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Archive for August 2011

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The 2012 Vote

Opinion Survey shows Wide Margin of Disparity Between Muslims and Others on Obama

August 30th 2011

Islamic Topics - Muslim American girl with flag

In a wide-ranging opinion survey conducted by the Pew Research Center, Muslims living in the U.S. show little apprehension as the 10th anniversary of the 9/11 attacks approaches. Completed this year, the comprehensive public opinion survey found no indication of increased alienation or anger among Muslim Americans in response to concerns about home-grown Islamic terrorists, controversies about the building of mosques, according to Pew. In a summary of the survey, the Pew website declared “Muslims in the United States continue to reject extremism by much larger margins than most other Muslim publics, and a higher percentage views U.S. efforts to combat terrorism as sincere than did so in 2007. At the same time, majorities of Muslim Americans express concerns about Islamic extremism here and abroad - worries that coexist with the view that life in post-9/11 America is more difficult for U.S Muslims.” The study was released on August 30. Read more ..


Edge on Health

Commonly Prescribed Anti-Biotic Reduces Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease Attacks

August 30th 2011

Health/Medicine - nurse w/stethoscope

Adding a common antibiotic to the usual treatment regimen for chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) can reduce acute exacerbations –sudden onsets of worsened cough, wheeze, and labored breathing – and improve quality of life, reports a new clinical trial funded by the National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute (NHLBI), part of the National Institutes of Health.

The University of Michigan Health System and Veterans Administration Ann Arbor Healthcare System, under the direction of lung specialists Fernando Martinez, M.D., M.S., and Jeffrey Curtis, M.D., were one of 10 centers involved in the large-scale clinical trial. Martinez and his colleagues in U-M’s Division of Pulmonary and Critical Care Medicine provided key preliminary data supporting antibiotic treatment and were involved in the trial’s design.

Findings appeared in the New England Journal of Medicine.

“Exacerbations account for a significant part of COPD’s health burden,” said Susan Shurin, M.D., acting director of the NHLBI. “These promising results with azithromycin may help us reduce that burden and improve the lives of patients at risk of these acute attacks.” Read more ..


The Battle for Libya

Libyan Rebels Take a Premature Victory Lap

August 30th 2011

Libya Topics - Libyan rebels celebrate

The war in Libya is over. More precisely, governments and media have decided that the war is over, despite the fact that fighting continues. The unfulfilled expectation of this war has consistently been that Moammar Gadhafi would capitulate when faced with the forces arrayed against him, and that his own forces would abandon him as soon as they saw that the war was lost.

What was being celebrated last week, with presidents, prime ministers and the media proclaiming the defeat of Gadhafi, will likely be true in due course. The fact that it is not yet true does not detract from the self-congratulations.

For example, Italian Foreign Minister Franco Frattini reported that only 5 percent of Libya is still under Gadhafi’s control. That seems like a trivial amount, save for this news from Italian newspaper La Stampa, which reported that “Tripoli is being cleaned up” neighborhood by neighborhood, street by street and home by home. Meanwhile, bombs from above are pounding Sirte, where, according to the French, Gadhafi has managed to arrive, although it is not known how. The strategically important town of Bali Walid — another possible hiding place and one of only two remaining exit routes to another Gadhafi stronghold in Sabha — is being encircled. Read more ..


The Obama Edge

Has The Obama Administration’s Outreach Affected Muslim Attitudes toward Terrorism and Terrorists?

August 30th 2011

Obama Admin Topics - Arab Street Obama Cairo

Prominent U.S. officials have claimed that only dwindling numbers of isolated extremists support terrorists engaged in violent attacks against Americans. Survey research on Muslim publics’ attitudes reveals a different picture, one that undermines this interpretation. Evidence from key Arab states and some other important Muslim states (Pakistan, Nigeria) is reviewed. Markedly hostile views toward the security interests of the United States and its allies are shown to exist, despite efforts of the Obama administration. Since anti-U.S. terrorism retains the support of significant minorities, recruitment of much smaller numbers of actual terrorists should be expected to continue.

Introduction

In the second decade of the twenty-first century, the national security of the United States and its allies continues to be threatened by mass casualty terrorism arising from non-state actors, militants inspired by their particularly extreme reading of the tenets of Islam. Recruitment to this cause is a global phenomenon not localized to the several venues in which U.S. armed forces currently are engaged in combat operations. Thus, improving cooperation with U.S. objectives has become a high priority in relations with Muslims in general, as well as with Muslim populations in key foreign states. How effective have recent steps taken by the United States been? Read more ..


The Race for Nuclear

Risk to Nuclear Plants in Hurricane’s Path May Not be As Great As Some Fear

August 30th 2011

Energy / Environment - Irene hits NYC 08/29
Irene Makes Landfall in NY (credit: NASA/NOAA GOES Project)

As Hurricane Irene bore down on the East Coast, the nuclear industry assured the public that the storm wouldn’t damage the dozens of reactors in its path. The industry’s watchdogs also expressed less concern about the hurricane’s potential impact on nuclear reactors than about the vulnerability of the exposed connections between them and the rest of the world.

One concern surrounds the electric grid—the lines that transmit power to cities and homes. Another concern is the reliability of electricity that supplies the reactors themselves, and ensures safe operation of the plant. (For other more likely nightmare scenarios, see reports of the risks of earthquakes and fires.) Read more ..


