US cancels Presidental delegation to Paralympics in Russia

I am so proud to live in a country that can understand ANother country’s a wish for freedom and do something about it. I don’t think we should go to war, but we should make it uncomfortable for Mr Putin to continue his aggression.AVB

By Staff, Associated Press

Monday, March 3, 2014 – 10:50 a.m.

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Russian President Vladimir Putin, center, and Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu, left, and the commander of the Western Military District Anatoly Sidorov, right, walk upon arrival to watch military exercise near St.Petersburg, Russia, Monday, March 3, 2014. Putin has sought and quickly got the Russian parliament’s permission to use the Russian military in Ukraine.(AP Photo/RIA-Novosti, Mikhail Klimentyev, (Presidential Pressu Service)

WASHINGTON — The White House says the United States has decided not to send a presidential delegation to the Paralympic Games in Sochi, Russia.

The move is in retaliation for Russia’s military advances in Ukraine.

White House spokeswoman Caitlin Hayden says President Barack Obama still supports the U.S. athletes participating and wishes them success.

The U.S. and its allies are weighing sanctions and other potential consequences to persuade Russia to reverse course in Ukraine. Britain has also decided not to send ministers to the Paralympic Games, which start Friday.

Vice President Joe Biden spoke Monday to Russian Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev. The White House says Biden urged Russia to pull back its forces and made clear that Russia races increasing political and economic isolation is the situation isn’t resolved.

I hope we can agree or agree not to agree any to case let’s keep it all civil

Poll shows that American consumers are spending more

Americans’ self-reported daily spending rebounded in February to an average $87, after a sharp post-holiday decline to $78 in January.
Read more at GALLUP.com.

I hope we can agree or agree not to agree any to case let’s keep it all civil

Egypt’s military leaders unveil devices they claim can detect and cure AIDS

If this was not such a serious subject, this may have been funny. To put false hopes into people’s minds is one of the worst offenses one can do to another person. Having worked in this field for most of my adult life, I thought that the era of  weird devices meant to cure AIDS HIV was over, sadly I was mistaken. AVB
Devices, made public by the chief army engineer, are dismissed by experts around the world and called ‘shocking to scientists’

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Thursday 27 February 2014 20.36 EST
General Abdel Fatah el-Sisi, sitting down
General Abdel Fatah el-Sisi, who is expected to run for president of Egypt, attended the launch of the new device. Photograph: ITAR-TASS / Barcroft Media

Associated Press in Cairo

Egypt’s military leaders have come under ridicule after the chief army engineer unveiled what he described as a “miraculous” set of devices that detect and cure Aids, hepatitis and other viruses.

The claim, dismissed by experts and called “shocking to scientists” by the president’s science adviser, strikes a blow to the army’s carefully managed image as the saviour of the nation. It also comes as General Abdel Fatah el-Sisi, who toppled Mohammed Morsi in July after the Islamist leader ignored mass protests calling for him to step down, is expected to announce he will run for president.

The televised presentation – which was made to Sisi, the interim president Adly Mansour and other senior officials – raised concerns that the military’s offer of seemingly inconceivable future devices will draw Egypt back into the broken promises of authoritarian rule, when Hosni Mubarak frequently announced grand initiatives that failed to meet expectations.

“The men of the armed forces have achieved a scientific leap by inventing the detecting devices,” the military spokesman Colonel Ahmed Mohammed Ali wrote later on his official Facebook page. Ali said a patent has been filed under the name of the Armed Forces Engineering Agency.

Well-known writer Hamdi Rizk noted that video clips of the presentation had gone viral on social media, with tweets and blogs saying the military had made a fool of itself and put its reputation in jeopardy. “The marshal’s camp has been dealt a deep moral defeat,” he wrote in a column in Thursday’s Al-Masry Al-Youm newspaper. “God give mercy to … the reputation of the Egyptian army, which became the target of cyber shelling around the clock.”

Professor Massimo Pinzani, a liver specialist and director of the Institute for Liver and Digestive Health at University College London, said he attended a demonstration of the devices during a visit to Egypt but “was not given convincing explanations about the technology” and was not allowed to try it for himself.

