Wednesday, July 23, 2014

Ukraine: Not a Positive Pattern

First a moment of silence for the victims of MH17.
They are being transported in the Netherlands to forensics very respectfully.

Today was not a good day for Ukraine, especially for the Ukrainian armed forces.

Two Su-25s were shot down today. Ukrainians state the missile came from Russian soil. The Russians deny this.

Shelling continues from Russia into Ukraine. Ukraine cannot respond.

A brawl broke out in the Rada over raising more troops to fight the war in the Donbass.

There are reports Poroshenko is banning the communist party.

On a we-knew-that-already note, one of the leaders of the rebellion/invasion has admitted they had the BUK. 

On the positive side, Popasne in the Lugansk Oblast was also taken by the Ukrainian forces.

I would expect the Ukrainians are driving on the M04 highway.

Gorgeous New Mexico: Duality of Dark & Light


Using CRISPR to Genetically Engineer an Entire Ecosystem

Genome engineering technologies have revolutionized genetics, biotechnology, and medical research. We may soon be able to alter not just domesticated species, but entire wild populations and ecosystems. Why, when and how might we use these novel methods to reshape our environment?

The story begins with a new technology that has made the precise editing of genes in many different organisms much easier than ever before. The so-called “CRISPR” system naturally protects bacteria from viruses by storing fragments of viral DNA sequence and cutting any sequences that exactly match the fragment. By changing the fragments and delivering the altered system into other organisms, we can cut any given gene. If we also supply a DNA sequence that the cell can use to repair the damage, it will incorporate this new DNA, precisely editing the genome. When performed in the cells that give rise to eggs or sperm, these changes will be inherited by future generations. Because most altered traits don’t improve and may even decrease the organism’s ability to survive and reproduce, they generally can’t spread through wild populations.

Will India, Japan Drive Bitcoin Higher?

With many traders remaining on the sidelines looking for a price trigger, Bitcoin is witnessing yet another uninspired trading day, devoid of any major directional move or even a sign of breaking out of the narrow range it has formed. BTC/USD edged lower to $620.95 following a steady climb from $615 to $625, but once again failing to make any move beyond the support and resistance levels.

Technically, the price is still above the support level of $615 and buying is recommended at current prices with a stop-loss (closing basis) placed just below $615 for a target of $630. Short positions are still a big NO, given that there are no visible signs of a breakdown. While it may appear that the range has continued for far too long, trading should be avoided in anticipation of a major move.

It seems that investors are opening up to the idea of more Bitcoin-based exchanges in Japan following the terrible failure of Mt. Gox, which could possibly act as an important trigger, at least for a while. This had helped push the price down from a near $1200 to $340.

Currently, Yuzo Kano, an ex- Goldman Sachs employee, has raised $1.6 million in funds to fill the void left after the Mt. Gox collapse through another Japan-based Bitcoin exchange called bitFlyer. This development follows a similar announcement earlier this month by the China-based ATM manufacturer BitOcean and the New York-based Atlas ATS to launch an exchange in the Japanese market.

Meanwhile, in India Bitcoin supporters have ramped up their efforts to re-launch the cryptocurrency, following the red flag given by the Reserve Bank of India. Bitcoin start-ups such as Coinsecure and Unocoin, are working towards placing Bitcoin as a recognized currency and are confident that eventually, things will turn in favour of the cryptocurrency.

Robopocalypse Comes to Photographic Lighting

Lighting is crucial to the art of photography. But lights are cumbersome and time-consuming to set up, and outside the studio, it can be prohibitively difficult to position them where, ideally, they ought to go.

Researchers at MIT and Cornell University hope to change that by providing photographers with squadrons of small, light-equipped autonomous robots that automatically assume the positions necessary to produce lighting effects specified through a simple, intuitive, camera-mounted interface.

At the International Symposium on Computational Aesthetics in Graphics, Visualization, and Imaging in August, they take the first step toward realizing this vision, presenting a prototype system that uses an autonomous helicopter to produce a difficult effect called "rim lighting," in which only the edge of the photographer's subject is strongly lit.

Based only on the specification of the "rim width" — the desired width, from the camera's perspective, of the subject's illuminated border — the helicopter not only assumes the right initial position but readjusts in real time as the subject moves, enabling delicate rim lighting of action shots.

According to Manohar Srikanth, who worked on the system as a graduate student and postdoc at MIT and is now a senior researcher at Nokia, he and his coauthors —MIT professor of computer science and engineering Frédo Durand and Cornell's Kavita Bala, who also did her PhD at MIT — chose rim lighting for their initial experiments precisely because it's a difficult effect.

"It's very sensitive to the position of the light," Srikanth says. "If you move the light, say, by a foot, your appearance changes dramatically."

Saab Quits Danish Fighter Competition

Saab has formally withdrawn its Saab JAS 39 Gripen E/F from Denmark's next-generation fighter aircraft competition, Denmark's Ministry of Defence (MoD) announced on 21 July. The MoD had set a deadline of 21 July for competing companies to submit their responses to a request for binding information issued on 10 April.

The decision means there are just three aircraft remaining in contention: the Boeing F/A-18E/F Super Hornet, the Eurofighter Typhoon, and the Lockheed Martin F-35 Lightning II.

Denmark is hoping to bring a new fighter to replace its fleet of Lockheed Martin F-16AM/BM Fighting Falcons into service by 2020. The aircraft are then expected to remain in service for at least 30 years.

Russia's Chirok: an Amphibious UAV in Development

United Instrument Corporation is working on an amphibious unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV) named Chirok, parent company Rostec State Corporation has disclosed.

A scale model of the Chirok was displayed at the Innoprom 2014 Industrial Trade Fair in Ekaterinburg, central Russia, from 9 to 12 July. This model showed Chirok's hovercraft chassis, which enables it to operate from unprepared surfaces.

Design and development of this aircraft is believed to have started in the late 1990s.

The scale model has completed testing at the Central Aero-hydrodynamic Institute in the city of Zhukovsky, and a full-scale UAV will be presented next year at the MAKS International Aviation and Space Show in Moscow, according to Rostec literature.

The full-scale Chirok will feature a 10 m wingspan, a maximum take-off weight of up to 700 kg, and a payload capacity of 300 kg. It will have a nearly 20,000 ft service ceiling, and a range of up to 2,500 km.

Evidence of Late Aptian Cretaceous Cold Snaps

Expression of the late Aptian cold snaps and the OAE1b in a highly subsiding carbonate platform (Aralar, northern Spain)


Millan et al


Cretaceous climate records provide evidence that major volcanic pulses with duration of 103 to several 105 yr triggered changes in climate and oceanography. Black shales of Oceanic Anoxic Event 1b (ca. 113–109 Ma) are regarded as signatures of late Aptian greenhouse pulses associated with volcanic episodes. New TEX86 paleotemperature record indicates that warm Aptian climate was interrupted by repeated cold snaps alternating with described greenhouse pulses. An extraordinary thick shallow-water carbonate succession of the Aralar Platform from the southeastern Basque–Cantabrian Basin in Spain provides a unique opportunity to test the hypothesis that cold phases interrupted warm climate in the Aptian. Platform evolution is traced through time of the proposed Aptian cold snaps alternating with greenhouse episodes. New high-resolution C-isotope records established in the studied upper Aptian platform carbonates serve as chemostratigraphic tool providing a link between carbonate-platform evolution, basinal black-shale formation and associated changes in open ocean palaeotemperatures. The late Aptian cold snaps find their expression in a remarkably reduced neritic succession, punctuated by several emersion horizons formed during sea-level lowstands. The studied section bears evidence for several episodes of choked carbonate production related to increased runoff at times of sea-level rise, during which orbitolinids bloomed in a sediment-loaden lagoonal setting. These intervals coincide with the deposition time of organic-rich Kilian and Leenhardt levels belonging to OAE1b.

