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 veryhotthread  Author  Topic: Stuff & Nonsense  (Read 146623 times)
WingsofCrystal
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« Reply #8250 on: Mar 31st, 2013, 08:26am »

Radar Online

Jesus Vs. Zombies! ‘The Bible’ & ‘The Walking Dead’ Face Off In One Hell Of An Easter Battle

Posted on Mar 31, 2013 @ 6:01AM
By Radar Staff

Easter is shaping up to be one hell of a TV ratings battle pitting Jesus against zombies as The Bible and The Walking Dead will square off for the final time.

History Channel’s smash hit biblical mini-series will wrap up with its fifth and final episode Sunday night, going against AMC’s zombie ratings winner, which is concluding its third season.

Both cable TV titans promise to go out with a bang, as producer Mark Burnett’s The Bible depicts the crucifixion and resurrection of Jesus and The Walking Dead‘s shocker kills off key cast members.

The shows have gone head-to-head in the Sunday ratings for the past four weeks. Last week, The Walking Dead triumphed with 10.9 million viewers, while The Bible was close behind with 10.3. The week before, however, Jesus won the ratings race with 29,000 more viewers than TV’s favorite zombies.

http://radaronline.com/exclusives/2013/03/jesus-battles-zombies-on-easter/

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« Reply #8251 on: Mar 31st, 2013, 09:14am »

on Mar 31st, 2013, 07:55am, WingsofCrystal wrote:
Happy Easter



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Happy Easter, Everyone!

This is my favorite time of year, buy far. The Weather is finally real nice, with warm days stretching off to the horizon. Things are starting to bloom, and soon the world will come alive with exuberent life popping out everywhere.

Well, at least in the Northern Hemisphere. I hope we all can take some time to enjoy it. It's just too easy to get wrapped up in day to day struggles that don't seem to ever end. We have to take the time to savor what we have.
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« Reply #8252 on: Apr 1st, 2013, 09:18am »

on Mar 31st, 2013, 09:14am, Lev Jong Un wrote:
Happy Easter, Everyone!

This is my favorite time of year, buy far. The Weather is finally real nice, with warm days stretching off to the horizon. Things are starting to bloom, and soon the world will come alive with exuberent life popping out everywhere.

Well, at least in the Northern Hemisphere. I hope we all can take some time to enjoy it. It's just too easy to get wrapped up in day to day struggles that don't seem to ever end. We have to take the time to savor what we have.


Good morning Lev,

Good words to live by. Stop and watch the flowers bloom again and revel in being alive. It's Spring!

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« Reply #8253 on: Apr 1st, 2013, 09:21am »

Defense News

U.S. Military Cargo Removal From Afghanistan To Cost $5B to $6B

Mar. 31, 2013 - 11:47AM
By AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE

KABUL — The U.S. operation to remove military hardware and vehicles from Afghanistan as troops withdraw after 12 years of war will cost between $5 billion and $6 billion, officials said Sunday.

Among statistics released by the military about the process known as a “retrograde” was that 25,000 vehicles have been shipped out of Afghanistan in the last year and another 25,000 remain in the country.

About 100,000 containers are also still in Afghanistan, and will be used to remove mountains of equipment ranging from fighting gear to fitness machines, furniture and computers.

“The retrograde from Afghanistan is one of the most challenging military transportation operations in history in terms of scale and complexity,” Brig. Gen. Steven Shapiro said in an email.

“Our number of vehicles in Afghanistan has dropped by nearly half in the past year.”

Shapiro, the commanding general of 1st Theater Sustainment Command, said decisions were being made on what equipment was left for the Afghan army and police to take on the fight against Taliban insurgents.

“Ground commanders are able to nominate this equipment as they assess the needs and maintenance capabilities of their Afghan partners and numbers will vary,” he said.

“The figures of $5 to $6 billion corresponds to the total cost of retrograde from 2012 through 2014, and they’re constantly being reevaluated.”

