Friday, August 29, 2008

CNN: Iran Confirms Nuclear Enrichment

(CNN) -- Iran's deputy foreign minister said Friday that almost 4,000 uranium-enriching centrifuges are now operating at the country's Natanz enrichment facility, the national IRNA news agency reported.

President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad has defended Iran's right to develop nuclear technology.

Spinning centrifuges are used to separate uranium atoms to produce uranium concentrated enough for a nuclear weapon's fission chain reaction.

Ali-Reza Sheikh Attar told Iranian TV that another 3,000 centrifuges are being installed, IRNA said.

Iran announced nearly a year ago, in September 2007, that it had more than 3,000 active centrifuges. In April, President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad promised to install 6,000 more over the coming year.

The United States and other Western nations believe Iran's nuclear program is intended to develop nuclear weapons, but Iran insists it is only for peaceful purposes.

The United Nations already has three sanctions resolutions against Iran for failing to suspend the program. Attar said Thursday the sanctions are "futile and ineffective," IRNA reported.

The five permanent members of the U.N. Security Council and Germany -- a group called P5+1 -- offered a package of economic and other incentives to Iran in July if it suspended its nuclear enrichment program.

Iran failed to meet the group's deadline to accept the offer, leading the P5+1 to discuss further sanctions against Iran, a State Department spokesman said this month

Network of Amateur Aero Sleuths not surprised by McCain's VEEP pick.

by Steve Douglass

Updated: 8:13 PM

Savy aeronautical enthusiasts and bloggers were not surprised (as was the mainstream media) by presidential candidate's John McCain's VP pick (Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin) because they were tracking VIP flights into Dayton ( and surrounding airports) via various flight-tracker websites.

Spotters at Dayton area airports jotted down executive jet tail numbers and then ran them on the Internet (on to see where they originated from.

One executive jet in particular ( landing at Middletown) caught the attention of spotters. It was sporting the tail number: N222GY and was identified as a Gulfstream Aerospace Gulfstream IV (twin-jet) which had originated from Hook Field, municipal airport in Washington State.

The aircraft is registered to an entity called Gypsy Two LLC. It shares an address with a tax exempt organization called the Dean Weidner foundation. Dean Weidner is a Republican donor.. and a man named William Weidner, the CEO of Las Vegas Sands corp, a major McCain supporter.

Flight plans filed by the pilot also showed that the aircraft had flown in the previous day from Anchorage, Alaska.

The history of the aircraft also shows it was in Flagstaff, AZ recently and McCain's advance man Arthur Culvahouse was spotted in Juneau, Alaska on various occasions over the last six weeks.

Put two and two together ( an aircraft originating in Alaska and flying cross country to near Dayton) and a spotter's report of a woman in her 40s disembarking (and being met by Secret Service) and it adds up to Gov. Palin.

When a worker at the Flight Service Station was shown a photograph of Gov. Palin by a member of the news media (who was reading the reports on various political blogs) he confirmed the woman in the photo was Palin.

Reports now indicate two aircraft landed at Middletown, one with the Gov. on board (flying from Arizona) and another aircraft (N222GY)-from Anchorage) transporting the Palin family who appeared ather side during McCain's announcement.

Why land at Middletown and not Dayton ? Apparently McCain's people read the many blog posts about aircraft tail number N222GY (and knowing it would quickly be spotted landing at Dayton where the media was watching) decided it was best to land somewhere off the press's radar.

However, through real time tracking available on, bloggers and spotters easily tracked the aircraft to Middletown.

- Steve Douglass

Exclusive: Alaska Gov. Palin to be McCain's Veep

Aircraft enthusiasts tracked Alaska Gov. Palin as she was winging her way to Dayton.

More about how you can track the candidates in a follow-up post.

About Sarah Palin:

Source Wikipedia

Sarah Louise Heath Palin (born February 11, 1964) is the current Governor of Alaska and the presumptive 2008 Republican candidate for Vice President of the United States.

She will be the first female Vice Presidential candidate representing the Republican Party and the second female Vice Presidential candidate representing a major political party.

Palin was born in Idaho and raised in Alaska. In 1984, she was the runner-up in the Miss Alaska pageant, receiving a scholarship that allowed her to attend the University of Idaho, where she received a degree in journalism. After working as a sports reporter at an Anchorage television station, Palin served two terms on the Wasilla, Alaska, City Council from 1992 to 1996, was elected mayor of Wasilla (population 5,470 in 2000) in 1996, and ran unsuccessfully for Lieutenant Governor in 2002.

Palin was elected Governor of Alaska in 2006 on the theme of governmental reform, defeating incumbent governor Frank Murkowski in the Republican primary and former Democratic Alaskan governor Tony Knowles in the general election. She gained attention for publicizing ethical violations by state Republican Party leaders

New Milky Way map reveals a complicated outer galaxy

CHICAGO -- The halo of stars that envelops the Milky Way galaxy is like a river delta criss-crossed by stellar streams large and small, according to new data from the Sloan Digital Sky Survey (SDSS-II). While the largest rivers of this delta have been mapped out over the last decade, analysis of the new SDSS-II map shows that smaller streams can be found throughout the stellar halo, said Kevin Schlaufman, a graduate student at the University of California at Santa Cruz.

A theoretical model of a galaxy like the Milky Way, showing trails of stars torn from disrupted satellite galaxies that have merged with the central galaxy. The structures seen in the SDSS-II star maps support this prediction of a complicated outer Galaxy. The region shown is about one million light years on a side; the sun is just 25,000 light years from the center of the Galaxy and would appear close to the center of this picture. Credit: K. Johnston, J. Bullock

Schlaufman reported his results at an international symposium in Chicago, titled "The Sloan Digital Sky Survey: Asteroids to Cosmology." Over the last three years, Schlaufmann explained, the SEGUE survey of SDSS-II has measured the motions of nearly a quarter million stars in selected areas of the sky. A careful search for groups of stars at the same velocity turned up 14 distinct structures, 11 of them previously unknown.

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