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Archive for May 2012

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Israel on Edge

‘Land for Peace’ (1967 – 2012)

May 31st 2012

Clinton Peace

Next week will mark the forty fifth anniversary of one of the greatest periods of drama in Israel’s history, the Six Day War. Mortal danger was overcome in a victorious routing of Israel’s enemies, however amid the jubilation, was born the bastard child of foreign interests and youthful Israeli naiveté, the ‘Land for Peace’ concept.

Just nine days following the termination of hostilities, the National Unity Government of Israel voted unanimously to return the Sinai to Egypt and the Golan Heights to Syria in return for peace agreements. Following Israel’s lead, the United Nations Security Council quickly drafted Resolution 242 broadening the ‘Land for Peace’ concept to include ‘territories occupied in the recent conflict’ which was adopted unanimously on November 22nd 1967.

From that moment on, this concept has served as the basis of most all diplomatic discussion pertaining to the cessation of hostilities in the region. Yet almost half a century later, while much land has been surrendered, there is still no peace. Recent developments in Egypt have placed the oft touted Begin-Sadat ‘Land for Peace’ success case study on very thin ice. Read more ..


The Edge of Justice

Israel to Indict Journalist for Revealing Secret Protocols for Assassination

May 31st 2012

Paper Stack

Israeli law enforcement officials announced yesterday that it was prepared to indict a major publication's journalist for revealing secret military protocols that address assassinations of Palestinian terrorist leaders, according to Israeli sources.

Israel's Attorney General Yehuda Weinstein formally charged reporter Uri Blau of the Israeli newspaper Ha'aretz with illegal possession of top secret army documents. Weinstein claimed they had "great potential" for damaging Israel's security, the Israeli police source stated.

"The exposure of the documents or the possibility they would reach hostile groups would have caused damage to the state's security and risk the lives of IDF (Israel Defense Forces) soldiers," read a statement by Weinstein. "Unlike the United States government, the Israeli leaders have no qualms about arresting and prosecuting a journalists who compromises national security. In the U.S., the leftists would make the man a hero," said former intelligence officer and NYPD detective Sid Franes.

The journalist was reportedly interrogated in Oct. 2010 for his role in acquiring and then publishing details contained in more than 1,500 secret and top-secret military documents. Read more ..


Britain and Israel

Is Prince Charles Headed to Israel?

May 31st 2012

Prince Charles

Prince Charles may become the first senior member of the Royal Family to visit Israel, according to Eric Moonman, President of the Zionist Federation

“There will be a chance for a senior royal to go to Israel, although it’s unlikely to be the Queen because of her diary and the prominence she gives the Commonwealth,” Moonman said.  ”So it falls to Prince Charles, or perhaps even Prince William and Princess Catherine.”

It is Prince Charles’ interest in the environment and Israel’s advancemenets in technology and the green sector, that might induce the prince to travel to the Jewish state.

“People who are close to him have told me he has kept abreast of countries which have made a real impression in that area,” Moonman said. “Prince Charles has one or two Jewish people who he trusts and these are the people, combined with the right approach and a peaceful situation in Israel, who can make it possible.” Read more ..


The Edge of Terrorism

NY Times Article Accuses Israel of Often Killing ‘Tunnel Workers’

May 31st 2012

Smuggling Tunnels

Journalist Ruqaya Izzidien spent time in the smuggling tunnels running between Egypt and the Gaza Strip, and recently published an article about the experience in the New York Times.  Izzidien, who has written numerous articles for the Muslim Brotherhood’s English-language website, claimed in the NY Times that  ”the Israeli government views the tunnels as an illegal smuggling route and often targets them in airstrikes, which usually trap and kill workers.”

An Israel Defense Forces spokesman stated that the idea that they target these tunnels on a regular basis is “patently false”, and when the tunnels are targeted, it’s because they’re being used to smuggle illegal weapons.

“In the limited instances when tunnels are targeted, it is because they are used for terror purposes, such as smuggling in the increasingly complex weapons that have expanded the rocket range to over one million Israeli civilians,” Captain Eytan Buchman of the IDF said.  ”The tunnel ‘industry’ facilitated this rapid expansion, increasing the range of the rockets ten-fold in under a decade.” Read more ..


Israel and Palestine

What Happened to “Close Settlement”?

May 31st 2012

Settlement

No Israeli policy is more incessantly vilified than settlement in Judea and Samaria, the biblical homeland of the Jewish people. Nonetheless, ninety years of international law sustains it.

In 1920 the League of Nations, building on Lord Balfour’s Declaration three years earlier, adopted a resolution at San Remo calling for “the establishment in Palestine of a national home for the Jewish people.” The Mandate for Palestine, approved by the League Council two years later (and by the United States in 1924), assured “the establishment of the Jewish national home” there. The British Mandatory Administration, according to Article 6, “shall encourage . . . close settlement by Jews on the land.”

But where was “Palestine”? To placate the Hashemite sheikh Abdullah, Colonial Secretary Winston Churchill set aside the territory east of the Jordan River for the kingdom of Trans-Jordan. Reduced to one-quarter of its original size, Palestine now comprised only the land between the Jordan and the Mediterranean. There the right of close settlement by Jews remained protected under international law. Read more ..


Broken Labor

Lawmakers seek Legislation to Combat Labor Union Sabotage

May 31st 2012

Union Violence

With incidents of labor union officials and members advocating—and sometimes committing—acts of violence against businesses and non-profit organizations becoming so prevalent in the U.S., especially during disputes with management over benefits and pensions, the U.S. Senate and the House of Representatives are considering specific legislation.

