as mysterious as Bermuda's.
Jeffrey Gonzalez is one of such, the founder of Sanger Paranormal Society and a UFO chaser for the past four years. He even runs a 24-hour UFO hotline: people call and he investigates claims of UFO sightings.
“No, I’m not crazy. It’s an obsession, it’s a hobby,” Gonzalez told FoxNews.com.
He works as a phone company technician during the day and solves mysteries of the unknown during his time off. He says his background in electronics helps him use the tools to investigate the paranormal.
“I go out to the location to where these events happen, I’ll talk to the witnesses I will take reference points and I will make sure it’s real,” he said.
Gonzalez drives a research vehicle or “Paranormal Ambulance” equipped with the requisite gear necessary to investigate UFOs: a Geiger counter, an EMF scanner, infrared cameras, and of course, a Sony HandyCam camcorder with night vision.
“If a witness reports a sighting more than one time or says something crashed then we’ll go out and stake out the area in case the craft comes back. Because if it does come back then we’ll be ready,” he told FoxNews.com.
The Geiger counter tests for radiation and the electromagnetic frequency (EMF) reader monitors different types of energy. Infrared cameras are very helpful during stakeouts, he said; they can see up to 300 feet in pure darkness.
“We’ll usually park outside from about 9 p.m. to 5 a.m. in the morning,” he said.
Gonzalez is part of a new National Geographic series called Chasing UFOs. A recent survey conducted by National Geographic finds that 80 million Americans believe in UFOs.
“I have witnesses calling me -- law enforcement, doctors, lawyers, and military personnel that have pictures that they have captured over Fresno,” Gonzalez said.
Fresno lies at the bottom of the "Nevada Triangle" a region that includes Area-51 and China Lake. Gonzalez says this area is similar to the Bermuda Triangle where many planes have disappeared without a trace over the last 50 years.
“There’s a lot of military presence and there could possible be a lot of top secret military craft flying over our skies,” Gonzalez said.
According to the non-profit National UFO Reporting Center there are roughly 5,000 UFO sightings reported each year. Gonzalez has people throughout the city of Fresno who serve as sky watchers. These people sit outside for hours watching the sky for anything out of the ordinary.
Sky watcher Robert Dorson saw his first UFO 25 years ago, and today he loves watching for UFOs from his roof where he captures video on his camera.
“I’ve got the best footage. I got the close and the best footage. All hours of the night and day I’m out here watching,” Dorson told FoxNews.com.
Are you a believer, or still just a skeptic? Start being more observant and perhaps you might see something unusual, they explained.
“It’s turned out to be more than a hobby now it’s a passion of mine to find out what are these things flying over Fresno. Are they military or are they something else? And I think I’m getting pretty darn close,” Gonzalez said.
China backs Annan's call for Iran role in Syria talks
By Douglas Hamilton Wed Jul 11, 2012 9:01am EDT
BEIRUT (Reuters) - China threw its weight behind U.N. envoy Kofi Annan on Wednesday, backing his call to include Iran in internationally-brokered talks to resolve Syria's crisis, in the face of strong Western opposition.
"China believes that the appropriate resolution of the Syria issue cannot be separated from the countries in the region, especially the support and participation of those countries that are influential on relevant sides in Syria," Foreign Ministry spokesman Liu Weimin said in Beijing.
U.N. Security Council veto-holders China and Russia have for the past year blocked efforts by Washington and its European and Gulf Arab allies to turn the screws on Syrian President Bashar al-Assad, fighting to defend his mostly Alawite ruling establishment against an uprising dominated by Sunni Muslims.
Assad's opponents say just under 13,000 armed and unarmed opponents of Assad, and around 4,300 members of security forces loyal to Damascus, have been killed since he launched a crackdown 16 months ago, using tanks and helicopter gunships to attack rebel strongholds inside Syria's biggest cities.
Activists on Wednesday reported a new bombardment of rebel areas of Homs, a hotbed of opposition to Assad, as well as fighting in many other parts of the country.
Annan was due to brief the Security Council at 1130 EDT on Wednesday on the results of a lightning diplomatic shuttle this week to Damascus, Tehran and Baghdad - three capitals forming a Shi'ite Muslim axis of power in the Middle East.
