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 veryhotthread  Author  Topic: Stuff & Nonsense  (Read 112500 times)
WingsofCrystal
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« Reply #930 on: Aug 31st, 2010, 11:59am »

Guardian

Kim Jong-il poised to announce son as successor
North Korea news agency hints Kim Jong-il will use Workers party assembly to confirm third son, Kim Jong-un, as next leader

Tania Branigan in Beijing guardian.co.uk, Tuesday 31 August 2010 10.04 BST

North Korea's leader Kim Jong-il recently returned from a five-day visit to China. North Korea's state news agency heightened speculation that Kim Jong-il is preparing to anoint his youngest son as his heir as it confirmed the leader's five-day visit to China.

Its reporting on the trip quoted repeated references to the next generation of leaders and described Kim Jong-il's visits to sites associated with his father, Kim Il-sung, the North's founder.

The 68-year-old Kim Jong-il's trip had been widely reported, but as usual Chinese and North Korean state media did not announce it until after he returned to Pyongyang.

He had visited China only a few months ago and his latest trip came days ahead of a Workers party assembly, which some analysts think will be used to indicate that he wants his third son, Kim Jong-un, to follow him as leader.

It will be the first major gathering of its kind for 30 years. The last was used to signal that Kim Jong-il had been chosen as successor, naming him to a senior position in the party. He took power when his father died 14 years later, in 1994.

Shi Yinhong, a professor of international relations at Renmin University in Beijing, told Associated Press: "His purpose is to increase economic and diplomatic assistance from China for his succession process, which is more urgent than before. This is the centre of his concern."

China is North Korea's chief ally, providing desperately needed aid and energy, making its approval essential.

Kim Jong-il met Hu Jintao in Changchun for talks and a banquet, with China Central Television showing footage of the North Korean leader embracing the Chinese president.

Dr Leonid Petrov, an expert on Korea at the University of Sydney, said Russian sources told him that Kim Jong-un was present on the previous visit to China, but that it was not clear if he had taken part this time. He added that there was precedent for him travelling under a false name.

"It would be logical for him to be on this trip because they visited historic places related to the dynastic lineage," Petrov said. "It probably looked very much like a part of a succession [process] where the links between members of the dynasty would be especially emphasised before the real transition takes place."

Petrov said the previous trip was thought to have ended badly, perhaps explaining why China did not invite Kim to Beijing, but that this time had been "strikingly different".

Professor Wei Zhijiang, an expert on regional relations at Zhongshan university, said he believed Kim's prime reason for the trip was to introduce his successor to Chinese leaders ahead of the party assembly.

But he added that North Korea's leader also wanted to seek security support from China, continue discussions about the tensions on the peninsula and examine China's economic development in the hope of emulating it. "Korea is facing both regional and international pressures. It is urgent," he added.

North Korea's KCNA news agency reported that Hu had said it was the responsibility of both countries "to advance the friendship along with the times and convey it down through generations to come".

In response, said the agency, Kim told him: "With the international situation remaining complicated, it is our important historical mission to hand over to the rising generation the baton of the traditional friendship."

But neither country's media mentioned Kim Jong-un, despite earlier rumours that he had accompanied his father to China. In South Korea Seoul's Chosun Ilbo newspaper quoted a diplomatic source in Beijing as saying his name was not on the official list of those present at a meeting with the Chinese president.

Chinese state media focused on Kim's remarks that he hoped for an early resumption of the six-party aid-for-denuclearisation talks. He made similar comments on his previous trip. Washington and Seoul have indicated that the six-party talks cannot resume until the sinking of South Korea's Cheonan warship has been resolved. The North denies involvement in the incident, in which 46 South Korean sailors died.

The US announced yesterday that it was expanding sanctions against North Korea, partly in response to the sinking. The treasury department said President Barack Obama had authorised action against four North Korean individuals, three companies and five government agencies.

