24 May 2006

Better Fuel Cells Using Bacteria

Wednesday, May 234 2006
Better Fuel Cells Using Bacteria
Bioengineer Tim Gardner says synthetic biology could create bacteria that produce electricity from waste more efficiently.
By Emily Singer

What if you could power your house with sewage? Or run your pacemaker with blood sugar rather than a traditional battery? Scientists hope that microbial fuel cells -- devices that use bacteria to generate electricity -- could one day make this vision a reality.

While typical fuel cells use hydrogen as fuel, separating out electrons to create electricity, bacteria can use a wide variety of nutrients as fuel. Some species, such as Shewanella oneidensis and Rhodoferax ferrireducens, turn these nutrients directly into electrons. Indeed, scientists have already created experimental microbial fuel cells that can run off glucose and sewage. Although these microscopic organisms are remarkably efficient at producing energy, they don't make enough of it for practical applications.

A Worthy Cause

In 2005, active duty and reserve Marines at 10 military installations around the country took up their tongs in the ultimate battle of the barbecue. They marinated, seared, and sauced in an all-out battle for top grilling honors. This book showcases the winning recipes from the competition, along with steak recipes from famous former Marines like Lee Trevino and Ed McMahon.

click the link above.

21 May 2006

Iran and Turkey fire salvo over Iraq

Iran and Turkey fire salvo over Iraq
By Sami Moubayed

DAMASCUS - Both Turkey and Iran have been launching military raids into northern Iraq against a Kurdish paramilitary group that is based there, posing a dangerous new threat to stability both within Iraq and to the region.

The Iraq-based Kurdish Workers' Party (PKK), labeled a terrorist group by the United States, Britain and the European Union, is a paramilitary party that preaches Kurdish nationalism, especially in Turkey, where it is demanding political rights and better living standards for the country's 12 million Kurds.

Turkey recently launched a massive military operation involving more than 250,000 troops against the PKK (nearly double the number of US troops in Iraq), concentrated in the mountains along Turkey's borders with Iran and Iraq. Extensive incursions into northern Iraq have been reported, aimed at cutting off the PKK's supply lines to Turkey from its camps in northern Iraq. Turkey also claims that "the PKK has recently increased its activities and obtained weapons from Iraq".

Iran, meanwhile, has begun attacks on PKK units based in Iran, and the Iranian military has entered Iraqi territory in hot pursuit of PKK militants. This represents a different approach from recent years, when Turkey regularly accused Tehran of turning a blind eye to the PKK in Iran.

The Baghdad government has objected, claiming a violation of its sovereignty, but both countries insist that they are acting in self-defense.

The PKK wants to create a Kurdish state out of southeastern Turkey, northeastern Iraq, northeastern Syria and northwestern Iran. PKK broadcasts have claimed that 2006 would be "a year of destiny" for Kurdish nationalism. The PKK rebellion, which has hit Turkey the hardest, has led to the death of 35,000 Turks (including 5,000 soldiers) and cost the Turks billions of dollars.

The PKK's long history of violence - and the violence used in turn by the authorities - all but ceased after its leader Abdullah Ocelan was arrested in 1998, but it resumed activities in June 2004, claiming that the Turkish military was still attacking it.

In a message to Iraq, Turkey said, "They [PKK] are the infiltrators and we are protecting our border. Do not allow the terror network to use your territory. Fight against the terrorists who will only terrorize you in the future." Another communique issued by Turkey addressing the Iraqis read, "We are not considering ending our activity there [in Iraq] for as long as the PKK is also present and active in that area."

The Turks claim that up to 4,000 members of the PKK have been using Iraq to launch attacks on Turkey.

General Hilmi Ozkok, commander of the Turkish army, asked whether Turkey planned to seek US permission before further invasions of Iraq, confidently replied, "We cannot take a decision of that kind based on the US. Every country is sovereign. Every country makes its own decisions. If the conditions change, you act by the changing conditions."

To avoid a confrontation, a flurry of diplomacy has taken place in Turkey. Over the past week, US Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice visited Ankara. So did members of the US House of Representatives Foreign Relations Committee, and Ali Larijani, the secretary of the Supreme National Security Council and chief negotiator on Iran's nuclear portfolio.

