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August 2, 2010

I forgot the ARF story today. I though I had recorded it earlier in the day, but I didn't. I'll make sure it gets on the Tuesday show. Sorry about that. Turtlestack (talk) 06:02, 3 August 2010 (UTC)Reply

Over the weekend,

the Crown Fire, which has burned through 13,980 acres in the High Desert of Southern California since Thursday, was, according to the Los Angeles County Fire Department at 82% containment Saturday evening.

On Friday, over 2,000 residents of Leona Valley, Ana Verde, and Rancho Vista were given mandatory evacuation orders as the sky was blanketed with thick orange pyrocumulus clouds and falling ash, making the air hard to breathe. However, by late Friday night, all existing evacuation orders were lifted and 500 residents of Rancho Vista were told to "shelter in place" until further notice. Yet despite the absence of mandatory evacuation orders, over 2,000 houses, 60 commercial buildings, and 100 outbuildings are still under threat.

At the height of the fire, 1,700 firefighters from all over California were battling the flames, although as of 12:00 pm Saturday afternoon, it has been reduced to around 1,350 personnel. Three firefighters have been injured battling the fire, although all injuries are minor. One sheriff deputy was also hospitalized for smoke inhalation but has since been released. The fire has so far destroyed one house and three mobile homes, damaging the roof of another and burning car garages, horse stables, and other outbuildings.

As dry conditions threaten the residents of California,

The worst flooding in 80 years in Pakistan has left at least 800 people dead, and affected over a million more. The floods were caused by heavy monsoon rains and have destroyed homes in the country, especially in the northern province of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa.

The Pakistan Meteorological Department said that twelve inches of rain fell over a 36 hour period. Sohail Rahman, reporting for Al Jazeera from Pakistan's capital of Islamabad, said that Islamabad experienced a "deluge of water" flowing south from Khyber Pakhtoonkhwa. He went on to say that "floods have really affected the infrastructure in and around the province. The people in the affected areas were quite critical in the first 24 hours, saying that the authorities were not doing enough."

Rescue operations have been hampered by the weather; while seventeen helicopters are operating, with more to come, they cannot operate in all areas due to the weather, and just 48 boats are available for use by rescue crews.

Last Wednesday, the bad weather was also to blame for a passenger plane crash which killed all 152 on board. Four days later, on Saturday,

investigators found the black box and flight data recorder of Airblue Flight 202 that crashed into the Margalla Hills of Pakistan's capital city.

Junaid Amin, the head of Pakistan's Civil Aviation Authority, told CNN that the recorders will be sent to either Germany or France, which have the necessary resources to analyze the data. Such an investigation could take months to complete, however.

The black box records communication data and technical information such as speed and altitude, as well as conversations in the airplane cockpit. It could thus help investigators determine why the plane crashed.

Last Wednesday marked the 100th day since the beginning of the Deepwater Horizon oil spill, and although the leaking well was recently capped, the estimated three million or more barrels of oil already in the Gulf of Mexico are still causing trouble for many residents of the Gulf coast.

There are still many unanswered questions about the long-term impact of the spill, including how it has affected the environment and natural habitats of the Gulf as well as whether residents of the area will be able to return to their jobs and livelihoods now that the leak has been capped. US government officials say that, even after the oil well is permanently sealed, workers will still have a lot to do, including the removal of around 20 million feet of containment boom. "I would characterize this as the first 100 days. There's a lot of work in front of us," said Rear Admiral Paul Zukunft of the US Coast Guard.

Authorities will use submarines to assess damage underwater, while teams on the ground assess the shoreline. While removing oil from beaches is expected to be fairly straightforward, cleaning the marshlands will be particularly difficult, as boats are needed to maneuver through small channels and workers are unable to stand on solid ground. At least 638 miles (1,027 kilometres) of the Gulf coast have been hit by the oil.

The government is focusing on both cleaning sensitive coastal regions and looking for underwater oil plumes, but is also probing into what may have been the largest accidental oil spill. The US Justice Department, as well as Louisiana, Mississippi, and Alabama, are all investigating what contributed to the disaster. The Washington Post reported one team is looking into whether a close relationship between BP and government regulators played a role in the spill. The Post also said that Deepwater Horizon operator Transocean as well as oil services group Halliburton were being investigated.

BP officials say that they will try to perform the "static kill" process on Monday, a process which involves pumping a thick mixture of mud and cement down into the cap currently stopping the leak. At the end of next week, one of two relief wells currently being drilled should reach the leaking well, and officials will then know if the static kill has worked. It is hoped that this "bottom kill" operation will be able to permanently seal the damaged well.

