Silent Skype calls can hide secret messages









































Got a secret message to send? Say it with silence. A new technique can embed secret data during a phone call on Skype. "There are concerns that Skype calls can be intercepted and analysed," says Wojciech Mazurczyk at the Institute of Telecommunications in Warsaw, Poland. So his team's SkypeHide system lets users hide extra, non-chat messages during a call.












Mazurczyk and his colleagues Maciej Karaƛ and Krysztof Szczypiorski analysed Skype data traffic during calls and discovered an opportunity in the way Skype "transmits" silence. Rather than send no data between spoken words, Skype sends 70-bit-long data packets instead of the 130-bit ones that carry speech.












The team hijacks these silence packets, injecting encrypted message data into some of them. The Skype receiver simply ignores the secret-message data, but it can nevertheless be decoded at the other end, the team has found. "The secret data is indistinguishable from silence-period traffic, so detection of SkypeHide is very difficult," says Mazurczyk. They found they could transmit secret text, audio or video during Skype calls at a rate of almost 1 kilobit per second alongside phone calls.












The team aims to present SkypeHide at a steganography conference in Montpellier, France, in June.


















































If you would like to reuse any content from New Scientist, either in print or online, please contact the syndication department first for permission. New Scientist does not own rights to photos, but there are a variety of licensing options available for use of articles and graphics we own the copyright to.




































All comments should respect the New Scientist House Rules. If you think a particular comment breaks these rules then please use the "Report" link in that comment to report it to us.


If you are having a technical problem posting a comment, please contact technical support.








Read More..

Football: Messi targets record fourth Ballon d'Or






ZURICH: Record-breaking Lionel Messi is poised to become the first player to win four successive Ballon d'Or awards on Monday, sealing his status as the greatest player of his generation.

The 25-year-old is the overwhelming favourite to see off the challenge of Barcelona teammate Andres Iniesta and great Real Madrid rival Cristiano Ronaldo for the prize.

It will crown another landmark year for the Argentine who is the top scorer in La Liga this season with 25 goals having also broken Gerd Mueller's 40-year record for the most goals in a calendar year.

He finished 2012 with an astonishing 91 goals in all competitions.

But Messi has insisted that his scoring records will mean nothing if Barcelona do not go on to take La Liga title off Real or fail to win the Champions League.

"It's nice to beat records but the win for the team is what is important. My goals are to win titles with the team, the Spanish league, Spanish Cup or Champions League is more important than any personal records."

He remains just as modest when it comes to Monday's awards in Zurich.

"If Iniesta wins, it will be well-deserved for all that he has done, for the way he plays. Again, it will also be a prize for the dressing room."

Messi and former French star, UEFA president Michel Platini, are the only players to win three straight Ballon d'Or awards while Dutch stars Johan Cruyff and Marco Van Basten have also won three accolades.

Barca coach Tito Vilanova has no doubt that Messi will be a deserving winner.

"Leo's great quality is that he plays as if he still a child," said Vilanova.

"He was always good as a youngster and you didn't need to be a coach to say that. It was a joy to see him play as a 15-year-old and that continues now."

Portugal captain Ronaldo admits he would love to win but it would not be the end of the world if the prize went elsewhere.

"If I win, perfect. If I don't, never mind, life goes on. But obviously I'd love to win. I'm not going to lie or be hypocritical," said the 27-year-old Real Madrid forward.

"Fair or unfair, the decision will be what it will be... I'll maybe be very happy or maybe very sad. But that's life. I can't live according to an individual prize," the 2008 Ballon d'Or winner added.

Other awards on Monday will see Vicente Del Bosque -- who led Spain to Euro 2012 glory and made them the first side to win three back-to-back tournaments -- in line for the best coach award.

He will be up against Real Madrid's Jose Mourinho and former Barcelona coach Pep Guardiola.

For women's player of the year, five-time Brazilian champion Marta goes up against US pair Aby Wambach and Alex Morgan.

- AFP/fa



Read More..

Englewood shooting victim dies













Fatal shooting on Loomis Avenue


Chicago police gather at the scene of a fatal shooting near 55th Street and Loomis Boulevard.
(Eric Clark for the Chicago Tribune / January 5, 2013)



























































A shooting Saturday afternoon in the Englewood neighborhood on the South Side left one man dead. He is at least the seventh shooting victim since 12 a.m. Saturday, police said.


At 3:10 p.m. someone shot the male victim multiple times in the abdomen in the 5500 block of South Loomis Boulevard, according to police News Affairs Officer Daniel O’Brien.

The victim, a man in his 20s, was taken to John H. Stroger Jr. Hospital of Cook County where he was pronounced dead at 3:52 p.m., according to the Cook County medical examiner's office.


A separate shooting a few hours earlier in the Back of the Yards neighborhood left another victim shot in the abdomen and seriously wounded.





Someone shot the male in the abdomen at 11:48 a.m. in the 4500 block of South Marshfield Avenue, according to Chicago Police Department News Affairs Officer Michael Sullivan.


He was taken to John H. Stroger, Jr. Hospital of Cook County in serious condition, Sullivan said.


The circumstances surrounding the shooting were not known immediately but Sullivan said no one was arrested.


Earlier Saturday, four people were shot in two separate incidents before the sun rose, and a fifth man was killed in a West Side shooting.


chicagobreaking@tribune.com


Twitter: @ChicagoBreaking






Read More..

