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Threats to US: Pentagon officials drop three surprises

As the Defense Secretary Leon Panetta and America’s top military officer, Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Gen. Martin Dempsey fielded budget questions on Capitol Hill Thursday, the Pentagon’s key intelligence officials were warning of ‘current and future worldwide threats’ to US national security in another less-attended hearing. Here are three top surprises that they acknowledged to lawmakers.

1. ‘Radical’ elements in US forces

Senior US military and intelligence officials are warning of their growing concern that rogue “radical” elements are operating – or preparing to operate – “within the ranks” of the intelligence community and armed forces.

“The potential for trusted US government and contractor insiders using their authorized access to personnel, facilities, information, equipment, networks or information systems in order to cause great harm is becoming an increasingly serious threat to our national security,” said Lt. Gen. Ronald Burgess, director of the Defense Intelligence Agency (DIA), in testimony before the Senate Armed Services Committee.

“Trusted insiders now have unprecedented access to US government information and resources in secure work environments,” he added.

He warned of those who have become “self-radicalized,” as well as “lone wolves,” particularly “within our ranks.”

As a result, the DIA and other Pentagon offices are developing an “insider threat” document, designed to identify perils from within. Burgess pointed to the “recent massive WikiLeaks disclosure,” which, he charged, “compromises our national security and also endangers lives.”

Read all HERE.

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Mayo Clinic: First-Aid Guide “Learn how to give first aid in emergency situations; more than 50 topics covered. This is a Mayo Clinic web resource.”

The belief that it is lucky to pick up a horseshoe comes from the idea that it was a protection against witches and evil generally. The legend is that Mars (iron) is the enemy of Saturn (God of the Witches); consequently they were nailed to the house door with two ends uppermost, so that the luck did not “run out.” – Provided by Reference.com

6 Abandoned Places That Will Make Awesome Supervillain Lairs.

The Tampa Bay Rays unveil alternate mascot: DJ Kitty.

Is This the Funniest YouTube Video Ever?

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Jacqueline Rush Lee, Little Red Book (Devotion Series), 2008

Interviewed after winning England’s Costa Prize for Literature in late January, the distinguished novelist Andrew Miller remarked that while he assumed that soon most popular fiction would be read on screen, he believed and hoped that literary fiction would continue to be read on paper. In his Man Booker Prize acceptance speech last October, Julian Barnes made his own plea for the survival of printed books. Jonathan Franzen has also declared himself of the same faith. At the university where I work, certain professors, old and young, will react with disapproval at the notion that one is reading poetry on a Kindle. It is sacrilege.

Are they right?

In practical terms it is all too easy to defend the e-book. We can buy a text instantly wherever we are in the world. We pay less. We use no paper, occupy no space. Kindle’s wireless system keeps our page, even when we open the book on a different reader than the one we left off. We can change the type size according to the light and our eyesight. We can change the font according to our taste. Cooped up in the press of the metro, we turn the pages by applying a light pressure of the thumb. Lying in bed, we don’t have that problem of having to use two hands to keep a fat paperback open.

But I want to go beyond practicality to the reading experience itself, our engagement with the text. What is it that these literary men and women are afraid of losing should the paper novel really go into decline? Surely not the cover, so often a repository of misleading images and tediously fulsome endorsements. Surely not the pleasure of running fingers and eyes over quality paper, something that hardly alters whether one is reading Jane Austen or Dan Brown. Hopefully it is not the quality of the paper that determines our appreciation for the classics.

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First Issue of Newsweek Magazine Is Published (This Day in 1933)

Originally News-Week, the magazine debuted 10 years after Time, for which Newsweek founder Thomas J.C. Martyn had been an editor. It evolved into a full spectrum of news material, from breaking news and analysis to reviews and commentary. In 1961, it was purchased by Philip Graham, publisher of The Washington Post. In 2010, it was sold for $1 to American businessman Sidney Harman. Today, Newsweek is the second largest newsweekly in the US. What is the largest? More…

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Most of my cycling heroes are dopers, probably all of them. Anyone who pays attention to professional cycling for any period of time must come to grips with the sport’s relationship with doping. Earlier this month, Lance Armstrong was let off the hook by the federal prosecutors who had been investigating him for the past two years. Less than a week later, Alberto Contador, the man currently atop the sport, was suspended for a positive doping test from 2010. Armstrong can now rest on his laurels without fear of censure, while Contador has to sit out a significant portion of what remains of his prime, in addition to having his 2010 Tour de France and 2011 Giro d’Italia titles stripped from him. The two greatest cyclists of my adult life have just been judged, one deemed safe from prosecution and the other branded a cheater. Both verdicts seem to be the fairest course of action, but what more are we to think of them? Is Armstrong’s legacy safe? Is Contador’s ruined? In a sport with as complicated a doping history as cycling, there can be no single correct answer to what to think of a doping conviction, or even exoneration. The International Cycling Union revokes the victories of caught dopers, but this practice ignores the realities of the sport’s past and raises more problems than it solves. Such institutional whitewashing is an attempt to control history, to excise things the UCI wishes hadn’t happened from the record, instead of dealing with them honestly. It cannot change the fact that Contador both won the 2010 Tour and failed a doping control, and it should not try to control how we view that tainted victory.

