Thursday, April 29, 2010

President's Cup Baku (AZE) 2010

Hola darlings.  I am not long for the world this evening.  I thought I was getting better since the fever passed on Tuesday night/Wednesday morning, but today several new symptoms presented themselves.  So now I thing that while the strep throat is passing, I have a really nasty severe cold and the bronchitis (a separate issue) will take a good 10 days to resolve itself.  Antibiotics do NOT help, and I'm sick and tired (pun!) of people telling me to go see my doctor.  Well, frigging duh, why?  She can't do a damn thing for me except what I'm already doing for myself.

Today saw the introduction of masive amounts of green-yellow gunk coming out of my left eye late this afternoon (earlier it was watering and twitching, poor eye), and lesser amounts of the same gunk coming out of my right eye (which is not watering).  Oh yeah, that really does a number on the eye make-up, let me tell ya.  In addition to the chest congestion which, despite my panic on Tuesday evening, is actually loose and I'm coughing up stuff and able to breathe okay, although it does hurt (ouch!) with each hack, now my sinuses have got involved in the action and more gunk is draining down the back of my throat, and also running like periodic Niagra Falls out of my nostrils.  Yep - just when I thought it was safe to ditch the cold capsules. 

I recently emerged from a 90 minute very hot, very steamy bath, and temporarily at least, I feel better and I'm hungry, so I've got to eat something like - NOW -

So I'm doing a few news stories tonights on chess because I haven't covered much of anything lately.  I hope this makes sense cuz my head feels like a balloon about to burst despite breathing in massive amounts of hot moist steamy air over 90 minutes just a bit ago, and the cough has loosened up more (which is a good thing, despite the gunk). 

Oh yeah - the President's Cup.  It says at The Week in Chess that Polgar is playing on one of the teams, but as far I know GM Susan Polgar is still in Texas so the report must mean her younger sister, GM Judit Polgar:

President's Cup Baku 2010 (2)
Mark Crowther (Thu Apr 29 15:44:00 2010)
The President's Cup takes place in Baku, Azerbaijan 29th April - 2nd May 2010.

The event is a single round robin rapid tournament (last year was a Scheveningen team event) with half the players from Azerbaijan and half from abroad.The time control may be 25 minutes per player per game. There is also a blitz tournament on the final day.

Oh - after reading this over - I should tell you that Mark Crowther did NOT write the following.  This is my stuff:  The President of Azerbaijan is Ilham Aliyev. [As far as I can tell, Mr. Aliyev likes riding big fat horses, or at least he likes to pose for massive bronze statutes as if he is riding big fat horses but he doesn't really do it because he is too busy running the Republic.  He has jad these gigantic bronze sculptures of himself on a fat horse (classically posed) strategically placed around the Republic.]

Players: Azerbaijan: Mamedyarov, Radjabov, Mamedov and Guseinov. Rest of the World: Kramnik, Kamsky, Polgar and Sutovsky.

So, I think I am a little loopy from all the meds I have poured into this poor body of mine in an attempt to at least temporarily halt some of the more aggregious symptoms of gross illness long enough to get four or five hours of sleep.  Is that asking too much?  Anyway, I visited the "official website" of the President's Cup but it's just the official site of the AZE Chess Federation which has a lot of other stuff on it too.  At the time I am writing these words I have no idea what the current score is, although since the following mentioned that Judit Polar lost her R1 game and I know she had a draw today, she must have 0.5 points.  Ta dah!  In R2 Judit played GM Teimour Radjabov, who is something of a schmuck but is really cute, so I kind of forgive him every now and then for being a schmuck but then remember the next day and get over it.  Oooooh, here is a picture of them in today's action from the official website!

Obviously I am missing something - who is the dude pictured with the sacred symbols of Venus and Ishtar in the background?  I figure he's dead - he looks like a movie actor from the 1940's. 

Here's what today's news report says:

The second round of the "President Cup", dedicated to the nationwide leader Haydar Aliyev went on with a game of Judit Polgar (Hungary), who lost to Shahriyar Mammadyarov in the first round, and Teymur Rajabov. Even though, the member of our national team Teymur Rajabov started with one of unique versions of Sicilian defence, game came to dynamic draw at the 25th move. Both of the players did not risk the game and agreed with draw. In the game between Rauf Mammadov and Gadir Huseynov white figures had a little superiority over black at the start of the game. But at the end of the game, with precise moves of hard figures, it came to draw. The third game between Emil Sutovski and Gata Kamski, also ended with draw. The last and the most important match between Shahriyar Mammadyarov and Vladimir Kramnik came to clarity at the 48th move. Shakh became the only leader of the table after defeating Kramnik.

