Dot-Mil Cyber Security Spending: Now Extra FUBAR By Noah Shachtman April 1, 2011 | 4:24 pm Categories: Miscellaneous
Illo: CYBERCOM, via @jimmysky and Crucialpointllc.com.
In February, when the military released its budget for the upcoming fiscal year, the Air Force said it planned to spend $4.6 billion on cyber security. Which was a little bit odd, since the Pentagon said it only planned to spend $2.3 billion for the entire Defense Department — the Air Force, the Navy, the Army, everyone.
And so begins a look by Nextgov into the migraine-inducing, Borges-esque world of dot-mil defense spending. The Air Force asking for twice the money as the armed forces overall? Just one of the many head-scratchers uncovered in the Pentagon’s network defense ledgers. At this point, the services can’t even agree on what’s “cyber security,” what’s plain ol’ IT infrastructure, and what’s… something else. (Thus the giant discrepancy between the Air Force’s figures and the Pentagon’s.)
“When people can’t even agree about the most basic terminology, you know there is going to be a lot of confusion,” quips one Brookings Institution non-resident fellow. “The chances there aren’t billions of dollars in redundancies are slim to none, and slim is out of town.”
Speaking of bureaucracy and confusion: How are we all feeling about this org chart for U.S. Cyber Command, above?
Noah Shachtman is a contributing editor at WIRED magazine, a non-resident fellow at the Brookings Institution, and the editor of this little blog right here. Follow http://www.twitter.com/dangerroom on Twitter. ~ Crystal
A street protest in Kandahar leaves up to 8 dead, and gunmen attack a U.S.-run military installation. The bloodshed comes a day after 7 were killed at a U.N. compound by a mob angered by the Florida Koran burning.
By Laura King Los Angeles Times 2:49 AM PDT, April 2, 2011 KABUL, Afghanistan
Violent repercussions of a Koran-burning at an obscure Florida evangelical church shook Afghanistan again Saturday, with authorities in the southern city of Kandahar reporting up to eight deaths in an angry street protest a day after an attack on the U.N. headquarters in a northern city left seven foreigners dead.
Nerves were further jangled in the Afghan capital when a team of gunmen and at least one suicide bomber tried to storm an American-run military installation on Kabul's outskirts early Saturday. The attack was repelled and three assailants were the only fatalities. Three NATO troops were injured, but not seriously, the Western military said.
Many international humanitarian organizations operating in Afghanistan were in lockdown mode Saturday in the wake of the U.N. compound attack in Mazar-e-Sharif, with expatriate staffers ordered to stay indoors and out of public view. It was the deadliest assault on the world body's staff in the course of the 10-year Afghan conflict.
U.N. and Afghan officials identified the dead as four Nepalese Gurkhas who were guarding the compound and three European workers trapped inside -- one Swedish, one Norwegian and one from Romania. Norwegian media reported that the slain Norwegian was a female military adviser to the U.N. mission, a decorated veteran and a mother of one.
Four Afghans in the crowd were also killed during the storming of the compound, provincial officials said, and 27 people were arrested in connection with the attack, including one of its its suspected ringleaders. The mob marched on the compound following an incendiary sermon preached at Friday prayers, the most important of the Muslim week, denouncing the Koran-burning.
Saturday's Kandahar protest followed a similar pattern, spreading over a period of hours to several parts of the city, with slogan-chanting crowds attacking several government buildings. Provincial spokesman Zalmay Ayuoubi, who reported the eight dead, said dozens of people were injured. He accused the Taliban of inciting the violence.
In much of Afghanistan, it is not particularly difficult to whip up an angry mob by exhorting people to defend Islam. The country is known for its deep-seated religious conservatism, and perceived insults to the Muslim faith have triggered deadly riots in the past.
Mazar-e-Sharif, normally one of the most peaceful cities in Afghanistan, was among seven areas designated last month by the Afghan government as the first where security responsibilities would be handed over to the Afghan police and army. Friday's uncontained outbreak of violence cast doubt on that plan, and Afghan authorities said the handling of the situation by Afghan police was being investigated. Some witnesses said police officers fired indiscriminately into the crowd.