Most interesting of the meetings was that of Larijani, who was received with great honor in Ankara. For six hours, Larijani met with Yigit Alpogan, the secretary general of the National Security Council, Foreign Minister Abdullah Gul and Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan.

Larijani warned the Turks against PKK infiltration and the chaos prevailing in Iraq, saying, "We are very worried as a country from this region. If the string breaks, and it is heading that way currently, it will not be possible to repair it. We are telling you this plainly now. Later, do not come and complain that we didn't warn you."

He continued, "Currently, there is solidarity in your country. But if chaos breaks out, this solidarity will also fall apart. Don't be like Iraq."

The Turks, especially Erdogan, are serious in wanting to eradicate the PKK threat coming from Iraq. As much as they value their relationship with the US, they will not tolerate a Kurdish presence on their border.

The Americans, although they have helped fight the PKK in the past, nevertheless have recently been passive toward its activities in Iran and Turkey. So has the European Union. While both the US and the EU "oppose" PKK strikes on Turkey, they also oppose Turkey's militarization of the crisis.

Now Turkey has found an ally in the form of Iranian President Mahmud Ahmadinejad, who has shown the will - and the army - to support the Turks in combating the PKK.

Iran has arrested 50 PKK members, and a similar crackdown has taken place in Syria, a onetime ally and host of the PKK and currently a good friend of the Iranians.

Ahmadinejad's support for Turkey's offensive on the PKK in Iraq is naturally in Iran's own interests, but it is also aimed at acquiring a new, strong friend for Tehran in its confrontation with the international community over its nuclear program. Reportedly, Ahmadinejad even told the Turks that he would share his nuclear technology with them.

Erdogan had also met with Ahmadinejad in Baku, Azerbaijan, on May 5 on the sidelines of the ninth summit of the Economic Cooperation Organization, shortly before Larijani's visit to Tehran.

This meeting, along with the visit of a high-level Iranian official to Turkey, certainly angered the Americans. Turkish media responded by claiming that the PKK attacks on Turkey were allowed by the Americans and the two prominent Kurdish leaders in Iraq - Masoud al-Barzani, president of the Kurdish region, and the US-backed president of the country, Jalal Talabani.

While in Ankara, Larijani further upset the Americans by revealing that he had documents proving US meetings with the PKK (which it considers a terrorist organization) in Mosul and Kirkuk last month. This was at the level of military commanders, he said. Larijani asked, "If the US is fighting terrorism, why then is it meeting with the PKK?"

Talabani said that in his latest meetings with Rice and Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld, he had been given assurances that the Turks would not invade Iraq because the US would not let them.

click the link above for the rest of the article

The neoconservative Bush regime has adroitly used 9/11 to create fear of terrorism

Paul Craig Roberts was Assistant Secretary of the Treasury in the Reagan administration. He was Associate Editor of the Wall Street Journal editorial page and Contributing Editor of National Review. He is coauthor of The Tyranny of Good Intentions. He can be reached at: paulcraigroberts@yahoo.com.