Most of the hardware will be flown out of land-locked Afghanistan or taken by road to the Pakistani port of Karachi, though the route has been hit by militant attacks and was temporarily closed by spats between Washington and Islamabad.

http://www.defensenews.com/article/20130331/DEFREG02/303310007/U-S-Military-Cargo-Removal-From-Afghanistan-Cost-5B-6B?odyssey=tab

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« Reply #8254 on: Apr 1st, 2013, 09:24am »







~

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« Reply #8255 on: Apr 1st, 2013, 09:28am »

Wired

Alt Text: Dividing Up Space-Mining Rights With the Help of Sinistar

By Lore Sjöberg
04.01.13
6:30 AM

As increasing numbers of vessels are being shot into space powered by pure liquid capitalism, we are beginning to face issues that previously have only been the concern of science fiction writers, loopy futurists and economists. One concern that’s looming on the horizon (as only things on the horizon can loom) is the issue of mining rights in space. How do we determine who gets the right to extract asteroids of their valuable whatever they have? Asteroidium or something.

Luckily, we have millennia of human history to consult and see the best way to divide up land rights. Looks like … hmm. Basically, people kill each other a bunch until someone becomes powerful enough that the government declares they owned the land all along. Then there’s a bit more killing and we’re done.

So, yeah, maybe we can improve on that. Here are three suggestions for equitably, or at least amusingly, divvying up the astroswag.

1. Plant a Flag

This is probably the most straightforward and reasonable method, but I like it nonetheless. This is what people do in cartoons when they want to claim a world or a mine or, perhaps a dog, if they’re a flea. They shove a flag into the ground and say something like, “I hereby claim this asteroid in the name of the Nation of Bransonia.” Two things, though. It has to be a real flag. And it has to be a real person. No robots with tiny sandwich flags.

Advantage: Life will be more like cartoons, which is always a good thing.

Disadvantage: People shoot each other a lot in cartoons.

2. Simulation

It might be best to decide who gets the asteroids before anyone actually leaves the planet. But this requires determining who will be the best steward of our precious extraterrestrial resources, preferably through some sort of computer simulation. Luckily, the perfect asteroid-mining simulation was created in 1982, and is called Sinistar. This arcade game challenges you to extract flashing dots from asteroids while avoiding a giant evil space head that yells at you in a bowel-emptying tone of voice. Ideally, we would also put an actual giant evil space head in the asteroid belt, but I’m willing to compromise.

Advantage: If asteroids actually contain flashing dots, we’re set.

Disadvantage: The game’s pretty tough, and acquiring enough quarters to beat it might bankrupt aerospace corporations.

3. Pre-Registration

As it turns out, there are already several companies in the business of assigning asteroid rights. These companies will, for a small fee, name an asteroid after you or a loved one. A small, ridiculously overpriced fee, as it turns out, because these registries have absolutely no validity or standing. But what if they did? We could just say that the person an asteroid is “named” after owns the rights to that asteroid. This will have the dual benefits of resolving rights quickly, and rewarding people who ordered stuff out of the back of Omni magazine in the ’80s.

Advantage: I’d own an asteroid. Thanks, mom!

Disadvantage: With my luck, it’s probably about as valuable as old issues of Omni magazine.

http://www.wired.com/underwire/2013/04/space-mining-sinistar/

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« Reply #8256 on: Apr 1st, 2013, 09:32am »

Telegraph

Armed guard on Alp victim's brother, Zaid-Al Hilli

Police fear for the safety of the brother of a British engineer murdered in the French Alps alongside two members of his family and have installed a panic alarm in his home that triggers an armed response.

By Andrew Hough
10:23PM BST 31 Mar 2013

Security has been stepped up at the home of Zaid-Al Hilli, 53, in the wake of the quadruple murder at a beauty spot close to Lake Annecy, in eastern France, last year, The Daily Telegraph can disclose.

It emerged on Sunday that Zaid, who is alleged to have been involved in a dispute with his brother over a family inheritance, has been questioned by French police at his home in Chessington, Surrey, for the first time.

Shortly after this newspaper knocked on his front door to ask him about the development, several Metropolitan Police units, containing heavily armed officers, swooped on the address, accompanied by colleagues from Surrey Police.

A reporter and a photographer were spoken to by police before being told “no further action” would be taken.

It is believed that Zaid, who has insisted he is completely innocent of any wrong-doing and had a good relationship with his brother, has told British police officers he is fearful for his safety and that he may be a target for his brother's killer.

Details of the escalation in his security arrangements come after his 50 year-old Iraqi-born brother Saad Al-Hilli was killed in a cold blooded shooting in the family’s BMW seven months ago.

The murder, which remains unsolved, also claimed the life of the Saad’s wife Ikbal, 47, Mrs Al-Hilli’s mother Suhalia, 74 and Sylvian Mollier, a 45 year-old French cyclist.

