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Archive for May 7th, 2011

Al Qaeda confirms bin Laden is dead, vows revenge

Posted by Admin on May 7, 2011

http://in.news.yahoo.com/al-qaeda-confirms-bin-laden-death-monitoring-group-122219860.html

By Augustine Anthony | Reuters – Fri, May 6, 2011

ISLAMABAD (Reuters) – Al Qaeda confirmed on Friday that Osama bin Laden is dead, dispelling doubts by some Muslims that the group’s leader had really been killed by U.S. forces, and vowed to mount more attacks on the West.

The announcement by the Islamist network, which promised to publish a taped message from bin Laden soon, appeared intended to show its adherents around the globe that the group has survived as a functioning network.

In a statement online, it said the blood of bin Laden, shot dead by a U.S. commando team in a raid on Monday on his hideout in a Pakistani town, “is more precious to us and to every Muslim than to be wasted in vain.”

“It will remain, with permission from Allah the Almighty, a curse that hunts the Americans and their collaborators and chases them inside and outside their country.”

Al Qaeda urged Pakistanis to rise up against their government to “cleanse” the country of what it called the shame brought on it by bin Laden’s shooting and of the “filth of the Americans who spread corruption in it.”

“Before the sheikh passed from this world and before he could share with the Islamic nation in its joys over its revolutions in the face of the oppressors, he recorded a voice recording of congratulations and advice which we will publish soon, God willing,” the militant group said.

The statement also warned Americans not to harm bin Laden’s corpse and to hand it and those of others killed to their families, although U.S. officials say bin Laden’s body has been buried at sea and no other bodies were taken from the compound.

Some in the Muslim world have been skeptical of bin Laden’s death. One survey conducted in Pakistan this week by the British-based YouGov polling organization found that 66 percent of over 1,000 respondents did not think the person killed by U.S. Navy SEALs was bin Laden.

Anger and suspicion between Washington and Islamabad over the raid in Abbottabad, 30 miles (50 km) from the Pakistani capital, showed no sign of abating.

A U.S. drone killed 17 suspected militants in northwest Pakistan, despite warnings from the Pakistani military against the mounting of attacks within its borders. About 1,500 Islamists rallied in the southwestern city of Quetta to vow revenge for bin Laden’s death and there were small protests elsewhere. Afghan Taliban and Islamist Indonesian youths made similar threats.

“FIVE YEARS” IN COMPOUND

One of bin Laden’s wives, Amal Ahmed Abdulfattah, told Pakistani interrogators the al Qaeda leader had been living for five years in the compound where he was killed, a Pakistani security official told Reuters.

The revelation appeared sure to heighten U.S. suspicions that Pakistani authorities have been either grossly incompetent or playing a double game in the hunt for bin Laden and the two countries’ supposed partnership against violent Islamists.

Pakistani security forces took 15 or 16 people into custody from the Abbottabad compound after U.S. forces removed bin Laden’s body, said the security official. They included bin Laden’s three wives and several children.

In Washington, a U.S. official said U.S. intelligence had established on-the-ground surveillance in Abbottabad in advance of the raid.

U.S. officials also said among materials found at bin Laden’s hideout was some evidence indicating al Qaeda had at one point considered attacking the U.S. rail system on the 10th anniversary of the Sept. 11 attacks later this year.

The fact that bin Laden was found in a garrison town — his compound was not far from a military academy — has embarrassed Pakistan and the covert raid has angered its military.

Pressure is building in the U.S. Congress to suspend or at least review U.S. aid to Pakistan. Republican Representative Ted Poe has introduced a bill to ban more aid until Secretary of State Hillary Clinton can certify Pakistan did not know bin Laden’s whereabouts, or if it did, told the U.S. government.

The Pakistan army, for its part, threatened on Thursday to halt counterterrorism cooperation with the United States if it conducted any more similar raids.

It was unclear if such attacks included drone strikes which the U.S. military regularly conducts against militants along Pakistan’s border with Afghanistan.

Pakistani security officials have charged that U.S. troops, after landing by helicopter, shot the unarmed al Qaeda leader in cold blood rather than in a firefight, as U.S. officials first suggested.

Amid differing accounts this week of how much hostile fire the SEALS encountered in the compound, one Pakistani security official said on Friday that U.S. forces should release video footage he said they “must have” of the operation.

U.N. human rights investigators called on the United States to disclose the full facts “to allow an assessment in terms of international human rights law standards.”

“It will be particularly important to know if the planning of the mission allowed an effort to capture bin Laden,” Christof Heyns and Martin Scheinin said in a joint statement.

FEW QUALMS AMONG AMERICANS

The Pakistani military also said on Thursday it had decided to reduce the U.S. military presence in the country.

In Washington, Pentagon spokesman Colonel David Lapan said the Defense Department had not received notice from Islamabad about any decision to change the size of the U.S. military contingent in Pakistan. He said there are a little under 300 U.S. military personnel in Pakistan, many of them trainers.

Few Americans appear to have qualms about how bin Laden was killed, and on Thursday people cheered President Barack Obama when he visited the site of New York’s Twin Towers, leveled by al Qaeda on Sept. 11, 2001, killing nearly 3,000 people.

Seeking to repair ties, U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton said in Rome on Thursday that Washington was still anxious to maintain its alliance with Islamabad.

