'UFO' over English countryside nothing but a model helicopter
By Benjamin Radford 9/10/2012 5:49:34 PM ET NBCNews.com
On Aug. 23, a strange sight baffled locals in the English county of Leicestershire: Dozens of people reported seeing mysterious lights hovering in the sky around dusk high above open fields. The hovering lights, which were made up of at least three colors, were silent. They were too small to be any kind of aircraft or helicopters.
A local group of investigators from the Leicestershire UFO Research Society were soon dispatched to the scene. They reported that, "Several witnesses in the area reported observing a strange flying object hovering above the Barwell and Burbage Common areas of the region. Object was said to be carrying blue, red and white lights and behaving strangely."
Local UFO enthusiasts were abuzz with speculation, but after about a week of research the group concluded that the UFO "was in fact an illuminated quadcopter model being flown at dusk in a local park by a model aircraft enthusiast," according to their website.
Graham Hall, a spokesman for the group, was quoted by the newspaper Thisisleicestershire.com as concluding, "we are reliably informed the object that caused all the fuss on this occasion was a large model quadcopter. They are relatively new but basically they're model helicopters with four small rotor supports arranged in a cross shape. …They can have bright lights attached to them and can look very strange as they hover and circle in the night sky."
Scrub Jays React to Their Dead, Bird Study Shows: 'Funerals' Can Last for Up to Half an Hour
ScienceDaily (Sep. 11, 2012)
Western scrub jays summon others to screech over the body of a dead jay, according to new research from the University of California, Davis. The birds' cacophonous "funerals" can last for up to half an hour.
Anecdotal reports have suggested that other animals, including elephants, chimpanzees and birds in the crow family, react to dead of their species, said Teresa Iglesias, the UC Davis graduate student who carried out the work. But few experimental studies have explored this behavior.
The new research by Iglesias and her colleagues appears in the Aug. 27 issue of the journal Animal Behaviour.
Western scrub jays live in breeding pairs and are not particularly social birds.
"They're really territorial and not at all friendly with other scrub-jays," Iglesias said.
Working in the backyards of homes in Davis, Calif., Iglesias set up feeding tables to encourage visits from the jays. Then she videotaped their behavior when she placed a dead jay on the ground. She compared these reactions with the birds' behavior when confronted with a dead jay that had been stuffed and mounted on a perch, a stuffed horned owl, and wood painted to represent jay feathers.
On encountering a dead jay, prostrate on the ground, jays flew into a tree and began a series of loud, screeching calls that attracted other jays. The summoned birds perched on trees and fences around the body and joined in the calling. These cacophonous gatherings could last from a few seconds to as long as 30 minutes.
Jays formed similar cacophonous gatherings in response to a mounted owl, but ignored painted wood. When confronted with a mounted jay, the birds swooped in on it as if it were an intruder.
Jays typically gathered within seconds of the first bird calling, Iglesias said. If they did not, the first jay would often fly higher into a tree, apparently to call more widely.
"It looked like they were actively trying to attract attention," she said.
The purpose of the calls seems to be to alert other birds of danger, Iglesias said. But why the calls summon others, rather than warning them off, is unclear. Having more jays present might mean more eyes to locate a predator, or more numbers to drive it away, she speculates.
There might also be a learning component to the gatherings, if they help teach young jays about dangers in the environment, Iglesias said.
While reactions of animals to their dead are sometimes called "funerals," that does not imply that there is an emotional or ritual element to the behavior, Iglesias said. We simply don't know enough about the emotional life of animals to understand that.
But Iglesias isn't ruling it out. "I think there's a huge possibility that there is much more to learn about the social and emotional lives of birds," she said.
Co-authors of the paper are UC Davis scientists Gail Patricelli, a professor of evolution and ecology, and Richard McElreath, an associate professor of anthropology.
Their work was supported by a Gates Millennium Graduate Scholarship from the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation and UC Davis funds to support graduate students.
SANA, Yemen — Turmoil in the Arab world linked to an American-made video denigrating the Prophet Muhammad spread on Thursday to Yemen, where hundreds of protesters attacked the American Embassy, two days after assailants killed the American ambassador in Libya and crowds tried to overrun the embassy compound in Cairo.
News reports also spoke of a separate protest in Tehran, where around 500 Iranians chanting “Death to America” tried to converge on the Swiss Embassy, which handles United States interests in the absence of formal diplomatic relations with Washington. Hundreds of police officers held the crowds back from the diplomatic compound, witnesses said.
For a third straight day at the American Embassy in Cairo, protesters scuffled with police firing tear gas, witnesses said, and the state news agency reported that 13 people were injured. In Iraq, a militant Shiite group, Asaib Ahl al-Haq, once known for its violent attacks on Americans and other Westerners, reportedly said the video “will put all American interests in danger.” Protests were also reported at American missions in Morocco, Sudan and Tunisia, where the police also fired tear gas to disperse crowds.
In Sana, the capital of Yemen, witnesses said government security forces tried to disperse a crowd at the fortified American Embassy compound in the eastern part of the city. But protesters succeeded in breaking through an outer perimeter protecting the embassy, clambering over a high wall and setting fire to a building.
They were forced to retreat after trying to plunder furniture and computers, the witnesses said.