Best Pictures: 2012 Nat Geo Photo Contest Winners









































































































');

























































































































 $'+ doc.ngstore_price_t +'';
html += ' $'+ doc.ngstore_saleprice_t +'';
} else {
html += ' $'+ doc.ngstore_price_t +'';
}
html += '
';

$("#ecom_43331 ul.ecommerce_all_img").append(html);




o.totItems++;

}// end for loop
} // end if data.response.numFound != 0

if(o.totItems != o.maxItems){
if(o.defaultItems.length > 0){
o.getItemByID(o.defaultItems.shift());
} else if(o.isSearchPage && !o.searchComplete){
o.doSearchPage();
} else if(!o.searchComplete) {
o.byID = false;
o.doSearch();
}
}// end if
}// end parseResults function

o.trim = function(str) {
return str.replace(/^\s\s*/, '').replace(/\s\s*$/, '');
}

o.doSearchPage = function(){
o.byID = false;

var tempSearch = window.location.search;
var searchTerms ="default";
var temp;

if( tempSearch.substr(0,7) == "?search"){
temp = tempSearch.substr(7).split("&");
searchTerms = temp[0];
} else {
temp = tempSearch.split("&");
for(var j=0;j 0){
o.getItemByID(o.defaultItems.shift());
} else if(o.isSearchPage){
o.doSearchPage();
} else {
o.doSearch();
}

}// end init function

}// end ecommerce object

var store_43331 = new ecommerce_43331();





store_43331.init();









































































































































































Read More..

City Answers Gang-Rape Cover-Up Allegations












As Steubenville, Ohio, prepares for the high-profile rape trial of two high school football players, officials, battling allegations of a cover-up, announced the creation of a new website today to debunk rumors and create what they said would be a transparent resource for the community.


"This site is not designed to be a forum for how the Juvenile Court ought to rule in this matter," the website, called Steubenville Facts, said.


A timeline of the case, beginning with the alleged gang rape of a 16-year-old girl at a party on Aug. 11-12, 2012, is posted on the site. Summaries of Ohio law relating to the case and facts about the local police force including statistics on how many graduated from Steubenville schools, is included.


The case gained national attention last week when hacking collective Anonymous leaked a video of Steubenville high school athletes mocking the 16-year-old female victim and making crude references to the alleged rape.






Steubenville Herald-Star, Michael D. McElwain/AP Photo







"It's disgusting, and I've had people calling, numerous people call here, upset, they have seen it, one woman, two women were crying, because of what they witnessed," Jefferson County Sheriff Fred Abdalla said. "It really is disgusting to watch that video."


Anonymous has called for more arrests, however Steubenville Police have said their hands are tied.


"Steubenville Police investigators are caring humans who recoil and are repulsed by many of the things they observe during an investigation," the website said, addressing the video. "Like detectives in every part of America and the world, they are often frustrated when they emotionally want to hold people accountable for certain detestable behavior but realize that there is no statute that allows a criminal charge to be made."


Occupy Steubenville, a grassroots group, estimated 1,300 people attended a rally today outside the Jefferson County Courthouse, where rape victims and their loved ones gathered to share their stories.


The father of a teenage rape victim was met with applause when he shared his outrage.


"I've tried to show my girl that not all men are like this, but only a despicable few," he said. "And their mothers that ignore the truth that they gave birth to a monster."


Authorities investigated the case and charged two Steubenville high school athletes on Aug. 22, 2012.


The teenagers face trial on Feb. 13, 2013 in juvenile court before a visiting judge.


Attorneys for the boys have denied charges in court.



Read More..

Graphic in-car crash warnings to slow speeding drivers



Paul Marks, chief technology correspondent


142093734.jpg

(Image: Cityscape/a.collection/Getty)


"You would die if you crashed right now." Would such a warning make you take your foot off the accelerator? That's the idea behind a scheme to warn drivers of the consequences of speeding developed by engineers at Japan's Fukuoka Institute of Technology and heavy goods vehicle maker UD Trucks, also in Japan. They are developing what they call a "safe driving promotion system" that warns drivers what kind of crash could ensue if they don't slow down.






Their patent-pending system uses the battery of radar, ultrasound sonar and laser sensors found in modern cars and trucks to work out the current kinetic energy of a vehicle. It also checks out the distance to the vehicle in front and keeps watch on its brake lights, too. An onboard app that has learned the driver's reaction time over all their previous trips then computes the likelihood of collision - and if the driver's speed is risky, it displays the scale of damage that could result.


The warning that flashes up could vary from something like a potential whiplash injury due to a rear-end shunt to a fatal, car-crushing collision with fire. The inventors hope this kind of in-car advice will promote safety more forcefully than current warning systems, which merely display the distance to the vehicle in front. "A sense of danger will be awakened in the driver that makes them voluntarily refrain from dangerous driving," they predict.




Read More..

Football: Perth Glory in talks with Owen






SYDNEY: Perth Glory are in talks with the management of Michael Owen about bringing the former England player to Australia's A-League, reports said Saturday.

Owen, 33, who scored 40 goals in 89 internationals for England and had stints at Liverpool, Real Madrid and Manchester United, is currently playing for Stoke City in the English Premier League.

Glory have one spare position in their squad for an international player after releasing Irish striker Billy Mehmet this week and do not have a marquee player.

The West Australian newspaper said if Owen was recruited as the club's marquee player, his wages would not be included in the competition's salary cap.

A Glory spokesman confirmed the club was interested in securing Owen's services, but said negotiations were in their infancy.

"Michael Owen's agent has enquired about Michael playing in the A-League," the spokesman told the newspaper.

"Perth Glory are interested but are yet to find out Michael's terms and conditions.

"Until these are known, Perth Glory will not enter any further negotiations."

If Owen joins Glory he will become the fourth high-profile international player in this season's A-League, along with Italy's Alessandro Del Piero, Japan's Shinji Ono and England striker Emile Heskey.

- AFP/fa



Read More..

NIU students charged in hazing death arraigned









Three Northern Illinois University students accused in the death of a freshman fraternity pledge made brief court appearances Friday as a lawyer for one of them predicted it would be difficult to prove the charges against his client.


DeKalb County Judge Robbin Stuckert advised the students that they could face up to three years in prison or probation if found guilty of hazing in the death of David Bogenberger.


Bogenberger, a 19-year-old finance major from Palatine, was found dead Nov. 2 in the Pi Kappa Alpha fraternity house at NIU, the morning after a pledge initiation party that featured heavy drinking and was conducted without university approval, authorities said.





In court Friday were Steven Libert, 20, who planned the party; Omar Salameh, 21, the pledge adviser; and James Harvey, 21, the fraternity chapter's vice president. They are among five fraternity leaders charged with felony hazing in Bogenberger's death.


