Zhucheng in Shandong province is known locally as "dinosaur city" and has been the scene of several important finds since the 1960s.
In 2007, [James] Brett was invited to Kabul to talk to farmers from various regions of Afghanistan about growing pomegranates. He flew to Peshawar and drove through the Khyber Pass heading to Kabul While driving through the Nangarhar Province, he noticed a farmer in a field of opium poppies. After the seminar in Kabul, Brett bought a large piece of card and a blue marker pen, and wrote 'Pomegranate is the Answer'. On his return drive back to Peshawar, he saw the same farmer again in the field, jumped out of the car and ran toward the farmer with his makeshift sign. His horrified translator chased after this mad ginger-haired Brit, yelling, 'Don't go in there, you could be shot!' Undetered, Brett talked to the bewildered farmer through his translator, about the farmer's life, his family, his children, how he lived and why he grew opium, about Brett's own addiction to drugs. Brett explained that pomegranate was not only the best option as an alternative crop to opium poppies, but was the only feasible one for the Afghan climate and growing conditions, and promised to return to the farmer's land a couple months later with pomegranate saplings. He went home and set up a charity called Pom354.
Brett followed through on his promise, returning a few months later to find the farmer had discussed this idea with sixteen other families with land around his own; all of them wanted to become involved. From there, the plan snowballed – in January, 2008, Afghanistan Television interviewed him, and other farmers asked him for help in changing their fields from poppies to pomegranates. The local member of Parliament and a respected Elder in the Tribal system wanted to know more. A tribal meeting covering the entire Nangarhar Province was called, and 200 Tribal elders invited.
Aspidistra was a World War II man-in-the-middle attack. The vulnerability that made it possible was that German broadcast stations were mostly broadcasting the same content from a central source; but during air raids, transmitters in the target area were switched off to prevent them being used for radio direction-finding of the target.
The exploit involved the very powerful (500KW) Aspidistra transmitter, coupled to a directional antenna farm. With that power, they could make it sound like a local station in the target area.
With a staff of fake announcers, a fake German band, and recordings of recent speeches from high-ranking Nazis, they would smoothly switch from merely relaying the German network to emulating it with their own staff. They could then make modifications to news broadcasts, occasionally creating panic and confusion.
MMOGs as Social Experiments: the Case of Environmental Laws
Authors: Joost Broekens
(Submitted on 5 Nov 2008)
Abstract: In this paper we argue that Massively Multiplayer Online Games (MMOGs), also known as Large Games are an interesting research tool for policy experimentation. One of the major problems with lawmaking is that testing the laws is a difficult enterprise. Here we show that the concept of an MMOG can be used to experiment with environmental laws on a large scale, provided that the MMOG is a real game, i.e., it is fun, addictive, presents challenges that last, etc.. We present a detailed game concept as an initial step.
Subjects: Computers and Society (cs.CY)
Cite as: arXiv:0811.0709v1 [cs.CY]
Full paper: http://arxiv.org/pdf/0811.0709v1
The Supreme Court has spoken. I do not believe their voice reflects the majority of the people of Connecticut. However, I am also firmly convinced that attempts to reverse this decision – either legislatively or by amending the state Constitution – will not meet with success. I will therefore abide by the ruling.”
I only wish she had been asked: “Governor Palin, if paying taxes is not considered patriotic in your neighborhood, who is going to pay for the body armor that will protect your son in Iraq? Who is going to pay for the bailout you endorsed? If it isn’t from tax revenues, there are only two ways to pay for those big projects — printing more money or borrowing more money. Do you think borrowing money from China is more patriotic than raising it in taxes from Americans?” That is not putting America first. That is selling America first.
Affectations aside, there’s plenty about Palin we Alaskans do recognize, and all too well. She’s already proven to us that her promises of transparent government, attendant to the will of the people, are bear pucky. We know about her private e-mail accounts and her systematic obstruction of the Alaska Legislature’s investigation of the so-called Troopergate scandal. But let’s turn to her environmental record, where a similar pattern of obfuscation continues.
First, Palin pushed hard, along with sport hunting and guiding interests, to help defeat a ballot initiative that would have stopped the state’s current aerial wolf control program, which had been criticized by the National Academy of Sciences and the National Research Council for flawed science. Now her administration has pointedly refused to respond to repeated public information requests (I’m one of the petitioners, and a potential litigant), regarding the apparently illegal killing of 14 wolf pups at their dens on the Alaska Peninsula this spring by state personnel, including two high-level Department of Fish and Game administrators. A biologist at the scene admitted to an independent wolf scientist that the 6-week-old pups were held down and shot in the head, one by one. This inhumane practice, known as “denning,” has been illegal for 40 years. But a simple request for information on the details of this operation, including to what extent the governor was involved in the decision, has resulted in a typical Palinesque roadblock and a string of untruths.
