Re: Stuff & Nonsense
« Reply #8940 on: Aug 8th, 2013, 09:02am »
Top firms’ classified info leaked on Baidu
JIJI, Kyodo 8 August 2013
BEIJING – Large amounts of confidential internal documents and materials of major Japanese companies from the past two years are currently available for viewing at China’s Baidu Library document-sharing website, sources said.
Shanghai-based lawyer Yusuke Wakebe, who is investigating the issue, said Wednesday the leaked information includes the technical data of a major manufacturer prior to a patent application and an advertising firm’s proposal on a client project. Many of the uploaded documents were marked “For Internal Use Only” or “Classified.”
Jiji Press found internal documents leaked to Baidu Library from leading companies, including Toyota Motor Corp., Honda Motor Co., Mitsubishi Heavy Industries Ltd., Toshiba Corp., Hitachi Ltd. and Sony Corp.
The Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry said it plans to gather information on the leaks, acknowledging there have been complaints from industries.
The Japan External Trade Organization, which has already started a full investigation, called on domestic companies doing business in China to impose strict controls on internal data.
Documents from Toyota included an organization chart for the automaker’s headquarters as well as the complaint-processing manual of its Chinese joint venture. Materials marked for internal use only were leaked from China-based affiliates of Sony and Hitachi, while what are believed to be internal contracts involving Canon Inc. also have been posted on the website.
Users of Baidu Library receive points for uploading documents and can use them to download other papers and materials from the site. Anyone can browse the site’s materials, whether they have points or not.
Wakebe, the Shanghai lawyer, and Japanese firms whose documents were leaked said most of the data seem to have been uploaded by Chinese employees at joint venture affiliates or their customers to acquire points.
“Once the internal data of a company are disclosed on the Internet, the business’ information management ability is questioned and its credibility will be hurt, whatever the confidentiality level of the information,” Wakebe said.
Sony’s Chinese subsidiary said it has asked Baidu to delete documents from the site on a case-by-case basis, and Hitachi’s said it has been regularly monitoring the site and requesting the removal of its materials. Toyota’s affiliate in China declined comment, as did a Canon spokesman in Tokyo.
An MHI official said the firm believes a document containing its corporate name was fabricated, as it appears to be a contract regarding another company’s product.
Re: Stuff & Nonsense
« Reply #8941 on: Aug 8th, 2013, 09:06am »
UFO caught on surveillance in Naples?
Posted: Aug 07, 2013 11:05 AM PDT Updated: Aug 07, 2013 4:33 PM PDT
By Rick Ritter, Reporter
NAPLES, FL -
A video showing lights hovering over a pool is the talk of Naples. Residents say they have never seen anything like it -- and experts aren't sure either.
Monday night, security officer Debralee Thomas was watching the camera feed from behind a Gulfshore Boulevard condo building just across the street from Venetian Village, when she noticed strange lights swoop in over the pool.
"I realized that it was something that wasn't normal, so I was like 'oh my, what is that,'" Thoma said.
At first glance, what she saw almost looked like a saucer-shaped object up top. Then the object went down into the pool and expanded like a web -- moving back and forth.
After nearly thirty minutes, the object started to disappear.
Thomas said bugs fly up to their cameras all the time, but this was further away.
"It was down on the ground but some of that webbing was longer and it made a funnel down into the pool. Whatever it was doing in the pool, I don't know," Thomas said.
The video was sent to MUFON, a UFO organization in Ohio. Officials at MUFON say it is one of the most fascinating videos they have seen in a while.
They are analyzing it, but they don't think it is a hoax. That's what Thomas' coworkers thought at first, until they saw the video their selves.
"We watched it on tape and to be honest I was so grateful that it was there so I could say it was real…it really happened," Thomas said.
On Wednesday, residents were walking in and out of the office complex to check out the must-see video.
"I have no idea. I've never seen anything like this. The electrical charges coming from it, it's truly unbelievable," said resident Curtis Kate.
But what it is remains a mystery for now. Something Thomas is OK with as long as it doesn't happen again.
The Conservancy of Southwest Florida also looked at the video. Coincidentally, the pool is closed for cleaning over the next few days.
Re: Stuff & Nonsense
« Reply #8942 on: Aug 8th, 2013, 09:08am »
Q-Glasses Could Be a New Class of Solids
Aug. 7, 2013 — There may be more kinds of stuff than we thought. A team of researchers has reported possible evidence for a new category of solids, things that are neither pure glasses, crystals, nor even exotic quasicrystals. Something else.
"Very weird. Strangest material I ever saw," says materials physicist Lyle Levine of the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST).
The research team from NIST, Argonne National Laboratory, France's Centre d'Élaboration de Matériaux et d'Études Structurales (CNRS) and the University of Washington have analyzed a solid alloy that they discovered in small discrete patches of a rapidly cooled mixture of aluminum, iron and silicon. The material appears to have none of the extended ordering of atoms found in crystals, which would make it a glass, except that it has a very defined composition and grows outward from "seeds" -- things that glasses most assuredly do not do.
The solids catalog used to be pretty straightforward. Solid stuff was either a crystal or a glass. Crystals fill up space with atoms or molecules in specific, fairly rigid patterns. The positions of the atoms are fixed such that if you take any section of pure crystal and slide it up, down, in, out or sideways a given distance, it will fit perfectly in the new position. That's translational symmetry. You can also spin the crystal through certain angles and the atoms also will line up; that's rotational symmetry.
