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Sunday, December 12, 2010

Can you focus on the content of this blog?

Huffington Post has an interesting note on the value and dangers of  Distractions

Sunday Morning News and Views, part II

Los Angeles police say a driver lost control of his car before it became airborne and crashed into two houses. The crash early Sunday left the front and back ends of the car jammed into the sides of the two homes, with the vehicle several feet off the ground. Authorities were trying to determine how to move the vehicle without causing further damage to the houses. Police say the driver was arrested for driving under the influence.

British police do not usually name suspects until they are "Another brick in the wall." ...Police have arrested the son of Pink Floyd guitarist David Gilmour after he was photographed climbing a war memorial during violent student protests. Pictures of 21-year-old Charlie Gilmour swinging from the flag on the Cenotaph ran in many British newspapers. Police said a 21-year-old man was arrested Sunday on suspicion of violent disorder, theft and "attempted criminal damage of the Union flag on the Cenotaph."

This morning National Public Radio's Weekend Edition Sunday host Liane Hansen spoke with Caltech Astronomer Dr. Mike Brown about his new book, "How I Killed Pluto and Why It Had It Coming." In searching for a tenth planet, Dr. Brown unwittingly became responsible for the demotion of the ninth to a "dwarf planet." His fatal discovery for Pluto, as a planet, came while searching through ice dwarfs and formations (or cosmic dabree) which behaved like Pluto, which does not "act" like a planet.

She followed that with Ben Burtt, the renowned sound designer of the "Star Wars" and "Raiders of the Lost Ark" film series, and Jonathan Rinzler, author of the new book/audio collection, "The Sounds of Star Wars."  The sounds of light sabers, Darth Vader's breathing, flying through the caverns of the death star and the language of R2D2 are recognisable within the first one to five seconds by most people across the globe. Even the actor in recent Star Wars movies make the sounds of the first three films (Episodes IV, V and VI) while filming fight scenes, flying or other action scenes.  Burtt and Rinzler guests spoke about the sounds specific to the "Star Wars" movies, how they were made, and the role of the sound designer in film production.Vader came from slowing down the sound of breathing in a scuba mask. R2D2 is not a synthesizer sound, which sounded as if he did not have a soul, but from improvising language with George Lucas while discussing what R2 should sound like, then processing it through a keyboard instrument.The light sabres? They were inspired by a combination of the sound of a 35mm motion picture motor and electronic interference "hum" mixed and processed through a computer.

It was a whirlwind week in Washington ... first the President made a deal with the Republicans on the Bush tax cuts.. then the House Democrats staged a full-fledged revolt, and they could end up refusing to bring the deal up for a vote in the lame-duck Congress. The president called Republicans hostage-takers and his fellow Democrats who wanted to keep fighting about the cuts sanctimonious and purists. The week ended with the surprise appearance in the White House briefing room of President Obama and former president Bill Clinton, seemingly reversing roles as Obama went off to meet his wife and left former President Clinton to face the White House Press Corp. himself. By all reports Clinton was a fish swimming in his own folksy element.

Republicans want to cut off funding for the victims of 9-11, at least those dependant on a vital service. The health centers providing free medical care to 58,000 people exposed to World Trade Center dust face an uncertain future if Congress doesn't pass legislation aimed at helping victims. Senate Republicans last week blocked action on a bill providing up to $3.2 billion for medical programs for people who fell ill after breathing in ash and dust at ground zero.

Republican Congressman-elect Joe Heck of Nevada has yet to cast a vote in the U.S. House, but his politics are already under attack. The liberal Americans United for Change put up a billboard Friday in Las Vegas demanding Heck reconsider his campaign to repeal the new health care law or give up the
government-subsidized health care he's slated to receive as a congressman. Heck represents the mostly "rural" portions of Clark County from Boulder City and Lauglin to Lake Las Vegas, portions of Henderson and Mesquite.

Students and former officials are suing Maryland for not adequately funding the state's four historically black colleges and universities. The plaintiffs charge that the state has essentially maintained two separate systems of higher education, and has duplicated programs in order to make it easier for white students to avoid attending HBCU's.

If violence flares between North and South Sudan over secession, it's likely to start in Abyei, a disputed county and town that lies in the north but is occupied by a Southern tribe, the Dinka. Northern soldiers burned much of the town to the ground in 2008 and a tribe of nomadic cattle herders called the Messeriya did their fair share of looting. A secession referendum is supposed to be held in Abyei on Jan. 9, but it's likely to be postponed or cancelled. The Messeriya are demanding voting rights and threatening war if they don't get them. The Dinka are saying no way and they're ready to fight as well. Meanwhile, representatives from north and south are trying to cut a political deal that will avoid an old-fashioned range war with AK-47s.

Yuren, an artist, was arrested in Beijing when he helped a friend file a complaint against his landlord. His wife and friends believe he was arrested for his earlier political activism. When he went on trial, fellow artists, activists and an assortment of petitioners with their own grievances gathered outside the court, forming a kind of carnival of injustice. Karen Patterson continues to lobby for her husband's release. She and her 6-year-old daughter will probably have to wait three years for that day to arrive.

