Two Musudan missiles capable of reaching South Korea and Japan have been mounted on to launchers, according to reports.
Dan Roberts in New York, Justin McCurry in Seoul and Haroon Siddique
Friday 5 April 2013 08.16 EDT
North Korea has reportedly positioned two intermediate-range missiles on to mobile launchers on its east coast, as tensions in the region continue to escalate despite international efforts to defuse the situation.
South Korea's Yonhap news agency cited Seoul military sources as saying the rockets were Musudan missiles, believed to have a range of at least 1,875 miles, which would put South Korea and Japan and possibly the US territory of Guam in the Pacific Ocean in range. The report could not be confirmed.
Yonhap reported that South Korea had reacted to the threats from Pyongyang by deploying two battleships capable of intercepting and destroying ballistic missiles. The US has already moved interceptor missiles and warships to the region to defend against a possible attack.
Meanwhile, North Korea has contacted foreign embassies in the country in what Britain has described as "continuing rhetoric that the US poses a threat to them".
It told foreign embassies to consider evacuating if tensions flare, China's official Xinhua news agency reported, citing diplomatic sources.
A spokesman for the Russian embassy in Pyongyang confirmed that North Korea had asked it to consider evacuating staff. Denis Samsonov told Reuters that Russia was examining the request, but was not planning to evacuate at this stage as there were no outward signs of tension in the North Korean capital.
The Foreign Office said the British embassy had only been asked whether its staff intended to leave and had not been instructed to consider evacuation.
It added: "The DPRK [Democratic People's Republic of Korea] has responsibilities under the Vienna convention to protect diplomatic missions, and we believe they have taken this step as part of their continuing rhetoric that the US poses a threat to them. We are considering next steps, including a change to our travel advice."
There are doubts about the Musudan's accuracy and range, and some suspect long-range missiles unveiled by Pyongyang at a parade last year were mock-ups.
The South Korean defence minister said on Thursday that Pyongyang had moved a missile with considerable range to its east coast, but insisted there were no signs that North Korea was preparing for a full-scale conflict. Kim Kwan-jin said he did not know why the North had moved the missile but suggested it "could be for testing or drills".
The tit-for-tat moves will reinforce fears of a downward spiral. On Thursday, the US state department responded to questions suggesting that it had not helped the situation by insisting it had no choice but to respond in this way.
"When you have a country that is making the kind of bellicose statements and taking the kind of steps that they have, you have to take it seriously and you have to take steps to defend the US and its allies," said spokeswoman Victoria Nuland. "The ratcheting up of tension on the DPRK side was the cause of us shoring up our defensive posture."
Washington also announced fresh moves to seek a diplomatic solution to the crisis, revealing that it had made a phonecall to officials in Beijing to ask them to press Pyongyang to tone down its rhetoric.
The secretary of state, John Kerry, is due to meet his Chinese counterpart in Beijing on a scheduled visit to Asia. The South Korean president, Park Geun-hye, is also due to meet Barack Obama in the US for talks next week.
The state department said it was optimistic that the international alliance calling on the North to abandon its nuclear weapons programme would hold firm and "recognise the threat we share is common and that we are stronger if we work together".
Nuland urged Pyongyang to return to the international community and see an end to sanctions. "This does not have to get hotter," she said. "They just have to comply with their international obligations."
In the past week North Korea has issued a stream of threats in the most significant bout of sabre-rattling since an artillery exchange between the North and South in 2010. It also closed the shared Kaesong industrial zone and vowed to restart a mothballed nuclear plant.
Officials in South Korea stress they do not think an attack is imminent, but the risk of accidental conflict is high after North Korea withdrew from a system of hotlines. Seoul also adopted a more proactive deterrence strategy after attacks by the North in 2010, threatening to respond with disproportionate force to any future provocation.
When you absolutely, positively have to destroy everything within 300 square meters, leave it to Russia to roll out an upgraded flamethrower tank during recent military exercises.
In late March, a battalion of Moscow’s Radiation, Chemical, and Biological Defense Troops stormed a simulated enemy position in eastern Russia — armed with upgraded shoulder-fired and vehicle-launched thermobaric weapons. In a video from news agency RIA Novosti, shown above, the launchers are seen hurling 24 220-millimeter unguided thermobaric rockets at a time.
Just before reaching their targets, the rockets released a mixture of combustible gas. Within seconds, the gas is ignited, and “all living things within 300 square meters are destroyed by high pressure and temperature,” RIA Novosti observed.
According to the agency, this is the first time the vehicle-mounted launchers have been used in a military exercise. But the launcher itself isn’t entirely new — it’s more of an upgrade. The agency mistakenly refers to the weapon as a TOS-1 Buratino (or “Pinocchio“). But the Pinocchio has been in service for years, and was used in the 1999-2000 Chechen War to help level Grozny. The Pinocchio also has 30 rocket pods, where the vehicles seen laying waste to parts of eastern Russia (above) appear to have only 24 pods.
What are they? Possibly new TOS-1A Soltsepek (or “Burning Sun”) launchers. Like the Pinocchio, the Burning Sun launcher is mounted on a T-72 tank chassis, but it packs 90-kilogram rockets compared to the Pinocchio’s 73-kilogram rockets. To make up for the weight difference, the Burning Sun carries six fewer rockets, hence fewer pods. The launcher also has a range of six kilometers, double the range of the Pinocchio, and has a more advanced ballistic computer.
