Wednesday, December 31, 2008

New York City Times Square Ball Drop

Ah here it is: watch 2009 live. Just made it. I tuned in at 33 seconds to go.


The 2009 cam isn't showing anything ... it should be 10 minutes from New York ball drop time because it is 8:50 PM here in CA. Anyway, here is the 2008 ball drop:

Gold, double your money in 4 years? Almost.

On 12-24-04, I purchased 2.5 ounces of gold coins for $1,170. ($468 per oz). Today, 12-31-08,  gold is $880.00 per oz, so my gold is now worth $2,200. Not bad. I think I'll sell the gold and buy platinum. Platinum is currently low.  Buy low, sell high. platinum is a widely-used although extremely rare metal, critically important to the auto industry, the jewelry trade, and the chemical, electrical and glass manufacturing industries. Far rarer than gold, it is estimated that all of the platinum ever mined throughout history would fit into a cube less than 25 feet on each side. The vast majority of platinum mined today comes from just two parts of the world: The Bushveld Complex north of Pretoria, South Africa and the Noril'sk-Talnakh region of Siberia in Russia, which produce, respectively, about two-thirds and one-quarter of the world's platinum supply each year.

Platinum's supply/demand fundamentals are tight. In fact, according to some estimates, if platinum mining were to cease today, there would be only about a year's supply available to industry. In contrast, above-ground supplies of gold would last nearly a quarter of a century. - monex

Scientists eye swarm of Yellowstone quakes

Were the more than 250 tremors a sign of something bigger to come?

CHEYENNE, Wyo. - Yellowstone National Park was jostled by a host of small earthquakes for a third straight day Monday, and scientists watched closely to see whether the more than 250 tremors were a sign of something bigger to come.

Swarms of small earthquakes happen frequently in Yellowstone, but it's very unusual for so many earthquakes to happen over several days, said Robert Smith, a professor of geophysics at the University of Utah.

"They're certainly not normal," Smith said. "We haven't had earthquakes in this energy or extent in many years." ... The strongest of dozens of tremors Monday was a magnitude 3.3 quake shortly after noon. All the quakes were centered beneath the northwest end of Yellowstone Lake.

A park ranger based at the north end of the lake reported feeling nine quakes over a 24-hour period over the weekend, according to park spokeswoman Stacy Vallie. No damage was reported. ... Yellowstone is the caldera of a volcano that last erupted 70,000 years ago. ... - msnbc

Check list:
Dust masks, goggles to protect eyes, canned foods, plenty of water, plastic wrap (for electronics), first aid kit and medications, radio with batteries, flashlights with batteries, wood for a fireplace or stove, blankets and warm clothing, cleaning supplies, cash (forget credit cards and ATM's in this situation), cell phone.

Supervolcano Yellowstone ash map

Eruptions of the Yellowstone volcanic system have included the two largest volcanic eruptions in North America in the past few million years; the third largest was at Long Valley in California and produced the Bishop ash bed. The biggest of the Yellowstone eruptions occurred 2.1 million years ago, depositing the Huckleberry Ridge ash bed. These eruptions left behind huge volcanic depressions called “calderas” and spread volcanic ash over large parts of North America (see map). If another large caldera-forming eruption were to occur at Yellowstone, its effects would be worldwide. Thick ash deposits would bury vast areas of the United States, and injection of huge volumes of volcanic gases into the atmosphere could drastically affect global climate.  - solcomhouse

Supervolcano Yellowstone

It is little known that lying underneath one of The United States largest and most picturesque National Parks - Yellowstone Park - is one of the largest "super volcanoes" in the world. - solcom

Volcanic ash (by itself) is not poisonous, but inhaling it may cause problems for people whose respiratory system is already compromised by disorders such as asthma or emphysema. The abrasive texture can cause irritation and scratching of the surface of the eyes. People who wear contact lenses should wear glasses during an ashfall, to prevent eye damage. Furthermore, the combination of volcanic ash with moisture in the lungs can create a substance akin to liquid cement. Therefore, people should take caution to filter the air they breathe with a damp cloth or a face mask when facing an ashfall. - wiki

Almost unheard-of: Boy Scout earns all 121 badges

badgesA Long Island teenager has earned all 121 merit badges offered by the Boy Scouts of America. It's an accomplishment the local arm of the organization calls "an almost unheard-of feat."

Oceanside resident Shawn Goldsmith earned his final badge - for bugling - in time for his 18th birthday in November. He far surpassed the 21 badges required to achieve the elite rank of Eagle Scout.

He said he took about five years to earn his first 62 badges and then nearly doubled that number in a matter of months. He did it with the encouragement of his grandmother, who died shortly before he reached his goal.

The Binghamton University freshman was awarded his final badges on Dec. 19. He said he hopes to become a businessman and politician. - pant

He's prepared.

Dallas woman rents billboard in desperate job hunt

WFAA-TVHere's a sign of the times: A Dallas woman has taken her job search to a billboard over North Central Expressway. Juli Sarpy paid $1,200 for a three-day ad promoting a "savvy chic stylopolitan fashion guru."

"I've never had anything like this," Sarpy said. "I've always been able to find something fairly quickly, and it just shows you how everyone is suffering."

Sarpy has a master's degree in public health and a bachelor's degree in political science.

She has been out of work for six months. - dallas

Hmm. That Russian guy might be right. Who hires a fashion guru these days? Perhaps a different career?  See: 73,000 retailers to close in first 1/2 of 2009

7-Eleven burritos recalled

See full size imageA Denver firm has recalled about 172 pounds of burritos that may be contaminated with Listeria monocyto genes, the U.S. Department of Agriculture's Food Safety and Inspection Service announced Tuesday.

The recall by Home Fresh Sandwich Distributors Inc. involved 5.3-ounce packages of "7-Eleven Fresh to Go burrito with potatoes, bacon, eggs & Montery Jack cheese" with a best by date of "Thursday 1225."

Consumers may have purchased these burrito products on Dec. 24 and 25. The food-safety service has received no reports of illnesses associated with consumption of this product. - denver

Strange genes in a Christmas burrito? That's a factory gate crashing ... oh, nevermind, this isn't Korea. Oh, they aren't genes, they are bacteria. The correct spelling is "Listeria monocytogenes". Read the Wiki article paying attention to the source of the bacterial contamination in a previous case and you'll never eat a 7/11 burrito again.

Sinkhole swallows Philadelphia Water Department truck

A Philadelphia Water Department truck collapsed into a sinkhole in Germantown this morning that was created by a water main break on Tuesday, officials said.

Pavement in the unit block of West Johnson Street began to crumble around 8 a.m. as the the maintenance truck, towing an air compressor, was backing down the street, said Jerry Stokes, a department assistant superintendent.
The work crew inside jumped out to safety and were unharmed as the rear wheels of the trucks fell into the initial hole, Stokes said.- philly


Man Rams Car Into Factory for Impurities in Noodle

A man in his mid-30s was caught crashing his car into a noodle factory and breaking down the front gate.

Busan Sasang Police Station said Wednesday it apprehended the driver, identified as Kim, on charges of destroying factory property.

According to police, Kim arrived at the factory's front gate at 6:10 p.m. Tuesday and asked the factory's janitor to call the firm's product quality manger. When the request was denied, he rammed his car into the front gate of the plant. During questioning, he said his four-year-old daughter fell sick after eating impurities found in instance noodles produced at the factory.

``This wouldn't have happened if the firm's manager had apologized,'' he said, asking police and the Korea Food and Drug Administration to investigate the alleged contamination. - ktimes

Seems like a reasonable response ... depending on what they mean by impurities. A few rocks probably wouldn't rate a gate smashing, but there are others that certainly would.

Smoking ban leads to major drop in heart attacks

A smoking ban in one Colorado city led to a dramatic drop in heart attack hospitalizations within three years, a sign of just how serious a health threat secondhand smoke is, government researchers said Wednesday. The study, the longest-running of its kind, showed the rate of hospitalized cases dropped 41 percent in the three years after the ban of workplace smoking in Pueblo, Colo., took effect. There was no such drop in two neighboring areas, and researchers believe it's a clear sign the ban was responsible.

