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 veryhotthread  Author  Topic: Stuff & Nonsense  (Read 3277 times)
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« Reply #8190 on: Mar 19th, 2013, 10:21am »

Science Daily

Elite Athletes Also Excel at Some Cognitive Tasks

Mar. 18, 2013

— New research suggests that elite athletes -- Olympic medalists in volleyball, for example -- perform better than the rest of us in yet another way. These athletes excel not only in their sport of choice but also in how fast their brains take in and respond to new information -- cognitive abilities that are important on and off the court.

The study, of 87 top-ranked Brazilian volleyball players (some of them medalists in the Beijing and London Olympics) and 67 of their nonathletic contemporaries, also found that being an athlete minimizes the performance differences that normally occur between women and men. Female athletes, the researchers found, were more like their male peers in the speed of their mental calculations and reaction times, while nonathletic females performed the same tasks more slowly than their male counterparts.

The study appears in the journal Frontiers in Psychology.

"I think we have learned that athletes are different from us in some ways," said University of Illinois psychology professor and Beckman Institute director Arthur Kramer, who led the study with graduate student Heloisa Alves.

"We found that athletes were generally able to inhibit behavior, to stop quickly when they had to, which is very important in sport and in daily life, " Kramer said. "They were also able to activate, to pick up information from a glance and to switch between tasks more quickly than nonathletes. I would say these were modest differences, but they were interesting differences nonetheless."

Overall, the athletes were faster at memory tests and tasks that required them to switch between tasks. They were quicker to notice things in their peripheral vision and to detect subtle changes in a scene. And in general, they were better able to accomplish tasks while ignoring confusing or irrelevant information.

Perhaps the most interesting discovery was that female athletes had significant cognitive advantages over their nonathletic counterparts, Kramer said, advantages that minimized the subtle speed differences between them and the men. The female athletes were faster than their nonathletic peers at detecting changes in a scene and could more quickly pick out relevant details from a distracting background. Their performance on these and the other tasks was on par with the male athletes, whereas nonathletic males consistently outperformed their female peers.

Nonathletes excelled at only one of the cognitive tests the researchers administered. In this test, called the stopping task, participants were asked to type a "Z" or "/" key as soon as they saw it on a computer screen -- unless they heard a tone shortly after the character appeared, in which case they were told to refrain from responding. Nonathletes tended to be faster in cases where the tone never sounded, while athletes were better at inhibiting their responses after hearing a tone.

The ability to inhibit a response is one marker of what brain researchers call "executive function," the capacity to control, plan and regulate one's behavior, Kramer said. While it has obvious advantages in sport, the ability to quickly inhibit an action also is useful in daily life, he said.

"One way to think about it is you're in your car and you're ready to start off at a light and you catch in your side vision a car or a bicyclist that you didn't see a second ago," he said. Being able to stop after having decided to go can be a lifesaver in that situation.

"So both facilitating and inhibiting behavior is important," he said.

Kramer said the athletes' slower performance on this one task might be the result of a strategic decision they had made to wait and see if the tone sounded before they committed to pressing a key.

"My bet is that the athletes were just learning to read the task a little better," he said. "So if I'm a little slower in going, I'll be a little better at stopping if I need to."

All in all, the new findings add to the evidence that those who spend years training on specific physical tasks tend to also have enhanced cognitive abilities, Kramer said.

"Our understanding is imperfect because we don't know whether these abilities in the athletes were 'born' or 'made,' " he said. "Perhaps people gravitate to these sports because they're good at both. Or perhaps it's the training that enhances their cognitive abilities as well as their physical ones. My intuition is that it's a little bit of both."

http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2013/03/130318151634.htm

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« Reply #8191 on: Mar 19th, 2013, 10:25am »

The Smoking Gun

March 18, 2013

Hacker Begins Distributing Confidential Memos Sent To Hillary Clinton On Libya, Benghazi Attack

Armed with confidential memos to Hillary Clinton that were stolen from the e-mail account of a former White House aide, a hacker has distributed some of the documents to a wide array of congressional aides, political figures, and journalists worldwide.

