Einstein on God


All of you out there who still insist on arguing that Albert Einstein was a religious man who believed in God, you may want to watch this video. TGO

Video: YouTube

 

 

 

 

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IS claims deadly Afghan suicide attack: President Ghani


The ragheads continue their assault on the human race, more specifically Muslims…

How stupid can a people be? Here’s a group of people, one of hundreds in Islam, who hates the West, yet all they do all day, every day, is kill other Muslims! All in the name of Allah and Muhammad of course, let’s not forget that. TGO

Refer to story below. Source: Associated Press

AFP
A burqa-clad Afghan pedestrian walks past security personnel at the site of a suicide attack outside a bank in Jalalabad on April 18, 2015

Jalalabad (Afghanistan) (AFP) – The Islamic State group claimed responsibility for a suicide attack in Afghanistan Saturday that killed 33 people and wounded more than 100 others, President Ashraf Ghani said, in what appears to be the first major attack by the jihadists in the country.

Ghani’s government has repeatedly raised the ominous prospect of IS making inroads into Afghanistan, though the group that has captured swathes of territory in Syria and Iraq has never formally acknowledged having a presence in Afghanistan.

The Taliban have seen defections to the group in recent months, with some self-styled IS insurgents voicing their disaffection with their one-eyed supreme leader Mullah Omar, who has not been seen since the 2001 US-led invasion of Afghanistan.

On Saturday a suicide bomber killed 33 people and wounded 115 others outside the state-run Kabul Bank in the eastern city of Jalalabad as government officials were drawing their salaries, in the deadliest attack since November.

The scene of the bombing showed the gruesome scale of the carnage with victims lying in pools of blood and body parts scattered across the ground.

“Who claimed responsibility for horrific attack in Nangarhar today? The Taliban did not claim responsibility for the attack, Daesh (IS) claimed responsibility,” Ghani said, without offering any further details.

“Thirty-three dead bodies and more than 100 wounded were brought to the hospital,” Dr Najeebullah Kamawal, head of the provincial hospital, told AFP.

The UN gave a higher toll, saying 35 people had been killed and provincial government spokesman Ahmad Zia Abdulzai said 115 people were wounded, four of them critically.

Separately, two explosives-rigged motorcycles were discovered in Jalalabad and destroyed with controlled detonations, the interior ministry said.

Ghani strongly condemned the suicide attack, in which children were among those killed, his office said in a statement.

The attack comes as Afghanistan braces for what is expected to be a bloody push by the Taliban — still the most potent threat to the government — at the start of the spring fighting season.

However, the Taliban swiftly denied responsibility for Saturday’s carnage — as it often does for attacks with large civilian casualties.

“The announcement by the IS today is alarming, if verified, and would mean that Afghanistan should prepare for a bloody summer — maybe the bloodiest in the past 14 years,” Haroon Mir, a Kabul-based political analyst, told AFP.

“We have been seeing Taliban commanders switching allegiance to IS and raising their black flag… but the IS presence has never been confidently confirmed and we still have to be cautious about claims made in the name of IS.”

The militants have stepped up attacks on government and foreign targets since Washington announced a delay in troop withdrawals from Afghanistan.

The uptick in attacks in recent days has taken a heavy toll on ordinary Afghans.

The number of civilians killed and wounded in Afghanistan jumped 22 percent in 2014, a recent UN report said, as NATO troops withdrew from combat.

The United Nations Assistance Mission in Afghanistan (UNAMA) attributed the rise to an intensification in ground fighting, resulting in a total of 10,548 civilian casualties last year.

In a statement UNAMA condemned Saturday’s attack and the “indiscriminate tactic it represents, which is exacting such an unacceptable toll on Afghan civilians”.

NATO’s combat mission formally ended in December but a small follow-up foreign force has stayed on to train and support the local security forces.

US President Barack Obama last month backpedalled on plans to shrink the US force in Afghanistan this year by nearly half, an overture to the country’s new reform-minded leader, Ghani.

Hosting Ghani at the White House for their first presidential face-to-face meeting, Obama agreed to keep the current level of 9,800 US troops until the end of 2015.

The Taliban, who have waged a deadly insurgency since they were ousted from power in late 2001, warned that the announcement would damage any prospects of peace talks as they vowed to continue fighting.

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Colossal Ancient Galaxies Die from the Inside Out


Astrophysics is such an amazing field. There is so much mystery; so much to speculate on and so much to discover. In this day and age, when so much is known about our world, it is so fascinating to have the Universe to explore. It’s like an empty canvas in an artist’s studio. Except in this case the artists are scientists and the art is the purest of all… SCIENCE. TGO

Refer to story below. Source: SPACE.com

SPACE.com

Colossal Ancient Galaxies Die from the Inside Out

The largest ancient galaxies stopped forming stars in their cores about three billion years after the Big Bang, with this end of star birth spreading from the inside out in so-called “dead” galaxies, scientists say.

A new survey of 22 elliptical galaxies (most of which were the same size or larger than our own Milky Way) revealed that the most massive galaxies from about 10 billion years ago have stopped forming stars in their centers while formation continued on the outskirts.