Glasses have neither symmetry. They're just a random arrangement of their components, as if you'd taken a liquid and suddenly frozen everything in place without giving the atoms a chance to get in order. Which, in fact, is how metallic glasses are made.
In the 1980s, Dan Shechtman, an Israeli then working at NIST as a guest researcher, shook up this paradigm by finding evidence for quasicrystals, a new category of solids in which the atomic composition is fixed, and the material has rotational symmetry, but weirdly not translational symmetry. There is no long-range order to the pattern of the atoms.
The new material, which the research team has provisionally dubbed a "q-glass," can be shown by X-ray diffraction to have neither rotational nor translational symmetry, just like a glass, says Levine, but regardless, the atomic arrangement apparently is not random. "As the nodule grows, every atom still knows where to go," he says.
For one thing, the q-glass seems to have a strict chemical composition, according to Levine. Seen under a microscope, it's clear that, like a crystal, the spherical q-glass regions grow outward from a seed during cooling and exclude atoms that don't fit. "It's rejecting atoms that aren't fitting into the structure, and if there's no structure, it's not going to be doing that," says Levine. "It's amazing. Everything you can think about this thing behaves like a crystal, except it isn't."
The team used a variety of sophisticated techniques at Argonne's Advanced Photon Source to rule out other possibilities. The material might, for example, be a mass of randomly arrayed crystals so small they don't show up individually under the X-ray probes. But if such crystals were there, they'd grow slowly as the stuff is annealed. That doesn't happen. "We went through the laundry list of possibilities and disproved them, one by one," says Levine.
One possibility, say the researchers, is "frustration" -- two or more incompatible crystal orderings may start growing from the seeds and continually interfere with each other, destroying any long-range order. But, "one exciting possibility is that the q-glass is the first example of a 3-dimensionally ordered configuration of atoms that possesses neither translational nor rotational symmetry," says Levine. "Such structures have been theorized by mathematicians, but never before observed in nature."
Re: Stuff & Nonsense
« Reply #8943 on: Aug 8th, 2013, 11:21am »
Teacher of the Year
Back in September of 2005, on the first day of school, Martha Cothren, a social studies school teacher at Robinson High School in Little Rock , did something not to be forgotten. On the first day of school, with the permission of the school superintendent, the principal and the building supervisor, she removed all of the desks out of her classroom.
When the first period kids entered the room they discovered that there were no desks.
'Ms. Cothren, where're our desks?'
She replied, 'You can't have a desk until you tell me how you earn the right to sit at a desk.'
They thought, 'Well, maybe it's our grades.'
'No,' she said.
'Maybe it's our behavior.'
She told them, 'No, it's not even your behavior.'
And so, they came and went, the first period, second period, third period. Still no desks in the classroom.
By early afternoon television news crews had started gathering in Ms. Cothren's classroom to report about this crazy teacher who had taken all the desks out of her room.
The final period of the day came and as the puzzled students found seats on the floor of the deskless classroom, Martha Cothren said, 'Throughout the day no one has been able to tell me just what he or she has done to earn the right to sit at the desks that are ordinarily found in this classroom. Now I am going to tell you.'
At this point, Martha Cothren went over to the door of her classroom and opened it.
Twenty-seven (27) U.S. Veterans, all in uniform, walked into that classroom, each one carrying a school desk. The Vets began placing the school desks in rows, and then they would walk over and stand alongside the wall. By the time the last soldier had set the final desk in place those kids started to understand, perhaps for the first time in their lives, just how the right to sit at those desks had been earned.
Martha said, 'You didn't earn the right to sit at these desks. These heroes did it for you. They placed the desks here for you. Now, it's up to you to sit in them. It is your responsibility to learn, to be good students, to be good citizens. They paid the price so that you could have the freedom to get an education. Don't ever forget it.'
By the way, this is a true story. And this teacher was awarded Teacher of the Year for the state of Arkansas in 2006.
Please don't forget that the freedoms we have in this great country were earned by U. S. Veterans. Always remember them and the rights they have won for us.
Re: Stuff & Nonsense
« Reply #8944 on: Aug 9th, 2013, 08:56am »
Five men are being questioned by police over the acid attack on two British charity volunteers in Zanzibar as suspicion grew that a radical Islamic group may have inspired the assault.
By Mike Pflanz, Stone Town, Zanzibar, Gordon Rayner and Victoria Ward 11:50AM BST 09 Aug 2013
Religious leaders on the Indian Ocean island believe the two men who threw acid over teenagers Kirstie Trup and Katie Gee may be followers of Uamsho, which wants Zanzibar to become independent of mainland Tanzania and impose stricter Muslim rules.
In the past year there have been attacks on Muslim and Catholic leaders on the island, including an acid attack and a fatal shooting.
All of the men were detained late on Thursday and in the early hours of Friday in Stone Town, the capital of Zanzibar.
The two women, both aged 18 and from north London, were expected back in the UK at lunchtime today after being evacuated from Tanzania on a specially-chartered private medical evacuation flight.
“There are five people we have, all men, who we are interrogating over this matter this morning,” said Mkadam Khamis, regional police commissioner in Zanzibar.
