Sunday, June 29, 2014


Saturday, June 28, 2014

LIES ( Or, The Wages of Sin )

Think carefully before you lie; as you are now, so once was I.
The truth and I were not acquainted, my every word was poison tainted.
Mendacity was my invention, I forged my fate with each pretension.
Gleefully I spread deception; for loved ones, I made no exception.
I felt the rot spread through my soul, yet, wealth and  power were my goal.
And so the mounds of gold grew high, each one acquired with a lie.
Many spurned me with disgust as I obliterated trust and turned their gift of love to dust.
Lavish style to spare, had I, and a penthouse in the sky.
And I didn't have a care, nor a soul with whom to share.
 A solitary, hollow life, no one heard my dying cries,
Nor would they care, if they had heard me beg forgiveness for my lies.
Stayed before the gates of heaven, they asked me....Was I kind ?
In keeping with my character, naturally, I lied.
Back to earth they thrust me, much to my chagrin,
To spend eternity within these walls, among all the things I bought with sin
 Be forthright and be truthful;  a scrap of wisdom from your host.
That is, if you have no objection to lessons from a ghost.

The Genie

Friday, June 27, 2014

Supermassive Black Hole....Has a Bad Case of Gas

One black star is giving astronomers the show of a lifetime, perhaps teaching us more about the strange objects than ever before.

Black holes are strange, seemingly paradoxical objects. By their nature, they are nearly invisible. Yet thanks to their powerful gravitational pull, they draw in matter, which causes some of them to shine brightly enough to be seen across the Universe. Black holes are known for what they devour, but the stuff they don’t eat is even more important, from the point of view of their host galaxies. Material streaming out from a black hole can influence the formation of stars, carve out bubbles in nearby regions, and alter the chemical balance of the galaxy itself.
Case in point: the spiral galaxy NGC 5548, which astronomers have been monitoring off and on for decades. NGC 5548 is an “active galaxy”, which means the huge black hole at its center is surrounded by hot gas that shines brightly in X-ray and ultraviolet (UV) light. However, researchers measured a decrease in X-ray emission last year: something new was blocking the light from reaching us.

Further observations showed that the something was an incredibly fast flow of gas blowing outward from the black hole. We happen to be looking straight into that flow, as though a fan were turned on directly in our face. That’s a lucky break: while astronomers have measured similar outflows in other galaxies, this is the first time anyone has seen one from this angle, which provides a lot more detailed data than other viewpoints.
Between that privileged angle and the fact that researchers have watched the galaxy change over decades, we can see how outflows from black holes have shaped NGC 5548. After all, galaxies aren’t static environments, and studying their history is a way to understand the complex processes that control the birth of stars and planets.

Black holes are literally central to that galactic history. Astronomers discovered over the last few decades that nearly every large galaxy, including the Milky Way, harbors a black hole millions or billions of times more massive than the Sun. Gas orbiting these black holes heats up and glows brightly. Some of the matter is ejected away in the form of huge powerful jets (which also emit a lot of light).
For that reason, black holes can influence star formation, both positively and negatively. The flow of gas away from a black hole is called “wind” (not all scientific jargon is complicated!). Winds can either compress other clouds, heating them up and making stars, or break those clouds up. It’s a complex process, and one astronomers are still learning to understand.

A bug-eyed alien astronomer in a galaxy far, far away likely wouldn’t think of the Milky Way’s central black hole as particularly interesting. While it shows signs of past activity, our galaxy is pretty quiet now, but active galaxies like NGC 5548 are another matter.
Like Cookie Monster, many supermassive black holes are messy eaters. Their gravitational pull can draw in huge amounts of gas, which swirls in a thick donut-shaped pattern known as an accretion disk. (“Accretion” just refers to that gravitational gathering. It has the same root as “concrete”, which is a collection of rubble glued together by cement.)
What we actually see of a feeding black hole, then, depends on our viewing angle. If we’re observing it more or less “top down”, then we see the largest area of the accretion disk, maximizing the brightness of the black hole. That’s the case for NGC 5548, so the authors of the new paper were surprised  to find that X-ray emissions in 2013 were 25 times weaker—4 percent!—of what they had been in 2002. Normal fluctuations in light are expected, but that’s well past typical.

However, we live in the best era of human history to study black holes. The researchers used an impressive array of observatories to monitor NGC 5548: the X-ray telescopes XMM- Newton, Swift, and Chandra, the Hubble Space Telescope (HST), the Nuclear Spectroscopic Telescope Array (NuSTAR), and the INTErnational Gamma-Ray Astrophysics Laboratory (INTEGRAL). All of these instruments orbit Earth, beyond the atmosphere that blocks X-rays and most ultraviolet light.
They found that in addition to the normal wind, the black hole had spewed out a lumpy cloud of gas, moving 5 times faster than typical outflow. They determined this by measuring absorption: clouds of gas aren’t equally opaque to all kinds of light, and the wavelengths they absorb depend on how fast the gas is moving. In this case, the rapid flow obviously was lying directly between the black hole and us, obscuring our view.

The black hole in NGC 5548 isn’t among the most powerful: other more active galaxies have winds like this flowing out on a more steady basis. However, those galaxies are also more distant, marking a time in the cosmic history when black hole food was more plentiful.
Thanks to the relative proximity of NGC 5548 and the decades of observations astronomers have made of the galaxy, it’s a great place to study the fluctuations in black hole feeding behavior over time. The more we know about how black holes influence their environment, the greater our knowledge of galaxies in general.

 Thanx to my NASA Junior Scientists and Debate Heroes...Jonny and Chris

Many Thanx to The Daily Beast

4,000 Year Old Burial Chamber Discovered....Archaeological Treasure

 the roof of a 4,000-year-old burial chamber

A close-up of the roof, which was made of logs and covered with a layer of wood chips and ochre, giving it a reddish appearance. The excavation was carried out in 2012 by a Georgian National Museum expedition led by Zurab Makharadze, the head of the museum's archaeology center.

An ancient burial containing chariots, gold artifacts and possible human sacrifices has been discovered by archaeologists in the country of Georgia, in the south Caucasus.
The burial site, which would've been intended for a chief, dates back over 4,000 years to a time archaeologists call the Early Bronze Age, said Zurab Makharadze, head of the Centre of Archaeology at the Georgian National Museum.
Archaeologists discoveredthe timber burial chamber within a 39-foot-high (12 meters) mound called a kurgan. When the archaeologists reached the chamber they found an assortment of treasures, including two chariots, each with four wooden wheels

The burial chamber itself contains two chariots, seen toward the back, each of which had four wooden wheels (not all the wheels are visible in this picture). Three timber pillars, seen in this image, held the roof up. The burial chamber had been plundered (likely in ancient times), but many artifacts still remain.