Our I-love-Alaska governor was also instrumental in defeating a ballot initiative to stop development of a gargantuan open-pit mine incongruously known as Pebble near the headwaters of the most productive salmon watershed in the state, Bristol Bay. The current mine design calls for building the world’s largest earthen dam to hold back an enormous lake of toxic waste — this in a known earthquake zone. Crazy stuff, yet Palin openly opposed the initiative, in lock step with international mining corporations that invested millions of dollars in a misinformation campaign.
But Palin’s certified anti-environmental whopper is her lawsuit against the Bush administration (of all outfits) for listing polar bears as threatened under the Endangered Species Act. She claimed Alaska’s own experts had completed a review of the federal data and concluded that the listing was uncalled for. The truth was, state biologists had come to the opposite conclusion. But that report was never released, and her researchers had a gag clamped on them. Palin simply didn’t want anything to get in the way of offshore oil drilling in moving pack ice — where there is no way to contain, let alone clean up, catastrophic spills.
Every morning she’s at home here, Sarah Palin wakes up to a postcard view from her lakeside home. Out the windows of her two-story wood-framed house stretch the serene, birch-lined waters of Lake Lucille. Ducks go gliding by the red-and-white Piper Cub floatplane docked outside. With the snow-frosted Chugach and Talkeetna mountains looming in the distance, the scene seems to define the Alaska that Palin celebrates: rugged, majestic, unspoiled.
And, yet, the lake Sarah Palin lives on is dead.
“Lake Lucille is basically a dead lake — it can’t support a fish population,” said Michelle Church, a Mat-Su Valley borough assembly member and environmentalist. “It’s a runway for floatplanes.”
Palin recently told the New Yorker magazine that Alaskans “have such a love, a respect for our environment, for our lands, for our wildlife, for our clean water and our clean air. We know what we’ve got up here and we want to protect that, so we’re gonna make sure that our developments up here do not adversely affect that environment at all. I don’t want development if there’s going to be that threat to harming our environment.”
But as mayor of her hometown, say many local critics, Palin showed no such stewardship.
So why does McCain taking Ambien matter? Lots of people take sleeping medication. It's prescribed by a doctor, so it must be okay.
Sure, but lots of people don't have to worry about being drugged up on Ambien and getting a call at 3AM that affects the lives of 300+ million people.
More disturbingly, in a crisis, how is the White House staff supposed to know if the President is truly aware of what's going on or not? Whether he's under an Ambien haze or truly himself? I've had a couple of experiences with people in exactly this situation, under the influence of sleeping pills, and the reality is you can't tell that they're under the influence. I've had a face-to-face conversation with someone who had taken Ambien and not fallen asleep - the next day they didn't remember any of the hour long discussion. The scary part? I had no idea that I was speaking to someone who wasn't fully conscious. To me, it was like having a regular conversation and I had no idea the person across from me was completely out of it. The prospect of a President "sleep-driving" the country on Ambien is terrifying.
"This just doesn't happen here."
Amid the drumbeat of female Amazonian competence occasioned by the Palin nomination ran one deeply discordant assumption, the assumption that women are strong and smart and sure and yet neither sentient nor moral enough to decide what to do if they are pregnant under difficult circumstances.
Newly released grand jury transcripts add strong evidence to the argument that the conviction and execution of Ethel Rosenberg in the Cold War's biggest espionage case were based on perjured testimony.
In recent years, one of the two key witnesses against Rosenberg recanted his testimony. It now appears that the other witness made up her testimony. too. The witnesses were Ethel's brother and sister-in-law, David and Ruth Greenglass.
Thanks to the work of a team of lawyers and historians, the government released the grand jury testimony that formed the basis for the charges against Julius and Ethel Rosenberg.
I can verify that John has an infamous reputation for being a hot head. He has a quick and explosive temper that many have experienced first hand. Folks, quite honestly that is not the finger I want next to that red button.
It is also disappointing to see him take on and support Bush's war in Iraq, even stating we might be there for another 100 years. For me John represents the entrenched and bankrupt policies of Washington-as-usual. The past 7 years have proven to be disastrous for our country. And I believe John's views on war, foreign policy, economics, environment, health care, education, national infrastructure and other important areas are much the same as those of the Bush administration.
I'm disappointed to see John represent himself politically in ways that are not accurate. He is not a moderate Republican.