A spokeswoman for NATO's International Security Assistance Force, Maj. Sunset Belinsky, did not immediately respond to a query as to why NATO forces at a large Western base just outside Mazar-e-Sharif -- the hub of the alliance's northern operations -- were apparently not involved in responding to the peril posed to the U.N. mission. A major Swedish newspaper, Svenska Daghbladet, said Swedish troops stationed at the base were put on standby alert during the mob rampage but were not deployed.
The Florida pastor at the center of the controversy expressed no public regrets over the violence triggered by last month's mock "trial" and subsequent torching of a copy of the Muslim holy book. Rev. Terry Jones instead called for retribution against those who carried out the attack.
The mayor of a town in France has thrown a patriotic female statue out of his town hall because its breasts were too big.
11:56PM BST 01 Apr 2011
The artist said she gave it outsized breasts deliberately, 'to symbolise the generosity of the Republic' Photo: AFP
The terracotta bust of Marianne - the traditional female embodiment of the French Republic in a Phrygian cap - was an original work by a local artist, installed in 2007 at the town hall in Neuville-en-Ferrain, population 10,000.
"It was making people gossip," said one town hall employee. "Remarks were made, during weddings for example."
Mayor Gerard Cordon persuaded councillors to approve 900 euros in this year's budget to buy a replacement, a more conventional bust of Marianne modelled on the statuesque French model Laetitia Casta.
The artist who made the rejected bust, Catherine Lamacque, said she gave it outsized breasts deliberately, "to symbolise the generosity of the Republic."
The town hall bought her terracotta statue in 2007 for 1,400 euros.
"The mayor has had it under his nose for several years. He chose it from among other designs even before I baked it," she said
"His decision is absurd. I only hope he will not have it destroyed."
Another town hall official said he regretted the bust's removal, which was done "not by a joint decision but by the mayor alone."
"It was a unique work," he said. "After all, Marianne is a symbol of motherhood."
Jeff Zucker to Produce Movie Based on Daniel Silva's Spy Series 3:53 PM 4/1/2011 by Gregg Kilday
Universal acquires rights to books featuring former Iraeli operative Gabriel Allon.
In the hunt for a new spy series, Universal Pictures has acquired the rights to Daniel Silva’s books about Gabriel Allon, a former Israeli intelligence operative turned art restorer, and Jeff Zucker, who stepped down as NBC Uni CEO in January, has come on board to produce.
Allon has appeared in ten of Silva’s books, beginning with 2001’s The Kill Artist and continuing through the recent The Rembrandt Affair. The latest installment, Portrait of a Spy, will be published by Harper in July.
Universal has picked up rights to all past and future books in the series, which have an estimated 25 million books in print.
Because of an existing friendship with Silva, Zucker agreed to serve as producer, although sources familiar with the project said that the former NBC Uni head, who has yet to announce his further plans, is not looking at a full-time career as a film producer. Silva will be involved as exec producer on the film adaptation.
Peter Cramer, senior executiv vp, production, and Jay Polidoro, creative exec, are overseeing the project for the studio.
Silva was repped by attorney Michael Gendler of Gendler & Kelly.
House GOP passes 'force of law' spending bill mocked by Dems By Pete Kasperowicz - 04/01/11 02:55 PM ET
The House narrowly passed legislation on Friday that calls for a House-passed FY 2011 spending bill to become law should the Senate fail to approve a spending bill by April 6. It would also prevent members of Congress from being paid during a government shutdown.
The bill, H.R. 1255, was approved over bitter Democratic opposition in a 221-202 vote in which no Democrats supported it, and 15 Republicans opposed it.