The men were being questioned at the regional investigations office at Zanzibar’s police headquarters. One is understood to be a shopkeeper with whom the women had an argument earlier in the week.
Police hunting the men behind an acid attack on two British volunteers in Zanzibar should focus on a violent Islamic group fighting for fundamentalist rule of the island, religious leaders told The Telegraph on Friday.
A senior Muslim imam, himself disfigured in an acid attack nine months ago, named Uamsho or its followers as the likely culprits for the attack on Katie Gee and Kirstie Trup.
The organisation, whose leaders are in prison awaiting trial for inciting religious violence, was behind crudely-printed anti-Christian leaflets dropped around Zanzibar a fortnight ago.
They want to introduce strict dress codes for women including tourists, restrict alcohol sales and remove the islands of the Zanzibar archipelago from mainland Tanzania’s rule.
“Of course this attack on the tourists was Uamsho,” said Sheikh Fadhil Soraga, a moderate Muslim cleric who suffered extensive burns to his face and hands in an acid attack in November that he blames on the radical group.
“Just 10 days ago they were saying they were planning something. This attack, which all Muslims must condemn, is their work.”
The Reverend Cosmas Shayo, parish priest of St Joseph’s Catholic Cathedral, agreed.
His predecessor, Father Evarist Mushi, was shot dead on his way home from the cathedral in February, and suspicion again fell on Uamsho.
“These people are dedicated only on bringing chaos to further their aims,” he said.
“They want to make the islands only Muslim, and first they wanted to scare Tanzanian Christians, and now they want to scare tourists, who they see as all Christians as well.”
Mkadam Khamis, regional police commissioner in Zanzibar, said his detectives were exploring “many avenues of investigation, including Uamsho”.
“It is too early to accuse anyone directly, but yes we are looking at those people and their supporters,” he said.
Jakaya Kikwete, Tanzania’s president, promised on Thursday that the hunt for the two men on a moped who threw acid at the British women was a top priority.
The close friends, who were volunteering for a charity after finishing their A-levels, had argued with a local shopkeeper days before two men on a moped threw acid over them, burning their faces and bodies.
Katie had also been slapped by a local woman for singing during the Muslim holy month of Ramadan, and a friend of the girls suggested they may have been singled out because they are Jewish.
On Thursday night, Katie Gee’s father Jeremy, a chartered surveyor, said: “I spoke to Katie about an hour-and-a-half ago. We are absolutely devastated. The photographs that I have seen are absolutely horrendous.
“The level of the burns are beyond imagination.
“She is expected to be back later tomorrow morning when she will be rushed to hospital where consultants and surgeons are waiting for the girls to arrive.”
Her mother Nicky Gee added that “her whole face and body is burnt”.
Miss Trup, of Hampstead, north London, is hoping to read history at Bristol University and Miss Gee, of East Finchley, a former pupil at the £5,375-per-term Francis Holland School in Chelsea, intends to study sociology at Nottingham University.
Both girls’ families spent Thursday at the home of Kirstie’s father Mark Trup, a dentist and former director of Bupa Dental Services, where they later issued a joint statement saying they were “extremely upset and distressed at this completely unprovoked attack on [our] lovely daughters who had only gone to Zanzibar with good intention”.
The girls were working for a month at the St Monica nursery school in Zanzibar’s capital, Stone Town, for the Art in Tanzania charity on a trip organised by the Kent-based travel firm i-to-i.
The day before the attack Miss Gee had excitedly tweeted that she had met the former US president Bill Clinton, who was on the island promoting the anti-malarial work of his Clinton Health Access Initiative.
But the girls had also had run-ins with local people.
Oli Cohen, a close friend of Katie, said: “The girls were walking through the town singing during Ramadan when a Muslim lady came up to her shouting. She lost her temper and reacted violently - and hit her in the face for singing.
“They were both extremely shaken up by it. I think white north London Jewish girls walking around in Zanzibar always make them a target as it's a Muslim country.”
Bashir Ismail, of Art in Tanzania, said the girls had argued with a nearby shop owner a few days ago when they went for groceries.
He said that when the attack happened at around 7pm on Wednesday: “The two attackers passed by several white tourists in the area and threw acid after reaching closer to them which raises suspicion of a planned attack.”
Tanzanian police said they want to question Sheikh Issa Ponda Issa, who heads the Council of the Islamic Organisation, a radical Muslim outfit based in Dar es Salaam, who has spent a week in Zanzibar encouraging supporters to demonstrate “like in Egypt” to secure the release of 10 imprisoned members of an Islamic separatist group.
The prisoners are members of Uamsho, which wants Zanzibar to split from the mainland, which it blames for bringing alcohol and Western ways to the islands.
In recent months there have been several attacks on religious leaders, including an acid attack on a Muslim cleric in November and the shooting dead of a Catholic priest in February.
Jakaya Kikwete, Tanzania's president, visited the two teenagers at the Aga Khan Hospital in Dar es Salaam, to which they had been flown from Zanzibar, and described their ordeal as “a shameful attack that tarnishes the image of our country”.
A medical orderly who helped treat the two women on Thursday said he expected them to make a full recovery with the right treatment.
"It has not penetrated deep tissue, it would have been painful but they'll likely make a full recovery," he said.