South Korea welcomed the announcement of the American sanctions. But in a gesture of conciliation, it offered the North 10bn won (£5.4m) to help recovery from devastating floods – the first major aid it has offered since the Cheonan incident earlier this year.

photo of junior after the jump
http://www.guardian.co.uk/world/2010/aug/31/kim-jong-il-son-successor

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« Reply #931 on: Aug 31st, 2010, 12:15pm »

Stars and Stripes
Aug 31, 12:45 PM EDT
By ROBERT H. REID
Associated Press Writer

5 more American troops die in Afghan fighting

KABUL, Afghanistan (AP) -- Five more American troops were killed in action in Afghanistan on Tuesday, ending the month with a spike in bloodshed that has claimed the lives of 19 U.S. service members in only four days.

The U.S. death toll for August stood at 55 - three-quarters of them in the second half of the month as the Taliban fight back against U.S. pressure in southern and eastern strongholds. American losses accounted for more than 70 percent of the 76 fatalities suffered by the entire NATO-led force.

NATO said four of the Americans were killed by a roadside bomb in eastern Afghanistan, while a fifth died in a gunfight with insurgents in the country's south. No other details were released.

Until the late month spike, it appeared that the death toll for August would be well below the back-to-back monthly records of 66 in July and 60 in June.

By the middle of August only 13 Americans had been killed - in part because of greater use of heavily armored vehicles and other defenses against roadside bombs, the Taliban weapon of choice.

The reason behind the sudden spike in deaths was unclear because few details about the casualties are released for security reasons.

Most of the U.S. deaths occurred in the southern provinces of Helmand and Kandahar, longtime Taliban strongholds that are the focus of the American-led operation against the insurgents.

As the U.S. formally ends its combat role in the Iraq war, NATO and Afghan forces are ramping up operations in Afghanistan, especially in the area around Kandahar City, the Taliban birthplace and their former headquarters until they were ousted from power in the U.S.-led invasion of 2001.

NATO Secretary-General Anders Fogh Rasmussen told reporters in Copenhagen, Denmark, that higher casualties were inevitable because more troops have arrived in Afghanistan in recent weeks, bringing the overall alliance force to more than 140,000 - including 100,000 Americans. The U.S. figure is more than triple the number of American service members in Afghanistan at the beginning of last year.

"Right now we see more fighting and unfortunately also more casualties," Fogh Rasmussen said. "But that is the inevitable result of sending more troops ... On top of that, we now attack the Taliban strongholds in Helmand and Kandahar. That of course means more fighting and unfortunately also more casualties."

A NATO spokesman in Kabul, James Judge, said the insurgents traditionally step up attacks in late summer and early fall before the advent of the harsh Afghan winter, when fighting usually eases. He said casualty figures were likely to remain "somewhat elevated" in September because the insurgents may try to disrupt parliamentary elections.

In a meeting Tuesday with journalists from The Associated Press and two other news organizations, the top commander Gen. David Petraeus insisted that despite the casualties, progress was being achieved in Helmand and Kandahar. Petraeus said he recently walked through the market in Marjah, which until last February had been a major Taliban stronghold and wholesale distribution center for opium.

He said security in Kabul had been reinforced in recent months and that five or six bases were being built for the Afghan army around the city to protect the capital.

Nevertheless, gunmen stopped a bus Tuesday carrying clerks of the Afghan Supreme Court in south Kabul. One gunman boarded the bus and opened fire, killing three people and wounding 12, the Interior Ministry reported.

British Deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg insisted Tuesday that the military campaign in Afghanistan was "turning the corner" as he wrapped up a two-day unannounced visit to British troops in Helmand.

"We hear so much bad news," he told British soldiers. "Of course the country mourns when people lose their lives. People are full of anguish when there are serious injuries. But what I have seen today is a complete transformation of the military effort that I first saw when I visited two years ago."

Also Tuesday, NATO said its forces, working with Afghan army and police, had killed 19 insurgents and captured five in a major air assault on the village of Omar in the eastern province of Kunar.

Ground forces taking part in the assault that began Monday uncovered weapons caches and ammunition stockpiles inside the village, a statement said.

Two insurgents were killed and one was wounded in an airstrike Monday on a Taliban commander in charge of logistics in Kandahar, NATO said.

In Zabul province, insurgents on Monday night ambushed a convoy carrying food and other supplies, killing two private security guards and wounding five others, provincial government spokesman Mohammad Jan Rasoolyar said.