Annan plunged into a tussle between the major powers on Tuesday, insisting that Iran, which strongly backs Assad and is regarded as an adversary of the West and Gulf Arabs, had a role to play in the drive to relaunch stalled peace efforts and begin talks towards a political transition.
In Baghdad, Annan also won backing from Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki, who like Assad has close ties to Tehran.
The reaction from two other Security Council veto-holders was not encouraging for the envoy.
"I don't think anybody with a straight face could argue that Iran has had a positive impact on developments in Syria," White House spokesman Jay Carney told reporters.
In Paris, French Foreign Ministry spokesman Bernard Valero said: "Regarding Iran, we have made our position clear. We believe that this country does not have a place in the action group that brings together countries and players that are really involved in trying to find a political and peaceful solution in Syria."
BIG POWER DEADLOCK
Russia and China for their part oppose any external move to tip the balance against Assad by making his departure a condition of a political transition.
Moscow's latest move in the game of diplomatic chess was to suggest on Tuesday that it could host regular meetings of an "action group" that would include the Syrian opposition.
Opposition leaders say there can be no peaceful transition unless Assad, who crushed popular protests from the moment they began, relinquishes power first. Assad, whose family has ruled Syria for 42 years, says he still has the backing of his people.
A delegation from the foreign-based opposition Syrian National Council was meeting Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov in Moscow to urge Russia to drop its support for Assad.
Annan originally wanted Iran to be part of the first major power "action group" meeting, in Geneva on June 30, but the idea was vetoed at the time. France was not enthusiastic about the latest Russian proposal that it now meet regularly in Moscow.
"There must be a need for such a meeting for it to take place," said Foreign Minister Laurent Fabius. "After Kofi Annan's visit to Damascus, would it be more or less necessary? I can't say."
It was agreed at the Geneva meeting that a transitional government should be set up in Syria, but the major powers remain at odds over what part Assad might play in the process.
In New York, the 15-member Security Council must decide what to do with the U.N. mission in Syria, known as UNSMIS, before July 20 when its mandate expires. It is due to vote on July 18.
In April, it authorized deployment of up to 300 unarmed military observers to Syria to oversee a ceasefire, part of a six-point peace plan proposed by Annan. But the truce was never honored and the monitors are now confined to hotels.
Russia on Tuesday circulated to Security Council members a draft resolution proposing to extend the mission for three months so it can shift focus from monitoring the non-existent truce to securing a political solution.
The draft was unlikely to satisfy the United States and European council members, who have called for a resolution under Chapter 7 of the U.N. Charter, which would allow the council to authorize actions ranging from diplomatic and economic sanctions to military intervention to enforce Annan's peace plan.
U.S. officials say they are not talking about intervention.
French spokesman Valero said the Russian draft "falls short of the expectations of most of the international community", which believed it was time to step up pressure on Assad by adopting a Chapter 7 resolution.
(Additional reporting by Ben Blanchard in Beijing, Michelle Nichols at the United Nations, Mariam Karouny in Beirut and John Irish in Paris; Writing by Douglas Hamilton; Editing by Kevin Liffey)
12.07.2012 Finding the Anti-World The Next Holy Grail for Physics By Johann Grolle in Geneva, Switzerland
Sheep are grazing to the left of the gate to the anti-world. On the right-hand side, a pair of rust-brown steel bottles is waiting to be picked up. A sign warns: "Caution. Radiation!" Another sign prohibits the use of bicycles.
A yellow steel door leads into the interior of the so-called AD Building on the grounds of the CERN research center near Geneva, Switzerland. The machine that was built here is called the anti-proton decelerator. The rhythmic hissing and thumping sounds of vacuum pumps and cryo-aggregates combine with the dull droning of the air-conditioning system. This is where scientists are making a material that is highly mysterious because it probably doesn't exist -- or existed -- anywhere else in the universe: anti-atoms.
About 4 meters (13 feet) off the ground, a catwalk leads through a bizarre landscape of cables, tubes and concrete. This vantage point offers a glimpse into laboratory rooms in which scientists climb around among magnets, electronic equipment, helium tanks and beamlines. Their goal is to explore the realm of antimatter.
