Re: Stuff & Nonsense
« Reply #9270 on: Oct 14th, 2013, 09:33am »
NSA veterans: The White House is hanging us out to dry
By Shane Harris, Foreign Policy 11:20 p.m. CDT, October 13, 2013
WASHINGTON — Gen. Keith Alexander and his senior leadership team at the National Security Agency (NSA) are angry and dispirited by what they see as the White House's failure to defend the spy agency against criticism of its surveillance programs, according to four people familiar with the NSA chiefs' thinking. The top brass of the country's biggest spy agency feels they've been left twisting in the wind, abandoned by the White House and left largely to defend themselves in public and in Congress against allegations of unconstitutional spying on Americans.
"There has been no support for the agency from the President or his staff or senior administration officials, and this has not gone unnoticed by both senior officials and the rank and file at the Fort," said Joel Brenner, the NSA's one-time inspector general, referring to the agency's headquarters at Fort Meade, Md.
The weak backing from top administration officials has aggravated the relationship between Alexander and the White House, where he has never been warmly embraced. The NSA now finds itself without the strong, visible support of the President at a time of extraordinary political vulnerability, with the agency's secrets laid bare and its future in doubt.
The Obama administration has long relied on America's intelligence agencies to carry out its most important foreign policy objectives, from killing Osama bin Laden to undermining Bashar Assad. The White House's embrace of the dark world of spycraft has been near-absolute. A rift between America's intelligence and political leaders could be more than fodder for Beltway cocktail parties. If left unchecked, it could start to erode the trusted relationships that have been at the heart of how the U.S. government handles global threats since 9/11.
Obama has only made one set of substantial remarks about the NSA's collection of Americans phone records and monitoring of Internet and email data, during a news conference in August. He did not distance himself from the programs, but he has not made a point of reminding the American people or lawmakers that he thinks they are vital. Neither the president's national security adviser, Susan Rice, nor his top counterterrorism adviser, Lisa Monaco, have given any public remarks arguing that the NSA programs are legal and necessary. And no Cabinet official has mounted a concerted effort to back the agency in public.
Former intelligence officials who remain in regular contact with those still in government say that morale at the NSA is low, both because of the reaction to leaks by former contractor Edward Snowden, which put the normally secretive agency under intense scrutiny, and because of budget cutbacks and the continuing government shutdown, which has left some employees furloughed without pay.
Brenner, who also served as the government's director of counterintelligence, said that Obama could have lifted morale had he gone to Fort Meade and made a speech vigorously defending the NSA's work. "A president who had real feeling for the intelligence business and the people laboring in that vineyard would have paid them a visit," Brenner said.
Instead, said former senior CIA official Mark Lowenthal, "They are hurting."
Stewart Baker, the NSA's former general counsel, said he had not discussed the administration's response to the NSA scandal with officials in government, but that it was the "general perception" that it had been weak.
"The President is uncomfortable defending this. Maybe he spends too much time reading blogs on the left," Baker said. "That's fatal in cases like this. You have to make the case because nobody else will."
Laura Lucas Magnuson, a White House spokesperson, said that Obama had praised the work of the agency in his remarks in August and "believes the men and women of our intelligence community, including NSA, work every day to keep us safe because they love our country. He continues to have great confidence in them, and believes they carry out their work with a sense of professionalism and patriotism."
An NSA spokesperson downplayed any rift between the agency and the administration. "National security is a team sport. For us, collaboration is built into the very fabric of who we are," said Vanee Vines. "There is no truth to rumors of dissension between NSA and the administration regarding the Agency's mission to help defend the nation and save lives. Together, we all prevail."
But Alexander may have publicly hinted at his displeasure with the administration last month, when he and Chris Inglis, the NSA's deputy director, sent a two-page letter to the family members of NSA employees and contractors. In it, Alexander and Inglis quote from a blog post by Benjamin Wittes, the editor-in-chief of Lawfare and a frequent defender of some of the NSA's programs. The quote reads, in part: "Shameful as it is that these documents were leaked, they actually should give the public great confidence both in NSA's internal oversight mechanisms and in the executive and judicial oversight mechanisms outside the agency. They show no evidence of any intentional spying on Americans or abuse of civil liberties."
What the letter did not say is that Wittes' blog post was also a harsh critique of the White House's failure to defend the NSA programs in a "full-throated and serious way." The passage cited in the letter was actually Wittes's suggestion of what an administration "with the imagination to try to change the narrative" could have said to the NSA's detractors.
After quoting the passage, Alexander and Inglis wrote, "We couldn't agree more."
Jack Goldsmith, the one-time head of the Justice Department's Office of Legal Counsel, wrote on Lawfare that "it is unclear if they are agreeing with the substance of [Wittes'] defense of NSA or with his criticism of the administration's very tepid defense of NSA, or both. But whichever it is, the letter shows that leaders of the NSA are aware that the [U.S. government] has done a truly awful job of responding to the often-misleading public characterizations of both the documents Snowden leaked and the ones disclosed by the NSA itself."
The White House's response to the NSA leaks is not in keeping with its defense of other intelligence controversies. Last year, John Brennan, then the White House counterterrorism chief, gave a major public address justifying the use of drones to kill suspected terrorists. Former intelligence officials called for a similar speech on NSA surveillance now. (Brennan became the CIA director in March.)
"I think actually this is the first signal that John Brennan is gone," said Baker, the former NSA general counsel. "I think that if Brennan had still been there he would have immediately appreciated the importance, and communicated that to the president, of defending the program."
Alexander has never been especially close to Obama or White House officials. Some thought he had tried to amass too much surveillance authority without appreciating the legal constraints on his agency, according to a former administration official. "I don't understand why the White House didn't throw Alexander under the bus," the official added.