The Obama Edge

State Department Spends Emergency Dollars on Parties

August 30th 2011

Politics - Truman Bldg/State Dept HQ

Money from a State Department fund meant for urgent needs—such as evacuating diplomats from posts in Egypt or Libya—has been spent on a kitchen renovation, holiday and retirement parties, and on white suits for President Obama’s inauguration.

An audit by the department’s inspector general raises questions about whether State Department officials have gone beyond the purpose of a law allowing U.S. diplomatic officials to tap into a so-called “K Fund.” The money is set aside for “unforeseen emergencies arising in the diplomatic and consular service,” such as moving personnel out of suddenly unstable regimes, rewarding tipsters for information about terrorist activities, and defraying the unexpected costs of visiting officials. Read more ..


Mexico’s Wars

Mexican War on Drugs Undermined by Political Demagoguery

August 30th 2011

Mexican Topics - Felipe Calderon in 2009
President Felipe Calderón

As in the United States, the Mexican campaign season for president is now in full swing.
One of the main issues being debated by the current crop of presidential hopefuls prior to Mexico’s July, 2012 presidential elections is whether or not the current policy of fighting the drug cartels is sustainable.

President Felipe Calderón and his party, the Party for National Action (PAN) are being attacked by the Revolutionary Institutional Party (PRI) and by the Democratic Revolutionary Party (PRD) because of Calderón’s heavy hand on the drug cartels. The PRI has openly stated that if elected it will seek some sort of accommodation with the drug cartels.

This kind of rhetoric is not merely political demagoguery but stems from a large amount of public discontent with Calderón’s war on the cartels. There is a sense among large sectors of the population who argue that if it weren’t for the war on drugs there would not have been such large numbers of victims. So far, 40,000 people have died since early 2006.

What is worse, many in Mexico believe that the war on drugs is not a Mexican problem but an American problem. They can understand why Americans are concerned but believe the U.S. is at the root of the problem since that is where the demand for narcotics comes from. The belief is that since Mexico is only a distributor (and even the producer of some drugs), and if the demand were not there, their way of life would not be disturbed. Read more ..


Religious Freedom

Roger Cohen Discovers Antisemitism

August 30th 2011

UK Topics - BU Blackshirts 1930s
British Union “Blackshirts”

For some years, New York Times columnist Roger Cohen thrived in his role as a bête noire of pro-Israel advocates in the United States. In his writings on Iran, especially, Cohen attracted considerable ire for discounting Israel’s anxieties about the nuclear ambitions of the ruling mullahs, and for generally pushing the idea that the unresolved Palestinian question lies at the heart of the myriad conflicts in the Middle East and wider Islamic world.

And then he moved to London.

Back in the city where he grew up, Cohen has now—as his latest column announces—discovered that antisemitism is not some dastardly fabrication of the Israel lobby, but a real phenomenon experienced on many levels by many Jews. Off the back of that revelation, Cohen declares himself nostalgic for those same assertive Jews with whom he tussled back in the States.

Here, in brief, is what lay behind this sudden transformation. Visiting his sister’s house, he ran into her lodger, who, having noticed Cohen fiddling with his BlackBerry, referred to it as a “JewBerry.” Cohen didn’t follow. The lodger then explained that the free messaging services that come with the device make it a “JewBerry,” because Jews are always on the lookout for something free. Read more ..


Energy vs Environment

What Risks are Posed by an Earthquake beneath a Reactor near You?

August 30th 2011

Energy / Environment - North Anna NPC
North Anna Power Station

The Nuclear Regulatory Commission said two reactors were taken offline near Lake Anna in central Virginia, near the epicenter of Tuesday’s earthquake, which shook buildings up and down the east coast. Other plants, including some in Pennsylvania, Maryland and New Jersey, declared “unusual events” requiring further scrutiny.

The NRC, in an April inspection meant to identify potential risks from an earthquake at the North Anna Power Station, noted earthquake “vulnerabilities” found there. Specifically, the NRC report notes that portions of water and gaseous suppression systems and hose stations “are not seismically designed.”

The report noted that “potential leakage can occur through penetrations following seismic event.” Read more ..


The Battle for Libya

Libyan Rebels Will Not Extradite Lockerbie Bomber

August 29th 2011

Libya - Abdelbaset al-Megrahi (Lockerbie bomber) Welcomed to Libya
Abdelbaset al-Megrahi’s Welcome to Libya

Libya’s rebel government said August 28 that it will not extradite Abdelbaset al-Megrahi, the Libyan man convicted in the 1988 bombing of a U.S.-bound jetliner which killed 270 people when it exploded over Lockerbie, Scotland.

Mohammed al-Alagi, the Transitional National Council’s justice minister, told reporters in Tripoli that Abdel Baset al-Megrahi already has been tried and convicted in Scotland for bombing Pan Am flight 103. He said the rebels will not hand over Libyan citizens as former leader Moammar Gadhafi did.

Later Sunday, CNN television reported that al-Megrahi had been found in Tripoli and appeared “near death.”

Nic Robertson, a correspondent for the network, said he found al-Megrahi at a spacious villa in the Libyan capital guarded by at least six security cameras and attended to by relatives. Read more ..