The team discovered ornamented clay and wooden vessels, flint and obsidian arrowheads, leather and textile artifacts, a unique wooden armchair, carnelian and amber beads and 23 golden artifacts, including rare and artistic crafted jewelry, wrote Makharadze in the summary of a presentation he gave recently at the International Congress on the Archaeology of the Ancient Near East, held at the University of Basel in Switzerland.
"In the burial chamber were placed two four-wheeled chariots, both in good condition, [the] design of which represents fine ornamental details of various styles," Makharadze wrote. Thechamber also contained wild fruits, he added.
While the human remains had been disturbed by a robbery, which probably occurred in ancient times, and were in a disordered position, the archaeologists found that seven people were buried in the chamber. "One of them was a chief and others should be the members of his family, sacrificed slaves or servants," Makharadze told Live Science in an email.

The burial dates back to a time before domesticated horses appeared in the area, Makharadze said. While no animals were found buried with the chariots, he said, oxen would have pulled them.

Other rich kurgan burials dating to the second half of the third millennium B.C. have also been found in the south Caucasus,said Makharadze in another paper he presented in February at the College de France in Paris. The appearance of these rich burials appears to be connected to interactions that occurred between nomadic people from the Eurasian steppes and farming communities within and near the south Caucasus, Makharadze said.
These interactions appear to have led to some individuals, like this chief, getting elaborate burials. The newly discovered armchair symbolizes the power that individuals like the chief had. "The purpose of the wooden armchair was the indication to power, and it was put in the kurgan as a symbol of power," Makharadze said in the email.
The kurgan was found in eastern Georgia near the municipality of Lagodekhi and was excavated in 2012.

Thanx to Live Science


The archaeologists found a number of well-preserved artifacts, including finds made of gold at the site in the country of Georgia. The red artifact seen here is actually the handle of a basket.

Curiosity Rover has Martian Anniversary

On its first anniversary on Mars, the Curiosity rover celebrated with a selfie.
On its first anniversary on Mars, the Curiosity rover celebrated with a selfie.

NASA's Curiosity rover is celebrating its first Martian anniversary this week – nearly two full Earth years of exploring the red planet.
Spending 687 days driving around our dusty neighbouring world's surface, the robotic geochemist is helping to not only guide future robotic and human missions, but also raise the prospects of finding evidence of life on Mars.
Since its hair-raising touchdown within the bowels of Gale crater on Aug. 5, 2012, Curiosity has been one busy explorer, beaming back hundreds of gigabits of picture postcards and scientific data, while prospecting for rock samples and driving a full 7.9 kilometres.
The 154 km-wide impact basin near the planet's equatorial region was chosen as the rover’s landing site because satellite images showed hints of fast-flowing water flooding the area.

Curiosity spent a better part of its first year at a region known as Yellowknife Bay, where rock outcrops were drilled, sampled and analyzed for their chemistry. While the rover itself was never designed to directly sniff out signs of life, it has hit the jackpot with clear evidence of a past environment suitable to support microbial life.
And now the rover, sporting a damaged wheel, is in the middle of a slower-than-expected cosmic road trip towards the mission's primary target  the base of Mount Sharp  a stunning, 5-kilometre high mountain 8 kilometers from the landing site.
Taking a path filled with both sandy and rocky patches, the mega-rover's journey will take many more months before it arrives at the base of Mt. Sharp. Once there, it will get to work using its microscope cameras to get detailed views of exposed lower layers of the mountain that appears to be made up of layered rock the same formations seen here on Earth associated with exposure to water.
Here now is a rundown of the Top 5 discoveries in the Curiosity's first year on Mars.

NASA's Curiosity rover found evidence for an ancient, flowing stream on Mars.
NASA's Curiosity rover found evidence for an ancient, flowing stream on Mars.

1.  Ancient Mars was life-friendly
Near its landing site, the rover found minerals and clay that point to neutral water having once covered the bottom of the giant crater in the distant past  anywhere from a few million to 3 billion years ago.
Mars researchers believe this lake was mostly likely awash with the basic chemical ingredients needed to create a veritable utopia for simple life forms.
2.  A river ran through it
Conglomerate rocks made of many small, rounded pebbles cemented together were singled out by Curiosity's cameras.  
This discovery excites scientists because the very same type of rock forms on Earth wherever knee-deep water flows over extended periods of time.
3.  Missing methane  
A great mystery had been brewing the past decade about claims that Mars had local methane hot spots. The same gas in Earth's atmosphere is mostly the result of daily biological activity. So not surprisingly, when Earth-based telescopes and Mars orbiters showed tentative hints of this trace gas on Mars, NASA had Curiosity sniff the Martian air.
Interestingly, the rover has found negligible amounts  about 600 times less than what is seen in Earth's atmosphere. Researchers interpret this as meaning the local environment may be too harsh for present-day life on Mars.

The infamous blueberry pebbles found on the surface of Mars.
The infamous blueberry pebbles found on the surface of Mars.

4.  A smorgasbord of rocks
Before even getting to the ultimate destination of Mount Sharp, scientists were surprised by the amazing variety of rocks Curiosity came across in its travels. Everything from mudstones to rocks with cracks filled with mineral veins, each one painting a picture of a variety of environmental conditions that existed over billions of years in Mars' past.  
5.  Radiation level baselines  
While Curiosity was sailing through space on its long journey to Mars back in 2012, onboard instruments were measuring the incoming natural cosmic and solar radiation. These instruments were tucked away neatly inside the spacecraft capsule  in a similar environment humans will one day experience on a mission to the red planet.
It turns out that the amount of radiation bombarding the bodies of any future Mars astronaut will be a major health concern.
In its nine-month long voyage from Earth to Mars, Curiosity absorbed more radiation than what NASA astronauts are allowed to be exposed to over their entire career.
So there is no doubt that space engineers will have to factor in the dangers of space radiation when designing long-term, human-led missions to Mars and beyond.

Thanx very much Yahoo

Thursday, June 26, 2014

Genies Do So Have a Sense of Humor

Genie. MY FRONTPAGE VIRGINITY HAS BEEN TAKEN!!. Englishman, a Frenchman and a Welshman are out walking the beach one day when they come across a lantern. Dne of

Troll genie. I'm out of ideas.. Hello, T am a genie. You have Duh, a magic lamp!". that could be handy....

Ask Maxy

Dear Maxy
I am a man in my late 20s , and most of my friends are getting married and starting their lives . Meanwhile, I am still single . I always envisioned myself being married by now, so I feel a little disappointed . It's hard seeing my friends getting married and having a lifetime partner when I feel so alone . Furthermore, I'm scared that I'm going to feel even more isolated because the married couples will only socialize with one another . How do I enjoy this period in my friends lives and move forward at my own pace .
Moving Behind

Dear Moving Behind,
I understand your disappointment. In a way, you answered your own question, "move forward at my own pace." You have become static; you are not moving in any direction. It is up to you to change your situation by changing your focus.
You have lost your common ground with your friends. Their priorities and goals have changed and yours have not. Don't give up on your friends, they will always be there for you and you will still find time for them. But now you have to look after yourself. You need to find people who are at the same place in life that you are.
Go where you can meet and make friends with people who are single. Join a health club and start working out or take up a hobby . You could travel more and meet people that way. In short, do things and go places that keep you busy.

