Making Unique Observations in a Very Cluttered World

Saturday, 30 October 2010

U.S. govt has revealed that it spent an astounding $80.1 B last year on intelligence -

U.S. govt has revealed that it spent an astounding $80.1 B last year on intelligence - 

Now that that the U.S. government has revealed that it spent an astounding $80.1 billion last year on intelligence the veteran lawmaker responsible for oversight of the nation’s 16 intelligence agencies vows to cut waste.
This may cause some Americans to wonder what California Democrat Dianne Feinstein, chair of the Senate Intelligence Committee, and her colleagues on the panel have been doing. While the nation’s intelligence gathering budget has surged drastically, the committee has evidently failed to scrutinize the numbers.
Perhaps that’s because the official figures have not been available to the public for more than a decade because U.S. intelligence agencies have long argued that disclosing their budget appropriations would compromise national security and jeopardize sources. However, this week the government decided to share with taxpayers that in the fiscal year that just ended, more than $80 billion went to intelligence. That means the intelligence budget has doubled since 2001 and practically tripled in the last 12 years.
The figure exceeds the fiscal 2011 budget for the Department of Homeland Security ($44 billion) and the Justice Department ($29.2 billion) combined. Feinstein, who also sits on the Senate Judiciary Committee, quickly threatened to “carefully” review the intelligence budget and “identify and remove any waste and unnecessary duplication.” She added that intelligence spending has “blossomed to an unacceptable level in the past decade.”
The nation’s 16 intelligence agencies include the National Security Agency, Central Intelligence Agency, National Geospatial-Intelligence Agency and the Defense Intelligence Agency, which serves the Pentagon. Feinstein’s committee is charged with providing vigilant legislative oversight over all of the agencies’ activities and assuring that they conform to U.S. laws. Now word on what the 2011 intelligence budget might be.

Laptops might be damaging sperm - Being close to heat or other radiation from the devices seems to undermine the quality -

Laptops might be damaging sperm - Being close to heat or other radiation from the devices seems to undermine the quality - 

They are a fixture of modern human existence, but laptop computers may actually be limiting propagation of the species, suggest two new studies, one of them Canadian.
Being close to heat or other radiation from the devices seems to undermine the quality of sperm in some instances, possibly hindering fertility as a result, the research from Toronto and Argentina concluded.
The small Canadian study found that sperm exposed in a laboratory to a laptop computer had lower levels of motility — the capacity to squirm toward eggs and start the reproductive process — than unexposed sperm.
The Argentine research, presented this week at the American Society for Reproductive Medicine conference in Denver, found reductions in motility and potentially more serious DNA damage for sperm kept close to a laptop — and suggested WiFi radio waves were to blame.
The findings are preliminary but Dr. Sergey Moskovtsev, a male-fertility expert who did one of the studies at Toronto’s CReATe fertility clinic, said he suspects computers are one of a number of factors in modern life that are feeding high levels of infertility.
Although there is no conclusive evidence yet that laptops cause sperm damage, Dr. Moskovtsev, who is also a scientist at Mount Sinai Hospital, suggested men limit use of them.
“It’s our culture right now. Everything is computerized, you shop by going online, you can go to school online,” he said. “I think it has to be a healthy balance between the virtual world and reality.... Right now, it’s really over the top, the use of computers.”
The new findings follow on an American study published in 2004, which concluded that using a laptop computer for an hour raised the temperature of the scrotum by close to three degrees. Heat is known to compromise sperm production and quality.
The paper Dr. Moskovtsev and colleagues presented at the Canadian Fertility and Andrology Society conference earlier this month suggested the sperm changes were a result of thermal radiation — heat — meaning that keeping the computer off the lap might avoid problems. But he said it is possible that other factors are at play.
His study, not yet published in a peer-reviewed journal, took semen samples from 15 patients and placed some under a device that kept the heat at average scrotum temperature and others under a laptop, finding the difference in motility. The laptop heat was not linked, however, to anther type of sperm damage, called DNA fragmentation, that might affect the health of the resulting offspring as well as ability to conceive.
Dr. Moskovtsev’s team is conducting a further study on the impact of laptops on the semen of men who already have fertility problems, speculating their sperm is more likely to suffer DNA harm from computers.
The Argentine study, headed by Dr. Conrado AvendaƱo of the Nascentis reproductive medical centre in the city of Cordoba, compared semen incubated for four hours with no computer nearby, and for four hours close to a laptop. They found the computer sperm had lower motility and more DNA fragmentation.
“We speculate that keeping the laptops [in WiFi mode] on the lap near the testes may result in decreased male fertility,” the scientists say in a summary of the research.
Dr. Moskovtsev said he believes that male infertility generally — which accounts for 50% of reproductive problems faced by couples — has been given short shrift by the medical-scientific community. A number of unknown environmental factors may be affecting sperm, he said, citing a Florida study that found crocodiles living near a plastics plant had unusually small pensises.
“Everyone is talking about the female factor. It’s like in the old days: everyone would blame the wife that she could not get pregnant,” he said. “We have to educate not only our patients, but also our physicians because ... we sometimes see that someone has treated a female [for infertility] for years, but no one checked the guy.”

