With Final Intense Testimony, Prosecution Rests in Boston Marathon Bombing Trial

Fwd: Gate

'NSA police on the scene fired on the vehicle when it accelerated toward a police car, blocking its way, according to the NSA. One of the unauthorized vehicle's two occupants died on the scene. The other was hospitalized, as was an NSA police officer.

The two men who officials say tried to ram the main gate at NSA headquarters were dressed as women according to a federal law enforcement official.'


Angelina Jolie & Brad Pitt Support Shiloh's Wish To Be Called "John"

Fwd: Health

'An international team of more than 18 research groups has demonstrated that the compounds they developed can safely prevent harmful protein aggregation in preliminary tests using animals. The findings raise hope that a new class of drugs may be on the horizon for the more than 30 diseases and conditions that involve protein aggregation, including diabetes, cancer, spinal cord injury, Alzheimer's disease, Parkinson's disease and amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS).'


Fwd: Yemen

Fwd: now

'In Dallas, Prime Now is available between 8 a.m. and 10 p.m., seven days a week. One-hour delivery costs $7.99 per order, but a more flexible two-hour delivery is available for free for Amazon's Prime members.

Amazon stared the ultra-fast delivery service, which offers one-hour delivery on tens of thousands of daily essentials through a mobile app, in select areas of Manhattan in mid-December. Since then, the e-commerce giant has expanded the service to all of Manhattan and parts of Brooklyn.

Last week, Amazon announced the availability of Prime Now in parts of Baltimore and Miami.

Amazon has said it will continue rolling out Prime Now to additional cities in 2015.'


Fwd: Chechnya

'Chechnya's Parliament has threatened to send armaments to Mexico, in response to a US congressional resolution calling for "lethal aid" to be sent to Ukraine.

If the US were to supply "lethal military assistance" to Ukraine, the semi-autonomous region in southern Russia would send "the most modern weapons to Mexico" to prompt the resumption of negotiations on "US-annexed territories that now house […] California, New Mexico, Arizona, Nevada, Utah, Colorado and a part of Wyoming," reports the Moscow Times, citing a statement released by the speaker of the Chechen Parliament.

Mexico ceded the region to the United States in an 1848 treaty, ending the Mexican-American War.

In exchange, the United States paid Mexico $15m (£10m), as well as taking on $3.25m in debt the Mexican government owed US citizens.

In the 1853 Gadsden Purchase, the United States bought the remaining areas of what are now New Mexico and Arizona for $10m.'


Fwd: Shock wave deflector

'Tillotson's invention is a device that would heat the air in front of the spot where the bomb goes off. In one version, a detector "sees" an explosion before the shock wave hits. The detector is connected to an arc generator, basically two ends of a circuit connected to a large power source. When the system generates enough current, an arc of electricity jumps between the two ends of the circuit, like a bolt of lightning.

That arc heats and ionizes, or charges, particles of air. The heated air would work as a shield by changing the speed at which shock waves travel, and therefore bending them around a protected soldier, Tillotson said.'



Fwd: Russia

Recent statements by Russian ambassador Mikhail Vanin that Danish warships could become the target of Russian nukes, should the country participate in NATO's missile defense, have drawn a sharp reaction from NATO.

"Denmark is a staunch NATO ally and NATO will defend all allies against any threat," NATO spokesperson Oana Lungescu told BT. "We have made it clear that NATO's missile defense is not directed against Russia or other countries, but is intended as defense against missile threats."

Good thing that President Obama is -- eh, you can see the punchline coming a mile away. Obama's blowing off NATO's leadership at a really, really bad moment:

President Barack Obama has yet to meet with the new head of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization, and won't see Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg this week, even though he is in Washington for three days. Stoltenberg's office requested a meeting with Obama well in advance of the visit, but never heard anything from the White House, two sources close to the NATO chief told me.

The leaders of almost all the other 28 NATO member countries have made time for Stoltenberg since he took over the world's largest military alliance in October.

"It is hard for me to believe that the president of the United States has not found the time to meet with the current secretary general of NATO given the magnitude of what this implies, and the responsibilities of his office," said [Kurt Volker, who served as the U.S. permanent representative to NATO under both President George W. Bush and Obama].'


Fwd: Inflation

'The currency's strength affects the economy in two main ways: It holds back economic growth by reducing the competitiveness of U.S. exports while depressing inflation by pushing down import prices.

