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 veryhotthread  Author  Topic: Stuff & Nonsense  (Read 127025 times)
MysterEd
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xx Re: Stuff & Nonsense
« Reply #7755 on: Dec 17th, 2012, 4:19pm »

on Dec 17th, 2012, 3:47pm, Swamprat wrote:
From New York Lily:
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wink


My sources have translated that cookie. It's too alarming to share. grin
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HAL9000
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xx Re: Stuff & Nonsense
« Reply #7756 on: Dec 17th, 2012, 6:31pm »

I understand that it translates to the 'do not use after' date for the universe.

HAL
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LoneGunMan
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xx Re: Stuff & Nonsense
« Reply #7757 on: Dec 17th, 2012, 7:00pm »

on Dec 17th, 2012, 4:19pm, Katterfelto wrote:
My sources have translated that cookie. It's too alarming to share. grin


Kat,
The one on the left is one of those phoney Oreo's made by Hydrox!

Lone
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De Opresso Libre! I Have Been many Men, In Many Times, I Shall Be Again!
\"The real destroyer of the liberties of the people is he who spreads among them bounties, donations and benefits.\"
Plutarch



MysterEd
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xx Re: Stuff & Nonsense
« Reply #7758 on: Dec 17th, 2012, 7:13pm »

on Dec 17th, 2012, 7:00pm, LoneGunMan wrote:
Kat,
The one on the left is one of those phoney Oreo's made by Hydrox!
Lone


Nah, it's CGI. laugh
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WingsofCrystal
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xx Re: Stuff & Nonsense
« Reply #7759 on: Dec 18th, 2012, 10:17am »

Reuters

Cerberus to sell gunmaker Freedom Group after shootings

By Sakthi Prasad
Tue Dec 18, 2012 10:16am EST

(Reuters) - Following pressure from a major investor, U.S. private equity firm Cerberus Capital Management is selling gunmaker Freedom Group, whose BushAR 15 rifle was used in the Connecticut school massacre last week.

The California State Teachers' Retirement System (CalSTRS) said on Monday it was reviewing its investment with Cerberus in the wake of Friday's shooting, in which a gunman killed 20 children and six adults at Sandy Hook Elementary School and then took his own life.

Before going to the school, the gunman, Adam Lanza, 20, shot dead his mother in the home they shared, according to law enforcement officials.

In addition to Cerberus, some gun retailers also took steps.

Dick's Sporting Goods (DKS.N) pulled all guns from its store closest to the site of the massacre in Newtown, Connecticut, and suspended the sale of certain kinds of semi-automatic rifles from its chains nationwide.

Wal-Mart Stores Inc (WMT.N) took down an informational website about semi-automatic Bushmaster rifles.

Cabela's Inc (CAB.N) continued to sell Bushmaster AR-15 rifles on its website.

CalSTRS, the second-largest pension fund in the United States, had invested $751.4 million with Cerberus by the end of March 2012, according to its website.

Cerberus said on Tuesday it would hire a financial adviser to sell its interests in Freedom Group and return the proceeds to investors.

The private equity firm expressed shock and grief at the killings in Newtown but added that Freedom Group was not responsible.

"We do not believe that Freedom Group or any single company or individual can prevent senseless violence or the illegal use or procurement of firearms and ammunition," it said.

Cerberus bought firearms maker Bushmaster in 2006 and later merged it with other gun companies to create Freedom Group, which reported net sales of $677 million for the nine months ended September, up from $565 million a year earlier.

Founded in 1992 by Stephen Feinberg and William Richter, New York-based Cerberus has more than $20 billion under management and shares its name with a mythical three-headed dog which in Greek mythology guards the entrance to the underworld.

Besides Cerberus, a few other private equity firms also have stakes in firearms companies. Sciens Capital Management, for example, jointly owns small arms maker Colt Defense.

In an opinion piece published on Monday in Slate magazine, former New York Governor Eliot Spitzer said pressure should be stepped up on the owners of gun companies, like Cerberus, to change the way they operate.

"It is time to determine pension fund by pension fund who has invested in Cerberus and bring pressure on those investors either to get out of Cerberus or have Cerberus change the way it runs the gun industry," Spitzer wrote. (link.reuters.com/vuf74t)

Popular New York Times columnist Andrew Ross Sorkin, in an opinion piece that was critical of private equity investments in arms makers, took exception to the fact that Freedom Group and other notable gun manufacturers had not commented on the tragedy. (link.reuters.com/zuf74t)

Both opinion pieces were published before Cerberus's announcement.

GUN CONTROL DEBATE

Cerberus said the Newtown tragedy was a "watershed event" that has raised the national debate on gun control "to an unprecedented level."

However, it added the firm was responsible for only investment decisions it makes on behalf of its clients and does not play the role of "statesmen or policy makers."

"It is not our role to take positions, or attempt to shape or influence the gun control policy debate. That is the job of our federal and state legislators," it said.

U.S. lawmakers have not approved a major new federal gun law since 1994, and a ban on certain semi-automatic rifles known as assault weapons expired in 2004.