Several Democrats argued that the measure is unconstitutional, charging that it would "deem" that the 2011 spending bill, H.R. 1, has the force of law if the Senate fails to act. Some Democrats seized on the floor comments from Rep. Louie Gohmert (R-Texas), who broke with his party and said on the floor that this aspect of the bill "violates my conscious and the Constitution, and I cannot vote for it."
Republicans voting "no" were Reps. Justin Amash (Mich.), Michael Burgess (Texas), Jason Chaffetz (Utah), Jeff Fortenberry (Neb.), Louie Gohmert (Texas), Richard Hanna (NY), Walter Jones (NC), Dan Lungren (Calif.), Tom McClintock (Calif.), Thaddeus McCotter (Mich.), Ron Paul (Texas), Ted Poe (Texas), Reid Ribble (Wis.), Dana Rohrabacher (Calif.), and James Sensenbrenner (Wis.). Rep. Blake Farenthold (R-Texas) was the only member of the House to vote "present."
Democratic leaders echoed Gohmert throughout the day, and argued that the prospect of deeming H.R. 1 as U.S. law is a serious violation of the founding document of the United States.
"What you see on the floor today is no example of Democracy in action," House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) said. "It's silly. The Republican leadership is asking its members to make a silly vote."
"April Fools, America," House Minority Whip Steny Hoyer (D-Md.) said. "This is a joke, America. This is not real, America."
Other Democrats openly mocked Republicans and said they fail to understand the basic constitutional requirement that bills must pass the House and Senate before they become law. Two members suggested children's books as a way for Republicans to begin to learn about the Constitution — Rep. Peter DeFazio (D-Ore.) offered How our Laws are Made, and Rep. Anthony Weiner (D-N.Y.) offered House Mouse, Senate Mouse.
"It's a much thinner book and it rhymes," Weiner said.
Several others encouraged Republicans to watch "I'm Just a Bill," the classic 1970s cartoon explaining how a bill becomes law.
Republicans repeatedly dismissed these arguments and said they agree that the bill would also have to be approved by the Senate before H.R. 1 could be implemented. Rep. Tim Griffin (R-Ark.) said Republicans are not operating under the idea that House passage alone would make H.R. 1 the law of the land, and said for this reason the bill is consistent with the Constitution.
Today's House vote was largely symbolic precisely because it would require the Senate to approve the same bill and President Obama would have to sign it, neither of which is expected to happen. Still, Republicans insisted that the vote is important because it clarifies that the House has passed a bill, while the Senate has yet to make it clear that it can pass any counter-proposal that might form the starting point of a negotiation.
During the debate, Rep. Rob Woodall (R-Ga.) took the Democratic poster depicting the "I'm Just a Bill" cartoon, flipped it around to reveal its blank side, and said, "Here's the work product of the Senate. How do you negotiate with that?"
House Majority Leader Eric Cantor (R-Va.) reiterated this point, and said the prospect of a government shutdown "looms ever larger" because the Senate has refused to pass a bill.
Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) slammed the bill's passage on Friday and said House Republicans are "wasting time."
"Unfortunately, today my colleagues in the House seem to be listening to this small but loud minority," Reid said in a statement. "Instead of working to create jobs, they are wasting time by voting yet again on a reckless spending bill that would destroy 700,000 jobs."
Cantor said the Senate still has the option of accepting the $61 billion in cuts approved in H.R. 1 if it finds it cannot pass any other bill.
"Funding the government at the levels passed by House Republicans might not be what Senator Reid wants, but surely even he would agree that it's a better alternative than shutting down the government," he said.
Stealth Portraits Fuel Debate Over Privacy Laws By Pete Brook April 1, 2011 | 5:19 pm Categories: Fine Art, Law, Street Shooting
photo: Moa Karlberg
New legislation in Sweden designed to protect bystanders against acts of voyeurism mixes ambiguously broad language with commonsense edicts, prompting one photographer to test the laws’ limits with hidden-camera portraits.
Parts of the new law define spaces such as bedrooms and changing areas as “private,” but also ban photography that “irrespective of place, occurs in a way which is obtrusive, intrusive, or hidden and that is meant to be a serious violation of a person’s privacy as an individual.”
