Re: Stuff & Nonsense
« Reply #9000 on: Aug 21st, 2013, 09:05am »
US Air Force Lacks Volunteers To Operate Drones
Aug. 21, 2013 - 08:06AM By AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE
WASHINGTON — The US Air Force is unable to keep up with a growing demand for pilots capable of operating drones, partly due to a shortage of volunteers, according to a new study.
Despite the importance placed on the burgeoning robotic fleet, drone operators face a lack of opportunities for promotion to higher ranks, and the military has failed to identify and cultivate this new category of aviators, Air Force Col. Bradley Hoagland wrote in the report published for the Brookings Institution think tank.
In 2012, the Air Force had a goal to train 1,129 “traditional” pilots and 150 drone pilots to operate Predator, Reaper and Global Hawk robotic aircraft.
But the Air Force “was not able to meet its RPA (remotely piloted aircraft) training requirements since there were not enough volunteers,” the report said.
As of last year, the Air Force had 1,300 drone pilots, making up about 8.5 percent of the force’s aviators, compared with 3.3 percent four years earlier.
The fleet of unmanned aircraft includes 152 Predators, 96 Reapers and 23 Global Hawks, which is large enough to fly 61 combat air patrols.
The military measures air power in terms of combat air patrols, or CAPs, which are supposed to provide 24-hour air coverage over a designated area. It typically takes three or four drones to make up a combat air patrol.
But goals for expanding the patrols are increasing “at a faster pace than the AF (Air Force) can train personnel to operate these systems,” the study said.
One of the factors behind the shortfall is a high rate of attrition among drone operators, which is three times higher than for traditional pilots, it said.
Another factor is the intense tempo of operations for drone missions over the past decade.
The constant drone flights mean operators, unlike their counterparts in other specialities, lack the time for additional education and training to attain a higher rank, undercutting their career prospects, the author wrote.
The problem is reflected in a 13 percent lower promotion rate to the rank of major over the past five years, compared to other military fields.
The lower number of promotions is also fed by a military culture that still does not fully appreciate the skills of drone pilots, Hoagland said.
“One of the controversies surrounding their historical lack of high level recognition is the viewpoint that RPA pilots were not risking their lives while operating their aircraft 7,000 miles away in Nevada,” he wrote.
In a bid to give them more recognition, the Pentagon in February created a new “Distinguished Warfare Medal” for pilots of drones or digital specialists who affect the battle at a remote distance.
But two months later, in the face of an outcry from veterans groups, Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel scrapped the medal, which had been placed relatively high in the hierarchy of military honors.
Instead, a device will be attached to existing medals to recognize the new-era warriors.
Re: Stuff & Nonsense
« Reply #9001 on: Aug 21st, 2013, 09:11am »
The World’s End: A Touching Alien-Invasion Pub-Crawl Movie About Finally Growing Up
By Devon Maloney 08.21.13 6:30 AM
It was the best of times, it was the worst of times. No, not 18th century France, but the experience of being 18 years old — that emotionally magnified fulcrum in life from whence everyone, supposedly, takes off. That glorious adolescent purgatory is one of Western storytelling’s most beloved tools, so it’s only fitting that cult film heroes Edgar Wright and Simon Pegg have decided to wrap up their so-called Three Flavors Cornetto trilogy with a final installment that, on its surface, is about a handful of grown men getting hammered in the midst of a condescending alien takeover, but at its core, it’s about the exact opposite.
The World’s End is the culmination of the Wright and Pegg trilogy, which also includes Shaun of the Dead (2004), and Hot Fuzz (2007), two cult-favorite stories about modern life delivered via the Trojan horse of a genre film — a zombie flick for Shaun, a buddy-cop picture for Fuzz. The World’s End is no different, except that this one is hidden in the guise of an apocalypse flick. The third installment of their nerd-powered opus revolves around a return to the modest, suburban upbringings of its characters, another reliable trope at the multiplex — except in this flick Wright and Pegg decided to set it on fire.
