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n2doc

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Member since: Tue Feb 10, 2004, 01:08 PM
Number of posts: 43,029

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Environmental Scientist

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Alien hunters spot a 'COFFIN' on Mars

From fossilised iguanas to Obama's head, conspiracy theorists appear to have found all manner of things on Mars.

And now an alien coffin can be added to the list, after one Maryland-based UFO hunter spotted what he believes to be a 'decorative' box on the red planet.

The 'coffin' was discovered by Will Farrar from WhatsUpintheSky37 as he trawled through a library of pictures sent back by the Mars rover Curiosity.


Read more: http://www.dailymail.co.uk/sciencetech/article-2889885/Alien-hunters-spot-COFFIN-Mars-want-Nasa-closer-look-mysterious-box-shaped-rock.html

I say it's the Ark of the Covenant! Send in Indy Jones!

Obama's Lists: A Dubious History of Targeted Killings in Afghanistan

By SPIEGEL Staff
Combat operations in Afghanistan may be coming to an end, but a look at secret NATO documents reveals that the US and the UK were far less scrupulous in choosing targets for killing than previously believed. Drug dealers were also on the lists.



Death is circling above Helmand Province on the morning of Feb. 7, 2011, in the form of a British Apache combat helicopter named "Ugly 50." Its crew is searching for an Afghan named Mullah Niaz Mohammed. The pilot has orders to kill him.

The Afghan, who has been given the code name "Doody," is a "mid-level commander" in the Taliban, according to a secret NATO list. The document lists enemy combatants the alliance has approved for targeted killings. "Doody" is number 3,673 on the list and NATO has assigned him a priority level of three on a scale of one to four. In other words, he isn't particularly important within the Taliban leadership structure.

The operations center identified "Doody" at 10:17 a.m. But visibility is poor and the helicopter is forced to circle another time. Then the gunner fires a "Hellfire" missile. But he has lost sight of the mullah during the maneuver, and the missile strikes a man and his child instead. The boy is killed instantly and the father is severely wounded. When the pilot realizes that the wrong man has been targeted, he fires 100 rounds at "Doody" with his 30-mm gun, critically injuring the mullah.

The child and his father are two of the many victims of the dirty secret operations that NATO conducted for years in Afghanistan. Their fate is described in secret documents to which SPIEGEL was given access. Some of the documents concerning the International Security Assistance Force (ISAF) and the NSA and GCHQ intelligence services are from the archive of whistleblower Edward Snowden. Included is the first known complete list of the Western alliance's "targeted killings" in Afghanistan. The documents show that the deadly missions were not just viewed as a last resort to prevent attacks, but were in fact part of everyday life in the guerilla war in Afghanistan.

more
http://www.spiegel.de/international/world/secret-docs-reveal-dubious-details-of-targeted-killings-in-afghanistan-a-1010358.html

Scientists Discover That Drunk Birds Sing Like Drunks

If you've ever listened to karaoke at a bar, you know that drinking can affect how well someone can sing. Christopher Olson and his colleagues at Oregon Health and Science University recently set out to find if the same was true for birds, specifically zebra finches.

"We just showed up in the morning and mixed a little bit of juice with 6 percent alcohol, and put it in their water bottles and put it in the cages," Olson told All Things Considered's Arun Rath. "At first we were thinking that they wouldn't drink on their own because, you know, a lot of animals just won't touch the stuff. But they seem to tolerate it pretty well and be somewhat willing to consume it."

The finches long have been used as a model to study human vocal learning, or how people learn to communicate using language, Olson said. Obviously, alcohol affects human speech, so Olson and his team checked for similar problems with the birds.

The blood-alcohol levels achieved — .05 to .08 percent — would be laughed off by many college students, but because birds metabolize alcohol differently it was plenty to produce the effects the scientists were looking for.

more
http://www.npr.org/2014/12/28/373649024/scientists-discover-that-drunk-birds-sing-like-drunks

Anti-evolution group sues to block Kansas science standards

An anti-evolution group filed a federal lawsuit Thursday to block Kansas from using new, multistate science standards in its public schools, arguing the guidelines promote atheism and violate students’ and parents’ religious freedom.

The group, Citizens for Objective Public Education, had criticized the standards developed by Kansas, 25 other states and the National Research Council for treating both evolution and climate change as key scientific concepts to be taught from kindergarten through 12th grade. The Kansas State Board of Education adopted them in June to replace evolution-friendly standards that had been in place since 2007.

The new standards, like the ones they replaced, reflect the mainstream scientific view that evolution is well-established. Most board members believed the guidelines will improve science education by shifting the emphasis in science classes to doing hands-on projects and experiments.

