Fwd: Fax

'Perhaps it is through this juxtaposition of ancient and modern that Japan and Israel, two of the most advanced high-tech producers in the world, share an anachronistic idiosyncrasy: the fax machine.

In most places, the fax machine has been consigned to the relic status of mimeographs machines and floppy disks, but both Israel and Japan continue to use that cutting edge 1980s technology well into the 21st century.

Yet in the two countries, the reasons for continued use of a device The New York Times described a decade ago as "technology that refuses to die" are starkly different…'



Fwd: Russia

'It is absurd to expect that Russia will stop putting pressure on its neighbours in the hope of "resuming a formal dialogue with the EU" (a dialogue in which Russia was already becoming less and less interested before the current stand-off). For Russia, pressurising neighbours is almost inevitable, because it stems from its chosen identity: Russia wants to think of itself as a great power, and its definition of great power includes having "a sphere of influence" around its borders. Great power status and the ability to control vast areas also legitimise the oppressive nature of the regime at home. Moreover, it would be wrong to think of great power rhetoric merely as a propaganda tool of the Kremlin. No – the idea of other countries being afraid of Russia enjoys true popularity among large parts of the population, who are happy to sacrifice certain freedoms for the sake of this national status.


Fwd: deficit

'America's partisan divisions are so familiar it sometimes seems the fight never changes. But on the federal budget, the battlefield has been transformed.

Four years ago, when budget deficits topped $1 trillion, congressional Republicans turned their midterm election triumph into a spending-cut crusade. After forcing an initial springtime deal with Democrats, House Speaker John Boehner negotiated with President Obama on a "grand bargain" resembling recommendations from a bipartisan deficit reduction commission.

Those talks failed, leading to the first credit rating downgrade for the United States. Yet now, after another Republican sweep, the sense of budgetary crisis has vanished.

Luck, design and political bungling all helped make that happen. Whatever the cause, the effect is renewed bipartisan pressure for spending increases — on defense, education, infrastructure and benefits for America's beleaguered middle class...
To look at the government's bottom line now, you'd think the plan he recommended with Mr. Simpson had been enacted. Total spending for 2014 came in about $300 billion less than their plan called for.
The actual 2014 deficit, $483 billion, was slightly larger than the $455 billion Simpson-Bowles would have been expected to produce. That's because Congress didn't raise taxes nearly as much as the commission called for. Had lawmakers done so, Washington would have ended the year only $117 billion in the red — less than 1 percent of the economy...

The "fiscal cliff" tax-rate deal to increase rates on family incomes above $450,000 also played a role. So did the sequester cuts in defense and domestic spending.

Some leading Republicans consider those cuts unwise because they crimp investments in future economic growth. That's been clear since the House two years ago couldn't pass a housing and transportation bill because it spent too little — at which point Hal Rogers, appropriations committee chairman, called for abolishing the sequester. Though Congress didn't do that, Republicans and Democrats did agree to ease those cuts for 2014 and 2015.


Fwd: Ukraine

'US Secretary of State John Kerry has accused pro-Russian separatists in east Ukraine of a "blatant land grab".

He was speaking after reports that the rebels had extended the area they control, violating a ceasefire plan.

Ukraine says Russia has more than 9,000 soldiers fighting alongside the rebels, a claim it denies.

Meanwhile, foreign ministers from Ukraine, Russia, France and Germany issued a joint call to end the fighting, following talks in Berlin.

Speaking after the meeting, German Foreign Minister Frank-Walter Steinmeier said it was not a breakthrough "but I think we saw tangible progress".

He also said they had agreed on a procedure for pulling back heavy weapons 15km (nine miles) from a demarcation line defined in last year's Minsk agreement.

Mr Kerry said the recent upsurge in fighting was "an alarming situation" adding that the US was "particularly concerned" by rebel moves to "attempt to gain control of a very significant rail juncture" in eastern Ukraine.

He said there had been a large extension of the line of control that separates rebel-held territory from the rest of Ukraine.

"This is a blatant land grab and is in direct contravention to the Minsk [ceasefire] agreements which they signed up to," he added.

The US ambassador to the UN, Samantha Power, accused Russia of escalating the violence.'


Taliban Kills 3 Americans


Test Determines Which Patients Will Die In Next 30 Days


Fwd: Egypt

'Militants struck more than a dozen army and police targets in the restive Sinai Peninsula with simultaneous attacks involving a car bomb and mortar rounds on Thursday, killing at least 25 people, including civilians, officials said.

Meanwhile, an army major was shot dead at a checkpoint in Rafah near the Gaza Strip, medical and security sources said'




'The Islamic State wants an Iraqi woman released from prison in exchange for a Jordanian pilot and a Japanese journalist.

