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 veryhotthread  Author  Topic: Stuff & Nonsense  (Read 45295 times)
WingsofCrystal
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xx Re: Stuff & Nonsense
« Reply #870 on: Aug 26th, 2010, 7:42pm »




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"The Magic Path" by Roby


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« Reply #871 on: Aug 26th, 2010, 8:03pm »

Just wanted to say hi! I'm afraid this new job has consumed all of my time! After having been retired for a year, working for a living is a challenge! tongue
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« Reply #872 on: Aug 26th, 2010, 9:33pm »

on Aug 26th, 2010, 8:03pm, Swamprat wrote:
Just wanted to say hi! I'm afraid this new job has consumed all of my time! After having been retired for a year, working for a living is a challenge! tongue


Hello Swamprat!
Hope you are liking your new job. It does take a bit to find a rhythm and get used to the change. Thanks for checking in, I was wondering where you were.
Crystal
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« Reply #873 on: Aug 26th, 2010, 9:45pm »


Please be an angel

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www.soldiersangels.org


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xx Re: Stuff & Nonsense
« Reply #874 on: Aug 27th, 2010, 07:13am »

@swamprat and CA
Good to see you. Already wondered where you've been. smiley
on Aug 26th, 2010, 7:42pm, WingsofCrystal wrote:
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"The Magic Path" by Roby



Wow, what a beautiful picture, Crystal. Thanks for that. smiley

I'll try to give something back:

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Edit to add:
Have a nice day. smiley
« Last Edit: Aug 27th, 2010, 07:13am by philliman » User IP Logged

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« Reply #875 on: Aug 27th, 2010, 07:19am »

Phil those photos are great! Thanks! That's a nice way to start the day. cheesy
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« Reply #876 on: Aug 27th, 2010, 07:21am »

Phantoms and Monsters

Thursday, August 26, 2010
Humanoid / Cryptid Encounter Reports - Japan

I received an email from a reader in Japan recently who asked if I had any knowledge of actual cryptid / humanoid encounter reports or activity in his country. He stated that there were hundreds of spirit sightings and ghost legends...but he rarely heard of people encountering unknown creatures. It was an intriguing challenge...so I promised to conduct some research and post my findings. The following anecdotes and stories are a few interesting accounts:

A FOREIGN WOMAN IN THE HOLLOW BOAT

Tokagawa Shogunate, Japan - February 22, 1803

Possibly the first written account referencing alien symbols and a possible humanoid encounter is a story in Japanese folklore. The story takes place on February 22nd in the spring of 1803. Offshore from a beach called Hara-yadori in the territory of Ogasawara Etchuu-no-kami (4000 koku'), who occupied a position named "Yoriai-seki" of Tokagawa shogunate at that time, a kind of boat was observed from the beach. People approached this boat using their small boats and eventually caught it. They towed it to the beach.

The boat was round and resembled a kind of kou-hako (a box used to burn incense). Its diameter was more than 3 ken (5.45 in). On the upper part of the boat, there were glass-fitted shoji (windows with lattice) and they were shielded by chan (a kind of waterproofed putty made from pine-tree gum). The bottom of this ship was reinforced by separated iron plates. This structure may protect the boat from destruction by sunken rocks. Since the glass-fitted shoji was transparent, the people could see the inside the boat, where they found a woman with strange features. Her hair and eyebrows were red, and her face was pink. It seemed that long white hair was added to her original hair.

This foreign woman held one square box whose size was about two shaku (60 cm) in her hands. It seemed that this box was very important to her because she held this box constantly, and she prohibited anyone from approaching it.

The objects found in this boat were investigated by the people. There was about two shou (3.6 liters) of water in the small bottle. There were two pieces of carpet, cake-like food, and kneaded meat. While people discussed what to do about this boat, the woman observed them peacefully.

Another similar description of an incident was found:

On March 24, 1803, a strange boat drifted ashore on a beach named Haratono-hama in Hitachi state in Japan. The boat was hollow and its shape was similar to a rice-cooking pot. It had a kind of rimmed-edge at the center-level part of the boat. In the part above this edge, the boat was painted in black and had four small windows on four sides. All shoji (windows with lattice) were shielded by chan (a kind of waterproof putty made from pine-tree gum). The lower part of the boat was reinforced by steel bars. These bars looked to be made of Western-made iron of the highest quality. The height of the boat was one jyou, two shaku (3.64m) and its diameter was one jyou, eight shaku (5.45m).

A woman (or girl) was found inside this boat and her age appeared around twenty. She was about five shaku (1.5m) tall and her skin was white as snow. Her long hair vividly hung on her back. Her facial features were incomparably beautiful. Her clothes were strange and unrecognizable and her language was not understood by anyone. She held a small box in her hands and prohibited anyone from approaching this box.