The two other defendants facing a felony charge are Alexander Jandick, 21, chapter president, and its secretary, Patrick Merrill, 20.


Seventeen other NIU students have been charged with misdemeanor counts of hazing.


The three students who were in court declined to comment. Attorney Josh Dieden, who represents Libert, expressed condolences to Bogenberger's family.


"This was a tragedy, and it's been difficult for Steve because David was a friend of his," Dieden said, adding that he didn't believe his client had committed a crime.


"I don't believe the state will be able to show that this tragic occurrence was the result of criminal conduct," he said.


Authorities said Bogenberger's autopsy showed a blood alcohol level almost five times the state's legal driving limit and that the alcohol contributed to a fatal heart arrhythmia.


After Bogenberger's death, NIU suspended the fraternity chapter and later said it would conduct disciplinary hearings involving at least 31 students.


University spokesman Paul Palian said school officials have not concluded their investigation.


"They are reviewing the information in the police reports and reserve the right to bring additional disciplinary action," he said Friday.


Classes at NIU will resume Monday.


Tribune reporter Matthew Walberg contributed.





Read More..

Best Pictures: 2012 Nat Geo Photo Contest Winners









































































































');

























































































































 $'+ doc.ngstore_price_t +'';
html += ' $'+ doc.ngstore_saleprice_t +'';
} else {
html += ' $'+ doc.ngstore_price_t +'';
}
html += '
';

$("#ecom_43331 ul.ecommerce_all_img").append(html);




o.totItems++;

}// end for loop
} // end if data.response.numFound != 0

if(o.totItems != o.maxItems){
if(o.defaultItems.length > 0){
o.getItemByID(o.defaultItems.shift());
} else if(o.isSearchPage && !o.searchComplete){
o.doSearchPage();
} else if(!o.searchComplete) {
o.byID = false;
o.doSearch();
}
}// end if
}// end parseResults function

o.trim = function(str) {
return str.replace(/^\s\s*/, '').replace(/\s\s*$/, '');
}

o.doSearchPage = function(){
o.byID = false;

var tempSearch = window.location.search;
var searchTerms ="default";
var temp;

if( tempSearch.substr(0,7) == "?search"){
temp = tempSearch.substr(7).split("&");
searchTerms = temp[0];
} else {
temp = tempSearch.split("&");
for(var j=0;j 0){
o.getItemByID(o.defaultItems.shift());
} else if(o.isSearchPage){
o.doSearchPage();
} else {
o.doSearch();
}

}// end init function

}// end ecommerce object

var store_43331 = new ecommerce_43331();





store_43331.init();









































































































































































Read More..

Obama Poised to Name New Defense, Treasury Chiefs













With the "fiscal cliff" crisis behind him, President Obama is poised to name two new key players to his cabinet, with both announcements expected to come next week.


Obama will name the replacement for outgoing Defense Secretary Leon Panetta as soon as Monday, sources told ABC News. Former Republican Sen. Chuck Hagel is the likely nominee, they said.


Meanwhile, the president is also eyeing a replacement for outgoing Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner, the longest-serving member of Obama's first-term economic team and one-time lead negotiator for the administration in the "fiscal cliff" talks.


Current chief of staff Jack Lew is all but certain to get the nod for Treasury, according to people familiar with Obama's thinking.


A White House spokesman cautioned that the president has not yet made a final decision on either post, calling reports about Hagel and Lew "merely guessing."


Still, when Obama returns from his Hawaiian vacation on Sunday, he's expected to waste little time filling out his team for a second term.


Geithner has said he would remain at his post "until around the inauguration" Jan. 20, a Treasury spokesperson said Thursday, putting the department potentially in transition just as the administration confronts the next financial "cliffs" over automatic spending cuts and the nation's debt limit.






Brendan Hoffman/Getty Images











3 Dead After Plane Crashes Into Florida Home Watch Video









Pilot Arrested After Failing Breathalyzer Test Watch Video









Colorado Police Officers on Leave After Killing Elk Watch Video





During an appearance on ABC's "This Week" in April, Geithner said the next Treasury secretary would need to be someone who is "willing to tell [Obama] the truth and, you know, help him do the tough things you need to do."


Lew, a former two-time Office of Management and Budget director and trusted Obama confidant who has held the chief of staff role since early 2012, is the front-runner for the job.


Meanwhile, Sen. John Kerry -- Obama's nominee to replace outgoing Secretary of State Hillary Clinton -- has begun making more regular appearances at the U.S. State Department before his expected confirmation later this month.


His Senate hearings are set to begin shortly after Obama's inauguration, sources say. The administration still expects Clinton to testify about the Sept. 11 Benghazi, Libya, attacks before Kerry is confirmed.


But it is the potential nomination of Republican Hagel that has caused the most stir.


Critics from across the political spectrum have taken aim at the former senator from Nebraska's record toward Israel and what some have called a lack of experience necessary to lead the sprawling Pentagon bureaucracy or its operations. The controversy has set the stage for what would be a contentious confirmation process.


"A lot of Republicans and Democrats are very concerned about Chuck Hagel's position on Iran sanctions, his views toward Israel, Hamas and Hezbollah, and that there is wide and deep concern about his policies," Sen. Lindsey Graham, R-S.C., told "Fox News Sunday."


He would not say whether Republicans felt so strongly as to expect a filibuster of the nomination.


"I can tell you there would be very little Republican support for his nomination," Graham said. "At the end of the day, they will be very few votes."


Still, Hagel, 66, a former businessman and decorated veteran who served in the Vietnam War, has won praise and admiration from current and former diplomats for his work on Obama's Intelligence Advisory Board and Panetta's Policy Advisory Board.





Read More..

Unique meteorite hints Mars stayed moist for longer








































A scorched rock bought in Morocco turned out to be a diamond in the rough. The unusual meteorite may be the first sample of the Red Planet's crust ever to hit Earth, and it suggests that Mars held on to its water for longer than we thought.












