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 veryhotthread  Author  Topic: Stuff & Nonsense  (Read 15683 times)
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« Reply #7665 on: Nov 26th, 2012, 09:15am »

The Crypto Crew

Saturday, November 24, 2012

Official Statement from Dr. Ketchum!

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

‘BIGFOOT’ DNA SEQUENCED IN UPCOMING GENETICS STUDY

Five-Year Genome Study Yields Evidence of Homo sapiens/Unknown Hominin Hybrid Species in North America

DALLAS, Nov. 24

--A team of scientists can verify that their 5-year long DNA study, currently under peer-review, confirms the existence of a novel hominin hybrid species, commonly called “Bigfoot” or “Sasquatch,” living in North America. Researchers’ extensive DNA sequencing suggests that the legendary Sasquatch is a human relative that arose approximately 15,000 years ago as a hybrid cross of modern Homo sapiens with an unknown primate species.

The study was conducted by a team of experts in genetics, forensics, imaging and pathology, led by Dr. Melba S. Ketchum of Nacogdoches, TX. In response to recent interest in the study, Dr. Ketchum can confirm that her team has sequenced 3 complete Sasquatch nuclear genomes and determined the species is a human hybrid:

“Our study has sequenced 20 whole mitochondrial genomes and utilized next generation sequencing to obtain 3 whole nuclear genomes from purported Sasquatch samples. The genome sequencing shows that Sasquatch mtDNA is identical to modern Homo sapiens, but Sasquatch nuDNA is a novel, unknown hominin related to Homo sapiens and other primate species. Our data indicate that the North American Sasquatch is a hybrid species, the result of males of an unknown hominin species crossing with female Homo sapiens.

Hominins are members of the taxonomic grouping Hominini, which includes all members of the genus Homo. Genetic testing has already ruled out Homo neanderthalis and the Denisova hominin as contributors to Sasquatch mtDNA or nuDNA. “The male progenitor that contributed the unknown sequence to this hybrid is unique as its DNA is more distantly removed from humans than other recently discovered hominins like the Denisovan individual,” explains Ketchum.

“Sasquatch nuclear DNA is incredibly novel and not at all what we had expected. While it has human nuclear DNA within its genome, there are also distinctly non-human, non-archaic hominin, and non-ape sequences. We describe it as a mosaic of human and novel non-human sequence. Further study is needed and is ongoing to better characterize and understand Sasquatch nuclear DNA.”

Ketchum is a veterinarian whose professional experience includes 27 years of research in genetics, including forensics. Early in her career she also practiced veterinary medicine, and she has previously been published as a participant in mapping the equine genome. She began testing the DNA of purported Sasquatch hair samples 5 years ago.

Ketchum calls on public officials and law enforcement to immediately recognize the Sasquatch as an indigenous people:

“Genetically, the Sasquatch are a human hybrid with unambiguously modern human maternal ancestry. Government at all levels must recognize them as an indigenous people and immediately protect their human and Constitutional rights against those who would see in their physical and cultural differences a ‘license’ to hunt, trap, or kill them.”

Full details of the study will be presented in the near future when the study manuscript publishes.

http://www.thecryptocrew.com/2012/11/official-statement-from-dr-ketchum.html

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« Reply #7666 on: Nov 26th, 2012, 09:20am »

Seattle Times

Originally published November 26, 2012 at 6:35 AM
Page modified November 26, 2012 at 7:16 AM

Court orders new look at health care challenge

The Supreme Court has revived a Christian college's challenge to President Barack Obama's healthcare overhaul, with the acquiescence of the Obama administration.

The Associated Press

WASHINGTON —

The Supreme Court has revived a Christian college's challenge to President Barack Obama's healthcare overhaul, with the acquiescence of the Obama administration.

The court on Monday ordered the federal appeals court in Richmond, Va., to consider the claim by Liberty University in Lynchburg, Va., that Obama's health care law violates the school's religious freedoms.

A federal district judge rejected Liberty's claims, and the 4th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals ruled that the lawsuit was premature and never dealt with the substance of the school's arguments. The Supreme Court upheld the health care law in June.

The justices used lawsuits filed by 26 states and the National Federation of Independent Business to uphold the health care law by a 5-4 vote, then rejected all other pending appeals, including Liberty's.

The school made a new filing with the court over the summer to argue that its claims should be fully evaluated in light of the high court decision. The administration said it did not oppose Liberty's request.

Liberty is challenging both the requirement that most individuals obtain health insurance or pay a penalty, and a separate provision requiring many employers to offer health insurance to their workers.

The appeals court could ask the government and the college for new legal briefs to assess the effect of the Supreme Court ruling on Liberty's claims before rendering a decision.

Liberty's case joins dozens of other pending lawsuits over health reform, many involving the requirement that employer insurance plans cover contraception, which are working their way through the federal court system.

The case is Liberty University v. Geithner, 11-438.

http://seattletimes.com/html/politics/2019767815_apussupremecourthealthcare.html

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« Reply #7667 on: Nov 26th, 2012, 09:26am »

Wired

Hybrid 3-D Printer Used to Create Cartilage Implants
By Mike Senese
11.25.12 5:14 PM




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Ostheoarthritics and athletes alike might share excitement for implantable cartilage.
Photo by James Heilman, MD (CC-BY-SA-3.0)




That’s right. We have the ability to 3-D print human cartilage.

The research team’s breakthrough mixes electrospinning, a method of creating synthetic, polymer-based nanoscale-fibrous materials used for implants and wound dressing, with medical inkjet printing, also called bioprinting, currently used to create tissues and organs. Each method is a viable medical process, but with shortcomings: Electrospun materials typically don’t have the ability to promote cellular growth, nor do they have the flexibility needed for cartilage replacement. And inkjet printed materials lacks the structure and strength needed to support the loads that cartilage carries.

As detailed in the medical journal Biofabrication, the Wake Forest researchers theorized that merging the two systems together could solve these problems. Their hybrid approach alternates microscopic layers of electrospun fiber and printed, living cartilage cells cultivated from rabbit ears, generating an artificial cartilage pad that is suitable for implanting. An eight-week study in mice showed that the implanted pads developed cellular structure similar to natural cartilage, while separate mechanical strength tests demonstrated that it was equivalent to natural cartilage.