Economic Recovery on Edge

Judge Rules in Favor of Military Retirees who Traded Pensions for Lump Sum Payments

August 29th 2011

Economy - Kathie and Louis Kroot
Kathie and Louis Kroot (credit: Lee P. Thomas/iWatch News)

A new development follows the previously published the story of Structured Investments , a California company that gives lump-sum payments to military retirees in exchange for their pension payments. These agreements are often equivalent to a loan at an annual rate of 30 percent or more. This week, a judge in Orange County, Calif., delivered a blow to the company, issuing a preliminary ruling that Structured violates federal laws prohibiting the “assignment” of military pay to someone else.

“The defendant’s practice is unscrupulous and substantially injurious” to retirees, Judge David Velasquez wrote. Read more ..


Animal Edge

Hyenas’ Ability to Count Helps them Decide to Fight or Flee

August 28th 2011

Animals - Sarah Benson-Amram
Sarah Benson-Amram

Being able to count helps spotted hyenas decide to fight or flee, according to research at Michigan State University. When animals fight, the larger group tends to win.

In the current issue of Animal Behaviour, Sarah Benson-Amram, an MSU graduate student studying zoology, showed that hyenas listen to the sound of intruders’ voices to determine who has the advantage.

“They’re more cautious when they’re outnumbered and take more risks when they have the numerical advantage,” said Benson-Amram, who conducted the study through MSU’s BEACON Center for the Study of Evolution in Action. “Hyenas appear to be as capable as chimpanzees or lions at assessing their advantage.”

The finding supports the concept that living in complex social groups, as hyenas, lions and chimpanzees do, is one of the keys to the evolution of big brains, Benson-Amram added.

Even though spotted hyenas live in clans of up to 90 individuals, they spend much of the day in much smaller, more vulnerable groups. When researchers played recordings of potential intruders, the hyenas’ reaction depended on how many voices they heard compared to how many fellow pack members surrounded them. Groups of three or more hyenas were far more likely to approach the source of sound than pairs or individuals. Read more ..


The Battle for Libya

Post Qaddafi: Insurgency and Jihad versus Democracy

August 28th 2011

Libya Topics - Muammar Ghadafi as Charlie Chaplin

By seizing most of Tripoli and fighting what's left of the pockets of resistance of Qaddafi forces, Libyan rebels have now almost dislodged the old regime and are expected to begin building their own government. The most pressing question within the international community and in Washington is about the immediate to medium-term future of the country. Will the Transitional National Council swiftly install its bureaucracies in Tripoli and across the country? Will Qaddafi's supporters accept the new rule or will they become the new rebels? And most importantly, are the current rebels united in their vision for a new Libya?

Libya's foreign minister says Qaddafi has exhausted all of his options after rebels take over Tripoli compound.
Read more ..


The 2012 Vote

527 Group Wanes after Newt's Summer Implosion

August 28th 2011

Presidential - Newt Gingrich

The Newt Gingrich money machine that raised $52 million in just four years to promote his ideas and image, American Solutions for Winning the Future, has quietly gone belly up.

Gingrich set up the 527 group in 2007, but it began to lose fundraising steam almost as soon as the former House Speaker launched his presidential bid in May, according to Joe Gaylord, the group’s chairman. It closed its doors early last month, an apparent casualty of Gingrich’s beleaguered presidential drive.

To make his bid for the GOP nomination, Gingrich had to sever his ties with the 527, as federal election law requires for candidates, and that proved to be a big blow to its growth and ongoing operations, Gaylord said.

According to a filing with the IRS on August 18, the 527 spent $2.9 million in the first six months of the year, but only raised $2.4 million in the same period. Read more ..


The Digital Edge

White Space Frequencies Offer Tremendous Potential for Wireless Communications

August 28th 2011

Computer Topics - Motorola droid

Cambridge Consultants has released a report discussing the foremost business opportunities in wireless technologies enabled by White Space frequencies, predicting the development of the first White Space consumer devices in the next five years. The report entitled: ‘White Space radio: High Street Hit or Left In the Lab?’ is the culmination of a White Space workshop hosted by Cambridge Consultants, and brings together experts from across the wireless and broadcast industries including representatives from Nokia, Samsung, BBC, BSkyB, Neul and CSR to discuss White Space technology.

Consensus from the report views the use of White Space radio as an inevitability, addressing a critical need for redressing methods of spectrum usage and opening up new possibilities for wireless devices. Read more ..


Film Reviews

One Day: A Movie that Shows a Director's Promise

August 28th 2011

Film - One Day

One Day. Director: Lone Scherfig; Starring: Anne Hathaway, Jim Sturgess, Sébastien Dupuis. Length: 90 mins.

How hard could it be for a former scholar of Winchester College to remember the legend associated with the patron saint of Winchester cathedral?

St Swithun’s day if thou dost rain,
For forty days it will remain;
St Swithun’s day if thou be fair,
For forty days ’twill rain nae mare
[sic].

Dexter (Jim Sturgess), the scholar aforementioned, is the principal male character in One Day and he has a vague recollection that there is such a legend. Also that it is somehow associated with the weather. More than that, however, he cannot say when he meets Emma (Anne Hathaway) on St. Swithun’s day (July 15th), 1988, after a night of revelry ensuing upon their graduation from Edinburgh University.

