Friday, October 03, 2003

What does a Million, Billion or even more in pennys look like.

Click here
Giant Guinea Pig Roamed the Earth

It would be an exterminator's worst nightmare: A 1,545-pound (700-kilogram) rodent with a voracious appetite and big teeth.

Resembling a guinea pig grown to the size of a buffalo, the animal lived millions of years ago in a South American swamp and is thought to be history's biggest rodent, researchers say this week in the journal Science.

"Imagine a weird guinea pig, but huge, with a long tail for balancing on its hind legs and continuously growing teeth," said Marcelo R. Sanchez-Villagra of the University of Tubingen in Germany. He is the first author of the study.

The formal name of the rodent is Phoberomys pattersoni. The last term is in honor of Brian Patterson, a Harvard professor who led a fossil-collection expedition to Venezuela in the 1970s. Informally, the skeleton is called Goya.

It was unearthed in a semi-desert area of Venezuela, about 250 miles (400 kilometers) west of Caracas.

Sanchez-Villagra said that when Goya lived, about six million to eight million years ago, the area was a lush paradise for the large plant eater.

"At the time it was forested and swampy with a big river and a lot of vegetation," he said.

The giant rodent grazed on grasses, which he must have eaten in large amounts to support his great size. Goya had fur, a smooth head with small ears and eyes, and that large tail that enabled it to balance on two hind legs to watch for predators, said Sanchez-Villagra.

Gilgamesh tomb believed found

The Epic Of Gilgamesh - written by a Middle Eastern scholar 2,500 years before the birth of Christ - commemorated the life of the ruler of the city of Uruk, from which Iraq gets its name.

Now, a German-led expedition has discovered what is thought to be the entire city of Uruk - including, where the Euphrates once flowed, the last resting place of its famous King.

"I don't want to say definitely it was the grave of King Gilgamesh, but it looks very similar to that described in the epic," Jorg Fassbinder, of the Bavarian department of Historical Monuments in Munich, told the BBC World Service's Science in Action programme



Thursday, October 02, 2003

Radioactive water flowed to thousands of homes

10,000 Pensacola, Gulf Breeze residents drank unsafe water for 54 months. Yet another underreported story by the U.S. Press. One would think this would get a headline or two, but Ben and J-Lo are so much more important to run stories about.

Thousands of people in Pensacola and Gulf Breeze drank water contaminated with high levels of radioactive material for more than four years.

A Superfund hazardous waste site in central Pensacola might be the source of the contamination. People were drinking the contaminated water as recently as September 2000.

A review of more than 50,000 pages of public documents reveals that for at least 54 months, between February 1996 and September 2000, more than 10,000 residents in Pensacola and Gulf Breeze were drinking water polluted with radium 226/228 at levels considered unsafe by the federal government.

All drinking water supplied by the Escambia County Utilities Authority today meets state and federal standards.

I don't feel so good.

Diesel fire not enough to explain "evaporated steel" in WTC7

Another government quote proven wrong.

A combination of an uncontrolled fire and the structural damage might have been able to bring the building down, some engineers said. But that would not explain steel members in the debris pile that appear to have been partly evaporated in extraordinarily high temperatures, Dr. [Jonathan] Barnett[, professor of fire protection engineering at the Worcester Polytechnic Institute] said.

more at underreported.com
N.C. Radio host infuriates cyclists

Clear channel prmotes running over cyclist.

G105 radio host Bob Dumas told listeners last week that he just hated to see bicycle riders on the road. He laughed at stories about running cyclists down, and he talked up the idea of throwing bottles at bikers.
It wasn't funny to cycling enthusiasts across the Triangle. This week they are lobbying government officials and local advertisers in a campaign to punish radio station WDCG and its corporate owner, Clear Channel of San Antonio, and to promote bicycle safety.

One caller said her dad had purposely hit a biker on the road on the way to church one Sunday and kept on going," said G105 listener Holly N. Proctor of Cary on Tuesday of the Sept. 21 and 22 broadcasts. "That got laughs. Bob thought that was funny.


Fury over call for selective breeding

A leading Danish psychologist has caused outrage by calling for the state to encourage the selective reproduction of children from intelligent parents and seek to stop less gifted groups having children.

"Intelligence is hereditary," said Prof Helmuth Nyborg, the dean of the Psychology Institute at Aarhus University. "The 15 to 20 per cent of those at the lower levels of society - those who are not able to manage even the simplest tasks and often not their children - should be dissuaded from having children.

"The fact is that they are having more children and the intelligent ones are having fewer."

He insisted that his proposals could not be likened to extermination policies under the Nazis.

"Hitler didn't believe in eugenics. He just wanted to exterminate individual groups, and in fact exterminated the most intelligent among them," he said.

