Daily Archives: April 16, 2012

Forget global warming: Baffled scientists discover glaciers actually getting BIGGER

Global cooling? Glaciers are growing in the Karakoram range, home to K2

dailymail.co.uk | Apr 15, 2012

By Ian Garland

Photos taken by a French satellite show glaciers in a mountain range west of the Himalayas have grown during the last decade.

The growing glaciers were found in the Karakoram range, which spans the borders between Pakistan, India and China and is home to the world’s second highest peak, K2.

The startling find has baffled scientists and comes at a time when glaciers in other parts of the region, and across the world, are shrinking.

French scientists from the National Centre for Scientific Research and the University of Grenoble, were forced to rely on satellite images, to study the region – because much of the Karakoram range is inaccessible.

They compared observations made in 1999 and 2008 and found a marginal mass increase.

They estimated the glaciers had gained between 0.11 and 0.22 metres of ice each year.

The researchers are unsure why the region bucks the global trend – but they know from other studies in other parts of the world that in very cold regions, like the Karakoram range, climate change can cause extra precipitation, which then freezes and adds to ice mass.

Lead reseacher Julie Gardelle told BBC News: ‘We don’t really know the reason. Right now we believe that it could be due to a very specific regional climate over Karakoram because there have been meteorological measurements showing increased winter precipitation; but that’s just a guess at this stage.’

Stephan Harrison, associate professor in quaternary science at the UK’s University of Exeter, said the new research had showed there is ‘considerable variability’ in the global climate and in how glaciers respond to it.

The Karakoram glaciers are also unusual because they are covered with thick layers of rock debris, which means their patterns of melting and mass gain are driven by changes in that debris as well as in the climate.

Harrison said much of their mass gain also comes from avalanches from the high mountains surrounding them.

‘Overall, the impact of melting glaciers such as these on sea level rise is known to be negligible, but it does mean that there is much more to be learnt about exactly how the world’s glaciers will respond to continued global warming.’

The findings provide welcome respite at a time when glaciers across the globe are shrinking at a rapid rate.

A study of the neighbouring Himalayas in 2011 found the rate of ice loss in glaciers – which provide fresh water for around 1.3 billion people – has doubled since the 1980s.

Pastry-making cannibal cult seeks to ‘purify the world and reduce population’

A screen grab from Vanderlei Almeid TV shows Jorge da Silveira (L) and Isabel Pires in Garanhuns, Pernanbuco, Brazil (AFP/Handout/Policia)

Brazil cult members arrested for cannibalism

AFP | Apr 13, 2012

RIO DE JANEIRO — Brazilian police announced Friday that they had arrested a man and two women on suspicion of having murdered and cannibalized at least two women in what was described as a purification ritual.

The three defendants formed a sect called “Cartel” that seeks to purify the world and reduce the population, police spokesman Democrito Honorato from the northeastern Brazilian town of Guaranhuns told AFP.

The three defendants, Jorge and Elizabeth Pires da Silveira, both 51, and Bruna da Silva, 25, intended to kill three women per year, police said.

Brazilian Cannibals Make Empanadas With Human Meat

“The details of the actions of the trio, with drawings and explanations of cannibalism, were found in a 50-page book written by Da Silveira, a man with a diploma in education and a black belt in karate,” Honorato said.

The book, entitled “The relationships of a schizophrenic,” hints at acts of cannibalism.

“The three ate the flesh of their victims to purify their souls,” said the police spokesman.

Two bodies were found in the garden of the house occupied by the three defendants, which police believe were those of two women who disappeared recently: Alexandra Falcao, 20, and Gisele da Silva, 30. Both had been seen in the vicinity.

The house of the three suspects was set on fire Thursday by neighbors.

One of the suspects confessed she knew the name of a woman the group killed in 2008, Jessica Pereira, in the nearby city of Olinda.

A five-year-old girl found with the trio is believed to be the daughter of the victim, police said. She was placed under the protection of a juvenile judge to find her a new family.

The group attracted victims “by offering them well-paid babysitting jobs,” Honorato said, and they chose victims when “a spirit warned them they were bad people.”

