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Wednesday, August 17, 2011

Electronic skin tattoos

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Texas Teen 'Vampire' Bites Stranger, Says He 'Needed to Feed'

GALVESTON, Texas – A Texas man was behind bars Monday after breaking into a stranger's apartment and biting her neck, claiming he was a 500-year-old vampire who "needed to feed," the Houston Chronicle reported.

Lyle Monroe Bensley, 19, is being held on a charge of burglary with intent to commit assault after the incident, which occurred early Saturday in Galveston, Texas, about 50 miles southeast of Houston.

Wearing only boxer shorts, Bensley forced his way into the apartment of a woman he did not know and made growling and hissing noises while biting and hitting his victim in her bed, officers told the paper.

The woman managed to get away and call police, who found Bensley in the parking lot of the apartment complex.

"He was begging us to restrain him because he didn't want to kill us," Galveston Officer Daniel Erickson told the Chronicle. "He said he needed to feed."

Bensley also told police, "I'm a vampire and I've been alive for over 500 years," according to Erickson.

Emergency medical personnel said the suspect did not appear to be under the influence of drugs. Authorities accordingly placed a mental health hold on Bensley and set his bond at $40,000, the paper reported.

The woman, meanwhile, suffered minor injuries, according to KTRK-TV.

Read more: http://www.foxnews.com/us/2011/08/16/texas-teen-vampire-bites-stranger-says-needed-to-feed/#ixzz1VJ64hGsR

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Rise of the Fourth Reich, how Germany is using the financial crisis to conquer Europe

Yesterday’s crisis meeting between Angela Merkel and Nicolas Sarkozy was arranged before the participants knew of the disastrous growth figures in the Eurozone that emerged in the morning.
The background to the meeting was last week’s tumult in the world financial markets. Shares had gone into freefall after the downgrading of America’s credit rating.
Worse than that, however, were the tremors rattling some of Europe’s most important banks, notably in France, caused by further evidence of the utter failure of even the more developed European economies to live anything like within their means.

Chancellor Merkel has managed to use the hard-earned money of German taxpayers to bail out profligate Eurozone countries without suffering any political fall-out. This is unlikely to remain the case and Mrs Merkel knows it.
That is why yesterday she played down talk of the European Central Bank — funded by German-backed Eurobonds — paying off the debts of these all-but-bankrupt nations.

    Instead, there was forceful talk of Eurozone countries being coerced into balancing their budgets and reducing their debt through what Merkel and Sarkozy called a ‘true European economic government movement’ made up of all the heads of state and led, initially, by the EU President Herman Van Rompuy.
    Frau Merkel called for a ‘stronger coordination of policy’ and ‘a new quality of cooperation’ within the Eurozone.
    Although she will not yet admit it, this all suggests the first step has been taken towards a fiscal union that  will leave Germany dictating the financial terms for the rest of Europe.
    Mr Sarzoky and Mrs Merkel talked of a 'true economic government movement' while the German leader called for 'a stronger coordination of policy' during the meeting in Paris
    Mr Sarzoky and Mrs Merkel talked of a 'true economic government movement' while the German leader called for 'a stronger coordination of policy' during the meeting in Paris
    It is the one country that is able to do so. Greece, Ireland and Portugal are economic basket cases. We have heard more and more about the trouble in Spain, where unemployment is over 20 per cent.
    Italy is tottering — the figures for 2010 show it has debts of 116 per cent of GDP, making the country second only to Greece at around 143 per cent.
    Meanwhile, the recent addition of France to the list of at-risk economies has caused real shock and panic across the Channel. Its banks hold about an eighth of Greek debt, or $57 billion, its stock market has tumbled and credit rating agencies are talking of removing France’s triple A status.
    So, after a summer of increasingly shrill panics around the Mediterranean, the contagion is moving north. Individual bail-outs have been tried, but they obstinately refuse to work. Only an idiot would think they would: they treat only the symptoms of Europe’s economic decline, not its causes.
    If only everybody could be like the Germans, and spend just a mite more than they earn, then all would be well, the markets seem to say.
    Germany lay in ruins in 1945, but it then invested in manufacturing plant, developed first-class education, innovated, raised its productivity and competed on quality not price.
    Over the next 60 years it won the peace as comprehensively as it lost the war.
    The addition of the French economy to the at-risk list has sent tremors through European banks, and across the Channel, while also caused the country's shares to tumble
    The addition of the French economy to the at-risk list has sent tremors through European banks, and across the Channel, while also caused the country's shares to tumble
    If the euro is to survive — and with it the European project — the other 16 Eurozone countries will have to be like the Germans. Indeed, they must lose the freedom not to be like the Germans.