On May 23, the U.S. Senate introduced S.3178, the Freedom From Union Violence Act of 2012, which would amend the Hobbs Act of 1951 to authorize imposition of a fine of up to $100,000, 20 years’ imprisonment, or both for obstructing, delaying, or affecting commerce or the movement of any article or commodity in commerce by robbery or extortion (or attempting or conspiring to do so), and threatening physical violence to any person or property in as part of a plan to interfere with commerce by threats or violence.

However, S.3178 provisions would be inapplicable to conduct that is incidental to otherwise peaceful picketing during the course of a labor dispute, consists solely of minor bodily injury, or minor damage to property, or threat or fear of such minor injury or damage, and is not part of a pattern of violent conduct or of coordinated violent activity. Such conduct would be subject to prosecution only by the appropriate state and local authorities. The House had introduced a similar billin February titled, H. R. 4074, the Freedom From Union Violence Act of 2012. Both amendments were introduced by GOP lawmakers.   Read more ..


Iran's Nukes

Iranian Negotiations Could Be Explosive

May 31st 2012

Iran Nuclear Equipment

Negotiations over Iran’s nuclear program between Iran and six major powers — the permanent members of the United Nations Security Council and Germany (the P5+1) — began Wednesday in Baghdad against a backdrop of converging and intersecting factors.

First, there is the standing violation by Iran of international legal prohibitions respecting the development of a nuclear weaponization program. In particular, Iran continues to violate a series of UN Security Council resolutions involving repeated demands for complete and comprehensive suspension of Iran’s enrichment related, reprocessing and heavy water activities — as well as repeatedly violating its obligations under the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty by denying the IAEA permission to openly inspect their facilities.

Second, there is compelling evidence — particularly that which has emerged from the international nuclear monitor — the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) — that Iran’s nuclear program is, in fact, a nuclear weaponization program. As international expert Anthony Cordesman recently concluded after an examination of IAEA reports, “Anyone who concludes that Iran is not yet pursuing a nuclear weapons program is deluding themselves.” Read more ..


The 2012 Vote

Karl Rove's Grand Slam

May 31st 2012

Karl Rove

It is far too early to predict the election returns for November. Forecasts today are subject to dramatic change based on events yet to happen, but:  If the election were held today I now believe Mitt Romney and the Republicans would win it because more of their voters would be motivated to vote and more of their large donors are motivated to donate. Romney would win the White House with a narrow victory. Democrats would gain House seats but fall short of regaining control. Even if Senate Democrats retain nominal control they would not be able to pass significant legislation without the permission of ever-filibustering Republicans. At least one of the liberal Supreme Court justices is likely to leave before the end of the next president's term, and if that president is Romney, the right could control the court for a generation.

I believe these outcomes would be a disaster for America. I will do what I can to oppose them in columns and in a 5,000-word e-book I am writing that will put the consequences of the election in brutally stark terms that I hope will energize supporters of the president and Democrats. But I believe today that the most likely outcome is a Romney victory, and warn the president and all Democrats of the grave consequences of the current enthusiasm gap among large donors and grassroots voters.

Which brings me to Karl Rove, who has inspired the wealthy donors of the ideological right, the Republican Party and many of the most corrupted and powerful special interests who will donate between $1 billion and $1.5 billion before the carnage of this campaign is fully done. The inability of Democrats to play in the same league as Karl Rove financially is a humiliating debacle that might be unprecedented, measured by comparing wealthy donors of one party to wealthy donors of the other, in the history of presidential politics. This parallels an enthusiasm gap of voters that creates what I believe is the current Republican edge in the election. Read more ..


The 2012 Vote

The Politics of Fear vs. the Politics of Hope

May 31st 2012

Barack Obama Israel speech

Within 24 hours over the holiday weekend, Democrats could read two starkly different messaging strategies for President Obama’s reelection campaign.

On Monday, May 28, Memorial Day, John Heilemann’s New York magazine article was headlined: “For Obama & Co., this time it’s all about fear.”
 
The day before, New York Times columnist Thomas L. Friedman wrote a column headlined: “Obama Should Seize the High Ground.”

Heilemann wrote:  “Though the Obamans certainly hit John McCain hard four years ago running more negative ads than any campaign in history, what they intend to do to Romney is more savage. They will pummel him for being a vulture-vampire capitalist at Bain Capital. They will pound him for being a miserable failure as governor of Massachusetts. They will mash him for being a water-carrier of Paul Ryan’s Social Darwinist fiscal program. … ‘He’s the ’50s, he is retro, he is backward, and we are forward, that’s the basic construct,’ says a top Obama strategist. ‘If you’re a woman, you’re Hispanic, you’re young, or you’ve gotten left out, you look at Romney and say, ‘This “f--king guy is gonna take us back to the way it always was, and guess what? I’ve never been a part of that. … ’ “Thus to a very real degree, 2008’s candidate of hope stands poised to become 2012’s candidate of fear. For many Democrats, this is fine and dandy, for they believe that in the Romney-Republican agenda there is plenty to be scared of.” Read more ..


The 2012 Vote

Bain is Fair Game for Obama

May 31st 2012

mitt romney

The Obama campaign’s attacks on Mitt Romney’s tenure at Bain are not attacks on free enterprise, capitalism or even private equity. 

Capitalism did not require Bain to issue debt that GS Steel could not afford to repay, mainly to put money in the pockets of Bain partners. Capitalism did not require Bain to take tens of millions in profits while workers lost their livelihoods. Private equity is not to blame for the company underfunding its pensions system and sticking the government with the bill.

