Friday, July 31, 2009

Latest on 'UFO Hacker' Gary McKinnon

excerpt: "British hacker Gary McKinnon has lost his latest High Court bid to avoid extradition to the United States.

The US wants to try the 43-year-old, from Wood Green, north London, for what it calls the biggest military computer hack of all time, in 2001 and 2002.

Mr McKinnon admits hacking, but denies it was malicious or that he caused damage costing $800,000 (£487,000).

Whether or not he can appeal to the UK Supreme Court will be decided at a later date, Lord Justice Burnton said.

He said it was a matter which should be dealt with "as expeditiously as possible"."

Listen to a radio interview with Gary McKinnon:

...and more reference on wiki:

Here is an excerpt from an older Wired Magazine interview with Gary McKinnon regarding his findings:

"After allegedly hacking into NASA websites -- where he says he found images of what looked like extraterrestrial spaceships -- the 40-year-old Briton faces extradition to the United States from his North London home. If convicted, McKinnon could receive a 70-year prison term and up to $2 million in fines.

McKinnon: I knew that governments suppressed antigravity, UFO-related technologies, free energy or what they call zero-point energy. This should not be kept hidden from the public when pensioners can't pay their fuel bills.

WN: Did you find anything in your search for evidence of UFOs?

McKinnon: Certainly did. There is The Disclosure Project. This is a book with 400 testimonials from everyone from air traffic controllers to those responsible for launching nuclear missiles. Very credible witnesses. They talk about reverse-(engineered) technology taken from captured or destroyed alien craft.

WN: Like the Roswell incident of 1947?

McKinnon: I assume that was the first and assume there have been others. These relied-upon people have given solid evidence.

WN: What sort of evidence?

A NASA photographic expert said that there was a Building 8 at Johnson Space Center where they regularly airbrushed out images of UFOs from the high-resolution satellite imaging. I logged on to NASA and was able to access this department. They had huge, high-resolution images stored in their picture files. They had filtered and unfiltered, or processed and unprocessed, files.

My dialup 56K connection was very slow trying to download one of these picture files. As this was happening, I had remote control of their desktop, and by adjusting it to 4-bit color and low screen resolution, I was able to briefly see one of these pictures. It was a silvery, cigar-shaped object with geodesic spheres on either side. There were no visible seams or riveting. There was no reference to the size of the object and the picture was taken presumably by a satellite looking down on it. The object didn't look manmade or anything like what we have created. Because I was using a Java application, I could only get a screenshot of the picture -- it did not go into my temporary internet files. At my crowning moment, someone at NASA discovered what I was doing and I was disconnected.

I also got access to Excel spreadsheets. One was titled "Non-Terrestrial Officers." It contained names and ranks of U.S. Air Force personnel who are not registered anywhere else. It also contained information about ship-to-ship transfers, but I've never seen the names of these ships noted anywhere else.

WN: Could this have been some sort of military strategy game or outline of hypothetical situations?

The military want to have military dominance of space. What I found could be a game -- it's hard to know for certain.

WN: Some say that you have given the UFO motivation for your hacking as a distraction from more nefarious activities.

I was looking before and after 9/11. If I had wanted to distract anyone, I would not have chosen ufology, as this opens me up to ridicule.

Wednesday, July 29, 2009

Patent for podcasting

Updated with clarification from VoloMedia: VoloMedia announced today that it has been awarded what it called the “patent for podcasting.” According to the press announcement, patent number 7,568,213, titled “Method for Providing Episodic Media,” covers:

“…the fundamental mechanisms of podcasting, including providing consumer subscription to a show, automatically downloading media to a computer, prioritizing downloads, providing users with status indication, deleting episodes, and synchronizing episodes to a portable media device.”

Language from the patent claims can be found after the jump, or you can visit the USPTO site for more details.

When asked during a phone interview whether VoloMedia believes competitors are infringing on the patent and whether or not the company plans on enforcing it, founder Murgesh Navar declined to answer, saying only, “We’re not talking about violation or litigation.”

The only specifics Navar did share was that actual content creators wouldn’t be impacted, and that delivery mechanisms other than a PC (such as a set-top box) would fall under this patent. UPDATE: When asked about iTunes, where many people get their podcasts, Navar indicated VoloMedia is in talks with Apple and TV networks, among others, “about growing the business and market.”

VoloMedia, which used be called Podbridge, filed for this particular patent in November 2003 — a time, Navar said, before it was obvious that people would download episodic content such as podcasts.

The patent award couldn’t have come at a better time for the company. It let go of its entire sales team last month to focus on its ad-serving technology. When we reported that story, Navar told us that venture capital term sheets were “imminent,” but when asked about the company’s funding situation for this post, Navar said that there was no update.

VoloMedia has admitted to being open to some kind of merger or acquisition, and trumpeting the fact that it’s been awarded a patent for “podcasting” could certainly be one way to drum up interest in the company.

At this point, we’ll have to see if any potential suitors bite, and whether VoloMedia will bare its teeth and use this patent to take bites out of the podcast market.

Here’s what the patent claims:

1. A method for providing episodic media, the method comprising: providing a user with access to a channel dedicated to episodic media, wherein the episodic media provided over the channel is pre-defined into one or more episodes by a remote publisher of the episodic media; receiving a subscription request to the channel dedicated to the episodic media from the user; automatically downloading updated episodic media associated with the channel dedicated to the episodic media to a computing device associated with the user in accordance with the subscription request upon availability of the updated episodic media, the automatic download occurring without further user interaction; and providing the user with: an indication of a maximum available channel depth, the channel depth indicating a size of episodic media yet to be downloaded from the channel and size of episodic media already downloaded from the channel, the channel depth being specified in playtime or storage resources, and the ability to modify the channel depth by deleting selected episodic media content, thereby overriding the previously configured channel depth.

2. The method of claim 1, further comprising automatically providing the user with an indication of the availability of updated episodic media via the channel dedicated to the episodic media in accordance with the subscription request.

3. The method of claim 1, further comprising synchronizing the updated episodic media automatically downloaded to the computing device associated with the user with a portable computing device communicatively coupled to the computing device associated with the user.

4. The method of claim 3, wherein synchronization of the updated episodic media automatically occurs in response to a predetermined user setting.

5. The method of claim 3, wherein synchronization of the updated episodic media occurs in response to a request received from the user.

6. The method of claim 1, wherein the updated episodic media is made available to users not associated with the computing device over a local area network.

7. The method of claim 1, wherein the automatic download is further based on a priority assigned to the channel.

8. The method of claim 3, wherein the channel dedicated to the episodic media is reduced in size during synchronization in order to fit available cache storage within the portable device.

