Still unsolved.

In 1989, the year the Berlin Wall began to fall, American artist Jim Sanborn was busy working on his Kryptos sculpture, a cryptographic puzzle wrapped in a riddle that he created for the CIA’s headquarters and that has been driving amateur and professional cryptographers mad ever since.

To honor the 25th anniversary of the Wall’s demise and the artist’s 69th birthday this year, Sanborn has decided to reveal a new clue to help solve his iconic and enigmatic artwork. It’s only the second hint he’s released since the sculpture was unveiled in 1990 and may finally help unlock the fourth and final section of the encrypted sculpture, which frustrated sleuths have been struggling to crack for more than two decades.

The 12-foot-high, verdigrised copper, granite and wood sculpture on the grounds of the CIA complex in Langley, Virginia, contains four encrypted messages carved out of the metal, three of which were solved years ago. The fourth is composed of just 97 letters, but its brevity belies its strength. Even the NSA, whose master crackers were the first to decipher other parts of the work, gave up on cracking it long ago. So four years ago, concerned that he might not live to see the mystery of Kryptos resolved, Sanborn released a clue to help things along, revealing that six of the last 97 letters when decrypted spell the word “Berlin”—a revelation that many took to be a reference to the Berlin Wall.

o that clue today, he’s adding the next word in the sequence—“clock”—that may or may not throw a wrench in this theory. Now the Kryptos sleuths just have to unscramble the remaining 86 characters to find out.

Spain too has health care problems.

Spain’s Health Minister Ana Mato has resigned after a judge accused her of benefitting from illegal payments.

Her ex-husband, Jesus Sepulveda, was found to be linked to a huge corruption case involving the ruling People’s Party.

A court issued a formal ruling which signalled that Ms Mato had no knowledge of any possible crime.

The scheme caused a scandal for PM Mariano Rajoy, who apologised after party members were arrested by police.

Ms Mato has not been named as an official suspect in the case, but will have to sit in during court hearings, judicial sources have told Spanish press.

In a statement, Ms Mato said she had not herself been linked with any crime but that she was standing down for the good of the government.

Judges have been investigating the so-called Gurtel network, a huge scheme involving illegal party donations or kickbacks from businesses seeking contracts.

It is the largest pre-trial investigation in the history of Spain’s criminal court, and involves many Popular Party officials and public figures.

Plastic populates our world through everything from electronics to packaging and vehicles. Once discarded, it resides almost permanently in landfills and oceans. A discovery by researchers at North Dakota State University, Fargo, holds scientific promise that could lead to a new type of plastic that can be broken down when exposed to a specific type of light and is reduced back to molecules, which could then be used to create new plastic. …

… The research team focuses on biomass, using oilseed from agricultural crops, cellulose, lignin and sucrose to generate building blocks of molecules that are made into polymers to create plastics. One of the grand challenges for the 21st century is sustainability that lessens dependency on fossil fuels. NDSU, in association with the North Dakota Experimental Program to Stimulate Competitive Research (ND EPSCoR), established the Center for Sustainable Materials Science to develop a program for the preparation of polymers and composites using biomass, a renewable resource.

I guess this was to be expected.

Australian average incomes are falling with the country’s population growth “masking underlying economic weakness,” according to a QUT economist.

Dr Mark McGovern, a senior lecturer in QUT’s Business School, said while it was regularly proclaimed Australia had experienced positive economic growth for more than 20 years, there had been periodic per capita declines, indicating the economy was not as healthy as assumed.

“Looking at national income figures in recent years shows our economy is under stress,” Dr McGovern, whose research was recently published in the Economic Analysis and Policy journal, said.

“For example, according to Australian Bureau of Statistics figures, Gross Domestic Product (GDP) per capita peaked in the June 2008 quarter, fell for three periods then took six further quarters to revisit the 2008 high in the September 2010 quarter.

“But if you look at Real net National Disposable Incomes per capita, which is how much money people are receiving, the 2011 December quarter income peak was at $13,406 with $13,156 estimated for June 2014. This is a per capita income drop of $250, or two per cent over ten quarters.

“The overall GDP has continued to increase slightly, but that is the result of population growth, which is masking underlying economic weakness.”

This has been going on for a while.

School lunches have always been … well, …school lunches. But now we have someone to blame.

Schools across America are celebrating Thanksgiving with their annual feast of turkey and vegetables. And this year, students are giving thanks in another way—with a touch of sarcasm.

First lady Michelle Obama, champion of healthy eating, was on the receiving end of the “thanks” when students shared photos of their unappetizing lunches and skimpy servings.

I think that I was in the fourth grade when my mother had to start giving me lunch boxes the same size as my fatehre’s. He was a full time / over time commercial carpenter.

It must be nice to have leadership with ‘courage’.

Nicolas Sarkozy, the former French president, implored members of his UMP party to vote against the upcoming December 2 vote in France’s Parliament to decide whether or not to recognize a Palestinian state.

“I ask my friends to vote against [the resolution],” he said, going on to refer to the terror attack in a Jerusalem on November 18 in which five people were killed by Palestinian terrorists as a reason to vote against the proposition.

“I will fight for the Palestinians to have their state. But unilateral recognition a few days after a deadly attack and when there is no peace process? No!”

Sarkozy said he would never question Israel’s need for security and said that “this is the fight of my life.”

Israeli officials said this vote, unlike those held recently in other European parliaments, is likely to come up against a substantial minority voting against. Israel’s representatives in Paris have been working with both the government and opposition parties to mobilize opposition to the resolution.

Day by Day

Guest Column: The Disturbing Heroes of Dutch Muslim Youth

Raising taxes and zero interest rates have worked so well.