Prof Nyborg said he was raising the issue because average intelligence was falling in Denmark and the problem needed to be addressed.

"The statistics show that more highly educated women use their time studying and at work before having children, while less educated women have more children," he said. "We could reduce the workload of intelligent women and simply pay the less intelligent not to have kids."

I fail to see the big deal.
Patriot Act kicks in at banks today

By Jeff McKinney
The Cincinnati Enquirer

Beginning today, don't be surprised if you get asked more questions than usual where you bank if you try to open a new account.

That's because Oct. 1 is when commercial banks, savings banks, credit and brokerage firms and other financial providers must comply with rules of the Patriot Act.

The new federal law basically will allow financial institutions to ask more questions about you than previously if the entity thinks that's necessary for background purposes, industry consultants told Bankrate.com.

For example, new questions might involve other accounts that can be linked to the customer; the customer's business and job; tax status; and the customer's investment objectives. For more details, visit Bankrate.com

'Free staters' pick New Hampshire to liberate for sex, guns and drugs

A libertarian movement promoting "minimalist government", the free market, drugs, prostitution and gun ownership plans to infiltrate New Hampshire to create a breakaway American regime, its leaders will announce today.
The Free State Project, which has supporters in the UK and worldwide, will reveal today at a meeting in New York that its members have voted for the small but highly-symbolic north-eastern state as its target to win power.

Project chiefs will now try to persuade 20,000 people to move to New Hampshire and sway the electorate towards blocking federal "nanny" laws and social restrictions.

Jason Sorens, a lecturer in political science at Yale University and president of the project, said he wants to create an "autonomous territory" and the Free State Project will follow the examples of the Mormons in Utah, the French separatists in Quebec, Canada, and the conservative Amish religious communities.

Tariq Aziz In Jordan: Paper

But Jordanian Information Minister Nabil al-Sherif case doubts on the authenticity of such press reports.

"Nothing official has been yet released by the Jordanian government in this respect and I myself have no information about the matter," he told IOL.

However, the minister’s statement came short of a denial which suggests that the report might be true.

"Jordan opened its borders to Iraqi brothers, including relatives and families of former Iraqi officials, such as the two daughters of (ousted president) Saddam Hussein and the wife of Tariq Aziz, who are not wanted by the Americans," he remarked.

IOL tried in vain to reach Mrs. Violette Aziz, who has been living in Jordan along with her two daughters for more than two months.

Last week, the Jordanian government rebuffed a request by Mrs. Aziz to inform her about her husband's accounts in Jordanian banks.

The government argued that it was not in a legal position to do so, noting that the Jordanian judiciary was the one and only authority to take such a decision.

However, Sherif dismissed such media reports as "groundless," pointing out that Mrs. Aziz also denied them.


looks like another Iraqi in the deck of 52 that the U.S. claims to have arrested that is still on the loose.


Wednesday, October 01, 2003

UFOs in South Carolina

UFOs are being seen in Myrtle Beach, South Carolina. "We're all in our 50s, professional people—we're not into hallucinatory drugs or anything like that," says Pam Wingfield. "People look at you funny when you tell them you've seen a UFO. But what we saw was unidentified, it was flying and it was an object."
David Wren writes in the Myrtle Beach Sun News that Pam and two other vacationers from Virginia all saw the orange and yellow glowing spheres. There have been at least six other sightings of yellow, orange or red lights floating near the horizon in the past few weeks.

Lt. Chuck Dunn, of the Myrtle Beach police, says, "We have our beach patrol investigate them for the possibility of distress flares from a large boat. We also call the local military bases to see if they have anything going on. Usually, it's Shaw Air Force Base dropping flares and doing maneuvers."

On July 6, Linda Moore caught a UFO on video from her home in South Carolina. UFO researcher Brian Vike writes that her husband noticed a bright object high in the sky and called to her to come and see it. She took video of the object with her camcorder, which has a 500 digital zoom to film it. As she zoomed in on it, the object changed shape. She recorded it for about three minutes.

Terrorists in U.S. Buying Nukes from Russia

A radioactive package on its way to the U.S. was seized in the Kiev airport. An official with the Ukraine Ministry of Emergencies says the package was emitting radiation ''at a rate which is thousands of times higher than the acceptable norm in Kiev of 0.05 milliroentgens.'' It was found in the luggage depot, and Russian diplomatic sources say this isn't the first time this kind of package has been discovered there.
Joseph Farah writes in his newsletter that after the breakup of the Soviet Union, government officials lost track of much of the former Soviet nuclear arsenal. A black market has formed in nukes, which have been selling steadily to terrorist groups. This package is especially worrying because it was being sent to a terrorist group here in the U.S.


