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Thursday, April 9, 2009

Barack Obama to celebrate first presidential Seder

BY Kenneth R. Bazinet and Michael Mcauliff

WASHINGTON, D.C. - There's a new reason Thursday night will be different from all other nights: Barack Obama is attending what's believed to be the first presidential Seder in the White House.

Administration staffers could find examples of Passover feasts at the White House before, but never one with the President himself honoring the holiday that celebrates the Jews' biblical escape from bondage in Egypt.

Passover meals were held in the Clinton White House, for example, but the commander-in-chief was not involved.

"This certifies the resonance of this ancient narrative and its relevance to all of us," said Jason Isaacson, the American Jewish Committee's Washington director. "It's a story of liberation from bondage, it's a story of people who persevere, it's a story of God's presence in our lives."

The White House provided no details of what insiders said will be a small, private event like one Obama did a year ago while he was still battling Hillary Clinton in the primaries.

"This Seder will be very similar to - and mark the anniversary of - the Seder held last year in Harrisburg, Pa., by campaign staff, and attended by the President and a few of his friends," said an administration official.

It will be led by Eric Lesser, a campaign aide who is now David Axelrod's assistant and who assembled last year's Seder.

That celebration turned out to be prophetic in its own way.

Participants jokingly added the line "next year in the White House!" after the traditional closing line, "next year in Jerusalem."

U.S. military already prepared with battle plans for Somalia pirates, say intelligence sources

BY James Gordon Meek


The Maersk Alabama was hijacked while delivering relief supplies to Kenya. The ship's captain, Richard Phillips (inset), is reportedly still being held hostage.

WASHINGTON - U.S. military commanders have already prepared battle plans for ending the scourge of piracy on the high seas off Somalia if President Obama pulls the trigger, sources told the Daily News Wednesday.

The Navy sent a warship to intercept Somali pirates Wednesday who hijacked a U.S.-flagged freighter, as commanders weighed military options for nailing the brigands' bases.

Retired U.S. Ambassador Robert Oakley, who was special envoy to Somalia in the 1990s, said U.S. special operations forces have drawn up detailed plans to attack piracy groups where they live on land, but are awaiting orders from the Obama national security team.

"Our special operations people have been itching to clean them up. So far, no one has let them," Oakley told the Daily News.

The veteran diplomat, who also was ambassador to Pakistan, said teams of Army Delta Force or Navy SEALs "could take care of the pirates in 72 hours" if given the order to strike.

"They have plans on the table but are waiting for the green light," Oakley said.

A Special Operations Command spokesman at McDill Air Force Base in Tampa, Fla., declined comment.

A U.S. intelligence official, though dismissive of the pirates having any terrorism links, said "there is a more intense focus" now on these criminal gangs.

America's stealthiest warriors have been involved in combat operations in the Horn of Africa for years - operating from secret bases in Djibouti, Ethiopia, Somalia and Manda Bay, Kenya.

The Navy launched an antipiracy command in January, Joint Task Force 151, which includes contingents of SEALs and Marines who specialize in boarding and seizing hijacked ships.

But Somalia-based pirates terrorizing shipping lanes on the high seas have expanded their zone of fear in recent weeks beyond the Gulf of Aden into waters off Somalia, a failed state providing them a lawless sanctuary.

That prompted the commander of the Navy's Combined Maritime Forces, Vice Adm. Bill Gortney, to issue a special maritime advisory this week warning his forces "are unlikely to be close enough to provide support to vessels under attack."

"The closest military ship could be days away," he said.

The Gulf of Aden and waters off Somalia and Kenya equal an area roughly four times the size of Texas, the Navy pointed out.

Meanwhile, Navy officials said the guided missile destroyer Bainbridge steamed toward the Maersk Alabama - which is owned by a Danish firm but has a 20-man American crew and flies the Stars and Stripes - which was seized 280 miles southeast of Somalia.

Coke cop says oral sex to blame for dirty test, but judge not buying it

BY Alison Gendar and Jose Martinez

A decorated ex-cop who claimed he tested positive for cocaine because he ingested the drug during oral sex with his girlfriend can't have his job back, a Manhattan judge has ruled.

Supreme Court Justice Eileen Rakower last month shot down helicopter pilot Jon Goldin's attempt to overturn his April 2008 dismissal from the NYPD.

Goldin, a 15-year veteran, tested positive for cocaine in October 2006 in a random drug test using hairs from his arm.

Goldin - an adherent of the "straight edge" lifestyle that rejects substance use - didn't challenge the drug test.

He sued last year after a state appeals court rejected the NYPD's use of hair to test cops for illegal drug use.

"This is a very special human being who devoted his entire life to being a police officer," said lawyer Paul Goldberger. "He would no more use drugs than the man on the moon."

