Thursday, December 23, 2010
NICOSIA (Reuters Life!) – She may be the ancient Greek Goddess of Love, but a picture of a nude Aphrodite on the new passport of Cyprus has set more than hearts racing.
Cypriot diplomats are furious with the interior ministry for failing to consult with the foreign ministry before issuing passports with a depiction of a naked immortal that might offend conservative foreign cultures.
"They are worried that civilians and diplomats could get into trouble, particularly traveling to very conservative Islamic countries," the authoritative Phileleftheros daily newspaper wrote on Thursday.
The interior ministry said it was too late to change them, the newspaper said.
Local legend says Aphrodite (also known as Venus to the ancient Romans) emerged from the sea on a crest of foam just off the Mediterranean island.
The image on the new biometric passports is modeled on a Greek marble statue of a completely naked Aphrodite in the Cyprus Museum located in the capital Nicosia.
Wednesday, December 22, 2010
...The Obama administration is preparing an executive order to allow indefinite detention at the prison at Guantanamo Bay—and administration officials insist this is part of the plan to close the prison forever. The White House has long supported creating prolonged detention for some of Gitmo detainees—preferably in a facility in the U.S.—but the plan could be crippled this week if Congress bans the transfer of the detainees for trial. An administration task force considers 48 of the 174 detainees too dangerous to be released... more it at The Washington Post
Tuesday, December 21, 2010
The Department of Homeland Security is working “24/7, 364 days a year,” Napolitano said Monday in an apparent gaffe. Or was it? Hmmm...
“We are thousands of people are working 24/7, 364 days a year to keep the American people safe,” the former Arizona governor said on ABC News.
In other news the President's 8th vacation has been postponed.
It's OK, Amelie's Gnome went to London.
Monday, December 20, 2010
...And my pipes are froze up too!
WOODY MARSHALL/THE TELEGRAPH,
Showing her Georgia Power bills in the one warm room of her home, Raymeica Kelly explains how her mother, sister and herself were turned away from the Energy Assistance Program on Wednesday morning after standing in line for four hours. All three complained that the system the Macon-Bibb County Economic Opportunity Council uses to give out the assistance needs improving.
This image shows Earhart standing in front of the Lockheed Electra in which she disappeared in July 1937. Born in Atchison, Kansas, in 1897, Earhart did not begin flying until after her move to California in 1920. After taking lessons from aviation pioneer Neta Snook in a Curtiss Jenny, Earhart set out to break flying records, breaking the women altitude records in 1922.
By SEAN MURPHY, Associated Press Sean Murphy, Associated Press – Sat Dec 18, 12:47 am ET
NORMAN, Okla. – The three bone fragments turned up on a deserted South Pacific island that lay along the course Amelia Earhart was following when she vanished. Nearby were several tantalizing artifacts: some old makeup, some glass bottles and shells that had been cut open.
Now scientists at the University of Oklahoma hope to extract DNA from the tiny bone chips in tests that could prove Earhart died as a castaway after failing in her 1937 quest to become the first woman to fly around the world.
"There's no guarantee," said Ric Gillespie, director of the International Group for Historic Aircraft Recovery, a group of aviation enthusiasts in Delaware that found the pieces of bone this year while on an expedition to Nikumaroro Island, about 1,800 miles south of Hawaii.
"You only have to say you have a bone that may be human and may be linked to Earhart and people get excited. But it is true that, if they can get DNA, and if they can match it to Amelia Earhart's DNA, that's pretty good."
It could be months before scientists know for sure — and it could turn out the bones are from a turtle. The fragments were found near a hollowed-out turtle shell that might have been used to collect rain water, but there were no other turtle parts nearby.
Earhart's disappearance on July 2, 1937, remains one of the 20th century's most enduring mysteries. Did she run out of fuel and crash at sea? Did her Lockheed Electra develop engine trouble? Did she spot the island from the sky and attempt to land on a nearby reef?
"What were her last moments like? What was she doing? What happened?" asked Robin Jensen, an associate professor of communications at Purdue University in West Lafayette, Ind., who has studied Earhart's writings and speeches.
Since 1989, Gillespie's group has made 10 trips to the island, trying each time to find clues that might help determine the fate of Earhart and her navigator, Fred Noonan.
Last spring, volunteers working at what seemed to be an abandoned campsite found one piece of bone that appeared to be from a neck and another unknown fragment dissimilar to bird or fish bones. A third fragment might be from a finger. The largest of the pieces is just over an inch long.
The area was near a site where native work crews found skeletal remains in 1940. Bird and fish carcasses suggested Westerners had prepared meals there.
"This site tells the story of how someone or some people attempted to live as castaways," Gillespie said Friday in an interview with The Associated Press. "These fish weren't eaten like Pacific Islanders" eat fish.
Millions of dollars have been spent in failed attempts to learn what happened to Earhart, a Kansas native declared dead by a California court in early 1939.
The official version says Earhart and Noonan ran out of fuel and crashed at sea while flying from Lae, New Guinea, to Howland Island, which had a landing strip and fuel.