The development has a lot of potential for the medical field. Injured natural cartilage is slow and difficult to heal, and has almost no ability to regrow itself. Currently, surgeons treat cartilage damage caused from injury or disease with techniques that remove small pieces of torn tissue or create microscopic grafts (such as arthroscopic and microfracture surgeries), in hopes to minimize the pain and restriction. But as of yet, they have been unable to fully regenerate the cushioning, lubricating tissue that keeps joints moving freely and bones from wearing against each other. As a result, degenerative cartilage conditions can eventually result in joint replacement surgery.

This new procedure may effectively eradicate these invasive procedures and spell relief for countless people who suffer from cartilage conditions. The researchers even suggest the ability to use MRI scans as precise guides for printing implants tailored to the patient’s body.

Research is still in early stages, but if the initial results continue to be demonstrated, a faster, cheaper solution to joint injuries could be coming to human subjects soon.

http://www.wired.com/design/2012/11/3-d-printed-cartilage/

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« Reply #7668 on: Nov 26th, 2012, 09:30am »

The Hill

Insurgent group hits market in eastern Afghanistan bombing

By Carlo Muñoz
11/26/12 06:33 AM ET

KHOST, Afghanistan — Insurgent forces detonated a bicycle bomb in a busy market square in Khost City on Monday, less than a mile from where U.S. forces were meeting with key provincial leaders.

The bomb, concealed within the bicycle's metal frame, wounded 16 Afghan civilians, with two suffering serious injuries from the blast, according to officials from the 3rd Brigade Combat Team, 101st Airborne Division (Air Assault) stationed at Task Force Rakkasan here.

No American or coalition forces or members of the Afghan National Security Forces (ANSF) were injured in the attack.

The blast took place near the so-called “Blue Mosque” in Khost City, built by Jalaluddin Haqqani, leader of the Pakistan-based Haqqani Network terror group.

At the time of the attack, American forces from the U.S. Provincial Reconstruction Team located at Forward Operating Base Salerno were meeting with local officials at the provincial government's agricultural development office in Khost City.

Members of the reconstruction team were in the provincial capital to discuss progress on U.S.-backed development programs, as well as help local Afghan leaders prepare for the eventual drawdown of U.S. forces in 2014.

It remains unclear whether the attack was targeted at members of the reconstruction team.

However, prior to Monday's meeting, military officials at FOB Salerno had been notified of a possible high-profile attack by Haqqani fighters against U.S. or Afghan government targets.

The last major attack against U.S. forces here was on June 1, when insurgent fighters launched a coordinated suicide bombing attack against FOB Salerno.

American and ANSF units were able to repel the attack, leaving 14 insurgents dead, but not before several of the gunmen breached the base's outer perimeter.

Single high-profile attacks separated by long periods of inactivity have been the hallmark of Taliban and Haqqani fighters operating in this area, Col. Tim Sullivan, deputy commanding officer of Task Force Rakkasan, told The Hill in an interview Sunday.

Due to U.S. and Afghan efforts to close off Taliban and Haqqani supply lines running from Pakistan across the Afghan border, it is taking longer for insurgent forces to get the supplies needed to pull off attacks like Monday's bombing or the June 1 assault on FOB Salerno, Sullivan said.

That limited supply of weapons and explosives means that after an attack like Monday's bombing, "you have just [depleted] them for an entire [fighting] season," according to the task force chief.

But securing the Afghan-Pakistan border and keeping insurgent forces on their heels will be "an enduring fight" up until U.S. and NATO combat forces withdraw from Afghanistan in 2014, Sullivan noted.

Roughly 32,000 American troops have already left Afghanistan, with the remaining 68,000 set to rotate out of the country over the next year and a half.

Gen. John Allen, commander of all U.S. forces in Afghanistan, is poised to deliver his plan to withdraw those remaining U.S. forces to the White House within the next few weeks, Defense Secretary Leon Panetta told reporters earlier this month.

That said, Sullivan and other U.S. combat commanders have "an aggressive plan in place" to draw down U.S. forces here and elsewhere in eastern Afghanistan, while ensuring ANSF units — particularly border security forces — can take over where coalition forces leave off.

"It is where it needs to be," Sullivan said regarding the readiness of Afghan forces in preparation for the looming U.S. drawdown.


http://thehill.com/blogs/defcon-hill/operations/269273-insurgents-bomb-market-in-eastern-afghanistan

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« Reply #7669 on: Nov 27th, 2012, 10:19am »

The Hill

‘Fiscal cliff’ talks could collide with Christmas
By Russell Berman and Erik Wasson
11/27/12 05:00 AM ET

For the fourth consecutive year, a major Washington negotiation is on a collision course with Christmas.

President Obama and congressional leaders spoke optimistically after a meeting 10 days ago about avoiding a last-minute fiscal-cliff scramble, tasking staff with coming up with some solutions by this week. But sources close to the negotiations say those talks haven’t gone anywhere on any of the most salient issues.

Officials said Obama spoke by phone on Saturday with House Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) and Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.), but no additional face-to-face meetings have been scheduled. The delay is a signal that discussions on the staff level have not yet yielded enough progress to warrant a second confab of the five elected leaders who will shake hands on any final agreement — Obama, Boehner, Reid, Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) and House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.).

It is also fanning Republican fears that the lack of urgency displayed by Obama is a deliberate strategy aimed at jamming the GOP into a last-minute agreement more favorable to Democrats. While Republicans have said they are open to new tax revenues and Democrats continue to cite the need for spending cuts, each side is pushing the other to offer more specific proposals of what it could accept.

In a Senate floor speech on Monday, McConnell said the parties “remain at an impasse” on the critical issues of taxes, spending and entitlements. He called on Obama to submit a plan “that has a realistic chance of passing the Congress,” and he warned about what he called “the Thelma and Louise crowd” of liberal Democrats suggesting that lawmakers should simply take no action to stop the cascade of spending cuts and tax increases at year’s end.

“So we’ll continue to wait on the president, and hope that he has what it takes to bring people together to forge a compromise,” McConnell said. “If he does, we’ll get there. If he doesn’t, we won’t. It’s that simple.”

White House press secretary Jay Carney on Monday would say only that the next meeting with congressional leaders would come “at the appropriate time.” In the meantime, top White House aides met with U.S. Chamber of Commerce President Tom Donohue, and House Republicans planned to meet Wednesday with CEOs and civic leaders of the “Fix the Debt” coalition, including Erskine Bowles, a co-chairman of the president’s fiscal commission in 2010.