The meteorite, dubbed Northwest Africa (NWA) 7034, is strikingly different from the 111 previously discovered Martian meteorites. "You could look at meteorites for the rest of your life and not find another one like this," says Carl Agee of the University of New Mexico in Albuquerque, who was part of a team that has recently analysed NWA 7034. "This is in its own new group."













The most distinctive difference is its mineral content. Previously found meteorites had unearthly oxygen isotopes that marked them as being from another planet, and their volcanic origin made Mars the most likely culprit. But compared to these meteorites, surface rocks studied by Martian rovers and orbiters are much richer in light metals such as potassium and sodium. This suggests the known meteorites came from deeper inside the Red Planet.












"We're watching data coming back from Mars, and everything that comes back doesn't look like the Martian meteorites we have in our collections," says Munir Humayun of Florida State University in Tallahassee, who was not involved in the new study. "That's kind of a bummer."











By contrast, NWA 7034's chemistry closely resembles the rock and soil studied by NASA's Spirit rover. Preliminary measurements from the Curiosity rover, which landed in August 2012, suggest its landing site also has a similar composition.












Drying era













"Finally, it looks as if we have a sample that is very similar to the rocks that the rovers are seeing," Agee says. What's more, the Moroccan meteorite may come from a period in Mars' history when the planet was drying out.











Mars is thought to have once been much warmer, wetter and more hospitable to life. Then it morphed into the dry, cold desert we see today. The oldest known Mars meteorite, called the Allan Hills meteorite, is 4.5 billion years old. The other 110 meteorites are much younger – 1.5 billion years old at most – and formed after Mars is thought to have lost its water.













NWA 7034 is 2.1 billion years old, making it the first meteorite that may hail from the transitional era. Intriguingly, it has as much as 30 times more water than previous meteorites locked up in its minerals. "It opens our mind to the possibility that climate change on Mars was more gradual," Agee says. "Maybe it didn't lose its water early on."











Hot deal













The 319.8-gram rock found its way to Agee's lab via an amateur collector named Jay Piatek. He bought it for what turned out to be a knock-down price from a Moroccan meteorite dealer, who recognised its scorched exterior as a sign that it fell from space. "It didn't look like a Martian meteorite, so it didn't have the Martian meteorite value at the time," Agee says, adding that Mars rock can go for $500 to $1000 per gram.












Piatek brought the rock to Agee's lab to find out what it was. "Honestly, I had never seen anything like it. I was baffled, initially," Agee says. "Now, about a year and a half after the first time I set eyes on this thing, we are convinced that it is Martian, a new type, and has important implications for understanding the history of Mars."












Humayun says the results so far are exciting, and that the rock's carbon content could also yield valuable insights once other researchers get their hands on it.












"What's the most exciting thing you would want to do with a rock that comes from the near surface of Mars, especially one that seems to be loaded with water?" he asks. "I would say, what about life?" Agee and colleagues found organic matter in the meteorite, he says, but it will take more work to determine whether it was of Martian or terrestrial origin.












If it's Martian, "that would spark a lot of excitement", he says.












Journal reference: Science, DOI: 10.1126/science.1228858


















































If you would like to reuse any content from New Scientist, either in print or online, please contact the syndication department first for permission. New Scientist does not own rights to photos, but there are a variety of licensing options available for use of articles and graphics we own the copyright to.




































All comments should respect the New Scientist House Rules. If you think a particular comment breaks these rules then please use the "Report" link in that comment to report it to us.


If you are having a technical problem posting a comment, please contact technical support.








Read More..

Football: Lampard braced for season-end Chelsea exit, says agent






LONDON: Frank Lampard will definitely leave Chelsea at the end of the season, the England international's agent confirmed Thursday, but he will not be tempted to see out his career in China.

The 34-year-old Lampard is into the final months of his contract with the European champions and a new deal has yet to be agreed.

"At the moment, Frank is only thinking of the present. As far as the future is concerned, the only thing that is certain is that his team will change at the end of the season," agent Steve Kutner told www.Cittaceleste.it.

"Frank wants to play for a great team, fight for important goals and win other trophies.

"A player of his calibre should continue playing at the highest level. Serie A could be more than just a possibility," added Kutner, who insisted that a move to China or Russia was not on the agenda.

Los Angeles Galaxy, Chinese Super League side Guizhou Renhe and Premier League strugglers QPR have all been recently linked with a move for Lampard.

-AFP/ac



Read More..

Gay marriage, assault weapons ban votes delayed in Senate









SPRINGFIELD—





The Illinois Senate left the State Capitol later today without voting on measures to legalize gay marriage and outlaw assault weapons, leaving the fate of those controversial issues in doubt.

A committee advanced the same-sex marriage bill late this afternoon, but the sponsor acknowledged she did not have enough votes to win approval on the Senate floor.

Sen. Heather Steans, D-Chicago, dismissed a question on whether she ever had a solid 30 votes lined up to pass the legislation. "Oh, no, no, no," Steans said. "We really did have the votes. We were just missing members today."

Such are the political dynamics of a lame-duck session in Springfield: some lawmakers who are in their final days of service don't show up to work, making it difficult to pass tough legislation.

The Senate’s failure to take a final vote also came after a furious lobbying pushback by the Catholic Conference of Illinois and Cardinal Francis George.

The Senate Executive Committee advanced the measure on an 8-5 vote following a lengthy debate that featured testimony from both sides of the issue.

"It's not often that we really have a chance in this chamber to be taking a look at something providing a basic civil right and advancing fairness," said sponsoring Sen. Steans. "Same-sex couples want to marry for the same reasons we all do--for commitment, family, mutual responsibility.

Steans said gay couples have suffered from the 2nd-class status. Underscoring Steans' point was emotional testimony from Mercedes Santos and Theresa Volpe, a lesbian couple from Rogers Park who got a civil union in Illinois.

"Right now, we are in a civil union, but it is not enough," testified Theresa Volpe.