Your friends cannot change to accommodate you, now that they are married. And you cannot marry just to be part of their group. Please believe they still care for you and they will certainly respect you for living your life to the fullest. And one day, you and your friends will, once more, travel the same road with the same destination, but certainly not before you are ready.

Dear Maxy ,
Please print my pet peeve . I am  a senior  citizen and dislike  the terms  used  by waitresses ,waiters  and other serving  the public . I fee that I'm being patronized  when they call me "Sweetie,"  "Honey,"  "Darlin',"  "Angel," etc . These words want me to decrease  my tip .
"May I take  your order , please?" is  all that is necessary . If you  know my name use it .
Dear  B.
There  are some folks that like  these terms of endearment , but I agree  that they can seem patronizing .

No server  wants to insult  you . If you don't like  such terms, please  speak up , politely and  tell the server, "I'd appreciate  it if  you didn't  call me  "honey" etc.

Dear Maxy,
I have a bone to pick with pedestrians . I can't tell you how many times I have began  to walk up  a  flight of stairs  only to discover that someone is walking down  the side I am  walking up . As  a child , I learned  that you walk  up on  the right  side  and  down on the  left . Is that still the proper  way to use  stairs ? And when you are on an escalator  or  one of those  moving  walkways  in airports , aren't you supposed  to go to the right  if you are moving  slowly  or want to stand  still  and let fast movers  go on  the left ? Please tell  me that this  is true  and that I'm not  crazy .
Up The Stairs
Dear up the Stairs,
The  standard in America  is that  whether  you are walking  up or  down  a flight of stairs , your  right hand  should be  able to  hold onto  the handrail on your  right .  As you are walking  down a  flight of  stairs, for example, if someone is walking up  the same  flight of stairs, that person  should be passing  you on your  left  and therefore, not causing a collision .

It is true  that if you want  to pass  someone  on a staircase, whether it is moving or not, you pass on the  left, just as one does in a vehicle .

Putin's complicated game plan

Vladimir Putin

Mr Putin's recent apparent change of tack on Ukraine may be only part of a more complex policy

What is President Putin up to?

Roll back to late March: President Putin had annexed Crimea while denying Russian troops were involved. He had put tens of thousands of Russian troops on high alert near Ukraine's border. He was insisting Viktor Yanukovych was still the rightful Ukrainian president even though he had absconded.  He was castigating the new Kiev government as illegitimate and neo-fascist, and rejecting Kiev's plan for early elections. And he was warning that if Russian speakers in what he claimed were historically Russian lands in Ukraine were threatened, he might use the authority granted him by the Russian parliament to send his troops in.
His position was one of apparent strength and he was milking the opportunity to demonstrate Russia's clout. Three months down the road, the picture looks rather different. President Putin's position has shifted - so where does he stand now?

People walk past officers the Russian riot police force OMON blocking a street in the Crimean capital Simferopol

Mr Putin has now admitted Russian forces were involved in the takeover of the Crimean peninsula

About turn
He has contradicted himself by admitting that Russian troops were in fact involved in taking over Crimea and even honoured some of them with medals, although he continues to deny Russian military involvement in eastern Ukraine. He has stopped calling the Kiev government illegal, recognized Ukraine's new President, Petro Poroshenko, and engaged with him on peace negotiations. And despite their repeated calls for help, he has not acted on his chilling threat to order a full-blown invasion of eastern Ukraine to aid pro-Moscow rebels. He has not even backed their secessionist moves - either their May referendums, or their proclamations of self styled republics since.Instead, Russian troops near Ukraine's border have been ordered back to barracks (though the US thinks some build up may still be going on).

He has even unexpectedly asked the Russian parliament to rescind his authority to invade Ukraine if necessary. It looks as though, having secured Crimea, President Putin has calculated he has gone as far as he can without bearing too much cost, and the time has come to offer gestures of conciliation, to wind the crisis down.

So is that indeed what is happening? Or is Mr Putin playing a more complicated game?

A Russian armoured troop-carrier moves with soldiers (troops) atop next to a house set on fire by South Ossetian militia

Some EU countries fear a repeat of the outcome of the 2008 conflict between Russia and Georgia Well, he has some good reasons to back off. His retaking of Crimea was popular in Russia in part because it looked so painless: a simple bloodless transfer of power.  But eastern Ukraine is different. It is a bloody, murky conflict with mounting numbers of casualties and refugees. This is a war most Russians do not want to see and which they certainly do not want their sons involved in.

Mr Putin needs to cast himself as a peace envoy, not threaten invasion any more. To add to that, the Ukraine government's response has probably been tougher than Mr Putin expected. Having learned a bitter lesson from Crimea, that trying to avoid conflict can lead to territory being seized, President Poroshenko has ordered the army in, to push back at the rebels and negotiate a settlement from a position of relative strength.
And the West too has been more robust and less forgiving than perhaps Mr Putin expected, given what happened in 2008. Then, Russia's short war with Georgia ended after some EU leaders hurriedly brokered a peace deal which left two chunks - South Ossetia and Abkhazia - nominally independent but actually under Moscow's thumb.
Mr Putin probably thought that once again EU leaders would weigh their economic interests and conclude that a damaging row with Russia was something they could not afford. In fact, the experience of Georgia has had the opposite effect. It has made the annexation of Crimea look part of a pattern.
It has made some EU countries fear that Mr Putin's plans might extend to seizing further territory. And this time they worry that the conflict is not that far away in the Caucasus, but right on Europe's - and Nato's - doorstep. Hence the co-ordinated push on sanctions, currently still fairly minimal, but which could become tougher in time.
And it seems that Western governments are no longer inclined to take Mr Putin at face value. Having concealed the use of Russian troops in Crimea, when he protests now that none of his troops are involved in Eastern Ukraine, he sounds disingenuous.
He is instead suspected of conducting another "maskirovka" - destabilizing part of Ukraine by stealth, through irregulars and volunteers who are nonetheless, with their Russian weapons, allowed free access across the Russian border, at the same time as he loudly appeals to Kiev to halt its advance.

A woman waves a Russian flag as pro-Russia militants take the military oath of allegiance to the so-called People"s Republik of Donetsk

Mr Putin has not intervened as forcefully as some pro-Russian protesters in Ukraine had hoped

Dodging both ways
So what happens now?

It may well depend on Mr Putin's calculation about how far Russia and Russians are prepared to stomach further sanctions - and that is more complicated than it seems.  There appear to be two opposing schools of thought on this in Moscow.

On the one hand there are nationalists and conservatives - including many involved in defence and security - who see the West as hostile and unfriendly and welcome sanctions as a means to decouple from it. On the other hand there are pro-Western liberals and reformers who believe a long term rift with the West would be disastrous for Russia's economy.
Which side is Mr Putin on? I suspect his nationalist heart is with the anti-Westerners, but his pragmatic head may be with the economic reformers. And perhaps he will use that dichotomy to his advantage.

This picture taken on October 31, 2013, shows workers welding pipes during the symbolic start of the construction of the Bulgarian section of Russian gas giant Gazprom"s South Stream pipeline near the village of Rasovo

Work on this pipeline to carry Russian gas through Bulgaria has been halted - Mr Putin will be wary of further sanctions
Years ago, in an interview, his former judo instructor noted that one of Mr Putin's particular skills in judo was his ability to dodge first to the right and then to the left, to keep his opponent guessing.