Economic Headwind

Not only is the dollar's rise reducing price pressures, making it harder for the Fed to tighten, it's also acting as an "economic headwind reducing the need to tighten," said Lou Crandall, chief economist at Wrightson ICAP LLC in Jersey City, New Jersey.

The FOMC made a nod to the dollar's impact on the economy in its policy statement, noting that export growth has weakened. Yellen was more explicit in her press conference, saying that exports would be a "notable drag" on growth this year and tying that to the strength of the dollar, which she said partly reflected the strength of the U.S. economy.

Yellen said the currency's rise was also "holding down import prices and, at least on a transitory basis at this point, pushing inflation down."

"The Fed sees the stronger dollar as effectively tightening conditions in the U.S.," said Jonathan Wright, a professor at Johns Hopkins University in Baltimore and a former economist at the Fed's Division of Monetary Affairs. "They are worried about what will happen to the dollar and financial markets when the Fed starts tightening with much of the rest of the world at negative interest rates." '





Fwd: Yemen

'Four suicide bombers hit a pair of crowded mosques in Yemen's capital of Sanaa on Friday, killing at least 137 people and injuring more than 300 others, officials told NBC News.

The ISIS affiliate in war-torn Yemen claimed responsibility for the attacks, according to Flashpoint Intelligence, a global security firm and NBC News consultant. It was the first large-scale attack claimed by the Sunni militants in Yemen, which has been in a state of chaos since Shiite Houthi rebels launched a violent power grab.

Dr. Alia Saria, head of emergency services at Yemen's Ministry of Public Health and Population, confirmed the death toll to NBC News and said "hundreds" were injured. Mohammed Albasha, Yemen's spokesperson in Washington, put the number of injured above 300. Albasha said the bombers struck Badr and al-Hashoosh mosques during Friday prayers — traditionally the busiest time of the week. Both mosques were hit by two bombers using similar tactics: one would detonate explosives inside the building while the second waited outside for people to flee before blowing himself up, Albasha explained. '

 Muslims attack muslisl in mosques during prayer,

then bombs rescue workers




McConnell Fires Up His Battle Against Obama's 'War on Coal'

Petraeus: The Islamic State isn’t our biggest problem in Iraq

Fwd: Self-Driving

'Elon Musk Says Self-Driving Tesla Cars Will Be in the U.S. by Summer

Tesla is not alone in pushing the envelope. Chris Urmson, director of self-driving cars at Google, raised eyebrows at a January event in Detroit when he said Google did not believe there was currently a "regulatory block" that would prohibit self-driving cars, provided the vehicles themselves met crash-test and other safety standards.'




Fwd: Inflection

'it's necessary to go back a decade to 2005, when the production-maximizing strategy was first adopted. At that time, Big Oil faced a critical juncture. On the one hand, many existing oil fields were being depleted at a torrid pace, leading experts to predict an imminent "peak" in global oil production, followed by an irreversible decline; on the other, rapid economic growth in China, India, and other developing nations was pushing demand for fossil fuels into the stratosphere..