But don’t be deceived: It’s still an ugly and destructive weapon. “At first it frightens them, and then it gets interesting,” Vladimir Shulik, the battalion commander, told Moscow-based TV station Rossiya 24. Note he was referring to his own troops being scared by this thing. On the other hand, the launcher has fewer shortcomings than its predecessor.
“Flamethrower systems perform a very specific range of tasks — very effectively hit the fortified positions of the enemy, which is difficult to destroy with other weapons — but they have a relatively small range, thin armor and limited ammunition,” Victor Murakhovsky, editor of defense trade magazine Arsenal told Izvestia in 2012.
In addition to the Burning Sun, Russian chemical troops can be seen firing RPO-A “Schmel-M” (or Bumblebee-M) shoulder-fired thermobaric rockets — though obviously much smaller at a mere 90-millimeters than the vehicle-mounted launcher. Also an upgrade, these rockets are about six years old and have a maximum range of 1,700 meters compared to the standard Bumblebee’s 1,000 meters. Oh, and it’s nicknamed the “Satan-tube.”
“Burning Sun” doesn’t have quite the heavy metal vibe of “Satan-tube.” Still, you probably don’t want to come close when the Russian military rolls it up on you.
Scientists to Jupiter's Moon Io: Your Volcanoes Are in the Wrong Place
Apr. 4, 2013 — Jupiter's moon Io is the most volcanically active world in the Solar System, with hundreds of volcanoes, some erupting lava fountains up to 250 miles high. However, concentrations of volcanic activity are significantly displaced from where they are expected to be based on models that predict how the moon's interior is heated, according to NASA and European Space Agency researchers.
Io is caught in a tug-of-war between Jupiter's massive gravity and the smaller but precisely timed pulls from two neighboring moons that orbit further from Jupiter -- Europa and Ganymede. Io orbits faster than these other moons, completing two orbits every time Europa finishes one, and four orbits for each one Ganymede makes. This regular timing means that Io feels the strongest gravitational pull from its neighboring moons in the same orbital location, which distorts Io's orbit into an oval shape. This in turn causes Io to flex as it moves around Jupiter.
For example, as Io gets closer to Jupiter, the giant planet's powerful gravity deforms the moon toward it and then, as Io moves farther away, the gravitational pull decreases and the moon relaxes. The flexing from gravity causes tidal heating -- in the same way that you can heat up a spot on a wire coat hanger by repeatedly bending it, the flexing creates friction in Io's interior, which generates the tremendous heat that powers the moon's extreme volcanism.
The question remains regarding exactly how this tidal heating affects the moon's interior. Some propose it heats up the deep interior, but the prevailing view is that most of the heating occurs within a relatively shallow layer under the crust, called the asthenosphere. The asthenosphere is where rock behaves like putty, slowly deforming under heat and pressure.
"Our analysis supports the prevailing view that most of the heat is generated in the asthenosphere, but we found that volcanic activity is located 30 to 60 degrees East from where we expect it to be," said Christopher Hamilton of the University of Maryland, College Park. Hamilton, who is stationed at NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center in Greenbelt, Md., is lead author of a paper about this research published January 1 in Earth and Planetary Science Letters.
Hamilton and his team performed the spatial analysis using the a new, global geologic map of Io, produced by David Williams of Arizona State University, Tempe, Ariz., and his colleagues using data from NASA spacecraft. The map provides the most comprehensive inventory of Io's volcanoes to date, thereby enabling patterns of volcanism to be explored in unprecedented detail. Assuming that the volcanoes are located above where the most internal heating occurs, the team tested a range of interior models by comparing observed locations of volcanic activity to predicted tidal heating patterns.
"We performed the first rigorous statistical analysis of the distribution of volcanoes in the new global geologic map of Io," says Hamilton. "We found a systematic eastward offset between observed and predicted volcano locations that can't be reconciled with any existing solid body tidal heating models."
Possibilities to explain the offset include a faster than expected rotation for Io, an interior structure that permits magma to travel significant distances from where the most heating occurs to the points where it is able erupt on the surface, or a missing component in existing tidal heating models, like fluid tides from an underground magma ocean, according to the team.
The magnetometer instrument on NASA's Galileo mission detected a magnetic field around Io, suggesting the presence of a global subsurface magma ocean. As Io orbits Jupiter, it moves inside the planet's vast magnetic field. Researchers think this could induce a magnetic field in Io if it had a global ocean of electrically conducting magma.
"Our analysis supports a global subsurface magma ocean scenario as one possible explanation for the offset between predicted and observed volcano locations on Io," says Hamilton. "However, Io's magma ocean would not be like the oceans on Earth. Instead of being a completely fluid layer, Io's magma ocean would probably be more like a sponge with at least 20 percent silicate melt within a matrix of slowly deformable rock."
Tidal heating is also thought to be responsible for oceans of liquid water likely to exist beneath the icy crusts of Europa and Saturn's moon Enceladus. Since liquid water is a necessary ingredient for life, some researchers propose that life might exist in these subsurface seas if a useable energy source and a supply of raw materials are present as well. These worlds are far too cold to support liquid water on their surfaces, so a better understanding of how tidal heating works may reveal how it could sustain life in otherwise inhospitable places throughout the Universe.
