Daily Archives: March 21, 2012

Pork Eating Knights Templar Crusader Patch Huge Hit With Troops In Afghanistan

businessinsider.com | Mar 16, 2012

by Robert Johnson

With tensions at an all time high in Afghanistan following the Koran burnings, the urination video, and the killing of 16 civilians, attention is now falling on a long line of “Infidel” apparel and gear.

Exhausted from how they feel they’re being perceived, troops have taken to wearing patches and carrying items that label themselves infidels, and offer translation in local dialect.

In the Muslim world an infidel means literally “one without faith” who rejects the central teachings of Islam.

Military.com tracked down Clayton Montgomery at Mil-Spec Monkey, a large online seller of infidel gear, who says his most popular item by far is the “Pork Eating Crusader Patch.”

The patch includes an image of a knight in a Crusade’s tunic, eating what appears to be a large ham hock, and lest there be any confusion — a translation in Arabic.

They haven’t gone unnoticed. The website Muslim Awakening, posts a picture of what appears to be a German soldier with the patch adhered to his combat uniform.

Other items are more subtle.

There is the Infidel Zippo advertised as: “This one is small enough to hold some personal meaning and not be in-your-face to everyone you meet. It’s perfect for pulling out at just the right moment to get the full effect.”

 

“Thunderquake” actually a “Super Bolt”

krmg.com | vMar 20, 2012

By Dan Potter

It woke up sleepy Tulsans, set-off car alarms and freaked out the family pet. Many people thought it was an earthquake that hit Tulsa at 3:33 this morning.

Instead, says National Weather Service Meteorologist Steve Amburn, is was a “Super Bolt.” Amburn says a super bolt is a positively-charged cloud-to-ground stroke of lightning.

Computer records indicate a single “super bolt” struck in the heart of South Tulsa just after 3:30.

No damage from the super bolt is reported.

Families whose children developed narcolepsy from swine flu vaccinations considering legal action

Swine flu vaccine families mull joint Pandemrix lawsuit

theforeigner.no | Mar 12, 2012

by Lyndsey Smith and Michael Sandelson

Twelve Norwegian families whose children developed narcolepsy after being vaccinated against swine flu (H1N1) are considering legal action, reports say.

Recent reports indicate approximately 45 children to date have had their disorder linked to Pandemrix following vaccination.

Vibeke Ellingsen, mother to 11-year-old Thea, told VG, “Everything that has happened feels so incredibly unfair. I hope that the government does not shrug its responsibilities. Authorities recommended us to do the best for our children. This turned out not to be the case, and us parents cannot be given the blame.”

The families are meeting at Frambu national resource centre in Ski municipality, eastern Norway, today to discuss the way forward.

Scientists already expressed their concerns over a possible connection between the vaccine and narcolepsy in 2011

Approximately 2.2 million Norwegians were vaccinated with Pandemrix under the 2009-2010 mass vaccination programme, roughly 598,000 of these were children and youths aged 6 months to 19 years.

Norsk Patientskadeerstatning (NPE), the national administrative body that reports to the Ministry of Health and Care Services, says it has received approximately 93 compensation applications regarding various swine flu vaccine-related medical issues so far.

Three children aged between eight and 15 have had their cases upheld after consideration revealed the Pandemrix-narcolepsy link was more than likely.

Meanwhile, VG has revealed eight Norwegian infants of eight to 12 weeks underwent clinical trials of Pandemrix to discover whether it was safe to give the vaccination to someone that age. They are believed to be the youngest in the world to have been tested.

Makers GlaxoSmithKline followed the infants over a course of 11 months afterwards. Whilst representatives alleged there were no serious side effects, the vaccine is no longer recommended for anyone under the age of 20.

In a report published following the end of the experiment, the company wrote it actively tried to recruit even more subjects, but “despite repeated attempts to improve recruitment (such as advertising campaigns, distribution of leaflets in maternity wards, visits to the childbirth clinics, letters, numerous phone calls to parents), only eight people participated.”

When questioned on the ethics of using infants, Director of Public Health Geir Stene-Larsen declared, “It would have been more ethically unjustifiable not to develop a vaccine for the group that perhaps were at highest risk of contracting the illness.”

The senior official has also stated he would not recommend administering the vaccine to children today.

Minister of Health and Care Services Anne-Grethe Strøm-Erichsen did not support his opinion at the time, however.

