Virgin's Branson presents new space ship NEW YORK (AFP) — Tycoon Richard Branson unveiled his newest spaceship and said that test flights for the vessel would begin this year. Branson, who has ambitious plans to begin carrying tourists on short flights into space by 2010, revealed models and photographs of the newest version of SpaceShipTwo and also the twin-fuselage WhiteKnightTwo which will ferry SpaceShipTwo into the atmosphere for a midair launch. Construction of the two should be completed by this year. "2008 is really going to be the year of the spaceship," Branson, president of the Virgin Atlantic airline and a key backer of the private space flight effort, told a press conference Wednesday. "The designs of both the mothership and the new spaceship are absolutely beautiful and surpass any expectations for the future of commercial spaceflight that we had when first registering the name Virgin Galactic in 1999," he said. The two vessels are being built by Scaled Composites, an aircraft builder in Mojave, California, with plans to provide paying customers flights into suborbital space some (70 miles above the earth. Branson said more than 200 passengers have confirmed their plans for the flight, which will cost 200,000 dollars each, and that some 85,000 have expressed interest.
Suicide bomber falls down stairs ... From correspondents in Khost, Afghanistan January 24, 2008 12:39pm A WOULD-be suicide bomber fell down a flight of stairs and blew himself up as he headed out for an attack in Afghanistan, police say. It was the second such incident in two days, with another man killing himself and three others on Tuesday when his bomb-filled waistcoat exploded as he was putting it on in the southern town of Lashkar Gah. Yesterday's blast was in a busy market area of the eastern town of Khost, a deputy provincial police chief said. The would-be attacker tripped as he was leaving a building apparently to target an opening ceremony for a mosque that was expected to be attended by Afghan and international military officials, said Sakhi Mir. "Coming down the stairs, he fell down and exploded. Two civilian women and a man were wounded,'' Mir said. Suicide attacks are regular feature of an insurgency led by the extremist Taliban movement that was in government between 1996 and 2001. The most deadly was in November 2007 and killed nearly 80 people, most of them school students.
Nine D.C. Employees To Be Fired Over Porn At Work Thirty-Two More Employees Face Disciplinary Actions POSTED: 3:30 pm EST January 23, 2008 WASHINGTON -- Nine employees from a total of four District agencies will be fired after an investigation found that pornography Web sites were accessed from their work computers, News4 's Tom Sherwood reported. Investigators said each employee had at least 20,000 hits on pornographic Web sites during the 2007 calendar year, Sherwood reported. One employee had more than 48,000 hits. Thirty-two other employees from a dozen other agencies face a variety of disciplinary actions, including two-week suspensions, after their computers were found to have at least 2,000 porn Web site hits. D.C. Mayor Adrian Fenty announced the results of the internal investigation led by the Office of the Chief Technology Officer on Wednesday. He said steps will be taken to discourage such actions. There are about 50,000 employees who report to the Mayor's Office. Acting D.C. Attorney General Peter Nickles said there was no evidence of any child pornography in this investigation. Agencies involved include the Mayor's Office, the D.C. Council, Police, Public Works, Parks and Recreation as well as the Technology Office, which handled the investigation. News4 and nbc4.com
I'D RATHER BE FAT AND RICH $HOCKING POLL OF GALS January 21, 2008 -- If American women could choose between having Jennifer Aniston's bikini body or a million dollars, three out of four would take the money and run. That's one of the eye-opening findings of an online poll by Woman's Day magazine and AOL Body that asked 6,905 women questions about their body-image and health-care concerns. Fifty-seven percent said they considered themselves overweight, 30 percent admitted feeling "uncomfortable and ashamed" about their bodies, and 37 percent said their fondest wish was "to be thinner." But gaining a fat bank account trumps all of those weighty feelings, according to the magazine's Feb. 12 issue, which hits newsstands tomorrow. It asked its readers: "If you could choose, would you rather have Jennifer Aniston's physique or be a millionaire?" "I'd rather have the money," declared 78 percent of the respondents, while the other 22 percent said they'd like to "look like Jennifer." Page 1 of 2
Page 2 of 2 And that go-for-the-dough approach makes perfect sense to Jane Chestnutt, Woman's Day editor in chief, who noted that these savvy women "want to have their cake and eat it, too." "They're probably thinking, 'I'll take the million dollars, I'll use part of it to pay a trainer to get me into shape, and I'll have some money left over,' " she said. AOL Body health editor Tanya Mancini, meanwhile, believes they selected Aniston because the toned actress "is in great shape [but is] not someone who looks like they starve themselves." Even though many respondents said they were pumped up about getting into shape, just 8 percent said they exercised regularly. "Overall, I think it shows women know they're overweight but are not ready to deal with it," Mancini said. "There are a lot of mental issues to do with weight loss as opposed to just physical." On a lighter note, the survey also examined which TV doctors set hearts aflutter. Asked which faux physician "would you most like to visit," 31 percent voted for Patrick Dempsey, Dr. McDreamy of "Grey's Anatomy." Interestingly, 28 percent said they wanted Hugh Laurie, the British-born star of "House," to make a house call.