The Newtown massacre has led President Barack Obama and some congressional leaders to reconsider what has been a largely hands-off approach to gun control in recent years.

The percentage of Americans favoring tough gun regulations rose significantly after the killings at the Connecticut school, a Reuters/Ipsos poll showed on Monday.

(Editing by Hans-Juergen Peters, Mark Potter and John Wallace)

http://www.reuters.com/article/2012/12/18/us-cerberus-freedomgroup-idUSBRE8BH08F20121218

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xx Re: Stuff & Nonsense
« Reply #7760 on: Dec 18th, 2012, 10:21am »

Der Spiegel

Mystery in Iraq
Are US Munitions to Blame for Basra Birth Defects?

By Alexander Smoltczyk
December 18 2012

It sounds at first as if the old man were drunk. Or perhaps as though he had been reading Greek myths. But Askar Bin Said doesn't read anything, especially not books, and there is no alcohol in Basra. In fact, he says, he saw the creatures he describes with his own eyes: "Some had only one eye in the forehead. Or two heads. One had a tail like a skinned lamb. Another one looked like a perfectly normal child, but with a monkey's face. Or the girl whose legs had grown together, half fish, half human."

The babies Askar Bin Said describes were brought to him. He washed them and wrapped them in shrouds, and then he buried them in the dry soil, littered with bits of plastic and can lids, of his own cemetery, which has been in his family for five generations. It's a cemetery only for children.

Though they are small, the graves are crowded so tightly together that they are almost on top of one another. They look as if someone had overturned toy wheelbarrows full of cement and then scratched the names and dates of death into it before it hardened. In many cases, there isn't even room for the birth date. But it doesn't really matter, because in most cases the two dates are the same.

There are several thousand graves in the cemetery, and another five to 10 are added every day. The large number of graves is certainly conspicuous, says Bin Said. But, he adds, there "really isn't an explanation" for why there are so many dead and deformed newborn babies in Basra.

Others, though, do have an idea why. According to a study published in September in the Bulletin of Environmental Contamination and Toxicology, a professional journal based in the southwestern German city of Heidelberg, there was a sevenfold increase in the number of birth defects in Basra between 1994 and 2003. Of 1,000 live births, 23 had birth defects.

Double and Triple Cancers

Similarly high values are reported from Fallujah, a city that was fiercely contested in the 2003 war. According to the Heidelberg study, the concentration of lead in the milk teeth of sick children from Basra was almost three times as high as comparable values in areas where there was no fighting.

Never before has such a high rate of neural tube defects ("open back") been recorded in babies as in Basra, and the rate continues to rise. The number of hydrocephalus ("water on the brain") cases among newborns is six times as high in Basra as it is in the United States, the study concludes.

Jawad al-Ali has worked as a cancer specialist at the Sadr Teaching Hospital (formerly the Saddam Hospital), housed in a sinister-looking building in Basra, since 1991. He remembers the period after the first Gulf war over Kuwait. "It isn't just that the number of cancer cases suddenly increased. We also had double and triple cancers, that is, patients with tumors on both kidneys and in the stomach. And there were also familial clusters, that is, entire families that were affected." He is convinced that this relates to the use of uranium ammunition. "There is a connection between cancer and radiation. Sometimes it takes 10 or 20 years before the consequences manifest themselves."

The term uranium ammunition refers to projectiles whose alloys or cores are made with "depleted," or weakly radioactive uranium, also known as DU. When German soldiers are deployed overseas, they are given the following information: "Uranium munitions are armor-piercing projectiles with a core of depleted uranium. Because of its high density, this core provides the projectile with very high momentum and enables it to pierce the armor of combat tanks."

When DU explodes, it produces a very fine uranium dust. When children play near wrecked tanks, they can absorb this dust through their skin, their mouths and their airways. A 2002 study at the University of Bremen in northern Germany found that chromosomal changes had occurred in Gulf war veterans who had come into contact with uranium ammunition.

The German Defense Ministry counters that it isn't the radiation that constitutes a health threat, but the "chemical toxicity of uranium."

Living in a Garbage Dump

London's Royal Society presented one of the most comprehensive studies on the issue in 2002, but it only addressed the potential threat to soldiers. It concluded that the risk of radiation damage is "very low," as is the risk of chronic kidney toxicity from uranium dust.

This may reassure soldiers, but not Mohammed Haidar. He lives in Kibla, a district in Basra which, like others in the city, resembles nothing so much as a garbage dump. Kibla is a neighborhood of squalid, make-shift shops and shacks -- with shimmering, greenish liquid flowing through open sewers and plastic containers filled with rotting material.

Haidar, who teaches mathematics at a high school, could afford to live in a better neighborhood. But he spends every spare dinar on treatment for his daughter Rukya. The three-year-old is sitting on his lap, resembling a ventriloquist's doll. She is an adorable little girl with pigtails and ribbons in her hair. But she can't walk or speak properly.

