Archive for March, 2006

Thursday, March 23, 2006

 

Seven more athletes vanish

`Seven Sierra Leonian Commonwealth Games athletes were reported missing to Victoria Police last night.

Their disappearance added to a growing list of absent-without-leave Games athletes, following the disappearance of a Tanzanian and a Bangladeshi athlete earlier this week.

Sierra Leone officials reported the absences of the four male and three female team members to the Department of Immigration before notifying the police. The Sierra Leone team has been under more scrutiny than most coming into the Melbourne Games, following the disappearance of 70 per cent of their team at the 2002 Games in Manchester, England.’


Tom Cruise no Hollywood ending for Yahoo

`Yahoo’s decision to invite Tom Cruise to speak today at company headquarters has generated some snide comments among employees, some of which are being aired in the blogosphere. The responses seem to highlight resentment among some in the rank and file toward the general perception that the company is trying to go Hollywood.

Yahoo may have been eclipsed by Google in search, but there are plenty of people on campus who remain proud to work at a company that is one of the true pioneers of the Information Age. The invitation of Cruise–both because of its Tinsletown symbolism and the actor’s somewhat-flaky reputation–has embarrassed and distracted some of those workers, who just want the company to stick to its knitting.’


One Morning in Haditha

`The incident seemed like so many others from this war, the kind of tragedy that has become numbingly routine amid the daily reports of violence in Iraq. On the morning of Nov. 19, 2005, a roadside bomb struck a humvee carrying Marines from Kilo Company, 3rd Battalion, 1st Marines, on a road near Haditha, a restive town in western Iraq. The bomb killed Lance Corporal Miguel (T.J.) Terrazas, 20, from El Paso, Texas. The next day a Marine communique from Camp Blue Diamond in Ramadi reported that Terrazas and 15 Iraqi civilians were killed by the blast and that “gunmen attacked the convoy with small-arms fire,” prompting the Marines to return fire, killing eight insurgents and wounding one other. The Marines from Kilo Company held a memorial service for Terrazas at their camp in Haditha. They wrote messages like “T.J., you were a great friend. I’m going to miss seeing you around” on smooth stones and piled them in a funeral mound. And the war moved on.

But the details of what happened that morning in Haditha are more disturbing, disputed and horrific than the military initially reported. According to eyewitnesses and local officials interviewed over the past 10 weeks, the civilians who died in Haditha on Nov. 19 were killed not by a roadside bomb but by the Marines themselves, who went on a rampage in the village after the attack, killing 15 unarmed Iraqis in their homes, including seven women and three children. Human-rights activists say that if the accusations are true, the incident ranks as the worst case of deliberate killing of Iraqi civilians by U.S. service members since the war began.’


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Bird Droppings Prompt Orlando Warning Signs

`Signs warning of bird droppings were posted along a stretch in downtown Orlando this week after cars, benches, sidewalks, plants and even people are hit and covered by the white bird waste, according to a Local 6 News report.

The problem began when city workers removed cypress trees on “bird island” at Lake Eola in Orlando.

The trees had to be removed because the bird droppings were polluting the water, according to the report.

Now, the birds have moved into the city and are covering anything and anyone between Lake Eola and Central Avenue with droppings.’


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Patriot Act: The Home Version

`The board game that brings the thrill of trampling the Constitution right into your home… newly updated for 2006 to include NSA wiretaps and renewal of provisions!’


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Japan’s rich buy organs from executed Chinese prisoners

`Hundreds of well-off Japanese and other nationals are turning to China’s burgeoning human organ transplant industry, paying tens of thousands of pounds for livers and kidneys, which in some cases have been harvested from executed prisoners and sold to hospitals.

When Kenichiro Hokamura’s kidneys failed, he faced a choice: wait for a transplant or go online to check out rumours of organs for sale. As a native of Japan, where just 40 human organs for transplant have been donated since 1997, the businessman, 62, says it was no contest. “There are 100 people waiting in this prefecture alone. I would have died before getting a donor.” Still, he was astonished by just how easy it was.