The public response to the fallout from Snowden's leaks has been managed by the Office of the Director of National Intelligence, which oversees all the government's intelligence agencies. In August, the office released thousands of pages of classified documents that it said showed the NSA operating within its authorities and abiding by the law. Originally, officials had planned to release a much smaller set of data, but the DNI's general counsel, Robert Litt, intervened and pushed for a much bigger release, according to two sources familiar with the declassification process.
Litt has been one of the leading defenders of the agency, along with Alexander and Director of National Intelligence James Clapper. Referring to the Snowden leaks, Clapper told Foreign Policy in a statement, "This situation is unprecedented. The release of these documents represents one of the most egregious violations of trust I've seen in more than 50 years in Intelligence. Since the NSA documents were disclosed, the President and his staff have worked closely with my staff and NSA to manage this very challenging set of circumstances. I greatly appreciate the president's unwavering support of the men and women at the NSA and across the entire Intelligence Community."
Former officials may be calling for a more visible sign of that support from Obama. But it's not clear the president or a Cabinet official would persuade skeptical lawmakers and citizens that the NSA's programs should remain intact. Polls have shown a majority of Americans believe the government hasn't told them the full story about what the NSA does with people's communications records. And while legislative attempts to scale back NSA surveillance have failed so far, Congress is considering other bills that could change the way that NSA spies.
"Would the president's intervention be enough to call off Patrick Leahy and Ron Wyden? I don't think so," said Lowenthal, referring to two of the NSA's biggest antagonists in the Senate. "The president doesn't have a lot of clout on the Hill right now, in either party."
Harris is a senior writer for Foreign Policy and author of "The Watchers: The Rise of America's Surveillance State."
Re: Stuff & Nonsense
« Reply #9272 on: Oct 14th, 2013, 09:59am »
Intel Sees a Future Where We Will Form “Relationships” with Our Gadgets
Company cultural anthropologist Genevieve Bell tells us to get ready to take our fondness for smartphones, tablets and other devices to the next level
By Larry Greenemeier
Rugged individualists aside, many people find themselves increasingly connected not just to one another but also to the devices that make those connections possible. It’s clear that dependence on smartphones, tablets and other gadgets will only strengthen as broadband access, wireless connectivity and content grow. Less obvious is the impact this human–machine bond will have on our lives.
Cultural anthropologist Genevieve Bell leads a group at Intel Labs—Interaction and Experience Research—that aims to understand what people want from their technology and what might happen if they get it. The group also studies how people use technology, what motivates this use and what frustrates them, all in an effort to design microprocessors that help meet those demands.
A second-generation anthropologist, Bell grew up at her mother’s field sites in central and northern Australia in the 1970s and ‘80s. Scientific American recently spoke with Bell—who joined Intel in 1998 as one of the company’s first social scientists—about her role there, our evolving attachment to our gadgets and making “magic” from silicon and circuits.
[An edited transcript of the interview follows.]
What is a cultural anthropologist doing at the world’s largest chipmaker?
Anthropology is a classically well-designed discipline for making sense of what people want. To make those insights about what people care about legible and intelligible to an engineering-oriented organization, you have to do a bit of translation.
How do you translate ideas from the social sciences to the technology world?
You have to say, here are the things we have seen in the field, and here are some consequences of those insights. Then you present ways to turn those ideas into prototypes. Some of those ideas are smoke and mirrors, some are sketch-board prototypes and some are fully fledged working things that make you ask: What would it take to actually [manufacture] this?
What happens to the smoke-and-mirror ideas?
With those, we realize that if we want to create a product out of an idea, we’re going to have to invent new technology to make that possible or hack the hell out of something else to get us close. Sometimes our scientists start by going, there’s this piece of technology and everyone’s using it for this thing, but if we do this other thing with it, oh my God, it would be totally cool. You come at a technology from different angles.
Customization has come a long way, with services such as Amazon and Netflix trying to anticipate our needs and make recommendations based on our behavior on those sites. How will our interactions with technology change as it becomes more personalized?
At the moment those recommendation algorithms sit in a number of different places in our lives, and there’s a little bit of bleed in between them. But we are getting to a point where recommendations won’t just come from services [like Amazon and Netflix]. They’ll come from our devices as well. Google+ and [Apple’s] Siri have learning algorithms that respond to your voice. Now imagine a world where our devices know our bodies. Apple’s new iPhone fingerprint sensor is a lovely example of that. Devices start by recognizing your thumb or your voice; then they could learn to recognize your friends’ voices, recognize the way you walk. Imagine if those devices put that information together with information about your location and the appointments on your calendar. That device gets to know you as a human being.
Why is it important that your devices get to know the real you?
This is about moving from human–computer interactions to human–computer relationships. The moment this really crystalized for me, and it’s a silly thing really, was when I saw a YouTube video of a Furby talking to Siri. And it was  seconds of splendor where the little Furby waves its ears and [bats] its little eyelashes and [makes noises]. [Editor’s note: To Furby’s nonsensical sounds, Siri responds, “I don’t see ‘Killher’ in your address book, should I look for businesses by that name?” Later in the video, Siri announces it is searching for Shell.com in response to more Furby gibberish.]
I was utterly mesmerized by the video for a really long time, and I couldn’t work out why. Then I realized it was a genealogy of talking things, a classic kinship diagram—a granddaddy thing talking to grandbaby thing. It was a thing that talked to a thing that listened. Siri promises to listen to you. There’s a notion of reciprocity with Siri. Once things listen, there is an implicit transformation that is no longer you telling something what to do, there is relationship building.
Re: Stuff & Nonsense
« Reply #9273 on: Oct 15th, 2013, 08:20am »
Laboratory of Violence: Egypt Struggles for Control of Sinai
By Ralf Hoppe, Samiha Shafy and Daniel Steinvorth October 15, 2013
On the day of his departure, warehouse manager Hussein Gilbana packed his five best shirts and pairs of pants into a black suitcase, together with books and photos. He embraced his wife and kissed his five-year-old son, Omar, and his little boy, Assar.
