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How A Big US Bank Laundered Billions From Mexico's Murderous Drug Gangs
|11:41:20 PM, Tuesday, April 05, 2011|
"As the violence spread, billions of dollars of cartel cash began to seep into the global financial system. But a special investigation by the Observer reveals how the increasingly frantic warnings of one London whistleblower were ignored.
On 10 April 2006, a DC-9 jet landed in the port city of Ciudad del Carmen, on the Gulf of Mexico, as the sun was setting. Mexican soldiers, waiting to intercept it, found 128 cases packed with 5.7 tons of cocaine, valued at $100m. But something else – more important and far-reaching – was discovered in the paper trail behind the purchase of the plane by the Sinaloa narco-trafficking cartel.
During a 22-month investigation by agents from the US Drug Enforcement Administration, the Internal Revenue Service and others, it emerged that the cocaine smugglers had bought the plane with money they had laundered through one of the biggest banks in the United States: Wachovia, now part of the giant Wells Fargo.
The authorities uncovered billions of dollars in wire transfers, traveller's cheques and cash shipments through Mexican exchanges into Wachovia accounts. Wachovia was put under immediate investigation for failing to maintain an effective anti-money laundering programme. Of special significance was that the period concerned began in 2004, which coincided with the first escalation of violence along the US-Mexico border that ignited the current drugs war.
Criminal proceedings were brought against Wachovia, though not against any individual, but the case never came to court. In March 2010, Wachovia settled the biggest action brought under the US bank secrecy act, through the US district court in Miami. Now that the year's "deferred prosecution" has expired, the bank is in effect in the clear. It paid federal authorities $110m in forfeiture, for allowing transactions later proved to be connected to drug smuggling, and incurred a $50m fine for failing to monitor cash used to ship 22 tons of cocaine.
More shocking, and more important, the bank was sanctioned for failing to apply the proper anti-laundering strictures to the transfer of $378.4bn – a sum equivalent to one-third of Mexico's gross national product – into dollar accounts from so-called casas de cambio (CDCs) in Mexico, currency exchange houses with which the bank did business..."
Plans For World's Most Powerful Rocket Unveiled
|7:54:46 PM, Tuesday, April 05, 2011|
"The private rocket company SpaceX says its next rocket will be the most powerful in the world.
The new rocket, called the Falcon Heavy, is designed to carry up to about twice as much weight as a NASA space shuttle can take to orbit. It's expected to be at the launchpad at the end of next year for its first flight, with the launch likely coming in 2013.
SpaceX CEO Elon Musk described his company's new rocket during a press conference in Washington, D.C. He says it will be able to take about 117,000 pounds to orbit.
"So that is really, really humongous," says Musk. "It's more payload capability than any vehicle in history, apart from the Saturn V."
The Saturn V was NASA's moon rocket and was decommissioned after the Apollo program ended. Musk said the Falcon Heavy has about half the lifting capability of the Saturn V.
"So in principle, you could do another mission to the moon, just by doing two launches of a Falcon Heavy," says Musk. He also described possible missions to an asteroid, or an unmanned mission to collect samples of rocks from Mars and return them to Earth.
SpaceX is one of a number of companies that have been angling to carry cargo — and someday, astronauts — for NASA now that the space shuttle is being retired this year.
SpaceX has already had two successful flights of its smaller Falcon 9 rocket and successfully returned its Dragon space capsule from orbit. Musk says the Falcon Heavy has also been designed with NASA's standards for human spaceflight in mind. Each launch of the Falcon Heavy will cost $80 million to $125 million..."
Orphan Bear Cubs Play With Tiger Cub
|3:43:18 PM, Tuesday, April 05, 2011|
-- Two black bear cubs, abandoned by their mom, get a new home at China’s Qingdao Wildlife Park - and a new playmate: A tiger cub just their size.
Space Junk Threatening International Space Station, 3 Residents
|1:50:37 PM, Tuesday, April 05, 2011|
"A small piece of space junk drifted dangerously close to the International Space Station on Tuesday, prompting NASA to order the three astronauts to seek shelter in their attached capsule.
Mission Control gave the order after determining there was not enough time to steer the orbiting outpost away from the space junk.
The debris — about 6 inches — is from a Chinese satellite that was deliberately destroyed in 2007 as part of a weapons test. It was projected to pass within three miles of the space station, warranting a red threat level, NASA's highest.
Just last Friday, the space station had to move out of the way of an orbiting remnant from a two-satellite collision in 2009.
Debris is an increasingly serious problem in orbit, because of colliding and destroyed spacecraft. At 5 miles a second, damage can be severe, even from something several inches big. Decompression, in fact, is at the top of any spacefarers' danger list.
More than 12,500 pieces of debris are orbiting Earth — and those are the ones big enough to track.
Mission Control notified the crew of the latest threat Tuesday morning, a few hours after the risk was identified. The three crew members are Dmitry Kondratyev, the station's Russian commander, American Catherine Coleman and Italian Paolo Nespoli.