    George Osborne interrupted his holiday in austerity-free Beverly Hills a fortnight ago to make this point by telephone to the European Commission and the ECB.
    That means a complete fiscal union in which Germany, as  the EU’s most powerful economy and principal paymaster, makes the rules and makes them unbreakable.
    It is a high-risk strategy on his part, for if such a plan succeeded it would make Europe effectively a German empire, with non-Eurozone countries such as Britain on the sidelines.

    However, the prospects of Germany’s partners in the Eurozone are starker still.
    Mr Osborne clearly believes we have no choice. His concern is that if the European economy implodes we would be badly damaged: not so much because of the debt owed by countries such as Greece to British banks, but also because of the loss of export markets in the Eurozone countries and investment by them in Britain.
    If the global financial markets continue to have no confidence in the sticking-plaster rescue packages offered by Eurozone leaders, some nations will  go bankrupt — one or two, such as Greece and Ireland, are already more or less trading while insolvent.
    They may hope their salvation, apart from pulling out of the single currency and devaluing, would be to accept Germany properly bolstering the euro and effectively colonising the Eurozone.
    This would entail a loss of sovereignty not seen in those countries since many were under the jackboot of the Third Reich 70 years ago.
    For be in no doubt what fiscal union means: it is one economic policy, one taxation system, one social security system, one debt, one economy, one finance minister. And all of the above would be German.
    That is not merely the price the markets would demand to be confident about the euro’s future, and to be happy to buy debt that could help fund Greece, or Ireland, or Italy. It is also the price that Germans themselves seem to be demanding for their support.
    The markets seem to imply that if everyone followed the German lead and spent a mite more than they earned then all would be well
    The markets seem to imply that if everyone followed the German lead and spent a mite more than they earned then all would be well
    Stern, the German news magazine, conducted a poll last week among Mrs Merkel’s own supporters that showed that 52 per cent were opposed to her bail-out policy, and 62 per cent worried about the course of her party generally.
    She is only two years from having to fight another election and cannot defy democratic gravity for ever.
    Germany has already pumped 120 billion euros into the 440 billion bail-out fund. It is the fifth biggest economy in the world, which would mean that imposing its way of doing  things on the other 16 nations would carry tremendous  clout internationally.
    It also has another reason for needing to shore up its partners: 42 per cent of its exports go to the Eurozone, with France alone taking 90 billion euros’ worth a year.
    Demand for German goods, such as these Volkswagen cars, has slowed in recent months, but German has good reason for shoring up its partners as 42 per cent of exports go to the eurozone
    Demand for German goods, such as these Volkswagen cars, has slowed in recent months, but German has good reason for shoring up its partners as 42 per cent of exports go to the eurozone
    However, the latest figures show that demand for German goods is slowing, as is German growth. Shortly before the extent of the French problem with Greece was made public, Commerzbank — one of Germany’s leading banks — announced that it had to use 93 per cent of its second-quarter profits to write down $1.1 billion of Greek debt.
    If Germany is to continue to prosper, Europe must prosper: but a ruthless solution may have to be imposed in order for that to happen. If the European project is to continue, Germany will not merely have to underwrite it, but control it.
    The recently-agreed European Financial Stability Facility is not the answer. It is just another in a series of sticking-plasters that allows the ECB to buy the bonds of debtor nations to keep them solvent.
    All these sticking-plasters are designed in the belief that the wound will not become yet more gaping: but it always does.
    The alternative is the massive surrender of sovereignty to Germany by the rest of the Eurozone that would allow the economic policy of Greece, Ireland and Portugal to be made in Berlin. 
    The recently-agreed European Financial Stability facility allows the ECB to apply sticking-plasters to some of the debtor nations, but is not the answer to the crisis
    The recently-agreed European Financial Stability facility allows the ECB to apply sticking-plasters to some of the debtor nations, but is not the answer to the crisis
    That would reassure the markets, but it would also remove any pretence of democracy in those 16 countries: for once you have lost control of your economy, you have lost your sovereignty.
    Every spending department in every government in the Eurozone would have its policy made in the old capital of Prussia.
    And if the people did not like their governments being left with fewer powers than a county council, that would be tough. The alternative is ruin.
    Where Hitler failed by military means to conquer Europe, modern Germans are succeeding through trade and financial discipline. Welcome  to the Fourth Reich.