The attack, on Sept 5, also saw Saad's seven-year-old daughter, Zainab, badly injured, while her four-year-old sister Zeena, was left deeply traumatised.

Both little girls are now in the care of social services, with surviving members of the Al-Hilli family, including Zaid, allowed limited access to them.

French police sources have said that Zaid was asked about his “whereabouts on the day of the tragedy”. He also volunteered information about a possibly disputed will and about Saad’s work as satellite technology engineer.

Eric Maillaud, the Annecy prosecutor who is leading the investigation, has made no secret of his frustration at not being able to interview Zaid at length.

No one has been arrested over the killings, with Mr Maillaud admitting the baffling case “may never be solved”.

It has been claimed that their father, Kadhim Al-Hilli, died in Spain two years ago, leaving a number of properties and cash, including the equivalent of some £800,000, in a bank account in Geneva, which is less than an hour’s driver from the murder scene.

Saad put a legal block on his father’s will, effectively preventing Zaid from inheriting his share until “unknown” disputes had been resolved, according to published legal documents.

The French detectives wanted to question Zaid over claims that he tried to use an expired credit card to withdrew cash from the Geneva account shortly before the killings.

Tonight a Surrey Police spokesman declined to say whether officers held fears that Zaid was a specific target.

She added in a statement: "Around 1pm today two units from Surrey Police attended an address in Chessington alongside officers from the Metropolitan Police Service following a report of a disturbance at the location.

"Two men were spoken to but no offences were disclosed and no arrests were made."

Police sources last night said there was no "special operational cost" incurred as they are considered paid officers.

Last night a Met Police spokesman said: "At approximately 1.10pm today, police were called to attend an address in Chessington. Officers attended the address and two men were spoken to.

"There were no offences disclosed, or apparent, and no one was arrested. There was no further action by police." He declined to comment further.

http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/uknews/crime/9964128/Armed-guard-on-Alp-victims-brother-Zaid-Al-Hilli.html

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« Reply #8257 on: Apr 2nd, 2013, 08:28am »

Der Spiegel

2 April 2013

The Netherlands, Berlin's most important ally in pushing for greater budgetary discipline in Europe, has fallen into an economic crisis itself. The once exemplary economy is suffering from huge debts and a burst real estate bubble, which has stalled growth and endangered jobs.

Michel Scheepens is familiar with risk. The 41-year-old oversees the energy market for the Dutch bank ING, and it's his job to determine whether his employer should finance such projects as a wind farm in Cyprus or a gas-fired power plant in Turkey. Until now, it was always other people's money that was involved.

For some time, however, Scheepens has been experiencing what a poor investment feels like on a personal level. Six years ago, the father of three bought half of a duplex for his family in the commuter town of Nieuw-Vennep, near the North Sea coast. The red brick building cost €430,000 ($552,000), but the bank generously offered him a loan of €500,000, so that there was enough money left over for renovations, along with notary and community fees. Scheepens had intended to resell the house after a few years, as is common in the Netherlands. But then prices tumbled following the Lehman bankruptcy. If the family were to sell the house today, it would have to pay the lender €60,000. His house is "onder water," as Scheepens says.

"Underwater" is a good description of the crisis in a country where large parts of the territory are below sea level. Ironically, the Netherlands, once a model economy, now faces the kind of real estate crisis that has only affected the United States and Spain until now. Banks in the Netherlands have also pumped billions upon billions in loans into the private and commercial real estate market since the 1990s, without ensuring that borrowers had sufficient collateral.

Private homebuyers, for example, could easily find banks to finance more than 100 percent of a property's price. "You could readily obtain a loan for five times your annual salary," says Scheepens, "and all that without a cent of equity." This was only possible because property owners were able to fully deduct mortgage interest from their taxes.

Instead of paying off the loans, borrowers normally put some of the money into an investment fund, month after month, hoping for a profit. The money was to be used eventually to pay off the loan, at least in part. But it quickly became customary to expect the value of a given property to increase substantially. Many Dutch savers expected that the resale of their homes would generate enough money to pay off the loans, along with a healthy profit.

An Economy on the Brink

More than a decade ago, the Dutch central bank recognized the dangers of this euphoria, but its warnings went unheeded. Only last year did the new government, under conservative-liberal Prime Minister Mark Rutte, amend the generous tax loopholes, which gradually began to expire in January. But now it's almost too late. No nation in the euro zone is as deeply in debt as the Netherlands, where banks have a total of about €650 billion in mortgage loans on their books.