Sajida al-Rishawi, 44, was placed on death row in Jordan for her role in terrorist attacks on three hotels that killed 57 others and injured 90 on Nov. 9, 2005.

Al-Rishawi, from Ramadi in central Iraq, strapped an explosive device to her body and entered the Radisson SAS Hotel in Jordan's capital city of Amman.

"My husband and I went inside the hotel. He went to one corner and I went to another," she said in a confession on state-run Jordan TV. "There was a wedding at the hotel, with children, women and men inside. My husband detonated (his bomb). I tried to explode (my belt), but it wouldn't."

The failed suicide bomber survived because she forgot a vital part of the explosive belt in the car. She blended in with the panicked guests fleeing the scene but was captured later at a safe house.'


Obama drops proposal to cut tax benefits of 529 college savings plans

Drunken spy satellite agency employee crashed drone on White House lawn

Jordan Ready to Swap Inmate for Pilot Held by Islamic State

Fwd: Russia/Germany

Putin also understands the fragility of the EU's accomplishments beyond western Europe. EU bureaucrats and German diplomats don't think culture matters as they build a multicultural and cosmopolitan New Europe from Dublin to Dubrovnik and from Sweden to Sicily. Putin thinks they are wrong, and when he looks at current conditions in Greece, Cyprus, Bulgaria, Romania, Italy and Spain he sees the full confirmation of his theory. Europe, he believes, is not a country–and even if it were, it is not a German country.

Germany, he believes, is trying to build a Europe in defiance of the facts–and Germany lacks both the resources and the will to push this project indefinitely as its difficulties grow. Germany will not, Putin may well believe, find a way to turn the euro disaster around. The south will continue to fester and stew under an increasingly hateful and damaging system. Germany will also not be able to turn the Balkans into an orderly and quiet garden of Nordic and Teutonic virtues.

The key to Putin's thinking is that he is betting less on Russian strength than on German and therefore Western weakness. In opposing the consolidation of a German Europe, he is betting on German failure more than he is betting on Russian success. The goal of Russian policy in Ukraine, for example, is not to create a new Ukraine in Russia's image. It is not to conquer Ukraine–but to demonstrate that the East is indigestible. Germany cannot save Ukraine


Fwd: Greece

'The new government in Athens is sending some worrying signals, and they're not all about money. Events this past week beg the question: Has Vladimir Putin made a new friend in a NATO and EU member state? Is Alexis Tsipras, freshly minted as Greece's prime minister, cozying up to Moscow to create leverage in his battle for debt relief?

Though the Syriza-Independent Greeks coalition is new and untested, there are already signs the answer may be yes. One clear indication was when Tsipras chose to meet Russia's ambassador to Greece - it was the prime minister's very first meeting with a foreign envoy. The ambassador personally delivered Russian President Vladimir Putin's congratulatory message to Tsipras on Monday, mere hours after the prime minister was sworn in.

The second sign came the following day, when Tsipras abruptly announced that Greece would not support new EU sanctions against Russia. New sanctions are on the table because Russia and its proxies in Eastern Ukraine have renewed their offensive in the Donbas. 



Fwd: Russia

Fwd: Oil

'The Obama administration pitched a plan Tuesday to open up parts of the Atlantic Ocean to drilling for the first time, even as it moved to lock down parts of Alaska indefinitely. 

The approach has President Obama taking criticism from both sides of the aisle, and both sides of the country. 

Alaska Republican lawmakers are furious at the administration's multi-pronged push to restrict drilling in their vast state. Over the weekend, the administration announced it would pursue a wilderness designation for 12.28 million acres, barring drilling in most of the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge. 

The plan unveiled Tuesday also would put off limits huge swaths of Alaska's Beaufort and Chukchi seas. 

"This administration is determined to shut down oil and gas production in Alaska's federal areas," Sen. Lisa Murkowski, R-Alaska, said in a statement on Tuesday. 


Fwd: SKA

'IBM has revealed more about a PowerPC microserver it says will help to crunch data gathered by the square kilometre array (SKA), the colossal radio telescope to be built across South Africa and Australia.

Once operational, the SKA is expected to generate around an exabyte – a million terabytes - of data each day. Even sorting the junk is going to need plenty of computing power, but operations at that scale need to be frugal lest electricity costs alone make the SKA horribly expensive to operate.'