In a series of weekend e-mail blasts, the hacker known as “Guccifer” disseminated four recent memos to Clinton from Sidney Blumenthal, a longtime confidant of the former Secretary of State.

The 64-year-old Blumenthal, who worked as a senior White House adviser to President Bill Clinton, had his AOL e-mail account hacked last week by “Guccifer,” who has conducted similar illegal assaults against a growing list of public figures, including Colin Powell, relatives and friends of the Bush family, and a top United Nations official.

The hacker’s e-mails went to hundreds of recipients, though the distribution lists were dotted with addresses for aides to Senate and House members who are no longer in office. But many of the addresses to which the Blumenthal memos were sent are good (though it is unclear whether karl@rove.com is a solid address for the Republican mastermind).

Most of the e-mail recipients were sent four separate memos that were e-mailed to Clinton by Blumenthal during the past five months. Each memo dealt with assorted developments in Libya, including the September 11, 2012 attack on the U.S. mission in Benghazi. One memo marked “Confidential” was sent to Clinton on September 12.

As TSG reported last week, after Blumenthal’s e-mail account was compromised, the hacker searched it for e-mails sent to Clinton, and further sorted the mail to segregate any attachment--like Word files--that were included in Blumenthal’s correspondence to Clinton. Many of these pilfered documents were memos to Clinton on foreign policy and intelligence matters.

While “Guccifer” appears to have downloaded many of these attachments, the hacker opted not to send the actual Word files to those on the e-mail blast list (likely as a security measure since the downloaded files could contain metadata that could lead to the hacker, who is the target of a mushrooming federal criminal investigation).

Instead, “Guccifer” copied the text from the four Blumenthal memos and pasted them into separate new files. The hacker then made screen grabs of the new files and e-mailed those to the names on the weekend distribution list. As seen above, “Guccifer” made sure, of course, to choose the despised Comic Sans font (and a pink background) when recreating the memos sent to Clinton by Blumenthal, who is pictured at left with the Clintons.

The e-mails this weekend appear to have been sent from the hacked AOL account of the wife of a Hollywood actor. This tactic, which “Guccifer” has previously employed, seems to be another attempt to further shield the hacker’s identity.

As for the location of “Guccifer,” that also remains a mystery. Though two IP addresses connected to the hacker’s recent online maneuvers have been traced to the Russian Federation, TSG has learned. However, this could be indicative of nothing since hackers go to great lengths to obscure their trail via proxies, IP spoofing, and powerful anonymizing software like Tor.

“Guccifer,” though, did show some familiarity with the Russian media in Saturday’s e-mail blast. While the majority of the journalists to whom he sent the Blumenthal memos are based in the U.S., “Guccifer” also sent the documents (in a separate e-mail) to about two dozen reporters working for Russian outlets like Pravda, the Moscow Times, The St. Petersburg Times, and the RT news channel.

http://www.thesmokinggun.com/buster/sidney-blumenthal/hacker-distributes-memos-784091

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« Reply #8192 on: Mar 19th, 2013, 10:28am »






Published on Mar 18, 2013

These lights were witnessed by many people and are in triangular formation as seen in the screenshot from the local news video below. The lights were reported by many on Twitter and there is more than one video source of them. Many triangle UFOs have been reported in Detroit over the last 50 or so years of UFO reports.

~

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« Reply #8193 on: Mar 20th, 2013, 10:49am »

Reuters

U.S. ambassador to Syria: no evidence to back chemical weapons report

By Patricia Zengerle and Mark Hosenball

WASHINGTON
Wed Mar 20, 2013 11:28am EDT

(Reuters) - The U.S. ambassador to Syria told Congress on Wednesday that there is so far no evidence to back reports that chemical weapons were used in Syria on Tuesday.

"So far, we have no evidence which substantiates the reports that chemical weapons were used yesterday. But I want to underline that we are looking very carefully at these reports," Robert Ford, who was recalled from Damascus in February 2012, said during a U.S. House of Representatives hearing.