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« Reply #932 on: Aug 31st, 2010, 12:35pm »

Joe McMoneagle Blog

http://www.mceagle.com/blog/

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« Reply #933 on: Aug 31st, 2010, 1:13pm »

Seattle Times

Originally published Tuesday, August 31, 2010 at 11:03 AM

Hiker shoots self in butt on Blewett Pass
A hiker on Blewett Pass shot himself in the butt when he put a handgun in his back pocket

By The Associated Press

WENATCHEE — A hiker on Blewett Pass shot himself in the butt when he put a handgun in his back pocket.

The Chelan County sheriff's office says the 52-year-old Snohomish man had moved his .40-caliber handgun from its holster to his back pocket Saturday to see if that position would be more comfortable.

The Wenatchee World reports the gun fired the bullet down his left buttock and left leg, coming to rest just above the knee. He was treated at Central Washington Hospital in Wenatchee.

http://seattletimes.nwsource.com/html/localnews/2012768739_shootself31m.html

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« Reply #934 on: Aug 31st, 2010, 4:43pm »

on Aug 31st, 2010, 11:36am, WingsofCrystal wrote:
Wired

Dead Codebreaker Was Linked to NSA Intercept Case
By Kim Zetter August 30, 2010 | 6:47 pm | Categories: Crime, Crypto, NSA, Surveillance

A top British codebreaker found mysteriously dead last week in his flat had worked with the NSA and British intelligence to intercept e-mail messages that helped convict would-be bombers in the U.K., according to a news report.

Gareth Williams, 31, made repeated visits to the U.S. to meet with the National Security Agency and worked closely with British and U.S. spy agencies to intercept and examine communications that passed between an al Qaeda official in Pakistan and three men who were convicted last year of plotting to bomb transcontinental flights, according to the British paper the Mirror.

Williams, described by those who knew him as a “math genius,” worked for the Government Communications Headquarters (GCHQ) helping to break coded Taliban communications, among other things. He was just completing a year-long stint with MI6, Britain’s secret intelligence service, when his body was found stuffed into a duffel bag in his bathtub. He’d been dead for at least a week. His mobile phone and a number of SIM cards were laid out on a table near the body, according to news reports. There were no signs of forced entry to the apartment and no signs of a struggle.

Initial news stories indicated Williams had been stabbed, but police have since disputed that information, noting that — other than being stuffed into a duffel bag — there were no obvious signs of foul play. A toxicology report is expected Tuesday.

...

Williams was said to have worked with the NSA on e-mails intercepted between Abdullah Ahmed Ali and Assad Sarwar and Rashid Rauf, a British national in Pakistan who was allegedly director of European operations for al Qaeda. The e-mails, intercepted by the NSA in 2006, allegedly contained coded messages.

The NSA shared the e-mails with British prosecutors but wouldn’t allow them to use the evidence in an early trial of the suspects out of fear of tipping off Rauf that he was under surveillance. It was only after Rauf was reportedly killed in a U.S. drone attack that the NSA allowed prosecutors to use the e-mails to convict the other suspects. It’s never been known whether the NSA intercepted the messages overseas or siphoned them as they passed through internet nodes on U.S. soil as part of the NSA’s controversial and unconstitutional warrantless wiretapping program.

An unidentified Western intelligence source told the Mirror that Williams’ job would have had him participating in “crucial high-level meetings with American intelligence officers. His job would have been crucial to the security of the UK and our interests abroad – and also to America and Europe.

“Although not particularly high up the GCHQ ladder, the importance of his role should not be underestimated. The man was a mathematical genius.”

...

Ouch! I'd say he maybe could have seen something he shouldn't have. Poor guy.
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« Reply #935 on: Aug 31st, 2010, 5:12pm »

Hi Phil,
The whole thing is pretty gruesome.
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« Reply #936 on: Aug 31st, 2010, 7:10pm »

"no signs of forced entry to the apartment".
It's just plain sad that I thought of Tooms from The X-Files when I read that.
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« Reply #937 on: Aug 31st, 2010, 7:24pm »

on Aug 31st, 2010, 7:10pm, CA519705950 wrote:
"no signs of forced entry to the apartment".
It's just plain sad that I thought of Tooms from The X-Files when I read that.