With just three weeks left before the House is scheduled to close its session, the developments came as little surprise to veteran Washington insiders who expect any deal to wait until the last minute, following the pattern of recent years. In 2009, the Senate stayed in session until the early morning of Christmas Eve to pass an initial version of the healthcare overhaul. The next year, Congress gave final approval to a lame-duck tax package on Dec. 16, and in 2011, House Republicans held out until Dec. 23 before approving — by unanimous consent — a two-month extension of a payroll tax cut.

A Democratic source close to the negotiations said that the White House “definitely” sees running out the clock as to its advantage, since it believes it has more public support for its position of extending middle-class tax rates but increasing them on the wealthy.

The source said that the White House is angling for more specificity from Republicans on how they will get revenue before getting more specific on spending cuts — a mirror image to the demands of congressional Republicans.

A Republican source said the talks have not moved beyond senior policy staff members to include lawmakers or administration officials like Treasury Secretary Tim Geithner or Gene Sperling, director of the National Economic Council.

The White House argues that Obama’s 2013 budget was already filled with specific spending cuts, and it has signaled that it would be open to specific entitlement changes, such as raising the eligibility age for Medicare.

“Republicans haven’t put anything specific on revenues. They are generically talking about ending deductions,” the Democratic source said.

Republican strategist Matt Schlapp, a former Bush political director, said members of his party are worried, however, that Obama’s staff does not speak for the president and that Obama is willing to reverse himself in the middle of negotiations.

In the 2011 talks with Boehner, Obama sought more revenue once the White House learned that a plan being presented by the Senate’s bipartisan Gang of Six included more revenue than Boehner had agreed to.

This lack of trust slows staff talks and makes it more important for Obama to get publicly behind spending cuts, Schlapp said.

“Congress as an institution is rife with factions. And this is a moment when the president could step in and lead,” Schlapp said. “Many folks are waiting to see how he’s going to insert himself.”

But he said the White House seems to believe that waiting until the last minute is in its interest.

“Things don’t tend to get done early in politics if there is no real benefit to getting things done early,” he said.

This time around, congressional leaders briefly stirred hopes of a faster resolution when they emerged from the White House on Nov. 16.

“This isn’t something we’re going to wait until the last day of December to get it done,” Reid told reporters.

But in the 10 days since, they have made little headway. Staff members were instructed to meet over the Thanksgiving break, with the goal of preparing a “framework” to present to the principal negotiators this week. And Pelosi said the group should show “some milestones of success” to build confidence in the markets and among consumers.

Brendan Daly, a former Pelosi adviser now at the Ogilvy public-relations firm, said that markets want more certainty than Congress is providing. He said that the lesson of the 2011 debt-ceiling debacle is that a long period of tension before a deal is struck is bad for the economy.

“That is why Leader Pelosi likes to set goals … in the interim,” he said.

Yet neither a framework nor any milestones of success have thus far materialized.

http://thehill.com/homenews/administration/269475-fiscal-cliff-discussions-could-collide-with-christmas

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« Reply #7670 on: Nov 27th, 2012, 10:23am »

Wired

Record Online Sales Mean the End of ‘E-Commerce’
By Marcus Wohlsen
11.27.12 6:30 AM

More than ever, we shop online. More than ever, we use smartphones and tablets to shop online. In a flurry of data dumps throughout the Thanksgiving-Black Friday-Cyber Monday shopping extravaganza, e-commerce analysts have used these two would-be headlines to frame the start of the online shopping season as cause for celebration among online retailers.

And they have a point: On Black Friday, e-commerce sales topped $1 billion for the first time, according to comScore — a 26 percent increase over last year. And shoppers did use mobile devices to make more of those purchases than ever before. Overall, nearly a third of all online shopping this Black Friday occurred via smartphone or tablet, up from less than one-fifth last year, according to Scot Wingo, CEO of e-commerce software maker ChannelAdvisor.

But there’s one important figure that puts a damper on the idea that this weekend’s retail results signify a revolution. The National Retail Federation says its survey results show spending over the Black Friday weekend topped $59 billion. Divided across four days, that’s nearly $15 billion per day. Even if a full $1 billion of those sales each day took place online, that’s still less than 7 percent of total spending. This is consistent with e-commerce’s share of consumer spending any other time of year. All of which leads to a less-than-revolutionary dog-bites-man headline: People still shop in stores. A lot.

Not that 7 percent is inconsequential. For an industry that didn’t exist 20 years ago, gobbling up a 7 percent chunk of U.S. retail sales is massive, especially since a huge percentage of those sales are going to Amazon and eBay. Those are sales that traditional retailers are losing to e-commerce; so far, their own websites and apps aren’t making up the difference.

But the fact that a huge majority of U.S. consumers still choose to go to the store should also quash any triumphalist march-of-progress rhetoric that claims an ever-growing cannibalization of traditional retail by the internet. Online spending is growing, but maybe it has an upper limit. Maybe online shopping can’t duplicate the in-store experience.

The smartest stores recognize that they can’t go all-in on either online or offline shopping, and moreover shouldn’t bother to maintain the fiction that there’s any clear line dividing the two. In an interview with WIRED last week, Walmart.com CEO Joel Anderson said that starting next year its individual stores will start to get credit for digital sales as well as sales made across its checkout counters.

This makes sense especially for Walmart, which has actively worked to blur the online/offline distinction. Online shoppers can pick up their Walmart.com orders at the store. They can go to the store and pay for their online order with cash. Increasingly, Walmart is using its 4,000 U.S. stores as de facto warehouses from which they ship items ordered online. And, the company says, about 12 percent of online orders made using its mobile app take place while the customer is physically in a Walmart store. In that light, the online/offline distinction starts to seem awfully arbitrary, much like the idea of Cyber Monday itself.

“I think the first phase of the e-commerce world was clearly about pure play — buy online, ship it to your house,” Anderson says. “I think it’s hard today to define what an e-commerce transaction is. If you buy online and pick it up in the store, is that an e-commerce transaction or an offline transaction?”

The answer, he says, is not to worry about semantics. Instead, Anderson says worry about ubiquity. “We have channels,” he says, “but strategically … we (just) need to be where our customers want us to be.”

http://www.wired.com/business/2012/11/cyber-monday-store-is-king/

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« Reply #7671 on: Nov 27th, 2012, 10:29am »

Der Spiegel

11/27/2012

Bankruptcy Averted
Europe Agrees on New Aid Package For Greece

By Carsten Volkery in London

The 17 euro-zone finance ministers broke their deadlock with the International Monetary Fund on Monday night and agreed to release the next tranche of aid for Greece, which will receive a total of €44 billion starting next month in four installments to be paid by the end of March 2013.