“The agreement for the supply and purchase of vaccine in the event of a pandemic was triggered when the WHO declared a pandemic in June 2009. The assessment made then was that it was mass vaccination was medically appropriate.”

Minister Strøm-Erichsen considers it serious that so many children have developed narcolepsy, but neither ministry officials nor GlaxoSmithKline would comment about the potential joint lawsuit.

Arlington Police chief rescinds memo spelling out numeric goals for officers, denies quotas

An officer on the night shift ought to make at least seven arrests a month, issue 30 traffic summons — with only 25 percent warnings — and five parking citations.

Associated Press | Mar 20, 2012

ARLINGTON, Va. — Arlington County’s police chief has rescinded a memo that seemed to suggest patrol officers had numerical monthly quotas for issuing arrests and traffic and parking violations.

At a press conference Tuesday, Chief M. Douglas Scott called the March 1 memo, titled “Proactivity Expectations 2012,” a mistake and said he did not want any appearance that his officers were following quotas.

The memo, issued by patrol commanders, suggested that officers could face discipline if they did not meet minimum standards. Specifically, it said an officer on the night shift ought to make at least seven arrests a month, issue 30 traffic summons — with only 25 percent warnings — and five parking citations.

Scott rescinded the memo after WUSA-TV reported on it.

Copyright 2012 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

Beijing Tightens Grip After Purge


Bo Xilai attended the opening ceremony of the National People’s Congress on March 5. Analysts say the Maoist revival Mr. Bo led in Chongqing is unlikely to disappear following his ouster. Getty Images

wsj.com | Mar 21, 2012

By BRIAN SPEGELE

BEIJING—The central Chinese government hardened its grip in Chongqing, the domain of recently ousted Communist Party secretary Bo Xilai, targeting the “red singing” he had encouraged in the southwestern city, part of an approach that has widened an ideological rift among the party elite.

However, political analysts say the Maoist revival Mr. Bo led in Chongqing is unlikely to disappear following his ouster. That is partly because leaders have to be careful not to be seen as going against historical Communist Party values and also because Mr. Bo’s promotion of a strong state role in the economy found widespread support among those who feared rapid privatization of state wealth.

His firing last week has shaken China’s political establishment, and exposed such high-level divisions just ahead of its once-a-decade leadership transition beginning this fall. The highly unusual purge has raised questions about whether the party can restore the internal political unity needed to preserve its grip on power.

Beijing has released little information on its handling of Chongqing, beyond announcing last week that Zhang Dejiang, a vice premier with strong ties to state industry leaders, had taken over Mr. Bo’s position. The whereabouts of Mr. Bo and his family remained unclear, including whether he is under house arrest or has been taken into police custody.

Political analysts have said that Mr. Bo may be allowed to retain his seat on the country’s Politburo and avoid formal corruption or other charges if he agrees to cooperate with authorities and doesn’t challenge his removal.

Wang Lijun, Mr. Bo’s former police chief, is widely believed to have presented damaging material about Mr. Bo during a visit to the U.S. Consulate in Chengdu in February. Mr. Wang is also being investigated by Chinese authorities.

Separately on Tuesday, the state-run Xinhua news agency quoted Li Yuanchao, the head of the party’s organization department, as warning party members against pursuing individuals gains, “and to resist money-worshiping and hedonism.” He reiterated a recent call by Vice President Xi Jinping for party purity, which has been viewed as a clear rejection of Mr. Bo’s individualist and populist leadership style.

Unsubstantiated rumors across the capital and on China’s Internet underscored the widespread speculation fueled by Mr. Bo’s ouster. Some users on Twitter-like services such as Sina Corp.’s SINA -1.20% Weibo claimed a heightened security presence in Beijing and even a possible political coup against the government of President Hu Jintao. The word “coup” was a blocked search term on Weibo as of Tuesday evening.

The growing interest in Mr. Bo’s fate parallels the efforts by central authorities to solidify control over Chongqing. Authorities in recent days posted a notice in People’s Square—where locals, especially senior citizens, often gathered to sing red songs under Mr. Bo—warning against singing or dancing there.

A picture of the notice posted online, and later confirmed by Chongqing residents, cites excessive noise as a reason to limit the singing and dancing. Nonetheless, according to residents, groups of senior citizens continued to gather, despite the warnings from local authorities.

