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Light-Powered Magnetic Levitation Could Create ‘New Class’ Of Solar Energy

By Stephen C. Webster
Friday, December 28, 2012

In a breakthrough that could one day revolutionize transportation and electricity generation, scientists at the University in Kanagawa in Japan demonstrated this month a disc that spins at over 200 rotations per minute when placed over a magnet in direct sunlight, saying the discovery could help create a wholly “new class” of solar energy.

Professor Jiro Abe and Dr. Masayuki Kobayashi presented their discovery in the December issue of Journal of the American Chemical Society.

Speaking a reporter with Phys.org, Abe said their research represents “the first time in the world” that humans have been able to achieve “real-time motion control” of intimate objects without individual parts of the machine coming into direct contact.

The study goes on to explain that it works because the light slightly changes the temperature of the graphite, which causes subtle fluctuations in the material’s “magnetic susceptibility.”

Video of the discovery published to YouTube earlier this month showed scientists moving a tiny disc over an array of small magnets by firing a laser at it. Additional footage also featured that same disc levitating over a single magnet, rapidly spinning in place when placed under direct sunlight.

“Because this technique is very simple and fundamental, it is expected to apply to various daily living techniques, such as transportation systems and amusement, as well as photo-actuators and light energy conversion systems,” Abe reportedly said.



Raw Story (http://s.tt/1xJYW)

White House Says No Defense Programs Are Immune to Cuts

By Tony Capaccio - Dec 27, 2012
Pentagon officials must make across- the-board reductions in weapons and research funds instead of slices that could spare some programs under the automatic federal budget cuts scheduled to take effect next week, according to the White House Office of Management and Budget.

Whether cuts are made at the so-called “program, project and activity,” level instead of in larger “accounts” such as “Air Force Aircraft” has been one of the biggest unanswered questions about what happens if the automatic cuts known as sequestration take effect at the start of the new year.

The arcane difference in how Pentagon budget cuts are implemented has major implications for defense companies because if they had greater flexibility, the military services might be able to reduce some programs more than others, according to officials and analysts.

“Investors should realize there is no safe defense haven when cuts are made at PPA level,” said Byron Callan, a defense market analyst with Washington, D.C.-based Capital Alpha Partners LLC, in an e-mail statement.

MORE...

http://www.bloomberg.com/news/print/2012-12-28/white-house-says-no-defense-programs-are-immune-to-cuts.html

Hagel Nomination Can Knock Down Wild-Swinging Repugs/NeoCons/AIPAC

The bad news is that, in the words of yesterday's NYRB article by Elizabeth Drew:

if dropped Hagel would he go to bat for anyone? (Or they for him?) The hesitancy to name Hagel or another candidate is already diminishing Obama's stature, erasing more of his post-election glow.


The good news is that Obama still has time to turn this story into one of rope-a-doping wild-swinging Repugs, NeoCons and AIPAC, who have set themselves up to be knocked down by an Obama counterpunch. Hagel€™'s confirmation, which is likely, would show the limits of their influence, and would further reduce it. Even if some combination of lucky punches or abuse of the filibuster succeeded in derailing his nomination, the move from a whispering campaign to public hearings would further highlight the extremism of Hagel'™s rightwing detractors (his other detractors are discussed below).

The stakes are very high and broad.

As Drew says about for domestic politics:

What the president decides will bear on: his effectiveness in his second term; any president's ability to form a government; whether an independent voice can be raised on a highly sensitive issue in opposition to the views of a powerful lobby and still be named to a significant government position; whether there is actually a proper nominating system; whether McCarthyite tactics can still be effective more than half a century after they were rejected by a fed-up nation.


As Drew says about foreign policy:

And, by the way, what will be the direction of American policy in the Middle East? In particular, how adventurous will we be toward Iran? Have we learned anything from the calamitous foreign policy blunders of the past decade? Iran more than any other single issue is at the core of the opposition to Hagel, and that issue is closely linked to the question of the extent to which the U.S. should be allied with the aggressive policies of the Israeli government under Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu toward Iran.


