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 veryhotthread  Author  Topic: Stuff & Nonsense  (Read 12360 times)
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« Reply #7845 on: Jan 5th, 2013, 11:13am »







Captive Wild Woman (1943)

~

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« Reply #7846 on: Jan 5th, 2013, 10:02pm »

New York Times

January 5, 2013

Ex-Officer Is First From C.I.A. to Face Prison for a Leak

By SCOTT SHANE

WASHINGTON — Looking back, John C. Kiriakou admits he should have known better. But when the F.B.I. called him a year ago and invited him to stop by and “help us with a case,” he did not hesitate.

In his years as a C.I.A. operative, after all, Mr. Kiriakou had worked closely with F.B.I. agents overseas. Just months earlier, he had reported to the bureau a recruiting attempt by someone he believed to be an Asian spy.

“Anything for the F.B.I.,” Mr. Kiriakou replied.

Only an hour into what began as a relaxed chat with the two agents — the younger one who traded Pittsburgh Steelers talk with him and the senior investigator with the droopy eye — did he begin to realize just who was the target of their investigation.

Finally, the older agent leaned in close and said, by Mr. Kiriakou’s recollection, “In the interest of full disclosure, I should tell you that right now we’re executing a search warrant at your house and seizing your electronic devices.”

On Jan. 25, Mr. Kiriakou is scheduled to be sentenced to 30 months in prison as part of a plea deal in which he admitted violating the Intelligence Identities Protection Act by e-mailing the name of a covert C.I.A. officer to a freelance reporter, who did not publish it. The law was passed in 1982, aimed at radical publications that deliberately sought to out undercover agents, exposing their secret work and endangering their lives.

In more than six decades of fraught interaction between the agency and the news media, John Kiriakou is the first current or former C.I.A. officer to be convicted of disclosing classified information to a reporter.

Mr. Kiriakou, 48, earned numerous commendations in nearly 15 years at the C.I.A., some of which were spent undercover overseas chasing Al Qaeda and other terrorist groups. He led the team in 2002 that found Abu Zubaydah, a terrorist logistics specialist for Al Qaeda, and other militants whose capture in Pakistan was hailed as a notable victory after the Sept. 11 attacks.

He got mixed reviews at the agency, which he left in 2004 for a consulting job. Some praised his skills, first as an analyst and then as an overseas operative; others considered him a loose cannon.

Mr. Kiriakou first stumbled into the public limelight by speaking out about waterboarding on television in 2007, quickly becoming a source for national security journalists, including this reporter, who turned up in Mr. Kiriakou’s indictment last year as Journalist B. When he gave the covert officer’s name to the freelancer, he said, he was simply trying to help a writer find a potential source and had no intention or expectation that the name would ever become public. In fact, it did not surface publicly until long after Mr. Kiriakou was charged.

He is remorseful, up to a point. “I should never have provided the name,” he said on Friday in the latest of a series of interviews. “I regret doing it, and I never will do it again.”

At the same time, he argues, with the backing of some former agency colleagues, that the case — one of an unprecedented string of six prosecutions under President Obama for leaking information to the news media — was unfair and ill-advised as public policy.

His supporters are an unlikely collection of old friends, former spies, left-leaning critics of the government and conservative Christian opponents of torture. Oliver Stone sent a message of encouragement, as did several professors at Liberty University, where Mr. Kiriakou has taught. They view the case as an outrage against a man who risked his life to defend the country.

Whatever his loquaciousness with journalists, they say, he neither intended to damage national security nor did so. Some see a particular injustice in the impending imprisonment of Mr. Kiriakou, who in his first 2007 appearance on ABC News defended the agency’s resort to desperate measures but also said that he had come to believe that waterboarding was torture and should no longer be used in American interrogations.

Bruce Riedel, a retired veteran C.I.A. officer who led an Afghan war review for Mr. Obama and turned down an offer to be considered for C.I.A. director in 2009, said Mr. Kiriakou, who worked for him in the 1990s, was “an exceptionally good intelligence officer” who did not deserve to go to prison.

“To me, the irony of this whole thing is, very simply, that he’s going to be the only C.I.A. officer to go to jail over torture,” even though he publicly denounced torture, Mr. Riedel said. “It’s deeply ironic under the Democratic president who ended torture.”

John A. Rizzo, a senior C.I.A. lawyer for three decades, said that he did not believe Mr. Kiriakou set out to harm national security or endanger anyone, but that his violation was serious.

“I think he wanted to be a big shot,” Mr. Rizzo said. “I don’t think he was evil. But it’s not a trivial thing to reveal a name.”

The leak prosecutions have been lauded on Capitol Hill as a long-overdue response to a rash of dangerous disclosures and have been defended by both Mr. Obama and his attorney general, Eric H. Holder Jr. But their aides say neither man ordered the crackdown, and the cases appear to have resulted less from a conscious policy change than from the proliferation of e-mail, which makes it possible to trace the origin of some disclosures without pressuring journalists to identify confidential sources.

When Mr. Kiriakou pleaded guilty on Oct. 23 in federal court in Alexandria, Va., David H. Petraeus, then the C.I.A. director, issued a statement praising the prosecution as “an important victory for our agency, for our intelligence community, and for our country.”

“Oaths do matter,” he went on, “and there are indeed consequences for those who believe they are above the laws that protect our fellow officers and enable American intelligence agencies to operate with the requisite degree of secrecy.”

Less than three weeks later, e-mails tripped up Mr. Petraeus himself. He resigned after F.B.I. agents carrying out an unrelated investigation discovered, upon examining his private e-mail account, that he had had an extramarital affair.

Neil H. MacBride, the United States attorney for the Eastern District of Virginia, hailed Mr. Kiriakou’s conviction in a statement: “The government has a vital interest in protecting the identities of those involved in covert operations. Leaks of highly sensitive, closely held and classified information compromise national security and can put individual lives in danger.”

The leak case is a devastating turn for Mr. Kiriakou, a father of five who considers himself a patriot, a proud Greek-American from Pennsylvania steel country whose grandfather, he recalls, “always talked as if F.D.R. personally admitted him to this country.” Discovering a passion for international affairs, he scrounged scholarships to go to George Washington University, where he was recruited by a professor, a former C.I.A. psychiatrist who spotted talent for the agency.

After he was charged last January, his wife, though accused of no wrongdoing, resigned under pressure from her C.I.A. job as a top Iran specialist. The family had to go on food stamps for several months before she got a new job outside the government. To make ends meet, they rented out their spacious house in Arlington, Va., and moved to a rented bungalow a third the size with their three young children (he has two older children from his first marriage).

Their financial woes were complicated by Mr. Kiriakou’s legal fees. He said he had paid his defense lawyers more than $100,000 and still owed them $500,000; the specter of additional, bankrupting legal fees, along with the risk of a far longer prison term that could separate him from his wife and children for a decade or more, prompted him to take the plea offer, he said.

