U.S. to build new castle/fortress/embassy in London

You get the idea

The United States has announced plans to leave its landmark embassy in central London’s tony Mayfair district and build a safer facility in a far less fashionable suburb south of the River Thames.

The move, which will end a 200-year U.S. association with London’s Grosvenor Square, is part of American efforts to secure diplomatic staff in compounds — a push that began in earnest after deadly al-Qaida bombings at two U.S. embassies in East Africa a decade ago.

Over the last decade, U.S. diplomatic outposts have been transformed from showcases for American openness to heavily defended fortresses. Around the world from Athens to Abidjan, embassies built in a spirit of with colonial elegance or postwar openness have been transformed with fences, blast walls and other barriers against attack.

“This has been a long and careful process,” Tuttle said. “We looked at all our options, including renovation of our current building on Grosvenor Square. In the end, we realized that the goal of a modern, secure and environmentally sustainable embassy could best be met by constructing a new facility.”

It’s fracking hilarious that these creeps feel it necessary to include “Green” goals into the equation for construction of a political Maginot Line.

The United States has been selling embassies and other diplomatic buildings around the world as it consolidates diplomatic staff into more secure and modern compounds, often away from city centers…

The move will bring a stark change in surroundings for the embassy’s 800 staff. The current building is a stone’s throw from designer boutiques and expensive restaurants. The future site sits near railway lines, public housing projects, a fruit-and-vegetable market and derelict Battersea Power station — although on the up side, Tuttle said the embassy would have a river view.

They’re going to allow windows?

And he reassured Britain — “our best friend and ally in the world” — that the new embassy would be just as close to Parliament and other government buildings as the old site…

Of course. You wouldn’t want to make it too difficult for the governors of the 51st state to report to headquarters.

Microsoft will build 3 R&D centers to catch Google’s search. Wha?

Microsoft Corp is opening three research centers in Europe as it steps up efforts to catch market leader Google in the field of Internet searching.

Microsoft, which failed several times to acquire search company Yahoo! Inc, said the new European search technology center would have hubs in Paris, London and Munich. It added its budget for research and development in Europe, which currently stands at $600 million a year, would increase.

We are the challenger, not the leader, in search, but we believe strongly that search is in its infancy and there is so much room for innovation,” Chief Executive Steve Ballmer told a news conference in Paris.

Ballmer declined to say how much the group would invest in these research centers, but said that “over the next few years we expect to employ several hundred people, software developers, in these centers in Europe.”

I realize Microsoft has money to burn; but, this is beyond absurd.

They’re competing after all with software. Google’s hardware advantages are well-known and easy enough to duplicate. You spend your money on adequate easily-replaceable components. Devote your innovation and design to the software.

Top-quality software design is not a question solved by throwing buildings full of software engineers at it. It’s not a question of quantity; but, quality.

Who has Microsoft been hiring all these years? They have tens of thousands of software jocks on the payroll. Are they all just taking up space?

Pininfarina B0 electric car: 153 mile range, 80mph top speed!

Unveiled, today, at the Paris Auto Show – the B-Zero is not a concept. This car will be in production shipping in 2009.

Bolloré and Pininfarina have entered into a partnership featuring all the expertise required to launch serial production of an electric car.

This car will not be a prototype. It will be a mass production model, with the first units coming off the production line at the end of 2009, after which production will be ramped up gradually based on the availability of the batteries. Built in Turin by Pininfarina-Bolloré, a joint venture formed by the two family-owned groups, the B0 electric car will be powered by Bolloré’s proprietary LMP technology, using a combination of batteries and supercapacitors manufactured in Bolloré’s plants in Quimper, France and Montreal, Canada.

The B0 will be a fully-electric vehicle without any carbon dioxide production, having been designed from the ground up with that aim in mind. Its batteries will be housed in a compartment specially designed for that purpose and located under the car, between its axles, lowering its centre of gravity and providing it with outstanding road-holding properties.