Possibly this is an appropriate metaphor for his style as a political tactician.  Maybe his strategy is to seek to ensure that all former Soviet republics are in the hands of rulers who feel beholden to Moscow and can be relied upon not to act against its interests. This certainly looks like his overriding security vision.
But if that is not possible, then in the meantime, his strategy may be to keep these countries weak. How? Well, in Ukraine's case, on the one hand offering just enough apparent concessions to deter the West from imposing sanctions which will really start to bite, affect Russian living standards, and therefore his own popularity and chances of re-election in 2018. But on the other hand, he may keep meddling in eastern Ukraine and anywhere else where he will not meet too much resistance, to reinforce his message - that Russia is a country and that he is a leader who is not to be trifled with and expects his viewpoint to be taken into account.

Wednesday, June 25, 2014

US House plans to 'sue' Obama over executive authority

House Speaker John Boehner appeared in Washington on 25 June 2014

Boehner accused President Obama of "aggressive unilateralism"

The US House of Representatives will vote next month on legislation authorizing a lawsuit against President Barack Obama, the speaker has said.

Republican House Speaker John Boehner accused Mr Obama of illegally failing to carry out laws passed by Congress. He said Mr Obama, a Democrat, was guilty of "aggressive unilateralism" in his use of executive authority. The White House argues Mr Obama acts within his Constitutional authority and on behalf of the American people.

"On matters ranging from healthcare and energy to foreign policy and education, President Obama has repeatedly run an end-around on the public and Congress," Mr Boehner wrote in a letter to the Republican House caucus. He also accused Mr Obama of "ignoring some statutes completely, selectively enforcing others and at times, creating laws of his own".

White House press secretary Josh Earnest dismissed the allegations.
"We feel completely confident that the president was operating within his authority as the president of the United States to take these steps on behalf of the American people," he said.

'Desperate political stunt'


The Republican Party controls the House of Representatives and enough votes in the Senate to block legislation in that chamber, effectively halting Mr Obama's legislative agenda since the beginning of 2011. In his state of the union speech in January, Mr Obama vowed to use his "pen and phone" to circumvent Congress through executive action, provoking Republican denunciations of an "imperial presidency".
Mr Obama in recent months has issued two executive orders aimed at erasing gender disparities in pay among the government workforce, and announced plans to sign an order banning federal government contractors from discriminating against gay and transgender workers.

In June 2012, Mr Obama sidestepped Congress on immigration reform, issuing an executive order halting deportation of some illegal immigrants brought to the US as children. Another executive order allowed some illegal-immigrant relatives of US military members to remain in the country.
Republicans were also quick to challenge Mr Obama's decision to postpone legal requirements under his signature healthcare law. Conservatives denounced the move as unilateral and a violation of the law, calling on the White House to throw out all the Affordable Care Act's coverage mandates.
The announcement on Wednesday of the planned lawsuit escalates the bitter political battle between Republicans and Democrats ahead of mid-term elections in November. At stake are control of the House and the Senate.
Congressman Steve Israel, chair of the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee, criticized House Republicans for the maneuver.

"[It's a] reprehensible waste of taxpayers' money and a desperate political stunt meant to gin up the Republican base at a time when House Republicans are historically unpopular," he said.

Sunni Fighters Eye Baghdad...Kerry Calls for Unity

Tuesday, June 24, 2014

Slow-motion U.S. reaction is designed to push Baghdad to compromise

During the first lull—1991 to 2003—in the now-23-year-old Iraq war, U.S. war planes would routinely destroy missile sites operated by Saddam Hussein’s forces if American pilots deemed them threatening

Now that the U.S. is amid a second lull, since pulling its forces out in 2011, it has adapted a different strategy. While it’s flying 30 or more manned and unmanned airplanes daily over Iraq to chart the progress of the rebels belonging to the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria, as they bulldoze across western Iraq and threaten Baghdad, the U.S. has numbed its trigger finger.

No truth to rumors in the media today that US drones struck [ISIS] targets in Iraq,” Rear Admiral John Kirby, the Pentagon’s top spokesman, tweeted to his 27,000 followers mid-day Tuesday..

What’s going on here?

It’s simple: the U.S. military generally “sends messages” by attacking. Now it is sending messages by not attacking. And its target this time around isn’t the enemy, but its purported ally running the country.
While the Pentagon officially denies it, the U.S, government is dragging its feet when it comes to defending Prime Minister Nouri al-Malaki’s government in Iraq. This Goldilocks approach surfaced at Tuesday’s Pentagon briefing, where Kirby said ISIS is a “legitimate threat to Baghdad,” and said the first 90 U.S. troops have arrived in the Iraqi capital to set up a command post and figure out how the U.S. might be able to help.
 President Obama said Thursday that as many as 300 advisers could end up in Iraq offering intelligence and guidance to the Iraqi security forces trying to defeat ISIS.
“This is a measured, deliberate approach to help us and [the Iraqi government] get better eyes on the situation,” Kirby said. “This isn’t about making assistance and advice hinge purely and solely on political gains.”
But Kirby described a Pentagon that is in no rush to save the Iraqi capital:
"The teams will begin their assessments immediately and provide their findings through the chain of command within the next two to three weeks…we continue to fly routine and regular ISR [intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance] missions over Iraq to the tune of about 30 to 35 flights per day to help us gain better insight about the security situation on the ground. This continued effort will no doubt aid our assessment teams as they begin their important work…then we’ll make decisions, follow-on decisions, about the second joint operations center in northern Iraq at a later date…Right now we’re sort of in the assessment phase, and standing up the joint operations center is a key part of that. Eventually we’ll move to, you know, a more active advise-and-assist phase."
Washington is trying to hit the sweet spot: promise to deliver enough help in the form of air strikes and on-the-ground advisers to preserve Maliki’s government, but make sure it arrives slowly enough that he feels compelled to compromise with the Sunnis and Kurds who are now tearing the country apart.
It’s a gamble, for both Obama and Maliki.
It isn’t clear yet whose side time is on. The final U.S. troops left South Vietnam on Mar. 29, 1973. Saigon fell to North Vietnam, and South Vietnam ceased to exist, 762 days later, after the U.S. Congress refused to pay for additional fighting. It has been 919 days since the last U.S. troops stationed in Iraq, to wage the war that started with the 2003 invasion, headed for home.

The Slap...Really?

Filmmaker Max Landis had an idea: "I should get my friends to hit each other in the face."
So he gathered his friends and acquaintances — some of them recognizable, like The Sixth Sense's Haley Joel Osment — randomly paired them together, and asked them to slap each other. Landis insists "The Slap" is not a parody, nor was it designed to offend or shock.
"It's sort of an experiment. The idea is to put two people in front of a camera, and refuse to interact with them, there's nowhere for them to hide; they’re directing each other," Landis says in a behind-the-scenes video.
"They immediately establish a rapport," he continues. "To a small degree, they're united against the camera. We're almost the antagonists."
Landis writes on YouTube that his theory was that "a slap, robbed of its violating context, is more intimate than a kiss."
"The theory I had was that violence minus aggression is intimacy," he further explains in an accompanying video. "It's the idea of trusting someone to hit you and it being a social interaction. A slap, mitigated by permission, is a hug."