Fwd: Warthog

'With a roaring engine, 30-mm. cannon and nose painted like a toothsome, snarling beast, the A-10 Thunderbolt sends ISIS fighters scattering like cockroaches on the Iraqi desert plains, but the legendary fighter plane pilots call the "Warthog" may be fighting for its own life…

"The aircraft sparked panic in the ranks of ISIS after bombing its elements and flying in spaces close to the ground," Iraqi News reported last week after a sortie took out several terrorists in ISIS-controlled territory near Mosul. "Elements of the terrorist organization targeted the aircraft with 4 Strela missiles, but that did not cause it any damage, prompting the remaining elements of the organization to leave the bodies of their dead and carry the wounded to escape …"

"The aircraft sparked panic in the ranks of ISIS after bombing its elements and flying in spaces close to the ground."

The plane is not as fast and lacks the graceful lines of other fighter jets. But the Warthog, as pilots call it due to the snout-like nose, is extremely low maintenance, flies low, can practically hover over a battlefield, land almost anywhere and packs a 20-foot-long, 2.5-ton, seven-barrel Gatling gun that can fire more than 1,100 rounds of 30-mm. bullets. And a titanium shell that wraps around the bottom of its cockpit makes it difficult to shoot down.

In Iraq, the A-10 has flown 11 percent of the sorties against ISIS, Air Force Secretary Deborah Lee James said on Jan. 15. But that figure is deceptive, because the A-10 was not deployed until mid-November, some three months after strikes against ISIS began…

The Air Force has been itching to junk the plane for years, with some speculating that top brass believes the A-10 bucks the embraced strategy of high-altitude strategic bombing.  The Pentagon believes it can save $4.2 billion in operation and maintenance costs over five years by retiring all 283 of the Air Force's A-10s, the last of which rolled off Fairchild Republic's assembly line in 1984…


Fwd: five big fish

'Last night, retired Lt. Col. Tony Schaffer told Bill O'Reilly that the Army has charged Bergdahl with desertion, but that the White House — and specifically Ben Rhodes, the national-security adviser/speechwriter to Barack Obama — has pressured the Pentagon to delay the release of that news (via Jeff Dunetz):

Shaffer's key point is that the charges will embarrass the White House all over again for coughing up five big fish for one deserter:'



Fwd: Microsoft VR

'Unlike other head-mounted computing systems in the works, Microsoft's new glasses-based virtual reality device, HoloLens, doesn't need to be connected to a phone or computer. "We've unlocked the screen," one developer said during the presentation at its Windows 10 event this afternoon.

Similar to existing Kinect technology on the Xbox, HoloLens allows wearers to interact with computer programs and games in three dimensions, using their hands and speaking commands.

During the presentation, a developer walked onstage wearing HoloLens, and used her finger and a 3D-modeling program called Holo Studio to build a quadcopter drone before the audience, which could then be sent to a 3D printer.

Microsoft also showed a video of a NASA scientist sitting at a computer wearing HoloLens glasses, then stepping away from the desk into an immersive hologram of the surface of Mars. It's not yet Star Trek's Holodeck (video), but it's not so far off.'




Fwd: Yemen

'Saudi Arabia is increasingly taking a security-first approach to neighbouring Yemen, where Houthi rebels have all but seized power, wanting nothing better than to finish a new border fence and then slam shut the gates.

Riyadh convened a meeting of Gulf countries on Wednesday to threaten unspecified measures to "protect their interests" in Yemen where the Shi'ite Muslim rebels, allies of its enemy Iran, are holding the president a virtual prisoner.


Fwd: Argentina

'They came with the cruelest of intentions. On the morning of July 18, 1994, terrorists parked a van packed with more than 600 pounds of explosives in front of a Jewish community center in central Buenos Aires, Argentina. When the van detonated, the community center collapsed. Eighty-five innocent civilians perished, and hundreds more were injured. The appalling attack came two years after another hideous bombing in Buenos Aires, when the Israeli embassy was blown up by a suicide bomber. That attack killed 29 people, including many children.

It was suspected at the time that Iran and its subsidiary terrorist organization Hezbollah were behind the carnage. Time bore that out






Fwd: Secret Service says “quad copter” drone crashed on White House complex | WTTV CBS4Indy

​... Probably some young person horsing around, not realizing that you can't fool around near the White House.​


'U.S. deficit to 'hold steady' until 2018

Solid economic growth over the next few years should help keep the federal deficit at a very modest level until 2018. But after that, the nation's deficit will start growing again.'


Fwd: longer telomeres

'A new procedure can quickly and efficiently increase the length of human telomeres, the protective caps on the ends of chromosomes that are linked to aging and disease, according to scientists at the Stanford University School of Medicine.

Treated cells behave as if they are much younger than untreated cells, multiplying with abandon in the laboratory dish rather than stagnating or dying.