He told the children that he would return soon, and that he would come to get to get them and take them to a new home as soon as possible. Then he got into his old Fiat and drove away. He was leaving his home in al-Arish, on the Sinai Peninsula, which he had grown to hate.
Gilbana and his wife had recently taken to calling their city "signa," or "prison." Al-Arish, a city on the northern coast of Sinai, had been sealed off militarily.
Gilbana and his wife had looked on as outsiders invaded al-Arish: petty criminals, Islamists and former felons. They had seen how these people tried to take over the city, and how the Egyptian government had responded with brute violence. They had become familiar with two types of murderers, says Gilbana, "murderers with long beards and murderers in polished military boots."
Gilbana, 32, is a slim and energetic man. He's a Sinai native, and a member of a Bedouin tribe called the Aulad-Suleiman. Life in al-Arish wasn't bad. He worked as a warehouse manager in a cement factory and made a good living. But then his city turned into a war zone, says Gilbana.
The entire country has descended into violence since the military coup in July, but nowhere in Egypt is the fight being waged as bitterly and violently as on the Sinai Peninsula, which is roughly the size of the Republic of Ireland.
Growing Hotbed of Terrorism
The Sinai is a laboratory of violence, a test zone. This is where the military must prove it can establish law and order, now that it has eliminated the democratically elected Islamist government of former President Mohammed Morsi. The generals must demonstrate they can save the country -- and soon, or else the majority of Egyptians will lose the last vestige of confidence in the military, and so will Egypt's allies.
But the prospects are not good, as several incidents last week demonstrated. On Monday, a car bomb exploded in front of the police headquarters building in the center of el-Tor, the capital of the South Sinai Governorate. Egyptian media reported that shrapnel ripped open the front of the building across four floors. Four police officers were killed and 48 people were injured.
On the same day, gunmen attacked an army patrol in Sinai, near the Suez Canal. Thursday, only three days later, a suicide bomber drove his car into a checkpoint outside al-Arish, killing three soldiers and a police officer. Earlier, six people were killed in an attack on Egyptian intelligence headquarters in Rafah.
Last month in Cairo, Interior Minister Mohamed Ibrahim narrowly escaped being killed by a car bomb. The attack was most likely the work of the Islamist militant group Ansar Bayt al-Maqdis, which is present everywhere in Egypt but has its headquarters on the Sinai Peninsula.
Sinai, an upside-down triangle, has a harsh and unwelcoming desert in its interior but one of the most beautiful coastlines in the Middle East. It is bordered by the Gulf of Suez to the west, the Gulf of Aqaba to the east and the Mediterranean to the north. Saint Catherine's, one of the oldest Christian monasteries in the world, near where Moses is said to have received the Ten Commandments from God, is in Sinai.
Sinai has been a Bedouin region for thousands of years. The Bedouins are a tough race. Though nominally Egyptian, their loyalty was to the tribe and not an abstract state that did little to nothing for them. Poor as they were, the Sinai Bedouins lived a free life. That is, until the tourists arrived.
Tourists Scared Off By Violence
In the mid-1990s, British, French and German tourists discovered southern Sinai. It was a paradise for beachgoers and amateur divers, with clear water and luminous coral reefs, just a few hours by plane from rainy Frankfurt. In Sharm el-Sheikh alone, the number of tourists skyrocketed from 60,000 in 1990 to 1.7 million in 2000. Hundreds of hotels were built, especially in the south. Meanwhile, there were looming developments in the north that had little to do with coral and culture.
The year 2010 was celebrated as a record year. Then the revolution overthrew the brutal but stable government, and Sinai became a virtually lawless zone.
The tourists stayed away, and smugglers, human and drug traffickers and jihadists took over. Since this summer and the removal of President Morsi from power, the army, the police and special forces have been trying to regain control over the peninsula.
In September, the government declared the situation was stable in southern Sinai. Lobbyists for Egyptian tourism urged European officials to lift their travel warnings for the Red Sea beach resorts. Then came last week's series of attacks in the north, dashing any hopes that the situation would improve in the foreseeable future.
Bringing peace to Sinai seems impossible at the moment, as Colonel Ahmed Mohammed Ali knows all too well. The officer is sitting in a palace in Cairo, in a conference room filled with velvet, crystal and brocade, wearing combat fatigues and shiny boots and drinking a glass of red juice. Colonel Ali is a member of the staff of the head of the Egyptian military, General Abdel-Fattah el-Sisi.
Jihadists have been coming to the peninsula since 2005, Ali says. Some come from Sudan, while others arrive through the smugglers' tunnels connecting Sinai with the Gaza Strip. They have found shelter primarily in three cities: Sheikh Zuwaid, Rafah and al-Arish, the city from which warehouse manager Gilbana fled.
According to Ali, the groups have their hideouts in these three cities and about 15 surrounding villages in northern Sinai, which is now their base of operations. There are nine groups, consisting of about 1,200 combatants, along with about 7,000 to 10,000 helpers. It is very difficult to get information from the population, says Ali, because people are scared.
Re: Stuff & Nonsense
« Reply #9274 on: Oct 15th, 2013, 08:26am »
Four LAX dry ice bombs: 'No nexus' to terrorism, police say
By Robert J. Lopez and Joel Rubin October 15, 2013, 5:46 a.m.
Los Angeles police officials say there appears to be “no nexus” between terrorism and four dry ice bombs recently found at Los Angeles International Airport -- two of which exploded.
No one was injured in the explosions that occurred Sunday and Monday night inside secure areas of LAX that are accessible only to employees.
The latest explosion occurred about 8:30 p.m. Monday near the gate area of the Tom Bradley International Terminal, law enforcement authorities said.