**********

JAPANESE CRYPTID WOLVES

drawings and more stories after the jump
http://naturalplane.blogspot.com/2010/08/humanoid-cryptid-encounter-reports.html

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« Reply #877 on: Aug 27th, 2010, 07:25am »

New York Times

August 26, 2010
Facing Long Mine Rescue, Chile Spares No Expense
By ALEXEI BARRIONUEVO

SAN JOSÉ MINE, Chile — The government has consulted NASA about the extreme isolation of space. Chilean Navy officers have come to discuss the emotional stress of living in a submarine. Doctors stand at the ready with antidepressants. Even a tiny home theater is being funneled down in plastic tubes to occupy the 33 miners stuck in their subterranean home.

Chile is sparing no expense or attempted innovation in trying to rescue the miners trapped by a cave-in on Aug. 5, fully aware that the country — and the world — is closely watching the ordeal.

But like everything else being done to maintain the psychological health of the miners over the weeks or months they may remain nearly half a mile underground, officials will carefully control what they are exposed to, down to the messages they receive from their families or the kind of movies that might be projected on the wall of the mine.

“Movies are possible,” said Ximena Matas, a local city councilwoman. “But the psychologists will decide what movies they will see. It’s up to them if something like ‘Avatar’ would be too upsetting.”

No fewer than seven government ministers roam the dusty brown dirt of the makeshift camp outside the mine here in Chile’s Atacama Desert, not to mention the countless politicians, millionaire donors and observers who almost outnumber the family members camping in tents.

With his popularity already slipping, President Sebastián Piñera has staked his nascent presidency on rescuing the miners, and is keeping up a full-court media press that reflects both his background as the billionaire former head of a media empire and the strategy that helped get him elected, analysts said.

“With a conviction that seemed to border on political suicide, the authorities bet all or nothing, and this time the returns will have incalculable reach,” Max Colodro Riesenberg, a professor at the University Adolfo Ibáñez, wrote in a newspaper column this week.

Government officials said they held a teleconference on Wednesday afternoon with five NASA specialists, among them doctors who put astronauts through tests that simulate the grueling isolation of a voyage to Mars.

Dr. Jaime Mañalich, the health minister, said he had urged NASA to send a team to “monitor what we are doing here” and announced Thursday that three or four NASA specialists would arrive in Chile next week to assist medical officials with the miners.

“This is a unique experience,” Dr. Mañalich said.

The miners are in relatively good spirits, officials say, but psychologists are concerned that both the miners and their families may soon suffer from post-traumatic stress once the euphoria wears off from establishing contact on Sunday. Psychologists are coaching family members and the miners on what they should say to each other and are filtering notes before they are sent down to the miners.

“They are giving good advice,” said Margarita Lagos Fuentes, 54, the mother of Claudio Lagos, a 34-year-old miner trapped below. “If they are in hell, why should we make it worse?”

Health workers are organizing a special exercise and recreation program to keep the men fit during their long wait. And they are instructing the miners about the need to distinguish between daytime and nighttime activities. Beyond the immediate 600-square-foot chamber the miners have sought refuge in, there are ample tunnels in which to move around and find a little privacy, mining company officials said.

For days after discovering the miners alive, officials carefully avoided telling them that it could take months to get them out, for the sake of preserving morale. Then on Wednesday, the health minister announced that officials had informed the miners that they would not be rescued before Chile’s Independence Day on Sept. 18 and that “we hoped to get them out before Christmas.”

The miners reacted calmly to the news, Dr. Mañalich, the minister, said. “But we have the impression that in the days to come they are going to suffer from huge challenges regarding their psychological conditions.”

The miners finally got their first solid food on Wednesday afternoon — cereal bars — after four days of liquids. Because of the small size of the borehole, which is only about four inches in diameter, health workers have been struggling to send enough food and liquid, and hoped to be able to provide each miner with 800 calories on Thursday.

Before being discovered, the miners survived on tiny bites of emergency rations and have lost an average of about 20 pounds each. Just outside the borehole, a reporter asked Marcela Zúñiga, a nurse, when the miners would receive their first empanadas, a popular Chilean pastry usually stuffed with meat. “Those are being prepared by a special team in Santiago,” Ms. Zúñiga said.

Short notes from the miners have brought tears and laughter to family members above — like the one Orlando Contreras, 19, the brother of Pedro Contreras, 25, keeps in his wallet — quickly becoming cherished property. The miners have asked family members to send toothbrushes, clean underwear and, usually in jest, comforts like beer, bottles of wine and CDs. Omar Reygadas sent a note to his family asking for a steak and television “to kill the boredom.”

The miners have also been sending their credit and bank cards to family members via the tubes, which are pulled up by a winch. Government officials said they were starting to send them soccer updates and other news.

