Re: Stuff & Nonsense
« Reply #7651 on: Nov 21st, 2012, 1:10pm »
Widespread flooding as month's worth of rain falls in 48 hours
By Andrew Hough and Louise Gray 6:00PM GMT 21 Nov 2012
The South West was hit by two inches of rain on Tuesday night, the same amount that usually falls in two weeks, causing widespread flooding.
Dozens of people were rescued, including a woman in labour from her flooded home in North Somerset.
Fire crews in the West Country received more than 130 flood-related calls during a seven-hour period, with 20 people either rescued from flooded homes or vehicles.
In Bishop Sutton, Avon, an unidentified woman in labour was rescued from her flooded home before being taken by fire engine to an ambulance and then to the Royal United Hospital, Bath, arriving still in labour.
Dozens of A and B roads were closed, vehicles were abandoned and there were a string of accidents on the M5.
Another couple of inches is set to hit on Thursday in the South West and northern England, bringing more risk of flooding. Galeforce winds up to 70mph are also expected around the coast. Leaves and debris blocking drains could cause more problems.
The Environment Agency issued more than 200 flood alerts on Wednesday.
Further flood alerts have been issued for the South West, East Midlands, North West and Wales on Thursday and Friday. Heavy rain is also expected in the west of Scotland.
This means thousands of households are preparing for the worst with sandbags and moving valuables upstairs.
Pete Fox, the Environment Agency's head of flood risk strategy, said rain falling on saturated ground could cause surface water flooding.
"There is already significant travel disruption due to the wet weather and we would urge people to remain vigilant as further flooding is possible across the South West on Thursday.
"People at flood risk should move their valuable possessions to a safe place before the heavy rain falls later tomorrow.
"We also ask that people stay safe, by staying away from swollen rivers and not attempting to drive through floodwater."
Helen Chivers, of the Met Office, said the worst weather will hit on Thursday afternoon.
"It looks like a miserable afternoon on Thursday for western and northern England with heavy downpours combined with galeforce winds," she said.
Temperatures will remain around 10 to 12C.
On Friday the clouds will momentarily clear, bringing cold, clear weather.
But the unsettled weather will move in again from the South West on Saturday bringing heavy downpours across to the South East by Saturday night.
The Met Office has issued a severe weather warning for the whole of the South West, South and South East over the weekend, with gales expected on the Channel coast.
Heavy rain and wind is expected across most of the country.
On Monday the heaviest rain will be in the north with the rest of the week expected to be a mixture of sunshine and showers.
Re: Stuff & Nonsense
« Reply #7652 on: Nov 21st, 2012, 1:13pm »
NASA moon phases for 2013
Published on Nov 20, 2012 by NASAexplorer
This visualization shows the moon's phase and libration throughout the year 2013, at hourly intervals. Each frame represents one hour. To learn more about this visualization, or to see what the moon will look like at any hour in 2013, visit http://svs.gsfc.nasa.gov/goto?4000!
Re: Stuff & Nonsense
« Reply #7654 on: Nov 23rd, 2012, 07:08am »
Tampa Bay Times
Libya's investigation of Benghazi consulate attack in limbo
Associated Press Friday, November 23, 2012
BENGHAZI, Libya — After more than two months, Libya's investigation into the attack on the U.S. Consulate in Benghazi appears in limbo. Key security commanders and witnesses say they were never questioned. No suspects have been named, and gunmen seen participating in the assault walk freely in the eastern Libyan city.
Hanging over the inquiry is a fear of reprisals from extremist militiamen. Farag al-Fazani, a young commander of a Libyan security force commissioned to protect the U.S. post at the time of the Sept. 11 attack, says he sees militants he recognizes from that chaotic night.
They recognize him too.
"I get death threats by phone (saying) you are an infidel and spilling your blood is permitted," said al-Fazani. "No one can protect me. I see them and they know me."
The dangers in the city are clear. On Wednesday, the head of one of the city's security agencies, National Security chief Farag el-Dersi, was shot to death by three attackers as he headed home from work. It is the latest in a string of killings of officials with no word on who is behind them, though there is no indication they are connected to the investigation.
U.S. and Libyan leaders have sworn to hunt down those who carried out the Sept. 11 assault, in which gunmen blasted their way into the consulate compound after nightfall and killed four Americans, including the U.S. ambassador to Libya, Chris Stevens. Most officials and witnesses have blamed fighters from Ansar al-Shariah, an Islamic extremist militia in the city. But much remains unexplained — including what was the attack's motive, why did Libyan security pull back from the consulate and even what time the attack started, much less the bigger questions of whether outside terror groups like al-Qaida had a hand.