Read more: http://www.nationalpost.com/news/Laptops+might+damaging+sperm+studies/3742899/story.html#ixzz13saEHtVU

Friday, 29 October 2010

UK Schools Hold UFO Crash Drills - which includes gathering "wreckage," and students share and write about the experience -

UK Schools Hold UFO Crash Drills - which includes gathering "wreckage," and students share and write about the experience -

When Crosby, Stills, Nash and Young sang "Teach Your Children," do you think they meant to instruct students on how to properly investigate UFO crashes?

Well, that seems to be a trend in some U.K. schools where UFO drills have been periodically staged over the past two years, according to Dateline Zero.

In a typical drill, a UFO crash incident is created, and police arrive to show 8- to 10-year-old pupils how to handle such a scenario, which includes gathering "wreckage," and the students are encouraged to share and write about the experience.

The SoCal Martial Law Alerts website reports that Victoria Shepherd, a teacher at the Sandford Primary School in the United Kingdom, was the organizer of a recent UFO exercise.

"The children didn't know what was going on," Shepherd said. "As they approached the crash site, we could see how amazed and perplexed they were. It was a fantastic first reaction."

Shepherd said police "helped the children secure the scene and talked about what to do in an emergency, how they gathered evidence and how to interview witnesses."

The ET crash drills, which have taken place since 2008, have been jointly organized by schools and law enforcement agencies.

Interesting curriculum choice to use a UFO crash as a tool to spark children's imaginations and help improve their reading and writing skills.

Police constable Gary Densham, who took part in one of the staged UFO crashes last year at the Lanchester Endowed Parochial Primary, said, "The older pupils were asking questions about the crash site, like whether it was safe, but the younger children were convinced they'd seen the crash happen. Their imaginations were brilliant."

Read more - http://www.aolnews.com/weird-news/article/uk-schools-hold-ufo-crash-drills/19691533?test=latestnews

Happy Birthday Internet - The Day the Infant Internet Uttered its First Words - 22:30 hours on October 29, 1969 -

Happy Birthday Internet - The Day the Infant Internet Uttered its First Words - 22:30 hours on October 29, 1969 - 

The Day the Infant Internet Uttered its First Words
Leonard Kleinrock
Below is a record of the first message ever sent over the ARPANET. It took place at 22:30 hours on October 29, 1969. This record is an excerpt from the "IMP Log" that we kept at UCLA. I was supervising the student/programmer Charley Kline (CSK) and we set up a message transmission to go from the UCLA SDS Sigma 7 Host computer to the SRI SDS 940 Host computer. The transmission itself was simply to "login" to SRI from UCLA. We succeeded in transmitting the "l" and the "o" and then the system crashed! Hence, the first message on the Internet was "Lo!". We were able to do the full login about an hour later.