Well, it was nice being number one for a while until the Republicans took over and now we've been turned into yet another cheap vacation spot where foreigners come to take advantage of the insanely weak local currency. The era of the American Peso has arrived, and you can thank George Bush, John McCain and all the Republicans for guaranteeing America's second place status in the world for the 21st century. This is an issue that Obama should be talking about. How John McCain and the Republicans have failed to invest in our future, how the world keeps advancing ahead while America keeps falling behind.
[B]ad writing handicaps DOD and the services in their communication with important external audiences like Congress, other federal agencies, and the general public. Jargon is especially problematic. Overly formal, technical language alienates the audience whose support the Defense Department seeks.
"At present, there are more melting glaciers and therefore there is a relative increase in flows in rivers and streams", Nelson Santillan, a researcher at the INRENA glaciology unit, told SciDev.Net.
Santillan says that, while this currently does not have any significant negative effects, people must be warned about the correlation of this with the increased glacier melting and the future halt in water flow. INRENA estimates this could be as soon as 2020.
“You all do and undo,” he said. “So you can do whatever you want with me.” To him we were part of the system keeping him from being deported back to his country, where his children, wife, mother, and sister depended on him. He was their sole support and did not know how they were going to make it with him in jail for 5 months. None of the “options” really mattered to him. Caught between despair and hopelessness, he just wept. He had failed his family, and was devastated. I went for some napkins, but he refused them. I offered him a cup of soda, which he superstitiously declined, saying it could be “poisoned.” His Native American spirit was broken and he could no longer think. He stared for a while at the signature page pretending to read it, although I knew he was actually praying for guidance and protection. Before he signed with a scribble, he said: “God knows you are just doing your job to support your families, and that job is to keep me from supporting mine.”
There was my conflict of interest, well put by a weeping, illiterate man.
(H/T The Agitator)
A CIA analyst warned the Bush administration in 2002 that up to a third of the detainees at Guantanamo Bay may have been imprisoned by mistake, but White House officials ignored the finding and insisted that all were “enemy combatants” subject to indefinite incarceration, according to a new book critical of the administration’s terrorism policies.
The CIA assessment directly challenged the administration’s claim that the detainees were all hardened terrorists — the “worst of the worst,” as then-Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld said at the time. But a top aide to Vice President Cheney shrugged off the report and squashed proposals for a quick review of the detainees’ cases, author Jane Mayer writes in “The Dark Side,” scheduled for release next week.
“There will be no review,” the book quotes Cheney staff director David Addington as saying. “The president has determined that they are ALL enemy combatants. We are not going to revisit it.”
Records and interviews show how the Bush administration has used its control over access and information in an effort to transform the [military] analysts into a kind of media Trojan horse — an instrument intended to shape terrorism coverage from inside the major TV and radio networks.
Analysts have been wooed in hundreds of private briefings with senior military leaders, including officials with significant influence over contracting and budget matters, records show. They have been taken on tours of Iraq and given access to classified intelligence. They have been briefed by officials from the White House, State Department and Justice Department, including Mr. Cheney, Alberto R. Gonzales and Stephen J. Hadley.
In turn, members of this group have echoed administration talking points, sometimes even when they suspected the information was false or inflated. Some analysts acknowledge they suppressed doubts because they feared jeopardizing their access.
A few expressed regret for participating in what they regarded as an effort to dupe the American public with propaganda dressed as independent military analysis.
“It was them saying, ‘We need to stick our hands up your back and move your mouth for you,’ ” Robert S. Bevelacqua, a retired Green Beret and former Fox News analyst, said.
America came out of the Great Depression with a pretty effective financial safety net, based on a fundamental quid pro quo: the government stood ready to rescue banks if they got in trouble, but only on the condition that those banks accept regulation of the risks they were allowed to take.
Over time, however, many of the roles traditionally filled by regulated banks were taken over by unregulated institutions — the “shadow banking system,” which relied on complex financial arrangements to bypass those safety regulations.
Now, the shadow banking system is facing the 21st-century equivalent of the wave of bank runs that swept America in the early 1930s. And the government is rushing in to help, with hundreds of billions from the Federal Reserve, and hundreds of billions more from government-sponsored institutions like Fannie Mae, Freddie Mac and the Federal Home Loan Banks.
Given the risks to the economy if the financial system melts down, this rescue mission is justified. But you don’t have to be an economic radical, or even a vocal reformer like Representative Barney Frank, the chairman of the House Financial Services Committee, to see that what’s happening now is the quid without the quo.
Last week Robert Rubin, the former Treasury secretary, declared that Mr. Frank is right about the need for expanded regulation. Mr. Rubin put it clearly: If Wall Street companies can count on being rescued like banks, then they need to be regulated like banks.