Re: Stuff & Nonsense
« Reply #8946 on: Aug 9th, 2013, 08:59am »
IBM Dreams Impossible Dream With Clone of Human Brain
By Cade Metz 08.09.13 6:30 AM
The thing to realize is that recreating human intelligence is impossible. We can’t even grasp how the brain works.
“Clearly, we can’t build a brain,” says Dharmendra Modha. “We don’t have the organic technology, nor do we have the knowledge.”
But Modha is trying to build one nonetheless, together with a vast team of researchers inside tech giant IBM and across various academic and government labs. The project began in 2006, when the India-born computer scientist founded the Almaden Institute of Cognitive Computing at an IBM research lab in Silicon Valley, and in the years since, he and his team have worked to recreate biological intelligence with computer hardware and software, first building a machine that mimicked a mouse brain and then a cat’s and then a monkey’s.
This week, Modha and his team tickled our collective imagination yet again with the news that they’ve developed a new kind of computer programming language — a language specifically suited to building applications that imitate the brain’s ability to grasp the world around us, sift through the ambiguities, and immediately respond. The team envisions a headset for the blind that replaces seeing-eye dogs, and a solar-powered contraption that floats on the sea, looking for mines and checking for oil spills.
These are fascinating propositions — for many reasons — and predictably, the tech press is abuzz over IBM’s “breakthrough” in cognitive computing. The only problem is that we won’t see any of these applications any time soon. Even the new programming language is still in its infancy.
In the short term, Modha’s project won’t change anything. It’s more ambitious than that. After striving to clone the brain using everyday computer chips and good old fashioned C programming code, the team is now building a new type of chip — as well as a new programming language — that more closely resembles the brain. Or at least the brain as we know it. They’re breaking with 70 years of tradition to rethink the way we design computers.
The point is that Modha and his team have not cloned a mouse brain or a cat brain or a monkey brain. They’ve merely tried to replicate parts of these biological systems — and they’ve come to the realization that they can only go so far with existing hardware and software.
In the 1940s, a polymath named John von Neumann described a digital computer, laying out a basic architecture that included a central processor for spinning through a list of instructions, a memory system for juggling data on behalf of the processor, and a storage system for housing software that tells the processor what to do. Today’s computers still rely on this “von Neumann architecture,” but Modra and his team envision something entirely different.
Known as a “neurosynaptic core,” their new chip includes hardware that mimic neurons and synapses — the basic building blocks of our nervous system and the connections between them. And in recreating the basics of the brain, Modha says, the chip eschews traditional methods of computer design. “This tiny little neurosynaptic core really breaks from the von Newmann architecture,” Modha says. “It integrates processor and memory and communication.” The idea is that you could then piece multiple cores together — creating ever larger systems, spanning an ever larger number of fake neurons and synapses.
IBM’s new programming language then provides the tools needed to map software onto this vast array of neurosynaptic cores. “It is not meaningful to adapt languages from the past era to this architecture,” Modha says. “It is like forcing a square peg into a round hole.” With the new language, coders can create a self-contained software module that executes a particular function across all cores, such as the ability to detect sound or identify color. These modules — or corelets — can then be combined to create larger applications.
Modha compares the project to the creation of FORTRAN, the seminal program language that taught the world how to build software for von Newmann machines. FORTRAN was also designed at IBM.
Re: Stuff & Nonsense
« Reply #8947 on: Aug 9th, 2013, 09:01am »
Report: Russia Has Not Delivered S-300s to Syria
Aug. 9, 2013 - 08:01AM By AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE
MOSCOW — Russia has not delivered advanced S-300 missile systems ordered by Syria although several have been built and Damascus has paid a multi-million deposit, Vedomosti daily reported Friday, citing arms industry sources.
A batch of the systems was due to be sent to Syria this spring, according to the Russian arms export agency’s contract with Damascus, but the systems are now apparently due for delivery no earlier than the summer of 2014, Vedomosti said.
President Vladimir Putin said in June that Moscow had not yet delivered the sophisticated anti-aircraft missile systems to the Syrian regime for fear of upsetting the balance of power in the region.
Syria ordered four S-300 systems in 2011 at a cost of $1 billion, and two sources in the arms industry told Vedomosti that several of the S-300s have already been built, while the production of the others has been postponed.
Syria has paid a deposit of several hundred million dollars, the sources said.
The Russian producer of missiles used in the systems said in April that it had received notice of its contract with Syria being postponed until the summer of 2014, Vedomosti reported.
Syrian Deputy Prime Minister Qadri Jamil said on a visit to Moscow in July that all the contracts to deliver arms from Russia to Syria were still in place.
Russia has angered the West and Arab states that oppose President Bashar al-Assad’s regime by refusing to halt military and other cooperation with the Damascus regime throughout the Syrian conflict.
Damascus is not expected to push for a quicker delivery of the systems or to demand its deposit back due to Assad’s need for Russian support, a source close to Russia’s arms export agency told Vedomosti.
Re: Stuff & Nonsense
« Reply #8948 on: Aug 9th, 2013, 09:09am »
Ozone Hole Might Slightly Warm Planet, Computer Model Suggests
Aug. 8, 2013 — A lot of people mix up the ozone hole and global warming, believing the hole is a major cause of the world's increasing average temperature. Scientists, on the other hand, have long attributed a small cooling effect to the ozone shortage in the hole.