"The unexpected eastward offset of the volcano locations is a clue that something is missing in our understanding of Io," says Hamilton. "In a way, that's our most important result. Our understanding of tidal heat production and its relationship to surface volcanism is incomplete. The interpretation for why we have the offset and other statistical patterns we observed is open, but I think we've enabled a lot of new questions, which is good."
Io's volcanism is so extensive that it gets completely resurfaced about once every million years or so, actually quite fast compared to the 4.5-billion-year age of the solar system. So in order to know more about Io's past, we have to understand its interior structure better, because its surface is too young to record its full history, according to Hamilton.
The research was funded by NASA, the NASA Postdoctoral Program, administered by Oak Ridge Associated Universities, and the European Space Agency.
Originally published Saturday, April 6, 2013 at 7:59 PM
6 Americans die in Afghan insurgent explosions
By MIRWAIS KHANPATRICK QUINN The Associated Press
KANDAHAR, Afghanistan — Militants killed six Americans, including a female diplomat, and an Afghan doctor Saturday in a pair of attacks in Afghanistan. It was the deadliest day for the United States in the war in eight months.
The violence — hours after the U.S. military’s top officer arrived for consultations with Afghan and U.S.-led coalition officials — illustrates the instability plaguing the nation as foreign forces work to pull nearly all their combat troops out of the country by the end of 2014.
The attacks came just days after insurgents stormed a courthouse, killing more than 46 people in one of the deadliest attacks of the war, now in its 12th year.
The three U.S. service members, two U.S. civilians and the doctor were killed when the group was struck by an explosion while traveling south to donate books to students in a new school in Qalat, the provincial capital of Zabul province, officials and the State Department said.
In a statement, Secretary of State John Kerry said the Americans included a Department of Defense civilian and the Foreign Service officer.
“She tragically gave her young life working to give young Afghans the opportunity to have a better future,” Kerry said of the officer. “We also honor the U.S. troops and Department of Defense civilian who lost their lives, and the Afghan civilians who were killed today as they worked to improve the nation they love.”
Officials said the explosion occurred just as a coalition convoy drove past a caravan of vehicles carrying the governor of Zabul province to the same school event. It is unclear whether the attack was aimed at the coalition forces or the governor.
Another U.S. civilian was killed in a separate insurgent attack in eastern Afghanistan, the U.S. military said in a statement.
It was the deadliest day for Americans since Aug. 16, when seven U.S. service members were killed in two attacks in Kandahar province, the birthplace of the Taliban insurgency. Six were killed when their helicopter was shot down by insurgents and one soldier died in a roadside bomb explosion.
Violence in Afghanistan is expected to pick up in the coming weeks and months, as the warm weather spreads. Further, as the NATO troops who have secured the country for the past decade pack up and leave at the end of 2014, the Taliban are expected to intensify efforts to destabilize the Afghan security forces, who are taking over the battle.
The Taliban claimed responsibility for the Zabul attack, which occurred near a coalition base and killed an Afghan doctor accompanying the governor, said Muhammad Jan Rasoolyar, the deputy governor. The governor survived the attack, which also wounded several Americans and Afghans, including two of the governor’s bodyguards. The State Department said four of its employees were wounded, one critically.
The latest attacks occurred just hours after U.S. Gen. Martin Dempsey, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, landed in Afghanistan for a visit aimed at assessing the level of training that U.S. troops can provide to Afghan security forces after international combat forces complete their withdrawal.
Provincial Gov. Mohammad Ashraf Nasery, who survived the attack in Qalat, said the blast occurred in front of a hospital and a coalition base housing a provincial reconstruction team, or PRT. International civilian and military workers at the PRT train Afghan government officials and help with development projects.
“The governor’s convoy was at the gate of the school at the same time the (coalition) convoy came out from the PRT,” said provincial police chief Gen. Ghulam Sakhi Rooghlawanay. “The suicide bomber blew himself up between the two convoys.”
Nasery thinks his convoy was the intended target.
There are about 100,000 international troops in Afghanistan, including 66,000 from the United States. The U.S. troop total is scheduled to drop to about 32,000 by early next year.
Material from The New York Times is included in this report.
Tokyo to order deployment of Aegis-equipped ships; U.S. delays ICBM test as tensions rise
Missile interceptors to put to sea
Kyodo, AP Apr 7, 2013
Defense Minister Itsunori Onodera on Sunday ordered the Self-Defense Forces to prepare to intercept ballistic missiles from North Korea, several government sources said.
“There is not a high possibility that the missile would target Japan, but we have determined we should prepare for any contingency,” a source said.
Under the order, destroyers equipped with sea-based interceptor missiles will be deployed in the Sea of Japan to intercept any North Korean missiles that appear likely to hit Japan.
Meanwhile, the U.S. Defense Department has delayed an intercontinental ballistic missile test that had been planned for this week at an air force base in California amid mounting tensions with North Korea, a senior defense official said.
The official said Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel decided to put off the long-planned Minuteman 3 test until sometime next month because of concerns the launch could be misinterpreted and exacerbate the Korean crisis. Hagel made the decision Friday, the official said Saturday.
The test was not connected to the ongoing annual U.S.-South Korean military exercises in that region that have angered North Korea.
The North’s military warned last week that it has been authorized to attack the U.S. using “smaller, lighter and diversified” nuclear weapons. South Korean officials say North Korea has moved at least one missile with “considerable range” to its east coast — possibly the untested Musudan missile, believed to have a range of nearly 3,000 km.