A "Brave New World" of Tough Oil
No one better captured that moment than David O'Reilly, the chairman and CEO of Chevron. "Our industry is at a strategic inflection point, a unique place in our history," he told a gathering of oil executives that February. "The most visible element of this new equation," he explained in what some observers dubbed his "Brave New World" address, "is that relative to demand, oil is no longer in plentiful supply." Even though China was sucking up oil, coal, and natural gas supplies at a staggering rate, he had a message for that country and the world: "The era of easy access to energy is over."
To prosper in such an environment, O'Reilly explained, the oil industry would have to adopt a new strategy. It would have to look beyond the easy-to-reach sources that had powered it in the past and make massive investments in the extraction of what the industry calls "unconventional oil" and what I labeled at the time "tough oil": resources located far offshore, in the threatening environments of the far north, in politically dangerous places like Iraq, or in unyielding rock formations like shale. "Increasingly," O'Reilly insisted, "future supplies will have to be found in ultradeep water and other remote areas, development projects that will ultimately require new technology and trillions of dollars of investment in new infrastructure."
For top industry officials like O'Reilly, it seemed evident that Big Oil had no choice in the matter. It would have to invest those needed trillions in tough-oil projects or lose ground to other sources of energy, drying up its stream of profits. True, the cost of extracting unconventional oil would be much greater than from easier-to-reach conventional reserves (not to mention more environmentally hazardous), but that would be the world's problem, not theirs. "Collectively, we are stepping up to this challenge," O'Reilly declared. "The industry is making significant investments to build additional capacity for future production."
On this basis, Chevron, Exxon, Royal Dutch Shell, and other major firms indeed invested enormous amounts of money and resources in a growing unconventional oil and gas race, an extraordinary saga I described in my book The Race for What's Left. Some, including Chevron and Shell, started drilling in the deep waters of the Gulf of Mexico; others, including Exxon, commenced operations in the Arctic and eastern Siberia. Virtually every one of them began exploiting U.S. shale reserves via hydro-fracking.
Over the Cliff
By the end of the first decade of this century, Big Oil was united in its embrace of its new production-maximizing, drill-baby-drill approach. It made the necessary investments, perfected new technology for extracting tough oil, and did indeed triumph over the decline of existing, "easy oil" deposits. In those years, it managed to ramp up production in remarkable ways, bringing ever more hard-to-reach oil reservoirs online.
According to the Energy Information Administration (EIA) of the U.S. Department of Energy, world oil production rose from 85.1 million barrels per day in 2005 to 92.9 million in 2014, despite the continuing decline of many legacy fields in North America and the Middle East. Claiming that industry investments in new drilling technologies had vanquished the specter of oil scarcity, BP's latest CEO, Bob Dudley, assured the world only a year ago that Big Oil was going places and the only thing that had "peaked" was "the theory of peak oil."'


Re: CO2

Now if you could just take the exhausts of a power plant and pump that into a large tank of algae...  Maybe a mile long glass tube full of glass beads and algae in the same way they use bacteria to clean water...

On Fri, Mar 13, 2015 at 10:44 AM, <larry wrote:

'UC Berkeley chemists have made a major leap forward in carbon-capture technology with a material that can efficiently remove carbon from the ambient air of a submarine as readily as from the polluted emissions of a coal-fired power plant.

The material then releases the carbon dioxide at lower temperatures than current carbon-capture materials, potentially cutting by half or more the energy currently consumed in the process…

"It would work great on something like the International Space Station," Long said.…

Power plants that capture CO2 today use an old technology whereby flue gases are bubbled through organic amines in water, where the carbon dioxide binds to amines. The liquid is then heated to 120-150 degrees Celsius (250-300 degrees Fahrenheit) to release the gas, after which the liquids are reused. The entire process is expensive: it consumes about 30 percent of the power generated, while sequestering underground costs an additional though small fraction of that.

The new diamine-appended MOFs can capture carbon dioxide at various temperatures, depending on how the diamines are synthesized, and releases the CO2 at only 50 C above the temperature at which CO2 binds, instead of the increase of 80-110 C required for aqueous liquid amines. Because MOFs are solid, the process also saves the huge energy costs of heating the water in which amines are dissolved.'




Fwd: Science

'A new twist on an old tool lets scientists use light to study and control matter with 1,000 times better resolution and precision than previously possible.

Physicists at the University of Michigan have demonstrated "ponderomotive spectroscopy," an advanced form of a technique that was born in the 15th century when Isaac Newton first showed that white light sent through a prism breaks into a rainbow.

Spectroscopy is essential to many branches of science. The term broadly refers to the use of light, often from lasers, to observe, measure and manipulate matter. With it, scientists can detect trace amounts of pollutants. They can identify elements in the atmospheres of planets outside the solar system. And they laid the groundwork for computing and information processing. Those are just a few examples of how it has been used.

The new high-resolution spectroscopy allows researchers to peer more deeply into the structure of atoms and direct their behavior at a much finer scale. It could have applications in quantum computing, which aims to use particles such as atoms or electrons to perform information processing and memory tasks. Quantum computers could offer big boosts in computing power because they'd carry out scores of calculations at once. Their purported ability to factor numbers much faster than their conventional counterparts could bring improvements in computer security as well.

In addition, measurements that the new spectroscopy makes possible could lead to new understandings of fundamental physics, said Kaitlin Moore, a doctoral student in applied physics in the U-M College of Literature, Science, and the Arts.

"The freedom of access our technique offers could be game-changing for characterizing atoms and molecules, as well for all the physics that stems from these kinds of measurements," Moore said.'



'Organic light emitting diodes (OLEDs), which are made from carbon-containing materials, have the potential to revolutionize future display technologies, making low-power displays so thin they'll wrap or fold around other structures, for instance.