Two similar devices were found in the vicinity. All three were bottles with dry ice inside, according to LAX police.
The devices appeared to be outside the terminal near planes, according to television images.
On Sunday, a dry ice bomb exploded about 7 p.m. in a restroom at Terminal 2, which is home to several international and domestic airlines. The area is also off limits to the public, police officials said.
"Apparently there is no nexus to terrorism right now," LAPD Det. Gus Villanueva told The Times.
The FBI was assisting the LAPD in the investigation into how the devices were placed in restricted areas at LAX.
There was minimal disruption of airport activities on Monday night, but the explosion on Sunday suspended operations in Terminal 2, and flights were delayed until about 8:45 p.m. as the LAPD bomb squad responded. Police estimated that about four flights were affected.
Passenger Feliciano Jiron told KCBS-TV Monday before the second explosion that he was concerned a dry ice bomb could be set at the airport, given all of LAX's security measures.
"Given the times we live in, it’s a bit interesting that something like this would happen, even with all the security and all the efforts that people are putting forward,” he said as he and his family arrived to catch a flight to New Mexico.
Re: Stuff & Nonsense
« Reply #9275 on: Oct 15th, 2013, 08:28am »
Young Apes Manage Emotions Like Humans Do
Oct. 14, 2013 — Researchers studying young bonobos in an African sanctuary have discovered striking similarities between the emotional development of the bonobos and that of children, suggesting these great apes regulate their emotions in a human-like way. This is important to human evolutionary history because it shows the socio-emotional framework commonly applied to children works equally well for apes. Using this framework, researchers can test predictions of great ape behavior and, as in the case of this study, confirm humans and apes share many aspects of emotional functioning.
Zanna Clay, PhD, and Frans de Waal, PhD, of the Living Links Center at the Yerkes National Primate Research Center, Emory University, conducted the study at a bonobo sanctuary near Kinshasa, the capital of the Democratic Republic of the Congo. The results are published in the current issue of the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.
Detailed video analysis of daily social life at the sanctuary allowed Clay and de Waal to measure how bonobos handle their own emotions as well as how they react to the emotions of others. They found the two were related in that bonobos that recovered quickly and easily from their own emotional upheavals, such as after losing a fight, showed more empathy for their fellow great apes. Clay notes those bonobos more often gave body comfort (kissing, embracing, touching) to those in distress.
The bonobo (Pan paniscus), one of our closest primate relatives, is as genetically similar to humans as is the chimpanzee. The bonobo is widely considered the most empathic great ape, a conclusion brain research supports. "This makes the species an ideal candidate for psychological comparisons," says de Waal. "Any fundamental similarity between humans and bonobos probably traces back to their last common ancestor, which lived around six million years ago," he continues.
If the way bonobos handle their own emotions predicts how they react to those of others, this hints at emotion regulation, such as the ability to temper strong emotions and avoid over-arousal. In children, emotion regulation is crucial for healthy social development. Socially competent children keep the ups and downs of their emotions within bounds. A stable parent-child bond is essential for this, which is why human orphans typically have trouble managing their emotions.
The bonobo sanctuary in this study includes many victims of bushmeat hunting. Human substitute mothers care for the juvenile bonobos that were forcefully removed at an early age from their bonobo mothers. This care continues for years until the bonobos are transferred to a forested enclosure with bonobos of all ages. "Compared to peers reared by their own mothers, the orphans have difficulty managing emotional arousal," says Clay. She observed how the orphans would take a long time recovering from distress: "They would be very upset, screaming for minutes after a fight compared to mother-reared juveniles, who would snap out of it in seconds."
"Animal emotions have long been scientifically taboo," says de Waal, but he stresses how such studies that zoom in on emotions can provide valuable information about humans and our society. "By measuring the expression of distress and arousal in great apes, and how they cope, we were able to confirm that efficient emotion regulation is an essential part of empathy. Empathy allows great apes and humans to absorb the distress of others without getting overly distressed themselves," continues de Waal. He says this also explains why orphan bonobos, which have experienced trauma that hampers emotional development, are less socially competent than their mother-raised peers.
Re: Stuff & Nonsense
« Reply #9276 on: Oct 15th, 2013, 08:36am »
The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug Trailer 2013 - Official movie teaser in HD - starring Ian McKellen, Martin Freeman, Richard Armitage, Cate Blanchett, Orlando Bloom, Christopher Lee - directed by Peter Jackson - the Dwarves, Bilbo and Gandalf have successfully escaped the Misty Mountains, and Bilbo has gained the One Ring. They all continue their journey to get their gold back from the Dragon, Smaug.
"The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug" movie hits theaters on December 13, 2013.
The second in a trilogy of films adapting the enduringly popular masterpiece "The Hobbit," by J.R.R. Tolkien, "The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug" continues the adventure of the title character Bilbo Baggins (Martin Freeman) as he journeys with the Wizard Gandalf (Ian McKellen) and thirteen Dwarves, led by Thorin Oakenshield (Richard Armitage) on an epic quest to reclaim the lost Dwarf Kingdom of Erebor.
Re: Stuff & Nonsense
« Reply #9278 on: Oct 16th, 2013, 09:39am »
The Weirdest Things Recently Found on Mars
By Adam Mann 10.16.13 6:30 AM
What's up with the strange colors of these dunes? Mars isn't really blue and gold, it's just that this picture was taken in infrared wavelengths to better show the composition of the sand here. But these dunes, known as "barchans," would look striking in any light: they often form cool horns or notches on their steep leeward sides.
Mars is a crazy place. In recent years we’ve discovered some of the strangest things on the Red Planet: ice spiders, Swiss cheese terrain, and perfectly spiral-shaped lava tubes.