I’m only guessing here, mind you, but I think that David Nicholls, adapting his own best-selling novel for the screen, and director Lone Scherfig (An Education, Italian for Beginners) were thinking that Dexter would be more charming for forgetting (he is also drunk) than he would be for remembering. Bad call. At any rate, I don’t find him so, nor do I find him otherwise very prepossessing. In fact, he is little better than a lout, and by the time I saw him (inevitably) educated out of his loutishness, it was too late for me, at any rate, to feel much sympathy for him. Read more ..


Film Review

Our Idiot Brother: Ambivalence about Hippy Siblings

August 27th 2011

Film - Our Idiot Brother

Our Idiot Brother: Director: Jesse Peretez. Starring: Evgenia Peretz, Paul Rudd, Zooey Deschanel, Elizabeth Banks, Emily Mortimer. Length: 90 mins.

Having made his big-screen debut as a California high school version of Jane Austen’s Mr. Knightley in Clueless (1995), Paul Rudd is beginning to look more and more like Hollywood’s ideal leading man of the new century. Mild-mannered, unthreatening and vaguely feminine in his sensitivity and ability to express feeling, he manages to make the post-"Seinfeld" man-boy ideal look almost plausible in movies like I Love You, Man (2009) and How Do You Know(2010).

I wonder, however, if his star turn as the aging hippie naif Ned in Our Idiot Brother isn’t rather a reductio ad absurdum of what is becoming the Paul Rudd type? The movie, directed by Jesse Peretz and co-written by his sister, Evgenia (the children of Martin Peretz of The New Republic) with her husband, David Schisgall, starts with the highish concept of Ned as such an innocent that, in the vignette we are shown above the opening credits, he sells some marijuana to a uniformed police officer (Bob Stephenson). The movie begins, then, with his release from the county lockup to find that his pre-jail girlfriend, Janet (Kathryn Hahn), has not only dumped him for Billy (T.J. Miller), who might be his twin, mentally at least, but also claimed as her own his beloved dog, Willy Nelson.

Janet, though ostensibly a hippie pacifist herself, clearly has a thing for compliant and submissive males like Ned, who has been educated to her requirements in the hard school of his own female-dominated family. Now jobless and homeless, he is forced to crash, first, with his alcoholic mother (Shirley Knight) and then with one or another of his three beautiful and accomplished sisters, Liz (Emily Mortimer), Miranda (Elizabeth Banks) and Natalie (Zooey Deschanel), all of whom regard this family black sheep as something of a project to try to set onto some path to responsible adulthood. Perhaps you will not be shocked to learn that, from the Hollywood point of view anyway, the sisters have more to learn from Ned than Ned has to learn from the sisters. Gosh! Bet you didn’t see that one coming. Read more ..


Edge on Anthropology

Caveman Sex and Ancient Inter-Breeding Yielded Immunilogical Benefits for Future Generations

August 27th 2011

Science - Neanderthal

For a few years now, scientists have known that humans and their evolutionary cousins had some casual flings, but now it appears that these liaisons led to a more meaningful relationship.

Sex with Neanderthals and another close relative — the recently discovered Denisovans — has endowed some human gene pools with beneficial versions of immune system genes, report researchers at the Stanford University School of Medicine in an article published online in Science Express.

Although modern humans, Neanderthals and Denisovans share a common ancestor in Africa, the groups split into separate, distinct populations approximately 400,000 years ago. The Neanderthal lineage migrated northwestward into West Asia and Europe, and the Denisovan lineage moved northeastward into East Asia. The ancestors of modern man stayed in Africa until 65,000 years or so ago, when they expanded into Eurasia and then encountered the other human-like groups. In some cases, the rendezvous were amorous in nature.

Last year, a partial genome sequence of Neanderthals, who died out approximately 30,000 years ago, revealed that these trysts left as much as 4 percent Neanderthal DNA in the genetic blueprint of some present-day humans. Last December, the genome of another human cousin, the extinct Denisovans, made clear that up to 6 percent of some people's genomes are Denisovan in origin. Read more ..


Mexico and the US

Changes and Challenges in a New Mexico Border Town

August 27th 2011

Mexican Topics - US/Mexico border marker

Down a country lane in southern New Mexico‘s Mesilla Valley, a new walk-path and park took shape as the summer heat beat relentlessly down upon the land.

While a similar project might not even draw so much as a wink in a bigger community, residents of the rural community of Vado-Del Cerro are “very excited” about getting a new recreational space, says Vado Village Council Chair Mitch Boyer. According to the community leader, donations from private businesses and individuals are bringing the project to completion.

Constructed with the assistance of the non-profit organization Groundwork Dona Ana and its crew of youth workers, the building of the walk-path/park presented an opportunity to take a stroll down memory lane.

The late Boyer family patriarch and African-American community pioneer Francis Boyer once lived near the construction site, and an adjoining, small pecan orchard belonging to one of Mitch Boyer’s cousins still shades this slice of Dona Ana County just north of the US-Mexico border. A graduate of the old school, Boyer recalls growing up in Vado, in an era before computer games, text-messaging and Facebook absorbed the attention of the young. Read more ..


