Madame Butterfly

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  1. Updated: 08:53 AM EDT

    'Planet Xena' Has a Moon, Scientists Say



    LOS ANGELES (Oct. 2) - The astronomers who claim to have discovered the 10th planet in the solar system have another intriguing announcement: It has a moon.


    While observing the new, so-called planet from Hawaii last month, a team of astronomers led by Michael Brown of the California Institute of Technology spotted a faint object trailing next to it. Because it was moving, astronomers ruled it was a moon and not a background star, which is stationary.


    The moon discovery is important because it can help scientists determine the new planet's mass. In July, Brown announced the discovery of an icy, rocky object larger than Pluto in the Kuiper Belt, a disc of icy bodies beyond Neptune. Brown labeled the object a planet and nicknamed it Xena after the lead character in the former TV series "Xena: Warrior Princess." The moon was nicknamed Gabrielle, after Xena's faithful traveling sidekick.


    By determining the moon's distance and orbit around Xena, scientists can calculate how heavy Xena is. For example, the faster a moon goes around a planet, the more massive a planet is.


    But the discovery of the moon is not likely to quell debate about what exactly makes a planet. The problem is there is no official definition for a planet and setting standards like size limits potentially invites other objects to take the "planet" label.


    Possessing a moon is not a criteria of planethood since Mercury and Venus are moonless planets. Brown said he expected to find a moon orbiting Xena because many Kuiper Belt objects are paired with moons.


    The newly discovered moon is about 155 miles wide and 60 times fainter than Xena, the farthest-known object in the solar system. It is currently 9 billion miles away from the sun, or about three times Pluto's current distance from the sun.


    Scientists believe Xena's moon was formed when Kuiper Belt objects collided with one another. The Earth's moon formed in a similar way when Earth crashed into an object the size of Mars.


    The moon was first spotted by a 10-meter telescope at the W.M. Keck Observatory in Hawaii on Sept. 10. Scientists expect to learn more about the moon's composition during further observations with the Hubble Space Telescope in November.


    Brown planned to submit a paper describing the moon discovery to the Astrophysical Journal next week. The International Astronomical Union, a group of scientists responsible for naming planets, is deciding on formal names for Xena and Gabrielle.



    AP-ES-10-01-05 2008EDT

  2. Updated: 08:51 AM EDT

    Remote-Contolled Subs Explore 'Lost City'



    PROVIDENCE, R.I. (Oct. 2) - The ship with all the gadgets and underwater rovers was stationed in the middle of the Atlantic Ocean, but for the first time, the scientists directing the expedition were not on board. They sat in rooms thousands of miles away.


    The scientists and technicians, at universities in Rhode Island, Washington state and New Hampshire, watched 42-inch plasma television screens in awe as unmanned submersibles poked around the Lost City hydrothermal vents - a two football field- sized forest of limestone chimneys on the ocean floor.


    Wearing headsets, the expedition's leaders stationed at the University of Washington told engineers on the ship where to send the robotic vehicles and its high-definition video cameras, and what to explore next.


    "We're treated like the chief scientist on the ship that makes the decision about it. It's just that we're not there," said Deborah Kelley, a geology professor at the University of Washington in Seattle and the expedition's co-leader.


    Supporters said the trip, which ended Aug. 1, has broad implications for future exploration of the oceans, which cover about 70 percent of Earth but remain mostly unexplored. For one, it shows ships can stay out at sea for as many as eight months of the year, since the scientists no longer need to be on board.


    "No scientist will sit on (a ship) for that long, reading a book and eating popcorn for the whole time, no way," said Robert Ballard, the founder of the Titanic who's credited with dreaming up the technology used on the Lost City expedition.


    A combination of technology helped pull off the feat. The expedition used fiber-optic cables, satellite feeds, and a special, high-speed Internet connection to transmit images by the roving submersibles' lights and cameras at Lost City within 1.5 seconds - essentially live - to the three "control" rooms.