The study suggests that secondhand smoke may be a terrible and under-recognized cause of heart attack deaths in this country, said one of its authors, Terry Pechacek of the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

At least eight earlier studies have linked smoking bans to decreased heart attacks, but none ran as long as three years. The new study looked at heart attack hospitalizations for three years following the July 1, 2003 enactment of Pueblo's ban, and found declines as great or greater than those in earlier research.

"This study is very dramatic," said Dr. Michael Thun, a researcher with the American Cancer Society.

"This is now the ninth study, so it is clear that smoke-free laws are one of the most effective and cost-effective to reduce heart attacks," said Thun, who was not involved in the CDC study released Thursday.

Smoking bans are designed not only to cut smoking rates but also to reduce secondhand tobacco smoke. It is a widely recognized cause of lung cancer, but its effect on heart disease can be more immediate. It not only damages the lining of blood vessels, but also increases the kind of blood clotting that leads to heart attacks. Reducing exposure to smoke can quickly cut the risk of clotting, some experts said.

"You remove the final one or two links in the chain" of events leading to a heart attack, Thun said.

Secondhand smoke causes an estimated 46,000 heart disease deaths and about 3,000 lung cancer deaths among nonsmokers each year, according to statistics cited by the CDC. ... - ap

I'm sick right now from secondhand smoke. I'm missing the New Year's fun and it hurts like hell every time I swallow. Given my pain, I think it would be self defense to attack someone and destroy the cigarettes if you can't physically get away from the poison they are spewing.

Smokers, this is how many of us feel:
... Quite frankly, I'd rather you took a punch at my nose. That I can see coming, and that I have a pretty fair chance at blocking, and even if I fail to block the consequences are likely to be less severe, and also if I believe offensive action in self defense (I think a Louisville Slugger is about appropriate for most, reserving firearms for only the most egregious actions ;-) ), then the standards of the community anywhere have no serious difficulties with such responses when you have chosen to initiate force that way ... - slc

New Year's Eve - My 24 day sore throat

Enjoying your last day of 2008? I'm sick with a raw painful sore throat. Not posting much, just sleeping all day.  See you next year.

Update: It has been 24 days and I still have a sore throat with white spots, and a bit of a cough. The strep test came back negative. Very odd.

Nick Redfern on the real men in black

Tuesday, December 30, 2008

Giant Baby, 14 pounds, born in US

A baby has been born in Orange County, California, weighing 14 pounds and two ounces 6.410 kg, double the weight of the average newborn.

Doctors said Richard Walker Sault, born two days before Christmas, was one of the biggest babies they have ever seen.

Baby Sault was delivered by caesarean section and both mother and child are said to be in good health.

However, his parents have had to exchange all his clothes for bigger sizes.

via BBC NEWS | World | Americas | Baby, 14 pounds, born in US.

Monday, December 29, 2008

List of Troubled Banks

Banks in Colorado, Maryland, Georgia and California top privately-prepared lists of troubled banks being circulated on Wall Street and in Washington.

While the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation (FDIC) is keeping secret its official list of 90 troubled banks, ABC News has obtained other lists prepared by several research groups and financial analysts.

The lists use versions of the so-called "Texas ratio" which compare a bank's assets and reserves to its non-performing loans, based on financial data made public by the FDIC in March.

Analysts say banks with a ratio over 100 per cent would be the most likely to fail, based on what happened to Texas savings and loans during the 1980's.

"That a fair measure," said Hal Scott, a Harvard law school professor specializing in banking law.

"It doesn't mean every one of those banks is going to become insolvent, but if you have more bad loans than assets, it's not a bad way to judge what could happen," Scott told ABC News. - abcnews

Russian Professor Predicts End of U.S.

For a decade, Russian academic Igor Panarin has been predicting the U.S. will fall apart in 2010. For most of that time, he admits, few took his argument -- that an economic and moral collapse will trigger a civil war and the eventual breakup of the U.S. -- very seriously. Now he's found an eager audience: Russian state media.

[Prof. Panarin]In recent weeks, he's been interviewed as much as twice a day about his predictions. "It's a record," says Prof. Panarin. "But I think the attention is going to grow even stronger."

Prof. Panarin, 50 years old, is not a fringe figure. A former KGB analyst, he is dean of the Russian Foreign Ministry's academy for future diplomats. He is invited to Kremlin receptions, lectures students, publishes books, and appears in the media as an expert on U.S.-Russia relations.

But it's his bleak forecast for the U.S. that is music to the ears of the Kremlin, which in recent years has blamed Washington for everything from instability in the Middle East to the global financial crisis. Mr. Panarin's views also fit neatly with the Kremlin's narrative that Russia is returning to its rightful place on the world stage after the weakness of the 1990s, when many feared that the country would go economically and politically bankrupt and break into separate territories.

A polite and cheerful man with a buzz cut, Mr. Panarin insists he does not dislike Americans. But he warns that the outlook for them is dire.

"There's a 55-45% chance right now that disintegration will occur," he says. "One could rejoice in that process," he adds, poker-faced. "But if we're talking reasonably, it's not the best scenario -- for Russia." Though Russia would become more powerful on the global stage, he says, its economy would suffer because it currently depends heavily on the dollar and on trade with the U.S.  ... - wsj

I doubt the USA will disintegrate unless we get the bad end of the stick in another world war.  I won't be surprised by another great depression, however, thanks to Bush looting the treasury to pay for his wars.

Oregon Govt. to GPS monitor all cars?

A year ago, the Oregon Department of Transportation announced it had demonstrated that a new way to pay for roads — via a mileage tax and satellite technology — could work.

Now Gov. Ted Kulongoski says he’d like the legislature to take the next step.

As part of a transportation-related bill he has filed for the 2009 legislative session, the governor says he plans to recommend “a path to transition away from the gas tax as the central funding source for transportation.” ... “The concept requires no transmission of vehicle travel locations, either in real time or of travel history,” the report said. “Accordingly, no travel location points are stored within the vehicle or transmitted elsewhere. Thus there can be no ‘tracking’ of vehicle movements.”

Also, the report said, under the Oregon concept of the program, “ODOT would have no involvement in developing the on-vehicle devices, installing them in vehicles, maintaining them or having any other access to them except, perhaps, in situations involving tampering or similar fee evasion activities.”

Equipment for the Oregon test was developed at Oregon State University...  - gtimes

They say they don't monitor locations or where you drive, but how would anyone verify that?  Here is an example of one GPS tracking device which seems to show exactly where you went and when.


To lift motorists, smiley masks for Thai police

BANGKOK: It is the latest version of the famous Thai smile - motorcycle policemen with a bright red goofy grin painted onto their white anti- pollution masks.

For the first week of the year - and longer if people seem to be smiling back - highway policemen in Thailand will wear the masks "to lift the mood of motorists," according to police officials.

"For our highway policemen, we have the policy that the police must be friendly and smiling all the time, but the problem is, when we're tired, it's hard to keep smiling," said Colonel Somyos Promnim, the Highway Police commander.

It has been a rough year in Thailand, with revolving governments, restless mobs and a weeklong takeover of Bangkok's airports that frightened away tourists from the country that keeps on calling itself "The Land of Smiles." ... - iht

Kind of scary, actually.

Out with the old...

Rather than spending the last few days trying to find someone to kiss on New Years Eve,--I'm the one out of five, I guess--I've been organizing, going through everything I own, throwing things away. I'm down to just this one pile of crap on my kitchen table, after several days work.

I've found some interesting things I thought were lost forever:  my Leatherman Micra tool, the Venus Vibrance vibrating women's razor I was going to give to a friend, a remote controlled flying disk, a Salvador Dali calendar, the rubber aligator from my friend BC in Florida, the Miller Planisphere for 40 degrees North latitude, Frankincense and Myrrh (yuck), my Albert Einstein action figure, a real looking Rodent of Unusual Size, and some odd books like "The Giza Death Star", David Icke's "The Biggest Secret", Jacques Vallee's "Fastwalker", Ruppert's "Crossing the Rubicon", and Sauder's "Underwater and Underground Bases".

Oh, and one of my favorite items, the coat hook that looks like a finger sticking out of your wall.