Soldier 'handcuffed, assaulted with vibrator' January 21, 2008 03:32pm A SOLDIER thought he was in for a night of sexual adventure when he let a woman handcuff him but instead she assaulted him because she thought he had wronged her, a Perth court has been told. Nicola Clunies-Ross went on trial in the West Australian District Court today accused of luring her Darwin-based soldier lover to her Perth home on October 28, 2006. She has pleaded not guilty to assault occasioning bodily harm, aggravated sexual penetration without consent and deprivation of liberty. Prosecutor Amanda Burrows told the jury today that Ms Clunies-Ross believed her 19-year-old lover had wronged her and was lying about an ex-girlfriend and may have had hepatitis C. Ms Clunies-Ross lured him to her flat, told him she had a surprise for him, ordered him to strip and handcuffed him to a chair. "He consented to being constrained at that point in time. He thought he was in for a night of sexual adventure," Ms Burrows said. But instead, a champagne-sipping Ms Clunies-Ross smiled at the man and told him "I am going to destroy you", Ms Burrows said. Then her longer-term boyfriend Peter Gurdulic, also a 19-year-old Darwin-based soldier, arrived with a big vibrator which she used on her victim in a one-hour ordeal. Page 1 of 2
Page 2 of 2 The court was told the long-term boyfriend took photos and short videos of the attack and threatened to publish them on an army computer hard drive, accessible to all soldiers, if the victim did not do what he was told. Ms Burrows said the man fled in a taxi after being released. He reported the assault to police in Darwin after seeking advice from a senior officer. In pre-recorded evidence, made before he deployed to Iraq, the victim said Clunies-Ross smiled during his ordeal, during which Gurdulic brandished a large knife and the pair hit him across his kidneys. "I yelled quite loud but being gagged it wouldn't come out," he said. In a police interview Clunies-Ross denied the attack was a form of payback and admitted holding the vibrator near his anus. Clunies-Ross' lawyer Jeremy Scudds said she denied actually penetrating her restrained lover. Mr Scudds said she was scared of Gurdulic but had no idea what would happen when the unstable man arrived at her flat, angry that his fellow soldier had "whiteanted" him and then made a move on Clunies-Ross. "He was the type of man who was domineering and controlling," he said. Gurdulic was found dead in unsuspicious circumstances at Leeuwin Barracks in November 2006 after being charged over the alleged attack. The trial, set down for four days, continues.
Boutiques replace brothels in red-light area of Amsterdam Amsterdam, Reuters Published: 21 January 2008 Skimpy skirts and revealing tops are making way for designer gowns and luxury handbags in Amsterdam's red-light district as the area tries to ditch its seedy image. Fifteen young Dutch designers opened stores in former brothels this weekend, displaying their creations in the tall windows where prostitutes recently sat touting for business. "It is time for a change here," said Lodewijk Asscher, the deputy mayor of Amsterdam, at the launch of the city-backed fashion push. " Amsterdammers ought to able to feel proud of this area." sex shops, peep shows and brothels – is as big an attraction as art museums and coffee shops where marijuana is smoked. "They'd lose so much money if they shut it down," said Max, 25, an English tourist, who admitted the drugs and women had attracted him to Amsterdam. The city's new policy is part of a wider trend in the Netherlands of tightening the laws that sanction coffee shops and prostitution. Under current plans as many as a third of all the sex windows and brothels could close.
Hummer has now given us a look at the HX concept ahead of its unveiling at January's 2008 North American International Auto Show.
World’s Biggest Building Coming to Moscow Crystal Island, the world’s biggest building, is set to be built in Moscow within five years. The plans are for a 27 million square foot interior! The cost? Four billlion dollars. The statistics for the project are absolutely staggering; floor area alone will be four times the size of Pentagon in Washington DC. The incredible 1500 ft. tall multi use structure will feature 900 apartments, 3000 hotel rooms, an international school for 500 students, cinemas, a theater, sports complex and much more. There will also be a 16,500 space underground parking lot for all the visitors. The Crystal Island visitors will be able to enjoy panoramic views of Moscow on the viewing platforms located 980 ft. above ground.