We saw this coming. The genius of the Cornetto film lies in their knowledge of and subsequent ability to improvise within known genres and structures. If you’ve seen the World’s End trailer, you know what it’s about: Four childhood bros, now boring and pushing 40, somehow get convinced by their former ringleader to recreate a bonkers pub crawl they first attempted when they were 18. And true to form, The World’s End is no different from its predecessors when it comes to its aging man-child themes (grow up, don’t be a dick, get drunk with your friends), recurring jokes (the fences, the circular banter, the infamous Cornetto cones), and impeccable timing for which the Cornetto Crew are revered.
Amidst bizarre, horn-driven intro music peppered with WWII-era sound-bytes about liberation and “getting loaded,” we meet Gary King (Pegg), a drug-addled, would-be Peter Pan, who realizes mid-support group that his life never got better than the night his gang finished high school and attempted that vaunted 12-pub crawl, the Golden Mile. Flinging himself off the wagon, he uses an assortment of half-truths, complete lies, and money-shuffling to get his four best friends — Peter (Eddie Marsan), Steven (Paddy Considine), Oliver (Freeman) and Andy (Frost), none of whom have heard from Gary in about 20 years — on-board to try the Golden Mile all over it again.
Call it regression — for some people, high school never really ends — but he convinces all of them to join in, and they return to the sleepy, fictional ‘burb of Newton Haven only to find that the quirky pubs they once knew have been “Starbucksed” since they’ve been gone: the bartenders have forgotten them, the menus are all identical, and each pub only has one type of beer on draft. Oliver’s sister Sam (Rosamund Pike), who hooked up with 18-year-old Gary King on the first time around, joins them in the homecoming, only to swiftly extinguish King’s rematch hopes. All five are confronted with the brutal, well-trodden truth: just because you’ve left your hometown doesn’t mean you deserve the welcome of a conquering hero when you come back.
Just as King’s sadness and his friends’ frustration is about to hit peak realness, however, things take a sudden turn for the sci-fi when a drunken King tries to make friends with the wrong teenager in the loo. During the subsequent confrontation, he ends up slamming the teen’s body into a sink fixture, knocking his skull clean off his body like a Lego head because — dun dun dun — he is a robot. And that’s when the real Cornetto magic kicks in.
From there, Wright and crew take their signature detour into genre-film archetype: the five have been discovered, and will now be hunted by invaders who believe, like certain other cybernetic species, that resistance is futile. It’s a highly predictable arc, but it’s the flourishes you’re really paying to see: the deliciously childlike conceptualization of the supposedly beneficent alien machines (seriously, don’t call them robots); the pitch-perfect appearances from Pierce Brosnan, David Bradley and Alexander Skarsgård; their modernization of Monty Python-style banter. Wright and Pegg operate within well-trodden territory, one they have studied with fanboy obsession for as long as Gary King has obsessed over the pub crawl of June 22, 1990.
What’s more novel is that were American writer/producer/directors like Judd Apatow and Adam McKay (all due respect) write their main characters as somewhat attractive and funny dudes who still claim they’re losers, Wright and Pegg’s lads truly are. Gary King, of course, is the prime example. His mania and addictive behavior bleed through his comedic alpha posturing to the point where you almost feel bad for enjoying it. (Pegg’s pristine performance as the wildly addicted, incorrigibly bombastic King is only enhanced by the fact that the actor really did quit pub life between Fuzz and World’s End.) And while the others have made comfortable lives for themselves — Peter as a car salesman, Oliver a real estate agent, Steven a divorced construction entrepreneur, Andy a recovering alcoholic/current workaholic corporate lawyer — none of them have won life’s lottery, either.
And it’s their overt insecurities despite decades of so-called maturity that stick in you so deeply. With the superb character studies Pegg and Wright have written for the five friends, it’s both a wonder and a shame that the sixth character, Oliver’s sister Sam (acted as empathetically as possible by the superbly relatable Pike), isn’t written with the same humanity. Her personality rests on having hooked up with the wrong people in high school (and being smarter now, clearly) and having a cute catchphrase (“oh, crumbs”). It’s not even clear what she does for a living now, even though that could have been established in one line. She exists purely as she relates to the five friends, despite being far more instrumental to their survival than, say, their former drug dealer “Reverend Green” (Michael Smiley); if you took those connections away, Sam would simply be, as Gary King drools upon seeing her for the first time in two decades, “fit.”