Capitalism does lead to “creative destruction,” in Schumpeter’s famous phrase. Free enterprise does entail risk and the freedom to fail. Private equity exists to make profits. None of that is inherently evil.
The critiques are not focused on the system or the process, or even the failures themselves. Everyone is entitled to some. Rather, the doubts revolve around the decisions Romney made and the values those decisions reflect. And if candidates’ decisions and values are not appropriate considerations in an election, nothing is.  Read more ..


The Battle for Syria

Syrian Leader Assad is Apparently Not on Obama's Hit List

May 31st 2012

President Bashr el Assad of syria
Syrian President Bashar al-Assad

President Barack Obama rejected a French-Saudi plan to assassinate Syrian President Bashar Assad, intelligence source DebkaFile reports.

Despite urging by the French president and Saudi king, Obama nixed the plan, saying American involvement in Syria's affairs would only heighten the conflict there.

Human rights groups estimate that more than 13,000 people have been killed in the year-long conflict, most of them civilians. Most recently, more than 100 Syrian civilians were killed when pro-Assad forces attacked the town of Houla. Forty-two children were among the dead.

According to DebkaFile:

Their plan was for the presidential palace situated atop Mount Qassioun northeast of Damascus to be devastated by French warplanes taking off from the Charles de Gaulle aircraft carrier off Syria’s Mediterranean coast and Saudi and United Arab Emirates bombers flying in through Jordan.

They would bomb the palace for 12 hours in several sorties while at the same time American fighter jets launched from a U.S. aircraft carrier cruising in the Mediterranean or Red Sea would shut down Syria’s air defenses, which are considered among the most sophisticated and densely-arrayed in the region. U.S. warplanes would also keep the Syrian Air Force grounded and prevented from repulsing the incoming bombers. Read more ..


The Digital Edge

Link Between WikiLeaks And Hacker Group Revealed

May 31st 2012

Hacker's Hand

With the U.K. Supreme Court to rule on May 30 on whether WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange can be extradited to Sweden over rape and sexual-assault claims, a new book has revealed a damning link with a hacker collective that could undermine Assange's previous claims that WikiLeaks doesn't solicit information.

"We Are Anonymous," a new book from Parmy Olson, the Forbes London bureau chief, about the shadowy world of hackers, has shed some light on the connection between WikiLeaks and hacker group LulzSec. Olson details how, in June 2011 when Assange was holed up in the English countryside, he sent out tweets supporting LulzSec. According to Olson, he quickly deleted those tweets as "he didn't want to be publicly associated with what were clearly black hat hackers." Read more ..


Oil Addiction

Oil-Rich Nigeria Soon to Become Africa's Leading Economy

May 31st 2012

Nigeria Oil

Nigeria is currently on record as Africa’s second-largest economy, and one of the fastest growing economies on the continent and in the world. However, it is only a matter of a year or two before Nigeria becomes Africa’s largest economy. Presently it is roughly equal to South Africa.

Nigeria is expected to rebase its economy in 2012 in order to provide an accurate measure of its actual size. When neighbouring Ghana rebased its economy in 2010 it was found to be 60% larger than had previously estimated jumping from USD 18 to USD 31 billion. Nigeria is expected to have a similar jump once the rebase is completed this year. Rebasing adds different weighting on sectors that have changed over the last 30 years.

In Nigeria the telecommunications industry, banking industry, and real estate and infrastructure sectors will receive different weights due to the growth in these sectors over the last few decades. According to Renaissance Capital, Nigeria could eclipse South Africa by 2014 and is presently likely to be roughly equal in size already at over USD 400 billion.

According to projections by Price Waterhouse Coopers, Nigeria not only will be the largest African Economy in the next few years but will also eclipse major European Economies like Italy and Spain by 2050 and become one of the top 20 largest economies in the world. Read more ..


Islam on Edge

Muslims Demand DOJ Intervention in Tennesee Court that Halted Mosque project

May 31st 2012

No mosque in Murfreesboro

The Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR) on May 30 demanded that Attorney General Eric Holder and the U.S. Department of Justice protect the religious liberties of Muslims after a Tennessee judge's ruling prevented a mosque to be completed as a result of public outcry in Murfreesboro.

The judge ruled that proper public notice was not given for the May 2010 meeting that approved the site plan for the Islamic Center of Murfreesboro, near Murfreesboro, Tenn. He seemed to base his ruling on the fact that anti-Muslim bigots were able to manufacture a controversy over the construction of the mosque, the site of which has been the target of hate vandalism, said CAIR officials after the ruling.

"American Muslim constitutional rights should not be diminished merely because anti-Muslim bigots are able to manufacture a controversy about what would otherwise be normal religious activities," said CAIR Staff Attorney Gadeir Abbas. "If the Rutherford County Planning Commission does not immediately issue new permits for the mosque, we urge the Department of Justice to intervene in this case to support the religious rights of Tennessee Muslims," he stated in a media release on May 30. Read more ..


Edge of Terrorism

Serial Bomber of Arizona, Like other Terrorists, Leaves a Signature

May 31st 2012

FBI Joint Terrorism Task Force

A small improvised explosive device (IED) detonated at a Salvation Army distribution center in Phoenix, Ariz., on the afternoon of May 24. Two Salvation Army employees discovered the explosive device, which was concealed inside a yellow, hand-held 6-volt flashlight, as they were sorting through a box of donated items. The IED exploded when one of the employees picked up the flashlight and attempted to turn it on. The blast was not very powerful, and the two employees suffered only minor injuries.