Huang Chuncai poses before his second operation to remove his tumours, which currently weigh around 10kg (22lbs), at a hospital in Guangzhou, southern China's Guangdong province, January 3, 2008. Huang, a 32-year-old native from a remote village in China's southern province of Hunan, says he is relieved after a part of his facial tumours, which originally weighed about 23kg (50.7 lbs), was removed last year. His second operation will remove another part of the tumours, which weighs 4.5kg (9.9lbs). Huang suffers from Neurofibromatosis, which is a genetic disorder of the nervous system that primarily affects the development and growth of nerve tissues. Picture taken January 3, 2008.
This is a photo of the Global Hawk UAV that returned from the war zone recently under its own power. ( Iraq to Edwards AFB in CA) - Not transported via C5 or C17..... Notice the mission paintings on the fuselage. It's actually over 250 missions.... (and I would suppose 25 air medals). No blackouts, no fatigue, no relief tubes, no ejection seats, and best of all, no dead pilots, no POWs? Pretty cool!
As a young boy, Reynold Marion was fascinated with submarines. When he was 11 years old, he built a fully-submersible river raft made from 55-gallon drums! It worked - once. Now, Reynold had made his dream a reality: he built a boat/submarine hybrid submersible powerboat (called the Marion Hyper-Sub). This one’s a prototype named The Fathom: Link | Video [YouTube] -
Thunderbolt's jetpack: Just $100,000 for 75 seconds of flight A company called Thunderbolt Aerosystems announced this week the release of the Thunderpack, which "represents more than a decade's worth of effort to apply modern rocket fuels and propulsion technologies to create a practical and economical personal air vehicle." It'll fly you around for a total of 75 seconds. That's certainly an improvement over a jetpack at the Wirefly X Prize Cup in 2006 that could stay aloft for a mere 30 seconds. Thunderbolt, which was founded by San Francisco Bay Area entrepreneur Carmelo Amarena as a strategy for dealing with a stressful commute, hopes that technological improvements within a year will enable up to 35 minutes of flight. The machine can run on either "specially promoted" hydrogen peroxide in a dual-fuel mode (available starting in August) or standard high test peroxide (available in May). A dual-fuel capable jetpack has a longer flight time (the full 75 seconds, as opposed to 45 seconds) and can go faster (75mph compared with 65mph), giving it the ability to go twice as far on one tank--but that's still only about 3,600 feet. With further development, though, Thunderbolt hopes that its jetpacks will ultimately be used for a "host of defense, commercial, and personal purposes, including support of military missions, disaster relief efforts, border patrol assignments, and even overcoming those snail-paced commutes." That's good, seeing as most of us live farther than 3,600 feet from our offices. The market price for the dual-fuel Thunderpack is expected to be in the $100,000 range, with the high test peroxide model selling for $90,000.
Nut and Bolt Wedding Ring Kiley Granberg, an artist and student at the Alberta College of Art and Design, sent us one of her creations: a nut and bolt wedding ring, perfect for the gearhead, or lug nut, that you love!
Jailer Gave Lip Service To Inmate Cops: Female guard performed New Year's Eve sex act in cell JANUARY 23--A 20-year-old female corrections officer is facing sex assault charges for allegedly performing oral sex on a male inmate on New Year's Eve in an Oklahoma jail. Billie Pelley told investigators that she entered inmate Bobby Mann's cell and began kissing the 37-year-old inmate "for a while." She then advanced to servicing Mann, but "stopped after thinking about what she was doing," according to a probable cause affidavit filed earlier this month in Okfuskee County District Court. By then, however, Pelley's encounter with Mann had already been recorded by a surveillance camera.
Miss Mug Shot Florida Is it wrong to say we look forward to her next arrest? JANUARY 15--We've all seen those mug shot arrays showing the sad progression of an arrestee caught in the throes of drug abuse. Well, here's the flip side. The Florida woman seen in the photos below has had her mug shot snapped five times over the past 14 months (drunk driving, pot possession, probation violation, etc.) and each picture is suitable for framing. The frequent arrestee is 20 and has alternately listed her occupation as "bartender" and "dancer" when busted. And based on police ID photos of her ink, she appears to be a tattoo enthusiast.