MORE...

http://www.dailykos.com/story/2012/12/28/1174364/-Hagel-nomination-can-knock-down-wild-swinging-Repugs-NeoCons-AIPAC#

Obama Has Double Dilemma in Choice of New Pentagon Chief

By Gopal Ratnam - Dec 28, 2012
President Barack Obama faces a growing dilemma in his choice of a new defense secretary to succeed Leon Panetta.

Having dropped United Nations Ambassador Susan Rice and named Massachusetts Democratic Senator John Kerry to replace Hillary Clinton as secretary of state, Obama runs the risk of appearing weak if he bows to political opposition again and chooses someone other than former Nebraska Republican Senator Chuck Hagel to lead the Pentagon.

Picking another candidate would show for a second time “that the president’s important choices for personnel can be vetoed by two or three senators,” said Sean Kay, a professor of politics and government at Ohio Wesleyan University in Delaware, Ohio, who specializes in U.S. foreign and defense policy. “The White House will come out of this significantly weakened.”

If Obama sticks with Hagel in the face of opposition from an ad hoc coalition of Republican advocates of muscular defense policies, Democratic supporters of Israel and gay rights activists, though, Obama might be forced to spend political capital he needs for the bigger battle over the federal budget and deficit reduction.

MORE...

http://www.bloomberg.com/news/print/2012-12-28/obama-has-double-dilemma-in-choice-of-new-pentagon-chief.html

Business Activity in U.S. Expands for a Second Month

Business activity in the U.S. expanded in December for a second month, easing concern that a lack of progress on the federal budget would prompt a slump in manufacturing.

The MNI Chicago Report’s business barometer rose to a four- month high of 51.6 from November’ 50.4. A reading of 50 is the dividing line between expansion and contraction. The median estimate in a Bloomberg survey called for the gauge would rise to 51.

The figure corroborates another report that showed manufacturing in the Philadelphia area expanded by the most in eight months, pointing to stability in the industry. With companies tempering equipment orders in the event that more than $600 billion in automatic tax increases and government spending cuts take place next year, an improvement in housing and sustained consumer spending has taken the lead in underpinning the economy.

“Business investment is showing signs of stabilizing but it’s still very soft, and I think that’s going to be taking some steam out of manufacturing over the next couple of months,” Ryan Sweet, a senior economist at Moody’s Analytics Inc. in West Chester, Pennsylvania, said before the report. “We’re in the midst of a hand-off from manufacturing to housing as the big driver of the U.S. economy.”

MORE...

http://www.bloomberg.com/news/2012-12-28/business-activity-in-u-s-expands-for-a-second-month.html

U.S. Pending Home Sales Hit 2-1/2 Year High In November

Source: Reuters

WASHINGTON | Fri Dec 28, 2012 9:59am EST
Dec 28 (Reuters) - Contracts to buy previously owned U.S. homes rose in November to their highest level in 2-1/2 years, an industry group said on Friday, further evidence of a strengthening housing market recovery.

The National Association of Realtors said its Pending Home Sales Index, based on contracts signed last month, increased 1.7 percent to 106.4 - the highest level since April 2010 when the home-buyer tax credit expired.

Economists polled by Reuters had expected signed contracts, which become sales after a month or two, to rise 1.0 percent after a revised 5.0 percent increase in October. It was the third straight month of gains.

"Home sales are recovering now based solely on fundamental demand and favorable affordability conditions," said NAR chief economist Lawrence Yun.

Pending home sales were up 9.8 percent in the 12 months through November.

Read more: http://www.reuters.com/article/2012/12/28/usa-economy-homes-idUSL1E8NR6XO20121228

Son of Ariel Sharon Makes Frightening Gaza Comments

Gilad Sharon, son of former Israeli prime minister Ariel Sharon, has written a sickening op-ed in the Jerusalem Post expressing a desire to ‘flatten’ Gaza, and even, it seems, suggest using nuclear weapons against the impoverished refugees:

We need to flatten entire neighborhoods in Gaza. Flatten all of Gaza. The Americans didn’t stop with Hiroshima – the Japanese weren’t surrendering fast enough, so they hit Nagasaki, too.

There should be no electricity in Gaza, no gasoline or moving vehicles, nothing. Then they’d really call for a ceasefire.