Gillespie's book "Finding Amelia: The True Story of the Earhart Disappearance," and "Amelia Earhart's Shoes," written by four volunteers from the aircraft group, suggest the pair landed on the reef and survived, perhaps for months, on scant food and rainwater.
Gillespie, a pilot, said the aviator would have needed only about 700 feet of unobstructed space to land because her plane would have been traveling only about 55 mph at touchdown.
"It looks like she could have landed successfully on the reef surrounding the island. It's very flat and smooth," Gillespie said. "At low tide, it looks like this place is surrounded by a parking lot."
However, Gillespie said, the plane, even if it landed safely, would have been slowly dragged into the sea by the tides. The waters off the reef are 1,000 to 2,000 feet deep. His group needs $3 million to $5 million for a deep-sea dive.
The island is on the course Earhart planned to follow from Lae, New Guinea, to Howland Island, which had a landing strip and fuel. Over the last seven decades, searches of the remote atoll have been inconclusive.
After the latest find, anthropologists who had previously worked with Gillespie's group suggested that he send the bones to the University of Oklahoma's Molecular Anthropology Laboratory, which has experience extracting genetic material from old bones. Gillespie's group also has a genetic sample from an Earhart female relative for comparison with the bones.
The lab is looking for mitochondrial DNA, which is passed along only through females, so there is no need to have a Noonan sample.
Cecil Lewis, an assistant professor of anthropology at the lab, said the university received a little more than a gram of bone fragments about two weeks ago. If researchers are able to extract DNA and link it to Earhart, a sample would be sent to another lab for verification.
"Extraordinary claims require extraordinary evidence. That's why we're trying to downplay a lot of the media attention right now," Lewis said. "For all we know, this is just a turtle bone, and a lot of people are going to be very disheartened."
Under the best circumstances, the analysis would take two weeks. If scientists have trouble with the sample, that time frame could stretch into months, Lewis said.
"Ancient DNA is incredibly unpredictable," he said.
Other material recovered this year also suggested the presence of Westerners at the isolated island site:
• Someone carried shells ashore before cutting them open and slicing out the meat. Islanders cut the meat out at sea.
• Bottles found nearby were melted on the bottom, suggesting they had been put into a fire, possibly to boil water. (A Coast Guard unit on the island during World War II would have had no need to boil water.)
• Bits of makeup were found. The group is checking to see which products Earhart endorsed and whether an inventory lists specific types of makeup carried on her final trip.
• A glass bottle with remnants of lanolin and oil, possibly hand lotion.
In 2007, the group found a piece of a pocket knife but didn't know whether it was left by the Coast Guard or castaways. This year, it found the shattered remains of the knife, suggesting someone had smashed it to extract the blades. Gillespie speculated a castaway used a blade to make a spear to stab shallow-water fish like those found at the campsite.
Following Earhart's disappearance, distress signals picked up by distant ships pointed back to the area of Nikumaroro Island, but while pilots passing over saw signs of recent habitation, the island was crossed off the list as having been searched, Gillespie said.
In 1940, a British overseer on the island recovered a partial human skeleton, a woman's shoe and an empty sextant box at what appeared to be a former campsite, littered with turtle, clamshell and bird remains.
Thinking of Earhart, the overseer sent the items to Fiji, where a British doctor decided they belonged to a stocky European or mixed-blood male, ruling out any Earhart connection.
The bones later vanished, but in 1998, Gillespie's group located the doctor's notes in London. Two other forensic specialists reviewed the doctor's bone measurements and agreed they were more "consistent with" a female of northern European descent, about Earhart's age and height.
On their own visits to the island, volunteers recovered an aluminum panel that could be from an Electra, another piece of a woman's shoe and a "cat's paw" heel dating from the 1930s; another shoe heel, possibly a man's, and an oddly cut piece of clear Plexiglas.
The sextant box might have been Noonan's. The woman's shoe and heel resemble a blucher-style oxford seen in a pre-takeoff photo of Earhart. The plastic shard is the exact thickness and curvature of an Electra's side window.
The body of evidence is intriguing, but Gillespie insists the team is "constantly agonizing over whether we are being dragged down a path that isn't right."
Hmmm the games a foot!
Friday, December 17, 2010
WikiLeaker Bradley Manning ‘Very Annoyed’ With ‘Torturous’ Solitary Confinement
Posted on December 15, 2010 at 6:45 pm by Meredith Jessup
Is Pfc. Bradley Manning actually being tortured?
According to left-leaning Salon.com, yes. But according to most reasonable people, absolutely not.
As you may know, Army Private Bradley Manning stands accused of leaking tens of thousands of classified national security documents to WikiLeaks to publish on the internet. The 22-year-old has been detained at the U.S. Marine brig in Quantico, Va., for five months after being arrested and held in a military jail in Kuwait.
According to Fox News, Manning was exposed after bragging he was the one who leaked classified videos and hundreds of thousands of sensitive diplomatic cables.
