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 veryhotthread  Author  Topic: Stuff & Nonsense  (Read 79161 times)
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« Reply #7500 on: Oct 21st, 2012, 10:06am »

Reuters

Violence erupts in Beirut after slain official's funeral

By Mariam Karouny and Angus MacSwan
Sun Oct 21, 2012 11:00am EDT

BEIRUT (Reuters) - Violence erupted in downtown Beirut on Sunday as protesters tried to storm the offices of Prime Minister Najib Mikati after the funeral of an assassinated intelligence chief whose death they blame on Syria.

Security forces shot into the air and police fired tear gas to repulse the hundreds of protesters who overturned barriers and threw stones and steel rods, witnesses said.

The clashes fed into a growing political crisis in Lebanon linked to the civil war in neighboring Syria.

An angry crowd had marched on the prime minister's office after politicians at the funeral of Brigadier General Wissam al-Hassan, who was killed by a car bomb on Friday, called on Mikati to resign over the killing.

The opposition and its supporters believe Mikati is too close to Syrian President Bashar al-Assad and his Lebanese ally Hezbollah, which is part of Mikati's government.

Many of the protesters waved flags from the anti-Syrian opposition Future Movement - a mainly Sunni Muslim party - and Christian Lebanese Forces as well as black Islamist flags.

They scattered after the security forces' action and there were no immediate reports of any casualties other than two people fainting.

Opposition leader Saad al-Hariri urged supporters to refrain from any more violence.

"We want peace, the government should fall but we want that in a peaceful way. I call on all those who are in the streets to pull back," Hariri told supporters after the attack, speaking on Future Television channel.

A HERO'S FUNERAL

Hassan, 47, was a Sunni Muslim and senior intelligence official who had helped uncover a bomb plot that led to the arrest and indictment in August of a pro-Damascus former Lebanese minister.

He also led an investigation that implicated Syria and the Shi'ite Hezbollah in the assassination of Lebanon's former prime minister Rafik al-Hariri in 2005.

Thousands of people had filled central Martyrs' Square for his funeral ceremony, accusing Syria of involvement in the killing and calling for Mikati to quit.

One banner read "Go, go Najib" echoing the slogans of the Arab Spring.

The violence broke out after Fouad al-Siniora, a former prime minister, said in a speech that the opposition rejected any dialogue to overcome the political crisis caused by the assassination unless the government first resigned.

"No talks before the government leaves, no dialogue over the blood of our martyrs," Siniora said to roars of approval from the crowd.

At the start of the funeral, senior politicians and the military and security top brass turned out at the Internal Security Force headquarters for a ceremony held with full military honors and broadcast live on national television.

Hassan's wife and two sons, the youngest weeping, listened as he was eulogized by the head of police, Ashraf Rifi, and President Michel Suleiman.

Suleiman said the government and people must work "shoulder to shoulder" to overcome the challenges posed by the killing.

"I tell the judiciary do not hesitate, the people are with you, and I tell the security be firm, the people are with you, with you. And I tell the politicians and the government do not provide cover to the perpetrator."

In keeping with custom for state funerals, church bells pealed as police officers carried the flag-draped coffins of Hassan and his bodyguard to the mosque on Martyr's Square through chanting crowds. Moslem prayers were broadcast by loudspeaker from the mosque.

In the build-up the funeral, people at the square had said they saw Syria's hand in the bombing.

"We blame Bashar al-Assad, the president of Syria," said Assmaa Diab, 14, from the northern Lebanese city of Tripoli, Hassan's home town. She was in the square with her sister and father.

"He is responsible for everything - in the past, now, and if we don't stand up to him, the future," she said.

The prime minister was also a focus of their anger.

"We are here to tell Mikati we don't need him any more and to tell Hezbollah we don't want any more of their games," said Hamza Akhrass, a 22-year-old student who from south Lebanon.

"Mikati takes too much pressure for Syria."

One banner read: "People want the overthrow of Najib".

Mikati said on Saturday he had offered to resign to make way for a government of national unity but he had accepted a request by President Michel Suleiman to stay in office to allow time for talks on a way out of the political crisis.

Sunday's events highlighted how the 19-month-old uprising against Assad in Syria has exacerbated deep-seated sectarian tensions in Lebanon, which is still scarred from its 1975-90 civil war.

Sunni-led rebels are fighting to overthrow Assad, who is from the Alawite minority, which has its roots in Shi'ite Islam. Lebanon's religious communities are divided between those that support Assad and those that back the rebels.

Mikati sought in vain to insulate the country from turmoil in its larger neighbor, which has long played a role in Lebanese politics. He himself said he suspected Hassan's assassination was linked to his role in uncovering Syrian involvement in the August bomb plot.


(Additional reporting by Dominic Evans Leila Bassam and Samia Nakhoul,; Editing by Giles Elgood)

http://www.reuters.com/article/2012/10/21/us-lebanon-hassan-idUSBRE89J0GV20121021

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« Reply #7501 on: Oct 21st, 2012, 10:09am »

Defense News

Canada’s $3B SAR Contest Wide Open

Oct. 20, 2012 - 12:47PM
By DAVID PUGLIESE

VICTORIA, British Columbia — A multibillion-dollar project to buy new search-and-rescue aircraft for the Canadian military — once seen as a likely win for Alenia Aermacchi’s C-27J Spartan — has turned into a full-fledged competition, attracting aircraft manufacturers from around the world.