The FBI, which sent a team to Tripoli immediately after the attack to work with Libyan investigators, has said nothing about its findings so far. At FBI headquarters in Washington, spokesman Michael Kortan on Wednesday declined to comment on the Libyan's conduct of the inquiry.
At the United Nations in New York, U.S. Ambassador Susan Rice told reporters, "You know the FBI and the State Department's Accountability Review Board are conducting investigations as we speak. And they will look into all aspects of this heinous terrorist attack, to provide what will become the definitive accounting of what occurred.
"None of us will rest, none of us will be satisfied until we have the answers, and the terrorists responsible for this attack are brought to justice," she said.
From Libya, there has been little sign of an investigation.
Numerous senior security officials in the city approached by the Associated Press knew nothing about the inquiry, and none said they had been questioned by investigators. The commander of Joint Operation Room who oversaw the security forces' reaction during the attack said he sent a report to the ruling General National Congress but received no feedback and had not been contacted by investigators.
"We were surprised that we were not summoned. . . . Very strange," said the commander, Abdel-Salam al-Barghathi. "I don't see anything on the ground" by way of investigation.
Several witnesses reported seeing an Islamic militant commander, Ahmed Abu Khattala, help direct the attack. Abu Khattala denies involvement but says he was at the scene to help rescue men trapped in the consulate. He has not been questioned by investigators, whether as a witness or a suspect.
"No one from Ansar al-Shariah has been summoned, or even told they are wanted," Abu Khattala told the Associated Press. Abu Khattala is a frequent visitor of Benghazi's el-Fadheel hotel, which is owned by Adel Galgoul, the owner of a safe house to which staffers from the consulate were evacuated during the attack, only to be hit by mortars that led to two of the American deaths.
Al-Fazani, the protection force commander, said Ansar al-Shariah carried out the consulate attack, led by Abu Khattala. "They divided themselves into two groups, one stormed the place and the second gave protection and supply," he said.
Al-Fazani said he was told to go to Tripoli to speak to U.S. investigators, but he was too afraid to do so. "I don't want to get into this. Security and things here are still tense," he said.
The investigation commission created by the National Congress to work with the FBI is largely based out of Tripoli, 400 miles from Benghazi.
It has faced personnel problems. Initially it was led by a judge in Benghazi, but he stepped down after only two weeks, according to the head of the Benghazi Cassation court, Fatma al-Baraghathi, who appointed him.
He was replaced by a judge in Tripoli, but al-Baraghathi said it was not clear if he had started work. The commission also includes the Interior Ministry's Criminal Investigation Division and Libyan intelligence.
The judge who stepped down refused to give details.
"I no longer have anything to do with this case, and I have nothing to say about it," said Salem Abdel-Atti.
Deputy Interior Minister Omar al-Khadrawi insisted the investigation was "going well" but could not say when it would be completed.
Speaking two weeks ago, ministry spokesman Ezz Eddin al-Fazani said the results would be released soon.
He and other Interior Ministry officials say they don't even know how many people have been detained. Early on, top officials said they made anywhere from 6 to 40 arrests, but no one can say if anyone is still held. In any case, all of those detained were post-attack looters, not gunmen who stormed the compound, former Prime Minister Mustafa Abu-Shagour told the Associated Press.
The confusion reflects the broader disarray of Libya's state security. To keep a degree of peace, authorities rely on the numerous militias made up of tens of thousands of young Libyans who took up arms against Gadhafi. It is often difficult to draw clear lines between those providing security and those causing instability. Many militias are under the Interior Ministry's Supreme Security Committee, giving them a veneer of state authority to handle security tasks police would normally perform, but they remain virtually independent, loyal to their own commanders and agendas.
Security officials are fearful of confronting the militias, which are far better armed than security forces. Ansar al-Shariah and its mother group, the Rafallah Sahati brigade, are among the strongest militias in Benghazi.
Fawzi Wanis, head of the Supreme Security Committee, is convinced militiamen within the committee fed information to the consulate attackers. But "I don't have the capability to carry out an internal investigation."
Details of the attack remain muddled. The Obama administration says it was a planned terror attack by militants, after initial confusion over whether there was also a protest against an anti-Islam film. Libyan security guards at the consulate and most witnesses say there were no peaceful protests outside the mission, but there were onlookers attending a wedding at a hall named Venice outside the mission's main gate.
Libyan security officials continue to give contradictory statements. Al-Barghathi, the head of the command center, told the Associated Press that there were protesters and he withdrew troops from in front of the consulate because he did not want to cause casualties among civilians. But in the report he submitted to the National Council — shown to the Associated Press — he makes no mention of protests.