And speaking of "out with the old," hats off tonight for George, a Sacramento local who was, up until today, America's oldest man. The photo is from his 112th birthday!

George Francis, the nation's oldest man, who lived through both world wars, man's first walk on the moon and the election of the first black president, has died. He was 112. -msnbc

Xeno's Strange Views Poll

Thanks for telling your friends about this blog. The stats have lept up to around 4,000 visits in one day today and we've passed 400,000 hits. Any bets on when it will it 1/2 million?

Check the box if you agree, then click vote.

[polldaddy poll=1231485]

I don't like the font or how narrow this is, but I don't seem to be able to change it.

Leap second added to 2008

The world's official timekeepers have added a "leap second" to the last day of the year on Wednesday, to help match clocks to the Earth's slowing spin on its axis, which takes place at ever-changing rates affected by tides and other factors.

The U.S. Naval Observatory, keeper of the Pentagon's master clock, said it would add the extra second on Wednesday in coordination with the world's atomic clocks at 23 hours, 59 minutes and 59 seconds Coordinated Universal Time, or UTC. ...

UTC is the time scale kept by highly precise atomic clocks around the world, accurate to about a billionth of a second per day, the Naval Observatory says. For those with a need for precision timing, it has replaced Greenwich Mean Time, or GMT.

The decision to add or remove a second is the responsibility of the International Earth Rotation and Reference Systems Service, based on its monitoring of the Earth's rotation.

The goal is to make sure clocks vary from the Earth's rotational time by no more than 0.9 seconds before an adjustment. That keeps UTC in sync with the position of the sun above the Earth. ...

Among the reasons for Earth's slowing whirl on its axis are the braking action of tides, snow or the lack of it at the polar ice caps, solar wind, space dust and magnetic storms, according to the U.S. Commerce Department's National Institute of Standards and Technology, another timekeeper.

In 1970, an international agreement established two time scales: one based on the Earth's rotation and another on highly accurate atomic clocks.

The U.S. Naval Observatory's master clock is based on a system that now includes 50 atomic clocks, 36 based on the element cesium and 14 known as hydrogen masers.

With the Earth's rotation gradually slowing, the periodic insertion of a leap second into the atomic time scale is needed to keep the two systems within a second of each other. - nd

Sunday, December 28, 2008

Trying out Freenet, finding the TimeCube theory, neonazi's and terrorist manuals?

Tonight I'm trying something called Freenet, (0.7) an anonymous encrypted network running over the Internet. I downloaded the 3MB file for Windows and ran the install. Then I removed the service following the instructions here:

Freenet is slow, really slow. After turning off the auto-start and running from my desktop, I gave up after 20 minutes of waiting. But before that, when it was running as a service, I found some info.

Freenet blogs are called flogs.  What do people blog about on an anonymous encrypted network? Some of the more eye raising examples of flogs in the text index:

There were plenty of boring sounding blog titles too. The only one I visited was Occam's Rasor. It runs in FireFox and looks like any other web page, but with a long URL pointing at your own computer.

I'll check out the TimeCube if I get it working again, but then I'll probably delete the whole thing since there is quite a bit of terrorist stuff.  I don't want to support a network that helps people learn how to make poisons and bombs, obviously.

But the point is, this exists. And the way it works, you supposedly can't track down who posted the stuff or who is reading it. This is only scary because we are still a morally primitive species.

Ah, the TimeCube site finally loaded. Mr. or Ms. Ray is paranoid and bigoted, but certainly someone who thinks outside of the box. Here is an interesting graphic from the site:


Gene writes:
You are not allowed to know truth - that in one rotation of Earth, there are: ... There are 4 simultaneous 24 hour days  within a single rotation of the Earth.  You may be too damn evil to accept it. ... I lectured and debated at MIT, and have 2 hour video  proof. You are but mindless dumb asses. - freenet

No need for freenet, you can find this on the regular Interent as well.

Gene, the Voyager spacecraft and many other probes would have registered the time distortion as they left the Earth's time cube if your theory were correct. Please email me to arrange payment of my $1000. - Xeno

U.K. seeks to rein in Internet

Andy BurnhamCulture secretary mulls film-style ratings

The U.K. government is looking to impose tough restrictions on websites in the coming year .

Blighty’s culture secretary Andy Burnham said he intended to tighten controls on English-language websites and that he would negotiate with incoming U.S. president Barack Obama’s team to present a united front against indecency, violence, libel and copyright theft on the Web.

“The change of administration (in the U.S.) is a big moment. We have got a real opportunity to make common cause,” Burnham told U.K. newspaper the Daily Telegraph on Saturday. “The more we seek international solutions to this stuff -- the U.K. and the U.S. working together -- the more that an international norm will set an industry norm.” ...

He said the freedoms hitherto enjoyed on the Internet may have to be constrained.

“If you look back at the people who created the Internet, they talked very deliberately about creating a space that governments couldn’t reach. I think we are having to revisit that stuff seriously now,” he said.

Keep kids safe, but as to the rest of your plans: Restrict this, buddy. No government or company owns the Internet. You may not regulate what is not yours.  If you or anyone else tries to constrain Internet freedom, you will be ignored or bypassed:
The third generation of peer-to-peer networks are those that have anonymity features built in. Examples of anonymous networks are ANts P2P, RShare, Freenet, I2P, GNUnet and Entropy.

...  in countries where very fast fiber-to-the-home Internet access is commonplace, such as Japan, a number of anonymous file-sharing clients have already reached high popularity.... Additionally all transfers are encrypted, so that even the network administrators cannot see what was sent to whom. Example software includes WASTE, JetiANts, Tor and I2P. These clients differ greatly in their goals and implementation. WASTE is designed only for small groups and may therefore be considered Darknet; ANts and I2P are public Peer-to-Peer systems, with anonymization provided exclusively by routing reach. -wiki

"First Contact With Inner Earth": Drillers Strike Magma

Magma is the liquid rock inside volcanoes. After it erupts from a volcano, magma is called lava.  Photo: uktv
A drilling crew recently cracked through rock layers deep beneath Hawaii and accidentally became the first humans known to have drilled into magma—the melted form of rock that sometimes erupts to the surface as lava—in its natural environment, scientists announced this week. "This is an unprecedented discovery," said Bruce Marsh, a volcanologist from Johns Hopkins University in Maryland, who will be studying the find.

Normally, he said, volcanologists have to do "postmortem studies" of long-solidified magmas or study active lava during volcanic eruptions.

But this time they'd found magma in its natural environment—something Marsh described as nearly as exciting as a paleontologist finding a dinosaur frolicking on a remote island.

"This is my Jurassic Park," he said at a meeting of the American Geophysical Union meeting in San Francisco.

First Contact

The find was made 1.5 miles (2.5 kilometers) underground during exploratory drilling for geothermal energy.

The crew hit something unusual during routine operations at the Puna Geothermal Venture, owned by Ormat Technologies, Inc., of Reno, Nevada.

When the workers tried to resume drilling, they discovered that magma had risen about 25 feet (8 meters) up the pipe they'd inserted.

The rock solidified into a clear glassy substance, apparently because it chilled quickly after hitting groundwater.

Scientists had long known that magma chambers must lie in the vicinity of the drill site.  ...

In addition, researchers found that the magma is made of dacite, a type of rock that's a precursor to granite, rather than the basalt that forms most of Hawaii.

"If we had hit basalt, that would not have been a big surprise," said William Teplow, a consulting geologist at U.S. Geothermal, Inc., who is assisting on the project.

Scientists have long believed that dacite can separate from basaltic magma to form granitic rocks. But they'd never expected to see the process in operation.

"This may be the first time that the generation of granite has actually been observed taking place in nature," Teplow said. "This is important because it's the process that differentiates the continental granitic crust from the more primitive oceanic basaltic crust." ...  It might even be possible to do experiments inside the magma.

"This could be the first magma observatory in the Earth," Marsh said. "This is a singular event of first contact with inner Earth, where magma lives."

