Making Unique Observations in a Very Cluttered World

Thursday, 18 August 2011

U.S. Knew Within Days that Fukushima Had Melted Down -

U.S. Knew Within Days that Fukushima Had Melted Down - 

noted in May that that International Atomic Energy Agency knew within weeks of the Japanese earthquake that the reactors had melted down … but the public was not told for a month and a half.
pointed out in June:
As the prestigious scientific journal Nature notes:
Shortly after a massive tsunami struck the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant on 11 March, an unmanned monitoring station on the outskirts of Takasaki, Japan, logged a rise in radiation levels. Within 72 hours, scientists had analysed samples taken from the air and transmitted their analysis to Vienna, Austria — the headquarters of the Preparatory Commission for the Comprehensive Nuclear-Test-Ban Treaty Organization (CTBTO), an international body set up to monitor nuclear weapons tests.
It was just the start of a flood of data collected about the accident by the CTBTO’s global network of 63 radiation monitoring stations. In the following weeks, the data were shared with governments around the world, but not with academics or the public.
The attempted cover up of the severity of the Fukushima disaster is nothing new. Governments have been covering up nuclear meltdowns for 50 years, and the basic design for nuclear reactors was not chosen for safety, but because it worked on Navy submarines … and produced plutonium for the military.
(Indeed, the government’s response to every crisis appears to be to try to cover it up; and see this.)
Today, Yomiuri Shinbun reports (Google translation) that the U.S. knew within days that Fukushima had melted down:
The subject of evacuating the US citizens was raised in the early hours on March 16 (local time). The US … already knew about the unusually high temperature of the reactors from the Global Hawk data, and determined that “the fuel has already melted”.
The US high-ranking officials wanted to evacuate the US citizens [Tokyo] but the local officials including Maher objected, as “it would severely undermine the US-Japan alliance”

Read more -

20 Signs That The World Could Be Headed For An Economic Apocalypse In 2012 -

20 Signs That The World Could Be Headed For An Economic Apocalypse In 2012 - 

If you thought that 2011 was a bad year for the world economy, just wait until you see what happens in 2012.  The U.S. and Europe are both dealing with unprecedented debt problems, the financial markets are flailing about wildly, austerity programs are being implemented all over the globe, prices on basics such as food are soaring and a lot of consumers are flat out scared right now.  Many analysts now fear that a “perfect storm” could be brewing and that we could actually be headed for an economic apocalypse in 2012.  Hopefully that will not happen.  Hopefully our leaders can keep the global economy from completely falling apart.  But right now, things don’t look good.  After a period of relative stability, things are starting to become unglued once again.  The next major financial panic could literally happen at any time.  Sadly, if we do see an economic apocalypse in 2012, it won’t be the wealthy that suffer the most.  It will be the poor, the unemployed, the homeless and the hungry that feel the most pain.
The following are 20 signs that we could be headed for an economic apocalypse in 2012….
#1 Back in 2008 we saw major rioting around the world due to soaring food prices, and now global food prices are on the rise again.  Global food prices in July were 33 percent higher than they were one year ago.  Price increases for staples such as maize (up 84 percent), sugar (up 62 percent) and wheat (up 55 percent) are absolutely devastating poverty-stricken communities all over the planet.  For example, one expert is warning that 800,000 children living in the Horn of Africa could die during this current famine.
#2 The producer price index in the U.S. has increased at an annual rate of at least 7.0% for the last three months in a row.  We are starting to see huge price increases all over the place.  For example, Starbucks recently jacked up the price of a bag of coffee by 17 percent.  If inflation keeps accelerating like this we could be facing some very serious problems by the time 2012 rolls around.
#3 The U.S. “Misery Index” (unemployment plus inflation) recently hit a 28 year high and many believe that it is going to go much, much higher.
#4 Jared Bernstein, the former chief economist for Vice President Joe Biden, says that the unemployment rate in this country will not go below 8% before the 2012 election.  In fact, Bernstein says that “the most optimistic forecast would be for about eight-and-a-half percent.”
#5 Working class jobs in the United States continue to disappear at an alarming rate.  Back in 1967, 97 percent of men with a high school degree between the ages of 30 and 50 had jobs.  Today, that figure is 76 percent.
#6 There are all kinds of indications that U.S. economic growth is about to slow down even further.  For example, pre-orders for Christmas toys from China are way down this year.
#7 One recent survey found that 9 out of 10 U.S. workers do not expect their wages to keep up with the rising cost of basics such as food and gasoline over the next year.