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Erin Bonsteel

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BILL HICKS, a comedian, used to joke that there must be a “ledge beyond the edge”. How else could the survival of Keith Richards be explained? What goes for rock stars also appears to go for Greece, which has been on the brink of a second bail-out package for weeks.

Deadlines have already been missed. A meeting of the Eurogroup of finance ministers, scheduled for February 15th, at which the terms of a deal were supposed to have been endorsed, was postponed the day before. Euro-zone ministers wanted more details of proposed spending cuts as well as written assurances that Greek politicians won’t renege on the deal once a general election, pencilled in for April 8th, is over. Greece has consistently missed its targets to date; trust among its troika of rescuers—euro-zone governments, the IMF and the European Central Bank (ECB)—that it will stick to a new agreement is low.

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Andrew Pole had just started working as a statistician for Target in 2002, when two colleagues from the marketing department stopped by his desk to ask an odd question: “If we wanted to figure out if a customer is pregnant, even if she didn’t want us to know, can you do that? ”

Pole has a master’s degree in statistics and another in economics, and has been obsessed with the intersection of data and human behavior most of his life. His parents were teachers in North Dakota, and while other kids were going to 4-H, Pole was doing algebra and writing computer programs. “The stereotype of a math nerd is true,” he told me when I spoke with him last year. “I kind of like going out and evangelizing analytics.”

As the marketers explained to Pole — and as Pole later explained to me, back when we were still speaking and before Target told him to stop — new parents are a retailer’s holy grail. Most shoppers don’t buy everything they need at one store. Instead, they buy groceries at the grocery store and toys at the toy store, and they visit Target only when they need certain items they associate with Target — cleaning supplies, say, or new socks or a six-month supply of toilet paper. But Target sells everything from milk to stuffed animals to lawn furniture to electronics, so one of the company’s primary goals is convincing customers that the only store they need is Target. But it’s a tough message to get across, even with the most ingenious ad campaigns, because once consumers’ shopping habits are ingrained, it’s incredibly difficult to change them.

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The rich would not be caught dead in a smelly, crowded bus, taking two hours to get to work.

Now, we know the poor don’t like it either.

“However, a recent study finds that many of the assumptions behind this argument, namely that the poor cannot afford automobiles and that they view transit as a viable substitute, are unfounded.

  • According to the five-year American Community Survey for 2006 to 2010, 76.3 percent of low-income workers use cars to get to work.
  • This is only slightly less than the figure for the population as a whole, 83.3 percent, suggesting that those with low levels of income still have access to automobiles.
Furthermore, while many argue for the implementation of large infrastructure projects in major cities in order to create transit opportunities for the poor, it is evident that low-income workers make little use of public transit options.
  • Among low-income workers, only 9.6 percent get to work via public transit.ending
  • Again, this figure is similar to the proportion of the total population that also uses public transit, 7.9 percent.”
Government transportation is about unions getting more bribe payers, crony capitalists making profits and politicians pretending that going bankrupt is good for us, as long as we take the bus to the courthouse.

There’s more

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Gonorrhea, one of the most common sexually transmitted diseases in the United States, is increasingly showing resistance to one of the last known effective antibiotic treatments, leading researchers from the Centers for Disease Control to “sound the alarm” about potentially untreatable forms of the disease.

“During the past three years, the wily gonococcus has become less susceptible to our last line of antimicrobial defense, threatening our ability to cure gonorrhea,” Gail Bolan, director of the CDC’s sexually transmitted disease prevention program, wrote in The New England Journal of Medicine last week.

[Antibiotic-resistant bacteria found in 37 states]

According to the CDC, gonorrhea has a long history of developing immunity to antibiotics, but doctors have always had a stronger medicine up their sleeves to treat patients. Not anymore—about 1.7 percent of gonorrhea is now resistant to cephalosporins, the last line of defense against gonorrhea. That might not seem like much, but it’s a 17-fold increase since 2006, when about one tenth of one percent of gonorrhea was believed to have resistance to cephalosporins.

According to Bolan, the strains are showing up most often in the western states, where 3.6 percent of gonorrhea has shown resistance to cephalosporins, and in men who have sex with men, with nearly 5 percent of gonorrhea showing resistance.

The disease has been estimated to affect 600,000 Americans annually, causing burning with urination, abdominal pain, itching, and genital discharge.

Nikki Mayes, a spokesperson for the CDC, wrote in an email that by using a combination of cephalosporins and other antibiotics, American doctors have been able to prevent anyone from getting a completely untreatable case of gonorrhea. But she says it’s only a matter of time.