Regardless, thanks to the downfall of civilization, at some point in The World’s End most every character gets a chance to start from scratch either by moving forwards into adulthood, or regressing backward to the past. Seeing how that plays out is part of the fun, so no spoilers, but if there’s a better way to cap off a trilogy about finding a happy medium between perpetual adolescence and finally growing up … well, we’d prefer not to know.
Re: Stuff & Nonsense
« Reply #9003 on: Aug 21st, 2013, 09:24am »
Sniffing Out New Strategies in the Fight Against Alzheimer’s Disease
Despite barriers of blood, brain and bureaucracy, intranasal insulin may emerge as a promising treatment for pathological memory loss.
By Caitlin Shure
The newest chemical under investigation for managing Alzheimer’s disease (AD) is actually not new at all. Insulin, the therapeutic hormone all-too familiar to individuals with diabetes, has been around for decades. In fact December will mark 90 years since its discoverers earned the Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine for the extraction of insulin for clinical use. Yet to say that insulin has been under our noses all these years wouldn’t exactly be correct. Because if it had been under our noses, we might have sensed its neurologic benefits sooner.
The latest insulin therapy is not delivered via injection like its diabetes-treating counterparts, nor does it come in the form of a pill or a patch like the cholinesterase inhibitors often prescribed to patients with AD. Instead this novel therapeutic enters the body through the nose—the only entry point that gives insulin a chance of reaching the brain.
A large peptide molecule, insulin from the blood cannot float easily into the brain because the blood brain barrier (BBB), a sort of neuroprotective moat, prevents its transport. Fortified by cellular guards called tight junctions, the BBB rejects many pharmacologic hopefuls, allowing entrance only to certain types of substances. Namely small or lipophilic molecules can be administered orally (or via injection, or through the skin) and as long as the relevant chemicals end up in the blood stream, they can casually saunter across the BBB and act on the brain. Large and cumbersome, insulin does not have this luxury and must therefore take a more creative route across the moat.
The nose, conspicuous and sometimes even goofy, provides that creative route. Yet it’s a route that, for many years, researchers were hesitant to take.
“They would say things like, ‘Well, why would there be a blood brain barrier if all you had to do was put something in the nose and it would go to the brain?’” says William H. Frey II, Ph.D., Research Director at HealthPartners Center for Memory & Aging. As of 1989 Frey had been “in the Alzheimer’s deal” for over a decade. At that time he was conducting clinical trials of a neurotrophic factor (a therapeutic protein) to treat AD and, because of the seeming insurmountability of the BBB, the work had been less than fruitful. “It became clear to me that, once again, this neurotrophic factor was not getting effectively into the brain,” he says. So Frey decided to sleep on it. “I went to sleep and I had a dream. And this is how I discovered the intranasal method of getting around the blood brain barrier,” he says. “It had been known since the early 1900s that a number of different viruses that got into the nose would travel up the olfactory nerves and the trigeminal nerves—both of these are nerves that go directly from the nasal mucosa right into the brain. The idea that came to me in this dream in 1989 was: if bad things can do it, why can't good things do it?”
When Frey revisited the idea upon waking, it registered as simultaneously intuitive and absurd—a logical fantasy like so many dreams. Despite pushback from his colleagues (“Pretty much people thought that I was crazy,” he says), Frey decided to pursue the development of an intranasal (IN) system to deliver drugs to the brain. Awake as ever, his first step was to obtain a patent for his new technique. Here he would meet the first of many hurdles—barriers—in bringing his dream to fruition.
“The patent office said that they didn't believe that it would work, that I couldn’t patent it because it didn’t makes sense,” Frey says. Yet Frey and others continued experimenting with IN delivery (mostly in rodents), and showed that drugs administered in this fashion reliably reached the central nervous system. “By the time four years had gone by, there were so many published papers showing that this did work, the patent office said, ‘Well, we won't give you the patent, because it's obvious that this would work,” Frey says. In 1997, however, the patent office landed somewhere between “nonsense” and “obvious” and Frey’s request was granted.
Technically the patent covered any drug or therapeutic protein delivered to the brain via the nose. Working at an Alzheimer’s research center, however, Frey had a special interest in AD and had reason to focus on insulin as a pharmacologic candidate. Like other cells, neurons need insulin in order to absorb glucose and obtain energy; and research had shown deficits in glucose uptake and utilization in the brains of patients with AD. Thus, investigators had suspected a connection between insulin and AD for some time, but prior to the emergence of IN therapy this association was clinically moot.