The Canadian Forces has reversed its previous decision to operate only one type of aircraft for the new search-and-rescue fleet, opening up the 3 billion Canadian dollar ($3.06 billion) competition to new aircraft built in Canada, but also potentially to planes ranging from Lockheed Martin’s C-130J to Embraer’s KC-390.

Officials from Canada’s Viking Air, as well as Embraer, Lockheed, Boeing, Alenia Aermacchi and Airbus Military, attended an Oct. 17 meeting in Gatineau, Quebec, to hear an update from the government on the Fixed-Wing Search and Rescue (FWSAR) aircraft project.

Kim Tulipan, a spokeswoman for the procurement branch of the Department of National Defence, said that after an independent review of the project, “the requirement was changed from one being based on the platform to one that is based on capability. As a result, industry will be required to propose the type of aircraft or fleet mix and in what quantity of aircraft, and where they will be based.”

That change signals that the Royal Canadian Air Force has backed away from its insistence on purchasing only one fleet of aircraft, opening the door to a mixed fleet, aerospace industry officials said.

The change would allow for a smaller aircraft to be purchased for operations in the mountainous western coast of the country, as well as in the Great Lakes region, they said. A larger aircraft also could be bought to cover the eastern coast and other regions.

Rob Mauracher, Viking Air’s vice president of business development, said the change allows companies to join forces and offer a package of aircraft to Canada.

“Viking is having discussions with other aerospace companies and believes in a two-fleet solution,” he said.

Viking Air has proposed providing newly built DHC-5 Buffalo twin-engine planes, with the work being done in manufacturing facilities here and in Calgary, Alberta. The Buffalo is used by the Canadian Forces for fixed-wing search-and-rescue missions on the West Coast.

Mauracher noted that possible new bidders have come forward, adding that Embraer’s KC-390, a twin-engine jet-powered military transport plane under development, could go head-to-head with Lockheed’s C-130J, a four-engine turboprop.

Allowing for a two-fleet solution and potentially more competition also could spell trouble for Alenia Aermacchi’s C-27J, a twin-engine cargo plane that has been seen as the aircraft favored in the past by Canada, said Steve Staples, president of the Rideau Institute, an Ottawa-based think tank. Alenia Aermacchi is a subsidiary of Italy’s Finmeccanica industrial group.

In April 2004, Airbus Military officials complained publicly that the Canadian Air Force was pushing for a sole-source purchase of the C-27J. Alan Williams, the Defence Department’s former assistant deputy minister for materiel, later testified before a parliamentary committee that the Air Force had designed the requirements for the search-and-rescue aircraft program to favor the C-27J.

In December 2008, Defence Minister Peter MacKay tried to fast-track the project, but that quickly derailed amid similar allegations of favoritism made in the House of Commons and in industry.

Viking Air also launched an extensive lobbying campaign, writing to members of Parliament to question why the Defence Department wanted to select an aircraft that was going to be built at the time in the U.S., when a Canadian-built plane — its new-generation Buffalo — was potentially available.

The Air Force has denied that it favors the C-27J.

Embraer, the Brazilian aerospace giant, did not respond to a request for comment.

Lockheed declined comment, but an official noted that if it decided to bid, it would offer the C-130J, which the Canadian Air Force already operates.

Boeing officials said they are looking at bidding on the project with the V-22 Osprey. The Chicago-based company builds the tilt-rotor aircraft in partnership with Bell Helicopter, Fort Worth, Texas.

Alenia Aermacchi still intends to offer the C-27J, and in May, Alenia Aermacchi, Alenia Aermacchi North America, General Dynamics Canada, Provincial Aerospace and DRS Canada announced they would join forces for the FWSAR project. In September, the companies announced they would develop a Canadian-designed mission system for their aircraft proposal.

Airbus Military will bid the C-295, another twin-engine cargo plane. On Oct. 10, Airbus Military and Discovery Air of Yellowknife, Northwest Territories, signed a memorandum of understanding. Discovery Air will become Airbus Military’s primary Canadian partner on the FWSAR project, handling in-service support if the companies win the competition.

The new FWSAR aircraft would replace the six Buffalo and 13 C-130 Hercules planes used in that role, Tulipan said. At one point, the Defence Department envisioned purchasing 17 aircraft, but it has not detailed how many planes it wants to acquire. That will be up to the companies.

“The government is currently developing the request for proposal documentation and is consulting with industry throughout the development process,” Tulipan said.

Mauracher said companies are expecting a request for proposals in March, with bids to be in late in 2013 or early 2014.

http://www.defensenews.com/article/20121020/DEFREG02/310200001/Canada-8217-s-3B-SAR-Contest-Wide-Open?odyssey=tab

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« Reply #7502 on: Oct 21st, 2012, 10:14am »







Published on Oct 19, 2012 by RoMeLaVT

The CHARLI series humanoid robot is developed as a research platform to study bipedal walking and autonomous behaviors for humanoid robots. It is designed to be ultra light weight (under 15 kgs) for safety and low cost. As the next generation of the CHARLI series humanoid robots, CHARLI-2 improves stability and speed in walking, intelligence and autonomy, and soccer playing skills. CHARLI-L2 is also designed to participate in the autonomous robot soccer competition, RoboCup, in the Adult size league.
CHARLI-2 implements an impressive active stabilization strategy based on sensory feedback (filtered IMU angles, gyro rate readings and proprioception information based on joint encoders.) Stabilizing torques at the ankle joints are applied based on this information, and successful ly rejects external disturbances. CHARLI-2 is honored "2011 Best Invention of the Year" by Time magazine, won the Louis Vuitton Best Humanoid Award (a.k.a. Louis Vuitton Cup) at RoboCup 2011, and won First Place in AdultSize league for autonomous soccer at both RoboCup 2011 and RoboCup 2012 among many awards.

