Archive for the ‘Research Topics’ Category

Pentagon report: China extending military reach, Source: CNN

posted by khood4208
Tuesday, August 17, 2010

Pentagon report: China extending military reach

By Adam Levine, CNN
August 16, 2010 5:40 p.m. EDT

Washington (CNN) — The Chinese military continues to expand its reach and capabilities beyond its immediate geographical area, a new report from the U.S. Department of Defense concludes.

The report, an annual assessment sent to Congress, notes that some of those capabilities have been positive, like humanitarian and anti-piracy efforts, but others are meant to give China “extended-range power projection.”

While China’s continued effort to be able to sustain military operations far from its shore are concerning to the U.S. military, “China’s ability to sustain military power at a distance, today, remains limited,” the report says.

As in the past, the U.S. program to sell military equipment to Taiwan continues to create tension with China and has led to cessation at times of military relations between the two countries.

The assessment notes that China has the most active ballistic and cruise missile program in the world, including developing anti-missile technology. Also of concern are Chinese efforts to develop a long-range anti-ship ballistic missile with a reach of more than 900 miles, which would include areas in which the U.S. Navy is active. Such a measure would give the Chinese military “the capability to attack ships, including aircraft carriers, in the Western Pacific Ocean,” according to the report.

The Chinese could start building their first aircraft carrier this year, and China has started to train pilots to operate off such carriers. It already has a Russian carrier that it is refurbishing.

Its naval muscle is also being flexed with additional nuclear powered submarines, and it has nearly completed a navy base on Hainan Island, “with direct access to vital international sea lanes,” which will allow for “stealthy deployment of submarines,” the report says.

This article is courtesy of CNN News at: http://www.cnn.com/2010/WORLD/asiapcf/08/16/us.china.military/index.html?hpt=Sbin

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Critics say Obama’s message becoming ‘incoherent’, Source: CNN

posted by khood4208
Tuesday, August 17, 2010

Critics say Obama’s message becoming ‘incoherent’

By Ed Hornick, CNN //
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Washington (CNN) — President Obama’s comments on a plan to build a mosque in the shadow of ground zero are not only giving opponents an opportunity to attack him but also reveal a messaging problem from the White House, a communications expert said.

“The danger here is an incoherent presidency,” said David Morey, vice chairman of the Core Strategy Group, who provided communications advice to Obama’s 2008 campaign. “Simpler is better, and rising above these issues and leading by controlling the dialogue is what the presidency is all about. So I think that’s the job they have to do more effectively as they have in the past [in the campaign].”

Obama has faced a torrent of criticism for what was called mixed messages on the controversial plan. On Friday, Obama said Muslims “have the same right to practice their religion as anyone else in this country … That includes the right to build a place of worship and a community center on private property in Lower Manhattan, in accordance with local laws and ordinances.”

The following day, Obama told Ed Henry, CNN’s senior White House correspondent, that he was “not commenting on the wisdom” of the project, just the broader principle that the government should treat “everyone equal, regardless” of religion. Then a White House spokesman clarified those comments.

“There is no question they are having messaging problems at the White House,” Morey said. “They’ve lost control of the dialogue, and they’ve gotten pulled down by the extremes on the left and right. They’ve just not had a coherent set of themes.”

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New York Times columnist Maureen Dowd wrote in a recent column that Obama’s clarity and successful messaging during the campaign are gone. In place is a “incoherent president,” who’s “with the banks, he’s against the banks. He’s leaving Afghanistan, he’s staying in Afghanistan. He strains at being a populist, but his head is in the clouds.”

But Obama has the ability to sharpen his messaging skills by being less of a law professor and more of a communicator in chief, Morey said.

“Communicating as a law professor does not work as president. It’s not worked,” he said. “You’re drawing fine distinctions and speaking in long enough paragraphs that they can be misconstrued and taken out of context and frankly, handed to your opposition to exploit. And that’s clearly what’s going on here [with the Islamic center/mosque comments].”

While many poked fun at former President George W. Bush for mispronouncing words and stumbling through sentences, observers note that he rarely had to backtrack on his answers because he employed a simple and direct messaging approach.

But it’s not just Obama who is seemingly off-message. White House press secretary Robert Gibbs’ recent criticism of the “professional left” in a newspaper article highlighted, some noted, a growing rift between the administration and the Democratic Party base.

The candid remarks show a frustration coming from not only the White House’s top spokesman, but the president himself, said Julie Mason, White House correspondent for The Washington Examiner newspaper.