Goldin's lawsuit said the cocaine in his system was the product of "passive ingestion" from performing oral sex on girlfriend Coreen McCarthy, who, once he tested positive, admitted to him that she was a regular cocaine user.

"She never told [Goldin] about her drug use," court records say.

The couple met at a punk concert and, according to court records, they "would often sweat" while having sex "three or four times per week."

They split immediately once Goldin tested positive for cocaine.

More than 70 friends went to bat for the ex-cop, saying they had never seen him take even a sip of coffee and that he abstained at bars while others drank booze.

"Clearly the wrong result was reached in this case," Goldberger said. "This guy should be a cop."

Rakower ruled that even though the appeals court put a stop to hair tests in December 2007, Goldin's firing must stand because he voluntarily cooperated with the drug test and allowed hair samples to be taken from his arm.

The state's highest court Tuesday agreed to hear an appeal from the NYPD in favor of hair testing, which the city began using in 2005.

The world's fastest police cars

Up until now the police prix d'or has been held by a Lamborghini Gallardo which an Italian police patrol is using on the Salerno-Reggio Calabria highway

There is fierce competition for the world's fastest police car with the Italians and Germans vying for the title. Up until now the police prix d'or has been held by a Lamborghini Gallardo which an Italian police patrol is using on the Salerno-Reggio Calabria highway. It is capable of hitting a top speed of 192mph, which is probably ample to keep up with the most reckless of motorists

But the Germans have their eye on a car which would leave the Lamborghini trailing in its wake

But the Germans have their eye on a car which would leave the Lamborghini trailing in its wake...

Picture: WENN

It has placed an order for a Brabus CLS V12 S Rocket which has a top speed of 225mph

...It has placed an order for a Brabus CLS V12 S Rocket which has a top speed of 225mph...

Picture: WENN

It will be used on the fastest stretches of the autobahn

...It will be used on the fastest stretches of the autobahn

Picture: WENN

Meanwhile in Austria, police are testing a Porsche 911

Meanwhile in Austria, police are testing a Porsche 911...

Picture: WENN


...Even on trials, patrol cars have noticed that the country's motorists are reluctant to take them on

Picture: WENN

In San Diego officers are using a custom made police car with integrated shotgun mounts and a top speed of 155mph

In San Diego officers are using a custom made police car with integrated shotgun mounts and a top speed of 155mph

Picture: WENN

UK police officers have driven a Ferrari 612 Scaglietti, but purely to promote road safety

UK police officers have driven a Ferrari 612 Scaglietti, but purely to promote road safety

Picture: WENN

But if British police cars are not the fastest, the four Smart Cars used by Scotland Yard are the greenest with the lowest carbon emissions

But if British police cars are not the fastest, the four electric Smart Cars used by Scotland Yard are the greenest with the lowest carbon emissions

Picture: WENN

Now That Arnold's Back For Terminator, Can He Ride Atop The Shoulders Of This Giant?

By Meredith Woerner

Get up close and personal, with a high-res look at Terminator Salvation's meat puppet kidnapping machine, the Harvester. Plus rejoice in the confirmation that the original Terminator will be back for more.

This Harvester Revision from Industrial Light And Magic is quite a sight, with four arms and a Predator-like gun on its shoulder. You gotta love the consistent red-eye look of all the Terminators.

In other deadly robot news, MTV has confirmed with co-star Terry Crews that Arnold Schwarzenegger is indeed making an appearance in the next Terminator movie.

As to what his role is, no one really knows:

"I don't know; I haven't seen it. They only gave out pages of the script," Crews remembered. "It was crazy. It was very, very secretive. Believe me - when you see it, that will be the first time I saw it."

It might just be a glimpse of the California governor's face on the prototype T-800, or a mere voice-over. One way or another, we're happy to have the original back. And I can't wait to see these bots in action - and thanks for the tip DVD Forum.

Comedy Central Announces Roast of Joan Rivers

posted by: Matt Tobey

joan-red-cwbIf you're a plastic surgery zinger aficionado or Rabbit Test superfan, you're going to want to leave August 9 at 10pm / 9c open on your calendar. That's right, Comedy Central is going to roast the one and only Joan Rivers.

COMEDY CENTRAL is adding a new face to its Emmy-nominated Roast franchise. The network is rolling out the red carpet to Roast one of comedy’s most trailblazing female performers, comedy icon Joan Rivers. This star-studded event will tape in Los Angeles on Sunday, July 26, 2009 and will air on Sunday, August 9 at 10:00 p.m. ET/PT.

"I'm thrilled to be doing this for COMEDY CENTRAL. The last time I was Roasted I was half of a two-for-one special: Joan of Arc and me," said Rivers.

“Joan Rivers is a comedic genius who has proven that she can take it as hard as she gives it,” said Elizabeth Porter, SVP, specials and talent, COMEDY CENTRAL. "She's such a lovely person, but when she takes aim, no one is going to be spared. It should be a crazy night."

