Kenyan elephant numbers plummet by 1000 in four years









































IT'S a case of up then down for Kenya's second largest population of elephants. After a promising growth spurt, the elephants are now dying faster than they are being born. The decline is being blamed on illegal poaching, driven by Asia's demand for ivory.












The Kenya Wildlife Service recently conducted a census of the Samburu/Laikipia population, the country's second largest. It found that the population lost over 1000 elephants in just four years, and now stands at 6361. Previous censuses in 1992, 1998, 2002 and 2008 had revealed a growing population, which appears to have peaked at 7415 in 2008.












Poaching is suspected. A July report by three conservation groups found that it has been on the rise across Africa since 2006. Poaching is also spreading eastwards from central Africa into countries like Kenya, says Richard Thomas of TRAFFIC in Cambridge, UK, one of the three groups that drafted the report. The July report found that more than half of all elephants found dead in Africa in 2011 had been illegally killed.












The rise in poaching appears to be driven by increasing affluence in China and Thailand, where ivory is often used to make religious sculptures and other decorations.












Organised criminal gangs have capitalised on this increased demand. "If it's worth someone's while to smuggle the ivory, they'll take the risk," Thomas says. There is evidence that gangs are moving into Kenya to hunt elephants.


















































If you would like to reuse any content from New Scientist, either in print or online, please contact the syndication department first for permission. New Scientist does not own rights to photos, but there are a variety of licensing options available for use of articles and graphics we own the copyright to.




































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If you are having a technical problem posting a comment, please contact technical support.








Read More..

Storm Bopha returns to Philippines






MANILA: Heavy rain brought flooding fears in the north of the storm-battered Philippines as Typhoon Bopha returned Sunday, days after slamming into the south of the country and leaving almost 1,400 dead or missing.

While the powerful typhoon had weakened to a tropical storm, it was still causing downpours in the north even as hundreds in the south struggled to recover from its fury, said civil defence chief Benito Ramos.

"It will bring rain, not so much wind. We anticipate flash floods and landslides. We expect low-lying areas to be flooded again," Ramos told AFP.

Local relief and rescue teams along with the military were already in position while residents were on alert for rising waters.

Officials said 548 people are confirmed dead after Botha struck last week. The National Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Council said 827 are missing, a sharp rise on earlier estimates of about 500 unaccounted for.

Most of the deaths were in the southern island of Mindanao where mountainous gold-rush sites were hit hard. Almost 178,000 people were still huddled in crowded government evacuation centres after their homes were destroyed.

Ramos said the massive death toll in Mindanao had made residents in the north more cautious.

"They are more alert now. They were watching developments in the south where we incurred a substantial number of casualties and they were alarmed," he said.

Despite Bopha's weakening, the second-level of a three-step storm alert was raised over three northern provinces. Lower alerts were hoisted over surrounding areas, the government weather station said.

Bopha struck the southern Philippines last week, wiping whole towns off the map with its 210-kilometre (130-mile) per hour winds and heavy rains.

The strongest typhoon to hit the country this year cut through the central islands and was heading out to the South China Sea when it made a U-turn towards the north this weekend.

Early Sunday Bopha was just off the northern city of Laoag, packing gusts of 120 kilometres per hour as it moved east at 15 kilometres per hour, the weather station said.

- AFP/ir



Read More..

Cowboys' Brown dies in crash; former Illini teammate charged

RAW: Irving PD's Cowboys Josh Brent Press Conference (Posted Dec. 8th, 2012)









Dallas Cowboys defensive tackle Josh Brent was arrested for drunk driving and charged with manslaughter on Saturday after a car he was driving crashed and killed teammate Jerry Brown Jr, in the second tragedy involving NFL players in a week.

Police in the Dallas suburb of Irving said that Brent, 24, was driving at high speed on a state highway at 2:21 a.m. when the car slammed into an "outside curb, causing the vehicle to flip at least one time before coming to rest in the middle of the service road."

Brown, who had been in the passenger seat, was pronounced dead at a nearby hospital a short time later. Brent suffered "minor scrapes" and was booked into the Irving jail, where he remained on Saturday awaiting arraignment, police said.

"Officers at the scene believed alcohol was a contributing factor in the crash," police said, adding that Brent was given a sobriety test. "Based on the results and the officer's observations and conversations with Price-Brent, he was arrested for driving while intoxicated," Irving police spokesman John Argumaniz said at a news conference.


“I am devastated and filled with grief,” Brent said in a statement released by his agent Saturday night. “Filled with grief for the loss of my close friend and teammate, Jerry Brown. I am also grief-stricken for his family, friends and all who were blessed enough to have known him.


"I will live with this horrific and tragic loss every day for the rest of my life. My prayers are with his family, our teammates and his friends at this time."








Brown, 25, was a linebacker on the professional team's practice squad but had not played any games with the Cowboys. He had played in one NFL game for the Indianapolis Colts this season before joining the Cowboys.

Brown also played for the Hamilton Tiger-Cats of the Canadian Football League in 2011 and for two Arena Football League team, the Jacksonville Sharks in 2011 and the San Antonio Talons in 2012. Arena football is played indoors on a smaller field than NFL or Canadian outdoor football.

Brent, 24, has started in five games for the Cowboys and played 12 this season since regular starting defensive lineman Jay Ratliff was sidelined with injuries.

Dallas Cowboys owner Jerry Jones issued a statement expressing his condolences to Brown's family.

"We are deeply saddened by the news of this accident and the passing of Jerry Brown. Our hearts and prayers and deepest sympathies are with the members of Jerry's family and all of those who knew him and loved him."

Brent remained in jail on Saturday and his bond will be set at his Sunday morning arraignment, police said. The drunk driving charge was upgraded to intoxication manslaughter, a second degree felony which is punishable in Texas by two to 20 years in prison and a fine up to $10,000.

When police arrived on the scene of the accident after several 911 calls, part of the car was on fire. The 2007 Mercedes sedan was resting on its roof in the middle of the road, and Brent was dragging Brown out of the burning car, said Irving police spokesman John Argumaniz at a news conference.

Police believe, based on gouge marks and other physical evidence at the scene, that Brown was driving faster than the posted 45 miles per hour speed limit.

Argumaniz said the Texas police are still looking for witnesses to the crash, which did not appear to involve any other vehicles.

"There were people on scene," he said. "However, it's our understanding that no one saw what took place. They drove up after the accident."

Brent has been arrested for drunk driving before. While he was on the University of Illinois football team, he was arrested February 23, 2009, on a drunk driving charge, according to Champaign, Illinois, county records. He spent time in the county jail and was suspended from the team, according to local media reports. He eventually left school and was drafted by the Cowboys.