Even though BP is close to sealing the oil reservoir, it still faces legal battles, economic struggles, and internal changes. On Tuesday, BP announced Tony Hayward would step down from his position as the company's chief executive. His replacement, American Bob Dudley, will be the first non-British CEO of the company.

On Thursday, lawyers met at a Boise, Idaho hearing to determine how around 200 various lawsuits against BP will play out. Depending on whether the suits can be consolidated, BP could be facing years of legal disputes. BP, Transocean, and Halliburton had already blamed each other for the disaster during a May hearing before the US Senate. Federal regulatory officials were criticized for allegedly taking bribes and not thoroughly inspecting the oil rig.

The company also reported a quarterly loss of US$16.9 billion and said it has allocated US$32.2 billion to pay for the spill. BP has a US$20 billion fund to help make up for the massive losses of the Gulf fishing, oil, and tourism industries and will pay damages for each of the millions of barrels of oil lost in the disaster.

BP says that it is the "responsible party" for cleaning up the spill because it owned the leaking well and had leased the Deepwater Horizon oil rig, but claims that it is not responsible for the entire spill.

The overall economic picture for the United Sates was just as gloomy as

the US government announced on Friday that economic growth in the US has slowed to 2.4% in the second quarter as the economy struggles with high unemployment and the aftermath of the worst recession since the 1930's.

This slower rate compares with a newly revised number of 3.7% for Q1, and 5% in Q4 of last year. Economists had been expecting economic growth of 2.5% for Q2.

For this year's second quarter, the Bureau of Economic Analysis' report on the economy carried more disappointing news. Consumer spending growth in the North American country slowed from 1.99% in Q1 to just 1.6%. Also, businesses and retailers stocked shelves at a slower pace, and America's trade deficit, the largest in the world, widened as the country imported more goods.

The US Commerce Department also revised some of their estimated economic growth statistics. The Department revised their estimate of Q1 economic growth from 2.7% to 3.7%, and also revised their estimate of the severity of the 2007–2009 recession from a real-GDP contraction of 2.5% to an new figure of 2.8%.

There were some economic bright spots in Q2. State and local governments, who have been cutting spending for months, spent 1.3% more than in Q1. Residential investment grew 27.9% from -12.3% in Q1. Nonresidential building investment rose for the first time in two years, and disposable personal incomes rose 4.4%, though it appears that people are not spending it.

One of US President Obama's plans to improve the US economy has been a focus on alternative energy and so on Friday,

the President test drove a Chevrolet Volt during a visit to a General Motors plant in Michigan. The visit was part of a larger trip to the Detroit area to discuss the progress of Obama's bailout of the auto industry earlier in his administration.

As the president toured the factory, managers invited him to test drive the Volt, which will soon be manufactured there. After consulting reluctant top aides and Secret Service personnel, Obama accepted. "I hope it has an air bag," said press secretary Robert Gibbs. Obama hopped into the car with assembly manager Teri Quigley, buckled his seat belt, and crept forward about ten feet (three meters). As he got out he remarked that the ride was "pretty smooth".

Obama visited the Detroit area to defend his controversial decision to invest US$50 billion in the failing auto industry last year. "It's estimated we would have lost another million jobs had we not stepped in," said Obama. Instead, job growth totaled 50,000 workers this year, the largest since 1999. Obama warns, though, that recovery is not yet complete.

This was the second time Obama drove a car since early 2007, when as a presidential candidate he requested Secret Service protection. The first was a Dodge Charger, which he drove a few months ago at a Secret Service training facility.

As American consumers gear up to go green in their new automobiles, the US's leading professional stock car series stayed green despite threating rain clouds on Sunday giving

NASCAR Sprint Cup Series driver Greg Biffle his first win of the season after leading thirty laps during the 2010 Sunoco Red Cross Pennsylvania 500 at Pocono Raceway in Long Pond, Pennsylvania. The victory kept him in the top twelve points position, but he was still 428 points behind Kevin Harvick.

This was his fifteenth career victory; his previous win came sixty-four races ago in 2008 at Dover International Speedway.

Tony Stewart finished in the second position, ahead of Carl Edwards and Kevin Harvick in third and fourth, respectively. Denny Hamlin, Jeff Gordon, Mark Martin, Jeff Burton, Martin Truex, Jr., and Jimmie Johnson rounded out the top ten positions. The race had a total of five cautions and twenty-three lead changes among nine different drivers. Jimmie Johnson led the most laps by leading ninety-six.