Judit Polgar 0.5-0.5 Teymur Rajabov
Emil Sutovski 0.5-0.5 Kamski Gata
Rauf Mammadov 0.5-0.5 Gadir Huseynov
Shahriyar Mammadyarov 1-0 Vladimir Kramnik

Hmmm, 8 players, a single round-robin, that means 7 games total.  They already played 2 so there are 5 left.  Come on Judit, kick some butt!  Why do they have Gata Kamsky's name written backwards?  Is that like a curse or something???

Wednesday, April 28, 2010

Miscellany - on Wednesday Night!

Oy - you should see my hair.  You now how when you get sick your hair gets all weird looking and your mouth gets yucky?  That's me right now.  But before I wash my hair and clean out my mouth and go to bed (already scarfed down two time-release gel caps that are supposed to let me get to sleep and relieve my symptoms, we'll see) - I wanted to bring you these few stories I found interesting.

Wed Apr 28, 2010 2:49 pm EDT

China stripped of 2000 gymnastics medal for underage athlete
By Chris Chase
This story made me laugh.  The Olympic Committee strips China of the 2000 Team Bronze medals in Women's Gymnastics.  What?  When it was so fricking obvious that at least two little girls on the 2008 team were under-age. I mean, come on, they didn't have the start of breasts!  Sixteen year old girls have at least the start of breasts!  It was clear those girls weren't anywhere near 16, despite what their lying phoney papers said (attested to by the Chinese government, as if we're supposed to believe anything IT says). Ridiculous, just ridiculous.  Evidently 2008 medals earned by the cheating Chinese are sancrosanct, so they decided (finally) to pull the 2000 Women's GynasticsTeam Bronze medals instead. 

I can't believe this - a DUH story if ever there was one.  Why is this even news?
Illegal immigrants plan to leave over Ariz. law
By AMANDA LEE MYERS, Associated Press Writer
– 2 hrs 5 mins ago
Of course they're leaving - but don't count on the illegal aliens going back to home sweet home - they're not wanted in Mexico.  Nope - they will instead move to neighboring states that don't have laws against them, like Wisconsin, which seems to be teeming with illegals.  I swear half of Milwaukee's population is now illegals - you can tell by how filthy their neighborhoods are (I go through them five days a week on the bus to and from work so I see it every day). They don't seem to understand the concept of garbage cans and trash collection - not that they care.  They don't care enough to learn to speak English, why should they care about sanitation laws?  They throw all of their garbage, including food and used Pampers, into the gutters and yards.  In the few cases where the yards are clean and not filled with junked up cars, the Mexican colors they paint their houses (bright blues and oranges) are a give-away.  And then there is the ever-present Latino grafitti to add the finishing touches to what used to be neighborhoods filled with working-class descendants of Germans and Poles.  Oh, and don't forget to duck when you hear the gunfire. I grew up in one of the neighborhoods that has now been overrun with "Latinos."  It is no longer safe.  Reports of gang violence and nightly shootings. Yeah, call me a racist - guess I am.  I don't want the illegals here, either. 

Somebody is giving the Republicans really really bad advice.  A few weeks ago they held up a bill to extend unemployment benefit aid to the states; some of the Republican representatives actually claimed that it was unemployment insurance benefits that was assisting people is remaining unemployed, thus extending the Great Recession (I read this in The Wall Street Journal, which should be ashamed of itself for publishing such obvious drek). Obviously the dudes have no concept of what it means to try and live on approximately one-fifth of their regular income each month (if I made one-fifth of their income, I'd be on easy street).  Now they've been holding up action on banking reform.  Oh my - after the latest Congressional sub-committee testimony by the dudes who raped America while getting rich and laughed while doing it has been plastered all over the news.  So now they've decided they're going to play marbles after all - a day late and a dollar short (hope you like those mixed metaphors).  Like I said, really really bad advice.
GOP abandons blockade of banking regulation bill
By JIM KUHNHENN, Associated Press Writer
– Wed Apr 28, 7:52 pm ET
And, tee hee hee, from The Christian Science Monitor, "Noah's Ark discovered. Again."