Frey’s invention did not lead to the widespread therapeutic use of IN insulin that he might have hoped for. Researchers continued experimenting with the drug, but they did not have sufficient funding for the type of large-scale clinical trials that would bring it to market. The pharmaceutical industry hadn’t entirely ignored the IN method: biotech firm Chiron bought the patent almost immediately after it went public in 1997. But when Chiron changed leadership and decided to go into the business of flu vaccines, the patent was relegated to nothing more than impotent intellectual property. Eventually Chiron was bought by Novartis pharmaceuticals, “but they had a strict policy: they don’t develop generic drugs,” says Frey, “so they didn’t do anything with it.”
Frey came to realize that pharmaceutical companies generally were not inclined to pour money into clinical trials for a drug they didn’t own. The quality that made IN delivery so exciting—a new way to use old drugs—also made it unattractive from a business perspective. And though Novartis’ ownership would not preclude government-funded development of IN, reviewers at the National Institutes of Health (NIH) were hesitant to explore novel technology and remained narrowly focused on attempts to improve cholinesterase inhibitors. “Even though I had the patent, even though all these papers had come out…the NIH basically wouldn't fund anything on intranasal,” says Frey. “They didn't believe in intranasal.”
Of course, with time and proper inspiration nonbelievers can be converted. In May 2012 the NIH and the Obama administration announced the allocation of $7.9 million specifically for clinical trials of IN insulin. The NIH’s amended stance on the drug comes as part of an ambitious national initiative to effectively prevent and treat AD by 2025—a goal that, Frey speculates, puts pressure on the government to seek new avenues of research. “Jeez, we spent all this money for 35 years and what have we got to show for it? Nothing?” Frey mocks gently. “Let's look around and see if anything's working…Oh! What's this? Intranasal insulin?”
The funding also follows an enhanced understanding of how insulin may mediate disease progression: The hormone seems to interact with amyloid-β, the peptide comprising toxic amyloid plaques characteristic of AD. Studies suggest that insulin protects against Aβ’s neurodegenerative effects and that Aβ interferes with normal insulin signaling. Confirming this relationship are promising therapeutic results from a team of researchers led by neuropsychologist Suzanne Craft of Wake Forest Baptist Medical Center. In a 2011 study Craft and her colleagues demonstrated improved memory and cognition among individuals with AD or amnestic mild cognitive impairment (MCI) after IN insulin treatment. In this trial, insulin therapy was also associated with reduced loss of glucose uptake and utilization in brain areas linked to disease.
Funded by the new NIH resources, Craft, along with the Alzheimer’s Disease Cooperative Study, a national research consortium, is now planning phase II and III clinical trials to evaluate the safety and efficacy of the medication. Quaintly titled “SNIFF,” or Study of Nasal Insulin to Fight Forgetfulness, Craft’s investigation will examine the cognitive effects of IN insulin versus placebo in 240 participants with either AD or MCI. In addition to tests of memory, researchers will measure biological correlates of disease such as neural atrophy and cerebrospinal fluid biomarkers.
If the trials go well IN insulin could be available to patients are early as 2017—perhaps sooner if a pharmaceutical company jumps on board to expedite the process. Frey is excited about this prospect, but cautious not to oversell the drug. “I'm not claiming that intranasal insulin is going to solve the entire problem of the disease or that it's going to cure everyone who has the disease or help everybody or anything,” he clarifies. “I'm only saying, let's not be stupid. Let’s stop just looking at one thing. Here’s something that seems to help. Let's develop this and see what good [it] can do for people.”
Re: Stuff & Nonsense
« Reply #9004 on: Aug 22nd, 2013, 09:24am »
German IT specialist gets three years jail for Swiss data theft
Bellinzona, Switzerland Thu Aug 22, 2013 8:04am EDT
(Reuters) - A Swiss court sentenced a computer specialist to three years in jail on Thursday for selling client data from Swiss bank Julius Baer to German tax authorities, after the man agreed a plea bargaining deal with prosecutors.
The 54-year-old German-born man appearing before the Swiss criminal court in a striped polo shirt and jeans, said that he had intended to use the bulk of a 1.1 million euro ($1.47 million) reward to pay off taxes he owed in Germany.
