Sunday, November 20, 2011

Week Starting Nov 20th

1. It's not hypocrisy to want to sleep well...

Figures: OWS Organizers Occupying Luxury Hotels

Posted by Jammie on Nov 20, 2011 at 8:33 am
Their zombies are sleeping in feces and urine, but the so-called organizers of the anarchist Occupy Wall Street movement are living large at a luxury hotel. Goose-down pillows for me, but not for thee.
A key Occupy Wall Street leader and another protester who leads a double life as a businessman ditched fetid tents and church basements for rooms at a luxurious hotel that promises guests can “unleash [their] inner Gordon Gekko,” The Post has learned.
The $700-per-night W Hotel Downtown last week hosted both Peter Dutro, one of a select few OWS members on the powerful finance committee, and Brad Spitzer, a California-based analyst who not only secretly took part in protests during a week-long business trip but offered shelter to protesters in his swanky platinum-card room.
“Tents are not for me,”he confessed, when confronted in the sleek black lobby of the Washington Street hotel where sources described him as a “repeat” guest.Spitzer, 24, an associate at financial-services giant Deloitte, which netted $29 billion in revenue last year, admitted he joined the protest at Zuccotti Park several times.
“I’m staying here for work,” said Spitzer, dressed down in a company T-shirt and holding a backpack and his suitcase. “I do finance, but I support it still.”
During his stay, hotel sources said, he and other ragtag revolutionaries he brought into the hotel lived like 1 percenters. He would order up a roll-out bed to accommodate guests, they said.
“He’s here all the time,” a hotel source said. “We all see him at the protest.”
Spitzer denied sheltering Occupiers. He claimed he only invited in a blogger buddy living at the park to wash off his camp grime.
Meanwhile, Dutro, 35, one of only a handful of OWS leaders in charge of the movement’s $500,000 in donations, checked in on Wednesday, the night after police emptied Zuccotti Park.
While hundreds of his rebel brethren scrambled to find shelter in church basements, Dutro chose the five-star, 58-story hotel, with its lush rooms and 350-count Egyptian cotton sheets. He lives only a short taxi ride away in Carroll Gardens, Brooklyn.
“I knew everything was going to be a clusterf–k in the morning,” he told The Post, alluding to Occupy’s own disruption plans. “How would I get over the bridge when they were shutting it down?”
The tattoo artist-turned-Occupy money man took the elevator up to the fifth-floor welcome desk, where a disc jockey spins tunes and guests enjoy a vista of the growing freedom tower.
He said he spent $500 of his own money to get the room because he wanted a good night’s rest ahead of the cause’s two-month ceremony the next day and raucous post-raid protests.
“I knew . . . there was a high probability of getting arrested,” he said. “I wanted a nice room. That’s OK. Not everybody there is dirt poor.”
He paid for the palace with his American Express card.
“It is an expensive hotel. Whatever,” he said.
The rooms have 37-inch flat-screen TVs, window seats overlooking the city and iPod-dock alarm clocks. Visitors can order 12-year-old Glenlivet scotch for $375 a bottle, or an $18 pastrami sandwich, from room service. There’s even a menu for four-legged guests, including a $16 dog dish of Niman Ranch ground beef.
The sacrifice and bravery of these folks is quite remarkable. The hardships they go through for the 99% it truly courageous.
2.The Island gets it done.

Puerto Rico Shows Washington the Way

Friday, 18 Nov 2011 12:36 PM
By Deroy Murdock

The gridlocked members of the congressional supercommittee should grab President Barack Obama and decamp to a tropical island. Specifically, they should visit Puerto Rico, where a courageous leader is using free-market reforms to reinvigorate this recently moribund U.S. territory.

"We are clearly pro-growth," says Republican Gov. Luis G. Fortuno. "And we do not apologize for that."

Fortuno last Tuesday hosted a delegation of conservatives who floated into San Juan aboard the Holland America Line's MS Eurodam, site of National Review magazine's latest Caribbean cruise.

Fortuno was inaugurated on Jan. 2, 2009, just 18 days before Obama. Since then, these two officials have marched in opposite directions,with opposite results.

"We were closer to the abyss than most states," Fortuno says. "When I came into office, we were facing not just the worst recession since the '30s, but the worst budget deficit in America, proportionally. We were literally broke. We did not have enough money to meet our first payroll. We had to take out a loan to do that. At that point, my wife asked me if we could ask for a recount."

So, unlike the free-spending Obama, and George W. Bush before him, Fortuno declares: "We cut expenses."

Fortuno gave himself a 10-percent pay cut. He trimmed his agency heads' salaries by 5 percent. That bought him the credibility to chop overall spending by 20 percent. He booted some 20,000 government workers, through attrition as well as layoffs, saving $935 million. (Compare that to Bush-Obama's 11.7 percent hike in federal civilian headcount since the Great Recession began in December 2007 — excluding temporary census jobs.)

Fortuno has shifted remaining government workers from old-fashioned, statist, defined-benefit pensions to modern, market-friendly, defined-contribution plans.

Ranked No. 51 in 2009, behind each of the United States, in terms of deficit-to-revenue, Puerto Rico now is 15th, with the $3.3 billion deficit Fortuno inherited (44 percent of revenues) now down to $610 million (7.1 percent).

Fortuno's reforms, including merging government agencies, led Standard & Poor's to upgrade Puerto Rico's credit rating for the first time in 28 years. S&P, of course, famously downgraded U.S. sovereign debt last August, a historical first. Meanwhile, America's national debt screamed past the $15 trillion mark on Wednesday.

Fortuno has sliced taxes. The corporate tax rate plunged last January 1 from 41 percent to 30 percent, en route to 25 percent in 2014. He cut average individual tax rates by one quarter this year and in half within six years.

"You needed to obtain an average of 28 permits and endorsements to do anything," Fortuno says, regarding regulatory relief. "You had to go to 20-plus different agencies to do that. Today, you go to one agency, and you get your permit there, or you can go to, and get it online. We have created a better business climate, and it shows."

A five-year property-tax holiday and the scrapping of capital gains and death taxes have helped push existing home sales up 35 percent this year (while they fell 7.9 percent on the Mainland) and new home sales soaring 92.2 percent (as they sagged 9.9 percent up north)
CVS, Nordstrom's, Pet Smart, P.F. Chang's, Saks Fifth Avenue, and Victoria's Secret all are opening in Puerto Rico.

"They're coming in brand new, for the first time, ever," Fortuno says. Honeywell and Merck are expanding manufacturing facilities. Venezuela's Banesco is the first new bank to open in Puerto Rico in 13 years.

"We are moving in the right direction," Fortuno smiles. "We are creating jobs in the private sector, not in the public sector, the way we should be. So, we can keep lowering taxes."

Ronald Reagan and Margaret Thatcher are among Fortuno's inspirations. Volumes by and about those visionaries grace Fortuno's bookshelves. A small sign on his desk replicates one in Reagan's Oval Office. It explains Luis G. Fortuno's success, begs Washington to listen, and simply says: "It CAN be done."

Deroy Murdock is a columnist with Scripps Howard News Service and a media fellow with the Hoover Institution on War, Revolution and Peace at Stanford University.Email him at
3. Water does NOT hydrate...

EU bans claim that water can prevent dehydration

Brussels bureaucrats were ridiculed yesterday after banning drink manufacturers from claiming that water can prevent dehydration.

NHS health guidelines state clearly that drinking water helps avoid dehydration, and that Britons should drink at least 1.2 litres per day Photo: ALAMY
EU officials concluded that, following a three-year investigation, there was no evidence to prove the previously undisputed fact.Producers of bottled water are now forbidden by law from making the claim and will face a two-year jail sentence if they defy the edict, which comes into force in the UK next month.
Last night, critics claimed the EU was at odds with both science and common sense. Conservative MEP Roger Helmer said: “This is stupidity writ large.
“The euro is burning, the EU is falling apart and yet here they are: highly-paid, highly-pensioned officials worrying about the obvious qualities of water and trying to deny us the right to say what is patently true.
“If ever there were an episode which demonstrates the folly of the great European project then this is it.”
The Department for Health disputed the wisdom of the new law. A spokesman said: “Of course water hydrates. While we support the EU in preventing false claims about products, we need to exercise common sense as far as possible."
German professors Dr Andreas Hahn and Dr Moritz Hagenmeyer, who advise food manufacturers on how to advertise their products, asked the European Commission if the claim could be made on labels.
They compiled what they assumed was an uncontroversial statement in order to test new laws which allow products to claim they can reduce the risk of disease, subject to EU approval.
They applied for the right to state that “regular consumption of significant amounts of water can reduce the risk of development of dehydration” as well as preventing a decrease in performance.
However, last February, the European Food Standards Authority (EFSA) refused to approve the statement.
A meeting of 21 scientists in Parma, Italy, concluded that reduced water content in the body was a symptom of dehydration and not something that drinking water could subsequently control.
Now the EFSA verdict has been turned into an EU directive which was issued on Wednesday.
Ukip MEP Paul Nuttall said the ruling made the “bendy banana law” look “positively sane”.
He said: “I had to read this four or five times before I believed it. It is a perfect example of what Brussels does best. Spend three years, with 20 separate pieces of correspondence before summoning 21 professors to Parma where they decide with great solemnity that drinking water cannot be sold as a way to combat dehydration.
“Then they make this judgment law and make it clear that if anybody dares sell water claiming that it is effective against dehydration they could get into serious legal bother.
EU regulations, which aim to uphold food standards across member states, are frequently criticised.
Rules banning bent bananas and curved cucumbers were scrapped in 2008 after causing international ridicule.
Prof Hahn, from the Institute for Food Science and Human Nutrition at Hanover Leibniz University, said the European Commission had made another mistake with its latest ruling.
“What is our reaction to the outcome? Let us put it this way: We are neither surprised nor delighted.
“The European Commission is wrong; it should have authorised the claim. That should be more than clear to anyone who has consumed water in the past, and who has not? We fear there is something wrong in the state of Europe.”
Prof Brian Ratcliffe, spokesman for the Nutrition Society, said dehydration was usually caused by a clinical condition and that one could remain adequately hydrated without drinking water.
He said: “The EU is saying that this does not reduce the risk of dehydration and that is correct.
“This claim is trying to imply that there is something special about bottled water which is not a reasonable claim.”
4."....Leave them kids alone!......" 