    The images broadcast to the land-based scientists were stunning, said Jeffrey Karson, a geology professor at Duke University and the expedition's co-leader. Karson, who explored Lost City in dives in 2000 and 2003, said the two submersibles, one shining a bright light over a wide area and the other filming with a high definition camera, gave scientists a more panoramic view of the vent field.


    "It was more like we could see the whole building, instead of just a room," Karson said.


    Lost City is a series of hydrothermal vents located at a north-south underwater mountain chain called the Mid-Atlantic Ridge, which splits nearly the entire Atlantic Ocean. The site yields dramatic video because its limestone chimneys created by crystallized fluids can reach 200 feet in height.


    Hydrothermal vents were first discovered by Ballard in 1977 near the Galapagos Islands in the Pacific. Those fields, called black smokers due to the color of the fluids released, are located around underwater volcanoes. But Lost City, discovered five years ago and nowhere near any undersea volcanoes, showed that vents could be found elsewhere. It's still the only vents of its kind found so far.


    Life is sustained there by the heat and gases emitted by the vents - a process that scientists believe is similar to what happened on Earth in its earliest days. That's one reason they explored and mapped the site in such detail.


    The underwater probes operated around the clock, to maximize the amount of research on the trip. The scientists in Seattle worked in six-hour shifts to keep a constant lookout for any finds. Meanwhile, the probes collected samples of the unique colonies of microscopic organisms that live around the vents, fluids and gases emitted, and the chimneys themselves. The samples are important, because scientists are still learning how Lost City works.


    "It has to do with this kind of life, this novel kind of life as far as we know on this planet," Karson said, "and it could be important in the history of life on this planet and perhaps on other planets."


    The trip was broadcast live four times a day at museums, science centers and aquariums, in schools, and at Boys and Girls Clubs nationwide. As examples, people watched the video at Pier Wisconsin in Milwaukee and at the Herrett Center for Arts and Science at the College of Southern Idaho in Twin Falls, Idaho. More than 2,000 4th and 5th graders at a dozen schools in the Clark County school district in Nevada tuned in. And, 16 students from Page Middle School in Madison Heights, Mich., shelved part of their summer break to watch and discuss the expedition through Ballard's program called Immersion Presents.


    Some came away with their imaginations aroused, said Dale Steen, director of technology for the Lamphere School District, which serves Madison Heights.


    "A couple of parents on the side said, 'You know what, my kid is so interested in underwater ROVS that they're building it with Legos,"' Steen said.



    10/02/05 04:23 EDT

  3. While many may not agree with the war in the Middle East, we must not lose sight that this war is faught by human beings. While you may not agree with the politics of the war, may we learn that they are our people fighting and giving their lives for what our free nations stand for, and they deserve your respect and compassion for what they are doing in the name of your country. Could you do what they are, if you were asked?







    Updated: 06:01 PM EDT

    Last Marine in Squad Mourns 11 Friends Killed in Bombing

    All but One in Close-Knit Unit Die in Roadside Attack in Iraq



    HADITHA DAM, Iraq (Oct. 1) - Cpl. David Kreuter had a new baby boy he'd seen only in photos. Lance Cpl. Michael Cifuentes was counting the days to his wedding. Lance Cpl. Nicholas Bloem had just celebrated his 20th birthday.





    Lance Cpl. Travis Williams




    Travis Williams remembers them all - all 11 men in his Marine squad - all now dead. Two months ago they shared a cramped room stacked with bunk beds at this base in northwest Iraq, where the Euphrates River rushes by. Now the room has been stripped of several beds, brutal testament that Lance Cpl. Williams' closest friends are gone.


    For the 12 young Marines who landed in Iraq early this year, the war was a series of hectic, constant raids into more than a dozen lawless towns in Iraq's most hostile province, Anbar. The pace and the danger bound them together into what they called a second family, even as some began to question whether their raids were making any progress.