Even the time the attack began is unclear. A U.S. time line says it started at 9:40 p.m., but most witnesses say the first firing began an hour earlier. Another question is why Stevens did not have stronger security and why Libyan security reinforcements did not arrive until 11 p.m., even though military and security bases are nearby.
The void of information has only fueled conspiracy theories among Benghazi's residents. Al-Barghathi, for example, is convinced the United States wanted Stevens to be killed.
"They brought him here to get rid of him. We have information that he was about to convert to Islam," said al-Barghathi. "Why else would he not have enough security?"
Re: Stuff & Nonsense
« Reply #7655 on: Nov 23rd, 2012, 07:17am »
Massively Multiplayer Online … Shopping? It’s Real, Addictive and Brutal
By Daniela Hernandez 11.23.12 6:30 AM
Every New Year’s, Japanese shoppers line up to snag so-called “lucky bags” stuffed with last year’s clothes, shoes and even tea bags. Deal-hungry buyers have no clue what’s inside, but they do know they’re getting their loot at a hefty discount. If they don’t like what they get, they can trade with other shoppers.
This tradition, known as fukubukuro, goes back at least 100 years. While poor shoppers like myself can’t afford a ticket to the land of the rising sun to experience the craze first-hand, Little Black Bag, a recently launched Los Angeles-based startup, is bringing the ritual to online shoppers in the United States.
The service’s key difference with fukubukuro is that Little Black Baggers can choose one of the products in their bags. The rest are surprises chosen by the company’s clever algorithm, which takes into account available inventory and your personal fashion do’s and don’t’s.
You start off by taking a style quiz, a survey of what styles fit your personality, like hipster, boho, downtown glam, or preppy. You fill up a virtual Birkin-style black bag with your favorite purses, jewelry, accessories and beauty products. (Currently, Little Black Bag only carries unsized items for women, sorry guys.) Then you choose what brands you identify with from a list of more than 150.
The company crunches all your data to compute your personal style. In my case, the algorithm labeled me a “stilettos and bright red lipstick” kind of woman, a classic glamor girl. Wrong on the lipstick, but right on the high-heels, I began the shopping proper as a little houndstooth bag.
Digital bag clutched tightly, I was free to roam through hundreds of purses, bracelets, earrings, necklaces, lotions, scarves and fragrances from brands like Big Buddha, Steve Madden, Nila Anthony and Betsy Johnson. Most brands tend to be mid-range and not as high-end as what you might find on Gilt and Rue La La, though it does have items by the likes of Kenneth Cole, BCBG, Calvin Klein and Badgley Mischka.
After selecting just one product from this massive array, you checkout, pay a flat fee of either $30 or $50 (I had a coupon from the company), and then hit the trading floor and chat rooms, armed with your chosen item and the two or three additional ones Little Black Bag selected to round out your shopping bag. This is where the champion shoppers are separated from the amateurs.
“It’s like stepping into the stock exchange,” says co-founder and CEO Dan Murillo. Customers are firing off about two million trades a month and using the service for an average of an hour each day, he said.
My first day of trading, I received more than 100 trade offers for a set of three pink Big Buddha coin purses, a bracelet with SWEET oversized gold (hideous) letters, and a denim tote in my bag. I gladly traded the bracelet for a stone pendant necklace and the coin purses for an orange oversized houndstooth scarf, but decided to hang on to the purse, my chosen product, since I was in the market for a work bag.
Over my next six days of trading—you get a week if you opt for the $50 bag, three days if you go with the cheaper one—I continued to get about 100 daily trade offers. The constant trading translated into a deluge of email notifications. I found this feature annoying and spammy, but it does increase the chances trading will be successful and interaction on the site. I rarely jumped from email notification to the website, but hardcore customers like Lindsey Kaples, a stay-at-home mom who works part time, see these alerts as crucial to successful trading.
If there’s an item you like, “you want to grab it before somebody else does,” says Kaples, 30, who’s been using the service daily since April. (This sense of urgency reminds me of stereotyped scenes of women fighting over designer boots at a sample sale.)
Kaples also uses the site’s social features, its chat rooms and newsfeed, to identify products that are trading well before choosing an item. A savvy tactic.
“You open a bag for that item so you can get a higher value,” she said. Around Halloween, she chose a pair of “silly skull bowls” she didn’t really like for just that reason. The bowls retailed for $42, but she was able to trade them up for someone else’s $70 purse because they were scarce and in high demand. Basic economics. She then traded the purse for two items with a total retail value of $90. Cha-ching. Kaples figures she orders three to four bags a month.
Using Kaples’ methods, I was also able to trade up the $20 stone pendant necklace for a $30 turquoise multi-row fabric necklace, and my bag shipped in a white box with the fabric necklace, houndstooth scarf and tote bag, which I didn’t much like and plan to return.