Brent and Brown were teammates at Illinois from 2007-09 under then-coach Ron Zook. Brent was suspended in 2009 after a DUI arrest.


An Illinois spokesman issued this statement: "This is a tragic story. Our thoughts and condolences go out to the Brown family."

Illinois coach Tim Beckman tweeted: "Sad News for the illini family today. Jerry Brown, former illini and current NFL player has passed away. Keep him in your prayers."


Former teammate Arrelious Benn tweeted: "Prayers go out to the family of my former classmate, teammate Former Illini Jerry Brown. RIP. #Illini" 



Tribune reporter Shannon Ryan contributed



Read More..

Plants Grow Fine Without Gravity


When researchers sent plants to the International Space Station in 2010, the flora wasn't meant to be decorative. Instead, the seeds of these small, white flowers—called Arabidopsis thaliana—were the subject of an experiment to study how plant roots developed in a weightless environment.

Gravity is an important influence on root growth, but the scientists found that their space plants didn't need it to flourish. The research team from the University of Florida in Gainesville thinks this ability is related to a plant's inherent ability to orient itself as it grows. Seeds germinated on the International Space Station sprouted roots that behaved like they would on Earth—growing away from the seed to seek nutrients and water in exactly the same pattern observed with gravity. (Related: "Beyond Gravity.")

Since the flowers were orbiting some 220 miles (350 kilometers) above the Earth at the time, the NASA-funded experiment suggests that plants still retain an earthy instinct when they don't have gravity as a guide.

"The role of gravity in plant growth and development in terrestrial environments is well understood," said plant geneticist and study co-author Anna-Lisa Paul, with the University of Florida in Gainesville. "What is less well understood is how plants respond when you remove gravity." (See a video about plant growth.)

The new study revealed that "features of plant growth we thought were a result of gravity acting on plant cells and organs do not actually require gravity," she added.

Paul and her collaborator Robert Ferl, a plant biologist at the University of Florida in Gainesville, monitored their plants from the Kennedy Space Center in Florida using images sent from the space station every six hours.

Root Growth

Grown on a nutrient-rich gel in clear petri plates, the space flowers showed familiar root growth patterns such as "skewing," where roots slant progressively as they branch out.

"When we saw the first pictures come back from orbit and saw that we had most of the skewing phenomenon we were quite surprised," Paul said.

Researchers have always thought that skewing was the result of gravity's effects on how the root tip interacts with the surfaces it encounters as it grows, she added. But Paul and Ferl suspect that in the absence of gravity, other cues take over that enable the plant to direct its roots away from the seed and light-seeking shoot. Those cues could include moisture, nutrients, and light avoidance.

"Bottom line is that although plants 'know' that they are in a novel environment, they ultimately do just fine," Paul said.

The finding further boosts the prospect of cultivating food plants in space and, eventually, on other planets.

"There's really no impediment to growing plants in microgravity, such as on a long-term mission to Mars, or in reduced-gravity environments such as in specialized greenhouses on Mars or the moon," Paul said. (Related: "Alien Trees Would Bloom Black on Worlds With Double Stars.")

The study findings appear in the latest issue of the journal BMC Plant Biology.


Read More..

Gay Marriage: Will Justices Follow Popular Opinion?













The Supreme Court's announcement that it would hear two cases challenging laws prohibiting same-sex marriage has reinvigorated one of the most hotly contentious social debates in American history, a debate that has been fueled by a dramatic change in attitudes.


With some states taking significant steps towards legalizing gay marriage, the hearings come at a critical moment.


This week in Washington State, hundreds of same-sex couples lined up to collect marriage licenses after Gov. Christine Gregoire announced the passing of a voter-approved law legalizing gay marriage.


"For the past 20 years we've been saying just one more step. Just one more fight. Just one more law. But now we can stop saying 'Just one more.' This is it. We are here. We did it," Gregoire told a group of Referendum 74 supporters during the law's certification.


Washington is just the most recent of several states to pass legislation legalizing same-sex marriage, signifying a significant departure from previous thinking on the controversial subject.


READ: Court to Take Up Same-Sex Marriage


A study by the Pew Research Center on changing attitudes on gay marriage showed that in 2001 57 percent of Americans opposed same-sex marriage, while 35 percent of Americans supported it.


The same poll shows that today opinions have greatly shifted to reflect slightly more support for same-sex marriage than opposition -- with 48 percent of Americans in favor and 43 percent opposed.


In fact, just two years ago, 48 percent of Americans opposed same-sex marriage while only 42 percent supported it -- indicating that opinions have changed dramatically in the last couple of years alone.






David Paul Morris/Getty Images











Supreme Court Set to Tackle Same-Sex Marriage Watch Video









Gay Marriage: Supreme Court to Examine Marriage Equality Watch Video









Marijuana, Gay Marriage Win in 2012 Election Results Watch Video





Check Out Same-Sex Marriage Status in the U.S. State By State


It's hard to imagine that only 16 years ago, the fervent gay marriage debate led to the conception of the Defense of Marriage Act, which defines marriage as a union solely held between a man and a woman.


While debating the Defense of Marriage Act in September 1996, former Sen. Robert Byrd said: "If same-sex marriage is accepted, then the announcement will be official: America will have said that children do not need a mother and a father. Two mothers or two fathers will be OK. It'll be just as good. This would be a catastrophe."


Even a few short years ago a newly-elected President Obama did not support the legalization of gay marriage. It wasn't until earlier this year, at the end of hiss first term and with the impending election in sight, that the president told ABC's Robin Roberts the he'd "been going through an evolution on this issue."


Obama went on to attribute his shift in stance to the influence of his daughters.


"You know, Malia and Sasha, they've got friends whose parents are same-sex couples. It wouldn't dawn on them that somehow their friends' parents would be treated differently," he said. "That's the kind of thing that prompts -- a change in perspective."


Obama isn't the only one to experience an evolution in thinking on the matter of gay marriage. Attitudes towards same-sex marriage have shifted dramatically over the past decade across the board, particularly in the past few years.


Gone are the days when a majority of people opposed same-sex marriage; the days when gay politicians and supporters of same-sex marriage could not get elected.


Get more pure politics at ABCNews.com/Politics and a lighter take on the news at OTUSNews.com


Today, nine states and the District of Columbia allow same-sex unions -- a number likely considered inconceivable just a few short years ago. And yet, the same-sex marriage debate still begs for the answering of a question: Will this newfound public opinion, largely driven by young people, women and Democrats, have an effect on the Supreme Court's ultimate decision on the matter?