Ten days after contacting a Japanese broker in China two months ago, he was lying on an operating table in a Shanghai hospital receiving a new kidney. “It was so fast, I was scared,” he says. The “e-donor” was an executed man; the price: 6.8m yen (about £33,000).’

Related to Witness Confirms Existence of Chinese Concentration Camp.


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Sift Heads

Shoot people.


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Taser bust a shocker

`The Ottawa Police Firearms Task Force yesterday swooped down on a Navan Rd. homeowner suspected of having a cache of illegal weapons, shot him and his dog with a Taser and left without finding any weapons.

Yvon Richer says he was returning from an early-morning snowmobile ride on his 50-acre property in the city’s southeast end at around 9:15 a.m. when a vehicle pulled into the driveway and a voice behind him screamed, “Get on the ground!”

He looked back at a police officer with his weapon drawn and as many as 40 others, some of them in tactical gear, lining the street.’


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UN warns of worst mass extinctions for 65m years

`Humans have provoked the worst spate of extinctions since the dinosaurs were wiped out 65m years ago, according to a UN report that calls for unprecedented worldwide efforts to address the slide.

The report paints a grim picture of life on earth, with declining numbers of plants, animals, insects and birds across the globe, and warns that the current extinction rate is up to 1,000 times faster than in the past. Some 844 animals and plants are known to have disappeared in the last 500 years.’


Astrophoto: The Planet Jupiter by Mike Salway

`Thirty years ago the clearest views of the planet Jupiter could only be obtained from multi-million dollar robotic space probes, like the twin Voyager missions sent to survey the outer planets. As recently as five years ago, the atmosphere still hopelessly blurred views of Jupiter, or any other planet, seen from the surface of the Earth through telescopes. All of that has changed thanks to the digital revolution in photography. Now, people with the interest, a modest telescope and a common web camera can learn to take planetary portraits that rival some the best from NASA.’


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Wind Shears Nine Stories of Lagos Landmark

`Heavy winds ripped away much of the top nine floors of a fire-weakened Nigerian building early Wednesday, raining debris on mostly empty streets and leaving people on lower floors waving frantically for help.

The 21-story Nigerian Industrial Development Bank had already been heavily structurally damaged by the blaze Monday, which gutted the 10th and 11th floors.

Wednesday’s winds during a heavy downpour shredded large portions of floors 13 through 21, with much of the debris crashing to the streets about 8 a.m., said Segun Ade, a guard at a nearby building.

Late Wednesday morning, a few people could be seen on the bottom floors, waving for help.’


Super Glock

Fully automatic handguns. Everyone should get one of these for “self defense”.

(3.1meg Windows media)


Ex-teacher sues over noisy chair

`A British teacher who says a noisy chair made classroom life a misery is suing her former employer for unfair dismissal.

Sue Storer, 48, told an employment tribunal Tuesday she was subjected to sexist and bullying behavior while working as deputy head teacher at Bedminster Down Secondary School in Bristol, southwest England.

Storer said the school failed to replace her chair, which made a “farting” noise whenever anyone sat on it, although other staff received new chairs.’


Speedcam slip puts $100m fines in doubt

`The State Government may be forced to repay drivers up to $100 million in fines after the Roads and Traffic Authority lost a Supreme Court appeal over speed camera photos yesterday.

Justice Michael Adams said digital photographs tendered in court against a motorist, Timothy Mitchell, did not contain the markings stipulated by the Road Transport Safety and Traffic Management Act.

Mr Mitchell’s lawyer, Dennis Miralis, is investigating a class action on behalf of thousands of motorists since digital technology was introduced in 1999.’


Downloading doesn’t hurt business

`New research says music downloading (or “P2P,” peer-to-peer file swapping) might not be the record industry’s death knell after all. And while that’s an interesting idea, the real surprise is where the new research is coming from: the recording industry itself.

According to a study commissioned by the Canadian Record Industry Association, the record industry’s well-worn argument that music downloading hurts music sales may be misguided.’


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Ecstasy-related memory impairment can be permanent

`Taking the drug Ecstasy can impair memory and learning, but giving up the drug can stop the slide in mental capacity, a new study shows. However, researchers also found evidence that in heavy Ecstasy users, the effects on memory may persist even after they quit.