U.S. officials have said the move suggests a North Korean launch could be imminent. But while Washington is taking the North Korean threats seriously, U.S. leaders say they have seen no visible signs that the North is preparing for a large-scale attack.
North Korea held its latest nuclear test in February, and in December it launched a long-range rocket that potentially could hit the continental U.S. Increasing tensions is the uncertainty around the intentions of Kim Jong Un, the country’s young leader.
North Korea has been angered by increasing sanctions and the U.S.-South Korean military exercises, which have included a broad show of force ranging from B-2 stealth bombers and F-22 fighters to a wide array of ballistic missile defense-capable warships. The exercises are scheduled to continue through the end of the month.
Last week, the U.S. said that it moved two missile-defense ships closer to the Korean Peninsula and that it would deploy a land-based interceptor system to Guam later this month. The Pentagon last month announced longer-term plans to strengthen its U.S.-based missile defenses.
The defense official, who was not authorized to speak publicly about the Minuteman 3 test delay and requested anonymity, said U.S. policy continues to support the building and testing of its nuclear deterrent capabilities. The official said the launch was not put off because of any technical problems.
The globe-circling intercontinental ballistic missiles make up one of the three legs of America’s nuclear arsenal. About 450 Minuteman 3 missiles are based in underground silos in the U.S. The other two legs of the nuclear arsenal are submarine-launched ballistic missiles and weapons launched from big bombers, such as the B-52 and the B-2.
The traditional rationale for the “nuclear triad” of weaponry is that it is essential to surviving any nuclear exchange.
RELAX. Sit back. And forget, for a moment, those pesky shareholders and bothersome boards, the regulations, the investigations and all the other headaches of being a chief executive today.
Dodd-Frank rules? Securities and Exchange Commission lawyers? Leave them behind. And let yourself sink into the buttery leather seat of your corporate jet as it soars through the clouds.
That’s what Steve Wynn did. As chief executive of Wynn Resorts, he sat back and enjoyed more than a million dollars’ worth of personal travel last year on his company’s private jet.
It gets better: in December, the company took delivery of the first G650 jet to roll off Gulfstream’s assembly line. A $65 million wonder, the plane can whisk Mr. Wynn from Las Vegas, where Wynn Resorts has its headquarters, to New York, where he owns a $70 million penthouse overlooking Central Park, and it should make 2013 another busy year aloft for him. (Wynn Resorts declined to comment.)
Indeed, while Mr. Wynn may have been a very frequent flier in 2012 among chief executives listed in an annual survey of executive pay conducted for The New York Times by Equilar, an executive compensation data firm, he has plenty of company in the shareholder-unfriendly skies.
As C.E.O. of Hertz, Mark Frissora pushes rental cars, but he racked up nearly a half-million dollars’ worth of personal travel on the corporate jet last year.
Marsh & McLennan, the risk management company, doesn’t own its own plane — it prefers holding a fractional share of a jet — but that didn’t stop its chief, Brian Duperreault, from running up $441,875 in private plane travel on the company tab before he retired at year-end.
These highfliers help explain why pay for perks like jet travel and other supplemental benefits including pension contributions and life insurance policies jumped last year, even as overall compensation rose only modestly.
For the 100 highest-paid C.E.O.’s among American companies with revenue of more than $5 billion, the typical 2012 perks package was worth $320,635, up 18.7 percent from 2011, according to an analysis by Equilar for The Times. By contrast, median total pay among the 100 C.E.O.’s rose just 2.8 percent, to more than $14 million.
The data are preliminary — public companies have 120 days after their fiscal year-end to disclose the pay of top executives in their proxies. Many corporations whose fiscal year ended in December won’t file before the end of April.
Still, the data reveal the contours of executive pay packages. Besides the jump in perks, overall cash compensation also made a comeback, rising 19.7 percent, to $5.7 million. Cash bonuses jumped 25 percent.
THE highest-paid C.E.O., Lawrence J. Ellison of Oracle, perennially ranks among the best-paid executives, but other leaders in 2012 didn’t come from sectors where you might expect to find them, like technology or Wall Street.
Instead, companies with familiar brand names were among the most generous, with Robert A. Iger of Disney, Mark G. Parker of Nike, Howard Schultz of Starbucks and Kenneth I. Chenault of American Express all in the top 10, each with more than $25 million in total compensation.
The second-highest-paid chief executive on the list, Richard M. Bracken of the hospital chain HCA, received more than half his pay in the form of special compensation worth nearly $22 million, but it was nearly all from from dividends rather than traditional perks like the company plane.
Shareholders, too, enjoyed solid gains in 2012, with the typical company’s stock returning 17 percent.
And at a few companies where profits dropped, C.E.O. pay declined as well. At Ford, where earnings per share fell 7 percent, the pay of the chief executive, Alan R. Mulally, sank 29 percent. James P. Gorman, the chief of Morgan Stanley, saw his compensation fall 20 percent as both revenue and profits at the company tumbled in 2012.
J.C. Penney did not make this year’s list because it filed its proxy after the March 29 cutoff, but its board definitely sent a message to Ron Johnson, the former Apple executive who took over in late 2011 and has so far failed to turn around this troubled retailer. It cut his total compensation by almost 97 percent, to $1.9 million, and didn’t give him and several other top execs any bonus payments.