Much of the Midwest is being blasted by snow and wind. Interstate 90 is closed for a second day from Albert Lea, Minn., to the South Dakota border. A blizzard warning is in effect for large sections of southern Minnesota and Wisconsin, all of Iowa, Chicago and much of northern Illinois.

The Minnesota Vikings and New York Giants will play on Monday night in Detroit after the Metrodome's inflated roof collapsed in a snowstorm. The NFL says kickoff will be at 7:20 p.m. Eastern time (4:20 Pacific). Metrodome officials told the league the roof wouldn't be ready in time to play Monday or Tuesday. The league had discussions with Detroit and Indianapolis and ultimately decided to hold the game at Ford Field. The delay has given Vikings quarterback Brett Favre more time to heal his sprained right shoulder and see if he can extend his NFL-record streak of 297 straight games started.

The SET Film Festival 8

Monday, December 13 · 8:00pm - 10:00pm

LocationThe Onyx Theater
953 East Sahara, #16
Las Vegas, NV

Created By

More InfoIt's Halloween in December with the latest installment of the Philm Faisstival! Get your submissions in now!

Sunday Morning News and Views, Part I

The False Profits of Dictatorships, is one of many earthly concerns of Pope Benedict XVI, who spent his youth in Hitler's Germany. His Holiness says dictators boast that they will change the world, but just bring destruction. The pontiff's reflections on what he calls history's "false prophets" came in off-the-cuff remarks Sunday while visiting a Rome church named after Maximilian Kolbe. Kolbe was a Polish priest who sacrificed his life at the Auschwitz Nazi death camp so that the father of a family would live. Benedict says the last few centuries witnessed ideologues who created "empires, dictatorships, totalitarianism." He says they changed the world, but only in a destructive way. Benedict adds that only "the silent light of truth," not cruel and violent revolutions, can change the world.

Swedish police say two explosions in central Stockholm yesterday were an act of terrorism by what appeared to be a suicide bomber, who killed himself and injured two people. The car exploded on a busy street, panicking Christmas shoppers. A short time later, a second explosion was heard higher up on the same street. Rescue workers say the exploded car contained gas canisters. Police aren't commenting on a motive for the attack. But a Swedish news agency says it received an e-mail threat just before the blast in which the writer claimed to have visited the Middle East "for jihad," and referred to the country's soldiers in Afghanistan and a cartoon of the Prophet Muhammad that outraged the Muslim world. The terror threat alert in the Nordic country is not being raised, but Sweden's foreign minister describes the incident as "a most worrying attempt at a terrorist attack." Activists are calling on the British government to ban from entering the U.K. a Florida pastor who threatened to burn a Quran on the anniversary of 9/11. Terry Jones says on his website that he has been invited to a rally in February organized by the far-right English Defense League. A previously obscure preacher, Jones gained infamy through his effort to burn the Quran. He canceled the event after international pressure. The group Hope Not Hate says Jones should be barred because "only extremists will benefit from his visit." The Home Office said Sunday it would not comment on individual cases, The government has the power to bar people considered a threat to public safety or national security.

An Israeli official says the prime minister remains opposed to sharing control of east Jerusalem with the Palestinians, despite calls by a senior coalition partner to divide the holy city. Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's position on east Jerusalem's future could further hinder U.S. efforts to salvage troubled peacemaking. The Palestinians want east Jerusalem, captured by Israel in 1967, as capital of their future state. Last week, Defense Minister Ehud Barak told U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton the city should be shared. But the official said Sunday that Barak didn't represent the government's position. The official spoke on condition of anonymity because Netanyahu
hasn't responded publicly to Barak's remarks.

The Obama administration wants to see 1 million plug-in hybrid electric cars on the roads by 2015. That's going to require the production of a lightweight metal now used for everything from cell phone batteries to the treatment of mood disorders. It's lithium, and to get it requires going far from American shores. That has mining companies scrambling to secure mining rights in the far reaches of the world. Many remote and "primitive" areas, from Argentina to Southern Africa, may soon see a mining boom to meet the world's demand. Lithium is the lightest of any solid element, making it appealing in many fields,and it keeps an electric charge longer than lead and other alternatives.

Egyptians are protesting what they call a rigged election.

Turkey says President Barack Obama has called its prime minister to mend ties following the release on the WikiLeaks website of U.S. diplomatic cables containing criticism of the Turkish leadership. A statement Sunday on the website of Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan's office says Obama called him on Saturday and said some of the comment in the cables does not reflect the view of the current U.S. government, and that the U.S.-Turkish alliance is vital. Earlier this month, Erdogan reacted furiously to claims relayed in a 2004 diplomatic memo that he has money in Swiss bank accounts. He said U.S. diplomats should be punished for what he described as slander.