What *IS* the Banded Terrain in the Martian Hellas Basin

The geomorphology and morphometry of the banded terrain in Hellas basin, Mars


Diot et al


Hellas basin is a large impact basin situated in the southern highlands of Mars. The north-western part of the basin has the lowest elevation (−7.5 km) on the planet and contains a possibly unique terrain type, which we informally call “banded terrain”. The banded terrain is made up of smooth-looking banded deposits that display signs of viscous behavior and a paucity of superimposed impact craters. In this study, we use newly acquired high spatial resolution images from the High Resolution Imaging Science Experiment (HiRISE) in addition to existing datasets to characterize the geomorphology, the morphometry and the architecture of the banded terrain. The banded terrain is generally confined to the NW edge of the Alpheus Colles plateau. The individual bands are ∼3–15 km-long, ∼0.3 km-wide and are separated by narrow inter-band depressions, which are ∼65 m-wide and ∼10 m-deep. The bands display several morphologies that vary from linear to concentric forms. Morphometric analysis reveals that the slopes along a given linear or lobate band ranges from 0.5° to 15° (average ∼6°), whereas the concentric bands are located on flatter terrain (average slope ∼2–3°). Crater-size frequency analysis yields an Amazonian-Hesperian boundary crater retention age for the terrain (∼3 Gyr), which together, with the presence of very few degraded craters, either implies a recent emplacement, resurfacing, or intense erosion. The apparent sensitivity to local topography and preference for concentrating in localized depressions is compatible with deformation as a viscous fluid. In addition, the bands display clear signs of degradation and slumping at their margins along with a suite of other features that include fractured mounds, polygonal cracks at variable size-scales, and knobby/hummocky textures. Together, these features suggest an ice-rich composition for at least the upper layers of the terrain, which is currently being heavily modified through loss of ice and intense weathering, possibly by wind.

Tracing Tongan Stone Tool Trade Yields Interesting Results

Stone tools from the ancient Tongan state reveal prehistoric interaction centers in the Central Pacific


Clark et al


Tonga was unique in the prehistoric Pacific for developing a maritime state that integrated the archipelago under a centralized authority and for undertaking long-distance economic and political exchanges in the second millennium A.D. To establish the extent of Tonga’s maritime polity, we geochemically analyzed stone tools excavated from the central places of the ruling paramounts, particularly lithic artifacts associated with stone-faced chiefly tombs. The lithic networks of the Tongan state focused on Samoa and Fiji, with one adze sourced to the Society Islands 2,500 km from Tongatapu. To test the hypothesis that nonlocal lithics were especially valued by Tongan elites and were an important source of political capital, we analyzed prestate lithics from Tongatapu and stone artifacts from Samoa. In the Tongan state, 66% of worked stone tools were long-distance imports, indicating that interarchipelago connections intensified with the development of the Tongan polity after A.D. 1200. In contrast, stone tools found in Samoa were from local sources, including tools associated with a monumental structure contemporary with the Tongan state. Network analysis of lithics entering the Tongan state and of the distribution of Samoan adzes in the Pacific identified a centralized polity and the products of specialized lithic workshops, respectively. These results indicate that a significant consequence of social complexity was the establishment of new types of specialized sites in distant geographic areas. Specialized sites were loci of long-distance interaction and formed important centers for the transmission of information, people, and materials in prehistoric Oceania.

An Amazing Mosasaurus missouriensis Specimen From Campanian Cretaceous Canada

A small, exquisitely preserved specimen of Mosasaurus missouriensis (Squamata, Mosasauridae) from the upper Campanian of the Bearpaw Formation, western Canada, and the first stomach contents for the genus


Konishi et al


A new, exquisitely preserved specimen of a small mosasaur, referable to Mosasaurus missouriensis, is reported from the Bearpaw Formation (ca. 75 Ma, upper Campanian) of southern Alberta, Canada. Many calcified cartilaginous elements, including tracheal rings and the sternum, are preserved. The sternum most closely resembles that of Clidastes propython, bearing five shallow sternal rib facets on each side. Our comparative study of the new material with the holotype, referred material, and the genotype M. hoffmannii is congruent with the preexisting hypothesis that M. missouriensis and M. hoffmannii are phylogenetically more closely related to each other than to the other congeners, in spite of a temporal gap of nearly 10 million years between them. Also preserved with the mosasaur, inside its ribcage and around the specimen, are well-preserved aulopiform fish bones, including a skull. The fish skull is punctured and its centra truncated, suggesting macrophagy was employed by M. missouriensis despite the apparent lack of tooth wear. A sympatric specimen of Prognathodon overtoni is known to have consumed a sea turtle as well as fishes, and consistently exhibits apical wear across marginal teeth. We hypothesize that coexistence of these apex predators in the Bearpaw Sea was possible because of niche partitioning. Finally, the mosasaur carcass was likely scavenged by at least three lamniform sharks, based on their shed teeth and a series of truncated transverse processes on the mosasaur tail.

Gephyrostegus: a Problematic Reptiliomorph From Asturian Carboniferious Czech Republic

Cranial anatomy, ontogeny, and relationships of the Late Carboniferous tetrapod Gephyrostegus bohemicus Jaekel, 1902


Klembara et al


We review the cranial morphology of the Late Carboniferous terrestrial tetrapod Gephyrostegus bohemicus from the coal deposits of the Nýřany Basin in the Czech Republic. Gephyrostegus is known from several skulls ranging in length from about 25 mm to about 58 mm (holotype). The narrow skull is about twice as long as wide and shows a well-ossified quadrate and articular, but no evidence of braincase ossification. Autapomorphic features include a pustular ornamentation on some skull table bones, and a plate-like tabular process exhibiting a fine dorsal pitting. Gephyrostegus shares with Bruktererpeton fiebigi (Late Carboniferous, Germany) the presence of low, anteromedially to posterolaterally orientated sharp ridges on the posteroventral surface of the vomer. It shares with seymouriamorphs a rectangular, transverse pterygoid process and closely packed, radially arranged rows of small denticles on the palate. A phylogenetic analysis retrieves Gephyrostegidae (Gephyrostegus, Bruktererpeton) as sister group to Seymouriamorpha, although this wider clade receives low bootstrap support.

Evidence of Dharwar Craton Being at the Continental Margin in the NeoArchean

Neoarchaean felsic volcanic rocks from the Shimoga greenstone belt, Dharwar Craton, India: Geochemical fingerprints of crustal growth at an active continental margin


Manikyamba et al


The felsic volcanic rocks of Neoarchaean Shimoga greenstone terrane of western Dharwar Craton in India are dominantly represented by rhyolites occurring at stratigraphically upper horizons. The Shimoga rhyolites are associated with conglomerates, quartzites, argillites, limestones, cherts, basalts and intermediate volcanic rocks clearly suggesting an accretionary package. The rhyolites of Daginkatte and Shikaripura areas are potassic, with porphyritic alkali feldspar and quartz as essential minerals and chlorite, biotite and opaques as accessory phases. Geochemically, the rocks show enrichment in LILE and depletion in HFSE relative to primitive mantle values, with negative Nb-Ta, Zr-Hf anomalies and positive Th anomalies. These features of the Shimoga rhyolites compare well with the geochemical characteristics of magmas generated in subduction-related tectonic settings. Their alkaline compositions, intermediate to low HFSE abundances, moderate to high Zr/Y values (1.5–8.3), with La/Ybn (2–28), pronounced negative Eu anomalies, and variable LREE/HREE fractionation trends resemble the FI and FII rhyolites of Wabigoon and Uchi belts of Superior Province, Canada. The Shimoga rhyolites are interpreted to be products of melting of thick basaltic crust metamorphosed to amphibolite/eclogite grade, with garnet- and amphibole-bearing mantle residue. The rhyolites show prominent negative Eu and Ti anomalies, moderate to strong LREE fractionation, flat to mildly fractionated HREE patterns and are geochemically analogous to Type 1 and Type 3 rhyolites of Superior Province, Canada suggesting their derivation from intracrustal melting and fractional crystallization of basaltic liquids with prominent contribution from mantle wedge and slab components. Our data suggest the contribution of Neoarchaean active continental margin processes for the growth and evolution of continental crust in the western Dharwar Craton.