9. The method of claim 1, wherein the channel dedicated to the episodic media is modified in size by removing one or more episodes of episodic media.

Tuesday, July 28, 2009

Taxations considered in budget crunch

Gambling, strip clubs, and legalization of marijuana considered for raising taxes

Venezuela cuts diplomatic ties with Colombia

(CNN) -- Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez froze diplomatic ties with neighboring Colombia, citing verbal "aggressions" from that country, he said in a televised speech Tuesday.

The announcement follows declarations from the Colombian government that anti-tank weapons purchased by Venezuela from Sweden ended up in the hands of the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia, or FARC.

Chavez recalled Venezuela's ambassador to Colombia, as well as most of its staff.

"Leave only the lowest functionaries" at the embassy, Chavez said.

Chavez also threatened to take over Colombian companies operating in Venezuela. If Colombia offends Venezuela one more time, he said, "the Colombian companies here will be expropriated."

Colombia's claims are "mistaken," added Chavez, who called the country's leaders "irresponsible."

Monday, July 27, 2009

Merce Cunningham 1919-2009

Chinese Scientists Reprogram Cells to Create Mice


Two teams of Chinese researchers working separately have reprogrammed mature skin cells of mice to an embryonic-like state and used the resulting cells to create live mouse offspring.

View Full Image
A picture released by Nature magazine shows Xiao Xiao, or Tiny in Chinese, the first baby mouse created from reprogrammed skin cells.
Agence France-Presse/Getty Images

The reprogramming may bring scientists one step closer to creating medically useful stem-cell lines for treating human disease without having to resort to controversial laboratory techniques. However, the advance poses fresh ethical challenges because the results could make it easier to create human clones and babies with specific genetic traits.

The latest findings are a bit of a surprise, given that Chinese scientists' contribution to lab-based stem-cell research has been modest over the years. However, Chinese scientists have been publishing more basic-research findings than in the past. The country is more known for its growing trade in unproven stem-cell therapies that have attracted patients from around the world. Reports suggest that China's health authorities have moved to regulate such activities.

Reprogramming has become the hottest area of stem-cell science. For more than two years, scientists have been reprogramming mature mouse- and human-skin cells and returning them to a primordial, embryonic-like state. The approach has taken off because it sidesteps the cloning and embryo-destroying techniques traditionally used to derive true embryonic stem-cell lines.

However, one big question has been whether reprogrammed cells are as versatile as true embryonic cells, and whether they can form all of the cells in an embryo. Using reprogrammed cells to create live offspring with normal organs and body tissues has been considered an important test. Chinese scientists now have shown that this is possible in mice.

In their study published in the journal Nature, scientists led by Qi Zhou of the Chinese Academy of Sciences in Beijing described how they injected reprogrammed mouse cells into an early-stage embryo to see whether the introduced cells contributed to the tissue of the eventual fetus. Of 37 stem-cell lines created by reprogramming, three yielded 27 live offspring. One of these pups, a seven-week-old male named "Tiny," mated with a female and produced young of its own.

In a similar experiment, Shaorong Gao and colleagues from the National Institute of Biological Sciences in Beijing got four live births, including one mouse pup that made it to healthy adulthood. Their results were published online in the journal Cell Stem Cell.

The results don't necessarily prove that reprogrammed cells have the same properties as true embryonic stem cells. Scientists previously have injected cells that cannot be converted into other tissue into an early-stage embryo. To their surprise -- and this might reflect the power of any embryo -- even those cells got incorporated into fetal tissue.

Dozens of scientists have now created reprogrammed human cell lines, and the techniques are being constantly refined. What if the same experiment, as reported in China, were carried out in humans? To do so, a skin cell, say, could be reprogrammed to an embryonic-like state, then injected into an early-stage human embryo, obtainable from many fertility clinics.

The result of that experiment will likely be a human chimera -- a person that shares genes from two people but isn't the result of natural reproduction. The more refined such experiments get, the closer they will get to cloning.

In the Nature paper, the scientists reported that some of their offspring mice were as much as 95% genetically identical to the adult mouse whose cells were originally reprogrammed -- very close to an exact clone. For that reason, most scientists won't even try to repeat the Chinese experiments in humans.

But it could be done. "There's no biological reason why, if you inject human reprogrammed cells into a human embryo, it won't create a clone," or at least a chimera, says Robert Lanza, a stem-cell scientist at Advanced Cell Technology Inc. in Worcester, Mass. "All you need are somebody's skin cells to create a human baby." Dr. Lanza predicts this could happen in a place where the rules about creating chimeras and human clones are a lot more lax than in the U.S.

Write to Gautam Naik at

Saturday, July 25, 2009

China launches Arabic TV channel

By Michael Bristow
BBC News, Beijing

CCTV's new headquarters building in Beijing, China - 2 August 2009
CCTV has built a landmark new building in Beijing

China is launching an Arabic-language TV channel to show the Middle East and North Africa the "real" China.

China Central Television's station will broadcast news, entertainment and cultural programmes 24 hours a day.

It is part of the Chinese government's plan to promote its own viewpoints by encouraging state-controlled media organisations to go global.

Beijing, while saying that some foreign broadcasters misrepresent China, tightly restricts its own media.

'Distorted views'

"It is imperative for us to be a multi-language, multi-faceted and multi-perspective broadcaster," said Zhang Changming, vice-president of CCTV.

Speaking at a launch event, he added: "[We hope] the world can know China and China can know the rest of the world even better."

CCTV already has four international channels that broadcast in English, French and Spanish, as well as Chinese.

The new Arabic channel will be accessible for nearly 300 million people in 22 Arabic-speaking countries from 25 July.

CCTV managers discuss the Arabic channel
CCTV will present the world with the real China
Zhang Changming
Vice-president, CCTV

The broadcaster declined to comment on how much the channel was costing and how many viewers it is hoping to attract.

It will have an initial staff of about 80 and is being fronted by Arabic-speaking Chinese presenters.

Mr Zhang made it clear that the aim was to counter some of the "distorted" views about China that are put out by a number of foreign broadcasters.

"Our principle is to be real, to be objective, to be accurate and transparent. CCTV will present the world with the real China," he said.

He did not mention that Chinese media outlets are routinely censored by the government and face tight restrictions about what stories they can cover.

Expansion plans

CCTV also plans to launch a Russian-language channel in September and is not the only Chinese media organisation to have expanded.

In April the Chinese-language Global Times newspaper launched an English edition with the aim of promoting Chinese people's views to foreigners.

China has long complained about what it says are biased and unfair reports about the country carried by foreign media outlets.