Mr. Zhang, Chongqing’s new party chief, is the son of an army general, and like Mr. Bo is often referred to as a “princeling.” Nonetheless, he is widely viewed as in the role only temporarily to reinforce the central-government’s positions until a longer-term successor is selected, likely in the fall.

Local government-run media have also reflected the central government’s influence. Saturday’s Chongqing Times in a front-page headline pledged to “earnestly implement the central government’s decision.”

The removal of Mr. Bo, who had been running an unusually overt campaign to thrust himself into the all-powerful Politburo Standing Committee, is being widely viewed as a rejection of individualist politics in favor of consensus-driven decision making.

Mr. Bo was closely backed by a group of academics and lower-level officials, known as China’s “new left,” who supported a Maoist revival and a greater role for the state in economic development. Mr. Bo’s sacking is a blow to the movement, but its relatively close ties to traditional Maoist thought could shield it from wider attack by today’s party’s leaders, according to analysts, although Premier Wen Jiabao last week warned another Cultural Revolution might again occur in China without reform of the country’s political and leadership systems.Unlike liberal political dissidents in China, who are routinely persecuted for their views, those tied to the Maoist revival led by Mr. Bo aren’t likely to face similar government harassment in the near term, said Mao Shoulong, a well-known expert on Chinese politics at Renmin University in Beijing. “The new left is regarded as a matter of political differences” as opposed to a critical threat facing the state, he said. “Bo Xilai and the new left certainly have a relationship, but [the Bo case] is mainly still an individual thing.”

While China’s top officials have embraced economic and more limited political reform, they are cautious against too greatly distancing themselves from former Chairman Mao Zedong, who remains a revered figure in Chinese politics despite the acknowledgment of shortcomings during his time in power.

“Super-Soldiers” Fight Disease With Bionic Implants

mobiledia.com | Mar 21, 2012

By Kate Knibbs

The U.S. military plans to implant soldiers with medical devices, making them harder to kill with diseases.

The military’s Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency, or DARPA, announced plans to create nanosensors that monitor soldiers’ health on the battlefield and keep doctors constantly abreast about potential health problems.

DARPA’s plan for nanosensors reflects a larger trend, as scientists are trying to harness technology to improve health care across the globe. Doctors are already quickly adopting mobile technology to improve patient care, carrying around iPads to better explain procedures and inventing smartphone apps to oversee drug users’ progress and watch for signs of stress in at-risk patients.

DARPA called the implants “a truly disruptive innovation,” highlighting how healthier soldiers would change the state of modern warfare because most medical evacuations occur due to ordinary illnesses and disease, not injuries. If the U.S. can lead the way in this kind of high-tech monitoring, it could give the military another leg up on adversaries still beset by everyday illness.

Nanotechnology continues to find a place in the medical field as well. Stanford University researchers are developing tiny robotic monitors that can diagnose illnesses, monitor vital stats and even deliver medicine into the bloodstream, similar to the devices that the military plans to create.

DARPA: Dump passwords for always-on biometrics

gcn.com | Mar 21, 2012

By Kathleen Hickey

The Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency wants to eliminate passwords and use an individual’s typing style and other behavioral traits for user authentication.

Creating, remembering and managing long, complex passwords is “inherently unnatural,” the agency said on its Active Authentication site. And most active sessions don’t have mechanisms to identify that the current user is still the one originally authenticated.

Biometric features such as fingerprints haven long been used in some two-factor authentication systems, but even then it only confirms a user’s ID when logging in. DARPA is proposing behavior-based methods for continual verification.

The agency issued a Broad Agency Announcement solicitation in January for its Active Authentication program. Responses were due March 6.

The program is seeking new ways to identify users, based on intrinsic or behavioral traits. “Just as when you touch something [with] your finger you leave behind a fingerprint, when you interact with technology you do so in a pattern based on how your mind processes information, leaving behind a ‘cognitive fingerprint,” DARPA’s statement said.

The first phase of Active Authentication will focus on researching biometrics that do not require additional hardware sensors, such as mouse and keystroke dynamics. An individual potentially could be identified by how fast he or she types or reads; what words he uses when creating a document or e-mail message; or how he moves the mouse across a page, DARPA said.

Later phases of the program will combine the biometrics with a new authentication program for standard Defense Department desktop or laptop PCs.

The program intends to combine its identification techniques into a continuous authentication process, so that the identity of a user at a machine is constantly being confirmed. The platform will be developed with open Application Programming Interfaces to allow for the easy addition of future biometric software and hardware, DARPA said.

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