Economical Power

With an estimated temperature of 1,900°F (1,050°C), the magma is also valuable as a high-quality heat source for geothermal energy production. ... - natgeo

Magma power is free clean energy. Let's do it.
To extract energy from magma resources requires drilling near or directly into a magma chamber and circulating water down the well in a convection- type system. California has two areas that may be magma resource sites: the Mono- Long Valley Caldera and Coso Hot Springs Known Geothermal Resource Areas. -

Long Valley Caldera cross section.jpgMagma power is the production of electricity from shallow magma bodies. Before magma becomes a practical source of power, many engineering problems must still be solved. When they are solved, the most likely site for the first magma power plant is Long Valley, California, USA. In this paper, we examine the greenhouse benefits from developing Long Valley. By generating magma power and by curtailing an equal amount of fossil power, we estimate the expected mass and the expected discounted value of reduced CO2 emissions. For both measures, the expected benefits seem to be substantial. - wiley

Israeli air raids on the Gaza Strip continue - 28 Dec 08

For a second day, Israeli aircraft have pounded what they say are Hamas targets in Gaza. The death toll has risen to at least 280, among them women and children. Hamas has vowed not to cave in, but Israel's operation could soon escalate. Tanks have massed at the Gazan border, and Ehud Olmert's office says military reservists are being mobilised. The UN Security Council has demanded an immediate end to the violence, and Egypt is trying to broker a ceasefire. But the airs raids are continuing... - yt

Stupid humans. If killing innocent people actually worked as a means to solve disputes, the Middle East would be the most peaceful place on the planet.

In my upcoming movie, Golden Rule, alien ships appear over the Earth in a gold ship for a period of seven years, during which time, due to advanced alien technology everyone gets what they intend to give. Anyone who pulls a trigger or pushes a button with intent to kill dies instantly, but they experience their own death in the manner they would have caused the other person to die.

This accomplishes a surgical removal of greed and murderous impulses from the human race and it gets our evolution on the right track again.

Saturday, December 27, 2008

Supersonic fighters could snuff out hurricanes

A Russian professor at an Ohio university has applied to patent a method for snuffing out hurricanes by flying jet fighters around the eye of the storm at supersonic speeds. Professor Arkadii Leonov and his collaborator Atanas Gagov both of Akron Uni actually filed their patent application "Hurricane Suppression by Supersonic Boom" last year. It was unearthed by the New Scientist patents column this week.

Given their nature, supersonic booms are potentially very efficient in hurricane/typhoon suppression, mitigation and/or elimination. This is because, while not wishing to be bound to any one theory, supersonic booms destabilize and/or destroy the two major dynamic features of a hurricane/typhoon - steady maximum rotational speed in the eye wall area and the pressure deficiency located at/near a hurricane's/typhoon's vertical axis of revolution. For example, two F-4 jet fighters flying at approximately Mach 1.5 are sufficient, in one embodiment, to suppress, mitigate and/or destroy a typical sized hurricane/typhoon. Of course, larger or smaller hurricanes/typhoons may necessitate the need for more or less supersonic capable aircraft.

The profs don't specify how long the two Phantoms would have to circle the eye in order to choke off the hurricane, but this could be a problem. Most supersonic jets need to use afterburners to go faster than Mach 1, which uses up their fuel very rapidly. There are a few planes, for instance the new F-22 Raptor (and the appropriately-named Eurofighter Typhoon) which can "supercruise" - fly supersonic without afterburner - but this still uses fuel quickly compared to subsonic flight.

Even if you had supercruising jets, they might not be able to stay fast for long at the altitudes required by Leonov and Gagov. Some at least of the proposed flight plans call for low-altitude work above the sea. A diagram attached to the patent app suggests that fighters might have to fly as many as six circuits of a storm centre, on an elliptical track 600 by 100 km in dimension. This does seem likely to mean that fuel endurance would be an issue.

Anyway, technical questions like this rather pale into insignificance beside the obvious one. Why patent such an idea, as opposed to say writing an academic paper? Do Leonov and Gagov hope to charge fees to governments using "their" proprietary hurricane-busting tactic? ...

via Supersonic fighters could snuff out hurricanes • The Register.

I've read several things over the years about Russian weather weapons (earthquakes, lightning, tornadoes, etc.), but I don't think any weather attack by one country on another has ever been proven. If there is enough energy to disrupt a hurricane, wouldn't it follow that they could also start one?

Human Lungs Kept Alive Outside of Body

lungskeptaliveClick here to watch the video of a dead person's lungs being kept alive and reconditioned for transplant into a living person.

Toronto XVIVO Lung Perfusion System

The donor lungs are carefully transferred to a protective, transparent bubble-like chamber. A series of precise steps are followed when connecting the donor lungs to the circuit--composed of a pump, ventilator and filters--which flow oxygen, nutrients and a special solution. The temperature is incrementally increased until it reaches 37 degrees Celsius over about 30 minutes, and ventilation of the lungs is begun during that time. Lung function is evaluated regularly on key indicators, such as how easily the lungs can exchange oxygen, airway pressure and lung compliance. -

See: Physorg

Seeing someone's lungs breathing outside of their now gone body, I can't help but wonder just how far are we from Mary Shelley's Frankenstein. We can transplant: "heart, kidney, liver, lungs, intestine, eyes, pancreas, bones, bone marrow, skin, connective tissue, middle ear, blood vessels" (link) ... what is missing? An entire brain hasn't been officially transplanted, but human brain cells have. Anus transplants are also possible and one was done by accident. What else? Scalp hair (yes). Middle ears (yes, but needs electronic device?)  Spleens (not yet).

Summary:  Advances continue, but we aren't quite there yet. Give it 50 years.
2000: First Womb Transplant: Dr. Wafa Fageeh at King Fahad Hospital and Research Centre in Jeddah, Saudi Arabia, transplants the uterus of a 46-year-old into a 26-year-old woman. The uterus produces two menstrual periods before it fails after three months and has to be removed.

2003: First Jawbone Transplant: Surgeons at Rome's Istituto Regina Elena transplant a mandible from the body of a 39-year-old man into an 80-year-old man who has advanced cancer of the mouth.

2003: First Tongue Transplant: A team of Austrian doctors at Vienna's General Hospital performs a 14-hour tongue transplant on a 42-year-old man suffering from a malignant tumor affecting his tongue and jaw.

2004: First Ankle Transplant: In August, a team of Italian surgeons led by Dr. Sandro Giannini, transplanted the ankle of a 17-year-old boy (who had died in a car accident) into Silvano Bordon, a 48-year-old rally driver, who had lost mobility of his foot in an accident in 1991.

2005: First Partial Face Transplant: On November 27, maxillofacial surgeon Dr. Bernard Devauchelle and a team of surgeons performed the world's first partial face transplant at a hospital in Amiens, in northern France. They grafted a nose, lips, and chin onto a 38-year-old woman, Isabelle Dinoire, who had been disfigured by a dog bite received in May 2005.

2006: First Penis Transplant: Dr. Weilie Hu and surgeons at Guangzhou General Hospital in China performed a penis transplant on a 44-year-old man whose penis had been damaged in a traumatic accident. The donor was a 22-year-old man. Ten days after the surgery, the man had been able to urinate normally. However, the penis was removed two weeks later due to "a severe psychological problem of the recipient and his wife." There had been no signs of rejection.

2008: First Double Arm Transplant: Between July 25 and 26, doctors at Germany's Munich University Clinic spent 15 hours grafting a pair of arms onto Karl Merk, a 54-year-old farmer who had lost his arms just below the shoulder in the accident six years ago. By the time of a follow-up news item in October 2008, there had been no signs of rejection, and he could perform simple tasks, like opening doors and turning on light switches. - medhunters

Friday, December 26, 2008

Mistletoe extract fights cancer "For the production of Iscador, mistletoe plants are harvested in the summer -- the stems and leaves -- and in the winter -- the stems, leaves and berries -- and then are fermented with lactobacillus," Renatus Ziegler, a research scientist at Institute Hiscia in Arlesheim, Switzerland, told Discovery News.

Various species of lactobacillus, a type of bacteria, are also used in the production of many foods and drinks such as yogurt, beer, wine and pickles.

Ziegler and co-author Ronald Grossarth-Maticek studied cervical and ovarian cancer patients to see how they might benefit in the long run if mistletoe extracts, such as Iscador, were added to their treatment regimes.

Ziegler explained that, "mistletoe is an old medical drug in Europe, particularly in Germany, and goes back at least to Hippocrates."

