July 12th, 2014
Refocus Notes: Obama is rapidly becoming the internationalist version of a "cuckold-in-chief"
Russian President Vladimir Putin gave final approval on Friday to a measure that wrote off 90 percent of the more than $30 billion in Soviet-era debt Cuba owed Russia. The move came just hours before Putin touched ground in Havana, where he kicked off a six-day tour of Latin America aimed at boosting trade and ties in the region.
Putin's meeting with the Cold War ally of the former Soviet Union is expected to include meetings with President Raul Castro and former leader Fidel Castro.
The visit is Putin's second to the communist island in 14 years, Prensa Latina, Cuba’s official state news agency, reported. Moscow has sought to revive ties with the Caribbean country, whose economy has been saddled with a U.S. economic embargo since 1962. Cuba’s economy also plunged into a severe economic crisis after the collapse of the Soviet Union.
Russia's State Duma approved a deal last week to forgive 90 percent of Cuba's debt, or almost $32 billion, most of it originating from Soviet loans to a fellow communist state. The remaining 10 percent will be spent by Havana on local investment projects selected with Russian input, the Associated Press reported.
Putin's visit will feature commercial agreements, including a deal for Russian state oil companies Rosneft and Zarubezhneft to explore offshore oil. Zarubezhneft has been involved in offshore exploration in Cuba in the past, and currently helps the country extract oil from onshore wells.
Cuba believes there may be 20 billion barrels of oil in its waters, although the U.S. Geological Survey has a more modest estimate of 4.6 billion barrels. A number of foreign companies, including Spain's Repsol SA, Malaysia's Petronas Bhd and Venezuela's PDVSA SA have drilled in Cuba without success.
A major oil find would inject new life into Cuba’s economy, which is desperate for foreign investment. The government has had difficulty meeting obligations to creditors.
Putin’s visit to the region will also include stops in Argentina and Brazil for bilateral talks. While in Brazil, Putin will participate in a summit of emerging market nations that include Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa (BRICS) on Tuesday and Wednesday.
Amid the ongoing crisis in Ukraine, Cuba and some other nations in the region have been sympathetic to Russia's position on the conflict or at least not overtly critical.
Articles in Cuban official newspapers tend to characterize the crisis as a struggle against right-wing extremism that threatens ethnic Russians in Ukraine. Earlier this year, Cuban Foreign Minister Bruno Rodriguez criticized U.S. and EU sanctions on Russian individuals and pro-Russian Ukrainians that sought to pressure Moscow.
In March, Argentine President Cristina Fernandez accused the United States and the United Kingdom of having a double standard for criticizing a pro-Russian independence referendum held in Crimea while backing a similar vote in the disputed Falkland Islands.
Brazil was among several nations opposing Russia's possible exclusion from an upcoming G20 summit in Australia due to the crisis.
"We are grateful to South Americans for the support of our international initiatives, including outer space demilitarization, strengthening international information security and combating the glorification of Nazism," Putin told Prensa Latina.
More from the Sand-Leftists Al Jazeera/ White House News Source of Choice
July 11th, 2014
Remember, "Top Down, bottom up, inside out"~Communist Vann Jones, forced out advisor of the Obama Administration
Case and Point: TSA Allowing Illegals to Fly Without Verifiable ID
The Daily Caller
By Chuck Ross
A local official in Virginia contends that criminal illegal aliens are being given greater privacy rights than American citizens convicted of crimes.
“If you are an illegal alien, the local police have no way of knowing where you are, because ICE will not tell you,” Corey Stewart, the chairman of the Prince William Board of County Supervisors, told radio host Laura Ingraham on Friday.
“The American citizens that have been convicted are being treated worse than illegal immigrants convicted for the same crimes, and this is happening repeatedly across our nation.”
Stewart said that since 2008 his county has handed over 7,000 criminal illegal aliens to the custody of Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE). He contends that while ICE will not provide details of the criminal aliens’ movements, it is clear that many of them are merely being released back into the community, as 773 of them have been re-arrested in the county.
“These are people who weren’t just here illegally, but committed crimes in our community,” Stewart said, while lamenting his community’s inability to track criminal aliens.
Earlier this week, Stewart and other county supervisors voted in support of a measure to allow the county to file Freedom of Information Act requests with ICE to determine the whereabouts of the individuals handed over to ICE.