“It was rare for Robert [Gibbs] to go on the record about this, but part of the reason why this electrified the White House press corps so much is because Robert and Obama are so close, that when Robert does speak out of school, it’s like you’re getting the unvarnished opinion of the president,” she said Sunday on CNN’s “Reliable Sources.” “So that’s why we were all geeked up about it last week.”

Gibbs’ criticism of the left wing and Obama’s recent comments on the mosque may have the potential for harming Democrats as the midterm election approaches.

“Whenever you have an explosive issue like this come to the forefront, it really spreads out wide and far,” said Mark Preston, CNN senior political editor. “House Democrats are very frustrated by this. … They are saying to themselves, ‘Why did the president bring this up? All that he is doing to us right now is forcing us to have to weigh in on this very thorny issue.’ ”

Nearly 70 percent of Americans oppose the mosque plan, according to a CNN/Opinion Research Corp. poll released last week. In terms of party affiliation, 54 percent of Democrats, 82 percent of Republicans and 70 percent of independents oppose the plan.

Preston said that at a time when Democrats are trying to localize the midterm election by talking about the things they’ve done back home, Republicans are trying to nationalize the recent religious debate.

“They are trying to bring the president into the debate. … It only helps Republicans to continue to talk about this issue,” he said.

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Grad Rates Put Harvard in a League of Its Own; School Regains Top Spot on U.S. News College List 

Published August 17, 2010

| Associated Press

Harvard pulled ahead of Ivy League rival Princeton in the latest edition of the influential U.S. News & World Report university rankings, while a stronger emphasis on graduation rates drove other changes in the Top 10.

The nation’s oldest university and traditionally one of its most selective, Harvard has topped the list two of the past three years. Last year, the two elite schools shared the top ranking.

Yale was the No. 3-ranked university this year, followed by Columbia, and Stanford and Penn tied at No. 5.

Williams College in Massachusetts was ranked the nation’s top liberal arts school, repeating its feat of last year.

The most closely watched of a growing number of college rankings, the U.S. News & World Report list is both credited for helping students and families sort through a dizzying college selection process and criticized by those who say it’s too arbitrary and pressures colleges to boost scores at the expense of improving teaching.

A change in how rankings are determined led to some shifts in the magazine’s “Best Colleges” rankings, which were released online Tuesday and examine more than 1,400 accredited four-year schools based on 16 factors.

How did Harvard edge Princeton by 1 point on an 100-point scale? Robert Morse, director of data research for U.S. News & World Report, credited Harvard’s higher scores on graduation rates, and financial and faculty resources.

The rankings take into account factors such as SAT scores, selectivity, graduation and retention rates, alumni giving and peer reputation. This year, high-school guidance counselors’ opinions were added to the mix.

Most notably, graduation rate performance was given greater weight, accounting for 7.5 percent of the final score for national universities and liberal arts colleges, up from 5 percent last year. The variable is the difference between a school’s actual graduation rate and one predicted by U.S. News based on test scores and schools’ resources.

Morse said the shift helped Columbia University rise from eighth to fourth this year and contributed to Cal Tech and MIT falling from a tie for fourth to a tie for seventh.

Nationally, graduation rates are getting more policy attention as higher-education leaders and advocates focus increasingly not just on getting students in the door but also out with a degree or certificate. One of the Obama administration’s signature education goals is for the U.S. to regain the world lead in college graduation rates by 2020.

The University of California, Berkeley is the highest-ranked public university, at No. 22 overall in the U.S. News report. Despite a severe budget crisis, five schools in the UC system were among the top 10 public universities.

More schools were ranked this year, a reflection of both increased consumer demand and improved data collection, Morse said. The survey now displays the rank of the top 75 percent of schools in each category, up from 50 percent. The schools in the bottom tier are displayed alphabetically and not given numeric rankings.

The magazine also publishes a list of “Up and Comers,” based on a survey of college administrators who were asked to nominate schools they think are making promising and innovative changes. The University of Maryland-Baltimore County was No. 1 among national universities in that category — and ranked No. 159 overall.

Earlier this month, Forbes magazine ranked Williams College No. 1 in its third “America’s Best Colleges” rankings — and Harvard No. 8. The business magazine weighs student satisfaction, graduation rates, student debt and other factors.

This article is courtesy of Fox News at http://www.foxnews.com/us/2010/08/17/harvard-regains-spot-atop-news-college-rankings-focus-grad-rates-spurs-movement/

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Clouds can communicate, Scientists Say, Source: Fox News

posted by khood4208
Friday, August 13, 2010

Clouds Can Communicate, Scientists Say

By Jeremy A. Kaplan

Published August 13, 2010

| FoxNews.com

Little, fluffy and talkative? Clouds can communicate, a new paper suggests — but what are they talking about?

