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Old 12-23-2008, 11:34 AM   #1276
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http://www.newscientist.com/article/...rss&nsref=tech

Mitochondrial battery could sniff out explosives

A BIOELECTRONIC sensor the size of a postage stamp could sniff out bombs and other explosives.

Most commercially available explosives detectors tend to be expensive, bulky and complex - and hence difficult to use in the field. That may change thanks to a new sensor invented by Shelley Minteer and her colleagues at St Louis University in Missouri.

The detector is a spin-off from the Minteer group's work to develop fuel cells powered by mitochondria, the parts of cells that generate energy by burning a chemical called pyruvate. Produced by the digestion of sugars, pyruvate is the compound that starts the Krebs cycle - the complex series of chemical reactions in cells that releases energy as part of respiration.

The team had been working on a fuel cell that uses mitochondria bathed in pyruvate to generate an electric current, and devised a biological "off" switch in the form of a naturally occurring antibiotic called oligomycin, which hampers the oxidation of pyruvate. Adding oligomycin to the cell switches off the current.

Minteer and her colleagues found that if they then added trace amounts of nitrobenzene - a member of the same chemical family as many explosives - they could reverse the effect of oligomycin and switch the mitochondria back on. She says any chemically related explosive should do the same, and that the sensor is able to detect explosives in concentrations as low as 2 parts per trillion (Journal of the American Chemical Society, DOI: 10.1021/ja807250b).

"We should be able to detect all nitroaromatic explosives," says Minteer. "We are studying the other nitroaromatic explosives to determine what we can detect."

Timothy Swager, head of chemistry at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, says the new device is "an elegant demonstration of a bioelectronic sensor".
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Old 12-23-2008, 11:40 AM   #1277
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Gas memory could send spooky messages the full distance

Quantum entanglement, which Einstein dubbed "spooky action at a distance", would be the perfect way to communicate data – if technical hurdles could be overcome.

The method involves linking the quantum properties of two objects such that a change to one is instantly reflected in the other – offering a whole new way to transmit information from opposite sides of the globe.

Entanglement has already been exploited as a way to securely share pass phrases for secret communications, but only over distances of less than 200 kilometres. The inability of the gas-based quantum computer memory used to hold onto information for more than a fraction of a second is to blame.

Now a way to have that memory store quantum information for longer opens up the possibility of entangled communication over 1000 kilometres.
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Old 12-23-2008, 11:41 AM   #1278
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Invention: Slimline radioactive battery

Engineers have long hoped to exploit radioactive decay to generate electricity. One way to do this is to use a radioactive isotope, such as a variant of hydrogen called tritium, that emits electrons as it decays. Current is generated when the electrons hit semiconductive material nearby.

Attempts to put the theory into practice have been plagued by extremely low efficiency, though, converting only a small fraction of the emitted electrons into current.

The problem is that the electrons cannot travel far from their starting place in the tritium nucleus. Most end up lodging in the radioactive material itself and never reach the adjacent semiconductor.

Now Paul Engel and colleagues at Rice University in Houston, Texas, say that these batteries can be made more efficient by using a thin layer of a liquid polymer that contains the isotope.
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Old 12-23-2008, 11:42 AM   #1279
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Fat fingers no problem with 'see-through' touchscreen




Electronic devices have been shrinking for years, but you might be forgiven for thinking that one that's only a centimetre across would be just too difficult to operate.

Now tests of a prototype device only slightly larger than this have shown that it can be made perfectly usable by combining a screen on the front with a touch-sensitive pad on the back.

Touch screens can be an intuitive method of interacting with computers and are now near ubiquitous in smartphones and other high-end hand-held gadgets.
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Old 12-23-2008, 11:43 AM   #1280
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Transparent memory makes for see-through phones

TRANSPARENT cellphones, iPods and memory sticks are among the oddball possibilities being predicted for the world's first transparent flash memory chip.

Transparent transistors have been made before, but they have not been assembled into working see-through chips. The new memory chip, made by engineers at Korea's Advanced Institute of Science and Technology (KAIST) in Daejeon, records data by changing the resistance of a metal oxide film, a technology known as resistive RAM or RRAM.

