Do dogs care about fair play?

Dogs appear to experience a range of complex, unpleasant emotions such as jealousy and pride, scientists have discovered.

Until now, this type of behavior had only been shown in humans or chimpanzees, but researchers suspected that other species that live together could be sensitive to fair play — or a lack of one.

“We are learning that dogs, horses, and perhaps many other species are far more emotionally complex than we ever realized,” Paul Morris, a psychologist at the University of Portsmouth who studies animal emotions.

They can suffer simple forms of many emotions we once thought only primates could experience.”

Scientists noted that dogs hate to see their owners being affectionate to other dogs and can suffer if a new baby or partner arrives on the scene.

NSS. Behavioral scientists like this crowd must never have lived with a companion animal.

My ancestors who painted themselves blue and kicked the shit out of intruding Sassenachs knew all this about their four-footed partners centuries ago.

Thanks, K B

Spying on Jews challenges Israel’s secret service

They may falsely say your comrades gave confessions implicating you. They may bug your cell. They may deprive you of sleep, force you to sit in contorted postures for hours, even blindfold and beat you.

Such warnings about Israeli interrogators from the Shin Bet domestic intelligence service are usually sounded among jailed Palestinians. But this time, they appear in a Hebrew-language pamphlet written for Jewish settlers and their sympathizers.

With friction building in the occupied West Bank over the prospect — albeit distant — of a Palestinian state, the Shin Bet is quietly knuckling down on Jews who might turn to violence to try to wreck any future peace accord. Militant settler leaders report increased efforts by the Shin Bet’s Division for Countering State Subversion, also known as the “Jewish Division,” to garner tip-offs about possible plots to kill Arabs or assassinate an Israeli government figure…

According to settlers and Shin Bet veterans, pressure tactics familiar to Palestinians — from bribery to ruses to interrogation methods that civil liberties groups decry as torture — are all available for use against Jewish detainees.

But few dispute that Jews are less likely to receive rough treatment, if only because they enjoy sovereign Israeli rights such as access to a lawyer within 48 hours of detention. By contrast, Palestinians can be more readily kept incommunicado for long periods, as the West Bank is under Israeli martial law.

Something here about chickens coming home to roost seems appropriate.

U.S. military refuses to free Reuters photographer in Iraq – UPDATED

The U.S. military in Iraq is not obliged to obey an Iraqi court order to release a freelance photographer working for Reuters news agency and will hold him into 2009, said a spokesman.

The Iraqi Central Criminal Court ruled on November 30 that there was no evidence against Ibrahim Jassam Mohammed, and ordered the U.S. military to release him from Camp Cropper prison near Baghdad airport, where he has been detained since September.

“Though we appreciate the decision of the Central Criminal Court of Iraq in the Jassam case, their decision does not negate the intelligence information that currently lists him as a threat to Iraq security and stability,” said Major Neal Fisher, spokesman for the U.S. military’s detainee operations in Iraq.

“He will be processed for release in a safe and orderly manner after December 31st, in the order of his individual threat level, along with all other detainees,” Fisher said in an email to Reuters…

In the ruling issued by the Iraqi court at the end of last month, Iraqi prosecutors said they had asked the U.S. military repeatedly for the evidence it had against Jassam but that U.S. forces had failed to provide any material.

Fisher said that the U.S. military was “not bound” to provide military intelligence to Iraqi courts.

Doesn’t it warm the cockles of your heart to witness the process of bringing democracy to the Middle East – as managed by George W, Bush and the U.S. military?

There are over 15,000 people currently imprisoned by the United States – in Iraq. With no right to trial, no public testimony, no right to an attorney – all the crap that provoked our own uprising against British forces in 1775.

UPDATE: Jassam Mohamed finally released from US military jail.

Pilots survive watery crash landing, night on ice floe


Click on image to enlarge

Two men who crash-landed their plane in freezing waters survived 18 hours on a tiny sheet of ice “huddled together like penguins”.

The two – one Australian and the other Swedish – endured temperatures of -20C (-4F) after their Cessna plane ran into trouble over the far north of Canada.

Their survival equipment sank with the plane and rescue aircraft responding to their Mayday call failed to find them.

Australian Oliver Edwards-Neil, 25, and his Swedish flying partner Troels Hansen, 45, had been flying a Cessna Skymaster from the US to Sweden when both its engines failed over the Hudson Strait, just south of the Arctic Circle.

As the cockpit quickly filled with freezing water, they managed to scramble through a window and on to an ice sheet about 5m wide and 10m long before the plane sank, with all their equipment on board.

Mr Edwards-Neil said that their survival suits saved their lives. “But I never thought I could freeze that much. I was shivering non-stop,” he said.

They were found by a fishing boat that had heard their Mayday call and headed to the scene.

Mr Edwards-Neil and Mr Hansen were later transferred by helicopter to a hospital in Iqaluit, Nunavut.

The photo tells the whole tale. A couple of very fortunate guys.

Engelbart’s demo of the mouse – 40 years later

On December 9, 1968, before a packed Brooks Hall auditorium in San Francisco, Douglas Engelbart, the director of Stanford Research Institute’s Augmentation Research Center, took the stage and changed computing forever.

During a 100-minute presentation, Engelbart demonstrated to 1,000 people the work that he and SRI’s chief engineer, Bill English, had been doing, work that is still recognizable in the way that everyone uses computers today.

It’s possible, some have said, that there never had been, nor never would be, another presentation that unveiled as many new paradigm-shifting technologies. They included the world’s first publicly seen mouse, as well as the introduction of hyperlinks and navigable windows. The presentation drew a standing ovation.

