Sunday, September 30, 2012

'No Easy Day' Offers Insight into Bin Laden Raid

Book cover No Easy Day

Copies of a book by former Navy SEAL titled "No Easy Day" are seen on display at a bookstore in Washington, DC
The killing of Osama Bin Laden affected those who were responsible in different ways. For "Jen", the CIA analyst who tracked down the al-Qaeda leader (  referred to in No Easy Day, a US Navy commando's first-hand account of the raid ), it resulted in floods of tears.
"She'd spent half a decade tracking this man... now there he was at her feet".

For "Mark Owen" the pseudonymous US Navy Seal who has annoyed the Pentagon so much by publishing that expose, it contributed to a decision to "step off the speeding train" of high-end special operations.  He had been part of the secret Tier 1 counter-terrorist operations for 10 years, taking part in something like 500 operational raids.

Nobody in Washington would have minded if Mr Owen had drifted off quietly into corporate security work or one of the other paths often trodden by former special operators. But he decided to write No Easy Day.  I don't imagine he would ever have considered doing so if Bin Laden were still at large, and his decision to publish is a telling indicator of how far the climate for the discussion of the al-Qaeda threat - and the largely secret methods used to combat it - has been changed by the death of the organization's founding leader.

The offensive operations carried out since 9/11 - mainly in Iraq and Afghanistan - have been run by several thousand intelligence people and special operators who have been bound by a vow of silence.
In Mr Owen's case the fact that the Bin Laden raid was of such enormous importance gave it great market potential and the huge blow the raid served  the al-Qaeda organization seem to have combined to propel him towards publication without getting official clearance for his manuscript.

What emerges is a vivid portrait of the world in which these people lived, going out on raids so many times to kill or capture suspected terrorists that they all began to merge. In the years before 9/11 a Seal or an SAS trooper would have been lucky to take part in five operational missions during an entire career. Now there is a generation of people like Mr Owen who have done a hundred times that many. The approach has been to mount so many raids against militant networks that they are taken down faster than they can regenerate.

The process of "Find-Fix-Finish-Exploit" has been applied to thousands of people. In other words: working out their place in the insurgency; locating them at a particular time and spot; turning up - usually in the middle of the night - to take them; harvesting whatever information they might have through interrogation or the analysis of their laptops, phones or other possessions.

Mr Owen appears to think that this last aspect of the Bin Laden operation was the weakest. He says that because the helicopters circling Bin Laden's compound were low on fuel, that the assault force had to leave before a really thorough job had been done compiling the al-Qaeda leader's personal archive.

He also argues that a growing amount of red tape was hampering their operations in Afghanistan at the time he decided to hang up his silenced assault rifle. Those pressures - from an Afghan government, fed up, claiming  the wrong houses were  being hit, and innocent families killed - have emerged before.

But the special operators' reaction to them has not. There are signs that the special operations campaign in Afghanistan has been markedly less successful in reducing the wider pattern of violence than it was in Iraq. In writing his book, Mr Owen, however, has not attempted much strategic analysis. His book, understandably enough, focuses on the door-kickers' view, the dedication of those willing to go up against suicide bombers and extremist leaders, as well as the losses suffered by his comrades.

He has done a service to openness and accountability in writing it. The Pentagon, however, is considering legal action. It will be interesting to see, once the election is over whether it goes through with it.

Plankton close up and in technicolor

Scientists from 21 laboratories across 10 countries collaborated on the project, which aims to provide the first comprehensive overview of a global plankton ecosystem. The extensive samples and data from the Atlantic, Pacific, Antarctic and Indian Oceans may take up to 10 years to be analyzed.

Deadly floods hit southern Spain


At least 10 people have died after heavy rains triggered flash floods in southern Spain, officials have said. The strength of the floods overturned cars, closed roads and railway lines, damaged bridges and homes, and forced hundreds to leave their properties.
The hardest hit areas were the provinces of Malaga and Almeria, and the Murcia region. Further north in the town of Gandia, a tornado struck a temporary fairground, knocking over a ferris wheel and  injuring 35 people, 15 seriously. Across parts of southern Spain, the clean-up has begun.
Until now, there had been very little rain this year across Spain, and the south was particularly dry after the summer. So much rain, in such a short space of time led to some of the worst flooding Spain has seen in years. At least 600 people had to be evacuated from their homes in the Andalucia region, which contains Malaga and Almeria, officials said.
Some 24.5 cm (9.6 in) of rain fell on Friday morning alone, according to Spain's weather agency.
A regional government spokesperson in Malaga told the AFP news agency the rains were decreasing and seemed to be shifting towards Granada and Almeria. However, torrential rain and violent thunderstorms are predicted to continue in the south of the country over the weekend.
Several persons are still missing and presumed dead. Caroline Zartash-Lloyd, who runs a small hotel in Alora, said that her neighbours had lost livestock, including pigs, hens, horses and donkeys, which could be seen floating in the flood waters. Local people would be hit particularly hard, she suggested, because it was a poor part of Spain with unemployment of 30% and few people could afford insurance.

Bridge destroyed in the town of Alora, Spain, 29 Sept 2012

"Cars were washed away and we lost a large bridge in Alora and another sizeable bridge in [the village of] El Valle de Abadeljais," she said. "The farmland was completely washed away, just after the farmers had stopped ploughing.
The earth's weather is becoming harsher. It's an angry planet. 

Saturday, September 29, 2012

Youngest Prisoner Leaves Guantanamo for Canada


The youngest inmate at Guantanamo Bay, 26-year-old Omar Khadr from Canada, has been repatriated to his home country to serve the remainder of an eight-year sentence he received in 2010 after pleading guilty to a series of crimes, including the murder of a US soldier in Afghanistan. Khadr was 15 when he was captured by US forces and has been kept at the controversial detention facility since shortly after his capture. Canada agreed to take him back two years ago and he could be eligible for parole next year.