"The exact mechanism of its (healing) actions are not known," she said, adding that prior studies, both on animals and in the lab, have indicated it curbs the growth of cancerous tumors.

Holiday celebrants, however, should never just munch on mistletoe ... Kienle told Discovery News, "There is good evidence that (Viscum album) improves the quality of life of patients, and moderate evidence that it prolongs life and can induce tumor remission using high dosage and local application." - discovery

Isn't it deadly if you eat it? Probably not.
In reality, studies show that mistletoe is not quite as hazardous as it is made out to be. The plant does in fact contain harmful chemicals like viscotoxins, which can cause gastrointestinal distress, a slowed heartbeat and other reactions.

But in studies of hundreds of cases of accidental ingestion over the years, there were no fatalities and only a handful of severe reactions. One study published in 1996 looked at 92 cases of mistletoe ingestion and found that only a small fraction of patients showed any symptoms. Eight of 10 people who consumed five or more berries had no symptoms, and 3 of the 11 people who consumed only leaves had upset stomachs.

Other studies have found similar effects, suggesting that while mistletoe can be toxic, its lethal reputation is not quite deserved.  -spi

Uses for Peppermint

Gas? Try peppermint.
Peppermint is widely used as a food, flavoring, and disinfectant. As a medicine, peppermint is most well known for its effects on the stomach and intestines. Perhaps you've tried the various "tummy teas" available for stomach upset. Peppermint is a tasty way to relieve gas, nausea, and stomach pain due to an irritable bowel, intestinal cramps, or indigestion.

Peppermint can be used as an herbal remedy to relieve gas and nausea due to indigestion.Peppermint is a carminative -- an agent that dispels gas and bloating in the digestive system -- and an antispasmodic capable of relieving stomach and intestinal cramps. Peppermint can be used for too much stomach acid (hyperacidity) and gastroenteritis (nausea and stomach upset that we sometimes call stomach flu),... - hsw

Some researchers now advise consumers to eat a tablespoon or more of fresh peppermint, and other green herbs, daily....

"Most of the (effective) species are really from the family Lamiaceae, or mint family," Pavel Kloucek, a scientist at the Czech University of Life Sciences in Prague, told Discovery News.

Kloucek and his team analyzed several essential oils to see how well they could, in vapor form, kill the bacteria responsible for Listeria, Staph, E. coli, and Salmonella infections, and more.

While peppermint's germ-killing powers have been previously documented, the new study is the first to report the antimicrobial activity of two other mint family members -- Mentha villosa and Faassen's catnip -- along with another non-mint herb, bluebeard.

Essential oils for horseradish, garlic, hyssop, basil, marjoram, oregano, winter savory, and three types of thyme also showed potent bacteria-busting abilities.

The findings have been accepted for publication in the journal Food Control. - discovery

How to Increase Your Lifespan

Avoid dying in a car accident, etc. Also, you need the right genes, but no matter what the DNA lottery has given you, the following are keys to a long healthy life: Eat right, exercise, get enough sleep, meditate/relax, stay thin and have orgasms.

We know that increased insulin sensitivity is linked to a long healthy life. The ways to increase insulin sensitivity are also tips for extending life and improving health. Here are some adapted from diabitieslife:
1) Exercise: Regular physical activity such as aerobics and strength training increase your cells' sensitivity to insulin. You should aim for 20-60 minutes of aerobic activity 3-5 days per week.

2) Diet: Avoid excess carbohydrates (especially low fiber, refined white grains and sugary foods/ beverages), but know your metabolic type and eat accordingly. Eat protein-rich foods (tofu, fish, chicken, lean meat, low fat cottage cheese, and eggs. Other good stuff: Eat a variety of whole grains, legumes, and vegetables (especially dark-green, leafy vegetables) every day.  omega-3 ( plus full-spectrum vitamin E to break it down), magnesium, cinnamon.

4) Don't over eat. Get the right calories.  Calorie reduction (but not too much) can increase lifespan if you get adequate nutrients at the same time. Some eat 20 percent to 30 percent less than recommended, ( but these people always feel hungry, and have less sex drive, so they have a lower quality of life? ) In any case, avoid sugar, saturated fats and most dairy.

3) Don't be overweight: Even as little as a 10 % reduction in weight can help improve your cells' insulin sensitivity. To lose weight safely and effectively, reduce your total calorie intake by about 500 calories each day.

4) De-stress: Stress hormones (e.g. cortisol) increase insulin levels. Practice daily relaxation exercises.

5) Enough Sleep:   Inadequate sleep increases insulin levels, so get to bed at a reasonable hour.

Also, have orgasms. For men this is the best preventative care option for prostate cancer, and for both sexes, sex is extremely beneficial for our health. One key is that orgasms release oxytocin.
During the big moment, the hypothalamus releases extra oxytocin into your system. Called the "cuddle hormone," oxytocin has been correlated with the urge to bond, be affectionate, and protect (new moms are drunk on the stuff). ... The latest news is that this cuddle hormone might also be linked to our ability to trust. - yahoo

It also shuts down the brain, but only when real, not when faked.

Some other benefits of oxytocin adapted from the reuniting site:
- reduces cravings (Billings, 2006)
- has a calming effect (Agren, 2002)
- increases sexual receptivity and counteracts impotence. (Pedersen, C.A., 2002)
- counteracts the effects of cortisol, the stress hormone. (Legros, 2003) Less stress means increased immunity and faster recovery. [also] high levels of cortisol are the chief culprits in depression and anxiety disorders.

Have FOXO3A gene, live to be a centenarian

SCIENTISTS HAVE a discovered a ’long life’ gene amongst human beings, which triples the chances of living for 100 years.

The gene identified as FOXO3A has important implications on prolonging the life span of people. Researchers said that the gene not only ensures longevity amongst individuals but also ensures that they suffer less risk of age-related diseases and disabilities. - merinews

Long-lived men also presented several additional phenotypes linked to healthy aging, including lower prevalence of cancer and cardiovascular disease, better self-reported health, and high physical and cognitive function, despite significantly older ages than controls. Several of these aging phenotypes were associated with FOXO3A genotype. Long-lived men also exhibited several biological markers indicative of greater insulin sensitivity and this was associated with homozygosity for the FOXO3A GG genotype. - pnas, colinf The gene, labeled FOXO3A, was identified by Kuakini Medical Center and Pacific Health Research Institute investigators. They studied biological specimens and clinical data collected and maintained at Kuakini since 1965 on 8,006 Japanese-American men recruited for the Honolulu Heart Program and Honolulu-Asia Aging study.

... No other study has been done so long or in such detail on such a large group of men, Willcox said. About 1,000 are still living, ranging from 89 to 107 years old, he said. ...

"We then calculated how the DNA bases found at three locations on each gene were correlated with a comprehensive set of health criteria, including chronic diseases, disability and insulin levels."

The results were "very surprising and exciting," he said.

One location on the FOXO3A gene stood out, he said. Of the four chemical bases in the DNA code - adenine (A), guanine (G), cytosine (C) and thymine (T) - most participants had the base T on both chromosomes at that location, he said. those who had the G base instead of T when they were originally examined had better health, he said. And 15 years later the G base was more prominent in men who averaged 98 years old than those who reached only an average age of 78, suggesting it was a factor in survival, Willcox said.

The researchers also found those who were carriers of the G allele (an alternative form of a gene) doubled their chances of living an average 98 years and some as long as 106 years. Men who had two G copies almost tripled their odds of living nearly a century and were healthier at older ages, according to the study. - starb

So really, what this study has found is that FOXO3A is a master regulator of the many little genes that have been implicated in ageing. Which was already expected based on homology, but it turns out this is really true in humans. And with a very strong correlation too - now we just have to investigate this further. Does it have this effect in women? Can we extend the lifespan of mice by genetic interventions, perhaps changing the alleles of this gene? And will this allow us to extend human lifespan past 100-120 years? - hplus

... the "survivor" version of the gene was associated with significantly lower fasting insulin and a reduced risk of heart disease. ... maintaining good insulin sensitivity is a prerequisite for membership of the hard-core grey hair brigade...  researchers argue that FOXO3A probably influences life expectancy primarily through an effect on insulin regulation, which fits plausibly with its known role in the insulin signaling pathway. - sciblogs

This is all interesting, but what can we DO about it? In my next post I'll investigate how to increase your insulin sensitivity.