The orbit of the space junk is extremely erratic, and there's quite a bit of atmospheric drag on it, said NASA spokesman Josh Byerly. Experts monitored the debris into the early afternoon, to determine its exact path, and later told the crew that they might not have to close themselves off in the Soyuz spacecraft. The threat level, however, remained red..."
ScienceShot: Green Eggs and Salamanders
|11:35:49 AM, Tuesday, April 05, 2011|
-- "It might sound like something out of a Dr. Seuss story, but biologists have long told tales of the green eggs of the spotted salamander. Ambystoma maculatum lays its brood in ponds each spring up and down North America. These marble-sized gelatinous sacs quickly turn green (bottom left and top right images) as photosynthesizing algae grow around the developing embryo and feast on its waste. In turn, the embryo enjoys the oxygen produced by the algae. Now scientists have discovered that the algae gets a little closer than they thought. Using long-exposure imaging, the researchers detected algal fluorescence (main image) inside the developing salamander. This is the first case of an algae living symbiotically within a vertebrate, the team reports online today in the Proceedings of National Academy of Sciences. How the photosynthesizing algae gets there, and how it survives inside the tissues and cells of this predominantly nocturnal amphibian is still baffling to scientists. But one thing's for sure, the discovery means rewriting textbooks to add salamanders to a short list of organisms, including coral and bacteria, that form symbiotic relationships with plants."
The Lonely Island - We're Back!
|9:36:37 AM, Tuesday, April 05, 2011|
Paper, Plastic, or Steel?
|9:13:26 AM, Tuesday, April 05, 2011|
"The ancient Chinese art of paper folding is probably not in most people's minds when rushing to bag their groceries. But engineers have now built a foldable grocery bag from steel (go ahead, load it with soda bottles!) using an origami-inspired design that could help speed up factory packaging processes. The technique may eventually lead to buildings that can change shape at the push of button.
"Origami engineers" build a variety of objects by folding sheets of rigid material along set creases. In the past, they have used the technique to create foldable solar panels, for use in space, that can be quickly and easily packed into a small volume for transport in shuttles. Now, origami engineers Zhong You and Weina Wu of the University of Oxford in the United Kingdom have tackled a more down-to-earth problem: whether a tall shopping bag built from a rigid material or an open-topped cardboard box could ever be folded flat like a traditional grocery bag without having to open its bottom.
The question is important in the packaging industry where, currently, cardboard boxes can only be flat packed if both their top and their base are left open, You explains. "If you have moved house, you know how much time is wasted constructing the base of the box before you can put anything in it, and it's even worse on a factory assembly line," he says. "Making cardboard boxes that can be folded flat, even with their base in place, will speed up automated packaging in factories."
In 2004, mathematician Erik Demaine of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology in Cambridge and his colleagues proposed a theoretical pattern of origami creases that could be set into a tall bag made from something more rigid than paper and allow the bag to be folded flat. The bag could never be made in practice, however, because it required infinitely thin material. Now You and Wu have come up with an alternative crease pattern, which adds a number of extra creases to the traditional pattern used in conventional paper grocery bags. They successfully constructed a prototype of a bag made from a number of stainless steel plates, stuck on to a light, flexible plastic sheet. The edges where the plates meet serve as "creases," along which the bag can be bent. The steel bag can be collapsed down as flat as a standard paper grocery bag (see picture). "We used steel because if it works for that, it will work for less-rigid materials," You says. The pair are now discussing their design—published online today in the Proceedings of the Royal Society A—with carton manufacturers..."
Drunken Trailer Near Accident - Nu, Pogodi!
|8:54:34 AM, Tuesday, April 05, 2011|
-- Sound on is a must!!! Also though it's his fault in the first place, props to the driver for not hitting the brakes and keeping on the gas instead! He's lucky to have saved that one.
Dog Trained To Control His Bark Volume
|9:05:09 PM, Monday, April 04, 2011|
UN Uses Attack Helicopters in Ivory Coast
|8:44:45 PM, Monday, April 04, 2011|
"ABIDJAN, Ivory Coast – The United Nations and French forces opened fire with attack helicopters Monday on the arsenal of this country's entrenched ruler, as columns of Ivorian fighters allied with his challenger finally pierced the city limit.
The fighters aiming to topple strongman Laurent Gbagbo after a decade in power had succeeded in taking nearly the entire countryside in just three days last week, but they faltered once they reached the country's largest city, where the presidential palace and residence are located.
Monday's offensive marked an unprecedented escalation in the international community's efforts to oust Gbagbo, who lost the presidential election in November yet has refused to cede power to Alassane Ouattara even as the world's largest cocoa producer teetered on the brink of all-out civil war.
The postelection violence has left hundreds dead — most of them Ouattara supporters — and has forced up to 1 million people to flee. Ouattara has used his considerable international clout to financially and diplomatically suffocate Gbagbo and pro-Ouattara forces before launching a dramatic military assault last week.