In the point standings, Harvick and Gordon remained in the first and second position, and Hamlin maintained the third position as Johnson kept fourth. Burton, Kyle Busch, Kurt Busch, and Stewart followed in the top eight points positions. Matt Kenseth fell to the ninth position, as Edwards remained in tenth. Greg Biffle and Clint Bowyer rounded out the top twelve, and are currently in the Chase.

On this day in history


The opening to a compliation titled "Where I'm Calling From" bears a quote written by Milan Kundera from his novel "The Unbearable Lightness of Being". The quote reads "We can never know what to want, because, living only one life, we can neither compare it with our previous lives nor perfect it in our lives to come." In other words, things are clear in retrospect, but not as they are happening.

It is no mistake then that this quote opens the beginning to a collection of short stories by Rayomd Carver, who died on this day in history in 1988. Carver, who was only 50 when he died, described himself as "inclined toward brevity and intensity"; his writing focused on the blue-collar experience, and was clearly reflective of his own life; a life of alcoholism and recovery and most importantly, the theme of communication - or, more accuratly, the inability and stuggle to communicate with ourselves and each other.

Carver came from humble beginnings. He was born in Clatskanie, Oregon, a mill town along the Columbia River, and grew up in Yakima, Washington. His father, a skilled sawmill worker from Arkansas, was a fisherman and a heavy drinker and his mother worked on and off as a waitress and retail clerk.

As a child, he busyed himself reading Mickey Spillane crime novels and, being an active hunter and fisherman, sports and outdoor recreation magazines. After high school, at the age of 19 in June 1957, he worked in the sawmill with his father and married Maryann Burk, who was 16 at the time. Their daughter, Christine La Rae, was born in December the same year.

When Carver was 20, he supported his family by working as a janitor, sawmill laborer, delivery man, and library assistant while Maryann worked as a waitress, salesperson, administrative assistant, and high school English teacher.

The family then moved to California where Maryann's mother lived and Carver soon became interested in writing. While attending a creative-writing course, he met the novelist John Gardner who would become his mentor and ultimately had a major influence on Carver's life and career.

By 1963, after attending Chico State University and Humboldt State College, Carver had earned his BA and began to publish and edit in the University literary magazine Toyon. In 1968, while working as a night custodian he published his fort book of peotry titled Near Klamath with the guidance of poet Dennis Schmitz. For three years he held a job as a textbook editor for Science Research Associates but was fired in 1970 for his inappropriate writing style, however at this piont his writing career began to take off.

Carver's writing style and themes are often identified with Ernest Hemingway, Anton Chekhov with minimalism being generally seen as one of the hallmarks of Carver's work. This style grew from Gardner's advice for Carver to use fifteen words instead of twenty-five and more dramatically, when Carver was being edited by the famed Esquire magazine editor Gordon Lish to use five in place of fifteen. However, objecting to the "surgical amputation and transplantation" of Lish's heavy editing, Carver eventually broke with him.

His style has also been described as Dirty realism, which connected him with a group of writers in the 1970s and 1980s that included Richard Ford, Tobias Wolff -- two writers Carver was closely acquainted with -- as well as Ann Beattie and Jayne Anne Phillips. With the exception of Beattie, who wrote about upper-middle class people, these were writers who focused on sadness and loss in the everyday lives of ordinary people -- often lower-middle class or isolated and marginalized people -- who represent Henry David Thoreau's idea of living lives of "quiet desperation."

Carver's focus on short stories and poems was "that the story [or poem] can be written and read in one sitting." This was not simply a preference but, particularly at the beginning of his career, a practical consideration as he juggled writing with work and family.

During his years of working different jobs, rearing children, and trying to write, Carver started to drink heavily. By his own admission, eventually he more or less gave up writing and took to full-time drinking. In the fall semester of 1973, Carver was a teacher in the Iowa Writers' Workshop with John Cheever, but Carver stated that they did less teaching than drinking and almost no writing. The next year, after leaving Iowa City, Cheever went to a treatment center to attempt to overcome his alcoholism, but Carver continued drinking for three years. After being hospitalized three times (between June 1976 and February or March 1977), Carver began his 'second life' and stopped drinking on June 2, 1977, with the help of Alcoholics Anonymous.

By 1984, Carver was nominated for his second National Book Award for his collection of short stories titled Cathedral, a story Carver saw as a watershed in his career in its shift towards a more optimistic and confidently poetic style.

It is within this collection that Carver's theme of communication and human connectedness is most apparant. In the story titled "A Small, Good Thing", Carver writes about a family who have just lost their child after being hit by a car in a minor accident. In the story, he writes "[Ann]", the boy's mother, "gazed out into the parking lot and then turned around and looked back at the front of the hospital. She began shaking her head. "No, no," she said. "I can't leave him here, no." She heard herself say that and though how unfair it was that the only words that came out were the sort of words used on TV shows where people were stunned by violent or sudden deaths. She wanted her words to be her own."