“As it is at present, the device is proposed without any convincing technical and scientific basis and until this is clearly provided it should be regarded as a potential fraud,” he wrote in an email to The Associated Press. None of the research has been published in a reputable journal.

The uproar escalated when a scientific adviser to Egypt’s interim President Adly Mansour denounced the claim and said it has no scientific base. “What has been said and published by the armed forces harms the image of the scientists and science in Egypt,” Essam Heggy, a planetary scientist at the California Institute of Technology, told the daily newspaper El-Watan in remarks published on Wednesday. “All scientists inside and outside Egypt are in a state of shock.”

He added that both Mansour and Sisi were surprised and their presence in the audience did not indicate approval. The furore started when major general Taher Abdullah, the head of the Engineering Agency in the Armed Forces, gave a widely televised presentation to Sisi and other senior officials on what he calls an “astonishing miraculous scientific invention.”

Abdullah said two of the devices named C-Fast and I-Fast used electromagnetism to detect Aids, hepatitis and other viruses without taking blood samples while the third, named Complete Cure Device, acted as a dialysis unit to purify the blood. He also said the C-Fast, which looks like an antenna affixed to the handle of a blender, detected patients infected with viruses that cause hepatitis and Aids with a high success rate.

A short film aired during the presentation showed the engineering team’s leader major general Ibrahim Abdel-Atti telling a patient: “All the results are great, showing you had Aids but you were cured. Thank God.” The patient replies: “Thank God.”

The next day, Abdel-Atti and his team held their own press conference at which the scientist said “I take Aids from the patient and nourish the patient on the Aids by giving him a skewer of Aids kofta”. .

Gamal Shiha, head of the Association for Liver Patients Care, one of Egypt’s prominent centres that worked alongside with the military, said he was angry about the “hasty” announcements. He said only one of the devices – C-Fast – underwent thorough testing.

Shiha said the C-Fast uses electromagnetic frequencies similar to those used in bomb detectors and radars and had been tested on more than 2,000 patients with a high success rate. “The technology of C-Fast is effective without doubt,” he said. However, he dismissed the claims that the other two devices detect Aids and cure viruses.

Despite the scepticism, health ministry spokesman Mohammed Fathallah said the ministry recognises the devices as legitimate. Egypt’s former Health Minister Amr Helmi, a liver surgeon by profession, said C-Fast had been approved by the ministry two years ago but he had never before heard of the other two devices.

For the general public, the uproar added to the uncertainty already fueled by years of turmoil since Mubarak’s overthrow in February 2011. “I hope that the invention turns out to be true but I don’t have confidence this is the case,” said 35-year-old taxi driver Ahmed Morad. “I don’t believe anyone … everything is very confusing. It is like a salad.”

I hope we can agree or agree not to agree any to case let’s keep it all civil

List of Oscar winners

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Associated Press
By The Associated Press
3/2/14 20:42 PST

List of winners at Sunday’s 86th annual Academy Awards presented by the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences.

Best Picture: “12 Years a Slave.”

Actor: Matthew McConaughey, “Dallas Buyers Club.”

Actress: Cate Blanchett, “Blue Jasmine.”

Supporting Actor: Jared Leto, “Dallas Buyers Club.”

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Supporting Actress: Lupita Nyong’o, “12 Years a Slave.”

Directing: Alfonso Cuaron, “Gravity.”

Foreign Language Film: “The Great Beauty,” Italy.

Adapted Screenplay: John Ridley, “12 Years a Slave.”

Original Screenplay: Spike Jonze, “Her.”

Animated Feature Film: “Frozen.”
Lupita Nyong'o arrives at the Oscars …

Production Design: “The Great Gatsby.”

Cinematography: “Gravity.”

Sound Mixing: “Gravity.”

Sound Editing: “Gravity.”

Original Score: “Gravity,” Steven Price.

Original Song: “Let It Go” from “Frozen.”

Costume: “The Great Gatsby.”

Makeup and Hairstyling: “Dallas Buyers Club.”

Animated Short Film: “Mr. Hublot.”

Documentary Feature: “20 Feet from Stardom.”

Documentary (short subject): “The Lady in Number 6: Music Saved My Life.”
Matthew McConaughey, left, congratulates …

Film Editing: “Gravity.”

Live Action Short Film: “Helium.”

Visual Effects: “Gravity.”