This was the third incident in the Greater Phoenix area in recent weeks involving an IED concealed in a flashlight. Two explosive devices very similar to the May 24 IED exploded May 13 and May 14 in Glendale, Ariz., a city in the Greater Phoenix metropolitan area.

Both devices were abandoned in public places. In the May 13 incident, a woman discovered a yellow, hand-held 6-volt flashlight next to a tree outside a Glendale business. When the woman picked up the flashlight and attempted to turn it on, it exploded, causing minor scratches and bruises to her face and hands. It also inflicted minor wounds to a woman beside her. The next day, a man found an identical flashlight in a ditch where he was working in another part of Glendale. He was lightly injured when the flashlight exploded as he attempted to turn it on. Read more ..


Edge of Eugenics

Republican Fire Back 'War on Women' Charge at Democrats concerning Sex-Selective Abortion

May 31st 2012

US Capital Day

The Republican author of a bill to ban sex-selective abortion called out the "Asian immigrant community" for allegedly contributing to an increase in the practice in the United States. The remarks from Rep. Trent Franks (Ariz.) came as opponents of abortion rights seek to volley a "war on women" charge back at Democrats over the issue. "A number of academic papers have now published evidence that the practice of sex-selection abortion is demonstrably increasing here in the United States, especially but not exclusively in the Asian immigrant community," Franks said during a floor debate on May 30.

Franks went on to describe an academic study published in 2011 in the journal Prenatal Diagnosis that concluded that data on third births and beyond in U.S. Chinese, Asian Indian and Korean communities "strongly" suggests prenatal sex selection in favor of male children. The research was conducted by staff at the University of Connecticut Health Center in Farmington, according to a copy obtained online.

Franks cited another study he said "discussed in detail the multiple forms of pressure and outright coercion" some immigrant women suffer from family members related to a cultural preference for sons. "Sex selection abortion is extreme violence against unborn baby girls and their mothers," he said.

The World Health Organization has called sex-selective abortion an "increasing cause of concern" in countries such as India and China, which has a one-child policy. Read more ..


Counting Palestinians

State Department Affirms Support for 5 Million “Palestinian Refugees”

May 31st 2012

Sen. Mark Kirk

In the wake of a Senate amendment requiring the United States to quantify how many Palestinians receiving U.S. aid were displaced after the Israeli War of Independence and how many are only descendants of such refugees, a State Department official told The Cable that the U.S. considers the descendants to be actual refugees.

U.S. Sen. Mark Kirk’s amendment, which unanimously passed the Senate Appropriations Committee May 24, has been strongly opposed by the State Department. Deputy Secretary of State Tom Nides, in a letter to U.S. Sen. Patrick Leahy (D-VT), said Kirk’s amendment “would be viewed around the world as the United States acting to prejudge and determine the outcome of this sensitive issue.”

Nides affirmed the State Department’s view on the number of Palestinian refugees by emphasizing in his letter that the UN and Works Agency for Palestinian Refugees in the Near East (UNRWA) “provides essential services for approximately 5 million refugees,” The Cable reported. Read more ..


The 2012 Vote

Democratic National Convention Delegate chosen from Council on American-Islamic Relations

May 31st 2012

Hussam Alyoush
Left to right: Hussam Alyoush, Munira Syeda, Ameena Mirza of CAIR.

The Executive-Director of the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR) Greater Area of Los Angeles Area chapter, Hussam Ayloush, has been elected as a delegate to the Democratic National Convention. CAIR was labeled as an "unindicted co-conspirator" by the federal government in the trial of the Holy Land Foundation, a charity shut down for financing Hamas. On July 1, 2009, District Judge Jorge Solis upheld the label, ruling that the government provided "ample" evidence tying CAIR to Hamas.

On April 29, Ayloush announced on his Twitter page that he was elected as a DNC delegate for California's Congressional District 42. The California Democratic Party's website has the results of the delegate caucuses, confirming Ayloush's victory.

CAIR's roots are in the Muslim Brotherhood, specifically its Palestine Committee that was secretly set up in the U.S. to support Hamas. In 1993, the FBI wiretapped a Palestine Committee meeting in Philadelphia that included two future founders of CAIR, Nihad Awad and Omar Ahmad. Also present was Shukri Abu Baker, the leader of the aforementioned Hamas front called the Holy Land Foundation. At that time, Awad and Ahmed led the Islamic Association for Palestine, another Muslim Brotherhood front (according to the Brotherhood's own documents) with extensive ties to Hamas. Read more ..


The Medical Edge

One Size Does Not Fit All Diabetics with High Blood Pressure

May 31st 2012

nurse w/stethoscope

Aggressive efforts to lower blood pressure in people with diabetes are paying off – perhaps too well, according to a new study.

The research shows that there have been dramatic improvements in blood pressure control among patients with diabetes in the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs, with as many as 82 percent of patients having blood pressure controlled and 94 percent getting appropriate BP treatment.

However, given the dramatic rise in control, as many people now may be getting over-treated with blood pressure medications as are being under-treated.

That suggests it might be time to reconsider the current one-size-fits-all approach to blood pressure control, and turn to a new model that adjusts the blood pressure goal according to the individual, say a team of researchers from the VA Ann Arbor Healthcare System and the University of Michigan Health System.

Modern healthcare electronic record systems should help make this possible, they say, because blood pressure, prescription and other health data on individual risks such as heart disease or balance problems can all be combined. Read more ..