(Reporting by Oliver Hirt; Additional reporting by Albert Schmieder; Writing by Katharina Bart; Editing by Louise Ireland)
Re: Stuff & Nonsense
« Reply #9006 on: Aug 22nd, 2013, 09:32am »
David Miranda wins partial court victory over data seized by police
• Court restricts authorities 'inspecting, copying or sharing' data • Met launches criminal inquiry after analysing data
by Robert Booth Thursday 22 August 2013 09.02 EDT
David Miranda has been granted a limited injunction at the high court to stop the government and police "inspecting, copying or sharing" data seized from him during his detention at Heathrow airport – but examination by the police for national security purposes is allowed.
Miranda had taken the government to court to try and get the data returned, but judges ruled that the police would be able to make limited use of what had been taken during his nine-hour detention on Sunday. He is the partner of Glenn Greenwald, the Guardian reporter who has exposed mass digital surveillance by US and UK spy agencies.
The court ruled the authorities must not inspect the data nor distribute it domestically or to any foreign government or agency unless it is for the purpose of ensuring the protection national security or for investigating whether Miranda is himself involved in the commission, instigation or preparation of an act of terrorism.
But the ruling also meant that data cannot be used for the purposes of criminal investigation – although the court had previously heard that the Met had launched a criminal investigation after analysing the seized data.
Detectives have been trawling through the documents that they say Miranda was carrying as he changed planes in London on his way back to Rio de Janeiro, where he lives with Greenwald..
Jonathan Laidlaw QC, appearing for the Metropolitan police, said the data contains "highly sensitive material the disclosure of which would be gravely injurious to public safety". There were "tens of thousands" of pages of digital material, he added.
Laidlaw said the investigation was being carried out by officers from SO15, charged with investigating terrorism and matters involving national security, but declined to give further details. "I am not prepared to alert defendants here or abroad about the criminal investigation that has begun."
He said police were only part way through their investigation of the material so for the court to prevent them from continuing "would be dreadful situation to confront the police [with], bearing in mind the results of the part of the assessment it has been possible thus far to undertake".
The court earlier heard from Steven Kovats QC, counsel for the home secretary, Theresa May, that the data included tens of thousands of classified UK intelligence documents, "disclosure of which would risk lives". He added that May "does not accept that we are concerned here with journalistic material" and believes Miranda "is not a journalist, and stolen documents can't be held in confidence and don't qualify as journalistic materials".
When Miranda was detained he had just visited Laura Poitras, a film-maker who had been involved in breaking the revelations by fugitive US whistleblower and former intelligence agency contractor Edward Snowden.
He was flying back to Rio at the Guardian's expense when police stopped him in Heathrow's transit area and took his laptop, phone, two memory sticks, two DVDs, a Sony games console, smart watch and a hard drive.
Miranda's lawyers told the court in a written submission that police threatened him with imprisonment if he did not answer their questions and, finding the experience "frightening, stressful and intimidating".
He was compelled to provide passwords for the devices. His lawyers said he only had a lawyer for the last hour of his detention and was not allowed a pen to write down the officers questions or a translator even though English was not his first language.
The lawyers argued the move was a misuse of statutory power because the act quoted to Miranda may only be used to determine whether a person appears to be someone who "is or has been concerned in the commission, preparation or instigation of acts of terrorism".
Re: Stuff & Nonsense
« Reply #9007 on: Aug 22nd, 2013, 09:35am »
Human Brains Are Hardwired for Empathy, Friendship
Aug. 22, 2013 — Perhaps one of the most defining features of humanity is our capacity for empathy -- the ability to put ourselves in others' shoes. A new University of Virginia study strongly suggests that we are hardwired to empathize because we closely associate people who are close to us -- friends, spouses, lovers -- with our very selves.
"With familiarity, other people become part of ourselves," said James Coan, a psychology professor in U.Va.'s College of Arts & Sciences who used functional magnetic resonance imaging brain scans to find that people closely correlate people to whom they are attached to themselves. The study appears in the August issue of the journal Social Cognitive and Affective Neuroscience.
"Our self comes to include the people we feel close to," Coan said.