In Cathedral, "A Small, Good Thing" is printed near the halfway point of the collection, yet the final story, the titular "Cathedral", resolves this inability for charcters to communicate. In the sotry, the main character is asked to draw a cathedral for an old blind man who has no concept of a cathedral, a task he is reluctant to do, but in the process of moving the pen across the paper as the old, blind man holds onto the main characters pen hand, he experiences a brief moment of revelation which he can only describe as "It's really something".

Much like the main character, Carver had experienced a real breakthrough, and by this point he was considered one of the major figures in American literature. However, in 1988, only 6 weeks after marrying his second wife, Tess Gallagher, herself a writer, he died of lung cancer at only 50 years old.

Yet Carver believed he would have died of alcoholism at the age of 40 if he hadn't found a way to stop drinking. When he knew the cancer would kill him, he wrote a poem about that bonus of 10 years, called "Gravy."

So, while me may not know how to make sense of our lives as we live them, we can at least appreciate them in the short time we all have.

August 3, 2010

I'm going live with the show a tad early today. Anything new for Tuesday will be on the August 4 show. Turtlestack (talk) 23:25, 3 August 2010 (UTC)Reply
Audio credit NASA
Again, sorry I forgot this story on yesterdays show. Turtlestack (talk) 06:03, 3 August 2010 (UTC)Reply

On this day in history


Though the project is still shrouded in mystrey, on this day in history in 1977 the Church Committee began its hearing on the illegal US Central Intelligence Agencies human research program, run by the Office of Scientific Intelligence and known by its codename MKULTRA.

This official U.S. government program began in the early 1950s and continued through the late 1960s. The program used U.S. and Canadian citizens as its test subjects to study the use of many types of drugs, as well as other methods, to manipulate individual mental states and to alter brain function.

The project actually began in 1945 when the Joint Intelligence Objectives Agency was established and given direct responsibility for Operation Paperclip. Operation Paperclip was a program to recruit former Nazi scientists, some of whom had studied torture and brainwashing, and several had just been identified and prosecuted as war criminals during the Nuremberg Trials.

Several secret U.S. government projects grew out of Operation Paperclip and their purpose was to study mind-control, interrogation, behavior modification and related topics.

Headed by Sidney Gottlieb, the MKULTRA project was started on the order of CIA director Allen Dulles on April 13, 1953, largely in response to Soviet, Chinese, and North Korean use of mind-control techniques on U.S. prisoners of war in Korea. The CIA wanted to use similar methods on their own captives and was also interested in being able to manipulate foreign leaders with such techniques, and would later invent several schemes to drug Fidel Castro.

Experiments were often conducted without the subjects' knowledge or consent. In some cases, academic researchers being funded through grants from CIA front organizations were unaware that their work was being used for these purposes. To fund the project, a secretive arrangement granted the MKULTRA program a percentage of the CIA budget. The MKULTRA director was granted six percent of the CIA operating budget in 1953, without oversight or accounting and an estimated $10 million or more was spent.

Yet because most MKULTRA records were deliberately destroyed in 1973 by order of then CIA Director Richard Helms, it has been difficult, if not impossible, for investigators to gain a complete understanding of the more than 150 individually funded research sub-projects sponsored by MKULTRA and related CIA programs.

The few remaining CIA documents suggest that "chemical, biological and radiological" means were investigated for the purpose of mind control as part of MKULTRA. These means included the testing of hypnotic drugs such as temazepam, heroin, mescaline, and in one technique investigated, a patinet was connected to a barbiturate IV in one arm and an amphetamine IV into the other. The barbiturates were released into the person first, and as soon as the person began to fall asleep, the amphetamines were released. The person would then begin babbling incoherently, and it was sometimes possible to ask questions and get useful answers.

However, the use of LSD came to dominate many of MKULTRA's programs. Experiments included administering LSD to CIA employees, military personnel, doctors, other government agents, prostitutes, mentally ill patients, and members of the general public in order to study their reactions. LSD and other drugs were usually administered without the subject's knowledge or informed consent, a violation of the Nuremberg Code that the U.S. agreed to follow after World War II.

Efforts to "recruit" subjects were often illegal, even though actual use of LSD was legal in the United States until October 6, 1966. In Operation Midnight Climax, the CIA set up several brothels in San Francisco, CA to obtain a selection of men who would be too embarrassed to talk about the events. The men were dosed with LSD, the brothels were equipped with two-way mirrors, and the sessions were filmed for later viewing and study.

