May 3rd, 2012
On Saturday night, the full moon will be closer to Earth than at any other time this year, an occurrence that's been labeled a supermoon.
Due to the moon's egg-shaped orbit, there are times when our natural satellite is at perigee—its closest to Earth—and at apogee, its farthest.
The term "supermoon" was coined in 1979 to describe a full moon that coincides with perigee—something that happens about once a year, on average.
During this week's perigee, the moon will be 221,801 miles (356,955 kilometers) from our planet, and that close approach will happen within minutes of the official full moon phase, which occurs at 11:35 p.m. ET.
"As a consequence, this translates into it appearing as much as 16 percent bigger and 30 percent brighter than other full moons of 2012—not a huge amount, but definitely noticeable," said Geza Gyuk, an astronomer at the Adler Planetarium in Chicago.
The moon's proximity won't have any major effects on our planet, according to astronomers, who hope to dispel fears that the looming lunar orb causes natural disasters.
"While we know that during new and full moons the tides are greatest—and if it's in concert with a storm surge it might produce unusual flooding—there is no scientific evidence that earthquakes and other natural disasters are connected," Gyuk said.
"Supermoons have been happening for billions of years, and nothing particularly special occurs on these dates—except, of course, for a beautiful full moon."
Another Supermoon on the Horizon
For photo hounds, the most picturesque moments during Saturday's supermoon will occur in the minutes after local sunset, as the full moon hovers above the horizon.
"What you should see is the moon rising, deeply colored and looming over the foreground objects," Gyuk said. (Related pictures: See how a lunar eclipse turns the full moon red.)
Because the size of the moon's orbit varies slightly, each monthly perigee is not always the same distance from Earth.
In March 2011, for example, sky-watchers were treated to the closest supermoon in two decades, when the moon was a mere 221,565 miles (356,575 kilometers) from Earth.
And next month the full moon will again roughly coincide with perigee, albeit one that puts the moon a bit farther away, at 222,750 miles (358,482 kilometers), Gyuk said.
"The full moon will appear to be just half of one percent different in size," Gyuk said. "So if you miss this month's supermoon, don't worry, you can see it again when it is only one percent less bright."
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May 3rd, 2012
CNN / By Ashley Fantz
Here are the documents. What do you think?
(CNN) -- A trove of never-before-seen letters by Osama bin Laden portray the terrorist leader as an irritated boss chiding his underlings for mistakes yet sure that they could pull off elaborate attacks against the United States.
U.S. Navy SEALs took the correspondence after they killed bin Laden in a raid on his Pakistan compound in May 2011. On Thursday, the Combating Terrorism Center at the U.S. Military Academy in West Point, New York, released 17 letters totaling 175 pages, with more documents to be made public later.
U.S. officials say that the documents recovered in the compound -- about 6,000 worth -- were written between September 2006 and April 2011 and were recovered from five computers, dozens of hard drives and more than 100 storage devices. The cache has been described as the single largest batch of senior terrorist material ever obtained.
CNN reviewed the released papers, which can be read in full here.
Taken as a whole, the letters suggest that al Qaeda senior leadership couldn't decide on how to move forward. What tactics should they use? Do they need better strategy? A segment of the records reveals that bin Laden was revamping al Qaeda's media strategy, particularly in the wake of the Arab Spring protests, a movement toward freer societies in the Middle East and North Africa. He wanted to launch a publicity campaign that would inspire those who had "not yet revolted."
As a leader, bin Laden reveals himself to be hot-tempered and annoyed that the terrorist network he built had too many uncontrollable affiliates around the globe. At one point, he demands that four senior figures in al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula write their own detailed self-reviews and send them to him.
Jealousy, hair dye and admitting mistakes
As a man, he seemed given to the same vanities and tasteless musings of any aging power player. He was coloring his graying hair with Just for Men dye, taking Viagra and making bad jokes about having multiple wives.
But, at the same time, he wrote that he was concerned for at least one of the women and was also deeply worried that his adult sons were being watched and should be careful when traveling. In other points in the letters, bin Laden appears jealous of a Yemeni cleric whom followers had grown to admire.