Despite his distress about the charges and the havoc they have wrought for his family, he sometimes still speaks with reverence of the C.I.A. and its mission.

But the same qualities that worked well for him in his time as a risk-taking intelligence officer, trained to form a bond with potential recruits, may have been his undoing in his post-C.I.A. role as an intelligence expert sought out by reporters.

“Your job as a case officer is to recruit spies to steal secrets — plain and simple,” Mr. Kiriakou said. “You have to convince people you are their best friend. That wasn’t hard for me. I’d say half the people I recruited I could be lifelong friends with, even though some were communists, criminals and terrorists. I love people. I love getting to know them. I love hearing their stories and telling them stories.

“That’s all great if you’re a case officer,” he said. “It’s not so great, it turns out, if you’re a former case officer.”

Mixed Feelings

After Mr. Kiriakou first appeared on ABC, talking with Brian Ross in some detail about waterboarding, many Washington reporters sought him out. I was among them. He was the first C.I.A. officer to speak about the procedure, considered a notorious torture method since the Inquisition but declared legal by the Justice Department in secret opinions that were later withdrawn.

While he had spent hours with Abu Zubaydah after the capture, he had not been present when Abu Zubaydah was waterboarded, a fact he made clear to me and some other interviewers. But based on what he had heard and read at the agency, he told ABC and other news organizations that Abu Zubaydah had stopped resisting after just 30 or 35 seconds of the suffocating procedure and told interrogators all he knew.

more after the jump:
http://www.nytimes.com/2013/01/06/us/former-cia-officer-is-the-first-to-face-prison-for-a-classified-leak.html?_r=1&

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« Reply #7847 on: Jan 6th, 2013, 08:51am »

New York Times

January 6, 2013

Pakistani Soldier Killed in Shooting in Kashmir

By DECLAN WALSH

ISLAMABAD, Pakistan — Pakistani and Indian troops exchanged gunfire across the disputed Kashmir border early Sunday, leaving one Pakistani soldier dead in a relatively rare fatal confrontation between the two neighbors.

As usual, the rival armies, which have been engaged in a face-off in Kashmir for decades, disagreed about who started the shooting or what happened next.

Pakistan said Indian troops crossed the disputed boundary, known as the Line of Control, into Pakistani-controlled territory, where they attacked a remote outpost and wounded two soldiers, one of whom later died.

“Our army troops effectively responded and repulsed the attack successfully,” said a Pakistani military spokesman, speaking on condition of anonymity. “Indian army troops left behind a gun and a dagger.”

But the Indian military said that its troops had not crossed into Pakistani territory and that it was only responding to an unprovoked Pakistani shelling across the Line of Control that destroyed a civilian house.

“None of our troops crossed the Line of Control,” Col. Jagadish Dahiya, an Indian Army spokesman, told Reuters. “We have no casualties or injuries.”

The clash was an unusual breach of an almost decade-long cease-fire that has largely held between the two rivals, whose leaders have concentrated on building economic and diplomatic ties.

In the last major shooting, in September 2011, Pakistan claimed to have lost three soldiers while India said one of its officers was killed. There have been other, smaller, clashes in recent months.

But in the last year, encouraging signs have emerged that relations are thawing.

The two countries have eased travel restrictions for Kashmiris living on both sides of the de facto border, and introduced encouraging economic initiatives intended to foster bilateral trade.

It was unclear whether Sunday’s clash would affect any of that. The Pakistani cricket team is visiting India, and on Sunday, a match was played between the two sides in New Delhi, the Indian capital.

Still, military and ideological hard-liners in both countries consider the bitter conflict over Kashmir, which erupted just after independence in 1947, as the core issue that needs to be resolved. Pakistan and India, both of which claim the mountainous territory in its entirety, have fought two wars over the region.

Pakistan said that Sunday’s clash occurred at a remote border post in the Bagh district, more than 50 miles east of the capital, Islamabad.

One encouraging sign is that the recent warming of relations could not have taken place without approval from Pakistan’s generals, who at any rate are increasingly absorbed by the fight against Islamist militants along their western border with Afghanistan.

That fight has been complicated by fraught relations with the United States. On Sunday the Central Intelligence Agency continued to press its drone strike campaign in Waziristan, with three missile attacks against suspected militant bases that killed at least 12 people, according to Pakistani intelligence officials.

In one strike, in South Waziristan, a remotely piloted American aircraft fired 10 missiles into a suspected Pakistani Taliban training camp, one intelligence official said, speaking by phone on the condition of anonymity.

A senior Taliban militant, speaking by phone from Waziristan on the condition of anonymity, confirmed the strike. Three senior Taliban commanders were believed to have died, he said, including one who had masterminded a jailbreak in nearby Bannu last year that allowed 390 inmates to escape.

Another commander who is believed to have died, Wali Muhammad, who is also known as Tuffani Mehsud, was considered to be the leader of the Pakistani Taliban’s suicide bomber squad.

“It is a major blow to our organization,” the Taliban militant said.


Salman Masood and Ihsanullah Tipu Mehsud contributed reporting.

http://www.nytimes.com/2013/01/07/world/asia/pakistani-soldier-killed-in-shooting-in-kashmir.html?ref=world&_r=0

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« Reply #7848 on: Jan 6th, 2013, 08:55am »

Seattle Times

Originally published Saturday, January 5, 2013 at 8:49 PM

4 killed in home near earlier Colorado movie-theater shooting

News of the Aurora, Colo., shootings Saturday revived memories of the attack in which a gunman killed 12 people and injured at least 70 at a movie theater in July.

By DAN FROSCHRAVI SOMAIYA
The New York Times

Four people, including a gunman who was suspected of taking hostages inside a house in Aurora, Colo., died Saturday after a standoff with the police, authorities said.

The episode began about 3 a.m. when shots were heard on East Ithaca Place, about 16 miles southeast of downtown Denver, said Sgt. Cassidee Carlson, a spokeswoman for the Aurora Police Department.

A woman who had escaped from the house told officers that shots had been fired and “that she observed three people inside the home who appeared lifeless as she was leaving,” according to a statement released by the police Saturday afternoon.

About 50 officers, including members of a SWAT unit and hostage negotiators, were called, Carlson said. When attempts to talk to the man by telephone and over a bullhorn were unsuccessful, the police statement said, officers moved in about 8 a.m. using an armored vehicle, which was fired upon.

The police were unable to force the gunman out of the house using gas, Carlson said, and about an hour later, officers shot him to death after he appeared in a second-floor window, she said.

Inside, the police said they also found the bodies of a woman and two other men. Carlson did not identify the victims or the gunman, and said investigators did not know what set off the episode.

In July, 12 people were killed and 58 wounded in a shooting at an Aurora movie theater during a midnight screening of “The Dark Knight Rises.” The gunman, wearing what the police described as ballistic gear, used an AR-15 assault rifle, a shotgun and a handgun in the shooting, the police said.