The Bank Mafia

The number of bankruptcies has risen 400% in the past 25 years, and soon experts think that 6 million families with children—that's one in every 7—will go bankrupt. Why is everyone going broke? One reason is that, due to deteriorating schools, families stretch their dollars too far to move into neighborhoods with good schools. Another is credit card interest rates, which are higher than the "vigorish" the Mob used to charge and puts most of America's money in the pockets of a few banks.
The Bush administration initially vowed to change the law to make it harder to declare bankruptcy, but backed down due to the economic recession. Marilyn Gardner writes in Christian Science Monitor that bankruptcy expert Elizabeth Warren, who teaches law at Harvard, rejects the theory that families are throwing their money away on big-ticket luxury items like wide-screen TVs. She blames the trend on the high costs of housing, education and healthcare.

No matter how much the economy tanks, housing prices seem to do just fine. How can folks who are broke afford a new house? One reason is that interest rates are at an all-time low. But another is that, because so many of our schools are in such bad shape, families increasingly feel the necessity to buy a more expensive house in a neighborhood with good schools. And a deregulated mortgage industry allows banks to offer homeowners much larger mortgages than they did in the past.

ID cards 'gaining support'

Plans to introduce ID cards in the UK have won backing from most of the people who have given government their views, according to a Home Office minister.
More than 1,500 people and groups have taken part in the consultation over the idea, which lasts until the end of January, Lord Falconer told peers.

But even if the proposals got the go-ahead, it could be 10 years before everyone has an ID card, the minister told the House of Lords.

Under the plans, it would not be compulsory to carry an ID or entitlement card - but Lord Falconer said to be useful, the scheme would have to be universal.

The proposals have been criticised by civil liberties groups but Lord Falconer countered some of their concerns.

Bush asks for more power to fight terrorism

The Bush Administration is preparing to ask Congress for broader powers to fight terrorism and is refuting critics, including civil liberties groups and some fellow republicans, who say the government has already gone too far.

For months now, Attorney General John Ashcroft has defended the USA Patriot Act before law enforcement groups nationwide. Passed overwhelmingly by Congress in the weeks after 9-11, it gives the government updated terror fighting powers. For example, it allows roving wiretaps to monitor calls of terror suspects who switch cell phones. With just one single search warrant, federal agents can look for suspects in several cities suspected of terrorist activities:

"If we knew then what we know now, we would have passed the Patriot Act six months before September 11th, rather than six weeks after the attacks," says Ashcroft.


Tuesday, September 30, 2003

Indian government blocks Yahoo discussion groups

It's easy to control information when you don't have a Bill of Rights.

Bangalore, India-AP -- Nearly all of India has been knocked off Yahoo's popular discussion forums.

The government was trying to ban an Internet forum run by an obscure separatist movement that wants a slice of the country's northeast to secede from the rest of India.

India's Computer Emergency Response Team -- a group that normally deals with hackers and virus attacks -- ordered the discussion group blocked for promoting material against the government. But for technical reasons, it had to shut down every Yahoo discussion group.

Other sections of the Web site were unaffected.

A businessman who uses other Yahoo groups says the ban "goes against the concept of freedom of speech." The press freedom advocacy group Reporters Without Borders has also criticized the ban.

Sites like Yahoo and Google allow users to create and subscribe to electronic discussion forums. The groups are used for everything from keeping in touch with friends to discussing politics.

Would you want your teenage daughter to read this? No way, says outraged Geldof

It would be unfair to say the editors of teenage girls' magazines have a one-track mind; after all, they also like J Lo, shift dresses from Top Shop, and perfect nails. But they do seem particularly keen on sex.

"Your guide to after-school snogs," screams the cover of this month's Sugar. "Sex survey results: the shocking truth you couldn't tell your parents," yells J-17. "You and guys and sex," shrieks Cosmo Girl!.

Yesterday, one parent, a father of three teenage children, hit back. And he is not just any parent. Bob Geldof, the rock star and charity hero, compared the publications to grown men who get sexual thrills from underage girls.

On a BBC2 programme, Grumpy Old Men, to be shown next week, Sir Bob asks: "Are they any less offensive than a 22-year-old man going to an 11- or 12-year-old girl and saying, 'I am going to talk to you about sex and how girls can give blow jobs to men?' If such a conversation happened, you would view it as odd, probably illegal and certainly predatory."

Sir Bob, father of Pixie, 13, Peaches, 15, and Fifi Trixibelle, 19, adds: "There is something predatory because they are made by adult men and women. Is it because of my age that makes me feel they are wrong? I don't think so. I would have objected to them when I was 20."

Sir Bob's anger centres on several magazines. Mizz, Bliss, J-17, Sugar and CosmoGirl! carry sex advice and sexually themed features for a readership with an average age of 15 or below. His criticisms are supported by Robert Whelan, director of the pressure group, Family and Youth Concern.