"I think (gay marriage is) just not a big deal for a lot of young people," Elizabeth Wydra of the Constitutional Accountability Center says. "The justices are human beings so they're not completely immune to public opinion. ... I think the real question for them is going to be do they want to be on the wrong side of history?"



Read More..

Today on New Scientist: 9 December 2012







Climate talks stumbling towards a deal

As the Qatar climate summit looks set to run into the weekend, we look at some key issues, such as compensation for poor countries harmed by climate change



Twin spacecraft map the mass of the man in the moon

Two satellites called Ebb and Flow have revealed the fine variations in the moon's surface with the most detailed gravity map ever



Just cut down on fat to shed weight

A review of studies involving 75,000 people shows that simply eating less fat made them lighter



North-east Japan quake rattles same fault as last year

A new quake off Japan's Pacific coast revives memories of 2011 tsunami; Fukushima nuclear power station "undamaged"



YouTube reorganises video with automated channels

Software that automatically classifies video into channels catering to specific interests is YouTube's latest ploy to become the future of television



A mathematician's magnificent failure to explain life

An attempt to explain life was career suicide for mathematician Dorothy Wrinch, we learn from Marjorie Senechal's biography I Died for Beauty



Parasite makes mice fearless by hijacking immune cells

The Toxoplasma parasite does its dirty work by getting immune cells to make a chemical normally found in the brain



'Specialist knowledge is useless and unhelpful'

Kaggle.com has turned data prediction into sport. People competing to solve problems are outclassing the specialists, says its president Jeremy Howard



Feedback: Numerical value of 'don't know'

The value of indifference, carbon-free sugar, scientists massacred in the nude, and more



Friday Illusion: 100-year-old quilt reveals 3D vortex

See a mind-bending effect crafted into a recently discovered quilt that changes depending on its colours and dimensions



Space-time waves may be hiding in dead star pulses

The first direct detection of gravitational waves may happen in 2013, if new studies of pulsars affected by galaxy mergers are correct



2012 Flash Fiction shortlist: Go D

From nearly 130 science-inspired stories, our judge Alice LaPlante has narrowed down a fantastic shortlist. Story five of five: Go D by Michael Rolfe



Captured: the moment photosynthesis changed the world

For the first time, geologists have found evidence of how modern photosynthesis evolved 2.4 billion years ago



Commute to work on the roller coaster train

A Japanese train based on a theme park ride could make getting around cleaner - and more fun



BSE infected cattle have prions in saliva

The discovery of tiny levels of prions in cow saliva might pave way for a test for BSE before symptoms develop, and raises questions about transmission



Space bigwigs offer billion-dollar private moon trips

Robots aren't the only ones heading to the moon. The Golden Spike Company will sell you a ticket whether you want to explore, mine or just show off



Human eye proteins detect red beyond red

Tweaking the structure of a protein found in the eye has given it the ability to react to red light that is normally unperceivable




Read More..

Psy apologises for past anti-US performances






SEOUL: South Korean megastar singer Psy, famed for his runaway hit "Gangnam Style", apologised Saturday for anti-American performances a decade ago, ahead of a planned show before US President Barack Obama.

In 2002 the singer smashed a model US tank at a protest over the American military presence in South Korea and the death of two South Korean teenagers who were struck by a US military vehicle.

Two years later he joined a performance of a song where he used controversial expletive-laden lyrics calling for the killing of "Yankees who have been torturing Iraqi captives".

"Kill their daughters, mothers, daughters-in-law, and fathers. Kill them all slowly and painfully," he rapped.

Psy performed the lyrics at a concert after a South Korean evangelist was beheaded by Islamist militants in Iraq during the US-led conflict, after Seoul rejected their demand to halt a troop deployment to the country.

"I will forever be sorry for any pain I have caused by those words," the 34-year-old singer said in a statement.

He said the performance and lyrics were part of a "deeply emotional reaction" to the war in Iraq and the death of the two schoolgirls that was "part of the overall anti-war sentiment shared by others around the world".

"While I'm grateful for the freedom to express one's self, I've learned there are limits to what language is appropriate and I'm deeply sorry for how these lyrics could be interpreted."

"I have been honoured to perform in front of American soldiers in recent months -- including an appearance on the Jay Leno show specifically for them -- and I hope they and all Americans can accept my apology."

News reports of the performances surfaced in the United States days before the pop sensation's planned performance at an annual "Christmas in Washington" concert on Sunday, which the Obama family is scheduled to attend.

Psy's "Gangnam Style" has become the most-watched video of all time on YouTube in just five months, garnering almost 906 million views.

The video has inspired thousands of online imitations of Psy's famous horse-ride dance, and flash mobs of tens of thousands in Paris, Rome and Milan.

- AFP/ck



Read More..

Career night for Noah









AUBURN HILLS, Mich. — To Ben Wallace, Joakim Noah always will be the bag-carrying and doughnut-fetching rookie he was when the two were teammates for part of the 2007-08 season.

So after Noah put up a game for the ages Friday night to lead the Bulls to a 108-104 comeback victory over the Pistons, the recently-retired Wallace rose from his baseline seat at the Palace of Auburn Hills and put Noah in a headlock.

"He said I should've had more rebounds and more points," Noah said, smiling. "But he's a hater. That's why I love him. I'm a hater too."

Noah's career-high 30 points, career-high 23 rebounds and six assists were enough to rally the Bulls from 17 points down to their 16th straight victory in this series.

Noah joined Charles Barkley, Dirk Nowitzki and Kevin Garnett as the only players in the last 25 seasons to post at least 30 points, 23 rebounds and six assists in a game. It's the first time a Bull reached those levels since Charles Oakley had 35 points, 26 rebounds and seven assists on March 15, 1986.

Noah also became the first Bull to post a 30-point, 20-rebound game since Marcus Fizer did so against the Magic on April 12, 2004.

"It's crazy to have numbers like that," Noah said. "It feels great to play well and win. But we have another one (Saturday), so we just have to move on."

Noah paused and smiled.

"Unfortunately," he said.

The Bulls' defense was unfortunate early as the Pistons shot 54.1 percent in the first half to build a 17-point lead.

"The second quarter was an abomination," coach Tom Thibodeau said.

But the Bulls closed the first half with a 14-2 run to pull within 55-50.

"That was critical," Thibodeau said.

Fittingly, Noah nudged the Bulls ahead for good with an offensive rebound, putback and three-point play to snap an 82-82 tie with 8 minutes, 7 seconds remaining. Noah's offensive rebound and dish to Carlos Boozer, who scored 24 points as all five starters reached double figures, produced a left-handed dunk and seven-point lead with 3:18 left.