And now...
CHARLI does Gangnam Style...

~

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« Reply #7503 on: Oct 21st, 2012, 12:23pm »

FTC throws down robocall gauntlet: $50,000 for best way to stop annoying calls

FTC already has the law on its side but wants new tech ideas to back it up


By Layer 8 on Thu, 10/18/12

It's not clear if the Federal Trade Commission is throwing up its hands at the problem or just wants some new ideas about how to combat it, but the agency is now offering $50,000 to anyone who can create what it calls an innovative way to block illegal commercial robocalls on landlines and mobile phones.

Officially the program is called the FTC Robocall Challenge, and it will be judged by Steve Bellovin, FTC Chief Technologist; Henning Schulzrinne, Federal Communications Commission Chief Technologist; and Kara Swisher of All Things Digital. A complete list of rules and frequently asked questions are available on Challenge.gov.

The FTC Robocall Challenge is free and open to the public. Entries will be accepted beginning on October 25, 2012, at 5:00pm ET, until January 17, 2013, at 5:00 pm ET. The winner or winners will be revealed next April.

The FTC has taken notice of the increase of late -- 2 million public complaints of violations in the past year alone.

The agency, which says it has stopped billions of robocalls in the past couple years, says a variety of technologies are making it easier for telemarketers to skirt or at least try to get around the law. The increased use of automated phone call systems that just blast away calls without first screening the Do Not Call registry is one of the main enabling technologies. The ability to operate such systems via the Internet and hiding or spoofing their location is another problem.

According to the FTC, nearly all telemarketing robocalls have been illegal since September 1, 2009 and the only legal sales robocalls are ones that consumers have stated in writing that they want to receive. Certain other types of robocalls, such as political calls, survey calls, and charitable calls remain legal, and are not covered by the 2009 ban.

To date, the FTC says it has brought 85 enforcement cases targeting illegal robocalls, and violators have paid $41 million in penalties. Since January 2010, the FTC has brought law enforcement actions, shutting down the companies responsible for more than 2.6 billion illegal telemarketing robocalls.

http://www.networkworld.com/community/blog/ftc-throws-down-robocall-gauntlet-50000-best-way-stop-annoying-calls?page=0%2C0
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« Reply #7504 on: Oct 21st, 2012, 6:27pm »

on Oct 21st, 2012, 12:23pm, Swamprat wrote:
FTC throws down robocall gauntlet: $50,000 for best way to stop annoying calls

FTC already has the law on its side but wants new tech ideas to back it up


By Layer 8 on Thu, 10/18/12

It's not clear if the Federal Trade Commission is throwing up its hands at the problem or just wants some new ideas about how to combat it, but the agency is now offering $50,000 to anyone who can create what it calls an innovative way to block illegal commercial robocalls on landlines and mobile phones.

Officially the program is called the FTC Robocall Challenge, and it will be judged by Steve Bellovin, FTC Chief Technologist; Henning Schulzrinne, Federal Communications Commission Chief Technologist; and Kara Swisher of All Things Digital. A complete list of rules and frequently asked questions are available on Challenge.gov.

The FTC Robocall Challenge is free and open to the public. Entries will be accepted beginning on October 25, 2012, at 5:00pm ET, until January 17, 2013, at 5:00 pm ET. The winner or winners will be revealed next April....

http://www.networkworld.com/community/blog/ftc-throws-down-robocall-gauntlet-50000-best-way-stop-annoying-calls?page=0%2C0


HOORAY!!!!!!!!!!!!

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« Reply #7505 on: Oct 22nd, 2012, 09:20am »

Reuters

On Turkey's Syrian frontier, fears of a sectarian spillover

By Jonathon Burch
Mon Oct 22, 2012 9:24am EDT

ANTAKYA, Turkey (Reuters) - An influx of Syrians fleeing President Bashar al-Assad's military onslaught is stoking tension in an area of Turkey known for religious tolerance and setting Turks who share the Syrian leader's creed against their own government.

In the Turkish frontier province of Hatay, home to the Antioch of the Bible and a mix of confessional groups rare in an overwhelmingly Sunni Muslim country, Turks of Arab origin who share Assad's Alawite beliefs are increasingly critical of Ankara's open support for rebels fighting the Syrian leader.

The Syrian refugees, like the insurgents, are overwhelmingly Sunni Muslims, most of whom support the 19-month-old uprising, making for a combustible mix that echoes the increasingly sectarian nature of Syria's civil war.

While most Alawites said the conflict had not yet divided Hatay's indigenous communities, some fear reprisals and spoke of isolated incidents between Sunnis and Alawites. One man said Alawite villages had begun arming themselves.

As rebels - some of them foreign Islamists keen to join what they deem a holy struggle - wage war in Syria, the official Syrian narrative of a "terrorist" campaign threatening the existence of minorities resonates deeply with Turkey's Alawites.

They believe that Turkey, once Assad's most important trade partner and ally, is playing the sectarian card by throwing its weight behind the men who would rule after his overthrow, among them opposition politicians and army defectors based in Turkey.

"Does the Turkish government really think that everyone will like them when this is all over? Only when Assad is gone will the real war start," said Aydin, an Alawite shopkeeper in Hatay's provincial capital Antakya near the Syrian border.