When Haidar turns his daughter around, two openings in her back become visible. She has a cleft spine, the externally visible sign of hydrocephalus, as well as an implanted drainage tube to remove excess cerebrospinal fluid. In Germany, children with cases like hers are often treated with prenatal surgery, but not in Basra. In fact, Haidar and his wife are glad that Rukya is even alive. She is their first and only child. "We both grew up in Basra. I hold the United States responsible. They used DU. My child isn't an isolated case," Haidar says.

The term "DU" seems to be just as widespread in Basra as birth defects are.

DU ammunition was used twice in the Basra district: outside the city in the 1991 war, and in the city proper in 2003, when British troops were advancing toward the airport. West Basra is the urban district with the highest incidence of leukemia among infants.

"Those who were children in the first war are adults today," says Khairiya Abu Yassin of the city's environmental agency. She estimates that 200 tons of DU ammunition were used in Basra. The Defense Ministry in London claims that British troops used only about two tons of DU ammunition during the war. Either way, the remains of tanks destroyed in the war with the help of DU ammunition littered the streets until 2008.

Propaganda Fodder

It was impossible to keep children and salvagers away from the wrecks, says Abu Yassin. "We installed signs that read: Caution -- Radiation. But people don't take a threat seriously when it doesn't act like the bullet from a gun."

DU is a sensitive issue, and not every doctor in Basra is willing to go on record commenting on it. The reasons for the reticence have to do with the dictatorial regime of Saddam Hussein: The alleged radiation threat coming from remnants of armor-piercing ammunition provided popular propaganda fodder.

In the United States, no major newspaper has yet published a story on the genetic disorders in Fallujah. Britain's Guardian, on the other hand, criticized the silence of "the West," calling it a moral failure, and cited chemist Chris Busby, who said that the Fallujah health crisis represented "the highest rate of genetic damage in any population ever studied." Busby is the co-author of two studies on the subject.

Still, it is difficult to precisely pinpoint the cause of the defects. Spinal chord abnormality can also be triggered by a folic acid deficiency at the beginning of pregnancy, for example. Furthermore, very few Iraqis can afford regular pregnancy exams. As a result, many defective embryos are carried to full term, in contrast to what normally happens in Europe or the US.

Wolfgang Hoffmann, an epidemiologist at the University of Greifswald in northeastern Germany, has been collaborating with fellow scientists in Basra for years. "Birth defects often look very disturbing in photos," he says. "But they are always isolated cases and are not necessarily useful for identifying trends."

Hoffmann cites the lack of comprehensive data and questions the epidemiological reliability of reports. He does believe, however, that indications of increasing rates of cancer in Basra should be taken very seriously, partly because the data for Basra is more reliable.

more after the jump:
http://www.spiegel.de/international/world/researchers-studying-high-rates-of-cancer-and-birth-defects-in-iraq-a-873225.html

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xx Re: Stuff & Nonsense
« Reply #7761 on: Dec 18th, 2012, 10:27am »

Wired

Crowdsourced Cinema: Now You Can Pick What Plays at Your Local Theater
By Hugh Hart
12.18.12 6:30 AM

One year to the month after getting a rejection letter from the Sundance Film Festival, director Bill Sebastian stood shivering in the lobby of a Los Angeles theater debuting his movie on a chilly December night. “This is kind of nerve-wracking,” Sebastian said in between hugs and handshakes with arriving guests. He may have been anxious about how people would react to QWERTY, his nerd-centric rom-com with Rocky overtones set in the world of championship Scrabble. But at least he didn’t have to worry about losing his shirt over the cost of renting a screening room at Lamelle Theatres.

That’s because Sebastian and his team booked the gig themselves using the Tugg.com pay-in-advance content-and-reservations system that brokers DIY screenings at venues ranging from indie theater houses to AMC multiplexes. Borrowing a page from Kickstarter, the site allows anyone with a functional credit card to organize screenings and if customers buy enough tickets to cover all the screening’s expenses, the event gets confirmed. If advance ticket sales fall short, the screening gets canceled and nobody loses money.

“We wanted to set up some theatrical screenings without having to shell out a lot of money to ‘four-wall’ a theater or bang our head against the walls trying to get a real theatrical deal, which is almost impossible these days for a film like this,” Sebastian explained.

Waiting in line for popcorn with his wife and daughter, moviegoer Barry Grey said he’d gotten an e-mail from QWERTY star Dana Pupnik, an old friend, pointing him to the Tugg site. Though he could have waited for a DVD version of the film, “I don’t want to see them movies on the small screen if I can avoid it. Who wants to sit alone and watch a movie when you can be among people?”

Tugg co-founder Nicolas Gonda says the popularity of his site points to a reversal in the viewer migration from cineplex to living room that has dominated entertainment over the past few years. “When you’re watching a film that you love with a captivated audience by your side — nothing compares to that.”

The QWERTY one-nighter — and events like it — represent a hankering for customized cinema that might just re-shape the way movies are curated and consumed. Hollywood’s traditional food chain still dictates when, where and how most people see films on a big screen, but that top-down approach now bumps up against an emerging have-it-your-way cinema phenomenon that owes much of its vigor to the same digitally powered economies of scale that transformed music distribution: Freed from the need to manufacture and move around bulky physical objects, managing movie content is a hell of a lot cheaper than it used to be.

