April 25th, 2012
By ELLIOT SPAGAT, Associated Press
SAN DIEGO (AP) — A sergeant will be discharged for criticizing President Barack Obama on Facebook in a case that called into question the Pentagon's policies about social media and its limits on the speech of active duty military personnel, the Marine Corps said Wednesday.
Sgt. Gary Stein will get an other-than-honorable discharge and lose most of his benefits for violating the policies, the Corps said.
The San Diego-area Marine who has served nine years in the Corps said he was disappointed by the decision. He argued that he was exercising his constitutional rights to free speech.
"I love the Marine Corps, I love my job. I wish it wouldn't have gone this way. I'm having a hard time seeing how 15 words on Facebook could have ruined my nine-year career," he told The Associated Press.
Gary Kreep, an attorney for Stein, said he would pursue administrative appeals within the Marine Corps but anticipates the effort will fail. He said he planned to file an amended complaint in federal court.
"As long as he wants to pursue this, we will be supporting him," said Kreep, who is executive director of the United States Justice Foundation, an advocacy group.
The Marines acted after saying Stein stated March 1 on a Facebook page used by Marine meteorologists, "Screw Obama and I will not follow all orders from him." Stein later clarified that statement, saying he would not follow unlawful orders.
Brig. Gen. Daniel Yoo, the commanding general of the Marine Corps Recruit Depot San Diego, said in a brief statement Wednesday that evidence supported an administrative board's recommendation to discharge Stein.
Tom Umberg, a former Army colonel and military prosecutor, said Stein persisted even after being warned.
"The Marine Corps gave him the opportunity to think about his actions, yet Sgt. Stein continued to undermine the chain of command," said Umberg, who was not involved in Stein's case. "I think his purpose was to leave the Marine Corps in a dramatic fashion in order to begin a career in talk radio or what have you."
Umberg believes the decision to discharge Stein will have limited impact because the vast majority of Marines would never consider such postings.
"I think 99 percent of the soldiers and Marines currently on duty understand the duties of supporting the chain of command and understand their rights of free speech are limited," he said. "To that 1 percent who don't know their rights to free speech are limited once they take the oath, this is a loud and clear message."
During a hearing, a military prosecutor submitted screen grabs of Stein's postings on one Facebook page he created called Armed Forces Tea Party, which the prosecutor said included the image of Obama on a "Jackass" movie poster. Stein also superimposed Obama's image on a poster for "The Incredibles" movie that he changed to "The Horribles," military prosecutor Capt. John Torresala said.
At the hearing this month at Camp Pendleton, Torresala argued that Stein's behavior repeatedly violated Pentagon policy and he should be dismissed after ignoring warnings from his superiors about his postings.
The military has had a policy since the Civil War limiting the free speech of service members, including criticism of the commander in chief.
Pentagon directives say military personnel in uniform cannot sponsor a political club; participate in any TV or radio program or group discussion that advocates for or against a political party, candidate or cause; or speak at any event promoting a political movement.
Commissioned officers also may not use contemptuous words against senior officials.
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April 25th, 2012
BLS Note: Most powerful video message yet; It's everything we have been preaching about boiled down into a searingly true 4 minute message.
The environmental agenda has been infected by extremism—it's become an economic suicide pact. And we're here to challenge it On Earth Day, visit http://www.freemarketamerica.org/
April 25th, 2012
During a speech to Advanced Placement students at Von Steuben High School, former Soviet President Mikhail Gorbachev made a strong statement of approval for President Obama. “Of course, there are many people who don’t like what President Obama is doing. But, my opinion of him is very [favorable]. I will support him,” Gorbachev said, according to a Russian translator, the Chicago Sun-Times reports.
During his address, Gorbachev recalled an anecdote about a talk he gave to 12,000 university students prior to the 2008 election. At the event, there were a couple of students who were “particularly persistent” on election day in how Gorbachev should advise them to vote.
“When they asked this question, I said, ‘I don’t want to teach you because, often, America teaches others how they should live.’ If I give you advice, I said, that would be a risk,’” Gorbachev remembered.
“But nevertheless, I did say, ‘I think you Americans need your own Perestroika.’ And 12,000 people rose from their seats and gave me an ovation. And I think that the elections that followed brought a new spirit to America. Of course, there are many people who don’t like what President Obama is doing. But, my opinion of him is very [favorable]. I will support him. However, there are still vested interests who want another Cold War, another arms race, weapons trade, interventions. They will not succeed.”
