Later On

A blog written for those whose interests more or less match mine.

Archive for January 8th, 2008

Okay! Okay! I confess.

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I love Brillat-Savarin. Not just the book, the cheese. It’s triple-cream, but I would have guessed quadruple-cream at least. Just wonderful. Got it at Whole Foods. Now I’m having a little while waiting for the ribs to finish, watching Derailed.

Written by Leisureguy

8 January 2008 at 4:38 pm

Posted in Daily life, Food

Another aspect of the Edmonds story: the nuclear “accident”

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It keeps getting worse:

If a new article just published Saturday in the Times of London based upon information provided by US government whistleblower Sibel Edmonds, a 37-year-old former Turkish language translator for the FBI, is correct, we have not only solid evidence of prior knowledge of 9-11 by high up US government officials, but evidence of treasonous activity by many of those same officials involving efforts to provide US nuclear secrets to America’s enemies, even including Al Qaeda.

The story also casts a chilling light on the so-called “accidental” flight of six nuclear-armed cruise missiles aboard an errant B-52 that flew last Aug. 30 from Minot AFB in North Dakota to Barksdale AFB in Shreveport, Louisiana.

The Sunday Times reports that Edmonds, whose whistleblowing efforts have been studiously ignored by what passes for the news media in American news media, approached the Rupert Murdoch-owned British paper a month ago after reading a report there that an Al-Qaeda leader had been training some of the 9-11 hijackers at a training camp in Turkey, a US NATO alley, under the noses of the Turkish military. (Given the militantly secular traditions of the Turkish military, they had to have looked into an Islamic terror training camp within their borders, at least to establish that it was not targeting Turkish interests.)

Edmonds, who was recruited by the FBI after 9-11 because of her Turkish and Farsi language skills, has long been claiming that in her FBI job of covertly monitoring conversations between Turkish, Israeli, Persian and other foreign agents and US contacts, including a backlog of untranslated tapes dating back to 1997, she had heard evidence of “money laundering, drug imports and attempts to acquire nuclear and conventional weapons technology.” But the Turkish training for 9-11 rang more alarm bells and made her decide that talking behind closed doors to Congress or the FBI was not enough. She had to go public.

Edmonds claims in the Times that even as she was providing evidence of moles within the US State Department, the Pentagon, and the nuclear weapons establishment, who were providing nuclear secrets for cash, through Turkey, to Pakistan’s intelligence agency, the Inter-Services Intelligence, or ISI, agencies within the Bush administration were actively working to block investigation and to shield those who were committing the acts of treason.

Pakistan’s ISI is known to have had, and to still maintain close contacts with Al-Qaeda. Indeed, the Times notes that Pakistan’s nuclear god-father, General Mahmoud Ahmad, was accused of sanctioning a $100,000 wire payment to Mohammed Atta, one of the 9/11 hijackers, immediately before the attacks.

Edmonds claims in the Times article, that following the 9-11 attacks, FBI investigators took a number of Turkish and Pakistani operatives into custody for questioning about foreknowledge of the attacks, but that a high-ranking US State Department official repeatedly acted to spirit them out of the country.

Edmonds was fired from her FBI translating job in 2002 after she accused a colleague of having illicit contact with Turkish officials. She has claimed that she was fired for being outspoken, and in 2005 her position was reportedly vindicated by the Office of Inspector General of the FBI, which concluded that she had been sacked for making valid complaints.

One of those whom Edmonds claims in the Times report was being investigated in connection with the nuclear information transfers was Pentagon analyst Lawrence Franklin. Franklin was convicted and jailed in 2006 for passing US defense information to American Israel Public Affairs Committee lobbyists and sharing classified information with an Israeli diplomat. Franklin, in 2001, was part of the Pentagon Office of Special Plans, a kind of shadow intelligence unit set up by the Bush administration inside the Pentagon whose job it was to gin up “evidence” to justify a war against Iraq. In that capacity, he (along with several other OSP members and arch neocon schemer Michael Ledeen) was also identified by Italian investigative journalists working for the newspaper La Repubblica, as having been at a crucial meeting in December 2001 in Rome with the Italian defense and intelligence service ministers. La Repubblica reports that at that meeting a plan was hatched to fob off forged Niger embassy documents as evidence that Iraqi strongman Saddam Hussein was trying to buy uranium ore from Niger.