OWS Protesters Chant ‘Follow Those Kids!’ As Small Children Try To Go To School On Wall Street

Tiny Tots, Some As Young As 4, Overwhelmed By Hostility, Crush Of Humanity

NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) — They were caught in the middle of madness.
Some grade school students were forced to walk a gauntlet of screaming “Occupy Wall Street” protesters just to get to school on Thursday. It was a wild day in lower Manhattan for most everyone involved, including elementary school children who had to brave the mayhem just to get to class on the other side of Wall Street.

In the middle of thousands of protestors yelling and chanting — some kicking and screaming – CBS 2’s Emily Smith found little school kids trying to get to class. Nervous parents led them through the barriers on Wall Street. The NYPD helped funnel the children, anything to ease their fears while some protestors chanted “follow those kids!”
“These guys are terrorists, yelling at little kids,” one father said.
“For them it’s horrible. They’re afraid of all the crowds. We’re not even able to get through. They’re just, he’s … very afraid now,” a mother added.
One protester followed a father and his little daughter all the way down the block. As the school day ended just after 3 p.m. children trickled out of Leman Manhattan Prep on Broad Street. Smith heard a 4-year-old boy telling his mom he was scared. He told Smith it looked like a parade.
“There was a parade. It was scary — crowded with school,” the boy said.
“After a while it got so bad some parents couldn’t get their children through and they had to go late,” said Gary Goldenstein of Tribeca. Some saw the day’s doings as chaos; others saw it differently.
“The parents actually along with teachers were at every entry point into this area, which is fantastic,” said Vicki Pitcock of Tribeca. School officials said they haven’t had to change school times or cancel class, and are trying to keep it that way.

Rebecca's War Dog of the Week: One bad ass handler and his jumping war dog

By Rebecca Frankel
Chief Canine Correspondent

This video has been circulating around some Military Working Dog groups and I thought it worthy of space here. Here's the brief note that went with the post, titled "no leg ski diving, with my dog" -- as I saw it last week:
"I am still rocking! For those who haven't heard, I was blown up, with my MWD, Axe, Feb 17th of this year. I lost both of my feet, and was back to work in July. ..."
Aside from documenting an incredible free fall where you actually get a full view of the dog on a jump, this is emotionally moving footage. Without any fuss it shows the strong bond between this handler and his dog. There's little else I can say that would better complement the triumph and joy on display. So just watch.
A note: Back in May when FP ran the epic "War Dog" photo essay after the Osama bin Laden mission, a fair few readers wrote in concerned that the military dogs parachuting out of planes were being either being forced or were too frightened or ill quipped to handle the experience unscathed. For anyone still worried, pay careful attention to the dog in this video. He's having the time of his life.

6. Some things never fade away

Satellite Photos Show Ancient Saharan Fortresses of a Lost Empire

 New satellite images have revealed more than a hundred ancient fortified settlements still standing in the Sahara. The settlements, located in what today is southern Libya, were built by the Garamantes, a people who ruled much of the area for nearly a thousand years until their empire fragmented around 700 AD. Information about the Garamantes is relatively scarce: Other than the accounts of classical historians (who  aren’t known for careful accuracy) and excavations of the Garamantian capital city in the 1960s, archaeologists haven’t had a lot to go on. During the decades-long reign of  Muammar Gadhafi, antiquities and archaeology weren’t exactly a national priority; the fortresses were largely ignored. As David Mattingly, the British archaeologist who led the project, said to OurAmazingPlanet of the discoveries: ”It is like someone coming to England and suddenly discovering all the medieval castles.”

Through previous archaeological excavations—including a dig earlier this year that was cut short by the start of Libya’s civil war—Mattingly and others have “built up a picture of [the Garamantes] as being a very sophisticated, high-level civilization,” he told National Geographic. The Garamantes had a writing system, practiced metallurgy, organized vast trading caravans, and developed a complicated water-extraction system that let them create oases in the arid Sahara. It’s still a mystery what triggered the empire’s decline; researchers suggest scarce water resources, plus trade disruptions, may be to blame.

7. Duuude....

What Is Synthetic Pot, and Why’s It Causing Heart Attacks in Teenagers?

What’s The News: Three 16-year-old  teenage boys in Texas had heart attacks shortly after smoking a product called k2, or Spice, according to a study published this month in the journal Pediatrics. The report highlights a growing public health problem: the increased availability and use of synthetic cannabinoids, which when smoked mimic the effects of marijuana but typically can’t be detected in drug tests. While the U.S. Drug Enforcement Agency secured an emergency, one-year ban of five synthetic cannabinoids in March of this year, most of the hundreds of such chemicals remain basically legal, widely available, little understood, and potentially harmful.

“Fake Pot” and Synthetic Cannabinoids:
  • “Fake pot” includes any of a number of products (with names like K2, Spice, Blaze, Red X Dawn) that are increasingly popular among young Americans. They usually contain herbs laced with various synthetic cannabinoids, and often marketed as incense.
  • Synthetic cannabinoids function similarly to marijuana’s prime ingredient, tetrahydrocannabinol (or THC), which causes most of the plant’s well-known effects by partially activating cannabinoid receptors in the brain. (Described in some detail in an earlier post of mine here.)
  • Most of these chemicals bind much more strongly to CB-1 and CB-2 receptors than THC, causing more intense effects than cannabis. K2, for example, can cause intense anxiety, psychotic episodes, hallucinations, and even seizures. As pharmacologist David Kroll writes in an excellent post on his blog Terra Sigillata, THC is a “partial agonist” while many synthetic compounds are often “full agonists” at these receptors.
Chemicals Escape the Lab:
  • Many of the synthetic cannabinoids now used in K2 were developed in the mid-1990s as potential therapeutics by John W. Huffman, a Clemson University chemist. For that reason, many of these chemicals have names beginning with his initials, like  JWH-018, one of the chemicals temporarily outlawed by the DEA in March. (Perhaps not the legacy he was aiming for.)
  • In 2008 the drugs were officially found outside the lab, in herbal blends sold in Europe, after which their availability and use spread widely.
  • Huffman has come out strongly against the casual use  and abuse of these chemicals. “Using these things is like playing Russian roulette because, we don’t have toxicity data, we don’t know the metabolites and we don’t know the pharmacokinetics,” Huffman said recently in Chemical and Engineering News.
Serious as a Heart Attack:
  • All three teenagers were seen at the University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center in Dallas within three months of one another, after complaining of chest pain for several days. Myocardial infarctions were confirmed with EEG readings and the presence of  troponin, a chemical released when heart muscles are damaged. Each was treated and released.
  • Though all three admitted to smoking marijuana in the previous few weeks, their use of K2 occurred just before symptoms of chest pain began. Two tested positive for THC; all tested negative for other drugs of abuse. Only one patient was tested for two synthetic cannabinoids, which weren’t detected. This is likely due to the widely varying blend of cannabinoids used in these products.
  • Very rarely, marijuana use has been linked to heart attacks, thought to arise from THC’s ability to increase heart rate and cardiac output.
  • K2 may cause an increased risk for a heart attack due to a stronger activation of this same pathway, or via another unknown route. Colin Kane, a pediatric cardiologist at UT Southwestern & Children’s Medical Center in Dallas told Reuters he was “certainly suspicious that there was something in the K2 that would have caused these heart attacks.”
  •  No chemical analysis was done on the products the teenagers smoked and is only described in the paper as, “K2, Spice (Dallas, Texas, manufacturer unknown).”
A Clear and Present Danger:
  • There are many reports on blogs and anecdotes from news stories nationwide that used of K2 or Spice has led young people to become mentally ill, become hospitalized, or commit suicide. Several deaths have been linked to synthetic cannabinoids; for example, a coroner’s report blamed JWH-018 (found in K2) for the sudden death of an apparently healthy 19-year-old basketball player in South Carolina.
  • From January through August this year, US Poison Control Centers received 4,421 calls regarding exposure to synthetic marijuana, a 52 percent increase over last year’s total.
  • In May the DEA outlawed five of these compounds. Many states around the country have enacted laws to ban the sale and possession of various synthetic cannabinoids. But the chemists who manufacture these chemicals know which substances can be tested for; by choosing different related compounds, of which there are hundreds, they can stay a few steps ahead of the law.
  • Though the DEA has the ability to prosecute people who manufacture chemicals that are “analogues” of currently banned substances, such action has rarely been taken, and it’s unclear what the exact chemical definition of an “analogue” is.
  • An opinion piece published this month in Nature Medicine argues that testing of these chemicals should be taken up by the Laboratory Response Network. This nationwide group of labs was set up by presidential decree to quickly provide data about novel chemicals associated with biological or chemical terrorism or other  ”high priority public health emergencies.” Study author Jeffery Moran notes that Arkansas legislators used the network to produce data to support a ban of various synthetic cannabinoids, and established a testing protocol for detecting K2 products now in use worldwide.