The procedure, which involves the use of a modified type of RNA, will improve the ability of researchers to generate large numbers of cells for study or drug development, the scientists say. Skin cells with telomeres lengthened by the procedure were able to divide up to 40 more times than untreated cells. The research may point to new ways to treat diseases caused by shortened telomeres.

Telomeres are the protective caps on the ends of the strands of DNA called chromosomes, which house our genomes. In young humans, telomeres are about 8,000-10,000 nucleotides long. They shorten with each cell division, however, and when they reach a critical length the cell stops dividing or dies. This internal "clock" makes it difficult to keep most cells growing in a laboratory for more than a few cell doublings.

'Turning back the internal clock'

"Now we have found a way to lengthen human telomeres by as much as 1,000 nucleotides, turning back the internal clock in these cells by the equivalent of many years of human life," said Helen Blau, PhD, professor of microbiology and immunology at Stanford and director of the university's Baxter Laboratory for Stem Cell Biology. 



Fwd: Measles

'Measles could once again become native in the U.S., disease experts worry, as an outbreak in California linked to Disneyland has put a spotlight on a growing failure to vaccinate that's helping the disease to spread.

While 94 percent of California kindergarteners were fully inoculated against the virus last school year, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, there are clusters where vaccination is much lower. In some pockets of California, as much as a quarter of children are undervaccinated -- putting them at risk of both contracting the disease and becoming a nexus of future spread.

"Children die as a result of this disease," said Greg Poland, professor of medicine and infectious diseases at the Mayo Clinic in Rochester, Minnesota, and director of the Mayo Vaccine Research Group. "In 1990, 3 of every 1,000 children who got measles died from it. That wasn't the dark ages. We don't have an effective treatment for measles. The only thing we have is prevention."


Fwd: Oil well

'OPEC has had its foot on the throat of the oil market for months, but the chief of the cartel thinks a rebound might now be at hand, according to news reports.

"Now the prices are around $45-$55, and I think maybe they reached the bottom and will see some rebound very soon," OPEC Secretary-General Abdulla al-Badri said on Monday, according to Reuters.

If that wasn't enough to put oil bears on the back foot, at least temporarily, Badri also said it would be possible to see crude climb to $200 a barrel or higher "if you don't invest in oil and gas," Bloomberg reported.

That is an interesting scenario, since shale production is seen as relatively resilient, with firms able to ramp production up in relatively short order as prices rise.

It also stands in contrast to remarks by Prince al-Waleed bin Talal, the billionaire Saudi businessman, who earlier this month predicted oil would never again trade north of $100 a barrel'





Fwd: Yemen

'Thousands of protesters demonstrated Friday across Yemen, some supporting the Shiite rebels who seized the capital and others demanding the country's south secede after the nation's president and Cabinet resigned…

In Sanaa, which Houthis seized during their offensive in September, thousands of supporters converged on the capital's airport road. They raised green flags and banners proclaiming their slogan — "Death to America, death to Israel, a curse on the Jews and victory to Islam"'


Fwd: Autism

'Among the problems people with Autism spectrum disorders (ASD) struggle with are difficulties with social behavior and communication. That can translate to an inability to make friends, engage in routine conversations, or pick up on the social cues that are second nature to most people. Similarly, in a mouse model of ASD, the animals, like humans, show little interest in interacting or socializing with other mice.

Now researchers at UCLA have treated ASD mice with a neuropeptide--molecules used by neurons to communicate with each other--called oxytocin, and have found that it restores normal social behavior. In addition, the findings suggest that giving oxytocin as early as possible in the animal's life leads to more lasting effects in adults and adolescents. This suggests there may be critical times for treatment that are better than others.

The study appears in the January 21 online edition of the journal Science Translational Medicine.'



Fwd: Iran

'Russian Defence Minister Sergei Shoigu signed a military cooperation deal with Iran on Tuesday that his Iranian counterpart touted as a joint response to US "interference."

Shoigu is the most senior Russian military official to visit Tehran since 2002, according to Iranian media, and the agreement comes with both countries facing Western sanctions.

The deal provides for joint exercises and military training, as well as "cooperation in peacekeeping, maintaining regional and international security and stability, and fighting against separatism and extremism," the Iranian defense ministry website said.

Defence Minister Hossein Dehqan told state television that Iran and Russia had a "shared analysis of US global strategy, its interference in regional and international affairs and the need to cooperate in the struggle against the interference of foreign forces in the region."