The December installment will comprise €23.8 billion for banks and €10.6 billion in budget assistance.

At their third meeting in as many weeks, the ministers also agreed a further set of measures to reduce Greece's debt burden by 2020.

They didn't have much time left. Greece's debt is rising faster than expected because the country remains mired in recession and has been slow to implement reforms. As a result, the Euro Group of finance ministers had to revise its targets for long-term debt reduction.

Under the new agreement reached after 12 hours of talks in Brussels, Greece is now being required to cut its debt-to-GDP ratio to 124 percent by 2020, compared with a previous target of 120 percent that is regarded by the IMF as the maximum sustainable level.

In order to persuade the IMF to make that concession, the euro nations committed themselves to reducing Greece's debt to below 110 percent by 2022. This is likely to force Greece's government creditors to write down their debt in the medium term -- even though ministers rejected that step on Monday.

There was relief all round after the talks. Two previous marathon meetings had failed to produce an agreement. But the ministers had no choice but to come up with a deal this time.

'The Timetable is Tight'

"This is not just about money," said Euro Group Chairman Jean-Claude Juncker. "This is the promise of a better future for the Greek people and for the euro area as a whole, a break from the era of missed targets and loose implementation towards a new paradigm of steadfast reform momentum, declining debt ratios and a return to growth."

German Finance Minister Wolfgang Schäuble said: "We now have a result that we can submit to our parliaments for discussion and approval." He said he hoped the German parliament would approve the deal by Friday. "The planned timetable is tight."

Officially, the new measures to cut Greece's debt burden haven't been referred to as a third bailout package because they don't involve granting fresh loans. But they will still cost the international creditors money. The package consists of four elements:

■An interest rate cut on debt from the first bailout package. In 2010, euro-zone member states granted Athens bilateral loans totalling €53 billion at an interest rate that has so far been the equivalent of the Euribor reference rate (the Euro Interbank Offered Rate), plus 1.5 points. The latter value is now to be cut to 0.9 points and later to 0.5 points as soon as Athens generates a primary budget surplus -- a measurement which excludes interest payments on sovereign debt -- of 4.5 percent of GDP. It's unclear how much that will save the Greek state, but the sum will amount to billions of euros. The German government's annual loss of revenue will exceed €100 million.

■Athens has also been granted a 10-year interest rate deferral on debt from the second bailout package. In addition, the term of the loans paid to Greece by the temporary rescue fund EFSF in March will be doubled to 30 years from 15 years. According to the EFSF, the move will ease Greece's debt burden by €44 billion.

■The euro-zone ministers also agreed to launch a voluntary debt buyback of Greek debt and will offer private investors 35 cents for each euro of bonds they hold. At present those bonds are being traded at 20 to 30 cents, depending on their maturity. In theory, Greece's debt burden could be eased at a relatively low cost in this way. The problem is that the prices of the bonds are likely to increase because of the buyback announcement, and this could deter investors from selling their bonds. So it's unclear whether the buyback scheme would cut Greece's debt-to-GDP ratio by much. And there's no decision yet on where the money for the buyback will come from.

■The euro-zone central banks promised to hand back €11 billion in profits accruing to them from European Central Bank purchases of discounted Greek government bonds in the secondary market.

This catalogue of measures will likely suffice to avert a Greek bankruptcy for quite some time, assuming its recession doesn't get even worse. But it doesn't solve the Greek dilemma. It has been three years since Athens triggered the debt crisis by admitting it had hidden the extent of its budget deficit. But after two rescue packages, a debt cut for private creditors and countless austerity programs, Greece's debt is still rising. Next year it's expected to reach 190 percent of GDP, according to an estimate by the troika of European Commission, European Central Bank and IMF.

Many economists believe that Greece's state finances can only be reformed in a sustainable way with a second debt cut. But the finance ministers refrained on Monday from taking that step because it would force them to book actual losses on their loans to Greece for the first time.

The German government in particular, which faces an election in the autumn of 2013, doesn't want to go into the campaign facing accusations that it frittered away taxpayers' money. Schäuble denied on Monday that Germany was alone in rejecting a debt writedown. But Germany is the decisive force blocking a cut.

IMF chief Christine Lagarde failed to persuade Schäuble to back a writedown, but the row is likely to flare up again at a later date. And the German minister hinted at a possible concession further down the line.

"When Greece has achieved, or is about to achieve, a primary surplus and fulfilled all of its conditions, we will, if need be, consider further measures for the reduction of the total debt," he said.

http://www.spiegel.de/international/europe/euro-zone-finance-ministers-avert-greek-bankruptcy-in-marathon-talks-a-869487.html

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« Reply #7672 on: Nov 27th, 2012, 10:32am »

Science Daily

Funneling the Sun's Energy: New Way of Harnessing Photons for Electricity Proposed
ScienceDaily (Nov. 26, 2012)

— The quest to harness a broader spectrum of sunlight's energy to produce electricity has taken a radically new turn, with the proposal of a "solar energy funnel" that takes advantage of materials under elastic strain.

"We're trying to use elastic strains to produce unprecedented properties," says Ju Li, an MIT professor and corresponding author of a paper describing the new solar-funnel concept that was published this week in the journal Nature Photonics.

In this case, the "funnel" is a metaphor: Electrons and their counterparts, holes -- which are split off from atoms by the energy of photons -- are driven to the center of the structure by electronic forces, not by gravity as in a household funnel. And yet, as it happens, the material actually does assume the shape of a funnel: It is a stretched sheet of vanishingly thin material, poked down at its center by a microscopic needle that indents the surface and produces a curved, funnel-like shape.

The pressure exerted by the needle imparts elastic strain, which increases toward the sheet's center. The varying strain changes the atomic structure just enough to "tune" different sections to different wavelengths of light -- including not just visible light, but also some of the invisible spectrum, which accounts for much of sunlight's energy.

Li, who holds joint appointments as the Battelle Energy Alliance Professor of Nuclear Science and Engineering and as a professor of materials science and engineering, sees the manipulation of strain in materials as opening a whole new field of research.

Strain -- defined as the pushing or pulling of a material into a different shape -- can be either elastic or inelastic. Xiaofeng Qian, a postdoc in MIT's Department of Nuclear Science and Engineering who was a co-author of the paper, explains that elastic strain corresponds to stretched atomic bonds, while inelastic, or plastic, strain corresponds to broken or switched atomic bonds. A spring that is stretched and released is an example of elastic strain, whereas a piece of crumpled tinfoil is a case of plastic strain.

