Saturday, April 27, 2013

White House Says US May Use Military Force Against Syria | Albany ...

White House

White House

Published: April 26, 2013


The White House says President Barack Obama may approve using military force against the Syrian government.

On Friday, White House press secretary Jay Carney said the administration has a number of options with regards to handling reports that Syrian President Bashar al-Assad has used chemical weapons, and those include using military force among other possibilities.

Fielding a question from the media during the afternoon presser, Carney said he could not speculate on what action if any Pres. Obama would pursue against Assad, but said ?as a general principal the United States retains the ability to act unilaterally.?

Just one day earlier, US Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel said the US intelligence community determined ?with varying degrees of confidence that the Syrian regime has used chemical weapons.? The White House sent a letter to members of the US Senate that morning informing lawmakers that Pres. Assad is believed to have used the odorless liquid sarin on at least two occasions.

?Thus far, we believe that the Assad regime maintains custody of these weapons, and has demonstrated a willingness to escalate its horrific use of violence against the Syrian people,? the letter read in part.

Following up on Friday, Carney said, ?We still believe based on the information that we have that the stockpiles of chemical weapons in Syria are under control of the Syrian regime.?

?Because of that, Assad is responsible for the disposition of those chemical weapons and it is his responsibility first and foremost not to use them or to transport them to terrorist groups, but to secure them and make sure they aren?t used by anyone else.?

?That?s all I can really say about it. That?s our assessment at this time,? said Carney, adding that the Obama administration is working with allies and partners, including the United Nations and the Syrian opposition, to gather credible facts to corroborate earlier reports.


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Leap Motion shipments delayed until July 22nd, beta test period begins in June

Leap Motion shipments delayed until July 28th

Leap has been accepting pre-orders for its motion controller for some time now, and has been promising a ship date of May 13th since February, but there's now been a slight change of plans. The company has confirmed that it's delaying those shipments until July 22nd. In a letter sent to pre-order customers (included after the break), Leap CEO Michael Buckwald explains that the company has already manufactured over six hundred thousand devices and delivered twelve thousand to developers, and says "the reality is we very likely could have hit the original ship date." But, he adds, "it wouldn't have left time for comprehensive testing."

That's now set to begin in the form of a beta test that will start in June, which will see developers who've already received a unit get a feature complete product, and other non-developers invited to join as well. According to Buckwald, that expanded beta test is "the only way we felt 100% confident we could deliver a truly magical product that would do justice to this new form of interaction." He'll be participating in an open Google Hangout tomorrow to discuss the move further -- specific details on it are promised to be coming soon.

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Thursday, April 11, 2013

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Reagan, Thatcher forged a close, lasting bond

WASHINGTON (AP) -- Margaret Thatcher and Ronald Reagan, two self-assured and firm-speaking conservatives, joined forces in the early 1980s and drastically changed the economic and political landscapes in both of their countries.

Their calls for more-austere government and lower taxes still resonate with conservatives on both sides of the Atlantic. And their side-by-side standing up to Soviet communism is credited by those of all political stripes as hastening the end of the Cold War.

Thatcher died Monday in London of a stroke at 87.

The British prime minister and the American president had the kind of personal bond that is extremely rare at such high levels of power.

She was the first and last White House State Dinner guest during Reagan's eight-year presidency. And when he died in 2004, at 93 after suffering for years with Alzheimer's disease, a frail Thatcher attended his state funeral.

"They had similar backgrounds and in some ways could understand what the other was experiencing," said Heather Conley, director of Europe programs for the Center for Strategic and International Studies in Washington.

"And they had unique solidarity. They were tough, they were single-minded in many ways. Some have argued that that lack of complexity was their shortcoming. But in some ways, their focus was their strength," Conley said.

Reagan and Thatcher forged a special friendship "from the very beginning, the first time they met," former first lady Nancy Reagan said Monday.

"I loved it that she and Ronnie were as close as they were," she told Fox News.

Thatcher led Britain's Conservative Party to three election victories, governing from 1979 to 1990. Reagan was president from 1981 to 1989.

Both cut income taxes deeply and reined in national government spending. Both favored privatizing many government functions. Both stood up to organized labor. Both tackled inflation. Both were strong advocates of free markets and increased open international trade.

And both had a lasting ? and controversial ? impact on their own and opposing political parties in their respective nations.

Reagan's supply-side theories that lower taxes can stimulate growth ? like a rising tide that lifts all ships ? was derided as "Reaganomics" by critics and even once called "voodoo economics" by the Republican who went on to serve as his vice president and later as president himself, George H. W. Bush.

Even today, it is hard for American Republicans to support any increase in taxes ? a Reagan legacy that still makes it difficult for Democrats and Republicans to find common ground on tax legislation.