By Benjamin Radford, LiveScience's Bad Science Columnist / April 28, 2010
A Chinese Christian filmmaker is the latest in a long line of religiously funded expeditions claiming to have found the final resting place of Noah's Ark on Turkey's Mount Ararat.

Isis' Place

The roses were spectactular.  Out front there are several large roses of vibrant colors - corals, reds, white and blends.  I did not, unfortunately, think to take any pics of them.  Duh!  The pinks in the photo left are miniatures.  The shrub rose in the photo right is being shaped into a heart and hides the pool pump. 

More Las Vegas Pics

(Early morning shot inside the shops at the Venetian - no people!)  Oy, I am sooooo sick.  I started feeling crummy Saturday evening (evening I got back home).  Came down with a case of strep throat and a really nasty chest cold, feels like bronchitis.  I was so punked out I missed work yesterday, and last night was awful.  I was running a high fever and I actually had my purse ready to go (phone numbers, all the meds I'm on, insurance cards) if I called 911 in case I had a repeat of an ancient (1989) lung infection that nearly did me in.  It was a struggle not to panic as I felt the gunk building up in my chest, even though I was able to breathe okay.  The crisis passed about 3 a.m. but I wasn't in any shape to report to work this morning - very little sleep. I spent the majority of the night in the recliner so I was more or less upright - I thought it would help my lungs stay clear.  It is not easy to toss and turn in a recliner, though, and I am a restless sleeper.  At least the fever is gone!

But I don't like missing two days of work in a row - not in these uncertain times.  Damn!  I'm sure I got sick from something circulating in the bad air on that Air Tran flight going out to LV.  My throat is still sore, my ears and Eustacian tubes ache, and now I'm coughing up tons of green gunk, yech!  It hurts to cough, too.

I took these pics on my last day in LV, which was great in all ways.  A couple more shots from the Venetian shops, including a view of the replica of the Grand Plaza - I forget what it is called.

I have not gone on and won't go on a gondola ride - not in a mock-up of Venice inside a too epensive hotel in Las Vegas!  But goddess, what a business they have.  By the time I had finished my early-morning tour and shots of the interiors of the Palazzo and the Venetian, as I was walking back through the shops there was already a line of people waiting patiently to board a gondola!  It was about 9:30 a.m.  Incredible.

I made my way outside and took this shot toward the Fashion Show Mall.  I thought I took a few shots inside the Mall too, there are some nice vistas - but evidently I did not because I sure couldn't find them on my memory card!

Love how it looks like a flying saucer.  Street traffic was starting to build, and on the large plaza outside the Mall that fronts Las Vegas Boulevard, there was a long line of people snaked around the cordons waiting to get in to purchase half-price show and dinner tickets.  Geez!  They could have walked down the Strip aways and got their tickets at the litle place that is stationed between The Riviera and the Peppermill Restaurant, and saved themselves a long wait in line!

Monday, April 26, 2010

More Las Vegas Pics

This photo does not do justice to this Lalique sculpture!  It's gigantic, and gorgeous.  The hanging umbrellas are a theme throughout the public areas of the hotel and grand atrium leading to the Palazzo's maze of shops.  I got lost several times while wandering around, and even with the conveniently placed "maps" I still got lost.  Yep, that's me, Wrong Way Newton.  I successfully managed to get us lost in Amsterdam in 2001 and in Central Park in NYC in 2005. This atrium area is probably five to six stories high.  While the scale is immense, the pastel colors of those whimsically floating umbrellas keeps the space from being too ridiculously overwhelming.  It strikes just the right balance between Las Vegas style grandeur and fun. 

I really wanted to get this shot - but to do it better, I would have had to go back to the ground floor and stood in the middle of a pool with fountains.  I don't think the guards would have appreciated that, even though there were hardly any people around.  So, I craned my neck and cracked my backbone and got the best angle I could whilst looking upward toward this immense glass dome at least four stories above me, from the top of the escalator landing :)

This is the pool I would have had to have invaded in order to get a good centered shot of that glass dome!  All of those silvery and goldish speckles in the water are coins that folks have tossed in, each one probably a wish.  I think it's incredibly romantic and I would not have wanted to be swishing my stinky feet around in such wish-filled water.  From this angle, you can see some of the intricately-designed geometric patterns of the marble floor.  To the left is the entrance to the casino.  I know Mr. Don and I took several shots of the Palazzo (outside and inside) when we visited Isis and Michelle in August, 2009, but I couldn't help myself.  It is just the most incredible space!