Antarctic Sea Ice may not be Expanding as Thought

New research suggests that Antarctic sea ice may not be expanding as fast as previously thought. A team of scientists say much of the increase measured for Southern Hemisphere sea ice could be due to a processing error in the satellite data. The findings are published today in The Cryosphere, a journal of the European Geosciences Union (EGU).

Arctic sea ice is retreating at a dramatic rate. In contrast, satellite observations suggest that sea ice cover in the Antarctic is expanding – albeit at a moderate rate – and that sea ice extent has reached record highs in recent years. What's causing Southern Hemisphere sea ice cover to increase in a warming world has puzzled scientists since the trend was first spotted. Now, a team of researchers has suggested that much of the measured expansion may be due to an error, not previously documented, in the way satellite data was processed.

"This implies that the Antarctic sea ice trends reported in the IPCC's AR4 and AR5 [the 2007 and 2013 assessment reports from the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change] can't both be correct: our findings show that the data used in one of the reports contains a significant error. But we have not yet been able to identify which one contains the error," says lead-author Ian Eisenman of the Scripps Institution of Oceanography at University of California San Diego in the US.

Reflecting the scientific literature at the time, the AR4 reported that Antarctic sea ice cover remained more or less constant between 1979 and 2005. On the other hand, recent literature and the AR5 indicate that, between 1979 and 2012, Southern Hemisphere sea ice extent increased at a rate of about 16.5 thousand square kilometres per year. Scientists assumed the difference to be a result of adding several more years to the observational record.

"But when we looked at how the numbers reported for the trend had changed, and we looked at the time series of Antarctic sea ice extent, it didn't look right," says Eisenman, who set out to figure out what was wrong.

OSCE Wants Drones

In the wake of the fatal downing of an airliner over occupied Ukraine on 17 July, the Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe has issued an urgent solicitation to acquire an unmanned air vehicle capability to monitor the area.

The OSCE is conducting a special monitoring mission in Ukraine following the crash of the Boeing 777-200ER that is understood to have been brought down by a surface-to-air missile. The organisation now requires a UAV “turnkey solution” to aid with the assessment, and responses are due by Friday 25 July.

“The Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe (OSCE) hereby solicits your bid for a turnkey solution for provision of unarmed aerial vehicle (UAV) services in Ukraine in accordance with the requirements stipulated in the ITB [invitation to bid] documents,” the solicitation reads.

The shooting in the Ukrainian region of Donetsk – which has recently become occupied by pro-Russian rebels – resulted in the deaths of all 298 people on board the Malaysian Airways flight MH17 from Amsterdam to Kuala Lumpur.

Contemplating the Brexit

David Cameron didn't even come close to winning the fight. The British prime minister put his all into opposing Jean-Claude Juncker's appointment as the European Commission's new president, fearing that Juncker, Luxembourg's former prime minister and a stalwart of European politics, would only increase the power of the EU's institutions in Brussels -- the opposite of what Cameron, his party, and British voters seem to want.

In leaked comments, Cameron is even said to have warned German Chancellor Angela Merkel that Juncker's appointment could make a British exit from the EU more likely. Despite this, Juncker took up his post as commission president last Tuesday, after a European Council vote on his appointment last month called by Cameron saw the U.K. defeated 26-to-2. (Only Hungary's famously anti-Brussels prime minister, Viktor Orban, backed the U.K.)

Nevertheless, others in the EU did not casually dismiss Cameron's talk of Britain leaving. Downing Street won some concessions in the process, including acknowledgement that the EU's founding vision of an "ever closer union among the peoples of Europe" might not be for every member state. Many in the EU want to keep Britain attached.

Member states are right to worry about the possibility of a British exit from the European Union, a so-called "Brexit." Last year, Cameron promised voters that if his party wins re-election in 2015, they will hold an in-or-out referendum on the U.K.'s membership in the European Union before 2017. What a Brexit would mean for the EU's future -- and the future of the West more generally -- is unclear.

Tuesday, July 22, 2014

Ukraine: Offensive Patterns

Hey, BUK!  Lose some missiles somewhere?

Here's a link to a good video of the BUK.  Two other BUK were taken back across the border, too.

Yuvileyniy, Heorhiyivka and Severodonetsk have been taken by the Ukrainians in the Lugansk Oblast.

Fighting continues in Gorlovka, Lysychansk (right across the river from Severodonetsk) and Donetsk.

We have a report of car bomb which attacked a checkpoint near Kamianka in the Donetsk Oblast. Whether intentionally so or not, there was apparently a suicide bomber involved.

Artillery attacks continue from Russian territory. Likewise, arms continue to flow in. Russian troops continue to build up.

Another train bridge was blown in the Donetsk Oblast.

Middle East Respiratory Syndrome may be Airborne

The Middle East Respiratory Syndrome Coronavirus, better known as MERS, may be an airborne virus, according to an observation paper published Tuesday in the journal mBio.

There have been 836 laboratory-confirmed cases of MERS infection since its first appearance in 2012, according to the latest numbers provided by the World Health Organization. At least 288 related deaths have officially been reported to the WHO.

Scientists are still trying to figure out how the deadly virus is transmitted.

Researchers from King Fahd Medical Research Center in Saudi Arabia collected three air samples from a camel barn. Previously, they had found MERS in a camel from that barn and in its infected owner, who later died from the condition. After analyzing the air sample, the scientists found one strain of MERS RNA, the viral genome.

Interestingly, the barn air tested positive for MERS on the exact same day that one of the nine camels in the barn tested positive for MERS. Also, the virus from the air sample was identical to the virus found in nasal samples from the infected camel and its owner.

"These data show evidence for the presence of the airborne MERS in the same barn that was owned by the patient and sheltered the infected camels," the study authors write.

But does that mean MERS is easily transmitted through the air?


At least 288 have died and 834 people have been infected with the MERS virus.

INNCoin: A Gold Backed Crypto Currency & Rival for Bitcoin

US precious metals dealer Anthem Vault Inc said on Wednesday it has launched the first digital currency backed by physical gold, with an aim to increase the use of bullion as an accepted form of electronic money.

Las Vegas-based Anthem said it will launch 10 million "INNCoins" backed by 100 grams (3.5 ounces) of gold, with all coins expected to be in circulation by July 2015.

"It should make gold more acceptable as a form of currency by combining its appeal as a store of value and a much more efficient medium of exchange," said Anthem Blanchard, chief executive of Anthem Vault, who previously worked at online precious metals market GoldMoney.

Blanchard said Wednesday's launch was a promotional offering, and the company has plans to offer a full suite of virtual currencies backed by a larger amount of gold as well as other precious metals at the end of September.

INNCoin is a form of cryptocurrency - with the most notable one being bitcoin, which operates on a decentralized, peer-to-peer network, meaning no government, bank or administrator regulates the currency.

The system reward computers that solve complex mathematical problems by the occasional payoff of new bitcoins in a process known as bitcoin mining.