"In this case things are happening more rapidly than we thought. We didn't really understand how sensitive these ice shelves are to climate change," said Dr Vaughan, who predicted in the 1990s that it would take 30 years for the ice shelf to break up.
Ice shelves form along the coasts and, because the ice is already floating on water, their disintegration does not affect sea levels. However, scientists believe that their rapid disappearance could lead to the faster movement into the ocean of the massive, land-based ice sheets and glaciers – which do raise sea levels.
The Wilkins ice shelf covers an area of about 5,282 square miles and satellite images taken at the end of February revealed that the rapid disintegration began after an iceberg the size of the Isle of Man broke away from its western edge.
A powerful gamma ray burst detected March 19th by NASA's Swift satellite has shattered the record for the most distant object that could be seen with the naked eye.
Jon Stewart and Senior White House Correspondent John Oliver discuss Bush’s recent trip to Africa.
STEWART: It’s hard for you to accept that the President has done something admirable?
OLIVER: Well, it’s just [stammers] What’s his angle? He’s not running for reelection. There’s no ulterior military objective. He’s got no chance of becoming King of Africa. What the HELL is going on?
STEWART: Maybe he’s just trying to do something good in a difficult part of the world.
OLIVER: No! No! That makes it worse! Over the past seven excruciating years I’ve come to terms with the President being incompetent. The fact that we now know that he’s capable of doing good all along and has simply chosen not to, that really burns!
"I would have no problems with describing this practice as falling under the prohibition of torture," the U.N. High Commissioner for Human Rights, Louise Arbour, told a news conference in Mexico City.
Arbour made her comment in response to a question about whether U.S. officials could be tried for the use of waterboarding that referred to CIA director Michael Hayden telling Congress on Tuesday his agency had used waterboarding on three detainees captured after the September 11 attacks.
Violators of the U.N. Convention against Torture should be prosecuted under the principle of 'universal jurisdiction' which allows countries to try accused war criminals from other nations, Arbour said.
But in all this trying, all this thinking and learning and analyzing, I never understood something the way I had that night. I looked at these women of the band, these forceful, beautiful, human beings, and I cried. I cried, because seeing them shocked me. The scale of thousands of years of the oppression of women flashed before my eyes, like I was dying.
I thought of the billions of women who have lived and are living. I thought of women raped and forced into slavery, sold for money, held in subjugation. I thought of the sheer numbers of women, which is to say, nearly all of them, who were told explicitly or implicitly that they couldn't do something they wanted to do, because of their sex. Told that they were less smart, less capable, less strong, less worthy, less important than their brothers. Women who didn't go to school because resources were limited and funds were saved for their brothers' education. Women who dropped out of school to care for their siblings. Women who were beaten by their husbands or fathers, women fired for being too sexy or not sexy enough. Women ignored or silenced, women whose writings disappeared because they never existed or never mattered. Women who died trying to terminate a pregnancy. Women, all of them, who feel that they are not worth loving because they do not conform to impossible ideals of beauty, women who hate their bodies, women who starve themselves to death, women who refuse to live their lives the way they want for fear of being scorned because they are not acceptable. Women insulted, abused, downtrodden, scared. Women, all of them, limited by the forces outside them that keep them small and quiet.
If there is anything I can do with my life and my career, to lift women out of poverty and shame, to help them live as full human beings, to take away the shackles of oppression and free them, to exercise their power to live complete, unafraid, glorious lives, I will do it.
A study by two nonprofit journalism organizations found that President Bush and top Administration officials issued hundreds of false statements about the national security threat from Iraq in the two years following the 2001 terrorist attacks.
The study counted 935 false statements in the two-year period. It found that in speeches, briefings, interviews and other venues, Bush and Administration officials stated unequivocally on at least 532 occasions that Iraq had weapons of mass destruction or was trying to produce or obtain them or had links to al-Qaeda or both. "It is now beyond dispute that Iraq did not possess any weapons of mass destruction or have meaningful ties to al-Qaeda," according to Charles Lewis and Mark Reading-Smith of the Fund for Independence in Journalism staff members, writing an overview of the study. "In short, the Bush administration led the nation to war on the basis of erroneous information that it methodically propagated and that culminated in military action against Iraq on March 19, 2003."
The center said the study was based on a database created with public statements over the two years beginning on Sept. 11, 2001, and information from more than 25 government reports, books, articles, speeches and interviews. "The cumulative effect of these false statements — amplified by thousands of news stories and broadcasts — was massive, with the media coverage creating an almost impenetrable din for several critical months in the run-up to war," the study concluded.