Consumer debt amounts to about 250 percent of available income. By comparison, in 2011 even the Spaniards only reached a debt ratio of 125 percent.

The Netherlands is still one of the most competitive countries in the European Union, but now that the real estate bubble has burst, it threatens to take down the entire economy with it. Unemployment is on the rise, consumption is down and growth has come to a standstill. Despite tough austerity measures, this year the government in The Hague will violate the EU deficit criterion, which forbid new borrowing of more than 3 percent of gross domestic product (GDP).

It's a heavy burden, especially for Dutch Finance Minister Jeroen Dijsselbloem, who is also the new head of the Euro Group, and now finds himself in the unexpected role of being both a watchdog for the monetary union and a crisis candidate.

Even €46 billion in austerity measures are apparently not enough to remain within the EU debt limit. Although Dijsselbloem has announced another €4.3 billion in cuts in public service and healthcare, they will only take effect in 2014.

"Sticking the knife in even more deeply" would be "very, very unreasonable," Social Democrat Dijsselbloem told German daily Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung, in an attempt to justify the delay. It's the kind of rhetoric normally heard from Europe's stricken southern countries. The adverse effects of living beyond one's means have become apparent since the financial crisis began. Many of the tightly calculated financing models are no longer working out, and citizens can hardly pay their debts anymore. The prices of commercial and private real estate, which were absurdly high for a time, are sinking dramatically. The once-booming economy is stalling.

Unemployment on the Rise

"A vicious cycle develops in such situations," says Jörg Rocholl, president of the European School of Management and Technology in Berlin and a member of the council of academic advisors to the German Finance Ministry. "Customers have too much debt and cannot service their loans. This causes problems for the banks, which are no longer supplying enough money to the economy. This leads to an economic downturn and high unemployment, which makes loan repayment even more difficult."

The official unemployment rate has already climbed to 7.7 percent. In reality, it is probably much higher, but that has been masked until now by a demographic group called the ZZP. The "Zelfstandigen zonder personeel" ("Self-employed without employees") are remotely related to the German model of the "Ich-AG" ("Me, Inc."). About 800,000 ZZPers currently work in the Netherlands.

One of them is Rob Huisman. The 47-year-old lives with his wife and son in Santpoort, near Haarlem. In 2006 Huisman, an IT specialist, left his position with a large consulting firm to start his own business. It went well at first, with Huisman earning €100 an hour. But over time many customers, both governmental and private, slashed the fees they were willing to pay. Sometimes jobs were simply deleted altogether. "For companies it's worthwhile to let their permanent employees go and then take on temporary work contracts," says the IT expert. "It saves them the social security costs."

There is cutthroat competition among the self-employed, who are undercutting each other to secure occasional jobs. "If you don't accept a job, someone else will snap it up," says Huisman. In addition, he is unable to pay contributions to his retirement fund at the moment. "We are living largely on our savings," he says.

more after the jump:
http://www.spiegel.de/international/europe/economic-crisis-hits-the-netherlands-a-891919.html

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« Reply #8258 on: Apr 2nd, 2013, 08:31am »

Seattle Times

Originally published April 2, 2013 at 4:35 AM
Page modified April 2, 2013 at 6:24 AM

North Korea vows to restart nuclear facilities

By HYUNG-JIN KIM and FOSTER KLUG

Associated Press

SEOUL, South Korea —

North Korea said Tuesday it will escalate production of nuclear weapons material, including restarting a long-shuttered plutonium reactor, in what outsiders see as Pyongyang's latest attempt to extract U.S. concessions by raising fears of war.

A spokesman for the North's General Department of Atomic Energy said scientists will quickly begin work "readjusting and restarting" a uranium enrichment plant and a graphite-moderated, 5-megawatt reactor that could produce a bomb's worth of plutonium each year. Experts considered the uranium announcement to be a public declaration from Pyongyang that it will make highly enriched uranium that could be used for bomb fuel.

The plutonium reactor began operations in 1986 but was shut down in 2007 as part of international nuclear disarmament talks that have since stalled. It wasn't immediately clear if North Korea had already begun work to restart facilities at its main Nyongbyon nuclear complex. Experts estimate it could take anywhere from three months to a year to reactivate the reactor.

The announcement will boost concerns in Washington and among its allies about North Korea's timetable for building a nuclear-tipped missile that can reach the United States, although it is still believed to be years away from developing that technology.