By Paul Craig Roberts
Republished from Information Clearing House
The neoconservative Bush regime has adroitly used 9/11 to create fear of terrorism among Americans that blinds Americans to the Bush regime's assault on our constitutional system.
Americans have meekly acquiesced to the Bush regime’s brutal assaults on civil liberties, human rights, the separation of powers, and statutory law, because Americans have been brainwashed to believe that the “war on terror” takes precedence and cannot be waged under the rules established by the Founding Fathers.
By elevating its “war on terror” above the US Constitution, the neoconservative Bush regime has made itself a far greater threat to Americans than are foreign terrorists. Two constitutional scholars, Timothy Lynch and Gene Healy, document the Bush regime’s forceful assault on the US Constitution in “Power Surge: The Constitutional Record of George W. Bush” released May 3 by the Cato Institute in Washington, D.C.
Lynch and Healy show that Bush has failed in his most important responsibility “to preserve, protect and defend” the Constitution and, thus, is in violation of his sworn oath of office. The two scholars document the Bush regime’s “ceaseless push for power, unchecked by either the Courts or Congress” on issues ranging from war powers, habeas corpus, and federalism to free speech and unwarranted surveillance. Bush’s assault on the Constitution “should disturb people from across the political spectrum.”
Alas, it doesn’t. Many Americans believe that Bush’s dictatorial powers will only be applied to terrorists. This belief is extremely foolish, because it means that “the liberty of every American rests on nothing more than the grace of the White House.”
It has become commonplace to hear Americans dismiss the Bush regime’s illegal and unconstitutional exercise of power on the grounds that only those implicated in terrorism have anything to fear. These Americans need to ask themselves why, if only evil doers have anything to fear from government, the Founding Fathers bothered to write the Constitution?
If we can trust the government the way Americans seem prepared to trust the Bush regime, we don’t need the Constitution. Indeed, why is a president inaugurated with his oath to defend the Constitution if we don’t need the Constitution to protect us from our government? If we can trust government, why go to all the trouble to have elections? Why not just get a dictator or a king or contract with a company to provide government?
The question presents itself: Are Americans guilty of treason when they turn their backs on the Constitution? Treason is betrayal of country. And what defines country? In the United States the Constitution defines country. The Bush regime’s assault on the Constitution is an assault on America.
Moreover, it is a far more dangerous and deadly assault than a terrorist assault on buildings.
Ask yourself, gentle reader, what are we without the Constitution? Without the Constitution, how do we differ from the hapless subjects sent to Soviet and Nazi death camps? The Constitution protects our rights, and without our rights we are nothing.
It has been widely reported, apparently without causing Americans any unease, that the Bush regime has awarded Halliburton $385 million to build concentration camps in the United States. Who are to be the inmates? Certainly not terrorists. The Bush regime has proven inept at catching terrorists, and those few who are captured are kept offshore out of the reach of the courts where they can be tortured and abused. The camps are certainly not for illegal aliens who both political parties want to give amnesty and citizenship.
Concentration camps epitomize the horrors and inhumanity of the Stalin and Nazi era. Why is the Bush regime building concentration camps in America?
The Bush regime’s war on terror is the equivalent to the Nazi regime’s Reichstag fire. It serves to blind people to the real assault.
According to Bush, America is under terrorist attack because “they hate our freedoms.” But, as Lynch and Healy show, it is the Bush regime that is attacking our freedoms, removing their institutional protections, and making our liberties subject to the grace of the executive.

08 May 2006

Buffett buys Iscar

Teachers want tax revenue from Iscar deal to go to education

By Yuli Khromchenko and Guy Rolnik, Haaretz Correspondents, and Haaretz Service

The head of the Teachers' Union on Sunday called for the tax revenues from a $4 billion deal involving a Galilee based company to be channeled into the education system.

U.S. tycoon Warren Buffett's landmark deal to buy 80 percent of Galilee-based Iscar Metalworking also propelled the Tel Aviv Stock Exchange to record levels Sunday, the first trading day after the transaction was announced the day before.

Speaking at the transfer of ministerial powers at the Education Ministry on Sunday, the teaching union's secretary-general, Yossi Wasserman, said that while the Buffett-Iscar deal had added an unexpected bonus to the state coffers, the education system was in dire need of those funds.
The Tel Aviv 100 Index, rising 1.78 percentage points in early trading, broke through the 900 point barrier for the first time. The Tel Aviv 25 Index rose 1.69 percentage points, while the Tel-Tech Index was up 1.36.

Prime Minister Ehud Olmert, hailing the deal, told the first meeting of his new cabinet Sunday: "This is not just another deal of billions. Here, we are speaking of the greatest investor on the face of the Earth. He's not a Jew. He's not a Zionist. He is just saying that Israel's economy is such that he supports it, and sees in it what we, in our dreams, hesitate to say."

Buffett, referring to his first significant deal outside the United States, hinted in an interview with Haaretz' TheMarker that he may buy additional Israeli companies.

The move is the third largest deal Buffet has ever made.

"We are investing $4 billion in an amazing band of people from Israel," Buffett told TheMarker on Saturday. "If your readers know a company that resembles Iscar, even a little, have them call me immediately. I want to buy. Let them call me collect."

The deal values Iscar, a leading private manufacturer of advanced cutting tools, at $5 billion and will make its owners, Stef and Eitan Wertheimer, the richest family in Israel. Iscar has its factories concentrated in the Tefen industrial zone and has additional plants around the world.

Buffett, chair and CEO of Berkshire Hathaway told TheMarker that "in another five or ten years, we'll look back and understand that what we declared here is one of the most significant things Berkshire Hathaway has ever done. Iscar will be a very large and important company."