Now a new computer-modeling study suggests that the ozone hole might actually have a slight warming influence, but because of its effect on winds, not temperatures. The new research suggests that shifting wind patterns caused by the ozone hole push clouds farther toward the South Pole, reducing the amount of radiation the clouds reflect and possibly causing a bit of warming rather than cooling.
"We were surprised this effect happened just by shifting the jet stream and the clouds," said lead author Kevin Grise, a climate scientist at Lamont-Doherty Earth Observatory of Columbia University in New York City.
Grise notes this small warming effect may be important for climatologists trying to predict the future of Southern Hemisphere climate.
The work is detailed in Geophysical Research Letters, a journal of the American Geophysical Union. Grise collaborated on the study with Lorenzo Polvani of Columbia University, George Tselioudis of NASA Goddard Institute for Space Studies, Yutian Wu of New York University, and Mark Zelinka of Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory.
Hole in the sky
Each ozone molecule consists of three oxygen atoms bound together. These ozone molecules gather in the lower portion of the stratosphere about 20 to 30 kilometers (12 to 19 miles) above the ground -- about twice as high as commercial airliners fly.
Thankfully for the living things below, this layer of ozone shields Earth from some of the hazardous ultraviolet radiation barraging the atmosphere. Unchecked, these ultraviolet rays can cause sunburns, eye damage and even skin cancer.
In the 1980s, scientists discovered thinning of the ozone layer above Antarctica during the Southern Hemisphere's spring months. The cause of this "hole" turned out to be chlorofluorocarbons, such as Freon, from cooling systems, aerosols cans and degreasing solvents, which break apart ozone molecules. Even though the1987 Montreal Protocol banned these chlorofluorocarbons worldwide, the ozone hole persists decades later.
Many people falsely equate the ozone hole to global warming. In a 2010 Yale University poll, 61 percent of those surveyed believed the ozone hole significantly contributed to global warming. Additionally, 43 percent agreed with the statement "if we stopped punching holes in the ozone layer with rockets, it would reduce global warming."
An actual consequence of the ozone hole is its odd effect on the Southern Hemisphere polar jet stream, the fast flowing air currents encircling the South Pole. Despite the ozone hole only appearing during the spring months, throughout each subsequent summer the high-speed jet stream swings south toward the pole.
"For some reason when you put an ozone hole in the Southern Hemisphere during springtime, you get this robust poleward shift in the jet stream during the following summer season," said Grise. "People have been looking at this for 10 years and there's still no real answer of why this happens."
The team of scientists led by Grise wondered if the ozone hole's impacts on the jet stream would have any indirect effects on the cloud cover. Using computer models, they worked out how the clouds would react to changing winds.
"Because the jet stream shifts, the storm systems move along with it toward the pole," said Grise. "If the storm systems move, the cloud system is going to move with it."
High- and mid-level clouds, the team discovered, traveled with the shifting jet stream toward the South Pole and the Antarctic continent. Low-level cloud coverage dropped in their models throughout the Southern Ocean. While modeling clouds is a difficult task due to the variety of factors that guide their formation and movement, Grise noted that observational evidence from the International Satellite Cloud Climatology Project, a decades-long NASA effort to map global cloud distributions, supports their theory of migrating cloud coverage.
When the cloud cover moves poleward, the amount of energy the clouds can reflect drops, which increases the amount of radiation reaching the ground. "If you shift the reflector poleward," Grise explained, "you've moved it somewhere there is less radiation coming in."
In 2007, the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change reported a direct cooling effect from the thinning ozone layer -- specifically, a reduction of about 0.05 watts per square meter's worth of energy reaching the ground. However, Grise and his colleagues estimated the indirect effect of the shifting cloud coverage to be an increase of approximately 0.2 watts per square meter. Their result not only suggests that warming rather than cooling would be taking place, but also that there's a larger influence overall. Since the jet stream only shifts during the summer months, the warming only takes place in those months.
"Theoretically this net radiation input into the system should give some sort of temperature increase, but it's unknown if that signal could be detected or what the magnitude of it would be," said Grise. For comparison, worldwide, an average of about 175 watts per square meter reaches the ground from sunlight, according to the George Washington University Solar Institute.
Dennis Hartmann, an atmospheric scientist at the University of Washington in Seattle unrelated with the project, points out that since predicting cloud behavior is so challenging, the model used in Grise's study could be underestimating clouds north of the jet stream being pulled toward the equator and in turn reflecting more light, potentially reducing or even negating the warming effect. Hartmann added that he also has some concerns about the modeling of the low-level cloud response.
Still, "this is certainly a very interesting topic and potentially important from a practical perspective of predicting Southern Hemisphere climate and even global warming rates," he commented.
Looking toward the future, the jet stream should do less and less shifting to the south during the summer months as the ozone layer above the South Pole recovers. However, increasing levels of greenhouse gases can also change mid-latitude wind patterns and push the jet stream poleward, creating a complicated scenario which Grise said he plans to study in future work.
"You have sort of this tug-of-war between the jet being pulled equator-ward during the summer because of the ozone recovery and the greenhouse gases pulling the jet further poleward," said Grise. "What the clouds do in that scenario is an open question."
Funding for the research was provided by the National Science Foundation and by the U.S. Department of Energy's Office of Science.
