Killer whales which set traps to catch seagulls have become the third known animal species to possess cultural learning, a skill which is transmitted to other members of their group.Sure, learn some disgusting habit and use it to lure innocent seagulls to their death. This whale needs discipline, not praise!
The gull-trapping trick was initiated by a four-year-old orca in a tank at Marineland at Niagara Falls in Ontario, Canada, according to a report in next Saturday's issue of New Scientist.
The mammal discovered he could lure seagulls into his tank by spitting regurgitated fish onto the water's surface.
The Pentagon is accelerating its search to replace the Humvee after two years of roadside bomb blasts and suicide attacks in Iraq that have killed hundreds of soldiers in a vehicle not designed for urban combat.NASCAR isn't just the most patriotic sport; innovations from NASCAR vehicles may make it into the future replacement for Hummers.
Before the war in Iraq, a successor to the Army's dominant vehicle wasn't due until the middle of the next decade. Now the Army plans to review designs this fall, and working prototypes will be due in June.
There are about 24,000 Humvees in Iraq and Afghanistan. By 2008, the military could start using a new vehicle that would have:
•More protection for troops. Congressional pressure forced the military to add armor to all older Humvees and buy more models with factory-installed armor. But even Humvees with the latest armor are still vulnerable to the powerful bombs insurgents use.
•A beefier suspension that can handle the weight of the armor. The extra armor has led to increased maintenance problems for the Humvee, which wasn't designed to handle so much weight. The extra weight also makes the vehicle more prone to rolling over and getting bogged down in sand. That has cost the Humvee much of its legendary off-road capability.
•Lower fuel consumption, to reduce the need for supply convoys that have been targets of insurgents.
•Improved onboard power generation to handle the expanding array of electronics that troops take into battle today compared with the simple radios of 30 years ago. Hybrid-electric drivetrains, which are gaining popularity in passenger vehicles and are already being tested in current Humvee prototypes, are being considered to save fuel and generate power.
"We wish we had that vehicle out there today," says Lt. Col. Stuart Rogers, transportation division chief of the Army Combined Arms Support Command.
"Survivability is our primary concern," says Jeff Bradel, project officer at the Office of Naval Research, which is overseeing prototype development for the Marines. Unlike the Humvee, originally designed for tasks behind the lines, the next vehicle will be a fighter from the start, he says.
The original Humvee design worked well in the Persian Gulf War, Bosnia, Kosovo and elsewhere, says Thomas Donnelly, a fellow at the American Enterprise Institute, a research organization. The Iraq war has forced the vehicle into doing what "it was never contemplated that it would do," including battling bomb-wielding insurgents in today's urban combat.
The armoring of the Humvee to counter the bombs has had limited success. Some shortcomings cannot be fixed without a thorough redesign. For example, even with armor, a Humvee's flat bottom won't deflect bomb blasts as well as new designs with boat-bottom-shaped underbodies.
Roadside bombs are among the leading killers of troops in Iraq. Congressional reports and an analysis by CNN suggest that more than 350 troops killed in Iraq since the war started in March 2003 were inside Humvees. In all, 1,451 troops had been killed in combat in the war in Iraq, as of Tuesday morning.
"If this is the threat of the future, the long-term utility of the Humvee has to be questioned," Gen. William Nyland, assistant commandant of the Marine Corps, told a House panel in June.
The Office of Naval Research is sponsoring for the Marines a concept vehicle called the Ultra Armored Patrol at Georgia Tech. The Ultra, to be unveiled next month, includes a NASCAR-inspired "blast bucket" inner shell to protect troops. Jeff Bradel, the ONR's vehicle project officer, says the Humvee was designed as a utility vehicle first, but the next generation must be armored from the start.The concept looks pretty sweet! Check it out:
Global strike has become one of the core missions for the Omaha-based Strategic Command, or Stratcom. Once, Stratcom oversaw only the nation's nuclear forces; now it has responsibility for overseeing a global strike plan with both conventional and nuclear options. President Bush spelled out the definition of "full-spectrum" global strike in a January 2003 classified directive, describing it as "a capability to deliver rapid, extended range, precision kinetic (nuclear and conventional) and non-kinetic (elements of space and information operations) effects in support of theater and national objectives."