 8. "'s what's for dinner. For $345,000."


 What Stands Between You and the World’s Most Expensive Burger

 Part of what stands between you and a lab-grown meat patty (a perennial source of fascination around here) is your gag reflex: the pale strips of cultured muscle cells that are currently the top contender for Petri-dish burgerdom look like scraps of mold, and they must be “exercised”—stretched between Velcro tabs—to strengthen and gain meat-ish texture. A patty made from them will be a hand-assembled stack of about 3,000 scraps, and in order to give the stuff color and iron, the lead scientist of the project opined to Reuters, they might need to soak it in lab-grown blood. Gah. Still, factory farming ain’t pretty either, and the sheer amount of land and other resources we dedicate to meat production can be enough to make you gag as well. This particular cultured meat project— there are many—hopes to have its first proof-of-concept burger made by August or September next year. But there is a long way to go before this stuff has even a chance of hitting the mainstream, especially since, on top of the gross-out factor, this patty will run, oh, about $345,000. As John Timmer of Ars Technica explores in a post that jumps off from the Reuters feature, even though a real, for-sale cultured meat patty would obviously have to be much cheaper than that to compete with meat, the fact that it takes that much effort and money to make the first one isn’t terribly encouraging. Anyone who has read about efforts to grow organs from stem cells will know what he means: “Getting any cells to grow into mature tissues is ferociously expensive,” he writes, “and adding additional cell types [as would be required for texture and taste] will increase the complexity and cost.”

For a new urethra for an injured child, OK. But for McDonald’s? A lot of things that are still in the realm of basic science will have to change first.

9. "Lose the Cancer, AND the fat."

An experimental drug causes obese monkeys to lose weight and improves their metabolic function by depriving their fat of its blood supply, researchers reported yesterday in Science Translational Medicine, offering hope that such drugs could help battle obesity in people, as well.
The drug borrows a technique used in some cancer treatments: essentially, starving a tumor by attacking the blood vessels that feed it. In this case, the drug—called adipotide—goes after the blood vessels in fatty tissue instead, causing fat deposits to shrink. When scientists gave 10 obese monkeys adipotide for four weeks each, the monkeys shed between 7% and 15% of their body weight and, on average, more than 38% of their body fat. Not only that, the monkeys showed better metabolic function, suggesting they were at lower risk for type 2 diabetes, cardiovascular disease, and other obesity-related conditions than they had been.
It’s not clear yet how safe the drug is—it hasn’t been tested in the long term, and it caused minor side effects in some of the monkeys—or whether it will work as well in people as it does in monkeys. But the first human trial could start as early as next year; the researchers plan to give obese patients with advanced prostate cancer, who fare significantly worse than thinner patients, a four-week course of the drug to test whether it will help them lose weight.

10. How about we use it for underwire bras?

Micro-Lattice on Dandelion Dan Little © HRL Laboratories, LLC
A collaboration of researchers from HRL, CalTech, and UC Irvine have created the new world's lightest material--some 100 times lighter than styrofoam. It's even lighter than aerogel, one of our favorite ultralight materials.
The material is a micro-lattice in structure, with the 0.01 percent of the material that's solid consisting of hollow tubes that are only 100 nanometers thick. It's rated at a density of 0.9 mg/cc, lighter than even the lightest aerogels, which have only achieved 1.1 mg/cc. It's also extraordinarily strong and shock-absorbent, thanks to all that air: it can compress by 50 percent and completely recover its shape, highly unusual for a material that is essentially metallic. It was actually inspired by architectural structures rather than other ultralight materials--the team looked to the Golden Gate Bridge and the Eiffel Tower to see how those structures are so light and yet so strong.
The project was undertaken for, who else, DARPA, which says it could be used for products ranging from battery electrodes to energy damping in addition to insulation, the main use for prior lightweight champ aerogel.

11. "Give the drug smuggler immunity and convict the Border Patrol Agent......what??!!"

 Agent Jesus E. Diaz Jr

 Thirty-seven Republican House members are challenging the two-year prison sentence being served by a U.S. Border Patrol agent for his conduct in the arrest of a drug-smuggling suspect, while a dozen other lawmakers are pressing Attorney General Eric H. Holder Jr. to explain his role in the botched “Fast and Furious” weapons investigation. In a letter Thursday to President Obama, the 37 members — led by Rep. Duncan Hunter of California — described the prosecution of agent Jesus E. Diaz Jr. as “unfair and excessively disproportionate” and suggested it set a “dangerous precedent” that could place other agents and the public at risk. “Border Patrol agents must be able to appropriately and effectively protect our nation´s border without the threat of federal prosecution hanging over their head,” the letter said. “We certainly do not condone the use of excessive or unreasonable force, however, the facts in this case do not indicate the drug smuggler was harmed during the arrest or that excessive force was used.
“The prosecution of Agent Diaz by the U.S. Attorney´s Office for the Western District of Texas, also responsible for putting other agents behind bars, is a disservice to the men and women of the Border Patrol and the mission they undertake,” it stated. Diaz was sentenced last month to two years for violating the constitutional rights of a 15-year-old suspected drug smuggler. He was accused of lifting the teenager’s handcuffed hands above his head while placing his knee in his back. The prosecution was sought by the Mexican government. During trial, defense attorneys argued there were no injuries or bruises on the teenager’s arms where the handcuffs had been placed nor any bruising resulting from a knee on his back. Evidence presented at trial showed only marks from the straps of his backpack, which authorities said contained the drugs. Border Patrol agents found more than 150 pounds of marijuana at the arrest site.
In the letter, the lawmakers noted that Diaz had been cleared of any wrongdoing by the Department of Homeland Security’s Office of Inspector General and by the Immigration and Customs Enforcement´s Office of Professional Responsibility. It said “only a contradictory report” from the Internal Affairs Division at U.S. Customs and Border Protection provided the basis for prosecution, noting that that report came a year after the agent had been cleared. The letter also questioned the credibility of the government’s main witness, the smuggling suspect, who testified under a grant of immunity. It asked the president to consider whether the two-year sentence was justified and how the case has an impact on an agent´s ability to do his or her job.
After successfully winning a two-year prison sentence against U.S. Border Patrol Agent Jesus E. Diaz Jr., the Justice Department is now trying to collect a $6,870 fine from his wife, saying it should be paid “immediately” — even though the judge signaled she would have a grace period.
In a notice sent last week the Justice Department said the fines were imposed by the court that found Agent Diaz guilty and sentenced him to prison for improperly restraining a 15-year-old suspected of drug smuggling.
“We strongly urge you to pay this debt immediate,” said the notice, which was received by Diana Diaz, who is also a Border Patrol agent.

12. Cyberwars might be started by a third party...

Foreign cyber attack hits US infrastructure: expert

November 19, 2011
A cyber strike launched from outside the United States hit a public water system in the Midwestern state of Illinois, an infrastructure control systems expert said on Friday.
"This is arguably the first case where we have had a hack of critical infrastructure from outside the United States that caused damage," Applied Control Solutions managing partner Joseph Weiss told AFP.
"That is what is so big about this," he continued. "They could have done anything because they had access to the master station."
The Illinois Statewide Terrorism and Intelligence Center disclosed the cyber assault on a public water facility outside the city of Springfield last week but attackers gained access to the system months earlier, Weiss said.
The network breach was exposed after cyber intruders burned out a pump.
"No one realized the hackers were in there until they started turning on and off the pump," according to Weiss.
The attack was reportedly traced to a computer in Russia and took advantage of account passwords stolen during a hack of a US company that makes Supervisory Control and Data Acquisition (SCADA) software.
There are about a dozen or so firms that make SCADA software, which is used around the world to control machines in industrial facilities ranging from factories and oil rigs to nuclear power and sewage plants.
Stealing passwords and account names from a SCADA software company was, in essence, swiping keys to networks of facilities using the programs to control operations.
"We don't know how many other SCADA systems have been compromised because they don't really have cyber forensics," said Weiss, who is based in California.
The US Department of Homeland Security has downplayed the Illinois cyber attack in public reports, stating that it had seen no evidence indicating a threat to public safety but was investigating the situation.
Word also circulated on Friday that a water supply network in Texas might have been breached in a cyber attack, according to McAfee Labs security research director David Marcus.
"My gut tells me that there is greater targeting and wider compromise than we know about," Marcus said in a blog post.
"Does this mean that I think it is cyber-Armageddon time?" Marcus continued. "No, but it is certainly prudent to evaluate our systems and ask some questions."