Russia has long been Iran's principal foreign arms supplier but their ties took a major hit in 2010 when Moscow cancelled a contract to deliver advanced

​ ​
S-300 ground to air missiles, citing UN sanctions imposed over Tehran's nuclear program.


go no-go

'On the one hand, West European states can intervene anywhere and at any time in their sovereign territory. As the shoot-out in Verviers and the subsequent raids elsewhere in Belgium suggest, their overwhelming advantage in force — including military, intelligence, and police — means they have not ceded control.

On the other hand, governments often choose not to impose their will on Muslim-majority areas, allowing them considerable autonomy, including in some cases the sharia courts that Emerson mentioned. Alcohol and pork are effectively banned in these districts, polygamy and burqas are commonplace, police enter only warily and in force, and Muslims get away with offenses illegal for the rest of population.

The Rotherham, England, child sex scandal offers a powerful example. An official inquiry found that for 16 years, 1997–2013, a ring of Muslim men sexually exploited — through abduction, rape, gang rape, trafficking, prostitution, torture — at least 1,400 non-Muslim girls as young as 11. The police received voluminous complaints from the girls' parents but did nothing; they could have acted but chose not to.




Fwd: Israel

'According to Tel Aviv police commander Bentzi Sau, a Palestinian man from the West Bank boarded the crowded bus in Tel Aviv and almost immediately stabbed the driver, then other passengers…


On Twitter, police spokesperson Micky Rosenfeld identified the suspect as a 23-year-old from the West Bank city of Tul Karem. Local media reported that a gag order barred additional information on the man, who they said did not have a permit to enter Israel….

Authorities said the assailant fled the bus on foot when the injured driver succeeded in opening the vehicle's back doors to let passengers escape. According to eyewitnesses, bus driver Herzel Biton fought the attacker and tried to block his way to the other passengers. He was taken to a hospital and was reportedly listed in serious condition.

Witnessing the commotion from a vehicle behind the bus were armed personnel from a special security unit of the Israel Prison Service, who were escorting prisoners to a nearby court. Authorities said they stopped and chased the suspect, who was shot and injured'



Fwd: Russia

'It is absurd to expect that Russia will stop putting pressure on its neighbours in the hope of "resuming a formal dialogue with the EU" (a dialogue in which Russia was already becoming less and less interested before the current stand-off). For Russia, pressurising neighbours is almost inevitable, because it stems from its chosen identity: Russia wants to think of itself as a great power, and its definition of great power includes having "a sphere of influence" around its borders. Great power status and the ability to control vast areas also legitimise the oppressive nature of the regime at home. Moreover, it would be wrong to think of great power rhetoric merely as a propaganda tool of the Kremlin. No – the idea of other countries being afraid of Russia enjoys true popularity among large parts of the population, who are happy to sacrifice certain freedoms for the sake of this national status.




Re: FBR and Starships

'A strange phenomenon has been observed by astronomers right as it was happening -- a 'fast radio burst'. The eruption is described as an extremely short, sharp flash of radio waves from an unknown source in the universe. The results have been published in the Monthly Notices of the Royal Astronomical Society. Over the past few years, astronomers have observed a new phenomenon, a brief burst of radio waves, lasting only a few milliseconds. It was first seen by chance in 2007, when astronomers went through archival data from the Parkes Radio Telescope in Eastern Australia. Since then we have seen six more such bursts in the Parkes telescope's data and a seventh burst was found in the data from the Arecibo telescope in Puerto Rico. They were almost all discovered long after they had occurred, but then astronomers began to look specifically for them right as they happen.

Radio-, X-ray- and visible light

A team of astronomers in Australia developed a technique to search for these 'Fast Radio Bursts', so they could look for the bursts in real time. The technique worked and now a group of astronomers, led by Emily Petroff (Swinburne University of Technology), have succeeded in observing the first 'live' burst with the Parkes telescope. The characteristics of the event indicated that the source of the burst was up to 5.5 billion light years from Earth.'


'Sid Meier Brings Us Farther into Space in Strategy Game Starships'





Fwd: France

'Francis said on his flight from Colombo, Sri Lanka, to Manila that everyone had not only the liberty, but also the obligation, "to say what he thinks to help the common good."

But he added that this should be done without giving offense, because human dignity should be respected.

If a friend "says a swear word against my mother, then a punch awaits him," Francis said.

"It's normal, it's normal," he said of such a response. "One cannot provoke, one cannot insult other people's faith, one cannot make fun of faith." '



Fwd: Subprime

Any serious effort to understand the crisis would have asked at this point why government agencies held so many subprime and other risky mortgages, and that inquiry would have turned up the affordable housing goals, adopted by Congress in 1992. These required Fannie and Freddie, when they bought mortgages from banks and other originators, to meet a quota: 30 percent of those mortgages had to be made to borrowers at or below the median income in the communities where they lived. Data from HUD, which administered the goals, would have shown the administration and Congress, had they been curious, that HUD had gradually increased the quota to 50 percent in 2000 and to 56 percent in 2008.