And it moved John Markoff, reporter at The New York Times…to write: “There were two things that particularly dazzled the audience on that rainy Monday morning.”

First, computing had made the leap from number crunching to become a communications and information-retrieval tool. Second, the machine was being used interactively with all its resources appearing to be devoted to a single individual. It was the first time that truly personal computing had been seen.

Worth remembering.

Historians refute cover-up of message signaling Pearl Harbor


USS Arizona afire and sinking after the attack on Pearl Harbor
Daylife/AFP/Getty Images

It has remained one of World War II’s most enduring mysteries, one that resonated decades later in the aftermath of the terrorist attacks of Sept. 11, 2001: Who in Washington knew what and when before the Japanese attacked Pearl Harbor on Dec. 7, 1941?

Specifically, who heard or saw a transcript of a Tokyo shortwave radio news broadcast that was interrupted by a prearranged coded weather report? The weather bulletin signaled Japanese diplomats around the world to destroy confidential documents and codes because war with the United States, the Soviet Union or Britain was beginning.

In testimony for government inquiries, witnesses said that the “winds execute” message was intercepted as early as Dec. 4, three days before the attack.

But after analyzing U.S. and foreign intelligence sources and decrypted cables, historians for the National Security Agency concluded in a historical documentary released last week that whatever other warnings reached Washington about the attack, the “winds execute” message was not one of them.

“East wind rain” would mean the United States; “north wind cloudy,” the Soviet Union; and “west wind clear,” Britain.

In the history “West Wind Clear,” published by the Center for Cryptologic History at the National Security Agency, Robert Hanyok and David Mowry attribute accounts of the message being broadcast to the flawed or fabricated memory of some witnesses, perhaps to deflect culpability from other officials for the United States’ insufficient readiness for war.

Long, thorough, well-written piece of history. I’ve a number of documentaries repeating this false bit of information. Nice to see some accurate research forthcoming.

How long before the remaining lies about the VieNam War – and, of course, Bush’s Iraq Adventure – are all exposed to the eyes of the world?

Survivors of Florida reform school want probe of unmarked graves

Former residents of the Florida School for Boys recounted painful memories while pushing the state to investigate the unmarked graves at the school and identify the bodies.

Convinced the 32 unmarked graves at the Florida School for Boys in Marianna are the bodies of boys abused and killed there decades ago, four former residents of the school are demanding the governor and state and federal attorneys investigate.

Standing on the steps of the U.S. Courthouse on Monday, the men recounted painful memories of their classmates who disappeared decades ago after brutal beatings or torture at the school for delinquent boys. They asked Gov. Charlie Crist and U.S. Attorney General Michael Mukasey to identify the remains to bring the families peace.

The graves were on what officials once called ”the colored side” of the school. The men now believe they remain unmarked ”to hide the nature of those children’s deaths,” said Michael O’McCarthy, 66, who resided at the school in 1958-59.

”Given the institution’s meticulous records . . . there is no practical reason that the identity of the children buried there was not recorded,” he said…

The men learned of the graves six weeks ago when the Department of Juvenile Justice invited five of the men back to the school to dedicate a plaque outside the white cinder-block building — the so-called White House. The ceremony was held to mark an end to a dark and brutal chapter of Florida’s history.

I wish I could say crap like this was restricted to Florida and the Deep South; but, I knew others when I was a boy in New England who told similar tales of what went on the state reformatories. Some of the creeps who populated the ranks of guards and goons a half-century ago woud have qualified as inquisitors in medieval times.

“Skeptics” live in a cesspit of climate change gibberish

We all create our own reality, and shut out the voices we do not want to hear. But there is no issue we are less willing to entertain than man-made climate change.

The most popular article on the Guardian’s website last week was the report showing that 2008 is likely to be the coolest year since 2000. As the Met Office predicted, global temperatures have been held down by the La Niña event in the Pacific Ocean. This news prompted a race on the Guardian’s comment thread to reach the outer limits of idiocy. Of the 440 responses posted by lunchtime yesterday, about 80% insisted that manmade climate change is a hoax.

And so on, and on and on. The new figures have prompted similar observations all over the web. Until now, the “sceptics” have assured us that you can’t believe the temperature readings at all; that the scientists at the Met Office, who produced the latest figures, are all liars; and that even if it were true that temperatures have risen, it doesn’t mean anything. Now the temperature record – though only for 2008 – can suddenly be trusted, and the widest possible inferences be drawn from the latest figures, though not, of course, from the records of the preceding century. This is madness.

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Three dead as military jet crashes into San Diego neighborhood


Daylife/Reuters Pictures

Three people were killed when a Marine Corps fighter-bomber crashed on a residential street, sparking fires that destroyed two homes and sent thick black smoke billowing through the neighborhood, prompting evacuations due to concerns about possibly toxic fumes.

The pilot, who had been trying to land the ailing plane at nearby Marine Corps Air Station Miramar, ejected safely moments before the crash, escaping with minor injuries.

Maurice Luque, a spokesman for the San Diego Fire-Rescue Department, said that three people on the ground were killed in a home… Authorities are still trying to confirm their identities, Luque said.

The jet hit the pavement just short of Rose Canyon open space and Interstate 805, he said. The impact sent debris flying between two houses, setting three of them on fire. Two houses were destroyed by the flames and three more damaged.

He was trying to get to the canyon,” witness Dennia Connor said. “He held on as long as could. At the last second, the pilot parachuted out.”

He tried his best. That’s all you can do.

Thanks, K B