He says one roadblock thus far has been the ICE’s concern with criminal aliens’ privacy — something that he calls a double-standard when compared to how American criminals are treated.
“[The Administration] won’t even confirm that they’ve deported child predators, sex offenders, rapists, very serious criminals, that we are finding popping up in our community,” Stewart told Ingraham.
He pointed out that American citizens convicted of sex crimes are required to register with local law enforcement agencies under the Adam Walsh Child Protection and Safety Act.
“The justification that the Obama Administration gives, when one inquires about the whereabouts of the 7,000 convicted
illegal immigrants handed over to ICE, is shocking….privacy,” he told Ingraham.
July 11th, 2014
Brief pulse detected by Arecibo telescope appears to come from far beyond our galaxy
McGill University Newsroom
The discovery of a split-second burst of radio waves by scientists using the Arecibo radio telescope in Puerto Rico provides important new evidence of mysterious pulses that appear to come from deep in outer space.
The finding by an international team of astronomers, published July 10 in The Astrophysical Journal, marks the first time that a so-called “fast radio burst” has been detected using an instrument other than the Parkes radio telescope in Australia. Scientists using the Parkes Observatory have recorded a handful of such events, but the lack of any similar findings by other facilities had led to speculation that the Australian instrument might have been picking up signals originating from sources on or near Earth.
“Our result is important because it eliminates any doubt that these radio bursts are truly of cosmic origin,” said Victoria Kaspi, an astrophysics professor at McGill University in Montreal and Principal Investigator for the pulsar-survey project that detected this fast radio burst. “The radio waves show every sign of having come from far outside our galaxy – a really exciting prospect.”
Exactly what may be causing such radio bursts represents a major new enigma for astrophysicists. Possibilities include a range of exotic astrophysical objects, such as evaporating black holes, mergers of neutron stars, or flares from magnetars -- a type of neutron star with extremely powerful magnetic fields.
“Another possibility is that they are bursts much brighter than the giant pulses seen from some pulsars,” notes James Cordes, a professor of astronomy at Cornell University and co-author of the new study.
The unusual pulse was detected on Nov. 2, 2012, at the Arecibo Observatory, a National Science Foundation-sponsored facility that boasts the world’s largest and most sensitive radio telescope, with a radio-mirror dish spanning 305 metres and covering about 20 acres.
While fast radio bursts last just a few thousandths of a second and have rarely been detected, the international team of scientists reporting the Arecibo finding confirm previous estimates that these strange cosmic bursts occur roughly 10,000 times a day over the whole sky. This astonishingly large number is inferred by calculating how much sky was observed, and for how long, in order to make the few detections that have so far been reported.
“The brightness and duration of this event, and the inferred rate at which these bursts occur, are all consistent with the properties of the bursts previously detected by the Parkes telescope in Australia,” said Laura Spitler, lead author of the new paper. Dr. Spitler, now a postdoctoral researcher at the Max Planck Institute for Radio Astronomy in Bonn, Germany, was a PhD student at Cornell when the research work began.
The bursts appear to be coming from beyond the Milky Way galaxy based on measurement of an effect known as plasma dispersion. Pulses that travel through the cosmos are distinguished from man-made interference by the effect of interstellar electrons, which cause radio waves to travel more slowly at lower radio frequencies. The burst detected by the Arecibo telescope has three times the maximum dispersion measure that would be expected from a source within the galaxy, the scientists report.
The discovery was made as part of the Pulsar Arecibo L-Band Feed Array (PALFA) survey, which aims to find a large sample of pulsars and to discover rare objects useful for probing fundamental aspects of neutron star physics and testing theories of gravitational physics.
Efforts are now under way to detect radio bursts using radio telescopes that can observe broad swaths of the sky to help identify them. Telescopes under construction in Australia and South Africa as well as the CHIME telescope in Canada have the potential to detect fast radio bursts; astronomers say these and other new facilities could pave the way for many more discoveries and a better understanding of this mysterious cosmic phenomenon.
The research was supported by grants from the European Research Council, the National Science Foundation, the Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council of Canada, the Fonds de recherche du Québec - Nature et technologies, and the Canadian Institute for Advanced Research, among others. Prof. Kaspi is the R. Howard Webster Foundation Fellow of CIFAR’s Cosmology & Gravity program; she also holds the Lorne Trottier Chair in Astrophysics and Cosmology as well as a Canada Research Chair at McGill.