In summer 2010, bin Laden appears so desperate to re-energize al Qaeda that he calls for admitting that attacking inside Muslim countries has been a mistake for which members should apologize. In urging more U.S. and U.S.-related targets, he wrote, "Making these mistakes is a great issue ... as a result the alienation of most of the nation from the Mujahidin.
"For the brothers in all the regions to apologize and be held responsible for what happened."
CNN terrorism analyst Peter Bergen was the only journalist to get early access to some of the documents while researching his new book "Manhunt: The Ten-Year Search for Bin Laden From 9/11 to Abbottabad." Bergen was also allowed inside the compound and saw the walls spattered with bin Laden's blood after a SEAL shot him.
Bergen described his reporting in an exclusive interview with CNN this week, suggesting that bin Laden was an "inveterate micromanager but was also someone almost delusional in his belief that his organization could still force a change in American foreign policies in the Muslim world."
But that didn't mean he lacked ambition.
Bin Laden wanted to see another major terrorist attack occur in the United States and wanted to kill President Barack Obama and Gen. David Petraeus when he was the commander of international forces in Afghanistan. Bin Laden ordered that units be established at Bagram Air Base in Afghanistan and in Pakistan to target planes carrying Petraeus or Obama.
Vice President Joseph Biden should not be attacked, he instructed.
"Good manners, integrity, courage"
"Biden is totally unprepared for that post."
If Obama were killed and Biden took control of the White House, bin Laden wrote, it would "lead the US into a crisis."
If Petraeus were killed, he reasoned, it would alter the course of the war.
Writing to one of his top lieutenants in 2010, he said he wanted "qualified brothers to be responsible for a large operation in the US."
He wanted high-ranking al Qaeda brass to nominate al Qaeda members distinguished by "good manners, integrity, courage and secretiveness, who can operate in the US."
Bin Laden still believed that attacks in the air worked well. He urged about 10 "brothers" -- preferably from the Gulf states -- to be sent to "study aviation" so they could carry out suicide attacks.
In an undated letter, unsigned but believed to have been written by bin Laden, the author likened the U.S. to a tree and its allies and cooperating Muslim countries as the branches. The writer explains that al Qaeda and its affiliates make up the saw that will slowly cut down the tree, after which its branches will die.
"Our abilities and resources, however, are limited, thus we cannot do the job quickly enough. The only option we are left with is to slowly cut that tree down by using a saw. Our intention is to saw the trunk of that tree, and never to stop until that tree falls down."
May 3rd, 2012
The Los Angeles Times
Kim Christensen and Tony Perry
The Drug Enforcement Administration has apologized to a San Diego college student who said he drank his own urine to survive after being left in a holding cell for five days without food, water or access to a toilet.
The man, identified by news outlets as 23-year-old UC San Diego engineering student Daniel Chong, was “accidentally” left in the holding cell after he and eight other people were detained for questioning following an April 21 raid in which agents found guns, ammunition and an array of drugs, including 18,000 ecstasy pills, the DEA said.
“I am deeply troubled by the incident that occurred here last week,” William R. Sherman, acting special agent in charge of DEA's San Diego Division, said in a statement Wednesday.
“I extend my deepest apologies [to] the young man and want to express that this event is not indicative of the high standards that I hold my employees to,” Sherman said, adding he has ordered “an extensive review” of DEA policies and procedures.
All of the suspects were fingerprinted, photographed and interviewed individually, as agents moved them among the five cells at the DEA post.
After processing, seven of the nine were taken to a county detention facility, one was released and Chong was “accidentally left in one of the cells,” the DEA said, without elaborating.
As days went by, Chong told NBC San Diego, he “kicked the door many, many times,” in a futile attempt to get agents’ attention. He eventually drank his urine to survive, he said, began hallucinating and tried to kill himself by breaking his glasses and cutting his wrist.
“I didn’t care if I died,” he told the station. “I was completely insane.”
When agents finally discovered Chong, he was taken to a hospital and admitted to an intensive-care unit for several days, the station said.
The DEA said Chong told agents he had been at the house that was raided “to get high with his friends” and that he later admitted using a white powdery substance found in his cell that tested positive for methamphetamine. He has not been charged.