Security forces guarding the embassy fired into the air as protesters set two vehicles alight and burned tires. Protesters tore down and burned an American flag, replacing it with their own banner proclaiming the Islamic faith, witnesses said.
There were no immediate reports of American casualties, nor was there any report that the protesters had managed to breach the main diplomatic buildings within the compound. Yemeni officials said that a number of protesters were wounded and some were arrested, but did not provide figures. Hours after the attack started, smoke was still seen rising from the area.
By early afternoon, one witness, Yahya Yousef, who lives opposite the embassy, said: “Now almost everyone is out, and firing has ceased. We saw protesters getting out with some stuff from inside.”
The protests came hours after a Muslim cleric, Abdul Majid al- Zandani, urged followers to emulate the protests in Libya and Egypt, Sana residents said. Mr. Zandani, a onetime mentor to Osama bin Laden, was named a “specially designated global terrorist” by the United States Treasury Department in 2004.
The crowd gathered a day after the embassy warned Americans in a posting on its Web site that “in the wake of recent events in Libya and Egypt, there is the possibility of protests in Yemen, and specifically in the vicinity of the U.S. Embassy, in the coming days.”
“The U.S. Embassy continues to recommend that U.S. citizens avoid large gatherings. Even demonstrations or events intended to be peaceful can turn confrontational and possibly escalate into violence. U.S. citizens in Yemen are urged to monitor local news reports and to plan their activities accordingly,” the Web posting said.
President Abdu Rabbu Mansour Hadi of Yemen said in a statement that he “extends his sincere apologies to President Obama and to the people of the United States of America” for the attack. Mr. Hadi took office in February after his strongman predecessor, Ali Abdullah Saleh, stepped down last November following months of violent protests.
In his statement, Mr. Hadi said he had ordered an “expeditious and thorough investigation” and promised that “the perpetrators of these acts will be prosecuted to the full extent of the law.” The statement also alluded to “divisions among Yemen’s security and military forces” between supporters of the new government and of Mr. Saleh which had exacerbated tensions.
Mohammed Albasha, a spokesman for Yemen’s embassy in Washington, said the government strongly condemned the attack, adding that there were no reported casualties.
“Given recent regional events, earlier this morning angry protesters have unfortunately flooded the security perimeter of the U.S. Embassy,” he said in a statement. “The government of Yemen will honor international obligations to ensure the safety of diplomats and will step up security presence around all foreign missions.”
With American Marines and naval vessels heading for Libya, where the American ambassador, J. Christopher Stevens, and three of his staff were killed on Tuesday in an attack on the American Consulate, the ferment in Yemen added to the already volatile mix of passions that have commingled with the initial exuberance of the so-called Arab Spring.
In an effort to defuse the tension in Egypt, President Mohamed Morsi was quoted on Thursday as saying the attacks on American personnel were unacceptable. Speaking in a television address while visiting Brussels, Mr. Morsi said he supported peaceful demonstrations but rejected attacks on personnel and diplomatic missions.
“What happened is unacceptable, rejected. The Prophet Muhammad taught us to respect human life,” Bloomberg News quoted Mr. Morsi as saying. But he also warned against maligning Islam’s founding prophet. “The Prophet Muhammad and Islamic sanctities are red lines for all of us.”
Little is known about the origin of the video that provoked the protests, which is called “Innocence of Muslims.” It was made in obscurity somewhere in Southern California and promoted by a network of right-wing Christians with a history of animosity directed toward Muslims. When a 14-minute trailer of it was posted on YouTube in June, it was barely noticed.
But when the amateurish video was translated into Arabic and reposted twice on YouTube in the days before Sept. 11, and promoted by leaders of the Coptic diaspora in the United States, it drew nearly one million views and set off bloody demonstrations.
Many Muslims object strongly to any representation of the Prophet Muhammad, and, as in the case of cartoons lampooning Islam’s founder in a Danish newspaper in 2005, are particularly enraged by negative depictions. The contentious 14-minute video shows the prophet as a villainous homosexual and child-molesting buffoon.
The initial eruption of protests in Egypt and Libya came on the anniversary of the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks in the United States.
Referring to the killings in Benghazi, Libya, American and European officials said on Wednesday that while many details about the attack remained unclear, the assailants seemed organized, well trained and heavily armed and they appeared to have at least some level of advance planning. But the officials cautioned that it was too soon to tell whether the attack was related to the Sept. 11 commemoration.
Also on Tuesday, a car bomb exploded in Yemen alongside a convoy of vehicles used by Yemen’s defense minister, killing seven bodyguards and five civilians in the heart of the capital, while the minister escaped unharmed, government and hospital officials said. The attack came one day after a top operative of Al Qaeda in Yemen was killed in what Yemeni officials called an American drone strike.
Those episodes and the violence on Thursday spoke to the continued volatility in poverty-stricken Yemen, where the United States is seeking to eradicate militant cells held responsible for a number of conspiracies, including an attempt by an operative of Al Qaeda to detonate a bomb hidden in his clothes on a flight bound for Detroit in December 2009.
The blast on Tuesday in downtown Sana tore through a thoroughfare between the cabinet office and the state radio building, shattering buildings and wrecking a vehicle carrying the seven bodyguards, seconds after the minister himself, Maj. Gen. Mohammed Nasser Ahmed, had passed by in another vehicle after a weekly cabinet meeting.