Re: Stuff & Nonsense
« Reply #8951 on: Aug 11th, 2013, 09:31am »
Post-Benghazi, Obama plays it safe with embassies
By BRADLEY KLAPPER — Aug. 10 10:37 AM EDT
WASHINGTON (AP) — President Barack Obama seems determined to make sure he doesn't have another Benghazi.
Pilloried by Republicans in Congress for its handling of last year's attack, his administration is responding with extra caution now that intelligence suggests a possible al-Qaida strike is in the works.
Even as the threat may be subsiding, U.S. officials say they are taking no risks less than a year after militants killed four Americans in the eastern Libyan city and with Republicans poised to pounce on any misstep.
After closing 19 diplomatic posts across the Muslim world for almost a week, the United States added to the global uneasiness Friday.
It ordered nonessential staff out of Lahore, Pakistan, and warned Americans to avoid traveling to the country. The action appeared unrelated to the al-Qaida threat stemming from Yemen, but mirrored a missive earlier in the week to U.S. embassy staffers in that country.
The stated reason for all the recent security measures: "An overabundance of caution."
Come Sunday, all but one of the 19 embassies and consulates will reopen, the State Department announced late Friday. The exception: the U.S. Embassy in Sanaa, Yemen. In addition, the consulate in Lahore was to remain closed. A department spokeswoman did not cite a reason for the decision to reopen the 18 missions.
Obama said at a White House news conference Friday afternoon that al-Qaida's core has been decimated by U.S. counterterrorism efforts such as the 2011 raid that killed Osama bin Laden in his compound in Pakistan. But the terrorist network's affiliates continue to threaten the U.S.
"Although they are less likely to be able to carry out spectacular homeland attacks like 9/11, they have the capacity to go after our embassies," Obama said. "They have the capacity to go after our businesses. They have the capacity to be destabilizing and disruptive in countries where the security apparatus is weak. And that's what we are seeing now."
"We are not going to completely eliminate terrorism," he said. "What we can do is to weaken it and to strengthen our partners so that it does not pose the kind of horrible threat that it posed on 9/11."
Obama didn't talk specifically about the threat or the embassy closings.
But U.S. officials familiar with internal discussions acknowledged that last year's deadly attack on a U.S. facility in Benghazi was playing a role in the decision-making. They said the White House, in particular, was insisting on handling the situation with extra caution, and only reopening embassies and consulates to the public when no meaningful threat persisted. They spoke on condition of anonymity because they weren't authorized to talk publicly about the deliberations.
Extended closures have consequences for U.S. diplomacy. It means would-be tourists and those traveling on business have to wait for visas, pickpocketed Americans can't get new passports and fewer personnel are at work promoting human rights, facilitating trade deals or coordinating with foreign governments on issues vital to U.S. security and economic growth. It also takes a toll on the U.S. image in countries with anti-American sentiment already.
The shutdown order for diplomatic facilities from northwest Africa to Bangladesh stands in sharp contrast to the approach the administration favored last September under different circumstances.
The current danger across much of North Africa and the Middle East concerns a potential al-Qaida attack stemming from lawless Yemen, while the Pakistan closures relate to a flurry of deadly militant attacks there. The threat a year ago was more amorphous and even less predictable, focusing primarily on a flood of protests from West Africa to the Philippines over an amateur, anti-Islam film made by an Egyptian living in the United States.
At the time the administration was hesitant to close its embassies and consulates. Even after the Sept. 11 Benghazi assault that killed U.S. Ambassador Chris Stevens and three other Americans, and as demonstrators besieged U.S. posts across the region, Washington tried to keep its offices in most places open for business.
When the U.S. took action, it was narrower in scope and in geography.
After protesters marched on the U.S. compound in Cairo, scaled the walls and replaced the American flag with the black banner favored by Islamists, the State Department shut down visa offices for a week and suspended emergency services for Americans for several days.
The building remained in operation, as did the U.S. Embassy in Yemen after similarly violent scenes days later.
The night of Sept. 11 proved most violent of all, though the administration no longer says the events there were connected to any demonstrations.
Since the two-step attack of the Benghazi diplomatic post and then a CIA compound across town, no U.S. diplomats have returned to the city. Yet even inside Libya, the response was targeted. Nonessential staff was ordered out of the U.S. Embassy in Tripoli, the capital, while senior diplomats remained.
Protests elsewhere at the time had repercussions.
The U.S. shut its embassy in Sudan after the government refused to authorize extra Marines as part of a protection force. The U.S. closed facilities throughout Pakistan on Sept. 21 for a national holiday dedicated to the Muslim Prophet Mohammed. But in dozens of other places where demonstrations took place, the State Department maintained a semblance of normality.
Washington bolstered security at facilities, instead of closing them down. In some places, that meant Marines; in others, local authorities stepped up. Armored vehicles, police cars and surveillance teams immediately became more conspicuous next to U.S. compounds from Nigeria to the Philippines.
Over the past week, the U.S. has erred far greater on the side of caution.
On the military side, U.S. drone strikes have killed 34 suspected militants in Yemen in the past two weeks, according to an Associated Press count provided by Yemeni security officials.
And even though there has been no public manifestation yet of the al-Qaida threat, the administration continues to openly warn about the ongoing danger and the need to limit U.S. exposure while taking action against terrorist groups.