Asked what he intended to do with management after acquiring the company, Buffett responded, "We'll let them be. This is why we bought the company. At Berkshire we are 16 people in total, even though the companies in our investment portfolio employ 200,000 people. Our job is only to choose the best players, and usually, like in Iscar's case, the players are there when we buy the companies. I wouldn't dream of changing Iscar's management make-up."

Buffett noted he expects the entire Iscar management to remain in place, including President Jacob Harpaz. Iscar President Eitan Wertheimer said that "as members of the Berkshire family, we'll be able to enjoy a stable platform committed to ongoing success."

Prime Minister Ehud Olmert called Eitan Wertheimer last night to congratulate him on the sale. "It's terrific tidings and a great gift to the State of Israel", Olmert said. "We tip our hat to you, personally and in the name of the whole country." The Prime Minister's Office commented that Wertheimer "thanked the prime minister."

Eitan Wertheimer said selling the company for him is "lighting an economic torch," just as his father Stef lit a torch on Independence Day. According to him, Buffett's expression of faith is an important declaration for the country, "and just as they talked about the Balfour Declaration - now they'll talk about the Buffett Declaration." Olmert will speak with Buffett today. A government source said Olmert was indirectly involved in the deal.

Buffett told the annual meeting yesterday that he plans to visit Israel this year.

Save the Internet

Congress is pushing a law that would abandon the Internet's First Amendment -- a principle called Network Neutrality that prevents companies like AT&T, Verizon and Comcast from deciding which Web sites work best for you -- based on what site pays them the most. Your local library shouldn’t have to outbid Barnes & Noble for the right to have its Web site open quickly on your computer.
Net Neutrality allows everyone to compete on a level playing field and is the reason that the Internet is a force for economic innovation, civic participation and free speech. If the public doesn't speak up now, Congress will cave to a multi-million dollar lobbying campaign by telephone and cable companies that want to decide what you do, where you go, and what you watch online.
This isn’t just speculation -- we've already seen what happens elsewhere when the Internet's gatekeepers get too much control. Last year, Telus -- Canada's version of AT&T -- blocked their Internet customers from visiting a Web site sympathetic to workers with whom the company was having a labor dispute. And Madison River, a North Carolina ISP, blocked its customers from using any competing Internet phone service.

Click the above link

The Ray McGovern incident

Rumsfeld began taking questions from the audience. One of those who posed a question was Ray McGovern, who spent 27 years as a C.I.A. analyst.

RAY McGOVERN: And so, I would like to ask you to be up front with the American people. Why did you lie to get us into a war that was not necessary and that has caused these kinds of casualties? Why?

DONALD RUMSFELD: Well, first of all, I haven’t lied. I did not lie then. Colin Powell didn't lie. He spent weeks and weeks with the Central Intelligence Agency people and prepared a presentation that I know he believed was accurate, and he presented that to the United Nations. The President spent weeks and weeks with the Central Intelligence people, and he went to the American people and made a presentation. I'm not in the intelligence business. They gave the world their honest opinion. It appears that there were not weapons of mass destruction there.

RAY McGOVERN: You said you knew where they were?

DONALD RUMSFELD: I did not. I said I knew where suspect sites were, and we were --

RAY McGOVERN: You said you knew where they were, “near Tikrit, near Baghdad, and northeast, south and west of there.” Those were your words.

DONALD RUMSFELD: My words -- my words were -- no, no, no, wait a minute! Let him stay one second. Just a second.

RAY McGOVERN: This is America, huh? Go ahead.

DONALD RUMSFELD: You're getting plenty of play, sir.

RAY McGOVERN: I'd just like an honest answer.

DONALD RUMSFELD: I’m giving it to you.

RAY McGOVERN: We're talking about lies and your allegation that there was bulletproof evidence of ties between al-Qaeda and Iraq. Was that a lie or were you misled?

DONALD RUMSFELD: Zarqawi was in Baghdad during the prewar period. That is a fact.

RAY McGOVERN: Zarqawi, he was in the north of Iraq, in a place where Saddam Hussein had no rule. That’s where he was.

DONALD RUMSFELD: He was also in Baghdad.

RAY McGOVERN: Yeah, when he needed to go to the hospital. Come on, these people aren't idiots. They know the story.