FAA to Have 5 Year Plan to Integrate Drones into US Air Space by September

FAA says it expected to complete a plan by September that would integrate unmanned aircraft systems (UAS) into national airspace over a five-year period. Earlier the Transportation Department’s Inspector General (IG) concluded that the agency would miss Congress’s September 2015 deadline for UAS integration, noting several significant barriers including a lack consensus on standards for detect-and-avoid systems and data links.

DARPA Delaying, Increasing Money to Robotic Challenge Teams due to Success of First Challenge

The Pentagon is giving more time and money to companies that have shown promise in fielding a humanoid robot.

Eleven of 16 firms that put their robot prototypes through their paces in June at have now been given an additional six months and $1.5 million each by the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency to continue their work, the Pentagon said on July 15.

The DARPA Robotics Challenge, or DRC, was originally scheduled to end with a winning robot in December, but has now been pushed back to June.

The 11 teams receiving DARPA funds will also be competing against privately funded teams, both domestic and international.

The Pentagon characterizes the humanoid robot it is looking to develop as an asset that could be deployed worldwide to assist first responders in rescue operations.

If there is also a weaponized version a la The Terminator anywhere in the plan the Pentagon has not said so.

The winning team of the DARPA Robotics Challenge will be awarded $2 million.

The extended time and increased budget was not because of missed timetables or disappointment with technologies, but actually because the trials held in Florida last December were so successful, according to a report in the National Defense, the news magazine of the National Defense Industry Association.

Japan, America Working to Defend Their Satellites From China's Capabilities

In May 2013 the Chinese government conducted what it called a science space mission from the Xichang Satellite Launch Center in southwest China. Half a world away, Brian Weeden, a former U.S. Air Force officer, wasn’t buying it. The liftoff took place at night and employed a powerful rocket as well as a truck-based launch vehicle—all quite unusual for a science project, he says.

In a subsequent report for the Secure World Foundation, the space policy think tank where he works, Weeden concluded that the Chinese launch was more likely a test of a mobile rocket booster for an antisatellite (ASAT) weapon that could reach targets in geostationary orbit about 22,236 miles above the equator. That’s the stomping grounds of expensive U.S. spacecraft that monitor battlefield movements, detect heat from the early stages of missile launches, and help orchestrate drone fleets. “This is the stuff the U.S. really cares about,” Weeden says.

The Pentagon never commented in detail on last year’s launch—and the Chinese have stuck to their story. U.S. and Japanese analysts say China has the most aggressive satellite attack program in the world. It has staged at least six ASAT missile tests over the past nine years, including the destruction of a defunct Chinese weather satellite in 2007. “It’s part of a Chinese bid for hegemony, which is not just about controlling the oceans but airspace and, as an extension of that, outer space,” says Minoru Terada, deputy secretary-general of Japan’s ruling Liberal Democratic Party.

Besides testing missiles that can intercept and destroy satellites, the Chinese have developed jamming techniques to disrupt satellite communications. In addition, says Lance Gatling, president of Nexial Research, an aerospace consultant in Tokyo, the Chinese have studied ground-based lasers that could take down a satellite’s solar panels, and satellites equipped with grappling arms that could co-orbit and then disable expensive U.S. hardware.

To defend themselves against China, the U.S. and Japan are in the early stages of integrating their space programs as part of negotiations to update their defense policy guidelines. In May, Washington and Tokyo discussed ways to coordinate their GPS systems to better track what’s going on in space and on the oceans. A recent Japanese cabinet decision eased long-standing limits on the military forces’ ability to come to the aid of allies under attack.


Paleocene–Eocene Thermal Maximum's Effect on the Epicontinental West Siberian Sea

Paleocene–Eocene warming and biotic response in the epicontinental West Siberian Sea


Frieling et al


We present a Paleocene–Eocene (ca. 60–52 Ma) sea-surface temperature record from sediments deposited in the epicontinental West Siberian Sea. TEX86 paleothermometry indicates long-term late Paleocene (∼17 °C ca. 59 Ma) to early Eocene (26 °C at 52 Ma) sea-surface warming, consistent with trends previously observed for the Southern Ocean and deep oceans. Photic zone and seafloor anoxia developed as temperatures rose by 7 °C to ∼27 °C during the Paleocene–Eocene Thermal Maximum (PETM). Based on paired palynological and TEX86 data, we suggest that the minimum temperature for the proliferation of Paleocene and early Eocene members of the dinoflagellate family Wetzelielloideae, which includes the PETM marker taxon Apectodinium, was ∼20 °C.

Long Term Northern Hemisphere Glaciation on Mars in Middle to Late Amazonian

An extended period of episodic northern mid-latitude glaciation on Mars during the Middle to Late Amazonian: Implications for long-term obliquity history


Fassett et al


Mars is the only planet other than Earth in the Solar System that has a preserved nonpolar geological record of glaciation on its surface. Nonpolar ice deposits on Mars have been linked to variations in spin-axis obliquity that cause mobilization of polar ice and redeposition at lower latitudes, forming ice-rich and glacial deposits. Remnant nonpolar glacial deposits are found across the northern mid-latitudes where surface ice is not currently stable, implying that different climatic conditions existed on Mars in the past. Individual glacial deposits are often too small to date reliably using impact crater size-frequency data. We describe a novel approach that allows us to derive new information about when glaciation occurred in broad areas of the northern mid-latitudes. In this region we have classified (1) craters that superpose preexisting glacial deposits and were modified by later accumulation (and therefore formed during an epoch when glaciation was occurring), and (2) craters that are superposed on glacial deposits but are themselves unmodified by ice accumulation (and thus post-date significant glaciation). The sparse population of post-glacial craters reveals that the last period of extensive ice deposition of this type in this latitude band was recent (Late Amazonian). The substantial number of craters formed during the recurring glacial periods implies that northern mid-latitude glaciation was a long-lived recurring process, occurring over a period of at least ∼600 m.y. On the basis of Mars atmospheric general circulation models, these results are consistent with higher obliquity being common in the past, with recurring periods of obliquity exceeding the 25° axial tilt of Mars today. These observations support the statistical prediction of J. Laskar and colleagues that the median obliquity during the Amazonian was ∼35°–40°.

Common Marmoset Genome Sequenced

With the sequence of the marmoset, the team revealed for the first time the genome of a non-human primate in the New World monkeys, which represents a separate branch in the primate evolutionary tree that is more distant from humans than those whose genomes have been studied in detail before. The sequence allows researchers to broaden their ability to study the human genome and its history as revealed by comparison with other primates.

A Titanosaur Sauropod From Maastrichtian Cretaceous Texas

New specimens of a titanosaur sauropod from the Maastrichtian of Big Bend National Park, Texas


Fronimos et al


New specimens of a titanosaur sauropod from Maastrichtian strata in Big Bend National Park, Texas, include well-preserved dorsal vertebrae in association with pelvic elements. Anterior dorsal vertebrae are characterized by postspinal and centroprezygapophyseal laminae, with spinodiapophyseal laminae convergent on the anterior base of the neural spine. Posterior dorsal vertebrae are characterized by postzygodiapophyseal laminae and divided spinodiapophyseal laminae, with spinoprezygapophyseal laminae contributing to the prespinal lamina. The ilium and pubis differ from specimens previously collected, indicating a greater morphological disparity among titanosaurs in the Maastrichtian of West Texas than previously recognized. This disparity may be attributable to intraspecific variation or to the presence of multiple taxa. The new material is compatible with the only presently known North American titanosaur, Alamosaurus sanjuanensis, but is not formally referred due to lack of overlap with the hypodigm of that species. Comparison with other derived titanosaurs finds the closest affinities to Trigonosaurus pricei, Uberabatitan riberoi, and Baurutitan britoi of the Upper Cretaceous Brazilian Bauru Group, consistent with a South American immigration event at the end of the North American sauropod hiatus.

Introducing Megaloptera: A Bug Fit for a Nicoll Incident

oh, James!