This blurring of the nuclear/conventional line, wittingly or unwittingly, could heighten the risk that the nuclear option will be used. Exhibit A may be the Stratcom contingency plan for dealing with "imminent" threats from countries such as North Korea or Iran, formally known as CONPLAN 8022-02.
CONPLAN 8022 is different from other war plans in that it posits a small-scale operation and no "boots on the ground." The typical war plan encompasses an amalgam of forces -- air, ground, sea -- and takes into account the logistics and political dimensions needed to sustain those forces in protracted operations. All these elements generally require significant lead time to be effective. (Existing Pentagon war plans, developed for specific regions or "theaters," are essentially defensive responses to invasions or attacks. The global strike plan is offensive, triggered by the perception of an imminent threat and carried out by presidential order.)
CONPLAN 8022 anticipates two different scenarios. The first is a response to a specific and imminent nuclear threat, say in North Korea. A quick-reaction, highly choreographed strike would combine pinpoint bombing with electronic warfare and cyberattacks to disable a North Korean response, with commandos operating deep in enemy territory, perhaps even to take possession of the nuclear device.
The second scenario involves a more generic attack on an adversary's WMD infrastructure. Assume, for argument's sake, that Iran announces it is mounting a crash program to build a nuclear weapon. A multidimensional bombing (kinetic) and cyberwarfare (non-kinetic) attack might seek to destroy Iran's program, and special forces would be deployed to disable or isolate underground facilities.
By employing all of the tricks in the U.S. arsenal to immobilize an enemy country -- turning off the electricity, jamming and spoofing radars and communications, penetrating computer networks and garbling electronic commands -- global strike magnifies the impact of bombing by eliminating the need to physically destroy targets that have been disabled by other means.
The inclusion, therefore, of a nuclear weapons option in CONPLAN 8022 -- a specially configured earth-penetrating bomb to destroy deeply buried facilities, if any exist -- is particularly disconcerting. The global strike plan holds the nuclear option in reserve if intelligence suggests an "imminent" launch of an enemy nuclear strike on the United States or if there is a need to destroy hard-to-reach targets.
It is difficult to imagine a U.S. president ordering a nuclear attack on Iran or North Korea under any circumstance. Yet as global strike contingency planning has moved forward, so has the nuclear option.
Global strike finds its origins in pre-Bush administration Air Force thinking about a way to harness American precision and stealth to "kick down the door" of defended territory, making it easier for (perhaps even avoiding the need for) follow-on ground operations.
The events of 9/11 shifted the focus of planning. There was no war plan for Afghanistan on the shelf, not even a generic one. In Afghanistan, the synergy of conventional bombing and special operations surprised everyone. But most important, weapons of mass destruction became the American government focus. It is not surprising, then, that barely three months after that earth-shattering event, the Pentagon's quadrennial Nuclear Posture Review assigned the military and Stratcom the task of providing greater flexibility in nuclear attack options against Iraq, Iran, North Korea, Libya, Syria and China.
The Air Force's global strike concept was taken over by Stratcom and made into something new. This was partly in response to the realization that the military had no plans for certain situations. The possibility that some nations would acquire the ability to attack the United States directly with a WMD, for example, had clearly fallen between the command structure's cracks. For example, the Pacific Command in Hawaii had loads of war plans on its shelf to respond to a North Korean attack on South Korea, including some with nuclear options. But if North Korea attacked the United States directly -- or, more to the point, if the U.S. intelligence network detected evidence of preparations for such an attack, Pacific Command didn't have a war plan in place.
In May 2002, Rumsfeld issued an updated Defense Planning Guidance that directed the military to develop an ability to undertake "unwarned strikes . . . [to] swiftly defeat from a position of forward deterrence." The post-9/11 National Security Strategy, published in September 2002, codified preemption, stating that the United States must be prepared to stop rogue states and their terrorist clients before they are able to threaten or use weapons of mass destruction against the United States and our allies."
"We cannot let our enemies strike first," President Bush declared in the National Security Strategy document.
Stratcom established an interim global strike division to turn the new preemption policy into an operational reality. In December 2002, Adm. James O. Ellis Jr., then Stratcom's head, told an Omaha business group that his command had been charged with developing the capability to strike anywhere in the world within minutes of detecting a target.