The new solar-funnel work uses precisely controlled elastic strain to govern electrons' potential in the material. The MIT team used computer modeling to determine the effects of the strain on a thin layer of molybdenum disulfide (MoS2), a material that can form a film just a single molecule (about six angstroms) thick.

It turns out that the elastic strain, and therefore the change that is induced in electrons' potential energy, changes with their distance from the funnel's center -- much like the electron in a hydrogen atom, except this "artificial atom" is much larger in size and is two-dimensional. In the future, the researchers hope to carry out laboratory experiments to confirm the effect.

Unlike graphene, another prominent thin-film material, MoS2 is a natural semiconductor: It has a crucial characteristic, known as a bandgap, that allows it to be made into solar cells or integrated circuits. But unlike silicon, now used in most solar cells, placing the film under strain in the "solar energy funnel" configuration causes its bandgap to vary across the surface, so that different parts of it respond to different colors of light.

In an organic solar cell, the electron-hole pair, called an exciton, moves randomly through the material after being generated by photons, limiting the capacity for energy production. "It's a diffusion process," Qian says, "and it's very inefficient."

But in the solar funnel, he adds, the electronic characteristics of the material "leads them to the collection site [at the film's center], which should be more efficient for charge collection."

The convergence of four trends, Li says, "has opened up this elastic strain engineering field recently": the development of nanostructured materials, such as carbon nanotubes and MoS2, that are capable of retaining large amounts of elastic strain indefinitely; the development of the atomic force microscope and next-generation nanomechanical instruments, which impose force in a controlled manner; electron microscopy and synchrotron facilities, needed to directly measure the elastic strain field; and electronic-structure calculation methods for predicting the effects of elastic strain on a material's physical and chemical properties.

"People knew for a long time that by applying high pressure, you can induce huge changes in material properties," Li says. But more recent work has shown that controlling strain in different directions, such as shear and tension, can yield an enormous variety of properties.

One of the first commercial applications of elastic-strain engineering was the achievement, by IBM and Intel, of a 50 percent improvement in velocity of electrons simply by imparting a 1 percent elastic strain on nanoscale silicon channels in transistors.

The work was done with Ji Feng of Peking University and Cheng-Wei Huang, and was supported by the U.S. National Science Foundation, the U.S. Air Force Office of Scientific Research, and the National Natural Science Foundation of China.

http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2012/11/121126110741.htm

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« Reply #7673 on: Nov 28th, 2012, 10:13am »

Reuters

Mursi decree that sparked crisis catches aides off guard

By Tom Perry
Wed Nov 28, 2012 8:06am EST

CAIRO (Reuters) - The decree that expanded President Mohamed Mursi's powers and plunged Egypt into crisis came as a shock to some of his team; a step with huge legal ramifications, it appeared to have caught even his justice minister off guard.

The surprise move on November 22 has fueled debate on how far the Muslim Brotherhood is dictating policy and ignoring cabinet members and others in an administration that Mursi presents as being inclusive of Egypt's political forces and not dominated by the Islamist party whose electoral muscle put him in office.

Signs that Mursi failed to consult those formally appointed as his advisers on a decree that has set off countrywide protests and violence have given ammunition to critics.

These paint a picture of a man with autocratic impulses who either heeds only his own counsel or, what is more troubling to many, is in thrall to old friends in the Brotherhood, a movement long banned by the old regime and which many Egyptians still view with suspicion as a secretive cabal with radical aims.

That is the very perception he has been trying to fight since he came to office, when the Brotherhood pledged to free Mursi of partisan pressure and he himself promised to be a president for all and to build a broad-based presidential administration. Much of that work has been undone.

"There is a lot obscurity linked to how decisions are taken in the presidency," said Nabil Abdel Fattah, a political scientist. "There is a certain party that is taking this decision," he said. "And the most likely answer is that it is members of the Muslim Brotherhood."

RESIGNATIONS

At least two of Mursi's advisers have resigned in the days since he issued a decree opponents see as a major threat to the country's nascent democracy. One of them, a Christian, had the title of Mursi's assistant for "democratic transformation".

Like most Egyptians, Samir Morkos only learnt of what was in the decree when it was read on state television late on Thursday, he told the London-based Asharq al-Awsat newspaper.

Another adviser, Emad Abdel-Ghaffour, told Reuters he had not been consulted either. Head of the hardline Islamist Nour Party, he is still serving as an adviser on "social outreach". He is in almost daily contact with Mursi, an aide said.

"Our opinion was not sought," Abdel-Ghaffour said of the decree, adding that he had reservations on the text, but like other Islamists, was broadly supportive of it.

It is the second time Mursi has surprised Egyptians with a dramatic move that has challenged perceptions of him as an accidental president - the man who ran only because the Brotherhood's first-choice candidate was disqualified.

Khairat al-Shater, the group's original candidate, has largely stayed out of the public eye since Mursi took office.

Mohamed Habib, a former Brotherhood deputy leader who left the movement last year, said he had no doubt Mursi had consulted the group before making such a controversial move: "It's clear that some were consulted, and others were not," he said.

"He is in great need of their backing, especially when a decision is expected to face attack," he said, referring to the Brotherhood. "He has not and will not break with them until he is on a firm footing in the presidency," Habib told Reuters.

Mursi, a 61-year-old, U.S.-trained engineer, similarly made waves with an August decision that forced into retirement Hosni Mubarak-era generals who had established themselves as a rival source of authority. That time, Mursi enjoyed broad support for sidelining Field Marshal Hussein Tantawi. Not this time however.

OBSCURITY

Critics of Mursi's decree fear it puts at risk the entire democratic transformation in Egypt, run for decades by army-backed autocrats. Among other controversial articles, it shields from judicial review decisions taken by Mursi until a new parliament is elected some time next year.

The Mursi administration has defended the decree as a temporary step needed to smooth the transition to a new system of government. It guarantees new steps to investigate violence against protesters during the uprising against Mubarak.

The president's only public appearance since the decree was to Islamist supporters outside his presidential offices.

Liberal politician Mohamed ElBaradei said Mursi had not given "a whiff of an indication" that he had anything of the sort in mind when they met in the days before the announcement.

"You assume that if somebody, the president, is going to take sweeping measure grabbing all powers that he will at least consult before. There was no consultation at all. That doesn't show the best of good intentions or good will," he told Reuters.

"He didn't mention anything of that kind," added Amr Moussa, the former Arab League secretary general who ran in the presidential election and met Mursi three weeks ago. He was also speaking to Reuters.