KAIST's trick is to use a clear zinc oxide film as the recording layer and to connect it up with transparent indium tin oxide electrodes (Applied Physics Letters, DOI: 10.1063/1.3041643). The chip itself looks like a microscope slide. Expect commercial applications in three to four years.
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Old 12-23-2008, 11:43 AM   #1281
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Invention: Vision amplifier

* 13:20 22 December 2008 by Justin Mullins
* For similar stories, visit the Invention and Mental Health Topic Guides

The number of people suffering seriously impaired vision due to damaged retinas is increasing in the developed world, as populations age and diabetes becomes more common. The search for a technological solution to the problem has led to growing interest in "bionic eyes".

Devices developed so far have usually involved installing a silicon chip into the eye to electrically stimulate the retina's nerves in response to light. Some impressive results have been achieved in this way, but implanted chips do have drawbacks.

Their relatively large size means they block light that would have fallen on healthy parts of the retina and they can also cause tissue damage, such as tearing.

So Jeffrey Olsen at the University of Colorado Hospital has come up with another method entirely – amplifying the light that reaches the retina using the eye's still functioning light-sensitive cells.



Microscopic specks of semiconductor material injected into the retina can make the image a person sees brighter, a new patent application claims (Image: Wipo)
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Old 12-23-2008, 11:44 AM   #1282
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iamond 'wires' – quantum computing's best friend

* 12:18 23 December 2008 by Jeff Hecht
* For similar stories, visit the Quantum World Topic Guide

Using diamond to make micro circuits that channel light, not electricity, could help realise the elusive promise of quantum computing.

The allure of quantum computing is that it is able to solve problems which are near-impossible for conventional computers to crack, such as breaking very long cryptography keys.

Quantum computers hold "qubits" of information stored in the quantum properties of a system, for example, a single photon or a cloud of gas atoms in a gas. Diamond can be used to generate single photons and create qubits by writing information into their quantum states.

What's more, diamond can shield the photons from external influences, preventing unwanted modification of the stored data. And unlike other qubit techologies, which require supercooling, diamond operates fine at room temperature.

"All the essential elements for a quantum computer have been demonstrated in diamond," says Steven Prawer of the University of Melbourne, Australia
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Old 12-23-2008, 11:45 AM   #1283
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Chameleon-like 'opal' can take on any colour



A new material could give a chameleon a run for its money - it can rapidly change colour to match that of any in the visible spectrum.

The synthetic material can be likened to an opal, a mineral that owes its variety of colours to its layered structure: regions with a high refractive index, in which light travels slowly, are interleaved with regions with a low refractive index. Light waves with a wavelength – or colour – similar to that of the space between layers are scattered in a way that gives opal its iridescent sheen.

The chameleon-like "opal" developed by British and Canadian chemists has a similar layered structure. But their material goes one better than nature. It can rapidly shrink or swell to change the distance between its layered regions, changing the colour of light that it scatters (see video above).
Silica stack

The starting point for the new material is a stack of silica marbles, each 270 nanometres across, on a flat electrode. A polymer is added on top to encase the spheres and to hold them in place. Next, the spheres are dissolved with acid to leave behind a regular pattern of air pockets inside the polymer. Finally, these pockets are filled with a liquid electrolyte and the structure is sealed.

The result behaves just like an opal. The polymer and electrolyte have different refractive indexes, and their repeating pattern scatters only blue photons to make the material an iridescent blue. But when a voltage is applied, the material becomes red, flitting across every other colour in the visible spectrum along the way.

"The polymer is crucial to the whole thing," says Ian Manners at the University of Bristol in the UK, and a member of the research team. "It contains iron atoms which can exist in two oxidative states."

When a voltage passes through the flat electrode, it draws out electrons from the polymer and oxidises the iron. That leaves the polymer positively charged and so negative ions from the electrolyte flood in. The oxidised iron's chemistry helps the polymer absorb the liquid, and the structure swells.

The pores shrink as the liquid inside them moves into the polymer. As a result the structure now scatters photons of a different wavelength and so has a different colour.
Good on paper

"The more you oxidise the system the more it swells," says Manners. Increasing the voltage slightly leads to more iron being oxidised, more swelling, and a greater shift towards red.