  • Music credit Tet

In Canada, when the CIA recruited Scottish psychiatrist and former member of the Nuremberg medical tribunals of 1946–47, Donald Ewen Cameron, the program experimented with various paralytic drugs as well as electroconvulsive therapy at thirty to forty times the normal power as well as putting subjects into a drug-induced coma for weeks at a time (up to three months in one case) while playing tape loops of noise or simple repetitive statements. The experiments were typically carried out on patients who were being treated for minor problems such as anxiety disorders and postpartum depression, yet many of them suffered permanently from his actions.

Given the CIA's purposeful destruction of most records, its failure to follow informed consent protocols with thousands of participants, the uncontrolled nature of the experiments, and the lack of follow-up data, the full impact of MKULTRA experiments, including deaths, will never be known. However, several known deaths have been associated with Project MKULTRA, most notably that of Frank Olson.

Olson, a United States Army biochemist and biological weapons researcher, was given LSD without his knowledge or consent in November, 1953 and died under suspicious circumstances a week later when Olson exited a hotel window and fell thirteen stories to his death.

Olson's death was described as a suicide that occurred during a severe psychotic episode, possibly exasarbated by the LSD due to his already-diagnosed suicidal tendencies. The Olson family, however, disputed the official version of events. They maintained that Frank Olson was murdered because, especially in the aftermath of his LSD experience, he had become a security risk who might divulge state secrets associated with highly-classified CIA programs, many of which he had direct personal knowledge.

In 1975, Olson's family received a $750,000 settlement from the U.S. government and formal apologies from President Gerald Ford and CIA Director William Colby and later forensic evidence supported the family when Olson's body was exhumed in 1994. A medical examiner termed Olson's death a "homicide" due to cranial injuries indicating Olson had been knocked unconscious before he exited the window.

A considerable amount of credible circumstantial evidence suggests that Theodore Kaczynski, also known as the Unabomber, participated in CIA-sponsored MKULTRA experiments conducted at Harvard University from the fall of 1959 through the spring of 1962. Beginning at the age of sixteen, Kaczynski participated along with twenty-one other undergraduate students in the Harvard experiments, which have been described as "disturbing" and "ethically indefensible."

In all, forty-four American colleges or universities, 15 research foundations or chemical or pharmaceutical companies and the like including Sandoz (currently Novartis) and Eli Lilly & Co., 12 hospitals or clinics (in addition to those associated with universities), and three prisons are known to have participated in project MKULTRA.

The project also plays a part in many conspiracy theories given its nature and the destruction of most records. Some believe the Jonestown mass suicide was thought to be a test site for MKULTRA experiments and others believe Sirhan Sirhan, who assassinated Robert Kennedy, was under the influence of CIA directed hypnotic mind conrtol when he fired his weapon.

Although the CIA insists that MKULTRA-type experiments have been abandoned, 14-year CIA veteran Victor Marchetti has stated in various interviews that the CIA routinely conducts disinformation campaigns and that CIA mind control research continued. In a 1977 interview, Marchetti specifically called the CIA claim that MKULTRA was abandoned a "cover story" even though President Gerald Ford in 1976 issued an Executive Order on Intelligence Activities which, among other things, prohibited "experimentation with drugs on human subjects, except with informed consent." Subsequent orders by Presidents Carter and Reagan expanded the directive to apply to any human experimentation.

