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0 Modern Humans Reached Arabia as much as 65,000 Years Earlier

Archaeologists working in the Arabian peninsula are re-documenting the first human migrations out of Africa, and offer new evidence that modern humans reached the Persian Gulf as much as 65,000 years earlier than previously believed.
The international team of researchers said the modern humans might have followed a direct route to the Arabian Peninsula, heading across the Red Sea, rather than traveling via the Nile Valley or the Near East as previous studies had suggested.
The researchers, led by Hans-Peter Uerpmann from Eberhard Karls University in Tübingen, Germany, discovered an ancient human toolkit at the Jebel Faya archaeological site in the United Arab Emirates, which resembled technology used by early humans in east Africa but not the craftsmanship that emerged from the Middle East.
The toolkit included relatively primitive hand axes, perforators and scrapers, suggesting that technological innovation was not necessary for early humans to migrate to the Arabian Peninsula.
The researchers calculated the age of the stone tools using a technique known as luminescence dating, and determined that the artifacts were about 100,000 to 125,000 years old.
"These 'anatomically modern' humans — like you and me — had evolved in Africa about 200,000 years ago and subsequently populated the rest of the world," said Simon Armitage from Royal Holloway, University of London, lead author of the study.
"Our findings should stimulate a re-evaluation of the means by which we modern humans became a global species."
The researchers also analyzed sea level and climate-change records for the region during the last interglacial period, approximately 130,000 years ago.  They determined that the Bab al-Mandab Strait, which separates Arabia from the Horn of Africa, would have narrowed due to lower sea-levels, allowing safe passage prior to and at the beginning of that last interglacial period.
At that time, the Arabian Peninsula was much wetter than today, with greater vegetation cover and a network of lakes and rivers.  This would have allowed early humans access into Arabia and then into the Fertile Crescent and India, the researchers said.
"Archaeology without ages is like a jigsaw with the interlocking edges removed — you have lots of individual pieces of information but you can't fit them together to produce the big picture," said Armitage. 
"At Jebel Faya, the ages reveal a fascinating picture in which modern humans migrated out of Africa much earlier than previously thought, helped by global fluctuations in sea-level and climate change in the Arabian Peninsula."
The study appears in the January 28 issue of the journal Science.

0 Graph Visualizes Egypt's Internet Blackout (PICTURE)

San Francisco-based CPJ Internet Advocacy Coordinator Danny O’Brien has worked globally as a journalist and activist covering technology and digital rights. Follow him on Twitter @danny_at_cpj.

My colleague at CPJ, Mohamed Abdel Dayem, was the first to mail me. "Just a second ago," he wrote, "about 10 contacts of mine all disappeared off instant messaging in unison. That cannot be a coincidence."

That was yesterday, January 27th, at 5:34pm New York time. A stream of similar emails followed. Everyone I knew had lost contact with Egypt. On the wider Internet, the Twitter streams and Facebook updates from Egyptian journalists, bloggers, and others, which had been overwhelming us since the protests on the 25th, had all suddenly gone quiet.
Could it be a coincidence? Internet connectivity disappears all the time, for many reasons, almost always accidental. Sometimes, it's a cut optical fiber. A ship might drag its anchor over a submarine cable. It can be very difficult to determine the true extent or origins of any online disruption.
To find out what was really going on, I posted a message to a mailing list where many of administrators of the American corner of the Internet discuss day-to-day operations. Were they all seeing a similar drop-off in connectivity to Egypt?
At first, the replies were equally anecdotal: someone with a server in Cairo could no longer access it; attempts to reach prominent Egyptian websites were failing. Finally, Andree Tonk at BGPMon, an Internet routing monitoring organization, provided the first concrete evidence of an Egypt-wide shutdown.
Tonk's article is somewhat technical, so let me explain the background. In order to direct traffic across the Internet, a large number of key machines across the Net maintain among themselves a global index of routes. Think of it as a constantly-updated roadmap of how to get from one part of the Internet to another.
At around 5:28PM Eastern, the routes to almost all of Egypt's share of the Internet began to disappear from this global index. Egypt went from having 2903 networks connected to the wider Internet, routed over 52 ISPs, to only 327, via only 26 remaining ISPs. Either because of a physical break in communications, or through a deliberate act by Egyptian ISPs, Egypt was vanishing from the Internet's map of itself.
Craig Labovitz, the Chief Scientist of Arbor Networks, a company that makes some of the Internet's most widely-used traffic-monitoring software, quickly added this more dramatic visualization of what his engineers were seeing (complete with typo):