Brotherhood spokesmen routinely refer questions about Mursi to the president's staff, saying they cannot speak for him.

Brotherhood spokesman Mahmoud Ghozlan dismissed the accusations that the group shapes presidential policy as one of an endless list of fabrications against the group.

"The president has many legal experts and I think they wrote it," he said, referring to the decree.

Justice Minister Ahmed Mekky, a judge broadly respected for his independence in the Mubarak era, has studiously avoided answering journalists' questions on whether he knew about the decree in advance. He has since expressed his "reservations".


(Additional reporting by Edmund Blair; Editing by Alastair Macdonald)

http://www.reuters.com/article/2012/11/28/us-egypt-decree-mursi-idUSBRE8AQ17C20121128

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« Reply #7674 on: Nov 28th, 2012, 10:17am »

Defense News

U.S. Army Chief: 16,000 Soldiers To Be Involuntarily Separated

Nov. 28, 2012 - 10:28AM
By PAUL McLEARY

U.S. Army Chief of Staff Gen. Ray Odierno is mostly comfortable knowing the Army will have to shed 80,000 soldiers from its 551,000-strong ranks as the force restructures after more than a decade of war. But during a roundtable discussion with Defense News and the Army Times, the chief also said that some troops will have to leave the service against their will.

Up to 16,000 soldiers and 5,000 officers will likely face involuntary separation in order to reach 80,000, Odierno said. The Army has already slashed about 6,000 soldiers from its ranks, closing out fiscal 2012 with 551,000 active-duty soldiers, down from a wartime high of 570,000.

If sequestration hits, however, Odierno said that another 80,000 to 100,000 soldiers will likely have to leave the force, potentially reducing its size to less than 400,000 soldiers for the first time since before World War II.

Although his fate is in the hands of a Congress that hasn’t been able to agree on much over the past several years, “I am hopeful that there is going to be some sort of framework or agreement,” he said. “My guess is that they will push it down the road and make the new Congress decide on it. We will see. Nobody really knows. I feel a bit more confident now that I think that they will come to some agreement on that.”

If there isn’t an agreement by January, Odierno said that the problems will begin immediately with a 12 to 14 percent across-the-board cut on every line item of the budget. “It is just going to come out,” he said.

Since personnel costs are exempt, the savings will have to come elsewhere, leading the Army to potentially default on contracts and stop modernization programs in their tracks. So when building the next budget, for fiscal 2014, “we then have to go into a really deep planning and probably develop a whole new strategy. We have to determine how we rebalance that between 2014 and 2018. That is the real issue,” he added.

In the meantime, there is still the issue of the brigade combat team (BCT) redesign that the service has been kicking around. Odierno said that the analysis has been completed on what the BCTs of the future will look like, and that the decision to move to three maneuver battalions per BCT “is the best thing for us to do as we move forward. I suspect that we will make a final announcement sometime after the first of the year on this. But all of the analysis points toward the best thing for us to do is have a three-battalion brigade. This means that we will have to have fewer brigades,” however.

Some of those BCTs will become regionally aligned brigades (RAB), which will train and deploy in support of regional combatant commanders. The first such brigade, the 2nd BCT of the 1st Infantry Division, will align with the AFRICOM command in 2013.

While the 2/1 deployment will be a pilot test, some leaders are concerned about how ready the force is to start conducting training, advising and other “soft” missions on such short notice.

In remarks at a Nov. 27 Special Operations conference in Alexandria, Va., hosted by the Defense Strategies Institute, Lt. Gen. Charles Cleveland, commander of the U.S. Army’s Special Operations Command, said that while he supports the RAB concept, “I have cautioned the Army about all of those things like [teaching soldiers] language. It’s expensive.”

Cleveland added that in discussions with Army leadership, “I have told them that the first thing you need to do is increase your … exercise funds so you can increase multinational training events,” since building those relationships on the ground will be key to the success of the program.

There is demand for greater American involvement in training and mentoring host nation forces among both allies and potential allies, but the RAB idea is one that might be difficult to maintain in the long term. It is costly to train brigades in the nuances of local languages and cultures, in addition to the constant deployments of elements of those brigades around the globe.

“If nothing else, the Army is failing forward” Cleveland said.

http://www.defensenews.com/article/20121128/DEFREG02/311280002/U-S-Army-Chief-16-000-Soldiers-Involuntarily-Separated?odyssey=tab

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« Reply #7675 on: Nov 28th, 2012, 10:28am »

Science Daily

Biggest Black Hole Blast Discovered: Most Powerful Quasar Outflow Ever Found

ScienceDaily (Nov. 26, 2012)

— Astronomers using ESO's Very Large Telescope (VLT) have discovered a quasar with the most energetic outflow ever seen, at least five times more powerful than any that have been observed to date. Quasars are extremely bright galactic centres powered by supermassive black holes. Many blast huge amounts of material out into their host galaxies, and these outflows play a key role in the evolution of galaxies. But, until now, observed quasar outflows weren't as powerful as predicted by theorists.



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This artist's impression shows the material ejected from
the region around the supermassive black hole in the quasar SDSS J1106+1939.
(Credit: ESO/L. Calçada)



Quasars are the intensely luminous centres of distant galaxies that are powered by huge black holes. This new study has looked at one of these energetic objects -- known as SDSS J1106+1939 -- in great detail, using the X-shooter instrument on ESO's VLT at the Paranal Observatory in Chile [1]. Although black holes are noted for pulling material in, most quasars also accelerate some of the material around them and eject it at high speed.

"We have discovered the most energetic quasar outflow known to date. The rate that energy is carried away by this huge mass of material ejected at high speed from SDSS J1106+1939 is at least equivalent to two million million times the power output of the Sun. This is about 100 times higher than the total power output of the Milky Way galaxy -- it's a real monster of an outflow," says team leader Nahum Arav (Virginia Tech, USA). "This is the first time that a quasar outflow has been measured to have the sort of very high energies that are predicted by theory."

Many theoretical simulations suggest that the impact of these outflows on the galaxies around them may resolve several enigmas in modern cosmology, including how the mass of a galaxy is linked to its central black hole mass, and why there are so few large galaxies in the Universe. However, whether or not quasars were capable of producing outflows powerful enough to produce these phenomena has remained unclear until now [2].

The newly discovered outflow lies about a thousand light-years away from the supermassive black hole at the heart of the quasar SDSS J1106+1939. This outflow is at least five times more powerful than the previous record holder [3]. The team's analysis shows that a mass of approximately 400 times that of the Sun is streaming away from this quasar per year, moving at a speed of 8000 kilometres per second.