#8 U.S. consumer confidence is now at its lowest level in 30 years.
#9 Today, an all-time record 45.8 million Americans are on food stamps.  It is almost inconceivable that the largest economy on earth could have so many people dependent on the government for food.
#10 As the economy crumbles, we are also witnessing the fabric of society beginning to come apart.  The recent flash mob crimes that we are starting to see all over America are just one example of this.
#11 Some desperate Americans are already stealing anything that they can get their hands on.  For example, according to the American Kennel Club, dog thefts are up 32 percent this year.
#12 Small businesses all over the United States are having a really difficult time getting loans right now.  Perhaps if the Federal Reserve was not paying banks not to make loans things would be different.
#13 The U.S. national debt is like a giant boulder that our economy must constantly carry around on its back, and it is growing by billions of dollars every single day.  Right now the debt of the federal government is $14,592,242,215,641.90.  It has gone up by nearly 4 trillion dollars since Barack Obama took office.  S&P has already stripped the U.S. of its AAA credit rating, and more downgrades are certain to come if the U.S. does not get its act together.
#14 Tensions between the United States and China are rising again.  A new opinion piece on chinadaily.com is calling for the Chinese government to use its holdings of U.S. debt as a “financial weapon” against the United States if the U.S. follows through with a plan to sell more arms to Taiwan.  The U.S. and China are the two biggest economies in the world, so any trouble between them would mean economic trouble for the rest of the globe as well.
#15 Most state and local governments in the U.S. are deep in debt and flat broke.  Many of them are slashing jobs at a feverish pace.  According to the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities, state and local governments have eliminated more than half a million jobs since August 2008.  UBS Investment Research is projecting that state and local governments in the U.S. will cut450,000 more jobs by the end of 2012.  How those jobs will be replaced is anyone’s guess.
#16 The U.S. dollar continues to get weaker and weaker.  This is renewing calls for a new global currency to be created to replace the U.S. dollar as the reserve currency of the world.
#17 The European sovereign debt crisis continues to get worse.  Countries like Portugal, Italy and Greece are on the verge of an economic apocalypse.  All of the financial problems in Europe are even beginning to affect the core European nations.  For example, German industrial production declined by 1.1% in June.  There are all kinds of signs that the economy of Europe is slowing down and is heading for a recession.  French President Nicolas Sarkozy and German Chancellor Angela Merkel are proposing that a new “economic government” for Europe be set up to oversee this debt crisis, but nothing that the Europeans have tried so far has done much to solve things.
#18 The Federal Reserve is so desperate to bring some sort of stability to financial markets that it has stated that it will likely keep interest rates near zero all the way until mid-2013.  The Federal Reserve is operating in “panic mode” almost constantly now and they are almost out of ammunition.  So what is going to happen when the real trouble starts?
#19 Central banks around the world certainly seem to be preparing for something.  According to the World Gold Council, central banks around the globe purchased more gold during the first half of 2011 than they did all of last year.
#20 Often perception very much influences reality. One recent survey found that 48 percent of Americans believe that it is likely that another great Depression will begin within the next 12 months.  If people expect that a depression is coming and they quit spending money that actually increases the chance that an economic downturn will occur.
There is already a tremendous amount of economic pain on the streets of America, but unfortunately it looks like things may get even worse in 2012.
The once great economic machine that was handed down to us by our forefathers is falling to pieces all around us and we are in debt up to our eyeballs.  The consequences of our bad economic decisions are hurting some of the most vulnerable members of our society the most.
It is a crying shame what is happening out there on the streets of America today.
Please say a prayer for all of those that are sleeping in cars or tents or under bridges tonight.
Soon even more Americans will be joining them.