"The government is playing a sectarian game here. They are trying to divide our community. Whether you were Sunni, Alawite or Christian never even mattered here before. To ask would even be a dishonor. But things are changing," he said.

Turkey has led calls for international intervention in Syria, provided sanctuary for rebel officers and warned of more robust military action after firing back into Syria in recent weeks in response to mortar shelling spilling over the border.

But there are now signs of Ankara acting to prevent a sectarian backlash, including a report that it is urging unregistered Syrians to leave Hatay, and efforts to block rebels from crossing into Turkey.

SECTARIAN STRAINS, HISTORICAL TIES

Sectarian tensions in Hatay province, once a part of Syria, have been brewing since Turkish Prime Minister Tayyip Erdogan broke with Assad last year. But as fighting over the border has intensified and the outflow of refugees increased, the atmosphere has turned more volatile.

More than 100,000 Syrian refugees from the heavy fighting in the north of their country are now sheltering in refugee camps along the border. Tens of thousands more are unregistered people living in Antakya and other frontier towns and villages.

Historically an easy crossing point for smugglers even before the uprising due to its hilly terrain, Hatay has borne the brunt of the Syrian exodus to Turkey and served as a staging post for rebels crossing back and forth into Syria.

Some of the most senior officers to defect from Syria's army now live in a camp in Hatay under Turkish military guard.

"There are so many strangers here now we don't know who any of them are. They walk around with their long beards. Some of them aren't even Syrian. You take one look at them and you know they are murderers," said Aydin.

"Are these the people you want to rule Syria?"

The resentment goes both ways. At a hospital in Antakya one Syrian anti-Assad activist, who coordinates treatment for wounded refugees and rebels in Hatay, stopped a Turkish nurse from treating one of the men he had brought in.

"I don't want her to treat him, she's an Alawite. They are all spies," he said.

Nearly half of Hatay's 1.5 million people are Alawite, a sect whose followers hail from mountains by the Mediterranean Sea just south of the border with Turkey.

Hatay, home to Turks for centuries, became a Turkish province after a disputed referendum in 1939, when Syria was a U.N.-mandated French domain and the Turkish republic barely 16 years old. The Arabs on the northern side of the border were mainly Alawites, but Hatay also hosts Orthodox, Catholic, Protestant Christian and even nominal Jewish minorities.

FEARS OF BACKLASH

Communal friction in Hatay reached a new high last month when hundreds of people, mostly Alawites, took to the streets in Antakya to protest against Turkey's policy on Syria. The demonstration, which followed smaller ones this year, finished with police firing tear gas to scatter the protesters.

Ankara has repeatedly said its stance on Syria aims to protect the Syrian people as a whole and strongly denies pursuing any sectarian agenda. But there are signs the government is getting worried about a potential backlash.

Crude cartoons that used to run throughout the day on Turkey's state-run TRT television channel, depicting a swinging ball and chain labeled democracy toppling a teetering and derogatory statue of Assad, have been lifted.

In August, the Turkish foreign ministry issued a letter to governors in border regions instructing them to "urge" unregistered Syrians to move out of rented property and into refugee camps outside Hatay, according to an official at a foreign embassy in Ankara who had seen the document.

A foreign ministry official said the ministry was in constant contact with the relevant authorities but could not confirm if such a letter had been sent.

There are indications too of Turkey trying to distance itself from overt involvement in Syria's armed rebellion.

A two-day meeting between Syrian rebel commanders due in Antakya last month was cancelled, rebels said, after objections from Turkish officials, who urged them to find another country.

The most prominent of the rebel factions, the Free Syrian Army, last month announced it had moved its leadership from Turkey to "liberated" areas in Syria, a move one Western diplomat said was a decision "obviously" motivated by Turkey.

Officials in Ankara have denied any change in policy.

But refugees in two border areas said Turkish soldiers were starting to block fighters from crossing over into Turkey. "They tell them, 'Don't bring your problems here, keep them over there'," said Mustafa, a refugee in Hatay's Yayladagi district, who used to frequently cross the porous frontier.

TRADE DRIES UP

A significant drop in trade since the conflict began is also a concern. Some businessmen say they are doing a fifth of their normal trade. Others have gone bankrupt as day-tripping middle-class Syrians hunting bargains on branded clothes have all but disappeared and Turkish trucks no longer carry goods into Syria.

While some Alawites acknowledge Assad will have to go, their fears center on who will replace him and how this will affect their region, inextricably bound to its southern neighbor.

"Who in this room has at least one relative in Syria?" Ibrahim, an Alawite butcher in Antakya, asked a group of men seated around him. The men - Alawites, a Sunni and a Christian among them - all raised their hands.

"You see, we are all connected to Syria in one way ... What Turkey is doing there is affecting us all. If Turkey stopped its support, this war would stop," Ibrahim said.


(Writing by Jonathon Burch; editing by Nick Tattersall and Mark Heinrich)

http://www.reuters.com/article/2012/10/22/us-syria-crisis-turkey-alawites-idUSBRE89L0MM20121022

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« Reply #7506 on: Oct 22nd, 2012, 09:26am »

Telegraph

Yorkshire housewife 'raised by monkeys in jungle'

The story of a Yorkshire housewife who spent five years in her childhood living with a colony of capuchin monkeys in Colombia is to be told for the first time in a book and planned television documentary.

10:33AM BST 21 Oct 2012

Marina Chapman learnt to catch birds and rabbits with her bare hands after being abandoned in the jungle by kidnappers, it was reported.