(Additional reporting by Erika Solomon in Dubai, Michael Georgy in Islamabad and David Alexander, Susan Cornwell and Mark Hosenball in Washington; writing by Andrew Roche and Patrick Worsnip; editing by Eric Beech)

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Moon Microbe Mystery Finally Solved

Posted by Admin on May 7, 2011

Apollo Program insignia

Assuaging One's Guilt

http://in.news.yahoo.com/moon-microbe-mystery-finally-solved-010403320.html

By Leonard David, SPACE.com’s Space Insider Columnist,
Space.com | SPACE.com – Sat, May 7, 2011

READ ON TO UNDERSTAND THE EXTENT TO WHICH DISINFORMATION AND WHITE LIES ARE MIXED UP IN A CONFLAGRATION OF DEADLY COCKTAILS TO DIS EMPOWER YOUR SOVEREIGNTY AND CURIOSITY AND MOST IMPORTANTLY YOUR DISCRIMINATION

There has been a long-lived bit of Apollo moon landing folklore that now appears to be a dead-end affair: microbes on the moon.

The lunar mystery swirls around the Apollo 12 moon landing and the return to Earth by moonwalkers of a camera that was part of an early NASA robotic lander – the Surveyor 3 probe.

On Nov. 19, 1969, Apollo 12 astronauts Pete Conrad and Alan Bean made a precision landing on the lunar surface in Oceanus Procellarum, Latin for the Ocean of Storms. Their touchdown point was a mere 535 feet (163 meters) from the Surveyor 3 lander — and an easy stroll to the hardware that had soft-landed on the lunar terrain years before, on April 20, 1967. [Video: Apollo 12 Visits Surveyor 3 Probe]

The Surveyor 3 camera was easy pickings and brought back to Earth under sterile conditions by the Apollo 12 crew. When scientists analyzed the parts in a clean room, they found evidence of microorganisms inside the camera.

In short, a small colony of common bacteria — Streptococcus Mitis — had stowed away on the device.

The astrobiological upshot as deduced from the unplanned experiment was that 50 to 100 of the microbes appeared to have survived launch, the harsh vacuum of space, three years of exposure to the moon’s radiation environment, the lunar deep-freeze at an average temperature of minus 253 degrees Celsius, not to mention no access to nutrients, water or an energy source. [Photos: Our Changing Moon]

Now, fast forward to today.

NASA’s dirty little secret?

A diligent team of researchers is now digging back into historical documents — and even located and reviewed NASA’s archived Apollo-era 16 millimeter film — to come clean on the story.

As it turns out, there’s a dirty little secret that has come to light about clean room etiquette at the time the Surveyor 3 camera was scrutinized.

“The claim that a microbe survived 2.5 years on the moon was flimsy, at best, even by the standards of the time,” said John Rummel, chairman of the Committee on Space Research (COSPAR) Panel on Planetary Protection. “The claim never passed peer review, yet has persisted in the press — and on the Internet — ever since.” [Coolest New Moon Discoveries]

The Surveyor 3 camera-team thought they had detected a microbe that had lived on the moon for all those years, “but they only detected their own contamination,” Rummel told SPACE.com.

A former NASA planetary protection officer, Rummel is now with the Institute for Coastal Science & Policy at East Carolina University in Greenville, N.C.

Rummel, along with colleaguesJudith Allton of NASA’s Johnson Space Center and Don Morrison, a former space agency lunar receiving laboratory scientist, recently presented their co-authored paper: “A Microbe on the Moon? Surveyor III and Lessons Learned for Future Sample Return Missions.”

Poor space probe hygiene

Their verdict was given at a meeting on “The Importance of Solar System Sample Return Missions to the Future of Planetary Science,” in March at The Woodlands,Texas, sponsored by the NASA Planetary Science Division and Lunar and Planetary Institute.

“If ‘American Idol’ judged microbiology, those guys would have been out in an early round,” the research team writes of the way the Surveyor 3 camera team studied the equipment here on Earth. Or put more delicately, “The general scene does not lend a lot of confidence in the proposition that contamination did not occur,” co-author Morrison said.

For example, participants studying the camera were found to be wearing short-sleeve scrubs, thus arms were exposed. Also, the scrub shirt tails were higher than the flow bench level … and would act as a bellows for particulates from inside the shirt, reports co-author Allton.

Other contamination control issues were flagged by the researchers.

In simple microbiology 101 speak, “a close personal relationship with the subject … is not necessarily a good thing,” the research team explains.

All in all, the likelihood that contamination occurred during sampling of the Surveyor 3 camera was shown to be very real.

A cautionary tale

On one hand, Rummel emphasized that today’s methods for handling return samples are much more effective at detecting microbes.

However, the Surveyor 3 incident back then raises a cautionary flag for the future.

“We need to be orders of magnitude more careful about contamination control than was the Surveyor 3 camera-team. If we aren’t, samples from Mars could be drowned in Earth life upon return, and in all of that ‘noise’ we might never have the ability to detect Mars life we may have brought back, too,” Rummel said. “We can, and we must, do a better job with a Mars sample return mission.”

Winner of this year’s National Space Club Press Award, Leonard David has been reporting on the space industry for more than five decades. He is past editor-in-chief of the National Space Society‘s Ad Astra and Space World magazines and has written for SPACE.com since 1999.

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