There was a government-backed campaign against the "prejudiced" foreign media last year following the unrest in Tibet, which led to death threats to some foreign correspondents based in China.

But China is not the only country broadcasting to the Middle East. Last year the UK's BBC launched its own publicly funded Arabic TV channel.

Friday, July 24, 2009

Shanghai urges 'two-child policy'

Officials in Shanghai are urging parents to have a second child, the first time in decades the government has actively encouraged procreation.

A public information campaign has been launched to highlight exemptions to the country's one-child policy.

Couples who were both only children, which includes most of the city's newly-weds, are allowed a second child.

The move comes as China's most populous city becomes richer and older, with the number of retired residents soaring.

"Shanghai's over-60 population already exceeds three million, or 21.6% of registered residents," said Zhang Meixin, a spokesman for the city's Municipal Population and Family Planning Commission.

Leaflet campaign

He said the current average number of children born to a woman over her lifetime was less than one.

If the country continues as it is, the proportion of elderly people in society will continue to increase.

This is a problem because it will leave a smaller group of workers paying for the country's retired population.

But central government officials have consistently ruled out changing the national family planning policy.

They still believe that China has too many people - an opinion shared by almost everyone in the country.

That has left individual cities, such as Shanghai, to think up ways of coping with their own ageing communities.

"If all couples have children according to the policy, it would definitely help relieve pressure in the long term," he added.

Decades of a strictly enforced one-child policy has produced new strains across the population and prompted exceptions in some family categories. Rural parents are also allowed to have a second child, if the first-born is a girl.

In Shanghai, family planning officials and volunteers will make home visits and slip leaflets under doors to encourage couples to have a second child if both grew up as only children.

Emotional and financial counselling will also be provided, officials said.

By 2020, the country's most populous city is expected to have more than a third of residents aged 60 or above.

Policy relaxed

According to the US-based Center for Strategic and International Studies, by 2050 the country will have just 1.6 working-age adults to support each retired person, compared to 7.7 in 1975.

The state-controlled newspaper China Daily quoted one salesman who said he was cheered by the new attitude.

Written into the constitution in 1978
Government says has prevented about 400 million births
Many rural couples allowed second child if first is a girl
Parents who are themselves only children can have two children
Ethnic minority couples allowed two or more children

"I'm not sure, but such policy really gives us one more option. If family finance permits, I want to have two kids with my wife in the future," said 25-year-old Xiao Wang, who works at a local company.

Others were less enthusiastic.

"I don't think we will have a second kid," said 26-year-old Xiao Chen, an office worker. "After all, it is stressful work raising a child."

Couples who ignore China's birth control policies usually pay fines and may face discrimination at work.

The many only children of China have earned the nickname of "little emperors" for the love and treats lavished upon them.

China's birth-control policies have been hugely controversial at home and abroad, as enforcement has involved forced abortions and other abuses.

It has also been blamed for a gender imbalance, as a traditional preference for boys has persuaded some parents to abort girl foetuses.

Thursday, July 23, 2009

Artificial Brain '10 Years Away'

A detailed, functional artificial human brain can be built within the next 10 years, a leading scientist has claimed.

Henry Markram, director of the Blue Brain Project, has already simulated elements of a rat brain.

He told the TED Global conference in Oxford that a synthetic human brain would be of particular use finding treatments for mental illnesses.

Around two billion people are thought to suffer some kind of brain impairment, he said.

"It is not impossible to build a human brain and we can do it in 10 years," he said.

"And if we do succeed, we will send a hologram to TED to talk."

'Shared fabric'

The Blue Brain project was launched in 2005 and aims to reverse engineer the mammalian brain from laboratory data.

In particular, his team has focused on the neocortical column - repetitive units of the mammalian brain known as the neocortex.
The team are trying to reverse engineer the brain

"It's a new brain," he explained. "The mammals needed it because they had to cope with parenthood, social interactions complex cognitive functions.

"It was so successful an evolution from mouse to man it expanded about a thousand fold in terms of the numbers of units to produce this almost frightening organ."

And that evolution continues, he said. "It is evolving at an enormous speed."

Over the last 15 years, Professor Markram and his team have picked apart the structure of the neocortical column.

"It's a bit like going and cataloguing a bit of the rainforest - how may trees does it have, what shape are the trees, how many of each type of tree do we have, what is the position of the trees," he said.

"But it is a bit more than cataloguing because you have to describe and discover all the rules of communication, the rules of connectivity."

The project now has a software model of "tens of thousands" of neurons - each one of which is different - which has allowed them to digitally construct an artificial neocortical column.

Although each neuron is unique, the team has found the patterns of circuitry in different brains have common patterns.

"Even though your brain may be smaller, bigger, may have different morphologies of neurons - we do actually share the same fabric," he said.

"And we think this is species specific, which could explain why we can't communicate across species."

World view

To make the model come alive, the team feeds the models and a few algorithms into a supercomputer.

"You need one laptop to do all the calculations for one neuron," he said. "So you need ten thousand laptops."
Computer-generated image of a human brain
The research could give insights into brain disease

Instead, he uses an IBM Blue Gene machine with 10,000 processors.

Simulations have started to give the researchers clues about how the brain works.

For example, they can show the brain a picture - say, of a flower - and follow the electrical activity in the machine.

"You excite the system and it actually creates its own representation," he said.

Ultimately, the aim would be to extract that representation and project it so that researchers could see directly how a brain perceives the world.

But as well as advancing neuroscience and philosophy, the Blue Brain project has other practical applications.

For example, by pooling all the world's neuroscience data on animals - to create a "Noah's Ark", researchers may be able to build animal models.

"We cannot keep on doing animal experiments forever," said Professor Markram.

It may also give researchers new insights into diseases of the brain.

"There are two billion people on the planet affected by mental disorder," he told the audience.

The project may give insights into new treatments, he said.

The TED Global conference runs from 21 to 24 July in Oxford, UK.

MIT Electric Car May Outperform Rival Gas Models

"Inside a plain-looking garage on the Massachusetts Institute of Technology's campus, undergraduate Radu Gogoana and his team of fellow students are working on a project that could rival what major automobile manufacturers are doing. The team's goal is to build an all-electric car with similar performance capabilities of gasoline-only counterparts, which includes a top speed of about 161 kph, a family sedan capacity, a range of about 320 kilometers and the ability to recharge in about 10 minutes. They hope to complete the project, which they chronicle on their blog, by the third quarter of 2010. Each member of MIT's Electric Vehicle Team works almost 100 hours a week on the project they call elEVen. 'Right now the thing that differentiates us is that we're exploring rapid recharge,' Gogoana said during an interview. He said that many of today's electric vehicles take between two to 12 hours to recharge and he doesn't know of any commercially available, rapidly recharging vehicles."