The Tarzan-like episode was brought to an end when she was discovered by hunters but by her ordeal continued when she was sold to a brothel in the city of Cucuta, and groomed for prostitution.

She escaped and spent years on the streets, sometimes being arrested and kept in a cell, but was eventually taken in by a Colombian family to work as a maid in her mid-teens, and took the name of Marina Luz, according to the account given to a newspaper.

Later during her mid-twenties she travelled with a neighbouring family who went to stay in Bradford on business for six months - and stayed after she met John Chapman, then a 29-year-old bacteriologist, at a church meeting. They married in 1977.

She and her family have now decided to tell her story to help highlight the horrors of human trafficking in South America.

Chapman believes she was born in about 1950 and that she was kidnapped when she was five before being abandoned in the jungle.

"It's assumed that the kidnap went wrong," said Vanessa James, one of Chapman's two daughters. The film and TV composer has helped her mother with her book, The Girl with No Name.

She told the Sunday Times: "All she can remember is being chloroformed with a hand over her mouth. And all she can recall of her life before that is having a black doll as a toddler.

"She obviously learnt to fend for herself and only once got very ill when she ate some poisonous berries.
"I got bedtime stories about the jungle, as did my sister. We didn't think it odd - it was just Mum telling her life. So in a way it was nothing special having a mother like that."

Experts say monkeys have been known to accept young humans into their fold and there has been a previous case in which a four-year-old Ugandan boy was left in the jungle for more than a year to live with vervet monekeys before being rescued and adapting well to life with people.

Mrs Chapman, who trained as a cook, worked at the National Media Museum in Bradford, before switching careers to help troubled young children.

The book about her life has already been sold in seven countries and is being published in Britain next April, while a television documentary is also being planned.

http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/newstopics/howaboutthat/9623611/Yorkshire-housewife-raised-by-monkeys-in-jungle.html

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« Reply #7507 on: Oct 22nd, 2012, 09:31am »

Wired

Keeping Bambi Out of Your Bumper With Strobes and Sound

By Alexander George
10.22.126:20 AM

Anyone who’s nailed a deer – or worse, a moose – knows that cute quadrupeds can crush fenders and shatter windshields. Even worse, vehicle-on-animal collisions account for hundreds of deaths and $1 billion in damages each year. But a new system has proven to effectively and cheaply prevent animal-related accidents by triggering the creatures’ survival instincts.

Austrian technology maker IPTE Schalk just revealed its latest version of DeerDeter, a system they’ve been testing in Europe and the United States.

Here’s how it works: A driver approaches a dim stretch of road flanked by dense foliage. The car’s headlights hit the first in a line of light-sensitive pods attached to roadside stakes. The first pod sounds an alarm that mimics the cry of a wounded animal, and flashes a strobe that simulates the reflected glare of a predator. The noise and light activate at each stake down the road ahead of the vehicle.

The combination of light and noise distracts the animal long enough for a driver to pass. After the car is gone, the animal is free to continue its journey across the road.

Besides keeping animals off roads, the system can shift functionality according to weather and traffic data. Since the system only turns on when traffic is present, the animals are free to cross when there’s no traffic, which means the system won’t futz with migratory patterns.

For the last five years, about 10,000 units have been tested in the United States and Europe. And according to test data, the system decreased animal-vehicle collisions by 70 percent, and even up to 100 percent in some areas.

The weatherproof pods draw power from a solar cell unit, and each pod has a communications systems that will send word of any malfunctions to a central hub. JAFA says the system will, as any good form of infrastructure should, function for years without maintenance.

http://www.wired.com/autopia/2012/10/roadkill-strobes/

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« Reply #7508 on: Oct 22nd, 2012, 09:40am »

Guardian

Ghosts and gory tales on five walks for Halloween and half-term

Celebrate Halloween this half-term on a family walk celebrating ancient, gory myths and spooky legends at these historic National Trust sites – sure to keep even reluctant walkers from falling behind the group.

Monday 22 October 2012 07.54 EDT

Anne Boleyn was the second wife of King Henry VIII, beheaded in 1536 for not providing him with a son. Unlike most ghosts who haunt a particular locality, Queen Anne Boleyn's ghost is thought to haunt a number of different locations throughout the UK. One of these is in the grounds of Blickling Hall – her possible birthplace. She is often seen dressed all in white, seated in a ghostly carriage drawn by headless horses and pulled by a headless coachman. Anne is also headless, holding her head securely in her lap – so look out for her on this walk!

On arrival at Blickling Hall, the coach and driver vanish leaving the headless Anne to glide into Blickling Hall where she roams the corridors and rooms until day break. There will also be an after-dark tour of the hall on Saturday 27 October from 6pm, and on Halloween night itself a spooky "Tiptoe to the Tomb" walk through the woods to the mausoleum (7pm, £5pp) .

(http://www.nationaltrust.org.uk/things-to-see-and-do/view-page/item535145/286562/)

Gelert's grave walk, Beddgelert, Snowdonia, Wales

According to legend, the stone monument in the fields here marks the resting place of "Gelert" the faithful hound of the Welsh Prince, Llywelyn the Great (Beddgelert means "Gelert's grave"). The story, as written on the tombstone reads: "In the 13th century Llywelyn, prince of North Wales, had a palace at Beddgelert. One day he went hunting without Gelert, 'The Faithful Hound', who was unaccountably absent. On Llywelyn's return the truant, stained and smeared with blood, joyfully sprang to meet his master. The prince alarmed hastened to find his son, and saw the infant's cot empty, the bedclothes and floor covered with blood. The frantic father plunged his sword into the hound's side, thinking it had killed his heir. The dog's dying yell was answered by a child's cry. Llywelyn searched and discovered his boy unharmed, but nearby laid the body of a mighty wolf which Gelert had slain."
The prince, filled with remorse, is said never to have smiled again.