Empowered by new tech tools, self-appointed tastemakers can now stage everything from theme nights to esoteric documentaries with one goal in mind: suck people out of their houses and into dark rooms where they can sit with like-minded film fans and experience a big picture on a giant screen.

more after the jump:
http://www.wired.com/underwire/2012/12/tugg-custom-cinema/all/

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xx Re: Stuff & Nonsense
« Reply #7762 on: Dec 18th, 2012, 10:32am »

Science Daily

Plumes Across the Pacific Deliver Thousands of Microbial Species to North American West Coast

Dec. 17, 2012

— A surprising number of microorganisms -- 99 percent more kinds than had been reported in findings published just four months ago -- are leaping the biggest gap on the planet. Hitching rides in the upper troposphere, they're making their way from Asia across the Pacific Ocean and landing in North America.



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Plumes of dust, one in April and the other in May 2011, originated in Asia and traveled west
– high in the troposphere – across the Pacific Ocean to the West coast where they were detected by an observatory in central Oregon.
Scientists used models to determine the back trajectories.
(Credit: U of Washington)



For the first time researchers have been able to gather enough biomass in the form of DNA to apply molecular methods to samples from two large dust plumes originating in Asia in the spring of 2011. The scientists detected more than 2,100 unique species compared to only 18 found in the very same plumes using traditional methods of culturing, results they published in July.

"The long-range transport and surprising level of species richness in the upper atmosphere overturns traditional paradigms in aerobiology," says David J. Smith, who recently earned his doctorate at the University of Washington in biology and astrobiology. He's lead author of a paper in the current issue of the journal Applied and Environmental Microbiology.

"It's a small world. Global wind circulation can move Earth's smallest types of life to just about anywhere," Smith said.

It's been estimated that about 7.1 million tons (64 teragrams) of aerosols -- dust, pollutants and other atmospheric particles, including microorganisms -- cross the Pacific each year. The aerosols are carried by wind storms into the upper reaches of the troposphere. The troposphere, the layer of air closest to earth up to about 11 miles (18 kilometers), is where almost all our weather occurs.

Co-author Daniel Jaffe, professor at UW Bothell, has previously documented especially large plumes of aerosols in the troposphere making the trans-Pacific trip in seven to 10 days. The recent findings are based on two such plumes, one in April and the other in May of 2011, detected at Mount Bachelor in the Cascade Mountains of central Oregon.

Most of the microorganisms -- about half were bacterial and the other half fungal -- originated from soils and were either dead on arrival or harmless to humans. A few fungal species have been associated previously with crop wilt but scientists had no way of determining if any crops were affected during either plume event.

Most of the species in the plumes can be found in low, background levels on the West Coast. The plumes, however, brought elevated levels of such organisms leading the scientists to say that it may be useful to think about microorganisms as air pollution: microorganisms that are unnoticed in background levels might be more relevant in concentrated doses.

"I was very surprised at the concentrations. One might expect the concentrations of cells to decrease with altitude based on fallout and dilution," Smith said. "But during these plume events, the atmosphere was pooling these cells just as it does with other kinds of air pollution."

Interestingly, Smith says, two of the three most common families of bacteria in the plumes are known for their ability to form spores in ways that they can hibernate safely during harsh conditions, making them especially well adapted to high altitude transport.

"I think we're getting close to calling the atmosphere an ecosystem," Smith said. "Until recently, most people would refer to it as a conveyor belt, or a transient place where life moves through. But the discovery of so many cells potentially able to adapt to traveling long distances at high altitudes challenges the old classification."

Cells also can interact with their high-altitude environment, for example, becoming the nucleus for rain drops and snow flakes and influencing the amount of precipitation that falls. Other scientists estimate that 30 percent of global precipitation stems from microbes.

On the other hand, scientists have yet to see evidence of metabolism or growth of microorganisms while aloft and there's a limited amount of time that any organism might reside there.

Sampling the upper troposphere for microorganisms in the past has been a spotty effort using aircraft and balloons, Smith said

"Because it is so difficult to get samples, I argue it's probably the last biological environment on the planet to be explored," he said.

Mount Bachelor, like many other mountains in the Cascades, has a peak tall enough to pierce the upper troposphere. Unlike other mountains in the Cascades, however, the top of Mount Bachelor is a far more accessible place for an observatory because a ski area exists there. There's power and bringing equipment and personnel to the observatory is not a major undertaking, you just take the ski lift.

Funding for the work came from the National Science Foundation, National Geographic Society, NASA's Astrobiology Institute, the UW's NASA Space Grant Consortium and the UW Department of Biology.

Other co-authors are Peter Ward and Hilkka Timonen with the UW and UW Bothell respectively, Dale Griffin with the U.S. Geological Survey, Michele Birmele and Michael Roberts with NASA and Kevin Perry with the University of Utah.

http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2012/12/121217152711.htm

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titan
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xx Re: Stuff & Nonsense
« Reply #7763 on: Dec 18th, 2012, 11:31am »


Deserving of note for those who have limited knowledge about the impact of environmental health issues and the ability of exogenous factors to impact human DNA.

on Dec 18th, 2012, 10:21am, WingsofCrystal wrote:
Der Spiegel

Mystery in Iraq
Are US Munitions to Blame for Basra Birth Defects?