Fwd: China

'Through the wild swings of Chinese history since its Communist revolution in 1949, there has been one constant: Outsiders have rarely understood what was happening while it was happening.

During the Great Leap Forward, from 1958 to 1961, 30 million people or more starved to death in a Mao-created famine. The West had little clue.

During the Cultural Revolution, from 1966 to 1976, millions of people were tortured, internally exiled, unjustly imprisoned and otherwise abused in what Paul Hollander, in his invaluable book "Political Pilgrims," called "a destructive and bloody rampage." But at the time, most visitors to China had no understanding of what was taking place.

Today we believe once again that we know what the Chinese leadership is up to: fighting corruption, tightening political controls in order to promote economic reform, gradually strengthening the rule of law while bolstering national defenses so China can take its rightful place as one of the world's great powers.

Might we be wrong again? Could President Xi Jinping's anti-corruption crusade, for instance, be primarily a Stalinist purge of opposing factions in the Communist Party intended to strengthen his own hand?...

First, repression has increased markedly since Xi came to power two years ago.

Second, a prominent feature of the clampdown is a return to Maoist methods of intimidation, indoctrination and thought control...


Along with traditional methods, including imprisonment and torture, the regime has embraced public confessions, indoctrination and the kind of intense peer pressure that had fallen out of favor after the Cultural Revolution. "Peace managers" keep track of every household in some villages, and people suspected of wayward views have to file weekly "thought reports" and take part in "legal education" sessions, "often a euphemism for political indoctrination or forced conversion," Freedom House notes. Journalists face "a new ideological exam . . . based on a minimum 18-hour training course on topics like 'Marxist-news values,' with a 700-page manual…


Ironically, censorship — including about the Tiananmen Square crackdown in 1989 — has left many young people unaware of the party's record of brutality and so less afraid than they might be.'



'District head Baba Abba Hassan said most victims are children, women and elderly people who could not run fast enough when insurgents drove into Baga, firing rocket-propelled grenades and assault rifles on town residents.

"The human carnage perpetrated by Boko Haram terrorists in Baga was enormous," Muhammad Abba Gava, a spokesman for poorly armed civilians in a defence group that fights Boko Haram, told the Associated Press.

He said the civilian fighters gave up on trying to count all the bodies. "No one could attend to the corpses and even the seriously injured ones who may have died by now," Gava said.

An Amnesty International statement said there are reports the town was razed and as many as 2,000 people killed.

If true, "this marks a disturbing and bloody escalation of Boko Haram's ongoing onslaught," said Daniel Eyre, Nigeria researcher for Amnesty International.'



'This shocking footage shows the scene of devastation after a bomb strapped to a 10-year-old suicide girl was detonated in a marketplace.

The explosion, in the Nigerian city of Maiduguri on Saturday, killed at least 16 people and injured more than 20, security sources said...'



Fwd: Quantum optical hard drive

'scientists developing a prototype quantum hard drive have improved storage time by a factor of more than 100.

The team's record storage time of six hours is a major step towards a secure worldwide data encryption network based on quantum information, which could be used for banking transactions and personal emails.

"We believe it will soon be possible to distribute quantum information between any two points on the globe," said lead author Manjin Zhong, from the Research School of Physics and Engineering (RSPE) at The Australian National University (ANU).

"Quantum states are very fragile and normally collapse in milliseconds. Our long storage times have the potential to revolutionise the transmission of quantum information."

Quantum information promises unbreakable encryption because quantum particles such as photons of light can be created in a way that intrinsically links them. Interactions with either of these entangled particles affect the other, no matter how far they are separated.

The team of physicists at ANU and the University of Otago stored quantum information in atoms of the rare earth element europium embedded in a crystal.

Their solid-state technique is a promising alternative to using laser beams in optical fibres, an approach which is currently used to create quantum networks around 100 kilometres long.

"Our storage times are now so long that it means people need to rethink what is the best way to distribute quantum data," Ms Zhong said.

"Even transporting our crystals at pedestrian speeds we have less loss than laser systems for a given distance."

"We can now imagine storing entangled light in separate crystals and then transporting them to different parts of the network thousands of kilometres apart. So, we are thinking of our crystals as portable optical hard drives for quantum entanglement."

After writing a quantum state onto the nuclear spin of the europium using laser light, the team subjected the crystal to a combination of a fixed and oscillating magnetic fields to preserve the fragile quantum information.