Joan Rivers, who is currently is appearing on NBC’s “Celebrity Apprentice” and celebrating her two new books Men Are Stupid And They Like Big Boobs and Murder At the Academy Awards, is a force of nature and one of the hardest working celebrities in the world. Comedienne, Tony-nominated actress, bestselling author, Emmy Award-winning television talk-show host, playwright, screenwriter, motion picture director, columnist, lecturer, syndicated radio host, jewelry designer and cosmetic company entrepreneur, red carpet fashion laureate, businesswoman and, most importantly to her, mother and grandmother. She is exhausted!

Check back here often for talent updates and other Roast news as it develops.

America’s New Marijuana Zeitgeist

Writing last week in, Joe Klein became the latest in a steady stream of media pundits to call for the legalization of marijuana (”Why Legalizing Marijuana Makes Sense”). That’s right, ‘legalization’ — with an “L.”

While the notion of regulating the sale and consumption of cannabis for adults might still induce reflexive giggles from the Oval Office, the issue is no longer a laughing matter among the public.

Lawmakers in two states — California and Massachusetts– are debating the merits of taxing pot like alcohol, and a pair of recent polls indicate that Western voters endorse this proposal by a solid majority. According to statistician Nate Silver, national support for legalization could reach “supermajority” status in just over a decade!

Why this momentum now? Klein sums up three primary reasons.

1) Americans are spending billions in judicial resources arresting and prosecuting minor marijuana offenders; these monies could be better redirected elsewhere.

2) America is in the midst of an economic recession; taxing marijuana could decrease criminal justice costs, raise tax revenue, and greatly reduce, if not eliminate, the involvement of drug cartels in the illicit marijuana trade.

3) The use of marijuana by adults is objectively less dangerous — both to the user and to society as a whole — than the consumption of alcohol. (Case in point: Drinking alcohol, even low to moderate amounts, was recently associated with elevated incidences of cancer, particularly among women. By contrast, a study published last week shows that cannabis kills malignant cancer cells.) It is illogical to endorse a public policy that arbitrarily prohibits the former while embracing the latter.

Of course, Klein is hardly the only mainstream pundit as of late to jump on the marijuana ‘legalization’ bandwagon.

In the past days, leading commentators like David Sirota, Kathleen Parker, Paul Jacob, Hendrik Hertzberg, Andrew Sullivan, Glenn Greenwald , Debra Saunders (San Francisco Chronicle), Leonard Pitts (Miami Herald), John Richardson (Esquire), and Margery Eagan (Boston Herald), have all opined in favor of regulating cannabis. In fact, Americans’ sudden support for legalization is even beginning to draw attention from those outside the United States.

As well it should be.

American’s support for marijuana law reform is fast approaching a tipping point — a scenario made all that more remarkable when one considers that the federal government has spent nearly seven decades propagandizing against it. Mainstream America is coming to terms with marijuana, and growing more and more dissatisfied with our nation’s failing pot policies. Writes Klein: “Obviously, marijuana can be abused. But the costs of criminalization have proved to be enormous, perhaps unsustainable. Would legalization be any worse?”

He’s no longer the only one asking.

The Photos Bush Didn't Want You to See

After 20 years, the White House ban on images of American war dead ended last night. Ralph Begleiter, who fought to lift it, wonders if the photos will change hearts and minds. VIEW OUR GALLERY

Six years into the war in Iraq—and after nearly eight years of combat in Afghanistan—the U.S. government last night resumed allowing news photographers to take pictures and video of American casualties returning home, in flag-draped caskets, at Dover Air Force Base in Delaware. The remains of 30-year-old Staff Sgt. Phillip Myers of Hopewell, Va., who was killed in Afghanistan, landed at Dover after dark Sunday night, just before the new media-coverage policy was scheduled to take effect. The Defense Department notified news organizations a few hours earlier that the deceased airman’s family had authorized media coverage. It was a bright moonlit night in Delaware as the flag-draped casket of Sgt. Myers was carried across the tarmac to the military mortuary at Dover. A small number of news photographers were on hand to record the event, which marked the reversal of a policy set in 1989 by then-president George H.W. Bush, who was embarrassed by pictures of dead American soldiers from Dover. There were no “live” pictures permitted at Dover last night under the new Pentagon policy; it was “live” coverage from Dover that triggered the media ban two decades ago.

Click Image Below to View Our Gallery

Article - MG - Begleiter coffins

The Pentagon itself had continued to take pictures of the returning casualties until 2005, at the height of the Iraq war. They remain some of the most respectful images imaginable, of Honor Guards in dress uniform and aircraft crews escorting their fallen comrades home. They document the honorable way our government brings U.S. troops home from combat. The military had been documenting the return of casualties for several decades, even when the news media showed no interest.