“These galaxies lived 10 billion years in the past — three billion years after the Big Bang — and are star-forming at high rates, and are the progenitors of the massive dead galaxies of today’s universe,” lead author Sandro Tacchella, a Ph.D. student at ETH Zurich’s institute for astronomy in Switzerland, told Space.com.

The survey of ancient elliptical galaxies adds fuel to an ongoing debate about how the star shutdown occurs. One leading theory says that a supermassive black hole drives gas out and disrupts star formation, while the other supposes there is a yet-unexplained mechanism that switches off the gas supply in the center.

Tacchella said data from his study would support either of these two contentions, or even a combination of the two. Also interesting was the smaller, elliptical galaxies from this era were still churning out stars throughout their masses. Why is still poorly understood.

“The smaller galaxies are doubling their mass at the same pace in their inner and outer parts,” he said. He added this same phenomenon was observed in younger galaxies closer to us.

Tacchella said he tackled this research problem because he is interested in how galaxies form stars in terms of physical mechanisms.

Figuring out what stopped the star formation in these massive galaxies will require more observations, he said. Astronomers call these elliptical galaxies “red and dead” as they contain a lot of old, dead red stars, but fewer blue youngsters.

The study of 22 galaxies ate up 300 hours of observing time between the orbiting Hubble Space Telescope and the European Southern Observatory’s Very Large Telescope in Chile. The VLT looked at the spectra (light distribution) of stars, showing where the young ones were. Hubble was used to trace the older stars, showing the stellar mass distribution of galaxies.

The sheer amount of time would be difficult to replicate given the high observing time demands on these observatories, Tacchella said. He plans a further, focused study with Hubble that will look at the 10 largest galaxies to study their star formation habits more closely.

Better resolution will soon be available to astronomers as well as new observatories come online that can peer further back in time to galaxies that formed closer to the Big Bang, Tacchella said.

NASA’s James Webb Space Telescope is set to fly in 2018. On the ground, the most massive optical telescope in the world – the European Extremely Large Telescope (E-ELT), with a 39-meter (128-foot) mirror – is expected to be finished by 2024.

The research was published today in the April 16 edition of the journal Science.

Follow Elizabeth Howell @howellspace, or Space.com @Spacedotcom. We’re also on Facebook and Google+. Originally published on Space.com.

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New clue sheds some light on mysterious ‘dark matter’


Interesting stuff… TGO

Refer to story below. Source: Associated Press

AFP

This August 27, 2008 image taken by the Hubble Space Telescope and Chandra X-ray Observatory shows a clear separation between dark and ordinary matter

Paris (AFP) – Scientists on Tuesday said they had found tantalising evidence suggesting “dark matter” — the mysterious substance believed to comprise most of the Universe’s mass — may be more dynamic than thought.

Theorised by physicists back in the 1930s, dark matter cannot be seen by telescopes, and its existence is inferred indirectly, through its gravitational effects on visible matter.

Calculations based on the Standard Model of cosmology suggest it accounts for nearly 85 percent of the mass in the Universe, stretching out in clumpy tendrils that enfold galaxies.

But until now, that was pretty much all we knew, said Richard Massey, an astrophysicist at Durham University, northeastern England, who led the new study.

“Everything that we’ve known about dark matter until now is that it sits around doing nothing, affects the Universe around it but doesn’t do anything else,” he said in an interview with AFP.

“We’ve found for the first time that it may have more tricks up its sleeve — it might be affecting things around it in other ways, through other forces.”

The evidence comes from a unique chance, using the US Hubble orbital telescope and the European Southern Observatory’s Very Large Telescope in Chile.

Together, the two high-powered facilities viewed the simultaneous collision of four distant galaxies at the centre of a galaxy cluster a very distant 1.3 billion light years from Earth.

What grabbed the astronomers’ attention was that one dark matter clump seemed to be lagging behind the galaxy it surrounds.

The gap was big — 5,000 light years, or 50,000 million million kilometres (31 million million miles).

– ‘Pea-souper’ –

The lag was apparently caused by a “fog” of dark matter and hydrogen atoms, which slowed the advance of the dark-matter clump, said Massey.

“It’s like moving through a thick pea-souper, so thick that you get a little bit of friction from it as you walk down the street, and it slows you down,” Massey said in a phone interview.

“(The galaxy’s) dark matter has taken a different trajectory and ended up in a different place,” he said. “This is really amazing, because we don’t see this in any other galaxy.”

What the interaction is remains unclear — it could be a well-known force or something exotic, but it is clearly not gravity.

Massey admitted that the discovery only slightly moved the needle when it came to learning more about dark matter.

But it did validate a theoretical pathway about the enigmatic stuff.

“It’s embarrassing how little we know about dark matter,” he said.

“Until now, we’ve known almost nothing. As far as we could tell, it didn’t interact in any way.

“But there are lots of theoretical models about what dark matter might be and what it could do, and some of them did in fact suggest it would interact in certain ways.”

The study appears in the British journal Monthly Notices of the Royal Astronomical Society (RAS).

Liliya Williams, a professor at the University of Minnesota, said that dark matter — far from being inert — could turn out to interact with more forces than just gravity.

“The parallel Universe going on around us has just got interesting,” Williams said in a press release. “The dark sector could contain rich physics and potentially complex behaviour.”