With cryptic portraits of unknowing passers-by captured through a one-way mirror, Moa Karlberg’s Watching You Watch Me treads the fine line of these legal distinctions. While Sweden has better laws than many countries when it comes to safeguarding the activity of well-intentioned street and journalistic photographers, Karlberg is worried that new laws may engender a culture of suspicion.
“It can be hard to define when you are in a private space,” says Karlberg. “The law can easily be overinterpreted and affect other types of photography.”
The Swedish government was pressed into action following a series of disturbing cases of peeping-tom intrusion, including a landlord filming a tenant changing and a teenager who distributed images of his naked girlfriend without his partner’s knowledge. The previous lack of actionable law meant the digital voyeurs went uncharged and unpunished. Authorities were left red-faced.
As Swedish English-language news site The Local reports, the law attempts to address photographers’ motives beyond its legal definition of “private space,” by referring to photos that are “meant to be a serious violation of a person’s privacy as an individual.” Proving or suspecting this intention seems particularly slippery.
There can be no argument with the protection of individuals’ modesty and right to privacy, especially in bedrooms and changing areas, but critics of the legislation argue it may inhibit the work of legitimate journalists in the field.
“It may seem trivial to worry about my rights as a street photographer, but I consider it important to discuss this issue before our rights get limited,” says Karlberg. “Until now, the laws have only restricted what you can publish. This new proposition puts the responsibility on the photographer…. This may lead to self-censorship among professional photographers.”
Karlberg set up her equipment in a storefront window behind a one-way mirror, blurring the line between street photography and an act now considered intrusive and criminally suspect.
“The store was dark, and the street was light, so I was able to capture people looking at their reflection,” says Karlberg. “As I took the pictures, it felt weird standing 2 meters from somebody staring right at me without knowing I was there. As if I actually stole something from their integrity.”
“I consider them an investigation of self-image,” she continues. “I have always wanted to know how people look when they see only themselves — a look that is almost impossible to get if you show the camera.”
Watching You Watch Me can be viewed on Karlberg’s website: http://www.moakarlberg.com/ and was recently exhibited in Sweden. This gave her subjects the opportunity for feedback. One subject was a photographer and supportive of the project, but one female subject was uneasy, says Karlberg.
“She came to the opening and found it very uncomfortable seeing herself exhibited in a gallery and not knowing in what contexts her picture would be later published. I suggested I could cover her picture if she insisted.”
2 March 2011 Rasche replaces Baldwin in MEN IN BLACK III by brian s
We reported just two days ago that the troubled Men in Black III script is now in the hands of Will Smith's persoanl writer and this morning Deadline is reporting that after Alec Baldwin walked away from the thrid entry for greener pastures on rock of Ages, he's now been repaced by David Rasche (Sledge Hammer.The Big Tease, Flags of our Fathers, Burn After Reading, Ugly Betty).
Rasche takes over as Agent X who is the head of the MIB program Smith's character J time travels back to the 60's and meets up with. Maybe now Tommy Lee Jones will get un-confused about the film and things will start coming together.
As I reported, Sony jumped the gun with this film beginning production before a script was even finished. This is another stupid move by studio suits trying to make a buck! You wait this long in between movies to make a sequel, wait just a few months longer and come up with a great script you morons!
April 2, 2011 Japan’s Nuclear Disaster Severs Town’s Economic Lifeline, Setting Evacuees Adrift By HIROKO TABUCHI
KAZO, Japan — Along with 1,300 other evacuees from a town two miles from Japan’s damaged nuclear plants, Kunikazu Takahashi and his elderly mother are crowded into an abandoned high school here, sleeping on donated tatami mats as they ask themselves whether it will ever be safe to return.
But Mr. Takahashi, 47, feels he has no choice: to earn enough to support his mother, he needs to go back to his job as a technician at the Fukushima Daini nuclear plant, just six miles from the Daiichi plant, which is spewing radioactive particles.