“The message should be loud and clear that if you’re using a lot, you’re not going to recover learning and memory,” Dr. Konstantine K. Zakzanis of the University of Toronto at Scarborough, the study’s lead author, told Reuters Health.

Zakzanis and his colleagues had previously shown that people who used Ecstasy, also known by the chemical name MDMA, experienced a decline in their memory over a one-year period. The 15 study participants’ reported using the drug from 3 to 225 times over the course of the year.’


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N.Korean defector says disabled newborns are killed

`North Korea has no people with physical disabilities because they are killed almost as soon as they are born, a physician who defected from the communist state said on Wednesday.

Ri Kwang-chol, who fled to the South last year, told a forum of rights activists that the practice of killing newborns was widespread but denied he himself took part in it.

“There are no people with physical defects in North Korea,” Ri told members of the New Right Union, which groups local activists and North Korean refugees.

He said babies born with physical disabilities were killed in infancy in hospitals or in homes and were quickly buried.

The practice is encouraged by the state, Ri said, as a way of purifying the masses and eliminating people who might be considered “different”.’


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The Israel Lobby

`For the past several decades, and especially since the Six-Day War in 1967, the centrepiece of US Middle Eastern policy has been its relationship with Israel. The combination of unwavering support for Israel and the related effort to spread ‘democracy’ throughout the region has inflamed Arab and Islamic opinion and jeopardised not only US security but that of much of the rest of the world. This situation has no equal in American political history. Why has the US been willing to set aside its own security and that of many of its allies in order to advance the interests of another state? One might assume that the bond between the two countries was based on shared strategic interests or compelling moral imperatives, but neither explanation can account for the remarkable level of material and diplomatic support that the US provides.’

Very long read..


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Man dies stuck in mud after running from deputies

`A man running from a routine traffic stop early Tuesday sank waist-deep in mud and apparently died of exhaustion and cold while authorities tried to pull him out.

Deputies stopped Shawn E. Leflore, 33, for having an outdated registration sticker, sheriff’s spokesman Sgt. Don Peritz said.

“He thought he was wanted. That is why he ran,” Peritz said. “But it turns out he wasn’t wanted for anything, except his driver’s license was expired.”‘


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Cold War bunker found in Brooklyn Bridge

`New York workers have discovered a trove of Cold War-era supplies within the masonry of the Brooklyn Bridge, a cache meant to aid in survival efforts in the event of nuclear attack.

City Department of Transportation employees were conducting maintenance on the structure Wednesday when they found the cache on the top floor of a three-floor space inside the bridge’s base, agency spokeswoman Kay Sarlin said.

Some containers were marked with two dates notorious in the annals of the Cold War: 1957, when the Soviet Union launched the first satellite into space, and 1962, the year of the Cuban missile crisis when the two superpowers may have come closest to war.’


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Is Iraq Doing OK? Depends On What Definition of “Is” Is

`The White House has offered some clarification to its earlier statements that Iraq is doing well three years after the American invasion, grammatical clarifications which will doubtless offer solace to all those concerned about the differences between the Administration’s descriptions and the reality perceived by the rest of the world.

The President said that he understood why many Americans had had their confidence in the war shaken after watching scenes of carnage on television despite assurances that “the situation is under control.”

“It depends on what the meaning of the word ‘is’ is,” said President Bush in a press conference. “If ‘is’ means is and never has been, that is not – that is one thing. If it means there is none, that was a completely true statement.”‘


Reporting bugs to Microsoft

`Fifty minutes, 35USD, and four humans later, I’d filed my first bug report with Microsoft. I don’t think I’ll be doing that again. Since I started this process, I’ve received six e-mails from Microsoft: one describing my new Passport account, one asking me to activate my Passport account, two receipts for 35USD (I hope that doesn’t mean I paid twice), and two form mails from Kim, one saying she was taking charge of my case and one saying my case had been resolved by filing a bug report. I hope that means I get my money back.’


forum

Man’s Toddler Son Wanders Into Strip Club

`A Kansas man was arrested at a Tulsa strip club after police say his toddler son wandered from an unlocked car into the club over the weekend.