James Holmes, 24, was arrested outside the theater and has been charged in the killings.

Prosecutors are scheduled to present their case against Holmes at a preliminary hearing on Monday that is expected to be attended by many of the survivors and family members of those who died.

Bob Broom, a member of the Aurora City Council, said memories of the movie-theater shootings were still fresh but that life in the city had begun to resume its normal rhythms.

“When the theater shooting first happened, there was incredible grief,” said Broom, who said he lives in the subdivision where the shooting Saturday took place. “But time heals. And it has healed in this situation.”

Barb Helzer, an owner of the Rock Restaurant and Bar, said she tensed up when she heard of the shooting Saturday.

“My whole staff, even the young staff, who normally don’t pay attention, we all said, ‘Oh my God, there’s been another shooting,’ ” she said.

Helzer said she has friends whose Aurora businesses have struggled since the summer. Others will not go to the movies.

“It is all still a recent reality here. We’re still nervous,” Helzer said. “You find yourself looking at people differently. We’re careful when we ask people to leave the bar. You don’t take things for granted anymore.”

Aurora, just east of Denver, is one of Colorado’s largest and most diverse cities with more than 335,000 residents. It is home to Buckley Air Force Base as well as the sprawling University of Colorado Health Sciences Center campus, where James Holmes studied neuroscience before the movie-theater shootings.

Material from The Associated Press is included in this report.

http://seattletimes.com/html/nationworld/2020068004_shootingcoloxml.html

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« Reply #7849 on: Jan 6th, 2013, 09:11am »

Scientific American

Streams of Consciousness

How to Think Like Sherlock Holmes: The Value of Creativity and Imagination [Excerpt]

By Ingrid Wickelgren
January 4, 2013
By Maria Konnikova

Editor’s note: The following is an excerpt from Mastermind: How to Think Like Sherlock Holmes. Reprinted by arrangement with Viking, a member of Penguin Group (USA) Inc., Copyright © 2013 by Maria Konnikova.

“It is surprising that people do not believe that there is imagination in science,” Nobel-winning physicist Richard Feynman once told an audience. Not only is that view patently false, but “it is a very interesting kind of imagination, unlike that of the artist. The great difficulty is in trying to imagine something that you have never seen, that is consistent in every detail with what has already been seen, and that is different from what has been thought of; furthermore, it must be definite and not a vague proposition.”

Imagination takes the stuff of observation and experience and recombines them into something new.

In 1968, the high jump was a well-established sport. You would run, you would jump, and you would make your way over a pole in one of several ways. In older days you’d likely use the scissors, scissoring out your legs as you glided over, but by the sixties you’d probably be using the straddle or the belly roll, facing down and basically rolling over the bar. Whichever style you used, you’d be facing forward when you made your jump. Imagine trying to jump backward. That would be ridiculous.

Dick Fosbury, however, didn’t think so. All through high school, he’d been developing a backward-facing style, and now, in college, it was taking him higher than it ever had. He wasn’t sure why he did it. He didn’t care what anyone else was doing. He just jumped with the feeling of the thing. People joked and laughed. Fosbury looked just as ridiculous as they thought he would (and his inspirations sounded a bit ridiculous, too. When asked about his approach, he told Sports Illustrated, “I don’t even think about the high jump. It’s positive thinking. I just let it happen”). Certainly, no one expected him to make the U.S. Olympic team—let alone win the Olympics. But win he did, setting American and Olympic records with his 7-foot-4.25-inch (2.24-meter) jump, only 1.5 inches short of the world record.

With his unprecedented technique, dubbed the Fosbury Flop, Fosbury did what many other more traditional athletes had never managed to accomplish: he revolutionized, in a very real way, an entire sport. Even after his win, expectations were that he would remain a lone bird, jumping in his esoteric style while the rest of the world looked on. But since 1978 no world record has been set by anyone other than a flopper; and by 1980, thirteen of sixteen Olympic finalists were flopping across the bar. To this day, the flop remains the dominant high jump style. The straddle looks old and cumbersome in comparison. Why hadn’t anyone thought of replacing it earlier?

Fosbury wasn’t even a particularly talented jumper. It was all in the approach. Imagination allows us to see things that aren’t so, be it a dead man who is actually alive or a way of jumping that, while backward, couldn’t be more forward looking.

Keep Your Distance

One of the most important ways to facilitate imaginative thinking is through distance. In “The Adventure of the Bruce-Partington Plans,” a case that comes quite late in the Holmes-Watson partnership, Watson observes:

One of the most remarkable characteristics of Sherlock Holmes was his power of throwing his brain out of action and switching all his thoughts on to lighter things whenever he had convinced himself that he could no longer work to advantage. I remember that during the whole of that memorable day he lost himself in a monograph which he had undertaken upon the Polyphonic Motets of Lassus. For my own part I had none of this power of detachment, and the day, in consequence appeared to be interminable.

Forcing your mind to take a step back is a tough thing to do. It seems counterintuitive to walk away from a problem that you want to solve. But in reality, the characteristic is not so remarkable either for Holmes or for individuals who are deep thinkers. The fact that it is remarkable for Watson (and that he self-admittedly lacks the skill) goes a long way to explaining why he so often fails when Holmes succeeds.

Psychologist Yaacov Trope argues that psychological distance may be one of the single most important steps you can take to improve thinking and decision-making. It can come in many forms: temporal, or distance in time (both future and past); spatial, or distance in space (how physically close or far you are from something); social, or distance between people (how someone else sees it); and hypothetical, or distance from reality (how things might have happened). But whatever the form, all of these distances have something in common: they all require you to transcend the immediate moment in your mind. They all require you to take a step back.

Trope posits that the further we move in distance, the more general and abstract our perspective and our interpretation become; and the further we move from our own perspective, the wider the picture we are able to consider. Conversely, as we move closer once more, our thoughts become more concrete, more specific, more practical—and the closer we remain to our egocentric view, the smaller and more limited the picture that confronts us. Our level of construal influences, in turn, how we evaluate a situation and how we ultimately choose to interact with it. It affects our decisions and our ability to solve problems.

In essence, psychological distance accomplishes one major thing: it engages System Holmes. It forces quiet reflection. Distancing has been shown to improve cognitive performance, from actual problem solving to the ability to exercise self-control. Children who use psychological distancing techniques (for example, visualizing marshmallows as puffy clouds) are better able to delay gratification and hold out for a larger later reward. Adults who are told to take a step back and imagine a situation from a more general perspective make better judgments and evaluations, and have better self-assessments and lower emotional reactivity. Individuals who employ distancing in typical problem-solving scenarios emerge ahead of their more immersed counterparts. And those who take a distanced view of political questions tend to emerge with evaluations that are better able to stand the test of time.

http://blogs.scientificamerican.com/streams-of-consciousness/2013/01/04/how-to-think-like-sherlock-holmes-the-value-of-creativity-and-imagination-excerpt/

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« Reply #7850 on: Jan 6th, 2013, 09:21am »

I posted this article just so I could post this photo of Cher and her HAIR!


