Sunday, December 30, 2012

Tomorrow is  the most important day of your life. It arrives clean and pure and full of optimism and with hopes that you have learned something from yesterday. It is placed in your hands to make of it what you wish. May you make it joyful and peaceful, filled with compassion for your fellow humans and respect for the planet we share.
 "A Happy and Prosperous New Year to Everyone"

From the Genie and Witchy


Saturday, December 29, 2012

Obama Optimistic : Fiscal Cliff Hanger


President Obama says he is "modestly optimistic" that a deal to avoid the "fiscal cliff" is possible, after a last-ditch White House meeting. Mr Obama said Senate leaders were working to craft a bill that could win approval in both chambers of Congress. But if a compromise was not reached, the president said he would ask for a quick vote on preventing tax rises.

Congress has only four days to reach an agreement before across-the-board tax rises and spending cuts take effect. Analysts say sliding over the so-called "cliff" could tip the US into recession and set back the global economic recovery.

If Senate majority leader Harry Reid and minority leader Mitch McConnell do not work out a deal, Mr Obama is seeking a vote to prevent tax rises on incomes up to $250,000 and ensure unemployment insurance is continued.

He described that as the "bare minimum" Congress should get done before 1 January.
"The hour for immediate action is here, it is now," Mr Obama said.

Earlier on Friday, Mr Obama met Mr Reid, Mr McConnell, House Speaker John Boehner and House minority leader Nancy Pelosi at the White House for just over an hour. Mr McConnell and Mr Reid said they were entering talks shortly after the meeting, and gave relatively upbeat assessments on their task. Mr McConnell said he was "hopeful and optimistic" that he could present a comprise to his caucus by Sunday, just over 24 hours before the deadline. His Democratic counterpart said he would "do everything I can" to make the deal happened. But Mr Reid cautioned that "whatever we come up with is going to be imperfect".

The renewed effort towards a Senate deal that could pass both chambers comes after much of the focus in negotiations rested on House Speaker John Boehner. An alternative plan proposed by Mr Boehner - which would have seen taxes rise only on those earning over $1m - failed in the House of Representatives late last week.

Mr Boehner has called the lower chamber into session on Sunday. A staff member in the house speaker's office told Reuters that the House would consider Senate legislation. "The Speaker told the president that if the Senate amends the House-passed legislation and sends back a plan, the House will consider it - either by accepting or amending," the unnamed aide said.

Mr Obama's plans to increase taxes on the wealthiest Americans have remained a point of division between the two parties since he won re-election in November. Many Republicans oppose new taxes as a matter of principle, and are demanding cuts to what they see as deficit-inflating public spending, putting at risk healthcare and welfare benefit schemes popular with Democrats.

During the news conference on Friday, Mr Obama said any last minute action on tax rises would form the groundwork for further negotiations in the new year.
"The American people are watching what we do here," he said. "Obviously their patience is already thin."

The term fiscal cliff refers to the combination of almost $600bn of tax rises and spending cuts due to come into force on 1 January if Congress does not pass new legislation. Sweeping tax cuts passed during the presidency of George W Bush will expire, eventually affecting people of all income levels, and many businesses.

Other tax cuts and benefits set to expire include:

• A 2010 payroll tax cut, the expiration of which would prompt immediate wage-packet cuts

• Benefits for the long-term unemployed

• Compensation for doctors treating patients on federal healthcare programmes

• Inheritance taxes are also likely to be affected if no deal is reached.

In addition, spending cuts mandated by a law passed to break a previous fiscal impasse in Congress will come into force, affecting both military and domestic budgets.

The cuts are expected to affect federal government departments and the defence sector, as well as hitting unemployment insurance and veterans' support

Thursday, December 27, 2012

Obama Versus the NRA's Shocking Response


Wayne LaPierre, of the NRA, says Congress should "act immediately" to put armed police in US schools.  "The only thing that stops a bad guy with a gun is a good guy with a gun," claims Mr LaPierre.
The National Rifle Association (NRA) has a reputation as perhaps the most powerful lobby group in American politics. There are varying reports on how much it spent during the last election, - some say it was much as $24m , others that it was slightly less. Whatever the number, it was a significant total.
The NRA has more than four million members. Many senators and congress members proudly boast if they are given an "A-rating" by the organization.

Yet its news conference in response to the Newtown massacre felt nothing like the slick product of a group gifted in public relations. Those who expected emollient words, hints of reasonable compromise and grave consideration of their opponents' plans were sorely disappointed.
Their leader, Wayne LaPierre, harangued the assembled press for over half an hour, impassioned, furious, and not a little eccentric in his fury. He talked of the way he had endured the mockery of the media, who hated gun owners; he talked of the "filthy pornography" of violent video games and listed some old films.

 LaPierre, chief executive of the NRA, criticized politicians who had "exploited" the tragedy in Newtown for "political gain" and took aim at laws designating schools as gun-free zones.
"They tell every insane killer in America that schools are the safest place to inflict maximum mayhem with minimum risk," he said.

Mr LaPierre called for a national database of the mentally ill and blamed violent video games and films for portraying murder as a "way of life".  He spoke out against the media for demonizing lawful gun owners, and for suggesting that a ban on certain types of weapons would be effective.
"The only thing that stops a bad guy with a gun is a good guy with a gun," Mr LaPierre told reporters.