DONALD RUMSFELD: You are -- let me give you an example. It's easy for you to make a charge, but why do you think that the men and women in uniform every day, when they came out of Kuwait and went into Iraq, put on chemical weapon protective suits? Because they liked the style? They honestly believed that there were chemical weapons. Saddam Hussein had used chemical weapons on his own people previously. He had used them on his neighbor, the Iranians. And they believed he had those weapons. We believed he had those weapons.

RAY McGOVERN: That's what we call a non-sequitur. It doesn’t matter what the troops believe. It matters what you believe.

MODERATOR: I think, Mr. Secretary, the debate is over. We have other questions, courtesy to the audience.

Click the link above and read the interview with McGovern. Here's an excerpt:
JUAN GONZALEZ: And when Secretary Rumsfeld responds about the troops believing that there were chemical weapons, because they were wearing uniforms or chemical suits. Your response?

RAY McGOVERN: Well, talk about that disingenuity. I mean, sure, they wore chemical [suits], because Rumsfeld and his generals ordered them to. This proves nothing, other than they went through with this charade. The Australian troops wore no such protective covering, because they knew there were no weapons there. The Australians knew these weapons were a figment of the propaganda put out by our Defense Department, so they blithely went in there without any protective covering. So it was all a charade.

And I suppose the good news is that finally someone had a chance to ask Don Rumsfeld -- if I were in Washington, I never would have got into a session where Rumsfeld spoke. I have to give him credit that he took questions and answers. But, you know, it's really interesting that when I walked into the place, I wrangled a ticket very surreptitiously. I was met with this little blurb on Donald Rumsfeld, and as I read it, I had to chuckle. It says, “There’s going to be a question-and-answer period, but please adhere to these guidelines. Refrain from using the word ‘lie’ in relation to the war in Iraq. Do not question the secretary’s personal responsibility for torture. And please don’t discuss first use of nuclear weapons against Iran. If you violate these guidelines, you'll be immediately removed from the auditorium, flown to an undesignated prison location somewhere in Eastern Europe and tortured. Thank you for your cooperation. The World Cannot Wait.” A wonderful, wonderful group. Those were the folks that spoke up and tried to brace Donald Rumsfeld with the lies and their charges of him being -- and he is, arguably -- a war criminal. And we shouldn't shy away from saying that.

Gen. Hayden Interview

This morning, President Bush nominated General Michael Hayden to replace Porter Goss. Hayden is the Deputy Director of National Intelligence and the former director of the National Security Agency. It’s expected Hayden would face a contentious confirmation process over the administration’s domestic spying program, which is run by the NSA. This is General Hayden speaking at a rare news conference in January, defending the spy program. He was questioned by Knight Ridder reporter, Jonathan Landay.

JONATHAN LANDAY: My understanding is that the Fourth Amendment to the Constitution specifies that you must have probable cause to be able to do a search that does not violate an American's right against unlawful searches and seizures.

MICHAEL HAYDEN: No, actually, the Fourth Amendment actually protects all of us against unreasonable search and seizure. That’s what it says.

JONATHAN LANDAY: But the measure is “probable cause,” I believe.

MICHAEL HAYDEN: The amendment says “unreasonable search and seizure.”

JONATHAN LANDAY: But does it not say “probable – “


JONATHAN LANDAY: The court standard, the legal standard --

MICHAEL HAYDEN: The amendment says, “unreasonable search and seizure.”

JONATHAN LANDAY: The legal standard is “probable cause,” General. You used the terms just a few minutes ago, “we reasonably believe,” and a FISA court, my understanding is, would not give you a warrant if you went before them and say, “We reasonably believe.” You have to go to the FISA Court or the Attorney General has to go to the FISA Court and say, “We have probable cause,” and so what many people believe, and I would like you to respond to this, is that what you've actually done is crafted a detour around the FISA Court by creating a new standard of “reasonably believe” in place of “probable cause,” because the FISA Court will not give you a warrant based on “reasonable belief.” You have to show “probable cause.” Could you respond to that, please?

MICHAEL HAYDEN: Sure. I didn't craft the authorization. I am responding to a lawful order, alright? The Attorney General has averred to the lawfulness of the order. Just to be very clear, okay, and believe me, if there is any amendment to the Constitution that employees of the National Security Agency are familiar with, it's the Fourth, and it is a “reasonableness” standard in the Fourth Amendment. And so, what you’ve raised to me, and I'm not a lawyer and don't want to become one, but what you've raised to me, in terms of quoting the Fourth Amendment, is an issue of the Constitution. The constitutional standard is “reasonable,” and we believe – I am convinced that we're lawful, because what it is we're doing is reasonable.