Psychologists are helping families choose who will make their first verbal communication with the miners on a modified telephone through the borehole, officials and family members said.

Only one family member will be allowed to speak to each miner, for up to five minutes each. A videocamera may also be connected by cable to officials above, allowing family members to see the miners themselves.

The mine has had a history of accidents and was forced to shut down briefly to make safety improvements, but its owners did not carry them out, according to some lawmakers and a risk prevention specialist who worked for the company.

The miners became trapped when two levels above them collapsed, leading them to seek refuge in a shelter about 2,300 feet deep. As the days passed, the nation grew increasingly skeptical that any of the miners had survived — let alone all of them.

Now officials face a new set of questions, including whether to send the miners, many of whom smoke, cigarettes. Ultimately, it was decided that they would be sent nicotine gum instead.

That was just fine with Mrs. Fuentes, the mother of Mr. Lagos. “I’m hoping they come out of there with a more mature attitude,” she said. “Forget about beer and cigarettes.”

Pascale Bonnefoy and Aaron Nelsen contributed reporting from Santiago, Chile.

http://www.nytimes.com/2010/08/27/world/americas/27chile.html?_r=1&hp

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« Reply #878 on: Aug 27th, 2010, 07:30am »

New York Times

August 26, 2010
Crackdown in Bahrain Hints of End to Reforms
By THANASSIS CAMBANIS

MANAMA, Bahrain — The three women in head scarves and black abayas surged into the main atrium of the Seef Mall at 11 p.m. the other night, unfurling a banner outside the Next clothing boutique that read, “It is forbidden to arbitrarily arrest and detain people.”

A picture was taken, and in less than a minute they had dispersed. As they tried to leave, more than a dozen plainclothes and uniformed police officers surrounded one of them, Fakhria al-Singace, pinning her spread-eagled on a cafe table.

“You have no right to arrest me!” she shouted.

“Shut your mouth!” a female officer said as she tried to handcuff Ms. Singace, pulling off her cloaklike abaya in the process. Officers shooed shoppers away and questioned a journalist.

The arrest at one of Bahrain’s busiest late-night spots occurred in the second week of a sweeping crackdown in this island kingdom in the Persian Gulf, a strategic American ally that is home to the United States Navy’s Fifth Fleet and that appears to be reconsidering its decade-long flirtation with reform.

Contentious parliamentary elections, in which the Sunni governing family could lose some power to the restive Shiite majority, are scheduled for Oct. 23. Bahrain’s rulers worry that tensions between the West and Iran could provoke instability here, partly because of the close ties between the Shiites and Iran, and partly because of the American naval base, though Bahrain has said it will not allow any attack on neighboring countries from its soil.

Initially, the arrests seemed to single out high-profile Shiite political and human rights leaders, but by Thursday the number of detainees had swelled to 159, and appeared to include many young men not known as activists.

The government said the detainees were suspected of security and terrorism violations, and were not being held for expressing dissident political views.

“The king said 10 years ago we would have freedom,” said Sheik Mohammed Ali al-Mahfoodh, a Shiite cleric and opposition leader who backs an election boycott. “The experiment is now over.”

Many detainees have been held without charge or access to lawyers and family members, human rights advocates said. Local Web sites — blocked this week by the government but accessible through proxy servers — chronicled clashes with riot police officers and allegations of torture, supported by photographs circulated almost instantaneously by BlackBerry.

Supporters of the government have been clamoring for tough action all year. “The only thing the government did wrong was that it went too easy at first,” said Jamal Fakhro, a member of the Shura Council, a body appointed by the king to limit the power of the elected Parliament. “The government has taken hard measures to reinstate security and stability. The people want order.”

Around 3 a.m., at the same time that Ms. Singace was being questioned at the Sanabis police station, Mr. Fakhro received a picture on his BlackBerry of her hoisting the protest banner.

The government said this week that it would no longer tolerate unrest among the Shiite majority, who make up about two-thirds of the population but are barred from many government jobs and face a chronic housing shortage.

Detainees can be held in secret for 15 days under Bahrain’s anti-terrorism statutes, which are applied to people who criticize the government or take part in riots and tire burnings.

Those convicted of compromising national security or slandering the nation can be deprived of health care and other state services, the government said.

“The reform project leaves no excuse or justification, whatsoever, to illegally express opinions that harm the nation,” Deputy Prime Minister Ali bin Khalifa al-Khalifa said.

Bahrain’s royal family ruled under a state of emergency until the current king, Sheik Hamad bin Isa al-Khalifa, took power in 1999. He created a Parliament, and his security forces disavowed torture.

The kingdom beefed up its security forces with naturalized Sunnis, who are housed in brand new subdivisions in the island’s interior. Shiite opposition groups estimate that 65,000 to 100,000 Sunnis were added to voter rolls in the last decade as part of what they say was sectarian gerrymandering.