Hollywood Reporter

Cher Signs Development Deal With Logo

5:19 PM PST, 1/5/2013
by Michael O'Connell, Lesley Goldberg



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Cher could be headed back to TV.

More than 40 years after The Sonny and Cher Comedy Hour premiered, Logo took the opportunity of Saturday's presentation at the Television Critics Association press tour to announce that the iconic singer, actress, writer and producer has signed a development deal with the LGBT-skewing network. Terms of the deal were being kept under wraps until a later date.

There were few details at the time of the announcement, but network senior vp original programming Brent Zacky said that she's collaborating with comedian Ron Zimmerman for a pilot script set in early 1960s Hollywood.

Zimmerman has been romantically linked to Cher in recent years and counts Shake It Up! and 'Til Death among his most recent TV writing credits.

"We read some of the stuff that Cher and Ron had written and it was really terrific," Zacky told The Hollwyood Reporter, noting it was yet to be decided if Cher would have an on-camera role in the project, which is in development. "We came up with an idea set in Hollywood in the early '60s and we're very excited to see how we get through the process. The deal is brand-new and we're just getting started on the project."

The pact has been In the works for a few months with the network passing on a previous pitch from Cher and Zimmerman, and instead opting for the Hollywood period drama, which Zacky noted proved a better fit for the network.

The Cher scripted development project comes as the network is pushing hard into original scripted efforts. Should the Cher project move to series, it would join a roster of original programming that has included Exes and Ohs, Noah's Arc and Sordid Lives, among others.

"We're very carefully and hopefully diligently taking a few shots in this arena and we'll see how it pans out. We're certainly excited to be in business with an icon like Cher and Ron, who is a terrific writer."

The development exec added that the network is open to doing more than the Hollywood drama with the iconic personality, including unscripted.

Logo, which has had Zacky heading up originals for about a year and a half, has thus far focused on unscripted productions and aquiring on-brand scripted efforts. The network recently bought the rights to air OUTtv's DTLA and also recently acquired syndicated repeats of Nip/Tuck, Bewitched and will soon air episodes of Golden Girls.

http://www.hollywoodreporter.com/live-feed/cher-signs-development-deal-logo-408904

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« Reply #7851 on: Jan 7th, 2013, 09:47am »

Reuters

Obama to tap Hagel for Pentagon, Brennan for CIA

By Matt Spetalnick
Mon Jan 7, 2013 10:24am EST

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - President Barack Obama on Monday will nominate Republican Chuck Hagel as his next defense secretary and counterterrorism adviser John Brennan to head the CIA, two choices likely to stoke controversy as he fills out his second-term national security team.

The selection of Hagel, a maverick former senator and decorated Vietnam veteran tapped to replace Leon Panetta at the Pentagon, appears destined for a bruising Senate confirmation battle against critics who have already launched an onslaught over his record on Israel and Iran.

Obama could also face opposition from human rights groups over his choice of Brennan, a CIA veteran who withdrew from consideration for the spy agency's top job in 2008 after questions were raised about his views on enhanced interrogation techniques used on terrorism suspects during the Bush administration.

He would succeed retired General David Petraeus, who resigned amid a scandal over an extramarital affair with his biographer.

Obama, newly returned from his Hawaii vacation, will announce the two nominations at the White House on Monday afternoon, a senior administration official said. A "personnel announcement" was scheduled for 1:05 p.m. EST (1805 GMT).

The addition of Hagel and Brennan, along with Senator John Kerry as nominee for secretary of state, would round out Obama's national security team as he faces daunting challenges of winding down the war in Afghanistan, dealing with the Iranian nuclear standoff and curbing military spending.

Obama is backing Hagel for the Pentagon post despite the fact that the former Nebraska lawmaker, even before being nominated, had become a lightning rod for criticism from the left and the right.

Former Republican colleagues have joined pro-Israel groups and neoconservatives in questioning his commitment to Israel's security and slamming disparaging remarks about what he once called a "Jewish lobby" in Washington.

He has also come under fire for saying in 1998 that a nominee for an ambassadorial post was not qualified because he was "openly, aggressively gay" - a remark for which he has since apologized.

Obama's nomination of Hagel suggests that the president did not want to appear weak by seeming to bow to political opposition and being forced to pick someone other than his favorite contender for a top Cabinet post.

He backed down last month from a tough Senate confirmation battle over Susan Rice, the U.S. ambassador to the United Nations, his first pick to replace Hillary Clinton as secretary of state, and instead settled on Kerry.

But the risk for Obama is that pushing Hagel's nomination could force him to expend political capital he needs more for his next round of fiscal showdowns with congressional Republicans.

WHITE HOUSE CONFIDENT

The White House is confident it can weather criticism of Hagel's record, get his nomination through the Senate committee that will consider it and win confirmation in the Democratic-led chamber, a source to the nomination process said.

Hagel - who bonded with Obama during their senatorial days over their joint opposition to the Iraq war - would give a bipartisan cast at the highest level of Obama's Cabinet.

But in recent weeks a number of prominent Republicans have said they would oppose Hagel, who has often been at odds with his own party on foreign policy and fiscal matters.

Republican lawmakers made clear on Sunday he would face a difficult nomination process.

"This is an in-your-face nomination by the president to all of us who are supportive of Israel," South Carolina Republican Senator Lindsey Graham told CNN's "State of the Union." "I think it's an incredibly controversial choice."

Critics contend that Hagel, who left the Senate in 2008, at times opposed Israel's interests, voting several times against U.S. sanctions on Iran. But Hagel's supporters insist he has a strong pro-Israel record.

Hagel has also been critical of the size of the American military, telling the Financial Times in 2011 that the Defense Department was "bloated" and needed "to be pared down."

An editorial in The Washington Post last month said that given the scale of the cuts Hagel seeks, he was "not the right choice" for defense secretary.

Senate Republican leader Mitch McConnell said "there would be a lot of tough questions of Senator Hagel."

Retired Army General Stanley McChrystal, speaking on NBC's "Today" program on Monday, defended Obama's choice of Hagel, who has been on the president's intelligence advisory board.

"If President Obama trusts him, I think Senator Hagel has the experience. He's certainly got the qualities as a person," said McChrystal, a former top U.S. commander in Afghanistan who resigned in 2010.

The nomination of Brennan, who has served as Obama's chief White House counterterrorism adviser since the start of his first term, could also make waves in Washington.

Brennan was believed to have been Obama's top pick to lead the CIA when he took office. But human rights advocates contended that as a senior CIA official under President George W. Bush, Brennan was tainted by the agency's use of interrogation techniques like waterboarding that are widely considered to be torture.