Separated from each other by small gates, four teams are competing to unlock the secrets of nature. Their facility is a factory of sorts for so-called anti-particles. Here, the scientists guide, cool, slow down and centrifuge the artificially generated particles. In the process, they learn which forms of manipulation are possible with this material from a mysterious alternative world. One of them calls it "particle gymnastics."
'The Race Is On'
The words "The race is on" are written on the container where the measurements are done. Jeffrey Hangst, the director of the project, is proud of the fact that his team is ahead in the race. Hangst spent 15 years developing his equipment, and now he is reaping the benefits.
Hangst is the world's first scientist to successfully capture individual anti-hydrogen atoms in magnetic traps. No one else has managed to keep the atoms captive for an entire quarter of an hour. And then, in what was a sensation for physicists, he performed the first successful measurement of one of these antiatoms.
The accelerator ring where Hangst does his experiments was once the centerpiece of CERN, earning the center international fame and its developers, Simon van der Meer and Carlo Rubbia, the Nobel Prize. Today, however, the antiproton decelerator is hidden in a dead-end street. The antimatter factory isn't easy to find among the office buildings, workshops and machine buildings at CERN.
Public attention has long since turned to the new, enormous super-accelerator called the Large Hadron Collider (LHC) -- especially in recent days.
Last week, physicists at CERN proudly announced that the LHC had achieved its first important partial victory: The data that were presented at the major summer conference of particle physicists in Melbourne leave almost no doubt anymore that the so-called Higgs boson particle, which gives other particles their mass, has finally been found. The discovery marks the end of a hunt that has lasted almost 50 years.
'The Work Has Just Begun'
"It's hard not to get excited by these results," says Sergio Bertolucci, the research director at CERN. He and his colleagues agree that this is a great moment in the history of their field -- perhaps the discovery of the century. And yet it was also a discovery that they had all expected. It would have been more surprising if they had not found the Higgs particle, because it would have destroyed the current standard theory of particle physics.
Seen in this light, the scientists are not as excited about what they have finally achieved as they are about what lies ahead. "The work has just begun," says CERN Director General Rolf-Dieter Heuer.
That's because the discovery of the Higgs boson merely serves as yet another confirmation of an existing theory. Physicists agree that they are now entering terrain in which they will no longer be guided by the existing equations. What happens next is uncertain.
The known formulas are not sufficient to help us understand why the world is this way and not that, and to comprehend in detail how the universe was created during the Big Bang. To delve into those secrets, it will be necessary to decipher new laws of nature.
Whatever Happened to Antimatter?
One of the central puzzles that could pave the way into this new territory lies in the question that Jeffrey Hangst has chosen to pursue: Why does the world consist of matter? And what happened to antimatter?
Hangst is particularly interested in an unusual material. It behaves just like ordinary matter, and yet it's completely different. The properties are the same, meaning that anti-glass would splinter like glass, anti-gold would shine like gold and anti-water would splash like water. And there would also be no visible difference between a person made of normal matter and a person made of antimatter. They would be completely identical.
But heaven forbid that both -- matter and antimatter, image and copy -- come into contact with one another. If that happened, there would be a bright flash of light and suddenly both would have disappeared.
The most important thing, however, is the fact that antimatter doesn't actually exist on a sustained basis. The anti-world is nothing more than a possibility, but one that nature has apparently not made into a reality. In the theorists' equations both the world and the anti-world play equal roles. But in the real, observable universe, everything consists of matter and nothing consists of antimatter.
"Understanding why this is the case has always fascinated me," says Hangst. Physicists are convinced that properly understanding the relationship between matter and antimatter would be tantamount to a revolution in comprehending the universe.
Something Instead of Nothing
Back in the mid-19th century, German philosopher Friedrich Wilhelm Schelling came up with what he called the "final, desperation-filled question": Why is there anything at all? Why is there not nothing? In modern physics, Schelling's metaphysical astonishment has been rephrased: Why don't matter and antimatter exist in equal parts in the universe?
Physicists agree that the force of the Big Bang created both forms of existence in equal amounts. With each particle, its counterpart, the corresponding antiparticle, was born. And because nature gave both the capacity to destroy one another, the moment of their creation already included their demise.