“If the Shias took control of the country, they would pop out one eye of every Sunni in the country,” said Amed Abdallah al-Boainain, 21, a resident of Askar, a coastal settlement for Sunnis employed by the security services and the royal court. Two of his brothers work for the police, and he is applying to join them.

Opposition leaders say the government is using a small number of acts of vandalism to fan public hysteria and justify taking down political rivals.

“The government wanted only decorative democracy,” said Khalil Ibrahim al-Marzook, a member of Parliament from the opposition Shiite party Al Wefaq. “Now it is hijacking everything.”

Allegations of torture and police brutality circulate daily. A 23-year-old man nicknamed Abu Maryam showed marks on his ankles and feet, which he said were struck with hoses when he was interrogated about tire burnings.

Still, Shiite youth are continuing to set the fires that so frustrate the government, burning electricity pylons, wiring and traffic lights as well as tires. On a recent night, one 24-year-old said the crackdown would only intensify Shiite anger. He spoke on condition of anonymity because he takes part in the nightly operations, posting photographs of burnings and clashes to opposition Web sites.

“We aren’t provoking violence,” he said. “All we do is burn tires. We don’t hurt anybody. The government won’t give us permits to protest peacefully.”

Shiite clerics and Wefaq leaders have condemned such acts but have rallied the anger of constituents against the government, which they maintain treats Shiites as second-class citizens.

This year, opposition politicians united across sectarian lines to investigate official corruption. Sunni and Shiite legislators collaborated on a report that accused the royal family of illegally appropriating one-tenth of Bahrain’s scarce public land.

Opposition leaders have also accused the United States of turning a blind eye. “Bahrain is important to the United States for security issues,” the American ambassador, J. Adam Ereli, said in a telephone interview. “But that doesn’t mean we don’t raise human rights issues as well.”

The crackdown began on Aug. 13, when the opposition leader Abduljalil al-Singace was arrested after returning from a conference in London, where he criticized Bahrain for rights violations. The arrests of three other prominent Shiite activists followed, and his sister Fakhria was later detained at the Seef Mall.

Thirteen days after Mr. Singace’s arrest, around midnight on Thursday night, his lawyer was allowed to see him for the first time, Mr. Singace’s daughter Zahra said. The public prosecutor had not yet brought any charges.

“The government is using anti-terrorism laws, but only against opposition members and human rights activists,” said Nabeel Rajab, director of the Bahrain Center for Human Rights. “Bahrain should be in the Guinness Book of World Records. This is a country that has discovered 20 supposed coup attempts in the last 20 years.”

http://www.nytimes.com/2010/08/27/world/middleeast/27bahrain.html?ref=world

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« Reply #879 on: Aug 27th, 2010, 07:32am »

Hello Crystal. You are certainly welcome! smiley

All the best for today. smiley
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« Reply #880 on: Aug 27th, 2010, 07:33am »

New York Times

August 26, 2010
Art Theft Underworld Frustrates France
By DOREEN CARVAJAL

PARIS — The vulnerability of museums and high-end art owners to costly thefts has been a whispered concern in France for years, but two events here are forcing the issue into the open.

A spectacular €100 million, or $127 million, burglary at the Paris modern art museum in May and the trial next month of three men in connection with an audacious heist at the Left Bank apartment of a Picasso granddaughter have laid bare how susceptible the keepers of great art are to the efforts of seemingly meticulous thieves.

In waltzing away with five paintings at three galleries at the Museum of Modern Art — including works by Picasso, Matisse and Modigliani — burglars appear to have identified the single window with a flawed security alarm, the rhythm of the security guards’ nightly rounds and the multitude of lesser artworks to avoid.

Similarly, in the crime at the center of the imminent trial — the late-night theft of two valuable Picasso paintings — the thieves used a carefully molded fake key to enter the apartment, worked quietly enough not to awaken the granddaughter while cutting the paintings from their frames and rifling through her purse, and left without leaving fingerprints or a trace of DNA.

The identity of the thieves in both cases remains a mystery — the trial involves three people accused only of trying to fence the Picassos, not of having stolen them — leaving the art world here saturated in speculation about the crimes and baffling questions beyond them:

Who is behind the 20 or more museum art thefts that take place in France every year? How do the thieves even hope to unload easily identifiable pieces by prominent artists? And, most important, are the country’s vaunted art institutions up to dealing with the maneuverings of what appear to be loose bands of professional criminals?

In the murky global black market for stolen art, France’s many museums are prime hunting grounds. While the number of thefts from French museums has fallen from a peak of 47 in 1998, an average of 35 museum thefts have occurred annually over the last 15 years.

They have prompted a wealth of conflicting theories that generally point the finger at a shifting underworld of diversified criminals who operate in fluid cells, share information about potential buyers and available art for sale, and carefully study their museum targets before striking.