    "They were like a family. They were the tightest squad I've ever seen."

    -Capt. Christopher Toland, platoon commander


    Now, all of the Marines assigned to the 1st Squad, 3rd Platoon, Lima Company, 3rd Battalion, 25th Regiment, based in Columbus, Ohio, are gone - except Williams. They died in a roadside-bomb set by insurgents on Aug. 3 that killed a total of 14 Marines. Most of the squad were in their early 20s; the youngest was 19.


    "They were like a family. They were the tightest squad I've ever seen," said Capt. Christopher Toland of Austin, Texas, the squad's platoon commander. Even though many did not know each other before they got to Iraq, "They truly loved each other."


    All that is left are photos and snippets of video, saved on dusty laptops, that run for a few dozen seconds. As they pack up to return home by early October, the Marines from Lima Company - including the squad's replacements - sometimes huddle around Williams' laptop in a room at the dam, straining to watch the few remaining moments of their young friends' lives. Some photos and videos carry the squad's adopted motto, "Family is Forever."


    In one video, Lance Cpl. Christopher Dyer, who graduated with honors last year from a Cincinnati area high school, strums his guitar and does a mock-heartfelt rendition of "Puff the Magic Dragon" as his friends laugh around him.


    In a photo, Kreuter rides a bicycle through a neighborhood, swerving under the weight of body armor and weapons, as Marines and Iraqis watch and chuckle.


    Each video ends abruptly, leaving behind a blank screen. Some are switched off as soon as they start - some images just hurt too much to see right now.


    The August operation began like most of the squad's missions - with a rush into another lawless Iraqi city to hunt insurgents and do house-to-house searches, sometimes for 12 hours in temperatures near 120 degrees.


    On Aug. 1, six Marine snipers had been ambushed and killed in Haditha, one of a string of cities that line the Euphrates, filled with waving palm trees. Two days later, Marines in armored vehicles, including the 1st Squad, rumbled into the area to look for the culprits.



    "I just had the basic view of the American public - it can't be that bad out there."

    -Lance Cpl. Travis Williams


    Like other cities in this region, Haditha has no Iraqi troops, and its police force was destroyed earlier in the year by a wave of insurgent attacks. Marines patrol roads on the perimeter and occasionally raid homes in the city, which slopes along a quiet river valley. Commanders say insurgents have challenged local tribes for control and claim Iraq's most wanted terrorist, Abu Musab al-Zarqawi, once had a home here.


    Since their arrival in February, the Marines had spent nearly all their time on such sweeps or preparing for them, sometimes hurrying back to their base to grab fresh clothes, then heading off again to cities that hadn't seen American or Iraqi troops in months.


    The intense pace of the operations, and the enormous area their regimental combat team had to cover - an expanse the size of West Virginia - caught some off guard.


    The combat was certainly not what the 21-year-old Williams had expected.


    "I didn't ever think we'd get engaged," said the soft-spoken, stocky Marine from Helena, Mont. "I just had the basic view of the American public - it can't be that bad out there."


    In some sweeps, residents warmly greeted the Marines. But in others, such as operations in Haditha and Obeidi near the Syrian border, the squad members met gunfire and explosions. In the Obeidi operation in early May, another squad from Lima Company suffered six deaths. Williams himself perhaps saved lives, once spotting a gunman hidden in a mosque courtyard, said Toland, the platoon commander.


    The night before the Aug. 3 operation, an uneasy Toland couldn't sleep. Instead he spent his last night with his squad members talking and joking, trying to suppress worries the mission was too predictable for an enemy that knew how to watch and learn.


    "I had concerns that the operation was hastily planned and executed, with significant risks and little return," Toland said.


    The road had been checked by engineers and other units, Marine commanders say. But insurgents had been clever - hiding the massive bomb under the road's asphalt.