With its superb body styled by Pininfarina, Italy’s renowned vehicle design shop, the B0 electric car will be an elegant four-seater, four-door hatchback with an automatic gearbox. Its LMP battery, which will be rechargeable in a matter of hours from a standard domestic main socket, will provide it with a range of 250 km (153 miles). The B0 will have a top speed that is electronically limited to 130 km/h (80 mph) and will feature potent acceleration, reaching 60 km/h from a standing start (0 to 37 mph) in 6.3 seconds. The B0 will also feature solar panels on its roof and hood, so as to help recharge its electrical power reserves.

No hint at list price. You can download a .pdf of their brochure here.

Landmark assisted suicide case challenges British prosecutors

A woman who has multiple sclerosis has launched a landmark legal bid to ensure her husband is not prosecuted for helping her travel abroad to end her life.

Debbie Purdy, 45, who has primary progressive multiple sclerosis, is asking the director of public prosecutions (DPP) to clarify the law in England and Wales. Anyone who helps facilitate suicide faces up to 14 years in prison, although prosecutors have been reluctant to press for the maximum penalty.

Purdy who wants to have the option of travelling to a specialist euthanasia clinic in Switzerland, is worried that her husband, Omar Puente, could be prosecuted if he helps her. She wants clarity on where the DPP would draw the line and decide to prosecute someone who had helped a loved one go abroad to die.

If her husband was liable for prosecution Purdy has said she would have to travel alone to the clinic run by the Swiss organisation Dignitas, and would have to consider going while she was still healthy enough. Purdy, from Bradford, can no longer walk and is gradually losing strength in her upper body.

Perish the thought that any of our bastions of individual freedom in the Western World should be forced to issue an opinion supporting individual rights.

Preparing to die shouldn’t include wasting time fighting the “morality” of some superstitious git.

Fatwa declared on Pakistan’s President for flirting with Sarah Palin

Reuters Photos/Daylife

Zardari’s greeting to the Alaskan governor at their meeting at the UN headquarters in New York – described as “overly-friendly” by the Christian Science Monitor – has earned him a fatwa from some of Pakistan’s radical Muslims.

Benazir Bhutto’s widower tells Alaska’s first woman that she is “even more gorgeous in life” and says he can see why “America is crazy about you”. But what really got radical clerics backs up was his comment that he might hug the Moose-hunting governor if his aide insists hard enough.

For Palin, the incident appears to have confirmed jokes that her meet-and-greet sessions with world leaders at the UN were “speed dating” diplomacy.

But Zardari faces much harsher condemnation for his conduct. His remarks managed to unite both hardline Islamic leaders and Pakistani feminists in condemnation.

One radical Muslim prayer leader said the president shamed the nation with his “indecent gestures, filthy remarks, and repeated praise of a non-Muslim lady wearing a short skirt.” Meanwhile, Tahira Abdullah, a member of Pakistan’s Women’s Action Forum, criticised the president for failing to show decorum and behave like a “mourning widower”.

Har! You can’t make this shit up.

Which slide is better – head-first or feet-first?

Daylife/Reuters Pictures

Base running and base stealing would appear to be arts driven solely by a runner’s speed, but there’s more than mere gristle, bone and lung power to this facet of baseball — lots of mathematics and physics are at play…

“There’s momentum — mass of the body times how fast the player is moving,” he says. “There’s angular momentum (mass movement of inertia times the rotational rate). If it’s feet-first and you’re starting to slide, your feet are going out from you and you’re rotating clockwise; if it’s head-first, as your hands go down, you’re rotating counterclockwise.”

“On top of this is Newton’s Law,” Peters explains. “Force is mass times acceleration. Then moments of inertia times your angular acceleration.”

So, who gets there faster?

“It turns out your center of gravity is where the momentum is,” Peters says. “This is found half way from the tips of your fingers to the tips of your toes. In the headfirst slide, the center of gravity is lower than halfway between your feet and hands, so your feet don’t get there as fast. It’s faster head-first.”