Congress should authorize funding for armed security in every school in the country, he said, adding that an "extraordinary corps" of trained professionals could be drawn from active and retired police officers, security professionals and firefighters around the country.
Mr LaPierre was interrupted twice by anti-gun protesters carrying banners and declaring that the NRA had "blood on its hands".


LaPierre asked how was it that banks and airports, the president and celebrities all had armed guards, but that children did not. He called for armed police at every school and offered a programme to train schools in security.  A recent opinion poll by Gallup suggests a majority of Americans - 53% - agree with his response to the murders, rather than a ban on assault rifles, which is supported by 43%.

You do not have to go too far on the internet to find those who believe far more than that. There are those who believe that the president is plotting to take away their guns in a plan to impose an unspecified tyranny on America. I recently read an article from a fairly mainstream outlet, treating us to a comparison between Adolf Hitler and President Barack Obama. " Really? " The stage is set for a huge political and cultural battle in the new year.
Mr LaPierre's statement  gave no hint of reflection, there was no glimmer of a suggestion that he thought he could win over opponents. This was an outpouring of outrage that would delight those who agree with him. It was not a subtle appeal across the political spectrum, designed to make people stop and think that he has a point.

This is going to be a big battle. President Obama, in a video response to a 400,000 signature petition calling for gun control, says "we hear you", adding he will do everything in his power to ban assault rifles. The president has decided that in the new year he will begin a difficult, fraught battle over one of the most divisive, emotional, issues in American politics.

After LaPierre's outburst, New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg, who is an advocate for tighter gun control laws, said the NRA's response was "a paranoid, dystopian vision of a more dangerous and violent America where everyone is armed and no place is safe".

The guns used in the shooting had been legally bought by the gunman's mother, Nancy Lanza.
The shooting has seen some pro-gun congressmen say the mass shooting has prompted them to change their views on whether guns should be regulated more strictly in the US. Meanwhile California Senator Dianne Feinstein, who has been an advocate for tighter gun laws, said she would introduce new legislation when Congress meets for the first time in the new year. But there is no bipartisan consensus on the issue, with others backing the NRA line that teachers in schools should be armed in order to better defend students if a shooting occurs. ( Why don't we just arm the children?)

Since the mass shooting, the Obama administration has indicated that it will look for ways to tighten gun laws in the wake of the attack. Vice-President Joe Biden has been assigned to lead the response to the Sandy Hook massacre, and Mr Obama has demanded a set of "concrete proposals" within a month.

Speaker of the House John Boehner has said the Republican-controlled chamber would consider new proposals. Mr Obama has said he would support reinstating an assault weapons ban that lapsed in 2004.

The White House has also suggested the president would back other gun control measures on high-capacity ammunition clips and closing loopholes that allow people to buy guns without background checks. Well, it's a start anyway.

On the heels of one massacre came another as William Spengler shot four volunteer firefighters responding to a blaze at an upstate New York home early on Christmas Eve morning. Two of them were killed and the gunman reportedly killed himself. The incident is being described as a lure to kill first responders. The dead firefighters have been identified Tomasz Kaczowka and Michael Chiapperini, who is also a Webster police lieutenant. Firefighters Theodore Scardino and Joseph Hofsetter were injured.

Fiscal Cliff Looming


President Obama cut short his holidays to address the fiscal cliff issue which  threatens to plunge America back into recession. He has said the wealthy must pay more taxes under any political settlement to avert a looming budget crisis. He said Congress must act against the so-called fiscal cliff, a package of tax rises and spending cuts due early next year.

But in a duelling news conference, Republican House Speaker John Boehner said tax rises would not be acceptable. Budget analysts warn the US will tip into recession unless a deal is struck. Mr Obama has repeatedly called for the affluent to pay more, but such a plan is anathema to Republicans.

The fiscal cliff would see the expiry of George W Bush-era tax cuts at the end of 2012, combined with automatic, across-the-board reductions to military and domestic spending. In the East Room of the White House on Friday, Mr Obama said: "We can't just cut our way to prosperity. If we're serious about reducing the deficit, we have to combine spending cuts with revenue. And that means asking the wealthiest Americans to pay a little more in taxes."

President Obama is using the moral authority of his re-election to push his case. There is nothing new in his call for Congress to extend middle-class tax cuts. He said it repeatedly before the election.
But now he has a renewed mandate and his demand has a fresh weight behind it. He pointed out that even people who didn't vote for him told opinion pollsters that taxes should go up for the most wealthy.
The president continued: "I want to be clear. I'm not wedded to every detail of my plan. I'm open to compromise. I'm open to new ideas... but I refuse to accept any approach that isn't balanced."

He repeated his oft-stated call for tax rises on earnings over $250,000 (£157,000), while urging Congress to extend existing rates for 98% of taxpayers.
"This was a central question during the election," said Mr Obama. "It was debated over and over again. On Tuesday night, we found out that the majority of Americans agree with my approach."

He also invited Democratic and Republican leaders to the White House next week to discuss how to move forward.  A White House spokesman said afterwards the president would veto any bill extending tax cuts for those making more than $250,000.

But battle lines were drawn earlier on Friday, as Speaker Boehner restated his party's opposition to tax increases. The most powerful Republican lawmaker told a press briefing that "raising tax rates will slow down our ability to create the jobs that everyone says they want".
Mr Boehner suggested "special-interest loopholes in the tax code, both corporate and personal" could be eliminated, as he advocated "entitlement reform as well as tax reform with lower rates
"Entitlement reform" is Washington-speak for cuts to federal spending on programmes such as healthcare for the poor and elderly and Social Security pensions - cherished among Mr Obama's Democratic allies.

