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Monthly Archives: June 2011

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JUSTICE! Rt @nationalpost: Bell fined $10M for ‘misleading advertising’ http://natpo.st/iryrtA

Rt @ABC: Los Alamos Lab Threatened by Wildfire http://abcn.ws/kQjndr

Rt @TheMadApe: RT @zerohedge: RT @WikileaksAR: NOW CONFIRMED! Argentinean Embassy Cable: Hugo Chavez died of heart attack yesterday in Cuba

Justice Dept.: 2 arrested in Seattle terror plot

Col. Anthony WrightAP – Col. Anthony Wright speaks with media members outside a federal building that houses the Seattle Military …

SEATTLE – Two men intent on attacking a military recruiting station to inspire Muslims to defend their religion from U.S. actions abroad were snared by FBI agents in a terror plot sting, authorities said Thursday.

Abu Khalid Abdul-Latif, also known as Joseph Anthony Davis, of Seattle, and Walli Mujahidh, also known as Frederick Domingue Jr., of Los Angeles, were arrested Wednesday night after they arrived at a warehouse garage to pick up machine guns to use in the attack, an FBI agent wrote in a criminal complaint filed in U.S. District Court.

The machine guns had been rendered inoperable by federal agents and posed no risk to the public.

The two suspects appeared in federal court Thursday in tan prison garb and listened as prosecutor recited the charges against them. Detention hearings were set for Wednesday.

Their court-appointed defense lawyers declined to comment. The suspects could face life in prison if convicted.

Authorities learned of the plot early this month when a third person recruited to participate alerted the Seattle Police Department, the complaint said. Investigators immediately began monitoring the men, and the confidential informant continued to string them along by promising to obtain weapons.

The building, the Military Entrance Processing Station on East Marginal Way in Seattle, also houses a daycare. Recruits for all military branches are screened and processed there.

The Homeland Security Department said in a May 31 assessment with other organizations that it did not think it likely there would be coordinated terrorist attacks against military recruiting and National Guard facilities.

The agencies agreed, however, that lone offenders or groups would continue to try to launch attacks against these facilities.

“Our review of attempted attacks during the past two years suggests that lone offenders currently present the greatest threat,” according to the assessment, marked “for official use only” and obtained by The Associated Press.

Recently, terror supporters have encouraged their followers to focus on simple attacks and not complex, elaborate ones like those on Sept. 11, 2001.

In audio and video recordings, the suspects in the Seattle case discussed the plot at length, discussing how to time their attack at military recruits, such as by tossing grenades in the cafeteria, the complaint said.

“The key thing to remember here is, is we are not targeting anybody innocent — that means old people, women out of uniform, any children,” Abdul-Latif is quoted as saying. “Just people who wear the green for the kaffir Army, that’s who we’re going after.”

The agent wrote that they also fantasized about the headlines the attack would generate — “Three Muslim Males Walk Into MEPS Building, Seattle, Washington, And Gun Down Everybody” — and speculated that if they got control of the building, television news crews would arrive to cover them.

Mujahidh, 32, voluntarily spoke with investigators after the arrests and confessed, the complaint said.

“Mujahidh admitted that he was planning on carrying out an attack at the MEPS for the purpose of killing United States military personnel in order to prevent them from going to Islamic lands and killing Muslims,” the complaint said.

Abdul-Latif, 33, and Mujahidh, 32, are charged by complaint with conspiracy to murder officers and employees of the United States, conspiracy to use a weapon of mass destruction, and possession of firearms in furtherance of crimes of violence. Abdul-Latif is also charged with two counts of illegal possession of firearms.

The U.S. Attorney’s Office in Seattle said the defendants initially planned to attack Joint Base Lewis-McChord but later changed targets. The defendants intended to carry out their attack with both grenades and machine guns, the government said.

“The complaint alleges these men intended to carry out a deadly attack against our military where they should be most safe, here at home,” Seattle U.S. Attorney Jenny A. Durkan said in a statement. “This is a sobering reminder of our need to be vigilant.”

Abdul-Latif has previous felony convictions for first-degree robbery of a Bremerton, Wash., convenience store and for custodial assault, as well as misdemeanor convictions for obstructing a law enforcement officer, assault and theft.