Nasser Arrabyee reported from Sana, Yemen, and Alan Cowell from London. Ramtin Rastin contributed reporting from Tehran, David D. Kirkpatrick from Cairo, and Kareem Fahim from Beirut, Lebanon.
U.S. consulate in Berlin partially evacuated after suspicious delivery
Thu Sep 13, 2012 8:47am EDT
BERLIN (Reuters) - German emergency services evacuated the visa section of the United States consulate in Berlin on Thursday after an employee felt difficulty breathing when opening a passport handed to her by a visitor, police said.
The visitor was believed to be an Albanian man who said he was applying for a U.S. visa, said police, adding that workers at the consulate later returned to their posts.
The alarm come amid attacks on U.S. embassy and consulate buildings across the Middle East.
Television footage showed investigators in chemical protection suits and masks at the Berlin consulate, which is in the southwest of the city, separate from the main embassy building in central Berlin.
"Shortly before 11 this morning a man came to the consulate and handed over his passport, saying he wanted a visa," Berlin police spokesman Stefan Redlich said.
"When the employee opened the passport she experienced breathing difficulties and a metallic taste in her mouth ... At the moment investigators are checking whether there was a suspicious substance."
A spokesman for the Berlin fire service said three women employees had received treatment for breathing difficulties.
Demonstrators attacked the U.S. embassies in Yemen and Egypt on Thursday in protest over a film they consider blasphemous to Islam, and American warships headed to Libya after the death of the U.S. ambassador there in related violence earlier in the week.
Islamist gunmen had staged a military-style assault on the U.S. consulate and a safe house refuge in Benghazi, eastern Libya. The U.S. ambassador Christopher Stevens and three other Americans died in the assault, carried out with guns, mortars and grenades.
(Reporting by Alexandra Hudson; Edited by Stephen Brown and Pravin Char)
George Washington: Interior Decorator, and Other Famous Makers
By Joseph Flaherty 09.13.12 6:30 AM
Image: Published by William C. Robertson [between 1830 and 1880]
Think you don't have time to pick up a hobby? Imagine being a head of state, an Emmy award-winning actor, or a musician that can score a spot on the Hollywood Walk of Fame. While these vocations often require years of dedication and leave little extra free time, we've found a few highly notable names that have garnered great success in side hobbies as diverse and surprising as carpentry, model railroading, and interior decorating. Sure, celebrity access and money doesn't hurt their endeavors, but it doesn't always improve talent either. Now quit yer gripin' and get back to the workshop.
George Washington was a military genius, precedent-setting president, and a passionate interior decorator. The fact that the father of our country was an interior decorator is often left out of short biographies. David McCullough rectified this oversight in his history of the Revolutionary War, 1776, with a description of Washington's dedication to window treatments.
"Only the year before taking command at Cambridge, Washington had commenced an ambitious expansion of his Virginia home, Mount Vernon, which, when completed, would double its size. He was adding a library and building a two-story dining room, or banquet hall, suitable for entertaining on a grand scale. He was a builder by nature. He had a passion for architecture and landscape design, and Mount Vernon was his creation, everything done to his own ideas and plans. How extremely important all this was to him and the pleasure he drew from it, few people ever understood. He had an abiding dislike of disorder and cared intensely about every detail — wallpaper, paint color, ceiling ornaments — and insisted on perfection. He hated to be away from the project. Even at the distance of Cambridge, with all that weighed on his mind he worried that things were not being handled as he wished at Mount Vernon and filled pages of instructions for his manager, Lund Washington."
GORHAM, Maine (AP) — UFO believers gathered at a conference in Maine to share their stories of close encounters and hear from speakers who said they've been abducted by extraterrestrials.
Scores of people showed up Saturday for the Experiencers Speak conference in Gorham, where they heard from speakers who've claimed to have been abducted by beings from other planets.
The conference was organized by twin sisters Audrey and Debbie Hewins of Mechanic Falls, who started a national support group for abductees after what they describe as a lifelong series of encounters with extraterrestrials.
The keynote speaker was Travis Walton, a logger and author of ‘‘Fire in the Sky,’’ who said he was kidnapped by aliens in a national forest in Arizona woods in 1975 and held captive for five days. Another featured speaker was Kathy Marden, who wrote a book about her aunt and uncle, Betty and Barney Hill, a Portsmouth, N.H., couple whose story about an alien abduction gained national attention in the 1960s.
Some of those in attendance said their experiences with extraterrestrials have changed their lives.
Kevin O'Brien, of Bar Harbor, told the Maine Sunday Telegram (http://bit.ly/PcCJqp ) he came to the conference hoping to meet Mainers who've had experiences like his.
The 30-year-old O'Brien said his first encounter was three years ago while taking a walk at 2 a.m. in Bangor. That’s when he encountered tall human-like creatures he calls ‘‘the wizard people’’ that he says are sending a spiritual message to earthlings.
‘‘They are saying, ‘Be happy and as loving as possible.’ This is the message I am getting,’’ O'Brien said.