"He's playing with that kind of effort every night," Kirk Hinrich said. "He goes to the board every time. It's amazing to watch that intensity."

Noah posted 20 points and 17 rebounds his last game here. He also once had a 21-point, 20-rebound effort during the 2010 playoffs against the Cavaliers.

But this was special.

"He was everywhere," Thibodeau said.

And now the schedule turns. Saturday's Knicks game begins a stretch of eight straight against teams in playoff position entering Friday night. The Knicks lead the Eastern Conference.

"They're flying high," Noah said. "They played very well against Miami the other day. They're going to be rested. They're playing probably the best basketball in the NBA right now. It's on us to come in ready."

You know Noah will be.

kcjohnson@tribune.com

Twitter @kcjhoop



Read More..

Plants Grow Fine Without Gravity


When researchers sent plants to the International Space Station in 2010, the flora wasn't meant to be decorative. Instead, the seeds of these small, white flowers—called Arabidopsis thaliana—were the subject of an experiment to study how plant roots developed in a weightless environment.

Gravity is an important influence on root growth, but the scientists found that their space plants didn't need it to flourish. The research team from the University of Florida in Gainesville thinks this ability is related to a plant's inherent ability to orient itself as it grows. Seeds germinated on the International Space Station sprouted roots that behaved like they would on Earth—growing away from the seed to seek nutrients and water in exactly the same pattern observed with gravity. (Related: "Beyond Gravity.")

Since the flowers were orbiting some 220 miles (350 kilometers) above the Earth at the time, the NASA-funded experiment suggests that plants still retain an earthy instinct when they don't have gravity as a guide.

"The role of gravity in plant growth and development in terrestrial environments is well understood," said plant geneticist and study co-author Anna-Lisa Paul, with the University of Florida in Gainesville. "What is less well understood is how plants respond when you remove gravity." (See a video about plant growth.)

The new study revealed that "features of plant growth we thought were a result of gravity acting on plant cells and organs do not actually require gravity," she added.

Paul and her collaborator Robert Ferl, a plant biologist at the University of Florida in Gainesville, monitored their plants from the Kennedy Space Center in Florida using images sent from the space station every six hours.

Root Growth

Grown on a nutrient-rich gel in clear petri plates, the space flowers showed familiar root growth patterns such as "skewing," where roots slant progressively as they branch out.

"When we saw the first pictures come back from orbit and saw that we had most of the skewing phenomenon we were quite surprised," Paul said.

Researchers have always thought that skewing was the result of gravity's effects on how the root tip interacts with the surfaces it encounters as it grows, she added. But Paul and Ferl suspect that in the absence of gravity, other cues take over that enable the plant to direct its roots away from the seed and light-seeking shoot. Those cues could include moisture, nutrients, and light avoidance.

"Bottom line is that although plants 'know' that they are in a novel environment, they ultimately do just fine," Paul said.

The finding further boosts the prospect of cultivating food plants in space and, eventually, on other planets.

"There's really no impediment to growing plants in microgravity, such as on a long-term mission to Mars, or in reduced-gravity environments such as in specialized greenhouses on Mars or the moon," Paul said. (Related: "Alien Trees Would Bloom Black on Worlds With Double Stars.")

The study findings appear in the latest issue of the journal BMC Plant Biology.


Read More..

Federal Agencies Brace for Deep Cuts Post-'Cliff'


Dec 7, 2012 4:22pm







gty barack obama john boehner ll 121206 wblog Federal Agencies Brace for Deep Cuts Post Cliff

Toby Jorrin/AFP/Getty Images


With the “fiscal cliff” quickly approaching, federal agencies are stepping up preparations for deep automatic budget cuts that will kick in Jan. 2 unless the White House and Congress can reach a deal.


The Office of Management and Budget told ABC News that a memo went out to federal agencies earlier this week seeking “additional information and analysis” in order to finalize spending cuts required if we go off the cliff.


The agencies are considering which workers to furlough, projects to put on hold and offices that will have to close.


The request follows the administration’s release of a 400-page report in September that outlined the budget areas to be impacted by the $1.2 trillion in automatic spending cuts and what percentages they would be slashed.


READ MORE: White House Details ‘Doomsday’ Budget Cuts


Billions of dollars could be slashed from defense operations and maintenance programs. Medicare would take a two-percent hit, trimming millions in payouts to health care providers. Scientific research programs would be gutted. Aid for the poor and needy would be sharply curtailed.


The report also detailed operations that would be exempt from any cuts, including active-duty military operations, nuclear watchdogs, homeland security officials, veterans care and other critical areas.


READ: Pentagon Begins Planning for ‘Cliff’ Cuts


Asked about the agency preparations underway, White House spokesman Jay Carney said Wednesday that OMB “must take certain steps to ensure the administration is ready to issue such an order should Congress fail to act.”


“Earlier this week, OMB issued a request to federal agencies for additional information to finalize calculations on the spending reductions that would be required,” Carney said.


“This action should not be read … as a change in the administration’s commitment to reach an agreement and avoid sequestration.  OMB is simply ensuring that the administration is prepared, should it become necessary to issue such an order,” he said. “OMB will continue to consult with agencies and will provide additional guidance as needed.  This is just acting responsibly because of the potential for this happening.”


Get more pure politics at ABCNews.com/Politics and a lighter take on the news at OTUSNews.com.


More ‘Fiscal Cliff’ Coverage From Today:




SHOWS: World News







Read More..

Space bigwigs offer billion-dollar private moon trips









































Robots aren't the only ones heading to the moon. The first private company offering regular trips to the lunar surface plans to start flights in 2020, shuttling people two at a time on exploratory missions. However, with an expected price tag of $1.4 billion per flight, or around $750 million per person, the trek would likely be out of reach for all but the wealthiest moonwalkers.











Today's announcement, at the National Press Club in Washington, DC backs up recent rumours that Alan Stern, a former administrator of NASA's Science Mission Directorate, had founded a company called Golden Spike in Colorado to run commercial moon trips.













Named for the final spike driven into the first US transcontinental railroad line, Golden Spike plans to market to governments, corporations and individuals to routinely send people to the moon for scientific purposes, to mine for resources or simply for prestige.












"Why the moon? Because it's close, because it's enormous, and because we think that there's going to be a strong market for it," says Stern. No tickets have yet been sold. But preliminary talks with space agencies in Asia and Europe are underway, he adds. "We see our main market as selling expeditions to foreign space agencies."