Read more - http://www.cs.ucla.edu/~lk/LK/Inet/1stmesg.html

Wednesday, 27 October 2010

Insider Selling Volume at Highest Level Ever Tracked - 3,177 to 1 - last 6 months sold 120M shares, bought 38,000 shares -

Insider Selling Volume at Highest Level Ever Tracked - 3,177 to 1 - last 6 months sold 120M shares, bought 38,000 shares - 

The largest companies in three of the most important leading sectors of the market have seen their executives classified as insiders sell more than 120 million shares of stock over the last six months. Top executives at these very same companies bought just 38,000 shares over that same time period, making for an eye-popping sell to buy ratio of 3,177 to one.
The grand total for the three sectors are “as awful as we have ever seen since we began doing this exercise years ago,” said Newman, who was ahead on such trends as the dangers of high-frequency trading and ETFs before the ‘Flash Crash’. “Clearly, insiders are seeing great value only in cash. Their actions speak volumes for the veracity for the current rally.”

Tuesday, 26 October 2010

White House Adviser: US Must Prepare for Asteroid - NASA is being charged to protect U.S. & entire world against an impact -

White House Adviser: US Must Prepare for Asteroid - NASA is being charged to protect U.S. & entire world against an impact - 

If an asteroid were on a collision course with Earth, would we be ready to defend against its destructive impact or would we be helpless and defenseless?

NASA, America's space agency, is being charged with leading the way to protect not only the U.S. but the entire world in the event of such a horrifying scenario. And a top White House science adviser says we have to be prepared.

In separate 10-page letters to the House Committee on Science and Technology and the Senate Committee on Commerce, Science and Transportation, John Holdren, director of the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy, or OSTP, outlines plans for "(A) protecting the United States from a near-Earth object that is expected to collide with Earth; and (B) implementing a deflection campaign, in consultation with international bodies, should one be necessary."

While Holdren indicates that no large asteroid or comet presents an immediate hazard to our planet, the fact that devastating impacts have occurred on Earth in the distant past is enough to warrant safety precautions for the future.

"Indeed, a steady stream of these objects enters the Earth's atmosphere on a daily basis, consisting mostly of dust-sized particles and estimated to total some 50 to 150 tons each day," Holdren wrote.

As remote as it may seem that Earth could be the target of a giant rock from space, nevertheless, Holdren insists that "the possibility of a future collision involving a more hazardous object should not be ignored."

Asteroids are rocky bodies found within the inner solar system, originating in an area known as the asteroid belt, located between the planets Mars and Jupiter.

If a large asteroid were to strike Earth, it could cause a global climate change, which many scientists believe is what caused the extinction of the dinosaurs more than 60 million years ago -- not a good prospect for life on Earth in the present day if a similar event occurred.

NASA's Near Earth Object program, or NEO, looks for and monitors asteroids that are at least a kilometer in diameter.

But, as Holdren points out, one problem in the search is that "the orbits of known objects can be changed by gravitational or solar radiation perturbations, or even collisions with other objects, meaning that periodic monitoring of known NEOs must also be conducted."

Numerous movies have depicted the devastation caused by an asteroid collision with Earth, including "Meteor" (1979), "Deep Impact" (1998) and "Armageddon" (1998).

After 12 years of cosmic hunting, NASA search teams have determined that 149 NEOs larger than a kilometer in size are in orbits that might pose a problem for Earth, but none is considered an impact threat in the next 100 years.

Read more - http://www.aolnews.com/weird-news/article/white-house-adviser-us-must-prepare-for-asteroid/19687765?test=latestnews

Russian bears treat graveyards as 'giant refrigerators' - shortage of bears' food forced the animals to eat human corpses

Russian bears treat graveyards as 'giant refrigerators' - shortage of bears' food forced the animals to eat human corpses