Edge on Health

Handheld Gene-Z Device shows Promise for Detecting Cancer in Underdeveloped Countries

August 27th 2011

Science - Gene Z device demo
Syed Hashsham demonstrates Gene-Z

An engineering researcher and a global health expert from Michigan State University are working on bringing a low-cost, hand-held device to nations with limited resources to help physicians detect and diagnose cancer.

Syed Hashsham, a professor of civil and environmental engineering at MSU, is developing the Gene-Z device, which is operated using an iPod Touch or Android-based tablet and performs genetic analysis on microRNAs and other genetic markers. MicroRNAs are single-stranded molecules that regulate genes; changes in certain microRNAs have been linked to cancer and other health-related issues.

He is working with Reza Nassiri, director of MSU's Institute of International Health and an assistant dean in the College of Osteopathic Medicine, on the medical capabilities for the device and establishing connections with physicians worldwide.

Cancer is emerging as a leading cause of death in underdeveloped and developing countries where resources for cancer screening are almost non-existent, Nassiri said. Read more ..


The 2012 Vote

Al Gore Bashes Rick Perry on Claims that Scientists Manipulate Data for Money

August 27th 2011

Politics - Gov Rick Perry
Texas Gov. Rick Perry (R)

Former Vice President Al Gore on August 26 bashed the notion that climate scientists are manipulating data for financial gain, a charge levied by global warming skeptics, including GOP White House hopeful Rick Perry. “This is an organized effort to attack the reputation of the scientific community as a whole, to attack their integrity, and to slander them with the lie that they are making up the science in order to make money,” Gore said in an online interview.

“These scientists don’t make a lot of money. They are comfortable, as they should be, but they don’t make a lot of money. That is not their motivation for doing what they do,” Gore added.

His comments came in a wide-ranging interview with Alex Bogusky, a prominent former advertising executive who is working with Gore on the former vice president’s Climate Reality Project. Read more ..


Edge on Terrorism

Deadly al Qaeda-linked Car Bomb Levels U.N. building and Rocks Nigeria's Capital

August 26th 2011

Africa Topics - Nigeria car bomb

A car bombing in the Nigerian capital, Abuja, has leveled part of a U.N. building and killed at least 18 people.

Witnesses say the explosion occurred late morning on August 26 when a car rammed through two gates and into the U.N. compound.

Former VOA employee Josephine Kamara dropped her husband off for work at the U.N. building shortly before the blast. She described the scene in an interview, saying "All the way up to the top floor, there are shattered windows. There is debris. There are mangled iron rods all over the place."

The eyewitness continued, "I see a lot of the U.N. staff's family members are standing out here. Also, it looks like the entire Abuja police force has actually come to the U.N. building. They are trying to get casualties out. Those that are badly hurt have been taken to the hospital."

U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-Moon has condemned the attack. "Around 11 a.m. this morning local time, the UN house in the Nigeria capital Abuja was struck by a car bomb. These buildings house 26 humanitarian and development agencies of the UN family. This was an assault on those who devote their lives to helping others," he said. Read more ..


PEPCO's Last Chance

August 26th 2011
As we await Hurricane Irene, it is PEPCO's last chance to prove it has a right to exist. If once again, my office and my home are thrown into prolonged blackouts, days-long power outages, than I agree with the others. PEPCO should then pay every penny of the damage, and be liquidated. Its assets should be used to bury the lines and deliver renewable energy. We can only pray.

The Race for Solar

Eco-Friendly Renewable Battery gets Solar Boost with Israeli Technology

August 26th 2011

Energy Topics - Solar panels

Batteries are everywhere - not just in iPods and smart phones. They power billions of devices, but they are expensive and aren't always easy to change. Israeli startup Sol Chip has a cure for the battery blues - an eco-friendly renewable battery power technology that integrates photovoltaic energy sources (PV) with low-power electronic devices (VLSI).

For a good example of Sol Chip's breakthrough, check out today's large dairy farms. Low-power radio frequency identification (RFID) tags are used to keep track of the herd's location, milk production and registration details while protecting the cows against disease and theft. When the tags eventually run out of power, replacing their batteries isn't practical since the tags have to remain sealed against humidity and rain. So farmers end up having to attach a new tag at great trouble and expense. Read more ..


Edge of Terrorism

Prominent Son of Murdered Governor Abducted in Lawless Pakistan

August 26th 2011

PakistanTopics - Shahbaz taseer
Shahbaz Ali Taseer

Shahbaz Ali Taseer - son of the slain Governor Punjab Salman Taseer - was kidnapped by armed men in Lahore, Pakistan. According to eye witnesses, Shahbaz Taseer was going towards his company office "World Call" located at 103C2 Gulberg Lahore, at around 10:54 a.m. Just a few meters away from the office, a motorcycle intercepted Taseer`s Mercedes Benz SLK 200, bearing the license plate LZT 1. When he stopped, more than 4 armed men came out of a black Toyota Land Cruiser and kidnapped him at gun point.

The abductors threw away Shahbaz Taseer`s iPhone, 2 cell phones and the laptop and drove towards DHA ( Defence Housing Authority) over the Calgary Bridge. Read more ..