But in 2005, when Defense Department lawyers realized they couldn’t keep those government images from becoming public, the military ordered an end to its own photography. More than 700 photos had been forced into public view by my Freedom of Information lawsuit together with the National Security Archive at George Washington University. To my knowledge, the media ban—combined with the halt to government photography—has forever hidden images the thousands of troops who passed through Dover on their way to burial from mid-2005 until today.

News organizations—especially television—have discovered that Americans don’t want to watch the war in progress. Newscast ratings actually decline when reports from Iraq and Afghanistan appear on television.

The Pentagon’s change in policy at least revives the means for a crucially important documentation of the cost of war. But that doesn’t mean Americans will see those photos.

In the wake of President Bush’s “Mission Accomplished” aircraft carrier speech in 2003, U.S. news organizations—especially television—have discovered that Americans don’t want to watch news of the war. Newscast ratings actually decline when reports from Iraq and Afghanistan appear on television. Major newspapers still spend valiantly to support award-winning combat coverage and other international reporting, but they cringe when they observe readers casually tossing away the main news section, the local and international news sections and the business section before even leaving the newsstand. Most newspapers and broadcasters, including cable news channels, have been sharply trimming international journalism staffs, on-air minutes, or column inches.

As a result, when those hundreds of images of returning casualties became public in 2005 under the Freedom of Information Act, few news organizations published them. In at least one case, a Seattle newspaper’s decision to publish caused the photographer—a contractor for the U.S. military in Iraq—to lose her job for releasing the picture. I was bombarded with some of the basest attacks imaginable for merely seeking to bring the Pentagon’s own respectful photography to light.

After the media ban was ratcheted up in 2003, I was surprised that U.S. news organizations did not protest. When the National Security Archive and I sought release of the government’s own photographs, news organizations did not join in the effort, or seek to lift the media ban.

Why not? In 2001 and 2002, the nation’s post-9/11 “United We Stand” atmosphere discouraged news organizations even from asking tough questions about antiterrorism security issues, much less about an arcane photography ban at the military mortuary at Dover. By 2003, the media were busy suiting up for embedded war coverage in Iraq. During the 2004 election-year antimedia campaigns, news organizations declined to ask their lawyers to fight the ban on photography at Dover. In fact, it remained a surprise when CNN’s Ed Henry prompted President Obama in February to reveal that the media ban was already under review in the new administration. That review was apparently not prompted by media complaints.

Under the Obama administration’s lifting of the ban, families of returning casualties now wield a veto over whether the American people can pay respects to the troops who enlisted, served and died for their nation. I predict many families, like that of Sgt. Myers at Dover Sunday night, will want the return of their loved ones to be publicly honored for their immense sacrifice, rather than swept under a rug.

But after the novelty of photography at Dover wears off, don’t expect U.S. news media to return for pictures of the casualties from Iraq or Afghanistan on a regular basis.

But the new policy brings another important change: The Pentagon itself last night resumed its time-honored tradition of documenting the return of war casualties with compelling pictures taken by its own photographers. Those government images should be part of the public record of war.

Ralph Begleiter was CNN’s world-affairs correspondent from 1981-1999. He teaches journalism and political science at the University of Delaware.

BlackBerry Storm 2 Will Have Wi-Fi

One of the major sticking points for the first and only touch-screen BlackBerry, the BlackBerry Storm, was its lack of Wi-Fi.

But BlackBerry maker Research In Motion is looking to make that right with the release of the BlackBerry Storm 2.

Citing unnamed inside sources, Slash Gear reported that Verizon Wireless has green-lighted the BlackBerry Storm 2 for September of this year. The Storm 2, the second-generation of the BlackBerry Storm, is expected to include Wi-Fi connectivity to complement the 3G it already offers, sources told Slash Gear.

While Slash Gear did not divulge its sources, it said it has no doubts that the Wi-Fi rumor is legit.

"The source gave us their assurances that the Storm 2 would have Wi-Fi, and would be an even better pro-sumer device than the first Storm," Slash Gear wrote.

The report added that Wi-Fi isn't the only new addition the Storm will see in its second-generation makeover, but additional details weren't available.

RIM and Verizon debuted the BlackBerry Storm last November, marking RIM's official attempt to unseat the Apple iPhone 3G in the clash of the touch-screen titans.

The release of RIM's first touch-screen smartphone generated a host of comparisons between the Storm and the iPhone 3G, many of which called the iPhone the superior device.

The Storm also encountered a host of speed bumps along the way, with users critical of the touch-screen interface, no Wi-Fi and its lack of a physical QWERTY keyboard, which BlackBerry users have grown accustomed to.

Earlier this year, several news organizations called the Storm a flop, saying it got off to a bumpy start with poor sales. Verizon, the Storm's exclusive carrier, quickly went on the offensive, saying that 1 million Storms had been sold in the smartphone's first two months on the market.