Mr Boehner also cited a Congressional Budget Office (CBO) report on Thursday which warned the US economy would fall back into recession if no deal were struck on the fiscal cliff.  The analysis projected that the package of tax rises and spending cuts would cut the ballooning US deficit by $503bn through to next September, but also shrink the economy by 0.5% and cost millions of jobs.

The International Monetary Fund has repeatedly warned that failure by US lawmakers to reach a deal would deepen uncertainty and anxiety over the global economy. Investor concerns over the issue have been partly blamed for two straight days of losses on financial markets this week

There has to be agreement on a plan to cut the deficit. If not, there will be serious consequences. If this fiscal bomb goes off, it is not just politicians who will be hurt. The whole US economy could collapse, and it would probably take what's left of the world economy with it.

What is the fiscal cliff?

  • Under a deal reached last year between President Obama and the Republican-controlled Congress, existing stimulus measures - mostly tax cuts - will expire on 1 January 2013
  • Cuts to defence, education and other government spending will then automatically come into force - the "fiscal cliff" - unless Congress acts
  • The economy does not have the momentum to absorb the shock from going over the fiscal cliff without going into recession

Dear Maxy,
I have an etiquette question. My non-profit organization is partnering with another non-profit to present a community workshop . We want to present the guest speaker with a gift . The two options are a $25 American Express card or flowers .
Which is more acceptable or appropriate ? My board members think the gift card is impersonal .
Do The Right Thing

Dear Do The Right Thing,
I would think a hybris of your ideas . How about the gift card with a single rose , so that when you present it , folks in the audience see something and the speaker gets something he or she can actually use ?
Be sure to include a note of gratitude with the card that is signed by the key members of your group .

Dear Maxy ,
I'm a 26-year-old gay male . I started seeing a guy when I was 19, and we dated for 5 years . This June , I found out I had contracted HIV from him and it totally devastated me .
I had resigned myself to remaining single and "bearing the burden alone."
I have told only one of my family members and am TERRIFIED to tell the rest . To make things worse , I've met an amazing guy who , despite my best efforts, I've fallen in love with .
How can I tell him about this ? Help !
Desperately confused

Dear Desperately Confused ,
I'm so sorry you contracted HIV . I understand being wary of telling your family . You don't have to tell them . But you do have an obligation to tell the man you have fallen in love with . Do you run the risk that he'll run away ? Yes , but not necessarily .
I recommend that you get counseling that will support you in dealing with your health condition and navigating your relationship . One source is the Gay Men's Health Crisis ( .
You also should know that many couples have weathered this storm . As an example , I have a friend who has been HIV-positive for many years . He didn't talk about it at first, but he didn't hide it , either . He has worked in New York City , and his friends have long known his status .
He has been in a relationship with someone who is not HIV-positive for many years . The great news is that this year his partner asked him to get married . Because of the laws here in this state, they were able to do just that .
You can have a full life . Take care of your health first . Get support, and tell the man you hope to make your partner .

Dear Maxy ,
My friend's niece just got arrested for shoplifting . He is so upset about it , and I don't know how to help him .
She has been misbehaving for a long time . She is 15 years old and is always doing crazy things, like staying out all night , smoking drugs and not going to school . She was always kind of bad , but after her grandmother died, she got a lot worse .
What can I do to help him ? He keeps asking me for advice .

Dear Worried ,
The best thing this family can do for their troubled teen is to get her mental health support . She should visit a counselor with whom she can talk about her life, the loss of her grandmother and her choices  . She needs to have a safe space to be able to talk about what's happening in her life and learn that it's possible for her to decide her fate .
Some parents also choose to send their children to schools for so-called delinquent teens where they are immersed in learning discipline . Other families have used the military as a tool to help teach their teens right from wrong . Sometimes the structure is helpful for young people who have behaved recklessly over time .
Most important is for your friend's niece to be able to grieve and heal . She needs to know that she is loved, even though her behavior is unacceptable . Your friend also needs to know that the adults in his family probably cannot handle her challenges on their own . They , too , should seek professional help .

Tuesday, December 18, 2012

What we know about Adam Lanza

As Newtown moves from shock to despair and into the long process of recovery, one question continues to frustrate the community's search for answers: why a 20-year-old man should have set out last Friday morning on a mission to kill children. With every day that passes, a clear understanding of that central mystery appears to grow more elusive. 

Police investigators are also bumping up against hurdles in their struggle to piece together the shooter's inner world. Lieutenant Paul Vance, the official spokesman for Connecticut state police, has previously said that detectives had found "good evidence" that would help build up a complete picture, though he refused to specify the nature of the material.

It now transpires that Lanza left no note elucidating why he wanted first to kill his mother and then carry out a mass shooting that left 26 people, including 20 children, dead. Nor did he leave any suicide note. Furthermore, before setting out on his killing spree, Lanza appears to have destroyed the hard disc of his home computer, and in so doing probably closed investigators' best window into his intentions. It does point to planning and premeditation though as does amassing a large stock of ammunition. Shooting his mother in her sleep before setting off on his Sandy Hook rampage may also be an indication of premeditation. However without the main building blocks of any substantial understanding , investigators will have to fill in as best they can. To that effect, detectives have already begun a systematic round of interviews with relatives, friends and neighbours of the Lanza family.