But then some providential change must have fundamentally altered the course of the universe. Physicists would love to understand what exactly happened shortly after the Big Bang. At this point, they only know the results of those events early in the history of the cosmos: They led to matter gaining the upper hand over antimatter.
But by no means was it by a large margin. On the contrary, the ratio that once existed between the two types of particles can be calculated using the density of particles in today's universe. The result is astonishing: There were 1,000,000,001 particles to 1,000,000,000 antiparticles. Can such a miniscule imbalance be significant?
Yes, it can. The subsequent evolution of the universe would reveal that this one particle was critical. If matter and antimatter had been exactly equal, cosmic existence would have destroyed itself within fractions of a second, leaving nothing behind but a monotonous desert of radiation.
No galaxies, no stars and no planets, and not even the most ordinary atoms would have been created in the universe without this small imbalance -- and humanity would certainly not have had the opportunity to ponder the mysteries of existence. The universe would have been nothing but a massive, constantly expanding ball of light.
Thanks to this tiny imbalance, however, there were survivors of the cosmic conflagration. In a furious inferno, matter and antimatter were incinerated, yielding pure radiation energy, which still exists today in the form of the background radiation that fills the entire universe. But the small remnant, that tiny excess of matter, survived and formed the seed of everything we marvel at today in the starlit sky. And everything that forms mountains, oceans, plants, animals and human beings on the Earth also stems from the remnants of that huge orgy of destruction that marked the beginning of cosmic history.
Ever since physicists recognized that all the diversity and complexity in this world is attributable to the victory of matter over antimatter, one of the great challenges of their field has been to solve the question of what caused that mysterious imbalance in the first place. Although physicists have been able to reconstruct the processes of the Big Bang in astounding detail, this fundamental question still remains unanswered.
But now the big search for answers has begun, a search that involves the use of technology on a massive scale:
■At the Brookhaven National Laboratory outside New York City, scientists are smashing together gold ions at nearly the speed of light. Last year, they managed to identify 18 anti-helium nuclei, the largest antiparticles detected to day, in the inferno of many billions of particle fragments.
■In a bid to detect even larger particles of antimatter, particle physicists have set up experimental apparatus in space. Their detector, which is docked to the International Space Station (ISS), has been listening for signals from the anti-world since May of last year.
Three Britons are among at least nine people killed after an avalanche hit the Mont Blanc range of the French Alps.
By Peter Allen, Paris, Barney Henderson and Sam Marsden
2:00PM BST 12 Jul 2012
• Nine dead after avalanche hits climbers in French Alps • Three Britons confirmed among the dead • Two Germans, two Swiss and two Spaniards among dead • Two Britons and two Spaniards reported to be missing • Avalanche hit Mount Maudit in the Mont Blanc range
The massive slide of snow happened around 5am this morning as early morning climbers made their way up Mount Maudit, which translates as "cursed peak", in the Mont Blanc range.
Most of the climbers were roped together on what is considered to be one of the most dangerous ascents in Europe.
The three Britons killed may include one or more guides, a local mountaineering leader said.
Christian Trommsdorff, from the French Mountain Guides Association, said: “I am not sure that there are still other British people unaccounted for.”
He could not immediately confirm any details about the gender, age and identities of the British victims of the disaster.
Two further Britons and two Spaniards were reported to be still missing.
There were 28 people in the original group which set out to climb Mount Maudit, all of them from a variety of different nationalities, say police.
Three Britons, two Germans, two Swiss and two Spaniards were among the nine confirmed killed in the avalanche.
Colonel Bertrand Francois, commander of the Haute-Savoie gendarmerie, said of the missing people: "This does not mean that they are under the avalanche but we are extremely concerned for their safety."
Nine people injured in the disaster were evacuated by helicopter to nearby hospitals. The other members of the group escaped unhurt.
Police believe that a climber at the front of one of the groups hacked into a slab of snow and ice, so causing it to collapse and trigger the avalanche.
It also emerged that 40mph winds had been battering the mountain tops overnight.
British mountaineer Kenton Cool told BBC: "To hear this sad news is a real shock. Every couple of years there is normally a big avalanche on that slope and unfortunately it's a bit of a black spot on the mountain.
"It would have been a huge wave of snow ... The climbers making their way up the slope would have had no chance.