The most notable decliner in 2012 was the highest-paid C.E.O. in 2011: Tim Cook, the C.E.O. of Apple, was awarded $377.9 million in 2011 — almost all of it in stock — but in 2012, he was paid just $4.2 million in cash, too low to make this year’s list at all. The drop, however, is more a quirk in how pay is handed out than any judgment about Mr. Cook’s tenure. Because the outsize 2011 package vests over the course of a decade but was counted all at once in 2011, sizable new year-to-year awards aren’t being made in the meantime, limiting his annual totals.
The money spent on perks accounts for a relatively tiny portion of overall compensation packages, but the increase is striking because it comes even as business leaders have become more sensitive about public perceptions of compensation excesses, corporate governance experts say.
Under the Dodd-Frank financial reform law passed in 2010, companies are now required to ask shareholders for their approval of executive pay packages. These so-called say-on-pay votes are nonbinding, but the ignominy of failing to win approval has received boards’ attention.
So in an age when shareholders can now make their collective views known publicly, it can seem downright provocative to let the company pick up the bill for lavish trips, big security entourages (more on that later) and housing subsidies.
“It’s dumb with a capital D,” said Alan Johnson, a consultant who advises boards on how best to structure compensation packages. “You’re rubbing it in the faces of shareholders and employees. It fails the I.Q. test.”
Personal travel on the company plane may be the favorite perk, but a few chief executives managed to gain some other interesting freebies. Mr. Wynn, for example, enjoyed a villa in Las Vegas that cost the company $451,574 for the year.
Greg Brown, chief executive of Motorola Solutions, was honored by his employer with an endowed chair in the neuroscience department of his alma mater, Rutgers University. Mr. Brown didn’t receive the money directly: Motorola Solutions donated $1.5 million to the university, where he is a trustee, but the position will be named for him.
In a few cases, top executives other than the corporate C.E.O. also walked away with some swag.
At the HollyFrontier Corporation, which is based in Dallas and is one of the nation’s largest oil refiners, membership has its privileges. The company spent $238,907 in 2013 on club initiation fees and monthly membership dues for two top executives, Douglas S. Aron, the chief financial officer, and David L. Lamp, the chief operating officer.
Jeffrey Evenson, a senior vice president hired at Corning in 2011, received $400,000 to help make up for the drop in value on his house in the Boston area when he sold it and moved to upstate New York to take the job.
Roger Ailes, chairman and chief executive of Fox News, billed $155,091 in personal corporate car use to his employer, the News Corporation, even as his boss, Rupert Murdoch, made $361,013 worth of personal trips on the company jet.
Spending on perks and other compensation declined sharply in the recession’s wake, according to Equilar, with the median package dropping sharply from 2007 to 2010. But corporate compensation experts say nice extras have a way of coming back whenever the economy shows signs of life and the stock market turns higher. Companies put a bit more money into perks in 2011 — a median of $270,101 — and the trend gained steam in 2012.
Even though unemployment remains high by historical standards and the top 1 percent of earners face higher taxes, executives and boards may figure that the popular outrage that followed the financial crisis and the recession has cooled a bit.
“When the economy improves and companies are doing better, the view is that shareholders will look the other way,” said Charles M. Elson, director of the John L. Weinberg Center for Corporate Governance at the University of Delaware.
“I think it’s offensive,” Mr. Elson added. “The corporate aircraft is for a business purpose; it’s a business tool. You don’t take the company car to Disneyland with your kids, so why would you use a corporate jet for personal use?”
In many cases, the official answer to that question is security, according to the proxies and other filings that companies provide shareholders and regulators. Chief executives in many instances, including that of Mr. Frissora at Hertz and Mr. Murdoch at the News Corporation, are actually required to take private transportation, even on personal holidays, because companies argue that it is prudent for their safety.
Another justification is that the private jet helps C.E.O.’s make the most of their valuable time.
Mr. Elson doesn’t buy either argument about personal use of a jet.
“I find the security argument tough to swallow,” he said. “Airports are among the safest places on earth these days.” In any case, he said, “you’re paid so much money you can charter a plane if necessary.”
Private jets, club dues and housing subsidies get under the skin of the ordinary shareholder, says David F. Larcker, a professor at the Stanford Graduate School of Business and an expert on corporate governance. There is something about the specific details of life at the top, he says, that leads to both envy and outrage.
But in some cases, he noted, the perks are a sign of a deeper problem.
I post these but I don't necessarily believe all of them. Since I know NOTHING about CGI and doctoring videos I can't even tell if they are faked. So please take these YouTube posts with a grain of salt.
Real UFO Sighting Over RomaniaToday Close Up Alien UFO.
Independent Scotland Would Lose Defense Jobs, Report Says
Apr. 8, 2013 - 06:21AM By ANDREW CHUTER
Thousands of jobs could be lost in the Scottish defense industry if the country votes for separation from the rest of the United Kingdom, according to a parliamentary committee report.
The majority of the 15,000 jobs in the sector and 2 billion pounds in annual revenues would be threatened by a yes vote in a referendum set for 2014, the U.K. Parliament’s Scottish Affairs committee said in a report released Monday.
The ruling Scottish National Party (SNP) in the devolved regional government in Scotland is campaigning to make the country independent from the rest of the U.K. for the first time since 1707. All the other major political parties in Scotland and the U.K. oppose the idea, and opinion polls so far favor continuation of the union with England, Northern Ireland and Wales.