13. "Say it ain't so!" 

Sexually Active Teenage Boys Risk Small Reproductive Organs, Study Shows

Teenage boys may take some convincing about a new U.S. study that claims having sex during adolescence could stunt the growth of their reproductive organs.
Researchers from Ohio State University said that being sexually active while the nervous system was still developing can be linked to "lasting effects on the body and mood" into adulthood.
However, amorous young men may be even more reluctant to abstain when they learn the researchers' study subjects were not human teens, but male hamsters.
"Having a sexual experience during this time point, early in life, is not without consequence," John Morris, a co-author of the study, told the Society for Neuroscience annual meeting in Washington, D.C., on Tuesday.
He explained that the Ohio team studied sexually active hamsters at 40 days old, the creatures' equivalent of adolescence, as well as in "adulthood," at 80 days, and observed a group that went without sex.
The furry animals were chosen "because they have physiologic similarities to humans," the team said.
Later tests on the creatures' anxiety levels determined that the hamsters who were sexually active earlier on in life had a smaller total body mass, and a decrease in reproductive tissue, as adults.
"This suggests to us that maybe this process is causing the animals to have a maladaptive response reproductively, as well," Morris warned.
Sex in adolescence also left the hamsters more prone to depression and auto-immune problems, the researchers claimed.
The animals suffered an increase in an inflammation-causing chemical called interleukin-1, used by the body to fight infections, and had fewer complex nerve cells that carry signals to the brain from the rest of the body.
"Both groups of sexually active hamsters showed an increase in anxiety-like behavior compared to the control group, but the increase in a depressive-like response was specific to the adolescent sexually paired group," Morris added.

14. Signs of the times

and that's all for now. More when I find it.




Saturday, November 12, 2011

Week ending 11/12

Sorry, been moving. Here's some of this week's wonders.

1. Toxic Russian Mars Probe Heads Back to Earth

It's hard to believe that only last week we were getting excited for Russia's first interplanetary mission in 15 years to launch. By now, we should be happy in the knowledge that the ambitious -- and awesome -- mission is powering through space, toward the Martian moon Phobos.
The reality is that we are now discussing uncontrolled reentry scenarios.
As if that wasn't enough bad news, we are looking at an uncontrolled toxic reentry scenario. Phobos-Grunt -- correctly written "Fobos-Grunt," meaning "Phobos-Soil" or "Phobos-Ground" -- is fully-laden with unsymmetrical dimethylhydrazine and nitrogen tetroxide; that's ten tons of fuel and oxidizer. The probe itself weighs-in at only three tons.

The majority of the fuel will likely vaporize during reentry, but everyone will be hoping for a splash-down in an ocean (which covers two-thirds of Earth, fortunately), as the wreckage will still be hazardous. There's also a small quantity of radioactive cobalt-57 in one of the science missions housed in the probe -- a fact that will most likely cause a media frenzy.
It is for these reasons that the Russian media is dubbing Phobos-Grunt "Most toxic falling satellite ever."
(NOTE: At time of writing, there is no official word from the Russian space agency about the Phobos-Grunt situation.)
Though Russian mission controllers are frantically trying to regain control of the craft, it's not looking good. Today's efforts are widely regarded as a last-ditch attempt to salvage the mission. Other space agencies such as NASA and ESA have offered to assist, but it's looking like the probe is quickly becoming unrecoverable.
"Last night there were several attempts to obtain telemetry information from the unit. All of them ended with a zero result. The probability of saving the (probe) is very, very small," an anonymous industry source told Interfax (translated from Russian).
Since Phobos-Grunt was placed in low-Earth orbit (LEO) on Tuesday, and the probe successfully separated from its booster rocket, its attached cruise stage rocket has yet to light up, providing a critical two burns to blast the probe away from Earth to begin its planned 10-month journey to the Red Planet.
ANALYSIS: Russia's Mars Mission May Be In Trouble
It is unknown whether there's a software error or hardware glitch, but attempts to upload new commands to the on board computers have so far failed to change the situation. Phobos-Grunt's batteries are draining and its orbit is degrading. It looks as if the probe will reenter later this month/early December. NORAD is putting a Nov. 26 reentry date on Phobos-Grunt.
And guess what? This will be the third large piece of space junk to reenter in an uncontrolled manner this year. In September, NASA's 6-ton UARS atmospheric satellite burned-up over the Pacific. In October, the German 2.4-ton ROSAT X-ray space mission reentered over the Bay of Bengal. Could November be the third consecutive reentry month?
Like UARS and ROSAT, the likely Phobos-Grunt reentry will be uncontrolled and at the mercy of a highly dynamic upper atmosphere. Also, the probe's orbit takes it between the latitudes 51.4 degrees North to 51.4 degrees South -- most of the world's population lives within that zone, and Phobos-Grunt could come down anywhere. Despite the fact that pieces of the probe will hit the ground, it is still extremely unlikely it will cause death and destruction, however.
NEWS: Russia Aims For Mars Moon
The demise of Phobos-Grunt will be a huge loss to the scientific community. Not only was the mission designed to land and scoop-up some regolith (dust and rock) from Phobos' surface, returning it to Earth for analysis, it is also carrying a fascinating Planetary Society experiment called the Living Interplanetary Flight Experiment, or "LIFE."
LIFE is composed of many different types of bacteria to small organisms that seem to tolerate the space environment pretty well. Tardigrades -- known as water bears -- were also a part of the payload.
What was the point of sending microscopic organisms to a Martian moon?
In an effort to understand how life appeared on Earth, the experiment would have put the hypothesis of "panspermia" to the test. Panspermia is a proposed mechanism by with life may "hop" from one planetary body to the next -- meteorites slamming into Mars, say, ejecting many tons of debris into space. Should any organisms be "hitching a ride" on the debris, could they (or at least their genetic information) survive the interplanetary journey, and atmospheric entry, to spawn life on another world?
Alas, the LIFE experiment has been cut short. The first Chinese Mars satellite, Yinghuo-1, was also hitching a ride and won't go any further than LEO either.
So what now? As we await the inevitable reentry of Phobos-Grunt, it would appear the Russian authorities are looking for someone to blame after a string of mission failures. According to a (translated) Interfax bulletin, an anonymous (expert) source indicated this may force reform in the Russian space agency, Roscosmos. Also, "a number of positions of responsible persons" could face jail time.
I think it's about time we ask those tardigrades for a favor...
Image: An artist's impression of Phobos-Grunt in Mars orbit (ROSCOSMOS/edit by Discovery News)

2.  Shouting "Allahu Akbar," Issa Islam "did not stop, but rather stepped on the gas and continued his killing spree" -- his lawyer says it was an "accident"

Automobile accidents, jihadi style: "Killing rampage suspect goes on trial," by Naama Cohen-Friedman for Ynet News, November 10 (thanks to The Religion of Peace):
The trial of Issa Ibrahim Islam, a truck driver who went on a killing rampage on Nakba Day, opened at the Tel Aviv District Court on Thursday. The Kfar Kassem resident is accused of killing 29 year-old Aviv Morag and injuring 17 others while recklessly driving a truck along Bar-Lev Street in Tel Aviv last May. The driver also ran over several vehicles during the rampage.
A psychiatric evaluation submitted by the prosecution found Islam fit to stand trial, and determined that the defendant was lucid while he committed the act.
During the hearing, eyewitness recounted the horrors of that Sunday morning, as they were commuting to work and school: "He screamed 'Allahu Akbar' and then threw the traffic light on my head," recalled Shani Oz, one of the witnesses.
"The truck collided into my car and the back windshield shattered to pieces," said Amitai Asif, "People were scared. I had blood all over my face even after being taken into the ambulance," he noted.
According to the indictment, Islam carried on with his rampage even after colliding into several vehicles. "The defendant did not stop, but rather stepped on the gas and continued his killing spree," the indictment read.
The trial opened a week after David Morag, the father of the victim killed during the rampage, committed suicide.
"Aviv was his whole world," said a friend of the family, "The last few months were very difficult for him, and the holidays were even twice as hard."
Islam's defense attorney, Yehosua Resnik, rejected the accusations, claiming that "the incident was nothing more than an accident that went wrong."
Shame on you, Yehosua Resnik.

3. Making $$ on Wall Street

Jay-Z is releasing a new line of T-shirts in support of the Occupy Wall Street movement Friday via his Rocawear clothing label, but he doesn’t plan to share any of the profits with the protesters. The rapper was recently seen wearing one of the shirts, which tweaks the phrase “Occupy Wall Street” by crossing out the “W” and adding an “S” to make it read “Occupy All Streets.”
The protests, which started Sept. 17 in New York, have since spread to Los Angeles and other cities as demonstrators protest corporate greed and corruption.
The Business Insider noted the “irony” in that Jay-Z has no intention to distribute any of the proceeds to protestors.