The nuclear vows and a rising tide of threats in recent weeks are seen as efforts by Pyongyang to force disarmament-for-aid talks with Washington and to increase domestic loyalty to young North Korean leader Kim Jong Un by portraying him as a powerful military commander.

Hwang Jihwan, a North Korea expert at the University of Seoul, said the North "is keeping tension and crisis alive to raise stakes ahead of possible future talks with the United States."

"North Korea is asking the world, `What are you going to do about this?'" he said.

The unidentified North Korean atomic spokesman said the measure is meant to resolve the country's acute electricity shortage but is also for "bolstering up the nuclear armed force both in quality and quantity," according to a statement carried by the official Korean Central News Agency.

The statement suggests the North will do more to produce highly enriched uranium, which like plutonium can be used to make nuclear weapons. Uranium worries outsiders because the technology needed to make highly enriched uranium bombs is much easier to hide than huge plutonium facilities. North Korea previously insisted that its uranium enrichment was for electricity - meaning low enriched uranium.

Kim Jin Moo, a North Korea expert at the Korea Institute for Defense Analyses in South Korea, said that by announcing it is "readjusting" all nuclear facilities, including a uranium enrichment plant, North Korea "is blackmailing the international community by suggesting that it will now produce weapons-grade, highly enriched uranium."

U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon said Tuesday that North Korea appears to be "on a collision course with the international community." Speaking in Andorra, the former South Korean foreign minister said the crisis has gone too far and international negotiations are urgently needed.

China, Pyongyang's only major economic and diplomatic supporter, expressed unusual disappointment with Pyongyang. "We noticed North Korea's statement, which we think is regrettable," said Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Hong Lei. Seoul also called it "highly regrettable."

The North's plutonium reactor generates spent fuel rods laced with plutonium and is the core of Nyongbyon. It was disabled under a 2007 deal made at now-dormant aid-for-disarmament negotiations involving the North, the U.S., South Korea, Japan, China and Russia.

In 2008, North Korea destroyed the cooling tower at Nyongbyon in a show of commitment, but the deal later stalled after North Korea balked at allowing intensive international fact-checking of its past nuclear activities. Pyongyang pulled out of the talks after international condemnation of its long-range rocket test in April 2009.

North Korea "is making it clear that its nuclear arms program is the essence of its national security and that it's not negotiable," said Sohn Yong-woo, a professor at the Graduate School of National Defense Strategy of Hannam University in South Korea.

Pyongyang conducted its third nuclear test in February, prompting a new round of U.N. sanctions that have infuriated its leaders. North Korea has since declared that the armistice ending the Korean War in 1953 is void, shut down key military phone and fax hotlines with Seoul, threatened to launch nuclear and rocket strikes on the U.S. mainland and its allies and, most recently, declared at a high-level government assembly that making nuclear arms and a stronger economy are the nation's top priorities.

The Korean Peninsula is technically is a state of war because a truce, not a peace treaty, ended the Korean War. The United States stations 28,500 troops in South Korea as a deterrent to North Korea.

Washington has said it takes the threats seriously, though White House press secretary Jay Carney said Monday the U.S. has not detected any military mobilization or repositioning of forces from Pyongyang.

The North's rising rhetoric has been met by a display of U.S. military strength, including flights of nuclear-capable bombers and stealth jets at annual South Korean-U.S. military drills that the allies call routine but that Pyongyang claims are invasion preparations.

South Koreans are familiar with provocations from the North, but its rhetoric over the last few weeks has raised worries.

"This is a serious concern for me," said Heo Jeong-ja, 70, a cleaning lady in Seoul. "The country has to stay calm, but North Korea threatens us every day."

more after the jump:
http://seattletimes.com/html/nationworld/2020689845_apaskoreastension.html

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« Reply #8259 on: Apr 2nd, 2013, 08:37am »

Science News

Humankind's destructive streak may be older than the species itself

By Erin Wayman
Web edition: April 1, 2013

Some scientists have proposed designating a new geological epoch, the Anthropocene, that would cover the period since humans became the predominant environmental force on the planet. But when would you have it begin? Some geologists argue that the Anthropocene began with the Industrial Revolution, when fossil fuel consumption started influencing climate. Others point back several thousand years earlier to the onset of agriculture, when humans cleared swaths of forest to make way for neat little rows of cultivated crops.