"What happened is absolutely shocking news. For nine people to lose their lives at a small alpine resort will send shock waves through the community."
In terms of the climbers still missing, Mr Cool said: "Unfortunately after the first 15 – 20 min survival rates dramatically drop off, but that's not to say we should give up hope."
There were no avalanche warnings before the "deadliest snow slide in recent years", said Eric Fournier, the Mayor of Chamonix.
Mr Fournier said: "There were no weather reports forecasting an avalanche risk."
Instead huge walls of snow are believed to have been created by high winds overnight, forming so-called "Wind Slabs" which are hugely dangerous when they collapse.
Today’s avalanche is thought to have happened at dawn, as the heavily impacted snow began to warm up and then cascade downwards.
In August 2008 eight climbers – three Swiss, one German, and four Austrian – died in a similar accident on the nearby Mont Blanc du Tacul.
At 4345m, Mont Maudit is one of a range of peaks also including Mont Blanc du Tacul which are hugely popular with climbers in the summer.
The first ever ascent of Mont Maudit was by a British party in 1878.
Despite being popular as a tourist destination with thousands of Britons in both the winter and summer, the Mont Blanc range is one of the most lethal in the world.
It has killed more climbers than any other mountain range, with the annual death toll regularly reaching beyond the 100 mark.
Many lose their lives as they attempt to scale its peaks with insufficient training or supplies.
Simon Blackmore, a British mountain guide, said the tragedy happened on a popular but perilous route.
Many of those attempting the climb are inexperienced and unaware of the dangers of giant overhanging ice cliffs, or “seracs”.
Mr Blackmore said he had once had a once had a lucky escape when a serac “the size of an apartment block” collapsed in front of him.
He said: “When climbers started using this route, some of the guides immediately said, this is a very, very dangerous route. It is a route that traverses under seracs – hanging ice cliffs.
“Three years ago there was another big accident where one of these things came down on a party. This one happened a little further on.”
Mr Blackmore said a hot summer in the area had made conditions “unpredictable”.
He said people have been “getting away with it” on the route.
“I had a close call. I was about to come under a serac. This thing went off. This piece the size of an apartment block came down right in front of us," he said.
“The only protection as climbers is to go as quick as possible. Many climbers don’t understand quite how dangerous it is. They are not strong enough.”
But he said there was a “continuous stream” of people using the arduous route, often setting off at 2 or 3 in the morning in order to be in Chamonix by the evening.
Yannick Graziani, a mountain guide who was on the Mont Blanc du Tacul at the time, saw the avalanche from a distance and later saw rescuers looking for bodies.
“They were digging and putting in poles to see if they found somebody under the snow,” he said.
Mr Graziani said the avalanche seemed “quite chaotic” but not that big. There was a break in the blanket of snow before a “slab” came down although it was not clear to him from where he saw it what caused it.
A friend later told him it seemed to have been caused by a serac.
Dr Frederic Champli, a mountain rescue specialist, said the nine who had been killed all died as a result of injuries sustained in a 3-400m fall.
Five were immediately discovered dead when rescuers arrived while four more were dug out from beneath the snow.
Dr Champli said 11 injured had been brought to the hospital in Sallanches, none of whom were British.
Five were due to be discharged later today while six were expected to remain with injuries not thought to be life threatening, such as broken bones, he said.
The Foreign and Commonwealth Office said consular officials were trying to confirm reports of the British deaths.
A spokesman said: "We are aware of the avalanche in the French Alps near Chamonix today and reports three British nationals have died.
"We are urgently seeking information from the rescue authorities, but as yet do not have official confirmation of these deaths.
"We are aware of five missing British nationals and are urgently working to establish their whereabouts. Consular staff from the British Embassy in Paris are en route to the area to offer consular assistance."
New Delhi, July 12, 2012 First Published: 18:25 IST(12/7/2012) Last Updated: 18:32 IST(12/7/2012)
India and Denmark are involved in a diplomatic row after Denmark authorities refused a request by the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) to appeal against a Denmark court order to not extradite Kim Davy to India.
According to reports, the Danish diplomats have been restricted from meeting government official in India.
Initially, Denmark had accepted India's request for extraditing Davy but he challenged their decision in a city court in Copenhagen which ruled in his favour.