The US Department of Defense said in a statement: "The United States government has returned Khadr to Canada where he will serve out his remaining sentence. The United States co-ordinated with the government of Canada regarding appropriate security and humane treatment measures."

Khadr was sentenced to 40 years in prison by a US military tribunal at Guantanamo Bay in 2010 on war crimes charges. The charges against him were: murder in violation of the law of war; attempted murder in violation of the law of war; conspiracy; providing material support for terrorism; and spying. But, as part of his plea deal, his sentence was limited to eight years. Under the deal, he became eligible to return to Canada last October.

The majority of Canadians supported the campaign to repatriate Khadr, now 26, though the country remains split over the case. Omar Khadr is a known supporter of the al-Qaeda terrorist network and a convicted terrorist. Many still consider him and some members of his family a threat, while others see him as a child victim of both an extreme Islamist ideology and cruel and unusual treatment at the hands of the US authorities.

Omar Khadr's father, an associate of Osama Bin Laden, took the family to Peshawar, in Pakistan, to support the Afghan mujahideen in their war against the Soviets when Khadr was a child. The father died in a firefight with Pakistani troops near the Afghan border in 2003. One brother is paralyzed from the waist down after being wounded in that same battle. Another has just been released from jail in Toronto after successfully fighting extradition to the US on terror charges. Omar Khadr's sister, Zaynab, and his mother, Maha, are well-known in Canada for their radical views.

Some 166 detainees remain in detention at Guantanamo Bay.

Friday, September 28, 2012

Where is Jimmy Hoffa ?


New clues have come to light and perhaps the mystery will be solved and put to rest at last; a mystery that has baffled and been debated for decades and will not go away.
James Riddle "Jimmy" Hoffa (born February 14, 1913 – disappeared July 30, 1975, declared legally dead July 30, 1982) was an American labor union leader.
Hoffa, whose mysterious death has eclipsed his tumultuous life, was last seen on July 30, 1975, outside a restaurant in Bloomfield Township, another Detroit suburb, about 30 miles from the Roseville site. The FBI, which investigated the disappearance, has said it believes that Hoffa met with two organized crime figures, one of whom was a former Teamsters associate.

The President Responds to Netanyahu's Pressure

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - President Barack Obama and Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on Friday expressed solidarity on the goal of preventing Iran from acquiring a nuclear weapon, the White House said, amid signs of easing tensions over their differences on how to confront Tehran.
Obama, who opted not to meet Netanyahu on his U.S. visit, spoke by phone to the Israeli leader, who used his U.N. speech on Thursday to keep up pressure on Washington to set a "red line" for Tehran. But in a softening of his approach, Netanyahu also signaled that no Israeli attack on Iran was imminent before the November 6 U.S. presidential election.
"The two leaders underscored that they are in full agreement on the shared goal of preventing Iran from obtaining a nuclear weapon," the White House said in a statement. But it stopped short of saying Obama had given any ground on his resistance to issuing an ultimatum to Tehran as Netanyahu has demanded.
Mitt Romney, Obama's Republican presidential rival, was expected to speak by phone to Netanyahu later on Friday while the Israeli leader was in the New York.

Netanyahu Redlines Iran Nuclear Program


Curiosity Mars rover finds ancient streambed

The rock outcrop dubbed "Hottah", which is made up of smaller fragments cemented together, in what geologists call a sedimentary conglomerate

Nasa's Curiosity rover has only been on the surface of Mars seven weeks but it has already turned up evidence of past flowing water on the planet. The robot has returned pictures of classic conglomerates - rocks that are made up of gravels and sand.

Scientists on the mission team say the size and rounded shape of the pebbles in the rock indicate they had been transported and eroded in water. Researchers think the rover has found a network of ancient streams. The rocks, which were described in a media briefing at Nasa's Jet Propulsion Laboratory in California, were likely laid down "several billion years ago". But the actual streams themselves may have persisted on the surface for long periods, said Curiosity science co-investigator Bill Dietrich of the University of California, Berkeley.
"We would anticipate that it could easily be thousands to millions of years," he told reporters.

Satellites at Mars have long captured images of channels on the planet's surface that were cut by some kind of flow, assumed to be liquid water. Curiosity's discovery at its landing site in the equatorial Gale Crater provides the first real ground truth for those observations.

By luck, the rover just happened to roll past a spectacular example of the conglomerate. A large slab, 10-15cm thick, was lifted out of the ground at an angle.
"We've named it Hottah," said rover project scientist John Grotzinger. The name refers to a lake in Canada's Northwest Territories. The team is using names from this region to catalogue objects at Gale.
"To us it just looked like somebody came along the surface of Mars with a jackhammer and lifted up the sidewalk that you might see in downtown LA at a construction site," he joked.

Link rock

In this view, some of the pebbles have weathered free from the rock
Scientists are now studying the images of the pebbles in the rock. The sizes and shapes will give them clues to the speed and distance of the ancient water flow.  The discovery site lies between the northern rim of the crater and the huge mountain that rises up from its central plain.

Previous orbital imagery of the region had hinted there might have been a water feature there. Curiosity's conglomerates support that hypothesis. The current interpretation is that the rover is sitting at the head of an alluvial fan of material that washed down through the crater wall and across the plain, cutting many individual streams. Researchers even think they can identify the particular valley at the rim where the water entered the crater, and they have named it Peace Vallis.