"We can currently get full spectrum tuning - blue all the way to red - in a little under 1 second," says Andre Arsenault, a member of the team and Manners's former PhD student.

Arsenault is chief technology officer at Opalux, a company he founded with fellow chemists from the University of Toronto. "Given the current switching speeds, an ideal first product may be something like full-colour electronic paper," he says. Although a pulse of voltage is needed to shift the colour, maintaining it in a given state requires no energy at all.
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Old 12-23-2008, 11:46 AM   #1284
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Giant stinking flower reveals a hot secret



Night-time image of carrion flower with flash photography (left) and (right) with thermal image (Image copyright: Jörg Szarzynski)



You would think a flower that resembles a 3-metre phallus would have no problems attracting attention, especially if it also stinks like a rotting corpse.

But for the carrion flower, which has the world's largest flowering head, getting noticed by flesh-eating insect pollinators in its jungle home requires yet another amazing adaptation – and one that only came to light thanks to a serendipitous TV recording.

"The film crew was using very strong backlighting and suddenly we saw smoke rising up along the flower's central column. We thought the plant was on fire," says Wilhelm Barthlott from the University of Bonn in Germany.

The 'smoke' turned out to be steam that is puffed out in regular pulses, coinciding with waves of carrion scent. "We had wondered before why one moment the flower would stink like a dead donkey, and a little while later there would be hardly any smell. It never occurred to us that there was cyclic odour production."
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Old 12-23-2008, 11:47 AM   #1285
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Blight hits world's vanilla supply

Savour the egg-nog while you can - a lethal disease is wiping out vanilla plantations in Madagascar, the world's major producer of the spice.

Last week Simeon Rakotomamonjy and his team at the National Center for Research Applied to Rural Development in Antananarivo reported that an unknown fungus has struck 80 per cent of plantations in two of the country's main growing areas.

They blame a price surge in the 1990s, which prompted farmers to plant seedlings too densely and without optimal shade and moisture. Since vanilla is propagated as cuttings it has little genetic diversity. Both factors make it a prime target for the fungal disease - which has yet to be properly diagnosed.

"Yet again a crop vital for poor farmers is getting killed off due to lack of funding for services that diagnose plant diseases," says Dagmar Hanold of the University of Adelaide, Australia.
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Old 12-23-2008, 11:52 AM   #1286
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Washington, D.C., USA - The genetic mutation found in a small group of people helps protect their heart against the effects of high-fat diet, U.S. researchers reported Thursday.

It may open the door to new therapies for cardiovascular disease.
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Old 12-23-2008, 11:54 AM   #1287
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http://www.worldchanging.com/archives/009235.html

Small-Scale Smart Grid in Massachusetts

Julia Levitt
December 23, 2008 9:47 AM

3129522270_1c38ab2597.jpgA recent occurrence in a small New England town has us thinking that a working future for the smart garage -- a concept which promises symbiotic energy-sharing links between buildings, plug-in hybrid vehicles and the energy grid -- is not too far off.

When residents of Harvard, Massachusetts were hit with an ice storm that left many without power for a full four days, one innovative neighbor successfully used his Prius as a generator.

From last Friday's edition of the independent local publication The Harvard Press:

Around the corner at Madigan Lane, John Sweeney, a member of the town’s conservation-minded Heat Advisory Committee, took a characteristically green approach to powering his home during the storm. He reported his achievement in an e-mail, saying it was no big deal, but that his wife thought it an impressive tale worth sharing: Sweeney ran his refrigerator, freezer, TV, woodstove fan, and several lights through his Prius, for three days, on roughly five gallons of gas.

“When it looked like we were going to be without power for awhile, I dug out an inverter (which takes 12v DC and creates 120v AC from it) and wired it into our Prius…These inverters are available for about $100 many places online,” he wrote.