Posted by Andrew R Hickey at 9:28 AM

England's only whisky is hit in Japan

The only whisky distillery in England is exporting its spirit 6,000 miles to Japan.

Andrew Nelstrop with whisky bottles: England's only whisky is hit in Japan
Andrew Nelstrop, managing director of the English Whisky Company at St George's Distillery in East Harling Photo: ARCHANT SYNDICATION

Japan makes more single malt whisky than Scotland but has developed a taste for the tipple from St George's Distillery near Thetford, in Norfolk, and is importing 400 bottles every month.

Andrew Nelstrop, 37, owner of the English Whisky Company, which produces the 18-month-old Maison Du Whisky, said orders had been steadily growing.

Mr Nelstrop said: "We have been quietly selling the 18-month-old whisky spirit for some time, but we are now exporting it by the pallet-load. Japan makes more single malt whisky than Scotland. They love their whisky.

"France have only just taken it on, but they are also big whisky drinkers and it looks like we have finally broken into the European and world market."

The £1m distillery opened its doors to the public in the summer of 2007 following a visit from Prince Charles.

Mr Nelstrop said that initial tastings of their whisky spirit, which has been made with locally grown barley, had been well received by the industry and he aimed to sell about 100,000 bottles a year by the time of the London Olympics in 2012.

The company is also looking to market its products in other EU countries and India.

"People say they love it. It has been well received by the Scotch Malt Whisky Society and at various trade shows," he said.

"There is no question that the whisky is good. As it gets older, the whisky gets more colour and the flavours merge more."

15 Years Later: Reflections on Kurt Cobain & Nirvana

15-years-later-reflections-on-kurt-cobain-nirvana by Albert Costill


As many of you probably know, April 5, 2009 marked fifteen years since Kurt Cobain committed suicide.

Nirvana wasn’t the first of the so called “grunge” bands, but they were the band that brought Seattle to the world.

See, in 1991 we didn’t have the access that we have now to music. We had to rely on the radio, and yes, even MTV. Unless you were tapped into a live music scene, or even college radio, there was little exposure to music outside of the radio and MTV.

When I got turned onto Nirvana by a friend, I would patiently listen to the radio waiting for their music or news. This inadvertently turned me onto a slew of other bands. While I was discovering all this great music, Nirvana still remained my band. The reason that they struck a chord with so many people was because of their raw, simplistic emotion. This was a band that got how so many of us felt. It was a breath of fresh air that quickly erased the cheesy hair bands that didn’t relate to us. And, it made me pick up a pen and a guitar so that I could write down how I felt. Because, if Nirvana could do it, then anyone could.


Needless to say, I was crushed when I heard the news about Kurt Cobain. The friend that introduced me to Nirvana called my house and told me the news. At first, I thought it was a cruel joke. It wasn’t until I turned on MTV that I realized that it wasn’t a joke.

Kurt Cobain was the voice of our generation, so it isn’t shocking that his death was the beginning of the end. You have to remember that during the time of his suicide, there was no one ready to step up to the plate. Pearl Jam was battling Ticketmaster, and was drifting away from all the bullshit that fame had brought them. Soundgarden would disband within three years. Alice in Chains was crumbling because of Layne Staley’s own demons. Whether or not he wanted it, Kurt was the voice, and without him, there became a void.

Over the years I have drifted further and further away from Nirvana. I just don’t feel the same emotions that I once did when I hear their music. While they may have been replaced, Nirvana will always hold a place in my heart because they were a series of first for me. My first musical love. The first band that my parents hated, and couldn’t understand. The first band that I wanted to become. The first band that my little garage band covered. The first band that opened my mind, and ears. The first band to be my muse.

I can honestly say that without Kurt Cobain a lot of us wouldn’t be here today. Whether you’re a musician, blogger or just a music lover. And, because of that, we should never forget him. To quote Kurt, “the sun is gone, but I have a light”.

I should also remind everyone that April 5, 2009 marks the seventh anniversary of Layne Staley’s death. But, on a brighter note, it was also Mike McCready’s 43rd birthday.

To remember Kurt, and his band, let’s take a walk down memory lane from the beginning:

  • Kurt Cobain meets Krist Novoselic in 1985 through The Melvins.
  • Kurt and Krist go through a bunch of drummers and band names over the next couple of years.
  • Early band names included: Skid Row, Bliss, Throat Oyster, Pen Cap Chew, Windowpane and Ted Ed Fred.
  • In early 1988 Nirvana records their first demo with Melvins drummer Dale Crover.
  • Drummer Chad Channing joins the band in 1988.
  • Sup Pop releases the band’s first single, “Love Buzz/Big Cheese”, in November of 1988.
  • Nirvana’s debut album, Bleach, was released in June, 1989 through Sub Pop.
  • The working title for Bleach was Too Many Humans.
  • Jason Everman loaned the band the money to pay for the studio expenses for Bleach; which is why he receives credit for playing guitar on the album, although he didn’t.
  • Everman did join the band for a small time; he was also in Soundgarden for a short time.
  • Chad Channing is kicked out the band in the spring of 1990 during recording sessions with producer Butch Vig.
  • The band record “Sliver” with Mudhoney drummer Dan Peters in July of 1990.
  • Dave Grohl is introduced to the Kurt and Krist through Buzz Osbourne of the Melvins; on October 11, 1990 Nirvana plays their first show with Dave.
  • Nirvana signs with Geffen Records on April 30, 1991; at the recommendation of Sonic Youth’s Kim Gordon.
  • Nevermind is released on September 24, 1991.