The Medical Edge

'Lean Thinking' Techniques from Auto Industry boosts Surgeons' Teamwork

May 31st 2012

Face Transplant Surgery

For a year and a half, the University of Michigan Health System turned one of its head and neck surgery practices into a laboratory.

The goal: to see if ‘lean thinking’ techniques pioneered by the auto industry could be applied to the operating room in ways that simultaneous improved service for patients as well as improve overall efficiency.

The answer was a resounding, “Yes.”

Turnaround time between surgeries fell by more than 20 percent, while measurements of morale, teamwork and effective problem solving rose. The number of cases finishing after 5 p.m. which requires paying costly overtime was cut in half.

“The efficiencies should not only to enable us to reduce waiting times for patients scheduled to have elective procedures, but our results showed staff from scrub nurses to anesthesiologists are more empowered and teamwork has risen to new heights,” says surgeon Carol Bradford, M.D., chair of the U-M’s Department of Otolaryngology and the study’s senior author. Read more ..


Edge of Computing

New Mathematical Model Appears to Pick Hit Music

May 31st 2012

Online music purchasing

In 2004, a trio of researchers at Columbia University began an online experiment in social-media marketing, creating nine versions of a music-download site that presented the same group of unknown songs in different ways. The goal of the experiment was to gauge the effect of early peer recommendations on the songs’ success; the researchers found that different songs became hits on the different sites and that the variation was unpredictable.

“It’s natural to believe that successful songs, movies, books and artists are somehow ‘better,’” one of the researchers wrote in The New York Times in 2007. “What our results suggest, however, is that because what people like depends on what they think other people like, what the market ‘wants’ at any point in time can depend very sensitively on its own history.”

But for music fans who would like to think that talent is ultimately rewarded, the situation may not be as dire as the Columbia study makes it seem. In a paper published in the online journal PLoS ONE, researchers from the MIT Media Laboratory’s Human Dynamics Lab revisit data from the original experiment and suggest that it contains a clear quantitative indicator of quality that’s consistent across all the sites; moreover, they find that the unpredictability of the experimental results may have as much to do with the way the test sites were organized as with social influence. Read more ..


The Edge of Space

There's More Star-Stuff Out There But It's Not Dark Matter

May 31st 2012

gaseous ring on star

More atomic hydrogen gas—the ultimate fuel for stars—is lurking in today’s Universe than we thought, CSIRO astronomer Dr Robert Braun has found. This is the first accurate measurement of this gas in galaxies close to our own.

Just after the Big Bang the Universe’s matter was almost entirely hydrogen atoms. Over time this gas of atoms came together and generated galaxies, stars and planets—and the process is still going on. Astronomers want to understand where, when and how the atomic gas is transformed to better understand the Universe in which we live.

By taking a new look at some archival data, Dr Braun, Chief Scientist at CSIRO Astronomy and Space Science in Sydney, Australia, has discovered that galaxies around us are hiding about a third more atomic hydrogen gas than previously calculated. The study also shows that the gas is distributed very differently from how it was in the past, with much less in the galaxies’ outer suburbs than billions of years ago. “This means that it’s much harder for galaxies to pull the gas in and form new stars,” Dr Braun said. “It’s why stars are forming 20 times more slowly now than in the past.” Read more ..


The Edge on Fitness

New Research Shows Runners Can Improve Health and Performance With Less Training

May 31st 2012

walking on beach

The new 10-20-30 training concept can improve both a person's running performance and health, despite a significant reduction in the total amount of training. This is the conclusion of a study from University of Copenhagen researchers just published in the renowned scientific Journal of Applied of Physiology. Over the course of seven weeks, runners were able to improve performance on a 1500-metre run by 23 seconds and almost by a minute on a 5-km run – and this despite a 50 per cent reduction in their total amount of training. These are just some of the results from a research project involving 18 moderately trained runners following the 10-20-30 training concept developed by researchers from the Department of Exercise and Sport Sciences at the University of Copenhagen.

In addition to enhancing running performance, the runners from the project also had a significant decrease in blood pressure and a reduction in cholesterol in the blood. "We were very surprised to see such an improvement in the health profile considering that the participants have been running for several years," says Professor Jens Bangsbo, Department of Exercise and Sport Sciences, who heads the project. "The results show that the very intense training has a great potential for improving health status of already trained individuals," says Professor Bangsbo. Read more ..


The Edge of Climate Change

Greenland's Current Loss of Ice Mass

May 31st 2012

Click to select Image

The Greenland ice sheet continues to lose mass and thus contributes at about 0.7 mm. per year to the currently observed sea level change of about 3 mm. per year. This trend increases each year by a further 0.07 mm. per year. The pattern and temporal nature of loss is complex. The mass loss is largest in southwest and northwest Greenland; the respective contributions of melting, iceberg calving and fluctuations in snow accumulation differing considerably. This result has been published by an international research group led by the GFZ German Research Centre for Geosciences in the latest issue of Earth and Planetary Science Letters, 1 June 2012. The result was made possible by a new comparison of three different types of satellite observations: measurements of the change in gravity by changes in ice mass with the satellite pair GRACE, height variation with the laser altimeter on the NASA satellite ICESat and determination of the difference between the accumulation of regional atmospheric models and the glacier discharge, as measured by satellite radar data. Read more ..


