Saturday, July 25, 2015

Mass Movement of Troops?

Perhaps this is all just propaganda? Whatever Operation Jade Helm really is remains a mystery, as of this time.
-Daniel aka Obsidian

Thursday, July 16, 2015

Koch-a-mamie Facts...

Sometimes it's good to present reports from the Koch Brother's funded pseudo-scientist's think tank's "findings" for debate.
-Daniel aka Obsidian

Earth heading for 'mini ice age' in just 15 years, scientists say

By Doug G. Ware   |   July 11, 2015 at 5:34 PM
Ice piles up along the a breakwater in Chicago on January 7, 2014. Solar scientists predict that the Earth will enter a "mini ice age" around 2030 due to decreased activity by the sun, which will bring with it frigid cold winters. The last time the Earth experienced a similar situation occurred between 1645 and 1715. File photo by Brian Kersey/UPI
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LLANDUDNO, Wales, July 11 (UPI) -- Solar scientists, armed with the best data yet regarding the activities of the sun, say the Earth is headed for a "mini ice age" in just 15 years -- something that hasn't happened for three centuries.

Professor Valentina Zharkova, of the University of Northumbria, presented the findings at the National Astronomy Meeting in Wales this week, Britain's Independent reported Saturday.
Researchers, saying they understand solar cycles better than ever, predict that the sun's normal activity will decrease by 60 percent around 2030 -- triggering the "mini ice age" that could last for a decade. The last time the Earth was hit by such a lull in solar activity happened 300 years ago, during the Maunder Minimum, which lasted from 1645 to 1715.

Scientists say there are magnetic waves in the sun's interior that fluctuate between the body's northern and southern hemispheres, resulting in various solar conditions over a period of 10 to 12 years. Based on that data, researchers say they are now better able to anticipate the sun's activity -- which has led to the Zharkova team's prediction. "Combining both [magnetic] waves together and comparing to real data for the current solar cycle, we found that our predictions showed an accuracy of 97 percent," Zharkova said.

If the "mini ice age" does indeed arrive, scientists say it will be accompanied by bitter cold winters -- frigid enough to cause rivers, like the Thames in London, to freeze over.

A Differnet Type of Blackhole...

& i thought they were referring to Gov. Chris Cristie's presidential announcement.
-Daniel aka Obsidian

A nearby black hole just erupted for the first time in 26 years and scientists are ecstatic

Business Insider

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black hole
Lurking 8,000 light years from Earth is a black hole 12 times more massive than our sun. It's been peacefully sleeping for 26 years. But on June 15, astronomers detected something signaling that it had woken up. Now, scientists around the world are using highly sophisticated instruments to learn as much as they can about this mysterious beast of nature before the black hole returns to its slumber, which will be soon.

Black holes are very dense, massive objects in space that have an immensely powerful gravitational field that traps anything and everything that comes too close, including light. But on occasion they'll spit out material as well as suck it in. On June 15, one of NASA's satellites picked up a torrent of x-rays all coming from a single source: the black hole.

"Relative to the lifetime of space observatories, these black hole eruptions are quite rare," said Neil Gehrels, the principal investigator for Swift, the NASA satellite that first identified the eruption in a NASA press release. "So when we see one of them flare up, we try to throw everything we have at it, monitoring across the spectrum, from radio waves to gamma rays."

A deadly companion

This black hole is just one half of a two-body system called V404 Cygni. Its partner is a star slightly smaller than our sun, and it's been nourishing the black hole for at least 77 years. The x-rays that astronomers observed on June 15 were the heated guts from the companion star that had spiraled into the mouth of the black hole.

When black holes in binary systems, like V404 Cygni, feed, they do so by gravitationally attracting a single thread of gas from the star. The black hole is 12 times more massive than its companion and therefore has a much stronger gravitational grip which slowly pulls gas from the star as the star orbits around it, like in the animation below:

As the gas gets pulled in, it orbits around the black hole, forming a disc. The closer the gas gets to the black hole, the stronger gravitational force it feels and so the faster it moves, heating up to searing-hot temperatures. When the gas reaches temperatures of more than 1.7 million degrees Fahrenheit, it emits a jet of high-energy particles, which satellites like NASA's Swift instrument then detect — albeit 8,000 years later because of the time it takes light to travel from the V404 Cygni to Earth.