The Denmark authorities refused to appeal in their Supreme Court against the Copenhagen court order.
Danish authorities reportedly decided not to appeal despite efforts by Indian agencies to convince them.
Indian officials had offered to house Davy in a special jail.
Authorities made it clear that the prosecutor is not under the control of the Danish government and his decision is considered final.
The Copenhagen court decision was challenged by Danish authorities in the high court, which also rejected their plea citing poor prison conditions and human rights issues in India.
The Danish legal authorities then decided not to pursue the matter further and refused to file an appeal.
Kim Davy is an accused in December 17, 1995, dropping of arms by an AN-26 aircraft in Purulia. The consignment had hundreds of AK-47 rifles, pistols, anti-tank grenades, rocket launchers and thousands of rounds of ammunition.
The Dark Knight Rises Trailer 2012 - Official movie trailer 3 in HD -- conclusion of Christopher Nolan's Batman trilogy - starring Christian Bale, Anne Hathaway, Tom Hardy, Marion Cotillard, Joseph Gordon-Levitt, Michael Caine, Morgan Freeman
"The Dark Knight Rises" movie hits theaters on July 20, 2012.
SE Asia meeting in disarray over sea dispute with China
By Prak Chan Thul and Stuart Grudgings Fri Jul 13, 2012 9:15am EDT
PHNOM PENH (Reuters) - A Southeast Asian regional summit ended in acrimony on Friday over China's assertive role in the strategic South China Sea, failing to agree on a concluding joint statement for the first time in its 45-year history.
Divisions between the 10 countries in the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) follow a rise in incidents of naval brinkmanship involving Chinese vessels in the oil-rich waters that has sparked fears of a military clash.
The Philippines said it "deplores" ASEAN's failure to address the worsening row, and criticized Cambodia -- a close ally of China -- for its handling of the issue during the foreign ministers' meeting.
Without mentioning China, Philippine Foreign Minister Albert del Rosario told a news conference in Manila that one "member state's" intrusions into Philippine territory were part of a "creeping imposition" of its claim over the entire South China Sea and were raising the risk of a conflict.
The South China Sea has become Asia's biggest potential military flashpoint as Beijing's sovereignty claim over a huge, looping area has set it against Vietnam and the Philippines as the three countries race to tap possibly huge oil reserves.
The stakes have risen as the U.S. military shifts its attention and resources back to Asia, emboldening its long-time ally the Philippines and former foe Vietnam to take a bolder stance against Beijing.
ASEAN's divisions are an ominous sign for a bloc that wants to create a regional economic community by 2015 that would bring down barriers in trade, labor and financial markets -- partly to compete with China for investment.
China is a member of the East Asian Summit and ASEAN Regional Forum which also held meetings in Cambodia.
"The increasing assertion by this member state over the disputed and non-disputed areas poses a threat to the peace and stability in the Asia-Pacific region," del Rosario said.
"If left unchecked, the increasing tension that is being generated in the process could further escalate into physical hostilities which no one wants."
China has been accused of using its heavy influence over summit chair Cambodia and several other ASEAN members to block regional-level discussions on the issue and attempts to agree a binding maritime Code of Conduct to manage the dispute.
The Philippines said it took "strong exception" to Cambodia's statement that the non-issuance of a communique was due to "bilateral conflict between some ASEAN member states and a neighboring country".
It said it had only requested that the communique mention the recent standoff between Chinese and Philippine ships at the Scarborough Shoal, a horseshoe-shaped reef in waters that both countries claim.
Indonesia, the biggest economy in Southeast Asia, played down the rift. "No doubt the South China Sea at the moment is a difficult issue but I'm sure ASEAN will find ways and means to be able to address that problem," Indonesian Foreign Minister Marty Natalegawa told Reuters.
But the rising tensions were underlined on Friday when the Chinese navy said that one of its frigates had run aground on Half Moon Shoal, about 90 nautical miles off the western Philippine island of Palawan.
China said it was conducting a rescue mission and the Philippines said it was sending "assets" to the area to investigate and provide assistance if needed.
"That's a very strategic location to strengthen their claim over the Reed Bank, they are getting closer to our territory, putting one foot inside our fence," one military official told Reuters.