Separately, U.S. and European officials told Reuters there was no confirmation that either the forces of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad or his rebel opponents had used chemical weapons, as each side had asserted.

"We can't corroborate the CW claims at this point," one U.S. official said, speaking on condition of anonymity. Another official said the U.S. government was continuing to investigate.

Assad's government and rebels accused each other of launching a deadly chemical attack near the northern city of Aleppo on Tuesday in what would, if confirmed, be the first use of such weapons in the two-year conflict.

The White House and State Department expressed deep skepticism over the Syrian government's claims regarding the rebels.

"We view this issue with extreme seriousness," Ford told the congressional hearing. "Right now we are trying to verify the reports we have seen recently about the use."

"There are reports about them being used both in the north and in the Damascus suburbs, the eastern suburbs of Damascus," he said.

U.S. President Barack Obama has warned there would be consequences if Syria uses chemical weapons, without spelling out what those would be.

Ford said Washington has regular discussions with countries that have interests in Syria, urging them to "pass the warning" to Assad and his government.

(Editing by Warren Strobel and Vicki Allen)


http://www.reuters.com/article/2013/03/20/us-syria-crisis-usa-ambassador-idUSBRE92J0PB20130320

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« Reply #8194 on: Mar 20th, 2013, 10:53am »

Seattle Times

AP: Costs of U.S. wars linger for over 100 years

If history is any judge, the U.S. government will be paying for the Iraq and Afghanistan wars for the next century as service members and their families grapple with the sacrifices of combat.

By MIKE BAKER
Associated Press

Originally published March 19, 2013 at 1:59 AM
Page modified March 20, 2013 at 6:55 AM

OLYMPIA, Wash. —

If history is any judge, the U.S. government will be paying for the Iraq and Afghanistan wars for the next century as service members and their families grapple with the sacrifices of combat.

An Associated Press analysis of federal payment records found that the government is still making monthly payments to relatives of Civil War veterans - 148 years after the conflict ended.

At the 10 year anniversary of the start of the Iraq war, more than $40 billion a year are going to compensate veterans and survivors from the Spanish-American War from 1898, World War I and II, the Korean War, the Vietnam War, the two Iraq campaigns and the Afghanistan conflict. And those costs are rising rapidly.

U.S. Sen. Patty Murray said such expenses should remind the nation about war's long-lasting financial toll.

"When we decide to go to war, we have to consciously be also thinking about the cost," said Murray, D-Wash., adding that her WWII-veteran father's disability benefits helped feed their family.

Alan Simpson, a former Republican senator and veteran who co-chaired President Barack Obama's deficit committee in 2010, said government leaders working to limit the national debt should make sure that survivors of veterans need the money they are receiving.

"Without question, I would affluence-test all of those people," Simpson said.

With greater numbers of troops surviving combat injuries because of improvements in battlefield medicine and technology, the costs of disability payments are set to rise much higher.

The AP identified the disability and survivor benefits during an analysis of millions of federal payment records obtained under the Freedom of Information Act.

To gauge the post-war costs of each conflict, AP looked at four compensation programs that identify recipients by war: disabled veterans; survivors of those who died on active duty or from a service-related disability; low-income wartime vets over age 65 or disabled; and low-income survivors of wartime veterans or their disabled children.

-The Iraq wars and Afghanistan

So far, the wars in Iraq, Afghanistan and the first Persian Gulf conflict in the early 1990s are costing about $12 billion a year to compensate those who have left military service or family members of those who have died.

Those post-service compensation costs have totaled more than $50 billion since 2003, not including expenses of medical care and other benefits provided to veterans, and are poised to grow for many years to come.

The new veterans are filing for disabilities at historic rates, with about 45 percent of those from Iraq and Afghanistan seeking compensation for injuries. Many are seeking compensation for a variety of ailments at once.

Experts see a variety of factors driving that surge, including a bad economy that's led more jobless veterans to seek the financial benefits they've earned, troops who survive wounds of war and more awareness about head trauma and mental health.

-Vietnam War

It's been 40 years since the U.S. ended its involvement in the Vietnam War, and yet payments for the conflict are still rising.