“The individual is not currently under arrest,” the DEA said in a statement, “and we plan to thoroughly review both the events and the detention procedures on April 21st and after.”
May 3rd, 2012
Bls note: Um....Clearly a nordic-native American, Yeah, that's right....the lighting's all wrong in the above photo....wait..
Now, below is a pic that's much more accurate. You can clearly see the native American heritage in the below pic.
Yep, definite Cherokee blood....
By Hillary Chabot
Democratic Senate candidate Elizabeth Warren, fending off questions about whether she used her Native American heritage to advance her career, said today she enrolled herself as a minority in law school directories for nearly a decade because she hoped to meet other people with tribal roots.
“I listed myself in the directory in the hopes that it might mean that I would be invited to a luncheon, a group something that might happen with people who are like I am. Nothing like that ever happened, that was clearly not the use for it and so I stopped checking it off,” said Warren.
The Harvard Law professor argued she didn’t use her minority status to get her teaching jobs, and slammed her Republican rival U.S. Sen.Scott Brown for suggesting otherwise.
“The only one as I understand it who’s raising any question about whether or not I was qualified for my job is Scott Brown and I think I am qualified and frankly I’m a little shocked to hear anybody raise a question about whether or not I’m qualified to hold a job teaching,” she said, pushing to put Brown on defense. “What does he think it takes for a woman to be qualified?”
Warren is looking to shake off the story of her Native American background, which has hounded her since the Herald first reported that Harvard Law School has touted Warren as a minority hire. She also listed herself as a minority in a law school directory for nine years between 1986 and 1995.
“Being Native American has been part of my story I guess since the day I was born,” said Warren, who never mentioned her Native American heritage on the campaign trail even as she detailed much of her personal history to voters in speeches, statements and a video. “These are my family stories, I have lived in a family that has talked about Native American and talked about tribes since I was a little girl.”
Warren’s statements come as genealogists at the New England Historic Genealogical Society were unable to back up earlier accounts that her great great great grandmother is Cherokee. While Warren’s great great great grandmother, named O.C. Sarah Smith, is listed on a electronic transcript of a 1894 marriage application as Cherokee, the genealogists are unable to find the actual record or a photograhic copy of it, Society spokesman Tom Champoux said. A copy of the marriage license itself has been located, but unlike the application, it does not list Smith’s ethnicity.
May 2nd, 2012
An IDF spokesperson said intelligence assessments called for the deployment of more soldiers.
According to 2008′s Reserve Duty Law, combat soldiers can be called for active reserve duty once every three years, and for short training sessions during the other two. Rising tensions between Israel and Egypt and the ongoing unrest in Syria caused the army to ask the Knesset for special permission to call up more soldiers, more often.
The Foreign Affairs and Defense Committee approved the request recently, enabling the IDF to summon up to 22 battalions for active duty for the second time in three years. Already, the army has called up six of them.
“This signifies that the IDF regards the Egyptian and Syrian borders as the potential source of a greater threat than in the past,” the former deputy chief of staff, Dan Harel, said on Wednesday night.
“The army needs a better ‘answer’ than in the past to the threat,” he said, citing Egypt’s deteriorating control over the Sinai, marked by an upsurge in Bedouin smuggling of weapons and other goods. He also spoke of the growing threat of terrorism from Sinai, as exemplified by an infiltration last August in which eight Israelis were killed.
The Syrian situation was also highly combustible, Harel said, “and it could explode at any moment… and pose a direct challenge to us.”
Maariv said the army had to decide whether to cancel training sessions for enlisted soldiers or to summon additional reserve units, and it chose the latter; canceling training would mean soldiers would not be prepared in the case of an all-out war.
The IDF spokesperson said all the letters summoning soldiers for reserve duty were sent after the IDF received the approval of the Foreign Affairs and Defense Committee for the larger call-up.
One of the reservists summoned told Maariv he hadn’t expected his call-up letter until next year. Leaving home for more than three weeks is something you have to prepare for, he noted.
Activists from the Reserve Soldiers Forum said they were disappointed time and again by the way the IDF treated its reserve soldiers. The law was supposed to help reservists, but it has been repeatedly bypassed and ignored, they said. “At the end, all that will remain of the law will be its title.”
More from the Times of Israel