The Medical Edge

Innovative Solar Retinal Implants May Give Sight to the Blind

May 31st 2012

Eye biometrics

Using tiny solar-panel-like cells surgically placed underneath the retina, scientists at the Stanford University School of Medicine have devised a system that may someday restore sight to people who have lost vision because of certain types of degenerative eye diseases.

This device, a new type of retinal prosthesis, involves a specially designed pair of goggles, which are equipped with a miniature camera and a pocket PC that is designed to process the visual data stream. The resulting images would be displayed on a liquid crystal microdisplay embedded in the goggles, similar to what's used in video goggles for gaming.

Unlike the regular video goggles, though, the images would be beamed from the LCD using laser pulses of near-infrared light to a photovoltaic silicon chip — one-third as thin as a strand of hair — implanted beneath the retina. Electric currents from the photodiodes on the chip would then trigger signals in the retina, which then flow to the brain, enabling a patient to regain vision. Read more ..


The Way We Are

‘Monitoring the Future’ Receives $35 Million to Continue For Another Five Years

May 31st 2012

Brain Waves

“Monitoring the Future,” one of the largest and longest-running studies of American youth, as well as of college students and young adults, will receive a $35 million award to continue for another five years. “Monitoring the Future: A Continuing Study of the Lifestyles and Values of American Youth” (MTF) began 37 years ago with funding from the White House and the National Institute of Drug Abuse (NIDA), and it has received continuation funding from NIDA (one of the National Institutes of Health) since then. The project is conducted annually at the U-M Institute for Social Research (ISR).

Because MTF is an investigator-initiated research project, the investigators must submit renewal proposals every five years, which then are evaluated by a committee of their peers. “Every five years we do our best to make the case that this scientific study is worth its considerable cost,” says Lloyd Johnston, the principal investigator. “But to some degree it’s a crapshoot because of the way reviewers are chosen. Every committee has a different composition. Further, the competition for research monies is severe.” The new awards will total $35 million, making MTF one of the largest, if not the largest, investigator-initiated research study supported by any of NIH institutes.
Read more ..


The Obama Edge

Obama Admininistration Seeks to Declare Arab Americans a "Disadvantaged Minority"

May 31st 2012

Arab American National Museum
Arab American National Museum

The Commerce Department is considering naming Arab Americans a socially and economically disadvantaged minority group that is eligible for special business assistance. The American-Arab Anti-Discrimination Committee (ADC) petitioned Commerce earlier this year to ask that Arab Americans be made eligible for the Minority Business Development Agency (MBDA), which helps minority entrepreneurs gain access to capital, contracts and trade opportunities.

The ADC petition cited “discrimination and prejudice in American society[,] resulting in conditions under which Arab-American individuals have been unable to compete in a business world.” The group claimed discrimination against Arab Americans increased after the terrorist attacks of Sept. 11, 2001. “The ADC petition asserts that, in the government’s efforts to protect Americans, they essentially took away the rights of other Americans,” according to the notice of proposed rulemaking about the petition. Commerce is asking for comment about whether there is social and economic discrimination against Arab Americans, along with examples of it occurring. Read more ..

The Edge of Terrorism

“Holy Warriors” Terror Plot to Abduct Israeli Citizen Uncovered by Shin Bet

May 31st 2012

IDF Smuggler Tunnels

A plot to kidnap an Israeli citizen and use that person as a bargaining chip for the release of Palestinian convicts, has been uncovered by the Shin Bet, Israel’s internal security service. The Holy Warriors Battalion, a terrorist group with links to Hamas, and has been involved in rocket and gun attacks on Israeli soldiers and civilians in the past, was behind the plan, which according to Israeli media outlets, originally came into being while the suspects were in jail together.

A number of the suspects are currently serving life sentences in Israeli prisons, including Assad Abu Sharia, who is from the Gaza Strip and is the group’s leader. An operative of the Holy Warriors Battalion named Ramzi Azar, received instructions from another terrorist, Mohammed Baraka Amur to form a group to carry out the abduction. Read more ..

The Automotive Edge

Automatic Road Train Tested on Public Roads

May 31st 2012

Highway

After having carries out extensive trials on special sites, the SARTE consortium now tested its technology on a public road. A road train comprising three passenger cars plus one truck automatically driving in convoy behind a lead vehicle has operated on a public motorway in Spain among other road users. The test was in Spain successful, the consortium said.

Vehicle platoon tests in the SARTRE (Safe Road Trains for the Environment) project - a joint venture between Ricardo UK Ltd, Applus+ Idiada, Tecnalia Research & Innovation, Institut für Kraftfahrzeuge Aachen (IKA), SP Technical Research Institute, Volvo Technology and Volvo Car Corporation - are making progress. One major step forward was taken last week on a motorway outside Barcelona - the first-ever test drive of a road train among other road users. The convoy drove 200 kilometres in one day. "The test turned out well. We're really delighted," says Linda Wahlström, project manager for the SARTRE project at Volvo Car Corporation. Read more ..


The Edge of Health

Unchecked Dust Explosions Kill, Injure Hundreds of Workers

May 31st 2012

emergency room

Small fires were a part of the job at the Hoeganaes Corp. metal powder plant 30 miles northeast of Nashville. By early 2011, some workers later told investigators, they had become practiced in beating down the flames with gloved hands or a fire extinguisher. The company’s own product fueled the fires. Scrap metal rolls into the rust-colored plant on the town’s industrial periphery and is melted, atomized and dried into a fine iron powder sold to makers of car parts. Sometimes, powder leaked from equipment and coated ledges and rafters. Under the right conditions, it smoldered.