“They called several days ago, asking for me,” Mr. Takahashi said. “I have to go back.” He shrugged off a question about the dangers; in Fukushima’s stagnant economy, he said, he was lucky to have a job at all. “I try not to think about it,” he said.
That desperation speaks volumes about the hard choices residents of some of Japan’s most remote communities have made in a country where postwar economic growth has been concentrated in big cities.
Four years ago, Shiro Izawa and his fellow town council members championed a plan to build two new reactors at the Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power Plant, a welcome addition of jobs and capital to the otherwise sleepy town of Futaba.
Now, he, too, is a refugee, driven from his home by the very plant he long held up as the linchpin of the local economy.
“The plant was supposed to be safe,” Mr. Izawa said at the shelter just outside Tokyo, 150 miles from Fukushima. “That was the promise. We had no industry in Futaba. To flourish, Futaba needed the plant.”
Now town officials are consumed with the evacuation of Futaba’s 6,900 residents, shepherding a group of about 1,300 people from one makeshift sleeping place to the next. It is a tragic tale of an entire community evacuated in the wake of the world’s largest nuclear disaster since Chernobyl.
On Thursday, they arrived at the large abandoned high school offered to them in Kazo. Weary and laden with bags, they walked quietly to their assigned rooms: 45 people in the music room, 40 people in the computer lab, 70 in the library.
Some within the group had complained that they had hoped to remain closer to Fukushima, and some Futaba residents remain scattered at evacuation centers there.
But Katsutaka Idogawa, the town’s mayor, argued that Futaba’s residents should stay together. There was no place big enough to house the entire group in Fukushima, and a sports stadium that had offered them temporary lodging was reopening for a series of concerts, forcing them to leave.
“The important thing is that we stay together as one,” Mayor Idogawa said. “It helps us help you. It helps us make sure everybody is all right.”
Much of the growth outside Japan’s cities has come from giant public works projects, or in the case of Futaba, a nuclear complex it readily agreed to host in the 1960s.
Now there is soul-searching among Futaba’s refugees. Many at the shelter still speak of the plant’s importance to the town, and about how it helped buoy the fortunes of a once declining town.
But there is also frustration directed at the Tokyo Electric Power Company, the plant’s operator, over its handling of the crisis, as well as a sense of injustice; the power Tokyo Electric generated at Fukushima supplied the capital, not local homes and businesses.
Futaba was once a backwater reeling from coal mining’s postwar decline, and a source of migrant workers for Tokyo, so Futaba’s leaders responded enthusiastically to inquiries from Tokyo Electric in 1960 over a possible nuclear plant in the area.
The following year, the Futaba town council, together with a neighboring town, Okuma, voted unanimously to invite Tokyo Electric to build a nuclear plant on a 900-acre tract of farmland, according to Fukushima prefectural records.
As Fukushima Daiichi’s six reactors came online through the 1970s, Futaba’s fortunes also brightened. By the end of that decade, the plant employed thousands of workers, and the town’s population grew from less than 7,000 to a peak of almost 9,000. Futaba’s success prompted two neighboring towns to court Tokyo Electric for another nuclear plant in the area; in 1975, work began on the Fukushima Daini nuclear plant, where Mr. Takahashi has worked for 15 years.
More important to local politicians, Futaba received substantial subsidies from the national government, as well as property tax receipts from Tokyo Electric. By 2008, the subsidies alone added 13 billion yen ($157 million) to Futaba’s finances, according to town statements. But Futaba poured the money into extensive public works projects — an elderly care center, a sports park, a revamped sewage system — and eventually accumulated a debt of almost 10 billion yen, or $121 million.
A new town council elected in 2007, including Mr. Izawa and Mr. Idogawa, the current mayor, pledged to reduce that debt by slashing costs and public works spending. The town again turned to Tokyo Electric, approving a plan to build two new reactors at Fukushima Daiichi, which had been halted after a cover-up scandal at the plant. The approval immediately qualified Futaba for new subsidies; in the fiscal year that ended in March 2010, Futaba received about $45 million from the government, or 60 percent of its total revenue. “I feel a sense of relief,” Mayor Idogawa told local reporters at the time.