But the roots of the Anthropocene may stretch even farther, deep into the Stone Age: Humans have been driving other species to extinction since before we were even human, back at least 2 million years to the early days of the genus Homo.

The human family grew up in East Africa during an age of carnivores. Species like Australopithecus afarensis foraged for fruits, nuts and seeds amid large (and probably scary) meat-eating mammals such as saber-toothed cats, giant hyenas and otters as big as bears.

Those creatures had their peak about 3.5 million years ago. About a million years after that, hominids invented stone tools. Early species of Homo started to scavenge and eventually hunt other animals, muscling in on the carnivores’ culinary turf. Our ancestors became so good at killing or stealing prey that some meat eaters couldn’t compete, and they died out. Since hitting their peak, the large carnivores of East Africa have lost 99 percent of their diversity.

Lars Werdelin of the Swedish Museum of Natural History and Margaret Lewis of the Richard Stockton College of New Jersey uncovered this decline while studying 29 species of large carnivores that lived in East Africa over the last 3.5 million years. Their sample includes members of the dog, cat, bear, weasel, hyena and civet families.

Werdelin and Lewis didn’t simply add up all the carnivores that went extinct. They also looked for changes in what they call “functional richness” — broadly speaking, a measure of the number of ecological niches that carnivores inhabited. The more niches, the more varied the species must have been. In this case, the researchers assessed how varied carnivore diets were during different periods of time. Analyzing differences in the size and shape of the teeth, the researchers looked for changes in how carnivores chewed, which reveals what kind of foods the animals could eat.

A clear pattern emerged. Starting around 2 million years ago, East African carnivores became less omnivorous. That left a population of “hypercarnivores,” those truly devoted to red meat. But after 1.5 million years ago, even the hypercarnivores started to thin out, Werdelin and Lewis report March 6 in PLOS ONE.

The researchers argue that these events track important milestones in human evolution. They suggest that East Africa’s big, omnivorous mammals were squeezed out when largely plant-eating hominids started to incorporate animal protein into their diet, initially by scavenging. Once our ancestors, probably Homo erectus, became dedicated hunters and fashioned more sophisticated tools, hypercarnivores such as the saber-toothed cat felt the competition and their numbers also dwindled.

Hominids may not have been the sole driver of carnivore extinction. East Africa became much cooler and drier some 3 million to 1 million years ago, and grasslands replaced forests. But time lags between pulses of intense climate change and carnivore declines may make hominid competition the more likely culprit, Werdelin and Lewis say. The idea could be further tested, they suggest, by investigating whether similar carnivore changes coincided with the emergence of hominid hunting in nearby southern Africa.

We already know what happened many times over when prehistoric Homo sapiens entered a region that had never before been home to a hominid: Animals died in large numbers. After our species ventured into North America for the first time around 15,000 years ago, about two-thirds of the continent’s large mammal genera disappeared. A similar thing happened in South America. With current evidence, however, climate change can’t yet be ruled out as a player in these extinctions.

More recently, as humans colonized the islands of the Pacific Ocean roughly 700 to 3,500 years ago we annihilated nearly 1,000 species of land birds, researchers recently calculated. In Madagascar, humans arrived about 2,500 years ago, and soon after all of the island’s endemic large animals vanished.

That brings us to today. Biologists claim we’re witnessing Earth’s sixth mass extinction, with species dying off at rates more than 100 times normal background levels. We can’t blame an asteroid strike for this carnage, only our own behavior. The level of destruction is unprecedented, but not unexpected given our genus’s history. The difference now is that we’ve come to a point where we’re not only capable of destroying life, but of choosing to save it, too.

http://www.sciencenews.org/view/generic/id/349305/description/Humankinds_destructive_streak_may_be_older_than_the__species_itself

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« Reply #8260 on: Apr 2nd, 2013, 08:50am »

Big Shiny Robot

by Gonk
1 April 2013

At WonderCon, Dark Horse announced that the rough draft screenplay of Star Wars will be adapted into The Star Wars, by J. W. Rinzler (of The Making Of Star Wars books) and Mike Mayhew.

At the Star Wars comics panel at WonderCon on Sunday, Dark Horse Comics announced a new title coming this fall: The Star Wars, based on George Lucas’ original 1974 screenplay and the concept art by Ralph McQuarrie. This eight-issue arc will tell the Star Wars story as it was in the first drafts. Bleeding Cool has some of the concept art shown at WonderCon: Jedi Annikin Starkiller, General Luke Skywalker, and more.