Brennan denied any connection to the interrogation methods but removed his name from consideration.

Brennan, who has a close relationship with Obama, has since won praise for his role in helping to plan the 2011 raid in Pakistan that killed Osama bin Laden, something his supporters hope will quell criticism and keep his nomination on course.

"John Brennan's career of service and extraordinary record has prepared him to be an outstanding director of the CIA. ... Brennan has the full trust and confidence of the president," the senior administration official said. "For four years, he has seen the president every day, and been by his side for some of his toughest decisions."

(Reporting By Matt Spetalnick; Additional reporting by Susan Heavey; Editing by Eric Beech)

http://www.reuters.com/article/2013/01/07/us-obama-nominations-idUSBRE9060CP20130107

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« Reply #7852 on: Jan 7th, 2013, 09:51am »

Seattle Times

Originally published Monday, January 7, 2013 at 5:06 AM

British explorer embarks on Antarctica adventure

British explorer Sir Ranulph Fiennes has embarked on an expedition that he describes as one of the last remaining polar challenges: crossing Antarctica during the region's winter.

By CHRISTOPHER TORCHIA
Associated Press

JOHANNESBURG —

British explorer Sir Ranulph Fiennes has embarked on an expedition that he describes as one of the last remaining polar challenges: crossing Antarctica during the region's winter.

Fiennes, 68, and his five-member team left Cape Town on Monday aboard a South African polar vessel, the SA Agulhas, for what they have dubbed "The Coldest Journey."

After reaching the southernmost continent, the expedition will begin its perilous journey via the South Pole on March 21, traversing nearly 4,000 kilometers (2,485 miles), mostly in total darkness and with temperatures possibly dipping as low as minus 90 Celsius (minus 130 Fahrenheit).

The trip is particularly hazardous because no aircraft can travel inland in the winter due to the darkness and risk that fuel will freeze, meaning there is virtually no chance of a search and rescue operation if things go wrong.

"I usually look forward to expeditions, but there is such a big degree of uncertainty with this one that looking forward to it is probably not the exact right word," Fiennes said, according to the website of SABC, the South African state broadcaster.

"Some people will say it is irresponsible to go unless you know everything, in which case the Americans would never have gotten to the moon. If humans are going for something new, then unfortunately there are bound to be some gray areas," Fiennes said.

According to Fiennes' website, British authorities had not previously granted permits for winter expeditions in Antarctica because they were seen as too dangerous.

Fiennes and his team will have high-tech gear, including battery-operated heating mechanisms in their clothing and special breathing apparatus. They will use modified, 20-ton tractors to transport sledges with mounted living quarters and fuel that is designed not to freeze in the extreme temperatures. The vehicles will have radars that can detect crevasses.

Anton Bowring, co-leader of the expedition, said the modifications to clothing and equipment for the polar trip made it comparable with preparations for a flight into space.

"Psychologically, the conditions are similar," he told South Africa's Sunday Times. "Once they set off and the winter sets in, they are on their own. You can't get an evacuation if someone gets appendicitis or frost bite. There is nothing you can do about it."

Expedition organizers plan to raise $10 million for a charity that seeks to prevent blindness. Team members also hope to conduct research aimed at understanding the effect of climate change on the poles.

Fiennes has compiled a long list of achievements over the decades, many involving the Antarctic and Arctic regions. He became the oldest Briton to summit Mount Everest in 2009.

http://seattletimes.com/html/nationworld/2020076463_apafsouthafricacoldestjourney.html

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« Reply #7853 on: Jan 7th, 2013, 10:00am »







Large UFO Captured Circling the Sun

UFO HuntingClouds - 179 videos

Published on Jan 6, 2013

Here is a Large UFO circling the Sun. The UFO is pretty consitent in size and shape. At the end of the video the photos are put together and you can watch it move. These photos were messaged to me and I have to say they are quite amazing. This is an amazing UFO Sighting.

These UFO's are found in NASA SOHO photos and if you would like to check out the still images click here: (http://ufosightingz.blogspot.com/2013/01/ufo-circling-sun-jan-6-2013.html)

I downloaded the raw and cropped for you http://ufosightingz.blogspot.com/2013/01/ufo-circling-sun-jan-6-2013.html

~

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« Reply #7854 on: Jan 7th, 2013, 10:08am »

Reuters

Exclusive: Disney looks for cost savings, ponders layoffs - sources

By Ronald Grover
Mon Jan 7, 2013 11:04am EST

LOS ANGELES (Reuters) - Walt Disney Co (DIS.N), which reported record earnings in November, started an internal cost cutting review several weeks ago that may include layoffs at its studio and other units, three people with knowledge of the effort told Reuters.

Disney, whose empire spans TV, film, merchandise and theme parks, is exploring cutbacks in jobs no longer needed because of improvements in technology, one of the people said.

It is also looking at redundant operations that could be eliminated after a string of major acquisitions over the past few years, said the person, who did not want to be identified because Disney has not disclosed the internal review.

Executives warned in November that the rising cost of sports rights and moribund home video sales will dampen growth.

"We are constantly looking at eliminating redundancies and creating greater efficiencies, especially with the rapid rise in new technology," said Disney spokeswoman Zenia Mucha.

In terms of profit margin, Disney's studio is the least profitable of the entertainment conglomerate's four major product divisions.

Its fifth division, the interactive unit that creates online games, lost $758 million over the last three years, according to the company's financial filings.

Disney could trim jobs at both the studio and interactive divisions as well as its music arm, said Tony Wible, an analyst with Janney Montgomery Scott, who has a neutral rating on the company's stock.

The media company is in what CEO Bob Iger calls a "transition year" after spending on projects such as the "Cars Land" expansion at the Disneyland Resort in California and a new cruise ship that launched last year.

"We invested a lot of money in our theme parks and resorts business," Disney chief financial officer Jay Rasulo told a media conference in December. "We want to execute against delivering the returns that we've been promising all of you for the years that we've been making those investments. We really want to hunker down on it."

Staff cuts are not a certainty at this point, the person added, although the company has a history of streamlining operations through layoffs.

In 2011, the interactive group laid off about 200 people at its video games unit after what Disney executives said at the time was a shift away from console games to focus on online and mobile entertainment. In September, 50 employees at Disney Interactive were laid off in a restructuring of the money-losing unit, according to one of the sources.

The company also made cuts at its publishing unit last year, and cut workers at its studio in 2011.

"This is not necessarily a negative thing," said Michael Morris, an analyst with Davenport and Company who has a buy recommendation on the stock but was not aware of the review.

"It speaks to a fiscally responsible management."

STUDIO COULD BE TARGET

Walt Disney increased its earnings by 18 percent to $5.7 billion in its 2012 fiscal year that ended September 29, on $42.3 billion in revenues.

The present review, headed by CFO Rasulo, has already identified areas to change in the company's travel policy, said one of the people. It is also looking at a hiring freeze rather than layoffs, said a second source.