Now above $22 billion annually, Vietnam compensation costs are roughly twice the size of the FBI's annual budget. And while many disabled Vietnam vets have been compensated for post-traumatic stress disorder, hearing loss or general wounds, other ailments are positioning the war to have large costs even after veterans die.

Based on an uncertain link to the defoliant Agent Orange that was used in Vietnam, federal officials approved diabetes a decade ago as an ailment that qualifies for cash compensation - and it is now the most compensated ailment for Vietnam vets.

The VA also recently included heart disease among the Vietnam medical issues that qualify, and the agency is seeing thousands of new claims for that issue. Simpson said he has a lot of concerns about the government agreeing to automatically compensate for those diseases.

"That has been terribly abused," Simpson said.

Since heart disease is common among older Americans and is the nation's leading cause of death, the future deaths of thousands of Vietnam veterans could be linked to their service and their benefits passed along to survivors.

A congressional analysis estimated the cost of fighting the war was $738 billion in 2011 dollars, and the post-war benefits for veterans and families have separately cost some $270 billion since 1970, according to AP calculations.

-World War I, World War II and the Korean War

World War I, which ended 94 years ago, continues to cost taxpayers about $20 million every year. World War II? $5 billion.

Compensation for WWII veterans and families didn't peak until 1991 - 46 years after the war ended - and annual costs since then have only declined by about 25 percent. Korean War costs appear to be leveling off at about $2.8 billion per year.

Of the 2,289 survivors drawing cash linked to WWI, about one-third are spouses and dozens of them are over 100 years in age.

Some of the other recipients are curious: Forty-seven of the spouses are under the age of 80, meaning they weren't born until years after the war ended. Many of those women were in their 20s and 30s when their aging spouses died in the 1960s and 1970s, and they've been drawing the monthly payments since.

-Civil War and Spanish-American War

There are 10 living recipients of benefits tied to the 1898 Spanish-American War at a total cost of about $50,000 per year. The Civil War payments are going to two children of veterans - one in North Carolina and one in Tennessee- each for $876 per year.

Surviving spouses can qualify for lifetime benefits when troops from current wars have a service-linked death. Children under the age of 18 can also qualify, and those benefits are extended for a lifetime if the person is permanently incapable of self-support due to a disability before the age of 18.

Citing privacy, officials did not disclose the names of the two children getting the Civil War benefits.

Their ages suggest the one in Tennessee was born around 1920 and the North Carolina survivor was born around 1930. A veteran who was young during the Civil War would likely have been roughly 70 or 80 years old when the two people were born.

That's not unheard of. At age 86, Juanita Tudor Lowrey is the daughter of a Civil War veteran. Her father, Hugh Tudor, fought in the Union army. After his first wife died, Tudor was 73 when he remarried her 33-year-old mother in 1920. Lowrey was born in 1926.

Lowrey, who lives in Kearney, Mo., suspects the marriage might have been one of convenience, with her father looking for a housekeeper and her mother looking for some security. He died a couple years after she was born, and Lowrey received pension benefits until she was 18.

Now, Lowrey said, she usually gets skepticism from people after she tells them she's a daughter of a Civil War veteran.

"We're few and far between," Lowrey said.

http://seattletimes.com/html/nationworld/2020591005_apuscominghomecosts.html

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« Reply #8195 on: Mar 20th, 2013, 11:05am »

Der Spiegel

Banks on the Brink: ECB May Cut Emergency Funding to Cyprus

20 March 2013

Following the Cypriot parliament's Tuesday evening rejection of the euro-zone bailout package for the country's ailing banks, many have begun looking to assign guilt for the debacle. And in both Nicosia and Berlin, many have identified Chancellor Angela Merkel as bearing much of the blame.

More important, however, is identifying what to do next. And even as Cyprus has turned to Russia on Wednesday in the hopes of finding billions in emergency funding, some European leaders have begun increasing the rhetorical pressure on Nicosia, clearly articulating the potential consequences of the country's move.