No visit to the Palazzo would be complete without getting a shot of that spectacular waterfall between the escalators!  I also really like those faux gold-glittery obelisks, but did not manage to get a really good photo of one.

I love the colors and the intensity of the light in this photograph.  That blazing splash of hot white sunlight on the rear wall is sparkling down from the large glass dome above.  Where the light hits the umbrellas, they seem to glow almost like jewels - see how the colors have morphed where that blazing sun is hitting them, creating a translucent glow.  You also get a sense of the grand scale of this atrium area - notice how tall the trees are, but at the same time the designers chose a type of tree (looks like some kind of arborvitae) that has a light and airy branch structure.

More Las Vegas Pics

I am an early riser.  Even while in Las Vegas, I stayed on Milwaukee time (convenient for timing the taking of my blood pressure meds) -- but while the hotel room alarm clock said it was around 5:45 a.m. each of the three days of my visit when I got out of bed, in my head I knew I had slept late because of the 2 hour time difference!  It is a rare luxury for me to sleep until 7:45 a.m.  But this was a vacation, after all. 

Rising early in LV has its advantages.  For one thing, you get served in the coffee shop right away :)  For another, the streets are uncrowded, the stores in the giant shopping complexes attached to the poshest of the hotels aren't open yet, and you can get great photos.  So, my last day in town, the only day that was decent enough to get out and about early, I went for a nice long walk to revisit some of my favorite places, and I took some photos.  I didn't get as far as I wanted; I was out for 2 hours; Isis was coming to get me at noon and I was back at the IP by 11 a.m. to cool down and stretch out on the bed for a rest-up.  But I did visit the Venetian, the Palazzo and the Fashion Show Mall :)  Top photo - one of the fountains outside the Venetian.  It's so blatantly phoney, but it's so well done, I love the Venetian.  It also has lovely vistas and the attention to detail in re-creating the phoniness is astounding.  I always see something new.  As per usual, the Venetian is under construction - you can see the crane hovering above yet another mighty tower on the left of this photo.  Look - no people!

A view across one of the roadways outside the Venetian (I was taking one of the ramps toward the Palazzo shops), showing Treasure Island and one of the large digital display signs for the Mirage.  Check out that sky - gorgeous color, heh?  And look - hardly any people - just a few are visible.

A photo looking north toward the construction site at the Venetian.  No traffic! 

This is one of those unexpected vistas that crop up so often in Las Vegas, and to do it justice the photo really should be larger.  This is a shot taken from that walkway I was taking up toward the Palazzo shops, and I was struck by how lovely the garden was, with its palms and cypress and carefully pruned evergreens.  The Wynn, and behind it, the Encore, hover in the background.  Look ma, no people!  Or cars!

Here is another photo of the same front garden area, from a slightly different angle. Wish I had a backyard that looked like that!  Notice the "hanging" greenery on the top of the concrete ediface across the center of the photo going toward the left.

Las Vegas Photos

I stayed at the Imperial Palace.  I love it's location, mid-Strip, and the price for a clean and comfortable room is hard to beat.  I also like the size of the IP - I don't have to walk a mile to get out of the place, I like the mix of reasonably priced shops, I like the fact that there aren't too many of them, and I like the cozy feel of the casino's human scale.  I actually feel like I'm in the classic Las Vegas of yesteryear when I stay at the IP.  The staff is great, too.  Here are a couple of photos of my room - nice king-size bed.  It occurred to me later that I should have taken the photos after housekeeping paid a visit.  LOL!  You really can't see it very well, but on the nightstand is a plastic cup holding two white roses that Michelle picked for me from their garden.  Those roses were still going strong the day I left to return home.

The weather was crappy by Las Vegas standards; on April 20th it was in the 80s and sun sun sun. Isis emailed me that she had spent most of the day in her garden, getting things fine-tuned for my visit.  The next day, when I arrived, the LV natives were in their winter coats (no kidding).  It was overcast, threatening rain, and "cold."  About what I left behind in Milwaukee.  On Thursday, LV actually went on the books as coldest for that particular day since records have been kept.  Wow.  It rained and hailed, and the winds blew and blew.  Some parts of the valley got drenched, other areas got drizzle and mist, other areas got 60 second cloud-bursts, but by afternoon the skies had cleared.  It was too cool and windy, though, to sit outside comfortably.  As Isis and I were out and about shopping (away from the Strip) Thursday, we were able to see the storm and rain clouds moving  into the valley over the mountains and we could follow their progress across various neighborhoods.  A fascinating site.  Except for the hotels, there are no "high rises" in Las Vegas, so the vista is open and it's easy to track the progress of the storms as they moved around. 