When he was prosecuted on the robbery charge in Kitsap County in 2002, he was ordered to undergo a psychological evaluation, and despite some “issues” was found competent to participate in his defense, FBI Special Agent Albert C. Kelly III wrote in the complaint.

According to a copy of the evaluation, Abdul-Latif reported that he was originally from San Diego, where his father was serving time in prison, and that his mother lived in Bremerton but he had not seen her in a long time. He said he suffered from depression and abandonment issues, that he had “huffed” gasoline and smoked marijuana to get high, and that he tried to kill himself in 2001 by deliberately overdosing on seizure medication.

Abdul-Latif was sentenced to 31 months in prison on that charge. He served from January 2002 until July 2004 for a conviction of first-degree robbery in Kitsap County and a custodial assault in Walla Walla County, and committed two serious infractions while in custody — assault in 2002 and fighting in 2004, said state Corrections Department spokesman Chad Lewis.

“There is nothing in Davis’ records that indicates that he converted to Islam while he was in prison,” Lewis said in an email.

Mujahidh does not appear to have a criminal record, the complaint said. It wasn’t immediately clear how Abdul-Latif and Mujahidh became acquainted.

In a bankruptcy filing from a month ago, Abdul-Latif reported assets of about $3,000 and liabilities of about $6,000. He reported that about $2,000 in monthly income from a janitorial business was entirely nullified by the expenses of operating Fresh and Clean Janitorial. His wife, identified as Binta Moussa, was earning about $1,200 a month, according to court documents but that wasn’t enough to cover their costs of living.

Steve Dashiak, a bankruptcy attorney representing Abdul-Latif, told The Associated Press he was stunned by the developments, and that his client seemed like a regular man.

“I sensed no ill will from him whatsoever,” Dashiak said. “He seemed like a guy just trying to make it, having a rough time because business wasn’t going very well. To say that I didn’t see this coming would be an understatement.”

A sign on the door of Abdul-Latif’s apartment read in part: “In the Name of Allah we enter, in the name of Allah we leave, and upon our lord we depend.”

Potential recruits came and left as normal at the military processing center Thursday. Children and adults were having a barbecue behind a fence at the same building.

Army Corps of Engineers Col. Anthony Wright, commander of the Seattle district and senior official for the building, said he was kept informed about the threat and made some changes in security as a precaution.

“I’ve spent about three years in Iraq. It’s a little different to feel it here in Seattle, but it’s part of the world we live in,” he said.

___

Gene Johnson can be reached at http://twitter.com/GeneAPseattle

Counterterrorism reporter Eileen Sullivan contributed to this story from Washington.

Mike Baker contributed from Olympia, Wash., and can be reached at http://twitter.com/MikeBakerAP.

Manuel Valdes contributed from Seattle and can be reached at http://twitter.com/manevaldes|

http://news.yahoo.com/s/ap/20110623/ap_on_re_us/us_recruiting_station_plot 

IEA Calls “Urgent” Press Conference In Paris For 1300 GMT – June 24th 2011

LONDON, Jun 23, 2011 (Dow Jones Commodities News Select via Comtex) — The International Energy Agency, which represents major energy consuming countries, said Thursday its Executive Director Nobuo Tanaka will hold an unexpected and “urgent” press conference in Paris at 1300 GMT.

A spokesman for the IEA declined to comment on the reason for the conference.

Analysts have recently been speculating that the IEA could be preparing to take action to reduce the oil price by coordinating the release of publicly-held oil stocks held by its member countries in case of emergency shortages.

The continued shut down of around 1.5 million barrels a day of oil supplies by the Libyan civil war continues to cause problems for the oil markets, although have been falling in recent days following weak economic data and the promise from Saudi Arabia to increase its crude production by around 1 million barrels a day.

-By James Herron and Geraldine Amiel, Dow Jones Newswires; +44 (0)20 7842 9317; james.herron@dowjones.com

(END) Dow Jones Newswires

06-23-11 0827ET 

http://news.tradingcharts.com/futures/5/6/160559065.html 

NASA Getting Ready for the Next Big Solar Storm

Getting Ready for the Next Big Solar Storm

June 21, 2011: In Sept. 1859, on the eve of a below-average1 solar cycle, the sun unleashed one of the most powerful storms in centuries. The underlying flare was so unusual, researchers still aren’t sure how to categorize it.  The blast peppered Earth with the most energetic protons in half-a-millennium, induced electrical currents that set telegraph offices on fire, and sparked Northern Lights over Cuba and Hawaii.This week, officials have gathered at the National Press Club in Washington DC to ask themselves a simple question: What if it happens again?