U.S. agencies didn't issue high alert over Mideast threat
By Mark Hosenball WASHINGTON Fri Sep 14, 2012 1:32am EDT
WASHINGTON (Reuters) - U.S. officials say they believe an Arabic talk show last Saturday showing parts of an anti-Muslim video made in the United States was the spark that set off violent attacks on U.S. missions in Libya and Egypt, but acknowledge the broadcast did not prompt a major upgrade in security precautions.
On Tuesday, four Americans, including Ambassador Christopher Stevens, were killed in an attack on the American Consulate in Benghazi, Libya, that U.S. officials said may have been planned by one or more militant factions. On the same day, protesters in Cairo breached the U.S. Embassy's walls, and the protests have since spread to other countries, including Yemen, Bangladesh and Kuwait.
An Egyptian TV network, al-Nas, broadcast last Saturday what its presenters described as extracts from an English-language film denigrating the Prophet Mohammad, which it said had been uploaded on the YouTube website by "migrant Coptics," a reference to exiled members of a Christian sect with a large minority presence among Egypt's Muslim majority.
The clips broadcast on al-Nas were taken from a short film available on the Internet. It is called "Innocence of Muslims," and portrays the Prophet - played by what appears to be a young American actor - as a womanizer, thug and child molester.
Three U.S. officials said the broadcast did not prompt strong warnings from intelligence agencies or the State Department of possible threats to U.S. diplomatic missions in the Islamic world.
One official, who like the others spoke on condition of anonymity, said there was at least one specific warning about possible unrest in the region that was circulated within the government, but was not so alarming as to lead to a major upgrade in security for a possible emergency.
The lack of a major upgrade in precautions may show how difficult it is for officials to assess threats that first emerge on social media. The threats can seemingly come out of nowhere and gather strength rapidly.
The events also underline the role of the Middle East's more freewheeling media, loosened from state restrictions after the fall of longtime dictators.
For many Muslims, any depiction of the Prophet is blasphemous, and caricatures or other characterizations have in the past provoked violent protests across the Muslim world.
"The number of potentially inflammatory things that are said or broadcast every week (is so large) ... that warning about all of them would be useless," said Paul Pillar, former top U.S. intelligence analyst for the Middle East and South Asia. It was "impossible to predict" the kind of violent reaction that occurred in Libya, Egypt and elsewhere.
One U.S. official said, "You can't freak out on everything that's broadcast."
That official and others said the airwaves and Internet were filled with hateful material and U.S. authorities could be "crying wolf" if they issued a warning every time an anti-Islamic broadside was aired or posted online.
A senior congressional official said the question of what the United States knew about pre-September 11, 2012, threats and what it did about them would likely be examined in legislative inquiries into the Libyan and Egyptian violence.
Another aide indicated it would be difficult to fault U.S. agencies on the issue.
ATTORNEY GENERAL TO MANAGE PROBE
U.S. facilities in the Middle East were already on heightened alert earlier this week due to the anniversary of the September 11, 2001, al Qaeda attacks on New York and Washington.
The FBI has opened an investigation into the killings in Benghazi. U.S. officials said Attorney General Eric Holder was cutting short a foreign trip and would return to Washington on Friday to manage the Libya investigation.
Al-Nas is an Egyptian Islamic satellite channel whose programming ranges from Islamic scholars delivering religious edicts to shows about cooking and medicine.
Before Egypt's 2011 revolution, authorities periodically suspended privately owned religious satellite channels such as al-Nas, many of which follow conservative Salafi Islam, for allegedly violating broadcasting licenses by promoting religious or sectarian hatred and providing dubious medical advice.
U.S. officials believe that al-Nas' Saturday broadcast of a talk show hosted by Sheikh Khalid Abdallah was the flashpoint for the unrest.
Egyptian political scientist Omar Ashour said Abdallah was a controversial Islamist host of a TV show that specialized in criticizing liberals, often inviting firebrand commentators to mock secular Egyptians. His show tends to be popular with Salafi Muslims, but not with followers of the more mainstream Muslim Brotherhood that dominates Egypt's government.
A European security official said intelligence reporting indicated the inflammatory clips from the American film run on the talk show had been translated and dubbed into Arabic by Copts, possibly members of the sect living in the United States.
In their commentary on the film clips, the hosts of al-Nas' program alleged the material had been uploaded by "migrant Coptics," according to Flashpoint Global Partners, a firm that monitors militant websites for government and private clients.
According to Flashpoint's translation, the al-Nas presenters at one point in their introduction to the anti-Mohammad film, specifically mentioned "radical pastor Terry Jones," the Florida preacher who staged a number of anti-Islamic events over the past year. Jones has confirmed he was involved in promoting the film.
(Additional reporting by David Ingram in Washington, Marwa Awad in Cairo and William Maclean in London. Editing by Warren Strobel, Martin Howell and Peter Cooney)
Originally published September 13, 2012 at 8:32 PM Page modified September 13, 2012 at 9:25 PM
Fed tries again to recharge economy
The Fed hopes its action Thursday will make it cheaper for Americans to borrow to buy cars, boats, condos or homes. Another expected benefit is that earlier bond buying helped bolster stock prices, an unheralded benefit for the millions of Americans who have 401(k) retirement plans.