FBI bypasses First Amendment to nail a hacker

Citing a provision of the Patriot Act, the FBI is sending letters to journalists telling them to secretly prepare to turn over their notes, e-mails and sources to the bureau. Should we throw out the First Amendment to nail a hacker, writes SecurityFocus columnist Mark Rasch.

Frequent readers of this space know that I am no apologist for hackers like Adrian Lamo, who, in the guise of protection, access others' computer systems without authorization, and then publicize these vulnerabilities.

When Lamo did this to the New York Times, he violated two of my cardinal rules: Don't make enemies with people appointed for life by the President of the United States; and don't make enemies of people who buy their ink by the gallon.


Monday, September 29, 2003

34.6 Million U.S. People in Poverty in 2002 - Report

More than 1.7 million people in the United States slid into poverty in 2002 and incomes slipped for the second year in a row, the U.S. government said on Friday in a report sure to provide new ammunition for Democrats trying to unseat President Bush.

The Census Bureau's annual report showed the number of people living below the poverty line rose to 34.6 million last year, from 32.9 million in 2001, when the national economy first went into recession.

A family of four with two children was considered to be living in poverty in 2002 if its total income was $18,244 or less.

A sluggish recovery has failed to create new jobs for the 3.3 million private sector employees who have been thrown out of work since Bush took office in January 2001.

The report said the real median income fell 1.1 percent last year to $42,409. The percentage of the population living in poverty grew for the second year in a row to 12.1 percent, from 11.7 percent in 2001.

Bush, who faces re-election in 2004, blames the Sept. 11 attacks and a wave of corporate scandals for the economy's failure to pull more quickly and strongly out of the recession of early 2001.

He says tax cuts he has pushed through will fix the nation's economic malaise and says they are already starting to show results.

But Democrats blame the tax cuts themselves in large part for the soft economy, as well as bulging federal deficits that have abruptly taken the place of fat surpluses projected just a few years ago.

© 2003 Reuters

Europe's first moon mission blasts off

The Ariane-5 rocket carrying the SMART-1 moon exploration probe and two commercial satellites blasted off at 8.14 p.m. (2314 GMT) from the European Space Agency (ESA) launch center at Kourou, in French Guiana on the northeast coast of South America.

Forty-one minutes after launch, the rocket released SMART-1 into space to begin a 15-month journey to reach lunar orbit. The 370 kg (815 lb) probe will scan the moon for up to 30 months.

SMART-1 will cover a distance of 100 million kilometers (62 million miles) to reach the moon with only 60 liters of fuel," Giuseppe RACCA, ESA Project Manager said before the launch.

"The main form of propulsion will be electric, charged by the satellite's solar panels," he said.

The probe will provide data on the still uncertain origin of the moon and has been described by ESA as an important instrument "to unraveling some of the secrets of our neighboring world."

"Thirty-five years after Apollo and the Russian missions, there remains much we don't know about the moon," David Southwood, ESA's Director of Scientific Programs, told a news conference in Kourou.

"With SMART-1 we can test propulsion in deep-space orbit. The next step, I hope, will be a Mars mission," he said.

ESA has hailed SMART-1 as an example of a 'faster, better, cheaper' mission costing only 110 million euros ($126 million) -- about one-fifth of a major ESA science mission. It is designed to operate in lunar orbit for up to 30 months.

The rocket also carries an INSAT 3-E satellite for the Indian Space Research Organization and e-bird for the Paris-based satellite operator Eutelsat.

Originally scheduled for launch earlier in the year, the mission was postponed due to technical problems aboard INSAT 3-E.

CIA condemned for flawed intelligence on Iraqi weapons

The intelligence used by the CIA to conclude that Iraq had weapons of mass destruction and had links to al-Qa'ida has been severely criticised by leaders of a high-ranking Congressional committee as being "outdated, circumstantial, piecemeal and fragmentary". They said the agency's ability to gather fresh information had "significant deficiencies".

In a scathing attack on the information cited by President George Bush and his senior officials as they made their case for war, the leaders of the House of Representatives Intelligence Committee, said the CIA had relied on "past assessments" that dated from 1998 when UN weapons inspectors left Iraq.

"The absence of proof that chemical and biological weapons and their related development programmes had been destroyed was considered proof that they continued to exist," the committee leaders said in a letter to the CIA director, George Tenet.

Secret Spells Barbie


Transform Barbie from an ordinary girl to one of the Charm Girls. Just put on Barbie's "enchanted" Charm Girl jacket and she's ready to mix up delicious potions that you can really drink. Barbie comes with costume, dragonfly, mixing pot, stand, spoon, stirrer, three bottles, book with a secret compartment, and two packets of "magic" powder (sugar-based mixes you mix with water). Barbie measures approximately 11.5 inches tall.


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