Through The Static

April 30, 2008

DNA confirms IDs of czar’s children, ending mystery

Filed under: History — Tranimal @ 10:19 pm

AP:

For nine decades after Bolshevik executioners gunned down Czar Nicholas II and his family, there were no traces of the remains of Crown Prince Alexei, the hemophiliac heir to Russia’s throne.

Some said the delicate 13-year-old had somehow survived and escaped; others believed his bones were lost in Russia’s vastness, buried in secret amid fear and chaos as the country lurched into civil war.

Now an official says DNA tests have solved the mystery by identifying bone shards found in a forest as those of Alexei and his sister, Grand Duchess Maria.

Now you can stop hunting now Peter and Alice, they’ve all been found. Your dreams of discovering the bones of the last remains of the Czar’s family. Womp.

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U.S. Releases “Terror” Report

Filed under: Politics,World News — disciplepete @ 6:23 pm

So the U.S. State Department released its annual “Country Reports on Terrorism” report, accusing some countries of sponsoring terrorism…did your favorite country make the list? Al Jazeera:

The US has said Iran remains the “most active” state sponsor of what it calls “terrorism”.
The report also listed Syria, North Korea, Cuba and Sudan as backers of what it called terror groups.
 
 
 

The Venezuelan government of Hugo Chavez was accused of failing to co-operate with US anti-terrorist efforts, the report said.

 

Re: Afghanistan and Iraq:
The report also said attacks by fighters in Afghanistan rose by 16 per cent between 2006 and 2007 partly because of rise in al-Qaeda activity in neighbouring Pakistan.
The US said that al-Qaeda had built up its operations in Pakistan’s tribal areas over the course of the year.
The US said attacks in Iraq dropped slightly between 2006 and 2007 but they accounted for 60 per cent of worldwide terrorism fatalities.

The End of Everything

Filed under: Science — disciplepete @ 11:20 am

This article talks about the end of human life, the end of our planet, the sun, the Milky Way, stars, and the universe. It’s based on the projections of scientists. Some of the projections seem more legit than others; the argument about human life ending in 10,000 years isn’t well supported. Also, it seems kinda crazy to place too much faith in predictions of what’s gonna happen in 10 to the 100th power years. But I can roll with some of this, and it’s interesting stuff to consider. Here’s some highlights…from Universe Today:

End of Life – 500 million years – 5 billion years
We thank the Sun for giving us energy. Without it, there’d be no life on Earth. It’s ironic, then, that the Sun will eventually kill all life on Earth.

That’s because the Sun is slowly heating up…In as soon as 500 million years, temperatures on Earth will rise to the point that most of the world will be a desert. The largest creatures won’t be able to survive anywhere but the relatively cooler poles…

…Finally, it’ll be so hot on the surface of the Earth that the oceans will boil away. There’ll be no place to hide from the terrible temperatures. Only the organisms that live deep underground will survive, as they have already for billions of years…

End of the Earth – 7.5 billion years
In approximately 5 billion years from now, the Sun will begin the final stage of its life, consuming the last of its hydrogen fuel supply. At that point, gravity will force the Sun to collapse, and only a small amount of hydrogen will remain in a shell wrapped around the star’s core. It will then expand into a red giant star, consuming each of the inner planets: first Mercury, then Venus, and finally encompassing even the orbit of Earth…

…Whatever the outcome, the Earth will be scorched to a cinder, and effectively destroyed, 5 billion years from now.

You get the picture…check  out the article, it keeps going all the way to describing the “end of everything.” It’s ASTRONUTS!!

Hi, Hi to all the American Pies…

Filed under: Economics,Food,Government,Military,Politics,Uncategorized,World News — bobbleheadedbob @ 6:57 am

It’s all fun, fun, fun at Camp Stryker, where you can see our girls and boys with their Playstation toys, their brand-spanking new Harley Davidsons, their 6-dollar burgers dripping in blood beef juices ketchup.

Bloated in BaghdadTruthdig:

CAMP STRYKER, Iraq—The first warning that many U.S. troops receive here in Baghdad isn’t about the rampant IEDs (improvised explosive devices), or the RPGs (rocket propelled grenades), or even the EFPs (explosively formed projectiles). It’s about the PCPs: the pervasive combat paunches.

As I wait for my C-130 flight from Kuwait to western Baghdad, a soldier tells me about a PowerPoint slide that’s becoming popular in Army briefings: “Back in 2003, the average soldier lost 15 pounds during his tour of Iraq,” he recounts. “Now, he gains 10.”

Arriving at Camp Stryker, I get to savor the dilemma firsthand. My low-slung Army tent is pitched just down the road from a Pizza Hut, a Burger King and a Green Beans Coffee—the war-zone cousin of Starbucks that sells mocha frappes for a cheeky $4.25. Around the corner sits a massive chow hall run by former Halliburton subsidiary KBR Inc. where troops load up on four varieties of fried meats and five flavors of Baskin Robbins. The facility is billed as “all-you-can-eat,” and, trust me, soldiers do.