If Edmonds’ story is correct, and Al-Qaeda, with the aid of Turkish government agents and Pakistani intelligence, and with the help of US government officials, has been attempting to obtain nuclear materials and nuclear information from the U.S., it casts an even darker shadow over the mysterious and still unexplained incident last August 30, when a B-52 Stratofortress, based at the Minot strategic air base in Minot, ND, against all rules and regulations of 40 years’ standing, loaded and flew off with six unrecorded and unaccounted for nuclear-tipped cruise missiles.

That incident only came to public attention because three as yet unidentified Air Force whistleblowers contacted a reporter at the Military Times newspaper, which ran a series of stories about it, some of which were picked up by other US news organizations.

An Air Force investigation into that incident, ordered by Defense Secretary Robert Gates, claimed improbably that the whole thing had been an “accident,” but many veterans of the US Air Force and Navy with experience in handling nuclear weapons, as well as experts in arms control, say that such an explanation is impossible, and argue that there had to have been a chain of orders from above the level of the base commander for such a flight to have occurred.

Incredibly, almost five months after that bizarre incident (which included several as yet unexplained deaths of B-52 pilots and base personnel occurring in the weeks shortly before and after the flight), in which six 150-kiloton warheads went missing for 36 hours, there has been no Congressional investigation and no FBI investigation into what happened.

Yet in view of Edmonds’ story to the London Times, alleging that there has been an ongoing, active effort for some years by both Al Qaeda and by agents of two US allies, Turkey and Pakistan, to get US nuclear weapons secrets and even weapons, and that there are treasonous moles at work within the American government and nuclear bureaucracy aiding and abetting those efforts, surely at a minimum, a major public inquiry is called for.

Meanwhile, there is enough in just this one London Times story to keep an army of investigative reporters busy for years. So why, one has to ask, is this story appearing in a highly respected British newspaper, but not anywhere in the corporate US media?

Written by Leisureguy

8 January 2008 at 3:41 pm

New solar engine

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Solar energy technology is enjoying its day in the sun with the advent of innovations from flexible photovoltaic (PV) materials to thermal power plants that concentrate the sun’s heat to drive turbines. But even the best system converts only about 30 percent of received solar energy into electricity—making solar more expensive than burning coal or oil. That will change if Lonnie Johnson’s invention works. The Atlanta-based independent inventor of the Super Soaker squirt gun (a true technological milestone) says he can achieve a conversion efficiency rate that tops 60 percent with a new solid-state heat engine. It represents a breakthrough new way to turn heat into power.

Johnson, a nuclear engineer who holds more than 100 patents, calls his invention the Johnson Thermoelectric Energy Conversion System, or JTEC for short. This is not PV technology, in which semiconducting silicon converts light into electricity. And unlike a Stirling engine, in which pistons are powered by the expansion and compression of a contained gas, there are no moving parts in the JTEC. It’s sort of like a fuel cell: JTEC circulates hydrogen between two membrane-electrode assemblies (MEA). Unlike a fuel cell, however, JTEC is a closed system. No external hydrogen source. No oxygen input. No wastewater output. Other than a jolt of electricity that acts like the ignition spark in an internal-combustion engine, the only input is heat.

Here’s how it works:

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Written by Leisureguy

8 January 2008 at 3:29 pm

More clean transportation

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The ZiPee:


Meet the ZiPee, a cute and functional electric scooter and one solution the UK’s pollution problem (ZiPee stands for Zero Input of Pollution from Emissions into the Environment). The ZiPee is a scooter marketed for London commuters, enticing them to trade in their gas guzzling vehicles for their everyday journeys. Hoping to change the outlook of passengers and urging them to make a choice in their commuting habits, the ZiPee is ideal for travel within London and other cities.

Retailing at £799, the electric scooter is capable of 30 miles on a single charge, takes only two hours to charge up and if you run out of power the incorporated pedals can get you home safely. You only have to be 14 to ride one and there are no requirements for road tax, insurance, licence or registration. Even the London Congestion Charge can’t get you!

It’s not just about the scooter though. The ZiPee is also used in local school projects to educate students on the benefits of travelling by electricity, inspiring the next generation of travellers. Changing consumers’ habits is hard, and will take time, but with the help of social entrepreneurs like ZiPee bikes, the next generation of commuters can start with good habits.