In Britain, Thatcher's policies were dubbed "Economic Thatcherism."

"Using deregulation and privatization, she restored Great Britain, once dismissed as the 'sick man of Europe,' to its position as a world power. Indeed, her policies led the way and inspired other nations ? including those in newly free Eastern Europe ? to adopt similar reforms to boost their economies," Ed Feulner, former president of the conservative Heritage Foundation, wrote Monday in a tribute.

"An intrepid warrior for freedom and human dignity, Prime Minister Thatcher stood with her 'noble friend,' President Ronald Reagan, to confront the Soviet empire when it was at its peak," Feulner added.

Thatcher's efforts in advancing conservative causes and programs in Britain may have strengthened Reagan's hand in selling his conservative agenda at home, and vice versa.

Conservatives at the time viewed the political victories of the two allies as part of a worldwide trend moving in their direction ? a trend that has since run into a lot of bumps in the road.

Today's widely held warm and fuzzy image of the Reagan-Thatcher alliance of three decades ago may have been fortified and blurred somewhat by the passage of time.

"They were actually very similar, but very different from what many people today think they did," said Bruce Bartlett, an economic adviser to Reagan and Bush.

While Thatcher and Reagan were both economic conservatives at heart, "they were also much more pragmatic about what could be done" than many of today's conservatives, Bartlett said. "And they both accepted the legitimacy of the welfare state. They just tried to make it work better and reduce its cost."

While both are known for slashing taxes and cutting spending, Reagan also supported many later tax increases and backed raising the government's borrowing authority many times. Thatcher raised her nation's value-added tax.

The two had vastly different governing styles. Reagan projected radiant optimism and cheerful agreeability. Thatcher, who came to be known as the "Iron Lady," exhibited relentless determination.

And they sometimes disagreed. For instance, Thatcher didn't get the level of support she wanted from Reagan during the Falklands War crisis. And Thatcher was miffed and annoyed by Reagan's 1983 invasion of the tiny Caribbean island nation of Grenada.

Still, "she was a great partner with the United States," said former top State Department official Nicholas Burns, including being the one who persuaded Reagan that Soviet leader Mikhail Gorbachev was "someone we can do business with."

Apparently her warmth with Reagan didn't fully convey to Bush, Reagan's successor.

While she fully supported Bush on confronting Saddam Hussein after Iraq's August 1990 invasion of Kuwait, she was a little concerned about his resolve. "So this was the reason I said, 'Look, George, this is no time to go wobbly," she later recalled.

The elder Bush issued a statement Monday declaring: "America has lost one of the staunchest allies we have ever known."


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Honeywell Wi-Fi Smart Thermostat learns habits, matches your neon decor (video)

Honeywell WiFi Smart Thermostat

Honeywell has had WiFi-capable thermostats on the market for some time, but few of them would be a great match for home interiors that have escaped 1980s beige chic. The company's new Wi-Fi Smart Thermostat is going a long way toward bringing that design fully into the present century. Owners can color match the touchscreen interface with the paint on their walls, down to very exact shades. Of course, the thermostat wouldn't be much of a competitor in the Nest era if it didn't have some of that namesake intelligence underneath. As with its main rival, the Honeywell system has (already existing) Android and iOS apps, and can tell how long it takes to change the temperature; it's also aware of when filters need a change based on furnace behavior. If you're on the cusp of a home renovation and don't want anything so gauche as a differently-colored screen, home improvement shops should have the Wi-Fi Smart Thermostat this May for $249.

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Source: Honeywell


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Wednesday, April 10, 2013

Dick Clark Productions Parent Company Names New President

By Brent Lang

LOS ANGELES ( - DC Media, the parent company of Dick Clark Productions, has tapped former TV Guide Network president Michael Mahan to be its new president.

He will oversee the company's business affairs, distribution and acquisitions. Mahan will be based in Los Angeles and will report to Allen Shapiro, CEO of DCP.

The new job represents a homecoming for Mahan, who served as DCP's senior vice president of corporate development before the company was sold in 2007 to Red Zone Capital, the private equity firm run by Washington Redskins owner Daniel Snyder.

"It's such a pleasure to welcome Michael back into the DCP family," Shapiro said in a statement. "His track record of creating value will be invaluable as we take Dick Clark Productions to the next level. We're all looking forward to launching this new chapter with him."

Red Zone sold its interest in DCP to a consortium of investors led by Guggenheim Partners last winter. DCP is best known for overseeing the annual Golden Globe Awards telecast. It also produces the American Music Awards and "So You Think You Can Dance."