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Photographer’s Chilling Image of Attacking Lion Will Put Terror in Your Heart


Idiot. He’s lucky to be alive. TGO

Refer to story below. Source: Good Morning America

Good Morning America
Photographer's Chilling Image of Attacking Lion Will Put Terror in Your Heart

A man from Pakistan was almost attacked by a lion after going inside its home in Lahore Zoo Safari to get up-close and take photographs.

The photograph just moments before the lion made an offensive move is now going viral on the Internet.

Nature photographer Atif Saeed, 38, told ABC News today the exhilarating experience was “indescribable.”

Saeed said he captured the breathtaking photo in January of 2012 when he was granted the opportunity to go inside the lion’s habitat to take a photo.

He drove his car in and sat on the ground near the car with the door left open, he said, adding he was only a “jump away from the lion.”

“The feel of the aggressive, approaching lion from the camera is something that can’t be described,” Saeed said. “I was witnessing every small detail of movement that no photograph or movie can show.”

Saeed said the lion seemed to treat him like prey and after a few minutes, the lion “offensively moved” in an attempt to attack him, so he immediately jumped in the car and luckily escaped unscathed.

“It was a pretty close encounter,” he said. “I was laughing afterwards at the time, but I don’t think I’d ever be able to do something like that again.”

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Those Weird Atheists


An excellent article on atheism in general and the mindset of the American public. TGO

ByS. A. Joyce

Although there have been non-believers and skeptics as long as there has been religion, atheists have recently received an inordinate amount of unfavorable publicity. Modern anti-atheist sentiment had its roots in the nineteenth century, when new scientific discoveries unexpectedly debunked popular religious creation myths. Angry reaction was sparked among religious fundamentalist splinter groups, and the fuss and bluster attracted public attention. Soon fundamentalists, long considered extremist crackpots, found their ranks of followers swelling as considerable numbers of the public sided with them in reaction against the “godless scientists,” and the movement took off.

But the worst of it came down in the twentieth century, as news of the atrocities of the new Soviet regime filtered out to the West. Following the Russian Revolution, the Marxists had done everything in their power to obliterate established religion, in the belief that only those who rejected religious allegiances could be regarded as true patriots of the Soviet state and unwavering supporters of the communist system. Naturally there was a global backlash. Within its borders the Soviet Union was able to steam-roll such objections with threats and brute force; but outside the Soviet sphere reactionary sentiment in favor of religion was bolstered by such repressionist tactics. It was a natural (if rather irrational) response to view communism, and anything associated with it (including atheism) as evil.

By the time of the McCarthy era in the United States, anti-atheist sentiment had become rabid; since all communists were atheists, it was erroneously but ardently argued, then all atheists must be communists! If an American at that time had the audacity to express a disbelief in God, he was likely to be publicly condemned as a communist sympathizer, even if in fact he had no such political leanings. He could wake up one morning to find himself without a job, his home mortgage foreclosed, and his children expelled from public school. In the anti-communist hysteria, the United States of America was taking on many of the fear-and-hate aspects of the very regime whose policies it ostensibly opposed.

Then along came Madalyn Murray O’Hair and the now famous organization which she founded, American Atheists. Her militant activism forced people to take a second look, not so much at atheism itself, but at the coercive religious influence which government was more and more permitting upon itself, which frequently led to religiously biased public policy in direct violation of the First Amendment to the U.S. Constitution. Largely through O’Hair’s efforts the American public (at least the intellectual portion of it) was gradually re-educated to the facts that godless-communist-atheist is not a single word, and that people can disbelieve in God and still be patriotic and law-abiding Americans, with solid moral values and a love of liberty, and fully entitled to all the rights enjoyed by their fellow citizens. She reminded us that the underlying vitality and creativity which had propelled America so far so fast in less than two centuries was born, not of the singularity of belief traditionally enforced by the Old World, but of the diversity of belief (including even disbelief) exemplified by the New World. And she presented as evidence of this that many of America’s most prominent benefactors, such as Franklin, Jefferson, Madison, Twain, Edison, and Einstein, to name but a few, had been atheists, agnostics, deists, and other freethinkers outside the religious mainstream.

Unfortunately, in her role as “America’s most visible atheist,” Dr. O’Hair’s attention-getting public demeanor also fueled a public misperception that perhaps all atheists were like her — maybe not “evil,” but abrasive, loud, and offensive, with an anti-religion axe to grind — at bottom an image not too dissimilar from the “wild-eyed college radical” stereotype which the McCarthy faction had promoted. While O’Hair had succeeded in reaching those who listen with their minds, the more emotionalistic majority remained as convinced as ever that atheism was a disruptive influence and that atheists were undesirable troublemakers.

But in fact, most atheists are quite unassuming. The average atheist is your neighbor down the street, the smiling check-out clerk at the discount store, your child’s school teacher, your family doctor, your stock broker, your plumber, your auto mechanic. He (or she) has a family and friends. He goes to work every day. He grumbles about prices and taxes. He participates in community activities. Quite likely he is a military veteran. And on election day he votes for Democrats or Republicans. He is a capitalist; he saves or invests regularly, and he may even own his own business. He is ordinary in every sense — except that he does not find the conventional rationale for belief in the supernatural at all convincing.