    Several Humvees first drove over the bomb, but the triggerman in the distance apparently waited for a vehicle with more troops. Then, as the clanking sound of their armored vehicles neared, a massive blast erupted, caused by explosives weighing hundreds of pounds. It threw a 26-ton Amphibious Assault Vehicle into the air, leaving it burning upside-down.


    The blast was so large that Toland and his radioman, Williams - traveling two vehicles ahead and not injured - thought their vehicle had been hit by a bomb. They scrambled out to inspect the damage, but instead found the blazing carnage several yards down the road.


    A total of 14 Marines and one Iraqi interpreter were killed.



    There was no time for grieving - not at first. There was only sudden devastation, then intense anger as the Marines pulled the remains of their friends from the vehicle.


    Then there was frustration, as they fanned out to find the triggerman. Instead, they found only Iraqis either too sympathetic toward the insurgency, or too afraid, to talk.


    Although the bomb had been planted in clear view of their homes, residents claimed they had seen nothing of the men who had spent hours digging a large hole several feet deep and concealing the bomb.


    It was a familiar - and frustrating - problem.


    "They are totally complacent with what's going on here," said Maj. Steve Lawson of Columbus, Ohio, who commands Lima Company. "The average citizen in Haditha either wants a handout, or wants us to die or go away."


    In a war where intelligence is the most valued asset, the Marines say few local people will divulge "actionable" information that could be used to locate insurgents.


    Some Iraqis apparently fear reprisal attacks from militants. Many just want to stay out of the crossfire. Others hate the Americans enough to protect the insurgents: Marines say lookouts in cities would often launch flares as their vehicles approached.


    In this region ruled by Sunni tribal loyalties, few voted for the new central Iraqi government, and many suspect the U.S. military is punishing them and empowering their longtime rivals, the Shiites of the south and the Kurds of the north.


    "From a squad leader's perspective, the intelligence never helped me accomplish my mission," said Sgt. Don Owens, a squad leader in Lima Company from Cincinnati, who fought alongside the 1st Squad throughout their tour.


    "Their intelligence is better than ours," Owens said.


    The first night after the attack, Williams couldn't sleep. He stayed near his radio, listening to the heavy sobbing of fellow Marines that punctured the night around him.


    He thought of his best friend, Lance Cpl. Aaron Reed, a 21-year-old with a goofy demeanor and a perpetual smile, now dead.


    A world without his second family had begun. The young men Williams had planned to meet up with again, back in the States, had vanished in a matter of minutes. He was alone.


    Yet from a military standpoint, it was important to press on to show the enemy that even their best hits couldn't stop the world's most powerful military. The Marines were ordered away from the blast site, to hunt insurgents, just one hour after the explosion.


    They stayed out for another week, searching through dozens of homes in the nearby city of Parwana and struggling to piece together intelligence about who had planted the bomb.


    "I pushed them back out the door to finish the mission," said Lawson. "They did it, but they were crying as they pushed on."


    As word spread back in the United States that 14 men had been killed, the Marines on the ongoing mission couldn't even, at first, contact their families to let them know they had survived.


    Marine commanders say the large-scale raids in western Anbar province have kept the insurgency off-balance, killing hundreds of militants and leaving a dwindling number of insurgent bases in the area.


    They say the sweeps are critical to beat back the insurgent presence in larger cities such as Ramadi and Baghdad, where suicide bombings have been rampant.


    But, among some Marines and even officers, there are doubts whether progress has been made.


    The insurgents lurk nearby - capable of launching mortars and suicide car bombs and quietly re-entering cities soon after the Marines return to their bases on the outskirts.


    "We've been here almost seven months and we don't control" the cities, said Gunnery Sgt. Ralph Perrine, an operations chief in the battalion from Brunswick, Ohio. "It's no secret."


    Even commanders acknowledge that with the limited number of U.S. and Iraqi troops in the region, the mission is focused on "disrupting and interdicting" the insurgency - that is, keeping them on the run - and not controlling the cities.