MIT Electric Vehicle Blog

Saturday, July 18, 2009

Brett Johnson Reception Tonight 7/18/09, 5-8pm

Reception held tonight from 5-8pm at Little and Ward Funeral Home in Commerce.

Little and Ward
115 State St.
Commerce, GA

Mr. Brett Donald Johnson, age 37, of Pendergrass, GA died Friday, July 17, 2009 at Gwinnett Medical Center. Mr. Johnson was born in Fairfield County, CT to Bing and Nancy Christopherson Johnson of Hartwell, GA. He was employed as a pharmacist with Publix.

In addition to his parents, Mr. Johnson is survived by his wife, Amelia Kay Fry Johnson of Pendergrass; son, Jake Johnson of Pendergrass; and a sister, Stacy Vanden Heuvel of Hendersonville, NC.

Funeral services will be at 3 PM, Sunday, July 19, 2009 at Commerce Presbyterian Church with the Rev. R. Monty Nelson officiating. Interment will follow in Grey Hill Cemetery. The family will receive friends at the funeral home Saturday night from 5-8 PM.

Friday, July 17, 2009

Brett D. Johnson Memorial Service Sunday 7/19/09

On Thursday July 18th, Brett D. Johnson was killed in an auto accident by a drunk driver.
He is survived by his wife, Amy and his son, Jake.

I apologize for those who are receiving the news in this way. The family asked that I post an announcement to connect to all of you who knew Brett through school.

Brett has been one of my closest and most trusted friends since we were 14 years old.

Services at 3pm this Sunday 7/19/09
Commerce Presbyterian Church
89 Lake View Drive
Commerce, GA

Thursday, July 16, 2009

Iranian nuclear chief 'resigns'

"The head of Iran's nuclear organisation, Gholam Reza Aghazadeh, has resigned, according to the Isna news agency.

The report said the nuclear chief had submitted a letter of resignation to President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad nearly three weeks ago.

It was not immediately clear what triggered the resignation.

Iran says its nuclear programme is for peaceful purposes, denying Western claims that it wants a nuclear bomb.

Mr Aghazadeh also stepped down as the country's vice-president, Isna reported.

Correspondents say Mr Aghazadeh is a veteran official who served as oil minister before taking up his post at the atomic organisation under former President Mohammad Khatami."

Chinese Growth

"China's economy grew at an annual rate of 7.9% between April and June, up from 6.1% in the first quarter, thanks to the government's big stimulus package."

Wednesday, July 15, 2009

India to issue all 1.2 billion citizens with biometric ID cards

It is surely the biggest Big Brother project yet conceived. India is to issue each of its 1.2 billion citizens, millions of whom live in remote villages and possess no documentary proof of existence, with cyber-age biometric identity cards.

The Government in Delhi recently created the Unique Identification Authority, a new state department charged with the task of assigning every living Indian an exclusive number. It will also be responsible for gathering and electronically storing their personal details, at a predicted cost of at least £3 billion.

The task will be led by Nandan Nilekani, the outsourcing sage who coined the phrase “the world is flat”, which became a mantra for supporters of globalisation. “It is a humongous, mind-boggling challenge,” he told The Times. “But we have the opportunity to give every Indian citizen, for the first time, a unique identity. We can transform the country.”

India’s legions of local bureaucrats currently issue at least 20 proofs of identity, including birth certificates, driving licences and ration cards. None is accepted universally and moving from one state to the next can easily render a citizen officially invisible — a disastrous predicament for the millions of poor who rely on state handouts to survive.

It is hoped that the ID scheme will close such bureaucratic black holes while also fighting corruption. It may also be put to more controversial ends, such as the identification of illegal immigrants and tackling terrorism. A computer chip in each card will contain personal data and proof of identity, such as fingerprint or iris scans. Criminal records and credit histories may also be included.

Mr Nilekani, who left Infosys, the outsourcing giant that he co-founded, to take up his new job, wants the cards to be linked to a “ubiquitous online database” accessible from anywhere.

The danger, experts say, is that as one of the world’s largest stores of personal information, it will prove an irresistible target for identity thieves. “The database will be one of the largest that ever gets built,” Guru Malladi, a partner at Ernst & Young who was involved in an earlier pilot scheme, said. “It will have to be impregnable.”

Mr Nilekani will also have to mastermind a way of collecting trustworthy data. Only about 75 million people — or less than 7 per cent of the population — are registered to pay income tax. The Electoral Commission’s voter lists are thought to be largely inaccurate, not least because of manipulation by corrupt politicians.

He will also have to persuade as many as 60 government departments to co-operate. The Government has said that the first cards will be issued within 18 months. Analysts feel that it will take at least four years for the project to reach “critical mass”.

Such is the scale of the project that analysts believe India will have to develop a new electronics manufacturing base to supply information-storing servers, computer chips and card readers.

For the time being Mr Nilekani has more mundane matters on his mind. “I’ve only just left my previous job,” he said. “First I have to find a new office.”

Keeping tabs around the world

• Compulsory national identity cards are used in about 100 countries including Germany, France, Belgium, Greece, Luxembourg, Portugal and Spain

• ID cards are not used in the US, Canada, New Zealand, Australia, the Irish Republic or Nordic countries

• German police can detain people who are not carrying their ID card for up to 24 hours

• The Bush Administration resisted calls for an identity card in the US after the terrorist attacks on September 11, 2001

• In Australia street protests in the 1980s forced the Government to abandon its plans for a card

• Plastic cards are favoured over paper documents because they are harder to forge

• Most identity cards contain the name, sex, date of birth and a unique number for the holder

• South Korean, Brazilian, Italian and Malaysian ID cards contain fingerprints. Cards in some countries contain information on any distinguishing marks of the holder

• Objections to card schemes have focused on the cost and invasion of privacy

• Supporters say that they prevent illegal immigration and fraud

• In the European Union some cards can be used instead of a passport for European travel

'Repulsive' Side To Light Force Could Control Nanodevices

ScienceDaily (July 13, 2009)

A team of Yale University researchers has discovered a "repulsive" light force that can be used to control components on silicon microchips, meaning future nanodevices could be controlled by light rather than electricity.

The team previously discovered an "attractive" force of light and showed how it could be manipulated to move components in semiconducting micro- and nano-electrical systems—tiny mechanical switches on a chip. The scientists have now uncovered a complementary repulsive force. Researchers had theorized the existence of both the attractive and repulsive forces since 2005, but the latter had remained unproven until now. The team, led by Hong Tang, assistant professor at Yale's School of Engineering & Applied Science, reports its findings in the July 13 edition of Nature Photonics's advanced online publication.