According to Sharon, there it no such thing as an innocent Gazan – they elected Hamas, so must be collectively punished for the actions of their government:

The desire to prevent harm to innocent civilians in Gaza will ultimately lead to harming the truly innocent: the residents of southern Israel. The residents of Gaza are not innocent, they elected Hamas. The Gazans aren’t hostages; they chose this freely, and must live with the consequences.


I try to keep personal emotion out of my analysis, particularly when it comes to the situation in Israel. I am of Jewish heritage, so was initially blindly pro Israel before I understood the complex history of the region. I decided to keep ethnic pride out of the equation when assessing the conflict, and now understand the situation to be a tragic example of colonialism and occupation – sadly on behalf of my own people. While I am able to distance myself from the tribal emotion of it all, I can’t help but feel utterly depressed when reading dehumanizing hate mongering by figures like Gilad Sharon – a Jew who should be ashamed of himself given the history of his own people.

MORE...

http://thedailybanter.com/tag/sharon/

Congratulations, Chicago: Your City Now Has The Most Expensive Parking Meters In The U.S. ($6.50hr)

In a move that will earn it the dubious honor of being home to North America’s most expensive parking meters, Chicago’s downtown meters will start charging parkers $6.50 an hour starting on New Year’s Day, up from $5.75. It’s the highest rate for a downtown area and the fifth year the city’s parking meter rates have gone up. Umm, so, congratulations?

By the end of February Chicago Parking Meters LLC will have all machines set to new rates by the end of February, says CBS Chicago. Since that company took control of the city’s meters in 2008, rates have kept rising. It secured the lucrative contract under a 75-year lease championed by former Mayor Richard M. Daley.

MORE...

http://consumerist.com/2012/12/27/congratulations-chicago-your-city-now-has-the-most-expensive-parking-meters-in-the-u-s/

Pro-Gun Blogger Retaliates Against Database By Publishing Newspaper Staff’s Personal Info

The publisher and staff of The Journal News in New York state found themselves the subject of what hackers call a “dox” on Thursday, after a blogger retaliated against their database of gun permit holders by publishing an extensive list of personal information for dozens of people connected to the paper.

The list includes items like hobbies of staffers who weren’t involved in producing the story, phone numbers, email addresses and even home addresses. Links to social media accounts even featured photos of the editor’s children, which the blog actively promoted.

Appearing on CNN Thursday morning, blogger Christopher Fountain of the “For What It’s Worth” blog said he was “offended” that the paper would release public information about gun owners and said he wanted the publisher of The Journal News to understand why he’s so upset. “I just thought they were being hypocrites,” he said.

The paper’s publisher, Janet Hansson, offered a defense on Wednesday of her decision to run the article, telling Politico: “We knew publication of the database (as well as the accompanying article providing context) would be controversial, but we felt sharing information about gun permits in our area was important in the aftermath of the Newtown shootings.”

MORE...

Raw Story (http://s.tt/1xI38)

Israel to Review Law Prohibiting Women From Praying at Western Wall After Arrests

By Stoyan Zaimov , Christian Post Reporter
December 26, 2012|3:28 pm

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has said that a law prohibiting women wearing ritual garments from praying at the Western Wall in Jerusalem will be reviewed, after a series of arrests last week sparked an outcry.

"The prime minister thinks the Western Wall has to be a site that expresses the unity of the Jewish people, both inside Israel and outside the state of Israel," said Ron Dermer, Netanyahu's senior adviser, according to The New York Times. "He wants to preserve the unity of world Jewry. This is an important component of Israel's strength."

A group of Israeli women called Women of the Wall have been protesting against a 2003 Israeli Supreme Court decision that prohibited women from carrying a Torah or wearing prayer shawls at the site, a right which is traditionally reserved for men.

Groups like Women of the Wall have insisted that the holy site belongs to all Jewish people regardless of gender, and they say they defend the rights of women who take up pilgrimages to pray at the Western Wall. A number of arrests by police officers apprehending women dressed in shawls in the past few months, however, have sparked an international outcry.

Read more at http://global.christianpost.com/news/israel-to-review-law-prohibiting-women-from-praying-at-western-wall-after-arrests-87247/#kr28z5KstfYZoQb1.99
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