Little Black Bag is not your typical flash-sale e-commerce site. It’s part online community, part online store. Murillo likens Little Black Bag to a “massively multiplayer online shop,” with more similarities to Farmville than discount e-retailers Gilt or Rue La La.
Some customers “just want to buy something and check out,” says Murillo, the company’s CEO. “For those, there are plenty of other websites.”
Customers can also earn vanity badges, gift items from their bag to a friend or share a product they “love”—the site’s equivalent of a Like button—on Facebook, Twitter or Pinterest. If a friend clicks on that shared link and makes a purchase, they get an additional item, which they can also trade.
This makes the service, which launched in February and has raised more than $10 million in venture capital, one of a growing number of brands rewarding customers financially for advertising their products and services through social media. In Little Black Bag’s case it gives its customers an additional item to trade. But how does Murillo plan on turning all that trading and time into money for Little Black Bag?
In a word: data. All the information the company is gathering on the trades customers make, accept and reject. Currently, they use this data to decide what merchandise to buy, what brands to add and what mystery items to assign to each user. In the future, Murillo envisions using this information to recommend products to Little Black Bag customers browsing partner sites, to identify emerging fashion trends and to help price their products more effectively.
Murillo claims that his site can gather a richer fashion profile about its customers in an hour than Amazon can get in a year. If that’s true, it may have the potential to bring personalized shopping into the digital world. If nothing else, it’s bringing bare-knuckle shopping into the digital world. Just don’t try and take my purse.
Re: Stuff & Nonsense
« Reply #7656 on: Nov 23rd, 2012, 07:24am »
9.2-Million-Year-Old Rhino Skull Preserved by Instant 'Cooking to Death' in Volcanic Ash
ScienceDaily (Nov. 21, 2012)
— Less than 2% of Earth's fossils are preserved in volcanic rock, but researchers have identified a new one: the skull of a rhino that perished in a volcanic eruption 9.2 million years ago.
The find is described in a paper published Nov. 21 in the open access journal PLOS ONE by Pierre-Olivier Antoine and colleagues from the University of Montpellier, France.
The fossil, found in Turkey, is thought to be that of a large two-horned rhino common in the Eastern Mediterranean region during that period. According to the researchers, unusual features of the preserved skull suggest that the animal was 'cooked to death' at temperatures that may have approached 500° C, in a volcanic flow similar to that of the eruption of Mt. Vesuvius in Italy in 79 A.D.
The rhino's grisly death was near-instantaneous, and followed by severe dehydration in the extreme heat of the eruption. As the researchers describe its end, "the body was baked under a temperature approximating 400°C, then dismembered within the pyroclastic flow, and the skull separated from body." The flow of volcanic ash then moved the skull about 30 km north of the eruption site, where it was discovered by the four member research team.
Although other researchers have previously identified fossils of soft-bodied organisms preserved in volcanic ash, organic matter near an active volcanic eruption is usually quickly destroyed by the high temperatures, making a fossil such as this one extremely rare.
Re: Stuff & Nonsense
« Reply #7657 on: Nov 23rd, 2012, 07:28am »
Box Office Report: Thanksgiving Holiday Moviegoing Could Reach Record High 9:38 AM PST 11/22/2012 by Pamela McClintock
The long Thanksgiving holiday could ring in record grosses at the North American box office if Wednesday's turnout at the multiplex is any indication.
Grosses were up 25 percent over the same Wednesday a year ago, with holdovers The Twilight Saga: Breaking Dawn -- Part 2 and James Bond pic Skyfall dominating. Steven Spielberg's Lincoln also continued to build momentum.
The news, however, was mixed for a trio of new films opening on Wednesday.
DreamWorks Animation's 3D toon Rise of the Guardians got off to a slow start despite an A CinemaScore, grossing $4.9 million for a projected five day gross of $33.4 million, one of the lowest recent openings for a DWA title. Guardians cost $145 million to produce.
Ang Lee's $120 million Life of Pi ouptaced predictions on Wednesday, opening to $3.7 million for a five-day debut in the $28 million range. Pi, from 20th Century Fox and marking Lee's first 3D film, earned an A- CinemaScore.
MGM and FilmDistrict's Red Dawn remake opened to $4.2 million on Wednesday, putting its five-day debut at roughly $24 million. Red Dawn, which was shot in 2009 but held up because of MGM's financial woes, earned a B CinemaScore.
In terms of order, Summit Entertainment's Breaking Dawn 2 topped Wednesday with roughly $13.5 million for a five-day holiday gross north of $60 million and pushing it's domestic total past $222 million.