"This completes the picture," Tang said. "We've shown that this is indeed a bipolar light force with both an attractive and repulsive component."

The attractive and repulsive light forces Tang's team discovered are separate from the force created by light's radiation pressure, which pushes against an object as light shines on it. Instead, they push out or pull in sideways from the direction the light travels.

Previously, the engineers used the attractive force they discovered to move components on the silicon chip in one direction, such as pulling on a nanoscale switch to open it, but were unable to push it in the opposite direction.

Using both forces means they can now have complete control and can manipulate components in both directions. "We've demonstrated that these are tunable forces we can engineer," Tang said.

In order to create the repulsive force, or the "push," on a silicon chip, the team split a beam of infrared light into two separate beams and forced each one to travel a different length of silicon nanowire, called a waveguide. As a result, the two light beams became out of phase with one another, creating a repulsive force with an intensity that can be controlled—the more out of phase the two light beams, the stronger the force.

"We can control how the light beams interact," said Mo Li, a postdoctoral associate in electrical engineering at Yale and lead author of the paper. "This is not possible in free space—it is only possible when light is confined in the nanoscale waveguides that are placed so close to each other on the chip."

"The light force is intriguing because it works in the opposite way as charged objects," said Wolfram Pernice, another postdoctoral fellow in Tang's group. "Opposite charges attract each other, whereas out-of-phase light beams repel each other in this case."

These light forces may one day control telecommunications devices that would require far less power but would be much faster than today's conventional counterparts, Tang said. An added benefit of using light rather than electricity is that it can be routed through a circuit with almost no interference in signal, and it eliminates the need to lay down large numbers of electrical wires.

Funding for the project includes a seed grant from the U.S. Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency and a Young Faculty Award from the National Science Foundation.

Vietnamese Security Firm names UK as Source of Cyber Attacks

UK, not North Korea, source of DDOS attacks, researcher says

Analysis contradicts assertions made by some governments of North Korean involvement
Martyn Williams (IDG News Service) 14/07/2009 15:02:00

The U.K. was the likely source of a series of attacks last week that took down popular Web sites in the U.S. and South Korea, according to an analysis performed by a Vietnamese computer security analyst.

The results contradict assertions made by some in the U.S. and South Korean governments that North Korea was behind the attack. Security analysts had been skeptical of the claims, which were reportedly made in off-the-record briefings and for which proof was never delivered.

The week-long distributed denial of service attack involved sending multiple requests to a handful of Web sites from tens of thousands of computers so the sites became overloaded. Among the sites taken offline at some time during the week were those of the U.S. Departments of Transportation and Treasury, the U.S. Federal Trade Commission, the South Korea's president's home page, the South Korean national assembly and U.S. Forces Korea.

The computers used to send the flood of requests had been infected with a virus that allowed attackers to use them anonymously.

Every three minutes the infected computers randomly selected one of eight servers to connect to and receive orders, said Nguyen Minh Duc, senior security director at Bach Khoa Internetwork Security (Bkis), in a blog posting on the company's Web site. Bkis says it gained control of two of the eight servers and through this has been able to discover the master server.

That server has an IP address in the 195.90.118.x range, Nguyen said.

The address is registered to Global Digital Broadcast in the U.K. The company could not immediately be contacted.

"Having located the attacking source in UK, we believed that it is completely possible to find out the hacker," Nguyen wrote.

Through analyzing the log files of the two servers it controls, Bkis said the attacks utilized 166,908 PCs in 74 countries that had been infected. That figure is significantly higher than the "several tens of thousands" that other security companies had estimated were involved.

The largest number of infected PCs were in South Korea followed by the U.S., China, Japan, Canada, Australia, the Philippines, New Zealand, the U.K. and Vietnam.

Sunday, July 12, 2009

Obama's philosophy of Behavioral Economics

The Obama administration has embraced the assumption that people are hard wired for failure and must be motivated by economic reward, as exemplified by a program which now pays inner city girls for every day that they do not get pregnant.

The ideology, branded as behavioral economics, has been rolled out as a sophisticated and smart method backed by leading psychologists, though critical economists suggest that the theories are founded on a collection of anomalies and don't hold up in the real world.

A friend who grew up in public housing was outraged, stating 'Well, then I suppose I should be paid for every day that I am out of prison.'

I heard the article on NPR and probed around for reference - the NPR audio is available, along with a mix of other sources. Certainly there are supportive media pieces being rolled out.

From the article "Using Psychology To Save You From Yourself":

"Cass Sunstein, President Obama's pick to head the Office of Information and Regulatory Affairs, was a vocal supporter of the program, because it was an economic policy that shaped itself around human psychology. Sunstein is just one of a number of high-level appointees now working in the Obama administration who favors this kind of approach.

All are devotees of behavioral economics — a school of economic thought greatly influenced by psychological research — which argues that the human animal is hard-wired to make errors when it comes to decision-making, and therefore people need a little "nudge" to make decisions that are in their own best interests.

And that is exactly what Obama administration officials plan to do: By taking account of human psychology, they hope to save you from yourself."

NPR on behavioral economics:


An article about the program for paying teens to avoid pregnancy - yes, its Fox News, get over it:,2933,529037,00.html

Link to the program itself 'College Bound Sisters' at UNCG School of Nursing:

Time Magazine's very supportive take on behavioral economics:,9171,1889153,00.html

USA Today:

Wall Street Journal:

Study recommends total ban on smoking for soldiers

What better time to quit smoking than when you are down in a fox hole?

"A new study commissioned by the Pentagon and the Department of Veterans Affairs recommends a complete ban on tobacco, which would end tobacco sales on military bases and prohibit smoking by anyone in uniform, not even combat troops in the thick of battle."

Cocaine routes to Europe from Venezuela via W. Africa

The military government of Guinea says it has put the army on high alert at all border posts after uncovering plans for an attack on the country. The West African state said armed men were gathering on the borders with Guinea-Bissau and Senegal to the north and Liberia to the south.

An announcement on state-run national radio said drugs cartels were believed to be behind the plans.

Friday, July 10, 2009

Chinese "Web Addicts" Get Boot Camp, Therapy

"A large number of Chinese parents are finding their teenagers to be exhibiting such psychological symptoms as depression, antisocial behavior, and slipping grades. The cause: Internet addiction. World of Warcraft and Counter-Strike rank beside Chinese role-playing games as those that hook the most patients, says Tao Ran, the founder of a youth rehabilitation center on a Beijing army base. Online chat programs more often hook girls, who make up a handful of Tao's current 70 patients. The teens are subjected to a 'strict regimen of military drills, martial arts training, lectures and sessions with psychiatrists.' And, most importantly: no Internet."