Traveling all the way to a war zone to report on military calorie counts may seem like the height of triviality, especially as Baghdad’s security situation implodes. But Camp Stryker’s butterball cuisine is more than a frivolous aside; it’s an entree into the general engorgement of the war itself.

Damn, Sarah Stillman’s a great writer. I have no cheeky comments as of yet to contribute.

Where, for instance, do the mountains of beef patties, pecan pies and Coco Puffs come from? The Houston-based KBR farms out most of its $27-billion government contract to Gulf states middlemen, who greet initial food shipments in Kuwait. Low-wage Pakistani and Nepali subcontractors then distribute the goods to U.S. mess halls, where even lower-wage Indians and Sri Lankans prepare them for the troops. All along the route are markups galore, sometimes exceeding 500 percent.

This logistical gravy train creates the unchecked fat on America’s profile here in Baghdad. The bloat applies to basic counterinsurgency strategy, too. Even after Gen. David Petraeus shifted several units out of giant bases and into Joint Security Stations—humbler urban outposts where soldiers, to use the general’s words, live “among those we are trying to protect”—the average U.S. camp remains a behemoth and a glutton. Over 70 percent of American troops here are classified as “support” forces, meaning they may never step outside the wire to engage in local operations or address community grievances over a customary glass of chai. These big-base bureaucrats are known to front-line soldiers as “Fobbits”—a play on the acronym for “forward-operating base” (FOB) that echoes J.R.R. Tolkien’s plump, provincial milquetoasts.

Ah, what the heck — might as well give you the rest of this article.

The whole scenario unfolds to the ironic soundtrack of “support the troops.” The FOB experience in Iraq, particularly on larger posts, is defined by countless privatized efforts to console and distract: mini-marts where soldiers can buy PlayStations and Harley-Davidsons; KBR recreation facilities where they can shoot pool or take salsa lessons; fast food joints where they can kick back with a non-alcoholic beer and a personalized pizza. Such perks ostensibly make soldiers feel more at home. But many insist that the surreal arrangement only highlights what they’ve been asked to leave behind. A baseline fact remains: Troops’ psyches can’t be bought with bikes or bacon double cheeseburgers (or re-enlistment bonuses, or college loans, or fill-in-the-latest-bait)—especially after Gen. George Casey’s acknowledgment that “the current demand for our forces exceeds the sustainable supply.”

Passing time in a rec tent back in Kuwait, I chat with a soft-spoken 28-year-old sergeant who is preparing to fly back into the caldron of Baghdad’s Sadr City after three weeks of R&R in Georgia. In a room strewn with crepe paper palm trees and plastic hula skirts left over from the previous night’s “Spring Fling Luau,” the two of us look like attendees at a cornball junior prom. But the sergeant’s mind is a long way from such frivolities: He has recently lost his squad leader, and two other soldiers from his area of operations were killed a few days later.

Burying his head in his hands as we talk, he says: “All the Burger Kings in the world wouldn’t be enough for this. Some of us are on our third or fourth tours, and we just can’t do this anymore—we really can’t.”

::processing::

How American is that? It’s as though someone’s taken every single bad American stereotype and neo-liberated it to come play in this high-definition bemusement park/mini mall. Looks like while Mom and Pop are workin their kids hard for the money, they’ve got to keep them “outta trouble” somehow. Ok, Junior, help Ma hide her coke stash and I’ll double your allowance. Baby Girl, if you could just keep an eye on daddy’s briefcase you can have that Playstation3 I know you’ve been eyeing.  What?  What’s that?  Look, I don’t have time for this — I’m just gonna drop y’all of at the mall, okay? Here’s twenty bucks. Now go.

Let’s do the math: 80’s material excess + 90’s mall culture = Camp Stryker!

April 29, 2008

Obama Distances Himself From Rev. Wright

Filed under: Politics,Race — disciplepete @ 5:27 pm

Obama has (finally) taken an unequivocal stance against comments from his former pastor, Jeremiah Wright. These particular comments Obama is reacting against are ones Wright made over the weekend at some speaking engagements. If you haven’t seen Wright’s performances this weekend, I highly recommend you check ’em out. I saw his talk at an NAACP event, it was deep and had me cracking up at certain parts. The dude is very entertaining… I need to get him for my next birthday party. Anyway, Obama’s got beef with him now. NYT:

WINSTON-SALEM, N.C. — Senator Barack Obama broke forcefully on Tuesday with his former pastor, the Rev. Jeremiah A. Wright Jr., in an effort to curtail a drama of race, values, patriotism and betrayal that has enveloped his presidential candidacy at a critical juncture.