4. Holder is definitely not a keeper...

Border Patrol Agent Brian Terry died almost one year ago. Despite almost daily headlines about the ongoing scandal in the Obama administration, his devastated parents have said nothing publicly about the U.S. program that helped provide the weapons that killed their son.  Until now. 
In separate interviews, Josephine and Kent Terry lashed out Thursday at those they blame for Brian's murder -- Attorney General Eric Holder, his top assistant Lanny Breuer, former U.S. Attorney Dennis Burke, and those ATF officials who approved, executed and supervised Operation Fast and Furious. 

The Terrys watched Holder’s appearance before the Senate Judiciary Committee on Tuesday. Asked if he wanted to apologize to the family, Holder declined, saying only he regretted what happened.
“That shows what kind of a person he is,” Kent lamented. “To me, he is not much of a person. I don’t know if he has a son. But if he lost his, he would think different.”
“I sat in a chair and cried,” Josephine said. “It was so inhumane. An apology to anybody means at least they are trying to fix it. He didn’t.”
Blasted for his response, Holder did send the Terrys a letter Wednesday saying he was sorry for their loss. The letter was released to the press before the Terrys received it.

5. Oregon Police Fear 'Occupy' Protesters Arming Themselves for Looming Confrontation

Portland police believe that some protesters inside the Occupy Portland encampments are building shields and makeshift weapons -- including nails hammered into wood -- in preparation for when authorities attempt to clear the parks this weekend, police said Friday.
Occupy Portland organizers have repeatedly said the movement is nonviolent and have appealed to demonstrators to resist peacefully when the camps close at midnight on Saturday. They planned public marches and a potluck dinner before the deadline and hoped the public would take part.

But police said as many as 150 anarchists may come to Portland to take part in a possible clash with officers. "If there are anarchists, if there are weapons, if there is an intention to engage in violence and confrontation, that obviously raises our concerns," Portland police Lt. Robert King said. "But I know we'll be able work through that and manage that, because we want to protect everyone there, especially the peaceful protester." Mayor Sam Adams has ordered the camp shut down, citing unhealthy conditions and the encampment's attraction of drug users and thieves. Protest organizers responded angrily to the police warning on Friday, saying in a statement that the police are trying to "defame" the movement by attributing the actions of individuals to the movement as a whole. "Anyone that is engaging in violent resistance is doing so in direct contradiction to the values outlined by the Portland General Assembly" -- the movement's democratic governing body -- "and in doing so is by definition not representing Occupy Portland," the statement said. About 10 demonstrators from Seattle had volunteered to come to Portland on Saturday to "stand in peaceful solidarity," the statement said, but organizers are not calling in a mass influx of out-of-state demonstrators or anarchists. Some people left the encampment on Friday, while others vowed to stay unless taken away in handcuffs. The camp population was noticeably thinner as demonstrators cleaned up portions of the park. Some were seen carting away books from the library and dumping articles into trash containers. A handful of people worked on dismantling an intricate kitchen, saying they'll store donated equipment until the movement can regroup. They're appealing to the public to cook food at home and bring it to demonstrators.
"Food is not going to stop unless we're forced to stop," said Marla Baskin, a demonstrator who has helped to organize food service. Baskin said she hoped police would be able to arrest nonviolent demonstrators without force, even if radical elements try to provoke a confrontation. Some demonstrators said they hope the camp may be re-established elsewhere or splintered into several smaller camps to continue the movement, but protest spokesman Jordan LeDoux said in an email "nothing concrete has been decided."
Demonstrators planned marches originating in various locations around Portland on Saturday, ending at the encampments around 5 p.m., followed by a potluck for the public to "celebrate freedom of speech, and support for those who will be arrested," LeDoux said.
The Portland encampment went up Oct. 6 after a march in support of the Occupy Wall Street movement. Protesters were sheltered by donated tents, fed by donated food and cared for by volunteer doctors and nurses. But it became a magnet for people not originally part of the movement. Sanitary conditions worsened. Businesses complained of theft.
City officials' patience began growing thin when activists sought to occupy another park on Oct. 30. Police dragged away 27 of the activists when they refused to leave.
Protesters marched over two bridges on Nov. 2, but declined to inform police about the march route. That forced officers on bicycles, motorcycles and in squad cars to follow and block traffic for more than an hour. An officer was pushed into a moving bus sometime near the end of the march, police said. He received just minor injuries.

6.Tharsis Tholus --Mar's Spectacular 4 Billion-Year-Old Volcano
 Tharsis Tholus, an extinct 4-billionn year old Martian volcano soars 8 kilometres above the surrounding landscape - almost the height of Earth's Mount Everest. The image above was released yesterday by the European Space Agency. It is a composite of multiple photos taken by a high-resolution stereo camera aboard the Mars Express spacecraft in 2004, with different elevations shown in different colors.
By comparison, rising above the Red Planets frequent dust storms is the Olympus Mons -the tallest known volcano and mountain in our solar system (image bottom of page). The central edifice of this shield volcano stands 27 kilometers ( 88,580 ft) high above the surface -or three times the elevation of Mount Everest above sea level and 2.6 times the height of Mauna Kea above its base. It is 550 km in width, flanked by steep cliffs, and has a caldera complex that is 85 km long, 60 km wide, and up to 3 km deep with six overlapping pit craters. Its outer edge is defined by an escarpment up to 6 km tall; unique among the shield volcanoes of the Red Planet.

In 2004 the Express orbiter imaged old lava flows on the flanks of Olympus Mons. Based on crater size and frequency counts, the surface of this western scarp has been dated from 115 million years in age down to a region that is only 2 million years old -very recent in geological terms, suggesting that the mountain may yet have some ongoing volcanic activity.

Mauna Kea on the Hawaiian Islands is an example of similar shield volcanoes on a smaller scale. The extraordinary size of Olympus Mons is likely because does not have tectonic plates. Thus, the crust remained fixed over a hotspot and the volcano continued to discharge lava. (Image above compares the heights of Mount Everest, Maxwell Montes on Venus, and Olympus Mons).

The mountain, as well as a few other of the volcanoes in the Tharsis region, was visible from Earth to 19th century observers. The astronomer Patrick Moore points out that during dust storms, "Schiaparelli had found that his Nodus Gordis and Olympic Snow were almost the only features to be seen.

But only with the Mariner probes could this be confirmed with certainty. After the Mariner 9 probe had photographed it from orbit in 1972, it became clear that the altitude was much greater than that of any mountain found on Earth, and the name was changed to Olympus Mons. 

7. The End of the Light Bulb as We Know It 

Why Americans are hoarding incandescent bulbs before darkness envelops us all on January 1, 2012.
Belladonna Rogers