The Philippines scrambled aircraft and ships to the Reed Bank area last year after Chinese navy ships threatened to ram a Philippine survey ship.
China said last month it had begun "combat-ready" patrols in waters it said were under its control in the South China Sea, after saying it "vehemently opposed" a Vietnamese law asserting sovereignty over the Paracel and Spratly islands.
Philippine President Benigno Aquino told Reuters in an interview last week that he may ask the United States to deploy spy planes to monitor the disputed waters.
China, whose trade and investment ties with Cambodia have surged in recent years, has warned that "external forces" should not get involved in the dispute, which it says should only be discussed bilaterally. Vietnam, Malaysia, Brunei and Taiwan also lay claim to parts of the South China Sea.
Vietnam's Foreign Minister Pham Binh Minh said he was "very disappointed" over the failure to issue a statement.
In a statement issued late on Thursday, Chinese Foreign Minister Yang Jiechi repeated that there was "no dispute" about China's sovereignty over Scarborough Shoal.
"China hopes the Philippine side faces the facts squarely and stops creating trouble," he added.
The United States has stressed it is neutral in the long-running maritime dispute, despite offering to help boost the Philippines' decrepit military forces. It says freedom of navigation is its main concern about a waterway that carries $5 trillion in trade - half the world's shipping tonnage.
(Stuart Grudgings reported from Kuala Lumpur.; Additional reporting by Manuel Magato in Manila, Ben Blanchard in Beijing and Olivia Rondonuwu in Jakarta; Editing by Jason Szep and Jeremy Laurence)
UFO files: faceless humanoids spook Welsh hotel owner
SPACESHIPS in the Falklands, Men in Black in Lincolnshire and a spate of UFOs that turned out to be Chinese lanterns are included in the latest tranche of Ministry of Defence 'X-Files' to be released by the National Archives. Here are the highlights...
'FACELESS HUMANOIDS' SCARE
In 1977, local MP Nicholas Edwards said he was "inundated" with UFO reports from his constituents in west Wales and asked the MoD to investigate.
Edwards received a letter from a hotel proprietor who claimed she had seen a dome-shaped object land "like the moon falling down". Two tall silver-suited "faceless humanoids" then emerged and began "making measurements". RAF police later noted that a silver protective suit used in nearby oil refineries had been on display in a shop window at Haverfordwest shortly before the sightings and blamed a practical joker.
MEN IN BLACK
In 2006, a man from Spalding, Lincolnshire who had earlier reported a UFO encounter to police was visited at night by three tall men dressed in "black suits, white shirts and black ties" who "seemed to move silently", according to a friend who witnessed the intruders while hiding in the downstairs toilet. The 'men in black' left in a black Jaguar soon afterwards. When the "petrified" witness asked their friend about the conversation with the visitors, he denied seeing any men in black and couldn't even recall reporting a UFO to the police in the first place. The witness speculates that the friend had been "silenced" by the men.
FALKLANDS WAR UFOS
A 1982 memo notes a fall in numbers of UFO sightings reported to the MoD since the beginning of the Falklands War but says: "I have received one letter claiming that large numbers of UFOs have been seen in the vicinity of the Task Force - presumably Little Green Men in ponchos."
CHINESE LANTERN UFOS
A craze for releasing Chinese lanterns into the sky at night led to a spate of UFO sightings from 2005. The MoD received four separate reports of "golden orbs" seen by people near Loughton Tube station in Essex in September 2005. In August 2007, a woman called the MoD's UFO hotline "panicking [and] saying we had to ring her back (She left three messages saying this). She was petrified and so were her friends. She had never seen anything like this before". A caller from Houghton-le-Spring, Co Durham, was more laid back. He saw similar lights but did not think they were UFOs as he didn't believe aliens would want to visit Houghton.
OH DEAR! FLYING SAUCER POLICY UNDERMINED
In 1998 copies of Top Secret minutes of the MoD's Flying Saucer Working Party of 1950-52 were opened at the Public Record Office, now the National Archives. The file was annotated by one worried official who feared it might fuel cover-up conspiracies. They wrote: "Oh dear! This makes our line 'no interest' in [flying saucers] look suspect." ·