Pentagon Plans Expansion of US Special Forces

Since the start of the Global War on Terrorism, the Pentagon has taken steps to expand the role of the United States Special Operations Command and its forces. In response, the Command has transformed its headquarters to coordinate counterterrorism activities, while the Defense Department has increased funding and the number of special operations forces positions.

Although Pentagon plans to significantly increase the number of special operations forces personnel, the Special Operations Command has not yet fully determined all of the personnel requirements needed to meet its expanded mission.

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High Rice Cost Creating Fears of Asia Unrest

HANOI – Rising prices and a growing fear of scarcity have prompted some of the world’s largest rice producers to announce drastic limits on the amount of rice they export.The price of rice, a staple in the diets of nearly half the world’s population, has almost doubled on international markets in the last three months. That has pinched the budgets of millions of poor Asians and raised fears of civil unrest.

Shortages and high prices for all kinds of food have caused tensions and even violence around the world in recent months. Since January, thousands of troops have been deployed in Pakistan to guard trucks carrying wheat and flour. Protests have erupted in Indonesia over soybean shortages, and China has put price controls on cooking oil, grain, meat, milk and eggs.

Food riots have erupted in recent months in Guinea, Mauritania, Mexico, Morocco, Senegal, Uzbekistan and Yemen. But the moves by rice-exporting nations over the last two days – meant to ensure scarce supplies will meet domestic needs – drove prices on the world market even higher this week.

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Laser plane could destroy tanks from 10 miles

The United States Defence Department has developed a prototype of an aircraft armed with a laser gun that could destroy tanks 10 miles away.

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The laser weapon, shown mounted on a modified Lockheed aircraft

The weapon is capable of destroying targets up to 15km (10m) away, according to Defense Update online magazine.

The ten-centimetre-wide beam will heat targets almost instantly to thousands of degrees and will slice through metal even at maximum range. It is intended both for battlefield use and for missile defense.

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The weapon can also be fitted on a 747 aircraft to shoot down missiles

It is anticipated the beam will be adjustable, allowing the gunner to choose between, for example, targeting a vehicle’s fuel tank to destroy it utterly, or slice through a tyre to bring it to a halt without injuring the driver.

The laser will be housed in a rotating turret attached to the underside of the aircraft and will be aimed independently of the plane. Early tests have focused on testing the rotation of the laser housing.

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The laser is housed in a rotating glass turret, seen here on the front of the aircraft

So far the laser itself has not been tested in flight, but first trials are expected during 2008.

Tests on a laser for destroying vehicles will be carried out on the prototype based on the C-130 “Hercules” transport aircraft. A separate version of the missile will be trialled on a Boeing 747.

By Tom Chivers
Last Updated: 1:13am GMT 29/03/2008

Source: telegraph.co.uk

Big Traders Dive Into Dark Pools

The alternative trading systems are luring big institutional customers by offering greater privacy and lower costs. Their growth could affect big exchanges.It’s not easy being a big player in the stock market. Trading huge quantities of stock on traditional exchanges has become ever more challenging, costly, and potentially disruptive. And if other players see your moves, they can disrupt your trades. That’s led to the emergence in recent years of alternative trading systems known as dark pools. And their growth could have significant implications for big stock exchanges-and individual investors.

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A ‘hospital’ that’s run entirely by robots!

Washington: The new 5 million dollars medical and surgical simulation training centre located at the Johns Hopkins Outpatient Center in East Baltimor, which opened in March, has some very unique new staff members – robots.

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The ‘sim’ centre contains two fully operational ORs, two intensive care units (ICUs), high-fidelity computerized mannequins that mimic physiologic and behavioural response to procedures, and 12 examination rooms where students practice routine exams on actors posing as patients with particular complaints and symptoms.

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Katrina Victims May Have to Repay Money

NEW ORLEANS (AP) – Imagine that your home was reduced to mold-covered wood framing by Hurricane Katrina.

Desperate for money to rebuild, you engage in a frustrating bureaucratic process, and after months of living in a government-provided trailer that gives off formaldehyde fumes you finally win a federal grant.

Then a collector announces that you have to pay back thousands of dollars.

Thousands of Katrina victims may be in that situation.

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Nasdaq Gives High Rollers A Market Free Of Regulation

Nasdaq is set to launch tomorrow what its executives are calling one of the most significant developments on Wall Street in decades — a private stock market for super-wealthy investors.Minimum requirement for traders: $100 million in assets.

Any private firm can list on Nasdaq’s new platform, which is called the Portal Market, and raise money by selling stock to an elite group of shareholders. These companies would remain private and not have to make public their financial statements or submit to federal regulation, such as the Sarbanes-Oxley corporate accountability law.

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U.S. spy agency seeks data on power grid

WASHINGTON, March 28 (UPI) — The agency that manages data from U.S. spy satellites is exploring ways to map the nation’s entire electric grid as part of efforts to protect infrastructure.

(It’s all about controlling the infrastructure in the coming events, nothing else. – The Infinite Unknown)

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