By Alexander Smoltczyk
December 18 2012

It sounds at first as if the old man were drunk. Or perhaps as though he had been reading Greek myths. But Askar Bin Said doesn't read anything, especially not books, and there is no alcohol in Basra. In fact, he says, he saw the creatures he describes with his own eyes: "Some had only one eye in the forehead. Or two heads. One had a tail like a skinned lamb. Another one looked like a perfectly normal child, but with a monkey's face. Or the girl whose legs had grown together, half fish, half human."

The babies Askar Bin Said describes were brought to him. He washed them and wrapped them in shrouds, and then he buried them in the dry soil, littered with bits of plastic and can lids, of his own cemetery, which has been in his family for five generations. It's a cemetery only for children.

Though they are small, the graves are crowded so tightly together that they are almost on top of one another. They look as if someone had overturned toy wheelbarrows full of cement and then scratched the names and dates of death into it before it hardened. In many cases, there isn't even room for the birth date. But it doesn't really matter, because in most cases the two dates are the same.

There are several thousand graves in the cemetery, and another five to 10 are added every day. The large number of graves is certainly conspicuous, says Bin Said. But, he adds, there "really isn't an explanation" for why there are so many dead and deformed newborn babies in Basra.

Others, though, do have an idea why. According to a study published in September in the Bulletin of Environmental Contamination and Toxicology, a professional journal based in the southwestern German city of Heidelberg, there was a sevenfold increase in the number of birth defects in Basra between 1994 and 2003. Of 1,000 live births, 23 had birth defects.

Double and Triple Cancers

Similarly high values are reported from Fallujah, a city that was fiercely contested in the 2003 war. According to the Heidelberg study, the concentration of lead in the milk teeth of sick children from Basra was almost three times as high as comparable values in areas where there was no fighting.

Never before has such a high rate of neural tube defects ("open back") been recorded in babies as in Basra, and the rate continues to rise. The number of hydrocephalus ("water on the brain") cases among newborns is six times as high in Basra as it is in the United States, the study concludes.

Jawad al-Ali has worked as a cancer specialist at the Sadr Teaching Hospital (formerly the Saddam Hospital), housed in a sinister-looking building in Basra, since 1991. He remembers the period after the first Gulf war over Kuwait. "It isn't just that the number of cancer cases suddenly increased. We also had double and triple cancers, that is, patients with tumors on both kidneys and in the stomach. And there were also familial clusters, that is, entire families that were affected." He is convinced that this relates to the use of uranium ammunition. "There is a connection between cancer and radiation. Sometimes it takes 10 or 20 years before the consequences manifest themselves."

The term uranium ammunition refers to projectiles whose alloys or cores are made with "depleted," or weakly radioactive uranium, also known as DU. When German soldiers are deployed overseas, they are given the following information: "Uranium munitions are armor-piercing projectiles with a core of depleted uranium. Because of its high density, this core provides the projectile with very high momentum and enables it to pierce the armor of combat tanks."

When DU explodes, it produces a very fine uranium dust. When children play near wrecked tanks, they can absorb this dust through their skin, their mouths and their airways. A 2002 study at the University of Bremen in northern Germany found that chromosomal changes had occurred in Gulf war veterans who had come into contact with uranium ammunition.

The German Defense Ministry counters that it isn't the radiation that constitutes a health threat, but the "chemical toxicity of uranium."

Living in a Garbage Dump

London's Royal Society presented one of the most comprehensive studies on the issue in 2002, but it only addressed the potential threat to soldiers. It concluded that the risk of radiation damage is "very low," as is the risk of chronic kidney toxicity from uranium dust.

This may reassure soldiers, but not Mohammed Haidar. He lives in Kibla, a district in Basra which, like others in the city, resembles nothing so much as a garbage dump. Kibla is a neighborhood of squalid, make-shift shops and shacks -- with shimmering, greenish liquid flowing through open sewers and plastic containers filled with rotting material.

Haidar, who teaches mathematics at a high school, could afford to live in a better neighborhood. But he spends every spare dinar on treatment for his daughter Rukya. The three-year-old is sitting on his lap, resembling a ventriloquist's doll. She is an adorable little girl with pigtails and ribbons in her hair. But she can't walk or speak properly.

When Haidar turns his daughter around, two openings in her back become visible. She has a cleft spine, the externally visible sign of hydrocephalus, as well as an implanted drainage tube to remove excess cerebrospinal fluid. In Germany, children with cases like hers are often treated with prenatal surgery, but not in Basra. In fact, Haidar and his wife are glad that Rukya is even alive. She is their first and only child. "We both grew up in Basra. I hold the United States responsible. They used DU. My child isn't an isolated case," Haidar says.

The term "DU" seems to be just as widespread in Basra as birth defects are.