But there isn't always a steady stream of gas falling into the black hole, which is why it takes such long naps in between feedings. That disc has two regions: and inner, hot region, and an outer cool region. You need a lot of gas to provide enough pressure and push to cross this barrier, which takes time to generate. Once the black hole has consumed all of the gas in the inner region, which it does in a few days, it has to wait for more. But scientists don't understand the details of how much gas is necessary or exactly how long it takes to build up. 

That's why this event is so exciting because it gives astronomers a chance to better understand the mechanism that's driving these eruptions.

A once-in-a-professional-lifetime opportunity

black hole
(European Southern Observatory on Flickr) V404 Cygni's black hole has erupted before.
However, when astronomers first saw the outbursts more than 77 years ago, in 1938, they didn't have half of the instruments that are around today. The black hole erupted again in 1956, and then again in 1989.

While the eruption of 1989 was studied with a handful of instruments, the outburst wasn't studied in half the detail compared to this year's event. Outbursts like this usually only last for a few weeks to months, so astronomers have culminated a total of nine instruments in space and on the ground to study the black hole in all wavelengths, from very low energy like radio waves to the most energetic like gamma rays, before time runs out.

Some of the instruments they're using include the Chandra X-ray Observatory, the European Space Agency's INTEGRAL satellite, Japan's MAXI, and the 10.4-meter Gran Telescope Canarias operated by Spain in the Canary Islands.

"It is definitely a 'once in a professional lifetime' opportunity," said Erik Kuulkers, the INTEGRAL project scientist in the NASA press release.

Tuesday, July 14, 2015

Butterfly Dreaming it was a Man?

To tell you the truth, i always suspected it. (just kidding)
-Daniel aka Obsidian

Some physicists believe we're living in a giant hologram — and it's not that far-fetched


Some physicists actually believe that the universe we live in might be a hologram.

The idea isn't that the universe is some sort of fake simulation out of The Matrix, but rather that even though we appear to live in a three-dimensional universe, it might only have two dimensions. It's called the holographic principle.
The thinking goes like this: Some distant two-dimensional surface contains all the data needed to fully describe our world — and much like in a hologram, this data is projected to appear in three dimensions. Like the characters on a TV screen, we live on a flat surface that happens to look like it has depth.The laws of physics seem to make more sense when written in two dimensions than in three

It might sound absurd. But if when physicists assume it's true in their calculations, all sorts of big physics problems — such as the nature of black holes and the reconciling of gravity and quantum mechanics — become much simpler to solve. In short, the laws of physics seem to make more sense when written in two dimensions than in three.

"It's not considered some wild speculation among most theoretical physicists," says Leonard Susskind, the Stanford physicist who first formally defined the idea decades ago. "It's become a working, everyday tool to solve problems in physics."

But there's an important distinction to be made here. There's no direct evidence that our universe actually is a two-dimensional hologram. These calculations aren't the same as a mathematical proof. Rather, they're intriguing suggestions that our universe could be a hologram. And as of yet, not all physicists believe we have a good way of testing the idea experimentally.

Where did the idea that the universe might be a hologram come from?

The idea originally came out of a pair of paradoxes concerning black holes.

1) The black hole information loss problem
In 1974, Stephen Hawking famously discovered that black holes, contrary to what had long been thought, actually emit slight amounts of radiation over time. Eventually, as this energy bleeds away from the event horizon — the black hole's outer edge — the black hole should completely disappear.
black hole
An illustration of radiation escaping from a black hole. (Communicate Science)

However, this idea prompted what's known as the black hole information loss problem. It's long been thought that physical information can't be destroyed: All particles either retain their original form or, if they change, that change impacts other particles, so the first set of particles' original state could be inferred at the end.

As an analogy, think of a stack of documents that are fed through a shredder. Even though they're cut into tiny pieces, the information present on the pieces of paper still exists. It's been cut into tiny pieces, but it hasn't disappeared, and given enough time, the documents could be reassembled so that you'd know what was written on them originally. In essence, the same thing was thought to be true with particles.

But there was a problem: If a black hole disappears, then the information present in any object that may have been sucked into it seemingly disappears, too.