Arbor Network's traffic analysis for Egypt
                                            Arbor Network's traffic analysis for Egypt
This is, Labovitz writes, a "graph of Egyptian Internet traffic across a large number of geographically and topologically diverse providers on January 27th". You can see that traffic plummeting to a "handful of megabits after the withdrawal of most Egyptian ISP ... routes".
Note that both Labovitz and Tonk's analysis showed that not everything was down in Egypt. The rest of my evening was spent working with others to try and find out what was up, and why.
The main network that was completely unaffected by the early lockdown was the systems run by the Egyptian ISP, the Noor Group. There was some early speculation that this was because the Egyptian Stock Exchange was hosted on that network, which led to an online rumor that the service was being kept up to maintain government services.
Actually, Egypt's Stock Exchange was, like any high-availability website, hosted on multiple redundant Internet connections, including Noor. Noor also offered a DSL service to many ordinary Egyptians, which some journalists have been using to communicate.
Right now, we know that there are also some multinational companies that have connectivity (possibly because their internal networks don't use the public net). We've heard talk that "five star hotels" have connectivity also, as well as a handful of other networks beside Noor. SMS seems to be down, but mobile phones are working.
What we don't have is complete answers to why such a drastic Internet shutdown happened. As the hours of Egypt's disappearance from the global Net drag on, I have heard nothing of any catastrophic accident that could explain it. And as foreign journalists in Egypt are locked down in their hotels or are attacked on the streets as Al-Jazeera, AFP, and others are reporting, as local mobile provider Vodaphone admits "all mobile operators in Egypt have been instructed to suspend services in selected areas,"the chances that this is all just a coincidence grow slim indeed.

0 Egytpian Government Pull Plug On Internet....Countrywide.

Egypt's Internet Shut Down,

Confirming what a few have reported this evening: in an action unprecedented in Internet history, the Egyptian government appears to have ordered service providers to shut down all international connections to the Internet. Critical European-Asian fiber-optic routes through Egypt appear to be unaffected for now. But every Egyptian provider, every business, bank, Internet cafe, website, school, embassy, and government office that relied on the big four Egyptian ISPs for their Internet connectivity is now cut off from the rest of the world. Link Egypt, Vodafone/Raya, Telecom Egypt, Etisalat Misr, and all their customers and partners are, for the moment, off the air.

egypt_outages.pngAt 22:34 UTC (00:34am local time), Renesys observed the virtually simultaneous withdrawal of all routes to Egyptian networks in the Internet's global routing table. Approximately 3,500 individual BGP routes were withdrawn, leaving no valid paths by which the rest of the world could continue to exchange Internet traffic with Egypt's service providers. Virtually all of Egypt's Internet addresses are now unreachable, worldwide.
This is a completely different situation from the modest Internet manipulation that took place in Tunisia, where specific routes were blocked, or Iran, where the Internet stayed up in a rate-limited form designed to make Internet connectivity painfully slow. The Egyptian government's actions tonight have essentially wiped their country from the global map.
What happens when you disconnect a modern economy and 80,000,000 people from the Internet? What will happen tomorrow, on the streets and in the credit markets? This has never happened before, and the unknowns are piling up. We will continue to dig into the event, and will update this story as we learn more. As Friday dawns in Cairo under this unprecedented communications blackout, keep the Egyptian people in your thoughts.
Update (3:06 UTC)
One of the very few exceptions to this block has been Noor Group (AS20928), which still has 83 out of 83 live routes to its Egyptian customers, with inbound transit from Telecom Italia as usual. Why was Noor Group apparently unaffected by the countrywide takedown order? Unknown at this point, but we observe that the Egyptian Stock Exchange ( is still alive at a Noor address.
Its DNS A records indicate that it's normally reachable at 4 different IP addresses, only one of which belongs to Noor. Internet transit path diversity is a sign of good planning by the Stock Exchange IT staff, and it appears to have paid off in this case. Did the Egyptian government leave Noor standing so that the markets could open next week? 