What we do know is that Lanza was a very intelligent but withdrawn individual who had difficulty associating with others. As yet there has been no confirmation of any mental health diagnosis, and police have indicated he had no criminal track record. In 2002 he attended Sandy Hook public school for the fifth grade then moved on to a middle school. In 2007, he started at Newtown high school in the middle of the town, the same institution in whose auditorium President Obama delivered his impassioned speech on Sunday night. A former director of security at the school, Richard Novia, told the Wall Street Journal that Lanza had been assigned a psychologist early on in his time there, not out of fear that he might harm others but out of concern for the teenager.
"He was very withdrawn and meek; he was one of those freshmen coming in very much in need of watching. At that point in his life, he posed no threat to anyone else. We were worried about him being the victim, or that he could hurt himself," Novia said.

Around that time, Adam Diaz, another student at the high school who was in the year above, got to know him. Diaz told CNN that he was "a very intelligent person, he really was, though the way he acted around other people was a little withdrawn."
The two teenagers attended the school tech club together where they made videos. "Adam had this typical nerd look: belts, tucked-in shirt. He had a computer case instead of a backpack like everyone, and he even had a pocket protector to keep pens in," Diaz said.
"We had a feeling that there might have been something wrong with him, but we never asked. We thought it wasn't appropriate to do so."
Newtown gunman Adam Lanza
After Newtown high school, Lanza attended, on a part-time basis, Western Connecticut State University in the adjacent town of Danbury, where his academic record was described as "medium to poor". He dropped out before completing his studies, and after that appears to have been relatively adrift, with no employment or further education and living at home with his mother.
The one thing that he did appear to excel at was computer sciences, in which he drew an A grade at university. There is some evidence that Lanza's interest in computers extended to gaming. He was an occasional customer of GameStop in Danbury, and Diaz said that at high school he would invite members of the tech club back to his house to play video games such as Warcraft III: Reign of Chaos and Starcraft.

The connection with gaming has sparked, perhaps inevitably, a debate about the influence of violent video games in US society. But the information dates back to 2007-08, and there is no confirmed evidence that Lanza was engaging in video gaming in the run-up to the attack. It was around the time that Lanza was studying at Western Connecticut that his parents, Nancy and Peter, divorced after 27 years of marriage, citing "irreconcilable differences". Again, precisely what impact that family rift had on Adam Lanza remains unclear, though there are hints.

It appears that after the divorce, Adam broke off relations both with his father, a senior executive of a tax planning firm, and his elder brother Ryan, a business consultant in New Jersey. The terms of the divorce indicated that Adam would "reside primarily with the mother". It also says that Nancy would be responsible for recouping insurance payments for "hospital, optical, psychiatric, psychological and nursing expenses". It seems fair to say that the divorce threw Adam into a position of increased dependency on his mother, with whom he spent virtually all his time in the mansion-style house in Newtown that she took over as part of the divorce settlement.

Nancy Lanza owned at least five guns, including the four that were found at Sandy Hook school. Among them was the Bushmaster semi-automatic rifle that was used to carry out most of the killings, and two high-powered handguns, used routinely by police forces across the US, all of which were equipped with high-capacity magazines holding 30 rounds.
Nancy frequented firing ranges and is known to have taken her son on target practice at least a few times. To have done so was by no means out of the ordinary in Connecticut, a state that despite its New England air of tranquility is as wedded to  guns as any other in America. There are 36 gun shops and shooting ranges within a 10-mile radius of the Lanza's home, where his mother became the first of his victims, shot with one of her own weapons.

Sunday, December 16, 2012

Has World War II carrier pigeon message been cracked?

The coded message

 The message has foiled the experts, who have appealed to the public for help

An encrypted World War II message found in a fire place strapped to the remains of a dead carrier pigeon may have been cracked by a Canadian enthusiast. Gord Young, from Peterborough, in Ontario, says it took him 17 minutes to decypher the message after realizing a code book he inherited was the key.

Mr Young says the 1944 note uses a simple World War I code to detail German troop positions in Normandy. GCHQ says it would be interested to see his findings.

The message was discovered by 74-year-old David Martin when he was renovating the chimney of his house in Bletchingley, Surrey. Among the trash, he found parts of a dead pigeon - including a leg, attached to which was a red canister. Inside the canister was a thin piece of paper with the words "Pigeon Service" at the top and 27 handwritten blocks of code.

The message - which attracted world-wide media attention - was put in the hands of Britain's top codebreakers at GCHQ at the beginning of November, but they have been unable to unlock the puzzle. They remain convinced the message is impossible to decrypt, although a spokesman said they would be happy to look at Mr Young's proposed solution,.
"We stand by our statement of 22 November 2012 that without access to the relevant codebooks and details of any additional encryption used, the message will remain impossible to decrypt," he said.
"Similarly it is also impossible to verify any proposed solutions, but those put forward without reference to the original cryptographic material are unlikely to be correct."

However, Mr Young, the editor of a local history group, Lakefield Heritage Research, believes "folks are trying to over-think this matter.  It's not complex," he says. Using his great-uncle's Royal Flying Corp [92 Sqd-Canadian] aerial observers' book, he said he was able to work out the note in minutes.