Ellis posed the following question to his audience: "If you can find that time-critical, key terrorist target or that weapons-of-mass-destruction stockpile, and you have minutes rather than hours or days to deal with it, how do you reach out and negate that threat to our nation half a world away?"
CONPLAN 8022-02 was completed in November 2003, putting in place for the first time a preemptive and offensive strike capability against Iran and North Korea. In January 2004, Ellis certified Stratcom's readiness for global strike to the defense secretary and the president.
At Ellis's retirement ceremony in July, Gen. Richard B. Myers, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, told an Omaha audience that "the president charged you to 'be ready to strike at any moment's notice in any dark corner of the world' [and] that's exactly what you've done."
As U.S. military forces have gotten bogged down in Afghanistan and Iraq, the attractiveness of global strike planning has increased in the minds of many in the military. Stratcom planners, recognizing that U.S. ground forces are already overcommitted, say that global strike must be able to be implemented "without resort to large numbers of general purpose forces."
(AP) - RALEIGH, N.C.-North Carolina lawmakers have approved a measure that would require courts to give battered spouses something extra when they seek a restraining order - information on how to apply for a concealed weapon.
However, victim's advocates who support efforts to curb domestic violence said the measure could end up causing more problems by bringing guns into already volatile relationships.
"In my experience, if you've got a fire out there, I don't think you put it out by throwing gas on it," said Bart Rick, a Seattle-area sheriff who chairs the National Sheriffs' Association domestic violence committee. "When I read this ... I went 'Whoa.'"
The president of the gun-rights group that pushed for the measure said it's more about helping victims of domestic violence help themselves.
"We're not interested in them shooting their abusers," said Paul Valone, president of Grass Roots North Carolina. "We're interested in delivering a message: When police can't protect these people, they are capable of protecting themselves."
The measure becomes law Oct. 1 unless Gov. Mike Easley decides to veto it. His office declined Wednesday to comment on his plans.
The bill, which passed overwhelmingly in both houses of the legislature, would also add protective orders to the evidence a sheriff can consider when determining whether to issue an emergency permit to carry a concealed weapon. Normally, an applicant must wait 90 days for such a permit.
I’m not used to feeling thankful toward Chris Rock. Disgusted, appalled, revolted, sure, simply because the guy’s so famously foulmouthed. But now, I have to admit, there’s gratitude in the mix too.Chris Rock has my respect back.
This is going to take a little explaining.
I assume you know something about Rock. (In a nutshell: stand-up comic, does movies and TV specials, just hosted the Oscars.) A few weeks ago some media outlets picked up on his history of — how shall we put this delicately? — colorful remarks on a variety of subjects, including the sexual orientation of male Oscars viewers. Not surprisingly, a bit of controversy ensued.
We’ll skip over most of what Rock said; it’s got (surprise) lots of obscenities, and anyway, it’s beside the point for this column. One part, however, is worth noting, and that’s his comments on a subject few people try to mine humor from: abortion.
“Abortion, it’s beautiful, it’s beautiful abortion is legal," Rock said on an HBO special last year. “I love going to an abortion rally to pick up women, ‘cause you know they are …" — well, let’s do a little editing here and (as one article I’ve seen has suggested) use the current euphemism “sexually active."
Feeling disgusted, appalled, revolted? I know I am. But not chiefly by Chris Rock (except for the gutter language). What’s really disgusting is the culture of abortion and promiscuity — and it appears Rock’s not celebrating that culture, but blasting it.
That, at least, is what people who’ve seen his routine (some of them pro-lifers) say. Dorinda Bordlee of the legal group Americans United for Life says he’s using satire “to show that abortion on demand has made women more into sex objects than we’ve ever been." And an article in the online magazine Slate backs up Bordlee’s assessment:Far from an encomium to fetus killing, Rock’s abortion bit is an attack on women for the frivolous manner in which they decide whether or not to keep a child. “When a woman gets pregnant, it’s a choice between the woman" — here Rock pauses, a mischievous grin barely restrained — “and her girlfriends." From there: “One girlfriend goes, ‘Child, you should have that baby — that man got some good hair…’ And the other girlfriend says, ‘Child, why we even talking about this — ain’t we supposed to go to Cancun next week? Get rid of that baby!’" And that, Rock says, “is how life is decided in America."