Sure enough, friendships are formed as the slapping progresses. It starts off hesitantly then the participants really get into the spirit of the experiment and slug each other repeatedly.
"This is one hell of a way to make a friend," one man says to his slapping partner.
There's more nervous giggling in "The Slap" than aggression — and the new friendships appears to be genuine:
"Wimpy face-slaps: now up for consideration as a more socially beneficial ice-breaking experience."
" Count me out."

Panda Attack on Hong Kong

Some 1,600 pandas took over Hong Kong recently, as this video shows. The paper mache panda flash-mob was created by French artist Paulo Grangeon and is currently touring the world, with several stops at different Hong Kong location. The 1,600 pandas represent the number of pandas left in the wild. Proceeds from the work go to the World Wildlife Fund, Hong Kong.

Mysterious Island Appears on Titan

Now: A photo from July 2013 of the mysterious ’magic island’ transient feature in Ligeia Mare (circled in red), acquired by the Cassini probe

A unidentified and mysterious piece of land has appeared out of nowhere in radar images of Saturn’s giant moon, Titan, which is now being dubbed the ‘magic island’. Scientists  can not explain how it simply just appeared in a new photograph.  However, as quickly as it appeared, it vanished in later images, and no one knows why

As it was: A 2007 image of the area of the transient feature in Titan’s sea Ligeia Mare before it was discovered
As it was: A 2007 image of the area of the transient feature in Titan’s sea Ligeia Mare before it was island

When compared to older flybys taken in 2007, this object did not exist, but scientists believe this newly discovered feature could be the result of waves, bubbles or buoyant solid matter.
Jason Hofgartner, a second year Phd. grad student at Cornell University in New York, said,
“This discovery tells us that the liquids in Titan’s northern hemisphere are not simply stagnant and unchanging, but rather that changes do occur. We don’t know precisely what caused this to appear, but we’d like to study it further.”

The object was discovered while scientists were examining images of Ligeia Mare, Titan’s second-largest sea, which was captured by the Cassini space probe. Prior to July 2013 the sea had appeared flat and void of any objects, waves or landmasses.
The appearance, and disappearance, of the ‘magic island’ remains unexplained.Titan is the only planetary body in the solar system besides Earth known to have large expanses of liquid on its surface.

Many thanx to my NASA Junior Scientists and champion debaters - Jonny and Chris

Egypt sentences al-Jazeera trio to at least seven years' jail

FILE - In this Thursday, May 5, 2014 file photo, Mohammed Fahmy, Canadian-Egyptian acting bureau chief of Al-Jazeera, appears in a defendant's cage along with several other defendants during their trial on terror charges at a courtroom in Cairo, Egypt. An Egyptian court has convicted three journalists for Al-Jazeera English on Monday, June 23, 2014, including Egyptian-Canadian Mohamed Fahmy, and sentenced them to seven years in prison each on terrorism-related charges. (AP Photo/Hamada Elrasam, File)
Mohammed Fahmy, Canadian-Egyptian acting bureau chief of Al-Jazeera, appears in a defendant's cage along with several other defendants during their trial on terror charges at a courtroom in Cairo

Three al-Jazeera journalists accused of supporting the Muslim Brotherhood have been jailed for seven years in Egypt. A court in Cairo convicted Peter Greste, Mohamed Fahmy and Baher Mohamed of spreading false news and supporting the now banned Islamist group. The trio had denied the charges. Eleven defendants tried in absentia, including three foreign journalists, received 10-year sentences.
The trial has caused an international outcry amid claims it was politicized. Australian Foreign Minister Julie Bishop told reporters on Monday she was "bitterly disappointed" by the outcome. Greste is an Australian citizen. British Prime Minister David Cameron said he was "completely appalled" and the UK Foreign Office has summoned the Egyptian ambassador over the guilty verdicts. Two of the journalists convicted in absentia are British.
There was no physical evidence to support the charges.  Correspondents concur that nothing put forward earlier in court warranted the serious charges brought. The judge was shown photographs from Mr Greste's family holiday, a Sky Arabia report on cruelty to horses and a video of a news conference in Nairobi.  Baher Mohamed was sentenced to a further three years in jail on a separate charge involving possession of "unlicensed ammunition".

Peter Greste has spent six months in a 4m (13ft) cell with his two al-Jazeera colleagues, locked down for 23 hours a day with only a small window for light. The Tora prison is a "hell hole" says Greste's brother, Michael. "But he is strong and he will survive." That resilience was on show when the prisoners came into court. They waved at friends and family and hugged each other, hoping their ordeal was now ending.
The judge, wearing sunglasses, looked unmoved by the scores of cameras there to record the verdict. Last week he sentenced 14 people to death, including the father of one of the students standing in the cage.
As he heard the verdict, Peter Greste punched the cage in frustration. Mohamed Fahmy screamed in defiance.
 "He needs surgery, he has done nothing wrong," his mother wailed. Fahmy spent the first few weeks of his detention sleeping on the floor with a dislocated shoulder.  Now the nerves in the arm are permanently damaged.
In a statement, al-Jazeera's English managing director Al Anstey said the sentence "defies logic, sense, and any semblance of justice". The three men are expected to appeal.

Al-Jazeera has said only nine of the 20 defendants are its employees. The others are reportedly students and activists, two of whom were acquitted in Monday's verdict. The trial occurs amid concerns over growing media restrictions in Egypt.

Monday, June 23, 2014

168 Children Recovered in Child Sex Trafficking Sting

FBI Director James Comey speaks during a news conference on child sex trafficking, at FBI headquarters, 23 June 2014
"This is not our first operation, and it will not be our last," FBI director James Comey said

Authorities rescued 168 children and arrested 281 alleged pimps in cities across the US in a week-long child sex-trafficking sting, according to the FBI.
"Our children are not for sale," FBI director James Comey said, announcing the results of what the bureau dubbed Operation Cross Country. About 400 law enforcement agencies across more than 100 cities assisted in the haul, he said.Some of the children had been "sold" online, FBI officials said. "These are not faraway kids in faraway lands," Mr Comey said. "These are America's children. This is not our first operation, and it will not be our last."
This was the eighth such operation managed by the FBI, which has recovered nearly 3,600 children and gained convictions in 1,450 cases over 11 years, the bureau said.
"Child sex traffickers create a living nightmare for their adolescent victims," said Leslie Caldwell, assistant attorney general, department of justice criminal division. "They use fear and force and treat children as commodities of sex to be sold again and again. This operation puts traffickers behind bars and rescues kids from their nightmare so they can start reclaiming their childhood."
FBI officials said children who had been recovered would be given therapy and medical attention. Many of the children rescued in these latest raids had formerly been part of the child welfare system but no-one had reported them missing.
"We cannot find them if no one reports them missing," John Ryan, chief executive of the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children said, adding that in only two states were agencies required to report children missing from their care. Officials said agencies may not report the children missing because some run away repeatedly and they may believe the children will return. There has to be a better system for taking care of our children. And why is it not a priority with the government? They care about abused children in developing countries.