Read more -

Georgetown basketball team Brawls With Chinese Team - Here’s Video -

Georgetown basketball team Brawls With Chinese Team - Here’s Video - 

The benches cleared ... the fists flew ... chairs were thrown -- all during what was SUPPOSED to be a friendly basketball game between Georgetown University and a professional Chinese team a few hours ago.  

According to reports, tensions were running high at Olympic Sports Center Stadium in Beijing during the game between GU and the Bayi Rockets of the Chinese Basketball Association.

But things hit a fever pitch during the 4th quarter, when members of both teams got extra-physical during a scramble for a loose ball ... and suddenly, it was full-on pandemonium.

A rep for Georgetown told CBS Sports no one was injured in the fight. 


Ridley Scott Ready To Direct New Version Of Seminal Sci-Fi Film 'Blade Runner' -

Ridley Scott Ready To Direct New Version Of Seminal Sci-Fi Film 'Blade Runner' -

After revisiting his classic Alien with the upcoming 3D Fox film Prometheus, Ridley Scott is committing to direct and produce a film that advances his other seminal and groundbreaking science fiction film. Scott has signed on to direct and produce a new installment of Blade Runner. He’ll make the film with Alcon Entertainment, producing with Alcon partners Broderick Johnson and Andrew Kosove. This would be the most high profile project for Alcon since The Blind Side. They got control of the franchise earlier this year, but it's a whole different ballgame with Scott at the helm.

I’m not getting a clear sense at this point whether Scott intends to do a sequel or a prequel to the 1982 film that was loosely based on the Philip K. Dick novel Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep? Also unclear is whether they start fresh or reach out to Harrison Ford. The original took place in dystopian Los Angeles in 2019, in which organic superhuman robots called replicants escaped and are hiding somewhere on earth.  Ford played Richard Deckard, a burnt out blade runner assigned to hunt them down. His tired life gets altered when he himself falls for one of the replicants and struggles to keep her from being destroyed.

The film was not a blockbuster when first released--it grossed $32 million in its original run--but the film has gained esteem over time. From the bleak but breathtaking  visuals to the complex storyline and themes of mortality, Blade Runner became a classic. There has periodically been talks of doing a sequel but those never really went anywhere.  After injecting state of the art 3D in reviving Alien, imagine what Scott can do with Blade Runner? Now, the filmmaker is ready to engage. Alcon has its output deal with Warner Bros, which remastered and released a 25th anniversary version on DVD and Blu-Ray in 2007. Warner Bros made the original film.
This is just the first step and the project will have to be written and it will likely evolve during that process. That's what happened on Alien, which began as a prequel to his 1979 classic. That changed when Lost's Damon Lindelof came inwith a different take on the subject matter that imprinted on Scott and Fox  executives. They wound up making Prometheus, which Fox considers an original but which I've heard is a cousin to the original Alien franchise. That film will be released June 8, 2012, with Charlize Theron, Michael Fassbender, Noomi Rapace, Patrick Wilson, Idris Elba and Guy Pearce starring.  Scott is repped by WME.

Betty White voted America's most popular and most trusted celebrity -

Betty White voted America's most popular and most trusted celebrity  - 

Seems like former "Golden Girls" actress Betty White really does have the Midas touch.

White, 89, is both the most popular and most trusted celebrity with Americans and the person most likely to drive up the business of a brand she might choose to endorse, according to a poll released on Wednesday.

But the Reuters/Ipsos poll suggested that companies should stay away from Paris Hilton and Charlie Sheen if they want to promote their products.

The socialite and reality TV actress, and the fired "Two and A Half Men" star topped the list of the most unpopular and least trusted personalities and were deemed most likely to damage any brands they choose to support.