MGM and Sony's Skyfall took in $7.5 million for a five-day gross between $49 million and $51 million. Skyfall should finish the holiday weekend with a domestic total north of $220 million.
Rise of the Guardians, the last DWA movie to be distributed by Paramount, came in No. 3, followed by Lincoln with $4.2 million for a five-day gross in the $35 million range and a domestic cume of nearly $70 million.
Red Dawn placed No. 5, followed by Disney Animation Studios' Wreck-It Ralph with $3.7 million.
Wreck-It Ralph is posing unexpected competition for Rise of the Guardians, and could earn $22 million to $24 million for the five days (the 3D toon is heading into its fourth weekend).
Life of Pi and Wreck-It Ralph essentially tied for No. 6, but Pi is expected to move up the chart ahead of Red Dawn and Wreck-It Ralph.
The Weinstein Co.'s critical darling Silver Linings Playbook came in No. 9 on Wednesday as it expanded its theater count from 16 locations to 367. The awards contender, directed by David O. Russell, grossed $656,000 for a solid five-day gross of $6 million.
Silver Linings stars Bradley Cooper, Jennifer Lawrence, Robert De Niro and Jacki Weaver.
Box office observers believe domestic grosses could total $275 million for the Wednesday-Sunday frame, beating the previous record of $258.6 million earned in 2009.
Re: Stuff & Nonsense
« Reply #7658 on: Nov 24th, 2012, 10:15am »
Uploaded by LuckyStrike502 on Jan 14, 2009
Frankenstein is a 1910 film made by Edison Studios that was written and directed by J. Searle Dawley. It was the first motion picture adaptation of Mary Shelley's Frankenstein. The unbilled cast included Augustus Phillips as Dr. Frankenstein, Charles Ogle as the Monster, and Mary Fuller as the doctor's fiancée.
Shot in three days, it was filmed at the Edison Studios in the Bronx, New York City. Although some sources credit Thomas Edison as the producer, he in fact played no direct part in the activities of the motion picture company that bore his name.
Re: Stuff & Nonsense
« Reply #7659 on: Nov 25th, 2012, 10:37am »
Egypt stocks plunge after Mursi power grab
By Tom Perry and Patrick Werr Sun Nov 25, 2012 11:28am EST
CAIRO (Reuters) - Egypt's stock market plunged on Sunday in its first day open since Islamist President Mohamed Mursi seizure of new powers set off street violence and a political crisis, unraveling efforts to restore stability after last year's revolution.
More than 500 people have been injured in protests since Friday, when Egyptians awoke to news Mursi had issued a decree temporarily widening his powers and shielding his decisions from judicial review.
Mursi and the judiciary hinted at compromise to avert a full-scale political crisis.
The Supreme Judicial Council said Mursi's decree should apply only to "sovereign matters". Although it did not specify what that meant, its statement, read on television, suggested it did not reject his decree outright. It called on judges and prosecutors who have called for a strike to return to work.
Mursi's office repeated assurances that the measures would be temporary, and said he wanted dialogue with political groups.
"This declaration is deemed necessary in order to hold accountable those responsible for corruption as well as other crimes during the previous regime and the transitional period," the presidency said in a statement.
Justice minister Ahmed Mekky, who has said he has some reservations over Mursi's decree, launched an effort to mediate between Mursi and judges.
Sunday's stock market fall of nearly 10 percent - halted only by automatic curbs - was the worst since the uprising that toppled Hosni Mubarak in February, 2011.
Images of protesters clashing with riot police and tear gas wafting through Cairo's Tahrir Square were an unsettling reminder of that uprising. Activists were camped in the square for a third day, blocking traffic with makeshift barricades. Nearby, riot police and protesters clashed intermittently.
Mursi's supporters and opponents plan big demonstrations on Tuesday that could be a trigger for more street violence.
"We are back to square one, politically, socially," said Mohamed Radwan of Pharos Securities, an Egyptian brokerage firm.
Mursi's late Thursday decree marks an effort to consolidate his influence after he successfully sidelined Mubarak-era generals in August. It reflects his suspicions of a judiciary little reformed since the Mubarak era.
Issued just a day after Mursi received glowing tributes from Washington for his work brokering a deal to end eight days of violence between Israel and Hamas, the decree drew warnings from the West to uphold democracy. Washington has leverage because of billions of dollars it sends in annual military aid.
"The United States should be saying this is unacceptable," former presidential nominee John McCain, ranking Republican on the Senate Armed Services Committee, said on Fox News.
"We thank Mr. Mursi for his efforts in brokering the cease fire with Hamas.... But this is not what the United States of America's taxpayers expect. Our dollars will be directly related to progress toward democracy."