03 May 2006

oh, LOOK! another War for us!

Whistle the " Bridge over the River Kwai" while you read this...

River Kwai, Khwae Noi (Thai แควน้อย, English small tributary)

Myanmar's junta fears US invasion
By Samuel Blythe

BANGKOK - Myanmar's armed forces, commonly known as the Tatmadaw, are increasingly reorienting themselves to defend against a possible US-led foreign invasion, as revealed in a top-secret internal document leaked exclusively to Asia Times Online.
This official Ministry of Defense document represents the first concrete evidence that Myanmar is reacting militarily to recent US official statements referring to the hardline regime as an "outpost of tyranny".

The minutes of an October 2005 meeting in which battalion commanders were briefed about a high-level meeting at the War Office in Yangon delineates three ways in which the United States might invade Myanmar - through agitating its citizens, in an alliance with insurgents and ceasefire groups or through a multinational coalition-led invasion. The Burmese-language document, which is more than 40 pages in length, is stamped "Top Secret".

The document further identifies Thailand, a staunch strategic ally of the United States, as Myanmar's "nearest enemy" and takes particular umbrage at the US-Thai joint Cobra Gold military exercises held annually in Thailand. In the past, the highly public joint military exercises have focused on counter-narcotics operations to help stem the flow of drugs from Myanmar into Thailand.

The document also indicates that the Tatmadaw has been closely studying US military strategy and operations in Iraq and Afghanistan and is preparing an "Operation Other No War" plan (as the document's English-language translation calls it) to defend against a possible US invasion through a war of attrition. Exact details of the defensive contingency plan are not included in the document, however.

read more at the link above.

Myanmar used to be called Burma. "Burma, now called by its autocratic military government the Union of Myanmar, is a country with a long but often troubled history. The region it occupies has been occupied for thousands of years by a variety of ethnic groups, including Shans, Karens, Mons and many others. Most of these groups of people occupied environmental niches in a country which offered very varied types of terrain. Different peoples interacted with each other and exchanged trade goods and practices.

The country was invaded by the Burman people who gave it the modern name and the first Burman kingdom was established in 1054. This was Pagan and the architecture of its numerous wats and stupas remains as one of the great wonders of the world. The Pagan throne contended with other ethnic groups to extend their territory, particularly with the Mons to the south of Pagan, which is located in the north of the country close to Mandalay. Alaungpaya, who initiated the last Burmese dynasty, defeated the Mons in 1752 as part of continued Burmese expansion that had also seen a number of bloody struggles with Siam to the east. The Burmese had succeeded in seizing vast swathes of Siamese territory but had been unable to hold it through lack of manpower for a permanent occupying force. Although a Burmese army burned the Siamese capital of Ayutthaya in 1767 and carried off thousands of slaves, this too was effectively only a raid and not a conquest.

However, by this period, a far more dangerous enemy had begun to enter into Southeast Asian affairs. The British, in common with other Europeans, had been active in the region for hundreds of years. But their interests had previously been mostly confined to piracy, the search for spice islands and the establishment of small scale trading posts. Yet the success of the British, through the agency of the East India Company, in dominating India emboldened the British into believing that territorial conquest in the region was possible."


Two can play the realpolitik game

This article is quite a good read:

"With Iran, the Bush administration is working from the Iraq playbook - demonizing its leader, hyping the "threat" to neighboring countries, flexing its military might. So why is Tehran toying with the lion? It turns out that in the game known as "realpolitik", Iran has some cards of its own to play. - Ramzy Baroud'

'Clear' human impact on climate

In my last posting, below, I mentioned the junkscience website. I not sure who to believe now. The guy who has his own website disputing all the global warming stuff as fake or article below from the BBC reporting on a US gov't study. Dang, I'm so so torn on who to believe. What do you think?

'Clear' human impact on climate
By Richard Black
Environment Correspondent, BBC News website
A scientific report commissioned by the US government has concluded there is "clear evidence" of climate change caused by human activities. The report, from the federal Climate Change Science Program, said trends seen over the last 50 years "cannot be explained by natural processes alone". It found that temperatures have increased in the lower atmosphere as well as at the Earth's surface. However, scientists involved in the report say better data is badly needed.

