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Member since: Tue Feb 10, 2004, 12:08 PM
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How can journalists be objective when writing about dead children?

Giles Fraser

It’s a controversy as old as the fifth century BC. “Man is the measure of all things,” said Protagoras. No, replied Plato. Nothing imperfect can be the measure of anything. And there we have the essence of a philosophical squabble about the possibility of human objectivity that is as alive in modern newsrooms as it was in the Athenian agora. For when a visibly shaken Jon Snow stepped out from behind the supposed neutrality of his newsreader’s desk to present a piece to camera on his recent trip to Gaza, it felt like he was crossing a journalistic fourth wall, thus allowing the audience to recognise his anger, his passion and his opinion.

“I can’t get these images out of my mind,” said Snow, describing a small girl he met in hospital, “terribly crippled by shrapnel that had penetrated her spine.” Was that objective, some asked?

Well, I admit it: I have been losing my cool. During the week, I decided that it didn’t make sense for me to write about Gaza any more. I was no longer interested in sitting calmly at my desk turning out more apparently ordered sentences, purporting to run smoothly from one solid proposition to another. At times, I feel shut down by the sheer horror of it all, encased in some bitter despondency, unable properly to process the frustration.

And then, by contrast, I worry that I am going to blurt out something that I will come to regret. Maybe I did that in this column last week, floating the possibility of what I called “just terrorism”. My friend, UN spokesman Chris Gunness, broke down during an Al-Jazeera interview. He managed the words “the injustice of it all is enough to make any heart burst” before he sank sobbing into his hands, unable to say any more.

On yesterday morning, the Guardian’s leader-writing team were talking together, entirely calmly and sensibly, about the way forward: we discussed Binyamin Netanyahu’s inaction, lost opportunities for peace, the problem of attack tunnels. But my mind wandered off and the conversation became distant chatter. All this being cool about it didn’t work for me. I think of the remains of that two-year-old boy that our Jerusalem correspondent Peter Beaumont was presented with in a plastic bag. And the kids packed into that UN school, sleeping on mattresses, expecting that a blue flag would keep them safe. My focal point wouldn’t extend past that horror. I see it up close and personal.



Scientists name new species of cetacean: The Australian humpback dolphin

Scientists examining a taxonomically confused group of marine mammals have officially named a species new to science: the Australian humpback dolphin, Sousa sahulensis, according to the Wildlife Conservation Society and Clymene Enterprises.

The study describing the newly named species is the culmination of a 17-year long systematic examination of all available historical records, physical descriptions, and genetic data of humpback dolphins—a widespread group of coastal cetaceans ranging from the coast of West Africa to the northern coast of Australia. The Australian humpback dolphin becomes the fourth recognized humpback dolphin species.

The study appears online today in the journal Marine Mammal Science, and will appear in the journal's October edition. The authors are: Thomas A. Jefferson of Clymene Enterprises and Howard C. Rosenbaum of the Wildlife Conservation Society.

"We've finally managed to settle many long-standing questions about humpback dolphins—particularly how many species actually exist—using a huge body of data collected over two centuries and analyzed with the latest scientific tools," said Dr. Jefferson.



CIA Spying On The Senate Went Much Further Than Originally Reported

We already covered how the CIA has admitted to and apologized for its spying on the Senate, but the CIA's official "unclassified" statement on the matter shows that what the CIA did was even worse than the initial allegations. Here's the basic summary, according to the CIA's Inspector General:
Agency Access to Files on the SSCI RDINet: Five Agency employees, two attorneys and three information technology (IT) staff members, improperly accessed or caused access to the SSCI Majority staff shared drives on the RDINet.

Agency Crimes Report on Alleged Misconduct by SSCI Staff: The Agency filed a crimes report with the DOJ, as required by Executive Order 12333 and the 1995 Crimes Reporting Memorandum between the DOJ and the Intelligence Community, reporting that SSCI staff members may have improperly accessed Agency information on the RDINet. However, the factual basis for the referral was not supported, as the author of the referral had been provided inaccurate information on which the letter was based. After review, the DOJ declined to open a criminal investigation of the matter alleged in the crimes report.

Office of Security Review of SSCI Staff Activity: Subsequent to directive by the D/CIA to halt the Agency review of SSCI staff access to the RDINet, and unaware of the D/CIA’s direction, the Office of Security conducted a limited investigation of SSCI activities on the RDINet. That effort included a keyword search of all and a review of some of the emails of SSCI Majority staff members on the RDINet system.

Lack of Candor: The three IT staff members demonstrated a lack of candor about their activities during interviews by the OIG.
So, the first bit we already knew. That's what Senator Feinstein initially revealed -- and Brennan pretended to deny, while actually admitting to the facts about them accessing the Senate Intelligence Committee's private network where they were storing documents for their investigation into the CIA's torture program.

We also knew that the CIA had bogusly reported the Senate staffers to the DOJ, claiming they had "improperly accessed" CIA information. However, now the CIA is admitting that "the factual basis for the referral was not supported." In other words, for all of Brennan's blustering about how awful the Senate staffers were and how they were breaking the law, it appears that the CIA knew they were making it up. That's really bad.