The average atheist is comfortable with his own religious point of view, and has little if any interest in converting others to it. But by the same token he does not appreciate others, whether strangers, friends, or family members, badgering him to accept their beliefs and traditions. And he certainly resents the effort of government, acting on behalf of religion, to indoctrinate his children in the public schools — using his own tax dollars to do so! After all, the average Christian American would be outraged at the expenditure of tax money to promote non-Christian religion in public schools; why then should non-Christians (including not only atheists, but followers of other religious persuasions) be expected to sit quiet and uncomplaining while their own government attempts to christianize them and their children?

No, aside from their rejection of belief in the supernatural, atheists are no different from anyone else. As free citizens they believe as they see fit, and respect the freedom of others to believe differently. Like anyone else, they feel entitled to their belief, and are justifiably annoyed at anyone who dares insinuate that they are not. And they are sick and tired of being portrayed as “bad” people by ignorant political demagogues and other panderers of fear and hate. Weird? Not at all; they’re just as normal — just as human — as you and I.

= SAJ =

The author grants permission to copy and distribute this document, in whole or in part, provided that remarks are neither taken out of context nor edited to distort their meaning, and provided that credit is given to the author, and provided that no charge whatever is made for such copies or distribution without the author’s written consent.

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HBO scientology film proves popular for network


The Church of Scientology is a corrupt, criminal organization. Everyone with half a brain knows that; doesn’t say much for church members does it? I know an individual who is a high-ranking member of this church and have, along with another friend of mine, done a fairly good amount of research into this bogus organization.

Anyone interested in finding out what this “church” is all about, its practices, legal issues and beliefs can do so for themselves. I encourage anyone reading this Blog to investigate for themselves. TGO

Refer to story below. Source: Associated Press

Associated Press
FILE - In this Jan. 25, 2015 file photo, director Alex Gibney, left, Sara Bernstein, Senior Vice President of Programming for HBO Documentaries, and author/producer Lawrence Wright, right, attend the premiere of "Going Clear: Scientology and the Prison of Belief" during the 2015 Sundance Film Festival in Park City, Utah. The documentary has been seen by more than 5.5 million people since its debut two weeks ago. It is likely to wind up being second only to a 2013 movie on Beyonce as the premium cable network's most-watched documentary of the past decade, HBO said Monday, April 13, 2015. (Photo by Arthur Mola/Invision/AP, File)

NEW YORK (AP) — If the Church of Scientology was hoping that HBO’s withering documentary on the religion’s practices would pass by with little notice, that turned out to be a miscalculation.

“Going Clear: Scientology and the Prison of Belief” has been seen by more than 5.5 million people since its debut two weeks ago. It is likely to wind up being second only to a 2013 movie on Beyonce as the premium cable network’s most-watched documentary of the past decade, HBO said Monday.

It has been an extraordinary two months for HBO’s film unit. The six-part series on billionaire Robert Durst, “The Jinx,” was a sensation with its climax reaching nearly 5 million viewers. Durst was arrested for murder on the eve of the series’ last episode, in part due to evidence uncovered by the filmmakers.

The Church of Scientology ran a full-page advertisement in The New York Times denouncing the film before it ran, questioning whether “Going Clear” would turn out to be like Rolling Stone magazine’s since-retracted story about an alleged sexual assault at the University of Virginia.

“I didn’t think we expected this kind of noise and this kind of energy, but we’ll take it,” said Sheila Nevins, the veteran chief of HBO’s documentary unit. “I didn’t think it would be this controversial.”

Director Alex Gibney made “Going Clear,” based on the book by Lawrence Wright. Gibney also did “Mea Maxima Culpa: Silence in the House of God,” an investigation into sex abuse in the Catholic Church, for HBO.

Although “Going Clear” details church attempts to respond aggressively to people questioning their practices, Nevins said she was surprised at how church lawyers and officials questioned the film and HBO before it aired.

“I really thought they would be smart to keep their mouths shut and let it go by,” she said.

HBO’s Beyonce film was seen by more than 9 million people, and both parts of a 2006 film on Hurricane Katrina reached more than 6 million viewers, according to the Nielsen company. Since HBO is still airing “Going Clear” regularly and it is available on demand and via stream, HBO said it expects this year’s film to surpass the “When the Levees Broke” film.

Nevins said she’s already worried about what she can do to follow up the current success.

“How do you match Durst going into the bathroom (and discussing the murders he stands accused of)?” she said. “How do you match people taking out a full-page ad in the New York Times and it’s not your obituary?

“The real problem for anxiety-prone people like me is what comes next,” she said.

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Taliban attack kills 18 Afghan soldiers; some beheaded


Most societies mark their seasons with the start of sporting events, such as baseball in the spring or football in the fall. In Islamic societies such as Afghanistan, they mark their seasons by fighting, such as the ‘summer fighting season’. Once again, we’re dealing with barbarians here. TGO

Refer to story below. Source: Associated Press

Associated Press

KABUL, Afghanistan (AP) — Taliban fighters swarmed over Afghan army posts in the country’s northeast, killing at least 18 soldiers and beheading some in a major attack to mark the start of the country’s summer fighting season, authorities said Monday.