There is an eagerness also to study the chemistry of the conglomerates because that will give an indication of the nature of the water - its pH value, for example - and that will provide some clues as to what the environment at the time might have looked like.

At the moment, the rover is heading towards a location dubbed Glenelg. Scientists think this will give them the best access to the rocks of interest.

Mars rover (Nasa)

Greenland is Melting...It's very serious folks


Thursday, September 27, 2012

Dear Maxy ,
I met a guy at a social event who cornered me and told me the saddest sob story about his life .
I wanted to be nice to him , but it was the wrong setting to have that type of discussion . Plus , I'm not a therapist . He was so persistant that he got my card . I don't want to conutine the conversation , though . I cannot help him . He needs help .
When he calls , which I am sure he will , what should I say to him ?


 Dear Cornered ,
When this man calls , tell him that you think he deserves to have a professional help to support him through this time in his life . Admit that you do not have the skills to help him . In the future , if someone corners you at an event , you can end the conversation . Say goodbye and walk away . If asked to get together privately , just say you can't .


Dear Maxy ,
In our small social group, the wives insist on attending a local social event in which the husbands have zero interest . When I suggest politely that the wives go without us , they become irritated and veto this plan .
 know a husband who drags his wife to sporting events where she wears earplugs and reads a novel . Why do people insist that their spouses attend events whether they want to or not ? Is it power and control ? A test of one's loyalty ? Please urge your readers to attend these things with those that enjoy them and allow the rest of us to bow out .

Resents Going

Dear Resents Going , There are myriad reasons that people do this , although some simply want their spouses to enjoy what they do and keep them company . I agree that if it's the same event repeatedly , you shouldn't have to keep going ... provided your spouse has someone else with whom to attend .


 Dear Maxy ,
What do you think of parents who invite everyone they know to their birthday parties for their children who are under 5 ? It's like Christmas in January , May and September , and then it's Christmas .


 Dear Disgusted ,
I find nothing unusual here . These parents are celebrating their young children's birthdays and hoping their friends and relatives want to celebrate , too .
f you feel the gift giving is too much , it's perfectly okay to send regrets .


Fantastic View of the Universe

Hubble Space Telescope image - dubbed eXtreme Deep Field - of the universe. In the image are 5,000 galaxies. The image took 2,000 exposures lasting a total of 500 hours.

The Hubble Space Telescope (HST) has produced one of its most extraordinary views of the Universe to date.   Called the eXtreme Deep Field, the picture captures a mass of galaxies stretching back almost to the time when the first stars began to shine. But this was no simple point and snap - some of the objects in this image are too distant and too faint for that. Rather, this view required Hubble to stare at a tiny patch of sky for more than 500 hours to detect all the light.
"It's a really spectacular image," said Dr Michele Trenti, a science team member from the University of Cambridge, UK.

The patch of sky captured in Hubble's XDF image, compared in size to the Moon
"We stared at this patch of sky for about 22 days, and have obtained a very deep view of the distant Universe, and therefore we see how galaxies were looking in its infancy."
The XDF will become a tool for astronomy. The objects embedded in it can be followed up by other telescopes. It should keep scientists busy for years, enabling them to study the full history of galaxy formation and evolution.

The Hubble Space Telescope
Hubble Space Telescope
  • The Hubble telescope was carried into orbit aboard the Space Shuttle Discovery in 1990
  • It creates images of the Universe from near ultraviolet, visible, and infrared light
  • Hubble helped astronomers calculate the age of the Universe, which is about 13.7 billion years old
  • The telescope is named after the astronomer Edwin Hubble

It incorporates more than 2,000 separate exposures over 10 years using Hubble's two main cameras - the Advanced Camera for Surveys, installed by astronauts in 2002, and the Wide Field Camera 3, which was added to the observatory during its final servicing in 2009. Beyond the visible To see what it does, Hubble has to reach beyond the visible into the infrared. It is only at longer wavelengths of light that some of the most distant objects become detectable.

Of the more than 5,000 galaxies in the XDF, one of them (UDFj-39546284) is a candidate for the most distant galaxy yet discovered. If this is confirmed, it means it is being seen just 460 million years after the Universe's birth in the Big Bang.  But as remarkable as the XDF is, it is a prelude for an even deeper Hubble view that is likely to be released later this year.  The expectation is that it will contain galaxies even closer to the Big Bang.
To see the first starlight in the Universe will most likely require Hubble's successor. The James Webb Space Telescope, which is scheduled to launch in 2018, will carry a much larger mirror and even more sensitive instruments.

Will Rio de Janeiro be ready for the Olympics??

Once a near-legendary paradise, Rio de Janeiro's Guanabara Bay now suffers from unprecedented levels of pollution. Tons of household garbage, toxic liquids and raw sewage are dumped straight into the sea. Despite the investment in 1995 of one billion dollars in a program to fight the bay's pollution, nearly 20 years later the prognosis continues to alarm. Biologist and activist Mario Moscatelli has spent the last 15 years speaking out about the problem. Every month, camera in hand, he takes stock while flying over the area in a helicopter. You can actually see solid waste and toilet tissue floating on the greenish brown water.
Will they get it cleaned up in time to host the Olympics? It is hard to  believe they can accomplish it in four years. I can't imagine yacht races taking place amid the rotting vegetables and sewage.

Canadian Dance Moves


Wednesday, September 26, 2012

Closeup of Mercury from Messenger Probe

New observations from a spacecraft orbiting Mercury have revealed that the planet harbors a highly unusual interior—and the craft's glimpse of Mercury's surface suggests a very dynamic past.
The observations were taken by a probe called Messenger (short for Mercury Surface, Space Environment, Geochemistry and Ranging), the first ever to orbit the tiny, pockmarked planet.