But it's the next item where things get really dicey. After all of this came out and Brennan told the CIA folks to knock it off, CIA people spied on the emails of the Senate staffers. Let's repeat that. After Feinstein had already made this public and called the CIA out on its spying of intelligence committee staff members and after Brennan told them to knock if off, the CIA went and directly spied on emails. The AP is further reporting that "the CIA used classified "hacking tools" and created a fake user account in an effort to retrieve documents the CIA believed the Senate staffers had improperly accessed."


Tesla announces plan to boost production in 2015

Tesla Motors Inc. Chief Executive Elon Musk promised shareholders a dramatic boost in the production of his company's electric cars, telling investors that Tesla will produce 35,000 cars this year and up to 100,000 in 2015.

Tesla, which reported earnings Thursday, also confirmed that the company has begun construction in Reno, Nev., on the first of possibly several battery factories. That news came hours after Tesla announced that it had entered into a long-term partnership with Panasonic Corp. to produce the vehicles' lithium-ion batteries.

The $5-billion cost of multiple "gigafactory" locations would be shared by Panasonic, which would be expected to match Tesla's 40% commitment, with an additional 20% commitment coming from other investors and contributions from governments where the factories will be built.

Earlier reports had said Panasonic could invest between $200 million and $1 billion in the massive facility.



Photographs capture Israeli missiles a split second before they reduce Gaza buildings to Rubble

Gazing skywards with their hands over their ears, these astonishing pictures capture the moment terrified Palestinians watch Israeli missiles falling from the sky before smashing into an apartment block.
As young men and children congregate in the street, Israeli drones target the building with three strikes, sending thick plumes of smoke billowing into the air just a few metres away.
An F-16 fighter jet then roars overhead to drop the final, knock-out missile, obliterating the building with an almighty boom that rocks the district.
The images, which captured the missiles from different points in the street, were taken earlier this week in Gaza City which has been under constant bombardment since the conflict began three weeks ago.

Read more: http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-2713019/Photographs-capture-Israeli-missile-strike-Gaza-City.html

Gaza: Mapping the human cost


The A-10 Warthog Will Soon Be Chasing Tornados And Attacking Storms

Soon, there will be more to the A-10's original "Thunderbolt" moniker than just a name. Everyone's favorite down and dirty chariot of destruction is going geek and soon will be receiving thunderbolts instead of throwing them. A single surplus Warthog is currently undergoing transformation into the ultimate storm chasing vehicle.

A couple of years ago it was announced that the The National Science Foundation was working to get a retired A-10 bailed to them by the USAF for storm chasing tasks. The A-10 is a logical choice for this mission for multiple reasons. Along with the S-3 Viking, the A-10 uses robust, fuel-efficient, reliable and easily maintainable motors (TF-34 for the S-3 and A-10, CF-34 in the civilian world for the CRJ etc). Additionally, the Warthog's airframe is legendarily tough, which will be key fir surviving flying through hail and lightning. It can loiter for long periods of time and it has big wings with lots of stores pylons and a generous internal volume, especially with out its Avenger cannon, for experiments and computer systems. Finally, it is a relatively simple aircraft to maintain, plus it's free!

So after patiently awaiting their choice 'hog's arrival, the NSF has finally received their jet and it is undergoing some pretty extreme modifications to reach its full storm busting potential. Zivko Aeronautics, master modifiers of aircraft and unmanned systems, is doing the extensive work on the weather 'hog.

According to multiple sources, including the video posted above, the storm chasing A-10 will be able to drop dozens of sensors into tornados from above, and she will also be able to carry numerous data-pods and experiments so that scientists can better understand how to predict deadly tornado outbreaks and storm systems' life-cycles.

more with video


This Amazing Jet Will Transport Ebola Victims From Africa To The U.S.

How do you pack two patients that are infected with one of the world's deadliest viruses into a pressurized aluminum tube that is filled with healthy care takers and pilots for 12 hours and not get almost everyone infected in the process? You use this old ex-Royal Danish Air Force Gulfstream III that is highly modified to convey very ill people over very long distances.

N173PA looks like it belongs to the military, in fact the USAF and USMC have an almost identical paint job on some of their C-20 aircraft, and like N173PA, some of them also feature a massive clam-shell cargo door as well. This 32 year old Gulfstream III was once owned and operated by the Royal Danish Air Force and wore the military tailcode 'F-313' at the time. The jet still retains her original Royal Danish Air Force livery, minus the government titles and insignia of course.

'F-313' was sold to U.S. military air support provider Phoenix Air in January of 2005. Phoenix Air is well known for providing adversary support and electronic warfare training to the DoD. With their massive fleet of tiger-striped Learjets being forward based near key U.S. Naval installation, they can often be seen lugging electronic warfare pods and anti-ship missile emitter simulators.

These jets fly attack profiles on U.S. Navy ships and air defense units, mimicking the tactics and technologies of America's potential enemies. In addition to their Learjet fleet, Phoenix Air has two nearly identical Gulfstream IIIs intercontinental business jets, which are used for rapid cargo transport and air ambulance duties.



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