In other words, our self-identity is largely based on whom we know and empathize with. Coan and his U.Va. colleagues conducted the study with 22 young adult participants who underwent fMRI scans of their brains during experiments to monitor brain activity while under threat of receiving mild electrical shocks to themselves or to a friend or stranger. The researchers found, as they expected, that regions of the brain responsible for threat response -- the anterior insula, putamen and supramarginal gyrus -- became active under threat of shock to the self. In the case of threat of shock to a stranger, the brain in those regions displayed little activity. However when the threat of shock was to a friend, the brain activity of the participant became essentially identical to the activity displayed under threat to the self.
"The correlation between self and friend was remarkably similar," Coan said. "The finding shows the brain's remarkable capacity to model self to others; that people close to us become a part of ourselves, and that is not just metaphor or poetry, it's very real. Literally we are under threat when a friend is under threat. But not so when a stranger is under threat."
Coan said this likely is because humans need to have friends and allies who they can side with and see as being the same as themselves. And as people spend more time together, they become more similar.
"It's essentially a breakdown of self and other; our self comes to include the people we become close to," Coan said. "If a friend is under threat, it becomes the same as if we ourselves are under threat. We can understand the pain or difficulty they may be going through in the same way we understand our own pain."
This likely is the source of empathy, and part of the evolutionary process, Coan reasons. "A threat to ourselves is a threat to our resources," he said. "Threats can take things away from us. But when we develop friendships, people we can trust and rely on who in essence become we, then our resources are expanded, we gain. Your goal becomes my goal. It's a part of our survivability."
People need friends, Coan added, like "one hand needs another to clap."
Re: Stuff & Nonsense
« Reply #9008 on: Aug 23rd, 2013, 10:55am »
News Summary: 'Hyperloop' gains fans
By The Associated Press Aug. 23 11:46 AM EDT
HYPED: Within days of billionaire entrepreneur Elon Musk's request for ideas to improve his proposed "Hyperloop" transportation system, a flood of submissions, from tinkerers to engineers, has arrived.
HIGHWAY WONDERFUL: The Hyperloop would shoot capsules full of people at the speed of sound through elevated tubes connecting Los Angeles and San Francisco.
BANDWAGON: A Utah firm hustled out a model using a 3-D printer. A Pennsylvania company is testing a virtual Hyperloop with sophisticated computer software. People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals wants ad space inside capsules, and in San Francisco, enthusiasts interested in "making Hyperloop a reality" will meet over beers.
Re: Stuff & Nonsense
« Reply #9009 on: Aug 23rd, 2013, 10:58am »
NSA paid millions to cover Prism compliance costs for tech companies
• Top-secret files show first evidence of financial relationship • Prism companies include Google and Yahoo, says NSA • Costs were incurred after 2011 Fisa court ruling
by Ewen MacAskill in New York 23 August 2013
The National Security Agency paid millions of dollars to cover the costs of major internet companies involved in the Prism surveillance program after a court ruled that some of the agency's activities were unconstitutional, according to top-secret material passed to the Guardian.
The technology companies, which the NSA says includes Google, Yahoo, Microsoft and Facebook, incurred the costs to meet new certification demands in the wake of the ruling from the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance (Fisa) court.
The October 2011 judgment, which was declassified on Wednesday by the Obama administration, found that the NSA's inability to separate purely domestic communications from foreign traffic violated the fourth amendment.
While the ruling did not concern the Prism program directly, documents passed to the Guardian by whistleblower Edward Snowden describe the problems the decision created for the agency and the efforts required to bring operations into compliance. The material provides the first evidence of a financial relationship between the tech companies and the NSA.
The intelligence agency requires the Fisa court to sign annual "certifications" that provide the legal framework for surveillance operations. But in the wake of the court judgment these were only being renewed on a temporary basis while the agency worked on a solution to the processes that had been ruled illegal.
An NSA newsletter entry, marked top secret and dated December 2012, discloses the huge costs this entailed. "Last year's problems resulted in multiple extensions to the certifications' expiration dates which cost millions of dollars for Prism providers to implement each successive extension – costs covered by Special Source Operations," it says.