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Rare hermit crab specimens caught live for the first time in Caribbean

Barry Brown

These three hermit crabs, affectionately called "The Three Amigos" (in reference to the movie starring Steve Martin, Chevy Chase and Martin Short), use tusk shells for housing.

By Douglas Main

A recent submarine dive turned up a species of hermit crab that was previously only known through dead, dried specimens procured more than a century ago.

The sub collected a few of the animals, known as Pylopagurus discoidalis, from the Caribbean and brought them back to an aquarium, where they were photographed. These are the first pictures of the live animals ever taken, said Rafael Lemaitre, a research zoologist at the Smithsonian Institute's National Museum of Natural History.

Like other hermit crabs, these make their living in shells produced by other animals, mainly mollusks, Lemaitre told OurAmazingPlanet in an email. They must choose carefully, however, to find a shell that fits their tube-shaped body. The most striking feature of the animal is its chelae, a shield-shaped appendage that allows it to firmly seal its shell when alarmed, Lemaitre said. The other end of the shell can also be sealed by the hermit crab with the tail-like end of its body.

The animals were collected at a depth of 50 to 100 meters (164 to 328 feet) by a craft called the Curasub, just off the coast of the Caribbean island of Cura?ao. It was found as part of the Smithsonian's Deep Reef Observation Project, which provides "an extraordinary and unique opportunity for taxonomists like me to make direct, live observations of many species that have previously been known exclusively from preserved and colorless specimens in museum collections," Lemaitre said.

Not much has been revealed regarding how these little hermit crabs live their daily lives. "We know very little about the biology of this species except that it exists, and its general geographic and depth distribution," Lemaitre said. "Unfortunately, that is the case for the majority of invertebrate species."

After some of the collected crabs died, their DNA was taken and is currently being analyzed to understand its evolutionary history, Lemaitre added.

Barry Brown

A hermit crab (Pylopagurus discoidalis) "rides" a sea cucumber.

Email Douglas Main?or follow him @Douglas_Main. Follow us?@OAPlanet, Facebook?or Google+. Original article on LiveScience's OurAmazingPlanet.

Copyright 2013 LiveScience, a TechMediaNetwork company. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.


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Natural soil bacteria pump new life into exhausted oil wells

Apr. 8, 2013 ? Technology that enlists natural soil bacteria as 21st century roughnecks now is commercially available and poised to recover precious oil remaining in thousands of exhausted oil wells, according to a scientist who spoke in New Orleans on April 8. His report on a process termed microbially enhanced oil recovery (MEOR) was part of the 245th National Meeting & Exposition of the American Chemical Society.

"The idea of using microbes to bring spent oil wells back to life dates to the early 1900s," said Brian Clement, Ph.D. "That was the era of 'easy-to-recover' oil, and when a well played out, you just moved on and drilled another -- knowing that 60-70 percent of the oil in that first reservoir remained untouched. We're in a different era now. Oil is scarcer, and it makes sense to use MEOR. It can put about 10 percent of the oil in exhausted wells into barrels with low capital investment, low operating costs and little environmental impact."

Clement is a senior scientist at Glori Energy, which is deploying its MEOR technology known as AERO?, for Activated Environment for Recovery of Oil. Other companies that have moved the technology to market include DuPont, which offers its MATRx? MEOR technology and Titan Oil Recovery, Inc., which offers its Titan Process?. Clement's talk was part of the symposium titled "The Interconnected World of Energy, Food and Water."

Conventional oil production techniques rely on pressure that exists naturally in an underground reservoir to push oil to the surface, much like the pressure in a bottle of carbonated beverage. Clement explained that the pressure in a reservoir declines over time, and eventually it is too low to force oil to the surface. At that point, as much as 60 to 70 percent of the reservoir's oil often remains in the ground.

MEOR can retrieve that oil by fostering various changes in the reservoir. Clement explained that the AERO? System, for instance, piggybacks on waterflooding, a widely used process in which water is injected into the reservoir to force oil out of the well and to the surface. The system adds a customized formula of nutrients to the injection water to optimize its quality and stimulate the growth of native reservoir bacteria.

With the AERO? System, microbes thrive and grow to increase oil production using two main mechanisms. First, they break down and metabolize oil at the oil-water interface, allowing the oil to flow more freely. Second, the microbes block existing water channels within the reservoir's soil, forcing the water into new channels and driving more oil to the surface.

With the AERO? System's MEOR technology, oil field owners and operators can increase production from declining wells without having to invest in expensive, new infrastructure. Clement described tests in which the technology helped produce an additional 9-12 percent of the total oil remaining in reservoirs. The number may sound small, but translates into an additional $10 billion of oil from wells in the United States and more than $165 billion worldwide.

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