One solution, proposed by Susskind and Dutch physicist Gerard 't Hooft in the mid-'90s, was that when an object gets pulled into a black hole, it leaves behind some sort of 2D imprint encoded on the event horizon. Later, when radiation leaves the black hole, it picks up the imprint of this data. In this way, the information isn't really destroyed.

And their calculations showed that on just the 2D surface of a black hole, you could store enough information to completely describe any seemingly 3D objects inside it.

"The analogy that both of us independently were thinking about was that of a hologram — a two-dimensional piece of film which can encode all the information in a three-dimensional region of space," Susskind says.

The entropy problem: There was also the related problem of calculating the amount of entropy in a black hole — that is, the amount of disorder and randomness among its particles. In the '70s, Jacob Bekenstein had calculated that their entropy is capped, and that the cap is proportional to the 2D area of a black hole's event horizon.

"For ordinary matter systems, the entropy is proportional to the volume, not the area," says Juan Maldacena, an Argentinian physicist involved in studying the holographic principle. Eventually, he and others saw that this, too, pointed to the idea that what looked like a 3D object — a black hole — might be best understood using only two dimensions.

How did this idea go from black holes to the entire universe?

None of this was proof that black holes were holograms. But early on, Susskind says, physicists recognized that looking at the entire universe as a two-dimensional object that only looks three-dimensional might help solve some deeper problems in theoretical physics. And the math works just as well whether you're talking about a black hole, a planet, or an entire universe.

In 1998, Maldacena demonstrated that a hypothetical universe could be a hologram. His particular hypothetical universe was in what's called anti-de Sitter space (which, to simplify things, has a curved shape over huge distances, as opposed to our universe, which is believed to be flat):
anti de sitter space
Anti-de Sitter space (left) curves in on itself. Our universe (right) is believed to be flat. (The Physics Mill) What's more, by viewing this universe in two dimensions, he found a way to make the increasingly popular idea of string theory — a broad framework in which the basic building blocks of the universe are one-dimensional strings, rather than particles — jibe neatly with the well-established laws of particle physics.

And even more importantly, by doing so, he united two hugely important, disparate concepts in physics under one theoretical framework. "The holographic principle connected the theory of gravity to theories of particle physics," Maldacena says.

Combining these two fundamental ideas into a single coherent theory (often called quantum gravity) remains one of the holy grails of physics. So the holographic principle making it possible in this hypothetical universe was a big deal. Of course, all of this is still quite different from saying that our actual universe — not this weird hypothetical one — is a hologram.

But could our universe actually be a hologram — or does the idea only apply to hypothetical ones?

That's still a matter of active debate. But there's been some recent theoretical work that suggests the holographic principle might work for our universe too — including a high-profile paper by Austrian and Indian physicists that came out this past May.

Like Maldacena, they also sought to use the principle to find a similarity between the disparate fields of quantum physics and gravitational theory. In our universe, these two theories typically don't align: They predict different results regarding the behavior of any given particle. But in the new paper, the physicists calculated how these theories would predict the degree of entanglement — the bizarre quantum phenomenon in which the states of two tiny particles can become correlated so that a change to one particle can affect the other, even if they're far away. They found that by viewing one particular model of a flat universe as a hologram, they could indeed get the results of both theories to match up.

Still, even though this was a bit closer to our universe than the one Maldacena had worked with, it was just one particular type of flat space, and their calculations didn't take time into account — just the other three spatial dimensions. What's more, even if this did apply directly to our universe, it'd only show that it's possible it could be a hologram. It wouldn't be hard evidence.

How could we prove that the universe is a hologram?

Fermilab's Holometer, used in tests that some say could find evidence for the holographic principle. (Fermilab)

The best type of proof would start with some testable prediction made by holographic theory. Experimental physicists could then gather evidence to see if it matches the prediction. For instance, the theory of the Big Bang predicted that we might find some form of remnant energy emanating throughout the universe as a result of the violent expansion 13.8 billion years ago — and in the 1960s, astronomers found exactly that, in the form of the cosmic microwave background.