UPDATE: (2:10 a.m. ET) HuffPost reader Thomas Jaworowski, a tech enthusiast, emails in that he "decided to try a few tricks" to see if Egypt's Internet really was down or it was just server overload causing the problems. He traced IP addresses, particularly for the U.S. Embassy in Cairo which is hosted in Egypt, and found that the Web traffic is indeed being blocked at the country level, not just a simple censoring.

0 Utah's Top Secret Army base locked down after 'serious concern'

Installation works to protect troops from biological and chemical weapons 

A Utah military base that carries out tests to protect troops against biological attacks was locked down over a "serious concern," but was beginning to reopen early Thursday, officials said. Early Thursday, base spokeswoman Paula Thomas said the base, located about 85 miles southwest of Salt Lake City, had reopened to incoming personnel, and preparations were under way to allow people inside to leave.
She said there were no injuries resulting from the cause of the lockdown, which began Wednesday afternoon. She said more details would be released later in the day.
Col. William E. King, base commander at Dugway Proving Grounds announced Wednesday evening that gates were locked to both incoming and outgoing personnel to resolve the problem, but that no one was in danger.
King and other base officials declined to provide any details on the cause of the lockdown.
"As you know measures like these (lockdown of our gates) are not taken lightly," King said Wednesday, according to NBC station KSL-TV. "No one is in immediate danger but these steps are required."
Thomas called as accurate media reports that about 1,200 to 1,400 people — a mix of military personnel and contractors and civilian workers — were inside the base when the lockdown occurred.
The Salt Lake Tribune reported that a lockdown began at 5:24 p.m. MST Wednesday, with no one allowed in or out of the base.
According to its website, the nearly 800,000-acre base conducts chemical and biological defense training, and "is the Defense Department's leader in testing battlefield smokes and obscurants."  Personnel there also test military equipment's viability in environments where they're facing chemical or biological threat.
The base also is used by the U.S. Army Reserves and the U.S. National Guard for maneuver training.

Further interesting reading... 
Aiming to expose and highlight the problems of the military personnel who participated in the US Army's
"atmospheric testing of chemical, biological and radiological warfare agents."

Looking at the pictures of the main gates from the above  website reminded me immediately of the Stephen King Classic..."The Stand." (Below).

and the Secret Nuclear Reactor, Biological and Future Weapons and Space vehicle testing below is very interesting.. 

Dugway Proving Ground is located 80 miles southwest of Salt Lake City and covers an area of approximately 800,000 acres in the Great Salt Lake Desert. It is by far the most secretive facility in Utah as well as the most controversial. Many residents feel threatened and unsure of its close location to Salt Lake City, especially because of the type of testing that takes place there.
The primary mission of Dugway Proving Ground is to plan, conduct, analyze, and report the results of technical tests and studies; especially in the areas of chemical defense, biological defense, incendiary, smoke and obscurant systems, and environmental technology testing. Dugway also provides test expertise, services and support for all authorized customers, including United States and foreign governments, as well as non-governmental organizations. In addition, Dugway is a major range and test facility for chemical and biological defense testing and a reliance center for the U.S. Department of Defense.
With the attack on Pearl Harbor in 1941, the United States and its military forces suddenly realized a need for increased military capability in many areas, which included expanded knowledge in chemical and biological warfare.
Dugway Proving Ground was authorized to fill the need for testing weapons and defenses against chemical and biological agents. Over the years, the proving ground has undergone various name changes and periods of deactivation and reactivation.
Dugway is now part of the U.S. Army Test and Evaluation Command (TECOM), headquartered at Aberdeen Proving Ground, Maryland. TECOM is a major subordinate command of the U.S. Army Material Command, headquartered at Alexandria, Virginia. At present, Dugway Proving Ground encompasses 798,855 acres. In addition to chemical and biological defensive testing and environment characterization and remediation technology testing, Dugway is the Defense Department's leader in testing battlefield smokes and obscurants. The installion currently consists of more than 600 buildings with a total value of more than $240 million.