“Other museum directors have told me that they think about this every day,” said Christophe Girard, the deputy mayor Paris for culture in Paris. “They all know crime is sophisticated, and the value of art today is beyond imagination.”

Mr. Girard noted that the thieves were so knowledgeable in the case of the modern art museum that they attacked when it was in the midst of changing exhibits, a time of less activity and security.

Prominent museums from Boston to Egypt have had their own wake-up calls about security systems.

For example, 13 paintings, including a Rembrandt and a Vermeer, were stolen from the Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum in 1990 and are probably stashed, seasoned art detectives say, somewhere in southern France or Spain. Van Gogh paintings have been plundered, including this month a $55 million painting of poppies from a Cairo museum where — like Paris — the security alarm was not functioning for lack of replacement parts. In a theft a few days ago, a visitor to the Belfort Museum in Bruges, Belgium, simply stuffed in a bag a €100,000 Dali sculpture that weighed 10 kilograms, or 22 pounds, and was not protected by an alarm.

But France and Italy, with their bounty of cultural treasures, are most vulnerable to art thefts, according to Interpol, the international police organization based in Lyon that lists more than 35,500 items on its database of stolen works of art that was created last year.

Karl Heinz Kind, who heads Interpol’s Stolen Works of Art unit, scoffed at the romantic, cinematic notions nurtured by “The Thomas Crown Affair,” which featured a stolen Monet, that rich collectors are behind art thefts.

“Pure fiction,” he said.

Instead, as indicated both at the Paris Museum of Modern Art and at the Picasso heiress’s apartment, group organization appears to be a point of pride for those who steal art, according to Robert Wittman, a former F.B.I. agent. Mr. Wittman infiltrated a band of criminals in the south of France by posing as a rich Philadelphia art expert, aiding the police in the recovery of a Monet and other paintings stolen in Nice in 2007.

As he tried to broker a deal, he recalled, one of them boasted about seven months of reconnaissance. “They were really proud of themselves,” Mr. Wittman said, “because they said, ‘We worked very hard for these paintings.”’

He said one of the thieves claimed an inventory of more than 75 stolen paintings for sale, though Mr. Wittman never got to see them before his contacts were arrested for the Nice robbery.

He contends that some art thieves have ties to the Brise de Mer — a Corsican criminal gang that has been decimated by a wave of bloodletting — but generally, he believes, they are diversified thieves who just want product to sell.

“They are loosely organized,” said Mr. Wittman, who has written a book, “Priceless,” describing some of them and his own undercover exploits. “They have cells all over the country, and they know what other cells are doing. If the group in Marseille comes up with a buyer, then they notify the other cell. Nobody specializes. They are thieves — period.”

‘Like a DNA strand’

Are these the kind of groups responsible for the burglary at the Museum of Modern Art here in Paris?

Charles Hill, a retired Scotland Yard art detective turned private investigator, went undercover to recover Munch’s “The Scream” after it was stolen in 1994 from the National Gallery of Oslo. He also recovered a Vermeer taken by Irish gangsters from an English country house.

“These groups are like a DNA strand; they are all connected and are all on a string,” Mr. Hill said. “They have great connections with gangsters in the low countries, Belgium and Holland, particularly for handling stolen goods.”

The French police and the investigating judge have remained extraordinarily tight-lipped about the ongoing museum investigation in Paris, but they dispute the notion that Brise de Mer was involved.

“When you say Brise de Mer, everyone is impressed, but there is no precise evidence or facts that permit us to implicate the Brise de Mer,” said Pierre Tabel, who formerly led the French national police art squad and is now a colonel in charge of operations. “It’s not their business, and I don’t think they know this. What is the Brise de Mer going to do with a big painting?”

Mystery behind the theft

The loose organization of art thievery is illustrated by the case of Bernard Jean Ternus, a French career criminal now sitting in a U.S. jail in Big Spring, Texas, after negotiating with Mr. Wittman and other undercover F.B.I. agents over Champagne on a Miami yacht to sell the Monet and the three other paintings that disappeared in 2007.

The paintings were stolen from Nice’s Museum of Fine Arts by five armed and masked men in jump suits, who were in and out of the galleries in four minutes.

In infiltrating the Nice group — which included the owner of a motorcycle shop and a bulldozer operator who was later arrested — Mr. Wittman also found himself talking with Mr. Ternus and another Frenchman about the availability of two Picasso paintings stolen from the apartment of Picasso’s granddaughter, Diana Widmaier Picasso.

Whether or not Mr. Ternus really had contacts with the gang that stole the Picassos remains unknown, but Mr. Wittman said he received an e-mail with photographs of the stolen paintings posed next to a newspaper dated a week after the theft.