(http://www.nationaltrust.org.uk/visit/activities/walking/view-page/item461881/)



more after the jump:
http://www.guardian.co.uk/travel/2012/oct/22/family-walks-halloween-half-term

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xx Re: Stuff & Nonsense
« Reply #7509 on: Oct 22nd, 2012, 4:01pm »

on Oct 18th, 2012, 07:55am, Swamprat wrote:
Crystal, you were up early this morning!! wink

Congratulations on 500 pages of Stuff & Nonsense! cheesy

Congratulations, Crystal! Wow, 500 pages!! smiley
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« Reply #7510 on: Oct 23rd, 2012, 09:51am »

on Oct 22nd, 2012, 4:01pm, philliman wrote:
Congratulations, Crystal! Wow, 500 pages!! smiley


Good morning Phil,

Thank you cheesy

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« Reply #7511 on: Oct 23rd, 2012, 09:54am »

Reuters

Egypt ruling allows time for constitution

By Tamim Elyan
Tue Oct 23, 2012 10:30am EDT

CAIRO (Reuters) - Complaints filed by critics of the assembly writing Egypt's new constitution were referred to a higher court on Tuesday, a move likely to give the body heavily influenced by Islamists enough time to complete its work before the judges can rule

The step appeared to remove legal doubts overshadowing a process that will shape the post-Hosni Mubarak era. But the assembly still faces a struggle to build consensus around a text that is exposing fault lines in Egypt's new political landscape.

"The case is finished. The challenge will now be a political one, not a legal one. If you don't have a consensus you will have a big crisis," said Hassan Nafaa, a professor of political science at the University of Cairo.

The new constitution is a major component of a transition from military-backed autocracy to a democratic system of government that Egyptians hoped would follow the popular uprising that swept Mubarak from power last year.

Yet its drafting has been marred by political bickering, including a tussle between Islamists and secular-minded Egyptians over the role Islam should play in the government of the Arab world's most populous country.

The judge hearing 43 complaints against the way the assembly was formed sent the case to the Supreme Constitutional Court. The plaintiffs, many of them motivated by alarm at the Islamists' sway, had argued that the 100-person assembly had been formed illegally.

Legal experts said it could take months - up to six by some estimates - for the constitutional court to examine the case.

Barring an exceptional burst of activity by the judges, that means the assembly will have time to finish the constitution by a December deadline. The text will then put to a referendum.

"The (court) decision gives the assembly the chance to finish what it started by completing the draft and putting it to a referendum," said Abdel Moneim Abdel Maqsoud, a Muslim Brotherhood lawyer, speaking at the end of a chaotic court session punctuated by chants for and against the assembly.

"Once the constitution is approved in the referendum ... the Supreme Constitutional Court has no authority over it."

"CRUNCH TIME"

The constitution has been the focus of political and legal struggle since the start of the year. The Muslim Brotherhood and the Nour Party - both Islamist groups - secured an influential say over the process by winning a majority in the first parliamentary election held after Mubarak's removal from power.

But the assembly formed shortly afterwards was dissolved by a court ruling in March after plaintiffs fought a successful legal battle over its make-up. Subsequently, parliament itself was dissolved. New legislative elections are scheduled to take place after the constitution is passed.

According to an October 14 draft, the new constitution will guard against the one-man rule of the Mubarak era and institutionalize a degree of civilian oversight - not enough say the critics - over the military establishment that had been at the heart of power since a 1952 coup.

The draft has been criticized for failing to provide enough protection for rights such as the freedom to form trade unions, which it links to unspecified future legislation. Experts say the vagueness of some of the articles smacks more of the autocratic past than a democratic future.

"It's crunch time," said Zaid Al-Ali, a constitutional lawyer who has been monitoring the process.

"They have two months to rebuild trust between each other, iron out the inconsistencies and gaps in the draft text, and convince the country that the coming constitution is the best available solution for the country," he told Reuters.

Ahmed Said, head of the liberal Free Egyptians' Party, said President Mohamed Mursi must now intervene to appoint a more balanced assembly, indicating that street protests were the only path left for people seeking to change the assembly.

"The issue went out of the arena of the courts and has become one of the people," he told Reuters.


(Writing and additional reporting by Tom Perry; Editing by Alison Williams)

http://www.reuters.com/article/2012/10/23/us-egypt-constitution-idUSBRE89M0V220121023

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« Reply #7512 on: Oct 23rd, 2012, 10:01am »

Science Daily

Complete Mitochondrial Genome Sequences of Ancient New Zealanders
ScienceDaily (Oct. 22, 2012)

— In a landmark study, University of Otago researchers have achieved the feat of sequencing complete mitochondrial genomes for members of what was likely to be one of the first groups of Polynesians to settle New Zealand and have revealed a surprising degree of genetic variation among these pioneering voyagers.

The Otago researchers' breakthrough means that similar DNA detective work with samples from various modern and ancient Polynesian populations might now be able to clear up competing theories about the pathways of their great migration across the Pacific to New Zealand.

Results from the team's successful mapping of complete mitochondrial genomes of four of the Rangitane iwi tupuna (ancestors) who were buried at a large village on Marlborough's Wairau Bar more than 700 years ago will be published online in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences (PNAS).