Cuts are most likely at the studio, said two of the three people, where the strategy has changed to focus on fewer films and rely more on outside producers such as Steven Spielberg's Dreamworks studio, which finances its own films and pays Disney a fee to market and distribute them.

The film strategy shift began when Iger took over as CEO in late 2005. Under Iger, the company purchased "Toy Story" creator Pixar Animation and Marvel, which brought it characters such as "Thor" and "Iron Man" that featured in this summer's blockbuster hit "The Avengers."

Disney completed a $4.06 billion acquisition of "Star Wars" creator George Lucas' Lucasfilm in December, and has said that it will begin producing new installments of the lucrative franchise in 2015, and make a film every two to three years.

The studio's 12.3 percent profit margin in 2012 was the lowest of Disney's four major operating units. The interactive unit lost $216 million last year.

Shares in the company gained 1.9 percent to close Friday at $52.19.

(Editing by Edwin Chan and Richard Pullin)

http://www.reuters.com/article/2013/01/07/us-disney-layoffs-idUSBRE9060AH20130107

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« Reply #7855 on: Jan 7th, 2013, 7:07pm »

‘Kraken’ caught on film at last

Published January 07, 2013

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The elusive giant squid, which can grow to a monstrous 26 feet in length and is likely the source of the Nordic legend of the kraken, has been captured on film at last.

The creature spends its days trawling the depths of the Pacific Ocean, at a depth where there is little oxygen or light and crushing pressure from the immense weight of the water above. It was spied by Japan’s National Science Museum, working in tandem with Japanese broadcaster NHK and the Discovery Channel.

"It was shining and so beautiful," museum researcher Tsunemi Kubodera told AFP. "I was so thrilled when I saw it first hand, but I was confident we would because we rigorously researched the areas we might find it, based on past data."

The immense creature, which has razor-toothed suckers and eyes the size of dinner plates, has been the subject of fables and fairy tales since ancient times. The Norse legend of the sea monster and the Scylla from Greek mythology might have derived from the giant squid.

This is the first recorded footage of the giant squid in its natural habitat, squid specialist Kudobera said. "Researchers around the world have tried to film giant squid in their natural habitats, but all attempts were in vain before," Kubodera said.

The squid was spotted at a depth of around 2,000 feet using a submersible in July, about 10 miles east of Chichi island in the north Pacific Ocean.

Discovery Channel will air the footage in the special “Monster Squid: The Giant Is Real,” on Sunday, Jan. 27 at 10PM EST.

"Our crew came face-to-face with the giant squid, and it’s the ideal season finale for our 'Curiousity' series that stirs the imagination of our audience, bravely asking questions and fearlessly seeking answers. This latest production, four years in the making, is a world-first achievement for television, and I’m excited to share it,” said Eileen O'Neill, group president of Discovery and TLC Networks.

Which other mystical creatures will finally be revealed? We’re looking at you, Bigfoot.

Read more: http://www.foxnews.com/science/2013/01/07/kraken-caught-on-film-at-last/#ixzz2HLC51NUb
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« Reply #7856 on: Jan 8th, 2013, 07:30am »

That settles it, I'm never going swimming in Birch Bay again! shocked

Thanks for that article Swamprat.

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« Reply #7857 on: Jan 8th, 2013, 07:34am »

Reuters

For CIA chief, Obama taps adviser who defended drone strikes

By Tabassum Zakaria and Mark Hosenball
Mon Jan 7, 2013 6:22pm EST

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - In White House councils, John Brennan has been privy to the most secret U.S. intelligence programs. Outwardly, he has been the administration's most public defender of one of President Barack Obama's most controversial practices - the expanded use of armed drone aircraft to kill terrorism suspects overseas.

This is the second time that Obama has sought to put Brennan at the helm of the CIA, and his confirmation process is likely to revisit old controversies over U.S. counterterrorism measures undertaken by the administrations of Obama and George W. Bush.

Brennan, a 25-year CIA veteran, withdrew his name from consideration as Obama's first director of the agency in November 2008 following liberals' criticism that he had done too little to condemn the use by the Bush administration of interrogation techniques such as waterboarding, widely considered torture.

This time around, Brennan's defense of targeted killing by drones is likely to provide additional fodder for critics, although barring new revelations, he appears likely to be confirmed.

Deprived of the CIA post four years ago, Brennan, 57, became instead one of Obama's closest advisors on counterterrorism and homeland security. That proximity has made him a more powerful figure in the administration than the director of national intelligence - who will become his boss if he is confirmed.

Brennan, who grew up in New Jersey, is described by those who know him as a "straight arrow" and man of high morals.

"The word for John is ‘intense'," said A.B. "Buzzy" Krongard, a former top CIA official who was once Brennan's boss there. "John's all about commitment."

His long working hours at the CIA and the White House are legendary. Obama, in announcing Brennan's nomination on Monday, quipped: "I'm not sure he's slept in four years."

Brennan pledged, if confirmed, to "make it my mission to ensure that the CIA has the tools it needs to keep our nation safe and that its work always reflects the liberties, the freedoms, and the values that we hold so dear."

PICTURE OF CLOSENESS

Brennan was at the president's side during some of the most significant security incidents during his first term.

The White House last week released a photograph of him briefing Obama on the elementary school massacre in Newtown, Connecticut. He is also visible in an iconic photo of top officials at the White House monitoring, in real time, the U.S. commando raid that killed al Qaeda leader Osama bin Laden in Pakistan in 2011.

Brennan is praised by former CIA officials who have worked with him. "John is a great choice - highly experienced, extremely dedicated, a person of integrity," said John McLaughlin, former acting CIA director.

But, by choosing him, Obama has given both liberals and conservative Republicans an opportunity to re-open the debate over Bush administration interrogation policies.

In a 2007 CBS television interview, while Brennan was out of government, he appeared to assert that enhanced interrogation techniques had produced useful information. "There have been a lot of information that has come out from these interrogation procedures that the agency has in fact used against the real hardcore terrorists. It has saved lives," he said.

Inside the CIA, where career intelligence officers consider it a point of pride to be above politics, employees will want to see whether Brennan's time at the White House has made him a more political figure.

"He will have to overcome the impression that he has become a political player who overachieved in spinning things to favor the president at the expense of the agency," a former CIA official said on condition of anonymity.

Shortly after the Navy SEAL raid that killed bin Laden, Brennan briefed the press, telling them that the al Qaeda leader had been killed in a firefight and had tried to use one of his wives to shield himself from the attackers.

"Here is bin Laden, who has been calling for these attacks, living in this million-dollar-plus compound, living in an area that is far removed from the front, hiding behind women who were put in front of him as a shield," he said at the time. "I think it really just speaks to just how false his narrative has been over the years."

The White House later retracted this account but said Brennan was speaking on the basis of the best information available at the time.

