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Thursday, December 22, 2011

Hugo Chavez: Obama’s a ‘Clown’ President

Hugo Chávez blasted President Barack Obama as a “clown” and an “embarrassment” who has turned the United States into a “disaster” after Obama criticized Venezuela’s ties with Iran and Cuba, according to a report Tuesday.

Chávez’s comments came in the wake of Obama’s Monday written interview with the Caracas paper El Universal, where the U.S. president questioned Venezuela’s connections to those countries. Chávez hit back strongly at Obama on state TV Monday, according to The Guardian, saying the president gave the interview only to “win votes” in the 2012 election.

“Mr. Obama decided to attack us,” Chávez said. “Now you want to win votes by attacking Venezuela. Don’t be irresponsible. You are a clown, a clown. Leave us in peace … Go after your votes by fulfilling that which you promised your people.”

“Focus on governing your country, which you’ve turned into a disaster,” Chávez said, according to The Guardian.

Chávez’s comments were prompted by Obama’s response to an El Universal question about what the U.S. government thinks of Venezuela’s ties to Iran and Cuba. Obama told the paper, “It seems to me that the ties between Venezuela’s government and Iran and Cuba have not served the interests of Venezuela and its people.”

“We are concerned about the government’s actions, which have restricted the universal rights of the Venezuelan people, threatened basic democratic values and failed to contribute to the security in the region,” Obama said, according to The Guardian.

Referencing Iran, Obama wrote, “Sooner or later, Venezuela’s people will have to decide what possible advantage there is in having relations with a country that violates fundamental human rights and is isolated from most of the world.”

On Tuesday, Chávez landed in Uruguay for a summit of South America’s trade bloc, Mercosur. This is the Venezuelan president’s first trip abroad since he was diagnosed with cancer. 

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Thursday, December 8, 2011

Mysterious planet-sized object spotted near Mercury

Is a giant, cloaked spaceship orbiting around Mercury

That's been the speculation from some corners aftera camera onboard NASA's STEREO spacecraft caught a wave of electronically charged material shooting out from the sun and hitting Mercury.

Theorists have seized on the images captured from the "coronal mass ejection" (CME) last week as suggestive of alien life hanging out in our own cosmic backyard. Specifically, the solar flare washing over Mercury appears to hit another object of comparable size. "It's cylindrical on either side and has a shape in the middle. It definitely looks like a ship to me, and very obviously, 
it's cloaked," YouTube-user siniXster said in his video commentary on the footage, which has generated hundreds of thousands of views this week. Now, how this user was able to determine that the object was "obviously" a cloaked spaceship with no other natural explanation remains as much a mystery as the object itself.

Of course, there's another scientifically sanctioned explanation for the curious images, though we're not certain that skeptics and UFO enthusiasts such as SiniXster will endorse it. Natalie Wolchover of Life's Little Mysteries put the question to scientists in the solar physics branch at the United States Naval Research Laboratory (NRL). They're the people who analyze data from the Heliospheric Imager-1 (HI-1)--better known in this context as the camera that shot the footage in question.

<iframe width="460" height="315" src="http://www.youtube.com/embed/6X96xI1gLdQ" frameborder="0" allowfullscreen></iframe>

Head NRL group scientist Russ Howard and lead ground systems engineer Nathan Rich say the mysterious object is in fact Mercury itself. And what we're seeing in the footage is the equivalent of Mercury's wake, "where the planet was on the previous day," as it travels through the solar system on its natural gravitational path:

The analysts say the practice works even better when applied to far-off objects such as stars, which don't move much relative to the sun. But for moving objects, especially planets, the process is a little more complicated. And making matters even trickier is Mercury's staus as the closest planet to the sun.

"When [this averaging process] is done between the previous day and the current day and there is a feature like a planet, this introduces dark (negative) artifacts in the background where the planet was on the previous day, which then show up as bright areas in the enhanced image," Rich explained in an email.