And the more we explore our near planetary neighbor, the weirder the things we find get. NASA’s Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter, which has been circling Mars since 2006, provides the clearest and highest-resolution images of the planet’s surface. Looking through the image archive of its HiRISE camera, which can resolve things about a meter wide on the ground, reveals a vast supply of strange and wonderful things.
Here we share some of the orbiter’s most recent weird sightings from the last few months. The images provide incredible scientific insights into Mars. But, perhaps just as important, they are beautiful, fascinating, and reflective of the alien world that sits not too far from our own.
Just a note on the colors in these images: HiRISE has cameras that see in slightly different wavelengths than our own eyes. Many of the photos it produces are in “false color,” meaning the different wavelengths have been assigned colors for purposes of clarity or to highlight an important feature. There are no actual turquoise dunes on Mars. But the false color pictures do allow scientists to differentiate various textures and materials on Mars.
Re: Stuff & Nonsense
« Reply #9279 on: Oct 16th, 2013, 09:43am »
International Business Times
UFO and Aliens: List of Alleged Alien Species and What They Want From Us
By Sigrid Salucop October 16, 2013 6:37 PM EST
UFO sightings lead to many questions -one of the most intriguing being - what do they want from us? The first stumbling block, according to ufologist Dr. Steven Greer of the Center for the Study of Extraterrestrial Intelligence, is getting past wondering if extraterrestrial life exists.
The Space Brothers
There are different types of Space Brothers - the Pleiadians, the Lyrans, and the Sirians.Based on "Close Encounters of the Fourth Kind: Alien Abduction, UFOs" and the Conference at M.I.T. Knopf in 1995, Space Brothers are human-like creatures who are "affectionate and all-knowing."
What They Want: Alleged contactees of mankind's Space Brothers such as George Adamski say that this particular alien species are protecting mankind from Reptilians and allegedly want humans to ascend to the dimension they have ascended to.
British writer David Icke describes Reptilians as "tall, blood-drinking, shape-shifting reptilian humanoids from the Alpha Draconis star system." Described by 1950s Pleiadian contactees as "evil", Reptilians are associated with abductions.
An article from the Los Angeles Times in the year 1934 may have been the origin of the Reptilian stories, according to Bryan Dunning of "Support Your Local Reptoid: What started the conspiracy theory that reptilian beings control our government?"
The 1934 article reported that subterranean labyrinths found beneath the city of Los Angeles by a geophysical mining engineer. The geophysical mining engineer who found it claimed that it was an underground city built by Reptilians to escape catastrophes on Earth that happened 5, 000 years ago.
What They Want: Based on David Icke's claims, the Reptilians allegedly want to take Earth back and are behind a conspiracy against mankind.
The Roswell Greys
In 1961, Barney and Betty Hill said that they were abducted by Grey aliens. The term Grey, at the time, was not yet in use but based on their descriptions of the 'aliens', they allegedly fall in the Grey category. Look Magazine published "Interrupted Journey" in 1966 detailing the American couple's account.
According to the Disclosure Project and based on the research of Dr. Steven Greer, Greys have been working with the U.S. government since the Roswell crash in 1947.
What They Want: Conspiracy theorists believe that Greys work for the Reptilians. Ufologists, on the other hand, say that they abduct humans to acquire genetic samples that can help them save their species from extinction.
On September 12, 1952, at 7:15 PM, brothers Edward and Fred May, 13 and 12 respectively, were near a farm with their friend Tommy Hyer, 10. The three reportedly saw a UFO.
A National Guardsman who heard the boys' story that night went to the farm to locate what the three boys saw. The West Virginia National Guardsman Gene Lemon and two other boys allegedly found a pulsating ball of fire near where the crash happened.
A being described as 10 feet tall and green was seen in Flatwoods, Braxton County, West Virginia before the alleged UFO crash, witnesses say. The sighting of the 'alien' was mentioned in "The Braxton County Monster: The Cover-Up of the Flatwoods Monster Revealed" by Frank Feschino.
What They Want: There is no data or testimony that mentions what these alien species want.
Re: Stuff & Nonsense
« Reply #9280 on: Oct 16th, 2013, 09:49am »
Plummeting morale at Fukushima Daiichi as nuclear cleanup takes its toll
Staff on the frontline of operation plagued by health problems and fearful about the future, insiders say
by Justin McCurry in Fukushima Tuesday 15 October 2013 11.15 EDT
Dressed in a hazardous materials suit, full-face mask and hard hat, Japan's prime minister, Shinzo Abe, left his audience in no doubt: "The future of Japan," he said, "rests on your shoulders. I am counting on you."
Abe's exhortation, delivered during a recent visit to the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant, was only heard by a small group of men inside the plant's emergency control room. But it was directed at almost 6,000 more: the technicians and engineers, truck drivers and builders who, almost three years after the plant suffered a triple meltdown, remain on the frontline of the world's most dangerous industrial cleanup.
Yet as the scale of the challenge has become clearer with every new accident and radiation leak, the men working inside the plant are suffering from plummeting morale, health problems and anxiety about the future, according to insiders interviewed by the Guardian.
Even now, at the start of a decommissioning operation that is expected to last 40 years, the plant faces a shortage of workers qualified to manage the dangerous work that lies ahead.
The hazards faced by the nearly 900 employees of Tokyo Electric Power [Tepco] and about 5,000 workers hired by a network of contractors and sub-contractors were underlined this month when six men were doused with contaminated water at a desalination facility.
The men, who were wearing protective clothing, suffered no ill health effects in the incident, according to Tepco, but their brush with danger was a sign that the cleanup is entering its most precarious stage since the meltdown in March 2011.
Commenting on the leak, the head of Japan's nuclear regulator, Shunichi Tanaka, told reporters: "Mistakes are often linked to morale. People usually don't make silly, careless mistakes when they're motivated and working in a positive environment. The lack of it, I think, may be related to the recent problems."