Although he rose through the ranks of the CIA's analytical wing, Brennan also worked on the agency's operational, spying side, and at one point served as the agency's chief of station in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia.

Said to be conversant in Arabic, Brennan played a hands-on role in Obama's Yemen policy, which was aimed at easing President Ali Abdullah Saleh from office while ensuring counterterrorism cooperation stayed on track. He traveled to Sanaa several times.

Senator Dianne Feinstein, who chairs the Senate intelligence committee that will hold a hearing on the nomination, said Brennan would make a "strong and positive director" of the CIA. In a statement, the California Democrat said that she would discuss with Brennan CIA detention and interrogation operations.

DEFENDER OF DRONES

In April 2012, Brennan publicly defended the U.S. campaign of lethal drone strikes as legal under international law. It was a rare public justification for classified operations that government officials infrequently discuss in public and that the CIA does not officially acknowledge.

In June 2011, Brennan alluded to drone strikes more opaquely, saying that over the prior year "not a single collateral death" had resulted from counterterrorism operations that were "exceptionally precise and surgical." Rights groups challenged the assertion that no civilians died during that period as a result of drone strikes.

The earlier comment came three months before a CIA drone killed Muslim cleric Anwar al-Awlaki, an American born member of al Qaeda, in Yemen. Another drone strike killed his 16-year-old U.S.-born son.

U.S. drone strikes in Pakistan have been a source of tension with the United States. One national security official familiar with Brennan's White House record said he is expected to favor aggressively moving forward with drone operations, even at the expense of offending Pakistani sensibilities.

The CIA and the U.S. military in recent years have been working more closely together, as in the bin Laden operation, which was run by the CIA but executed by the SEALs.

"Everybody looks at the CIA as insular, as sometimes difficult to establish relationships with, and so the degree to which the director can be one of the key forces for reaching out and breaking down those walls is really helpful," retired General Stanley McChrystal said in an interview with Reuters. "I think he can certainly be one of those types of leaders."

(Additional reporting By David Alexander and Patricia Zengerle.; Editing by Warren Strobel and Christopher Wilson)

http://www.reuters.com/article/2013/01/07/us-obama-nominations-brennan-idUSBRE9060Y820130107

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« Reply #7858 on: Jan 8th, 2013, 07:37am »

New York Times

January 7, 2013, 10:30 pm

Rescued by a Bailout, A.I.G. May Sue Its Savior

By BEN PROTESS and MICHAEL J. DE LA MERCED

Fresh from paying back a $182 billion bailout, the American International Group Inc. has been running a nationwide advertising campaign with the tagline "Thank you America."

Behind the scenes, the restored insurance company is weighing whether to tell the government agencies that rescued it during the financial crisis: thanks, but you cheated our shareholders.

The board of A.I.G. will meet on Wednesday to consider joining a $25 billion shareholder lawsuit against the government, court records show. The lawsuit does not argue that government help was not needed. It contends that the onerous nature of the rescue - the taking of what became a 92 percent stake in the company, the deal's high interest rates and the funneling of billions to the insurer's Wall Street clients - deprived shareholders of tens of billions of dollars and violated the Fifth Amendment, which prohibits the taking of private property for "public use, without just compensation."

Maurice R. Greenberg, A.I.G.'s former chief executive, who remains a major investor in the company, filed the lawsuit in 2011 on behalf of fellow shareholders. He has since urged A.I.G. to join the case, a move that could nudge the government into settlement talks.

The choice is not a simple one for the insurer. Its board members, most of whom joined after the bailout, owe a duty to shareholders to consider the lawsuit. If the board does not give careful consideration to the case, Mr. Greenberg could challenge its decision to abstain.

Should Mr. Greenberg snare a major settlement without A.I.G., the company could face additional lawsuits from other shareholders. Suing the government would not only placate the 87-year-old former chief, but would put A.I.G. in line for a potential payout.

Yet such a move would almost certainly be widely seen as an audacious display of ingratitude. The action would also threaten to inflame tensions in Washington, where the company has become a byword for excessive risk-taking on Wall Street.

Some government officials are already upset with the company for even seriously entertaining the lawsuit, people briefed on the matter said. The people, who spoke on the condition of anonymity, noted that without the bailout, A.I.G. shareholders would have fared far worse in bankruptcy.

"On the one hand, from a corporate governance perspective, it appears they're being extra cautious and careful," said Frank Partnoy, a former banker who is now a professor of law and finance at the University of San Diego School of Law. "On the other hand, it's a slap in the face to the taxpayer and the government."

For its part, A.I.G. has seized on the significance and complexity of the case, which is filed in both New York and Washington. A federal judge in New York dismissed the case, while the Washington court allowed it to proceed.

"The A.I.G. board of directors takes its fiduciary duties and business judgment responsibilities seriously," said a spokesman, Jon Diat.

On Wednesday, the case will command the spotlight for several hours at A.I.G.'s Lower Manhattan headquarters.

Mr. Greenberg's company, Starr International, will begin with a 45-minute presentation to the board, according to people briefed on the matter. Mr. Greenberg is expected to attend, they added.

It will be an unusual homecoming of sorts for Mr. Greenberg, who ran A.I.G. for nearly four decades until resigning amid investigations into an accounting scandal in 2005. For some years after his abrupt departure, there was bitterness and litigation between the company and its former chief.

After the Starr briefing on Wednesday, lawyers for the Treasury Department and the Federal Reserve Bank of New York - the architects of the bailout and defendants in the cases - will make their presentations. Each side will have a few minutes to rebut.

While the discussions are part of an already scheduled board meeting, securities lawyers say it is rare for an entire board to meet on a single piece of litigation.

"It makes eminent good sense in this case, but I've never heard of this kind of situation," said Henry Hu, a former regulator who is now a professor at the University of Texas School of Law in Austin.

It is unclear whether the directors are leaning toward joining the case. The board said in a court filing that it would probably decide by the end of January.

Until now, the insurance giant has sat on the sidelines. But its delay in making a decision, some officials say, has drawn out the case, forcing the government to pay significant legal costs.

The presentations on Wednesday come on top of hundreds of pages of submissions that the government prepared last year, a time-consuming and costly process. The Justice Department, which assigned about a dozen lawyers to the case and hired outside experts, told a judge handling the matter that Starr was seeking 16 million pages in documents from the government.

"How many?" the startled judge, Thomas C. Wheeler, asked, according to a transcript.

Struck just days after the collapse of Lehman Brothers in September 2008, the bailout of A.I.G. proved to be among the biggest and thorniest of the financial crisis rescues. The company was on the brink of collapse because of deteriorating mortgage securities that it had insured through credit-default swaps.

Starting in 2010, the insurer embarked on a series of moves aimed at repaying its taxpayer-financed bailout, including selling major divisions. It also held a number of stock offerings for the government to reduce its stake, which eventually generated a roughly $22 billion profit.