That relief has turned to anguish as evacuees wonder whether they can ever go home.
Yoshie Hayashi, a 43-year-old mother of two, still speaks wistfully of the family’s last breakfast in her home about six miles from the plant: grilled fish, miso soup and rice. The evacuation order came part way through the meal; she rolled the remaining rice into rice balls to take for the road. The family was unable to take much else.
“We thought we’d only be gone a little while,” Mrs. Hayashi said, stretching her legs in the high school grounds. Her daughter, Ekuko, 17, said, “I should have brought my spring clothes.”
Mrs. Hayashi said she was especially irritated by Mayor Idogawa’s decision to take the group so far from Fukushima. Ekuko was just about to start her senior year of high school; Mrs. Hayashi is terrified that she may not finish school, a big disadvantage in a society that reveres education.
Moreover, Mrs. Hayashi said, she and her husband must find new jobs after leaving their old ones behind. Her husband, an engineer for a telephone company, hopes to find work in Tokyo, but Mrs. Hayashi, a poultry farm worker, has “no city skills,” he said. She plans to seek a temporary job as a janitor.
“We won’t stay here,” Mrs. Hayashi said, before walking back to their temporary abode in a teachers’ room. “We want to return to Futaba. Our hometown happens to have a nuclear plant. But it is still our home.”
Scientists have created genetically modified cattle that produce "human" milk in a bid to make cows' milk more nutritious.
By Richard Gray, Science Correspondent 9:00PM BST 02 Apr 2011
The scientists have successfully introduced human genes into 300 dairy cows to produce milk with the same properties as human breast milk.
Human milk contains high quantities of key nutrients that can help to boost the immune system of babies and reduce the risk of infections.
The scientists behind the research believe milk from herds of genetically modified cows could provide an alternative to human breast milk and formula milk for babies, which is often criticised as being an inferior substitute.
They hope genetically modified dairy products from herds of similar cows could be sold in supermarkets. The research has the backing of a major biotechnology company.
The work is likely to inflame opposition to GM foods. Critics of the technology and animal welfare groups reacted angrily to the research, questioning the safety of milk from genetically modified animals and its effect on the cattle's health.
But Professor Ning Li, the scientist who led the research and director of the State Key Laboratories for AgroBiotechnology at the China Agricultural University insisted that the GM milk would be as safe to drink as milk from ordinary dairy cows.
He said: "The milk tastes stronger than normal milk.
“We aim to commercialize some research in this area in coming three years. For the “human-like milk”, 10 years or maybe more time will be required to finally pour this enhanced milk into the consumer’s cup.”
China is now leading the way in research on genetically modified food and the rules on the technology are more relaxed than those in place in Europe.
The researchers used cloning technology to introduce human genes into the DNA of Holstein dairy cows before the genetically modified embryos were implanted into surrogate cows.
Writing in the scientific peer-reviewed journal Public Library of Science One, the researchers said they were able to create cows that produced milk containing a human protein called lysozyme,
Lysozyme is an antimicrobial protein naturally found in large quantities in human breast milk. It helps to protect infants from bacterial infections during their early days of life.
They created cows that produce another protein from human milk called lactoferrin, which helps to boost the numbers of immune cells in babies. A third human milk protein called alpha-lactalbumin was also produced by the cows.
The scientists also revealed at an exhibition at the China Agricultural University that they have boosted milk fat content by around 20 per cent and have also changed the levels of milk solids, making it closer to the composition of human milk as well as having the same immune-boosting properties.
Professor Li and his colleagues, who have been working with the Beijing GenProtein Biotechnology Company, said their work has shown it was possible to "humanise" cows milk.
In all, the scientists said they have produced a herd of around 300 cows that are able to produce human-like milk.