November 13, 2011 - 12:49 am
As the pale, weak sun rose beyond a charcoal gray cloud bank on Sunday, November 6th, the first day of the country’s dismal return to Standard Time, it was clear that the moment had come to lighten up.
Soon I was at Home Depot making a beeline for the light bulb aisle.  Why? Because the end of days is drawing nigh.  Not in the Biblical sense, but in the Environmental Protection Agency sense: there were only a scant eight weeks (now only seven) before the end of the light bulb as we know it.  As of January 1, 2012, Americans will have their freedom of light bulb choice snuffed out by an omnibus 2007 law requiring that general-purpose bulbs be 25% more energy-efficient than the current, justly-beloved, incandescent bulb.
There are a few exceptions, but the next 49 days are the last for the sale of 100-watt incandescent bulbs.
An excellent summary of this disaster-in-the-making and the grim options that will follow in its wake is here.
In July, the House of Representatives voted to repeal the Energy Independence and Security Act of 2007.  As the House debated the ultimately failed repeal, Republican Rep. Joe Barton of Texas, who had introduced the doomed measure, argued:
The 2010 elections demonstrated that Americans are fed up with government intrusion. The federal government has crept so deep into our lives that federal agencies now determine what kind of light bulbs the American people are allowed to purchase.
This vivid report from England in 2009 on the last days of the sale of incandescent bulbs there — ordained by a similar European Union ban on traditional bulbs — is a cautionary tale of what we can expect at lighting retailers in the United States on New Year’s Eve 2011. There could be more people at Manhattan’s two Home Depot stores than in Times Square.
As I’ve written here before, part of the meaning of freedom is freedom of choice.  Every green American who wants to read by mercury-ignited compact fluorescent bulbs is free to do so. Every environmentally-motivated citizen who desires energy-efficient halogen bulbs should enjoy that choice, too.  But many of us desire incandescent bulbs, just the way Thomas A. Edison invented them.
You know something nefarious is afoot when the Obama administration trundles out its own personal Nobel laureate (other than the incumbent himself), Energy Secretary Steven Chu, to lecture us — us, the pathetic, scientifically uneducated, financially ignorant, unwashed, energy-profligate, unable-to-balance-our-own-checkbooks fools he takes us to be — on light bulbs:
“Right now many families around the country are struggling to pay their energy bills, and leaders in the House want to roll back these standards that will save families money.…
“You’ll still be able to buy halogen incandescent bulbs. They’ll look and feel the same, but the only difference is that they’ll save consumers money.”
Of tea partiers’s philosophical argument that the law would deprive consumers of the choice of lighting products, Chu said, these standards are not taking choices away, they are “putting money back in the pockets of American families.”
Contrary to Secretary Chu’s disingenuous statement in July, viz., “They’ll look and feel the same,” they neither look nor feel the “same.”  He may be able to fool some of the people some of the time, but I regret to inform Secretary Chu that he can’t fool me — or tens of millions like me– any of the time.
These ghastly light bulbs casting their ghoulish, glary light — all gussied up to appear to resemble the older, familiar bulbs — are the light bulb equivalent of a wolf in sheep’s clothing.
I, for one, did not elect President Obama, nor did I insist that he select Steven Chu to tell me how to “put money back in” my pockets. My pockets are my business, not his.  You look out for your pockets, Secretary Chu, and I’ll look out for mine.
Where do you get off telling me and my fellow Americans, “these standards are not taking choices away”?  It’s obvious you think we’re idiots, but idiots of that magnitude? These standards are unquestionably taking choices away: that’s why 100-watt incandescent bulbs are flying off the shelves at Home Depots nationwide.  Here’s a photo of my purchases from last Sunday alone — not my last foray by a long shot:
All the bulbs I bought were incandescent.  Secretary Chu’s vaunted halogen bulbs hurt my eyes.  And  the highest wattage compact fluorescents available at Home Depot last Sunday were the equivalent of 40 watts of incandescent bulbs.  Maybe Secretary Chu can read by 40-watt bulbs but I can’t.  If you’d like to read the Department of Energy’s guide to compact fluorescent bulbs, try reading it by daylight, here.
Contrary to this president’s view of his compatriots, many of us are adults.  We were children once, but not recently.  We can take care of our pocketbooks all by ourselves. My checkbook is balanced. Is the federal government’s?
The most tragic part of this tale is that it didn’t have to come to this.  No sooner had the Republican Congress announced it would vote to repeal the 2007 law this past July, than the light bulb lobby swooped in to protect the manufacturers’ interests — not, of course, those of the incandescent bulb-loving public:
[The] manufacturers … had begun producing the new bulbs, and feared the rollback of the standards would undermine their investments in developing energy-efficient bulbs. Bulb-maker Philips began an aggressive lobbying campaign, meeting with lawmakers and staffers on Capitol Hill, urging them not to roll back the light bulb law. They brought along samples of the new bulbs, similar in appearance to the old bulb.
No member of Congress should have been fooled.
The Senate voted against the repeal, and Obama would have vetoed a repeal, but the manufacturers’ heated lobbying was not in the public interest — of course.
Soon, if the Obama administration has its way, we’ll move seamlessly from the diminished light bulb to the energy-efficient vacuum that will take 90 minutes to clean a carpet that now takes five, and an energy-efficient hair-dryer that will require an hour to dry a head of hair now dried in three — in order to “put more dollars in your pocket” as Secretary Chu likes to say.  Of course, vacuuming carpets and drying hair may not be high on his to-do list on any given day.
Which leads us back to Home Depot.  After checking prices on, eBay and a wide variety of online lighting specialty firms, the lowest prices I found were at Home Depot.  They charge $3.97 for an eight-pack of 100-watt incandescent bulbs, with each bulb enjoying a double-life of 1,500 hours.
A word to the wise is sufficient.
—Belladonna Rogers

8.  Court Backs High School in Flap Over American Flag T-Shirts

Published November 13, 2011

A California school principal did not violate the freedom of speech of a group of students who wore American flags on their shirts on Cinco de Mayo when he told them to turn the shirts inside out or go home, a federal judge has ruled.
Citing past clashes between Mexican American and Anglo students over their clothing on the Mexican holiday, Chief U.S. District Judge James Ware of San Francisco said school officials "reasonably forecast that (the shirts) could cause a substantial disruption" and were entitled to take steps to prevent it, the San Francisco Chronicle reports.
The case arose in an ethnically charged atmosphere at Live Oak High School in Morgan Hill. On the previous Cinco de Mayo, Ware said, a group of Mexican-American students walked around with a Mexican flag, and a group of Anglo students responded by hoisting a makeshift American flag up a tree, chanting "U-S-A" and exchanging profanities and threats with the Latino youths.
While the Supreme Court has ruled that public school students have the right to engage in nondisruptive free speech, that ruling "does not require that school officials wait until disruption occurs before they act," Ware said in his ruling Tuesday dismissing the students' lawsuit, according to the paper.
Mark Posard, a lawyer for the Morgan Hill Unified School District, said Friday that Ware's decision "affirmed that school safety is paramount."
Bill Becker, a lawyer for the youths and their parents, said they would appeal "this bizarre ruling."

That's all for now!

Saturday, October 8, 2011

Week ending 10/08/11

1. Diversity! Works great!

"Warning over France's Islamic suburbs which are becoming 'separate communities in a divided nation'," from the Daily Mail, October 6:
France's run-down city suburbs are becoming ‘separate Islamic societies’ cut off from the state, a report has warned.
Arab communities are increasingly rejecting French values and identity to immerse themselves in Muslim culture and lifestyle, it was found.
Muslim pupils often boycott school dinners if the food is not halal and most Arabs oppose marriages to white French citizens, the study by respected political scientist Gilles Kepel revealed.
As a result, France – whose five million Muslims make up Europe’s largest Islamic population – was turning into a ‘divided nation’, the study called Suburbs of the Republic found.
Dr Kepel wrote: ‘In some areas, a third of the population of the town does not hold French nationality, and many residents are drawn to an Islamic identity rather than simply rejecting or failing to find a secular one.
‘French schools, which are rigorously non-religious, have traditionally been seen as having the role of training young citizens of the republic.
But local officials say Islamic pupils are heading home for a halal lunch.
‘Most people in France do not object to mixed marriages, but in the suburbs we were surprised to find a very large proportion of Muslim respondents said they were opposed to marriages with non-Muslims.’
The study was commissioned by the Institut Montaigne think-tank. It will make recommendations to the government in January.

2. Isn't this a Bush headline?  

Secret panel can put Americans on "kill list'

WASHINGTON | Wed Oct 5, 2011 7:59pm EDT
(Reuters) - American militants like Anwar al-Awlaki are placed on a kill or capture list by a secretive panel of senior government officials, which then informs the president of its decisions, according to officials.
There is no public record of the operations or decisions of the panel, which is a subset of the White House's National Security Council, several current and former officials said. Neither is there any law establishing its existence or setting out the rules by which it is supposed to operate.
     The panel was behind the decision to add Awlaki, a U.S.-born militant preacher with alleged al Qaeda connections, to the target list. He was killed by a CIA drone strike in Yemen late last month.
The role of the president in ordering or ratifying a decision to target a citizen is fuzzy. White House spokesman Tommy Vietor declined to discuss anything about the process.
Current and former officials said that to the best of their knowledge, Awlaki, who the White House said was a key figure in al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula, al Qaeda's Yemen-based affiliate, had been the only American put on a government list targeting people for capture or death due to their alleged involvement with militants.
     The White House is portraying the killing of Awlaki as a demonstration of President Barack Obama's toughness toward militants who threaten the United States. But the process that led to Awlaki's killing has drawn fierce criticism from both the political left and right.
In an ironic turn, Obama, who ran for president denouncing predecessor George W. Bush's expansive use of executive power in his "war on terrorism," is being attacked in some quarters for using similar tactics. They include secret legal justifications and undisclosed intelligence assessments.
Liberals criticized the drone attack on an American citizen as extra-judicial murder.
Conservatives criticized Obama for refusing to release a Justice Department legal opinion that reportedly justified killing Awlaki. They accuse Obama of hypocrisy, noting his administration insisted on publishing Bush-era administration legal memos justifying the use of interrogation techniques many equate with torture, but refused to make public its rationale for killing a citizen without due process.
Some details about how the administration went about targeting Awlaki emerged on Tuesday when the top Democrat on the House Intelligence Committee, Representative Dutch Ruppersberger, was asked by reporters about the killing.
The process involves "going through the National Security Council, then it eventually goes to the president, but the National Security Council does the investigation, they have lawyers, they review, they look at the situation, you have input from the military, and also, we make sure that we follow international law," Ruppersberger said.