Olivier Baratelli, a French attorney for the Picasso family and also a victim of art theft, said that no one ever demanded a ransom for the two well-known paintings and a Picasso drawing, which have since been recovered. “Frankly, we don’t have explanations, and it all remains a great mystery,” he said.

The thieves were so careful the night of the burglary, he said, that they caused little damage to the paintings except for minor cracks when the works were rolled into tubes.

Ultimately, three middle-aged men — all with ties to the local circuit of flea markets and antique dealing — were arrested when they tried to broker a deal for the painting with a fourth unidentified art expert in a Panama hat. One of the suspects was Abdelatif Redjil, who had gained a measure of fame earlier when he claimed to be the first person to comfort the dying Princess Diana after her car crash a short walk away from the Museum of Modern Art.

The trial — long delayed because of heart problems claimed by one suspect — is scheduled to begin Sept. 21, offering a rare window into the mechanics of an art burglary. One suspect, Paul Sabbah, claimed in court records that he was approached in a horse racing bar by a North African man to sell the paintings, but thought they were fakes.

The police said they listened to Mr. Redjil talking in code about the paintings in telephone conversations. He denies having anything to do with the theft.

While the police suspect them of the theft, the men are only accused of receiving stolen property because neither fingerprints nor traces of their DNA were found in Ms. Picasso’s apartment.

Stealing is the easier step

Experts say it is relatively easy to steal art. The hard part is selling, which requires organization and distribution.

more after the jump
http://www.nytimes.com/2010/08/27/world/europe/27iht-arttheft.html?ref=europe

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« Reply #881 on: Aug 27th, 2010, 07:35am »

New York Times

August 26, 2010
Telescope Detects Possible Earth-Size Planet

By KENNETH CHANG
Scientists working with NASA’s Kepler satellite reported Thursday that they might have spotted a planet just 1.5 times the diameter of Earth around a Sun-like star 2,000 light-years away.

“We’re still in the process of confirming this candidate is a planet,” said Matthew Holman, of the Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics, at a NASA-sponsored news conference on Thursday. Dr. Holman is the lead author of an article describing the discoveries that the journal Science published on its Web site.

This is the first announcement of a candidate Earth-size planet by the Kepler mission, which in March 2009 launched a one-ton spacecraft to search for planets like ours that just might harbor life. The planet was among more than 700 candidate planets that the team announced in June. If it is made of similar stuff as Earth, its mass would be three to four times as much.

Astronomers are quickly closing in on Earth-size planets elsewhere in the galaxy as they find planetary systems that look more and more like our solar system.

“This represents a significant step toward Kepler’s goal of determining the frequency of Earth-size planets in the habitable zones of Sun-like stars,” Dr. Holman said. Earth-size planets in orbits that are not too hot or too cold are considered the most likely places to look for life elsewhere in the universe.

The Kepler team also observed, more definitively, two giant, Saturn-size gas planets around the same star, known as Kepler-9.

On Tuesday, a European team reported what may be a smaller planet, with mass as little as 1.4 times that of Earth, around a star 127 light-years away.

In the 15 years since the first extrasolar planet orbiting a Sun-like star was discovered, astronomers have found close to 500 more. The first were huge gas planets — composed mostly of hydrogen, similar to Jupiter — that orbited extremely close to their stars.

But as detection methods improved, astronomers began to find planets closer in size to Earth and planetary systems that contain nearly as many planets as our solar system.

The Earth-size planet seen by the European astronomers appears to be one of seven circling the star, HD 10180, located in the constellation Hydrus. Christophe Lovis of the University of Geneva, who led the observations, said the group was certain about the existence of five of the planets, all about the mass of Neptune, but squeezed into orbits closer to the star than Mars is to the Sun.

They are less certain about the smallest planet. “For this one, we have about 1 percent false alarm possibility,” Dr. Lovis said. “For us, 99 percent is just not enough to be completely sure.”

The team also tentatively detected a larger, Saturn-size planet farther from the star.

Neither of the slightly-bigger-than-Earth planets is Earth-like or has much chance for anything to live there. Both have orbits very close to their stars that would sear the surfaces. The small Kepler-9 planet completes an orbit in just over a day and a half at a distance of 2.5 million miles from the star. The small HD 10180 planet is even closer and faster, less than two million miles from the star and completing an orbit in about 28 hours. Earth, by contrast, is 93 million miles from the Sun, and its orbit takes 365 days to complete.

“If one particular word can describe planetary systems today, it’s ‘diverse,’ ” said Douglas N. C. Lin, a professor of astronomy and astrophysics at the University of California, Santa Cruz, who was not involved with either team. “Planets are common, and their properties are diverse.”