Springfield Catholic Bishop Thomas John Paprocki testified against the proposal, saying, "It would radically redefine what marriage is for everybody." He maintained the "natural family" is undermined by the legislation.

"Neither two men nor two women can possibly form a marriage," Paprocki said. "Our law would be wrong if it said that they could.

"The basic structure of marriage as the exclusive and lasting relationship of a man and a woman, committed to a life with the potential of having children, is given to us in human nature, and thus by nature's God," Paprocki said.

At the same time, an effort to ban semi-automatic assault weapons and large-capacity ammunition magazines --- backed by Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel --- also lacked the votes needed for passage. Opponents argued the measure was too broad and unworkable.

With no action on those two controversial issues, senators were preparing to return home. A final day of the Senate’s lame-duck session remains an option for Tuesday, the day before the next General Assembly is inaugurated. But that could depend on whether the House takes any action. House members are scheduled to be in Springfield from Sunday through Tuesday.

rlong@tribune.com

rap30@aol.com

Twitter @RayLong



Read More..

Pictures We Love: Best of 2012

Photograph by Mindy Schauer, Orange County Register/AP

Powder-splattered, and powder-splattering, runners cross the finish line of The Color Run 5K in Irvine, California, on April 22. Each kilometer (0.6 mile) of the event features a color-pelting station dedicated to a single hue, culminating in the Pollock-esque riot at kilometer 5.

The "magical color dust" is completely safe, organizers say, though they admit it's "surprisingly high in calories and leaves a chalky aftertaste."

See more from April 2012 >>

Why We Love It

"Vibrant color floating through the air automatically brings to mind festive Holi celebrations in India. We expect to see revelers in Mumbai but instead find a surprise in the lower third of the frame—runners in California!"—Sarah Polger, senior photo editor

"There are a lot of eye-catching photographs of the festival of Holi in India that show colored powder in midair, but this particular situation has the people all lined up in a row—making it easy to see each of their very cinematic facial expressions."—Chris Combs, news photo editor

Published January 3, 2013

Read More..

James Holmes Defense: Was He Insane?


Jan 3, 2013 5:30pm







James Holmes court appearance mr 120723 wblog James Holmes Defense Witnesses in Colorado Shooting to Testify on Mental State

James Holmes appears in court, Centennial, Colo., July 23, 2012. RJ Sangosti/AP Images.



ABC’s Clayton Sandell and Carol McKinley report:


A judge ruled Thursday that public defenders for accused Colorado theater shooting suspect James Holmes can call two unidentified witnesses at next week’s preliminary hearing to testify about the defendant’s “mental state.”


Arapahoe County, Colo. prosecutors had sought to keep the witnesses out of court, but Judge William Sylvester ruled that the now-25-year-old accused killer has a right to call the witnesses at a preliminary hearing.


The Jan. 7 preliminary hearing will essentially be a mini-trial in which prosecutors will present witness testimony and evidence to convince the judge that there is enough of a case against Holmes to proceed to a trial.


Witnesses to be called for the prosecution include the Aurora police lead detective, first responders, the Arapahoe County coroner and likely a computer forensic specialist, according to prosecution sources who declined to be identified, citing a gag order in the case.


A top priority, the prosecution sources say, will be showing that Holmes acted with premeditation when he allegedly murdered 12 people and wounded 58 on the night of July 20 during a midnight showing of “The Dark Knight Rises.”


Defense attorneys may pursue a legal strategy to show that Holmes was not in his right mind at the time of the shooting.


Holmes, who has not yet entered a plea, has been repeatedly described in court by his legal team as mentally ill. While a graduate student at the University of Colorado, he was in the care of a psychiatrist.


Prosecutors say they will also present photos, video and 911 calls during the hearing, which is expected to last all week.


It’s not clear what the two witnesses’ relationship is to the shooting, or to Holmes.


Prosecutors, Judge Sylvester’s order says, contend that “neither witness has personal knowledge of the events at the Century Aurora 16 Theater.”


Sylvester said the witnesses are non-expert “lay witnesses” who have so far chosen not to be interviewed by defense investigators but have been cooperating with law enforcement.



SHOWS: World News






Read More..

Humble coin toss thrust to heart of multiverse debate


* Required fields






















Password must contain only letters and numbers, and be at least 8 characters






Read More..

Al-Jazeera acquires Gore-founded TV group: report






SAN FRANCISCO: Al-Jazeera has acquired Current TV, a struggling cable channel that will give the Qatar-based broadcaster the access to millions of US homes it has long sought, it was confirmed Wednesday.

Terms of the deal for Current, which was founded by US former vice president Al Gore, were not immediately disclosed, but Forbes reported that a possible value of $400 million could net the former politician a tidy $100 million.

The acquisition should also give Al-Jazeera vastly broader visibility in US homes because although Current has been struggling of late it nonetheless is available in 60 million American households, according to its own figures.

"We are proud and pleased that Al-Jazeera, the award-winning international news organization, has bought Current TV," said Gore, the San Francisco-based channel's chairman, and Joel Hyatt, co-founder and CEO, in a statement.

Gore also said Current had proudly offered "thought-provoking commentary" and Emmy and Peabody award-winning programming "to give voice to those who are not typically heard" and "to speak truth to power."

The New York Times reported that Al-Jazeera was expected to create a new channel, "Al-Jazeera America," instead of using its existing English-language vehicle Al-Jazeera English, to capitalize on Current's audience reach.

Hyatt told staff in an email that "Al-Jazeera is planning to invest significantly in building 'Al-Jazeera America,' a network focused on international news for the American audience," the Times report said.

"Al (Gore) and I will both serve on the advisory board of Al-Jazeera America, and we look forward to helping build an important news network," he added, according to the report.

The plan could put the broadcaster financed by the Qatari government into closer competition with CNN and other US news channels, as Al-Jazeera is offered only by a handful of American cable and satellite distributors.

Current Media, founded in 2005, operates Current TV, and reaches households in Britain and the United States. It also operates a youth-focused website Current.com, where users can submit their own content.

The channel has won two Emmy Awards and other honors. It reaches 71 million households worldwide.