August 4, 2010

This is one of those early release shows as I have to be to work in about 6 hours. Any new stories dropping today can go on Thursday's show. Turtlestack (talk) 21:33, 4 August 2010 (UTC)Reply
I don't normally read long quotes from articles (breaks flow, listener has a hard time remembering POV), but Hollander's quote in this story is so chilling I'll make the exception and read the full text of it. Turtlestack (talk) 19:11, 4 August 2010 (UTC)Reply
What's with all the plane crashes lately? Are planes just falling out of the sky these days? Have planes forgotten how to fly? Is this confirmation bias? :) Turtlestack (talk) 19:13, 4 August 2010 (UTC)Reply
Is this the right place to reply to your question?
According to these statistics, every year over 400 people die in accidents of small planes registered in the US. It seems that more have been reported in Wikinews in the last few days, but expect to get a handful a week if you cover them all. Large planes crash far less often:
--InfantGorilla (talk) 19:38, 4 August 2010 (UTC)Reply
I was mostly being facetious, as I tend to make snarky comments here for fun. But thank you for the link. Also, crashes always seem to come in waves - usually one big crash (Pakistan) followed by reports of smaller and smaller crashes until there are no more stories until the next big passenger plane crash. I suppose we are just doing what all news orgs do and report stories we know are on peoples minds based off a previously larger story of similar content. Turtlestack (talk) 20:37, 4 August 2010 (UTC)Reply
Funny, but every year I've flown (I don't fly much) has been a peak year for disasters according to that link. Turtlestack (talk) 21:01, 4 August 2010 (UTC)Reply
  • As you probably know, every truly random outcome has winning streaks and losing streaks.
  • However, I agree with you, press reports about certain types of event happen follow exactly the pattern of limited attention span that you describe. I find it annoying but I can't do anything about it. Some writers don't fall into that trap: I notice Wikinews's consistent reporting of earthquakes as an example.
--InfantGorilla (talk) 09:05, 7 August 2010 (UTC)Reply
It's all good, I honestly wasn't complaining about the aircrash stories, I was just kinda making a funny comment about them being so frequent. However, I dislike flying so much that I actually do dislike having to read about plane crashes - it just gives me the shivers and makes me want to fly even less :) But, as for the frequency of them, I don't actually mind, I just was wondering what was the deal with airplanes lately :) Turtlestack (talk) 13:22, 7 August 2010 (UTC)Reply
I sympathize with your fear. Herman Bondi (spelling?) wrote that for a person to feel safe from a risk over which they have no control, it has to be at least a thousand times safer, than a risk over which the person does have control. Does that make sense? Engineers these days try to order the world so that risks are in that kind of proportion. Of course in hindsight I took your original questions in the opposite way to the one you intended, but that gave me an excuse to look up some interesting statistics. I won't be going up in a light plane any time soon. Anyway, you write and read the script, and I don't see anyone second guessing your netcasts, so as far as I am concerned if you omit a local story that you dislike reading aloud, then no-one can stop you. It is CC-BY, so anyone who disagrees can splice it in later. --InfantGorilla (talk) 13:56, 7 August 2010 (UTC)Reply
There have been a few stories I really didn't want to read for one reason or another, but unless I just run out of time or need to make a major editing decision, I will read them all to be fair and professional - even stories involving Slipknot. The way I approach the AW is from an actors point of view - I need to be "in character" for each story and since that character has to maintain a NPOV, then that's how I go about it. Now, in real life, nobody is NPOV, but it's my responsibility when "representing" Wikinews to be NPOV so I take that to heart every show. I even try to keep my puns as safe as possible lol Turtlestack (talk) 19:02, 7 August 2010 (UTC)Reply
You are 100% correct about the safety difference and, to be honest, my fear is completely based on being irrational - but it's like InfantGorilla pointed out, it's a control thing. When I'm driving, I'm in charge of the car but when I walk into the cockpit of a 747 and try to take the stick, I get thrown into Guantanamo bay :) Turtlestack (talk) 19:02, 7 August 2010 (UTC)Reply
Heh. The irony is, the basics of a large jet are supposed to be very easy, especially the diefly-by-wire models. Waggle the yoke for left and right, play with the throttles for speed and altitude. If it is as easy as it is made out to be (which I have some doubts about) then its a terrorist's wet dream. Blood Red Sandman (Talk) (Contribs) 11:05, 8 August 2010 (UTC)Reply
A friend of mine took me up in a 4 seat, single engine plane a few years ago and we flew all over for about an hour. I actually wasn't all that scared and had a good time, but when he let me take the controls, I had a hell of a time flying the plane. Keeping the nose up and the trim right and the speed steady was just too much information for my brain to get around. That whole operating in the third dimension really makes it hard as opposed to a car which is pretty much just two dimensional. When I think back to the terrorists flying those big passenger planes at that high of a speed (wasn't it well over operational speed they were going?) and getting them aimed at the WTC I can "appreciate" how difficult that must have been, even with flight training. Not that I'm condoning what happened, just commenting on the skill and precision it took to do it. Turtlestack (talk) 12:11, 8 August 2010 (UTC)Reply
Yeah, lining up a big passenger jet like that is tough. They messed up the Pentagon a bit (struck the ground just ahead of it and took out a lot of the energy before striking the building), but it can be compared to hitting an exact spot on a runway. That's something I wouldn't expect a regular pilot to do. I dunno if it was over cruising speed but one can deduce they likely ramped it up high as possible. You can pull some incredible tricks on these things; rolls and dives, flying without control surfaces, rolling inverted and diving together, landing with one main gear or flying a convertible. Blood Red Sandman (Talk) (Contribs) 14:01, 8 August 2010 (UTC)Reply

On this day in history


In the 1790's, after the beheading of King Louis XVI during the French Revolution, the French Revolutionary army had begun to expand French control to the Low Countries, Italy, and the Rhineland.