    Read more: http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-2026840/European-debt-summit-Germany-using-financial-crisis-conquer-Europe.html#ixzz1VJ460gk3

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    Euro fiscal union closer

    Trago/Getty Images

    French and German leaders made steps towards establishing an economic government in the eurozone on Tuesday, as the sovereign debt crisis once again claims the mantle as the world’s chief economic fixation.

    The best efforts of Nicolas Sarkozy and Angela Merkel, however, only served to amplify fear and volatility, with the proposals falling short of what was needed to restore some confidence.

    While the plan does acknowledge reforms needed to fix the economic union, the pace of change proposed is far too slow to address the urgent concerns of investors, said Craig Alexander, chief economist at Toronto-Dominion Bank.

    “If Europe is committed to having the euro experiment survive, you’re going to have to have a fiscal union,” he said. “The problem is the political system in Europe can’t cope with the jump from the current system to a fiscal union in one go.”

    Markets clearly favour such a jump, involving the issuance of “euro bonds,” to immediately stabilize weak peripheral economies.

    Instead, the leaders laid out a more gradual groundwork for enhanced economic governance, including deficit limits on member countries, greater economic supervision, as well as a tax on financial transactions. Investors registered their disappointment on New York and Toronto stock markets, which fell by about 1% and 1.2%, respectively.

    While joint euro-region bond sales may come eventually, their introduction now would put the “most stable countries of the euro zone in grave danger,” Mr. Sarkozy said, adding that euro bonds would be contemplated only “at the end of a process of integration, not the beginning.”

    He reiterated the “absolute determination” of Germany and France to defend the euro.

    Since the inception of the eurozone, the currency’s primary vulnerability has resided in the discrepancy between fiscal and monetary policy.

    Economists have always had reservations about the viability of a currency union that lacked fiscal unity. Over the course of the last year and a half, the debt saga has laid bare that inherent weakness.

    It appears as though the union’s big powers now recognize the need to patch that governance hole. But they are consistently criticized for lacking the appropriate urgency as called for by the severity of the crisis.

    “This has been the story of this development for the last two years, that the leaders are somehow behind the markets,” said Stephen Lewis, chief economist at London’s Monument Securities.

    Ms. Merkel, for example, on Tuesday cited the need for possible changes to the European Union treaty in the future as challenges demand.

    “They’re having a few challenges already,” Mr. Lewis said.

    Drastic action, however, may just not be viable.

    While prodded into action by market swings, the region’s leaders are simultaneously restrained by political tensions, mainly within their own electorates.

    German taxpayers, already embittered over having to bankroll seemingly ineffective bailouts for irresponsible borrowers, are stridently opposed to the introduction of euro bonds.

    Letting those countries borrow with backing from Germany and France lets them off the hook, according to the perception, Mr. Alexander said.

    “You create a free-rider problem. You could have a small country that behaves fiscally irresponsibly, but its bonds are backed by Germany and France,” he said.

    Appeasement of taxpayers can also help explain the proposed financial-transaction tax, which, while probably not economically desirable, would at least appear to spread the burden to the financial sector, Mr. Alexander said.

    However, while moving towards fiscal integration too quickly risks taxpayer backlash, moving too gradually risks allowing contagion to get out of hand.

    The moment when a debt crisis becomes a financial crisis occurs when bank flows start to become seriously restricted. Already, European banks are proving reluctant to lend to one another. And the private sector within Europe’s core is certainly in favour of the issuance of euro bonds, Mr. Lewis said.

    “That would provide financing for hard-pressed countries and enable them to continue buying from big business,” he said.

    Additionally, there is yet another layer of political sensitivity which could delay the move towards fiscal governance, Mr. Lewis explained.

    “They have to be very cautious about seeming to dictate how these problems should be solved,” he said. “There is a feeling in some parts of Europe that this Franco-German (leadership) is not fair and not a healthy development from the point of view of the eurozone’s future.”

    Financial Post

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    Stick-On Tattoo Replaces Wires And Cables In Patient Monitoring

    An ultra-thin, stick-on tattoo that incorporates the latest in sensor technology could one day replace the mass of wires and cables that connect patients to machines to monitor heart rate and brain waves. The new "electronic skin" technology, called epidermal electronics system (EES), was developed by an international team of scientists and engineers who write about their work in the 12 August issue of Science.

    The EES is the result of collaboration between the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, Northwestern University, and Tufts University, all in the US, and the Institute of High Performance Computing in Singapore, and the Dalian University of Technology in China.

    Corresponding author of the study, John Rogers, a professor in the Materials Science and Engineering Department at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, describes EES as a "a technology that blurs the distinction between electronics and biology".