The device allowed the engine to run every half hour, automatically charging the car battery and indirectly supplying the required power.
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Old 12-23-2008, 12:07 PM   #1288
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http://www.illuminati-news.com/gwb-mc-victim.htm

Opinion: George W. Bush is a Victim of Mind Control
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Old 12-24-2008, 10:50 AM   #1289
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I'm watching "What would Jesus buy" (a documentary) - i dig it. But it's up my alley.

http://wwjbmovie.com/





Pssst


http://video.google.com/videoplay?do...81560376&hl=en

Last edited by alkemical; 12-24-2008 at 10:52 AM..
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Old 12-24-2008, 11:46 AM   #1290
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I'd like to take a moment and wish you all a very happy Yule.

i'm very glad you've enjoyed this thread, and i'm happy that from the read count - that some of you really like what i do here.

I have many things to say, but i think you are going to have to wait a spell.


Also to those of you whom walk in the world(s) i do - i'm stuck and i need some consultation.
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Old 01-02-2009, 10:10 AM   #1291
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Happy New Years to you!


I've been lax lately. I've had much done with trying to get the mag ready for spring pressing...


i'm looking at finishing it up - what i'm asking is for those of you who read my thread...the following:


is there anything you'd like to see me include, or i should see/be aware of?

I got about 36% to go yet - and i'm rounding out content...
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Old 01-05-2009, 05:53 AM   #1292
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http://www.sloshspot.com/blog/12-31-...nal-Posters-98









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Old 01-05-2009, 06:14 AM   #1293
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Old 01-05-2009, 06:18 AM   #1294
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Dubai: Another Ponzi Scheme Collapses
January 4th, 2009

Via: CBS News:

Over the years, booming oil prices helped turn Dubai into a land of opportunity and playground for the ultra rich.

But that was then and this is now. And as CBS News correspondent Sheila MacVicar reports, even Dubai is feeling the pinch of the worldwide economic crisis.

The gulf city state’s property prices went up as fast and as high as the towering buildings. But reality has suddenly intruded.

One investor said it was as if someone had thrown a switch, as the global credit crunch slammed a city that was, in effect, the world’s biggest construction site

It took just 20 years for Dubai to go from a desert outpost with a handful of office towers to a world metropolis, where one fifth of the world’s cranes operate, and property became a very hot commodity, with some people playing real estate the way others play poker.

“People were buying and flipping properties on a launch basis,” says Manesh Khadri of Century 21 Real Estate. “You launch a property and you flip it within the same day.”

Before an apartment was even built you could away with tens, or even hundreds of thousands of dollars.

Developers promised: Pay $140,000 for an unbuilt apartment, and within six months, reap a $46,000 profit. So as fast as the city expanded, investors snapped up the real estate, taking on big debt.

American Internet entrepreneur Mahmood Panjwani understands the risk of building a business

But, “I really did not know what risk was until I came here,” Panjwani says. “I mean Dubai is like Silicon Valley on steroids from a risk perspective.”
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Old 01-05-2009, 06:21 AM   #1295
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UK: Thefts of Food, Metal, and Petrol Increasing
January 3rd, 2009

Via: Independent:

Supermarkets have been forced to tag cuts of meat because shoplifters have turned to stealing food during the credit crunch. Retailers warn that the recession has changed the pattern of crime in high street stores, with thieves switching from luxury items to basic foodstuffs.

Shops have been forced to step up security around food counters after sharp increases in the quantity of beef, chicken, bacon and cheese going missing.

Tesco, Iceland and Marks & Spencer have all reported rises in theft in their stores this year. The problem has become so acute in some areas that retailers, including Somerfield, have experimented with fitting electronic tags to expensive cuts of meat.

Over the past decade, most shoplifters have pilfered small high-value items – such as perfumes, packets of razor blades and DVDs – to fund drug habits.

Richard Dodd, spokesman for the British Retail Consortium, said: “In difficult times likes these, there is evidence that the range of people stealing expands. They are stealing a bigger range of items and going for things they want to use rather than sell.

“Retailers believe there has been an increase in theft as a result of the downturn and are tightening their security. More security staff are being taken on and the tagging of items is becoming more widespread.”

Richard Garside, director of the Centre for Crime and Justice Studies at King’s College in London, said: “If members of the public are risking prosecution to steal basic staples, that adds to the evidence that families are experiencing real hardship. It’s not just shops feeling the pinch. Their customers are too.”