What does Molly Wood have to say about all this?

Nintendo shows new DSi handheld

Daylife/AP Photo by Katsumi Kasahara

Japanese games giant Nintendo is launching a new-look version of its popular DS handheld games console.

The console, called the Nintendo DSi, can be used to take photos, download games and play music. The DSi will go on sale in Japan on Nov 1, and will be available to European and American gamers in spring 2009.

The DSi has two 0.3-megapixel cameras, and a slightly larger screen than its predecessor, along with a thinner form factor. It will feature a memory card slot, so that gamers can play music saved on a SD card through the device. However, Nintendo has removed the GameBoy Advance cartridge slot on the DSi that made previous versions of the DS backwards-compatible with GameBoy games.

Nintendo said it had sold more than 77.5 million DS consoles worldwide since the device first went on sale in 2004. The DSi will cost YEN18,900 (under $180 this week) when it goes on sale.

Nintendo’s decision to release an updated version of the DS is seen in part as a response to the threat posed by Apple, whose iPhone and iPod touch music players feature motion-sensing technology and can also be used to play computer games on the go.The machine has been a big hit with people of all ages and backgrounds, Iwata said, adding that 54 percent of Nintendo DS users were women.

If I still was a road warrior, I guess I would consider getting something like this. To my mind, Nintendo does the best job around of hitting the right price points with the right amount of tech.

With the upgrades in the DSi – and newest features in the iPhone and iPod Touch – looks like competition between Nintendo and Apple is ready to get down and dirty.

Ontario to pay for false convictions

Bill Mullins-Johnson, free after 12 years

The Ontario government said it would compensate victims after a judicial inquiry concluded that poor oversight of an inadequately trained Canadian pathologist led to the wrongful convictions of several people accused of killing small children.

Justice Stephen Goudge has made public his report on the work of Dr. Charles Smith, whose expert testimony led to an undetermined number of wrongful convictions.

Smith’s testimony played a key role in the conviction of a man who spent 12 years in jail for sexually assaulting and strangling his 4-year-old niece. Evidence later surfaced that showed the girl died of natural causes, and William Mullins-Johnson was exonerated last year.

Goudge concludes Smith as well as Ontario’s former chief coroner James Young and his deputy, Jim Cairns, played a critical role in the wrongful convictions. Goudge urged the Ontario government to compensate victims and Ontario Attorney General Chris Bentley later said he would.

“To those who have suffered an injustice we are truly sorry,” Bentley said. “We are committed to compensating.”

Bentley said they would review every case involving Smith from 1981 to 2002.

Too often, positions like coroner and staff are sinecures based on political association. Qualification is determined by who you know and play golf with – rather than investigative talent and ability.

This result is neither unique nor confined to a parochial division of one Canadian province.

Horny Goat Weed – Nature’s own Viagra

Move over, Viagra! Researchers in Italy report that an ancient Chinese herbal remedy known as “horny goat weed” shows potential in lab studies as source for new future drugs to treat erectile dysfunction (ED). The study, which provides scientific evidence supporting the herb’s well-known use as a natural aphrodisiac.

In the new study, Mario Dell’Agli and colleagues point out that Viagra (sildenafil) and several other prescription drugs are now available for ED, or male impotence….Studies show, however, that these drugs may cause side effects such as headache, facial flushing, stomach upset, and visual disturbances.

To find better treatments, the scientists studied herbal extracts reputed to improve sexual performance. Scientists exposed the substances to an enzyme that controls blood flow to the penis and whose inhibition results in an erection.

Of the extracts tested, “horny goat weed” was the most potent inhibitor of the enzyme. By chemical modification of icariin, the active ingredient purified from the extract, the scientists obtained a derivative with activity similar to Viagra and a potential for fewer side effects because it targeted the protein more precisely than sildenafil.

Those crafty ancient Chinese persons.