In 2010 President Barack Obama scrapped NASA's Constellation program for sending astronauts to the moon. Shortly afterwards, Stern convened a secret meeting of heavy-hitters in the space industry in Telluride, Colorado, to discuss the possibility of a private lunar mission. A four-month feasibility study led to the company's quiet founding later that year.












Beyond robots













Golden Spike now has several experienced directors and advisors, including Gerry Griffin, former director of NASA's Johnson Spaceflight Center, and Wayne Hale, former chief of NASA's space shuttle programme. It also boasts some colourful characters: Newt Gingrich, a former US presidential candidate who previously championed a lunar colony, and Mike Okuda, a set designer for the Star Trek franchise, are also on the advisory panel.











"One thing you can say about Stern is that he knows the game," says William Whittaker, CEO of Astrobotic Technology, one of many teams competing to put a robot on the moon and win the $20-million Google Lunar X Prize. "As NASA's former science director, he had a favoured insider's perspective. He knows people."













Although several of the firm's directors have NASA experience, Golden Spike will be a purely private enterprise that will not seek government funding, Stern says. The plan is to purchase a rocket and a crew capsule from one or more of the other private space enterprises that have sprung up in recent years, such as SpaceX or Blue Origin.












Golden Spike has signed contracts to begin development of a lunar lander and space suits. Its first lunar mission is expected to cost the company between $7 and $8 billion. To help cover expenses, the company plans to merchandise each mission, for instance, by selling the naming rights for their spacecraft.











Meanwhile, Space Adventures of Arlington, Virginia says it is on track to send people on flights that would circle the moon starting in 2016 or 2017. The price for each flight is $300 million, or $150 million per seat. There are two seats available for the maiden voyage, and one has already been sold, spokesperson Stacey Tearne told New Scientist.













Fred Bourgeois, head of FREDNET, another Lunar X Prize team, worries that the idea of sending people to the moon on private ships is premature. "We need to prove some things with robotic systems first, so we don't put lives at risk," he says. "I would not get on a private mission to the moon today, even though I would love to go."












But Stern says he's confident that robots will get to the moon's surface long before the first Golden Spike flights at the end of the decade. Human beings, he says, will then be needed for activities beyond the capabilities of a robot – from doing field geology to maintaining mining equipment. Says Stern: "We need to start now in order to be ready for the next phase."


















































If you would like to reuse any content from New Scientist, either in print or online, please contact the syndication department first for permission. New Scientist does not own rights to photos, but there are a variety of licensing options available for use of articles and graphics we own the copyright to.




































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Read More..

S. Korea urges North to spend on debt, not missiles






SEOUL: South Korea on Friday urged North Korea to repay millions of dollars in debt related to past food aid, and slammed the regime in Pyongyang for squandering scant resources on long-range missile tests.

The South provided the North with some 2.6 million tonnes of food worth US$720 million in six installments between 2000 and 2007.

The food aid was provided in the form of a cheap loan, with repayments to be made over 20 years. The first installment of US$5.83 million was due in June but was never paid, the Unification Ministry said.

Ministry spokesman Kim Hyung-Suk said Seoul's state-run Export-Import Bank had sent a message to North Korea's Foreign Trade Bank, warning that delay penalties would be charged.

"Without repaying the debt, the North's leadership plans to launch a missile at a time when its people are suffering from food shortages," Kim told reporters.

"It is wasting money that could feed its people for several years."

North Korea has announced plans to launch a long-range rocket -- ostensibly aimed at placing a satellite in orbit -- between December 10 and 22.

The United States and its key Asian military allies, South Korea and Japan, insist the launch is a disguised ballistic missile test that violates UN resolutions triggered by Pyongyang's two nuclear tests in 2006 and 2009.

In a report published Thursday, the unification ministry estimated that the North had spent US$1.3 billion dollars on it's long-range missile programme in 2012.

As well as food aid, the South has also lent the North equipment and materials worth US$140 million for railways and roads, and another US$88 million for developing light industry and natural resources.

The food and fertiliser aid ended after President Lee Myung-Bak took office in early 2008 and rolled back the "sunshine" policy of aid and engagement with the North.

- AFP/ck



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Preckwinkle blasts Emanuel, quickly backs off









Cook County Board President Toni Preckwinkle on Thursday quickly backed off a public barb she tossed at Mayor Rahm Emanuel for his crime-fighting strategy, marking the second time in a little more than three months she has toned down off-the-cuff remarks.

This time, the first-term Democrat retreated after saying the mayor and his hand-picked police superintendent, Garry McCarthy, were too focused on arrests as a solution to rising violence and not enough on improving a "miserable" public school system and beefing up youth programs.

"Clearly this mayor and this police chief have decided the way in which they are going to deal with the terrible violence that faces our community is just arrest everybody," Preckwinkle said during a question-and-answer session after delivering a Union League Club luncheon speech on her second anniversary in office. "I don't think in the long term that's going to be successful.

"We're going to have to figure out how to have interventions that are more comprehensive than just police interventions in the communities where we have the highest rates of crime. And they're almost all in African-American and Latino communities."

When Preckwinkle faced reporters minutes later, she said Emanuel is working to improve schools and youth programs. She added that her criticism of the public schools controlled by Emanuel was aimed at society as a whole and not the mayor personally.

The Emanuel flap follows Preckwinkle's remarks about former President Ronald Reagan. In late August, the blunt-talking Preckwinkle took aim at Reagan's legacy. Later she said she regretted saying he deserved "a special place in hell" for his role in the war on drugs.

At the luncheon Thursday, Preckwinkle was asked what she could do to address city violence, which has drawn national attention this year with a spike in the city's murder rate and brazen incidents like the fatal shooting of a young man at a funeral for a reputed gang member.

Preckwinkle said much of the problem results from a Chicago school system with a low high school graduation rate.

"We have contented ourselves with a miserable education system that has failed many of our children," Preckwinkle said, adding that more after-school enrichment and job-training programs were needed. "I'm talking about the kids who don't graduate, let alone the kids who graduate (who) don't get a very good education, even with a high school diploma."

Emanuel aides offered a restrained response.

"Mayor Emanuel strenuously agrees that a holistic approach is necessary to successfully address crime," Emanuel spokeswoman Sarah Hamilton said in a statement. "His multipart strategy ranges from improving early childhood education, providing a longer school day and creating re-engagement centers for youth, to delivering wraparound services, revitalizing the community policing program and working to prevent retaliatory actions by gangs.

"All of these work in tandem, but let's make no mistake, criminals deserve to be arrested," Hamilton wrote.