Hi CA519705950,
Bizarre case, and the man was young too.
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« Reply #938 on: Aug 31st, 2010, 7:33pm »




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« Reply #939 on: Sep 1st, 2010, 07:56am »

Wired

Darpa’s Star Hacker Looks to WikiLeak-Proof Pentagon
By Spencer Ackerman August 31, 2010 | 3:29 pm | Categories: Info War

Tomorrow’s WikiLeakers may have to be sneakier than just dumping military docs onto a Lady Gaga disc. The futurists at Darpa are working on a project that would make it harder for troops to funnel classified material to WikiLeaks — or to foreign governments. And that means if you work for the military, get ready to have your web, email and other network usage monitored even more than it is now.

Darpa’s new project is called CINDER, for Cyber Insider Threat. It’s lead by a legendary hacker-turned-Darpa-manager. CINDER may have preceded Pfc. Bradley Mannings’ alleged disclosure of tens of thousands of documents about the Afghanistan war from Defense Department servers. But the idea is to find someone just like him. By hunting for poker-like “tells” in people’s use of Defense Department computer networks, Darpa hopes to find indications of indicate hostile intent or potential removal of sensitive data. “The goal of CINDER will be to greatly increase the accuracy, rate and speed with which insider threats are detected and impede the ability of adversaries to operate undetected within government and military interest networks,” according to the defense geeks’ request for contractor solicitations on the project.

That took on an increased urgency last month after WikiLeaks dropped 77,000 Afghanistan field reports into the public domain. While Admiral Mike Mullen’s furious blood-on-its-hands reaction got all the press coverage, Defense Secretary Robert Gates’ response appears to have been the more lasting one, policy-wise. Gates fretted that a casualty of WikiLeaks’ document dump would be the Defense Department’s years-long initiative to push vital information down to the front lines, so lower ranking officers and enlisted men had the sort of high-level battlefield views that used to be the province of their commanders. All that’s been jeopardized by Manning, he said, the soldier accused of being WikiLeaks’ inside man.

“We want those soldiers in a forward operating base to have all the information they possibly can have that impacts on their own security, but also being able to accomplish their mission,” Gates mused in a July press conference. “Should we change the way we approach that, or do we continue to take the risk” of future leaks? Gates partially answered his own question — however cryptically — by adding, “There are some technological solutions,” though “most of them are not immediately available to us.”

That’s where CINDER comes in. But the program Darpa envisions would establish patterns of malign behavior, distinct and quietly detectable from the normal Defense Department information user, to “expose hidden operations within networks and systems.” That carries with it the likelihood of a big data or meta-data-mining operation. Or, as Steve Aftergood, an intelligence-policy expert at the Federation of American Scientists puts it, “a sort of system-wide surveillance of Pentagon networks.” After all, how else to tell normal network usage from abnormal usage?

Indeed, Darpa expressly recognizes CINDER’s likelihood of intercepting false positives. So Darpa doesn’t want CINDER from focusing on any individual user — it wants the program’s as-yet-unbuilt algorithms to uncover the “malicious missions” that they undertake. “If we were looking for the insider actor himself, we might not detect someone who performs a single, isolated task and we run the risk of being inundated with false positives from events being triggered without context of a mission,” Darpa explains. It gives instructions for would-be designers to expressly identify the kinds of missions its detectors will hunt so as to minimize inundation with a glut of benign data.

But some of the examples Darpa gives of those fiendish activities sound difficult to distinguish from normal usage. “Anomalous missions [may] be comprised of entirely ‘legitimate’ activities, observables and the data sources they will be derived from,” Darpa notes. So CINDER researchers should “make use of logs and accounting information that tracks allowed activities rather than depending entirely on alerts from monitoring systems focused on anomalous or disallowed activities.” Feel any more comfortable executing your boss’ order to find him information on roadside bombs in your area?

Then again, Darpa has people on hand who know the difference between benign and malicious online actions. In February, the agency hired Peiter “Mudge” Zatko –one of the hackers of Boston’s L0pht collective, who famously told a congressional committee in 1998 that they could shut down the internet in 30 minutes — as a program manager for cybersecurity. “I don’t want people to be putting out virus signatures after a virus has come out,” he told CNet when Darpa hired him. “I want an active defense. I want to be at the sharp pointy end of the stick.” Next month, Zatko, CINDER’s program manager, holds a pair of conferences with potential researchers.