At the moment, there's no universally agreed-upon test that would provide firm evidence for the idea. Still, some physicists believe that the holographic principle predicts there's a limit to how much information spacetime can contain, because our seemingly 3D spacetime is encoded by limited amounts of 2D information. As Fermilab's Craig Hogan recently put it to Motherboard, "The basic effect is that reality has a limited amount of information, like a Netflix movie when Comcast is not giving you enough bandwidth. So things are a little blurry and jittery."

Hogan and others are using an instrument called a Holomoter to look for this sort of blurriness. It relies on powerful lasers to see whether — at super-small, submicroscopic levels — there's a fundamental limit in the amount of information present in spacetime itself. If there is, they say, it could be evidence that we're living in a hologram.

Still, other physicists, including Susskind, reject the premise of this experiment and say it can't provide any evidence for the holographic principle.

Let's say we prove the universe is a hologram. What would that mean for my everyday life?

Everyday life in a holographic universe. (
Everyday life in a holographic universe. (

In one strict sense, it'd mean little. The same laws of physics you've been living with for your entire life would seem to remain exactly the same. Your house, dog, car, and body would keep appearing as three-dimensional objects, just like they always have.

But in a deeper sense, this discovery would revolutionize our existence on a profound level.
It doesn't matter much for your day-to-day life that the universe was formed 13.8 billion years in a sudden, violent expansion from a single point of matter. But the discovery of the Big Bang is instrumental for our current understanding of the history of the universe and our place within the cosmos.
Likewise, the bizarre principles of quantum mechanics — like entanglement, in which two distant particles somehow affect each other — don't really change your daily life either. You can't see atoms and don't notice them doing this. But these principles are another basic truth that tells us something utterly unexpected about the fundamental nature of the universe.

Proving the holographic principle would be much the same. Living our normal lives, we probably won't think much about the peculiar, counterintuitive fact that we live in a hologram. But the discovery would serve as an important step toward fully understanding the laws of physics — which dictate every action you've ever taken.

Saturday, July 11, 2015

Worthy Art...

When @ least 2% of the population of a species evolves, the zeitgeists of the other 98% automatically follows. Is this what we are experiencing? Your comments please.
-Daniel aka Obsidian

Vandals target Confederate monuments in half-dozen states

FILE - This June 25, 2015, file photo shows the words “Black Lives Matter” spray painted on a monument to former Confederate President Jefferson Davis in Richmond, Va. Confederate monuments in a half-dozen places this week have been defaced _ a telling sign of the racial tension that permeates post-Ferguson America. (AP Photo/Steve Helber, File)
ST. LOUIS (AP) — Vandals have targeted monuments dedicated to the leaders and soldiers of the Confederacy, painting the slogan "Black lives matter" on memorials in a half-dozen states where the landmarks stand tall in parks and outside government buildings.

The graffiti reflects the racial tension that permeates post-Ferguson America, more than a week after a white man was accused of shooting and killing nine black congregants at a Charleston, South Carolina, church.

Michael Allen, a lecturer in American culture studies at Washington University in St. Louis, compared the vandalism to the toppling of statues in Russia at the end of the Soviet empire.
"If the monuments are strong statements of past values, defacing them is the easiest and loudest way to rebuke those statements," Allen said.

Confederate symbols including the rebel battle flag have been the subject of resentment for years. The anger boiled over after last week's massacre at the Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal Church. The suspect, Dylann Roof, posed in photos with the Confederate flag.

Politicians throughout the South are taking steps to remove the flag from public places. Black activists say the monuments should meet the same fate.

One of the defaced monuments was the Confederate Memorial in St. Louis' Forest Park, 10 miles from Ferguson. The same graffiti was reported on memorials in Charleston; Baltimore; Austin, Texas; Asheville, North Carolina; and Richmond, Virginia. No arrests have been made.

Racial wounds in the U.S. were torn open last August, when a white police officer in the St. Louis suburb of Ferguson, Missouri, fatally shot 18-year-old Michael Brown, who was black and unarmed. Officer Darren Wilson was cleared of any wrongdoing, but the shooting raised new awareness about the treatment of blacks.

"Black lives matter" became a rallying call in protests that followed police shootings of black men in other cities, too. With the Charleston shooting refocusing attention on Confederate symbolism, experts said, it isn't surprising that some people would take out their anger on monuments to those who fought on the side of slavery.