Police are also reporting an increase in thefts of metal, and petrol being siphoned from cars and stolen from filling stations. Mick Giannasi, the chief constable of Gwent, said: “We’re starting to pick up crime trends associated with the economic situation. We ask ourselves where can we best put our resources. Metal thefts started to increase, so we put a response in and that had an impact in bringing it down. We’re now looking at petrol thefts using our roads policing unit.”
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Old 01-05-2009, 06:22 AM   #1296
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UK: Flawed Accounting Method Hides True Scale of Pension Fund Losses
January 2nd, 2009

Via: Guardian:

Many of Britain’s biggest companies are preparing year-end accounts that show their pension schemes moved into surplus last year despite the collapse in world markets, which wiped hundreds of billions from their assets.

The latest figures from the pensions advisers Aon Consulting show that a steep decline in the FTSE 100 over last year and a sharp drop in commercial property values has sent most final-salary schemes into crisis and pushed fund deficits to new lows. According to government figures, company pension fund deficits rose in the 12 months to November from £58bn to £155bn.

Aon Consulting warned that the figures underestimated the problem and pension funds had suffered a £226bn loss on their investments in the year to October.

However, accounting rules - which critics argue distort company pension scheme fund values - will show a rise in assets. For the top 200 companies in Britain, that will mean a £13bn surplus at the end of 2008. Aon says the top 100 firms have seen a £5bn improvement over the last year, based on current accounting rules.

Auditors must calculate deficits using the IAS19 accounting method, which assumes pension funds are invested entirely in corporate bonds and ties the value of the fund to current bond yields. Calculations under IAS19 put pension deficits at £2bn in December 2007. Figures from Aon show that a subsequent rise in bond yields turned that small deficit into a surplus of £3bn.

Marcus Hurd, of Aon, said when bond yields were low IAS19 exaggerated deficits, but now it was hiding them. In 2007, yields were 5.75% whereas last November they stood at 6.8%. He said that while a handful of schemes were heavily invested in corporate bonds, most had a mix of assets and tended to rely heavily on stockmarket investments. “They will be invested in stocks and shares, commercial property and bonds, which have all gone down in value, but the accounting rule says it is only the bond yield that counts.”
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Old 01-05-2009, 06:23 AM   #1297
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Is a Generalized Crackup Occurring in Britain? The Average Person Spends 2-1/4 Hours of Every Day Worrying
January 2nd, 2009

Could this possibly be true?

Via: Reuters:

Britain is becoming a nation of worriers, according to a new survey, with the financial crisis giving people ever more reason to fret about their lives.

The average person now spends 2-1/4 hours of every day worrying — six and half years of the average life span — a figure up 30 minutes a day from last year, according to the worry index compiled by reallyworried.com, a support group.

Young adults — those aged between 16 and 24 — worry the most, and women worry substantially more than men, according to the survey of 1,400 people nationwide.

The top five concerns in 2008 were: the cost of living, energy prices, personal health, outgoings and income, and personal debt.

Job security, which last year didn’t figure in the top 25 worries, shot up to number 7 in the rankings, one notch below recession and a bigger concern than crime.

So much fretting can take a terrible toll on people’s health and their sex lives, according to the survey’s compilers.

One in five questioned said they drowned their concerns in drink, up 50 percent on last year. One in six said they now shy away from sex because of their constant fretting.

“It is alarming to learn from this research just how many people in Britain are chronic worriers,” said Phillip Hodson, a member of the British Association for Counselling and Psychotherapy.

“Worry is the central component of all anxiety disorders and most depression. It is a sign of a double difficulty — that we cannot get our problems into perspective nor take effective action to solve them.”
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Old 01-05-2009, 06:23 AM   #1298
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Welcome to Your New Job: One that Pays 30%, 50%, 70% Less than Your Old One
January 2nd, 2009

According to CNN, phone service is an, “extravagance”?

The bankers and politicians who created this mess must really think that this is hilarious. As people are getting financially screwed to within an inch of their lives, the Wall Street pricks buy new homes with taxpayer bailout money and the crooked Congress gets an automatic pay raise.