Written by Leisureguy

8 January 2008 at 3:24 pm

Best healthcare system?

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Again. (UPDATE: Nice graph of the data over at Political Animal.)

The U.S. today finds itself last on a new list of countries seeking to curb preventable deaths in people younger than 75.

Not only does the U.S. have the worst spot on that list, its rate of improvement is also slower than the other 18 industrialized nations included in the study.

The U.S. might have been spared an estimated 101,000 deaths annually if its preventable death rate matched that of the top-ranked countries, according to the researchers, who included Ellen Nolte, PhD, of the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine.

Their study appears in the January/February edition of Health Affairs.

Nolte’s team defined preventable deaths as deaths in people younger than 75 with treatable cancers, bacterial infections, diabetes, stroke, heart disease, and surgical complications.

Using data from the World Health Organization, the researchers compared preventable death rates among 19 countries during 1997-1998 and 2002-2003.

From 1997 to 1998, the U.S. had a high rate of preventable deaths, but it wasn’t the worst-ranked country on the list. By 2002-2003, preventable death rates dropped in all 19 countries, including the U.S.

But the U.S. had had the mildest rate of decline — 4% — compared with a 16% average decline among the other countries. That’s how the U.S. wound up with the highest preventable death rate in 2002-2003.

Why did the U.S. lag in avoiding preventable deaths? The study doesn’t answer that question. But the slow decline in U.S. preventable deaths “has coincided with an increase in the uninsured population,” write the researchers.

Here is the full list of how the 19 countries ranked in their 2002-2003 preventable death rates:

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Written by Leisureguy

8 January 2008 at 3:06 pm

Posted in Government, Health, Medical

Car that runs on compressed air

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Seems pretty easy to get the “refueling” infrastructure in place: air compressors.

Written by Leisureguy

8 January 2008 at 1:40 pm

Big models

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B-29 and Bell X-1 rocket:

Written by Leisureguy

8 January 2008 at 11:43 am

Posted in Daily life, Video

Still no accountability

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Last month, after ABC News reported that former Halliburton/KBR employee Jamie Leigh Jones had been gang-raped by her co-workers while working in Baghdad, multiple lawmakers — including Rep. Ted Poe (R-TX), Sen. Hillary Clinton (D-NY) and Sen. Bill Nelson (D-FL) — pressed the Bush administration to reveal the state of the case and to explain how an earlier investigation “had not resulted in any prosecution.”

The Bush administration has been anything but cooperative. Both the State and Justice departments refused to give Poe “answers on the status” of the investigation. The DoJ “refused to send a representative” to a Congressional hearing last month, and the State, Defense and Justice departments all missed Nelson’s deadline for answering questions.

Now, the Inspector General of the Department of Defense has written to Nelson and other lawmakers, saying that his agency will not investigate the allegations:

In letters to lawmakers, DoD Inspector General Claude Kicklighter said that because the Justice Department still considers the investigation into Jones’ case open, there is no need for him to look into the matter.

“[T]he U.S. Justice Department has issued a statement that they are investigating the allegations,” wrote Kicklighter’s office to Sen. Bill Nelson, D-Fla., who had requested he look into the matter. “No further investigation by this agency into the allegations made by [Jones] is warranted.”

Though Kicklighter is refusing to investigate Jones’ allegations, he did say he would explore ‘whether and why’ a U.S. Army doctor handed to KBR security officials the results” of Jones’ “rape kit,” which then disappeared. Nelson’s office told ABC that the senator is “not satisfied” with Kicklighter’s letter.

Nelson is right to be disappointed, especially since Jones’ assault may not be “an isolated case.”

Former Halliburton/KBR employees have described an atmosphere of “rampant sexual harassment.” Poe has also confirmed that his office has heard from multiple other women who were victims of sexual assault while working for KBR in Iraq.

Written by Leisureguy

8 January 2008 at 11:23 am

The bad version of Capitalism

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Selfish Capitalism:

By far the most significant consequence of “selfish capitalism” (Thatch/Blatcherism) has been a startling increase in the incidence of mental illness in both children and adults since the 1970s. As I report in my book, The Selfish Capitalist — Origins of Affluenza, World Health Organization and nationally representative studies in the United States, Britain and Australia, reveal that it almost doubled between the early 80s and the turn of the century. These increases are very unlikely to be due to greater preparedness to acknowledge distress — the psychobabbling therapy culture was already established.