The transgenic animals are physically identical to ordinary cows.
Writing in the journal, Professor Li said: "Our study describes transgenic cattle whose milk offers the similar nutritional benefits as human milk.
"The modified bovine milk is a possible substitute for human milk. It fulfilled the conception of humanising the bovine milk."
Speaking to The Sunday Telegraph, he added the “human-like milk” would provide “much higher nutritional content”. He said they had managed to produce three generations of GM cows but for commercial production there would need to be large numbers of cows produced.
He said: “Human milk contains the ‘just right’ proportions of protein, carbohydrates, fats, minerals, and vitamins for an infant’s optimal growth and development.
“As our daily food, the cow’s milk provided us the basic source of nutrition. But the digestion and absorption problems made it not the perfect food for human being."
The researchers also insist having antimicrobial proteins in the cows milk can also be good for the animals by helping to reduce infections of their udders.
Genetically modified food has become a highly controversial subject and currently they can only be sold in the UK and Europe if they have passed extensive safety testing.
The consumer response to GM food has also been highly negative, resulting in many supermarkets seeking to source products that are GM free.
Campaigners claim GM technology poses a threat to the environment as genes from modified plants can get into wild plant populations and weeds, while they also believe there are doubts about the safety of such foods.
Scientists insist genetically modified foods are unlikely to pose a threat to food safety and in the United States consumers have been eating genetically modified foods for more decades.
However, during two experiments by the Chinese researchers, which resulted in 42 transgenic calves being born, just 26 of the animals survived after ten died shortly after birth, most with gastrointestinal disease, and a further six died within six months of birth.
Researchers accept that the cloning technology used in genetic modification can affect the development and survival of cloned animals, although the reason why is not well understood.
A spokesman for the Royal Society for the Protection of Animals said the organisation was "extremely concerned" about how the GM cows had been produced.
She said: "Offspring of cloned animals often suffer health and welfare problems, so this would be a grave concern.
"Why do we need this milk – what is it giving us that we haven't already got."
Helen Wallace, director of biotechnology monitoring group GeneWatch UK, said: "We have major concerns about this research to genetically modify cows with human genes.
"There are major welfare issues with genetically modified animals as you get high numbers of still births.
"There is a question about whether milk from these cows is going to be safe from humans and it is really hard to tell that unless you do large clinical trials like you would a drug, so there will be uncertainty about whether it could be harmful to some people.
"Ethically there are issues about mass producing animals in this way."
Professor Keith Campbell, a biologist at the University of Nottingham works with transgenic animals, said: "Genetically modified animals and plants are not going to be harmful unless you deliberately put in a gene that is going to be poisonous. Why would anyone do that in a food?
"Genetically modified food, if done correctly, can provide huge benefit for consumers in terms of producing better products."
The relief organization has distributed none of the $1 billion it has collected. The chief Cabinet secretary says the process must be streamlined.
By Julie Makinen and Kenji Hall Los Angeles Times 5:26 AM PDT, April 3, 2011
Japan's Red Cross has collected more than $1 billion in the first three weeks after the massive earthquake and tsunami but has yet to distribute any funds directly to victims, prompting Chief Cabinet Secretary Yukio Edano to urge Sunday that the process be accelerated.
Meanwhile, the operator of the crippled Fukushima nuclear power plant reported no significant progress in stopping the leak of radioactive water into the sea. Tokyo Electric Power Co. officials think the leak has been coming from a concrete pit holding power cables near reactor No. 2, and attempted Sunday to seal a crack there with a special polymer.
Edano said that the government was going to have independent experts retest the air and soil around the power plant and use that information to re-evaluate whether its current evacuation orders should be modified. Currently, the government has told residents living within 12 miles of the plant to evacuate, and has urged those living within 18 miles to leave or at least stay indoors as much as possible.