By Kevin G. Hall McClatchy Newspapers
WASHINGTON — Offering the third incarnation of its unconventional efforts to spark economic activity, the Federal Reserve on Thursday announced a new round of bond-buying, sending stock prices soaring and triggering criticism from some lawmakers in Congress.
The Fed said it would expand the ongoing programs to purchase mortgage bonds, a process called quantitative easing, or QE, by $40 billion a month through year's end and perhaps beyond.
It also will continue another program to extend the average maturity of the securities it holds by swapping out shorter-term Treasury bonds for longer-term bonds.
Both moves seek to help consumers and businesses by further pushing down already low lending rates, but together they would add $85 billion to the Fed's balance sheet every month for the remainder of the year.
Although many economists have warned of diminishing returns on additional bond buying, the Fed hopes its action will make it cheaper for Americans to borrow to buy cars, boats, condos or homes.
Another expected benefit is that earlier bond buying helped bolster stock prices, an unheralded benefit for the millions of Americans who have 401(k) retirement plans.
The idea behind the aggressive purchase of Treasury and mortgage bonds is to force investors out of safe bets and into risk-taking that supports economic activity.
This happens because the Fed's purchases drive the return on investment in bonds so low that investors seek better profits from stocks, corporate bonds, commodities and other investments.
The Fed's move amounted to a shift in emphasis, since prior Fed actions were said to be in support of the economy.
Chairman Ben Bernanke described Thursday's action as an effort to further lower the unemployment rate, which has remained at 8.1 percent, where it is now, or higher since February 2009.
With large numbers of Americans stuck without jobs for months and even years at a time, the unemployment rate threatens to do permanent economic damage, he warned.
"The idea is to quicken the recovery," Bernanke said at a news conference after a two-day meeting by the rate-setting Federal Open Market Committee.
Cautioning that the action isn't a panacea, Bernanke said he sought "to help nudge the economy in the right direction."
Financial markets had hoped for some additional support from the Fed but they got more than even they'd expected. Stocks soared in response, with the Dow Jones industrial average closing up 206.51 points. The S&P 500 rose by 23.43 points, and the Nasdaq finished up 41.52 points to 3,155.83.
In another small step to boost the economy, the Fed changed the language in the statement that accompanies each of its meetings.
It told investors that it now expected its exceptionally low benchmark federal funds rate — which influences the prime rate banks charge consumers and businesses — to remain in a range between zero and 0.25 percent through the end of 2015.
Previous statements had anticipated that the low rate would stay there until the end of 2014. This shows financial markets that the Fed is willing to take extraordinary measures to help the economy recover.
The Fed's action Thursday comes amid a heated political campaign, and while Bernanke was first appointed by Republican President George W. Bush, many Republicans don't want the Fed to take any additional steps, since its balance sheet has swelled to nearly $3 trillion.
Republican reaction Thursday was swift. "I'm disappointed in the Federal Reserve's actions today and truly believe Chairman Bernanke is beginning to do serious damage to the Fed as an institution," Sen. Bob Corker, R-Tenn., said in a statement.
Republican Rep. Jeb Hensarling, of Texas, vice chairman of the House Financial Services Committee, said the Fed's action underscored the Obama administration's failed economic policies.
"It is regrettable that the president's failed policies have compelled the Fed to take further unprecedented action to expand the monetary base," he said.
Democrats responded in kind.
"The Fed is fulfilling its obligation to take action to address unemployment. Now congressional Republicans need to fulfill theirs," Sen. Charles Schumer, D-N.Y., a member of the Senate Banking Committee, said in a statement.
Bernanke shrugged off suggestions that his action benefits President Obama, saying: "We just don't take those factors into account."
But he stressed that the Fed's three quantitative easing moves aren't akin to almost $3 trillion in new spending, a frequent Republican claim, noting that bonds eventually will be sold back into financial markets or will roll off the Fed's balance sheet as they reach maturity.
Politicians, such as Corker, who sway public opinion increasingly are questioning the Fed's own credibility.
The Fed's new bond buy-in was supported by all members of the rate-setting Federal Open Market Committee except Jeffery Lacker, president of the Federal Reserve Bank of Richmond, Va.
US Army missile test sparks UFO reports in Southwest
Three unarmed rockets fired from New Mexico to test Patriot defense system.
By Bob Christie updated 9/13/2012 7:27:27 PM ET
PHOENIX — People across the Southwest got an early-morning show in the sky Thursday, courtesy of a trio of unarmed missiles fired from New Mexico, one of which left a brilliant contrail that changed colors as it was illuminated by the rising sun.
The twisting cloudlike formation was visible in southern Colorado, Phoenix, Salt Lake City and Las Vegas just before sunrise, and led to hundreds of calls and emails to area TV stations.
Law enforcement agencies in northern New Mexico and southern Colorado received some reports of a crash, but those were quickly discounted. A sheriff's deputy in northern New Mexico who saw one of the missiles leaving behind a contrail as it lifted into the pre-dawn sky said he spotted what appeared to be an explosion and a part falling off the craft.
"When I saw it, it surprised the heck out of me, and I thought, 'Wow, that's not something you see every day,'" said San Juan County deputy J.J. Roberts. "So I pulled over, pulled out my iPhone and started taking some pictures and video."