SWEF (powerlines, 200px)

Modern power grids are vulnerable to solar storms. Photo credit: Martin Stojanovski

“A similar storm today might knock us for a loop,” says Lika Guhathakurta, a solar physicist at NASA headquarters. “Modern society depends on high-tech systems such as smart power grids, GPS, and satellite communications–all of which are vulnerable to solar storms.”

She and more than a hundred others are attending the fifth annual Space Weather Enterprise Forum—”SWEF” for short.  The purpose of SWEF is to raise awareness of space weather and its effects on society especially among policy makers and emergency responders.  Attendees come from the US Congress, FEMA, power companies, the United Nations, NASA, NOAA and more.

As 2011 unfolds, the sun is once again on the eve of a below-average solar cycle—at least that’s what forecasters are saying.  The “Carrington event” of 1859 (named after astronomer Richard Carrington, who witnessed the instigating flare) reminds us that strong storms can occur even when the underlying cycle is nominally weak.  

In 1859 the worst-case scenario was a day or two without telegraph messages and a lot of puzzled sky watchers on tropical islands.

In 2011 the situation would be more serious. An avalanche of blackouts carried across continents by long-distance power lines could last for weeks to months as engineers struggle to repair damaged transformers. Planes and ships couldn’t trust GPS units for navigation.  Banking and financial networks might go offline, disrupting commerce in a way unique to the Information Age.  According to a 2008 report from the National Academy of Sciences, a century-class solar storm could have the economic impact of 20 hurricane Katrinas.

As policy makers meet to learn about this menace, NASA researchers a few miles away are actually doing something about it:

“We can now track the progress of solar storms in 3 dimensions as the storms bear down on Earth,” says Michael Hesse, chief of the GSFC Space Weather Lab and a speaker at the forum.  “This sets the stage for actionable space weather alerts that could preserve power grids and other high-tech assets during extreme periods of solar activity.”

SWEF (3D CME, 558px)

Analysts at the GSFC Space Weather Lab created this 3D forecast-model of a coronal mass ejection (CME) heading for Earth on June 21st. Click here to watch the CME sweep past our planet.

They do it using data from a fleet of NASA spacecraft surrounding the sun.  Analysts at the lab feed the information into a bank of supercomputers for processing.  Within hours of a major eruption, the computers spit out a 3D movie showing where the storm will go, which planets and spacecraft it will hit, and predicting when the impacts will occur.  This kind of “interplanetary forecast” is unprecedented in the short history of space weather forecasting.

“This is a really exciting time to work as a space weather forecaster,” says Antti Pulkkinen, a researcher at the Space Weather Lab.  “The emergence of serious physics-based space weather models is putting us in a position to predict if something major will happen.”

Some of the computer models are so sophisticated, they can even predict electrical currents flowing in the soil of Earth when a solar storm strikes.  These currents are what do the most damage to power transformers.  An experimental project named “Solar Shield” led by Pulkkinen aims to pinpoint transformers in greatest danger of failure during any particular storm.

“Disconnecting a specific transformer for a few hours could forestall weeks of regional blackouts,” says Pulkkinen.

Another SWEF speaker, John Allen of NASA’s Space Operations Mission Directorate, pointed out that while people from all walks of life can be affected by space weather, no one is out on the front lines quite like astronauts.

“Astronauts are routinely exposed to four times as much radiation as industrial radiation workers on Earth,” he says.  “It’s a serious occupational hazard.”

SWEF (astronaut, 200px)

Astronauts are on the front line of stormy space weather.

NASA keeps careful track of each astronaut’s accumulated dosage throughout their careers.  Every launch, every space walk, every solar flare is carefully accounted for.  If an astronaut gets too close to the limits … he or she might not be allowed out of the space station!  Accurate space weather alerts can help keep these exposures under control by, e.g., postponing spacewalks when flares are likely.

Speaking at the forum, Allen called for a new kind of forecast: “We could use All Clear alerts. In addition to knowing when it’s dangerous to go outside, we’d also like to know when it’s safe.  This is another frontier for forecasters–not only telling us when a sunspot will erupt, but also when it won’t.”