Observations down the years have suggested that the troposphere, the lower atmosphere, is not warming up, despite evidence that temperatures at the Earth's surface are rising. This goes against generally accepted tenets of atmospheric physics, and has been used by "climate sceptics" as proof that there is no real warming.

The new report, Temperature Trends in the Lower Atmosphere, re-analyses the atmospheric data and concludes that tropospheric temperatures are rising. This means, it says, that the impact of human activities upon the global climate is clear. "The observed patterns of change over the past 50 years cannot be explained by natural processes alone, nor by the effect of short-lived atmospheric constituents (such as aerosols and tropospheric ozone) alone," it says.

02 May 2006

I don't disagree with a lot of this stuff

Please check out the website in the link above. It's not that I disagree with a lot of what is being said about taking responsability, etc. Perhaps, what I take issue with is that it's mainly just good soundbites. Who wouldn't agree with most of it? (well there are a few things that get murky in the details) but that's the point isn't it? We can all provide the soundbites that make sense. It's the implementation of the soundbites that I take issue with I suppose.

I like this site as well:

AP to Announce New Finding on Avain Flu

The Associated Press is set to release a new finding for local government and small business tomorrow on the Avian Flu. I will post this information here as soon as time permits.

Roman Candles eliminate Landmines

I have been following this development for some time ever since a frined of mine sent me a pretty wild computer generate link to the demo of this a coupe years back. (which of course I can't find anymore) You've certainly got step out of the box to understand how this technology can be applied in warfighting and OTHER applications.

1200 rounds/minute
2 rounds/ 50 millieconds apart
"Stacked Projectiles"

You're going to want to click on the link above and check out the videos!

To the human ear, the sound of 180 bullets being fired in less than one-hundredth of a second is perceived as one enormous noise. And the fact that some people have heard that noise is testimony to the perseverance of one inventor with a unique vision of the future of weapons technology. "They say that half the engineers in the first company that I worked with wanted me to finish my coffee and leave as soon as possible," says Mike O'Dwyer, recalling the way some of his far-reaching ideas were received.

O'Dwyer's revolutionary weapons concept is based on an electronically fired gun-and-launcher design with multiple rounds stacked in a single barrel. The only moving parts are the bullets themselves. Beyond creating an astounding fast-firing weapon, the concept makes way for the creation of entirely new types of firearms. Among other things, it will allow the shooter to select from different types of rounds and even between firing lethal and nonlethal ammunition. O'Dwyer's ideas were initially met with skepticism, but now they are being taken seriously by the military and police.

"Nothing succeeds like actually building something and pulling the trigger or, in our case, pressing the button to show what happens," he tells POPULAR MECHANICS. http://www.popularmechanics.com/science/defense/1281426.html

"Metal Storm Limited is a defense technology company engaged in the development of electronically initiated ballistics systems using its unique "stacked round" technology. The company is headquartered in Brisbane, Australia and incorporated in the US, with an office in Washington DC and a defense engineering capability located in Seattle, operating as ProCam Machine LLC. The company has invented a ballistics technology that has no known conventional equivalent. Metal Storm is working with government agencies and departments, as well as industry, to develop a variety of systems utilizing the Metal Storm non-mechanical, electronically fired stacked ammunition system." http://www.defensereview.com/article718.html

Metal Storm technology could eliminate the need for laying land mines. A three unit team, with aid of laptop computers be able to set a gird location with IR or other technology and anything that stepped into that area would first be determined friend or foe and then the firing sequence could be initiated. If you check out the website I think you will find this very intereting technology. Essentially you load a "tube" of weapons and only the front one engages, or however you have it set up, and the round fires. Think of it like a roman candle.

The company had explored the application for firefighting but it has not yet proven profitable.