Getting into orbit about Mercury was no easy feat, mostly because of its proximity to the sun. Any spacecraft heading toward the planet speeds up, drawn in by the sun's powerful gravitational field. To counteract the sun's pull, an operations team programmed the probe to fly around Venus twice, and Mercury three times, before slowing down enough to be captured in Mercury's orbit. Once in Mercury's orbit, the probe used laser altimetry to measure the planet's surface elevations (shown here) and used radio tracking to record its gravitational field. MIT researchers were part of a team that created precise maps by analyzing the data.

From the gravity estimates, the research team found that Mercury probably has an exceptionally large iron core making up approximately 85 percent of the planet's radius. (Earth's core, by comparison, is about half the planet's radius.) This means that Mercury's mantle and crust occupy only the outer 15 percent or so of the planet—they're proportionally about as thin as the peel on an orange.
The team, which reported its results in Science, also mapped out a large number of craters on the planet's surface, making a surprising finding: many of them have tilted over time, suggesting that processes within the planet deformed the terrain after the craters formed.

"Prior to Messenger's comprehensive observations, many scientists believed that Mercury was much like the moon—that it cooled off very early in solar system history and has been a dead planet throughout most of its evolution," says coauthor Maria Zuber, a professor of geophysics. "Now we're finding compelling evidence for unusual dynamics within the planet, indicating that Mercury was apparently active for a long time."

The scientific process that led to the team's results was a journey in itself, says coauthor Dave Smith, a research scientist in Earth, Atmospheric, and Planetary Sciences. "We had an idea of the internal structure of Mercury, [but] the initial observations did not fit the theory, so we doubted the observations," he says. "We did more work and concluded the observations were correct, and then reworked the theory for the interior of Mercury that fit the observations. This is how science is supposed to work, and it's a nice result."

Unaired Clip of Obama on Sixty Minutes...Overboard on Ads

In an unaired excerpt of his interview with CBS’ “60 Minutes,” President Obama acknowledged that some of his campaign ads have been dubiously truthy.
“Do we see sometimes us going overboard in our campaign, mistakes that are made, areas where there’s no doubt that somebody could dispute how we are presenting things, that happens in politics,” Obama said, in an unaired interview clip posted on the news organization’s Web site. But, he argued, overall voters were getting an accurate sense of the contrast between the candidates.

Host Steve Kroft asked about inaccuracy on “both sides,” but Romney wasn’t asked the same question, so we don’t know what his response would be.


Tuesday, September 25, 2012

Britain and Canada to have joint diplomatic missions oveseas ... and joint embassies

Britain is to establish joint diplomatic missions abroad with Canada, the Foreign Secretary William Hague will announce. Mr Hague is to reveal details of this planned new co-operation when he meets his Canadian counterpart John Baird in Ottawa on Monday. The agreement for joint diplomatic missions overseas could eventually involve Australia and New Zealand.  Mr Hague says it will give Britain "a bigger reach abroad for less cost".

The aim is to expand the countries' diplomatic presence in places where either London or Ottawa does not already have an embassy. Mr Hague has issued a statement ahead of his announcement on Monday, which said: "As David Cameron said when addressing the Canadian parliament last year: "We are two nations, but under one Queen and united by one set of values'. We have stood shoulder to shoulder from the great wars of the last century to fighting terrorists in Afghanistan and supporting Arab Spring Nations like Libya and Syria. We are first cousins."
"So it is natural that we look to link up our embassies with Canada's in places where that suits both countries. It will give us a bigger reach abroad for our businesses and people for less cost."

The BBC's diplomatic correspondent Jonathan Marcus says that, while money is one factor driving co-operation, this diplomatic link-up will also play well in euro-sceptic circles within the Conservative Party, where there is a good deal of unease at the expansion of the European Union's own diplomatic corps - the External Action Service.

Stem Cells the Key to Restoring Hearing


Researchers at Keele University in North Staffordshire will be the first in the world to attempt to 'grow' new cells in the ear that become lost and damaged with age. Age-related hearing loss affects more than nine million people with over half of people aged 60 and above affected to some degree.

The researchers found that in some cases hearing begins to decline when fibrocytes, cells in the inner ear which usually manage levels of potassium and sodium, start to degenerate. Once these cells have died and no longer function correctly, other parts of the inner ear can become permanently damaged, leading to increased loss of hearing and possible deafness.

Dr Dave Furness, from Keele University’s school of life sciences, has been working for three years on a study funded by Deafness Research UK and The Freemasons Grand Charity to look into the causes of age related hearing loss. Now, Dr Furness and his PhD student Jacqueline Tickle have begun the next phase of the research, which will explore whether replacement fibrocytes and fibrocyte stem cells can be successfully grown and implanted into the ear.
If successful, the research could pave the way towards the prevention of age related hearing loss.
Dr Furness said: "We set out to explore why deafness occurs as a result of ageing and what we discovered was that fibrocytes, the part of the ear involved in managing fluid composition in the cochlea, do degrade due to old age.
"Once this happens, it not only causes hearing sensitivity to decrease, but has a knock-on effect on other parts of the inner ear. When these cells have stopped functioning properly, we think other parts of the inner ear begin to malfunction, leading to a gradual loss of hearing.
“If we can find a way to replace fibrocytes through stem cell therapy when they start to degenerate, but before other parts of the inner ear get damaged, we could potentially have found a way to prevent age related hearing loss.