Study director Professor Lisa Matisoo-Smith explains that mitochondrial DNA (mtDNA) is only inherited through the mother's side and can be used to trace maternal lineages and provide insights into ancient origins and migration routes.

"We found that three of the four individuals had no recent maternal ancestor in common, indicating that these pioneers were not simply from one tight-knit kin group, but instead included families that were not directly maternally related. This gives a fascinating new glimpse into the social structure of the first New Zealanders and others taking part in the final phases of the great Polynesian migration across the Pacific."

The researchers discovered that the four genomes shared two unique genetic markers found in modern Maori while also featuring several previously unidentified Polynesian genetic markers. Intriguingly, they also discovered that at least one of the settlers carried a genetic mutation associated with insulin resistance, which leads to Type 2 diabetes.

"Overall, our results indicate that there is likely to be significant mtDNA variation among New Zealand's first settlers. However, a lack of genetic diversity has previously been characterised in modern-day Maori and this was thought to reflect uniformity in the founding population.

"It may be rather that later decimation caused by European diseases was an important factor, or perhaps there is actually still much more genetic variation today that remains to be discovered. Possibly, it may have been missed due to most previous work only focusing on a small portion of the mitochondrial genome rather than complete analyses like ours."

Professor Matisoo-Smith and colleagues including ancient DNA analysis expert Dr Michael Knapp used Otago's state-of-the-art ancient DNA research facilities to apply similar techniques that other scientists recently employed to sequence the Neanderthal genome.

"We are very excited to be the first researchers to successfully sequence complete mitochondrial genomes from ancient Polynesian samples. Until the advent of next generation sequencing techniques, the highly degraded state of DNA in human remains of this age has not allowed such genomes to be sequenced," she says.

Now that the researchers have identified several unique genetic markers in New Zealand's founding population, work can begin to obtain and sequence other ancient and modern DNA samples from Pacific islands and search for these same markers.

"If such research is successful, this may help identify the specific island homelands of the initial canoes that arrived in Aotearoa/New Zealand 700 years ago," she says.

This research is the most recent output from the Wairau Bar Research Group, a collaboration between Otago researchers and Rangitane-ki-Wairau. The Otago research team is led by archaeologist Professor Richard Walter (Department of Anthropology and Archaeology), and biological anthropologists Associate Professor Hallie Buckley and Professor Matisoo-Smith (Department of Anatomy).

Background information

First excavated over 70 years ago, the Wairau Bar site is one of the most important archaeological sites in New Zealand because of its age and the range of material found there.

It is the site of a fourteenth century village occupied by some of the first generations of people who settled New Zealand. The material excavated from the site, most of which is now cared for in the collections at Canterbury Museum, provided the first conclusive evidence that New Zealand was originally settled from East Polynesia.

This discovery was first reported to the NZ public in 1950 by the late Dr Roger Duff, Director of Canterbury Museum, in his ground breaking book The Moahunter Period of Maori Culture. The principal evidence for his conclusions was in the artefacts found; however, the site also contained a large number of human burials.

Between 1938 and 1959 a total of 44 graves were excavated from the site and the grave contents taken to Canterbury Museum for study. For many years Marlborough Iwi, Rangitane, sought to have the remains repatriated so they could be reburied in the site and an agreement was reached with Canterbury Museum.

The reburial took place in April 2009, following earlier archaeological investigations of the site undertaken in collaboration with Rangitane.

A University of Otago-led multidisciplinary team of scientists have been analysing tooth samples recovered from the koiwi tangata (human remains) of the Rangitane iwi tupuna prior to their reburial. This work includes studies of the diet and health of the tupuna.

http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2012/10/121022162552.htm

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« Reply #7513 on: Oct 23rd, 2012, 10:06am »

Washington Post

Chinese glued to U.S. debate, with envy and concern

By Keith B. Richburg,
Updated: Tuesday, October 23, 1:42 AM

BEIJING — Chinese Internet users who watched live streams of Monday’s U.S. presidential debate heard President Obama and Republican challenger Mitt Romney criticizing China with strong language – and many assumed the candidates will dial it down once the election is over.

Most Chinese Internet users, known here as “Netizens,” seemed not particularly concerned about the candidates’ tough talk. Instead, they viewed the debate process with admiration, as a kind of democratic theater. They commented mostly on the candidates’ intelligence, their skills at presenting their arguments, and who made the most jokes.

Many said they wished such a show could one day happen here in authoritarian China. The country’s Communist Party is preparing for its own leadership transition a few days after the U.S. election, but there will be no debates and no public participation – the people will find out who their new rulers are when the lineup is unveiled to them after a secret meeting of Party elites behind closed doors.

“Although mainland China is a one-party state, competitive elections and political shows should still be adopted,” wrote an Internet commenter using the name Guliyeweiqi. “But that’s almost a luxurious dream.”

“It's an election for them, an internal decision for us, how do you compare?” wrote another Internet user called “gw1710.” “I really don't want to stay in this country.”

The Obama-Romney foreign policy debate was largely dominated by the Middle East, the Iranian nuclear issue and America’s role in the world.

But it turned to China in its final minutes, with Obama declaring China “both an adversary but also a potential partner.” Obama outlined how he has set up a special task force to enforce trading rules on China, and said he brought a series of successful trade cases against Beijing, including cases involving American steel exports and dumping of Chinese tires.

