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Saturday, July 31, 2010

National Geographic ranks Tel Aviv among world's top beach cities - Haaretz Daily Newspaper | Israel News


Published 05:29 30.07.10


Latest update 05:29 30.07.10



National Geographic ranks Tel Aviv among world's top beach cities




'Call it Miami Beach on the Med. Tel Aviv is the Dionysian counterpart to religious Jerusalem.'

By Zafrir Rinat
Tags:
Israel news Tel Aviv





They may be hot, crowded and swarming with jellyfish, but Tel Aviv beaches are apparently a world-class asset.
National Geographic yesterday published a list of the world's 10 best beach cities and rated Tel Aviv alongside Barcelona, Rio de Janeiro, Nice (on the French riviera) and Cape Town.
The prestigious magazine's article says: "Call it Miami Beach on the Med. Tel Aviv is the Dionysian counterpart to religious Jerusalem. In the 'bubble,' as it's known for its inhabitants' tendency to tune out regional skirmishes, some restaurants, discos, and clubs are open until dawn.
By day, the scene shifts to the city's promenade and eight miles (13 kilometers) of beach literally steps from town."

National Geographic ranks Tel Aviv among world's top beach cities - Haaretz Daily Newspaper | Israel News

Friday, July 23, 2010

BBC News - 'Eternal plane' returns to Earth


'Eternal plane' returns to Earth


Wing-to-tail guide to Zephyr, the 'eternal' plane
The UK-built Zephyr unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV) has confirmed its place in aviation history as the first "eternal plane".
The solar-powered craft completed two weeks of non-stop flight above a US Army range in Arizona before being commanded to make a landing.
The Qinetiq company which developed Zephyr said the UAV had nothing to prove by staying in the air any longer.
It had already smashed all endurance records for an unpiloted vehicle before it touched down at 1504 BST (0704 local/1404 GMT) on Friday.
"We are just really delighted with the performance," said project manager Jon Saltmarsh.
"It's the culmination of a lot of years of effort from a huge number of really talented scientists and engineers," he told BBC News.
Zephyr took off from the Yuma Proving Ground at 1440 BST (0640 local time) on Friday, 9 July.
After only 31 hours in the air, it had bettered the official world record for a long-duration flight by a drone; but then it kept on going, unencumbered by the need to take on the liquid fuel that sustains traditional aircraft.
The plane taking off - Footage courtesy of QinetiQ
Clear skies at 60,000ft delivered copious amounts of sunshine to its amorphous silicon solar arrays, charging its lithium-sulphur batteries and keeping its two propellers turning.
At night, Zephyr lost some altitude but the energy stored in the batteries was more than sufficient to maintain the plane in the air.
Zephyr is set to be credited with a new world endurance record (336 hours, 24 minutes) for an unmanned, un-refuelled aircraft - provided a representative of the world air sports federation, who was present at Yuma, is satisfied its rules have been followed properly.
Its fortnight in the sky easily beats the 30 hours, 24 minutes, set by Northrop Grumman's RQ-4A Global Hawk in 2001.
Zephyr has also exceeded the mark set for a manned, non-stop, un-refuelled flight, set in 1986 by Dick Rutan and Jeana Yeager, who stayed aloft for nine days (216 hours), three minutes. Their flight in the Voyager craft went around the world.
Profile raising
Jon Saltmarsh said the UAV, which has a 22.5m wingspan, was no longer an experimental plane and was now ready to begin its operational life.
The fact that Zephyr completed its demonstration during the Farnborough International Airshow - which takes place on the doorstep of the Qinetiq company - will have done wonders for the craft's profile.
Solar-powered high-altitude long-endurance (Hale) UAVs are expected to have a wide range of applications.
The military will want to use them as reconnaissance and communications platforms. Civilian and scientific programmes will equip them with small payloads for Earth observation duties.
Their unique selling point is their persistence over a location. Low-Earth orbiting satellites come and go in a swift pass overhead, and the bigger drones now operated by the military still need to return to base at regular intervals for refuelling.
"Qinetiq is now looking to the Ministry of Defence and the DoD (US Department of Defense) to put a system into service," said Mr Saltmarsh.
"We have proved the concept; we have proved we can provide persistence; we have proved we can put useful payloads on to it that will actually do things the MoD has a requirement to do."
The Zephyr flight is the second event of note this year in solar-powered aviation. Earlier this month, Andre Borschberg became the first person to pilot a manned solar plane through the night.
Jonathan.Amos-INTERNET@bbc.co.uk