However, though the army was characterized by its revolutionary fervor, it initially experienced mixed results. France's enemies, fearing the revolution would soon be exported to their empires, included Prussia, Austria, Sardinia, Naples, Spain and Great Britain and enjoyed superior military numbers. France thus found herself under attack on all fronts and when an armed revolt broke out in La Vendée, a fiercely Catholic region of France, it seemed that the fall of the young republic was imminent.

Poorly disciplined and, just as importantly, poorly equipped, the French Revolutionary army needed rearranging. So, in early 1793 a man named Lazare Carnot, a prominent mathematician and physicist, was promoted to the Committee of Public Safety. Carnot, who was an exceptional talent for organization and for enforcing discipline, set about reorganizing the disheveled Armies. Realizing that no amount of reform and discipline was going to offset the massive numerical superiority enjoyed by France's enemies, Carnot introduced conscription, known as the levée en masse, and he was able to raise France’s army from a meager 645,000 troops in mid-1793 to 1,500,000 in September 1794.

Once the problem of troop numbers had been solved Carnot turned his administrative skills to the supplies that this massive army would need. Many of the munitions and supplies were in short supply: copper was lacking for guns so he ordered church bells seized in order to melt them down; saltpeter was lacking and he called chemistry to his aid and leather for boots was scarce so he demanded and secured new methods for tanning.

Yet in 1795, France was under a naval blockade imposed by Great Britain and was unable to import pure graphite sticks from the British Grey Knotts mines – the only known source in the world at the time for solid graphite. Carnot, needing to keep track of the armies supplies thus faced a unique problem; he had all these supplies, but was running out of pencils to keep tally of the mass of inventories.

To solve this problem, Carnot turned to one of his officers, a man named Nicolas-Jacques Conté who was born on this day in history in 1755. After several days of research, Conté discovered a method of mixing powdered graphite with clay and forming the mixture into rods that were then fired in a kiln. By varying the ratio of graphite to clay, the hardness of the graphite rod could also be varied.

Thus was formed the humble, modern pencil and with its assistance the First French Republic, which had started out from a position precariously near occupation and collapse, had defeated all its enemies and produced a revolutionary army that would take the other powers years to emulate. In 1802, France and England signed the Treaty of Amiens, the only period of peace during the so-called 'Great French War' between 1793 and 1815, however the peace treaty only lasted for one year - one wonders if it may have been signed with one of Conté's pencils.

August 5, 2010

Due to recording time constraints, I had to cut 2 stories : Black Eyed Peas to release new album, 'I Gotta Feeling' reaches six million downloads and Nigel Lythgoe to return as executive producer of 'American Idol' Turtlestack (talk) 02:00, 6 August 2010 (UTC)Reply

On this day in history


Though he served only one and a half of the six years of World War II, the German U-boat commander Otto Kretschmer, popularaly known as Silent Otto, was the most successful Ace of the Deep and no other U-boat commander was able to surpass him in terms of tonnage sunk.

Otto was born in Liegnitz, a city in south-western Poland on May 1 1912. At the age of seventeen he spent eight months living in Exeter, England where he learned to speak English fluently and in 1930 he joined the Reichsmarine where he became an officer and served for 1 year on the light cruiser Emden, the only ship of her class and the first new warship built in Germany after World War I.

By January 1936, he had been promoted to a senior lieutenant and was transferred to the U-boat fleet where he received extensive training and a year later during Germany's involvement in the Spanish Civil War, he was placed in command of the submarine U-35 where he patrolled the Spanish coast but sunk no vessels. However when Germany invaded Poland in 1939 he and U-35 were sent to patrol the British coast in the North Sea.

Kretschmer's first success came when he attacked and sunk the Danish 10,517 ton tanker Danmark on January 12, 1940. However the British admiralty at that time thought that the tanker had actually struck a mine as they did not locate any U-boat in the area. A month later, on February 18th, Kretschmer sank the 1,300 ton British fleet destroyer HMS Daring while she was escorting a convoy from Norway. U-Boat crews almost always avoided deliberately engaging enemy destroyers, so the Daring's destruction was rightly seen as a very skillful attack by Kretschmer.

Then in April 1940, Kretschmer was transferred to command of the newly-completed U-99, one of the new type VII submarines (the most successful submarine of the German fleet) and it was while during this command where, in a sense, he started his legacy.