DU ammunition was used twice in the Basra district: outside the city in the 1991 war, and in the city proper in 2003, when British troops were advancing toward the airport. West Basra is the urban district with the highest incidence of leukemia among infants.

"Those who were children in the first war are adults today," says Khairiya Abu Yassin of the city's environmental agency. She estimates that 200 tons of DU ammunition were used in Basra. The Defense Ministry in London claims that British troops used only about two tons of DU ammunition during the war. Either way, the remains of tanks destroyed in the war with the help of DU ammunition littered the streets until 2008.

Propaganda Fodder

It was impossible to keep children and salvagers away from the wrecks, says Abu Yassin. "We installed signs that read: Caution -- Radiation. But people don't take a threat seriously when it doesn't act like the bullet from a gun."

DU is a sensitive issue, and not every doctor in Basra is willing to go on record commenting on it. The reasons for the reticence have to do with the dictatorial regime of Saddam Hussein: The alleged radiation threat coming from remnants of armor-piercing ammunition provided popular propaganda fodder.

In the United States, no major newspaper has yet published a story on the genetic disorders in Fallujah. Britain's Guardian, on the other hand, criticized the silence of "the West," calling it a moral failure, and cited chemist Chris Busby, who said that the Fallujah health crisis represented "the highest rate of genetic damage in any population ever studied." Busby is the co-author of two studies on the subject.

Still, it is difficult to precisely pinpoint the cause of the defects. Spinal chord abnormality can also be triggered by a folic acid deficiency at the beginning of pregnancy, for example. Furthermore, very few Iraqis can afford regular pregnancy exams. As a result, many defective embryos are carried to full term, in contrast to what normally happens in Europe or the US.

Wolfgang Hoffmann, an epidemiologist at the University of Greifswald in northeastern Germany, has been collaborating with fellow scientists in Basra for years. "Birth defects often look very disturbing in photos," he says. "But they are always isolated cases and are not necessarily useful for identifying trends."

Hoffmann cites the lack of comprehensive data and questions the epidemiological reliability of reports. He does believe, however, that indications of increasing rates of cancer in Basra should be taken very seriously, partly because the data for Basra is more reliable.

more after the jump:
http://www.spiegel.de/international/world/researchers-studying-high-rates-of-cancer-and-birth-defects-in-iraq-a-873225.html

Crystal


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xx Re: Stuff & Nonsense
« Reply #7764 on: Dec 19th, 2012, 10:13am »

on Dec 18th, 2012, 11:31am, titan wrote:
Deserving of note for those who have limited knowledge about the impact of environmental health issues and the ability of exogenous factors to impact human DNA.





Good morning Titan,

That article will make you pause.

Crystal


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xx Re: Stuff & Nonsense
« Reply #7765 on: Dec 19th, 2012, 10:16am »

Reuters

GM to buy stake from Treasury, government may lose billions

By Ben Klayman
Wed Dec 19, 2012 11:13am EST

(Reuters) - General Motors Co (GM.N) said it will buy back 200 million of its shares from the U.S. Treasury and the government plans to sell its remaining stake within 15 months, all but assuring a multibillion dollar loss.

GM Chief Financial Officer Dan Ammann said on Wednesday the automaker will pay $5.5 billion, or $27.50 a share, for the Treasury-held shares in a deal expected to close by year-end. That represents a 7.9 percent premium on Tuesday's closing price.

GM shares rose 8.2 percent to $27.58 on Wednesday.

Treasury said it will sell its remaining stake of about 300.1 million shares "through various means in an orderly fashion", and could begin the process as soon as January.

The auto giant, dubbed "Government Motors," received about $50 billion from the Treasury as part of its bankruptcy restructuring in 2009 under the Troubled Asset Relief Program (TARP).

The stock sale is part of a broader push to wind down the controversial financial bailout, created by U.S. President Barack Obama's predecessor, George W. Bush, to prevent the collapse of the U.S. banking industry during the 2007-2009 financial crisis.

On Tuesday, Treasury said it would largely sell its remaining shares in bailed-out banks over the coming 12 months to 15 months. Last week it sold the last of its common stock in American International Group Inc (AIG.N) at a profit.

Obama heavily promoted his decision to use public funds to rescue the auto industry and save jobs as he campaigned for re-election in swing states like Michigan and Ohio. Voters in both states backed him again in the November 6 election, providing critical support in his victory.

POTENTIAL LOSS

The GM sale will raise the proceeds that Treasury has recovered to $28.6 billion. With $20.9 billion left from the original bailout, the government would have to sell its remaining shares at an average price of $69.72 to break even.

If Treasury sold its remaining stock at the price GM is paying now, it would come up short by more than $12 billion.

TARP was approved by Congress as a $700 billion program, though Treasury eventually disbursed $418 billion. On Wednesday it said it had recovered $381 billion to date, or about 90 percent.

"TARP was always meant to be a temporary, emergency program. The government should not be in the business of owning stakes in private companies for an indefinite period of time," Treasury Assistant Secretary Timothy Massad said in a statement.

"Moving to exit our investment in GM within the next 12 to 15 months is consistent with our dual goals of winding down TARP as soon as practicable and protecting taxpayer interests."