The radiation spill was the latest in a string of serious water and radiation leaks, which have raised fears over the workers' state of mind – and Tepco's ability to continue the cleanup alone.
According to sources with knowledge of the plant and health professionals who make regular visits, the slew of bad news is sapping morale and causing concern, as the public and international community increase pressure on Japan to show demonstrable progress in cleaning up the world's worst nuclear accident since Chernobyl.
"Very little has changed at Fukushima Daiichi in the past six months," said Jun Shigemura, a lecturer in the psychiatry department at the National Defence Medical College who heads of a team of psychologists that counsels Fukushima plant workers. "Tepco is doing its best to improve matters, but you can see that the situation is severe."
Shigemura is most concerned about the 70% of Tepco workers at Fukushima Daiichi who were also forced to evacuate their homes by the meltdown. They have yet to come to terms with that loss and many live away from their families in makeshift accommodation near the plant.
"They were traumatised by the tsunami and the reactor explosions and had no idea how much they had been irradiated," Shigemura said. "That was the acute effect but now they are suffering from the chronic effects, such as depression, loss of motivation and issues with alcohol."
Their anxiety is compounded by uncertainty over the future of their embattled employer. Tepco is coming under mounting pressure to resolve the worsening water crisis at Fukushima Daiichi, which recently prompted the government to step in with half a billion dollars (£312m) to help contain the build-up of toxic water.
Its ability to stem the water leaks by the time Tokyo hosts the Olympics in 2020 – as promised by Abe – could be hampered by a looming labour shortage.
As Tepco was reducing costs and attempting to calm public anger over its handling of the crisis, it imposed a 20% pay cut for all employees in 2011. From a total workforce of 37,000, 1,286 people left the firm, between April 2011 and June this year. The firm did not hire any employees in fiscal 2012 and 2013.
The utility plans to take on 331 employees next April, according to Mayumi Yoshida, a Tepco spokeswoman. "[The employment] system will change so it will be easier for talented employees to gain promotion and for unproductive employees to be demoted," she said.
But there is little the firm can do about the departure of experienced workers, forced to leave after reaching their radiation exposure limit.
Tepco documents show that between March 2011 and July this year, 138 employees reached the 100-millisievert [mSv] threshold; another 331 had been exposed to between 75 mSv and 100 mSv, meaning their days at the plant are numbered. Those nearing their dose limit have reportedly been moved to other sites, or asked to take time off, so they can return to work at Fukushima Daiichi at a later date.
Some workers have left because of exhaustion and stress, while others have decided to find work closer to their displaced wives and children.
"They are less motivated and are worried about continuing to work for a firm that might not exist in a decade from now," Shigemura said.
Workers who have stayed on do so in the knowledge that they risk damaging their health through prolonged exposure to radiation and in accidents of the kind that occurred this week.
Earlier this year, Tepco said that 1,973 workers, including those employed by contractors and subcontractors, had estimated thyroid radiation doses in excess of 100 mSv, the level at which many physicians agree the risk of developing cancer begins to rise.
"These workers may show a tiny increased risk of cancer over their lifetimes," said Gerry Thomas, professor of molecular pathology at Imperial College, London University. "One hundred millisieverts is the dose we use as a cut-off to say we can see a significant effect on the cancer rate in very large epidemiology studies. The numbers have to be large because the individual increase is minuscule."
But she added: "I would be far more worried about these workers smoking or feeling under stress due to the fear of what radiation might do to them. That is much more likely to have an effect on any person's health."
While Thomas and other experts have cautioned against reaching hasty conclusions about a possible rise in thyroid cancer among Fukushima Daiichi workers, there is little doubt that their punishing work schedule, performed under the international spotlight, is taking a toll on their health.
"I'm particularly worried about depression and alcoholism," said Takeshi Tanigawa, a professor in the department of public health at Ehime University in western Japan. "I've seen high levels of physical distress and symptoms of post-traumatic stress disorder."
Many of the casual labourers employed by subcontractors live in cheap accommodation in places such as Yumoto, a hot-spring resort south of the exclusion zone around the plant. The number of workers has declined in the past year amid complaints from hoteliers and inn-keepers about drink-fuelled fights. These days, more seem to prefer the bars and commercial sex establishments of nearby Onahama port.
A 42-year-old contract worker, who asked not be named, confirmed that alcohol abuse had become a problem among workers. "Lots of men I know drink heavily in the evening and come to work with the shakes the next day. I know of several who worked with hangovers during the summer and collapsed with heatstroke."
"There isn't much communication between workers. People want to look after number one. Newcomers are looked down on by their colleagues and some don't really know how to do their jobs."
Another worker, who spoke on condition of anonymity, said he had seen hungover colleagues collapse with heatstroke just minutes after beginning work.
In the long term, Tepco and its partner companies will struggle to find enough people with specialist knowledge to see decommissioning through to the end, according to Yukiteru Naka, a retired engineer with General Electric who helped build some of Fukushima Daiichi's reactors.
"There aren't enough trained people at Fukushima Daiichi even now," he said. "For Tepco, money is the top priority – nuclear technology and safety come second and third. That's why the accident happened. The management insists on keeping the company going. They think about shareholders, bank lenders and the government, but not the people of Fukushima."
Naka, who runs a firm in Iwaki, just south of Fukushima Daiichi, that provides technical assistance to Tepco, said the lack of expertise afflicts the utility and general contractors with a pivotal role in the cleanup.
"Most of their employees have no experience of working in conditions like these, and all the time their exposure to radiation is increasing," he said. "I suggested to Tepco that it bring in retired workers who said they were willing to help, but the management refused."
Faced with labour shortages and a string of accidents, Tepco has in recent weeks come under pressure to accept more specialist help from overseas. At the start of this month, Shinzo Abe, told an international science conference in Kyoto: "My country needs your knowledge and expertise."