Wednesday, July 8, 2009

Ron Paul’s bipartisan attack on the Fed

His proposed audit has drawn on widening anger with central bank

Mark Wilson / AP
Rep. Paul wants to audit the Fed primarily because he wants to destroy it; the audit bill is just the latest chapter in his lifelong crusade against it.

Ron Paul's legislative history is a lesson in principled failure. Among the bills he has co-sponsored: ending U.S. cooperation with the United Nations, a repeal of antitrust law "to restore the inherent benefits of the market economy," and stripping the government of the right to set a minimum wage. Just last week, he again introduced a bill "to repeal the Gun-Free School Zones Act of 1990," which would presumably make schools less safe but which would reinforce our right to bear arms. For Paul, ideology almost always trumps politics.

None of these bills, I should note, have picked up much support. And Paul's track record with economic legislation isn't any better. His perennial efforts — shifting the country back toward a gold standard, abolishing the personal income tax, and dismantling the Federal Reserve — are nonstarters. They so change the very fabric of this country that Paul can't marshal his colleagues to his side.

Which is why Paul's most recent legislative accomplishment is so impressive. He has rallied the majority of the House to support his new cause: an audit of the Federal Reserve. Legislators are sick of not knowing what's going on inside Bernanke's fortress, especially as the Fed becomes further enmeshed in the nation's fiscal policy. Paul's little bill has become emblematic of a larger movement, one that could spell trouble for Obama's troubled regulatory plan. Ron Paul — always an enemy of regulation — is now an enemy of Obama. And a mighty powerful one at that.
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Paul wants to audit the Fed primarily because he wants to destroy it; the audit bill is just the latest chapter in Paul's lifelong crusade against it. His vendetta is fueled by the belief that the Federal Reserve is unconstitutional, a central bank within a country that doesn't allow central banks. That the Fed can manipulate the currency and "create legal tender out of thin air" is heresy. And so Paul attempts to dismantle it the only way he can: through legislation.

Thus we come to the audit. For Paul it's a foot in the door to a much larger goal. To the 244 co-sponsors — 74 of them Democrats — it's a way to show their constituents that they're worried, too, about where taxpayer dollars are going. It's an amusing dissonance between the leader of the rebellion and his revolutionaries. The two parties are after entirely separate goals, one (transparency) vastly more achievable than the other (the end of the Federal Reserve).

This again makes Paul's coalition all the more remarkable. The distrust of the Fed has reached a point at which a majority of House members are following a radical into battle. Congress' frustration was evident last month when Bernanke got roasted in front of Congress, putting his future as Fed chairman and the health of Obama's regulatory plan in doubt.

Obama's proposal is to make the Fed a super-regulator; one that can both intervene and responsibly interfere whenever necessary. It would keep tabs on all the financial institutions that are too big to fail — banks and insurers, mainly — and, theoretically, keep the economy safer from major shocks like the one we just went through. But critics say that the Fed is partly to blame for getting us into this mess, and its track record when trying to cushion a bank's fall is suspect.

This is where the trouble begins. The Obama administration hasn't promised to make the Fed any more transparent despite making it all the more powerful. Already over the past year the Fed's role has become as large as the financial crisis was urgent. Yet we don't know anything more about how the Fed does its business now than we did before it started guaranteeing trillions of dollars of assets. The Fed's responsibilities have matured, but its personality has not. It is still the gifted child that can do whatever it wants — and its parents are still so in awe of its intelligence that they don't ask any questions.

The audit bill would change that; Obama's regulatory plan would not. The Obama administration has offered typical platitudes about accountability but doesn't have specifics about how it would work. Ironically, a regulatory plan that's all about increased openness and transparency for the markets may fail to apply the same standards on its newly empowered regulator.

And so we're building toward a very interesting clash within the financial and political communities. Think of it as a math proof: Because of Ron Paul and the audit bill, we already know that Congress doesn't like the Fed. It feels this way because of the relationship between two variables: power and accountability. The Fed has too much power and too little accountability. Congress believes the two variables should have equal values. They do not, so Congress does not approve. Now, if you give the Fed more power but not more responsibility, this is going to make Congress upset. So upset that they may not pass the new regulatory legislation.

And so Obama finds himself in a difficult spot. He needs Congress on his side for a host of other legislation, so he may need to appease them here. But if he makes the Fed more accountable, the agency becomes even more a part of the government than it already is. This would be fine, except for the fact that the Fed isn't supposed to be a part of the government. So there's that.

But something has to give. Paul's Gang of 244 is fed up. They're ready to kill something. It will probably be Obama's regulatory plan. Then again, with Paul leading the charge you never know. It may be something central, something federal, something reserved. Never underestimate Ron Paul. Even if there's no reason not to.

July 4th Cyber Attacks on US, S Korea govt. sites, N Korea, China suspected

U.S. officials refused to publicly discuss details of the cyber attack. But Amy Kudwa, spokeswoman for the Homeland Security Department, said the agency's U.S. Computer Emergency Readiness Team issued a notice to federal departments and other partner organizations about the problems and "advised them of steps to take to help mitigate against such attacks."

The U.S., she said, sees attacks on its networks every day, and measures have been put in place to minimize the impact on federal Web sites.

It was not clear whether other federal government sites also were attacked.

'A lot of computers involved'
Others familiar with the U.S. outage, which is called a denial of service attack, said that the fact that the government Web sites were still being affected three days after it began signaled an unusually lengthy and sophisticated attack. The officials spoke on condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to speak on the matter.

"It certainly seems to be a well-organized attack," an anonymous government official told The Washington Post. "There are a lot of computers involved. What we don't know is who is orchestrating it."

In South Korea, the sites of 11 organizations including the presidential Blue House, the Defense Ministry, the National Assembly, Shinhan Bank, Korea Exchange Bank and top Internet portal Naver went down or had access problems since late Tuesday, said Ahn Jeong-eun, a spokeswoman at Korea Information Security Agency.

They appeared to be linked to the knockout in the United States, though investigators are still unsure who was behind the attacks, Ahn said.

An initial investigation found that many personal computers were infected with a virus ordering them to visit major official Web sites in South Korea and the U.S. at the same time, Korea Information Security Agency official Shin Hwa-su said.

