Tuesday Morning Open Thread

Change does not roll in on the wheels of inevitability, but comes through continuous struggle. And so we must straighten our backs and work for our freedom. A man can't ride you unless your back is bent.
Martin Luther King, Jr.
Euro zone, IMF secure deal on cutting Greek debt

Euro zone finance ministers and the International Monetary Fund clinched agreement on reducing Greece's debt on Monday in a breakthrough to release urgently needed loans to keep the near-bankrupt economy afloat.

After 12 hours of talks at their third meeting in as many weeks, Greece's international lenders agreed on a package of measures to reduce Greek debt by 40 billion euros, cutting it to 124 percent of gross domestic product by 2020.

Yasser Arafat exhumed and reburied in low-key operation

Yasser Arafat was buried eight years ago to a chorus of gunfire before a crowd of thousands amid the rubble of his Ramallah headquarters.

On Tuesday, his corpse was quietly dug up again in the middle of the night, shielded from prying eyes, to test a suspicion that the Palestine Liberation Organisation leader was poisoned with a radioactive substance.

The tests were in part prompted by a French murder inquiry requested by Arafat's widow. But there's a good chance they will not provide the answers many Palestinians want to hear. And even if the tests do show he was poisoned, they are also likely to raise unsettling questions many may not want to face.

North Korea preparing for missile test, satellite photos suggest

North Korea may conduct a long-range ballistic missile test in the next three weeks, according to a satellite company that has analysed images of the launch site.

The images were released days after a Japanese newspaper, the Asahi Shimbun, reported that US intelligence analysts had detected moves that were seen as preparation by North Korea for a long-range missile launch as early as this month.

DigitalGlobe, which provides commercial satellite imagery to the US government and foreign governments, on Monday released a new image it claimed showed increased activity at North Korea's Sohae (West Sea) satellite launch station.

The "fiscal cliff" isn't a cliff at all

You're going to be hearing the phrase "fiscal cliff" a lot over the next few weeks: The phrase has emerged as a shorthand way to describe the combination of tax hikes and spending cuts set to start kicking in at the end of the year. Lawmakers are now feverishly negotiating over how to keep many of those spending cuts and tax increases from kicking in - to keep from what is often described as "going off the fiscal cliff."

Yet if no deal comes, the nation won't actually be going over a metaphorical cliff. The word cliff implies an all-or-nothing situation - once you go over a cliff you plummet to earth. There's no going back.

But the situation the nation faces is not like that. The so-called "fiscal cliff," in fact, would be more accurately described as a "gradual fiscal slope." Though that admittedly doesn't have quite the same ring to it.

'Sneaker waves' blamed for deaths of Calif. family

Howard Kuljian and his family were out for a walk on a damp, overcast morning at Big Lagoon beach, playing fetch with their dog Fran as 10-foot surf churned the water just feet away like a washing machine.

Signs near the beach warned of "sneaker waves," the kind that suddenly roar ashore.

Kuljian tossed a stick that took the dog down to the water's edge, and in an instant, authorities said, a wave swallowed it, setting off a nightmarish scramble.

Bradley Manning to speak for first time since arrest in pre-trial testimony

Bradley Manning, the soldier accused of being behind the largest leak of state secrets in US history, is expected this week to speak publicly for the first time since his arrest in May 2010.

The alleged source of the massive WikiLeaks dump of hundreds of thousands of US diplomatic cables and war logs is expected to be called as a witness at the latest pre-trial hearing opening in Fort Meade army base in Maryland on Tuesday afternoon. His direct address to the court will be a poignant event that will be followed closely by both his supporters, who see him as a heroic whistleblower, and his detractors, who regard him as a traitor.

Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade Confetti Made Using Confidential Police Documents

Those classic hole-punched colorful dots were always so difficult to make. Perhaps that’s why some confetti throwers at this year’s Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade decided to use shredded documents as confetti. But amid the blizzard of paper scraps that flurried down during last Thursday’s parade were some details that should never have been put into public hands – never mind let flutter through the streets of New York City.

Social security numbers, police detail assignments, and incident reports were all visible on the confetti strips dumped along the parade route at 65th and Central Park West on Manhattan’s Upper West Side, about a quarter-mile from the parade’s starting location.

Second PAC-MAN orbiting SATURN: Local absence of dots explained

NASA's Cassini mission has discovered a second Pac-Man moon in the Saturn system: Tethys.

Cassini already spotted the Pac-Man thermal shape on the Mimas moon in 2010, and this second shape - found in Tethys, one of Saturn's 62 icy moons - shows that warmer areas in this pattern could be pretty normal for moons.

"Finding a second Pac-Man in the Saturn system tells us that the processes creating these Pac-Men are more widespread than previously thought," said Carly Howett, lead author of a paper on Tethys

Air pollution may be factor in autism, researchers report

Researchers have found that exposure to traffic-related air pollution during pregnancy is associated with autism, according to a new study released on Monday.

The study, published online in the Archives of General Psychiatry, found evidence that pollution may affect the developing brain among children whose mothers lived in areas where there was poor air quality.

"Our work on autism is a piece of a great body of research on pollution as a health risk factor," said Heather Volk, the lead researcher and assistant professor from the Keck School of Medicine at University of Southern California.

People's Daily doesn't understand The Onion, congratulates Kim Jong-Un on being named Sexiest Man Alive

We've all had a good laugh at the idiots on Literally Unbelievable who post outraged Facebook statuses over clearly satirical Onion headlines, but now, the People's Daily, China's newspaper of record, has fallen into the trap of thinking the Onion is real news service.




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I wonder if the whole "fiscal cliff" meme is actually

Big Al's picture

a scare tactic to try to prevent the cuts in defense that are supposed to take place at the beginning of 2013.  The MIC went into overdrive to tell everyone and their mothers that it would be bad for America, bad for our safety, bad for our service members.  The MIC did not want these cuts.  I never thought they would happen.  The US is trying to maintain a global military empire, that can't be done on the cheap.  It would be alot more expensive if they weren't so good at coercing, threatening other countries to contribute to the global militarization project.

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