    "It's maintenance work," said Col. Stephen W. Davis, commander of all Marine operations in western Anbar. "Because this out here is where the fight is, while the success is happening downtown while the constitution is being written and while the referendum is getting worked out. ... If I could bring every insurgent in the world out here and fight them all day long, we've done our job."


    For Williams, the calculation is much more visceral and personal.


    "Personally, I don't think the sweeps help too much," he said quietly on a recent day, sitting in a room at the dam, crowded with Marines resting from a late mission the night before.


    "You find some stuff and most of the bad guys get away. ... For as much energy as we put in them, I don't think the output is worth it," he said.


    Williams, a Marine for three years, has decided not to re-enlist.


    Instead, in these last days in Iraq, he thinks of home and fishing in the clear streams of Montana. He hopes to open a fishing and hunting gear shop once he returns and complete his bachelor's degree in wildlife biology. He looks forward to seeing his mother, his only surviving parent, and traveling to her native Thailand this fall.


    He said his "best memory" will be the day he leaves Iraq. His only good memories, he said, are of his friends:


    Of Dyer, 19, an avid rap music fan who would bop his head to Tupac Shakur. He played the viola in his high school orchestra and had planned to enroll in a finance honors program at Ohio State University.


    Of Reed, his best friend. He was president of his high school class from Chillicothe, Ohio, and left behind a brother serving in Afghanistan.


    Of Cifuentes, 25, from Oxford, Ohio. He was enrolled in graduate school in mathematics education and had been working as a substitute teacher when he was deployed.


    "I think the most frustrating thing is there's no sense of accomplishment," Williams said. "You're biding your time and waiting. But then you lose your friends, and it's not even for their own country's freedom."


    Associated Press reporter Antonio Castaneda spent three weeks in western Anbar province in Iraq with Marines in Lima Company, 3rd Battalion, 25th Regiment, 4th Division, earlier this year. He was with the unit when they led an offensive into the city of Haditha in late May. And he returned to the area after an August blast killed 14 Marines - and shortly before the unit began demobilizing to return to the United States by early October.


    The ranks listed for the Marines were those they held when they were killed. Some of the men were promoted posthumously.


  4. The  Halibuts - "Chumming"





    :assimilated: :P :dude:





    So.....which one of these guys is your brother?


    Great cd, by the way!




    The keyboardist. :P

  5. I had a weird experience yesterday. As many of you know, my son went off to college this year so his room here is empty. When I went to bed the other day, I heard music coming out of his room. I entered and a clock radio was on playing this weird music that you might hear at a military funeral or something. The funny thing is......this clock radio has never been used. When my son was living here, he used another alarm clock which he took with him. I ask my wife if she turned it on and she didn't. Nobody else lives here. The weird music unnerved me a bit so I immediately called my son to see if he was ok. Thankfully he was. I still can't figure out how this clock radio which has never been used managed to turn itself on.




    Theyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyy're here!!!! :assimilated: :P



    Actually, I had things like that happen shortly after my Father died.


    The radio in the kitchen would turn on and off while we were sitting at the table [on the other side of the room] eating, the lights would go on and off over the kitchen table but no where else in the room.


    I finally just said "ok, I know you're here, now knock it off." And it stopped.

  6. :P I used to be with someone who could find a way to find a horrible tease with any name you liked.


    He chose to name one of his children Kelly. I was amazed, because smelly kelly is an easy taunt for children. :assimilated:



    SNL did an excellent skit over this years ago where the husband was very sensitive about his name, and his wife and he were trying to figure out a name for the child she was expecting.


    It turns out his name was

    Click For Spoiler
    johnny asswipe

  7. I don't believe in naming a child after a parent.


    I don't believe in giving the child the first name of any living relative at all.


    I do not have a problem with giving the child a middle name after a parent or a relative though.


    I believe that each person is an individual and that their name should be their own, and have no expectations as "Johnny will be just like his Daddy". The child should be just like themselves.