Here’s the story for the title for “Smells Like Teen Spirit”: One day Kurt and a friend were having a discussion about teenage revolution, they later got drunk and his friend wrote on the wall ‘Kurt smells like teen spirit.’ Kurt was inspired, he thought she meant he would be the type of person who could incite a teen rebellion. He went and wrote the song. She thought that he just smelled like the deodorant. Kurt hadn’t heard of the deodorant at the time, and he claimed to have rarely used it himself.

  • The original title for “Breed” was “Imodium”.
  • The original title for “Stay Away” was “Pay To Play”, which appeared on the DGC Rarities, Vol. 1.
  • Nirvana, Pearl Jam and The Red Hot Chili Peppers tour together in December of 1991.
  • January 11, 1992 Nevermind hits Number 1 on the Billboard Album chart; knocking off Michael Jackson’s Dangerous.
  • On August 30, 1992 Nirvana headlines the Reading Festival.
  • The band releases Incesticide, an album of b-sides and rarities, on December 15, 1992.
  • In Utero is released on September 21, 1993.
  • The album went through two name changes, I Hate Myself and Want to Die and Verse, Chrous, Verse; which are also song titles.
  • Cobain claimed that originally “Heart-Shaped Box” was inspired by a documentary he saw on children with cancer.
  • “All Apologies” was written by Cobain in 1990.
  • On October 18, 1993 Nirvana begins their first major U.S. tour in almost two years.
  • Guitarist Pat Smear joins Nirvana for the tour.
  • On November 18, 1993 Nirvana records Unplugged.
  • Nirvana plays their final show on March 1, 1994 in Munich, Germany.
  • Cobain’s body is found on April 8, 1994.
  • Unplugged In New York is released on November 1, 1994.
  • The live compilation From the Muddy Banks of the Wishkah is released on October 1, 1996.
  • The best of compilation, Nirvana, is released on October 29, 2002.
  • “You Know You’re Right” was recorded during the band’s final studio session in January, 1994.
  • The box set With the Lights Out is released on November 23, 2004.
  • MTV Unplugged is released on DVD on November 20, 2007.


First Drive: 2009 MINI Cooper/Cooper S Convertible

The lovable second-gen MINI Cooper finally goes topless.

By James Tate of MSN Autos
2009 MINI Cooper S Convertible (© BMW North America)

The MINI's top can fully retract in just 15 seconds, and can be operated at speeds up to 18 mph.

It may be hard to tell, but BMW's highly acclaimed remake of the MINI Cooper is now in its second generation, and the convertible version is finally here as well. The roofless version of the nimble compact was a smash hit in its last generation, having sold 164,000 units worldwide. Now based on the slightly sleeker body and stiffer chassis of the latest MINI Cooper, the new convertible is aiming to be just as successful.

Model Lineup
Like every Cooper since its reintroduction in 2001, the new convertible is available in two primary trim levels: the basic Cooper Convertible and the more powerful Cooper S Convertible. Although both have taut suspension and a good chassis, the Cooper S is far and away the performer, thanks to its punchy turbocharged engine. Aside from proprietary badging, the Cooper S can easily be recognized from its hood scoop and center-exit exhaust pipes.

Both convertible trims offer plenty of features, with many former options now standard equipment. They are available with dozens of additional options, accessories and packages, including a navigation system and a $1,500 Sport Package consisting of a traction-control system, 17-inch wheels, hood stripes, fog lights and sport seats, but not the "Sport Suspension" option, oddly enough.

View Pictures: More MINI Cooper Photos

Under the Hood
The engine in the 2009 Cooper Convertible is the same unit found in the solid-roofed Cooper: a 1.6-liter four cylinder capable of 118 horsepower at 6000 rpm, with 114 lb-ft of torque at 4250 rpm. While the convertible does add weight, the engine is still sufficient to get around town and enjoy the breeze. For those looking for a bit more kick, the Cooper S Convertible offers the same turbocharged engine found in the Cooper S. With direct injection and a twin-scroll turbocharger, this one produces 172 horses at 5500 rpm, and 177 lb-ft of torque in a flat plateau starting at just 1600 rpm and lasting until 5000 rpm. Additionally, there is a momentary "overboost" function that increases torque by 15 lb-ft from 1700 to 4500 rpm.