Forged out of the once-banned Muslim Brotherhood, the Mursi administration has defended his decree as an effort to speed up reforms that will complete Egypt's democratic transformation.
Yet leftists, liberals, socialists and others say it has exposed the autocratic impulses of a man once jailed by Mubarak.
"There is no room for dialogue when a dictator imposes the most oppressive, abhorrent measures and then says 'let us split the difference'," prominent opposition leader ElBaradei said on Saturday in an interview with Reuters and the Associated Press.
Floating one possible way out of the crisis, political scientist Moataz Abdelfattah said he had told Mursi's advisors that the president should issue an "explanatory memo" outlining what he would and would not do with the decree.
WARNINGS FROM WEST
Investors had grown more confident in recent months that a legitimately elected government would help Egypt put its economic and political problems behind it. The stock market's main index had risen 35 percent since Mursi's victory. It closed on Sunday at its lowest level since July 31.
Political turmoil also raised the cost of government borrowing at a treasury bill auction on Sunday.
"Investors know that Mursi's decisions will not be accepted and that there will be clashes on the street," said Osama Mourad of Arab Financial Brokerage.
Just last week, investor confidence was helped by a preliminary agreement with the International Monetary Fund over a $4.8 billion loan needed to shore up state finances.
Mursi's decree removes judicial review of decisions he takes until a new parliament is elected, expected early next year.
It also shields the Islamist-dominated assembly writing Egypt's new constitution from a raft of legal challenges that have threatened it with dissolution, and offers the same protection to the Islamist-controlled upper house of parliament.
"I am really afraid that the two camps are paving the way for violence," said Hassan Nafaa, a professor of political science at Cairo University. "Mursi has misjudged this, very much so. But forcing him again to relinquish what he has done will appear a defeat."
Many of Mursi's political opponents share the view that Egypt's judiciary needs reform. Mursi's new powers allowed him to sack the prosecutor general, a holdover from the Mubarak era who is unpopular among reformists of all stripes. But his liberal critics see the decree as a threat to democracy.
"What is confusing is that it seems the revolutionaries are meshing with the remnants of the old regime," said Nafaa.
(Additional reporting by Yasmine Saleh in Cairo and Philip Barbara in Washington; Editing by Peter Graff)
Re: Stuff & Nonsense
« Reply #7660 on: Nov 25th, 2012, 10:44am »
Originally published Saturday, November 24, 2012 at 7:00 PM
Chinese manufacturing center frets as competition grows
China's ambition to build the biggest of everything is being crimped by problems its manufacturing sector is running into these days.
By Jia Lynn Yang The Washington Post
DONGGUAN, CHINA — Dongguan on China's Pearl River Delta was once a manufacturing boomtown, a place that made so many different things, from toys to shoes to furniture, that it became known as "the world's factory." Migrant workers came from all over the country to work, often taking jobs that used to be in the United States.
But these days, it's Dongguan that's losing jobs and eyeing the United States with some envy.
"I'm leaving," said Frank Lin, a Taiwanese businessman who is closing his factory in Dongguan. "There's no future for this place."
Lin, 55, sat in a cavernous dining room at the Haiyatt Garden Hotel where only two tables had diners. This room used to be packed every night, Lin said.
Americans are more accustomed to hearing about Rust Belt manufacturing towns in decline because the jobs left for China. But in China there are places where factories are shuttering and the future is uncertain.
China's reliance on cheap labor has powered the country's economy to unprecedented heights and fueled its ambition to build the biggest of everything.
But China's manufacturing sector is running into problems these days, crimping such ambitions.
Donngguan's New South China Mall is the world's largest based on leasable area. But it has been 99 percent vacant since its 2005 opening.
China is being squeezed on one end by places with even lower labor costs, such as Laos and Vietnam, and is struggling to make more-advanced products because of competition from developed nations such as Germany and the United States.
"China's manufacturers are in an extremely hard situation and facing what we call 'a sandwich trap,' " said Zhang Monan, a researcher in economics at the State Information Center, a government think tank.
For China's new leadership, which completed its once-in-a-decade turnover this month, the coming years include a big test. Even as China is poised to become the world's biggest economy, it is straining to make the transition from "the world's factory" to becoming an economy on par with the United States.
During the transition, the departing leader of the Communist Party, Hu Jintao, said China's "unbalanced, uncoordinated and unsustainable development" remains a major problem for the country, according to the official Xinhua news agency.
China's model for its manufacturing sector has become the United States.
"China has to change its manufacturing strategy to be more innovative in technology and compete with a 'reviving' U.S.," wrote Zhang, the researcher, this summer in an op-ed article, "Wake-Up Call for Industry," for the China Daily. "China is expected to face fiercer-than-ever competition from the United States in the manufacturing sector, making it all the more urgent for Beijing to expedite its industrial upgrade," he wrote.