___

Honorary Oscars:

— Peter W. Anderson.

— Film-processing labs over past century.

— Angelina Jolie.

— Angela Lansbury.

— Steve Martin.

— Piero Tosi.

I hope we can agree or agree not to agree any to case let’s keep it all civil

Putin and Obama clash on Ukraine during tense phone call

The stakes here are much higher for them than they are for the United States. Without adding the Ukraine to the Russian Federation, Putin faces a tough Road economically and this could have major consequences in his bid to remain President. I doubt if he’ll back down from this. AVB

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March 2, 2014
Michael Hughes
Geopolitics Examiner

President Barack Obama urged Russian President Vladimir Putin to withdraw forces from Ukraine on Saturday or face “greater political and economic isolation,” during a 90-minute phone conversation evocative of a Cold War contest of wills. Putin demurred, saying that Russia reserved the right to protect the lives of Russian citizens against the U.S.-backed “ultranationalists” that took over the government in Kiev last week.

Secretary of State John Kerry turned up the heat on Saturday night by condemning what he called “the Russian Federation’s invasion and occupation of Ukrainian territory,” according to a CNN report, while Russian Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev denied that a decision had been made regarding the dispatch of forces.

Yet Yegor Pyvovarov, spokesman for the Ukraine mission at the United Nations, claimed Russia had 15,000 troops in Ukraine’s Crimea region. Meanwhile, acting Ukrainian President Oleksandr Turchynov warned Russia that any military intervention would lead to war.

Russia has been roundly condemned by a number of Western countries after unmarked aircraft and masked men were detected crossing into the autonomous region of Crimea on Friday. But, according to Russia’s Foreign Ministry, all movements have been in accordance with basic Russian-Ukrainian agreements vis-à-vis the Black Sea Fleet.

Chairman of the Russian Federation Council, Valentina Matvienko, indicated that the Crimean government actually asked Moscow to send troops to Ukraine “to ensure the safety of the Black Sea Fleet and the Russian citizens living on Crimean territory.”

Russia acted in response to a plea by the newly-chosen prime minister of Autonomous Republic of Crimea, Sergei Aksyonov, who told local media on Saturday: “Taking into account my responsibility for the life and security of citizens, I ask Russian President Vladimir Putin to help in ensuring peace and calm on the territory of Crimea.”

The White House, in a statement released Saturday, said the U.S. would suspend participation in G8 summit meetings slated for June in Sochi and in coming days would “urgently consult with allies and partners in the UN Security Council, the North Atlantic Council, the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe, and with the signatories of the Budapest Memorandum.”

The statement also said that President Obama had made clear to Putin that “continued violation of Ukraine’s sovereignty and territorial integrity would negatively impact Russia’s standing in the international community.”

Paul Gregory chastised Obama in a Forbes piece by referring to the president as a “paper tiger” and accusing him of being “naïve enough to think that Putin will be deterred by international opprobrium.” Gregory also writes: “The constellation of forces – a political vacuum in Ukraine, a weak and indecisive U.S. president, and a European herd of cats — are aligned for him to get away with the annexation – formal or de facto – of a prized portion of Ukraine.”

In an exclusive interview with The Daily Beast entitled, “McCain Tells Obama How to Punish Putin,” Senator John McCain advocated for “the sanctioning of high-level Russian officials; restarting missile defense plans in Eastern Europe; and bringing Georgia, a former Soviet republic, into NATO.”

International legal expert Alexander Mercouris told RT on Saturday that a Russian military presence could actually stabilize Crimea in the midst of chaos caused by the ascendance of an illegitimate regime in Kiev. Eric Draitser accused the Western powers of hypocrisy, specifically blaming elements within the U.S, EU and NATO for instigating the unrest in the first place.

For months Ukraine’s Moscow-friendly government was locked in a bloody struggle against pro-Western factions before protesters finally took control of the capital on February 21, forced President Yanukovych to flee to Russia and set new presidential elections for May 25.

I hope we can agree or agree not to agree any to case let’s keep it all civil

Barely There? Chinese Company Debuts World’s Thinnest Condom

No visuals on this one. AVB
LiveScience.com 
By By Denise Chow, Staff Writer 
2/28/14

It’s so thin it set records. A Chinese company has created the world’s thinnest latex condom, snagging the Guinness World Record for the barely-there rubber.