  • AOAKN - Artillery Observer At "K" Sector, Normandy
  • HVPKD - Have Panzers Know Directions
  • FNFJW - Final Note [confirming] Found Jerry's Whereabouts
  • DJHFP - Determined Jerry's Headquarters Front Posts
  • CMPNW - Counter Measures [against] Panzers Not Working
  • PABLIZ - Panzer Attack - Blitz
  • KLDTS - Know [where] Local Dispatch Station
  • 27 / 1526 / 6 - June 27th, 1526 hours

He believes it was written by 27-year-old Sgt William Stott, a Lancashire Fusilier, who had been dropped into Normandy - with pigeons - to report on German positions. Sgt Stott was killed a few weeks later and is buried in a Normandy war cemetery.

The code is simple, relying heavily on acronyms, said Mr Young.
"Essentially, Stott was taught by a WWI trainer; a former Artillery observer-spotter. You can deduce this from the spelling of Serjeant which dates deep in Brits military and as late as WWI," he said.
"Seeing that spelling almost automatically tells you that the acronyms are going to be similar to those of WWI.

"You will see the World War I artillery acronyms are shorter, but, that is because, you have to remember, that, the primitive radio-transmitters that sent the Morse code were run by batteries, and, those didn't last much more than a half-hour tops, probably less.
"Thus all World War I codes had to be S-n-S, Short-n-Sweet. And, as you can clearly see, Stott managed to get a major report out on a pigeon."

Saturday, December 15, 2012

Timeline Update...Newtown Massacre

7:53 p.m.: President Obama Will Visit Sandy Hook Families.
7:50 p.m.: The father of 20-year-old Adam Lanza issued a statement Saturday, according to the AP: ”Our hearts go out to the families and friends who lost loved ones and to all those who were injured. Our family is grieving along with all those who have been affected by this enormous tragedy. No words can truly express how heartbroken we are. We are in a state of disbelief and trying to find whatever answers we can. We too are asking why. We have cooperated fully with law enforcement and will continue to do so. Like so many of you, we are saddened, but struggling to make sense of what has transpired.”
 6:12 p.m.: Rockingham County Sheriff Downing reads a statement from the Champion family, relatives of the Lanza family. “The family of Nancy Lanza share the grief of a community and the nation of we struggle to comprehend the tremendous loss that we all share our hearts and prayers are with those who share in this loss the families teachers staff and students of Sandy Brook Elementary school the first responders and to all others touched by this tragedy on behalf of Nancy’s mother and siblings we reach out to the community of Newtown and express our heartfelt sorrow for the incomprehensible and profound innocence that has affected so many the family requests that you respect their privacy during this time of anguish and loss.”
5:38 p.m.: Emilie Parker Memorial Fund has been set up at
 5:30 p.m.: Father of Emilie Parker delivers remarks: ”First of all, I’d really like to offer our deepest condolences to all the families who were directly affected this shooting. It’s a horrific tragedy, and we wanted everybody to know that our hearts and our prayers go out to them. This includes the family of the shooter.”

5:19 p.m.: The gunman who massacred 20 children in a Connecticut elementary school riddled them with bullets, shooting some of them as many as 11 times, the medical examiner said today.
5:11 p.m.: Relatives of the Lanza family are expected to hold a press conference at 6 p.m. outside the Kingston (NH) Police Department.