German Finance Minister Wolfgang Schäuble on Tuesday night told German public broadcaster ZDF that Berlin "regrets that the Cypriot parliament has rejected the program negotiated by the Euro Group and the Cypriot government." He then implied that the common currency area still holds all the levers. Two of the country's largest banks, he said, are being propped up by emergency liquidity from the European Central Bank (ECB). "Someone needs to explain this to the Cypriots," he said, ominously.

Merkel said that "of course Germany wants a solution" but added that "the current banking sector is not sustainable."

For anyone who somehow missed the message, ECB Executive Board member Jörg Asmussen spelled out the potential consequences on Wednesday in an interview with influential German weekly Die Zeit. The ECB, he said, "can only provide emergency liquidity to solvent banks." He made clear that he has doubts that Cypriot banks are solvent.

'Bottomless Pit'

Austrian Finance Minister Maria Fekter likewise threatened an ECB funding stop. If Cyprus didn't come up with a new plan quickly, she said, then "the banks won't open on Friday because the ECB will not provide any more liquidity. That is a more horrible scenario than what is on the table now. We will certainly help the Cypriots, but only under conditions that make sense. Certainly neither the ESM nor the ECB can allow a bottomless pit."

Media reports appear to back Fekter's assessment. Citing sources within the Cypriot government, German news agency DPA reported on Wednesday morning that banks in the Mediterranean island nation might remain closed through the end of this week. Because next Monday is a bank holiday, they wouldn't reopen until next Tuesday.

Still, Fekter's "bottomless pit" warning would seem to be something of an exaggeration. The numbers involved are not huge; the plan rejected on Tuesday called for the European bailout fund, the European Stability Mechanism (ESM), to provide a €10 billion emergency loan. A further €5.8 billion was to come from a one-time levy on those who hold accounts with Cypriot banks. The modest size of the bailout is likely the reason for the apparent lack of concern with which financial markets have taken note of the Cypriot rejection. The euro is up against the dollar on Wednesday and the German stock market is also trading in the black. A Portuguese debt sale also went off without a hitch.

Anger with Germany, though, remains high. Indeed, images of Merkel wearing a Hitler moustache -- similar to posters used from Madrid to Athens -- have begun to appear in protests in Nicosia.

Merkel, of course, has become used to the insults from abroad. But now, following the Cypriot parliament's clear rejection on Tuesday evening of a bailout package designed to prop up its ailing banks, the attacks are coming from much closer to home. Germany's opposition Social Democrats, who have long begrudgingly backed Merkel's euro-crisis course, have blasted the chancellor for bungling the Cyprus bailout.

The Difficulty of Restoring Trust

"Even if Merkel would prefer to ignore it: The Cyprus disaster bears her handwriting," SPD head Sigmar Gabriel told SPIEGEL ONLINE on Tuesday evening. "Angela Merkel has made it possible that a country with fewer inhabitants than (the small German state of) Saarland has plunged the entire euro zone into chaos."

He said that she was deeply involved in the negotiations over the package, which called for holders of accounts in Cypriot banks to be charged a one-time levy to help raise money to prop up the country's financial institutions. "Merkel is partially responsible for the fact that in Cyprus, small savers are to pay the bill while bank owners are untouched," Gabriel said. "Restoring trust in Europe will be difficult."

SPD parliamentarian floor leader Frank-Walter Steinmeier joined in on Wednesday morning, although he shied away from frontal attacks on Merkel. "Yesterday evening, the euro crisis returned," he said on public television station ARD. "The chaos is complete."

The comments, no doubt, were made with an eye toward general elections this autumn. The SPD has repeatedly signalled that it would no longer simply rubber-stamp Merkel's bailout plans and had threatened to veto aid to Cyprus if certain conditions were not met. Given the significant number of euro-crisis rebels in Merkel's own ranks -- and growing frustration among the German populace -- the threat is one that the Chancellery has taken seriously.