“The second stage of our research is to do just that - grow fibrocytes in culture specifically to treat age related hearing loss. We’re still in the preliminary stages of the research, but are growing these cells successfully and the next stage will be to find a way to transplant them effectively into the ear.”
Head of Biomedical Research at Action on Hearing Loss, Dr Ralph Holme, said: “Hearing loss increases vulnerability to social isolation and depression, and demand to find a cure or treatments to protect hearing will only increase with our ageing population.
"This research could significantly add to our understanding of what causes age-related hearing loss and help towards the ultimate goal of being able to repair damaged tissue in the ear and restore hearing.”

Sunday, September 23, 2012

The Epicenter of Global Warming...Greenland Disappearing


Scientists capture dramatic footage of Arctic glaciers melting in hours...... and massive lakes in the Arctic melting away in a matter of hours.

Watching the Arctic Disappear


Saturday, September 22, 2012

Pritty Picher

Libya: Islamist militia bases stormed in Benghazi by citizens

At least four people have been killed in the Libyan city of Benghazi after military police and protesters took over militia bases. The violence followed a day of protests by tens of thousands of citizens demanding an end to the armed groups. The bases include the HQ of the Islamist group Ansar al-Sharia, suspected of involvement in an attack on the US consulate in the city. .

Protests against the film "Innocence of the Muslims" have been held across the Muslim world. At least 19 people died in Pakistan on Friday alone in clashes with police trying to stop protesters attacking US diplomatic buildings. Witnesses say supporters of Ansar al-Sharia lined up outside its Benghazi headquarters, in front of the crowd, waving black and white banners.

They fired into the air to try to disperse the protesters, but fled with their weapons after the base was surrounded by waves of people shouting "no to militias". However, in a standoff outside the headquarters of the Sahaty Brigade in the city, three people were killed and at least 20 injured according to witnesses and officials.

The two sides are said to have exchanged rocket and light arms fire for two hours before the brigade decided to move out. Protesters then set fire to one of the main buildings and pillaged a weapons depot, a journalist for AFP news agency at the scene reported. Another person was killed and another 20 injured in other incidents, city hospitals said.

Senior Libyan officials say that while they welcomed the protests, people should differentiate between the rogue militias and honest rebel brigades that helped to secure the town in last year's uprising against Col Muammar Gaddafi. Earlier, some 30,000 protesters marched through Benghazi calling for an end to the armed groups and a return to the rule of law.

 There has been a wave of hostility towards the militias since US Ambassador Christopher Stevens and three others Americans died in last week's attack on the Benghazi consulate.
"I don't want to see armed men wearing Afghani-style clothes stopping me in the street to give me orders, I only want to see people in uniform," said university student Omar Mohammed, who took part in the takeover of the Ansar al-Sharia compound.

Many Libyans have expressed outrage at the attack on the US consulate. Libya's interim government has since come under renewed and intense pressure to rein in well-armed extremist militia groups and force them to disband. Friday's march was the largest seen in Benghazi - considered the heartland of Libya's uprising - since Col Gaddafi was deposed.

Armed militia groups which helped to defeat Gaddafi remain powerful in many parts of the country.
They are better armed and more numerous than Libya's official army, and there have been reports of militias intimidating and carrying out killings against rivals.
But the good news is that the people of  Libya are sick and tired of the violence on both sides, and they are speaking up and taking a stand. The seeds of democracy have been planted

Thursday, September 20, 2012

Dear Maxy ,
The "Maturing Too Fast" ( whose husband wanted their daughter to cut ties with a 9-year-old friend who had started her period) is on the right tract . Please use this as an opportunity to discuss the subject with her daughter !
For a variety of reasons , girls seem to be entering puberty sooner , and the better prepared the daughter is , the less traumatic it may be . Not allowing her to associate wirh her friend anymore is just strange ! Where is this dad coming from ?
Unfortunately with the subject ---I never had "the talk" from them .
I knew bascially nothing about sex or sexual maturity until I was rudley and horribly awakeened to it when I started being abused at age 9 by a trusted person . I had no clue what was going on , only that I thought it was probably wrong .
Not talking about things with your kids doesn't make the subject go away . It only makes it more likely to not include you in the loop of their life .
Been There
Dear Been There ,
Parents should talk to their children about their developing bodies , about boundaries , and about appropriate and in appropriate behavior . Creating dialogue when children are young helps them feel confident about talking to parents about anything as they mature .
Dear Maxy ,
I went to a party and ran into a woman who had on the same dress as me . I was mortified . Worse still , she wanted to hang out with me all night and take pictures . No way .
I'm not a fashionista or anything , but I do like to have my own style .
Was I wrong not want to hang with her ? She's not my friend or anything . She was a guest at the event just like I was .
Body Double
Dear Body Double ,
I would be uncomfortable if I ran into someone dressed identically to me at a party , and I certainly wouldn't want to become her instant twin as a result . You were perfectly right to want to move on . It could be that the twinning was her way of dealing with an awkward situation .
Your choice to enjoy the party without her was a perfectly fine option as well .
Dear Maxy ,
I am engaged to an intelligent beautiful , loving woman . We both work work full time and see eye-to-eye about everything . However , we are becoming increasingly frustrated with our four children when it comes to doing their laundry , putting away dirty dishes in the dishwasher , walking the dog , etc.
The kids are between 13 and 21 . We want them to take responsibility for their actions and take pride in their home . We have tried making lists and assigning tasks , punishments and rewards , to no avail . During our most recent conversation with the kids , one said , "It's too difficult to remember ." Another said , "You can't make us do it." Two of these kids are working . Any suggestions ?
Dear Frustrated ,
Some children need to be reminded to help around the house , and the reminder has to stick . Mom should tell them that neither you nor she is a servant and they all need to care more for their living space . Any children over 18 should be nicely encouraged to move into their own places , which will highlight their choices . The younger kids should have privileges restricted if they do not follow the house rules . But mom has to enforce these rules , or nothing will change .