    "Our goal was to develop an electronic technology that could integrate with the skin in a way that is mechanically and physiologically invisible to the user," he told the press, adding that the physical properties of the electronic skin match those of human skin.

    In an accompanying Perspective article in the same issue of Science, Zhenqiang (Jack) Ma, a professor in the Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering at the University of Wisconsin, Madison, writes that the "eletronic skin" that Rogers and colleagues have developed will not only allow patient monitoring to be "simpler, more reliable, and uninterrupted", but will also solve many problems with current systems whose complicated wiring and cables are inconvenient and distressing for patients and their doctors.

    Existing technology is already sophisticated and able to monitor a range of physiological variables, such as heart rate, brain wave and muscle activity, but the EES offers a way to do this that is more accessible and convenient, requiring negligible power, and using sensors that are nearly weightless.

    The EES devices contain tiny transmitters and receivers, miniature sensors, light-emitting diodes, and networks of carefully crafted wire filaments.

    The prototypes look like flat, stick-on, delicate lacework tattoos of modern art done in metallic thread, and are about the size of a postage stamp. In fact the electronic tattoo is integrated onto the polyester backing of stick-on tattoos.

    Because they are so thin (less than 50 microns, thinner than a human hair), they don't need glue to stick to the skin, they use close-contact van der Waals forces that act at the molecular level, enabling them to stay in place for hours.

    In their study, the researchers found the devices stayed in place for up to 24 hours, under ideal conditions.
    Also, because they need very little power, the EES devices can take their power either from stray, or transmitted, electromagnetic radiation (via induction), and also partly from miniature solar panels.

    Medical News Today

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    Fact following fiction? Scientists plan mission to blow up an asteroid 'hurtling towards Earth'

    Rescue plan: The European Space Agency is planning mission Don Quijote - to blow up a huge asteroid that could potentially be hurtling towards Earth

    It seemed far-fetched on the silver screen.

    But the European Space Agency is planning to launch a mission similar to the plot of Hollywood movie Armageddon, in which Bruce Willis and his intrepid team attempt to blow up a huge asteroid that’s hurtling towards Earth.

    The real version, if it goes ahead in 2015, will see a satellite fired at break-neck speed into a ‘test’ asteroid to see if its course changes.

    The aim is to assess whether it would be possible to save Earth using this method, should we discover that an asteroid is on a collision course with our planet.

    The mission, called Don Quijote, will involve sending two spacecraft towards a near-Earth asteroid.

    One will be an ‘impactor’, which is fired into the asteroid, the other an orbitor that will analyse data from the experiment.

    One potential target is a 1600ft-wide asteroid called 99942 Apophis, which experts say does have a minute chance - around one in 250,000 - of hitting Earth in 2036, so it would be useful target practice.

    The 500kg impact craft, which will be called Hidalgo, will ram into the asteroid at a speed of around six miles a second.

    The orbitor, called Sancho, will scan the collision and monitor whether the asteroid changes direction at all.

    There will be a lot of fingers crossed in mission control, as a big asteroid impact could wipe out life on Earth.

    Nasa, meanwhile, is planning something even more spectacular.

    It wants to put humans on the surface of an asteroid within 15 years.

    But sending people to one won't be easy. You can't land on an asteroid because you'd bounce off - it has virtually no gravity. Astronauts couldn't even walk on it because they'd float away.

    Reaching it might require a Nasa spacecraft to harpoon the space rock.

    Nasa is thinking about jetpacks, tethers, bungees, nets and spiderwebs to allow explorers to float just above the surface of it while attached to a smaller mini-spaceship.

    Kent Joosten, chief architect of the human exploration team at Johnson Space Center, said: 'This is the big step. This is out into the universe, away from Earth's gravity completely... This is really where you are doing the Star Trek kind of thing.'
    Read more: http://www.dailymail.co.uk/sciencetech/article-2026710/Fact-following-fiction-Scientists-plan-mission-blow-asteroid-hurtling-Earth.html#ixzz1VJ1OeHq3

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    Sarkozy and Merkel push for tighter eurozone governance

    REUTERS - The leaders of France and Germany unveiled wide-reaching plans on Tuesday for closer euro zone integration, including deficit limits and biannual summits, but said joint euro bonds could only be a longer-term option.

    Under heavy pressure to restore confidence in the euro zone following a dramatic market slump, President Nicolas Sarkozy and Chancellor Angela Merkel stopped short of increasing the bloc's rescue fund but vowed to stand side-by-side in defending the euro and laid the groundwork for a future fiscal union.