But The Times said a sale was considered because of low ratings, with an average of just 42,000 people watching the channel last year.

-AFP/ac



Read More..

Chicago man charged in estranged wife's slaying in Munster









A Chicago man with a history of domestic violence arrests has been charged with the murder of his estranged wife in Munster, Ind., early New Year’s Day, authorities said.

Margarito Valdivia, 44, of the 10800 block of South Troy Street, is being held without bail in the slaying of his estranged wife, Erica Valdivia, 33, early on Tuesday, Munster Police said in a news release this afternoon. The attack at a home in the 800 block of Boxwood Drive in Munster also injured Erica Valdivia’s boyfriend, police said.

Erica Valdivia, whom the Lake County coroner’s office said suffered blunt force trauma to the head in an apparent homicide, had been separated from her husband for about four months, according to police.

Margarito Valdivia is believed to have driven to the Boxwood Drive home early Tuesday, gone in and confronted his wife and her boyfriend, police said. He hit the boyfriend in the head “numerous times” as he drove the boyfriend from the home, police said in the release.

Once the boyfriend was outside, Margarito Valdivia went back into the home and began beating his wife, police said.

Police were called to the Boxwood Drive home about 5:45 a.m. Tuesday and found the boyfriend outside with a severe cut to the head. Officers tried to go into the house, but were at first unable to, as Margarito Valdivia had barricaded himself inside. After a SWAT team was called, police sent a remote-controlled robot into the home, and he surrendered.

Police entered the home and found Erica Valdivia lying in a bathroom, with “major trauma” to the head, including her face, police said. She was taken to Community Hospital in Munster, where she was declared dead at 10:04 a.m. Tuesday, according to the coroner’s office.

The Lake County, Ind., prosecutor’s office charged Margarito Valdivia with murder and felony battery today, police said. Court information was not immediately available, but he was being held without bail in Lake County Jail.

Court records show that Margarito Valdivia has Cook County arrests dating back to 1990, when he was arrested on a domestic violence charge and an order of protection was lodged against him. The charges were later dropped. In 1994, he was charged with domestic battery and resisting arrest and was sentenced to a year’s probation after being found guilty of the resisting arrest charge, according to court records.

In 1997, Margarito Valdivia was charged with criminal damage and having a firearm without a gun owner’s permit, and given two years court supervision following a guilty plea. A 2000 domestic battery charge was dropped, but in August 2012 he was found guilty of battery after an attack July 23 in the 9800 block of South Commercial Avenue and sentenced to a year’s conditional discharge, records show.

At the time of the battery arrest, he was still living at the same home in the 10600 block of South Avenue N that the coroner’s office listed as Erica Valdivia’s home address.

lford@tribune.com

Twitter: @ltaford



Read More..

Pictures: Errant Shell Oil Rig Runs Aground Off Alaska, Prompts Massive Response

Photograph courtesy Jonathan Klingenberg, U.S. Coast Guard

Waves lash at the sides of the Shell* drilling rig Kulluk, which ran aground off the rocky southern coast of Alaska on New Year's Eve in a violent storm.

The rig, seen above Tuesday afternoon, was "stable," with no signs of spilled oil products, authorities said. But continued high winds and savage seas hampered efforts to secure the vessel and the 150,000 gallons (568,000 liters) of diesel fuel and lubricants on board. The Kulluk came to rest just east of Sitkalidak Island (map), an uninhabited but ecologically and culturally rich site north of Ocean Bay, after a four-day odyssey, during which it broke free of its tow ships and its 18-member crew had to be rescued by helicopter.

The U.S. Coast Guard, state, local, and industry officials have joined in an effort involving nearly 600 people to gain control of the rig, one of two that Shell used for its landmark Arctic oil-drilling effort last summer. "This must be considered once of the largest marine-response efforts conducted in Alaska in many years," said Steve Russell, of Alaska's Department of Environmental Conservation.

The 266-foot (81-meter) rig now is beached off one of the larger islands in the Kodiak archipelago, a land of forest, glaciers, and streams about 300 miles (482 kilometers) south of Anchorage. The American Land Conservancy says that Sitkalidak Island's highly irregular coastline traps abundant food sources upwelling from the central Gulf of Alaska, attracting large numbers of seabirds and marine mammals. The largest flock of common murres ever recorded by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service was in Sitkalidak Strait, which separates the island from Kodiak. Sitkalidak also has 16 wild salmon rivers and archaeological sites tied to the Alutiiq native peoples dating back more than 7,000 years.

Shell incident commander Susan Childs said Monday night that the company's wildlife management team had started to assess the potential impact of a spill, and would be dispatched to the site when the weather permitted. She said the Kulluk's fuel tanks were in the center of the vessel, encased in heavy steel. "The Kulluk is a pretty sturdy vessel," she said. " It just remains to be seen how long it's on the shoreline and how long the weather is severe."

Marianne Lavelle

*Shell is sponsor of National Geographic's Great Energy Challenge initiative. National Geographic maintains editorial autonomy.

Published January 2, 2013

Read More..

Tax Deal Done - but How Can Obama Sign It?


Jan 2, 2013 6:29pm







ap obama ac 130102 wblog Vacationing Obamas Options to Sign Fiscal Cliff Deal Include Air Force Jet, Autopen

AP Photo/Charles Dharapak


Congress officially delivered the bill to avert the fiscal cliff to the White House this afternoon, House Speaker John Boehner’s office told ABC News.


Now the question is when will the President sign it?


The bill, passed late on New Year’s Day, expires tomorrow at 11:59 a.m. when the current session of Congress concludes. If President Obama doesn’t sign it by then, constitutionally the bill is dead.


But this evening, eighteen hours before the deadline, the President is on a golf course in Hawaii.  And the bill is in Washington at the White House.


Administration officials won’t say what they will do despite repeated inquiries from ABC News.


There seem to be two options:  1) An Air Force jet can deliver the bill to Hawaii (better leave quickly!) in time for the President to sign it before 11:59 Eastern Standard Time; or, 2) The White House can use a presidential “auto-pen.”