But the initial reactions also reflected the concern that Nicosia's "no" has triggered. Casting blame is the easy part; coming up with a solution is another matter. Initial hopes that Russia might jump in to help out may not prove realistic. Steinmeier, formerly Germany's foreign minister, said "we are misleading ourselves a little bit when we assume that Cyprus is a particular favorite of Russia's."

Should Moscow refuse, the Church of Cyprus has said it would be willing to leap into the void. Cypriot Archbishop Chrysostomos II says he would put all of the church's assets at the country's disposal to help pull it out of crisis.

http://www.spiegel.de/international/europe/ecb-may-cut-emergency-funding-to-cypriot-banks-after-refusal-a-889967.html

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« Reply #8196 on: Mar 20th, 2013, 11:53am »

Blastr


New Scottish law might mean a Jedi could officiate your wedding

Matthew Jackson
Tue, 03/19/2013 - 5:58pm

"Kiss the bride, you may."

Yoda speech, long brown robes, John Williams music and a canopy of raised lightsabers probably aren't new things in the realm of geek weddings, but depending on how the government ends up interpreting a new marriage law, you may soon be able to get legally married in Scotland by a real-life Jedi.

The Marriage and Civil Partnership (Scotland) Bill which the government is considering right now would allow you to get married by a group promoting a "belief," though not necessarily a religious one. If it passes, it would mean that in addition to having the option of being married by a judge or by a priest (or rabbi, etc.), you could also get married by a member of any group promoting a certain belief. That word "belief" could open up marriage ceremonies to a wide variety of groups, and the Free Church of Scotland doesn't seem too happy about that.

"The third category is quite astonishing because it is the so-called belief category without really defining what belief means," said Church spokesman Reverend Iver Martin. "There are loads of people in a diverse society like this for whom belief can mean virtually anything - the Flat Earth Society and Jedi Knights Society - who knows?

"I am not saying that we don't give place to that kind of personal belief, but when you start making allowances for marriages to be performed within those categories then you are all over the place."

The government is conducting "public consultation" on the bill right now, in part because the government's classification of which groups are considered "religious" is already a bit murky.

"Our current consultation covers not only the introduction of same sex marriage but also the detail of important protections in relation to religious bodies and celebrants, freedom of speech and education," a government spokeswoman said. "As part of the consultation we have outlined the reason for suggesting a third type of ceremony.

"At the moment, marriage ceremonies by bodies such as humanists have been classed as religious, even though the beliefs of such organisations are non-religious."

So, if the government does create that "third category," would people who profess to be Jedis (or, say, Asgardian worshippers or Cthulhu cultists or even Bruce Lee enthusiasts) be guaranteed the ability to marry people who also profess those beliefs? According to the spokeswoman, that'll depend ...

"We are proposing the introduction of tests which a religious or belief body would have to meet before they could be authorised to solemnise marriage."

So, if the bill passes and the Jedi way of life stands up to government "tests," we could be in for some very interesting weddings in Scotland very soon.

http://www.blastr.com/2013-3-19/new-scottish-law-might-mean-jedi-could-officiate-your-wedding

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« Reply #8197 on: Mar 21st, 2013, 08:16am »




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« Reply #8198 on: Mar 22nd, 2013, 09:18am »

Has anyone heard from DrDil? His site is down. I hope he's okay.

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« Reply #8199 on: Mar 22nd, 2013, 09:21am »

AZ Central

By Cathryn Creno
The Republic
Mar 21, 2013 10:56 PM


Mesa Public Schools retrained school cafeteria workers in proper food-storage techniques this week after first-graders at Adams Elementary School were served mold-tainted sandwiches and carrots during a field trip.

It has not been determined whether any cafeteria staff will be disciplined as a result of the incident.

The bad food was thrown away, and the children were given free hot lunches at the Adams cafeteria after arriving back at school from Tuesday’s trip to the Mesa Arts Center, district spokeswoman Helen Hollands said.

“This was a very serious situation,” she said.

Adams’ refrigerators did not fail, Hollands said — the bad food was the result of workers’ mistakes.

Parents and teachers who were on the trip described the sandwiches as “hard” and “green.”

Hollands said that three classes of students were on the trip, but she did not know exactly how many bad lunches were served.