My last day in LV was perfect - sunny, a nice breeze, and warm enough to sit outside without a jacket on.  I didn't mean to but I picked up some "color" on the few bits of skin that were showing in my three-quarter sleeve length top and blue jeans!  I have a white stripe on my left wrist where my watch was and red and white stripes on both arms where the sleeves of my blouse covered the skin; white owl circles around my eyes from my sunglasses, and that horrid brown V on my neck/chest I've been trying to fade since the end of the New York vacation last year got all red again - now I'll never get rid of it!

Milwaukee was drenched in rain when I got back home, the back yard is a soggy mess - and we got more of the same Saturday night and Sunday along with high winds.  Today it was cool but sunny - lots of water needs to be evaporated!  We are in for a slow (very slow) warming trend over the next 2 weeks, but this being Wisconsin, the forecast will change tomorrow.  I'm still waiting for that late season blizzard or ice storm to hit. 

Illegal Construction at Effigy Mounds National Monument

Unauthorized Construction May Have Damaged Effigy Mounds
By Becky Ogann, KCRG TV

Story Created: Apr 23, 2010 at 11:45 AM CDT
(Story Updated: Apr 23, 2010 at 1:15 PM CDT )

(Image: Great Bear Mound group, just one of the sacred places in the
Effigy Mounds National Monument, from Wikipedia Commons)

HARPERS FERRY - Unauthorized construction projects may have damaged the ancient cultural features that Effigy Mounds National Monument was established to protect.

A team of archaeologists is working to determine what, if any, damage to the mounds may have been inflicted by the unauthorized construction of a maintenance shed in the north unit and an elevated boardwalk trail on the Nazekaw Terrace directly across Highway 76 from the visitor center.

“We didn’t mean to do wrong, but we did,” said Effigy Mounds Superintendent Phyllis Ewing.

In an effort to improve access to mounds for people of limited mobility, Effigy Mounds staff began construction of the Nazekaw Terrace boardwalk in the fall of 2008. Work was abruptly halted a year ago when Park Service regional staff, conducting a periodic compliance review, found that two required documents — an environmental-impact statement and a historical and cultural impact statement — had not been completed before the project was undertaken.

The review uncovered other irregularities dating to 1999, including a similar malfeasance preceding the 2002 construction of the much larger Yellow River boardwalk and bridge, said Steve Adams, the Park Service’s Midwest regional associate director of cultural resources.

Adams said it remains to be seen what repercussions may ensue from the violations of federal law.

“It’s a very serious matter,” he said. [Yeah, right.  Tell me, was anybody fired during the last go-round?  Was anyone prosecuted for malfeasance in office?  Ha!]

The maintenance shed has already been dismantled, and the fate of the Nazekaw Terrace boardwalk will be determined by an advisory council, which includes tribal representatives, after the archaeological study is complete, Adams said.

Options include removing the trail’s aboveground portions; removing the entire trail, including the many underground concrete piers; leaving it as is; and completing it.

A similar evaluation will be required for the Yellow River trail. Adams said his gut feeling is that the Yellow River boardwalk and bridge will not have to be removed.

“The fortunate thing about the Yellow River trail, at least it was down there (in the river bottoms) away from the mounds,” Adams said.

The same can’t be said for the half-finished spur to the Nazekaw Terrace, which has a few intact conical and linear mounds, many degraded mound remnants and more remnants likely to be confirmed by the archaeology studies now under way.

A team under the direction of National Park Service archaeologist Steven DeVore has spent most of April conducting aboveground testing of the soil’s magnetic and electrical resistance. The readings, DeVore, said will pinpoint areas in which the soil has been disturbed, indicative of ancient mound construction.

State Archaeologist John Doershuk said, “It is possible that significant cultural resources were adversely impacted.”

Ewing and her staff “misunderstood their responsibilities under the National Historic Preservation Act” and did not take full advantage of available Park Service experts, Doershuk said.

Nor did they consult, as they should have, his office, the State Historical Society of Iowa and their tribal contacts, Doershuk said.