Re: Stuff & Nonsense
« Reply #9281 on: Oct 16th, 2013, 09:54am »
LAX dry ice explosions: Airport employee arrested in case
By Richard Winton October 15, 2013, 10:27 p.m.
A Los Angeles International Airport employee has been arrested in connection with dry-ice bomb explosions, law enforcement sources told The Times.
The suspect was identified as 28-year-old Dicarlo Bennett, according to the sources.
Public records show that Bennett lived in South Los Angeles. He was arrested Tuesday in Paramount, the LAPD said.
A Facebook account registered to a Dicarlo Bennett said he studied at Santa Monica College and was a former ramp supervisor for Servisair, an airport contractor.
[Updated 10:34 p.m.: A law enforcement source confirmed that Bennett worked for Servisair.]
All three devices were found in areas off-limits to the public, leading LAPD Chief Charlie Beck and other officials to concentrate on airport workers -- particularly those with access to the tarmac.
"Whether you think this is a harmless prank or a way to disrupt operations at the airport, it won't matter," Beck said. "You will go to jail."
The first device -- a 20-ounce plastic bottle filled with dry ice -- was discovered about 7 p.m. Sunday after it exploded in an employee-only restroom at Terminal 2, authorities said. No injuries were reported, but operations in the terminal were suspended and some flights delayed as the LAPD bomb squad cleared the scene.
More than 24 hours later, the LAPD was again notified after an airport employee found a plastic bottle that was fizzing -- but had not exploded — on the tarmac outside the Tom Bradley International Terminal, officials said.
The employee told police he had cleaned up a similar device on Sunday that had apparently exploded in the same area, LAPD Deputy Chief Michael Downing said. The employee said it wasn't until he spotted the bottle Monday that he realized what it was.
Another potential dry-ice bomb -- initially thought to be a fourth device -- was found on the tarmac Monday, but it was determined to be trash, police said. LAPD officials initially offered conflicting reports about the number of devices found.
Re: Stuff & Nonsense
« Reply #9282 on: Oct 17th, 2013, 07:52am »
Extinct 'Mega Claw' Creature Had Spider-Like Brain
Oct. 16, 2013 — Researchers have discovered the earliest known complete nervous system exquisitely preserved in the fossilized remains of a never-before described creature that crawled or swam in the ocean 520 million years ago.
This is a close-up of the head region of the Alalcomenaeus fossil specimen with the superimposed colors of a microscopy technique revealing the distribution of chemical elements in the fossil. Copper shows up as blue, iron as magenta and the CT scans as green. The coincidence of iron and CT denote nervous system. The creature boasted two pairs of eyes (ball-shaped structures at the top). (Credit: N. Strausfeld/University of Arizona)
Research led by University of Arizona Regents' Professor Nick Strausfeld and London Natural History Museum's Greg Edgecombe has revealed that the ancestors of chelicerates (spiders, scorpions and their kin) branched off from the family tree of other arthropods -- including insects, crustaceans and millipedes -- more than half a billion years ago.
The team discovered the earliest known complete nervous system exquisitely preserved in the fossilized remains of a never-before described creature that crawled or swam in the ocean 520 million years ago.
Described in the current issue of the journal Nature, the find belongs to an extinct group of marine arthropods known as megacheirans (Greek for "large claws") and solves the long-standing mystery of where this group fits in the tree of life.
"We now know that the megacheirans had central nervous systems very similar to today's horseshoe crabs and scorpions," said the senior author of the study, Nicholas Strausfeld, a Regents' Professor in the University of Arizona's department of neuroscience. "This means the ancestors of spiders and their kin lived side by side with the ancestors of crustaceans in the Lower Cambrian."
The scientists identified the 3-centimeter-long creature (a little over an inch) unearthed from the famous Chengjiang formation near Kunming in southwest China, as a representative of the extinct genus Alalcomenaeus. Animals in this group had an elongated, segmented body equipped with about a dozen pairs of body appendages enabling the animal to swim or crawl or both. All featured a pair of long, scissor-like appendages attached to the head, most likely for grasping or sensory purposes, which gave them their collective name, megacheirans.
Co-author Greg Edgecombe said that some paleontologists had used the external appearance of the so-called great appendage to infer that the megacheirans were related to chelicerates, based on the fact that the great appendage and the fangs of a spider or scorpion both have an "elbow joint" between their basal part and their pincer-like tip.
"However, this wasn't rock solid because others lined up the great appendage either a segment in front of spider fangs or one segment behind them," Edgecombe said. "We have now managed to add direct evidence from which segment the brain sends nerves into the great appendage. It's the second one, the same as in the fangs, or chelicerae. For the first time we can analyze how the segments of these fossil arthropods line up with each other the same way as we do with living species -- using their nervous systems."
The team analyzed the fossil by applying different imaging and image processing techniques, taking advantage of iron deposits that had selectively accumulated in the nervous system during fossilization.
To make the neural structures visible, the researchers used computed tomography (CT), a technique that reconstructs 3-D features within in the specimen. However, "the CT scan didn't show the outline of the nervous systems unambiguously enough," Strausfeld said, "while a scanning laser technique mapping the distribution of chemical elements showed iron deposits outlining the nervous system almost as convincingly but with minor differences."
Next, the group applied advanced imaging techniques to the scans, first overlaying the magenta color of the iron deposit scan with the green color of the CT scan, then subtracting the two.
"We discarded any image data that were not present in both scans," Strausfeld explained. "Where the two overlapped, the magenta and the green added to each other, revealing the preserved nervous system as a white structure, which we then inverted."
This resulted in what resembled a negative X-ray photograph of the fossil.
"The white structures now showed up as black," Strausfeld said, "and out popped this beautiful nervous system in startling detail."