Saturday, June 21, 2014

Syrian Refugees Rescued by Italian Navy

Can Europe Cope with the Flood of Refugees?

The loaded boat in the Mediterranean, showing migrants on board wearing lifejackets - 20 June 2014
Syrian refugees rescued from overloaded migrant boat

More than 51million people fled their homes in 2013 - an increase of six million from the previous year. Nearly six million of them are children. The rise in numbers was driven mainly by the fighting in Syria, along with new conflicts in the Central African Republic and South Sudan.
The sheer professionalism and dedication of the Italian navy has been severely put to the test. Their job is a difficult one. Saving lives at sea, even with all the resources they have, is not always possible.

But that is their mission. It is not a foregone conclusion that they will make it to a ship in distress in time. Merchant ships can carry out rescues of course, and do. But the navy is best equipped to deal with the difficulties of moving scared, exhausted people between vessels in the middle of the sea. They are saving lives every day. One thing that is abundantly clear is that Europe's policy-makers need to get a grip on the situation.
The UN refugee agency this week revealed that the number of people fleeing war, persecution and poverty around the world is at levels not seen since World War II.  It says richer countries need to do more to help refugees - that poorer nations are shouldering more than their fair share of the task. Europe has seen tens of thousands arrive this year, and - as word spreads that the Italian navy is actively rescuing people at sea - more will presumably be tempted to take to the sea.

Moral imperative
Italy cannot cope on its own. Its asylum system is already under strain. The last boat rescued, was overloaded with migrants, most of whom were refugees from Syria. But can Europe deal with the people who are arriving? Their numbers are not that huge compared with a population in the EU of 500 million.
But anti-immigration sentiment is rising across the bloc. Politicians are campaigning on closing the doors, not opening them.  Where does this leave people who are seeking refuge because life elsewhere is simply intolerable and too dangerous? Equally, how to address the legitimate concerns that public services in some areas are already over burdened?  It's clear there is a moral imperative to save lives.

All of the migrants were escaping war - not fleeing because they wanted to leave their homes. They want to return to those homes when it's safe to do so. Can Europe, will Europe make them welcome?
What can the rest of the world do to help?

US House approves limits on NSA snooping

Photo taken 6 June 2013 showing a sign outside the National Security Administration (NSA) campus in Fort Meade, Md. 

The NSA has bulk collected data on millions of people around the globe, leaked documents show

Members of the US House of Representatives banded together in a cross-party vote to pass legislation that would curb electronic snooping. The measure would bar the National Security Agency (NSA) from collecting Americans' personal online information without a warrant. It was added on Thursday night to a $570bn defence spending bill. The move follows revelations the NSA mass harvested data on telephone calls and snooped on foreign leaders.
"The American people are sick of being spied on," Congressman Thomas Massie, the amendment's sponsor, said. The amendment, added to the defence bill in a 293-123 vote on Thursday, also prohibits the NSA and CIA from accessing commercial technology products, which some politicians have described as a government "backdoor" for snooping.
Leaked documents provided to the Guardian newspaper indicate the NSA intercepted computer network devices such as routers and servers and embedded them with backdoor surveillance tools. They were then sent to customers around the world. Technology companies including Google were part of a coalition which urged support for the House provision.

Earlier this year the House passed the USA Freedom Act that would limit the NSA's bulk data collection and storage of some American landline telephone call records. But some members of Congress complained that legislation was not strict enough. The House is expected to pass the defence bill on Friday. But the fate of the spying curbs is unclear, as they have yet to be written into the Senate version of the defence spending bill.
Congress has attempted to restrict government surveillance after revelations last year by fugitive US intelligence leaker Edward Snowden showed widespread snooping. Last year, Mr Snowden - a former NSA contractor - fed a trove of secret NSA documents to news outlets including the Washington Post and the Guardian.
Among other things, the leaks detailed the NSA's practice of harvesting data on millions of telephone calls made in the US and around the world, and revealed the agency had snooped on foreign leaders.
The revelations have sparked a debate in the US over the appropriate role of the NSA and the extent to which it should be authorized to conduct such broad surveillance.

President Obama has asked Congress to rein in the program by barring the NSA from storing phone call data on its own and requiring it to seek a court order to access telecom companies' records.
Mr Snowden, meanwhile, fled the US in May 2013 and has been living under temporary asylum in Russia.

US sets up honey bee task force

Barry Conrad inspects his honey bees at his Canal Winchester, Ohio, honey farm 23 April 2014
The US has seen continuing declines of honeybee populations

A task force has been set up to tackle the decline of honey bees. The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and the agriculture department will lead the effort, which includes $8million for new honey bee habitats.
Bee populations saw a 23% decline last winter, a trend blamed on the loss of genetic diversity, exposure to certain pesticides and other factors. A quarter of the food Americans eat, including apples, carrots and avocados, relies on pollination.
Honey bees add more than $15bn in value to US agricultural crops, according to the White House.
The decline in bee populations is also blamed on the loss of natural forage and inadequate diets, mite infestations and diseases. There has also been an increase in a condition called colony collapse disorder in which there is a rapid, unexpected and catastrophic loss of bees in a hive. But other North American pollinators, like the monarch butterfly, have seen decreases in their populations as well.

Honey bees

Some environmental groups have criticized the president for not acting more directly, including taking action against neonicotinoids, a class of pesticides linked to bee deaths.
"The administration should prevent the release and use of these toxic pesticides until determined safe," Friends of the Earth president Erich Pica told Reuters.
In the plan announced on Friday, Mr Obama directed the EPA and the agriculture department to lead a government-wide task force to develop a strategy within six months to fight bee and other pollinator declines. Also announced on Friday was funding for farmers and ranchers in five states - Michigan, Minnesota, North Dakota, South Dakota and Wisconsin - who establish new habitats for honey bee populations.

Friday, June 20, 2014

'Huge' settlement in New York Central Park jogger case

Wrongfully convicted Central Park jogger rapist Yusef Salaam, shown in 1990 

Yusef Salaam (shown in 1990), was one of five black or Hispanic youths wrongfully convicted in the racially charged case

Five men wrongfully convicted in the brutal 1989 rape of a jogger in New York's Central Park have settled a lawsuit against the city for $40m. The racially charged case shocked the city during some of its bleakest years. The sum must still be approved by the city's comptroller and a federal judge. The men, teenagers when the crime was committed, served 7-13 years in prison before their exoneration in 2002 when evidence pointed to another man.

The victim, a white 28-year-old investment banker, was severely beaten, raped and left for dead in a bush. She had no memory of the attack. Local youths Raymond Santana, Kevin Richardson, Antron McCray and Yusef Salaam and Korey Wise, then aged 14-16, were arrested and interrogated for hours without access to lawyers or their parents.