Emanuel and McCarthy have directed additional police resources into troubled South Side and West Side neighborhoods, combined with additional social services and community-building efforts. Emanuel also dedicated $9 million in additional funding next year for early childhood education, after-school programs and jobs, children's eye exams and programs that address domestic violence.

Reminded of those initiatives, Preckwinkle acknowledged that Emanuel is putting more city money into such programs, some of which are coordinated with the county. She said her criticism of schools wasn't directed at Emanuel, who appoints the Chicago Public Schools board and picks the system's CEO.

"This was a critique of all of us. It wasn't aimed at the mayor," said Preckwinkle, a former CPS high school history teacher.

The point, Preckwinkle said, is that education over the long run will do more to quell violence than arresting people and locking them up.

"You know unfortunately we live in a country in which we are much more willing to spend money on keeping people in prison than we are on educating them in our public schools," she said. "And that's disgraceful. It reflects badly on all of us."

She added, "I don't think we are going to arrest our way out of our violence problems."

Preckwinkle has frequently criticized a justice system that she says locks up African-American and Latino men in far greater numbers than their white counterparts, particularly for drug crimes, when studies show drugs are used in equal numbers across ethnic and racial boundaries.

<em><a href="mailto:hdardick@tribune.com">hdardick@tribune.com</a></em>

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Space Pictures This Week: Lunar Gravity, Venusian Volcano









































































































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John McAfee Out of Hospital, Back in Cell













Software millionaire John McAfee has been returned to an immigration detention cell in Guatemala after being rushed to a Guatemala City hospital via ambulance.


McAfee, 67 -- who soon may be deported back to Belize, where authorities want to question him about the shooting death of his neighbor -- was reportedly found prostrate on the floor of his cell and unresponsive.


He was wheeled into the hospital on a gurney. Photographers followed in pursuit right into the emergency room, but as emergency workers eased McAfee's limp body from the gurney and onto a bed and began to remove his suit, he suddenly spoke up, saying, "Please, not in front of the press."


Earlier today, McAfee had complained of chest pains, raising concerns he might be having a heart attack.


However, that did not appear to be the case. Hours after his emergency, hospital officials sent McAfee back to the detention center, telling ABC News they found no reason to keep him overnight.


In a phone interview overnight, McAfee told ABC News, "I simply passed out, everything went black."


He said he hit his head on the floor when he collapsed. McAfee explained that for the past 48 hours he hasn't eaten and had very little to drink.


McAfee had been scheduled to be deported to Belize, ABC News has learned. But a judge could stay the ruling if it is determined that McAfee's life is threatened by being in Belizean custody, as McAfee has claimed in the past several weeks.


McAfee's attorneys hope to continue delaying the deportation by appealing to the Guatemala's high court on humanitarian grounds.


Raphael Martinez, a spokesman for the Belize government, said that if McAfee is deported to Belize, he would immediately be handed over to police and detained for up to 48 hours unless charges are brought against him.


"There is more that we know about the investigation, but that remains part of the police work," he said, hinting at possible charges.


He added that a handover by Guatemala would be "the neighborly thing to do."


A spokesman for the U.S. embassy in Guatemala said that "due to privacy considerations," the embassy would "have no comment on the specifics of this situation," but that, "U.S. citizens are subject to the laws of the countries in which they are traveling or residing, and must work within the host countries' legal framework."






Guatemala's National Police/AP Photo













Software Founder Breaks Silence: McAfee Speaks on Murder Allegations Watch Video









John McAfee Interview: Software Mogul Leaves Belize Watch Video





Just hours before McAfee's arrest, he told ABC News in an exclusive interview Wednesday he would be seeking asylum in Guatemala. McAfee was arrested by the Central American country's immigration police and not the national police, said his attorney, who was confident his client would be released within hours.


"Thank God I am in a place where there is some sanity," said McAfee before his arrest. "I chose Guatemala carefully."


McAfee said that in Guatemala, the locals aren't surprised when he says the Belizean government is out to kill him.


"Instead of going, 'You're crazy,' they go, 'Yeah, of course they are,'" he said. "It's like, finally, I understand people who understand the system here."


But McAfee added he has not ruled out moving back to the United States, where he made his fortune as the inventor of anti-virus software, and that despite losing much of his fortune he still has more money than he could ever spend.


In his interview with ABC News, a jittery, animated but candid McAfee called the media's representation of him a "nightmare that is about to explode," and said he's prepared to prove his sanity.


McAfee has been on the run from police in Belize since the Nov. 10 murder of his neighbor, fellow American expatriate Greg Faull.


During his three-week journey, said McAfee, he disguised himself as handicapped, dyed his hair seven times and hid in many different places during his three-week journey.


He dismissed accounts of erratic behavior and reports that he had been using the synthetic drug bath salts. He said he had never used the drug, and said statements that he had were part of an elaborate prank.


Investigators said that McAfee was not a suspect in the death of the former developer, who was found shot in the head in his house on the resort island of San Pedro, but that they wanted to question him.


McAfee told ABC News that the poisoning death of his dogs and the murder just hours later of Faull, who had complained about his dogs, was a coincidence.


McAfee has been hiding from police ever since Faull's death -- but Telesforo Guerra, McAfee's lawyer in Guatemala, said the tactic was born out of necessity, not guilt.


"You don't have to believe what the police say," Guerra told ABC News. "Even though they say he is not a suspect they were trying to capture him."


Guerra, who is a former attorney general of Guatemala, said it would take two to three weeks to secure asylum for his client.


According to McAfee, Guerra is also the uncle of McAfee's 20-year-old girlfriend, Samantha. McAfee said the government raided his beachfront home and threatened Samantha's family.


"Fifteen armed soldiers come in and personally kidnap my housekeeper, threaten Sam's father with torture and haul away half a million dollars of my s***," claimed McAfee. "If they're not after me, then why all these raids? There've been eight raids!"


Before his arrest, McAfee said he would hold a press conference on Thursday in Guatemala City to announce his asylum bid. He has offered to answer questions from Belizean law enforcement over the phone, and denied any involvement in Faull's death.






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Chemical key to cell division revealed



































In each of our cells, most of the genetic material is packaged safely within the nucleus, which is protected by a double membrane. The biochemistry behind how this membrane transforms when cells divide has finally been unravelled, offering insights that could provide new ways of fighting cancer and some rare genetic disorders.












During cell division, the membrane that surrounds the nucleus breaks down and reforms in the two daughter cells. Researchers have been split on the precise mechanisms that govern membrane reformation. One view is that proteins alone control the membrane's transformations. Another possibility is that changes in lipids – a vast group of fat-related compounds – are responsible.