Both trims are offered with either the new 6-speed paddle-shift automatic or a traditional manual transmission, also with six gears. Most would agree that a car like this is best enjoyed with a traditional clutch and shifter, though as automatics go, this one offers crisp shifts and gear ratios that make the most of the available torque.

Gas mileage of the base Cooper Convertible is an impressive 28 mpg city/36 mpg highway with the manual transmission, meaning a theoretical 475 miles out of a single tank will be a blessing to many commuters. Perhaps even more impressive is the mere two mpg penalty of jumping to the Cooper S Convertible, with 26 mpg city/34 mpg highway.

Inner Space
True to the original design, the convertible's interior is much roomier than it appears — and notably more so than the previous generation. While the novelty of its hip and modern interior may be starting to wear off, it's miles from drab and depressing. Bold, rounded shapes abound throughout the cabin, as do contrasting colors and materials. While the buttons and switches do appear a little cheap, they actually feel and operate nicely.

The easy-to-read tachometer is still a plus, and hints at the car's sporty personality. The large, center-mounted speedometer flies in the face of BMW's typical "eyes up" driver theme, but there's a digital readout in the tachometer. One of the most interesting features of the new car is the "Openometer," a gauge to the left of the tachometer, designed solely to log the hours spent driving with the top down. Sure, it's technically a gimmick, but it's bound to be fun for owners, and is the kind of purely playful idea that only MINI would have the guts to realize.

Discuss: Will people notice that the new MINI Convertible is new, and does it matter?

The four seats are comfortable and supportive, and even the base black/gray leatherette feels surprisingly nice to the touch. Carbon Black cloth is an option, and leather is available in different colors. Additional color accent and trim options are available as well. Like the exterior, there is no shortage of interior color combinations from which to choose.

On the Road
For a front-wheel-drive compact car, we found the MINI Cooper S Convertible hard to beat for sheer fun. While it's possible to feel the weight increase from the additional chassis reinforcements and bracing, the MINI convertibles don't suffer like most cars originally designed with a roof do that's now lopped off. MINI says that the suspension is tuned specifically for the convertible, but the nimble handling owes itself to simple physics — the cars are diminutive.

View Pictures: More MINI Cooper Photos

Turn-in is quick and responsive, and there's ample grip from the 195-width tires. A little more weight and feedback in the steering wheel would be welcome during hard cornering, though, and experienced drivers seeking to push the MINI to its limits may wish to keep the stability control (DSC) turned off, since its intervention can be a nuisance. The brake pedal communicates nicely, and the brakes themselves offer sufficient stopping power and feature a plethora of electronic aids including ABS, Electronic Brake Force Distribution and Cornering Brake Control.

MINI claims a zero to 60 mph time of 8.9 seconds for the manual-transmission Cooper Convertible, and 7 seconds flat for the S. In driving both the Cooper and the Cooper S, we're left wondering if the ideal engine would be somewhere between the two. The regular Cooper Convertible just isn't powerful enough to have any real fun, while the Cooper S Convertible is plenty fast, with instant turbo boost almost always on tap.

Discuss: Will people notice that the new MINI Convertible is new, and does it matter?

Right for You?
The MINI's small and economical size and lively, tossable demeanor cater to both the green-conscious demographic tired of gas-guzzling SUVs, as well as enthusiasts thrilled to see the tradition of the classic "hot hatch" still alive and kicking. There is certainly a price premium for the convertible, however, with the base Cooper starting at $24,550 and the Cooper S beginning at $27,450. Begin adding some options, and the price will be in the $30Ks before you know it. They both offer plenty of personality, although those who enjoy spirited driving should walk past the base Cooper and straight to the Cooper S.

James Tate cut his teeth in the business as a race team crew member before moving to the editorial side as Senior Editor of Sport Compact Car, and his work has appeared in Popular Mechanics, Automobile, Motor Trend and European Car. When not writing, Tate is usually fantasizing about a vintage Porsche 911.

Space cowgirl salvages NASA junk, finds 'Pic of the Century'

Charged with archiving 2,500 unreadable NASA data tapes from the '66 Lunar Orbiter mission, a determined Nancy Evans scoured govt salvage yards to find a one-ton FR-900 Ampex tape drive to read them. Too costly for NASA, she retired, the drives in her garage. Thru stroke of luck, space junkies found her on a blog, and restored NASA's historic pics.

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Cambridge University Unveiled Solar Car (Apr. 7, 2009) — Cambridge University Eco Racing’s (CUER) new solar racing car demonstrates cutting-edge environmentally-friendly technology, applicable to the next generation of electric vehicles.