And not all traditional privacy advocates are so concerned about CINDER, since it’s not hunting the private Internet. CINDER’s might indeed “involve the automated collection of lots of benign, incidental data about individual users in order to establish a baseline of ‘normal’ activity,” notes Aftergood, an anti-secrecy critic of WikiLeaks). “But I would think that the privacy implications are limited, since most employees should not be conducting personal business on classified or other official networks anyway.”

A full-blown CINDER application is still years away. But at least one precursor effort will be the Defense Department’s forthcoming cybersecurity strategy, due out, according to Deputy Secretary William Lynn, before year’s end. How much internal monitoring will that strategy’s “active defense” authorize?

http://www.wired.com/dangerroom/2010/08/darpas-star-hacker-looks-to-wikileak-proof-the-pentagon/#ixzz0yHY5cHDm

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« Reply #940 on: Sep 1st, 2010, 08:01am »

The Hill

Wealthy lawmakers increased their riches as U.S. economy sputtered in '09
By Kevin Bogardus and Barbra Kim - 08/31/10 06:00 AM ET

The wealthiest members of Congress grew richer in 2009 even as the economy struggled to recover from a deep recession.

The 50 wealthiest lawmakers were worth almost $1.4 billion in 2009, about $85.1 million more than 12 months earlier, according to The Hill’s annual review of lawmakers’ financial disclosure forms.

Sen. John Kerry (D-Mass.) tops the list for the second year in a row. His minimum net worth was $188.6 million at the end of 2009, up by more than $20 million from 2008, according to his financial disclosure form.

While the economy struggled through a recession during much of 2009 and the nation’s unemployment rate soared to 10 percent, the stock market rebounded, helping lawmakers with large investments. The S&P 500 rose by about 28 percent in 2009.

The Hill's 50 Wealthiest List:
http://www.thehill.com/homenews/senate/116491-the-hills-50-wealthiest-list-slideshow

Total assets for the 50 wealthiest lawmakers in 2009 was $1.5 billion — that’s actually a nearly $36 million drop from a year ago. But lawmakers reduced their liabilities by even more, cutting debts by $120 million last year.

There are various reasons why asset values dropped. Some lawmakers saw their real estate holdings fall as the housing crisis intensified. A handful of lawmakers also had other investments or businesses that turned sour.

The only newcomer to the Top 10 list is Rep. Michael McCaul (R-Texas), who came straight in at No. 5. He replaced Rep. Harry Teague (D-N.M.), the 10th wealthiest member in 2008. Teague fell off the top 50 list after the value of a company he has a stake in — Teaco Energy Services Inc. — fell in value from $39.6 million in 2008 to at the least $1 million in 2009.

There were a few other new faces in the Top 50, including Rep. Patrick Kennedy (D-R.I.), who received an inheritance after his late father, Sen. Edward Kennedy (D-Mass.), died in 2009.

Sen. Ron Wyden (D-Ore.) and Rep. Tom Petri (R-Wis.) also made the list.

Twenty-seven Democrats along with 23 Republicans make up the 50 richest in Congress; 30 House members and 20 senators are on the list.

The bulk of Kerry’s wealth is credited to his spouse, Teresa Heinz Kerry, who inherited hundreds of millions of dollars after her late husband, the ketchup heir Sen. John Heinz (R-Pa.), died in a plane crash in 1991.

Rep. Darrell Issa (R-Calif.), with a net worth of $160.1 million, is the second-richest member of Congress under The Hill’s formula, even though his wealth declined by more than $4 million in 2009.

He is followed by Rep. Jane Harman (D-Calif.), who saw her net wealth leap to $152.3 million, a jump of more than $40 million from a year ago.

The rest of the top 10 are Sen. Jay Rockefeller (D-W.Va.), McCaul, Sen. Mark Warner (D-Va.), Rep. Jared Polis (D-Colo.), Rep. Vern Buchanan (R-Fla.), Sen. Frank Lautenberg (D-N.J.) and Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.).