The "explosion" was a normal separation of the first and second stages of the unarmed Juno ballistic missile that was fired at 6:30 a.m. MT from Fort Wingate near Gallup, N.M., said Drew Hamilton, a spokesman for the U.S. Army's White Sands Missile Range. The expended first stage landed in a designated area of U.S. Forest Service land.
The Juno missile was then targeted by advanced versions of the Patriot missile fired from White Sands, about 350 miles (560 kilometers) away, as part of a test. Two of the missiles were fired and hit the incoming Juno missile, said Dan O'Boyle, a spokesman for the Redstone Arsenal in Alabama, which was in charge of the Patriots used in the test.
The Patriot missiles kill incoming targets by direct strike and don't explode.
The rising sun backlit the Juno missile's contrail and provided a spectacular morning sight for early risers across the region.
"It's one of those things it does not happen every time — the weather and light conditions have to be just right, and this was one of those times," Hamilton said. "We even had people calling from (Los Angeles) asking about it. They want to know about it. Apparently this thing really lit up the sky really well."
Roberts said he was driving between Aztec, N.M., and Farmington, N.M, before sunrise when he saw the missile heading into the sky.
"It was pretty obvious. The first thing that came to mind, it was some sort of a missile or a jet or something like that," Roberts said.
Calls began coming in to dispatchers, and two deputies on the other side of San Juan County were dispatched to look for a crash. But Roberts said he quickly waved them off.
"We had gotten reports that there was an explosion or a UFO or missile or whatever, and people thought it was real close so they were concerned there would be debris falling from the sky," Roberts said. "To me, it was obvious when I saw it, it was real high altitude. It wasn't something real close."
Masten Space Systems Loses Rocket After Record Flight By Jason Paur September 14, 2012 | 6:30 am Categories: Air Travel, Open Space
Masten Space Systems has lost one of its research rockets after a mostly successful test flight this week. Company spokesman Colin Ake told Wired the flight was designed to expand the flight envelope of its Xaero rocket when the incident occurred.
“One of the primary goals was to test how the vehicle would handle at higher wind loads and at higher altitudes,” Ake said.
Xaero is part of Masten’s development program to build a reusable, sub-orbital rocket that is capable of precision landings. The 12-foot-tall rocket had made 110 flights before this week’s accident. The flight at the Mojave Air and Space Port was supposed to fly to an altitude of one kilometer while testing the flight controls at higher ascent and descent velocities and then return to a precise landing point.
With about two-thirds of the flight complete, Xaero was in the descent stage when control was lost.
“As we were throttling up for landing, we had a throttle valve failure, it was essentially stuck,” Ake said. “We are entirely dependent on high-precision throttling, that’s the core of the handling in the descent stage. The flight was terminated and the vehicle was destroyed.”
Ake says the safety systems worked as they were designed, but could not say whether the on-board system terminated the flight or if the flight was terminated by a person on the ground.
“No one was hurt, that’s the most important thing,” he added. “Hardware failures happen. Rocket science is a cliche because rocket science is not easy.”
Indeed, after more than 220 successful vertical take-off and landing test flights over the past two years, Masten was beginning to make the development of precision-landing rockets look routine. This week’s accident is a reminder of the dangers of flight-testing new rocket vehicles.
Xaero flew to an altitude of 444 meters on July 4. Masten is focused on the precision landings that will allow its rockets to fly into space and return to a specific landing spot on the ground, rather than a ballistic reentry with a splashdown in the ocean.
The company already has an updated, larger version of the Xaero standing in its facility in Mojave. Ake would not say when the first flight of the new version was expected to happen.
Masten’s Xombie rocket continues its flight test program with a flight last month that included reaching 475 meters in altitude and a 750 meter horizontal distance to a precision landing (video below). Masten believes the August Xombie flight marks the longest horizontal flight ever made on earth by a vertical take-off and landing rocket powered vehicle.
The Apollo moon missions did manage to go a bit further, though Xombie’s flight is more analogous to the lunar lander taking off and landing again on the moon. NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory is one of Masten’s clients and the precision-landing rocket flights could one day be used on a Mars mission.
11TH SEPTEMBER 2012 GIANT UFO MOTHERSHIP ON ISS LIVE FEED, LETTING OUT ORBS!! Recording the ISS Live Stream as this picture appeared. Only for a few seconds - looking to the backside of the ISS -in broad day light - then NASA switched very fast to earth view and did not return to this view. It looks like a very big Object - far away behind ISS and you can see 4 holes looking like engines. I do not know what it is ... Maybe anyone has an Idea ... but it is no reflection from the ISS because the cam is outside ...also the ISS has not such a lot of lights in one row !
Way of the Dragon English Full Movie 猛龍過江 (also known in the United States as Return of the Dragon) is a 1972 Hong Kong martial arts action comedy film written, produced, directed by and starring Bruce Lee. This was Lee's directorial debut.
Six troops die in weekend "insider" attacks in Afghanistan
By Jessica Donati Sun Sep 16, 2012 8:21am EDT
KABUL (Reuters) - Four soldiers fighting with the NATO-led alliance were killed in another suspected "insider" attack in southern Afghanistan on Sunday, the coalition said, bringing the total number of deaths this weekend caused by Afghans turning on their allies to six.