During the first four patrols of the U-99, Kretschmer started attacking convoys at night on the surface, taking down merchant ships with highly accurate shots, using only one torpedo per target ship in order to save ammunition, and the quote "One torpedo ... one ship" is attributed to Kretschmer. From around this time, he was also given the nickname "Silent Otto", both for his successful use of the "silent running" capability of the U-boats as well as for his reluctance to make radio broadcasts during patrols.

And on one patrol during November and December 1940, he sank three, and mortally wounded another, British armed merchant cruisers totalling over 46,000 gross tons. These three successes earned Kretschmer the number-one spot on the Aces list, and was never surpassed even though his tactics were widely copied, with mixed results, throughout the U-Boat force.

Kretschmer was also meticulous in his conduct towards the crews of torpedoed ships. When attacking lone merchant ships in the days before wolfpack tactics began in earnest, he had been known to hand down bottles of spirits and blankets into lifeboats and give them the course to the nearest land. On one patrol in September 1940, Kretschmer retrieved a survivor of another torpedo attack who was alone in the Atlantic on a small raft and took him aboard, transferring him later to a lifeboat after his next successful attack.

On a patrol during March 1941, he sunk 10 more vessels, but on the 17th of March U-99 was disabled after repeated depth charge attacks by the British destroyers HMS Walker and HMS Vanoc.

Kretschmer surfaced and, under fire from the British vessels, scuttled his boat. Three of his men were lost, but Kretschmer and the remainder of U-99's crew were captured by the British.

Kretschmer's usual standards of conduct were evident during the sinking of his boat; he signaled HMS Walker asking for rescue for his men, took pains to ensure as many left the submarine as possible, and assisted some of his crew towards the rescue nets hung from the British destroyer. Kretschmer's strength was evidently failing in the cold water and his own rescue was at the hands of a British sailor who climbed down the nets and plucked him from the water.

Upon his capture, he spent almost seven years as a P.O.W. in the hands of the British. However, Kretschmer was so valuable to the German command that in 1943, the Germans tried to rescue him from Camp 30 in Bowmanville, Ontario during the daring Operation Kiebitz.

The plan involved sending coded messages sent by mail through the International Committee of the Red Cross to the prisoners. The goal was to tunnel out of the camp, and make their way 870 miles through eastern Canada to northern New Brunswick where they would rendezvous with an awaiting U-boat. However the Canadians had been intercepting the coded messages all along but did not tip off the prisoners as the they were hoping to get a rare chance to seize a German U-boat in Canadian waters; a feat that would have been an intelligence coup for the Allies.

As the date of the escape attempt drew closer, the camp guards moved in and seized the POWs, including Kretschmer, but one officer, Wolfgang Heyda, managed to escape over the camp walls using a crude zip-wire on electrical cables. Heyda eluded search parties and the massive police response and somehow made his way on Canadian National Railways passenger trains from southern Ontario to Pointe de Maisonnette in northern New Brunswick on Chaleur Bay. Heyda arrived at the location at the appointed time only to be arrested by personnel who were waiting to coordinate a surface task force that would attempt to attack and/or seize the awaiting U-boat.

U-536, which had been tasked with picking up the escaping naval officers, arrived off Pointe de Maisonnette and at the appointed time was signaled with a light that the escapees were to have used, however the U-boat commander was suspicious, particularly after his hydrophones picked up the sound of several warships that lay hidden nearby. U-536 opted to remain submerged and began to evade the warships which searched throughout the night and attempted unsuccessfully to attack U-536 with depth charges.

Had the plan been successful, it would have been sensational propaganda material for the Nazi war machine however Kretschmer remained a prisoner and U-536 was sunk the following month before it returned to its German homeport.

Kretschmer wasn't returned to Germany until December 1947 where, like several other surviving German naval veterans, he joined the post-WWII German Navy, the Bundesmarine, until he retired in September 1970 as a flotilla admiral. During a vacation in Bavaria on August 5th 1998, this day in history, he died in an accident on a boat on the Danube, while celebrating his 50th wedding anniversary. He was later cremated and his ashes were scattered at sea.

August 6, 2010


Today was a weird day. I've been working so much at my real job and I've been a zombie all day. I'm not even sure how I managed to get a show together, to be honest. Now I didn't even notice that the news brief compilation article was titled "August 5th" until after I uploaded the show - oh well, what can you do. There were a ton of stories awaiting publish, and there was the South Korean football team story (which I cut since I just kept it to the briefs today). Anyway, I'm rambling and I am going to try and get 2 hours sleep before I have to be back at work :( Turtlestack (talk) 01:28, 7 August 2010 (UTC)Reply