Add to this the astonishing fact that citizens of Selfish Capitalist, English-speaking nations (which tend to be one and the same) are twice as likely to suffer mental illness as those from mainland western Europe, which is largely Unselfish Capitalist in its political economy. An average 23% of Americans, Britons, Australians, New Zealanders and Canadians suffered in the last 12 months, but only 11.5% of Germans, Italians, French, Belgians, Spaniards and Dutch. The message could not be clearer. Selfish Capitalism, much more than genes, is extremely bad for your mental health. But why is it so toxic?

Readers of this newspaper will need little reminding that Selfish Capitalism has massively increased the wealth of the wealthy, robbing the average earner to give to the rich. There was no “trickle-down effect” after all.

The real wage of the average English-speaking person has remained the same – or, in the case of the US, decreased – since the 1970s. By more than halving the taxes of the richest and transferring the burden to the general population, Margaret Thatcher reinstated the rich’s capital wealth after three postwar decades in which they had steadily become poorer.

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Written by Leisureguy

8 January 2008 at 10:30 am

Posted in Business, Daily life

Fingerprinting blue diamonds

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Shine a white light on the Hope Diamond and it will dazzle you with the brilliance of an amazing blue diamond. Shine an ultraviolet light on the Hope Diamond and the gem will glow red-orange for about five minutes. This phosphorescent property of blue diamonds can distinguish synthetic and altered diamonds from the real thing, and it may also provide a way to fingerprint individual blue diamonds for identification purposes, according to a team of researchers from the Naval Research Laboratory, the Smithsonian Institution and Penn State.

Other colors of diamonds do not phosphoresce, but fluoresce, emitting visible light only as long as they are stimulated with ultraviolet radiation. Blue diamonds that phosphoresce emit light even after the ultraviolet lamp is turned off. Unlike the Hope, however, most blue diamonds produce a bluish light rather than reddish light.

The red phosphorescence is rare enough that researchers thought that those blue diamonds that did glow red must have come from the parent of the Hope – an original 112-carat blue diamond mined in India in the mid-1600s. That diamond was cut down to 67 carats to become the French Blue owned by French kings and, after being lost during the French Revolution, appeared 20 years later in 1812 as the 45-carat stone known today as the Hope Diamond.

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Written by Leisureguy

8 January 2008 at 10:26 am

Posted in Daily life, Science

Eat your oatmeal

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Or, better, oat groats (whole oat grains), which I eat daily. Here’s why:

A new scientific review of the most current research shows the link between eating oatmeal and cholesterol reduction to be stronger than when the FDA initially approved the health claim’s appearance on food labels in 1997.

Dr. James W. Anderson, professor of medicine and clinical nutrition at the University of Kentucky College of Medicine, co-authors “The Oatmeal-Cholesterol Connection: 10 Years Later” in the January/February 2008 issue of the American Journal of Lifestyle Medicine.

Anderson presents a contemporary analysis to determine if newer studies are consistent with the original conclusion reached by the FDA. His report says studies conducted during the past 15 years have, without exception, shown:

* total cholesterol levels are lowered through oat consumption;

* low-density lipoprotein (LDL, the “bad” cholesterol) is reduced without adverse effects on high-density lipoprotein cholesterol (HDL, the “good” cholesterol), or triglyceride concentrations.

“Whole-grain products like oatmeal are among some of the best foods one can eat to improve cholesterol levels, in addition to other lifestyle choices,” Anderson said. “Lifestyle choices, such as diet, should be the first line of therapy for most patients with moderate cholesterol risk given the expense, safety concerns, and intolerance related to cholesterol lowering drugs.”

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Written by Leisureguy

8 January 2008 at 10:20 am

Posted in Daily life, Food, Health

Predicting psychosis

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Often the first psychotic episode someone experiences happens in the late teens or early twenties. It is a terrifying experience, as you can imagine, especially if the person does not know much about mental illnesses and most especially in cultures (or microcultures) in which mental illness is a taboo and treated as shameful. Now there’s hope that such psychotic breaks can be predicted so the person (and the family) can be better prepared:

New research could help doctors identify troubled teens who will develop psychotic illness with a high degree of accuracy.