BBC News - 'Eternal plane' returns to Earth

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Saturday, July 17, 2010

just another walk in the park......

just another walk in the park...... 
Ed Stafford is first man to walk length of the Amazon




Walking the Amazon
'Loony idea' ... Ed Stafford walked the entire length of Amazon river
'Loony idea' ... Ed Stafford walked the entire length of Amazon river


ED Stafford had a "loony idea" to do something no one had ever done - and walk the entire 4,000-mile length of the Amazon.
He reckoned the epic journey would take him 12 months... but he was a bit out.
Now, two and a quarter YEARS after setting out, the 34-year-old former Army captain is still walking - but is finally within days of his goal.
On the way Ed has been pursued by machete-wielding tribesmen and detained for murder, as well as outwitting jaguars, pit vipers and a fly that set up home in his head.
Long hard trek ... Ed Stafford wades through the Amazon
Long hard trek ... Ed Stafford wades through the Amazon
Keith Ducatel
He has lived off piranhas and struck fear into local tribes who mistook him for a monster that traded in babies' body parts.
Ed told The Sun from the Brazilian jungle: "I have a week until I arrive at a network of roads around Belem and then ten days on roads.
"It's unavoidable - unfortunately I'm not slipping out of the jungle on to the beach, although there is a little road that looks out on to the Atlantic.
"It will be wonderful. I can't tell you how long it seems to have taken. I was expecting it to be a year, but it seems like a lifetime."
Ed left Britain in March 2008, starting the journey at Camana in Peru with pal Luke Collyer, though they fell out just months into the trip.
Luke came home and Ed found another hiking partner, Peruvian guide Gadiel Rivera, known as "Cho".
Their achievement of walking from the river's source to its mouth has already attracted support from legendary explorer Sir Ranulph Fiennes, and Ed says: "I fully acknowledge it's a loony thing to do. But no one has ever done it on foot."
The pair used inflatable pack rafts to cross and recross the river and its flooded banks and used sat nav to pinpoint their route.
Perserverance ... Ed, here in Peruvian jungle, kept trekking despite unpleasent experiences
Perserverance ... Ed, here in Peruvian jungle, kept trekking despite unpleasent experiences
Keith Ducatel
Ed adds: "It's great to be so near the end. I'm not whingeing and struggling but physically I'm starting to fall apart. My joints feel funny, my elbow is ridiculously inflamed, my rucksack has been broken for two months and I've had a fly living in my head."
The gruesome insect, called a botfly, lays its eggs on mosquitos which then bite humans, depositing the eggs under the skin, where they start to grow.
In Ed's case it took superglue and a nasty-looking needle to get it out. But he reveals the most dangerous part of the trip was in Peru, where he and Cho crossed drug-trafficking territory.
Ed says: "The native people were telling me, 'You will die' every day. It can get to you after a while.
Whatever floats his boat ... Ed used inflatable rafts to cross the river
Whatever floats his boat ... Ed used inflatable rafts to cross the river
Keith Ducatel
"We were in an area that for a long time had been controlled by terrorists from the Shining Path communist group and they are very wary of outsiders.
"We were using high-frequency radios to tell the villages ahead we were coming. But one told us, 'If you come through you will die.'
"We came up with a back-up plan to cross over to an island that was a long sandbank instead.
"But as we were getting back to the shore we saw behind us five canoes with Indians with bows and arrows, shotguns and machetes.
Meeting the locals ... with Ashaninka Indians in Peru
Meeting the locals ... with Ashaninka Indians in Peru
Keith Ducatel
"They were furious and ready to kill us, but we were as persuasive as we could be. We were finally able to calm them down but it took over three hours."
Even so, Ed - who left the Army in 2002 after serving in Afghanistan - reckons the sheer duration of the trip has been the hardest part.
Crossing a continent ... Ed Stafford's amazing adventure
Crossing a continent ... Ed Stafford's amazing adventure
He says: "It's the mosquitos, the humidity, the biting ants, day after day. Things that weren't bothering me at first became a frustration, but I've stuck it out for nearly two and a half years."
At one point he was also detained under suspicion of murder near Contamana, in north-east Peru.
He recalls: "A person had gone missing, and as passing foreigners, people thought we may have done it. The villagers decided we couldn't go anywhere, until eventually the local authorities let us go."
Along the way there have also been dramatic encounters with wildlife and Ed says: "Electric eels were something I hadn't heard about beforehand.
"But as I now know they are dangerous and aggressive and can knock you out and even cause you to drown in the water.
"Luckily we've been through so many swamps and rivers and I think they are far more scared of us than we are of them.
"I've also seen lots of jaguar prints. The locals always say they are manhunters, but they've never been too close.
"Snakes are a real threat but only if you step on one.
Threat ... electric eel
Threat ... electric eel
"Cho had a snake fall on his shoulders but it wasn't venomous. We carry 48 hours' worth of anti-venom.
"There are loads of pit vipers, which are probably our main worry.
"Without anti-venom you would bleed from all parts of your body, including your eyes, and would be dead within three hours.
"You are more likely to see them coiled up beneath a stone. If we got bitten it would probably be a defensive strike." Ed says he can sometimes "completely switch off" during the walk but with the finish in sight he has increasingly been dreaming of home.
The food has often been extremely simple, with the pair mostly surviving on rice and beans, and while locals are usually friendly, their attitude to the pair has varied.