From a distance it resembled a rather large man in a fur coat, leaning tenderly over the grave of a loved one. But when the two women in the Russian village of Vezhnya Tchova came closer they realised there was a bear in the cemetery eating a body.
Russian bears have grown so desperate after a scorching summer they have started digging up and eating corpses in municipal cemetries, alarmed officials said today. Bears' traditional food – mushrooms, berries and the odd frog – has disappeared, they added.
The Vezhnya Tchova incident took place on Saturday in the northern republic of Komi, near the Arctic Circle. The shocked women cried in panic, frightening the bear back into the woods, before they discovered a ghoulish scene with the clothes of the bear's already-dead victim chucked over adjacent tombstones, the Russian newspaper Moskovsky Komsomelets reported.
Local people said that bears had resorted to scavenging in towns and villages - rummaging through bins, stealing garden carrots and raiding tips. A young man had been mauled in the centre of Syktyvkar, Komi's capital. "They are really hungry this year. It's a big problem. Many of them are not going to survive," said Simion Razmislov, the vice-president of Komi's hunting and fishing society.
World Wildlife Fund Russia said there had been a similar case two years ago in the town of Kandalaksha, in the northern Karelia republic. "You have to remember that bears are natural scavengers. In the US and Canada you can't leave any food in tents in national parks," said Masha Vorontsova of WWF Russia.
"In Karelia one bear learned how to do it [open a coffin]. He then taught the others," she added, suggesting: "They are pretty quick learners."
The only way to get rid of the bears would be to frighten them with something noisy like a firework or shoot them, she said.
According to Vorontsova, the omnivorous bears had "plenty to eat" this autumn, with foods such as fish and ants at normal levels. The bears raided graveyards because they offered a supply of easy food, she said, a bit like a giant refrigerator. "The story is horrible. Nobody wants to think about having a much loved member of their family eaten by a bear."
The bear population in Russia is relatively stable with numbers between 120,000 and 140,000. The biggest threat isn't starvation but hunting - with VIP sportsmen and wealthy gun enthusiasts wiping out most of the large male bears in Kamchatka, in Russia's Far East. Chinese poachers have killed many black bears near the border, selling their claws and other parts in markets.
The Russian government is drafting legislation to ban the killing of bears during the winter breeding season.

Monday, 25 October 2010

'Snuggie Sutra' Brings Blanket With Sleeves Into Bedroom - series of different sexual positions in the Snuggie -

'Snuggie Sutra' Brings Blanket With Sleeves Into Bedroom - series of different sexual positions in the Snuggie - 

Snuggies -- the famous "blankets with sleeves" from those cheesy TV infomercials -- may look frumpy, but with a little imagination, they can be hotter than lingerie in the bedroom.

Now, you've probably heard of the myriad sexual positions associated with the ancient Kama Sutra,but what about those practiced in "Snuggie Sutra"?

Created by friends Lex Friedman and Megan Morrison, Snuggie Sutra is exactly what it sounds like: A series of different sexual positions that can be performed by couples all while wearing those big, blue oversized blankets. 

The duo frequently share their strange Snuggie sex tips onthesnuggiesutra.com. These include "The Tablecloth," a position meant for "beginners" in which the woman lies on her back and puts her legs through a Snuggie's sleeves with the rest of the blanket covering her, and "The Matador," in which the Snuggie is used as a role-playing prop during some bizarre bullfighting fantasy.

But wait, there's more.

Friedman and Morrison just released "The Snuggie Sutra" book, boasting never-before-seen positions for lovers and, as Friedman told AOL News, every single move in there is 100 percent "doable."

"We wanted to create positions that people could actually try at home. Sure, some require better-than-average physical dexterity and a low shame threshold, but they can be done," Friedman said.

And he should know. He's actually tried most of the Snuggie Sutra moves himself in his living room.

Over a bottle of wine and sometimes a Twister mat, Friedman said he and his friends have contorted into every position while fully clothed, just to make sure they're "safe for public consumption."

After much trial and error, Friedman said they nailed each and every one, and you can too.

Read more - http://www.aolnews.com/weird-news/article/snuggie-sutra-incorporates-snuggie-into-sex/19676140?test=latestnews

New service lets parents rent out a drug-sniffing dog - comes to house and detects even the tiniest whiff of narcotics -

New service lets parents rent out a drug-sniffing dog - comes to house and detects even the tiniest whiff of narcotics - 

Underneath the mattress isn't going to cut it. Neither will tucking it behind the stack of "Twilight" books. Not even pushing it deep into the toe of a smelly gym shoe.

The dog will find it. And he'll know it's not oregano.

A new service in Maryland is promising parents peace of mind by allowing them to essentially rent a drug-sniffing dog, a highly trained canine that will come to their house and within seconds, detect even the tiniest whiff of narcotics.

The program allows ordinary moms and dads access to a search tool typically reserved for law enforcement — and typically aimed at suspected criminals.