War Against the Weak

Author Black Lectures at Virginia Tech on Eugenic Genocide

August 26th 2011

Book Covers - War Against the Weak

Award-winning author and investigative journalist Edwin Black will deliver a multimedia presentation entitled, "Eugenics-- From Virginia to Auschwitz" on August 28 at the campus of Virginia Tech University in Blacksburg VA. Virginians from across the state will be driving to the campus to hear Black speak. Among the groups will be groups of Native Americans victimized by state eugenics.

Black's many books have included IBM and the Holocaust, The Farhud, and War Against the Weak. The latter of these recounts the growth of the pseudo-science known as eugenics that was funded by corporate America and which sought to eliminate so-called ‘unfit’ people such as African-Americans, Native Americans, and the poor, through sterilization abetted by local and state governments. Black follows the connections between American eugenicists and their funders and supporters, such as Henry Ford and the Carnegie Institution, to Adolf Hitler and the logical terminus of their inhuman philosophy in the gas chambers of Auschwitz.

Author Black uses exhaustive research and dynamic literary style to bring alive the testimony of the victims of pseudo-science and intolerance in our own country and abroad. He will stop at Virginia Tech while travelling as a scholar-in-residence invited to North Carolina where, after speaking at several major universities, he will address the state legislature, which is currently considering legislation offering compensation to victims of forced sterilization. Click here to see lecture schedule.

In the early twentieth century and into the 1930s, over 60,000 people in the U.S. were forcibly sterilized in state institutions. The sterilizations were justifed because of the alleged criminality (generally poverty) of the victims, their race, intelligence, or perceived promiscuity, among other reasons. Virginia was the epicenter of the rash of sterilizations, having been the first place were eugenic genocide took place under official auspices. In next door North Carolina, over 7,600 people sterilizations took place that were assigned by a state eugenics board. Some victims were as young as 10 years old. This was done, said Black, to ostensibly improve the human race by eliminating undesirable humans. Read more ..


The Oceanic Edge

Twisted Whales' Tale of Asymmetrical Skulls and Directional Hearing

August 26th 2011

Science - whale skull

Skewed skulls may have helped early whales discriminate the direction of sounds in water and are not solely, as previously thought, a later adaptation related to echo-location. University of Michigan researchers report the finding in a paper being published online in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.

Asymmetric skulls are a well-known characteristic of the modern whale group known as odontocetes (toothed whales). These whales also have highly modified nasal structures with which they produce high-frequency sounds for echolocation -- a sort of biological sonar used to navigate and find food. The other modern whale group, mysticetes (baleen whales), has symmetrical skulls and does not echolocate.

These observations led scientists to believe that archaeocetes -- the extinct, ancient whales that gave rise to all modern whales -- had symmetrical skulls, and that asymmetry later developed in toothed whales in concert with echolocation. But a new analysis of archaeocete skulls by U-Michigan postdoctoral fellow Julia Fahlke and coauthors shows that asymmetry evolved much earlier, as part of a suite of traits linked to directional hearing in water. Read more ..


The Nano Edge

Delicate Nanoscale Biological Balancing Act has Applications for Nanotechnology

August 26th 2011

Science - superclusters of nano thingys

A delicate balance of atomic forces can be exploited to make nanoparticle superclusters that are uniform in size—an attribute that's important for many nanotech applications but hard to accomplish, University of Michigan researchers say. The same type of forces are at work bringing the building blocks of viruses together, and the inorganic supercluster structures in this research are in many ways similar to viruses.

U-Michigan chemical engineering professors Nicholas Kotov and Sharon Glotzer led the research. The findings are newly published online in Nature Nanotechnology.

In another instance of forces behaving in unexpected ways at the nanoscale, they discovered that if you start with small nanoscale building blocks that are varied enough in size, the electrostatic repulsion force and van der Waals attraction force will balance each other and limit the growth of the clusters. This equilibrium enables the formation of clusters that are uniform in size. Read more ..


Edge on Education

Professors Reach out to Students' Cellphones and Laptops through LectureTools

August 26th 2011

Computer Topics - Google tablet HOneycomb

This fall, more than 4,000 University of Michigan students in nearly 20 classes will be utilizing LectureTools, an interactive presentation tool that harnesses the potential of laptops and cell phones to serve as learning aids rather than distracting devices.

Perry Samson, an atmospheric science professor who has taught courses with hundreds of students in them, designed LectureTools as a way to improve student interaction and retention in large lectures.

"The key is to engage students through their laptops or cellphones, so they don't drift off onto social networking sites," said Samson, an Arthur F. Thurnau Professor in the Department of Atmospheric, Oceanic and Space Sciences. "We've shown we can do that." Read more ..


The Medical Edge

Breakthrough Discovery of Human Immune Response to the Flu

August 26th 2011

Social Topics - Big sneeze

Why do some folks who take every precaution still get the flu, while others never even get the sniffles?

It comes down to a person's immune system response to the flu virus, says Alfred Hero, professor at the University of Michigan College of Engineering. In one of the first known studies of its kind, Hero and colleagues from Duke University Medical Center and the Duke Institute for Genome Sciences & Policy, used genomics to begin to unravel what in our complex genomic data accounts for why some get sick while others don't. The study findings will appear in PLoS Genetics. Read more ..