Patterns & Timing of Toarcian Jurassic Nanfossil Crisis

Pattern and timing of the Early Jurassic calcareous nannofossil crisis




The Toarcian calcareous nannofossil crisis associated with the early Toarcian Oceanic Anoxic Event (T-OAE) in the Early Jurassic period is thought to represent one of the most important biocalcification crises during the Mesozoic, occurring simultaneously with a profound disturbance of the carbon cycle. However, the causes are still under debate, particularly with regard to the pattern, timing of the biocalcification crisis, relative roles of intrinsic and extrinsic processes as drivers of the crisis, and also causal mechanisms of the T-OAE.

In this study, a new quantification of Toarcian calcareous nannofossil abundance and size is presented for the Sancerre borehole (Paris Basin, France). Beyond the recognition of a severe biocalcification crisis defined by the major drop in abundance, and the reduction in size of the most important pelagic carbonate producer Schizosphaerella punctulata, for the first time, this study proposes an insight into the pace and timing of the nannoplankton crisis. At Sancerre, the carbonate production of the lower Toarcian sediments previously attributed to obliquity forcing of climate allows to estimate a duration of ~ 210 kyr for the biocalcification crisis and of ~ 120 kyr for the shift towards lower carbon isotope values. The onset of the biocalcification crisis marked by a fertility event lasted ~ 60 kyr, and the calcium carbonate values remained low for ~ 150 kyr; the subsequent recovery of carbonate and nannoplankton lasted ~ 60 kyr and greater than 550 kyr, respectively. Additionally, a link between the biocalcification crisis, the seawater palaeotemperature, and the carbon isotope steps can be demonstrated. This covariance provides compelling evidence of fundamental change in the response of the climatic warming and the carbon cycle systems triggering the biocalcification crisis. These observations indicate that the biocalcification crisis can be regarded as a direct or indirect consequence of a global warming. Moreover, a deficiency of the biological pump is proposed here as a complementary casual mechanism for explaining the negative carbon-isotope excursion.

Evidence of a MesoArchean Impact in Greenland?

The Finnefjeld domain, Maniitsoq structure, West Greenland: Differential rheological features and mechanical homogenisation in response to impacting?


Garde et al


The 35 by 50 km large, Mesoarchaean Finnefjeld domain near Maniitsoq in the North Atlantic craton of southern West Greenland constitutes the central part of the previously proposed, deeply eroded Maniitsoq impact structure with an age of 3.0 Ga. The Finnefjeld domain is an exceedingly homogeneous, quartzo-feldspathic rock mass which superficially appears to be a late-orogenic, deep-crustal, intrusive granitoid pluton, and which was described as such for decades. However, new observations confirm and qualify the first observations from 1962 of these rocks as ‘cataclastic’. The Finnefjeld domain is characterised by a highly unusual, mixed rheological behaviour. Plagioclase displays brittle behaviour with cataclasis, quartz was ductilely deformed, and K-feldspar was melted. The deformation and homogenisation of the Finnefjeld domain was caused by an intense event of heating and deformation, which was coseismic in nature and comprised numerous increments of pure shear strain. This type of intense, brittle, regional deformation and concomitant direct mineral melting in the deep crust is unknown from endogenic orogenic events and is ascribed to deep-crustal effects of impacting.

Hard to Believe: Natural Gas Worse Than Coal, Oil for Global Warming

Both shale gas and conventional natural gas have a larger greenhouse gas footprint than do coal or oil, especially for the primary uses of residential and commercial heating.

Dr. Robert Howarth, a professor of ecology and environmental biology, came to this conclusion after assessing the best available data and analyzing greenhouse gas footprints for both methane (including shale gas and conventional gas) and carbon dioxide over a timescale of 20-years following emissions. The findings are published in Energy Science & Engineering.

"While emissions of carbon dioxide are less from natural gas than from coal and oil, methane emissions are far greater. Methane is such a potent greenhouse gas that these emissions make natural gas a dangerous fuel from the standpoint of global warming over the next several decades," said Dr. Howarth. "Society should wean ourselves from all fossil fuels and not rely on the myth that natural gas is an acceptable bridge fuel to a sustainable future."

China Warns Against Embracing Western Values

China's ruling Communist Party will step up ideological education of officials to prevent them from aping Western moral standards and strengthen their faith in communism to help in the fight against pervasive corruption, state media said.

"Profound social-economic changes at home and abroad have brought multiple distractions to officials who face loss of faith and moral decline," the official Xinhua news agency cited a statement from the party's powerful Organisation Department, which oversees personnel decisions.

"The conviction and morals of officials determine the rise and fall of the Communist Party and the country," Xinhua added, in a report late on Sunday.

"Officials should keep firm belief in Marxism to avoid being lost in the clamor for western democracy, universal values and civil society," it said.

The party has warned repeatedly that its members should not be lead astray by Western concepts of human rights and democracy, saying that China has the right to promote its own interpretation of such ideas to better suit its national condition and level of economic development.

US Disengagement has Consequences

American disengagement in the world is not consequence free. The new BRICS bank announced in Fortaleza by Brazil, Russia, India, China, and South Africa is largely a political exercise, which has been given a big boost by American indecision on IMF quota reform. U.S. detachment and inaction have given the BRICS the political cover to start something that would likely die with a whimper if Congress could muster the political will to pass IMF quota reform. The United States suffers from a lack of presidential leadership in the Bretton Woods arena; as we withdraw others fill the vacuum, and we cannot choose our replacements. American leadership always starts at the Presidential level, but Republicans share blame for the rise of the BRICS bank based on their inability to get IMF quota reform done in Congress.

The BRICS have complained about "vote" and "voice" in the Bretton Woods institutions. If we address the ostensible political grievances of countries like China and others at the IMF by passing quota reform their arguments for a BRICS bank largely collapse.

As long as the United States maintains implicit veto and influence over the selection the Bretton Woods institutions' leaders, we should accept marginal adjustments in shareholdings -- this has already happened at the World Bank, and the rest of the G20 has signed off on reform at the IMF. The IMF Quota reform is a good arrangement for the United States until a time when we can trade the U.S. held presidency at the World Bank for the managing director role at the IMF with the Europeans.

The international system still operates under the same essential structures and assumptions that were laid out in "the world America made" at the Bretton Woods Conference and elsewhere following WWII, and that international system works best under vigorous U.S. leadership. The BRICS bank is one of a growing number of efforts to "defect" (I think we should bring that verb back in its Cold War form) from an American led system, which serves both U.S. and world interests.

Monday, July 21, 2014

Ukraine: Patterns of Confusion, Obfuscation & Slaughter?

The fight has moved into Gorlovka and Donetsk.  Artillery is impacting in the former (those are mine tailings fyi in the video, not hills) and street fighting has started in the latter.

Government forces have taken Heorhiyika in Lugansk Oblast. There are reports they have all but encircled Lugansk itself. In the Donetsk Oblast, Dzerzhynsk, Rubizhne and Soledar have been taken.

There are reports another AN26 was shot down.

There are conflicting reports as to what is going on with the rebels.  One report states about six armoured vehicles were headed to the border from the Ukrainian side.  Another report stated there were 30 coming in from the Russian side.  Perhaps the former were damaged and needed to be serviced?

With regards to Flight MH17, the rebels have taken the bodies on a refrigerated train.  There were 283 bodies recovered, but the train has left for parts unknown.  Likewise, chunks of the aircraft were also recovered and taken away.  The black boxes were handed over from the rebels to the Malayasian authorities.  Some of the fragments of the fuselage have very strong evidence of shrapnel.

The Russians doubled down on claiming the Ukrainians were responsible.  The US has outright said the rebels did it.  The UN has stated there must be a full and independent international investigation.  I doubt this is really possible at this point with the tampering of the site by the rebels.