The educational mission of SWEF is key to storm preparedness. As Lika Guhathakurta and colleague Dan Baker of the University of Colorado asked in a June 17th New York Times op-ed: “What good are space weather alerts if people don’t understand them and won’t react to them?”

By spreading the word, SWEF will help.

More information about the meeting, including a complete program of speakers, may be found at the SWEF 2011 home page.

Author: Dr. Tony Phillips | Credit: Science@NASA

More Information

Footnote:1The solar cycle of 1859 (Solar Cycle 10) was typical of 19th century solar cycles–that is to say, weak. Solar cycles of the 19th century were far below average compared to the intense solar cycles of the Space Age.  Solar Cycle 24, in progress now, is a throw-back, expected to be similar in sunspot count to Solar Cycle 10.

How’s the Weather on the Sun?  — New York Times Op-ed

Integrated Space Weather Analysis System — from the GSFC Space Weather Laboratory

http://science.nasa.gov/science-news/science-at-nasa/2011/22jun_swef2011/ 

CNN: Marine life facing mass extinction, report says

Marine life facing mass extinction, report says

By Thair Shaikh, CNN
June 21, 2011 — Updated 1542 GMT (2342 HKT)
A coral reef in Honolulu, Hawaii -- we face losing entire marine ecosystems, such as coral reefs, within a single generation.
A coral reef in Honolulu, Hawaii — we face losing entire marine ecosystems, such as coral reefs, within a single generation.

STORY HIGHLIGHTS
  • Panel examined effects of pollution, acidification, ocean warming, over-fishing
  • Oceans suffering from “deadly trio” of warming, acidification and hypoxia, says panel
  • Alex Rogers: “The oceans are a common heritage of mankind.”

London (CNN) — Marine life is under severe threat from global warming, pollution and habitat loss, with a high risk of “major extinctions” according to a panel of experts.

These are the conclusions of a distinguished group of marine scientists who met at Oxford University, England, in April to discuss the impact of human activity on the world’s oceans.

The meeting, led by the International Programme on the State of the Ocean (IPSO), examined the combined effects of pollution, acidification, ocean warming, over-fishing and depleting levels of oxygen in the water.

The panel found that oceanic conditions are similar to those of “previous major extinctions of species in Earth’s history,” and that we face losing marine species and entire marine ecosystems, such as coral reefs, within a single generation.

Report: Oceans at risk of ‘extinction’

The interim report, produced in partnership with the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN), was presented to the U.N. on Tuesday.

The study also said that the speed of decline of marine ecosystems is faster than predicted.

Alex Rogers, IPSO’s scientific director, said: “The oceans are a common heritage of mankind. The extinction threat we believe is real.”

Rogers, professor of Conservation Biology at the Department Of Zoology, University of Oxford, told CNN: “The rate of change we are seeing in the quantities of carbon dioxide going into the atmosphere and then being absorbed into the oceans is so great that it is difficult to compare what is happening now with what has happened in the past but we do know that past disturbances in the carbon cycle have been a feature of mass extinction events.”

According to the panel — which consisted of 27 marine experts from 18 organizations — most if not all the five “global mass extinctions” in Earth’s history were probably caused by the “deadly trio” of global warming, ocean acidification and lack of water oxygen or hypoxia.

It states that these three factors are present in the ocean today and gives examples of marine ecosystems suffering severe disturbance, such as the mass “coral bleaching” in 1998 that killed 16% of all the world’s tropical coral reefs.

According to the report, over-fishing has reduced some commercial fish stocks and populations of by-catch species by more than 90%.

Dan Laffoley, senior advisor on Marine Science and Conservation for IUCN, and co-author of the report, said: “The challenges for the future of the ocean are vast, but unlike previous generations we know what now needs to happen. The time to protect the blue heart of our planet is now, today and urgent.”

Marine scientists often describe oceans as the earth’s circulatory system, performing numerous vital functions which make the planet habitable, such as creating more than half our oxygen, driving weather systems while modulating the atmosphere, as well as providing us with vital resources.

http://edition.cnn.com/2011/WORLD/europe/06/21/ocean.extinction.global.warming/ 

Scalar waves

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Rt @CP24: The RCMP is probing a claim that G8 infrastructure funds were misappropriated.