South Korea's Yonhap news agency said that military intelligence officers were looking at the possibility that the attack may have been committed by North Korean hackers and pro-North Korea forces in South Korea.

South Korea's Defense Ministry said it could not immediately confirm the report.

South Korean media reported in May that North Korea was running a cyber warfare unit that tries to hack into U.S. and South Korean military networks to gather confidential information and disrupt service.

Yang Moo-jin, a professor at Seoul's University of North Korean Studies, said he doubts whether the impoverished North has the capability to knock down the Web sites.

But Hong Hyun-ik, an analyst at the Sejong Institute think tank, said the attack could have been done by either North Korea or China, saying he "heard North Korea has been working hard to hack into" South Korean networks.

Two government officials acknowledged that the Treasury and Secret Service sites were brought down, and said the agencies were working with their Internet service provider to resolve the problem.

Ben Rushlo, director of Internet technologies at Keynote Systems, called it a "massive outage" and said problems with the Transportation Department site began Saturday and continued until Monday, while the FTC site was down Sunday and Monday.

Keynote Systems is a mobile and Web site monitoring company based in San Mateo, Calif. The company publishes data detailing outages on Web sites, including 40 government sites it watches.

According to Rushlo, the Transportation Web site was "100 percent down" for two days, so that no Internet users could get through to it. The FTC site, meanwhile, started to come back online late Sunday, but even on Tuesday Internet users still were unable to get to the site 70 percent of the time.

"This is very strange. You don't see this," he said. "Having something 100 percent down for a 24-hour-plus period is a pretty significant event."

He added that, "The fact that it lasted for so long and that it was so significant in its ability to bring the site down says something about the site's ability to fend off (an attack) or about the severity of the attack."

Denial of service attacks against Web sites are not uncommon, and are usually caused when sites are deluged with Internet traffic so as to effectively take them off-line. Mounting such an attack can be relatively easy using widely available hacking programs, and they can be made far more serious if hackers infect and use thousands of computers tied together into "botnets."

For instance, last summer, in the weeks leading up to the war between Russia and Georgia, Georgian government and corporate Web sites began to see "denial of service" attacks. The Kremlin denied involvement, but a group of independent Western computer experts traced domain names and Web site registration data to conclude that the Russian security and military intelligence agencies were involved.

According to The Washington Post, Joe Stewart, the director of malware research at Atlanta based SecureWorks, said the attack software contained few clues about its origins, although a line of text deep in within the malware carried the cryptic message "get/china/dns."

Documenting cyber attacks against government sites is difficult, and depends heavily on how agencies characterize an incident and how successful or damaging it is.

Government officials routinely say their computers are probed millions of times a day, with many of those being scans that don't trigger any problems. In a June report, the congressional Government Accountability Office said federal agencies reported more than 16,000 threats or incidents last year, roughly three times the amount in 2007. Most of those involved unauthorized access to the system, violations of computer use policies or investigations into potentially harmful incidents.

The Homeland Security Department, meanwhile, says there were 5,499 known breaches of U.S. government computers in 2008, up from 3,928 the previous year, and just 2,172 in 2006.

Monday, July 6, 2009

Sony Patents A Motion Control System That Uses Ordinary Objects As Controllers

By Spencer . July 2, 2009 . 3:24pm

"We saw Sony unveil a LED wand during their E3 press conference. The device in conjunction with an EyeToy camera brought motion control to the PlayStation 3. In addition to that Sony developed another motion control system that uses everyday objects.

A recently published patent from Sony details a system where a camera can dynamically map an object — any real world object — for use in a video game. The illustration has a U shape block, but the patent outlines other example objects “include items such as coffee mugs, drinking glasses, books, bottles, etc.” While these are given as examples the object mapping system is not limited to those objects, it can identify any three dimensional object.

Before using an object like the U shaped block the camera captures has to capture it. Figure 2 explains the system where players show the object, rotate it, and save a profile for it in a file. The system then analyzes movements and translates them into in game actions.

Here are some examples of how Sony could use this technology. The “virtual world light sword” in figure 3B is particularly interesting. When a player holds the U-shaped block up the sword is “on” and the blade will be extended in the game. When the U-shaped block is upside down the sword is “off”.

The system looks like Microsoft’s Project Natal, but instead of driving with an imaginary steering wheel players can use an everyday item like a plate."

Sunday, July 5, 2009

The Things You See...

Click for detail:

OK, Linda, who is this? It seems to have a puncture which may be why it wasn't flying:

Saturday, July 4, 2009

Tesla Roadster: New video

See also,motor-tech-teslas-upgrade-to-right-hand-drive-evokes-exotic-electric-car-future.aspx

"The Tesla Roadster has almost mythical status among electric car enthusiasts. It's fast, with high torque over a wide RPM range, and can beat a Ferrari in terms of acceleration. Now Tesla has released new video of its upcoming new electric car, called the Model S, which Tesla Motors claims is the world's first mass produced fully-electric vehicle. Unlike the Lotus-Elise based Roadster, the Model S is a traditional sedan of the type millions of commuters might actually drive. Tesla claims it will fit seven people, and has mounted a rather large 17in LCD in the dash. Key to Telsa's future will be the evolution of lithium-ion battery technology. Tesla Motors claiming the new Model S can travel up to 300 miles on a single charge, but the battery will still take 45 minutes to quick-recharge."

Calm urged after N Korea missiles

Russia, China and the US have all called for calm after North Korea test-fired a series of missiles.

Seven Scud-type ballistic missiles with a range of about 500km (312 miles) were fired in an apparent act of defiance against the US, on 4 July.

Russia and China urged Pyongyang to return to talks, while a US official urged it not to aggravate tensions.

North Korea is banned from all ballistic missile-related activities under UN sanctions.

The sanctions were strengthened after the communist nation carried out a second underground nuclear test in May.

North Korea has launched a number of missiles since the test. On Thursday it test-fired four short-range missiles.

'Not helpful'

Saturday's launches came from a base on its east coast. Three were fired early in the day, a fourth around noon local time and three more in the afternoon, South Korea's Joint Chiefs of Staff said.

The missiles fell into the Sea of Japan, known in South Korea as the East Sea.

South Korean officials said some of the missiles could have been medium-range Nodongs - which have the range to strike Japan - but that their flight distances had been deliberately shortened, Yonhap news agency said.

Both South Korea and Japan called the launches an "act of provocation".

The US state department called them "not helpful" and said North Korea should " refrain from actions that aggravate tensions and focus on denuclearisation talks".

Russia and China called on all parties to show restraint and avoid actions which could further destabilise the situation, the Russian Foreign Ministry said in a statement.