Anxiety

Ed says: "In Brazil people are more educated and more accepting, but in Peru they have had 30 years of terrorist activity and they have issues because they live in such high anxiety.
Danger ... pit viper
Danger ... pit viper
"They believe in something called a Pelacala - a gringo, or white man, who steals babies and babies' organs.
"All they have is word of mouth and lots of communities were just terrified to see me.
"I was walking with Cho and some Ama Indians who had to explain our presence, and their fear was very real.
"Maybe there have been body-parts traffickers in there in the past - it was hard to know.
"We tended to make ourselves available to communities, because otherwise they wonder why you are avoiding them.
"But I often had men standing around my hammock with guns all night to make sure I didn't steal their children."
The state of the Amazon rainforest on the trip has varied - in Peru the logging was difficult to detect but in the Para region of Brazil there are huge cattle ranches and vast areas that are now clear of trees.
Hazard ... jaguar
Hazard ... jaguar
Ed, from Mowsley, Leicestershire, says: "You do see that the younger generation here are growing up knowing they need to protect it.
"We should all keep the pressure on, although I think over the next ten years the amount of deforestation will decline rapidly.
"We seem to be at the beginning of a more conscientious era."
Ed says his trip has led to personal sacrifices - "like not having a girlfriend and being poor."
It has cost nearly £70,000 and was only made possible after his mum and a friend launched a flurry of fundraising and sponsorship half-way through.
Unwanted guest ... botfly
Unwanted guest ... botfly
Ed also admits he only decided on the epic journey after being dumped by a previous girlfriend in 2007. He adds: "It puts a pause on your love life - there just isn't any."
And he describes his ideal day once he is back in England.
He says: "My perfect day would be to wake up and have breakfast with my family and then play rugby at my club, Stoneygate.
"After that I would go out on the town and have a few beers. I can't wait."
I ask him what he feels he has learned on the trip and he says: "I thought I was one man and his rucksack against the Amazon.
"Instead I found I needed a great team around me.
"I couldn't have done it without Cho, my family or my friends."
For more information go to walkingtheamazon.com.




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Thursday, July 15, 2010

Lifestyles of the Rich and Tyrannical - By Joshua E. Keating | Foreign Policy


A tour of dictators' cribs


At Kim's Pyongyang residences, he's known for throwing lavish, all-night drinking parties for his top officials, usually including a bevy of scantily clad young women. Just how trashed do North Korea's best and brightest get at these events? According to the Hennessy company, the hard-partying leaderordered more than half a million dollars worth of cognac during the 1990s.

Lifestyles of the Rich and Tyrannical - By Joshua E. Keating | Foreign Policy

Top 3 Designer Defence Systems





Top 3 Designer Defence Systems



As we touched down with the Embraer EMB 120 in Geneva the other day, the lot was filled with sparsely coloured twin-turboprops of varying decent. The odd FlyBaboo Dash-8 and Swiss A320 were idling at the regular gates, but this is clearly not an airport made for regular passenger travel. It seems unfitting, somehow.