Testicles face snip A controversial Virginia lawmaker is trying to introduce new legislation to ban rubber testicles from being fitted to the back of trucks. Lionel Spruill, known for his failed attempt in 2005 to ban baggy pants, says the motivation for his latest idea came from a constituent. The man complained that he had been left speechless when his six-year-old daughter spotted a pair and asked him what they were. Mr Spruill agreed to act: "I said, 'Sir, I'm going to be the laughing stock, but I'm going to do it'," he told the Virginian-Pilot. Truck drivers who sport fake testicles on the back of their vehicles would risk a $250 fine under his proposal. "They're offensive to some folks," said Mr Spruill, a Chesapeake Democrat. "It's OK to express yourself, but citizens have the right not to be subjected to something vulgar." Spruill said he became concerned when he learned that the truck accessories had got larger as their popularity had increased. "How big are they going to go?" he said. "When will it stop?" But John Saller, owner of bullsballs.com, laughed off Mr Spruill's campaign. He said he sold several hundred thousand last year, ranging in size from two-and-a-half to 10 inches. "It's a novelty. It's funny. It doesn't have anything to do with being macho," he insisted.
F-16 Fighting Falcon Over its career, the F-16 Fighting Falcon–or Viper, as it is more commonly known—has been continuously updated. Nowhere are those changes more evident than in the cockpits of the latest generation of F-16s, the Block 50/52+, and particularly the Block 60 version shown here. The latest F-16 cockpits feature color multifunction displays and lighting compatible with night vision systems. Onboard computers process information from sensors and off-aircraft sources and present information to the pilot with straightforward graphics. Still, the cockpit retains many features that made the F-16 revolutionary from the beginning, including a frameless bubble canopy, hands-on throttle and sidestick switch controls, a thirty-degree seatback angle for increased g tolerance, and a head-up display. Manufacturer: Lockheed Martin Type: Fighter (Multirole) Number Built: 80 on order (More than 4,300 F-16s have been produced worldwide.) First Flight: 6 December 2003 In Service: 2005 – Present (F-16E/F)
F-117 Nighthawk The F-117 is the world's first operational stealth aircraft. Through a combination of faceted surfaces, advanced materials, and other technologies, the Nighthawk is virtually undetectable to radar. With precision weapons, the F-117 can destroy heavily defended, high-value targets with impunity. Essentially designed by electrical engineers, the F-117 is inherently unstable and stays airborne through a sophisticated flight control system. The original cockpit design used many off-the-shelf components, such as F/A-18 displays. A complete set of standby flight instruments is included as a backup. Plastic glareshield extensions are used to minimize instrument reflections on the flat canopy side panes. Manufacturer: Lockheed Type: Attack Number Built: 64 (59 operational) First Flight: 18 June 1981 (F-117A) In Service: 1983 – Present
F-22 Raptor The F-22 is quite simply the most sophisticated fighter built. By every measure, the Raptor, represents breakthroughs in maneuverability, stealth, and sensor fusion. The aircraft's design is a balance of increased speed and range, enhanced offensive and defensive avionics, and greatly reduced observability. The F-22 will provide air dominance for the US and its allies for the next forty years. This cockpit is the first true glass cockpit with no standby mechanical gauges and only minimal dedicated controls on the console panels. Superior external visibility is provided by a canopy that is the largest piece of formed polycarbonate ever made. Manufacturer: Lockheed Martin Type: Fighter (Air Dominance) Number Built: 85 (as of January 2007); 381 currently planned First Flight: 29 September 1990 (YF-22); 7 September 1997 (F-22A) In Service: 2005 – Present
F-35 Lightning II Fifth-Generation Fighter The F-35 Lightning II is a multinational, multiservice, single-pilot fighter designed with first-day-of-the-war, precision all-weather strike capability. This highly survivable fighter will be built in three variants – conventional takeoff and landing, short takeoff/ vertical landing, and carrier-based. Overall, the F-35 cockpit is a generation beyond preceding aircraft, as large liquid crystal touch-screen displays feature color-coded symbology, pictographs, and digital information. Also, the head-up display has been replaced by a helmet-mounted display as the primary flight reference. The complexity of missions, sensors used, and weapons employed make this fifth-generation cockpit necessary. Advanced technology makes it possible. Manufacturer: Lockheed Martin/Northrop Grumman/BAE Systems Type: Fighter (Multirole) Number Built: 1 (as of January 2007) 2,581 currently planned First Flight: 24 October 2000 (X-35A); 16 December 2006 (F-35A ) In Service: Service entry expected in 2012