From the official press release:

“I’m not sure where I first read about The Star Wars—it was years and years ago—but the idea of Luke Skywalker being an older Jedi General, and Han Solo being a six-foot-tall lizard, turned my Star Wars fan brain on its side,” said longtime Star Wars editor Randy Stradley. “I always assumed this would be one of those stories that would be ‘lost to history,’ so getting to work on bringing it to life is kinda like a dream come true.”

“While researching in the Lucasfilm Archives I’ve found many treasures—but one which truly astounded me was George’s rough draft for The Star Wars. His first complete imaginings were hallucinating to read—mind blowing,” said writer J.W. Rinzler. “While working with George on another book project, I once asked if we could adapt his rough draft. He was hesitant. Years later, with Dark Horse’s invaluable help, we showed him a few drawn and colored pages of what it might look like. He gave us the okay.”

Rinzler is definitely the right person for the job when handling the adaptation of the rough draft into a full story – as LucasBooks’ executive editor and the author of several Making Of books, he knows the source material (and has access to it), and has written a story or two as well.

more after the jump:
http://www.bigshinyrobot.com/reviews/archives/50548

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« Reply #8261 on: Apr 3rd, 2013, 09:28am »

Foreign Policy

No, 12 million Americans don't believe the country is run by shape-shifting lizards

Posted By Joshua Keating
Tuesday, April 2, 2013 - 5:27 PM

A new Public Policy Poll on conspiracy theories has been getting a lot of attention. Among the survey's big findings are that 51 percent of Americans believe JFK was killed by a conspiracy, 21 percent believe a UFO crashed at Roswell, 13 percent believe Barack Obama is the antichrist, 7 percent believe the moon landing was faked, and 4 percent believe “lizard people” control our societies by gaining political power. A headline on the Atlantic Wire proclaims, "12 million Americans Believe Lizard People Run Our Country."

I'm always a bit surprised that this type of finding is taken at face value. Given the small sample size -- 1,247 voters -- we're talking about 50 people who actually said yes to the question. A long way from 12 million. But I'd hesitate to assume that even those 50 people actually believe this. Applying Occam's razor here, I'm going to assume that the people who answered yes to many of the questions on this survey fall into four categories:

1. The true believers. Some people genuinely do believe this stuff. The shape-shifting lizard theory, popularized by the former BBC sports presenter David Icke, has its adherents, as the recent video above shows. Some of the opinions the survey asks about -- global warming being a hoax or Saddam Hussein being behind the 9/11 attacks -- have been expressed by senior members of the U.S. government. Even the wackier ones have their constituents -- the sort of energetic citizens who call in to C-SPAN's Washington Journal to express their concerns about mind-control lasers or the creative types make elaborate YouTube videos about illuminati rappers.

But I still have a hard time believe the fake-moon-landing or lizard people constituencies are that large. Have this many people even heard of these theories -- some of which reside in the very deep recesses of the Internet -- before the poll-taker brought them up? Most Americans aren't even that informed about events that really did happen.

2. People messing the survey-taker. Can you honestly say that if you were kicking back at home with a couple of beers (or something stronger) one evening and you got a call on the phone asking, "Do you believe that shape-shifting reptilian people control our world by taking on human form and gaining political power to manipulate our societies, or not?" you wouldn't be just a little bit tempted to answer, "Totally, man!"

3. The delusional One summer in college, when I interned at a newspaper in Jersey City, I used to field daily phone calls from a woman who believed that a sinister alliance between the Vatican and the Gambino crime family were sending messages through her sciatic nerve from their headquarters behind the meat counter of the Stop & Shop. (This, by the way, is the most Jersey conspiracy theory of all time.) I'm reasonably sure that if she didn't believe that "the exhaust seen in the sky behind airplanes is actually chemicals sprayed by the government for sinister reasons," as 5 percent of those surveyed apparently do, it's mainly because she hasn't thought of it yet

4. The easily suggestible I'm willing to wager this is the largest category. The day after April Fool's Day is a good time to reflect on the fact that many of us are more suggestible than we'd like to admit. We've all had friends who have unquestioningly shared fake news stories on Facebook (There's a whole blog devoted to them) or relatives who've forwarded us dubious conspiracy e-mails. The questions asked on the survey are detail-heavy and quite specific. For instance: "Do you believe Paul McCartney actually died in a car crash in 1966 and was secretly replaced by a lookalike so The Beatles could continue, or not?"