"The two fields isolate the europium spins and prevent the quantum information leaking away," said Dr Jevon Longdell of the University of Otago.'


Fwd: France

'An unnamed American official told CNN the U.S. has received information from the French intelligence service that Said Kouachi traveled to Yemen in 2011, where he trained with Al-Qaida militants. According to the official, the training included firearm usage, and possibly bomb making as well.


'Anwar al-Awlaki was the first United States citizen to be killed in a United States drone strike. His son Abdulrahman al-Awlaki was the second. Anwar was known as an American and Yemeni imam and Islamic militant. US government officials said that he was a senior talent-recruiter and motivator who was involved in planning terrorist operations for the Islamist militant group al-Qaeda. With a blog, a Facebook page, the al-Qaeda magazine Inspire, and many YouTube videos, the Saudi news station Al Arabiya described him as the "bin Laden of the Internet."



Fwd: New York

'A Muslim cleric who preached at a London mosque attended by Sept. 11 plotter Zacarias Moussaoui and shoe-bomber Richard Reid was sentenced to life in prison for his role in a deadly hostage-taking and trying to start a terrorist training camp in Oregon.

Calling the crimes of Abu Hamza al-Masri, 56, "barbaric" and "immoral," U.S. District Judge Katherine Forrest in Manhattan today rejected his plea for a shorter term. She said the cleric needed to be "incapacitated."

"I don't believe that the world will be safe in 10 years or 15 years," the judge told Hamza. "I have every reason to believe that if you were free, you'd do it again."

Abu Hamza, whose forearms were amputated after an accident handling explosives, sought leniency because of his disability. He also has diabetes, high blood pressure and psoriasis.

The judge said the loss of his hands hadn't stopped him from inciting followers to carry out a deadly hostage taking in Yemen in 1998, providing captors with a satellite phone they used to communicate with him during the attack.

"You had those disabilities at the time you committed the crimes and it's important for the court to understand that you knew the risks," she said. "I do not think of a time when you would not inspire others to do the things that you yourself could not do."


Fwd: Alzheimers

'Researchers around the world keep looking for ways to limit the memory damage caused by Alzheimer's disease.  The latest treatment showing some promise is a nasal spray that uses a form of the insulin hormone.

For 21 days, a team of scientists at Wake Forest Baptist Medical Center monitored the effects of manufactured insulin on 60 adults with either mild cognitive impairment (MCI) or moderate Alzheimer's dementia (AD). One group was given 40 units of the nasal insulin detemir, another was given 20 units and a third group was given a placebo.

Of the three groups, short-term ability to process verbal and visual cues increased the most in those who were given 40 units of the spray. That same dosage of the spray was also able to increase memory scores for those carrying the gene that increases a person's risk for dementia the most. Carrying that particular gene usually makes the body resistant to most treatments.'


I already forgot what the article is about.  



Fwd: Turkey

'woman wearing a face veil carried out a suicide bombing near one of Istanbul's most famous tourist sites Tuesday, killing one police officer and wounding another.

The bombing took place in a police station near the famed Blue Mosque and Hagia Sofia museum in Istanbul's Sultanahmet tourist area, parts of which were cordoned off for an investigation, Turkish media reported.

The woman was attempting to enter the police station near Sultanahmet Square on the pretext of having left her wallet inside when guards stopped her at the entrance, Istanbul Gov. Vasif Sahin told reporters Tuesday. She spoke heavily accented English, Sahin said.

Two officers were hurt in the bombing, and one of them later died of his injuries, authorities said.

Authorities secured the blast area and halted public transportation into the neighborhood, the Hurriyet Daily News reported.'


Fwd: Longevity

'Bowhead whales are most likely the longest-living mammals on the planet. There's evidence (some of it in the form of Victorian-era harpoons embedded in blubber) that they can live as long as 200 years. And there are humans who'd like to get a little slice of that longevity for themselves.

This week, some of them took the first step to stealing the bowhead whale's secrets: They sequenced its genome. Their results were published Tuesday in Cell.

"I think that having the genome sequence of the bowhead whale will allow researchers to study basic molecular processes and identify maintenance mechanisms that help preserve life, avoid entropy and repair molecular damage," said corresponding author Joao Pedro de Magalhaes of the University of Liverpool.'



Fwd: Antibiotic

'The decades-long drought in antibiotic discovery could be over after a breakthrough by US scientists…

The last new class of antibiotics to make it to clinic was discovered nearly three decades ago.

The study, in the journal Nature, has been described as a "game-changer" and experts believe the antibiotic haul is just the "tip of the iceberg".

The heyday of antibiotic discovery was in the 1950s and 1960s, but nothing found since 1987 has made it into doctor's hands.