The assault marks a grim first summer battle for Afghan forces, now fighting largely alone after the U.S. and NATO ended their combat mission in the country at the start of this year. The attack in Badakhshan’s Jurm district happened Friday, though officials only offered details about it days later as they pledged to investigate the apparent rout.

Some 250 Taliban fighters overran the posts, said Gul Mohammad Bidar, the province’s deputy governor. Ahmad Nawid Froutan, a spokesman for the provincial governor, said the attack killed 18 soldiers, with eight of their bodies beheaded. He said Afghan troops killed 19 Taliban fighters, eight of them foreigners, and that the insurgents fled after reinforcements arrived to the area.

The Defense Ministry said earlier Monday that the attack caused 30 soldiers to be “killed, wounded or become missing.” The ministry said it was conducting an investigation into the attack, which it said came from unspecified “neglect” by an army officer there. It said the fighters looted military equipment and set fire to vehicles it couldn’t take.

The Taliban claimed responsibility for the attack and said they killed 49 soldiers. The Taliban often exaggerates their claims.

The major attack comes as Afghanistan enters its summer fighting season, as snow melts in its mountain passes and extremists launch more attacks.

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Obama meets Raul Castro in highest-level U.S.-Cuba talks in decades


Cuba is lost. Even if the embargo were to end today and Cuba’s infrastructure, destroyed by over 50 years of communism, were fixed in five years, the people would still be all f*cked up. Communism is a failed system, it gives those in power all of the wealth and offers nothing to the underclass. Two generations of this system has robbed the Cuban people of pride and ambition. TGO

Refer to story below. Source: Reuters

Reuters

Obama

PANAMA CITY (Reuters) – President Barack Obama met Cuban President Raul Castro on Saturday in the highest-level talks between the two countries in nearly 60 years, and the two men agreed to push ahead on improving relations after decades of hostility.

Describing their private meeting as “historic,” Obama said the two countries can now end the antagonism of the Cold War era, although he said he would continue to pressure the communist-led country on democracy and human rights.

“Obviously there are still going to be deep and significant differences between our two governments,” Obama told Castro as they met in Panama, where they both attended a summit of leaders from across the Americas.

The U.S. president said he believed both sides could raise their concerns about the other’s policies yet still work together to boost commercial, travel and diplomatic ties.

“The Cold War is over … Cuba is not a threat to the United States,” Obama later told reporters, pointing out that at 53, he wasn’t even born when Castro and his brother Fidel seized power in the 1959 Cuban revolution.

The meeting followed a landmark agreement in December, when Obama and Castro announced they would move to normalize relations, including seeking to restore diplomatic ties that were broken off by Washington in 1961.

Obama said he decided to overturn longstanding U.S. policy on Cuba because the old approach of open hostility and economic sanctions had failed to force through major changes on the Caribbean island and it was time to try something new.

Since then, he has relaxed some restrictions on travel and trade with Cuba, although a longstanding economic embargo remains in place.

At their 80-minute meeting on Saturday, almost unimaginable until recently, Obama and Castro sat side by side in polished, wooden chairs in a small conference room. The mood was described by Obama aides as cordial but businesslike.

Both men wore dark suits and each nodded and smiled as the other spoke. Obama towered over Castro when they stood up to shake hands in front of reporters before starting their meeting.

Castro said he would continue to take steps toward normalizing relations, and was open to discussing human rights and other issues.

“So we are willing to discuss everything, but we need to be patient, very patient. Some things we will agree on; others we will disagree,” said the 83-year-old leader, who took over as president of Cuba in 2008 when Fidel Castro stepped aside because of ill health.

During a summit session earlier, Castro apologized to Obama for a series of impassioned broadsides against the United States for its Cold War attempts to topple communist rule on the island.

He said the U.S. leader was not to blame for any of those policies of the past, and called him “an honest man”.

CAUTIOUS REFORMS

Castro has already undertaken some market-style reforms to try to strengthen Cuba’s economy but he is moving cautiously and he has made clear that he has no intention of allowing an end to communist rule.

Obama, a Democrat, has faced some criticism inside the U.S. Congress for his dramatic shift on Cuba policy. Critics say he has given up too much without first insisting on political reform on the island.

The last time the leaders of the two countries held a substantive meeting was in 1956, when Dwight Eisenhower was U.S. president and Fulgencio Batista was the U.S.-backed dictator in power in Havana.

The Castro brothers toppled Batista in a revolution on January 1, 1959 and relations between the United States and Cuba quickly deteriorated.

Fidel Castro became a Cold War ally of the Soviet Union and the rivalries took the world to the brink of a nuclear war during the Cuban Missile Crisis in October, 1962.

As relations now improve, Obama is close to removing Cuba from a U.S. list of countries that it says sponsor terrorism. Raul Castro’s government has called Cuba’s inclusion on the list a hindrance to restoring diplomatic ties.

A senior U.S. official said Obama will make his decision in coming days. Lawmakers are extremely unlikely to block the move.

Since 1977, the two countries have maintained contact through interests sections in Havana and Washington and in recent years they have cooperated on migration, drug trafficking and other issues.