We might hope that most people would say, no, of course not. If they had even heard of the theory, they would probably know that it was a running joke propagated by the Beatles themselves. But a significant number of people probably just heard all those facts and dates and though, "Huh, well I guess so."

Perhaps there are other explanations, but I'm willing to believe these categories are more likely than a scenario in which 5 percent of Obama voters believe they voted for the antichrist.

As a side note, the biggest surprise to me in the survey was that only 29 percent belive that "aliens exist," while 47 percent don't. Aliens existing period? In the whole universe? That's not a very crazy thing to believe.

http://ideas.foreignpolicy.com/posts/2013/04/02/no_12_million_americans_dont_believe_the_country_is_run_by_shape_shifting_lizards

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« Reply #8262 on: Apr 3rd, 2013, 09:31am »

Reuters

Ex-Goldman trader Taylor turns himself in to authorities: sources

By Lauren Tara LaCapra and Emily Flitter
Wed Apr 3, 2013 9:37am EDT

(Reuters) - Ex-Goldman Sachs Group Inc (GS.N) trader Matthew Marshall Taylor has turned himself in to federal authorities in connection with charges that he defrauded the Wall Street bank out of $118 million in 2007, two sources familiar with the matter said.

Taylor voluntarily turned himself in to agents with the Federal Bureau of Investigation in New York around 8:30 a.m. EDT on Wednesday morning, said the sources, who spoke on condition of anonymity.

The Commodities Futures Trading Commission filed a civil lawsuit against Taylor in November, accusing him of fabricating trades to conceal an $8.3 billion futures position. The CFTC sought $130,000 in penalties.

Taylor's move on Wednesday is related to criminal charges that are expected to come from federal prosecutors in New York. He is expected to plead guilty to those charges later on Wednesday, the sources said. It was not clear precisely what he will be charged with.

An attorney who represented Taylor in his civil case did not immediately respond to a request for a comment. A Goldman spokesman declined to comment.

Goldman itself paid $1.5 million last year to settle charges that it had failed to appropriately supervise Taylor. The bank has since put in place procedures to catch wayward trading activity more quickly.

According to charges outlined against him, Taylor established his futures position in e-mini Standard & Poor's futures contracts on December 13, 2007. The next day, it was flagged by Goldman's controls. By the time the trade had been unwound, it had caused $118 million in losses.

After leaving Goldman Sachs, Taylor moved to a position at Morgan Stanley (MS.N) in March 2008. He left that bank in July 2012.

(Reporting by Lauren Tara LaCapra and Emily Flitter; Editing by Matthew Goldstein, Gerald E. McCormick and Maureen Bavdek)

http://www.reuters.com/article/2013/04/03/us-goldman-trader-idUSBRE9320J320130403

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« Reply #8263 on: Apr 3rd, 2013, 09:34am »







Published on Apr 3, 2013

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« Reply #8264 on: Apr 3rd, 2013, 09:38am »

Seattle Times

Originally published April 2, 2013 at 11:58 PM
Page modified April 3, 2013 at 6:33 AM

Nearly one-fifth of teen births aren’t mothers’ first children

By Geoffrey Mohan
Los Angeles Times

LOS ANGELES — Repeat births among teenagers have fallen, but nearly 1 in 5 children born to teen mothers already has a sibling, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).

Of more than 367,000 births to mothers 15 to 19 years old in 2010, 18.3 percent were repeat births, a decrease of 6.2 percent from 2007, the CDC reported.

Large disparities among racial and ethnic groups and geographic areas remain, the CDC reported. American Indian or Alaska Native teens registered the highest percentages, 21.6 percent, followed by Hispanics, 20.9 percent, and non-Hispanic blacks, 20.4 percent. The lowest rate was among non-Hispanic whites, 14.8 percent.

“Repeat births can negatively impact the mother’s education and job opportunities as well as the health of the next generation,” said CDC Director Tom Frieden.

Rates varied from a high of 22 percent in Texas to 10 percent in New Hampshire.

The data come amid a 41 percent decline in pregnancies among U.S. teens, from 1991 to 2010, according to the CDC.

New data show that nearly 91 percent of teen mothers who were sexually active used some form of contraception in the postpartum period. But only 22 percent used contraceptives considered to be “most effective” — those that result in fewer than one pregnancy among 100 users.

http://seattletimes.com/html/nationworld/2020695123_teenbirthsnewxml.html

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