NASA's X-33
Lately there has been an increase in activity at the Utah facility, both on the ground and in the airspace above Dugway. Reported last year, was the construction of a new 15,000 feet runway which is now known to be for the testing of NASA's next generation space shuttles, including the X-33. Also, unusual aerial objects emitting mysterious vapor contrails lends support to Dugway being a secret test facility for new aircraft.
Security at the installation has also been increased quite dramatically. Warning signs have been established along the perimeter of the base and if someone happens to wander to close to the restricted zones, expect to see unmarked "black" helicopters challenge your presence in the area.
It has also been revealed that an unusual facility within Dugway may house experimental craft, possibly of alien origin. During the 1950s and 1970s, the facility was constantly under armed guard. During this time period, convoy trucks had been seen entering the hangar with their cargo covered by tarpaulins. One truck was seen which was carrying something oval or circular in shape and being about 30 feet wide. The truck was accompanied by five men. Could this have been a flying disc-shaped craft? Three concentric fences were later built around the hangar.
Rumors persist as to what is housed in the hangar, a more common one being that it is a storage facility for a SLR-1 portable nuclear reactor. However, there is unusual evidence which may suggest that the flying disc was of a very secretive nature. The five men who were seen with the truck all happened to mysteriously die within a year of delivering the cargo to Dugway. Two of them died in a single plane crash from Chicago to Denver. The third died in an auto wreck when his car fell off a cliff in Northern California, presumably because of brake failure. The fourth committed suicide by hanging himself with a necktie, for no apparent reason. The fifth man simply was reported missing one day after leaving home for work.
Of course, the above story could simply be disinformation, to distract people from a different project at Dugway Proving Ground. But whatever the truth, the base is alive with strange and unusual activity. 

0 Yet Another Major Snowstorm Hits Northeast US

Yet another snowstorm hit the Northeast US Wednesday through early Thursday. 

The storm came in two rounds, an initial burst on Wednesday morning and then a heavier round late Wednesday through early Thursday. Unlike previous storms this season, heavy snow also fell in D.C. and Baltimore in addition to Philadelphia, New York City and Southern New England.

As snow began in the D.C. and Baltimore areas late Wednesday, thunder and lightning were common. Snowfall rates of 1-2" per hour made for a nightmare rush hour.

These heavy snow rates with thunder and lightning then moved northward through portions of eastern Pennsylvania and New Jersey. Philadelphia piled up near 15" from this latest storm.

New York City and Newark picked up a whopping 19" snow. For the month, both cities now have piled on between 36-38" making January 2011 the snowiest January on record! Bridgeport, Conn., Islip, N.Y. and New York-La Guardia have also now seen their snowiest Januaries.

Hartford, Conn. now has near 48" this month, beating December 1945 as the snowiest month on record.

Below are some of the snow totals reported in the Northeast from this storm. 

0 Bank of England chief Mervyn King: standard of living to plunge at fastest rate since 1920s

Households face the most dramatic squeeze in living standards since the 1920s, the Governor of the Bank of England warned, as he reacted to the shock disclosure that the economy was shrinking again

Families will see their disposable income eaten up as they “pay the inevitable price” for the financial crisis, Mervyn King warned.
With wages failing to keep pace with rising inflation, workers’ take- home pay will end the year worth the same as in 2005 — the most prolonged fall in living standards for more than 80 years, he claimed.
Mr King issued the warning in a speech in Newcastle upon Tyne after official figures showed that gross domestic product fell by 0.5 per cent during the final three months last year. The Government blamed the unexpected reduction — the first since the third quarter of 2009 — on the freezing weather that paralysed much of the country last month.
But there were fears that the country was poised to slip back into recession, defined as two successive quarters of negative growth. Economists said the situation was “an absolute disaster”.
The economic gloom deepened this morning as figures showed that mortgage lending by the major banks dived to an 11-and-a-half-year low during December.