To calculate its rankings, The Hill used only the lawmakers’ financial disclosure forms that cover the 2009 calendar year.

Lawmakers are only required to report their finances in broad ranges. For example, a $2.5 million vacation home in Aspen, Colo., would be reported as being valued at between $1 and $5 million on a congressional financial disclosure form.

To come up with the most conservative estimate for each lawmaker’s wealth, researchers took the bottom number of each range reported. Then, to calculate the minimum net worth for each senator and member, the sum of liabilities was subtracted from the sum of assets.

As a result, the methodology used to find the Top 50 wealthiest in Congress can miss some of the richest lawmakers.

Sen. Herb Kohl (D-Wis.) is certainly one of the wealthiest lawmakers on Capitol Hill. As owner of the NBA’s Milwaukee Bucks, Kohl has a $254 million asset on his hands, according to Forbes magazine.

But under The Hill’s methodology, his team ownership only counts for $50 million, the highest range reported on the congressional financial disclosure form. Because of high liabilities on his 2009 form, Kohl actually is listed as being more than $4.6 million in debt on the 2009 form.

—Walter Alarkon, Richard Barry, Silla Brush, Jordan Fabian, Beth Hawley, Michaela Martens and Eden Stiffman all contributed to this report.

http://thehill.com/homenews/senate/116489-wealthy-lawmakers-increased-their-riches-as-economy-sputtered-in-2009-

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« Reply #941 on: Sep 1st, 2010, 08:06am »

New York Times

September 1, 2010
Rape Investigation Against WikiLeaks Founder Reopened
By THE ASSOCIATED PRESS
Filed at 7:37 a.m. ET

STOCKHOLM (AP) -- A senior Swedish prosecutor reopened a rape investigation against WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange on Wednesday, the latest twist to a puzzling case in which prosecutors of different ranks have overruled each other.

Assange has denied the allegations and suggested they are part of a smear campaign by opponents of WikiLeaks -- an online whistle-blower that has angered Washington by publishing thousands of leaked documents about U.S. military activities in Iraq and Afghanistan.

The case was dismissed last week by Eva Finne, chief prosecutor in Stockholm, who overruled a lower-ranked prosecutor and said there was no reason to suspect that Assange, an Australian citizen, had raped a Swedish woman who had reported him to police.

The woman's lawyer appealed the decision. Director of Public Prosecution Marianne Ny decided to reopen the case Wednesday, saying new information had come in on Tuesday.

''We went through all the case material again, including what came in, and that's when I made my decision,'' to reopen the case, Ny told The Associated Press by phone.

She declined to say what new information she had received or whether Assange, who was questioned by investigators on Monday, would be arrested.

An arrest warrant issued Aug. 20 was withdrawn within 24 hours amid the back-and-forth between prosecutors.

Ny said ''it's not entirely uncommon'' that such reversals take place in Sweden, in particular regarding allegations of sex crimes.

Ny also decided that another complaint against Assange should be investigated on suspicion of ''sexual coercion and sexual molestation.'' That overruled a previous decision to only investigate the case as ''molestation,'' which is not a sex offense under Swedish law.

Investigators have not released details about either case, though a police report obtained by the AP shows both women had met Assange in connection with a seminar he gave in Stockholm on Aug. 14. The report shows the women filed their complaints together six days later.

Wikileaks made headlines around the world July 25 when it released tens of thousands of pages of secret U.S. documents about Afghanistan.

Assange is seeking legal protection for WikiLeaks in Sweden, one of the countries where the group says it has servers. The Swedish Migration Board has confirmed that Assange has applied for a work and residence permit in the Scandinavian country.

Assange did not immediately respond to the rape case being reopened, and his defense lawyer Leif Silbersky didn't answer calls seeking comment.

WikiLeaks spokesman Kristinn Hrafnsson said the group backs Assange.

''We hope that he will clear his name and meanwhile the WikiLeaks organization is going on with its endeavors,'' Hrafnsson told AP.

WikiLeaks says it intends to publish 15,000 more Afghan war documents in coming weeks, a disclosure that U.S. officials say could endanger innocent people or confidential informants.

