1. It's not hypocrisy to want to sleep well...
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
5. "....OOOOOHHHHHHHHH WOOOOOOOOOOFFFFFFF!"
Rebecca's War Dog of the Week: One bad ass handler and his jumping war dog
By Rebecca FrankelThis 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:
Chief Canine Correspondent
"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.
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.
- 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.
- 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).”
- 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. "Beef....it'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
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: expertNovember 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."