Conventional LCD displays must be backlit by either fluorescent light bulbs or conventional LEDs whereas OLEDs don't require back lighting. An even greater technological breakthrough will be OLED-based laser diodes, and researchers have long dreamed of building organic lasers, but they have been hindered by the organic materials' tendency to operate inefficiently at the high currents required for lasing.

Now a new study from a team of researchers in California and Japan shows that OLEDs made with finely patterned structures can produce bright, low-power light sources, a key step toward making organic lasers. The results are reported in a paper appearing this week on the cover of the journal Applied Physics Letters, from AIP Publishing.'



Fwd: Maternity Hotel

'Southern California apartment complexes that doubled as "maternity hotels" for Chinese women who want made-in-America babies were raided early Tuesday, capping an unprecedented federal sting operation, officials said.

NBC News was on the scene as Homeland Security agents swept into The Carlyle, a luxury property in Irvine, California, which housed pregnant women and new moms who allegedly forked over $40,000 to $80,000 to give birth in the United States.




  'I recounted this story at the charity dinner simply to make the point that American exceptionalism in the world had as much to do with the largesse of our character as with our great wealth and power, and that causes like the one at hand only enhanced our reputation in the world as a fundamentally decent nation — a beacon, as it were, of human possibility. I thought this would be the easiest of points to make. And things were in fact going smoothly until I uttered the words "American exceptionalism." Instantly — almost before I could get the words out of my mouth — quiet boos erupted from one side of the banquet room. Not loud ugly boos, but polite remonstrative boos, the kind that respectfully censure you for an impropriety. I was shocked. This was a young, bright, prosperous American audience reproaching me for mentioning the exceptionalism of our nation. It was as if they were saying, "Don't you understand that even the phrase 'American exceptionalism' is a hubris that evokes the evils of white supremacy? It is an indecency that we won't be associated with."


   In booing, these audience members were acting out an irony: They were good Americans precisely because they were skeptical of American greatness. Their skepticism was a badge of innocence because it dissociated them from America's history of evil. To unreservedly buy into American exceptionalism was, for them, to turn a blind eye on this evil, and they wanted to make the point that they were far too evolved for that. They would never be like those head-in-the-sand Americans who didn't understand that American greatness was tainted by evil. And you could hear — in the spontaneity of their alarm, like a knee jerking at the tap of a rubber hammer — that their innocence of this evil was now a central part of their identity. It was reflex now; they didn't have to think about it anymore.



Fwd: boat

'Prosecutors have said Tsarnaev scrawled the motive for the attack inside the boat. They say he referred to U.S. wars in Muslim countries and wrote, among other things, "Stop killing our innocent people and we will stop."'




Fwd: M855

'The ATF says it wants to ban M855 ball ammunition, a .223 (or 5.56 mm) rifle bullet that has been used by American citizens for decades. The ATF says it wants to ban this popular bullet because it is "armor piercing."

The law at the basis of this debate is the Gun Control Act of 1968 (GCA). As amended, the GCA prohibits the import, manufacture and distribution of "armor piercing ammunition" as defined by a few terms Attorney General Eric Holder's Department of Justice (DOJ) is attempting to broaden.

The definition for what constitutes "armor piercing" reads: "a projectile or projectile core which may be used in a handgun and which is constructed entirely … from one or a combination of tungsten alloys, steel, iron, brass, bronze, beryllium copper, or depleted uranium."

Now, to be as nitpicky as the law, the M855 ball ammunition the ATF wants to ban as "armor piercing" doesn't have a core made of the metals listed in what legally makes a bullet "armor piercing." The M855 actually has a lead core with a steel tip. Also, the M855 is traditionally a rifle cartridge and the ban only covers handgun ammunition. The DOJ argues this doesn't stop them because the law stipulates they can ban a bullet that "may be used in a handgun." And, after all, any cartridge may be used in a handgun.

Still, the definition has another condition. According to law, when ammo is made for "sporting purposes" (hunting, recreation shooting and so on) it is exempt from this ban. According to the DOJ the "GCA exempts ammunition that would otherwise be considered armor piercing if the Attorney General determines that the specific ammunition at issue is 'primarily intended to be used for sporting purposes.'" So, according to the DOJ, they simply get to decide on this condition.