Four NATO-led troops were found dead and two wounded when a nearby response team arrived at the scene from a nearby checkpoint, a spokesman for the coalition said.
One of the six members of the Afghan National Police (ANP) operating the observation post with six coalition troops was also found dead, while the other five had disappeared.
"The fighting had stopped by the time the responders arrived," said Major Adam Wojack, a spokesman for the NATO-led coalition.
Sunday's shooting took place in Zabol, a province where U.S. forces are based, according to a local official, who said the four soldiers killed were American.
The attack came a day after two British soldiers were shot dead by an Afghan policeman while returning from a patrol in southern Helmand province, one of the strongholds of the Taliban-led insurgency.
At least 51 foreign military personnel have been killed in "insider" attacks this year, deaths which have put a heavy strain on trust between the coalition and Afghanistan as they move towards handing security responsibility to Afghan forces by the end of 2014.
The rise in such attacks has led to the training of new recruits to the Afghan army and police being suspended.
With foreign combat troops withdrawing from the increasingly unpopular and expensive war, the enormous cultural divide still separating Afghans and their allies after 11 years of conflict has become more of a concern than ever.
The NATO-led coalition and its Afghan counterparts have created a special Joint Casualties Assessment Team to investigate every attack.
But in more than half of cases, attackers are either killed or escape and the motive never emerges, making it more difficult for the coalition to stem the surge.
Adding to the toll of coalition deaths caused by insider attacks over the weekend, two were killed and nine wounded in Friday's attack on Camp Bastion, one of the worst attacks on a NATO-operated base all year.
Six Harrier jets were destroyed and two were significantly damaged in the raid on the camp airfield, carried out by 15 insurgents wearing U.S. Army uniforms, the NATO-led coalition said in a separate statement on Sunday.
Operating in three teams, they succeeded in breaching the perimeter of the heavily fortified base. Britain's Prince Harry was at Camp Bastion at the time of Friday's attack, but was unharmed.
Three refueling stations were also destroyed and six aircraft hangars were damaged. All but one of the attackers were killed, with the remaining fighter taken into custody by coalition forces.
In a separate incident on Sunday, NATO-led forces arrested a Taliban fighter responsible for killing two U.S. troops when they were downed in their Kiowa helicopter in eastern Afghanistan, the coalition said in another statement.
Relations between the NATO-led coalition and its Afghan partners have also been strained by civilian casualties.
Despite efforts to limit such deaths, over 200 civilians have been killed by foreign troops this year so far, according to figures provided by the coalition, around 50 percent fewer than a year ago.
NATO-led air strikes in southern Laghman on Saturday night province killed eight women, according to a local official. The coalition acknowledged up to eight civilians could have died as a result of the bombing, but said a "large number" of insurgents had been killed in the strike.
Villagers said the death toll was higher and expressed outrage at being unable to pick up the bodies because the area had been closed off.
(Reporting by Jessica Donati in Kabul; Ismail Sameem in Kandahar and Rafiq Sherzad in Laghaman; Writing by Jessica Donati; Editing by Nick Macfie)
Most U.S. government workers, families evacuated from Tunisia, Sudan
By Michael Birnbaum and Karen DeYoung Sunday, September 16, 5:10 AM
CAIRO — The Obama administration ordered the evacuation of all but emergency U.S. government personnel, and all family members, from diplomatic missions in Tunisia and Sudan on Saturday and warned Americans not to travel to those countries.
The action came as leaders across the Muslim world took stock of their relationship with the United States, a major provider of aid and investment, and struggled to balance it with the will of their populations. In Sudan, the State Department order came after the government in Khartoum rejected a U.S. request to send a Marine anti-terrorism unit to protect the embassy there, which came under attack by protesters Friday.
In Yemen, al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula issued a statement urging more killings of U.S. diplomats, and the Yemeni parliament demanded that all foreign troops in the country be sent home, including roughly 50 U.S. Marines deployed to protect the embassy there. The U.S. military and CIA have been in Yemen for some time, in cooperation with the Yemeni government, as part of counterterrorism operations.
The decision to evacuate was the latest consequence of a week of anti-American rage across more than 20 countries in the Muslim world. The violence was kicked off by a controversial video mocking the prophet Muhammad and has left close to a dozen dead, including four Americans killed in a consulate attack in Libya. A tense calm held across the Middle East on Sunday, but the fears of continued violence lingered. Israel’s national airline, El Al, announced Sunday that it would stop flying to Cairo, citing high security and operating costs for largely empty flights, the Associated Press reported.
U.S. officials said they ordered the evacuation of the diplomatic missions in Tunisia and Sudan out of caution rather than knowledge of any specific threats. The United States does not currently have an ambassador assigned to Sudan but maintains a diplomatic presence there.
The order leaves a significantly reduced diplomatic presence in Tunisia, the country that sparked the Arab Spring last year, where additional security was also deployed to the embassy last week. A travel warning issued for Tunisia noted that the international airport was open in Tunis, the capital, “and U.S. citizens are encouraged to depart by commercial air.”
Saturday’s pullback follows the evacuation of 50 U.S. diplomatic personnel from Libya, where Ambassador J. Christopher Stevens and three other State Department employees were killed Tuesday in an assault on the consulate in Benghazi.