"We couldn't have got the high-quality data to make this discovery without the VLT's X-shooter spectrograph," says Benoit Borguet (Virginia Tech, USA), lead author of the new paper. "We were able to explore the region around the quasar in great detail for the first time."

As well as SDSS J1106+1939, the team also observed one other quasar and found that both of these objects have powerful outflows. As these are typical examples of a common, but previously little studied, type of quasars [4], these results should be widely applicable to luminous quasars across the Universe. Borguet and colleagues are currently exploring a dozen more similar quasars to see if this is the case.

"I've been looking for something like this for a decade," says Nahum Arav, "so it's thrilling to finally find one of the monster outflows that have been predicted!"

[1] The team observed SDSS J1106+1939 and J1512+1119 in April 2011 and March 2012 using the X-shooter spectrograph instrument attached to ESO's VLT. By splitting the light up into its component colours and studying in detail the resultant spectrum the astronomers could deduce the velocity and other properties of the material close to the quasar.

[2] The powerful outflow observed in SDSS J1106+1939 carries enough kinetic energy to play a major role in active galaxy feedback processes, which typically require a mechanical power input of roughly 5% of the luminosity of the quasar. The rate at which kinetic energy is being transferred by the outflow is described as its kinetic luminosity.

[3] SDSS J1106+1939 has an outflow with a kinetic luminosity of at least 1046 ergs s−1. The distances of the outflows from the central quasar (300-8000 light-years) was greater than expected suggesting that we observe the outflows far from the region in which we assume them to initially accelerated (0.03-0.4 light-years).

[4] A class known as Broad Absorption Line (BAL) quasars.


http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2012/11/121128093712.htm

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« Reply #7676 on: Nov 28th, 2012, 10:34am »

Blastr.com


By Trent Moore
9:42AM on Nov 26, 2012

Amazing Enterprise replica + 15 more sci-fi gifts costing $10,000 and up


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We all want to get something nice for those sci-fi and fantasy fans close to our hearts this holiday season—though sometimes the pocketbook gets in the way. But what if money wasn't a problem, and you could go all out for some of the coolest gifts of all?

If you have the money to burn, these 16 gifts are sure to warm their hearts (and empty your wallet) if they show up under the tree.

And here's a complete list of all Blastr Holiday Gift Guide features:

more after the jump:
http://blastr.com/2012/11/jetpack-15-extravagant-sc.php

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« Reply #7677 on: Nov 29th, 2012, 10:17am »

New York Times

Photo of Officer Giving Boots to Barefoot Man Warms Hearts Online

By J. DAVID GOODMAN
Published: November 28, 2012


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On a cold November night in Times Square, Officer Lawrence DePrimo was working a counterterrorism post when he encountered an older, barefooted homeless man. The officer disappeared for a moment, then returned with a new pair of boots, and knelt to help the man put them on.

The act of kindness would have gone unnoticed and mostly forgotten, had it not been for a tourist from Arizona.

Her snapshot — taken with her cellphone on Nov. 14 and posted to the New York Police Department’s official Facebook page late Tuesday — has made Officer DePrimo an overnight Internet hero.

By Wednesday evening, the post had been viewed 1.6 million times, and had attracted nearly 275,000 “likes” and more than 16,000 comments — a runaway hit for a Police Department that waded warily onto the social media platform this summer with mostly canned photos of gun seizures, award ceremonies and the police commissioner.

Among all of those posts, the blurry image of Officer DePrimo kneeling to help the shoeless man as he sat on 42nd Street stood out. “This is definitely the most viral,” said Barbara Chen, a spokeswoman for the department who helps manage its Facebook page.

Thousands of people commented on Facebook and Reddit, which linked to the post on Wednesday. Most of them praised Officer Deprimo, yet some suspected the photograph had been staged. Many debated whether the officer’s actions were representative of police officers in general, or were just unusually exceptional.

“I still have a grudge against law enforcement everywhere,” wrote one commenter on the police Facebook page. “But my respects to that fine officer.”

Officer DePrimo, 25, who joined the department in 2010 and lives with his parents on Long Island, was shocked at the attention. He was not warned before the photo went online; the department had not learned which officer was in the picture until hours later.

The officer, normally assigned to the Sixth Precinct in the West Village, readily recalled the encounter. “It was freezing out and you could see the blisters on the man’s feet,” he said in an interview. “I had two pairs of socks and I was still cold.” They started talking; he found out the man’s shoe size: 12.

As the man walked slowly down Seventh Avenue on his heels, Officer DePrimo went into a Skechers shoe store at about 9:30 p.m. “We were just kind of shocked,” said Jose Cano, 28, a manager working at the store that night. “Most of us are New Yorkers and we just kind of pass by that kind of thing. Especially in this neighborhood.”

Mr. Cano volunteered to give the officer his employee discount to bring down the regular $100 price of the all-weather boots to a little more than $75. The officer has kept the receipt in his vest since then, he said, “to remind me that sometimes people have it worse.”

The photo was taken by Jennifer Foster, a civilian communications director for the Pinal County Sheriff’s Office in Arizona. She said the moment resonated for personal reasons: She remembered as a young girl seeing her father, a 32-year veteran of the Phoenix police force, buy food for a homeless man.

“He squatted down, just like this officer,” she said.

After returning from vacation, she described the picture in an e-mail to the New York Police Department, thinking of it as a sort of a compliment card. She never expected the picture to end up online — “I’m not on Facebook,” she said — but a department official e-mailed her and asked if she would send along the photo so it could be posted.

As for the man he helped, Officer DePrimo never got his name, and he could not be immediately located on Wednesday. “He was the most polite gentleman I had met,” the officer said, adding that the man’s face lit up at the sight of the boots. Officer DePrimo offered him a cup of coffee, but “as soon as the boots were on him, he went on his way, and I just went back to my post.”

http://www.nytimes.com/2012/11/29/nyregion/photo-of-officer-giving-boots-to-barefoot-man-warms-hearts-online.html?_r=0

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« Reply #7678 on: Nov 29th, 2012, 10:28am »

Wired

Strange, Beautiful and Unexpected: Planned Cities Seen From Space

By Betsy Mason
November 29, 2012 | 6:30 am
Categories: Earth Science



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Brasília, Brazil



Most planned cities probably aren't designed with the view from space in mind, but some of them create incredible patterns on the landscape that can only be truly appreciated from above.