Somewhat lost in the response has been the importance of persisting with diplomacy in dangerous places — a theme stressed significantly a year ago.
"Even as voices of suspicion and mistrust seek to divide countries and cultures from one another, the United States of America will never retreat from the world," Obama said at a ceremony for the victims of the Benghazi attack.
Re: Stuff & Nonsense
« Reply #8952 on: Aug 11th, 2013, 09:39am »
It is called “The Hyperloop” and, according to the designer, it will be a revolutionary “fifth mode” of transport, eclipsing trains, planes, boats and automobiles.
By Nick Allen, Los Angeles 6:39PM BST 10 Aug 2013
The “cross between Concorde, a rail gun and an air hockey table” will deliver passengers between US cities faster than the speed of sound.
The history of transport is replete with dreamers who have concocted such schemes for getting people from A to B in previously unimagined haste. And many of them have remained just that, impractical ideas on a drawing board that will never see the light of day.
But the latest mysterious project, which has had the technology world buzzing for months, has one crucial difference. Its backer is a Silicon Valley wunderkind with a proven track record of turning science fiction into reality.
Billionaire Elon Musk’s CV is impressive, to say the least. He made his initial fortune from PayPal, the online secure payment system, before going on to launch spaceships. Last year his SpaceX venture became the first private operation to dock a cargo capsule with the International Space Station.
Back on Earth, Mr Musk also founded Tesla, which has made electric sports cars viable and profitable.
The mercurial, fictional character of Tony Stark, played by Robert Downey Jr in the Iron Man films, is reputedly based on him.
So when Mr Musk, 42, announced that he would be publishing plans for the Hyperloop on Monday, August 12 - tomorrow - scientists were sent into a tailspin.
They will have to wait for Mr Musk to post his “alpha design” on the internet then but he has dropped several hints about its features, including that the system will be powered by solar panels.
Mr Musk will not be patenting the design and it will be “open source”, meaning anyone can modify it, or try to build it.
The fevered speculation about what it would actually look like has ranged from wild theories on Star Trek-style teleportation to more achievable ones involving cars being pushed through vacuum sealed tunnels using magnets.
Mr Musk has denied it will be a so-called “vactrain”, a concept that is already being pursued by a company in Colorado. His idea “does involve a tube, but not a vacuum tube”, he said, adding: “Not frictionless, but very low friction.”
In recent weeks a large part of the mystery appeared to have been solved. A technology enthusiast in Canada called John Gardi published a diagram of how the Hyperloop might work. He went on to ask Mr Musk on Twitter: “Can you give me some basic clues? What diameter of tube so I can start designing stations and throughways?”
To his extreme surprise Mr Musk replied: “Your guess is the closest I’ve seen anyone guess so far. Pod diameter probably around 2m.”
Mr Gardi, who describes himself modestly as a “tinkerer”, came up with a tunnel 9ft in diameter, raised above the ground on pylons. His tube could be made from materials already used for sewer pipes. It would form a continuous loop between two destination points. Giant turbines would blast a stream of air into the tube. The two-metre wide pods, carrying people, would be moved by a rail gun - a tube that uses magnets to accelerate material passing along it.
As they approach their journey’s end they would be routed out of the air stream and slowed down using a magnetic braking system.
In an extensive analysis published on the website Motherboard, Mr Gardi concluded: “I believe that Hyperloop is merely a modern day version of the pneumatic tubes used in banks, stores, and industry to move money and small items over long distances or to other floors of a building.
“They’ve been around for over a century, though not so much these days. One reason I think Hyperloop is simpler than folks think is that Elon Musk has resurrected another technology from the depths of time, one that was a contender once, too - the electric car!”
Mr Musk’s intended location for the first Hyperloop is California, between Los Angeles and San Francisco. His motivation for the project came from disillusionment with the Golden State’s high speed rail project, which has been dubbed the “bullet train to nowhere” after a series of setbacks.
He believes the Hyperloop could be built for a tenth of the cost and deliver passengers between the two cities in just 30 minutes, compared to three hours for the bullet train.
The bullet train is currently estimated to be costing $68 billion and may not be completed until 2028. It would reach top speeds of only around 130mph. In a survey seven in 10 people said, if the train ever does run, they would “never or hardly ever” use it anyway.
In an internet conversation this week with Sir Richard Branson, Mr Musk said: “I originally started thinking about it when I read a thing about California’s high speed rail project, which was somewhat disappointing. It is actually worse than taking the plane. I get a little sad when things are not getting better in the future.
“Another example would be like the Concorde being retired and the fact there is no supersonic passenger transport. I think that is sad. You want the future to be better than the past, or at least I do.
“The Hyperloop is something that would go effectively faster than the speed of sound. Conceivably you could live in San Fran and work in LA.”
Mr Musk said the Hyperloop would be best used between paired cities less than 1,000 miles apart, and would be safer than air travel.
However, Mr Musk said last week that he is too busy with space to build it himself. He added: “I think I kind of shot myself in the foot by ever mentioning the Hyperloop, because I’m too strung out. Obviously I have to focus on core Tesla business, and SpaceX business, and that’s more than enough.”
Mr Gardi has confidence though. He said: “Building Hyperloop’s main line for a tenth the cost of high speed rail is not only feasible, it’s doable.”