America but Better


King's sequel novel to The Shining, Doctor Sleep

King's sequel novel to The Shining...Doctor Sleep... ..out in 2013

Jack Nicholson in The Shining

Jack Nicholson played Jack Torrance in Stanley Kubrick's film of The Shining

Stephen King's sequel to his horror novel The Shining is to be released on 24 September 2013, 36 years after the original was published. Doctor Sleep will follow Danny Torrance, the young boy who survived the horrific events of The Shining.

According to King's official website, Dan meets a "very special 12-year-old girl" who he must "save from a tribe of murderous paranormals". Now a middle-aged man and aided by a prescient cat, he becomes Doctor Sleep.

One of King's most loved works, The Shining was adapted into a 1980 film produced and directed by Stanley Kubrick. As in the book, the movie followed the Torrance family as they move to the Overlook Hotel in the Colorado mountains. Jack, a writer, takes a job as a hotel caretaker for a year but becomes possessed by the evil spirits in the building and attacks his family. The young Danny, who has psychic abilities, eventually manages to escape with his mother Wendy.
Doctor Sleep returns to the "characters and territory" of The Shining. The book takes up the story of Dan who has been "drifting for decades, desperate to shed his father's legacy of despair, alcoholism, and violence". The book opens with him settling in a New Hampshire town and taking a job at a nursing home where his "shining" power helps him comfort the dying.

Known by the local people as "Doctor Sleep", Dan comes into contact with Abra Stone, a 12-year-old who has "the brightest shining ever seen". Hodder and Stoughton said the story was "an epic war between good and evil" that would "thrill the millions of hyper-devoted readers of The Shining".

Fans posting on the official King website expressed excitement at the news of the follow-up, with one writing that he "can't wait to be scared all over again".

Actress Cindy Lee Garcia sues over Innocence of Muslims

Nakoula Basseley Nakoula with hat, scarf and glasses on being escorted from his home
Nakoula Basseley Nakoula has gone into hiding since his name was linked with the film
A US actress who appeared in an amateur anti-Islam video that sparked protests across the Muslim world is suing the film's suspected director. Cindy Lee Garcia accused Nakoula Basseley Nakoula of duping her into a "hateful" film that she was led to believe was a desert adventure movie.
She is also asking a judge to order YouTube to remove the film.
A clip dubbed into Arabic provoked widespread anger for its mocking portrayal of the Prophet Muhammad. The film, Innocence of Muslims, which was made in the United States, has sparked protests across the Middle East, North Africa and as far away as Sri Lanka, with some demonstrations turning into destructive and violent riots. Four Americans, including Ambassador Chris Stephens, were killed during an attack on the US consulate in Benghazi, Libya.
According to Ms Garcia, the script she received had made no mention of the Prophet Muhammad or made references to religion. She claims she has received death threats since the video was posted to YouTube, and says the changes in dialogue during post-production cast her in a false light. Association with the film has harmed her reputation.
In a court filing lodged with Los Angeles Superior Court on Wednesday, Ms Garcia alleged fraud, slander and intentional infliction of emotional distress.
Anti-US protest in Karachi, Pakistan, 19 Sep 
"[Garcia] had a legally protected interest in her privacy and the right to be free from having hateful words put in her mouth or being depicted as a bigot," the lawsuit says. "There was no mention of 'Mohammed' during filming or on set. There were no references made to religion nor was there any sexual content of which Ms Garcia was aware," it adds.
Mr Bakoula denies being "Sam Bacile", a pseudonym used by the person who posted the video online. He has gone into hiding after telling US media he was the manager of a company that helped produce the film, but US officials believe him to be the director.
Mr Bakoula was convicted of fraud in 2010 and ordered to pay more than $790,000 in restitution. He was released in June 2011 with the provision that he did not access the internet or use any aliases without permission. Authorities questioned him last week over whether he had violated any of those conditions.
YouTube has so far refused Ms Garcia's requests to remove the film, according to the lawsuit, although it has blocked it in Saudi Arabia, Libya and Egypt.
"This lawsuit is not an attack on the First Amendment nor on the right of Americans to say what they think, but does request that the offending content be removed from the Internet," the complaint states.
Google, which owns YouTube, has blocked the film in Saudi Arabia, Libya and Egypt. A spokesman for YouTube said they were reviewing the complaint and would be in court on Thursday.

Arctic Ice Record Low


* Weather impact expected in U.S. and elsewhere
* Environmentalists, advocates call for policy change
By Deborah Zabarenko

WASHINGTON, Sept 19 (Reuters) - Arctic sea ice, a key indicator of climate change, melted to its lowest level on record this year before beginning its autumnal freeze, researchers at the U.S. National Snow and Ice Data Center said on Wednesday.

The extent of ice probably hit its low point on Sept. 16, when it covered 1.32 million square miles (3.42 million square km) of the Arctic Ocean, the smallest amount since satellite records began 33 years ago. Changing weather conditions could further shrink the extent, the center said. A final analysis is expected next month.

The record was broken on Aug. 26, when the ice shrank below the record set in 2007. After that, it kept melting for three more weeks, bringing the ice extent -  to nearly half of the 1979-2000 average.

"We are now in uncharted territory," Mark Serreze, the center's director, said in a statement. "While we've long known that as the planet warms up, changes would be seen first and be most pronounced in the Arctic, few of us were prepared for how rapidly the changes would actually occur."

The summer ice isn't just dwindling. It is also thin, relatively fragile seasonal ice instead of the hardier multi-year ice that can better withstand bright sunlight.

"The strong late-season decline is indicative of how thin the ice cover is," said NSIDC's Walt Meier. "Ice has to be quite thin to continue melting away as the sun goes down and fall approaches."