Welsey Ferandes, the police official in charge of the case, told reporters the suspects planned to kill another woman in the neighboring town of Lagoa de Ouro. Police did not rule out the possibility there had been other victims.

After families of the victims reported their relatives missing, police were drawn to the suspects when a credit card bill arrived at the home of one of the victims after her death. Security cameras at the shops where the credit card purchases were made showed images of the suspects doing the transactions.

Let passengers take KNIVES on planes… it will make air travel safer, says ex-TSA head in plea to stop ‘unending nightmare’ of airport security

Controversial: The former head of the TSA has argued that passengers should be able to take almost anything onboard including liquids and lighters

Daily Mail | Apr 14, 2012

The former head of Transportation Security Administration has said that the country’s airport security system is a broken mess making travelling ‘an unending nightmare’ for passengers.

Kip Hawley, who was head of the TSA from 2005-2009, has argued that the system would be more effective if it embraced more risk including allowing passengers to bring almost anything on board including knives, liquids and lighters.

Hawley criticises the current procedure for reducing airport security into an ‘Easter-egg hunt’ where TSA officers look out for low-risk prohibited items, such as lighters, rather than focusing on disrupting terror plots.

In an article for the Wall Street Journal, Hawley argued that the problems stem from the TSA trying to eliminate all risk for every single passenger travelling rather than concentrating on preventing a catastrophic attack.

He suggests that there should be no more banned items aside from weapons capable of fast, multiple killings such as guns, toxins and explosives.

‘It is time to end the TSA’s use of well-trained security officers as kindergarten teachers to millions of passengers a day’ he writes in the Wall Street Journal.

‘Worse, banning certain items gives terrorists a complete list of what not to use in their next attack. Lighters are banned? The next attack will use an electric trigger,’ he continues.

Airport security, with its lengthy queues and well-known irritations, has to change as the relationship between the public and the TSA is ‘too poisonous to be sustained’, Hawley argued.

In the newspaper, he lists five ideas for reforming the airport security system which he described as a ‘national embarrassment’ because of its bureaucratic nature and its disconnect from the people it is meant to protect.

As well as reducing the ‘banned items’, Hawley suggests a solution to allow passengers to take liquids on board.

He proposes two queues at the checkpoint – one for people with no liquids and another for passengers who want to bring all their liquids on board and don’t mind queuing for longer.

He also believes that airlines should eliminate baggage fees for faster and safer security.

The introduction of fees has led to passengers over-stuffing their carry-on luggage, making it more difficult for TSA officials to determine what is in the bags when they go through the scanners and slowing the whole process down, he writes.

‘Predictability is deadly’, Hawley continues – arguing that security needs to be randomized so that terrorists do not know what to expect making it much harder for them to learn how to evade protocols.

His fifth recommendation is that TSA officers need more flexibility and more discretion to interact with passengers.

‘The public wants the airport experience to be predictable, hassle-free and airtight and for it to keep us 100% safe. But 100% safety is unattainable. Embracing a bit of risk could reduce the hassle of today’s airport experience while making us safer at the same time,’ Hawley argues.

TSA agent faces up to 10 years in jail after stealing eight iPads from the bags he’s supposed to be inspecting

TSA trouble: The iPad thievery arrest came just days after eight TSA agents were suspended for misconduct at Newark Liberty International Airport in New Jersey

Daily Mail | Apr 14, 2012

A baggage handler has been charged with theft by a public servant after he stole tablet computers from the luggage he was tasked with checking for security threats.

Clayton Keith Dovel, 36, of Bedford, Texas, was busted in February after he was found to have eight iPads believed to have been stolen from passengers.

Police said Dovel worked in a ‘resolution room’ at Dallas-Fort Worth Airport, where checked bags are examined before they’re placed on a flight.

He was suspended from his position as a TSA agent.

Borna Mojra, one of the iPad theft victims, said the crime is a breach of the public trust.

He told KXAS: ‘If they’re the guys who are protecting us and they’re not, who am I going to trust next?’