Pfc. Manning was charged on July 5 with four specifications under Article 92 of the Uniform Code of Military Justice for violating Army Regulation 25-2 (Information Assurance Policy), and eight specifications under Article 134 for violating federal statutes related to the receipt of classified information (18 U.S.C. 793) and wrongful access of a government computer (18 U.S.C. 1030).
But while he remains in military custody, some of Mannings’ sympathizers are supporting him from outside his jail cell.
On Wednesday, Salon’s Greg Greenwald wrote about the “inhumane conditions” of Manning’s detention, claiming the detainee’s solitary confinement and inability to read newspaper or surf the internet amount to “torture.”
From the beginning of his detention, Manning has been held in intensive solitary confinement. For 23 out of 24 hours every day — for seven straight months and counting — he sits completely alone in his cell. Even inside his cell, his activities are heavily restricted; he’s barred even from exercising and is under constant surveillance to enforce those restrictions. For reasons that appear completely punitive, he’s being denied many of the most basic attributes of civilized imprisonment, including even a pillow or sheets for his bed (he is not and never has been on suicide watch). For the one hour per day when he is freed from this isolation, he is barred from accessing any news or current events programs.
In sum, Manning has been subjected for many months without pause to inhumane, personality-erasing, soul-destroying, insanity-inducing conditions of isolation… Just by itself, the type of prolonged solitary confinement to which Manning has been subjected for many months is widely viewed around the world as highly injurious, inhumane, punitive, and arguably even a form of torture.
An organization founded to provide funding for Manning’s legal defense calls his detention “unjust” and has even set up a campaign to send the imprisoned Private holiday greetings. Meanwhile, Huffington Post reports that Manning himself is “very annoyed” with his current situation.
“We were aware of those situations and we were hoping that they would improve without applying public pressure through the media,” Jeff Paterson, who runs Manning’s legal defense fund, told The Huffington Post. “His attorney and supporters were hoping that this could be taken care of through the appropriate channels.”
Paterson says that Manning is “very annoyed” at the conditions of his confinement, adding that he is primarily upset at his inability to exercise. “He sits in this small box, for the most part only to take a shower – he just sits and eats and four months have gone by.”
Manning may face additional charges and his trial date will be set after the military conducts a thorough assessment of his mental state and ability to stand trial.
Gee that is too bad. I feel for you, no really...
A legacy of Islamic women...
God save them.
Tuesday, December 7, 2010
Monday, December 6, 2010
...Right now, there is some consideration being put into the creation of a local currency for El Paso County in Colorado. It would operate in a similar manner to Berkshares, the Plenty, The Lewes Pound, and The Icatha Hour... more...
...Dowling Duncan — a graphic design firm with offices in San Francisco and Newark, England — thinks that American currency needs a new look, so its designers have submitted an entry in the "Dollar Rede$ign Project," which bills itself as a movement to "rebuild financial confidence and revive our failing economy" by rebranding the U.S. dollar... more...
It just gets worse and worse...
...Obama aside, Dowling Duncan eschews the traditional presidential portrait in favor of higher-concept graphic images on the bills. The firm envisions an American Indian teepee on the $5 bill, the Bill of Rights on the $10, a mashup of American ingenuity on the $20, a bald eagle and 50 stars on the $50, and FDR's image and a list of his accomplishments in his first 100 days as president on the C-note...
Does that mean the Obama note will have his only accomplishments on his 1 dollar note? If there is only one is that a list?
Because of a problem with the presses, the federal government has shut down production of its flashy new $100 bills, and has quarantined more than 1 billion of them -- more than 10 percent of all existing U.S. cash -- in a vault in Fort Worth, Texas, reports CNBC.
"There is something drastically wrong here," one source told CNBC. "The frustration level is off the charts."
Officials with the Treasury and the Federal Reserve had touted the new bills' sophisticated security features that were 10 years in the making, including a 3-D security strip and a color-shifting image of a bell, designed to foil counterfeiters. But it turns out the bills are so high-tech that the presses can't handle the printing job.
More than 1 billion unusable bills have been printed. Some of the bills creased during production, creating a blank space on the paper, one official told CNBC. Because correctly printed bills are mixed in with the flawed ones, even the ones printed to the correct design specs can't be used until they 're sorted. It would take an estimated 20 to 30 years to weed out the defective bills by hand, but a mechanized system is expected to get the job done in about a year.
Combined, the quarantined bills add up to $110 billion -- more than 10 percent of the entire U.S. cash supply, which now stands at around $930 billion.
The flawed bills, which cost around $120 million to print, will have to be burned.
The new bills are the first to include Treasury Secretary Tim Geithner's signature. In order to prevent a shortfall,the government has ordered production of the old design, which includes the signature of Bush administration Treasury Secretary Henry Paulson. That, surely, is not the only respect in which the nation's lead economic officials would like to turn back the clock to sometime before the 2008 financial crisis.
So let me see if I get this right. It cost 120 million to print, it will take a computer a year to sort the bad bills from the good bills, and because it has to be redone the old plates will have to be used with George Bush's signature and George Bush's Treasury Secretarys signature on them. Ok I got it. Giethner just resign and bring back the old SecTres. It will cost us less. This is the buffon administration.