Claes Borgstrom, a lawyer who represents both women, welcomed the decision Wednesday.

''This is a redress for my clients, I have to say, because they have been dragged through the mud on the Internet, for having made things up or intending to frame Assange,'' Borgstrom said.

Borgstrom had previously dismissed rumors that the sex allegations were part of a conspiracy against Assange, saying ''There is not an ounce of truth in all this about Pentagon, or the CIA, or smear campaigns, nothing like it.''

------

Associated Press writers Karl Ritter in Stockholm and Ian MacDougall in Oslo, Norway, contributed to this report.

http://www.nytimes.com/aponline/2010/09/01/world/europe/AP-EU-Sweden-WikiLeaks.html?_r=1&ref=world

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« Reply #942 on: Sep 1st, 2010, 08:10am »

New York Times

August 30, 2010
Advances Offer Path to Further Shrink Computer Chips
By JOHN MARKOFF

Scientists at Rice University and Hewlett-Packard are reporting this week that they can overcome a fundamental barrier to the continued rapid miniaturization of computer memory that has been the basis for the consumer electronics revolution.

In recent years the limits of physics and finance faced by chip makers had loomed so large that experts feared a slowdown in the pace of miniaturization that would act like a brake on the ability to pack ever more power into ever smaller devices like laptops, smartphones and digital cameras.

But the new announcements, along with competing technologies being pursued by companies like IBM and Intel, offer hope that the brake will not be applied any time soon.

In one of the two new developments, Rice researchers are reporting in Nano Letters, a journal of the American Chemical Society, that they have succeeded in building reliable small digital switches — an essential part of computer memory — that could shrink to a significantly smaller scale than is possible using conventional methods.

More important, the advance is based on silicon oxide, one of the basic building blocks of today’s chip industry, thus easing a move toward commercialization. The scientists said that PrivaTran, a Texas startup company, has made experimental chips using the technique that can store and retrieve information.

These chips store only 1,000 bits of data, but if the new technology fulfills the promise its inventors see, single chips that store as much as today’s highest capacity disk drives could be possible in five years. The new method involves filaments as thin as five nanometers in width — thinner than what the industry hopes to achieve by the end of the decade using standard techniques. The initial discovery was made by Jun Yao, a graduate researcher at Rice. Mr. Yao said he stumbled on the switch by accident.

Separately, H.P. is to announce on Tuesday that it will enter into a commercial partnership with a major semiconductor company to produce a related technology that also has the potential of pushing computer data storage to astronomical densities in the next decade. H.P. and the Rice scientists are making what are called memristors, or memory resistors, switches that retain information without a source of power.

“There are a lot of new technologies pawing for attention,” said Richard Doherty, president of the Envisioneering Group, a consumer electronics market research company in Seaford, N.Y. “When you get down to these scales, you’re talking about the ability to store hundreds of movies on a single chip.”

The announcements are significant in part because they indicate that the chip industry may find a way to preserve the validity of Moore’s Law. Formulated in 1965 by Gordon Moore, a co-founder of Intel, the law is an observation that the industry has the ability to roughly double the number of transistors that can be printed on a wafer of silicon every 18 months.

That has been the basis for vast improvements in technological and economic capacities in the past four and a half decades. But industry consensus had shifted in recent years to a widespread belief that the end of physical progress in shrinking the size modern semiconductors was imminent. Chip makers are now confronted by such severe physical and financial challenges that they are spending $4 billion or more for each new advanced chip-making factory.

I.B.M., Intel and other companies are already pursuing a competing technology called phase-change memory, which uses heat to transform a glassy material from an amorphous state to a crystalline one and back.

Phase-change memory has been the most promising technology for so-called flash chips, which retain information after power is switched off.

The flash memory industry has used a number of approaches to keep up with Moore’s law without having a new technology. But it is as if the industry has been speeding toward a wall, without a way to get over it.

To keep up speed on the way to the wall, the industry has begun building three-dimensional chips by stacking circuits on top of one another to increase densities. It has also found ways to get single transistors to store more information. But these methods would not be enough in the long run.