The Arecibo Observatory is operated by SRI International in alliance with Ana G. Méndez-Universidad Metropolitana and the Universities Space Research Association, under a cooperative agreement with the National Science Foundation (AST-1100968). The data were processed on the ATLAS cluster of the Max Planck Institute for Gravitational Physics (Albert Einstein Institute), Hannover, Germany.
“Fast Radio Burst Discovered in the Arecibo Pulsar ALFA Survey,” by L.G. Spitler, J.M. Cordes, et al. The Astrophysical Journal. Published online July 10, 2014. http://iopscience.iop.org/0004-637X/790/2/101/
July 11th, 2014
A bright object that dazzled in the sky over Australia left people confused. Social media was abuzz with the pictures of the mystery fireball, with users claiming it was either a plane crashing into the ocean or a ‘meteor.’
A round object with a burning tail was spotted in the sky over Victoria, NSW, Tasmania and South Australia at about 9:45pm local time on Thursday night.
Airservices Australia spokesman Paul Sadler told ABC Radio that pilots and air traffic controllers also reported the flaming object.
“A number of pilots reported it to air traffic controllers (and said) it was just a spectacular sight of a meteorite entering the Earth’s atmosphere,” he said.
The “light show” lasted for around 30 seconds, but eyewitnesses were fast to post pictures and start speculating online about what the object could be.
Astronomers quickly dispelled all guesses and said the mystery meteor clearly had signs of a man-made object.
“The images I’ve seen show a lot of different colors,” Astronomical Society of Victoria president Ken Le Marquand told AAP. “When you get lots of colors, it usually means there are different materials in there - man-made materials,” he said.
July 11th, 2014
By Sonali Basak and Jennifer Oldham
A Colorado man is infected with the rarest and most fatal form of plague, an airborne version that can be spread through coughing and sneezing.
It is the first case of pneumonic plague seen in the state since 2004, said Jennifer House, a spokeswoman for the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment. The man, who hasn’t been identified, may have been exposed in Adams County near Denver, health officials said in astatement. While House said the man has been hospitalized and treated, she wouldn’t release other details about his situation.
“He’s on treatment long enough to not be transmissible,” House said in a telephone interview. He may have contracted the illness from his dog, she said, which died suddenly and has also been found to carry the disease.
“We don’t think it’s out in our air,” House said. “We think it’s in our dead animal populations and dead rodent populations.”
Plague in all of its forms infects only about seven people yearly in the U.S. The disease occurs when a bacteria named Yersinia pestis infects the body, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. The difference between the pneumonic and bubonic varieties is that the bacteria takes hold in the lungs in the first case, rather than underneath the skin through insect bites. Both types are treated with antibiotics.
The state is working “to investigate the source of exposure and to identify those who may have been exposed through close contact with the individual,” the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment said in its statement. “Any individuals exposed will be recommended for antibiotic treatment.”
Colorado has had 60 cases of all types of plague since 1957, and nine people have died, the state said.
“The reaction is leaning toward people who are tired of the protection of prairie dogs on some level,” said Jim Siedlecki, director of public information of Adams County. “Most people look at them as cute little dogs on the side of the road, but in rural Adams County they are looked at as a rodent who damages crops and is potentially plague-ridden.”
Adams County, home to 470,000 residents, with 425,000 living in the Denver metro area, is one of Colorado’s fastest-growing counties and among the 20 fastest-growing counties in the nation.
Untreated plague is fatal, and antibiotics have to be given within 24 hours of the first symptoms to reduce the chance of death. Symptoms of the disease include fever, headache and and chest pain, along with a pneumonia that develops rapidly causing shortness of breath, chest pain and bloody mucus, according to the CDC.
There is no vaccine available for plague in the U.S. The bubonic form is the most common, best known for its outbreaks in the Middle Ages.
Colorado officials recommend that residents keep pets away from wildlife, especially dead rodents. The plague can spread from animals after a large die-offs of prairie dogs, when fleas with the bacteria seek new hosts, according to the state.
“The message we’re trying to get out is that the plague bacteria is present here in Colorado, and to take necessary precautions to avoid getting infected,” House said.