Christopher Greg Killion, 31, was arrested Saturday on a complaint of “encouraging a minor child to be in need of supervision.” He posted $500 bond and was released from the Tulsa Jail.

The toddler told police that his father told him to stay in the car, and that if he left it, “monsters would eat him,” reports indicate.’


Super Bowl trip adds 4.5 years to prison sentence

`The brother of Pittsburgh Steelers safety Tyrone Carter had his sentence for driving with a revoked license increased from six months to five years because he failed to report to jail on time.

Tank Carter was scheduled to report to a Broward County prison on Jan. 6, but decided against it when his brother told him the Steelers had a good chance of going to the Super Bowl. On Tuesday, Broward Circuit Judge Stanton S. Kaplan increased the sentence.

“Even knowing what I know now, I would do it again,” Carter said. “It was the greatest game in my life.”‘


Sun’s Far Side Visible Now

`There’s no place for the Sun to hide its face anymore.

The rotating star’s far side, out of view to astronomers, has now been fully seen for the first time using data from the Solar and Heliospheric Observatory (SOHO).

A new technique allows scientists to detect potentially damaging solar storms that may be brewing on the far side of the Sun and, weeks later, will be rotated into view and aimed our way.’


Abu Ghraib dog handler gets jail for abuse

`A U.S. Army dog handler was sentenced to six months in prison for tormenting detainees at Baghdad’s notorious Abu Ghraib jail with his unmuzzled Belgian shepherd, an Army spokeswoman said on Wednesday.

Sgt. Michael Smith, 24, faced up to 8 1/2 years in prison after he was found guilty on six of 13 counts brought against him. He will also have his rank reduced to private and must pay a total of $2,250 in fines for harassing and threatening inmates in 2003 and 2004, Army spokeswoman Shaunteh Kelly said. [..]

Photos of inmates being intimidated by dogs and sexually humiliated were broadcast around the world after the abuses became public in 2004, undermining Washington’s efforts to win support for its war in Iraq.

Several of these photos were introduced as evidence in Smith’s trial.’


Laser chips could power petaflop computers

`Laser communications chips capable of pumping data through the veins of gargantuan “petaflop” supercomputers have been demonstrated by NEC in Japan.

The communications chips can transfer information through optical fibres at a blistering 25 gigabits per second (a gigabit is a billion bits). This is a record for such components, according to NEC, and is many times faster that the purely electronic interconnects used in today’s supercomputers.

Communications chips can convert electronic signals into optical ones. Using optical fibres to relay data between the chips is what may give this type of supercomputer the edge over previous ones using processors connected electronically.’


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Man arrested after asking cops to test his new crack pipe

`Phillip Williams doubted whether he was being sold actual crack cocaine, police say. So he approached two uniformed Tampa officers and allegedly asked them to test his crack pipe so he could be sure.

Turned out Williams, 47, was getting the real thing, and he was arrested shortly after approaching the officers Tuesday morning.’


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Propaganda

`But the way our media talks about the war it sounds like a stroll through Candy Land. A hot, dusty, ghetto Candy Land. The muffin man lives in downtown Baghdad in a mud house that has a plastic tarp for a door and in his spare time watches bakery porn on satellite television.

I can tell you that this place isn’t Candy Land. Car bombs are going off killing civilians, people are blowing up mosques, the kidnapping and subsequently beheading of people, these fuckers don’t wear identifiable uniforms, and friends of friends are getting killed over here. I personally find it insulting that what little amount of news I’m given isn’t realistic. I feel like the main character in “Clockwork Orange” with his eyelids held open while being brainwashed. Maybe I’ll start chasing people around with a giant porcelain penis, too.’


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Wednesday, March 22, 2006

 

Warbling whales speak a language all their own

`The songs of the humpback whale are among the most complex in the animal kingdom. Researchers have now mathematically confirmed that whales have their own syntax that uses sound units to build phrases that can be combined to form songs that last for hours.

Until now, only humans have demonstrated the ability to use such a hierarchical structure of communication. The research, published online in the March 2006 issue of the Journal of the Acoustical Society of America, offers a new approach to studying animal communication, although the authors do not claim that humpback whale songs meet the linguistic rigor necessary for a true language.’


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