Overseeing that comeback was a new chief executive, Robert H. Benmosche, a tough-talking longtime insurance executive. Mr. Benmosche has won plaudits, including from government officials, for his managing of A.I.G.'s public relations even as he helped nurse the company back to financial health.

But he and the rest of A.I.G.'s board must now confront an equally pugnacious predecessor in Mr. Greenberg.

In the case against the government, Mr. Greenberg, through his lead lawyer, David Boies, contends that the bailout plan extracted a "punitive" interest rate of more than 14 percent. The government's huge stake in the company also diluted the holdings of existing shareholders like Starr, which at the time was A.I.G.'s largest investor.

"The government has been saying, 'We're your friend, we owned and controlled you and we let you go.' But A.I.G. doesn't owe loyalty to the government," a person close to Mr. Greenberg said. "It owes loyalty to its shareholders."

The government, Starr argues, used billions of dollars from A.I.G. to settle credit-default swaps the insurer had with banks like Goldman Sachs. The deal, according to the lawsuit, empowered the government to carry out a "backdoor bailout" of Wall Street.

Starr argued that the actions violated the Fifth Amendment. "The government is not empowered to trample shareholder and property rights even in the midst of a financial emergency," the Starr complaint says.

The Treasury Department declined to comment. A spokesman for the Federal Reserve Bank of New York, Jack Gutt, said, "There is no merit to these allegations." He noted that "A.I.G.'s board of directors had an alternative choice to borrowing from the Federal Reserve, and that choice was bankruptcy."

A federal judge in Manhattan agreed, dismissing the case in November. In an 89-page opinion, Judge Paul A. Engelmayer wrote that while Starr's complaint "paints a portrait of government treachery worthy of an Oliver Stone movie," the company "voluntarily accepted the hard terms offered by the one and only rescuer that stood between it and imminent bankruptcy."

The United States Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit recently agreed to review the case on an expedited timeline. The judge in the United States Court of Federal Claims in Washington, meanwhile, has declined to dismiss the case and continues to await A.I.G.'s decision.

http://dealbook.nytimes.com/2013/01/07/rescued-by-a-bailout-a-i-g-may-sue-its-savior/?hp

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« Reply #7859 on: Jan 8th, 2013, 07:44am »

Wired

Manufacturers Need You to Buy an Ultra-High-Def 4K TV. Save Your Money

By Roberto Baldwin
01.08.13, 6:30 AM

LAS VEGAS — Every TV manufacturer that could haul itself to Sin City wants you, no, needs you, to buy a 4K television soon because 3-D HDTV didn’t pan out. The industry is looking to 4K to keep themselves in the black.

But just as HDTV was slow to take off, it’ll probably be awhile before you decide that a 3840 x 2160 pixel (or 4096 x 2160) TV is exactly what you need to make your life complete. It’s more than the price that’s keeping these things from hitting critical mass. The entire ecosystem isn’t ready for 4K, and neither are you. The prices are too high and the content choices too low for it to really make sense just yet.

“4K is only for ultra-premium markets this year,” Peter Gagnon, an industry watcher with Display Search, told Wired.

It wasn’t supposed to be this way. Not now. The industry started pushing 4K last year, when the uber-sharp, uber-expensive TVs were, like OLEDs, the big news at CES. Well, we’re back again this year, being told again that 4K — a.k.a. UltraHD — will be so awesome that no one will believe their eyes.

It’s true, 4K TVs are stunning to behold. The images are razor sharp, the colors explode and the experience makes you think, “This is what a TV should be.” But too often we see the same video looping over and over because, so far, there’s precious little content to appreciate on these beauties.

And then there’s the price. Good lord, the price. Early adopters are paying $20,000 or more for one. That’s because 4K resolution is especially amazing on TVs larger than 80 inches. Anything with 1080p resolution starts looking pixelated on anything that big, so that’s where 4K has made the biggest splash.

It’s hard to sell a lot of TVs with five-figure price tags, which is why Sony, Toshiba and Sharp are here at CES pushing smaller 4K TVs with smaller price tags, hoping you’ll make the leap. Toshiba is telling anyone who’ll listen that UltraHD 4K is “real category” now. During its CES presentation, Sony talked about an end-to-end 4K hardware and content solution that no one else can match.

Sony CEO Kaz Hirai told the CES audience, “4K is not the future. It’s now and Sony is leading the way.”

That’s great for Sony customers. But what about everyone else? Well, Sharp rolled into town with a pair of UltraHD TVs with 3-D, one of which is the first ever 4K certified by THX. Look for both in stores this summer. LG is keeping OLED alive with 4K 55-inch and 65-inch 4K TVs. And everyone’s favorite low-cost TV company, Vizio, introduced 55-, 60- and 70-inch 4K televisions. Every single one of them looks fantastic.

The big question is how much these smaller 4K TVs will cost. So far, everyone’s keeping pretty mum on pricing. That rarely suggests we’re looking at anything remotely affordable. LG was the one company to announce a price. Its 84-inch OLED 4K TV will retail for $12,000.

That’s a lot of money, and most people may not think 4K is worth the truckload of money they’ll pay for it. The truth is, as nice as these TVs are, you probably won’t see much difference. A 60-inch 4K won’t look dramatically better than the 1080p TV you have in your home right now unless you shove your nose into the screen. The average person’s eyes can’t see the difference when sitting 10 feet away from a 60-inch TV.

Even if you decide you simply must have the latest and greatest TV tech, and you’re willing to max out your credit card to get one, the content isn’t there. The 4K TVs on the market can up-sample the content. Sort of how your current Blu-ray player up-samples DVDs. But it’s not ideal and there are no actual content devices on the market yet. Sony currently has a device it loans to customers that have purchased its 4K TV to watch Sony Pictures movies. At CES the company announced that it would have a 4K solution in the summer that included a device that would connect to a Sony Pictures Entertainment distribution service. The service will play, you guessed it, Sony Pictures Entertainment movies.

Broadcast is an even bigger issue. Broadcast TV only recently switched to all digital signals in June 2009 and it’s not even good enough for the TVs we have now. Peter Vasay, part of THX’s video certification team, told Wired, “As far as infrastructure, we’re pretty far away from that. We’re only at 1080i now. We’re not at full HD over broadcast.”

If broadcast TV isn’t ready, streaming video is even less so. It simply cannot handle the enormous size of 4K video files. Remember, 4K video quadruples the pixel content of a video. That 1GB file just became 4GB. Storage, server load and your ISP are not ready to handle all those extra bits of data.

Of course, like everything in technology there will be an update. Maybe it’s 4K. Maybe it’s 8K. But whatever it is, for the next few years, it’s not worth your money.

“It should capture a respectable share of the 50-inch+ market in a few years,” Gagnon told Wired.

For now, though, you should wait.

http://www.wired.com/gadgetlab/2013/01/the-4k-push-ces-2013/

Crystal
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