Desmond Cadogan holds up a sign during a rally in support of the Central Park Five in New York in this 17 January 2013  
Supports of the Central Park Five rallied in New York in 2013
They made confessions, and although they soon recanted and other evidence indicated they had been elsewhere when the woman was attacked, they were convicted and sentenced to years in prison.

The crime, occurring well before New York's current renaissance began in the mid-1990s, shocked the city and provoked fears of gangs of black teenagers going on crime rampages - "wilding", the media called it.

In 2002, an investigation by the Manhattan prosecutor determined a serial violent offender named Matias Reyes had confessed to the attack and said he acted alone. In their legal action, the men accused New York prosecutors and police of false arrest, malicious prosecution and a racially motivated conspiracy to deprive the men of their civil rights.

The proposed settlement, which has not been officially announced by the city but was reported widely by local newspapers on Thursday and Friday, would amount to about $1m per year in prison for the men. What could be more unjust that incarcerating innocent men because of their race ?

Fierce battles for Baiji and Tal Afar...Iraq

  graphic of Baiji oil refinery

Islamist-led militants and pro-government forces are engaged in fierce battles for the Baiji oil refinery and Tal Afar airport in northern Iraq. Baiji, Iraq's biggest refinery, is surrounded by the rebels, who say they have seized most of Tal Afar airport. The fighting comes a day after the US said it would send some 300 military advisers to help the fight against the insurgents. President Obama stressed that US troops would not fight in Iraq.

US Secretary of State John Kerry is expected to travel to Iraq soon to press for a more representative cabinet, hoping this could ease tensions between the country's rival Muslim sects. The country's highest Shia religious authority, Grand Ayatollah Ali al-Sistani, has called for a new government to be set up quickly now the results of recent elections have been ratified. He said a new government needed to aim for "broad national acceptance" and to "remedy past mistakes".

Correspondents say that will be seen by many as criticism of Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri Maliki.
Mr Maliki has been accused of pursuing anti-Sunni policies, pushing some Sunni militants to join the jihadist Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (Isis), which has made rapid advances in recent days.
About 500,000 people have fled their homes in the country's second-largest city, Mosul, which Isis captured last week.
The UN estimates that brings to about one million, the number of people displaced within Iraq as a result of violence this year.

President Obama's statement wasn't the lifeline the Iraqi government had hoped for. They wanted immediate airstrikes to stop Isis in its tracks. Instead, they will get up to 300 military advisers, who will restore the backbone to the Iraqi National Army which it has been missing since the Americans withdrew. The promise of air strikes is there, but attacks by US planes or missiles may, it seems, be dependent on some clear improvement in the way Iraq is governed .

Obama believes Prime Minister Nouri Maliki has endangered Iraq by ignoring Sunni concerns and governing in the interests of the Shia majority. Mr Maliki's supporters deny this and say he won't resign, but rivals to his government are said to be emerging. The least Mr Maliki will have to do is create a new and more inclusive government.  Then, perhaps, America will supply air support.

Isis says it has downed two military helicopters around the Baiji refinery but this has not been independently confirmed. It is thought the militants may have captured part of the vast oil complex.
They have also seized a disused chemical weapons factory in Muthanna, 70km (45 miles) north-west of the capital, Baghdad. The US says it does not believe the site contains any material that the insurgents could use to make chemical weapons. But state department spokeswoman Jen Psaki said: "We remain concerned about the seizure of any military site by" Isis.

Iraq has openly asked the US for air strikes against the Sunni militants. Mr Obama said the US was prepared for "targeted and precise military action, if and when" required, but he insisted there was "no military solution" to the crisis. He also pointedly urged the Shia-led Iraqi government to be "inclusive".
"The United States will not pursue military actions that support one sect inside of Iraq at the expense of another," Mr Obama said.

In addition to sending advisers, Mr Obama said that the US would be increasing intelligence efforts and setting up "joint operation centres in Baghdad and northern Iraq". On Wednesday, the chairman of the US Joint Chiefs of Staff, Gen Martin Dempsey, warned that the US military still lacked sufficient intelligence to launch air strikes. He told a congressional hearing that pilots would have difficulty knowing who they were attacking from the air.

Iraqi men check in at main army recruiting centre to volunteer for military service in Baghdad, Iraq, Friday, June 20, 2014,
Thousands of Iraqi Shia have volunteered to join the army and help fight Isis
Tribesmen shout slogans while carrying weapons during a rally in the Shia holy city of Karbala (28 June 2014)
Members of Iraq's Shia majority community have volunteered to fight alongside the security forces
  • Sunnis and Shia share fundamental beliefs, but differ in doctrine, ritual, law, theology and religious organization
  • The origins of the split lie in a dispute over who should have succeeded the Prophet Muhammad as leader of the Muslim community
  • Sunnis are the majority sect in the Muslim world, but Shia, most of them ethnic Arabs, form between 60% and 65% of Iraq's population; Sunnis make up 32-37%, split between Arabs and Kurds
  • Sunni Arabs dominated Iraq under Saddam Hussein and their persecution of the Shia stoked sectarian tensions; the US-led invasion in 2003 gave the Shia an opportunity to seek redress
  • Nouri Maliki has been accused of denying Sunni Arabs meaningful representation and pursuing security policies that target them
Isis fighters have been pushing towards Iraq's capital, Baghdad.
Isis grew out of an al-Qaeda-linked organization in Iraq
  • Estimated 10,000 fighters in Iraq and Syria
  • Joined in its offensives by other Sunni militant groups, including Saddam-era officers and soldiers, and disaffected Sunni tribal fighters
  • Exploits - standoff between Iraqi government and the minority Sunni Arab community, which complains that Shia Prime Minister Nouri Maliki is monopolizing power
  • Isis led by Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, an obscure figure regarded as a battlefield commander and tactician
There are generally two sides to every situation; and in spite of the blitzing attacks and inhumane treatment of prisoners the Sunnis, presumably, have their side.

Thursday, June 19, 2014

Dear Maxy,
My husband  calls me the 'Throw-a-way Queen." I have gotten into hot water  for not asking  before I trashed something . Now I think I've mad a huge mistake .
We were thinking of  moving , so I started cleaning out  storage bins . I threw away two items of my husband's that had been in those  bins for years . Last week his son came over  to help clear out  some things and specifically  asked for  the items I tossed . They  apparently  were of  sentimental value to  him .
I acted  as if  I hadn't a clue  what he was talking  about but I feel guilty  and ashamed  . This is a burden on my conscience  and I don't know what to do . I don't want to keep lying to him but I'm afraid of confessing . What should I do ?
Dear Stepmom ,
Imagine the reaction  from your stepson  when he discovers  that you threw out these two items . I think you can tolerate his  anger  and disappointment . Please tell him . Apologize  profusely .  Say you had  no idea  he would want these things or you would  have saved them  . Say  that you  are ashamed  for not telling him  sooner . Ask him to forgive you  for  your lapse in judgemrnt . I think once he  gets past  his disappointment  you both  will be able  to put this behind  you .