     Other officials said the role of the president in the process was murkier than what Ruppersberger described. They said targeting recommendations are drawn up by a committee of mid-level National Security Council and agency officials. Their recommendations are then sent to the panel of NSC "principals," meaning Cabinet secretaries and intelligence unit chiefs, for approval. The panel of principals could have different memberships when considering different operational issues, they said.
The officials insisted on anonymity to discuss sensitive information.
     They confirmed that lawyers, including those in the Justice Department, were consulted before Awlaki's name was added to the target list. Two principal legal theories were advanced, an official said: first, that the actions were permitted by Congress when it authorized the use of military forces against militants in the wake of the attacks of September 11, 2001; and they are permitted under international law if a country is defending itself.
     Several officials said that when Awlaki became the first American put on the target list, Obama was not required personally to approve the targeting of a person. But one official said Obama would be notified of the principals' decision. If he objected, the decision would be nullified, the official said.
A former official said one of the reasons for making senior officials principally responsible for nominating Americans for the target list was to "protect" the president.
Officials confirmed that a second American, Samir Khan, was killed in the drone attack that killed Awlaki. Khan had served as editor of Inspire, a glossy English-language magazine used by AQAP as a propaganda and recruitment vehicle.
But rather than being specifically targeted by drone operators, Khan was in the wrong place at the wrong time, officials said. Ruppersberger appeared to confirm that, saying Khan's death was "collateral," meaning he was not an intentional target of the drone strike.
     When the name of a foreign, rather than American, militant is added to targeting lists, the decision is made within the intelligence community and normally does not require approval by high-level NSC officials.


Officials said Awlaki, whose fierce sermons were widely circulated on English-language militant websites, was targeted because Washington accumulated information his role in AQAP had gone "from inspirational to operational." That meant that instead of just propagandizing in favor of al Qaeda objectives, Awlaki allegedly began to participate directly in plots against American targets.
"Let me underscore, Awlaki is no mere messenger but someone integrally involved in lethal terrorist activities," Daniel Benjamin, top counterterrorism official at the State Department, warned last spring.
The Obama administration has not made public an accounting of the classified evidence that Awlaki was operationally involved in planning terrorist attacks.
But officials acknowledged that some of the intelligence purporting to show Awlaki's hands-on role in plotting attacks was patchy.
For instance, one plot in which authorities have said Awlaki was involved Nigerian-born Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab, accused of trying to blow up a Detroit-bound U.S. airliner on Christmas Day 2009 with a bomb hidden in his underpants.
There is no doubt Abdulmutallab was an admirer or follower of Awlaki, since he admitted that to U.S. investigators. When he appeared in a Detroit courtroom earlier this week for the start of his trial on bomb-plot charges, he proclaimed, "Anwar is alive."
But at the time the White House was considering putting Awlaki on the U.S. target list, intelligence connecting Awlaki specifically to Abdulmutallab and his alleged bomb plot was partial. Officials said at the time the United States had voice intercepts involving a phone known to have been used by Awlaki and someone who they believed, but were not positive, was Abdulmutallab.
Awlaki was also implicated in a case in which a British Airways employee was imprisoned for plotting to blow up a U.S.-bound plane. E-mails retrieved by authorities from the employee's computer showed what an investigator described as " operational contact" between Britain and Yemen.
Authorities believe the contacts were mainly between the U.K.-based suspect and his brother. But there was a strong suspicion Awlaki was at the brother's side when the messages were dispatched. British media reported that in one message, the person on the Yemeni end supposedly said, "Our highest priority is the US ... With the people you have, is it possible to get a package or a person with a package on board a flight heading to the US?"
U.S. officials contrast intelligence suggesting Awlaki's involvement in specific plots with the activities of Adam Gadahn, an American citizen who became a principal English-language propagandist for the core al Qaeda network formerly led by Osama bin Laden.
While Gadahn appeared in angry videos calling for attacks on the United States, officials said he had not been specifically targeted for capture or killing by U.S. forces because he was regarded as a loudmouth not directly involved in plotting attacks.

 3. He should have known better...this is America! 


Star of David Carved on Infidel’s Back in St. Louis

Media mum about savage Muslim hate crime in the U.S.A.
October 6, 2011 - 12:00 am - by Jamie Glazov
A certain Arab author by the name of Mr. Alaa Alsaegh, an immigrant to the U.S. from Iraq, was attacked on August 14, 2011, by Muslims in the streets of St. Louis, Missouri. They stabbed him and carved a Star of David onto the flesh of his back. His crime? He published an Arabic language poem titled “Tears at the Heart of the Holocaust” on the website The poem expressed his love for the Jewish people and his sorrow over their fate in the Holocaust. The Muslim community in which he lived was outraged by this thought crime. He was called an infidel and received many threats for articulating his taboo feelings for the Jewish people. Alienated from the Muslim community, he continued to write his poetry, which contained the same themes which so upset his fellow Muslims.
In broad daylight and heavy traffic on Aug. 14, Alsaegh paid the price for expressing love for the Jews. And it happened in the streets of St. Louis, right here in the heart of America. Author and courageous freedom fighter Nonie Darwish describes the horrific event:
As he was driving at 10:30 in the morning on Compton St. near Park Ave., a small white car cut him off and hit his car, while another car stopped behind him. The occupants of the cars, some of whom wore security guard-type uniforms, quickly entered Alsaegh’s car, pointing a gun at him. They pushed his upper body down against the steering wheel, stabbed him and pulled off his shirt to expose his back. Then, with a knife, they carved the Star of David on his back while laughing as they recited his pro-Jewish poem.
Alsaegh thought that the perpetrators were Somalis; he was taken to the hospital and the photo of his injury was taken there.

The FBI has concluded that this was a hate crime. Question: apart from the Nonie Darwish article, and a handful of other reports, where exactly is this horrific story of Sharia street justice in America being reported? It is nowhere in the media.
Rodney King became a household name. The inhabitants of one American city rioted over what happened to that man. President Obama quickly reacted to the arrest of Harvard University professor Henry Louis Gates and, without knowing the incident’s specifics, accused the police of acting “stupidly.”
Will Alaa Alsaegh become a household name? Will the inhabitants of an American city riot over his case? Will Obama say something? Henry Louis Gates didn’t have his flesh violated by the police. Might Alsaegh prove worthy of one ounce of Obama’s moral indignation?
We know the answers to these questions.
Three more questions:
[1] What if Alaa Alsaegh was a Muslim who was attacked by Christians in St. Louis who carved a cross on his back? Do you think this story would make it into the media?
[2] What if Alaa Alsaegh was a black man who was attacked by skinheads who carved KKK or a swastika onto his back? Do you think this story would make it into the media?
[3] What if Alaa Alsaegh was a Jew who expressed love of Muslims and was attacked for that by Jews who carved a crescent moon and star, a recognized symbol of Islam, onto his back? Do you think the story would make it into the media?
We know the obvious answer to those three questions. We also know that not only would these scenarios lead to mass media coverage worldwide and spark anti-American hysteria, but that scenarios 1 and 3 would most certainly lead not just to U.S. congressional committee investigations, but also to entire UN commissions.
Why is our media silent when a Muslim infidel has a Star of David carved on his back in a hate crime perpetrated by Muslims? Why is the literary culture silent? Where is Hollywood? Why is even our own president silent?
The answer is because of a monstrosity called the Left. The Left shapes and controls the boundaries of our society’s discourse. The Left’s mantle of multiculturalism and the belief that all religions and cultures are equal (except the ones it hates) have been internalized by our society, and there are severe punishments for crossing the boundaries of permitted speech. For example, if you condemn the Muslims for inflicting violence on Alsaegh, then you would have to accept that, in terms of the ingredients of their crime, that they are clearly acting out of the mandates of their Islamic faith (i.e., the obligation to hate infidels and Jews etc. is irrefutable). But to condemn their acts and the teachings on which they are based violates the sacred cow of leftist beliefs (i.e., Islam is a Religion of Peace) and, therefore, makes one an Islamophobe, something that, thanks to the Left’s victory in our culture, most people are now terrified of being accused of.
This phenomenon explains why Ilan Halimi, a Jewish boy in France, was kidnapped by a Muslim gang several years ago in Paris, held in a secret Muslim concentration camp and barbarically tortured for 23 days until he died (with the torturers calling his mother and reciting Koranic verses to her while she heard his screams), and his name is still to be spoken in our media.
It is understandable, of course, why Halimi’s name is not spoken — or known — in our culture. If it were, then the fact would become well known that in the apartment building in which he was tied up and tortured, the myriad of dwellers in the building, all Muslims, heard Ilan’s screams. Not only did they not do anything to stop it, but many of them got in line to participate. And they took gratification and consolation from torturing their Jew, for Islamic theology dispenses numerous mandates and incentives for Muslims to hate, hurt, and kill Jews. To accept this fact annihilates the foundational structures of the leftist belief system; it takes the legs out from the progressive lies on which our culture is built. It is safer, therefore, not to acknowledge the names of Alaa Alsaegh and Ilan Halimi, let alone what happened to them and why.
The notion that his own society is unjust is the bedrock of the leftist’s vision. To recognize the evil of the people who carved the Star of David on Alaa Alsaegh’s back or who tortured Ilan Halimi, and to recognize the evil of the ideology that inspired them, is to admit the existence of pernicious adversarial faiths. Such an admission concedes that there are cultures and systems that are much more unjust than ours. This is an untenable step for leftists to take, because it means acknowledging that there is something superior about our civilization that’s worth saving and defending.
Showing compassion for Alaa Alsaegh and Ilan Halimi is, therefore, extremely dangerous for any leftist, as it would undermine his political faith. As I have documented in United in Hate, it would also expose him to potential excommunication from his social community — which is unfathomable for the majority of leftists, whose politics are, in the end, their social lives and, therefore, their sense of personal identity.
There is also a desperation in our culture and media for a “moderate Islam” (we talk about it more than Muslims do) — an Islam that many non-Muslims strenuously insist exists, but that somehow mysteriously eludes them. This moderate Islam will take all of our problems away, we are told, once the “extremists,” who are the “minority” in Islam, are consoled. Meanwhile, a real and actual “moderate Islam” is nowhere to be found; there is no school of Islamic jurisprudence that counsels Muslims to renounce the Qur’an’s teachings on Islamic supremacism and the obligation of violent jihad. And yet, to suggest the truth of this reality in our society earns one only the label of being a racist and an “Islamophobe.”
Roger Simon, CEO of Pajamas Media, wrote a piece awhile back that touched on this theme, analyzing why even various conservative thinkers have attacked Geert Wilders. In his view, these conservative individuals are rejecting Wilders because they are afraid that he might be right. Krauthammer criticized Wilders, Simon writes, not because
he thinks the Dutch politician is “extreme,” but because he is afraid the Dutch politician is right. Call it projection, but I believe this because I have the exact same fear. I think many of us do and we don’t want to face it. Who would? The resultant conclusions are too depressing.
Indeed, it is too depressing to consider the implications of Wilders being right and so a form of Stockholm Syndrome vis-à-vis Islam must enter the consciousness of our society – a Stockholm Syndrome clearly on display, in its own toxic form, in the shameless silence we are now witnessing of our media on the frightening and tragic fate of Alaa Alsaegh.