Wiley Sherburne, a 42-year-old plant electrician, sometimes told his wife how this dust piled up everywhere, she recalled. On quieter weekend shifts, he said he could hear the telltale popping sound of dust sparking when it touched live electricity. Read more ..


The Edge of Music

Chicago Gears Up for Annual Blues Festival

May 31st 2012

Koko Taylor
Koko Taylor

Chicago, Illinois is gearing up for one of its most celebrated events of the year: the Chicago Blues Festival which runs from June 8 - 10. Blues fans from around the world will descend upon Grant Park in downtown Chicago for three free days of acoustic and electric blues by mostly-hometown musicians. You can count on the city’s very own Lil’ Ed & The Blues Imperials to showcase their new album, Jump Start” with tunes like “World Of Love.

The weekend’s offerings will salute some of Chicago’s blues legends. On tap are tributes to vocalist Koko Taylor, singer and guitarist David “Honeyboy” Edwards and guitarist Hubert Sumlin. There will also be a celebration of Muddy Waters’ disciples Pinetop Perkins, Willie “Big Eyes” Smith and George “Mojo” Buford. Waters’ son Mud Morganfield will lead the all-star tribute to some of his dad's best-known band members who passed away in 2011.

Also scheduled on one of five festival stages are: a “Blues in the Schools” concert; panel discussions on legendary bluesmen Howlin’ Wolf and Lightnin’ Hopkins; five bands competing in the “Chicago Blues Challenge”; esteemed guitarists Lurrie Bell and Joe Louis Walker; and blues and gospel singer Mavis Staples. Read more ..


El Salvador on Edge

Los Angeles Gang Workers Praise El Salvador Truce

May 31st 2012

Cocaine guns and dollars

A gang truce mediated by the Catholic Church in El Salvador has dramatically reduced gang-related killings in the Central American country since it was implemented in March. Those who work with gang members in the United States support the fragile agreement and hope to reduce the lure of gangs in both countries. El Salvador and neighboring Honduras, which are plagued with gangs, have homicide rates 10 times the global average.

The gang truce in El Salvador has reduced the murder rate, and brought concessions from authorities for better treatment of gang leaders in prison. Police suppression and deportations in the 1990s also brought down the murder rate as many immigrant gang members were returned to their home countries. Executive director of the group Homies Unidos, Alex Sanchez, works to get young people out of gangs. The one-time gang member was deported in 1994 and saw the gangs take hold in his native El Salvador. “The common people were really afraid of us. But then you had kids that were troubled attracted to us. So all these kids that were troubled in El Salvador were attracted by this gang thing,” Sanchez said. Read more ..

Counting Palestinians

UNRWA Reform

May 31st 2012

Palstinian refugee camp

For years we have been part of a small cadre of determined individuals who saw clearly the damage being done by UNRWA -- the UN Relief and Work Agency for Palestinian Refugees. Damage to prospects for peace in this region, and damage directly to Israel. There is so much wrong with this agency that it's impossible to document it all in this post. Suffice it to say the following:

UNRWA is the only international refugee agency in the world dedicated to one group of refugees -- the Palestinian Arab "refugees." All other refugees are tended to by the UN High Commission for Refugees. And what's astounding is that UNRWA's rules for "its" refugees are different from the rules for all those other refugees.

UNHCR works to get refugees resettled as quickly as possible -- even if the only alternative is settling them permanently in the place to which they had fled or to a third place -- so that they might get on with their lives. Read more ..


The 2012 Vote

Bloomberg Endorses Rangel in New York

May 30th 2012

Charley Rangel

New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg (I) has endorsed Rep. Charlie Rangel (D-N.Y.) – giving the longtime congressman a high-profile boost in his difficult reelection bid. "I'm proud to join with [former Democratic New York Mayor] Ed Koch and so many others in endorsing Charlie Rangel," Bloomberg said in a statement released by Rangel's campaign.

"For more than four decades, he has delivered for New York City time and time again. We've had six very different mayors during his tenure in Congress, but we all shared one thing in common: When the city needs results in Washington, you pick up the phone and call Congressman Rangel." Koch, for his part, cited Rangel’s military service and said he had been a champion for New York’s interests on Capitol Hill.

"I have worked with Charlie Rangel since 1963," Koch said in the statement. "He served the country heroically in the Korean War and he has served New York City very well in Congress. He needs our help, let's do it!" Rangel, who was first elected in 1970, is facing a tough primary challenge in New York’s 15th Congressional District from New York state Sen. Adriano Espaillat (D).

So far, the two biggest Democratic surrogates have stayed out of the race. President Clinton, who lives in the district and backed Rangel during his competitive 2010 primary, has remained on the sidelines because one of Rangel's other rivals was a former top aide at the Clinton foundation. Read more ..


The Race for Wind

Obama Administration Hits Chinese Wind Energy Tower Exports with New Tariffs

May 30th 2012

Wind Farm

The Commerce Department made a preliminary decision Wednesday to impose new tariffs on imports of wind energy towers from China, the latest volley in an escalating trade war between the two superpowers over expanding green technology markets.

The move by Commerce also reflects a show of strength by the Obama administration against China at a time when presumptive GOP presidential nominee Mitt Romney has criticized the administration for going soft.

Commerce’s International Trade Administration — responding to a petition from U.S. wind tower manufacturers — said a group of Chinese producers and exporters has received production subsidies ranging from roughly 14 to 26 percent that warrant new U.S. tariffs of the same extent.The preliminary subsidy determination covers utility-scale steel towers that support wind turbines with electric power generation capacity greater than 100 kilowatts.