Wow. “Life," “baby," and unconcealed contempt for people who approach the issue casually or selfishly. From Chris Rock. Who would’ve expected it? If nothing else, it’s sure refreshing.
What’s more, Rock seems to be consistent about this message; reportedly he’s been using it in his act since the early 90s. One can only imagine some members of his audience squirming uneasily each time they hear that bit. (And maybe some of his others too. “To all the women who leave their kids at home so they can pop some bubbly at the club," Slate notes, “Rock has this advice: ‘Go take care of those kids before they rob me in 10 years.’")
Look, don’t get me wrong. Of course I don’t want to hold up an oft-raunchy comedian as the ultimate role model on how to talk about abortion. Of course there’s a lot more to the subject than can be summed up in wisecracks. Of course not all girls who consider abortion do so frivolously, and many agonize over it (precisely because they know, deep down in their hearts, just how wrong it is). Of course any full Christian treatment of the issue has to include not just the evil of abortion itself but the forgiveness of God. Obviously, you won’t find all that in Chris Rock’s stand-up routine.
That said, I think Rock has done a public service. At least he’s talking frankly about the motives that, in the real world, drive much of our society’s embrace of “abortion rights."
For years, polls have shown that young men support legalized abortion more than women do. Why? Well, we could pretend there’s some complex sociological explanation, but really, the answer is obvious: It’s occurred to millions of young men that they need abortion as an escape hatch if they’re to be (to use the euphemism again) “sexually active."
This would seem to be obviously sleazy on its face. But ironically, feminists have handed them the perfect excuse: They’re “pro-choice" simply because they respect “women’s rights:" They wouldn’t dream of telling a woman “what to do with her own body." They get to use women and say they’re honoring them at the same time. (As a columnist named Kathleen Howley once wrote, “You can bet that many of them are pretty adroit at telling a woman what to do with her body, if it happens to serve their needs.")
This isn’t to let women off the hook. If (as a group) they’re less driven by lust than young men are, they’re also more likely to use sex for other reasons, primarily to get men to fill their emotional or financial desires. By and large, they’re not helpless victims; some are skillful manipulators. While many women like to blame men for pretty much everything that’s wrong in their lives, the truth is that there’s plenty of blame to go around.
In talking about this, I don’t want to encourage the cynical view that there aren’t many good men or women left, or that the sexes should be constantly eying each other suspiciously, wondering what dirty tricks the other gender is planning. (Some day I’ll get around to writing a column on just what’s wrong with that mentality.) But in the world of “sexually active" (unmarried) people, frankly, that’s the way things commonly are. And that’s the world where most abortions take place.
Everyone knows the motives that are widely in play in that world, and contrary to the high-sounding rhetoric about “choice" and “rights," those motives (to put it mildly) aren’t noble. In fact; when you get right down to it, they’re pretty shameful. Yet the fact that everyone knows this is exactly why hardly anyone will say it. It’s one of those unwritten-rule things, where everyone agrees that “I won’t mention it if you won’t." Too many people have a stake in denying what’s going on. A crude comedian who likes to make waves is one of the few people who don’t mind blowing the whistle.
Interestingly, even pro-lifers are reluctant to speak bluntly about these motives. I think that’s because pro-lifers know their message meets with strong resistance as it is. They want to be winsome, so they don’t want to come down very hard on the people they’re trying to reach, especially when talking to people they know and care about.
I understand that concern; I think it’s an important consideration. But there’s such a thing as tough love, and there are times when it’s the only kind of love that fits. When we treat people as if they’re patients needing therapy instead of responsible moral agents, we’re teaching them that morality is trivial. When we treat them as if they’re not really sinners against God’s Law — not serious sinners, anyway — we encourage them in the worst kind of sin (pride) and breed complacency over their need for the Gospel.
God will make sure someone does the job of telling harsh moral truths; He can even use a guy like Chris Rock. But that’s supposed to be our job, and we should step up to the plate and do it the right way — with strength and with love.
And, incidentally, without all the cussing.