The committee said that with an annual defense budget in the region of only 2.5 billion pounds a year and a procurement spend of around 1 billion pounds, the independent Scottish market would be negligible.
BAE Systems, Babcock, Raytheon, Selex and Thales number among the major defense employers in Scotland that would be affected by a split, the report said.
Research spending of between just 20 million and 30 million pounds a year would be insufficient to sustain leading-edge technology locally, said the committee.
Companies dependent on the British military for orders would transfer the work to sites remaining in the U.K., said the Parliamentarians.
“No job in the Scottish defense industry will be safe under separation. We have been unable to identify any job gain which will flow from Scotland breaking away from the U.K. but thousands which will be lost and thousands more which will be put at risk,” said Ian Davidson, the committee’s chairman.
WASHINGTON — When Sulaiman Abu Ghaith, a son-in-law of Osama bin Laden, was taken into American custody at an airport stopover in Jordan last month, he joined one of the most select groups of the Obama era: high-level terrorist suspects who have been located by the American counterterrorism juggernaut, and who have not been killed.
Mr. Abu Ghaith’s case — he awaits a federal criminal trial in New York — is a rare illustration of what Obama administration officials have often said is their strong preference for capturing terrorists rather than killing them.
“I have heard it suggested that the Obama administration somehow prefers killing Al Qaeda members rather than capturing them,” said John O. Brennan, in a speech last year when he was the president’s counterterrorism adviser; he is now the C.I.A. director. “Nothing could be further from the truth.”
In fact, he said, “Our unqualified preference is to only undertake lethal force when we believe that capturing the individual is not feasible.”
Despite Mr. Brennan’s protestations, an overwhelming reliance on killing terrorism suspects, which began in the administration of George W. Bush, has defined the Obama years. Since Mr. Obama took office, the C.I.A. and military have killed about 3,000 people in counterterrorist strikes in Pakistan, Yemen and Somalia, mostly using drones. Only a handful have been caught and brought to this country; an unknown number have been imprisoned by other countries with intelligence and other support from the United States.
This policy on targeted killing, according to experts on counterterrorism inside and outside the government, is shaped by several factors: the availability of a weapon that does not risk American casualties; the resistance of the authorities in Pakistan and Yemen to even brief incursions by American troops; and the decreasing urgency of interrogation at a time when the terrorist threat has diminished and the United States has deep intelligence on its enemies.
Though no official will publicly acknowledge it, the bottom line is clear: killing is more convenient than capture for both the United States and the foreign countries where the strikes occur.
The drone strikes have become unpopular abroad; in a Pew Research Center poll last year, just 17 percent of Pakistanis supported them against leaders of extremist groups. And domestic critics have attacked from two different directions: Some Republicans in Congress accuse Mr. Obama of adopting a de facto kill preference because he shut down the C.I.A.’s overseas prisons and does not want to send more detainees to Guantánamo Bay, Cuba. Human rights advocates argue that some drone strikes have amounted to extrajudicial killings, the execution without trial of people suspected of being militants whose identities American officials often do not know and who sometimes pose little threat to the United States.
But with the American public, the strikes remain popular. Even as some senior former American security officials question whether the strikes are beginning to do more harm than good, 65 percent of Americans questioned in a Gallup poll last month approved of strikes to kill suspected foreign terrorists; only 28 percent were opposed.
Mr. Brennan’s criterion for capture — when it is “feasible” — is a very subjective judgment, said Matthew C. Waxman, a former Defense Department official who is now at Columbia Law School.
“Those simple statements about a preference to capture mask a much more complicated story,” Mr. Waxman said. “The U.S. military and intelligence community can do a great deal if they’re directed to do it. Sometimes where we say it’s infeasible, we mean it’s too risky.”
But he believes the hazards of a capture strategy are real. “I think in most cases we could not capture people without significant risk to our own forces or to diplomatic relations,” he said.
The uncertainties were evident nine months into Mr. Obama’s first term, when intelligence agencies tracked down Saleh Ali Saleh Nabhan, a suspect in the attacks on two American embassies in East Africa in 1998.
The original plan had been to fire long-range missiles to hit Mr. Nabhan and others as they drove in a convoy from Mogadishu, Somalia, to the seaside town of Baraawe. But that plan was scrubbed at the last minute, and instead a Navy SEALs team helicoptered from a ship and strafed Mr. Nabhan’s convoy, killing him and three others. The SEALs landed to collect DNA samples to confirm the identities of the dead.
The episode raised uncomfortable questions for some at the Pentagon. If the United States took the risk to land troops in Somalia, they wondered, why did they not capture Mr. Nabhan instead of killing him?
Or consider the case of Anwar al-Awlaki, the Yemeni-American cleric who had joined the Qaeda branch in Yemen. In September 2011, when American intelligence located him, it might conceivably have been possible to organize a capture by Yemeni or American commandos. But a drone strike was politically far less complicated for both countries, said Gregory D. Johnsen, an expert on Yemen at Princeton.
If American forces captured him, their presence on Yemeni soil might have spurred unrest, Mr. Johnsen said. If the forces of the Yemeni president at the time, Ali Abdullah Saleh, caught him, he said, “Does he turn him over to the Americans and risk a backlash? Does he hold him? It was easier for Saleh to let the Americans take a shot at Awlaki than to send his troops to catch him.”