The so-called Aoni condom measures just 0.0014 inches (0.036 millimeters) thick, beating the previous record-holder, Okamoto of Japan,reported The Province. The ultra-thin condom was manufactured by Guangzhou Daming United Rubber Products, a China-based company that produces roughly 200 million condoms annually.

Currently, the Aoni is available only in Asia, but Victor Chan, who led the project, is eventually hoping to introduce the product to North American markets. He said the design process for the thin but durable Aoni condom was challenging. [6 (Other) Great Things Sex Can Do For You]

“It was quite tricky,” Chan told The Province. “It took a lot of work to arrange the right mix and fine-tune the ingredients to give us the right performance.”

Chan is also working on developing a vibrating condom that targets a woman’s G-spot and a sanitizing condom that is coated in silver nanoparticles, reported The Province.

Innovations in condom technology have gained traction lately. Last year, the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation pledged funding for research into the development of new condoms that are more pleasurable to wear. The initiative aims to lower rates of unplanned pregnancies and reduce the spread of sexually transmitted diseases bymaking improvements to condoms and encouraging more people to use them.

One such project, led by researchers at the University of Tennessee in Knoxville, is attempting to use stretchy materials known as superelastomers to make condoms thinner. Another project, led by scientists at the University of Manchester in the U.K., is mixing latex with graphene — a form of carbon that has been dubbed a “super material” — to create condoms that are thinner, stronger and more elastic.

Both projects have received $100,000 from the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation.

In 2012, Planned Parenthood launched an initiative during National Condom Week to track the use of protection across western Washington state. Local Planned Parenthood chapters visited college and university campuses and distributed 55,000 condoms with QR (or Quick Response) printed on the packaging. Users were then invited to scan the codes with a smartphone after using the protection to “check in” anonymously on a map of safe sex.

In addition to more serious efforts, some innovators have taken to flexing their creative muscles when introducing new condom products. Last year, J & D’s Foods, headquartered in Seattle, unveiled its bacon condom, which is patterned to resemble a slab of bacon and is flavored with the company’s Baconlube.

Follow Denise Chow on Twitter @denisechow. Follow Live Science @livescience

I hope we can agree or agree not to agree any to case let’s keep it all civil

Obama Warns Russia of ‘Costs’ for Ukraine Intervention

The Russian Federation is struggling economically. It has based its economy on the hopes that the price of oil would go up. The stabilization of US relations with Iran and the quieting down of what’s happening in Syria and Egypt, has made for a more stable or oil supply which in turn means lower pricing for the barrel of oil. Without its satellites from the former Soviet Union, the Russian Federation’s economyhas many holes in it. This tug of war over Ukraine will be pivotal to Putin’s future.
Mary Bruce (@marykbruce)
Feb 28, 2014, 5:57 PM

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Obama Warns Russia Over Military Intervention in Ukraine
ABCNews.com
Amid reports of Russian military movement in Ukraine’s Crimea region, President Obama today warned Moscow there “will be costs” if Russia intervenes in Ukraine’s affairs.

“We are now deeply concerned by reports of military movements taken by the Russian Federation inside of Ukraine,” Obama told reporters in the White House Briefing Room. “Any violation of Ukraine’s sovereignty and territorial integrity would be deeply destabilizing, which is not in the interests of Ukraine, Russia or Europe. It would represent a profound interference in matters that must be determined by the Ukrainian people.

“It would be a clear violation of Russia’s commitment to respect the independence and sovereignty and borders of Ukraine, and of international laws,” he added. “The United States will stand with the international community in affirming that there will be costs for any military intervention in Ukraine.”

Making his first public comments on the crisis since Ukrainian President Viktor Yanukovich was pushed from power, Obama described the situation as “fluid.”

Russian military aircraft landed today at the military air base near Simferopol, Ukraine, U.S. officials told ABC News. They would not make an assessment of the flights or specify how many aircraft landed, but said the number was likely lower than the 13 reported by other media outlets.

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(Ivan Sekretarev/AP Photo)
“We’re monitoring the situation in the Crimea,” a Pentagon official said. “We’re not prepared to offer an assessment or characterize this fluid situation.”