Insulin sensitivity and long life Scientists have known since the 1930s that yeast and many animal species live 30 to 50 percent longer when they are fed a spartan diet, containing about one-third fewer calories than normal. One frequently observed effect of this extreme diet is an improved sensitivity to insulin. This sensitivity causes the body to produce less of the hormone. At the other extreme, people with type 2 diabetes have poor insulin sensitivity, so their bodies ramp up insulin production to compensate.

Blackwell and his colleagues studied how insulin regulates a protein called SKN-1 in roundworms. This protein orchestrates a family of detoxification enzymes that protect cells by removing free radicals--vandals of the cellular world that can shorten life span. The team found that insulin decreases the activity of SKN-1, throttling down these detoxification enzymes and leaving cells less protected.

Boosting SKN-1 levels by adding extra copies of the gene for SKN-1 extended the worms' life spans by 25 to 30 percent, the researchers report in the March 21 Cell.

"The fact that having more SKN-1 around is sufficient to extend life span is a very important result," comments Matt Kaeberlein, a longevity researcher at the University of Washington in Seattle. "That's proof that SKN-1 is really involved in aging."

A study published last year in Nature did show that SKN-1 within nerve cells in roundworms' heads is essential for the life-extending effects of calorie restriction (SN: 6/30/07, p.414), but the new study shows a variant of the protein in the gut influences aging in a different way--one that's controlled by insulin.

One explanation for why insulin appears to shorten an animal's life span could be that insulin requires an oxidizing chemical environment--friendly to free radicals--to do its primary function of regulating blood sugar. To disarm free radicals, the detoxification enzymes create the opposite environment, a reducing one. So the body might be trading a bit of cellular damage for the sake of improving insulin's ability to do its job, Blackwell suggests. - findarticles

Is Sleeping Good for the Heart?

For those who are always looking for an excuse to sleep in, or sleep more, your search is not in vain: According to new Sleep Lossresearch, hours spent sleeping protects against calcium deposits in the coronary arteries -- the deposits responsible for heart attacks.

A study published this week in the Journal of the American Medical Association by Christopher King and colleagues from the University of Chicago has found a relationship between sleep quantity (hours spent asleep) and calcium build up -- or calcification -- in the arteries that supply the heart muscle with blood.

For each additional hour of sleep, the risk of calcification of the coronary arteries decreased by 33 percent -- an outcome equal to reducing blood pressure by 16 point elevations.  ... This report focused on nearly 500 patients at the Chicago CARDIA site. - abcnews

Right, and for those who have been paying attention, there was this story in 2002:
Person asleepEight hours' sleep a night has long been touted as the ideal length of time to spend under the duvet but new research suggests it could shorten your life.

A study that included more than a million participants found people who sleep eight hours or more died younger.

Those who only managed four or less hours in the land of nod were similarly affected but six or seven hours a night was found to be conducive to a longer life.

The research, carried out by scientists at the University of California, showed a clear association between long duration sleep and high mortality rates. ... The US study showed that a group sleeping eight hours were 12% more likely to die within the six year period covered by the study than those sleeping seven hours.

The study, involving 1.1million people was the first large-scale population study of sleep to take into account variables such as age, diet, exercise, previous health problems and risk factors such as smoking.

The study also found that occasional bouts of insomnia were not linked to higher death rates.

However, it concluded that people who take sleeping pills are more likely to die earlier. - bbc

So,  which is it?  How long should we be sleeping? I'm sticking with 7 hours because that study had a larger sample size. I'm sleepy now. Hope you all had a nice X-Mas. - Xeno.

Thursday, December 25, 2008

An elephant painted this

An elephant painted this, originally uploaded by xeno735.

Update: Okay, dogsounds, here is some proof: a different but very similar painting of an elephant by an elephant. I'm guessing by the same elephant.

More info:

Asian Elephant Art &...

The elephant was taught how to paint elephants, but I still find it amazing. Humans have to be taught how to paint humans, too.

CAMP: Maetaman Elephant Camp

ART TEACHER: Khun Tossapol Petcharattanakool

At eight years old, Hong maintains a very curious nature. She loves to investigate everything and once managed to use her trunk to open the door of a truck. This kind of curiosity made Hong a natural candidate for artistic instruction.

Two years ago, Hong began painting with her mahout, Noi Rakchang, and has steadily developed her skills. After learning how to paint flowers, she moved on to more advanced paintings. She now has two specialties. One is an elephant holding flowers with her trunk, and the other is the Thai flag. An elephant with so much control and dexterity is capable of amazing work. Just for clarification, with these realistic figural works, the elephant is still the only one making the marks on the paper but the paintings are learned series of brushstrokes not Hong painting a still life on her own.

We are sure that as Hong continues to investigate her artistic side, her paintings will become even more beautiful. - elephantart

Could non-human primates could be taught to paint their own likenesses?

Orangutan translates as "forest person" and this Primate is

the 2nd largest Ape - mature adults can weigh over 300lbs.

Orangutan - watercolour animal painting

The above is by a human, but seeing what an elephant can do, I wonder.

Wednesday, December 24, 2008

The Christmas Song on the Eve of

I've re-recorded the Christmas song tonight (listen: box on the left) with better  jazz chords.

Also added a new test of some guitar goofing around with the DM tuned down to C#.

I'm loving how fast I can post audio of reasonable sound quality with this set up. I played a 6-String acoustic Martin DM and recorded this on an Olympus DS-30 on the ST XQ /"conf" setting with the recorder about 2 ft away from me.  Used "Free MP3 Wma Converter V1.8"  to convert the WMA to MP3 44,100 kHz; Stereo;  128 Kbps, then uploaded to using the Wordpress wiget.

Tuesday, December 23, 2008

Review: The Day The Earth Stood Still

My friends are out of town or busy, so tonight I took myself on a date to see the new  "Day the Earth Stood Still". It was entertaining, but as the usher who had seen it twice told me, it's not a really great movie. I own the original and it was fun to see what elements they kept and what got modernized.

For sci-fi fans The Day The Earth Stood Still, starring Keanu Reeves, opens in cinemas on Friday.I enjoyed the special effects but there were a few problems with the plot like the absent president and vice president of the USA and honestly, the kid was too unlikable and annoying.

I felt like the end of this movie was missing. There should have been an  instruction manual that Klaatu leaves us in the end that man must follow or be destroyed.

He might have included a way to build a clean energy source, what to do about religion, how to genetically alter our species for the better to make us live longer and healthier and kill each other less. How to make fresh water cheaply from ocean water would also be helpful.  He could have undone the effects of global warming and cleaned up the polluton on the way out too.  But no, he just left. He wanted to save the Earth from humans, but he did a poor job of it. I wasn't convnced that our species had learned from this enough to stop destroying the planet.

Will he be back if we don't clean up our act?

Thai 'Scorpion Queen' sets new record

Thailand's self-proclaimed 'Scorpion Queen' created a new world record by holding a live 18-centimetre scorpion in her mouth for more than two minutes.

Kanchana Kaetkaew, 39, made her record attempt in front of a crowd at a shopping mall in Pattaya.

She held the poisonous arachnid in her mouth for two minutes and three seconds before spitting it out.

Kanchana then went on to begin her second world record attempt, entering a glass compound where she hopes to stay for 33 days and nights along with 5,000 scorpions in order to beat her record of 32 days set in 2002.

In 2006 Kanchana hit the headlines when she married the country's 'Centipede King'.

via Thai 'Scorpion Queen' sets new record - ABC News (Australian Broadcasting Corporation).

Rudolf Schenker was unavailable for comment.

The Grinch is real: Huge candy cane stolen

A Grinch-like — but apparently strong — thief has made off with an 80-pound vintage candy cane sculpture from the roof of Testa's restaurant.

The custom piece was one of four identical holiday accents on display above the Royal Poinciana Way eatery when it was snatched sometime between 10 p.m. Thursday and 1:30 a.m. Friday, according to a police report.