The Arctic is a potent weather-maker for the temperate zone, and is sometimes dubbed Earth's air conditioner for its cooling effects. However, as ice wanes and temperatures rise in the far north, the Arctic could add more heat and moisture to the climate system.


"What happens in the Arctic doesn't stay in the Arctic," said Dan Lashof, a climate scientist at the nonprofit Natural Resources Defense Council. "This has a real impact on Americans where they live and work."

Melting Arctic ice changes the shape and position of the jetstream, allowing tropical air to penetrate further north and Arctic air to penetrate further south, Lashof said in a telephone interview, leading to more extreme weather.

"That is a truly staggering rate of melting, far beyond what scientists thought would happen a few years ago," Bob Ward of the London School of Economics and Political Science said in a statement. "Policy-makers need to wake up to the scale and pace of the impacts from climate change."

Recent climate models suggest the Arctic could be free of ice before 2050. But the observed rate of melting is faster than what is shown in many of the models, according to NSIDC scientist Julienne Stroeve. Both the Northwest Passage along Canada's coast and the Northern Sea Route along Russia were open to traffic this summer, and investors gathered in Alaska last month to discuss commercial and transportation opportunities for the Arctic.

The environmental group Greenpeace International took issue with that approach.

"Rather than dealing with the root causes of climate change, the current response from our leaders is to watch the ice melt and then divide up the spoils," the group's executive director, Kumi Naidoo said in a statement.


Wednesday, September 19, 2012

Incredible Roman mosaic unearthed in Turkey

Archaeologists from the University of Nebraska-Lincoln have discovered what they believe is the largest Roman mosaic ever found inTurkey.

“It’s believed to be the biggest mosaic of its type and demonstrates the reach and cultural influence of the Roman Empire in the area in the third and fourth centuries CE,” said Prof Michael Hoff, the director of the excavation.
“This is very possibly the largest Roman mosaic found in the region,” Prof Hoff said. “And its large size also signals, in no small part, that the outward signs of the Roman Empire were, in fact, very strong in this far-flung area of the Empire.”
Since 2005, Prof Hoff’s team has been excavating the remains of the ancient city of Antiochia ad Cragum on the southern Turkish coast. Antiochus of Commagene, a client-king of Rome, founded the ancient city in the middle of the first century.
“The mosaic is a quintessential Roman artistic element. This hammers home how Roman this city truly is,” Prof Hoff said. “We always thought this was a peripheral Roman city, but it’s becoming more and more clear that it’s weighted more on the Roman side than the native side. The mosaic really emphasizes the pure Roman nature of this city and should answer a lot of questions regarding the interaction between the indigenous locals and the Roman Empire.”
“Antiochia ad Cragum was a modest city by Roman standards and outfitted with many of the typical trappings one would expect from a Roman provincial city – temples, baths, markets and colonnaded streets,” Prof Hoff said. “The city thrived during the Empire from an economy that focused on agricultural products, especially wine and lumber.”
Excavation work has focused on a third-century temple dedicated to the Roman imperial cult, and also a colonnaded street lined with commercial shops. In July, the team began to explore the mosaic, which was part of a Roman bath. The decoration consists of large squares, each filled with different colored geometric designs and ornamentation.
“This would have been a very formal associated pavement attached to the bath,” Prof Hoff said. “This is a gorgeous mosaic, and the size of it is unprecedented” – so large, in fact, that work crews have uncovered only an estimated 40 percent of its total area.
“It appears the mosaic served as a forecourt for the adjacent large bath, and that at least on one side, evidence shows there was a roof covering the geometric squares that would have been supported by piers. Those piers’ remains are preserved,” he said.
“Meanwhile, the middle of the mosaic was outfitted with a marble-lined, 25-foot-long pool, which would have been uncovered and open to the Sun. The other half of the mosaic, adjacent to the bath, has yet to be revealed but is expected to contain the same type of decoration,” Hoff said.
Crews expect to unearth the entire work next summer. “It should be pretty extraordinary,” Prof Hoff concluded.

Crater full of diamonds in Russia

‘Trillions of carats’ lie below a 35-million-year-old, 62-mile-diameter asteroid crater in eastern Siberia known as Popigai Astroblem. The Russians have known about the site since the 1970s.

Russia has just declassified news that will shake world gem markets to their core: the discovery of a vast new diamond field containing “trillions of carats,” enough to supply global markets for another 3,000 years. The Soviets discovered the bonanza back in the 1970s beneath a 35-million-year-old, 62-mile diameter asteroid crater in eastern Siberia known as Popigai Astroblem.

They decided to keep it secret, and not to exploit it, apparently because the USSR‘s huge diamond operations at Mirny, in Yakutia, were already producing immense profits in what was then a tightly controlled world market. The Soviets were also producing a range of artificial diamonds for industry, into which they had invested heavily.
The veil of secrecy was finally lifted over the weekend, and Moscow permitted scientists from the nearby Novosibirsk Institute of Geology and Mineralogy to talk about it with Russian journalists.

Ancient text reveals Jesus may have been Married

A Harvard professor has identified what appears to be a scrap of fourth century Egyptian papyrus that contains the first known explicit reference to Jesus as married, a discovery that could fuel the millennia-old debate about priestly celibacy in the Catholic church.

The fragment, which has been preliminarily authenticated but still must undergo further testing, portrays Jesus as referring to a woman as his legitimate disciple -- most likely his wife, whom the text's author probably believed to be Mary Magdalene.
The text is not evidence Jesus was married, said the professor, Karen L. King, a historian of early Christianity at Harvard Divinity School, who is scheduled to discuss her discovery at an international gathering of Coptic scholars in Rome on Tuesday. But she said it may cast new light on the history of early Christianity, including the formation of Christian views of celibacy and whether women were members of Jesus's inner circle, issues still intensely relevant to the Catholic church, which allows only celibate men to be priests.
"The issue has far from gone away," King said.