LIVE UPDATES: Newtown, Conn., School Shooting


Adam Lanza

Adam Lanza

 Adam Lanza
10:03 p.m.: WABC News and ABC News report that the Sandy Hook elementary school principal, Dawn Hochsprung, was among those killed during the Newtown, Conn., school rampage, according to multiple sources.
9:37 p.m.: A Sig Sauer and a Glock semi automatic handgun were used in the slaying and that .223 shell casings – a round used in a semi automatic military style rifle – were also found.
9:16 p.m.: Numerous relatives and friends of the gunman, Adam Lanza, and his mother were being interviewed by the FBI in New Jersey, Connecticut and Massachusetts, all in an effort to put together a better picture of the gunman and any possible explanation for today’s tragedy.
7:53 p.m.: Connecticut State Police Lt. J. Paul Vance said at a news conference that would be no more pressers tonight and they will not be releasing the identities of the victims tonight. “We’ve never seen anything like this. It’s heart wrenching for us,” Vance said.
7:30 p.m.: Families of Virginia Tech victims release statement on Sandy Hook School shooting: “The immediate concern we have is for those families in Newtown whose lives are now altered, forever. From our VTV experience, as families of the victims and survivors of the April 16, 2007 massacre at Virginia Tech, we know that their loss is incredible. Helping all to deal with the aftermath will take a lifetime of love and dedication,”
7:00 p.m.: Authorities continue to question Ryan Lanza, the shooter’s brother, but say he is not under any suspicion.
6:25 p.m.: Nancy Lanza, mother of gunman Adam Lanza, was found dead in her Connecticut home. The 20-year-old man, shot her in the face, authorities told ABC News. Following the murder of his mother, Lanza, carrying at least two semi-automatic pistols and an automatic rifle, drove to Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Conn., where his mother worked. There he killed 20 children and six adults. Lanza was found dead in the school with a self-inflicted gunshot wound. The rifle was found in his car, authorities said.
 6:00 p.m.: “Evil visited this community today,” said Conn. Gov Dan Malloy.
5:29 p.m.: Gunman’s mother was teacher’s aide at school and not a teacher as previously believed, authorities say.
4:52 p.m: Neighbors described Adam Lanza to ABC as “odd” and displaying characteristics associated with mental illness.
4:41 p.m.:Federal law enforcement sources now say Connecticut school shooting gunman was Adam Lanza, 20, and not his brother Ryan Lanza, 24, as earlier reported. Adam was found dead in the school along with his mother, a kindergarten teacher there.
4:18 p.m.: “My deepest sympathies are with families of those affected, and my determination to stop this madness is stronger than ever,” tweets New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg, a staunch gun-control advocate.
4:17 p.m.: Federal sources initially identified the suspect as Ryan Lanza, 24, of New Jersey, but there appears now to be confusion over the gunman’s identity.
3:42 p.m.: Shooting took place in “one section of the school in two rooms,” says Vance, adds there is only one known shooter “right now.”
3:40 p.m.: 18 children pronounced dead at school; 2 dead at hospital; 6 adults dead at school, says Conn. State Police spokesman Paul Vance.
3:18 p.m.: “As a country, we have been through this too many times,” President Obama says about shooting.
3:17 p.m.: President Obama says majority of victims were students ages five to 10 years old.
3:15 p.m.:President Obama visibly emotional in remarks about Newtown, Conn. school shooting.
3:15: Gunman Ryan Lanza’s mother was a kindergarten teacher at the school. She and many of her students were found dead in the school.
2:48 p.m.: Hero teacher Kaitlin Roig tells ABC News that she barricaded her first grade students in classroom bathroom and locked the door when she first heard gun shots. “The kids were being so good. They asked: ‘Can we go see if anyone is out there? … I just want Christmas… I don’t want to die, I just want to have Christmas.’ I said, you’re going to have Christmas and Hanukkah.. I tried to be positive.”
2:37 p.m.: Gunman Ryan Lanza’s mother found among the dead at Sandy Hook Elementary School.
2:28 p.m. The gunman in the Newtown, Conn., school shooting has been identified as Ryan Lanza, 24, of New Jersey. A dead body has also been found in his parents’ home, officials said. Lanza’s body was found in the school.
2:22 p.m.: Federal agents investigating whether slain Connecticut school gunman had a relationship with someone in the school, sources say.
1:44 p.m.: “The scene is secure. The public is not in danger,” says Connecticut State Police spokesman Paul Vance.
1:42 p.m.:” Shooter is deceased inside the [school,]” says Connecticut State Police spokesman Paul Vance.
 1:26 p.m.: President Obama has been briefed on shooting by FBI director Bob Mueller and spoken with Conn Gov. Dan Malloy.
1:17 p.m: One shooter is described as 24-years-old, armed with four weapons and wearing a bullet-proof vest, sources tell ABC News.
1:09 p.m.: Twenty-seven people, or more, most of them children killed in shooting, sources tell ABC News.
12:57 p.m.: Fatality numbers continue to rise. More than 25 people, mostly young children, killed in Newtown, Conn. school shooting, sources tell ABC News.
12:47 p.m.: More than 20 people, most of them young children, killed in elementary school shooting, according to law enforcement sources.
12:36 p.m.: Law enforcement conducting car to car searches in area of school.
12:26 p.m.: More than a dozen persons, including children shot and killed at Newtown, Conn., elementary school, federal, and state law enforcement sources tell ABC News.
12:24 p.m.: Law enforcement agents with weapons drawn seen running into wooded area behind the school.
12:19 p.m.:Federal agents are at the scene of the school with guns still drawn as parents rush to pick up their children.

Friday, December 14, 2012

Tradgedy at Sandy Hook...Update

A shooting at an elementary school in Newtown, Conn. on Friday morning killed 27 people, including 20 children, law enforcement sources said.
The dead at Sandy Hook Elementary, about 60 miles northeast of New York City, included the suspected gunman. One other person was injured. Police said that the shootings were carried out in two rooms, located in the same section of the school.

They said 18 of the children had died at the scene, and two more died after being taken to hospitals.
In addition, police described a “secondary crime scene,” elsewhere in Newtown, where another adult was found dead. A Connecticut State Police spokesman, Lt. J. Paul Vance said that the second scene was discovered during the investigation into the school shootings. He did not give details about how the two incidents were connected.

Vance did not release the gunman’s identity. Law enforcement sources said that this was a matter of some confusion for investigators: at first, they believed the shooter had been Ryan Lanza, 24, whose mother worked at the school. Based on reports from those sources, the Washington Post and many other news outlets identified Ryan Lanza as the suspected shooter earlier Friday.
But as the afternoon went on, investigators determined Ryan Lanza was not the shooter after all. Instead, one law enforcement source said, the killer was believed to be his brother Adam Lanza, 20. It was unclear where Ryan Lanza was on Friday.

Adding to the confusion: law enforcment sources said a second person was also in custody related to the shootings. But that person’s identity was not released.
This much was clear, law enforcement sources said: the two men’s mother, a kindergarten teacher at the school, was among the first killed. And many of the young victims were her students.

Obama Makes Statement ABout Shooting


 The president  cries as he gives his statement

School Shooting at Sandy Hook

Published on Dec 14, 2012

One of school shooter's parents found dead in their NJ home
3 guns recovered - .223 Bushmaster, Glock, Sig-Sauer

Principal was the target, confirmed!!! SECOND SUSPECT BEING LOOKED FOR.

All schools in the area are closed, gunman had 2 guns, both hand pistols which have been recovered. Still unclear as to how they died, suicide, or killed by police.

A lone gunman (SUSPECTED ONLY 1) at the center of a terrifying Friday morning elementary school shooting in Newtown, Conn., has been killed, authorities say.