As a public service you should chekc out the following:
Oh! and check out this video on DREAD weapons systems:

And I should mention that sometimes we get pretty caught up in new technology. The Navy and the Air Force have huge budgets for new eapons systems but a lot of future warfighting is projected to be in close combat, "city" enviroments. I found the following comments usefull in highlighting my point. (since Hack died it's hard to find this kind of stuff btw)

"I believe in Air Support, but I believe that I see on a constant basis my own equipment being worn beyond it's use. My molle pack is broke in 6 places. The plastic just isn't made for colder climates. My First Aid Kit is in bad shape and I got one from my uncle in the airforce or it'd be utterly worthless. I belive in equipment maintenance as does any Marine, but the money being thrown to these "new improved" projects doesn't do justice to the ground pounders just looking for good magazines for their ammo, or cleaning gear even. We're poorly supplied most of the time and I don't believe that the supply chiefs are keeping it to themselves. Not in My Marine Corps. I believe that the budget should be more evenly distributed among the serivces." This forum is a good read. Read it here:

Japanese researcher shows robot legs that could replace wheelchairs

Japanese researcher shows robot legs that could replace wheelchairs
A Japanese researcher demonstrated in Tokyo Wednesday a pair of robotic legs that can negotiate stairs and could eventually find use as a wheelchair substitute.
"Elderly people using wheelchairs cannot get up and down stairs," said Atsuo Takanishi, an engineering professor at Tokyo's Waseda University. "We wanted to create a robot that could do that and walk around rough surfaces."
Takanishi has been working on the machine since 2003 in conjunction with robot manufacturer tmsuk Co. Their goal has been to create a two-legged robot that can fully operate in a human environment -- specifically, one with features such as stairs that they can climb as homo sapiens do.
The latest version of the robot, the WL-16RIII, can manage the mechanically difficult feat. At the demonstration in Tokyo, one of Takanishi's students rode the robot -- which bears some resemblance to the mechanical "Wrong Trousers" of Wallace and Gromit fame -- up and down a staircase and along a pebbly path outdoors.
The WL-16RIII is operated using a pair of joysticks. However, Takanishi also hopes to develop a model that could function more freely without such input that could serve as a wheelchair replacement, allowing elderly or disabled individuals who may not be able to easily move their hands or arms to still use the robot.
Takanishi and tmsuk hope to have a model ready in the next year or two that enthusiasts could use to play sports, like a robot version of polo, said tmsuk spokeswoman Rie Sudo. They hope to have the more autonomous, wheelchair replacement version ready in five, Sudo said.
The tmsuk Co. is based in Kitakyushu. (AP)

....I saw a movie about something like that once...

01 May 2006

Congress may consider mandatory ISP snooping

Congress may consider mandatory ISP snooping
By Declan McCullagh
Staff Writer, CNET News.com
Published: April 28, 2006, 5:06 PM PDT
It didn't take long for the idea of forcing Internet providers to retain records of their users' activities to gain traction in the U.S. Congress.

Last week, Attorney General Alberto Gonzales, a Republican, gave a speech saying that data retention by Internet service providers is an "issue that must be addressed." Child pornography investigations have been "hampered" because data may be routinely deleted, Gonzales warned.

Now, in a demonstration of bipartisan unity, a Democratic member of the Congressional Internet Caucus is preparing to introduce an amendment--perhaps during a U.S. House of Representatives floor vote next week--that would make such data deletion illegal.

Colorado Rep. Diana DeGette's proposal (click for PDF) says that any Internet service that "enables users to access content" must permanently retain records that would permit police to identify each user. The records could not be discarded until at least one year after the user's account was closed.

Colbert Does the White House Correspondents' dinner

I thought that there where some funny comments but there was not a lot of laughter in the room. Go Figure.

Stephen Colbert spoke tonight at the dinner and lampooned pretty much everything he could think of and Helen Thomas. I used the second half of his performance because it included the Generals, Scalia, the Faux press briefing and as E&P reported:
"As he walked from the podium the president and First Lady gave Colbert quick nods, unsmiling, and left. E&P's Joe Strupp, in the crowd, observed that quite a few felt the material was, perhaps, uncomfortably biting."

"Colbert complained that he was "surrounded by the liberal media who are destroying this country, except for Fox News. Fox believes in presenting both sides-the president's side and the vice president's side."

He noted former Ambassador Joseph Wilson in the crowd, as well as " Valerie Plame." Then, pretending to be worried that he had named her, he corrected himself, as Bush aides might do, "Uh, I mean... Joseph Wilson's wife." He asserted that it might be okay, as prosecutor Patrick Fitzgerald was probably not there.

..watch the video and see for yourself if it's funny.