Romney repeated some of his strongest anti-China language from the campaign trail, again promising, “On Day One, I will label them a currency manipulator,” and take tough action. Romney accused China of “stealing our intellectual property, our patents, our designs, our technology, hacking into our computers, counterfeiting our goods."

Romney said his actions wouldn’t trigger a trade war because China sends more goods to the United States than vice-versa and would have the most to lose. “It’s pretty clear who doesn’t want a trade war,” he said.

In mostly pro-Obama Europe, a continent whose name was uttered only once in the debate, some commentators saw the lack of focus on their part of the world as a victory. Romney has been using Europe’s economic problems as an attack line against Obama on the campaign trail.

It “is a good sign” for the European Union that it didn’t come up, since “Republicans have been using countries like Greece and Spain as a exhibits of failed states,” wrote the German daily Sueddeutsche Zeitung.

But with many people in Europe surprised at the possibility that Romney might win, many saw the challenger in a new light after the debates even if they called Monday’s for Obama.

“Romney seemed as though he were already Commander-in-Chief,” wrote the Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung, “while Obama, his opponent, violently attacked him, sometimes patronizingly.”

In China, media commentaries seemed unfazed by the tough rhetoric spouted by by the candidates. “Willing or not, Democratic or Republican, the next U.S. president shall have to tone down his get-tough-on-China rhetoric made along the campaign trail, and deal with his country's sclerotic ineptness toward China's inevitable rise,” said a commentary that ran on Xinhua, the state-run news agency, immediately after the debate.

The commentary called trade disputes “speed bumps” thrown in the way of China’s advancement, and said “a contagion of China-phobia syndrome” was spreading across the United States.

“If Washington continues to view China's rise as being more of a threat than an opportunity, it is possible for their differences to spiral out of control at one point, leaving neither side unscathed in a breakdown of their relationship,” the commentary said.

The debate drew a wide online audience here, where it was live-streamed starting at the relatively convenient time of 9 a.m. Most of the mainstream media outlets devoted special reports to the last face-off of this presidential campaign.

Chinese have been intensely following the American election, paying far closer attention than they did in 2008, mostly because of the explosive growth of the Internet here and the Twitter-like microblogging site called “weibo.”

People’s Daily Online, the Web site of the main Communist Party newspaper of the same name, put out an alert at 6:43 a.m. calling the U.S. debate “important upcoming news.” The Web site then ran real-time reports on each debate segment, with commentary by a scholar from the China Institute of International Studies.

The Web site of Phoenix Television put the debate in its most prominent position. Tencent QQ media Web site made it the second most important news event – after a report saying that China’s Communist Party is set to amend the country’s constitution. The site made a special report about the debate with video footage of each segment, complete with simultaneous interpretation in Chinese.

Other major Internet sites also had special reports.

One hour after the debate, the name Obama was the seventh-most searched term on weibo, with “U.S. presidential election” being the 10th-most searched term.

Liu Liu in Beijing and Michael Birnbaum in Berlin contributed to this report.

http://www.washingtonpost.com/world/chinese-glued-to-us-debate-with-envy-and-concern/2012/10/23/746362a6-1ce7-11e2-8817-41b9a7aaabc7_story.html

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« Reply #7514 on: Oct 23rd, 2012, 10:14am »

Wired

Blue Origin Successfully Tests Crew Capsule Escape Rocket

By Jason Paur
10.23.12 6:20 AM



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Blue Origin has hit its second milestone in as many weeks after the successful test of its crew escape system. The test took place on Friday at the company’s west Texas launch site and included a firing of the escape motor on a full-scale sub-orbital crew capsule reaching an altitude of 2,307 feet. This marks a significant milestone for Jeff Bezos’ company as part of NASA’s Commercial Crew Development program.

“The Blue Origin team worked hard and smart to pull off this first test of our suborbital Crew Capsule escape system,” the Amazon founder wrote on the Blue Origin website.

The crew escape system is designed for Blue Origin’s sub-orbital vehicle and uses a pusher motor rather than the traditional tractor system that “pulled” the capsule away from the rockets during the early days of NASA’s manned space program. Both types of escape systems are designed to carry the crew capsule away from the main launch vehicle in the event of an emergency during the early parts of the ascent stage, even before the rocket leaves the launch pad.

The tractor system is also used by the Soyuz rocket and was put into use during the Soyuz T-10-1 mission in 1983. While still on the launch pad, the launch rocket was engulfed in flames when the capsule’s escape rockets were fired just seconds before the Soyuz exploded. A disadvantage of the tractor system is that in the event of a successful launch, the motors and tower on top of the capsule must be jettisoned after critical altitude is reached in order to make it to orbit. The simpler pusher system is also being used by SpaceX on its manned version of the Dragon spacecraft.

“The use of a pusher configuration marks a significant departure from the traditional towed-tractor escape tower concepts of Mercury and Apollo,” Blue Origin’s Rob Meyerson said in a statement from NASA. ”Providing crew escape without the need to jettison the unused escape system gets us closer to our goal of safe and affordable human spaceflight.”

After the capsule made the ascent to 2,307 feet, it was carried back to the ground under a trio of parachutes landing upright 1,630 feet away from the launch pad, marking a successful simulation of a crew escape scenario. The pusher system is also expected to be implemented on Blue Origin’s orbital spacecraft as well.

The announcement of the crew escape launch is the second story out of Blue Origin in the past two weeks, putting the company’s overly-secretive reputation at risk.






http://www.wired.com/autopia/2012/10/blue-origin-escape-rockets/

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