The trade-offs have not changed under Yemen’s new president, Abdu Rabbu Mansour Hadi, who lauded the precision of drone strikes in a 2012 speech in Washington. Two months later, an American strike killed Adnan al-Qadhi, a well-connected Qaeda supporter, even though he was in a town near the capital, Sana, where several high-level officials live. Neighbors told reporters that he could easily have been captured.
In Pakistan, where the SEAL raid that killed Bin Laden sent Pakistani-American relations into a tailspin, drone strikes — though deeply unpopular — are tolerated by the security establishment. “There’s an intangible notion that a drone flying over is less of an intrusion than troops on the ground,” said Ashley S. Deeks, a University of Virginia law professor and a former State Department lawyer.
Then there is the question of very real danger to Americans in capturing heavily armed terrorists. The SEALs sent to Abbottabad were instructed that if Bin Laden immediately surrendered, he should be detained, according to Matt Bissonnette, a member of the SEAL team who wrote a book on the raid. But if Americans died trying to catch a midlevel militant — when drones were available but went unused — there would be a huge public outcry, most officials believe.
Only in the drone era has killing terrorism suspects become routine. In the 1980s and 1990s, counterterrorism officers captured several suspects overseas and brought them back to the United States for trial.
Brad Garrett, a former F.B.I. agent, was on the teams that caught both Ramzi Ahmed Yousef, an organizer of the first World Trade Center attack in 1993, and Mir Aimal Kansi, who shot five C.I.A. employees, two of them fatally, outside the agency’s headquarters in Virginia the same year. Teams of American and Pakistani officers caught the men by kicking down doors at their guesthouses, and “no shots were fired in either case,” he said.
As an investigator, Mr. Garrett said, “I’ve spent my life talking to live people. That’s the downside of drones. There’s no one left to talk to.” But he said that catching a solo suspect in an urban setting, while risky, was far less hazardous than confronting a gang of heavily armed men in the hostile territory of Pakistan’s or Yemen’s tribal areas. “I don’t think you can really compare them,” he said.
When Mr. Obama closed the C.I.A. prisons and banned coercive interrogations, Republicans complained that there was nowhere left to hold and question terrorists, a charge that resonated with some military and C.I.A. officers. The president countered by creating a High-Value Detainee Interrogation Group, an elite group of analysts and interrogators that officials say has been sent about two dozen times to question detainees at home and abroad. That is a tiny number compared to the frequency of drone strikes, of course, but officials say the secretive group has been successful.
An even smaller number of those questioned by the interrogation group have been brought back to the United States to face criminal charges, including Mr. Abu Ghaith, the Bin Laden son-in-law, and Ahmed Abdulkadir Warsame, a Somali commander of the militant group Shabab.
By all accounts, Mr. Warsame’s handling is a powerful illustration of the value of capturing rather than killing a terrorism suspect. He first began providing information to American counterterrorism officials after being caught on a ship in April 2011. He has never stopped talking about both the Shabab and the Qaeda branch in Yemen, officials say, and he knows that his ultimate sentence will depend on his cooperation.
Mind Over Matter? Core Body Temperature Controlled by the Brain
Apr. 8, 2013
A team of researchers led by Associate Professor Maria Kozhevnikov from the Department of Psychology at the National University of Singapore (NUS) Faculty of Arts and Social Sciences showed, for the first time, that it is possible for core body temperature to be controlled by the brain. The scientists found that core body temperature increases can be achieved using certain meditation techniques (g-tummo) which could help in boosting immunity to fight infectious diseases or immunodeficiency.
Published in science journal PLOS ONE in March 2013, the study documented reliable core body temperature increases for the first time in Tibetan nuns practising g-tummo meditation. Previous studies on g-tummo meditators showed only increases in peripheral body temperature in the fingers and toes. The g-tummo meditative practice controls "inner energy" and is considered by Tibetan practitioners as one of the most sacred spiritual practices in the region. Monasteries maintaining g-tummo traditions are very rare and are mostly located in the remote areas of eastern Tibet.
The researchers collected data during the unique ceremony in Tibet, where nuns were able to raise their core body temperature and dry up wet sheets wrapped around their bodies in the cold Himalayan weather (-25 degree Celsius) while meditating. Using electroencephalography (EEG) recordings and temperature measures, the team observed increases in core body temperature up to 38.3 degree Celsius. A second study was conducted with Western participants who used a breathing technique of the g-tummo meditative practice and they were also able to increase their core body temperature, within limits.
Applications of the research findings
The findings from the study showed that specific aspects of the meditation techniques can be used by non-meditators to regulate their body temperature through breathing and mental imagery. The techniques could potentially allow practitioners to adapt to and function in cold environments, improve resistance to infections, boost cognitive performance by speeding up response time and reduce performance problems associated with decreased body temperature.
The two aspects of g-tummo meditation that lead to temperature increases are "vase breath" and concentrative visualisation. "Vase breath" is a specific breathing technique which causes thermogenesis, which is a process of heat production. The other technique, concentrative visualisation, involves focusing on a mental imagery of flames along the spinal cord in order to prevent heat losses. Both techniques work in conjunction leading to elevated temperatures up to the moderate fever zone.
Assoc Prof Kozhevnikov explained, "Practicing vase breathing alone is a safe technique to regulate core body temperature in a normal range. The participants whom I taught this technique to were able to elevate their body temperature, within limits, and reported feeling more energised and focused. With further research, non-Tibetan meditators could use vase breathing to improve their health and regulate cognitive performance."