The simple mechanical device uses a template of the presidential signature to scrawl it on paper if activated by the White House at Obama’s direction.


But would an auto-pen – usually used to sign insignificant correspondence and photographs – pass constitutional muster?  We don’t know.  The question has never been tested by the courts.


A 2005 legal study commissioned by former President George W. Bush determined that use of the autopen is constitutional but acknowledged the possibility that its use could be challenged.  Bush never used the autopen, officials from his administration told ABC.


President Obama is only believed to have used the autopen once to sign a piece of major legislation — the 2011 extension of the Patriot Act — which reached his desk while he was on a diplomatic trip to Europe. Officials invoked national security concerns to justify the move.


Use of the autopen has been controversial.  Conservative groups alleged last summer that Obama used an autopen to sign condolence letters to the families of Navy SEALs killed in a Chinook crash in Afghanistan — a charge the White House disputed flatly as false.


In 2004, then-Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld was criticized for using an autopen to sign condolence letters to the families of fallen troops.


And in 1992 then-Vice President Dan Quayle even got into some hot water over his use of the autopen on official correspondence during an appearance on “This Week with David Brinkley.” More HERE.


ABC News’ Ann Compton and Devin Dwyer contributed reporting.



SHOWS: World News







Read More..

In-depth 2012: The best long reads of the year









































Read more: "2013 Smart Guide: 10 ideas that will shape the year"












Dig deeper, look closer and think harder – these are the goals of New Scientist's in-depth articles. Each one is perfect for saving in your favourite read-it-later app and curling up in front of a glowing tablet for a good long read.












These are our editors' picks of our best features of the year, and all are prime examples of the amazing breadth of big ideas that were ripe for the tackling in 2012. When you have finished digesting these readable meals, visit our in-depth articles archive if you're hungry for more.











Richard Webb: "You might not have heard of the algorithm that runs the world." I certainly hadn't, or that its mathematical foundations are starting to look a little wobbly. An eye-opening examination of how seemingly abstruse mathematics is in fact deeply embedded in modern life: "The algorithm that runs the world"












Sally Adee: Gastric bypass surgery is the best surgery you're not getting, said Dr Oz on his popular medical advice show in the US. Because of enthusiasm from people like him, this operation has become massively popular – but by whimsically hacking at our stomach, might we might be messing with a system far more complicated than anyone really understands? Samantha Murphy had the surgery and began to realise that losing 45 kilograms could come with some profound neurological trade-offs: "Change your stomach, change your brain"












Michael Le Page: Nowadays most people either haven't heard of the 1970 book The Limits to Growth, or believe – wrongly – that the research it was based on has been discredited. But the main message of Limits is perhaps more relevant than ever – that a delayed response to mounting environmental problems leads to catastrophe further down the line: "Boom and doom: Revisiting prophecies of collapse"












Richard Fisher: This is a simple story about a scientific mystery. Strange rumbles, whistles and blasts have been reported all over the world for centuries. In New York state, they are called "Seneca guns"; in the Italian Apennines they are described as brontidi, which means thunder-like; in Japan they are yan; and along the coast of Belgium they are called mistpouffers – or fog belches. Yet the cause is often unexplained – what on Earth could be behind them? "Mystery booms: The source of a worldwide sonic enigmaSpeaker"












Valerie Jamieson: It's been a sensational year for particle physics, but the Higgs boson isn't the only fascinating particle in town. Meet 11 more particles that change our understanding of the subatomic world: "11 particles for 11 physics puzzlesMovie Camera"












David Robson: What is the secret of the legendary "flow state" that seems to mark out genius in everyone from piano virtuosos to tennis champions? With the latest brain stimulation techniques, it may soon be within everyone's reach, and Sally Adee writes with panache as she describes her own use of the technology during a terrifying marksmanship training session. This has everything I want to read in a story – drama, a revolutionary idea and some practical advice for anyone to try at home: "Zap your brain into the zone: Fast track to pure focus"












Graham Lawton: The writer of this article, Christopher Kemp, is a self-confessed lover of marginalia – nooks and crannies of science that are often overlooked. But as this beautifully written story reveals, those nooks and crannies often contain rich and fascinating material. Material, in fact, like ambergris: "Heaven scent: The grey gold from a sperm whale's gut"












Ben Crystall: Many people may remember the wonder material Starlite from an episode of BBC TV's Tomorrow's World – it seemed to have a miraculous ability to withstand fire and heat. So what happened to it? In this feature Richard Fisher uncovers the strange tale of Starlite and its eccentric inventor Maurice Ward, and on the way reveals fascinating details about Ward and his creation. And though Ward is dead, the story may not be over – it now looks like Starlite could get a second chance… "The power of cool: Whatever became of Starlite?"












Clare Wilson: I enjoyed working on this feature the most this year because to me it truly represents the future of medicine. New Scientist often predicts that some new medicine or technology will be available in five years' time. When it comes to using gene therapies or stem cell therapies on babies in the womb – the subject of this feature – the timeline is probably more uncertain, yet I don't see how anyone can doubt that some day it will happen: "Fetal healing: Curing congenital diseases in the womb"



















































If you would like to reuse any content from New Scientist, either in print or online, please contact the syndication department first for permission. New Scientist does not own rights to photos, but there are a variety of licensing options available for use of articles and graphics we own the copyright to.




































All comments should respect the New Scientist House Rules. If you think a particular comment breaks these rules then please use the "Report" link in that comment to report it to us.


If you are having a technical problem posting a comment, please contact technical support.








Read More..

US House to vote to avert fiscal cliff






WASHINGTON: After a day of twisting political drama, the US Congress was Tuesday expected to finally endorse a deal to avert the "fiscal cliff" budget crisis that had threatened to unleash a new recession.

Hours before many major global financial markets make their 2013 debut, the House of Representatives was to vote on a bid to raise taxes on the rich and put off a $109 billion dollar program of spending cuts for two months.