Inside Latin America

Bolivia's Indigenous Peoples Divided over Controversial Cross-Amazon Highway

August 26th 2011

Latin American Topics - Bolivia protests

Several indigenous groups in Bolivia are protesting against the construction of a highway that will cross the Indigenous Territory and Isiboro Secure National Park (ITISNP) area, their homeland. The reserve is in fact threatened by the construction of this road which will connect the traffic of goods from the Pacific to the Atlantic. About a year ago, indigenous people managed to obtain the suspension of the project for one year. Now that the first stretch of road and the beginning of the works have been approved, indigenous groups, including the Moxeño, Yuracaré and Chimánare nations, are protesting publicly.

This is the biggest series of demonstrations in Bolivia since the violent convulsions of 2008, when scores of people were killed in confrontations with security forces over the nationalization of Bolivia's rich natural gas resources.

The first demonstration, which reached the capital, La Paz, began on August 2 and brought together three different indigenous nations, which are opposed to the route that will pass through the territories they call "the big house." The new road will stretch from the municipality of Villa Tunari, in the Department of Cochabamba in Bolivia's highlands, to Bolivia's capital city of La Paz. This would ultimately be connected to a highway stretching across Brazil to Bolivia's Amazonian lowlands. Read more ..


The Medical Edge

Evidence Grows that Resistant HIV/AIDS is Spread by Those Receiving Therapy

August 25th 2011

Science - HIV AIDS virus

Since HIV infection rates began to rise again around 2000, researchers have been grasping for answers on what could be causing this change, especially in the homosexual community. The rising numbers are a stark contrast to the 1990's, when infection rates dropped due to increased awareness of the virus. A new study in Israel reveals that the number of new HIV cases diagnosed each year in the last decade saw a startling increase of almost 500 percent compared to the previous decade, and similar trends have been reported in a number of other developed nations, including the U.S.

According to Prof. Zehava Grossman of Tel Aviv University's School of Public Health at the Sackler Faculty of Medicine and the Central Virology Laboratory of the Ministry of Health, a new approach to studying HIV transmission within a community has yielded a disturbing result. By cross-referencing several databases and performing a molecular analysis of the virus found in patients, an astonishingly high number of newly-diagnosed men with male sexual partners were found to have contracted the virus from infected, medicated partners who are already aware of their HIV-positive status. Read more ..


Recovery on Edge

Impediments to Wealth

August 25th 2011

Contributors / Staff - Armstrong_Williams

There are literally hundreds of impediments that prevent people from building wealth. Whether they are particularly complex (misreading the stock market) or extremely simple (miscalculating your budget), these impediments can literally keep you and your family from financial stability. Various people face various hurdles, but one thing is for sure: every living person will face obstacles along their wealth-building path.

After careful examination, I have found that most impediments fit into four basic realms: family, education, social, and personal. Within each of these realms, most people encounter at least one obstacle that they need to overcome to reach their potential wealth. By analyzing each realm, you will better understand what impediments to be aware of and how to overcome them.

Family

If you want to build wealth, you must take care of your family life. First, make sure you only marry and begin having children when you are ready. Marrying too early or having unplanned children can greatly impede your chance for financial stability. Those who rush into marriage or parenthood often are forced to take dead-end jobs or sacrifice their education to make money.

Because they become forced to support their family, they lose the opportunity to train for bigger and better jobs that would allow them to reach financial stability. In general, if your family life is stable, your financial life will be a lot easier to improve. Read more ..


The Battle for Libya

Dividing the Spoils in Post-Gadhafi Libya

August 25th 2011

Libya - Gadhafi statue gets kicked

With the end of the Gadhafi regime seemingly in sight, it is an opportune time to step back and revisit one of the themes we discussed at the beginning of the crisis: What comes after the Gadhafi regime?

As the experiences of recent years in Iraq and Afghanistan have vividly illustrated, it is far easier to depose a regime than it is to govern a country. It has also proved to be very difficult to build a stable government from the remnants of a long-established dictatorial regime.

History is replete with examples of coalition fronts that united to overthrow an oppressive regime but then splintered and fell into internal fighting once the regime they fought against was toppled. In some cases, the power struggle resulted in a civil war more brutal than the one that brought down the regime. In other cases, this factional strife resulted in anarchy that lasted for years as the iron fist that kept ethnic and sectarian tensions in check was suddenly removed, allowing those issues to re-emerge. Read more ..


The Battle for Libya

Libyan Rebels using Unmanned Micro-Helicopters Made in Canada

August 25th 2011

Technology - Aeryon Labs Scout

Unmanned aerial vehicles are nothing new to the U.S. military, which has used them extensively for reconnaissance and combat in the Mideast and Central Asia. Larger UAVs, piloted remotely from the U.S., have condeucted reconnaissance overflights as well as missile attacks in Afghanistan and Pakistan, for example. U.S. military personnel in theatre are also using smaller versions.

But until recently no such technology was available to the rebels fighting to overthrow the four-decades-long dictator of Muammar Gadhafi of Libya. Aeryon Labs, a firm based in Canada, has provided their UAVs that are flying high over the oil-rich country and contributing to the eventual downfall of the dictator. Units of the Libyan rebels received training from Aeryon and have been using them to gather intelligence the positions of Libyan government forces and coordinate resistance efforts. Read more ..