Cambridge University Unveiled Solar Car

The vehicle, currently codenamed ‘Bethany‘, will compete in the World Solar Challenge in Australia in October 2009. This vehicle is capable of cruising at 60mph using the same power as a hairdryer. The car will weigh just 160kg and sports 6m2 of the world’s highest efficiency silicon solar cells.

In order to achieve the car’s extraordinary performance, CUER’s engineering team has systematically reduced energy usage for each part of the car. Aerodynamics, rolling resistance, weight and electrical efficiency have all been optimised to create a vehicle that uses up to 50 times less power than a normal petrol car and has potentially infinite range.

Extensive computer modelling and simulation have been necessary to achieve this, using Dassault Systèmes’ SolidWorks and Simulia packages for mechanical design, ANSYS’s Fluent for aerodynamic simulation, as well as National Instrument’s LabVIEW and The MathWorks’ MatLab and Simulink for systems modelling. Under its solar skin, the racing car is simply an ultra-efficient electric vehicle.

The technologies used are therefore applicable to the commercial electric cars that are beginning to appear on our roads. Technologies used include a 98% efficient electric hub motor, control systems providing battery management (supplied by REAPsystems) and regenerative braking, lightweight mechanical design, and carbon fibre composite bodywork.

Miracle Hole-In-One (Off The Water) - Nothing But Cup

Sports Videos, News, Blogs

Video was shot on Tuesday April 07, 2009 at Augusta National Golf Course during Tuesday's practice round on hole 16 (170 yard Par 3 Redbu...

In double transplant, left hand works first


WASHINGTON (AP) — When patients had both hands transplanted, their brains re-established connections much more quickly with the left hand than the right, a team of researchers in France reports.

The sample was small, just two patients, but both had been right-handed before losing their hands, and both followed a pattern of reconnection with their brain that was quicker for the left hand.

The study, led by Angela Sirigu of the Center for Cognitive Neuroscience at the University of Lyon, France, is reported in Tuesday's edition of Proceedings of the National Academy of Science.

The research shows that even years after the loss of hands the brain can reorganize and rewire itself to recognize and connect to a replacement.

And it comes just days after French physicians, in a 30-hour operation, performed the world's first simultaneous partial-face and double-hand transplant. Paris' Public Hospital authority described the recipient as a 30-year-old burn victim who was injured in a 2004 accident.

Sirigu's team used magnetic imaging to study the brains of people who had lost both hands and to see how the motor region that controls movement responded after new hands were transplanted.

The first case involved LB, a 20-year-old man injured in 2000, who received the transplants in 2003 after having used artificial hand devices in the meantime.

He was checked periodically and the researchers found his brain had re-established nerve connections to control the left hand by 10 months, while it took 26 months to complete the rewiring needed for the right hand.

"Interestingly, despite that LB was right-handed, and that after his amputation he used his prosthetic device mostly with his right hand, hand preference shifted from right to left after he had the graft," the researchers reported.

The second patient studied, CD, was a 46-year-old man who lost both hands in 1996 and received a dual hand transplant in 2000. He was tested by the researchers in 2004, 51 months after the transplants. Strong connections in the brain were observed for the left hand, but not yet the right.

The researchers said more study is needed to determine why the brain reconnected more efficiently to the left hand in these patients. Possibilities include a basically better connection to the left hand, factors in the way that the brain reorganizes itself during the process of the loss of a hand and its later replacement, or perhaps some pre-existing difference in brain organization.

In general, experiments have shown that the right side of the brain controls the left side of the body and many researchers believe it also dominates in such areas as spatial abilities, face recognition, visual imagery and music. The left side of the brain controls the right side of the body and is thought to dominate in language, math and logic. However, many traits are shared by both sides, and if one side is damaged the other can take over many of its functions.

The research was supported by the U.S. National Science Foundation, the French National Center for Scientific Research, the International Brain Organization and other organizations in Brazil, France and Canada.

Video: Bumptop gives Windows 7 touchscreen PCs purpose

by Thomas Ricker

Bumptop has been around as a video concept for a few years. Now this amazing desktop organizer with a physics engine underpinning the UI is available for download (PC only). The software allows you to bump and toss weighted objects across the desktop and organize them into folders or piles the way you would on your real-world desk. It also includes the ability to pan and zoom on images with all the gesture support you'd expect. While a touchscreen (multi-touch supported when Windows 7 ships) display provides a more natural interface, Bumptop also works with a mouse. Check the video after the break -- then hit up the download link below which we suspect you'll be frantically searching for after the video ends. Granted, we don't want to spend our days with arms outstretched at "work" in front of a touchsceen PC anymore than you, but software like this could be useful on our lesser used, kitchen PCs.

Update: Katherine Boehret and Walt Mossberg have posted their review after playing with the wares for a few days. It's definitely "worth a try" but requires a shift from an application- to a desktop-driven approach to daily computing. Something they don't sound eager to do regardless of how "fun" Bumptop is.