Meskwaki Tribal Council member Don Wanatee said his people were disappointed that the final resting place of their ancestors may have been disturbed. “We’re concerned that the underground piers (used to support the elevated trail) may have caused permanent damage to the site,” he said.

“It was a mistake, and the Park Service has apologized for it,” said Patt Murphy of Salina, Kan., a member of the Iowa Tribe of Kansas and Nebraska, who has been on site monitoring the archaeologists’ work for most of this month.

Murphy said the site is sacred to members of 12 Indian tribes whose forebears once lived along the Upper Mississippi River.

“Any place where Indians have been buried is sacred to us. My personal feeling is that people were buried here because it is sacred ground,” he said.

Murphy said the park managers’ mistakes do not reflect a lack of respect for Indian sensibilities. “They respect our opinion, and they respect the land,” he said.

Doershuk, too, said Ewing has been a conscientious steward who has worked hard to develop good communications with the descendants of the people who created the mounds.

Ewing said she takes full responsibility for the failure to follow the legally prescribed procedures.

The Park Service’s dual mission, she said, is to preserve natural and cultural resources and to make them available for the education and enjoyment of the public. In this case, park staff failed to maintain the proper balance, she said.
Hmmmm.  Who got paid how much, and when, and who ultimately benefited from the prior construction project and who would benefit financially from this latest illegal project?  Follow the money.  I have a feeling, though, that this is the last we'll hear of this story.

Wikipedia information on the Effigy Mounds National Monument

Four Devastating Asian Droughts Captured in Tree Rings

Study details at least four epic droughts in Asia
Thursday, April 22 07:42 pm
(This story from the UK version of Yahoo News from AP)
Jean-Louis Santini

Data collected over the past 15 years for the study is expected to help scientists understand how climate change can unleash large-scale weather disruptions.

Any drastic shifts to the seasonal monsoon rains in Asia, which feed nearly half the world's population by helping crops grow, could have serious socio-economic consequences, according to scientists at Columbia University's Lamont-Doherty Earth Observatory.

They mapped out past droughts and their relative severity by sampling the wood of thousands of ancient trees across Asia. Among them was a drought that caused tens of millions of people to starve to death in the late 1870s.

"Global climate models fail to accurately simulate the Asian monsoon, and these limitations have hampered our ability to plan for future, potentially rapid and heretofore unexpected shifts in a warming world," said lead author Edward Cook, head of Lamont's Tree Ring Lab.

Prior to the study, published in Friday's edition of Science, reliable instrumental data collected in Asia -- such as temperature, rain accumulations and winds -- only dated back to 1950.

The scientists pointed to some evidence that monsoon changes are driven at least in part by variations in sea-surface temperatures, with some speculation but no certainty that warming global temperatures could modify and possibly intensify these cycles.

The tree-ring records suggested that climate may have played an important roll in the fall of China's Ming dynasty in 1644, by providing additional evidence of a severe drought already referenced in some historical Chinese texts as the worst in five centuries at the time.

According to the study, the drought occurred at some point between 1638 and 1641, most severely in northeastern China close to Beijing. It is believed to have helped fuel rebellions by farmers that eventually contributed to the Ming dynasty's fall.

Southern China is currently experiencing its worst drought in nearly a century. [I think it's a good guess that this drought - and fear - are primary driving forces behind the construction of an unprecedented number of gigantic dam projects that are disrupting the lives of millions of Chinese; the government probably figures it can deal with grumbling dispossessed farmers who, after all, have more or less sufficient food to survive - so what if they've been kicked off the land their families have farmed for the past thousand years; the government would not be able to long survive 300 million rioting starving farmers or - even more frightening, the starving residents of the cities.]

Rainfall determines the width of the annual growth rings of some tree species. The researchers' trek across Asia to find trees old enough for long-term records took them to over 300 sites, to Siberia, Indonesia, northern Australia, Pakistan and as far east as Japan.

"It's everything from lowland rainforests to high in the Himalayas," said study coauthor Kevin Anchukaitis, a Lamont tree ring scientist.

"You have a tremendous diversity of environment, climate influences and species."

University of Hawaii meteorologist Bin Wang said the tree-ring atlas is valuable to monsoon forecasters, allowing them to detect short-term and long-term patterns thanks to the detailed spatial areas and the length of the record.

More Graves Uncovered in Shar-i Sokhtah

From Press TV (Iran)
Ancient graves found in Iran Burnt City
Sat, 24 Apr 2010 09:44:47 GMT

More ancient graves have been discovered at Iran's Burnt City as archeologists were conducting the 13th phase of excavation works at the prehistoric site.