We were in this western Canton to discuss one of the most pressing challenges facing modern nation building today – the design of land-based artillery systems. Building a modern army is not simply a matter of heading down to IDEX in Abu Dhabi and buying the first armoured mortar system in sight. It takes commitment to the real issues involved in creating a sustainable defence system. Design being the primary concern, of course.
Our dinner discussions were long and infused by the local grapes from Domaine de Champlong, but we thought we’d summarize where the state of elegantly designed defence equipment stands, as of May 2010.
1. General Dynamics ASCOD2
Originally released back in 1992, this marvellous little collaboration between Santa Bárbara Sistemas and Steyr Daimler Puch in Austria got an update in 2003. We especially have our eyes on the Advanced Surveillance Vehicle, VCOAV.
2. CTA MTIP2
Sometimes, it’s all about the accessories. Add this turret to anything terrain-driven, and you’ve got yourself a handsome fighting machine.
3. M198 Howitzer
A classic that must be mentioned in these circumstances. 70′s designs are generally speaking nothing to write home about, but this field artillery unit has a certain je-ne-sais-quoi that refuses to fade.


Monday, July 12, 2010

NYTimes: Google’s Do-It-Yourself App Creation Software

We are all programmers now

From The New York Times:

Google's Do-It-Yourself App Creation Software

The company is offering a free software tool to make it easier for people to write applications for Android smartphones.

http://nyti.ms/b4S9UI

Get The New York Times on your iPhone for free by visiting http://itunes.com/apps/nytimes


Sent from my iPad

Sunday, July 11, 2010

NYTimes: Mafiosos’ Retreats, Peacefully Repurposed in Sicily

From The New York Times:

EXPLORER: Mafiosos' Retreats, Peacefully Repurposed in Sicily

Former Mafia leaders' farmhouses, seized by the government, now provide rustic lodgings for travelers.

http://nyti.ms/aNDhjS

At Agriturismo Portella della Ginestranear Piana degli Albanesi in Sicily, (39-328) 2134-597 or (39-091) 8574-810, a single room costs 45 euros a night, about $54 at $1.20 to the euro, and includes a breakfast of toast, croissants, fruit and coffee. Dinner for two, 30 to 40 euros.

At the Agriturismo Terre di Corleoneoutside Corleone, (39-339) 5247-626, rooms start at 40 euros, with a light breakfast.

Another farmhouse-inn in the Jato Valley that may be worth a stopover — though it is not part of the program for confiscated Mafia properties — isAgriturismo Sant'Agata, on the road between Piana degli Albanesi and Corleone; (39-338) 459-8654;agriturismosantagata.pa.it. It has 24 beds, a pool and a restaurant serving local food. Rooms are 60 euros a person for doubles, 75 for singles, with breakfast and dinner.

We had a good meal at the Leon D'Orohotel and restaurant in Corleone; Contrada Punzonotto; (39-091) 846-4287. At Agriturismo Argomesi di Riolo Giorgio, (39-091) 856-1008, a country retreat outside Piana degli Albanesi, a nice dinner for two was 30 euros. 



Get The New York Times on your iPhone for free by visiting http://itunes.com/apps/nytimes


Sent from my iPad

NYTimes: 36 Hours in Bogotá, Colombia

From The New York Times:

36 Hours in Bogota, Colombia

In just a few years, this subtropical city has clamped down on violence, cleaned up its act and emerged as the trendy capital of Colombian cool.

http://nyti.ms/bnwihJ

Get The New York Times on your iPhone for free by visiting http://itunes.com/apps/nytimes


Sent from my iPad

Thursday, July 8, 2010

Will Stoners Save the Democrats? -- Daily Intel - StumbleUpon

Democratic voters are not nearly as enthusiastic as Republican voters this year, probably because the former are generally somewhat content with the way things are going, while the latter fancy themselves modern-day revolutionaries tasked with saving the nation from certain destruction, perhaps with the help of zombie George Washington. But what if there were something that could spark the interest (the pun will become apparent shortly) of Democratic voters as much as socialist Kenyan debt-fetishists excite Republicans? Obviously, there is nothing that young, liberal voters love more than the thought of legalized marijuana, and luckily for Democrats, it could be on the ballot in up to six states this November.

According to a couple of political thinkers, Democratic-leaning voters who wouldn't really care about participating in congressional or gubernatorial elections this year might haul their lazy asses to the voting booth if they can help decriminalize marijuana, in the same way that gay-marriage initiatives likely bolstered Republican candidates — including George W. Bush — in 2004. Could an army of stoners really tip the balance in even a few races this year, maybe even keeping the House in Democratic hands? It's a dangerous group to rely on, obviously. The whole plan could fall apart with an unluckily timed Through the Wormhole With Morgan Freeman marathon.


Will Stoners Save the Democrats? -- Daily Intel - StumbleUpon

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