Planned cities are laid out all at once and built from scratch. They are designed with a purpose in mind: to optimize traffic flow, or to maximize access to green space or to keep everyone in their proper place. They are born from many different inspirations. Some are a compromise between two cities vying to be their country's capitol, built in between in neutral territory on previously undeveloped land. Some are built to keep workers near a nuclear power plant or copper mine in the middle of nowhere. Some are intended to be a utopia -- with public gardens, promenades, throughways and harmony -- to cure the "urban disease" rampant in most ad hoc cities.

These cities, towns and communities can be found all over the world and throughout history, hundreds of years into the past and several decades into the future. Here are some of the best views of planned cities from space.

Above:

Brasília, Brazil

Brazil's capital is one of the best known planned cities in the world. From space it looks like a bird, or a plane... or Superman.

Brasília was almost entirely built in 41 months, at great expense, and opened in April 1960. It was intended to be a more central, neutrally located capital for the country whose previous capital, Rio de Janeiro, sits on the southeastern coast in the midst of much of the country's commercial activity. Today, Brasilia's greater metropolitan area is home to nearly 4 million people. It is one of the largest cities in the world that was built since 1900.

NASA's EO-1 satellite took this natural-color image in August 2001.

gallery after the jump:
http://www.wired.com/wiredscience/2012/11/planned-cities-from-space/

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« Reply #7679 on: Nov 29th, 2012, 10:31am »

Reuters

Damascus fighting cuts off Internet, airport

By Oliver Holmes
Thu Nov 29, 2012 11:17am EST

BEIRUT (Reuters) - Syrian rebels battled forces loyal to President Bashar al-Assad just outside Damascus on Thursday, forcing the closure of the main airport road, and the Dubai-based Emirates airline suspended flights to the Syrian capital.

Residents also reported Internet connections in the capital were down and mobile and land telephone lines working only sporadically in what appeared to be the worst disruption to communications in Syria since an uprising began 20 months ago.

The past two weeks have seen rebels overrunning army bases across Syria, exposing Assad's loss of control in northern and eastern regions despite the devastating air power that he has used to bombard opposition strongholds.

Rebels and activists said the fighting along the road to Damascus airport, southeast of the capital, was heavier in that area than at any other time in the conflict.

The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, a opposition monitoring group, said clashes were particularly intense in Babbila, a suburb bordering the insurgent stronghold of Tadamon.

Nabeel al-Ameer, a spokesman for the rebel Military Council in Damascus, said that a large number of army reinforcements had arrived along the road after three days of scattered clashes ending with rebels seizing side streets to the north of it.

"There are no clashes directly around the airport; the fighting is about 3 or 4 kilometers away," he said via Skype, adding that rebels had taken control of many secondary roads and were expected to advance towards the airport.

He said that he hoped the proximity of the rebels to the airport would dissuade authorities from using it to import military equipment, but the priority now was to block the road.

A Syrian security source told Reuters on condition of anonymity that the army had started a "cleansing operation" in the capital to confront rebel advances.

Residents said the Internet in Damascus crashed in the early afternoon and mobile and land telephone lines were functioning only intermittently.

A blog post on Renesys, a U.S. company which tracks Internet traffic worldwide, said that at 12:26 p.m. in Damascus, Syria's international Internet connectivity shut down completely.

Emirates said it was suspending daily flights to Damascus "until further notice", but other airlines continued operations.

Airport sources in Cairo said an Egypt Air flight that left at 1:30 p.m. (1130 GMT) had landed in Damascus as scheduled.

"The Egypt Air plane has arrived ... and passengers are all safe but the pilot was instructed to take off back to Cairo without passengers if he felt that the situation there is not good to stay for longer," an official at Cairo airport said.

Elsewhere in Damascus, warplanes bombed Kafr Souseh and Daraya, two neighborhoods that fringe the center of the city where rebels have managed to hide out and ambush army units, according to opposition activists.

"NOT LAST DAYS YET"

A senior European Union official said that Assad appeared to be preparing for a military showdown around Damascus, possibly by isolating the city with a network of checkpoints.

"The rebels are gaining ground but it is still rather slow. We are not witnessing the last days yet," the official said on condition of anonymity.

"On the outskirts of Damascus, there are mortars and more attacks. The regime is thinking of protecting itself ... with checkpoints in the next few days ... (It) seems the regime is preparing for major battle on Damascus."

In the north of the country, rebel units launched an offensive to seize an army base close to the main north-south highway that would allow them to block troop movements and cut Assad's main supply route to Aleppo, Syria's biggest city.

The Observatory said that rebel units from around Idlib province massed early on Thursday morning to attack Wadi al-Deif, a base east of the rebel-held town of Maarat al-Numan.

Wadi al-Deif has been a thorn in the side of rebel units who first besieged the station in October but met fierce resistance from government forces, backed up by air strikes.

Assad is fighting an insurgency that grew out of peaceful demonstrations for democratic reform but escalated, after a military crackdown on protesters, into a civil war in which 40,000 people have been killed.

Most foreign powers have condemned Assad but stopped short of arming rebel fighters as they fear heavy weapons could make their way into the hands of radical Islamist units, who have grown increasingly prominent in the insurgency.

Rebels decry their supporters for not providing them with surface-to-air missiles that they say they need to counter the air force. But recent looting of anti-aircraft missiles from army bases has allowed them to shoot down helicopters and jets.

"So far, there is no evidence that any of the surface-to-air missiles used to date have come from outside Syria," said Peter Bouckaert, emergencies director at Human Rights Watch.

"The limited number of surface-to-air missiles that have shown up all appear to have come from Syrian military stock captured by the armed opposition."

He said the number of these missiles in rebel hands was probably over 20 but that will rise significantly as rebels are capturing military bases on an almost-daily basis.

The relatively small number of anti-aircraft missiles looted so far means that many rebel-controlled areas of the country remain vulnerable to air strikes. The Observatory said 15 citizens, including children and women, were killed during a bombing in Aleppo's Ansari district on Thursday.

Activist video footage showed the bodies of at least four children, wrapped in red blankets and apparently wearing pyjamas. Another video showed the immediate aftermath of the attack, with the bodies of children in the street and covered in cement dust. Half of one young boy's head was missing.


(Additional reporting by Dominic Evans and Erika Solomon in Beirut; Yasmine Saleh in Cairo, Praveen Menon in Dubai and Justyna Pawlak in Brussels; Editing by Mark Heinrich)

http://www.reuters.com/article/2012/11/29/us-syria-crisis-idUSBRE8AJ1FK20121129

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