“Fortunately, the trip was relatively early in the day,” she said. “Students were told to throw the sandwiches and carrots away but were allowed to eat chips and juice drinks that were included in the bags.

“Of course, that was not a balanced lunch, so when they returned to school, they were allowed to go through the cafeteria line.”

Hollands said district staff on Wednesday gave all cafeteria workers in the district who are involved with food storage additional training on correct storage temperatures.

She said Adams is the only school in the district that has had a recent incident with moldy food.

Mesa schools, the largest district in Arizona with 82 schools, serves 45,000 lunches and 10,000 a la carte items daily in a food program that generates about $28 million a year.

Elementary-school students pay $1.85 per meal unless they receive federal free or reduced-cost lunches.

The school district makes most of its meals from scratch and has revamped many of its recipes in the past year to conform to new, more healthful guidelines from the federal government.

The district has also hired 30 new part-time workers and spent nearly $200,000 on new equipment to help handle the additional fresh foods being served this year.

http://www.azcentral.com/community/mesa/articles/20130320mesa-school-served-moldy-food-students.html?nclick_check=1

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« Reply #8200 on: Mar 22nd, 2013, 09:25am »

Northern Voices Online

UFO sightings: 2013 sees heightened UFO activity in South Africa

13 March 2013

UFO sightings are becoming a commonplace. The year 2013 has seen heightened UFO activity in South Africa and nearby other nations.

Someone following you to keep a check on you often, Scary, isn’t it? The people of Cape Town actually have a reason to get scared and that too from aliens. Even more chilling. The founder of a website set up to record such incidents has stated that inhabitants of the Mother City are being observed by life from another planet as they have reported sightings of unidentified flying objects off the coast of Cape Town.

Founder of the UFO Research of South Africa, Gert Jordaan, informed that the action happened more from February 21 to February 27. People often stated that they saw bright orange lights and flames in the sky.

He however stated that these might have been due to meteor showers but there can be an interesting side to it as well.

He stated that meteors radiate an orange glow and some of the sightings reported radical change in direction and speed. He further added that there were bright objects that remained stationary for sometime giving a thought that this might be a UFO activity in areas around Cape Town.

He also stated that possibilities are many like a secret aircraft on a sortie or being tested near Cape Town.

Another side to this conversation can be aliens trying to make contact with Earth near Western Cape and trying to send some information across that is to be deciphered.

Nicola Loaring, outreach astronomer for the South African Astronomical Observatory, stated that the closest possibility can be meteor showers. These are small rocks and when they enter the Earth’s atmosphere, they burn emitting an orange light. They are common and can change colours from orange to green and finish up in white.

She stated that such activities keep happening and with the recent buzz on world coming to an end prediction, they were just spotted more often.

She added that when people observe light, they start feeling that the world is coming to an end.

The news got more attention with a rescue operation launched on February 24 in Port Alfred in the Eastern Cape, after an eye witness informed that it saw an airplane crash down into the sea close to the Bihra River’s mouth.

It started to sound bizarre after South Africa’s National Sea Rescue Institute said that at 8 pm a rescue boat was launched and the police was on a high alert for investigating signs of aircraft missing or overdue but no such incident came to light. There were absolutely no reports of any air accident or an aircraft crashing down.

more after the jump:
http://nvonews.com/2013/03/13/ufo-sightings-2013-sees-hieghtened-ufo-activity-in-south-africa/

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« Reply #8201 on: Mar 22nd, 2013, 09:29am »

Washington Post

Drone base in Niger gives U.S. a strategic foothold in West Africa

By Craig Whitlock
22 March 2013

NIAMEY, Niger — The newest outpost in the U.S. government’s empire of drone bases sits behind a razor-wire-topped wall outside this West African capital, blasted by 110-degree heat and the occasional sandstorm blowing from the Sahara.

The U.S. Air Force began flying a handful of unarmed Predator drones from here last month. The gray, mosquito-shaped aircraft emerge sporadically from a borrowed hangar and soar north in search of al-Qaeda fighters and guerrillas from other groups hiding in the region’s untamed deserts and hills.

