Chinese space pioneer dies


This video is called H.S. Tsien [Qian Xuesen]: Father of rockets and spaceflight.

From British daily The Morning Star:

Father of space programme dies

Qian Xuesen, the father of China’s space technology programme, died on Saturday in Beijing. He was 98.

Mr Qian began his career in the US and was regarded as one of the brightest minds in the new field of aeronautics before returning to China in 1955, hounded out of the United States for his alleged membership of the CPUSA.

He went on to establish China’s first missile and rocket research institute which later helped start China’s space programme, led the development of China’s first nuclear-armed ballistic missiles and worked on its first satellite, Red East 1, which was launched in 1970.

A mys­te­ri­ous slow­ing of NASA’s Pi­o­neer 10 and 11 space­craft turns out to be due to the slight, but de­tect­a­ble ef­fect of heat push­ing back on the space­craft, ac­cord­ing to new re­search: here.

New CIA torture revelations


This video is about the torture practices of the United States in Afghanistan, Iraq and Guantanamo Bay.

By Joe Byrne in the USA:

FBI documents reveal secret CIA prisoners ‘manacled to the ceiling’

Saturday, October 31st, 2009 — 7:11 pm

Hundreds of pages of documents partially declassified by the Justice department on Friday reveal that the FBI was conducting an investigation of overseas CIA prisons.

The documents were released as part of a lawsuit filed by the American Civil Liberties Union and Judicial Watch, a Washington-based advocacy group. Many of them were previously released but some of the censoring has been removed.

In September of 2002, FBI officials visiting an overseas prison run by the CIA found prisoners ‘manacled to the ceiling and subjected to blaring music around the clock’, according to the documents.

Handwritten notes attributed to Justice Department officials discuss the possibility of prosecuting CIA employees. Senior FBI officials questioned the legality and effectiveness of the CIA’s interrogation methods and prison conditions. An interrogation involving threats with a gun and power drill was the focus of discussion in the notes, but Justice Department officials eventually declined to prosecute the CIA official.

A 2008 report details the FBI’s involvement with the interrogation of Ramzi bin al-Shiebh, one of the plotters behind 9/11. A sheet of questions were prepared for al-Shiebh with the help of the FBI, but the FBI officials “were denied direct access to him for four or five days.” When the FBI was permitted to see the detainee, he was found “naked and chained to the floor.” The FBI agent told the inspector general that he had “valuable actionable intelligence” but the CIA quickly shut down the interview, ruining the case.

Many of the pages of ‘declassified’ documents are heavily censored, due to DOJ restrictions.

Scott Horton, a professor at Columbia Law School, has watched the document disclosures shift the focus of a potential investigation. “Disclosures increasingly put the core of potentially criminal conduct relating to torture not with CIA agents, but rather with senior figures then at the Justice Department who were busily hushing everything up.”

“The key questions here are which DOJ figures were involved in the decision not to prosecute and why did they take those decisions,” according to Horton.

The September 2002 overseas visit was the last involvement the FBI had with CIA interrogations, according to the New York Times.

Some of the declassified documents can be found here.

Bush’s interrogators used slaps to ‘instill fear and despair’: here.

FBI agents witnessed torture at CIA prisons in 2002, new documents released in response to a Freedom of Information Act lawsuit reveal: here.

Federal Bureau of Investigation Director Robert S. Mueller has told members of the Senate Judiciary Committee that the FBI’s current terrorism “watch list” contains 400,000 unique names, with an average of 1,600 new individuals added each day: here.

The CIA ordered the secret detention facilities decommissioned, but lawyers for terrorism suspects want them preserved as possible evidence—and the CIA won’t say what’s going on: here.

New ankylosaur species discovered


This video is called Velociraptors and Ankylosaurs.

From ScienceDaily:

Newly Discovered Ankylosaur Dinosaur Is ‘Biological Version Of An Army Tank’

ScienceDaily (Nov. 1, 2009) — A husband and wife team of American paleontologists has discovered a new species of dinosaur that lived 112 million years ago during the early Cretaceous of central Montana.

The new dinosaur, a species of ankylosaur, is documented in the October issue of the Canadian Journal of Earth Sciences. Ankylosaurs are the biological version of an army tank. They are protected by a plate-like armour with two sets of sharp spikes on each side of the head, and a skull so thick that even ‘raptors’ such as Deinonychus could leave barely more than a scratch.

Bill and Kris Parsons, Research associates of the Buffalo Museum of Science, found much of the skull of the newly described Tatankacephalus cooneyorum resting on the surface of a hillside in 1997. Because the skull was 90% complete, it was possible to justify this fossil as a new species.

“This is the first member of Ankylosauridae to be found within the Early Cretaceous Cloverly Geologic Formation,” said Bill Parsons, who characterized the fossil as a transitional evolutionary form between the earlier Jurassic ankylosaurs and the better known Late Cretaceous ankylosaurs.

The skull is heavily protected by two sets of lateral horns, two thick domes at the back, and smaller thickenings around the nasal region. “Heavy ornamentation and horn-like plates would have covered most of the dorsal surface of this dinosaur” said Bill Parsons.

“For years, Bill and Kris have been collecting fossils from a critical time in Earth’s history, and their hard work has paid off,” said Lawrence Witmer, professor of paleontology at Ohio University who was not involved with this study. “This is a really important find and gives us a clearer view of the evolution of armored dinosaurs. But this is just the first; I’m sure, of what will be a series of important discoveries from this team.”

Parsons also illustrated the dermal armour of this new species based on the theory by Museum of the Rockies paleontologist John R. Horner that there was an outer keratinous sheathing on it as found in modern turtle shells and bird beaks. In his new reconstruction, Parsons suggests that Tatankacephalus exhibited complex and colorful patterns rather than the dull appearance suggested in earlier ankylosaur portraits. “According to Horner’s theory, many other dinosaurs also had this kind of sheathing and also may have been diversely colored,” said Parsons.

As to its name, the broad, short horns on the back of its skull resemble the horns found on a modern buffalo skull and Tatankacephalus loosely translates as ‘Buffalo head.’ Parsons also noted, “of course any further allusions to the city of Buffalo are completely intentional as well.”

Tatanka means American bison in the Lakota language.

See also here.

Ankylosaurid Skull Found By High School Teacher: here.

Terrible Teens Of T. Rex: Young Tyrannosaurs Did Serious Battle Against Each Other: here.