Researchers were able to predict psychosis before the onset of full-blown psychotic episodes in roughly a third of patients, based on widely accepted criteria for risk.

When patients exhibited a specific combination of risk factors, as many as 80% were identified within two and a half years of being diagnosed with schizophrenia or another psychotic disorder.

Patients with early symptoms indicative of psychosis, such as unusual thoughts or a high level of paranoia, had a very high likelihood of progressing to full-blown psychosis within just a few years if they also had a family history of psychotic disease and had recently experienced a dramatic decline in social functioning, says study researcher Tyrone D. Cannon, PhD, of the University of California, Los Angeles.

A sudden drop in grades or a general inability to function normally and abuse of drugs or alcohol were also among the risk factors included in a predictive model developed by Cannon and colleagues.

“When a kid who is pretty connected with his peers and doing well at school suddenly withdraws and is having unusual thoughts or becomes highly suspicious, it should not be ignored,” Cannon tells WebMD.

(Do you think it would help to know ahead of time if your child was at risk for mental illness? Tell us about it on the Depressed & Bipolar Kids: Family Support board.)

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Written by Leisureguy

8 January 2008 at 10:14 am

Posted in Daily life, Medical

Another cool car

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One thing that a demand for high-mileage, low-emissions vehicles has brought is a profusion of cool car designs. For example:


A large contributor to fuel inefficiency is the sheer weight of a vehicle. Loremo AG, a German car corporation, has used this as the inspiration for the Loremo LS, a sporty, low-weight, low-resistance vehicle that according to the company will boast the lowest emissions for any vehicle ever.

Loremo, which stands for Low Resistance Mobile, is based on the concept that by reducing weight, one can increase the fuel efficiency of the vehicle. And don’t worry about safety, the company is confident that the steel cell construction method provides the vehicle with a solid rigidity and enough of a deformation area for it to be safe to drive around the city. The design of the Loremo impresses. It has a very unique body shape, giving it clear individuality. Furthermore, rather than having two side doors for the drivers to enter the vehicle, there is a front wing door which swings upwards and to the front, allowing access to the vehicle.

But more importantly, the Loremo LS is designed to achieve a stunning 157mpg. It will go up to 160km/h on a 2 cylinder turbo-diesel engine, though the company is also exploring an all electric version of the vehicle. The vehicle weighs about 450kg, and will cost around 13,000 euros. Expect the vehicle to go on sale in Europe, China and India in 2009.

2007 was the year when the car industry realized that there was serious demand for green vehicles. And 2008 will bring us plenty of new concepts and vehicles that will change the way that we move around our cities, and we will continue to bring them to you.

More photos at the link.

Written by Leisureguy

8 January 2008 at 9:48 am

Trying to increase security through fear

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It doesn’t work:

I’ve written about the “War on the Unexpected,” and how normal people can’t tell the difference:

All they know is that something makes them uneasy, usually based on fear, media hype, or just something being different. […]

If you ask amateurs to act as front-line security personnel, you shouldn’t be surprised when you get amateur security.

Yesterday The New York Times wrote about New York City’s campaign:

Now, an overview of police data relating to calls to the hot line over the past two years reveals the answer and provides a unique snapshot of post-9/11 New York, part paranoia and part well-founded caution. Indeed, no terrorists were arrested, but a wide spectrum of other activity was reported. […]

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Written by Leisureguy

8 January 2008 at 9:43 am

Posted in Daily life, Government

Condi performance evaluation

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“Poor” and “Very Poor” seems to be the consensus:

Only 18 percent of the U.S. Foreign Service think Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice is doing a good job protecting their profession, according to a recent survey conducted by the service’s union. Forty-four percent rated her performance “poor” or “very poor,” the same percentage of respondents who said that “developments of the last few years” had made it less likely they would complete their careers in the Foreign Service.

Respondents to the American Foreign Service Association survey rated pay and other personnel issues as top concerns, closely followed by staffing and security problems at the U.S. Embassy in Iraq.

John Naland, the union’s president, said the survey raises “serious questions about the long-term health” of the service and “the future viability of U.S. diplomatic engagement.”

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8 January 2008 at 9:16 am

Everybody knows

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Via Brad Blog:

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8 January 2008 at 9:11 am

More from the Brad Blog post

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Again: read those updates at the Brad Blog. Included among them:

Why aren’t US newspapers all over this story? Why isn’t she testifying before Congress?