Police were reportedly led right to Dovel’s home in Bedford by one of the theft victims, who was able to track his stolen device.

The TSA said in a statement: ‘The unacceptable behavior of this individual in no way reflects the dedication of our nearly 50,000 transportation security officers who work tirelessly to keep our skies safe.’

Dovel’s arrest came just days after eight TSA agents were suspended for misconduct at Newark Liberty International Airport in New Jersey.

Hidden CCTV cameras allegedly caught staff at Terminal B – which handles Delta, British Airways and Virgin – sleeping on the job.

Some of them also face possible dismissal for stealing items out of some of the bags they are paid to inspect.

If convicted, Dovel could face between two and 10 years in prison. He has been released on $5,000 bail.

Obama calls for ‘rigorous’ probe deeper into Secret Service prostitution

U.S. President Barack Obama pauses during a joint press availability with Colombian President Juan Manuel Santos after their meeting at Casa de Huespedes during the Summit of the Americas in Cartagena, Colombia April 15, 2012. Reuters

CNN | Apr 15, 2012

Cartagena, Colombia (CNN) — President Barack Obama called Sunday for a “thorough” and “rigorous” investigation into allegations involving prostitutes and Secret Service agents in Colombia.

Some 11 Secret Service agents and officers are being investigated over preliminary findings that they allegedly brought back several prostitutes to a hotel in Cartagena, U.S. government sources familiar with the investigation have told CNN.

“What happened here in Colombia is being investigated by the director of the Secret Service,” said Obama, who spoke in Cartagena, where he was in town for the Summit of the Americas event.

“I expect that investigation to be thorough and I expect it to be rigorous. If it turns out that some of the allegations that have been made in the press are confirmed, then of course I’ll be angry,” he said.

The alleged misconduct occurred before Obama arrived in Cartagena. The Secret Service personnel have since been sent back to the United States and put on administrative leave, the agency said. The U.S. military said that five U.S. troops who were working with the Secret Service are also under investigation for missing curfew and alleged “misconduct” at the same Colombian hotel.

“We’re representing the people of the United States and when we travel to another county I expect us to observe the highest standards,” said Obama. “Obviously what’s been reported doesn’t match up with those standards.”

Still, he cautioned: “I’ll wait until the full investigation is completed until I pass final judgment.”

None of the agents or officers being investigated was part of the president’s personal protective detail and Obama was not based at the Hotel Caribe, where the alleged misconduct occurred. But dignitaries and journalists reporting on the hemispheric meeting were staying there, a U.S. government official said.

Rep. Peter King, chairman of the House Homeland Security Committee, was briefed on the matter and told CNN on Saturday that the government personnel brought prostitutes back to their rooms Wednesday night and “one of the women did not leave the room in the morning.”

A hotel manager tried to get in the room, and eventually the woman emerged and said “they owed her money,” according to King. Similarly, U.S. government sources said there was a dispute between at least one Secret Service member and a woman brought back to his hotel over a request to be paid.

At least one of the women brought to the hotel talked with police, and complaints were filed with the U.S. Embassy, the sources said.

“The Secret Service saw that report, and they immediately began an investigation,” King said.

Secret Service spokesman Edwin Donovon said that the agents were relieved of duty Thursday — prior to the president’s arrival in Colombia — and replaced after “allegations of misconduct.”

The agency’s assistant director, Paul Morrissey, noted his agency’s “zero tolerance policy on personal misconduct.”

“This incident is not reflective of the behavior of our personnel as they travel every day throughout the country and the world performing their duties in a dedicated, professional manner,” Morrissey said Saturday. “We regret any distraction from the Summit of the Americas this situation has caused.”

The U.S. military is conducting its own investigation and will mete out “punishment, if appropriate … in accordance with established policies and the Uniform Code of Military Justice,” U.S. Southern Command said in a statement Saturday.

Ronald Kessler, a former Washington Post reporter who has written a book about the Secret Service, called the incident “clearly the biggest scandal in Secret Service history.”