Medical Researchers Develop Soft to Track all the Cells in a Developing Embryo

Recent advances in imaging technology are transforming how scientists see the cellular universe, showing the form and movement of once grainy and blurred structures in stunning detail. But extracting the torrent of information contained in those images often surpasses the limits of existing computational and data analysis techniques, leaving scientists less than satisfied.

Now, researchers at the Howard Hughes Medical Institute’s Janelia Research Campus have developed a way around that problem. They have developed a new computational method that can rapidly track the three-dimensional movements of cells in such data-rich images. Using the method, the Janelia scientists can essentially automate much of the time-consuming process of reconstructing an animal's developmental building plan cell by cell.

Philipp Keller, a group leader at Janelia, led the team that developed the computational framework. He and his colleagues, including Janelia postdoc Fernando Amat, Janelia group leader Kristin Branson and former Janelia lab head Eugene Myers, who is now at the Max Plank Institute of Molecular Cell Biology and Genetics, have used the method to reconstruct cell lineage during development of the early nervous system in a fruit fly. Their method can be used to trace cell lineages in multiple organisms and efficiently processes data from multiple kinds of fluorescent microscopes.

The scientists describe their approach in a paper published online this week in Nature Methods.

MIT Explores Robopocalyptic Enhancements for the Human Hand

Twisting a screwdriver, removing a bottle cap, and peeling a banana are just a few simple tasks that are tricky to pull off single-handedly. Now a new wrist-mounted robot can provide a helping hand — or rather, fingers.

Researchers at MIT have developed a robot that enhances the grasping motion of the human hand. The device, worn around one’s wrist, works essentially like two extra fingers adjacent to the pinky and thumb. A novel control algorithm enables it to move in sync with the wearer’s fingers to grasp objects of various shapes and sizes. Wearing the robot, a user could use one hand to, for instance, hold the base of a bottle while twisting off its cap.

“This is a completely intuitive and natural way to move your robotic fingers,” says Harry Asada, the Ford Professor of Engineering in MIT’s Department of Mechanical Engineering. “You do not need to command the robot, but simply move your fingers naturally. Then the robotic fingers react and assist your fingers.”

Ultimately, Asada says, with some training people may come to perceive the robotic fingers as part of their body — “like a tool you have been using for a long time, you feel the robot as an extension of your hand.” He hopes that the two-fingered robot may assist people with limited dexterity in performing routine household tasks, such as opening jars and lifting heavy objects. He and graduate student Faye Wu presented a paper on the robot this week at the Robotics: Science and Systems conference in Berkeley, Calif.

Picture of Malayasian Airlines MH-17 Wreckage Shows Evidence of Shrapnel

The Financial Times posted a photo of what appears to be wreckage from the Malaysian Airlines jetliner peppered with shrapnel damage from an anti-aircraft missile.

The international community has pressed for an investigation into the cause of the Malaysian Airlines Flight MH-17 crash, However, many, including U.S. officials, have said the evidence points to pro-Russian separatists shooting down the passenger jet with an advanced surface-to-air missile system capable of hitting an aircraft flying at 33,000 feet.

The photographed wreckage above adds to that mounting collection of evidence.

SAM systems destroy aircraft by exploding in the airspace in which the aircraft is flying. The resulting shrapnel destroys the aircraft.

South Korean Joint Chiefs of Staff Endorse KF-X Stealth Fighter Program

South Korea's Joint Chiefs of Staff endorsed a plan on Friday for the country to design its own mid-level fighter jet, which a state think tank estimated will cost up to 8.5 trillion won ($8.24 billion) to develop.

Dubbed the KF-X programme, the fighter jet is expected to be built by the country's sole jet builder, Korea Aerospace Industries Ltd (KAI), after being co-developed with Lockheed Martin Corp, two people with direct knowledge of the matter said.

The Joint Chiefs said in a statement that they had endorsed a twin-engine fighter jet to be developed for delivery starting in 2025.

Oligocene to Miocene Australia was Wet AND Prone to Fire

Was the Oligocene–Miocene a time of fire and rain? Insights from brown coals of the southeastern Australia Gippsland Basin


Holdgate et al


Lithotype cycles (ranging from 10 to 30 m thick) in the brown coals of the Latrobe Valley, Gippsland Basin, Australia, display well-developed lightening-upward trends. Cycle tops are characterized by abrupt and unconformable boundaries with the overlying cycle. Geological, geochemical, palynological and macrofossil evidence is consistent with a relative drying (terrestrialization) upward depositional model for the cycles.

The abundance of charcoal in dark lithotypes near the cycle bases is explained by the fire-prone and highly flammable nature of the herbaceous/reed wetlands, in common with similar modern wetlands in modern Australasia, in which the dark lithotypes are suggested to have formed. This, together with the greater preservation potential of charcoal in subaqueous environments, results in the wettest facies of the Latrobe Valley coals having the highest charcoal contents. Despite prevailing warm, wet climate conditions and the predominance of rainforests that are suggested to have characterized the Cenozoic of southern Australia, some swamp taxa were clearly already pre-adapted to tolerate fire and are likely to have been the ancestors of the fire-adapted floral communities of modern arid Australia.

Late Noachian Gale Crater Alternated Between Very Cold and West Martian Climates

Paleosols and paleoenvironments of early Mars




Fluviolacustrine sediments filling Gale Crater on Mars show two levels of former exposure and weathering that provide new insights into late Noachian (3.7 ± 0.3 Ga) paleoenvironments of Mars. Diagnostic features of the two successive paleosols in the Sheepbed member include complex cracking patterns of surface dilation (peds and cutans), a clayey surface (A horizon), deep sand-filled cracks with vertical lamination (sand wedges), and replacive sulfate nodules aggregated into distinct bands (gypsic By horizon) above bedded sandy layers (sedimentary C horizon). Shallow gypsic horizon, periglacial sand wedges, and limited chemical weathering are evidence of a hyperarid frigid paleoclimate, and this alternated with wetter conditions for the lacustrine parent materials in Gale Crater during the late Noachian. Depletion of phosphorus, vesicular structure, and replacive gypsic horizons of these Martian paleosols are features of habitable microbial earth soils on Earth, and encourage further search for definitive evidence of early life on Mars.

Checking Teeth Plaque for Clues to Diet

A new study may provide evidence that our prehistoric ancestors understood plant consumption and processing long before the development of agriculture, according to a study published July 16, 2014 in the open-access journal PLOS ONE by Stephen Buckley from University of York and colleagues.

Evidence of plant consumption before the adoption of agriculture is difficult to find; such evidence is meaningful for understanding how much prehistoric people knew about the ecology and potential therapeutic properties of plants. Scientists in this study extracted and analyzed chemical compounds and microfossils from dental calculus (calcified dental plaque) from ancient human teeth at Al Khiday, a pre-historic site on the White Nile in Central Sudan, Africa. One of the five sites at Al Khiday is predominantly a burial ground of pre-Mesolithic, Neolithic, and Later Meroitic age remains. As a multi-period cemetery, it can provide us with a useful long-term perspective on any materials recovered there.

The authors chemically analyzed dental calculus samples from 14 individuals in the three different periods and found that humans ingested a certain plant, purple nut sedge, for at least 7,000 years, during both pre-agricultural and agricultural periods. As a good source of carbohydrates with potential medicinal and aromatic qualities, purple nut sedge—today regarded as a nuisance and considered to be the world's most costly weed— formed an important part of the prehistoric diet. In addition, the ability of the plant to inhibit a certain type of Streptococcus may explain the unexpectedly low level of cavities found in the population. According to the authors, the research suggests that prehistoric people living in Central Sudan may have understood both the nutritional and medicinal qualities of purple nut sedge as well as other plants.