Dogs Finding Drugs will, indeed, uncover teens' stashes. Whether those kids talk to their parents again remains to be seen.

Anne Wills, who runs the just-launched, Catonsville-based nonprofit, says parents are clamoring for the service and she expects business to "explode."

"I know that when my kids were growing up, every once in a while I'd have liked to know what they were doing," says Wills, who's having her own Labrador-mix, Heidi, trained to become a drug-detection dog. "The need is there. The desire is there."

Drug-sniffing is a fresh turn for Wills' organization, Dogs Finding Dogs, a nearly 3-year-old group that until now has used the skills of search dogs to find missing pets. Heidi and the other search dogs affiliated with the program have traveled all over the region, helping to reunite nearly 300 wayward dogs and cats with their frantic owners.

Besides targeting parents who suspect their children are dabbling in drugs, Dogs Finding Drugs is offering its services to companies and schools. Its dogs, which are all certified K-9s, can detect marijuana, heroin, cocaine and methamphetamines, as well as prescription drugs with trace amounts of those narcotics. The dogs can also uncover guns and explosives.

The rate is about $200 an hour — more or less depending on the circumstances and scale of the search.

Michael Gimbel, the former "drug czar" for Baltimore County, is helping Wills promote the service, the first of its kind in the area, but one of a handful of similar programs that have popped up across the country in recent years. He considers it a way for parents to, as he puts it, protect their home.

"Bottom line is, parents need to use every resource available to protect their kids from drugs and their home," he says. "This is just another new and creative way to attack the problem."

The success seems to vary for other companies offering drug-sniffing dog services. In Arizona, Amy Halm started Desert Drug Dog earlier this year. She says business has been "hard going" but "growing."

In the Twin Cities of Minnesota, John Roux started Metro Canine Detection Services in 2002. Schools fill out the bulk of his customer base — he's got 25 schools as regular customers and expects that number to double within the year. In New Jersey, a company called Sniff Dogs that got a lot of fanfare when it launched two years ago still has a website, but its phone has been disconnected.

This week, Wills and trainer Janet Dooley took Zuko, a 6-year-old Belgian Malinois, to a home in Churchville to demonstrate the dog's refined skills of detection, testing him with planted drugs. The regal-looking shepherd dog has been training with Dooley since he was 8 weeks old. He was, quite literally, born to find drugs.

Zuko is on the alert as soon as Dooley leads him inside. Ignoring a house cat, he immediately trots up the carpeted stairs and enters a bedroom, ears perked, tail in the air, wet nose twitching. Dooley points him to the bed with its neatly arranged pillows, and then to the nightstand, the dresser and the closet. Zuko passes each by with little interest.

But when the dog approaches an upholstered chaise in the corner, he's immediately more animated — running from one side of the chair to the other and pushing his long nose into the cushions.

Finally he just sits calmly beside the chair. That's the signal. He's found something.

It's a small canister with the tiniest trace of marijuana residue — so little that a person can't smell it even right under his nose.

"Good boy!" Dooley says, throwing Zuko his ball and giving him an appreciative slap on the flank.

Down the hall in a guest bathroom, Zuko uncovers more marijuana even more quickly — standing on his hind legs before the vanity, he stares down a box of tissues. Sure enough, the canister with the light scent of contraband was hiding in the box.

Dogs Finding Drugs won't confiscate anything it finds. Nor will the group notify the police — though Wills says she will recommend folks do that on their own.

The best way for parents to handle a child's potential drug problem begins with a good old-fashioned conversation rather than a drug-sniffing dog, says Elizabeth Robertson, the National Institute on Drug Abuse's chief of prevention research.

"Given everything we know about substance abuse prevention, what you want to do with your kids is build trust and communication," she says. "This seems like a tactic that would disrupt trust."

And she suspects that clever young people who've been burned by the dog — or fear they might be — will devise ways to game the system.

"If you are a kid who was hiding drugs in the house and somebody brought a drug in the house, what would you do? I'd hide it in the yard. Or hide it in someone else's house," she says. "It doesn't seem that practical."