The government has come under renewed pressure from groups including Greenpeace to expand its evacuation area, but at the same time, residents who vacated the 12-mile zone have been seeking permission to return to their homes briefly to gather personal items. Officials in recent days have not shown signs of budging in either direction, and Edano said Sunday the current order will last "a long time," though he conceded it was "tough on residents."
The chief cabinet secretary added that the government had checked the thyroid function of 900 children up to age 15 in two villages, Iitate and Kawamata, just outside the 18-mile perimeter and none was found to have been exposed to high radiation levels. High levels of radiation have been detected in the water and on grass in Iitate. Edano said it was the third time that the government had conducted tests on children in areas just outside the 18-mile zone.
The official death toll from the March 11 disaster topped 12,000 on Sunday as about 25,000 U.S. and Japanese troops finished an intensive three-day effort to recover bodies. The search located 77 corpses, but more than 15,000 people are still officially listed as missing. Another 160,000 people remain in shelters.
The Red Cross has dispatched more than 200 emergency relief teams to the disaster zone and organized thousands of volunteers to assist victims. But no displaced people have received cash handouts from the pot of 870 billion yen collected by the Japanese Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies and the Central Community Chest of Japan.
In past disasters, independent panels in each prefecture have determined who gets such handouts and how much they get. Edano suggested that this time, the process must be streamlined.
"Normally donations are disbursed through local governments that rely on independent committees to decide on the conditions for dividing up the money," Edano said. "But this time, the central government has a role to play in setting up an independent committee" that will figure out how to split up donations.
Tomohide Atsumi, president of the Nippon Volunteer Network Active in Disaster, said the Red Cross has "a policy of equity and places a high value on equality, and it takes times to assess damages."
In contrast, he said, donations to nonprofit groups often get spent immediately. Atsumi said his organization used funds collected right after the disaster to buy underwear and other supplies for evacuees and charter a bus for volunteers to help victims in northern Japan.
Overall, he said, Japan is still learning how to strike the right balance between order and a more free-form approach in its disaster relief efforts. An overemphasis on organization and top-down decision making, he said, probably prevented more volunteers from going to the disaster zone more quickly and doing some good.
"The drive to be organized is very strong in our society… but people are not good at socially improvising," he said. "I like to use the metaphor of classical music vs. jazz. Our traditional disaster response is like classical music -- there's a conductor, a big orchestra, a fancy hall. Disaster relief should be more like jazz -- you can do something with one trumpeter, one drummer. You don't need a whole orchestra."
As the disaster zone has become more accessible, experts are learning more about the size and force of the massive tsunami.
A group of researchers led by Yoshinobu Tsuji of Tokyo University's Earthquake Research Institute has been studying the tsunami-hit area around Miyako, in Iwate prefecture. They found evidence that the waves could have been as high as 124 feet, according to public broadcaster NHK. That would make them the tallest waves to hit Japan's northeastern shore since 1896, when the tsunami waves recorded at Ofunato were 125 feet high.
"This tsunami was comparable to the  tsunami -- and it might have been bigger," Tsuji said.
Community group says it released "sky lanterns" last night
Sunday, Apr 3, 2011 | Updated 3:51 PM
Were the strange lights over Chicago’s Southwest Side last night the work of alien intelligence? Secret military test-flights? A bizarre, slow-moving meteor shower? The answer seems to be much more mundane than all that.
Nicole Dragozetich, 31, spotted the lights around 8 p.m. at 35th and Western. As she was heading to pick up her takeout dinner from a local restaurant, she noticed people standing in front of their homes, staring into the sky. So, she stopped to take a look herself, and immediately spotted a group of strange, slow-moving lights.
“You could see them – just moving down the street. And they took form. At one point, it looked like an arrow,” Dragozetich told CBS2Chicago.
Dragozetich said the lights were orange, at the pattern they made was at times symmetrical, at times not.
It turns out, an organization was holding a rally against child abuse nearby at 35th and Archer, and released several "sky lanterns" at 7:30 p.m. A representative of the group, known as the Baby James Foundation, told CBS he thinks that's what Dragozetich saw.