Elizabeth Brondolo, a psychology professor at St. John's University in New York who studies the effects of race on mental and physical health, said the defacing of memorials reflects a "consensus that there's been a very serious failure of empathy, a failure to understand what these symbols might mean to people who suffered from slavery and ongoing aggression."

Defaced monuments at the University of Texas in Austin and in Richmond honor Confederate President Jefferson Davis. The Asheville monument pays homage to Zebulon Vance, a Confederate officer and later a governor and senator. Others, like the St. Louis memorial, are more generic tributes to those who fought for the South.

The future of the 32-foot-tall, 101-year-old statue in St. Louis was already in doubt. In April, Mayor Francis Slay ordered a study of what to do with it and asked for the review to be complete by the end of the summer. Options include altering the wording of the plaque, moving the monument out of Forest Park or removing it entirely.

The University of Texas in Austin is weighing options for its statues of Davis and other Confederate war heroes, with a decision expected by Aug. 1. Three of those statutes were damaged this week.
In Kentucky, both candidates for governor, along with other prominent political leaders, are calling for the Jefferson Davis statue to be removed from its prominent place in the statehouse rotunda and placed in a museum.

Efforts have also begun to seek removal of Confederate monuments in Nashville, Tennessee; Shreveport, Louisiana; Orlando, Florida; Portsmouth, Virginia; and Birmingham, Alabama.
Darrell Maples, commander of the Missouri chapter of the Sons of Confederate Veterans, said the "citizen-soldiers who fought for the Confederacy personified the best qualities of America."
He said altering or removing monuments is "divisive and unnecessary."

Brandi Collins of the civil rights group Color Of said the effort isn't about revising history.

"It's about saying that if we are truly about equity, about moving forward, we have to respect everybody who lives in and built this country," she said.

Tuesday, June 30, 2015

Truimph for Obama...

Hora-aah for Pres Obama & for all those in the nation who for many years were getting bilked by the greedy insurance and pharmaceutical companies!
-Daniel aka Obsidian

Obama comments on the Supreme Court ruling at the White House Rose Garden. (Photo: Jonathan Ernst/Reuters)

The U.S. Supreme Court on Thursday upheld the provision of tax subsidies under the 2010 Affordable Care Act, President Barack Obama’s signature health care law.
It was the second time in three years the nation’s highest court has handed the Obama administration a key victory in its fight to defend the law, which has been under unremitting attack from conservatives since its passage.

“The Affordable Care Act is here to stay,” Obama said in a statement from the White House Rose Garden after the court ruling. “This is a good day for America.”
Shortly after the court’s decision was handed down, those hailing the ruling — and hating on it — lit up Twitter.

Saturday, June 27, 2015

Could it be the End?...

Talk about the movie "Armageddon."
-Daniel aka Obsidian

NASA Working With National Nuclear Security Administration On Plan To Use Nukes On Doomsday Asteroid

If NASA has its way, the human race won't be going the way of the dinosaurs anytime soon.
The space agency is teaming up with the National Nuclear Security Administration to work on a planetary defense plan to deflect a potential doomsday asteroid so it doesn't strike Earth, according to The New York Times.

Last week's announcement came ahead of the first official "Asteroid Day" on June 30, a day scientists hope will raise awareness of the threat posed by near-Earth objects and encourage governments to develop a better plan to detect and track them.

June 30 is the anniversary of the 1908 impact of an asteroid in Siberia that wiped out some 800 square miles of forest. The surprise impact of the 2013 Chelyabinsk meteor, which caused a 500-kiloton airburst over Russia, shows potentially threatening space rocks are still out there.
There are swarms of them orbiting between Mars and Jupiter,” Neil deGrasse Tyson, director of the Hayden Planetarium at the American Museum of Natural History in New York, said at a 2013 panel discussion of asteroids. “And some of them have orbits that come in a little too close, and cross the orbit of Earth around the Sun.”

Dealing with a threatening near-Earth object isn't as simple as aiming a nuclear weapon at it.
In 2013, researchers at the Asteroid Deflection Research Center at Iowa State University came up with a plan to use a two-section spacecraft to first smash a hole in the asteroid, then dump a nuclear weapon into the crater to blow it up.