The Washington Post, which was the first to report the story, said it was alerted to the investigation by Kessler.

Jon Adler — president of the Federal Law Enforcement Officers Association, which represents Secret Service agents and other federal law enforcement officers — urged caution in jumping to conclusions, characterizing the incident as “isolated” and not necessarily a scandal.

“That’s just sort of an overdramatic interpretation of an isolated incident,” he said. “We have to trust the process of the internal review.”

While soliciting prostitution is legal in certain areas of Colombia, it is considered a breach of the agency’s conduct code, the government sources said. High-level officials in the Secret Service and the Department of Homeland Security were outraged over the incident, the sources said, noting that the investigation indicated the prostitutes were brought back to a hotel that had been secured for the summit.

Templar Masons reveal “red rose patent” land deed granted by aristocrat William Penn

Frederick D. Polgardy Sr., Robert Suranofsky and Louis E. Starniri stand with the red rose patent in Easton. Express-Times Photo | STEPHEN FLOOD

Easton Mason’s lodge finds land deed predating United States

The Templar, a branch of the Masons, let their mystery sit quietly, until recently.

Express-Times | Apr 15, 2012

By Zach Lindsey

Since the 1920s, the contents of a safe in the Hugh De Payens Commandery in Easton were a mystery.

As new leaders of the Knights Templar passed through, some had different suggestions. Some wanted the safe drilled, but that would’ve been costly and voided their fire warranty.

The Templar, a branch of the Masons, let their mystery sit quietly, until recently. As they cleaned up files, one member found a number that looked like it might be a combination.

“We took it up and tried it,” said Knights Templar member Lou Starniri. “It opened up the safe.”

Inside was a parchment behind glass: a “red rose patent,” a land deed granted by William Penn 13 years before the Declaration of Independence. If Templars had drilled the safe, the rapid exposure to light and change in air conditions could have destroyed it.

The Hugh De Payens Commandery at 22 S. Third St. sits on the site of Northampton County’s first jail. Penn granted the patent, or deed, free to the county, on one rather obscure condition.

“In 1763, we still had the crown, and we still had the royals,” Starniri said. “William Penn was a member of the aristocracy, so the common folk had to know who they owed allegiance to. They didn’t want any money, but they still wanted a tribute.”

The tribute? One red rose, presented in March every year to Penn, his sons or his beneficiaries. It’s sort of the antiquated equivalent of donating a piece of land to a non-profit, but asking for a dollar a year for tax purposes.

At one point, each property in Easton had a Penn patent, though most were more like traditional deeds, in that property owners paid a certain amount of money for their property.

Now, few of those patents exist anymore, and the red rose patents are even rarer.

The Knights Templar plan to donate the patent to the Easton Area Public Library on April 26 because the Commandery can’t afford the cost of preserving it for display.

“It would take a couple thousand dollars to have it properly taken out of the frame and spread out,” Starniri said.

The library, however, may be able to apply for a grant for such services, and would then be able to keep the patent for scholars and schoolchildren to view.

The document must be unfolded in the right temperature and humidity so it won’t crack or be ruined, according to Easton Library’s Marx Room coordinator Barbara Wieman. As ink can transfer to glass over time, removing it from its glass frame may also be troublesome.

Once it is restored, it will still be handled carefully, Wieman said.

“We would probably have it covered to prevent light deterioration,” Wieman said. “One of the reasons the patent is so legible is that it has been in a locked safe where light doesn’t affect it.”

If it is hung on a wall, she said, it would probably have a cover over it that could be lifted for viewing.

The value of a red rose patent is difficult to establish, but Wieman said the monetary value isn’t what’s important.

“It’s not so much the value of the item as its importance to Easton’s history,” Wieman said.

The jail’s location was chosen because Easton’s Centre Square originally housed the city’s courthouse. Local officials such as Thomas Craig, who would later become a Colonel under General George Washington, managed the lot on Third Street.

After the Civil War, the courthouse was moved to Seventh and Washington streets, and the jail was moved with it. But the patent stayed with the property, although how it ended up in the safe is unknown.