The Hartford Courant reported that shortly after 9:40 a.m., the shooter was in the main office at Sandy Hook Elementary School and at least one victim had numerous gunshot wounds. Two handguns were recovered from the scene.

Mayor Mark Boughton said several victims had been taken to local hospitals. But details were sketchy. The Newtown Bee reported that a police officer carried a seriously wounded child from the building. (The Courant also said one shooter was reported dead).

Groups of students — some crying, some holding hands — were being escorted away from the school by their teachers. Some students were still in the school at 10:30 a.m., after it was placed on lock down, parents said.

The school is in a residential, wooded neighborhood about 90 minutes north of New York City. It has has 39 teachers and about 650 students. A reverse 911 call went out to parents warning of an incident. Parents were being reunited with children. But, NBC Connecticut reported, police are searching the area behind the school with guns drawn.

Dozens of state troopers are on the scene assisting local police. Heavily armed police gathered in front of the school around 10:45 a.m., and a number of stretchers were set up.

The school superintendent's office says the district has locked down schools as a preventive measure to ensure the safety of students and staff. State police spokesman Lt. Paul Vance says they have a number of personnel on the scene to assist.

Reports so far state the Principal of the school and another teacher were shot. Also children were seen to be injured.
1 gunman dead, police remain vigilant and search for any other suspects.

Christmas Giggles



Dear Maxy ,
I am a 60-year-old divorced female and have been seeing "Harrison" for three years . Despite the fact that harrison is a wonderful man ... honest , funny , handsome , loyal and hardworking ... there is one thing I can't get past ; he is terribly under-endowed , if you get my drift . I'm embarrassed to even think of complaining about this , but it affects the whole lovemaking thing . I've always had a strong sex drive , and the lack of ,um , size is unsatisfying .
How do I get past this ? I truly care about Harrison and hate to think that I'm so shallow that his size would matter so much . It's as petty as a man saying his girlfriend is great , but she's flat-chested , so she's out . But it's bothering me enough to write .
Little Thing in the Way

Dear Little Thing ,
We won't get in the "size doesn't Matter" discussion , because it obviously matters to you . First try Kegel exercises (talk to your gynecologist for information). It is also possible to find greater satisfaction through different positions and techniques and the use of sex toys . But only you can determine how immportant this is to your relationship . If you truly love Harrison , this is something manageable . Otherwise , it's simply  a source of frustration .

Dear Maxy ,
I could really use help from you and your readers . I need to know if any of your readers have had a spouse cheat on them . Did they stay together or did they file for divorce ? What was the effect on their children ?
My husband had a lengthy affair with a woman who was 10 years his senior . We spent 14 months in counselling to try and work things out . I think I have an understanding of why the affair happened in the first place . But I cannot get past all of the hurt , the lies , the mistrust and the failure to honor our marital vows .
I recently moved out of his house so I could get a better grip on getting over the affair . This really hurts and I need some advice .

Dear Heartbroken ,
It seems as if you did the right things , from getting counselling to moving out after you felt you weren't healing .
Some couples are able to weather an affair and reclaim their love on the other side . To do so , both have to want the relationship and be willing to talk out any issues that come up as they finally forgive each other for everything that led up to break in the marriage vows . Is this an easy process ? No .
Because you have children , it's essential that you remain respectful of each other and connected to your children, regardless of what happens between the two of you . Resist the temptation to speak poorly about each other , no matter what happens .
You should continue to get counselling support for your personal healing .

Dear Maxy ,
Every year , I get presents for my long-lost relatives and they send me broken , used stuff or nothing at all and no thank you .
Are you graded on what you give , or what you get . That's what I'm "REALLY" worried about ! Still , this year I'm feeling like I'm boiling over about it . They're very well off and I just have this cottage industry trandcribing legal documents . It feels like they don't even want to be related to me . Do I get them stuff anyway ?
Feeling Dissed

Dear feeling Dissed ,
You are correct that you should not give to recieve . At the same time , if you get no joy from giving to these people, stop giving to them . Clearly they don't value gifts in the same way you do .
Instead of sending them something that you have bought, consider sending a lovely holiday card with a personalized message . This connects you in a loving and meaningful way .

Thursday, December 13, 2012

Chasing Ice

In the spring of 2005, acclaimed National Geographic photographer James Balog was dispatched to the Arctic on a tricky assignment: to capture images that tell the story of the Earth’s changing climate. At the time, Balog was skeptical. Even if human-caused climate change is real, can we correct it? But what he saw on that first trip was too compelling to dispute. Balog had to act and so created the Extreme Ice Survey, a multi-year project that would, through time-lapse photography, document dramatic changes to numerous glaciers around the world. With stunning cinematography and access to never before seen areas of the Arctic, Chasing Ice documents Balog’s incredible journey to provide incontrovertible proof—at great risk to his own health—that our planet is in crisis and what we do to it matters.



The ice is really melting. Sea levels will rise alarmingly and swamp the lowlands and the coasts of all coastal countries. We will be more vulnerable to the heat of the sun without the ice to reflect the solar rays back out into space. The oceans will heat up and aquatic life will die. I am not even scratching the surface of the devastation we face. Find out what your country is doing about it. Find out what you can do about it. This is about the survival of our planet.

