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Pakistan says U.S. drones in its air space will be shot down December 15, 2011


December 15, 2011

by legitgov

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Pakistan says U.S. drones in its air space will be shot down [Awesome! It's about time.] 10 Dec 2011 Pakistan will shoot down any U.S. drone that intrudes its air space per new directives, a senior Pakistani official told NBC News on Saturday. According to the new Pakistani defense policy, “Any object entering into our air space, including U.S. drones, will be treated as hostile and be shot down,” a senior Pakistani military official told NBC News. The policy change comes just weeks after a deadly NATO attack on Pakistani military checkpoints ‘accidentally’ killed 24 Pakistani soldiers, prompting Pakistani officials to order all U.S. personnel out of a remote airfield in Pakistan.

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Iran calls for UN condemnation of U.S. drone aggression December 10, 2011


December 9, 2011

by legitgov

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Iran calls for UN condemnation of U.S. drone aggression 09 Dec 2011 Iran Thursday called on the United Nations to condemn a U.S. unmanned drone’s violation of its air space and sought “clear and effective measures” to end such “dangerous and unlawful acts” against the country. Mohammad Khazaee, the Iranian permanent representative to the United Nations, made the appeal in his letter to UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon. The ambassador said the “blatant and unprovoked air violation” is tantamount to an act of hostility against Iran in clear contravention of international law, in particular, the basic tenets of the UN Charter.

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Iran Says it Shot Down US Spy Drone December 4, 2011

Iranian media report that Iran’s armed forces have shot down an unmanned U.S. spy plane after it allegedly violated Iranian air space.

The reports quote military officials who say the spy drone was not badly damaged and is in the Iranian military’s possession.

Iranian media say Iran’s military shot down the U.S. drone in the country’s east, but the reports do not say when the incident occurred. There was no immediate reaction to the reports from officials in Washington.

In July, Iranian state-run media quoted an Iranian lawmaker who claimed that Iran shot down a U.S.spy aircraft near the Fordu nuclear site. Iran’s Revolutionary Guard later refuted the report.

The U.S. and its Western allies have been in dispute with Iran over its controversial nuclear program.  Western nations say Iran is trying to obtain the capability to make nuclear weapons, while Iran says its nuclear program is for peaceful purposes.

Last month, a report by the U.N. atomic energy watchdog agency strongly suggested that Iran is researching nuclear weapons.

Some information for this report was provided by AP, AFP and Reuters.

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Occupy Movement Marks Two Months of Protests November 17, 2011

Hundreds of Occupy movement protesters are rallying in New York Thursday, as part of a national day of action supported by other demonstrations across the country.

In New York’s financial district, the situation intensified as hundreds of anti-capitalist demonstrators pushed back against police and dismantled barriers that police erected around Wall Street.

Thursday is the two-month anniversary of the Occupy Wall Street movement, and protesters have promised a major show of strength.

New York police say at least 50 protesters were arrested as the group attempted to disrupt the New York Stock Exchange.

The latest development comes two days after the city evicted protesters from Zuccotti Park in Lower Manhattan, where they had been living in tents since September. They were allowed to return to the public space, but were prohibited from camping there.

The protesters say they plan to take Thursday’s demonstration to New York’s subways and major bridges.

Other demonstrations were taking place Thursday in Los Angeles, California, Portland Oregon and other U.S. cities. Demonstrators in Washington D.C. plan to march on the Key Bridge connecting Washington to Virginia as part of a nationwide “Get on the Bridge” call to action.

Rallies also were planned overseas in Belgium, Germany and Spain.

In the U.S., tensions between protesters and local authorities have escalated as police move to clear protester encampments.  The clearing of the Occupy camp in New York follows recent evictions in cities such as Portland, Atlanta, Georgia and Oakland, California.

After police dismantled the Zuccotti Park camp Tuesday, demonstrators filed a motion seeking to be allowed back in with their tents and sleeping bags.  But a judge ruled that the New York park’s ban on sleeping did not violate the protesters’ constitutional right to free speech.

New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg said he agrees with the judge’s decision that free speech does not include the right to “endanger the public or infringe on the rights of others by taking over a public space.”

Zuccotti Park has been the epicenter of the Occupy protest movement, sparking similar occupations of other public spaces throughout the United States and in other countries.

Some information for this report was provided by AP, AFP and Reuters.

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Herman Cain stumbles badly on Libya question November 16, 2011


November 15, 2011

by legitgov

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Herman Cain stumbles badly on Libya question –Cain said he has ‘all this stuff twirling around in my head.’ [Yup, lots of empty space in his head to accommodate the real estate required for all that 'stuff to twirl around.'] 14 Nov 2011 Herman Cain struggled to explain his position on President Obama’s handling of Libya in an interview with the Journal Sentinel of Milwaukee released Monday, at one point asking if Mr. Obama supported the uprising and suggesting he was having a hard time articulating an answer because he has “all this stuff twirling around in my head.”