Re: Stuff & Nonsense
« Reply #9010 on: Aug 23rd, 2013, 11:03am »
International Business Times
UFO Spotted Near India's Taj Mahal Triggers Confusion and Controversy [VIDEO]
By Reissa Su August 23, 2013 4:30 PM EST
UFO was allegedly spotted by the Indian army near Taj Mahal. A video posted online appeared to show an unidentified flying object close to India's popular white marbled monument, Taj Mahal. A misleading news headline has led to confusing reports of the UFO sighting.
One of the first headlines about the story read "Rumour: UFO Over Taj Mahal Seen by Indian Army." This apparently is false since the Indian army did not see a UFO anywhere near Taj Mahal.
A report from The Inquisitr said it was true that the Indian army has reported UFO sightings but they were nowhere near the Taj Mahal. The UFO sightings claimed by the Indian army were part of a continuous wave of UFOs supposedly seen by the Indo-Tibetan Border Police Force and army troops near the India-China border.
UFO enthusiasts have watched the video of the UFO sighting in Taj Mahal. There seems to be no connection between the UFO reports near the India-China border and the UFO sighting close to Taj Mahal.
One news agency suggested that the UFO in question in the Taj Mahal video looked like an insect or bug stuck on the camera screen.
Jason McClellan from Open Minds said after watching the video again that it wasn't a bug since the object near Taj Mahal was not moving as the camera pans out. It remained fixed and unmoving. If it were a bug, the object would have moved along with the camera.
Another thing that sparked the controversy over the UFO sighting near Taj Mahal video is that there seems to be no information about the identity of the one who posted the Youtube video. The video appeared to be part of UFOPrimeTube's collection of UFO videos.
Most UFO sightings posted on YouTube have accompanying descriptions and a background story. In the case of the UFO sighting in Taj Mahal video, only a list of tag phrases appeared with no description.
Comments under the video suggest the UFO sighting in Taj Mahal was fake that even UFO enthusiasts don't believe the object seen near India's monument is actually a UFO.
Re: Stuff & Nonsense
« Reply #9011 on: Aug 23rd, 2013, 11:07am »
Russia calls on Syria, rebels to allow probe of alleged attack
By Loveday Morris and Philip Rucker Updated: Friday, August 23, 6:10 AM
BEIRUT — Russia’s Foreign Ministry called Friday on the Syrian government and on opposition leaders to allow U.N. inspectors to investigate a suspected chemical attack. Meanwhile, President Obama said such an attack could threaten the “core national interests” of the United States.
The public statement by Russia, Syria’s most stalwart ally, could add considerable weight to international calls to determine exactly what happened in the Damascus suburbs this week to cause the death of scores — perhaps hundreds — of civilians.
The government of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad has strenuously denied launching a chemical attack. But opposition forces who have waged a bloody civil conflict against the government for 2 1/2 years say they believe Syrian forces used fatal poison gas on civilians, including women and children.
U.N. Secretary General Ban Ki-moon sent his top disarmament official to Damascus on Thursday to secure permission for international weapons investigators already in the country to examine the alleged site and interview witnesses.
“I can think of no good reason why any party, either government or opposition forces, would decline this opportunity to get to the truth of the matter,” Ban told a diplomatic forum in Seoul on Friday, according to comments carried by Reuters news agency.
But activists inside Syria say they hold out little hope that the U.N. team — which arrived in Syria after months of negotiates, to investigate earlier, smaller attacks — will be allowed into the eastern suburbs of Damascus where the more recent attack allegedly took place.
As a result, activists said, they are working to smuggle skin, hair and blood samples to inspectors in an effort to prove their claims.
On Wednesday, an effort by members of the U.N. Security Council to demand an investigation was stymied, in part, by Russian resistance. But Russia’s Foreign Ministry said Friday that Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov and U.S. Secretary of State John F. Kerry spoke by phone Thursday and agreed that it is a matter of “general interest” to conduct an impartial investigation into the allegations.
“Immediately upon receipt of relevant information, the Russian side called on the government of Syria to cooperate with the U.N. chemical experts,” the Foreign Ministry statement said. “The task now for the opposition is to provide secure access to the proposed site of the incident.”
The statement also said Russia is seeking “constructive progress from the opposition in regard to the early convening of an international conference on the political settlement of the Syrian crisis.”