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April 25th, 2012
NEW YORK (CNNMoney) -- Investigators probing the collapse of bankrupt brokerage MF Global said Tuesday that they have located the $1.6 billion in customer money that had gone missing from the firm.
But just how much of those funds can be returned to the firm's clients, and who will be held responsible for their misappropriation, remains to be seen.
James Giddens, the trustee overseeing the liquidation of MF Global Inc, told the Senate Banking Committee on Tuesday that his team's analysis of how the money went missing "is substantially concluded."
"We can trace where the cash and securities in the firm went, and that we've done," Giddens said.
MF Global failed last year after its disclosure of billions of dollars worth of bets on risky European debt sparked a panic among investors. About $105 billion in cash left the firm in its last week, Giddens said, as clients withdrew their funds and trading partners called for increased margin payments, leaving the firm scrambling to make good on its obligations.
It has since emerged that MF Global tapped customer funds for its own use during this crisis and failed to replace them, in violation of industry rules.
Roughly $700 million of the missing money is now locked up with MF Global's subsidiary in the United Kingdom, where Giddens and his team are engaged in litigation to have it returned to U.S. customers. Giddens said he is "reasonably confident" that these funds will be recovered, though he added that it will be a lengthy process with no guarantee of success.
Another $220 million was transferred inadvertently from the accounts of securities customers to those of commodities customers. That money is now in limbo amid a dispute over which customers it belongs to, said Kent Jarrell, a spokesman for Giddens.
Giddens said his team has "a solid basis for seeking the recovery of some of the funds that were transferred to JPMorgan," and is engaged in ongoing talks on the issue. JPMorgan did not immediately return a request for comment.
Giddens' team is just one among a number of groups probing MF Global's collapse. There's also Louis Freeh, the trustee for MF Global's parent company, as well as the Department of Justice and federal regulators including the Securities and Exchange Commission and the Commodity Futures Trading Commission.
Jill Sommers, a commissioner with the CFTC, told the hearing Tuesday that she could not disclose details of the commission's investigation, but said the case could lead to enforcement actions against the company or the individuals involved.
The SEC and CFTC can only seek civil penalties and restitution for customers, but their findings could help form the basis of a criminal case brought by the Justice Department.
Giddens, for his part, has said he may file civil claims against MF Global executives alleging breach of fiduciary duties and violations of federal law governing commodities trading. A person familiar with the trustee's probe said Jon Corzine, a former U.S. senator and Democratic governor from New Jersey who was CEO of MF Global when it collapsed, is among those against whom Giddens is considering action.
So far, most of MF Global's thousands of former customers have recovered about 70% of their money, while those that traded on foreign exchanges are missing nearly all of it.
On Tuesday, a bankruptcy judge in Manhattan authorized an additional distribution of $685 million that will bring most customers up to around 80% of what they're owed. Six months after the firm's failure, however, they're still waiting for someone to be held accountable.
"Crimes have been committed here without a doubt," said James Koutoulas, an attorney and trader who has been advocating on behalf of MF Global customers.
"We think there are enough facts out here to start arresting people and start filing charges."
April 25th, 2012
New Scientist TV
Sandrine Ceurstemont, editor, New Scientist TV
It's not a bird or a plane: it's an unusual flying object that propels itself by flipping inside out. Created by engineers at Festo in Esslingen, Germany, the floating band filled with helium takes on different shapes while expanding and contracting to generate thrust and move through the air.
The design is based on the inverted cube shape discovered by inventor and mathematician Paul Schatz. By dissecting a cube into three parts, two star-shaped units can be produced at either end with an invertible belt in the middle section which is the same shape as the flying band. The system reproduces the entire structure: it opens to release the band while the ends remain on the ground as a docking station.
The flying object itself is made up of six identical prisms filled with helium, held together by a carbon-fibre framework. Three motors drive the motion coordinated by a tiny onboard computer, pre-programmed to replicate the inversion sequence. Using a smartphone, a person on the ground can guide the object around a room, which will be demonstrated on Monday at a trade show in Hanover, Germany.
The firm still hasn't come up with a specific use for inversion-driven propulsion. The mechanics of automated systems are typically based on rotational or linear motion to drive, for example, motors or grippers, but inversion is seldom used in designs. The company has now launched a competition challenging students in Germany to suggest a functional idea that could be implemented in an industrial environment.
If you enjoyed this post, you might like to watch bionic penguins designed to swim or float in the air or check out a flying robot that mimics a bird.
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