Experiments had failed to show which of these two ideas was right, because it was difficult to alter lipid levels in specific compartments of cells without affecting other cellular processes.












Banafshe Larijani at Cancer Research UK's London Research Institute and her colleagues have now overcome that hurdle. They came up with a technique that transforms a type of lipid called a diacylglycerol (DAG) into another lipid, within the nuclear membrane.











Chemical cascade













The technique involves inserting two fragments of DNA into the nucleus of a cell. This causes the cell to make two proteins: the first attaches itself to the nuclear membrane, the second floats around the cell. Adding a drug – rapalogue – to the mix causes the second protein to stick to the first, which in turn causes a chemical cascade that transforms the DAG into a different kind of lipid.












Crucially, they targeted a form of DAG that does not bind to proteins, so converting it into a different lipid does not affect any processes involving proteins in the cell.












The team tested the effect of this lipid manipulation on cell division in monkey and human cancer cells. The lower the level of DAG present in the nuclear membrane, the greater the membrane malformation and chance of cell death.












This demonstrates that lipids play a role in nuclear membrane reformation that does not depend on proteins.












Larijani says it "opens the door to finding ways to kill cancerous cells" by focusing on lipids that are important to the nuclear membrane's development.











Sausage pieces













As the nucleus divides, sausage-shaped fragments of its membrane float around the cell. The fragments have curved ends, and Larijani says that changes in lipid composition generate these curves, without which the fragments cannot reassemble correctly into new membranes.











More than a dozen rare genetic conditions such as Hutchinson-Gilford progeria syndrome, which is characterised by premature ageing in children, have been linked to irregularities in cell division. A better understanding of the way the nuclear membrane forms when cells divide could be key to treating these disorders.













The research also offers a new focus for preventing the irregular cell division that underlies many cancers.












"As a result of this work we now know with confidence that DAG plays a structural role in membrane dynamics," says Vytas Bankaitis, at the Texas A&M Health Science Center in College Station, who was not involved in the study. "If we could find a molecule with suitable characteristics, this manipulation could be done [in humans], which is something that has not really been considered before."












Journal reference: PLoS ONE DOI: 10.1371/journal.pone.0051150


















































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Beijing to allow visa-free transit trips






BEIJING: China will allow transit passengers from 45 countries including the US, Canada and all members of the EU to spend up to 72 hours in Beijing without a visa from next month, city authorities said.

The move would "strongly spur the development of the tourism industry, speed up building of an international city (and) expand contacts with the rest of the world," the Beijing Tourism Administration said on its website.

The policy only applies to travellers in transit to a third country, and not for return flights to the capital, whose attractions include the vast Forbidden City.

Eligible nationalities include the United States, Canada, European Union countries, Brazil, Argentina, Australia, South Korea, Japan and the United Arab Emirates.

The city will "starting on January 1, 2013, implement a policy allowing foreigners from 45 countries with visas and plane tickets to a third country to transit through Beijing for 72 hours without a visa", the tourism body said.

But travellers would "face punishment" if they left the capital and lawbreakers would be banned for life, Gao Huada, deputy director of the city's exit-entry bureau, was quoted in the China Daily as saying on Thursday.

China's financial hub Shanghai already allows some foreigners in transit to visit the city for 48 hours, its government says on its website, including those from the US, some European countries, Japan, South Korea and Singapore.

Other travellers passing through the country are required to remain in the airport.

Beijing's airport is the second busiest in the world, having handled 47 million passengers in the first seven months of this year, according to the industry body Airports Council International.

Shanghai airport ranks 20th busiest with 26 million travellers during the same period.

- AFP/ck



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Police break up dog fight in Dolton













Tribune illustration


Tribune illustration
(Tribune illustration / March 19, 2012)




















































Police rescued up to ten dogs from a dog fighting ring in Dolton on Wednesday night, authorities said.

Someone called police in the south suburb and told them about the dog fighting in the 1500 block of East 142nd Street and responding officers "were able to observe the incident and apprehend suspects at the scene," said TaQuoya Kennedy, a spokeswoman for Dolton.

“The dogs (pit bulls) showed signs of improper care and abuse / indications of dogfighting,” she said in a statement late Wednesday.“We have numerous suspects in custody, and we have called out the Cook County unit that investigats dog fighting to assist us with the charges and ongoing investigation.”

Cook County sheriff’s police were alerted to the dog fights by Dolton police and are assisting in the investigation.

“They called us immediately, knowing we handle this stuff all the time,” said Frank Bilecki, spokesman for the Cook County Sheriff’s Office.

Evidence technicians, animal crimes investigators and animal control are still at the scene, Bilecki said. 

"When police hit the building people fled out of there ... We’re told that there might be cameras. Police are going to be out there for a little bit gathering evidence," Bilecki said.

Two males are in custody, but their ages weren't immediately available, Bilecki said.

Kennedy said at least four dogs were found along with a makeshift ring. Bilecki said police found as many as 10.

pnickeas@tribune.com
Twitter: @peternickeas


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A 2020 Rover Return to Mars?


NASA is so delighted with Curiosity's Mars mission that the agency wants to do it all again in 2020, with the possibility of identifying and storing some rocks for a future sample return to Earth.

The formal announcement, made at the American Geophysical Union's annual fall meeting, represents a triumph for the NASA Mars program, which had fallen on hard times due to steep budget cuts. But NASA associate administrator for science John Grunsfeld said that the agency has the funds to build and operate a second Curiosity-style rover, largely because it has a lot of spare parts and an engineering and science team that knows how to develop a follow-on expedition.

"The new science rover builds off the tremendous success from Curiosity and will have new instruments," Grunsfeld said. Curiosity II is projected to cost $1.5 billion—compared with the $2.5 billion price tag for the rover now on Mars—and will require congressional approval.

While the 2020 rover will have the same one-ton chassis as Curiosity—and could use the same sky crane technology involved in the "seven minutes of terror"—it will have different instruments and, many hope, the capacity to cache a Mars rock for later pickup and delivery to researchers on Earth. Curiosity and the other Mars rovers, satellites, and probes have garnered substantial knowledge about the Red Planet in recent decades, but planetary scientists say no Mars-based investigations can be nearly as instructive as studying a sample in person here on Earth.

(Video: Mars Rover's "Seven Minutes of Terror.")

Return to Sender

That's why "sample return" has topped several comprehensive reviews of what NASA should focus on for the next decade regarding Mars.