It has been clear for a few years that places such as Dongguan must adapt or risk getting wiped out. In March 2008, Wang Yang, the party secretary for Guangdong province, visited Dongguan, then a buzzing hub of activity.
"If Dongguan does not start to transform its industrial structure today," he warned, according to the South China Morning Post, "it will be transformed and lose out tomorrow."
It could already be too late for Dongguan.
Before 2009, the city was one of the fastest growing in China. Then the U.S. recession hit, which sent demand for Chinese goods plummeting. Before the city could recover, Europe's debt problems delivered another punch.
During the first three quarters of this year, Dongguan grew 3.5 percent. That would be considered strong nowadays in a developed economy such as the United States, but it is anemic by Chinese standards and much lower than the average rate of 7.9 percent in the rest of Guangdong province.
China has relied on two pillars of economic growth for the past several years: exports and construction. But many analysts say that for the country's economy to mature and stabilize, it has to find other ways to grow, beyond building airports and roads or making goods cheaply.
The country has made some progress in building more advanced products such as airplanes and cars. But Dongguan's troubles illustrate how hard it can be to reinvent overnight an economy built on cheap labor, especially as China's overall growth has slowed to its lowest rate in years.
Dongguan is sprawling, more a patchwork of townships than a centralized city with a hub. In one of its many towns, Houjie, known for its shoe factories, Chen Yunyan sat looking weary in her shop, which was filled with giant bags of zippers sold to other manufacturers.
"It's the worst," she said about the economy. "Most of my customers have gone bankrupt."
The central zipper factory for Chen's company is in Shenzhen, a major, faster-growing city to the south near Hong Kong. Chen, who manages customers in the Dongguan area, blames the government for failing to help ordinary people.
"It's the most corrupt government," said Chen, 36. "There's no money spent on ordinary people. They only spend it on building roads."
Houjie is, in fact, filled with bulldozers and half-built roads. Across the street from Chen's storefront, a building is under construction.
In a job-placement center around the corner, only a few young migrant workers milled around looking for work. Lai Rongsheng, 21, moved to Dongguan three years ago from the southeast province of Jiangxi. He worked at a toy factory for six months before quitting, and wants to go into sales — for higher wages and work that's less grueling. But he hasn't found anything.
"More people are looking for work," said Lai, who had already made two trips to the job-placement center.
Without the hope of better jobs in Dongguan, Lai and his friends said some migrant workers were beginning to return to their hometowns.
In an office across the city, Chen Shuibin, an accountant for businesses in Dongguan, said that of about 300 clients, half were losing money this year.
"It's worse than 2009," he said while drinking tea in his office. "We live day by day. We can't see any hope for tomorrow."
Liu Liu contributed to this report. Seattle Times staff contributed to this report.
Re: Stuff & Nonsense
« Reply #7661 on: Nov 25th, 2012, 10:47am »
Yahoo News India
UFO sightings inside Indian territory bordering China raise security concerns
Top security brass of the Indian government is battling a "mysterious" threat from the Chinese side these days: tennis ball-sized UFOs.
India Today – Fri 23 Nov, 2012.
Hundreds of unidentified flying objects (UFOs) have been sighted inside the Indian territory bordering China in recent months, raising security concerns. The issue, initially dubbed a minor one, has turned serious as India prepares to raise it at the diplomatic level with China.
Sources said a meeting of the boundary coordination mechanism - a highlevel official mechanism set up by the two sides to ensure that the boundary incidents between their armed forces do not escalate - is being scheduled later this month where the issue of "luminous objects" will be at the centre of the discussion.
The Indian delegation will be led by Gautam Bambawale, the head of the China desk in the external affairs ministry, while China will be represented by its director general, department of boundary and oceanic affairs. Security officials from both sides will also participate in the meeting.
Highly placed sources said over 150 such incidents have been reported in the last three months and that India's protests at the local border personnel meeting with the Chinese have met with a cursory denial.
The government's decision to raise the 'UFO ' issue at the diplomatic level follows a detailed report sought from the Defence Research and Development Organisation and the Indian Army, and a spectrum analyser to ascertain the objects.
Surprisingly, the radar could not detect these objects indicating that they were nonmetallic.
Also, the spectrum analyser could not detect any signals emitted by them.
The army also flew a reconnaissance drone in the direction of the floating objects, but it didn't yield anything substantial.
"Earlier these reports coming from various sectors of the boundary were sketchy but now we have definite proof of these yellowish spheres coming from the Chinese side; and our concerns will be raised," a source said.