Baltimore parent Genny Dill agrees with Robinson. Upon hearing of the service, she says slowly, and with increasing notes of incredulity, "No. Really? Crazy. Absolutely crazy. That's a whole new level of distrust."

The mother of a 17-year-old girl, Dill says she has no trouble peeking at her daughter's text messages and e-mail. Though she's wondered if her daughter has tried pot, or been offered drugs, Gill is fairly certain that by hiring a drug-sniffing dog, she'd ruin their relationship.

"They're never going to love you again," she says. "Well, maybe they'd love you, but they will seriously not trust you as a parent, and when they're teenagers, that's a terrible time for that to happen."

But Kelli Lewis would want to know if there were drugs in her home — and she'd consider hiring the dogs if she suspected a problem with her son, who's a senior in high school and set on going away to college.

"Drug use is so rampant," says the Baltimore County mother. "I'm not very worried about it with him, but it's definitely on my mind — I know a lot of things can happen in school."

Lewis knows her son would be upset if she had dogs go through his room — but she doesn't much care. She says: "If I felt the need, I would do it."

"We talk about the kids' right to privacy and in my house. They don't have a right to privacy," she says with a little laugh. "If they're doing anything in here they shouldn't, I have a right to know about it."



Saturday, 23 October 2010

Germany Calls Out Geithner's Hypocrisy - said Fed's "push toward easier monetary policy is “wrong way” to stimulate growth

Germany Calls Out Geithner's Hypocrisy - said Fed's "push toward easier monetary policy is “wrong way” to stimulate growth

And just so there is no confusion as to whether Germany's critcisms will gain steam, below is Zero Hedge's projection of what the Fed's balance sheet will soon look like.

After months of US bitching and moaning about China's so called unfair exchange policies, when it is the US Fed which is the biggest currency manipulator in the world by orders of magnitude, one country finally had the guts to stand up and call out Tim Geithner on his endless bullshit. At the G-20 meeting, per Bloomberg, German Economic Minister Rainer Bruederle said that the Fed's "push toward easier monetary policy is the “wrong way” to stimulate growth and may amount to a manipulation of the dollarExcessive, permanent money creation in my opinion is an indirect manipulation of an exchange rate." The fact that China was smart enough to peg its currency to the most rapidly devaluing currency in the world is a different story altogether, and merely confirms that they are leap and bounds more sophisticated in their monetary policy than anyone gives them credit for. If Geithner wants to prevent a relative depreciation of the Yuan versus all other currencies in the world (especially the EUR, against which it continues to be in freefall), the answer is simple: stop bloody printing!
And with Tim Geithner present, could the G20 meeting possibly not end up being a total farce? Of course not:
U.S. Treasury Secretary Timothy F. Geithner dismissed prospects of mounting criticism of the Fed’s approach in his press conference after the G-20 meeting yesterday. When asked whether he expected Germany’s criticisms to gain steam, he replied: “I do not.”
In the future, when asked if he ever had problems with being called an idiot and a moron by virtually everyone, Tim Geithner will have the same reply.
And the stand cup comedy continued.
The Treasury chief declined to comment directly on the Fed’s policy, while also saying that major economies like the U.S. need to make growth a top priority. One of the global imbalances is the disparity between rapidly expanding emerging- market economies and too-slow growth in developed nations, he said.

“We are going to continue to try to strengthen the recovery under way so we can dig out of this as quickly as we can,” Geithner said.
In other words, the Fed will celebrate the recovery "under way" by printing another $1.5 trillion in money.
It has gotten so bad that Germany is now directly siding with Brazil which spat in the face of America and decided to not even show up, demonstrating just what it thinks of Geithner's endless hypocrisy.
Low interest rates and weak recoveries in industrialized economies such as the U.S. have forced investors to flood emerging markets with capital, providing resources for growth yet also threatening to spur inflation, asset bubbles and over- valued exchange rates. Such concerns have prompted economies from South Korea to Brazil to take steps to slow the inflow of speculative cash.

“I’m not a friend of this but I can understand” why Brazil introduced capital controls, Bruederle said.

Read more - http://www.zerohedge.com/article/germany-calls-out-geithners-hypocrisy-says-money-printing-fx-intervention