The deepest image of the universe

While Hubble has given us many amazing images, one of the most profound is this one from 2004, which took nearly 3 months of staring at the same spot to yield a glimpse back in time to when the universe was only 5% formed. You can enlarge the detail, by additionally clicking on the picture to see a myriad of galaxies.

Iran replaces Syria in Southern Lebanon

Telegraph | News | Iran's spies watching us, says Israel
"When the Syrians were in Lebanon it was easy for us to control Hizbollah," said an officer with Israel's northern command. "If things got too tense we could put pressure on Damascus and the Syrians would act quickly to calm things down."

Although the Lebanese government technically controls the border area, its military is not considered strong enough to control Hizbollah, which takes its orders directly from Teheran.

Are You a Global Warming Skeptic? Part III

Are You a Global Warming Skeptic? Part III: BLOG: SciAm Observations
As promised, here is the updated list of misgivings about whether global warming is occurring and whether it is caused by human activity. I've incorporated comments from the first and second threads and from private emails, and I've reshuffled some of the categories. I've done my best to be fair in representing the variety of opinion.

Castro could drill off Florida coast

Castro could drill off Florida coast
Who can blame him? Castro has for years looked for new opportunities to develop his economy in the face of our trade embargo. He could only expect to rely on Venezuelan President Hugo Chávez's oil and gas giveaway for so long. So, with the intention of claiming billions of dollars in new revenues and reducing his country's dependence on foreign energy, Castro has taken to the high seas in an effort to acquire and produce as much oil and gas as he can. Continue reading “Castro could drill off Florida coast”

Venezuela buys Russian oil to avoid defaulting on deals / World / Americas – Venezuela buys Russian oil to avoid defaulting on deals
Venezuela, the world's fifth-largest oil exporter, has struck a $2bn deal to buy about 100,000 barrels a day of crude oil from Russia until the end of the year.
Under President Hugo Chávez, PDVSA's oil output has declined by about 60 per cent, a trend analysts say has accelerated in the past year because of poor technical management.

Mr Chávez's push to extend his influence throughout Latin America and the Caribbean with promises of cheap oil for friends and allies may be overstretching PDVSA's finances, however. Venezuela currently supplies about 300,000 barrels per day of oil and products to Cuba, Nicaragua and others under favourable long-term financing arrangements. This week, Venezuela signed a deal to send oil to town mayors in Nicaragua aligned with the leftwing Sandinista party. Continue reading “Venezuela buys Russian oil to avoid defaulting on deals”

U.S. Internet Use Hits New Highs

Pew Internet & American Life Project Report: Internet Penetration and Impact
Surveys fielded in 2006 show that internet penetration among adults in the U.S. has hit an all-time high. While the percentage of Americans who say they use the internet has continued to fluctuate slightly, our latest survey, fielded February 15 – April 6, 2006 shows that fully 73% of respondents (about 147 million adults) are internet users, up from 66% (about 133 million adults) in our January 2005 survey. And the share of Americans who have broadband connections at home has now reached 42% (about 84 million), up from 29% (about 59 million) in January 2005. Continue reading “U.S. Internet Use Hits New Highs”

Last Ninja: ‘Be Able to Kill Your Students’

Last Ninja: ‘Be Able to Kill Your Students’ on Yahoo! News
Hatsumi is the only living student of the last “fighting ninja,” Toshitsugu Takamatsu, the so-called 33rd Grand Master who was a bodyguard to officials in Japanese-occupied Manchuria before World War II and fought — and won — 12 fights to the death.

Today, Hatsumi’s enemies are stereotypes and flagging interest in the ancient art. He seeks to leave the task to a worthy successor as speculation mounts about his retirement.

Most Japanese are exposed to martial arts in school. But the number practicing judo has been declining since the 1980s as more people turn to Western sports like golf and tennis. Sumo also has fallen on hard times, forcing the Japan Sumo Association to import stars.

Mexico to decriminalizing pot and cocaine

Mexico proposes decriminalizing pot and cocaine |
Police will not penalize people for possessing up to 5 grams of marijuana, 5 grams of opium, 25 milligrams of heroin or 500 milligrams of cocaine, under a bill passed by senators late on Thursday and earlier approved by the lower house.

The government says the measure allows police to focus on major drug dealers, and President Fox is expected to sign it into law.

UPDATE  In a surprise reversal, Mexican President Vicente Fox will not sign a widely criticized reform to decriminalize. Fox's decision was unexpected, given that the legislation was initially designed by his office and introduced by his party.

Rush Limbaugh’s Booking Blotter

Here is the link to the Palm Beach Sherrif’s Office to see the booking. Thanks to Jeff Ullian.
. . Call it vanity, call it good PR, but Palm Beach-based conservative talkmeister Rush Limbaugh seemed very concerned about his mug shot when he was booked at the county jail on a doctor-shopping charge Friday evening. Apparently not wanting anything close to the famous arrest photos of actor Nick Nolte and soul man James Brown, the White House apologist actually asked the deputy whether he could see his photo before leaving the jail. “We put it on the computer screen and showed it to him,” said jail boss Capt. Mark Chamberlain. The porky-again radio host must have liked what he saw; he didn’t ask for a re-shoot. . .

France’s Plan: Pay ‘Em To Go Home

By Carol Matlack
As demonstrations intensify and legislation stalls in the U.S. over the status of illegal immigrants, France has been taking another tack. It's offering cash payments — the equivalent of about $2,400 per adult and $600 per child — to illegals who agree to return to their native countries. The government began to offer the payments last September but so far has found fewer than 200 takers. Now, law-and-order Interior Minister Nicolas Sarkozy is urging officials to cut the program's red tape to make participation easier, according to the French daily Le Figaro, which obtained a copy of an Interior Ministry memo sent to local officials. But critics say the payments are too low to entice many of France's estimated 400,000 illegals to say adieu.

Meanwhile, France is getting tougher on those who don't leave voluntarily. Since 2002, the number of illegals expelled annually from the country has doubled, to 20,000 last year. At the same time, Sarkozy is spearheading legislation to make it easier for well-educated, highly skilled immigrants to enter the country. Sarkozy, the front-runner in the 2007 French presidential race, is himself the son of an immigrant. His father fled communist Hungary in 1949 and was granted refugee status in France.

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