"The decoration has a body made of three metal stove-like exhaust pipes," the report states. "The two outside pipes are striped red and white and the middle pipe is striped green and white. The decoration has a large black sheet metal bow and a plaster painted face."

The sculpture was wired in place and apparently was taken by a thief or thieves who made it to the top of the building using a ladder on the property behind a 12-foot locked metal fence.

The decorations have been in the family, and on annual display, since 1947, according to Joe Scheerer, a member of the family that owns and operates the island mainstay.

"They were from an Orange Bowl parade," he said. "My great-grandfather bought them." ... -palmb

As the economy continues to get worse, people are stealing everything ... even Jesus.

The creepy Gnome and other creatures and monsters of 2008[Bigfoot:] ... two dolts in Georgia ...  claimed they had a dead creature in a freezer and which turned out to be a costume. Meanwhile, the real Sasquatch stomped all over North America in 2008, triggering sightings: on Mount Cheam in British Columbia; in Northwestern Ontario; at Skiff Lake in Canada; on the Telkwa Highroad, Moricetown, British Columbia; on Highway 101, near Willits, California; and even near Redding in the U.K. And as far as physical evidence goes, researchers found and examined Yeti hair; several footprints, including in Nepal; and a rare fingerprint.  ... Nessie appeared in a new video captured in April by father and son David and Graham Garside.  ... The unusual "creature" that received the widest viewing in 2008, thanks to YouTube and similar viral video outlets, was the so-called "Creepy Gnome", videoed in Salta, Argentina. It was most likely just a small person in a costume, but its weird side-stepping movement freaked out a lot of people. Creatures took to the air, as well. In the early hours of February 23, a driver in Pennsylvania was startled by a huge, bird-like thing that hovered above his vehicle. Living dinosaurs made appearances, too. In August, it was reported that a large, reptilian creature had been seen on several occasions in the 1990s and 2000s on Umbungi Island in West New Britain, Papua New Guinea. There were chupacabras sightings as well, in Michigan and Brazil.  ... and keep a heads up for those flying humanoids of Mexico.  ... the Vatican said it was ok to believe in aliens. ... [and] a board-certified psychiatrist and associate professor of clinical psychiatry at New York Medical College claimed to document an authentic case of demonic possession. - about

Monday, December 22, 2008

5 Convicted of Plotting to Kill Fort Dix Soldier

... in truth the verdict is a significant victory for the federal

An artist's drawing showing defendants Shain Duka, bottom left, Eljvir Duka, Dritan Duka, Mohamad Ibrahim Shnewer and Serdar Tatar in a federal courtroom in Camden, N.J.

government, and not just because the conspiracy conviction is likely to put the men away for life, when U.S. District Judge Robert Kugler sentences them in April. It proves that the government can convince a jury to support the idea of pre-emptively prosecuting terrorism cases — a risky strategy that has yielded mixed results in the past.

100px-talwar_hindu_sxvii... Since 9/11, the FBI has begun using legions of Muslim or Arabic informants, many of them illegal immigrants with criminal records, to try to root out radicals before they strike. But the strategy has led to accusations that the informants are themselves hatching the crime, a charge that hung over the entire Fort Dix proceedings....

In the case, the FBI used two informants ... Under the direction of the FBI, the informant befriended Mohamed Shnewer and his friends, Dritan, Shain and Eljvir Duka and Serdar Tatar. For 16 months, he recorded conversations with the men, some of which included vague allusions to jihad and an ill-formed plan to attack the Fort Dix military base. The men watched jihadist videos and took trips to a shooting range.

Omar drove one of the defendants to do surveillance of possible targets, and he offered to buy illegal weapons for the group. No attack was carried out, but the defendants were arrested in May 2007 after two of them attempted to buy automatic weapons. For his efforts, Omar was paid $240,000, and the government is likely to help him stay in the United States.

The other informant, Besnik Bakalli, was awaiting deportation when the feds asked him to infiltrate the group as well. On the stand, Bakalli admitted that he once shot a man in a family feud in his native Albania. He was paid $13,000 and is also likely to be staying in the U.S. in exchange for his service.

Informants are common in drug and other criminal cases. But they pose a special challenge in terrorism cases, where the government cannot afford to wait for the plot to play out before making arrests. As a result, the prosecution relies heavily on the informants — who often have powerful incentives to keep the case going. "Obviously, the model worked to achieve a conviction," says Cipparone, the defense attorney for Shnewer. "But looking at it systemically, I have significant concerns about the payment of informants in this context--informants with these kinds of backgrounds, given this much free reign."

The defendants, who are being held under highly restricted conditions in Philadelphia, are likely to appeal the verdicts. ... Jennifer Marino, the wife of Dritan Duka, was in the courtroom with two of her five children to hear the verdict. "I'm still shocked. I don't get it," she said later. "The informants are evil, both of them. They kept pushing them." The jurors in the case were sequestered and remained anonymous, an unusual arrangement which was ordered by the judge. ... -time

$240,000?? Naw, I don't see any motive for a frame up. Unlike the sinister sketches, the actual pictures  of the terrorists look like normal boys ... but the officials sure paint a scary picture.

I guess people in NJ are a lot safer now. I guess.

Poll: 23 percent say Cheney worst vice president ever

Vice President Dick Cheney says he's comfortable with his accomplishments and isn't troubled by his ratings.A new national poll suggests that almost a quarter of Americans think that Dick Cheney is the worst vice president in American history.

Twenty-three percent of those questioned in a CNN/Opinion Research Corporation survey released Monday say that Cheney is the country's worst vice president, when compared with his predecessors.

... Cheney steps down as vice president January 20. He will be succeeded by Vice President-elect Joe Biden. Although extremely unpopular, Cheney will leave office as one of the most powerful vice presidents in history. He played a crucial role in many of the Bush administration's crucial policies and was a major proponent of using and expanding executive powers. - cnn

... He admitted he personally approved torture, but insisted it destroyed Al Qaeda and saved American lives. According to a powerful article by David Rose in Vanity Fair, the Bush-Cheney torture regime accomplished exactly the opposite. The torture photos from Abu Ghraib helped Al Qaeda's recruitment soar. U.S. officers in Iraq say torture-inspired attacks on U.S. soldiers were the #1 and #2 cause of soldiers' deaths. CIA analysts say the "intelligence" produced by torture was worthless. - democrats

A Dick Cheney time line:

Dick Cheney.1969: Cheney Hired by Donald Rumsfeld to Serve as Aide.

Cheney avoids Vietnam War by securing five student deferments [Washington Post, 1/17/2006]

Rumsfeld resigns as congressman to run the Office of Economic Opportunity (OEO).

September 21, 1974 and After: Rumsfeld, Cheney Take Power in White House. President Ford asks Donald Rumsfeld to be his as “staff coordinator.” ... Rumsfeld agrees, and names former Wyoming Congressman Dick Cheney as his deputy.

Dick Cheney and Donald Rumsfeld speaking to reporters, 1975.November 4, 1975: ’Halloween Massacre’ Places Rumsfeld, Cheney in Power. Nixon holdovers fired by Ford. Rumsfeld becomes secretary of defense. George H. W. Bush replaces William Colby as director of the CIA. Cheney becomes youngest chief of staff in White House history.

1995 - Dick Cheney is appointed CEO of Halliburton.

1998 - Dick Cheney, Donald Rumsfeld, & Paul Wolfowiz participate in a think tank that concludes that we need to invade Iraq to lock up oil for the 21st Century. Letter is sent to then President Clinton asking him to do as much. Think tank concludes in their document titled “Rebuilding America’s Defenses” (link) that there would need to be a “new Pearl Harbor” to allow a political climate to invade Iraq.

2000 August: Cheney leaves his position as Halliburton's CEO to run as Bush's Vice President. Halliburton announces that it is giving Cheney a retirement package worth more than $33.7 million.

2000 - Bush Claims election; Cheney sets up team to determine who will serve in the cabinet including Rumsfeld. Tries to get Wolfowiz in as CIA chief which is rebuked.  Wolfowicz is instead set up as Rumsfeld’s Defense Secretary and puts together a plan for war.