The White House on Tuesday threatened to veto an emerging deal that would restore several lapsed tax breaks, bringing into the open tensions between President Obama and the top Senate Democrat.

Jennifer Friedman, a White House spokeswoman, said the deal being hashed out between Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) and House Ways and Means Chairman Dave Camp (R-Mich.) gave far too much to business interests, and far too little to the middle-class.

“The president would veto the proposed deal because it would provide permanent tax breaks to help well-connected corporations while neglecting working families,” Friedman said, just hours after reports emerged that a $450 billion deal on the tax breaks was close at hand and that negotiators hoped to wrap it up by Tuesday.

The White House veto threat upended those talks, underscoring that both Obama and House Democrats had some problems with the agreement that Reid was negotiating.

Soney hacked?

Sony Pictures’ computer network has reportedly come under cyberattack, with hackers threatening to release key information from the Japanese group’s entertainment division.

Sony did not respond to a request for comment on Tuesday. But the news site The Next Web reported that all Sony employees at the Los Angeles unit were ordered home and to stay off the company network.
A source within Sony told the news site that “a single server was compromised and the attack was spread from there.”

Protests in Hong Kong.

Thousands of demonstrators surged into a Hong Kong neighborhood on Tuesday, defying a police attempt to shrink one of the pro-democracy protest camps that have filled some streets in the city for nearly two months. A police clearance operation in the daytime gave way to a night of angry crowds facing off against officers, who used batons and pepper spray to push back.

Hundreds of police officers had assembled on Tuesday to enforce a court injunction demanding that protesters stop blocking Argyle Street in Mong Kok, a crowded commercial neighborhood where demonstrators have camped since late September. Two sites in other areas of Hong Kong are also occupied by protesters, who are demanding fully democratic elections for the city’s leader.

An anti-propaganda agency?

The success of a central Israeli anti-propaganda agency would depend on both the quality of its staff and the availability of government funds.

Limited blogging.

Too much going on.

Bummer …

NC cancels contract with federal health-care official Gruber over ‘stupidity of voters’ comment

Tape over your web cam.

An international bust of people illegally using remote-access Trojans (RATs) to hijack people’s webcams last week led to the arrest of 16 people across Europe.

The UK National Crime Agency said on Friday that five people had been arrested in the UK, and another man was brought in for voluntary questioning.

It never really stood much of a chance of working.

Chuck Hagel forced to step down as Secretary of Defense

Israel starts using dogs. … Finally.

Following the wave of terror attacks, dogs have joined the country’s security forces active in the Israeli capital city. Yesterday, a special training was held on the Mount of Olives, after the dogs were already taking part in efforts to restore the peace to Jerusalem.

The National Dog Unit consists of patrol dogs. 15 volunteers and 10 dogs arrived yesterday in Jerusalem in order to fulfill this purpose. In the framework of the training, the dogs simulate terror attacks and neutralize potential terrorists.

People with the unit toured with the dogs, handing out fliers and setting up booths around the city to recruit volunteers who want to learn how to be dog trainers.

I find this odd.

I think that it is safe to assume that Switzerland already has a lot of Nazi art that is not on ‘public’ display. And has not been since WWII.

The Bern Art Museum has been named sole heir of Cornelius Gurlitt, the recluse who kept the collection of 1,280 artworks hidden for decades.

Over two years after the discovery of missing masterpieces looted by the Nazis from their Jewish owners, German officials and a Swiss museum are expected to confirm on Monday that the paintings will go to Switzerland.

The Bern Art Museum discovered in May it had been named sole heir of Cornelius Gurlitt, the recluse who kept the collection of 1,280 artworks hidden for decades until tax inspectors stumbled upon them on a visit to his Munich apartment in 2012.

Strange U.S. tax law gets London Mayor.

Boris Johnson, the mayor of London, has attacked tax collectors in the U.S. after revealing he has an unpaid bill which could be worth hundreds of thousands of dollars.

An incredulous Johnson revealed on live radio that he faces an ‘outrageous’ charge from the IRS on profits made from selling his home – because he holds dual U.S. citizenship.

The British politician, who beats Prime Minister David Cameron in opinion polls and has been touted as a potential successor, was born in New York City and lived in the United States until he was five. …

… The relevant tax for 2009 sales was 15 per cent, which would give him a total bill of $171,000.

Bombing in Afghanistan.

Suicide bomber kills 40 at volleyball match in Afghanistan

The man had entertainment value.

Former Washington, D.C. Mayor Marion Barry died early Sunday at the age of 78, according to multiple reports. …

… Barry remained a beloved figure to many D.C. voters. He won a fourth term as mayor after his release from prison and lost only once at the polls in an electoral history stretching back to 1971.

D.C. Mayor Vincent Gray said in a statement that he will work with Barry’s family to “Plan official ceremonies worthy of a true statesman of the District of Columbia.”

I think I’ve made this mistake before.

Jordan rules out plan to ban Muslim Brotherhood

I guess this wasn’t Turkey Creek Colorado.

Geez …

Three days after she married her boyfriend in a temple, a 21-year-old Delhi University student was murdered by her parents and secretly cremated.

Police said Jagmohan and Savitri Yadav, residents of southwest Delhi’s Dwarka, strangled Bhawna on November 15 for marrying outside the caste. They have confessed to the murder and were arrested on Tuesday, DCP (southwest) Suman Goyal said.

Bhawna, a third-year student of Sri Venkateswara College, married Abhishek Seth, 24, a contractual assistant programmer at Rashtrapati Bhawan, at Arya Samaj Mandir in Connaught Place on November 12. They had met at a party two years ago.

It was a shotgun wedding. Bhawna’s parents, who disapproved of the relationship, had fixed her engagement to a man from their caste on November 22. “They decided to marry, hoping her parents would come around,” said a friend of the couple.

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