Further research into controlling body temperature
Assoc Prof Kozhevnikov will continue to explore the effects of guided imagery on neurocognitive and physiological aspects. She is currently training a group of people to regulate their body temperature using vase breathing, which has potential applications in the field of medicine. Furthermore, the use of guided mental imagery in conjunction with vase breathing may lead to higher body temperature increases and better health.
Originally published Sunday, April 7, 2013 at 6:26 PM
Broadcasters worry about ‘Zero TV’ homes
A growing number of “Zero TV” households have stopped paying for cable and satellite-TV service, shun broadcasting and are watching shows and movies on the Internet.
By RYAN NAKASHIMA The Associated Press
LOS ANGELES — Some people have had it with TV. They’ve had enough of the 100-plus channel universe. They don’t like timing their lives around network show schedules. They’re tired of $100-plus monthly bills.
A growing number of them have stopped paying for cable and satellite-TV service, and don’t even use an antenna to get free signals over the air. These people are watching shows and movies on the Internet, sometimes via cellphone connections.
Last month, the Nielsen Co. started labeling people in this group “Zero TV” households, because they fall outside the traditional definition of a TV home. There are 5 million of these residences in the U.S., up from 2 million in 2007.
Winning back the Zero TV crowd will be one of the many issues broadcasters discuss at their national meeting, the NAB Show, this week in Las Vegas.
While show creators and networks make money from this group’s viewing habits through deals with online video providers and from advertising on their own websites and apps, broadcasters get paid only when they relay such programming in traditional ways.
Unless broadcasters can adapt to modern platforms, their revenue from Zero TV viewers will be zero.
“Getting broadcast programing on all the gizmos and gadgets — like tablets, the back seats of cars, and laptops — is hugely important,” says Dennis Wharton, a spokesman for the National Association of Broadcasters.
Although Wharton says more than 130 TV stations in the U.S. are broadcasting live TV signals to mobile devices, few people have the tools to receive them. Most cellphones require an add-on device known as a dongle, but these gadgets are just starting to be sold.
Among this elusive group of consumers is Jeremy Carsen Young, a graphic designer, who is done with traditional TV. Young has a working antenna sitting unplugged on his back porch in Roanoke, Va., and he refuses to put it on the roof.
“I don’t think we’d use it enough to justify having a big eyesore on the house,” the 30-year-old says.
Online video subscriptions from Netflix and Amazon.com — which cost less than $15 a month combined — have given him and his partner plenty to watch. They take in back episodes of AMC’s “The Walking Dead” and The CW’s “Supernatural,” and they don’t need more, he says.
He doesn’t mind waiting as long as a year for the current season’s episodes to appear on streaming services, even if his friends accidentally blurt out spoilers in the meantime. With regular television, he might have missed the latest developments, anyway.
“By the time it gets to me to watch, I’ve kind of forgotten about that,” he says.
For the first time, TV-ratings giant Nielsen took a close look at this category of viewer in its quarterly video report released in March. It plans to measure their viewing of new TV shows starting in fall, with an eye toward incorporating the results in the formula used to calculate ad rates.
“Our commitment is to being able to measure the content wherever it is,” says Dounia Turrill, Nielsen’s senior vice president of insights.
The Zero TV segment is increasingly important, because the number of people signing up for traditional TV service has slowed to a standstill in the U.S.
Last year, the cable, satellite and telecom providers added just 46,000 video customers collectively, according to research firm SNL Kagan. That’s tiny when compared with 974,000 new households created last year.
While the providers still serve 100.4 million homes, or 84.7 percent of all households, it’s down from the peak of 87.3 percent in early 2010.
Nielsen’s study suggests that this new group may have left traditional TV for good. While three-quarters actually have a physical TV set, only 18 percent are interested in hooking it up through a traditional pay-TV subscription.
Zero TVers tend to be younger, single and without children. Nielsen’s senior vice president of insights, Dounia Turrill, says part of the new monitoring regime is meant to help determine whether they’ll change their behavior over time.
“As these homes change life stage, what will happen to them?”
Cynthia Phelps, a 43-year-old maker of mental-health apps in San Antonio, Texas, says there’s nothing that will bring her back to traditional TV. She’s watched TV in the past, of course, but for most of the last 10 years she’s done without it.
She finds a lot of programs online to watch on her laptop for free — like the TED talks educational series — and every few months she gets together with friends to watch older TV shows on DVD, usually “something totally geeky,” like NBC’s “Chuck.”
The 24-hour news channels make her anxious or depressed, and buzz about the latest hot TV shows like “Mad Men” doesn’t make her feel like she’s missing out.
Phelps says it’s less about saving money than choice. She says she’d rather spend her time productively and not get “sucked into” shows she’ll regret later.
“I don’t want someone else dictating the media I get every day,” she says. “I want to be in charge of it. When I have a TV, I’m less in control of that.”
The TV industry has a host of buzz words to describe these nontraditionalist viewers. There are “cord-cutters,” who stop paying for TV completely, and make do with online video and sometimes an antenna.
There are “cord-shavers,” who reduce the number of channels they subscribe to, or the number of rooms pay TV is in, to save money.
Then there are the “cord-nevers,” young people who move out on their own and never set up a landline phone connection or a TV subscription. They usually make do with a broadband Internet connection, a computer, a cellphone and possibly a TV set that is not hooked up the traditional way.