 4. Of course they want to share.... 

Following PA statehood bid at UN:
PA maps still show "Palestine"
- the requested state -
to include all of Israel

by Itamar Marcus and Nan Jacques Zilberdik

The day after PA Chairman Abbas delivered the Palestinian Authority's request for statehood to the UN, PA TV, which is controlled directly by Abbas' office, broadcast a map that erases Israel and envisions Palestinian sovereignty over all of Israel.

The map includes both the PA areas and all of Israel (excluding the Golan Heights) wrapped in the Palestinian flag - a symbol of Palestinian sovereignty over the whole area - and has a key through it, symbolizing ownership.

Text right: "Expelled"
Text left: "Resolve"
Text bottom: "Right to return"
[PA TV, Sept. 24, 2011]

Abbas claims to recognize Israel and its right to exist, and to be requesting a Palestinian state based on 1967 ceasefire lines, living side by side with Israel. The maps of "Palestine" publicized in Abbas' official PA media do not corroborate Abbas' statements.

The following are other examples of maps of "Palestine" including Israel that were published in the official PA media in the days after the PA statehood bid at the UN.

PA TV filler showing map of "Palestine" including PA areas as well as all of Israel. The following Israeli cities are presented as Palestinian: Acre, Haifa, Beit Shean, Be'er Sheva, Ramle, Safed, Tiberias, Nazareth, Jaffa and Lod.
[PA TV, Sept. 24, 2011]

Map of PA areas and all of Israel that forms the word "HERE." It completes the text on the side and bottom, reading:
"HERE [we] stand, stay, permanent, eternal,
and we have one goal, one, one - to be, and we will be."
The word "HERE" specifically refers to all of Israel. Abbas quoted this statement by the poet Mahmoud Darwish in his speech requesting PA statehood at the UN. His official daily then made clear that "HERE" refers to all of Israel.
[Al-Hayat Al-Jadida, Sept. 26, 2011]

Plaque with a map including the PA areas and all of Israel (excluding the Golan Heights), awarded by the Palestinian Embassy in Syria to outstanding Palestinian students living in Syria. The plaques were shown as part of a PA TV News broadcast.
[PA TV, Sept. 29, 2011]

The opening ceremony of basketball tournament at Central Sport Club Sariyat in Ramallah featured a huge map of "Palestine" that includes all of Israel. Present at the ceremony were Jibril Rajoub, Member of the Fatah Revolutionary Council and Head of the Palestinian Olympic Committee and Laila Ghannam, District Governor of Ramallah and El-Bireh. Both PA TV and the official PA daily reported on the opening, showing the map.
[PA TV, Sept. 26, 201

  5. Those racists!

Shelters combat "Black Dog Syndrome"

Animal shelters across the U.S. have noticed a disturbing trend in pet adoption - a large number of the pets that don't get adopted are black. Dubbed "Black Dog Syndrome" by many shelter workers, this issue exists largely because of superstitions and stereotypes portrayed in the media, according to the Associated Press.

While there are no statistics on this trend, shelter workers everywhere have their stories and reasons about it. Some people, whether they got the idea from an old bedtime story or a film, believe black dogs look menacing, according to Others believe black cats are either bad luck or are associated with evil, like witches and the devil, the news source reports.

In addition, it is hard to photograph black animals, which makes it difficult to market them online. Photographer Seth Casteel of Little Friends Photo in Los Angeles is launching a free, non-profit and national program to teach shelter volunteers how to take good photos of animals in rescue facilities, including black pets. The program also aims to give shelters ideas on how to raise money for quality cameras and photo editing software. 

My dogs 
Munchies (thinks he's a dog)

Missie and Jonas

6. Good dog!  

Man's Best Friends Know Who Their Best Friends Are

Dogs can help themselves by deciphering humans' social interactions.
by Rebecca Coffey
From the September 2011 issue; published online September 5, 2011

Researchers and pet owners have long known that dogs can learn spoken commands and understand certain human gestures. But can they actually eavesdrop—that is, pick up information simply by watching interactions between people? Animal cognition researcher Sarah Marshall-Pescini and her colleagues at the University of Milan believe that dogs do indeed engage in interspecies snooping.
To test their hypothesis, the scientists allowed 84 dogs to observe, one by one, food-sharing interactions between humans. During each trial, 
a human “beggar” repeatedly approached two other people holding bowls of aromatic sausages. (Mmm. For more on this topic, see 20 Things.) When the beggar asked for a bite, one of the sausage keepers rejected her, saying no and flicking one hand in a dismissive shooing gesture. The other person willingly shared, saying “have it” while offering a morsel. After the beggar left the room, the dog was let off its leash.
Once freed, pooches could approach either one of the people, each still holding bowls of sausage. The dogs decided to beg from the charitable person five times as often as from the stingy one. “It was intriguing to discover that dogs assess us in terms of how generous we are,” Marshall-Pescini says, perhaps because “they view us as potential cooperative partners.” That, or an easy mark for delicious meats.

7. Great Interview with an interesting lady.

Discover Interview: Lynn Margulis Says She's Not Controversial, She's Right

A conversation with Lynn Margulis is an effective way to change the way you think about life. Not just your life. All life. Scientists today recognize five groups of life: bacteria, protoctists (amoebas, seaweed), fungi (yeast, mold, mushrooms), plants, and animals. Margulis, a self-described “evolutionist,” makes a convincing case that there are really just two groups, bacteria and everything else.
That distinction led to her career-making insight. In a 1967 paper published in the Journal of Theoretical Biology, Margulis suggested that mitochondria and plastids—vital structures within animal and plant cells—evolved from bacteria hundreds of million of years ago, after bacterial cells started to collect in interactive communities and live symbiotically with one another. The resulting mergers yielded the compound cells known as eukaryotes, which in turn gave rise to all the rest—the protoctists, fungi, plants, and animals, including humans. The notion that we are all the children of bacteria seemed outlandish at the time, but it is now widely supported and accepted. “The evolution of the eukaryotic cells was the single most important event in the history of the organic world,” said Ernst Mayr, the leading evolutionary biologist of the last century. “Margulis’s contribution to our understanding the symbiotic factors was of enormous importance.”
Her subsequent ideas remain decidedly more controversial. Margulis came to view symbiosis as the central force behind the evolution of new species, an idea that has been dismissed by modern biologists. The dominant theory of evolution (often called neo-Darwinism) holds that new species arise through the gradual accumulation of random mutations, which are either favored or weeded out by natural selection. To Margulis, random mutation and natural selection are just cogs in the gears of evolution; the big leaps forward result from mergers between different kinds of organisms, what she calls symbiogenesis. Viewing life as one giant network of social connections has set Margulis against the mainstream in other high-profile ways as well. She disputes the current medical understanding of AIDS and considers every kind of life to be “conscious” in a sense.

Margulis herself is a highly social organism. Now 71, she is a well-known sight at the University of Massachusetts at Amherst, where she is on the geosciences faculty, riding her bike in all weather and at all times of day. Interviewer Dick Teresi, a neighbor, almost ran her over when, dressed in a dark coat, she cycled in front of his car late at night. On the three occasions that they met for this interview, Teresi couldn’t help noticing that Margulis shared her home with numerous others: family, students, visiting scholars, friends, friends of friends, and anybody interesting who needed a place to stay.

 Discover Interview



...More when I find it!