Comparing the outline of the fossil nervous system to nervous systems of horseshoe crabs and scorpions left no doubt that 520-million year-old Alalcomenaeus was a member of the chelicerates.
Specifically, the fossil shows the typical hallmarks of the brains found in scorpions and spiders: Three clusters of nerve cells known as ganglia fused together as a brain also fused with some of the animal's body ganglia. This differs from crustaceans where ganglia are further apart and connected by long nerves, like the rungs of a rope ladder.
Other diagnostic features include the forward position of the gut opening in the brain and the arrangement of optic centers outside and inside the brain supplied by two pairs of eyes, just like in horseshoe crabs.
To make the analysis more robust, the researchers then added these features to an existing catalog of about 150 characteristics used in constructing evolutionary relationships among arthropods based on neuroanatomical features.
"Greg plugged these characteristics into a computer-based cladistic analysis to ask, 'where does this fossil appear in a relational tree?'" Strausfeld said. "Our fossil of Alalcomenaeus came out with the modern chelicerates."
But according to Strausfeld, the story doesn't end there.
"The prominent appendages that gave the megacheirans their name were clearly used for grasping and holding and probably for sensory inputs. The parts of the brain that provide the wiring for where these large appendages arise are very large in this fossil. Based on their location, we can now say that the biting mouthparts in spiders and their relatives evolved from these appendages."
Less than a year ago, the same research team published the discovery of a fossilized brain in the 520 million year-old fossil Fuxianhuia protensa, showing unexpected similarity to the complex brain of a modern crustacean.
"Our new find is exciting because it shows that mandibulates (to which crustaceans belong) and chelicerates were already present as two distinct evolutionary trajectories 520 million years ago, which means their common ancestor must have existed much deeper in time," Strausfeld said. "We expect to find fossils of animals that have persisted from more ancient times, and I'm hopeful we will one day find the ancestral type of both the mandibulate and chelicerate nervous system ground patterns. They had to come from somewhere. Now the search is on."
For this research project, Strausfeld teamed up with Gengo Tanaka of the Japan Agency for Marine-Earth Science and Technology in Yokosuka, Japan; Xianguang Hou, director of the Yunnan Key Laboratory for Paleobiology at Yunnan University in Kunming, China, and his colleague Xiaoya Ma who is presently working with Gregory Edgecombe in the paleontology department of the Natural History Museum, London.
Re: Stuff & Nonsense
« Reply #9283 on: Oct 17th, 2013, 07:56am »
China holds two bloggers as it expands crackdown on rumors
By Sui-Lee Wee BEIJING Thu Oct 17, 2013 6:40am EDT
(Reuters) - Police in China have arrested an influential blogger and are holding a cartoonist in a widening crackdown on online "rumor-mongering", friends and a lawyer for one of them said on Thursday.
Hundreds of people have been detained since August, say Chinese media and rights groups, as the government has stepped up its campaign to banish rumors. Most have been released, but some are still being held on criminal charges.
The latest moves targeting the bloggers appear to suggest the new government, led by President Xi Jinping, is expanding its crackdown on dissent, although some critics have warned the move could backfire on Communist Party leaders.
"The use of these dictatorship tools to combat the criticism and grievances within civil society could be counterproductive," said Zhang Lifan, a historian, adding that it could fuel mistrust. "It may not be beneficial for maintaining the regime."
Dong Rubin, 51, who runs an Internet consulting company, has been arrested in southwestern Kunming on "suspicion of falsely declaring the capital in his company's registration", state news agency Xinhua said late on Wednesday.
Dong was also suspected of illegal business operations and the crime of "creating disturbances", Xinhua added.
Dong, who was previously invited by officials in southern Nanjing to speak about being an "online opinion leader", is well known for participating in a 2009 online probe into the sudden death of a man in a detention house in Yunnan province.
State broadcaster CCTV showed images of Dong admitting to "exaggeration and selectively publishing information" to benefit clients. In September, state media also aired a confession by Chinese-American venture capitalist, Charles Xue, one of China's best known online commentators.
Dong's lawyer, Yang Mingkua, told Reuters by telephone it was not convenient for him to be interviewed, but referred to a legal opinion published on his microblog.
"When the air is filled with voices that are unharmonious, that is not a sign of weakness, but a symbol of strength," Yang wrote on the microblog in September, describing Dong's case. "The freedom to speak and criticize is a citizen's right."
Yang said Dong believed he was "fundamentally innocent" in his actions on the Internet.
In Beijing, the capital, cartoonist Wang Liming was taken into custody at midnight on Wednesday and has not yet been freed, his friend, Wu Gan, told Reuters by telephone.
Wu said police told Wang's girlfriend they summoned him for forwarding a microblog post about a stranded mother holding a baby who had starved to death in the flood-hit eastern city of Yuyao.
"Suppression of this kind by the Chinese government is of no use," Wu said. "Rumors arise because there's no freedom to communicate on the Internet. Arresting people will not solve the problem because the problem does not lie with the people, but with the government."
The detentions come slightly over a month after China unveiled tough measures to stop the spread of what it calls irresponsible rumors, threatening jail terms of three years if untrue online posts are widely reposted.
China's top court and prosecutor have said people will be charged with defamation if online rumors they create are visited by 5,000 internet users or reposted more than 500 times.
Liu Hu, a Chinese investigative journalist accused of corruption was arrested on a defamation charge late in September, his lawyer said last week.
The Internet clampdown reveals the insecurity of the leaders of the ruling Communist Party, said Bo Zhiyue, a professor of Chinese politics at the National University of Singapore.
"They are trying to send China back all the way to the Stone Age," Bo said. "Where is the hope for political reform? Zero."
(Additional reporting by Beijing Newsroom and Li Hui; Editing by Clarence Fernandez)