Film Reviews

Page One: NYT and its Self-Importance

August 25th 2011

Film - Page One movie

Page One: Inside the New York Times. Director: Andrew Rossi. Length: 88 minutes.

Watching Page One: Inside The New York Times by Andrew Rossi reminded me a bit of reading the Times itself: it's all a jumble of odd and unrelated stories held together and, indeed, utterly overshadowed by one thing and one thing only, namely, the paper's massive and unreflective self-importance. That's why when it brings before the camera one Michael Hirschorn, a man who wrote a piece for the Atlantic a couple of years ago suggesting that the Times might go out of business soon, it is only so that he and his article can be held up to ridicule from the Times-men who are treated so sympathetically by Mr. Rossi.

Can Mr. Hirschorn, they wonder, really be so preternaturally stupid as to imagine that the Times could ever go out of business? It's the Times, for God's sake!

A documentary whose main purpose is puffery is not likely to have much success with anything else it tries to do, and Mr. Rossi's veneration of his heroes at The New York Times leaves little room for anything else anyway. The heroes are, especially, Bill Keller, the paper's Executive Editor at the time the movie was made who has since stepped down in favor of Jill Abramson, Bruce Headlam, the media editor, and, above all, David Carr, media columnist. There's also a blogger named Brian Stelter whom Mr. Carr jokingly claims, is "a robot assembled in the basement of the New York Times to come and destroy it" but who is clearly a Times-man through and through. Read more ..


The Edge of Terrorism

Norway Needs a Single Standard Against Terrorism

August 25th 2011

Israel Topics - Svein Sevje - Norway Ambassador to Israel
Svein Sevje, Norway’s Ambassador to Israel

In a recent interview, Norway’s Ambassador to Israel has suggested that Hamas terrorism against Israel is more justified than the recent terrorist attack against Norway. His reasoning is that, “We Norwegians consider the occupation to be the cause of the terror against Israel.” In other words terrorism against Israeli citizens is the fault of Israel. The terrorism against Norway, on the other hand, was based on “an ideology that said that Norway, particularly the Labor Party, is foregoing Norwegian culture.” It is hard to imagine that he would make such a provocative statement without express approval from the Norwegian government.

I can’t remember many other examples of so much nonsense compressed in such short an interview. First of all, terrorism against Israel began well before there was any “occupation”. The first major terrorist attack against Jews who had long lived in Jerusalem and Hebron began in 1929, when the leader of the Palestinian people, the Grand Mufti of Jerusalem, ordered a religiously-motivated terrorist attack that killed hundreds of religious Jews—many old, some quite young. Read more ..


Nicaragua on Edge

Murder of Nicaraguan priest Stirs Up Popular Resentment during Presidential campaign

August 25th 2011

Latin American Topics - Nicaraguan crime unit
Nicaraguan criminal forensics unit

The Catholic Church in Nicaragua confirmed on August 23 that a body recovered that morning at the Kilometre 16 marker on the road from Managua to Leon was indeed that of Fr. Marlon Ernesto Pupiro Garcia of the province of Masaya. According to the Archdiocese of Managua, Fr. Pupiro had been missing since August 20 under as yet to be discovered circumstances. The sacristan for Fr. Marlon's parish in the town of La Concha, José Ignacio Moraga Sánchez, told local media that the priest arrived on time every day to open the church for the morning liturgy. On the morning of August 20, when the priest did not arrive, the sacristan walked along the road but did not find him.

The press office of the Archdiocese of Managua said that the priest's body was brought to La Purisima parish, in the municipality of La Concepcion, Masaya province, where the Metropolitan Archbishop Jose Brenes Solarzano and Auxiliary Bishop Silvio Baez and the clergy of the archdiocese celebrated a memorial Mass on the evening of August 23. Read more ..


After the BP Spill

Gulf of Mexico Oil Spill Claims Process has “Largely Succeeded,” Says Feinberg

August 25th 2011

Disaster - Gulf Oil Spill Sat Image 2010-05-24

One year after launching a program to compensate the victims of the massive Gulf of Mexico oil spill, administrator Kenneth Feinberg said Tuesday the process has “largely succeeded,” while acknowledging some initial missteps.

President Obama tapped Feinberg last year to head up the claims process. Feinberg established the Gulf Coast Claims Facility (GCCF) with the aim of doling out the $20 billion BP set aside to compensate victims of the spill and clean up the region.

“I think overall we’ve largely succeeded in getting money out to eligible claimants,” Feinberg said.

Feinberg has come under fire from Gulf Coast lawmakers and others, who argue that he has not moved quickly enough to compensate the victims of the spill. At the same time, BP has argued that the GCCF’s claims formula is overly generous. Read more ..


The Race for EVs

Ford Plans Solar Panel Option

August 25th 2011

Technology - Ford Focus/Solar Panel

Ford and SunPower Corp have teamed up to offer customers a rooftop solar system that will provide enough clean, renewable energy to offset the electricity used to charge the vehicle. “Under the ‘Drive Green for Life' program, Focus Electric owners can reduce their total cost of ownership by generating enough energy from their high efficiency SunPower rooftop solar system to offset the electricity required to charge the vehicle at night,” said Mike Tinskey , Ford director of Global Vehicle Electrification and Infrastructure. “It's an eco-friendly solution that perfectly complements our plug-in products and other green initiatives.” Read more ..



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