Vice President Biden spoke with the prime minister of Ukraine today to “assure him that in this difficult moment, the United States supports his government’s efforts and stands for the sovereignty, territorial integrity and democratic future of Ukraine,” Obama said.

The Obama administration has cautioned Russia not to cross a “line” in Ukraine, but declined to speculate how the U.S. would respond if Russia ignores the warning.

“I’m not going to speculate about what happens if this happens,” press secretary Jay Carney told reporters today. “We’ve made clear that the United States supports the territorial integrity of Ukraine and the sovereignty of Ukraine. And we have made clear to Russia that we believe it would be a grave mistake to intervene in any way.”

I hope we can agree or agree not to agree any to case let’s keep it all civil

Rainmageddon hits Los Angeles!

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I actually heard a weather forecaster on TV last night call this 2 inch rain fall the name I called is in the title. So as all of our friends across the country not worry, this is a picture from my apartment in downtown Los Angeles we are still here and have not seen any signs of Noah or an Arch.

I hope we can agree or agree not to agree any to case let’s keep it all civil

The Google barge gets a new California home

Wacky! No its incredibly brilliant, making people talk without having to do anything is what Google does best. AVB

BYMARIELLA MOON  
@MARIELLA_MOON  
FEBRUARY 27TH, 2014 9:48PM ET 

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Still think of the Google Barge as a wacky idea from a company that makes more money than it knows what to do with? Well, Mountain View will soon prove that a floating building has its merits: for one, when the company gets in trouble with authorities, it can get the hell out of dodge… literally. According to CNET, the vessel is slated to set sail to Stockton, California, after it was discovered in early February that it didn’t have a construction permit in San Francisco. The barge is still a work in progress (hence the need for the proper paperwork), but once it’s done, it will showcase the company’s more avant-garde creations likeGlass, autonomous cars and other projects from Google X’s lab.

Google’s moving because the 35-day window it got from the San Francisco Bay Conservation and Development Commission to secure a permit is almost up. Without the permit, Google’s liable to be fined up to $30,000. Clearly, even though 30 grand is pocket change for the tech giant, it chose to pack its bags and finish construction in friendlier waters (read: outside BCDC’s jurisdiction). A rep from the Treasure Island neighborhood (where the barge is currently moored) said the vessel could leave as soon as next week, and since Stockton’s just on the other side of the bay from SF, it’ll be there in no time. Fingers crossed that Google can now focus on finishing construction, because we can’t wait to confirm if the barge’s party deck exists.

I hope we can agree or agree not to agree any to case let’s keep it all civil

Federal judge strikes down Texas gay marriage ban

Doug Stanglin, USA TODAY
2/26/14 12:32 PST

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And another 1 bites the dust hey hey another 1 bites the dust!
Eric Gay, AP

Mark Phariss, left, clutches the hand of partner Victor Holmes, right, as they talk to the media outside the U.S. Federal Courthouse on Wednesday, Feb. 12, 2014, in San Antonio.

A federal judge, saying he was complying with the U.S. Constitution and not trying to defy the people of Texas, struck down Texas’ ban on gay marriage, but left it in place Wednesday pending a ruling by an appeals court later this year.

Judge Orlando Garcia issued his ruling in Austin in response to a challenge by two gay couples of the state’s 2005 constitutional amendment, which had been approved by 76 percent of voters, and a 2003 law banning gay marriage.

Garcia’s decision, however, rejected the argument by the office of Texas Attorney General said each state has the right to define marriage as best fits the traditions of its citizens. Texas also argued that traditional marraige best supports the state’s interest in the area of procreation and child rearing.

“Today’s Court decision is not made in defiance of the great people of Texas or the Texas Legislature, but in compliance with the United States Constitution and Supreme Court precedent,” Garcia wrote. “Without a rational relation to a legitimate governmental purpose, state-imposed inequality can find no refuge in our United States Constitution.”

Under federal court rules, a judge may suspend a law if he or she believes the plaintiffs have a strong case and will suffer if the law is enforced.

Lawsuits are pending in some 20 states that ban gay marriage.

Seventeen states and the District of Columbia allow same-sex marriages.

I hope we can agree or agree not to agree any to case let’s keep it all civil