Dear Maxy ,
My husband was recently laid off from a big  law firm in New York . We have  three children  and I am a stay-at-home-mom .  He is trying to find places that are hiring, but he is not  doiing  well . One of our children  is off  to college   next year  and we do not  have enough money  to live like we have  been since  we need to pay  for college . It has been very hard on the family  and the  financial tensions  cause  fights . It has been a rough couple  of months  and I do not know  if I can take it . What is the best way to manage  this situation  without ruining  our relationship ?
Dear Stressed ,
Sit down with your husband  to discuss  your  finances and to come up with a plan . Maybe  you will need  to get a job . Perhaps  your college  bound child will need to get financial aid . Be practical . If you can address  them as a team , you create  space  for respect  and support  through  what will likely  be an agonizing  period  for quite  some time .

Dear Maxy ,
My daughter  just confronted  me about  wanting  to go on birth control  so she can have sex with her  boyfriend .
They are seniors in high school . I think that they are too young but I don't want  her to go behind my back  and go unprotected .
I feel  that by  giving in  and letting her get the birth control, I am letting  her have sex  when I really am not OK with it . What is the best way to approach this  situation ?
Scared  Mom
Dear Scared Mom ,
This is a very tough challenge  that  many parents  face . On the one hand , you want to reinforce  your  values; on the other, you want to protect  your  daughter  should she decide  to move forward  with  her plan . One  good  thing to note  is that she asked  for your help  in getting  birth control . She did not  have to do  that . She  could have  gone  to a clinic  and gotten them on her own .
So, start  by thanking her  for bringing this topic  up with you . Tell her  how uncomfortable  it makes  you feel  that she  is making this decision  at this time . Ask her to tell you why  she feels  that the time is now . Why does  she feel ready ? Ask her about  her relationship with her boyfriend . Is it a committed relationship , as much as a high school  bond can generally be ? Ask if she has had sex before , and if  she has, talk to her  about why  you wish  she would  wait longer . Be specific  without  being  judgmental .
Ultimately, if you  believe  she is  going to have  sex , take her to a gynecologist  who can talk  to her about her body in more details.  And allow her to have the birth control.

Tuesday, June 17, 2014

US Creates World's Largest Marine Protected Area

Palmyra atoll

The protected area around Palmyra atoll will be significantly extended

The US plans to create the world's biggest marine protected area (MPA) in the middle of the Pacific Ocean. The White House will extend an existing protected area, known as the Pacific Remote Islands Marine National Monument. Fishing and drilling would be banned from an area that could eventually cover two million sq km. The extended zone would double the world's fully protected marine reserves.
The Pacific Remote Islands Area is controlled by the US and consists of seven scattered islands, atolls and reefs that lie between Hawaii and American Samoa. Essentially uninhabited, the waters that surround these remote islands are home to a wide range of species including corals, seabirds, sharks and vegetation not found anywhere else in the world.

In 2009, President Bush declared the Pacific Remote Islands Marine National Monument, giving the islands the same level of protection as statues or cultural sites. Now President Obama has signalled that he will extend the area that will be off limits to fishing and mineral exploitation to the limit of US economic control - some 200 nautical miles around the islands.

The White House said the final size of the protected zone would depend on consultations with scientists, fishing and conservation organizations. The Washington Post reported that this would eventually cover up two million sq km.
"This area contains some of the most pristine tropical marine environment in the world," said White House senior counsel John Podesta, who made the announcement.
"These tropical coral reefs and associated ecosystems are among the marine environments facing the most serious threat from climate change and ocean acidification."
Speaking ahead of the announcement, President Obama said that protecting marine areas wasn't just a good idea for the environment, it made good economic sense as well.
"If we ignore these problems, if we drain our oceans of their resources, we won't just be squandering one of humanity's greatest treasures, we will be cutting off one of the worlds major sources of food and economic growth," he said.

Last year, attempts to create huge marine reserves in Antarctica failed when Russia blocked plans by the US and others for a third time. Ocean campaigners have welcomed the new US plan as an important step. This is incredibly significant and shows global leadership from the US on this issue" said Karen Sack from the Pew Charitable Trusts.
"There is an amazing array of biodiversity around these islands, there are sea mount systems with a lot of deep sea species, all types of marine mammals."

Marine Protected Areas currently make up around 2.8% of the world's oceans - but Karen Sack says the areas that have a full ban on fishing, drilling and other activities are much smaller, which increases the significance of the US move.
"Less than 1% of the global ocean is fully protected," she said.
"While this area may be far away from anywhere the designation adds to the part of the ocean that is protected in this way which is critical."
Conserving marine species isn't just the preserve of large nations like the US. In recent days the tiny Republic of Kiribati announced that the Phoenix Islands Protected Area, will close to all commercial fishing by the end of 2014. This fishing zone, which is close to the newly extended US MPA, is within a region that is home to the largest remaining stocks of tuna on Earth.

What up With Dr Oz ?

CNN) -- Dr. Mehmet Oz, host of "The Dr. Oz Show," was grilled Tuesday by senators on Capitol Hill about the promotion of weight loss products on his show.
Sen. Claire McCaskill, chairwoman of the subcommittee on Consumer Protection, Product Safety, and Insurance, led the panel that looked at false advertising for weight loss products. Subcommittee members took issue with claims Oz has made on his show about products that don't have a lot of scientific evidence to back them up, such as green coffee beans.
"The scientific community is almost monolithic against you in terms of the efficacy of the three products you called 'miracles,'" said McCaskill, a Missouri Democrat. She said she was discouraged by the "false hope" his rhetoric gives viewers and questioned his role, "intentional or not, in perpetuating these scams."
"I don't get why you need to say this stuff when you know it's not true. When you have this amazing megaphone, why would you cheapen your show?... With power comes a great deal of responsibility."
Oz told the committee that he does use "flowery language" to describe certain products on his show, but added he believes in them so much he has given them to his own family.
"My job, I feel, on the show is to be a cheerleader for the audience, and when they don't think they have hope, when they don't think they can make it happen, I want to look, and I do look everywhere, including in alternative healing traditions, for any evidence that might be supportive to them," Oz told the panel.
He testified that he could not be held responsible for what certain companies say online about the products. He said he's toned down some of his language and will publish a list of products he thinks really can help people lose weight.
"To not have the conversation about supplements at all however would be a disservice to the viewer," Oz said in a prepared statement after the hearing. "In addition to exercising an abundance of caution in discussing promising research and products in the future, I look forward to working with all those present today in finding a way to deal with the problems of weight loss scams."
In May, the Federal Trade Commission sued the sellers of Green Coffee Beans for deceiving consumers through fake news sites and invented health claims. The FTC said that weeks after "The Dr. Oz Show" promoted the benefits of Pure Green Coffee, some companies that marketed the product used video from his show to increase sales.
The FTC told CNN Senior Medical Correspondent Elizabeth Cohen that there are just "too many" of these products to sue them all. But consumers should be wary of certain phrases that are most certainly false, the FTC said, including any that claim to help you lose weight without diet and exercise.
Bottom line -- don't believe everything you see. Do your homework online and make sure any claim about a weight loss product is backed up by scientific evidence.