Boreopterus giganticus: A new Boreopterid Pterosaur from Aptian Cretaceous China

A new boreopterid pterosaur from the Lower Cretaceous of western Liaoning, China, with a reassessment of the phylogenetic relationships of the Boreopteridae


Jiang et al


A new species of boreopterid pterosaur from the new fossil locality, Heichengzi, Beipiao, western Liaoning, China allows a reassessment of the Boreopteridae. In this new analysis, three species, Boreopterus cuiae, Boreopterus giganticus n. sp., and Zhenyuanopterus longirostris, are included within the Boreopteridae united by the autopomorphic occurrence of two main tooth morphologies, an equal length of the tibia and femur, and weak feet. Other taxa previously placed within the Boreopteridae are not in a monophyletic group with the former three species. Boreopterus has fewer teeth and a shorter tooth row than that in Zhenyuanopterus. This new Boreopterus species has a large size, a piriform orbit, an extensively fenestrated lacrimal, and a posteriorly directed lacrimal process, that differs from Boreopterus cuiae.

Fire Scars Found on Petrified Wood From Late Triassic Chinle Formation

First known fire scar on a fossil tree trunk provides evidence of Late Triassic wildfire


Byers et al


Fire scars are well known to fire ecologists and dendrochronologists worldwide, and are used in dating fires and reconstructing the fire histories of modern forests. Evidence of fires in ancient forests, such as fossil charcoal (fusain), is well known to paleontologists and has been reported in geologic formations dating back to the Late Devonian. We describe what we conclude is a fire scar on a fossil tree trunk from the Late Triassic Chinle Formation of southeastern Utah (~ 200–225 Ma). The external features of the prehistoric scar match those of modern fire scars better than those of scars created by other kinds of wounding events. The fossil specimen also exhibits a number of changes in wood anatomy similar to those reported in modern fire-scarred trees, including a band of very small tracheids that indicate growth suppression immediately associated with the scarring event; an area with a tangential row of probable traumatic resin ducts; and a significant increase in tracheid size following the scarring event that indicates a growth release. No fire scar resembling those in modern trees has previously been described in petrified wood as far as we can determine. The presence of a fire scar not only provides further evidence of ancient fires, but also shows that at least some individual trees survived them, indicating that fire could have been an ecological and evolutionary force in forests at least as early as the Late Triassic.

Crustal Formation in the NeoArchean and PaleoProterozoic of Tanzania

Neoarchean and Paleoproterozoic crust formation in the Ubendian Belt of Tanzania: Insights from zircon geochronology and geochemistry


Kazimoto et al


LA-ICP-MS U-Pb zircon geochronological and geochemical data of meta-igneous and metasedimentary rock types of the Katuma Block of the Paleoproterozoic Ubendian Belt in Tanzania are used to unravel the crustal evolution of this metalliferous terrain. The protoliths of the metabasites and orthogneisses previously considered to be Paleoproterozoic are in fact mostly Neoarchean in age (2713 ± 11 Ma to 2638 ± 5 Ma), from which the oldest rocks experienced their first metamorphism during the same Neoarchean orogenic cycle at ca. 2650 Ma. A second event of mafic magmatism (2021 ± 11 Ma) was concomitant with the migmatization of the Neoarchean orthogneisses and was succeeded by granitic intrusions at 1990–1940 Ma. All rocks of the Katuma Block experienced their main metamorphic reworking during several Paleoproterozoic orogenic events, which were recognized by dating of various metamorphic zircon growth zones and the age of magmatic events dated at ca. 2050, 1960 and 1880 Ma. The detritus of the high-grade metasedimentary rocks derived from Neoarchean (Katuma Block or Tanzania Craton?) and Paleoproterozoic provenances and the minimum age for the deposition is constrained by its first metamorphism at ca. 1960 Ma. The Neoarchean and Paleoproterozoic metabasites, gabbronorites and orthogneisses are sub-alkaline in composition displaying a REE and trace element geochemistry akin to those of rocks formed in modern-arc settings. On the basis of the geochemical data, the presence of eclogites, deformation and metamorphic ages, we suggest that in Paleoproterozoic time the Katuma Block was again at an active continental margin, below which a Paleoproterozoic oceanic lithosphere was subducting.

Lifting the one Child Policy Didn't Bring up the Birth Rate Much

WHEN China eased its one-child policy late last year, investors bet on a surge in demand for everything from pianos to nappies. They, and government officials, foresaw a mini-boom after long-constrained parents were allowed a second go at making babies.

So far, however, it is hard to identify a bedroom productivity burst. About 270,000 couples applied for permission to have second children by the end of May, and 240,000 received it, according to the national family-planning commission. It means China will fall well short of the 1m-2m extra births that Wang Peian, the deputy director of the commission, had predicted.

Saturday, July 19, 2014

5400 Geary Renderings


270 Brighton Rendering


603 7th Street Rendering


325 Fremont Rendering


2539 Telegraph, Berkeley Rendering


Evidence of a Continental Collision Within the North China Craton During the Late Orosirian PaleoProterozoic

Palaeoproterozoic metamorphic evolution and geochronology of the Wugang block, southeastern terminal of the Trans-North China Orogen


Lu et al


Amphibolites of the Wugang block in the Taihua metamorphic complex, which is located in the southeastern terminal of the Palaeoproterozoic Trans-North China Orogen (TNCO), preserve three generations of metamorphic mineral assemblages, i.e., the prograde (M1), peak (M2) and retrograde (M3) assemblages, forming during the Palaeoproterozoic tectono-metamorphic event. These amphibolites record metamorphic P–T conditions of 4.8–6.7 kbar/720–750 °C (M1), 9.0–10.6 kbar/710–780 °C (M2) and 7.1–8.5 kbar/700–780 °C (M3), which define clockwise P–T paths involving isothermal decompression (ITD). The metamorphic peak reached upper amphibolite facies, and high resolution in situ SIMS U–Pb dating of metamorphic zircons suggests that the peak metamorphism took place at 1.96–1.92 Ga in the Wugang block. The present new data suggest that the Wugang block was also involved in the continental collision between the Eastern and Western Blocks of the North China Craton (NCC) in the Palaeoproterozoic. Combining metamorphic and geochronological data concerning the TNCO obtained by previous scholars, it may be anticipated that the middle and southern sections of the TNCO were involved in a long-lived continental collision, and the collision event can be possibly traced back to as early as ∼1.96 Ga and lasted to as late as ∼1.80 Ga.

Airbus Offers to Make Poland 5th Nation for Helicopter Contract

Airbus Group is ready to offer Poland a sweeping partnership alongside its core European nations to support its bid for a major military helicopter contract, a senior executive told Reuters.

The proposal comes as Airbus Group competes with Sikorsky of the United States, a unit of United Technologies, and AgustaWestland, owned by Italy's Finmeccanica, in a contest to sell 70 rotorcraft worth an estimated $3 billion.

"We want to bring Poland in the direction of Europe and the Airbus Group in defense and especially on helicopters where they have two big tenders, one of which is already ongoing," Airbus Helicopters Chief Executive Officer Guillaume Faury said.

"We view this process as an accelerator and a catalyst for Poland to become the fifth Airbus nation," Faury said, adding there should be "more Europe in defense".

China's Neighbors are Worried About China's Ascent

FOR all the alarmist commentary in the international press, it still seems incredible that China’s tiffs with its neighbours about mainly tiny, uninhabited rocks in the South and East China Seas might lead to conflict. But a survey published this week by the Pew Research Centre, an American polling organisation, suggests that many of the people most directly affected, those living in Asia, fear just that.