Re: Stuff & Nonsense
« Reply #8953 on: Aug 11th, 2013, 09:42am »
Secure E-mail Services Shuttered over Fears of Government PRISM Reprisals
By Larry Greenemeier August 9, 2013
Revelations of the U.S. National Security Agency’s PRISM program continue to have worldwide ripple effects. Nearly two months after U.S. federal prosecutors charged NSA whistleblower Edward Snowden with espionage and theft of government property for blowing the lid off of the clandestine surveillance program, the company that secured Snowden’s electronic communications with journalists and international officials has shut down its encrypted e-mail services.
Texas-based Lavabit LLC announced August 8 that it was suspending operations due to unspecified legal pressures. The move prompted another company, Silent Circle, to likewise drop its own encrypted e-mail service on August 9 before becoming the target of similar legal scrutiny. Meanwhile, concerns over the NSA’s snooping have prompted the opposite reaction in Germany, where two of that country’s biggest Internet service providers—Deutsche Telekom AG and United Internet AG—say they will now encrypt customers’ emails by default.
In a note posted to Lavabit’s homepage, owner and operator Ladar Levison suggested that a long, secretive turn of events led to his decision to scuttle the service. “As things currently stand, I cannot share my experiences over the last six weeks, even though I have twice made the appropriate requests,” the site says. He also notes that, a “favorable decision” by the Fourth Circuit Court of Appeals would allow him to “resurrect Lavabit as an American company.”
Levison launched Lavabit in 2004 under the name Nerdshack. By 2009 the site boasted 140,000 registered users with more than 260,000 email addresses. Most of those accounts belonged to individual users, although the company did provide corporate e-mail services to about 70 companies.
Lavabit developed its secure e-mail platform around asymmetric encryption. This means that incoming e-mail messages were encrypted before being saved on the company’s servers and could be decrypted only by someone with a password for that e-mail account.
Most e-mail programs support encryption via Secure Sockets Layer (SSL) protocol, developed in the mid-1990s as a cryptographic tool to encode communications over TCP/IP networks. SSL uses a cryptographic system with two keys—a public key to encrypt the data and a private key, known only to a message’s recipient, to decipher it. SSL encrypts messages sent from the user’s machine to their ISP. As messages move through the core of the Internet, they are usually unencrypted, however. “Unless somebody is doing something intentionally to put encryption on the messages, the messages are decrypted at each hop along the way and are visible there,” cryptographer Paul Kocher, president and chief scientist of Cryptography Research, recently told Scientific American.
Silent Circle posted a note to its homepage Friday implying the company has shut down its secure Silent Mail service—which encrypts messages sent between Silent Circle customers—before being forced to comply with any government subpoenas, warrants, security letters or other legal demands for customer information. Phil Zimmermann, creator of the Pretty Good Privacy (PGP) program to encrypt and decrypt e-mail messages, co-founded the Washington, D.C., company, which claims to have its network located in Canada.
Silent Circle points out in the same note that its “end-to-end” cryptography meant that it had “nil” exposure to customer data. Yet the company’s FAQ states that, if the company is managing a client’s encryption keys (the other option would be for customers to manage their own keys), then Silent Circle can hand over client messages to law enforcement when legally compelled to do so. Silent Circle will continue to offer secure voice and text services because it has control over the infrastructure supporting them and can guarantee that messages were not intercepted or tampered with en route, the BBC reported Friday.
Zimmerman’s company apparently anticipated run-ins with the law. A Web page recounting Silent Circle’s history states: “We believe in honest transparency, and protecting individual and business privacy. We will post the requests we get from Government, Law Enforcement and worldwide legal entities for users data.” It goes on to declare: “We know that we’ll have a target painted on us from day one.”
The NSA crafted PRISM as a means for collecting data on people suspected of plotting terrorist attacks, spying or other forms of malfeasance. The government claims that information gathered via PRISM has disrupted dozens of potential terrorist attacks. Yet the program’s legacy is having other, likely unintended consequences on electronics communication. Lavabit’s Levison notes that, unless changes are made to current U.S. surveillance policies, “I would _strongly_ recommend against anyone trusting their private data to a company with physical ties to the United States.”
Re: Stuff & Nonsense
« Reply #8954 on: Aug 11th, 2013, 09:44am »
Three U.S. soldiers killed in eastern Afghanistan
KABUL | Sun Aug 11, 2013 9:37am EDT
(Reuters) - Three U.S. soldiers were killed in Afghanistan's eastern borderlands on Sunday, U.S. and NATO officials said, the first NATO combat deaths this month.
The soldiers, from the NATO-led International Security Assistance Force (ISAF), were killed by insurgents in Paktia province, a U.S. official told Reuters.
The last NATO soldier to be killed in action was late last month.
Paktia is one of several provinces that border Pakistan and have endured some of the highest levels of fighting during the U.S.-led 12-year war in Afghanistan.
U.S. soldiers based in Paktia are rarely involved in combat operations since handing over security responsibility to Afghan security forces earlier this year. They now primarily train their Afghan colleagues.
The NATO-led mission has about 100,000 international troops in Afghanistan, of which about 68,000 are American. Those numbers are expected to reduce sharply before the official end of the NATO-led combat mission - December 31, 2014.
More than 2,100 U.S. soldiers have died during the war in Afghanistan.
(Reporting by Dylan Welch; Editing by Mike Collett-White and Robin Pomeroy)