To date, most of the extrasolar planets have been found using the technique of the European team, by looking for wobbles in the wavelength of light from the star caused by the back-and-forth gravitational tugging of unseen planets. The discovery of the HD 10180 planets results from six years of observations at the European Southern Observatory’s 3.6-meter telescope in Chile.

If the orbits of planets are not edge-on to observers on Earth, the technique underestimates the masses of the planets. Dr. Lovis said that for HD 10180, computer simulations show that for the orbits to be stable, the planets cannot be more than three times the minimum masses calculated.

Some planets have been detected when a star dims momentarily as a planet passes in front. The duration of the dip tells the size of the planet, and the time between the light dips tells the length of the planet’s orbit.

The Kepler mission takes that notion and applies it on a grand scale by staring at a patch of sky in the Cygnus and Lyra constellations to continuously observe the brightness of 156,000 stars.

A Kepler scientist, Dimitar Sasselov of the Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics, created a stir last month when he said in a lecture that Kepler had discovered many Earth-like planets. He later said that the candidates had not been confirmed and that he should have said Earth-size, not Earth-like. The Kepler instruments cannot measure atmospheric or geological properties.

So far, the astronomers have seven months of data, and Kepler is scheduled to operate for 3.5 years. Astronomers will soon be able to identify smaller planets farther out, including truly Earth-size planets in orbits that would impart Earth-like temperatures.

“Come back in a couple of years,” said William J. Borucki, Kepler’s principal investigator, “and we’ll give you an answer.”

http://www.nytimes.com/2010/08/27/science/space/27planet.html?ref=science

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« Reply #882 on: Aug 27th, 2010, 07:37am »

Military.com

Fears Taliban Expanding in Afghan North, West
August 27, 2010
Associated Press

KABUL, Afghanistan -- Eight Afghan police gunned down at a checkpoint. Campaign workers kidnapped. Spanish trainers shot dead on their base.

A spurt of violence this week in provinces far from the Taliban's main southern strongholds suggests the insurgency is spreading, even as the top U.S. commander insists the coalition has reversed the militants' momentum in key areas of the ethnic Pashtun south where the Islamist movement was born.

Attacks in the north and west of the country -- though not militarily significant -- demonstrate that the Taliban are becoming a threat across wide areas of Afghanistan even as the United States and its partners mount a major effort to turn the tide of the nearly 9-year-old war in the south.

The latest example occurred Thursday when about a dozen gunmen stormed a police checkpoint at the entrance to the city of Kunduz, about 150 miles (240 kilometers) north of the Afghan capital, Kabul. Eight policemen were killed, provincial police chief Abdul Raziq Yaqoubi said.

Also Thursday, a candidate in next month's parliamentary elections said 10 of her campaign workers were kidnapped while traveling in the northwestern province of Herat, 450 miles (725 kilometers) west of the capital.

The candidate, Fawzya Galani, said villagers told her armed men had stopped the group Wednesday and drove them off in their two vehicles.

Those incidents followed Wednesday's fatal shooting of three Spaniards -- two police trainers and an interpreter -- at a training base in Badghis province about 230 miles (370 kilometers) northwest of Kabul.

The shooter, who was also killed, was a police driver who local officials said was a brother-in-law of a local Taliban commander.

Earlier this month, 10 members of a Christian medical team -- six Americans, two Afghans, one German and a Briton -- were gunned down in Badakhshan, a northern province that had seen little insurgent activity. The Taliban claimed responsibility.

In an interview aired Monday by the British Broadcasting Corp., top U.S. and NATO commander Gen. David Petraeus said NATO forces had reversed the momentum that the Taliban gained in recent years in the southern provinces of Helmand and Kandahar and in the Kabul area. He said coalition forces would regain momentum in other areas later although tough fighting lies ahead.

Taliban influence in the north and west is not as pervasive as in the south, the insurgency has been slowly expanding its presence in areas such as Kunduz, Faryab and Baghlan since 2007, mostly among Pashtuns who are a minority in the north.

A member of parliament from Herat said security in the province could be worse but it's not ideal, especially in remote villages far from the provincial capital.

"There are a lot of reasons -- political reasons, factional reasons, tribal reasons -- so together the situation is not so good," the lawmaker, Ali Ahmad Jebraili, said. "I hope the government puts professional and proper security measures in place to search vehicles and people for attackers and bombers. When we travel to remote areas, we have to be careful."

In establishing a northern foothold, Afghan authorities believe the Taliban use veterans from southern battlefields to help organize local groups, sometimes with help from the al-Qaida-linked Islamic Movement of Uzbekistan, which provides recruits from among the Uzbek minority.

"The situation is very bad and dangerous in Kunduz but unfortunately the security officials keep saying things are all right," said Mabubullah Mabub, chairman of the Kunduz provincial council. "Over the last two years, the situation has been getting worse."

more after the jump
http://www.military.com/news/article/fears-taliban-expanding-in-afghan-north-west.html

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« Reply #883 on: Aug 27th, 2010, 07:45am »

UFO Examiner
article by Roger Marsh

Two cylinder UFOs emerge from light as couple watches along Idaho's I-84

August 26th, 2010 12:34 am ET.
Mountain Home, Idaho.