The harsh terrain of North and West Africa is rapidly emerging as yet another front in the United States’ long-running war against terrorist networks, a conflict that has fueled a revolution in drone warfare.

Since taking office in 2009, President Obama has relied heavily on drones for operations, both declared and covert, in Afghanistan, Iraq, Pakistan, Yemen, Libya and Somalia. U.S. drones also fly from allied bases in Turkey, Italy, Saudi Arabia, Qatar, the United Arab Emirates and the Philippines.

Now, they are becoming a fixture in Africa. The U.S. military has built a major drone hub in Djibouti, on the Horn of Africa, and flies unarmed Reaper drones from Ethiopia. Until recently, it conducted reconnaissance flights over East Africa from the island nation of the Seychelles.

The Predator drones in Niger, a landlocked and dirt-poor country, give the Pentagon a strategic foothold in West Africa. Niger shares a long border with Mali, where an al-Qaeda affiliate and other Islamist groups have taken root. Niger also borders Libya and Nigeria, which are also struggling to contain armed extremist movements.

Like other U.S. drone bases, the Predator operations in Niger are shrouded in secrecy. The White House announced Feb. 22 that Obama had deployed about 100 military personnel to Niger on an “intelligence collection” mission, but it did not make any explicit reference to drones.

Since then, the Defense Department has publicly acknowledged the presence of drones here but has revealed little else. The Africa Command, which oversees U.S. military missions on the continent, denied requests from a Washington Post reporter to interview American troops in Niger or to tour the military airfield where the drones are based, near Niamey’s international airport.

Government officials in Niger, a former French colony, were slightly more forthcoming. President Issoufou Mahamadou said his government invited Washington to send surveillance drones because he was worried that the country might not be able to defend its borders from Islamist fighters based in Mali, Libya or Nigeria.

more after the jump:
http://www.washingtonpost.com/world/national-security/drone-base-in-niger-gives-us-a-strategic-foothold-in-west-africa/2013/03/21/700ee8d0-9170-11e2-9c4d-798c073d7ec8_story.html?hpid=z1

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« Reply #8202 on: Mar 22nd, 2013, 09:33am »








March 21 2013


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« Reply #8203 on: Mar 22nd, 2013, 09:36am »




Please be an angel



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« Reply #8204 on: Mar 22nd, 2013, 7:41pm »

Uh oh! laugh



Punxsutawney Phil 'Indicted' Over Spring Forecast

By: Amanda Lee Myers and Mark Scolforo
Published: March 22, 2013

CINCINNATI - Famed groundhog Punxsutawney Phil might want to go back into hibernation.

Authorities in still-frigid Ohio have issued an "indictment" of the furry rodent, who predicted an early spring when he didn't see his shadow after emerging from his western Pennsylvania lair on Feb. 2.

"Punxsutawney Phil did purposely, and with prior calculation and design, cause the people to believe that spring would come early," Mike Gmoser, the prosecutor in southwestern Ohio's Butler County, wrote in an official-looking indictment.

Gmoser wrote that Punxsutawney Phil is charged with misrepresentation of spring, which constitutes a felony "against the peace and dignity of the state of Ohio."

The penalty Phil faces? Gmoser says - tongue firmly in cheek - is death.
Punxsutawney Phil does not have a listed phone number.

Bill Deeley, president of the Punxsutawney club that organizes Groundhog Day, said Phil has a lawyer and would fight any extradition attempt by Ohio authorities.

Deeley defended his fur-bearing associate and said the death penalty was "very harsh" given the nature of the allegations.
"We'll have to plead our case one way or the other, but I think we can beat the rap," Deeley said.

The vitriolic backlash on social media to Phil's dead-wrong prognostication has not gone unnoticed in and around Gobbler's Knob, Deeley said, and special security precautions were in place.

"Right next to where Phil stays is the police station," he said. "They've been notified and they said they will keep watching their monitors."

http://www.wunderground.com/news/punxsutawney-phil-sued-20130322
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