White, the only surviving member of the key cast members of TV's "Golden Girls" 1980s comedy, has enjoyed a career resurgence in the last few years as a saucy senior in films like "The Proposal" and the TV show "Hot in Cleveland".

She also won an Emmy Award last year for hosting satirical sketch show "Saturday Night Live".

White scored an 86 percent favorable opinion in the Reuters/Ipsos poll, beating Oscar winners Denzel Washington, Sandra Bullock and Clint Eastwood in the survey of the 100 most popular personalities. She easily edged out Britain's Duchess of Cambridge Kate Middleton (5th), Oprah Winfrey (6th), and U.S. first lady Michelle Obama (15th) in the most trusted personalities ranking.

Some 44 percent of those questioned said they would be more likely to do business with a company if White endorsed it.

At the other extreme, 54 percent of the 2,012 Americans questioned for the poll said they would trust a company less if it were endorsed by Sheen, with Hilton coming in second.

Pop star Britney Spears, actor Mel Gibson and golfer Tiger Woods -- who lost several major endorsements after his 2009 sex scandal -- also fared badly.

Below is a list of the top 10 most popular personalities with their "favorable" rating by percentage of voters.

1. Betty White ...........86 pct favorable

2. Denzel Washington .....85 pct

3. Sandra Bullock ........84 pct

4. Clint Eastwood ........83 pct

5. Tom Hanks .............81 pct

6. Harrison Ford .........80 pct tie 7. Morgan Freeman ........79 pct tie 7. Kate Middleton ........79 pct

9. Will Smith ............77 pct

10. Johnny Depp ...........76 pct

Below is a list of the top 10 most unpopular personalities with their "unfavorable" rating by percentage of voters.

1. Paris Hilton ..........60 pct unfavorable

2. Charlie Sheen .........52 pct tie 3. Britney Spears ........45 pct tie 4. Kanye West ............45 pct

5. Arnold Schwarzenegger..44 pct

6. Tiger Woods ...........42 pct

7. Kim Kardashian ........38 pct

8. Mel Gibson ............33 pct

9. Donald Trump ..........31 pct

10. LeBron James ..........29 pct

Man shoots self while driving on interstate in Tennessee - with bullet wounds in both legs -

Man shoots self while driving on interstate in Tennessee - with bullet wounds in both legs - 

Note to drivers: Don't mess with "The Judge" while you're on the road.

C'mon — what's not to like?
Hoof it over to Facebook to join the weird news herd.
A 23-year-old man faced possible criminal charges on Wednesday after he accidentally shot himself in both legs when he reached for his gun while driving on a highway in Tennessee, authorities said.
Police who responded to the man's 911 call for help found Justin Newberry "wailing in pain" and in need of immediate emergency attention, said Officer Jim Knoll, spokesman for the Clarksville Police Department.
The gun, a handgun known as "The Judge," apparently slid out from under Newberry's seat when he hit the brakes on his Nissan Altima on Interstate 24, about 50 miles northwest of Nashville.
When he reached to retrieve the weapon, he accidentally grabbed it by the trigger and the gun went off, sending a .410 slug through his right thigh and into his left leg, just above the ankle, clarksvilleonline.com reported.
Newberry pulled into the median and called emergency dispatchers. Police who answered the call also discovered marijuana and drug paraphernalia, as well as a variety of identification documents from different locations in the country, Knoll said.
The man was taken by LifeFlight to Vanderbilt University in Nashville, where he was in stable condition. Knoll said charges were pending.


IBM unveils chips that mimic the human brain - it perceives, acts and even thinks -

IBM unveils chips that mimic the human brain - it perceives, acts and even thinks - 

IBM has unveiled a new experimental computer chip that it says mimics the human brain in that it perceives, acts and even thinks.
It terms the machines built with these chips "cognitive computers", claiming that they are able to learn through experience, find patterns, generate ideas and understand the outcomes.