“The trends in decreased susceptibility that we’re seeing, coupled with the history of emerging resistance and reported treatment failures in other countries point to the likelihood of treatment failures on the horizon,” she writes.

Read more here

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I wonder if this is really out there somewhere. I can not find where this picture was taken, but if true, somewhere out there is a real dummy!

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In Prostitutes of God, VICE travels deep into the remote villages and towns of Southern India to uncover an ancient system of religious sex slavery dating back to the 6th century.

Although the practice was made illegal more than 20 years ago, we discover there are still more than 23,000 women in the state of Karnataka selling their bodies in the name of the mysterious Hindu Goddess Yellamma.

They are known as Devadasis, or servants of God. From city red light districts to rural mud huts, we meet proud brothel madams, HIV positive teenage prostitutes, and gay men in saris.

Our intimate exploration into the life of the Devadasi reveals a pseudo-religious system that exploits poverty-stricken families to fuel modern India’s booming sex trade.

via Click for video.

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I lost patience with teachers’ unions when union officials in New York City defended a teacher who had passed out in class, reeking of alcohol, with even the principal unable to rouse her.

Not to mention when union officials in Los Angeles helped a teacher keep his job after he allegedly mocked a student who had tried to commit suicide, suggesting that the boy slash his wrists more deeply the next time.

In many cities, teachers’ unions ensured no one was removed for mere incompetence. If a teacher stole or abused a student, yes, but school boards didn’t even try to remove teachers who couldn’t teach.

“Before, you had to go smack the mayor in order to get fired,” Reggie Mayo, the schools superintendent here in New Haven, told me.

That’s what makes an experiment under way here so jaw-dropping. New Haven has arguably become ground zero for school reform in America because it is transforming the system with the full cooperation of the union.

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Some were too old, too ill for their task. Others quarreled over reimbursements for hotel accommodations or refused orders to carry out their mission.

Simply put, many of the 166 Arab observers parachuted into Syria on Dec. 24 to document the widening violence were utterly incapable of enduring the rigors of life in a country roiled by social upheaval and conflict, according to an internal account of their work.

“Regrettably, some observers thought that their visit to Syria was for pleasure,” wrote Gen. Mohamed Ahmed Mustafa Al-Dabi, the chief of the Arab League monitoring mission. “In some instances, experts who were nominated were not qualified for the job, did not have prior experience, and were not able to shoulder the responsibility.”

On Jan. 18, Arab League Secretary General Nabil Elaraby ordered the suspension of the organization’s observer mission, its first major experiment in human rights monitoring. He claimed that the escalation of violence had undercut its ability to do its job.

But a confidential account of the organization’s mission, signed by the monitor’s controversial chief and obtained by Turtle Bay, shows that the Arab monitors were hobbled from the beginning by a shortage of equipment — and by what Al-Dabi describes as a ferocious Syrian media disinformation campaign against the monitors and him personally. “The credibility of the mission has been undermined in the minds of Arab and foreign viewers,” he wrote.

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You gotta enjoy this one!

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Secrets of the Iceman- Ice mummy of ancient man, discovered in 1991 in the Tyrolean Alps on a glacier an altitude of 3200 meters. Age mummy, defined by the radiocarbon method is about 5300 years. Currently, scientists continue to study the mummies. Dutch artist Adrie and Alfons Kennys used the results of 3-D-scan skeleton Iceman in order to recreate it full size copy. Scientists initially thought that Iceman eyes were blue, a recent study of DNA confirmed that his eyes were brown. After the mummy was taken to the laboratory, researchers have raised the temperature is 64 degrees in order to unfreeze the mummy. Melt water were examined for the presence of bacteria, which contributed to an ancient mummy is so well preserved. After the autopsy lasted nine o’clock, the mummy was returned to the starting temperature of 21 degrees and placed in a glass sarcophagus. Studies conducted in the Museum of Archaeology in Bolzano South Tyrol, Italy. Under assumptions of scholars, Iceman could be a little more than forty years. See amazing photos of Secrets of the Iceman.

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There has been a debate among scientists since the 1960s about how the first plant species arose between 1 and 1.5 billion years ago. The most widely accepted idea is that the plant kingdom had a single ancestor that formed when a plastid joined in a symbiotic union with a cyanobacterium, and the new research lends weight to this hypothesis.

Plastids are a class of organelles that includes chloroplasts. Chloroplasts produce the green color of plants and green algae because they contain the pigment chlorophyll, which is able to convert energy from light into energy useful to the cell, in a process known as photosynthesis.

Plastids are found in all green plants, the glaucophytes, and in red algae, and are known as primary plastids. They were originally cyanobacteria, which became incorporated into the cell. The glaucophytes are a group of microscopic blue-green algae found in freshwater, and only 13 species are known, none of which is common. They have been little studied, even though some scientists have suggested they may be the most similar to the original algae that first incorporated a cyanobacterium.

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