The nonprofit organization based in the small community of Peck, south of Wichita, was joined in its lawsuit by 15 parents from across the state with a total of 18 children — most of them in public schools — and two taxpayers from the Kansas City-area community of Lake Quivira. The parents say they’re Christians who want to instill a belief in their children that “life is a creation made for a purpose.”

more

http://cjonline.com/news/2013-09-26/anti-evolution-group-sues-block-kansas-science-standards

A New Jersey bid to privatize water without public votes

A bill that would allow New Jersey municipalities to sell their public water utilities to private, for-profit corporations without putting the measure to voters is awaiting Gov. Chris Christie’s signature.

Until now, any municipality in New Jersey that sought to sell off its water system to a private bidder had to hold a public vote. But a bill passed with bipartisan support by the state’s Senate last week would allow municipalities with aging and deteriorating water systems to put their systems up for sale without holding a referendum.

While supporters of the bill say privatizing water systems could save municipalities money, it allows companies to factor the purchase price of the systems into the rates they charge customers, meaning taxpayers could ultimately be on the hook for the sale of their water systems.

Many New Jersey municipalities have turned to privatization as a way to get quick cash infusions for their deteriorating water systems. According to the Environmental Protection Agency, the state would need $41 billion over the next 20 years to repair its water, stormwater and wastewater systems.

more

http://america.aljazeera.com/articles/2014/12/29/new-jersey-waterprivatization.html

President Obama Has a Curious Definition for the End of War

by Kia Makarechi
President Barack Obama declared the 13-year war in Afghanistan officially over on Sunday, praising the troops and claiming that Americans are safer for their efforts. In Kabul, General John Campbell folded the flag of the International Security Assistance Force, and unfurled the flag of a new mission, Resolute Support.

But while the administration would like to characterize this as a victory, the end of a conflict, it’s more of a re-branding. More than 10,000 United States troops will remain in Afghanistan, and just over one month ago, the president secretly expanded their 2015 combat mission to include fighting with the Taliban and/or al-Qaeda, the Haqqani network, or other insurgent groups. The expansion of duties, which was first reported in The New York Times, also allows for the use of American manned aircraft and drones. Some 4,000 NATO troops will also remain in Afghanistan next year.

According to the United Nations, 2014 is the deadliest year of the war since they began counting casualties in 2008. More than 10,000 civilians are expected to die in Afghanistan by January 1.

“For more than 13 years, ever since nearly 3,000 innocent lives were taken from us on 9/11, our nation has been at war in Afghanistan,” Obama’s statement about the changing missions read. The president highlighted the “extraordinary sacrifices” of troops, some 2,200 of whom have died to date during the $1 trillion war. “We are safer, and our nation is more secure, because of their service,” Obama said.

There were debates about whether fully withdrawing troops by the end of 2014 would further cripple Afghanistan and inflame civil war. There were debates within the administration about whether the remaining troops should be limited in their mission to attack only Taliban targets, as opposed to the Taliban and other insurgent groups. And with ISIS ravaging Iraq after an American pullout that some deemed recklessly hurried, there is a new urgency to the debate about whether Afghan security forces are capable of preventing a similarly collapsed state should Americans leave the country.

more

http://www.vanityfair.com/online/daily/2014/12/obama-end-of-afghan-war

In North Dakota, a Tale of Oil, Corruption and Death

FORT BERTHOLD INDIAN RESERVATION, N.D. — Tex G. Hall, the three-term tribal chairman on this remote, once impoverished reservation, was the very picture of confidence as he strode to the lectern at his third Annual Bakken Oil and Gas Expo and gazed out over a stuffed, backlit mountain lion.

Tall and imposing beneath his black cowboy hat, he faced an audience of political and industry leaders lured from far and wide to the “Texpo,” as some here called it. It was late April at the 4 Bears Casino, and the outsiders endorsed his strong advocacy for oil development and the way he framed it as mutually beneficial for the industry and the reservation: “sovereignty by the barrel.”

“M.H.A. Nation is No. 1 for tribal oil produced on American soil in the United States right now currently today,” Mr. Hall proudly declared, referring to the Mandan, Hidatsa and Arikara Nation.

But, in a hall decorated with rigs and tepees, a dice throw from the slot machines, Mr. Hall’s self-assurance belied the fact that his grip on power was slipping. After six years of dizzyingly rapid oil development, anxiety about the environmental and social costs of the boom, as well as about tribal mismanagement and oil-related corruption, had burst to the surface.

more

http://www.nytimes.com/2014/12/29/us/in-north-dakota-where-oil-corruption-and-bodies-surface.html?_r=1

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