In building this new generation of chip, IBM combined principles of nanoscience, neuroscience and supercomputing.
It has been awarded $21m (£12.7m) of new funding by the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) for the next phase of the project, which it terms "Systems of Neuromorphic Adaptive Plastic Scalable Electronics" (SyNAPSE).
"This is a major initiative to move beyond the von Neumann paradigm that has been ruling computer architecture for more than half a century," said Dharmendra Modha, project leader for IBM Research.
Modha added that the chip may see applications in business, science and government.
"Future applications of computing will increasingly demand functionality that is not efficiently delivered by the traditional architecture.
"These chips are another significant step in the evolution of computers from calculators to learning systems, signalling the beginning of a new generation of computers and their applications in business, science and government."
IBM states that the chips, while certainly not biological, are inspired by the architecture of the human brain in their design. Digital silicon circuits make up what it terms the "neurosynaptic core".
The scientists have built two working prototype designs. Both cores contain 256 neurons, one with 262,144 programmable synapses and the other with 65,536 learning synapses. The team has successfully demonstrated simple applications like navigation, machine vision, pattern recognition, associative memory and classification.
But what are the potential real-world applications of this technology? Tsunami warnings for one, claims IBM:
"A cognitive computing system monitoring the world's water supply could contain a network of sensors and actuators that constantly record and report metrics such as temperature, pressure, wave height, acoustics and ocean tide, and issue tsunami warnings based on its decision making," said IBM in a statement.

Read more: http://www.computing.co.uk/ctg/news/2102735/ibm-unveils-chips-mimic-human-brain#ixzz1VP2DIOGi
Computing - Insight for IT leaders Claim your free subscription today.

MGM wants to implode 27-story hotel that never opened -

MGM wants to implode 27-story hotel that never opened - 

MGM Resorts International wants to implode a new 26-story hotel in downtown Las Vegas that has been plagued by construction and structural problems before it has even opened, the Las Vegas Review-Journal reports.

Unlike the Sands hotel, which was a Las Vegas landmark for decades before it was torn down, the Harmon Tower has never had a single guest.

County officials have demanded that the defects be fixed immediately after a report from an engineering firm that the structure could collapse in the event of a major earthquake.

MGM Resorts, which needs approval from a district court judge, wants to use explosives to bring down the hotel but Perini Building, general contractor for CityCenter, where the hotel is anchored, says it can fix the strucuture.

Perini says that demolition would destroy evidence of design errors.

The whole issue, not surprisingly, is tied up in the courts.

The tower was originaly meant to be 47 stories, but plans were scaled back in 2008 after inspectors found improperly placed steel reinforcement, the newspaper says.

Ron Paul Supporter's Ad Asks, 'Have You Ever Had Sex With Rick Perry?' -

Ron Paul Supporter's Ad Asks, 'Have You Ever Had Sex With Rick Perry?' - 

full-page ad paid for by a supporter of Republican presidential candidate Ron Paul in the Austin Chronicle asks, "Have you ever had sex with Rick Perry?"
The eyebrow-raising message comes less than one week after the Texas governor announced his candidacy for president of the United States. Justin Elliot at Salon calls attention to the ad in the newsweekly and notes that there is no evidence that Perry has engaged in an extramarital affair.
Text in the ad reads, "Are you a stripper, an escort, or just a 'young hottie' impressed by an arrogant, entitled governor of Texas? Contact CASH [Committee Against Sexual Hypocrisy], and we will help you publicize your direct dealings with a Christian-buzzwords-spouting, 'family values' hypocrite and fraud."
(Click here to view an image of the ad via Salon.)
The Lone Star State Republican's wife Anita has been spotted by his side on the campaign trail this week.
Earlier this summer before Perry jumped into the GOP primary mix, Politico reported that the Texas governor's camp was prepared to combat unfounded rumors dating back to as early as 2004 that Perry is gay should he run.
Perry himself addressed allegations roughly seven years ago that he and his wife planned to divorce and that he was gay. He told the Austin American-Statesman at the time that he was being targeted with a "smear campaign" being conducted by his political enemies.
Read more -