At a news conference here, Mr. Obama denounced remarks Mr. Wright made in a series of televised appearances over the last several days suggesting that the United States had been attacked because it engaged in terrorism on other people, that the government was capable of having used the AIDS virus to commit genocide against minorities and casting Louis Farrakhan, the leader of the Nation of Islam, in a positive light…

“I’m outraged by the comments that were made and saddened over the spectacle that we saw yesterday,” Mr. Obama said. He added, “I find these comments appalling. It contradicts everything that I’m about and who I am.”

Howard Dean: Obama Or Clinton Must Drop Out In June

Filed under: Politics — disciplepete @ 4:58 pm

Might the drama end in June? Huffington Post:

WASHINGTON — Democratic Party Chairman Howard Dean said Monday that either Hillary Rodham Clinton or Barack Obama must drop out of the Democratic presidential race after the June primaries in order to unify the party by the convention and win the election in November.

But Dean didn’t say which candidate should drop out, only that it should happen after primary voters have been to the polls.

“We want the voters to have their say. That’s over on June 3,” Dean said in an interview on ABC’s “Good Morning America.”

 

‘Free Tibet’ flags made in China

Filed under: World News — disciplepete @ 4:53 pm

BBC:

Police in southern China have discovered a factory manufacturing Free Tibet flags, media reports say.

The factory in Guangdong had been completing overseas orders for the flag of the Tibetan government-in-exile.

Workers said they thought they were just making colourful flags and did not realise their meaning.

But then some of them saw TV images of protesters holding the emblem and they alerted the authorities, according to Hong Kong’s Ming Pao newspaper…

…Thousands of flags had already been packed for shipping.

Police believe that some may already have been sent overseas, and could appear in Hong Kong during the Olympic torch relay there this week.

The authorities have now stepped up the inspection of cars heading to the Shenzhen Special Economic Zone and onwards to Hong Kong.

April 28, 2008

Clinton Criticizing Closure of Indiana Factory That Clinton Helped Close

Filed under: Economics,Government,Politics — disciplepete @ 5:20 pm

I haven’t been bashing Hillary on here much, and thus feel that I am failing in life. Hillary has ran an ad (and I think I saw her talking about this on TV) about this defense manufacturing plant that closed in Indiana and moved to China. The jobs and sensitive military technology went to China, and Hillary bemoans this tragedy, blaming it on W. Problem is, her husband is the one who allowed it to happen. Huffington Post:

Clinton is certainly right that it is a tragedy that 200 American jobs were killed in a corporate deal that also exported sensitive military technology to China. But she forgets to mention that it wasn’t George Bush who was in the key position to stop it — it was Bill Clinton.

Back in 1995, a Chinese consortium, which included two Chinese state-owned companies, made a bid to take over Magnequench. Because the company makes key parts for smart bombs, the takeover had to be approved by the Clinton administration’s Committee on Foreign Investments in the United States. Despite the national security and economic problems with selling off such critical manufacturing capacity to the Chinese — and despite the knowledge that such a deal would likely end in a domestic mass layoff — the Clinton administration approved the deal. This same deal — not surprisingly — paved the way for those 200 Indiana jobs and that sensitive military technology to be shipped to China.

The Clinton administration’s move was not surprising. This was an administration whose NAFTA and China PNTR record more than proved it was intent on helping Big Money interests face as little resistance to international financial transactions as possible — consequences be damned.

School Superintendent Threatened over Pledge of Allegiance in Spanish

Filed under: Culture,Education,Race — disciplepete @ 5:05 pm

Xenophobes gone wild…

The Progressive: The Pledge of Allegiance is creating an uproar in a high school in southern Wisconsin. Not the Pledge itself, but the language it’s recited in.

For many years now, Edgerton High School in Wisconsin has allowed students in its Spanish class to recite the Pledge of Allegiance in Spanish over the Intercom one day of the school year. It also invites foreign exchange students (the school now has three) to say it in their own language.

This year, when Spanish students recited the Pledge on March 11, it caused a ruckus.

Parents complained. They demanded that the Spanish teacher, the principal, and the superintendent be fired. And they intend to press the issue at the school board meeting on April 28.

The superintendent, Dr. Norman Fjelstad, has even been physically threatened.

Oh, don’t worry, these intellectual heavyweights have good reasons for being upset:

“This is America; we speak English,” said Dix, who retired from the National Guard last year. “I don’t want any of my three boys coming home saying, ‘Dad, we did the Pledge of Allegiance in Spanish.’ ”

His son Kyle told the paper that he thought it was disrespectful to the troops…

…One said: “I go to Edgerton High School and I don’t appreciate Mexicans saying the Pledge in Spanish. . . . If you think Mexicans can waltz right in this school and have an influence on these American students, then you’re wrong. This is America, home of the free and not the illegal.”