What a country.

Via: CNN:

Happy New Year and welcome to your new job. One that pays 30%, 50%, 70% less than your old one.

That’s right: With more than three job seekers for every opening, more workers are having to take significant pay cuts to find employment.

“For people who have been laid off, this is obviously a buyer’s market,” said Ravin Jesuthasan, a managing principal at Towers Perrin. “We’re seeing pay levels in new positions coming down.”

In fact, 63% of unemployed workers said they would be willing to accept a job offer that pays less than their previous job, according to a recent survey conducted by the National Employment Law Project. Still, only 37% of respondents expressed high confidence in finding a job in the next four months despite being willing to make such a sacrifice.

Nearly 2 million jobs were lost in 2008 and economists say the unemployment rate, which stands at 6.7%, will continue to rise into 2010.

“People realize that this is a different environment, said Jeff Joerres, chairman and CEO of employment services firm Manpower. “People are more anxious and are willing to secure something even if it is less.”

Shaun Chedister, 30, is one of those people. Chedister was laid off from his job at Washington Mutual at the end of last year. After eight months of actively looking for work to help support his wife and four children, he accepted an offer from Ernst & Young even though the new position as an executive administrator paid less than half of what he was making before.

“My unemployment had run out, and I had to get something,” he explained.

But the adjustment to making $66,000 a year from $125,000 has been hard. “For the last four to five years I’d been making six figures,” Chedister said. “My lifestyle had been at a certain level.”

Now Chedister said he’s looking for a more affordable home. Last week one of the family’s cars was repossessed after he got behind on the payments.

“It could be worse,” he said, I could still be unemployed.”

Often the hardest part of accepting a pay cut is the change in lifestyle that goes along with it, says Manpower’s Joerres. “When you recalibrate your earnings expectations that means you have to recalibrate your lifestyle as well.”

And for those living paycheck to paycheck, that can mean having to move, sell possessions or give up everyday extravagances such as cable TV or phone service.

After Jarrod Posner, 34, was laid off from his $110,000-a-year job as a mortgage lender for D.R. Horton, he had to change careers to find employment. After months of looking he took a job as an enrollment counselor at the University of Phoenix - a position that paid $33,000.

“I was actually thankful because I was getting a job, but at the same time my wife and I realized we had to make a lot of lifestyle changes,” Posner said.

Since then, the Posners, who have two children, foreclosed on their home, moved into a rental property, downgraded from two cars to one and learned how to budget, he said. They’ve also given up their telephone and cable TV package. “All the little luxuries we don’t enjoy anymore,” he said.

Despite the dramatic downsizing that came with a 70% salary reduction, “I’m kind of happy,” Posner said. “It’s nice to know that I have pretty steady employment.”
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Old 01-05-2009, 06:24 AM   #1299
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Mexican Federal Agents Arrested in Covina
January 2nd, 2009

Via: Los Angeles Times:

The residents of North Monte Verde Drive, a stretch of oak-shaded suburban calm in the Covina area, normally would feel safe knowing that two off-duty police officers were visiting the neighborhood.

Not this time. These officers were far from home — agents of the Mexican federal police — and they ended up on the wrong side of a bust, with a fortune in cash that prosecutors say was tied to narcotics trafficking.

The raid in July raised the specter that the often-brutal workings of the Mexican drug trade have reached deep into Southern California. But five months later, the fuller background of the case remains a mystery.

“We all just sort of went, ‘’ ” Susan Wood, a longtime Monte Verde resident, said of the possible link between her neighborhood and the mayhem a country away. “This isn’t a drug-trafficky area at all.”

No connections to Mexican drug syndicates have been alleged in the Covina case, and defense attorneys say there are none. But speculation has been fueled by the fact that authorities have been unusually tight-lipped about the circumstances surrounding the arrests and the direction of their investigation.

One of the Mexican suspects, a federal police commander based in the border city of Mexicali, is believed to have been the target of an assassination attempt there last summer, when gunmen shot up his car and killed two of his aides.

The commander, Carlos Cedano Filippini, 35, was not in the vehicle at the time. Mexican media reported that Cedano abandoned his job after the shooting.