2000 - Cheney sets up shadow CIA office, meant to question the real CIA’s analysis.   Shadow group was fixing evidence to go to war with Iraq even before 9/11 according to 2 cabinet members (Treasury Secretary Paul O’Neil & Terrorism Czar Richard Clarke).

2001 KBR wins a $300-million exclusive contract to supply logistics to the Navy, providing services like cooking, construction, power generation and fuel transportation.

2001 - Richard Clarke explains to Bush in a meeting with three witnesses that Iraq is not involved with the 9/11 attack and that the attack came from Al Quaida; Bush tries to intimidate Clarke into giving him an answer that Iraq and the attacks were linked.

Feb. 3, 2001 - a secret National Security Council document instructs NSC officials to cooperate with Cheney’s task force, which was “melding” two previously unrelated policy areas: “the review of operational policies towards rogue states” and “actions regarding the capture of new and existing oil and gas fields.” [The New Yorker, Feb. 16, 2004]


June 1, 2001 - A change in NORAD and Pentagon orders  revokes standing orders to shoot down errant or hijacked aircraft and instructed them instead to stand down until they were given orders by the President, Vice President or Secretary of Defense.

September 11, 2001 (8:25 a.m.-8:50 a.m.): Office of Management and Budget Deputy Director Sean O’Keefe stops by for an unscheduled visit with Cheney Neither Can Later Recall What They Discuss.

September 11, 2001 (8:30 a.m) Cheney is scheduled to meet John McConnell, his chief speechwriter, left waiting outside the office while the vice president is deep in discussion with O’Keefe.

314_peoc_meeting9/11/2001 9:25 a.m. Cheney was "absolutely" already there in the PEOC (Presidential Emergency Operations Center) bunker despite  9/11 Commission Report claims he had not arrived until 9:58-- after the Pentagon had been hit  - rm , Mineta's Testimonyjonesrp.

October 18, 2001, alarm in the White House situation room allegedly goes off. Vice President Cheney is said to believe he has been subjected to a lethal dose of anthrax.

October 24, 2001: House and Senate Pass Patriot Act Without Reading It

2008 - Halliburton stock 1000% higher than late 2001.

2008 - Cheney sued to preserve his records; White House argues that it should be able to destroy Cheney’s records.

Mineta told Lee Hamilton:

“During the time that the airplane was coming into the Pentagon, there was a young man who would come in and say to the Vice President…the plane is 50 miles out…the plane is 30 miles out….and when it got down to the plane is 10 miles out, the young man also said to the vice president “do the orders still stand?” And the Vice President turned and whipped his neck around and said “Of course the orders still stand, have you heard anything to the contrary!?

Michael Ruppert has done a first-rate job in Crossing the Rubicon to explain how the chain of command was quietly changed June 1, 2001 in anticipation of 911, probably to put Dick Cheney in charge of the NORAD (North American Aerospace Defense Command) response that day, but he cannot quite find the direct evidence he wants to confirm Cheney’s command role. Ruppert has also recounted how as many as five simultaneous war games were running the morning of 911 so that even individuals not complicit with the 911 plot would be precluded from effective response. These war games involved live flight of actual airliners posing as hijacked planes, introduction of dummy hijacked planes into the radar screens of FAA comptrollers and phantom data into the independent radar systems of the military, an evacuation in the wake of a simulated crash of an airliner into the NRO (National Reconnaissance Office), and the defense against a foreign invader. These games took NORAD jets normally available for interception far from their usual bases, and made directing the few remaining jets to their targets difficult if not impossible because of the problem of sorting genuine hijackings from phantom hijacking. Thus, whoever organized the war games to coincide with 911, and whoever coordinated them that day, but especially whoever assumed command of the NORAD response once the 911 attack began is a key operational player of 911. 4 The USGIC controlled media has buried the crucial 911 war games story to disguise USGIC complicity.

But wait, even disabling NORAD leaves the very pesky problem that the White House and Pentagon are equipped with their own anti-aircraft surface-to-air missile defenses that are adequate to down an approaching Boeing. What is needed is an inside man to make sure that the Pentagon does not shoot down the approaching plane. Did anyone say, “Dick Cheney”? Which is why Norman Mineta’s testimony matters so much: it is the very kind of direct evidence needed to understand 911 and gives strong independent support to Ruppert’s claim that Cheney commanded the overall USA “defense” against the 911 attacks. (And, of course, Cheney being in charge also explains why Bush was sidelined at Booker Elementary listening to “My Pet Goat.” Bush could not be trusted to perform publicly in a high-pressure domestic covert operation and was probably informed of it after-the-fact with a sly wink about “plausible deniability.”) - wtc7

searam_1An additional item of interest that has been largely ignored is that extremely high-value, critically important facilities such as the Pentagon typically have fully automated, reactive air defense systems in place. These point-defense systems have been mounted on US Navy warships for decades, and are capable of radar-detecting incoming missiles or artillery, and then tracking, targeting, and shooting them out of the sky within seconds. Such robotic sentry guns -- variously referred to as "Area Denial Systems", "Close-In Weapons Systems", and "Active Protection Systems" -- all rely on built-in radar capabilities to track and target incoming projectiles or missiles. The systems are fully automated; once in an active defense state, they will target and fire on an incoming missile or aircraft with no intervention from a human operator. So Vice President Cheney's stand-down order may not have just applied to calling off the fighter interceptors, but also to disabling all automated air defenses around the Pentagon. ...

This isn't science fiction; automated point defense systems have been around for decades. Take Raytheon's Phalanx as a first example. First deployed in 1980, this famous system uses separate search and tracking radars (characteristic of such systems) to focus in on its targets. There is no identification friend or foe; it simply analyzes the speed and relative movement of the missile, and fires upon it if the programmed threat criteria are met. The main things it looks for are how rapidly the potential target is incoming, and where it seems to be heading. Primarily deployed aboard US Navy ships, there is also a land-based variant. Each unit is about $3.8 million (much more for advanced optics), and the overall multi-year program cost has been almost $2.7 billion. ...

Now we are to believe that the most powerful defense agency in the world had its headquarters building successfully attacked by cave-dwelling kamikaze pilots. The "incoming kamikaze" problem was solved a long time ago -- it's called RADAR and explosive artillery. When you link the two with some robotics and software controls, the resulting system becomes an incredibly effective air defense guardian.

The point is that our military's air defenses are unmatched in the world. There is no way -- over half a century after WWII -- that a kamikaze attack on a facility such as the Pentagon would ever succeed on its own. If it did, it would have to be considered the worst security lapse in the Pentagon's history. ... So who's in charge of Pentagon facility security, and surface-to-air defenses in particular? Did they fire this person? Of course not. The worst attack on headquarters in US military history actually resulted in... no demotions, transfers, or any other disciplinary action at the Pentagon. Actually, several people got promoted. ... - fedexposure

April Gallop, an enlisted member and survivor who worked at the Pentagon and brought her infant child to work that day, told me that when she was assigned there she got a classified tour of the building introducing her to its defenses, and she was told it was the best defended and safest building in the world. To this day she cannot comprehend why those defenses would have failed on 9/11. - rat

They should be able to shoot down a big slow thing like an incoming hijacked jet. On the other hand, if the conspiracy people are right and Cheney was running the show, allowing the attack to happen so we'd have a pretext for and oil war, why would Mineta be in the bunker with Cheney? PD? There is so much conflicting info. I hope some day we can read a complete story of 9/11 that makes all the conflicting information make sense.

Dec, 2008:

Cheney also told ABC that Guantanamo Bay's detention camp should remain open until the end of the War on Terror. He said he did not know when that would be. Terror, incidentally, has been in existence... forever.

Cheney expressed doubts that President-elect Barack Obama will close the camp or give up any of the broadened authority Cheney fought to bring to the executive branch. Cheney told Rush Limbaugh, "Once [the Obama administration] get[s] here and they're faced with the same problems we deal with every day, then they will appreciate some of the things we've put in place."

Of waterboarding, Cheney said that he supported the process of getting it cleared. He called waterboarding, "a remarkably successful effort, and I think the results speak for themselves." Actually, they don't, since we have no idea what information waterboarded detainees have provided.

Cheney's farewell media push culminates with an hour long interview on Fox News Sunday.  - aol