Wednesday, December 12, 2012

Hello 4179 Toutatis


While Asteroid 4179 Toutatis was never a threat to hit Earth during its quite-distant pass on Dec. 11-12, astronomers were keeping their instruments and eyes on this space rock to learn more about it, as well as learning more about the early solar system. Even at closest approach, 4179 Toutatis was 7 million km away or 18 times farther than the Moon. But that is close enough for radar imaging by NASA’s Goldstone Observatory, which has recently upgraded to a new digital imaging system, as well as optical imaging by other astronomers. Already, there are some preliminary findings from this 4.5-kilometer- long (3-mile-long) asteroid’s flyby.

“Toutatis appears to have a complicated internal structure,” said radar team member Michael Busch of the National Radio Astronomy Observatory. “Our radar measurements are consistent with the asteroid’s little lobe being ~15% denser than the big lobe; and they indicate 20% to 30% over-dense cores inside the two lobes.”
NASA says this raises the interesting possibility that asteroid Toutatis is actually a mash up of smaller space rocks. “Toutatis could be re-accumulated debris from an asteroid-asteroid collision in the main belt,” Busch said. The new observations will help test this idea.

Astronomers are getting to know this asteroid, as it passes by Earth’s orbit every 4 years. It is one of the largest known potentially hazardous asteroids (PHAs), and its orbit is inclined less than half-a-degree from Earth’s. No other kilometer-sized PHA moves around the Sun in an orbit so nearly coplanar with our own. This makes it an important target for radar studies.



Giant Asteroid...Just Passing By

  Maybe I'm crazy but it doesn't look like a peanut shaped asteroid to me. However, that is what they are calling it.

Reposted from National Geographic:

The giant asteroid is set to buzz Earth next week, and astronomers are already keeping their eyes on the skies—but not because 4179 Toutatis poses any danger. Toutatis, at 2.7 miles (4.46 kilometers) long and 1.5 miles (2.4 kilometers) wide, is one of the largest asteroids that comes anywhere near Earth. But only an astronomer would consider its closest approach to be "near." When the peanut-shaped rock is at its closest to the Earth on December 12, it'll be more than 4.3 million miles (6.9 million kilometers) away, or more than 18 times the distance from the Earth to the moon.

So why are astronomers eagerly awaiting Toutatis? By figuring out what the asteroid is made of, they'll have a better picture of the early days of the solar system. And by refining a model of the asteroid's rotation, they'll get a better idea of its composition. Michael Busch, a fellow at the National Radio Astronomy Observatory, studied radar images of Toutatis' previous passes—the asteroid approaches Earth every four years—to try to figure out how it was moving through space.
 "It's tumbling," Busch said. "It's spinning around its long axis, while that in turn is precessing around in a circle, like a gyroscope."

Busch and his colleagues were hoping to use radar images taken in 2000, 2004, and 2008 to update a 1996 model of Toutatis' spin state.
 "But this became more complicated when we understood that gravitational tides were changing the spin," he said.
Every time Toutatis came close to the sun or the Earth, gravity would tug slightly on the asteroid, changing its spin by a tiny fraction. But over the years, those tugs added up. Once Busch and his collaborators were able to account for these changes, they had a much better model of its spin. And that told them how the asteroid's mass was distributed.

Toutatis is shaped sort of like a lumpy peanut, or from some angles, like a poorly built snowman. It's long and narrow, with two distinct lobes, one smaller than the other. Busch's analysis found that the asteroid's shape isn't the only thing that's lumpy; its mass is also distributed in a lumpy fashion rather than evenly spread throughout the asteroid. "It may have a quite complicated internal structure," he said.

It's possible the asteroid got its internal structure when a smaller body smashed into it, throwing material off. Scheeres and Busch will be analyzing their new observations of Toutatis as it gets closer to Earth over the next week; Busch plans to refine his model of the asteroid's spin after seeing the new radar images.
But astronomers aren't the only ones who will be able to see Toutatis on its flyby. Backyard hobbyists can get in on the fun too. At its closest approach, Toutatis will be "too faint to see with the naked eye, but well within the range of a small backyard telescope," Busch said.

And no, it's not going to hit Earth, so doomsday theorists, relax.
"There may be more nonsense circulating about Toutatis than many other objects, but that's because it's a large object that makes repeated close flybys of Earth and has an interesting shape," he said.

 Answer me this brilliant scientists...If a smallish space rock just bumped the asteroid, lightly... is it possble that the trajectory of the asteroid could be changed slightly? If so, isn't it possible that with each pass it could come a little closer to earth ? Nuff said. There are billions of space rocks, wandering meteors and hunks of dark matter floating up there. Chew on that Doomsday Theorists.

Your friendly neighborhood Genie.

Tuesday, December 11, 2012

Egypt's Largest Sarcophagus


Merneptah Owned Egypt’s Largest Sarcophagus

Pharaoh Merneptah, who infamously boasted in a victory stela of having laid waste to the Israelites in the waning years of the 13th century B.C.E., was buried in the largest sarcophagus ever commissioned by an Egyptian king. According to researchers and conservators at the Royal Ontario Museum in Toronto, Merneptah’s mummy was placed within a series of four nested sarcophagi, the outermost of which measures 13 feet long, 7 feet wide and more than 8 feet tall. Although the outer sarcophagus only survived in fragments after it was burned and broken into pieces around 3,000 years ago, the researchers, who are working to reconstruct and restore the giant burial box, believe it was the largest ever commissioned in ancient Egypt. While it remains uncertain why Merneptah wanted or needed such a large sarcophagus, the researchers believe the box’s large surfaces may have been needed to depict the extensive ritual illustrations and magical spells that are repeated numerous times across the four sarcophagi.