The deal passed the Senate early on Tuesday, but its fate hung in the balance for hours as House conservatives sought to amend it to include big spending cuts, which would likely have killed its chance of passage.

Had the deal splintered, all Americans would have been hit by tax increases and the spending cuts would have kicked in across the government, in a combined $500 billion shock that could have rocked the fragile recovery.

The House was due to vote within hours on an up or down vote on the deal agreed between Senate Republicans and President Barack Obama's White House.

A majority of 217 votes was seen as a certainty given that Obama's Democrats were certain to back the pact along with some of the Republican majority.

The vote will take place after a conservative rebellion fizzled when it became clear there were not sufficient votes in the restive Republican caucus to send an amended version of the bill with spending cuts back to the Senate.

Republican party leaders ultimately feared they would carry the can if the deal collapsed, leaving Americans enraged by higher taxes and the prospect of that an economy still slowly bouncing back from the worst crisis in decades could be plunged back into recession.

"There's a growing sense that, you know... you do have to know when to hold them and when to fold them. We've been beaten in this fight," retiring Ohio Republican Congressman Steve LaTourette told CNN.

Earlier, Boehner's coalition vented fury that the deal negotiated by the White House and top Senate Republicans had not contained significant spending cuts to eat into national debt that is worth more than $16 trillion.

"We have to in some way address spending," Republican congressman Spencer Bachus said.

Another House Republican, Tim Huelskamp, said that the powerful number two Republican in the chamber Eric Cantor told a high-stakes meeting of the party caucus that he was opposed to the bill.

"The principal reason is there are no spending cuts," said Huelskamp.

At the turn of the year, every American became liable to a tax hike with the expiry of rate cuts first passed under former president George W. Bush.

The deal to avert the fiscal cliff agreed on Monday raised income taxes only on households earning $450,000 a year and exempted anyone else.

It put off the spending cuts -- known as the sequester -- for two months, setting up another bitter political cliffhanger at the end of February.

If the legislation does pass the House unamended, it will represent a win for Obama as it raises taxes on the richest Americans in line with a re-election campaign promise -- albeit above an income threshold higher than he and other Democrats had wanted.

Obama issued a statement shortly after the 2:00 am (0700 GMT) Senate vote, urging House lawmakers to pass the bill "without delay."

The White House said the tax agreement was "a victory for middle-class families and the economy," and laid out the raft of measures contained in the legislation.

"For the first time in 20 years, Congress will have acted on a bipartisan basis to vote for significant new revenue," it said.

The deal also includes an end to a temporary two percent cut to payroll taxes for Social Security retirement savings -- meaning all Americans will pay a little more -- and changes to inheritance and investment taxes.

-AFP/ac



Read More..

House Republicans balk at fiscal cliff deal






























































WASHINGTON (Reuters) - The U.S. House of Representatives looked set to end the "fiscal cliff" crisis in a vote on Tuesday night on a bipartisan deal meant to prevent Washington from pushing the world's biggest economy into recession.

After a day of deliberation, there appeared to be enough Republicans in the House ready to back a Senate bill that would raise taxes on the wealthiest Americans and close a crucial chapter of the budget dispute that has consumed Washington for months.






"We've gone as far as we can go and I think people are ready to bring it to a conclusion," Republican Representative Jack Kingston of Georgia said. "We fought the fight."

Rules Committee Chairman David Dreier, a Republican, predicted the House would back the Senate bill, which also postpones for two months $109 billion in spending cuts on military and domestic programs set for 2013.

Lawmakers have struggled to find a way to head off across-the-board tax hikes and spending cuts that began to take effect at midnight, a legacy of earlier failed budget deals that is known as the fiscal cliff.

Strictly speaking, the United States went over the cliff in the first minutes of the New Year because Congress failed to produce legislation to halt $600 billion of tax hikes and spending cuts scheduled for this year that started kicking in on January 1.

While many Republicans were uneasy with the tax hikes and wanted more spending cuts in the bill, they seemed to realize that the fiscal cliff would begin to damage the economy once financial markets and federal government offices returned to work on Wednesday. Opinion polls show the public would blame Republicans if a deal were to fall apart.

The House Republicans had earlier considered adding $330 billion in spending cuts over 10 years to the Senate bill, which raises taxes on the wealthiest U.S. households by $620 billion over the same period.

But Senate Democrats refused to consider any changes to their bill, which passed 89 to 8 in a rare display of unity early Tuesday morning.

(Additional reporting by Rachelle Younglai, Thomas Ferraro and David Lawder; Writing by Andy Sullivan; Editing by Alistair Bell and Eric Beech)


Read More..

Space Pictures This Week: Ice “Broccoli,” Solar Storm









































































































');

























































































































 $'+ doc.ngstore_price_t +'';
html += ' $'+ doc.ngstore_saleprice_t +'';
} else {
html += ' $'+ doc.ngstore_price_t +'';
}
html += '
';

$("#ecom_43331 ul.ecommerce_all_img").append(html);




o.totItems++;

}// end for loop
} // end if data.response.numFound != 0

if(o.totItems != o.maxItems){
if(o.defaultItems.length > 0){
o.getItemByID(o.defaultItems.shift());
} else if(o.isSearchPage && !o.searchComplete){
o.doSearchPage();
} else if(!o.searchComplete) {
o.byID = false;
o.doSearch();
}
}// end if
}// end parseResults function

o.trim = function(str) {
return str.replace(/^\s\s*/, '').replace(/\s\s*$/, '');
}

o.doSearchPage = function(){
o.byID = false;

var tempSearch = window.location.search;
var searchTerms ="default";
var temp;

if( tempSearch.substr(0,7) == "?search"){
temp = tempSearch.substr(7).split("&");
searchTerms = temp[0];
} else {
temp = tempSearch.split("&");
for(var j=0;j 0){
o.getItemByID(o.defaultItems.shift());
} else if(o.isSearchPage){
o.doSearchPage();
} else {
o.doSearch();
}

}// end init function

}// end ecommerce object

var store_43331 = new ecommerce_43331();





store_43331.init();









































































































































































Read More..