    Their message was that the focus should be on further economic integration rather than signing bailout cheques, and suggested that straying from euro zone rules and fiscal targets would no longer be tolerated.

    In a further rap to financial market players, whose panic-selling this month wiped some $4 trillion off global stocks and sparked a temporary ban in Europe on short-selling, the two leaders also proposed taxing financial transactions.

    In plans to be sent on Wednesday to European Council President Herman Van Rompuy, the two leaders want a president to be elected to represent the euro zone and twice-yearly meetings of the leaders of the embattled 17-nation bloc.

    U.S. stocks dropped more than 1 percent and the euro slid as the proposals failed to ease worries about a debt crisis markets fear is spreading to the euro zone's core. Traders had hoped for signals that the issuance of common euro bonds, or an increase of the EFSF, were live options.

    "We have exactly the same position on euro bonds," Sarkozy told a joint news conference with Merkel after their talks.

    "Euro bonds can be imagined one day, but at the end of the European integration process, not at the beginning," he said

    The joint proposals were still ambitious, given Germany's past reticence on ideas like institutionalising regular summits of euro zone leaders, and respond to criticism that market confidence in the euro zone has been undermined by a cacophony of differing policymaking voices in recent months.

    In one of the most far-reaching ideas, Sarkozy said the French and German finance ministers had been asked to prepare proposals aimed at having a common corporate tax base and tax rate in France and Germany from 2013. He said the two countries would keep a closer track of each others' economic outlooks.

    Analysts queried the feasibility of a financial transaction tax, which was an unexpected proposal, given opposition from some European countries and the European Central Bank.

    Julian Callow, senior European economist at Barclays Capital, said that while markets needed to see "more flesh on the bones" of the proposals, it was significant that the two leaders had broken into the August holiday period to meet.

    "They are pledging a commitment to economic governance which is a step forward and there is also a commitment to a debt brake, although it remains to be seen whether that will be significantly strong," he said.

    "Each side is surrendering some sovereignty which in the end could pave the way to much closer political union and so prepare the ground for the issue of euro bonds."
    The full details of the written proposals to Van Rompuy will be made public on Wednesday, Sarkozy's office said.

    Euro is a set of rules

    Van Rompuy will evaluate the proposals as he puts together a package on economic coordination for an EU summit in October.

    Sarkozy and Merkel -- under pressure to convince markets the euro zone is sound or risk watching it unravel -- said their first proposal was for "a real economic government" for the euro zone, with a president elected for two-and-a-half years.

    "Germany and France feel absolutely obliged to strengthen the euro as our common currency and further develop it. And it is entirely clear that for this to happen, we need a stronger interplay of financial and economic policy in the euro zone," said Merkel, who went on to a working dinner with Sarkozy.

    Sarkozy said that if adopted, their proposal that euro zone governments should enshrine deficit-limiting rules into their constitutions would be obligatory, not optional.

    "The euro has allowed us a lot of economic progress but the euro is not just a right, it's a set of rules, a duty, a discipline," he said. "Consequently if the rule is to be adopted by the 17, it will not be an optional rule but obligatory."

    France 24


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    US Withdrawal from Iraq to Help Iran Pulverize Israel’

    US Marines in Iraq

    A total American pullout from Iraq will provide a “land bridge” for a Shi’ite Muslim Crescent – headed by Iran and Hizbullah – to “pulverize” Israel. a Hizbullah general says.

    He added, "The Iranian forces could cross Iraq and arrive in Syria in order to participate in a direct war on the Golan front,” World Net Daily’s Joseph Farrah reported.

    The crescent would expose Israel to an axis of Iraq, Iran, Hizbullah, Lebanon, Hamas and Syria, according to retired Hizbullah Brigadier-general Walid Sakariya, who also is a Hizbullah legislator in Lebanon's parliament.

    Hizbullah already has an estimated 60,000 missiles in Lebanon, three times as many the number it possessed before the Second Lebanon War five years ago and in direct violation of UN agreement 1701 that ended the war.

    President Barack Obama has withdrawn most of the American combat troops, but 50,000 remain to help Iraq maintain control over insurgents and terrorists. Iraq and the United States are discussing the possibility of several thousand American soldiers remaining beyond the end of this year, the deadline President Obama has set for removing all U.S. troops from Iraqi soil.

    The president, whose popularity has sunk to new lows
    , is facing strong national resentment against American interference in foreign countries as the economy creeps closer to a new recession and unemployment remains at 9 per cent or even higher.