Written by Leisureguy

8 January 2008 at 9:06 am

More from Sibel Edmonds

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I blogged earlier about the allegations made by Sibel Emonds. Now Brad Blog has more (below—plus he has several update at the link that are well worth reading—including “Those senior DOD officials that are not mentioned the Times, all but one are no longer in government. They are alleged to be Doug Feith, Richard Perle, among others. There is also one person who is part of these allegations, still serving in a high level position at the DOD. His last name begins with an E.”). Here’s enough to make you want to click for the updates:

But we can add to at least one item of note in their report, concerning an unnamed “well-known senior official in the US State Department,” allegedly heard to have received bribes as part of the network. According to the paper:

Among the hours of covert tape recordings, she says she heard evidence that one well-known senior official in the US State Department was being paid by Turkish agents in Washington who were selling the information on to black market buyers, including Pakistan.The name of the official – who has held a series of top government posts – is known to The Sunday Times. He strongly denies the claims.

However, Edmonds said: “He was aiding foreign operatives against US interests by passing them highly classified information, not only from the State Department but also from the Pentagon, in exchange for money, position and political objectives.”

She claims that the FBI was also gathering evidence against senior Pentagon officials – including household names – who were aiding foreign agents.

“In one conversation Edmonds heard the official arranging to pick up a $15,000 cash bribe.”

Edmonds said: “I heard at least three transactions like this over a period of 2½ years. There are almost certainly more.”

While that “well-known senior” State Department official is not named by the paper, Australia’s Luke Ryland, who writes at a number of sites as “Lukery”, is perhaps the world’s foremost expert concerning the Sibel Edmonds story. Ryland has told The BRAD BLOG that the official, unnamed by the Times, is Marc Grossman.

Grossman was the U.S. Ambassador to Turkey (’94-’97), the Asst. Sec. of State for European Affairs (’97-’00) and served under Colin Powell and Richard Armitage at the State Department from 2001 to 2005 as the Under Secretary of State for Political Affairs. He’s currently employed as the Vice Chairman of the D.C. and China-based consulting firm, The Cohen Group, founded by the former Republican Defense Secretary for Bill Clinton, William S. Cohen.

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Written by Leisureguy

8 January 2008 at 9:02 am

Good news for me: naps improve memory

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Megs also will be glad to know this:

A ninety minute daytime nap helps speed up the process of long term memory consolidation, a recent study conducted by Prof. Avi Karni and Dr. Maria Korman of the Center for Brain and Behavior Research at the University of Haifa found. The research was published in the scientific journal Nature Neuroscience. “We still don’t know the exact mechanism of the memory process that occurs during sleep, but the results of this research suggest the possibility that it is possible to speed up memory consolidation, and in the future, we may be able to do it artificially,” said Prof. Karni.

Long term memory is defined as a permanent memory that doesn’t disappear or that disappears after many years. This part of our memory is divided into two types – memories of “what” (for example: what happened yesterday or what one remembers from an article one read yesterday) and memories of “how to” (for example: how to read Hebrew, how to drive, play basketball or play the piano).

In this new research, which was conducted by researchers at the University of Haifa in cooperation with the Sleep Laboratory at the Sheba Medical Center and researchers from the Department of Psychology at the University of Montreal, it was revealed that a daytime nap changes the course of consolidation in the brain. Two groups of participants in the study practiced a repeated motor activity which consisted of bringing the thumb and a finger together at a specific sequence. The research examined the “how” aspect of memory in the participants’ ability to perform the task quickly and in the correct sequence. One of the groups was allowed to nap for an hour and a half after learning the task while the other group stayed awake.

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Written by Leisureguy

8 January 2008 at 8:21 am

Posted in Daily life, Science

Scottish Lavender

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A lavender morning: I used the G.B. Kent BK4 brush with Castle Forbes Lavender shaving cream to create the usual incredible lather I get from CF, then the same razor and blade as yesterday—the Merkur Slant with a Treet Blue Special—to do an efficient and pleasant three-pass shave. And the finish was Castle Forbes Lavender aftershave balm. Extremely pleasant for a raw day.

Written by Leisureguy

8 January 2008 at 8:18 am

Posted in Shaving

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