A new study has found that clouds “communicate” with each other, much like chirping crickets or flashing fireflies on a summer night. The surprising findings, published online in the journal Nature, may have significant implications for our understanding of the Earth’s climate.

So the next time you find yourself laying on your back picking out shapes among the clouds, mull on this one: Are they talking among themselves about you?

“Cloud fields organize in such a way that their components ‘communicate’ with one another and produce regular, periodic rainfall events,” explained Graham Feingold, a research scientist with the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Agency (NOAA) and the paper’s lead author.

In other words, Feingold found clear evidence of self-organization in the regular patterns of rainfall and repeating growth of those floating puffs of cotton. 

How does such synchronization come about? Falling rain cools the air as it descends. This creates downward air currents. These downdrafts hit the surface of the planet, flow outward, and collide with each other, forming updrafts. The air flowing up creates new clouds in previously open sky as older clouds dissipate. Then the new clouds rain, and the oscillating pattern repeats itself.

“In a sense what’s going on is that the clouds are communicating with each other by driving down to the ground. If you have a number of clouds doing exactly that, air is forced to go sideways from one cloud and meets the air from another,” Feingold told FoxNews.com. 

Voila! cloud speech!

Earlier theories about cloud structure explained that temperature change was at the heart of cloud generation, that warming and cooling shifts were the key forces. Precipitation as a driving factor is something of a radical shift.

But talking clouds? That’s even more radical. 

Feingold is nevertheless quite serious, citing a lengthy history of research into cloud communication.

“If you go back far enough, the basic physics behind this phenomenon was recorded in the early 1900s by a French scientist,” he explained.

He was looking at the sun though a telescope and noticed convection patterns. Lord Rayleigh later put it into a theoretical framework, explaining the hexagonal patterns observed in the lab, Feingold told FoxNews.com.

“1933 is the earliest report of patterns in the clouds,” by a scientist known as Graham, he said. But Feingold thinks the idea of cloud communication might date back far further.

“I wouldn’t be surprised if the ancients were looking up at the clouds and seeing patterns early on,” he told FoxNews.com.

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Scientist lives as Inuit for a year to save disappearing language

By Thair Shaikh, CNN
August 13, 2010 1:21 p.m. EDT

London, England (CNN) — A British anthropologist is setting out on a year-long stay with a small community in Greenland in an ambitious attempt to document its dying language and traditions.

Stephen Pax Leonard will live with the Inughuit in north-west Greenland, the world’s most northernmost people, and record their conversations and story-telling traditions to try and preserve their language.

The Inughuit, who speak Inuktun, a “pure” Inuit dialect, are under increasing political and climactic pressure to move south, says Leonard.

“They have around 10 to 15 years left in their present location, then climate change and politics will force them to move south and they will be assimilated into a different culture, into a broader community, and their way of life will be lost,” Leonard told CNN.

Leonard, who flies out to Copenhagen on Sunday before heading to Greenland, says there are about 1,000 speakers of Inuktun, an undocumented language.

Although most Inughuit are trilingual, also speaking Danish and Greenlandic, their primary language is still Inuktun.

“There is no doubt that this is a major linguistic challenge… they speak a very pure form of Inuit, partly because of their geographic isolation. Their entire culture is based on a story-telling culture.”

Greenland

There is no doubt that this is a major linguistic challenge
–Stephen Pax Leonard

Leonard, an anthropological linguist at Cambridge University, England, is under no doubt about the physical and cultural hurdles that face him. The average temperature is minus 25 degrees Celsius, although it can fall to minus 40 degrees Celsius in the winter.

Inughuit, which is the name of the northern Inuits, are hunter-gatherers; they do not have a cash economy and the men can spend weeks away from home hunting for walruses, seals and other mammals. They still use dog sleds in the winter and kayaks in the summer.

Hivshu, an Inughuit who now lives in Sweden, helped Leonard establish contacts with his former community in Greenland.

He has written about the Inughuit way of life on his website: “Even before I went to school I began assisting my father when he was out hunting, summer or winter, no difference. That was the way I heard the stories about my ancestors and their songs told and sung by the old people as it was a tradition to tell the stories and sing the traditional drum songs of Inuit to all of us during the hunting.”

Leonard says he is determined to become a part of their community and plans to hunt with the men if he is allowed.

He is taking solid-state audio recorders that should work in the freezing conditions and plans to produce an “ethnography of speaking.”

That he hopes will be a permanent record that shows how their language and culture are interconnected.

Article Courtesy of CNN at: http://www.cnn.com/2010/WORLD/europe/08/13/greenland.inuit.language/index.html?hpt=Sbin

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