Cuba was placed on the U.S. terrorism list in 1982 when it was supporting Marxist rebel groups in Latin America but that backing stopped with the end of the Cold War.

Obama said on Saturday that his new Cuba policy has majority support among Americans and the overwhelming backing of Cubans.

In the United States, polls show that support for a more collaborative relationship with Havana has grown steadily in recent years, even in the Cuban-American community that for decades fiercely opposed Fidel Castro and overwhelmingly opposed ties with Havana.

Obama can continue to ease specific sanctions. But the overall trade embargo against Cuba can be overturned only by the Republican-controlled Congress.

The president’s changes to Cuba policy are part of a broader approach of being open to finding common ground with traditional foes of the United States. Despite criticism from opponents, his government has pushed for the negotiations between Iran and major powers aimed at curbing Tehran’s nuclear program.

Speaking at the summit earlier on Saturday, Obama challenged Latin American leaders to improve human rights and democracy and stop using past U.S. policies as “a handy excuse” for political problems they face at home, a clear reference to leftist governments in Venezuela, Cuba, Ecuador and others.

“The Cold War has been over for a long time. I’m not interested in having battles that frankly started before I was born,” Obama said. “What I am interested in is solving problems and working with you.”

(Additional reporting by Daniel Trotta and David Alire Garcia; Writing by Simon Gardner; Editing by Kieran Murray and Frances Kerry)

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Dzhokhar Tsarnaev’s mother: ‘My sons are innocent’


Some people really are twisted. And when it comes to Muslims, they’re the norm. I understand that she is the mother of the two scum-bags, but is she that stupid or so afflicted with Islamic cancer that she can’t reason? Either way, who cares? TGO

Refer to story below. Source: Yahoo News 

‘The terrorists are the Americans and everyone knows it,’ Zubeidat Tsarnaeva writes

Dylan Stableford

Yahoo News 

Zubeidat Tsarnaeva, right, mother of Tamerlan and Dzhokhar Tsarnaev
 

The mother of Boston Marathon bomber Dzhokhar Tsarnaev condemned the guilty verdict delivered by the jury in his federal death penalty trial on Wednesday, calling Americans “terrorists” and proclaiming her sons’ innocence.

In an interview with the website Vocativ conducted over the WhatsApp messaging application, Zubeidat Tsarnaeva insisted on the innocence of her Chechen sons, Dzhokhar and Tamerlan Tsarnaev, who planted the twin bombs that killed 3 people and wounded nearly 300 others near the finish line of the 2013 marathon. She went on to say that the United States will ultimately pay for “framing” them.

“MY SONS ARE INNOCENT, AS INNOCENT AS ALL THOSE WHO ARE BEING KILLED BY YOUR COUNTRY,” Zubeidat Tsarnaeva wrote, according to the website. “TODAY THEY ARE KILLING MUSLIMS, AND TOMORROW WILL COME YOUR TURN AND HE WHO DOUBTS THIS IS DEEPLY MISTAKEN!!!!!”

Tsarnaeva, who is of Avar origin and lives in Dagestan, wrote the text messages in both Russian and English, according to Vocativ, which obtained her phone number and verified her identity through dated selfies she provided.

“HOW CAN A MOTHER FEEL WHOSE SON IS IN THE CLAWS OF A PREDATOR PREPARING TO TEAR HIM TO PIECES LIKE MEAT???” she wrote. “THEY WILL PAY FOR MY SONS AND THE SONS OF ISLAM, PERMANENTLY!!! THE TEARS OF THEIR MOTHERS WILL BE FUEL FOR THEM IN HELL, AND ALSO THEIR BLOOD, I AM DOUBTLESS AND ETERNALLY GLAD THAT I KNOW THIS FROM THE WORDS OF THE CREATOR, NOT JUST ANYONE’S WORDS!!!!!!”

In a separate note posted to a Russian social media site, Tsarnaeva thanked a family friend for her support of “my precious boy.”

“The terrorists are the Americans and everyone knows it,” she wrote. “My son is the best of the best.”

The jury found Tsarnaev guilty on all 30 counts for his role in the deadly attacks, which killed three people and injured nearly 300.

At the outset of the trial, Tsarnaev’s lawyers admitted that he participated in the attacks.

“It was him,” defense attorney Judy Clarke told jurors during opening arguments.

The jurors will now decide whether Tsarnaev will get the death penalty.

Tsarnaeva — who lived with her sons in Cambridge, Mass., before returning to Dagestan in 2012 after being arrested for shoplifting — had been virtually silent during the trial. But in the days following Dzhokhar’s 2013 arrest, Tsarnaeva called the charges against the brothers “all lies and hypocrisy.”

At an April 25, 2013, news conference in Makhachkala, the capital of Dagestan, a defiant Zubeidat said her sons had been framed “because they were Muslim” and that the bombings were staged by the FBI using actors “doused in fake blood.”