After the buyback, Treasury will still own a stake of about 19 percent, down from about 26 percent currently. Ammann said GM will not buy more shares directly from Treasury after this buyback is completed.

Ammann said the move and resulting Treasury plans will remove an "overhang" on the stock that has hurt sales and bring an "element of closure" to the bailout.

GM will end the year with estimated liquidity of about $38 billion, even after the deal, he said. That will add to earnings per share by reducing the number of outstanding shares by about 11 percent.

GM will take a charge of about $400 million in the fourth quarter tied to the buyback.

In addition, Treasury has agreed to relinquish certain governance rights, including required levels of U.S. manufacturing and barring the purchase of corporate jets, Ammann said. Senior executive payment caps under TARP remain in place.

(Additional reporting by Alister Bull; Editing by Gerald E. McCormick, Jeffrey Benkoe and Tim Ahmann)

http://www.reuters.com/article/2012/12/19/us-gm-treasury-idUSBRE8BI0Q020121219

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« Reply #7766 on: Dec 19th, 2012, 10:23am »

Wired

Top Scientific Discoveries of 2012
By Wired Science
12.19.12 6:30 AM

There were many really big moments in science this year. From finding a long, long sought subatomic particle to pushing the limits of extraterrestrial exploration to righting an ethical wrong, science took some big steps in 2012.

While they may not all be discoveries exactly, they all will have a major, lasting impact on science and the world. Here are Wired Science's picks for the biggest discoveries, breakthroughs and moments in science this year.


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Image: Data from the CMS experiment, which helped uncover the Higgs boson. The yellow and green lines are characteristic signals that point to a Higgs particle decaying.
(Thomas McCauley, Lucas Taylor / CERN)




Higgs Boson Discovered

In July, physicists at the Large Hadron Collider ended a 5-decade-long search when they announced the discovery of the Higgs boson. This long-sought particle is responsible for giving all other subatomic elements, such as protons and electrons, their mass, and was the final piece in the Standard Model, which describes the interactions of all known particles and forces. While LHC researchers were cautious, only calling their results a “Higgs-like” particle until more data and analysis is available, the finding was widely hailed as the most important fundamental physics discovery in more than a generation.

And the story is far from over. Scientists had been hoping that spotting the Higgs would also provide their first glimpse of physics beyond the Standard Model, which has various problems and inconsistencies that need fixing. But the particle has so far proved to be stubbornly normal, with little to no deviation from what was predicted under the Standard Model. The LHC will shut down for repairs and upgrades next year, returning in 2015 to probe the subatomic universe at higher energy scales and hopefully turn up even more interesting phenomena.

gallery after the jump:
http://www.wired.com/wiredscience/2012/12/top-discoveries-2012/?utm_medium=referral&utm_source=pulsenews&pid=5738&viewall=true

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« Reply #7767 on: Dec 19th, 2012, 10:34am »

Washington Post

Review of Benghazi attack faults ‘grossly’ inadequate security, leadership failures

By Anne Gearan, Published: December 18

An independent investigation of the fatal attack on a U.S. diplomatic post in Libya on Sept. 11 found that “grossly” inadequate security and reliance on local militias left U.S. diplomats and other personnel vulnerable, the State Department told Congress on Tuesday.

The review of the assault on the mission in Benghazi, Libya, that killed Ambassador J. Christopher Stevens and three other Americans faulted systemic failures of leadership and management deficiencies at senior levels within two bureaus of the State Department, according to an unclassified version posted on the department’s Web site Tuesday night.

The review by the Accountability Review Board said the temporary, lightly defended compound where Stevens died lacked disciplined oversight of its security operations. The diplomatic post’s ad hoc nature, with inexperienced staff members working there for short periods, “resulted in diminished institutional knowledge, continuity, and mission capacity,” the report said.

Finally, the report said State Department officials in Washington ignored requests from the U.S. Embassy in Tripoli, the Libyan capital, for additional guards and better security for the Benghazi compound, which served as a temporary U.S. consulate for eastern Libya. It also said that there had been worrisome incidents in the weeks before the attack that should have led to increased security, but the report did not identify any specific threats to the compound on Sept. 11.

The report said State Department security personnel on the scene and CIA officers at a nearby annex used as an operations base had responded in a timely and appropriate manner, and it absolved the U.S. military of any blame, saying there was not enough time for a military response that would have made any difference.

Despite the broad security failures, the report did not single out any individual officials as violating procedures and did not recommend any disciplinary action.

The report also concluded that, contrary to initial reports by the Obama administration and by media outlets, there was no protest outside the outpost ahead of the attack and that the assault on the diplomatic compound and the CIA annex was carried out by terrorists.

Stevens and another diplomat, Sean Smith, were killed inside the compound. Two other Americans, CIA contractors Tyrone Woods and Glen Doherty, died in the attack on the annex. Ten people were injured in the assault.

The panel’s report “provides a clear-eyed look at serious, systemic challenges,” Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton wrote in letters to the Senate Foreign Relations Committee and the House Foreign Affairs Committee. She said that the State Department had already begun to address the lapses and that she accepts “every one” of the recommendations for improvement.