The new technology being pursued by H.P. and Rice is thought to be a dark horse by industry powerhouses like Intel, I.B.M., Numonyx and Samsung. Researchers at those competing companies said that the phenomenon exploited by the Rice scientists had been seen in the literature as early as the 1960s.

“This is something that I.B.M. studied before and which is still in the research stage,” said Charles Lam, an I.B.M. specialist in semiconductor memories.

H.P. has for several years been making claims that its memristor technology can compete with traditional transistors, but the company will report this week that it is now more confident that its technology can compete commercially in the future.

In contrast, the Rice advance must still be proved. Acknowledging that researchers must overcome skepticism because silicon oxide has been known as an insulator by the industry until now, Jim Tour, a nanomaterials specialist at Rice said he believed the industry would have to look seriously at the research team’s new approach.

“It’s a hard sell, because at first it’s obvious it won’t work,” he said. “But my hope is that this is so simple they will have to put it in their portfolio to explore.”

http://www.nytimes.com/2010/08/31/science/31compute.html?ref=science

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« Reply #943 on: Sep 1st, 2010, 08:17am »

Telegraph

Deep-fried beer invented in Texas
A chef in Texas has created what he claims is the world's first recipe for deep-fried beer.

By Nick Allen in Los Angeles
Published: 7:50PM BST 31 Aug 2010

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The beer is placed inside a pocket of salty, pretzel-like dough and then dunked in oil at 375 degrees for about 20 seconds, a short enough time for the confection to remain alcoholic.

When diners take a bite the hot beer mixes with the dough in what is claimed to be a delicious taste sensation.

Inventor Mark Zable said it had taken him three years to come up with the cooking method and a patent for the process is pending. He declined to say whether any special ingredients were involved.

His deep-fried beer will be officially unveiled in a fried food competition at the Texas state fair later this month.

Five ravioli-like pieces will sell for $5 (£3) and the Texas Alcoholic Commission has already ruled that people must be aged over 21 to try it.

Mr Zable has so far been deep frying Guinness but said he may switch to a pale ale in future.

He said: "Nobody has been able to fry a liquid before. It tastes like you took a bite of hot pretzel dough and then took a drink of beer." Mr Zable previously invented dishes including chocolate-covered strawberry waffle balls and jalapeño corndog shrimps.

Last year's winner of the Texas state fair fried food competition was a recipe for deep-fried butter.

http://www.telegraph.co.uk/foodanddrink/foodanddrinknews/7973944/Deep-fried-beer-invented-in-Texas.html

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« Reply #944 on: Sep 1st, 2010, 08:23am »

Hollywood Reporter

August 31, 2010
Dwayne Johnson to star in 'Journey to the Center of the Earth' sequel (exclusive)
Dwayne Johnson is strapping on a backpack for New Line's "Journey 2: The Mysterious Island," the sequel to "Journey to the Center of the Earth 3D."

Brad Peyton is on board to direct the film, in which Josh Hutcherson will reprise his role as burgeoning explorer Sean Anderson. Beau Flynn and Tripp Vinson of Contrafilm are producing.

Brendan Fraser was the top draw in the 2008 movie but is not returning after hitting an impasse over start dates. That put New Line on track to find a new star, with the studio and Johnson dancing for several weeks before getting into it. Johnson is in negotiations, with a deal expected to close this week.

Johnson will play the boyfriend of Hutcherson's mom, who Hutcherson is forced to bring on a trip to a mythical and monstrous island to find his missing grandfather. The script is loosely based on Jules Verne's "The Mysterious Island."

Three other characters will be introduced in the movie and cast during the next few weeks. Production is eyeing a late October start in North Carolina and Hawaii.

Like the first movie, which beat the 3D craze by more than a year and made more than $250 million worldwide in 2008, the sequel will be shot and released in 3D.

Charlotte Huggins also is producing. Michael Bostick and Evan Turner of Walden Media are executive producing.

The CAA-repped Johnson is shooting "The Fast and the Furious 5" and next stars in "Faster," CBS Films' action movie that opens Thanksgiving time.

- Borys Kit

http://heatvision.hollywoodreporter.com/2010/08/dwayne-johnson-the-rock-to-star-in-journey-to-the-center-of-the-earth-sequel-exclusive.html

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