The "sporting purposes" caveat is an important exemption, as every bullet designed to ethically kill a deer or other big-game animal (whether from a pistol, rifle or shotgun) will also shoot through a bulletproof vest. If all bullets that could potentially shoot through a cop's bulletproof vest were banned, then hunting—at least ethical hunting with firearms—would cease..


'Also, you can't blame people for questioning the politics behind this move when the attorney general behind this proposed ban has said his failure to further restrict Second Amendment rights is his greatest failure.'


This approval process, of course, isn't new. In 1986, the ATF actually exempted the .223 ammo it now wants to ban. Also, in 1992, the ATF exempted .30-06 M2AP cartridges (the .30-06 is a widely used and highly regarded big-game hunting round and has also long been used by the U.S. military)…

Given that this seems to be a solution in search of a problem, it doesn't seem conspiratorial to wonder if this is a political move orchestrated to make it more expensive to shoot AR-15s, which are traditionally chambered in .223. In its argument for this rule change, the ATF is clearly justifying expanding the ammo ban to traditional rifle calibers. So then, might the ATF's next move be to ban ammo for other popular military/civilian calibers like the .308 and .30-06?'




Fwd: Test

'This exam, given in 23 countries, assessed the thinking abilities and workplace skills of adults. It focused on literacy, math and technological problem-solving. The goal was to figure out how prepared people are to work in a complex, modern society.

And U.S. millennials performed horribly.

That might even be an understatement, given the extent of the American shortcomings. No matter how you sliced the data – by class, by race, by education – young Americans were laggards compared to their international peers. In every subject, U.S. millennials ranked at the bottom or very close to it, according to a new study by testing company ETS.

"We were taken aback," said ETS researcher Anita Sands. "We tend to think millennials are really savvy in this area. But that's not what we are seeing."

The test is called the PIAAC test. It was developed by the Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development, better known as the OECD. The test was meant to assess adult skill levels. It was administered worldwide to people ages 16 to 65. The results came out two years ago and barely caused a ripple. But recently ETS went back and delved into the data to look at how  millennials did as a group. After all, they're the future – and, in America, they're poised to claim the title of largest generation from the baby boomers.

U.S. millennials, defined as people 16 to 34 years old, were supposed to be different. They're digital natives. They get it. High achievement is part of their makeup. But the ETS study found signs of trouble, with its authors warning that the nation was at a crossroads: "We can decide to accept the current levels of mediocrity and inequality or we can decide to address the skills challenge head on."

The challenge is that, in literacy, U.S. millennials scored higher than only three countries.

In math, Americans ranked last.

In technical problem-saving, they were second from the bottom.

"Abysmal," noted ETS researcher Madeline Goodman. "There was just no place where we performed well."'



Fwd: Wages

'consider the Congressional Budget Office estimates of actual median household income. Measured in 2013 dollars, after-tax median income rose briskly from $46,998 in 1983 to $70,393 in 2008 but remained below that 2008 peak in 2011. The sizable increase before 2008 is partly because the average of all federal taxes paid by the middle fifth has almost been cut in half since 1981—from 19.2% that year to 17.7% in 1989, 16.5% in 2000, 13.6% in 2003 and 11.2% in 2011.

Census Bureau estimates of median "money income," on the other hand, do not account for taxes, so they miss a major source of improved living standards. They also exclude realized capital gains, public and private health insurance, food stamps and other in-kind benefits. Even so, the Census Bureau's flawed estimate of median income rose 13.7% from 1984 to 2007 before falling 8% from 2007 to 2013.

Both CBO and Census estimates show only six years of middle-class stagnation…




In their original 2003 study, Messrs. Piketty and Saez mentioned one rapidly expanding source of missing income—disappearing dividends in tax-return data. These were "due mostly to the growth of funded pension plans and retirement savings accounts through which individuals receive dividends that are never reported as dividends on income tax returns."

The same is true of interest and capital gains accumulating inside such tax-free savings accounts. These have grown to nearly $20 trillion, according to a 2014 report by Tax Foundation economist Alan Cole.

Messrs. Piketty and Saez shrink the total income numbers further by subtracting all transfer payments, such as Social Security and unemployment benefits, and excluding all health and retirement benefits provided by private employers or government agencies. The result, as Brookings Institution's Gary Burtless noted, is that, "The Piketty-Saez measure [of total income] excluded 24% of NIPA [National Income and Product Accounts] 'personal income' in 1970, but it excluded 37% of 'personal income' in 2008." It excluded 40% of personal income by 2011. '