As the administration continued to reach out aggressively to its allies and partners in the region and beyond, Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton spoke by telephone Saturday with the leaders or foreign ministers of Britain, Libya, Egypt, France, Saudi Arabia, Turkey and Somalia, the State Department said.
In Egypt, after days of pressure from the United States, President Mohamed Morsi took decisive action Saturday against lingering protests near the U.S. Embassy, with police making arrests and clearing Tahrir Square of demonstrations whose cause Morsi had only days earlier endorsed. But he had to contend with continued pressure from ultraconservative Muslims and disaffected young people who had fought for days near the embassy.
Morsi had been in the middle of negotiating more than $1 billion in aid, debt forgiveness and U.S. investments when protesters, prodded by rage over the obscure anti-Islam video that was made in the United States, stormed the embassy walls and pulled down and destroyed the American flag. The assistance talks have been subsumed by the days of protests near the embassy – some of which were called for by Morsi’s own Muslim Brotherhood party.
But it is the once-repressed, ultraconservative Salafists who have proved the most complicated for Morsi to handle as he navigates his nation of 83 million people through a democratic transition that has freed citizens to be as religiously conservative and anti-American as they wish. The Salafist Nour party was one of the main sparks of the Tuesday protests in Cairo that presaged the regional conflagration, although Nour backed off when the situation turned violent and endorsed Saturday’s sweep of Tahrir.
The Salafists’ first taste of political power is toning down their rhetoric, some experts say. Salafists helped form a human chain in Tahrir Square on Friday to keep the most violent protesters away from security forces.
Divisions in Egypt
But for Morsi, attending to religious conservatives in the country will be a major consideration as his term unfolds.
“Now Salafists are calling him out and saying that he isn’t the most fervent defender of the faith,” said Shadi Hamid, an Egypt expert at the Brookings Doha Center. “That puts him in a bind.”
Salafists who were long repressed under President Hosni Mubarak are now able to follow their strict faith openly. And after the revolution, many Salafists turned to politics after years of assiduously avoiding it. They were the second-largest bloc after the Muslim Brotherhood’s Freedom and Justice Party in the now-dissolved parliament.
Though Salafists are a diffuse coalition, Morsi and his associates view them as major contenders.
“It’s a bigger group than the Muslim Brotherhood. It’s much bigger,” said a Freedom and Justice Party official who spoke on the condition of anonymity to candidly discuss party strategy. “If we have access to 5 million members, they probably have access to 30 million people. The difference is huge.”
Their influence is large enough that Morsi held back from condemning the assault on the U.S. Embassy in Cairo for days last week, until after a stern phone call from President Obama.
On Saturday, security forces finally cleared Tahrir Square of protesters, using tear gas and water cannons. The government made 220 protest-related arrests Saturday, according to news reports.
But in a measure of the Salafists’ sway, government forces left undisturbed an encampment of supporters of Omar Abdel-Rahman, the blind sheik who is serving a life sentence in a U.S. prison for involvement in the 1993 World Trade Center bombing. Those protesters have been dug in near the U.S. Embassy for more than a year.
Changes on the street
On Aziz B’illah Street in northeast Cairo, where Salafist book shops spill onto sidewalks and mannequins wearing jeweled black veils are propped in storefronts, many revel in the freedoms they have won since the revolution but warn that Morsi cannot take their support for granted.
“What happened in Egypt was the minimum response to the movie,” said Abdelrahman Said Kamel, 30, who was selling brightly colored women’s clothing at a street kiosk Saturday and said he had protested at the U.S. Embassy several times this week. “I can’t understand how America is trying to help us economically but insulting our prophet.”
At Walid Eglan’s bookstore, he and a colleague were trying to understand why the American government did not act more forcefully against the makers of the video.
“What happened in Libya gave people more courage to demonstrate at the embassy here” later in the week, Eglan, 38, said, though he added that he disapproved of the violence. “You have to be respectful of the world.”
From his perch on the street, Eglan had watched Mubarak’s state security agents demonstrate their disrespect for his world. For years, watchful security agents waited at street corners to demand identification from bearded men and harass worshipers at the major Salafist mosque that opens onto the middle of the block.
One morning six years ago, he said, truckloads of state security men descended on the street and confiscated the gold-embossed religious texts he sold out of a stand. His first son was just a week old, and Eglan was left to rebuild his life as his wife had another son and then a third.
After state security melted away one day during the revolution last year, life on the street started to revive.
Now, he said, Salafists are on the upswing, with enough power to control the country’s future, even with Morsi, a member of the more-moderate Muslim Brotherhood, trying to project a Western-friendly face to attract help for Egypt’s moribund economy.
In the end, Eglan said, Egyptians know where their president’s sympathies will be oriented. “Morsi?” Eglan said. “He’s a Salafi.”
As for the United States, he said, “America helps Israel. And they helped Mubarak, not the Egyptian people. America helped Mubarak keep Egyptians unemployed, keep them uneducated, keep them uncivilized.”
DeYoung reported from Washington. Haitham Tabei in Cairo, Babak Dehghanpisheh in Beirut and Mohammed Al-Qadhi in Sanaa, Yemen, contributed to this report.