Bong Wie, the center's director, told that 99 percent of the pieces left would miss Earth, and most of the rest would burn up in the atmosphere. However, NASA said those smaller pieces could still pose a problem, and the best approach is to deflect rather than destroy. "The trick is to gently nudge the asteroid out of harm's way and not to blow it up," the agency states on its Near Earth Objects website. Setting off a nuclear weapon above the surface of the asteroid would cause a slight change in velocity without damaging the asteroid itself. It's not exactly the big Hollywood finish, but it might be the most effective option.

"A very modest velocity change in the asteroid's motion (only a few millimeters per second), acting over several years, can cause the asteroid to miss the Earth entirely," the agency said.
NASA has also said that some asteroids may be deflected without the use of a nuclear weapon.

"For the far more numerous asteroids that are smaller than a few hundred meters in diameter, if we have adequate early warning of several years to a decade, a weighted robotic spacecraft could be targeted to collide with the object, thereby modifying its velocity to nudge the trajectory just enough that the Earth impact would be avoided," the space agency wrote in another report.
The problem, the agency said, is that we may not have "several years to a decade."

"Since the number of near-Earth asteroids increases as their sizes decrease, we are most likely to be hit by the relatively small objects that are most difficult to find ahead of time," the agency said. "As a result, consideration must also be given to the notification and evacuation of those regions on Earth that would be affected by the imminent collision of a small, recently-discovered impactor."
Although researchers are working to change that, at least one expert isn't convinced we're ready.

Retired astronaut Russell “Rusty” Schweickart, who was was part of the Apollo 9 mission in 1969, is co-founder of the B612 Foundation, an organization dedicated to planetary defense against asteroids. B612 is hoping to launch Sentinel, a privately funded spacecraft that would be able to detect and track potentially hazardous objects in space.

In an interview with Newsweek, Schweickart didn't sound especially positive about the ability of nations to unite against a global threat. “I fear there’s not enough of a collective survival instinct to really overcome the centrifugal political forces,” he said. “That is, in a nutshell, the reason we’ll get hit. Not because technically we don’t know it’s coming, or we can’t do something about it.”

The founders of Asteroid Day, which include Queen guitarist and astrophysicist Brian May, have created the 100x Asteroid Declaration, which calls on governments to increase by a hundredfold the discovery and tracking of near-Earth objects. Along with May, backers of the declaration include Bill Nye, Carolyn Shoemaker, Brian Cox, Chris Hadfield, Mark Kelly, Lord Martin Rees and Richard Dawkins, as well as Schweickart and his fellow B612 cofounder Ed Lu.

A Piece of Rag...

That's because only the flags that count were flown @ 1/2 mast. If you posted a flag of Mars on the state capital building, you wouldn't be required to lower such a silly piece of rag on such an important day. Your opinions, please.
-Daniel aka Obsidian

Confederate flag, despite massacre, still flies high

Charleston (United States) (AFP) - Flags were flying at half-staff Thursday in South Carolina after the cold-blooded killing of nine black people in an historic African-American church in Charleston -- with one notable exception.

Related Stories

Outside the legislature in the state capital Columbia, the racially divisive Confederate battle flag still flies high, renewing debate over its symbolism more than 150 years after the Civil War defeat of the slave-holding rebel South.

Dylann Roof, the 21-year-old white male suspected of carrying out the Emanuel African Episcopal Methodist Church bloodbath, was one of many southern Americans who identified with the 13-star saltire in red, white and blue.

In a photo posted on Twitter by a South Carolina television journalist Thursday, Roof is seen astride a 1990s Hyundai sedan that bears a "Confederate States of America" ceremonial bumper tag that prominently features the flag. Roof was apprehended Thursday in North Carolina in the same vehicle and returned to Charleston to face charges.

By coincidence, the US Supreme Court on Thursday ruled 5-4 that Texas did not violate the Constitution's free-speech provision when it denied a request from the 30,000-member Sons of Confederate Veterans group for a state-approved Confederate flag license plate.

 The South Carolina and American flags fly at half mast as the Confederate flag unfurls below at the State Capital. "This is a sad day for the First Amendment and for mutual respect and bridge-building among Americans of different viewpoints," the organization said in a statement.