Officials said Clinton will ask Congress to transfer $1.3 billion in money allocated to Iraq. The funds would be used for additional Marine guards, diplomatic security personnel and security improvements at U.S. missions overseas.

The report called on Congress to fully fund the request for additional security funds. “For many years the State Department has been engaged in a struggle to obtain the resources necessary to carry out its work with varying degrees of success,” the report said. The result, it said, has been inefficiencies that sacrifice security for savings.

An unclassified summary of the report was posted on the State Department’s Web site. A copy of Clinton’s letter was provided to reporters. More-detailed classified versions were made available earlier Tuesday to congressional leaders and the two committees in preparation for testimony by Deputy Secretaries William J. Burns and Thomas R. Nides on Thursday.

The Benghazi attack became a major issue in the presidential campaign, with GOP candidate Mitt Romney and numerous Republicans in Congress criticizing the Obama administration for what they viewed as poor security at the compound. Republicans also have been critical of initial administration reports that said the attack grew out of protests outside the Benghazi outpost over a U.S.-made anti-Islam video.

The report describes a somewhat loose and confusing arrangement for security and accountability at the site. It notes that everyone involved in Stevens’s trip to Benghazi from Tripoli for a week of meetings with local officials was aware of the potential for increased risk associated with the anniversary of the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks. As a result, Stevens was confined to the post on that day.

The panel faulted Libyan guards who had been hired to protect the compound, saying that they may have abandoned their posts at the front gate and allowed the attackers to overrun the facility. The report also said that the response of the Libyan government was “profoundly lacking on the night of the attacks, reflecting both weak capacity and a near total absence of central government influence in Benghazi.”

But the report also suggests that Stevens put himself in danger. It notes that he did not perceive an outsize risk created by traveling to Benghazi and that his deep experience in Libya and his management style meant that he made many decisions himself.

“His status as the leading U.S. government advocate on Libya policy, and his expertise on Benghazi in particular, caused Washington to give unusual deference to his judgments,” the report said.

The report found significant lapses in judgment and oversight by a few unidentified State Department employees but said no mistake amounted to a dereliction of duty. It did not recommend that anyone be fired.

First among the recommendations in the report is a general improvement in security for front-line posts in conflict zones and other dangerous countries. The United States cannot rely so heavily on the security forces of host countries, the report said.

“The department should urgently review the proper balance between acceptable risk and expected outcomes in high risk, high threat areas,” the report said.

Abandoning such posts is not acceptable, but neither is sending people to them without adequate support and forethought, the report said. It recommends a cost-benefit analysis of the mission, the risk and the responsibilities.

The five-member panel was led by former ambassador Thomas R. Pickering and included retired Adm. Mike Mullen, the former chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff. The two men are scheduled to present their findings in closed-door, classified meetings on Wednesday with the Senate and House foreign affairs panels.

http://www.washingtonpost.com/world/national-security/benghazi-panel-presents-findings-to-lawmakers-makes-recommendations/2012/12/18/9ada6032-495c-11e2-b6f0-e851e741d196_story.html?hpid=z1

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« Reply #7768 on: Dec 19th, 2012, 10:38am »

Whew! These western red cedars out front are blowing around! And I just saw wee bits of snow. tongue

Looks like it will be a blustery day. Tomorrow is my 35th wedding anniversary. My husband deserves a medal. grin

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« Reply #7769 on: Dec 19th, 2012, 10:41am »

Hollywood Reporter

'Homeland' Is Hiring: Why the Hottest Show on Cable Is Seeking Help

7:00 AM PST 12/19/2012
by Lacey Rose

The hottest show on cable is hiring. Over the holiday hiatus, Homeland showrunner Alex Gansa will be poring over scores of writing samples in search of new voices to fill at least one looming vacancy on the Emmy-winning Showtime drama.

Near term, Gansa likely will need to replace the staff's only female writer, Meredith Stiehm, with whom he co-wrote the Dec. 16 season-two finale and whose detective drama, The Bridge, is said to be a shoo-in for a series order at FX. Of the six-member staff's writers, two others also have their own projects in contention elsewhere. Co-creator Howard Gordon is set to serve as showrunner of the FBI agent drama Anatomy of Violence if CBS orders it to series in May, and Alex Cary will run the legal drama Ritter in the event that NBC moves forward with a series order.

Fox 21 chief Bert Salke has described the Homeland writers room as a "murderers' row" of talent because each previously has run another show. That it has remained intact for two seasons is itself a surprise given the breakout success of the terrorism drama, which swept the major categories at September's Emmys.

"The writing staff will be slightly -- or more than slightly -- changed next year," Gansa tells THR of the close-knit, highly pedigreed group that already has begun brainstorming ideas for season three before returning in earnest in January.

"We have to find the right person to fit into the group and who also can bring something to the show," he adds. "That's my priority over the holidays: to sit down and read a bunch of people and get a list of writers together."

http://www.hollywoodreporter.com/news/homeland-why-hottest-show-cable-404572

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