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NASA’s chief scientist says we’ll find aliens by 2025 — here’s the most likely place they’re hiding


There is no question in my mind that there is other intelligent life, more than likely in many places in the universe. And by intelligent I’m not talking like humans, I mean really intelligent, which to me means having logic and common sense far exceeding emotion, which is contrary to our species. TGO

Refer to story below. Source: Business Insider

Business Insider

stars, baby stars, star nursery

(ESO)During a panel discussion on Tuesday, April 7 NASA chief scientist Ellen Stofan had some exciting news:”I think we’re going to have strong indications of life beyond Earth within a decade, and I think we’re going to have definitive evidence within 20 to 30 years,” Stofan said.

However, Stofan and the team of panelists were less sure about exactly where humankind will discover the first signs of alien life.

“I think we’re one generation away in our solar system, whether it’s on an icy moon or on Mars, and one generation [away] on a planet around a nearby star,” said another panelist member and associate administrator for NASA’s Science Mission Directorate John Grunsfeld.

Last month, Business Insider spoke with NASA astrobiologist Chris McKay about where he thought humankind would first find signs of alien life in our solar system. Surprisingly, the most likely place is not nearby or on any surface.

Where to begin

enceladus

“Things are better below the surface,” says McKay, who is a senior scientist with NASA’s Planetary Systems Branch. She investigates where else life could exist in our solar system.

Unfortunately, designing and dispatching a lander that can dig deep beneath a planet’s surface is incredibly difficult and expensive. The only places scientists have drilled, collected, and examined samples beneath the surface is  on the moon and Mars.

One place where we wouldn’t need to dig and drill is on Saturn’s tiny moon, Enceladus. It harbors a massive ocean underneath a thick layer of ice on its surface. Two different teams of scientists found compelling evidence there that indicates active volcanoes line the tiny moon’s seafloor.

McKay is excited about the prospect of Enceladus for another reason though. “Enceladus is most likely to give us an answer soonest,” he said. “The reason is Enceladus has a plume coming into space.”

In 2005, the Cassini spacecraft flew by Enceladus and spotted plumes of water vapor and other materials gushing out of its surface. If there’s life in the solar system, the first place we’re likely to find it is inside of those plumes, McKay said.

What to look for

DNA

(Pixabay)Sadly, Cassini is not equipped with the right instruments to detect signs of life in these plumes. And right now, NASA has no plans to dispatch another probe to Saturn or its moons anytime soon. That’s not stopping McKay and others from discussing what they’d look for there if they had the chance.

“I’d suggest that the best molecules to measure are amino acids, the building blocks of proteins,” McKay said during a live webcast hosted by The Kavli Foundation in January. “Life on Earth has made specific choices in amino acids. It uses a set of just 20 amino acids to build proteins, and those amino acids are all left-handed.”

Left-handed amino acids are chemically identical (meaning they have all the same atoms in the same amounts) to right-handed animo acids. The difference is that they are structured in a way so they’re mirror images of one another, just like how your right and left hands are the same shape but don’t line up when you put one on top of the other.

One of the outstanding mysteries in astrobiology is why RNA and DNA is only constructed from proteins built by left-handed amino acids. Regardless of why or how, this fact will come in handy during potential future studies of Enceladus.

“If Chris were to find amino acids in the plumes of Enceladus, the challenge becomes determining whether they are the products of a biological process,” Steven Benner, president of the Foundation for Applied Molecular Evolution in Florida, said during the webcast. “If he were to find that they’re all the same hand, that would be convincing, because that’s what makes the protein evolvable.”

The real question: how different will aliens be from us?

mars water

“In my mind that’s the real question. Not, ‘Is there life on these other worlds?’ but ‘iI there a second genesis of life on these other worlds?'” McKay told Business Insider. “That’s a subtlety that’s not obvious until you think about it.”

A second-genesis of alien life could, in theory, have a completely different biomolecular structure from life on Earth. Right now, scientists debate whether or not life on Earth originated on another celestial object, like Mars, that then hitched a ride to Earth inside of a meteorite.

That is not a stretch to imagine, researchers say, since Mars was covered with liquid water around the same time that life is believed to have begun on Earth. If we do find evidence of life on Mars and it has the same DNA as us, then it’s probably our cousins, McKay told Business Insider.

If we want to find truly unique alien life, then we’ll have to travel farther than next door.

“As we go from Mars to Europa to Enceladus to Titan, as the worlds get farther away from Earth the conditions get less and less like Earth,” McKay said. “We’re more likely to find life that’s not related to us the farther out we go.”

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Tsarnaev convicted in Boston bombing, may face death sentence


He’s guilty? Really? Gee, I would have never guessed. Imagine that, all it took was half a billion dollars and almost two years to determine that this douche-bag was guilty!

What is this country coming to? No wonder we’re fast-becoming dirty toilet paper in the eyes of the world. Oh well, now we await whether to sentence him to death, which will never happen, or the length of a prison term…

But I have a better idea! Let’s get a chain saw and cut off both his legs (with no anesthesia of course) and throw him in prison for the rest of his life; no parole! Now that, my friends, would be justice! TGO

Refer to story below. Source: Reuters

Reuters

BOSTON (Reuters) – Dzhokhar Tsarnaev was found guilty on Wednesday of the 2013 Boston Marathon bombing that killed three people and injured 264 others, and the jury will now decide whether to sentence him to death.