Since then microbes have become incredibly resistant. Extensively drug-resistant tuberculosis ignores nearly everything medicine can throw at it.

Back to soil

The researchers, at the Northeastern University in Boston, Massachusetts, turned to the source of nearly all antibiotics - soil.

This is teeming with microbes, but only 1% can be grown in the laboratory.

The team created a "subterranean hotel" for bacteria. One bacterium was placed in each "room" and the whole device was buried in soil.

It allowed the unique chemistry of soil to permeate the room, but kept the bacteria in place for study.



Fwd: Canada

'Anti-Islam protester has been jailed for one year after denouncing the Koran on a Toronto subway while holding an Israeli flag...

The 50-year-old, who has previously been sentenced to nine months in jail after handing out a flyer that "vilified Muslims and disparages their religion", claimed the outburst had been part of a social experiment and that he wanted to promote debate amongst commuters.

He was refused bail and has since been behind bars for more than seven months until judge Gerald Lapkin convicted Brazau of the three charges: breach of the peace (by interfering with Toronto Transit Commission service), causing a disturbance (by using insulting language) and breaching his probation on the earlier hate-mongering conviction.

Handing Brazau a 20 month sentence, minus eight months for the time he has spent in custody before his trial'


Fwd: Law

'Striking a blow for the freedom to eat the bloated livers of ducks and geese force-fed grain through tubes, a federal judge invalidated California's 2012 ban of foie gras.


So California cannot ban something Federal law allows….Colorado can allow something Federal law bans….and Arizona cannot pass a law identical to federal law to ban the same thing federal law does.


Fwd: France

'Submission, by celebrated French author Michel Houellebecq, was featured on the front cover of this week's Charlie Hebdo, the magazine attacked by terrorist gunmen on Wednesday…


Submission, Houellebecq's sixth novel, predicts that in 2022 France's mainstream Left and Right club together to back a certain Mohammed Ben Abbes in a second round presidential run-off against Miss Le Pen.

The new president then proceeds to Islamise the EU, with Turkey and various north African countries joining the bloc. The aim is to build a territory resembling the old Roman empire.

The protagonist, François, a 44-year-old literature professor, converts to Islam after a university director introduces him to the pleasures of polygamy with submissive wives.

The book, which has a print run of 150,000, has already shot to the top of Amazon.fr's bestseller list...

François Hollande, the French president, on Monday said he would read the book and that literary freedom must be respected. But he urged the French not to give into "fear" of "submersion, invasion, submission".

Houellebecq insisted that the novel was right to focus on the rise of religion. "More and more people can't stand living without God," he said.

After previously claiming Islam was the "the stupidest of all religions", the novelist declared: "The Koran turns out to be much better than I thought now that I've reread, or rather read it."

"Atheism and secularism are dead, so is the French republic," he told NouvelObs.

While the work is undoubtedly provocative, French critics were split over its literary merits with Le Monde's Raphaêlle Leyris claiming Submission was "his most mediocre to date" and Les Echos saying there are "better things to read".

Writer Emmanuel Carrère, however, insisted it was a "sublime book" by an author whose vision is "more powerful than Aldous Huxley or George Orwell".

"If there one person in the literary world, and not just the French one, who can think through this huge mutation we all feel is under way without having the means to analyse it, it is him," he said. '




Fwd: Greece

'Germany is not planning for a Greek exit from the euro zone and has not changed its policy towards Athens, Chancellor Angela Merkel's spokesman said on Wednesday, after the Bild newspaper said Berlin was working on contingency plans for such a move.

Mass-selling Bild said the government was running scenarios for Greece's Jan. 25 election, including a run on Greek banks, in case of a victory by the left-wing Syriza party, which wants to cancel austerity measures and a part of the country's debt…

Der Spiegel magazine reported on Saturday that Berlin considered a Greek exit almost unavoidable if Syriza wins, but believed the euro zone would be able to cope. Syriza is ahead of other parties in Greek opinion polls.

Bild said government experts were concerned about a possible bank collapse if customers storm Greek institutions to secure euro deposits if Athens leaves the single currency bloc.

The European Union banking union would then have to intervene with a bailout worth billions, it said.

The head of Germany's Ifo institute Hans-Werner Sinn told newspaper Handelsblatt it could cost German taxpayers up to 76 billion euros.'





Bob Lonsberry

​This is a good article by Lonsberry, who used to be a talk radio host in Salt Lake City.

Daily update January 1, 2015

How I Rung In The New Year
I spent last night in a cop car, in the front seat, running from call to call, next to a guy in the first half of a double shift. We were out at a 911 hang up, ...