The global survey covered 44 countries, 11 of them in Asia. Predictably, those countries with the most active territorial disputes with China were the most alarmed. In the Philippines, for example, which is engaged in a number of tussles with China in the South China Sea, 93% of respondents were “concerned” about the possibility of conflict.

Friday, July 18, 2014

Ukraine: Patterns of What?

Most of the news revolves around the shoot down of flight MH17.  Let's start there.

Assuming the audio above is accurate, the rebels had mltiple BUK-Ms.

The BUK which was used in the shootdown crossed the border back into Russia.

A very large number of nations are calling for a truce.  I don't think either side is going to accept it.

The OSCE has sent inspectors to the MH17 crash site.  The rebels denied them access.  The rebels claimed they found and sent the blackboxes to Moscow.  There has been at least one report the black boxes were found by the Ukrainians.  The US is sending the FBI and NTSB.

The Ukrainians claim they have taken the southeast portion of Lugansk.  They already hold the northwest portion.  

The rebels have claimed the Ukrainians are mad and attacking in a fury (related to the shoot down).

The flow of equipment into Ukraine has not stopped.  If intercepts are to be believed, the Russians are training the rebels on just the other side of the border on the equipment they are getting.  If the Ukrainians are to be believed, the Russians are coming across the border themselves in some of the equipment: supposedly around 300 troops.  No matter what, Ukraine still has a problem with the rebels.

XS-1 Concept Video

Dell Now Accepts Bitcoin

Now you can buy digital with digital – starting today, we’re accepting bitcoin on

We’re piloting bitcoin, the world’s most widely used digital currency, as a purchase option on for consumer and small business shoppers in the U.S. We’re excited to bring you the choice and flexibility this payment option offers and have partnered with Coinbase, a trusted and secure third party payment processor, to make this possible.

I’m excited to share in the coming days we’ll be offering a special Alienware promotion wherein customers can save 10 percent off a new Alienware system purchase (up to $150 limit) when checking out with bitcoin. Stay tuned to for more information on this exciting offer.

When you are ready to make a purchase, simply add the items to your cart and choose Bitcoin as the payment method. Checkout our special video guide on to see the bitcoin payment process in action.

We are moving more quickly to meet your needs. In fact, we were able to work with Coinbase to integrate bitcoin payment in just 14 days!

“We’ve fostered a close partnership with the Dell team and that’s been instrumental in getting the Coinbase integration up and running in such a short timeframe. We look forward to continuing to support the team as they explore other ways to offer even more functionality when it comes to bitcoin payments,” said Fred Ehrsam, Co-Founder of Coinbase.

We know you have some questions. We’ve tried our best to answer some of them below, but if you have others, be sure to check out the Terms & Conditions and our FAQ, or feel free to leave them in the comments below.

Rolls Royce is Bring the Robopocalypse for Marine Shipping

Ship captains of the future won't be salty sea dogs with their hand at the helm, and the ocean at their feet.

They won't even step on-board a boat, if revolutionary new technology is given the green light.

As Google unveils its driverless car, and Amazon tests out drones delivering goods to our door, could the high seas be the next frontier for robotic transport?

Crewless cargo ships, operated by remote control, could be sailing our globe within the next decade says luxury engineering company Rolls-Royce.

"The time is ripe for a fundamental change in shipping," insisted its vice-president of innovation, engineering and technology, Oskar Levander, while unveiling new concept boat designs.

"Camera technology can be far superior than the human eye when it's dark, or foggy, or raining," he said, speaking from his office in Norway.

But not everyone is so quick to jump on board.

"There's an argument that if you have too much technology, there's a tendency for human beings and seafarers to look at their screens rather than out their window," said Simon Bennett of the International Chamber of Shipping, in London.

"So your systems are telling you there's an iceberg a couple of miles away. But actually, if you looked out the window you'd realize you're about to smash into it."

The technology might be available now, but whether it'll actually make it onto our oceans will be down to maritime regulators -- a scenario Bennett dismisses as "very unlikely in the short-term future."

Could engineering company Rolls Royce -- which makes engines for airliners and military aircraft, and power systems for ships -- be the one to bring a change of tide?

In this futuristic vision of seafaring, captains would be relocated to onshore control centers, using real-time cameras to maneuver a fleet of ships.

Queen Elizabeth-class Aircraft Carrier Launched

The first of the UK Royal Navy's two new Queen Elizabeth-class aircraft carriers was officially launched on 17 July, marking another key milestone for the construction programme.

Queen Elizabeth , which was formally named by Her Majesty the Queen two weeks earlier, was floated out of the drydock where it was assembled during a ceremony held at BAE Systems' Rosyth facility in Scotland, officials said.

Sea trials for the 65,000-tonne lead ship are earmarked to start in late 2016, with entry into service expected in 2017.

Meanwhile, sister ship Prince of Wales is set to begin final assembly in the vacated dock in September.

Eurofighter’s Typhoon is Being Upgraded

Eurofighter’s Typhoon multi-role aircraft is being equipped with a new precision-guided, stealthy long-range cruise missile and an active electronically scanned array radar system, company officials said at the Farnborough International Air Show.

The enhancements are the latest in a series of technological upgrades for the roughly decade-old Typhoon fighter, a versatile supersonic aircraft now operated by the United Kingdom, Germany, Spain, Italy, Austria, Saudi Arabia and Oman. The aircraft entered service in 2003.

“The aircraft was always designed as a multirole aircraft with a focus toward air superiority. When it was initially delivered, the aircraft had excellent air superiority capability and the intent was always to add the multi-role capability as we went along,” Paul Smith, capability development manager, Typhoon operational test pilot, told Military​.com in an interview.

Global Environmental Response to the Cenomanian–Turonian Cretaceous Oceanic Anoxic Event was not Uniform

Geographically different oceanographic responses to global warming during the Cenomanian–Turonian interval and Oceanic Anoxic Event 2


Thomas et al


Oceanic Anoxic Event (OAE) 2 coincided with the Cenomanian–Turonian boundary ~ 93.9 Ma, and was one of the two most prominent and globally significant of the major mid-Cretaceous OAEs. A confluence of global warming, major large igneous province volcanism, and intensified hydrologic cycling preconditioned the earth system for widespread preservation of organic matter during OAE2; however the ultimate necessary ingredient was enhanced nutrient availability in oceanic surface waters. Here we present new Cenomanian–Turonian interval seawater Neodymium isotope data from the proto-Indian Ocean that demonstrates increased water column stratification during the pre- and post-OAE2 interval, punctuated by a transient decrease in this stratification immediately prior to the onset of OAE2 recorded at Ocean Drilling Program Site 763. The direct oceanographic responses to climate change on both longer- and short-term time scales observed in this region are distinct from those recorded in the northern, tropical and southern Atlantic basins. The transient de-stratification of the water column in the eastern proto-Indian Ocean likely did not contribute to the accumulation of organic-rich sediments in the region, indicating that weathering and/or hydrothermal inputs promoted enhanced surface water nutrient levels and hence primary productivity.

NASA Seeking Instruments for Europa Mission

What lies beneath the cracked, thick ice on the surface of Europa? NASA is hoping to fly a mission to the Jupiter moon in the coming years to see if it is indeed a promising site for life. If this concept is approved in the budget, think of the mission as a recce: NASA will either orbit the moon, or do several flybys on it, to scout the surface for science and potential landing sites.

NASA just announced its desire to have science instruments proposed for the mission. Of the submitted list, 20 proposals will be selected in a year’s time, when selectees will have $25 million to do a more advanced concept study.

“The possibility of life on Europa is a motivating force for scientists and engineers around the world,” stated John Grunsfeld, associate administrator for NASA’s science mission directorate. “This solicitation will select instruments which may provide a big leap in our search to answer the question: are we alone in the universe?”