“As a result of the preliminary affirmative determination, Commerce will instruct U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) to collect a cash deposit based on these preliminary rates,” Commerce said in a summary of the decision to impose preliminary tariffs. Commerce plans to make a final decision in August. The United States imported an estimated $222 million worth of the wind towers from China last year, according to Commerce.  Read more ..


The Battle for Syria

Obama Can No Longer Hide Behind the U.N.’s Failed Efforts in Syria

May 30th 2012

Bombing Hits Syria March 18 2012

The United States joined many Western nations in expelling Syrian diplomats yesterday in a coordinated reprimand of the Syrian government, which has stepped up its bloody repression of its own people. Britain, Canada, France, Italy, Germany, the Netherlands, Spain, Switzerland, and Australia also joined a growing list of countries that have expelled Syrian diplomats.

The expulsions came after the U.N. Security Council on Sunday condemned the massacre of at least 108 Syrians, including 49 children and 34 women in Houla, a bastion of support for the Syrian opposition.

Former U.N. Secretary-General Kofi Annan met with Syrian dictator Bashar al-Assad yesterday and expressed “grave concern” about the escalating violence. Annan desperately is seeking to salvage his own increasingly irrelevant “peace plan” that Assad ostensibly agreed to six weeks ago, but still has failed to implement. The Annan plan’s illusory cease-fire unfortunately gave the Assad regime cover to continue its campaign of intimidation. Read more ..


The Medical Edge

Why Leukemia Often Beats Chemo

May 30th 2012

Child with leukemia

The fight against cancer is not won in a single battle: long after a cancer has been beaten into remission, it can return. The reason for this is under debate, and much is unclear. New research led by Weizmann Institute scientists shows that, at least for one type of blood cancer, the source of cancer recurrence is in a set of cells that do not proliferate as quickly as regular cancer cells, and thus are able to survive chemotherapy. The findings, which appear in the journal Blood, have some important implications for the future of the war on cancer.

Cancer involves a breakdown in the mechanism that regulates the pace of cell division. When this happens, cells divide rapidly, leading to unchecked growth that overruns the body. The most common chemotherapy drugs are those which specifically attack cells that are undergoing rapid division, and these, indeed, often destroy all the cancer and cure the patient.

But there are also quite a few leukemia patients who go through chemotherapy only to have the cancer return. Why does this happen? Several explanations have been proposed. Read more ..


The Edge of Justice

Liberia's Taylor Sentenced to 50 Years for War Crimes

May 30th 2012

Charles Taylor

 Former Liberian president Charles Taylor has been sentenced to 50 years in prison for aiding and abetting horrific war crimes committed during Sierra Leone's civil war. Both defense and prosecution are expected to appeal the sentence by an international court in The Hague.  Taylor is expected to serve any jail term in a British prison.

Dressed in a dark blue suit and yellow tie, Taylor listened somberly to his sentence that was read by presiding judge Richard Lussick. "Mr. Taylor, for the forgoing reasons, the trial chamber unanimously sentences you to a single term of imprisonment of 50 years for all the counts on which you have been found guilty," said Lussick.

Last month, the Special Court for Sierra Leone found Taylor guilty on 11 counts of aiding and abetting rebels who killed, raped and mutilated thousands of people during Sierra Leone's civil war. He is the first African leader to be convicted by an international court and, more generally, the first head of state to face such a conviction since World War II. Read more ..


The Edge of Justice

WikiLeaks' Founder Assange Loses Extradition Case in Britain

May 30th 2012

Julian Assange

Britain's Supreme Court has ruled that Julian Assange, the Australian founder of the controversial website WikiLeaks, can be extradited from Britain to Sweden to face charges of rape and sexual assault. Two former WikiLeaks volunteers are Assange's accusers.

Wednesday's 5-2 decision by the high court upholds earlier decisions made by two lower courts to extradite the 40-year-old Assange, who is wanted in Sweden on a European arrest warrant for questioning over allegations that he raped one woman and sexually assaulted another in 2010. The court rejected arguments by Assange's lawyers that the warrant is invalid because the prosecutor had no legal authority to issue it.

"The majority has concluded that the Swedish public prosecutor was a judicial authority, within the meaning of both the framework decision and the extradition act," said British Supreme Court president Nicholas Phillips. "It follows that the request for Mr. Assange's extradition has been lawfully made and his appeal against extradition is accordingly dismissed.'' Read more ..


Korea on Edge

U.S. General Muses on HUMINT and Stirs the Pot in the Korean Peninsula

May 30th 2012

Kim Jong-Un

A U.S. Army general has stirred controversy this week about comments about American and South Korean military operations in the North. The U.S. military is denying reports that the head of U.S. special operations in South Korea acknowledged that American and South Korean commandos operate covertly in North Korea.

There are concerns about the ramifications of what the leader of the U.S. special operations command in South Korea said at a panel discussion in Tampa, Florida, on May 22.

Brigadier General Neil Tolley, to an audience of hundreds of people at the Special Operations Forces Industry conference, discussed the challenges the United States faces determining what is inside North Korea's many secret tunnels.

Freelance combat reporter and technology writer David Axe was among those listening to the general. "He was describing the utility of human intelligence on the ground in North Korea. He was describing it as though it were actually happening right now," said Axe. "He since has walked that back to say that he was speaking hypothetically, although he didn't say at the time he was speaking hypothetically."

Another person who attended the panel discussion said he heard the same thing and a partial transcript corroborates Axe’s recollection. Read more ..



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