The fragment is smaller than a business card, and appears to have been torn from the middle of a page of a codex, or primitive book, written in a southern Egyptian dialect. Its owner, who declines to be identified publicly, does not know where it was found.

It contains just eight broken lines, scrawled in a crude Coptic hand.

The fourth says: "... Jesus said to them, 'My wife...."

The next line reads: "...she will be able to be my disciple."

The text does not prove that Jesus had a wife, King emphasized. Even if it is actually a translation of a second century Greek text, as King theorizes, it would have been composed more than a century after the death of Jesus. The earliest and most reliable information about the historical Jesus is silent on the question of his marital status, King said.
"It's not saying we've got the smoking gun that Jesus is married," she said.

But the fragment -- which King provocatively calls "The Gospel of Jesus's wife" -- does show that some early Christians believed Jesus was married, probably to Mary Magdalene, a follower of Jesus who the gospels say was the first person to see him after his resurrection .

Tuesday, September 18, 2012

Why So Much Anger ?...A controversial Film Just a Trigger ?

Sudanese demonstrators walk out after Friday prayers to protest in front of the the German and US embassies in Khartoum on Friday

 The Arab Spring is not an adequate explanation for this upswell of anger
Nakoula Basseley Nakoula -- who produced the low-budget movie -- is seen here with Anna Gurji, one of the actresses in the film. The photo was shot this year, during production.
More than three years ago, President Obama famously told a Cairo audience that "we meet at a time of great tension between the United States and Muslims around the world". His speech, titled A New Beginning, sought to transcend the acrimony of the Bush era.

This week, as violent protests rage across the Middle East and beyond, the president might ask himself: What went wrong? The truth is that there is no single explanation.One answer is that last year's wave of political uprisings, the so-called Arab Spring, is responsible.

After all, protests began in Egypt, which last year became the most populous Arab democracy, and spread to Libya, which became the largest by area. The Arab Spring did indeed invigorate a range of Islamist movements and weakened the law enforcement capabilities of the affected states.

In that febrile political environment, protests might have been easier to start, simpler for violent extremists to exploit, and harder for confused security forces to manage. The second argument is that we are witnessing profound anti-Americanism, dormant for much of last year, fused with religious extremism - with the controversial 'Innocence of Muslims' film merely a trigger.

According to a June 2012 Pew survey, just 15% of those in Muslim countries held a favourable opinion of the United States, compared to 25% in 2009. Polls indicate that anti-Americanism stems from a variety of grievances, including US policy towards the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, American wars in the Middle East, and US backing for friendly dictators.

The irony is that, whereas President Obama is sometimes pilloried by critics in the West for naively supporting the revolutions, most Arabs see his actions as too late and too little. In Tunisia, for instance, only a third believe that the US response to their revolution had a positive impact. We should, however, distinguish anti-Americanism from religious extremism.

Although Arab ideas about freedom of expression are fundamentally different from Western ones - (84% of Egyptians want the death penalty for those who leave the Muslim religion) - there are big generational gaps. Those under 35 - the generation widely held up as the engine of the Arab Spring - are far less likely to pray several times a day, attend the mosque regularly, or read the Koran daily. They are being catalysed less by religion, and more by politics.

An Indian man walks over an American flag during a protest against the Innocence of Muslims film mocking the Prophet Muhammad in Hyderabad, India, on Friday 

Anti-Americanism is not universal.

Despite the widespread xenophobia evident in Egypt, 35% of Egyptians actually want Egypt-US relations to remain as strong as they were before the revolution, and a surprisingly high 20% want them to get even better. Sixty percent of Tunisians say that they like American ideas about democracy.
A Gallup poll this year showed that 54% of Libyans approve of American leadership, near the highest approval ever seen in the region. Indeed, Libya has seen a series of protests supportive of the US, and against the attack on the US consulate in Benghazi.

Perhaps the most important fact is that the crowds ransacking embassies this week are negligibly small when compared to the popular mobilizations that swept away dictators. Even where it is widespread, anti-Americanism is simply not a sufficient explanation for outbreaks of violence. In many cases, protests might have had little energy if local religious and political entrepreneurs, eager to bolster their following and create disorder, had not exploited them. In Khartoum, for instance, local buses were offered free to transport prayer-goers to protest sites.

 The assault in which US Ambassador Chris Stevens died was not a protest but probably a co-ordinated, complex undertaking by an organized militant group, perhaps in concert with al-Qaeda's North African affiliate. It does not represent the broader Libyan opinion of America. This wave of violence will have longer-term repercussions. The US has no legal mechanism to censor the provocative film and, with eight weeks to go before a national election, President Obama will be careful not to appear unduly willing to appease mob violence.

In Egypt, American faith in President Mohammed Mursi has been badly shaken. Despite Egypt's continued military and financial dependence on Washington, Mr Mursi hesitated in condemning the protests. President Obama's admission that "I don't think that we would consider [Egypt] an ally, but we don't consider them an enemy" highlights how the political sands are shifting.

There will now be new pressures for the US to disengage from the Middle East, revert to fortress-style embassies, and accelerate the refocusing of American attention to Asia. Some will argue that Mr Obama's efforts to temper anti-Americanism were exercises in naivety; others that he went nowhere near far enough.  Either way, the irony is that fragile post-revolutionary governments are in need of assistance to build institutions and their own  populations are making that task harder.