The Superintendent defends the foreign language Pledge:

“I’ve heard their frustration,” says Superintendent Fjelstad. “I understand what they’re saying. They feel it dishonors our troops serving in Iraq and Afghanistan. My response is this: I know there are 400 Hispanic speaking soldiers that won’t disagree with them. They can’t disagree because they gave their lives in Iraq and Afghanistan. However, there are 110,000 Spanish-speaking Hispanics serving in the military that I believe would agree with me that speaking Spanish does not dishonor the military.”…

…On top of that, Fjelstad invokes the First Amendment to the Constitution. “Government should never mandate that the Pledge or the National Anthem be said in one language,” he says.

Well, the school board is supposed to be addressing the issue today. It’s a sign of the times that it’s just now that this Pledge is causing such a controversy, when it’s been going on for years.

Mebbe Miss Cleo Wasn’t So Full o Cowpies…MEBBE

Filed under: Miss Cleo,Musings,Randomness,Research,Science,Technology,Uncategorized,World News — bobbleheadedbob @ 9:47 am

Not saying we should use to play the stock market or influence or decisions at the polls, but I found this interesting indeed!

Newsmonster:

Britain’s Biggest Banks Use Astrology to Play the Markets

Christeen is one of a growing, albeit secretive, network of astrologers who work for seemingly conservative British institutions such as high street banks, City investment funds and retailers. Desperate to avoid financial meltdown in the ongoing ‘credit crunch’ and to spot fashions and consumer trends before they start, these institutions have turned to the stars to divine the future.

“Most academics distrust astrology and regard it as mumbo-jumbo,” she says. “The thing is, it works. Nobody’s sure how it works but it does. Most of my clients are businesspeople who are very canny. If it didn’t work for them, then why would they use it?”

One of Christeen’s clients is Judith Levy, chief executive of the High and Mighty retail chain.

“I’m fairly pragmatic,” says Judith. “I will only spend money on an astrologer if the decision I have to take is very important – the kind of decision which will cost me a lot of money if I get it wrong.

“When we launched our Kayak brand a few years ago we used astrology to decide the launch date. Since then, it has gone from strength to strength. It’s one of our best selling brands.”

Mmm hmmm… ::looks up:: Whaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaat?  All I said was “Mmm HMMM…”

“It’s just not true,” [ Professor Chris French, a parapsychologist at Goldsmiths, University of London] says. “Hundreds of studies disprove astrology. There are all kinds of reasons why people might want to believe in these things for solid psychological reasons but that does not make astrology true.”

Dr Percy Seymour, an astrophysicist recently retired from Plymouth University, disagrees. He’s spent decades studying astrology and has come up with a theory as to how it might actually work. Crucially, his ideas do not violate any of the laws of physics although they may over-tax some people’s credulity.

Dr Seymour believes that low frequency magnetic fields emanating from the sun interact with those of the Earth, which in turn affects the functioning of the human brain.

“The magnetic field of the sun can be affected by the movement and position of the planets,” he says. “Having said all that, I don’t believe that the cosmos controls us but it can influence us.”

It’s a neat theory but does it stand up to scrutiny?

Jim Porter, chief technical analyst for one of the UK’s largest banks, believes it does. He uses heliocentric magi astrology to predict the direction of the international financial markets. Millions of pounds worth of commodities, shares and currencies are traded on his command. His decisions may affect the value of your pension, your home, and perhaps decide whether or not you have a job tomorrow.

When I spoke to him late last year, he told me that the position of the planets indicated a 3.2 percent fall in the American markets. The following week they duly fell 3.5 percent.

“My attitude is that if you can test it, and it works, then it’s just another tool that you can use to predict the direction of the markets,” he says.

“I have tested it and astrology works. Used with other techniques it can give you confidence, and the more confidence you have, the bigger the risks you can take.”

Jim has recently compiled a report for a major central bank charting the likely economic trends of the coming few years. According to Jim’s forecasts, the economy and the financial and housing markets all face a rocky road and have a dismal short-term future.

Que interesante…

“At the moment,” he says. “Mars in Cancer is in opposition to Pluto in Capricorn. This indicates a polarisation of opposing sentiments – turmoil, in other words. This cycle ends around 6th April.”

“Sentiment will then recover and will turn down in early August. That phase will last for 4-5 weeks. There will be another shake in October.

“In 2012 we’ll be entering the precession of the equinoxes, which is the most important thing that’s happened in the last 26,000 years. That suggests that something mega is going to happen. There will be a huge change in the world’s psychology caused by a huge natural disaster or a massive change in spiritual beliefs.

“We have an interesting four years ahead of us.”

AstroNUTS or not, THIS is something I can, indeed, agree upon.

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