"There is absolutely no doubt that this rover has the capability to collect and cache a suite of magnificent samples," said astronomer Steven Squyres, with Cornell University in New York, who led a "decadal survey" of what scientists want to see happen in the field of planetary science in the years ahead. "We have a proven system now for landing a substantial payload on Mars, and that's what we need to enable sample return."

The decision about whether the second rover will be able to collect and "cache" a sample will be up to a "science definition team" that will meet in the years ahead to weigh the pros and cons of focusing the rover's activity on that task.  

As currently imagined, bringing a rock sample back to Earth would require three missions: one to select, pick up, and store the sample; a second to pick it up and fly it into a Mars orbit; and a third to take it from Mars back to Earth.

"A sample return would rely on all the Mars missions before it," said Scott Hubbard, formerly NASA's "Mars Czar," who is now at Stanford University. "Finding the right rocks from the right areas, and then being able to get there, involves science and technology we've learned over the decades."

Renewed Interest

Clearly, Curiosity's success has changed the thinking about Mars exploration, said Hubbard. He was a vocal critic of the Obama Administration's decision earlier this year to cut back on the Mars program as part of agency belt-tightening but now is "delighted" by this renewed initiative.

(Explore an interactive time line of Mars exploration in National Geographic magazine.)

More than 50 million people watched NASA coverage of Curiosity's landing and cheered the rover's success, Hubbard said. If things had turned out differently with Curiosity, "we'd be having a very different conversation about the Mars program now."

(See "Curiosity Landing on Mars Greeted With Whoops and Tears of Jubilation.")

If Congress gives the green light, the 2020 rover would be the only $1 billion-plus "flagship" mission—NASA's largest and most expensive class of projects—in the agency's planetary division in the next decade. There are many other less ambitious projects to other planets, asteroids, moons, and comets in the works, but none are flagships. That has left some planetary scientists not involved with Mars unhappy with NASA's heavy Martian focus.

Future Plans

While the announcement of the 2020 rover mission set the Mars community abuzz, NASA also outlined a series of smaller missions that will precede it. The MAVEN spacecraft, set to launch next year, will study the Martian atmosphere in unprecedented detail; a lander planned for 2018 will study the Red Planet's crust and interior; and NASA will renew its promise to participate in a European life-detection mission in 2018. NASA had signed an agreement in 2009 to partner with the European Space Agency on that mission but had to back out earlier this year because of budget constraints.

NASA said that a request for proposals would go out soon, soliciting ideas about science instruments that might be on the rover. And as for a sample return system, at this stage all that's required is the ability to identify good samples, collect them, and then store them inside the rover.

"They can wait there on Mars for some time as we figure out how to pick them up," Squyres said. "After all, they're rocks."


Read More..

McAfee Arrested for Entering Guatemala Illegally













Eccentric software tycoon John McAfee, wanted in Belize for questioning in the shooting death of his neighbor, has been arrested in Guatemala for entering the country illegally, his Guatemala attorney told ABC News.


Before McAfee's arrest, he told ABC News in an exclusive interview he would be seeking asylum in Guatemala. McAfee was arrested by the Central American country's immigration police and not the national police, said his attorney, who was confident his client would be released within hours.


"Thank God I am in a place where there is some sanity," said McAfee, 67, before his arrest. "I chose Guatemala carefully."


McAfee said that in Guatemala, the locals aren't surprised when he says the Belizean government is out to kill him.


"Instead of going, 'You're crazy,' they go, 'Yeah, of course they are,'" he said. "It's like, finally, I understand people who understand the system here."


But McAfee added he has not ruled out moving back to the United States, where he made his fortune as the inventor of anti-virus software, and that despite losing much of his fortune he still has more money than he could ever spend.


In his interview with ABC News, a jittery, animated but candid McAfee called the media's representation of him a "nightmare that is about to explode," and said he's prepared to prove his sanity.


McAfee has been on the run from police in Belize since the Nov. 10 murder of his neighbor, fellow American expatriate Greg Faull.


During his three-week journey, said McAfee, he disguised himself as handicapped, dyed his hair seven times and hid in many different places during his three-week journey.


He dismissed accounts of erratic behavior and reports that he had been using the synthetic drug bath salts. He said he had never used the drug, and said statements that he had were part of an elaborate prank.






Johan Ordonez/AFP/Getty Images











John McAfee Interview: Software Mogul Leaves Belize Watch Video









John McAfee Interview: Software Millionaire on the Run Watch Video









John McAfee: Software Millionaire Not Officially a Suspect Watch Video





Investigators said that McAfee was not a suspect in the death of the former developer, who was found shot in the head in his house on the resort island of San Pedro, but that they wanted to question him.


McAfee told ABC News that the poisoning death of his dogs and the murder just hours later of Faull, who had complained about his dogs, was a coincidence.


McAfee has been hiding from police ever since Faull's death -- but Telesforo Guerra, McAfee's lawyer in Guatemala, said the tactic was born out of necessity, not guilt.


"You don't have to believe what the police say," Guerra told ABC News. "Even though they say he is not a suspect they were trying to capture him."


Guerra, who is a former attorney general of Guatemala, said it would take two to three weeks to secure asylum for his client.


According to McAfee, Guerra is also the uncle of McAfee's 20-year-old girlfriend, Samantha. McAfee said the government raided his beachfront home and threatened Samantha's family.


"Fifteen armed soldiers come in and personally kidnap my housekeeper, threaten Sam's father with torture and haul away half a million dollars of my s***," claimed McAfee. "If they're not after me, then why all these raids? There've been eight raids!"


Before his arrest, McAfee said he would hold a press conference on Thursday in Guatemala City to announce his asylum bid. He has offered to answer questions from Belizean law enforcement over the phone, and denied any involvement in Faull's death.


False Report of McAfee Arrest on Mexico Border


Over the weekend, a post on McAfee's blog claimed that he had been detained on the Belizean/Mexico border.


On Monday, a follow-up post said that the "John McAfee" taken into custody was actually a "double" who was carrying a North Korean passport with McAfee's name.


That post claimed that McAfee had already escaped Belize and was on the run with Samantha and two reporters from Vice Magazine.


McAfee did not reveal his location in that post, and a spokesman for Belize's National Security Ministry, Raphael Martinez, told ABC News on Monday that no one by McAfee's name was ever detained at the border and that Belizean security officials believed McAfee was still in their country.


However, a photo posted by Vice magazine on Monday with their article, "We Are With John McAfee Right Now, Suckers," apparently had been taken on an iPhone 4S and had location information embedded in it that revealed the exact coordinates where the photo was taken -- in the Rio Dulce National Park in Guatemala -- as reported by Wired.com.






Read More..