According to the reports, in Ladakh sector, such an object was sighted in Thakung post on October 21 for around eight hours. It had an "intense continuous flash light." Another incident was reported from Arunachal Pradesh's Dichu area on October 19.
Earlier it was believed that the Chinese could be sending remote-controlled lanterns but that theory was shot down after an internal probe.
Mail Today accessed a series of reports sent by the intelligence bureau, the army and the ITBP on the issue, which has been discussed at a high-level meeting on China in the Prime Minister's Office.
Some of the top government officials suspect that these UFOs which appear to lift off from the Chinese side and traverse the sky for three to five hours before disappearing were high-intensity cameras.
"We are worried that there may be a flare-up if the Indian troops decide to shoot these objects," a source said.
Re: Stuff & Nonsense
« Reply #7662 on: Nov 25th, 2012, 10:52am »
Myth Debunked: Full Moon Does Not Increase Incidence of Psychological Problems ScienceDaily (Nov. 19, 2012)
— Contrary to popular belief, there is no connection between lunar phases and the incidence of psychological problems. This is the conclusion reached by a team of researchers directed by Professor Geneviève Belleville of Université Laval's School of Psychology after having examined the relationship between the moon's phases and the number of patients who show up at hospital emergency rooms experiencing psychological problems.
Details on the study can be found on the website of the scientific journal General Hospital Psychiatry.
To determine whether the widespread belief linking the moon to mental health problems was true, researchers evaluated patients who visited emergency rooms at Montreal's Sacré-Coeur Hospital and Hôtel-Dieu de Lévis between March 2005 and April 2008. They focused specifically on 771 individuals who showed up at the emergency room with chest pains for which no medical cause could be determined. Psychological evaluations revealed that a sizeable number of these patients suffered from panic attacks, anxiety and mood disorders, or suicidal thoughts.
Using lunar calendars, the researchers determined the moon phase in which each of these visits occurred. The results of their analyses revealed no link between the incidence of psychological problems and the four lunar phases. There was one exception, however; anxiety disorders were 32% less frequent during the last lunar quarter. "This may be coincidental or due to factors we did not take into account," suggested Geneviève Belleville. "But one thing is certain: we observed no full-moon or new-moon effect on psychological problems."
This study's conclusions run contrary to what many believe, including 80% of nurses and 64% of doctors who are convinced that the lunar cycle affects patients' mental health. "We hope our results will encourage health professionals to put that idea to rest," said Dr. Belleville. "Otherwise, this misperception could, on the one hand, color their judgment during the full moon phase; or, on the other hand, make them less attentive to psychological problems that surface during the remainder of the month."
In addition to Geneviève Belleville, the study was coauthored by Guillaume Foldes-Busque, Mélanie Dixon, Évelyne Marquis-Pelletier, and Sarah Barbeau from Université Laval's School of Psychology; Julien Poitras and Richard Fleet from Université Laval's Faculty of Medicine; Jean-Marc Chauny and Jean Diodati from Université de Montréal; and André Marchand from UQAM.
Re: Stuff & Nonsense
« Reply #7663 on: Nov 26th, 2012, 08:04am »
Confidential police info found in Macy's parade confetti sparks investigation
Published November 25, 2012
New York police are investigating claims that shredded paper used as confetti during Macy’s annual Thanksgiving Day Parade included sensitive information – including Social Security numbers and banking account information, MyFoxNY.com reported.
Nassau County Police officers are looking into the matter after college student Ethan Finkelstein reported the confetti falling on his shoulders as he watched the parade contained Social Security numbers, employee identification numbers, bank account numbers, as well as pieces of an incident report.
"There were thousands of pieces of white confetti paper all around us. We just picked up a handful and started going through it and we noticed there were more Social Security numbers, more address and phone numbers," Finkelstein said, MyFoxNY.com reported.
Finkelstein, 18, who was home from Tufts University on Thanksgiving break, said he was watching the parade at 65th Street and Central Park West when he and a friend noticed a strip of confetti stuck onto her coat.
"It landed on her shoulder," Finkelstein told PIX11 News, "and it says 'SSN' and it's written like a Social Security number, and we're like, 'That's really bizarre.'
"There are phone numbers, addresses, more Social Security numbers, license plate numbers and then we find all these incident reports from police."
According to WPIX, one confetti strip indicates that it's from an arrest record, and other strips offer more detail. "This is really shocking," Finkelstein told the station. "It says, 'At 4:30 A.M. a pipe bomb was thrown at a house in the Kings Grant' area."
The Nassau County Police Department told PIX11, via a written statement from its commanding officer for public information, Inspector Kenneth Lack, "The Nassau County Police Department is very concerned about this situation. We will be conducting an investigation into this matter as well as reviewing our procedures for the disposing of sensitive documents."