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Mapping New York’s hidden gems: how crowdsourcing is taking the city back November 9, 2011

Cities are more than concrete and traffic; look a little harder and you can find places to sit, and breathe and escape the world. But sometimes, you have to look really hard.

And that’s what The New York World has been doing for the past two weeks, ever since it went on WNYC’s Brian Lehrer show to ask New Yorkers to help find the city’s “privately owned public spaces” – those small patches of indoor and outdoor real estate that property owners have committed to making available for public use. The world has heard of Zuccotti Park, thanks partly to the Occupy protests. But New York is dotted with these beautiful spaces.



Members of Occupy Wall Street sleep in Zuccotti Park near Wall Street, New York. Photograph: Emmanuel Dunand/AFP/Getty Images

Developers were given valuable exemptions to the city’s zoning rules in exchange for building and maintaining public areas. But building a space and letting the public use it are two different things. Michael Keller, behind the project, says there’s very little enforcement of the “public” part of these privately owned public spaces and equally little data about the shape they’re in. “Some, like Zuccotti Park, are very well maintained, while others, including Dag Hammerskjold Plaza are actually locked up.”

Responsibility for policing these areas falls on the the Department of Buildings, but there’s little evidence this is enforced.

The New York World got the official list of these spaces from the Department of City Planning and asked New Yorkers to check them out, see if they could get in and rate them. (By the way, if you want to get this dataset yourself, says Keller, watch out for some weirdness in the new NYC Socrata-powered data handling system – this dataset was corrupted in the process. “Notice how after “.zip” there’s a bunch of garbage characters. If you delete those characters and then unzip, it will function normally. It’s in Access format. We converted it to a csv, and added “New York, NY” to the address field for geocoding. We also had to spot check and clean up some odd geocoding behavior, which is wont to happen.”)


Bigger version

The result is this crowdsourced map – created using Fusion tables and with a couple of nifty features, including an address finder so people could easily see what sites are near their home or office. “If they’re on a mobile device, we added a GPS locator to make it easy to find nearby spaces. To give people feedback we added the progress bar and we’re sorting the responses to
prepare followup stories on what we find,” says Keller.

They’ve received over 150 submitted comments and 132 unique sites have been visited. “From those comments, we identified places where readers were denied access such finding locked gates or security guards asking for ID and turning people away,” says Keller.

Go to the site today and you will find an elevated acre at 55 Water Street in Lower Manhattan (where summer visitors can take in outdoor movies). But there’s also the Loftus garden at 275 W. 96th Street, which is only open one afternoon a week, leaving visitors to gaze longingly at its verdant website.

Taking the process one step further, the group have looked at city records to go over the details of the land deals and contacted management to ask them about policy when it comes to public use of space. “So far we’ve found some spaces that look like they’re in violation of their agreements with the city to provide this space and as more comments come, the more places we get to look at.”

Crowdsourcing tends to be used for huge datasets, partly to make them more manageable. But this shows how crowdsourcing can create meaningful data anywhere and with any project. And find some beautiful places along the way.

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White House denies alien contact November 8, 2011

Astronomers are listening to the cosmos; but no evidence exists yet for alien life

The US government has formally denied that it has any knowledge of contact with extraterrestrial life.

The announcement came as a response to submissions to the We The People website, which promises to address any petition that gains 5,000 signatories.

Two petitions called for disclosure of government information on ETs and an acknowledgement of any contact.

The White House responded that there was “no evidence that any life exists outside our planet”.

More than 17,000 citizens joined the two petitions, and the White House has since amended the requirements for response to a minimum of 25,000 signatories.

“The US government has no evidence that any life exists outside our planet, or that an extraterrestrial presence has contacted or engaged any member of the human race,” wrote space policy expert Phil Larson of the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy.

“In addition, there is no credible information to suggest that any evidence is being hidden from the public’s eye.”

The post went on to outline the efforts that are underway that may add evidence to the debate, namely the space missions Kepler and the Mars Science Laboratory.

Kepler is searching for Earth-like planets around far-flung stars, and the Mars Science Laboratory will sample the Red Planet’s geology looking for the building blocks of life – though it will not explicitly look for life itself.

Perhaps the most famous effort in the hunt for alien life is the Search for Extraterrestrial Intelligence (Seti), once funded in part by US space agency Nasa, which continues to listen to and look around the cosmos for signs of intelligent civilisations elsewhere.

Mr Larson summarised the numbers game that a hunt for ETs necessarily entails.

“Many scientists and mathematicians have looked… at the question of whether life likely exists beyond Earth, and have come to the conclusion that the odds are pretty high that somewhere among the trillions and trillions of stars in the Universe there is a planet other than ours that is home to life,” he wrote.

“Many have also noted, however, that the odds of us making contact with any of them – especially any intelligent ones – are extremely small, given the distances involved.”

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