Tsarnaev, 21, is the surviving member of pair of ethnic Chechen brothers who planted the homemade pressure-cooker bombs that tore through the crowd at the famed race’s finish line in one of the most shocking attacks on U.S. soil since Sept. 11, 2001. He left a note behind describing the attack as an act of retribution for U.S. military campaigns in Muslim-dominated countries.

His lawyers opened Tsarnaev’s federal trial in Boston a month ago by bluntly admitting “it was him” who planted one of the bombs on April 15, 2013 and three days later shot dead a police officer, kicking off a day of chaos in Boston.

After 11 hours of deliberations over two days, the jury found him guilty of all 30 criminal counts he faced.

The slightly built, lightly goateed defendant stood silently, shifting uncomfortably as a U.S. District court official read out each guilty finding, a process that took 25 minutes.

After the verdict was read, Karen Brassard, whose left leg was badly injured by one of the bombs, said she was glad that Tsarnaev had shown no emotion.

“Personally I wouldn’t have bought it if he had,” Brassard said, as an early-spring sleet fell over Boston’s waterfront. “He has been, to use my word, arrogant walking in and out of the courtroom.”

The blasts killed restaurant manager Krystle Campbell, 29, Chinese exchange student Lingzi Lu, 23, and Richard. Tsarnaev also was found guilty of the fatal shooting of Massachusetts of Institute of Technology police officer Sean Collier, 26.

LIFE OR DEATH?

Tsarnaev’s lawyers have indicated that they plan to show that his 26-year-old brother Tamerlan was the driving force behind the attack, a contention they hope will persuade the jury to spare his life.

In a stark contrast to defense attorney Judith Clarke’s opening-statement admission of Tsarnaev’s guilt in placing the bombs, she turned her attention during last week’s closing argument to the making of the bombs.

“Tamerlan did that,” Clarke said, contending that without the older brother there would have been no attack. Tamerlan died early on April 19, 2013, after Dzhokhar ran him over with a car while fleeing a gunfight with police.

The amount of time spent in the jury room suggests the jurors were thorough in considering the charges, said David Weinstein, an attorney in private practice who in prior jobs as a state and local prosecutor brought death-penalty cases.

Federal prosecutors detailed jihadi writings, including a copy of al Qaeda’s “Inspire” magazine with an article on bomb-making found on of Tsarnaev’s computers, describing that as evidence that he was an extremist who wanted to “punish America.”

“We are gratified by the jury’s verdict,” said Carmen Ortiz, U.S. attorney for Massachusetts, who oversaw the prosecution. “As we enter this next phase, we are focused on the work that remains to be done.”

DARK MEMORIES FOR BOSTON

The trial, which began in early March after a two-month jury selection process, dredged up some of the worst memories in living memory in Boston. The twin pressure-cooker bombs ripped through the crowd of spectators at the race’s finish line, setting off a mad rush to save the hundreds of people wounded, 17 of whom lost limbs.

The pair fought a desperate gunfight with police, throwing a smaller pressure-cooker bomb similar to the ones they used at the race, as well as smaller pipe bombs. When Tamerlan Tsarnaev ran out of bullets in the rusty Ruger handgun his brother had borrowed from a drug-dealing friend, he charged Watertown police officers who were trying to wrestle him to the ground. Dzhokhar then hopped into the carjacked Mercedes SUV and sped toward the group, running over his brother and dragging him.

The city’s mayor, Marty Walsh, said he was glad to see the trial moving toward a conclusion.

“I am thankful that this phase of the trial has come to an end and am hopeful for a swift sentencing process,” Walsh said. “I hope today’s verdict provides a small amount of closure for the survivors, families, and all impacted by the violent and tragic events.”

(Additional reporting by Tim McLaughlin; Editing by Jonathan Oatis)

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IS group beheads four for robbery, murder in Iraq


It’s business as usual in the Muslim world… Beheadings are just an everyday occurrence these days as Muslims continue to show the world what it is to be barbarians. TGO

Refer to story below. Source: Associated Press

An image grab taken from a video released on March 17, 2014 by the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant's al-Furqan Media allegedly shows ISIL fighters raising their weapons with the Jihadist flag at an undisclosed location

Baghdad (AFP) – The Islamic State group has beheaded four men for armed robbery and murder in the northern Iraqi province of Nineveh, according to an online propaganda video seen by AFP Tuesday.

The undated video portrays the group, which has been steadily retreating recently from Iraqi forces backed by Iran and a US-led coalition, as still capable of maintaining law and order and dispensing justice.

A masked militant in front of a large crowd to reads out over a loudspeaker the charges of which the men were convicted by the “Islamic Court in the State of Nineveh”.

A masked executioner is then shown beheading four men with a sword, after which their bodies are hung on crosses in the back of a small pickup truck.

Earlier in the video, allegedly stolen money is shown being returned to its owners, who make thumbprints in a receipt book.

An IS offensive overran large areas north and west of Baghdad in June, but security forces and allied paramilitaries have succeeded in driving the militants out of much of two provinces north of the capital.

Nineveh, where the video was said to have been shot, was the first to fall to the IS-led drive and is still the jihadist group’s main stronghold in the country.

The militants have carried out a wave of abuses in areas they control in Iraq and Syria, including public beheadings, mass executions, enslavement and rape.

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