On Monday, the U.N. fired on the Akouedo military base at around 5 p.m. local time (1700 GMT) to prevent Gbagbo's forces from using heavy weapons against civilians, said the spokesman for the U.N. Department of Peacekeeping Operations Nick Birnback.
Explosions resonated from the city's downtown core a few blocks from the presidential palace and near the base of the republican guard, and those living nearby barricaded their windows with mattresses. Flames could be seen licking the sky above the home of the staunchly pro-Gbagbo republican guard.
French President Nicolas Sarkozy said in a statement that he had authorized the 1,600-strong French Licorne force based here to help in the operation following an appeal from U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon, who said that the use of force was necessary to prevent further attacks on civilians..."
Genetically Modified Cows Produce 'Human' Milk
|5:00:28 PM, Monday, April 04, 2011|
"The scientists have successfully introduced human genes into 300 dairy cows to produce milk with the same properties as human breast milk.
Human milk contains high quantities of key nutrients that can help to boost the immune system of babies and reduce the risk of infections.
The scientists behind the research believe milk from herds of genetically modified cows could provide an alternative to human breast milk and formula milk for babies, which is often criticised as being an inferior substitute.
They hope genetically modified dairy products from herds of similar cows could be sold in supermarkets. The research has the backing of a major biotechnology company.
The work is likely to inflame opposition to GM foods. Critics of the technology and animal welfare groups reacted angrily to the research, questioning the safety of milk from genetically modified animals and its effect on the cattle's health.
But Professor Ning Li, the scientist who led the research and director of the State Key Laboratories for AgroBiotechnology at the China Agricultural University insisted that the GM milk would be as safe to drink as milk from ordinary dairy cows.
He said: "The milk tastes stronger than normal milk.
“We aim to commercialize some research in this area in coming three years. For the “human-like milk”, 10 years or maybe more time will be required to finally pour this enhanced milk into the consumer’s cup.”
China is now leading the way in research on genetically modified food and the rules on the technology are more relaxed than those in place in Europe..."
Tuscany by Maciej Duczynski
|4:50:29 PM, Monday, April 04, 2011|
Godman Performs Miracles and Heals the Sick (Supernatural Revealed in India)
|4:43:21 PM, Monday, April 04, 2011|
-- See the end for the tricks behind the miracles.
Unpaid Interns, Complicit Colleges
|3:55:19 PM, Monday, April 04, 2011|
"On college campuses, the annual race for summer internships, many of them unpaid, is well under way. But instead of steering students toward the best opportunities and encouraging them to value their work, many institutions of higher learning are complicit in helping companies skirt a nebulous area of labor law.
Colleges and universities have become cheerleaders and enablers of the unpaid internship boom, failing to inform young people of their rights or protect them from the miserly calculus of employers. In hundreds of interviews with interns over the past three years, I found dejected students resigned to working unpaid for summers, semesters and even entire academic years — and, increasingly, to paying for the privilege.
For the students, the problems are less philosophical and legal than practical. In 2007, for instance, Will Batson, a Colgate University student from Augusta, Ga., and a son of two public-interest lawyers, worked as an unpaid, full-time summer intern for WNBC and had to scramble for shelter in New York City.
“It definitely hurt my confidence,” Mr. Batson told me. He recalled crashing on more than 20 floors and couches, being constantly short on cash and fearing he would have to quit and go home. His father, he said, felt like a failure for not being able to help him rent an apartment.
What makes WNBC — whose parent company, General Electric, is valued at more than $200 billion — think it can get away with this? In Mr. Batson’s case, a letter from Colgate, certifying that he was receiving credit for doing the internship. (Now 24, he gave up on journalism and is at a technology start-up. NBC calls its internship program “an important recruiting tool.”)
The uncritical internship fever on college campuses — not to mention the exploitation of graduate student instructors, adjunct faculty members and support staff — is symptomatic of a broader malaise. Far from being the liberal, pro-labor bastions of popular image, universities are often blind to the realities of work in contemporary America.
In politics, film, fashion, journalism and book publishing, unpaid internships are seen as a way to break in. (The New York Times has paid and unpaid interns.) But the phenomenon goes beyond fields seen as glamorous.
Three-quarters of the 10 million students enrolled in America’s four-year colleges and universities will work as interns at least once before graduating, according to the College Employment Research Institute. Between one-third and half will get no compensation for their efforts, a study by the research firm Intern Bridge found. Unpaid interns also lack protection from laws prohibiting racial discrimination and sexual harassment.
The United States Department of Labor says an intern at a for-profit company may work without pay only when the program is similar to that offered in a vocational school, benefits the student, does not displace a regular employee and does not entitle the student to a job; in addition, the employer must derive “no immediate advantage” from the student’s work and both sides must agree that the student is not entitled to wages..."
Shocking Accident: Yet Another Reason For Maintaining A Safe Following Distance
|2:55:05 PM, Monday, April 04, 2011|
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