In an interview that aired Friday morning on CNN, Obama called the reports of an attack “very troublesome” and said he faces an abbreviated timetable to decide how to respond. Gruesome photos, videos and witness accounts that have circulated so far, Obama said, indicate that “this is clearly a big event of grave concern.”
Obama said the use of chemical weapons “starts getting to some core national interests that the United States has, both in terms of us making sure that weapons of mass destruction are not proliferating, as well as needing to protect our allies, our bases in the region. . . . This is something that is going to require America’s attention.”
Asked about the possibility of U.S. intervention, however, Obama told CNN anchor Chris Cuomo that he had to weigh carefully what he thinks is in the best short- and long-term interests of the United States.
“We remain the one indispensable nation,” said Obama, who was interviewed in the midst of his college campus bus tour in New York and Pennsylvania. “There’s a reason why, when you listen to what’s happened around Egypt and Syria, that everybody asks what the U.S. is doing. It’s because the United States continues to be the one country that people expect can do more than just simply protect [its] borders.”
At the same time, Obama said,“that does not mean that we have to get involved with everything immediately,” despite calls for action from opposition groups and some U.S. lawmakers.
“We have to think through strategically what’s going to be in our long-term national interests, even as we work cooperatively internationally to do everything we can to put pressure on those who would kill innocent civilians,” Obama said.
“Jumping into stuff that does not turn out well,” the president added, “gets us mired in very difficult situations, [and] can result in us being drawn into very expensive, difficult, costly interventions that actually breed more resentment in the region.”
Alexia Jade, an activist with the opposition group Damascus Media who uses a pseudonym, said human blood, hair and skin samples had been collected from victims of the alleged attack, in addition to samples from dead animals.
She described the task of getting the samples to the U.N. team as a “very complicated mission,” saying the weapons inspectors were surrounded by government minders.
Rucker reported from New Milford, Pa. Will Englund contributed to this report from Moscow.
Re: Stuff & Nonsense
« Reply #9012 on: Aug 23rd, 2013, 11:10am »
Tepco testing tainted earth at No. 1 plant
Utility begins digging ground to assess extent of contamination
JIJI, Kyodo, AFP-JIJI Aug 23, 2013
FUKUSHIMA – Tokyo Electric Power Co. on Friday started digging up soil tainted with highly radioactive water discharged from a storage tank at its Fukushima No. 1 nuclear plant to test its radiation levels.
The utility will dig areas measuring 12 sq. meters in total to a depth of 40 to 50 cm where pools of leaked radioactive water formed, and then measure levels to determine how far the contamination has spread and how much soil needs to be removed.
Some 300 tons of highly radioactive water recently spewed into the Pacific from one of 26 tanks built in an area just 500 meters from the plant’s seawall. The tanks are surrounded by dikes, but some 120 liters of the water leaked outside of them, making it necessary to collect soil to prevent the contamination from spreading.
Meanwhile, a 15-member team from the Nuclear Regulation Authority visited the Fukushima No. 1 complex Friday to check the storage tank from which the 300 tons of water is thought to have escaped.
The tank may not be the only source of leaked water, as Tepco said Thursday that it had detected high radiation levels around the bottom of two more tanks of the same design, an indicator that water may have leaked from those containers as well.
The nuclear watchdog’s team began the inspection Friday morning, an NRA official said.
Tepco has said puddles of water near the leaking tank were so toxic that anyone exposed to them would receive the same amount of radiation in an hour that a nuclear plant worker in Japan is allowed to receive in five years — 100 millisieverts.
Groundwater that mixed with the tainted water has already flowed to the ocean, and Tepco said Friday it has launched an operation to pump it out of 28 wells.
Meanwhile, a memorial service for Masao Yoshida, who headed the complex when the crisis started in 2011, was held in Tokyo the same day. Yoshida, who stepped down as plant chief in December 2011, died of esophageal cancer July 9.
The memorial service was organized by Tepco, and its president, Naomi Hirose, praised Yoshida for “devoting his full strength” to the kind of emergency no one had ever previously experienced in Japan. Naoto Kan, prime minister when the crisis started, said after the event that “it is because of Yoshida that the situation did not further deteriorate.”
Tepco said Yoshida’s radiation dose after the accident was 70 millisieverts, less than the 100-millisievert five-year limit for nuclear workers, and that it believes there was little causal relationship between his radiation exposure and the cancer.