Ties between North Korea and the outside world have grown extremely tense since it walked away from talks aimed at ending its nuclear programme.

Some analysts suggest Pyongyang's bellicosity could be linked to internal issues, amid questions over the health of leader Kim Jong-il after his apparent stroke last year.

Reports suggest he has named his youngest son as his successor - and some believe the nuclear and missiles tests could be a show of strength aimed at securing internal support for his plans.

Stephen Hawking: "Humans Have Entered a New Stage of Evolution"

Article by Casey Kazan

Although It has taken homo sapiens several million years to evolve from the apes, the useful information in our DNA, has probably changed by only a few million bits. So the rate of biological evolution in humans, Stephen Hawking points out in his Life in the Universe lecture, is about a bit a year.

"By contrast," Hawking says, "there are about 50,000 new books published in the English language each year, containing of the order of a hundred billion bits of information. Of course, the great majority of this information is garbage, and no use to any form of life. But, even so, the rate at which useful information can be added is millions, if not billions, higher than with DNA."

This means Hawking says that we have entered a new phase of evolution. "At first, evolution proceeded by natural selection, from random mutations. This Darwinian phase, lasted about three and a half billion years, and produced us, beings who developed language, to exchange information."

But what distinguishes us from our cave man ancestors is the knowledge that we have accumulated over the last ten thousand years, and particularly, Hawking points out, over the last three hundred.

"I think it is legitimate to take a broader view, and include externally transmitted information, as well as DNA, in the evolution of the human race," Hawking said.

In the last ten thousand years the human species has been in what Hawking calls, "an external transmission phase," where the internal record of information, handed down to succeeding generations in DNA, has not changed significantly. "But the external record, in books, and other long lasting forms of storage," Hawking says, "has grown enormously. Some people would use the term, evolution, only for the internally transmitted genetic material, and would object to it being applied to information handed down externally. But I think that is too narrow a view. We are more than just our genes."

The time scale for evolution, in the external transmission period, has collapsed to about 50 years, or less.

Stephen-hawking Meanwhile, Hawking observes, our human brains "with which we process this information have evolved only on the Darwinian time scale, of hundreds of thousands of years. This is beginning to cause problems. In the 18th century, there was said to be a man who had read every book written. But nowadays, if you read one book a day, it would take you about 15,000 years to read through the books in a national Library. By which time, many more books would have been written."

But we are now entering a new phase, of what Hawking calls "self designed evolution," in which we will be able to change and improve our DNA. "At first," he continues "these changes will be confined to the repair of genetic defects, like cystic fibrosis, and muscular dystrophy. These are controlled by single genes, and so are fairly easy to identify, and correct. Other qualities, such as intelligence, are probably controlled by a large number of genes. It will be much more difficult to find them, and work out the relations between them. Nevertheless, I am sure that during the next century, people will discover how to modify both intelligence, and instincts like aggression."

If the human race manages to redesign itself, to reduce or eliminate the risk of self-destruction, we will probably reach out to the stars and colonize other planets. But this will be done, Hawking believes, with intelligent machines based on mechanical and electronic components, rather than macromolecules, which could eventually replace DNA based life, just as DNA may have replaced an earlier form of life.

Friday, July 3, 2009

Animatronic Obama

What a total gift to cartoonists. Thanks, Disney. For letting us in on what's been going on - the way it keeps repeating that sound byte about the economy getting better, I knew something was up. The W series had the same flaw after 9/11 but it said "Spend all of your money". Maybe they will have worked out some of the bugs by President v.2.5.

But seriously, thanks to Obama for cooperating, or initiating, or whatever. But how did they forget to throw in a dancing teleprompter? Maybe with the animatronic version, its built in.

They could just loop the words 'Uhhh"...'Ummm'...'Uhhh", but if it were me, I would just animate Obama ordering a hamburger in that ultra controlled, curt rhetorical manner. "Uh...I'll have, a...uh...hamburger (rising inflection)...uh...with pickles(very curt)...uh...ketchup...uh, and no mayo." And then he would kiss Michelle lovingly and wait for applause. An adoring Euro mob would begin hurling fries at his feet and a strobe light would start flashing to simulate the press.

Always wanted to hear Bush ordering a hamburger in his crazed god, dogmatic sermon style. "I will have...a hand-burger (downward inflection, almost threatening). There will be...ketchup. There will be...mustard. No onions, heh. No, onions...EXTRA mayo, heh."

Then the head of Dick Cheney would rotate around and snap into place where Bush's face was previously and mutter something about a Diet Coke and then whirl away again, leaving W's face, just blinking and maybe licking his lips unconsciously, like Pavlov's dogs anticipating that burger.

Or the Imagineers could loop Obama in a deep bowing motion in sync with the Saudi King who stands behind him grinning and repeats pelvic thrusts with an intermittent slap to the flank while Michelle honks Queen Elizabeth's tuchas, maybe in ring-around-the-rosie fashion, like some kind of symbolic merry-go-round calliope flow chart.

Maybe they will stage an Obamabot battle vs. John Mecha-Cain for old time sake in the Hall of Presidents. Here comes the Palinator with her 12 gauge auto-loader, Uzi nine millimeter, and forty-five long slide, with laser sighting.

Who else? Now that it's the Hall of Presidents and special guests.

But you know, maybe this is the way of the future. Perhaps the Hall of Presidents is not just commemorative. Maybe they're prototyping.

The Things You See...

Click to enlarge:

Gesture recognition glove

$500 - Recognizes Static and Dynamic Hand and Finger Movements

Thursday, July 2, 2009

China babies 'sold for adoption'

Dozens of baby girls in southern China have reportedly been taken from parents who broke family-planning laws, and then sold for adoption overseas.

An investigation by the state-owned Southern Metropolis News found that about 80 girls in one county had been sold for $3,000 (£1,800).

The babies were taken when the parents could not pay the steep fines imposed for having too many children.

Local officials may have forged papers to complete the deals, the report said.

Unpopular policy

Parents in rural areas are allowed two children, unlike urban dwellers who are allowed one.

But if they have more than that, they face a fine of about $3,000 -several times many farmers' annual income.

The policy is deeply unpopular among rural residents, says the BBC's Quentin Somerville in Beijing.

Nearly 80 baby girls in a county in Guizhou province, in the south of the country, were confiscated from their families when their parents could not or would not pay the fine, Southern Metropolis News said.

The girls were taken into orphanages and then adopted by couples from the United States and a number of European countries.

The adoption fee was split between the orphanages and local officials, the newspaper said.

Child trafficking is widespread. A tightening of adoption rules for foreigners in 2006 has proved ineffective in the face of local corruption.