He was the second Mexican federal officer arrested in a Southern California drug probe in three weeks. Earlier in July, agents from the state Bureau of Narcotic Enforcement arrested Omar Lugo and another man in Riverside County on suspicion of transporting 154 pounds of cocaine in their car. A judge later ordered the two suspects released, ruling in favor of defense attorneys who said officers had lacked probable cause to search the car, said Orlando Lopez, a special agent in charge for the bureau. That ruling is under appeal and an investigation is continuing, Lopez said.

Narcotics-related violence in Mexico claimed more than 5,000 lives last year, as rival drug cartels battle over smuggling routes and beleaguered government forces press a crackdown. The spoils of the carnage are narcotics bound for the United States — Southern California is a top trans-shipment point — but there have been few outward signs here of cartel operations and attendant bloodshed.

Like Wood, other Monte Verde residents said they know nothing about the case beyond what they had learned in news reports, and very little about the occupants of the spacious home where the Mexicans were taken into custody. Some residents were fearful of being quoted by name.

“It’s like a TV show,” a neighbor said of the case.

Arrested along with the agents were two U.S. citizens, siblings Hector and Julissa Lopez. Their parents, who live in the 4,800-square-foot house at the end of a long driveway, have not been implicated, authorities say.

Julissa Lopez, 36, is the common-law wife of Cedano, the commander from Mexico’s Federal Investigative Agency, that nation’s equivalent of the FBI. Also charged is one of Cedano’s officers, Victor M. Juarez, 36.

The four have pleaded not guilty and are awaiting trial in Los Angeles County Superior Court on charges of possessing more than $630,000 as part of an alleged drug transaction. If convicted, they face a maximum of four years in prison.

A stakeout team of narcotics investigators stormed the house and spotted the defendants walking out of a bedroom, according to prosecutors. Seized along with the suitcase full of cash were a money-counting machine, other bundles of currency, heat-sealable packets for the bills, and lists of payments and debts for narcotics, authorities say. Defense attorneys have said the lists were innocent jottings of family activities.

No drugs were found, but a police dog trained to sniff out narcotics residue showed a positive response to the suitcase and to other items in the bedroom, investigators say.
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Old 01-05-2009, 06:25 AM   #1300
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New Law in Russia Ends Jury Trials for ‘Crimes Against State’
January 2nd, 2009

Via: Los Angeles Times:

President Dmitry Medvedev signs the controversial measure with little publicity. A pending Putin-backed law widens the definition of treason. Government critics fear the stage is set for a crackdown.

Russian President Dmitry Medvedev paused in the last, quiet hours of a dying year to sign into law a controversial bill that eliminates jury trials for “crimes against the state,” a move that lawyers and human rights groups fear will be the start of a dangerous exertion of Kremlin control over government critics.

The law does away with jury trials for a variety of offenses, leaving people accused of treason, revolt, sabotage, espionage or terrorism at the mercy of three judges rather than a panel of peers. Critics say the law is dangerous because judges in Russia are vulnerable to manipulation and intimidation by the government.

A parallel piece of legislation, pushed by Prime Minister Vladimir Putin and still awaiting discussion in parliament, seeks to expand the legal definition of treason to such a degree that observers fear that anybody who criticizes the government could be rounded up by police — and, because of the law signed Wednesday, tried without a jury.

Human rights groups and lawyers have warned that the changes to Russia’s criminal code, largely undiscussed in the state media, would allow the government to crack down on any whispers of dissent. The changes also seek a stronger hand for the FSB, the modern incarnation of the Soviet KGB, by giving the state wider latitude in cases that fall under intelligence agency rather than police jurisdiction. Some critics point to the days of dictator Josef Stalin as a comparable legal structure.

“It’s a preparation for terror, although not the grand terror of the 1930s,” said Andrei Illarionov, a fellow at Washington’s Cato Institute and a former economic advisor to Putin. “They are much smarter now. They are preparing some kind of selective terror against those who are courageous enough to speak up.”

The purpose, many observers agree, is not only to give the government greater tools in cracking down, but also to send out tremors of fear.
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