Others focused outrage on the South Carolina state house, where the Confederate flag remained at full height even as the US and South Carolina flags were lowered in mourning. "Moral cowardice requires choice and action," wrote Ta-Nehisi Coates, an African-American national correspondent for The Atlantic magazine, blogged on Thursday. "Take down the flag. Take it down now."
Alas, that's easier said than done. By law, state officials say, only the entire South Carolina legislature can decide if and when the flag can be lowered.

Barbara Owens casts a shadow on a memorial message board outside the Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal Church. One of the victims of Wednesday's attack on the Emanuel church's evening Bible class was its senior pastor Clementa Pinckney, 41, a state senator since 2000 and a lower-house member before that. Supporters of the Confederate flag consider it a valued token of enduring Southern pride and heritage, while critics see it as a symbol of racism and white supremacy.

- 'Regardless of race' -

"The Confederate Battle Flag represents all Southern, and even Northern, Confederates regardless of race or religion and is the symbol of less government, less taxes and the right of the people to govern themselves," says Dixie Outfitters, a Virginia-based retailer of Confederate-themed merchandise.

A nationwide poll by the Pew Research Center in 2011 indicated that nine percent of Americans felt positive upon seeing the Confederate flag, against 30 percent who said they reacted negatively and 58 percent who felt neither way.

But among blacks, 41 percent told Pew said they reacted negatively to the sight of the flag -- such is its power to invoke the memory of antebellum slavery and the decades of harsh racial segregation that followed the Civil War.

Sentiments are even stronger in South Carolina, where the opening shots of the Civil War were fired in April 1861 at Fort Sumter in Charleston harbor. (The city itself was the American capital of the transatlantic slave trade, with 40 percent of enslaved Africans passing through it.)

In a 2014 poll for the State newspaper in Columbia, three out of four white South Carolina residents said the Confederate flag should keep flying outside the state house -- compared to 61 percent of blacks who wanted to see it go.

- Banned in California -

In California, since January this year, the Confederate flag cannot be displayed by state authorities, under a law initiated by a black state legislator whose mother once came across the banner for sale in a state house gift shop.

Mississippi, on the other hand, remains the only state that features the Confederate saltire on its official state flag, where it appears in the canton. An attempt to change it was soundly defeated in a 2001 referendum.

The Anti-Defamation League, best known for tackling anti-Semitism, says the Confederate flag is popular among white supremacists in both the United States and abroad. But it adds on its website: "Because of the continued use of the flag by non-extremists, one should not automatically assume that display of the flag is racist or white supremacist in nature. The symbol should only be judged in context."


Sunday, June 21, 2015

After Reading This You Can Go Back to Sleep...

If anyone is NOT paying attention to this. All I have to say is: That the Mets are leading their division, until after the All Star games, and September rolls along, which is when they historically go downhill & the Kardashians made an announcement that they will not be pre-broadcasting the name of their 2nd baby... & you know, i had a funny dream last night that i was kissing Mary Mc Gillacutty ... (Go back to sleep)
-Daniel aka Obsidian

Russia to add 40 new intercontinental missiles this year

Associated Press

Russian President Vladimir Putin, center, and Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu, right, arrive for the opening of the Army-2015 international military show in Kubinka, outside Moscow, on Tuesday, June 16, 2015. The show features the latest Russian weapons. Putin said Tuesday the Russian military will receive 40 new intercontinental ballistic missiles this year capable of piercing any missile defenses, a blunt reminder of the nation's nuclear might amid tensions with the West over Ukraine. (Vasily Maximov/ pool photo via AP)
MOSCOW (AP) — Russia's military will add over 40 new intercontinental ballistic missiles this year alone that are capable of piercing any missile defenses, President Vladimir Putin said Tuesday in a blunt reminder of the nation's nuclear might amid tensions with the West over Ukraine.

Putin spoke at the opening of an arms show at a shooting range in Alabino just west of Moscow, a huge display intended to showcase Russia's resurgent military.

NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg accused the Russians of "nuclear saber-rattling," and said that was one of the reasons the western military alliance has been beefing up its ability to defend its members.

U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry, briefing reporters via teleconference from Boston, where he is recovering from surgery on a broken leg, called Putin's announcement concerning.

