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When purple things are pulsating on your mind, I'm the one whose clock you want to clean. Aiding is Sparky, the Astral Plane Zen Pup Dog from his mountain stronghold on the Northernmost Island of the Happy Ninja Island chain, this blog will also act as a journal to my wacky antics at an entertainment company and the progress of my self published comic book, The Deposit Man which only appears when I damn well feel like it. Real Soon Now.

Saturday, April 25, 2009

US journalist jailed in Iran goes on hunger strike

TEHRAN, Iran (AP) — The American journalist convicted of spying in Iran has gone on a hunger strike to protest her imprisonment, her father said Saturday.

Roxana Saberi, a 31-year-old dual American-Iranian citizen, was convicted of spying for the United States and sentenced to eight years in prison after a swift, closed door trial earlier this month.

Saberi was arrested in late January and initially accused of working without press credentials, but earlier this month, an Iranian judge leveled the far more serious allegation of espionage.

"She went on a hunger strike Tuesday to protest her imprisonment. Today is the fifth day," Reza Saberi told The Associated Press. "She will remain on hunger strike until she is freed."

Her father said Roxana's lawyer, Abdolsamad Khorramshahi, has appealed the sentence.

"The lawyer filed his appeal today," he said.

Iran's judiciary chief, Ayatollah Mahmoud Hashemi Shahroudi, ordered a full investigation into the case Monday, a day after President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad urged Tehran's chief prosecutor to ensure Saberi be allowed a full defense during her appeal.

It is the first time Iran has found an American journalist guilty of spying, and it is unclear how it would affect recent overtures by the Obama administration for better relations and engagement with Washington's longtime adversary.

The case has been a source of tension with the U.S. at a time when President Barack Obama is trying to open a dialogue with Iran to end a decades-long diplomatic standoff. The U.S. has called the accusations against Saberi baseless and demanded her release.

Iran's judiciary spokesman Ali Reza Jamshidi said Tuesday that the appeals court would reconsider the verdict, an indication her sentence could be commuted.

Saberi, who was born in the United States and grew up in Fargo, North Dakota, moved to Iran six years ago and worked as a freelance journalist for news organizations including National Public Radio and the British Broadcasting Corp. She received Iranian citizenship because her father was born in Iran.

Iran has released few details about the charges against Saberi but Iran's Intelligence Minister Gholam Hossein Mohseni Ejehi said Tuesday that the initial investigation of Saberi was done by an expert on security and counterespionage at the Intelligence Ministry before her case was referred to the court.

An Iranian investigative judge involved in the case alleged that Saberi was passing classified information to U.S. intelligence services.

Her parents have traveled to Iran from their home in Fargo in a bid to help win their daughter's release.

Reza Saberi, right, father of U.S. journalist Roxana Saberi, who has been convicted of spying and sentenced to eight years in prison, shows a family picture at their home in Tehran Monday April 20, 2009. The parents of an American journalist imprisoned in Iran for allegedly spying for the U.S. visited their daughter Monday for the first time since she was sentenced to eight years in prison and said she was in good condition. (AP Photo/Vahid Salemi)

Saberi's father has said his daughter, who was Miss North Dakota in 1997, had been working on a book about the culture and people of Iran, and hoped to finish it and return to the United States this year.

Mars rover recovers from bout of amnesia
Three times in the past two weeks, Spirit has failed to record data

NASA / JPL-Caltech
Spirit looks back at its tracks on Sol 1861 of its mission on Mars. Its immobile right-front wheel, which forces the rover to drive backwards, churned up bright soil. The edge of Home Plate forms the horizon on the right side of this image. Husband Hill is on the horizon on the left side. The parallel rover wheel tracks are about 40 inches apart.

NASA's Mars Exploration Rover Spirit is back on track. The robotic rover drove on Thursday for the first time since April 8 after its recent bout of amnesia.

Spirit was acting on commands from engineers who are still investigating the cause behind Spirit's recent glitches.

The drive took Spirit about 5.6 feet (1.7 meters) toward destinations about(about 500 feet (150 meters) away. The rover has already operated more than 20 times longer than its original prime mission on Mars. Spirit and its twin Opportunity landed on Mars more than five years ago.

This week, rover engineers at NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, Calif., judged that it would be safe to send Spirit commands for Thursday's drive. They also anticipated that, if the rover did have another amnesia event, the day's outcome could be helpful in diagnosing those events.

Three times in the past two weeks, Spirit has failed to record data from a day's activity period into non-volatile flash memory. That is a type of computer memory where information is preserved even when power is off, such as when the rover naps to conserve power.

"We expect we will see more of the amnesia events, and we want to learn more about them when we do," said JPL's Sharon Laubach, chief of the rover sequencing team, which develops and checks each day's set of commands.

The team is also investigating two other types of problems Spirit has experienced recently: failing to wake up for three consecutive communication sessions about two weeks ago and rebooting its computer on April 11, 12 and 18. Engineers have not found any causal links among these three types of events.

After checking last week whether moving the rover's high-gain antenna could trigger problems, routine communication via that dish antenna resumed Monday.

Spirit has maintained stable power and thermal conditions throughout the problem events this month, although power output by its solar panels has been significantly reduced since mid-2007 by dust covering the panels.

"We decided not to wait until finishing the investigations before trying to drive again," Laubach said. "Given Spirit's limited power and the desire to make progress toward destinations to the south, there would be risks associated with not driving."

The team has made a change in Spirit's daily routine in order to aid the diagnostic work if the rover experiences another failure to record data into flash memory.

To conserve energy, Spirit's daily schedule since 2004 has typically included a nap between the rover's main activities for the day and the day's main downlink transmission of data to Earth. Data stored only in the rover's random-access memory, instead of in flash memory, is lost during the nap, so when Spirit has a flash amnesia event on that schedule, the team gets no data from the activity period. The new schedule puts the nap before the activity period. This way, even if there is a flash amnesia event, data from the activity period would likely be available from RAM during the downlink.

One the other side of Mars, Opportunity completed drives of 315 feet (96 meters) Tuesday, 449 feet (137 meters) Wednesday and 95 meters 312 feet (95 meters) Thursday in its long-term trek toward a crater more than 20 times larger than the biggest it has visited so far.


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