The unearthed tombs at the Burnt City site located in southeastern Sistan-Baluchestan province date back to about 3,000 BC, Rouhollah Shirazi, an official with Iran's Cultural Heritage, Handicrafts and Tourism Organization told IRNA on Thursday.

Shirazi also added that the archeologists made the discoveries during last winter's excavations around the eastern wing of the city, where its residential buildings, monuments and cemetery were located.

According to the Iranian official who directs the Burnt City excavation works, a number of buried relics were also unearthed along with the graves.

Archeologists have also found a well-preserved building in the residential area, covering around 80 square hectares of the total 151 square hectares of the ancient city.

The 5000-year-old Burnt City is located near the city of Zabol where four civilizations used to live. It was burnt down three times and not rebuilt after the last fire.

The world's oldest animated picture, dice and backgammon set (the miraculously preserved wooden "serpent" gameboard, dated to c. 2400-2300 BCE), the earliest known caraway seed and an artificial eyeball have been found in the Burnt City.


Information on Shar-i Sokhtah at Goddesschess:

The Serpent Gameboard of Iran: Much Ado About - Nothing New...

Sunday, April 25, 2010

Religious Terrorists Target School Girls

This is what happens when religious fundamentalists think they're right and everyone else is wrong. It is happening in this country - the people of the religious right are just as warped in their beliefs as the Taliban are in theirs.  And, as we know, these people can even justify committing murder in the name of their 'God' while claiming to be devout Christians.   When you think that 'God' is on YOUR side, you can justify anything, any atrocity, in the name of your 'God.'  That is really, really sick.
Article at Yahoo News
By RAHIM FAIEZ, Associated Press Writer Rahim Faiez, Associated Press Writer – 2 hrs 44 mins ago
KABUL – Dozens of Afghan schoolgirls have fallen ill in recent days after reporting a strange odor in their classrooms in northern Afghanistan, prompting an investigation into whether they were targeted by militants who oppose education for girls or victims of mass hysteria.

Either way, the reports from three schools within 2 miles (3 kilometers) of one another in Kunduz province have raised alarm in a city threatened by the Taliban and their militant allies.

The latest cases occurred Sunday, when 13 girls became sick, Kunduz provincial spokesman Mahbobullah Sayedi said. Another 47 complained of dizziness and nausea the day before, and 23 fell ill last Wednesday.

All complained of a strange smell in class before they fell ill.

"I came out from the main hall, and I saw lots of other girls scattered everywhere," Anesa, a 9-year-old who was hospitalized briefly Sunday, told The Associated Press. "Then suddenly, I felt that I was losing my balance and falling."

None of the illnesses was serious and the girls were only hospitalized for a short time. The Health Ministry said blood samples were inconclusive and were being sent to Kabul for further testing to determine the cause of the illnesses.

"This is a matter of concern not only for us but for the families," Sayedi said, blaming the sicknesses on "enemies" who oppose education for girls.

In the capital of Kabul, President Hamid Karzai's spokesman, Waheed Omar, said any attempt to keep girls out of school is a "terrorist act."

Kunduz had been relatively quiet until a few years ago when Taliban activity began to increase, threatening NATO supply routes south from Central Asia. Late Saturday, NATO and Afghan troops killed one militant and detained several others in Kunduz province.

Girls were not allowed to attend school when the Taliban controlled most of Afghanistan. The group was ousted from power in the 2001 U.S.-led invasion. The Taliban and other conservative extremist groups have been known to target schoolgirls.

In one of the most chilling attacks, men on motorbikes sprayed acid from squirt guns and water bottles onto 15 schoolgirls and teachers in 2008 as they walked to a girls school in Kandahar, the southern city that is the spiritual birthplace of the militant movement.

Previous cases of sudden illness in schools have left families too frightened to send their daughters to school.

Last year, dozens of girls were hospitalized in Kapisa province, just northeast of Kabul, after many collapsed with headaches and nausea following reports of a strange odor in their schoolyard. The Taliban was blamed, but research into similar mass sickenings elsewhere has suggested that some might be the result of group hysteria. [But the goal is achieved - that's the point - by using chemicals to sicken some of the girls the rest are terrorized into hysteria.  The parents then keep the girls out of school due to fear.  And the barbarians win.]
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