A Utah couple working as commercial drivers encountered a series of odd lights as they approached Mountain Home, Idaho, just after 11 p.m. on August 24, 2010, along I-84, and witnessed two, large, cylinder-shaped UFOs emerging from one of the lights, according to testimony from the Mutual UFO Network (MUFON) witness reporting database.

The couple telephoned the UFO Examiner today to report the incident as they approached Denver, but with the events very clear in their minds. They filed the case with MUFON following our call.

Witnesses Jay and Eileen (first names used with permission) were traveling along I-84 with Eileen at the wheel and Jay riding as a passenger in clear weather with no cloud coverage. Eileen first noticed a bright light in the distance near the upcoming town of Mountain Home that was yellow-orange and "lit up for about 5 seconds and went away."

Mountain Home is the largest city and the county seat of Elmore County, Idaho, population 12,236. Mountain Home Air Force Base is located 12 miles southwest of the city. The host unit at Mountain Home since 1972 has been the 366th Fighter Wing (366 FW) of the Air Combat Command (ACC), nicknamed the "Gunfighters." The base's primary mission is to provide combat air power and combat support capabilities to respond to and sustain worldwide contingency operations.

The two discussed what the light could have been as Jay is a former avionics mechanic with military attack choppers.

Twenty minutes later, the light lit up again.

Now it appeared to be about a quarter-mile away, and above the town of Mountain Home, on the south side of the interstate, and hovering 400 to 500 feet off of the ground.

"We could now see clearly two bright lights close to one another," Eileen stated. "In comparison to the size and the objects around it, the size of the two lights together were approximate to the near size wingspan of a 747. It was lit up brightly and hovering for five seconds and then disappeared. We could see no silhouette of the lights or the craft after it disappeared. We could clearly see the sky behind where it was seen hovering lit up."

As they moved closer, now near mile marker 97, Eileen pointed out a pulsating red light that had a small yellow light to the left of it.

"This object was just in front of us on the north side of the road, moving to the south side," Eileen stated. "I pointed to this object, mentioning that the other bright light couldn’t have been a helicopter like this red light probably was."

Now they were approaching this red light - just 150-200 yards away from the highway and only about 200 feet off the ground. They noted that the time was 11:19 p.m.

Jay then recalls that he saw "two square lights appear directly across from each other as the red light faded away." He lowered his window for a better look, noting that the lights were a bright yellow-orange.

A red light then appeared below and to the left of the square light on the left side.

"At that time this immense light lit up the entire object and I saw a cylinder object that was attached with the red light separate from the brightly lit object. At first it almost slowly moved off. Directly after the separation the brightly lit object disappeared."

The cylinder object moved quickly away in a southerly direction.

Then 4 to 5 seconds later, "the first red pulsating craft reappeared," Jay stated. "It repeated itself in the exact same manner slightly to the right of the original cylinder separation. The immense light again disappeared and there were two cylinder shaped craft with red pulsating lights moving across the sky.”

As their vehicle moved along and away from the area, they both noted that there was no sound coming from the objects. They pulled over safely at a spot less than one mile away and stepped outside for a better view.

Eileen picks up the story.

"We saw both craft with pulsating red lights flying around, hovering at times. The lights would stay on for a bit at times then pulsate at others. The craft would disappear and reappear in different places quickly but still in the same general area. They would follow each other. They were flying very low over homes. We took a look around the sky and noticed there were no other happenings going on. Traffic was slow but steady. We would see trucks or cars pass approximately every 20 or 30 seconds at best. I did not notice any other spectators stopped."

Then at 11:45 p.m., a fast moving jet moved into the area from the east.

more after the jump
http://www.examiner.com/ufo-in-national/two-cylinder-ufos-emerge-from-light-as-couple-watches-along-idaho-s-i-84

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« Reply #884 on: Aug 27th, 2010, 07:56am »

Wired

Hackers Plant Tardis Atop MIT Building
By Annalee Newitz io9 August 26, 2010 | 5:05 pm | Categories: Miscellaneous

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What the heck is that blue box on top of the Small Dome at MIT? Students starting school this week at the venerable geek institution were wondering that themselves. Let’s take a closer look …

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Yep, it turns out that the Doctor is stopping by to give the first lecture in 6.01, the infamously hard and awesome introduction to computer science class. The Doctor, of course, remembers when it was called 6.001.

You can see a whole history of MIT hacks on the campus website.

Read More http://www.wired.com/threatlevel/2010/08/tardis/#ixzz0xoIOaay0

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