"We're trying to move in the opposite direction," Kerry said. "We have had enormous cooperation from the 1990s forward with respect to the structure of nuclear weapons in the former territories of the Soviet Union. And no one wants to see us step backwards."

He said Putin could be posturing.

"It's really hard to tell," Kerry said. "But nobody should hear that kind of an announcement from the leader of a powerful country and not be concerned about the implications."

Russia-West relations have plunged to their lowest point since Cold War times over Moscow's annexation of Ukraine's Crimean Peninsula and support for a pro-Russia separatist insurgency in eastern Ukraine. The U.S. and the EU have slapped Russia with economic sanctions, and Washington and its NATO allies have pondered an array of measures in response to Russia's moves.

The three Baltic members of the alliance, Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania, have asked NATO to permanently deploy ground troops to their nations as a deterrent against an increasingly assertive Russia. And Polish Defense Minister Tomasz Siemoniak says he and U.S. Defense Secretary Ash Carter have held talks about placing U.S. heavy army equipment in Poland.

The NATO chief said he expected Carter to brief other alliance members on the proposal to stockpile tanks and other weapons and supplies in Eastern Europe during a NATO defense ministers meeting next week.

"I welcome all efforts to defend and protect allies," Stoltenberg said in Brussels.
Moscow bristled at the plans, warning Washington that the deployment of new U.S. weapons near Russian borders would foment dangerous instability in Europe.

"The United States is inciting tensions and carefully nurturing their European allies' anti-Russian phobias in order to use the current difficult situation for further expanding its military presence and influence in Europe," the Russian Foreign Ministry said.

"We hope that reason will prevail and it will be possible to save the situation in Europe from sliding toward a military standoff, which could entail dangerous consequences," the ministry added. The NATO chief said the alliance had to respond to Russia's actions by "increasing the readiness and the preparedness of our forces."

"We are responding by making sure that NATO also in the future is an alliance which provides deterrence and protection for all allies against any threat," Stoltenberg said.

In his speech at the arms show, Putin vowed to continue a big arms modernization program despite the nation's economic downturn. He specifically mentioned the Armata tanks and other new armored vehicles, which were first shown to the public during a Red Square military parade last month.

The Russian leader also noted the military was to start testing its new long-range early warning radar intended to monitor the western border and later will deploy another one in the east."Over 40 new intercontinental ballistic missiles capable of penetrating any, even the most technologically advanced missile defense systems, will join the nuclear forces in the current year," he said.

Last year, the military received 38 ICBMs, according to Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu. Modernizing the nation's nuclear forces is a top priority for the military, which needs to gradually decommission its aging Soviet-built ICBMs.

Stoltenberg described the Russian arms buildup as destabilizing. "They are developing new nuclear capabilities and they are also using nuclear rhetoric more in the way they are messaging their defense strategy and defense posture," Stoltenberg said. "This nuclear saber-rattling of Russia is unjustified. It's destabilizing and it's dangerous."

Putin said the re-armament program should help encourage the nation's economic growth and spearhead innovations. Independent experts warn, however, that a weapons upgrade that envisages spending 22 trillion rubles (over $400 billion) on new weapons through 2020 would be an unbearable burden now when the Russian economy has plunged into recession.

Despite the gloomy economic outlook, Russian arms makers used the arms show to publicize costly new weapons that even the Soviet Union couldn't afford. The navy revealed a project of an aircraft carrier capable of carrying 90 aircraft. It also showed a mock-up of a new amphibious landing ship, a vessel similar to the Mistral-class ship built on Russian orders in France, whose delivery has been suspended over the Ukrainian crisis.

Amid the current spike in Russia-West tensions, Washington accused Moscow of violating its obligations under a landmark nuclear arms control treaty by flight-testing a ground-launched cruise missile with a range prohibited by the treaty. Russia rejected the accusations, and, in its turn, alleged that some elements of the U.S. missile defense shield violate the 1987 Intermediate-range Nuclear Forces, or INF, treaty.

The RIA Novosti news agency on Tuesday quoted Russia's Deputy Foreign Minister Sergei Ryabkov as saying that Moscow is ready to hold consultations to discuss the mutual complaints.
John-Thor Dahlburg in Brussels and Bradley Klapper in Washington contributed to this report.